A broad coalition of non-Catholic Christians as well as Jews has sent President Obama a letter protesting the new and narrower definition of “religious employer” for purposes of the exemption of the ObamaCare contraceptives mandate. Among the variety of organizations signing the letter were colleges, rescue missions, and religious schools — all of which would be required, under the definition now used by the Obama administration, to provide not only birth control but also abortifacient (abortion-inducing) drugs and sterilizations without a co-payment.
Twenty-one-year-old Sam Schmid (left) had an extra-special gift for his family, presented to them just in time for the Christmas holiday. Days after an October 19th car accident that left him in an apparently irreversible coma, and just as medical professionals were set to suggest that it might be time for his family to think about end-of-life options for him, the University of Arizona student amazed the medical staff and everyone else by responding to a simple command from his doctor. Two months later on Christmas Eve, instead of grieving for her son, Schmid’s mother was watching him take short steps with a walker, and even speak in brief, broken sentences.
The Pew Forum’s just released study Global Christianity: 2011 Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population, shows that at 2.18 billion adherents, or around a third of the world’s 2010 population of 6.9 billion, Christianity is still, by far, the predominant faith across the globe.
Officials at Travis Air Force Base in California decided days before Christmas that the nativity scene and menorah gracing the grounds of the military facility would stay, in spite of demands from a secular group that they must be removed. A secular grievance group called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) had threatened to file a lawsuit against the Air Force base unless the Judeo-Christian display, located in a high-traffic area of the base, was relocated to the base’s chapel grounds. A spokesman for the base said that the display has been a tradition for the past 17 years, with no complaints until this year’s assault by the MRFF.
A federal court in Minnesota ruled December 20 that the city of Duluth had no right to prevent two men from sharing the gospel with attendees at the city’s Bentleyville Tour of Lights, an annual Christmas festival. (See picture at left.)
Lately it seems that there is nothing more contentious or detestable to some people than the sight of a Nativity scene, regardless of the seasonal inspiration for its presence. At an Occupy Wall Street protest in Washington, D.C., for example, several people staged a live Nativity scene and bore a sign that read “Occupy Christmas,” provoking varying and bizarre responses from the rest of the crowd. Meanwhile, in Warren, Michigan, a group of atheists is threatening legal action if the local government does not agree to place an anti-God sign in the midst of Nativity scenes and Christmas messages.
Christopher Hitchens, the outspoken atheist columnist and author who took delight in ridiculing the Christian faith and its adherents, but who also shared a handful of the convictions many of them embraced, died December 15 of cancer at the age of 62. His death was announced by Vanity Fair, the magazine for which he had written since 1992.
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) challenging Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s proclamation of a Day of Prayer in her state. The Wisconsin-based atheist group had argued that the Governor’s proclamation violated the First Amendment’s supposed separation of church and state mandate. But Judge Roslyn Silver determined that there was no evidence that Brewer’s proclamations over the past two years were meant as anything other than an invitation for residents to voluntarily join her in prayer for the state and nation.