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Missouri Family E-News

May 8, 2012 

Federal Judge Rules in Favor of Mojave Desert Cross



A federal judge has ruled that a cross erected as a war memorial in the Mojave Desert can remain standing.  U.S District Judge Robert Timlin decided that the Congressional transfer of land on which the cross sits from the National Park Service to the Veterans of Foreign Wars is constitutional.


The cross was installed in the 1930's atop Sunrise Rock as a tribute to veterans of World War I.  The ACLU filed suit in 2003, arguing that the presence of the cross on federal land amounted to an unconstitutional establishment of religion.


The case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 2010 that the cross did not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.  The High Court sent the case back to the local federal trial court to rule on the legality of the land transfer.


Under the agreement, the National Park Service will receive five acres of land in the area, and the one acre surrounding the site of the cross will be deeded to the VFW post in Barstow, California.


During the many years that the case has been appealed, the cross was initially covered with a box.  Vandals then succeeded in tearing down the cross altogether.  The VFW now plans to restore it.


Hiram Sasser, director of litigation for the Liberty Institute, says the court ruling is a great victory.  "There are literally hundreds of veterans memorials across the country with religious imagery.  If this memorial had been struck down as unconstitutional, then all those other memorials would have been in peril."


Yet atheist groups aren't giving up.  The Freedom from Religion Foundation is demanding that the city of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, remove a cross from a local memorial honoring area soldiers who died in service to our country.


That memorial has been sitting in the parking lot of the Woonsocket Fire Station for 91 years.  The atheist group is also demanding that the Woonsocket Fire Department remove the "Firefighter's Prayer" from its website.


Woonsocket Mayor Leo Fontaine says he will not remove the cross "under any circumstances."                   


Christian Student Clubs to Leave Vanderbilt



Christian clubs at Vanderbilt University have decided to leave the campus rather than submit to new policies restricting their religious freedom.


University officials recently informed Christian student organizations that they could not require that their leaders be professing Christians.  Vanderbilt officials say such requirements violate the school's "non-discrimination" policies.   


One of the Christian student clubs was recently told that they would no longer be recognized as a valid student organization because of their policy that club officers have a "personal commitment to Jesus Christ."


Fox News reports that two Christian clubs will be moving off campus, and that nearly a dozen other Christian clubs have announced they will defy the ban on Christian credentials for their members.


"It just shows how radical the Vanderbilt administration has become in enforcing this policy,"  says Kim Colby, senior counsel for the Christian Legal Society's Center for Law and Freedom.  "These students just want to get together and worship God.  That's all they want to do."


Colby says it is clear that the university is targeting Christian student groups.  She points to the fact that campus fraternities and sororities are still allowed to have closed membership.   


"It shows the hypocrisy of Vanderbilt University,"  Colby remarks.  "They know they can pick on Christian groups and it won't affect their donors.  But if they go after fraternities and sororities they realize it might hit them in the pocket book."


Colby says the incident is one more example of the continuing demise of religious freedom in the United States.  "We used to have religious liberty--where people understood that religious groups having their religious leaders agree with their faith was not only permissible and protected, it was basic common sense."


The Tennessee General Assembly quickly passed legislation to protect the religious freedom of students campus organizations, but Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has sent signals that he may veto that bill. 


Congressman Akin Seeks to Ban Federal Abortion Funding in Obamacare

Missouri Congressman Todd Akin has introduced legislation which would restrict abortion coverage in President Obama's national health insurance law.  Representative Akin's bill would prohibit coverage of elective abortions in multi-state insurance exchanges which were authorized under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, regularly referred to as Obamacare.

Congressman Akin's bill, the Stop Abortion Funding in Multi-State Exchange Plans, otherwise known as the SAFE Act, has been co-sponsored by 60 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. 

President Obama's health care bill authorized the establishment of insurance exchanges in every state.  Policies sold by insurance companies through these exchanges would qualify for federal subsidies for low to moderate-income individuals.  The federal subsidies authorized in the law would inevitably lead to the funding of health insurance plans covering abortions.

In addition, the law requires that any insurance company offering abortion coverage through insurance exchange plans must collect an abortion surcharge.  The Obama Administration recently announced that the abortion premium will be $1 a month.  The law mandates that the abortion surcharge be collected from every policyholder in such plans regardless of the individual's age, gender, or physical condition.

President Obama's health insurance law allowed states to opt out of abortion coverage in the health insurance exchanges established in their states.  Missouri is one of several states that did so through legislation sponsored by Senator Scott Rupp of Wentzville.

However, the new federal law also authorized multi-state insurance exchanges.  It is expected that many major health insurance companies that have coverage areas spanning several states will choose to sell policies through multi-state exchanges.  State abortion opt-outs would have no affect on such multi-state exchange policies.  The only way abortion coverage can be halted in such multi-state plans is through an amendment to the President's health insurance law.  That's what Akin's bill attempts to do.

Charmaine Yoest, President of Americans United for Life, cheered Congressman Akin's efforts.  "The healthcare law signed by President Obama marked the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade.  But it is not too late to change course and prevent damage that the law will cause."

"We all remember the day in March of last year when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told Americans 'We have to pass the healthcare bill so that you can find out what is in it.'  What we have found is the law is a massive expansion of the taxpayers' involvement with the abortion industry," Yoest continues.

"We know that seven out of ten Americans do not want their tax dollars going to fund the abortion industry," Yoest adds.  "We call on Congress to pass the SAFE Act and protect the majority of Americans who do not want to be entangled with abortion in the healthcare law."

Prior to the passage of President Obama's health care law, federal law banned any taxpayer support of abortions through a statute known as the Hyde Amendment.  However, Obamacare skirted the provisions of the Hyde Amendment by establishing a new scheme of abortion subsidy. 

We commend Congressman Akin for taking a leadership role on this issue of grave concern for the pro-life community.  Regardless of the legality of abortion on demand, no citizen should be compelled to finance the killing of preborn children through their tax dollars.  While it will be extremely difficult to pass Akin's bill through the U.S. Senate, it is hoped that a new Congress next year will adopt this critical pro-life measure, and that a pro-life President will be in office who can sign it.

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