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Missouri Family E-News

July 29, 2014



ENDA Order
Threatens Religious Freedom


Religious leaders are strongly denouncing the latest executive order issued by President Obama to satisfy his "gay rights" allies.

The President announced last week that he was unilaterally revising federal law to require that all federal contractors adopt policies prohibiting discrimination based on "sexual orientation" and "gender identity."

Despite pleas from the religious community, Obama refused to include any religious exemption in his latest dictate.  As a result, a religious organization that contracts with the federal government to provide social services could be compelled to employ avowed homosexuals and "transgender" individuals.

Obama's action is an end-run around Congress to implement a portion of the so-called Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which has failed to win passage in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

In so doing, President Obama has added private homosexual behavior as a protected class in aspects of employment discrimination law along with involuntary characteristics such as age, race, gender, and disability.

Peter Sprigg, senior fellow at the Family Research Council, says that the executive order destroys the religious freedom of faith ministries who have moral objections to homosexual behavior.

"Religious faith is not simply a matter of intellectual affirmation but of active practice.  A religious organization which is denied the power to require its employees to conduct their lives in a way consistent with the teachings of their faith is an organization which is being denied the right to exercise its religion, period."

Kristen Waggoner, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, says the President's action is a "brazen" violation of the First Amendment.

"The Administration has declared that the only religious non-profit organizations it will do business with are those willing to line up with the Administration's doctrine and theology on sexual behavior."

"President Obama's latest actions demonstrate once again that the very government that the Constitution charges with protecting religious freedom is now the primary threat to religious freedom," Waggoner adds.

Sprigg says that Christian institutions and businesses will now be the subject of ongoing harassment and litigation.  "This order gives activists a license to challenge their employers, and expose them to threats of costly legal proceedings and the potential of jeopardizing future contracts."

"This level of coercion is nothing less than viewpoint blackmail that bullies into silence every contractor and subcontractor who has moral objections to homosexual behavior."  

                                                 
VBS Camp
Off Limits for Military Unit

 

Members of a Christian church in Jasper County are aghast after military officials banned National Guard soldiers from being honored by the church's summer youth camp program.

 

Each year pastors at Bible Baptist Church in Carthage sponsor a Vacation Bible School for area kids.  Each day of the camp students are exposed to individuals in authority who serve the nation, state, and community.

 

Emergency responders are invited on Monday, the fire department on Tuesday, and the local Sheriff's Department on Wednesday.  On Thursday, students were slated to pay tribute to the National Guard.

 

Pastor Kent Hogan was stunned when National Guard officials rejected the invitation.  Hogan says he was told that if National Guard officers and equipment were on the church property, "it would look like the National Guard was sponsoring the Baptist religion."

 

Area State Representative Mike Kelly attempted to intervene on behalf of the church with National Guard officials.  He was told that Army regulations prohibit any participation that would "selectively benefit" any religious sect or sectarian group.

 

Several members of the National Guard anonymously shared their disgust with Todd Starnes of Fox News.  "We had a lot of disappointed kiddos because the Guard is unwilling to allow a Humvee and a few soldiers to spend an hour at a Baptist Church," one said.  "It makes me wonder what I'm actually fighting for."

 

"I will never understand why it's okay for the military to march in a gay pride parade but not be allowed to spend an hour talking to children who look up to them as soldiers," said another Guardsman.  "I honestly thought I'd never see the day that this would happen in my hometown."

 

Pastor Hogan says he is still flabbergasted by the incident.  "We are a very patriotic Church.  We love America.  We love this country.  They said they didn't want to offend anybody.  Well, they offended our whole Church."    

 

 

  

Listen to the Broadcast Version of the Jeff City Update online at 
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Common Core Rewrite Signed into Law by Governor Jay Nixon

  
The controversial Common Core educational standards may be subject to complete or partial overhaul in Missouri under legislation signed into law by Governor Jay Nixon.  Under the bill endorsed by the Governor on July 14th, a null process is set in place over the next two years which will result in replacement, modification, or reaffirmation of the Common Core educational program.

The systematic re-examination of the Common Core standards is the result of a bill filed by State Representative Kurt Bahr of O'Fallon.  The final version, Conference Committee Substitute #2 for House Bill 1490, was the byproduct of strenuous and extended negotiations between legislative leaders, representatives of teachers' unions and school boards, and opponents of the Common Core agenda.

"The Common Core standards are untested and unproven," says Representative Bahr.  "We need more evidence that they will improve the education of our children.  The wiser course of action would be to know what we are getting into before we sign up our children for this experimental system.  This new law creates a framework to make sure our state standards are written by Missourians for our state, for our schools, and for our students."

Under the scheme established by the new law, the State Board of Education is required to establish work groups of "education professionals" by October 1st of this year.  The work groups are charged with developing recommended academic performance standards in the subject areas of English language arts, mathematics, science, and history and governments.

Each work group will be composed of seventeen members selected from teachers' organizations, school boards, school administrators, and active "education professionals."  Appointments will be made by the State Board of Education, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House, and President Pro Tem of the Senate.  Four parents of children enrolled in the public schools must be included in each work group.  Separate work groups will be established for grades kindergarten through five and grades six through twelve.

The new law requires each work group to submit recommended academic performance standards for their subject area and grade levels to the State Board of Education by October 1st of 2015.  The State Board is then required by law to adopt and implement new academic performance standards for the 2016-2017 school year.  The State Board could choose to modify the Common Core standards in large or small measure, junk them altogether, or readopt them in their entirety.

The furor over Common Core in Missouri was instigated by Governor Jay Nixon in the summer of 2009.  Nixon unilaterally acted to enlist Missouri in the national Common Core consortium.  The Common Core standards were pioneered by the National Governors Association in conjunction with the Council of Chief State School Officers.  The State Board of Education, which is appointed by the Governor, formally voted to adopt the Common Core standards later that year.

Critics of Common Core have sharply attacked the competency and objectivity of private parties who formulated the benchmarks for academic performance.  Social conservatives have accused the authors of constructing the standards with a liberal ideological bias.  Teachers' unions have objected to rigid instructional objectives that require them to once again tailor their classroom material to the expectations of standardized tests.

Regardless of very different views about educational philosophy and academic purposes, educational interest groups share one overriding opinion.  They believe that the educational standards used in Missouri schools should be developed by Missouri educators, not private national corporations who have no accountability to anyone, least of all those who have to make the standards work.

In our view, the most significant part of the new law is a section that received little attention or debate.  Missouri law now prohibits either the State Board of Education or the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education from mandating the curriculum, textbooks, or other instructional materials to be used by local public school districts.  Each school district is free to approve and adopt a curriculum of its own choosing and determine the textbooks to be used by students in that district.

Some would argue that this freedom is of limited value if textbook publications and curriculum models will all be rewritten to reflect national Common Core prescriptions.  Yet the law still empowers local school boards and school administrators to innovate as they so choose to formulate an educational program targeted to the unique instructional needs of the patrons of that district.

Gretchen Logue of the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core cheered the outcome.  "This puts the writing and crafting of Missouri standards back in the hands of Missouri educators and parents.  It brings transparency to the process which we didn't have before."

The final version of Representative Bahr's bill was given final approval by the Missouri House by a vote of 135-10.  The bill won approval in the Missouri Senate by a vote of 23-6.  It will take effect on August 28th.  You can read the actual text of the new law by using this link:
HB 1490 

We commend Representative Bahr for his leadership and perseverance on this issue, and Senators John Lamping, Ed Emery, and Ryan Silvey, who were major proponents of Common Core reform in the Senate.  Senate Education Commitee Chairman David Pearce and House Education Committee Chairman Steve Cookson were also key players in the resolution of this issue.

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