As I lead a church and Christian daycare with multiple employees, I am looking carefully at the health benefits we should provide, including the impact of Obamacare. Most people are now willing to admit that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is not a perfect law. Maybe any law with well over 11 million words is bound to have some problems. But while most of the attention has understandably gone to the millions of Americans who are losing their health coverage or their doctors, the problem of the ACA's assault on religious liberty still looms large.
From the very beginning, Catholic leaders raised concerns about the regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), charged with implementing the healthcare law. These require employers to pay for contraceptive services, including drugs that can potentially induce abortion. There is currently debate over whether both the birth control pill and the so-called "morning-after pill" should be classified as abortifacients. Some claim they merely prevent ovulation and/or fertilization, while others note that they also make the endometrial lining of the uterus hostile to a fertilized ovum.
Regardless, all contraceptive drugs are a violation of Catholic conscience. Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae, written in 1968, clarified the Catholic view that children are a blessing and should be welcomed by married couples. Catholic leaders are not asking the federal government to ban contraception; they are simply asking to be exempt from paying for it or being complicit in its distribution. more >>
While the Olympics were taking place in Sochi, Russian president and autocrat Vladimir Putin was starting to invade Ukraine. Last Wednesday, Putin put 150,000 troops on high alert for battle near the border with Ukraine. On Saturday, the upper house of the Russian parliament (Duma), the Federation Council, unanimously approved Putin's request to use force in Ukraine and deploy additional troops to the Crimean peninsula.
Putin claims the troops are being sent there to stabilize the socio-political situation in the country. However, many believe that Putin is deliberately stirring up unrest, in order to justify sending in the military. Masked men dressed in black carrying AK-47s have been spotted in the streets, but it's not clear whether they are real protesters or a plant from Putin to create the appearance of a crisis.
Putin originally became Russian president as part of the new, non-communist era Russia, but has proven that he is not a real reformer, reverting to many of his KGB thug ways. Putin worked for the KGB for 16 years under communism. His grandfather was a cook for previous communist leaders Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin. Putin's father is described as a "model communist." Putin has said he spent the best part of his life with the KGB, which made it a difficult choice to leave the KGB when the organization turned on Soviet president and reformer Mikhail Gorbachev. more >>
Former GOP vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin predicted in 2008 that Russia might invade Ukraine if then-Sen. Barack Obama became president and "high-brow" Foreign Policy magazine mocked her for it.
But as concerns continue to mount over whether or not Russia intends to launch an assault on Ukraine's besieged new government, Palin is making no apology for her recent "Told-Ya-So" response to critics who dismissed her as a "stupid," "insipid woman" when she made the comments.
It is said if someone wants to understand a person's true priorities, just look at their checkbook. The late Fast and Furious star Paul Walker, who died in a car crash last November, is a good example. Walker had it all; with fame, fortune and good looks on his side, but that was not what defined him. Walker used his hard-earned money to make the world a better place through his humanitarian aid organization, Reach Out Worldwide, but his generosity did not stop there.
The story is told that some years back, he was in a Santa Barbara, California jewelry store and overheard a young soldier, Kyle, who had just returned from Iraq tell his fiancé, Kristen, he could not afford the ring she liked. Later, Walker called the store manager and put the ring on his tab. After his death, Kristen told CBS News Los Angeles the look on Walker's face "transformed" when Walker heard Kyle was an Iraq War veteran.
Walker's heart was in the right place. As the scripture goes, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." If only the same could be said about the priorities of the Obama administration which stores treasure in social programs at the expense of the active duty and retired veterans in my family and yours. more >>
A recent poll commissioned by the Family Research Council found that 61 percent of Americans agree that pastors and churches should challenge the Obama administration when religious liberty issues are at stake. That being the case, then why are so many pastors afraid to speak up on these issues from the pulpit?
The poll, conducted February 20-23 by the polling company, inc./WomanTrend, surveyed 1,000 people over the age of 18 and called both landline and cell phones. Of the 61 percent in agreement, 41 percent strongly agreed, compared to the 28 percent who disagreed. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.
The findings were presented during a press conference I attended at the National Religious Broadcasters annual convention in Nashville earlier this week and I was able to speak with three pastors who are in the trenches of the religious liberty battle. more >>
President Barack Obama on Friday issued a stern warning to Russia, saying any military intervention in Ukraine will be "deeply destabilizing" and involve "costs," after reports of Moscow's military movement inside the troubled former Soviet nation.
"We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside Ukraine," Obama said at the White House Friday. "It would be a clear violation of Russia's commitment to respect the independence and sovereignty and borders of Ukraine and of international laws."
Obama's warning came hours after Ukraine accused Russia of a "military invasion and occupation," according to The Associated Press. more >>