A bill has been introduced in the Texas Legislature that if enacted would strip the salary of any Texas-government employee who issues a marriage license to a same-sex couple.
Known as House Bill 623, the recently introduced bill declares that no state funds will go to the distribution of gay marriage licenses.
As a lifetime educator, one of my many prayers for 2015 is that people of faith in America will more fully engage in public education and turn the public conversation about high education standards away from political wrangling to focus on improving educational outcomes for all. Lost in 2014's criticism of what became known as "Common Core" was that normed, higher standards are already working, and that they hold promise for a brighter educational future for all of God's children, especially economically disadvantaged ones.
Fifteen years ago, I was teaching hundreds of students each semester in one of colleges' classic "gatekeeper" courses, English 101. The stakes were and are high: If you do not pass, you cannot move forward in your degree plan. The scholastic domino effect is as predictable as it is inexorable, and I watched in helpless frustration as many students failed my course because they were ill-prepared for the rigors of college work. Many tumbled out of higher education, the door to success slamming on some forever.
In addition, I watched as some of our areas best high school students won scholarships to prestigious universities, but when they arrived, they realized that a 4.0 GPA in and of itself was no guarantee of collegiate success. They realized that high schools that were truly "preparatory" relied on high academic standards that were tested for their efficacy to ensure student success. It was clear educational outcomes varied dramatically from state to state and even within individual states and districts. Proverbs 20:10 echoed in my mind, "Unequal weights and unequal measures are both alike an abomination to the LORD" (ESV). more >>
Liberals are hypocrites and cowards, some conservatives (and Bill Maher) are saying, for (among other things) claiming to be defenders of the freedom to engage in offensive speech in light of the Islamic extremist attack on Charlie Hebdo while continually seeking to censor speech they consider offensive.
Liberals have exalted Charlie Hebdo, a satirical French newspaper, after the attack at the paper's headquarters that left 12 dead. "Je Suis Charlie," (French for "I am Charlie") was a common refrain and hashtag from many quarters.
Even as liberal news outlets argued for the freedom of speech, they ironically continued to self-censor Charlie Hebdo. Many decided not to show audiences the images that led radical Muslims to kill those who offended them. When some of those outlets claimed the decision was done out of respect for religion, conservatives were quick to point out the double standard. more >>
Now that the U.S. economy is showing signs of life, President Obama is not wasting a moment to take credit for this recovery.
"The steps we took nearly six years ago to rescue our economy and rebuild it on a new foundation helped make 2014 the strongest year for job growth since the 1990's," he said in a recent speech.
For sure we can expect the president to continue this message in his upcoming State of the Union address, as he works to rebuild his credibility, thinking toward his final two years in office and his place in history. more >>
In the aftermath of the murder of 12 French journalists at the hand of Islamic terrorists, liberal leaders have revealed the extraordinary depth of their anti-conservative animus to the point of absurdity and beyond.
Consider the following statements, all of them made on Wednesday:
1) The Islamic terrorists are no different than Rev. Jerry Falwell! Appearing on "Now with Alex Wagner" on MSNBC, Eric Bates, Executive Editor of First Look Media, said: "I think we also have to remember that this isn't just Islamic extremism. If you go back to the '80s – during the Reagan administration – when Jerry Falwell sued Hustler Magazine for portraying him having – I believe it was drunken incest with his mother in an outhouse – again, in a visual form – and won a $150,000 court case against Hustler for that. It was overturned by the Supreme Court, I think, eight-to-zero. So, you know, religious fundamentalists of all stripes and of nationalities have this penchant to say, we want to be able tell you what you can and can't portray." more >>
The Islamist massacre at Charlie Hebdo has understandably captured global attention because it was a barbaric attack on France and freedom of expression. In a moment of defiant moral clarity, "je suis Charlie" emerged as a popular phrase of solidarity with the victims. Hopefully such clarity persists and extends to those facing similar challenges every day in the Middle East.
Christians and other religious minorities have been victimized by Islamists for years, but it wasn't until U.S. journalist James Foley was beheaded that the West cared. ISIS raped and slaughtered thousands of Yazidis -- leaving the surviving refugees stranded on Mount Sinjar -- before the West took notice. But one Islamist besieging a cafe in Sydney, killing two, captured the world's attention until the incident ended.
Western leaders and media must realize that religious minorities in the Middle East are the canary in the coalmine for the West when it comes to Islamist threats. And Israel provides the clearest early warning of all, precisely because -- despite Israel's location in a region of Islamists and dictatorships -- the Jewish state has free elections, freedom of speech, a vigorous political opposition and independent press, equal rights and protections for minorities and women (who are represented in all parts of civil, legal, political, artistic, and economic life), and a prosperous free market economy. more >>