On Watch in Washington March 11, 2015
March 11, 2015
President Obama’s winding path on same-sex marriage reached a major new milepost Friday when his administration told the Supreme Court that the Constitution does not allow states to prohibit gay couples from marrying.
The filing’s bold language — “these facially discriminatory laws impose concrete harms on same-sex couples and send the inescapable message that same-sex couples and their children are second-class families” — captures the enormous shift Obama has made since he first sought the presidency in 2007.
After endorsing same-sex marriage nearly two decades ago, and then rejecting that idea eight years later, Obama has made expanding LGBT rights a hallmark of his domestic policy agenda. Casting it as the next chapter of the civil rights movement, the president has used language to reframe the public debate over sexual orientation and gender identity and his executive authority to expand federal benefits and protections for these Americans.
But the president’s legal strategy has been more complicated. His administration announced in 2011 that it would not defend the constitutionality of the key section of the Defense of Marriage Act that excluded gay couples from federal marriage benefits. In a 5-to-4 decision in 2013, the Supreme Court agreed.
At the same time, the administration stopped short of asking the justices to strike down all state prohibitions on same-sex marriage. That is the question the court will decide this term, with oral arguments scheduled for April 28.
The government’s brief this time is unequivocal that all state restrictions must end. It says that restrictions on gay marriage violate the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and calls on the court to recognize that sexual orientation is a characteristic — like race or gender — that deserves special protection.
“In Loving v. Virginia, this court applied the ‘most rigid scrutiny’ under the Equal Protection Clause to invalidate state laws banning interracial marriage,” said the brief filed by Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. “There is similarly no reason to water down the otherwise appropriate level of scrutiny here.”
The brief draws heavily on the court’s DOMA decision, U.S. v. Windsor. The reasoning of that decision has led courts across the country to strike state bans on gay marriage. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit disagreed and upheld restrictions in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. It is that decision the Supreme Court will review.
Since taking office, the president has repealed the U.S. military’s practice of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which allowed for the expulsion of service members based on their sexual orientation; banned discrimination against LGBT Americans in the federal civilian workforce and among federal contractors; and has advanced the legal understanding that prohibitions on sex discrimination also apply to acts based on an individual’s gender identity.
White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, who has played a key role in shaping the administration’s approach to gay rights, said in an interview before the filing, “We fight discrimination in every way we can.”
“We are delighted with the fact that when the president took office, same-sex marriage was legal in two states, and it is now legal in 37 states and the District of Columbia,” she said.
Obama has consistently advocated for greater legal rights for same-sex couples, although he has changed his position on same-sex marriage at points in his career. As an Illinois state senate candidate, he endorsed the idea in a 1996 questionnaire with an LGBT Chicago newspaper, a comment his aides later said was written by a campaign aide and not representative of his views. While running for U.S. Senate in 2004, Obama said marriage should be between only a man and a woman.
By December 2010, the president said his opinion on the matter was “constantly evolving,” and in May 2012, days after Vice President Biden surprised the White House by declaring that he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriage, Obama publicly endorsed it as well.
Most of the president’s allies had suspected for years that he backed the concept of same-sex marriage but was hesitant to embrace it in public for fear of losing support among African Americans.
Obama told BuzzFeed in an interview last month that he had made a distinction between his personal feelings and policy position. “I always felt that same-sex couples should be able to enjoy the same rights, legally, as anybody else, and so it was frustrating to me not to, I think, be able to square that with what were a whole bunch of religious sensitivities out there.”
Both he and Michelle Obama used the phrase that everyone “should be able to marry the person they love” in their stump speeches, a line that former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau said “often got some of the biggest applause” on the 2012 campaign trail.
On a more practical level, the administration has expanded benefits and safeguards for members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. Regardless of where they live, legally married same-sex spouses are now recognized for most federal and military benefits and can receive health-care coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Obama has appointed a record number of LGBT Americans to key senior administration posts, has nominated eight openly gay individuals to serve as U.S. ambassadors and has seated 11 openly-gay judges on the federal bench.
The administration’s brief was one of more than 70 filed with the Supreme Court supporting the couples in the four states and urging the justices to find that same-sex marriage should be available nationwide.
Among the supporters were GOP officeholders, religious leaders and more than 300 of the nation’s largest companies — including the Super Bowl champions New England Patriots and the World Series-winning San Francisco Giants.
Briefs on behalf of the states defending their laws and of their supporters will be filed in coming weeks. (Contributor: By Juliet Eilperin and Robert Barnes for The Washington Times – Juliet Eilperin is The Washington Post’s White House bureau chief, covering domestic and foreign policy as well as the culture of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She is the author of two books—one on sharks, and another on Congress, not to be confused with each other—and has worked for the Post since 1998. Robert Barnes has been a Washington Post reporter and editor since 1987. He has covered the Supreme Court since November 2006.)
Prayer focus: President Obama is only part of the issue here, though promoting a deviant position. He is who he is, and Americans twice have elected him to the presidency. He has proven to be elusive and “flexible” (to say the least) with his statements and on many positions. We know intercessors are praying for him and his family. Please continue to pray for salvation for the first family. The president is no more or less a sinner than others who need Jesus Christ for forgiveness, changed attitudes, and eternal life. Pray, too, for God’s mercy for our country, your church, and for the Church at large, as it is through His people that God will turn our nation back to Himself. Meditate on David’s prayer of contrition and repentance.
“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.” (Ps 51: 1-2, 6)
“He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” (Prov 28:13)
A week from Tuesday, on March 17th, millions of Israelis will go to the polls for one of the most consequential national elections of our times. We will be casting ballots for the political party of our choice, and in so doing choosing the makeup of the next Knesset (parliament) and our next Prime Minister.
As I’ve been traveling across the U.S. in recent weeks on The Third Target book tour, people have been asking me whether Benjamin Netanyahu will return as Prime Minister, particularly in the wake of his impressive but controversial speech to Congress.
The honest answer is: I have no idea.
There is a groundswell of “Anybody But Bibi” voters. Some 30,000 Israelis turned out the other night for a rally in Tel Aviv calling for Netanyahu to be defeated and removed from office. Most of the Israeli media hates Netanyahu and are doing everything they can to disparage and discredit him. The left-wing parties in Israel can’t stand Bibi and are throwing all they can at him. Some on the center-right have policy disagreements and/or personal frustrations with him in his ninth year as Israel’s premier. And President Obama’s top operatives are in Israel working to unseat the PM.
That said, polls show Israelis trust Netanyahu to be Prime Minister and to keep the country safe from Iran, ISIS and other threats significantly more than Yitzhak (“Bouji”) Herzog, head of the Labor Party, and Tzipi Livni, head of the Hatnua Party. (The two have formed the “Zionist Union” faction as the main opposition party to Bibi; if they come out on top, they have pledged that Herzog would serve as PM for two years, and then Livni for two years.)
What’s more, most Israelis feel that Netanyahu was right to go to the U.S. to speak about the Iran nuclear threat, and most do not trust President Obama to cut a good deal with Iran that would keep Israel safe.
“Asked whom they trust more to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat, 41% chose Netanyahu, while only 15% chose Obama, and a mere 6% chose Herzog,” noted Israel’s largest daily newspaper based on a new poll. “Some 46% of those polled said Netanyahu’s trip to Washington to address Congress was the right move, while 39% thought it was a mistake.”
At the moment, most polls show a dead heat between Netanyahu’s Likud Party and the Zionist Union, though one outlier poll yesterday showed Netanyahu’s team ahead by five seats.
It appears to be a jump ball between Netanyahu and Herzog. It could go either way. Thus, it is possible that Netanyahu could lose his position as PM this month, even as the showdown with Iran builds to a crescendo. I’m not predicting one way or the other, just trying to keep you up to speed.
Here’s the latest average of 12 Israeli polls conducted by 8 leading polling companies, according to a widely respected Israeli political analyst.
Zionist Union (Herzog/Livni) — 23.50
Likud (Netanyahu) — 22.83
Joint (Arab) List — 12.58
Yesh Atid (Yair Lapid) — 12.30
Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home/Naftali Bennett) — 11.91
Kulanu (Moshe Kahlon) — 8.25
Shas — 6.83
Yahadut Hatorah/UTJ — 6.66
Yisrael Beitenu (Avigdor Liberman) — 5.58
Meretz — 5.33
Yachad — 4.16
(Contributor: By Joel Rosenberg)
Prayer Focus: Conservative heroes and statesmen have frequently been disregarded and dropped by those who should be grateful. Primary examples: England’s treatment of Winston Churchill after WW2 and of Margaret Thatcher after she sided with the U.S. during the Cold War. Many Christians who support Israel believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu has acted courageously on behalf of his country’s interests — indeed, its survival. We believe, as Daniel did, that God raises up “kings” (national leaders) and puts them down. Pray for His determined will. Pray that God will be glorified and Israel will elect the leader and party to fulfill His purposes. Pray for Israel to turn to the Lord.
“Daniel answered and said: ‘Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.’” (Dan 2:20-22)
Readers of this column are familiar with my argument that a conservative tide is sweeping the country, contrary to the mainstream media. In the off-year elections of 2010 and 2014, the gains made by conservatives have been substantial in governors’ mansions and in state legislatures. To be sure, they have been substantial in Washington, too, at the House and Senate level, but I would argue that they have been more consequential at the state level. There, old conventions that have been in place since the left-wing 1960s are being heaved out and a clamor of protest is being heard from the evicted. It can only get worse.
Since the late 1960s, state universities have established departments and “learning” centers that have nothing to do with education and everything to do with advocacy for a certain narrow points of view — say, minority studies, feminist studies, advocacy for the poor, people with eating disorders, chronic bedwetters — that sort of thing. State governments also have allowed taxpayers’ dollars to be skimmed off into similar projects. Now state governments, recently taken over by conservative Republicans — possibly even by tea partyers — are closing down such boondoggles and provoking howls of indignation from the so-called aggrieved.
Last week North Carolina made national headlines when its board of governors — appointed by the Republican-controlled legislature — shut down the University of North Carolina School of Law’s Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity and two other so-called “academic centers.” The board claimed that the shutdowns occurred because the centers were not producing work that was useful to the state’s educational goals. As a matter of fact, it seemed to me that all they were producing was propaganda for the failed policies of the past. Why should North Carolinians pay for such propaganda mills as the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity and the other two bogus academic institutes, East Carolina University’s Center for Biodiversity and North Carolina Central University’s Institute for Civic Engagement and Social Change. Needless to say, when the board of governors met to announce its decision there were noisy demonstrators and not much civic engagement.
Educators at these North Carolina universities have been complaining about fanciful threats to academic freedom and the specter of political partisanship, but their complaints have come at an awkward time, particularly for the University of North Carolina. It claims to be one of the premier institutions of higher learning in the land, but a recently released study, “Cheated,” by Jay M. Smith and Mary Willingham, has come up with shocking findings, findings that do not put North Carolina’s bogus academic centers in a very good light.
According to the authors of “Cheated,” both of whom have been on the university’s faculty, during the past two decades the university has tolerated cheating, plagiarism and lax standards such as students taking fake courses — mostly basketball players and football players but also non-athletes. The center for this corruption was none other than the African and Afro-American Studies Department under professor Julius Nyang’oro and a department administrator. The book mentions basketball players at the University of North Carolina who could barely read at a third-grade level. Its wider point is that these students were cheated out of an education. They will never have a second chance at higher education and the vast majority will not go on to play in professional sports.
Other states are, of a sudden, giving close scrutiny to the boondoggles that have burdened their budgets over the years, for instance, Texas, where university regent Wallace Hall has braved the threat of prosecution to blow the whistle on serious corruption. After all, what is a Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity doing on a college campus, or an Institute for Civic Engagement? At the University of North Carolina, where reportedly star athletes are proficient in Swahili, some cannot read English at a grammar-school level. Is it not time to teach these Tar Heels to read and write while foregoing the Swahili at least until graduate school? (Contributor: By R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. for The Washington Times – R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the author most recently of “The Death of Liberalism,” published by Thomas Nelson Inc.)
Prayer focus: It is no secret that many university campus settings are in moral, social, and political crisis. Pray for Christian parents to have wisdom to prepare their children for campus environment and to choose the right college. We do not suggest that Christian colleges are free from risks, but statistics show that they are safer. Parents, are your children trained in how to protect themselves socially from predatory stalkers? Pray for a generation of young people to come forth with a grounded Christian worldview before going off to college. Pray for an awakened Church to preach and teach sound doctrine and not water down its message for popularity.
“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” (Col 2:6-7)
“… that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting…” (Eph 4:14)
Nigerian militant group Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in a new audio message believed to be recorded by the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau.
In the recording, a man identifying himself as Shekau vowed to follow Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and urged Muslims everywhere to pledge allegiance to the caliph, according to SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S.-based organization, USA Today reported.
“We announce our allegiance to the Caliph of the Muslims … and will hear and obey in times of difficulty and prosperity, in hardship and ease, and to endure being discriminated against, and not to dispute about rule with those in power, except in case of evident infidelity regarding that which there is a proof from Allah,” Shekau said in a tweeted message that went along with the video, according to The Associated Press.
The message, which was posted Saturday on Boko Haram social media accounts, was confirmed by Flashpoint Intelligence, a global security firm and NBC News consultant.
The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has not yet responded to the message, but Laith Alkhouri, director of MENA research and analysis at Flashpoint, said it is likely Boko Haram would be accepted.
“Boko Haram is not only one of the strongest groups to support ISIS, it’s also in [an] area ISIS has very little, if any, control,” Mr. Alkhouri told NBC News. “This gives ISIS the extra credibility and the additional territory to further its growth around the world.”
Rita Katz, director of the SITE Intelligence Group, added, “Boko Haram is now being elevated from a local jihadi group to an important arm of the Islamic State.”
On Sunday, hundreds of troops from Chad and Niger launched an offensive against Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria, CNN reported.
“Early this morning, troops from Niger and Chad launched ground and air raids against Boko Haram into Nigeria, and the operation is still continuing,” said a military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, CNN reported. “It is an intensive operation that is aimed at pulverizing Boko Haram and crippling their capability.”
Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language, is responsible for kidnapping hundreds of schoolgirls last year, killing thousands and causing nearly 1.2 million to flee northeastern Nigeria. (Contributor: By Jessica Chasmar for The Washington Times)
Prayer focus: Boko Haran goes in and out of news headlines depending on its most recent atrocious acts. This report is essentially saying “Terrorist group A has joined terrorist group B.” These separate identities all have a singular purpose, which is to bring murder and subjection to all non-Muslims. Pray for world opinion, including in the U.S., to reach the tipping point of indignation and righteous anger and take unified steps to say, “Enough!” We ask again, where is the World Court? Where is the United Nations?
“Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Rom 12:19)
“The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie, and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” (2 Thess 2:9-12)
Unintended pregnancies cost American taxpayers $21 billion each year, according to a new analysis released by the Guttmacher Institute. That averages out to a cost of about $366 per every woman of childbearing age in the U.S. Overall, more than half of U.S. pregnancies are unintended, and roughly 1-in-20 American women of reproductive age have an unplanned pregnancy each year.
Nationally there were 1.5 million unplanned births in 2010. Public insurance programs like Medicaid paid for 68 percent of those births. “On average, a publicly funded birth cost $12,770 in prenatal care, labor and delivery, postpartum care and the first 12 months of infant care; care for months 13–60 cost, on average, another $7,947, for a total cost per birth of $20,716,” the study found.
Both the rate and cost of unplanned birth vary considerably by state. As a percent of all births, unplanned births ranged from 31.8 percent in New Hampshire to 56.8 percent in Mississippi. Overall, states in New England and on the West coast had the lowest rates of unplanned birth, while Southern states had the highest.
In some states — Georgia, Mississippi and Oklahoma — more than 80 percent of unplanned births were paid for by public dollars. Georgia taxpayers spent nearly $1 billion on unplanned births in 2010, as did taxpayers in Illinois. California spent $1.8 billion, while unplanned births cost the state of Texas nearly $3 billion dollars in 2010.
If these numbers seem high, they could be a lot higher. Current investments in family planning services, like contraception, family visits and STD testing, save taxpayers $15.8 billion and prevent 760,000 abortions each year, according to a 2014 analysis in the Milbank Quarterly. Guttmacher estimates that expanding these services further could cut the cost of unintended pregnancies by an additional $15 billion.
(Contributor: By Christopher Ingraham for The Washington Post – Christopher Ingraham writes about politics, drug policy and all things data. He previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center.)
Prayer focus: We will say up front that we are suspicious of the motivation behind this article. The Guttmacher Institute is no friend of the unborn, as it works closely with Planned Parent on all fronts to justify abortion as the “answer” to an unplanned (read: unwanted) pregnancy. Are people to be so shocked at these costs that they will choose to abort the innocent child because he or she is unplanned? Is that the goal? We urge caution and prayer for the right outcome. Please pray as conscience directs. Analyze this article personally and perhaps do research to discover what is behind all this talk of “expense.”
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Gal 6:7-9)
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft was due to slip into orbit around Ceres for the first exploration of a dwarf planet. Unlike other orbit captures that require thruster firings to slow down, the latest event is ho-hum by comparison, unfolding gradually and automatically.
Since Dawn is out of contact with Earth during the encounter, flight controllers won’t receive confirmation until hours later.
“The real drama is exploring this alien, exotic world,” said mission chief engineer Marc Rayman at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the $473 million mission.
Once circling Ceres, Dawn will spend the next 16 months photographing the icy surface to determine whether it’s active today.
Ceres is the last and final stop for Dawn, which launched in 2007 on a voyage to the main asteroid belt, a zone littered with rocky leftovers from the formation of the sun and planets some 4.5 billion years ago.
Dawn earlier spent a year at Vesta exploring the Arizona-sized asteroid and sending back stunning close-ups of the lumpy surface before cruising onto the Texas-sized Ceres.
The double trips are made possible by Dawn’s ion propulsion engines, which provide gentle yet constant acceleration and are more efficient than conventional thrusters.
As Dawn approached Ceres, it beamed back puzzling images revealing a pair of shiny patches inside a crater – signs of possible ice or salt.
Scientists hope to get a better glimpse when the spacecraft spirals closer to the surface to study whether previously spotted plumes of water vapor continue to vent.
Dwarf planets lately have become the focus of exploration.
This summer NASA spacecraft – New Horizons – is set to make the first visit to Pluto, which was demoted to dwarf planet.
Dawn almost never made it out to the inner solar system. The mission endured funding-related project cancellations and launch delays before it received the green light to fly. (Contributor: By Alicia Chang for The Associated Press)
Prayer focus: While all knowledgeable Americans marvel at the precise genius of NASA engineering and guidance systems, intercessors should note that the primary basis of space exploration is a search for life or of “life precursors” (water, etc.) that will further support Darwin’s evolutionary theory. (See the reporter’s glib assertion in paragraph 6 about “the formation of the sun and planets some 4.5 billion years ago.”) Pray that God, in His mercy, might reveal phenomena “out there” so startling and inexplicable that the academic and scientific communities will be forced to consider “Intelligent Design.” Give thanks for the Christians in science and math who are presenting facts and asking questions Darwin’s conclusions cannot answer.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge.” (Ps 19:1-2)
“May you be blessed by the Lord, who made heaven and earth. The heaven, even the heavens are the Lord’s; but the earth He has given to the children of men.” (Ps 115:15-16)
New research regarding phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates) a known hormone disruptor found in hundreds of plasticized consumer products, adds to the growing scientific consensus of the public health danger they pose.
Analyzing data collected from 362 women, scientists at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health found that in pregnant women higher levels of the hormone hCG, which is targeted by phthalates, was correlated with an abnormality in anogenital distance in male babies. The higher the hCG in the mother’s blood, the shorter the distance between the anus and the scrotum in the male infants. Short anogenital distance is also strongly associated with lower sperm count in males.
“Our study is the first to show that hCG is a target of phthalate exposure in early pregnancy and to confirm previous findings that it is a critical hormone in male development,” epidemiologist Jennifer Adibi told the Endocrine Society Thursday at its annual meeting in San Diego.
Phthalates made big news in 2008 when the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that infants exposed to infant-care products, specifically baby shampoos, baby lotions, and baby powder, showed higher than normal levels of phthalates in their urine. Because they are known to disrupt hormones, several of them were severely restricted by Congress in children’s toys and certain child-care articles.
Nonetheless, various kinds of phthalates, which make plastic durable but flexible, are found in everything from raincoats to nail polish to vinyl flooring.
Last year at least three major studies raised concerns about the ubiquity of phthalates. In July, in the journal Environmental Health, scientists reported that infants with normal diets, especially diets high in whole milk, cream and poultry, consume double the amount of phthalates the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe. Phthalates are known to migrate into food in a variety of ways, including through plastic food-packaging, gloves used in the preparation of food, conveyor belts that carry food during the packaging process and through the tubing used to milk cows. Phthalates are also used in some printing inks and adhesive labels found on many food wrappers.
In November of 2014, scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health reported that because of phthalates in intravenous tubing, blood and fluid bags, premature babies can be exposed to 4,000 to 160,000 times the amount of phthalates considered safe.
And in December, researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health linked prenatal exposure to phthalates to a more than six-point drop in IQ score compared with kids with less exposure.
In another study whose findings were presented at Thursday’s Endocrine Society meeting, Canadian researchers found that phthalates in household plastic product as well as in the flame retardant coating on most furniture foam cushions, is associated with increased risk of autism. Rats exposed to phthalates showed behaviors similar to those seen in humans with autism spectrum disorders, including reduced social interactions and increased hyperactive movements. In general, male rats were more affected than females and demonstrated less maternal bonding than females.
Under the law, the Federal Drug Administration has no jurisdiction over cosmetic products and ingredients, including phthalates (with the exception of color additives), before they are sold to the public, and on its Web site the FDA says that it “does not have evidence that phthalates as used in cosmetics pose a safety risk.”
Also, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Human health effects from exposure to low levels of phthalates are unknown. Some types of phthalates have affected the reproductive system of laboratory animals. More research is needed to assess the human health effects . . . ” (Contributor: By Amy Ellis Nutt for The Washington Times)
Prayer focus: Conservative Americans treasure all remaining freedoms and do not relish additional government control. Yet we also realize that selfish profit motives in a fallen world can place the public at risk. Whether through ignorance or purposeful safety violations, some situations call for strict regulation for citizen safety. Pray that the U.S. Congress and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) might rise above lobbying pressures and “back home” interests. If you are a “concerned activist,” consider writing a letter to your representatives to about questionable products and risks.
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night…. The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” (Ps 1:1-3, 4-6)
Students and faculty gathered in the North Oval by the George Lynn Cross statue in response and watched a video of Sigma Alpha Epsilon members participating in a racist chant on a bus.
Attendees gathered in small circles and prayed, then they all joined together into one big circle for a large prayer. People prayed about the people affected by the video and asked for forgiveness for the ones involved in the incident.
“Don’t let the actions of a few people be indicative of an entire Sooner family,” one speaker in the prayer circle said.
Dillon Brown and his wife Sheyda Brown, both OU students, were the organizers of the prayer circle. Dillon Brown said that they both felt a need to gather God’s love in response to the events that transpired today.
“We were both just really broken,” Dillon Brown said. “Even though we aren’t black, hate hurts all.”
Sheyda Brown said she and her husband wanted to create a safe environment for people to express themselves about the video that was leaked on the Internet today.
“I had faith that God would do big things, and he did,” Sheyda Brown said. “People came and it was really inspiring to see… a bunch of people who didn’t know each other… get together and come together.”
After the group prayer circle, Dillon Brown instructed those at the event to pair up with another participant and “cover the campus in prayer.”
Many upstanding faces throughout the OU campus were present at the prayer circle, including the college of arts and sciences dean Kelly Damphousse, OU press secretary Corbin Wallace, and Student Government Association President Kunal Naik. Basketball players Isaiah Cousins and Frank Booker and football players Eric Striker and Charles Tapper attended as well.
One person with the group of students that included the athletes, who arrived later to the event, got the audience’s attention and told it to meet in the “academic center” dressed in “business casual” if they want to “help this cause.” Cousins said they were joining student advocacy group OU Unheard in its cause.
Unheard will demonstrate at 7:30 a.m. at the entrance of the North Oval tomorrow morning. OU’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter was disbanded by its national organization Sunday night as a result of the video leak. (Contributor: By Andrew Clark, Staff Reporter for The Oklahoma Daily)
WATCH VIDEO: <Click here!>
Prayer focus: This article demonstrates once again the power of prayer and God’s love over hatred and the evil spirit of racism. Give thanks that these prayer gatherings will show the OU student body, its faculty and other personnel, and the rest of our country that racial prejudice is arrogance at its worst. Pray for repentance and reconciliation and for OU to experience campus revival, with many conversions. Intercede for healing. Pray for Christian campus ministry organizations to take steps to show open hearts and open arms to people of all races and ethnicity, overcoming evil with good.
“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another, not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer…. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom 12:10-12, 17-18, 21)