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Baptist Army Chaplain Faces Punishment for Religious Beliefs

Army Chaplain Scott Squires, who has faithfully served the Army for 25 years, is facing a possible “career-ending punishment” for refusing to conduct a marriage retreat that included a lesbian couple. Squires refused because it would not only go against his religious beliefs, but also the rules of his sponsor, the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board.

So Squires tried to accommodate the same-sex couple by following Army protocol: He arranged for another chaplain to oversee the event. Unfortunately, the Army didn’t agree with Squires’ solution. A report from the military investigator explained, “The Army EO policy states that no service will be denied to any member of the Armed Service regardless of race, color, national origin, gender, religious affiliation, or sexual orientation.”

But First Liberty Institute, a religious liberty law firm representing the chaplain, believes the Army isn’t being fair. “Chaplains should not have to give up their First Amendment rights in order to serve,” First Liberty Institute attorney Mike Berry declared.

What does Squires have to say about this? “[T]he investigator concluded that I should be reprimanded for doing something I’m required to do under Army regulations and my endorser’s rules. I hope the Army sees that I was simply following Army regulations and the tenets of my church.”

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Trump’s Ban on ‘Transgenders’ in Military on Hold Until Trial

President Trump’s ban on “transgenders” serving in the Armed Forces has been put on hold again.

Trump first talked about a ban last year through a tweet that had no legal authority. However, in August he directed the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security to conduct extensive research to uncover the effects of “transgender” service members on military effectiveness. The research concluded, among other things, that individuals who are transitioning or want to transition should not be eligible to serve in the military. On March 23,  Trump sent a memo to the DOD and Homeland instructing them to implement policies that support these findings.

But on Friday of last week, U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman ruled to keep in place the injunction she had previously issued until a trial, saying it’s unclear whether recent changes to his administration’s policy are constitutional.

While it isn’t certain exactly how Pechman might rule at the trial, she does show LGBT sympathies. She said, “Because transgender people have long been subjected to systemic oppression and forced to live in silence, they are a protected class. Therefore, any attempt to exclude them from military service will be looked at with the highest level of care.”

However, Heritage Foundation legal expert Alden Abbott suggested, “Because individuals suffering from significant medical difficulties drive up costs and tend to impair combat effectiveness, it is perfectly rational to bar them from military recruitment.”

The date for the trial has not been set yet.

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California Assembly Passes ‘Radical’ SOCE Law

California has taken a unique, and some say “extraordinarily radical” approach to laws prohibiting sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE).

Increasingly, state Legislatures are considering bills to prohibit any type of therapy aimed at assisting individuals to overcome unwanted feelings of same-sex attraction. However, the California Assembly took it to the next level yesterday by passing AB 2493.

The bill amends the state’s consumer fraud protection statute to declare that any transaction that intends to result in the “sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer” that involves “advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual” is unlawful. Violators could be subject to lawsuits including punitive damages.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Matt Sharp explains that this could extend to a pastor who “encourages a congregant to visit the church bookstore to purchase books that help people address sexual issues, perhaps including the Bible itself, which teaches about the importance of sexual purity within the confines of marriage between a man and woman.”

The bill now goes to the state’s Senate for consideration.

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American Citizen Refuses to Pay Taxes Over Planned Parenthood Funding

In light of tax week, here’s an interesting story. Michael Bowman of Columbia City, Oregon, opposes taxpayer funding of abortion so much that he has refused to pay taxes since 1999.

He told CBN News recently, “First, I would love to pay taxes so as to have a normal life; however, our government is using the tax dollars to fund Planned Parenthood, which commits abortions-the death of the innocent,” Bowman said. “Apparently, a woman has the right to choose, but evidently, I do not.”

He suggested a solution the IRS could follow: Put a checkbox on the tax form for contributions to Planned Parenthood. “Then, just like any church or charity,” said Bowman, “Planned Parenthood will be funded by those that have no problem with it, and the 150 million people like me that are pro-life, can pay their taxes and live knowing we kept our conscience clean.”

Bowman is facing federal misdemeanor charges of willful failure to file tax returns.

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National Day of Prayer May 3

The National Day of Prayer has been part of America’s history since 1952 when it was first signed into law by President Harry S. Truman, and it is slated again this year for May 3. The theme of the 2018 National Day of Prayer is unity, based on Ephesians 4:3, which says, “Making every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.”

As quoted in a recent Tennessee Governmental Prayer Alliance email, the president of the event, Ronnie Floyd, who is also pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, notes the critical need for prayer. “America needs God now more than any time in our generation,” says Floyd. “America is broken. Division is undeniable and unity is missing. Racial tension is alarming. Lawlessness abounds. Reconciliation appears impossible. Government cannot fix us. Politics will not heal us.”

There will be prayer events around the nation on May 3 culminating with a live-streamed prayer service later that evening at 7:30 p.m. (Eastern) at the U.S. Capitol.

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