An 18-year-old Pakistani woman survived being shot twice and thrown in a canal by her family in an attempted honor killing for marrying the man that she loved.
"It is an honor-related incident," local police chief Ali Akbar told Reuters.
"The victim, Saba [Maqsood] ... married her neighbor Muhammad Qaiser for love five days ago against the wishes of her family. They took her to Hafizabad, shot her twice and threw her in the canal after putting her in a sack, presuming that she was dead."
Maqsood was apparently attacked by her father, uncle, brother and aunt and thrown into the waterway in the city of Hafizabad in Punjab province.
The woman survived, however, and was helped by two passersby after she regained consciousness and managed to struggle to the bank. She has wounds in her cheek and right hand, Akbar added.
"She is a brave girl. She came out of the canal and approached a nearby fuel station from where a rescue team rushed her to [a] hospital," he said.
The attack happened a little over a week following the honor killing of a pregnant Pakistani woman, who was stoned to death by nearly 20 members of her family, also for marrying a man against her family's wishes.
Farzana Parveen, the slain 25-year-old woman, is said to have beenthree months pregnant when her father, brothers, and other family members attacked her and her husband, before killing her with bricks in broad daylight.
The father, Mohammad Azeem, was arrested by police.
"I killed my daughter as she had insulted all of our family by marrying a man without our consent, and I have no regret over it," Police investigator Rana Mujahid quoted the father as saying.
While Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has condemned such honor killings and called for "immediate action" on these cases, polls on Pakistani attitudes have shown that a significant number do believe such killings can be justified.
A 2011 Pew Research Center survey found that 40 percent of respondents believe that to protect a family's honor, a woman who engages in premarital sex or adultery can be killed.
The survey did not, however, ask about children marrying without the consent of their parents, which was the case in both killings these past couple of weeks.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to stay a federal judge's decision overturning a state constitutional amendment approved by voters and requiring state recognition of same-sex marriage in Oregon while an appeal is processed.
In a one sentence order issued Wednesday, the highest court in the land denied the request by the National Organization for Marriage to stay the ruling last month allowing for gay marriages in the West Coast state.
"The application for stay presented to Justice [Anthony] Kennedy and by him referred to the Court is denied," reads the order in full.
In a statement released on the day of the order, John Eastman, Chairman of NOM denounced the Supreme Court's refusal to provide the stay.
"It's important to recognize that the Supreme Court has not decided the merits of the underlying issue. NOM has filed an appeal of the trial judge's decision to prevent us from intervening in the case to defend Oregon's marriage amendment," stated Eastman.
"That appeal is on track, with briefs due in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal in August and September, and oral argument sometime afterwards."
In November 2004, Oregon voters passed a ballot initiative called the Oregon Marriage Measure 36, which added a marriage definition to the state's constitution.
"It is the policy of Oregon, and its political subdivisions, that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or legally recognized as a marriage," read Measure 36, which passed with 56.63 percent of the vote.
Last year, four gay couples filed suit against the marriage amendment as part of the many lawsuits against various state marriage amendments across the United States.
In February, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum officially refused to defend the amendment, arguing that it violated the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause.
Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane struck down the marriage amendment in the Geiger v. Kitzhaber case. Unlike similar decisions in other states, McShane did not put a stay on his decision pending appeal.
According to the group Freedom to Marry, since Oregon has stopped defending the law, the state has become the 19th in the nation to legalize gay marriage.
In a statement released regarding the decision, Rosenblum expressed confidence that NOM will not be seen as having standing to defend the marriage amendment.
"Today's ruling, which, notably, came from the full United States Supreme Court, allows the celebrations of marriages of same-sex couples in Oregon to continue without interruption," said Rosenblum.
"I am confident that the federal district court's ruling denying NOM's 'last minute' motion to intervene will be upheld, as will Judge McShane's historic decision overturning Oregon's ban on same-sex marriage on the ground that it denies same-sex couples equal protection under the United States Constitution."
An order handed down by Colorado's Civil Rights Commission on a local Christian baker forcing him to undergo sensitivity training after he refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding citing his faith is "vague," "lousy" and pointless, says his lawyer.
Last Friday, the commission ruled that Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, could not refuse to bake cakes for gay weddings citing his Christian faith and ordered him to undergo sensitivity training.
In an interview with The Christian Post Wednesday, his lawyer, Nicolle Martin, said the sensitivity training was pointless, because her client does not discriminate against gays, and the order for sensitivity training, which became effective on June 2, cannot be seriously implemented because it is "vague" and "lousy."
"The [sensitivity] training is really for the entire staff and it's for him to conduct training for his staff. It's kind of vague. He just has to report that he's done it. It's very vague," said Martin, who lamented that the haphazard order was as a result of unqualified people sitting on the commission.
"This is the problem where a bunch of lay people are making decisions about someone's livelihood and other people's jobs where the state has decided, has told Mr. Phillips, you don't have any First Amendment rights," explained Martin.
"You must express our message, we are the investigator; we are the prosecutor; we are the judge; we are the jury. And this is what you end up with. A lousy order that is vague and lacking specificity," she added.
When asked why she did not seek clarification from the commission, Martin said she and her client were not allowed to speak.
According to Martin, Phillips is also required to keep a log of every person he refuses service and document the reason why and present that log to the commission on a quarterly basis.
"The order says he must report on any orders — whether it be a cake or a brownie or cookies — turned away and the reason for doing so," said Martin, who explained that the commissioners had, at one point, suggested that Phillips provide a log of every single transaction highlighting the sexual orientation of the customer.
"Even though the commission [had] suggested that he report on every single transaction and whether the customer was gay, the Attorney General reminded the commission that that would be illegal for Jack to ascertain a customer's sexual orientation," said Martin. "Thankfully, the order was clarified to say report quarterly on any celebrations or orders turned away and the basis for doing so."
CP reached out to the commission for comment Wednesday but did not receive a reply at the time of publication.
According to the commission's website, the bipartisan seven-member group of commissioners are citizens of Colorado appointed by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and confirmed by the state's Senate to serve voluntary four-year terms.
"They are selected from across the state to represent both political parties. Two represent business (one of whom represents small business), two represent government, and three represent the community at-large. At least four of the members are members of groups of people who have been or who might be discriminated against because of disability, race, creed, color, sex, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, marital status, religion or age," the website noted.
The commissioners are Katina Banks (D), chair; Raju Jairam (Un), vice chair; Diann Rice (Un); Marvin Adams (R); Heidi J. Hess (D); Dulce Saenz (Un) and A. Susie Velasquez (D).
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled Friday that the state's Anti-Discrimination Act doesn't allow a Christian cake maker to refuse to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple.
Jack Phillips, a Christian who owns Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., discriminated against a same-sex couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, by refusing to make a cake for their wedding ceremony in 2012, the state's seven-member Civil Rights Commission said in its decision, asking the bakery to change its long-standing policy.
"Any person doing business in Colorado has to recognize that they have to do business in an ethical and law abiding way and the law says you cannot discriminate," Denver Post quoted Raju Jairam, vice chairman of the commission, as saying.
Last December, a Colorado judge ruled that the Christian baker has to make cakes for such ceremonies as well as prove that he has done so. Attorneys of the Alliance Defending Freedom appealed the decision in January.
"Every artist must be free to create work that expresses what he or she believes and not be forced to express contrary views," said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. "The First Amendment protects our freedom to speak or not speak on any issue without fear of punishment by the government."
ADF will likely appeal the decision, Tedesco told CitizenLink.
The complainants said they were humiliated by the refusal.
"What should have been a happy day for us turned into a humiliating and dehumanizing experience because of the way we were treated," kwgn.com quoted Mullins as saying. "No one should ever have to walk into a store and wonder if they will be turned away just because of who they are."
However, Phillips defended his polite refusal, saying, "I'm a follower of Jesus Christ so you can say it's a religious belief, but I believe that the Bible teaches that that's not an OK thing."
"Religious freedom is undoubtedly an important American value, but so is the right to be treated equally under the law free from discrimination," said Amanda Goad, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. "Everyone is free to believe what they want, but businesses like Masterpiece Cakeshop cannot treat some customers differently than others based on who they are as people."
"The government should not force him to choose between his faith and his livelihood," said ADF Lead Counsel Nicolle Martin, "In America, we don't separate a person's creative expression from what he believes. Jack simply exercised the long-cherished American freedom to decline to use his artistry to promote a message with which he disagrees."
"I will stand by my convictions until somebody shuts me down," Phillips told the Post.
About two-fifths, 42 percent, of American adults believe those with same-sex attraction are born with the trait while more than a third, 37 percent, say that homosexuality is the result of upbringing and environment, according to the results of a Gallup poll released Wednesday.
When Gallup first began asking the question in 1977, only 13 percent said homosexuality is something people are born with, while 56 percent said it was due to upbringing and environment. 2001 was the first year that Gallup polling showed more people, 40 percent, believing that same-sex attraction was already determined at birth. Since then, polling on the question has changed little, fluctuating within the margin of error.
Gallup's original question wording was, "In your view, is homosexuality something a person is born with, or is homosexuality due to factors such as upbringing and environment?"
The wording was rotated, putting "upbringing and environment" first, with half the respondents. After 2008, the question's wording was changed. "Homosexuality" was replaced with "gay or lesbian."
There were also some demographic variations. Those who were most likely to say that homosexuality is a trait one is born with were whites, females, liberals, Democrats, high-income earners, college educated, and those who seldom or never attend church.
Most of those characteristics are consistent with previous years, Justin McCarthy wrote for Gallup, except for one - race. The belief among nonwhites that homosexuality is a result of environment and upbringing was "substantially higher this year."
One possible reason that Americans are divided on the issue, McCarthy added, is the "lack of input from the scientific community."
The American Psychological Association, for instance, has stated, "there is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation."
Research has suggested there is a likely genetic component tied to same-sex attraction for men, but not women. But scientists have not found a so-called "gay gene," and they understand little about how the genetic component works.
In February, for instance, Northwestern University psychologist Michael Bailey revealed his research showing that men with a certain genetic marker were 40 percent more likely to be gay. Not all gay men had the marker, however, and not all those who had the marker were gay.
"Our findings suggest there may be genes at play ... but it is not completely determinative; there are certainly other environmental factors involved. The study shows that there are genes involved in male sexual orientation. Although this could one day lead to a pre-natal test for male sexual orientation, it would not be very accurate, as there are other factors that can influence the outcome," he said.
The May 8-11 poll of 1,028 adults has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points for the full sample.
State-approved bans on same-sex marriage have been falling at a rapid clip since the Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act last year.
The changes -- gay couples can now wed in 19 states and the District of Columbia -- reflect shifting social and political attitudes toward same-sex marriage. But they also reflect, in several cases, the opinions of Democrat-appointed judges who single-handedly struck down state-approved bans.
In a testament to the influence of judicial appointments, most of the judges responsible for the decisions over the past year were appointed by either President Obama or, two decades ago, Bill Clinton.
Among the justices to recently effect a major state change was U.S. District Judge Michael McShane in Oregon.
He threw out the state's voter-approved gay marriage ban on Monday.
McShane was nominated by Obama in January 2013 and was confirmed several months later. He was in a position to effectively enact gay marriage from the bench, as state officials earlier refused to defend Oregon's ban and said they wouldn't appeal.
The National Organization for Marriage sought to intervene, but both McShane and a federal appeals court rejected its attempts to argue in favor of the ban.
The next day, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III overturned a 1996 Pennsylvania law barring recognition of gay marriage, calling it unconstitutional.
The National Organization for Marriage protested again, calling the ruling an "end-run around the democratic process" that "places the capricious will of one man above the desires of millions of citizens."
But Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, on Wednesday decided to end his court fight because "the case is extremely unlikely to succeed on appeal." The governor's decision means that same-sex marriage will remain legal in Pennsylvania, without the threat that a higher court will reinstate the ban.
In Pennsylvania's case, the judge who threw out the ban was appointed by Republican President George W. Bush.
Only one other judge -- of the eight who have ruled against gay marriage bans since the DOMA decision -- is Republican-appointed. The other is Bernard Friedman, a U.S. District Court judge in Michigan who struck down that state's gay marriage ban in March, though the decision is being appealed. Friedman was appointed by Ronald Reagan.
Three of the judges -- in Oregon, Virginia and Utah -- were appointed by Obama in the last few years. Two were appointed by Clinton. One, in Idaho, was appointed by regional judges.
Several of these cases are still being litigated. In 29 states, judges are being asked whether gays should have the right to marry.
Advocates see a clear trend where gay marriage will increasingly be legalized.
After the Pennsylvania decision, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Director Rea Carey said: "The momentum for same-sex marriage across the entire nation is unstoppable."
But opposition in some places remains strong. A spokesman for Montana Attorney General Tim Fox said he will vigorously defend the state's constitutional ban against the lawsuit brought by four gay couples.
In Utah, Gov. Gary Herbert said at a news conference Thursday he also is committed to defending his state's ban, and he blasted decisions against doing so by leaders in other states.
"For elected officials, governors or attorney generals, to pick and choose what laws (they) will enforce I think is a tragedy, and is the next step to anarchy," Herbert said. "We have an obligation as a state to defend those laws."
We church leaders repeat often that we desire to know and reach our mission field. And we also know that our mission field demographics are shifting dramatically in the United States.
Today, I want to focus on one large slice of the demographic pie in America-households headed by a single parent. That world is growing and shifting so quickly it is almost breathtaking. For now, I offer five factoids about these families. Consider the implications for churches as we attempt to minister and reach these persons.
1. Nearly three out of ten families with children today are headed by a single parent. That makes this group one of the largest population segments in the nation.
2. Four out of ten children in American are born to single women. That rate is six times its level since 1960. And the pace continues even though teen pregnancy has been declining.
3. Hispanics and whites have the largest percentage increase in single parent births. African Americans still have the highest absolute percentage, but the faster growth is taking place among Hispanics and whites.
4. Males are the fastest growing category of single parents. I think most of us are surprised at this development. The implications for churches are staggering.
5. The vast majority of single parents are gainfully employed. Eight out of ten single moms are employed. Nine out of ten single dads are employed. The vast majority of these parents receive no government assistance.
These statistics provide incredible insights about a part of the population that many churches have no specific plans to reach or to minister to. With that in mind, I ask church leaders five questions to consider.
1. Do the leaders in your church have an awareness of this large population group? Just an awareness of the issue can prompt action.
2. Does your church have specific ministries designed for this population segment? A corollary question is: Are those ministries effective?
3. What would your church need to do differently to reach this group? I specifically refer to current ministries and programs.
4. Are there any attitudes that would discourage single parents from feeling welcome at your church? Some of you readers may give us some good insights there.
5. Have you attempted to connect with single parents in your church to get clarity about this group? They would certainly be the best persons to help our churches prayerfully and strategically think about this issue.
Yes, times are changing. But we in our churches have a great opportunity to reach a growing segment of the U. S. population.
How will your church respond? Does your church already have a specific ministry or outreach effort to single parents?
(Note: These statistics were gleaned from The Retail Revival by Doug Stevens. The author further cites these sources: "Four in 10 Children Are Born to Unwed Mothers," from FamilyFacts.org and "Single Parent Statistics" from Single Parent Magazine, June 2012.)
Dr. Thom Rainer is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
"When the tables have turned in life, we need to realize that God owns the tables. He always has a plan and it's far greater than any plan we could ever come up with. It may be hard and painful to understand at the time, but God's ways are always best," began the brothers in the post.
"Remember the Israelites in Egypt — God turned the Egyptians against them so that they could fulfill their destiny. 'He turned their heart to hate His people, to deal craftily with His servants …' Ps 105:25," they noted.
The twins then highlighted the adversity that resulted in their successful real estate company.
"Twelve years ago, before my brother and I started our real estate group, we worked for a large company that went through a horrific split. The split found us on the wrong side of the fence, so we got fired. Although we were heartbroken and had no other jobs lined up, God used that to force us to start our own company," noted the post.
"For two years we scratched and clawed to make enough money to feed our budding families, all-the-while building our little real estate company. Well, the rest is pretty much history, as God has blessed our little venture supernaturally, even to a point where HGTV offered to do a show based upon our real estate expertise," they added.
Now that they have lost that initial HGTV offer, the brothers believe that the adversity they went through before prepared them for the fallout with HGTV.
"God had already prepared us long ago for a situation just like this. All we need to do is remember that he owns the tables, and when they turn He is up to something good!
"When the tables turn in your situation, don't try to flip them back to where they were, just let it play itself out. Recognize that God Himself is the One who owns the tables. He's got you right where He wants you!" ended the post.
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
BY NAPP NAZWORTH, CHRISTIAN POST REPORTER
May 20, 2014|7:09 am
Evangelicals will, inevitably, "change with times," "adapt," "get with the program," "finesse their position" on homosexuality and same-sex marriage, some say. Historically, however, the churches that changed with the times have not fared well.
Opposition to same-sex marriage and the belief that homosexual behavior is sinful is "collapsing" among religious adherents, William Saletan wrote May 1 for Slate. "Theology is adapting. Resistance to same-sex marriage is dwindling, and there's no end in sight."
Saletan finds support for this contention from the recent "Faith Angle Forum Conference on Religion, Politics & Public Life" hosted by the Ethics and Public Policy Center. (Transcripts and audio available here.)
He pointed out that Michael Gerson, a Washington Post columnist and a graduate of the evangelical Wheaton College, said it "seems unfair" to expect "a heroic ethical standard" of celibacy from church members with same-sex attraction. Additionally, Cornelius Plantinga, a Calvin College theologian who has written books about sin, told Saletan over dinner that a lot of virtues, such as love, commitment and stability, can be found among same-sex couples.
Saletan also noted that Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, "continues to view homosexual behavior as sinful" but called for a change in tone in how evangelicals talk about the issue of homosexuality.
"Maybe Moore and his remaining flock can sustain a moral case against homosexuality in the face of these concessions. But I doubt it," Saletan wrote. "Once you accept the reality and persistence of the orientation, particularly within your congregation, you're on the way to the crisis Gerson described."
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The "crisis," in Saletan's view, is that those with same-sex attraction are asked to remain celibate while, for instance, a glutton can still eat food and adulterers can still have sex with their spouse. Based upon that, Saletan reasons that the Evangelicals who believe homosexuality is a sin hold an "unsustainable" position.
Gerson and Saletan are likely correct in pointing out that some sinful desires are harder to resist than others. But all Christians are asked to resist sin. What is missed in their assumptions is that a sinful desire for gluttony will not be satiated by eating a normal amount of food and a sinful desire to cheat on one's spouse will not be satisfied by having sex with one's spouse.
Evangelicals are "pretty good at ditching unsustainable positions," Saletan continues, because many Evangelicals do not hold a Young Earth Creationist viewpoint. (Saletan uses the word "Fundamentalists" here, but from the context he appears to mean "Evangelicals.") If Evangelicals can hold different views about the age of the Earth, there must be some wiggle room on homosexuality, he concludes.
The comparison with Young Earth Creationism is a poor one. Young Earth Creationism, rising in response to modern geological findings, is only about 100 years old. (There were, of course, theologians, philosophers and scientists before that, who attempted to date the Earth and came up with "young" numbers, but that is different than the modern phenomenon to which Saletan is referring.) The dominant Church teaching on homosexuality, on the other hand, is as old as the Church itself. The teaching found in some churches today that homosexuality is an "identity" that should be embraced rather than sin, a symptom of the fallen nature of mankind, is new, about 50 years old, in the history of the Church.
Saletan correctly points out, though, that the trend in public opinion has been toward greater acceptance of same-sex marriage. So, will the Church die if it does not change its position on homosexuality? The Christian Post asked Moore that question in a May 12 interview.
"This is what the media have always said about Evangelicals and they've always been wrong," Moore answered.
Instead of Young Earth Creationism, Moore brought up the examples of miracles and the virgin birth. During the Fundamentalist-Modernist debate of the early 1900s, Moore noted, people were making the same arguments that Saletan and others are making today. Instead of homosexuality, however, they were saying the Church must no longer hold to the views that Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus, Jesus performed miracles, and Jesus was resurrected from the dead.
There were some churches, of course, that did "adapt" to the "changing times" by abandoning Church teachings on the virgin birth and miracles. Those churches, Moore pointed out, are the ones that have been dying.
If changing Church teaching in order to be culturally acceptable is the way to grow the church, "we would see a booming Unitarian or Presbyterian Church (USA) church planting movement. We don't.
"Instead, the only Christianity that has survived is authentic, Gospel Christianity. Which means that ... you can't grow Christian churches by becoming sub-Christian," he said.
Further, Moore argued that if the Church abandons the concept of sin, it will not have much to offer the world. Those who do not need to repent of sin have no need for grace.
"If we don't call people to repentance for sexual immorality," he said, "we are not Gospel preachers, we are leading people in sin and in condemnation and in the accusation of the Devil. The only way we can reach a lost world is by speaking clearly about what sin is so that we can speak clearly about what grace is."
As a federal judge is scheduled to issue his ruling Monday on a constitutional challenge to Oregon's same-sex marriage ban, officials are prepared to issue marriage licenses immediately if a stay is not put on the decision. The state is not defending the state's voter-approved ban.
U.S. District Judge Michael McShane will publish his decision at noon Monday, according to The Associated Press.
Officials in Multnomah County say they are prepared to begin issuing marriage licenses immediately if the ruling calls for it.
Representing two women in a relationship for over three decades, attorneys Lake Perriguey and Lea Ann Easton in Portland, Oregon, filed a lawsuit last October, arguing that the state's marriage laws are discriminatory and unconstitutional and violate their right to marriage. Later the American Civil Liberties Union and lawyers from two firms also joined in on behalf of a lesbian couple and a gay couple.
The ban in Oregon was approved by 57 percent of voters in 2004 following a brief period when Multnomah County issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples. As many as 3,000 licenses were issued before a judge halted the practice. Later, the Oregon Supreme Court annulled the marriages.
However, Democratic Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has said he will not defend the ban. She believes no legal arguments can support it given last year's decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court. Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber also supports same-sex marriage.
In April, McShane refused to allow the National Organization for Marriage to intervene in the case while hearing arguments on the case. The group intended to intervene on behalf of its Oregon members after the attorney general's decision not to defend the ban, but the judge said the group cannot represent Oregon voters.
Federal judges in several states have struck down state amendments and laws banning same-sex marriage as unconstitutional since the Supreme Court's decision last June to squash a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA. They have revoked bans also in Michigan, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia, and ordered Kentucky and Tennessee to recognize out-of-state gay marriages. However, stays have been issued pending appeals.
Advocacy groups claim they have gathered enough signatures in Oregon for a vote in November on whether gay marriage should be allowed.
Same-sex marriage is currently recognized in 17 states – California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington – and the District of Columbia.