Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Principal Pulls 'God Bless the USA' From Program to Avoid Offending 'Other Cultures'
- Groupon Boycott a Success, Says Anti-Porn Group
- Kazakhstan: Church Closes 'Voluntarily' to Avoid Forced Closure
- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal Signs 20-Week Abortion Ban into Law
Principal Pulls 'God Bless the USA' From Program to Avoid Offending 'Other Cultures'
A Coney Island principal's refusal to let students sing "God Bless the USA" at their graduation has sparked controversy at a school filled with proud immigrants, the New York Post reports. After kindergarteners at PS 90, the Edna Cohen School, spent months learning the patriotic Lee Greenwood ballad and practicing waving tiny American flags, principal Greta Hawkins walked in to a recent rehearsal, ordered a CD playing the song to be shut off, and told teachers to drop the song from the June 20 commencement program. "We don't want to offend other cultures," they quoted her as saying. Hawkins' edict stunned both staff and parents. "A lot of people fought to move to America to live freely, so that song should be sung with a whole lot of pride," said Luz Lozada, whose son is in kindergarten. The song has been sung at previous school events, and parents -- many of them immigrants from Pakistan, Mexico and Ecuador -- "love it," Lozada said. A teacher agreed: "It makes them a little goosebumpy and teary-eyed. I've never come across anyone who felt it insulted their culture." The Department of Education backed the principal's decision, saying Hawkins found the lyrics "too grown-up" for 5-year-olds and concurring that the lyrics were "not age-appropriate."
Groupon Boycott a Success, Says Anti-Porn Group
The online coupon company Groupon has decided to discontinue its business association with a California-based torture porn group -- and Morality in Media, an anti-porn organization that launched a boycott against Groupon over offering tours of the porn facility, claimed victory, the Christian Post reports. "We are encouraged by the outcome and feel very confident in our unified ability to challenge the pornography industry and the pornification of our society wherever possible," said Dawn Hawkins, executive director for MIM. "This is the first boycott MIM led. ... If boycotts are one way to be successful in this, we will certainly not shrink from them." Within a week of MIM calling for the boycott, more than 7,000 people had officially signed a pledge by MIM to stop using Groupon. By the time Groupon agreed to stop its business with the porn studio, the number had passed 20,000. Groupon representatives initially defended the tours, but after multiple pro-family organizations got involved in the boycott, Groupon sent an email to MIM that stated: "Given the feedback from partners like you, we reassessed not only consumer interest but also merchant opinion on these types of deals. It's never our intention to offend customers of our business partners. As a result of the feedback ... we have stopped running adult deals across the country."
Kazakhstan: Church Closes 'Voluntarily' to Avoid Forced Closure
A church in Kazakhstan closed voluntarily after the pastor's wife was fined for holding worship meetings in her home -- the church's legal address, Voice of the Martyrs reports. After paying the fine, the church decided to close in order to avoid further punishment. Church officials said they would have eventually been shut down if they hadn't closed on their own. Pastor Valery Kim and his wife, Larissa, said they would not re-register the church because they could not collect the 50 signatures required for re-registration under Kazakhstan's 2011 Religion Law, which prohibits all exercise of religion or belief without state permission, making any future church activity illegal.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal Signs 20-Week Abortion Ban into Law
Doctors in Louisiana will be barred from performing abortions 20 weeks after conception under a bill signed into law Monday by Gov. Bobby Jindal, the Times-Picayune reports. The previous state law prohibited the procedure after the fetus was viable outside the womb. The bill, by Senate President John Alario (R-Westwego), goes into effect August 1 and carries fines and imprisonment for any physician that performs an abortion after the cut-off. The bill joins two other pro-life measures already signed by Jindal this year -- to increase the waiting period for an abortion from two hours to 24 hours, to require that audio of the fetus' heartbeat be played for the woman, and to require that the abortion be performed by a physician.
Publication date: June 13, 2012