3 - State university in OK backtracks on removal of religious symbols
A public university in Oklahoma, East Central University, has apologized for its attempt to remove religious symbols from the campus chapel recently. According to a story on the Faithwire website:
East Central University officials have received massive backlash for their decision to remove various Christian symbols and icons from the campus chapel last month following legal threats from Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
In a statement posted on East Central’s website, President Katricia Pierson noted that the university is “immediately withdrawing” all efforts to remove religious items, such as Latin crosses and Bibles, from the chapel.Faithwire states that "Pierson claimed the initial decision to remove Christian items from the chapel was intended to 'show support for all cultures and religious beliefs' and honor 'different perspectives.'"
So the symbols were removed and now have apparently been restored, according to another Faithwire story, which says that the university will form a special “committee of students, faculty, and community members who represent a diversity of viewpoints to study the issue.”
State Attorney General Mike Hunter has apparently studied the issue. The Faithwire report quotes from a Campus Reform story, that stated the AG sent a letter to the school's Board of Regents, in which he said he would "defend the religious freedom of Oklahomans from misleading tactics such as the ones employed by Americans United for Separation of Church and State..."
2 - Hobby Lobby reaches settlement on Middle East artifacts
Later this year, the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC will open. It is being built by the Green family, who own the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores.
There was a particularly concerning aspect related to this new museum: it has been under Federal investigation related to the obtaining of certain artifacts. According to Christianity Today, Hobby Lobby president Steve Green, who is also chairman of the museum, "has surrendered thousands of cuneiform tablets and seals bought by Hobby Lobby, after federal prosecutors determined the material came from war-torn Iraq and not Turkey or Israel as customs forms had claimed."
The story also states that, "His company also paid a $3 million fine in a settlement, federal officials announced yesterday in district court."
The CT article also says:
According to prosecutors, Hobby Lobby did not adequately check out the purported owner: a dealer based in the United Arab Emirates who sent the materials to its Oklahoma City offices labeled erroneously as “ceramic tiles” or “clay tiles (sample).” Several were intercepted by federal customs officials, who began investigating the company in 2015 over what was initially believed to be a few hundred questionable artifacts.The story does say that, "The Museum of the Bible, slated to open in Washington, DC, in November, stated that none of the artifacts identified in the settlement belonged to its collection."
1 - Pro-life organizations, Pope Francis, and President Trump stand together for Charlie Gard
The story of 11-month-old Charlie Gard has captured worldwide attention, including from high-profile officials and pro-life leaders. Charlie has a rare condition, and the British hospital where he is currently staying had decided that it was time to terminate life support. The hospital had received two favorable court rulings - one British, one European - and even though the parents desired for him to leave that hospital and seek treatment elsewhere, the hospital was unmoved.
Enter Pope Francis and President Trump. According to Family Research Council:
In a statement on the crisis, the Pope said the parents' rights to treat their son "until the end" should be respected. "To defend human life, above all when it is wounded by illness, is a duty of love that God entrusts to all." The White House also stepped in the gap, contacting the family to see what can be done. As Donald Trump tweeted, "If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so." Even 37 members of the European Parliament have demanded the hospital step back. This decision, they write, "infringes [on] Europe's most fundamental values, particularly the right to life, the right to human dignity, and personal integrity."FRC was one of a number of pro-life organizations that issued a joint statement in the past week. It was stated in it, according to the FRC website, "In past situations of similar circumstances, the patient or their family has always had the option of finding alternative care and that's exactly what Charlie's parents have done. This is their child and they want to use money they have raised from private donors around the world to provide him access to a treatment option that has had some success with a related condition."
It looks as if the hospital is willing to take a second look. BBC reports that: "Great Ormond Street Hospital has applied for a fresh hearing in the case of Charlie Gard following claims of 'new evidence relating to potential treatment for his condition.'" The story continued:
It comes after seven medical experts suggested unpublished data showed therapy could improve the 11-month-old's brain condition.
Previously, the High Court said it was unlikely a US doctor offering to treat Charlie would be able to cure him.
GOSH said it would "explore" the data.
Charlie's case will be heard by Mr Justice Francis on Monday at 14:00 BST, according to a High Court listing.