Ben Johnson

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Judge Rules Christian facility cannot ban same-sex civil union ceremony on its own premises

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
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OCEAN GROVE, New Jersey, January 13, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - A New Jersey judge ruled against a Christian retreat house that refused to allow a same-sex civil union ceremony to be conducted on its premises, ruling the Constitution allows “some intrusion into religious freedom to balance other important societal goals.”

On Thursday, administrative judge Solomon A. Metzger ruled that religious liberty did not exempt the seaside retreat, which is associated with the United Methodist Church, from renting its facilities out for purposes that violate its moral beliefs.

In March 2007, Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association declined Harriet Bernstein and Luisa Paster’s request to rent its Boardwalk Pavilion for the ceremony. The couple sued, claiming they had been discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation. In December 2008, the state Division on Civil Rights found the Christian campground had likely violated the state Law Against Discrimination (LAD) and joined the case.

The United Methodist Church teaches, “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching,” and that “ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.”

But Judge Metzger said church doctrine was irrelevant. “As to ‘free exercise’ [of religion], the LAD is a neutral law of general application designed to uncover and eradicate discrimination; it is not focused on or hostile to religion,” he wrote. The free exercise clause did not factor into his ruling, he stated, but “a much lower standard that tolerates some intrusion into religious freedom to balance other important societal goals.” He believed the “arm’s-length nature of the transactions” gave Ocean Grove “comfortable distance from notions incompatible with its own beliefs.”

“He said this isn’t a case of religious liberty, which is simply not true,” Jim Campbell, who represented the resort and serves as litigation staff counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), told LifeSiteNews.com. “What this case involves at its core is the rights of a religious group to use its property in a way that is consistent with its religious beliefs.”

Campbell said most people will find Metzger’s belief that the state can force a religious facility to violate its conscience “a very scary concept. If that is a principle of the law, then essentially the government can cast aside religion if it deems something more important.” Campbell called Metzger’s ruling “an error of Constitutional law.”

Metzger agreed in his ruling that Ocean Grove “is fundamentally a religious organization, free to form its mission without government oversight or intrusion” and that its owners had not “acted with ill-motive.” The facility “opposes same-sex unions as a matter of religious belief, and in 2007 found itself on the wrong side of recent changes in the law.”

In December 2006, New Jersey became the third state to legalize same-sex civil unions. Legislators have since tried and failed to pass legislation recognizing same-sex “marriage.” 

Mark D. Tooley, president of the Institute for Religion and Democracy, told LifeSiteNews.com, “It’s commendable that the Ocean Grove campground tried to remain faithful to the doctrines and practices of its own denomination by refusing to host a same-sex ritual at their pavilion.” The IRD describes its mission as “working to reaffirm the church’s biblical and historical teachings.”

“It is sad and potentially dangerous that New Jersey law is attempting to compel a religious organization to hold a same-sex ritual on their property,” he said.

Campbell believes the ruling was wrong on numerous grounds. Ocean Grove originally held a local property tax exemption, which required “equal access.” While the resort is open to all, he said nothing in the statute allows the public to make any use it wishes of Ocean Grove’s property. The facility has since received tax exempt status as a religious institution.

Metzger ruled that, since the facility allowed non-Christians to use its facility for marriage, it had no doctrinal limitations. But Methodists do not limit their sacramental ministry to Christians and historically do not recognize marriage as a sacrament.

The local ruling seems to place non-discrimination above concerns of religious liberty, the mirror image of a Supreme Court ruling that took place earlier in the week. In the Hosanna-Tabor case, Chief Justice John Roberts ruled: “The interest of society in the enforcement of employment discrimination statutes is undoubtedly important. But so, too, is the interest of religious groups in choosing who will preach their beliefs, teach their faith and carry out their mission.” He concluded, “the First Amendment has struck the balance for us.”

While Metzger sided with the lesbian couple, he did not impose the financial penalties they sought, saying that the finding of wrongdoing “should serve as an adequate redress.”

The campground’s owners have not yet determined whether they will take further action.

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Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

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Hillary Clinton: ‘I’m proud to stand with Planned Parenthood’

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By Dustin Siggins

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Seven days after calling videos of Planned Parenthood officials harvesting fetal parts "disturbing," leading Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is throwing her support behind the embattled abortion giant.

In an ad released on Monday, just hours before the U.S. Senate failed to defund Planned Parenthood, Clinton called such legislative efforts "a full-on assault on women's health."

She also described Planned Parenthood as "the nation's leader in providing reproductive health care."

“Unfortunately, these attacks aren’t new," Clinton said. "They’re more of the same. We have seen them in Wisconsin, where Governor Walker defunded Planned Parenthood and left women across the state stranded with nowhere else to turn. We have seen them in Florida, where Jeb Bush funneled millions of dollars into abstinence-only programs while gutting funds for crucial family planning programs. And we have seen them in Texas, where Governor [Rick] Perry drastically cut funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings."

"And then [Perry] signed legislation that forced health centers across the state to close their doors in an attempt to wipe out access to safe and legal abortion all together,” Clinton said.

Walker boasted of defunding Planned Parenthood at a Republican presidential candidate in New Hampshire last night.

As governor of Florida, Bush put millions of dollars towards pro-life pregnancy care clinics, which are pro-life alternatives to abortion clinics.

The measures Perry signed in 2013 banned most abortions after 20 weeks' gestation, forced abortion centers to upgrade to the same level as ambulatory surgical centers, and required abortionists to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

However, according to Clinton, defunding America's largest abortion company is "cutting people off from the health care provider they know and trust."

“When they attack women’s health, they attack America’s health," Clinton said. "And it’s wrong. And we are not going to let them get away with it."

"We are not going back. We are going to fight back," she vowed.

She concluded, "I’m proud to stand with Planned Parenthood."

Her video came between the releases of undercover video footage revealing Planned Parenthood's work in harvesting the organs of aborted babies and turning them over to research firms for a fee.

Clinton has long supported abortion-on-demand, saying earlier this year that religious beliefs opposed to abortion "must be changed."

Last year, she said it was "a bedrock truth" that "you cannot make progress on gender equality or broader human development, without safeguarding women’s reproductive health and rights."

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Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

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Bobby Jindal cancels Planned Parenthood funding in wake of body parts scandal

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By Dustin Siggins

BATON ROUGE, LA, August 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The state of Louisiana has canceled its contract with the state's two Planned Parenthood centers.

Louisiana governor and 2016 presidential candidate Bobby Jindal said that the decision came because of new videos showing illegal activity by top Planned Parenthood officials.

“In recent weeks, it has been shocking to see reports of the alleged activities taking place at Planned Parenthood facilities across the country. Planned Parenthood does not represent the values of the people of Louisiana and shows a fundamental disrespect for human life,” he said. “It has become clear that this is not an organization that is worthy of receiving public assistance from the state.”

Jindal, who had ordered the state to investigate Planned Parenthood for potential felony violations following the release of the first video, canceled the contract because of its "at will" provision. That means that "either party can choose to cancel the contract at will after providing written notice,” according to a press release from the governor's office. “Governor Jindal and DHH decided to give the required 30-day notice to terminate the Planned Parenthood Medicaid provider contract because Planned Parenthood does not represent the values of the State of Louisiana in regards to respecting human life."

"Pending the ongoing investigation, DHH [the Dept. of Health and Hospitals] reserves the right to amend the cancellation notice and terminate the provider agreement immediately should cause be determined," it states.

This action is just the latest by the pro-life governor, who last year signed a law requiring all abortionists to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

Louisiana has been named the number one pro-life state by Americans United for Life for six years in a row.

A Planned Parenthood official told the left-wing blog Talking Points Memo that no Planned Parenthood facilities provide abortions, although the abortion provider hopes to build a facility to do so.

Gov. Jindal also halted the building that 8,000-square foot abortion megaplex, scheduled to be built in New Orleans, following the release of the first video.

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John Jalsevac John Jalsevac Follow John

This one shot from the latest PP sting video might be the most disturbing thing you see all year

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By John Jalsevac
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I’m about to show you something that, if you're alive and have a heartbeat, will deeply disturb you, and then make you hopping mad.

I warn you, it’s graphic. But everybody needs to see this. Because this is the truth. And even if the truth is difficult, and gruesome, and challenging, it must be known.

This morning the Center for Medical Progress released the latest in their series of undercover sting videos exposing the fact that Planned Parenthood is harvesting and selling the body parts of aborted babies.

The first part is plenty disturbing, as director of research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Melissa Farrell, discusses how she “diversifies” Planned Parenthood's “revenue stream” by selling aborted baby parts, and how their abortionists can modify the abortion procedure (Note: totally illegal) to obtain “intact” fetuses.

But then the camera moves into the lab, where workers are actually involved in dissecting and dismembering aborted babies to get the useful body parts.

Describing their “last case” of the day, one of the workers tells an actor posing as someone interested in purchasing fetal body parts, that “it was a twin” at about 20 weeks gestation.

The camera then pans over to a dish, filled with what Planned Parenthood describes as “tissue.” One of the workers uses tweezers to pick up the intestines, and boasts about how sometimes “the organs come out really, really well.”

And that’s when I saw it. A little, beautiful, perfectly formed hand, gently clenched in a fist – a hand attached to an arm that had been torn from its owner's body, and thrown in a dish swimming with body parts.

...And then I saw the foot. And the other foot.

I wish I could say I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. But I could, because I know what Planned Parenthood does. But there’s a difference between believing, and seeing.

And that’s why these photos must be shared as far and wide as possible.

After that, it gets even worse, as the man behind the camera uses his tweezers to pick up and inspect an arm and hand...and then the leg...and then another leg.

Yes, it is horrifying that Planned Parenthood is apparently lying about the fact that it makes a tidy profit off trafficking in the body parts of aborted babies.

But the worst thing of all is that Planned Parenthood has body parts to sell in the first place. That Planned Parenthood is daily, constantly, aborting babies that have hands, and feet, and hearts, and lungs.

The worst part is that every time Planned Parenthood sells a body part, it is because they have killed a baby, a human being like you and me – a human being that had the right to live, and love, and be, a baby whose life was summarily snuffed out, and turned into a “revenue stream.”

The worst part is that year after year, decade after decade, we let Planned Parenthood get away with the canard that they are only aborting "blobs of tissue," or "products of pregnancy" - as if we don't all know perfectly well what the product of a pregnancy is: a baby. 

I say, enough is enough. Shut Planned Parenthood down, now!

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