TBC NewsWatch | thebereancall.org



MichaelFreund.org, 1/17/14, “Why Is Germany Telling Jews Where to Live?” [Excerpts]: With an impeccable sense of timing, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrived in Israel earlier this week, attended the funeral of Ariel Sharon, and then proceeded to browbeat Israel in public.

Speaking with reporters, Steinmeier accused the Jewish state of “damaging” the peace process by building homes for Jews in Judea and Samaria. And in a discussion with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of Sharon’s interment, he pressed the premier to refrain from additional construction as this “could still disturb the process.”

But what is even more offensive about Steinmeier’s exploits is the German government’s historical amnesia, which has left officials bereft of any sense of irony regarding their position on the right of Jews to live in Judea and Samaria.

After all, it was not even eight decades ago that Germany singled out Jews in the September 1935 Nuremberg laws, seeking to cast them out of civil society as a step towards “cleansing” German soil of their presence. Subsequently, in areas under German control, the right of Jews to live where they saw fit was severely restricted.

Last summer it was widely reported that Berlin had decided to back a European Union initiative that singles out Jewish-owned businesses in Judea and Samaria.

The move is aimed at targeting them for special treatment, which could include the application of unique labels of origin on products produced by Jews in the areas. Needless to say, goods made by Palestinian-run plants in the territories would not similarly be branded.



OneNewsNow.com, 1/20/14, “‘Low expectations’ for scriptural truth to prevail in UMC pastor’s trial” [Excerpts]: A retired United Methodist pastor…Thomas Ogletree, who spent most of his ministry as dean of Yale Divinity School, will be tried March 10 in Connecticut. Other Methodist clergy filed a complaint about Ogletree, who is a part of the UMC’s New York Conference, after The New York Times ran his son’s wedding announcement in 2012.

In a statement released after that complaint, Ogletree called it “a shame” he was being “prosecute[d]...for this act of love” and argued it was “entirely in keeping with [his] ordination vows....” He also referenced his denomination’s “historic commitment to inclusive ministry embodied in its slogan ‘open hearts, open minds, open doors.’”

John Lomperis of the Institute on Religion & Democracy tells OneNewsNow the 80-year-old Ogletree knows as well as anyone else the rules of the United Methodist Church, which state homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

“In accord with biblical teaching, our denomination’s official position is very clear: that sexual relations are only for the bond of monogamous, heterosexual marriages,” [said] Lomperis.

Ogletree has a right to pick his own prosecutor. That being the case, Lomperis isn’t optimistic about the ultimate outcome of Ogletree’s trial. “…I am told that he has chosen an outspoken opponent of biblical teaching to basically be the prosecutor in the church trial. So we’ll see what happens–but I have at this point very low expectations for the integrity of the process under this particular bishop, Martin McLee.”



ChristianHeadlines.com, 2/4/14, Abortion Rate Hits Lowest Level Since 1973” [Excerpts]: The abortion rate in the U.S. has dropped to its lowest level since the procedure became legal in 1973, according to a new data analysis that reflects a 13 percent decline in both the abortion rate and the number of abortions from 2008 to 2011.

Declines were seen in all but six states—Alaska, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, West Virginia and Wyoming—which saw either no change or an increase in abortion rates. “Births have been falling for awhile, and the recession certainly accelerated the decrease in births,” says economist Ted Joyce of Baruch College in New York, who has studied reproductive health since 1985.

“When you consider the changes in contraception and the largest recession since the Great Depression, those two factors seem like compelling explanations for the decline,” he says.

The report says states enacted 205 abortion restrictions between 2011 and 2013, more than in the entire previous decade combined. However, the 2008-2011 study period doesn’t include that surge because many restrictions didn’t take effect until late 2011 or later. During the study period, 106 new abortion restrictions were implemented.

Whether the next report in three years will reflect continued declines depends on how the courts rule on state laws that would effectively restrict access to abortion providers, economist Joyce said.

The study, published online in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, also finds an increase in the proportion of abortions that were early medication abortion. The non-surgical procedure uses the drug mifepristone, often called the abortion pill or RU-486, or the drug misoprostol. An estimated 239,400 early medication abortions were performed in 2011, representing 23 percent of all non-hospital abortions, an increase from 17 percent in 2008, the report says.



Newsmax.com, 1/14/14, “Joel Osteen Says Homosexuality is ‘a Sin’ but Won’t ‘Preach’ on It” [Excerpts]: Televangelist Joel Osteen says homosexuality is a sin but he doesn’t “preach” about it and isn’t against “anybody” who is gay.

In an interview on Larry King Now available via Hulu, the popular Texas pastor said his views on homosexuality are “the same they’ve always been. I believe that Scripture says that it’s a sin, but I always follow up by saying you know what, we’re not against anybody,” he added.

King asked how homosexuality can be called a sin, “if we don’t know what causes it. You don’t know why you’re a heterosexual....”

“There’s a lot of things, Larry, and I don’t understand—so I just don’t want to preach on it, preach about it,” Osteen replied. Osteen was then asked if gay marriage annoys him. “It doesn’t annoy me,” he said. “From a Scripture point of view, it’s not what my faith would teach, but it doesn’t annoy me.” Osteen added that he only talks about homosexuality during interviews, when he’s asked about it.

The Huffington Post noted in its report Monday on the interview that it wasn’t the first time that Osteen had offered a convoluted answer when asked about his opinion on the subject. In October, Osteen said on HuffPost Live that God “absolutely” accepts and approves of homosexuals just like he does everyone else.