Regent U. Struggles to Stay Afloat (*Updated), Court Rules that Feeding Poor Is Not Religious, and Other News
Judge overturns gay marriage ban
A federal judge in Boston declared unconstitutional the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which codifies marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The July ruling held that the federal law violates states' rights to define marriage by blocking legally married gay couples from federal benefits and violating the Constitution's "equal protection" clause. Meanwhile, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in June that, because European Union members have not yet reached a consensus on the matter, same-sex marriage cannot be viewed as a human right.
Washington pharmacists may pass on Plan B
The Washington State Board of Pharmacy will, for now, allow pharmacists who object to filling certain prescriptions—such as the Plan B morning-after pill—to refer customers elsewhere. Under intense pressure from Governor Christine Gregoire, the board adopted rules in 2007 forcing pharmacists to stock and sell Plan B regardless of moral objections. With lawsuits looming, the board said it is reviewing the regulations.
Court erases FCC decency standards
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals overruled the Federal Communication Commission's indecency policy in mid-July, claiming it "effectively chills speech." The court said the policy—which prescribed six-figure fines for "fleeting expletives"—was "unconstitutionally vague" and caused networks to self-censor protected speech. Southern Baptist leader Richard Land said the ruling could "throw open the floodgates to an even greater torrent of filth and perversion on our nation's airwaves."
Regent U. struggles to stay afloat
Despite a $95 million booster shot from the Christian Broadcasting Network, Pat Robertson's Regent University is struggling for financial stability. Moody's Investors Service predicts that the Virginia Beach school will "continue to experience deficit operating performance" that will "deplete or, at least hamper, financial resource growth" for the foreseeable future. New Regent president Carlos Campo is more optimistic but admitted to the Chronicle of Higher Education that "some fiscal challenges remain."
Editor's note: CT has posted an update and a response from Regent president Carlos Campo on Liveblog.
Hindu nationalist finally convicted of Orissa riots
INDIA Amid more than 800 police investigations after 2008's Orissa riots, which killed 100 people, Indian Christians finally saw one high-profile conviction. Manoj Pradhan, a leader in the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, received a seven-year prison sentence for causing the death of a Dalit Christian but was soon released on bail. While some Christians welcomed the sentence, local Protestant churches demanded that the court stretch Pradhan's sentence to life.
John Eldredge hopes to change drug cartel
The violent Mexican drug cartel La Familia has been distributing Wild at Heart to new recruits, drawing on the book's masculine themes and warrior metaphors. Author John Eldredge first expressed "sorrow and anger" to the Colorado Springs Gazette, but later told The Washington Post he was "delighted" the cartel was reading it, saying he hoped its true message would "touch the hearts" of its members.
PC (USA) still divided on gay issues
Two decisions at the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s July General Assembly revealed a deep divide on sexual ethics within the nation's largest Presbyterian denomination. The assembly voted to lift a ban on noncelibate gay clergy while mandating two years of further study before deciding whether to bless same-sex unions. For the fourth time since 1997, the assembly sent the clergy ruling to local presbyteries for approval.