The News You May Have Missed

June 2014

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The U.S. and Canada’s “ultra-permissive abortion policies” make them extreme outliers on the world stage, says a new report from the Charlotte Lozier Institute. According to “Gestational Limits on Abortion in the United States Compared to International Norms,” they are two of “only seven countries in the world that permit elective abortion past 20 weeks.” The other nations are communist China, North Korea, and Vietnam, and Singapore and the Netherlands. The report, which compares abortion policies in 198 countries, independent states, or semi-autonomous zones with at least one million people, found that more than two-thirds of the nations that allow abortion-on-demand limit the procedure at 12 weeks’ gestation. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Doe v. Bolton ruling essentially allows abortion-on-demand throughout pregnancy, absent state law (, Feb. 25).

Alienation Nation

According to an alliance of writers, scientists, philosophers, and politicians, David Cameron is “sowing sectarianism and division” by insisting that Britain is still a “Christian country.” In a letter to London’s Telegraph (Apr. 20), 55 public figures, including writers such as Philip Pullman and Sir Terry Pratchett, accuse the British prime minister of fostering “alienation” with the way he’s repeatedly “mischaracterized” Britain, thereby bringing “negative consequences for our politics and society.” Cameron’s controversial comments came on Easter when he said he felt the “healing power” of faith in his own life. The group argues that, apart from a “narrow constitutional sense,” there is no evidence to justify describing Britain as Christian.

The Army’s Humanist Victory

More than two years after first making his request, Army Major Ray Bradley can now be known exactly as he sees himself: as a humanist in the U.S. military. “I’m able to self-identity the belief system that governs my life, and I’ve never been able to do that before,” said Bradley, who is stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. On April 12 the religious-preference designation “humanist” became available to all members of the Army. “This is a big victory,” said Jason Torpy, president of the Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers. The change means that humanists could face fewer hurdles in trying to organize within the ranks, and it could lay the groundwork for humanist chaplains. According to a survey by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, humanists make up 3.6 percent of the U.S. military (Religion News Service, Apr. 22).

Fixing God’s Mistakes?

Plastic surgeon Dr. Kim Seok-Kwun, a devout Protestant known as the “father of South Korean transgender people,” is well aware of the unease his work creates in this deeply conservative country. Kim said in an interview that he used to “agonize” over performing sex-change operations and was “overcome with a sense of shame.” But since he “decided to defy God’s will,” he feels a great sense of achievement for helping people who feel trapped in the wrong body. “Some people are born without genitals or with cleft lips or with no ears or with their fingers stuck together. Why does God create people like this? Aren’t these God’s mistakes?” Kim asked. “And isn’t a mismatched sexual identity a mistake, too?” Kim has conducted about 320 sex-change operations over the past 28 years, widely believed to be the most by any single doctor in the country (Associated Press, Apr. 1).

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