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News on The 700 Club: April 14, 2016

As seen on "The 700 Club," April 14: Just the beginning? Religious freedom, gay rights battle turns ugly; Fuel for anti-Semitism: Refugee crisis a 'huge problem' for Jews; Kerry stresses human rights improvements despite government ... ... Read Transcript

The debate over gay rights and religious freedom

is turning America into a battleground.

34 states are considering bills to protect clergy and business

owners who object to gay marriage on religious grounds.

And as George Thomas reports, that fight is getting ugly.

GEORGE THOMAS: Business owners Dick and Betty Odgaard's story

should serve as a warning of what

happens when so-called religious freedom laws are not in place

to protect people of faith.

On August 3, 2013, a gay couple asked the Odgaards

if they could rent their gallery in Iowa for a same-sex wedding.

They came in.

And Dick was there.

He was the one that had to deliver the bad news to them.

GEORGE THOMAS: The Odgaards refused,

citing their Christian belief that marriage should be

between one man and one woman.

I don't want to celebrate my sins.

I don't want other people to celebrate my sins.

Nor do I want to participate in celebrating anybody else's


GEORGE THOMAS: The gay couple sued them for discrimination.

And after a two-year court battle, rather than

celebrate gay marriages, the Christian couple

paid the same-sex couple a fine and agreed

to stop hosting weddings at the gallery.

It has been difficult. I won't lie.

It's been the hardest thing we've ever been through.

And I don't wish it on anyone.

GEORGE THOMAS: Their decision cost them dearly.

After months of negative publicity, hate mail, death

threats, and loss of income, the Gortz House Gallery

went out of business last year.

The ugly continues to come at us.

But I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

And we would do it all over again the same way,

because we are in the middle of God's will.

GEORGE THOMAS: Since last summer's Supreme Court decision

legalizing same-sex marriage, more than 100 religious freedom

bills have been proposed in 34 states

to protect Christians and others from the threat of legal action

because they object to gay marriage on religious grounds.

Take, for example, the new law just passed in Mississippi.

The Mississippi law says if you believe

marriage is the union of a man and a woman,

that sex is reserved for marriage,

and that we're created male and female-- it doesn't

say you have to believe those things,

but it says if you do believe those things,

we're not going to penalize you if you act on those beliefs.

GEORGE THOMAS: In Louisiana and Ohio,

lawmakers are proposing measures that

protect pastors who refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

Ryan Anderson is with the Washington, DC-based Heritage


He says the accusation that these religious freedom laws

discriminate against gays and lesbians just isn't true.

The basic argument here is that we're

trying to protect pluralism.

We're trying to protect diversity.

We're promoting tolerance.

GEORGE THOMAS: But some of the laws

have been met with fierce opposition

from businesses, activists, and celebrities.

North Carolina's governor was forced

to roll back portions of a controversial bathroom

law affecting transgenders after several companies criticized

it and others threatened to stop their businesses in the state.

I think this just shows you what's taking place.

It's a form of cronyism.

It's cultural cronyism.

Big business is using their market freedom

to deny little businesses and religious people

their religious freedom.

GEORGE THOMAS: What is clear, though,

is that the backlash from last year's Supreme Court decision

has brought religious freedom concerns to the forefront

this spring, with many Americans believing

that the battle over gay rights versus protecting

people's religious convictions is just beginning.

George Thomas, CBN News.

Protecting people's religious convictions--

isn't that what our country was founded on,

the opportunity for people to come and practice freely?

I'm not sure you can legislate morality.

You know, I don't have to agree with you to respect you.

But to take away someone's business,

to insist that they get some kind of sensitivity training

because they don't agree with your position on something just

seems outside the box of who we are as a country.

But as you heard in that piece, it's not just

about the gay rights issue.

It's infiltrating everywhere.

Even the political scenario today

that we're all complaining about having

to listen to day after day after day

is built on that same premise that if you don't agree

with what I think or what I say, then something has

to be done to take care of you and remove you

from whatever box you're standing

on declaring your role.

We need to respect each other.

We need to go back to a place of civility,

where we can have discussions about things of difference

without finger pointing, name calling, or taking away

the rights of one group so that I can have rights for myself.

If you're one of the millions of Americans figuring

out their tax bill this week-- oh my,

I am-- wait until you see our next story.

John Jessup has the details from our CBN News Bureau

in Washington.


Thanks, Terry.

Get this-- the 2016 Congressional Pig Book is out,

and you, the taxpayer, are spending more than $5 billion

in earmarks.

The group Citizens Against Government Waste

released its annual compilation of pork barrel projects,

which includes 123 earmarks.

That's an increase of more than 20%

of the wasteful spending in 2015.

Making the Pork Hall of Shame this year is $8 billion

for something called aquatic plant control.

There's also $40 million to upgrade the M1 Abrams tank,

even though the Pentagon doesn't want it.

Congress actually imposed a moratorium against earmarks

in 2011, but they're making a comeback.

We must cut this out-of-control spending

and ensure that spending constraints are

in place if we're ever going to get our debt under control.

No one who reads this year's Pig Book

can say that there's nowhere left to cut federal spending.

Citizens Against Government Waste

named Senate majority-- Senate minority leader, rather, Harry

Reid, as porker of the month.

Government repression and violence by extremists

are the main factors driving human rights abuses

around the world.

That's according to the latest report from the Obama


The report highlighted countries like North Korea, China, Cuba,

and Iran as the biggest offenders.

Secretary of State John Kerry says

most countries have made progress

to uphold the universal standard.

We have seen important democratic gains

in such countries as Tunisia, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, and Burma,

though in each, there are challenges

that still need to be overcome.

But we are working closely with each of those countries

in efforts to help meet those challenges.

Kerry also cited countries like Vietnam and Egypt

for having made improvements.

Well, anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe.

It's being fueled by the massive influx of refugees

from Muslim countries.

The situation is causing Jewish communities

to consider their options.

CBN Middle East Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell has that story.

For the Jewish community, the refugee crisis

is a huge problem.

CHRIS MITCHELL: According to Israeli author Manfred

Gerstenfeld, that's because most are Muslims,

a group behind some of the most extreme hate crimes in Europe.

CHRIS MITCHELL: Gerstenfeld blames

what he calls massive nonselective immigration

from Muslim countries.

And with the new influx of refugees from the Middle East,

it's getting worse.

CHRIS MITCHELL: Following last year's terror attacks

in Copenhagen, one outside a synagogue,

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu

made headlines by urging European Jews to come home

to Israel.

Thousands accepted the offer, and immigration from Europe

to Israel spiked over the last two years.

But Gerstenfeld tells CBN News it's not

practical for everyone.

CHRIS MITCHELL: Now the attack in Brussels

is causing Belgian Jews to consider their options.

CHRIS MITCHELL: Nevertheless, Belgian Jew Patricia Teitelbaum

said the decision isn't easy.

CHRIS MITCHELL: Even in the midst of those questions,

Teitelbaum is clear on one subject.

She sees this as a warning for the West,

because when attacks happen against Jews,

it's only the beginning of trouble for everyone else.

Chris Mitchell, CBN News, Jerusalem.

Thanks, Chris.

Russian fighter jets in the Baltic Sea

played a wicked game this week, flying dangerously close

to a US warship.

MAN: On the deck, below the bridge lane.

JOHN JESSUP: The incident violated international law

for militaries operating in close proximity to each other.

And this is not the first time Russian jets

have acted recklessly.

There have been multiple incidences over the past year

when Russian fighter jets have flown too close to other air

and sea traffic.

Terry, that's some pretty provocative and alarming video



Thank heavens for American restraint.

I'm not going to lie.

I was surprised by it with something like that happening.


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