Christian Coalition

"He is risen!"

Matthew 28

1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
11 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.
12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,
13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.
14 And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.
15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.
16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Christian radio broadcaster James Dobson won a temporary injunction against Obamacare on Thursday.

The decision prevents the federal government from requiring his ministry to include certain contraceptive or abortion-inducing drugs, including the morning-after pill, in its health insurance package.

In December, Dobson sued over the mandate, saying providing the drugs violates the religious beliefs of Family Talk, a nationally syndicated radio show with close to 30 employees.

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering similar challenges from other employers, including Hobby Lobby.

Most voters think the White House is trying to cover-up what happened in Benghazi and want Congress to continue to investigate the administration’s handling of the attack on the U.S. consulate there that killed four Americans. 

That’s according to a Fox News poll released Thursday.

Sixty percent of voters want lawmakers to keep investigating what happened in Benghazi. That’s down from 65 percent who felt that way in November, and a high of 73 percent in early June 2013. 

CLICK HERE TO READ THE POLL RESULTS.

A third opposes Congress continuing to investigate the attack (34 percent).

The 2012 attack took place in Benghazi, Libya on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. 

Senators Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and John McCain, R-Ariz., repeated their request March 31 for a Joint Select Committee to be appointed to investigate what happened in Benghazi. The senators also released a list of “unanswered questions on Benghazi attack” at a press conference April 9 -- several days after former acting CIA Director Michael Morell testified in front of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence April 2. McCain said Morell’s testimony raised more questions than it answered. 

The number of voters wanting the investigation to continue is down among Democrats, Republicans and independents. For Democrats, 42 percent say the investigation should continue, down from a high of 58 percent who said the same in early June 2013.

Among Republicans, 77 percent want Congress to keep looking into the attack, down from a high of 93 percent (June 9-11, 2013).

For independents, it is 61 percent today, down from a high of 74 percent (June 22-24, 2013). 

By a margin of 61-26 percent, voters believe that the White House is “trying to cover-up” what happened in Benghazi rather than “being open and transparent.” Those views are mostly unchanged since last year.

About a third of Democrats (33 percent), two-thirds of independents (66 percent) and almost all Republicans (87 percent) say the Obama administration is hiding something on Benghazi.

Veterans (64 percent) and non-veterans (61 percent) alike see a cover-up. 

Who is to blame for what happened at the diplomatic facilities in Benghazi? Fifty-five percent blame former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton “a great deal” (26 percent) or “some” (29 percent) for what happened at the diplomatic facilities in Benghazi. That’s down from 60 percent who felt she was at least somewhat responsible earlier this year (January 2014).

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,012 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from April 13-15, 2014. The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

JERUSALEM, Israel -- After cancelling Wednesday's meeting, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are meeting again Thursday.

Wednesday's meeting would have taken place at the same time that slain Police Superintendent Baruch Mizrahi, shot dead by an Arab terrorist on the eve of Passover, was being laid to rest.  P.A. officials said the U.S. requested the postponement.

Mizrahi was buried Wednesday afternoon in Jerusalem's Mt. Herzl cemetery. His widow, Hadas, appealed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to release more Arab terrorists.

As the funeral was taking place, several left-wing lawmakers were meeting with P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. Right-wing MK Ofir Akunis said it was "unfortunate that while the victim of the terror attack is being buried in Jerusalem, MKs from Labor and Meretz found time to once again grovel to Abbas in Ramallah," the Jerusalem Post reported.

But despite all the posturing, P.A officials now say they're ready to continue the U.S.-brokered talks, an eventuality some predicted.

Earlier this month, Udi Segal, chief diplomatic correspondent for Israel's Channel 2, said Abbas would probably extend the talks because he didn't have "much to gain by breaking the rules right now." Segal said people in the State Department and even the White House "are starting to understand that Netanyahu is not the problem."

On Wednesday, Abbas' spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh told reporters the two sides had already agreed to continue meeting after April 29, when Secretary of State John Kerry's nine-month timeframe expires.

"No one is talking about an explosion or a breakdown in talks," Rudaineh said, a statement that negates previous statements by P.A. chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, who vowed talks would not continue one day -- or even one hour -- past the April deadline.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Media Watch posted a bulletin Thursday exposing the P.A.'s pattern of glorifying terrorists to the Palestinians while condemning terror to Israelis.

 

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Sen. Marco Rubio is questioning why a key State Department position that promotes religious freedom around the world has been left vacant for months, calling the delay a “concern.”

In a letter to President Obama Tuesday, Rubio, R-Fla., said he finds it troubling that no new ambassador-at-large has been appointed for the Office of International Religious Freedom since Suzan Johnson Cook’s resignation six months ago.

The office within the State Department develops policies regarding religious freedom and monitors religious discrimination and persecution worldwide. The department also releases an annual report on international religious freedom, which discusses the state of religious freedom in every country in the world.

Rubio said these important tasks require a highly-qualified individual be appointed to the post as soon as possible. He told Obama it is essential that the U.S. continue to be a “beacon of hope for all persecuted religious minorities.”  

“In your speech to the National Prayer Breakfast you explained that ‘promoting religious freedom is a key objective of U.S. foreign policy’ because it is in America’s interest to promote universal human rights, including with our allies,” Rubio said. “In order to display the United States’ dedication to religious freedom, we must have an Ambassador-At-Large in place to lead our efforts around the world.”

At the National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 6, Obama said is he looking forward to appointing a new ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, but gave no indication when he may do so.

Not even the nation's official head-counter will be able to keep track of the comprehensive impact of ObamaCare, critics warn. 

The Census Bureau is in the midst of significantly changing its survey questions on health care, which some fear will make it difficult to give an accurate reading of how many people have gained insurance under the law. 

The change was first reported by The New York Times. Republicans are now accusing the administration of overhauling the survey in order to obscure the effects of the Affordable Care Act. 

"If the administration truly wants to know how many people have insurance today because of the health law, it will swiftly reverse course," House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., said in a statement. "Did the health law work to insure the uninsured? A simple check of a box could answer that question. Sadly, we may never know -- and the administration seems just fine with that." 

ObamaCare enrollment ended for virtually everyone on Tuesday. The administration has touted that 7.5 million people signed up on the private exchanges, and more through Medicaid, since October. 

But that number may be misleading. The administration still has not said how many people have paid their first month's premium and, perhaps more importantly, how many people had simply signed up on the exchanges after being kicked off their old plans. The administration has not been able to provide a number showing the net increase in insurance coverage. 

Enter the Census Bureau. It was seen as a relatively reliable way to track the presumed increase in coverage. But changes in the survey questions have raised concerns that the bureau cannot offer an apples-to-apples comparison. 

Asked about the changes, administration officials stressed to Fox News that they could at least gather one year-to-year comparison that is consistent. The new questions will cover the 2013 year, an official said, so "there will be a full year of data to compare to the year ACA takes effect." 

Further, officials said the changes were years in the making, and that they were tested in 2010 and 2013 and found to work better. 

"The recent changes to the Current Population Survey's questions related to health insurance coverage is the culmination of 14 years of research and two national tests in 2010 and 2013 clearly showing the revised questions provide more precise measures of health insurance through improved respondent recall," Census Bureau Director John Thompson said in a statement. 

The Census Bureau has been at the center of political accusations since the very start of the Obama administration. Back in 2009, the administration decided to make the Census Bureau director work with the White House -- and not just the Commerce secretary -- leading to charges that the new Obama White House was trying to exert control over the ostensibly nonpartisan agency. 

The latest report revived those claims. 

"How convenient," Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, tweeted in reference to the Times report. 

Rory Cooper, spokesman for House GOP Leader Eric Cantor, tweeted that the administration is "now changing the CENSUS survey in order to hide failure of Obamacare." 

Nothing of the sort, officials suggest. 

Thompson said the change was announced in September and "implemented because the evidence showed that reengineering the questions provides demonstrably more accurate results. The Census Bureau only implements changes in survey methodology based on research, testing, and evidence presented for peer review." 

The Times reported that the changes were spearheaded by technical experts at the bureau. 

One internal document reportedly said it was just "coincidental and unfortunate timing" that the changes were going live around the time of the ObamaCare implementation. 

According to the Times, the old questions asked people if they had coverage at any point in the prior year. The new questions ask if they have insurance "at the time of the interview," which in this case took place in February, March and April. Officials use that and other data to try to determine coverage over the last 15 months. 

This is considered more accurate, according to the Times, because people often forget whether they had coverage in the past year when asked only that question. 

Census officials said that the new method will let survey takers then work "backwards through time about specific months of coverage."

Attorneys general from 19 states have joined forces with the Justice Department and Mount Soledad Memorial Association to save a four-story cross memorial honoring veterans in San Diego.

They've asked the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that the 60-year-old memorial atop Mt. Soledad doesn't violate the First Amendment. The cross was built in 1954 to honor of Korean War veterans.

They're also asking the high court to provide a clearer First Amendment test for lower federal courts to use in similar cases.

In 2006, the American Civil Liberties Union and Jewish War Veterans sued to remove the 43-foot structure. In December, a judge ruled in their favor, but stayed his decision while the case is being appealed.

The Department of Justice said the memorial is not an unconstitutional promotion of Christianity.

"The United States remains fully committed to preserving the Mount Soledad cross as an appropriate memorial to our nation's veterans," the agency said in their petition to the Supreme Court.

 

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A recent survey of 148 insurance brokers shows that ObamaCare is sending premiums rising at the fastest clip in decades.

"For the last, about, five years they've been doing this survey, so this was the largest percentage increase in any quarter since they've been doing (it)," said Scott Gottlieb of the American Enterprise Institute.

"But at 12 percent, 11 percent increase on average across all the states -- that puts it at the upper end of any increase we've seen for decades."

That is the national average in a survey done by Morgan Stanley. But in some states, it found rates are soaring.

"There are specific states with exorbitant increases," Gottlieb said. "Delaware had 100 percent increase, Florida had a 37 percent increase, Pennsylvania 28 percent increase, California had a 53 percent increase in their premiums."   

Rates vary widely, often depending on the state and how highly regulated it was to begin with. Analysts, however, say the main reasons for the higher costs are not medical inflation, but rather the requirements of ObamaCare itself.

"There are certain regulations and certain requirements that had to be in there. And because of that it's driven up the costs of these benefits," said John DiVito of the Flexible Benefit Service Corporation, which represents hundreds of agents.Rate hikes include ten essential health benefits along with more than 20,000 pages or regulations.

The reported hikes are for the first policies issued under ObamaCare in 2014.

The Congressional Budget Office or CBO issued a report Monday saying the average premium for the silver plan this year will be $3,800, or just over $300 a month, rising to $4,400 in 2016, 15 percent below its earlier estimates in 2009.

Those early, higher estimates make costs now look better – but that does not include deductibles of as much as $5,000.

But the estimates are comforting to the White House.

White House spokesman Jay Carney says, "It shows that marketplace health care costs have gone down because premium estimates have gone down."

The CBO also projects future premium increases over the next decade.

Insurance companies will soon have to set rates for 2015, and analysts fear reported higher costs now will mean increases next year, as well.

"They're going to see an announcement that next year's premium's going to be 25 percent or maybe 50 percent higher than what they're now paying," says John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

John Divito of Flexible Benefit Service Corporation said, "we're reading studies where the rates could be 10 to 30, 40 percent higher. Again, it all depends geographically where these rates are being looked at but definitely an increase in rates."

Scott Gottlieb, a medical doctor as well as an analyst, added, "We've seen insurance premiums go up quite a bit over the period in which ObamaCare started to get implemented."

Insurance executives say the same thing. Marc Bertolini, CEO of Aetna, recently told an earning conference that he anticipates 2014 spikes of 20 to 50 percent, going as high as 100 percent in some markets.

A Senate Republican said Sunday that party members will use the upcoming confirmation hearing for a new Health and Human Services secretary to get more information about ObamaCare, but dismissed the notion GOP lawmakers intend to turn the proceeding into a political witch hunt.

“The question is will the next secretary put the interests of Americans first, or the policies of the president,” Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, told “Fox News Sunday.”

Scott made clear the hearings in his committee and Senate Finance Committee will be an opportunity to discuss yet-to-be-disclosed final ObamaCare enrollment figures and related issues, but said, “We’re going to keep the focus on the American people, not politics.”

President Obama last week nominated Sylvia Burwell to lead HHS, following the resignation of Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who ran the department during the problem-filled ObamaCare rollout.

Burwell last year passed Senate confirmation 96-0 to run the Office of Management and Budget.

But Scott says that doesn’t mean he will automatically vote for her this time.

“No doubt she was a good choice for OBM,” Scott said. “But that doesn’t make her a good choice for HHS.”

Sebelius’ resignation and the hearings will likely force Democrats, particularly Senate Democrats in tough 2014 re-elections bids, to continue to defend ObamaCare, instead of pivoting to their issues, such as pay equality.

However, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., told Fox News on Sunday the hearings will be another opportunity for his party to tout ObamaCare success stories.

“This law has been immensely helpful to people across the country,” he said. “We can tell true stories, human stories.”

Despite Scott arguing the hearing will be about whether Burwell’s first obligation is to Americans, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told Fox News on Friday the hearings will present “an ideal opportunity to examine the failures that are ObamaCare.”

Still, Burwell will likely be confirmed, considering she’ll need only 51 votes, and Democrats have 55 members in the Senate.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the woman in charge of overseeing the president's health care law, is resigning only six months after its botched rollout.

White House Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell is set to take her place. The Obama administration is hoping a new face will signify a fresh start for Obamacare.

Sebelius' term at HHS was plagued by the disastrous rollout of the Affordable Care Act, including the crippling glitches on HealthCare.gov that persisted up to the final enrollment deadline of March 31.

"We do not have any reliable data around enrollment, which is why we haven't given it to date," Sebelius testified at a November hearing on Capitol Hill.

She also bore responsibility for the contraception mandate that forces religious business owners and groups to provide drugs that may induce abortion, something critics say violates the Constitution.

"Ultimately it is the federal government telling people of faith to violate their religious beliefs and if you don't, you're going to suffer fines and penalties," Jeff Mateer, general counsel with the Liberty Institute, told CBN News.

Still, Republicans say it's not Sebelius who's flawed but rather the health care law she defended. They warned that even after she's gone it will continue to fall short.
    
The Obama administration is fighting critics by touting new enrollment numbers, claiming 7.5 million people signed up by the March 31 deadline -- exceeding expectations.

But two new reports cast doubts on the rosy Obamacare numbers.
    
The Fiscal Times cites studies by the Rand Corporation and Express Scripts that show only 3.9 million people actually enrolled in insurance plans -- a number that falls far below even the lowest enrollment expectations.
    
The studies also note that those who did enroll don't provide the support needed to prevent increases in premiums or deductibles.
    
Express Scripts found that the incoming enrollees actually require more medical attention than previous risk pools, signs that huge challenges will still remain for Obamacare.
     
All are problems that now await the new Health and Human Services secretary.