This is the Urban Christian News podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to USA Today, Scores of workers at a Houston hospital system have been suspended and face being fired for refusing the COVID-19 vaccination, a controversial company mandate that has drawn protests and an outcry from those facing termination. Houston Methodist CEO Marc Boom said the 178 workers represent less than 1% of almost 25,000 employees. Boom said in an email to staff Tuesday, “We are nearly 100% compliant with our COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Houston Methodist is officially the first hospital system in the country to achieve this goal for the benefit of its patients.” Boom said that 27 of the 178 suspended workers have received one dose of vaccine and that he is hopeful they will get the second dose. All are suspended for two weeks and are set to be fired if they fail to be fully vaccinated. Amanda Rivera told KHOU-TV as she left the building Monday, “I feel betrayed a little bit. I worked in the ER. It was crazy during the pandemic. We were short-staffed. The hospital was over capacity with patients. It was just a lot. Now for them to come and do this is like a slap in the face.”
According to NBC New York, The 29-year-old Queens man accused of murdering a 10-year-old boy days before his birthday and trying to kill his uncle faced a judge for the first time Wednesday as a reeling city continues to call for action on guns amid the latest spate of violence. Jovan Young was being held without bail after his arraignment in a case that stirred grief and outrage from City Hall to the victim’s family’s neighborhood of Edgemere. Young also faces charges of assault and criminal possession of a weapon in the Saturday night shooting that claimed young Justin Wallace’s life and wounded his uncle inside a Beach Street home. The shooting prompted on all-out manhunt. Cops say Young walked into a police stationhouse Tuesday night and confessed to the deadly shooting. Two law enforcement sources told News 4 that Young was questioned earlier in the investigation and claimed to have been in a rental car linked to the case but not involved in the shooting itself. He also allegedly told police he would help find the shooter. After reviewing evidence including surveillance video at a car rental business, Young was confronted and later changed his story, the sources said. One source said a gun had also been recovered, but it wasn’t clear if it was the same one used in the shooting. Police were still uncertain of a motive, and said Young was not a member of a gang. They added that he does have previous offenses, but none were considered “serious.” If convicted, Young faces up to 25 years to life in prison.
According to Mission Network News, It’s been a rough year-and-a-half for many families in the United States. Plenty of people struggled with depression or other mental health issues, but good news emerged from the global crisis, too. Greg Yoder with Keys for Kids Ministries says, “People were clinging to God’s Word because that was the important thing; that’s what [gave] them comfort. People aren’t throwing their Bibles away [during] the pandemic. They’re digging into them, and that’s a good thing.” The American Bible Society is releasing key findings from its annual State of the Bible report between now and December. Over 181 million Americans opened a Bible in the past year, reversing a previous decline. Last spring, “we saw individuals [and] families coming to Keys for Kids Ministries to dig deeper into the Word. We saw a nearly 300% increase between April, May, and June ,” Yoder says. Keys for Kids Ministries provides Christian devotionals and other biblical resources for the Next Generation. They have age-appropriate material for both teens and kids under 12.
According to WTOP News, Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia has been ordered by a judge to reinstate physical education teacher Byron Tanner Cross, who was suspended days after telling the school board he would not refer to transgender students by their preferred pronouns because of his religious beliefs. In his ruling, Loudoun County Circuit Judge James Plowman said actions taken by the school system were unconstitutional, and that the school system’s handling of the situation was “extreme” and “vindictive.” Cross, who teaches at Leesburg Elementary School, was placed on leave less than 48 hours after telling the school board: “I’m a teacher, but I serve God first. I will not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it’s against my religion. It’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child and it’s sinning against our God.” Cross is represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit Conservative legal organization. In his ruling, Plowman wrote Cross “was speaking as a citizen, not in his official capacity,” as a teacher. The board meeting occurred “during nonworking hours at a forum where public comment was invited.”
According to the Associated Press, Authorities on Tuesday were looking for a hit-and-run driver who killed three young girls — two of them in wheelchairs — and left a fourth with life-threatening injuries as they walked along a Southern California desert highway. The California Highway Patrol said Willow Sanchez, 11, Daytona Bronas, 12, and Sandra Mizer, 13, all of Lucerne Valley, were struck shortly before 10:30 p.m. Saturday as they walked on Camp Rock Road and were struck by a white Chevrolet Silverado that drifted onto the shoulder of the road and struck them from behind. The crash occurred on a stretch of road in the Mojave Desert community in San Bernardino County. Natalie Cole, 14, was hospitalized in critical condition. Her mother, Sherrie Orndorff, told the station, “Her leg was amputated in the accident, all her other limbs are shattered and her liver is bleeding, her kidneys are struggling.” Orndoff said of the people in the truck, “You got our of your vehicle, looked at those dead and dying girls on the ground, and you ran.” Orndoff, who was Willow’s big sister, said the youngsters had been spending the night at her house and decided to go for a stroll. The driver and passenger in the truck stopped after the collision and used a flashlight to see who they had hit before running off without calling 911, leaving the truck, witnesses told family members.
According to the Associated Press, Authorities are investigating the death of a 19-year-old Marine Corps recruit during a strenuous exercise that caps a 13-week training course at South Carolina’s Parris Island. According to a Facebook post from officials with the installation — one of two Marine training depots in the country — Pfc. Dalton Beals died Friday during an exercise known as “The Crucible,” the final test of recruit training. Further details about Beals’ death, which remains under investigation, have not been released. Beals graduated in 2020 from Pennsville Memorial High School in Pennsville, New Jersey, the school noted in a Facebook post. Several days before Beals began The Crucible, his mother posted on Facebook about the details of the grueling exercise, which she called “the final leg of my baby’s journey to becoming a Marine!” The 54-hour effort, during which recruits are allowed limited food and sleep, includes 48 miles of hiking, loaded with heavy gear. A GoFundMe set up to help Beals’ family with funeral expenses noted that he had been set to graduate from training on June 18. There have been a number of recruit deaths through the years at Parris Island, which has been training Marines since 1915 on the island off South Carolina’s coast.
According to the Associated Press, A federal appeals court panel on Wednesday blocked Missouri from enforcing a sweeping state abortion law that bans the procedures at or after eight weeks of pregnancy. A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis heard arguments in September in the legal battle over the 2019 law. The measure also would prohibit a woman from having an abortion because the fetus has Down syndrome. Yamelsie Rodríguez, president and CEO of Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, called the ruling “a critical victory for Missourians.” Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt said in a statement that his son, Stephen, who has a rare genetic condition, autism and epilepsy, “has shown me the inherent beauty and dignity in all life, especially those with special needs. While we’re disappointed in the 8th Circuit’s decision, their decision does provide an avenue for this case to be heard by the Supreme Court, and we plan to seek review in the Supreme Court.” The lawsuit was filed by Reproductive Health Services, which operates the St. Louis abortion clinic, and the American Civil Liberties Union. A federal judge had blocked the law while the legal challenge plays out, prompting the state’s appeal to the 8th Circuit. U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs said at the time of his ruling last year that Planned Parenthood and the ACLU would likely succeed in their lawsuit alleging that the law is unconstitutional. Similar laws have been struck down in North Dakota and Iowa.
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In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!