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CULTURE DIGEST: Seizure of Texas prof’s computers, emails called troubling

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) — Although University of Texas professor Mark Regnerus has been cleared of alleged research misconduct in a study of gay parenting, the seizure of his computers and 42,000 emails by university officials is troubling, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

“It seems to us that UT Austin should take a closer look at its rules to make sure that the provision for sequestration does not become an open invitation to hassle and discourage researchers working within politically charged topics,” the foundation said, according to Fox News.

Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology, found that adults raised by parents in homosexual relationships were more likely to suffer from poor impulse control, depression, suicidal thoughts and other negative life experiences.

His study was larger and more random than most previous studies on the subject, and blogger Scott Rose, a homosexual activist, called for a formal investigation.

“None of the allegations of scientific misconduct put forth by Mr. Rose were substantiated either by physical data, written materials, or by information provided during the interviews [with Regnerus and Rose],” Robert Peterson, a UT research integrity officer, wrote in his report Aug. 24.

“… In brief, Mr. Rose believed that the Regnerus research was seriously flawed and inferred that there must be scientific misconduct,” Peterson wrote. “However, there is no evidence to support that inference.”

The merits of Regnerus’ study, Peterson said, “should be left to debates that are currently underway in the academy and future research that validates or invalidates his findings.”

David Hacker of Alliance Defending Freedom said, “America’s universities should always serve as truth-seeking, free marketplaces of ideas. Disagreeing with a study’s conclusions is not grounds for allegations of scientific misconduct; therefore, we are not surprised that those accusations were found to be baseless. We agree with the UT Austin inquiry’s conclusion that the academy is the appropriate place for debate about this study.”

PREACHERS ARRESTED AT GAY STREET PARTY — Hurricane Isaac didn’t stop thousands of gay revelers from partaking of “Southern Decadence” in New Orleans, but a few preachers who tried to witness at the homosexual Labor Day weekend party were arrested.

Police arrested eight preachers for yelling anti-gay slurs over bullhorns in violation of a city ordinance passed last October, The Times-Picayune newspaper reported.

The ordinance prohibits “any person or group of persons to loiter or congregate on Bourbon Street for the purpose of disseminating any social, political or religious message between the hours of sunset and sunrise,” according to The Picayune.

The preachers’ addresses, churches and religious affiliations were not identified in news reports, but the men were named as Patrick O’Connell, Rolando Igleasias, Cesar Chavez, Daniel Hoogerhuis, Danny Guevera, Larry Craft, Montes Diego and Gary Brown. The preachers disregarded police who warned against using bullhorns, according to news reports.

A ninth man, identified as Justin Craft, allegedly punched an officer who tried to confiscate a bullhorn and reportedly was arrested on suspicion of battery, resisting an officer and interfering with a law enforcement investigation.

Paul Gros, a French Quarter pastor who offers his Vieux Carre Assembly of God Church as a base for ministers protesting the event, said he believes the ordinance violates freedom of speech.

“I’m not saying I approve of everything they say and do,” Gros said.

The annual Southern Decadence is billed as the largest gay party in New Orleans. This year’s 41st event was held Aug. 29-Sept. 3, with an around-the-clock party on the streets of the French Quarter and nightly events at various nightclubs, according to the event’s website.

ELDERLY VIETNAMESE WOMAN SEEKS ABANDONED BABIES — A 74-year-old Vietnamese woman has provided final resting places during the last decade for the discarded bodies of more than 4,000 babies either aborted or abandoned.

Pham Thi Cuong rides her bicycle about six miles a day searching for babies, often left on sidewalks in plastic bags, to provide a proper burial for them. She cleans their bodies, prays for them and buries them in a public cemetery, Thanh Nien News reported Aug. 29. The article was based on reporting by VnExpress.

Cuong — who conducts her searches in the Nghia Hung District of the northern Vietnam province of Nam Dinh — began her mission 10 years ago after she found a baby inside a black plastic bag on the sidewalk as she went to the market to sell vegetables.

“I was startled to find a newborn infant breathing with difficulty when I unfolded the bag,” she said, according to Thanh Nien News. She searched for a new mother who could breastfeed the child, but the baby died before she found one.

As a result of that incident, she realized other babies might be abandoned after abortion or birth. Each day, she leaves her vegetables with another market vendor before beginning her efforts to find discarded children.

“It gives me the chills,” Cuong said of finding impaired babies who often are the prey of animals when she discovers them.

“But then I thought about their really short life of being abandoned, not even having a place to rest when they died, I still tried to bring them home.”

Cuong has received much criticism for not focusing on alleviating her own poverty, but she also has been praised by others, she said, according to Thanh Nien News.

Vu Van Bao, an elderly man, recently has begun helping Cuong in searching for abandoned infants.

BRITS USE NYC CLINIC TO CHOOSE CHILDREN’S GENDER — A New York City clinic is providing sex-selection services to British couples who want to “balance” their families — a practice that is outlawed in their home country.

The couples spend up to nearly the equivalent of $50,000 per trip to New York City in an effort to guarantee they have the child of the sex they desire, according to The Telegraph. Most of the clinic’s clients have two or more children of the same sex but want a child of the opposite sex, said Jeffrey Steinberg, director of Fertility Institutes in Manhattan.

The British government banned sex selection for “social or ‘family balancing'” reasons in 2009, The Telegraph reported. No such prohibition exists in the United States. About 15 percent of the New York clinic’s clients are British, Steinberg said.

“I have had leading British politicians from the UK coming here, to this office, for services that are outlawed in the UK,” Steinberg said, according to the British newspaper.

The female British clients begin their treatments in London clinics by taking drugs to stimulate egg production before traveling to New York City to complete the process, The Telegraph reported. After fertilization in the clinic, the embryos undergo pre-implantation diagnosis to determine their health and sex before the chosen ones are implanted.

British clients are “fairly evenly split, perhaps slightly [favoring] girls,” Steinberg told The Telegraph, while clients from China and India choose boys at a rate of 98 and 97 percent, respectively.

SOUTH KOREAN COURT UPHOLDS ABORTION BAN — South Korea’s highest court has affirmed the country’s nearly six-decade-old ban on abortion.

The eight-member Constitutional Court deadlocked at four votes for and four against overturning the ban Aug. 23, thereby allowing the law to stand. In South Korea’s system, six votes on the court are required to reverse the law, according to the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM).

South Korea enacted the abortion ban in 1953, but the government actually encouraged the practice for decades as a form of population control to promote economic growth, C-FAM reported. The law permits exceptions in cases of rape, incest or severe genetic impairments.

The government reversed course after the Pro-life Doctor’s Association came into existence in 2009 and brought the issue to the attention of South Koreans, according to C-FAM.

“Most abortions used to be easily performed because doctors or women undergoing abortions were not prosecuted even though abortion was illegal,” the physicians organization said in a statement after the court ruling. Though the country became economically healthy, the “trend of encouraging abortion was prevalent in our society and as a result, women used to be compelled by social pressure to undergo abortion.”

BAN ON EMBRYO SCREENING VIOLATES PARENTS’ RIGHTS — The European Court of Human Rights has ruled Italy infringed on the rights of a couple by prohibiting genetic screening of human embryos created by in vitro fertilization.

In an Aug. 28 decision, the court said Italy’s law violated the “right to respect for private and family life” in the European Convention on Human Rights. The judges said Italian law is inconsistent in permitting abortion if an unborn child is diagnosed with a disease while barring pre-implantation diagnosis of an embryo created by in vitro fertilization. If genetic screening detects a disease or impairment in an embryo, the parents could choose not to implant that embryo — likely resulting in the days-old child’s destruction or frozen storage.

The couple, Walter Pavan and Rosetta Costa, learned they both are cystic fibrosis carriers when they had a daughter born with the condition in 2006. When Costa became pregnant in 2010, genetic screening showed the child had cystic fibrosis. She had an abortion.

The court — based in Strasbourg, France — awarded the couple the equivalent of about $22,000.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Erin Roach and Diana Chandler of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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