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NEWS BRIEFS: OK gov. urges prayer for rain; Justice Dept. appeals DADT order

OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)–With her state in the middle of a severe drought, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has called on her state to join together Sunday to pray for rain.

The rainfall deficit matches records dating back to the 1930s-era Dust Bowl, according to state statistics. The drought has hit farmers especially hard and has led to more than 140 wildfires. Fallin issued a burning ban for 45 counties.

“I encourage Oklahomans of all faiths to join me this Sunday in offering their prayers for rain,” Fallin said in a July 14 statement. “For the safety of our firefighters and our communities and the well-being of our crops and livestock, this state needs the current drought to come to an end. The power of prayer is a wonderful thing, and I would ask every Oklahoman to look to a greater power this weekend and ask for rain.”

Fallin is a member of Oklahoma City’s Crossings Community Church, which is affiliated with the Church of God in Anderson, Ind.

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT APPEALS DADT ORDER — The Justice Department is asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse an order that would have ended the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy earlier than the government wanted.

The Ninth Circuit on July 6 lifted a stay from Nov. 1 that had prevented a lower court’s ruling overturning the policy from going into effect. The policy prevents homosexuals from serving openly.

In its request to the Ninth Circuit, the Justice Department asked that the court “permit the orderly process for repealing” the law to continue, Bloomberg news service reported. Under a law that President Obama signed last December, the policy would end, but only after the Pentagon prepares and trains military personnel and only after Obama, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff certify that it will not harm the military. Although certification is a foregone conclusion — because all three men oppose the policy — it has yet to take place and apparently is at least weeks away.

Last year, more than 60 retired chaplains signed a letter to Obama and then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates warning that a repeal would marginalize “deeply held” religious beliefs of military personnel and present a conflict when some chaplains, while preaching, “present religious teachings that identify homosexual behavior as immoral.” They warned that changing the policy could influence chaplains not only in what they could preach but in what they could say in a counseling session. A repeal, the letter further said, would harm morale because it would be casting “the sincerely held religious beliefs of many chaplains and Service members as rank bigotry comparable to racism.”
Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press.

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