Transgender Military. The U.S. Department of Defense last Tuesday issued new guidelines for transgender military personnel. After April 12, both enlistees and current personnel will serve in the military as their biological sex. The military will not pay for hormone treatment or sex change surgery. In 2016, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter repealed the ban on transgender military service. In 2017, President Trump directed the Pentagon to bar transgender recruits but gave then–Defense Secretary James Mattis discretion on how to handle transgender service members already serving. Lawsuits prevented implementation of the Trump policy, but a federal judge lifted the last of four injunctions against it on March 7. From 2015 to 2017, 994 active duty service members diagnosed with gender dysphoria accounted for 30,000 mental health visits.
New Age Rising? Did you think New Age was a dying worldview, leftover from the 1970s, when EST was popular, or the 1980s, when actress Shirley MacLaine’s New Age treatise Out On A Limb topped the best-seller lists? Well, it’s ba-ack. A fascinating article in WORLD finds that in recent years “tarot card sales have been steadily climbing, according to distributor U.S. Game Systems.” Also on the rise, various forms of meditation, which according the National Institutes of Health has tripled among the population as a whole, which has increased “tenfold among children ages 4 to 17.” The WORLD article defines “New Age” as “a 1970s movement that incorporated occult and metaphysical beliefs and practices, including meditation, medium readings, astrology, and alternative medicines as the means to personal and social transformation.” A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 62 percent of Americans hold at least one New Age belief. Even more troubling: Among self-described evangelicals, 19 percent believe in reincarnation, and 33 percent said they believe in psychics.
Aunt Becky Gone. The Hallmark Channel cut ties with actress Lori Loughlin after she was charged with crimes in a multimillion-dollar college admissions cheating scandal. Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of paying bribes to get their daughter into college. At least 30 other parents, and some college coaches and other personnel, have also been charged as a result of a federal investigation. Loughlin had been a Hallmark Channel favorite, starring in a number of Christmas movies as well as the popular series When Calls the Heart. She also played Aunt Becky on the sitcom Full House from 1987 to 1995.
Chance Wedding. Chance the Rapper has become an interesting pop culture icon. The musician’s songs often put mentions of Christian faith alongside references to sex and drugs. That’s why he caught our attention a few months ago when he said he was taking a sabbatical from performing to study the Bible. “I’m going away to learn the Word of God which I am admittedly very unfamiliar with,” he said. “I’ve been brought up by my family to know Christ, but I haven’t taken it upon myself to really just take a couple days and read my Bible.” Now, he’s back, and he married his long-time girlfriend, Kirsten Corley. Chance, whose real name is Chancelor Jonathan Bennett, has known Corley since they were both children. They have a 3-year-old together, and a baby due in September. He says he’s been legally married to Corley since December, but chose to announce the marriage this week. He also credits Corley with helping him “find God.”
Milestones. William Jennings Bryan was a U.S. Secretary of State, member of congress, and the attorney who argued the case for a creator during the famous Scopes Trial in Dayton, Tennessee, in 1925. He was born on this date in 1860…. The famous missionary and explorer David Livingstone was born on this date in 1813. Livingstone was called the greatest African missionary, but he is known to have been responsible for the conversion of only one man, a tribal chief named Sechele. However, Sechele became a zealous evangelist, and some missiologists credit him with the rise of Christianity in Africa. At one point in his explorations, Livingstone dropped out of sight in Africa for six years. Journalist Henry Stanley was sent to find him. When they met, on November 10, 1871, Stanley supposedly said, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” The greeting became a catch-phrase throughout the world.