CULTURE DIGEST: Swedish regulators push gender-neutral Christmas catalogues
CNS News, the Media Research Center's news service, showed images of Sweden's Toys "R" Us Christmas 2012 catalog depicting a boy cuddling a doll and a girl shooting a fake gun. Similarly, BR Toys' catalogue for Sweden features a boy hairdressing a little girl.
"With the new gender thinking, there is nothing that is right or wrong. It's not a boy or a girl thing, it's a toy for children," Jan Nyberg of Top Toy, which holds the Swedish franchises for Toys "R" Us and BR Toys, told the Swedish news agency Tidningarnas Telegrambyra.
Top Toy was reprimanded by Sweden's advertising regulatory body in 2008 for depicting traditional gender roles in its Christmas catalogue that year, and Nyberg said the company received "training and guidance" from regulators about gender stereotypes, CNS reported.
Sweden sparked controversy earlier this year by officially adding a gender-neutral pronoun to its lexicon, according to CNS. In Swedish, the word for "he" is "han" while the word for "she" is "hon." The new pronoun, "hen," can be used to refer to someone without indicating gender.
LITTLE ROCK SCHOOL IN FLAP OVER 'CHARLIE BROWN' CHRISTMAS -- Charlie Brown is causing quite a stir for one elementary school.
An atheist group is taking issue with Terry Elementary School in Little Rock, Ark., for inviting students to a performance of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" at a local church, KARK 4 News reported.
In a letter sent home by first- and second-grade teachers at the school, children were invited to voluntarily attend the Dec. 14 performance at Agape Church, if they pay $2 to cover the cost of school buses carrying them to and from the show, which will be held during school hours.
A parent whose daughter attends the school notified the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers, concerned that opting for her daughter not to attend the play would open the girl up to ridicule by her classmates.
"We're not saying anything bad about Charlie Brown," Fox News quoted Anne Orsi, vice president of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers, as telling KARK. "The problem is that it's got religious content and it's being performed in a religious venue and that doesn't just blur the line between church and state, it oversteps it entirely."
A spokeswoman for the Little Rock School District told Fox News the district does not encourage specific religious activity or endorse any specific faith.
KARK reported that Agape Church released the following statement: "We hope the complaint or question of a few does not override the opportunity for everyone. This production also included a food drive for area pantries, and we hope that purpose is not lost as well."
SITCOM STAR CALLS HIS SHOW 'FILTH' -- Angus T. Jones, one of the stars of the sitcom "Two and a Half Men," has a new message for fans: Stop watching the show.
The 19-year-old Jones made his appeal in a YouTube video posted on a channel called The Forerunner Chronicles, in which he describes how he became involved with the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
"If you watch Two and a Half Men, please stop watching Two and a Half Men. I'm on Two and a Half Men; I don't want to be on it. Please stop watching it. Please stop filling your head with filth," Jones said in the Nov. 26 video.
"Do some research on the effects of television in your brain, and I promise you you'll have a decision to make when it comes to the television, and especially with what you watch on the television. It's bad news."
Speaking about the dangers of being lukewarm in his faith, Jones added that he believes it's impossible to be a Christian and still appear on Two and a Half Men.
"You cannot be a true God-fearing person and be on a television show like that. I know I can't," he said in the video. "I'm not OK with what I'm learning, what the Bible says, and being on that television show. You go all or nothing."
On Nov. 27, Jones issued a statement which read in part, "I apologize if my remarks reflect me showing indifference to and disrespect of my colleagues and a lack of appreciation of the extraordinary opportunity of which I have been blessed. I never intended that."
PEDIATRICIANS PUSH 'MORNING-AFTER' PILL FOR MINORS -- The country's leading pediatrics association has urged its members to provide information about the "morning-after" pill to under-age, female patients and give them prescriptions in advance for the drug, which can cause abortions.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, which has 60,000 members, made the recommendation Nov. 26, according to Reuters News Service. If heeded by pediatricians, the policy would enable girls under 17 to acquire the "morning-after" pill more quickly after sexual intercourse.
Under federal regulations, girls 16 and under must have prescriptions to buy the drug. Women 17 and older do not need a prescription, but they must request the drug from pharmacists, who stock it behind their counters.
The "morning-after" pill, also known as emergency contraception, is basically a heavier dose of birth control pills. There are two-step versions -- Plan B and Next Choice -- and one-step versions -- Plan B One-Step and Next Choice One Dose.
Under the two-part regimen, a woman takes a pill within 72 hours of sexual intercourse and another dose 12 hours later. The one-step version is taken in a single dose within 72 hours.
The "morning-after" pill can restrict ovulation in a woman or prevent fertilization, but it also can block implantation of the early embryo in the uterine wall. The latter effect causes an abortion, pro-life advocates point out.
PRO-LIFE CONGRESSMAN AGREED WITH FIRST WIFE'S ABORTIONS --
A pro-life Tennessee congressman supported his first wife's two abortions, according to a court transcript released Nov. 15.
Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a Republican, said Nov. 21 he did not plan to resign, explaining his view on abortion has changed over time, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported. "[Abortion] was just not something that I put as much thought into as I should have, in retrospect," said DesJarlais, who was a doctor before being elected to Congress in 2010. "Going back, if I could change and do things differently, certainly I would."
DesJarlais won re-election Nov. 6, about a week before a judge released the transcript from his 2001 divorce trial.
The two abortions by his former wife helped him adopt a pro-life stance, DesJarlais said. His marriage to his second wife, Amy, about 10 years ago also helped shape his view, he said. She chose to get married and have a baby after becoming pregnant while in high school, according to the News Sentinel. Her first husband died when their son was 3 years old, and DesJarlais helped rear him after Amy and he were married.
DesJarlais also said he regrets having sexual relationships with several women while he was chief of staff at Grandview Medical Center in Jasper, Tenn., the newspaper reported. His partners in those relationships included three co-workers and two patients.
NEARLY 500 BABIES DIE AFTER LIVE BIRTHS FOLLOWING ABORTIONS --
Nearly 500 babies were born alive after failed, late-term abortions and left to die in Canada during the first decade of this century.
Statistics Canada reported 491 babies of 20 weeks' or more gestation were born alive after unsuccessful abortions and permitted to die from 2000 to 2009, according to the pro-life blog Run With Life.
A Canadian lawyer questioned why there have been no homicide investigations or prosecutions in the infants' deaths.
"The lack of prosecution demonstrates two things: first, that political correctness surrounding the abortion issue trumps common sense, common decency and the rule of law; and second, that those who advocate for this type of [behavior] are truly pro-abortion and not pro-choice," wrote Andre Schutten, legal counsel for the Association for Reformed Political Action Canada, Nov. 19.
Compiled by Baptist Press Washington bureau chief Tom Strode and John Evans, a writer in Houston. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).