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Last Build Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2017 14:49:28 -0500

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How Can Public School Students Exercise Their Religious Liberty Rights?

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 14:49:28 -0500

How can students in public schools exercise their constitutional religious liberty rights? In part three of our “Back to School” Facebook Live series, FRC policy experts Sarah Perry and Travis Weber discuss this important question. Here is a summary of some key points from this discussion: The First Amendment to the Constitution is the basis for religious liberty, particularly in its “free speech” and “free exercise” protections. The much talked-about “wall of separation” between church and state that is often misrepresented in our current culture is derived from the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which states that the government cannot mandate one faith that people must follow. This notion has often been misapplied to exclude any religious mention or prayer from the public square. In reality, the intent of the Establishment Clause is much more limited—it was meant to protect the “free exercise” of all religions by not “establishing” one religion in particular. Two principles should be kept in mind when considering whether an activity is protected by the free expression of religion in a public school setting: 1) is religion being treated equally with non-religion in any particular situation, and 2) is the religious activity or expression student-led or initiated? If a student is confronted for and prohibited from wearing a cross necklace, for example, the first step is to establish the facts of the incident. Parents can then take their concerns to the teacher or other official who is involved in the situation. If the situation is not addressed satisfactorily at the school level, public advocacy groups such as FRC, Alliance Defending Freedom, and First Liberty Institute should be contacted in order to draw attention to the situation through the media and for legal advice. The Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act was recently passed in Florida, prompted by two incidents of blatant religious liberty violation in which a student was commanded to remove their cross necklace, and another incident in which a student was reprimanded for reading a Bible during their free time. The Supreme Court established in Town of Greece v. Galloway that public prayer in a local government setting is constitutional in accord with the Establishment Clause, which means that public school employees like football coach Joe Kennedy should be allowed to take a knee in prayer at a football game. A school is permitted to keep order in their environments by limiting rights only when they materially and substantially disrupt the learning environment. Broadly speaking, however, this applies in very limited circumstances. Religious clubs must be permitted to operate in the same way as non-religious clubs in public school settings. During school, students have the right to pray as they want in a moment of silence and during lunch, read their Bibles, share their faith, hand out literature, and do other religious activities as long as they are not disrupting the school environment. Public school teachers, coaches, and officials are seen as representatives of the government and cannot set forth a principle of religion that people must follow. In their private time “off the clock” while at school, they can engage in any religious activities they choose. If teachers are unsure about the legality of a religious activity they want to engage in at school, they should seek legal advice before engaging in the activity in order to be safe from having litigation filed against them by a parent or the school. View the full video to find out more.[...]


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Why Are College Students Afraid of Free Speech?

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 13:50:20 -0500

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In a startling new survey of college students conducted by the Brookings Institution, it was found that fully one in five students think that “using violence to disrupt a controversial speaker is acceptable.” There were “no statistically significant differences in response by political party affiliation.”

Other results from the survey indicate that 51 percent of students think that “shouting over controversial speakers so they can’t be heard” is acceptable. Sixty-two percent of Democrats agreed that this behavior was acceptable, compared to 39 percent of Republicans.

These disturbing findings have been born out in recent in events on college campuses across the country. This past March, students at Middlebury College in Vermont physically assaulted a professor who was accompanying guest speaker Charles Murray as he attempted to leave the campus, whose planned speech was interrupted to the point that he could not continue it. Just last week, The University of California Berkeley had to spend $600,000 on security to ensure that violent riots did not break out during Ben Shapiro’s speech there.

One has to wonder, what is it about free speech that many college students are so afraid of? What is the point of using violent and disruptive tactics to silence speakers who may have viewpoints that differ from these students? Wouldn’t engaging in respectful debate be more beneficial for everyone involved? If a certain viewpoint is seen as being so terrible as to be violently suppressed, why not simply demonstrate the terribleness of this viewpoint through rational discourse?

The protection of free speech is an issue that people of all political viewpoints must demand as a protected First Amendment right on college campuses. Thankfully, there are hopeful signs that more and more people from across the political spectrum are waking up to the urgency of this free speech crisis. Recently, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens spoke eloquently about this on Real Time with Bill Maher:

“Too many campus administrators are basically cowed by small minorities of totalitarian-minded students who just don’t want to hear anything except what they’re disposed to agree with. The job of grownups is to behave like grownups and say, ‘no.’ Intellectually, a college is not a ‘safe space.’ Intellectually, a college is going to be a place where your ideas are harmed, and perhaps even destroyed, and that’s as it should be.”

Author and professor Salman Rushdie brought this point home superbly:

“A college should be a ‘safe space’ for thought, not a ‘safe space’ from thought. And if you go to college and you never hear anything you haven’t thought before, then you may as well have stayed home. And people who think that they should never hear things that would upset them should go somewhere else and leave that space available to somebody who can benefit from what is called ‘education.’”

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Social Conservative Review - September 15, 2017

Fri, 15 Sep 2017 12:36:57 -0500

Dear Friends, In discussing the “problem of pain,” author Joe Heschmeyer recently wrote that “…the whole story of the Fall is that things aren’t how they ought to be, how they aren’t how they were intended to be, and how we’re the ones who screwed them up. You can read that story in Genesis, or watch it on the nightly news.” Bishop Robert Barron summed up this state of affairs concisely: “The human race is best characterized as a dysfunctional spiritual family, all of us having been marked from birth by the effects of sin. Sin has found its way into every aspect of human life, personally and institutionally. We would be hopelessly naïve to think otherwise.” Atheists often argue that it is absurd to believe in God when there is so much “dysfunction,” suffering, and pain in the world. But as Heschmeyer points out, if there is no God, what can possibly account for all of the beauty in the world? He illustrates this by quoting the musician Joanna Newsom as she discussed what she was going through while recording an album: “The thing that I was experiencing and dwelling on the entire time is that there are so many things that are not OK and that will never be OK again,” says Newsom. “But there’s also so many things that are OK and good that sometimes it makes you crumple over with being alive. We are allowed such an insane depth of beauty and enjoyment in this lifetime. It’s what my dad talks about sometimes. He says the only way that he knows there’s a God is that there’s so much gratuitous joy in this life. And that’s his only proof. There’s so many joys that do not assist in the propagation of the race or self-preservation. There’s no point whatsoever. They are so excessively, mind-bogglingly joy-producing that they distract from the very functions that are supposed to promote human life. They can leave you stupefied, monastic, not productive in any way, shape or form. And those joys are there and they are unflagging and they are ever-growing…” This is part of what makes our Creator so amazing. Not only did He give us “a Savior, someone who can break into our dysfunction from the outside and heal us” (Bishop Barron’s words), He also gives us moments of “gratuitous joy” as we make our way through this earthly life. May we be forever thankful for this gift freely given to us, and may we freely give of ourselves in return. Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family. Sincerely, Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council   FRC Articles Can a Christian Serve as a Judge Anymore? – Travis Weber How the Left Uses Fake Science to Advance Its Agenda Will FEMA Treat Churches Fairly? – Travis Weber The Rights that Students and Parents Have to Challenge Transgender Policies Advice for Parents On Challenging Transgender Policies in Public Schools Masterpiece Cakeshop Attorneys File Merits Brief with the Supreme Court – Travis Weber   Religious Liberty Religious Liberty in the Public Square Why religious liberty matters for creativity – Jason Thacker, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Faith groups provide the bulk of disaster recovery, in coordination with FEMA – Paul Singer, USA Today What It’s Like to Be Smeared by the Southern Poverty Law Center – Carol M. Swain, The Wall Street Journal Senate Democrats show off their anti-religious bigotry – Michael Gerson, The Washington Post Media should not embrace far-left 'poverty' law firm – Colorado Springs Gazette Will the IRS investigate the SPLC on taxes? – Judson Phillips, The Washington Times Non-Profit Leaders Call on Media to Stop Citing Southern Poverty Law Center – Liberty McArtor, The Stream California bill seeks to punish ‘misgendering’ with jail time – Mary Rezac, Crux 3 Texas Churches Sue F[...]


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How the Left Uses Fake Science to Advance Its Agenda

Thu, 14 Sep 2017 10:40:04 -0500

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FRC hosted a Speaker Series event yesterday to launch Austin Ruse’s new book Fake Science: Exposing the Left's Skewed Statistics, Fuzzy Facts, and Dodgy Data. In his remarks, Ruse made the perceptive observation that fake science is more dangerous than fake news because scientific statistics, no matter their dubious origins, tend to lodge in our brains and stay there, whereas fake news is simply superseded by the next news cycle.

Here are some examples of the fake science that he cites in his book:

  • Proponents of Missouri’s constitutional amendment to legalize cloning in 2006 argued that it would lead to a plethora of treatments and cures for incurable diseases. Eleven years later, not one treatment or cure has been produced.
  • Sixteen years ago, Al Gore claimed that global warming would wipe out polar bears. Today, the polar bear population remains the same as it was when Gore made his claim.
  • Homosexuality is said to be inborn and unchangeable. Researchers have in fact never found a “gay gene,” nor have they found that those identifying as homosexual have different brains than everyone else.
  • The state of California claims that acrylamide, a naturally occurring chemical compound that is found in bread, cereal, cookies, potato chips, French fries, and other foods, causes cancer. In fact, one would have to consume 182 pounds of French fries per day to hit the cancer “danger zone.”
  • Activists and some scientists claim that genetically modified rice causes cancer. This has never been proven and could in fact save hundreds of thousands from blindness and even death. Approximately 250,000 children go blind every year because they lack an essential mineral that is found in this kind of rice. The rice has never gone to market because environmentalists have held it up for over 25 years.
  • Abortion advocates claim that pregnancy does not begin until the fertilized ovum attaches to the uterine wall. In fact, most medical textbooks and dictionaries still say that pregnancy, and therefore human life, begins at conception.
  • Sexual revolutionaries in the 60’s said and continue to say that children do not need their moms and dads. In fact, social science data shows voluminously that children do best when raised in the home of their married biological mother and father—anything less than this increases the risk of the child developing dangerous pathologies.

View the entire event to learn more about this important issue.

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Will FEMA Treat Churches Fairly?

Wed, 13 Sep 2017 07:37:37 -0500

Last week, three Texas churches filed a lawsuit against FEMA due to its policy of denying disaster relief to churches and other institutions simply because of their religious nature. Under FEMA’s public assistance disaster relief program, repair money is available to a host of entities providing both critical and noncritical services. Examples of noncritical services include venues hosting art classes, food assistance services, health and safety programs, senior services, museums, zoos, and even stamp and coin collecting. Moreover, aid is also available to what are termed “various social functions of community groups.” Yet churches are banned under this policy because they are “religious.” However, Hurricane Harvey didn’t discriminate in its choice of targets. When the storm hit the Texas coast, Harvest Family Church, Hi-Way Tabernacle, and Rockport First Assembly of God were all extensively damaged. Roofs caved in, trees fell in the buildings, and flooding caused serious damage to multiple structures. These churches need what is known as “emergency work” under FEMA’s public assistance program, yet they will be denied such relief because they are not “eligible” – solely because they are religious. Unfortunately, without debris removal and repair, according to the churches, people using their facilities and grounds face serious health and safety concerns as a result of “broken glass, sharp metal and wood, downed trees, falling limbs, mold and mildew, slick surfaces, and structures that are weakened by high winds and flooding.” While Harvey didn’t discriminate, FEMA did, and as a result the churches filed a lawsuit against FEMA challenging its ban as a violation of the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment. Under Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, a case the Supreme Court decided earlier this year, the government cannot discriminate against religious entities in a public grant program just because they are religious. The Court repeatedly made this point in its opinion in that case: “This Court has repeatedly confirmed that denying a generally available benefit solely on account of religious identity imposes a penalty on the free exercise of religion.” “The express discrimination against religious exercise here is not the denial of a grant, but rather the refusal to allow the Church—solely because it is a church—to compete with secular organizations for a grant.” “Trinity Lutheran is not claiming any entitlement to a subsidy. It instead asserts a right to participate in a government benefit program without having to disavow its religious character. . . . The express discrimination against religious exercise here is not the denial of a grant, but rather the refusal to allow the Church—solely because it is a church—to compete with secular organizations for a grant.” “In this case, there is no dispute that Trinity Lutheran is put to the choice between being a church and receiving a government benefit. The rule is simple: No churches need apply.” “The State in this case expressly requires Trinity Lu­theran to renounce its religious character in order to participate in an otherwise generally available public benefit program, for which it is fully qualified.” “The State has pursued its preferred policy to the point of expressly denying a qualified religious entity a public benefit solely because of its religious character. Under our precedents, that goes too far. The Department’s policy violates the Free Exercise Clause.” But the exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution all the same, and cannot stand. Likewise, the government can’t discriminate against the churches in this case. As the churches point out in t[...]


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The Rights that Students and Parents Have to Challenge Transgender Policies

Mon, 11 Sep 2017 15:07:32 -0500

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In part two of our “Back to School” Facebook Live series, FRC policy experts Sarah Perry and Cathy Ruse discuss the legal status of transgender policies in public schools, what rights students and parents have to fight these ideological policies, and much more. Here is a summary of some key points from this discussion:

  • Despite the fact that there is no federal mandate to enshrine transgender policies in public schools, individual schools and states can (and in some cases are) mandating these controversial policies.
  • This issue goes well beyond bathrooms – 17 different areas within school policy can be affected by the implementation of transgender ideologies, including showers, overnight sleeping accommodations, the forced use of pronouns, etc. In Fairfax County and some other school systems, little girls are being taught that they may grow up to be men, and little boys are being taught that they may grow up to be women.
  • Some public schools are now framing “children’s rights” in terms of students who identify as “transgender” using school as the time where they are free to express their “true selves”; if parents object to their children’s behavior, they are seen as being in the way of their children’s freedom.
  • Can schools force students to call a fellow student by the sex that they identify as (that is opposite from their biological sex)? Our First Amendment right to not be compelled to speak should guard against this, but this could very well be challenged in court in the future.
  • Most states do allow parents to opt their children out of sex-ed classes. However, “gender identity” is increasingly being taught outside of the sex-ed curriculum in “general health” classes where there is no option to opt out. Parents have to fight at the state level and the school board level for the right to opt their children out of any lessons they deem objectionable.
  • Students who are being forced to undress in locker rooms in front of those of the opposite biological sex can ask for accommodations to be able to use a separate facility; this may be the only short-term recourse.
  • In the vast majority of states, parents have the right to review curriculum, lesson plans, and lesson materials. If you can’t opt your child out of the objectionable material, you can at least prepare them for what they will encounter.
  • It is not the gender-confused child, their parents, the teachers, or the school that should be blamed in all of this; they may be under pressure from outside forces such as the state or transgender activists. Compassion is always the appropriate response. It is critical to remember that 80 to 90 percent of gender-confused children will ultimately accept their true biology. By “affirming” a child in the opposite gender, these policies are locking a child into something they will likely normally grow out of.

View the full video to find out more.

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Advice for Parents On Challenging Transgender Policies in Public Schools

Wed, 06 Sep 2017 08:37:32 -0500

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Just in time for the new school year, FRC presents its Facebook Live “Back to School” series. In our first video, FRC policy experts Sarah Perry and Peter Sprigg answer questions about transgender policies, gender pronouns, and more. Below are a few recommendations for parents regarding the increasing prevalence of transgender ideologies in school systems across the country.

  • If school board administrators at your child’s school claim that transgender policies must be put in place in public schools so that they will not lose federal funding, they are not being truthful. The Trump administration withdrew the Obama administration’s May 2016 guidance instructing schools to allow transgender students to use the locker rooms and restrooms of their choice.
  • Become a citizen advocate: Find out what precisely is being taught to your child regarding sexuality and what transgender restroom/locker room policies are in place. If you verify that radical transgender ideologies are being taught and/or enforced in your child’s school system, approach the school administration in hierarchical order with your concerns; this will ensure the best chance of success. Start with the classroom teacher; if your concerns are not satisfactorily addressed, move on to the school principal, then to the school superintendent, then to the elective school board.

View the full video to find out more.

For further guidance, be sure to download our brochure “A Parent’s Guide to the Transgender Movement in Education.”

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Masterpiece Cakeshop Attorneys File Merits Brief with the Supreme Court

Tue, 05 Sep 2017 12:39:58 -0500

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Last week, attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom (representing Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop) filed their merits brief with the Supreme Court. This is the primary written argument submitted to the Court explaining why Jack Phillips should win what could be the most important religious liberty case of the post-Obergefell era. After his opponents file their brief and the Court holds oral argument, it will decide this case sometime next year.

In their brief, Jack’s attorneys elaborate on a number of aspects of the case, including how and why Jack has a free exercise and free speech right to conduct his activities according to his faith as he sees fit. These are important arguments to understand, especially in light of all the misinformation being reported about the case.

You can find ADF’s brief here.

Given the importance of the case, FRC plans to file an amicus brief with the Supreme Court shortly, explaining why it should rule in Jack’s favor.

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Social Conservative Review - September 1, 2017

Fri, 01 Sep 2017 12:27:58 -0500

Dear Friends, In times of great crisis, it’s easy to feel like we are powerless, with no control over the direction of our lives. For the victims of the flooding in Houston and the surrounding region, feelings like these are certainly all too common right now. With the loss of family members, homes, and personal possessions, and with the surreal reality of not being able to recognize your own neighborhood and city because of flooding, I can only imagine the deep sense of loss and hopelessness that the flood victims must be going through, perhaps with no clear direction on how to move forward with life. For those of us who are not directly affected by the flooding and are feeling powerless to help, there are indeed direct ways that we can make a difference, first by praying for the victims and their families, and secondly by charitable giving if we are able. Strangely, great calamity can also bring with it a sense of serenity. How is this possible? Serenity can come when we realize that we are indeed powerless, and therefore are left with one option: simply to trust in God and do what we can, to move one foot in front of the other, to lend a helping hand wherever it is needed. Extenuating circumstances that are beyond our control have a way of forcing us to slow down, giving us a kind of tunnel vision to focus on the basics of life: food, clothing, shelter, helping those in need. This forced limitation of options and elimination of worldly distractions can bring with it a sense of peaceful resignation to accept whatever may come, because what other option is there? As we have seen in Houston, an amazing sense of solidarity can develop from these circumstances. A widespread disaster quickly makes it clear that despite people’s political and cultural differences, we are all ultimately in this thing called “life” together. As the flooding in Texas and every other immense catastrophe has shown, good always comes out of even the direst situations. When we humbly accept what comes our way, God rewards our trust with His grace, mercy, and love. Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family. Sincerely, Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council   FRC Articles Historical Revisionism – Ken Blackwell The Battle for Truth and Love – Marcus Harris Ways to Help Texas Flood Victims Science vs. Science on USDA Nominee’s Views of “LGBT Behavior” and “Choice” – Peter Sprigg International Religious Freedom in 2016: Still Work to Be Done – Travis Weber Why Is Iceland “Eradicating” People With Down Syndrome? – Dan Hart   Religious Liberty Religious Liberty in the Public Square 5-Year FRC Shooting Anniversary Offers A Study In Presidential Reactions To Hate Crimes – Mollie Hemingway, The Federalist Why Is the Southern Poverty Law Center Targeting Liberals? – Ayaan Hirsi Ali, The New York Times Christian ministry sues after being listed as 'hate' group alongside KKK and neo-Nazis – Harry Farley, Christian Today Southern Poverty Law Center Transfers Millions in Cash to Offshore Entities – Joe Schoffstall, The Washington Free Beacon J.P. Morgan’s Hate List – Kimberley A. Strassel, The Wall Street Journal Southern Poverty Law Center: ‘Our Aim In Life Is to Destroy These Groups, Completely’ – Tyler O’Neil, PJ Media SPLC ‘Hate Map’ Targets Christians, Pro-Family Groups – Joan Frawley Desmond, National Catholic Register Liberal law center demonizes Christian foes of LGBTQ agenda as ‘hate groups’ – Peter LaBarbera, LifeSiteNews Groups: Justice court filings defy Trump promises on religious freedom – John Solomon, The Hill A Wisconsin Judge Builds the [...]


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The Battle for Truth and Love

Wed, 30 Aug 2017 09:16:43 -0500

If one were to question the moral fortitude of current Christians in America, one might conclude that a generation of Christians would rather be culturally acceptable than identify with the commandments of Jesus. According to a survey conducted by the American Culture and Faith Institute, conservative pastors are reticent to speak about cultural issues for fear of appearing political and losing congregants. While many Christians around the world are courageously living in the midst of vile persecution for the sake of a faith they consider worth dying for, the American church has become sheepishly acquiescent to the demands for moral equivalency for the lifestyles of those who lack moral clarity. As the church, we have allowed the culture to define truth and love for us, and this has been a great detriment not only to our witness in the world, but to our own families. Whether we realize it or not, we are in a spiritual battle to define and live out the meaning of truth and love. Research has shown that with every subsequent generation, those who call themselves followers of Jesus continue to convert to the gospel of moral relativism. As a culture, we now value achieving self-fulfillment by any means necessary, even if those means are destructive. Even though a majority of Christians would agree that God is the author of moral truth, many actually believe that truth is relative to one’s experiences and life circumstances. Look no further than the growing acceptance of radical sexual autonomy among mainline protestant denominations and millennials to see how far we have fallen from the biblical standard of truth and love. Even though the Bible is clear about sin and its consequences, many Christians seem more concerned with appearing “judgmental” and “unloving” rather than calling people out of darkness into light. Ultimately, we need to repent and come back to the essence of what truth and love really entail. Simply put, Jesus is truth and love. You cannot have one without the other. He is the Lion and the Lamb. We either receive all of Him or none of Him at all. We cannot pick and choose which facets of Jesus’ nature we want to keep to fit our desires. The truth that has been established by God is eternal and will never bend to culture. It is the greatest story of love ever displayed. The truth is that God in his mercy sent Jesus to save us from our sins so that we may be holy and blameless before Him. The truth is that God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son so that all who believe in Him will not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). The fact of the matter is this: it is not very loving of us to give credence to sinful proclivities from which Jesus died to save the world. Those of us who have children know this to be fundamentally true. We would never, in the name of love, allow our children to run out onto a busy highway just because they believed it was their prerogative. The church in America must develop a backbone like the early church possessed, and speak the truth in love and grace. There is a battle being waged, and it is imperative that we let our love for God and His commandments shape how we think and live. As ambassadors of Christ, we have been called to be distinct and to call the world to reconciliation with God. It is only in a reconciled relationship with God that the world will find true freedom and the highest ideal of fulfillment.[...]


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Ways to Help Texas Flood Victims

Tue, 29 Aug 2017 10:56:06 -0500

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The scale of flooding that has inundated Houston and the surrounding region of Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey is shocking. As Christians, we are called to help those in need, first through prayer, and second through charitable work if we are able.

Here is a list of reputable organizations to donate to that are currently on the ground providing much needed aid:

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Science vs. Science on USDA Nominee's Views of "LGBT Behavior" and "Choice"

Mon, 28 Aug 2017 14:01:32 -0500

The Left is going after another of President Trump’s nominees to an executive branch post—Samuel H. Clovis, Jr., who has been tapped to serve as Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education, and Economics. When his nomination was announced last month, the chief focus of the administration’s critics was that Mr. Clovis is “not a scientist,” yet is being nominated to be the Department of Agriculture’s “chief scientist.” He was also attacked for being a “skeptic” on the issue of “climate change” science. Critics focused on Clovis’ background as a radio talk show host and an unsuccessful political candidate—glossing over the fact that he has both an MBA and a Ph.D. in Public Administration, and had been a professor of economics at two different colleges (thus checking off both the “Education” and “Economics” parts of the job for which he has been nominated). Recently, however, Mr. Clovis came under further attack for something seemingly unrelated to agriculture—namely, his position on homosexuality. Critics mined his radio commentaries for remarks they considered controversial—such as slippery slope arguments regarding the consequences of redefining “marriage” to include same-sex unions. However, one critique caught my eye in particular. Writer Gary Legum, in an opinion piece in the Independent Journal Review, said the following (quoting in turn a CNN article about Clovis): On the other hand, while Clovis might not believe the issue of a biological basis for sexual attraction is settled, people with scientific and medical training are fairly sure about it: [Quote] Clovis has repeatedly argued that the science on homosexuality is unsettled and that “LGBT behavior” is a choice. The American Psychological Association has said that while there is no scientific consensus on the causes of sexual orientation, “most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.” [End quote] Let’s first look at the CNN quote. Although presented in such a way as to imply that there is a contradiction between Clovis’ view and the ostensibly “expert” opinion of the APA, there is actually no difference between them. Clovis’ view that “the science on homosexuality is unsettled” and the APA’s view that “there is no scientific consensus on the causes of sexual orientation” are different ways of saying the exact same thing. In reality, it is Mr. Legum’s declaration that “people with scientific and medical training are fairly sure about” there being “a biological basis for sexual attraction” that is directly contradicted by the APA’s statement that “there is no scientific consensus on the causes of sexual orientation.” The “choice” issue requires a more careful examination. The APA is quoted as saying that “most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.” This is entirely true—if you use the first definition of “sexual orientation” that is offered in the APA document being quoted: “Sexual orientation refers to an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic and/or sexual attractions [emphasis added] to men, women or both sexes.” Mr. Clovis, however, did not refer to LGBT “attractions”—he referred quite explicitly to “LGBT behavior.” “Attractions” are internal, subjective, and psychological; “behavior” is external, objective, and physical. They are not the same thing at all. The APA document does go on, however: Sexual[...]


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International Religious Freedom in 2016: Still Work to Be Done

Thu, 24 Aug 2017 08:32:01 -0500

Last week, the State Department released its report assessing religious freedom around the world during 2016. Many of the usual suspects we think of when addressing religious freedom violations overseas were covered by the report, and continue to reveal their religious freedom violations: Iran continues to imprison people for “insulting the prophet” and “enmity against God” – both of which can merit the death penalty. Within Syria, ISIS “killed dozens through public executions, crucifixions, and beheadings of men, women, and children on charges of apostasy, blasphemy, homosexuality, and cursing God.” Within Iraq, the group continued to “commit individual and mass killings, and to engage in rape, kidnapping, random detentions and mass abductions, torture, abduction and forced conversion of non-Muslim male children, and the enslavement and sex trafficking of women and girls from minority religious communities.” Saudi Arabia still outlaws all religions except Islam from being publicly practiced, even criminalizing “any attempt to cast doubt on the fundamentals of Islam.” The government there has continued to enforce a comprehensive anti-religious freedom legal regime, including imprisoning people for blasphemy and apostasy. China continues to reportedly detain and harass both registered and nonregistered religious groups in the country. Yet new religious freedom problems have also emerged in recent years, and in places not traditionally associated with religious freedom violations – like Western Europe. They are also documented in the report: In the United Kingdom, a university “expelled a Christian graduate student after he expressed his opposition to gay marriage on social media because of his Christian beliefs.” Elsewhere in Europe, such as France, attacks against Jews, Muslims, and Christians because of their religion have continued to occur. We should specifically take note of the expelled U.K. graduate student, for the same forces opposed to a religious belief that marriage is only between one man and one woman are the same forces operating in the United States and elsewhere around the world. As we increasingly face domestic religious freedom problems related to this issue, this example is a reminder that we must guard the same religious freedom at home which we fight for around the world. Neither can be taken for granted. The 2016 report is a valuable resource for assessing the state of religious freedom around the globe. It isn’t perfect – it aims a bit too broadly at times, commenting on matters such as speeches directed at immigration policy in Europe, or, for instance, an investigation into alleged tax fraud in the Muslim community in Denmark. These are not substantive religious freedom violations, and including them in such a report diminishes real religious freedom problems such as imprisonment for sharing one’s faith. Reasonable people will disagree over the precise role of religion in democracies, and a religious freedom violation does not occur every time someone remarks on the role of religion in a larger social controversy. All in all, the report is a valuable tool to continue to address religious freedom shortcomings worldwide. While this can be done in several ways, one very helpful step would be to incorporate the issue more broadly into our foreign policy. With the appointment of Governor Brownback as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom at the State Department, we have an opportunity to do just that – and more – as we look ahead with the new foreign policy of the Trump administration.[...]


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Why Is Iceland "Eradicating" People With Down Syndrome?

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 12:19:13 -0500

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Yesterday, an article appeared on CBS News stating that “few countries have come as close to eradicating Down syndrome births as Iceland.” It turns out that Iceland has made prenatal screening for Down syndrome an enormously commonplace occurrence for pregnant mothers, which has resulted in “close to 100 percent” of them choosing to abort their babies.

It’s telling that the authors of the article chose to phrase this situation by saying Iceland has come close to “eradicating Down syndrome births,” as if this were akin to the country eradicating a disease like malaria.

One has to wonder, who convinced Iceland that people with Down syndrome are such a big problem that they must be completely eliminated from the entire country? According to Helga Sol Olafsdottir, an Icelandic hospital worker, “[w]e ended a possible life that may have had a huge complication... preventing suffering for the child and for the family.”

As it turns out, just the opposite is true. A full 99 percent of people with Down syndrome say they are happy with their lives, while 97 percent “like who they are.” In addition, “[99] percent of parents said they loved their child with DS and 97 percent were proud of them,” and “96 percent [of siblings] indicated that they had affection toward their sibling with DS, with 94 percent of older siblings expressing feelings of pride.”

Seeing proof of this is as simple as doing a quick YouTube search for “down syndrome,” which produces dozens of examples that explode the anti-Downs prejudice that killing them before birth will “prevent suffering.” Here is a tiny sampling of how those with Downs are not only flourishing, but are bringing joy to all those around them:

Instead of “eradicating” a perceived health problem, Icelanders are unwittingly eradicating joy, happiness, and innocence from their midst.

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Social Conservative Review - August 15, 2017

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 14:41:29 -0500

Dear Friends, For the first time since the 1930’s, the overall life expectancy rate in America has declined. Why? Because the suicide rate is increasing all over the country. There are a multitude of factors that have contributed to this increase. However, all of these factors can be boiled down to one primary cause: despair. From where is this increasing level of despair coming from? I would argue that one of the primary causes for increasing despair is increasing unbelief in God. The Pew Research Center reports that 23 percent of Americans currently describe themselves as “nones,” or those who consider themselves either atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular.” This number has been steadily rising since at least 1972, when “nones” made up seven percent of the population. In just the last 10 years, this number has jumped eight percent, from 15 to 23 percent. It has been statistically verified that those who attend religious services are far less likely to commit suicide: In a study of 89,000 people “between 1996 and 2010, those who attended any religious service once a week or more were five times less likely to commit suicide.” In another study, “of the 6,999 Catholic women who attended Mass more than once a week, none committed suicide” (emphasis mine). Without a belief system built on divine revelation, human beings will form their own belief systems around whatever suits them. The secular world is more than happy to fill this demand for what to believe—we are constantly bombarded by the news media and popular entertainment about what we should believe is right and wrong, what is good and evil, what is tolerant and intolerant, what constitutes equality and inequality, etc. If we don’t have religious belief that provides a moral framework grounded in absolute truths, we put ourselves in the risky position of having to ultimately trust in human beings for the ultimate answers. The inevitable culmination of purely human thinking is despair, because we are and never can be ends in ourselves. As discussed previously, we know where despair can eventually lead. Christ reveals an infinitely better way: divinely revealed truth. In Matthew 16:23, he rebukes human thinking: “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” As Christians, we must do all we can to turn back the tide of unbelief that is steadily rising in America, trusting not in the ways of man, but in the ways of God. Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family. Sincerely, Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council   FRC Articles 'Sanctuary Cities' Aren't Brave. They're Obstructing Law Enforcement. – Ken Blackwell When We Choose Love Over Fear, God Stretches Our Hearts – Dan Hart Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions is bringing the hammer down on leaks – Ken Blackwell The Decay of Liberty and the Rule of Law in 21st Century America – Peter Johnston Human Sexuality and the Goodness of Marriage – Clara Ramos and Shania Burch Iran Heightens Its Crackdown On Christians – Dan Hart Attention Millennials: True Religious Freedom May Make You Feel Uncomfortable – Mary Beasley   Religious Liberty Religious Liberty in the Public Square Religious Liberty Protection Kit for Students and Teachers – First Liberty Cake Wars And The Coming Conflict Over Religious Liberty – Nathanael Blake, The Federalist The Threat of Free Speech in the University – Roger Scruton, Ethics & Public Policy Center Christian wins the right to r[...]


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