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Emotionally Manipulative Videos Can't Save Planned Parenthood

Fri, 19 May 2017 15:40:22 -0500

First, it was Star Wars director J.J. Abrams. Now, Avengers director Joss Whedon has joined the Planned Parenthood bandwagon. A Whedon-directed video entitled “UNLOCKED” was recently released portraying Planned Parenthood as the savior of women by providing cancer screenings, STD prevention classes, and birth control. It’s a video that is long on emotional, slow-motion tracking shots accompanied by heart-rending orchestration, but short on factual reality. The first myth of “UNLOCKED” is that without Planned Parenthood, countless women would be robbed of vital cancer screenings. But this is simply not the case. According to Planned Parenthood’s own numbers, they provide a fraction of care nationwide: Planned Parenthood performed 271,539 Pap tests in fiscal year 2014-15, out of 28.1 million tests nationwide. That’s less than 1% of the nation’s Pap tests. Planned Parenthood performed 363,803 clinical breast exams (these are not mammograms) in fiscal year 2014-15, out of 20 million exams nationwide. Planned Parenthood’s U.S. market share for clinical breast exams is 1.8%. Planned Parenthood’s market share in the nation’s mammograms is 0.0%. Meaning, no, they do not provide any mammograms… at all. It’s clear from these numbers that the 13,540 health care centers in the U.S. would have no problem picking up an additional 1-2% of cancer screenings, showing that Planned Parenthood is in no way “vital” to women’s health care. Another myth propagated by the video is that women need birth control pills in order to save them from a life of uneducated misery in servitude to a baby. This is dramatized by showing a pregnant young woman crumpling up a college scholarship, while her mother wails in agony. But if “female empowerment” is the goal, why portray an unplanned pregnancy as a hopeless void? Can’t a situation that millions of women have experienced instead be an opportunity for new beginnings and the pursuit of new dreams? The answer is a resounding “yes.” Here is another example. And here is a direct response to Whedon’s video from a woman who experienced an unplanned pregnancy herself: “Unlike the video, I had scholarships and I used them and I kept them because that’s obviously an option. And I succeeded.” An additional glaring hypocrisy presented in “UNLOCKED” is that it positively portrays STD prevention classes and birth control pills side by side as if both are vital services to promote young women’s health. But if preventing STDs is the goal, birth control pills certainly aren’t going to help. They will in fact heighten the problem if used by young, unmarried women because of the lifestyle they inherently promote: consequence-free sex with whoever you want. All of this is mere window dressing to what Planned Parenthood’s business is really all about: abortion. It’s by far the most massive irony in “UNLOCKED”—the biggest “service” that Planned Parenthood provides isn’t given even a passing mention in the video. One third of all abortions committed in the U.S. are done at Planned Parenthood, and the resulting baby body parts are sold for profit. It’s no surprise that Joss Whedon decided not to include that scene in the final cut.[...]


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New Research Shows "Adult-Like" Nerves in Very Young Embryos: Affirming the Likelihood of Fetal Pain

Tue, 16 May 2017 10:10:29 -0500

This article first appeared at CareNet. This new research shows that the nervous system of an embryo is quite complex by the time most women find out they are pregnant. A study published in March 2017 reveals "adult-like" pattern of nerves established before the end of the first trimester. This new dose of science and technology should inform our fetal pain debate. The study generated 3D images at the cellular level of actual human embryos ranging from 6 to 14 weeks gestation (4 to 12 weeks post-fertilization), as never before seen. These images show nerve, muscular, cardiovascular, and other organ system development. The results are incredible. For example, below is an image of the complex peripheral nerves of an embryo at 7 to 8 weeks gestation (5-6 weeks post-fertilization): The second image shows the nerves on the right hand of embryos from 7-11 weeks gestation (5-9 weeks post-fertilization). Even at 7 weeks gestation, the development is quite advanced—even more so at 11 weeks. All of this is happening in the first trimester! What this new research shows is that the nervous system of an embryo is quite complex even by 5 weeks post-fertilization when quite often, the mom is only finding out that she is pregnant after missing her first period. We already know that "pain receptors appear around the mouth at 4 to 5 weeks post-fertilization, followed by the development of nerve fibers, which carry stimuli to the brain. Around 6 weeks post-fertilization, the unborn child first responds to touch. By 18 weeks post-fertilization, pain receptors have appeared throughout the body." We also know that there is no question, biologically speaking, about whether an unborn child can feel pain by 20 weeks post-fertilization at the very latest, since by then they have the full anatomy to process pain and also the neurobiology to transmit painful sensations to the brain and to perceive pain. Studies show that babies can feel pain by their increased hormonal stress response and by wincing when they are exposed to painful stimuli. It should come as no surprise that it is common practice for doctors to administer anesthesia before performing in-utero surgeries on preborn babies. When administered, anesthesia decreases the stress response in preborn babies when compared to their hormone levels when painful stimuli are applied without any anesthesia. Twenty states have already passed laws banning abortions after 18 or 20 weeks post-fertilization because of the capacity for unborn children to experience pain, with Iowa being the latest to pass such legislation. A few weeks ago, people gathered for the March for Science. If we are to be honest, science shows us the clear-cut reality and complexity of embryonic development in the earliest weeks of the first trimester. This is an inconvenient reality for those who rely on ideology instead of science to deny the humanity of preborn children and their capacity to feel pain. In our culture, there are those who will have more compassion for animals than for babies who are given a death sentence because of their age and location. We will continue to fight until every one of these vulnerable preborn babies are protected -- by our laws and our culture. It is not enough to recognize that these children feel pain when aborted; we must empower those around us to make life-affirming choices. Only then will our nation become one where it is safe to be in the womb.[...]


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Social Conservative Review - May 15, 2017

Mon, 15 May 2017 14:01:13 -0500

Dear Friends, A few weeks ago, an event occurred on my morning commute to work that has stuck with me ever since. As I was exiting the metro car at my station stop, I noticed a man standing to the side of the door outside of the car, waiting for myself and other passengers to exit before entering. His head was turned to his right, angrily glowering at a woman who was also outside of the car waiting to get on. As I stepped out of the car, I overhead the woman say in a low, even, and slightly nervous tone, “You heard me.” I instantly knew that she must have just uttered an insult, and was doubling down on it. As I walked out of the metro station, I felt a churning clump in the pit of my stomach and a tinge of shame warming my cheeks. It was the same feeling I always get when I witness one person maltreating another, or right after I myself have wronged another person and immediately realize it. Think of those times when we observe a bitter argument, with insults and vilifications flying in every direction, or even in smaller disparagements that go unanswered but are no less cutting and hurtful. That bitterness seems to hang in the air, taking on a metaphysical reality that can be clearly sensed by our God-given consciences. Since our conscience is built in to our souls and delineated by our minds, and since our personhood is a union of mind and body, it makes perfect sense that our bodies react this way. When we witness the sins of others or commit sin ourselves, they physically manifest in our bodies, leaving a pit in our stomach and a bruise in our heart. I say all this to emphasize an important principle of Christianity: nothing we do in life occurs in a vacuum. Every action has consequences. This reality is often ignored and rejected in our culture of individualism. Somehow, the idea of “victimless crimes” has become an accepted fact. This is wrong—our burning cheeks and sensitive souls tell us otherwise. The fact that we identify ourselves primarily through relationships (as a son, daughter, wife, husband, member of an organization, etc.) underscores how interconnected we are with one another and why our actions affect those around us so intimately. May we always remember that great adage that the character of Maximus instills in his soldiers in the film Gladiator: “What we do in life, echoes in eternity.” 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 GOP religious freedom bill restores free speech, not 'dark money' – Mandi Ancalle Counterpoint: Trump — Destroying the Johnson Amendment – Travis Weber Motherhood is Life-Giving – Dan Hart Questions Abound Regarding Air Force Academy Commandant Nominee – Peter Sprigg Yes, Trump’s HHS Appointee Charmaine Yoest is Pro-Life. Deal With It – Dan Hart   Religious Liberty "Free to Believe" Geologist Denied Samples from Grand Canyon Because of His Faith – CBN News Professor Tells Student to Stop Reading Bible – ToddStarnes.com Christian Firefighter, Axed for Sharing His Faith, Now Heading to WA High Court – Mark Martin, CBN News Victory! Teacher fired for giving student a Bible -- gets job back – Todd Starnes, Fox News International Religious Freedom Global Persecution Rises for First Time in Three Years – Medium ‘Under Caesar’s Sword’: A Project to Aid Persecuted Christians – Jim Graves, National Catholic Register The Land Of Athanasius and Its Lessons – Charles J. Chaput, First Things Persecution of Christians isn't rare – Franklin Graham, USA Today Catholic School Faces LGBT Backlash for Canceling Gender Show for 5-year-olds – ToddStarnes.com Sentencing is a stark reminder of the global Islamist threat – Mischel Yosick, American Islamic Forum for Democracy Whoever Wins Iran's Election, Its Religious Min[...]



Motherhood is Life-Giving

Thu, 11 May 2017 13:53:31 -0500

Every May, our country is given the opportunity to reflect on and appreciate a tremendous blessing that God has bestowed on humankind: the gift of motherhood. Mother’s Day is this Sunday. It’s a day to celebrate and honor not just our own mothers, but the capacity that is present in all women to be life-giving, spiritual mothers. Motherhood is indeed “life-giving” in two fundamental ways: in both a spiritual and physical sense. First, the spiritual sense. We all have experiences of “mother figures” in our lives that illustrate why spiritual motherhood is so critical to human flourishing. Perhaps the foremost aspect of spiritual motherhood is that wonderfully mysterious and extraordinary power of empathy. This ability to deeply understand and journey with another person in a profoundly personal way is multifaceted, whether it be in shared rejoicing in our successes, offering true comfort when we are hurting, or challenging us to be more of who we are. Mother figures are the ones that make us feel comfortable in our own skin, and make the world feel like a more restful and cozy place. They are the ones that gaze at us in wonder and affirm us for who we are, reminding us of how good it is that we simply exist, which is a reflection of God’s unconditional love for us. Mother figures are everywhere, enriching our lives in limitless yet often overlooked ways. They are the grandmotherly neighbor who lovingly coos at our newborn child on the sidewalk; the friendly station manager lady that greets each commuter with a personal and genuine smile; the female friend who knowingly listens to our relationship woes with real pathos; the lady across the street who bakes a fresh batch of chocolate-chip cookies to make us feel welcome in our new neighborhood. Without this kind of spiritual motherhood permeating everyday life, society would disintegrate into savagery. Physical motherhood is life-giving in a more obvious sense, but no less mysterious. Anyone who has witnessed the birth of a child cannot help but be in awe of the magnitude of the moment and its hint of the eternal; a brand new human life, once hidden and silent behind a veil of skin, suddenly there in front of you, wriggling, bloody, pink, and wailing. This illuminates a wonderful paradox of motherhood—it is at once fierce in its labor of love as the mother toils relentlessly through one contraction after the next to propel her child into the world, and yet soft, warm, and tender as she cradles the new life she has delivered. This motherly fierceness/tenderness never ceases; think of the ferocity of a mama bear protecting her cubs or the Italian mother giving a piece of her mind to anyone foolish enough to wrong her son. Now think of the tenderness that only a mother can bestow; the gentle doting that we gratefully soak up when we are sick, the kisses and caresses we receive just for being a son or daughter, the hurt that our mother feels just as much as we do when we are suffering—mothers suffer not just beside us, but with us, helping us to navigate restless waters. Mothers are therefore essential to building a culture of life. They nurture life in the womb and in their families and lovingly cultivate their homes, which in turn cultivates society. Mothers bring people alive by giving them an encounter with the Source of love, which is Christ—who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6)—the life-giving presence in all of us. Mary, the mother of Christ, further illuminates another crucial aspect of motherhood in the Gospels. Luke 1:38 illustrates her example of gratitude and trust in the Lord: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.” In saying this, Mary recognizes and acknowledges the Source of her child, entrusting him to God the Father. Her trust is tested further in Luke 2:34-35 with Simeon’s prophesy regarding her son and herself: “Thi[...]


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Questions Abound Regarding Air Force Academy Commandant Nominee

Mon, 08 May 2017 12:29:23 -0500

A mere five years ago, Air Force officer Kristin Goodwin could have been discharged from the military for engaging in a homosexual relationship or a same-sex marriage. Yet last month, it was announced that Col. Goodwin has been nominated for promotion to brigadier general—and to be the next commandant of cadets at the U. S. Air Force Academy. Goodwin is a 1993 Academy graduate who openly identifies as homosexual and will be moving to Colorado Springs with her same-sex spouse and two children they are raising together. Her promotion and appointment, however, must be confirmed by the Senate. When the news broke publicly in the Colorado Springs Independent, Mikey Weinstein, founder of the ironically titled “Military Religious Freedom Foundation,” could hardly contain his glee that “the Air Force has chosen a gay female officer to be its next USAFA Commandant!” However, Weinstein also groused, “Should not USAFA and Senior Air Force leadership be touting this action as an historic milestone of jovian magnitude as well?” Christians, however, may have legitimate concerns about what Goodwin’s appointment will mean for the future of religious liberty at the Academy. Since the repeal of the 1993 law against homosexuality in the military, the Air Force has seen incidents in which airmen have been punished for espousing the biblical view of human sexuality and marriage. Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk was relieved of duty by a commander who identifies as homosexual at Lackland Air Force Base for defending marriage as the union of one man and one woman (although after the intervention of pro-family groups, he received a commendation instead). At the Air Force Academy itself, a cadet was recently ordered to erase a Bible verse written on a whiteboard that was provided to cadets in their dorms to write personal messages. Although Weinstein insisted that the words of the New Testament created a “hostile environment” for non-Christians, the flap merely encouraged more cadets to exercise their freedom of speech and religion by posting Bible verses on the whiteboards, and brought members of Congress down on the Academy for engaging in “viewpoint discrimination.” Can we expect more such discrimination under Goodwin’s leadership? A few days after her appointment, however, the website God and Country (devoted to “Military Religious Freedom and Christian Service”) raised a different question: BGen(S) Kristin Goodwin, soon to be the newest Commandant of Cadets at the US Air Force Academy, commissioned into the Air Force with the Academy Class of 1993. The policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was instated in February of 1994. Anyone who entered the military prior to that date answered a question about homosexuality during the enlistment process. Those who answered in the affirmative were refused enlistment. How was Col Goodwin — an open homosexual — able to enter the Air Force? The author acknowledges that many may see this as a non-issue in the post-DADT military. But he does raise a question unique to Goodwin serving as commandant of cadets at the Academy—namely, the Academy’s honor code. The code declares, “We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.” God and Country notes that “cadets practically venerate the Honor Code (in spirit, if not in deed).” The article speculates, “No doubt someone will work a hypothetical story into an early Philosophy class”: It could make for a fascinating thought experiment. Is it “wrong” to lie to enter the US military — or the Air Force, whose first core value is “integrity”?  Is it wrong to “live a lie” as a cadet under the Honor Code? What if you eventually become a leader, a General, or the Commandant of Cadets —[...]


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Yes, Trump's HHS Appointee Charmaine Yoest is Pro-Life. Deal With It

Wed, 03 May 2017 15:51:06 -0500

Predictably, there has been a rash of hit-pieces in the mainstream media over the last few days targeting Charmaine Yoest, President Trump’s pick to serve as assistant secretary of public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services. Most of the attacks leveled at Yoest, who formerly worked here at FRC, focus on the fact that she served as president of Americans United for Life, a national pro-life advocacy group. These attacks are yet the latest examples of a disturbing trend in the media to label virtually anybody who works for pro-life causes as “extreme,” despite the fact that over half of the country identifies as “pro-life.” What has been conveniently left out of many of these stories is that Yoest will be replacing Kevin Griffis, who is now working for Planned Parenthood. So according to the liberal media, Yoest simply isn’t pro-abortion enough to hold a position at HHS. She has also been repeatedly ridiculed for supposedly claiming that “abortion causes breast cancer.” This is false and misleading in a number of ways. In a 2012 New York Times interview, she said that “abortion increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer,” not that it directly causes it. Beyond this, there is substantial evidence to back Yoest’s claim. According to research catalogued by the National Institutes of Health in 2014, there have been 28 epidemiological studies that have shown a positive link between abortion and breast cancer, with 21 of these “pointing to a statistically significant risk.” The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is often cited as denying any links, but some of NCI’s own published findings actually support the link, and one of its own doctors further acknowledges the link between breast cancer and abortion. This abortion-breast cancer dustup is an obvious attempt by the media to quickly discredit Yoest without having to do any kind of in-depth research that would reveal her true character and qualifications for the HHS position. A quick Google News search of “Charmaine Yoest” illustrates the depth of the pro-abortion bias in the media: 10 of the top 12 stories are clearly unfavorable toward her; six of these are blatant hit-pieces. But to any honest observer of the public square, this should be unsurprising. Yoest has publicly stated her pro-life views on a variety of topics over the years, and has been praised as “one of the pro-life movement’s most articulate and powerful communicators.” This means she is an easy target of progressives. Nevertheless, Yoest’s appointment is a signal of hope for our country. After eight long years of Obama’s Democratic Party pro-abortion litmus tests, an unabashedly pro-life American can now serve her country at the highest levels of government.[...]


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Social Conservative Review - May 1, 2017

Mon, 01 May 2017 11:38:33 -0500

Dear Friends, Over the past few years, it has been clear that the mainstream media does not have a clue about the real world implications of the attacks on religious liberty that believers, particularly Christians, have been suffering. People like Donald Vander Boon and groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor have been repeatedly bullied by their own government into forced participation of an extreme LGBT and abortion agenda. For too long, the media has either ignored these stories or falsely portrayed believers as the “extremists.” Now, a few cracks in this one-sided façade are starting to appear. A recent New Yorker article about Rod Dreher (author of The Benedict Option) quotes Andrew Sullivan, a Catholic writer who identifies as homosexual: “‘There is simply no way for an orthodox Catholic to embrace same-sex marriage,’ he said. ‘The attempt to conflate that with homophobia is a sign of the unthinking nature of some liberal responses to religion’ … ‘Rod forces you to understand what real pluralism is: actually accepting people with completely different world views than your own.’” The author goes on to restate Rod Dreher’s position: “You [progressives] wouldn’t sue Orthodox Jews or observant Muslims. Please don’t sue us, either.” This echoes the point that believers have been making for years: that “tolerance” and “equality” must apply to those with sincerely held religious beliefs in a free society. In view of the vast number of people and organizations that have been persecuted for their beliefs, the highest levels of government must take action to protect their First Amendment rights. That is why FRC is hosting a special program “Free to Believe: Religious Liberty in the Land of the Free” that will be webcast on May 2nd at 2 pm EDT to discuss the need for positive protections for religious freedom, and steps that can be taken to secure religious liberty for all Americans. Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family. Sincerely, Dan HartManaging Editor for PublicationsFamily Research Council   FRC Articles 4 Entertaining Moments During Oral Arguments Over Banning Churches From Public Funds – Travis Weber The First 100 Days to Securing America – Ken Blackwell Students for Life Holds #Sockit2PP Rally Outside U.S. Capitol – Joshua Denton Where Are the “Equal Rights” of Unborn Babies? – Dan Hart   Religious Liberty Religious Liberty in the Public Square Protecting Religious Liberty Safeguards All Children on the Playground Equally – Nathaniel Bruno, Public Discourse Florida Teacher Bans Cross Necklaces in Class, Promotes LGBT Day of Silence – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post A popular public school Bible class in West Virginia faces legal challenge – Joe Heim, The Washington Post At Berkeley, the Mob Wins Again – David French, National Review Religious liberty still at risk under Trump – Nick Eicher, WORLD International Religious Freedom Forgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable – Jayson Casper, Christianity Today Nearly One Christian Killed Every Hour for Practicing Faith – Edwin Mora, Breitbart Anti-Christianity In France – Jean Duchesne, First Things Religious Freedom Watchdog For the First Time Urges Blacklisting for Russia – Patrick Goodenough, CNS News USCIRF names China flagrant religious freedom abuser in annual report – ChinaAid Military Religious Freedom Military Chaplains Turn 100 Years Old as 'Attacks' on Service Rise – CBN News House Dems Push To Derail Mark Green For Army Secretary, Call Him ‘Homophobic’ – Jonah Bennett, The Daily Caller   Life Abortion New study finds preborn babies may[...]



Students for Life Holds #Sockit2PP Rally Outside U.S. Capitol

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 13:44:33 -0500

323,999. That is the number of babies that were killed by Planned Parenthood in 2015. To clearly illustrate the immensity of this tragedy, the #Sockit2PP campaign was started by Students for Life in March with the intent of creating a simultaneously impressive and shocking visual appeal while also sending a clear message to Congress: now is the time to defund Planned Parenthood. The #Sockit2PP campaign efforts culminated yesterday as members of the Students for Life team hosted a rally outside the United States Capitol in which they displayed 196,543 socks. The socks have been collected as a result of their campaign to collect 323,999 socks—representative of the number of babies killed in 2015 (the latest numbers available) by the nation’s largest abortion purveyor, Planned Parenthood. The campaign was inspired by a tiny baby sock which was pinned to the backpack of a Students for Life college group member. Kristan Hawkins, Founder and President of Students for Life, realized the visual symbol could become a powerful national rallying cry. The campaign has reached over half of its goal in numbers of socks, but decided to hold a rally outside of the United States Capitol now in spite of not yet reaching their final goal. “I think it’s really important to create a visual for people to see,” said Missy Stone, National Field Director for Students for Life. “323,999 is a lot more than people anticipate. People just don’t understand; people say that number flippantly.” Missy noted that when people just hear a number, it doesn’t really resonate, but when they get a visual of over 190,000 empty infant socks, it gives people an idea of the awful reality of how many abortions are truly happening. Missy said that the campaign created a very real way of providing the pro-life generation a channel with which to generate a national message to Congress that enough is enough—that it’s time to defund Planned Parenthood now. Kristan Hawkins, President of Students for Life, talked about the effects the demonstration had on people who were walking by as the display was being set up in preparation for the rally. “I was telling them and their jaws dropped because this is the [visual] reality of what happens when we don’t defund Planned Parenthood,” Hawkins said prior to the rally. She noted that the socks on display were only a representation of roughly half of the babies who are aborted every year by Planned Parenthood. “This is the reality of the GOP not acting to defund Planned Parenthood, and we are here today letting them know we expect them to hold to your word to defund Planned Parenthood,” remarked Hawkins. The rally featured various speakers such as Alison Howard, Director of Alliance Relations for Alliance Defending Freedom; Sue Thayer, former abortion facility director; and U.S. Senator Ben Sasse. During the rally, Sue Thayer noted that “we still have a lot of work to do. Think of what we could do with the 500 million dollars we funnel into Planned Parenthood [if it were] in the hands of pregnancy care centers.” A number of high school and college students also spoke briefly. Purity Thomas, a young teen, collected over 1,000 baby socks for the initiative. She told the story of her sister who became pregnant at 19 and dropped out of college and the National Guard to carry and raise her child, who is now three years old. “[Planned Parenthood]’s workers ‘have to hit the gym’ in order to crush the skulls of preborn boys and girls. This is a[n] organization that kills our brothers and sisters,” she said, urging students to get involved in spreading the pro-life message. “How as a nation have we allowed this? … This is the time in our country when we need to stand up and look in the face of Planned P[...]


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Where Are the "Equal Rights" of Unborn Babies?

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 15:12:45 -0500

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Equality. Equal rights.

In the last few years, these terms have become inescapable in America. Everything from workplace pay for women to LGBT rights has been framed in these terms. “Equality” has become a powerful idea in the American imagination. I’m not entirely sure exactly when the term became so omnipresent, but it’s not hard to see where its origins lie—the preamble of our Declaration of Independence declares these immortal words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”

While we continue to grapple as a society with what “equality” really means in every human context, there is one entire class of people that currently does not have the most basic right among rights. I am speaking of the unborn child, who does not even have the right to live, under our laws. The mother of an unborn child, if she so chooses, can supersede the most basic right of her own offspring. Anyone who honestly assesses this state of affairs would have to admit that abortion is far and away the most egregious example of “inequality” that currently afflicts our society. (For more on this, be sure to tune in to our lecture, “The Equal Rights Argument for Fetal Personhood” on April 27 at noon.)

Recent events continue to put this issue in stark relief. In a study published in Nature Communications, it was revealed that researchers had for the first time suspended premature baby lambs in artificial wombs (equivalent to 23-week-old human fetuses) and successfully nurtured them for four weeks, in which they “opened their eyes, fattened up, and grew coats of white wool.” After another two years of study, and if the method is approved, “the wombs can be tested on human preemies within three to five years.” This new technology could potentially save the lives of thousands of premature babies who are born every year—currently, only about half of the 30,000 babies born before 24 weeks survive.

All of this raises the question: if we are using cutting-edge technology to save the lives of some 24-week-old babies, how can other 24-week-old babies be legally killed? Don’t the 24-week-old babies who are scheduled for abortion deserve the same “equal rights” as the 24-week-old babies who are being cared for in neonatal intensive care units?

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Social Conservative Review - April 18, 2017

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 08:36:05 -0500

Dear Friends, Why be Christian? Out of all the religions and philosophies in the world that vie for the God-sized hole in every human heart, why choose Christianity? For believers, there are a limitless amount of ways to answer this fundamental question, and we should “always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you,” as 1 Peter 3:15 entreats us. But where does one start in this defense? If one were to synthesize the most basic argument for Christ, what would it be? In pondering this question, I was particularly struck by a point that Regis Martin recently made in Crisis. He describes a Christian as “someone who carries within him the adamantine conviction that Another accompanies him every step of the way.” In other words, Christianity is tangibly human and personal because “in showing us the face of Christ, we are thus given a saving glimpse of Someone to whom we may entrust everything, including especially our brokenness and sin.” Martin goes on to quote Joseph Ratzinger (who later became Pope Benedict XVI), who wrote that “the most fundamental feature of faith … [is] its personal character”: Christian faith is more than the option in favor of a spiritual ground to the world; its central formula is not ‘I believe in something,’ but ‘I believe in Thee.’ It is the encounter with the human being Jesus, and in this encounter it experiences the meaning of the world as a person. “…[T]he meaning of the world as a person.” It seems to me that this precisely encapsulates “the hope that is in us.” It captures a lightness of feeling that is almost impossible to put into words; it’s that serene trust that comes with the knowledge that no matter what sufferings we undergo in life, Christ suffered just the same, even to the point of dying for our sins. Because of this, we are and will always remain a child of God that was loved into being and will be loved for all eternity. God, who is one with Christ (John 10:30), is our Heavenly Father and we are his children. For many believers, therefore, the Christian faith beautifully intertwines with our natural experience of growing up under the protection of a loving earthly father. This is why the family must be strengthened, nurtured, and upheld in our society—it is the earthly reflection of God’s heavenly love for us. 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 The 'bigly,' and necessary, humility of Judge Neil Gorsuch – Travis Weber Think Slavery Has Been Eradicated in the 21st Century? You’d Be Wrong. – Travis Weber Hopeful Signs of Resurrection in America – Dan Hart The Plight of Jews in Pakistan – Chris Gacek Gorsuch on International and Foreign Law – Travis Weber Christianity in Iraq Appears Doomed to Extinction – Chris Gacek   Religious Liberty Religious Liberty in the Public Square GOP Calls on Trump to Honor Promise to Defend Religious Liberty – ToddStarnes.com Texas Governor Abbott: Restore Religious Leaders' Right To Endorse Political Campaigns – Hank Berrien, The Daily Wire Atheist Group Says It's Unconstitutional for College Football Coach to Tweet About God – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post Supreme Court readies for religious liberty showdown – Evan Wilt, WORLD International Religious Freedom Extermination of Christians in Egypt Not Getting Enough Attention – Susan Jones, CNS News China Installing Spy Cameras in Churches – Kim Smith, Conservative Tribune Jehovah’s Witnesses banned as “extremists” [...]



FRC in the News: Arina Grossu on EWTN

Thu, 13 Apr 2017 09:17:39 -0500

On April 7, 2017, Arina Grossu, FRC's Director of the Center for Human Dignity, appeared on EWTN News to discuss the UK's decision to approve a technique that would allow scientists to create "three-parent" babies.

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Think Slavery Has Been Eradicated in the 21st Century? You'd Be Wrong.

Thu, 13 Apr 2017 07:51:53 -0500

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Living in the Western world, in our modern era, one might think that chattel slavery (the buying and selling of human beings as property) is a thing of the past. They would be mistaken.

Just yesterday, it was reported that widespread human smuggling operations are still ongoing inside Libya, with migrants arriving from West Africa being openly traded in “public slave markets” where they are bought and sold:

One survivor from Senegal spoke of how he was brought by smugglers across Niger in a bus to the southern Libyan city of Sabha, where he was due to risk a boat trip to Europe. When the middleman did not get his fee, the survivor was put up for sale along with other passengers.

He was taken to a prison where he worked without pay while the captors demanded 300,000 West African francs (about £380) before selling him on to a larger jail. Livia Manante, an IOM officer based in Niger, said migrants would be brought to a square where they were put up for sale.

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Those who did not get their ransom paid were often taken away and killed while others would die of hunger and disease in unsanitary conditions.

“If the number of migrants goes down, because of death or someone is ransomed, the kidnappers just go to the market and buy one,” Manente said.

The going rate for a migrant was between $200 (£160) and $500 (£400) each, with many forced into captivity for months before they are freed or sold on. So far this year more than 170 bodies have washed up on the shores of the Mediterranean while the Libyan Coast Guard has also rescued thousands more.

This is horrific.

Unfortunately, it is also the inevitable consequence of abandoning the idea that all human beings have been created in the image of God, and that they have inherent dignity for this reason.

What else does this show us? That worldview matters; that one’s view of God and of fellow human beings matters. What we believe about the dignity of the human race matters. If we believe that God created us in his own image, we will understand that we are accountable to God for how we treat fellow human beings.

Indeed, the whole idea of human rights flows from this notion. Because we have dignity as image-bearers of God, no government may transgress this dignity. From this truth flow certain rights which no government may override—these are called human rights. Among these are the freedom to exercise the religion of one's choice—and the freedom to not be bought and sold as property!

If we ever forget this truth—may God help us!

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Hopeful Signs of Resurrection in America

Wed, 12 Apr 2017 14:47:06 -0500

This Sunday, Christians all over the world will celebrate the Resurrection of Christ from the dead. Easter is the church’s greatest feast day because it encompasses Christ’s fulfilment of his mission on earth: by dying on a Roman cross on Friday, April 3rd, A.D. 33 and rising from the dead on the following Sunday, he conquered human sin and death. The astonishing enormity of this event in history cannot be overstated enough. In one fell swoop, Christ offered the fullness of redemption to every person for all of eternity—namely, release from the chains of our fallen human nature and the prospect of a meaningless death. In and through Jesus, we can become cleansed of our sin and hope in the eternal life that is to come in heaven after our earthly lives are over. To contemplate these truths for even a moment does wonders in lifting one’s spirit, which can be easily bogged down when considering the tremendous challenges that our country faces with regards to protecting all human life, cultivating natural marriage, and defending religious liberty. And so, in the spirit of Our Lord’s Resurrection, let’s reflect on some very hopeful recent signs of rebirth in America. Life In January, it was reported that the U.S. abortion rate is currently at its lowest level since Roe v. Wade was foisted on the country in 1973. There are a number of different factors that have contributed to this welcome decline, but the tireless work of the pro-life movement in state legislatures has undoubtedly been crucial—334 pro-life laws have been passed in the last five years. Also in January, President Trump signed an executive order that reinstated the “Mexico City Policy,” which halts federal funds from going to foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that commit abortions or “actively promote” abortion. This is wonderful news, as it stops a staggering $600 million from funding the destruction of unborn human life annually. This past week, Judge Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to serve on the Supreme Court, filling Justice Antonin Scalia’s vacant seat. As we have pointed out in recent weeks, Judge Gorsuch will be a true Constitutionalist Justice who believes that life is “intrinsically valuable and that intentional killing is always wrong.” While he has not directly ruled on abortion, he has stated in the past that “the right to terminate a pregnancy… involves the death of a person.” Marriage The current divorce rate is at a 40-year low, while the marriage rate has risen to its highest level since 2009. While the overall rates of divorce and marriage are still depressingly high and low (respectively), recent trends are encouraging for the immediate future. Another hopeful trend that bodes well for America’s future is, surprisingly, the marriage preferences of millennials. New research has shown that millennials aren’t as obsessed with the progressive talking point of “gender equality” as one would think. As Ashley McGuire points out in Family Studies, “Many of us also feel more comfortable embracing what Pew continues to find, decade after decade: namely, that women consistently say that part-time work is our ‘ideal work situation.’ Millennial women seem to be asserting our autonomy against a culture that turned opportunity for women into a shackle.” McGuire further notes: The reality is that many married millennial couples with children will readily admit that two full-time working parents is not ideal for a litany of reasons, including marital happiness, individual stress, financial strain, and familial sanity. That’s not to say that lots of couples don’t make it[...]


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The Plight of Jews in Pakistan

Mon, 10 Apr 2017 09:03:37 -0500

There are occasions when a simple act provides tremendous clarity about a much larger situation. Such an event took place last week in Pakistan, a country of approximately 200 million that has had a history of religious freedom violations. According to our State Department, “[t]he [Pakistani] constitution establishes Islam as the state religion, and requires all provisions of the law to be consistent with Islam.” In fact, the constitution establishes a “Federal Shariat Court” whose Muslim judges “examine and decide whether any law or provision is ‘repugnant to the injunctions of Islam.’” Additionally, Pakistan has draconian “blasphemy” laws that are used to persecute Christians and other religious minorities on fabricated charges. Such laws obviously make free discussion of religious thought about Islam virtually impossible. Ninety-five percent of Pakistan is Muslim (70 percent Sunni, 25 percent Shia). The remaining five percent is made up of Hindus, Christians, Parsis / Zoroastrians, Bahais, Ahmadi Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Kalasha, Kihals, and Jains. Apparently, there are too few Jews to note statistically. Citizens of Pakistan must register their religious affiliation with the government. According to a recent report in the Jerusalem Post, a 29-year-old Pakistani man named Fischel Benkald was informed last week that as he had requested, “the religious status in his National Database and Registration Authority profile [would] be changed from Muslim to Jew…” Mr. Benkald is the first Pakistani citizen to be permitted to change his religious status from Muslim to Jew since the 1980s. Benkald’s birth name was Faisal, and he was raised in Karachi by a Jewish mother and a Muslim father. He was also allowed to assume a Yiddish first name, “Fischel.” The change in religious affiliation was requested three years ago, and might very well have been denied without intervention from forces outside Pakistan. Wilson Chowdry, the chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, plead Benkald’s case with the Pakistani High Commission in London (i.e., the Pakistani embassy to the United Kingdom in London). The national identity card is critical to all aspects of life for Pakistanis seeking to interact with their government. According to the Post, it “contains one’s name, date of birth, photo, a thumbprint and religion.” The lack of religious freedom for anyone but Muslims is extreme in Pakistan. Christians are persecuted, but Jews historically received even worse treatment. Anti-Semitism caused Jews to flee the nation after the Israeli War for Independence and that nation’s founding in 1948. It is believed that there were over a thousand Jews in Karachi seventy years ago. Now there are virtually none. Mr. Chowdry told the Post that “hundreds of Jews are now living secretly in Pakistan.” Apparently, Mr. Benkald did not assert in his application that an outright religious conversion from Islam had taken place. In effect, he claimed that he was in a distinct, exceptional category: “Benkald argue[d] that he never left Islam because he was born to a Jewish mother and therefore ha[d] always been Jewish.” This is true as Jews would define the matter. For whatever reason, the authorities approved his application, but his troubles are far from over. The Post noted a Fox News story that said “a 2010 Pew survey found that 76 percent of Pakistanis advocate the death penalty for leaving Islam.” Hopefully, he will be left in peace or somehow be able to seek refuge in Israel. That said, a country in which religious conversion holds a[...]


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Gorsuch on International and Foreign Law

Thu, 06 Apr 2017 14:36:35 -0500

It hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, but Judge Gorsuch’s exchange with Senator Ben Sasse about international and foreign law at his confirmation hearing offers helpful clues that he’d rule properly in this area: SASSE: As a sitting Supreme Court justice tasked with upholding the U.S. Constitution, is it ever appropriate to cite international law? And if so, why? GORSUCH: It’s not categorically improper. There are some circumstances when it is not just proper but necessary. You’re interpreting a contract with a choice of law provision that may adopt foreign law. That’s an appropriate time . . . Treaties sometimes require you to look at international law by their terms. But if we are talking about interpreting the Constitution of the United States, we have our own tradition and own history. And I don’t know why we would look to the experience of other countries rather than to our own . . . And so as a general matter, Senator, I would say it is improper to look abroad when interpreting the Constitution . . . Judge Gorsuch is absolutely right. In his answer to Senator Sasse, he has articulated a vision of the Constitution which guards against the surreptitious importation of standards from other countries which have no bearing on our Constitution (but which the Supreme Court has done from time to time). Meanwhile, he properly admits that a foreign legal standard in a “choice of law” provision may be consulted (in these cases, the parties to the agreement have stipulated that the laws of another country shall be used to adjudicate disputes between them, and it is entirely proper to consult whatever source of foreign law has been stipulated). He also made proper reference to treaties as a valid source of international law. International law (laws between nations) is distinct from foreign law (the laws of a foreign nation), as properly understood, only consists of two areas. The first is the treaty, or agreement between nations. When nations become parties to a treaty, they agree to be bound explicitly by the treaty’s terms. Yet legal activists, as they so often do in the United States with regard to the Constitution, recognize that their preferred radical policies aren’t contained within the treaty, so they twist its terms or use other mechanisms in the international legal order to push their policies, which they try to term as “law.” Yet the fact that they call them law doesn’t make them so. Just as we must guard against activist attempts to read new “rights” into statutes and the Constitution domestically, we must guard against efforts to read them into the text of treaties internationally. The second area of international law is customary international law, which is defined as a longstanding practice engaged in by a very large number of states who engage in it because they believe they are legally bound to do so. This is a high standard and not much reaches it. But that doesn’t stop activists from trying to claim their radical policies are “customary international law.” Again, just because they say so over and over again doesn’t make it true. Judge Gorsuch will not be hoodwinked by such shenanigans. He has articulated a limited (and proper) view of international and foreign law which shows he understands the dynamics in this area. Once again, he has shown that he will be a great originalist and is eminently qualified to be confirmed to the Supreme Court.[...]


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