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5th Circuit Rejects Effort to Take Down Conscience Protections

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 13:30:04 -0500

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Today, in a unanimous opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rejected an activist effort to take down HB 1523, Mississippi’s conscience protection law. HB 1523 provides exemptions for those who conscientiously object to being forced to facilitate same-sex marriages and other matters related to human sexuality, and allows them to opt out of the process while providing for other government workers or entities to step in and fill the gap.

Despite the fact that it is nothing more than a reasonable accommodation paradigm, the law was violently attacked with allegations that it was standing in the way of LGBT people, and a lawsuit was launched on the theory that it “established” a religion in violation of the First Amendment and violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

But in order to sue—under a doctrine known as “standing”—a plaintiff needs an injury, and all that was alleged in this case was that the plaintiffs were “stigmatized” and felt bad because of the law. Courts have been facing this type of tenuous, emotionally-based allegation of injury more and more in recent years, and they only bog down the judicial system with claims that were never meant to be brought in the first place. In addition, when such claims are allowed to proceed, and a law is struck down, the effect is that one more area of our democratic process is chiseled off and placed into the hands of activists who would happily destroy the process if that meant they could achieve their aims.

It is thus nice to see the Fifth Circuit properly scrutinize standing in this case, and hold that the plaintiffs here have no actual injury on which any lawsuit could be based. To bring suit, a plaintiff needs a “concrete” and “particularized” injury, and even in Establishment Clause religious display cases where standing rules are more liberal, a plaintiff still needs to have a “personal confrontation” with any allegedly offensive display. Yet as the court pointed out, “[j]ust as an individual cannot ‘personally confront’ a warehoused monument, he cannot confront statutory text.”

The Court also rejected the idea that “offense at the message Section 2 [of HB 1523]” could convey standing, noting that any “purported stigmatic injury” is insufficient. Likewise, there is no standing for any equal protection claim because “exposure to a discriminatory message, without a corresponding denial of equal treatment, is insufficient to plead injury in an equal protection case.”

All too often, activists without a mandate to achieve change through the democratic means set forth by our constitutional order will try to find some court through which to push their grievances against a law or policy. However, as is the case here, such “injuries” often constitute nothing more than general disagreement with the law and are subjective, lacking any actual harm. The unfortunate effect is that these activists’ methods chip away at and weaken our entire judicial system.

It is thus heartening to see this ruling, which not only leaves in place HB 1523’s religious exemptions which are quite necessary in a post-Obergefell world, but also strengthens the constitutional order by holding in check those who try to wield power through the courts simply because they can’t achieve their goals through democratic means.

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10 Things Every New Father Should Know

Fri, 16 Jun 2017 09:16:32 -0500

On Christmas Eve of last year, my son was born. As someone who is slow to react to big, life-changing events, the birth of my son left me mostly stunned and awestruck. For weeks afterward (more like months, if I’m honest), I would often have to remind myself that this tiny new human being was actually my son. Even though I had accompanied my amazing wife through the entire journey of our baby’s birth, it sometimes felt like he had suddenly appeared in our home out of the blue, as if a stork had flown into our backyard one day, deposited him in the grass, and flew away with a smirk. There were times when I felt a bit intimidated by him. That may sound odd to be scared of a newborn, but occasionally it seemed as if he stared right through me, deeming me an unworthy father. This made me worry that he might not like me, that he might not smile or giggle at my attempts to entertain him, that he might cry at my attempts to soothe him, that he might wriggle away from my touch. Well, guess what? My worries have proven to be unfounded. In honor of Father’s Day this Sunday, I present the top 10 things I’ve learned about fatherhood since the birth of my firstborn son six months ago. 1. Fatherhood begins before the child is born. Even when your baby is still in utero, he can still hear and feel your presence as a father. The amazing extent to which unborn babies are able to do this is continuing to be discovered by science. Just as he knows his mother’s voice and can recognize other sounds that he hears repeatedly, so too will he recognize his father’s voice if it is a consistent vocal presence. Praying with, talking, reading, and singing to your unborn child is not only a great way for fathers to feel more involved in their wives’ pregnancies, but this will also help the father bond with and grow in affection for his offspring as he feels the baby kick and squirm in response. I’ll never forget the time that I played a song on guitar and sang directly into my wife’s belly—my unborn son began kicking non-stop with such energy that my wife and I could only gape at each other in amazement. The more that fathers feel the kicks and the hiccups, the more affection they will begin to feel for their child. There will also be plenty of opportunities to attend periodic ultrasound checkups—be sure to attend as many as possible, as there’s nothing quite like seeing the amazing silhouette and unique movements of your child to begin the bonding process. 2. Feeling a bit distant from your newborn is normal. It’s no secret that the bond between a mother and her newborn is incomparably powerful. The fact that the mother physically gestated her child for nine months and is her baby’s only source of food makes the relationship beautifully symbiotic. The reality for a new father is that for nine months, he has literally been at a physical distance, and for the first few months after birth, he most likely won’t be able to hold the child as much as his wife because of nursing demands. So if new fathers find themselves feeling a lack of intimacy with their newborns as a result, it’s important to remember that this is perfectly normal and okay. Just like with any relationship, the love fathers have for their children will deepen as they get to know them better. This will play out in practical ways. In time, I learned that my son prefers to be bounced to sleep instead of rocked or swayed. He is absolutely transfixed and delighted by the sight of my wife and I washing dishes and eating. He loves to stand (with our support) in high positions and turn his head from side to side to observe all that is below him. He loves to rub my beard as I carry him around, even as he is falling asleep in my arms. He prefers to ride (and sleep) in the bumpy cheap stroller that is falling apart rather than the nice jogging stroller. As fathers learn the unique quirks and mannerisms that every child develops, his love will in turn grow and deepen inextric[...]


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Social Conservative Review - June 15, 2017

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 10:55:41 -0500

Dear Friends, In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus says, “You have heard it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.” This passage in Scripture comes to mind in reflecting on the tragic incident that occurred yesterday in Alexandria, Va., in which a murderous gunman attempted to kill members of Congress and their aides on a baseball field, wounding five. It’s important to ponder and take heed of this vital teaching of Christ in the volatile times in which we live. Christ is teaching us that when we harbor malicious thoughts about other people in our hearts, they can easily fester into physical action, like angry outbursts and violence. This is why Jesus says that we must go well beyond the avoidance of outright killing. We have to get at the root of the problem, which starts in our hearts. We must root out every thought and attitude that causes us to hate others. (In these polarized times, we must insist on the true definition of “hate,” which is “intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury.” Therefore, disagreeing with certain lifestyles and public policies is, by definition, not “hate.”) This is an important lesson for all of us who are involved in public policy and government. When it comes to politics, most of us have passionate viewpoints, which lead to passionate disagreements, which is very fitting in a free democracy such as ours that requires open and free debate in order to function. However, we must never let our passionate viewpoints turn into anger, as Christ said. As we have witnessed time and time again in our country, anger can lead to vindictiveness towards others, which can lead to violence and murder. Christ has perfect understanding of this dangerous fallibility that is present in every human heart, and therefore warns against it in the strongest terms. May all of our most passionate views always be rooted in love for our fellow man, never anger. 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 Bigotry of Bernie Sanders – Travis Weber Trump’s Rule on the HHS Contraceptive Mandate Ensures Religious Freedom for All – Travis Weber Sanders’ Religious Test Goes Against Founders’ Vision – Tony Perkins Bern Victim: Christians Need Not Apply – Patrina Mosley This Pill Could Reverse a Third of Abortions – Arina Grossu President Trump Names Abstinence Education Leader to Top Post at HHS Department – Tony Perkins Community Health Care Centers Offer Full Spectrum of Primary Care, Unlike Planned Parenthood – FRC An Open Letter to Bernie Sanders from a Vermont Pastor – Tim Counts FRC Summer Reading List – Dan Hart Testimony in Opposition to H. 1190 and S. 62 – Peter Sprigg We’re Better Together – Dan Hart Standing for Christ – Travis Weber Even Liberal Feminists Can’t Resist Committed Love and Marriage – Chris Gacek Giving to Caesar and to God – Peter Sprigg   Religious Liberty Religious Liberty in the Public Square Bernie Sanders’s Religious Test for Christians in Public Office – Emma Green, The Atlantic Policy at Michigan College Results in Arrests for Handing Out Constitution – Alliance Defending Freedom Trump Administration Considering Rule That Would Help Little Sisters of the Poor – Rachel del Guidice, The Daily Signal The Campus Speech Police Come to Fresno State – Jake Curtis, National Review Town Stands up to Atheist Bullies, Refuses to Remove Cross – ToddStarnes.com Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Think Christians Are Fit For Public Office – John Daniel Davidson, The Federalist School: Students May Not Pray or Mention Jesus &nd[...]


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Community Health Care Centers Offer Full Spectrum of Primary Care, Unlike Planned Parenthood

Tue, 13 Jun 2017 12:55:25 -0500

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“If Planned Parenthood is defunded in the health care bill currently before the Senate, won’t this deprive women of vital health care services?”

FRC has recently received a number of comments along these lines. While admitting that Planned Parenthood “has done some bad things,” some are still concerned that millions of women will be deprived of vital health care if the primary provider of abortions in America loses federal funding.

It is important to know that there are 13,540 federally-qualified, low-cost, high quality health care clinics and rural health centers, which outnumber Planned Parenthood 20 to 1 nationally. (By August 2017, there will be 620 Planned Parenthood facilities, down from 662 in 2015.) 

Women have real choices when it comes to healthcare, and they can find one of these clinics at GetYourCare.org. These federally-qualified health centers not only offer screening and prevention services, pap smears, cancer screenings, breast exams, and prenatal services, but they also offer a full spectrum of other primary care services that Planned Parenthood fails to provide, including:

  • Mammograms
  • A variety of immunizations
  • Diabetes and glaucoma screenings
  • Cholesterol screenings
  • Cardiovascular screening blood tests
  • Thyroid function tests
  • Eye, ear, and dental screenings
  • Preventive dental services
  • Well-child services
  • Medical nutrition services
  • Bone mass measurement
  • Social worker services
  • Mental health services
  • Substance abuse services
  • Emergency medical services
  • And others

Federally-qualified health centers offered services for 21.7 million patients in 2013 compared to Planned Parenthood who served 2.7 million. That’s over eight times as many patients.

In 2014, federally-qualified health centers served approximately 23 million people. With an extra half a billion in taxpayer funds that currently goes to Planned Parenthood, these federally-qualified health centers could grow and expand their reach.

To see the sources for the above information and more, please visit frc.org/plannedparenthoodfacts.

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An Open Letter to Bernie Sanders from a Vermont Pastor

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 10:25:05 -0500

Dear Senator Sanders, I am a pastor in Manchester Center, Vermont, so I am one of your constituents. And I am concerned. You and I both know that Vermont has added to the rich history of religious freedom in our great country. I live 25 minutes from the Old First Church in Bennington, where the following plaque is placed on the side of the historic church building: “First Church in Vermont dedicated to separation of church and state. Congregation founded by those seeking religious freedom.” As you probably know, First Church was “gathered” on December 3, 1762, the first Protestant congregation in the New Hampshire Grants. They were “separatists,” believing that the government should neither establish nor restrict religious freedom. They were seeking religious freedom, not freedom from religion. Your actions towards and comments to Russell Vought during his confirmation hearing for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget endanger our rich history of religious freedom as both a state and a country. Here is why I am concerned, and here is why I write you today: not only because I believe you violated Article VI of the United States Constitution in imposing a religious test as a litmus test for somebody’s fitness to hold a government office, but also because you then released this statement yesterday: “…racism and bigotry—condemning an entire group of people because of their faith—cannot be part of any public policy.” As I have read your comments towards Mr. Vought and watched the video of your interaction, I am astounded at how quickly you have tied together personal faith that Jesus is the only Savior with an individual’s public policy. As Mr. Vought tried to express but was interrupted, Christians believe that all people are made in the image of God and thus should be treated with dignity and respect, even while we hold to Jesus’ statements such as, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) We do not have to be Universalists theologically to be able to hold public office nor to be good citizens in the Green Mountain State or in the United States of America. I believe that the founders of First Church would have been shocked at your statements, as they were leaving a government that told them what they could and could not believe. We have reverted back to a government that has a religious test, but rather than church membership allowing entrance into government office, it is now philosophical membership in secularism that holds the keys. I ask you to clarify and clearly articulate whether or not you truly believe that a Christian who believes that Jesus is the only way to salvation can no longer hold public office in this country. Are you saying that citizens who are not atheists, agnostics, or Universalists cannot serve as government officials? As you have been reminded already since Wednesday, Article VI of the U.S. Constitution declares, “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” Evangelical Christians who hold to salvation in Christ alone may be a minority in our great state, but we are not racists or bigots, and our elected Senators should not make such broad-brush and intolerant statements. I will continue to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, which means the “good news” of Jesus Christ. It is a message of reconciliation to God and fellow man. It is good news that we offer to all people who will listen: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) It is a message that says that although our sin condemns us before the holy God, that Jesus took our condemnation on the [...]


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FRC Summer Reading List

Fri, 09 Jun 2017 10:52:46 -0500

As the warm light of the sun stretches lazily out over our summer days, infusing the early mornings with dew-bright resplendence and filling evenings with a languid glow, a single giddy thought can’t help but enthuse America: more time for reading outside! Whether you’re stretched out on a beach chair with the ocean wind nipping at the pages of your copy of Ideas Have Consequences, reclining on your deck with an ice-cold shandy in one hand and an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story collection in the other, or simply sprawled on the couch with the summer breeze blowing through your window and your John Adams biography, there’s almost nothing better in life then long summer days and a tall stack of books. To help get your literary juices flowing for the warmer months, the staff here at FRC has helpfully collaborated on this compilation of great reads. So put your phone somewhere out of sight on silent mode, sit back, relax, and crack open a book (or a Kindle, if you must). *** Non-Fiction Biographies Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow This detailed biography of one of America’s foremost Founding Fathers was the inspiration for the hit Broadway musical Hamilton. Author Ron Chernow’s full-length portrait is a deep dive into how Hamilton in many ways shaped early America with his championing of often unpopular political and economic ideas. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas This is a gripping biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor and theologian in the confessing church, which resisted the Nazis. Bonhoeffer also participated in the July 20 plot on Hitler’s life (subject of the movie Valkyrie)—which ultimately cost him his life. While this topic is not as widely explored in the book, it is a thrilling look into a life devoted to God, and the implications of that devotion. The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams by Philip and Carol Zaleski This is an in-depth look at the lives of the four primary “Inklings,” the literary circle of Oxford friends who delighted in fantasy, philosophy, and the debates of religion and belief. The Fellowship describes how we came to have the authors of such works as The Lord of the Rings, Mere Christianity, The Chronicles of Narnia, and so much more. The arc of each of their lives allows us a better understanding of their celebrated works. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi A fascinating read detailing the true story of a brilliant neurosurgeon diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. His thoughts and approach to life and death are very thought provoking. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough This wonderfully engaging biography of the brothers who invented flight is thoroughly addicting from the first page onward. The story follows Orville and Wilbur from their beginnings as bicycle shop owners, to the famous test flights at Kitty Hawk, to the amazing flying exhibitions demonstrated before hundreds of thousands of gaping onlookers, to fights over patent rights in their later years. Throughout their lives, the Wright brothers displayed a super-human work ethic and humble tenacity that astounded their contemporaries, proving to be an immense testament to the indomitable power of the human spirit to overcome any adversity.   General Interest The Assault on the Sexes by Jim Fordham Published in 1977, The Assault on the Sexes is a remarkable book that appeared at the height of the debates over ERA (the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex). With both wry humor and solid research, Jim Fordham (“With his indispensable wife Andrea”) took on the then-nascent feminist movement by not only defending but celebrating the differences between men and women. Although grassroots efforts kept the ERA out of the Constitution, many of its principles hav[...]


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Testimony in Opposition to H. 1190 and S. 62

Wed, 07 Jun 2017 12:23:32 -0500

Regarding practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity in minors Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with DisabilitiesThe General Court [Legislature] of the Commonwealth of MassachusettsBoston, MassachusettsJune 6, 2017  By Peter SpriggSenior Fellow for Policy StudiesFamily Research CouncilWashington, D.C. My name is Peter Sprigg, and I represent the Family Research Council from Washington, D.C. However, I am a former 14-year resident of Massachusetts. It is reasonable for a legislative body to have concern about the safety and effectiveness of medical and psychological interventions for physical and emotional conditions. For example, I have recently learned of a treatment for a widespread condition. I was surprised to read that this treatment is more effective than no treatment at all in only 20 percent of those experiencing the condition. It was also troubling to learn that relapses are common with this condition—and the treatment under study was more effective than no intervention in preventing relapses in only 27 percent of those experiencing the condition. And perhaps most troubling of all was to read “that teenagers consider suicide more often when [undergoing this treatment] . . . and also actually attempt to take their own lives more often.” However, I am not aware that Massachusetts—or any other state—has taken steps to outlaw this treatment, despite its limited effectiveness and potential harms. That’s because the condition I am talking about is not unwanted same-sex attractions, and the treatment is not sexual reorientation therapy (commonly, but inaccurately, referred to as “conversion therapy”). Instead, the condition I was referring to is—depression. The treatment I was referring to is—antidepressant drugs. And the source of the information I have just shared with you is the National Institutes of Health. I raise this comparison as a way of pointing out that the arguments used against sexual reorientation therapy and in favor of restrictions upon it—such as this bill—often hold such therapy to a standard which is wholly unrealistic for any medical or psychological care. Is it possible to find people who will say that they underwent sexual reorientation therapy and found it ineffective? Of course—the same is true of any other treatment, especially for psychological conditions. However, there are also many people who have testified that such therapy was effective for them. Is it possible to find people who will even say that they underwent such therapy and considered themselves to be in a worse condition after than before? Of course—but this, too, will be true of any psychological condition and any therapy. However, it is also possible to find people who underwent sexual reorientation therapy and felt that they were better off afterwards—even if the therapy was not effective in changing their sexual orientation. Holding sexual reorientation therapy to a standard of 100 percent effectiveness together with zero risk is so unreasonable as to be irrational. Therefore, I hope it is clear to everyone in this body that the purpose of this bill is not to protect anyone’s physical or psychological health. The real purpose is to impose an ideology, and outlaw a desire—the desire that some individuals, including some minors, unquestionably have to overcome unwanted same-sex attractions and abstain from same-sex sexual relationships. That is not the business of this legislature.[...]



We're Better Together

Wed, 07 Jun 2017 07:32:58 -0500

In a recent column for The Daily Signal, Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) makes a striking observation about the current unease that has infused our society: ...[M]any Americans—poor, middle class, and wealthy—feel that something is amiss. It is a feeling that cannot be reduced to economic anxiety. Rather, there is a sense that our social fabric is fraying. And these concerns are reflected in objective measures of family and community health. To cite just a few of the trends that may be grouped under the rubric of “social capital”: marriage and churchgoing have declined, distrust of the nation’s institutions has grown, mixed-income neighborhoods have become rarer, regional polarization has increased, and young men who are neither working nor looking for work have become more numerous and more isolated. We do less together than in the past, and we are worse off for it, economically and otherwise... “We do less together than in the past…” This insight hits on a deep need that all human beings share: a sense of belonging. We all have the innate desire to be needed and to belong in a community. To accomplish this, human beings need to be together. This seems painfully obvious, but as Mike Lee observed, our society has seen a decline in two of the primary institutions that foster “togetherness”: marriage and churchgoing. The benefits of marriage to individuals and to society as a whole are incalculable, but let’s focus on the particular power of marriage to bring people together. When a man and a woman marry, they are participating in something far beyond themselves. This is most apparent in the wedding celebration itself, which attracts family and friends from far and wide who gather in one place to rejoice in the mysterious union of two people. This union stretches far beyond the wedding day, however—from that day forward, two wholly separate families are now forever joined to each other “in law.” Marriage, therefore, brings people together in a truly unique and profound way, creating an “extended family” even beyond the newly minted immediate family. While there are countless jokes that can be made about the drudgeries of “in-laws,” there is no disputing that marriage forges new familial bonds that last a lifetime, providing husbands and wives with both the trials and joys of having a larger family than they did before marriage. This in turn creates new networks of opportunity for “togetherness,” whether it be through expanded family reunions that yield new friendships and shared passions, or new job opportunities that are made possible through extended family businesses. In the same way, marriage creates a whole new network of friends and acquaintances for the bride and groom, who each essentially have the size of their social circle doubled. The church provides the other great venue for bringing people together. Houses of worship will forever draw us to them because of the God-sized hole in our hearts—the innate desire to reach beyond ourselves and give thanks to our Creator for giving us the gift of life and every blessing in it, and for the ability to belong to a body of believers that gives us a particular identity as sons and daughters of Christ. Furthermore, churches provide avenues for ministering to one another in both practical and spiritual ways, whether it be hosting soup kitchens and clothing drives for the needy, hosting fundraisers for a family affected by tragedy, prison ministry, running youth groups and Bible studies, and on and on. In short, a church is a place where anyone can come and feel like they belong to a community and where they can find a helping hand when in need, either physically or spiritually. The overarching point here is this: when we are brought together in genuine and deeply r[...]


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Standing for Christ

Tue, 06 Jun 2017 07:09:52 -0500

The following are remarks by Travis Weber, Director of the Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council, to the congregation of Faith Church in Budapest, Hungary (following the conclusion of the World Congress of Families and Budapest Family Summit) on May 27, 2017. Köszönöm (Thank you). Jó estét (Good evening). That’s all the Hungarian you’re going to get out of me! But seriously, it’s a joy to be here, and this place is near and dear to my heart. I have a good friend who is married to a woman from Hungary and I visited here last summer, it is a great place. My name is Travis Weber, I work with an organization in Washington D.C., in the United States, called the Family Research Council. We are a Christian organization—a non-governmental organization—working to advance the Christian worldview in public policy, law, and culture. I’m going to talk to you about my work, specifically on the issue of religious freedom—protecting the right of Christians and other people to live out their faith freely. But I’m also going to encourage you as a Christian participating in the public life of your nation how to stand strong for Christ. Because although I’m only from the United States, I only speak English; I’ve never lived in Hungary. We have these differences, but we have the most important thing in common: we both follow the Lord Jesus Christ. This is what defines us, this defines our identity. Our identity in Jesus Christ is the most important thing about us wherever we are. So even as I talk to you about religious freedom I want to encourage you to use your religious freedom here where God has placed you. You are placed uniquely by God where you are, to do things that I cannot do, but you can do, and God has assigned for you to do. So I want you to remember that: remember to stand strong for Christ and remember that God has assigned you a special task to live for him here in Hungary. So, in thinking about religious freedom and how we stand strong for Christ and how that plays out, I’m going to talk a little bit about how we protect that at the Family Research Council. We should think of religious freedom as a human right for all people. Because we are created in the image of God, all human beings have the right to freely choose their religion and live that out. There should be no coercion in forcing people to choose one thing or the other. People should be free to choose how they will worship. In the United States, historically, our law has been very strongly protective of religious freedom. But you don’t need only a law, you need strong cultural support for the idea too. Unless you have strong legal protections and support within the culture—within the hearts and minds of people—religious freedom ultimately will suffer. So, we aim to protect and advance religious freedom in all these areas. Similarly, around the world, people are suffering because of their religious beliefs and we are seeking to protect their human right to live out their religious faith as they see fit.  We should remember that we do this as Christians because all people are created in the image of God. One of the primary areas we are seeing this suffering now is in the area of conflict between individual sexual liberty and Christianity. In the United States, huge segments of the culture have bought into the idea that we are ultimately living for ourselves, ultimately living to live out our sexual fulfillment according to how we define it and that’s what guides our lives. This idea is directly in conflict with orthodox historic Christian truth. It is producing all sorts of conflicts and fractures within United States society. So even though we have had freedom in the past, if we do not fight for it now we will l[...]


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Even Liberal Feminists Can't Resist Committed Love and Marriage

Mon, 05 Jun 2017 07:44:31 -0500

Caitlin Flanagan is an insightful contributing editor and writer for The Atlantic.  She values the place of hearth and home in all our lives and defends housewifery while not being a social conservative in today’s parlance. For example, in 2006 she published a book, To Hell with All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife.  Flanagan is a contrarian who draws the ire of many feminists and is clearly not considered part of the group. Even though she announced her inability to vote for Hillary Clinton because she believed the Bill Clinton rape victim stories, she is not a Republican. Now, a hard-core feminist attorney and well-known writer, Jill Filipovic, has written a new book, The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness, and Flanagan has written a review of it in The Washington Post. Apparently, Filipovic had hewed the standard feminist disdain for traditional male-female relationship dynamics. Flanagan gives her a little grief after revealing a big change in Filipovic’s life—she found a man:  But reader: There’s a plot twist. It turns out that Jill Fil[i]povic — feminist, badass, rejecter of all that is conventional — is . . . engaged! “I had never been so immediately drawn to someone or felt myself so eager to talk to someone,” she tells us of her new love, and she embarked upon “a love affair unlike anything I had experienced.” It turns out that he has a big, important job in Africa, and — screw feminism! — she packed her bags and followed him. It’s bliss: “He is sometimes the only person I talk to in the course of a day” — and she loves it. “There is a long list of reasons I would marry him,” she confides chattily, queen bee at the Tri Delt pajama party. “As far as individual days go,” she hopes her wedding will be “one of the happiest.” She even starts firing off some of the most socially conservative facts this side of CPAC: “Women report higher levels of sexual satisfaction when they’re in monogamous relationships,” and couples “have more sex than their unmarried counterparts.” Whose side is she on, anyway? Flanagan further observes, “The truth is that there is great value in what she is doing.” That is, risking one’s career path to follow and be with the person one loves, then “making a lifelong commitment to him or her, establishing a home together that protects you both from the buffeting and heartless forces of the marketplace—those are sustaining and nourishing choices.” Flanagan concludes with this: The author spent two years criss-crossing the country in search of the key to female happiness, but it turns out she was wearing the ruby slippers all along. It’s like Jim Dobson and Ted Cruz teamed up to write a movie. What are you gonna do? There’s no place like home. I also recommend this review of Filipovic’s book at National Review by Alexandra DeSanctis. She summarizes the strengths and weaknesses in H-Spot this way: “What’s perhaps most interesting about the book is Filipovic’s ability to correctly identify issues that prey uniquely on modern women—single motherhood, sexual assault and domestic violence, eating disorders, the hyper-sexualization of advertisements and the resulting objectification of women—and yet to so completely miss the mark on the causes of and solutions to these ailments.” At the end of the day, Flanagan provides, in her examination of Filipovic’s present life, that the modern Left’s feminist worldview doesn’t comport with male and female reality. It often presents a self-defeating ethic that seeks a lowest common denominator existence by[...]


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Giving to Caesar and to God

Fri, 02 Jun 2017 13:28:13 -0500

The following are remarks by Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at Family Research Council, to the congregation of Faith Church in Budapest, Hungary (following the conclusion of the World Congress of Families and Budapest Family Summit) on May 27, 2017. Good evening. Family Research Council is a Christian organization that seeks to influence public policy. Our office is in Washington, D.C., halfway between the White House and the Capitol building—a very strategic location. Like other organizations involved in the World Congress of Families: We believe in defending the right to life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death; We believe in marriage being defined as the union of one man and one woman; We believe that such a marriage is the only appropriate context for sexual relations; We believe that such a marriage is the ideal environment for raising children; And we believe in religious liberty for all. Now, those of us who speak out as Christians on public policy issues are sometimes accused of violating a principle known as “the separation of church and state.” This actual phrase does not appear in our national constitution, but it is a traditional American principle if it’s correctly understood and correctly defined. The separation of church and state means a separation of the institutions and offices of the church from the institutions and offices of the state. It means a person who becomes a pastor or a bishop does not automatically get power in the government, and a person who takes an office in the government does not gain any power over the church. But it does not mean a complete separation of God and government, and it does not mean we must completely separate our faith from public policy. The classic biblical text on this subject is the story of when Jesus was asked if people should pay taxes to the Roman government (Matthew 22:15-22). He replied, “Give to Caesar [the emperor] what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” This was a very clever answer by Jesus. He showed respect for the government by saying people should pay their taxes. But he showed respect for God by saying there are some things we owe to God which government cannot touch. I heard a sermon once that suggested another way to view this story, though. The preacher pointed out that Jesus held up the coin that was used to pay the tax, and he said to give it to Caesar because it had Caesar’s image on it. However, this pastor asked, whose image is on Caesar? Caesar, like every human being, was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). So while we have a responsibility to government, each of us—and everyone in the government—has a higher responsibility to God, because we bear his image. Sometimes, we are accused of not respecting the human rights or human dignity of those with whom we disagree. But the very concept of human rights and human dignity is rooted in the fact that we are created in the image of God. And sometimes we are accused of hating our opponents. We must guard against this. The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and that includes all our neighbors. But love does not require that we affirm or celebrate every behavior people choose to engage in. Love requires that we call people to live their very best life. For most people, that means to save sex until marriage; to marry a person of the opposite sex; to build a family based on that marriage; and to remain married for a lifetime. And of course, it means calling them to accept the good news of Jesus Christ. This is not hate, this is love. I add my thanks to the people of Hungary, of Budapest, to the Hungarian government, and to Pastor Sandor and Faith Church for all your hospitality. May God bless you, and your[...]


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Social Conservative Review - June 1, 2017

Thu, 01 Jun 2017 11:35:18 -0500

Dear Friends, Self-professed atheists like Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins often say that Christianity is an absurd religion that believes in things like “talking snakes.” While it’s lamentable that Maher and Dawkins feel the need to take Scripture passages out of context to prop up straw man arguments, I often wonder what they would say in response to profound Christian witness that gets to the heart of why our faith is the Truth. I came across an example of this kind of witness recently from Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P., who makes this penetrating insight about the nature of our God and how He conforms to the natural desires of our hearts: If you look into your heart and consider the kind of god you deem ideal, what you come up with is Jesus. Given the chance to custom order the divinity who best satisfies the desires of our heart, we would design a deity tender and compassionate, whose joy was to accompany us as a friend in our earthly travails. We would want a god infinitely wise, eager to teach us the things we need to know in order for life to be filled with meaning and joy. We would insist on a god who was merciful and ever swift to forgive our sins… one with a special preference for the poor and the needy. We would want a god of perfect peace, promising happiness, blessing us with hope… one who was extravagantly generous and totally giving of self. We would want a god who was in love with us. But, in fact, when we meet such a man in Jesus Christ, we can’t help but to respond the way people in the Gospel do: Where did this man get all this? Don’t we know his father and mother? Isn’t this the son of the carpenter? Which means that the automatic impulse when we meet Jesus Christ is to presume that what makes him so unique and exceptional—unlike anyone else we have ever met—is his Father. The Son of God exposes our presumption: You know me and also know where I am from. Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true (Jn 7:28). The more we gaze upon Jesus Christ in all his ineffable goodness, the more we are compelled to cry with Philip, Show us the Father (Jn 14:8). (Excerpted from Magnificat, Vol. 19, No. 4 / June 2017, p. 3-4) May we be forever grateful to our amazing God, who consummately fulfills our truest human desire for a perfect Father. 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 Secretary Mattis: Focus on War-Fighting, Ditch the Social Engineering – Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin Maxine Waters: The Left’s Best Against Donald Trump? – Ken Blackwell Rolling Thunder, ‘Missing Man’ tables and the Bible – Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin Democrat Outreach to Pro-Lifers Will Take More Than Talk – Tony Perkins New Research Shows “Adult-Like” Nerves in Very Young Embryos: Affirming the Likelihood of Fetal Pain – Arina Grossu Hungarian Megachurch a Model of Salt and Light in Europe – Peter Sprigg Budapest Family Summit Explores Ways to Revitalize the Family – Peter Sprigg A Fitting Tribute to Memorial Day – Chris Gacek FRC’s Arina Grossu Speaks at New D.C. Abortion Business Operated by Controversial Abortionist – Arina Grossu “Blasphemy Laws” Violate Religious Liberty – Travis Weber Emotionally Manipulative Videos Can’t Save Planned Parenthood – Dan Hart                            &nb[...]


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Hungarian Megachurch a Model of Salt and Light in Europe

Wed, 31 May 2017 08:39:32 -0500

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FRC’s Director of the Center for Religious Liberty Travis Weber and I attended several events of the Budapest Family Summit in the Hungarian capital last week, including the Budapest Demographic Forum, the 11th World Congress of Families, and a Family Festival. We have already reported here on the address given on the opening day by Hungary’s conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

However, another highlight of the trip for Travis and I was getting two opportunities to speak at Faith Church, a charismatic mega-church in Budapest which also assisted in organizing several events in connection with the Budapest Family Summit.

Faith Church was founded in 1979, when Hungary was still under Communist rule, by Sandor Nemeth, who remains its pastor to this day. He and his wife began a small Bible study, which has grown to the point that Faith Church is now the center of a network of other congregations in multiple countries.

The pastor and several of his associates visited Family Research Council on a trip to Washington several years ago. As a result of that contact, Travis and I reached out to the church to let them know that we would be in Budapest. Leaders at Faith Church invited us not only to visit the church, but to speak to a youth gathering on Friday night.

This “youth group” turned out to be an audience of at least four hundred young people, including many students at the college and seminary run by the church, known as St. Paul Academy. I addressed the group about my work on the issues of marriage, family, and human sexuality, and Travis spoke about his field of religious liberty. They then fielded questions from the audience—all while a translator translated their remarks line by line into Hungarian. The entire meeting lasted three hours.

Travis and I were then invited back on Saturday to speak again—this time to the church’s main weekly worship service, which regularly draws between eight and ten thousand attendees. In addition to us, three other Americans from the World Congress of Families were invited to address the church—Larry Jacobs, Managing Director of the WCF, long-time pro-family leader Janice Crouse, and Ted Baehr of Movieguide.

Faith Church also now operates a TV network, a radio station (for which Travis and I were also interviewed), and a news magazine. The church also maintains close ties with the nation of Israel and has worked against anti-Semitism. Faith Church is modeling in Hungary the kind of cultural impact that Christians can have when they serve as salt and light in their community.

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Budapest Family Summit Explores Ways to Revitalize the Family

Tue, 30 May 2017 08:40:29 -0500

On Thursday, May 25th, pro-family leaders from around the world gathered in the capital of Hungary for what local organizers have dubbed the “Budapest Family Summit.” Day One of the event was the second “Budapest Demographic Forum”—a focus on the demographic issues of declining birth and fertility rates which are plaguing virtually all of the world’s developed countries, including Europe. Despite long-discredited theories about the dangers of over-population, the real crisis of the West is declining population—especially as other countries (including the Muslim world) continue to grow. The event continued Friday and Saturday with the latest World Congress of Families. Family Research Council is being represented by myself and Senior Fellow Travis Weber. One unique aspect of the Budapest summit, in comparison with other World Congress of Families events, is that the Hungarian government itself is a principal sponsor. Katalin Novak, Hungary’s Minister of State for Family, Youth, and International Affairs, is the event’s chief organizer and host. Furthermore, the highlight of Thursday’s kickoff session was an address by the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, who returned to Budapest from the NATO leaders summit in Brussels in time to address the Forum. Orban is the dynamic and sometimes controversial leader of Hungary’s governing center-right coalition (he was the subject of a major profile in Politico last year). In 2015, he closed Hungary’s southern border to a flood of illegal immigrants from the south. Orban is also unashamedly pro-family—when his coalition was large enough to amend the country’s constitution, one provision they added was to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. In his address to the Demographic Summit today, Orban did not hesitate to link the issues of immigration and family in the context of the “competition of civilizations.” He bluntly warned that Europe, with its declining population, is “old, rich, and weak,” while the growing countries around it are “young, poor, and strong”—making the likely direction of population flows obvious. Yet while some people suggest that the West should welcome immigrants precisely as a solution to its population woes, Orban bluntly rejected that option, saying that the countries of Central Europe, including Hungary, prefer the “renewal of our own resources.” Toward that end, he declared that 2018 will be “the Year of Families” in Hungary, and announced a goal of raising Hungary’s fertility rate (the average number of children borne by a woman in her lifetime) to 2.1 (considered the “replacement” level necessary to maintain a stable population) by 2030. One notable characteristic at international gatherings like this is that in Europe, even conservative governments are more likely to see government intervention and incentives as a solution to family issues, while in the United States, most pro-family conservatives are also supporters of a free market and limited government, and therefore are more skeptical of government intervention. Orban, for example, proposed to write off student loans and offer subsidies for mortgage payments for families with three or more children. He also proposed building more child-care facilities for the benefit of working parents—although American pro-family activists generally prefer policies that might make it easier for parents to care for their own children at home. It should be noted that several speakers made clear that the intention is not for government to dictate how many children people sh[...]


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A Fitting Tribute to Memorial Day

Fri, 26 May 2017 15:46:53 -0500

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If you want to do something on Memorial Day Weekend to honor those fallen and missing in our wars, I suggest that you watch a magnificent PBS documentary entitled, “These Hallowed Grounds.” PBS describes the film this way:

Hallowed Grounds visits 22 of America’s overseas military cemeteries, and tells the story of these remarkable places with historical sequences about the wars and battles that created them, and moving vignettes and interviews about the men and women who rest in them. Created after World War I and World War II, these cemeteries are some of America’s great national treasures.

There are a number of different ways to watch it. PBS provides this site that allows it to be watched online. It can also be watched here on YouTube. Finally, there is an embedded player in this review of the film by Warner Todd Huston (May 29, 2016) on Breitbart.

Even though the documentary describes only the graves of those lost and missing in World War I and World War II, one’s thoughts of those who fell, were wounded, or lost in previous and later wars are not far from one’s mind.

“These Hallowed Grounds” is a powerful antidote to the narratives often taught to the young that America has not been a force for good in the world. The story of the fallen and the foreign friends of Americans who visit the cemeteries tell a far different story.

Please watch and remember with your children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. They deserve to know the truth about America and its hundreds of thousands of heroes.

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