Last Build Date: Fri, 09 Dec 2016 15:37:48 -0600Copyright: Zinnia
Fri, 09 Dec 2016 15:37:48 -0600In June of 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples could not be denied marriage licenses by states. However, on December 8, 2016, the Arkansas Supreme Court correctly ruled that the Obergefell decision should not be used to re-write all state laws relating to family, parenthood, and vital records, when they are unrelated to the issuance of marriage licenses. The decision, in the case of Smith v. Pavan, overturned a lower court decision that had declared the Arkansas law governing birth registration unconstitutional. The statute in question says that in the absence of a court order or agreement by all parents and spouses involved, “If the mother was married at the time of either conception or birth or between conception and birth the name of the husband shall be entered on the certificate as the father of the child.” The law had been challenged by three lesbian couples. In all three cases, one of the women had borne a child who was conceived through artificial insemination involving an anonymous sperm donor as the father. When the children were born, the couples sought to have the names of both women listed on the birth certificate as the child’s parents. The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) refused. The legal principle involved has long been known as the “presumption of paternity.” If a married woman gives birth to a child, her husband is presumed to be the father of that child. Something which is factually true in the vast majority of cases is simply presumed to be true under the law. Advocates of same-sex marriage and homosexual parenting, however, seek to convert the “presumption of paternity” into a gender-neutral “presumption of parentage.” Under this view, the legal spouse—regardless of sex—of a woman who gives birth is presumed to be the child’s other parent. In other words, they would have the law go from presuming something that is almost always factually true to presuming something that cannot possibly be factually true—namely, that two women are both the biological mother of a newborn child. Fortunately, the Arkansas Supreme Court rejected the absurd outcome of presuming the impossible. In a model of judicial restraint, they interpreted the words of the statute by “giving the words their ordinary and usually accepted meaning in common language.” Noting that the dictionary definition of “husband” is “a married man,” and of “father” is “a man who has begotten a child,” they concluded that “the statute centers on the relationship of the biological mother and the biological father to the child, not on the marital relationship of husband and wife.” The court’s opinion cited an affidavit by the ADH’s Vital Records State Registrar elaborating on the rationale for this approach: The overarching purpose of the vital records system is to ensure that vital records, including birth certificates as well as death certificates and marriage certificates, are accurate regarding the vital events that they reflect… Identification of biological parents through birth records is critical to ADH’s identification of public health trends, and it can be critical to an individual’s identification of personal health issues and genetic conditions. To emphasize the significance of—and differences between—biological motherhood and biological fatherhood, the Arkansas Supreme Court also cited language from a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court decision involving a question of citizenship for children born out of wedlock and outside the United States to one American parent. Ruling (in Nguyen v. INS) that Congress could treat children of American fathers differently from children of American mothers, the Court said, [t]o fail to acknowledge even our most basic biological differences—such as the fact that a mother must be present at birth but the father need not be—risks making the guarantee of equal protec[...]
Thu, 08 Dec 2016 14:24:25 -0600France’s legislative effort to ban pro-life websites passed the National Assembly last week, and just passed that country’s Senate yesterday. While the measure criminalizes a number of things, of note is the ban on making statements which bring “moral and psychological pressure” on a person as part of persuading them to not have an abortion. What about moral and psychological pressure to have an abortion? That is not banned. This is what we in the United States call “viewpoint discrimination,” the most blatant kind of speech restriction prohibited by our First Amendment to the Constitution. Prohibitions on viewpoint discrimination prevent the government from “regulating speech when the specific motivating ideology or the opinion or perspective of the speaker is the rationale for the restriction” Rosenberger v. Rector & Visitors of the University of Virginia, 515 U.S. 819, 829 (1995). For we don’t want the government to be able to “‘effectively drive certain ideas or viewpoints from the marketplace’” Turner Broadcasting Systems v. FCC, 512 U.S. 622, 641 (1994). As the Supreme Court has said, “[i]t is precisely this element of taking sides in a public debate that identifies viewpoint discrimination and makes it the most pernicious…” Rosenberger, 515 U.S. at 895. While in the United States we may have grown used to the pro-life viewpoint being marginalized and pushed out of certain sectors of culture and academia, we generally rest assured in our strong free speech protections which guard against government efforts to censor certain viewpoints. Last year, a federal judge found that a public university’s efforts to ban “controversial” speech was actually an attempt to ban the pro-life viewpoint and thus unconstitutional. In that case, the “political and social controversy” the university cited was due to the students’ position on abortion. If the university was concerned with “controversy” connected to the topic of abortion, it might be able to prohibit all speech on that topic in certain areas on campus. But if, as alleged, the university was actually targeting the “controversy” arising from pro-life views, it would be targeting these pro-life students for their position on the issue of abortion, and would thus be engaged in viewpoint discrimination—something the government is strictly prohibited from doing. France’s ban on pro-life views follows not too long on the heels of a government decision to bar a video featuring individuals with Down syndrome from appearing on French television because the smiles of the children in the video would “disturb the conscience of women who had lawfully made different personal life choices”—meaning, it would offend and upset women who had aborted their Down syndrome children. Again, we can be thankful for free speech law in the United States, which, despite the efforts of university activists who want to ban offensive words, currently does not permit the banning of speech just because it is offensive. These efforts by France should remind us of the value and importance of our own Free Speech law. While free speech infringements in France may be appealed, possibly up to the European Court of Human rights, this is already troubling enough. That the government can so easily shut down one side of an important public debate (or ban offensive presentations) are things that should make everyone who loves freedom (whether in Europe or the United States) worry.[...]
Wed, 07 Dec 2016 10:18:31 -0600According to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), abortion numbers, rates, and ratios have all been on the decline. The CDC reported a total number of 664,435 abortions in 2013, as recorded by state health departments. The 2013 data is based on reported information from 47 states and does not include abortion data from California (since 1998), Maryland, and New Hampshire. Therefore, the actual number of abortions is higher than the CDC data lets on. The most recent study from the Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood’s former research arm, reported 1.06 million abortions in 2011. Guttmacher obtains its abortion data from abortion facilities directly instead of using reported state department numbers. Regardless of whether one looks at the CDC or the Guttmacher data, they both agree that there is a general downward trend in abortion numbers. Global Life Campaign data also reveals that abortion numbers have been in a general decline since 1990. According to the CDC data, compared with 2012, the total number, rate, and ratio of reported abortions for 2013 decreased by 5%. From 2004–2013, the number, rate, and ratio of reported abortions also decreased 20%, 21%, and 17%, respectively, reaching their lowest level across the board for that time period. Additionally, the abortion rate for 2013 was 12.5 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 years, about half of the 1980 recorded rate. The Associated Press reported that the CDC has not recorded a lower abortion rate since 1971, two years before the Roe v. Wade landmark decision. Family Research Council posits the decline in the abortion numbers, rates, and ratios to advances in science which reveal the humanity of the baby, a growing pro-life public, and a decrease in sexually-risky behavior with the help of sexual risk-avoidance (SRA) education. First, not only do we now have 4D ultrasound technologies that reveal the humanity of the child, but new technologies are continually coming out such as 3D imaging showing the complex anatomy and organ systems of embryos as young as 15 days old. Scientific advancements also allow us to see facial expressions in-utero and to track fetal pain. Second, the majority of Americans are pro-life. A July 2016 Marist poll revealed that more than half of Americans (53%) believe that abortion should only be allowed in cases of rape, incest, to save the life of the mother, or never be permitted under any circumstance. Further, we have seen an unprecedented uptick of pro-life laws in the past five years alone—334 pro-life laws as of midyear 2016—accounting for 30% of all pro-life laws enacted since 1973. Third, there has also been a sharp decline in teen sexual activity, according to the most recent CDC data. This may be due in part to sexual risk-avoidance education, which takes a whole-person approach to healthy decision-making. While the CDC abortion data is encouraging, we must continue to work until not one more life is tragically snuffed out by the ravages of abortion.[...]
Mon, 05 Dec 2016 13:11:02 -0600This article appeared in The Christian Review on December 2. “All good is hard. All evil is easy. Dying, losing, cheating, and mediocrity is easy.Stay away from easy.” Scott Alexander Hollywood heavyweight Aaron Sorkin weighed in with gusto after the election. In a letter to his daughter published recently in Vanity Fair, Sorkin – clearly gob smacked by what he’d believed was an inconceivable outcome – proclaimed, “The Klan won last night. White nationalists. Sexists, racists and buffoons…Hate was given hope. Abject dumbness was glamorized…” In the letter, Sorkin re-invigorates the enraged rhetoric of both millennials and the overlords of social progressivism. It’s the kind of rhetoric that reduced, is nothing more than simple name-calling. His sneering response was not exceptional. In reply to an article in which Samantha Bee asserted white women needed to work off the karma they’ll get after voting for Trump, a Jezebel commenter claimed that if friends or relatives voted for Trump, “[they are] awful human being[s].” Enter the protests. In Los Angeles, they burned Trump in effigy. In Portland, protestors attacked police, started a dumpster fire, blocked the highway and did $1 million in damage. A teen wearing a Trump hat was beaten and kicked by other students during a high school walk out (one of many nationwide) in Rockville, Maryland. Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets burning American flags and hash-tagging their disgust, with statements like #RapeMelania and #KillTrump. For a movement claiming that “Love Trumps Hate,” it all looked quite a bit like…well, hate. We know now that what propelled Trump to victory was in large part the mass of red-state inhabitants, those in oft-ignored “fly over” country who had been denigrated as ignorant, homophobic xenophobes. These were the voters who decided they’d had enough of the liberal condescension that has been a hallmark of the last 8 years. In fact, Obama had previewed Clinton’s now-infamous “deplorables” caricature, describing the same group in 2008 as those who “get bitter, [who] cling to guns or religions or antipathy to people who aren’t like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” That’s the easy thing to do with people with whom you disagree: lump them unexamined into categories you find anathema, call them “dumb” and walk away. Hate is facile. Labels are easy. If we succumb to these visceral, knee-jerk impulses, we reject an entire group as adherents to unthinkable ideologies – no matter what their voting motivations actually were – and dismiss them as unworthy of our serious consideration. Hate makes no room for concessions or understanding. But make no mistake: hate most definitely works both ways. Honesty demands we recognize the Nazis and Klan that voted for Trump and have taken his ascendancy as a cue to wreak havoc. It requires a clear-eyed view of the spray-painted messages and shouted epithets and threats. But here’s the thing: hating them for that is no different than hating all of Trump’s supporters, or for that matter, all of Clinton’s. One member of a group is not its whole. Hate – at bottom – is ignorant. It is myopic, and self-selecting. It is narrow-minded, and fearful. Hate points fingers and burns flags and never asks “why.” Hate asserts: “You have nothing to add because you’re (conservative)(black)(Latino)(pro-life).” Hate knows no variations. It is the great equalizing force that is as destructive to liberals as it is to conservatives, with its roots in the arrogance of perceived superiority. In the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof had the fortitude to expose his party’s duality by noting, &l[...]
Fri, 02 Dec 2016 12:41:32 -0600On Saturday, the Atlantic Coast Conference (“ACC”) is scheduled to hold its conference football championship at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando when No. 3 Clemson plays Virginia Tech. This championship had been held in Charlotte, North Carolina, since 2010 with an average attendance each year of 70,000. Why the change? The Conference interjected itself into the political affairs of North Carolina when it decided to publicly repudiate the state’s rejection of transgender bathroom policies. Most outrageously, the ACC announced in mid-September that it would move ten 2016-17 neutral-site championships out of North Carolina. Hence the move to Orlando for the game tomorrow. I have no issue with the ACC acting as a good citizen and promoting a society that judges young men and women according to their talent and perseverance. That is one of the great virtues of athletic competition. However, it is something altogether different for the ACC to dive into an ongoing political debate with the goal of overturning the will of the people of North Carolina and coerce them into submission. The ACC was founded in North Carolina and has been embraced by it for many decades. Yet, at the drop of a hat, it appears the Commission has had little difficulty betraying those who have loved it for so long. And, make no mistake, it has done this by implying that the people of North Carolina are bigots. Nothing could be further from the truth. North Carolinians are merely skeptical about the wisdom and propriety of the government mandating that biological males be allowed to enter women’s restrooms, changing rooms, locker rooms, and showers. At the very least, one might have expected some humility from the ACC. After all, its new operating philosophy is novel, untested, and radically at odds with the biological basis of all human sexuality. Unfortunately, humility does not appear to be one of the ACC’s core values. Over many decades, the ACC and the Christian community have forged an especially strong relationship in North Carolina. Good relationships are not one-way streets, and even the strongest partnerships can sour. If the ACC believes it can subjugate the rule of law to simple economics, it should think again. North Carolina citizens elected both their legislators and their governor. To insert yourself as de facto jury in this process and render a verdict on a law in which the ACC plays no part, is contemptible. The ACC’s attitude resembles nothing so much as the self-satisfied arrogance of the Clinton campaign before the people spoke in the voting booth. The cultural elites running her White House bid managed to convince a multi-state swathe of America that it cared more about bathroom policies than whether men and women could find jobs and decent health insurance. The ACC depends greatly on the continued support it receives from North Carolina’s local and state governments. Its member institutions are subsidized by evangelical Christians who, as taxpayers and voters, are needed to support its costly facilities, highly-paid Conference administrators, lavishly-funded coaching staffs, and numerous athletes—athletes who are unpaid, voiceless, and indentured to the Conference. In an era of increased moral posturing and preening, perhaps the ACC’s business practices should be more closely scrutinized by those Republican super-majorities in both houses of the North Carolina legislature. Perhaps it is time for the much-condescended-to People to reevaluate the nature and terms of this relationship. Who does make all the money off those athletic shoe deals? The ACC’s decision to enter the culture war as a partisan opponent of voting Christians needs to be reversed immediately. To the extent practicable, neutral site championships need to be rescheduled for play in North Carolina. Barring a return of prior policies and the recognition of the right of the people of North Carolina [...]
Thu, 01 Dec 2016 14:38:55 -0600Dear Friends, There are undoubtedly a dizzying array of “top priorities” that are and will be pushed on the incoming presidential administration from all sides. But there is one priority that our culture is losing and that the new administration must make central to its agenda: marriage. FRC has repeatedly made this clear over the last three decades, but it must continually be emphasized: marriage is not merely the means by which we are raised in a materially stable environment, it is the seedbed of virtue and spiritual growth. As Alysse ElHage writes, both candidates in the presidential race did little to address how they would promote the foundational building block of society. “[W]e’ve heard far too little ... about the central role that family structure—and in particular marriage—plays in boosting the social and economic well-being of Americans.” Study after study shows that children raised by a married mother and father are less likely to grow up in poverty, more likely to succeed academically, less likely to experience abuse of any kind, less likely to engage in sexual activity as a minor, more likely to have a higher than average income as an adult, and more likely to marry and raise their own children within marriage. The author points out numerous pro-marriage policy initiatives that the incoming administration would do well to prioritize, including eliminating marriage penalties, increasing vocational training opportunities for those not pursuing college degrees, expanding the child tax credit, reforming divorce laws so that there are at least moderate waiting periods for couples intending to divorce, and educational campaigns for young people that promote a healthy outlook for school, work, marriage, and parenthood. While it is important to promote marriage for its social and economic benefits, the central importance of marriage is not because of its potential for material gain, but for spiritual flourishing. Marriage has a mysterious way of forming the souls of human beings for the better, of compelling us toward virtue. Being united in a sacramental bond with another person for life is by nature a self-sacrificial act, one that opens us to new epiphanies of what real patience, understanding, and love truly are. That is why God gave marriage to the human race, so that we might have a more human way of becoming more like Him. 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 What a Trump Court Would Mean for Abortion – Cathy Ruse Buzzfeed to Christians: No Freedom for You! – Travis Weber Marine Corps: Spiritual Fitness Is a Necessary Component of Effective Military Service – Travis Weber Assisted Suicide: Senseless Death in the Name of “Compassion” – Dan Hart Corporations Can Push Back Against Anti-Religious Freedom Activists – Travis Weber Religious Liberty Religious Liberty in the Public Square Server Company Pulls The Plug On Conservative Website In The Name Of ‘Diversity’ – Dustin Siggins, The Federalist Town Renames "Good Friday" for the sake of "Cultural Sensitivity" – ToddStarnes.com Checking the Court: What Can Be Done to Rein in the Supreme Court? – Tim Bradley, Public Discourse This Is Why Trump Won – Katrina Trinko, The Daily Signal The Politics of Hate Crimes – Bill Donohue, The Catholic League International Religious Freedom Pakistan Bans All 11 Christian TV Stations, Arrests Cable Operators in Crackdown – Anugrah Kumar, The Christian Post Ireland Moves to Regulate Crisis Pregnancy Center Counselors – Austin Roscoe, The Stream Indonesia: Over 10,000 Rally to Support Jakarta's Christian Gov. Accused of Blasphemy – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post Military Religious [...]
Wed, 30 Nov 2016 15:57:24 -0600Much ink has been spilled over the assertion that the activist wing of the LGBT movement does not want to infringe on religious freedom, but only wants protections for itself. Anyone who still seriously thinks this is true needs to wake up and look around. The latest alleged outrage disproving this theory is a Buzzfeed “news” story titled: “Chip And Joanna Gaines’ Church Is Firmly Against Same-Sex Marriage.” The entire article is devoted to talking about how the well-liked and successful couple of the HGTV show Fixer Upper attend a Christian church that holds to the biblical view of marriage. The article then reviews the pastor’s comments reflecting this belief. If you’re waiting for more, you’ll be disappointed. That’s it. That’s the entire article. Why this is a news story is unclear; there is nothing new or noteworthy in it. The church even told the reporter it has held the same views on marriage for 17 years. Where was Buzzfeed before when that “news” broke? The entire point of this story appears to be to generate controversy and direct hostility toward the Gaines family. Thankfully, many Buzzfeed readers are quite dissatisfied with this approach, the top comment stating: “This is the dumbest story I have ever heard. It’s like a witch hunt for their beliefs, to try [to] stir the oil from a pot into the flames of the stove. This kind of article is exactly what is wrong with the media. Don’t go reaching out for a reason to hate people. The Gaines seem to be a wonderful couple and unless they are hurting anyone why does it matter. Also their beliefs are their own just like every other person. Don’t touch and don't spew hate, this article is asking for hate to be spewed.” Exactly. This is why most Americans can’t stand the intolerance of the modern progressive media and their allies in the activist wing of the LGBT movement. Most Americans want to be left alone to live in peace, and believe it’s ok for people to have different views. That’s the whole point of America. Not so for modern progressives. They have to force you to believe as they do. This should be a lesson for Christians who think they can ignore the society around them. The Gaines have done nothing here—nothing except attend an orthodox Christian church and do their job well enough to draw the attention of busybody “news” sources. Christians who think radical progressive activists and their allies in the LGBT movement will not bother them are mistaken. At this time, those trying to live out their Christian faith in the marketplace and government are under scrutiny. But when the activists are done with them they will turn their attention to the churches. After all, that’s what happened here. Would there be a “story” if the Gaines’ church caved to pressure and abandoned its biblical position on marriage? Countless Christians across our land wake up every day and do exactly what the Gaines have done here—work hard at their job and participate in the life of their local church. Most just haven’t been famous enough to be noticed. However, they won’t be able to live in peace forever. Those who hear about religious freedom and think it’s still an issue for everyone else to deal with must grapple with what is happening to the Gaines’s. They won’t be able to avoid it forever.[...]
Tue, 22 Nov 2016 10:15:10 -0600Recently, the Marine Corps announced it is planning to develop a program of “spiritual fitness training” in order to “build the kind of mental resilience necessary for war,” according to chaplain Rear Admiral Brent Scott. This is a welcome development, and it is good to see the military formally recognize a very basic truth about the human person: we are more than just a collection of muscle, bones, and tissue. After a long time in the Middle East, Scott said he “found that much of the resilience we saw was not necessarily attributed to something that somebody could do in the gym. A lot had to do with the heart and soul of the individual.” Training is needed to develop this spiritual component of our humanity as it relates to military service. It will be a success, Scott notes, “if Marines begin talking about spiritual fitness and maintaining spiritual health as openly as they discuss physical fitness and physical training.” “A moral compass doesn’t just come from a faith foundation; it’s not enough to make a decision based on what is legally right or wrong,” Scott said. “Chaplains will help Marines discover that compass for themselves—that center of gravity that comes from their own upbringing, personal experiences, and religious teaching.” The message on the subject from the Commandant of the Marine Corps states as follows: Fitness is a vital part of being a United States Marine. Although we all understand the importance of being physically fit, it is also important to remember the other three aspects of overall fitness: spiritual, mental, and social. All of these aspects are essential to the well-being of each individual Marine and Sailor, and our Corps as a whole. As Americas force in readiness, we must be prepared to answer our Nation’s call on a moment’s notice. A large part of that ability is our capacity for resilience. Regardless of the battle we just fought, we must be ready for our next success. Research indicates that spiritual fitness plays a key role in resiliency, in our ability to grow, develop, recover, heal, and adapt. Regardless of individual philosophy or beliefs, spiritual well-being makes us better warriors and people of character capable of making good choices on and off duty. Beginning in October, the Marine Corps will be emphasizing all components of fitness, particularly the physical and spiritual aspects. During this time, I ask each of you to reflect on what you and the Marines and Sailors you lead are doing to achieve and maintain an optimal level of strength and resilience. Your leaders and chaplains at all levels stand ready to engage with you in this task. By attending to spiritual fitness with the same rigor given to physical, social and mental fitness, Marines and Sailors can become and remain the honorable warriors and model citizens our Nation expects. Exactly right. This observation of the importance of spiritual fitness for our service members follows a long tradition of recognizing the importance of faith in our military. Early in our country’s history, George Washington recognized the need for chaplains in the military (and also that they be of a variety of faiths). Today, former Army Ranger Jeff Struecker describes how his spiritual strength helped him through the intense and traumatic moments of the Battle of Mogadishu, Somalia: “I had a very strong Christian faith before joining the Army. It gave me this overwhelming sense of peace when most people were around me panicking. The next day, many people were asking me how I kept it together. God was leading me. I became an Army chaplain. It was directly a result of the day after this battle in Mogadishu.” In addition, spirituality is a crucial component of medicine and well[...]
Mon, 21 Nov 2016 08:45:05 -0600
The Washington, D.C. City Council has voted to legalize assisted suicide. According to reports, it will not be vetoed by the mayor. In order for it to become law, it will need to be approved by Congress.
Assisted suicide is profoundly immoral, stridently unethical, and deeply disturbing on a whole host of levels. For starters, it’s not hard to imagine scenarios where doctors and family members will pressure a mentally fragile patient into making a “compassionate” decision to end their lives. After all, the world’s utilitarian logic would argue, assisted suicide would keep medical costs down and make the lives of the patient’s family members easier.
But these kinds of selfish considerations only scratch the surface of the evil of assisted suicide. What makes assisted suicide genuinely sinister is that it strips away all sacredness from the gift of life, a gift that we have been freely given. Who are we to treat life and death with such irreverence and ingratitude? How can we possibly know the plans that God has for that person’s soul in the remaining months (or years—who’s to say?) of their life? Can anyone determine the value of the thoughts, prayers, and words of wisdom, guidance, and love that the patient could experience and share with others before their natural death? Who are we to cut this miracle of existence short?
This leads to one final point that I’ll make. One of the greatest joys that my wife and I have experienced over the last year has been the opportunity to visit with Louise, a 92-year-old woman residing in an assisted-living facility. Having met her through our church a few years ago, she has since become one of our best friends. Her wit, feistiness, and unique Italian sensibilities bring us and all those around her great joy. These days, Louise is getting weaker due to cancer in her lungs, but her plucky spirit won’t be deterred. She’s not shy about sharing her strongly-held opinions and teasing us with a friendly laugh, and her memories of growing up in New York City are a priceless peek into history. When our visits end, she can’t help but thank us over and over again, often with tears welling up in her eyes, imploring us to come again soon.
Would the merciful thing to do to those who appear to be close to death be to help kill themselves because they are suffering? Or could it be that God has a higher purpose for life in all its stages, made manifest whenever we take the time to visit and care for those who are in the twilight of their lives? As more and more states legalize assisted suicide, our country heads further down the road of cold, calculated callousness to human life. Let’s pray for an outpouring of mercy on those at the end of their lives, that they may be shown mercy by us and that we may be open to the blessings we receive from them. And let’s do all we can to fight these assisted suicide political initiatives in all of our home states.(image)
Fri, 18 Nov 2016 10:18:36 -0600
One important bit of recent religious liberty news which hasn’t gotten much attention is the pushback by Proctor & Gamble shareholders against anti-religious freedom activists seeking to eliminate corporate neutrality and enlist large firms in their culture war exploits. This is a promising development, and shows that large corporations abandoning their neutrality and enlisting in the battle against religious freedom is not inevitable.
When it was recently proposed that the “company should join Apple, PayPal, Disney, and others in the political fight against religious freedom laws in Mississippi and Tennessee and should take a stand against North Carolina’s transgender restroom policy,” 94% of shareholders rejected the idea. Such a rejection shows there is sanity in the corporate world, after all.
In recent years, large corporations have almost universally abandoned their cultural neutrality and sided against religious freedom laws at the state level, many times issuing threats to pull out of the state or not expand if such laws are not eliminated. State officials often capitulate, believing resistance is futile.
This development within Proctor & Gamble shows that the struggle is not in vain, however, and all citizens and government officials alike should take heart and understand that this is a fight worth having.(image)
Tue, 15 Nov 2016 14:51:46 -0600Dear Friends, The presidential election result one week ago was a cause for celebration for many and a cause of genuine shock and dismay for others. It was also a sobering reminder of how sharply and equally divided we are as a country, especially in terms of the popular vote. In a democracy such as ours, is this really a cause for concern? After all, if we are all free to believe and vote how we want, does it really matter that we are divided? As John Cuddeback writes, sharp divisions in a society are indeed a cause for concern. Why? Because in order for friendship and community to flourish, there needs to be commonality in fundamental principles. As demonstrated by the stark differences in the Democrat and Republican platforms, much of America does not seem to share fundamental principles. As Cuddeback points out, “If people think differently they will act differently.” This reality hinders our ability to share in a true community, which in order to thrive must ultimately agree on what virtue is and focus on its cultivation. Most of us live in communities that do not share fundamental principles, so what are we to do? The key is to focus close to home—to build up one’s own family and cultivate friendships in the immediate vicinity in our local communities. As Cuddeback writes: “[B]uilding such cells of excellence is a fundamental requirement for the renewal of the broader polity. Smaller communities with shared vision and practices are healthy, and thus they tend to grow and divide. Since they are vibrant cells, they are also cells that can share a vision—the very vision that can unite and animate the broader community.” Can this focus on the local community really affect people who do not share our fundamental principles? The author concludes: “[V]ibrant local communities are perhaps also the last, best chance for the broader society to learn basic truths of natural law by seeing them enacted in the flesh. Especially for people growing increasingly impervious to the admonitions of rational argument, there is no witness to the truth of family life, for instance, like families that are living that truth. In a sense, when it comes to the human good, seeing is believing.” 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 This Divisive Election Is an Opportunity to Share the Gospel – Travis Weber The Wisdom of Trump’s Abortion Answer – Cathy Ruse Adoption: How One Life Touches Countless Others – Elizabeth Hance State-Sanctioned Discrimination in Georgia – Mandi Ancalle Religious Liberty Religious Liberty in the Public Square Make Religious Freedom Great Again – Ryan T. Anderson, Public Discourse The War On Wedding Vendors Is Ultimately A War On Free Thought – James Gottry, The Federalist Defending Conscience Rights at Hacksaw Ridge and in the HHS Cases – Matthew Kacsmaryk, First Things Trump’s Supreme Court List: Ivy League? Out. The Heartland? In. – Adam Liptak, The New York Times International Religious Freedom British Columbia's highest court upholds religious freedom – Catholic News Agency Medical team refuses to operate on critically ill dissident – Qiao Nong, China Aid New Film Highlights Persecution Of Christians Around The World – James Macintyre, Christian Today Military Religious Freedom Like Our Veterans, Americans Are Ones Who Draw a Line in the Sand – Peter Burfeind, The Federalist U.S. Military On Trump Election: Like The Day Osama Was Killed – God and Country Life Abortion 40 Days for Life Fall Campaign Concludes With 658 Babies Saved From[...]
Mon, 14 Nov 2016 13:12:10 -0600
Pro-lifers can always find deficiencies in arguments. We’re programmed that way.
At first blush, Donald Trump’s responses to the abortion questions in the third presidential debate, while good, left something to be desired.
Upon reflection, I find real wisdom in what he said and how he said it.
First, Donald Trump coupled overturning Roe v. Wade with the point that the issue will go back to the states. This was very wise. He did it twice, in fact. “If they overturned it, it will go back to the states.” Then when pressed by Wallace, he said: “I am putting pro-life justices on the court. I will say this: It will go back to the states, and the states will then make a determination.” This is exactly how pro-lifers should handle the question of overturning Roe.
The Left wants people to believe that something drastic and immediate will happen if Roe is overturned, to scare them. The truth is that nothing drastic or immediate will happen; rather, the work of abortion policy-making will be returned to the people in each state. There is no benefit from allowing the Left to frighten ill-informed people. There is great benefit from telling them the truth.
Moreover, telling people that abortion policy-making will be returned to their hands is a powerful and truthful way of challenging the Left’s narrative that Roe is a “right” for the people and that “right” will be taken away if Roe is overturned. The truth is, the Supreme Court disenfranchised the people when it took the abortion issue out of our hands in 1973. It took away our right to govern ourselves on this vitally important matter. Roe is anti-democratic as well as anti-constitutional. When Roe is corrected, the right of the people to govern ourselves will be restored.
Second, Trump’s plainspoken response to the late-term abortion question was downright brilliant. Hillary Clinton had just finished giving a wall of words about “Roe v. Wade” and “regulations” and “health of the mother.” Hillary never mentioned the baby. She took pains to avoid mentioning the baby. And certainly she avoided anything that would suggest what an abortion does to a baby. She spoke in soothing platitudes, leaving her audience unmoved.
By contrast, Donald Trump mentioned the baby three times in one sentence. And with an economy of words, he gave a vivid description of a late-term abortion: “If you go with what Hillary is saying, in the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.”
Having torn back the veil, he quickly moved to his conclusion: “Now, you can say that that’s OK and Hillary can say that that’s OK. But it’s not OK with me.”
That put the question to the viewer: Is it okay with you? That’s a powerful ending.(image)
Fri, 11 Nov 2016 14:14:25 -0600
“I’ve had a baby, and I keep wanting to hold her. But she’s gone. I miss her.” A teenager named Bonnie wrote those words in August of 1990. Months before, she had been surprised and scared to learn she was pregnant. As a 17-year-old on the brink of beginning her higher education, she knew she was not equipped to be a parent. But instead of ending the life inside her, she made the bravest, most selfless decision possible: giving up her child for adoption.
I struggle to comprehend the difficulty of entrusting a biological child with new parents, but I am so thankful that Bonnie did so, because that child, Christine Marie, is now one of my dearest friends and has since shared this story to encourage countless others. The day that Bonnie gave up Christy was one of pain, as the words she wrote testify, but Christy’s life as well as innumerable other lives have benefitted as a result of Bonnie’s courageous sacrifice.
Many preconceived ideas and awkward questions often surround adoption. Can a parent’s bond with an adopted child ever be as strong as the one with a biological child? Will an adopted child ever secretly wish his or her birth parents had kept him or her? Are birth parents depriving their child by giving him or her to non-biological parents? These concerns all have valid elements to them, but I have had the privilege of witnessing many adoption stories and can say with certainty that adoption is one of the most beautiful and courageous decisions a woman could make in the face of an unplanned pregnancy.
My dear friend Christy grew up always knowing her adoption as a precious gift—her birth parents loved her and wanted the best for her, but knew that someone else could give that to her when they could not. And now, Christy has the joy of an ongoing relationship with both of her birth parents and has deep gratitude to them for giving her the best family for which she could have asked. Her parents and brother are her rock, and she now also has a wonderful husband who encouraged her to make contact with her birth father.
In her everyday work, Christy now counsels women like Bonnie, using her own story to show them the good that can come from adoption. She works for an adoption agency that comes alongside women with unplanned pregnancies to help them give the best future for themselves and their children.
Christy’s story shows me that abortion and adoption are not only about the child and the birth parents. If Bonnie had not carried Christy to term and then given her to her new parents, I likely wouldn’t be able to call Christy my friend, college roommate, or confidant. I know many other girls who are also blessed with her friendship and mentoring because Bonnie gave her up for adoption. What’s more, Christy’s parents wouldn’t have had the joy of raising her, and her brother wouldn’t have had her as his sister if not for Bonnie’s sacrifice. Christy’s husband William and his family would never have known her. And the vulnerable women who are blessed by Christy every day would not have her in their lives right now.
One life touches innumerable others, and I’m grateful to Christy’s birth mother for giving her baby girl the chance to touch so many lives that she wouldn’t have encountered without her adoption.
Elizabeth Hance is an intern at Family Research Council.(image)
Fri, 04 Nov 2016 14:14:25 -0500A new type of discrimination seems to be at play in Georgia, and it appears to be sanctioned by the state. Two African-American Christian men have been fired from their roles serving the state and its municipalities for holding religious views about human sexuality. People with sincere religious views are now being marginalized in Georgia, where just last year, Governor Nathan Deal vetoed a religious liberty bill saying, “I find it ironic that today some in the religious community feel it necessary to ask the government to confer upon them certain rights and protections.” What is ironic is the fact that Governor Deal could “find no examples” of discrimination based on religion in Georgia, despite the existence of the ongoing case of Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran. Chief Cochran was removed from the Atlanta Fire Department for expressing his religious views about marriage in a devotional book he wrote on his own time. A non-profit litigation firm is litigating his discrimination case against the City of Atlanta. It is also ironic that Governor Deal quipped, “If indeed our religious liberty is conferred by God and not by man-made government, we should heed the ‘hands-off’ admonition of the First Amendment to our Constitution.” Indeed, Georgia should follow the hands-off admonition of the First Amendment, rather than discriminating against people simply for exercising their religion and terminating those individuals’ public service. In fact, mere months after Governor Deal made that statement, the state of Georgia fired yet another public servant because of his religious views. Dr. Eric Walsh was fired from the Georgia Department of Public Health for statements he made during sermons he delivered at his church. His sermons, delivered over a period of years prior to his being hired, included his religious beliefs and viewpoints on social and cultural issues such as health, music, marriage, sexuality, world religions, science, politics, and other matters of concern. Dr. Walsh and Georgia’s other public servants are in need of explicit statutory protections that ensure their First Amendment rights will be respected by the state. The legislature can easily address the concerns of Dr. Walsh, Fire Chief Cochran, and Georgians across the state, particularly as it relates to their religious views about human sexuality by passing the Government Non-Discrimination Act. The Government Non-Discrimination Act is a simple bill that would ensure that the state respects Georgia’s first freedom, the freedom of religion. Specifically, the Government Non-Discrimination Act says, “the State shall not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that: (1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman; (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage; or (3) male (man) and female (woman) refer to distinct and immutable biological sexes that are determinable by anatomy and genetics by time of birth.” The Government Non-Discrimination Act goes on to define types of “discriminatory action,” which includes withholding and terminating employment, the type of discrimination Dr. Walsh and Fire Chief Cochran have experienced. By passing the Government Non-Discrimination Act and sending it to Governor Deal’s desk, the legislature has the opportunity to reassure Georgians that religious freedom is of the utmost importance in the Peach State. And, as people relocate to the cities and countryside of Georgia to wor[...]
Wed, 02 Nov 2016 13:19:20 -0500Dear Friends, A week from today is Election Day. In an FRC brochure about the importance of Christian involvement in the government, author Wayne Grudem had this to say about voting: “I believe that every Christian citizen who lives in a democracy has at the very least a minimal obligation to be well-informed and to vote for candidates and policies that are most consistent with biblical principles. The opportunity to help select the kind of government we will have is a stewardship that God entrusts to citizens in a democracy, a stewardship that we should not neglect or fail to appreciate.” Grudem further argues that authentic Christian citizenship doesn’t stop at voting: “All told, hundreds of thousands of men (and many women as well) sacrificed their lives to protect the nation and preserve the freedoms we enjoy today. Is it right that we simply enjoy these freedoms while giving back to our nation nothing in return? Should we not participate at least at some level in giving money or giving time to support specific candidates and issues? Or writing letters or helping to distribute literature? Or even running for office or volunteering to serve in the military? Is it not right that all of us at least do something more than merely voting to preserve and protect this nation?” It is clear that our country is headed into particularly uncertain times. That is why believers need to not only vote for their values, but to pray with renewed fervor for a significant increase of wisdom and virtue in our leaders. But that’s not all. As Grudem points out, we need to do all we possibly can to redeem the culture through lives of service to our country. There are different ways to serve, so pray about what your particular role may be. Make no mistake—everyone has a role to play. As a great leader of the last century once implored: Be the change that you wish to see in the world. 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 Georgia Still Needs to Remedy the Wrong Done to Eric Walsh – Travis Weber Therapists Addressing Same-Sex Attractions are Joining the SAFE-T Patrol – Peter Sprigg The Real Margaret Sanger – Arina Grossu Religious Liberty Religious Liberty in the Public Square Massachusetts Moves to Regulate Church Belief and Operation – Alliance Defending Freedom Bureaucrats have no business deciding whether Iowa church activities are religious – LifeSiteNews State of Georgia Demands Pastor Turn Over Sermons – ToddStarnes.com International Religious Freedom United Nations Pushes Abortion on Unborn Children of Refugees and Migrants – Marie Smith, Life News Federal Judge Asks Why Obama Administration Isn’t Admitting Christian Syrian Refugees – Hans von Spakovsky, The Daily Signal Jews, Christians and UNESCO's Jerusalem resolution – Lela Gilbert, Fox News Military Religious Freedom Obama Threatens to Veto Military Bill Because It Protects Religious Groups – Roger Severino, The Daily Signal Life Abortion What To Do About Your Pro-Choice Neighbor – Ardee Coolidge, Care Net The Future of Pro-Life Legislation and Litigation – Gerard V. Bradley, Public Discourse What One Woman Is Doing to Take Down Planned Parenthood – Rachel del Guidice, The Daily Signal Abortion Is Not The Answer For People With Heart Defects, Like Me – Jaci Greggs, The Federalist Life Worthy of Life: Down Syndrome, Equality, and My Son Silas – Robert L. McFarland, Public Discourse 527 Babies Save[...]