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Dear Friends,In our current cultural age of distraction and brokenness, it’s important to remember a fact of life that is often ignored: actions have consequences.This essential principle becomes startlingly obvious in light of FRC’s newest publication, “The Link Between Pornography, Sex Trafficking, and Abortion.” As this paper establishes, a single click of internet pornography by the public indicates to the pornography producer that their material is in demand, which will then fuel the continued production of porn, which then fuels the continued exploitation of women who are often pressured into being filmed doing sex acts, which then fuels the lustful desires of the pornography consumer to seek paid sex from women who are often being sex trafficked themselves, which often leads to them having forced abortions.This is just one example of the horrific chain of consequences that can happen as a result of one poor choice. Happily, however, good deeds also have consequences, or more fittingly, fruits. When we give of ourselves generously, the person who receives this gift (or even someone who just observes the good deed) will often feel grateful and humbled, and even feel inspired to act generously themselves in response.This reflects the nature of God—He exists in the form of gift. In other words, everything that we have—our lives, our breath, our material possessions—are a gift from Him. Therefore, we are all called to give ourselves away, just as God has done for us. May we always remember this principle and live by it, that selfish actions have dire consequences, but selfless deeds bear plentiful fruit.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 ArticlesThe Link Between Pornography, Sex Trafficking, and Abortion – Arina GrossuThe First Amendment Protects a Dissenting Cake Baker, Not State Coercion – Travis WeberSchool Worker Was Told She Could Be Fired If She Offered to Pray for Someone Again – Tony PerkinsSen. Cassidy Was Right: Most Planned Parenthood Businesses Are in Urban Areas – Arina GrossuAtheists, Courts Mark Veterans Day While Demanding Demolition Of Veterans Memorials – Travis WeberObamaCare 2018: Unaffordable, fewer options, still covers abortion – Arina GrossuWhat This Disabled Navy Veteran Told NFL Team When They Tried to Honor Him – Tony Perkins66% Don't Believe Bakery Should Be Punished for Not Baking Cake for Same-Sex Wedding – Tony PerkinsConservative Group Claims YouTube Is Censoring Its Videos – Tony PerkinsJudge Usurps Power, Ignores Real Issues in Transgender Military Injunction – Lt. Gen. Jerry BoykinReligious Freedom for Bakers is Common Ground for Most Americans – Natalie PughFrom Zero to Zelie: Our Adoption Journey and What We’ve Learned – Daniel and Bethany MeolaConcern for “Rights” Is Nothing New for Social Conservatives – Peter SpriggFollowing God’s Call to Adopt in Ethiopia – Maggie BangaDid the ACLU Hide the Ball and Rush an Abortion? – Travis WeberScalise Shooting Declared to be an Act of Terrorism Under Virginia Law, So Why is the FBI Confused? – Chris Gacek Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquarePoll: 71% of Americans Say Political Correctness Has Silenced Discussions Society Needs to Have, 58% Have Political Views They’re Afraid to Share – CATO InstituteMost Americans Believe Christian Bakers Should Not Be Forced to Make Cakes for Gay Weddings – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostAtheist Group Demands School District End Evangelical Group's Mentor Program – Michael Gryboski, The Christian PostMinnesota officials attempt to control the message of Christian filmmakers – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission"Free to Believe"Georgia School District Bans Coach From Praying With Team After Atheists Complain – Samuel Smith, The Christian PostVictory for Special Education Employee Reprimanded for Telling Coworker, “I will pray for you” – First LibertyShe publicly turned from her lesbian lifestyle, so this college refused to hire her as a coach – Aaron Colen, TheBlazeDepartment of Agriculture Religious Freedom Policy Resolves Case of Christian Meat Packer – Dr. Susan Berry, BreitbartInternational Religious FreedomEgypt's President Sisi Meets With US Evangelical Leaders for First Time in Cairo – Samuel Smith, The Christian PostFrench court orders removal of cross from statue of John Paul II – Zelda Caldwell, AleteiaChristians Called to Take Action on International Day of Prayer for Persecuted Church – Anugrah Kumar, The Christian Post LifeAbortionOhio House votes to ban abortions on babies with Down syndrome – Nancy Flanders, Live Action7 Things I Learned At The Women’s Convention About Feminists And Abortion – Abby Johnson, The FederalistSupreme Court to hear case against California law forcing pro-life centers to advertise abortion – Pete Baklinski, LifeSiteNewsPro-life student impeached for her views speaks out: I will never lose my passion for protecting life – Cassy Fiano, Live ActionAdoptionAdoption Tax Credit Saved by Both House and Senate – Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, Christianity TodayWhy the Adoption Tax Credit matters – Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionAdoption Videos & Documentaries – BraveLove.orgNational Adoption Awareness Month: one family’s adoption story – Julie Bourdon, Mission Network NewsVideo: Older Child, Foster Care Adoption – Bethany Christian Services5 Facts about orphans – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionSinger Sarah McLachlan, other celebs explain what it feels like to be adopted – Kelli, Live ActionBioethicsContract Pregnancies Exposed: Surrogacy Contracts Don’t Protect Surrogate Mothers and Their Children – Jennifer Lahl, Public DiscourseWhy are attempts to legalize assisted suicide failing across the United States? – Cassy Fiano, Live ActionEmbryology and Science Denial – Patrick Lee and Melissa Moschella, Public DiscourseDown Syndrome and Eugenics – Roberto Rivera, BreakPointObamacareObamacare Won't Pay for His Back Surgery, but Will Cover Opioids – Lorie Johnson, CBN NewsHits keep on coming: Obamacare premiums rising by $1K per month – Daniel Horowitz, Conservative Review FamilyEconomics/EducationThe Missing Ingredients in Modern Education – Dwight Longenecker, Intellectual TakeoutA Record Share of Men Are “Marrying Up” Educationally – Wendy Wang, Family StudiesMarriageThe Research Proves The No. 1 Social Justice Imperative Is Marriage – Glenn T. Stanton, The FederalistCheap Sex is the “Inconvenient Truth” in the Retreat from Marriage – Mark Regnerus, Family StudiesI Married a Same-Sex Attracted Man. And I Am Blessed. – Jaclyn S. Parrish, The Gospel CoalitionCheap sex and tumbling marriage rates – Kiley Crossland, WORLDMarriage is a dance of growing together, apart, together – Dani Shapiro, PBS NewsHourFaith/Character/CultureIt's Time We Got Loud About Love Again – Matthew Archbold, National Catholic RegisterNo. 1 Thing Parents Can Do to Ensure Kids Are Faithful Christians When They Grow Up – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostBy Rejecting God, Modern Man Rejects His Humanity – Paul Krause, CrisisPassions' Republic: The Christian Cure for What Ails Modern Politics – David Bradshaw, TouchstoneThe Science About Motherhood Liberals Don’t Want to Hear – Kelsey Harkness, The Daily SignalDo Men Owe Women a Special Kind of Care? – John Piper, Desiring GodAttacking the Ties That Bind – Wesley J. Smith, First ThingsHuman SexualityOpen secret: The one thing that can prevent sexual harassment – Elizabeth Scalia, AleteiaChildren fast-tracked into gender transition – Kiley Crossland, WORLDLet’s Cast a Vision for Mere Sexuality – Todd Wilson, The Gospel CoalitionTrump Administration To Conduct New Research On Sex Education Programs – David Brody, CBN NewsHuman TraffickingUnder Pressure, Tech Giants Drop Opposition to Anti-Trafficking Bill – Lisa Correnti, C-FamPornographyYou won’t believe how many kids under 10 are watching porn – Calah Alexander, AleteiaPodcast: Jimmy and Kelly Needham discuss overcoming pornography – Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionCould Porn Be One Explanation for Sexual Predators Like Louis C.K.? – Naomi Schaefer Riley, Family Studies
The Cato Institute published their Free Speech and Tolerance Survey for 2017 at the end of October. In their research, they asked over 2,000 United States citizens about their opinions on free speech. Their study revealed that 50% of Americans think businesses with religious objections should still be required to serve those who identify as gay and lesbian as a general rule (which the wedding vendors who have been sued are happy to do), but 68% believe a baker should not be required to bake a custom wedding cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony. These results show that, at least on this issue, Americans can identify and support a genuine desire to live according to one’s religious beliefs.The survey also revealed that most Americans feel that political correctness is preventing important discussions (71%) and feel afraid to voice their opinions (58%). Additionally, while an overwhelming majority (79%) of Americans find hate speech “morally unacceptable,” only 40% believe the government should prevent public expressions of hate speech.If most Americans believe in the value of free speech, even to the point of allowing hate speech, why is there so much outrage over speech in our society? The problem lies in the conflicting ideas of what Americans find offensive. In the survey, people’s answers followed closely to party values. Despite their support for free speech as an idea, most strong liberals (51%) think it’s acceptable to punch Nazis; and most conservatives (53%) support revoking citizenship status of individuals who burn the American flag. While both sides of the political spectrum would like to punish specific speech that they find offensive, they need to recognize that taking away free speech would hurt each other equally.There is no clear consensus on what classifies as “hateful” or “offensive” speech among Americans. A majority of liberals (59%) think saying people who identify as transgender have a mental disorder is hate speech, however the majority of conservatives disagree. While 39% of conservatives think saying the police are “racist” is hate speech, only 17% of liberals agree. Given the highly partisan viewpoint that individuals are placing on speech, any laws to censor speech would be completely dependent on which political party was currently holding a majority on Capitol Hill. This would destroy the basic principle of free speech.The right to speak freely is a foundational right of our nation. It allows citizens to voice their displeasure with our current government, society, or situation, and through dialogue, devise a plan for improvement. Without this right, citizens would lose the ability to hold their government accountable or merely express their opinions, as the party in power could suppress the spread of any ideas they disliked. This could have devastating effects on Americans’ right to assemble, right to protest, freedom of the press, and religious freedom.Has society already destroyed the acceptance of free speech? A majority of Americans are afraid to publicly voice their opinions. It’s not hard to imagine why when 59% of Democrats believe employers should punish their employees for offensive Facebook posts. However, freedom of speech is still a constitutional right for every American citizen. While an argument for censorship can sound convincing in today’s divisive climate, it is important to remember the equality that freedom of speech gives to each citizen.Ultimately, we need to remember the origin of the Bill of Rights that our Founding Fathers fought so hard to achieve. Being occasionally offended is a small price to pay to ensure freedom of speech for all citizens, regardless of their political party.
November is National Adoption Month. To recognize this important issue, we are publishing personal adoption testimonies this month.Adoption is very near and dear to our hearts. After six years of marriage, and many prayers for a child, earlier this year we welcomed our daughter Zelie-Louise Layla Rose into our family through adoption. This experience has been a profound journey of faith for us—a pilgrimage—and God has taught us so much through it, and through the people we’ve encountered along the way.Our adoption story, in a nutshell: we were married in 2011, experienced the heartache of infertility, and in 2015 discerned a call to adopt. Adoption is a calling; not every couple without children is called to pursue it, but all couples should discern it. We then completed our home study (the state’s approval process for pre-adoptive parents) for domestic, infant adoption and after a year and a half of actively waiting, we were chosen by our daughter’s birthparents in February 2017. Zelie was born on April 6, 2017, and we were blessed to be with her from her very first moments after birth. She is a beautiful, energetic, delightfully happy baby who brings immeasurable joy into our family!Being so personally close to adoption, and being such a new adoptive family, there is both so much to say and at the same time no way to adequately capture all that adoption means to us. Nonetheless, here are a few things we have learned about adoption so far.Adoption is……an act of heroism. And by that we are not talking first about adoptive parents like ourselves, but of birthparents. Selfless love means putting another’s needs ahead of your own desires, and that is exactly what birthparents do. It’s crucial to say that birthparents don’t “give up” a child for adoption, but rather “place” a child or “make an adoption plan.” The latter speak to the proactive love and generosity shown by birthparents in choosing a family for their child, despite the pain and heartache that it can mean for them. We will always teach Zelie that her birthparents are her heroes for their loving decision to place her in our family.…a response to a loss. This truth is necessary to acknowledge, that adoption happens because there is some crisis or difficulty so grave that a child cannot be raised by his or her birthparents; this is undeniably a tragedy. In a perfect world, we’d have no need for adoption (nor would infertility exist), but in this actual world, adoption is a loving response to a difficult situation, and a powerful example of bringing hope and beauty out of very hard circumstances. It’s important for all involved in adoption to be mindful of the losses involved, especially as an adopted child grows and processes his or her feelings about it. Here, open adoption (some level of ongoing contact between the adoptive and birth families) can help answer a child’s questions, provide connection with his or her heritage, and offer an opportunity for the child to stay connected to the birthparents.…a powerful act of hospitality. Borrowing from this beautiful piece by adoptive father Timothy O’Malley, adoption expresses great hospitality and welcome. There is a reason why Scripture speaks so often of us as God’s adopted children! “When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son . . . so that we might receive adoption” (Galatians 4: 4-5). Zelie will always have her precious heritage from her birth family, including genetic connections, her looks, and so forth, and we will help her cherish that part of her identity. But when we adopted her, she became fully and truly a member of our family as well. She is forever our daughter. (Side note: this is why adoptive parents bristle when asked, “Do you have any of ‘your own’ children?”) As Timothy O’Malley explains, the hospitality of adoption is a message that speaks to the heart of all parenting: “Adoption reminds us that every act of parenting is a moment of hospitality, a moment that allows love to flourish anew in the world… a love that always comes as gift.”…a challenging process. Adoption is not for the faint of heart! For potential adoptive parents, the process involves lots of paperwork and an examination of all areas of your life, at times feeling excessive or downright invasive; likely lots of waiting as you hope day after day for “the call”; and a deep vulnerability as you entrust your family’s growth to the Lord, mediated through the very earthly realities of agencies, lawyers, and prospective birthparents. Seen in the right way, trying to adopt is an incredible opportunity to grow as a couple in patience, humility, and trust. The delicacy of the adoption process, and the strong emotions involved, means that it’s also crucial to work with ethical adoption professionals who safeguard the rights and dignity of all those involved: adoptive parents, birthparents, and the child. For couples hoping to adopt, prayer is so important every step of the way.…a miracle of love. The sacrifices given do not compare to the great gift received—a blessed, unique child—who is a miracle of God’s love never before seen on this earth! When we received Zelie into our arms, you could say we went from “zero” to a fullness of love who smiles and dances around with the wonderful name of Zelie. We marvel at how such a tiny infant can not only draw love and laughter out of us, but also so wonderfully love us in return. Zelie is an unrepeatable miracle of love entrusted to us by her birthparents and by God. For this unfathomable responsibility, we will be forever grateful and we will love Zelie every day of her life.Daniel Meola is a catechetical specialist at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C.; Bethany Meola is a stay-at-home mom who loves being with Zelie full-time. The couple lives in Bowie, Md. and blogs about their adoption at http://www.adoptionpilgrimage.blogspot.com
The Religion News Service (RNS) recently ran an interview with the author of a new book who claims, in the words of the RNS summary, “that in recent years, the Religious Right has moved away from discussing morality to ‘rights,’ especially the ‘rights of the unborn.’” This is portrayed as an ironic development, given that “[t]alking in terms of individual rights used to be primarily the purview of liberals.” The book is The Rights Turn in Conservative Christian Politics: How Abortion Transformed the Culture Wars, by political scientist Andrew Lewis.But is the discussion of “‘rights,’ especially the ‘rights of the unborn’” among social conservatives really a “recent” move?Not exactly. For example, one of the leading “anti-abortion” groups in America is the National Right to Life Committee, which was founded in 1968. Furthermore, the use of “rights” language with respect to abortion was not unique to one organization, or to activists. For example, in the original New York Times article reporting the Supreme Court’s January 1973 Roe v. Wade decision striking down abortion laws, they said that in May of 1972 President Richard Nixon had written a letter to Cardinal Terence Cooke, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, in which the president spoke out for “the right to life of literally hundreds of thousands of unborn children.”It appears that the Religion News Service had simply mis-characterized author Lewis’ position by referring to the shift toward using “the rights of the unborn” as “recent.” Indeed, in the interview, Lewis himself suggests the change occurred “[o]nce Roe v. Wade happened, and the decade after,” which would hardly be “recent.” But, as indicated above, even that assertion is inaccurate.Another odd assertion is Lewis’s statement in the interview regarding the relationship between the language used by those supportive of legal abortion and the language used by those who oppose it: “They began countering the left’s ‘right to choose’ language with their own potent language.” As noted above, conservatives have talked about the “right to life” all along. It is the Left that has had to scramble to find new language. Around the time of Roe, liberals did not hesitate to call themselves “pro-abortion,” or at least to speak about a “right to abortion.” But over time they found out that “pro-abortion” was a losing term for them, and it was their language that evolved to avoid talking about the real subject (abortion), and instead to use a euphemism like “the right to choose.”Another example of the Left’s shifting language is the name of the well-known pro-abortion group that is often just referred to by the acronym “NARAL.” This group went from being dubbed the “National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws” to being the “National Abortion Rights Action League” (adding “rights” to their name) to being the “National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League” (expanding the range of “rights” they purport to defend) to now calling themselves “NARAL Pro-Choice America.”Also odd is this statement by Lewis: “As conservative Christians start engaging on a wider array of things, particularly issues that might be controversial and the base might not be sure what to do with, the leadership always ties it to abortion.”He makes it sound as though looking for the implications for abortion in various pieces of legislation (such as, for example, Obamacare) is merely a political strategy. Does it not occur to him that we really believe the things we say, and that although there are many aspects of the sexual revolution which bother us, abortion is objectively the worst, because it involves the mass slaughter of millions of innocent unborn human beings?Lewis offers this explanation for the shift toward “rights” language he claims to have identified:[T]he big picture is that as the cultural status of conservative Christianity declines, they no longer have the cultural power that they once had. They move from taking cultural majority positions to thinking about rights and minority positions.His thesis, and his explanation for it, makes somewhat more sense in the context of the homosexual movement—where opposition to redefining marriage was argued in part on the basis of the “right of a child to a mom and a dad,” and opposition to sexual orientation and gender identity laws has been supported in part by arguments about the “right to religious liberty.”However, Lewis fails to give social conservatives enough credit for the sincerity of the arguments we make, including “rights” arguments. And when it comes to the abortion debate, the facts and chronology simply do not support his thesis.
November is National Adoption Month. To recognize this important issue, we are publishing personal adoption testimonies this month.Shortly after we were married, my husband and I felt that God was calling us to live out our married life as missionaries. We joined the Comboni Missionaries, and after a one year period of formation we were ready to go to mission. A small village mission in Guatemala was chosen as the best match for our skill set and we began to study Spanish. However, two weeks before the planned departure our mission was changed. We would no longer be going to Central America but instead, to our great surprise, to Africa.We went with a commitment to serve as missionaries for three years wherever we were sent. If someone had told us that we would be serving in Ethiopia for more than six years and that when we did return our family would be majority Ethiopian, we wouldn’t have believed it! We had never thought of nor planned to adopt.In February 2010, my husband and I arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The sounds, the smells, the sights—everything that was so new and strange slowly became familiar. The community that was once foreign and unfamiliar became our home. We had the desire to share our love more deeply and to welcome a child into our family. We wanted to adopt a baby from Ethiopia. Living in Ethiopia, the process was slightly different though not less complicated than in the U.S. We began working on the paperwork.We met with the Missionaries of Charity and expressed our interest in adopting a child. On April 30, 2012 (the feast day of Our Lady of Africa), they matched us with a six-month-old baby girl from Northern Ethiopia with intense eyes and big dimples. Her name was Emebet, which in Amharic (a language commonly spoken in Ethiopia) means “honored woman” or “special lady.” I immediately relocated from the south where we were living to the capital to visit with her each day.During the five week period of waiting to become her legal parents, we felt she might be taken from us before she became our adopted daughter as we saw her battle meningitis and then shortly afterwards measles. It was during this difficult time that my husband felt for the first time like her dad. Visiting her in the afternoon, he found her sick with measles, which is such a contagious disease that she had to be temporarily placed in an isolated part of the orphanage. She was face down and crying desperately in her crib in fear, pain, and loneliness, her body covered in a rash and her nose running from the illness and the tears. He scooped her up into his arms, laid her head on his shoulder, and sang softly, rocking her back and forth. She grew quiet and settled. A couple minutes later she lifted her head and pushed herself back to gaze into his face—who was this who was holding her? He smiled at her and whispered confidently, “I’m your dad and will hold you now forever.”We continued to open the plan of our family to God’s love. Many changes related to orphan care and adoption were taking place within the country, and it was a very challenging process, but two years later to our amazement we welcomed two more children into our home—Isayas, a 14-month-old active and happy boy, and Teibe, an eight-month-old affectionate and snuggly girl. Isayas’s name is the Amharic version of the prophet Isaiah, meaning “God is salvation.” Teibe’s name comes from Therese Bethlehem—her first name is in honor of St. Teresa of Kolkata (Mother Teresa) and her middle name reminds us of the joy and hope that was sparked there with the birth of Jesus.We returned to North America last year, after more than six years in service. Our youngest is now four years old! This week we will be blessed with the visit of a Norwegian family that also adopted a boy and a girl from the same orphanage at the same time that we did. We supported each other through the process and waiting period and our kids were friends with cribs next to each other.We see each of our children as a miracle. We delight in them and in the relationship of the three of them together. They bring joy to us as parents and to our bigger family, their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.It has been amazing to help them to understand our family and how they came to be part of it. We brewed delicious Ethiopian coffee on a recent Sunday morning and it gave our family an occasion to share, rejoice, and ask questions. The coffee was grown in the region where our youngest child Teibe was born. “Where was I born and what do they grow there?” the other two wanted to know. This was a small piece to an ongoing dialogue our family will have about adoption and God’s love and plans for each of us.We can’t imagine our family without our three kids.Ask God about his plan for your family. Could you welcome another child into your home?Maggie Banga and her husband are Comboni Lay Missionaries. They live with their three adopted children in Hyattsville, Md.
Based on the DOJ’s recently-filed cert petition before the Supreme Court in Garza v. Hargan, it appears that this is exactly what may have happened.As you may recall, this was the case featuring an unlawful immigrant minor being held in the care and custody of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the legal question of whether the ACLU could force the government to turn her over to get an abortion. Last week, after the full D.C. Circuit unexpectedly stepped in and ordered the government to do exactly that, it did—and she got an abortion—but now it is looking like this series of events may have unfolded in a manner not entirely on the up-and-up.As recounted in the DOJ’s cert petition, there was an exchange of emails between ACLU and DOJ attorneys about when and how Jane Doe (the minor girl) would be taken for counseling and then an abortion—which must be separated by 24 hours under Texas law. Here, the ACLU told the DOJ a counseling appointment for Ms. Doe would occur on October 25—an assertion on which the DOJ relied to conclude it still had time to file for an emergency stay before the abortion would occur on October 26. However, at the last minute the ACLU got the doctor who had counseled Ms. Doe the previous week to agree to do the abortion on October 25—and yet didn’t tell the DOJ. By early morning on the 25th, Ms. Doe had gotten the abortion, and it was too late for DOJ lawyers—left in the dark by the ACLU’s deliberate withholding of this information—to request an emergency stay. The question now is whether this conceal and coverup operation violated legal ethics rules.The DOJ cert petition argues two main points:Because the ACLU unilaterally acted in a way that made this case moot (by taking Ms. Doe for the abortion) before the opposing party (the DOJ) had an opportunity to respond by being able to request an emergency stay from the Supreme Court, longstanding Supreme Court precedent requires the case to be dismissed with orders to lower courts to vacate their judgments.Related to the failure to inform the DOJ the abortion would occur the early morning of the 25th, the ACLU counsel may have violated legal ethical duties.If the Supreme Court agrees with the first argument, this would be a positive development as it would wipe out the erroneous en banc D.C. Circuit ruling and require the district court to dismiss all the remaining abortion rights claims (though often skipped over in recent discussions, this case features a number of other unnamed minors whose abortion claims are being advanced by the court-appointed guardian, and the case would have continued even though Ms. Doe got an abortion). The second argument should be taken seriously for the simple reason that our legal system depends on it.What is deeply scary, and beyond the legal banter of this case, is that the ACLU apparently had such a fervent desire to see Ms. Doe’s baby killed that it chose to walk in the shadows of concealment and deception to do so.
On October 6th, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Alexandria, Va., announced his findings in a report regarding the use of force by law enforcement officers during the shooting of Representative Steve Scalise (R-La.) and others at a baseball field on June 14, 2017.[i] Bryan L. Porter concluded that the multiple shooting and attempted mass assassination constituted an act of terrorism under Virginia law.The Porter report is significant because its conclusion stands in sharp contrast to the report offered by two FBI officials at a press conference eight days after the shooting.[ii] Andrew Vale, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, indicated that the shooter acted alone and that there was “no nexus to terrorism.”[iii] He also stated that the agency would be investigating the shooting as an assault on a member of Congress and an assault on a federal officer. No indication was given that a terrorism investigation was being conducted, and the statements made seemed to downplay the shooter’s ideological and political beliefs.It is important to recall the key facts in the case. Early on the morning of June 14, Rep. Scalise, the Majority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives, and numerous other GOP House members and senators were the primary targets of a mass assassination attempt at an Alexandria baseball diamond. Scalise was shot in the hip and nearly died from his wounds. Two other players on the field, not elected officials, were shot and received dangerous wounds. Two United States Capitol Police agents, present as part of the protective detail for Rep. Scalise, were wounded by gunfire—one seriously.[iv] The would-be assassin, James T. Hodgkinson, was killed after being shot three times.Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan L. Porter made the following observation about the would-be assassin’s political affiliation and motivations:Hodgkinson held strong political opinions and was very unhappy about the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. He spent a significant amount of time on social media, using it to express his political views, such as his strong support for Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.Another example of this is that Hodgkinson “liked” the Southern Poverty Law Center on Facebook—indicating that he was a fan of the organization and its attacking brand of politics.Citing the Virginia terrorism statute, Porter confidently concluded, “The evidence in this case establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspect, fueled by rage against Republican legislators, decided to commit an act of terrorism as that term is defined by the Code of Virginia.”[v]Page 9 of Porter’s report may contain the most significant information pointing to the FBI’s misjudgment in the case—evidence that Hodgkinson conducted a number of surveillance sweeps of the playing field. After the shooting, there was a report to police that Hodgkinson had parked his van at the field on June 10th and walked around the field “casing” it. Porter reported that “at least one member of the Republican baseball team remembered seeing the suspect sitting in the Simpson field stands and watching the team practice on the morning before the incident, June 13.”[vi] The Alexandria prosecutor’s report also noted that video files from Hodgkinson’s phone “show video of [the baseball diamond] recorded in April 2017.” This field cannot be described as a tourist site in Alexandria. Rather, it is a relatively unattractive part of the city that one would not visit at 7 a.m. but for the baseball practice. Furthermore, “several witnesses came forward and reported seeing the suspect walking around [the field] in May 2017.” Porter observed that “[f]rom these facts, it may be inferred that the suspect had already selected Simpson Field as a potential target as early as April 2017.”Even if one does not agree with Porter that Hodgkinson had determined his course of action in April or May 2017, his viewing the practice the day before and looking over the location on June 10th gives strong evidence as to his intentionality in committing the shooting. Of course, this is only underscored by the widely known fact that Hodgkinson had asked two members of the GOP team only moments before the shooting, while walking into the parking lot, whether the Democrat or Republican team was practicing. When told that the GOP team was on the field, he replied “ok, thanks” and proceeded to get his rifle and pistol from his van. The shooting began shortly thereafter.The shooting was no spur-of-the-moment loss of control by Hodgkinson. It tied into his ideological animosity to the political views of the men he was trying to assassinate, and he intended to kill as many of them as he could. The Patriot Act sets forth the definition of “domestic terrorism” at 18 U.S. § 2331(5). Such terrorism “means activities that”(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;(B) appear to be intended— (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.It requires little imagination to see how sections 2331(5)(B)(ii) or (iii) might apply to Hodgkinson’s mass assassination attempt. Given his strong anti-Republican and hard-left beliefs combined with his effort to kill numerous members of the U.S. House and Senate, Hodgkinson could easily be seen to be attempting to influence federal government policy by intimidation or coercion—by shooting leading political figures of the majority party in both legislative bodies.Moreover, it is straightforward to see Hodgkinson’s actions as attempting to influence the conduct of government by assassination. At the very least, dead or significantly wounded members don’t vote or lead while incapacitated. The Majority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives had been taken from his duties for almost four months, and he may now assess his political future differently. Even though he did not kill any members of Congress, his actions clearly affected our government if only for the horrific effect it had on Majority Whip Scalise.All of these facts that were available to Mr. Porter and his prosecutor’s office in Virginia were also available to the FBI. Yet, a conservative reading of the federal domestic terrorism definition makes it clear that Hodgkinson’s actions should be characterized by the FBI as terrorism. Yet, the FBI stated eight days after the shooting that there was no nexus to terrorism. Why the rush to shut down a proper inquiry?Congress needs to look into this and discover why the FBI is mischaracterizing what took place in Alexandria. It isn’t fair to Mr. Scalise or the other victims of this crime. More significantly, it is not accurate, honest, or truthful, and the American people deserve better.It is a matter of great importance that our leading law enforcement agency understand terrorism. If the FBI cannot apply the law to simple facts, then it may be time for Congress to make some changes in that agency and its Washington field office.[i] Bryan L. Porter, Use of Force Investigation and Analysis, Commonwealth’s Attorney, City of Alexandria (Oct. 6, 2017) (https://www.alexandriava.gov/uploadedFiles/commattorney/info/17-001%20-%20Simpson%20Field%20Shooting%20-%20FINAL%2010.06.17.pdf).[ii] Law Enforcement Press Conference on the Shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise and others, FBI Field Office, Washington, D.C. (June 22, 2017): https://www.facebook.com/wjlatv/videos/10155472388738734/ (Facebook page for WJLA-TV). The two FBI officials who participated were Andrew Vale, Assistant Director in Charge, Washington Field Office, and Timothy Slater, Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Division, Washington Field Office.[iii] It is possible for an act of terrorism itself to have no “nexus to terrorism” – in the sense of a wider terror network, but Vale could have made this more clear.[iv] Both members of Rep. Scalise’s protective detail, Special Agent David Bailey and Special Agent Crystal Griner, were fired upon; Griner was severely wounded after being shot in her left ankle.[v] “See Va. Code § 18.46.4. In the pertinent part, the Code of Virginia defines an ‘Act of Terrorism’ as ‘an act of violence… committed with the intent to (i) intimidate the civilian population at large or (ii) influence the conduct or activities of the government of the United States, a state or locality through intimidation.’” Carla Branch, “Commonwealth’s Attorney Finds Use Of Deadly Force In June 14 Shooting Justified,” AlexandriaNews.org (Oct. 6, 2017) (http://www.alexandrianews.org/2017/10/commonwealths-attorney-finds-use-of-deadly-force-in-june-14-shooting-justified/).[vi] Porter, Use of Force Investigation and Analysis, at 9.
Dear Friends,A disturbing idea has been embedded in our culture for quite some time. It is the idea that in general, people should be left to their own devices to decide what is right and wrong for them. In other words, people, particularly children, should not be imposed upon or “nurtured,” they should instead be free to take on their own “nature,” whatever that may manifest to be. This is illustrated by the growing phenomenon of parents insisting that their children must be free to choose their gender.Those who adhere to this philosophy, I would argue, are not being totally honest with themselves. What I mean by this is that those who insist that everyone must be free to decide for themselves what is right or wrong are the very same people that expect society to adhere to certain rules, such as the prohibitions against murder, rape, and theft. This is quite telling, because it reveals that there are some things in life that most people agree are inherently true and therefore non-negotiable; indeed, they can and should be imposed.This reveals the inherent flaw in the “nature over nurture” logic. Believers know that if man is left to his own devices, he will eventually devolve into a selfish beast. In other words, man does not come upon moral behavior by chance or by nature—it must be taught and shown to him. This fact underscores the critical role that parents have in educating their children. When believers pass on the tenets of their faith to their children, they are giving them a foundation to not only become a stable member of society and have a successful future, but to enjoy a life of happiness that can only be found by serving God. As Ian Rowe has written in Family Studies, even our country’s most wealthy educational benefactors do not understand this basic fact—that children who are most likely to succeed are those whose parents are their primary educators.More and more evidence for the importance of stable family structures continues to come out every day. May we lead by example and help transform our culture into one that values and upholds the family unit.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 ArticlesIgnoring Military’s Reasons for Transgender Order, Unelected Judge Sets National Security Policy – Tony PerkinsIn abortion case, we let two children down: Jane Doe and Baby Doe – Travis WeberTrump is a great champion of religious liberty -- a welcome change from Obama – Tony PerkinsAll Hat, No Decency – Ken BlackwellFoster Parenting and Adoption: Answering God’s Call to Love – Kathy AthearnVice President Pence Announces Relief for Middle East Christians – Travis WeberGeorgetown University’s Identity Crisis – Kelly MarcumWe Need To Rethink Our Sexual Culture – Dan HartIn Today’s Media Environment, It’s “News” When the Department of Justice Actually Enforces the Law – Travis WeberIs the Air Force Finished With People of Faith? – Travis Weber Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareThe Uses and Abuses of Hate – Robert Knight, TownhallWhen Will The Media Stop Trusting A Hate Group To Label Hate Groups? – Margot Cleveland, The FederalistFederal court rules World War I memorial cross must be torn down – Todd Starnes, Fox News91% of pastors want to speak freely without govt punishment – Alliance Defending FreedomACLU Silent on Gay Coffee Shop Owner Who Kicked Out Pro-Lifers – Amber Randall, The Daily SignalGeorgetown may defund student group for defending Church teaching on marriage – Claire Chretien, LifeSiteNewsWhy the Government Shouldn’t Force Bakers—Or Anyone—to Express Support for Same-Sex Marriage – Steven Smith, Public DiscourseI’m a Conservative at Princeton. Why My Fellow Student Is Wrong to Make War on Free Speech. – Owen Wheeler, The Daily Signal"Free to Believe"Colorado Baker Asked to Make ‘Birthday Cake’ for Satan – Kelsey Harkness, The Daily SignalKY Judge Who Objects to Homosexual Adoptions Faces Charges – FACTArizona judge rejects wedding shop’s challenge to ordinance that bars discrimination based on sexual orientation – Fox NewsInternational Religious FreedomModern Horror: New Report Says Global Persecution of Christians Is at Historic Peak – National Catholic RegisterThe Last Christians: Priest Describes Horror, Courage of Christians Being Killed for Their Faith – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostWhite House Reveals ‘Game-Changer’ for Persecuted Middle East Christians – Peter Jesserer Smith, National Catholic RegisterNorth Korean defector describes 'life of hell' for Christians – Perry Chiaramonte, Fox NewsCourt: Student can be expelled for calling gay ‘marriage’ a sin on Facebook – LifeSiteNewsMilitary Religious FreedomAir Force Punishes Colonel who Refused to Affirm Gay Marriage – ToddStarnes.com LifeAbortionHow 1,000 Churches Could Transform the Abortion Debate – Greg Austen, Care NetAbortionist cancels illegal late-term abortions after pro-lifers expose him – Claire Chretien, LifeSiteNewsMaryland Pro-Lifers to Protest Newly Opened Late Term Abortion Clinic of LeRoy Carhart – Michael Gryboski, The Christian PostIn Blocking Abortion Legislation, Democrats Will Display Their Extremism – George Will, National ReviewAbortion Rate Drops 25% Over Last 6 Years as More Babies Saved From Abortions – Micaiah Bilger, LifeNewsOntario bans pro-life witness outside abortion centers – Lianne Laurence, LifeSiteNewsAbortion Clinics are Crawling With Dirty Health Violations, Report Finds – Grace Carr, The StreamAdoptionInternational Adoptions Drop to New Low as Evangelical Funding Spikes – Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, Christianity TodayACLU Threatens to Stamp Out Diversity by Shuttering Faith-Based Adoption Agencies – Emilie Kao and Zachary Jones, The Daily SignalVideo: Foster Care and Adoption: The Keberlein StoryA Theology Of Adoption – Lauren Rae Konkol, First ThingsBioethicsEmbryos and Five-Year-Olds: Whom to Rescue – Robert P. George and Christopher O. Tollefsen, Public DiscourseBasic Bioethics: An A to Z glossary on ‘making life’ – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionA Right To the Baby We Want – Wesley J. Smith, First ThingsRadical Autonomy: A Dangerous Metaphysical Myth – Philip Hawley, Jr., Public DiscourseObamacareHow Iowa Became An Obamacare Horror Story – Paul Demko, Politico Magazine FamilyEconomics/EducationBill Gates Overlooks the Vital Role of Families in Shaping Children’s Academic Outcomes – Ian Rowe, Family StudiesWhat Tax Reform Owes Families – Josh McCabe, Family Studies4 ways to display the gospel as a public school teacher – Anonymous, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionWhy Catholic Schools Should Scrap Scholastic Book Fairs – Jean Schoonover-Egolf, CrisisMarriageWhat 25 Years of Marriage Have Taught Me – John Clark, National Catholic RegisterAre We Asking Too Much of Our Marriages? – Anna Sutherland, Family StudiesMore Than Marriage: What’s Behind Polyamory In the Church – Katie McCoy, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionVideo: The Biggest Misconception About Marriage – The Gospel Coalition10 Lessons Learned from 20 Years of Marriage – Nina Vallone, Chicago NowFaith/Character/CultureThe Crisis of Masculinity – Tony Reinke, Desiring GodI Don’t Care If It’s Halloween. Your Gruesome And Tacky Yard Decorations Are Sick And Rude – Georgi Boorman, The FederalistAt Least as Dangerous as Porn – Jon Bloom, Desiring GodHappier Mealtimes, Healthier Eating for Kids – Mary Elizabeth Dallas, HealthDayLife Is Still Beautiful – Trevin Wax, The Gospel CoalitionWhy Fatherlessness Is Not Normal and Dads Need to Hug Their Kids – Brandon Showalter, The Christian PostWhat Women Who Have Had A Miscarriage Want You To Know – Emily Carrington, The FederalistVideo: How to Resist the Allure of Gossip – The Gospel CoalitionWomen Should Stop Insisting Men Are Bad Just Because They Feel Sexual Tension – D.C. McAllister, The FederalistHas Promoting Mother Absence Spawned Campus Crybabies? – Joy Pullmann, The FederalistHuman SexualityWhy the Light of Purity is Needed to See the Mystery of Sex – Dietrich von Hildebrand, National Catholic Register#Metoo: The prevalence of sexual assault and a call to the church – Trillia Newbell, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionLet’s (Not) Talk About Sex, Baby – Marshall Segal, Desiring GodThe Ugly Truth About Sex Reassignment the Transgender Lobby Doesn’t Want You to Know – Bruce Ashford, The Daily SignalWhy America’s STD Crisis Is a Pro-Life Issue – Joe Carter, The Gospel CoalitionTransgender hormone blockers are ‘institutionalized child abuse’: pediatrician – Fr. Mark Hodges, LifeSiteNewsStudies Show Birth Control and Contraception Don’t Reduce Unintended Pregnancies – Michael New, LifeNewsA Pastoral Approach to the Transgender Debate – Todd Miles, The Gospel CoalitionAre We Equipping Young People to Combat Sexual Harassment and Assault? – Alysse ElHage, Family StudiesPornographyWhy You Can’t Consistently Fight Sexual Abuse Without Also Fighting Porn – Fight the New DrugPornography Use and Relationship Quality: An Interview with Samuel Perry (Part 1) and Part 2 – Alysse ElHage, Family Studies
November is National Adoption Month. To recognize this important issue, we will be publishing personal adoption testimonies over the next four weeks.Did you know that there are thousands of children and youth in foster care who are waiting for permanent, loving families? For most of us, we can’t imagine what life would be like if we hadn’t grown up with the love, protection, and guidance of our families. God created us to be in a family. So how can we, as a church and as caring communities, help children that are waiting for families? We can open our hearts and minds to what the Lord wants us to do. Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving our neighbors as ourselves includes helping orphans. Consider fostering children to show them God’s love. You can also consider being a family that provides respite care for foster families. In addition, you can provide clothing and toys to foster families or meals during their times of transition. Finally, providing words of encouragement and praying for foster families is extremely helpful.To help you picture what fostering a child is like, I would like to share my family’s personal experience. My husband Mike and I have been licensed for foster care since the summer of 2013. We are currently waiting to receive a call to foster a girl between the ages of five and seven. However, this will not be our first foster child. Our first foster care experience began four years ago.“There is an eight-month-old girl who needs a placement today. Are you interested?” Not much more information was given to me on July 12, 2013. My heart and mind were racing. I was excited to talk to my husband, Mike, but I wasn’t able to get ahold of him at work. (We had been licensed to foster a child between newborn and five years of age.) The social worker needed an answer as soon as possible. So I called her back, telling her I knew that Mike would say “yes.” Shortly afterwards, I got ahold of Mike and we met each other at the agency’s transition home where the social worker and baby girl were waiting for us. When I saw little Nazarene sleeping so peacefully, it was hard for me to imagine her circumstances being so bad that she had to be removed from her mother’s custody during the night. She was sleeping so soundly that I questioned waking her, but I wanted to comfort her. So I picked her up and held her tight. She was beautiful and innocent. This was the beginning of our family’s relationship with Nazarene and a long road of unknowns. Foster parenting requires flexibility and patience. If we didn’t believe that our Heavenly Father is sovereign and in control, it would have been much more difficult. 1 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” We had to trust God’s plan as we took Nazarene to visit her mom on a weekly basis for two years, and wonder if she would go back to her mom who was dealing with severe mental and family problems, or if we would eventually be able to adopt her.Finally, in January 2016 our family adopted little Nazarene. We gave her a new middle name, “Faith.” The love that Mike, Joy (age 12), Lydia (age 10), our extended family, and I have for Nazarene is indescribable. We love her profoundly and pray that she will one day know how much her Heavenly Father loves her—sending his Son to die for her.In addition, thankfully, we have a good relationship with Nazarene’s birth mom—e-mailing her pictures of our little girl and meeting her twice a year. Our prayer is that she, too, will realize how much God loves her. If you feel God opening your heart and your home to a foster child, please contact a local agency that can answer your questions and provide you with additional information. Here are some links to help get you started:Bethany.orgSamaritas.orgChristianAdopt.orgAllGodsChildren.org “[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8a)Kathy Athearn is Correspondence Writer at Family Research Council.
In today’s bitter and vitriolic political climate, there are few labels more intellectually lazy than “hate group.” When you label an entity as a “hate group,” you automatically demonize it. In so doing, you immediately remove from your shoulders any mantle of responsibility to dialogue or engage in civil discourse with this denounced entity. “They” are haters and must be sacrificed at the altar of tolerance without any further question.This cowardly melodrama is currently playing out at our nation’s oldest Catholic university, where a student group has come under attack for taking the allegedly “hateful” position that Christianity got it right when it said sexual relations were meant for marriage, and that marriage was meant to be between a man and woman.Students at Georgetown University founded Love Saxa, an affiliate of the Love & Fidelity Network, because they saw a gaping void on campus. In the face of the ubiquitous hookup culture, widespread pornography usage, increasing sexual assaults, and attacks on the institution of marriage, Love Saxa sought to be a voice that would argue for the cultivation of healthy relationships, the repossession of sexual integrity, and the defense of traditional marriage.Love Saxa’s position is not a popular one, particularly on a D.C. campus of politically active millennials. But one would hope that its place at a Catholic university, even one so liberal as Georgetown, would provide some level of security.Alas, however, when the utter complacency of the Georgetown University administration is combined with the insatiable appetite of social justice warriors, no strand of orthodox Christianity can be left unthreatened.On Monday, members of Georgetown’s Pride group filed a petition to sanction Love Saxa and strip it of its university funding and ability to operate on campus. Several days earlier, the editorial board of Georgetown’s student paper The Hoya—whose staff clearly hold up CNN and The New York Times as paragons of journalistic integrity—penned an op-ed accusing Love Saxa of fostering hostility and intolerance because of their commitment to the Christian view of procreative marriage.The authors of the article at least recognize that Love Saxa’s mission statement is in line with the Catholic Church’s view of marriage and sexuality; however, their faculties of logic fail them when they go on to claim that despite upholding the same faith as their university, Love Saxa is violating the university’s code of conduct by arguing against same-sex marriage.But then, logic and rationality needn’t play a large role when one can simply bandy about “hate group” terminology. The Left’s modus operandi appears to be to toss out words like “intolerant” and “dehumanizing” alongside a few accusations of “hostility” and “bigotry” and hope that in the subsequent maelstrom of indignant outcries, no one notices the utter lack of coherency in their position.Unfortunately, their ploy has proven successful far too frequently. Even now, in the face of this sham of a petition, Georgetown’s official statement is predictably weak, and they even appear to be giving a semblance of credence to the calls to silence Love Saxa:“As a Catholic and Jesuit institution, Georgetown listens deeply and discerningly to the plurality of voices that exist among our students, faculty, and staff and is committed to the care of each member of our community,” Rachel Pugh, a university spokesperson, said.Pugh provides no further clarification of how the school will deal with a “plurality of voices” when only one voice is defending the faith it purports to believe. G.K. Chesterton wrote that “tolerance is the virtue of the man without conviction,” and, speaking as a Georgetown alumnae and a founding board member of Love Saxa, it is unfortunate—though I confess not entirely unexpected—that Georgetown is once again revealing the tepidity of its own commitment to Catholicism, and choosing the “tolerant” path over that of conviction.Perhaps they think doing so will quiet the liberal voices calling for the disbanding of Love Saxa, but that is a position so naive as to be indefensible. The Left has proven that it does not stop in its quest to silence its opposition, no matter how “discerningly” that opposition hears its complaints. No compromise is sufficient for them. Once given an inch, these forces of illiberal liberalism demand a mile. Chad Gasman, a sophomore at Georgetown and the president of GU Pride, told The Hoya that this petition, which he helped to file, will “force Georgetown University to actually be queer-friendly and queer-affirming.” Such a statement reveals that nothing short of an open endorsement of all same-sex relationships, including marriage, will be enough, no matter how much it defies the faith of the institution they have chosen to attend.If Love Saxa is banned from defending the Christian vision of sexuality and marriage, how will the Jesuits of Georgetown be able to refrain from referring to their own Church as a “hate group”? How long before they will be called on to condemn the doctrinal tenets of Catholicism?Kelly Marcum is the Government Affairs office coordinator at Family Research Council. A founding member of Love Saxa, she graduated from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service in 2015.
Several days ago, Vice President Pence announced that the Trump administration would address the needs of the Middle East’s Christian community directly, bypassing UN aid programs which have been largely ineffective in helping Christians affected by ISIS. Speaking before a gathering of the group In Defense of Christians, Pence stated:Here’s the sad reality: The United Nations claims that more than 160 projects are in Christian areas, but for a third of those projects, there are no Christians to help. The believers in Nineveh, Iraq, have had less than 2 percent of their housing needs addressed, and the majority of Christians and Yazidis remain in shelters.Projects that are supposedly marked “finished” have little more than a U.N. flag hung outside an unusable building, in many cases a school.And while faith-based groups with proven track records and deep roots in these communities are more than willing to assist, the United Nations too often denies their funding requests. My friends, those days are over.Our fellow Christians and all who are persecuted in the Middle East should not have to rely on multinational institutions when America can help them directly. And tonight, it is my privilege to announce that President Trump has ordered the State Department to stop funding ineffective relief efforts at the United Nations. And from this day forward, America will provide support directly to persecuted communities through USAID.We will no longer rely on the United Nations alone to assist persecuted Christians and minorities in the wake of genocide and the atrocities of terrorist groups. The United States will work hand-in-hand from this day forward with faith-based groups and private organizations to help those who are persecuted for their faith.This is good news indeed. While much of the focus in the Middle East has been on defeating ISIS, communities left devastated in its wake will need to rebuild and try to get on with their lives. For the Middle East’s Christian community, politically less powerful than other communities and often without a voice or advocate in the region’s larger decision-making, this is especially important. For too long, they haven’t received proper assistance in returning to their ancestral lands (the same lands the first Christians walked nearly 2,000 years ago), even while Iran and other power players try to come in and ply their influence in the vacuum created by ISIS’s defeat.
Ezra Klein is on to something.Klein, the editor of the news and opinion website Vox, which leans decidedly progressive-Left, recently wrote a piece detailing his growing realization about the shocking prevalence of sexual harassment and assault that women (and men) suffer in our culture, which is just now beginning to fully come to light in the public square after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke earlier this month.What’s startling about Klein’s piece is the candor he displays. For a progressive, this level of honesty on a social issue is nothing short of a thunderbolt:There is a pervasiveness to sexual assault in America that defies the word “problem.” When a system creates an outcome this consistently, this predictably, in this many different spaces, you have to at least consider the possibility that the outcome is intended, that the system is working as designed.Perhaps we need to do more than try to root out the worst abusers. Perhaps we need to rethink our sexual culture too.“Perhaps we need to rethink our sexual culture too.” This is exactly what social conservatives have been shouting from the rooftops for decades. But in the public square, they have been consistently shot down as, at best, hopelessly old-fashioned and out of touch with modern sensibilities, and at worst, trying to control women’s bodies.How did we get here? Let’s quickly review some indisputable facts of our country’s history. With every passing year since the early 1960’s, our culture has seen a steady progression of permissiveness of sex outside of marriage. What was once considered a societal taboo slowly but surely became more and more accepted. As television, movies, and popular culture crossed one line after another, much of society followed along, creating what is now known as the Sexual Revolution.What has this revolution wrought in our society? Many things, of course, but with regard to our personal lives, it chiefly brought us widespread acceptance of contraception as a way to have consequence-free sex with whomever we wish, and when that fails, to abort the baby that is conceived. Contraception and abortion are thus upheld as paragons of freedom and autonomy by those who think that the Sexual Revolution finally freed women from the slavery and repression of pregnancy and childbirth. In effect, women are now as “free” as men to sleep around as much as they want without consequences.But are women now happier as a result? Klein answers this for us:Last week, the hashtag #MeToo took over social media. Virtually every woman I follow, on every social platform, no matter the industry or walk of life they came from, shared stories of harassment, abuse, and worse. I read searing tales from reporters and techies, chefs and yogis, civil servants and mountain climbers.This is the cold reality that progressives must face. What if the revolution that created the perceived “freedom” of consequence-free sex for women unwittingly turned those very same women into objects of sexual pleasure for men? If there is no consequence to sex, what’s the big deal about it, anyway? Logically speaking, what is the difference between shaking hands with someone and having sex with them? If sex is merely a social transaction, why are women so instinctually protective of giving themselves away? Most men don’t seem to have that same instinct, so shouldn’t women be the same? Isn’t this about equality between the sexes anyway? If women now see sex as transactional through their celebration of contraception and abortion, why can’t they give it to men as a favor if men who are in positions of power want it in return for a promotion at work?This is the kind of sexual psychology that has taken root in our culture as a result of following the Sexual Revolution’s line of reasoning to its logical end. As Klein so aptly put it: “When a system creates an outcome this consistently, this predictably, in this many different spaces, you have to at least consider the possibility that the outcome is intended, that the system is working as designed.”Unfortunately, progressives like Klein still fail to see the connection between unattached sex and a sexually entitled culture. For them, it seems as though something in our culture has suddenly gone terribly awry, as if they have been blindsided by the pervasive reality of sexual sin. For believers, however, there is nothing new to see here: “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). In other words, sexual sin has been occurring since the beginning of time, and it will continue unless people turn from their wicked ways and instead seek God’s ways and His salvation.The problem for progressives is that they can never appeal to a higher law in order to promote virtuous behavior; they must instead resort to begging and cajoling the culture into behaving in accord with vague, politically correct rules that society has deemed acceptable, and if that doesn’t work, to legislate virtue. “There are efforts to change this culture through both law and regulation,” Klein says. He then rehashes his support for the enactment of a “yes means yes” law that would codify the establishment of verbal consent before any perceived sexual contact takes place between two individuals.Instead of getting to the root causes of societal problems, which is our only hope of solving anything, Klein predictably defaults to the progressive line of thinking, which is to avoid root causes for fear of offending someone and instead offer bromides about laws and regulations that must be enacted. So let’s avoid that trap. What is at the root of why sexual harassment and assault occur?It is because some men do not respect the dignity of women, and instead see them as an object of sexual desire that they have a right to use in order to satisfy their own desires. But what if more boys were taught from an early age that the context for the full expression of human sexuality is within the bonds of marriage between one man and one woman, as Christianity and other religions do? If this teaching were to be taught consistently throughout childhood and young adulthood, it would substantially increase the amount of gentlemen in our culture. Gentlemen treat women with respect, the kind of respect that inherently knows how to avoid looking at women with lust (see Matthew 5:27-28), the kind of respect that would never even consider making unseemly sexual comments in their company, much less harassing or assaulting them. This kind of respect can only develop when sexually exploitive media is avoided like the plague, and self-discipline is honed through the example of the saints in Scripture and throughout history.When boys and young men are instead mostly left to their own devices, they naturally give in to their broken human nature and rebel against our Creator’s plan for human sexuality (see the third chapter of Genesis). The results of this negligence have become an absolute nightmare—a culture filled with boys in men’s bodies and wounded women with tragically low standards, a culture that continues to writhe in the putrid, pervasive muck of vile pornography that clogs the internet, sexually exploitive mainstream TV shows that fill the screens of living rooms every night, and the depressing normalcy of cohabitation, hook-ups, adultery, contraception, STDs, abortion, and yes, sexual harassment and assault.Progressives like Klein seem to finally be realizing the extent of this nightmare. Do they, and do we, have the courage to embrace our Creator’s plan and fight for sexual purity in our own lives and those of our children, thereby serving as a witness to truth and spreading this truth to a broken culture in desperate need of healing?
When Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he was sending an experienced DOJ attorney to prosecute the murder of a transgendered individual in Iowa, while at the same time announcing that the DOJ would properly interpret Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination as not including “gender identity” or any other category, progressive activists and some media outlets were confused.Slate called this “a move that surprised some familiar with his record on LGBTQ rights,” and The New York Times observed, “[i]n taking th[is] step, Mr. Sessions, a staunch conservative, is sending a signal that he has made a priority of fighting violence against transgender people individually, even as he has rolled back legal protections for them collectively.”Yet the real story here is how media and activists are puzzled by the supposed “contradiction” in these steps—a contradiction which only exists if one is looking at law as an activist does—as a means to an end. All AG Sessions is doing in both of these situations is simply enforcing the laws on the books.The reason for the confusion in some quarters is that the modern progressive activist, who looks at law as nothing more than a tool to accomplish policy preferences, cannot conceive of the idea of an attorney general and DOJ that would actually fairly and faithfully apply the laws that currently exist—even if such application cuts across the usual social and political dividing lines. They can’t conceive of those in power actually looking at their job objectively and simply enforcing the law, regardless of whether they agree with it as a policy matter. Yet a constitutional conservative, who understands the Constitution as the Framers did, looks at this as the only right approach.The fact that these two decisions by AG Sessions cut across social and political lines thus causes confusion in the activist’s mind.Regardless of one’s policy position on transgenderism, federal criminal law does currently consider murders of individuals which the perpetrator allegedly targets because of their perceived or actual gender identity to be a separate criminal offense. Regardless of Jeff Sessions’ personal views on gender identity, he is bound to enforce that law. That’s what he is doing in this case.Meanwhile, regardless of one’s policy position on transgenderism, federal employment law does currently consider sex discrimination to be prohibited—and only sex discrimination. Unlike the federal criminal law, Title VII does not list “gender identity” as a separate class. Thus AG Sessions will enforce the law as written—prohibiting sex discrimination—and nothing more.This is in stark contrast to the previous administration’s approach, which cherry-picked which laws to enforce and which laws to ignore based on their political ideology. Under AG Holder, the Obama administration unilaterally decided to include gender identity in sex discrimination protections. Now, all AG Sessions is doing is returning us to the status quo.This is only remarkable if one views everything—including the law—through an ideological lens out of which one must achieve uniform policy results. The rule of law itself has no value, and makes no sense, to such a person.But AG Sessions’ actions make perfect sense if law is to be followed, not twisted to serve a purpose. Until and if Congress changes the law, the DOJ will enforce what is currently written. This is a welcome change for all who want to live under the rule of law.
Is it really possible that the Air Force no longer has room for people of faith? Based on the matter of Colonel Bohannon, that may sadly be the case.Leland Bohannon is a decorated colonel who has devoted decades of his life to serving our Air Force, including flying missions in the B-2 stealth bomber. He’s been ranked first on his performance reports, has been bestowed numerous honors, and trusted with oversight of nuclear weapons. In other words, he’s the model Air Force officer.Yet Colonel Bohannon’s career may be flushed down the drain by the Air Force simply because of a subordinate who wanted approval of a same-sex marriage. When he was handed several awards and certificates to sign for the subordinate’s retirement ceremony, Colonel Bohannon signed all of them except a “certificate of spouse appreciation”—which he couldn’t in good conscience sign because the certificate was for a spouse of the same sex. He sought advice about what to do from his chaplain and attorney; the chaplain told him to ask for a religious accommodation. He submitted one but it was returned six weeks later “without action.” In the meantime, a major general offered to sign the certificate instead, and it was signed and presented to the subordinate. Yet when the subordinate saw that Colonel Bohannon was not the signatory, he filed an Equal Opportunity complaint against him, alleging discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.The EO investigator found that Col Bohannon violated Air Force regulations and “unlawfully discriminated against the MSgt based on sexual orientation.” The EO investigator recognized that a religious accommodation had been sought, but claimed that “even had the accommodation been granted, Col Bohannon would nonetheless be guilty of unlawful discrimination.”As a result, his superior “suspended Col Bohannon from command, withheld his decoration, and submitted a letter to the Air Force Brigadier General promotion board—the rank for which Col Bohannon is eligible—recommending that Col Bohannon not be promoted.”Not only is this entire side-show an absurd waste of time, it is clearly unlawful and unconstitutional. The EO investigator is apparently ignorant of the law in this area; if a religious accommodation is granted, that means by definition that he’s not “guilty of unlawful discrimination”—because he’s been granted an accommodation. Moreover, religious freedom law and military policy demand that he be granted an accommodation in an instance like this—where the objective is easily fulfilled with another signature on the certificate.At best, this entire matter is a distraction for Colonel Bohannon. At worst, it could end his career. That’s the track this train is currently proceeding on.Thankfully, our friends at First Liberty are on the case, and those in the media like Todd Starnes are calling attention to this. Let us hope the Air Force fixes the issue before the entire situation is derailed and the military environment only grows more toxic for people of faith.
Dear Friends,In the face of chaotic and often disturbing events that dominate headlines and news feeds these days, I am often tempted (and sometimes succumb) to feelings of frustration and anger. I sometimes imagine that if only I were in charge, things would be so much better. If only I could have more control and worldly power, I could wield it in order to make everyone’s lives better, and I would feel better too.When we examine the lives of those who do have influence, however—the rich, famous, and powerful—the results are often not pretty. In our increasingly godless society, money, fame, and power are often sought as ends in themselves because they are so alluring. As believers, it’s easy to delude ourselves into thinking, “Well, it’s true that money, fame, and power have a tendency to cause corruption in people, but that would never happen to me because I know that God is most important. I would use these things to better the world.” It’s easy to use this kind of reasoning to justify wasting money on lottery tickets, wasting time on Facebook curating our profiles just so, and wasting our talents on frivolous pursuits in order to gain societal status.The reality for most of us is that we will never be in positions of great influence, and we will never be rich, famous, and powerful. And that’s perfectly okay. Why? Because one of life’s great paradoxes is that the less control we possess over our lives, the freer we are. When we let go of the vice grip we have around our life goals and life plans, God gives us a multitude of opportunities for us to do His will, not ours. Living in this way is truly freeing, because it gives us the roomy flexibility to respond to a friend or stranger in need who inconveniently disrupts our lives. Having less money, fame, and power also frees us from being distracted from what truly matters: nurturing love within our families and those closest to us.As Mother Teresa once said: “If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family.”Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research CouncilP.S. Don’t miss out on all of the amazing talks that happened at the Values Voter Summit this past weekend! FRC ArticlesPlanned Parenthood Is Targeting Baby Girls in the Womb – Cathy RuseThe New Religious Exemptions from the HHS Contraceptive Mandate Are a Victory for Personal Freedom (and Responsibility) Over State Coercion – Peter Sprigg20 Principles of Religious Liberty – Peter SpriggMedia Gets Brazil Ruling on Sexual Orientation Therapy All Wrong – Peter SpriggThe Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration: What It Got Right and What It Got Wrong – Travis Weber and Natalie PughThe Judicial Assault on Public School Privacy Policies Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareWhite House Rebuts Attacks by Democrats, New York Times on Catholic Court Nominee – Fred Lucas, The StreamTrump administration ends rule requiring nuns to fund contraception – Claire Chretien, LifeSiteNewsFederal court strikes down tax benefit for faith leaders – Alex Swoyer, The Washington TimesCalifornia Can Now Jail People for Misusing Gender Pronouns – Anders Hagstrom, The Daily SignalEnvironmentalist Lobby Goes After Another Trump Nominee For Being A Christian – E. Calvin Beisner, The FederalistNFL Athletes Can Take a Knee, But Universities are Denying Pro-Life Students Free Speech – Kristan Hawkins, LifeNewsApple removes pro-life prayer app – Samantha Gobba, WORLD"Free to Believe"Southwest Flight Attendant Says She Was Fired For Being Pro-Life – Grace Carr, The StreamReporter Tries to Get Tucson Police Officer in Trouble — for Exercising His First Amendment Right – Rachel Alexander, The StreamInternational Religious FreedomBeijing’s heavy hand – June Cheng & Erica Kwong, WORLDCameroon’s Bishops Warn of Genocide – Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register LifeAbortionHouse Passes Pro-Life Bill Banning Late-Term Abortions After 20 Weeks – Steven Ertelt, LifeNewsAre We Too Comfortable with Abortion? – Lori Hadacek Chaplin, National Catholic RegisterIn the Middle of the Abortion Killing Her Baby She Changed Her Mind. Miraculously Her Son Survived – Micaiah Bilger, LifeNewsWhat Big Abortion Doesn't Understand about Pro-Lifers – Matthew Archbold, National Catholic RegisterAdoptionForcing Faith-Based Organizations Out of Foster Care and Adoption Hurts Children – Elizabeth Kirk, Public DiscourseJanesville family receives national honors for efforts in adoption – Ashley McCallum, GazetteXtraBioethicsAssisted Suicide is No Peaceful Death. Some Patients Regurgitate, Have Seizures, or Wake Up Days Later – Michael Cook, LifeNewsAn Absurd Fate: What Happens to Abandoned Embryos? – Jennifer Lahl, Public DiscourseThe Resurgence and Rebranding of Population Control – Rebecca Oas, C-FamObamacareUniversal Coverage? My Fourth Health Care Plan Just Died Thanks to Obamacare – Michelle Malkin, The Daily Signal FamilyEconomics/EducationThanks To Testing Backlash, Virginia Drops U.S. History Tests Despite Horrific Public Ignorance – Joy Pullmann, The FederalistBetraying Liberal Education: A Response to President Paxson of Brown University – R.J. Snell, Public DiscourseThese Two Colorado Counties Are Ground Zero For School Choice Across The Country – Helen Raleigh, The FederalistThe Washington Post Gets Retirement Wrong – Andrew G. Biggs, National ReviewMarriageFacebook and Your Marriage – Tricia Goyer, Focus on the Family3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Make Your Marriage Happier – Jill Sieracki, BridesFaith/Character/CultureHow To Talk To Your Kids About Death, Shootings, Natural Disasters, And Other Scary Things – Libby Emmons, The FederalistThe Man and His Song: Tom Petty (1950–2017) – David Mathis, Desiring GodThe power of good – Ben Shapiro, Conservative ReviewDoes Modern Secularism Have a Memory Problem? – Fredric Heidemann, Word On FireAfter a Long Summer of Heartrending Tragedies, We Could All Use This – Megan Madden, VerilyOur Toxic Smartphone Addiction – Heather Wilhelm, National ReviewIs It Wrong to Try to Persuade Others to Change Their Beliefs? – Rebecca McLaughlin, The Gospel CoalitionHuman SexualityA no-tolerance policy for sexual harassment – Josh Wester, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission University Refuses Research On Growing Numbers Of Trans People Who Want To Go Back – Walt Heyer, The FederalistResponding to the Transgender Revolution – Rob Smith, The Gospel CoalitionSex change regret silenced – Kiley Crossland, WORLDThe Price of the Campus Hookup Culture is High – Carolyn Moynihan, Intellectual TakeoutUConn Cancels Comedian Over Remarks on Transgender Children – Rachel Alexander, The StreamWhat Two Former Trans Men Want You To Know About All The Lies – Taylor Fogarty, The FederalistThe Transgender Matrix: It’s Time to Choose the Red Pill – Walt Heyer, Public DiscourseIt’s Past Time to Rethink Modern Sexual Morality – David French, National ReviewHuman TraffickingImpact on Capitol Hill, Standing for Online Sex Trafficking Victims – National Center on Sexual ExploitationThe fight against sex trafficking in the U.S. – Helen Taylor and Laila Mickelwait, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionPornographyPorn Is Not Harmless. It’s Cruel. – Justin Holcomb, The Gospel CoalitionHe was exposed to pornography at age 11, on his school laptop – National Center on Sexual ExploitationThe Porn Gap: Gender Differences in Pornography Use in Couple Relationships – Jason S. Carroll and Brian J. Willoughby, Family StudiesPornography and Sex Trafficking Are Linked: Take It From the FBI – Dawn Hawkins, National Center on Sexual ExploitationEveryone At My All-Boy High School Openly Watches & Talks About Porn – Fight the New Drug
Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times has written a column critical of the Trump administration’s recent announcement of broad religious and moral exemptions to the HHS mandate under Obamacare that required employers to provide free contraception as part of any health insurance plan.Greenhouse begins her column this way: “Saudi women are gaining the right to drive. American women are losing the right to employer-provided birth control.”At least she was honest enough to not use the hyperbole of saying, “American women are losing birth control.” The government remains powerless to prevent women (or men) from purchasing and/or using birth control if they choose to. The vast majority are not even losing “employer-provided birth control,” since the percentage of employers likely to claim either a religious or moral objection is always likely to be tiny. No, they are only losing “the right to employer-provided birth control”—meaning the government will no longer coerce said employers into providing birth control.However, this admirable precision in language means that her analogy with Saudi women simply does not work. American women are not losing “the right to use birth control,” which might be analogous to “the right to drive.” For the analogy to work, she would have to say, “Saudi women are gaining the right to employer-provided automobiles.”But this, of course, is ridiculous. No one—in Saudi Arabia, or in the United States—has ever had “the right to employer-provided automobiles.” This, despite the fact that (I would argue) access to transportation is far more fundamental to having a free and prosperous life in the modern world than is access to birth control. We simply expect people who want to own automobiles to purchase them themselves. Of course, some people are too poor to buy a car, and must often rely on public transportation—but even that is not provided for free, but requires payment of a fare. What is so exceptional about birth control that private employers should be forced by the government to provide it at absolutely no cost to the user?Greenhouse says, “I used to think . . . that the resistance to the contraception mandate was fueled by cultural conservatives’ determination not to let federal policy normalize birth control.” If this were the case, the new administration’s policy would still fall short. Since pregnancy is not a disease, contraception, when used merely as a method of family planning, is by definition an elective item or service, rather than a medically necessary one that should be subject to any coverage mandate. Yet the Trump administration has actually left the HHS mandate intact—while simply allowing a much more expansive exemption for the small number of employers with religious or moral objections.Now, however, Greenhouse goes further in reading the minds of conservatives, declaring, “The problem they have is with what birth control signifies: empowering women — in school, on the job, in the home — to determine their life course.” This paranoid Handmaid’s Tale view of the world is simply bizarre. I guess Greenhouse is oblivious to the many conservative women— empowered and powerful, every one of them—who have led the fight against the HHS mandate from its beginning.The headline on Greenhouse’s piece online reads, “On Contraception, It’s Church Over State.” Yet no church dogma has been imposed on anyone. It remains perfectly acceptable (in the eyes of the federal government) for women and men to purchase and use birth control. But now, it is also acceptable (as it always should have been, under the First Amendment) for some religious people to object to materially participating in the process. In reality, the new rules mean, “It’s Personal Freedom (and Responsibility) over State Coercion.”I suspect what Greenhouse is really upset about is the Trump administration setting back the Left’s attempts to “establish” their own religion—the Church of the Sexual Revolution—whose most fundamental doctrine is the unlimited right not only to sex, but to sex without consequences, with the federal government as the guarantor of that “right.”
On May 4, President Trump signed an Executive Order declaring, “It shall be the policy of the executive branch to vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom.” This order, barely more than a page long, gave few details about what such protections would entail.However, in it, President Trump also instructed, “In order to guide all agencies in complying with relevant Federal law, the Attorney General shall, as appropriate, issue guidance interpreting religious liberty protections in Federal law.”That promised guidance was released on Friday, October 6 by the Department of Justice, in the form of a 25-page memorandum for executive departments and agencies on the topic of “Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty.”In that memo, Attorney General Jeff Sessions lays out twenty “Principles of Religious Liberty.”Family Research Council praised the memorandum in a press release here.However, since most people will not read the 8-page memo or the 17-page appendix laying out its legal rationale, FRC here offers the text just of the introduction and the twenty principles.Principles of Religious LibertyReligious liberty is a foundational principle of enduring importance in America, enshrined in our Constitution and other sources of federal law. As James Madison explained in his Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, the free exercise of religion “is in its nature an unalienable right” because the duty owed to one’s Creator “is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.” Religious liberty is not merely a right to personal religious beliefs or even to worship in a sacred place. It also encompasses religious observance and practice. Except in the narrowest circumstances, no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with the law. Therefore, to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, religious observance and practice should be reasonably accommodated in all government activity, including employment, contracting, and programming. The following twenty principles should guide administrative agencies and executive departments in carrying out this task. These principles should be understood and interpreted in light of the legal analysis set forth in the appendix to this memorandum.The freedom of religion is a fundamental right of paramount importance, expressly protected by federal law.The free exercise of religion include the right to act or abstain from action in accordance with one’s religious beliefs.The freedom of religion extends to persons and organizations.Americans do not give up their freedom of religion by participating in the marketplace, partaking of the public square, or interacting with government.Government may not restrict acts or abstentions because of the beliefs they display.Government may not target religious individuals or entities for special disabilities based on their religion.Government may not target religious individuals or entities through discriminatory enforcement of neutral, generally applicable laws.Government may not officially favor or disfavor particular religious groups.Government may not interfere with the autonomy of a religious organization.The Religious Freedom Restoration Act [RFRA] of 1993 prohibits the federal government from substantially burdening any aspect of religious observance or practice, unless imposition of that burden on a particular adherent satisfies strict scrutiny.RFRA’s protection extends not just to individuals, but also to organizations, associations, and at least some for-profit corporations.RFRA does not permit the federal government to second-guess the reasonableness of a religious belief.A governmental action substantially burdens an exercise of religion under RFRA if it bans an aspect of an adherent’s religious observance or practice, compels an act inconsistent with that observance or practice, or substantially pressures the adherent to modify such observance or practice.The strict scrutiny standard applicable to RFRA is exceptionally demanding.RFRA applies even where a religious adherent seeks an exemption from a legal obligation requiring the adherent to confer benefits on third parties.Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, prohibits covered employers from discriminating against individuals on the basis of their religion.Title VII’s protection extends to discrimination on the basis of religious observance or practice as well as belief, unless the employer cannot reasonably accommodate such observance or practice without undue hardship on the business.The Clinton Guidelines on Religious Free Exercise and Religious Expression in the Federal Workplace provide useful examples for private employers of reasonable accommodations for religious observance and practice in the workplace.Religious employers are entitled to employ only persons whose beliefs and conduct are consistent with the employers’ religious precepts.As a general matter, the federal government may not condition receipt of a federal grant or contract on the effective relinquishment of a religious organization’s hiring exemptions or attributes of its religious character.
The LGBT activist movement has long been notorious for using a variety of untruths and/or distortions to advance their social and political agenda.In few areas has this been so blatant and shocking as in the current all-out war against the freedom of clients and therapists to pursue sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE).For example, we are repeatedly told (falsely) that scientific evidence has proven that all SOCE is harmful. Yet even the Left-leaning American Psychological Association—although critical of SOCE—was forced to admit:Early and recent research studies provide no clear evidence of the prevalence of harmful outcomes among people who have undergone efforts to change their sexual orientation. . . Thus, we cannot conclude how likely it is that harm will occur from SOCE [emphasis added].The mainstream media’s complicity (or ignorance) in all this is highlighted by the continuing use of the term “conversion therapy” in reference to a practice whose actual practitioners refer to it as “sexual reorientation therapy,” “sexual orientation change efforts,” or “SOCE;” or the more recent “sexual attraction fluidity exploration in therapy” or “SAFE-T;” or “reparative therapy”—but not “conversion therapy.”Another claim made by critics of SOCE is that it is premised on the belief that homosexuality is a mental disorder—a belief they claim was discredited by the American Psychological Association’s vote in 1973 to remove homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). However, the 1973 decision was not based on any clear-cut body of scientific evidence proving that homosexuality is normal, natural, and harmless. Instead, as a result of aggressive political activism, the APA simply changed the definition of a “mental disorder” in such a way as to exclude homosexuality, by making it contingent on the presence of “subjective distress.”While it is probably true that most therapists who assist with sexual orientation change efforts do not consider homosexuality to be a normal and natural variant of human sexuality, it is not necessary to classify it as a “mental disorder” to justify their work. Many people who experience same-sex attractions do experience “subjective distress” about those feelings, and that alone is sufficient to justify allowing therapists to assist in overcoming those attractions, if that is the goal the client chooses.All this background is necessary to understand why I was skeptical about an Associated Press article published recently under the headline, “Brazil ruling that homosexuality is disease to be appealed.” According to the article, Brazil’s “Judge Waldemar Claudio de Carvalho ruled last week that homosexuality could be considered a disease that could be treated with sexual orientation conversion therapies.” The article suggested that the ruling had the effect of overturning a 1999 resolution by Brazil’s “Federal Council of Psychology” (abbreviated “CFP” in Portuguese) aimed at “prohibiting psychologists from treating homosexuality as a disease.”An article from the British newspaper The Guardian offered more detail, noting that the case was “brought by Rozangela Justino, an evangelical Christian and psychologist whose licence was revoked in 2016 after she offered ‘conversion therapy.’” However, I was still doubtful that we were getting the whole story on this so-called “ruling that homosexuality is disease,” so I reached out to Julio Severo, a Brazilian pro-family activist and Christian blogger, for more information.After researching the issue, Severo confirmed my suspicions with an article on his English-language website. Severo offers an English translation of the CFP’s “Resolution 001/1990” which includes the following:[H]omosexuality is not a disease, disturbance or perversion;Psychologists shall not use any action for making homoerotic behaviors or practices pathological, nor shall they use coercion to direct homosexuals to unsolicited treatments.Psychologists shall not offer their opinions, . . in regard to homosexuals as sufferers of psychic disorders.However, the private practice of sexual reorientation therapy with consenting clients who are distressed about unwanted same-sex attractions does not, in and of itself, violate any of these restrictions. In addition, a Google translation of a Portuguese language news article says explicitly, “The preliminary decision of federal judge Waldemar Cláudio de Carvalho maintains the full text of Resolution 01/99.”However, Severo does say that the resolution also included a paragraph saying:Psychologists shall not collaborate with events and services proposing treatment and cures of homosexualities.This appears to be the only part of the CFP resolution that the judge actually modified, by ordering, as Severo translates it,that the Federal Council of Psychology [must] not interpret [its resolution] to hinder psychologists from promoting studies or giving professional care, in a private setting, regarding . . . sexual (re)orientation, thereby ensuring to them full scientific freedom about the subject, with no censorship or prior permission from the Federal Council of Psychology.The translated article quotes the judge as expanding on the importance of “scientific freedom,” saying that a total ban on such therapy wouldprohibit the deepening of the scientific studies related to (sexual) orientation, thus affecting the scientific freedom of the country . . . insofar as it prevents and makes unfeasible the investigation of the most important aspect of psychology [which] is human sexuality.The translated article also says the judge’s decision “underscores the reserved nature of the service and prohibits advertising and publicity” for sexual reorientation therapy.Nevertheless, a spokesman for the FCP condemned the decision, taking issue with the idea that the FCP policy interferes with research. According to The Guardian,“We have no power over research,” he said. “The way it was put by the judge gave the impression that we prohibited research which is not true.”Yet it is hard to understand how anyone could do “research” on sexual reorientation therapy if no one is permitted to engage in such therapy.In summary, a very modest ruling by a Brazilian judge in defense of freedom for clients, therapists, and researchers has been distorted by the media (especially the Associated Press) into a judicial ruling that homosexuality is “a disease.” The media urgently needs to abandon its caricature of sexual orientation change efforts—and the U.S. needs more judges with the wisdom and courage of Judge de Carvalho.
Earlier this month, religious leaders of various faiths met at the Beverley Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles to celebrate the newly signed Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration—a notable document because it is a proclamation supporting some degree of religious freedom sponsored and backed by a majority Muslim country.While the majority of Bahrain’s population is Shia Muslim, most of its government positions are held by Sunni Muslims. In addition, there are small numbers of Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, and Jews all living in the country. Against this multi-religious backdrop, the religious freedom declaration was backed and signed by the King of Bahrain.What did the declaration get right?This document makes a lot of statements worth celebrating. First of all, it declares that “religious faith and expression are inalienable rights” which provides the foundation for promoting religious freedom. In Part II, it rejects forced observance of a religion and claims that every person has the right to practice their religion as long as they do not harm any others in the process. Part III focuses more on the harm that has been done in the name of religion and condemns all terrorist activities such as “the sowing of terror, the encouragement of extremism and radicalization, suicide bombing, promotion of sexual slavery, and the abuse of women and children.” The religious rights and responsibilities established in Part IV state that individuals have a right to practice their religion and the government has a responsibility to protect citizens of all religions. Overall, these are all commendable statements that seem to show a genuine interest in protecting religious freedom.Where did it fall short?While the document expressly states that it does not condone compelled religion, it still does not allow Muslims the freedom to convert away from their religion, as it is illegal to proselytize Muslims in Bahrain. While Part II recognizes the freedom to choose one’s faith, this is conditioned on submitting to the laws of the land. What happens when the laws of the land prohibit conversion, such as in the case of Bahrain and many other nations with Islamic teaching reflected in their laws? These Muslims still don’t have religious freedom in spite of this declaration, and neither do non-Muslims have the freedom to share their faith with Muslims.Other portions of the declaration are meandering and vague. For instance, while the goal of Section III is admirable and the specific activities listed are reprehensible, this section’s condemnation of certain activities does not have a fixed and clear target. Instead, the list is prefixed with the statement: “Any act that is found morally repugnant by the vast majority of mankind and is insulting to our collective moral conscience cannot be part of God’s revealed will.” Yet religious expression should not be censored by the fickle morality of the majority.Another statement of concern is the admonition that the clergy teach that “extremism is not holier than moderation.” Extremism and radicalism have become synonymous with terrorism and therefore are evil words in modern rhetoric. But the words themselves need some context to have any meaning. In some ways, being “extreme” is good. For example, before he gathered many supporters, William Wilberforce was quite “extreme” in his campaign to abolish slavery. He might have been termed “extreme,” but it it was a noble cause motivated by his Christian faith. It didn’t matter that not many were on his side. Spiritually speaking, being extreme is a fundamental part of being a Christian. We are called to be on fire for Christ; being lukewarm or moderate is not enough (Revelations 3:15-16). What is extreme to one is moderate to another, and vice versa. “Extreme” may not always correspond to “evil,” and the declaration needs more context to make sense of this point.The Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration is only a statement of intent. Even though it was signed by the king, it is not a legally binding document. Yet it is a good start. Later this year, a team of lawyers will meet to work on turning the declaration into actual laws. Hopefully, the laws they write will fix some of the ambiguity and flaws in the original declaration. If that happens, we may see a platform which could serve as a source for some reform on religious freedom within the Islamic world. Until then, all we can do is hope and pray.Travis Weber is the Director of FRC's Center for Religious Liberty. Natalie Pugh is an intern at FRC.
Activist judges are continuing to rule against the rights of students, parents, and public school districts to determine their own bathroom and locker room privacy policies. In FRC’s latest Facebook Live event, Travis Weber, the director of FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty joins John Rustin, the President and Executive Director of the North Carolina Family Policy Council to discuss this important issue. Here is a summary of some of the key points made in this discussion:The 7th Circuit Court’s recent decision in Kenosha Unified School District v. Whitaker was a loss of autonomy and ability of school districts and parents to set the policies they want for their students, particularly that of boys and girls using private facilities separately.Since children are compelled by law to go to school, parents ought to have the right to help set policies with respect to privacy issues in bathrooms and locker rooms.The Kenosha case is the latest example of why the federal judiciary often gets a bad name. It is a clear example of a judge who is unaccountable to the people imposing their own policy preference in law. The judge in the Kenosha case cited Title IX’s prohibition of sex discrimination as the reason why a student who identifies as transgender should be allowed to use the bathroom and other private facilities of their choice. Until very recently, Title IX has never been viewed as a means of forcing school districts to accommodate these claims.In the Kenosha case, the school district was happy to accommodate the student who identified as transgender by offering them a separate private facility to use. As is often the case, however, this accommodation was viewed as unsatisfactory. Parties and individuals pushing the transgender bathroom agenda are often not trying to be reasonable—they instead demand that their proposed policies be made into law and be fully accepted by all.Reasonable accommodations can be made to protect the privacy of students who identify as transgender without infringing upon the privacy rights of all the other students. The Kenosha school system has over 22,000 students, and yet the 7th Circuit Court inexplicably decided to throw out the privacy interests of 21,999 students on behalf of one student.Cases like this are stark reminders of how important it is to have an administration that will appoint judges who faithfully read the text of the law and the Constitution and adhere to it without injecting their policy preferences.FRC and the North Carolina Family Policy Council along with 19 other family policy organizations signed on to an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the Kenosha case in order to bring some sanity back to the bathroom privacy issue by not only allowing parents and school districts to have a say in determining privacy policies, but also to reinforce that biological sex distinctions matter in public educational facilities.Even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recognized in 1975 that sex discrimination prohibitions in law did not mean that privacy must be compromised.When courts rule as the 7th Circuit did in the Kenosha case, they are violating the rule of law itself by circumventing Congress, which alone has the people’s voice and the authority to change laws.View the full video to find out more.
Dear Friends,Once upon a time in America, a person who held strong religious beliefs, adhered to religious doctrines, and acted accordingly in good faith to their fellow man was seen as a person of strength and good character, and was respected in the public sphere.It appears that this era is now past. In a confirmation hearing last month for 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Amy Barrett, Senator Dianne Feinstein infamously voiced her disapproval of Barrett based on her Catholic beliefs: “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you.” This incident followed another unfortunate one in June, when Senator Bernie Sanders castigated Office of Management and Budget nominee Russell Vought for his Christian faith by saying that Vought is “not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about.”In a very public way (that also happens to be a violation of the Constitution’s prohibition of using “religious tests”), Feinstein and Sanders are merely echoing what many Americans believe about religion—that in order to tolerate all religions, religious people must not let “dogma live loudly within” them.If we examine this way of thinking, however, it fails to make sense. Religion is something that is so central to the human understanding of existence that our Founding Fathers enshrined it in the First Amendment of our Constitution. They knew what all people know deep down to be true—that every person, in the face of such profound mysteries like suffering and death, must have the freedom to not only believe what they want, but to exercise that freedom. In other words, not only must one have the freedom to believe, one must also have the freedom to live out those dearly-held beliefs in everyday life, especially if they reach to the core of who that person is.Senators Dianne Feinstein and Bernie Sanders obviously have some very passionate political views that seem to reach to the core of who they are. If it is permissible to have such passionate views and beliefs in the realm of politics, how is it not equally permissible to have passionate religious views?Even this most basic view of fairness is not adequate in understanding the true nature of religious conviction, however. All believers know that without faith and its “dogmas,” which give us the Ten Commandments, the nature of societal life will have no basis for moral behavior, and will eventually degenerate into chaos. Instead of denigrating Barrett and Vought for their strong convictions, Feinstein and Sanders should be praising them for their principled character and hoping that more nominees like them will step forward to serve the public interest.May an increasing number of the American people and our elected political leaders better understand this truth, that religious conviction is not something to be tamped down as “intolerant,” but rather something to be celebrated as the anchor of moral goodness. 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 ArticlesSupreme Court must take on heartbreaking surrogacy case – Arina GrossuIt’s Not About the Color. It’s About the Cross – Patrina MosleyThe Sexual Revolution, Sexual Freedom, and Hugh Hefner – Jourdan StuartPence: Human Rights Council “Doesn’t Deserve its Name” – Travis Weber40 Days for Life: Offering Hope and Life One Vigil at a Time – Arina GrossuHow Can Public School Students Exercise Their Religious Liberty Rights?Why Are College Students Afraid of Free Speech? – Dan Hart Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareThe Southern Poverty Law Center put me on its hate list. It’s a smear and I don’t belong there – Hannah Scherlacher, Fox NewsSouthern Poverty Law Center attempts to undermine America – Rebecca Hagelin, The Washington TimesCalifornia Legislature Passes Bill To Punish Elder-Care Workers Who Don’t Use Trans Pronouns – Georgi Boorman, The FederalistA chilling study shows how hostile college students are toward free speech – Catherine Rampell, The Washington PostIn Response To Attacks, New Florida Law Aims To Protect Religious Expression In Public Schools – Ashley Bateman, The FederalistLive Action: Twitter’s ban on pro-life ads is discriminatory and wrong – Kristi Burton Brown, Live ActionJudge Rules in Favor of Atheist Group, Says Cross on Penn. County Seal Must Be Removed – Michael Gryboski, The Christian Post"Free to Believe"I’m a T-Shirt Maker With Gay Customers and Gay Employees. I Still Was Sued. – Blaine Adamson, The Daily SignalMinnesota officials attempt to control the message of Christian filmmakers – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionInternational Religious FreedomComing home – June Cheng, WORLDAustralia: Documenting the tide of bigotry and hatred – Margaret Colwell, MercatornetThe Senate must act now to save Christianity in Iraq – Carl Anderson, The HillGenocide in Burma: Why a Persecuted Muslim Minority Should Matter to Christians – John Stonestreet, The Christian Post'I Had No Fear of Death,' Says Indian Priest Held Captive by Terrorists as He Returns to India – Anugrah Kumar, The Christian Post LifeAbortionVideo: Pro-abortion politicians mislead women about Planned Parenthood – Live ActionA Path to Détente in the War over Abortion – Julia D. Hejduk, Public DiscourseHawaii law forces pro-life pregnancy help centers to promote abortion – Rachel del Guidice, LifeSiteNewsAmericans Confused About Abortion – American Culture & Faith InstituteChildren’s Minister Aggressively Pushes to Legalize Abortions Killing Children – Micaiah Bilger, Life NewsRep. Trent Franks Hopes Pain-Capable Bill Shows ‘Inhumanity’ of Abortion – Katie Yoder, NewsBustersAdoptionGift-Motherhood, the Prius, and the Peace Corps: Reducing Abortion by Incentivizing Adoption – Julia D. Hejduk, Public DiscourseBioethicsSurrogacy Reaches the Supreme Court – Kathleen Sloan, Public DiscourseU.S. doctors take official stance against euthanasia – Samantha Gobba, WORLDWomen and Bioethics: an ethics of care – Caterina Milo, C-FamBasic Bioethics: Forty ways to make a baby – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionNew York Courts Rule Against "Aid in Dying" and Warn of Its Dangers – Richard M. Doerflinger, Public DiscourseObamacareGOP already eyeing next chance to revive Obamacare repeal – Seung Min Kim, Jennifer Haberkorn and Burgess Everett, Politico FamilyEconomics/EducationMarried Couples With Children and Jobs Cause Income Inequality – Terence P. Jeffrey, CNS NewsThe Marriage Divide: How and Why Working-Class Families Are More Fragile Today – W. Bradford Wilcox, Family StudiesHow Did Marriage Become a Mark of Privilege? – Claire Cain Miller, The New York TimesBan the Laptops, Yes – Mark Bauerlein, First ThingsBetsy DeVos vs. the Mindless Mob at Harvard – Frederick M. Hess and Grant Addison, National ReviewMarriageCouples weather bickering with a little help from their friends – Science DailyCheap Sex Is Making Men Give Up On Marriage – Larry Getlen, American Culture & Faith Institute6 Secrets to a Healthy Marriage (From Old Couples) – Jon Miltimore, Intellectual TakeoutWhat Nicole Kidman’s Emmy’s Kiss Says About Marriage and Infidelity – Chelsea Samelson, AcculturatedFaith/Character/CultureVideo: How To Have A Religious Argument (Facebook HQ) – Bishop Robert Barron, Word On FireCamille Paglia’s Teaching – Mark Bauerlein, First ThingsIf It Feels Like People Are Meaner Than Ever Now, Here’s What to Do About It – Julia Hogan, VerilyMany Atheists Aren't So Sure: The Doubts of Doubters – Eric Metaxas, The Christian PostThe Unchanging Lordship of Christ in a World of Crises – Rob Schwarzwalder, The StreamWhy You Should Keep Taking Your Kids To Church Even When It Feels Pointless – Emily Carrington, The FederalistHuman SexualityRocklin charter schools OK transgender books in elementary school – Diana Lambert, The Sacramento BeeNo Long-Term Harm? The New Scientific Silence on Child-Adult Sex and the Age of Consent – Mark Regnerus, Public DiscourseSex diseases in US surge to record high – AFPPodcast: God’s Work in the Midst of an Unplanned Pregnancy – Amy Ford, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionThe Myth of “Sex Work” Named and Shamed – Marianna Orlandi, C-FamWhy our willingness to offend can be the loving choice – Mike Goeke, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionHuman TraffickingChild Exploitation: Solutions for Stemming the Growing Demand – Patrick A. Trueman, National Center on Sexual ExploitationPornographyPornography Is Worse Than Feminism – Samuel D. James, First ThingsHugh Hefner, Mourning, and Legacies: Beyond the Pipe and the Robe – Ed Stetzer, Christianity TodayHow Hugh Hefner Hijacked Men’s Brains – Joe Carter, The Gospel CoalitionOne Man’s Dream Destroyed Millions – Jon Bloom, Desiring GodHugh Hefner Leaves Behind a Legacy of Sexual Exploitation, and a Public Health Crisis – Patrick Trueman, National Center on Sexual ExploitationPornography, Addiction, and Human Happiness – Zac Alstin, Intellectual Takeout
In his life, Hugh Hefner built an empire. Many, including himself, would say this empire was built on helping people explore their sexual freedom. His contribution to society is one that has given people the opportunity to look at sex with a different attitude. During his life, Mr. Hefner made it possible for everyone to have sex at his or her fingertips. However, this man did much more than just revolutionize the sex industry; he contributed to sowing confusion about what it means to be truly free.In an interview, Mr. Hefner stated, “One of the great ironies in our society is that we celebrate freedom and then limit the parts of life where we should be most free.” In this age of sexual revolution, many Millennials are “exploring” their sexuality and falsely calling this “freedom.” I have to admit that I did not understand what it meant to be truly free until I got married. Yet many people my age would laugh at this idea as being absurd.Here is the freedom that I have enjoyed. Because I waited for marriage, I do not have to spend my life concerned about whether my partners were healthy, or if they would leave me if I slept with them, or whether my partner would help me if I got pregnant. I do not have to lie awake at night wondering what I did wrong because my last partner left me even though I gave him everything; In marriage, I have been given an opportunity that I wish more people had; I have found a safe environment to explore and grow with someone who is going through life with me. We do not have to live in fear because we have each other and we have God.God has given us the freedom; in fact, we are “called to be free, but do not use your freedom to indulge in the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13 NIV). Hugh Hefner promised to give people freedom to explore their sexuality, but all he did was give people an avenue to ruin their marriages and their lives by becoming slaves to their lustful fantasies.Studies have shown that people who use pornography are less satisfied in marriage, lose interest in sexual intercourse, are more likely to be unfaithful, and can harm families. This not only physically affects marriages, but also leaves lasting devastation in its wake. Mr. Hefner wanted to create an environment for fun and freedom, but all he did was confuse people on what it meant to be truly free.Jourdan Stuart is an intern at FRC.
Speaking at the United Nations last week, Vice President Pence had harsh words for the UN Human Rights Council—an entity he claimed “doesn’t deserve its name.”“As we look at the membership of the council today, we see nations that betray these timeless principles upon which this institution was founded. Today, the United Nations Human Rights Council actually attracts and welcomes many of the worst human rights violators in the world.” (emphasis mine). The vice president concluded, “[a] clear majority of the Human Rights Council’s members fail to meet even the most basic human rights standards.”Pence singled out Cuba and Venezuela as examples of countries that didn’t belong there. They aren’t the only ones.President Trump, speaking the day before, had emphasized the same point: “In some cases, states that seek to subvert this institution’s noble aims have hijacked the very systems that are supposed to advance them. For example, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council.”While these words may seem harsh, they are true, and make a long-overdue point more world leaders need to recognize themselves.While the UN began with a noble purpose and a framework to achieve a worthwhile goal, it has become corrupted in the years since 1945. The term “human rights”—which recognizes that all people have certain rights that come from God and not government because they are made in the imago dei, or “image of God”—must retain its core meaning to bear any fruit in the international arena. Yet the term has been used and abused over the years to mean many things to many people, and hence nothing at all. Through this definitional watering down along with intentional noncompliance and hypocrisy, we have achieved a “Human Rights” Council of human rights violators.The only thing consistent about the council is its irrational and mind-boggling hatred of Israel, the Middle East’s most successful democracy and a human rights leader in that area of the world. As Vice President Pence pointed out, “[t]he council’s agenda item seven actually singles out Israel for discussion at every single meeting, something no other country must endure. As evidence, the Human Rights Council has passed more than 70 resolutions condemning Israel, while largely ignoring the world’s worst human rights abusers.” Such anti-Semitism further discredits the already scornful behavior of the council.The UN was founded with a worthy goal, and it is one worth continuing to strive for. But striving includes reform where needed. The “head-in-the-sand” mentality too often taken in the face of ongoing problems will only prolong abuse and the suppression of human rights—not their protection.
Arina O. Grossu, FRC’s director for the Center for Human Dignity, spoke last night at the 40 Days for Life 2017 opening event in Washington, D.C. Here are her remarks:Good evening everyone. Thank you for being here. Every spring and fall in hundreds of cities worldwide, people gather as part of the 40 Days for Life campaign to pray for all of the mothers and babies who unfortunately end up at the doors of a Planned Parenthood. They pray not only for the protection of mothers, fathers, and babies that they be spared from the evil of abortion, but also for the conversion of all abortion workers and volunteers, and for an end to abortion itself. Participants of 40 Days for Life are part of a noble endeavor that has already borne so much fruit. Literally.How effective exactly was 40 Days for Life this past spring alone? 637 babies were saved from abortion (8 here in fact), 13 abortion workers quit their jobs, and 9 abortion facilities closed.On this 10th anniversary of 40 Days for Life and in their largest campaign yet, it is due to your efforts and those who have participated in 40 Days for Life that more than 13,300 babies are alive today. Some of these children are celebrating their 10th birthdays this year. What a great legacy for life!Since the first 40 Days for Life in 2007, it has been present in 715 cities and 44 countries with 750,000 individual participants and 19,000 churches getting involved. Not only have over 13,000 babies been saved from abortion, but 154 abortion workers quit their jobs and 86 abortion facilities have closed.We can and we must defund Planned Parenthood and redirect taxpayers’ dollars to comprehensive health care centers. We must not accept anything less. It is a shame that a couple of naysaying Senate Republicans have determined the fate of the Graham-Cassidy bill and it will not go for a vote. In addition to repealing and replacing Obamacare, including halting taxpayer funding for abortion, this bill would have defunded Planned Parenthood. We must find other solutions.Why is it urgent that we defund Planned Parenthood? Because Planned Parenthood commits about one-third of all U.S. abortions at 328,348 abortions per year, and is the single biggest abortion business in America. Planned Parenthood aborted 900 babies every single day in 2015—one baby every 96 seconds.We must defund Planned Parenthood because Planned Parenthood hurts women and children. It is a sham of an organization.From 2009 to 2015, cancer screening and prevention programs have consistently decreased by close to two-thirds, breast exams have consistently decreased by over half (and we all know that Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms), and prenatal services have steadily decreased by more than three-quarters. In fact, in 2015, Planned Parenthood committed 35 abortions for every prenatal service it provided. It also committed 114 abortions for every adoption referral it made. According to Planned Parenthood’s 2015-2016 report, out of total services for pregnant women (adoption referrals, prenatal services, abortion), abortion accounted for 96 percent.Planned Parenthood has not only had a decrease in services, but also a decrease in patients. In 2015, it had 2.4 million patients—100,000 less patients than in 2014.Yet while its patient base and purported services continue to decrease, in 2015-2016, Planned Parenthood received $554.6 million in combined federal, state, and local government grants and contracts, an increase of $900,000 since the year prior, and the highest in government funding that Planned Parenthood has ever received.Additionally, its total revenue for 2015-2016 was about $1.354 billion, the highest in its history.Of all funding received by Planned Parenthood, 41 percent comes from taxpayers’ pockets. Why are we subsidizing an organization that kills babies? We don’t need Planned Parenthood.There are 13,540 federally-qualified, low-cost, high quality health care clinics and rural health centers that can and should replace Planned Parenthood. They outnumber Planned Parenthood more than 20 to 1 nationally. They 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 such as mammograms, various immunizations, diabetes and glaucoma screenings, cholesterol screenings, well-child, mental health, and substance abuse services.Imagine how much more we can do for women and children when an extra half a billion in taxpayer funds is restored for actual healthcare.Remain steadfast because we are winning. As they say, “Keep calm and carry on.” Before we know it, Planned Parenthood will be obsolete. Planned Parenthood facilities and affiliates are at an all-time low, now down to 620 from 930 facilities, and 56 from 190 affiliates at their height.There’s no better time than today to keep this momentum going. Our prayerful, loving presence in front of Planned Parenthoods and other abortion facilities rips at the very fabric of the abortion industry. Our prayerful presence exposes the dirty and evil deeds that go on behind these walls. Our prayerful presence reaches out to women in the depths of their despair and offers them a life-giving choice, for themselves and for their children. Our prayerful presence changes the hearts and minds of abortion workers. We are on the front lines fighting between life and death. Our task is to help every person we can to escape the grip of the evil of abortion. This is a sacred calling, one which we must not take lightly.So from now until November 5, I invite you to once again join our brothers and sisters all around the world in building the culture of life—right here, right now. Take part in this 40 Days by praying and fasting, keeping a prayerful vigil outside of an abortion facility, and doing community outreach to spread the pro-life message. Get involved in your local efforts by visiting 40daysforlife.com. Remember that “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke). In these next 40 days, do something for life. You may never know all of the good effects your efforts for the cause of life in the next 40 days may make, or you may be blessed enough to one day hold a bright-eyed, pudgy, giggly baby who owes her life to your prayerful witness. Thank you.
How can students in public schools exercise their constitutional religious liberty rights? In part three of our “Back to School” Facebook Live series, FRC policy experts Sarah Perry and Travis Weber discuss this important question. Here is a summary of some key points from this discussion:The First Amendment to the Constitution is the basis for religious liberty, particularly in its “free speech” and “free exercise” protections.The much talked-about “wall of separation” between church and state that is often misrepresented in our current culture is derived from the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which states that the government cannot mandate one faith that people must follow. This notion has often been misapplied to exclude any religious mention or prayer from the public square. In reality, the intent of the Establishment Clause is much more limited—it was meant to protect the “free exercise” of all religions by not “establishing” one religion in particular.Two principles should be kept in mind when considering whether an activity is protected by the free expression of religion in a public school setting: 1) is religion being treated equally with non-religion in any particular situation, and 2) is the religious activity or expression student-led or initiated?If a student is confronted for and prohibited from wearing a cross necklace, for example, the first step is to establish the facts of the incident. Parents can then take their concerns to the teacher or other official who is involved in the situation. If the situation is not addressed satisfactorily at the school level, public advocacy groups such as FRC, Alliance Defending Freedom, and First Liberty Institute should be contacted in order to draw attention to the situation through the media and for legal advice.The Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act was recently passed in Florida, prompted by two incidents of blatant religious liberty violation in which a student was commanded to remove their cross necklace, and another incident in which a student was reprimanded for reading a Bible during their free time.The Supreme Court established in Town of Greece v. Galloway that public prayer in a local government setting is constitutional in accord with the Establishment Clause, which means that public school employees like football coach Joe Kennedy should be allowed to take a knee in prayer at a football game.A school is permitted to keep order in their environments by limiting rights only when they materially and substantially disrupt the learning environment. Broadly speaking, however, this applies in very limited circumstances.Religious clubs must be permitted to operate in the same way as non-religious clubs in public school settings.During school, students have the right to pray as they want in a moment of silence and during lunch, read their Bibles, share their faith, hand out literature, and do other religious activities as long as they are not disrupting the school environment.Public school teachers, coaches, and officials are seen as representatives of the government and cannot set forth a principle of religion that people must follow. In their private time “off the clock” while at school, they can engage in any religious activities they choose.If teachers are unsure about the legality of a religious activity they want to engage in at school, they should seek legal advice before engaging in the activity in order to be safe from having litigation filed against them by a parent or the school.View the full video to find out more.

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