Tragedy has repeated itself with the most recent attack on Christian bus passengers by al-Shabaab militants in Northeast Kenya. As has happened before, militants reportedly forced the passengers to show their identification cards, and then separated them according to whether they had a Muslim and Christian name. Those with non-Muslim names were forced to recite the Shahada, or the Islamic statement of faith, and two (likely Christians) who failed to recite it were immediately executed.Reflecting with sadness on these events, we recall the short film Watu Wote (“All of Us” in Swahili, pictured above). An Oscar short film finalist, it tells the true story of another al-Shabaab attack—also on a bus in this area of Kenya (in Mandera to be precise). In this instance, Muslims on the bus refused to separate from the Christians despite orders from the militants to do so, which helped save the lives of the Christians. The film is difficult to watch, but well-done, and an encouraging story of human beings choosing to do what is right, despite the risk of doing so.In light of recent events, the film is well worth a watch.
Adapted from remarks by Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies, Family Research Councilto World Congress of Families – Chisinau, Moldova(Panel Discussion on “Gender Ideology—The Latest Attack on the Family and the Legal Challenges It Poses”)Friday, September 14, 2018 Good afternoon.I want to share with you today five myths about “gender identity.”These are five things that are believed and taught by transgender activists, which simply are not true.1. If the mind is in conflict with the body, the mind is right.This is the most fundamental belief of the transgender movement. If a person is biologically male, but that person feels or believes that he is a woman, then he is female. And if a biological female believes she is male, then she is male.But why should anyone believe that?Contrary to the claims of the transgender activists, this belief is not “scientific.” In fact, since science deals with an examination of the physical world, the rejection of the physical body is anti-scientific.The belief that the mind is right and the body wrong when they conflict is a philosophical—almost a religious—viewpoint. It has nothing to do with science.It is bad enough when adults are deceived in this way—but it is tragic when it happens to children. Certainly, some children, even from a very young age, engage in behaviors that do not conform to the typical expectations for their sex.However, myth number two is:2. Gender non-conforming children will always grow up to be transgender adults.Actually, there is much evidence that the vast majority of such children, if left to themselves, eventually accept their biological sex. According to the American Psychiatric Association, anywhere from 70 to 97.8 percent of gender non-conforming boys, and 50 to 88 percent of gender non-conforming girls, will not become transgender. However, if they are encouraged by adults to make a social transition, and they receive hormones that prevent normal puberty from occurring, they may be locked in to a path that leads to great suffering.3. Gender transition (hormones and surgery) is “medically necessary.” This is the claim that transgender activists make in order to justify forcing government health programs and private health insurance companies to pay for these expensive procedures.This claim has everything to do with money, and nothing to do with medicine.The vast majority of people who identify as transgender are physically normal, physically healthy people. Hormones and surgery do not help their bodies work better—instead, they destroy healthy body systems and healthy body parts.The claim is that hormones and surgery are “necessary” to improve the mental health of transgender people, not their physical health. Has evidence proven this? No.In 2016, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees two of the largest federal health care programs, refused to order routine coverage for gender reassignment surgery. They said:“[T]here is not enough high quality evidence to determine whether gender reassignment surgery improves health outcomes.”“Overall, the quality and strength of evidence were low.”The four best studies “did not demonstrate clinically significant changes” for the better.One of the best studies, out of Sweden, showed the following about patients after they had gender reassignment surgery. Compared to the general Swedish population, they were:2.8 times as likely to have died of any causes;2.8 times as likely to have a psychiatric hospitalization;4.9 times as likely to attempt suicide;19.1 times as likely to die by suicide.This sounds medically dangerous—not “medically necessary.”4. “Gender identity” discrimination is a form of “sex discrimination.” In the United States, the majority of states have not added “gender identity” as a protected category in laws against discrimination, nor has the U.S. Congress.Therefore, transgender activists have begun urging courts to interpret laws against “sex discrimination” to include “gender identity.” Since our federal law against sex discrimination in employment and in education were passed in 1964 and in 1972, it is unlikely that legislators intended “sex” to mean anything other than being biologically male or female.A 1989 U.S. Supreme Court decision included a passing comment that “gender stereotyping”—for example, telling a woman she is not feminine enough—could be a form of “sex discrimination.” But even that case does not stand for the proposition that a man can become a woman, or a woman can become a man.5. The transgender movement is a progressive movement. This may be the most surprising for me to list as a “myth.”Although we speak about the “LGBT movement,” there are many “LG”—self-identified lesbians and gays—who are concerned about the “T” (those who identify as transgender). They are not happy that masculine girls and feminine boys—who at one time might have grown up to identify as lesbians or as gay men—are now being told that they are actually the opposite sex.Meanwhile, some feminists point out that transgender activists often are not trying to overcome gender stereotypes. Instead, they are trying to conform to rigid stereotypes—but of the opposite sex.It would seem more “progressive” to simply say that there are different ways to be a boy or a man, and different ways to be a girl or a woman—and none of them require changing your gender or mutilating your body.Thank you.
Dear Friends,In my daily faith journey, I confess that I sometimes fall into a bad habit: I feel like I’ve “been there, done that.” More to the point, I feel a kind of “spiritual sophistication” in which most of the preaching I hear and most of the articles on faith that I read just don’t seem to measure up to my expectations. What’s worse, I sometimes find myself getting annoyed and impatient that the preaching that I’m hearing or the article I’m reading is not what I feel to be sufficiently insightful.As Matthew Westerholm has recently observed, this kind of “it takes a lot to impress me” attitude is actually a form of spiritual immaturity. He writes, “The more spiritually mature we become, the more we are easily edified.” This should be something that all Christians should strive for—a spirit of simplicity, humility, and openness as we encounter the sermons, writings, songs, films, and other forms of spiritual communication that we encounter. This kind of attitude will prepare us to be surprised and delighted by the unexpected insights given to us by the Holy Spirit.This attitude can also be carried over into every aspect of our daily lives, especially with the everyday conversations we have with others. If we strive to always be open when we encounter others, and avoid going into situations with preconceived notions about what we will or will not gain from them, we allow ourselves to be receptive to what the Lord is trying to teach us.Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council FRC ArticlesAre Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) Effective? Are They Harmful? What the Evidence Shows – Peter SpriggCalifornia’s Effort to Ban ‘Conversion Therapy’ Failed. Here’s a Better Path We Can All Agree On. – Peter SpriggThe Problem With Judicial Nominations? The Left Doesn't Actually Want to Follow the Constitution – Peter SpriggBrown University is in Denial About Transgender Reality – Cathy RuseLawsuit Targeting Faith-Based Adoption Agencies Allowed to Proceed in Michigan – David ClossonA Bill Allowing College Campus Abortions Shows Reckless Disregard for Young Women – Patrina MosleyPlanned Parenthood’s New President Can’t Erase Its Atrocities – Patrina MosleyThe Department of Veterans Affairs Should Not Fund “Gender Alterations”The Catholic Church in Crisis: Two Takeaways – Dan Hart Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareChristian College Says Accrediting Agency's Proposed Guideline Change May Harm Religious Schools – Samuel Smith, The Christian PostTexas cheerleaders win a victory for freedom of religious expression – Todd Starnes, Fox News'In God We Trust' sign offended teachers, so the school district came up with a fix – Lois K. Solomon, Sun SentinelStudents Ordered to Spray Paint Over the Name of Christ on Football Field – ToddStarnes.comUpend Precedent, 11th Circuit Panel Urges in Pensacola Cross Case – Katheryn Tucker, Daily ReportHer College Told Her Not to Give Out Bible-Themed Valentines. She Isn’t Backing Down. – Troy Worden, The Daily SignalProfessor Who Defended Student’s Right To An Opinion Returns To Work After Three Years And One Major Court Battle – Ashe Schow, The Daily WireInternational Religious FreedomOfficials destroying crosses, burning bibles in China – APIndian Christians Refuse to Deny Christ Despite Persecution From Hindu Radicals – Leah MarieAnn Klett, The Christian PostNigeria: Pastor and three sons burned alive among at least 20 killed in latest Plateau massacre – World Watch MonitorU.S. and Turkey Speak About Syria and the Detained American Pastor – The Jerusalem PostChina to crack down on 'chaotic' online religious info: media – ReutersWhy Americans Should Care About the Uyghurs – Jennifer S. Bryson, Public DiscourseU.N. Is Called to Recognize Christian Genocide – Marlo Safi, National ReviewBaseless Forced Conversion Accusation Lead to Arrest of 271 Christians in India – Persecution.orgProminent Chinese pastor defiant after church closure – Channel NewsAsia LifeAbortionPro-life pregnancy centers served nearly 2 million people last year – The Boston PilotMemo to Chelsea Clinton: Freedom Does Not Require Women To Become Like Men – Ashleen Menchaca-Bagnulo, Public DiscourseIn two years, Iowa flips from ‘worse than New York State’ to pro-life – Live Action‘Gosnell’ Actress On Her Choice For Life: ‘Have Your Baby, It Will Mean Everything To You’ – The FederalistPro-Life Leaders Call for End of Taxpayer-Funded Research with Aborted Baby Parts – Caffeinated ThoughtsAdoptionI Was Adopted Through a Faith-Based Adoption Provider. LGBT Groups Want Them Shut Down. – Ryan Bomberger, The Daily SignalBioethicsA viral photo shows the problems with in vitro fertilization (IVF) – Andrew T. Walker, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionDear Anonymous Dad – Mary Jackson, WORLDA Gruesome Plan – Wesley J. Smith, The Weekly StandardObamacareThis 1 Move by the Trump Administration Is Boosting My Small Business – Joseph Semprevivo, The Daily Signal FamilyMarriageThe Thing We Learned About Marriage from the Cable Guy – Dave Willis with Ashley Willis, Focus on the FamilyConfessions of a Reluctant Complementarian – Rebecca McLaughlin, The Gospel CoalitionTeach Them About Marriage Before the World Does – Jani Ortlund, Desiring GodParentingClose ties with fathers help daughters overcome loneliness – Science DailyWaiting to Have a Baby Can Lead to Having Many at Once – Mollie Rappe-Brown, FuturityWelcome to the Grieving Parents Club – Leslie Froelich, HerViewFromHomeEconomics/EducationEducation Should Not Be Fearful – Matthew Anderson, CrisisHundreds of parents flood Board of Education to demand control over their kids’ sex education – Daniel Payne, The College FixParents Win: Colorado Schools End Sex Ed Program That Exposed Children to Porn – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostThe College Campus’s Cult of Fragility – George Will, National ReviewWhy Small Businesses Are More Optimistic Than Ever Before – Patrick Tyrrell and Anthony B. Kim, The Daily SignalHow the Texas Model Supports Prosperous Families – Vance Ginn, Family StudiesFaith/Character/CultureThe Power of Prayer for Families – Alysse ElHage, Family StudiesHow to Ruin Your Life in Your Twenties – Jonathan Pokluda, Desiring GodPrioritizing the Value of Work in a Celebrity-Obsessed World – Naomi Schaefer Riley, Family StudiesHow to help a friend with mental illness – Amy Simpson, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionThe Benefit of Bad Sermons – Matthew Westerholm, Desiring GodWhy Millennials ARE Coming to Church – Steve McAlpine, The Gospel CoalitionWhat I Learned About My Sins at Sixty-Four – John Piper, Desiring GodHuman SexualityThe Heterosexual Gospel – Jackie Hill Perry, Desiring GodHow to Evangelize Your LGBT Neighbors – Rosaria Butterfield, Christianity TodayCalifornia Dem withdraws bill banning help for unwanted gay attraction – Calvin Freiburger, LifeSiteNewsThe Alarming Findings of a New Study on Transgender Teens and Suicide – Kelsey Harkness, The Daily SignalGay Rights, Hate Speech, and Hospitality – Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, Desiring GodHuman TraffickingSexual Exploitation Knows No Borders, Neither Should Our Efforts to End It – Lana Lichfield, National Center on Sexual ExploitationPornographyIs Pornography Your Therapy? – Greg Morse, Desiring GodHow Porn Is Sidelining Missionaries – Greg Handley, The Gospel CoalitionA rape pandemic has hit India, and people are blaming pornography – Jonathon Van Maren, LifeSiteNewsHow to Tell Your Fiance About Your Porn Problem – Jessica Harris, Focus on the Family
On Friday, a federal judge ruled that Dumont v. Lyon, the ACLU’s lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, may proceed, finding that the plaintiffs—two same-sex couples who allege they were turned away by certain faith-based placing agencies when they sought to adopt—have standing to sue.In denying the Defendant’s motion to dismiss, the Clinton-appointed District Judge, Paul D. Borman, ruled that the couples have demonstrated plausible Establishment Clause and Equal Protection claims that are “fairly traceable” to the defendant’s practice of entering into contracts with faith-based agencies that operate according to their religious beliefs about marriage. Michigan state law since 2015 has protected the conscience rights of faith-based adoption providers.In his ruling, Judge Borman explained that because faith-based agencies process 20 percent of the active foster care and adoption cases in Michigan, it is “reasonable to infer that the ability of faith-based agencies to employ religious criteria as a basis to turn away same-sex couples erects at least a 20% barrier to that Prospective Parent Plaintiffs’ ability to adopt or foster a child in the State of Michigan.” Noticeably absent from Judge Borman’s comments on this point is that the ACLU’s clients in the case live closer to four other foster and adoption agencies than St. Vincent Catholic Charities, a co-defendant in the case. All four agencies facilitate adoptions for same-sex couples.Significant for this case—and others moving forward—Borman cites the Plaintiff’s claim of “stigmatic injury” alongside “practical injuries” as grounds for allowing their Establishment Clause claims to proceed. In addition to claiming that Michigan’s law makes it more difficult for them to adopt, the same-sex couples allege that the state’s practice of contracting with faith-based agencies with religious convictions constitutes a form of harmful discrimination. This is an appeal to “dignitary harm,” a concept that refers to the alleged emotional pain and humiliation suffered when someone disagrees with another’s moral decisions or lifestyle; the notion is increasingly invoked by activists who want to silence dissent from anyone who disagrees with the LGBT agenda.The longest section in the 93-page ruling was Borman’s rationale for why, in his view, the Plaintiffs have credibly alleged an Establishment Clause violation. The Plaintiffs believe the implementation of Michigan law constitutes an endorsement and promotion of religion which is prohibited by the Establishment Clause. Concurring with the Plaintiffs, Borman employs the second and third prongs of the Lemon test to establish whether Michigan’s law conveys the message that the state endorses the view that opposes same-sex marriage. According to Borman, “The answer is yes.” In an important paragraph he argues that “Plaintiffs plausibly allege and suggest that the State’s practice of contracting with and permitting faith-based child placing agencies to turn away same-sex couples has both a subjective purpose of discriminating against those who oppose the view of the faith-based agencies and objectively endorses the religious view of those agencies that same-sex marriage is wrong.”Borman also says that while the Establishment Clause does not prohibit Michigan from entering into contracts with religious organizations, the use of religious criteria by faith-based adoption providers suggests “excessive entanglement” between the state and religion. Thus, according to Borman’s opinion, the Defendants will need to prove in the trial phase why current state law protecting faith-based adoption agencies does not constitute an inappropriate promotion of or excessive entanglement of religion.Turning to the Plaintiff’s Equal Protection claim, Borman is more cautious but permits the claim to proceed to the discovery phase. Notably, he admits the Plaintiff’s burden to prove that Michigan’s law is motivated by anti-gay animus is “admittedly high.”On one count Borman does rule in favor of the Defendants, finding that the Plaintiffs fail to establish taxpayer standing to assert their Establishment Clause claims. Alongside the same-sex couples, Jennifer Ludolph, a former foster child who also sued the state, objected to the use of taxpayer money to fund child-placing agencies that do not place children in same-sex households due to the provider’s religious convictions on marriage. Borman ruled that all of the Plaintiffs failed to establish taxpayer standing and dismissed with prejudice Ludolph’s claims.In response to the decision, Mark Rienzi, an attorney with Becket representing St. Vincent said, “Today’s court ruling allows the ACLU’s lawsuit to proceed—a lawsuit aimed at forbidding the state from working with faith-based adoption agencies to help children in need. Such a result would make it much harder for thousands of children to find the loving home they each deserve. Beckett is fighting to make sure that doesn’t happen, and this is just one step along the journey in this case.”
“Safe, legal, and rare.”That’s how the Democrats described their position on abortion over 20 years ago. Nevertheless, in just one year, 321,384 lives were aborted by Planned Parenthood, and nearly 60 million lives have been lost to abortion in the U.S. since Roe v. Wade.First off, anything legal is hardly ever rare, and when it comes to abortions, it doesn’t take a genius to know they are not safe—physically or psychologically.We know the phrase “safe, legal, and rare” was just political coaxing mixed with just enough moral undertones to put people’s consciences at ease about abortion rights. But as usual, when you give the Left an inch, they build a highway.Now, Democrats in California want young women to have as many abortions as they want, right from their dorm rooms. This is the purpose of California bill SB 320, the first bill of its kind, which has made its way onto Governor Jerry Brown’s desk.SB 320—deceptively titled the “College Student Right to Access Act”—would require public universities with on-campus student health centers to provide abortion pills to young college-aged women by January 1, 2022. If signed, California would be the first state to require access to chemical abortions on-campus, and abortion activists will make SB 320 model legislation for the rest of the country.Legal abortion has created a pathway for bills like SB 320 that try to reinforce the idea that abortion is healthcare. Elective abortion—the taking of innocent unborn life—should never be considered healthcare, and if anything, legislation like SB 320 shows a reckless disregard for the health of young women and presumes that education and motherhood are not compatible.We’ve known since 2006 that the abortion pill regimen is dangerous, with thousands of reported adverse health events, including several deaths. Recently, the FDA reported 1,445 more adverse events from 2012-2017. Since the introduction of the abortion pill in 2000, the drug has caused 22 deaths, 97 ectopic pregnancies, 1,041 hospitalizations, 598 blood transfusions as a result of blood loss, 411 infections, and 69 severe infections, with a total of 4,185 adverse events reported.A former Planned Parenthood manager, Abby Johnson, had this experience with her medical abortion:A blood clot the size of a lemon had fallen into my bath water. Was that my baby? I knew this huge clot was not going to go down the drain, so I reached down to pick it up. I was able to grasp the large clot with both hands and move it to the toilet.Then came the excruciating pain again. I jumped out of the shower and sat on the toilet. Another lemon sized blood clot. Then another. And another. I thought I was dying. This couldn’t be normal. Planned Parenthood didn’t ever tell me this could happen.One of SB 320’s co-sponsors, ACT for Women and Girls, says SB 320 is “about making sure that our young people are prepared for their life.”Can you imagine the mental trauma that would occur to a young woman who sees her abortion take place in her college dorm room, while at the same time enduring the physical trauma of excruciating pain?We know already that abortion negatively impacts a woman’s mental health. One study in the British Journal of Psychiatry analyzed 22 studies that detailed women who were post-abortive and found that they were more likely to have issues with substance abuse and had greater anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts than non-abortive women.Instead of “preparing” women for life, the abortion pill is setting them up to be more traumatized through life.SB 320 does not prepare men or women for life, to take responsibility for their actions, and make wise, moral choices.In reality, having the abortion pill readily available steps from college dorm rooms does nothing but incentivize the prevailing hook-up culture. Will the future of college “sex weeks” not only include condoms but abortion pills too?Neither does it enhance the dignity of women. Instead, SB 320 treats women as sex objects, implying that “if she wakes up pregnant, it’s no big deal, since she can easily go to the health center to get some abortion pills.”No accountability, no responsibility—the gifts of modern feminism.Modern feminists place opposition between education, work, and family for women. If you’re a young college student who thinks she is pregnant, modern feminists say abortion is the safest route to ensure you will not be uneducated and poor (as if this is the worst thing that can happen to you… the slight elitism should not go unnoticed). Feminists proudly tout they are pro-choice, but the only choice they are in favor of is telling you to abort your child.There are serious concerns that are not addressed in SB 320 that make the bill look rushed and politicized. SB 320 disregards the risks to women’s health, the potential liability to schools, and unclear fungibility of taxpayer funds. The bill’s funding mechanism is purposefully vague. Private funding until 2021 ignores the fact that a school clinic’s overhead is paid by taxpayers, and the language of the bill leaves open taxpayer-funded abortion after that.SB 320 leaves more questions than answers in giving women unsupervised access to abortion.As the abortion industry creates victims, the pro-life movement creates victors.For instance, 24-year-old single mom Briana Williams graduated from Harvard Law School with her one-year-old daughter, and many other students have shared their stories.SB 320 is not empowering or safe for women. Better options are prevailing, and those efforts should be supported and funded. Tell Governor Brown how this bill will harm young women and place public universities at risk.Resources for Women with Unplanned PregnanciesPregnantoncampus.comPregnant on Campus is an initiative started by Students for Life of America to empower women to choose life by providing resources and support for pregnant and parenting students on campus.AbortionPillReversal.comIf a woman takes the first pill of the abortion pill regime and then has second thoughts, there is still a way to stop the process. For more information, visit AbortionPillReversal.com. For emergencies, there is a hotline at 877-558-0333.Find a Pregnancy Center Near YouCare Net pregnancy centers offer accurate and helpful information in a compassionate environment. If you think you may be pregnant and are in search of information about pregnancy options, a free pregnancy test, or post-decision support, the experts at your local Care Net pregnancy center can help. Search here to find one near you.
The new Planned Parenthood president, Leana Wen, has been announced and it is clear from her background that she carries all the Left’s qualifiers for being anti-Trump, which will only matter for so long. Planned Parenthood’s attempts to be relevant do not make Wen a shield for the atrocities Planned Parenthood clinics are committing and profiting from every day.The fact that Planned Parenthood has placed its scandal-ridden organization into the hands of a physician does nothing to dignify abortion as a form of healthcare. It only makes taking the Hippocratic oath to “do no harm” hypocritical. The organization’s introductory video asserts that “having a physician as the head of Planned Parenthood is a sign that what we are doing is mainstream medical care.” Why is it not? Because, Cree Erwin-Sheppard is dead, Jamie Lee Morales is dead, and a 20-year old woman at an unlicensed Planned Parenthood abortion clinic is dead, all due to botched abortions. These are just a few recent examples.Abortion is the number one killer of African-Americans. Leana Wen, the former Health Commissioner of the predominately African-American community of Baltimore City, should know this. Nearly 80 percent of Planned Parenthood’s centers are located within walking distance of mainly African-American and Hispanic communities.Planned Parenthood has aborted over 321,000 babies just in the last year—and yet according to the organization, this is to be “understood as a fundamental human right.” The fact that over 60 million lives have been extinguished in the U.S. alone from abortions is the single greatest human rights violation we are facing. Planned Parenthood should be defunded, and the DOJ should follow through with their investigation into Planned Parenthood’s scandalous activities based off congressional referrals.
Family Research Council has submitted public comments urging the Department of Veterans Affairs to retain a regulation that prohibits “gender alterations” (hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery) from being funded by taxpayers as part of the VA’s medical benefits package.The VA had received a “Petition for Rulemaking” from transgender activists urging that it lift the restriction, which is found in 38 CFR 17.38(c)(4).The comment, written by FRC Senior Fellow for Policy Studies Peter Sprigg, said that the cost of these procedures would be exorbitant, and there is no convincing scientific evidence that they are effective in improving mental health or reducing suicide rates among those who undergo them.A synopsis of the comments stated:VA benefits should be aimed at the direst, most life-threatening needs first. They should not go to surgery on physically healthy individuals who elect to alter their physically healthy bodies.In 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a memo declining to issue a National Coverage Determination (NCD) mandating coverage for gender reassignment surgery. They declared that “there is not enough high quality evidence to determine whether gender reassignment surgery improves health outcomes.” What CMS was unwilling to do for Medicare recipients, the VA should not be doing for recipients of VA medical benefits.Advocates for taxpayer funding of medical gender transition claim that it will reduce the mental health problems and risk of suicide that are known to exist at higher levels among those who identify as transgender. However, one of the strongest studies ever done on the subject, a 2011 study out of Sweden (Dhejne et al., PLoS ONE) did not support such a conclusion. The CMS memo stated:The study identified increased mortality and psychiatric hospitalization compared to the matched controls. The mortality was primarily due to completed suicides (19.1-fold greater than in control Swedes), but death due to neoplasm and cardiovascular disease was increased 2 to 2.5 times as well. . . . The risk for psychiatric hospitalization was 2.8 times greater than in controls even after adjustment for prior psychiatric disease (18%).Finally, the exorbitant cost of these procedures can hardly be justified for so little benefit. Data from the Philadelphia Center for Transgender Surgery suggests that a comprehensive package of male-to-female surgical procedures would cost $110,450, and female-to-male procedures would cost $89,050. That’s not to mention hormone treatment, which is required indefinitely and can cost as much as $200 a month.
Over the last several months and up to today, revelations continue to come out about the cover-up of sexual abuse among the clergy in the Catholic Church, which has now credibly extended to the Church’s highest levels. As a Catholic, I find myself heartbroken for those who have experienced sexual abuse at the hands of the very men whom they trusted the most. I also find myself angry that the very men who have spent so much of their lives studying and preaching about the teachings of Christ could be the ones who would leverage their status as priests and bishops to prey upon the trust of their flock.Nevertheless, here we are. It is undoubtedly a grace from God that all of these fetid revelations are now seeing the light of day so that the Church hierarchy can at long last begin to clean house, something that is decades overdue, and of which the lay faithful in the Church must hold the clergy accountable as best they can.At this point, the temptation for those of us who feel powerless to do anything to help right these terrible wrongs is to get bogged down in the minutiae of the all the accusations, denials, and rumors. While it is important that we stay as wise as serpents in the ways of the world, it is equally important to remain as innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16). Therefore, here are two essential points to keep our current moment in perspective so that we avoid becoming embittered and help to bring good out of even the most dire of circumstances, which is what all Christians are called to do.1. Sin Is Real and Has Real ConsequencesScripture tells us that even the early church struggled with the sexual immorality of the wider culture (see 1 Corinthians 5, among others). It seems that this tendency has only increased in modern times. At least since the Sexual Revolution in the 1960’s (if not earlier), it has become abundantly clear that the Christian church, no matter what denomination or tradition, has been particularly susceptible to being influenced by the wider culture’s view of sex. The Sexual Revolution’s chief export, which has taken root so overwhelmingly in our modern culture, is this: that the primary purpose of sex is for pleasure, which every person has an absolute right to no matter what their age or state in life happens to be.The wider Christian church has steadily ceded ground and influence in their opposition to this idea for the past several decades, the reasons for which are numerous and cannot be fully explored here. What’s important to realize is that God’s teaching about sex has been and always will be abundantly clear. It is summed up in the Sixth Commandment: “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). Here is an excellent summation of the proper meaning of this commandment through the Bible’s authority:The [Christian teaching on sexuality] is also set forth in many other clearly worded texts from the Scriptures that forbid homosexual acts, adultery, fornication and other lewd conduct: Ephesians 5:5-7; Galatians 5:16-21; Revelation 21:5-8; Revelation 22:14-16; Matthew 15:19-20; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Corinthians 6:9-20; Colossians 3:5-6; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; 1 Timothy 1:8-11; Hebrews 13:4; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Genesis 19; Romans 1:1-18, and 1 Timothy 1:8-11, among others.The Sixth Commandment is clear — there is a universal call to chastity, and no one is exempt. There is simply no provision for sexual intercourse or sexual touching outside of valid marriage, and those who are married live chastity by complete fidelity to one another. No one is ever permitted under any circumstances to engage in sexual acts with anyone to whom they are not validly married. There are no separate rules for heterosexuals or homosexuals. There is to be no sexual intercourse or touching outside of valid marriage.I think it can be safely said that this is the most broken and least understood commandment and principle in Christianity, even among Christians. Just one sad example of this is the pervasiveness of pornography. It is no secret that pornography use is the number one sin confessed to Catholic priests and is also widespread in evangelical churches.The Sexual Revolution proved to be extremely successful at convincing much of society that it is okay to separate the sexual act from the confines of marriage. Once this was done, the floodgates opened. Sex outside of marriage is so culturally accepted that it is now considered a right of passage. The natural outgrowth of this line of reasoning could not be more clear: if unmarried people can have sex, who’s to say it has to be with someone of the opposite sex? What’s wrong with watching people do it on the internet? And so on and so on.This viewpoint is very convincing to the human psyche for the simple reason that sex is in fact very pleasurable in a unique and powerful way. “How can pleasure be sinful?” the culture asks. Perhaps the easiest way to answer this is to simply point out the current state of our sexual culture—awash in the #MeToo moment. When the fire of human sexuality is not harnessed within the prism of commitment and mutual self-sacrifice, the inevitable result is wildfire, in which people use and abuse each other.Our culture, along with a troubling segment of the Catholic Church’s clergy, has lost its sense of sexual sin. Perhaps the current devastation that all of this sin has caused will once again awaken a sense of sexual sin and its consequences. First, truly repentant sorrow and reparations must be expressed. Secondly, prayer, self-discipline, and the hard but infinitely fulfilling work of staying faithful to God’s teachings must be taken up with renewed hope and purpose.2. “From Everyone Who Has Been Given Much, Much Will Be Required” (Luke 12:48)A cursory review of human history reveals that we humans love power. We often long for it because we think that once we gain power and have more control, we can finally get what we want, and then we will be happy. But God has a far different purpose for power. Christ Himself specifically addresses the proper attitude we should have toward earthly power when He is brought before Pontius Pilate (who had the very powerful position as the prefect of the Roman province of Judaea at the time): “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above” (John 19:11).Christ’s lesson here is clear: Nothing we have gained on earth is because of our own efforts. Everything that we have is a gift from God.This is a hard lesson that all of those who have positions of power and authority must take to heart. They must humbly accept the power that has been bestowed upon them and use it for the greater good of their fellow man, resisting the urge to use it for their own pleasure or personal gain.As we have seen in recent weeks, this vital teaching from God has been tragically and systematically abused by the very men that God bestowed power and authority to within the Catholic Church—not only through priests who perpetrated the sickening sexual abuse of children, parishioners, and seminarians who held their trust, but also in bishops who used their authority to perpetrate the cover-up of abusive priests under their jurisdiction. We have also seen a pattern of abuse of power in other Christian churches, showing that no earthly hierarchical system is immune to sin.Indeed, the proper way to view power is to observe the life of Jesus and how he used his power. There couldn’t possibly be anyone more powerful than Jesus—He was God Incarnate. Yet, how did He use His power? In complete self-sacrifice. Those who witnessed His crucifixion were in fact dumbfounded that He did not use His power to save Himself, and derided Him for it: “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, Come down from the cross and save yourself!” (Mark 15:30)It’s a perfect illustration of how God’s ways are often not man’s ways (Isaiah 55:8). But Christ continually calls us to strive for more than the tired habits of our fallen nature: “Be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Christ, then, is the ultimate model for how we should use power—as servant leaders in service of others.What We Are Called to DoSo what can the Christian faithful do who do not hold positions of authority within their churches to help their leaders stay faithful? It can be tempting to throw up our hands in resignation, claiming that we have no responsibility for what goes on in the hierarchy.Don’t give in to this temptation. First and foremost, believers are called to live out God’s commandments in their own lives so as to be salt and light on the earth (Matthew 5:13-16), testifying to the reality of sin and its consequences when we are called to. Just as importantly, ordinary believers can and must make their voices heard when institutional change is needed, by writing letters to church authorities, starting petitions, and even holding peaceful public protests if the situation calls for it.Let’s remember in this time of crisis that no person is an island, especially bishops, priests, and pastors, the great majority of whom are not involved in the sexual abuse of others. All of us, no matter what earthly position we do or do not hold, need the support of our brothers and sisters in Christ to get through difficult times. Let’s begin a great renewal of our churches in Christ, who makes all things new (Revelation 21:5).
Dear Friends,After Labor Day, a common emotion that is experienced by many of us is one of melancholy. We get the sense that the season is beginning to change from summer to fall, and with it, many of us seem to be thrust back in to our roles as workers and students after our summer vacations and school breaks, with all the responsibilities and stress that goes along with it. It’s notable that fully 87 percent of people in the world don’t particularly enjoy their jobs, and I’m sure most adult readers remember childhood feelings of dread at the thought of going back to school after summer break.What’s important to remember during this time of transition is that work is actually a gift from God that is meant to fulfill us. John Cuddeback writes: “…work has a humanizing power: [in] some important sense it both expresses and brings about our humanity… Our daily work should … provide a basic and irreplaceable experience of human fulfillment … We can first of all seek the humanizing element in our daily work—whatever that work might be.”In order for us to be fulfilled by our work, we must be engaged by it, and there are helpful steps we can take to be more productive at and satisfied with our jobs. During this season of new beginnings, let’s make a special effort to use our God-given strengths and talents to excel in our work, not just for the benefit of us and our families, but for the betterment of society and to give glory to the Giver of all that we have.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 ArticlesWhy Judge Kavanaugh Should Be Confirmed to the Supreme Court – Travis Weber and Chris GacekWhat to Expect From the Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearing – Ken BlackwellCalifornia’s ‘Must Stay Gay’ Bill Is Nearing Passage. Here’s the Severe Harm It Would Do. – Peter SpriggSOGI Law Forces Catholic Adoption Provider to Close After 95 Years – David ClossonForced Use of False Pronouns Kills Faith and Freedom – Cathy RuseNew CDC Numbers Show the Sexual Revolution Keeps Making Things Worse – Cathy RuseIndia’s Opportunity for Religious Freedom – Travis WeberUpdate on California’s AB 2943: Therapy Ban Assaulting Freedom of Speech and Religion Passes Senate – Peter Sprigg3 Ways in Which Brett Kavanaugh Has Supported Religious Liberty – Travis Weber Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareDespite my court win, Colorado Civil Rights Commission is coming after me again – Jack Phillips, USA TodaySouthern Poverty Law Center ‘Hate’ Labels Deserve a Vigorous Response – Michael Farris, National ReviewSoCal Harvest: Thousands to 'Take a Stand' for Bible Amid Greg Laurie's Billboard Controversy – Samuel Smith, The Christian PostPastor Faces Eviction for Hosting Home Bible Study – ToddStarnes.com‘In God We Trust’ Motto On Currency Deemed Constitutional By Court After Atheists Complain – Kassy Dillon, The Daily WireThe Transgender Language War – Abigail Shrier, The Wall Street JournalTwo-thirds of conservatives don't trust Facebook, say they're being censored – Jennifer Harper, The Washington TimesChristian Cake Baker Turns the Tables, Sues Colorado for Anti-Religious Bias – Thomas Jipping, The Daily SignalInternational Religious FreedomNigerian Girl Who Refused to Renounce Jesus for Her Freedom Begs for Help in Newly Released Audio – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostThe Shameful Abandonment of the Yazidis – Judith Bergman, The Christian PostEuropean Union Religious Freedom Report LifeAbortionWhy we should work to overturn abortion laws – Andrew T. Walker, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission'Most Damning' Planned Parenthood Videos Yet Set for Release if Judge Lifts Gag Order – Tyler O’Neil, PJ MediaCalifornia state assembly passes law mandating abortion on college campuses – Cassy Fiano-Chesser, Live ActionTrump administration moves to cut Planned Parenthood funding sooner – Live ActionAdoptionStates Must Stop the War on Faith-Based Adoption Agencies – Monica Burke, The Daily SignalIs it OK to get attached to a foster child? – Ashley Gorman, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionThe Other Side of Foster Care – Jason Johnson, Family StudiesBioethicsOregon dives deeper into assisted suicide with new drug policy – Bradley Mattes, LifeSiteNewsFamilies of assisted suicide victims plead for the killing to end – Cassy Fiano-Chesser, Live Action FamilyMarriageFor Better or Worse: The Marriage-Health Connection – Aaron Cheesman, Sacramento MagazineHow (and Why) Government Should Invest in Marriage – Alan J. Hawkins and Hal Boyd, Public DiscourseWhy Every Sane Society Encourages Marriage, Not Divorce – Chuck Chalberg, Intellectual TakeoutAn Open Letter from Young Adults to Married Couples – Allegra Thatcher, The StreamHospital Wedding of Terminally Ill Woman a Powerful Witness – Maria Ximena Rondon, National Catholic RegisterParentingStop Criminalizing Parenthood – Kerry McDonald, Intellectual TakeoutHow to Reassure Your Children of Who They Are in God's Eyes – Sara Hagerty, Focus on the FamilyMotherhood: Why Society is Making it the Most Stress-Ridden Career – Veronika Winkels, Intellectual TakeoutTalking with Our Children About Homosexuality – Lucy Olson, The Gospel CoalitionHow Low-Energy Parents Can Get Their Children to Cooperate – Zac Alstin, Intellectual TakeoutTeach Them About Marriage Before the World Does – Jani Ortlund, Desiring GodEconomics/EducationHow Our Education System Fails Most Students – Oren Cass, Family StudiesWant More Power To The People? Choose Capitalism – Andy Pudzer, The FederalistStrong Families Make Strong Schools – Brianna Heldt, National Catholic Register7 Things I'd Do if I Wanted to Keep Poor People Poor – Brian Balfour, Intellectual TakeoutFaith/Character/CultureWhy Everything Is Wonderful But Nobody’s Happy, And What To Do About It – Nathanael Blake, The FederalistHow an unsatisfying life leads to spiritual freedom – Amy Simpson, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionMiracle Baby Born at 22 Weeks and Given a 2% Chance of Survival Heads Home – Micaiah Bilger, Life NewsOnly 14 Percent Of Americans Changed Their Minds Because Of Something On Social Media – Nicole Russell, The FederalistKindness: A Pathway to a Satisfying Life – Barry Brownstein, Intellectual TakeoutWhy It Matters That Teens Are Reading Less – Jean Twenge, Intellectual TakeoutDon’t Trust the Peace in Your Heart – Matt Rogers, The Gospel CoalitionHuman SexualityCan Sexual Orientation Change? – Michael Cook, Intellectual TakeoutI Loved My Girlfriend—but God Loved Me More – Jackie Hill Perry, Christianity TodaySTDs continue rapid rise in U.S., setting new record, CDC says – Linda Carroll, NBC NewsPornographyAmazon Pushes Pornography Ads on Website for Boy Scouts – National Center on Sexual Exploitation18 Mind-Blowing Stats About The Porn Industry And Its Underage Consumers – Fight the New Drug
Last week, after nearly 95 years of providing adoption services, Catholic Charities of Buffalo announced the termination of their adoption and foster care programs because of state requirements that would have forced the charity to violate its religious convictions by placing children in homes without both a father and a mother. The agency said their decision was guided by the Catholic Church’s historic teaching on the nature of marriage and family and acknowledged the change was prompted by a same-sex couple’s recent application to become adoptive foster parents. In their official statement the agency explained, “As an organization sponsored by the Diocese of Buffalo, Catholic Charities cannot uphold the requirement that contracting agencies allow same-sex couples to foster and adopt children. The teaching and position of the Roman Catholic Church throughout the world recognizes marriage only as a union between a woman and a man.” Noting the obvious, they add: “We’re a Catholic organization, so we have to practice what we do consistent with the teaching of the Church.” Tragically, Catholic Charities of Buffalo joins a growing list of faith-based adoption providers that have been forced out of business for refusing to compromise their religious convictions in order to comply with sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) “nondiscrimination” ordinances. Earlier this summer, Philadelphia discontinued their relationship with two adoption providers that could not conform to the city’s SOGI law because to do so would violate their religious convictions. In July, a federal judge sided with the city after the adoption agencies filed a motion for a temporary injunction. Behind these developments in Buffalo and Philadelphia is a clear message to faith-based adoption-providers: unless you embrace and subscribe to the new orthodoxy on contested matters related to marriage, sexual orientation, and gender identity, you will be blacklisted, targeted, and ultimately run out of business. In Buffalo, intolerance toward Christian beliefs was couched in the language of discrimination. A spokesperson for the New York Office of Children and Family Services said, “Discrimination of any kind is illegal and in this case (Children and Family Services) will vigorously enforce the laws designed to protect the rights of children and same sex couples.” Thus, under the guise of combatting discrimination, the state government is trampling the religious freedom of faith-based agencies by refusing to grant an exemption or accommodation. Moreover, they are tragically putting the partisan political agenda of adult activists over the interests of children. No one is served by forcing the closure of an organization with a proven track-record of helping children. On average, Buffalo Catholic Charities arranges the adoption of five children per year and currently has 34 children in foster care. When they close, their work of placing these children with adoptive parents will stop. The situation is a lose-lose for everyone, but especially vulnerable children. Consider these statistics: there are currently 437,465 children in foster care and 117,794 waiting to be adopted. These numbers highlight the dire need and underscore the reality that the maximum number of partnering organizations are needed to serve the needs of society’s at-risk children. However, if progressive activists have their way and continue enacting SOGI ordinances that preclude faith-based agencies from operating according to the moral teachings of their faith, hundreds of organizations will soon be forced out of the foster-care marketplace altogether. Again, the results would be devastating for at risk-kids.In short, the development in Buffalo once again underscores the need for federal legislation such as The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act (CWPIA) that would ensure all available agencies can continue to serve children without compromising the agency’s sincere beliefs or moral convictions.Until legislators act, stories like these from Philadelphia and Buffalo will reoccur and children will continue to be the unfortunate casualties in an adult culture-war.David Closson is Research Fellow for Religious Freedom and Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council.
I highly recommend Abigail Shrier’s piece in The Wall Street Journal today, “The Transgender Language War.”Her lede likens Fairfax County school bureaucrats to “Orwellian” bullies. That is gratifying to this Fairfax mom who has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with other moms and dads against this corrupt school board.And her overall critique of the centerpiece of the Transgender Movement is spot on.Forcing kids (and adults) to use certain words—in this case, to use the wrong pronoun for the sex of someone else—is forcing them to declare a creed they don’t believe in and to embrace an opinion they disagree with. How is this not government-mandated religion and thought?On religion, Shrier writes: For those with a religious conviction that sex is both biological and binary, God’s purposeful creation, denial of this involves sacrilege no less than bowing to idols in the town square. When the state compels such denial among religious people, it clobbers the Constitution’s guarantee of free exercise of religion, lending government power to a contemporary variant on forced conversion.On freedom of thought and speech:But individuals need not be religious to believe that one person can never be a “they”; compelled speech is no less unconstitutional for those who refuse an utterance based on a different viewpoint, as the Supreme Court held in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943). Upholding students’ right to refuse to salute an American flag even on nonreligious grounds, Justice Robert H. Jackson declared: “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, religion or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.” This is precisely what forced reference to someone else as “ze,” “sie,” “hir,” “co,” “ev,” “xe,” “thon” or “they” entails. When the state employs coercive power to compel an utterance, what might otherwise be a courtesy quickly becomes a plank walk.
Fire departments nationwide are going on far fewer fire calls as home fires have declined dramatically over the years. Why? Builders use better flame-resistant materials, and people have better smoke detectors and sprinklers. Cigarette smoking has been declining for years, and the motor vehicle fatality rate has been steadily decreasing since 1921. This is called progress. And you can see it all around you.But the sexual revolution just keeps making things worse.The New York Times reported yesterday that more Americans are suffering from sexually-transmitted diseases than ever before. Every year for the last four years, more and more people have become infected with chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and in 2017 the number of new diagnosed cases rose to 2.3 million.“Chlamydia and gonorrhea often lurk without symptoms,” said the report. Dr. Gail Bolan of the CDC warns that people are unwittingly spreading the disease “silently through the country.”What’s worse, gonorrhea is becoming a sex superbug. It has become resistant to several antibiotics, and CDC officials predict it will become resistant to the last remaining antibiotic now being used to fight it. Dr. Bolan says it’s urgent for drug makers to develop new antibiotics to treat it.These are painful diseases—they can cause severe damage to the reproductive system, and in some cases even death. And who is it that is suffering? Almost two-thirds of the new chlamydia infections are among youth 15-24 years old. Gonorrhea is now “very common” among young people 15-24 years old. It is our children who are suffering. Mere teens. Boys and girls who should be brimming with youth and vitality and health. It is their bodies that are being riddled by disease.And what are we adults doing about it?We are calling on drug makers to develop new drugs to give to all of the once-healthy teens who will get infected with sex superbugs.We are teaching “consent for sex” in public schools in younger and younger grades, which will only cause the demographic of sick children to start at 13 instead of 15.What we are not doing is helping them find the path that leads not only to health but to happiness: Saving sex for marriage, and then being faithful to your spouse.The sexual revolutionaries call that offensive. Suffer the children. Ideology above all.
As the U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense prepare to travel to India next month for high-level talks with their counterparts in that country (the first time such talks have occurred), religious freedom should remain squarely on the agenda.Pressure will no doubt arise from foreign policy realists to toss religious freedom from the discussion. Desiring to bolster the U.S./India relationship to counter China, they will want to avoid any sticking points—and religious freedom is one of them.This does not need to be the case. If India could see that advancing religious freedom advances its own national security interests, and economic growth, it might be interested in more seriously addressing the issue. In light of India’s desire to advance economically, it should in particular pay attention to the relationship between increased religious freedom and increased economic growth.But the issue certainly needs to be addressed. Those urged toward Hindu nationalist sentiment by governing BJP party allies have for years targeted Christians and others. More recently, U.S.-based charities like Compassion International have been restricted, shut down, or forced out of the country. The idea that someone might choose a religion other than Hinduism has these groups in an uproar, and hence their backing of “anti-conversion laws” in several areas of India which do in fact make it illegal to convert to other religions—including Christianity.While Prime Minister Modi has finally started to acknowledge some of these problems, a verbal acknowledgement alone won’t suffice. If Modi wants to point to this as “progress” if Secretary Pompeo raises the issue, he shouldn’t get a pass. Religious freedom advocates have cause to be skeptical in light of the years of abuse in India.This very week, events commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the slaughter of Christians by mobs upset about the murder of the Hindu leader Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati are taking place. What followed this murder on August 23, 2008, constituted India’s worst Christian persecution in 300 years. Despite the fact that Maoists took responsibility for the Swami’s death, over the course of the ensuing months, around 56,000 Christians fled into forests and the homes of friends and relatives. Approximately 5,600 houses and 415 villages were raided and set on fire. The government reported that 38 people were killed and two women raped, though others have reported higher numbers.In the aftermath, seven Christians (including six who were illiterate) were tried and convicted of the murder in what appears to be as close to a sham trial as one can get. Their case has been stagnating, with an appeals court failing to take it up. One journalist has taken to setting up a petition calling for their release. It currently has almost 70,000 signatures. Those who wish to join with him can sign here.All of this is additionally lamentable in light of India’s proud history as a Commonwealth country. Formerly part of the British Empire, India and other commonwealth countries pride themselves on matters such as the rule of law. Yet the rule of law has sadly suffered in recent years as it pertains to religious freedom in India. This compounds the negative effect on economic growth, as investors grow skittish of places where the rule of law is threatened.One way these religious freedom concerns can immediately be addressed is by giving the seven Christians convicted for the Swami’s death a hearing date for their pending appeal, and a fair and speedy trial. Such steps will start the process of remedying the religious freedom and rule of law issues which have developed in recent years, and begin the journey toward remedying the problems for religious freedom in India.
In light of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s impending confirmation battle, Family Research Council conducted an overview of his record and explained how he would likely rule on the issues we are concerned about. From that review, here are three ways in which Judge Kavanaugh has defended religious liberty:Judge Kavanaugh Has Defended Religious Believers from the HHS MandateIn Priests for Life v. HHS, he dissented from the D.C. Circuit’s denial of rehearing en banc, arguing that the HHS mandate substantially burdened the organization’s exercise of religion, pursuant to Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. This is a very important conclusion on an important issue and shows Judge Kavanaugh to have a right understanding of the religious freedom burdens that RFRA guards against in this context. While his assertion later in the same case that Hobby Lobby “strongly suggests” that the government has a compelling interest in ensuring broad access to contraceptives seems unnecessary, he did conclude that RFRA protected the claimants because the HHS mandate was not the least restrictive means of achieving any such interest.Judge Kavanaugh Has Defended Religious Expression in the Public SquareIn Newdow v. Roberts, atheists had argued that “so help me God” in the presidential oath violated the Establishment Clause. The D.C. Circuit rejected their argument, and Judge Kavanaugh wrote a concurrence stating that such “longstanding practices do not violate the Establishment Clause as it has been interpreted by the Supreme Court.”More recently, in Archdiocese of Washington v. WMATA, the Archdiocese of Washington attempted to purchase advertising space on the Washington Metro during the Christmas season, and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority refused to sell what it deemed a “religious” message for a religious organization. During oral arguments in this case, Judge Kavanaugh told WMATA’s lawyer that this was “pure discrimination” and an “odious” First Amendment violation, showing a keen awareness of potential violations of free speech and free expression with a religious basis.[In addition], [h]e helped set up a voucher program supporting religious schools in Florida, and also represented the Adat Shalom Jewish group in their legal battle against a Maryland county that was trying to stop construction of a synagogue.Judge Kavanaugh Has Defended Religious Expression in SchoolsDuring his time in private practice, Judge Kavanaugh chaired the Religious Liberty Practice Group at the Federalist Society, and worked pro bono to write amicus briefs in support of religious expression in schools. He wrote briefs in Good News Club v. Milford Central School, and Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, in which he argued that a public school must allow religious student clubs to use its facilities in a similar manner as other clubs, and that student-led prayer at football events did not violate the establishment clause, respectively.For more, see: https://www.frc.org/issueanalysis/why-judge-kavanaugh-should-be-confirmed-to-the-supreme-court
Here are some quick facts on the most recent action regarding California’s alarming bill, AB 2943, with links to sources:The California Senate just passed AB 2943 on August 16.AB 2943 is Round Two of California’s attack upon sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE).AB 2943 is so sweeping it could potentially ban the sale of some books—even the Bible.Therapy bans restrict what therapists can say to clients. The Supreme Court has signaled that this violates constitutional rights to free speech.Ironically, AB 2943 was passed even as a new study has debunked claims that SOCE is ineffective and harmfulMost clients who seek SOCE just want to live their lives according to the teachings of their faith, so bills like AB 2943 are an attack upon their freedom of religion.The Assembly or Gov. Brown have a last chance to block enactment of AB 2943. Urge them to do so now.
Dear Friends,When God created the human race, the pinnacle of His creation, He endowed us with a particularly amazing ability. Our souls are actually wired to feel an elevated sense joy, happiness, and hope when we witness an act of charity being performed by someone in service of someone else, even if they are complete strangers. As I know I have, I’m sure you’ve experienced a tear well up in the corner of your eye as you’ve watched one of the seemingly thousands of “random acts of kindness” videos that are all over the internet.What’s amazing about this inborn warmth that we feel when we witness goodness is that it has the power to instantly change our attitudes. For me personally, this has happened dozens of times in my day to day life. These moments usually happen completely unexpectedly, especially when I happen to be feeling a little down or discouraged. After I witness an act of kindness on the street or happen to watch an inspiring video that I come across on Facebook, my outlook on life is instantly transformed to one of hope and joy. What’s more, I feel inspired to emulate the act of kindness myself. This is the phenomenon of kindness being “contagious,” which has been hardwired into our humanness by our Creator.While acts of kindness naturally move and inspire us, that doesn’t mean we always follow through and do them ourselves—this is where our own sin and shortcomings creep in. Let’s all make a point of moving past any hesitation or self-conscious nervousness we might feel when we see an opportunity to perform an act of charity. You never know who might witness our acts of kindness and be inspired to spread the love, thus transforming our broken world one good deed at a time.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 ArticlesStrong Patents: Key to a Strong Economy – Ken BlackwellCNN Publishes a Hatchet Job on Religious Freedom – Travis WeberThe Remains of Aborted Babies Are Now a Commodity to the FDA – Patrina MosleyHigh School Students Enticed into Private Booth for “Queer” Storytelling – Cathy RuseThe Transgender Movement Just Pushes People Too Far – Cathy Ruse Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareI’m Proud To Take A Knee With Coach Kennedy – Bobby Bowden, The Daily CallerA Sign of the Times? Pastor Greg Laurie Forced to Remove Billboards Featuring the Bible – Emily Jones, CBN NewsAlabama public schools may soon add 'In God We Trust' displays – Frank Miles, Fox NewsChristian Baker Again Under Fire Again—This Time for Refusing to Bake a Transgender Cake – Tyler O’Neil, PJ MediaHispanic restaurant owner recipient of death threats, outrage mob after hosting Jeff Sessions – Chris Enloe, The BlazeUniversity of Iowa Reinstates Nearly 40 Student Groups After InterVarsity Files Lawsuit – Samuel Smith, The Christian PostTrump Admin Upholds Religious Freedom for Federal Contractors – Mark Martin, CBN NewsInternational Religious Freedom‘We Must Pay So Dearly’: China's Churches Raided, Silenced – Yanan Wang, APChina cracks down on citizens, scans handheld devices for ‘illegal information’ – Calvin Freiburger, LifeSiteNewsCourt rejects appeal for American pastor's release from detention, Turkish media says – Fox NewsLindsey Graham: 'Normal relationship' with Turkey impossible with pastor jailed – Tom Howell Jr., The Washington TimesUS Congress Urges India's Modi to Protect Christians, Condemn Attacks on Minorities – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostMilitary Religious FreedomArmy Chaplain Faces Possible Court Martial over Religious Beliefs – ToddStarnes.comMilitant Atheist Group Calls for Removal of Edwards AFB Commander over Public Professions of Faith – Paula Bolyard, PJ Media1,800 Soldiers Have Professed Faith in Christ at Missouri Army Base in Last 6 Months – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post LifeAbortionPushing abortion on California college students is institutionalized misogyny – Cassy Fiano-Chesser, Live ActionInternational abortion pressure was no match for Argentina’s love of life – Kristi Burton Brown, Live ActionThe Worst Poll Ever on the Roe v. Wade Decision – Michael New, Townhall18 years of the abortion pill have made things worse for women and society – Susan Michelle-Hanson, Live ActionAdoptionToby’s Adoption Day – Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review4-Year-Old Celebrates His Adoption and New Baby Sister in Sweet Photo: 'He Was So Happy That Day!' – Char Adams, PeopleBioethicsWhat Three Identical Strangers Reveals About Nature and Nurture – Mary Rose Somarriba, Family Studies‘Slow Code’: Outraged parents say doctors delay care for kids with disabilities – Nancy Flanders, Live ActionCalifornia Senate bill allows encouraging terminally ill to choose suicide – Cassy Fiano-Chesser, Live Action FamilyMarriageTips for a successful weekly marriage meeting – Erin Stewart, Deseret NewsSoulmate Marriage: An Unrealistic Goal? – Annie Holmquist, Intellectual TakeoutHow to Strengthen Your Marriage Through Doing the Dishes – Erin Smalley, Focus on the FamilyParentingHow Dads Can Protect Their Kids – Rob Schwarzwalder, The StreamHow to Navigate the Joys and Challenges of Grandparenting – Diana Divecha, Greater Good MagazineMoms Who Miscarry Benefit from Going to Church, Research Shows – David Briggs, Christianity TodayStudies acknowledge how traumatic miscarriage is — so why doesn’t society? – Anna O'Neil, AleteiaTo the Young Men Who May Want to Date My Daughters – Whitney Fleming, Her View From HomeEconomics/EducationEmails Reveal High School Teachers Plotting To Hide Their Political Bias From Parents – Ilya Feoktistov, The FederalistDemocrats More Positive About Socialism Than Capitalism – Frank Newport, GallupFaith/Character/CultureYour Life Is Not Boring – Jon Bloom, Desiring GodWhy Americans go—or don’t go—to religious services – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionA Case for Fear – Austin Roscoe, The StreamHuman SexualityLove, Economics, and Cheap Sex – C.R. Pakaluk, Public DiscourseSupport for Christians Refusing to Serve Same-Sex Weddings Goes ... Up – Morgan Lee, Christianity TodayYou Won’t Believe What Kids Can Find On ‘Transgender’ At The Public Library – Maureen Mullarkey, The FederalistHuman TraffickingNCOSE Intern Report from the World Without Exploitation 2018 Youth Summit – National Center on Sexual ExploitationPornographyMinistry Leaders Who Counsel People Struggling With Porn Addiction Say It Can't Be Fought Alone – Michael Gryboski, The Christian PostFor Parents: My Child Just Told Me They Struggle With Porn. Now What? – Fight the New Drug
The FDA has signed a new contract for “fresh” aborted baby parts with Advance Bioscience Resources (ABR)—yes, the same ABR that came under federal investigation for its role in the baby parts for profit scandal that has engulfed Planned Parenthood.Undercover footage released by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) exposed the buyer-seller relationship between the abortion industry and fetal tissue procurement companies, which included Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR). The findings were so egregious that it prompted multiple congressional investigations. Part of their investigations showed ABR acting as the middleman—buying baby body parts from abortion clinics and then selling them. Two of their top six buyers were the NIH and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)! ABR would pay Planned Parenthood and other abortion facilities a flat fee of $45 to $60 per baby specimen before turning around to sell the body parts for astronomical prices such as $340 to $550 per specimen. The income tax forms of ABR, a non-profit corporation, report $6.5 million in total revenue for the last five reporting years (2010-2014).Yet the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 makes it unlawful for the sale of human fetal tissue to be sold for profit!In 2015 alone, ABR made nearly $80,000 in payments to its top five abortion facilities, which included several Planned Parenthood facilities. Investigations have shown Planned Parenthood officials admitting to falsifying budget items to conceal the fact that they are financially benefiting from the fetal remains of abortions and altering abortion procedures to get more intact baby parts to sell, even while the baby is alive, all without obtaining proper permission from the mother.Biotech companies like ABR, who had technicians stationed at three of the Planned Parenthood facilities involved, have been complicit in the disregard for human dignity and the law.This is all done in the name of “science.” When government agencies like the FDA and NIH are so deeply involved in such inhumane and unethical practices, they become normalized in our minds. As a result, reform becomes harder to find, and injustice is perpetuated.Traditionally, our society has believed that donating one’s body parts should be voluntary in order to prevent the human body from becoming a commodity. Well, now body parts are becoming a commodity. An aborted baby cannot consent to anything because they are dead. The government and the abortion industry are colluding to take advantage of this situation and benefit from one of the most traumatic events a woman can face.Continuing this type of FDA research does not make us more medically advanced—it instead causes us to devolve into thinking human beings don’t matter, and that the ends justify the means. What is ironic is that this dark business shines a light on the fact that abortion really does take the life of human beings, who are then being used for experimentation. This is bad science and does not lead society forward. It instead incentivizes the harvesting of body parts through harmful practices such as late-term abortions and the alteration of abortion methods, which increases the risk to the mother and violates federal law.The FDA claims that this type of research, which transplants fetal tissue to make humanized mice, can only be done by using aborted babies. In reality, using fetal tissue has yet to solve any medical crisis. Congress has even acknowledged this: “In over 100 years of unrestricted investigation, human fetal tissue research has had ample time to prove useful, yet it has failed to do so.”Good science is ethical science, and we have seen the blessings of that through the use of adult stem cell therapies, which have already been used to successfully treat at least 73 conditions and over one million patients worldwide. There is no reason we can’t use ethical practices to treat modern humanity’s ailments.HHS should cancel all solicitations and revoke any contract with traffickers in baby body parts. As taxpayer funded entities, the FDA and NIH must be held accountable. Far too many culprits in this baby body part trafficking scheme have gone unchecked. The lives of the unborn demand justice, and America can do better.
Following the announcement of the Department of Justice Religious Liberty Task Force, CNN decided to post a recent piece that horribly mischaracterized what Christians believe about religious freedom. Whatever accuracy the piece contained was drowned out by glaring falsehoods—assertions and conclusions which are not only untrue, but which have now been released into the public discourse to further sow divisiveness and animosity.Take this statement, for example: “[Sessions] also portrayed religious liberty as the right of religious groups not to be labeled as hate groups even if their beliefs prescribed hate.”The author didn’t cite a Bible verse or theological position for “hate” because she can’t—it’s not there. So she just claims (falsely) that Christians’ beliefs “prescribe”—or instruct us to engage in—“hate” (whatever that means). In the process, she defended the Southern Poverty Law Center’s arbitrary “hate” list which Sessions was referring to—a hate list on which SPLC unilaterally labels and places FRC and other groups because we hold to unpopular truths about human sexuality, and a list which led to a gunman entering my organization’s headquarters several years ago with a plan to commit mass murder, wounding a security guard in the process. (FRC maintains no such lists of any of our opponents.)One need only crack the pages of the Bible for a moment to see how false the CNN piece is about Christianity: “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).Our faith leads us to love all people, which means conveying the truth. They may not like that truth, but their response does not mean we are not acting out of love.For CNN to relay such falsehoods about Christians only serves to toxify the public square. Those commenting on the religious beliefs of others—like this author—need to get their facts right. If there is one thing Jesus “prescribes,” it is love. The cost of failing to accurately describe the religious beliefs of others is further mistrust and social deterioration. Unfortunately, this piece squarely contributes to that.As a Christian organization, we not only aim to convey the truth out of love, but we believe no one should be compelled to act against their conscience in matters of faith. All people must be free to choose—or not choose—God. Therefore, we desire to protect religious freedom for all people (regardless of their faith), and applaud Attorney General Sessions’ efforts to protect Hindus and Muslims, for example. As mentioned during the Task Force announcement, the Sessions DOJ recently prosecuted an individual “who set fire to a mosque”—a fact which the CNN op-ed author conveniently left out of her discussion of how the Sessions DOJ approaches religious freedom. It is long overdue for CNN and other “mainstream” media to start discussing religious freedom in good faith, examining the facts and applying a dose of honesty with regard to what Christians actually believe about this issue. This would go a long way toward achieving the constructive dialogue necessary to heal our divided nation.
LGBT activists are nothing if not creative. Their latest approach involves inviting high school students into, in their words, a “big, gay booth” to talk about sex.In a recent post on the blog of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the “Beyond Bullying Project” bragged about the success of its latest efforts going into Bay Area public high schools to entice students into private booths to talk about LGBT sexuality.“Our pitch to would-be storytellers was open-ended,” said the project organizers. “Tell a story about yourself, a friend, your family…the story does not even need to be true.”The project “collects” the stories on audio and videotape, and claims to have spent time in schools in North America, Australia, and New Zealand.Apparently, participating schools welcome the rainbow-festooned booths, even directing their shop classes to build the “curricular, emotional space” for “queerness.” Schools also invite project organizers to make presentations in class.Bay Area students assisted in decorating the booths with rainbow paper, lights, boas, and chalk drawings. “Everywhere, it screamed gay,” said the organizers.Apparently, students “enjoyed the freedom” to leave class to visit the booth.What an excellent use of education hours and tax dollars!For some kids, skipping class was not motivation enough to enter the booth.“The team recognized that approaching a big, gay booth might be a social risk for some students and teachers so we offered them alibis to account for their interest,” the blog continued.“Outside the booth…we placed bowls of granola bars or chocolates, flyers announcing pizza lunches…iTunes gift cards and an iPod touch that we would raffle off at the end of our two weeks at the school.”“For every story a student told, they received a raffle ticket for the iPod.”“Together, these incentives provided enough cover to allow storytellers to enter the booth without inviting too many questions about their interest.”Apparently, not all students were thrilled with the presence of the booth. Organizers admit that some “seemed to deliberately alter their path through the school so as to avoid meeting our invitations to step inside.”How difficult to be a student today, tossed about in a sea of cultural Marxism. My heart goes out to them. Now more than ever, they need the solid ground of strong families, strong faith, and strong friendship.
When I read this column by Rafael Castro, I was reminded of other people who reluctantly supported same-sex marriage in order to “get the issue behind us.” They, like he, must feel betrayed and angry. The T in LGBT is a ticking time bomb that could sabotage the activists’ whole operation:As a religious conservative living in a liberal city – Berlin – I was torn between loyalty to tradition and respect for individual freedoms on the issue of gay marriages. What eventually swayed me to support gay organizations in this field was the argument that alternative definitions for marriages are a human right.I thus sided with the LGBT liberation movement with the hope that once such marriages were legal, the issue would be behind us and the energies exhausted in this fractious debate would be channeled to fight far more serious abuses of human rights in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.These expectations have been bitterly disappointed. To the best of my knowledge the LGBT lobby has done next to nothing in order to help gays and lesbians who are whipped and stoned in nations like Saudi Arabia and Iran.Instead of championing genuine human rights it has promoted the issue of transsexuality, blowing it out of all proportion, and has declared war on our historical and science-based understanding of sex and gender.In its obsession for blurring all gender differences it is pressuring the academic and culture establishments to erase any awareness of gender differences from the youngest of children and harassing any person who refuses to endorse this gender ideology. In addition, it has even encouraged voices demanding that incest, polygamy and pedophilia be normalized in our societies.In other words, I supported same-sex marriage rights with the understanding that I was contributing to defend human rights. Instead my support has been exploited by the sexual liberation movement to undermine the values and paradigms that give society its bearings and guidance to minors who are vulnerable in their development.I feel betrayed and angry. From now on I will fight every progressive social cause, regardless of the language used to market it. It is evident that today’s progressives are more interested in dismantling Western society than in repairing its relatively minor flaws.Looking back, I see that same-sex civil unions gave homosexuals all the legal and fiscal rights they needed . These civil unions respected the rights of all parties, without encouraging extremists to assault heteronormativity and bi-genderism. That’s how things should remain.
Dear Friends,We are now in the month of August, the time of the year that seems to be a kind of buffer between the season of vacations and weddings and the season when school and Congress begin work in earnest again in September. Generally speaking, August is when life seems to slow down a bit. Offices are a little emptier, the summer heat is a bit more intense, and there’s a few more stretches of time to spend in leisure.But what is “leisure”? Most of us tend to think of it in terms of watching a movie or playing a board game. But as John Cuddeback writes, there is an important distinction between leisure and amusement:Amusement refers to those activities we do because they are fun, or diverting, or simply relaxing. We play a game, ride a bike, go out on a boat, or watch a movie. We enjoy these activities even while they have no obvious product or utility.Leisure refers to activities that are more serious: we have a deep conversation, we lie on our backs observing the stars, we listen to great music. We contemplate deeper things, we worship God.Amusement and leisure share a common element: they are not work. But this similarity points to their fundamental difference. At the end of the day, amusement is less important than work, and it takes its immediate meaning from the fact that it serves work, by refreshing us to go back to our labors.Leisure on the other hand is served by our work. It provides the ultimate meaning and justification for human work.As we take vacations and spend time away from the office during this season, let’s remember to not only have fun and unwind, but to also spend some quality time in authentic leisure in order to renew our intellects and souls for the work God is calling us to accomplish.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 ArticlesOminous Court Ruling Allows Discrimination Against Christian Adoption Provider – Travis WeberWith State Department Ministerial, Trump Administration Signals Seriousness on Religious Freedom – Travis WeberWhy It’s Impossible To Support Both #MeToo And Planned Parenthood Without Being A Big Hypocrite – Patrina MosleyUnleashing America’s Entrepreneurial Spirit – Ken BlackwellNikki Haley’s Great Advice on Resurrecting Civil Discourse – Spenser WhiteTransgender “Revolution” is Really an Elitist Diktat – Cathy RuseDOJ Announces Timely Religious Liberty Initiative – Travis WeberRNC: Schools Must Get a “Yes” from Parents Before Teaching Radical Sex Ed – Cathy RuseThe Lies of Access and Autonomy – Hannah BorchersOhio House Bill 658: Parental Rights are Good for Children – Madeleine Lucas Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareTown Orders Family to Stop Hosting Bible Studies on Farm – ToddStarnes.comThese 6 Cases Show How Brett Kavanaugh Might Rule on Religious Freedom – Fred Lucas, The Daily SignalSchool District Threatens to Call Police After Mystery Person Gives Out Free Bibles on Campus – Will Maule, CBN NewsMuslim Who Squeezed $3M Out of SPLC for Calling Him an Anti-Muslim Extremist Says Others Also Wrongly Labeled – Jeremiah Poff, The Daily SignalChristian club rejects University of Iowa’s mandate to accept LGBT leaders – Calvin Freiburger, LifeSiteNewsAtheist Group Sues West Virginia City for Reciting Lord's Prayer at Meetings – Michael Gryboski, The Christian PostInternational Religious FreedomReligious persecution in Iran, China must end now – Mike Pompeo, USA TodayAmerican Pastor Brunson Moved from Prison to House Arrest in Turkey – Benjamin Gill, CBN NewsChina Detaining Over 1 Million Muslims in Concentration Camps but the World Is Silent, Believer Says – Samuel Smith, The Christian PostVictims of Religious Persecution Tell Their Stories at International Conference in DC – Katherine Rohloff, The Daily SignalTrinity Western and the Endangerment of Religious Pluralism in Canada – Derek Ross, Public DiscourseUS Tells Iraqi Christians Help Is on Its Way (For Real This Time) – Kate Shellnutt, Christianity TodayMilitary Religious FreedomAir Force surrenders to demand to replace Bible with generic 'book of faith' on POW/MIA table – Todd Starnes, Fox News LifeAbortionWhen Arguments Fail, What Do Pro-Lifers Do? – Liberty McArtor, The StreamPushing the abortion pill on college campuses is dangerous to women – Kristi Burton Brown, Live ActionAmazing new video illustrates humanity of preborn baby in womb – Calvin Freiburger, LifeSiteNews7th Circuit strikes down Indiana abortion ultrasound law – Dave Stafford, The Indiana LawyerPlanned Parenthood opening 14 new facilities in ‘deep red’ states – Claire Chretien, LifeSiteNewsThe Tyranny of Reproductive “Justice” – Regis Nicoll, CrisisAdoptionShould Kinship Care Be the Default Option for Kids in Foster Care? – Naomi Schaefer Riley, Family StudiesWelcoming an Adopted Baby Home Is Both Beautiful and Challenging — And Here's Why We Need to Talk About It – Marianne Garvey, BravoBioethicsChildren Are Now Being Euthanized in Belgium – Michael Cook, Intellectual TakeoutWho gets the embryos? Whoever wants to make them into babies, new law says – Ariana Eunjung Cha, The Washington PostThousands of Euthanasia Killings in Canada – Wesley J. Smith, National ReviewUK horror: Patients in ‘vegetative state’ can now be killed without consent – Cassy Fiano-Chesser, Live ActionWhat does the Bible teach about euthanasia and physician assisted suicide? – Mary Wurster, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission FamilyMarriageWe All Marry the Wrong Person – Erin Smalley, Focus on the FamilyWords of Wisdom on a Silver Anniversary – Michelle Malkin, National ReviewChildren of divorcing parents want more information and more say in what happens, study finds – Angus Randall, ABC NewsSingle Sailors Think Navy Hinders Likelihood of Marriage, Survey Says – Brock Vergakis, The Virginian-PilotOur Fixer-Upper Marriage – Stephanie Reeves, Family LifeGod remembers the barren, and so should the church – Jenn Hesse, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionParentingWhat Are Your Child’s Passions? – Dennis Prager, The StreamPodcast: Parenting through the hard seasons – Nancy Guthrie, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionThe Genetics of Parenting – Robert VerBruggen, Family StudiesI Love Being Their Mother – Jess Hunt, Her View From HomeEconomics/Education'Parents... Deserve the Right to Know': RNC Passes 'Parents' Rights' Sex Ed Resolution – Mark Martin, CBN NewsIn Search of Family Time – Amber Lapp, Family StudiesFree-Market Policies Make the Most of the Sharing Economy – Anthony B. Kim, The Daily SignalFamily Instability in Childhood Affects American Adults’ Economic Mobility – Paola Scommegna, Population Reference BureauFaith/Character/CultureWhy Gratitude Is So Good for You (and for Those Around You) – Richard Gunderman, Intellectual TakeoutThe family that prays together … feels connected, unified and bonded with less relational tension – Jon McBride, BYU NewsLiving a Life of Purpose: An Interview with Michelle Singletary – Alysse ElHage, Family StudiesHuman SexualityThe Beauty of Complementarity Goes Beyond Gender – Brett McCracken, The Gospel CoalitionWhat #MeToo and Hooking Up Teach Us About The Meaning of Sex – Elizabeth Schlueter and Nathan Schlueter, Public DiscourseThinking Deeply about Christian Love: Same-Sex Attraction, Sin, and Spiritual Friendship – Ron Belgau, Public DiscourseWhy ordinary people disregard the transgender movement as utterly insane – Jonathon Van Maren, LifeSiteNewsReligious Male Students Less Sexually Aggressive, Coercive, Study Finds – Anugrah Kumar, The Christian PostStudy finds health risks for transgender women on hormone therapy – Avichai Scher, NBC NewsHuman TraffickingThe Porn Industry and Human Trafficking Reinforce Each Other – Marlo Safi, National ReviewA Need for Child Safeguarding Policies – Lana Lichfield, National Center on Sexual ExploitationPornographyAmericans Are Rapidly Warming Up to Porn, a New Gallup Poll Shows. Here's Why – Jon Miltimore, Intellectual TakeoutHow Our More Permissive Attitudes Toward Porn May Impact Marriage – Alysse ElHage, Family StudiesPornography is First Boom in Virtual Reality – Brynne Townley, National Center on Sexual Exploitation
Speaking at the Department of Justice yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of a “Religious Liberty Task Force” to ensure the DOJ fully implements President Trump’s Religious Liberty Executive Order from May 4, 2017, and the follow-on DOJ religious liberty guidance issued on October 6, 2017.The task force will ensure that the October 6 guidance fully affects all DOJ policy, such as what cases are taken, what arguments are made in court, and how DOJ personnel conduct themselves. Dialogue between DOJ and religious groups will remain ongoing, and DOJ employees will be trained in “their duties to accommodate people of faith.”This is a welcome announcement, and further indicates the priority given to religious liberty by the Trump administration and his Department of Justice. Sessions’ opening remarks were encouraging. He discussed the cases of religious objectors such as the Little Sisters of the Poor (subjected to a legal battle to not be coerced into providing contraception against their consciences), and baker Jack Phillips (who didn’t want to create a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding), mentioning Jack’s recent vindication in the Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop decision and DOJ’s decision to file an amicus brief on his behalf. The Attorney General also mentioned he was filing a brief defending the ministerial housing allowance in an ongoing case, and discussed his department’s work to defend churches, synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship. Discussing the increasingly hostile social climate, Sessions criticized the anti-religious remarks certain senators made during recent judicial confirmation hearings, and tacitly but clearly noted the Southern Poverty Law Center’s toxic approach to public discourse:We have gotten to the point where courts have held that morality cannot be a basis for law; where ministers are fearful to affirm, as they understand it, holy writ from the pulpit; and where one group can actively target religious groups by labeling them a “hate group” on the basis of their sincerely held religious beliefs. (emphasis mine)Next, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville argued eloquently for religious liberty, noting it is derived from and must be protected consistent with human dignity. Kurtz cited the example of faith-based adoption providers, who are buttressing already-strained government foster and adoption care systems, being targeted for living out their belief that children need a mother and a father. As an example of the contributions of such groups, he mentioned an organization named “The Call” which places up to half of all adopted children in Arkansas into families. Such religious organizations do their work quietly and resolutely day after day, and many are not even aware of the value they contribute to the common good. This is real public service, and these organizations must remain free to operate according to their beliefs. Other panelists at the event, including the Heritage Foundation’s Emilie Kao, addressed the religious liberty threat of governmental authorities enforcing their own sexual orthodoxy on religious believers. Professor Michael McConnell of Stanford Law School (formerly a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit) discussed oft-used arguments that religious liberty can’t be tolerated when it causes “harm” to “third parties.” As Judge McConnell noted, however, there is always someone else who is affected by the protection of a legal claim to religious liberty—whether a government body, other group, or an individual. This is not a new concept. The fact that the law will always tangibly impact someone, combined with our historic reasons for religious liberty (the necessity of ensuring the government does not get in the way of humans being able to fulfil the responsibilities they owe to God), is the very reason the Founders put the First Amendment in the Constitution to begin with!Introducing closing speaker Senator James Lankford, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein commented on the positive contribution of religious freedom to a society, and noted Senator Lankford’s defense of Judge Amy Barrett, who came under fire for her faith when being confirmed by the Senate to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.Senator Lankford’s closing remarks powerfully explained the importance of all people being free to practice their beliefs. He mentioned the legal battle of Coach Kennedy as he sought to pray on the high school football field (something which shouldn’t be controversial), then forayed into international religious liberty issues such as China and Russia’s suppressions of religious freedom (citing a USCIRF report), as well as India’s anti-religious freedom laws. Lankford also addressed Turkey’s ongoing detention of Pastor Andrew Brunson, as well as the importance of Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback’s work. We have to set an example of religious freedom at home if we are going to argue for it overseas, Lankford rightly noted. He mentioned we must do better to protect the religious freedom of military chaplains, the need for legislation like the Conscience Protection Act and Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, and the importance of fixing the Johnson Amendment due to its chilling effect on religious speech. We must do religious freedom well (protecting the right for all faiths) at home to successfully promote it abroad. When it comes to religious freedom, we must show the world we walk the walk if we want to talk the talk. At home or abroad, as Lankford noted, religious freedom includes a robust defense of all people being able to robustly practice their faith in the public square. When this vision of religious liberty is legally protected, the battle will be one of ideas instead of a battle in the courts (or subjugation to governmental suppression of ideas).An open marketplace of religious ideas should be something all Americans can agree upon. We encourage DOJ in its effort to ensure this marketplace remains open.
I commend Jonathon Van Maren’s recent column, “Why Ordinary People Regard the Transgender Movement as Utterly Insane.”Van Maren points out that the cultural “revolutions” of today—and especially the transgender revolution—are not revolutions at all. “Revolution” suggests an uprising by the people to overthrow an oppressive government or elite class.But the transgender “revolutionaries” are, themselves, the elitists. And they push their agenda primarily from the top down. Van Maren writes:Progressive politicians, select academics, and cowed journalists might accept the ideologies of gender-fluidity, but the average working man and woman still find much of this stuff to be insane when they are confronted with the beliefs and implications of gender fluidity. These ideas are being imposed on us, not demanded by us. Trans activists are demanding that the people accept their ideas. Trans activists claim that they are championing a new understanding of gender, but it is as of yet largely confined to the elites. They say that language evolves, and that trans pronouns will be ubiquitous in no time—but not even their political allies know most of these recently invented words. Despite the lighting-fast speed at which their cultural revolution has progressed, trans activists have not actually accomplished much at the grassroots level.I suspect they know this, which is why they try so hard to force their ideologies into the schools, where they can indoctrinate the children of the working class men and women who have far too much common sense to accept their ridiculous ideas. As always, this battle will boil down to a fight for the hearts and minds of the next generation.
Our republic has a problem. Commentators have commented on it, pundits have pontificated on it—it could be the death of our society. What is this issue that could destroy our country? It is, simply, the death of civil discourse. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has been the most recent leader to address this societal problem.Since her appointment, Ambassador Haley has become a conservative “rock star” for her stunning speeches on the UN floor. At an event at The Heritage Foundation this month, the Ambassador called the UN Human Rights Council, a council which currently includes egregious human rights violators Iran and the Congo, a “cesspool of political bias.” She has defended Israel—America’s main ally in the Middle East—countless times against its detractors in the UN.Now Ambassador Haley is advising conservatives on their approach to debating and discussing ideas with those who may disagree. In a recent speech to a group of conservative high schoolers at the Turning Point USA conference at George Washington University, she commented on a recent trend by young people on social media: “Raise your hand if you’ve ever posted anything online to quote-unquote ‘own the libs.’” For those not up-to-date with modern slang, in this context, to “own” someone is to render them unable to reasonably reply to a sarcastic statement or zinger.Quite a few students raised their hands and a few cheered. The ambassador then explained her view of the tactic: “I know that it’s fun and that it can feel good, but step back and think about what you’re accomplishing when you do this—are you persuading anyone? Who are you persuading? We’ve all been guilty of it at some point or another, but this kind of speech isn’t leadership—it’s the exact opposite.” Instead, Ambassador Haley offered her own definition of leadership: “Real leadership is about persuasion, it’s about movement, it’s bringing people around to your point of view. Not by shouting them down, but by showing them how it is in their best interest to see things the way you do.”Ambassador Haley’s words line up perfectly with what Scripture says (which is not surprising, as she is a Christian). In the book of Proverbs, Solomon advises his son that “A gentle answer turns away wrath.” He then warns that the opposite, “harsh words,” only “stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). Peter writes to his readers that they should “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” and to “do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).The fundamental issue here is how we conduct discourse. Disagreements should never become merely a platform for “zingers” in and of themselves. When one or both sides resort to name calling and/or mocking their opponent rather than using reason to persuade, nothing of any value is accomplished. For example, suppose a conservative (or liberal) posts a political statement on Facebook or another social media platform, and a commenter on the other side of the aisle replies nastily to the post. The original poster has three options: not replying, replying with the same amount of ire, or replying with the purpose of persuasion. If the poster replies with “gentleness and respect,” there is a good chance that their original argument will get a fair hearing. Obviously, civil discourse needs two participants, and the commenter may not comply, but Scripture demands that we at least try to respectfully persuade our opponents.If our culture really is coming apart at the seams, as some commentators are bemoaning, then conservatives adding to the cacophony of empty rhetoric will certainly not aid in tamping down the culture war vitriol. If conservatives are correct, than we should be comfortable voicing our opinions reasonably. At the end of the day, resorting to “owning” our opponents with one liners and zingers will not convince anyone of the rightness of our side. Let us resurrect civil discourse for the future our of country.
Last week at the Republican National Committee’s Summer meeting in Texas, the nation’s parents were finally given the respect they deserve. A resolution requiring parents’ prior written consent for sex ed passed unanimously.Offered by Virginia Committeewoman Cynthia Dunbar, the resolution (full text below) states the fundamental principle that no school should expose a child to sexual material without prior written consent from his parents. The resolution encourages legislatures to pass laws to this effect.Who would disagree with this? Well, many school districts fight against having to get parents’ permission for their increasingly graphic, age-inappropriate, controversial sexuality education. Even at the RNC there was pushback in the Resolutions Committee, which passed it out of committee by a vote of 5-2 before a unanimous vote in the full body.Committeewoman Dunbar said she was thrilled that it passed. “This should not be a partisan issue. Parents everywhere deserve the right to know what their children are being taught, and afforded an opportunity to consent to it.”This is an important paradigm shift in the Sex Ed Wars. The ultimate goal, of course, is to correct the controversial, age-inappropriate, needlessly graphic content in so many sex ed programs, and to shift from a sexual risk reduction to sexual risk avoidance education model. Instead of encouraging risky sexual behavior, teens should be taught age-appropriate messages that encourage them to avoid sexually risky behavior, just as they are taught to avoid alcohol and drug use, and other risky behaviors. Until then, it is important to establish the fundamental premise that children should not be exposed to controversial sexual material without their parents’ prior consent.As it is, too many school districts assume consent on the part of parents, automatically enrolling their children in sexually-graphic lessons unless parents take steps to make them to stop, often via an “opt out” form. But the “opt out” form has long lost its use; it is completely inadequate for today’s radical sex ed.Leftist school boards routinely use the “opt out” to shield themselves from criticism (“don’t blame us, you can always opt out”) and as a sword against concerned parents (“since only X number of parents opt out, that means most families agree with us!”). In reality, parents have no idea the poison schools are pouring down their kids throats. What’s worse, schools mislead parents about the true content of their sex ed lessons. Many comprehensive sex ed courses that encourage risky behavior even employ abstinence messaging to hide the majority of their curriculum. A lesson labeled “abstinence” in the Fairfax County curriculum, for example, is not really about abstinence at all – it tells kids to refrain from sex until their next steady sex partner. Another labeled “Middle School Changes” is about encouraging children to consider LGBT orientation and identity.The sheer amount of material is daunting. In Fairfax County, there are more than 80 hours of sex lessons for every child – imagine the mountain of lesson scripts, slides, and videos a parent has to review to make an informed and educated decision about whether to opt out.“Opt out” allows school boards to take advantage of parents, especially working parents, single parents, recent immigrant parents. How many parents expect their school to give their son a lesson with 18 mentions of “anal sex,” suggest to their daughter that she might have been born in the wrong body, talk about oral sex with their 12-year old, or recommend daily sex drugs for their high schooler to support a lifestyle of multiple sex partners of unknown HIV status? As I say, parents have no idea what their schools are teaching; they trust their local schools, and schools take advantage of that trust. Teaching kids to engage in risky sexual behavior not only fails to reduce the negative consequences of such behavior, but to do so without their parents’ informed consent is downright wicked.Prior written consent respects parents. “Opt out” says: Catch us if you can! Forty years ago, when Sex Ed was 2 hours in 6th grade on the basics of human development and reproduction, an “opt out” procedure might have made some sense. Today it is woefully inadequate.This is why the resolution passed in Texas is so important. It shifts the burden away from parents having to say “no,” to schools having to get a written parental “yes”! Parents and children deserve no less.RESOLUTION PROTECTING STUDENTS FROM EXPOSURE TO POTENTIALLY UNSUITABLE CONTENT BY SUPPORTING A PARENT’S RIGHT TO GRANT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT FOR SEX EDUCATIONWHEREAS, parents are a child’s first and foremost educators, and have primary responsibility for the education of their children. Parents have a right to direct their children’s education, care, and upbringing;1WHEREAS, education is much more than schooling. Education is the whole range of activities by which families and communities transmit to a younger generation, not just knowledge and skills, but ethical and behavioral norms and traditions. It is the handing over of a cultural identity; 2WHEREAS, American education has, for the last several decades, been the focus of constant controversy, as centralizing forces from outside the family and community have sought to remake education in order to remake America. This has done immense damage;3WHEREAS, school administrators routinely ask parents for their prior written permission for students to participate in various school-related instruction and activities, including, but not limited to: field trips, sports, and distribution of medicine;WHEREAS, parents and their students should be afforded the same respect with regard to the increasingly sensitive and controversial nature of human sexuality instruction;WHEREAS, much of the content in human sexuality instruction centers on contentious and sensitive issues, including but not limited to: abortion, birth control, sexual activity, sexual orientation, transgenderism, and/or gender identity;WHEREAS, the content often includes a personal analysis or survey that reflects or influences the student’s opinions on sensitive topics such as religious beliefs and practices, sexual orientation, and/or sexual activity;WHEREAS, most states grant an obscenity exemption that allows content that would otherwise be deemed harmful to minors to be disseminated for educational purposes, creating the potential for inappropriate content to be included within human sexuality instruction;WHEREAS, such information, content, or ideology is most appropriately placed within the discretion of the parents or guardians;WHEREAS, the current opt-out paradigm assumes parental consent to student participation, allowing schools to automatically enroll students in potentially explicit, sensitive, and/or controversial human sexuality instruction without prior written permission;WHEREAS, human sexuality instruction frequently places the wishes and concerns of the parents and/or guardians at odds with those of the school district; andWHEREAS, the wishes and concerns of the parents and/or guardians are preeminent to those of the School District and should be acknowledged by simply affording parents and/or guardians the right to grant permission for such instruction; thereforeRESOLVED, that public schools must disclose the content contained within human sexuality instruction to the parents and/or guardians of all unemancipated students and shall only enroll those students whose parents and/or guardians provide prior written permission to opt their student into human sexuality instruction;RESOLVED, that the default shall be that no human sexuality instruction shall be provided to any student not yet emancipated without prior written consent from their parent and/or guardian, making an opt-out default an insufficient protection for either the safety of the student or the rights of the parent;RESOLVED, that all state legislatures are encouraged to enact legislation that implements these notices and safeguards to protect students from exposure to potentially inappropriate and salacious content and to acknowledge the right of the parents and/or guardians to direct their children’s education, care, and upbringing, including their right to protect them from exposure to content they find unsuitable.Adopted by the Republican National Committee, _______________________ 1 Platform of the Republican Party, Issued by the Republican National Committee, page 33 (2016, Cleveland, Ohio).2 Id.3 Id.
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