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Dear Friends,A common misconception about Christianity that has drawn many away from practicing it is that it has “too many rules” about moral behavior. Prohibitions against things like premarital sex and drunkenness are seen as arbitrary laws that impinge on people’s “freedom” to do what they want. The Ten Commandments are constantly ridiculed in popular culture (and even deliberately destroyed with cars) as hopelessly old-fashioned and obsolete.What many have failed to see is that having boundaries for moral behavior is actually freeing. An excellent analogy for this is to picture a train on railroad tracks. Strictly speaking, one could look at a train on the tracks and think, “That train is clearly being restricted by the tracks—if it could only be free of the tracks, it would have more leeway to go where it pleases.” But common sense tells us that trains are dependent on railroad tracks to keep their wheels aligned and to allow them to travel great distances at high speeds in a very efficient way—tracks give trains the freedom to operate as they were designed to operate. Anyone who has seen a train going off the tracks knows full well of the disastrous results.When we go “off the rails,” the results aren’t pretty—bad choices can be clearly judged by their fruits (Luke 6:43-45). For example, premarital sex most often leads to broken hearts and STDs, and drunkenness leads to loss of self-control and can cause the physical endangerment of others.God created us in order that we might fully flourish and be happy by following His precepts—the “railroad tracks” that are designed for this purpose. We see evidence of this in our lives as faithful Christians, as explained here: “The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to ‘the slavery of sin’” (Romans 6:17). May we always walk in the Truth of Christ, which will set us free (John 8:32).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 ArticlesOn Trump's pick of Kavanaugh, conservatives should trust but verify – Tony PerkinsForcing faith-based agencies out of the system is a disservice to women – Mary Beth WaddellIn Win for Religious Freedom, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Reminds Us Why Judicial Nominations Matter – Travis WeberWhy California Senate Bill 320 is Harmful to Women’s Mental Health – Sarah StewartWhy the Hysteria Over Roe? Because it Would Strike a Blow to Eugenics – Patrina MosleyWill the Supreme Court Save Sexual Orientation Change Efforts? – Peter Sprigg Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareCalifornia bill banning books, therapy to help unwanted gay attraction stalls amid lawsuit fears – Calvin Freiburger, LifeSiteNewsWisconsin’s Marquette Decision Is A Big Win For Free Speech And A Sign Of Trouble – Margot Cleveland, The FederalistMaryland Church Banned from Services in Its Own Building Fights Back in Court – Josh Shepherd, The StreamPastor under fire for high school football devotional – Todd Starnes, Fox NewsPlanet Fitness bans woman for objecting to sharing locker room with ‘transgender’ man – Doug Mainwaring, LifeSiteNewsJudge sides with University of Iowa Christian student group accused of discrimination – Vanessa Miller, The GazetteGOP Volunteers Kicked Out of Uber As Driver Says ‘Welcome To The Resistance’ – Julia Cohen, The Daily CallerUniversity of Minnesota mulls expelling students for not using transgender pronouns – Calvin Freiburger, LifeSiteNewsInternational Religious Freedom'Pure Genocide': Over 6,000 Nigerian Christians Slaughtered, Mostly Women and Children – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostReligious Persecution Again Rises Worldwide – Doug Bandow, The American SpectatorA British Doctor Is Fired for Affirming Biological Reality – Michael Brown, The StreamIn Nicaragua, Paramilitaries Attack Bishop and Besiege Students at Church – National Catholic RegisterTurkish Court Sends American Pastor Brunson Back to Prison – Jennifer Wishon, CBN NewsMilitary Religious FreedomMilitary Sees Increase In Conflicts Over First Amendment Freedoms – Nicole Russell, The Federalist LifeAbortion3 reasons why Roe v. Wade will fall, despite past Supreme Court decisions – Kristi Burton Brown, Live ActionA Closer Look at NIFLA v. Becerra and the Role of Crisis Pregnancy Centers – Helen Alvaré, Family StudiesThe Jewish Position On Abortion Isn’t What You Think It Is – Mitchell Rocklin and Howard Slugh, Public DiscourseJudge Rules Trump Administration Can Defund Planned Parenthood Abortion Biz – Steven Ertelt, LifeNewsAdoptionThis Woman's Search for Her Birth Mother Comes With a Beautiful Message About the Gift of Adoption – Katie Franklin, The Christian PostPoll: Ensure All Adoption Agencies Can Continue to Serve Families and Children – Elizabeth Fender, Heritage FoundationFamilies Warn of 'Devastating' Consequences If Adoption Agencies Are Shut Down Over Gay Marriage Beliefs – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostBioethicsOpponents of Assisted Suicide Offer a Message of Hope – Kathryn Jean Lopez, The Stream FamilyMarriageThree Sisters, Three Weddings in Three Months – Patti Armstrong, National Catholic RegisterMaximizing Everyday Moments in Your Marriage – Greg Smalley, Focus on the FamilyThe Best Way to Properly Apologize to Your Spouse – Ted Cunningham, Focus on the FamilyParenting6 Reasons Millennials Should Stop And Embrace Parenthood – Melissa Langsam Braunstein, The FederalistWhy Parents Should Encourage Risky Play – Justin Coulson, Family StudiesEconomics/EducationDecision to live together negatively affects wealth accumulation – Iowa State UniversityCongress should end marriage penalties in the tax code and welfare system – Erik Randolph, Georgia Center for OpportunityFaith/Character/CultureWhat Is Best in Life? Jesus And the Mayo Clinic Know! – Elizabeth Scalia, Word on FireSteve Ditko’s Great Gift To The World: ‘With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility’ – Aaron Gleason, The FederalistHow conversations with my father have shaped my faith – Benjamin Ball, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionThe Extinction of the Middle Child – Adam Sternbergh, The CutThe Most Dangerous Place to Live: The Subtle Perils of the Past – Greg Morse, Desiring GodI Advocated Civility, But Didn't Practice it When it Mattered – Liberty McArtor, The StreamHuman SexualityWhat do I do if my child doesn’t seem to fit with typical gender norms? – Jared Kennedy, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionPodcast: Am I Less Human If I’m Sexually Unfulfilled? – Sam Allberry, Desiring GodThe Myth of the "Desistance Myth" – Julian Vigo, Public DiscourseFor Women’s Health, Maybe It’s Time to Focus on Natural Pregnancy Prevention Methods – Maria Archer, Family StudiesHuman Trafficking277 Arrested In Huge Florida Undercover Sex Trafficking Sting – Fight the New DrugIn Minnesota, Porn Is Now Officially Recognized As A Contributor To Human Trafficking – Fight the New DrugOne Train Passenger’s Tweet Saved 25 Girls From Human Trafficking – Fight the New DrugPornographyIs Pornography Use Increasing Loneliness, Particularly for Young People? – Mark Butler, Family StudiesYour Friend Just Told You They Struggle With Porn—Now What Do You Do? – Fight the New DrugGroundbreaking Study Finds Video Game Addiction Is Linked To Compulsive Porn Use – Fight the New Drug“My Life Isn’t Your Porn” – Thousands of Women are Protesting Spycam Pornography – Lana Lichfield, National Center on Sexual ExploitationSmartphones have given your teen daughter a secret life – and it’s destroying her – Jonathon Van Maren, LifeSiteNews
Two days ago, in a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in favor of the freedom of the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops to live out their faith as it pertains to pro-life issues. Close votes like this remind us of the importance of judicial nominations, along with why it matters that we have judges who understand religious freedom law.After Texas passed a law requiring the remains of unborn children to be properly cared for, pro-abortion groups challenged it, and used the lawsuit to harass and compel information from the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops (TCCB)—who had been supportive of caring for these babies’ remains. The TCCB wasn’t even a party to the case, but out of animus against its pro-life work, the pro-abortion groups tried to force it to turn over all sorts of internal communications which normally would not be disclosed as part of the discovery process. Unfortunately, in a bizarre sequence of actions for which we may never know the reason, a district court judge obliged the abortion groups, forcing the TCCB to turn over internal communications pertaining to the group’s motivations and religious workings in violation of the First Amendment—all under a ridiculously tight timeline—and all on a Sunday, Father’s Day, no less.Thankfully, the Fifth Circuit reversed this absurd discovery order, with Judge Edith Jones penning the opinion, joined by Judge James Ho (a recent Trump appointee). Judge Jones wrote that the lower court’s “analysis was incorrectly dismissive of the seriousness of the issues raised by TCCB,” such as the inherent danger in forcing groups to disclose “internal communications within a religious body concerning its activities in the public square to advance and protect its position on serious moral or political issues”—which the First Amendment clearly protects.Agreeing with Judge Jones, newly-confirmed Judge James Ho wrote in a separate concurrence that “[i]t is hard to imagine a better example of how far we have strayed from the text and original understanding of the Constitution than this case. The First Amendment expressly guarantees the free exercise of religion—including the right of the Bishops to express their profound objection to the moral tragedy of abortion, by offering free burial services for fetal remains. By contrast, nothing in the text or original understanding of the Constitution prevents a state from requiring the proper burial of fetal remains.”He concluded that the “proceedings below” are “troubling,” and “leave this Court to wonder if this discovery is sought . . . to retaliate against people of faith for not only believing in the sanctity of life—but also for wanting to do something about it.”Indeed. We have seen this type of harassment of religious groups before, when the City of Houston sought internal communications from pastors and churches during a lawsuit to which they were not parties—actions reasonably expected to harass these pastors and chill their activities in violation of the First Amendment.The fact that the Fifth Circuit’s ruling was decided by one vote should remind us all of the importance of confirming good jurists like Judges Jones and Ho, and the cost of not doing so. Our religious freedom, and our nation’s fidelity to the Constitution, hang in the balance.
The California legislature is considering a bill, which would endanger the mental health of many of its college students, all in the name of women's health. Senate Bill 320 was introduced by Senator Leyva with the intended purpose to make medication abortions readily accessible to women on public college campuses. The bill establishes a fund to help make the facilities ready to provide these abortions by January of 2019. The bill's author claims that these abortion services are necessary to ensure women's health and success in college. This language appeals to many college age girls, who may not fully understand the emotional ramifications of undergoing an abortion procedure. Many girls will not stop to question why an abortion would allow them to be successful, or if it will, in the long-term, lead instead to greater pain and regret. Instead, this bill will encourage them to make a life altering decision with little reflection, and, by the time they recognize that success alongside motherhood is possible, it will be too late to change their minds. We should pause before advocating to a generation of young women that their success in any way may require sacrificing the life of their own child.The bill keeps women in the dark as to what is really at stake. The Senate Health Committee bill analysis states, "women should not have to wait additional time or travel long distances when they may have already decided to end their pregnancy." The California legislative website provides six bill analyses with similar claims, all of which address the physical safety for women who undergo this procedure. Yet neither the bill nor the analyses provided address the mental health concerns caused by abortion. If this bill is intended to better women's health in some way, their psychological health should absolutely be made a factor in the discussion. This is precisely what is being ignored.A recent analysis in the British Journal of Psychiatry of 22 studies has shown that having an abortion negatively impacts women's mental health. One of the studies analyzed had as its control group women with unintended pregnancies, those who underwent an abortion fared worse mentally than those who carried their unintended pregnancies to term. The analysis of all 22 studies detailed that women who were post-abortive were more likely to have issues with substance abuse and had greater anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts than non-abortive women. In addition a study in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence was conducted of adolescents who had undergone abortion procedures. While it did not study suicide rates, it demonstrated an increase in need for counseling, as well as an increase in sleep disorders, and substance abuse. Even so, none of this was discussed in either the legislation or the bill analyses. Mental health should be an important concern for those advancing this legislation, but it is not, and the statistics do not support abortion as being beneficial for women's mental health. This needs to be a significant part of the discussion in any bill, which claims to advocate for women's health and success in college.With all abortions, women face increased likelihood of mental health issues, but there is an element unique to medication abortions. Medication abortions are fundamentally different from surgical abortions. One procedure takes place in a facility with a medical practitioner, while in the other the mother is often alone at home during this stressful and emotional experience. She will have to dispose of and see the remains of her aborted child.Medication abortions are a two-step process. After it is determined that the woman is pregnant, she takes the first pill. This blocks necessary hormones and breaks down the lining of the uterus. This will eventually kill the baby. After 6-72 hours, the woman then takes a second pill, and causes her to start having contractions, which leads to the uterine lining as well as the unborn child to be expelled from her body. The woman often at home alone during this traumatic experience, or, in this case, quite possibly alone in her dorm room. She will go through this second stage for hours. She will be in pain. She will most likely be alone, and, quite possibly, she will see her aborted child. This procedure can only be conducted for the first ten weeks of pregnancy. By that point, the unborn child will quite clearly look like a very small baby, and the mom will be able to see the miniature fingers and toes. The mother, a young college student, will be responsible for disposing of the remains of her child.[1] Miscarriages, while undesired, are traumatic. For a young woman to go through a medical abortion alone has great potential to take a great emotional toll.According to Planned Parenthood, medication abortions are similar to an "early miscarriage" or a "really heavy period." This, however, ignores the fact that woman has intentionally taken medication that has led to the death of her child. For this reason, medication abortions are significantly different from a woman's menstrual cycle. To compare it to miscarriage ignores this, and it is a slap in the face to all parents who have lost their child to miscarriage and have been deeply devastated by the process. The California Senate Committee on Health's analysis also uses language making this comparison. It states, "The two-pill process leads to a result similar to a miscarriage." Pro-life advocates need to first stand against this legislation and urge their representatives to vote against its implementation. They also need to be aware and educate others that it is possible to reverse medication abortions. For the best possible result, treatment should be administered within 24 hours, but patients are accepted up until 72 hours after the first pill has been taken. With this treatment, there is a 55 percent success rate for women who decide that they want to reverse the abortion, and there is no record of birth defects. It will be essential for pro-life advocates to get this information to college students in California. Finally, they need to be ready to care for post-abortive women. They will need to care for the young mothers, who are themselves victims of abortion and help them through the long healing process.[1] Randy Alcorn. Why Pro-life? Caring for the Unborn and Their Mothers. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishing Marketing, LLC, 2012) 18.
It’s quite telling that the first reaction of many on the Left after Supreme Court Justice Kennedy’s retirement announcement was panic at the thought of a possible reversal of Roe v. Wade. With each new possible Supreme Court Justice nominee, the immediate outrage from the Left has been “Roe v. Wade! Abortion rights will be overturned!” Really? Abortion rights is the only thing they can think of when the possibility of getting a new conservative judge on the court comes up?There are plenty of other possible Supreme Court reversals that should keep them up at night. For example, the 1962 Engel v. Vitale decision said that school official-initiated prayer in public schools somehow violates the First Amendment. (Overturned! Time to call the snake handlers and tell them they’re back in business! Just kidding.) Or even the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges 5-4 decision, particularly in light of how the legalization of same-sex marriage has impacted religious freedom, in which the recent Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission decision could set a precedent. Yet, condemning the supposed “constitutional right” to kill another innocent human being is horrifying to them. Why? Because it’s not about abortion rights or about women rights, it about eugenics. That’s not to say that all people who are pro-choice are in favor of or even aware of the eugenic influence of the abortion industry.Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution provided the basis for the eugenics philosophy, in which “natural selection” was understood to favor certain races over “lesser races,” which became the foundation for eliminating “undesirables” (non-whites, the poor, the mentally and physically handicapped) so that the population was eugenically controlled to produce only the “right” kinds of people (white, wealthy, high intellect). His cousin and follower, Sir Francis Galton, is known as the father of eugenics because of his dedicated research and advancement of “the study of agencies under social control that may improve or impair the racial qualities of future generations either physically or mentally.” This philosophy attracted many “elites” of society, who were often wealthy, powerful, and racist, who desired to put thought into practice.The eugenics movement gave birth to the abortion industry, which has been a major campaign contributor to the Democratic Party for decades (which has historically been the party of slavery, Jim Crow, and the KKK) in exchange for protecting “abortion rights.” There has been big money backing this philosophy since the early 20th century, including the Rockefellers, Andrew Carnegie, the Weisman Institute, and many others. The U.S. abortion policy is the pinnacle success of the American Eugenics Society (AES), which included members such as Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood (originally called the American Birth Control League), William Vogt, and Alan Guttmacher, who were both former Planned Parenthood presidents. And yes, that’s Alan Guttmacher of the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute.Sanger’s organization changed its name to Planned Parenthood to invoke less political implications, and began to focus marketing efforts on “maternal health” and “family planning.” At the annual Galton Lecture of 1956, Fredrick Osborn, the head of the American Eugenics Society, said: “Let’s stop telling everyone that they have generally inferior genetic qualities for they will never agree. Let’s base our proposals on the desirability of having children in homes where they will get affectionate and responsible care, and perhaps our proposals will be accepted.”It is no accident that today, nearly 80 percent of Planned Parenthood clinics are in minority communities, and although 13 percent of American women are black, they receive over 35 percent of the abortions - Margret Sanger’s: dream no doubt –“We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population.” It is also no mistake that the plaintiffs in the case of Roe v. Wade wanted to use someone they thought they could manipulate when they found Norma McCorvey (Roe).Abortion is the Pinnacle Achievement of the Eugenics PhilosophyGhastly connections can be drawn from the marketing of eugenics as “family planning” to abortion. The pinnacle achievement of this disingenuous and sinister movement is the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. In the majority opinion of Roe. v. Wade written by Justice Blackmun, he consults the works of the members of the British and American eugenics societies, lower federal court cases that “expressly invoked overpopulation as a basis for legalizing abortion,” Buck v. Bell, and other projects and organizations which contributed ideology and tactics to controlling the population growth of the “poor” and “uneducated.”Blackmun’s opening paragraph even acknowledges the political and philosophical implications of proceeding with unrestricted access to abortion by stating: “In addition, population growth, pollution, poverty, and racial overtones tend to complicate and not to simplify the problem.” He goes on to cite Glanville Williams (footnotes 9 and 21), a fellow of the British Eugenics society, president of the Abortion Law Reform Association, vice president of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, and advisor to Britain’s Birth Control Commission. In Williams’ book, The Sanctity of Life and the Criminal Law, he states: “There is, in addition, the problem of eugenic quality. We now have a large body of evidence that, since industrialization, the upper stratum of society fails to replace itself, while the population as a whole is increased by excess births among the lower and uneducated classes.”Blackmun also cites Lawrence Lader’s book Abortion (who also wrote Breeding Ourselves to Death) is cited seven times (footnotes 9, 21, 26, 33, 44, 57, 58)—and indirectly relied on the people and groups to whom Lader’s book expressed profuse gratitude: Glanville Williams, Christopher Tietze, and at least five additional AES members that included Alan Guttmacher, officers of England’s leading abortion rights group, the Abortion Law Reform Association (whose leaders included Julian Huxley), and 27 members of the British eugenics society. Planned Parenthood was also an amicus curiae (friend of the court) to the opinion.In addition, Blackmun cites the American Public Health Association (APHA), who openly praised Germany’s sterilization program and who would later publish an article praising abortion as a method of population control:It would appear that legalization of abortion is probably the single most effective and practical measure that can be taken to lower the birthrate, and, by doing so, preserve the environment from further deterioration.Notably, Blackmun also cites The Biological Time Bomb, “The New Biology and the Future of Man,” and many more eugenic references. An article from the The Human Life Review, reposted by Orthodoxy Today, provides an in-depth account of how the financial and ideological backing of the eugenics movement lead directly to Roe v. Wade. It is no secret among the elite and powerful that abortion is not so much about a woman’s body as it is the method of controlling the breeding of those they deem unfit to have children anyways. In a National Review article, the author reveals this:In an interview with Elle, [Justice] Ginsburg said, “It makes no sense as a national policy to promote birth only among poor people.” That wasn’t 1927 — it was 2014. A co-counsel for the winning side of Roe v. Wade, Ron Weddington, advised President Bill Clinton that an expanded national birth-control policy incorporating ready access to pharmaceutical abortifacients promised immediate benefits: “You can start immediately to eliminate the barely educated, unhealthy, and poor segment of our country. It’s what we all know is true, but we only whisper it.” Just two months after Roe v. Wade was decided, The American Eugenics Society changed its name to “The Society for the Study of Social Biology,” to encourage greater acceptance and more discreet advancement of their agenda. Their announcement reassured the public that “The change of name of the Society does not coincide with any change of its interests or policies.” Its former head and leading eugenicist Frederick Osborn also explained the reason for the new name of their journal, from Eugenics Journal to Social Biology: “The name was changed because it became evident that changes of a eugenic nature would be made for reasons other than eugenics, and that tying a eugenic label on them would more often hinder than help their adoption. Birth control and abortion are turning out to be great eugenic advances of our time...”The historical record shows that the poison of racism and elitism definitively infected the origins of the abortion rights movement by way of the eugenics movement, whose philosophical ideas have continued to this day. Overturning Roe v. Wade would be a monumental step in reversing this repulsive legacy of American life.
Dear Friends,Many in our culture today think of Jesus as a kind of domesticated philosopher who had some polite things to say about how everyone should be nice to each other. Christ’s actual words in the gospels, however, reveal just how subversive he truly was 2,000 years ago and remains to this day. When I say “subversive,” I don’t mean in the sense of dissident rebellion towards society. I mean that the demands that Jesus placed on our human capacity for love were and are truly revolutionary and formidable. Consider these words from the fifth chapter of Matthew’s gospel:“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment…”And again: “You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”And again: “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.”And again: “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”If we are honest with ourselves, these words should shake us to our core, because they sound impossibly impractical and superhumanly difficult to put into practice. We all fail at doing what Christ tells us to do in these verses with such routine regularity that his words can seem almost absurd at times. The reason for this can be traced all the way back to the beginning. Ever since our earliest ancestors fell into temptation in the Garden of Eden, we humans have been stuck in a default setting of selfishness—our fallen natural instinct is to be comfortable in our own self-righteous anger, lust, defensiveness, and loathing. Christ’s teachings completely subvert our inclinations, calling us to a higher and greater way of being. Since Christ is one with God the Father—our Creator—he has perfect understanding of man’s fallen nature. Therefore, his teachings are ultimately designed for our complete restoration—to bring about the apex of human flourishing, fulfillment, and happiness—as it was meant to be from the beginning.Many in our society put Jesus in the “nice guy who said nice things” box and insist that “niceness” is all he stood for. What they do not realize, and what we believers must fight for, is this truth: that Jesus is a full rebuke of the “think whatever you want to think” and “do whatever feels right” mentality. In this age of confusion, where identities, emotions, and urges rule the day, there is nothing more subversive than Jesus. But the paradox is that there is nothing more attractive, either—who doesn’t want to be happy and fulfilled?This, then, is the challenge for believers: to help unbelievers rediscover their original design before the fall by living out Christ’s radically challenging teachings in our own lives. 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 ArticlesAmerica Celebrates Another Freedom Revolution – Ken BlackwellKeep kids with parents at border — and remember how we got here – Tony PerkinsAre Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg For or Against Religious Hostility? – Travis Weber and Andrew RockThe Little-Known Figures Who Had an Outsized Impact on the Masterpiece Cakeshop Decision – Peter SpriggThe Freedom to Serve: Why Religious Adoption Agencies Must Be Protected – Spenser White Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareA culture of freedom keeps winning at the Supreme Court – Andrew T. Walker, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionSCOTUS Invalidates Ruling Against Christian Florist – Hank Berrien, The Daily WireSouthern Poverty Law Center's settlement with 'extremist' organization dings credibility – Valerie Richardson, The Washington TimesFloral Artist Faced Same Intolerance as Jack Phillips – Kristen Waggoner, National ReviewSupreme Court Reverses Ruling Against Kansas Woman Told by Police to Stop Praying in Her Home – Michael Gryboski, The Christian PostFaith and courage – Ray Hacke, WORLDSCOTUS allows lower court to ban prayer from public square – Daniel Horowitz, Conservative ReviewInternational Religious FreedomPresident Buhari, Please Stop the Muslim Slaughter of Nigerian Christians – Michael Brown, The StreamCountries increasing legal restrictions on religion, survey finds – Bradford Richardson, The Washington TimesCanadian Bus Driver Arrested Two Years Later For Criticizing Homosexuality – Jeremiah Keenan, The Federalist LifeAbortionPro-Life Advocates Celebrate Supreme Court Decision Striking Down Law Forcing Abortion Promotion – Steven Ertelt, LifeNewsWhy The Supreme Court’s Ruling Will Protect All Pregnancy Centers From Forcibly Promoting Abortion – Margot Cleveland, The FederalistOverturning Roe v. Wade is a Major Step. But Changing Hearts Is the Endgame – Liberty McArtor, The StreamHow to Overturn Roe – Josh Craddock, First ThingsAdoptionPhiladelphia Bans Catholic Agency From Placing Foster Kids with Christian Families – Charlene Aaron, CBN NewsMore Adopted Children, Who Are Adults Now, Look For Birth Parents – Ashley Westerman, NPRHow Being Adopted Made My Husband a Better Father – Marcia Kester Doyle, Her View From HomeComparing Border Children To U.S. Foster Kids Proves The Outrage Is Disgustingly Selective – Donna Carol Voss, The FederalistAdoption Is Love – Heather Duckworth, Her View From HomeBioethicsPhysician Assisted Suicide and the Rise of Suicide Cults – Grace Emily Stark, Public DiscourseJahi McMath, the teen doctors tried to declare dead five years ago, has died – Cassy Fiano, Live ActionObamacareTrump’s New Health Initiative Will Spell Relief for Americans – Robert Moffit, The Daily Signal FamilyMarriage35 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage – Brad & Heidi Mitchell, The StreamWant a better marriage? These core values keep families close – Linda Lewis Griffith, The TribuneFertility and Marriage: An Underappreciated Link – Angela Rachidi, Family StudiesHow Asking For My Husband’s Help Around the House Changed My Life – Elisa Cinelli, Her View From HomeThis Two-Step Process Can Cure Your Lonely Marriage – Greg Smalley, Focus on the FamilyEconomics/EducationTeaching Children How to Manage Money – Laurie DeRose, Family StudiesFor Young Adults, Economic Security Matters for Marriage – Benjamin Gurrentz, U.S. Census BureauFaith/Character/CultureTen Thousand Small Trials: How God Fits Us for Glory – Scott Hubbard, Desiring GodNew Mister Rogers Documentary Is Full Of Surprises About An American Icon – Josh Shepherd, The FederalistHow Flourishing Families Cultivate Great Art – Ashley McGuire, Family StudiesThe Seven Things You Need to Know About Forgiveness – Rob Schwarzwalder, The StreamThe Most Damaging Attitude in Our Churches – C.M. Joyner, RelevantGloom in The Time of Oculus – Matthew Becklo, Word on FireThe American Library Association’s criticism of Little House entirely misses the mark – Megan Basham, WORLDGeneration Vexed – Lois M. Collins and Sara Israelsen-Hartley, Deseret NewsThe Joyful Longing of Paul McCartney’s ‘Carpool Karaoke’ – Brett McCracken, The Gospel CoalitionHuman SexualityScientists Have Unwittingly Revealed that the Obergefell Decision Did Nothing to Diminish Sexual Minority Distress – Mark Regnerus, Public Discourse‘Struggling’ with Same-Sex Attractions? – Hudson Byblow, National Catholic RegisterThe FBI Says Sexual Assaults on Flights Increasing ‘At An Alarming Rate’ – National Center on Sexual ExploitationHuman TraffickingTwelve Days of Action: It’s Time to Raise Your Voice – National Center on Sexual ExploitationPornographyThe Brain’s Delete Button: How You Can Erase Years Of Watching Porn – Fight the New DrugStudy Shows How Watching Porn Could Seriously Increase Your Divorce Risk – Fight the New Drug
There are significant differences between pro-life pregnancy resource centers that seek to provide pregnant women with alternatives to abortion and pro-family therapists or counselors that seek to provide people with unwanted same-sex attractions with an alternative to a homosexual identity and lifestyle. However, they have one thing in common—they are both loathed by the sexual revolutionaries. And in both cases, anti-faith “progressives” have tried to employ the machinery of government in an effort to legally stifle the work and message of these groups or individuals.The recent Supreme Court ruling in NIFLA v. Becerra on the rights of pregnancy resource centers has given new legal hope to the practitioners of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), which legislators in several states have now banned for clients under age 18. (Others have written about this development here and here.)NIFLA dealt with a California law, supported by abortion proponents, which required pregnancy resource centers to post specific, government-prescribed notices. Centers with a medical license were required to post a notice indicating how women could obtain abortions; unlicensed centers were required to post a prominent notice to the effect that they were not licensed to provide medical care. One network of pregnancy centers, the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) sued.In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down that law, ruling that it compelled the pregnancy centers to proclaim a message they didn’t want to, in violation of the First Amendment.Like NIFLA in the pregnancy center context, defenders of the right to seek counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attractions (and of the right to offer such counseling) have argued that free speech also protects their activities. In challenges to laws banning sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) with minors by licensed mental health providers in California and New Jersey, they argued that such laws in effect limit what a counselor or therapist may say to a client in the privacy of his or her office, and thus infringe upon the free speech of the care-giver.Courts in two federal circuits rejected those arguments. But one of those decisions, Pickup v. Brown, came in for unfavorable attention in Justice Clarence Thomas’s majority opinion in the NIFLA case—thus raising serious doubts about whether these therapy bans could survive scrutiny by the Supreme Court.California’s therapy ban was actually challenged in two separate lawsuits. In Welch v. Brown, a U.S. district court struck down the law, but in Pickup a district court judge upheld it. The Ninth Circuit consolidated the two cases on appeal, and a three-judge panel upheld the finding in Pickup and overturned the one in Welch.The plaintiffs then appealed for en banc review by the full Ninth Circuit court, but they were rejected. However, three judges dissented from the denial of en banc review, backed by a strong opinion by Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain.The Pickup opinion rested in part on the assertion that speech engaged in by licensed professionals in the course of their work is somehow exempt from scrutiny under the First Amendment (“SB 1172, as a regulation of professional conduct, does not violate the free speech rights of SOCE practitioners . . .”). This is exactly the argument that Justice Thomas rejected in his majority opinion in NIFLA. What is particularly striking is how much Justice Thomas’s majority opinion in NIFLA resembles Judge O’Scannlain’s dissenting opinion in the Pickup appeal.Check out the comparison (citations, except to the Pickup case, are omitted):Justice Clarence Thomas, U.S. Supreme Court, NIFLA v. Becerra (majority opinion) June 26, 2018. . .[p. 6-8]The First Amendment, applicable to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment, prohibits laws that abridge the freedom of speech. When enforcing this prohibition, our precedents distinguish between content-based and content-neutral regulations of speech. Content-based regulations “target speech based on its communicative content.” As a general matter, such laws “are presumptively unconstitutional and may be justified only if the government proves that they are narrowly tailored to serve compelling state interests.” This stringent standard reflects the fundamental principle that governments have “‘no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content.’”The licensed notice is a content-based regulation of speech. By compelling individuals to speak a particular message, such notices “alte[r] the content of [their]speech.”. . .­ Although the licensed notice is content based, the Ninth Circuit did not apply strict scrutiny because it concluded that the notice regulates “professional speech.” Some Courts of Appeals have recognized “profes­sional speech” as a separate category of speech that is subject to different rules. See, e.g., . . . Pickup v. Brown, 740 F. 3d 1208, 1227–1229 (CA9 2014) . . . . These courts define “professionals” as indi­viduals who provide personalized services to clients and who are subject to “a generally applicable licensing and regulatory regime.” . . . Pickup, supra, at 1230. “Professional speech” is then defined as any speech by these individuals that is based on “[their] expert knowledge and judgment,” or that is “within the confines of [the] professional relationship,” Pickup, supra, at 1228. So defined, these courts except professional speech from the rule that content-based regulations of speech are subject to strict scru­tiny. See . . . Pickup, supra, at 1053– 1056 . . . .But this Court has not recognized “professional speech” as a separate category of speech. Speech is not unprotected merely because it is uttered by “professionals.” This Court has “been reluctant to mark off new categories of speech for diminished constitutional protection.” And it has been especially reluctant to “exemp[t] a category of speech from the normal prohibition on content-based restrictions.” This Court’s prece­dents do not permit governments to impose content-based restrictions on speech without “‘persuasive evidence . . . of a long (if heretofore unrecognized) tradition’” to that effect.This Court’s precedents do not recognize such a tradi­tion for a category called “professional speech.”Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Pickup v. Brown (dissent from denial of en banc review)January 29, 2014. . .The Federal courts have never recognized a freestanding exception to the First Amendment for state professional regulations. Indeed authoritative precedents have established that neither professional regulations generally, nor even a more limited subclass of such rules, remain categorically outside of the First Amendment’s reach. . . . The Supreme Court, however, has clearly warned us inferior courts against arrogating to ourselves “any ‘freewheeling authority to declare new categories of speech outside the scope of the First Amendment.’” The panel cites no case holding that speech, uttered by professionals to their clients, does not actually constitute “speech” for purposes of the First Amendment. And that should not surprise us—for the Supreme Court has not recognized such a category.IIIThe Supreme Court has chastened us lower courts for creating, out of whole cloth, new categories of speech to which the First Amendment does not apply. But, that is exactly what the panel’s opinion accomplishes in this case, concealing its achievement by casually characterizing the communications prohibited by SB 1172 as nonexpressive conduct. Of course, this begs the question. The panel provides no authority to support its broad intimations that the words spoken by therapists and social workers, if they fall within the statutory language of SB 1172, should receive no protection at all from the First Amendment.. . .But as to the threshold issue—may California remove from the First Amendment’s ambit the speech of certain professionals when the State disfavors its content or its purpose?—the Supreme Court has definitively and unquestionably said “No.” It is no longer within our discretion to disagree.The Supreme Court’s recent NIFLA case is not the first to question the reasoning of the 9th Circuit in upholding the California therapy ban in Pickup v. Brown. A 2017 en banc decision by the full 11th Circuit court struck down, on free speech grounds, a Florida law that barred doctors from asking patients whether they had guns in their home. In this decision (Wollschlaeger v. Governor of Florida, February 16, 2017), Judge Adalberto Jordan, writing for nine of the eleven judges, also questioned the 9th Circuit ruling in Pickup:The Ninth Circuit also adopted Justice White’s approach, but in a case upholding a California law prohibiting mental health practitioners from providing sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) therapy—meant to change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual—to children under the age of 18. See Pickup v. Brown, 740 F.3d 1208, 1225–29 (9th Cir. 2013) (as amended on rehearing). . . .There are serious doubts about whether Pickup was correctly decided. As noted earlier, characterizing speech as conduct is a dubious constitutional enterprise. See also id. at 1215–21 (O’Scannlain, J., dissenting from denial of rehearing en banc) (criticizing the Pickup panel for, among other things, not providing a “principled doctrinal basis” for distinguishing “between utterances that are truly ‘speech,’ on the one hand, and those that are, on the other hand, somehow ‘treatment’ or ‘conduct’”).. . .“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, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion . . . .” W. Va. State Bd. of Educ. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 642 (1943) (Jackson, J.). Our decision applies this timeless principle to speech between doctors and patients, regardless of the content. The First Amendment requires the protection of ideas that some people might find distasteful because tomorrow the tables might be turned.The Supreme Court precedent of NIFLA is clearly more significant, since it is binding nationwide. Of course, a key difference between the NIFLA (pregnancy center) case and the Pickup (therapy) case is that NIFLA involved what is called “compelled speech” (the government forcing a private entity to communicate the message favored by the government); whereas Pickup involves an actual prohibition by the government against private speech that is disfavored by the government (if its aim is helping a client to change sexual orientation). Nevertheless, by affirming that “professional speech” is protected by the First Amendment, the Supreme Court has cast serious doubt on the constitutionality of bans on sexual orientation change efforts.This should give hope to clients seeking to overcome unwanted same-sex attractions and to the counselors and therapists who help them. And it should give pause to legislators, like those in California now considering an even more draconian therapy ban (AB 2943).Bans on sexual orientation change efforts lack any merit to begin with. But legislators tempted to vote for them (and governors tempted to sign them) should realize that there is a good chance these bills are unconstitutional, and that they will draw a rebuke from the U.S. Supreme Court in the fairly near future.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s reasonable national security measures by a 5-4 vote in Trump v. Hawaii. In one of the dissents, Justice Sotomayor (joined by Justice Ginsburg) drew from the Court’s recent opinion in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission to argue that President Trump’s “bias” against Muslims invalidated the travel ban because government actions cannot be motived by anti-religious sentiment. Yet less than a month ago, Justice Ginsberg (joined by Justice Sotomayor) dissented in Masterpiece, ignoring the blatant religious hostility against Jack Phillips that served as the basis for the Court’s ruling in his favor. The position of these two dissenters in Trump v. Hawaii would seem to lead to support for Jack Phillips, but it never materialized.In Trump v. Hawaii, much biased media coverage obscured the facts of a relatively simple case. President Trump issued a proclamation that temporarily suspended entry into the U.S. of persons from countries which did not provide adequate background check information. It made no mention of any religion (six of the eight countries on the list are mostly Muslim, but the other two were not – and numerous Muslim-majority countries were not on the list). The Supreme Court held that it was well within President Trump’s authority to implement this measure as a matter of national security.Justices Sotomayor and Ginsberg were having none of it. They insisted that the “ban” (another misnomer, since the regulations didn’t flatly ban anyone, but set up different requirements for different people trying to enter the U.S.) violated the First Amendment because of President Trump’s comments about Islam’s history of violence. The Justices reasoned that because religious hostility is not a valid basis for government action, and since these regulations were supposedly enacted out of some hostility to Muslims, then they are invalid. Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg referenced Masterpiece, which relied on the principle that government hostility to religion violates the free exercise protections of the First Amendment, to support their argument that the Court should decide differently and to imply that the majority decision was hypocritical. They ignored the fact that they both dissented against the very decision they attempted to invoke.Indeed, Justice Ginsberg (joined by Justice Sotomayor) penned a dissent in Masterpiece which dismissed the obvious religious hostility against Jack Phillips. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission had compared Christians like Mr. Phillips who wanted to follow their consciences to Nazis and slave owners. These inflammatory statements did not concern Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor, who said that “whatever one may think of the statements in their historical context…I see no reason why the comments of one or two Commissioners should be taken to overcome Phillips’ refusal to sell a wedding cake to Craig and Mullins.”Yet Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor can’t have it both ways. If they believe religious hostility can serve as a basis for relief, as they state in Trump v. Hawaii, they also have to be prepared for to provide that relief for Jack Phillips. Conversely, if a decision can still be valid despite evidence of religious bias (as they argued in Masterpiece), then they should have supported the president’s reasonable national security regulations in Trump v. Hawaii. The Justices cannot ignore obvious religious bias when it is politically convenient, and turn around and use the same argument to attack other measures they don’t like.
I have already written several times about the Supreme Court’s recent Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, in which the Court struck down Colorado’s discrimination charge against a Christian baker who declined to make a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The majority’s ruling rested on its finding that the proceedings against baker Jack Phillips in Colorado were tainted by anti-religious bias. I described each of the five opinions written in the case here, and explained why media referred to a 7-2 decision as “narrow” (in its reasoning, not its margin) here.There is one more aspect of the Masterpiece case that I found interesting. The key parties to the case were the baker, Jack Phillips, and the same-sex couple, Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins. The experiences and perspectives of these men had been discussed and recounted repeatedly as the case made its way through Colorado’s adjudicatory process and then through the appeal to the Supreme Court.In the end, however, there were two lesser-known figures who played a key role in the outcome of the case. From the pro-family perspective supportive of the baker Phillips, one—a man named William Jack—helped to expose the hypocrisy of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The other—a woman named Diann Rice—may have unwittingly doomed the state’s case by verbalizing the anti-religious hostility that was fatal to their side.Diann Rice was a member of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that heard the complaint against Masterpiece Cakeshop. During a July 25, 2014 meeting of the Commission, she made the following statement, which was recounted by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in his majority opinion in the 2018 case:I would also like to reiterate what we said in the hearing or the last meeting. Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the holocaust, whether it be—I mean, we—we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to—to use their religion to hurt others.The quote was originally found on an audio recording of the meeting, and a transcript from that recording only identified the speaker as a “female speaker.” It was not until six months later that Phillips’ attorneys with the Alliance Defending Freedom identified the speaker as Rice.Justice Kennedy explained the problem with this remark:To describe a man’s faith as “one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use” is to disparage his religion in at least two distinct ways: by describing it as despicable, and also by characterizing it as merely rhetorical—something insubstantial and even insincere. The commissioner even went so far as to compare Phillips’ invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust. This sentiment is inappropriate for a Commission charged with the solemn responsibility of fair and neutral enforcement of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law—a law that protects discrimination on the basis of religion as well as sexual orientation.The sad thing is that the kind of contempt for “freedom of religion and religion” voiced by Rice, including the over-the-top comparison of a belief in one-man-one-woman marriage with defenses of slavery and the Holocaust, is not even considered extreme on the Left today. On the contrary, that view is utterly commonplace. For example, writer Zack Ford of ThinkProgress openly defended the remark. That is why it was so welcome to have the Supreme Court declare that such contempt is not permissible as a part of government decision-making.The other person who surprisingly proved central to the case was William Jack. (William Jack is not to be confused with Jack Phillips, the baker at the heart of the case.)Even after he was cited in the Court’s ruling, little has been written about Mr. Jack’s background. The liberal magazine Mother Jones wrote the most detailed article about him, referring to him as “a foot soldier in the religious-right evangelical movement.” They also linked to a brief he filed in the case in support of Phillips, which describes him as “a Colorado citizen and Christian educator who teaches nationally on issues of Christian worldview, apologetics, and leadership.”In a sort of reverse parallel of what happened to Craig and Mullins when they requested a wedding cake from Masterpiece Cakeshop, William Jack visited three Colorado bakeries requesting that they bake him cakes with a message of opposition to same-sex marriage. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg described Jack’s request most explicitly in her dissenting opinion. He wanted cakes:“made to resemble an open Bible. He also requested that each cake be decorated with Biblical verses. [He]requested that one of the cakes include an image of two groomsmen, holding hands, with a red ‘X’ over the image. On one cake, he requested [on] one side[,] . . . ‘God hates sin. Psalm 45:7’ and on the opposite side of the cake ‘Homosexuality is a detestable sin. Leviticus 18:2.’ On the second cake, [the one] with the image of the two groomsmen covered by a red ‘X’[Jack] requested [these words]: ‘God loves sinners’ and on the other side ‘While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:8.’ ”All three bakeries declined to bake the cakes requested by Mr. Jack, on the grounds that they considered the message (especially, it seems, the image of the grooms with the red “X” and the word “sin”) to be offensive. Mr. Jack brought discrimination charges against each of the bakeries, asserting that they had discriminated against him because of his “creed” (that is, religion), which is a protected category under Colorado’s public accommodations non-discrimination law. Yet the Colorado Civil Rights Commission in Mr. Jack’s case found the bakeries not to have been guilty of discrimination—in direct contrast to the outcome for Masterpiece Cakeshop.Mother Jones referred to Jack’s requests as a “stunt.” Jack himself admitted, according to World magazine, that he made the requests in response to the Masterpiece case, “to see if those charging discrimination against gays would care about discrimination against Christians.” He never indicated that the cakes were intended for a particular social event. On the other hand, even Mother Jones admitted such experimentsaren’t uncommon among activist groups of all political leanings seeking changes in the legal system. Civil rights organizations use testers, for instance, to see whether a landlord is refusing to rent to people of color or a car dealer is charging them higher interest on auto loans. Activists who use wheelchairs visit businesses to see whether their buildings comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, and file complaints if they don’t.The point, of course, is not that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission should have punished the bakers who refused to make cakes for Mr. Jack with a message opposing same-sex marriage. Instead, it is the opposite. They should have allowed Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop the same freedom—to refuse cakes with messages to which he has a conscientious objection—that they allowed to the bakeries approached by William Jack.The message William Jack requested on his cakes may have seemed unusual, odd, or even, yes, offensive to some. But Justice Kennedy warned that “it is not, as the Court has repeatedly held, the role of the State or its officials to prescribe what shall be offensive.”William Jack did not get his cakes, but he did prove a point—possibly turning the tide of a Supreme Court case in the process.
Adoption and foster care agencies are the latest battle grounds of religious freedom in the United States today. A number of states have already passed legislation which would protect religiously motivated adoption agencies from being forced to place children with those who identify as LGBT. These bills are called Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Acts (CWPIA). Not surprisingly, CWPIAs have not passed through state legislatures without opposition. Opponents call them “needless”—but are they? Or are they necessary to ensure the survival of faith-based adoption agencies?In 2006, Catholic Charities of Boston shocked the U.S. charity world when, on March 10, it announced it “plann[ed] to be in discussion with the Commonwealth [of Massachusetts] to end [its] work in adoption services.” They cited disagreement with the Massachusetts law which required the charity to violate its convictions on a child’s need for a mom and dad. Catholic teaching describes homosexual adoption as gravely immoral. The Archdiocese declared in a statement concerning the issue, “in spite of much effort and analysis, Catholic Charities of Boston finds that it cannot reconcile the teaching of the Church, which guides our work, and the statutes and regulations of the Commonwealth.”This was one of the first situations that showed the dark underbelly of sexual orientation “non-discrimination” policies. Following the Archdiocese of Boston’s decision, Catholic Charities of D.C. was “informed…that the agency would be ineligible to serve as a foster care provider due to the impending D.C. same-sex marriage law.” Catholic Charities was forced into similar situations in southern Illinois and in San Francisco.North Dakota became the first state to protect religious-based charities when, in 2003, it passed a law which states: “A child-placing agency is not required to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, facilitate, refer, or participate in a placement that violates the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.” In addition, the law also states that a state cannot deny a contract based on religion. These laws read similarly in the states that have passed them. Kansas, Alabama, Virginia, Michigan, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Texas have passed CWPIAs. Oklahoma is the newest state to pass a CWPIA on May 11, 2018.The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution declares that “[g]overnment shall make no law respecting religion; or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” In forcing religious charities to choose between violating their religious beliefs or shutting down, the government is effectively prohibiting the free exercise of religion.Under CWPIAs, no adoption agency is prohibited by the state from allowing anyone to adopt children, it only allows religious charities to uphold their religious belief that children need a mom and dad. There are an estimated 118,000 children in need of adoption in the United States right now. Limiting the number of adoption agencies is certainly not the best way to help them. The well-being of children should be paramount, and they should not be used as pawns in the culture war. Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Acts allow for religiously motivated charities to continue to operate and place children without violating their consciences, a freedom the government is required under the Constitution to protect.Be sure to read FRC’s in-depth analysis on the importance of CWPIAs.Spencer White is an intern at Family Research Council.
Dear Friends,A recent study reveals that loneliness has now reached epidemic levels in the United States. In a survey of over 20,000 adults 18 and over, the numbers are staggering:Nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone (46 percent) or left out (47 percent).One in four Americans (27 percent) rarely or never feel as though there are people who really understand them.Two in five Americans sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful (43 percent) and that they are isolated from others (43 percent).One in five people report they rarely or never feel close to people (20 percent) or feel like there are people they can talk to (18 percent).Americans who live with others are less likely to be lonely (average loneliness score of 43.5) compared to those who live alone (46.4). However, this does not apply to single parents/guardians (average loneliness score of 48.2) – even though they live with children, they are more likely to be lonely.Only around half of Americans (53 percent) have meaningful in-person social interactions, such as having an extended conversation with a friend or spending quality time with family, on a daily basis.Generation Z (adults ages 18-22) is the loneliest generation and claims to be in worse health than older generations.Interestingly, the study notes that “Social media use alone is not a predictor of loneliness; respondents defined as very heavy users of social media have a loneliness score (43.5) that is not markedly different from the score of those who never use social media (41.7).” What is not being said here is that this statistic clearly indicates that increased social media use is affecting everyone, not just heavy users.I witnessed a perfect example of this last night at a restaurant. At the booth next to my wife and I, a large family had wedged themselves into both sides of the table. Despite this perfect opportunity for a great evening of quality family time, I couldn’t help but notice that large periods of time went by with the family sitting in silence. Why? Because half of the people at the table had their faces buried in their phones, while the other family members stared off into space. Is it any wonder that half of the country is not having any meaningful conversations with anyone when the people they are trying to talk to are staring down at a screen?This study should be a reminder to believers that we should always be ready and willing to give everyone we encounter our full attention, not just our family and friends. Phones and social media aren’t the only culprits here—often it is our own fear of looking abnormal that keeps us from spending a few moments talking with a homeless person on the street or our Uber driver. We must work on refocusing our priorities to giving everyone in our lives the time and attention they crave and rightfully deserve.God created us to love and to be loved. We all need to be constantly reminded of the timeless adage: “It is good that you exist.” When we spend quality time with our family members and everyone else the Lord puts in our path, we reaffirm this basic truth and help to spread Christ’s Kingdom.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 ArticlesChristians can influence the world without being influenced – Tony PerkinsWomen & Pornography – Patrina MosleyDismemberment Abortion – Patrina MosleyFlocking to tend to our nation’s spiritual needs – Travis WeberPlanned Parenthood's tax dollar gravy train just got derailed – Cathy RuseImitating My Father – Dan HartGetting to Know Generation Z – Marion MealorGood But Not Great: Don’t Be Fooled by the Masterpiece Decision – Andrew RockWarning to Northern Ireland: Science Without Faith is Dead – Patrina MosleyMasterpiece Cakeshop: How Can a 7-2 Supreme Court Decision Be “Narrow?” – Peter SpriggPolitically Motivated Research Underestimates Risk of Suicide After Abortion – Martha ShupingMasterpiece Cakeshop: Summary of Each Supreme Court Opinion – Peter SpriggThe Ethical Imperative of Adult Stem Cell Research – Hannah BorchersSupreme Court Protects Jack Phillips’ Rights, Tells Colorado: “Not So Fast” – Travis Weber Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareSupreme Court Rules in Favor of Baker Who Declined to Make Same-Sex Wedding Cake – National Catholic RegisterState Judge Sides with Christian Baker – Rodney Pelletier, Church MilitantPhiladelphia Archdiocese sues city over foster care placements – Matthew Gambino, CruxValedictorian: “They Told Me I Had to Take Christ Out of My Speech” – ToddStarnes.comA tall Christian cross stood in a Michigan park for nearly 70 years. Now it's gone – Lisa Gutierrez, The Kansas City StarDemocrats introduce bill to counter Sen. Orrin Hatch's religious freedom law – Dennis Romboy, Deseret NewsIndiana high school accepts teacher's resignation over transgender policy – Kathleen Joyce, Fox NewsInternational Religious FreedomPence Meets Indonesia’s Top Muslim Leader After Church Attacks – Kate Shellnutt, Christianity Today'Human rights disaster': China's persecution of Christians at highest level since Mao – Bradford Richardson, The Washington TimesReligious War Looms in Nigeria as Christian Body Count Climbs – Lela Gilbert, NewsmaxCanada’s top court rules against Christian law school: LGBT rights trump religious freedom – Lianne Laurence, LifeSiteNewsPolice seizes 1,100 Bibles in China’s Shandong province – Madeeha Bakhsh, Christians in PakistanThe Radical Forgiveness One Egyptian Mother Has for Her Son’s Murderers – Lindy Lowry, Open DoorsSeveral Iranian Christians to Serve Time in Prison – Jeffrey Cimmino, The Washington Free BeaconInternational Religious Freedom Report for 2017 – U.S. Department of StateU.S. senator introduces bill for sanctions against Turkey – Hürriyet Daily News LifeAbortionWhat Happened When 3 Women Faced Deep Suffering Rather Than Abort Their Children – Maureen Mullarkey, The FederalistThe Silent Suffering of Fathers After Abortion – Victoria Robinson, The Daily SignalPresident Trump to cut Planned Parenthood funding – Cassy Fiano, Live ActionIreland votes to legalize abortion: ‘a tragedy of historic proportions’ – Claire Chretien, LifeSiteNewsSupreme Court Rejects Planned Parenthood Challenge to Arkansas Pro-Life Law That Could Close Two Abortion Clinics – Steven Ertelt, LifeNewsGirl with Down Syndrome stuns politicians with powerful speech about her ‘right to be alive’ – Jonathon Van Maren, LifeSiteNewsPro-life commercial from Herbal Essences stirs up controversy – Nancy Flanders, Live ActionAdoptionFoster Care Fanaticism in Philadelphia – Darel E. Paul, First Things3 Things We Learned While Waiting For Our Adopted Child – Kelly Cox, Her View From HomeI Chose Adoption For My Baby, But I Didn’t Let Go – Leah Outten, Her View From HomeObamacareObamacare Is Shrinking the Individual Health Insurance Market – Edmund Haislmaier, The Daily SignalConservative groups, congressional Republicans appear poised for another try at ObamaCare repeal – Joseph Weber, Fox News FamilyMarriageHow to Build a Healthy Marriage With Authentic Communication – Michelle Habel, Focus on the FamilyFive Myths About Fathers and Family – W. Bradford Wilcox, Family StudiesBaby Bust: Fertility is Declining the Most Among Minority Women – Lyman Stone, Family StudiesHere's why it matters that Americans are having fewer children than ever before – Jeremy Carl, Fox NewsMarriage Support Needs Time to Work – W. Bradford Wilcox, Family StudiesCouple with Down syndrome reveals secret to 23 years of wedded bliss – Cerith Gardiner, AleteiaGrandpa's 6 tips for a successful marriage – Jackie Pilossoph, Chicago TribuneNatural Rights, God, and Marriage in the American Founding – Vincent Phillip Muñoz, Public DiscourseEconomics/EducationThe Left’s War Against Prosperity in Seattle – Jarrett Stepman, The Daily SignalFaith/Character/CultureThe Importance of Dads in an Increasingly Fatherless America – Virginia Allen, The Daily SignalOn Father’s Day, Remember the Fatherless – Alysse ElHage, Family StudiesThank You For Being a Dad Who Shows Up – Emily Solberg, Her View From HomeWhat Mothers Cannot Give to Their Sons – Anthony Esolen, Public DiscourseNo, Amazon Tribes Should Not Be Allowed To Kill Their Children – John Daniel Davidson, The FederalistWhat Anthony Bourdain Reveals About Living In The Age Of Loneliness – Ben Domenech, The FederalistHow Faith Communities Can Push Back the Darkness of Suicide – Emilie Kao, The Daily SignalHuman SexualitySchool Can Force Students to Share Bathrooms With Transgender Students, Federal Court Rules – Rachel del Guidice, The Daily SignalSan Diego Parents Pulling Their Kids From School Over Inappropriate Sex-Ed Curriculum – Grace Carr, The Daily SignalThe War Against Abstinence: Blockers, American Pie, and the Last Great Sexual Taboo – Daniel Ross Goodman, Public Discourse'The Dating Project' movie offers a 101-level course in courtship – AleteiaNearly 90 Percent of Public Opposed to Virginia County’s Sex Ed Changes – Rob Shimshock, The Daily CallerHuman TraffickingDOJ Arrests 2,300 Alleged Child Pornographers And Sex Traffickers – Jacob Airey, The Daily WirePornographyRadical Parenting – Protecting Our Kids from Pornography – GretaEskridge.comDoes Pornography Feed Sex Tourism? – Rose Brugger, Public DiscourseMore Americans Say Pornography Is Morally Acceptable – GallupPorn Addict Says 'Wrong Click Changed My Life' as a Teen, Exposing Her to Abusive, Animal-Like Sex – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian Post
Courtesy of State Library of QueenslandMy one-and-a-half-year-old son imitates everything I do these days. “Hey, babes,” I said as I greeted my wife a number of weeks ago. “Hey babes,” he garbled from his high chair a few seconds later. When I left a garbage bag next to the front door one day, he toddled over to it and began attempting to tie the drawstrings together, just as he had seen me do minutes before. Now, to my amazement, he is feeding himself with a spoon. It brings me great joy to watch him carefully position the spoon in his fingers so that he can angle it correctly into his bowl and scoop up food, which he then brings to his mouth with remarkable control and efficiency. It’s as if he saw someone else doing the same thing.To see my son constantly imitate me is thrilling, humbling, and a bit frightening all at once. It’s exhilarating to know that another human sees me as such an influential presence and role model—I’m excited by the prospect of passing on the passion I have for reading, music, sports, and the knowledge and love of our Father up above. At the same time, I’m realizing more and more the extent to which my words and actions can influence his behavior, which means I really do need to watch what I say and do.As Father’s Day approaches, I’m reminded of all the ways I imitated my own father when I was growing up. I’ll never forget the Saturday he brought me along with him to the local rec center to play pickup basketball when I was around 10. I watched in awe and a little trepidation at how quickly the much larger men moved and passed the ball. I was soon thrown into the mix, and found myself panicking as I tried to keep up. “Stay between your man and the basket,” my dad said. I could tell by the way he played that he took pride in playing good defense. Something clicked for me after that, and I’ve loved playing basketball ever since.Then there was the beautiful sunny day my dad first showed me how to swing a golf club in our front yard. He explained the proper grip to take, how far away to stand from the ball, how to bring the club back, and the appropriate motion to take on the downswing. As I imitated his golf swing for the first time, I remember a feeling of comfort come over me. Playing golf has been a natural fit and a great source of fulfilment for me from that day on. What I am most grateful to my father for is his determination to keep his Catholic faith central in his life. He always wore a dress shirt and tie on Sundays while a large percentage of other men wore jeans and t-shirts. During Mass, he would always sing out the hymns with passion, while many other men in neighboring pews would stand silently with seeming indifference. The reverence he showed during Mass always struck me—his head was often bowed forward, his eyes closed, and his hands clasped together. After the gospel was proclaimed and the congregation took their seats, he would often remain standing for a beat longer than everyone else, as if to take an extra moment to let Christ’s words soak into his soul. I could feel the devotion emanating from within him during Mass, and it rubbed off on me.The car ride home from Mass would usually entail a heartfelt commentary from him about the priest’s homily. Countless conversations at home about the nature of faith and reflecting on the life of the Holy Family are some of my fondest memories. There were also numerous times that I recall him witnessing to friends and acquaintances who did not share his faith. This has always been something I have greatly admired in him—there was an energy and joy that his faith gave him that he did not want to contain, compelling him to share it with others. There was also fearlessness in the indifference he had to what others might have thought of him. Seeing him take his faith so seriously clearly made a great impression on me. I can see now that it was through my imitation of my father at a young age that I first began to make the Catholic faith my own.Every father knows that they set an example for their children, but what they perhaps don’t know is how much of an impact they can actually have on them. Part of the reason for this is that it is easy for parents to underestimate how observant their children are, which I have discovered with surprise at my own son’s remarkable ability to imitate me. I doubt that my dad knew the extent to which I was watching him as I grew up. What I have noticed is that this is a common experience. I remember numerous occasions where my sister and I have related our experience of a childhood memory, to which my parents have responded, “Really? You remember that? I didn’t think you noticed” or “That’s funny—I don’t remember it that way!” I have also seen this same interaction happen with my friends and their parents. I have no doubt that when I am advanced in years and I listen to my son’s experiences of childhood, I will be blown away.In the first verse of 1 Corinthians 11, Paul states plainly: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” For me, this is the perfect encapsulation of what authentic fatherhood should be. God created us in such a way that the father of a family is to be the image of Himself—God the Father. We see this in how a father and mother welcome a newborn child—with love. The first experience of God’s love that a newborn encounters is through the love of their father and mother. As Paul says, the model that fathers need to follow is Christ, the Incarnation of God Himself. But since Christ no longer physically walks the earth, His followers must imitate Him in order to allow His presence to abide in the world. Paul stood as an amazing model for Christ in the early Christian church, and his example was imitated by his followers, who were then imitated by their followers, and so the faith was passed down through the generations. This mission has been passed down to all Christian fathers today—to imitate Christ in order to lead by example for the good of their children and for the good of everyone they encounter.Thank you, Dad, for your example of Christian manhood. Your witness of faith is something I hope to pass down to my own son, just as you did for me. Happy Father’s Day!
For years, researchers have been studying the worldview of millennials and how it differs from the generations before them. More recently, however, a new generation that is just entering their college years is stepping into the spotlight and gaining attention—Generation Z. Who are they? The simple answer is that they are the 60-70 million people born between 1999-2015 (ages 2-18), making them the second largest generation in America. The more complicated answer, however, encompasses the identity of the most ethnically diverse generation alive today. What is shaping them? What is their worldview? How can we lead them? Based on research conducted by the Barna Group in partnership with the Impact 360 Institute, Jonathan Morrow answers these questions at an FRC Speaker’s Series event yesterday in Washington, D.C.As Gen Z is growing up, it is vital to know and understand what is shaping them and if they will carry on the cultural and moral trends that defined Millennials. David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, asks a very significant question, “Is it possible that many churches are preparing young Christians to face a world that no longer exists?” This is something we must recognize in order to equip Gen Z for the challenges they are sure to face. The percentage of people with a biblical worldview has been in evident decline with each generation, from the Baby Boomers to Gen Z. According to Morrow, only four percent of Generation Z have a biblical worldview, making them the “post Christian” generation. It is important to evaluate whether we are preparing our young people for the world we wish we lived in or the world that actually exists.Jonathan Morrow, the Director of Cultural Engagement at the Impact 360 Institute, offers some essential mindset shifts needed for leading Generation Z. This generation does not remember a time without interactive screens, and they exemplify the pros and cons of being “digital natives.” Many in this generation need to learn more about how to form relationships with people and how to engage in face-to-face conversations. Today, many young people feel unequipped to defend their faith because they lack the training and knowledge to do so. Morrow pointed out the importance of allowing them to test what they believe by being challenging in their faith, which will give room for it to grow.Too often, the data of our lives is compartmentalized into different boxes, but one of the best gifts we can give Gen Z is showing them how all these isolated parts work together. Our faith should not start and end when we go to church on Sunday, but instead be integrated into everything we do. One of the positive things about Gen Z is that they have a lot of empathy. Our job is to help them channel that in the direction of virtue. They need to know why they believe what they believe so they can take a stand of faith no matter what they may face. In short, Gen Z needs more connections, more challenge, more training, more integration, and more critical thinking.Understanding Generation Z is critical if we want to serve, lead, influence, and equip this next generation. The majority of these young people are still heavily influenced by parents, friends, teachers, and churches. They are driven by the desire for success in schooling and careers, and one of the best ways to reach them is vocational discipleship. We can be an ally to this “next, next generation” and continue to direct them to a biblical worldview. In the words of Morrow, “Listen and be present.” For more information and to learn more about Generation Z, be sure to view FRC’s Speaker Series event with Jonathan Morrow.Marion Mealor is an intern at Family Research Council.
While it is wonderful that the Supreme Court gave Jack Phillips long-overdue justice in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado, the battle for religious liberty is far from over. The Court only held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s obvious bias against Phillips violated his right to a neutral decision maker. This means that future cases could undermine religious liberty so long as the decision makers appear neutral. What we need is a decision or a law that explicitly protects business owners like Jack Phillips, or better still, a repeal of misguided laws passed under the guise of “antidiscrimination.”Jack Phillips runs Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, and in 2012, he refused to create a cake for the wedding of a same-sex couple. The couple complained to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, who sent the case to an Administrative Law Judge, who in turn found that Phillips had broken Colorado’s civil rights laws. The Supreme Court held that the Commission had violated Phillips’ rights under the First Amendment due to their blatant anti-faith bias.The Commission brusquely dismissed Phillips’ arguments that his faith precluded him from endorsing a same-sex wedding without thoughtfully addressing their substance or nuance. One commission member went so far as to compare Phillips’ arguments for religious liberty to those of slave owners and people complicit in the Holocaust. In addition, the Commission granted exemptions to bakers who refused to bake cakes with Bible verses opposing homosexual behavior, holding that this was not unlawful discrimination. The Court held that the flagrant anti-faith bias shown in the Commission’s comments and decision-making invalidated its judgment in Phillips’ case, because the First Amendment requires the government to remain neutral on religious issues.While it is good that the Court rebuked this blatant abuse of power, this decision does not bode well for future religious liberty cases. The Court merely held that someone like Phillips has the right to a hearing before a neutral decision maker, and if this occurs, outcomes in such cases “may well be different going forward.”This means that the next case could go poorly for a Christian business owner, provided that the deciding body maintains a pretense of neutrality. If a court or commission can restrain themselves enough to avoid comparing ordinary Christians to slave-owners and Nazis, and then finds that their freedom of conscience subjects “gay persons to indignities,” (which is vague and subjective enough to mean just about anything), they could easily punish someone for refusing to participate in a same-sex wedding through cake or floral design, photography, or other creative service. This is poor precedent, as it leaves Christian businesses vulnerable to biased decisions by courts and commissions sly enough to conceal their prejudice when they apply laws such as Colorado’s.Since a court that appears neutral could easily use these “antidiscrimination” laws to punish Christians who follow their conscience, religious freedom rights must be clarified in the context of these laws. Better yet, given the constant abuse of laws like Colorado’s to target anyone who disagrees with the politically correct orthodoxy, it would make sense to repeal them and avoid the problem entirely.Jack Phillips received well-deserved relief in this case, and there is now clear precedent against open bias on the part of courts and commissions in similar instances. However, there is still an enormous risk that decision makers will simply stay quiet about their anti-Christian biases and continue to produce biased and skewed decisions based on current “antidiscrimination” laws. This means that we need to either craft protections in the context of these laws or repeal them outright.Andrew Rock is a law student and an intern at Family Research Council.
On May 25th, the world turned its eyes to Ireland for a historic vote. For the first time ever, a nation’s populace democratically voted to take away protections of the God-given right to life of unborn children, which had been established in Irish law since 1861. Now the pressure is upon Northern Ireland to do the same—members of Parliament have called for an emergency debate to decriminalize abortion.Although Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom, where abortion was legalized under The Abortion Act of 1967, that Act has not been extended to Northern Ireland as it has maintained its respect for life under their Offences Against the Person Act 1861. Opponents are seeking to repeal articles 58 and 59 of the Act which makes it a crime for any man or woman to procure or cause an abortion. This Act also covers other crimes such as “conspiracy to commit murder, manslaughter, assault and child abduction.”Here’s what I would warn Northern Ireland about in the debate:It’s hard to ignore the irony here—having a debate about whether a person should have a right to life as protected under the Offences Against the Person Act. What could possibly be more offensive to a person than killing them?Abortion is not a “right” but a crime against humanity and denies what we already know in our natural consciences. Abortion is not “progress” as some have held in praise towards Ireland’s vote. Abortion is not a “woman’s right.” It is not “women’s healthcare.” Nor is it about “ women’s dignity,” as some have claimed. Abortion is the taking of innocent life for the convenience of another. There is no dignity in that.Abortion does not make women’s lives better; it is often done because they don’t feel empowered to care for the child by their partners, parents, or community. Countless women have shared their experiences of how abortion has not made their lives better but only complicated it. Thousands of testimonies (see here and here), many anonymous, have been written by women who are left with the devastating psychological and emotional effects of abortion.Emotional personal testimonies of women who had abortions due to physical ailments were shared during the debate, but according to the U.K.’s abortion statistics, less than one percent of abortions occur to save the life or health of the mother. Northern Ireland already has protections for instances like these when the physical or mental health or well-being of the mother is at risk. We should not use rare cases to justify the demand for the convenience of abortion.Abortion is not progress, but instead permission to start a culture of death. Make no mistake, the legalization of abortion in the Western world has opened the door to the legalization of assisted suicide, the elimination of the weak or disabled in society, and so much more. It corrupts the value of life in all facets of society—look no further than the rampart mass shootings we’ve endured.According to a recent Pew Research report, nearly 80 percent of Irish adults identify as Christians, but church attendance rates have decreased from 54 percent in 2002 to 36 percent in 2017. What Ireland has shown us is that a society can have all the facts and science in the world, but without faith, there is no moral compass. Anything goes. It would appear that science without faith is dead.In the words of Alexis de Tocqueville: “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.” Northern Ireland, do not be deceived. I say it again, a disregard for life is not progress, but merely permission to start a culture of death.More information on U.K. abortion statistics.Keep up with live updates on the Northern Ireland abortion debate.
A study published recently in the American Journal of Psychiatry online claims that abortion does not increase the risk of suicide. If only that were true. The study by M. Antonia Biggs and colleagues (which I will refer to as “the Biggs study”) used data from the University of California San Francisco’s Turnaway Study. But the results are very questionable because they are inconsistent with many other studies, and the final results of this study are based on only 18 percent of the original sample.The Turnaway Study was intended to provide a comparison between women who aborted and those unable to obtain an abortion due to waiting to come to the clinic until the pregnancy was too advanced (past the limits for the clinic chosen, or for their state). But only 38 percent of eligible women consented to participate in the research, with 15 percent of those dropping out before the first interview (see study). With further dropouts over the five years of the study, only 18 percent of the original sample remained—even though women received a $50 gift certificate for each telephone interview (see study).The low participation rate and the additional dropouts make the results questionable, because it is well known that the most distressed individuals are more likely to avoid participating. This has been reported in research on abortion and other reproductive losses, and in more general trauma research.*The Biggs study concluded that rates of suicidal ideation were comparably low in women who obtained abortions and those who were refused abortions. The authors further conclude that their results show that state laws requiring informed consent about suicide risk should be scrapped as unnecessary. But we lack information on 82 percent of the women who either declined to participate or dropped out. The results may be meaningless if those women included those who were most distressed.In addition, the Biggs study contradicts a large body of research on suicide and abortion. A study from Finland published in the British Medical Journal linked medical records to death certificates, showing that women having abortions had a 650 percent increased risk of suicide compared to women who gave birth.One of the highest quality studies of abortion and mental health was done by Donald Sullins of the Catholic University of America in 2016 using data from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (“Add Health”) which was funded by 18 different federal agencies and which provided a nationally representative sample of 8,005 women, with 81 percent of the sample completing this 13-year longitudinal study. In his analysis, Sullins controlled for 13 different potential confounders, and showed increased suicidal ideation in the women who had abortions compared to those who completed pregnancies. In addition, Sullins showed that women having abortions had increased risk for a total of seven different mental health outcomes. The results were statistically significant.The Biggs study is an outlier, giving results that are very different from the results of a number of high quality studies of suicide risk and abortion. The truth is, we have the words of actual women who have attempted or completed suicide. The British artist Emma Beck said in her 2007 suicide note: “I told everyone I didn’t want to do it, even at the hospital . . . now it is too late . . . I want to be with my babies.” The authors of the Biggs study show their political bias in their conclusion that women like Beck have no need to be warned about suicide risk before their abortion.Martha Shuping, M.D., is a practicing psychiatrist who lives in Winston-Salem, N.C. *Broen, A.N., Moum, T., Bødtker, A.S., & Ekeberg, Ø. (2005). The course of mental health after miscarriage and induced abortion: a longitudinal, five-year follow-up study. BMC Medicine, 3,18. doi: 10.1186/1741-7015-3-18. Retrieved from http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/3/18 Shuping, M. (2016). Counterpoint: Long-lasting distress after abortion. In R. MacNair (Ed.), Peace Psychology Perspectives on Abortion. Kansas City: Feminism and Nonviolence Studies Association.Weisaeth, L. (1989). Importance of high response rates in traumatic stress research. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica Supplementum, 355, 131-137.
On June 4, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a decision by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (upheld by Colorado courts) that had found baker Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop guilty of unlawful discrimination for declining to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The vote was 7-2—that is, seven justices voted to overturn the Colorado decision, while only two voted to uphold it.The New York Times’ online story about the ruling carried the headline, “In Narrow Decision, Supreme Court Sides With Baker Who Turned Away Gay Couple.” The Washington Post editorialized, “The Supreme Court’s narrow ruling on a wedding cake is a step in the right direction.”Subsequently, I noticed some people on social media (especially conservative friends) grousing about the description of the 7-2 decision as “narrow,” as though the liberal media was trying to downplay Jack Phillips’ decisive victory. So I thought I would offer a short explanation.Masterpiece Cakeshop is being described as a “narrow” ruling not because of its margin, but because of its reasoning. Neither side in the case got everything that it wanted.Those supporting Colorado, and supporting Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins (the same-sex couple who had requested a cake from Phillips), wanted a broad ruling that 1) Phillips violated Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act by discriminating against the couple on the basis of “sexual orientation; and 2) that no claim of religious freedom or free speech can excuse that statutory violation by a business that qualifies as a “public accommodation.” In the end, only two justices (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with Sonia Sotomayor joining her in dissent) adopted that view and considered it decisive.Those supporting the baker Phillips, on the other hand, wanted a broad ruling that his rights to freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion, because they are fundamental rights under the U.S. Constitution, must take precedence over the statutory provisions of Colorado law. Yet the Court’s ruling in favor of the free exercise claim was a narrow one, and only two justices expressed support for the free speech claim as well (Clarence Thomas, with Neil Gorsuch joining his concurrence in the judgment).(I should note as well that some key elements of the case remained in dispute. Phillips’ attorneys questioned whether the Anti-Discrimination Act even applied, arguing that Phillips did not, in fact, “discriminate” on the basis of “sexual orientation” at all, because he was happy to serve self-identified gay customers with products other than a wedding cake. Colorado’s attorneys questioned whether the First Amendment even applied, arguing that baking a cake cannot be considered a form of “speech” at all.)Instead of clearly explaining that Jack Phillips’ has robust constitutional rights regarding the cakes he designs, the majority opinion found that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission simply didn’t behave well enough in this case, due to: (1) the hostility aimed specifically at his religious beliefs (evidenced in comments of the Commission), and (2) the different treatment the Commission gave a parallel case (one in which the Commission allowed bakeries to refuse to make cakes criticizing same-sex marriage). It was only because the Commission exhibited anti-religious bias in its proceedings against Jack Phillips that the Supreme Court threw out its ruling, on free exercise grounds. Justice Gorsuch also wrote a strong concurrence, joined by Justice Alito, elaborating on the strength of the free exercise claim here.Although they joined the majority opinion, Justices Kagan and Breyer additionally wrote a concurrence explaining that their lukewarm support for Phillips was only based on the fact that he was treated really badly by members of the Commission in this case. They argued that the disparate treatment between the two bakery cases could have been justified, were it not for the overt anti-religious hostility exhibited by the Commission.Justices Kennedy and Roberts—in writing and joining only the majority opinion, respectively—ruled in favor of Phillips, but not on the basis of a sweeping affirmation of his freedom of speech or of religion.A definitive Supreme Court precedent, resolving the underlying dispute between “non-discrimination” principles and freedom of speech and religion, will have to await another case and another decision. That is why many are calling Masterpiece a “narrow” decision.
In the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, finding by a 7-2 vote in favor of a baker who had declined to create a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding, there were five separate opinions written.Here, I offer a brief summary (not a detailed legal analysis) of what each of these opinions contained. (For more, see this blog post by FRC’s Travis Weber.) In the five opinions:Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the Court, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Stephen Breyer, Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Elena Kagan, and Justice Neil Gorsuch (six Justices; Justice Clarence Thomas wrote separately “concurring in part and concurring in the judgment,” but did not join the Court’s opinion);Justice Kagan wrote a concurrence which Justice Breyer joined;Justice Gorsuch wrote a concurrence which Justice Alito joined;Justice Thomas wrote an opinion “concurring in part and concurring in the judgment,” with which Justice Gorsuch joined;Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in dissent, joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.Here’s an overview of each opinion:Kennedy for the Court (joined by Roberts, Breyer, Alito, Kagan, and Gorsuch):Justice Kennedy ruled in favor of Masterpiece because “the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s consideration of this case was inconsistent with the State’s obligation of religious neutrality.” He found this for two reasons:Comments made by members of the Commission in the course of its hearings, especially one notorious quote:“Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the holocaust, whether it be—I mean, we—we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to—to use their religion to hurt others.”Kennedy noted that this statement disparages religion “in at least two distinct ways: by describing it as despicable, and also by characterizing it as merely rhetorical—something insubstantial and even insincere.”The difference in treatment between Phillips’ case and the cases of other bakers, who had refused to bake cakes communicating negative religious messages about same-sex marriage, but were found not to have discriminated against the customer (William Jack) on the basis of religion. He notes inconsistency in how the free speech claims were treated, but most notably in how the conscience objections were viewed, with the Commission accepting the secular objection to making anti-SSM cakes “because of the offensive nature of the requested message,” but rejecting Phillips’ religious objection to making a same-sex wedding cake. Kennedy says, “[I]t is not, as the Court has repeatedly held, the role of the State or its officials to prescribe what shall be offensive,” yet the Colorado decision “elevates one view of what is offensive over another and itself sends a signal of official disapproval of Phillips’ religious beliefs.”Kagan concurring, with Breyer joining:This short opinion (a little over three pages) concurs in the judgment—but goes out of its way to say that Colorado could have made a legitimate distinction between the Masterpiece case and the three cases of William Jack (who was refused cakes expressing opposition to same-sex marriage, but was not deemed a victim of discrimination). Kagan says explicitly that Jack Phillips of Masterpiece was guilty of discrimination:Phillips sells wedding cakes. As to that product, he unlawfully discriminates: He sells it to opposite-sex but not to same-sex couples. And on that basis—which has nothing to do with Phillips’ religious beliefs—Colorado could have distinguished Phillips from the bakers in the Jack cases, who did not engage in any prohibited discrimination.However, she concurs because the State’s decisions must not be “infected by religious hostility or bias”—as in this case.Gorsuch concurring, with Alito joining:Gorsuch focused in specifically on the disparate treatment of the Masterpiece case as opposed to the three William Jack cases involving refusal to bake cakes opposing same-sex marriage. In contrast to both the Ginsburg/Sotomayor dissent and the narrow Kagan/Breyer concurrence, Gorsuch argued that there was a very close correspondence between the facts of the cases, saying that “the two cases share all legally salient features”:“bakers refused services to persons who bore a statutorily protected trait (religious faith or sexual orientation)”“they would not sell the requested cakes to anyone, while they would sell other cakes to members of the protected class (as well as to anyone else)”“the bakers in the first case [William Jack] were generally happy to sell to persons of faith, just as the baker in the second case [Jack Phillips/Masterpiece] was generally happy to sell to gay persons.”Gorsuch concludes that “the Commission failed to act neutrally by applying a consistent legal rule,” and warns that “the one thing it can’t do is apply a more generous legal test to secular objections than religious ones.” In contrast to the four liberals, Gorsuch states explicitly that “the Commission must afford him [Jack Phillips/Masterpiece] the same result it afforded the bakers in Mr. Jack’s case.”Thomas, “concurring in part and concurring in the judgment,” Gorsuch joining:To me, one of the most notable facts of the decision is that at oral arguments, the ADF attorneys representing Masterpiece put their emphasis on arguments resting on First Amendment Free Speech grounds (not Free Exercise of Religion). They emphasized that designing custom wedding cakes is a form of artistic expression and therefore, requiring they be provided for same-sex weddings is an unconstitutional form of “compelled speech” by the government. This, however, turned out not to be the primary issue addressed by the court, which instead decided there was a Free Exercise violation because of the lack of religious neutrality.Justice Thomas’ opinion was the only one that addressed the Free Speech issues at length. He acknowledges that the issue here is “expressive conduct” rather than pure speech as such, but says under Court precedents, “Once a court concludes that conduct is expressive, the Constitution limits the government’s authority to restrict or compel it.” He says that in this case, “Phillips’ creation of custom wedding cakes is expressive,” and concludes the following:Forcing Phillips to make custom wedding cakes for same-sex marriages requires him to, at the very least, acknowledge that same-sex weddings are “weddings” and suggest that they should be celebrated—the precise message he believes his faith forbids.Although declining to decide whether Colorado’s law satisfies “strict scrutiny,” Thomas warns, “States cannot punish protected speech because some group finds it offensive, hurtful, stigmatic, unreasonable, or undignified.”Ginsburg dissenting, Sotomayor joining:Like the Gorsuch/Alito concurrence, the Ginsburg/Sotomayor dissent focused specifically on the differing results given by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission in the case involving Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop (where refusing to provide the cake requested by the customer was found to be illegal discrimination) as opposed to the cases involving customer William Jack (where refusing to provide the cakes requested by the customer was found not to be illegal discrimination). However, Justice Ginsburg reaches the exact opposite conclusion from that of Justice Gorsuch.Ginsburg and Sotomayor agreed with their liberal colleagues Justices Kagan and Breyer in saying that the cases could be legitimately distinguished, but disagreed with the latter pair’s conclusion that anti-religious bias had impermissibly “infected” Colorado’s adjudication of the cases. Ginsburg writes:The different outcomes the Court features do not evidence hostility to religion of the kind we have previously held to signal a free-exercise violation, nor do the comments by one or two members of one of the four decisionmaking entities considering this case justify reversing the judgment below. CommentaryThe problem I see with the dissent is this statement (which was repeated, in various ways, several times): “Phillips did . . . discriminate because of sexual orientation; the other bakers did not discriminate because of religious belief.” Ginsburg argues that Phillips’ refusal of a same-sex wedding cake was “determined solely by the identity of the customer” whereas the refusal of William Jack’s request “was due to the demeaning message” he wanted displayed.Since Phillips regularly serves customers who identify as gay (but would refuse a cake to celebrate a same-sex wedding regardless of who requests it), the first conclusion is questionable. The latter conclusion, however, is nothing short of astonishing. What Ginsburg calls a “demeaning message” may have been crude (including, among other things, “an image of two groomsmen, holding hands, with a red ‘X’ over the image”), but combined with biblical verses and quotations, its essential content was that 1) homosexual conduct is sinful, and 2) God does not approve of same-sex sexual relationships or consider them to be “marriage.” I fail to see how this “message” (however “demeaning” some may find it) can be seen as not representing a “religious belief.”Note that this is not to say that the solution would be to force bakers to make cakes with messages they consider “demeaning,” as well as forcing them to make cakes for same-sex weddings. Instead, the opposite would be ideal. Baking cakes, whether to celebrate a specific event such as a same-sex wedding or to condemn that concept, is a form of expressive conduct that should not be compelled by the government. Even if Colorado believes that its Anti-Discrimination Act was violated, the provisions of this state statute cannot be allowed to override the bakers’ fundamental right to free speech under the U.S. Constitution.No baker should be forced to communicate a message with which he or she disagrees. Although Jack Phillips prevailed in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, the ruling does not clearly apply the Court’s compelled speech precedents to that context. The debate continues.
On June 15th of 2017, a bill cited as the “Patients First Act” (H.R.2918) was introduced by Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.). As FRC has stated: “This [bill] not only reinforces our belief that all life is sacred and should be protected, but it will also allow the NIH to prioritize non-embryonic stem cell research that has been proven to have the greatest benefits for treating disease.” The bill seeks to intensify stem cell research and improve the understanding of treatment while protecting the dignity of life. Strictly referencing the National Institutes of Health’s annual budget, the bill would continue to fund and encourage stem cell studies with ethically obtained stems cells.The stem cell battle has been waging since the 1980’s as research regarding both human embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells has advanced. However, despite the great success of adult stem cell research (ASCR) and its continual increase in funding, the push for human embryonic stem cell research (hESCR) has remained. The success of hESCR is often touted by proponents, but the lack of funding due to its inability to produce successful therapies for patients does not match these statements. In fact, funding for non-human embryonic stem cell research has more than doubled that of hESCR for years.The largest issue with hESCR is the ethical procedures of obtaining human cells. While many scientists have clearly stated that human embryos are not considered lives, the language used by hESCR proponents seems to contradict this notion. In NIH’s brief overview of hESCR, they specifically state that embryonic stem cells “are not derived from eggs fertilized in a woman’s body.” This statement may seem like a simple explanation of experimental procedure, but the fact that NIH felt the need to address the location of fertilization as an ethical clarification already hints that they know full well of the ethical dilemma at stake. Even in the realm of science, NIH is admitting that there is something wrong with experimenting on an egg fertilized in a woman’s womb. Still, lab fertilization should not be the solution.The solution is not that we should remove stem cell research from the agenda of scientific advancement, but rather that it be done in a way that respects all ethical boundaries. There are other ethical options within the realm of stem cell research—the growth and success of ASCR being evidence of this. The Charlotte Lozier Institute published a factsheet pointing out that “effective, economical, and ethical alternatives to embryonic stem cell research exist. Adult stem cells are the gold standard for stem cell treatment, having been used to help over one million patients worldwide.” While proponents of hESCR claim that it is more cost effective and accessible, the scientific community and the people need to decide if ease of access is going to be the deciding factor in medical research.NIH’s mission is to “exemplify and promote the highest level of scientific integrity, public accountability, and social responsibility in the conduct of science,” all with the intention of serving patients and people. However, the core of hESCR ignores this very goal. The Patients First Act not only calls science to pursue excellence, but also calls the research field to protect human embryonic life while at the same time seek to save the lives of patients. It asks science to put “patients first” by pursuing both excellence and integrity.For more on the Patients First Act, be sure to view FRC’s Speaker Series event with Rep. Jim Banks as he discusses the bipartisan bill he introduced.
The Supreme Court’s much-awaited decision in the “wedding vendor” case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, was announced this morning. Ruling narrowly for Jack Phillips, owner of the bakery at issue, the Court focused squarely on the fact that the state of Colorado did not treat Phillips with “neutrality,” but rather “hostility,” due to the religious beliefs underlying his claims. Thus, the Court concluded, the state violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment—which prohibits the government from singling out, targeting, and discriminating against religion.The Court featured two primary bases for this determination. First, the “Civil Rights Commission’s treatment of [Phillips’] case has some elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs that motivated his objection” to creating a same-sex wedding cake. Comparing him to a slave owner and Holocaust perpetrator (a comparison which was never objected to or disavowed in all the time leading up to the Court’s ruling), the Commission clearly disparaged Phillips’ beliefs in two ways: by calling them “despicable, and also by characterizing [them] as merely rhetori­cal—something insubstantial and even insincere.” Moreover, the commissioners who ruled on his case “endorsed the view that religious beliefs cannot legitimately be carried into the public sphere or commercial domain, implying that religious beliefs and persons are less than fully welcome in Colorado’s business community.” These “inappro­priate and dismissive comments” showed a “lack of due consideration for Phillips’ free exercise rights and the dilemma he faced.”Second, the fact that Colorado treated other bakers (who were asked to make a cake condemning same-sex marriage and declined because the message was “offensive”) differently constituted further evidence of the state’s animus against Phillips’ beliefs. “A principled rationale for the difference in treatment of these two instances cannot be based on the government’s own assessment of offensiveness. Just as ‘no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion,’ West Virginia Bd. of Ed. v. Barnette, 319 U. S. 624, 642 (1943), it is not, as the Court has repeatedly held, the role of the State or its officials to prescribe what shall be offensive. See Matal v. Tam, 582 U. S. ___, ___–___ (2017) (opinion of ALITO, J.) (slip op., at 22–23). The Colorado court’s at­tempt to account for the difference in treatment elevates one view of what is offensive over another and itself sends a signal of official disapproval of Phillips’ religious beliefs.” It was on these two grounds that seven members of the Court concluded that the state of Colorado treated Jack Phillips harshly because of his religious beliefs.Harkening back to another Justice Kennedy free exercise opinion from decades ago, Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, the Court elaborated upon principles that the government cannot single out and target religious beliefs for disfavored treatment. And though it went unmentioned in the Masterpiece opinion, the Court’s ruling in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer—holding that the government may not disfavor religion in public grant programs—from just last term affirmed this principle.While the Court clarified that anti-religious animus was unacceptable (protecting Phillips for now), and while today’s opinion will likely be cited favorably by other wedding vendors who’ve experienced religious bias or animus from government actors, the opinion left other questions unanswered—namely, how the Court will handle free speech claims in the context of sexual orientation nondiscrimination regulation, or free exercise claims in the same circumstances absent such animus. The Court wasn’t exactly clear on how these matters would be decided, noting that clergy are protected (this is beyond debate), but expressing uncertainty on the myriad other matters which have arisen in the last few years as religious beliefs come into conflict with newly-mandated government requirements regarding same-sex marriage. In essence, the Court kicked that can down the road for another day.While the majority opinion produced a good result, some of the real meat was in the concurrences. Justice Gorsuch penned a concurrence (joined by Justice Alito) in which he offered a clear defense of free expression (this principle being especially important when the expression is unpopular) and a clear explanation of what actually occurred here—Phillips had an objection to the message, not the messenger. As Phillips testified, “I will not design and create wedding cakes for a same-sex wedding regardless of the sexual orienta­tion of the customer” (emphasis mine). Justice Gorsuch made very clear that Phillips was objecting to the creative process, not how the customer identified.Justice Thomas also concurred (joined by Justice Gorsuch), commenting in depth on the free speech protections he believed Phillips possessed. In doing so, he pointed out that the important free speech case Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston supported Phillips’ arguments, and noted that Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights and PruneYard Shopping Center v. Robins were not applicable to scenarios like this (something I have argued separately), for they dealt with allowing other parties access to speech fora, not alterations to a party’s own message. Justice Thomas concludes:In Obergefell, I warned that the Court’s decision would ‘inevitabl[y] . . . come into conflict’ with religious liberty, ‘as individuals . . . are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples.’ 576 U. S., at ___ (dissenting opinion) (slip op., at 15). This case proves that the conflict has already emerged. Because the Court’s decision vindicates Phillips’ right to free exercise, it seems that religious liberty has lived to fight another day. But, in future cases, the freedom of speech could be essential to preventing Obergefell from being used to ‘stamp out every vestige of dissent’ and ‘vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.’ Id., at ___ (ALITO, J., dissenting) (slip op., at 6). If that freedom is to maintain its vitality, reasoning like the Colorado Court of Appeals’ must be rejected.The conclusion to his concurrence, describing all the First Amendment issues not resolved by today’s opinion (which really need a legislative remedy and not a judicial one), is also a fitting conclusion for us as we anticipate the many religious liberty cases surely to be confronted in the years ahead.
The growth of the transgender movement has left many unanswered questions, but the media never seems to accurately represent both sides. In 2015, Family Research Council’s Peter Sprigg collaborated with Dale O’Leary to produce a comprehensive 42-page policy paper, “Understanding and Responding to the Transgender Movement.” Now, Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation has provided an even more comprehensive treatment of the topic with a 251-page book. When Harry Became Sally is a fair and informed assessment of the transgender ideology written not to convert the activists, but rather to inform the average American that the implications of gender identity, gender fluidity, and transitioning may go beyond what we have been told by the media. In an engaging walkthrough of every aspect of this growing movement, Anderson makes it clear that we have much more to learn.The stories of psychologists, biologists, and philosophers give the book more depth than any other response to the transgender movement thus far. In a crusade dominated by emotion and skewed statistics, it is refreshing to readdress the core meaning of male and female and the differences between the sexes. Anderson moves beyond statistics and engages with literature of both sides, seeking to give readers the tools to address this movement in an informed and persuasive way.Even more moving are the testimonies of men and women who found “transitioning” was not the answer. Often squelched and silenced, the voices of these “detransitioners” are shared with no sense of bias, allowing raw experiences to do the talking and the readers to make their own conclusions.When one looks at the dangers of gender transition and accompanying reckless treatment plans, it becomes clear that transgenderism is turning medicine into a playground with no rules. Anderson draws from the care plans of physicians and psychologists to give us the data our newspapers would never publish. He tells the stories of doctors ambushed for asking questions and children being given more authority than an average adult. Things are changing, medicine is being politicized, and children are becoming the choosers, even though all the research points in the opposite direction as the path to comprehensive health.This deviates from the typical brash narratives of transgenderism. As Anderson makes clear, he is not seeking to destroy a movement, but to save lives. Never failing to speak with love, the author has given us one of the most systematic and sensitive approaches to gender identity. As we follow the different waves of feminism and philosophy, it is evident that this ideology had been percolating for years, but our society is only now coming to face the ramifications. His brilliant overview of policy shows that everyone is affected by this movement. While legislative bans and surgical operations seem like the simplest solution to our problem, they only put a Band-Aid on a very large wound and drive a wedge deeper into a cracked foundation.With grace and humility, Anderson acknowledges that our society is not perfect. In fact, he admits that societal stereotypes greatly contribute to many distortions of gender identity. Anderson is not seeking to validate stereotypes, but to illuminate how complex the issue is. We have rushed to medical and political decisions that have radical implications, without truly understanding what we have done. Anderson asks us to think, not simply with our hearts, but with our heads.Anderson’s main goal is to inform and encourage, reminding us that taking a position is not enough. There is still much to be done, still much to be explained, still much to be researched. In the meantime, we are doing irreparable damage and silencing voices, rather than empowering them. Anderson proves that we must hold on to the reality of humans being embodied as male or female, even while society diminishes the importance of human nature altogether. Our culture believes that breaking foundations is the only form of progress, but this will only destabilize the moral architecture of society.Hannah Borchers is an intern at Family Research Council.
After winning a legal battle to take a toddler off life support against the wishes of his parents, a children’s hospital in the U.K. denied oxygen and nutrition to a sick child in their care for over 24 hours. Twenty-three-month-old Alfie Evans defied the expectations of his doctors and survived for five days. He died on April 28th.What could make a hospital so determined to watch a toddler die? They claimed in court that it was in Alfie’s “best interest.”Alfie Evans had a degenerative neurological condition which doctors were unable to definitively diagnose. All that Alfie’s parents wanted was the chance to transfer the child to a hospital in Italy that was willing to treat him. They wanted to explore treatment options before giving up on their child. The U.K. courts refused to let that happen. This shows that the courts did not simply think that Alfie was incapable of surviving due to his condition. It exposes the fact that the government believes in its ability to make life and death pronouncements for those requiring medical treatment.This assertion that living isn’t in the “best interest” of someone who is ill or disabled might sound familiar from history class.The American eugenics movement in the Progressive Era (1890’s-1920’s) wanted to create a socially advanced society by better “breeding.” To achieve this genetically superior population, advocates of eugenics had a simple solution. It was to intervene in the family life of those lacking “usefulness”—people viewed as unable to contribute to society, economically or otherwise. Eugenics policies sought to eliminate these people from society through forced sterilizations and marriage restrictions to prevent procreation by those deemed “socially inadequate.”Eugenicists were confident they could manage human evolution to produce a more intelligent and productive population. Today, medical advances are making it easier to discover and abort unborn children with disabilities and other “unwanted” traits. As a result, the same ethical questions that surrounded the American eugenics movement remain relevant today.In pursuit of a more “perfect” society, the United States forcibly sterilized more than 60,000 Americans, mostly from 1907 to the early 1940’s, all to reduce the number of disabled or otherwise “undesirable” members of society.The disabled were a primary target of eugenicists. It was argued that their lives were of no use to society or to themselves. That’s a lot like saying it’s not in the "best interest” of an ill toddler to explore treatment options, but to die instead.This is the essence of the brutality of the eugenics mindset. Hospitals are places intended for healing and recovery. Yet, they weren’t places for disabled patients to receive that kind of treatment in the Progressive era. Instead, they were places where physicians targeted the vulnerable.To prevent the vision of the eugenics movement from becoming a reality, we must make sure no group of people become our contemporary “socially inadequate” class.It can be comforting to think about the evil of eugenics as a problem buried in the distant past. Western culture is more enlightened and tolerant now, right?Alfie Evans’ situation demonstrates that the West is not immune to the hate and condescension toward human life that was present in the eugenics movement of the Progressive Era.The way a society treats its most vulnerable members speaks to its moral health. The American eugenics movement sought to rid society of the weak. Our response to situations like Alfie’s should be to affirm that every life is worth living, and that the value of a life is not determined by the financial hardships or inconveniences it might cause.The government should not and cannot determine when life is worth living or when death is in someone’s “best interest.” All people have dignity as image bearers of God, who has granted us the right to live out the life He gave us.All persons deserve to be protected by our laws and accepted into our families. Neither the government nor physicians have the moral authority to say otherwise.Ronald Reagan often quipped, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take it all away.” Alfie’s case shows just how true this is. The U.K.’s state-run National Health Service is big enough to grant health care to the entire population. We’re now finding out it is also powerful enough to deny that health care when they see fit.Governments that hold this type of power will inevitably abuse it. George Santayana’s maxim that “those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it” is dead right. Currently, the U.K.’s handling of Alfie Evans’ situation echoes the talking points of the eugenics movement. This should terrify us.Arielle Del Turco graduated from Regent University in 2018.
Dear Friends,Bishop Robert Barron recently wrote a concise yet profound reflection on John 17:1-11. Here it is in full (emphasis mine):“Friends, Jesus’ prayer in today’s Gospel sums up his wonderful work as he is about to return to his Father. Jesus was, in his very person, the meeting of heaven and earth. God and humanity came together in him, and his entire ministry was the outward expression of that inward identity. By calling a scattered Israel to unity, inviting the poor to table fellowship, healing the sick in body and heart, and embodying the path of forgiveness and love, Jesus was bringing God’s will and purpose to earth.Now, in his Passion and Death, Jesus brought heaven all the way down into the world. He carried the divine light into the darkest places of the human condition—hatred, cruelty, violence, corruption, stupidity, suffering, and death itself—and thereby transformed them. And the proof that heaven is able to transform earth is, of course, the Resurrection. Now we know that cruelty, hatred, violence, fear, suffering, and death are not the most powerful forces in the world. Now we know that the divine love is more powerful. God’s kingdom has, in principle, broken the kingdoms of the world, which thrive upon, and in turn produce, those very negativities.”This is a great reminder for believers to not be afraid of witnessing this divine love to those who do not believe. Christ has transformed even the worst thing that can possibly happen in life—death. We truly have nothing to fear.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 MediaOne Year Later: The Impact of President Trump’s Executive Order Protecting Religious Liberty – Travis WeberFairfax County School Board to Teach Kids: “Biological Sex Is Meaningless” – Cathy RuseRemembering the Little Ones Up Above on Mother’s Day – Dan HartSponsors of California’s AB 2943 Claim It Wouldn’t Ban the Bible. Maybe. But What About These Books? – Peter Sprigg“Death Panels” Are Now a Reality – Patrina MosleySpeaker Series: NIFLA: Preserving Free Speech for Those Who Advocate for Women and the Unborn – Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.)Religious Liberty and National Security Go Hand in Hand Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareHow a ‘Far-Left Propaganda Machine’ Got a Respected Legal Group Expelled by Amazon – Greg Scott, The Daily SignalStudy: Trump Religious Freedom Order Helps 13.7 Million Receive Health Care and Social Services – Tyler O'Neil, PJ MediaTony Perkins appointed to US panel on international religious freedom – Jack Jenkins, Religion News ServiceCatholic Marriage Counselor Fired Because of her Religious Beliefs – ToddStarnes.comLGBT Activists Falsely Smear Those Protecting Children in Need – Monica Burke, The Daily SignalBusinesses to Avoid If You Can – Mark Bauerlein, First Things5 Reasons The Southern Poverty Law Center Is A Hate-Mongering Scam – Joy Pullmann, The FederalistTrump Religious Freedom Order Helps Charities Serve Over 13.7 Million in Need, Analysis Finds – Samuel Smith, The Christian PostCollege demands student remove Jesus, Bible references from graduation speech. Then she fights back – Dave Urbanski, The BlazeFight over cross at Florida public park resumes before appeals court – Kim Chatelain, The Times-PicayuneInternational Religious FreedomNorth Korea’s Prisoner Release: 3 Down, 119,997 to Go – Olivia Enos, The Daily SignalExplosions at 3 Indonesian churches leave at least 2 dead: reports – Max Greenwood, The HillArrested in Chengdu – June Cheng, WORLDState Department knocks China over church harassment – Joel Gehrke, Washington ExaminerMilitary Religious FreedomLawmakers Say Army May Have Violated Law by Targeting Baptist Chaplain – ToddStarnes.com LifeAbortionIowa legislature votes to ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected – Nancy Flanders, Live ActionPlanned Parenthood sues Iowa for banning abortion of babies with beating hearts – Claire Chretien, LifeSiteNewsNew Device Lets Pregnant Moms Take Ultrasound Pictures of Their Baby on Their Phone – Micaiah Bilger, LifeNewsThousands protest Trudeau’s abortion agenda at Canadian March for Life – Lianne Laurence, LifeSiteNewsI Had an Abortion. Here’s the Message I Want to Share With Other Women. – Victoria Robinson, The Daily SignalAdoption4 Things a Birth Mom Wants Adoptive Families To Know – Adrian Collins, Her View From Home10 things that will kill your orphan care ministry: Part 4 – Rick Morton, Ethics & Religious LibertyCommissionWill Placing Fewer Children in Foster Care Fix the System? – Naomi Schaefer Riley, Family StudiesThe Ache While We Wait to Adopt – Caroline Saunders, Her View From HomeBioethicsJudge Overturns California Law Legalizing Assisted Suicide – Steven Ertelt, LifeNews FamilyMarriageDaily Rituals Cultivate Lasting Love – Amber Lapp, Family StudiesHe’s My Husband, Not My Savior – Kelli Bachara, Her View From HomeEncouragement for New Moms – Alysse ElHage, Family StudiesEconomics/EducationNew Data Show California Kids’ Math Achievement Took A Nosedive After Common Core – Joy Pullmann, The FederalistWhy Employers Are Ignoring The Untapped Potential Of Stay-At-Home Moms – Joy Pullmann, The FederalistThis Is a Bad Look: In Current Farm Bill, Conservatives Prop Up Rich Farmers – Daren Bakst, The Daily SignalStraight Talk About the Success Sequence, Marriage, and Poverty – W. Bradford Wilcox, Family StudiesFaith/Character/CultureThe War on Wisdom – Dennis Prager, The Daily SignalYou Can Pursue Your Dreams and Love Your Family – Katie Warner, National Catholic RegisterThe Democrats’ God Gap – David French, National ReviewNevada bank robber, FBI agent who arrested him, pray at White House – Debra J. Saunders, Las Vegas Review-Journal‘Every Day With Her Was the Best Day:’ Remembering My Mom – Armstrong Williams, The Daily SignalThe Childhood Quality That’s the Best Predictor of Health, Wealth, and Happiness – Annie Holmquist, Intellectual TakeoutHuman SexualityMale Sexlessness is Rising, But Not for the Reasons Incels Claim – Lyman Stone, Family StudiesWhy A Compromise On Transgender Politics Would Be Capitulation – Walt Heyer, The FederalistConsent is No Cure – Craig Michael White, Ethika PolitikaHuman TraffickingUncovering The Silent Sex Trafficking Epidemic In New York City – Fight the New DrugChristian Rocker Risks Life in Undercover Mission to Rescue Victims in Sex Trade – Jeannie Law, The Christian PostPornographyYou Can Write An Open Letter to the Pornography Industry – National Center on Sexual Exploitation
The Fairfax County School Board is poised to make some radical changes to their sex ed curriculum.Already, each public school student must suffer through 80 hours of sex ed. That’s not a typo: 8-0.They call it “Family Life Education” but everybody knows that’s a joke. You won’t find lessons on building happy marriages and healthy families here. No, instead you’ll find hour after hour of instruction on your evolving “sexual identity,” on the proper handling of contraceptive drugs and devices, and on how to give consent for sex.(Here is a balanced review of every current sex ed lesson.) But even these lessons were too repressive for the kids, in the eyes of this longtime Democrat-controlled School Board.Last week at the Fairfax County School Board meeting, the committee of hand-picked sex ed advisors pitched an overhaul of the curriculum which will take things from bad to worse.A summary of the changes drafted by the Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee, or FLECAC, can be found here (but don’t ever trust the School Board’s summaries; click on the Board Docs link for the full report, and skip to the final three pages to read the dissenting opinion). The vast majority of the 24 voting members – including a 9th grade student in braces – voted enthusiastically for all changes. Only three members voted against the changes.Here is what the Fairfax County officials want to do:Teach Fairfax kids they weren’t actually born male or female. Advisors scrubbed “biological sex” from all lessons and in its place put the politically-charged “gender-fluid” propaganda term “sex assigned at birth.” As one advisor explained: “Biological sex is meaningless!”Teach 7th and 8th grade students to embrace transgender identity, but don’t tell them about the risks. Advisors voted against telling children about any of the health risks and side effects from “gender transitioning.”Teach the daily drug regimen Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP, to every high school student every year. PrEP is designed for people “at very high risk” of contracting HIV (defined by the Centers for Disease Control as men who have sex with men without condoms). Leading AIDs experts have said that PrEP will lead to a public health catastrophe for encouraging risky sex, and PrEP has not even been approved by the FDA for use by children under 18. Stop telling students that “abstinence is the only 100 percent effective method” to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Advisors mocked abstinence education, then voted to take out this phrase.Teach students how to use every imaginable contraceptive drug, device, and cream, but don’t tell them about health risks or side effects.Strip parents of their right to opt their kids out of an 8th grade lesson on dating and family. (The Fairfax School Board thrusts all of these lessons on kids unless their parents affirmatively tell them to stop.)Remove an offensive word: The sex ed advisors have finally identified a word that was too offensive for students to hear. They voted to strip the word “clergy” from the list of trusted adults that students might consult with sexual identity concerns. The School Board is accepting public comments until June 8 on the proposed changes.They will vote on the changes at a school board meeting on June 14.Fairfax kids deserve better. And the Fairfax School Board members need to find another line of work.
“We shall find our little ones again up above.”-St. Zelie MartinRecently, the state of Nebraska passed a bill that is the first of its kind in the history of the United States. The bill allows parents who have lost a child due to miscarriage to apply for a commemorative birth certificate as long as a health care practitioner has verified the pregnancy. Unlike previous bills which mandated that the miscarried child must have been at least 20 weeks old, this bill has no minimum gestation period.The beauty of this bill is that it publicly acknowledges the life of the unborn, no matter how short their time may have been with us. Miscarriage is an experience that is all too common but often not spoken about in our culture. It is estimated that 15-20 percent of all pregnancies in the U.S. end in miscarriage. Anecdotally, it seems to me that this number is an underestimate—almost all of the couples I know who have multiple children have experienced at least one miscarriage, if not more.Although these children are unseen and never encountered face to face, their passing has an unavoidable impact on families, especially mothers. As one woman recounts in Karen Edmiston’s book, After Miscarriage, “I could no more pretend that nothing has happened than I could pretend to be fine if my husband died.” This natural response underscores the deep wound that all mothers who have lost children experience. Many women may blame themselves or feel ashamed of their miscarriage, and may even be unaware of their grief. Holly Cave recounts one mother who confided to her:“I thought to grieve you had to have lost something you’d met – like a person that you had talked to – or you could grieve over a baby that maybe you’d held,” she tells me. “I didn’t know anything about grief… I didn’t know whether I should leave that to people who had lost actual people, not a very, very tiny baby that you’ve never met.”As Edmiston explains, “Grief is necessary, and our children deserve the dignity of our mourning, the recognition of their infinite worth, the respect that is manifest in our grieving of their passing.” Grief is an affirmation of love. It is an affirmation that a child is missed. It is clear that our society needs to do a better job of honoring the grief of women who have experienced miscarriage. The Nebraska birth certificate bill is a great start in bringing a tragic event into the light in order to help facilitate healing for mothers and their families, especially by officially pronouncing a name for the unknown child. Although no parent should feel guilty if they have not thought of giving their child a name, this can be a beautiful way of affirming God’s gift of life. As Christians, we believe that the life in the womb of a mother possesses an eternal soul, and therefore, the child may possess a name. “Names are powerful,” Edmiston writes. “They identify us, shape us, connect us to one another. . . It is a small but very real gift you can give to the baby you were not able to see or embrace.”On this Mother’s Day, let us remember and pray in a special way for all those mothers who have children whose lives ended before they were born—from miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion—or whose lives ended after birth, from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or other tragedy.Here are some resources to help those who are grieving the loss of a child:Allembrace.comNationalshare.orgCompassionatefriends.orgThroughtheheart.org
It seems that we have gone from the culture wars to the “fact-check” wars. One has been underway in recent weeks over a bill making its way through the California legislature.Put the words “California Bible ban” in a Google search and you will see what I mean.The California Family Council and Alliance Defending Freedom were among the first to raise the alarm that Assembly Bill 2943 could be interpreted to ban sales of the Bible. Snopes, FactCheck.org, and PolitiFact all tried to debunk the claim. The FactCheck piece reproduces an April 22 tweet from the bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Evan Low, stating, “It does not ban bibles nor does it ban the basic sales of books as some would have you believe.” But a number of careful and thoughtful conservative writers—such as Michael Brown, David French, Rod Dreher, my colleague at Family Research Council Travis Weber, and Robert Gagnon (here and here) have continued to express alarm about the bill (albeit with slightly different emphases). Does Assembly Bill 2943 actually “ban the Bible” in California? In one sense, no—but in another sense, maybe. Sometimes, what is needed is a not a “fact-check” with a simple true or false answer, but a “perspective check,” explaining why some people make a particular argument and what evidence they cite to support it.What AB 2943 Does Not DoLet me state a couple things that are definitely not true about AB 2943 and the Bible, which some of the more sensational headlines about “California wants to ban the Bible” might be misinterpreted to imply.First of all, “banning the Bible” is definitely not the main purpose of AB 2943. Its purpose is to greatly expand an existing restriction (the first in the nation when enacted in 2012) upon the practice of “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE), now routinely referred to by critics (but rarely by practitioners) as “conversion therapy.” I have had concerns about some of the “Bible ban” talk, if only because the core issue—a ban on therapy for those with unwanted same-sex attractions—has sometimes been almost forgotten.It is a fact that some people with same-sex attractions experience those feelings as unwanted; some of those have sought therapy or counseling to overcome those attractions; and some of those have testified to the success of such therapy in helping them overcome those attractions, and now identify as “ex-gay.” LGBT activists are offended that some people with same-sex attractions don’t want to be “gay,” so they are attempting to eliminate that option by claiming that such therapy is ineffective, as well as harmful to those who undertake it. (Family Research Council disputes those claims.) California’s 2012 law prohibited SOCE only for clients who are minors, and only when conducted by licensed mental health providers. AB 2943 would expand the ban to apply to clients of any age (including consenting adults), and any type of counselor (including religious ones), as long as there is an exchange of money for the service.Secondly, there is no legislative language in AB 2943 that refers specifically to the Bible. As Snopes explained in its article debunking the supposed “Bible ban” claim, “California Assembly Bill 2943 does not mention the Bible, Christianity, or religion at all.” That sentence—with the key word being “mention”—is correct. (That does not mean it would not affect them, however.)Thirdly, even if AB 2943 could have an effect upon the Bible, it would only be upon the sale of the Bible. The bill is in the form of an amendment to the state’s consumer fraud laws, so there must be some commercial transaction (involving an exchange of money) to trigger its provisions. The bill does not prohibit the possession, reading, publication, teaching, or free distribution of the Bible.How Could AB 2943 Ban Sales of the Bible?The concern that AB 2943 could be used to ban sales of the Bible is an inference from, rather than an explicit statement in, the language of the bill. However, the bill is thirteen pages long, most of which is just a recapitulation of the existing consumer fraud law. To understand the change that is being proposed, one has to search and extract the substantive language from the bill. Here are the key segments, with ellipses ( . . . ) where text has been omitted. First is the bill’s definition of “sexual orientation change efforts” (emphasis mine):(i) (1) “Sexual orientation change efforts” means any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.Here is the actual language prohibiting SOCE:1770. (a) The following unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices undertaken by any person in a transaction intended to result or that results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer are unlawful: . . .(28) Advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.Key Words: “Behaviors” and “Goods”How does this apply to the Bible? Likely through two key words, highlighted in the bill text above.The first of these is “behaviors.” When most people think of “sexual orientation change efforts,” they probably think of the second part of the bill’s definition: efforts “to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.” LGBT activists claim that such “attractions or feelings” are innate and immutable. The same, of course, cannot be said about “behaviors,” which can be changed at will. I suspect, however, that those activists worried that if therapy to help people change their “behaviors” were permitted, it would constitute a loophole that would allow SOCE to continue.The problem with outlawing “efforts to change behaviors,” however, is that almost all moral and religious teaching about how we should live involves “efforts to change behaviors.” “Don’t lie.” “Don’t steal.” “Treat your father and mother with respect.” There are all sorts of religiously-rooted assertions directing people to modify “behavior.” Let us not forget the age-old admonition: “Behave!” When Leviticus 18:22 cites God telling Moses, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female” (NASB), that clearly seems to be an “effort to change behaviors.”The second key word is “goods.” As noted above, the main purpose of the bill is to outlaw a certain type (or more accurately, a goal) of therapy, which would generally be considered a “service.” However, the ban on change efforts applies to any “transaction intended to result or that results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer.” Although one bill critic has suggested that the language about “the sale or lease of goods” does not apply to SOCE, the term “any practices” in the definition of SOCE appears to be broad enough to encompass the practice of selling books.No, the text of AB 2943 does not mention the Bible. But since the “sale . . . of goods” could include the sale of books (such as the Bible), and since the moral teachings of the Bible include “efforts to change behaviors” (such as homosexual behavior), critics of AB 2943 have warned that it could, at least theoretically, be used to ban the sale of Bibles in California.Possible vs. LikelyNow, if AB 2943 is enacted, is California likely to leap directly to banning sales of the Bible? Perhaps not, for several reasons. As noted above, banning Bible sales is not the main purpose of the bill, and while the Bible supports sexual orientation change (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11), that is hardly its main theme. At least initially, a prosecutor would likely seek an easier target, and one more directly relevant to sexual orientation change efforts. In addition, it is likely that the Supreme Court (at least in 2018, as currently constituted) would strike down any effort to ban sales of the Bible.Still, the argument that AB 2943 could, even theoretically, be used to ban sales of the Bible is an important one, if only because it demonstrates how sweeping and poorly written the bill is. That should be reason enough for California legislators to oppose it.While the Bible may be safe in the short run, I have less confidence in the long run. Zack Ford is a homosexual activist and writer with ThinkProgress who wrote a piece claiming it is “nonsense” that AB 2943 would “ban the Bible.” Yet ironically, that same piece links to a 2016 article Ford wrote asserting that “When Gay People Are Told That Homosexuality Is A Sin,” that “message alone is harmful.” The assertion that a piece of moral teaching from the Bible is not merely incorrect, but is tangibly “harmful,” seems like a way of laying the groundwork for legal restrictions upon that very biblical teaching.Which Books Would Be Banned?Even if sales of the Bible in California continue unhindered (for now), what about other books? As I have already stated, I think the argument is strong that AB 2943 could be used, generally, to ban the sale of certain books.Take a look, for instance, at the books in the photo at the beginning of this post. This is just a sample of the books I pulled off my bookshelf, from the library I have accumulated in 17 years at Family Research Council. The books pictured are not just ones that deal generally with Christian moral teaching on sexuality. Unlike the Bible, these eight books are specifically and entirely about sexual orientation change efforts.There can be no question that the sponsors of AB 2943 would prefer that books like this did not exist. Could the bill be used to ban their sale?Some supporters of therapy bans (a number of which have been enacted in the wake of California’s action in 2012) have argued that they do not prevent someone from expressing the opinion that homosexuality is undesirable, or expressing the opinion that it can change, or even expressing the opinion that therapy can facilitate such change. All they ban is someone actually undertaking such efforts. So maybe a few of these books would escape California’s new censors.But what about James E. Phelan’s Practical Exercises for Men in Recovery of Same-Sex Attraction (SSA)? This book appears to have no purpose other than actually bringing about sexual orientation change in the men who read it. Under AB 2943, how could California allow “any practice” that includes the “sale of” this particular “good?”Banning Books is TotalitarianIn the past few weeks, Christians have been shocked by the possibility of a state banning the sale of the Bible.But shouldn’t every American be shocked at the thought of a state banning the sale of any books based on their philosophical, religious, or moral viewpoint?Banning books because one doesn’t like their message?In the United States of America?In this country, you can sell all kinds of books.You can sell Mein Kampf, and The Communist Manifesto. Bookstores sell the celebration of sado-masochism of Fifty Shades of Grey, and the celebration of sodomy in Allen Ginsberg’s Howl.But now, California might ban the sale of Practical Exercises for Men in Recovery of Same-Sex Attraction? Or ban Coming Out Straight—just because it says that for “those who struggle with their own same-sex attractions,” it will “open the door to a new, happier, and fulfilling heterosexual life”?The idea of banning books—any books—because the authorities don’t like their message is totalitarian. In the United States of America, it should be unthinkable. California legislators should affirm that it is unthinkable—by voting “No” on AB 2943.Banning Therapy is Totalitarian, TooWhile the prospect of the Bible—or any books—being “banned” from sale has focused attention on AB 2943, I hope it will also bring people’s attention to the central issue:Banning a client-chosen goal of therapy is just as totalitarian.By framing their assault upon the freedom of therapists and clients as an exercise of the state’s power to regulate health care or (in the case of AB 2943) to prevent “consumer fraud,” LGBT activists have masked how unprecedented these therapy bans are in the history of American law or counseling.Note that what these bills seek to outlaw is not a particular therapeutic technique. While advocates will tell stories (some of them far-fetched) about being victims of “aversion therapy” techniques that have not been used in 40 or 50 years, the prohibition is not limited to “aversion therapy.” When pressed, sponsors must admit that they seek to outlaw ordinary talk therapy as well. What these laws and bills target is nothing more or less than a goal: “to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.” This is extraordinary.Supporters of the bans will also imply that people are “coerced” into undertaking SOCE. That problem (if it exists) could be resolved by requiring “informed consent” before therapy. The prohibitionists reject that, insisting on banning all therapy, even if the client desperately wants it. (Can you imagine the outcry from some of these same activists on the Left if conservatives argued, “Because some women are coerced into having abortions, the only solution is to prohibit any women from obtaining them”?)Therapy bans violate freedom of speech for therapists, freedom of religion for clients and therapists, and the privacy of the therapist-client relationship.They should outrage every freedom-loving American, and should be opposed by every legislator.

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