The irony is almost overwhelming: We are rightly compassionate toward women whose loss of their littles ones causes such pain, but the Left is fiercely defending the nation’s largest provider of abortion by trying to discredit the organization that revealed its evil behaviors and minimizing the gravity of what Planned Parenthood does to almost-born babies.
Any society which can tolerate these things, let alone legislate for them, has ceased to be civilised. One of the major signs of decadence in the Roman Empire was that its unwanted babies were ‘exposed’, that is abandoned and left to die. Can we claim that contemporary Western society is any less decadent because it consigns its unwanted babies to the hospital incinerator instead of the local rubbish dump? Indeed modern abortion is even worse than ancient exposure because it has been commercialised, and has become, at least for some doctors and clinics, an extremely lucrative practice. But reverence for human life is an indisputable characteristic of a humane and civilised society.
The only thing that has changed is the further coarsening of our culture and the greater number of unborn deaths. And that’s why the battle for life and for the dignity of women preyed upon by the abortion industry goes on.
There has been much media discussion over what the Pope said or did on his brief visit to the United States last month. Some topics drowned in the news coverage of others. However, one thing the Pope was certainly not confused about was his stance on religious liberty. Before Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pope Francis clearly proclaimed:
“One of the highlights of my visit is to stand here, before Independence Hall, the birthplace of the United States of America. It was here that the freedoms which define this country were first proclaimed. The Declaration of Independence stated that all men and women are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that governments exist to protect and defend those rights.”
“History also shows that these or any truths must constantly be reaffirmed, re-appropriated and defended.”
Concluding his speech, he stated:
“Let us cherish freedom. Freedom of conscience, religious freedom, the freedom of each person, each family, each people, which is what gives rise to rights. May this country and each of you be renewed in gratitude for the many blessings and freedoms that you enjoy. And may you defend these rights, especially your religious freedom, for it has been given to you by God himself.”
In so clearly restating the American vision of religious liberty which has existed for over two centuries, Pope Francis reaffirmed the human right of religious liberty, given by God to all people, everywhere. In clearly restating this right, Pope Francis reiterated and reaffirmed an American ideal.
And by reminding us to defend and uphold religious freedom, Pope Francis simply reminded Americans to be American.
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The First World War began a little more than 101 years ago. It shattered a generation and its cost in lives and treasure remains stunning to contemplate.
Yet out of the war came C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, two of the 20th century’s greatest proponents of the importance of Christian virtue for all of culture. Unlike a generation of young writers who lost faith in the God of the Bible, Tolkien and Lewis produced epic stories infused with the themes of guilt and grace, sorrow and consolation. Giving an unabashedly Christian vision of hope in a world tortured by doubt and disillusionment, the two writers created works that changed the course of literature and shaped the faith of millions. Dr. Joe Loconte’s new book, A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918 is the first book to explore Tolkien and Lewis’ work in light of the spiritual crisis sparked by the conflict.
One of the things these men came to value was a core Christian commitment to the dignity of every person. As image-bearers of God, each of us has a primary duty to Him – which is the very foundation of the religious liberty which undergirds all of our other freedoms. As Lewis wrote in The Screwtape Letters, “Every Government consists of mere men … if it adds to its commands ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ it lies, and lies dangerously.”
At noon on Thursday, October 8th, join us at FRC or watch online as Dr. Loconte shares the circumstances which bound together and inspired these two dearly loved authors.
Joe Loconte (Ph.D., King’s College, University of London) teaches history at The King’s College in the heart of New York City. He has written thoughtfully on many of today’s most pressing issues, and his commentary on religion and democracy, human rights, and international religious freedom appears in the nation’s leading media outlets, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the New Republic, the Weekly Standard, and National Public Radio. He is also a regular contributor to the London-based Standpoint Magazine and Italy’s La Stampa.
Sincerely, Rob Schwarzwalder Senior Vice-President Family Research Council
P.S. Be sure to watch the speeches of leading presidential contenders and other compelling panels and events at this year’s Values Voter Summit. The stakes for the 2016 election are high, and VVS helps us understand what they are and how each of us can make a difference.
Defenders of the truth that change is possible for those with same-sex attractions will mark the Third Annual Ex-Gay Awareness Month by gathering in the Washington, DC area for a “Safe Exit Summit” on Friday and Saturday, October 2 and 3.
At a recent Democratic Party fundraiser, President Obama reportedly said:
“We affirm that we cherish our religious freedom and are profoundly respectful of religious traditions … . But we also have to say clearly that our religious freedom doesn’t grant us the freedom to deny our fellow Americans their constitutional rights.”
This is a perfect example of the incrementalism by which rights are diminished, relegated to second-class status, and eventually dismissed altogether.
President Obama’s comment may sound innocuous on its face, but what he’s actually saying is the First Amendment is to be subjugated to his own vision of society as implemented through his own view of the Fourteenth Amendment — a view which for our nation’s entire history was never even seriously considered right up to a few years ago. It’s noteworthy that President Obama also publicly opposed same-sex marriage in the not-too-distant past — a fact which should tell us (and his current swooning supporters) something about his convictions. The “constitutional rights” to which he now so confidently refers are actually nonexistent in the text or meaning of the Constitution, only imposed on the nation through one ill-formed opinion of the Supreme Court.
Yesterday, FRC Vice President Lt. Gen. (Ret.-US Army) Jerry Boykin appeared on The Dana Loesch Show to discuss the recent situation involving the training of U.S. Marines in Afghanistan. They are being trained that rape in Afghanistan is a “cultural issue.”
Earlier this month, the New York Times published an editorial regarding the First Amendment Defense Act (“FADA,” H.R. 2802 / S. 1598), alleging “G.O.P. anti-gay bigotry threatens [the] First Amendment.” However, FADA is neither bigoted nor a threat to the First Amendment.
In fact, the editorial contains a number of misrepresentations and outright lies about the original bill that was introduced and fails to address the new language Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Congressman Raul Labrador (R-ID) are pushing. Senator Lee’s letter to the Editor briefly responded to the inflammatory Times editorial.
In his letter, Senator Lee highlights that we “must come to these debates with tolerance and modesty.” Senator Lee also clarifies that the reason he is pushing for passage of FADA is that he is “concerned about what the solicitor general told the Supreme Court: that after Obergefell, the decision that legalized same-sex marriage, faith-based institutions providing valuable public services could lose their nonprofit status because of their now-heterodox beliefs about marriage. Without new protections provided by FADA, hospitals could lose Medicaid funding, and K-12 institutions could have their nonprofit status revoked.” Essentially, the impetus behind the First Amendment Defense Act is a fear of federal government persecution of believers, not outrage over gay rights.
In fact, Senator Lee clarifies that FADA would not “negate federal anti-discrimination measures protecting gays and lesbians. To the contrary, the bill does not alter any civil rights protections, state or federal.” The bill simply says the federal government may not penalize, through tax policy or the grant and contracting processes, those who disagree with the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling. The bill does not attempt to overturn the ruling, and, in fact, explicitly prevents a denial of federal benefits authorized under the Court’s new marriage definition. FADA is not an endorsement of discrimination—logically, a bill that explicitly prevents discrimination does not thereby also provide a “legal justification to discriminate.”
The Times editorial presumes that same-sex couples must not only be allowed to be married, which the Court has ruled, but also that the government must force everyone to affirm that view. This view distorts a live and let live approach on the question of marriage, and makes clear the liberal left does not simply want to secure rights for people who identify as homosexual, but wants to punish those who disagree with the Supreme Court’s inclusion of same-sex couples in its new definition of marriage. Senators and Representatives should support and co-sponsor FADA to ensure people who believe in a natural view of marriage are not pushed into the periphery of society.
In a significant article, the New York Times has broached the subject of the rampant sexual abuse of young children and teens by Afghan men. The story is tied to its reporting on the effects this has had on American forces in Afghanistan who have been told to ignore such acts – even if they occur in their presence or on military bases. As the story notes, in one example, “Dan Quinn was relieved of his Special Forces command after a fight with a U.S.-backed militia leader who had a boy as a sex slave chained to his bed.” His story and those of two other Americans is recounted. Apparently, there has been much personal and career damage caused by this amoral policy of non-intervention.
As it turns out, in Afghanistan there is a ritualized form of sexual abuse called “bacha bazi” – or boy play. (The practice was supposedly banned under the Taliban, and it is nominally illegal under current Afghan law.) The boys are often trained to dance and dress as young girls before being used for sex. Some boys are just sodomized if they can’t learn these perverse geisha-like talents.
An Afghan journalist, Najibullah Quraishi, produced a documentary, “The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan,” that was shown in London in late March 2010 (run time: 52 min; this version is available on vimeo.com). In the United States, a slightly longer and more polished production was aired on PBS’s Frontline in April 2010 under the same title. It can be found here.
The nation needs to support the efforts of Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL) who are trying to investigate this horrific practice and salvage the career of Sgt. First Class Charles Martland, a member of the Special Forces who joined Captain Quinn in beating up the Afghan who is reportedly a child-molesting commander.
Arina Grossu, Director of FRC’s Center for Human Dignity, joins Sen. Lindsay Graham and other pro-life leaders in support of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act — legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, when unborn babies become susceptible to intense pain in the womb.