FRC Blog

War on the Pledge: new tactics, but the same tired thinking

by Travis Weber

April 23, 2014

The American Humanist Association (AHA) recently filed suit against the Monmouth County (New Jersey) Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District. The offending action? The school district is following a state law providing that students recite the Pledge of Allegiance each day. The thinking behind this and other suits is the same tired thinking that any such mention of God in a public body violates constitutional protections. Usually some alleged violation of the Establishment Clause is claimed.

Yet here, the AHA and its plaintiffs (who remain anonymous) have alleged that this recitation of the Pledge violates Equal Protection provisions contained in the New Jersey Constitution. No doubt this is an attempt to test a legal pathway for success in knocking the Pledge out of public life. This would be a win for the AHA, which likely cares very little for legal integrity but very much in achieving its goal. Yet the idea that the Pledge discriminates against some students is ridiculous. Students already have the right to refrain from reciting the Pledge. The AHA and its “plaintiffs” in this case want to force everyone else to stop saying it too.

While the AHA identifies itself, the offended student and parents remain unidentified. While reasons for anonymity in litigation vary from case to case, here it is likely they are afraid of the pushback they would receive should they be known as the plaintiffs in this suit. Yet pushback would be understandable, especially when one is the catalyst for a meddling organization to come in from out of state and tell local students and their parents how to live their lives day to day.

Yet the philosophy underlying this and similar claims begs a larger discussion. As courts have interpreted the Establishment Clause to eliminate even relatively minor indicia of religious expression from public life on the grounds that such mention is state “endorsement” of religion, public bodies are left to operate in a philosophical vacuum. Courts have permitted public schools to “endorse” secularism and humanist principles. The result is an “establishment” of a “state philosophy” and orthodoxy of secularism, with the full force of the government and power of law promoting these beliefs.

As a result, the courts have bought into a lie that scrubbing God from public life to “comply” with the Establishment Clause will lead to the ideal result – an even playing field in which no one view is promoted. Yet a philosophical vacuum cannot exist for long. And since indicia of religion are being eliminated from public schools, indicia of alternative belief systems (secularism and humanism) have rushed in to fill the void. The result is that we are indeed left with a state established religion – the “religion” of humanism.

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Setting the World On Fire” — Ben and Grace’s Holy Matrimony

by Robert Morrison

April 23, 2014

I was struck by a line in Scripture this past week that I had never noticed before. It occurs in the Garden of Gethsemane as Jesus prays and sweats blood: “Then all the disciples deserted Him and fled.” (Matthew 26:56). All? Yes, all. And that desertion happened among the men Jesus had personally selected as His followers. He who knows all about each one of us chose men who would desert Him when put to the test? We all know what happened after that mass desertion. Those fearful, fleeing men stopped, turned, and seeing their Risen Savior, one of them even said: “My Lord and My God!”

And then came Pentecost. Those men changed. From being fearful and cringing, they changed into bold and undaunted. They proclaimed the truth even when it cost them their lives.

We’ve seen too much hand-wringing during this past Lenten season in the U.S.; all the white flags are fluttering, and the idea that marriage is over in America and perhaps the world is taking hold among the chattering classes. It’s inevitable, they say. How can we “finesse” this issue so we can get about the business of politics — which is all about money, after all.

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John Paul Stevens and the Constitution

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 22, 2014

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, a stalwart member of the Court’s liberal phalanx, has published a book calling for six amendments to the Constitution he believes would benefit the nation.

I have not reviewed his proposals carefully, although should I do so it is likely I would disagree with most, if not all, of them.  However, Justice Stevens should be applauded at least for this: He recognizes that the text of the Constitution is sufficiently clear that what he thinks should be changed demands amending, as the Founders envisioned, not reinterpretation to facilitate legislation from the bench.

We have a written Constitution precisely because the Founders did not want a national government with expansive, broadening, and undefined powers.  For this reason, they gave us the Tenth Amendment, which says, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  They also gave us the process for amending the Constitution, which we have done 27 times since the document’s ratification.

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Review: God’s Not Dead

by Kathy Athearn

April 22, 2014

What would you do if your college philosophy professor told the class to write “God is dead” on a piece of paper, sign it, and hand it in, or else risk 30% of your grade? In the movie, “God’s Not Dead,” a freshman named Josh Wheaton is told just that. Josh looks around the room and watches everyone do just as the professor said. But as a Christian, he can’t bring himself to do it. As a result, the professor tells him that he must present his argument for why God is NOT dead to the entire class for the next several weeks. Then the class will vote on whether God is dead or alive.

Josh is now sacrificing grades in his other classes in order to devote time and energy to prove that God’s not dead. He also faces pressure from everyone —his parents, girlfriend, friends —to just let it go, and let the professor win his argument. But Josh just can’t do it. A local pastor helps him to stand up and defend the Truth, reminding him of what Jesus said in Matthew 10:32-33, “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.”

Josh does a masterful job of arguing for God’s existence, angering his professor and slowly impacting his classmates. Josh knows that his purpose in life is to glorify God in every area of life, and he’s not going to let anyone frustrate or distract him.

As we witness the erosion of religious freedom in our country (especially for orthodox Christians) and we hear about the horrific persecution and massacre of Christians in other parts of the world, it is easy to become discouraged or disheartened. But I hope you take the time to watch “God’s Not Dead.” It is a positive, hope-filled movie that will inspire you to stand up and speak the Truth in Love. As our Redeemer said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world! (John 16:33b)

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Kirsten Dunst Is a Good Sociologist

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 21, 2014

I know virtually nothing about contemporary stars and starlets, other than having consistently to turn away from the images of the substantially disrobed young “entertainers” displayed on the jumbotron across from my office in advertisements for their latest performances. Pornography, by any other name, ain’t art.

But I’m aware of the actress Kirsten Dunst for two reasons: Her memorable performance as a child in 1994’s “Little Women” and the fact that “Dunst” is a fine German name, not unlike my own (she apparently has dual U.S. and German citizenship; warum nicht?).

Now, however, Ms. Dunst is much in the news for having the audacity to say what she thinks of gender roles, to wit:

I feel like the feminine has been a little undervalued … We all have to get our own jobs and make our own money, but staying at home, nurturing, being the mother, cooking – it’s a valuable thing my mum created. And sometimes, you need your knight in shining armour. I’m sorry. You need a man to be a man and a woman to be a woman. That’s why relationships work”.

Wow - how revolutionary! The idea that gender is not a social construct but actually has to do with biology, neurology, morphology, physiology, etc. is an affront to the received orthodoxy of the feminist left, many of whom have piled-on with a predictable combination of derision, illogic, non-sequitur reasoning, and obscenity.

Yet Ms. Dunst’s view corresponds with the science far more than do the opinions of her attackers. Consider the words of Oxford-trained neuroscientist Zeenat Zaidi: “Studies of perception, cognition, memory and neural functions have found apparent gender differences. These differences may be attributed to various genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors and do not reflect any overall superiority advantage to either sex”.

So, men and women are different, and being a stay-at-home mother who cares for her children is something to be honored, not scorned: For affirming these self-evident truths, Ms. Dunst is being labeled “dumb” and ‘insufferable,” among the more printable adjectives.

Whatever the merits or demerits of her various film roles, Ms. Dunst has “committed truth” in the public square, and for this deserves strong support from those who believe that a child needs a male dad and a female mom, and that the distinctions between the two are immutable and beneficial.

So, to my fellow German-American Kirsten Dunst: Herzlichen Glückwunsch, fraulein. Können Sie Ihren Stamm Anstieg (sincere good wishes, young lady; may your tribe increase)!

For more FRC resources on male-female complementarity, see “Complementarity in Marriage” and “Truth is the Greatest Weapon

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Another Maternal RU-486 Fatality - This Time in Ital

by Chris Gacek

April 21, 2014

The Family Research Council has tracked safety news about the abortion drug, mifepristone (RU-486; also, Mifeprex®), since its approval as an abortifacient in 2000 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It is with sadness that we learned on April 11 of another fatality from the use of the RU-486 abortion regimen. (RU-486 is the first drug administered in a two-drug abortion-producing regimen in which the second drug is misoprostol (Cytotec®).)

An Italian news source (The Local) carried an online article about the death of a 37-year-old woman who was treated at theMartiniHospital inTurin. The woman had taken the mifepristone but only started to experience difficulties four hours after taking the misoprostol – which she did two days after taking the first pills. The misoprostol is needed to induce forceful uterine contractions to expel the dead baby (a human embryo at that point) and other tissue from the uterus.

After taking the misoprostol, she complained of not being able to breathe normally. Shortly, thereafter, she began to experience atrial fibrillation, an irregular, rapid heartbeat. Her heart then stopped and could not be revived. She was in good health and the mother of a four-year-old boy.

I believe there have been about 15 cases of death following the use of the mifepristone abortion regime of which we are aware. Nations likeChinaare not even on the adverse event reporting grid, and the drug is used heavily in the PRC. Hemorrhage, infection, and incomplete abortions are common failures of all chemical abortion regimens.

LifeNews has posted an excellent story on this Italian death that contains more information on the safety of RU-486. Also, in May 2012 the Family Research Council published a paper containing a safety profile for the mifepristone-misoprostol regimen from 2000-12.

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Chinese Woman Speaks Out: “It is better to be a criminal in China than a pregnant mother”

by Arina Grossu

April 16, 2014

Steven Mosher from the Population Research Institute recently received this anonymous letter from a grieving mother in China who said, “It is better to be a criminal in China than a pregnant mother.”

She went on to talk about the discrimination against women that takes place if a woman has an “illegal” child in violation of the one-child policy. A woman who simply wants to be a mother is treated worse than a criminal:

•She is not allowed to apply for a job without a “Family Planning Certificate” proving that she does not have any “illegal” children, whereas a released criminal can.

• In some cities, the Family Planning Bureau operates outside the law and can illegally arrest and detain without an arrest warrant. The Family Planning Bureau is not authorized to carry out such arrests but it does so anyway. Criminals do not go through this injustice.

•She cannot take legal action because no people’s court will handle cases involving family planning issues.

•She is not allowed to hire an attorney although by law she has that right and criminals enjoy that right.

•She is forced to pay 20 or 30 Yuan a night in prison awaiting trial, although by law a suspected criminal pays nothing.

•The law protects the unborn child of a criminal, even if that criminal has been sentenced to death. The authorities wait until the child has been born before carrying out the sentence. A pregnant woman with an “illegal” child does not have such legal protection.

•Criminals are permitted to communicate with their family. On the other hand, a pregnant woman and her family members can be held incommunicado by the Family Planning Bureau indefinitely.

•If a woman and her family are unable to pay the fine for conceiving an illegal child, the child will be forcibly aborted or, if born, will be sold. She can also be forcibly sterilized.

It is a tragedy that pregnant women whose only “crime” is wanting to keep their children are treated so inhumanely in China. If a woman is too poor to pay a fine for having more than one child, she is subjected to cruel treatment that destroys the life of both the mother and her child. Even criminals have more rights in China than pregnant women. To read the full letter go to Population Research Institute.

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Dawn over the Jefferson Memorial

by Robert Morrison

April 15, 2014

Well, she did it again this year. My dear wife of 425 months decided to add one more item to an already full schedule on Palm Sunday.

Let’s go by and see the Cherry Blossoms,” she piped up. I groaned. Not this Sunday. There will be millions of people there. We’ll get stuck in traffic, just like we did last year. Can’t we go some other time?

Of course, that’s part of the great appeal of the Cherry Blossoms in Washington. They come when they come. And it’s hard to predict how long they will last. Even a brief thunderstorm can put an end to them.

But, this Palm Sunday was already looking very full. First, I had to visit a friend in jail. (Yes, we do that kind of thing.) Then, we were slated to attend worship services with friends at their Northern Virginia church. After that, we were slated to go to Sunday brunch. I was afraid we’d get stuck in one of those can’t go ahead, can’t go back congested affairs around the Jefferson Memorial and the Tidal Basin. We’d be locked in and it would throw off the whole day’s schedule.

Let’s go early, my bride countered. Very early. So we did. The sun was just rising over the Capitol as we entered Washington. The stately dome with its Statue of Freedom was bathed in a pink glow. I pass the Capitol Dome twice a day every day I drive in to work. I never stop marveling at its ever-changing classical beauty.

This day, I tried to envision a huge banner draped across the length of the western portico of the massive structure. At just about this time of year, April, 1865, the Commissioner of Public Buildings, Benjamin Brown French, had written a message to celebrate the victory of the Union army at Appomattox. French chose the words from Psalm 118: 23:

This is the Lord’s Doing; It is marvelous in our Eyes.

Around the grounds on Capitol Hill were many lovely trees just budding out. Beautiful. Wouldn’t they do?

Not quite. On we drove down Constitution Avenue. We passed the newly restored Washington Monument. The scaffolding that has surrounded that majestic obelisk is finally down. The monument is scheduled to open again for visitors on May 12th after nearly three years of repairs. The earthquake damage of August 23, 2011, threatened to permanently close this popular tourist attraction, but an excellent job of restoration has been done.

I’ll be especially eager to walk down the stairs to the 555-foot monument and report on the many tributes to our Founding Father inscribed there. Simply to take that descent is to learn a lot about our country’s history. And, of course, there’s the simple fact that the aluminum pyramid that tops the monument has an inscription—Laus Deo—on its east front. Because the law proscribes any other building from surpassing the Washington Monument in height, the first rays of the sun will always strike those words: Praise the Lord.

Finally, we come to the Jefferson Memorial. The dawn is breaking and the Cherry Blossoms are at their peak. It is truly a sight to behold.

So I dutifully get in line with ten thousand other beholders. Even at dawn, the crowds are dense. Forget about parking. The Park Service is not interested in having you park. So we look for a place to let my wife jump out to take pictures. I’m planning to make a circuit and pick her up again. And then, seeing gridlock ahead, we decide against it.

Then, she reminds me what day this is. It’s April 13th. Why, it’s Mr. Jefferson’s birthday! That’s a rare treat. And we are here at his memorial 271 years later.

Inside that classical dome, are inscribed his words that first inspired me to take up a cause our Supreme Court had rejected:

The God Who Gave Us Life Gave Us Liberty at the Same Time.

The best part is we made it to visit our inmate friend in jail and to worship with our friends on Palm Sunday. (We made it to the brunch, too.) Next year, we vow, we’ll come earlier still. We’ll park at the office and walk over.

I’m hooked. I confess I cannot resist the pleas of my loving wife. She is right. This beauty must be seen and savored.

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UN, Please Note that Abortion is not Maternal Health Care

by Arina Grossu

April 14, 2014

The UN Commission on Population and Development held its annual meeting last week. Wendy Wright (C-FAM) delivered a statement jointly submitted by the Family Research Council, C-FAM and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG).

We must continue to hold the U.N. accountable for keeping maternal health as the priority in the agenda and not conflating it with abortion services. Here are some excerpts:

Now better than ever before, we know what it takes to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for mothers. It takes investment in education, skilled birth attendants, prenatal and antenatal care, clean water and sanitation, adequate nutrition and vitamins, antibiotics and other healing medicines, and emergency obstetric care.

Making abortion legal doesn’t improve maternal health in any way.

Maternal health care strives to make pregnancy safer for both mothers and their unborn children. Preventing births by aborting the unborn child, or preventing the human embryo from implanting in the mother’s womb does not improve the health of the mother or her unborn child.

We know what it takes to make pregnancy and childbirth safe. Maternal health care, must remain a distinct and urgent priority in the post-2015 development agenda. This cannot be confused with elective abortion, which destroys the life of innocent unborn children and places the lives of mothers in jeopardy.”

Let’s work on real solutions to improve maternal health care around the world. Abortion is not the answer.

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