FRC Blog

No Thanks, Common Core

by Sarah Perry

August 25, 2014

Too often, conservatives engaging in critical analysis of a federal policy presenting smart, salient critiques to hopefully fair-minded opponents, find themselves thrown into that category of the “lunatic fringe.” Case in point, the straw-man bonfire Family Research Council endured in the Washington Post recently.

The Post’s “Answer Sheet” took a Family Research Council fundraising letter regarding “Common Core” (in which I am named) to the level of circus fare. The author, Valerie Strauss, made reference to the derisive Twitter hashtag, “ThanksCommonCore,” equating the rhetoric in the letter with “garbage.”

It appears as if Ms. Strauss was at a loss for what to write about, and so chose to mock a fundraising letter directed toward FRC’s constituency, utterly ignoring what she calls the “legitimate criticism” we’ve offered to the CCSS Initiative in the past (I would direct her to watch our recent webcast forum, or read some of my white papers, or op-eds at TownHall.com or DailyCaller.com). Rather than moving the ball, she decided to foul another player. On her own team.

#ThanksCommonCore.

What Ms. Strauss also fails to recognize is that language employed by FRC in its letter to constituents about CCSS does not change the fact that the components of CCSS themselves are still problematic.

Everyone from the National Education Association to the Socialist Worker to the Heritage Foundation to the American Enterprise Institute have recognized the Standards as a failed experiment in test-heavy, sub-par, bureaucratic academics.

I set wholly aside the avowed directive of the CCSS (to, among other things, “broaden worldviews“). I’ll leave out of this discussion the fact that the Core’s development was steeped in secrecy, or that’s its architect, David Coleman, is now replacing the AP U.S. History Exam with a creation that shifts the landscape of American history “sharply to the left.” It is clear that the Common Core engineers had a worldview, and one they didn’t want open to discussion, which to my mind is the epitome of closed minded “nonsense.”

But from whence Common Core’s divergent critics draw our conclusions should not matter if we are all energized to the same end: its ultimate and swift repeal.

Tragically, Ms. Strauss quotes the “report” of the Southern Poverty Law Center, “Public Schools in the Crosshairs: Far-Right Propaganda and the Common Core State Standards.” That self-same “report” which lacks a single footnote or citation, that “report” which is as much propaganda itself as that which it claims to expose, that “report” which notes that “this far-right campaign is really a proxy for a broader assault on public education itself.”

As a citizen of blue-state Maryland who sends three children to public school, I speak for both myself and my organization in saying I have no interest in assaulting public education; only in making it better. I think Ms. Strauss and I agree — perhaps for different reasons — that the Common Core Standards are not the way to do so.

If we both see the initiative as riddled with problems, what good is served in criticizing the Family Research Council, aside from ingratiating Ms. Strauss to the left? Particularly in using the left’s own arguments against us? It is no secret that the Southern Poverty Law Center is no friend of the Family Research Council.

But, Ms. Strauss. I thought we were friends.

#ThanksCommonCore.

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August 24, 1814: Saving the Declaration, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights from the Flames

by Robert Morrison

August 24, 2014

Professional football Hall of Famer Steve Largent liked to tell the story of his first real visit to Washington, D.C. He had been to RFK Stadium repeatedly when his Seattle Seahawks played our Redskins. As he rode in a cab to the Capitol in 1995, the newly elected Congressman from Oklahoma (R) marveled at all the huge government buildings he saw on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue. “I wonder how many people work in those buildings,” he mused. “Oh,” his cabby said, “about half of them.”

Government workers in Washington had plenty of work to do on this date two hundred years ago. In the President’s House, First Lady Dolley Madison was supervising the emergency evacuation. During the War of 1812, most of our victories against Britain had come at sea, in ship-to-ship encounters or else on the Great Lakes. America’s army had repeatedly failed to conquer Britain’s northern dominions in Canada, but had managed to outrage the Canadians by burning their provincial capital of York, Ontario.

By 1814, it was payback time. A powerful British squadron sailed into Chesapeake Bay. Landing a strong contingent in Maryland, the redcoats marched overland. U.S. Secretary of War John Armstrong was complacent about the threat to Washington, D.C. They are headed for Baltimore, he repeatedly told subordinates. Or maybe Annapolis.

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From Annapolis: A Capitol View

by Robert Morrison

August 22, 2014

I recently celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of my thirty-ninth birthday by climbing to the top of our Old State House in Maryland. The gracious capitol building dates from the 1770s and is the oldest legislative building in continuous use in America. This Old State House was the scene of many important events in U.S. history. General Washington came here to meet with Congress in 1783. He wanted to resign his commission to the civil authorities from whom he had first received it. This noble action would make him, King George III of England said, “the greatest man in the world.”

Previous victorious commanders — like Caesar, like Cromwell — had used their military renown to establish dictatorships. Washington’s model was Cincinnatus, the Roman general who had been called from his plow to defend the republic.

Thomas Jefferson had been in the Old Senate Chamber that cold winter’s day in December 1783, when Washington appeared before a tearful body of legislators. Congressman Jefferson had in fact drafted the response that the President of Congress, Thomas Mifflin, would give to Gen. Washington.

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Iowa Judge Upholds Regulations Banning Skype Abortions

by Emily Minick

August 21, 2014

In 2008 Planned Parenthood of the Heartland in Iowa began performing what has been termed “skype abortions.” A skype abortion is where the physician never actually physically examines a patient, rather, diagnoses them via a webcast and if the patient qualifies to have a chemical abortion, pushes a button which allows RU-486 to be dispensed to the women seeking an abortion.

In August 2013 the Iowa Board of Medicine passed regulations to ban skype abortions. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland challenged the Iowa Board of Medicine’s decision, and this week Polk County District Jude Jeffrey Farrell, thankfully upheld the state Board of Medicine’s regulations to ban skype abortions.

The Board of Medicine regulations do not ban chemical abortions or the use of RU-486; rather, it places common sense regulations on the practice of dispensing RU-486, specifically requiring a doctor to physically examine the patient before prescribing RU-486 and requiring a follow-up visit, among other provisions.

As more people learn more about the practice of skype abortions, more states will take action to preserve health and safety standards for their citizens and ban this practice.

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Send Your Ice Bucket Challenge Donation to Ethical, Successful Adult Stem Cell Research

by David Prentice

August 21, 2014

You’ve probably heard of it by now, the Ice Bucket Challenge.  Those challenged are supposed either to dump an ice bucket of cold water over their head, or donate to ALS research.  Most people do both, posting a video of their icy bath.  It’s a stunt, but has successfully raised awareness of ALS as well as donations for research.  But people should consider where their donations go and how the money is used.

ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a.k.a. “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) is a fatal, progressive neurological disease.  It attacks the nerves that control voluntary muscles, so it is sometimes termed “motor neuron disease”.  As the nerves die, muscles weaken and atrophy, including the muscles for breathing; most people suffering from ALS die of respiratory failure.  The cause is unknown and at this point there is no cure, and very little that can even slow disease progression.

So, raising awareness about ALS and increasing support for ALS research is a good thing.  But whether you participate in a challenge or just donate to important research, where should your donation go?

So far, most of the attention and millions of dollars in donation have gone to the ALS Association.  However, the ALSA has admitted that it gives some of its money to embryonic stem cell research and has no qualms about doing so in the future.  (Note the ALSA page linked in the above has just recently been changed, and now notes that embryonic stem cell research “has raised ethical concerns.”)

As Rebecca Taylor has pointed out, ALSA also has given money to an affiliate, NEALS, that has given money to a trial that uses stem cells derived from the spinal cord of an aborted fetus.

That trial is being run by the University of Michigan and Emory University, and sponsored by a company called Neuralstem which uses aborted fetus cells for research (“from the donated spinal cord tissue of an 8-week-old aborted fetus.”)  All of the Neuralstem trials use cells derived from abortion.

Project ALS, another charity for ALS research, also funds embryonic stem cell research.

 

But there are alternatives for donations that use only ethical stem cell sources!

Here are a few of my favorites.

The Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center (MSCTC) at the University of Kansas Medical Center is only a year old, but is starting an increasing number of clinical trials and educational efforts.

One potential future trial would be using adult stem cells for ALS.  Dr. Rick Barohn, an internationally recognized expert on ALS, recently joined the Advisory Board for the Center.

The MSCTC does not do any embryonic or aborted fetal stem cell research, ONLY ADULT and NON-EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH and CLINICAL TRIALS.

HOW DO I DONATE?  click the “Make a Gift” link in the left column of their web page, it specifies donation for the MSCTC.

(Disclosure:  I am a member of the MSCTC advisory board)

 

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Researchers at the Mayo Clinic are currently doing clinical trials for patients with ALS, using ADULT STEM CELLS.

Dr. Anthony Windebank and his team have one ongoing clinical trial for ALS patients and are ready to initiate a second clinical trial for ALS patients.

HOW DO I DONATE?  there is a “Give Now” link near the top of web page from Dr. Windebank’s link above; people can specify that their donation go to his ALS research team.

NOTE that the second trial is in association with an Israeli company, Brainstorm Cell Therapeutics, that is developing the adult stem cell treatment for ALS and other neural conditions.  While this is still an experimental trial, the early results using adult stem cells for ALS treatment have been positive.

 

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The John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City is doing research in several areas including ALS, and does not support embryonic stem cell research.

HOW DO I DONATE?  use the button for “Donate Now” on their main web page

 

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(the following listing was updated Aug 22, 2014 to clarify the profile of this company)

The Adult Stem Cell Technology Center, LLC is a for-profit company developing new methods for growth and application of adult stem cells, and does not support embryonic stem cell research.

Click “Contact Information” in the right column of their web page and e-mail the Director to learn more about the company’s adult stem cell technology development plans.

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Donate to ethical adult stem cell research!  Adult stem cells are helping patients now!

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A “God” that is not God; Victoria Beeching, love and acceptance

by Travis Weber

August 21, 2014

At First Things, Professor Robert George usefully explains internal viewpoints that are shaping external issues which are shattering our culture today.

The other week, Victoria Beeching, a well-known singer in the Christian music scene, came out and announced: “I am gay and God loves me just the way I am.” Ok, got it. But one understandable response to such a statement might be: “What makes you say that?”

In his article, Professor George looks to Plato’s description of the three forms of “atheism” — the belief that there simply is no God, the belief that God exists but doesn’t really care what goes on down here, and the belief that there is a God who sees what’s going on down here, but he is malleable and makes no demands of us. This third form, Professor George argues, is the biggest threat to the West today.

I would agree. Most acknowledge some sort of god, and many appeal to his existence regarding earthly affairs. While their appeals vary widely in form and substance, they still appeal to a god in some way, and thus recognize his relevance for our lives today. These facts dispense at the outset with the first two forms of atheism mentioned above. All one has to do is look to the appeals all around us and all over social media — “Jesus is love”; “Jesus never condemned anyone”; and Ms. Beeching’s “I am gay and God loves me just the way I am” etc., etc., to get a sense of the overwhelming prevalence of the view that God won’t tell you what to do, He just wants to hang out, and He loves you regardless of your actions. This view is of course convenient for human beings to hold (as Professor George points out), and ultimately places our authority over that of God — consequently removing Him from that station of authority in our lives which defines His very existence. God is thus obliterated, and our “god” becomes our desires.

No doubt some reading this will call me a “hate-monger” or some such term, and in doing so, will only help me prove my point. Nevertheless, I will point out, as it is important to do, that my communication of these truths is done in love. Of course, God’s love is all-encompassing and greater than we can conceive, but this does not entitle us to deny His truths and objective reality. A firm distinction must be made between loving the person no matter what he or she chooses to do (and we are all called to do that), but not enabling him or her to live according to a subjective reality based on one of these forms of atheism. It is no love which ceases to act to draw people into a right relationship with God (which is my desire) — but this can only be done by presenting the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help me God.

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For once and for all, I am telling you: “Sex” means “transgender,” and it also means “gender identity.”

by Travis Weber

August 20, 2014

You had better get with it. I’m not sure why people continue to insist that your “sex” is something integral to your created being, a function of your unique biological identity and who you were born to be — what an anachronistic concept. So says the Department of Labor (DOL), in a recent directive stating that the Department will now interpret “sex discrimination” to also include discrimination on the basis of “gender identity” and “transgender” status. The DOL relies on a 2012 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) decision stating as much, along with other “case law principles” which supposedly support this reasoning.

One theory on which the government relies here is based on “sex stereotyping” as a form of “sex discrimination” — because a male chooses to identify as female, the theory goes, discriminating against them constitutes a form of stereotyping how males are supposed to act, and thus constitutes “sex discrimination.” Such thinking is far-fetched to begin with, but even the legal issues are not as clear cut as the government would have us believe. For while other protected classes are clearly rooted in easily-identifiable inborn characteristics, “sex stereotyping” is based on one’s actions — thus individuals are not protected based on any “gender identity” status alone if they can’t show they were stereotyped, according to this theory.

In addition, the DOL points to the EEOC’s argument that “treating a person differently because the person is transgender is by definition sex discrimination because it is ‘related to the sex of the victim.’” But a person “is transgender” based on a choice not a biological reality, unless someone is prepared to introduce a new biological third category of sex, beyond male and female. Absent such a creation, being “transgender” is still only “related” to sex as an action taken with regard to one’s sexuality.

Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter even if the “case law principles,” (as the EEOC refers to them), support the government’s wishful thinking on human sexuality here. A person’s sex is not determined on our own, but by God who crafted us distinctly as men and women. We must recognize this truth and submit our sexuality to God for the purposes and ends for which he designed it. Anything else will only produce misery for us, for our society, and for our entire human race.

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My Friends Dan and Judy

by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 20, 2014

My friend Dan and his wife Judy are missionaries with SIM in Ethiopia.

Dan and Judy, a registered nurse, raised three wonderful children in the Seattle area, which is where we met. We served together for several years on the board of the Seattle-area Christian Action Council, the forerunner of what has become CareNet. Dan’s warmth, good humor, wide reading, and deeply held convictions about all the right things were marrow to my bones.

Dan retired as an engineer with Boeing a few years ago. He had retired as a Lt. Colonel in the Army Reserve some time before that. Had Judy and he wanted to, they could simply have lived a prosperous and pleasure-focused life in the Pacific Northwest.

Instead, Dan went to theological seminary, earning his Master of Divinity degree, and Judy and he moved to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to teach at a Bible college training indigenous pastors and Christian leaders (Dan) and serve babies in desperate need of good care (Judy).

Dan is now earning his Ph.D. (from a distance) at a prestigious British university as he continues to teach in Addis. They come back to the states every couple of years to visit their children, growing number of grandchildren, and friends, among whom my family and I are privileged to be counted.

They have “pledged their heads to heaven for the Gospel,” exchanging a life of quiet ease for a foreign culture in a not always safe place, thousands of miles away from those they love best. Why? Because they love Jesus Christ and are committed to making their lives count in the most effective way possible for Him.

Does every retiree need to become a missionary? Of course not. But to whatever God calls His people, we must obey, whether in Renton, Washington or Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

If ever I have the chance, I’d like to introduce Ann Coulter to Dan and Judy. Her disturbing, uninformed attack on SIM missionaries who, in service to their Lord and people, contracted the ebola virus, speaks to much that is twisted in the human heart. Christians should pray for Ann, that she would understand that when Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel” (Mark 16:15), He wasn’t making a suggestion but giving a command.

We can fulfill that command locally, regionally, or trans-nationally. It depends on how God leads. Dan and Judy know something about that. I hope that Ann will learn.

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Children Are Always a Blessing

by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 19, 2014

Here is one of the best quotes I’ve read in a long time; it’s by Courtney Reissig, writing at Christianity Today’s “Her.Meneutics” site:

Children are not a death sentence to our ambitions and goals. They may change them, postpone them, or even make them more difficult to attain—but they are always a blessing. We don’t earn the right to stay home or have children only after having done something important with our lives. We earn the benefit to have children simply by being created in God’s image.

Preach it, sister. Career dreams, professional attainments, academic achievements: All that are done for the glory of God are good and noble things. But to place children in apposition to them is a false alternative. I’ll let Mrs. Reissig have the last word:

Children also come to us — biologically or through adoption — at God’s timing. Despite my desire to start a family earlier, I didn’t give birth to my twins until I was 30. Even when we are open to having children, it doesn’t always happen right away and sometimes, they don’t come at all. But the church should be a place that welcomes expectant mothers regardless of what they have accomplished pre-pregnancy. Even if she never finishes her degree, lands a top client, or wins an Academy Award, bringing life into the world is a beautiful and God-honoring thing.

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The Roots of the Islamist Movement

by Connor Headrick

August 18, 2014

The recent conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip has reignited debates about moral culpability, civilian casualties, and the actual history of the relationship between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs. What drives both sides in the conflict? What are their ultimate goals? In a recent article, I examined the stated purpose of Hamas, a terrorist group with the self-articulated goal of destroying Israel and the Jews.

How can such a claim be taken seriously? In the West, we find it hard to grasp the fact that calls for genocide can be issued with utmost conviction and commitment. How can a movement of individuals desire the destruction of an ethnic group? Can it really be out of pure racism or hatred? Surely there must be another explanation.

And so we come to one of the darkest movements of our day: Islamism. The Islamist movement is defined by Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum as “an ideology that demands man’s complete adherence to the sacred law of Islam and rejects as much as possible outside influence, with some exceptions (such as access to military and medical technology). It is imbued with a deep antagonism towards non-Muslims and has a particular hostility towards the West… Islamism is, in other words, yet another twentieth-century radical utopian scheme. Like Marxism-Leninism or fascism, it offers a way to control the state, run society, and remake the human being. It is an Islamic-flavored version of totalitarianism.”

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