Month Archives: February 2008

Buckley on Christian activism

by Jared Bridges

February 29, 2008

Christianity Today has reprinted a 1995 interview with the late William F. Buckley, Jr., in which he dispenses some timeless advice for Christian activists. An excerpt:

YOU BELIEVE THAT THERE IS A PLACE FOR RELIGIOUS CONVICTION TO INFORM POLICIES. WHAT PRINCIPLES SHOULD GUIDE CHRISTIAN ACTIVISTS AS THEY TRY TO INFLUENCE LEGISLATION?

Thomas Aquinas once was asked, “If the public view was that a famine was imminent, would you be justified in charging injurious prices for your grain, knowing that a relief wagon of grain was coming?” Thomas said yes, you would, but it would be wrong. A Christian would not do that.

Certain things which the market authorizes simply in terms of law are unchristian and ought not to be done. The big issue today has to do with the fidelity of marriages. The tendency now to leave your wife because you have an infatuation with a younger woman of tenderer flesh is an enormous temptation. It’s carnal, and it’s also easy to justify with all the solipsistic reasoning that we hear today. That is about the gravest offense that a human being can commit, to throw away a wife.

Go read the whole thing.

William F. Buckley, Jr.: A Tribute

by Robert Morrison

February 28, 2008

William F. Buckley, Jr., was my first conservativeand I didnt like him much. With his arched eyebrow and flickering tongue, with his $50 words, I thought he was the perfect picture of a snob. I thought his brand of politics would never attract a national following.

As a young college student, I watched him on TV. I wasnt buying his labored defenses of constitutionalism that he said justified some in resisting integration. I was strong for civil rights and he was against civil rights. Or at least thats what I thought at the time.

When my hero Hubert Humphrey took to the Senate floor to defend the great Civil Rights Act of 1964, I laughed when he said if any part of that great charter ever led to racial quotas or set-asides, he would eat the page of the Congressional Record on which the bill was printed. I hope Hubert liked Tabasco sauce.

Buckley had warned us. And he warned us of many other things, too. Like Communism.

Perhaps it was because Buckley was such a great man of faith himself that he understood instinctively that Communism was, in the words of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, atheism with a knife to your childrens throats.

I laughed, too, when Buckley ran for Mayor of New York City in 1965. He ran against the liberal knight, John V. Lindsay. Buckley realized he never stood a chance, saying that if he won hed demand a recount.

Later, when Lindsay switched parties and became a Democrat, his staffers asked me what the Mayor of New York could do for me in my own race for state Assembly. Knowing how my Long Island neighbors despised the limousine liberal Lindsay, I said: Mayor Lindsay could denounce me by name. The devil didnt make me say that; William F. Buckley, Jr. did.

When Buckley debated Governor Ronald Reagan about giving away the Panama Canal, I invited my fellow Coast Guard officers to watch it on TV. As we gathered in the Officers Club, I assured them that Buckley clean up the floor with Reagan. At that time, I happened to agree with Buckley that the U.S. ought to give away the canal. I agreed with California Senator Hayakawa who said we stole it fair and square.

What we saw instead was Ronald Reagan at the height of his powers. I switched parties and positions on the spot. I became a Reagan man. And Bill Buckleywrong as he was on the canalbecame one of Reagans best boosters. My Coast Guard buddies never asked for my political advice again.

Perhaps my favorite Buckley quote is the one that summed up his political philosophyand mine. It wasnt just because he was a Yale man that he put down Harvard so memorably. He said: I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University. He was, after all, a good democrat.

He would have agreed with Edmund Burke: Individuals are foolish, but the species is wise. William F. Buckley, Jr. understood that ideas have consequences. And he did his best to advance the ideas of faith, family and freedom. He did it with wit and energy. God rest ye, Merry Gentleman!

A Defining Moment for Marriage

by Peter Sprigg

February 21, 2008

[Note: On Wednesday, February 27 at 11:00 a.m., FRC will be welcoming David Blankenhorn for a lecture on his book, The Future of Marriage (Encounter Books, 2007). The lecture will also be available via live webcast at www.frc.org.]

In 1995, David Blankenhorn made one of the most important contributions to the debates over family structure with his book Fatherless America. In it, he compiled the overwhelming social science evidence in support of the common-sense truth that children need fathers as well as mothers.

Now, after years as what he calls a Morally Anguished Fence Sitter on the issue of so-called same-sex marriage, Blankenhorn has finally followed his earlier findings to their logical conclusion by declaring that marriage should be defined as the union of one man and one woman. His new book, The Future of Marriage, lays out in a thorough, scholarly, yet accessible way exactly why marriage exists as a social institution, why the male-female union is intrinsic to it, and how redefining marriage to include same-sex couples would damage it.

Blankenhorn takes the reader on a fascinating tour across time and cultures, noting that the origins of marriage appear to coincide with the origins of civilization. Blankenhorn describes how in the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia, older cultures which practiced temple prostitution and sex for its own sake came to be replaced by ones (like that of the Hebrews) that recognized marriage and the social importance of fatherhood.

In contrast to such patriarchal societies are ones like the Trobriand Islands in the Pacific, which emphasize a childs descent through her mothers line. Yet even here, marriage and fathers are considered crucial for the raising of children. These two illustrationsas well as quotes from numerous anthropologistsprove that marriage has some features that are virtually universal, and that bridging the male-female divide is one such feature.

Another such feature is that marriage is about sex and procreation. To argue that marriage is not intrinsically connected to bearing and raising children as advocates of same-sex marriage routinely do, is like saying cars are not intrinsically connected to driving because those who purchase them are not required to drive them.

Advocates of same-sex marriage love to ask, What harm could it possibly do? Blankenhorn carefully answers this question by spelling out the dangers of deinstitutionalizing marriage. Marriage is a social institution, defined as a relatively stable pattern of rules and structures intended to meet basic social needs. But if the rules are intentionally violated and the structures are torn down, then the institution will cease to fulfill its social purposewhich, in the case of marriage, is to provide every child with both a mother and a father who are committed to him or her, and to each other.

Some homosexual activists, such as Jonathan Rauch, argue that allowing same-sex couples access to marriage would actually strengthen the institution. Blankenhorn thoroughly refutes that notionin part by pointing out that many of the scholars who are most hostile to the institution of marriage are also the most enthusiastic about legalizing same-sex marriage. One, Judith Stacey, is described as a determined cheerleader for divorce, unwed childbearing, and cohabitationand for same-sex marriage.

In addition to citing individual scholars, Blankenhorn also examines polling data from a number of countries to find out how attitudes toward marriage correlate with legal recognition of same-sex unions. Blankenhorn found that countries with same-sex marriage also have the weakest support for marriage as an institution.

Blankenhorn takes on the superficial analogy between banning same-sex marriage and banning interracial marriage, arguing that is actually the advocates of same-sex marriage, not the opponents, who resemble the advocates of racist anti-miscegenation laws. Both, he says, seek to recreate marriage in the name of a social goal that is fundamentally unconnected to marriage.

Although he sees adult freedom and child well-being as being goods in conflict in this debate, Blankenhorn concludes, For me, sustaining the right of the child to her two natural parents is ultimately more important than granting adults more freedom of choice. This is the core message of his book.

The Future of Marriage is carefully reasoned and thoroughly documented, but Blankenhorn is not above revealing his exasperation with the advocates of same-sex marriage and their public talking points, various of which he describes as nonsense, intellectually vacuous, and clearly preposterous.

However, Blankenhorn is not a social conservative. I count myself as a liberal, he declares. While clearly opposing the redefinition of marriage, Blankenhorn is entirely silent about the political debate over laws or constitutional amendments to protect marriage at the state or federal levels. He also says nothing about marriage counterfeits such as civil unions or domestic partnerships. Social conservatives will gag on several things he says, including his declaration, We as a society can and should accept the dignity of homosexual love.

His acceptance not only of homosexual behavior, but also of premarital sex, appears to be the one logical gap in Blankenhorns argument. For him, the link between marriage and children is clearly a two-way streetthe purpose and definition of marriage has everything to do with children, and children do best when raised by their married biological mother and father. Blankenhorn also affirms that marriage has everything to do with sexual unionbut travels only one way on that street, by failing to recognize that sex itself is best confined to the marriage of a man and a woman. Perhaps after another twelve years and in another book, he will come around on that issue as he has on same-sex marriage.

Blankenhorns lingering liberalism actually underlines the importance of his book. With the publication of The Future of Marriage, no one should ever again get away with charging that opposition to same-sex marriage is rooted in ignorance, religion, or anti-gay bigotry. For that, we owe David Blankenhorn a major debt of gratitude.

Peter Sprigg is vice president for policy at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., and the author of Outrage: How Gay Activists and Liberal Judges are Trashing Democracy to Redefine Marriage.

The Right of the Child to the Marriage of His Parents

by Joe Carter

February 14, 2008

The Vermont Marriage Advisory Council recently sponsored a forum at the University of Vermont, entitled, Does Traditional Marriage Matter? FRC Senior Fellow Dr. Pat Fagan, Director for Marriage and Religion, presented a host of data from the social sciences which deal directly with the institution of marriage and the implications of genderless marriage.

The VMAC’s website contains a video of Dr. Fagan’s presentation, The Right of the Child to the Marriage of His Parents.

Learning to Lie

by Joe Carter

February 14, 2008

The latest New York magazine has a fascinating article by Po Bronson on how and why kids lie:

Out of the 36 topics, the average teen was lying to his parents about twelve of them. The teens lied about what they spent their allowances on, and whether theyd started dating, and what clothes they put on away from the house. They lied about what movie they went to, and whom they went with. They lied about alcohol and drug use, and they lied about whether they were hanging out with friends their parents disapproved of. They lied about how they spent their afternoons while their parents were at work. They lied about whether chaperones were in attendance at a party or whether they rode in cars driven by drunken teens….

For two decades, parents have rated honesty as the trait they most wanted in their children. Other traits, such as confidence or good judgment, dont even come close. On paper, the kids are getting this message. In surveys, 98 percent said that trust and honesty were essential in a personal relationship. Depending on their ages, 96 to 98 percent said lying is morally wrong.

So when do the 98 percent who think lying is wrong become the 98 percent who lie?

Bronson’s article contains a number of revealing tidbits, including:

1. Lying is related to intelligence. The smarter the kid, the better they are at lying.

2. On average, a 4-year-old will lie once every two hours, while a 6-year-old will lie about once every hour and a half.

3. Scholars have found that kids who live in threat of consistent punishment dont lie less. Instead, they become better liars, at an earlier agelearning to get caught less often.

4. Children lie because they see their parents lie, and learn to imitate them. Adults inadvertently teach children that honesty only creates conflict, and dishonesty is an easy way to avoid conflict.

5. Permissive parents dont actually learn more about their childrens lives.

6. Most rules-heavy parents dont actually enforce them since its too much work.

7. Parents view arguing with their teenager as destructive to their relationship, while teens see it as strengthening their bond.

Read the whole article here.

Ah, Sweet Romance!

by Charmaine Yoest

February 14, 2008

nyc_getsome.jpg

If you happen to be visiting New York City today, perchance to be celebrating Valentine’s Day, in the destination city of romance-seekers the world over, you might be greeted by “street teams” from the health department welcoming you with… “a colorful and sexy message” — Get Some.

Taxpayer-funded condoms, natch. Nice souvenir.

C’mon, New York. Are you really going to put up with this?!


Live webcast today with John G. West: Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science

by Jared Bridges

February 12, 2008

If you’re in DC today, stop by FRC at noon to hear a lecture by John G. West. Dr. West, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and author of the provocative new book Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science (ISI Books), will speak today, Tuesday, February 12 at noon on Darwinian Fundamentalism and its dehumanizing effects on our politics and culture.

If you can’t make it, the event will also be webcast live. Follow this link to view the webcast at noon.

Politics ain’t beanbag

by Robert Morrison

February 7, 2008

News report: On Tuesday, McCain’s delegates at the West Virginia convention swung over to support Huckabee at the last minute in a successful maneuver designed to deprive Romney of a victory.

This convention tactic is as old as conventions. Abraham Lincoln’s supporters employed it in Illinois in 1856. We can read about it in Doris Kearns Goodwin’s excellent “Team of Rivals.” She shows how Abraham Lincoln’s political allies did exactly the same thing in Illinois in 1856. They knew Lincoln could not get the Senate nomination, so they threw their support to Orville Browning to block a rival. Lincoln got the support of that Senator Browning in his 1858 race against Steven Douglas.

We need to remember that politics ain’t beanbag.

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