Month Archives: April 2011

Chinas Demographic Demise

by Family Research Council

April 29, 2011

Yesterday in Beijing, Chinas National Bureau of Statistics held a press conference where they reported that the countrys population growth has seen a serious decline since the last census, in 2000. Specifically, overall population growth has slowed from 11.7% in 2000 to 5.8% in 2010. Moreover, the countrys fertility rate has fallen below 1.5 children per couple.

Interestingly the government agency responsible for implementation of Chinas infamous one-child policy has reported much higher fertility rates —- between 1.7 and 1.8. In the words of Mara Hvistendahl writing for Science, Some scholars believe that the agency [Chinas National Population and Family Planning Commission] deliberately inflates the fertility rate to justify continuing the birth targets.

While Chinas overall population growth decreases, even more startling is the gender imbalance that continues to increase due to sex selection abortion, or, what many are calling, gendercide. In 2000, for every 100 girls born in China, there were 116.9 boys born. By 2010, that gap had widened to 118.1 boys born for every one hundred girls born.

With this new data there is some talk of change in the one-child policy and its inhumane pressures on families in China. However earlier this week, Chinas President Hu Jintao stated that China will stick to and improve its current family-planning policy and maintain a low birth rate.

The WSJ reports that under Chinas one-child policy, many…couples who have more than one child face fines of several months salary and can lose their jobs if they work for the state. The program has also led to some forced abortion and sterilizations.

View here a powerful real-life story (a short youtube clip) of one woman who made heroic choices against the Chinese government so that her unborn daughter could live.

You will also at this link ways you can personally help to fight this devastating human rights battle in China.

Appeals Court Allows Federal Embryonic Stem Cell Funding to Continue

by David Prentice

April 29, 2011

In a 2-1 decision, a federal Appeals Court has ruled that federal taxpayer funding can continue for human embryonic stem cell research. The decision vacated a preliminary injunction that had been issued by Judge Lamberth of the U.S. District Court in August 2010; that preliminary injunction had been put on hold with a temporary stay last Fall. Today’s split decision by the appeals panel to vacate the preliminary injunction was made after considering arguments from both sides, given in December 2010.

The opinion on the appeal as well as the dissenting opinion are available online.

Judge Lamberth has yet to issue a decision on the merits of the original lawsuit, so today’s decision by the appeals court is only one aspect of the overall case. And according to an updated story from Nature, attorneys for Drs. Sherley & Deisher are “considering asking the Court of Appeals to reconsider the preliminary injunction’s merits en banc, meaning that all 13 judges on the court would consider it.”

Prince Williams Vow: I Will

by Robert Morrison

April 29, 2011

Could there have been a better way to showcase marriage than todays Royal Wedding?

We had every bit of splendorer, splendouras two billion people around the world watched. Hats and horns. Red carpet. We had a gargoyles-eye view of the handsome young Royal Couple as they marched down the center aisle of the thousand-year old Westminster Abbey.

More important than any of the royal state and pomp was the authority and majesty of the Word of God on marriage. The Bishop of London intoned from Scripture and from the Book of Common Prayer the purposes of marriage. For the increase of mankind. For the fear and worship of God. For the nurturing and guidance of children. Marriage, he reminded us is a holy estate. A man and his wife forsake all others.

We took part, not as invited guests, but as a great cloud of witnesses. The Bishop said: Every wedding is a royal wedding. Our generous God gave Himself to us. Love finds its center beyond ourselves. Right on, Right Reverend!

Those vows, so simple to recite, so hard to keep. Prince William answers loud and clear: I Will. Its a pun. He is Will. And lovely Kate. Shall not loveliness be loved forever?

A slight smile comes over her face as she repeats for richer for poorer. Impishly, I think I know whats going through her commoners mind: Well, that part, at least, will be one of the easier promises to keep! But no one can fully know what it means to have and to hold in sickness and in health.

The strains of one of Dianas favorite hymns, Jerusalem, welled up from the oaken pews. It contains this verse from poet William Blake: And was Jerusalem builded here/Among those dark Satanic mills? Blake meant steel mills, the hellish factories only then beginning to scar Englands green and pleasant land, belching smoke and flame.

Today, I suggest, Blakes dark Satanic mills might be propaganda mills. And chief among these might be the venerable Economist. That British journal was founded by Walter Bagehot, the brilliant writer who gave us the most thoughtful defense of monarchy. It is dignified, Bagehot wrote, because it is based on marriage. And marriage, Bagehot wrote, can be understood by the poorest, least educated people in the realm.

Several months ago, however, the Economist hosted an online debate on whether marriage should henceforth be expanded to include couples of the same sex. After a perfunctory discussion, that august publication closed off the debate and declared with proper British solemnity the question was resolved.

How is it that we who say I will were forced to say I will not? How were we placed in the anti position, the position of disadvantage? Propaganda scores its greatest victories before the contest is engaged, by setting the terms of the debate, by its framing of the issue.

I was faced by this framing question fifteen years ago. When our friends in Congress wanted to protect marriage by statute, they came to us at Family Research Council. Were going to win this thing anyway, they said. But the opponents are really offended by the title of the measure, The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)) They say its unnecessarily confrontational. Can we change the title of the bill to the definition of marriage act?

No, I replied. In my only contribution, I argued the title was educational. It teaches everyone who hears it that marriage is under assault. It forces each of us to declare I Will or I Will Not support this essential and endangered institution.

I had read my Bagehot. I was inspired by the British Defense of the Realm Act (DORA). I believe that the defense of marriage is as important to America as defending our republic. In fact, marriage is the foundation for the state. It preceded the Constitution and will survive the Constitution.

Marriage is under sustained assault today. So is the British monarchy. So are all the nations that were formed by the English language, laws, and customs. Every day in Britain, Sharia makes dangerous inroads, eroding the Common Law while endangering all liberty. All the while Britains government seeks to marginalise Christians.

Today, we heard the Word of God about marriage preached to the Gentiles. The Word does not come back void. Billions of people heard it in the most appealing, most engaging way. Muslims around the world heard about Jesus Christ and did not riot.

Sir Elton was among the invited guests. All were urged to attend to the Word. All had an opportunity to consider its eternal meaning. The nations rise and fall, but His Word will stand forever. Will you defend marriage? I Will.

 

The Social Conservative Review: April 28, 2011

by Krystle Gabele

April 28, 2011

Click here to subscribe to The Social Conservative Review.


Dear Friends,

Welcome to the one-year anniversary edition of The Social Conservative Review! Over the past 12 months, our twice-monthly compilation of the articles most relevant to faith, family, and freedom has grown into a reliable, and relied-upon, source of news and information for social conservatives across the country.

One of our recurrent concerns is one that affects every American: Religious liberty. In a letter to a congregation in New York City shortly after the British surrender at Yorktown in 1783, General Washington wrote, “The establishment of Civil and Religious Liberty was the Motive which induced me to the Field; the object is attained, and it now remains to be my earnest wish and prayer, that the Citizens of the United States would make a wise and virtuous use of the blessings placed before them.”

Family Research Council remains committed to these principles, which is why we are coordinating a nationwide support effort for the State of Utah in the case Davenport v. American Atheists, one of the most important religious liberty cases to be offered to the U.S. Supreme Court in decades.

The State of Utah permits the Utah Highway Patrol Association (UHPA) to commemorate patrolmen who die in the line of duty by erecting a roadside cross at the site of the tragedy with the patrolman’s name and badge number. A militant atheist organization, American Atheists, Inc., sued the State of Utah in federal court for allowing UHPA to erect these crosses.

If successful, this suit could require not only the removal of religious symbols on public buildings and lands but even that crosses and Stars of David be excised from the headstones at Arlington Cemetery. We are supporting legal efforts to overturn a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit that held any stand-alone cross on public land is automatically an unconstitutional endorsement of Christianity in violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

To help us, please join our effort to send a message to the U.S. Supreme Court that they need to hear the Utah case and make clear America’s allegiance to the public expressions of faith which are an essential part of our birthright.

George Washington would be proud to stand with you for our God-given rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” as we are here at FRC.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder

Senior Vice President

Family Research Council


Educational Freedom and Reform

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Waste/Fraud/Abuse

Health Care

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Health care reform: Political and Legislative efforts

Homosexuality

Human Life and Bioethics

Abortion

Bioethics and Biotechnology

Cloning

Euthanasia and End of Life Issues

Stem Cell Research

Women’s Health

Marriage and Family

Adoption

Family Economics

Family Structure

Parental Rights

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Religious Liberty

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International Economy and Family

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Other News of Note

Book reviews

Gay Teen Suicide Study Misses the Forest for the Trees

by Peter Sprigg

April 28, 2011

Last week, the journal Pediatrics published a study designed to bolster the political case for pro-homosexual policies in schools.

The Associated Press described the findings this way: Suicide attempts by gay teens and even straight kids are more common in politically conservative areas where schools don’t have programs supporting gay rights.

The studys author, Mark Hatzenbuehler of Columbia University, called his findings a call to action in providing a roadmap for how we can begin to reduce suicide in LGB youth.

Enact anti-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation as a protected category, adopt anti-bullying policies that give special protections to homosexuals instead of protecting everyone equally, and form pro-homosexual gay-straight alliances in the schools, and you will save lives, he appears to be saying. (Oh, and it also helps to have more homosexual couples and registered Democrats living in your county.)

Those five variables were used as a measure of the social environment. The study, based on self-reports in a survey of young people across Oregon, found:

Among LGB [lesbian, gay, bisexual] youth, the risk of attempting suicide was 20% greater in negative environments compared with positive environments (25.47% of LGB living in negative environments attempted suicide at least once [in the last year] versus 20.37% in positive environments).

But to focus on the results this way is to ignore the studys most significant finding. Reuters did a much better job than AP in identifying it, beginning its story this way:

Lesbian, gay and bisexual teens are five times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers - but those living in a supportive community might be a little better off, according to a new study.

Thats rightthe homosexual and bisexual teenagers were five times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexualsa difference that far overwhelms any difference caused by the social environment.

In any discussion of sexual orientation, it is important to remember that this is only an umbrella term for three quite different thingsa persons sexual attractions, the sexual behavior, and their self-identification. In the survey upon which this study was based, there was only a single question on sexual orientation, which asked which of the following best describes you. The choices were heterosexual (straight), gay or lesbian, bisexual or not sure. This is essentially a measure of self-identification.

Therefore, the logical take-away from the study would be this: the most effective way of reducing teen suicide attempts is not to create a positive social environment for the affirmation of homosexuality. Instead, it would be to discourage teens from self-identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

Hatzenbuehler declares, for example, that a 5-unit increase in the social environment measure (on his 17-point scale) would lead to a 10% reduction in suicide attempts in this population. But based on his findings, reducing the number of teens who self-identify as homosexual or bisexual could lead to a much larger reduction in suicide attempts (in theory, by up to 80% in this sub-sample, in the unlikely event that they all ceased to self-identify as LGB).

Of course, such a dramatic reduction in suicide risk merely from a change in self-identification would be unlikely as well, because the basis for each respondents self-identification in this study is not clear. A student may identify as gay or lesbian because he or she has experienced same-sex attractions, has engaged in homosexual conduct, or simply identifies with gay culture or has been identified by peers or others as gay or lesbian. Declining to self-identify as homosexual or bisexual on a survey would not necessarily change any of these underlying factors. (It should be noted that in this study, 1.9% of the students said they were not sure of their sexual orientation, and an additional 3.6% refused to answer the question at all. No data is given on their suicide risks.) This study does not provide sufficient data to determine which of the three elements of sexual orientation (attractions, behavior, or self-identification) is most closely associated with the highly elevated risk of suicide attempts among gay or lesbian teens.

However, there is at least some evidence even in this study that merely self-identifying as gay, at least publicly, is in itself a risk factor. Hatzenbuehler, in reviewing previous research on suicide attempts by LGB youth, noted earlier age at disclosure as a risk factor … associated with suicidality. In other words, the younger a teen comes out of the closet and announces to the world that he or she is homosexual or bisexual, the more likely that teen is to attempt suicide. (For another description of such research, see here.)Yet encouraging teenagers to come out at younger and younger ages is exactly the effect of the policies that homosexual activists are promoting in the schools.

Instead of encouraging homosexuality in the schools, the research would seem to support an alternative approach. It would be to send the following message:

It is not uncommon for some young people to be confused or uncertain about their sexuality in adolescence. The vast majority of you will end up being exclusively heterosexual as adults. However, if you experience same-sex attractions, or are unsure about your sexual orientationwait. Do not become sexually active while in school (even if you are sure you are heterosexual). Do not adopt a sexual minority identity. Focus on developing your intellect, your character, and non-sexual friendships. When you are an adult, you will be in a much better position to make mature decisions about your sexuality.

Such an approach would be grounded in what the research shows about the well-being and best interests of children.

Will homosexual activists accept it?

 

State of Health Insurance Abortion Coverage in the States

by Brianna Walden

April 27, 2011

An overwhelming majority of Americans oppose using taxpayer money to fund abortion. When asked specifically if they supported or opposed the use of public funds to provide coverage for abortion in health insurance plans created by Obamacare, 72% of Americans were in opposition! Only 23% percent supported publicly funded abortion coverage in insurance plans, and 5% did not know (Quinnipiac 2009).

In an effort to reflect the will of the people, 9 state governments have passed laws (and at least 16 more have pending legislation) prohibiting the coverage of abortion in any of the state insurance exchange programs instituted by Obamacare.

Several states have gone beyond this and restricted or proposed legislation restricting abortion coverage in all health insurance plans (public and private) except through the optional purchase of a rider.

In addition, several states which have not completely restricted abortion coverage in all insurance plans have restricted it in state-funded (read: taxpayer-funded) insurance plans.

The following map will give you a clear picture of the state of abortion coverage in insurance across the states:

= AL (SB183, SB202 and HB 558), AR (SB113), FL (H97 and S1414), GA (SB4 and SB29), IA (HF576, HSB57, and SF38), IN (SB116), KS (HB2292, HB2377), MI (HB4143 and HB4147), (MT SB176), NE (LB22 and LB132), NJ (A3085), OH (HB79), OR (HB3600), PA (SB3), SC (H3406 and S102), TX (HB552, HB636, HB1816, HB3112, HB3419 and SB404)

= AL (SB201, SB281 and HB557), IN (SB241), KS (HB2292, HB2377), MI (HB4143 and HB4147), MN (Only state-funded insurance: HF201, SF103), NE (LB22), OR (HB3600), SC (H3406), TX (SB404)

Good News: Supreme Court asked to Review Indecency Case (FCC v Fox)

by Chris Gacek

April 25, 2011

Many pro-family groups have been urging the Obama Justice Department to ask the United States Supreme Court to review a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that struck down the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) indecency regulations. Well, we have some good news for a change. The Acting Solicitor General of the United States, Neal Katyal, submitted such a request (a petition for a writ of certiorari) last week on April 21. The Court is being asked to consider whether the FCCs context-based approach to determining indecency is unconstitutionally vague…. It will need to do this with regard to sanctions that were handed down by the FCC regarding broadcasts that included scenes with nudity and the use of expletives. For more on the case read this story.

 

 

 

The Flame That Will Not Be Extinguished

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 25, 2011

Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief. No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion. The state protects normal religious activities. No one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the educational system of the state. Religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign domination.” —- Article 36, Constitution of the People’s Republic of China

Nice words, but sadly only that. Just yesterday, 40 members of a large Chinese house church were detained while holding an Easter service. Another 500 were placed under house arrest. Yesterday’s actions were only the latest outrage against Chinese Christians by their government; as the Voice of America reports:

In the past five years, every year, the degree of persecution increased, from the perspective of how many church’s were persecuted, how many Christians were arrested, sentenced, abused or tortured. So it’s a national phenomenon; it’s a common phenomenon. Every year is like this,” he said. Members of the Shouwang Church say more than 500 members of the congregation were also put under house arrest. It’s unclear, however, whether any of those detained or under house arrest will face formal charges. Mark Shan says the crackdown is not limited to Beijing. “From Henan, Shandong province this month, even Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, the crackdown has never stopped and it is more serious than last year,” he said.

This news comes as no real surprise. Earlier this month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted that, “In China, weve seen negative trends that are appearing to worsen in the first part of 2011.”

Why? Perhaps the story is in the numbers:

According to the Pew Research Center, between 50 million and 70 million Chinese worship in house churches, and more than 25 million worship in state-sanctioned Catholic and Protestant churches. The Communist Party, by comparison, has around 60 million members.

If the Chinese government believes it can quell faith in Jesus through a public crackdown, they would do well to contemplate what historian Herbert Schlossberg and journalist Marvin Olasky have called “the fragrance of oppression.” Persecution was the lot of the early church - the New Testament is full of accounts of the oppression of the early church and encouragements to both anticipate it and stand firm through it. The early believers, brutalized in every way, would not bend or break. In the words of Paul to the church at Corinth, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (II Corinthians 4:8-10).

The life of Jesus is manifest in a suffering church, just as a rose is most aromatic as it is crushed to the ground. If the Chinese leadership believes that it can crush the growing church in its midst by attacking it, it is pursuing a strategy that has never worked. To the contrary, in the economy of God’s kingdom, persecution leads to purity and beauty, which together lead to faith in the One Who sustains - to the wonder of a watching world - those who remain faithful to Him in the midst of their pain.

The Chinese pastor Yuan (Allen) Xiangchen was first imprisoned by the Communist Chinese in 1958 for preaching the Gospel. Here’s what he said about his experience:

During those years in prison my wife suffered untold hardships in bringing up the children. I was sent to near the Russian border doing farm work, growing rice. Wang Ming Dao [a fellow pastor also sentenced to the camp] and I thought we would die martyrs there … In the labour camp it was very cold … food was bad, and the work was hard, but in 22 years I never once got sick. I was thin and wore glasses, but I came back alive; many did not. I also had no Bible for the 22 years and there were no other Protestant Christians there. I met only four Catholic priests. They were in the same situation I was in; they refused to join the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.

Pastor Yuan finally was released in 1979. He immediately went back to preaching the Gospel.

Chinese President Hu Jintao, who with his peers evidently is alarmed by the growth of Christianity in his country, might consider Pastor Yuan’s example - and change his policy of oppression. It should also be our prayer that President Obama, Secretary Clinton, and longtime defenders of the persecuted like U.S. Reps. Frank Wolf (R-VA), Chris Smith (R-NJ), and Trent Franks (R-AZ) will take whatever public or private steps necessary to work to protect Christian believers who live so bravely behind the Bamboo Curtain.

For up-to-the-minute reports on Christian persecution in China, go to www.chinaaid.org or www.persecution.org.

State of Montanas Governor

by Brianna Walden

April 20, 2011

Simply put, he is a liberal Democrat. And that fact accounts for the recent failure of many Republican-backed pro-life and pro-family bills despite the Republican majorities in both the House and Senate.

One individuals vote can make all the difference in the world, especially when that individual is the governor of a state. This point can be illustrated by looking at two states in particular: Arizona and Kansas. Both of their former governors, staunch democrats Janet Napolitano and Kathleen Sebelius respectively, were appointed to positions by President Barack Obama. Both states now have Republican governors: Jan Brewer in Arizona, and Sam Brownback in Kansas. In recent weeks several pro-life bills have been sent to those governors desks such as a bill prohibiting abortion after 22 weeks based on fetal pain in KS and a bill strengthening abortion clinic regulations in AZ. These and other similar bills would have been met with a ready veto a few years ago, but instead governors Brownback and Brewer were happy to agree with their legislatures and celebrate the bills passage.

Not so with Governor Brian Schweitzer in Montana. Three bills important to many constituents and legislators alike weathered the long process of hearings, votes, and amendments only to receive a prompt veto upon reaching the governors desk.

Senate Bill 176 prohibits the coverage of abortion in insurance plans created through state exchanges set up by Obamacare. The bill quotes a January 2010 Quinnipiac University poll which states that 7 in 10 Americans opposed the use of federal dollars to cover abortion in health insurance plans. Indeed, because of this, eight states have already passed bills that mirror SB 176 (AZ, ID, LA, MO, MS, TN, UT and VA). Unfortunately, Governor Schweitzer gave it a no-go and without a two-thirds majority in both chambers to override his veto whatever the governor says goes.

This is clearly illustrated with the switched votes of many democrat senators on the vote to override the veto of HB 30. This bill would exempt Health Care Sharing Ministries, faith-based, nonprofit organizations, from being regulated as disability insurance companies or policies. It passed both the House and Senate with veto-proof majorities, gaining the votes of Democrat and Republican legislators, however, when pressed to vote to override the Governors veto, many Democrat’s yeas turned into nays.

House Bill 161 repealing the medical marijuana law met a similar fate and was vetoed on April 13th. Click here to see a video highlighting the Governors position on medical marijuana.

Another strong pro-family bill, HB 456, which would have required parental consent for their childs participation in sex education classes in a public school, received a veto the same day. The bill also contained an important clause prohibiting any abortion service provider, such as abortion giant Planned Parenthood, from teaching any courses or offering any materials to students on the school grounds. With this veto the governor sends a message that he believes schools should decide when and how children learn about sex, not their parents.

The good news in all of this is that Governor Brian Schweitzer is term limited. It is not enough, however, to simply breathe a sigh of relief that he will not be running again in 2012. Those who wish to see legislation like that mentioned above signed into law in the future would do well to note that elections have consequences, a governor has an incredible influence on the policy of a state, and voters decide who the governor will be.

Three Important Things Happened on 4/18/11 to Defend DoMA

by Chris Gacek

April 19, 2011

Yesterday, there were several important developments in the ongoing struggle to protect the Defense of Marriage Act. Two were brought about by the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, John Boehner. The third flowed from one of his decisions. The Washington Times carried a story by Cheryl Wetzstein describing these developments today. Go to Scotusblog here for more information. Here are is a description of these developments:

First, Speaker Boehner sent House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi a letter reiterating that the House was going to take appropriate steps to defend the constitutionality of DoMA. Additionally, DoJ accounts are going to debited to reimburse the cost of the litigation efforts needed to defend the statute.

Second, it was announced that former Solicitor General of the United States Paul Clement would oversee the defense of DoMA in various court actions around the country. Clement is one of the most talented lawyers in the United States, and his participation ensures that the statute will receive the best defense possible when the issue finally reaches the Supreme Court.

And, third, Clement acted quickly to file a motion asking that the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House be allowed to intervene in Windsor v. United States, a DoMA case that is now docketed in federal court in New York City. Here are the motion to intervene and the accompanying legal memorandum that were filed. It is expected that a similar request to intervene will be filed in a similar case in Connecticut (Pederson).

On February 23rd when the Holder DoJ bailed out on DoMA it was not clear whether the House would take effective action. At this time, however, it appears that Speaker Boehner has put the people in place to effectively defend the statute. The DoJ cost offset is completely appropriate, but even if there were no offset it is pretty funny to see Nancy Pelosi complaining about the cost of anything the government does.

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