Month Archives: February 2012

An Eternal Perspective on Cultural Disarray

by Rob Schwarzwalder

February 8, 2012

Proposition Eight, the California ballot initiative that declared marriage exists solely between one man and one woman, has been struck down by a federal court. President Obama is planning to compel religious institutions to pay for abortifacients and other contraceptives as part of their health insurance programs. New York City is about to prohibit churches from meeting in public schools.

Is the sky falling? Are the nation’s moral foundations so eroded that they are on the verge of collapse?

For two reasons, I will answer no. In the past year, in states across the country, there have been wonderful wins for the cause of life and family. Ultra-sound bills and abortion clinic regulations have been enacted and polls show that Americans are more troubled than ever by abortion-on-demand. There have even been some Supreme Court judicial rulings (e.g., Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC and Spencer v. World Vision) favorable to religious liberty.

These things should inspire us to keep working for faith, family, and freedom in the public square. Although the assaults on the Judeo-Christian moral tradition, the very nature of the family, and the religious and economic liberty we cherish are manifold, not to fight them would be to surrender our biblical obligation to work for justice and stand for the oppressed (Proverbs 31:8-9). For the sake of the Just One Himself, this we must never do.

Second, Jesus Christ is Lord of time and eternity. He is Lord when we rejoice and when we weep. He is the sovereign before Whom every knee shall bow (Philippians 2:9-11). Who sustains all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:2). And according to the Psalmist, God is unthreatened by the machinations of political man: (Though) the kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed … He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them (2:2-4).

In other words, God is accomplishing His will in ways our limited human understanding might find puzzling but which are fully commensurate with His character and plan for humanity.

The Most High rules in the realm of mankind, we read in Daniels prophecy (4:2). He has called us to stand for righteousness and human dignity in every sphere of life. Whatever external wins or losses we might experience in the moment, these truths should sustain us in our efforts at all times.

The Global War on Christians

by Rob Schwarzwalder

February 6, 2012

The persecution of Christians globally is finally getting some notice in the mainstream press. The cover story in Newsweek is titled, “The War on Christians,” and is authored by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Ali is a former Muslim who works at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

You read that right. Newsweek - the repository of condescending liberalism, the magazine of record of the self-annointed Center-Left elite - has published a compelling piece by a bona fide “person of the Right.”

Why? Because even the Left has to acknowledge that Christians are under the gun - quite literally - throughout the developing world. To read about the latest, and ever-expanding, attacks on Christians in nations where they are a minority (and that would be all of Asia and the Middle East and most of Africa), go to the International Christian Concern’s www.persecution.org and Voice of the Martyrs’ www.persecution.com. From Nigeria to Pakistan to China, the attacks on those who profess the Name of Christ are numerous and brutal. As summarized by Dr. John Eibner, president of Christian Solidarity Worldwide,

A student beaten to death for wearing a cross necklace. A pastor sentenced to death for the crime of leaving Islam. Peaceful Christian protestors run over by tanks. This is the reality for Christians in North Africa and the Middle East today. Christians are under attack from radical Islamist groups and, in some cases, their own governments.

Yet as the distinguished scholar and diplomat Dr. Tom Farr, who was the first director of the State Departments Office of International Religious Freedom and who has spoken here at FRC, said recently, The administration has invested far more energy and resources in the international advancement of LGBT rights than it has the advancement of religious freedom.

The Obama Administration is willing to abrogate religious liberty here at home for the sake of an extreme political and social agenda (for example, visit our website to learn how President Obama is willing to violate historic conscience rights to bolster his political base and advance abortion-on-demand). After all, who really needs the First Amendment, right?

It is little wonder federal efforts to defend religious liberty abroad are so tepid. We cannot defend abroad what we are diminishing here at home.

Ronald Reagans 101st: A Banner of Bold Colors or Tricky Pivoting?

by Robert Morrison

February 6, 2012

Ronald Reagan was what they call a conviction politician. He often described himself as a citizen in politics. And if you look at his long, successful life, you see only two eight-year periods of office holding: theCaliforniagovernorship (two terms) and the presidency (two terms).

Ronald Reagan did not play by the playbook described on the front page of Sundays Washington Post. The liberal voice of the nations capital headlined this thought:

Tricky pivot for Romney to the center.

Senior reporter Karen Tumulty led off the story with this:

The playbook for Republican presidential contenders goes at least as far back as Richard Nixon: Run hard to the right in the primaries; steer back to the center for the general election.

In other words, be as cynical as Nixon and take our advice: Sucker the voters of your own party into backing you. Then, once youve gulled enough of them to gain a first-ballot nomination at the convention, tack to the left to attract the broad middle of the electorate.

Reporter Tumulty did not list Ronald Reagan in her widely-read story because he did no such thing and, gee, he only won two back-to-back landslides, carried only 44, then 49 states, and won only a total of 1,014 Electoral Votes. Of course, reporter Tumultys friendly advice on tricky pivoting is given to candidates she would never back in any event.

Why didnt Reagan pivot? Why wasnt he tricky? I remember a staff meeting at the U.S. Department of Education early in his second term. Five different proposals were on the table for discussion. Well, we know we cant do numbers 3 and 5, said Patricia Hines, one of my favorite colleagues. Why not? I asked innocently. Because, she patiently explained to this slower student in the class, the platform on which Ronald Reagan was twice elected specifically condemned those policies. President Reagan may not be able to achieve all he endorsed in that platform, but he would never, never go against his platform.

I soon learned the high ideals and the deep commitments of the Reagan movement from Mrs. Hines and many other Reaganauts. We never called ourselves Reaganites. (Leave iting for the Trostkyites and the Castroites).

President Reagan had a strong sense that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. And it was not only dishonorable to pivot, or to engage in tricky maneuvers to gain that consent of the governed under false pretenses. Worse, it was corrosive of free government to do so.

Take Richard Nixon. Please. He came into office a staunch anti-Communist. He had waged political battles all his life against liberals and Democrats he accused of being soft on Communism. Then, in office, he abandoned Taiwan and flew to Red China. He toasted Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong, wishing the bloody dictator a long life. Mao had shortened the lives of some 60 million Chinese.

Could there be a better example of bottomless cynicism? And how did that tricky pivot work out for Mr. Nixon? Did any of the liberals who applauded his unprincipled flight to Beijing vote for him or defend him against impeachment?

Or, take George H.W. Bush. As Reagans vice president, he had to convince some skeptical conservatives he had truly learned his lessons, and overcome his moderate background. Read my lips, no new taxes, Bush told cheering conservatives at his partys 1988 convention. Elected not by tricky pivoting or tacking to the center, but by emphasizing his differences with the ultra-liberal Michael Dukakis, the senior Bush raised taxes and split the Reagan coalition. Columnist George Will said Bush had turned a silk purse into a sows ear. That coalition of social, defense, and economic conservatives has not been reassembled to this day.

Writer Andrew Busch notes that Ronald Reagan quoted the Founding Fathers more than any of his four predecessors (Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter) combined. I would point out that Reagan also cited the Founders more than any of his four successors combined (George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama).

Quoting George Will again, Ronald Reagan spoke to the future in the accents of the past. He was well-grounded. He didnt need fancy footwork or clever positioning. He knew who he was and what he stood for. And so did we.

Faith in God, faith in the America as A Shining City on a Hill, a deep and abiding love for the American people, and a determination not to give in to threats or blandishments. These were the sources of his strength. He called for a Banner of Bold Colors, not one of pale pastels.

Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair, said George Washington at the close of the Constitutional Convention. That, too was a Banner of Bold Colors.

Its not surprising that so many candidates today want to emulate Reagans success. Then they should reject tricky pivoting and tacking toward the Washington Post. Instead, let them rally to Reagans Banner of Bold Colors.

Family Research Council Senior Fellow Bob Morrison served in the Reagan Administration and is the author of Reagans Victory: How He Built His Winning Coalition. This book will soon be available in pdf and audio formats on this website.

Planned Parenthood and Telemed Abortions in Iowa

by Chris Gacek

February 3, 2012

The Washington Times published an informative article this week (Wed., 2/1/2012) by Sue Thayer, a former Planned Parenthood clinic manager from Storm Lake, Iowa. Thayer ran the Planned Parenthood clinic in Storm Lake from 1991 to 2008. Originally, this clinic did not offer abortions, but in 2008 Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa required the clinic to perform telemed abortions.

Thayer made the following observations about telemed abortions:

…. Telemed abortion is the practice by which an abortion doctor from a remote location simply presses a button, which opens a drawer containing the dangerous abortion pill, after a brief teleconference call with the woman.

Telemed abortion doesnt only result in the death of an unborn child; it strips women of their dignity by denying them the courtesy of an in-person visit from a doctor concerned for their health and well-being. It risks their lives by sending them away with no support and a drug that has led to massive bleeding and hemorrhaging, infection and even death.

So what does Planned Parenthood, the trusted friend of women, love so much about telemed abortions? Low overhead costs.

My superiors justified telemed abortions, lauding the financial benefits of not having to worry about or pay for specialized equipment, staff and a traveling physician - all required with surgical abortions.

When I expressed my concerns, I was let go, supposedly because of downsizing.

Vanderbilt University Defends Crackdown on Religious Groups

by Krystle Gabele

February 3, 2012

In a recent article on Fox News, Christian student organizations may be forced to meet in secret at Vanderbilt University, as college officials are enforcing a nondiscrimination policy that bans organization leaders from holding specific beliefs.

So far, four Christian organizations on campus have been told by the university that they are in violation of the policy, and they are in danger of losing their registered student group status. This comes after Vanderbilt University conducted an investigation of a Christian fraternity, Beta Upsilon Chi, and found the organization discriminated against a student based on sexual orientation. Additionally, another group, the Christian Legal Society, was asked to remove Bible verses and the words, Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior from their constitution.

The real issue at stake here is religious liberty. Denying an organization the right to worship freely or being able to stand up for what their faith teaches them is wrong, and it is persecution. According to Professor Carol Swain, who advises the Christian Legal Society:

There are people on campus who are very threatened by the idea of religious freedom and they would like to create an environment where no one hurts anyone elses feelings unless its Christians.

What would our founding fathers think of what is happening at Vanderbilt? They would probably think this is a travesty. After all, they fled from the religious persecution in England by coming to America, where they could worship freely without being forced to attend the Kings church.

In fact, when our founding fathers drafted the Constitution, they made certain that religious liberty would be protected in our country. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (Bold, emphasis mine)

Vanderbilts decision to ban student religious organizations is a violation of the First Amendment, but it is limiting the groups ability to worship freely, as our founding fathers envisioned.

The Social Conservative Review: February 2, 2012

by Krystle Gabele

February 2, 2012

Click here to subscribe to the Social Conservative Review.


Dear Friends,

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) is one of America’s most respected and learned journals. It is a forum in which some of our finest minds publish articles on everything from “Evidence for the extraterrestrial origin of a natural quasicrystal” to “In-feed antibiotic effects on the swine intestinal microbiome.” To a non-scientist like me, even the titles are intimidating.

In the most recent edition of PNAS, three Stanford University scholars argue that both liberals and conservatives engage in a “dramatic projection of one’s own views onto those of Jesus.” While it is only human for us to want the Savior to confirm our own predilections, there can be no doubt that, objectively, Jesus affirmed the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman, Old Testament teachings about human sexuality and personhood within the womb, or the dignity of every person such that liberty — religious, political, and economic — should be the normal state of society.

As theologian Andreas Kostenberger wrote in his recent FRC booklet, “The Bible’s Teaching on Marriage and the Family:”

Marriage and the family were God’s idea, and as divine institutions they are not open to human renegotiation or revision … the Bible clearly teaches that God instituted marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman, a lifelong union of two partners created in God’s image to govern and manage the earth for him. In keeping with his wonderful design, the Creator will normally bless a married couple with children, and it is his good plan that a family made up of a father, a mother, and several children witness to his glory and goodness in a world that has rejected the Creator’s plan and has fashioned a variety of God-substitutes to fill the void that can properly be filled only by God himself.

We all like it when people agree with us. Yet it’s more important that we agree with the God of the Bible, Whose path for human relationships and sexuality is clear in His written Word and evidenced in the natural order. It’s up to each of us to choose whether or not to take it.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder

Senior Vice President

Family Research Council

P.S. FRC President Tony Perkins has been offering some sage counsel about the current state of American politics in a series of recent television interviews. To view Tony’s comments, click here.


Educational Freedom and Reform

Homeschooling

Legislation and Policy Proposals

Government Reform

Regulation

Waste/Fraud/Abuse

Health Care

Abstinence

Conscience Protection

Health care reform: Political and Legislative efforts

Homosexuality

Human Life and Bioethics

Abortion

Bioethics and Biotechnology

Euthanasia and End of Life Issues

Stem Cell Research

To read about the latest advances in ethical adult stem cell research, keep up with leading-edge reports from FRC’s Dr. David Prentice, click here.

Human Trafficking

Women’s Health

Marriage and Family

Adoption

Family Economics

Family Structure

Media

Pornography

Internet

Media

Religion and Public Policy

Religious Liberty

Religion in America

Secularism

International

Israel

International Economy and Family

Religious Persecution

Sharia law — U.S., foreign

The Courts

Constitutional Issues

Other News of Note

Book reviews

What is a Reagan Conservative?

by Family Research Council

February 1, 2012

Everyones grabbing at the Reagan mantle these days.

Under the Wikipedia entry What would Reagan do? one can find the following summary:

The phrase on occasion has been used by iconoclastic conservatives to claim the mantle of Reagan as they criticize mainline conservatives, by some liberal commentators as a way of chastising Republicans whom also they believe fall short of Reagan’s ideals and also by non-partisan public policy organizations that seek to emulate aspects of Reagan’s leadership.

But one Reagan historian doesnt find that surprising at all. Professor and author Paul Kengor notes that Reagan won the presidency in 1980 by defeating an incumbent in a landslide, winning 44 of 50 states, and then got reelected in 1984 by sweeping 49 of 50 states. Few presidents enjoyed such decisive success at the ballot box and, more broadly, in changingAmerica and the world for the better.

Tomorrow, Dr. Paul Kengor will address the question, What did Ronald Reagan believe? Or, even more specific: What would Reagan do if he were president right now?

Dr. Kengor will lay out the underlying thinking that formed the basis of Ronald Reagan’s political philosophy and the policies (foreign and domestic) that he pursued. Dr. Kengor will share what he calls his “Reagan Seven;” that is, seven beliefs that undergirded Reagan’s actions as president and as a public figure. These core principles get us closer to the crux of what Ronald Reagan’s conservatism was about, and what his GOP emulators today might take to heart.

To RSVP for tomorrows event, click here: What is a Reagan Conservative?

A Wise Verdict for One Man, One Woman Marriage

by Peter Sprigg

February 1, 2012

Legislation to change the definition of marriage abolishing the one man, one woman definition codified only 14 years ago is now working its way through the Washington State Legislature.

There is little doubt that the legislature has the power to engage in such social engineering if it chooses to do so. Such official affirmation of homosexual conduct would be a way for politicians to appease the two to three percent of the population who self-identify as gay or lesbian and placate others who do not grasp the implications of this massive social change.

But same-sex marriage is not being sold as a political payoff, or even (primarily) as a social service providing a package of legal and financial benefits to this population. Instead, advocates of redefining marriage argue that a belief in civil rights and equality actually compel such a radical redefinition of our most fundamental social institution.

Yet it was only six years ago that the states Supreme Court, in the case of Andersen v. King County, rejected such arguments in upholding the 1998 Defense of Marriage Act.

Justice (now Chief Justice) Barbara Madsen pointed out in her majority opinion that while the U. S. Supreme Court has declared marriage to be a fundamental right, it has done so only in the context of marriages between a man and a woman, since they relate to procreation and the survival of the human race.

In his concurrence, Justice James M. Johnson noted that the only inequality in the current law is between different types of couples, not individuals. Professed homosexuals, like all Washingtonians, are clearly allowed to marry in Washington. Yet all individuals also face limits on their choice of marriage partner: A person may not marry someone under age 17, may not marry if already married, may not marry a close relative, and may not marry if the parties are persons other than a male and a female. The last prohibition, like the bigamy/polygamy prohibition, is definitional.

There is no question that opposite-sex couples are unique; as Justice Madsen noted, [N]o other relationship has the potential to create, without third party involvement, a child biologically related to both parents. The link between marriage and procreation is not defeated by the fact that the law allows opposite-sex marriage regardless of a couples willingness or ability to procreate, nor by the fact that some same-sex couples raise children; Such over- or under-inclusiveness does not defeat finding a rational basis for treating opposite-sex couples uniquely.

Marriage serves not only to encourage the potentially procreative relationships of opposite-sex couples, but also to regulate them. Justice Madsen quoted a 2005 Indiana court decision which noted that procreation is sometimes accidental: [The] institution of opposite-sex marriage both encourages such couples to enter into a stable relationship before having children and to remain in such a relationship if children arrive during the marriage unexpectedly.

Not only are opposite-sex couples the only ones capable of natural procreation, but they also provide the best environment for child-rearing. As Justice Johnson wrote: The legislature was offered evidence that children tend to thrive best in families consisting of mothers, fathers, and their biological children. … Direct comparisons between opposite-sex homes and same-sex homes further support the former as a better environment for children. For example, studies show an average shorter term commitment and more sexual partners for same-sex couples.

Advocates of same-sex marriage regularly confuse one of the personal reasons why individual couples choose to marry to express love and commitment with the public purposes of marriage as a social institution. Justice Madsen was blunt in noting that the right to marry is not grounded in the States interest in promoting loving, committed relationships. While desirable, nowhere in any marriage statute of this state has the legislature expressed this goal.

Some people argue that other changes in the institution of marriage, as well as technologies which have separated sexual relations from procreation, mean that the historic definition of marriage can be abandoned. But as Justice Johnson noted, quoting a brief submitted by Families Northwest, [W]idespread contraceptive and abortion rights may actually make more salient, not less, the traditional role of marriage in encouraging men and women to make the next generation that society needs. The more … choice individuals have about whether or not to have children, the more need there is for a social institution that encourages men and women to have babies together, and creates the conditions under which those children are likely to get the best care.

In 2006, Justice Madsen said for the court, We conclude that limiting marriage to opposite sex-couples furthers the States interests in procreation and encouraging families with a mother and father and children biologically related to both.

The legislature would be wise to conclude the same today.

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