Month Archives: December 2013

Washington in Annapolis: “The Greatest Exit in American History’ December 23, 1783

by Robert Morrison

December 23, 2013

The day will doubtless pass quietly in Maryland’s capital. Christmas shoppers will crowd onto Generals Highway, mostly unaware that its name comes from General Washington’s visit to this little town two hundred thirty years ago. Still, General Washington’s resigning his commission in Annapolis deserves to be remembered.

It was the final scene of the American Revolution. Congress had been meeting for months in Annapolis, working on ratification of the Treaty of Paris. That was the signed and sealed document by which Great Britain would officially recognize our Independence. The final great military clash of the war, the Battle of Yorktown, more than two years earlier, had resulted in an American victory with the indispensable aid of thousands of French soldiers and sailors.

A tall and powerful figure in the saddle, Washington was described by his fellow Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, as the best horseman of the age. Washington had ridden all the way from New York to Annapolis for this occasion, his journey interrupted by countless tributes and toasts. Many of the towns through which he passed saluted his arrival with booming cannon and ringing church bells.

Now, nearing the holidays, Gen. Washington had one last duty to perform before returning to his beloved Mount Vernon plantation for Christmas Eve. Washington spent four days in Annapolis in a round of dinners and receptions. The night before his resignation was spent in dancing. He was a superb dancer and the ladies of what was called “first fashion” wanted to dance with him. He danced every dance.

The General entered the Old State House to appear before Congress. The members made a point of remaining seated; there would be no bowing to Washington, as if he were a monarch. Instead, His Excellency bowed to them. It was his way of showing his deference to the civilian authority that he had obeyed faithfully throughout his eight years as Commanding General of the armies and navy of the United States.

Jefferson, a member from Virginia, especially appreciated this in Washington. Years later, he would reflect: “The moderation and virtue of a single character probably prevented this Revolution from being closed, as most others have been, by a subversion of that liberty it was intended to establish.”

Washington was not abandoning the country he loved. He commended the nation to “the protection of Almighty God” and asked Him to keep those who governed America in His “holy keeping.” Washington’s hands shook as he pronounced the words. A cloud of witnesses recorded the scene in letters and diaries. And the Maryland Archives proudly preserves his handwritten speech. Yet, today, some historians persist in telling us Washington was not very religious.

Perhaps no other military figure in American history deserves such acclaim. Most of Washington’s battles were defeats. Yet, Washington held the Army and the Union together with his firm leadership.

Author Richard Brookhiser tells this remarkable story of Washington’s steadying presence, not at a great victory, but at a planned and carefully staged retreat. A Rhode Island veteran of the Continental Army described the scene. You can tell the men were on the verge of panic, but:

There was only one bridge over the stream, and as his unit was hurrying across it, he saw that Washington had posted himself on the other side, to oversee the retreat. All the while there was an artillery duel going on between the British and the Americans on the other side of the creek. As he crossed the bridge, [the teenage soldier] was jostled against Washington’s boot and the flank of his horse. He remembered — 50 years later — that the horse was as firm as the rider and seemed to know that he was not to quit his station. What the man did not say is that, at the moment of contact, he also knew this because Washington’s presence gave him a sense that all was not chaos, that the battle was under control,

Before Annapolis, some of Washington’s young officers pleaded with him not to surrender his commission to Congress, but to seize the reins of power. The country was adrift, they said, and the hard-won prize of Independence was in jeopardy as the economy languished and foreign states — including Muslim hostage takers along the Barbary Coast of North Africa — held American liberties in contempt.

I cannot act, Washington firmly replied, the people must act. But, Your Excellency, his worried young aides retorted, the people do not understand how bad things really are. Unmoved, Washington answered with that same firmness he had shown at the bridge, at a hundred bridges: “The people must feel an evil before they can see it.”

It’s worth considering as we face another critical period in our country’s life. At home, ObamaCare threatens basic freedoms as no other measure has in 230 years, especially religious freedom. Abroad, hateful regimes that murder missionaries and imprison pastors are bent on obtaining nuclear weapons. Americans are certainly feeling the evil.

Our task is to remember that steadfastness of Washington at the bridge. He showed his respect for constitutional principles when he freely surrendered his commission to those from whose hands he had received it. King George III, once his bitter foe, said if he does that then he truly will be “the greatest man in the world.” And historian Joseph Ellis calls it “the greatest exit in American history.”

2013: The Year of the Obamacare Exemption

by Emily Minick

December 23, 2013

For Obamacare, 2013 can most certainly be deemed the year of the exemption. As this year comes to a close, let’s take a look at what is at stake starting January 1, 2014, and what groups have been exempted from the law.

Who Hasn’t Yet Received An Exemption from Obamacare?

Religious employers and businesses run from a faith perspective.

On January 1, 2014, the HHS mandate’s safe harbor for religious employers and businesses run from a faith perspective, like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Inc., will expire and employers will either be forced to violate their conscience and include sterilization services, drugs which can destroy a human embryo and contraception in their healthcare plan, pay fines of up to $100 per day per employee for not-complying, or dropping healthcare coverage for their employees altogether.

The start of the New Year will usher in the first time in this country’s history that the federal government would force individuals to purchase a product, to which they morally object. Forcing businesses to comply, or be fined, is no choice.

A new FRC/ADF poll found that more likely voters disapprove of the HHS mandate (59%) than disapprove of Obamacare in its entirety (54%). A just released CNN poll also found that 62% of Americans disapprove of the law, and including 60% of women.

Why are religious employers and individuals still waiting for an exemption while the Administration has unilaterally, without the approval of Congress, granted countless exemptions and concessions to other groups, in violation of their own signature law?

Who Has Received An Exemption from Obamacare?

Some of the exemptions granted are parts of the law supporters have deemed essential to its functioning.

  • Obamacare’s employer mandate, which requires that employers with 50 or more employees provide healthcare coverage or pay a fine of $2,000 per employee per year, has been delayed by one year until 2015.
  • Operation of the federal small business healthcare exchange (SHOP) has been delayed for a year, until November 2014.
  • Healthcare plans which do not meet Obamacare’s new standards have been exempted, allowing individuals to keep their plans which the law deems uncompliant for a year.
  • Those whose plans have been cancelled can qualify for a “hardship” exemption and apply for a catastrophic plan, or even forgo healthcare coverage for an entire year without penalty.

It was also just announced that the Administration has extended the deadline to sign up for health insurance on the federal healthcare exchange by another day, until Christmas Eve, in an effort to shore up higher enrollment numbers.

These numerous exemptions has even led Chuck Todd, an MSNBC correspondent, to recently say, “If you put together all the different ways that they have delayed or grandfathered certain things in … I’m starting to wonder if anybody is ever going to pay the penalty in the first year.”

The gaping holes in the Obamacare ship are expanding, yet the Administration remains insistent on making religious employers one of the only groups that must comply with this failing law.

Although the Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases challenging the HHS mandate on religious liberty grounds, Congress must act to protect individuals and businesses from the HHS mandate, if they morally object to providing these drugs and services to their employees. Forcing religious employers to choose between paying crippling fines, or dropping coverage for their employees and their families, is not good for the economy, the country and women. The HHS mandate is the next instance of how Obamacare could impact your life, your job, or your healthcare.

Let us hope that this New Year the HHS mandate is the next part of Obamacare that the Supreme Court will find unconstitutional.

Economic and Human Inequality: The Contradictions of Barack Obama’s Vision

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 23, 2013

In a compelling piece in today’s Wall Street Journal, economist and Chris Christie advisor Robert Grady describes that he calls the President’s “obsession with equality” and argues that the real solution to our bumpy economy is economic growth. As Grady notes, if Mr. Obama really wants to end economic disparity in the nation, “Accomplishing this worthy goal requires growth, not redistribution.”

Three thoughts:

(1) We cannot have the kind of growth Mr. Grady rightly calls for unless we have enough people. The sad but indisputable fact is that our quantity of workers is shriveling. My colleagues at FRC’s Marriage and Religion Research Institute have demonstrated this is several key studies . The American family is in crisis due to divorce and cohabitation; abortion claims about 3,000 unborn lives each day. We cannot sufficiently manipulate federal tax and spending policy to redress these trends. The only way is for one man and one woman to marry, for life, and have three or more children. This is consistent with FRC’s view of the value of human personhood and the centrality of the traditional family unit, yes - but it is also demonstrated by the undeniable facts.

(2) That many Americans are struggling cannot, and should not, be denied. But there are a lot of misconceptions about what constitutes inequality, prosperity, and opportunity; the bottom line is that most ordinary families are faring relatively well. Pounding on the theme of “inequality” creates a measure of social resentment that will provoke unwarranted and dangerous federal intervention into the private marketplace, already too prey to the intrusions of the state (e.g., Obamacare, a confiscatory tax regime, etc.).

(3) It is ironic that Mr. Obama is so fixated on what he views as income inequality given his denial of the essential premise of the American republic, that all men are created equal. “The combined trends of increased inequality and decreasing mobility pose a fundamental threat to the American Dream, our way of life, and what we stand for around the globe,” he said in his December 4 speech on the economic disparity theme. As noted above, Mr. Obama both misstates the case and proposes policies that will only increase the power of the government at the expense of private enterprise and personal achievement. Yet beyond his rather standard “enlightened” critique stands a devastating paradox: If unborn persons have value independent of their mothers, if they are, in fact, persons, how does advancing a grim and relentless pro-abortion agenda, as does our President, assure the equality he says he so favors? It doesn’t, of course; abortion is inherently discriminatory, elevating the will and power of one person over another. It is the celebration of the worst kind of inequality, the taking of the life of the weaker by the stronger.

If Mr. Obama wants to be taken seriously by economists, entrepreneurs, and social conservatives alike, he needs to remove his reactive Left-liberal lenses and look at the economy, and what makes for the growth thereof, realistically. And if wants to be taken seriously as a moral leader, he needs to jettison his dogmatic agenda of elective abortion-on-demand. Let’s pray to that end in 2014.

Video: Senior Master Sgt. Philip Monk Discusses Military Religious Freedom Incident

by FRC Media Office

December 20, 2013

Master Sgt. Phillip Monk shares his story about how he was relieved of his duties when he refused to agree with his openly lesbian commanding officer that a subordinate’s expression of opposition to same-sex marriage constituted “discrimination.”   His punishment was intended to have a chilling effect on service members throughout the military.  This case among many other similar incidents prompted Congress to overwhelmingly vote to strengthen conscience and religious freedom protections for our men and women in uniform. Passage of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act requires the Armed Forces to accommodate a service member’s ability to practice and express their religious beliefs and to issue regulations formalizing those safeguards.   For more information go to militaryfreedom.org.  Thank you for standing up for #militaryfreedom.  Please share this video with your friends and family!

A Win for Conscience Rights in the Military

by Leanna Baumer

December 20, 2013

Late last night, the U.S. Senate voted 84-15 to pass a compromise agreement on the annual defense authorization bill for Fiscal Year 2014, sending the legislation to the President for his signature just before the chamber plans to recess for the rest of the year. Significantly, the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) contains language for the third year in a row addressing the need for religious accommodation in the military.

Though last year’s (FY 2013) NDAA established key requirements for the Department of Defense (DOD) to accommodate a service member’s religious beliefs, DOD has refused to issue the implementing regulations required by that law (Public Law 112-239). Moreover, military branches such as the Air Force have interpreted the law very narrowly to apply only to a service member’s ability to hold a belief, not to practice or express that belief. That truncated view of religious liberty has resulted in protections for a service member to attend a house of worship but no clear protections for a service member to apply the teachings of that house of worship to their daily life. Confusion at the command level has resulted in restrictive stifling of speech and career reprisals for some soldiers and Airmen who have vocalized their faith.

In the face of DOD’s ongoing disregard for Congressional intent, a bi-partisan group of Members and Senators acted again to ensure strengthening provisions were included in the House and Senate drafts of 2014 NDAA. The final version of the bill adopted last night (a compromise agreement negotiated by Committee leaders after regular order in the Senate was stymied by Majority Leader Reid) contains language specifically requiring DOD to accommodate the expression of belief and demanding DOD issue implementing regulations within 90 days of the law’s enactment. This is an important step forward and signals Congress’ seriousness about protecting the very freedoms our troops fight to defend.

Liberty Takes a Back Seat This New Year with the HHS Mandate

by Emily Minick

December 19, 2013

Out with the old and in with the new! This New Year as many of us re-evaluate our lives and make our yearly resolutions there is also another big change which is taking place in Washington.

On January 1, 2014 the HHS mandate will take effect, which requires all healthcare plans to cover FDA approved drugs which can destroy a human embryo, sterilization services and contraception, without copay. This is the first time that the federal government will require individuals to purchase a product or services, to which they morally object.

Religious non-profits, businesses and individuals will be forced to violate their conscience and purchase a healthcare plan which includes these drugs and services, to which they object, or face crippling fines.

This New Year, there is a lot at stake when it comes to ObamaCare and the HHS mandate.

In fact, a new FRC/ADF poll found that more people oppose the HHS mandate (59%), than oppose ObamaCare as a whole (54%).

This spring the Supreme Court will hear two cases challenging the HHS mandate on religious liberty grounds, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius.

These are some of the most important cases the Supreme Court will hear this term. Freedom of religion and conscience extends to one’s healthcare plan and something we hope that Supreme Court will recognize this spring.

To learn what is at stake with the pending Supreme Court cases, check out a new Campaign for Liberty’s blog post which explains that the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case is about rights and liberty, not contraception.

Reality Television — No Room for Real Marriage?

by Leanna Baumer

December 19, 2013

What’s real about a reality television show that won’t permit portrayal of the actual beliefs of the main character? That’s the question most Americans are left asking after last night’s announcement that A&E would suspend Duck Dynasty’s patriarch Phil Robertson from the wildly popular cable television show. The kerfuffle comes in response to statements Mr. Robertson made in an interview with GQ magazine regarding his beliefs about marriage and Biblical teaching on living a life pleasing to God. While characteristically blunt in his take on homosexuality, Mr. Robertson’s statements were bracketed by the admonition the Bible gives to love God and love others.

That qualifying language has been lost in the uproar over Phil’s declaration of Biblical views of sexual ethics. Yet, the fact that Mr. Robertson verbalized support for the Biblical and historical understanding of marriage as a union between one man and one woman should come as no surprise to the 14 million Americans who have eagerly tracked the show. After all, one of the best episodes from this year’s fourth season featured a moving ceremony in which Phil and Kay restated their marriage vows to one another. Part of their personal story as a couple is the importance their marriage has played in keeping them grounded in faith and service to one another. That’s why it’s so odd that A&E would explain their decision to suspend Mr. Robertson from the show as prompted by the expression of “his own personal beliefs” that “are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty.” One’s left to wonder what beliefs have been on display for the last four seasons if not Phil’s convictions about family, tradition, and individual responsibility?

Yet, a deeper irony lies in the A&E executives’ quick move to distance themselves from a character deemed too extreme by the cultural elite — despite Mr. Robertson’s position being that shared by the majority of Americans who affirm natural marriage and its importance for child welfare. In contrast, a truly extreme position — the promotion and glamorization of the oppressive and harmful practice of polygamy — receives adulation and acclaim on a reality show a few networks over on TLC’s Sister Wives.

Just a week ago, the main characters of that show (who have been violating Utah’s law on polygamy for years) received a partial victory in court as a Utah judge struck down part of Utah’s law. The same media elites who have been quick to condemn Phil’s belief in the stabilizing institution of natural marriage have been silent in commenting on how polygamy leads to actual physical, emotional, and economic harms to women and children, the degradation of women’s rights, and community instability and violence.

At the end of the day, a private cable company can choose to pour its finances and clout into the programs it likes. However, it’s hypocritical for the entertainment industry to blacklist Mr. Robinson under the guise of “tolerance” while also offering their tacit endorsement of a practice that leads to the subjugation of women. Marginalizing Phil Robertson for expressing the historic belief in marriage shared by most Americans is harmful to public discourse and contrary to the very values A&E purports to defend.

The Social Conservative Review: December 13, 2013

by Krystle Gabele

December 13, 2013

Click here to subscribe to The Social Conservative Review.


Dear Friend,

It’s common this time of year to ask, “Are you ready for Christmas?”

Usually what’s meant by this is, have you purchased all the presents you wish to give? Are your travel plans all set? Will you be taking time off between Christmas and New Year?

Shorthand expressions save time and unneeded explanation, but sometimes they misstate the very question they ask.

In a recent talk at FRC, Dr. Kenyn Cureton got to the real meaning of how to be ready for Christmas and invited us to consider how to truly prepare for “the Word (Who) became flesh.” Dr. Cureton, who leads FRC’s Church Ministries department, invested 20 years as a pastor after earning his Ph.D. in theology. His message is informed by a scholar’s eye and a pastor’s heart, and most supremely by love for Jesus Christ. You can listen here.

Get ready - and Merry Christmas!

Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice President
Family Research Council

P.S. Adult stem cell treatments save lives, and FRC’s Dr. David Prentice offers proof in his fascinating recent talk here at FRC.


Educational Freedom and Reform
Homeschooling

Legislation and Policy Proposals

College Debt

Government Reform
Regulation

Waste/Fraud/Abuse

Health Care
Abstinence

Health care reform: ACA/Obamacare

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

Marriage and Family
Adoption

Family Economics

Family Structure

Media
Pornography

Religion and Public Policy
Religious Liberty

Religion in America
Check out Dr. Kenyn Cureton’s feature on Watchmen Pastors called “The Lost Episodes,” featuring how religion has had an impact on our Founding Fathers.

Secularism

International
Israel

International Economy and Family

Religious Persecution

The Courts
Constitutional Issues

Other Issues

Book reviews

In USNA’s Tecumseh Court — Bite Army!

by Robert Morrison

December 13, 2013

One of the reasons I don’t plan to move out of Annapolis is that I can probably never find another town where you get fireworks four times a year. (OK, maybe I could move to Disney World.) This past week, the Naval Academy Brigade of Midshipmen celebrated Spirit Week outside Bancroft Hall with a rousing pep rally in Tecumseh Court.

The Mids are hoping to extend their streak against West Point to twelve straight wins in the classic Army-Navy football game. This year, the Mids are taking extra precautions to keep their mascot — Bill the Goat — from being kidnapped by the Cadets of the U.S. Military Academy. In past years, the Army’s Black Knights have had the pleasure of getting Navy’s goat.

But this year, Navy is protecting Bill the Goat. (Actually, both Bills; there are two official Navy goats). To prevent any raiding of goats, Navy is hiding Bills the Goats and not letting anyone know where. They’ve posted a guard dog to alert everyone to any attempts made to liberate the Navy goats. In this case, the watchword is not just Beat Army — it’s Bite Army!

I’d suggest that Navy hide Bills the Goats at nearby Fort Meade. That’s also where the National Security Agency (NSA) is located. We could all rest assured that ex-NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, won’t spill the Navy’s beans. At present, Snowden is snowed in. In Moscow.

Goat snatching and Mule bashing are all a part of the great traditions of our service academies. So, too, is another T Court event: The Induction Day ceremony that each summer brings to the Academy about 1,200 new Midshipmen. (Yes, the young ladies are called Midshipmen, too.) They come from every state in the Union and from a number of foreign nations, too. The foreign Midshipmen are excused from taking the Oath of Office.

It’s a moving and powerful scene. The “Plebes” crowd into the vast expanse of T Court. They’ve had their hair buzzed (or cropped for the ladies) and been issued baggy new “white works” as uniforms. They have been medically tested vaccinated.

For the five years my wife, a Navy captain, and I attended this ceremony, she would remark how young they all looked. Finally, I pointed out the Plebes’ parents sitting in the bleachers and noted how young they look.

Navy jets (if they aren’t grounded by the sequester) storm overhead. You feel the roar of their engines in your gut. They call it “the sound of freedom.”

And then the Plebes take this Oath of Office:

OATH OF OFFICE

Having been appointed a Midshipman in the United States Navy, do you solemnly swear (or affirm) that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that you will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that you take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which you are about to enter, so help you God?

There is hardly a parent who witnesses this ceremony who is not in tears. Many of the Plebes, likewise, are tearful. For good reason. Added to all the normal emotions of a son or daughter going off to college is this sobering thought: The oath they have just sworn, the step forward they have just taken, could be the first step toward a patriot grave.

Inside Bancroft Hall is the Memorial to hundreds of Naval Academy graduates who laid down their lives that we might live in freedom. From across College Creek, on a hill, the crosses and Stars of David in the cemetery bear silent testimony to the importance of the oath these Mids are taking.

This is the Oath taken by tens of thousands before the Class of 2017. It is the Oath that binds — and must bind — all the members of our all-volunteer military services.

There is currently a controversy over this Oath. The atheizers have succeeded for the time being in having “So Help Me God” dropped from the Oath as administered at the U.S. Air Force Academy. No one is forced to swear to any belief he or she does not hold. The Constitution of 1787 banned religious tests for all federal offices. But what the atheizers are demanding — and too often getting — is official atheism. They want to suppress our constitutionally protected free exercise rights.

George Washington was not only the first president; he was also the first Commanding General of the armies — and the navy — of the United States. Before he took his own Inaugural Oath as president, Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. For four months, Washington attended every session of the gathering, mostly in silence. It was the greatest tutorial in political philosophy, history, law, and economics ever held on this continent.

So when he took the Oath as President of the United States on April 30, 1789, it is no small matter that he added to the constitutionally prescribed Oath of Office four words.

So Help Me God

Washington understood the importance of oaths. In his Farewell Address to the Nation, he asked: “Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths?” If George Washington could do that, so can every other officeholder in America.

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