February 28, 2014
On Wednesday, a U.S. district judge in Texas ruled that the state’s law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman was unconstitutional. District Judge Orlando Garcia’s ruling adds to a growing list of rulings striking down state marriage amendments. Judges in Utah, Oklahoma, Ohio, Kentucky, and Virginia have been all too willing to substitute their individual judgment for the voice of the people on a question that our Constitution leaves to the political process.
District Judge Garcia recycles the faulty reasoning seen in other marriage cases in recent weeks. Specifically, he asserts that Texas has no rational basis for recognizing marriage as the union of a man and a woman, ignoring the state’s argument that marriage should be recognized as such in policy because the state has a legitimate interest in ensuring that a man and a woman who bring a child into the world raise that child as dad and mom. The vast majority of Texans share this historic belief. With Wednesday’s ruling, their right to uphold that ideal has been trampled on as Texas politicians such as Senator Ted Cruz have pointed out.
Judge Garcia chose to overlook the fact that as a class of people, only opposite-sex couples are biologically capable of having children and that as a class, same-sex couples are not. By failing to acknowledge this fundamental difference, Judge Garcia bypasses what this discussion is all about: the understanding of marriage as an institution that brings men and women together to responsibly care for any children their union produces. Texas has no interest in affirming who a person can love; it does have an interest in ensuring that children are raised by their mom and dad. Marriage best accomplishes that purpose and should be recognized as a legitimate and indeed rational interest.
February 27, 2014
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Religious liberty is under attack.
The Attorney General of the United States is calling on state attorneys general not to defend their states’ laws prohibiting same-sex “marriages.” As FRC President Tony Perkins rightly asked this week, “If the Attorney General can pick and choose which laws to uphold, then can the rest of us pick and choose which laws to follow?”
With respect to the wildly misrepresented Arizona bill concerning religious liberty, Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Kellie Fiedorek captured the real issue well when she wrote, “a Muslim caterer shouldn’t be forced to serve pork sandwiches at a Christian wedding on Saturday just because the couple asks for them. And a religious photographer shouldn’t be required to use her creative talents to promote the message of an atheist group.”
Recently, a panel of United Nations “experts” demanded that the Roman Catholic Church reevaluate its teachings on such issues as abortion and to consider jettisoning 2,000 years of Christian moral teaching on this and other difficult social issues (we’re having an important panel discussion on this next week).
And as Dr. Todd Johnson of Gordon-Conwell Seminary will discuss at FRC in a couple of weeks, “the global persecution of Christians” is widespread.
These threats are why Family Research Council works hard to defend and advance religious liberty at home and abroad. It’s a right that comes from God, not the state or any political leaders. It’s worth protecting.
Senior Vice President
Family Research Council
P.S. On March 13, U.S. Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) will be giving a lecture at FRC titled, “Health Care and Conscience Rights.” Please join us here or watch online at no charge.
Educational Freedom and Reform
Legislation and Policy Proposals
Health care reform: ACA/Obamacare
- “The Essential Pretense,” The Federalist
- “NYC: More Black Babies Killed by Abortion Than Born,” CNSNews.com
- “Abortion: Making Money by Killing,” The American Spectator
- “Is Contraception the Hill We Want to Die On?,” Crisis Magazine
- “Botched Arguments: Hurting or Helping the Prolife Cause?,” Commonweal Magazine
- “Elective Genocide,” The Catholic Thing
- “Bolivia Upholds Abortion Ban, Snubs UN Committee,” C-FAM
- “Former Planned Parenthood nurse: Abortion clinic ‘evil, sad place’,” Catholic San Francisco
- “Report: US 1 of only 7 countries that allow elective abortions after 20 weeks,” The Daily Caller
- “The Next Battle in the Abortion Wars,” Politico
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.
Marriage and Family
Religion and Public Policy
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.
International Economy and Family
February 21, 2014
Sochi thrills and spills are fast coming to a close and soon the 2014 Winter Olympics will only be faint memories of two weeks in Russia. Yet, even the casual Olympic television viewer will be left with a profound conclusion regarding family after these games — that the natural definition of marriage has little relevance for family structure or defining what is the “normal” formation of a family.
At least that’s the message that has been stressed over and over by several Chevrolet “Find New Roads” commercials that have run nonstop throughout the games. The advertisements equate heterosexual marriage (deemed “the old love” in “The New Love” Chevy spot) with the “new love” of homosexual unions. In “The New Us,” Chevy portrays a collection of families carrying out daily life, featuring two gay couples with their children alongside a collection of racially diverse heterosexual couples and their children. Intoning that “while what it means to be a family hasn’t changed, what a family looks like has,” Chevy commits an emotionally appealing logical shortcut, conflating what a family looks like with how it is formed.
Historically, natural marriage has been understood as the foundation of family formation because marriage as the union of a man and a woman is the only union that can produce children, the next generation needed to maintain a family. According to Chevy though, such biological distinctions don’t need to have relevance for today and gay parenting patterns can be described as the new “normal.”
Ironically, when the parenting pattern that has been celebrated as the ideal for thousands of years — a married dad staying faithful to his wife and child — was highlighted at this Winter Olympics, the lifestyle was described as an “alternative.” American freestyle skier (and now gold medalist) David Wise holds the distinction of being happily married to his wife of several years, Alexandra, and the father of their daughter. In a sport that celebrates the rebellious, such staid behavior at the tender age of twenty three is deemed “wildly uncool.” Meanwhile, the first television depiction of gay couples during an Olympics received a pass as the “new us.”
That new path to family detached from the natural foundation of marriage is certainly a “New Road” that many have found. Not all new roads are smooth roads though, and only time will tell the consequences of redefining marriage into a genderless institution that fails to consider the needs of children ahead of the desires of adults.
February 20, 2014
Common Core is turning out to be a Common Disaster.
Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, the largest teacher union, wrote a letter to the union’s three million members calling the Common Core rollout, “completely botched.” This is a blow to the standards and assessments many thought were a consensus among educators and states across the country to prepare students for college.
In recent months there has been a steady stream of teacher unions, teachers, parents and government officials expressing their concern over Common Core and hesitation about its rapid rollout and implementation timeline. Common Core is a state initiative that the Obama Administration is pushing and is already being incorporated in schools across the country, with full implementation required by the 2014-2015 school year.
Common Core removes local accountability for a child’s education. Presently, if a parent is concerned about their child’s education or teaching material in the school, there is a direct course of action for a parent to raise their concerns. With Common Core, however, that course of action and accountability between parents and teachers is muddled, at best, and completely removes accountability from the local school, teacher and even the state.
This is because Common Core was written, developed, and adopted with little input from parents and educators. Now, with 45 states and the District of Columbia having adopted the standards, educators and parents are learning that their child’s education is suffering, and there is little they can do because the standards and assessments are already written, being taught in school, and only allowed limited revisions.
In his letter to the union members, Dennis Van Roekel stressed the fact that the frustration with the standards are not isolated, citing the fact that 70% of teachers believe the implementation of Common Core is going poorly in their schools.
This statistic is astonishing. Developers of the Common Core standards and assessments seem to have forgotten that educators and parents should be consulted about what is taught in the classroom.
February 20, 2014
Bowdoin College, one of America’s elite institutions of higher education, has now “banned a local lawyer and his wife from leading campus Bible studies with students after the couple refused to sign a non-discrimination agreement they say violates their Christian faith.”
For nearly the past ten years the couple, Rob and Sim Gregory, has been volunteers with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s Bowdoin Christian Fellowship (BCF). They have been told they will no longer be welcome on Bowdoin’s campus after May because of their commitment to the Bible’s teaching that sexual intimacy is reserved for a heterosexual couple within the covenant of marriage.
The following excerpt from The Maine Wire explains the story well and succinctly:
For nearly a decade, the Gregorys have been a fixture of Bowdoin’s community and source of counsel and comfort for college-aged Christians. But last year administration officials informed the Gregorys they would be required to sign a non-discrimination agreement in order to continue serving as an advisor to BCF.
“If someone’s participating in an organization and they are LGBTIQA [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Questioning, Asexual] and they are not allowed to participate in that organization because of their sexual orientation or they cannot lead that organization because of their sexual orientation, then that’s discrimination,” said Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster, according to the Bowdoin Orient.
According to the Orient, Foster said the initiative grew partially as a reaction to the Penn State scandal in 2011 in which assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of multiple counts of child molestation. “One of the things we realized,” Foster told the Orient, “is that we have people on our campus working with students, spending a significant amount of time with students, and we don’t know a lot about a lot of these people.”
Gregory, who runs a Damariscotta-based law firm and is also a minister, had no qualms submitting to a background check. But for him, signing the agreement would constitute a violation of his Christian faith. So he offered a revision to the agreement that would protect his right to teach the historical Christian faith - without Bowdoin’s censorship. Similar religious exemptions have been adopted at other American colleges and universities.
The suggested amendment to the agreement read, in part, as follows: “Reservation of Rights to Religious Beliefs and Practices: The signature on this agreement shall not be construed to limit in any way the right of the undersigned Volunteer to hold, teach and practice his/her sincerely held Christian religious beliefs and to follow, hold, and teach the religious beliefs and practices of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in the conduct of its campus ministry at Bowdoin College.”
In a Feb. 5 email obtained by The Maine Wire, Nathan Hintze, associate director of student activities, rejected Gregory’s compromise language.
“I’m sorry that you have decided not to agree to the College’s volunteer policy,” said Hintze. “Both the Muslim and Catholic volunteers have in fact agreed without reservation.. It is simply unacceptable to have College-recognized student organizations effectively discriminate against individuals in violation of Maine law, which protects students’ right to fully participate as members of an organization and to lead that organization regardless of one’s sexual orientation.”
The stern, unbending voice of crypto-fascism is all too prevalent in the college’s condescending comments. For Rob Gregory, as quoted in Bowdoin’s student paper, The Orient, the fundamental issue is fidelity to Scripture and to historic Christian teaching: “The Bible teaches that human sexuality is expected to find its fulfillment inside of the twoness of persons and the twoness of genders.”
For this affirmation of biblical teaching on human sexuality, the Gregorys are being forced off the Bowdoin campus.
A friend of mine, who is associated with Bowdoin, sent me the following in a confidential email:
Rob and his wife, Sim, have hosted students countless times at their homes, taken on pro bono an internationally-covered cause to help a Bowdoin student, and spent thousands of dollars to love Bowdoin students out of their love for Christ. I know this firsthand, though Rob doesn’t say this publicly at all. In short, Bowdoin could not be targeting and smearing a better man (and his wife). Rob is gospel-centered, a man of oak, and does all this work (usually 35 hours a week) when he’s not being a high-powered Maine attorney. He and his wife aren’t paid a dime for this! They serve Bowdoin’s students selflessly, and Bowdoin has the temerity to try to crush them.
The historic Judeo-Christian understanding of morally valid human sexual expression is not bigoted, intolerant, or whatever other tired terms-of-political-art its opponents use whenever their social suzerainty in our decomposing age is questioned. And if the Bible’s teaching on human sexuality is true, then there is no ground for compromise with those who insist it not be taught. There is no common ground here, which is scary for anyone who cares about liberty and justice in a self-governing society.
The Gregorys deserve our thanks for their willingness to stand unequivocally “for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:2). They are losing access to the Bowdoin campus in time, but for them, a well-deserved eternal reward awaits. Not a bad trade-off, that.
February 19, 2014
Amidst renewed plans from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to take up legislation this spring addressing sexual assault in the military, a collection of ethical scandals involving military leadership continues to dog Pentagon officials.
Though the U.S. military still ranks as one of the most respected institutions in public life (and rightly so), the reputation of top brass has taken a beating with news of a Navy bribery scam, drinking binges during high profile missions, and incidents of serial adultery. Problems at one Air Force base extend to the junior officer level as over ninety officers responsible for operating our nuclear missile force have been caught cheating on monthly proficiency exams. In South Carolina, sailors tasked with operating Navy nuclear reactors appear to have shared exam questions and so far at least thirty sailors have been decertified as a result.
Given these troubling stories of lapses in integrity, numerous new oversight plans have emerged. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered a full review of the ethical training senior officers receive, with the report due last Friday. The Secretary of the Air Force has spoken of the need to address “systemic problems,” and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said that assessing character will be a larger part of the evaluation of military officers in the future.
With the pivot to introspection however, it’s important for Pentagon officials to consider how moral virtue in the Armed Forces is cultivated in the first place.
That human failings have surfaced in the military isn’t in itself news. After all, the military is made up of individuals who are influenced by and reflect the social mores of our culture. Look at any aspect of American society, and you will quickly find examples of cheating, moral failure, and personal irresponsibility. Honesty, sobriety, and sexual propriety are not often glorified in our culture at large. Instead, our culture lauds self-expression and immediate self-gratification.
In a self-focused culture, how can we shape an environment that demands honesty, fidelity, and honor, all characteristics demanding self-denial? In other words, how is an expectation of ethical and moral behavior to be cultivated and maintained?
Traditionally, religious beliefs have been helpful in forming an ethic that values others over self, upholds integrity, and demands personal piety. Religion generally involves the humbling of self in light of a Divine Being, a realization of answering to a higher authority. Such beliefs tend to inspire an individual to please a higher power in interactions with fellow men. (Of course, religious individuals as fallible human beings can be guilty of violating ethical codes too, sometimes egregiously so in light of their claiming to have a high standard to which they have failed to adhere.)
Unfortunately, religious expression within the military has grown more difficult following the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” in part because of the taboo surrounding the expression of politically incorrect opinions on sexuality. In an effort to be accommodating to homosexual service members, religious opinions about the proper boundaries of sexual behavior have been constrained.
Yet religion strongly condemns infidelity, lying, and drunkenness — all problems highlighted in the latest military scandals. Moreover, the dominant religion practiced in the United States, Christianity, upholds the ideal of chastity, a demand for purity and restraint in sexual conduct.
Army General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said that multiple rounds of deployment demanded by the pressures of war in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years have caused a focus on character to fall behind a focus on competence. That failure also meant “we were neglecting the tools that manage us as a profession over time.”
Since we know that one of those tools for cultivating morality for many people has been religious faith, are we encouraging the “systemic problem” in our services by ostracizing the expression of moral beliefs rooted in religious faith? It’s a question worth asking as DOD leaders search for the tools to reinforce moral integrity in our military.
February 18, 2014
It’s the first day back to work following Valentine’s Day and the President’s Day holiday. For many women, today means eating the rest of the leftover candy hearts and cursing the selfishness of the single men who caused them to spend another holiday unromantically alone. But, what if the increasingly isolated situation of young women in the United States isn’t entirely the fault of self-absorbed perpetually adolescent 21st century males (as self-absorbed as they may be)? What if it’s partially the conduct of single females that’s driven up the average age of marriage and kept thousands of women apart from a spouse?
That’s the thesis of a new resource out from the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture: The Economics of Sex. This short video primer posits that women offering sex “cheaply” give men little incentive to offer the commitment of marriage in exchange. Supply and demand apply to the relationships between the sexes just as much as in any other category of our market-driven world, the Austin Institute scholars explain.
As any serially single woman can tell you, more women than men want to start a serious relationship in pursuit of marriage. But if most single females are willing to offer their bodies to men with few conditions, men won’t have to look far for pleasure with no expectations.
What’s a woman to do then? Realize the power that she possesses in controlling access to her body, suggests the research team. She and her sisters might collaborate to require serious commitment from men, ideally the threshold of marriage, before giving themselves physically. Were women to place a higher value on sex, we would likely see women getting more of the commitment they desire out of a relationship and many fewer solitary Valentines.
Family Research Council
February 14, 2014
Valentine’s Day is full of romance and love for many Americans and it is a beautiful thing. The thought of that special person can send sparks flying. Hearts, roses, and chocolates abound. Young love blossoms. Sadly, these scenes of romance are often a façade for a culture obsessed with an emotional high rather than a selfless love. When the day ends the beauty of the emotional romance is gone, replaced by the ugly reality of shallow relationships. Real romance is not a state of eternal bliss but a commitment to love, sacrificing for the good of the other. How can we hold onto love beyond that February 14th feeling? With so few cultural factors that encourage true romance and love it is helpful to use the Valentine’s Day holiday as a reminder of what love truly looks like. I could give a hundred reasons why marriage is good for you, but those are simply side benefits to following God’s plan for love. Here are three things every Christian husband should do this Valentine’s Day to renew a lasting love and romance:
- Remember that you are to love your wife like Christ loved the church. Enough to bleed for her and enough to die for her. Enough to be separated from His Heavenly Father and to become sin for her. I am to love my wife when she sins against me. I am to nurture her, cherish her, and care for her. I am to spend myself for her because I love her and because Christ showed me how.
- Remember that my love for her is not conditional on feelings. Feelings are fickle. They change but my love for my wife can shine brighter even when feelings wane. Choosing to love often brings feelings with it but feelings are not the gauge of love. I want my wife to know that “for better or for worse” wasn’t just a cliché phrase but a life-long promise.
- Remember to do her good. It can be easy to do good to your significant other while dating. But after a few years of marriage, it may require a little effort. Thinking of ways to do her good involves not just gifts but understanding her needs on both a personal and spiritual level. Bearing your spouse’s burdens can be a challenging and fulfilling task, but it is well worth the effort.
I love my wife. She loves me. I still consider myself a newlywed even though I have been married for well over two years. We still act like romantics, we still hold hands. I still kiss her every morning when I leave for work and she greets me with a kiss when I come home. But these are not the deeds that lead to love they are expressions of it. I have chosen to love my wife. Loving my wife, regardless of feelings, with a desire to do her good at all times is a difficult task. But it is a task I have been commanded to pursue and one I promised, on my wedding day, to perform until death. Along with the chocolate and the kisses, may we all renew our commitment to make the rest of “‘til death do us part” a beautiful thing.
February 14, 2014
Steven Massof, a Kermit Gosnell unlicensed assistant who performed illegal late abortions and killed infants born alive was sentenced to six to twelve years in prison on February 12. Massof would have faced a possible death sentence were it not for the fact that he pled guilty to two counts of third-degree murder and cooperated with prosecutors by testifying against Gosnell.
Part of his testimony last year revealed that he saw over 100 babies born alive who had their necks snipped in what he said was “literally a beheading. It is separating the brain from the body.”
Massof told the court that during busy times when the women were given a heavy dose of drugs to induce contractions, “it would rain fetuses. Fetuses and blood all over the place… I felt like a fireman in hell. I couldn’t put out all the fires.”
Three more Gosnell workers await sentencing.
As the horrific Gosnell stories resurface in the wake of new sentences, they remind us of the injustice done to both women and children in this facility. Women were drugged up in a factory-line fashion and in some recorded instances were seriously injured and, in a few cases like that of Semika Shaw and Karnamaya Mongar, killed during the abortion procedure. How many more abortion facilities around the country hide a similar ugly truth behind drab walls? Let us move forth in a renewed effort to help inform women about the dangers of abortion and support women who feel cornered into thinking that taking the life of their child is their only option.
As for their children, they were treated like garbage or like trophy objects in Gosnell’s facility. Let us remember the humanity of the children who fell victim at Gosnell and his staff’s hands and work to defend others against the scourge of abortion.
Photo Source: Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office
Family Research Council
February 13, 2014
Baker Interview 20140212.mp3
FRC President Tony Perkins interviews Aaron Klein regarding the recent controversy over their bakery business.