Month Archives: June 2015

Elisabeth Elliot: A Woman Who Knew God

by Rob Schwarzwalder

June 16, 2015

Today’s New York Times’ obituary section features stories about, among others, the passing of a Hollywood actress, a stripper, a movie producer, a Grand Ole Opry star, and “a host to legendary maestros.”

Not listed is Elisabeth Elliot, perhaps the most influential woman in American Evangelicalism of the past half-century.

She was the widow of missionary martyr Jim Elliot and later of Gordon-Conwell Seminary theologian Addison Leitch; in total, she was married to them for about six years. She knew loss and pain throughout her life. Then God brought her to Lars Gren, with whom she enjoyed many years of marriage and ministry. She also rejoiced in her daughter with Jim, Valerie Elliot Shepard, and many grandchildren.

Numerous moving obituaries have been written about her. I recommend Justin Taylor’s at The Gospel Coalition (“She was a beautiful woman of whom the world was not worthy”), John Piper’s (“Peaches in Paradise: Why I Loved Elisabeth Elliot”), Tsh Oxenreider’s at the Washington Post, and the collation of tributes at Christianity Today. These remembrances feature many quotes from Mrs. Elliot, whose love for her Savior and devotion to taking up His cross daily fed millions for many years.

Her ministry for Jesus Christ was her gracious but uncompromising. Consider Mrs. Elliot’s utterly fearless decision to live with three Ecuadorean Indian tribes (taking her year-old daughter with her and beginning with the tribe that murdered her husband and his four missionary colleagues); her 13 year-long radio devotional; her more than 20 books; her extraordinary speaking ministry; and her extensive personal correspondence with generations of young women seeking the compassionate but firmly truthful counsel for which she was both known and honored. Like Abel, she, being dead, yet speaketh (Hebrews 11:4), and will speak for many years to come.

Mrs. Elliot was also a gracious but unflinching advocate for the unborn and their mothers. “We are faced with only one question,” she wrote. “Are we talking about an object, or might it by any stretch of the imagination be a person? If we cannot be sure of the answer, at least we may pick up a clue or two from the word of the Lord which came to Jeremiah: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you for my own; before you were born I consecrated you, I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’ To God, at least, Jeremiah was already a person. For my part, I will try to regard whatever bears the marks of humanity as God’s property and not mine.”

As a young man, her book about her husband Jim, Shadow of the Almighty, had a greater effect on my own devotion to Christ than any book but the Bible. When she came to speak at the seminary I attended in Oregon, the venue must have had a special meaning to her. Western Seminary is located on the eastern slope of Portland’s Mt. Tabor; Jim had been raised only a few blocks away on the northern slope.

Mrs. Elliot’s omission from the obituary section of the nation’s “paper of record” is unsurprising. It’s also unimportant. Elisabeth Elliot lived a life “despising the shame” of the cross, just as did the Prince of Life nailed to it, the eternal Son she followed with perseverance and humble fidelity.

There is so much to say, but one thing should not be neglected: Mrs. Elliot was not occupied with Evangelicalism’s many self-preoccupations, endless self-analyses, constant bickering over secondary things, the latest techniques of ministry, or the embarrassing and fruitless professionalization of the ministry of the Gospel and the church’s sordid aping of the business world. She harkened her fellow believers to a deep and intimate walk with the Savior not just for what they could derive from it but because He deserves lives of full submission to Him. And, as that submission is given, daily, the peace, joy, and contentment for which we all long follows.

No short blog of mine can capture fully the magnificence of Mrs. Elliot’s utter surrender to the Lord Jesus. Perhaps a story related by Steve Saint, the son of one of Jim’s colleagues, is a good way to close:

… moments after killing the five missionaries who had come to deliver to them the gospel, these native Indian men saw hazy figures above the tree line and heard them singing music they had never heard before. Many months later, several of these tribesmen were converted to Christ. Afterwards, they sat listening to a missionary’s record player … (playing) a choir singing hymns. The natives recognized the music and said it was like the music they had heard that day on the sandy beach coming from the figures hovering above the tree line.

Mrs. Elliot has, in person, now heard those “figures” – those angels – singing. And she has met the One of Whom they sang, and sing, for all eternity.

Conservative Conservatism

by Rob Schwarzwalder

June 15, 2015

In 2003, Bill Kristol wrote in The Weekly Standard that “the historical task and political purpose of neoconservatism would seem to be this: to convert the Republican party, and American conservatism in general, against their respective wills, into a new kind of conservative politics suitable to governing a modern democracy … Neocons do not like the concentration of services in the welfare state and are happy to study alternative ways of delivering these services. But they are impatient with the Hayekian notion that we are on ‘the road to serfdom.’ Neocons do not feel that kind of alarm or anxiety about the growth of the state in the past century, seeing it as natural, indeed inevitable.”

A few years earlier, Marvin Olasky articulated a vision of “compassionate conservatism” thusly: “The major flaw of the modern welfare state is not that it is extravagant, but that it is too stingy. It gives the needy bread and tells them to be content with that alone. It gives the rest of us the opportunity to be stingy also, and to salve our consciences even as we scrimp on what many of the destitute need most — love, time, and a challenge to be ‘little lower than the angels’ rather than one thumb up from monkeys.”

Now we read a good deal about reform conservatism, whose proponents advance a quite sophisticated and wide-ranging program articulated elegantly by Yuval Levin. “American conservatives need to offer our vision as a genuine alternative to the status quo,” he writes. “Doing so requires us to make an appeal to the broader public grounded in both a practical and a theoretical case, and therefore to engage simultaneously with the mundane realities of American government and the principles and philosophy that underlie our idea of the proper character of society and politics. It requires, in other words, a political program that draws on a conservative anthropology, sociology, and epistemology, and expresses itself in terms of both political philosophy and public administration. This means that today’s Right needs both a firmer grounding in the foundations of the conservative tradition in American politics and more practical policy proposals that can speak to the public’s needs and wants.”

All of these qualified visions of conservatism and conservative governance have much to commend them in philosophy, analysis, and substantive proposals. However, the modifiers noted seem to imply some deficiency in the philosophy they claim essentially to endorse. That’s worrisome.

Conservatism, properly understood, is compassionate inherently. Much of what the “reform conservatives” want is what all conservatives want. Neoconservatism largely has integrated with its non-neo philosophical kin.

Soon I plan to write a longer and, I hope, both sympathetic and unifying piece about all of this. Suffice it for now to say that conservatives need simply to be conservatives in the truest sense of the term. That means confidence in our philosophy, winsomeness in tone, surefootedness in articulation, and undauntedness in the face of skepticism. Unmodified, unqualified, unapologetic in self-description, too.

Harder Times Coming

by Pat Fagan

June 15, 2015

Given all we know about the benefits of religious worship the rising numbers of NONEs is real bad news for society.  The social and individual benefit depletion  suggested by the trend lines below is staggeringly serious —- but no public leader is calling attention to this weakening trend. 

From the abstract of a new report by a team of researchers:

In four large, nationally representative surveys (N = 11.2 million), American adolescents and emerging adults in the 2010s (Millennials) were significantly less religious than previous generations (Boomers, Generation X) at the same age. The data are from the Monitoring the Future studies of 12th graders (1976–2013), 8th and 10th graders (1991–2013), and the American Freshman survey of entering college students (1966–2014). Although the majority of adolescents and emerging adults are still religiously involved, twice as many 12th graders and college students, and 20%–40% more 8th and 10th graders, never attend religious services. Twice as many 12th graders and entering college students in the 2010s (vs. the 1960s–70s) give their religious affiliation as “none,” as do 40%–50% more 8th and 10th graders. Recent birth cohorts report less approval of religious organizations, are less likely to say that religion is important in their lives, report being less spiritual, and spend less time praying or meditating

What Loving Means

by Peter Sprigg

June 12, 2015

June 12 has been dubbed “Loving Day.” No, it is not an effort to compete with Valentine’s Day. “Loving Day” commemorates the anniversary of a Supreme Court decision — in the 1967 case of Loving v. Virginia — in which the court declared that state laws barring interracial marriage were unconstitutional. Advocates for redefining marriage to include same-sex couples argue that this case is precedent for striking down state laws that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Richard Loving, a white man, had married Mildred Jeter Loving, a black woman, in the District of Columbia. They later moved to Virginia; but in 1958, police officers entered their house in the middle of the night and demanded to know, “What are you doing in bed with this lady?” Although the Lovings had their marriage certificate hanging on the wall, the sheriff was unimpressed, declaring, “That’s no good here.” The couple was jailed for five days, after which a judge accepted their guilty plea to a charge of violating the state’s anti-miscegenation statute. They were given the choice of spending a year in jail or leaving the state. They chose to return to D.C.— and then filed suit to overturn their conviction. The Lovings were vindicated by a unanimous Supreme Court nine years later.

California’s Supreme Court had already struck down a similar statute nineteen years earlier (Perez v. Sharp, 1948). That court had declared that “the essence of the right to marry is freedom to join in marriage with the person of one’s choice.” Homosexual activists claim that this is precisely the principle that should apply to their efforts to marry a chosen person of the same sex.

There is a certain logic to this argument. Laws against same-sex marriage do restrict a person’s choice of marriage partner, as did laws against interracial marriage. But the flaw in the argument is that no one — not even the most radical advocate of homosexual marriage — is proposing to eliminate all restrictions on one’s choice of marriage partner. Every state forbids marriage to specific classes of people — namely, those who are already married, children, or certain close blood relatives.

The point, then, of the cases on interracial marriage cannot have been that restrictions on marital choice are unacceptable across the board. It was, rather, more specifically that race was not a legitimate basis for imposing such a restriction.

The constitutional basis of the case against the “anti-miscegenation” laws was that they violated the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, which states that no state may “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Courts have ruled that this does not mean states can never have laws that treat some people differently from others, but those distinctions must have a reason and cannot be arbitrary.

It is worth reading an excerpt from the court’s decision in Loving (citations omitted or abbreviated). This was the conclusion of the Court’s Equal Protection analysis:

The clear and central purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment was to eliminate all official state sources of invidious racial discrimination in the States.

There can be no question but that Virginia’s miscegenation statutes rest solely upon distinctions drawn according to race. The statutes proscribe generally accepted conduct if engaged in by members of different races. Over the years, this Court has consistently repudiated “[d]istinctions between citizens solely because of their ancestry” as being “odious to a free people whose institutions are founded upon the doctrine of equality.” Hirabayashi v. United States (1943). At the very least, the Equal Protection Clause demands that racial classifications, especially suspect in criminal statutes, be subjected to the “most rigid scrutiny,” Korematsu v. United States (1944), and, if they are ever to be upheld, they must be shown to be necessary to the accomplishment of some permissible state objective, independent of the racial discrimination which it was the object of the Fourteenth Amendment to eliminate. Indeed, two members of this Court have already stated that they “cannot conceive of a valid legislative purpose … which makes the color of a person’s skin the test of whether his conduct is a criminal offense.” McLaughlin v. Florida.

There is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious racial discrimination which justifies this classification. The fact that Virginia prohibits only interracial marriages involving white persons demonstrates that the racial classifications must stand on their own justification, as measures designed to maintain White Supremacy. We have consistently denied the constitutionality of measures which restrict the rights of citizens on account of race. There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the Equal Protection Clause.

Just in these short paragraphs there are references to “racial discrimination,” “distinctions drawn according to race,” “ancestry,” “racial classifications,” “the color of a person’s skin” — a dozen such references in all. This should be sufficient to demonstrate that Loving was not based on a generalized right to marry “the person of your choice,” but was rather based specifically on the Constitution’s clear prohibition of state-sponsored discrimination based on race.

Advocates for redefining marriage have also argued that same-sex couples have been denied the “fundamental right to marry,” an interest in “liberty” that courts have found to be implicit in the 14th Amendment’s “Due Process” clause, which says that no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law . . .”

Advocates of marriage redefinition point out that Loving was based on a “due process/fundamental right” argument, not just an equal protection one. True — but here is the entire text of the Court’s fundamental rights analysis in Loving:

These statutes also deprive the Lovings of liberty without due process of law in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.

Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival. Skinner v. Oklahoma, (1942). See also Maynard v. Hill, (1888). To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

This part of the opinion was a scant 169 words out of over 2,500 in the decision. However, it, too, makes reference to “racial classifications” and “invidious racial discriminations.” There is thus no reason to believe that Loving forbids classifications on some basis other than race.

Numerous courts considering same-sex “marriage” lawsuits have rejected the Loving analogy. As the judge in a 2003 Indiana case (Morrison v. Sadler) noted, “Anti-miscegenation laws, because they interfered with the traditional marriage relationships in pursuit of opprobrious racial segregation policies, had no legitimate connection to the institution of marriage itself… . [W]hatever else marriage is about, it is not about racial segregation.” In contrast, however, “restrictions against same-sex marriage reinforce, rather than disrupt, the traditional understanding of marriage as a unique relationship between a woman and a man. Marriage traditionally and definitionally has had to do with the sex of each participant.”

A Superior Court in New Jersey came to a similar conclusion in a similar case (Lewis v. Harris) in 2003:

Plaintiffs’ reliance on decisions striking down statutes that prohibit interracial marriage is misplaced. These decisions derive from Constitutional amendments prohibiting racial discrimination and subjecting laws that classify individuals based on race to the highest level of scrutiny. No similar Constitutional provisions outlaw statutory classifications based on sexual orientation … . Comparing the State’s marriage statutes to laws perpetuating racial prejudice, therefore, is inapposite.

Individuals challenging bans on interracial marriage had a powerful weapon: Federal Constitutional provisions, passed by Congress and adopted by State Legislatures, that expressly prohibited States from denying recognized rights based on race. It was entirely appropriate for the courts to enforce those duly enacted Constitutional provisions by striking down statutes that made race a qualifying condition for access to a recognized right to marry. Plaintiffs, on the other hand, assert their claims in the absence of express Constitutional provisions supporting their position, and ask the court to circumvent the Legislative process by creating a right that has never before been recognized in this country.

The mandate for racial equality is firmly enshrined in both the Federal and State Constitutions. Importantly, two amendments to the United States Constitution expressly address racial equality [the 13th and 14th]… .

The Supreme Court’s decision in Loving v. Virginia is predicated entirely on the Fourteenth Amendment’s prohibition of racial classifications… .

No similar Constitutional provision accords heightened protection to individuals who claim that statutes discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation… .

… [P]laintiffs … lack the significant legal foundation that was available to the plaintiffs in Loving to demand judicial recognition of the rights they seek.

In November 2014, a panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld one-man-one-woman marriage laws in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. It is the appeal of these cases (consolidated under the case name Obergefell v. Hodges) which is now before the Supreme Court.

The Sixth Circuit panel noted another compelling reason for questioning whether Loving provides a precedent for allowing same-sex couples to legally “marry.” In 1972, a case out of Minnesota (Baker v. Nelson), making the same claims for same-sex “marriage” now being asserted, was appealed to the Supreme Court. It dismissed the case “for want of a substantial federal question,” a disposal which provides a binding precedent on all lower courts. It is irrational to claim that Loving established a right to same-sex “marriage,” when the Supreme Court already rejected that argument five years after Loving was decided:

Matters do not change because Loving v. Virginia held that “marriage” amounts to a fundamental right. When the Court decided Loving, “marriage between a man and a woman no doubt [was] thought of … as essential to the very definition of that term.” Windsor, 133 S. Ct. at 2689. In referring to “marriage” rather than “opposite-sex marriage,” Loving confirmed only that “opposite-sex marriage” would have been considered redundant, not that marriage included same-sex couples. Loving did not change the definition. That is why the Court said marriage is “fundamental to our very existence and survival,” a reference to the procreative definition of marriage. Had a gay African-American male and a gay Caucasian male been denied a marriage license in Virginia in 1968, would the Supreme Court have held that Virginia had violated the Fourteenth Amendment? No one to our knowledge thinks so, and no Justice to our knowledge has ever said so. The denial of the license would have turned not on the races of the applicants but on a request to change the definition of marriage. Had Loving meant something more when it pronounced marriage a fundamental right, how could the Court hold in Baker five years later that gay marriage does not even raise a substantial federal question? Loving addressed, and rightly corrected, an unconstitutional eligibility requirement for marriage; it did not create a new definition of marriage.

Natural Marriage Builds Bridges, Not Walls

The clear purpose of the bans on interracial marriage was to build walls between two groups of people in society, blacks and whites. Such laws were designed to reinforce a system of racial segregation, keeping the races apart from one another.

In contrast, defining marriage as the union of male and female has exactly the opposite intent and effect. Rather than building walls between two classes of people, it creates a bridge across the most fundamental gap in humanity — the gap between male and female. Bridging the divide of the sexes by uniting men and women in marriage is common to all human civilizations, and serves the good of society.

Interracial marriage does not change the definition of marriage, and laws against interracial marriage had as their only purpose preserving a social system of racial segregation.

Homosexual “marriage,” on the other hand, changes the fundamental definition of the institution, and would form at least three segregated forms of marriage: male-only unions, female-only unions, and opposite-sex unions.

Legally defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman does not burden the institution of marriage. Instead, it preserves marriage’s nature and purpose. Homosexual marriage is not a “civil right,” it is a political demand that should be denied.

Note: Portions of this post were excerpted from Peter Sprigg’s book Outrage: How Gay Activists and Liberal Judges are Trashing Democracy to Redefine Marriage (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2004).

Liberal columnist agrees — “family values” debate is about “what words actually mean”

by Peter Sprigg

June 11, 2015

E. J. Dionne, a columnist for the Washington Post who is generally left of center, wrote a piece for today’s paper in which he called for “a searching national debate over family values.” Bravo — I heartily agree.

Dionne goes on to say, “It will not be about whether we as a country are for them. We are. What’s required is a grounded and candid discussion about what those words actually mean.” Right again.

The debate about “what those words actually mean” is exactly the debate we have been engaged in for four or five decades now.

In fact, we are now only weeks away from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling about what one very important word — “marriage” — actually means. That debate has been ongoing at least since 1993, when a Hawaii court became the first in the country to rule that defining marriage the only way it had ever been defined in the United States — as the union of one man and one woman — might somehow offend constitutional principles.

It is Dionne’s fellow liberals, however, who try to deny that “what … words actually mean” is what the same-sex “marriage” debate is about. They claim that their efforts are to end “discrimination” and to affirm the equal dignity of gay-identified people — not to “redefine marriage.” They claim that the efforts of conservatives are intended to stigmatize homosexuals and to impose religious dogma on secular law.

The liberals are wrong — the real debate is about what the word “marriage” means. Our belief is that “marriage” is intrinsically the union of a man and a woman, and that this definition cannot be changed because it is rooted in the order of nature itself. It always requires the contribution of one man and one woman to create a new human life, and it is because of this immutable uniqueness of the male-female relationship that we treat such relationships uniquely under the law.

Whatever the merits of a four-wheeled vehicle may be, it cannot be a “bicycle” — because a bicycle, by definition, has two wheels. By the same token, whatever satisfaction some may gain from a same-sex relationship, it can never be a “marriage” — because marriage, by definition, is the union of a man and a woman.

Liberals may be very sincere in the goals they seek to achieve in the marriage debate — but there is simply no denying that the method they are using to try to achieve them is to change the definition of the word “marriage.”

Although “marriage” is at the forefront right now, there have been similar debates about what “family” means. We argue that “families” are formed in only three ways — by blood, marriage, or adoption. Mere cohabitation with a sexual partner does not create a “family;” neither does living in the same house with a partner’s children.

The context for Dionne’s column was his observations about the obvious love and devotion between members of the Biden family — specifically, between Vice President Joe Biden and his late son Beau, who tragically died of cancer recently at the age of 46. There is no question that liberals like Joe Biden can love their family members as deeply as any “pro-family” conservative does.

This is not the issue in debate. The issue is that liberals have adopted the position that the meaning of “family” is almost infinitely malleable, defined by emotional standards rather than objective ones. However, the Bidens are not “family” because they love each other — they love each other because they are family.

The problem with redefining “marriage” and “family” is that if they can mean anything, then they come to mean nothing. So, two cheers for E. J. Dionne for recognizing that the “national debate” is about “what those words actually mean.”

Talking Turkey Tumult?

by Robert Morrison

June 11, 2015

America’s business newspaper of record, the Wall Street Journal, headlined this story this week: “Key Ally Turkey Braces for Tumult.” Generally, business does not like “tumult” and it especially doesn’t like it in a country viewed as vital to U.S. national interests. Turkey, a founding member of the NATO alliance, has been moving out of the orbit of American friends in recent years. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pronounced air-doo-WAN) has been pushing this large Muslim majority country into the arms of the jihadists. But last weekend’s voting in Turkey resulted in a loss of a majority in Parliament by Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has ruled Turkey since 2002.

Erdogan tried five years ago to run the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The ship, the Mavi Marmara, was “discreetly encouraged” by Erdogan’s government. She was bringing only “humanitarian” aid to the people in that strip of land adjoining Israel. But Gaza is controlled by the terrorist gang, Hamas.

Humanitarian aid in Gaza includes construction materials that can be used, yes, to repair bomb damage from Israeli raids. But it can also be used to build Metro-size tunnels. Hamas is burrowing under Israeli schools and hospitals. To prevent a future terrorist strike by Hamas fighters emerging on Israel’s side of the border, Israel’s Defense Force (IDF) launched Operation Protective Edge last summer.

So “tumult” for Ergodan and his cronies may be good news for us, for Americans, for Israelis, and perhaps even for Christians.

My best Turkish news this week came from friends who spoke of church planting among Turkish immigrants in Germany and who told me that even in Turkey itself, there are green shoots springing up, budding church communities. This in a land where one hundred years ago this year, millions of Christian Armenians were killed. “Who remembers the Armenians?” said Adolf Hitler as he planned his Holocaust of the Jews.

We can answer him: We do! And it is for the sake of the people of that troubled region that we demand religious freedom. It is because too many there murder their neighbors who worship differently that they have seen a century of tumult.

America has a lesson to teach the world. When George Washington greeted the Hebrew Congregation at Newport in 1790, he quoted Scripture to them: “Let each sit under his own vine and fig tree and let there be none to make him afraid.” That has too rarely been true in the Mideast. And, today, it is a heritage increasingly at risk here at home.

In demanding religious freedom for the people of Turkey, we assert a fundamental human right. And we strengthen our own resolve as Americans. 

Decline in Abortions

by Arina Grossu

June 11, 2015

The Associated Press reported this week that abortions have decreased nationally by 12 percent since 2010.  This is an encouraging sign showing that hearts and minds are changing on the issue of abortion.  Where’s the momentum coming from?

First, as technological improvements, such as 4D ultrasounds, continue to show the humanity of the unborn child, more mothers reject abortion. In a survey conducted by the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), found that 78 percent of mothers considering abortion who viewed an ultrasound image of their unborn child chose life. 

Second, science also confirms that unborn children feel pain by 20 weeks post-fertilization.  The pro-life movement is the one that is rooted in science and medical facts. As more people learn about the actual development of the unborn baby, it becomes that much more difficult to deny her humanity.  In fact, the House passed and the U.S. Senate tomorrow is introducing a bill to protect unborn pain-capable babies from abortion.

Third, states have enacted more laws in the past four years than in the entire decade previous. These laws save lives.  Surprisingly, abortions are down even in liberal states like New York, Washington and Oregon, which maintained unrestricted access to abortion, the AP reports.

Dr. Michael New expresses some caveats to the good news.  He notes that the survey should have focused on abortion rates instead of abortion numbers and that abortion data from state health departments can be unreliable because of less rigorous reporting standards. Even so, he says that a smaller percentage of women with unintended pregnancies are having abortions. Pulling from Guttmacher Institute data, he explains that the percentage of unintended pregnancies ending in abortion fell from 54 percent in 1994 to 40 percent in 2008.  He also reminds us that since 1990 when abortions in the U.S. peaked, they have declined by approximately 34 percent since then.

There’s good reason for hope in the pro-life movement as technology and science continue show us the humanity of the unborn. As more states enact pro-life legislation and as public opinion continues to shift on the side of life, the momentum is likely to continue.  Let’s be encouraged as we continue to work to dismantle legalized abortion in the U.S. and relegate it to a dark chapter of our history.  Our future rests in the protection of the lives of our unborn brothers and sisters in the womb.  

Common Sense versus Common Core

by Robert Morrison

June 9, 2015

Bill Gates is the well-respected genius behind Microsoft. But he didn’t do everything right. He recently told a computer journal that he had made a mistake in developing the Crtl-Alt-Delete series of keystrokes for his program. Now, the achievements that have made Bill Gates one of the world’s wealthiest men are not negated by this single and candid admission of error. But one has to wonder: When will Bill Gates acknowledge that his support for (and lavish spending on) Common Core has also been a mistake?

Many of us who oppose Common Core are confronted with a list of good things that are said to be a part of Common Core. Yes. Sure. We do have alphabet instruction as part of Common Core and it does go from A to Z. No argument there.

But opponents of Common Core can rebound and ask their own questions. If, as you say, friendly advocate, Common Core is so good, is there a single school district in the country that does not have access to computers and the World Wide Web? If Massachusetts or Iowa have really good state standards, what is to stop any school district from accessing these good standards online? Then, they could adopt, adapt, and implement those parts that are really helpful and eschew the parts that aren’t.

Why is it necessary to prod, prompt, and press the states into compliance? Why is it necessary to force state and local education authorities to shackle themselves with the Common Core curriculum?

With many leading American executives, Mr. Gates wants a workforce primed for the challenges of the 21st century.  However, a top-down program that intrudes upon local and state educational systems is neither wise nor effective.  Unless, of course, the real motive is Control. Well, then we need an Alt (ernative) to Common Core. 

And we should Del(ete) anything that threatens freedom, undermines local authority, and denies parents’ choice.

Adoption May Not Always Be Perfect, but It Saves a Life

by Chris Gacek

June 9, 2015

The actress, Kate Mulgrew, has had a long career extending back to the mid-1970s when she had her first major role on an ABC daytime drama called “Ryan’s Hope.” Mulgrew’s New York Catholic family in “Ryan’s Hope” resembled her own Irish Catholic family with nine children from Dubuque, Iowa. Portraying “Mary Ryan” must have been charted ground for her, but she took a few detours with great consequences. Mulgrew discusses her life in an autobiography, Born with Teeth, that was published this past April.

Relevant for our purposes is her story relating to adoption. Mulgrew moved to New York to study acting when she was just eighteen, and landed her “Ryan’s Hope” role several years later. She was an immediate sensation, but as her career took off she entered into a sexual relationship with a member of the television production staff and became pregnant. They were both very young. Mulgrew didn’t feel that she could raise a child, but she rejected abortion. Instead, Mulgrew let another family adopt her daughter. Mulgrew was allowed only a brief view of her baby, but that never stopped her from thinking about the daughter from whom she had been separated. It turns out they were both searching for each other.

This CBS Sunday Morning interview sheds light on how the reunion came about over twenty years later in 2001. You meet her daughter and see that they do love each other. One gets a palpable sense of the pain Mulgrew and her daughter experienced. There is heartache and regret, but I also thought that Kate Mulgrew needs to give herself a break. After making that initial mistake, she didn’t make the greater one. And, the mistake she did not make has given her a daughter she loves so intensely. A daughter who loves her in return.

Perhaps, it is too much to wish for, but I hope Kate Mulgrew someday could meet Ryan and Bethany Bomberger who run the Radiance Foundation, a pro-adoption organization. Ryan was conceived in a rape but has lived a wonderful life though through his adoption. Here is the Radiance Foundation’s beautiful statement about their campaign, Adopted and Loved:

PLEASE VISIT OUR ADOPTION AWARENESS INITIATIVE: AdoptedandLoved.com. Millions have experienced the beauty of adoption over this past century. Yet very few people understand the reality of how adoption UNLEASHES the Possibility of not just the child, but the family and the community…and sometimes, the world. Sacrifice is at the heart of adoption, and the reward is great. This presentation illuminates adoption, dispels myths, shares moving personal stories, and provides potential adoptive parents tools and online resources to discover how adoption can change lives.

Adoption is a love story, but not always an easy one. Kate Mulgrew, thank you for doing the good thing and the loving thing when the chips were down.

Hollywood and the Truth: Ships that Pass in the Night?

by Robert Morrison

June 5, 2015

I was swimming in a very grand swimming pool in 2008. It was the only 5-star hotel we’d ever been to, but it was our thirtieth wedding anniversary so we splurged a little. Actually, saving up for five years, we splurged a lot.

Suddenly, I was overcome with a strange feeling: I have been here before. Swimming alone is never a good idea. I shuddered with a powerful sensation of being haunted. We were staying at Dromoland Castle in Ireland. I’d never set foot in Ireland before that tour. “This was crazy,” I told myself as I quickly got out of the pool. I had the strongest feeling of déjà vu.

Out on deck, I chanced to see a life ring on the wall: RMS Titanic. Now, that is even weirder.

Suddenly, I got it. The makeover of this ancient castle had been done at the same time as the blockbuster Hollywood movie, Titanic (1997). And that movie was famous for computer-generated images (CGI) that faithfully reproduced the luxurious interiors of the doomed ocean liner.

So that’s why this swimming pool looked so familiar. I had seen the movie and perused dozens of coffee table books on the Titanic story. The pool was modeled on that elegant 1912 shipboard pool. Not to leave weird world too soon: Who would think it was a good idea to decorate a swimming pool to look exactly like the one where all the swimmers wound up dead?

The Titanic movie was really awful. It incorrectly depicted rich and powerful men on that doomed ship pushing aside the poor immigrant women and children to get into the lifeboats. Untrue.

The movie despicably maligned First Officer William Murdoch. Since you cannot be sued for libeling the dead, producers doubtlessly figured they could get away with sliming a good man’s reputation.

But they forgot: There are thousands of us who devour all the details of that “Night to Remember.” We would yell if Hollywood deliberately falsified history. And some of us did yell. Here’s how a truthful account has it:

Indeed, so offensive was the [movie’s] portrayal of First Officer William Murdoch to his surviving family, that the Vice President of Fox personally made the journey to Murdoch’s hometown to apologise and donate £5,000 to the William Murdoch memorial prize hosted at Murdoch’s local school.

As well as suffering from general ineptitude by dint of being English and indeed, the officer who failed to avoid the iceberg, Murdoch is also presented as a corrupt murderer and then a coward. After accepting a bribe to let a man onto one of the lifeboats he then shoots two passengers dead, before, overwhelmed with guilt and/or despair he shoots himself in the head. This is a far cry from the man who went down with the ship, his last moments spent filling the lifeboats with women, children and indeed men

Why does Hollywood feel the need to lie? They willfully falsify true history that is readily accessible to anyone with a computer.

Perhaps we should be grateful that Hollywood did not include the story of Arthur Rostron in that already-too-long big screen epic. Captain Arthur Rostron commanded the rescue vessel, SS Carpathia. This humble Cunard liner was anything but as romantic as that last voyage of hundreds of millionaires on board the White Star Line’s four-stacker Titanic.

Carpathia was a simple workhorse of a ship, quietly steaming back and forth across the Atlantic with manifests of immigrants, plain people, and cargo.

When he got a radio message that Titanic had struck an iceberg and was sinking, Captain Rostron knew what to do. He knew that the great liner was four hours away at normal cruising speed. By that time, he also knew, any survivors were likely to be dead in the bitter cold of that clear, moonless night.

So Captain Rostron ordered his ship’s stokers mustered out of their racks and put them to work shoveling as much coal as the furnaces would take. He ordered his deck crew to swing out Carpathia’s lifeboats. Stewards and nurses were ordered to make plenty of coffee and tea and to collect as many blankets as possible.

As he headed his ship at flank speed into that black night, he knew she was headed into those same treacherous waters that had claimed great Titanic’s life. Captain Rostron then went out onto the bridge wing and — freezing though it was — he prayed. Perhaps this is why Hollywood omitted Captain Rostron’s role on that fateful night.

Happily, the British people and their American cousins did not fail to honor this heroic rescuer. He was made a Knight Commander of the British Empire — Sir Arthur Rostron. He was honored by Congress. And U.S. First Lady Helen Taft began the effort for a memorial to the men of the Titanic.

Hollywood may be headed for its own iceberg. Whenever we see violence erupt on our city streets, we might look to the violence glorified in Hollywood films called “splatterfests.” These are targeted at that profitable youth demographic.

How many Hollywood movies tell the amazing story of Pregnancy Care Centers? There are more of these than of Planned Barrenhood’s (Parenthood) killing centers.

How many movies have they made about Evangelist Billy Graham? Did you see Unbroken?  How did Hollywood manage to miss a pivotal event in hero Louie Zamperini’s life — his coming to faith in Jesus Christ?

So perhaps OK that Hollywood didn’t care about the man who saved 706 souls that night in 1912. Sir Arthur has a better recognition. He modestly said his mission of mercy was “guided by a Greater hand.”

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