Month Archives: June 2017

FRC’s Updated Hostility Report Shows Religious Organizations on the Front Lines of the Fight for Religious Freedom

by Chris Baldacci

June 30, 2017

At most metro stops in D.C., workers give out free copies of the Washington Post Express to commuters. The week before Family Research Council published its updated report “Hostility to Religion: The Growing Threat to Religious Liberty in the United States,” the front of the Express was covered by a full-page advertisement sponsored by Catholics for Choice. It pictured a caricature of a bishop, pointing at the reader like Uncle Sam, with the caption, “We want YOU to help us discriminate.” On the inside flap, the ad chastised Catholic schools, hospitals, and charities that decline to offer birth control, abortions, or facilitate same-sex marriage, claiming that this is intolerable discrimination. These are not new allegations. Catholics for Choice ran a similar ad last year, and the ACLU hosts an “Issues” page that outlines their mission to fight organizations that use “religion to discriminate.”

The ability of organizations to operate according to their beliefs is an increasingly significant battleground in the fight for religious liberty. Bolstered by the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges and increased support for sexual autonomy among the public, liberal organizations are no longer content to see the government affirm the LGBT rights movement—religious groups must acquiesce as well.

FRC’s updated report highlights a few poignant examples of this opposition to the freedom of religious organizations:

  • In the last decade, Catholic Charities has lost millions in government contracts and sometimes shut down entire branches rather than act in violation of Catholic teachings about abortion or marriage.
  • A group of Christian colleges had to seek an administrative exemption in 2014 from an Obama administration regulation that would have barred them from requiring teachers to follow biblical teachings on sexuality. The schools faced protests and were lambasted in the media for their petition.
  • In 2015, a Catholic school was sued and settled out of court with a fired teacher that identified as homosexual. It was allegedly illegal for the school to require instructors to follow Church teachings concerning homosexuality.
  • Two separate religious hospitals were sued in 2017 and criticized for not offering gender reassignment surgery to patients who identified as transgender.

Beyond the pragmatic harm that lawsuits and boycotts inflict on organizations, these mounting attacks threaten the very heart of what it means to be a religious group. Religious convictions are the impetus for religious organizations. For example, belief in justice and mercy motivates charities and hospitals, belief in specific ethical and philosophical principles motivates religious schools, and religious nonprofits often advance a targeted worldview. For these institutions to abandon their principles would be to sacrifice the integrity of their mission. Yet the radical left has used its political and legal power to require them to do just that.

The aforementioned stories highlight the stunning hypocrisy of progressive activists’ attacks on religious freedom: amidst their cries for tolerance, they refuse to tolerate beliefs that they disagree with. They demand that religious institutions check their beliefs at the door and act according to the majority sentiment rather than the dictates of their faith. Moreover, it is the opponents of religious liberty who are “forcing their beliefs on others” by demanding that organizations comply with the progressive left’s beliefs that abortion is not murder, same-sex marriages can be sacrosanct, and those who identify as transgender should be fully affirmed in their chosen identity.

Our laws must safeguard the right of religious organizations to act on their beliefs. The free exercise of religion, as guaranteed by the First Amendment, does not simply protect the right to think or believe whatever we want (no one is going after our thoughts – yet). The First Amendment is special because it protects the right to act according to our beliefs, hence the term “exercise.” Thankfully, the Supreme Court has affirmed this principle in recent cases like Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which ruled that family businesses can opt-out of covering abortion-causing drugs and services if doing so violates their sincere religious convictions. Such decisions must become the norm to protect not only religious business owners, but religious organizations and religious liberty itself. Without the freedom to believe and act according to those beliefs, the freedom of religion is irreparably devalued.

To read more of the updated FRC report “Hostility to Religion: The Growing Threat to Religious Liberty in the United States,” please visit: http://www.frc.org/hostilityreport

School Board Rigs System for Transgender Win

by Cathy Ruse

June 30, 2017

The Chairman of the Prince William County School Board didn’t want to leave anything to chance last week when he pushed for the passage of transgender norms in public schools.

Apparently, he stacked the deck before the vote, front-loading citizen speakers in favor of his position, and relegating those opposed to the end of the line, after the vote. 

The transgender policy passed 5-3.

Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13) obtained text messages (below) from Prince William School Board Chair Ryan Sawyers via FOIA request showing that Sawyers hand-picked speakers who favored imposing a new transgender policy in Prince William Schools to speak prior to the School Board vote on that issue at their June 21st meeting.

A Legislative Services attorney advised Marshall that the Prince William School Board’s own regulations (133-1) in sections B and E, provide that persons are to speak in the order in which they have put in their requests to speak. 

Not only did Chairman Sawyers fail to follow the rules, he trampled on the First Amendment rights of Prince William county residents according to attorney Caleb Dalton.

If the transgender agenda is so appealing, why do you need to rig a meeting to get it passed?

Taxpayers and parents in Prince William County deserve better than this.

When Campuses Become Battlefields: Protecting Free Speech in a Hostile Environment

by Ian Frith

June 29, 2017

College campuses have become increasingly hostile grounds for political discourse. Citing safety concerns, student groups all over the country have seen their events cancelled by university administrators worried about violence on college campuses. Speakers who have managed to appear on campuses have found themselves harassed by student protestors, and have even faced violence by opposition groups. Take for example, Charles Murray’s attempt to speak at Middlebury College in Vermont. Not only was Murray shouted down with profanity by an enraged progressive student body, but Middlebury Professor Allison Stanger was physically assaulted for accompanying Murray on campus.

This disturbing trend has drawn national attention, and prompted a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. On Tuesday, June 20th, the committee met to discuss the volatile environment on college campuses in relation to the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. The committee heard from seven witnesses including two students who alleged free speech violations on their campuses, several college professors and administrators who have dealt with controversial events on their campuses, and two lawyers associated with First Amendment and hate speech issues. One of these lawyers was Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Cohen has been criticized for SPLC’s labeling of their political opponents as “hate groups,” a designation various progressive groups on college campuses have exploited to justify threatening the free speech of conservatives.

Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) opened the hearing by citing several particularly grievous violations of freedom of speech, including students who were arrested at Kellogg College for distributing the Constitution outside of the designated “free speech zone.” These outrageous actions were condemned by both Republican and Democratic senators alike. The First Amendment does not exist merely to defend opinions that everyone agrees with, it also protects those opinions which are controversial or offensive. Unfortunately, many on the Left only associate hate speech with conservative groups, and ignore hate speech by progressives. Senator Ted Cruz had it right when he said, “truth is far more powerful than force… if your ideas are right there is no need to muzzle the opposition.” College campuses ought to protect speech, because in doing so they’ll help further thoughtful debate.

A highlight of the hearing was the testimony of Zachary Wood, a student at Williams College and president of the organization Uncomfortable Learning. Although he identifies himself as a progressive liberal, Mr. Wood deliberately sought out conservative speakers to invite them to speak because he wanted to start a dialogue on campus. Wood eloquently defended campus free speech when he said “humanity is not limited to the views and values we admire, it also encompasses the views and values that we resist.” One controversial speaker invited by Wood was conservative commentator John Derbyshire. Predictably, the invitation caused a severe backlash and resulted in the president of the university unilaterally cancelling Derbyshire’s speech. The administration then immediately imposed new regulations for students who wished to invite speakers to campus.                                                                     

Several of the school administrators testified that they have had to deal with violent opposition groups on their campus. UCLA Professor Eugene Volokh stated that groups who are trying to force a “heckler’s veto” must be strongly reprimanded. “Behavior that is rewarded is repeated… these thugs have to learn that their behavior is not acceptable.” While college administrators appearing before the committee were generally in favor of protected free speech, some did acknowledge that there are challenges in striking a balance between campus safety and free speech. Dr. Fanta Aw of American University stated that “freedom of expression is integral to the mission of higher education, however protecting it has become increasingly difficult due to our national climate, as well as changing views by younger students regarding the First Amendment.” With an increasingly polarized political climate, this issue isn’t going away anytime soon. It is essential that these universities and administrators continue protect speech on their campuses.

Not all the senators were as adamant about the defense of free speech. Citing a lack of resources on the part of the Berkeley police department, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) redirected the conversation towards the nature of the violent protestors involved, and away from First Amendment issues. Senator Feinstein’s attempt to pit public safety against free speech are misguided at best, and deceptive at worst. While it is important that college campuses remain safe environments for learning, safety must not be bought at the price of silencing minority views on campus.  Richard Cohen of the SPLC went one step further, blaming much of the atmosphere on college campuses on the national climate post-election, and specifically the actions of the “alt-right” and white nationalism. He also defended an SPLC publication entitled The Battle for Berkeley, which claimed that “in the name of free speech, the alt-right is assaulting the ivory tower.” Attacks on free speech should not be partisan, but Cohen ignored many groups on the Left who have also been responsible for inciting violence both on college campuses and elsewhere. In fact, SPLC’s labeling of conservative organizations as “hate groups” has been connected to violence against conservative groups, including the 2012 FRC shooting by Floyd Lee Corkins II (who cited SPLC’s designation of Family Research Council as a “hate group”), and the most recent shooting in Alexandria involving GOP Majority Whip Steve Scalise.                       

Near the conclusion of the hearing, Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) condemned the President of Williams’ College Adam Falk. Senator Kennedy admonished Falk for treating progressive liberal campus groups and speakers differently than conservative groups and speakers, and called that sort of favoritism “intellectually dishonest.” Mr. Fredrick Lawrence also defended the role of universities hosting controversial speakers saying “[There should always] be a strong presumption in favor of the speech.” He emphasized that limits should be established only based on the intent of the speaker, never the substance or the content. This is an excellent standard that is well established in public policy.   

Despite differing priorities regarding the protection of free speech on college campuses, it was encouraging to see a measure of bipartisanship in support of free speech at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. As a millennial college student, I am glad that there is a concerted effort in Congress to protect my right to free speech. While I was disappointed in the attempts of Senator Feinstein and Richard Cohen to shift blame, I am confident free speech on college campuses proved more persuasive. The right of free speech is a cornerstone in our society, and it must be protected if we are to continue to have meaningful discussion about other policy issues.

Taxpayer-Funded Transgender Tutorial for Schoolchildren Tanked

by Cathy Ruse

June 29, 2017

The Fairfax County School System will not get to have a taxpayer-funded transgender “panel discussion” after all.

Last week, Fairfax County Schools announced the “Coming Out and Coming Around” event to be held in July: “Join us for an LGBTQ panel discussion.  Parents, counselors and LGBTQ adolescents will share experiences and answer your questions. Browse LGBTQ resources in the Parent Resource Center library.”

This did not sit well with Fairfax County property owners, who send most of their property taxes every year to the Fairfax County School Board. Aren’t “panel discussions” supposed to be fair and balanced, especially if they are funded by taxpayers with a broad range of views?

Fairfax families pushed back, and the bureaucrats buckled.

One savvy mom called and peppered a counselor with questions:

Are you representing both sides on this panel? “We have no sides.”

Oh really, well, will there be anyone on the panel discussing negative consequences to children from transitioning? Or that it might not be in the best interest for a child to transition?  In so many words, “No.”

Anybody on the panel that does not advocate children transitioning? In so many words, “No.”

Since this is an academic setting, have you considered including diversity of thought on this? Diverse perspectives from medicine, science? Ever heard of Dr. Paul McHugh? No. No. And No.

This tax-funded “panel” has been officially “postponed” until the fall.

It’s a small victory in the fight against political indoctrination of public school children.

5th Circuit Rejects Effort to Take Down Conscience Protections

by Travis Weber

June 22, 2017

Today, in a unanimous opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rejected an activist effort to take down HB 1523, Mississippi’s conscience protection law. HB 1523 provides exemptions for those who conscientiously object to being forced to facilitate same-sex marriages and other matters related to human sexuality, and allows them to opt out of the process while providing for other government workers or entities to step in and fill the gap.

Despite the fact that it is nothing more than a reasonable accommodation paradigm, the law was violently attacked with allegations that it was standing in the way of LGBT people, and a lawsuit was launched on the theory that it “established” a religion in violation of the First Amendment and violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

But in order to sue—under a doctrine known as “standing”—a plaintiff needs an injury, and all that was alleged in this case was that the plaintiffs were “stigmatized” and felt bad because of the law. Courts have been facing this type of tenuous, emotionally-based allegation of injury more and more in recent years, and they only bog down the judicial system with claims that were never meant to be brought in the first place. In addition, when such claims are allowed to proceed, and a law is struck down, the effect is that one more area of our democratic process is chiseled off and placed into the hands of activists who would happily destroy the process if that meant they could achieve their aims.

It is thus nice to see the Fifth Circuit properly scrutinize standing in this case, and hold that the plaintiffs here have no actual injury on which any lawsuit could be based. To bring suit, a plaintiff needs a “concrete” and “particularized” injury, and even in Establishment Clause religious display cases where standing rules are more liberal, a plaintiff still needs to have a “personal confrontation” with any allegedly offensive display. Yet as the court pointed out, “[j]ust as an individual cannot ‘personally confront’ a warehoused monument, he cannot confront statutory text.”

The Court also rejected the idea that “offense at the message Section 2 [of HB 1523]” could convey standing, noting that any “purported stigmatic injury” is insufficient. Likewise, there is no standing for any equal protection claim because “exposure to a discriminatory message, without a corresponding denial of equal treatment, is insufficient to plead injury in an equal protection case.”

All too often, activists without a mandate to achieve change through the democratic means set forth by our constitutional order will try to find some court through which to push their grievances against a law or policy. However, as is the case here, such “injuries” often constitute nothing more than general disagreement with the law and are subjective, lacking any actual harm. The unfortunate effect is that these activists’ methods chip away at and weaken our entire judicial system.

It is thus heartening to see this ruling, which not only leaves in place HB 1523’s religious exemptions which are quite necessary in a post-Obergefell world, but also strengthens the constitutional order by holding in check those who try to wield power through the courts simply because they can’t achieve their goals through democratic means.

10 Things Every New Father Should Know

by Daniel Hart

June 16, 2017

On Christmas Eve of last year, my son was born. As someone who is slow to react to big, life-changing events, the birth of my son left me mostly stunned and awestruck. For weeks afterward (more like months, if I’m honest), I would often have to remind myself that this tiny new human being was actually my son. Even though I had accompanied my amazing wife through the entire journey of our baby’s birth, it sometimes felt like he had suddenly appeared in our home out of the blue, as if a stork had flown into our backyard one day, deposited him in the grass, and flew away with a smirk.

There were times when I felt a bit intimidated by him. That may sound odd to be scared of a newborn, but occasionally it seemed as if he stared right through me, deeming me an unworthy father. This made me worry that he might not like me, that he might not smile or giggle at my attempts to entertain him, that he might cry at my attempts to soothe him, that he might wriggle away from my touch.

Well, guess what? My worries have proven to be unfounded. In honor of Father’s Day this Sunday, I present the top 10 things I’ve learned about fatherhood since the birth of my firstborn son six months ago.

1. Fatherhood begins before the child is born.

Even when your baby is still in utero, he can still hear and feel your presence as a father. The amazing extent to which unborn babies are able to do this is continuing to be discovered by science. Just as he knows his mother’s voice and can recognize other sounds that he hears repeatedly, so too will he recognize his father’s voice if it is a consistent vocal presence. Praying with, talking, reading, and singing to your unborn child is not only a great way for fathers to feel more involved in their wives’ pregnancies, but this will also help the father bond with and grow in affection for his offspring as he feels the baby kick and squirm in response. I’ll never forget the time that I played a song on guitar and sang directly into my wife’s belly—my unborn son began kicking non-stop with such energy that my wife and I could only gape at each other in amazement.

The more that fathers feel the kicks and the hiccups, the more affection they will begin to feel for their child. There will also be plenty of opportunities to attend periodic ultrasound checkups—be sure to attend as many as possible, as there’s nothing quite like seeing the amazing silhouette and unique movements of your child to begin the bonding process.

2. Feeling a bit distant from your newborn is normal.

It’s no secret that the bond between a mother and her newborn is incomparably powerful. The fact that the mother physically gestated her child for nine months and is her baby’s only source of food makes the relationship beautifully symbiotic. The reality for a new father is that for nine months, he has literally been at a physical distance, and for the first few months after birth, he most likely won’t be able to hold the child as much as his wife because of nursing demands.

So if new fathers find themselves feeling a lack of intimacy with their newborns as a result, it’s important to remember that this is perfectly normal and okay. Just like with any relationship, the love fathers have for their children will deepen as they get to know them better.

This will play out in practical ways. In time, I learned that my son prefers to be bounced to sleep instead of rocked or swayed. He is absolutely transfixed and delighted by the sight of my wife and I washing dishes and eating. He loves to stand (with our support) in high positions and turn his head from side to side to observe all that is below him. He loves to rub my beard as I carry him around, even as he is falling asleep in my arms. He prefers to ride (and sleep) in the bumpy cheap stroller that is falling apart rather than the nice jogging stroller. As fathers learn the unique quirks and mannerisms that every child develops, his love will in turn grow and deepen inextricably. 

3. Blaze your own trail to get to know your child.

Every child is unique, and in the same way, there is no one right way to dive in to fatherhood. The important thing is to just dive in. Be okay with your child screaming in your arms, because that’s how you learn to soothe him. Be okay with your baby peeing on you as you attempt to change his diaper, because that’s how you learn the best changing procedure.

Let your own creativity be your guide. Make up a special song for your baby that he will get used to so you can lull him to sleep with it and sing it while you horse around with him during play time. Don’t be afraid to be goofy, dorky, and cheesy with your kid. The ability to be a goof with your child in front of anyone is a great sign that you are getting comfortable in your own skin as a dad. It will also give you bonus points with your wife when you can give her a break by rocking your child to sleep yourself or successfully keep your child calm in the baby carrier.

4. Lean in to the suffering.

Yes, there will be times as a new father when you will feel miserable, tired, frustrated, maybe a bit angry, or experience other unpleasant feelings. It will be when your back is aching from a solid 35 straight minutes of trying to get your baby to sleep, or from changing a diaper at 4 a.m., followed by an hour of inconsolability, knowing that you have to get up for work in an hour.

Instead of just stomaching these hardships until they’re over, lean in to these moments when you know you are suffering, and turn it into a prayer offering and sacrifice. Empathize with your baby’s screams instead of letting your frustration level rise, and offer up a word of praise and pleading to the Lord. Babies have an uncanny ability to sense when you are getting stressed, and their stress level will usually rise in conjunction with yours. Your calmness and humble acceptance of the situation will generally pay off. If it doesn’t, and your wife has to save the day, it’s important not to feel discouraged because you know you gave it your best.

5. The more you give, the more you will receive.

The nature of fatherhood is to sacrifice one’s self for one’s child. This may make fatherhood sound like a dreary slog, but my experience has been very much the opposite. Giving of yourself can take a multitude of forms, both large and small.

One (seemingly) small way that fathers give is simply by interacting with their babies as much as possible. Make eye contact and be as facially expressive as you can be—your child will imitate you and respond accordingly. Just as your baby has a symbiotic relationship with its mother through nursing, you as a father can have a symbiotic relationship with your child through interaction. Since your baby has its own unique personality and you have yours, the interaction you receive from your child will literally change your brain chemistry, and vice versa. This mutual gift of self is a beautiful image of the Holy Trinity—the Father gives all that He is and has to the Son, who gives Himself back completely to the Father, resulting in the fruit and bond of their shared love—the Holy Spirt.

6. Kiss your wife in front of your baby.

Don’t be shy about showing physical affection in front of your wide-eyed baby. Children thrive on seeing a physical reminder of the union of their parents and the love they share. This display of unity can take many other forms besides showing PDA. Sharing meals together as a family, with your baby seated between you and your wife or in one of your laps, is another great way to show your child that you cherish your family unit. When a child sees the physical union present between his parents, he will feel whole and secure, because he is the physical incarnation of the union of you and your wife.

7. Your role in your child’s sense of self is vital.

As we’ve discussed, the first month or two of a baby’s life is mostly characterized by the intense bond that the mother and child share through the symbiosis of gestation and nursing. It goes without saying that this is vital to the health and well-being of mother and child, but equally vital is the father’s role in helping to nurture the baby’s independence apart from the mother. When you physically separate your baby from your wife by taking him outside the house for a walk, engaging in rough & tumble play in a separate room, coaxing him to say “dada,” giving him his first bits of grilled hamburger, or presenting him to family, friends, and your church community, you are helping your baby become a distinct entity apart from mom, which aids in the development of his own unique identity and sense of self.

8. Don’t sweat it when you fail.

There will be times when you will feel like a failure as a new father. For me, I have felt most like a failure (and still do) when I spend what feels like hours trying to coax my son to sleep, but to no avail. After a dozen different methods of cradling, patting, singing, bouncing, rocking, murmuring, and massaging have failed, unexpectedly strong feelings of anger and frustration will sometimes bubble up inside me, and after my wife takes over and I walk out of the bedroom still smarting from such a chastening experience, I sometimes fume inwardly that my own child, bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh, was not comforted by his father’s best efforts. These are the times when it’s important to remember that babies are constantly growing and changing from one day to the next. The rough patches that every baby goes through are just stages in an amazingly fast developmental process. So don’t sweat it, and be patient—your baby will soon outgrow whatever exasperating behavior you failed to overcome.

9. You image God the Father to your child.

I say this at the risk of sounding overly dramatic, but it’s true. As touched on previously, fathers have in their nature a unique way of introducing their child to the wider world beyond the home, while at the same time showing the child unconditional love. A child needs to have total and complete trust in his father and feel absolutely secure, just as we are all called to trust completely in Abba (“daddy”), our Heavenly Father. Fathers carry their babies to new environments and introduce, teach, and show their babies new sights, sounds, and smells in the backyard or in the neighborhood, just as God the Father did with Adam in the Garden of Eden. They help their babies develop new motor skills and strengthen their muscles by flying them through the air and letting them stand on their own two legs for as long as possible, just as God the Father challenges us to spiritually grow and mature.

Parents are the images of God to their children. The baby’s first experience of God is through the love shown to him by his parents. Therefore, God the Father is revealed to a child through their father in a way that is totally distinct and unique from their mother.

10. Take this advice with a grain of salt.

As you will find out, when it comes to parenthood, everyone on God’s green earth has an opinion about how to do it best, this blog post notwithstanding. It can all be a bit overwhelming. So, with that said, take my words of wisdom one last time: when there’s an opportunity for a nap, take it, and when there’s an opportunity for a beer, drink it. Happy Father’s Day!

Social Conservative Review - June 15, 2017

by Daniel Hart

June 15, 2017

Dear Friends,

In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus says, “You have heard it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.”

This passage in Scripture comes to mind in reflecting on the tragic incident that occurred yesterday in Alexandria, Va., in which a murderous gunman attempted to kill members of Congress and their aides on a baseball field, wounding five. It’s important to ponder and take heed of this vital teaching of Christ in the volatile times in which we live.

Christ is teaching us that when we harbor malicious thoughts about other people in our hearts, they can easily fester into physical action, like angry outbursts and violence. This is why Jesus says that we must go well beyond the avoidance of outright killing. We have to get at the root of the problem, which starts in our hearts. We must root out every thought and attitude that causes us to hate others. (In these polarized times, we must insist on the true definition of “hate,” which is “intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury.” Therefore, disagreeing with certain lifestyles and public policies is, by definition, not “hate.”)

This is an important lesson for all of us who are involved in public policy and government. When it comes to politics, most of us have passionate viewpoints, which lead to passionate disagreements, which is very fitting in a free democracy such as ours that requires open and free debate in order to function. However, we must never let our passionate viewpoints turn into anger, as Christ said. As we have witnessed time and time again in our country, anger can lead to vindictiveness towards others, which can lead to violence and murder. Christ has perfect understanding of this dangerous fallibility that is present in every human heart, and therefore warns against it in the strongest terms.

May all of our most passionate views always be rooted in love for our fellow man, never anger. Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.

Sincerely,

Dan Hart
Managing Editor for Publications
Family Research Council

 

FRC Articles

The Bigotry of Bernie Sanders – Travis Weber

Trump’s Rule on the HHS Contraceptive Mandate Ensures Religious Freedom for All – Travis Weber

Sanders’ Religious Test Goes Against Founders’ VisionTony Perkins

Bern Victim: Christians Need Not ApplyPatrina Mosley

This Pill Could Reverse a Third of AbortionsArina Grossu

President Trump Names Abstinence Education Leader to Top Post at HHS DepartmentTony Perkins

Community Health Care Centers Offer Full Spectrum of Primary Care, Unlike Planned Parenthood – FRC

An Open Letter to Bernie Sanders from a Vermont Pastor – Tim Counts

FRC Summer Reading List – Dan Hart

Testimony in Opposition to H. 1190 and S. 62 – Peter Sprigg

We’re Better Together – Dan Hart

Standing for Christ – Travis Weber

Even Liberal Feminists Can’t Resist Committed Love and Marriage – Chris Gacek

Giving to Caesar and to God – Peter Sprigg

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

Bernie Sanders’s Religious Test for Christians in Public Office – Emma Green, The Atlantic

Policy at Michigan College Results in Arrests for Handing Out ConstitutionAlliance Defending Freedom

Trump Administration Considering Rule That Would Help Little Sisters of the PoorRachel del Guidice, The Daily Signal

The Campus Speech Police Come to Fresno StateJake Curtis, National Review

Town Stands up to Atheist Bullies, Refuses to Remove CrossToddStarnes.com

Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Think Christians Are Fit For Public OfficeJohn Daniel Davidson, The Federalist

School: Students May Not Pray or Mention JesusToddStarnes.com

This Farmer Won’t Host Same-Sex Weddings at His Orchard. Now a City Has Banned Him From Its Farmers Market.Fred Lucas, The Daily Signal

International Religious Freedom

Petition calls for repeal of ‘totalitarian’ bill allowing children to be taken from Christian homesLianne Laurence, LifeSiteNews

Ireland’s abortion law violates human rights, UN rulesKenza Bryan, Independent

Public board orders Christian school to stop reading ‘offensive’ Bible passages – Dorothy Cummings McLean, LifeSiteNews

Military Religious Freedom

Supreme Court refuses to review case of Christian Marine who claims she was discharged over Bible verseSamuel Smith, The Christian Post

 

Life

Abortion

Daughter’s thank you note to her parents who chose life as teens goes viral – Nancy Flanders, Live Action

More abortions, more money, less real support for womenSamantha Gobba, WORLD

Harvard Law Journal: Unborn Babies are Constitutional PersonsThe Stream

Israel’s modern-day midwives offer solutions, not abortionJay Hobbs, The Stream

Most Pro-Life Laws are Based on Sound ScienceMichael J. New, National Review

Why We Kill Disabled Kids: For the Same Reason Cain Killed AbelJohn Zmirak, The Stream

Delaware legalizes abortion through all nine months – Samantha Gobba, WORLD

Adoption

Christians who reject transgenderism banned from adoption, working with children in IllinoisDoug Mainwaring, LifeSiteNews

Streamlining adoption the goal of bipartisan working group – David Meade, Lexington Herald Leader

Bioethics

Basic bioethics: How Christians should think about bioethicsJoe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Doctor: Insurance companies are denying treatment and pushing assisted suicide on patientsCassy Fiano, Live Action News

Oregon Senate votes to allow dementia patients to be starved to deathClaire Chretien, LifeSiteNews

Canadian nurse forced out for refusing to participate in euthanasia – Pete Baklinski, LifeSiteNews

Obamacare

States scramble to prevent ObamaCare exodusRachel Roubein and Nathaniel Weixel, The Hill

Fate of Planned Parenthood funding tied to Senate moderatesJennifer Haberkorn, Politico

Yes, Obamacare Really Does Disadvantage Disabled Americans – Christopher Jacobs, The Federalist

 

Family

Economics/Education

New Poll Shows What College Students Really Think About Safe Spaces – Katrina Willis, The Daily Signal

What Happens at Home Doesn’t Stay There: It Goes to School – Nicholas Zill, Family Studies

Tax Reform for Working-Class Families – Josh McCabe, National Review

Marriage

Maintaining Your Marriage During the Parenting Years – Arlene Pellicane, Focus on the Family

5 Memorable quotes that taught me how to be a better fatherMichael Rennier, Aleteia

A Vow Worth Keeping: A Review of Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give Alysse ElHage, Family Studies

Millennials Are Looking for Parental Guidance on LoveKat Talalas, Family Studies

What It Feels Like To Be A Man Struggling With InfertilityAaron Gleason, The Federalist

The global culture each child needsPatrick F. Fagan, Mercatornet

Faith/Character/Culture

How Christians Should Engage in CultureRob Schwarzwalder, The Stream

Authentic community: How online substitutes damage our empathyJonathan C. Edwards, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman Manages The Tough Task Of Winsomely Portraying VirtueGracy Olmstead, The Federalist

The Bible Got It Right: Why Going to Church Keeps You Alive LongerLorie Johnson, CBN News

Kathy Griffin and the Vanishing of ArgumentBp. Robert Barron, National Catholic Register

Bernie Sanders and the Danger of Theological Ignorance – Rob Schwarzwalder, The Stream

Human Sexuality

Study: Less sex education leads to less sexKiley Crossland, WORLD

4 biblical truths to help fight sexual temptationCasey B. Hough, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Same-Sex Attraction and Therapy: It’s Time to Let People Choose – Arther Goldberg, Public Discourse

Human Trafficking

Cambodia’s Child Sex Industry Is Dwindling—And They Have Christians to ThankKate Shellnutt In Phnom Penh, Christianity Today

Pornography

How Porn Dehumanizes Women Through Sexual Objectification – Fight the New Drug

Community Health Care Centers Offer Full Spectrum of Primary Care, Unlike Planned Parenthood

by Family Research Council

June 13, 2017

If Planned Parenthood is defunded in the health care bill currently before the Senate, won’t this deprive women of vital health care services?”

FRC has recently received a number of comments along these lines. While admitting that Planned Parenthood “has done some bad things,” some are still concerned that millions of women will be deprived of vital health care if the primary provider of abortions in America loses federal funding.

It is important to know that there are 13,540 federally-qualified, low-cost, high quality health care clinics and rural health centers, which outnumber Planned Parenthood 20 to 1 nationally. (By August 2017, there will be 620 Planned Parenthood facilities, down from 662 in 2015.) 

Women have real choices when it comes to healthcare, and they can find one of these clinics at GetYourCare.org. These federally-qualified health centers not only offer screening and prevention services, pap smears, cancer screenings, breast exams, and prenatal services, but they also offer a full spectrum of other primary care services that Planned Parenthood fails to provide, including:

  • Mammograms
  • A variety of immunizations
  • Diabetes and glaucoma screenings
  • Cholesterol screenings
  • Cardiovascular screening blood tests
  • Thyroid function tests
  • Eye, ear, and dental screenings
  • Preventive dental services
  • Well-child services
  • Medical nutrition services
  • Bone mass measurement
  • Social worker services
  • Mental health services
  • Substance abuse services
  • Emergency medical services
  • And others

Federally-qualified health centers offered services for 21.7 million patients in 2013 compared to Planned Parenthood who served 2.7 million. That’s over eight times as many patients.

In 2014, federally-qualified health centers served approximately 23 million people. With an extra half a billion in taxpayer funds that currently goes to Planned Parenthood, these federally-qualified health centers could grow and expand their reach.

To see the sources for the above information and more, please visit frc.org/plannedparenthoodfacts.

An Open Letter to Bernie Sanders from a Vermont Pastor

by Tim Counts

June 12, 2017

Dear Senator Sanders,

I am a pastor in Manchester Center, Vermont, so I am one of your constituents. And I am concerned. You and I both know that Vermont has added to the rich history of religious freedom in our great country. I live 25 minutes from the Old First Church in Bennington, where the following plaque is placed on the side of the historic church building: “First Church in Vermont dedicated to separation of church and state. Congregation founded by those seeking religious freedom.” As you probably know, First Church was “gathered” on December 3, 1762, the first Protestant congregation in the New Hampshire Grants. They were “separatists,” believing that the government should neither establish nor restrict religious freedom. They were seeking religious freedom, not freedom from religion.

Your actions towards and comments to Russell Vought during his confirmation hearing for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget endanger our rich history of religious freedom as both a state and a country.

Here is why I am concerned, and here is why I write you today: not only because I believe you violated Article VI of the United States Constitution in imposing a religious test as a litmus test for somebody’s fitness to hold a government office, but also because you then released this statement yesterday: “…racism and bigotry—condemning an entire group of people because of their faith—cannot be part of any public policy.”

As I have read your comments towards Mr. Vought and watched the video of your interaction, I am astounded at how quickly you have tied together personal faith that Jesus is the only Savior with an individual’s public policy. As Mr. Vought tried to express but was interrupted, Christians believe that all people are made in the image of God and thus should be treated with dignity and respect, even while we hold to Jesus’ statements such as, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

We do not have to be Universalists theologically to be able to hold public office nor to be good citizens in the Green Mountain State or in the United States of America. I believe that the founders of First Church would have been shocked at your statements, as they were leaving a government that told them what they could and could not believe. We have reverted back to a government that has a religious test, but rather than church membership allowing entrance into government office, it is now philosophical membership in secularism that holds the keys.

I ask you to clarify and clearly articulate whether or not you truly believe that a Christian who believes that Jesus is the only way to salvation can no longer hold public office in this country. Are you saying that citizens who are not atheists, agnostics, or Universalists cannot serve as government officials? As you have been reminded already since Wednesday, Article VI of the U.S. Constitution declares, “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Evangelical Christians who hold to salvation in Christ alone may be a minority in our great state, but we are not racists or bigots, and our elected Senators should not make such broad-brush and intolerant statements.

I will continue to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, which means the “good news” of Jesus Christ. It is a message of reconciliation to God and fellow man. It is good news that we offer to all people who will listen: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) It is a message that says that although our sin condemns us before the holy God, that Jesus took our condemnation on the cross and rose from the dead so that believers in him will never stand condemned (Romans 8:1). And if somebody really believes that message, they will embrace Jesus not only for salvation but also to help them live a life of service and love to others. Jesus himself said that all of the commandments are summed up in love for God and love for others (Matthew 22:36-40).

I will not only continue to preach that message, I will continue to pray that those of us who believe in this good news will be allowed to serve in public office; not promoted because of our faith but also not prohibited from service because of our faith. I am writing to you today not because you are telling me I cannot preach this message, but because you are telling me that those I preach this message to are “hateful” not because of their actions, but because of their faith.

As a Vermont pastor, I ask my country for freedom to not only preach the gospel–but also for freedom for those I preach to–to hold their religious beliefs while also holding public office. If you return to our roots of religious freedom as a state and as a nation, the religious tests will stop. And you may find that those you classify as racists and bigots today not only believe that Jesus is the only way to personal salvation, but also that His way is a way of love that treats all persons with the utmost love, respect, and service–even in public office.

Sincerely,
Tim Counts
A Concerned Pastor in Vermont

***

TAKE ACTIONSign this petition to the U.S. Senate to Reject Senator Bernie Sanders’ demand that Bible-believing Christians be excluded from presidential appointments.

FRC Summer Reading List

by Daniel Hart

June 9, 2017

As the warm light of the sun stretches lazily out over our summer days, infusing the early mornings with dew-bright resplendence and filling evenings with a languid glow, a single giddy thought can’t help but enthuse America: more time for reading outside! Whether you’re stretched out on a beach chair with the ocean wind nipping at the pages of your copy of Ideas Have Consequences, reclining on your deck with an ice-cold shandy in one hand and an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story collection in the other, or simply sprawled on the couch with the summer breeze blowing through your window and your John Adams biography, there’s almost nothing better in life then long summer days and a tall stack of books.

To help get your literary juices flowing for the warmer months, the staff here at FRC has helpfully collaborated on this compilation of great reads. So put your phone somewhere out of sight on silent mode, sit back, relax, and crack open a book (or a Kindle, if you must).

***

Non-Fiction

Biographies

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

This detailed biography of one of America’s foremost Founding Fathers was the inspiration for the hit Broadway musical Hamilton. Author Ron Chernow’s full-length portrait is a deep dive into how Hamilton in many ways shaped early America with his championing of often unpopular political and economic ideas.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

This is a gripping biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor and theologian in the confessing church, which resisted the Nazis. Bonhoeffer also participated in the July 20 plot on Hitler’s life (subject of the movie Valkyrie)—which ultimately cost him his life. While this topic is not as widely explored in the book, it is a thrilling look into a life devoted to God, and the implications of that devotion.

The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams by Philip and Carol Zaleski

This is an in-depth look at the lives of the four primary “Inklings,” the literary circle of Oxford friends who delighted in fantasy, philosophy, and the debates of religion and belief. The Fellowship describes how we came to have the authors of such works as The Lord of the Rings, Mere Christianity, The Chronicles of Narnia, and so much more. The arc of each of their lives allows us a better understanding of their celebrated works.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

A fascinating read detailing the true story of a brilliant neurosurgeon diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. His thoughts and approach to life and death are very thought provoking.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

This wonderfully engaging biography of the brothers who invented flight is thoroughly addicting from the first page onward. The story follows Orville and Wilbur from their beginnings as bicycle shop owners, to the famous test flights at Kitty Hawk, to the amazing flying exhibitions demonstrated before hundreds of thousands of gaping onlookers, to fights over patent rights in their later years. Throughout their lives, the Wright brothers displayed a super-human work ethic and humble tenacity that astounded their contemporaries, proving to be an immense testament to the indomitable power of the human spirit to overcome any adversity.

 

General Interest

The Assault on the Sexes by Jim Fordham

Published in 1977, The Assault on the Sexes is a remarkable book that appeared at the height of the debates over ERA (the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex). With both wry humor and solid research, Jim Fordham (“With his indispensable wife Andrea”) took on the then-nascent feminist movement by not only defending but celebrating the differences between men and women. Although grassroots efforts kept the ERA out of the Constitution, many of its principles have nevertheless been implemented since then through court decisions and legislation. The book’s slippery slope arguments that the ERA would lead to same-sex marriage or unisex bathrooms have indeed come to pass.

The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk

Russell Kirk played a significant role in establishing the intellectual legitimacy of the conservative movement in the 20th century. His book The Conservative Mind fights the public perception that to be liberal is to be academic but to be conservative is “anti-intellectual.” He traces the intellectual history of conservatism from Edmund Burke and the principles of prudence to T.S. Eliot and the importance of faith. The book is both an overview of the movements and individuals that shaped conservative thought as well as a fascinating defense of the conservative belief in a social and political order.

The Drop Box: How 500 Abandoned Babies, an Act of Compassion, and a Movie Changed My Life Forever by Brian Ivie

This book is the inspirational account of a documentary filmmaker who travels to South Korea to film the predicament of orphaned newborns who are left in box and accepted by a pastor. In the process, the author recounts his spiritual journey of redemption.

The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech by Kimberley Strassel

A member of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, Kimberley Strassel provides first-hand accounts of how disclosure and campaign finance laws have been hijacked by the Left as weapons against free speech and free association, becoming powerful tools for those who are intent on silencing their political opposition. Strassel carefully catalogues how government agencies like the IRS, FEC, FCC, and SEC as well as state AGs have knowingly participated in the suppression of First Amendment rights of Americans.

Reclaiming Israel’s History: Roots, Rights, and the Struggle for Peace by David Brog

A subject that is often highly disputed, this extensively researched book catalogues the history of Israel, recounting how the Jewish people have maintained a sustained presence there for over 3,000 years, despite centuries of persecution. It also covers the untold history of Palestine’s involvement in the Holocaust, the Six-Day War, and Israel’s modern military practices.

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer

A comprehensive historical review of how the Nazis came to power in Germany, and what led to their downfall. It is an interesting historical education, and one which reminds us of the evil which can arise when human beings discard any appeal to higher authority.

Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Michael B. Oren

In what has been called a “towering work of history” and an “enthralling human narrative,” this impeccably researched account of the Six-Day War between the Israelis and the Arabs lays the historical groundwork for a conflict that continues to this day.

Virtue and the Promise of Conservatism: The Legacy of Burke and Tocqueville by Bruce Frohnen

In Virtue and the Promise of Conservatism, author Bruce Frohnen makes the case for the essence of virtue as being the foundation of conservatism. He argues that conservatives must return to what truly made conservativism great—a concerted focus on the structures of family, church, and community.

 

Spirituality

Between Heaven and the Real World by Steven Curtis Chapman

Grammy Award-winning Christian musician Steven Curtis Chapman shares the experiences that have shaped him, his faith, and his music in a life that has included unbelievable highs and earth-shattering lows. It includes breathtaking testimony regarding the loss of his young daughter.

Dancing Through Life: Steps of Courage and Conviction by Candace Cameron Bure

Candace Cameron Bure, former child star of the hit 90’s sitcom Full House, shares how as a participant on a reality dance competition she was able to stand with courage and conviction of her faith when all the world was watching!

Faith and Doubt by John Ortberg

Doubt is often thought to be the opposite of faith, but what if doubt could instead make our relationship with God stronger? In this book by best-selling author and pastor John Ortberg, the nature of faith is explored, particularly in the sense of how uncertainty plays a part in it. Being completely honest about doubts in the faith journey can actually lead to a sense of relief. True understanding requires honest questioning, doubting can actually lead to an increase in trust, and authentic faith can lead to profound hope. This book serves as an encouraging reminder that God desires our whole hearts—even our doubts.

Learn to 4 Give by Gil Mertz

In Learn to 4 Give, author Gil Mertz draws from nearly forty years of ministry experience to help you achieve forgiveness in your own life. He offers 4 practical, hands-on, and easy-to-follow steps that will allow you to release your power of forgiveness, resolve the pain of your past, restore peace in your present, and reclaim your purpose for the future. We all know we are supposed to forgive but this book shows you how by presenting forgiveness as a learned skill that anyone can do, if you have the right tools.

The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence

In this reflective devotional book, the 17th Century monk Brother Lawrence offers his thoughts on intimacy with the Lord, and the joy that comes from submission and walking closely with Him.

The Pursuit of God; God’s Pursuit of Man by A.W. Tozer

The author inspires with his reflections of our pursuit of God, and with how God pursues us, in this deep and enriching devotional guide.

 

Fiction

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Anthony Doerr’s highly acclaimed, New York Times bestseller is the story of a blind French girl and a German boy whose worlds collide during the tumultuous period of WWII. Imaginative descriptions of the natural world and the devastation of a world at war are captured in intricate detail as Doerr engulfs you in his “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle). This masterpiece, ten years in the making, will keep you glued to the pages till the very end.

At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald

From the forefather of writers like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien comes the tale of a young boy and his fantastical adventures around the globe with the mysterious and powerful North Wind. George MacDonald crafts a beautiful work of children’s fantasy literature which masterfully explores the purposes of God amidst a world filled with evil and suffering. This book is ideal for individual reading or for reading aloud to the whole family.

Battlefields and Playgrounds by Janos Nyiri

This work of historical fiction explores World War II-era Budapest through the eyes of a Jewish child. Entertaining and at times meandering, it is an interesting education of how the events of World War II impacted Budapest—from German sympathies to Russian conquest. The author, who spent his childhood in Budapest, offers a fascinating perspective on all this and how it intersected with increasing anti-Jewish sentiment throughout Budapest and around Hungary.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

This near-1,000 page novel (with copious endnotes) of a dystopian future state in which “cleanliness” is the government’s main goal, the author explores themes of addiction and what we seek to live for. While not necessarily redemptive, the novel is entertaining, and provokes thought in a number of different areas. It isn’t known if Wallace ever became a Christian before his death, but his yearning for higher purpose and power is evident throughout the novel. Recommended for those seeking entertaining reading and some deeper musings of life.

Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset (Translated by Tiina Nunnally)

This epic historical novel set in 14th century Norway is the engrossing masterwork of Nobel Prize-winning author Sigrid Undset. It spans the full life of Kristin, a stubbornly passionate woman who is the daughter of the successful yet humble farmer Lavrans. In a Catholic culture that is still haunted by elements of paganism, Kristin is relentlessly pursued by the dashing Erlend Nikulausson against her parents’ wishes, raises seven sons with him during their tumultuous marriage, and is eventually estranged from him, but finds redemption as the world around her crumbles.

Light in August by William Faulkner

This classic novel about courage in the face of impermanence features some of Faulkner’s most striking characters: including a naïve yet determined woman who is searching for the father of her unborn child; a preacher who is haunted by memories of the Civil War; and a mysterious drifter obsessed by his mixed heritage.

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

A quirky yet sweet young adult read about Raymie Clarke, a young girl who is dealing with the fact that her father has left her family. The story unfolds as she tries to solve the family crisis and, in the process, makes some unlikely friendships.

Without Warning by Joel C. Rosenberg

Joel Rosenberg’s latest novel is a page-turner set in the Middle East of 2017 amid the ISIS conflict. An attack on Washington occurs, resulting in a global search for the perpetrators. Conservative Christian New York Times reporter J.B. Collins gets to the bottom of the problem even as his faith is tested. The conclusion is a big surprise.

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