Month Archives: May 2018

Book Review: When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Movement

by Hannah Borchers

May 22, 2018

The growth of the transgender movement has left many unanswered questions, but the media never seems to accurately represent both sides. In 2015, Family Research Council’s Peter Sprigg collaborated with Dale O’Leary to produce a comprehensive 42-page policy paper, “Understanding and Responding to the Transgender Movement.” Now, Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation has provided an even more comprehensive treatment of the topic with a 251-page book. When Harry Became Sally is a fair and informed assessment of the transgender ideology written not to convert the activists, but rather to inform the average American that the implications of gender identity, gender fluidity, and transitioning may go beyond what we have been told by the media. In an engaging walkthrough of every aspect of this growing movement, Anderson makes it clear that we have much more to learn.

The stories of psychologists, biologists, and philosophers give the book more depth than any other response to the transgender movement thus far. In a crusade dominated by emotion and skewed statistics, it is refreshing to readdress the core meaning of male and female and the differences between the sexes. Anderson moves beyond statistics and engages with literature of both sides, seeking to give readers the tools to address this movement in an informed and persuasive way.

Even more moving are the testimonies of men and women who found “transitioning” was not the answer. Often squelched and silenced, the voices of these “detransitioners” are shared with no sense of bias, allowing raw experiences to do the talking and the readers to make their own conclusions.

When one looks at the dangers of gender transition and accompanying reckless treatment plans, it becomes clear that transgenderism is turning medicine into a playground with no rules. Anderson draws from the care plans of physicians and psychologists to give us the data our newspapers would never publish. He tells the stories of doctors ambushed for asking questions and children being given more authority than an average adult. Things are changing, medicine is being politicized, and children are becoming the choosers, even though all the research points in the opposite direction as the path to comprehensive health.

This deviates from the typical brash narratives of transgenderism. As Anderson makes clear, he is not seeking to destroy a movement, but to save lives. Never failing to speak with love, the author has given us one of the most systematic and sensitive approaches to gender identity. As we follow the different waves of feminism and philosophy, it is evident that this ideology had been percolating for years, but our society is only now coming to face the ramifications. His brilliant overview of policy shows that everyone is affected by this movement. While legislative bans and surgical operations seem like the simplest solution to our problem, they only put a Band-Aid on a very large wound and drive a wedge deeper into a cracked foundation.

With grace and humility, Anderson acknowledges that our society is not perfect. In fact, he admits that societal stereotypes greatly contribute to many distortions of gender identity. Anderson is not seeking to validate stereotypes, but to illuminate how complex the issue is. We have rushed to medical and political decisions that have radical implications, without truly understanding what we have done. Anderson asks us to think, not simply with our hearts, but with our heads.

Anderson’s main goal is to inform and encourage, reminding us that taking a position is not enough. There is still much to be done, still much to be explained, still much to be researched. In the meantime, we are doing irreparable damage and silencing voices, rather than empowering them. Anderson proves that we must hold on to the reality of humans being embodied as male or female, even while society diminishes the importance of human nature altogether. Our culture believes that breaking foundations is the only form of progress, but this will only destabilize the moral architecture of society.

Hannah Borchers is an intern at Family Research Council.

Alfie Evans and the Continued Influence of the Eugenics Movement

by Arielle Del Turco

May 17, 2018

After winning a legal battle to take a toddler off life support against the wishes of his parents, a children’s hospital in the U.K. denied oxygen and nutrition to a sick child in their care for over 24 hours. Twenty-three-month-old Alfie Evans defied the expectations of his doctors and survived for five days. He died on April 28th.

What could make a hospital so determined to watch a toddler die? They claimed in court that it was in Alfie’s “best interest.”

Alfie Evans had a degenerative neurological condition which doctors were unable to definitively diagnose. All that Alfie’s parents wanted was the chance to transfer the child to a hospital in Italy that was willing to treat him. They wanted to explore treatment options before giving up on their child. The U.K. courts refused to let that happen. This shows that the courts did not simply think that Alfie was incapable of surviving due to his condition. It exposes the fact that the government believes in its ability to make life and death pronouncements for those requiring medical treatment.

This assertion that living isn’t in the “best interest” of someone who is ill or disabled might sound familiar from history class.

The American eugenics movement in the Progressive Era (1890’s-1920’s) wanted to create a socially advanced society by better “breeding.” To achieve this genetically superior population, advocates of eugenics had a simple solution. It was to intervene in the family life of those lacking “usefulness”—people viewed as unable to contribute to society, economically or otherwise. Eugenics policies sought to eliminate these people from society through forced sterilizations and marriage restrictions to prevent procreation by those deemed “socially inadequate.”

Eugenicists were confident they could manage human evolution to produce a more intelligent and productive population. Today, medical advances are making it easier to discover and abort unborn children with disabilities and other “unwanted” traits. As a result, the same ethical questions that surrounded the American eugenics movement remain relevant today.

In pursuit of a more “perfect” society, the United States forcibly sterilized more than 60,000 Americans, mostly from 1907 to the early 1940’s, all to reduce the number of disabled or otherwise “undesirable” members of society.

The disabled were a primary target of eugenicists. It was argued that their lives were of no use to society or to themselves. That’s a lot like saying it’s not in the “best interest” of an ill toddler to explore treatment options, but to die instead.

This is the essence of the brutality of the eugenics mindset. Hospitals are places intended for healing and recovery. Yet, they weren’t places for disabled patients to receive that kind of treatment in the Progressive era. Instead, they were places where physicians targeted the vulnerable.

To prevent the vision of the eugenics movement from becoming a reality, we must make sure no group of people become our contemporary “socially inadequate” class.

It can be comforting to think about the evil of eugenics as a problem buried in the distant past. Western culture is more enlightened and tolerant now, right?

Alfie Evans’ situation demonstrates that the West is not immune to the hate and condescension toward human life that was present in the eugenics movement of the Progressive Era.

The way a society treats its most vulnerable members speaks to its moral health. The American eugenics movement sought to rid society of the weak. Our response to situations like Alfie’s should be to affirm that every life is worth living, and that the value of a life is not determined by the financial hardships or inconveniences it might cause.

The government should not and cannot determine when life is worth living or when death is in someone’s “best interest.” All people have dignity as image bearers of God, who has granted us the right to live out the life He gave us.

All persons deserve to be protected by our laws and accepted into our families. Neither the government nor physicians have the moral authority to say otherwise.

Ronald Reagan often quipped, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take it all away.” Alfie’s case shows just how true this is. The U.K.’s state-run National Health Service is big enough to grant health care to the entire population. We’re now finding out it is also powerful enough to deny that health care when they see fit.

Governments that hold this type of power will inevitably abuse it. George Santayana’s maxim that “those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it” is dead right. Currently, the U.K.’s handling of Alfie Evans’ situation echoes the talking points of the eugenics movement. This should terrify us.

Arielle Del Turco graduated from Regent University in 2018.

Social Conservative Review - May 16, 2018

by Daniel Hart

May 16, 2018

Dear Friends,

Bishop Robert Barron recently wrote a concise yet profound reflection on John 17:1-11. Here it is in full (emphasis mine):

Friends, Jesus’ prayer in today’s Gospel sums up his wonderful work as he is about to return to his Father. Jesus was, in his very person, the meeting of heaven and earth. God and humanity came together in him, and his entire ministry was the outward expression of that inward identity. By calling a scattered Israel to unity, inviting the poor to table fellowship, healing the sick in body and heart, and embodying the path of forgiveness and love, Jesus was bringing God’s will and purpose to earth.

Now, in his Passion and Death, Jesus brought heaven all the way down into the world. He carried the divine light into the darkest places of the human condition—hatred, cruelty, violence, corruption, stupidity, suffering, and death itself—and thereby transformed them. And the proof that heaven is able to transform earth is, of course, the Resurrection.

Now we know that cruelty, hatred, violence, fear, suffering, and death are not the most powerful forces in the world. Now we know that the divine love is more powerful. God’s kingdom has, in principle, broken the kingdoms of the world, which thrive upon, and in turn produce, those very negativities.”

This is a great reminder for believers to not be afraid of witnessing this divine love to those who do not believe. Christ has transformed even the worst thing that can possibly happen in life—death. We truly have nothing to fear.

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 Media

One Year Later: The Impact of President Trump’s Executive Order Protecting Religious Liberty – Travis Weber

Fairfax County School Board to Teach Kids: “Biological Sex Is Meaningless” – Cathy Ruse

Remembering the Little Ones Up Above on Mother’s Day – Dan Hart

Sponsors of California’s AB 2943 Claim It Wouldn’t Ban the Bible. Maybe. But What About These Books? – Peter Sprigg

Death Panels” Are Now a Reality – Patrina Mosley

Speaker Series: NIFLA: Preserving Free Speech for Those Who Advocate for Women and the Unborn – Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.)

Religious Liberty and National Security Go Hand in Hand

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

How a ‘Far-Left Propaganda Machine’ Got a Respected Legal Group Expelled by Amazon – Greg Scott, The Daily Signal

Study: Trump Religious Freedom Order Helps 13.7 Million Receive Health Care and Social Services – Tyler O’Neil, PJ Media

Tony Perkins appointed to US panel on international religious freedom – Jack Jenkins, Religion News Service

Catholic Marriage Counselor Fired Because of her Religious Beliefs – ToddStarnes.com

LGBT Activists Falsely Smear Those Protecting Children in Need – Monica Burke, The Daily Signal

Businesses to Avoid If You Can – Mark Bauerlein, First Things

5 Reasons The Southern Poverty Law Center Is A Hate-Mongering Scam – Joy Pullmann, The Federalist

Trump Religious Freedom Order Helps Charities Serve Over 13.7 Million in Need, Analysis Finds – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post

College demands student remove Jesus, Bible references from graduation speech. Then she fights back – Dave Urbanski, The Blaze

Fight over cross at Florida public park resumes before appeals court – Kim Chatelain, The Times-Picayune

International Religious Freedom

North Korea’s Prisoner Release: 3 Down, 119,997 to Go – Olivia Enos, The Daily Signal

Explosions at 3 Indonesian churches leave at least 2 dead: reports – Max Greenwood, The Hill

Arrested in Chengdu – June Cheng, WORLD

State Department knocks China over church harassment – Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner

Military Religious Freedom

Lawmakers Say Army May Have Violated Law by Targeting Baptist Chaplain – ToddStarnes.com

 

Life

Abortion

Iowa legislature votes to ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected – Nancy Flanders, Live Action

Planned Parenthood sues Iowa for banning abortion of babies with beating hearts – Claire Chretien, LifeSiteNews

New Device Lets Pregnant Moms Take Ultrasound Pictures of Their Baby on Their Phone – Micaiah Bilger, LifeNews

Thousands protest Trudeau’s abortion agenda at Canadian March for Life – Lianne Laurence, LifeSiteNews

I Had an Abortion. Here’s the Message I Want to Share With Other Women. – Victoria Robinson, The Daily Signal

Adoption

4 Things a Birth Mom Wants Adoptive Families To Know – Adrian Collins, Her View From Home

10 things that will kill your orphan care ministry: Part 4 – Rick Morton, Ethics & Religious Liberty

Commission

Will Placing Fewer Children in Foster Care Fix the System? – Naomi Schaefer Riley, Family Studies

The Ache While We Wait to Adopt – Caroline Saunders, Her View From Home

Bioethics

Judge Overturns California Law Legalizing Assisted Suicide – Steven Ertelt, LifeNews

 

Family

Marriage

Daily Rituals Cultivate Lasting Love – Amber Lapp, Family Studies

He’s My Husband, Not My Savior – Kelli Bachara, Her View From Home

Encouragement for New Moms – Alysse ElHage, Family Studies

Economics/Education

New Data Show California Kids’ Math Achievement Took A Nosedive After Common Core – Joy Pullmann, The Federalist

Why Employers Are Ignoring The Untapped Potential Of Stay-At-Home Moms – Joy Pullmann, The Federalist

This Is a Bad Look: In Current Farm Bill, Conservatives Prop Up Rich Farmers – Daren Bakst, The Daily Signal

Straight Talk About the Success Sequence, Marriage, and Poverty – W. Bradford Wilcox, Family Studies

Faith/Character/Culture

The War on Wisdom – Dennis Prager, The Daily Signal

You Can Pursue Your Dreams and Love Your Family – Katie Warner, National Catholic Register

The Democrats’ God Gap – David French, National Review

Nevada bank robber, FBI agent who arrested him, pray at White House – Debra J. Saunders, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Every Day With Her Was the Best Day:’ Remembering My Mom – Armstrong Williams, The Daily Signal

The Childhood Quality That’s the Best Predictor of Health, Wealth, and Happiness – Annie Holmquist, Intellectual Takeout

Human Sexuality

Male Sexlessness is Rising, But Not for the Reasons Incels Claim – Lyman Stone, Family Studies

Why A Compromise On Transgender Politics Would Be Capitulation – Walt Heyer, The Federalist

Consent is No Cure – Craig Michael White, Ethika Politika

Human Trafficking

Uncovering The Silent Sex Trafficking Epidemic In New York City – Fight the New Drug

Christian Rocker Risks Life in Undercover Mission to Rescue Victims in Sex Trade – Jeannie Law, The Christian Post

Pornography

You Can Write An Open Letter to the Pornography Industry – National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Fairfax County School Board to Teach Kids: “Biological Sex Is Meaningless”

by Cathy Ruse

May 15, 2018

The Fairfax County School Board is poised to make some radical changes to their sex ed curriculum.

Already, each public school student must suffer through 80 hours of sex ed. That’s not a typo: 8-0.

They call it “Family Life Education” but everybody knows that’s a joke. You won’t find lessons on building happy marriages and healthy families here. No, instead you’ll find hour after hour of instruction on your evolving “sexual identity,” on the proper handling of contraceptive drugs and devices, and on how to give consent for sex.

(Here is a balanced review of every current sex ed lesson.) 

But even these lessons were too repressive for the kids, in the eyes of this longtime Democrat-controlled School Board.

Last week at the Fairfax County School Board meeting, the committee of hand-picked sex ed advisors pitched an overhaul of the curriculum which will take things from bad to worse.

A summary of the changes drafted by the Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee, or FLECAC, can be found here (but don’t ever trust the School Board’s summaries; click on the Board Docs link for the full report, and skip to the final three pages to read the dissenting opinion). The vast majority of the 24 voting members – including a 9th grade student in braces – voted enthusiastically for all changes. Only three members voted against the changes.

Here is what the Fairfax County officials want to do:

  1. Teach Fairfax kids they weren’t actually born male or female. Advisors scrubbed “biological sex” from all lessons and in its place put the politically-charged “gender-fluid” propaganda term “sex assigned at birth.” As one advisor explained: “Biological sex is meaningless!”
  2. Teach 7th and 8th grade students to embrace transgender identity, but don’t tell them about the risks. Advisors voted against telling children about any of the health risks and side effects from “gender transitioning.”
  3. Teach the daily drug regimen Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP, to every high school student every year. PrEP is designed for people “at very high risk” of contracting HIV (defined by the Centers for Disease Control as men who have sex with men without condoms). Leading AIDs experts have said that PrEP will lead to a public health catastrophe for encouraging risky sex, and PrEP has not even been approved by the FDA for use by children under 18.
  4. Stop telling students that “abstinence is the only 100 percent effective method” to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Advisors mocked abstinence education, then voted to take out this phrase.
  5. Teach students how to use every imaginable contraceptive drug, device, and cream, but don’t tell them about health risks or side effects.
  6. Strip parents of their right to opt their kids out of an 8th grade lesson on dating and family. (The Fairfax School Board thrusts all of these lessons on kids unless their parents affirmatively tell them to stop.)
  7. Remove an offensive word: The sex ed advisors have finally identified a word that was too offensive for students to hear. They voted to strip the word “clergy” from the list of trusted adults that students might consult with sexual identity concerns.  

The School Board is accepting public comments until June 8 on the proposed changes.

They will vote on the changes at a school board meeting on June 14.

Fairfax kids deserve better. And the Fairfax School Board members need to find another line of work.

Remembering the Little Ones Up Above on Mother’s Day

by Daniel Hart

May 11, 2018

We shall find our little ones again up above.”

-St. Zelie Martin

Recently, the state of Nebraska passed a bill that is the first of its kind in the history of the United States. The bill allows parents who have lost a child due to miscarriage to apply for a commemorative birth certificate as long as a health care practitioner has verified the pregnancy. Unlike previous bills which mandated that the miscarried child must have been at least 20 weeks old, this bill has no minimum gestation period.

The beauty of this bill is that it publicly acknowledges the life of the unborn, no matter how short their time may have been with us. Miscarriage is an experience that is all too common but often not spoken about in our culture. It is estimated that 15-20 percent of all pregnancies in the U.S. end in miscarriage. Anecdotally, it seems to me that this number is an underestimate—almost all of the couples I know who have multiple children have experienced at least one miscarriage, if not more.

Although these children are unseen and never encountered face to face, their passing has an unavoidable impact on families, especially mothers. As one woman recounts in Karen Edmiston’s book, After Miscarriage, “I could no more pretend that nothing has happened than I could pretend to be fine if my husband died.” This natural response underscores the deep wound that all mothers who have lost children experience. 

Many women may blame themselves or feel ashamed of their miscarriage, and may even be unaware of their grief. Holly Cave recounts one mother who confided to her:

I thought to grieve you had to have lost something you’d met – like a person that you had talked to – or you could grieve over a baby that maybe you’d held,” she tells me. “I didn’t know anything about grief… I didn’t know whether I should leave that to people who had lost actual people, not a very, very tiny baby that you’ve never met.”

As Edmiston explains, “Grief is necessary, and our children deserve the dignity of our mourning, the recognition of their infinite worth, the respect that is manifest in our grieving of their passing.” Grief is an affirmation of love. It is an affirmation that a child is missed. 

It is clear that our society needs to do a better job of honoring the grief of women who have experienced miscarriage. The Nebraska birth certificate bill is a great start in bringing a tragic event into the light in order to help facilitate healing for mothers and their families, especially by officially pronouncing a name for the unknown child. Although no parent should feel guilty if they have not thought of giving their child a name, this can be a beautiful way of affirming God’s gift of life. As Christians, we believe that the life in the womb of a mother possesses an eternal soul, and therefore, the child may possess a name. “Names are powerful,” Edmiston writes. “They identify us, shape us, connect us to one another… It is a small but very real gift you can give to the baby you were not able to see or embrace.”

On this Mother’s Day, let us remember and pray in a special way for all those mothers who have children whose lives ended before they were born—from miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion—or whose lives ended after birth, from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or other tragedy.

Here are some resources to help those who are grieving the loss of a child:

Sponsors of California’s AB 2943 Claim It Wouldn’t Ban the Bible. Maybe. But What About These Books?

by Peter Sprigg

May 10, 2018

It seems that we have gone from the culture wars to the “fact-check” wars. One has been underway in recent weeks over a bill making its way through the California legislature.

Put the words “California Bible ban” in a Google search and you will see what I mean.

The California Family Council and Alliance Defending Freedom were among the first to raise the alarm that Assembly Bill 2943 could be interpreted to ban sales of the Bible. Snopes, FactCheck.org, and PolitiFact all tried to debunk the claim. The FactCheck piece reproduces an April 22 tweet from the bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Evan Low, stating, “It does not ban bibles nor does it ban the basic sales of books as some would have you believe.” But a number of careful and thoughtful conservative writers—such as Michael Brown, David French, Rod Dreher, my colleague at Family Research Council Travis Weber, and Robert Gagnon (here and here) have continued to express alarm about the bill (albeit with slightly different emphases). Does Assembly Bill 2943 actually “ban the Bible” in California? In one sense, no—but in another sense, maybe. Sometimes, what is needed is a not a “fact-check” with a simple true or false answer, but a “perspective check,” explaining why some people make a particular argument and what evidence they cite to support it.

What AB 2943 Does Not Do

Let me state a couple things that are definitely not true about AB 2943 and the Bible, which some of the more sensational headlines about “California wants to ban the Bible” might be misinterpreted to imply.

First of all, “banning the Bible” is definitely not the main purpose of AB 2943. Its purpose is to greatly expand an existing restriction (the first in the nation when enacted in 2012) upon the practice of “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE), now routinely referred to by critics (but rarely by practitioners) as “conversion therapy.” I have had concerns about some of the “Bible ban” talk, if only because the core issue—a ban on therapy for those with unwanted same-sex attractions—has sometimes been almost forgotten.

It is a fact that some people with same-sex attractions experience those feelings as unwanted; some of those have sought therapy or counseling to overcome those attractions; and some of those have testified to the success of such therapy in helping them overcome those attractions, and now identify as “ex-gay.” LGBT activists are offended that some people with same-sex attractions don’t want to be “gay,” so they are attempting to eliminate that option by claiming that such therapy is ineffective, as well as harmful to those who undertake it. (Family Research Council disputes those claims.) California’s 2012 law prohibited SOCE only for clients who are minors, and only when conducted by licensed mental health providers. AB 2943 would expand the ban to apply to clients of any age (including consenting adults), and any type of counselor (including religious ones), as long as there is an exchange of money for the service.

Secondly, there is no legislative language in AB 2943 that refers specifically to the Bible. As Snopes explained in its article debunking the supposed “Bible ban” claim, “California Assembly Bill 2943 does not mention the Bible, Christianity, or religion at all.” That sentence—with the key word being “mention”—is correct. (That does not mean it would not affect them, however.)

Thirdly, even if AB 2943 could have an effect upon the Bible, it would only be upon the sale of the Bible. The bill is in the form of an amendment to the state’s consumer fraud laws, so there must be some commercial transaction (involving an exchange of money) to trigger its provisions. The bill does not prohibit the possession, reading, publication, teaching, or free distribution of the Bible.

How Could AB 2943 Ban Sales of the Bible?

The concern that AB 2943 could be used to ban sales of the Bible is an inference from, rather than an explicit statement in, the language of the bill. However, the bill is thirteen pages long, most of which is just a recapitulation of the existing consumer fraud law. To understand the change that is being proposed, one has to search and extract the substantive language from the bill. Here are the key segments, with ellipses ( … ) where text has been omitted. First is the bill’s definition of “sexual orientation change efforts” (emphasis mine):

(i) (1) “Sexual orientation change efforts” means any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.

Here is the actual language prohibiting SOCE:

1770. (a) The following unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices undertaken by any person in a transaction intended to result or that results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer are unlawful:

 . . .

(28) Advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.

Key Words: “Behaviors” and “Goods”

How does this apply to the Bible? Likely through two key words, highlighted in the bill text above.

The first of these is “behaviors.” When most people think of “sexual orientation change efforts,” they probably think of the second part of the bill’s definition: efforts “to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.” LGBT activists claim that such “attractions or feelings” are innate and immutable. The same, of course, cannot be said about “behaviors,” which can be changed at will. I suspect, however, that those activists worried that if therapy to help people change their “behaviors” were permitted, it would constitute a loophole that would allow SOCE to continue.

The problem with outlawing “efforts to change behaviors,” however, is that almost all moral and religious teaching about how we should live involves “efforts to change behaviors.” “Don’t lie.” “Don’t steal.” “Treat your father and mother with respect.” There are all sorts of religiously-rooted assertions directing people to modify “behavior.” Let us not forget the age-old admonition: “Behave!” When Leviticus 18:22 cites God telling Moses, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female” (NASB), that clearly seems to be an “effort to change behaviors.”

The second key word is “goods.” As noted above, the main purpose of the bill is to outlaw a certain type (or more accurately, a goal) of therapy, which would generally be considered a “service.” However, the ban on change efforts applies to any “transaction intended to result or that results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer.” Although one bill critic has suggested that the language about “the sale or lease of goods” does not apply to SOCE, the term “any practices” in the definition of SOCE appears to be broad enough to encompass the practice of selling books.

No, the text of AB 2943 does not mention the Bible. But since the “sale … of goods” could include the sale of books (such as the Bible), and since the moral teachings of the Bible include “efforts to change behaviors” (such as homosexual behavior), critics of AB 2943 have warned that it could, at least theoretically, be used to ban the sale of Bibles in California.

Possible vs. Likely

Now, if AB 2943 is enacted, is California likely to leap directly to banning sales of the Bible? Perhaps not, for several reasons. As noted above, banning Bible sales is not the main purpose of the bill,  and while the Bible supports sexual orientation change (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11), that is hardly its main theme. At least initially, a prosecutor would likely seek an easier target, and one more directly relevant to sexual orientation change efforts. In addition, it is likely that the Supreme Court (at least in 2018, as currently constituted) would strike down any effort to ban sales of the Bible.

Still, the argument that AB 2943 could, even theoretically, be used to ban sales of the Bible is an important one, if only because it demonstrates how sweeping and poorly written the bill is. That should be reason enough for California legislators to oppose it.

While the Bible may be safe in the short run, I have less confidence in the long run. Zack Ford is a homosexual activist and writer with ThinkProgress who wrote a piece claiming it is “nonsense” that AB 2943 would “ban the Bible.” Yet ironically, that same piece links to a 2016 article Ford wrote asserting that “When Gay People Are Told That Homosexuality Is A Sin,” that “message alone is harmful.” The assertion that a piece of moral teaching from the Bible is not merely incorrect, but is tangibly “harmful,” seems like a way of laying the groundwork for legal restrictions upon that very biblical teaching.

Which Books Would Be Banned?

Even if sales of the Bible in California continue unhindered (for now), what about other books? As I have already stated, I think the argument is strong that AB 2943 could be used, generally, to ban the sale of certain books.

Take a look, for instance, at the books in the photo at the beginning of this post. This is just a sample of the books I pulled off my bookshelf, from the library I have accumulated in 17 years at Family Research Council. The books pictured are not just ones that deal generally with Christian moral teaching on sexuality. Unlike the Bible, these eight books are specifically and entirely about sexual orientation change efforts.

There can be no question that the sponsors of AB 2943 would prefer that books like this did not exist. Could the bill be used to ban their sale?

Some supporters of therapy bans (a number of which have been enacted in the wake of California’s action in 2012) have argued that they do not prevent someone from expressing the opinion that homosexuality is undesirable, or expressing the opinion that it can change, or even expressing the opinion that therapy can facilitate such change. All they ban is someone actually undertaking such efforts. So maybe a few of these books would escape California’s new censors.

But what about James E. Phelan’s Practical Exercises for Men in Recovery of Same-Sex Attraction (SSA)? This book appears to have no purpose other than actually bringing about sexual orientation change in the men who read it. Under AB 2943, how could California allow “any practice” that includes the “sale of” this particular “good?”

Banning Books is Totalitarian

In the past few weeks, Christians have been shocked by the possibility of a state banning the sale of the Bible.

But shouldn’t every American be shocked at the thought of a state banning the sale of any books based on their philosophical, religious, or moral viewpoint?

Banning books because one doesn’t like their message?

In the United States of America?

In this country, you can sell all kinds of books.

You can sell Mein Kampf, and The Communist Manifesto. Bookstores sell the celebration of sado-masochism of Fifty Shades of Grey, and the celebration of sodomy in Allen Ginsberg’s Howl.

But now, California might ban the sale of Practical Exercises for Men in Recovery of Same-Sex Attraction? Or ban Coming Out Straight—just because it says that for “those who struggle with their own same-sex attractions,” it will “open the door to a new, happier, and fulfilling heterosexual life”?

The idea of banning books—any books—because the authorities don’t like their message is totalitarian. In the United States of America, it should be unthinkable. California legislators should affirm that it is unthinkable—by voting “No” on AB 2943.

Banning Therapy is Totalitarian, Too

While the prospect of the Bible—or any books—being “banned” from sale has focused attention on AB 2943, I hope it will also bring people’s attention to the central issue:

Banning a client-chosen goal of therapy is just as totalitarian.

By framing their assault upon the freedom of therapists and clients as an exercise of the state’s power to regulate health care or (in the case of AB 2943) to prevent “consumer fraud,” LGBT activists have masked how unprecedented these therapy bans are in the history of American law or counseling.

Note that what these bills seek to outlaw is not a particular therapeutic technique. While advocates will tell stories (some of them far-fetched) about being victims of “aversion therapy” techniques that have not been used in 40 or 50 years, the prohibition is not limited to “aversion therapy.” When pressed, sponsors must admit that they seek to outlaw ordinary talk therapy as well. What these laws and bills target is nothing more or less than a goal: “to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.” This is extraordinary.

Supporters of the bans will also imply that people are “coerced” into undertaking SOCE. That problem (if it exists) could be resolved by requiring “informed consent” before therapy. The prohibitionists reject that, insisting on banning all therapy, even if the client desperately wants it. (Can you imagine the outcry from some of these same activists on the Left if conservatives argued, “Because some women are coerced into having abortions, the only solution is to prohibit any women from obtaining them”?)

Therapy bans violate freedom of speech for therapists, freedom of religion for clients and therapists, and the privacy of the therapist-client relationship.

They should outrage every freedom-loving American, and should be opposed by every legislator.

Death Panels” Are Now a Reality

by Patrina Mosley

May 4, 2018

The passing of Alfie Evans is heartbreaking. There are no words to console a parent whose child has passed away before them, especially when their own government prevented potentially life-saving care from being administered.

Alfie’s parents battled for months with the hospital in a desperate legal attempt to obtain appropriate medical care to address his neurological condition, but the British courts sided with the doctors by saying that Alfie’s condition was supposedly too hopeless for additional care. Consequently, Alfie died when the hospital decided to pull his life support without his parent’s’ permission.

Even in light of the terrible optics of the British government’s handling of Alfie’s case, British Prime Minister Theresa May, in reacting to Alfie Evans’ case, was firm in her belief that medical experts should be the ones to make decisions in such cases, not the parents: “It’s important that decisions about medical support that are given to children and to others are made by clinicians, by those who are experts in that matter,” she said.

Let this tragic story serve as a reminder to us, as Americans, to never give up an inch on our freedoms and our rights.

Let’s not forget that in 2009, while everyone was busy calling Sarah Palin an idiot, she rightly called the Obamacare end-of-life provisions “death panels” because they allowed the government to ration out health care, essentially getting to decide who lives and who dies based on their “level of productivity in society.” This is exactly the kind of socialized medicine we are seeing at work in places like Great Britain, and Alfie and his parents are not the first victims.

The Left and their “Hillary’s America” dream, where “it takes a village” to make the right decisions for your children and where our rights come from the government instead of God, cannot be given an inch to thrive in our society. Our children do not belong to the state, they belong to their parents. We continue to see this Leftist mindset infiltrate our society by not letting parents opt their children out of pornographic sex-ed lessons, striking down parental consent for minors to get abortions, giving hormone therapy treatment to a minor who believes they are a different gender, and on and on. God forbid America gradually becomes a society where cases like Alfie Evans and Charlie Gard are the norm.

We must remain vigilant in protecting our God-given rights and take notice of every avenue this socialistic mindset tries to infiltrate in our courts, our education systems, and our health care.

Religious Liberty and National Security Go Hand in Hand

by Family Research Council

May 3, 2018

There is a gaping hole in American foreign policy today, and it is negatively affecting our national security and the security of the world.

There has been a ‘religious freedom avoidance syndrome’ in the State Department,” said Dr. Tom Farr, President of the Religious Freedom Institute, during a recent FRC Speaker Series panel discussion held in Washington, D.C.“…The problem with that … is that the world is religious. And if it is the business of American diplomates, which it is, to defend American interests in a highly religious world, staying away from religion simply doesn’t make sense.”

Professor Robert Destro of Catholic University of America pointed out that we need to work with other countries to make them realize that granting their citizens more religious freedom will actually promote their own self-interests. Studies show that increased religious freedom leads to the absence of religious violence, economic growth, a reduction in corruption, a decrease in infant mortality, better health outcomes, more literacy, more empowerment of women, and more.

Professor Destro also made the case that America needs to help its own Muslim citizens present the benefits of religious freedom to their Muslim counterparts in the Middle East, because it’s obvious that someone of the same faith as them can make the case much more effectively than non-Muslims. As Dr. Farr pointed out, extremist ideologies cannot be destroyed with bullets, they must be destroyed by better ideas.

Don’t miss the full panel discussion.

Be sure to read FRC’s full analysis of the religious freedom/national security issue.

Social Conservative Review - May 1, 2018

by Daniel Hart

May 1, 2018

Dear Friends,

If you pay much attention to what everyone is talking about these days—what some might call “news”—it’s easy to pick up on a troubling pattern. Kyle Smith at National Review has pinpointed it well: it’s “a culture of enmity.” It’s something that both liberals and conservatives are guilty of—a near constant state of indignation, usually aimed at someone who said something “hateful,” that must be made publicly known. As Smith observes, it can be easy to fall into the trap of fighting hate with more hate: “Any uneasy feelings about hate are washed clean when that hate is obviously justified. Hating haters, these days, produces a kind of ecstasy. It is easily mistaken for love.”

As Christians, we are called to something higher. Even when we feel that we are justified in “calling out” someone for something that they have said or written that we find offensive, we need to slow down and give our response careful consideration. As David French has observed: “If you truly hate the offensive speech in question — if you truly believe it’s hurtful — why share it far and wide? Why amplify the offensive voice? Arguably, the worst rebuke for a troll, the worst punishment for the self-promoting radical, is indifference. I have my own standard for engaging bad ideas — First, I wait. I ask myself: Are these ideas gaining traction? Do they threaten to make a material difference in the marketplace of ideas? If the answer is yes, then I engage. If the answer is no, I let the offensive speech die a natural death.” In other words, ignoring offensive remarks can often be the most prudent course of action, especially in our current cultural climate of ubiquitous outrage.

At the risk of sounding a little bit trite and naïve, it’s time for Christians to start a revolution of positivity by infusing the public square with truth, goodness, and beauty. Instead of pontificating about the latest outrage on Facebook, share an insightful spiritual quote you heard from last Sunday’s sermon, or share a link to an inspiring story about the adoption of a needy child. The authentic Christian life should not solely be focused on exposing the darkness of evil. Our primary goal should be to magnify the lightness of good.

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 Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act: Ensuring a Free Marketplace of Adoption Providers – Travis Weber

Parents Stand Up for Children in Sex Ed Sit Out – Cathy Ruse

More Sex Ed and Even More Stalinism at the Local School Board – Cathy Ruse and Austin Ruse

Pompeo: A Proven Leader for the State Department – Ken Blackwell

Pompeo Is Ready to Lead – William G. Boykin

Why the Alfie Evans Case Is a Full-Blown Example of Forced Euthanasia – Om Narayanan

Can You See Me? – Patrina Mosley

Faith-Based Adoption Providers Must Be Allowed to Serve Needy Children

State Department Defends Actual Human Rights Instead of Made-Up Rights – Travis Weber

12 Resources to Fight Sexual Exploitation, Part 2 – Peter Sprigg

12 Resources to Fight Sexual Exploitation, Part 1 – Peter Sprigg

Who Owns Free Speech on the Internet?

Suicide Machine” Shows Us Why Combating Euthanasia Is Crucial to the Pro-Life Cause – Om Narayanan

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

New California Bill Could Ban Sale of Some Christian Books (Yes, Really) – Mark Meckler, Patheos

School District Forbids Parents From Opting Kids Out of LGBT Lessons – ToddStarnes.com

Senators are failing the religious test for office – Jeremy Dys, The Hill

The Unsoundness of Silencing Hate – Elizabeth Scalia, Word On Fire

School District Bans Principal From Inviting Parents to Pray at Flag Pole After Atheist Complaint – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post

US Christian who refuses to pay taxes until abortion is defunded has first big win in court – Calvin Freiburger, LifeSiteNews

Iowa Senate refuses to confirm Board of Medicine appointee over post on LGBTQ issues – William Petroski, Des Moines Register

Southern Poverty Law Center Quietly Deleted List of ‘Anti-Muslim’ Extremists After Legal Threat – Jack Crowe, National Review

Satanists Declare War on Arkansas Ten Commandments – ToddStarnes.com

International Religious Freedom

State Dept. Convinced Andrew Brunson Is Innocent, Says Turkey Lacks ‘Credible Evidence’ – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post

Attack on Nigerian church kills 15 worshippers – Onize Ohikere, WORLD

Trudeau: ‘We will not apologize’ for valuing abortion over free speech – Calvin Freiburger, LifeSiteNews

Military Religious Freedom

Baptist Army Chaplain Faces Punishment for Religious Beliefs – ToddStarnes.com

San Diego-based admiral declines to probe Bible placement at Okinawa hospital – Carl Prine, The San Diego Union-Tribune

 

Life

Abortion

House passes bill banning abortions based on Down Syndrome – Liz Navratil & Angela Couloumbis, The Inquirer

State Department: Abortion ‘is not a human right’ – Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner

Pro-Choice Movement Opposes Abortion Alternatives in South Bend – Alexandra DeSanctis, National Review

Cecile Richards Finally Leaves Planned Parenthood After 12 Years and 3.5 Million Abortions – Micaiah Bilger, LifeNews

Adoption

Adopting Priorities – Kathryn Jean Lopez, The Stream

10 things that will kill your church’s orphan care ministry: Part 1 – Rick Morton, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Finally a family: Inside the adoption process for three Bedford County sisters – Siobhan McGirl, WDBJ7

10 things that will kill your orphan care ministry: Part 2 – Rick Morton, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Bioethics

The State-Ordered Killing of Young Alfie Evans – John O’Sullivan, National Review

Alfie Evans’ Death Illustrates The Monstrous Logic Of The Welfare State – John Daniel Davidson, The Federalist

Alfie Evans and Our Moral Crossroads – Charles C. Camosy, First Things

Obamacare

Republicans have a long way to go toward fully repealing ObamaCare – Rachel Bovard, The Hill

 

Family

Marriage

Healing a Hookup Culture through the Goods of Marriage – Timothy P. O’Malley, Family Studies

The Flash,” Fear, and the Kenosis of Marriage – Rachel Bulman, Word on Fire

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson should put a ring on it — for his kids’ sake – W. Bradford Wilcox, USA Today

Effective Marriage Preparation for the Next Generation Is More Important Than Ever – Tiffany L. Clyde and Alan J. Hawkins, Family Studies

The New States’ Rights: Is Parenthood Defined by Biology or Government? – Adam J. MacLeod, Public Discourse

A Marriage Restored – Thomas Jeffries, Focus on the Family

For Most Couples Who Stay the Course, Marriage Gets Better With Time: An Interview with Paul R. Amato – Alysse ElHage, Family Studies

Economics/Education

Anti-homeschooling bill defeated in CaliforniaThe Desert Review

Why Christian Higher Education Still Matters – Chris Hazell, Word on Fire

New National Test Scores Show Betsy DeVos Was Right About Public Schools – Mary Clare Amselem, Intellectual Takeout

How Colleges Are Ripping Off a Generation of Ill-Prepared Students – Walter E. Williams, The Daily Signal

Faith/Character/Culture

Why you should encourage your child to befriend the kid who’s “different” – Adrian Buntin, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Make It Easy for Your Kids to Love God – Ray Ortlund, Desiring God

From the Depths of John Krasinski’s Catholic Past: A Quiet Work of Art – Sarah Perry, Benedict XVI Institute

When God Shouts – Pat Flynn, Word on Fire

Christian, choose hope in an age of cynicism – Jason Duesing, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Human Sexuality

The School System Corrupts And Sexualizes Our Children And Calls It ‘Sex Ed’ – Matt Walsh, The Daily Wire

Promiscuous America: Smart, Secular, and Somewhat Less Happy – Nicholas H. Wolfinger, Family Studies

How the New Corporate Elite Sold Same-Sex Marriage to the American Public – Scott Yenor, Public Discourse

Encouraging Intentional Dating in a Hookup Culture – Meg T. McDonnell, Family Studies

Human Trafficking

This Man Rescues Children From Sex Slavery And Wants You To Know This About Backpage – Bre Payton, The Federalist

Pornography

Jesus’s Compassion for Those Who Love Porn – Mo Isom, The Gospel Coalition

Why redeeming our thoughts matters – Liz Wann, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

April 2018 «

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