Month Archives: June 2018

Are Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg For or Against Religious Hostility?

by Travis Weber , Andrew Rock

June 29, 2018

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s reasonable national security measures by a 5-4 vote in Trump v. Hawaii. In one of the dissents, Justice Sotomayor (joined by Justice Ginsburg) drew from the Court’s recent opinion in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission to argue that President Trump’s “bias” against Muslims invalidated the travel ban because government actions cannot be motived by anti-religious sentiment. Yet less than a month ago, Justice Ginsberg (joined by Justice Sotomayor) dissented in Masterpiece, ignoring the blatant religious hostility against Jack Phillips that served as the basis for the Court’s ruling in his favor. The position of these two dissenters in Trump v. Hawaii would seem to lead to support for Jack Phillips, but it never materialized.

In Trump v. Hawaii, much biased media coverage obscured the facts of a relatively simple case. President Trump issued a proclamation that temporarily suspended entry into the U.S. of persons from countries which did not provide adequate background check information. It made no mention of any religion (six of the eight countries on the list are mostly Muslim, but the other two were not – and numerous Muslim-majority countries were not on the list). The Supreme Court held that it was well within President Trump’s authority to implement this measure as a matter of national security.

Justices Sotomayor and Ginsberg were having none of it. They insisted that the “ban” (another misnomer, since the regulations didn’t flatly ban anyone, but set up different requirements for different people trying to enter the U.S.) violated the First Amendment because of President Trump’s comments about Islam’s history of violence. The Justices reasoned that because religious hostility is not a valid basis for government action, and since these regulations were supposedly enacted out of some hostility to Muslims, then they are invalid. Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg referenced Masterpiece, which relied on the principle that government hostility to religion violates the free exercise protections of the First Amendment, to support their argument that the Court should decide differently and to imply that the majority decision was hypocritical. They ignored the fact that they both dissented against the very decision they attempted to invoke.

Indeed, Justice Ginsberg (joined by Justice Sotomayor) penned a dissent in Masterpiece which dismissed the obvious religious hostility against Jack Phillips. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission had compared Christians like Mr. Phillips who wanted to follow their consciences to Nazis and slave owners. These inflammatory statements did not concern Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor, who said that “whatever one may think of the statements in their historical context…I see no reason why the comments of one or two Commissioners should be taken to overcome Phillips’ refusal to sell a wedding cake to Craig and Mullins.”

Yet Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor can’t have it both ways. If they believe religious hostility can serve as a basis for relief, as they state in Trump v. Hawaii, they also have to be prepared for to provide that relief for Jack Phillips. Conversely, if a decision can still be valid despite evidence of religious bias (as they argued in Masterpiece), then they should have supported the president’s reasonable national security regulations in Trump v. Hawaii. The Justices cannot ignore obvious religious bias when it is politically convenient, and turn around and use the same argument to attack other measures they don’t like.

The Little-Known Figures Who Had an Outsized Impact on the Masterpiece Cakeshop Decision

by Peter Sprigg

June 20, 2018

I have already written several times about the Supreme Court’s recent Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, in which the Court struck down Colorado’s discrimination charge against a Christian baker who declined to make a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The majority’s ruling rested on its finding that the proceedings against baker Jack Phillips in Colorado were tainted by anti-religious bias. I described each of the five opinions written in the case here, and explained why media referred to a 7-2 decision as “narrow” (in its reasoning, not its margin) here.

There is one more aspect of the Masterpiece case that I found interesting. The key parties to the case were the baker, Jack Phillips, and the same-sex couple, Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins. The experiences and perspectives of these men had been discussed and recounted repeatedly as the case made its way through Colorado’s adjudicatory process and then through the appeal to the Supreme Court.

In the end, however, there were two lesser-known figures who played a key role in the outcome of the case. From the pro-family perspective supportive of the baker Phillips, one—a man named William Jack—helped to expose the hypocrisy of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The other—a woman named Diann Rice—may have unwittingly doomed the state’s case by verbalizing the anti-religious hostility that was fatal to their side.

Diann Rice was a member of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that heard the complaint against Masterpiece Cakeshop. During a July 25, 2014 meeting of the Commission, she made the following statement, which was recounted by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in his majority opinion in the 2018 case:

I would also like to reiterate what we said in the hearing or the last meeting. Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the holocaust, whether it be—I mean, we—we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to—to use their religion to hurt others.

The quote was originally found on an audio recording of the meeting, and a transcript from that recording only identified the speaker as a “female speaker.” It was not until six months later that Phillips’ attorneys with the Alliance Defending Freedom identified the speaker as Rice.

Justice Kennedy explained the problem with this remark:

To describe a man’s faith as “one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use” is to disparage his religion in at least two distinct ways: by describing it as despicable, and also by characterizing it as merely rhetorical—something insubstantial and even insincere. The commissioner even went so far as to compare Phillips’ invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust. This sentiment is inappropriate for a Commission charged with the solemn responsibility of fair and neutral enforcement of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law—a law that protects discrimination on the basis of religion as well as sexual orientation.

The sad thing is that the kind of contempt for “freedom of religion and religion” voiced by Rice, including the over-the-top comparison of a belief in one-man-one-woman marriage with defenses of slavery and the Holocaust, is not even considered extreme on the Left today. On the contrary, that view is utterly commonplace. For example, writer Zack Ford of ThinkProgress openly defended the remark. That is why it was so welcome to have the Supreme Court declare that such contempt is not permissible as a part of government decision-making.

The other person who surprisingly proved central to the case was William Jack. (William Jack is not to be confused with Jack Phillips, the baker at the heart of the case.)

Even after he was cited in the Court’s ruling, little has been written about Mr. Jack’s background. The liberal magazine Mother Jones wrote the most detailed article about him, referring to him as “a foot soldier in the religious-right evangelical movement.” They also linked to a brief he filed in the case in support of Phillips, which describes him as “a Colorado citizen and Christian educator who teaches nationally on issues of Christian worldview, apologetics, and leadership.”

In a sort of reverse parallel of what happened to Craig and Mullins when they requested a wedding cake from Masterpiece Cakeshop, William Jack visited three Colorado bakeries requesting that they bake him cakes with a message of opposition to same-sex marriage. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg described Jack’s request most explicitly in her dissenting opinion. He wanted cakes:

made to resemble an open Bible. He also requested that each cake be decorated with Biblical verses. [He]requested that one of the cakes include an image of two groomsmen, holding hands, with a red ‘X’ over the image. On one cake, he requested [on] one side[,] … ‘God hates sin. Psalm 45:7’ and on the opposite side of the cake ‘Homosexuality is a detestable sin. Leviticus 18:2.’ On the second cake, [the one] with the image of the two groomsmen covered by a red ‘X’[Jack] requested [these words]: ‘God loves sinners’ and on the other side ‘While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:8.’ ”

All three bakeries declined to bake the cakes requested by Mr. Jack, on the grounds that they considered the message (especially, it seems, the image of the grooms with the red “X” and the word “sin”) to be offensive. Mr. Jack brought discrimination charges against each of the bakeries, asserting that they had discriminated against him because of his “creed” (that is, religion), which is a protected category under Colorado’s public accommodations non-discrimination law. Yet the Colorado Civil Rights Commission in Mr. Jack’s case found the bakeries not to have been guilty of discrimination—in direct contrast to the outcome for Masterpiece Cakeshop.

Mother Jones referred to Jack’s requests as a “stunt.” Jack himself admitted, according to World magazine, that he made the requests in response to the Masterpiece case, “to see if those charging discrimination against gays would care about discrimination against Christians.” He never indicated that the cakes were intended for a particular social event. On the other hand, even Mother Jones admitted such experiments

aren’t uncommon among activist groups of all political leanings seeking changes in the legal system. Civil rights organizations use testers, for instance, to see whether a landlord is refusing to rent to people of color or a car dealer is charging them higher interest on auto loans. Activists who use wheelchairs visit businesses to see whether their buildings comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, and file complaints if they don’t.

The point, of course, is not that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission should have punished the bakers who refused to make cakes for Mr. Jack with a message opposing same-sex marriage. Instead, it is the opposite. They should have allowed Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop the same freedom—to refuse cakes with messages to which he has a conscientious objection—that they allowed to the bakeries approached by William Jack.

The message William Jack requested on his cakes may have seemed unusual, odd, or even, yes, offensive to some. But Justice Kennedy warned that “it is not, as the Court has repeatedly held, the role of the State or its officials to prescribe what shall be offensive.”

William Jack did not get his cakes, but he did prove a point—possibly turning the tide of a Supreme Court case in the process.

The Freedom to Serve: Why Religious Adoption Agencies Must Be Protected

by Spenser White

June 19, 2018

Adoption and foster care agencies are the latest battle grounds of religious freedom in the United States today. A number of states have already passed legislation which would protect religiously motivated adoption agencies from being forced to place children with those who identify as LGBT. These bills are called Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Acts (CWPIA). Not surprisingly, CWPIAs have not passed through state legislatures without opposition. Opponents call them “needless”—but are they? Or are they necessary to ensure the survival of faith-based adoption agencies?

In 2006, Catholic Charities of Boston shocked the U.S. charity world when, on March 10, it announced it “plann[ed] to be in discussion with the Commonwealth [of Massachusetts] to end [its] work in adoption services.” They cited disagreement with the Massachusetts law which required the charity to violate its convictions on a child’s need for a mom and dad. Catholic teaching describes homosexual adoption as gravely immoral. The Archdiocese declared in a statement concerning the issue, “in spite of much effort and analysis, Catholic Charities of Boston finds that it cannot reconcile the teaching of the Church, which guides our work, and the statutes and regulations of the Commonwealth.”

This was one of the first situations that showed the dark underbelly of sexual orientation “non-discrimination” policies. Following the Archdiocese of Boston’s decision, Catholic Charities of D.C. was “informed…that the agency would be ineligible to serve as a foster care provider due to the impending D.C. same-sex marriage law.” Catholic Charities was forced into similar situations in southern Illinois and in San Francisco.

North Dakota became the first state to protect religious-based charities when, in 2003, it passed a law which states: “A child-placing agency is not required to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, facilitate, refer, or participate in a placement that violates the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.” In addition, the law also states that a state cannot deny a contract based on religion. These laws read similarly in the states that have passed them. Kansas, Alabama, Virginia, Michigan, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Texas have passed CWPIAs. Oklahoma is the newest state to pass a CWPIA on May 11, 2018.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution declares that “[g]overnment shall make no law respecting religion; or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” In forcing religious charities to choose between violating their religious beliefs or shutting down, the government is effectively prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

Under CWPIAs, no adoption agency is prohibited by the state from allowing anyone to adopt children, it only allows religious charities to uphold their religious belief that children need a mom and dad.  

There are an estimated 118,000 children in need of adoption in the United States right now. Limiting the number of adoption agencies is certainly not the best way to help them. The well-being of children should be paramount, and they should not be used as pawns in the culture war. Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Acts allow for religiously motivated charities to continue to operate and place children without violating their consciences, a freedom the government is required under the Constitution to protect.

Be sure to read FRC’s in-depth analysis on the importance of CWPIAs.

Spenser White is an intern at Family Research Council.

Social Conservative Review - June 18, 2018

by Daniel Hart

June 18, 2018

Dear Friends,

A recent study reveals that loneliness has now reached epidemic levels in the United States. In a survey of over 20,000 adults 18 and over, the numbers are staggering:

  • Nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone (46 percent) or left out (47 percent).
  • One in four Americans (27 percent) rarely or never feel as though there are people who really understand them.
  • Two in five Americans sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful (43 percent) and that they are isolated from others (43 percent).
  • One in five people report they rarely or never feel close to people (20 percent) or feel like there are people they can talk to (18 percent).
  • Americans who live with others are less likely to be lonely (average loneliness score of 43.5) compared to those who live alone (46.4). However, this does not apply to single parents/guardians (average loneliness score of 48.2) – even though they live with children, they are more likely to be lonely.
  • Only around half of Americans (53 percent) have meaningful in-person social interactions, such as having an extended conversation with a friend or spending quality time with family, on a daily basis.
  • Generation Z (adults ages 18-22) is the loneliest generation and claims to be in worse health than older generations.

Interestingly, the study notes that “Social media use alone is not a predictor of loneliness; respondents defined as very heavy users of social media have a loneliness score (43.5) that is not markedly different from the score of those who never use social media (41.7).” What is not being said here is that this statistic clearly indicates that increased social media use is affecting everyone, not just heavy users.

I witnessed a perfect example of this last night at a restaurant. At the booth next to my wife and I, a large family had wedged themselves into both sides of the table. Despite this perfect opportunity for a great evening of quality family time, I couldn’t help but notice that large periods of time went by with the family sitting in silence. Why? Because half of the people at the table had their faces buried in their phones, while the other family members stared off into space. Is it any wonder that half of the country is not having any meaningful conversations with anyone when the people they are trying to talk to are staring down at a screen?

This study should be a reminder to believers that we should always be ready and willing to give everyone we encounter our full attention, not just our family and friends. Phones and social media aren’t the only culprits here—often it is our own fear of looking abnormal that keeps us from spending a few moments talking with a homeless person on the street or our Uber driver. We must work on refocusing our priorities to giving everyone in our lives the time and attention they crave and rightfully deserve.

God created us to love and to be loved. We all need to be constantly reminded of the timeless adage: “It is good that you exist.” When we spend quality time with our family members and everyone else the Lord puts in our path, we reaffirm this basic truth and help to spread Christ’s Kingdom.

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

Christians can influence the world without being influenced – Tony Perkins

Women & Pornography – Patrina Mosley

Dismemberment Abortion – Patrina Mosley

Flocking to tend to our nation’s spiritual needs – Travis Weber

Planned Parenthood’s tax dollar gravy train just got derailed – Cathy Ruse

Imitating My Father – Dan Hart

Getting to Know Generation Z – Marion Mealor

Good But Not Great: Don’t Be Fooled by the Masterpiece Decision – Andrew Rock

Warning to Northern Ireland: Science Without Faith is Dead – Patrina Mosley

Masterpiece Cakeshop: How Can a 7-2 Supreme Court Decision Be “Narrow?” – Peter Sprigg

Politically Motivated Research Underestimates Risk of Suicide After Abortion – Martha Shuping

Masterpiece Cakeshop: Summary of Each Supreme Court Opinion – Peter Sprigg

The Ethical Imperative of Adult Stem Cell Research – Hannah Borchers

Supreme Court Protects Jack Phillips’ Rights, Tells Colorado: “Not So Fast” – Travis Weber

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Baker Who Declined to Make Same-Sex Wedding CakeNational Catholic Register

State Judge Sides with Christian Baker – Rodney Pelletier, Church Militant

Philadelphia Archdiocese sues city over foster care placements – Matthew Gambino, Crux

Valedictorian: “They Told Me I Had to Take Christ Out of My Speech” – ToddStarnes.com

A tall Christian cross stood in a Michigan park for nearly 70 years. Now it’s gone – Lisa Gutierrez, The Kansas City Star

Democrats introduce bill to counter Sen. Orrin Hatch’s religious freedom law – Dennis Romboy, Deseret News

Indiana high school accepts teacher’s resignation over transgender policy – Kathleen Joyce, Fox News

International Religious Freedom

Pence Meets Indonesia’s Top Muslim Leader After Church Attacks – Kate Shellnutt, Christianity

Today

Human rights disaster’: China’s persecution of Christians at highest level since Mao – Bradford Richardson, The Washington Times

Religious War Looms in Nigeria as Christian Body Count Climbs – Lela Gilbert, Newsmax

Canada’s top court rules against Christian law school: LGBT rights trump religious freedom – Lianne Laurence, LifeSiteNews

Police seizes 1,100 Bibles in China’s Shandong province – Madeeha Bakhsh, Christians in Pakistan

The Radical Forgiveness One Egyptian Mother Has for Her Son’s Murderers – Lindy Lowry, Open Doors

Several Iranian Christians to Serve Time in Prison – Jeffrey Cimmino, The Washington Free Beacon

International Religious Freedom Report for 2017U.S. Department of State

U.S. senator introduces bill for sanctions against Turkey – Hürriyet Daily News

 

Life

Abortion

What Happened When 3 Women Faced Deep Suffering Rather Than Abort Their Children – Maureen Mullarkey, The Federalist

The Silent Suffering of Fathers After Abortion – Victoria Robinson, The Daily Signal

President Trump to cut Planned Parenthood funding – Cassy Fiano, Live Action

Ireland votes to legalize abortion: ‘a tragedy of historic proportions’ – Claire Chretien, LifeSiteNews

Supreme Court Rejects Planned Parenthood Challenge to Arkansas Pro-Life Law That Could Close Two Abortion Clinics – Steven Ertelt, LifeNews

Girl with Down Syndrome stuns politicians with powerful speech about her ‘right to be alive’ – Jonathon Van Maren, LifeSiteNews

Pro-life commercial from Herbal Essences stirs up controversy – Nancy Flanders, Live Action

Adoption

Foster Care Fanaticism in Philadelphia – Darel E. Paul, First Things

3 Things We Learned While Waiting For Our Adopted Child – Kelly Cox, Her View From Home

I Chose Adoption For My Baby, But I Didn’t Let Go – Leah Outten, Her View From Home

Obamacare

Obamacare Is Shrinking the Individual Health Insurance Market – Edmund Haislmaier, The Daily Signal

Conservative groups, congressional Republicans appear poised for another try at ObamaCare repeal – Joseph Weber, Fox News

 

Family

Marriage

How to Build a Healthy Marriage With Authentic Communication – Michelle Habel, Focus on the Family

Five Myths About Fathers and Family – W. Bradford Wilcox, Family Studies

Baby Bust: Fertility is Declining the Most Among Minority Women – Lyman Stone, Family Studies

Here’s why it matters that Americans are having fewer children than ever before – Jeremy Carl, Fox News

Marriage Support Needs Time to Work – W. Bradford Wilcox, Family Studies

Couple with Down syndrome reveals secret to 23 years of wedded bliss – Cerith Gardiner, Aleteia

Grandpa’s 6 tips for a successful marriage – Jackie Pilossoph, Chicago Tribune

Natural Rights, God, and Marriage in the American Founding – Vincent Phillip Muñoz, Public Discourse

Economics/Education

The Left’s War Against Prosperity in Seattle – Jarrett Stepman, The Daily Signal

Faith/Character/Culture

The Importance of Dads in an Increasingly Fatherless America – Virginia Allen, The Daily Signal

On Father’s Day, Remember the Fatherless – Alysse ElHage, Family Studies

Thank You For Being a Dad Who Shows Up – Emily Solberg, Her View From Home

What Mothers Cannot Give to Their Sons – Anthony Esolen, Public Discourse

No, Amazon Tribes Should Not Be Allowed To Kill Their Children – John Daniel Davidson, The Federalist

What Anthony Bourdain Reveals About Living In The Age Of Loneliness – Ben Domenech, The Federalist

How Faith Communities Can Push Back the Darkness of Suicide – Emilie Kao, The Daily Signal

Human Sexuality

School Can Force Students to Share Bathrooms With Transgender Students, Federal Court Rules – Rachel del Guidice, The Daily Signal

San Diego Parents Pulling Their Kids From School Over Inappropriate Sex-Ed Curriculum – Grace Carr, The Daily Signal

The War Against Abstinence: Blockers, American Pie, and the Last Great Sexual Taboo – Daniel Ross Goodman, Public Discourse

The Dating Project’ movie offers a 101-level course in courtshipAleteia

Nearly 90 Percent of Public Opposed to Virginia County’s Sex Ed Changes – Rob Shimshock, The Daily Caller

Human Trafficking

DOJ Arrests 2,300 Alleged Child Pornographers And Sex Traffickers – Jacob Airey, The Daily Wire

Pornography

Radical Parenting – Protecting Our Kids from Pornography – GretaEskridge.com

Does Pornography Feed Sex Tourism? – Rose Brugger, Public Discourse

More Americans Say Pornography Is Morally Acceptable – Gallup

Porn Addict Says ‘Wrong Click Changed My Life’ as a Teen, Exposing Her to Abusive, Animal-Like Sex – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian Post

Imitating My Father

by Daniel Hart

June 15, 2018

Courtesy of State Library of Queensland

My one-and-a-half-year-old son imitates everything I do these days. “Hey, babes,” I said as I greeted my wife a number of weeks ago. “Hey babes,” he garbled from his high chair a few seconds later. When I left a garbage bag next to the front door one day, he toddled over to it and began attempting to tie the drawstrings together, just as he had seen me do minutes before. Now, to my amazement, he is feeding himself with a spoon. It brings me great joy to watch him carefully position the spoon in his fingers so that he can angle it correctly into his bowl and scoop up food, which he then brings to his mouth with remarkable control and efficiency. It’s as if he saw someone else doing the same thing.

To see my son constantly imitate me is thrilling, humbling, and a bit frightening all at once. It’s exhilarating to know that another human sees me as such an influential presence and role model—I’m excited by the prospect of passing on the passion I have for reading, music, sports, and the knowledge and love of our Father up above. At the same time, I’m realizing more and more the extent to which my words and actions can influence his behavior, which means I really do need to watch what I say and do.

As Father’s Day approaches, I’m reminded of all the ways I imitated my own father when I was growing up. I’ll never forget the Saturday he brought me along with him to the local rec center to play pickup basketball when I was around 10. I watched in awe and a little trepidation at how quickly the much larger men moved and passed the ball. I was soon thrown into the mix, and found myself panicking as I tried to keep up. “Stay between your man and the basket,” my dad said. I could tell by the way he played that he took pride in playing good defense. Something clicked for me after that, and I’ve loved playing basketball ever since.

Then there was the beautiful sunny day my dad first showed me how to swing a golf club in our front yard. He explained the proper grip to take, how far away to stand from the ball, how to bring the club back, and the appropriate motion to take on the downswing. As I imitated his golf swing for the first time, I remember a feeling of comfort come over me. Playing golf has been a natural fit and a great source of fulfilment for me from that day on. 

What I am most grateful to my father for is his determination to keep his Catholic faith central in his life. He always wore a dress shirt and tie on Sundays while a large percentage of other men wore jeans and t-shirts. During Mass, he would always sing out the hymns with passion, while many other men in neighboring pews would stand silently with seeming indifference. The reverence he showed during Mass always struck me—his head was often bowed forward, his eyes closed, and his hands clasped together. After the gospel was proclaimed and the congregation took their seats, he would often remain standing for a beat longer than everyone else, as if to take an extra moment to let Christ’s words soak into his soul. I could feel the devotion emanating from within him during Mass, and it rubbed off on me.

The car ride home from Mass would usually entail a heartfelt commentary from him about the priest’s homily. Countless conversations at home about the nature of faith and reflecting on the life of the Holy Family are some of my fondest memories. There were also numerous times that I recall him witnessing to friends and acquaintances who did not share his faith. This has always been something I have greatly admired in him—there was an energy and joy that his faith gave him that he did not want to contain, compelling him to share it with others. There was also fearlessness in the indifference he had to what others might have thought of him. Seeing him take his faith so seriously clearly made a great impression on me. I can see now that it was through my imitation of my father at a young age that I first began to make the Catholic faith my own.

Every father knows that they set an example for their children, but what they perhaps don’t know is how much of an impact they can actually have on them. Part of the reason for this is that it is easy for parents to underestimate how observant their children are, which I have discovered with surprise at my own son’s remarkable ability to imitate me. I doubt that my dad knew the extent to which I was watching him as I grew up. What I have noticed is that this is a common experience. I remember numerous occasions where my sister and I have related our experience of a childhood memory, to which my parents have responded, “Really? You remember that? I didn’t think you noticed” or “That’s funny—I don’t remember it that way!” I have also seen this same interaction happen with my friends and their parents. I have no doubt that when I am advanced in years and I listen to my son’s experiences of childhood, I will be blown away.

In the first verse of 1 Corinthians 11, Paul states plainly: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” For me, this is the perfect encapsulation of what authentic fatherhood should be. God created us in such a way that the father of a family is to be the image of Himself—God the Father. We see this in how a father and mother welcome a newborn child—with love. The first experience of God’s love that a newborn encounters is through the love of their father and mother. As Paul says, the model that fathers need to follow is Christ, the Incarnation of God Himself. But since Christ no longer physically walks the earth, His followers must imitate Him in order to allow His presence to abide in the world. Paul stood as an amazing model for Christ in the early Christian church, and his example was imitated by his followers, who were then imitated by their followers, and so the faith was passed down through the generations. This mission has been passed down to all Christian fathers today—to imitate Christ in order to lead by example for the good of their children and for the good of everyone they encounter.

Thank you, Dad, for your example of Christian manhood. Your witness of faith is something I hope to pass down to my own son, just as you did for me. Happy Father’s Day!

Getting to Know Generation Z

by Marion Mealor

June 14, 2018

For years, researchers have been studying the worldview of millennials and how it differs from the generations before them. More recently, however, a new generation that is just entering their college years is stepping into the spotlight and gaining attention—Generation Z.  Who are they? The simple answer is that they are the 60-70 million people born between 1999-2015 (ages 2-18), making them the second largest generation in America. The more complicated answer, however, encompasses the identity of the most ethnically diverse generation alive today. What is shaping them? What is their worldview? How can we lead them? Based on research conducted by the Barna Group in partnership with the Impact 360 Institute, Jonathan Morrow answers these questions at an FRC Speaker’s Series event yesterday in Washington, D.C.

As Gen Z is growing up, it is vital to know and understand what is shaping them and if they will carry on the cultural and moral trends that defined Millennials. David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, asks a very significant question, “Is it possible that many churches are preparing young Christians to face a world that no longer exists?” This is something we must recognize in order to equip Gen Z for the challenges they are sure to face. The percentage of people with a biblical worldview has been in evident decline with each generation, from the Baby Boomers to Gen Z. According to Morrow, only four percent of Generation Z have a biblical worldview, making them the “post Christian” generation. It is important to evaluate whether we are preparing our young people for the world we wish we lived in or the world that actually exists.

Jonathan Morrow, the Director of Cultural Engagement at the Impact 360 Institute, offers some essential mindset shifts needed for leading Generation Z. This generation does not remember a time without interactive screens, and they exemplify the pros and cons of being “digital natives.” Many in this generation need to learn more about how to form relationships with people and how to engage in face-to-face conversations. Today, many young people feel unequipped to defend their faith because they lack the training and knowledge to do so. Morrow pointed out the importance of allowing them to test what they believe by being challenging in their faith, which will give room for it to grow.

Too often, the data of our lives is compartmentalized into different boxes, but one of the best gifts we can give Gen Z is showing them how all these isolated parts work together. Our faith should not start and end when we go to church on Sunday, but instead be integrated into everything we do. One of the positive things about Gen Z is that they have a lot of empathy. Our job is to help them channel that in the direction of virtue. They need to know why they believe what they believe so they can take a stand of faith no matter what they may face. In short, Gen Z needs more connections, more challenge, more training, more integration, and more critical thinking.

Understanding Generation Z is critical if we want to serve, lead, influence, and equip this next generation. The majority of these young people are still heavily influenced by parents, friends, teachers, and churches. They are driven by the desire for success in schooling and careers, and one of the best ways to reach them is vocational discipleship. We can be an ally to this “next, next generation” and continue to direct them to a biblical worldview. In the words of Morrow, “Listen and be present.” For more information and to learn more about Generation Z, be sure to view FRC’s Speaker Series event with Jonathan Morrow.

Marion Mealor is an intern at Family Research Council.

Good But Not Great: Don’t Be Fooled by the Masterpiece Decision

by Andrew Rock

June 12, 2018

While it is wonderful that the Supreme Court gave Jack Phillips long-overdue justice in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado, the battle for religious liberty is far from over. The Court only held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s obvious bias against Phillips violated his right to a neutral decision maker. This means that future cases could undermine religious liberty so long as the decision makers appear neutral. What we need is a decision or a law that explicitly protects business owners like Jack Phillips, or better still, a repeal of misguided laws passed under the guise of “antidiscrimination.”

Jack Phillips runs Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, and in 2012, he refused to create a cake for the wedding of a same-sex couple. The couple complained to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, who sent the case to an Administrative Law Judge, who in turn found that Phillips had broken Colorado’s civil rights laws. The Supreme Court held that the Commission had violated Phillips’ rights under the First Amendment due to their blatant anti-faith bias.

The Commission brusquely dismissed Phillips’ arguments that his faith precluded him from endorsing a same-sex wedding without thoughtfully addressing their substance or nuance. One commission member went so far as to compare Phillips’ arguments for religious liberty to those of slave owners and people complicit in the Holocaust. In addition, the Commission granted exemptions to bakers who refused to bake cakes with Bible verses opposing homosexual behavior, holding that this was not unlawful discrimination. The Court held that the flagrant anti-faith bias shown in the Commission’s comments and decision-making invalidated its judgment in Phillips’ case, because the First Amendment requires the government to remain neutral on religious issues.

While it is good that the Court rebuked this blatant abuse of power, this decision does not bode well for future religious liberty cases. The Court merely held that someone like Phillips has the right to a hearing before a neutral decision maker, and if this occurs, outcomes in such cases “may well be different going forward.”

This means that the next case could go poorly for a Christian business owner, provided that the deciding body maintains a pretense of neutrality. If a court or commission can restrain themselves enough to avoid comparing ordinary Christians to slave-owners and Nazis, and then finds that their freedom of conscience subjects “gay persons to indignities,” (which is vague and subjective enough to mean just about anything), they could easily punish someone for refusing to participate in a same-sex wedding through cake or floral design, photography, or other creative service. This is poor precedent, as it leaves Christian businesses vulnerable to biased decisions by courts and commissions sly enough to conceal their prejudice when they apply laws such as Colorado’s.

Since a court that appears neutral could easily use these “antidiscrimination” laws to punish Christians who follow their conscience, religious freedom rights must be clarified in the context of these laws. Better yet, given the constant abuse of laws like Colorado’s to target anyone who disagrees with the politically correct orthodoxy, it would make sense to repeal them and avoid the problem entirely.

Jack Phillips received well-deserved relief in this case, and there is now clear precedent against open bias on the part of courts and commissions in similar instances. However, there is still an enormous risk that decision makers will simply stay quiet about their anti-Christian biases and continue to produce biased and skewed decisions based on current “antidiscrimination” laws. This means that we need to either craft protections in the context of these laws or repeal them outright.

Andrew Rock is a law student and an intern at Family Research Council.

Warning to Northern Ireland: Science Without Faith is Dead

by Patrina Mosley

June 11, 2018

On May 25th, the world turned its eyes to Ireland for a historic vote. For the first time ever, a nation’s populace democratically voted to take away protections of the God-given right to life of unborn children, which had been established in Irish law since 1861. Now the pressure is upon Northern Ireland to do the same—members of Parliament have called for an emergency debate to decriminalize abortion.

Although Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom, where abortion was legalized under The Abortion Act of 1967, that Act has not been extended to Northern Ireland as it has maintained its respect for life under their Offences Against the Person Act 1861. Opponents are seeking to repeal articles 58 and 59 of the Act which makes it a crime for any man or woman to procure or cause an abortion. This Act also covers other crimes such as “conspiracy to commit murder, manslaughter, assault and child abduction.”

Here’s what I would warn Northern Ireland about in the debate:

It’s hard to ignore the irony here—having a debate about whether a person should have a right to life as protected under the Offences Against the Person Act. What could possibly be more offensive to a person than killing them?

Abortion is not a “right” but a crime against humanity and denies what we already know in our natural consciences. Abortion is not “progress” as some have held in praise towards Ireland’s vote. Abortion is not a “woman’s right.” It is not “women’s healthcare.” Nor is it about “ women’s dignity,” as some have claimed. Abortion is the taking of innocent life for the convenience of another. There is no dignity in that.

Abortion does not make women’s lives better; it is often done because they don’t feel empowered to care for the child by their partners, parents, or community. Countless women have shared their experiences of how abortion has not made their lives better but only complicated it. Thousands of testimonies (see here and here), many anonymous, have been written by women who are left with the devastating psychological and emotional effects of abortion.

Emotional personal testimonies of women who had abortions due to physical ailments were shared during the debate, but according to the U.K.’s abortion statistics, less than one percent of abortions occur to save the life or health of the mother. Northern Ireland already has protections for instances like these when the physical or mental health or well-being of the mother is at risk. We should not use rare cases to justify the demand for the convenience of abortion.

Abortion is not progress, but instead permission to start a culture of death. Make no mistake, the legalization of abortion in the Western world has opened the door to the legalization of assisted suicide, the elimination of the weak or disabled in society, and so much more. It corrupts the value of life in all facets of society—look no further than the rampart mass shootings we’ve endured.

According to a recent Pew Research report, nearly 80 percent of Irish adults identify as Christians, but church attendance rates have decreased from 54 percent in 2002 to 36 percent in 2017. What Ireland has shown us is that a society can have all the facts and science in the world, but without faith, there is no moral compass. Anything goes. It would appear that science without faith is dead.

In the words of Alexis de Tocqueville: “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.” Northern Ireland, do not be deceived. I say it again, a disregard for life is not progress, but merely permission to start a culture of death.

More information on U.K. abortion statistics.

Keep up with live updates on the Northern Ireland abortion debate.

Masterpiece Cakeshop: How Can a 7-2 Supreme Court Decision Be “Narrow?”

by Peter Sprigg

June 8, 2018

On June 4, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a decision by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (upheld by Colorado courts) that had found baker Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop guilty of unlawful discrimination for declining to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The vote was 7-2—that is, seven justices voted to overturn the Colorado decision, while only two voted to uphold it.

The New York Times’ online story about the ruling carried the headline, “In Narrow Decision, Supreme Court Sides With Baker Who Turned Away Gay Couple.” The Washington Post editorialized, “The Supreme Court’s narrow ruling on a wedding cake is a step in the right direction.”

Subsequently, I noticed some people on social media (especially conservative friends) grousing about the description of the 7-2 decision as “narrow,” as though the liberal media was trying to downplay Jack Phillips’ decisive victory. So I thought I would offer a short explanation.

Masterpiece Cakeshop is being described as a “narrow” ruling not because of its margin, but because of its reasoning. Neither side in the case got everything that it wanted.

Those supporting Colorado, and supporting Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins (the same-sex couple who had requested a cake from Phillips), wanted a broad ruling that 1) Phillips violated Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act by discriminating against the couple on the basis of “sexual orientation; and 2) that no claim of religious freedom or free speech can excuse that statutory violation by a business that qualifies as a “public accommodation.” In the end, only two justices (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with Sonia Sotomayor joining her in dissent) adopted that view and considered it decisive.

Those supporting the baker Phillips, on the other hand, wanted a broad ruling that his rights to freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion, because they are fundamental rights under the U.S. Constitution, must take precedence over the statutory provisions of Colorado law. Yet the Court’s ruling in favor of the free exercise claim was a narrow one, and only two justices expressed support for the free speech claim as well (Clarence Thomas, with Neil Gorsuch joining his concurrence in the judgment).

(I should note as well that some key elements of the case remained in dispute. Phillips’ attorneys questioned whether the Anti-Discrimination Act even applied, arguing that Phillips did not, in fact, “discriminate” on the basis of “sexual orientation” at all, because he was happy to serve self-identified gay customers with products other than a wedding cake. Colorado’s attorneys questioned whether the First Amendment even applied, arguing that baking a cake cannot be considered a form of “speech” at all.)

Instead of clearly explaining that Jack Phillips’ has robust constitutional rights regarding the cakes he designs, the majority opinion found that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission simply didn’t behave well enough in this case, due to: (1) the hostility aimed specifically at his religious beliefs (evidenced in comments of the Commission), and (2) the different treatment the Commission gave a parallel case (one in which the Commission allowed bakeries to refuse to make cakes criticizing same-sex marriage). It was only because the Commission exhibited anti-religious bias in its proceedings against Jack Phillips that the Supreme Court threw out its ruling, on free exercise grounds. Justice Gorsuch also wrote a strong concurrence, joined by Justice Alito, elaborating on the strength of the free exercise claim here.

Although they joined the majority opinion, Justices Kagan and Breyer additionally wrote a concurrence explaining that their lukewarm support for Phillips was only based on the fact that he was treated really badly by members of the Commission in this case. They argued that the disparate treatment between the two bakery cases could have been justified, were it not for the overt anti-religious hostility exhibited by the Commission.

Justices Kennedy and Roberts—in writing and joining only the majority opinion, respectively—ruled in favor of Phillips, but not on the basis of a sweeping affirmation of his freedom of speech or of religion.

A definitive Supreme Court precedent, resolving the underlying dispute between “non-discrimination” principles and freedom of speech and religion, will have to await another case and another decision. That is why many are calling Masterpiece a “narrow” decision.

Politically Motivated Research Underestimates Risk of Suicide After Abortion

by Martha Shuping

June 8, 2018

A study published recently in the American Journal of Psychiatry online claims that abortion does not increase the risk of suicide. If only that were true. The study by M. Antonia Biggs and colleagues (which I will refer to as “the Biggs study”) used data from the University of California San Francisco’s Turnaway Study. But the results are very questionable because they are inconsistent with many other studies, and the final results of this study are based on only 18 percent of the original sample.

The Turnaway Study was intended to provide a comparison between women who aborted and those unable to obtain an abortion due to waiting to come to the clinic until the pregnancy was too advanced (past the limits for the clinic chosen, or for their state). But only 38 percent of eligible women consented to participate in the research, with 15 percent of those dropping out before the first interview (see study). With further dropouts over the five years of the study, only 18 percent of the original sample remained—even though women received a $50 gift certificate for each telephone interview (see study).

The low participation rate and the additional dropouts make the results questionable, because it is well known that the most distressed individuals are more likely to avoid participating. This has been reported in research on abortion and other reproductive losses, and in more general trauma research.*

The Biggs study concluded that rates of suicidal ideation were comparably low in women who obtained abortions and those who were refused abortions. The authors further conclude that their results show that state laws requiring informed consent about suicide risk should be scrapped as unnecessary. But we lack information on 82 percent of the women who either declined to participate or dropped out. The results may be meaningless if those women included those who were most distressed.

In addition, the Biggs study contradicts a large body of research on suicide and abortion. A study from Finland published in the British Medical Journal linked medical records to death certificates, showing that women having abortions had a 650 percent increased risk of suicide compared to women who gave birth.

One of the highest quality studies of abortion and mental health was done by Donald Sullins of the Catholic University of America in 2016 using data from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (“Add Health”) which was funded by 18 different federal agencies and which provided a nationally representative sample of 8,005 women, with 81 percent of the sample completing this 13-year longitudinal study. In his analysis, Sullins controlled for 13 different potential confounders, and showed increased suicidal ideation in the women who had abortions compared to those who completed pregnancies. In addition, Sullins showed that women having abortions had increased risk for a total of seven different mental health outcomes. The results were statistically significant.

The Biggs study is an outlier, giving results that are very different from the results of a number of high quality studies of suicide risk and abortion. The truth is, we have the words of actual women who have attempted or completed suicide. The British artist Emma Beck said in her 2007 suicide note: “I told everyone I didn’t want to do it, even at the hospital … now it is too late … I want to be with my babies.” The authors of the Biggs study show their political bias in their conclusion that women like Beck have no need to be warned about suicide risk before their abortion.

Martha Shuping, M.D., is a practicing psychiatrist who lives in Winston-Salem, N.C.

 

*Broen, A.N., Moum, T., Bødtker, A.S., & Ekeberg, Ø. (2005). The course of mental health after miscarriage and induced abortion: a longitudinal, five-year follow-up study. BMC Medicine, 3,18. doi: 10.1186/1741-7015-3-18. Retrieved from http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/3/18   

Shuping, M. (2016). Counterpoint: Long-lasting distress after abortion. In R. MacNair (Ed.), Peace Psychology Perspectives on Abortion. Kansas City: Feminism and Nonviolence Studies Association.

Weisaeth, L. (1989). Importance of high response rates in traumatic stress research. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica Supplementum, 355, 131-137.

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