Month Archives: November 2018

Must the State Recognize All Identities?

by Daniel Hart

November 9, 2018

A man in the Netherlands named Emile Ratelband is 69 years old, but he feels like he is 49. His feeling isn’t a particularly remarkable one—I think it’s safe to say that most of us don’t “feel” our ages depending on the day. But the problem is, Mr. Ratelband (pictured above) has filed a court claim seeking to have the Dutch government officially recognize his feelings of being young by changing his birth certificate to reflect the age that he feels himself to be.

Because nowadays, in Europe and in the United States, we are free people,” Ratelband said in an interview. “We can make our own decisions if we want to change our name, or if we want to change our gender. So I want to change my age. My feeling about my body and about my mind is that I’m about 40 or 45.”

Mr. Ratelband’s demand is the latest example of a remarkable trend that has taken hold in Western countries over the last decade. It is the insistence that the state give legal recognition to all lifestyle choices, a movement that I will call the “identity rights” movement. This modern movement arguably began in earnest around 2003 when homosexual activists demanded that the state give them marriage rights (which was legalized in Massachusetts that year), even though there was no prohibition against two people of the same sex living together in a domestic partnership if they wished. This movement culminated in 2015 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that all states must recognize same-sex marriage.

The transgender movement steamrolled into the public consciousness soon after, with activists demanding that those who identify as the opposite sex from their biological sex at birth be given access to opposite sex public restrooms, changed birth certificates, and participation in opposite sex sports.

Also in 2015, a woman named Rachel Dolezal gained national attention when it was discovered that she had been posing as a black woman for years, even serving as the president of her local NAACP chapter, but in reality did not have any African ancestry. Even though her cause was not widely supported by the identity rights movement, Dolezal was simply following the same logic: if people can get state recognition to be the opposite sex from what they actually are, why can’t they also choose their ethnicity? Even U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) seems to think along these lines.

In an identity-obsessed world, Emile Ratelband’s demand for the state to publicly lie about his actual age doesn’t seem that unreasonable, which is why no one should be surprised if the Dutch court agrees to grant his request. But it raises the question: how far can this go? Where will society draw the line? Currently, it doesn’t seem far-fetched to foresee a day when people will be able to legally declare themselves to be taller than they actually are, or to be whatever animal they want to be. To follow this line of legal logic to its inevitable end is to grant people any conceivable identity that they can conjure up.

But what the identity rights movement doesn’t acknowledge is that when the state grants legal recognition to a person’s chosen identity, it affects the rights of others. Ask Jack Phillips, or Barronelle Stutzman, or Pascha Thomas. The list goes on and on.

At its root, the identity rights movement is a cry for the deepest human need: to be loved. When people publicly identify themselves as something they are not, they are crying out for what is tragically lacking in their lives through no fault of their own. As human beings, lovingly created in God’s image, it is our divine calling to love each other as best we possibly can, starting first and foremost with our own families. It is impossible for this kind of authentic love to be bestowed by the state. This is why the identity movement’s demand for state recognition of all identities is an ultimately futile endeavor—it’s never going to give them the affirmation that they are truly searching for.

In this age of an ascendant identity movement and the domination of identity politics, it is crucial for all believers to witness to this timeless truth: that God does not make mistakes. The way that we are created tells us something about who we are. We never have to seek the approval of others to know how much we matter. We have all been loved into being by the Creator of the universe—that is the only identity that truly matters.

The Times En-“genders” Controversy with Ignorance of “Sex”

by Peter Sprigg

November 5, 2018

When I was a college student in the New York metropolitan area, I subscribed to the New York Times. For a while, I even set the goal of reading every article that appeared on the front page, no matter what it was about. I thought if it was important enough to be on the front page of the New York Times, it was important enough for me to read it. It was known, after all, as “the paper of record.”

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. On October 22, the Times published—on the front page—one of the worst-written, worst-edited newspaper articles I have ever read.

The article begins, “The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth . . .”

The fake news begins with the eighth word of the article—“gender.” It is simply untrue that the Trump administration is re-examining the definition of “gender.”

What is actually under consideration is the definition of the word “sex”—particularly where it appears in a law or policy that forbids discrimination on the basis of “sex.”

This is evident in the parts of the article that quote or directly cite a draft memo leaked to the Times from the Department of Health and Human Services, such as these (emphasis added):

  • Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” the department proposed in the memo . . .
  • The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”
  • For the last year, the Department of Health and Human Services has privately argued that the term “sex” was never meant to include gender identity . . .

Despite this evidence from their own reporting, the Times reporters continued throughout the article to use the word “gender” instead. For example (emphasis added):

  • The department argued in its memo that key government agencies needed to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender . . .
  • The agencies would consider the comments before issuing final rules with the force of law — both of which could include the new gender definition.
  • The department would have to decide what documentation schools would be required to collect to determine or codify gender.

What’s wrong with this? Well, the very people who were stirred to outrage against the Trump administration by the Times article—transgender activists and their allies—are the ones who have been telling us for years that gender is not the same as sex! Yet the New York Times breezily assumes that the two words are synonymous. This mistake would not be tolerated in the average undergraduate term paper—yet somehow it slipped by the editors of the New York Times.

Unless it didn’t slip by at all.

In reality, there is little dispute that the word “sex” refers to biology. The American Psychiatric Association, for example—hardly a bastion of conservatism—defines “sex” as “Biological indication of male and female (understood in the context of reproductive capacity) …” Nor is there any dispute (even among conservatives) that the phrase “gender identity” commonly refers to a subjective, psychological state of, as the APA puts it, “an individual’s identification as male, female or, occasionally, some category other than male or female.”

The word “gender” standing alone, however, is ambiguous and contested ground. It has come to be used as a reference to someone’s essential “maleness” or “femaleness.” The cultural and social debate is about whether that is determined by a person’s objective “sex” (biology) or their subjective “gender identity” (psychology).

However, this debate is largely irrelevant in interpreting and applying current federal law—which is what the Times article was ostensibly about. Few federal laws or regulations even use the word “gender.” The key ones mentioned in the article—non-discrimination provisions in statutes regarding education (Title IX, 1972), employment (Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act), and health care (the Obamacare law)—all use the word “sex,” not “gender.”

If the Times’ unjustified conflation of the words “sex” and “gender” did not arise from incomprehensible ignorance, it can only have arisen from inexcusable bias. Acting as though the clear-cut term “sex” is the same as the ambiguous term “gender” seriously tilts the playing field in favor of the Left’s preference for psychological rather than biological definitions. It assumes the very point that is in dispute.

This is bad logic—as well as bad journalism.

Notre Dame Students Take a Stand Against Porn

by Patrina Mosley

November 2, 2018

Recent studies have shown that young adults aged 18-24 are the most frequent porn users—almost six in 10 young adults seek out porn either daily, weekly, or monthly. It’s no wonder why students at the University of Notre Dome are calling for pornography filters on their campus Wi-Fi as part of a “White Ribbon Against Pornography Week” campaign created by NCOSE. The original request came from the male students in a letter emphasizing that “pornography is an affront to human rights and catastrophic to individuals and relationships. We are calling for this action in order to stand up for the dignity of all people, especially women.”

We applaud these men for showing concern for the well-being of their female peers and their own sexual health.

Women and Pornography

What is unique about this story is that after the males issued their letter, the female students stood in solidarity by issuing their own response letter acknowledging that pornography consumption correlates to sexual assault and that women themselves struggle with pornography addiction:

We want a filter because we want to eliminate sexual assault and sexual abuse on our campus. We want a filter because we care deeply about Notre Dame students — including women — who struggle with pornography addictions.

To some, it may be shocking to see that pornography can no longer be labeled as just a man’s issue. With 76 percent of 18 to 30-year-old women reporting that they watch porn at least once a month, and with the term “porn for women” seeing a 359 percent growth among female users in just one year, pornography can no longer be siloed to one sex.

By and large, men prefer images and graphic sex sites; women prefer erotic stories and romance sites. The connection between erotic materials and women seeking online porn makes sense when the erotica genre generated $1.37 billion in sales, making it the “the single largest share of the fiction market,” with over 90 percent of the consumers being women. Female-targeted erotica novel series like Fifty Shades of Grey are being turned into movies (the film grossed over $1.3 billion). In a recent Marie Claire survey of 3,000 women who sought out internet porn, 40 percent said they sought erotic stories. Erotica has proven to be a gateway to more “hardcore” content, which has led to a rise in women consuming this type of pornography.

And when it comes to curbing sexual assault and harassment, these ladies are right for wanting to curtail the consumption of pornography.

A recent review found 50 peer-reviewed studies directly linking porn use to sexual violence. Pornography also has been shown to play a role in shaping how women think they should be treated, leading to an increased likelihood that they will become victims of sexual assault by physical coercion or other abusive behavior. When you have nearly 80 percent of adult males consuming pornography, of which 88 percent of pornographic scenes are sexually violent against women, how do you think this will affect sexual behavior? In the era of #MeToo, we must look seriously at how pornography is shaping our cultural beliefs about what is acceptable behavior. 

Moral Ambiguity is Dissolving

The latest Barna research shows that just one in 20 young adults report talking with their friends about porn in a disapproving way.

But the evidence of its harmful effects are being brought to light. Much of the Notre Dame students’ letter cites the studies that acknowledge that pornography consumption is “associated with a host of issues: addiction, child sexual abuse, divorce, male fertility problems, sexual assault and the acceptance, normalization and sexualization of cruelty towards women. It contributes to prostitution, human trafficking and the proliferation of sexually transmitted diseases.” I encourage you to read the full letter.

Yet many do not want to debate the morality of pornography. They would rather ignore the fact that this generation has been the primary subject of what has been dubbed “The Largest Unregulated Social Experiment In History.” Recognizing among their own personal relationships that pornography harms both the individual and society, buyer’s remorse on porn is slowly growing. Its devastating effects are being studied and recognized.

A Public Health Crisis

Pornography has been officially declared a public health crisis in five states, and the U.K. Parliament has been called upon to address pornography usage like other public health hazards in order to tackle sexual harassment of girls and women.

Society now warns potential users of the addictive harms of nicotine. Hopefully one day we will see  pornography in the same way.

Social Conservative Review - November 1, 2018

by Daniel Hart

November 1, 2018

Dear Friends,

As our country grapples with yet another senseless, brutal, and evil act of violence, this time perpetrated against Jews worshipping in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, the media is predictably churning out an avalanche of breathless accounts of who is to blame. Our collective energy as a nation would be much more valuably spent in reflection and prayer.

In the aftermath of such horrendous violence being perpetrated by one human being against fellow human beings, many rightly ask: how could someone do this? Only God knows the full answer to this question, but we can be certain of one thing: the attacker lacked empathy for his fellow man. Therefore, it is critical that our society spend more time pondering the concept of empathy, and increasingly put it into practice in our daily lives.

Empathy is the mental practice of putting oneself in the shoes of another in order to better understand what life must be like for that person. This practice seems relatively straightforward, but for most of us, it is difficult to do, because we human beings have a fallen natural tendency for selfishness and snap judgments. Just like everything else in life that is difficult yet worthwhile, we must work at practicing empathy. When we witness behavior from a person that we consider offensive, we must refrain from stereotyping the person based on their outward appearance. Similarly, we must refrain from making rash generalizations about groups of people based on ethnicity, religion, political views, etc. Instead, we must seek to better understand other people and avoid instant judgments of character.

When thinking about the actions and motivations of others, we must take into account a whole host of information before we can come to any fair conclusions. For the person in question, we must ask ourselves: What is the broader culture like where this person came from and how were they influenced by it? How was this person raised by their parents? Were they mistreated or abused as a child? What beliefs were taught to them growing up? And on and on. Obviously, we can’t know the answers to many of these questions without either research or first-hand knowledge. But we must make the effort so that we can better understand the reasons behind particular actions or words, and thereby have a better capacity for true empathy.

Jesus displayed empathy all over Scripture. When coming upon Matthew, a tax collector who was widely reviled, Jesus did not judge him by his place in society or apparent misdeeds of extortion. He saw the goodness in Matthew and his need for salvation, and invited him to become a disciple (Matthew 9:9). Similarly, rather than condemning the woman caught in adultery, Jesus rebuked those who were condemning her and invited her to “go, and sin no more” (John 8:1-11). All over Scripture, Jesus is said to have spent time in the company of sinners, which the Pharisees reviled Him for. Jesus displays a crucial trait here: His first instinct is mercy rather than condemnation, which shows that He empathizes with those He meets and responds to them with love.

We are called to do likewise. The more we make empathy our first reaction, the better chance we have of making it a habit rather than falling into the bad habit of snap judgments. When we fail to empathize with others, and instead burrow down the rabbit hole of stereotypes and prejudice based on outward appearances, the more we are prone to hate and dehumanize other people. The more we see others with empathetic eyes, as Christ did, the more we will grow in love and the more our world will flourish in peace and unity.

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

We Must Turn to God to Find Healing, Unity and Restoration – Tony Perkins

HHS should put a stop to ObamaCare’s hidden abortion surcharge – Marjorie Dannenfelser and Tony Perkins

Trump transgender policy is simple and scientific: ‘Sex’ means biological sex – Peter Sprigg

Why Evangelicals Will Vote (It’s Not What You Think) – Tony Perkins

The Attack on Faith-Based Adoption Agencies – David Closson

Pastor Brunson’s Release: A View From the Courtroom – Travis Weber

Pastor Andrew Brunson’s release illustrates power and potential of Trump’s foreign policy – Tony Perkins

Pray Tell: Atheist Sues to Lead Legislative Prayer – Alexandra McPhee

Ala. Supreme Court Justice: Roe Cuts Off the Unborn’s Full Right to Life – Alexandra McPhee

The Gosnell Story: America Deserves to Know – Alyssa Grasinski

How Shall We Engage Politically? A Response to Tim Keller and Kevin DeYoung – David Closson

Christianity’s Blessings to Society – Travis Weber

Pro-Life Law Upheld By Another Federal Court: Dare We Say “Momentum”? – Cathy Ruse

Our Moralized Social Tyranny and What Conservatives Can Do About It – Caleb Sutherlin

Our Gifts Received through Child Loss – Katy Downey

Atlanta’s Kelvin Cochran Settles the Score – Alexandra McPhee

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

School Bans Christmas Songs That Mention Jesus – ToddStarnes.com

Gosnell’ Filmmakers: Theaters Dropping Movie, Preventing People From Buying Tickets – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian Post

Bakers Fined $135K Over Wedding Cake Appeal to Supreme Court – Kelsey Harkness, The Daily Signal

Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop Asks Court to Halt New Civil Rights Prosecution – Kevin Daley, The Daily Caller

ABC, NBC, CBS Ignore GOP Candidates Allegedly Assaulted by Left-Wing ‘Protesters’ – Kristine Marsh, NewsBusters

Atheists Put an End to Police Prayer Vigils, but Fail to Stop ‘Pastors on Patrol’ – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post

School Bans Christian Athletes From Meeting on Campus – Jeremiah Poff, ToddStarnes.com

Faith-Based Adoption Agencies Are Under Siege in the US – Emily Jones, CBN News

Lawsuit challenges tax perks available to America’s pastors – Kelsey Dallas, Deseret News

Pensacola cross: Does Kavanaugh’s rise change the stakes? – Alabama.com

International Religious Freedom

China Must End Its Campaign of Religious Persecution – Sen. Chuck Grassley, Politico

The Secret and Surprising Ways Christians Worship in North Korea – Lindy Lowry, Open Doors USA

Asia Bibi: Pakistan acquits Christian woman on death rowBBC News

Oxford Students Vote to Ban Christian Group Over LGBT Claims of ‘Threat to Physical, Mental Safety’ – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian Post

Turkey Arrests Another Pastor Just Days after Pastor Brunson is Released – Kayla Koslosky, ChristianHeadlines.com

Big Victory for Medical Conscience in Norway – Wesley J. Smith, National Review

Imprisoned Iranian Pastor Got Help From Unlikely Source to Spread Gospel – Mark Ellis, The Christian Post

American missionary shot and killed in ‘targeted’ attack weeks after moving family to Cameroon – Lucia I. Suarez Sang, Fox News

Over 20 Chinese Christians Arrested for Sharing Gospel, Holding Public Worship Service – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post

 

Life

Abortion

Alabama top court judge urges Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade – Gualberto Garcia Jones, LifeSiteNews

Nearly 60% of Millennials consider abortion a sin: new poll – James Risdon, LifeSiteNews

Abortion has been decriminalised in QueenslandSBS News

NIH Spends $13.5 Million on Aborted Baby Parts to Transplant Their Brain Tissue Into Mice – Micaiah Bilger, LifeNews

Is It Possible to Be an Anti-Abortion Democrat? One Woman Tried to Find Out – Sabrina Tavernise, The New York Times

65-year-old pro-lifer in hospital after being punched outside Florida Planned Parenthood – Calvin Freiburger, LifeNews

Abortion pills now available by mail in US — but FDA is investigating – Jessica Ravitz, CNN

Watching ‘Gosnell’ Shattered My Agnosticism On Abortion – Adam Mill, The Federalist

Adoption

After two generations of adoption, family finds incredible way to give back – Anna Reynolds, Live Action

Why adoption isn’t Plan A or B – Jenn Hesse, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Parents told they cannot do foster care due to Christian beliefs – The Bridgehead

Bioethics

The Dangerous Effects of Surrogacy: A Review of A Transnational Feminist View of Surrogacy Biomarkets in India – K. Blaine, Public Discourse

 

Family

Marriage

Love Has A Source – Fr. Billy Swan, Word on Fire

How All Relationships Prepare Us For MarriageVerily

Premarital Cohabitation Is Still Associated With Greater Odds of Divorce – Scott Stanley, Family Studies

Dear Husband, Having Kids Together Has Only Made Me Love You More – Celeste, HerViewFromHome

Why Does Graduate School Kill So Many Marriages? – Kathryn R. Wedemeyer-Strombel, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Does Sexual History Affect Marital Happiness? – Nicholas H. Wolfinger, Family Studies

Parenting

Your Kids Are Not Projects or Burdens. They Are Gifts. – Cameron Cole, The Gospel Coalition

Getting Your Kids to Really Listen – Justin Coulson, Family Studies

Why it’s important to teach modern kids to “mind their manners” – Calah Alexander, Aleteia

Helping Low-Income Fathers Form Loving Relationships With Their Children – Natasha J. Cabrera, Family Studies

Silicon Valley Execs Get Your Kids Hooked On Their Gadgets, But Not Their Kids – Jessica Burke, The Federalist

Economics/Education

The Family Geography of the American Dream: New Neighborhood Data on Single Parenthood, Prisons, and Poverty – W. Bradford Wilcox, Family Studies

From the Great Recession to the Great Divide: Business and Economics in the Last Decade – Kelly Hanlon, Public Discourse

Tax-Cut Repeal Could Cost Americans $27K in Pay Over 10 Years, Study Says – Rachel del Guidice, The Daily Signal

Why America desperately needs another baby boom – Steven W. Mosher, New York Post

How Public Schools Indoctrinate Kids Without Almost Anyone Noticing – Auguste Meyrat, The Federalist

Faith/Character/Culture

The Joy We Know Only in Suffering – Marshall Segal, Desiring God

Where Is God? The Problem of Divine Hiddenness – Matt Nelson, Word on Fire

What Makes a Woman Strong – Kathleen Nielson, Desiring God

Rage Makes You Stupid – Kevin D. Williamson, National Review

Human Dignity Is Not a Political Platform – Tina Boesch, The Gospel Coalition

Are Siblings More Important Than Parents? – Ben Healy, The Atlantic

Human Sexuality

The Future of American Sexuality and Family: Five Key Trends – Mark Regnerus, Public Discourse

Satisfied in the Arms of Another – Christopher Asmus, Desiring God

Video: Understanding Sexual Exploitation – What Drives Our Objectification Culture? – Lisa L. Thompson, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Transing California Foster Children & Why Doctors Like Us Opposed It – Andre Van Mol, Public Discourse

The new taboo: More people regret sex change and want to ‘detransition’, surgeon says – Joe Shute, The Telegraph

Did Transgenderism End Political Correctness? – Jacob Airey, The Daily Wire

On Sex, the Trump Administration Returns to Reality and the Law – Ben Shapiro, National Review

Teacher Faces Punishment Over Objections to Girls Taking Showers With Boys – ToddStarnes.com

Trump’s Proposed Rollback of Transgender Policy Is Good News for Many Who Are Suffering – Walt Heyer, The Daily Signal

Pornography

How Pornography Prevents Intimacy in Your Marriage – Jonathan Daugherty, Focus on the Family

Porn problem is so serious that British MPs want to address it with public health campaign – James Risdon, LifeSiteNews

Beating the Odds: 10 indicators your marriage will survive porn addiction – Rob Jackson, Focus on the Family

Nepal Bans Pornography to Stem High Rate of Sexual AssaultNational Catholic Register

Pray Tell: Atheist Sues to Lead Legislative Prayer

by Alexandra McPhee

November 1, 2018

In a peculiar turn of events, secularist organization Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has argued before a federal appeals court that an atheist has the right to pray on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Dan Barker, co-founder of FFRF, desired to serve as Rep. Mark Pocan’s (D-Wis.) guest in leading the opening prayer for the following legislative session. Barker is an atheist. His request was denied because it was determined that he did not meet the chaplain-policy requirements to give an invocation on the House floor. His lawsuit argues that the policy unconstitutionally discriminates against nonbelievers under the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution.

It is ironic and hypocritical that the group that routinely seeks to box out religion from the public square is now invoking the principles of religious freedom in order to make a secular invocation in our national legislature.

This anomaly notwithstanding, the greater issue is that the current judicial precedent surrounding the Establishment Clause is so malleable (one federal circuit court judge called it “a hot mess” and “a wreck”) that even something as unobtrusive as prayer is no longer guaranteed protection in the public square. Coach Joe Kennedy of Washington is one example, and there are many more like him across the nation.

As the late Justice Antonin Scalia observed, 1970s-era Establishment Clause doctrine has created a “geometry of crooked lines and wavering shapes” in this area of constitutional law. So what should we expect out of the judges responsible for interpreting constitutional law at our nation’s highest court and in lower courts across the country?

To establish sound Establishment Clause (or any constitutional) doctrine, the most intellectually honest and sustainable approach is to look to the understanding of the Founders at the time they penned and ratified the U.S. Constitution. This means looking at history. As the U.S. Supreme Court once said, “The line we must draw between the permissible and the impermissible is one which accords with history and faithfully reflects the understanding of the Founding Fathers.” This idea of looking at the understanding of the drafters of any law is as true for the latest entry of the U.S. Code as it is for the First Amendment.

Barker’s case involves legislative prayer, which is specially recognized for its undeniable historical precedent. In fact, legislative prayer, or “divine service,” has taken place as early as the 1700s. Largely because of its deep roots in history, legislative prayer is considered constitutional. It is an instructive example of how the courts have used and should use legal history to determine the constitutionality of religion in the public square. Unfortunately, the same is not true for judicial precedent surrounding religiously inspired monuments or certain tax exemptions, which some argue should fail constitutional muster under the Establishment Clause.

Fortunately, scholars have observed a resurgence in the role of legal history in modern judicial decision-making at the Supreme Court. What’s more, President Donald Trump’s laser-like focus on the appointment of judges has resulted in “appointees [that] are showing themselves to be strong spokespeople for what is generally described as the conservative viewpoint.” As such, law professor Arthur Hellman of the University of Pittsburgh said, “[n]ew blood reopens old issues.” And even though this use of legal history, or “originalism,” has become associated with “the conservative viewpoint,” the fact is that it is “ideologically neutral. On various stormy issues, both the conservative and liberal factions . . . have found safe harbor in historical reasoning.” What all this means is stable judicial precedent—not the confusion that exists today.

As with the doctrine of legislative prayer, we need to return to our legal historical roots and use what we find there as our guiding principles for understanding the constitutionality of religion in the public square.

Moreover, with mid-term elections on the horizon, it is critical that we vote in U.S. Senators who will help appoint judges that protect our constitutional rights. Our Republican-controlled Senate has faithfully stewarded its advice-and-consent powers by helping appoint judges who value historical reasoning. We ought to vote for candidates who will continue this trend.

Public prayer in schools and the government workplace, for instance, is more constitutional than it’s given credit for. You can feel assured in this by looking no further than Article III of the Northwest Territory Ordinance of 1787, in which the Founding-era Congress stated, “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

As for Barker and his legislative prayer case—we’ll have to see whether the judges in his case conclude that history is on his side.

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