FRC Blog

Foster Parenting and Adoption: Answering God’s Call to Love

by Kathy Athearn

October 31, 2017

November is National Adoption Month. To recognize this important issue, we will be publishing personal adoption testimonies over the next four weeks.

Did you know that there are thousands of children and youth in foster care who are waiting for permanent, loving families? For most of us, we can’t imagine what life would be like if we hadn’t grown up with the love, protection, and guidance of our families. God created us to be in a family. 

So how can we, as a church and as caring communities, help children that are waiting for families? We can open our hearts and minds to what the Lord wants us to do. Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving our neighbors as ourselves includes helping orphans. Consider fostering children to show them God’s love. You can also consider being a family that provides respite care for foster families. In addition, you can provide clothing and toys to foster families or meals during their times of transition. Finally, providing words of encouragement and praying for foster families is extremely helpful.

To help you picture what fostering a child is like, I would like to share my family’s personal experience. My husband Mike and I have been licensed for foster care since the summer of 2013. We are currently waiting to receive a call to foster a girl between the ages of five and seven. However, this will not be our first foster child. Our first foster care experience began four years ago.

There is an eight-month-old girl who needs a placement today. Are you interested?” Not much more information was given to me on July 12, 2013. My heart and mind were racing. I was excited to talk to my husband, Mike, but I wasn’t able to get ahold of him at work.  (We had been licensed to foster a child between newborn and five years of age.) The social worker needed an answer as soon as possible. So I called her back, telling her I knew that Mike would say “yes.” Shortly afterwards, I got ahold of Mike and we met each other at the agency’s transition home where the social worker and baby girl were waiting for us. 

When I saw little Nazarene sleeping so peacefully, it was hard for me to imagine her circumstances being so bad that she had to be removed from her mother’s custody during the night. She was sleeping so soundly that I questioned waking her, but I wanted to comfort her. So I picked her up and held her tight. She was beautiful and innocent. This was the beginning of our family’s relationship with Nazarene and a long road of unknowns. 

Foster parenting requires flexibility and patience. If we didn’t believe that our Heavenly Father is sovereign and in control, it would have been much more difficult. 1 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” We had to trust God’s plan as we took Nazarene to visit her mom on a weekly basis for two years, and wonder if she would go back to her mom who was dealing with severe mental and family problems, or if we would eventually be able to adopt her.

Finally, in January 2016 our family adopted little Nazarene. We gave her a new middle name, “Faith.” The love that Mike, Joy (age 12), Lydia (age 10), our extended family, and I have for Nazarene is indescribable. We love her profoundly and pray that she will one day know how much her Heavenly Father loves her—sending his Son to die for her.

In addition, thankfully, we have a good relationship with Nazarene’s birth mom—e-mailing her pictures of our little girl and meeting her twice a year. Our prayer is that she, too, will realize how much God loves her. 

If you feel God opening your heart and your home to a foster child, please contact a local agency that can answer your questions and provide you with additional information. Here are some links to help get you started:

[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8a)

Kathy Athearn is Correspondence Writer at Family Research Council.

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Vice President Pence Announces Relief for Middle East Christians

by Travis Weber

October 27, 2017

Several days ago, Vice President Pence announced that the Trump administration would address the needs of the Middle East’s Christian community directly, bypassing UN aid programs which have been largely ineffective in helping Christians affected by ISIS. Speaking before a gathering of the group In Defense of Christians, Pence stated:

Here’s the sad reality: The United Nations claims that more than 160 projects are in Christian areas, but for a third of those projects, there are no Christians to help. The believers in Nineveh, Iraq, have had less than 2 percent of their housing needs addressed, and the majority of Christians and Yazidis remain in shelters.

Projects that are supposedly marked “finished” have little more than a U.N. flag hung outside an unusable building, in many cases a school.

And while faith-based groups with proven track records and deep roots in these communities are more than willing to assist, the United Nations too often denies their funding requests. My friends, those days are over.

Our fellow Christians and all who are persecuted in the Middle East should not have to rely on multinational institutions when America can help them directly. And tonight, it is my privilege to announce that President Trump has ordered the State Department to stop funding ineffective relief efforts at the United Nations. And from this day forward, America will provide support directly to persecuted communities through USAID.

We will no longer rely on the United Nations alone to assist persecuted Christians and minorities in the wake of genocide and the atrocities of terrorist groups. The United States will work hand-in-hand from this day forward with faith-based groups and private organizations to help those who are persecuted for their faith.

This is good news indeed. While much of the focus in the Middle East has been on defeating ISIS, communities left devastated in its wake will need to rebuild and try to get on with their lives. For the Middle East’s Christian community, politically less powerful than other communities and often without a voice or advocate in the region’s larger decision-making, this is especially important. For too long, they haven’t received proper assistance in returning to their ancestral lands (the same lands the first Christians walked nearly 2,000 years ago), even while Iran and other power players try to come in and ply their influence in the vacuum created by ISIS’s defeat.

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Georgetown University’s Identity Crisis

by Kelly Marcum

October 27, 2017

In today’s bitter and vitriolic political climate, there are few labels more intellectually lazy than “hate group.” When you label an entity as a “hate group,” you automatically demonize it. In so doing, you immediately remove from your shoulders any mantle of responsibility to dialogue or engage in civil discourse with this denounced entity. “They” are haters and must be sacrificed at the altar of tolerance without any further question.

This cowardly melodrama is currently playing out at our nation’s oldest Catholic university, where a student group has come under attack for taking the allegedly “hateful” position that Christianity got it right when it said sexual relations were meant for marriage, and that marriage was meant to be between a man and woman.

Students at Georgetown University founded Love Saxa, an affiliate of the Love & Fidelity Network, because they saw a gaping void on campus. In the face of the ubiquitous hookup culture, widespread pornography usage, increasing sexual assaults, and attacks on the institution of marriage, Love Saxa sought to be a voice that would argue for the cultivation of healthy relationships, the repossession of sexual integrity, and the defense of traditional marriage.

Love Saxa’s position is not a popular one, particularly on a D.C. campus of politically active millennials. But one would hope that its place at a Catholic university, even one so liberal as Georgetown, would provide some level of security.

Alas, however, when the utter complacency of the Georgetown University administration is combined with the insatiable appetite of social justice warriors, no strand of orthodox Christianity can be left unthreatened.

On Monday, members of Georgetown’s Pride group filed a petition to sanction Love Saxa and strip it of its university funding and ability to operate on campus. Several days earlier, the editorial board of Georgetown’s student paper The Hoya—whose staff clearly hold up CNN and The New York Times as paragons of journalistic integrity—penned an op-ed accusing Love Saxa of fostering hostility and intolerance because of their commitment to the Christian view of procreative marriage.

The authors of the article at least recognize that Love Saxa’s mission statement is in line with the Catholic Church’s view of marriage and sexuality; however, their faculties of logic fail them when they go on to claim that despite upholding the same faith as their university, Love Saxa is violating the university’s code of conduct by arguing against same-sex marriage.

But then, logic and rationality needn’t play a large role when one can simply bandy about “hate group” terminology. The Left’s modus operandi appears to be to toss out words like “intolerant” and “dehumanizing” alongside a few accusations of “hostility” and “bigotry” and hope that in the subsequent maelstrom of indignant outcries, no one notices the utter lack of coherency in their position.

Unfortunately, their ploy has proven successful far too frequently. Even now, in the face of this sham of a petition, Georgetown’s official statement is predictably weak, and they even appear to be giving a semblance of credence to the calls to silence Love Saxa:

As a Catholic and Jesuit institution, Georgetown listens deeply and discerningly to the plurality of voices that exist among our students, faculty, and staff and is committed to the care of each member of our community,” Rachel Pugh, a university spokesperson, said.

Pugh provides no further clarification of how the school will deal with a “plurality of voices” when only one voice is defending the faith it purports to believe. G.K. Chesterton wrote that “tolerance is the virtue of the man without conviction,” and, speaking as a Georgetown alumnae and a founding board member of Love Saxa, it is unfortunate—though I confess not entirely unexpected—that Georgetown is once again revealing the tepidity of its own commitment to Catholicism, and choosing the “tolerant” path over that of conviction.

Perhaps they think doing so will quiet the liberal voices calling for the disbanding of Love Saxa, but that is a position so naive as to be indefensible. The Left has proven that it does not stop in its quest to silence its opposition, no matter how “discerningly” that opposition hears its complaints. No compromise is sufficient for them. Once given an inch, these forces of illiberal liberalism demand a mile. Chad Gasman, a sophomore at Georgetown and the president of GU Pride, told The Hoya that this petition, which he helped to file, will “force Georgetown University to actually be queer-friendly and queer-affirming.” Such a statement reveals that nothing short of an open endorsement of all same-sex relationships, including marriage, will be enough, no matter how much it defies the faith of the institution they have chosen to attend.

If Love Saxa is banned from defending the Christian vision of sexuality and marriage, how will the Jesuits of Georgetown be able to refrain from referring to their own Church as a “hate group”? How long before they will be called on to condemn the doctrinal tenets of Catholicism?

Kelly Marcum is the Government Affairs office coordinator at Family Research Council. A founding member of Love Saxa, she graduated from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service in 2015.

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We Need To Rethink Our Sexual Culture

by Daniel Hart

October 25, 2017

Ezra Klein is on to something.

Klein, the editor of the news and opinion website Vox, which leans decidedly progressive-Left, recently wrote a piece detailing his growing realization about the shocking prevalence of sexual harassment and assault that women (and men) suffer in our culture, which is just now beginning to fully come to light in the public square after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke earlier this month.

What’s startling about Klein’s piece is the candor he displays. For a progressive, this level of honesty on a social issue is nothing short of a thunderbolt:

There is a pervasiveness to sexual assault in America that defies the word “problem.” When a system creates an outcome this consistently, this predictably, in this many different spaces, you have to at least consider the possibility that the outcome is intended, that the system is working as designed.

Perhaps we need to do more than try to root out the worst abusers. Perhaps we need to rethink our sexual culture too.

Perhaps we need to rethink our sexual culture too.” This is exactly what social conservatives have been shouting from the rooftops for decades. But in the public square, they have been consistently shot down as, at best, hopelessly old-fashioned and out of touch with modern sensibilities, and at worst, trying to control women’s bodies.

How did we get here? Let’s quickly review some indisputable facts of our country’s history. With every passing year since the early 1960’s, our culture has seen a steady progression of permissiveness of sex outside of marriage. What was once considered a societal taboo slowly but surely became more and more accepted. As television, movies, and popular culture crossed one line after another, much of society followed along, creating what is now known as the Sexual Revolution.

What has this revolution wrought in our society? Many things, of course, but with regard to our personal lives, it chiefly brought us widespread acceptance of contraception as a way to have consequence-free sex with whomever we wish, and when that fails, to abort the baby that is conceived. Contraception and abortion are thus upheld as paragons of freedom and autonomy by those who think that the Sexual Revolution finally freed women from the slavery and repression of pregnancy and childbirth. In effect, women are now as “free” as men to sleep around as much as they want without consequences.

But are women now happier as a result? Klein answers this for us:

Last week, the hashtag #MeToo took over social media. Virtually every woman I follow, on every social platform, no matter the industry or walk of life they came from, shared stories of harassment, abuse, and worse. I read searing tales from reporters and techies, chefs and yogis, civil servants and mountain climbers.

This is the cold reality that progressives must face. What if the revolution that created the perceived “freedom” of consequence-free sex for women unwittingly turned those very same women into objects of sexual pleasure for men? If there is no consequence to sex, what’s the big deal about it, anyway? Logically speaking, what is the difference between shaking hands with someone and having sex with them? If sex is merely a social transaction, why are women so instinctually protective of giving themselves away? Most men don’t seem to have that same instinct, so shouldn’t women be the same? Isn’t this about equality between the sexes anyway? If women now see sex as transactional through their celebration of contraception and abortion, why can’t they give it to men as a favor if men who are in positions of power want it in return for a promotion at work?

This is the kind of sexual psychology that has taken root in our culture as a result of following the Sexual Revolution’s line of reasoning to its logical end. As Klein so aptly put it: “When a system creates an outcome this consistently, this predictably, in this many different spaces, you have to at least consider the possibility that the outcome is intended, that the system is working as designed.”

Unfortunately, progressives like Klein still fail to see the connection between unattached sex and a sexually entitled culture. For them, it seems as though something in our culture has suddenly gone terribly awry, as if they have been blindsided by the pervasive reality of sexual sin. For believers, however, there is nothing new to see here: “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). In other words, sexual sin has been occurring since the beginning of time, and it will continue unless people turn from their wicked ways and instead seek God’s ways and His salvation.

The problem for progressives is that they can never appeal to a higher law in order to promote virtuous behavior; they must instead resort to begging and cajoling the culture into behaving in accord with vague, politically correct rules that society has deemed acceptable, and if that doesn’t work, to legislate virtue. “There are efforts to change this culture through both law and regulation,” Klein says. He then rehashes his support for the enactment of a “yes means yes” law that would codify the establishment of verbal consent before any perceived sexual contact takes place between two individuals.

Instead of getting to the root causes of societal problems, which is our only hope of solving anything, Klein predictably defaults to the progressive line of thinking, which is to avoid root causes for fear of offending someone and instead offer bromides about laws and regulations that must be enacted. So let’s avoid that trap. What is at the root of why sexual harassment and assault occur?

It is because some men do not respect the dignity of women, and instead see them as an object of sexual desire that they have a right to use in order to satisfy their own desires. But what if more boys were taught from an early age that the context for the full expression of human sexuality is within the bonds of marriage between one man and one woman, as Christianity and other religions do? If this teaching were to be taught consistently throughout childhood and young adulthood, it would substantially increase the amount of gentlemen in our culture. Gentlemen treat women with respect, the kind of respect that inherently knows how to avoid looking at women with lust (see Matthew 5:27-28), the kind of respect that would never even consider making unseemly sexual comments in their company, much less harassing or assaulting them. This kind of respect can only develop when sexually exploitive media is avoided like the plague, and self-discipline is honed through the example of the saints in Scripture and throughout history.

When boys and young men are instead mostly left to their own devices, they naturally give in to their broken human nature and rebel against our Creator’s plan for human sexuality (see the third chapter of Genesis). The results of this negligence have become an absolute nightmare—a culture filled with boys in men’s bodies and wounded women with tragically low standards, a culture that continues to writhe in the putrid, pervasive muck of vile pornography that clogs the internet, sexually exploitive mainstream TV shows that fill the screens of living rooms every night, and the depressing normalcy of cohabitation, hook-ups, adultery, contraception, STDs, abortion, and yes, sexual harassment and assault.

Progressives like Klein seem to finally be realizing the extent of this nightmare. Do they, and do we, have the courage to embrace our Creator’s plan and fight for sexual purity in our own lives and those of our children, thereby serving as a witness to truth and spreading this truth to a broken culture in desperate need of healing?

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In Today’s Media Environment, It’s “News” When the Department of Justice Actually Enforces the Law

by Travis Weber

October 19, 2017

When Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he was sending an experienced DOJ attorney to prosecute the murder of a transgendered individual in Iowa, while at the same time announcing that the DOJ would properly interpret Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination as not including “gender identity” or any other category, progressive activists and some media outlets were confused.

Slate called this “a move that surprised some familiar with his record on LGBTQ rights,” and The New York Times observed, “[i]n taking th[is] step, Mr. Sessions, a staunch conservative, is sending a signal that he has made a priority of fighting violence against transgender people individually, even as he has rolled back legal protections for them collectively.”

Yet the real story here is how media and activists are puzzled by the supposed “contradiction” in these steps—a contradiction which only exists if one is looking at law as an activist does—as a means to an end. All AG Sessions is doing in both of these situations is simply enforcing the laws on the books.

The reason for the confusion in some quarters is that the modern progressive activist, who looks at law as nothing more than a tool to accomplish policy preferences, cannot conceive of the idea of an attorney general and DOJ that would actually fairly and faithfully apply the laws that currently exist—even if such application cuts across the usual social and political dividing lines. They can’t conceive of those in power actually looking at their job objectively and simply enforcing the law, regardless of whether they agree with it as a policy matter. Yet a constitutional conservative, who understands the Constitution as the Framers did, looks at this as the only right approach.

The fact that these two decisions by AG Sessions cut across social and political lines thus causes confusion in the activist’s mind.

Regardless of one’s policy position on transgenderism, federal criminal law does currently consider murders of individuals which the perpetrator allegedly targets because of their perceived or actual gender identity to be a separate criminal offense. Regardless of Jeff Sessions’ personal views on gender identity, he is bound to enforce that law. That’s what he is doing in this case.

Meanwhile, regardless of one’s policy position on transgenderism, federal employment law does currently consider sex discrimination to be prohibited—and only sex discrimination. Unlike the federal criminal law, Title VII does not list “gender identity” as a separate class. Thus AG Sessions will enforce the law as written—prohibiting sex discrimination—and nothing more.

This is in stark contrast to the previous administration’s approach, which cherry-picked which laws to enforce and which laws to ignore based on their political ideology. Under AG Holder, the Obama administration unilaterally decided to include gender identity in sex discrimination protections. Now, all AG Sessions is doing is returning us to the status quo.

This is only remarkable if one views everything—including the law—through an ideological lens out of which one must achieve uniform policy results. The rule of law itself has no value, and makes no sense, to such a person.

But AG Sessions’ actions make perfect sense if law is to be followed, not twisted to serve a purpose. Until and if Congress changes the law, the DOJ will enforce what is currently written. This is a welcome change for all who want to live under the rule of law.

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Is the Air Force Finished With People of Faith?

by Travis Weber

October 18, 2017

Is it really possible that the Air Force no longer has room for people of faith? Based on the matter of Colonel Bohannon, that may sadly be the case.

Leland Bohannon is a decorated colonel who has devoted decades of his life to serving our Air Force, including flying missions in the B-2 stealth bomber. He’s been ranked first on his performance reports, has been bestowed numerous honors, and trusted with oversight of nuclear weapons. In other words, he’s the model Air Force officer.

Yet Colonel Bohannon’s career may be flushed down the drain by the Air Force simply because of a subordinate who wanted approval of a same-sex marriage. When he was handed several awards and certificates to sign for the subordinate’s retirement ceremony, Colonel Bohannon signed all of them except a “certificate of spouse appreciation”—which he couldn’t in good conscience sign because the certificate was for a spouse of the same sex. He sought advice about what to do from his chaplain and attorney; the chaplain told him to ask for a religious accommodation. He submitted one but it was returned six weeks later “without action.” In the meantime, a major general offered to sign the certificate instead, and it was signed and presented to the subordinate. Yet when the subordinate saw that Colonel Bohannon was not the signatory, he filed an Equal Opportunity complaint against him, alleging discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The EO investigator found that Col Bohannon violated Air Force regulations and “unlawfully discriminated against the MSgt based on sexual orientation.” The EO investigator recognized that a religious accommodation had been sought, but claimed that “even had the accommodation been granted, Col Bohannon would nonetheless be guilty of unlawful discrimination.”

As a result, his superior “suspended Col Bohannon from command, withheld his decoration, and submitted a letter to the Air Force Brigadier General promotion board—the rank for which Col Bohannon is eligible—recommending that Col Bohannon not be promoted.”

Not only is this entire side-show an absurd waste of time, it is clearly unlawful and unconstitutional. The EO investigator is apparently ignorant of the law in this area; if a religious accommodation is granted, that means by definition that he’s not “guilty of unlawful discrimination”—because he’s been granted an accommodation. Moreover, religious freedom law and military policy demand that he be granted an accommodation in an instance like this—where the objective is easily fulfilled with another signature on the certificate.

At best, this entire matter is a distraction for Colonel Bohannon. At worst, it could end his career. That’s the track this train is currently proceeding on.

Thankfully, our friends at First Liberty are on the case, and those in the media like Todd Starnes are calling attention to this. Let us hope the Air Force fixes the issue before the entire situation is derailed and the military environment only grows more toxic for people of faith. 

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Social Conservative Review - October 16, 2017

by Daniel Hart

October 16, 2017

Dear Friends,

In the face of chaotic and often disturbing events that dominate headlines and news feeds these days, I am often tempted (and sometimes succumb) to feelings of frustration and anger. I sometimes imagine that if only I were in charge, things would be so much better. If only I could have more control and worldly power, I could wield it in order to make everyone’s lives better, and I would feel better too.

When we examine the lives of those who do have influence, however—the rich, famous, and powerful—the results are often not pretty. In our increasingly godless society, money, fame, and power are often sought as ends in themselves because they are so alluring. As believers, it’s easy to delude ourselves into thinking, “Well, it’s true that money, fame, and power have a tendency to cause corruption in people, but that would never happen to me because I know that God is most important. I would use these things to better the world.” It’s easy to use this kind of reasoning to justify wasting money on lottery tickets, wasting time on Facebook curating our profiles just so, and wasting our talents on frivolous pursuits in order to gain societal status.

The reality for most of us is that we will never be in positions of great influence, and we will never be rich, famous, and powerful. And that’s perfectly okay. Why? Because one of life’s great paradoxes is that the less control we possess over our lives, the freer we are. When we let go of the vice grip we have around our life goals and life plans, God gives us a multitude of opportunities for us to do His will, not ours. Living in this way is truly freeing, because it gives us the roomy flexibility to respond to a friend or stranger in need who inconveniently disrupts our lives. Having less money, fame, and power also frees us from being distracted from what truly matters: nurturing love within our families and those closest to us.

As Mother Teresa once said: “If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family.”

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

P.S. Don’t miss out on all of the amazing talks that happened at the Values Voter Summit this past weekend!

 

FRC Articles

Planned Parenthood Is Targeting Baby Girls in the Womb – Cathy Ruse

The New Religious Exemptions from the HHS Contraceptive Mandate Are a Victory for Personal Freedom (and Responsibility) Over State Coercion – Peter Sprigg

20 Principles of Religious Liberty – Peter Sprigg

Media Gets Brazil Ruling on Sexual Orientation Therapy All Wrong – Peter Sprigg

The Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration: What It Got Right and What It Got Wrong – Travis Weber and Natalie Pugh

The Judicial Assault on Public School Privacy Policies

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

White House Rebuts Attacks by Democrats, New York Times on Catholic Court Nominee – Fred Lucas, The Stream

Trump administration ends rule requiring nuns to fund contraception – Claire Chretien, LifeSiteNews

Federal court strikes down tax benefit for faith leaders – Alex Swoyer, The Washington Times

California Can Now Jail People for Misusing Gender Pronouns – Anders Hagstrom, The Daily Signal

Environmentalist Lobby Goes After Another Trump Nominee For Being A Christian – E. Calvin Beisner, The Federalist

NFL Athletes Can Take a Knee, But Universities are Denying Pro-Life Students Free Speech – Kristan Hawkins, LifeNews

Apple removes pro-life prayer app – Samantha Gobba, WORLD

Free to Believe”

Southwest Flight Attendant Says She Was Fired For Being Pro-Life – Grace Carr, The Stream

Reporter Tries to Get Tucson Police Officer in Trouble — for Exercising His First Amendment Right – Rachel Alexander, The Stream

International Religious Freedom

Beijing’s heavy hand – June Cheng & Erica Kwong, WORLD

Cameroon’s Bishops Warn of Genocide – Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register

 

Life

Abortion

House Passes Pro-Life Bill Banning Late-Term Abortions After 20 Weeks – Steven Ertelt, LifeNews

Are We Too Comfortable with Abortion? – Lori Hadacek Chaplin, National Catholic Register

In the Middle of the Abortion Killing Her Baby She Changed Her Mind. Miraculously Her Son Survived – Micaiah Bilger, LifeNews

What Big Abortion Doesn’t Understand about Pro-Lifers – Matthew Archbold, National Catholic Register

Adoption

Forcing Faith-Based Organizations Out of Foster Care and Adoption Hurts Children – Elizabeth Kirk, Public Discourse

Janesville family receives national honors for efforts in adoption – Ashley McCallum, GazetteXtra

Bioethics

Assisted Suicide is No Peaceful Death. Some Patients Regurgitate, Have Seizures, or Wake Up Days Later – Michael Cook, LifeNews

An Absurd Fate: What Happens to Abandoned Embryos? – Jennifer Lahl, Public Discourse

The Resurgence and Rebranding of Population Control – Rebecca Oas, C-Fam

Obamacare

Universal Coverage? My Fourth Health Care Plan Just Died Thanks to Obamacare – Michelle Malkin, The Daily Signal

 

Family

Economics/Education

Thanks To Testing Backlash, Virginia Drops U.S. History Tests Despite Horrific Public Ignorance – Joy Pullmann, The Federalist

Betraying Liberal Education: A Response to President Paxson of Brown UniversityR.J. Snell, Public Discourse

These Two Colorado Counties Are Ground Zero For School Choice Across The Country – Helen Raleigh, The Federalist

The Washington Post Gets Retirement Wrong – Andrew G. Biggs, National Review

Marriage

Facebook and Your Marriage – Tricia Goyer, Focus on the Family

3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Make Your Marriage Happier – Jill Sieracki, Brides

Faith/Character/Culture

How To Talk To Your Kids About Death, Shootings, Natural Disasters, And Other Scary Things – Libby Emmons, The Federalist

The Man and His Song: Tom Petty (1950–2017) – David Mathis, Desiring God

The power of good – Ben Shapiro, Conservative Review

Does Modern Secularism Have a Memory Problem? – Fredric Heidemann, Word On Fire

After a Long Summer of Heartrending Tragedies, We Could All Use This – Megan Madden, Verily

Our Toxic Smartphone Addiction – Heather Wilhelm, National Review

Is It Wrong to Try to Persuade Others to Change Their Beliefs? – Rebecca McLaughlin, The Gospel Coalition

Human Sexuality

A no-tolerance policy for sexual harassment – Josh Wester, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission  

University Refuses Research On Growing Numbers Of Trans People Who Want To Go Back – Walt Heyer, The Federalist

Responding to the Transgender Revolution – Rob Smith, The Gospel Coalition

Sex change regret silenced – Kiley Crossland, WORLD

The Price of the Campus Hookup Culture is High – Carolyn Moynihan, Intellectual Takeout

UConn Cancels Comedian Over Remarks on Transgender Children – Rachel Alexander, The Stream

What Two Former Trans Men Want You To Know About All The Lies – Taylor Fogarty, The Federalist

The Transgender Matrix: It’s Time to Choose the Red Pill – Walt Heyer, Public Discourse

It’s Past Time to Rethink Modern Sexual Morality – David French, National Review

Human Trafficking

Impact on Capitol Hill, Standing for Online Sex Trafficking Victims – National Center on Sexual Exploitation

The fight against sex trafficking in the U.S. – Helen Taylor and Laila Mickelwait, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Pornography

Porn Is Not Harmless. It’s Cruel. – Justin Holcomb, The Gospel Coalition

He was exposed to pornography at age 11, on his school laptop – National Center on Sexual Exploitation

The Porn Gap: Gender Differences in Pornography Use in Couple Relationships – Jason S. Carroll and Brian J. Willoughby, Family Studies

Pornography and Sex Trafficking Are Linked: Take It From the FBI – Dawn Hawkins, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Everyone At My All-Boy High School Openly Watches & Talks About Porn – Fight the New Drug

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The New Religious Exemptions from the HHS Contraceptive Mandate Are a Victory for Personal Freedom (and Responsibility) Over State Coercion

by Peter Sprigg

October 12, 2017

Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times has written a column critical of the Trump administration’s recent announcement of broad religious and moral exemptions to the HHS mandate under Obamacare that required employers to provide free contraception as part of any health insurance plan.

Greenhouse begins her column this way: “Saudi women are gaining the right to drive. American women are losing the right to employer-provided birth control.”

At least she was honest enough to not use the hyperbole of saying, “American women are losing birth control.” The government remains powerless to prevent women (or men) from purchasing and/or using birth control if they choose to. The vast majority are not even losing “employer-provided birth control,” since the percentage of employers likely to claim either a religious or moral objection is always likely to be tiny. No, they are only losing “the right to employer-provided birth control”—meaning the government will no longer coerce said employers into providing birth control.

However, this admirable precision in language means that her analogy with Saudi women simply does not work. American women are not losing “the right to use birth control,” which might be analogous to “the right to drive.” For the analogy to work, she would have to say, “Saudi women are gaining the right to employer-provided automobiles.”

But this, of course, is ridiculous. No one—in Saudi Arabia, or in the United States—has ever had “the right to employer-provided automobiles.” This, despite the fact that (I would argue) access to transportation is far more fundamental to having a free and prosperous life in the modern world than is access to birth control. We simply expect people who want to own automobiles to purchase them themselves. Of course, some people are too poor to buy a car, and must often rely on public transportation—but even that is not provided for free, but requires payment of a fare. What is so exceptional about birth control that private employers should be forced by the government to provide it at absolutely no cost to the user?

Greenhouse says, “I used to think … that the resistance to the contraception mandate was fueled by cultural conservatives’ determination not to let federal policy normalize birth control.” If this were the case, the new administration’s policy would still fall short. Since pregnancy is not a disease, contraception, when used merely as a method of family planning, is by definition an elective item or service, rather than a medically necessary one that should be subject to any coverage mandate. Yet the Trump administration has actually left the HHS mandate intact—while simply allowing a much more expansive exemption for the small number of employers with religious or moral objections.

Now, however, Greenhouse goes further in reading the minds of conservatives, declaring, “The problem they have is with what birth control signifies: empowering women — in school, on the job, in the home — to determine their life course.” This paranoid Handmaid’s Tale view of the world is simply bizarre. I guess Greenhouse is oblivious to the many conservative women— empowered and powerful, every one of them—who have led the fight against the HHS mandate from its beginning.

The headline on Greenhouse’s piece online reads, “On Contraception, It’s Church Over State.” Yet no church dogma has been imposed on anyone. It remains perfectly acceptable (in the eyes of the federal government) for women and men to purchase and use birth control. But now, it is also acceptable (as it always should have been, under the First Amendment) for some religious people to object to materially participating in the process. In reality, the new rules mean, “It’s Personal Freedom (and Responsibility) over State Coercion.”

I suspect what Greenhouse is really upset about is the Trump administration setting back the Left’s attempts to “establish” their own religion—the Church of the Sexual Revolution—whose most fundamental doctrine is the unlimited right not only to sex, but to sex without consequences, with the federal government as the guarantor of that “right.”

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20 Principles of Religious Liberty

by Peter Sprigg

October 10, 2017

On May 4, President Trump signed an Executive Order declaring, “It shall be the policy of the executive branch to vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom.” This order, barely more than a page long, gave few details about what such protections would entail.

However, in it, President Trump also instructed, “In order to guide all agencies in complying with relevant Federal law, the Attorney General shall, as appropriate, issue guidance interpreting religious liberty protections in Federal law.”

That promised guidance was released on Friday, October 6 by the Department of Justice, in the form of a 25-page memorandum for executive departments and agencies on the topic of “Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty.”

In that memo, Attorney General Jeff Sessions lays out twenty “Principles of Religious Liberty.”

Family Research Council praised the memorandum in a press release here.

However, since most people will not read the 8-page memo or the 17-page appendix laying out its legal rationale, FRC here offers the text just of the introduction and the twenty principles.

Principles of Religious Liberty

Religious liberty is a foundational principle of enduring importance in America, enshrined in our Constitution and other sources of federal law. As James Madison explained in his Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, the free exercise of religion “is in its nature an unalienable right” because the duty owed to one’s Creator “is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.” Religious liberty is not merely a right to personal religious beliefs or even to worship in a sacred place. It also encompasses religious observance and practice. Except in the narrowest circumstances, no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with the law. Therefore, to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, religious observance and practice should be reasonably accommodated in all government activity, including employment, contracting, and programming. The following twenty principles should guide administrative agencies and executive departments in carrying out this task. These principles should be understood and interpreted in light of the legal analysis set forth in the appendix to this memorandum.

  1. The freedom of religion is a fundamental right of paramount importance, expressly protected by federal law.
  2. The free exercise of religion include the right to act or abstain from action in accordance with one’s religious beliefs.
  3. The freedom of religion extends to persons and organizations.
  4. Americans do not give up their freedom of religion by participating in the marketplace, partaking of the public square, or interacting with government.
  5. Government may not restrict acts or abstentions because of the beliefs they display.
  6. Government may not target religious individuals or entities for special disabilities based on their religion.
  7. Government may not target religious individuals or entities through discriminatory enforcement of neutral, generally applicable laws.
  8. Government may not officially favor or disfavor particular religious groups.
  9. Government may not interfere with the autonomy of a religious organization.
  10. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act [RFRA] of 1993 prohibits the federal government from substantially burdening any aspect of religious observance or practice, unless imposition of that burden on a particular adherent satisfies strict scrutiny.
  11. RFRA’s protection extends not just to individuals, but also to organizations, associations, and at least some for-profit corporations.
  12. RFRA does not permit the federal government to second-guess the reasonableness of a religious belief.
  13. A governmental action substantially burdens an exercise of religion under RFRA if it bans an aspect of an adherent’s religious observance or practice, compels an act inconsistent with that observance or practice, or substantially pressures the adherent to modify such observance or practice.
  14. The strict scrutiny standard applicable to RFRA is exceptionally demanding.
  15. RFRA applies even where a religious adherent seeks an exemption from a legal obligation requiring the adherent to confer benefits on third parties.
  16. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, prohibits covered employers from discriminating against individuals on the basis of their religion.
  17. Title VII’s protection extends to discrimination on the basis of religious observance or practice as well as belief, unless the employer cannot reasonably accommodate such observance or practice without undue hardship on the business.
  18. The Clinton Guidelines on Religious Free Exercise and Religious Expression in the Federal Workplace provide useful examples for private employers of reasonable accommodations for religious observance and practice in the workplace.
  19. Religious employers are entitled to employ only persons whose beliefs and conduct are consistent with the employers’ religious precepts.
  20. As a general matter, the federal government may not condition receipt of a federal grant or contract on the effective relinquishment of a religious organization’s hiring exemptions or attributes of its religious character.

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Media Gets Brazil Ruling on Sexual Orientation Therapy All Wrong

by Peter Sprigg

October 4, 2017

The LGBT activist movement has long been notorious for using a variety of untruths and/or distortions to advance their social and political agenda.

In few areas has this been so blatant and shocking as in the current all-out war against the freedom of clients and therapists to pursue sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE).

For example, we are repeatedly told (falsely) that scientific evidence has proven that all SOCE is harmful. Yet even the Left-leaning American Psychological Association—although critical of SOCE—was forced to admit:

Early and recent research studies provide no clear evidence of the prevalence of harmful outcomes among people who have undergone efforts to change their sexual orientation… Thus, we cannot conclude how likely it is that harm will occur from SOCE [emphasis added].

The mainstream media’s complicity (or ignorance) in all this is highlighted by the continuing use of the term “conversion therapy” in reference to a practice whose actual practitioners refer to it as “sexual reorientation therapy,” “sexual orientation change efforts,” or “SOCE;” or the more recent “sexual attraction fluidity exploration in therapy” or “SAFE-T;” or “reparative therapy”—but not “conversion therapy.”

Another claim made by critics of SOCE is that it is premised on the belief that homosexuality is a mental disorder—a belief they claim was discredited by the American Psychological Association’s vote in 1973 to remove homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). However, the 1973 decision was not based on any clear-cut body of scientific evidence proving that homosexuality is normal, natural, and harmless. Instead, as a result of aggressive political activism, the APA simply changed the definition of a “mental disorder” in such a way as to exclude homosexuality, by making it contingent on the presence of “subjective distress.”

While it is probably true that most therapists who assist with sexual orientation change efforts do not consider homosexuality to be a normal and natural variant of human sexuality, it is not necessary to classify it as a “mental disorder” to justify their work. Many people who experience same-sex attractions do experience “subjective distress” about those feelings, and that alone is sufficient to justify allowing therapists to assist in overcoming those attractions, if that is the goal the client chooses.

All this background is necessary to understand why I was skeptical about an Associated Press article published recently under the headline, “Brazil ruling that homosexuality is disease to be appealed.” According to the article, Brazil’s “Judge Waldemar Claudio de Carvalho ruled last week that homosexuality could be considered a disease that could be treated with sexual orientation conversion therapies.” The article suggested that the ruling had the effect of overturning a 1999 resolution by Brazil’s “Federal Council of Psychology” (abbreviated “CFP” in Portuguese) aimed at “prohibiting psychologists from treating homosexuality as a disease.”

An article from the British newspaper The Guardian offered more detail, noting that the case was “brought by Rozangela Justino, an evangelical Christian and psychologist whose licence was revoked in 2016 after she offered ‘conversion therapy.’” However, I was still doubtful that we were getting the whole story on this so-called “ruling that homosexuality is disease,” so I reached out to Julio Severo, a Brazilian pro-family activist and Christian blogger, for more information.

After researching the issue, Severo confirmed my suspicions with an article on his English-language website. Severo offers an English translation of the CFP’s “Resolution 001/1990” which includes the following:

  • [H]omosexuality is not a disease, disturbance or perversion;
  • Psychologists shall not use any action for making homoerotic behaviors or practices pathological, nor shall they use coercion to direct homosexuals to unsolicited treatments.
  • Psychologists shall not offer their opinions, . . in regard to homosexuals as sufferers of psychic disorders.

However, the private practice of sexual reorientation therapy with consenting clients who are distressed about unwanted same-sex attractions does not, in and of itself, violate any of these restrictions. In addition, a Google translation of a Portuguese language news article says explicitly, “The preliminary decision of federal judge Waldemar Cláudio de Carvalho maintains the full text of Resolution 01/99.”

However, Severo does say that the resolution also included a paragraph saying:

  • Psychologists shall not collaborate with events and services proposing treatment and cures of homosexualities.

This appears to be the only part of the CFP resolution that the judge actually modified, by ordering, as Severo translates it,

that the Federal Council of Psychology [must] not interpret [its resolution] to hinder psychologists from promoting studies or giving professional care, in a private setting, regarding … sexual (re)orientation, thereby ensuring to them full scientific freedom about the subject, with no censorship or prior permission from the Federal Council of Psychology.

The translated article quotes the judge as expanding on the importance of “scientific freedom,” saying that a total ban on such therapy would

prohibit the deepening of the scientific studies related to (sexual) orientation, thus affecting the scientific freedom of the country … insofar as it prevents and makes unfeasible the investigation of the most important aspect of psychology [which] is human sexuality.

The translated article also says the judge’s decision “underscores the reserved nature of the service and prohibits advertising and publicity” for sexual reorientation therapy.

Nevertheless, a spokesman for the FCP condemned the decision, taking issue with the idea that the FCP policy interferes with research. According to The Guardian,

We have no power over research,” he said. “The way it was put by the judge gave the impression that we prohibited research which is not true.”

Yet it is hard to understand how anyone could do “research” on sexual reorientation therapy if no one is permitted to engage in such therapy.

In summary, a very modest ruling by a Brazilian judge in defense of freedom for clients, therapists, and researchers has been distorted by the media (especially the Associated Press) into a judicial ruling that homosexuality is “a disease.” The media urgently needs to abandon its caricature of sexual orientation change efforts—and the U.S. needs more judges with the wisdom and courage of Judge de Carvalho.

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