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Social Conservative Review: An Insider’s Guide to Pro-Family News February 26, 2015

by Rob Schwarzwalder

February 26, 2015

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Theologian David Wells has written of “the extraordinary bombardment … that goes on every day from a thousand different sources that leave us distracted, with our minds going simultaneously in multiple directions” (God in the Whirlwind, p.17). Not only are we inundated with information, but attentive citizens are confronted daily with national and international matters of great significance.

As is appropriate, each of us has particular interests and concerns. Only God is infinite, and only He can attend to all matters simultaneously and in proportion to their true value. But sometimes things rise to the surface that cut through the noise and stand out on their own. Here are a couple:

Domestic Policy - Marriage: Earlier this week, FRC released the findings of a new survey showing that 61 percent of Americans agree that “states and citizens should remain free to uphold marriage as the union of a man and a woman and the Supreme Court should not force all 50 states to redefine marriage.” The survey also found that 53 percent of Americans agree that marriage should be defined only as a union between one man and one woman. In addition, an overwhelming majority (81 percent) of Americans agree that government should “leave people free to follow their beliefs about marriage as they live their daily lives at work and in the way they run their businesses.”

In April, the Supreme Court will hear arguments concerning the constitutionality of same-sex “marriage.” As they weigh what to do, they would be wise to remember that sundering the social fabric through judicial fiat has never born good fruit; the Dred Scott and Roe decisions make that plain. And they should be sobered by the fact that four out of five Americans believe moral convictions grounded in deeply-held religious faith can’t be parked at one’s home or left within the four walls of a house of worship – they continue to uphold the right of their fellow citizens to live-out the implications of their faith at work as well as worship.

Foreign Policy – ISIS: In this edition of the SoCon Review, we feature a special section devoted to analyses of ISIS and Christian responses to it. The beheading of Coptic Christians along the Libyan shoreline was evil in its rawest, most horrific form. Yet followers of Jesus in the Middle East know that nothing can separate them from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35). ISIS seeks conquest of a temporal kingdom, but Christians serve a King Who has “overcome the world” (John 16:33). As we pray for the persecuted – and their persecutors – let’s remember, and be comforted, by that changeless truth.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice-President
Family Research Council

P.S. Be sure to listen to Dr. Mark Regnerus’ FRC lecture, “Stability and Change in Americans’ Relationships,” presented this week at our headquarters in Washington, D.C.


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ISIS

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Desperate Times for Christians in Syria

by Chris Gacek

February 26, 2015

Accurate news of the depredations being visited upon Christians by the savage ISIS forces operating in Syria and Iraq is not easy to come by. Fortunately, there are policy specialists in Washington who have established deep ties with Syria’s Christians. One of these experts is Katharine (“Katie”) Gorka, President of the Council on Global Security.

Mrs. Gorka has written two significant articles in Breitbart’s national security section on the recent ISIS attacks against these Christians. In the first article she gathered news by directly contacting representatives of the Assyrian community. A summary of the facts is as follows:

Around 4:00 in the morning on Monday, February 23rd, an estimated 1500 ISIS fighters attacked a series of Christian towns in northeast Syria, burning churches, taking as many as 90 hostages, and forcing hundreds to flee from their homes.


Many Christians have fled to the Syrian town of al-Hassaka, but the fear now is that ISIS will overrun the town, kill the men, and kidnap the women and children. After the attacks on Monday, Gorka writes, “According to one source, ISIS has taken 30 Christian young women and plans to distribute them as concubines in the town of Shadadeh.”

In the second article, “ISIS Hammers Christian Towns in Syria for Third Day,” Gorka provides a better sense of the military campaign being waged by ISIS against thirty-five Assyrian towns in northeastern Syria. One source told Gorka “that ISIS is still trying to take control of the region and that they are trying to cross the Khabur River.” Kurdish and Syrian forces have repelled the assaults so far “but it is uncertain how much longer that can last.” ISIS is estimated to have several thousand fighters involved. The Kurds and Christians have fewer, and they are inadequately armed.

Reading between the lines, the American effort has been comically inadequate. For example, DoD put out a press release trumpeting less than a dozen drone strikes in a day. ROLLING THUNDER this is not.

What’s important is the bottom line: the United States is making no commitment or effort to truly help the Christians. Nothing new here. However, the U.S. government appears to be doing something. It is running a disinformation campaign against the American public to make it believe that these Middle Eastern minority populations are not being sacrificed.

(Finally, ISIS is destroying cultural artifacts in Mosul. Read this article describing how it burned down the Mosul Public Library. “Among the many thousands of books it housed, more than 8,000 rare old books and manuscripts were burned.”)

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This Man Won’t Be Bullied: Bravo Archbishop Cordileone!

by Cathy Ruse

February 25, 2015

It’s not easy swimming against the tide. I am sorry to admit that “pro-life activist” is not always my first response to the cocktail party question.

And standing by your belief in man-woman marriage sometimes feels like holding up a “punch me” sign.

But San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has shown again and again that he is made of the strongest stuff.

Here’s the tick-tock on his latest battle to protect Catholic teaching in Catholic schools:

February 3: The Archdiocese of San Francisco announces proposed changes in teacher contracts telling applicants that if they’d like a job teaching children at one of their schools, they will be expected to uphold and not publicly contradict Catholic moral teaching. In the view of the Archdiocese, this simply codifies the long-established expectation for school employees.

February 17: A group of legislators, all Democrats, writes a letter to Cordileone urging him to stand down, arguing that his plan would discriminate against the teachers and violate their civil rights to “choose who to love and marry, how to plan a family, and what causes or beliefs to support.”

February 19: The archbishop replies. Here is the meat of his letter:

First of all, I always believe that it is important, before making a judgment on a situation or anyone’s action, that one first obtain as complete and accurate information as possible. To this end, a number of documents and videos giving accurate and more complete information about this contentious issue are available on the website of our Archdiocese. I would encourage you to avail yourselves of these resources, as they will help to clear up a lot of misinformation being circulated about it (such as, for example, the falsehood that the morality clauses apply to the teachers’ private life).

The next thing I would like to mention is actually a question: would you hire a campaign manager who advocates policies contrary to those that you stand for, and who shows disrespect toward you and the Democratic Party in general? On the other hand, if you knew a brilliant campaign manager who, although a Republican, was willing to work for you and not speak or act in public contrary to you or your party — would you hire such a person? If your answer to the first question is “no,” and to the second question is “yes,” then we are actually in agreement on the principal point in debate here.

Now let’s say that this campaign manager you hired, despite promises to the contrary, starts speaking critically of your party and favorably of your running opponent, and so you decide to fire the person. Would you have done this because you hate all Republicans outright, or because this individual, who happens to be a Republican, violated the trust given to you and acted contrary to your mission? If the latter, then we are again in agreement on this principle.

My point is: I respect your right to employ or not employ whomever you wish to advance your mission. I simply ask the same respect from you.

This is how you do it. Bravo Archbishop Cordileone!

As the Archdiocesan announcement said: “Catholic schools exist to affirm and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Amen. Let them take their best shot at that goal, and complaining legislators stand aside.

HT: LifeSiteNews

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Depression, Divorce, and Hope

by Rob Schwarzwalder

February 25, 2015

Graham Moore won the Academy Award for his screenplay adaptation of “The Imitation Game.” In a moving speech upon receiving the award, he spoke candidly of the depression that haunted his youth. Here’s what he said:

When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself because I felt weird, and I felt different, and I felt like I did not belong. And now I’m standing here, and so I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes, you do. I promise you do. You do. Stay weird. Stay different. And then when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message to the next person who comes along.”

Moore’s parents were divorced. Could this have contributed to his depression? “Children whose parents divorce will exhibit more anxiety and depression and antisocial behavior than children from intact families,” write social scientists Pat Fagan and Aaron Churchill.

Divorce is related to increased depression and anxiety for both boys and girls of all ages,” they write. Quoting from a study in the Journal of Marriage and the Family, Fagan and Churchill note that “boys with divorced parents tended to be more depressed than those from two-parent families regardless of the psychological adjustment, level of conflict, or quality of parenting manifested by their parents.”

Depression is a growing problem among our youth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Boys are more likely than girls to die from suicide. Of the reported suicides in the 10 to 24 age group, 81% of the deaths were males and 19% were females.”

There’s so much hope: As Graham Moore movingly said, everyone fits in. And with counseling, appropriate medication, the love of parents and family and the support of true friends, young men and women can get through the pain of depression. Most importantly, the knowledge that there’s a loving God can sustain even in the darkest moments.

The link between divorce and youth depression seems to be a real one. It’s just one more reason for couples to work through their problems and find healing for their marriages and their children.

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In the Footsteps of Jesus

by Travis Weber

February 20, 2015

In the New York Times, David Brooks asserts that followers of ISIS are looking for purpose, fulfillment, and destiny, and that attempting to address these needs with materialistic solutions misses the mark. In order to lessen the appeal of ISIS, Brooks suggests, its followers must be offered an even greater opportunity for fulfillment:

[P]eople don’t join ISIS, or the Islamic State, because they want better jobs with more benefits.”

They’re not doing it because they are sexually repressed. They are doing it because they think it will ennoble their souls and purify creation.”

You can’t counter a heroic impulse with a mundane and bourgeois response. You can counter it only with a more compelling heroic vision… . Terrorism will be defeated only when they find a different fulfillment, even more bold and self-transcending.”

He’s right about all of that.

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Blinded by Liberalism - Our President and His State Department

by Chris Gacek

February 20, 2015

Marie Harf, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department, has taken a great deal of heat this week for saying this and other things regarding our struggle with the Islamic State (ISIS):

We’re killing a lot of them and we’re going to keep killing more of them. So are the Egyptians, so are the Jordanians. They’re in this fight with us. But we cannot win this war by killing them. We cannot kill our way out of this war. We need in the medium to longer term to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it’s lack of opportunity for jobs…”

Root cause” explanations constitute part of the fantasy life of liberals. They lead inevitably to an ever greater fantasy: the belief that poverty lies at the base of almost all malignant human behavior.  If the government can spend lots of money on something somewhere, all will be well. 

It’s interesting to recall that Lyndon Johnson, one of the big-time liberal presidents, exhibited a similar myopia when dealing with Vietnam and North Vietnam’s leader, Ho Chi Minh.  President Johnson delivered his first major speech about Vietnam on April 7, 1965 at Johns Hopkins University.  It is referred to as the “Peace without Conquest” Speech.  The title reveals its high-level content in wishful thinking.

In the speech, Johnson proposed a $1 billion development program for the Mekong River region including North Vietnam.  Johnson thought he could be buy off Ho with a TVA-like development program.  How could it fail?  It worked for FDR, right.  Guys like Johnson always had a price.  You just had to find it.  A water project, a military base, electric power.    As, Johnson told his press secretary, Bill Moyers, “old Ho can’t turn me down.”  Wrong.

Well, Ho was a Marxist ideologue, and he rejected the offer the next day.  Johnson must have been perplexed.  LBJ couldn’t understand a sociopathic Marxist ideologue like Ho, and today’s liberals cannot comprehend the fact that Islam is the driving force in our present-day world-wide struggle with a resurgent, modernized ideology that is replacing the failed Arab socialist nationalism of the twentieth century.

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Judge relies on decision upholding government¿s ability to regulate marriage as it suppresses conscience objections to same-sex “marriage”

by Travis Weber

February 19, 2015

Yesterday, in the consolidated cases of State of Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers and Ingersoll v. Arlene’s Flowers, a Washington state court judge held that a small wedding vendor defendant engaged in impermissible discrimination in seeking to honor her religious beliefs and not support the promotion of a same-sex wedding ceremony with her services.

In granting the plaintiffs’ motions for summary judgment, Judge Ekstrom of the Benton County Superior Court elevated nondiscrimination laws over free exercise and free speech rights.

In holding that “[f]ree exercise is not … without its limits,” Judge Ekstrom relied on the Supreme Court’s proclamation in Reynolds v. United States that “[l]aws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices… . Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious belief? The permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government could exist only in name under such circumstances.”

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Two Men, Three Men, A Man and His Daughter: Marriage on the Slope

by Cathy Ruse

February 19, 2015

Those of us who believe in man-woman marriage sometimes talk about the “slippery slope”: If we undo the age-old definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, this will lead to consequences that go well beyond the terms of the current debate.

Like three men marrying, or a father marrying his daughter.

Advocates for same-sex marriage say “pshaw” and call us crazy. Or worse. To which we often reply: Just you wait.

Well, that didn’t take long.

Yesterday, Salon.com published a piece calling parent-child incest normal.

There’s even a new politically-correct moniker for it. Don’t say “incest,” say “genetic sexual attraction.”

And because we live in Alphabet Soup Land, it’s best to call it “GSA.”

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Freedom is Defined by Virtue, Not Sexual Impulses

by Christina Hadford

February 19, 2015

Freedom is man’s ability to pursue freely God’s plan for him; slavery is man’s self-subjugation to his appetitive soul. Today’s culture has confounded the two, inadvertently defining man and measuring his freedom based on his sexual drive.

Last week Stella Morabito wrote about the plurality of sexual identifications accepted and even promoted today: pedophilia, BDSM (bondage/ domination/ sado-masochism), transgender children, incest, bestiality, group sex, and anonymous sex (to name a few). Like many opponents to gay marriage predicted, re-defining marriage as anything other than a sacred bond between one man and one woman will inevitably lead us down a slippery slope in which all sexual exploits are permissible in the name of freedom.

President Obama’s crass advertisement for women to “vote like your lady parts depend on it” makes this case in point. Supposedly, a girl’s ability to have casual sex with a range of men empowers her; a mother’s decision to kill her unborn child indicates her individual agency; a woman’s choice to sleep with other women means she is an equal member of society. This sentiment has seeped into wider discourse. Now, people identify themselves by their sexual orientation, and interpret their freedom based on whether they can fulfill these desires without limits. This distortion is degrading, debilitating, and downright disgusting.

Defining a person’s freedom in terms of her sexual desires and actions reduces her to an animalistic state. The trademark of humankind—both man and woman—is their logic. Animals experience an urge, and go to all limits to satisfy that urge. Humans share the sensual desires of animals, but are additionally endowed with a sense of reasoning and restraint that should ultimately dictate their appetites. As Aristotle said, “[T]he good for man is an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue, or if there are more kinds of virtue than one, in accordance with the best and most perfect kind” (Nicomachean Ethics).

In addition to the backwardness of reducing man to an animalistic state, defining freedom in terms of sexual passions is inherently restrictive. Ultimately, we are all constrained by our bodily limits. It is impossible for two men to conjugally unite to produce offspring; it is impossible to have pedophiliac relationships and not profoundly wound an innocent child; it is impossible to have healthy and respectful sado-masochistic relationships. The human body is limited, and defining man in terms of his body inescapably confines him.

Freedom is, however, very achievable as long as it is properly defined. As Aristotle indicated true freedom is the absolute pursuit of highest virtue; specifically, it is the spiritual and corporal surrender to God’s omniscient and benevolent plan for man. Because God is all-powerful, pursuing God’s plan—whether or not it is sensually fulfilling to man—will manifest boundless interior and spiritual freedom. It is high time our society stop accepting any and all sexual desires in the name of freedom. A man with uncontrollable sexual impulses will not achieve freedom by society affirming his actions; rather, he will achieve freedom after he is offered loving and compassionate counsel away from his sexual slavery.

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America’s Resilience

by Robert Morrison

February 19, 2015

Many of my friends, not surprisingly, consider these the worst of times. They tell me they fear for the survival of our country and certainly for the survival of civil and religious freedoms we cherish. There is no doubt that under this administration, our liberties have been imperiled. No administration in history has targeted religious freedoms.

For example, in the little-noticed case of Hosanna Tabor v. EEOC (2012), the Obama administration tried to order The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod* (LCMS) to change its 170-year definition of who is and who is not a commissioned minister in that 2.4 million member church body. This was a stunning example of denial of religious freedom, but the Obama administration took its unprecedented interpretation of constitutional law all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Happily for freedom, the Obama administration’s tortured reading of the laws was rejected by the High Court by a vote of 9-0. Such unanimous rulings are very rare in the Supreme Court, as we know. But it is an indication of the radicalism of this administration that it was so determined to crush freedom that it would boldly go where no administration in 223 years had gone before.

Members of our U.S. military—our all-volunteer force—are daily feeling the lash of political correctness. As President Obama seems to make every allowance for Islam at home and abroad, his administration has banned Bibles in military hospitals while covering up Christian symbols at VA hospitals and threatening chaplains with discipline if they even mention faith in Christ as part of suicide prevention programs. The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed for me that the high religiosity of Black women was a major factor in their low rates of suicide.

Several years ago, Coast Guard Admiral Dean Lee courageously stood up for freedom and faith at the National Prayer Breakfast. He said what so many in the military feel: That Christian faith is under attack.

The admiral reminded me of my own time in the Coast Guard and his courage encourages me still. It also reminds me of the hope we have for real change in our country.

The ship on which I served was in the news recently for an historic drug bust. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell (WHEC-719) seized $423 million worth of cocaine. When we consider that it cost about $20 million ($142 million in 2014 dollars) to build the Boutwell in 1967, and that she has been serving our country every since, it seems in this case, the American taxpayers certainly got their money’s worth.

I’m very proud to have served on the Boutwell. But I certainly wasn’t proud on my last day on that vessel. I was leaving the Coast Guard in Seattle in 1978 when I was given a ride home by some of my enlisted friends. These Quartermasters—highly intelligent guys who made the mid watches in the Bering Sea enjoyable—offered me a joint! I was heartbroken. No wonder we were never able to catch the pot smokers on our ship. They were being tipped off. It depressed me and filled with a sense of betrayal.

Four years later, I was living in Connecticut with my wife, a lieutenant commander in the Navy. She came home from Naval Hospital Groton and said we should take a tour of the Cutter paying a visit to the Coast Guard Academy across the Thames River in New London.

I hesitated. I was concerned as I recalled my last day in the service. But overcame my doubts and proudly accompanied my wife. She received a snappy salute from a “squared away” young Seaman Apprentice standing guard at the brow of the ship. He offered us a tour of the Cutter. From that first encounter through the hour-long visit, we saw nothing but hard-working seamen who seemed proud of their ship and their mission.

What had changed? The Navy and Coast Guard had dropped the lax attitude of the 1970s toward sideburns, mustaches, beer-in-the-barracks and had instituted a Zero Tolerance policy for drugs. I didn’t like the fact that my wife had to take drug tests in the presence of Navy Corps Waves, but the policy worked. It largely eliminated the abuse of drugs in the sea services.

Pride in the uniform was restored. Gone were the sideburns. Gone, too, was the 1970’s policy of requiring civilian attire in Washington, D.C. for military officers going to and from work at Headquarters. Instead, officers and enlisted were required to wear their uniforms.

It almost goes without saying the change in those four years (1978-82) was dramatic. And it reflects in no small way the changes in leadership at the top. President Jimmy Carter had been swept out in a landslide and Ronald Reagan was swept in. Reagan loved and respected our all-volunteer military. He made our troops proud to serve again and proud of their uniforms.

When liberal reporters challenged Reagan the candidate in 1980, they said: “You seem to criticize a lot in the Carter administration, Governor. What would you do differently?”

Everything,” Reagan responded with a smile. And he did change everything.

America has been richly blessed by God. We are a resilient country and our hope for change has not died. All that is needed is a leader who will approach the tasks set before him or her with that same determination: Do everything differently.

*The author’s own denomination.

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