September 11, 2015
Today marks the 14th anniversary since the attacks on our nation on September 11, 2001.
The attacks of that painful day marked the greatest single loss of life of rescue personnel in American history. It also was the largest loss of life resulting from a foreign attack on American soil.
This past summer I had the chance to visit for the first time the original site of the Twin Towers. According to its website, the Memorial’s twin reflecting pools are each nearly an acre in size and feature the largest manmade waterfalls in the North America. The pools sit within the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood.
Bronze panels inscribed with the names of every single person lost in the attacks are a somber testament surrounding the reflecting pools.
I also had the privilege of visiting the 9/11 Museum. It is both awe-inspiring and graphic. On that day, strangers became friends, helping those who were suffering. On that day rescue workers climbed to their deaths helping occupants of the buildings descend to the hope of life below.
Many displays are very emotional, but one that really struck me was the display of the cross erected at Ground Zero. As the world watched how America would react in this time of unspeakable grief, we bonded together with each other. Literally at the foot of the Cross, which was formed miraculously out of the steel beams of the collapsed buildings. It remains as it was then, a symbol of hope and a reminder of Him who sacrificed for all for us. And it reminds us of those brave men and women who gave their lives on 9/11 so others might live.
The rubbish took a total of eight months to clear, after which the rebuilding process began.
In 2014, the One World Trade Center was completed, becoming the tallest building in the United States with more than 100 stories.
Today, we remember those whose lives were taken on that fateful day 14 years ago. We will never forget.
September 9, 2015
My colleagues at FRC’s Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) have spent years documenting, copiously and irrefutably, that religious practice benefits families and children. As MARRI argues, “the intact married family that worships weekly is the greatest generator of human and social positive outcomes and thus it is the core strength of the United States and of all other countries where the data are available.”
Strong, two-parent families mean higher educational attainment and emotional health for children, greater income, less crime, and a host of other benefits. Those families that do best are the ones that attend a religious service together at least once a week. But essential to such worship and, thus, to the benefits that correlate with it, is another factor.
That would be religious liberty. Not just the right to attend a religious service at a given building unimpeded by the law. Not just private devotions in the four walls of one’s home. Not just “freedom of religion” in the sense that people can believe, in their minds, what they choose as long as they are silent about it.
September 8, 2015
In Kentucky, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has just been released from jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
There is a lot of misunderstanding about the nature of Mrs. Davis’s case. Various Christian writers have argued that she is embarrassing Evangelical faith, that she simply should resign, that Christian leaders’ rhetoric defending Mrs. Davis is overheated, etc.
What they are failing to consider are two essential concepts that underlie the Davis case. They are these:
Accommodation. Does not Mrs. Davis deserve some kind of accommodation? We accommodate so many other religious beliefs in both government and private-sector workplaces. Can we not find one for Mrs. Davis and others like her who, out of the integrity of their consciences, cannot do something that abrades the very core of their religious convictions?
September 8, 2015
Kim Davis is the Kentucky county clerk who was recently jailed by a federal judge for her refusing to violate her Christian conscience by issuing marriage licenses under her name and by her authority for same-sex unions. One of the chief arguments made against her conduct is that public officials cannot refuse to do the duties of their job.
So as I was researching this story, I found this excerpt, from an Associated Press article shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling ordering recognition of same-sex marriage in June, rather interesting:
It began in March 2014 when Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway — a former U.S. Senate candidate who is now running for governor — decided not to appeal the initial federal court decision that overturned Kentucky’s same sex marriage ban. During an emotional news conference at the Capitol, he said that to appeal would be to defend discrimination.
However, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear later overruled Conway and hired private attorneys to defend the state’s ban in federal court.
“His job as governor was to take the emotion out of it and say, ‘What’s the rule of law going to be?” said Colmon Elridge, Beshear’s longtime aide. “And the only way to do that was to get a final ruling from the Supreme Court.”
. . .
Conway, meanwhile, has faced critics who suggest he ignored his duties as attorney general. While Republican nominee for governor Matt Bevin criticized the Supreme Court’s ruling, he especially targeted Conway, who he said “abandoned his oath of office.” Bevin said Conway’s “failure to do his job … disqualifies him from being elected to the office of governor.”
“How can voters trust him not to break his oath again?” Bevin said.
Whitney Westerfield, the Republican nominee for attorney general, also blasted Conway in his reaction to the court’s decision.
“Unlike Attorney General Jack Conway, who failed in his responsibility to fight for the laws of this commonwealth, as Attorney General I will act to uphold the law even as it runs counter to my personal beliefs,” Westerfield said in a news release.
Did anyone try to put Attorney General Conway in jail for refusing to do his job?
September 2, 2015
The Daily Signal recently published my piece on why women don’t need Planned Parenthood and how they are actually better off if the $528 million in federal and state funds that is currently going to Planned Parenthood, is made available to Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs). These clinics offer more comprehensive women’s health care than Planned Parenthood ever has. In fact, there is not one unique service that Planned Parenthood offers that women can’t get elsewhere.
For those interested in a more in-depth look at the specific services offered by FQHCs and RHCs, here are the findings. The primary health services that FQHCs and RHCs are listed and defined in the Public Health Service Act including general, preventive, diagnostic, emergency and pharmaceutical health services:
(i) basic health services which, for purposes of this section, shall consist of-
(I) health services related to family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics, or gynecology that are furnished by physicians and where appropriate, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and nurse midwives;
(II) diagnostic laboratory and radiologic services;
(III) preventive health services, including-
(aa) prenatal and perinatal services
(bb) appropriate cancer screening;
(cc) well-child services;
(dd) immunizations against vaccine-preventable diseases;
(ee) screenings for elevated blood lead levels, communicable diseases, and cholesterol;
(ff) pediatric eye, ear, and dental screenings to determine the need for vision and hearing correction and dental care;
(gg) voluntary family planning services; and
(hh) preventive dental services;
(IV) emergency medical services; and
(V) pharmaceutical services as may be appropriate for particular centers;
(ii) referrals to providers of medical services
(iii) patient case management services
(iv) services that enable individuals to use the services of the health center
(v) education of patients and the general population served by the health center regarding the availability and proper use of health services.
In addition, the Medicare Benefit Policy Manual for FQHCs and RHCs lists the following covered services under Medicare for qualifying individuals. RHC services listed in section 50.1 include:
- Physicians’ services of diagnosis, therapy, surgery, and consultation. These include the services of doctors of medicine, osteopathy, dental surgery, dental medicine, podiatry, optometry, or chiropractic who are licensed and practicing.
- Services of Nurse Practitioners (NPs), Physician Assistants (PAs), and Certified Nurse Midwife Services (CNMs).
- Certified Psychologist (CP) and certified Social Worker (CSW) services.
- Visiting nurse services to the homebound.
RHC services covered by Medicare also include certain preventive services such as:
- Influenza, Pneumococcal, Hepatitis B vaccinations;
- Hepatitis C screenings;
- IPPE;Annual Wellness Visit; and
- Medicare-covered preventive services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).
FQHC services listed in section 50.2 include all of the above services listed in section 50.1 above, and specifically:
- Screening mammography;
- Screening pap smear and screening pelvic exam;
- Prostate cancer screening tests;
- Colorectal cancer screening tests;
- Diabetes outpatient self-management training (DSMT) services;
- Diabetes screening tests;
- Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) services;
- Bone mass measurement;
- Screening for glaucoma;
- Cardiovascular screening blood tests; and
- Ultrasound screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm
Another Health and Human Services (HHS) flyer on preventive primary health services shows that the following services are covered when furnished by FQHCs to a Medicare patient:
- Medical social services;
- Nutritional assessment and referral;
- Preventive health education;
- Children’s eye and ear examinations;
- Well child care, including periodic screening;
- Immunizations, including tetanus-diphtheria booster and influenza vaccine;
- Voluntary family planning services;
- Taking patient history;
- Blood pressure measurement;
- Weight measurement;
- Physical examination targeted to risk;
- Visual acuity screening;
- Hearing screening;
- Cholesterol screening;
- Stool testing for occult blood;
- Tuberculosis testing for high risk patients;
- Dipstick urinalysis; and
- Risk assessment and initial counseling regarding risks.
For women only:
- Prenatal and post-partum care;
- Prenatal services;
- Clinical breast examination;
- Referral for mammography; and
- Thyroid function test.
Planned Parenthood on the other hand, lists in its most recent report only the following categories for services it offers: STI/STD testing and treatment, contraception, cancer screening and prevention, other women’s health services, abortion and other services.
Its services are quite limited—services which are already being offered by FQHCs and RHCs, excepting abortion.
Congress and states must defund Planned Parenthood and the money be made available to these other health clinics which are much more comprehensive in their health care offerings than Planned Parenthood. Women, families and children deserve better health care than what Planned Parenthood offers.
August 25, 2015
Over the weekend, I was very encouraged to see the turnout and the passion at the Protest Planned Parenthood rally in D.C. Concerned Americans rallied at over half of the nation’s Planned Parenthood facilities. In fact, so far 280 of the 353 cities reported a total of more than 68,000 people rallying in 49 states and six countries at the largest protest of Planned Parenthood since its existence.
This is historic. The Washington Post reported on the “thousands” of protesters, but that number will likely be above 100,000 participants once all of the cities have been tallied-up.
The national momentum to investigate and defund Planned Parenthood is growing. There are now 13 states that have announced investigations and five states that have defunded their state Planned Parenthood. Yet, we must keep up the pressure. The rallies gave an opportunity for those who felt horrified and helpless after watching the gruesome videos released by the Center for Medical Progress to do something in their very own communities and stand up for women who are being exploited and for the unborn babies whose organs are being trafficked.
Planned Parenthood’s other non-abortion services can easily be replaced by the close to 15,000 federally-qualified health centers. In fact, Planned Parenthood’s annual report reveals that such preventive services as cancer screening and prevention programs and prenatal services, have dropped by half, while its abortion numbers remain up. And, by the way, Planned Parenthood provides no mammograms.
Not only can we do without Planned Parenthood, but we are better off defunding it so that over half a billion taxpayer dollars will be available to comprehensive women’s health clinics that actually care for women’s health.
We must continue to urge Congress and state leaders both to investigate Planned Parenthood for its blatant human rights abuses and defund it. Please join over 20,000 and sign this FRC petition calling for Congress to remove funds from Planned Parenthood. What the rallies across the country have shown is that our voices joined together are making an impact. We need to keep the pressure up in our local communities and states so that this organization does not benefit from one more dime of taxpayer funds and that it will be investigated for its indisputably evil practices.
August 20, 2015
George Washington once said, “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.” Benjamin Franklin, deemed one of our nation’s most irreligious Founders, opined that “only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
Once upon a time, through tax-exemptions and other initiatives, our nation sought to encourage religious groups to contribute to society by teaching the populace to be moral and to care for those who are less fortunate. However, in recent days, even leaders of the “free” world are calling for the faith community to ensconce their beliefs behind the four walls of the church. No longer are religious beliefs seen as a necessary support for society, but rather as discriminatory ideas set against the “public interest.” No longer does our society understand that Christianity is not only what a person does on Sunday but also the way he or she lives throughout the entire week; not only in one’s private life but also in one’s public life. In an age of multiculturalism, Christianity is seen as culture-killing rather than life-giving, and thus, many are trying to suppress it.
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton even said that in order to promote a social agenda in Africa, “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.” Her remarks reveal the fact that Christian culture is increasingly viewed as a hindrance to society and thus orthodoxy at its best can be tolerated and at its worst ought to be suppressed. This shift has led to calls for the end of tax-exemptions for religious institutions.
August 18, 2015
The Colorado Court of Appeals recently ruled against Masterpiece Cakeshop and its owner Jack Phillips, affirming an administrative ruling that Phillips discriminated against homosexuals as a protected class, and directing him to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding—in spite of his religious objections to being forced to help celebrate a same-sex marriage. Phillips may now appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court, and possibly the U.S. Supreme Court, but his opportunities for vindicating his religious freedom in the courts are running out.
While David French does a good job of breaking down the ruling and summarizing its problems at National Review, I want to focus on one very problematic portion of the decision, buried at the end of Footnote 8: the court’s attempt to distinguish and reject a Kentucky judge’s decision earlier this year vindicating the right of a printing business, Hands on Originals, and its owner Blaine Adamson, to not be forced to print t-shirts for a gay pride parade. The Colorado Court of Appeals acknowledged the similarity of the Hands on Originals case, but then attempted to (unsatisfactorily) distinguish the two:
“[In Hands on Originals], evidence established that the T-shirt printer treated homosexual and heterosexual groups alike… . Specifically, in the previous three years, the printer had declined several orders for T shirts promoting premarital romantic and sexual relationships between heterosexual individuals, including those portraying strip clubs and sexually explicit videos… .
Although [Hands on Originals], like Masterpiece, based its refusal on its opposition to a particular conduct—premarital sexual relationships—such conduct is not “exclusively or predominantly” engaged in by a particular class of people protected by a public accommodations statute… .
Opposition to premarital romantic and sexual relationships, unlike opposition to same-sex marriage, is not tantamount to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”
At best, this is sloppy analysis. At worst, it’s an intentional slight-of-hand to get rid of an unhelpful case. Unfortunately, I suspect it’s the latter.
What the court misses in its characterization above is that Adamson was not primarily acting out of opposition to any one activity or group, but was simply seeking to live out his faith—which might be manifested from time to time in specific situations as being in opposition to certain behaviors that he finds morally objectionable. Adamson’s refusal to print the t-shirts was not primarily “based … on [his] opposition to a particular conduct—premarital sexual relationships,” but was based on the exercise of his one cohesive set of religious beliefs—which apply to many different types of sexual conduct.
The court fails to mention that Hands on Originals was charged with sexual orientation discrimination for not wanting to make t-shirts for a gay pride parade. Adamson was able to point to other instances where he lived out his beliefs at work—beliefs, just like those of Phillips, which are opposed to any sexual activity outside of God’s design, which includes opposition to any sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman.
Phillips sought to live out the same beliefs. The fact that he hasn’t had the “opportunity” to decline business from customers seeking to celebrate other types of sexual activity outside God’s design doesn’t convert his actions into discrimination against homosexuals as a class of people. The court didn’t seem to comprehend this point in erroneously distinguishing the Hands on Originals case. Indeed, Phillips was happy to serve customers regardless of sexual orientation; he just didn’t want to be implicated in their same-sex marriage.
Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop was living out the same beliefs as Blaine Adamson of Hands on Originals. The Colorado Court of Appeals should have likewise recognized and protected his freedom of belief. We must hope that other courts will have the courage to do so.
August 17, 2015
Here’s an upbeat family story about an Annapolis institution, Chick ‘n’ Ruth’s Delly. In business now for fifty years, this orange Formica, classic American eatery is known for its good food and good cheer. You can even order a sandwich named for your favorite Maryland politico. Best of all in this state that gave us the Star Spangled Banner is the daily Pledge of Allegiance ceremony (8:30 am weekdays/9:30 am weekends).
Click here to read the entire story.
August 17, 2015
What follows are three points regarding historic Christian teaching about human sexuality. This list is neither comprehensive nor thorough, but instead addresses three of the most commonly-raised issues relating to the Bible and sexual matters.
- Of the three components of the Mosaic law, the ceremonial and sacrificial element was symbolic of both the need for holiness and the need of a mediator between God and man, and the civil element applied only to Israel in a specific historic context (although the principles are relevant - e.g., the prohibition against allowing children to play on rooftops so they won’t fall off was animated by trans-cultural need to protect children). The moral element of the Mosaic law articulated in Exodus through Deuteronomy is composed of commandments that are found from Genesis through Revelation. The moral law is applicable to all people at all times.
- Using careful exegesis and sound hermeneutical principles, faithful believers can come to different conclusions about eschatological, ecclesiastical, and other non-essential theological matters. But no honest evaluation of Scripture can lead to any conclusion other than that sexual intimacy is reserved for one man and one woman in the covenant of marriage. This teaching is not ambiguous; it is clear.
- If the Bible is God’s written Word, its teaching is not malleable and the truths it teaches cannot be tailored to any culture’s preferences. If all Scripture is God-breathed, its authority is final. Thus, faithful Christians are not to employ fanciful exegetical gymnastic exercises to obtain the result they wish but are called by God to submit to His propositional, clear, and authoritative Word.
To learn more on this topic watch FRC’s lecture featuring Robert Gagnon, as well as our articles ‘Leviticus, Jesus, and Homosexuality’ and ‘The Bible’s Teaching on Marriage and Family.’