FRC Blog

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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The Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration: What It Got Right and What It Got Wrong

by Travis Weber , Natalie Pugh

October 3, 2017

Earlier this month, religious leaders of various faiths met at the Beverley Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles to celebrate the newly signed Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration—a notable document because it is a proclamation supporting some degree of religious freedom sponsored and backed by a majority Muslim country.

While the majority of Bahrain’s population is Shia Muslim, most of its government positions are held by Sunni Muslims. In addition, there are small numbers of Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, and Jews all living in the country. Against this multi-religious backdrop, the religious freedom declaration was backed and signed by the King of Bahrain.

What did the declaration get right?

This document makes a lot of statements worth celebrating. First of all, it declares that “religious faith and expression are inalienable rights” which provides the foundation for promoting religious freedom. In Part II, it rejects forced observance of a religion and claims that every person has the right to practice their religion as long as they do not harm any others in the process. Part III focuses more on the harm that has been done in the name of religion and condemns all terrorist activities such as “the sowing of terror, the encouragement of extremism and radicalization, suicide bombing, promotion of sexual slavery, and the abuse of women and children.” The religious rights and responsibilities established in Part IV state that individuals have a right to practice their religion and the government has a responsibility to protect citizens of all religions. Overall, these are all commendable statements that seem to show a genuine interest in protecting religious freedom.

Where did it fall short?

While the document expressly states that it does not condone compelled religion, it still does not allow Muslims the freedom to convert away from their religion, as it is illegal to proselytize Muslims in Bahrain. While Part II recognizes the freedom to choose one’s faith, this is conditioned on submitting to the laws of the land. What happens when the laws of the land prohibit conversion, such as in the case of Bahrain and many other nations with Islamic teaching reflected in their laws? These Muslims still don’t have religious freedom in spite of this declaration, and neither do non-Muslims have the freedom to share their faith with Muslims.

Other portions of the declaration are meandering and vague. For instance, while the goal of Section III is admirable and the specific activities listed are reprehensible, this section’s condemnation of certain activities does not have a fixed and clear target. Instead, the list is prefixed with the statement: “Any act that is found morally repugnant by the vast majority of mankind and is insulting to our collective moral conscience cannot be part of God’s revealed will.” Yet religious expression should not be censored by the fickle morality of the majority.

Another statement of concern is the admonition that the clergy teach that “extremism is not holier than moderation.” Extremism and radicalism have become synonymous with terrorism and therefore are evil words in modern rhetoric. But the words themselves need some context to have any meaning. In some ways, being “extreme” is good. For example, before he gathered many supporters, William Wilberforce was quite “extreme” in his campaign to abolish slavery. He might have been termed “extreme,” but it it was a noble cause motivated by his Christian faith. It didn’t matter that not many were on his side. Spiritually speaking, being extreme is a fundamental part of being a Christian. We are called to be on fire for Christ; being lukewarm or moderate is not enough (Revelations 3:15-16). What is extreme to one is moderate to another, and vice versa. “Extreme” may not always correspond to “evil,” and the declaration needs more context to make sense of this point.

The Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration is only a statement of intent. Even though it was signed by the king, it is not a legally binding document. Yet it is a good start. Later this year, a team of lawyers will meet to work on turning the declaration into actual laws. Hopefully, the laws they write will fix some of the ambiguity and flaws in the original declaration. If that happens, we may see a platform which could serve as a source for some reform on religious freedom within the Islamic world. Until then, all we can do is hope and pray.

Travis Weber is the Director of FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty. Natalie Pugh is an intern at FRC.

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The Judicial Assault on Public School Privacy Policies

by FRC

October 2, 2017

Activist judges are continuing to rule against the rights of students, parents, and public school districts to determine their own bathroom and locker room privacy policies. In FRC’s latest Facebook Live event, Travis Weber, the director of FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty joins John Rustin, the President and Executive Director of the North Carolina Family Policy Council to discuss this important issue. Here is a summary of some of the key points made in this discussion:

  • The 7th Circuit Court’s recent decision in Kenosha Unified School District v. Whitaker was a loss of autonomy and ability of school districts and parents to set the policies they want for their students, particularly that of boys and girls using private facilities separately.
  • Since children are compelled by law to go to school, parents ought to have the right to help set policies with respect to privacy issues in bathrooms and locker rooms.
  • The Kenosha case is the latest example of why the federal judiciary often gets a bad name. It is a clear example of a judge who is unaccountable to the people imposing their own policy preference in law. The judge in the Kenosha case cited Title IX’s prohibition of sex discrimination as the reason why a student who identifies as transgender should be allowed to use the bathroom and other private facilities of their choice. Until very recently, Title IX has never been viewed as a means of forcing school districts to accommodate these claims.
  • In the Kenosha case, the school district was happy to accommodate the student who identified as transgender by offering them a separate private facility to use. As is often the case, however, this accommodation was viewed as unsatisfactory. Parties and individuals pushing the transgender bathroom agenda are often not trying to be reasonable—they instead demand that their proposed policies be made into law and be fully accepted by all.
  • Reasonable accommodations can be made to protect the privacy of students who identify as transgender without infringing upon the privacy rights of all the other students. The Kenosha school system has over 22,000 students, and yet the 7th Circuit Court inexplicably decided to throw out the privacy interests of 21,999 students on behalf of one student.
  • Cases like this are stark reminders of how important it is to have an administration that will appoint judges who faithfully read the text of the law and the Constitution and adhere to it without injecting their policy preferences.
  • FRC and the North Carolina Family Policy Council along with 19 other family policy organizations signed on to an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the Kenosha case in order to bring some sanity back to the bathroom privacy issue by not only allowing parents and school districts to have a say in determining privacy policies, but also to reinforce that biological sex distinctions matter in public educational facilities.
  • Even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recognized in 1975 that sex discrimination prohibitions in law did not mean that privacy must be compromised.
  • When courts rule as the 7th Circuit did in the Kenosha case, they are violating the rule of law itself by circumventing Congress, which alone has the people’s voice and the authority to change laws.

View the full video to find out more.

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Social Conservative Review - October 2, 2017

by Daniel Hart

October 2, 2017

Dear Friends,

Once upon a time in America, a person who held strong religious beliefs, adhered to religious doctrines, and acted accordingly in good faith to their fellow man was seen as a person of strength and good character, and was respected in the public sphere.

It appears that this era is now past. In a confirmation hearing last month for 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Amy Barrett, Senator Dianne Feinstein infamously voiced her disapproval of Barrett based on her Catholic beliefs: “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you.” This incident followed another unfortunate one in June, when Senator Bernie Sanders castigated Office of Management and Budget nominee Russell Vought for his Christian faith by saying that Vought is “not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about.”

In a very public way (that also happens to be a violation of the Constitution’s prohibition of using “religious tests”), Feinstein and Sanders are merely echoing what many Americans believe about religion—that in order to tolerate all religions, religious people must not let “dogma live loudly within” them.

If we examine this way of thinking, however, it fails to make sense. Religion is something that is so central to the human understanding of existence that our Founding Fathers enshrined it in the First Amendment of our Constitution. They knew what all people know deep down to be true—that every person, in the face of such profound mysteries like suffering and death, must have the freedom to not only believe what they want, but to exercise that freedom. In other words, not only must one have the freedom to believe, one must also have the freedom to live out those dearly-held beliefs in everyday life, especially if they reach to the core of who that person is.

Senators Dianne Feinstein and Bernie Sanders obviously have some very passionate political views that seem to reach to the core of who they are. If it is permissible to have such passionate views and beliefs in the realm of politics, how is it not equally permissible to have passionate religious views?

Even this most basic view of fairness is not adequate in understanding the true nature of religious conviction, however. All believers know that without faith and its “dogmas,” which give us the Ten Commandments, the nature of societal life will have no basis for moral behavior, and will eventually degenerate into chaos. Instead of denigrating Barrett and Vought for their strong convictions, Feinstein and Sanders should be praising them for their principled character and hoping that more nominees like them will step forward to serve the public interest.

May an increasing number of the American people and our elected political leaders better understand this truth, that religious conviction is not something to be tamped down as “intolerant,” but rather something to be celebrated as the anchor of moral goodness. Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.

Sincerely,

Dan Hart
Managing Editor for Publications
Family Research Council

 

FRC Articles

Supreme Court must take on heartbreaking surrogacy case – Arina Grossu

It’s Not About the Color. It’s About the Cross – Patrina Mosley

The Sexual Revolution, Sexual Freedom, and Hugh Hefner – Jourdan Stuart

Pence: Human Rights Council “Doesn’t Deserve its Name” – Travis Weber

40 Days for Life: Offering Hope and Life One Vigil at a Time – Arina Grossu

How Can Public School Students Exercise Their Religious Liberty Rights?

Why Are College Students Afraid of Free Speech? – Dan Hart

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

The Southern Poverty Law Center put me on its hate list. It’s a smear and I don’t belong there – Hannah Scherlacher, Fox News

Southern Poverty Law Center attempts to undermine America – Rebecca Hagelin, The Washington Times

California Legislature Passes Bill To Punish Elder-Care Workers Who Don’t Use Trans Pronouns – Georgi Boorman, The Federalist

A chilling study shows how hostile college students are toward free speech – Catherine Rampell, The Washington Post

In Response To Attacks, New Florida Law Aims To Protect Religious Expression In Public Schools – Ashley Bateman, The Federalist

Live Action: Twitter’s ban on pro-life ads is discriminatory and wrong – Kristi Burton Brown, Live Action

Judge Rules in Favor of Atheist Group, Says Cross on Penn. County Seal Must Be Removed – Michael Gryboski, The Christian Post

Free to Believe”

I’m a T-Shirt Maker With Gay Customers and Gay Employees. I Still Was Sued. – Blaine Adamson, The Daily Signal

Minnesota officials attempt to control the message of Christian filmmakers – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

International Religious Freedom

Coming home – June Cheng, WORLD

Australia: Documenting the tide of bigotry and hatred – Margaret Colwell, Mercatornet

The Senate must act now to save Christianity in Iraq – Carl Anderson, The Hill

Genocide in Burma: Why a Persecuted Muslim Minority Should Matter to Christians – John Stonestreet, The Christian Post

I Had No Fear of Death,’ Says Indian Priest Held Captive by Terrorists as He Returns to India – Anugrah Kumar, The Christian Post

 

Life

Abortion

Video: Pro-abortion politicians mislead women about Planned Parenthood – Live Action

A Path to Détente in the War over Abortion – Julia D. Hejduk, Public Discourse

Hawaii law forces pro-life pregnancy help centers to promote abortion – Rachel del Guidice, LifeSiteNews

Americans Confused About Abortion – American Culture & Faith Institute

Children’s Minister Aggressively Pushes to Legalize Abortions Killing Children – Micaiah Bilger, Life News

Rep. Trent Franks Hopes Pain-Capable Bill Shows ‘Inhumanity’ of Abortion – Katie Yoder, NewsBusters

Adoption

Gift-Motherhood, the Prius, and the Peace Corps: Reducing Abortion by Incentivizing Adoption – Julia D. Hejduk, Public Discourse

Bioethics

Surrogacy Reaches the Supreme Court – Kathleen Sloan, Public Discourse

U.S. doctors take official stance against euthanasia – Samantha Gobba, WORLD

Women and Bioethics: an ethics of care – Caterina Milo, C-Fam

Basic Bioethics: Forty ways to make a baby – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

New York Courts Rule Against “Aid in Dying” and Warn of Its Dangers – Richard M. Doerflinger, Public Discourse

Obamacare

GOP already eyeing next chance to revive Obamacare repeal – Seung Min Kim, Jennifer Haberkorn and Burgess Everett, Politico

 

Family

Economics/Education

Married Couples With Children and Jobs Cause Income Inequality – Terence P. Jeffrey, CNS News

The Marriage Divide: How and Why Working-Class Families Are More Fragile Today – W. Bradford Wilcox, Family Studies

How Did Marriage Become a Mark of Privilege? – Claire Cain Miller, The New York Times

Ban the Laptops, Yes – Mark Bauerlein, First Things

Betsy DeVos vs. the Mindless Mob at Harvard – Frederick M. Hess and Grant Addison, National Review

Marriage

Couples weather bickering with a little help from their friends – Science Daily

Cheap Sex Is Making Men Give Up On Marriage – Larry Getlen, American Culture & Faith Institute

6 Secrets to a Healthy Marriage (From Old Couples) – Jon Miltimore, Intellectual Takeout

What Nicole Kidman’s Emmy’s Kiss Says About Marriage and Infidelity – Chelsea Samelson, Acculturated

Faith/Character/Culture

Video: How To Have A Religious Argument (Facebook HQ) – Bishop Robert Barron, Word On Fire

Camille Paglia’s Teaching – Mark Bauerlein, First Things

If It Feels Like People Are Meaner Than Ever Now, Here’s What to Do About It – Julia Hogan, Verily

Many Atheists Aren’t So Sure: The Doubts of Doubters – Eric Metaxas, The Christian Post

The Unchanging Lordship of Christ in a World of Crises – Rob Schwarzwalder, The Stream

Why You Should Keep Taking Your Kids To Church Even When It Feels Pointless – Emily Carrington, The Federalist

Human Sexuality

Rocklin charter schools OK transgender books in elementary school – Diana Lambert, The Sacramento Bee

No Long-Term Harm? The New Scientific Silence on Child-Adult Sex and the Age of Consent – Mark Regnerus, Public Discourse

Sex diseases in US surge to record high – AFP

Podcast: God’s Work in the Midst of an Unplanned Pregnancy – Amy Ford, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

The Myth of “Sex Work” Named and Shamed – Marianna Orlandi, C-Fam

Why our willingness to offend can be the loving choice – Mike Goeke, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Human Trafficking

Child Exploitation: Solutions for Stemming the Growing Demand – Patrick A. Trueman, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Pornography

Pornography Is Worse Than Feminism – Samuel D. James, First Things

Hugh Hefner, Mourning, and Legacies: Beyond the Pipe and the Robe – Ed Stetzer, Christianity Today

How Hugh Hefner Hijacked Men’s Brains – Joe Carter, The Gospel Coalition

One Man’s Dream Destroyed Millions – Jon Bloom, Desiring God

Hugh Hefner Leaves Behind a Legacy of Sexual Exploitation, and a Public Health Crisis – Patrick Trueman, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Pornography, Addiction, and Human Happiness – Zac Alstin, Intellectual Takeout

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The Sexual Revolution, Sexual Freedom, and Hugh Hefner

by Jourdan Stuart

September 29, 2017

In his life, Hugh Hefner built an empire. Many, including himself, would say this empire was built on helping people explore their sexual freedom. His contribution to society is one that has given people the opportunity to look at sex with a different attitude. During his life, Mr. Hefner made it possible for everyone to have sex at his or her fingertips. However, this man did much more than just revolutionize the sex industry; he contributed to sowing confusion about what it means to be truly free.

In an interview, Mr. Hefner stated, “One of the great ironies in our society is that we celebrate freedom and then limit the parts of life where we should be most free.” In this age of sexual revolution, many Millennials are “exploring” their sexuality and falsely calling this “freedom.” I have to admit that I did not understand what it meant to be truly free until I got married. Yet many people my age would laugh at this idea as being absurd.

Here is the freedom that I have enjoyed. Because I waited for marriage, I do not have to spend my life concerned about whether my partners were healthy, or if they would leave me if I slept with them, or whether my partner would help me if I got pregnant. I do not have to lie awake at night wondering what I did wrong because my last partner left me even though I gave him everything; In marriage, I have been given an opportunity that I wish more people had; I have found a safe environment to explore and grow with someone who is going through life with me. We do not have to live in fear because we have each other and we have God.

God has given us the freedom; in fact, we are “called to be free, but do not use your freedom to indulge in the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13 NIV). Hugh Hefner promised to give people freedom to explore their sexuality, but all he did was give people an avenue to ruin their marriages and their lives by becoming slaves to their lustful fantasies.

Studies have shown that people who use pornography are less satisfied in marriage, lose interest in sexual intercourse, are more likely to be unfaithful, and can harm families. This not only physically affects marriages, but also leaves lasting devastation in its wake. Mr. Hefner wanted to create an environment for fun and freedom, but all he did was confuse people on what it meant to be truly free.

Jourdan Stuart is an intern at FRC.

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Pence: Human Rights Council “Doesn’t Deserve its Name”

by Travis Weber

September 27, 2017

Speaking at the United Nations last week, Vice President Pence had harsh words for the UN Human Rights Council—an entity he claimed “doesn’t deserve its name.”

As we look at the membership of the council today, we see nations that betray these timeless principles upon which this institution was founded. Today, the United Nations Human Rights Council actually attracts and welcomes many of the worst human rights violators in the world.” (emphasis mine). The vice president concluded, “[a] clear majority of the Human Rights Council’s members fail to meet even the most basic human rights standards.”

Pence singled out Cuba and Venezuela as examples of countries that didn’t belong there. They aren’t the only ones.

President Trump, speaking the day before, had emphasized the same point: “In some cases, states that seek to subvert this institution’s noble aims have hijacked the very systems that are supposed to advance them. For example, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council.”

While these words may seem harsh, they are true, and make a long-overdue point more world leaders need to recognize themselves.

While the UN began with a noble purpose and a framework to achieve a worthwhile goal, it has become corrupted in the years since 1945. The term “human rights”—which recognizes that all people have certain rights that come from God and not government because they are made in the imago dei, or “image of God”—must retain its core meaning to bear any fruit in the international arena. Yet the term has been used and abused over the years to mean many things to many people, and hence nothing at all. Through this definitional watering down along with intentional noncompliance and hypocrisy, we have achieved a “Human Rights” Council of human rights violators.

The only thing consistent about the council is its irrational and mind-boggling hatred of Israel, the Middle East’s most successful democracy and a human rights leader in that area of the world. As Vice President Pence pointed out, “[t]he council’s agenda item seven actually singles out Israel for discussion at every single meeting, something no other country must endure. As evidence, the Human Rights Council has passed more than 70 resolutions condemning Israel, while largely ignoring the world’s worst human rights abusers.” Such anti-Semitism further discredits the already scornful behavior of the council.

The UN was founded with a worthy goal, and it is one worth continuing to strive for. But striving includes reform where needed. The “head-in-the-sand” mentality too often taken in the face of ongoing problems will only prolong abuse and the suppression of human rights—not their protection.

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40 Days for Life: Offering Hope and Life One Vigil at a Time

by Arina Grossu

September 27, 2017

Arina O. Grossu, FRC’s director for the Center for Human Dignity, spoke last night at the 40 Days for Life 2017 opening event in Washington, D.C. Here are her remarks:

Good evening everyone. Thank you for being here. Every spring and fall in hundreds of cities worldwide, people gather as part of the 40 Days for Life campaign to pray for all of the mothers and babies who unfortunately end up at the doors of a Planned Parenthood. They pray not only for the protection of mothers, fathers, and babies that they be spared from the evil of abortion, but also for the conversion of all abortion workers and volunteers, and for an end to abortion itself. Participants of 40 Days for Life are part of a noble endeavor that has already borne so much fruit. Literally.

How effective exactly was 40 Days for Life this past spring alone? 637 babies were saved from abortion (8 here in fact), 13 abortion workers quit their jobs, and 9 abortion facilities closed.

On this 10th anniversary of 40 Days for Life and in their largest campaign yet, it is due to your efforts and those who have participated in 40 Days for Life that more than 13,300 babies are alive today. Some of these children are celebrating their 10th birthdays this year. What a great legacy for life!

Since the first 40 Days for Life in 2007, it has been present in 715 cities and 44 countries with 750,000 individual participants and 19,000 churches getting involved. Not only have over 13,000 babies been saved from abortion, but 154 abortion workers quit their jobs and 86 abortion facilities have closed.

We can and we must defund Planned Parenthood and redirect taxpayers’ dollars to comprehensive health care centers. We must not accept anything less. It is a shame that a couple of naysaying Senate Republicans have determined the fate of the Graham-Cassidy bill and it will not go for a vote. In addition to repealing and replacing Obamacare, including halting taxpayer funding for abortion, this bill would have defunded Planned Parenthood. We must find other solutions.

Why is it urgent that we defund Planned Parenthood? Because Planned Parenthood commits about one-third of all U.S. abortions at 328,348 abortions per year, and is the single biggest abortion business in America. Planned Parenthood aborted 900 babies every single day in 2015—one baby every 96 seconds.

We must defund Planned Parenthood because Planned Parenthood hurts women and children. It is a sham of an organization.

From 2009 to 2015, cancer screening and prevention programs have consistently decreased by close to two-thirds, breast exams have consistently decreased by over half (and we all know that Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms), and prenatal services have steadily decreased by more than three-quarters. In fact, in 2015, Planned Parenthood committed 35 abortions for every prenatal service it provided. It also committed 114 abortions for every adoption referral it made. According to Planned Parenthood’s 2015-2016 report, out of total services for pregnant women (adoption referrals, prenatal services, abortion), abortion accounted for 96 percent.

Planned Parenthood has not only had a decrease in services, but also a decrease in patients. In 2015, it had 2.4 million patients—100,000 less patients than in 2014.

Yet while its patient base and purported services continue to decrease, in 2015-2016, Planned Parenthood received $554.6 million in combined federal, state, and local government grants and contracts, an increase of $900,000 since the year prior, and the highest in government funding that Planned Parenthood has ever received.

Additionally, its total revenue for 2015-2016 was about $1.354 billion, the highest in its history.

Of all funding received by Planned Parenthood, 41 percent comes from taxpayers’ pockets. Why are we subsidizing an organization that kills babies? We don’t need Planned Parenthood.

There are 13,540 federally-qualified, low-cost, high quality health care clinics and rural health centers that can and should replace Planned Parenthood. They outnumber Planned Parenthood more than 20 to 1 nationally. They not only offer screening and prevention services, pap smears, cancer screenings, breast exams, and prenatal services, but they also offer a full spectrum of other primary care services that Planned Parenthood fails to provide such as mammograms, various immunizations, diabetes and glaucoma screenings, cholesterol screenings, well-child, mental health, and substance abuse services.

Imagine how much more we can do for women and children when an extra half a billion in taxpayer funds is restored for actual healthcare.

Remain steadfast because we are winning. As they say, “Keep calm and carry on.” Before we know it, Planned Parenthood will be obsolete. Planned Parenthood facilities and affiliates are at an all-time low, now down to 620 from 930 facilities, and 56 from 190 affiliates at their height.

There’s no better time than today to keep this momentum going. Our prayerful, loving presence in front of Planned Parenthoods and other abortion facilities rips at the very fabric of the abortion industry. Our prayerful presence exposes the dirty and evil deeds that go on behind these walls. Our prayerful presence reaches out to women in the depths of their despair and offers them a life-giving choice, for themselves and for their children. Our prayerful presence changes the hearts and minds of abortion workers. We are on the front lines fighting between life and death. Our task is to help every person we can to escape the grip of the evil of abortion. This is a sacred calling, one which we must not take lightly.

So from now until November 5, I invite you to once again join our brothers and sisters all around the world in building the culture of life—right here, right now. Take part in this 40 Days by praying and fasting, keeping a prayerful vigil outside of an abortion facility, and doing community outreach to spread the pro-life message. Get involved in your local efforts by visiting 40daysforlife.com. Remember that “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke). In these next 40 days, do something for life. You may never know all of the good effects your efforts for the cause of life in the next 40 days may make, or you may be blessed enough to one day hold a bright-eyed, pudgy, giggly baby who owes her life to your prayerful witness. Thank you.

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