Author archives: Krystle Gabele

Supreme Court takes a “Painful Bite” out of Free Speech

by Lindsey Keiser

June 18, 2015

While the Supreme Court protected free speech by invalidating town sign ordinances that restricted speech according to its content in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, the Court’s decision today in Walker v. Texas Div. of Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc. took “a large and painful bite out of the First Amendment,” as Justice Alito noted in dissent.

Drivers in most states have the option of selecting either ordinary or specialty license plates. In Texas, specialty license plates are purchased for a fee in addition to the registration cost and the design of these specialty licenses can be called for by the state legislature, created by a state-designated private vendor at the request of an individual or organization, or based on the application from a non-profit seeking to sponsor a specialty plate. In Walker, a non-profit, the Sons of Confederate Veterans applied twice to sponsor a specialty plate that would have included a Confederate flag but was denied both times.

The Supreme Court ruled that the specialty license plates are not private speech, but are instead government speech. Therefore, any decisions regarding the designs are not subject to scrutiny under the First Amendment.

It is true that license plates are government tools to identify vehicles and make money but that should not mean that anything on a license plate is government speech. Justice Alito disagreed with the majority and offered some examples as to why licenses are not government speech:

If a car with a plate that says ‘Rather Be Golfing’ passed by at 8:30 am on a Mon­day morning, would you think: ‘This is the official policy of the State — better to golf than to work?’ If you did your viewing at the start of the college football season and you saw Texas plates with the names of the University of Texas’s out-of-state competitors in upcoming games — Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, the University of Oklahoma, Kansas State, Iowa State — would you assume that the State of Texas was officially (and perhaps treasonously) rooting for the Longhorns’ opponents? And when a car zipped by with a plate that reads ‘NASCAR — 24 Jeff Gordon,’ would you think that Gordon (born in California, raised in Indiana, resides in North Carolina)is the official favorite of the State government?

True to his intent, these examples from Justice Alito show that simply because some logo or phrase is included on a license plate, the government is not automatically claiming it as its view or its speech. Instead the viewers — and the government — know that the license plate is representing the views and the speech of the driver.

Justice Alito also discusses some of the potential implications the Walker decision could have on free speech in the future including the use of other types of billboards along highways or on college campuses, highlighting the concern that the government can now limit private speech because it finds it displeasing if the government is the one providing the billboard or funding the campus in some manner.

An immediate concern is what implication Walker will have on other specialty license plate cases like the ones in New York and North Carolina. In New York, an organization promoting adoption as an alternative to abortion submitted a design for a specialty plate reading “Choose Life.” The design was denied and the Second Circuit upheld the denial. Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Walker, the “Choose Life” license plate in New York is not likely to be allowed because the situation is so similar. In both cases, it was a non-profit organization that submitted the request and in both instances, the government denied it. Since the government is not barred by the Free Speech Clause from determining the content of what it says, there is no free speech scrutiny for government speech including decisions about specialty license plates.

However, the North Carolina case, Berger v. American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, which has requested certiorari in the Supreme Court may have a different outcome. In Berger, the North Carolina state legislature passed a bill authorizing the creation of several new specialty plates including a “Choose Life” plate. The ACLU has challenged the legislation. Since it was the state legislature that authorized the creation of the “Choose Life” plate, that decision is government speech and in Walker, the Supreme court says that, “as a general matter, when the government speaks, it is entitled to promote a program, to espouse a policy, or to take a position.” Therefore, North Carolina should be able to create a “Choose Life” plate without also offering a “Pro-Choice” specialty plate.

While it is certainly a recognized principle that the government can speak freely, it is also a Constitutional right that individual citizens can speak freely. The views that individuals express are to be protected — even and especially if they are not popular views. Unfortunately, with the Walker decision, the Supreme Court has chipped away at the American citizens’ ability to express their views and has made Americans dependent on the government sharing their views in order to express them.

WATCH: In 6 Minutes, Local Pastor Shares Why the Supreme Court’s Marriage Case Matters for Us All

by Josh M. Shepherd

May 19, 2015

How can an evangelical pastor address current issues that affect his congregation? Reverend Bill Shuler, lead pastor of Capital Life Church in Arlington, Virginia, led by example in a recent sermon – addressing the cultural shift on the definition of marriage.

His sermon on May 10, entitled “Scattered Seeds,” centered on how God can redeem His people in seasons of struggle. In an aside about how the next generation faces a barrage of influences hostile to faith, Rev. Shuler spoke on tolerance, God’s heart of love… and why believers cannot ignore how changing views on marriage policy can affect their religious freedom.

Why does it matter what the Supreme Court has to say in a matter of days in regards to marriage?” he begins, then proceeds to answer the question – starting at the personal level.

The Bible speaks way beyond tolerance,” he says. “The Bible commands us to love people, no matter their decisions. I’ve counseled people for what is, this year, now 30 years of full-time ministry. I’m commanded to love unconditionally, no matter who comes into my office.”

Jesus is truth and love,” Rev. Shuler preaches. “We are commanded to love. But I want you to know, we are commanded to walk by standards that are found in the scriptures and we must stand upon those.”

So the Supreme Court will make a decision,” notes Rev. Shuler, turning to national policy and its potential effect on believers nationwide. “In the days ahead, it is very possible that the government may become all the more intrusive when it comes to churches.”

Following a brief historical account of the often-misunderstood separation of church and state, Rev. Shuler gives a few real-life examples of intrusions beginning to happen. “Now the concern is, the government can demand of the church that you hire people who may not abide by the standards of the scriptures.”

Or, [the government can demand] that you must marry a couple even if the couple does not line up with the definition of marriage in the scriptures.”

What will the response be if we don’t do that?” Rev. Shuler considers. “We love people, but we cannot make that compromise. This is where we don’t know for certain yet what will happen.”

He presents one scenario: “Tax-exempt status could be taken away. Are you ready to support the church and the Gospel even if we’re not tax-exempt, because we stood on our convictions?” Another possible result, he says, could be “churches lose their buildings.”

I’m not here to stir up something where we’re getting scared,” he says. “But we need to take this seriously. I believe that in this generation, if you don’t take it seriously, your children and grandchildren will look at you and say: Why didn’t you do something when it all was turning?

We need to know where we stand,” he concludes the brief discussion. “We love everybody. We should treat everybody with respect and love. There should not be a sense of treating people with some sort of unique disdain solely to those people because of their decisions.”

We still stand for holiness and righteousness,” he says, pointing to his Bible. “And we believe this to be the authoritative Word of God, and this is where we stand.”

In regards to the court case, Rev. Shuler leaves his congregation with a point of action. “We will see what happens on this, but we need to pray.”

Josh M. Shepherd serves in communications at the Justice House of Prayer DC, an evangelical missions organization serving Washington, DC and the nation through ongoing prayer and strategic activism. He and his wife Terri are also Capital Life Church members.

The Social Conservative Review: October 9, 2014

by Krystle Gabele

October 9, 2014

Click here to subscribe to the Social Conservative Review.


Dear Friends,

In his lecture yesterday at FRC, “Renaissance: The Power of the Christian Gospel However Dark the Times,” renowned scholar Dr. Os Guinness offered encouraging words for Christians ready to “throw in the towel” as events at home and abroad sometimes look bleak.

Any gloom and doom today is totally unwarranted,” said Dr. Guinness. “There are no answers so deep and true as those in the Christian faith.”

Are we proclaiming and articulating those answers confidently, humbly, graciously, and persuasively? Serious believers should be asking themselves that question often. Dr. Guinness noted that “the church always goes forward by going backward first” — by returning to its first love, Jesus Christ, and the eternal truths of God’s Word. This is one of the paradoxes of God’s kingdom — we advance by retracing our path to His unchanging message. For the sake of advancing “a culture in which human life is valued, families flourish and religious liberty thrives,” taking a few steps back to what really matters is always a good idea.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice President
Family Research Council

P.S. What’s going on with ebola, Islamic terrorism, and American security? Learn from FRC’s Lt. Gen. (ret) Jerry Boykin, former commander of the Delta Force, as he explains what’s happening in a Fox News interview.


Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life
Abortion

Euthanasia/End of Life Issues

Stem Cells and Biotechnology

Marriage & Family
Education

Family Life

Human Sexuality

Homosexuality and Same-Sex “Marriage”

Pornography

Human trafficking

Religious Liberty

Religion in Public Life

International Religious Liberty

Other important articles

Book Reviews

The Social Conservative Review: September 25, 2014

by Krystle Gabele

September 25, 2014

Click here to subscribe to The Social Conservative Review.


Dear Friends:

So now even the federal government affirms what FRC and others have been saying for years: President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA, or ObamaCare) subsidizes abortion.

According to a report issued by the General Accountability Office earlier this month, “1,036 qualified health plans in … 28 states cover non-excepted abortion services.” Commenting on the report. FRC President Tony Perkins said, “Not only does Obamacare fund elective abortion, but the ACA only requires that the information about elective abortion coverage be provided after an individual purchases a plan. Americans should not be forced to play a game of moral Russian roulette when they select a health care plan.”

That’s why the director of FRC’s Center for Human Dignity, Arina Grossu, joined U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and other national pro-life leaders at a Capitol Hill news conference a few days ago to say FRC “call(s) on Congress to vote for H.R. 7, the ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion’ and the ‘Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act.’ The American people deserve real answers, real options, real transparency and absolutely no taxpayer funding of abortion.”

The more complex the legislation, the less accountability and transparency it provides. In a republic in which representative self-government depends on integrity and knowledge, accountability and transparency are essential. Let’s demand them from Congress and from our President when it comes to paying for something - abortion - tens of millions of Americans can never approve.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice President
Family Research Council

P.S. It’s not too late to register for FRC’s annual “Values Voter Summit” this weekend to hear from some of America’s leading conservative voices and find out how you can help advance faith, family, and freedom.


Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life
Abortion

Euthanasia/End of Life Issues

Stem Cells and Biotechnology

Marriage & Family
Education

Family Life

Human Sexuality

Homosexuality and Same-Sex “Marriage”

Pornography

Human trafficking

Religious Liberty

Religion in Public Life

International Religious Liberty

Other important articles

Book Reviews

Data Mining” Core or Common Core?

by Krystle Gabele

September 12, 2014

On Tuesday, FRC hosted a webcast, “Common Core: The Government’s Classroom,” which featured several government officials and education experts discussing the flaws behind the Obama Administration’s program designed to improve testing and curriculum. Common Core has experienced quite a bit of backlash from both educators and parents alike, as the standards for this program were not fully developed prior to implementation at the state level.

Jane Robbins, J.D., with the American Principles Project, was one of the experts who appeared on our webcast. Robbins discussed how data mining is being used to collect information on students, thus violating their privacy and threatening parental rights. Watch Jane Robbins’s interview below.

The Social Conservative Review: September 11, 2014

by Krystle Gabele

September 11, 2014

Click here to subscribe to The Social Conservative Review.


Dear Friends,

All responsible moms and dads in America are concerned with their children’s education. Public school, private school, Christian school, home school: Whatever choice parents make for their kids, they care deeply about how and what they will learn.

That’s why FRC has taken a strong stance on the Common Core education standards being promoted by the Obama Administration. Earlier this week, FRC President Tony Perkins and Senior Fellow Sarah Perry, J.D., hosted a nationwide webcast on what Common Core is and the dangers it imposes. Joined by such leading voices as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Will Estrada, Esq. of the Home School Legal Defense Association, and esteemed educator Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Tony and Sarah explained why the Common Core standards threaten not just the educational competence of the next generation, but the whole premise of our society: That parents and children belong to one another, not any government program, however well-intentioned.

Watch the program here and join us in taking action. It’s about families, children, and the future of our country.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice President
Family Research Council

P.S. How does a man who can’t walk run in a 5k? Adult stem cell transplants! Watch the amazing story of Bryan Hinkle and learn more at FRC’s StemCellResearchFacts.org.


Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life
Abortion

Euthanasia/End of Life Issues

Stem Cells and Biotechnology

Marriage & Family
Education

Family Life

Human Sexuality

Homosexuality and Same-Sex “Marriage”

Pornography

Human trafficking

Religious Liberty

Religion in Public Life

International Religious Liberty

Other important articles

Book Reviews

The Social Conservative Review: August 28, 2014

by Krystle Gabele

August 28, 2014

Click here to subscribe to The Social Conservative Review.


Dear Friends,

Baseball great Lou Gehrig is one of my heroes. His photo is on the wall of my office and I recall vividly seeing his uniform at baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Gehrig probably was, in the words of his biographer, the greatest first baseman ever to play the game. His record as a hitter and player generally remains, more than 70 years after his death, the stuff of legend.

Just about everyone is familiar now with the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” in which ice water is poured over one’s head in the hope of generating gifts to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association. ALS, commonly called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” tragically cut short the Iron Horse’s life, and remains a debilitating disease for which there is no cure.

Sadly, as my colleague Dr. David Prentice notes, the ALSA has admitted that it gives some of its money to embryonic stem cell research.”

So, Dr. Prentice, one of America’s most distinguished stem cell biologists, has suggested that instead of sending money to the ALSA, you send it to alternative groups that are performing leading-edge ALS research without using human embryos. Instead, they use adult stem cells, the ethics and effectiveness of which are unquestioned. Here’s a link to access groups like the Mayo Clinic and the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center that are working to conquer ALS without sacrificing nascent human lives.

I have been challenged by my sons and one of my nephews to stand beneath an ice bucket, as they have done. I’m thinking about it. But one thing none of us has to think about: Adult stem cells save lives, ethically, and that’s something to celebrate during baseball season and always.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice President
Family Research Council

P.S. Join us in Washington, D.C. for our annual Values Voter Summit from Sept. 26-28! For more details, click here.


Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life
Abortion

Euthanasia/End of Life Issues

Stem Cells and Biotechnology

Marriage & Family
Education

Family Life

Human Sexuality

Homosexuality and Same-Sex “Marriage”

Pornography

Human trafficking

Religious Liberty

Religion in Public Life

International Religious Liberty

Other important articles

Book Reviews

The Social Conservative Review: August 14, 2014

by Krystle Gabele

August 14, 2014

Click here to subscribe to the Social Conservative Review.


Dear Friends:

I’m not in the habit of quoting Osama bin Laden in The Social Conservative Review, but in light of the events in Iraq against Christians and other religious minorities, the words of this devout mass murderer seem apt: “There are only three choices in Islam: either willing submission; or payment of the jizya, through physical though not spiritual, submission to the authority of Islam; or the sword — for it is not right to let him (an infidel) live. The matter is summed up for every person alive: Either submit, or live under the suzerainty of Islam, or die.”

Not everyone would accept his interpretation of the Quran, but certainly the jihadists in Iraq do. Here’s how the respected journal Foreign Policy describes one Iraqi Christian’s story: “Salwan, an engineer and father of two from Mosul (said that) when he heard that France was ready to welcome displaced Christians, he joined the long queue of people in Erbil applying for asylum. Soon, he hopes to wave goodbye to his lifelong home. ‘There is no future for Christians in Iraq,’ he said. ‘Christians in Iraq are over’.”

What can Christians in America do? Groups like Samaritan’s Purse and the Knights of Columbus are working to provide aid to the Christians who have fled from their homes as the wave of Islamist terror continues. We can give to them, but we must also pray for those who identify as followers of Jesus as they experience such great loss and, in some cases, such great brutality. And we should pray for their persecutors, that they would turn from violence and instead find true peace in Christ.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice President
Family Research Council

P.S. Next week, FRC President Tony Perkins will be in Israel to stand with that troubled nation during a time of great need. Tony will be broadcasting his daily radio show from Israel and will offer on-the-ground reports of what’s happening. Be sure to listen here.


Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life
Abortion

Euthanasia/End of Life Issues

Stem Cells and Biotechnology

Marriage & Family
Common Core

Family Life

Human Sexuality

Homosexuality and Same-Sex “Marriage”

Pornography

Human trafficking

Religious Liberty

Religion in Public Life

International Religious Liberty

Other important articles

Book Reviews

The Social Conservative Review: July 31, 2014

by Krystle Gabele

July 31, 2014

Click here to subscribe to the Social Conservative Review.


Dear Friends:

Our troubled culture presents no shortage of opportunities for social conservatives to take action to rebuild the family, advance the sanctity of life, strengthen marriage, and protect religious liberty. Here are some new resources that will better equip you to join FRC in these vital efforts:

  • Pornography is a cancer, and we have to fight it like the disease it is. We’ve just published, “Pornography and Its Consequences,” authored by FRC Senior Fellow Cathy Ruse. This study offers practical tools to help you fight this scourge in your church, your community, and your family.
  • Common Core - Uncommon Dilemmais the title of a recent lecture panel here at FRC that addresses one of the most significant issues in American education, the “Common Core” standards being imposed on the states. Watch and listen to leading experts share their concerns with “Common Core” and find out how the standards place your children at risk.
  • Marriage Is a Religious Liberty Issue,” says the director of FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty, Travis Weber. Read his compelling piece to learn how these two critical issues intersect.
  • Rev. Jack Hibbs, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel-Chino Hills in California and a member of FRC President Tony Perkins’ National Pastors Council, spoke out boldly on Fox News about the danger of the IRS potentially working to remove tax-exempt status from churches that take a stand on moral issues.

As we seek to uphold the good and true in government, society, and family, we can never quit “speaking the truth in love” and acting with the wisdom and courage needed for the task. FRC is here to help you do just that.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice President
Family Research Council

P.S. How is the Supreme Court ruling on our “first freedom,” religious liberty? Learn more from Dr. Mark David Hall by watching his lecture on this key subject when it’s broadcast at noon on August 8.


Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life
Abortion

Euthanasia/End of Life Issues

Stem Cells and Biotechnology

Marriage & Family
Common Core

Family Life

Human Sexuality

Homosexuality and Same-Sex “Marriage”

Pornography

Human trafficking

Religious Liberty

Religion in Public Life

International Religious Liberty

Other important articles

Book Reviews

The Social Conservative Review: July 16, 2014

by Krystle Gabele

July 16, 2014

Click here to subscribe to the Social Conservative Review.


Dear Friends,

FRC is blessed to have classes of interns composed of some of the finest, brightest, most promising young men and women in America.

They come from every size and type of college and university, and work on every facet of the public policy issues we address here at the Family Research Council. Whether in doing analysis for our Marriage and Religion Research Institute, research for our pro-life initiatives, supporting our Government Affairs department, or advancing FRC’s message in the media, their contributions are important and their work is substantive.

Many of them are talented writers whose additions to the FRC Blog and publications in newspapers of all kinds help showcase not only their talent but their deep commitment to faith, family, and freedom. Here are some of their recent articles:

  • Haley Halverson (Hillsdale College) has written a moving piece on her family’s adoption of her brother Eli in, “Adoption Made Me Love Superman.”
  • Rachel Del Guidice of the University of Akron offers a powerful description of the value of religious liberty in, “Keeping the Freedom Fire Ignited.”
  • Emma Vinton, also of Hillsdale, shared a wonderful reflection on how her Dad has shown her the love of a Heavenly Father in a piece titled simply, “Our Father.”
  • Connor Headrick (Louisiana College) charges Christians to stand strong for the truth in “Finding a Firm Foundation.”
  • Bob Jones University’s Elizabeth Folger discusses the importance of sexual abstinence in, “Why Avoid Sexual Risk?.”
  • Regent Law School’s James Wheeler ranks first in his class. He discusses the recent Hobby Lobby decision in, “Burwell v. Hobby Lobby: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”
  • And Liberty University’s Hannah Solem writes about Planned Parenthood’s desperate, irreverent effort to “Use God to Boost Abortion Sales.”

To learn more about FRC’s internship program, visit our Internship page and share your interest with us.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice President
Family Research Council

P.S. Join U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, M.D.(R-Md.) and our own Dr. David Prentice for a noontime lecture, “Human Cloning and Bioethics: Restoring Ethics in a Crazy World” on July 17. Register to attend or watch online, both at no charge, here.

Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life
Abortion

Euthanasia/End of Life Issues

Stem Cells and Biotechnology

Marriage & Family
Common Core

Family Life

Human Sexuality

Homosexuality and Same-Sex “Marriage”

Pornography

Human trafficking

Religious Liberty

Religion in Public Life

International Religious Liberty

Other important articles

Book Reviews

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