Category archives: Misc.

Lady Liberty’s 130th Birthday in America

by Joshua Denton

June 17, 2015

The Statue of Liberty is just that – an icon of American liberty. The Lady in the Harbor arrived in America 130 years ago today. She stands for all that we as a nation represent and all that we as American citizens believe in. Religiously, politically, socially, economically – America is a nation that is overflowing with a rich heritage of Christianity.

Emma Lazarus wrote the following sonnet that is now placed on Lady Liberty’s pedestal.

’Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!’ cries she
With silent lips. ‘Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

If ever there was a mission minded message it would be the famous words of this poem. These are words that thrill the heart strings of all who love liberty and freedom. I am extremely proud to be a citizen of a nation that has such a strong foundation based on biblical principles of morality, freedom, and justice for all. As American citizens we do have a responsibility to extend the freedoms that we enjoy to others, and we also have a responsibility to protect our own freedoms.

James Truslow Adams, in his book The Epic of America, which was written in 1931, stated that the American dream is “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.” (p.214-215)

It is because of America’s rich Christian heritage that we have been a nation that traditionally is known as a place of safe-haven and refuge from persecution, prosecution, harassment, and torture because of our religious beliefs. A place where citizens are free to worship God according to conscience. In America we have liberty to worship God without facing more than mild opposition. Sadly, because not all nations have a Christian background like America, their citizens do not enjoy this privilege that we as Americans to often take for granted. A perfect example is these two pastors from Sudan who have been arrested and are facing the death penalty because of their faith in Christ. And we think it’s rough when we have to take a stand that’s “not cool.”

Liberty is a thing to be cherished. If we want to preserve liberty, freedoms, and the “American dream” we need to take lessons from history, previous governments, past heroes, and our recent problems. The Marquis de Lafayette referred to himself as “a missionary of liberty.” By passing along our rich Christian heritage we can extend the liberties and freedoms that we currently enjoy to future generations and others. 

Talking Turkey Tumult?

by Robert Morrison

June 11, 2015

America’s business newspaper of record, the Wall Street Journal, headlined this story this week: “Key Ally Turkey Braces for Tumult.” Generally, business does not like “tumult” and it especially doesn’t like it in a country viewed as vital to U.S. national interests. Turkey, a founding member of the NATO alliance, has been moving out of the orbit of American friends in recent years. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pronounced air-doo-WAN) has been pushing this large Muslim majority country into the arms of the jihadists. But last weekend’s voting in Turkey resulted in a loss of a majority in Parliament by Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has ruled Turkey since 2002.

Erdogan tried five years ago to run the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The ship, the Mavi Marmara, was “discreetly encouraged” by Erdogan’s government. She was bringing only “humanitarian” aid to the people in that strip of land adjoining Israel. But Gaza is controlled by the terrorist gang, Hamas.

Humanitarian aid in Gaza includes construction materials that can be used, yes, to repair bomb damage from Israeli raids. But it can also be used to build Metro-size tunnels. Hamas is burrowing under Israeli schools and hospitals. To prevent a future terrorist strike by Hamas fighters emerging on Israel’s side of the border, Israel’s Defense Force (IDF) launched Operation Protective Edge last summer.

So “tumult” for Ergodan and his cronies may be good news for us, for Americans, for Israelis, and perhaps even for Christians.

My best Turkish news this week came from friends who spoke of church planting among Turkish immigrants in Germany and who told me that even in Turkey itself, there are green shoots springing up, budding church communities. This in a land where one hundred years ago this year, millions of Christian Armenians were killed. “Who remembers the Armenians?” said Adolf Hitler as he planned his Holocaust of the Jews.

We can answer him: We do! And it is for the sake of the people of that troubled region that we demand religious freedom. It is because too many there murder their neighbors who worship differently that they have seen a century of tumult.

America has a lesson to teach the world. When George Washington greeted the Hebrew Congregation at Newport in 1790, he quoted Scripture to them: “Let each sit under his own vine and fig tree and let there be none to make him afraid.” That has too rarely been true in the Mideast. And, today, it is a heritage increasingly at risk here at home.

In demanding religious freedom for the people of Turkey, we assert a fundamental human right. And we strengthen our own resolve as Americans. 

Adoption May Not Always Be Perfect, but It Saves a Life

by Chris Gacek

June 9, 2015

The actress, Kate Mulgrew, has had a long career extending back to the mid-1970s when she had her first major role on an ABC daytime drama called “Ryan’s Hope.” Mulgrew’s New York Catholic family in “Ryan’s Hope” resembled her own Irish Catholic family with nine children from Dubuque, Iowa. Portraying “Mary Ryan” must have been charted ground for her, but she took a few detours with great consequences. Mulgrew discusses her life in an autobiography, Born with Teeth, that was published this past April.

Relevant for our purposes is her story relating to adoption. Mulgrew moved to New York to study acting when she was just eighteen, and landed her “Ryan’s Hope” role several years later. She was an immediate sensation, but as her career took off she entered into a sexual relationship with a member of the television production staff and became pregnant. They were both very young. Mulgrew didn’t feel that she could raise a child, but she rejected abortion. Instead, Mulgrew let another family adopt her daughter. Mulgrew was allowed only a brief view of her baby, but that never stopped her from thinking about the daughter from whom she had been separated. It turns out they were both searching for each other.

This CBS Sunday Morning interview sheds light on how the reunion came about over twenty years later in 2001. You meet her daughter and see that they do love each other. One gets a palpable sense of the pain Mulgrew and her daughter experienced. There is heartache and regret, but I also thought that Kate Mulgrew needs to give herself a break. After making that initial mistake, she didn’t make the greater one. And, the mistake she did not make has given her a daughter she loves so intensely. A daughter who loves her in return.

Perhaps, it is too much to wish for, but I hope Kate Mulgrew someday could meet Ryan and Bethany Bomberger who run the Radiance Foundation, a pro-adoption organization. Ryan was conceived in a rape but has lived a wonderful life though through his adoption. Here is the Radiance Foundation’s beautiful statement about their campaign, Adopted and Loved:

PLEASE VISIT OUR ADOPTION AWARENESS INITIATIVE: AdoptedandLoved.com. Millions have experienced the beauty of adoption over this past century. Yet very few people understand the reality of how adoption UNLEASHES the Possibility of not just the child, but the family and the community…and sometimes, the world. Sacrifice is at the heart of adoption, and the reward is great. This presentation illuminates adoption, dispels myths, shares moving personal stories, and provides potential adoptive parents tools and online resources to discover how adoption can change lives.

Adoption is a love story, but not always an easy one. Kate Mulgrew, thank you for doing the good thing and the loving thing when the chips were down.

Christianity’s Revolutionary Recognition of Women as Equals

by David J. Theroux

June 5, 2015

For millennia, marriage has been universal to civilization with most marriage ceremonies involving religion. Yet for years, traditional marriage and the family have been subjected to secular ridicule, with the family increasingly politicized and socialized by “progressive” government bureaucracies.

The result has been an unprecedented decline of the family in America, producing increasing rates of non-marital births, divorces, juvenile crime, substance abuse, and other pathologies. However, this trend need not be permanent. Put simply, the progressive narrative that supports it is unfounded and refuted by the witness of cultural experience.

The biblical account of marriage begins with one man and one woman: “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them.’” And, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” Jesus later called humanity back to these records (Matthew 19:4–5, Mark 10:6–8), and the Christian story is viewed as ending with the wedding of Christ with His bride, the Church, from which all Christian discussions of marriage stem.

In Christianity, marriage is hence a sacred union of the highest order. However, since the Enlightenment, secularism has defined marriage as a civil union. Many academics view traditional marriage as a patriarchy to dominate and oppress women, all supported by despots animated by their Christian faith. Such a narrative is based on the theory that primitive mankind was egalitarian, matrilineal, and socialist, with communal sexual relations, despite the biological and kinship basis of heterosexual pairing.

However, for thousands of years around the world, a wife was considered a husband’s property. In ancient Jewish communities, almost every adult was married. By age thirteen, a man chose a wife who was betrothed (committed legally to marriage) and, thus, considered de facto married. The man headed the family, with the wife his property. In the Greco-Roman pagan world, marriage was reserved for citizens, and a woman shared her husband’s station as mother of his children, but she and the offspring were his.

While adultery was prohibited for women, no fidelity obligation existed for men. Older men could force marriage on pre-pubescent girls and compel them to have abortions, usually certain death for not only the baby but also the girl. Moreover, according to sociologist Rodney Stark in his book The Rise of Christianity, infanticide was a commonplace, with baby girls disproportionately abandoned, resulting in “131 males per 100 females in the city of Rome, and 140 males per 100 females in Italy, Asia Minor, and North Africa.”

Only with the arrival of Christianity did the status of women change as obligations were placed on husbands. As Stark has shown, “Christians condemned promiscuity in men as well as in women and stressed the obligations of husbands toward wives as well as those of wives toward husbands…. The symmetry of the relationship Paul described was at total variance not only with pagan culture but with Jewish culture as well.

Stark shows that Christianity recognized women as equal to men, all sacred to God. Christian wives did not have abortions (neither did Jewish wives), and Christians opposed infanticide, polygamy, incest, divorce, and adultery—all to women’s benefit. No longer serfs to men, women had dignity, were not rushed into marriages, and served as leaders in rapidly growing Christian communities. Christian women married into more secure families, had better marriages, were not forced to remarry if widowed, and were given assistance when needed. Stark notes Paul’s teaching:

But because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does. (I Corinthians 7:2-4)

Thus, the progressive narrative upon which contemporary, anti-family policies rest, is false. Only through Christianity did women receive full marriage rights and gender equality in fidelity. The private, monogamous family has served well the human needs for love and companionship, economic and social well-being, and the rearing of children.

Abandoning these lessons is at the root of the modern decline of the family, and government can only further undermine the rights and benefits that have uplifted the lives of countless men, women, and children through Christian-inspired marriage.

To restore the family, civic and religious leaders must continue to challenge such folly and advance reforms that strengthen rather than weaken the most extraordinarily successful social unit in history – the family. In this regard, religious and secular leaders should protect the sovereignty of religious institutions to perform marriages according to their own beliefs.

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*David J. Theroux is founder, president and chief executive officer of the Independent Institute in Oakland, California; founder and president of the C.S. Lewis Society of California; and publisher of The Independent Review.

A Great Man Honored: Jean Vanier (2015 Templeton Prize)

by Chris Gacek

March 23, 2015

The Templeton Foundation deserves considerable praise for giving its annual award, the Templeton Prize (and here ), to the Canadian philosopher and humanitarian, Jean Vanier (and here). The prize was established in 1972 and is given to a living person who “has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.”

Vanier is a prolific writer, but he is most known for his founding of L’Arche. In Wikipedia, L’Arche is described as follows:

L’Arche is an International Federation dedicated to the creation and growth of homes, programs, and support networks with people who have intellectual disabilities. It was founded in 1964 when Jean Vanier, the son of Canadian Governor General Georges Vanier and Pauline Vanier, welcomed two men with disabilities into his home in the town of Trosly-Breuil, France. Today, it is an international organisation operating 147 communities in 35 countries, and on all five continents.

I first encountered Vanier’s writings twenty years ago when I read his overpowering volume on residents of the L’Arche community entitled, Man and Woman He Made Them. The Amazon description says of the book: “When Vanier speaks of the cry for love within a person who is disabled, he draws the wider parallel of that same search within every man and woman; the fragility and vulnerability of each person at the level of the heart and in the search for relationship.”

The Templeton Foundation hit it out of the park with this award.

Sick of Porn? Here’s Some Good News for a Change

by Cathy Ruse

March 2, 2015

Thank you, Safeway!

As a mom of two young girls, the last thing I want them to do is stand in the checkout line and stare at the nearly pornographic Sports Illustrated 2015 Swimsuit Edition. At Safeway, now I won’t have to.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (formerly Morality in Media) is encouraging moms like me to ask retailers to wrap the cover and move it from public display, especially checkout lines.

At first Walgreens, Barnes & Noble, and Safeway told us to jump in the lake. But after receiving 30,000 emails Safeway has changed its mind: they have announced they will place the magazines away from checkout stands and cover two-thirds of the front of the magazine.

Read more about the grocery giant’s turn-around, and how to thank them.

Thank you, Google!

It seems that Google is slowly getting out of the porn business.

Family Research Council joined the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE), Enough is Enough, and other groups to ask Google to take a stand against sexually exploitative images and videos. Google has been on NCSE’s annual “Dirty Dozen List” for a number of years.

But last year Google decided to remove all pornographic apps from Google Play, and AdWords stopped all pornographic ads and ads that link to sexually explicit websites.

This week Google announced that“sexually explicit or graphic nude images or video” will not be allowed on Blogger, a popular blog platform. It told Blogger users it will beeliminating all “adult” blogs from public access and remove from all forms of public search by March 23, 2015, unless they remove all inappropriate content.

To learn more and send Google a “Thank you!”: http://endsexualexploitation.org/google/

Measuring the Value of College

by Nathan Oppman

February 16, 2015

College education is sold today as a ticket to employment and the first step toward a high paying career. But there are many reasons that college may not be the right choice for everyone. A great test of the need for college is to look at those who have achieved great things without attending college. A recent USA Today article highlighting the career of college dropout Scott Walker illustrates the point that a college education is not always necessary to a successful life. Americans should remind one another that there are many factors in career and life success. Marriage and family, hard work and charity, and character and integrity are all things that should be highly esteemed. While college can be a great blessing, it is not necessary for a great life.

American Sniper and the Restoration of Man

by Travis Weber

February 11, 2015

Why has American Sniper struck such a chord with the American public? No doubt in part this is due to the incredible storyline and cinematography, but other factors are certainly at play in such a blockbuster hit. While critics have scrutinized various aspects of Chris Kyle’s story, something within us is still attracted to a man with integrity (that term being defined as consistency between one’s beliefs and actions). As Kyle heads off to war in Iraq, backing-up his fellow countrymen as a sniper, his simple conviction about the importance of defending good against evil—and his willingness to act on that belief—is attractive to the viewer. His skill as a sniper, and record as the all-time crack marksmen in U.S. military history, almost become secondary.

As Owen Strachan notes at the Patheos blog, this movie has “struck a chord” because:

We are in an age that does not want to believe in manhood, at least the traditional kind. Men are not supposed to be strong today. They are not supposed to lead their families. They are not supposed to take ownership of provision for their household. They are not supposed to be fearless. Modern men have had their innate manhood bred out of them.

As a result, many men today don’t want to sacrifice for others. They want to be nice, and liked by everyone, and to win the approval of their peers.”

Against this backdrop, American Sniper is a rather shocking entrée. It presents a simple man who lives by a black-and-white moral code. He is traditional. This is not existential manhood; this is non-existential manhood. Kyle does what he thinks he should do, and does not second-guess himself. He believes that he should use his God-given strength and ability to defend the weak and defeat the wicked. He believes, in fact, that there are wicked people in the world. He is not afraid to say so. He is not afraid to act on this conviction.”

Yet, “Kyle was no wilting flower. He was not a perfect man. He knew this. He was rough around the edges, he sometimes shot off his mouth, and he had a tough time with rules. In other words, he was a classically aggressive man. Our culture wants to anesthetize such men, to stick a tranquilizer in them and dose them up on medication to tame their natural aggression.”

Strachan continues, “[t]his is not what the church advocates, however. The church gives men a vocabulary for their aggression, their innate manliness. It funnels their God-given testosterone in the direction of Christlike self-sacrifice for the good of others (Eph. 5; 1 Tim. 3). It does not seek to tame men, or ask them to become half-men (or half-women). It asks them to channel all their energy and aggression and skill into the greatest cause of all: serving the kingdom of the crucified and risen Christ.”

Moreover, as men lead in this way, it is attractive to women. Strachan notes the presence of a number of young women in the movie theater, presumably excited to see this man in action.

Women are attracted to a man on this journey in which he fights courageously for Christ.

For Christ “was fearless. He was brave. We don’t know how big his shoulders were, or how handsome he was, or how fast he could run. We do know that he laughed in the face of evil, and gave no quarter to his opponents, and did not apologize for claiming that he was the way, the truth, and the life. Even as death took him down, he struck a climactic blow against the kingdom of darkness. He crushed it. He ended the reign of Satan, and began the true reign of the Son of God. Jesus was not a pacifist. He was a conqueror, and he will return to judge the quick and the dead.”

At that point, this “true man, who redeemed us, will lead us into a world where heroes do not die, but live forever with their God.”

Until that time, Chris Kyle’s conviction can help serve as a reminder of what conviction truly means.

Architecture, Values and the March for Life

by Rob Schwarzwalder

January 8, 2015

It is difficult to look at scenes of great universities and historic colleges and not be moved by the architecture portrayed. Traditionally, institutions of higher learning have wanted to display their seriousness of purpose and devotion to great thought and leading-edge research in the buildings they have constructed. Thus, some of the most beautiful public spaces in our country, and indeed the world, are found on American college grounds.

Architecture is important. As Winston Churchill said to the House of Commons during the peak of World War II, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” So consider what contemporary architecture says about today’s halls of knowledge. Edifices crafted out of shiny glass and sharp edges, boxes in which people are warehoused instead of buildings that invite contemplation or ennoble creativity.

What does this say about our culture’s view of human dignity in our time? Of the pursuit of knowledge and the purpose of research?

There’s nothing wrong with utility, but utility without beauty is a form of reductionism: Man as machine whose chief end is output rather than man as image-bearer of God whose chief end is to glorify Him through noble pursuits. The architecture of one’s time displays that time’s values. And the values of our time are deeply troubling.

As is widely recognized, much of modern academic life either is actively and unapologetically anti-Christian or at least so “tolerant” it welcomes the debased and debasing. Yet thankfully, these approaches to truth have not penetrated the hearts and minds of many brave academics and their students.

For example, later this month thousands of college students will mark the grim 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling. They will meet to remember the 57 million Americans destroyed in their mothers’ wombs due to the reduction of human value to one of preference, convenience and radical personal and sexual autonomy. Family Research Council will be joining many of them as, together, we participate in the March for Life on the National Mall here in Washington, D.C. on January 22.

If you can’t join us on the date, watch our 10th annual “ProLifeCon” online. ProLifeCon is “the premier conference for the online pro-life community. With new pro-life majorities in both the House and Senate, legislative momentum at the state level, and Americans increasingly identifying with the pro-life movement” FRC believes 2015 will be a year for hope. Listen to pro-life leaders like FRC president Tony Perkins, Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life and many others as they discuss the year ahead and what the pro-life community can do to advance the human dignity agenda in the new year.

At FRC, we celebrate the eternal truth that in His grace, God has made all men and women, from conception until natural death, “a little lower than the angels” (Psalm 8). The architecture of our building – stately but warm, an edifice designed to remind all who see it of human dignity and personal warmth - is a daily reminder of it.

Ten articles that were worth reading in 2014

by Peter Sprigg

January 8, 2015

I spent my final work day of 2014 doing some long-overdue filing—and decided to share links to some of the articles that earned from me the coveted (?) designation of “KEEP.”

These are not all articles I agree with. Some are by authors with whom I vigorously disagree, but they reveal something interesting or important about the “culture wars” in which we are engaged.

These are (roughly) in chronological order:

April 8, 2014

The Rise of the Same-Sex Marriage Dissidents,” by Mollie Hemingway, The Federalist

Quote:

This is what marriage law was about. Not two friends building a house together. Or two people doing other sexual activities together. It was about the sexual union of men and women and a refusal to lie about what that union and that union alone produces: the propagation of humanity. This is the only way to make sense of marriage laws throughout all time and human history. Believing in this truth is not something that is wrong, and should be a firing offense.”

April 22, 2014

Freedom to Marry, Freedom to Dissent: Why We Must Have Both,” A Public Statement, Real Clear Politics

Quote:

… [W]e are concerned that recent events, including the resignation of the CEO of Mozilla under pressure because of an anti-same-sex- marriage donation he made in 2008, signal an eagerness by some supporters of same-sex marriage to punish rather than to criticize or to persuade those who disagree. We reject that deeply illiberal impulse, which is both wrong in principle and poor as politics.”

May 5, 2014

Freedom to Marry & Dissent, Rightly Understood,” by Ryan T. Anderson and Robert P. George, Real Clear Policy

Quote:

The government should not discriminate against or coerce those who speak and act on the belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.”

April 24, 2014

Opposing Gay Marriage Doesn’t Make You a Crypto-Racist,” by Jonathan Rauch, The Daily Beast

Quote:

Lots of people compare the opposition to gay marriage and the resistance to interracial relationships. It’s a flawed analogy.”

May 17, 2014

The Evolution of Marriage,” by Ryan T. Anderson (review of Marriage and Civilization: How Monogamy Made Us Human, by William Tucker), National Review Online

Quote:

It is our sexual repressions that have made us human.”

May 27, 2014

Were Christians Right About Gay Marriage All Along?” by Jay Michaelson, The Daily Beast

Quote:

According to a 2013 study, about half of gay marriages surveyed (admittedly, the study was conducted in San Francisco) were not strictly monogamous.This fact is well-known in the gay community—indeed, we assume it’s more like three-quarters… . [T]he future of marriage, in fact, may turn out to be a lot like the Christian Right’s nightmare . . .”

August 11, 2014

Tracking Christian Sexual Morality in a Same-Sex Marriage Future,” by Mark Regnerus, Public Discourse

Quote:

Churchgoing Christians who support same-sex marriage are more likely to think pornography, cohabitation, hook-ups, adultery, polyamory, and abortion are acceptable.”

October 1, 2014

The American Family Is Making a Comeback,” by Michael Wear, The Atlantic

Quote:

As the costs of family breakdown become even more apparent, Democrats’ no-judgment approach may seem insufficient in the face of a demographic and sociological tidal wave.”

December 1, 2014

The Myth of Homosexuality in Nature,” by James B. Connelly, BarbWire

Quote:

Properly speaking, homosexuality does not exist among animals…. For reasons of survival, the reproductive instinct among animals is always directed towards an individual of the opposite sex. Therefore, an animal can never be homosexual as such. Nevertheless, the interaction of other instincts (particularly dominance) can result in behavior that appears to be homosexual. Such behavior cannot be equated with an animal homosexuality.”

December 10, 2014

Seven Things I Wish My Pastor Knew About My Homosexuality,” by Jean Lloyd, Public Discourse

Quote:

Continue to love me, but remember that you cannot be more merciful than God. It isn’t mercy to affirm same-sex acts as good. Practice compassion according to the root meaning of ‘compassion’: Suffer with me. Don’t compromise truth; help me to live in harmony with it.”

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