September 30, 2013
A “government shutdown” is a misnomer of gigantic proportion. In July, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) released a Congressional Research Service study that makes clear “a ‘government shutdown’ does not cause all government functions to cease.”
Our military will remain vigilant, our ships at sea and our planes ready to fly, and our service members will be paid. According to a study by the Congressional Research Service published last week, “Historically, individuals responsible for supporting the nation’s global security activities, public safety efforts, and foreign relations pursuits have been excepted from furloughs that accompany a government shutdown.”
The federal judiciary will be funded through mid-October. Veterans and recipients of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will continue receiving their benefits. You’ll still get your mail from the U.S. Postal Service.
There will be massive inconvenience to hundreds of thousands of civilian government employees who will be furloughed until a budget deal is reached. Mortgage loans will halt, although “the Office of Single Family Housing will ‘endorse new loans under current multi-year appropriation authority in order to support the health and stability of the U.S. mortgage market’.” Federal parks and zoos will close, but “Smithsonian and National Park employees responsible for protecting property and providing emergency care, including animal caretakers at the National Zoo, are exempt from the furlough.” And TSA employees and air traffic controllers will remain on the job.
“National Institutes of Health employees would continue to treat current Clinical Center patients and provide animal care services, though new patients will be locked out of clinical research,” and federal disaster assistance will remain fully available. More than 40 million Americans would continue to get food stamps unabated.
As to the IRS, why should it be no surprise that “all payments would be processed?”
Perhaps the most serious problem will be “A lack of appropriations (that) will severely limit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ability to respond to outbreak investigations.”
“The Food Safety and Inspection Service would continue all safety-related activities” and “the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration would continue inspections to the extent they’re paid by user fees.” However, the “inability to investigate alleged violations could hamper corrective action in the long term and could have an immediate impact on members of industry.” The FDA “would limit its activities but continue to monitor recalls and conduct investigations.”
Of perhaps particular note is that funding for the Patient’s Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) will continue. “It’s looking more and more like Tuesday will be a split-screen day … Obamacare will open for business.”
The above is not an exhaustive explanation, and it is not intended to suggest that limiting government services is trivial. However, if Congress and the President fail to strike a deal, the sky will not fall, Mt. Rushmore will not crumble, and our union will retain all 50 of its states.
Concern is justified. Panic isn’t.
Family Research Council
September 30, 2013
Washington Post opinion writer Colbert King has noted the lack of concern surrounding the heartbreaking recent attacks on Christians in Nigeria and other places in the developing world. In the name of Islam, members of groups such as Boko Haram have mercilessly attacked innocents for the crime of following Jesus or simply not knowing the name of Mohammed’s mother.
King is no conservative, but he is a man of conscience who is disgusted by his journalist colleagues’ failure to report the massive and persistent attacks professing Christians experience in country after country. It is not in vogue to talk about Christians dying. To the contrary, even our National Park Service has gone out of their way to note the supposedly wonderful position that Islam grants to women.
The blood of martyrs spills across the globe daily. Any kind of religious persecution, including that which is directed against Muslims (often by other Muslims).
Too often, the face of the Islamic martyr is that of a deceived young man pulling the trigger of a gun in the face of innocents at a mall. The face of the Christian martyr is that of men, women, and children fleeing a bloodthirsty hate. Suicide bombers kill so regularly across the Muslim world that it barely passes for news. Often their target is Christians. King Théoden in the Lord of the Rings trilogy asked the question “What can men do against such reckless hate?” For LOTR aficionados the reply from Aragorn is one of the epic lines in the movie “Ride out and meet them.” Aragorn quickly adds, not for death and glory, but “for your people.
Death is not something that should be lauded. Muslim “martyrs” around the world are murdering in the name of Islam. They seek death and glory. We as Christians must be aware of our “people” who are dying, advocate and pray for them and support groups ministering to them. As we face the evil of a lost world let us remember our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us stand up for them in every way possible. But let us not forget the Scriptural injunction to pray for our enemies. Pray for those who are evil, that the great Gospel of Christ may penetrate the lost souls of these ravaging lions and turn them into lambs of Christ.
September 27, 2013
In a land of “liberty” and “opportunity” it is difficult to imagine a person’s worth being assigned to him based on his ability, yet this is exactly what we do when we allow elective abortion based on a genetic abnormality diagnosis.
Along with many other Americans, I have a relative with Down Syndrome, and can attest that persons with disabilities are just as valuable and have lives just as full as persons without them. Recently, Prince William and his wife Catherine brought attention to the reality that persons with Down Syndrome are worthy of respect and admiration. As reported by the Huffington Post, the royal couple does not usually accept gifts but made an exception recently when they received a beautiful painting made for them by 43-year-old Tazia Fawley, an artist with Down Syndrome. Suzie Moffat, the director of Heart & Sold, an organization that supports artists with Down Syndrome and helped pass on the painting to the royal couple, noted, “[i]n England, there always has been a stigma attached to (Down Syndrome), and now that is washed away by the fact that the Duke and Duchess have accepted that painting…For this to happen, it’s kind of turned that negativity around.”
To deny a person the opportunity to experience life because he is different or faces physical challenges violates basic human rights and the principles at the heart of our nation. It also deprives the rest of us and our children the opportunity to love and to learn from very special people like Tazia Fawley who may be different from us but who have incredibly generous hearts and unique perspectives.
Thanks to a recent dismissal of the case against the Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act (PRENDA) in North Dakota, that State is now the first to have a law in place defending pre-born children with disabilities. Along with a ban on sex selective abortion, the North Dakota PRENDA law is the first of its kind to offer protection to children diagnosed with Down Syndrome and other genetic abnormalities.
Policy experts from FRC were front and center during the hearings debating the bill this past spring. Joined by some of our colleagues in other groups FRC presented scientific, legal, and human rights arguments in support of the legislation. Abortion is a particularly grievous threat to pre-born children diagnosed with genetic abnormalities such as Down Syndrome. According to published studies, a staggering 92% of pre-born children diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted. This statistic is unacceptable.
In the new law and after birth a person is legally protected from discrimination based on gender and disability. This standard reflects and upholds the high values we hold dear — that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights. Allowing abortion of a person based on her gender or disability asks us to eschew those values. This is incompatible with the Constitution and a society that places such high value on the dignity of the individual. It is particularly troubling to deny these rights to those persons who do not have a way to speak for themselves but rather rely on those in power for protection.
North Dakota may have been the first State to enact legislation protecting pre-born persons with disabilities, but it is our hope that many more States will follow in its footsteps. Persons with disabilities add beautiful dimension to the world, a world that would be much darker absent their presence. Instead of eliminating persons with disabilities and denying them the right to live based on their differences, we should celebrate those differences and open our hearts to everything they have to teach us. Life through their eyes is a dazzling new experience — one brimming with endless possibility.
 Joan K Morris, professor of medical statistics, Eva Alberman, emeritus professor, BMJ, “Trends in Down’s syndrome live births and antenatal diagnoses in England and Wales from 1989 to 2008: analysis of data from the National Down Syndrome Cytogenetic Register,” BMJ 2009;339:b3794. (bmj.com).
September 26, 2013
This summer, the Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor struck down the federal definition of marriage that limited federal benefits to those couples in natural marriages of one man and one woman. In the wake of that ruling, a surge of federal agency announcements have expanded access for same-sex couples to federal benefits from many agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service, Medicare, the Department of Defense, and the Veterans Administration. Though Justice Kennedy issued an opinion in Windsor with clear federalism themes, reiterating the need to “[defer] to state-law policy decisions with respect to domestic relations,” the federal government has instead imposed a new de facto federal definition of marriage that doesn’t respect the diversity of state laws on this topic. In other words, federal marriage benefits will be given to couples who are not legally married under the state law of a super majority of the states.
The latest agency to ignore the majority of states’ laws on this topic is the Department of Labor. Last week, DOL issued guidance informing all private employers across the nation that they must now extend spousal health and retirement benefits organized under the Employment Income Retirement Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to same-sex spouses—even if they live in a state that does not recognize same-sex “marriage.”
Unlike previous agency guidance, Labor’s announcement means that many private business owners and companies must now adhere to the Obama Administration’s new federal definition of marriage in determining their benefit policies, despite possible religious or moral objections to extending marriage benefits to same-sex partners. And, since the majority of private pension plans and all self-funded employee health benefits plans are organized under ERISA, the impact of this law is dramatic (reaching over 700,000 private retirement plans and 2.3 million health plans).
If you’re a shop owner who is willing to hire any individual, no matter their sexual orientation, but who believes in natural marriage and only wishes to extend spousal benefits to those traditionally married couples, how will you comply with federal law? Some legal commentators have suggested that a private employer could have standing to sue over this agency guidance, though the outcome of such a challenge would be uncertain.
In addition to the burden this places on private employers, the Labor guidance continues to trample on the will of the American people in most states who have maintained laws respecting only natural marriages. By requiring companies in states that don’t recognize same-sex “marriages” to extend benefits to same sex partners, the federal government has enacted the very “contradictory marriage regimes within the same State” that the Windsor Court condemned in its June 2013 ruling.
September 24, 2013
Yesterday, the New York Times ran a piece by a writer named Kathryn Joyce on the supposed exploitation of orphans in the developing world by Christian ministries. The piece is based on her book, The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking and the New Gospel of Adoption.
The Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) has written a gracious but powerful response to Joyce’s claims; it should be read by anyone concerned about the international adoption movement. My friend Jedd Medefind, who leads the CAFO and drafted the response, concludes:
It’s been said that democracy is the worst form of government…except for all the others. The same could be expressed of many other good things, including aspects of the Christian orphan movement. None of its expressions are perfect — whether adoption, foster care, mentoring, family preservation or global orphan care initiatives. And yet, despite many shortcomings of this work, tremendous good is brought daily to millions of children around the globe. Yes, errors and pitfalls will always come with any effort to address deep human need. So we must labor continually to minimize risks and avoid unintended consequences. Yet this realism need not lead to the cynicism that defines The Child Catchers. Nor to the hopelessness or temptation to withdraw from engagement the one might feel after reading it.
This is wonderfully said, and makes the point that whatever errors have been made as Americans, including American Christians, have engaged in international adoption, the overwhelming good being done for little ones without parents (and currently, there are more than 140 million of them) through adoption far outweighs the missteps.
Additionally, it is noteworthy that Kathryn Joyce is closely identified with the pro-abortion movement. She writes for such Left-liberal publications as Mother Jones, The Nation, and “RH Reality Check: Reproductive and Sexual Health and Justice News and Commentary,” one of whose stated goals is “to restore and sustain abortion coverage for low-income women.” “RH Reality Check” exists to advance abortion as a fully justified means of women’s health care and debunk pro-life arguments and initiatives.
Ms. Joyce writes frequently about what she regards as the dangers of Evangelical Protestantism; that’s her right, but let’s be clear about where her biases lay.
Ms. Joyce is not a dispassionate journalist but an advocate for a point of view. Again, advocacy for one’s convictions is perfectly legitimate. What isn’t appropriate is for her and her champions (e.g., the editorial page of The New York Times) not to disclose her allegiance to a movement and point of view inimical to those about whom she is writing.
September 23, 2013
This past Friday, the Obama Administration asked the Supreme Court “to decide that for-profit corporations cannot deny their employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation’s owners”. According to Religion News Service’s Sarah Pulliam Bailey:
In June, the Obama administration issued final rules for the mandate that requires most employers to provide contraception at no cost. While there are exemptions for religious groups and affiliated institutions, there are no carve-outs for private businesses with religious owners. Opponents of the mandate say that they will be forced to provide coverage they find morally abhorrent. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit against the Obama administration Friday (Sept. 20) on behalf of four Christian universities in Oklahoma, where Hobby Lobby is also based. Now that two different federal courts have issued contradictory opinions on the mandate, the issue is near certain to be decided by the Supreme Court.
This is welcome news, and it is hoped that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of religious liberty. The owners of Hobby Lobby, the Green family, and others like them did not leave their Christian convictions in the pew on Sunday morning. As attorney Kyle Duncan of The Becket Fund argues:
The United States government is taking the remarkable position that private individuals lose their religious freedom when they make a living … We’re confident that the Supreme Court will reject the government’s extreme position and hold that religious liberty is for everyone—including people who run a business.
Let us hope Kyle is right, for the sake of every citizen of a nation in which religious liberty historically has been the foundation of every other right (our rights come from God, not from the state, and thus our primary duty is to Him, not it – this is the essential premise of the U.S. Constitution).
Yet even if this battle is won, the battle for life in the U.S. will be far from over. For example, attorney Clarke Forsythe of Americans United for Life has just published a new book, Abuse of Discretion: The Inside Story of Roe. V. Wade in which he explains that
The United States is an outlier when it comes to the scope of the abortion “right.” The United States is one of approximately ten nations (of 195) that allow abortion after fourteen weeks of gestation. The others are: Canada, China, Great Britain, North Korea, the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, Western Australia, and Vietnam. When it comes to allowing abortion for any reason after viability, however, the United States is joined only by Canada, North Korea, and China (p. 126).
I am always glad for the United States to stand alone when it comes to our defending our national security, the well-being of our citizens or the protection of our other vital interests, but in this case, I wish the land of the free was in league with the majority of the world’s countries in imposing restrictions on post-viability abortions. Of course, all who cherish life know it is immaterial whether the U.S. is in the majority or minority of nations when it comes to the imperative of correcting Roe altogether and affirming the sanctity of every life, from conception to natural death.
Regardless of laws, legislation, or litigation, the movement to protect the unborn and prevent their mothers from being preyed-upon and commoditized will not quit. We’ve achieved some great victories in recent years, and we can be grateful for the growing public judgment that elective abortion is a moral evil.
Yet our criterion of victory is not found in numbers, polls, bills, or laws. Ultimately, it is found in fidelity to the One Scripture calls “the Prince of Life” (Acts 3:15). He deserves our full and unflagging efforts in defense of those He still is forming in their mothers’ wombs. May we always give it to Him.
September 19, 2013
This week’s story out of the University of Alabama about what apparently are racially segregated sororities and fraternities at that institution has left this bona fide and perhaps naive Yankee a bit stunned. The Crimson Tide’s “Greek system remains segregated,” according to university president Dr. Judy L. Bonner. News reports note that pressure to keep the Greeks segregated comes, in part, from alumni. Many of them are, one can assume, parents of the current pledges.
In the era of “The Blind Side” and the presidency of a man of color, the notion that this kind of thing could happen seems remarkable. Yet old bigotries die hard, old stereotypes are difficult to break, and old ignorance resists the freshness of truth.
Racism is a sin against God: “The God who made the world and all things in it … He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:24-28). If every human being is made in the image and likeness of his or her Creator, every person possesses the dignity of equal and great value before Him. Unless the dictionary recently has been creatively edited, “every” is an encompassing term, inclusive of all of that to which it refers.
Every square has edges. Every beach has water. And every race and ethnicity is equally loved and prized by the Lord of the universe.
Racism is also unpatriotic at the most fundamental level. Abraham Lincoln called human equality “the central idea” of the American republic: Our Creator has endowed each individual with rights from which he or she, by virtue of being human, cannot be alienated. This argument animated the Revolution, the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement. Profoundly unrealized for generations of slaves and imperfectly realized for many of their ancestors and others, it remains our country’s salient contribution to the eternal contest for human dignity. It is what makes, or should make, us proud to be Americans.
The idea that some students are being denied entry into a university’s Greek system because of race should be repulsive to every citizen of our country and, for Christians, lead to a renewed commitment to pursue racial reconciliation. Either Jesus truly loves all the little children of the world, or the Bible is a lie. Since it’s not, let’s better live it out.
September 19, 2013
Recently, the Christian Science Monitor published an op-ed by Elizabeth Jahr, in which she asserts “pro-life groups funnel tremendous resources into a legal war against abortion in the US without providing adequate practical support for women to maintain pregnancies. Yet not being able to afford a child is one of the main reasons women have abortions.”
In fact, the legal victories Ms. Jahr criticizes have saved many lives, and pro-life events, like March for Life, serve to establish new and continuing support for Pregnancy Resource Centers and other organizations that care for women and children.
Dr. Michael New, assistant professor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Jeanneane Maxon, vice president for external affairs and corporate counsel at Americans United for Life, both presented well-reasoned responses to the misguided assertion that resources spent on legal battles and pro-life rallies are a disservice to the unborn.
New, using a resource published by the Family Research Council, pointed out that Jahr:
… seems oblivious to the fact that pro-lifers fund a vast network of pregnancy resource centers that provide medical, emotional, and financial support to thousands of women facing unplanned pregnancies every year. A 2010 study by the Family Research Council identified nearly 2,000 US pregnancy care centers that annually assist more than 2.3 million women with pregnancy support, abstinence counseling, and public health access. A conservative estimate of community cost savings for these services, which are predominantly privately funded, during 2010 is more than $100 million annually.” The number of pregnancy resources centers continues to grow exponentially while the number of abortion facilities reaches historic lows, many closing due to safety concerns.
New also makes a strong point correlating stricter abortion regulation and protection of the unborn, noting “[t]hese incremental laws serve both a protective and an educational purpose. For instance, the debate over banning partial-birth abortion clearly demonstrated the extremely permissive nature of abortion policy in theUnited States. Perhaps pro-life efforts to protect the unborn are more extensive than Jahr realizes.”
Jeanneane Maxon responded eloquently by highlighting her experience working with Pregnancy Resource Centers. She recounted that at the time Jahr’s op-ed was published Maxon was attending a CareNet conference, an organization that supports over 1,000 pregnancy resource centers around the country.
I was surrounded by more than a thousand staff members and volunteers who have given countless hours of time, and countless dollars, to compassionately care for women facing an abortion decision. From age seven, I’ve witnessed and shared in the loving responsibility of providing whatever assistance a pregnant mother might need, as my own mother worked tirelessly as an executive director of a pregnancy care center. Pro-life Americans understand this kind of daily dedication — responding with money, time and treasure to nurture the potential of every unborn life with tangible resources.
I, too, have been involved with Pregnancy Resource Centers since I was a child and as an adult, became a trained counselor. There are no more selfless, caring, and loving people than the men and women I served with at Pregnancy Resource Centers. We worked not only to promote life, but we also provided a shoulder to cry on, transportation, clothing, diapers, and countless other resources to women throughout pregnancy and well beyond.
Women in crisis pregnancies and their unborn children are also protected by the very laws groups like the Family Research Council and Americans United for Life advocate. Maxon notes that legislation pushing for stronger clinic regulations and more informed consent for women serves to create effective and much-needed protections.
Maxon also noted that events such as the March for Life are a necessary component in effectively aiding women and children in crisis: “(A)t the March for Life thousands upon thousands of people from all walks of life — charities, churches, synagogues, non-profits, individuals, and business leaders — join together to reconfirm their belief in something larger than themselves. Family celebrations are a perfect way to recommit to the reality of life and all it demands. Sometimes the best way to show your love for people is a party or a memorial, a celebration of the hope that draws us together.”
Far from being a disservice to women or the unborn, pro-life legal efforts and pro-life events serve to create stronger protections for women and unborn children and also serve to educate the public — generating more supporters, funds, and loving care.
September 18, 2013
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On Tuesday, we celebrated Constitution Day, when our nation annually is called to remember that our country is grounded in a written text that defines and confines the federal government.
The Constitution’s fixed meaning was clear to those who drafted and approved it, and should be to us. Why else would the Founders have included a provision to amend it — if you can expand or redefine the meaning of words as you will, why bother amending them? And why have a Tenth Amendment, which states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution … are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Is this so mystifying that the Left can’t quite get it?
My colleague, FRC Senior Fellow Bob Morrison, a historian, earlier this week wrote a compelling piece titled, “The Constitution: What Difference Does it Make?” Take a few moments to consider Bob’s wise observations, and then give thanks for our Constitution. It’s worth preserving, protecting, and defending, always.
Senior Vice President
Family Research Council
P.S. Be sure to order or download (at no cost) our most recent publication, “Social Justice: How Good Intentions Undermine Justice and Gospel,” by Dr. Cal Beisner. And join us, in person or via the Internet, for our next FRC lecture, “Common Core: The Dangers of Federal Power in Education” this coming Wednesday, September 25.
Educational Freedom and Reformb
Legislation and Policy Proposals
Health care reform: ACA/Obamacare
Human Life and Bioethics
- “The wisdom of waiting periods for tattoos and abortions,” The Washington Examiner
- “Pro-Life Clinics as Missional Ministry,” The Gospel Coalition
- “RU-486 at the Supreme Court,” National Review Online
- “U.S. Congressional Hearing Examines Gendercide in India,” C-FAM
- “Population Control Goes Out with a Whimper,” Turtle Bay and Beyond
- “Abortion Clinics Closing at Record Rate,” Christianity Today
- “The female holocaust,” WORLD Magazine
- “Sex-Selective Abortions Linked To Abuse Of Females,” The Acton Institute
- “The painful quest of fertility junkies,” LifeSiteNews.com
- “File Under False: “Pro-Lifers Don’t Really Care About the Unborn”,” LifeNews.com
- “Since when did abortion trump the rule of law?,” MercatorNet
Bioethics and Biotechnology
Euthanasia and End of Life Issues
Stem Cell Research
To read about the latest advances in ethical adult stem cell research, keep up with leading-edge reports from FRC’s Dr. David Prentice, click here.
Marriage and Family
- “A Grown-Up, Not Sexed-Up, View of Womanhood,” Christianity Today
- “Callings and the Childfree Life,” The Acton Institute
- “Is It Good News That Cohabitation Rates Are Stalling?,” Moore to the Point
- “Treating marriage like a car lease,” Fox13
- “Marriage, Community, & Kinship,” The Public Discourse
- “Marriage Is What It Is,” The Catholic Thing
- “How to Destroy Your Marriage Before It Begins,” The Gospel Coalition
- “Six Questions That Will Radically Change Your Marriage,” RefineUs
- “Children: Burden or Blessing?,” Intercollegiate Review
Religion and Public Policy
Religion in America
Check out Dr. Kenyn Cureton’s feature on Watchmen Pastors called “The Lost Episodes,” featuring how religion has had an impact on our Founding Fathers.
International Economy and Family
September 18, 2013
We have known for some time about China’s one child policy and the brutal consequences of that law for unborn females as well as living girls and young women. Now, Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey has alerted us to the consequences of sex-selection abortion and female infanticide in India.
In his commentary on “The Missing Girls of India” in the Washington Times on September 16, 2013, Rep. Smith informs us that India has a lopsided ratio of boys who are born to the number of girls born (126 boys for every 100 girls). The resulting shortage of females has led to increased trafficking in women, bride-selling, prostitution, child brides and even brothers sharing a woman.
It is time to connect the dots! The killing of girls in the womb and infanticide of baby girls in India has led to a shortage in the female population. That shortage of women, as Rep. Smith said, is resulting in young girls and women being trafficked, prostituted, sold, and shared to satisfy India’s disproportionately male population.
Who will defend the defenseless in the womb who are selected for death because they are girls? And, who will defend the living women who are being forced into unimaginable and horrific situations, clearly not of their choosing, because they lived and can be used? Who will speak up for the dignity, respect and intrinsic value of every woman?