Month Archives: June 2014

Churches in Denmark Forced to Perform Same-Sex “Marriages”

by Travis Weber

June 12, 2014

Just when we think things are getting bad here in the United States, we observe the Danish Parliament passing a law requiring all churches to perform same-sex “marriages.” Although with this development, religious liberty is almost non-existent in Denmark, individual ministers can still opt out of performing the wedding. In that case, the church must find another minister to perform the required duties. This is no small consolation, however, for such a law in one blow nullifies any freedom of an organization or church to define itself according to its own religious values.

Some Danes are holding strong, though:

Marriage is as old as man himself, and you can’t change something as fundamental,” … church spokesperson Christian Langballe said … . “Marriage is supposed to be between a man and a woman.”

In support of the law, one prominent businessman said “[w]e have felt a little like we were living in the Middle Ages… . I think it is positive that there is now a majority for [the law], and that there are so many priests and bishops who are in favour of it, and that the Danish population supports up about it [sic]. We have moved forward. It’s 2012.”

Notice the appeal to the idea of “majority support.” This is the very type of tyranny the Bill of Rights in the United States is meant to protect against.

While such a law would never survive a constitutional challenge in the United States, it still serves as a sober warning of forces seeking to attack a biblical worldview.

Ken Frieling: Faithful. Steady. A great smile.

by Keri Boeve

June 12, 2014

What greater joy is there than to share about one’s dad in honor of Father’s Day? I can think of none greater, particularly since I know many are not blessed with a father in their life or one they would care to honor.

I would describe my dad in this way: faithful, steady, and has a great smile. This description may not carry much pizazz for an occasion of honor, but to me it typifies who my dad is and why he is so special to me.

Let’s start with the obvious – his smile. My dad’s smile is the best. It radiates joy, brightens his whole face, and makes his eyes twinkle. What makes it even more special is the fact that his dad, my grandpa, smiled the same way, as do my uncles, Dad’s brothers. It is a trademark “Frieling man” smile. Perhaps that is why it is so endearing to me. When I see my dad smile, I can subconsciously say, “Yep, that’s my dad.”


My dad was the anchor in my family as I grew up. His quiet, even-tempered personality combined with his love for his family made him a steadying influence in our family of seven. Aside from the unfortunate tango with a wasp’s nest, Dad could usually keep his cool and display a level head, even when tempers flared and siblings fought. He was always there when you needed him. As a child, I know his steady presence in my life gave me security, comfort, and confidence. As a teen, his presence (and questioning) kept me on the straight and narrow. To this day I know my dad will be there when I call, ready to help.

Finally, and most importantly, my father’s faithful walk with the Lord has provided a powerful example to me of a “life well lived”. I cannot recall any deep, theological conversations with my dad, but I do vividly remember getting up in the wee hours of the morning for school (or so it seemed in high school) and finding my dad sitting in his recliner quietly praying and studying the Bible. He has a servant’s heart and an unshakeable faith that can only be found in a close walk with God. Our family has experienced many joys and sorrows over the years, and my dad has faithfully trusted in the Lord and prayed through each and every one. Nothing warms my heart more than to have our now grown family gathered, all 27 of us including spouses and grandchildren, and have my dad lead us in prayer. What a legacy he is creating, and what a blessing I have been given to have this faithful, steady, and yes, even smiling, man to call father. Happy Father’s Day, Dad, you are the best father this girl could ever ask for.

Leslie Morrison: World traveler. Life saver. Hero.

by Robert Morrison

June 12, 2014

I can still remember when Pop woke me up before dawn. Big news in the world: Stalin had died. I was just seven years old, but my dad interpreted the world for me. He had spent 17 years in the Merchant Marine; he sailed to every continent, visiting 47 countries in all. Whenever there was a story about a rare rhino in Africa or an unusual Boa in Brazil, or a shakeup in Russia, Pop could explain it all. He had been there.

Like most World War II vets, he never bragged about what he had done in the war. Only much later did I learn that he had made several dangerous crossings of the U-boat infested North Atlantic. There, if your ship went down, the other ships in the convoy had strict orders not to stop. Pop told us about the time his ship was sunk by a U-boat sixty miles due east of Durban, South Africa. With the ship sinking, Pop ran back to get his camera and took the only pictures of the lifeboats. Only a decade after he was gone did I learn from a surviving shipmate that Pop had run around the deck of the stricken freighter unlatching the pelican hooks that griped down the rubber boats. Had he not done that, his shipmate told me, most of the crew would have died. They could not have survived 18 hours in those frigid waters. Instead of talking about his role as a lifesaver, Pop always told us how nice it was to be put up in a five-star hotel for six weeks and to be able to play tennis daily with the South African women’s champion!

From the day Pop returned from the sea in 1952 until the day he died in 1998, we knew where he was every night of his life. He was the one we turned to when neighborhood bullies threatened. He taught me to defend myself and only call on him if my tormentor brought a gang or a knife to the fight. But if I had to call on Pop, the whole neighborhood knew to watch out.

My father taught me what it meant to be a man. Today, 48% of first-borns in America are born out-of-wedlock. Who will teach those dear children what it means to be a man?

Doug Prol: Coach, Patriot, Provider

by Family Research Council

June 12, 2014

Dear Dad,

#Coach

Run faster! She’s right behind you!” I can still hear your hoarse voice piercing my consciousness as I round the final lap of my 3200 meter race. Tears and sweat blurred my vision. My legs screamed almost as loudly as you. But there you were—believing that I could beat the girl just over my shoulder. You’d offer a hug and a Gatorade regardless of what medal I received, or if I medaled at all. But you believed I was capable. You drove me to excellence. Your fierce and stable support has carried me through much longer, more arduous races. When I was a kid, you pointed me towards writing and art contests and poured over college literature with me. More recently, you’ve nudged and prayed me towards the next good thing. I never would have worked on Capitol Hill, made that spontaneous trip to England, or launched into my counseling degree if you hadn’t been my coach and advocate.

#Patriot

You started wearing tri-corned hats well before they were “cool”—or at least well before the tea party brought them into the public eye as an icon for conservative principles. I seem to recall a particularly awesome photo of you balancing a long wooden pike as you volunteered for the Jamestown militia. I was both mortified and awed by your reenactment, as only an insecure grade-schooler can be. But your love of American history and respect for public service has steered me towards many brown National Park Service historical markers and many difficult policy debates. You taught me how to vote, to write letters to my Congressman, and especially to how pray for wise and godly leaders. Your love and concern for this great country still inspires my work today.

#Provider

You and mom always put bread on the table—and not just any bread but the homemade, sprouted, make-you-a-healthier-person kind of bread. I loved my childhood—having a full house, cheap vacations, and living in a busy metropolitan area. But, looking back with adult intelligence, I am humbled by the long moments when you lost sleep, worked that extra job at ShopRite, and made other unannounced but painful sacrifices to keep our family afloat. I admire your discretion about workplace, family, financial or church stresses—the way you protected me but helped me grow into a wiser, more adept adult decision maker. Your humility and gentleness is precious to me.

So… happy Father’s Day to a very special coach, patriot, and provider! You are very dear to me.

Always,

Your little girl

Saving Meriam Ibrahim

by Family Research Council

June 10, 2014

Christians have a responsibility to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. Proverbs 31 calls Christ-followers to defend the cause of the weak. All throughout, Scripture clearly instructs Christians to raise their voice for those who have no voice.

Today, you have the opportunity to help speak up for someone who is not able to speak for herself. She is a wife. She is a mother of two young children. She sits jailed In a Khartoum prison, a place she knows far too well. Why? She is a Christian.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to Meriam Ibrahim. Ever since January of this year, this woman has been shackled in Sudan for her Christian faith. Even in the face of extreme persecution, this woman of God has stood strong in her faith. One of her children, a newborn, was born during her imprisonment. Currently, Meriam awaits a death sentence for refusing to renounce her faith in Christ. If not overturned, her sentence could include 100 lashes and execution.

The time to act is now. We can talk all we want about caring for the weak but right now is a fitting time to practice what we know to be right. I invite you to raise your voice for one who cannot speak for herself. Please sign this petition calling for Meriam’s release and requesting that President Obama grant her expedited safe haven in the United States. Together, let’s raise our voice for one who is voiceless.

Trampling on the UN’s Noble Heritage

by Travis Weber

June 9, 2014

On October 24, 1945, the nations of the world rose from the ashes of the Holocaust to come together in the United Nations, in part to ensure that individual human rights were protected across national borders in the face of tyrannical governments, and that such genocide as had been perpetrated by the Nazis would not happen again. Coming out of the Holocaust, the United Nations and its treaty and human rights framework naturally focused heavily on the freedom of the individual to their religion and political activity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Genocide Convention, and later the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights all focused on the individual and the individual’s civil liberties — a focus which has served as the building block for Western Civilization’s rich cultural heritage and its prosperous economies.

The United States was a leader in many of these developments. Yet in 2014, the United States finds itself in the position of having nominated an individual to be its representative to the UN’s Committee Against Torture — Felice Gaer — who openly tramples on the very rights on which the United Nations was founded. Ms. Gaer recently told the Holy See’s UN representative reporting on Vatican compliance with the Torture Convention that the Holy See was coming dangerously close to committing torture merely through its positions on abortion. Much of this was apparently driven by the Center for Reproductive Rights, which sent a letter — itself misrepresenting basic principles of international law in furtherance of its own agenda — to the UN committee overseeing implementation of Torture Convention. The flawed reasoning of this letter was then propagated upon the international scene via the Committee Against Torture.

Ms. Gaer previously served as the chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, in which capacity she said that “the right [to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion] includes the freedom of every person to hold, or not to hold, any religion or belief, and to manifest his or her religion or belief either individually or in community with others.” She appears to now be directly contradicting her own views in her statement to the Holy See. More likely, she is losing a sense of proportion and reality. Representatives to such UN committees are supposed to objectively monitor country compliance with the treaties signed by those countries, in accordance with the plain meaning of the treaty, while respecting countries’ declarations and reservations — and NOT take words with an obvious meaning, twist them into something nonsensical, and ramrod them down a signatory country’s throat, all while demonstrating a blatant disregard for a country’s reservations and express conditions for its submission to a treaty’s authority.

Thankfully, the Vatican has struck back, noting that contrary to the view that regulation of abortion could constitute “torture,” the practice of late-term abortion is a much more obvious example of torture. In addition, several UN committee members have clarified they hold a more reasoned position than Ms. Gaer. Nevertheless, it’s troubling that the U.S. representative’s extreme views are being moderated by non-U.S. representatives to the committee. The United States has historically held a very grounded position with regard to international human rights. Though it has already shown cracks and signs of change, Ms. Gaer should not be permitted to further smear that position on the world stage.

Finding a Firm Foundation

by Connor Headrick

June 9, 2014

Navigating the complex waters of public policy with a skeptical audience can be challenging for even the most thoughtful of Christians. Taking a stand on a pressing moral issue, such as abortion or homosexuality, and backing it up with Scripture often brings accusations of bigotry or intolerance.

Because the conversation may turn away from political issues to theological issues once the Bible or God is brought into the equation, it can be easy to simply try to circumvent the debate over Christianity by sticking to secular, empirical arguments, rather than moral Christian arguments.

By doing this, we rightly acknowledge that there is immense value in meeting an individual on common ground and reasoning together, from the state of reality around us, to discover truth. However, as we reason, we must constantly remember that empirical data is worthless if not supported by a framework of moral convictions.

Speed limits are baseless without the underlying moral principle that human life should be protected. Human trafficking and other forms of exploitation are insignificant unless we begin with the understanding that all humans possess a God-given right to liberty. Even murder is morally acceptable without the moral foundation that human life is precious and valuable. Every law is based upon someone’s standard of morality.

When we as Christians refuse to turn to God and revealed truth as the source of right and wrong, in ethics as well as in codified law, we obliterate the moral foundation on which our conservative arguments stand. Without that foundation, why does it matter if children grow up in unstable families? Who is to say whether one civil right is more important than another?

Of all the men and women in the Bible who operated in a political context, Daniel stands as one of the most powerful examples of a man who was unashamed to stand on God’s truth. In Daniel 2, King Nebuchadnezzar ordered the wise men of Babylon to be slaughtered because they were unable to reveal and interpret the dream which had troubled his spirit. Daniel, whose life was endangered by this decree, did not protest on the grounds of the practical consequences the king would suffer from losing all of his wise men. Instead, he went and made an appointment to speak with the king and interpret his dream.

An incredible aspect of this passage is this: when Daniel made the appointment with the king to interpret the dream, Daniel has no idea what the dream meant. Daniel 2:17-18 says, “Then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.”

Daniel exhibited an incredible amount of faith and reliance upon God in trusting that the Lord would reveal the dream to him. And when the moment came for Daniel to stand before the king, confident in what God had revealed, Daniel took neither the glory nor the credit. Instead, he said, “No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days” (Daniel 2:27-28b). In the boldness that comes with proclaiming the Word of God, Daniel revealed to the king the demise of Nebuchadnezzar’s own kingdom and unashamedly asserted that one day, “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed…” (Daniel 2:44).

In response, Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face and answered, “’Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery’” (Daniel 2:47). Though he could have scoffed at Daniel’s interpretation by pointing to empirical data, such as the fact that the Babylonian Empire had just crushed Judah militarily, and the fact that the articles of the Jewish temple now rested in the Babylonian treasury, he responded in awe and reverence to Daniel’s uncompromising stand upon the truth.

Daniel did not reject appeals to common evidence and observation. For example, when he asked to receive a diet of water and vegetables and be evaluated against the other servants, he appealed to his overseer to judge based on who appeared healthiest. But Daniel knew the foundation upon which he stood, and he was unashamed to speak the name of God forthrightly.

So let us not deceive ourselves with the idea that our arguments can be amoral or irreligious. When it comes to the matter of the moral standard upon which laws are built, our arguments cannot ignore the Moral Lawgiver. Let us not constrain ourselves with the false dichotomy that either we must play the role of a conservative who appeals to statistics and evidence, or we must stand on a foundation of biblical morals and principles.

As conservative Christians, we can — and must — do both. Let us not be afraid to hold fast to God and the principles he has revealed in his Word. Only then will we have a truly firm foundation on which to stand.

Alliance Defending Freedom: Open Letter to Planned Parenthood

by Rob Schwarzwalder

June 9, 2014

When Planned Parenthood opined recently that the Bible is silent about abortion, the surprise and dismay of Evangelical Protestants and traditional Catholics was — rightly — exceptionally high. The reason? OF COURSE the Bible speaks, at length, about the sanctity of human life within the womb.

My friend Casey Mattox of FRC’s ally Alliance Defending Freedom has written a short but decisive refutation of Planned Parenthood’s complete misstatement of the Bible’s teaching; it is copied below. Let’s pray for Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards and those in her circle of influence who assert that Scripture is silent on the personhood of the unborn child.

Dear Ms. Richards:

I recently learned that Planned Parenthood has published a “Pastoral Letter” which tells women:

“The truth is that abortion is not even mentioned in the Scriptures — Jewish or Christian — and there are clergy and people of faith from all denominations who support women making this complex decision.”

It appears that this letter is no longer available on your website, but an archived version can be found here for your reference (page 3). While I disagree with Planned Parenthood’s exegesis of Scripture, I am not writing to debate that point. Instead, I write to express my agreement with Planned Parenthood, reflected in the publication of this pastoral letter, that for many women their religious beliefs will be very relevant to their decision about whether to have an abortion.

On that common ground, on behalf of Alliance Defending Freedom, I would like to offer Planned Parenthood one free copy of the Bible for every Planned Parenthood facility in the country. Planned Parenthood could place these Bibles in their waiting rooms and permit women the opportunity to explore for themselves what the Jewish and Christian Scriptures have to say about abortion. There is no doubt that we are on opposite sides of this theological and moral question. But as we are in apparent agreement that Scripture and its teachings (or lack thereof in your view) on abortion would be relevant to many women’s abortion decisions, making these Bibles available to those women would certainly benefit your potential customers.

To allay any concerns you might have, the Bibles Alliance Defending Freedom would provide to Planned Parenthood would be new unmarked copies. For instance, we would not highlight Psalm 127:3 (“Truly children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward”), Psalm 139:13 (“You knit me together in my mother’s womb…”), Psalm 22:10-11 (“You have been my guide since I was first formed … from my mother’s womb you are my God”) or Jeremiah 1:5 (“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart”).

We would not dog-ear Exodus 20:13 (“You shall not kill”). Nor would we even place a bookmark at Luke 1:41, 44 (where the “baby [John the Baptist] … leapt for joy” in his mother’s womb when the baby Jesus was nearby in Mary’s womb).

Rather, we would make these Bibles available, unedited and without emphasis of any kind, allowing those women visiting a Planned Parenthood facility to review them themselves.

We look forward to assisting you in this effort to ensure that women are empowered to decide for themselves what the Bible teaches on this important question. Please let me know at your earliest convenience the addresses to which each Bible should be sent.

Sincerely,
Casey Mattox
Senior Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom

Virginia’s War on Women

by Quena Gonzalez

June 6, 2014

Pro-life activists are used to hearing the trope of the so-called “war on women,” twisting compassionate efforts to save mothers from trauma and babies from death as somehow not in women’s best interest. So there is a certain tragic irony when pro-choice officials like Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe get caught actually lowering medical standards for women.

Three years ago pro-life members of the Virginia General Assembly passed a law requiring minimum safety standards for abortion facilities in the Commonwealth. The abortion industry fought the standards every step of the way, even after the grisly details of Kermit Gosnell’s house of horrors in Philadelphia put a national spot light on abortion practices, and even after Virginia Health Department inspections — mandated by the law — revealed dirty equipment, bloody exam tables, and other sub-standard conditions in abortion facilities across the Old Dominion.

The newly-elected Governor’s claim to champion “women’s issues” is belied by his instructions to the Board of Health to re-examine the new abortion facility standards. Gov. McAuliffe is exercising raw political power to water down protections for vulnerable women who find themselves in the tragic position of seeking an abortion.

Victoria Cobb of the Family Foundation of Virginia captured this irony in her notes from the Thursday meeting of the Virginia Board of Health:

The Virginia Board of Health today took no action as it learned that a review of abortion center health and safety standards has already been initiated by the Commissioner of Health at the request of Governor Terry McAuliffe. The Board met in Richmond and heard a brief review of the process that will take place over the next several months.

In my testimony during the Board’s public comment period, I urged the Department of Health to close down the Virginia Beach abortion center of the notorious abortionist Dr. Steven Brigham, the same plea I made at a press conference outside that facility on Tuesday.

You can read more about our press conference here in a story from yesterday’s Virginian Pilot.

And, you can read more about Steven Brigham and why we believe he should be prohibited from owning or operating abortion centers in Virginia here. You can read my complete press conference remarks here.

At today’s Board meeting, members learned that the Department of Health will conduct a review over the next several months of Virginia’s abortion center health and safety standards adopted just last year. The review will be completed by October 1, but the Board will not likely take any action on what the Department recommends until December. At that point, the Board could reject the Department’s recommendation, or begin the arduous 18-month process of redoing the regulations.

For over 20 years abortion centers in Virginia went unregulated. After legislation was passed in 2011 requiring the Board of Health to adopt health and safety standards, it took two years before the standards were finalized. Since the initial inspections of abortion centers began in 2012, over 300 violations have been found. Multiple abortion centers had bloody and unsterilized equipment. Multiple abortion centers had untrained staff. Multiple abortion centers misused drugs. The list goes on and on.

Incredibly, the same abortion industry that fought for two decades against health and safety standards, including opposing legislation in 2011 that would have required only licensing, inspections and emergency equipment, now claims to want “reasonable regulation,” but asserts that the current standards are too strict. The industry gave Terry McAuliffe $2 million of hush money during his campaign in hopes that he’d reverse the standards. Honestly, how strict can the regulations be if someone like Steven Brigham can still own or operate two abortion centers in Virginia?

Our hope is that the Commissioner of Health and the Board members do not allow themselves to be bullied by Terry McAuliffe and the abortion industry, and keep the current standards in place.

So, will the Virginia Board of Health go along with the Governor’s war on women? (Click here to read comments submitted by my FRC colleague, Arina Grossu.)

Retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness on Washington Watch

by Family Research Council

June 6, 2014

Yesterday on Washington Watch, Retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness joined FRC President Tony Perkins to discuss the recent exchange of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban terrorists.

Tony says that this questionable exchange has rightly dominated national discussion and is one in which Americans should be demanding answers. Having spent 32 years in the military, USAF (Ret.) Col. Maness calls the dealing “unfathomable.” Maness says that the released Taliban leaders are “much more dangerous that they were at the start; they’ve learned a lot about Americans from experience in prison.” They “will use that (experiences) against us,” Tony states.

Both Maness and Perkins agree that this type of exchange leaves terrorists inspired and puts U.S. Service-members serving in hostile environments at greater risk. Now that these fierce leaders are back on the battlefield, what should Congress do? To listen to the discussion and to hear about how Col. Maness thinks Congress should respond, click here

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