Month Archives: October 2020

In Fulton, the Religious Liberty of Foster Care Providers Hangs in the Balance

by Kaitlyn Shepherd

October 21, 2020

During its last term, the Supreme Court garnered considerable attention by wading into the culture wars over polarizing social issues such as abortion and sexuality. Decisions to strike down a common-sense law requiring abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges and to redefine “sex” to include sexual orientation and gender identity were mourned by conservatives and applauded by liberals.

While secular activists lamented, conservatives celebrated decisions upholding the rights of religious families and schools to participate in neutral tuition assistance programs and requiring foreign organizations to adopt policies opposing prostitution and sex trafficking to receive federal funds to combat HIV/AIDS. The Court will likely remain in the public eye during its current term, when it will hear arguments in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, a case that will have significant implications for the future of religious liberty and foster care in America. The justices will hear oral arguments in the case on November 4.

The First Amendment provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ….” Thus, the Constitution protects religious liberty in two separate but related provisions. The Establishment Clause prevents Congress from favoring any religious denomination at the national level, while the Free Exercise Clause guarantees Americans the right to believe and act according to their religious convictions. Both Clauses also constrain the actions of the states. Prior to 1963, the right to freely exercise one’s religion was somewhat limited. While an individual’s religious beliefs were absolutely protected, his or her freedom to act on those beliefs could be fairly easily regulated.  

In 1963 and 1972, the Supreme Court decided two landmark religious liberty cases, Sherbert v. Verner and Wisconsin v. Yoder. These cases established the strict scrutiny standard, which means that when the government implements a law or policy that burdens someone’s right to free exercise, it must show (1) that it has a compelling state interest that justifies its burden on religious exercise and (2) that its law or policy is the least restrictive means of accomplishing this compelling interest. Because of their robust protection of religious liberty, Sherbert and Yoder ushered in a Golden Age of religious freedom in America.

In 1990, the Court issued an unexpected decision that dramatically changed religious liberty protections. In Employment Division v. Smith, the Court abandoned the strict scrutiny standard and held that the government only needs to show that its law or policy is neutral and generally applicable in order to overcome a free exercise challenge. This “neutral law of general applicability” standard waters down protections for religious liberty by giving the government a lower bar to overcome. The government only needs to demonstrate that the law treats religious and secular groups equally and was not enacted to target religion. Under this standard, religious individuals are rarely successful in court and must prove that they were actively targeted for their religious beliefs to prevail.

In its upcoming term, the Court will consider Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. The decision will impact the rights of religious foster care agencies to speak and act consistently with their sincerely held religious beliefs. One of the plaintiffs in the case, Catholic Social Services (CSS), is a faith-based foster care agency that operates in Philadelphia. When a child enters Philadelphia’s foster care system, the City refers them to one of several foster care agencies. These agencies then evaluate prospective foster parents to certify that they meet state standards. Because of its sincerely held religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman, CSS considers same-sex couples to be unmarried and is unable to certify them as foster parents. However, if an LGBT-identified couple were ever to approach them (which has never happened), CSS would refer them to another agency that would be a better fit. Nevertheless, Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services has stopped referring children to CSS.

In the lower courts, CSS argued that the City’s actions were neither neutral nor generally applicable and targeted CSS because of its religious beliefs. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that there was no First Amendment violation and that Philadelphia did not treat CSS differently because of its religious beliefs. Rather, the court found that Philadelphia was merely engaged in a good-faith effort to enforce its nondiscrimination policy, which “prohibits sexual orientation discrimination in public accommodations.”  

In Fulton, one of the major issues that the Supreme Court will consider is whether it should revisit its decision in Employment Division v. Smith. If the Court revisits and overrules Smith, it will be a major victory for religious liberty that could restore the favorable strict scrutiny standard. However, if the Court declines to revisit Smith, or revisits and upholds Smith, its damaging precedent will become further entrenched in American law, dealing a major blow to religious liberty. The Court’s decision could be influenced by its recent decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which, as Justice Alito predicted in his dissent, could affect the speech of those who desire to “express[] disapproval of same-sex relationships …”

Allowing religious discrimination against faith-based foster care agencies would not just be a blow to the constitutionally-protected right of religious liberty. It would also be detrimental to the already overburdened foster care system. In states and localities that have forced religious agencies to close, children suffer. For example, after Illinois passed a statute that forced all foster care and adoption agencies to place children with same-sex couples, nearly 3,000 children were displaced from religious agencies that were forced to close, and over 5,000 foster homes were lost. In Philadelphia, the home of a “Foster Parent of the Year” award winner who had been serving needy youth for decades was forcibly closed to foster youth, as were others. After the City ended its contract with CSS, siblings of children who had already been placed by the agency faced the daunting prospective of being forced into separate homes.  

Pennsylvania is not the only state to witness the targeting of religious foster care agencies. In Michigan, an activist couple targeted St. Vincent Catholic Charities, passing four other agencies they could have worked with as they traveled from their home to St. Vincent. Here, referrals had been made. Children in St. Vincent’s care had been transferred to other agencies working with LGBT-identified couples who were interested in adopting children in St. Vincent’s care. And in New York, New Hope Family Services, which has been serving needy children for over 50 years, was informed by the state that it must either change its policy of referring LGBT-identified couples to other agencies or cease its adoption services. A New York District Court judge recently issued an injunction on behalf of the church, preventing the state “from revoking New Hope Family Services’ authorization to place children for adoption.”

In Fulton, the Court stands poised to issue a decision that will have a lasting impact on the religious liberty of foster care agencies and perhaps that of all Americans. While we watch and wait for the Court’s decision, we should pray that God would give the justices wisdom to make the right decision.

Kaitlyn Shepherd is a legal intern with the Policy & Government Affairs Department at Family Research Council.

Judging Amy: The Left’s Proclivity for Believing and Empowering Women Is Limited To Their Own

by Laura Grossberndt

October 20, 2020

Believe women.”

The slogan, born out of the #MeToo movement, was a common refrain during the Senate Judiciary hearings in September 2018 leading up to Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court of the United States. Some even inserted an “all” to make it “Believe all women.” Essentially, the message of “Believe women” was to forsake bias and take women at their word.

During the confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett last week, the “Believe women” refrain was absent. Maybe it shouldn’t have been. Not because any women were accusing the nominee of sexual misconduct (there are no such allegations against Barrett) but because time and again, the Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary—as well as members of the media—refused to take the judge at her word.

Not only did they often refuse to believe Barrett, but numerous journalists and political pundits also violated a list of rules for reporting on female candidates for public office that a coalition of powerful, progressive women had sent to the news media ahead of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s announcement of his vice-presidential running mate. The list of sexist pitfalls to avoid included:

  • Reporting on a woman’s ambition
  • Reporting on a woman’s likability
  • Reporting on a woman’s appearance or tone of voice
  • Reporting on doubts about a woman’s qualifications, despite her being equally or more qualified than her male peers

Each of the rules listed above were broken during the Barrett confirmation process. This not only reveals inconsistencies between the way the media chooses to report about men and women, but it also reveals inconsistencies between the way the ideological Left insists women ought to be treated and how some of their own number treat more moderate and conservative-minded women. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, tweeted in support of Barrett, alleging that the left “doesn’t like women that have their own mind” and said that Barrett is attacked and denigrated because she does not fit their idea of a “perfect woman.”

Here are five ways the ideological Left’s handling of the Barrett hearings exposes their hypocritical inclination to believe and empower only certain women—those who conform to their ideology.

#1: By Not Taking Her at Her Word

At confirmation hearings, the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee question judicial nominees under oath. This is so the Senate can better fulfill its constitutional “advice and consent” role.

Confirmation hearings are meant to entail thorough questioning. But Judiciary Democrats seemed determined to disbelieve Judge Barrett from the start. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) implied that Barrett was dishonestly concealing her personal pro-life beliefs by not including two pro-life petitions that she had signed as a member of her church in her initial 1,800-page disclosure (she included these in her supplemental disclosures, which are common to have). Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) doubted whether anyone could ascertain Barrett’s intentions from her sworn statements at the hearings, saying “the only way for the American people to figure out how you might rule is to follow your record and follow the tracks.” Committee members repeatedly asked Barrett if she had any understandings or made any deals with the president, such as voting to end the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or overturn Roe v. Wade. Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) implied Barrett might act as a pawn of the president when she asked whether the judge’s piece commenting on the ACA was a signal for Trump to pick her. Each of the numerous times these doubts were raised, Barrett stressed her judicial independence, personal integrity, and commitment to the rule of law:

I have not made any commitments or deals or anything like that. I’m not here on a mission to destroy the Affordable Care Act. I’m just here to apply the law and adhere to the rule of law.

And again:

I have no mission and no agenda. Judges don’t have campaign promises.

Regarding her integrity as a judge:

I certainly hope that all members of the committee have more confidence in my integrity than to think that I would allow myself to be used as a pawn to decide the election for the American people.

And:

I do assure you of my integrity.

Those who know Judge Barrett best professionally describe her as someone deserving of being taken at her word. Patricia O’Hara, professor emerita at Notre Dame Law School, introduced Barrett at the confirmation hearings, describing her as “fair and impartial.” On the final day of hearings, Laura Wolk, a former student of Barrett’s at Notre Dame and the first blind female Supreme Court clerk, testified on her mentor’s behalf, hailing her as eminently trustworthy: “She is a woman of her word. She means what she says, and she says what she means. When she promised to advocate for me, she commanded my trust.”

During Barrett’s hearings, it was clear that Judiciary Democrats either doubted the judge’s veracity under oath or simply didn’t want to believe her.

#2: By Implying She Doesn’t Have Her Own Mind

Opponents to Judge Barrett’s nomination have had the audacity to imply that she wouldn’t be making her own decisions on the bench. They seem to imagine her functioning as a sort of pawn or proxy “doing the bidding” of a man calling the shots (pick one: the president, her husband, her late mentor Antonin Scalia, the Pope). Insinuations of this nature are highly insulting, as they willfully ignore Barrett’s stellar qualifications as a judge, misunderstand her faith, and disbelieve her own statements under oath that she is intellectually independent and not beholden to anyone or anything but the Constitution. So much for “believing women.”

During day three of the confirmation hearings, Barrett acknowledged that she shares Justice’s Scalia’s judicial philosophy of originalism and textualism. However, she had to clarify multiple times that she should not be mistaken for a carbon copy of Scalia who would always rule in the same manner that he did. As she told Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) (emphasis added):

I do share Justice Scalia’s approach to text, originalism and textualism. But in the litany of cases that you’ve just identified, the particular votes that he cast are a different question of whether I would agree with the way that he applied those principles in particular cases. And I’ve already said, and I hope that you aren’t suggesting that I don’t have my own mind or that I couldn’t think independently or that I would just decide “let me see what Justice Scalia has said about this in the past,” because I assure you I have my own mind. But everything that he said is not necessarily what I would agree with or what I would do if I were Justice Barrett. That was Justice Scalia. So, I share his philosophy, but I have never said that I would always reach the same outcome as he did.

Barrett intelligently responded to Judiciary Committee questioning for hours over the course of two days with absolutely no notes in front of her, an impressive feat that few people could match. Those doubting her knowledge, independence, and competence embarrass themselves.

#3: By Objecting To Her Career Success and Aspirations as “Ambition”

The Washington Post ran a story that described Judge Barrett as “unleashing her ambition,” while Slate disparaged her as “a shameless, cynical careerist who believes nobody can stop her.” The article continued, “what’s wrong with Barrett isn’t that she’s too pious, or that she’s submissive in her personal life. It’s that she’s bent on making herself one of the nine most powerful judges in the country.”

It’s hard to imagine such statements being made about a male nominee or a female nominee whose judicial philosophy and policy positions more closely align with the Left. Indeed, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been lauded for her “trailblazing career” and breaking the glass ceiling. It begs the question: why would it be wrong for any woman, especially one as qualified as Barrett, to aspire to sit on the Supreme Court? Furthermore, it’s unclear how Barrett fits the description of “ambitious” besides being so good at her job that someone else noticed and nominated her for the Supreme Court.

Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a member of the Judiciary Committee and a military veteran, tweeted in response to the Slate article:

This is the kind of sexist garbage women have been dealing with for far too long. Women can be anything we want to be: a farmer, a military officer, a Senator, and yes even a Supreme Court Justice.

#4: By Judging Her by Her Appearance (to a degree that wouldn’t be done to her male peers)

The clothes Barrett wore to her confirmation hearings were neat, professional, and stylish. They looked an awful lot like the clothes countless other professional women on Capitol Hill wear. A male nominee comparatively well-dressed would not have garnered the reactions Barrett’s choice of clothing elicited. And women the Left loves—like Michelle Obama—are praised for their fashion sense. But even something as innocuous as clothes was seized upon by Barrett’s critics as an opportunity to disparage her.

The Daily Beast published an entire article centered on the dress Judge Barrett wore on day one of the confirmation hearings (and no, it wasn’t about where to buy it or “how to copy her look”). The author interpreted Barrett’s choice of clothing as a calculated distraction, saying her dress “projected capability and congeniality” while she did “the bidding” of the president. Here we have a sexist one-two punch of hyper-focusing on a woman’s clothing choice and portraying her as a mindless sycophant, despite abundant evidence to the contrary.

Barrett’s critics have embraced the demeaning caricature of her as a subservient “handmaiden” à la The Handmaid’s Tale. Former congresswoman Katie Hill thought she saw evidence of this false caricature represented in Barrett’s clothing, tweeting on day three of the hearings: “I hate to be someone who judges women on their clothes but I’m sorry ACB’s outfits are all way too handmaids-y.” Hill later deleted the tweet after negative response. Senator Ernst once again tweeted in Barrett’s defense:

The liberal left is attacking Judge Barrett in this way because they can’t attack her on her qualifications or character. No woman should have to deal with this kind of blatant sexism.

#5: By Questioning Her Ability To Parent and Do Her Job

Some on the ideological Left questioned whether Judge Barrett could handle being “a loving, present mom” and a Supreme Court justice. It’s highly doubtful that anyone has ever questioned a male Supreme Court nominee’s ability to be a loving, present father. If a more progressively-minded judge were being nominated for the Court, would the media express comparable concern for her school-aged children? It’s hard to say since Barrett is the first such mother of school-aged children to be nominated.

Slate described Barrett’s inspirational story as “a trap” to trick women into thinking that they “can have it all” and don’t need abortion in order to succeed. On the contrary, more women need to be shown that they shouldn’t have to abort their children in order to have a fulfilling life or career. Barrett might seem like a unicorn for now, but only because she’s blazing a path for other women to follow.

A True Role Model

Justice Ginsburg recalled being asked when she thought there would be enough women on the Supreme Court. Her reply? “When there are nine … There’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.” This famous quote by Ginsburg has been hailed by her admirers and many on the ideological Left. Yet, when a conservative woman is nominated to the Court, it is clear that they would prefer a male judge who shares their ideology than a conservative female judge who has sworn that she will interpret the law rather than legislate from the bench.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett is highly qualified to sit on the Supreme Court. Instead of the inconsequential—and, at times, sexist—things her critics have harped on, consider this list of accomplishments and accolades. In other words, things that truly matter:

  • First in her class at Notre Dame Law School, where she was executive editor of the Notre Dame Law Review 
  • Clerked for Judge Laurence H. Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and for Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court
  • Worked as an associate at Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin and then at Baker Botts in Washington, D.C.
  • Former visiting associate professor and John M. Olin Fellow in Law at the George Washington University Law School
  • Former visiting associate professor of law at the University of Virginia
  • Professor of law at Notre Dame Law School
  • Member of the American Law Institute (ALI)
  • Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • Endorsed by all of her fellow Notre Dame law professors in 2017
  • Endorsed by all of her fellow 1998 Supreme Court clerks in 2017
  • Rated by the American Bar Association as “well qualified” to serve on the Supreme Court

Patricia O’Hara of Notre Dame Law School summed up Barrett as a judge thus: “In her three years as a judge on the Seventh Circuit, her opinions have been characterized by the same quality as her scholarship — intellectual rigor, painstaking analysis, clarity of legal reasoning and writing. Accompanied by her deep commitment as a jurist to apply the law to the facts before her.”

Throughout her life and career, Barrett has exemplified what we should want in a Supreme Court nominee. What would this confirmation process have been like if everyone had spent less time analyzing her wardrobe and more time looking at her qualifications and taking her at her word? I guess we’ll never know.

Ideological progressives and the media talk a big talk of “believing women” and empowering them. But their treatment of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett in recent days signals to more moderate and conservative-minded women that progressives only believe and empower certain women who fit their preferred mold, to the exclusion of others.

However, to the thousands of women who don’t fit this preferred mold, Judge Barrett truly is a role model.

A Christian Girl’s Response To a Christian Guy’s Struggle With Pornography

by Cassidy Rich

October 19, 2020

Dear brothers in Christ, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry that you are bombarded every single day with images that truly shouldn’t exist. Images of girls showing parts of their bodies that only their husband should see. I’m so sorry that this is such an enormous avenue that Satan uses to warp your mind and rewire your brain to objectify women. While I can’t speak for all girls, I can and will speak for myself: I understand and feel compassion for you in this fight.

Studies continue to find that well over 70 percent of young men these days view pornography on a weekly basis. Articles that were published 20 years ago are still just as relevant today: Porn teaches men that women are less than human and provides a false sense of intimacy. 

I used to tell myself that I could never be in a relationship with or marry a guy who struggles with porn. “How could I love and be loved by a guy who looks at other women like that?” I thought. As I’ve given this more thought and done my own research, I’ve begun to realize something: In Christian communities, young people are told that sex before marriage is wrong, which it is, and in some ways encouraged to avoid the opposite sex until it’s time for marriage. Does this mean that we aren’t sexual beings until we are ready for marriage? Of course not. We are created to be sexual beings. Guys, it is normal for you to have those feelings. I don’t think Christians acknowledge that enough.

Avoid each other until you’re ready for marriage” was the message I received from different Christian dating books and conferences, which shall remain unnamed. In my experience, many Christian communities want to pretend like young Christians can not only abstain from sexual experiences, but abstain even from sexual feelings until the wedding night. It seems like young men in particular (though the number of young women who are struggling with porn is growing) feel that they don’t know what to do with these sexual urges and therefore, porn gives them an outlet that they can justify by telling themselves it isn’t hurting anyone and is allowing them to leave Christian girls alone so they can remain pure.

Understanding the struggle of pornography in this way, it made more sense to me why Christian guys view it. And it filled me with compassion. Porn can be as addicting as drugs, and guys get a “hit” from it just like you would if you partook of a basic street drug. Our overly sexualized culture says that porn is exciting, smartphones make it way too easy to access it, and Satan is constantly lying to us by saying that it doesn’t hurt anybody. For guys, being the visual creatures that God created you to be, the bombardment of these lies makes it seemingly impossible to resist the urge that so easily creeps up in everyday life. But it IS possible to resist, if you’re willing to fight.

We, as Christians especially, need to remember that God created sex and that within marriage, it’s beautiful. Young Christians need to hear that these sexual feelings are not evil, but are God-given and are best fulfilled in marriage. They need to be guided towards preparing for and finding a spouse much earlier than the current national average of nearly 30 years old. Flirting, holding hands, hugging, and even kissing before you get married aren’t sins. Every couple is different and can set their own standards within biblical parameters, but we should stop fearing that anything beyond a side hug is going to make us lose control.

So to my sisters, let’s pray for our brothers in Christ that we can have an understanding approach. And guys, let us help you fight. Please know that when you view porn, whether you realize it or not, you’re comparing real life girls with the porn stars. Porn stars are digitally enhanced women who are often abused and in very unhealthy situations during the production of porn. These girls are someone’s sister or daughter. It’s not right for you to think that you can only be attracted to girls who look this way just because that’s what you’re viewing on your screen. Porn makes you value unrealistic outward appearances, not a girl’s personality and character.

If God puts a girl in your life who is chasing after Him, loves others, and who you just have fun with, pursue that girl and don’t let her go! Am I saying you should marry a girl you’re not physically attracted to? Nope. I’m saying you’ll be surprised at how physically attractive she is when you start valuing the right things. Don’t let porn make it more difficult for you to physically and emotionally connect with a real girl. That’s unhealthy for you and will honestly ruin your life. After long-term exposure to porn, you will find yourself turning to it when you are under stress, lonely, sad, struggling, or just plain bored. It becomes a coping strategy when problems arise.

One of the keys to overcoming porn addiction is developing strong relationships with real people. You must begin by being truthful with yourself. As you search inside yourself and pray for God to open your eyes, it is vital to recognize how pornography has influenced your life. How has it affected your overall happiness and well-being? How has it changed the quality of your relationships? How has it affected your spiritual life and your relationship with God? Through honest evaluation, you will see things you want to change. This desire for change is a good, God-honoring point in your life. Take advantage of the resources out there to hold you accountable. You can overcome this. It will be well worth it for you, your future wife, your future children, and society as a whole.

Cassidy Rich formerly served at FRC. She grew up in a large homeschooled family, loves kids, and ministers in her church’s childcare program. After living in Washington, D.C. for almost three years, she moved back home to Arizona to be closer to her awesome family.

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of October 11)

by Family Research Council

October 16, 2020

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Update: Barrett Gives Senate Cause for Confirm

In the recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings for nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee took turns testing the fitness of Judge Barrett to serve as a Supreme Court Justice. But for the Left, this wasn’t a sincere discussion about America’s highest court—it was a campaign rally. And a revealing one at that.

2. Blog: Christian Voting Myth #3: “I Don’t Like Either Candidate, So What’s the Point?”

In an ideal world, you would always have the option to vote for really great people that you agree with in every respect. In the real world, however, sometimes there is no different option. What should you do then? In part 3 of our 4-part series dedicated to debunking common Christian voting myths we unpack the myth: “I Don’t Like Either Candidate, So What’s the Point?”

3. Blog: Senate Democrats: Tone-Deaf on Religious Freedom

Throughout the recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Democrats used Amy Coney Barrett as a political prop for their re-election campaigns. Senator Mazie Hirono from Hawaii turned in one of the worst performances on day three of the confirmation hearing—exhibiting a tone-deafness to religious freedom that was almost bizarre.

4. Washington Watch: Dr. Jay Bhattacharya warns that the government’s virus policies don’t fit with the virus science

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the Great Barrington Declaration he co-authored that calls for a herd immunity response to COVID-19.

5. Washington WatchAndrew Bostom warns against the dangerous side effects of the current, oppressive virus policies

Dr. Andrew Bostom, Epidemiologist and Associate Professor of Family Medicine at Brown University, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the Great Barrington Declaration that calls for a herd immunity response to COVID-19.

6. Freedom Sunday broadcast

At Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, Tony joined Pastor Jack Hibbs in hosting Freedom Sunday, an in-person church service, to encourage the church to choose faith over fear.

7. Pray Vote Stand broadcast: You Deserve to Know

On this edition of Pray Vote Stand, Tony welcomed Bishop Larry Jackson, Dave Brat, Joseph Backholm, and Chad Connelly to take a look at what the Left isn’t telling you about its agenda for the courts, religious freedom, and the future of this country.

For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.com, our Facebook pageTwitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad.

Family Research Council’s vision is a prevailing culture in which all human life is valued, families flourish, and religious liberty thrives. Join us to learn about FRC’s work and see how you can help advance faith, family, and freedom.

The Strange Cognitive Dissonance of the Democrats on Life

by Katherine Beck Johnson

October 15, 2020

The final day of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing consisted of witnesses. The Republican and Democratic senators of the Senate Judiciary Committee each called upon individuals who expressed their personal opinions on why or why not Barrett should be confirmed to the Supreme Court.

The Republicans called upon former clerks, students, and colleagues of Judge Barrett. Each spoke highly of Barrett’s intellect, compassion, and legal skills. In contrast, the Democratic witnesses all opined on the danger they thought a Justice Barrett would pose to the country.

One of the Democratic witnesses, Crystal Good, described herself as a “reproductive rights advocate.” She spoke about her experience being pregnant as a 16-year-old and going to court to obtain an abortion without parental consent. Sadly, Good claimed that killing her unborn child allowed her to take control of her life. She went on to say that Barrett’s confirmation would prevent abortions that millions of women rely on each year.

The next witness the Democrats called was Stacy Staggs, a mother of twins born prematurely. The larger twin weighed just two pounds at birth, while the smaller twin was under two pounds. The twin girls spent time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and Staggs was unable to hold her daughters for weeks. In her testimony, Staggs spoke about the necessity of her children being provided health care. She alleged a Justice Barrett would take away the necessary health care that saved her children’s lives.

Are the Democrats aware of the cognitive dissonance these two testimonies create? One witness asserted that she should have the right to end her unborn child’s life. The subsequent witness detailed how she fought for the lives of her premature children. One witness denied the humanity of the unborn, while the subsequent witness acknowledged the humanity of these precious little lives. This cognitive dissonance should not be surprising. Democrats claim to care about the health and wellbeing of children. However, in addition to supporting the termination of life in the womb, Democrats in Congress have repeatedly blocked legislation that would ensure medical care to children born alive after a failed abortion. It’s clear that the Democrats only value life when that life is wanted.

A child’s right to life should not depend on whether the parents want him or her. Life is an inherent human right. The aforementioned testimonies at the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett demonstrate that Democrats only want to protect the right to life of children who are wanted. This picking and choosing which children “deserve” life must end.

Ted Cruz is Right: Certain FDA-approved Birth Control Can Cause Abortions

by Laura Grossberndt , Ruth Moreno

October 15, 2020

During the second day of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Senate confirmation hearing, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) asked the Supreme Court nominee about threats to religious liberty. Cruz correctly pointed out that certain kinds of birth control pills induce abortion and criticized the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) attempt to fine religious groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor “in order to force them to pay for abortion-inducing drugs, among others.”

Planned Parenthood responded to Sen. Cruz’s remarks with a tweet contradicting Cruz and asserting that birth control cannot cause an abortion.

Despite mainstream media outlets framing the situation as Planned Parenthood “correcting” Sen. Cruz, it is actually Planned Parenthood who is in the wrong. Cruz referred to abortion-inducing drugs, “among others.” Of course, not all forms of birth control cause abortions. However, some do, including the notorious “morning-after pill” Plan B and a newer, lesser-known FDA-approved drug called Ella (also known as ulipristal acetate or Ella-One).

The FDA misleadingly labels Ella a more effective “Emergency Contraception.” Like Plan B, Ella can cause an abortion by preventing a fertilized egg (embryo) from implanting in the uterus. But unlike Plan B, Ella can also terminate a pregnancy after the embryo has already implanted. It does this by starving the embryo of a chemical known as progesterone, which the embryo needs in order to continue developing inside the uterus. By inhibiting progesterone, Ella functions similarly to the “abortion pill” mifepristone (also known as Mifeprex or RU-486), which is used to end the lives of babies in the first trimester. Like mifepristone, Ella can induce abortions both pre- and post-implantation.

Numerous studies reported by the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) show that Ella causes abortions in animals, including macaques, close relatives to monkeys. Researchers have also concluded that just a 30-milligram dose of Ella will abort human babies.

Ella’s proponents claim that the drug will not interfere with pregnancy because it is only approved for use within five days of sexual intercourse, and implantation usually occurs six to 10 days after fertilization. Although Ella’s online provider, Project Ruby, requires a prescription, it does not require an in-person examination from a doctor prior to purchase. Planned Parenthood itself attempts to create confusion by calling Ella a type of “morning-after pill” when, in reality, the pill can be taken for several days after having intercourse.

Planned Parenthood should get its fact straight before criticizing Sen. Cruz’s valid concerns about abortifacient drugs and the federal government’s attempts to force religious groups to pay for them. By propagating the lie that birth control is always contraceptive and never abortifacient, Planned Parenthood continues to mislead countless women about their options before and after becoming pregnant. Women have the right to know what drugs can do to their own bodies and those of their unborn children.

Planned Parenthood is also failing to treat a complex discussion about health care and religious liberty with appropriate nuance. Fortunately, the court case involving the ACA and the Little Sisters of the Poor was decided in support of the Little Sisters’ right to freedom of conscience. However, many of our nation’s officials, both elected and unelected, would have liked to see the case settled differently. Religious liberty is the most fundamental right enshrined in the First Amendment, but it is under attack from those who would rather see an overbearing federal government force religious organizations, like the Little Sisters of the Poor, to violate their consciences.

Ruth Moreno is a Policy and Government Affairs intern focusing on federal legislative affairs, with a concentration on pro-life issues.

Senate Democrats: Tone-Deaf on Religious Freedom

by Travis Weber, J.D., LL.M.

October 14, 2020

Throughout the last several days of Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats using Amy Coney Barrett as a political prop for their re-election campaigns (and antagonism toward President Trump), Senator Mazie Hirono from Hawaii turned in one of the worst performances on day three of the confirmation hearing—exhibiting a tone-deafness to religious freedom that was almost bizarre.

Among her list of cases on a giant poster-board supposedly showing that the sky would fall if Barrett is confirmed, Hirono included South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom, which she claimed is putting “COVID safety measures” at risk.

Yet, South Bay is a case in which the Supreme Court refused to step in and protect a church from being discriminated against under coronavirus restrictions, after California continued to treat religious worship gatherings less equally than “factories, offices, supermarkets, restaurants, retail stores, pharmacies, shopping malls, pet grooming shops, bookstores, florists, hair salons, and cannabis dispensaries” under its approach to the coronavirus.

Why is Hirono using a case in which a church is being shut down to claim that coronavirus restrictions are at risk? Either she devalues religious freedom that much, or is blind to the needs of such churches.

But that church’s pastor, Amada Huizar, is not. He has had to face the very real and serious consequences of what has happened because churches have been unconstitutionally shuttered around the country: harm to communities and the people who live in them. Pastor Huizar recently joined FRC President Tony Perkins on Washington Watch to share the incredible life-and-death story of his decision to reopen his church, and spoke at Freedom Sunday, an event held to call on churches to reopen in the face of unconstitutional restrictions on them around the country.

Senator Hirono may simply be tone-deaf to the religious freedom rights of Pastor Huizar and others like him. The alternative is that she thinks so little of the First Amendment that she’s willing to use a case suppressing a church’s rights in her bid to block Judge Barrett’s confirmation. Either possibility is dismal in terms of respect for our First Amendment and the Constitution.

Losing the Life They Once Knew: The Harrowing Plight of Coptic Christians

by Lela Gilbert

October 14, 2020

We are the Church of Martyrs” is a phrase heard over and over in conversations with young Copts,” writes Martin Mosebach, author of the profound and powerful book, The 21: A Journey into the Land of Coptic Martyrs. He provides a detailed portrait of each of the 21 men who died on a Libyan beach—all but one Egyptian, beheaded by ISIS on February 15, 2015.

It is the honorary title of the Coptic Church but has also been undeniably prophetic. For throughout history, the Copts have been given countless opportunities to maintain their status as just that: a fellowship of martyrs.”

So it was in 2015 for those faithful Christian men who refused to deny their faith at the cost of their lives, and so the threat remains today in their homeland.

Although some international observers, such as USCIRF, have noted that Christian persecution in Egypt seems to have diminished somewhat in recent years, they are also obliged to note that it most certainly has not disappeared. On Friday, October 9, Premier Christian News reported, “A mob of extremists have attacked the homes of Coptic Christians in the Egyptian village of Dabous. The attack occurred after a wedding taking place in a neighboring village was interrupted by two young Muslim extremists, who bullied and beat a 10-year-old Coptic Christian child.” 

The beating of an innocent child was too much to bear for the those who watched. International Christian Concern explained, “Some Christian adults subsequently confronted the two attackers. Mina, a 25-year-old resident of the village, explained to ICC‘The cause of the story was that two Muslim men who don’t belong to our village beat a young Coptic kid. The Coptic men didn’t accept that.’ The confrontation became violent and resulted in the Muslim individuals receiving injuries.”

Unsurprisingly, the upheaval continued into the next day, when the Muslim men retaliated. Before the dust settled, there had been extensive property damage and many wounds. There were calls for a “reconciliation” meeting, a sort of false attempt at diplomacy in which both sides of a dispute are called upon to bear equal responsibility for the harm done. Meanwhile, the guilty parties are never required to pay the price for their initial provocation.

Open Doors’ World Watch explains, “Many Egyptian Christians encounter substantial roadblocks to living out their faith. There are violent attacks that make news headlines around the world, but there are also quieter, more subtle forms of duress that burden Egyptian believers. Particularly in rural areas in northern Egypt, Christians have been chased from villages, and subject to mob violence and intense familial and community pressure. This is even more pronounced for Christians who are converts from Islam.”

Clearly illustrated by the recent story about Dabous, Egyptian males are often responsible for various assaults and violent outbursts. But all too often, it is Christian females who pay the highest price for their faith. And far too many continue to suffer in silence.

As I have reported elsewhere, Egypt’s Christian girls and women continue to face a silent epidemic of kidnapping, rape, beatings, and torture. Innumerable girls and women vanish forever, and even if they are somehow rescued, their stories are thought to be so shameful that they’re hidden as dark family secrets. Sometimes doctors are able to quietly repair internal damage and “restore virginity” to the abused. Priests, if made aware of the situation, may try to protect family reputations when the girls return.

But the devastated survivors will never be the same.

The attacks vary—some happen randomly, when a vulnerable female is spotted walking alone on a sidewalk. Other are plotted by Islamist consortiums, who pay kidnappers as much $3,000 per girl. The assailants rape the victims, hold them in captivity, then demand that the terrified young women convert to Islam—often violently abusing them until they surrender.

For more years than can be counted, it has remained true that Egypt’s Copts belong to a “fellowship of martyrdom.” Not all of them are murdered—like those beheaded on a distant beach, or blown apart in bombed churches. But too many Christians have lost the life they once knew—whether it has been stolen by fanatical kidnappers, or violated by thugs, or simply reduced to a struggle for survival by constant threats of Islamist violence.

Christian Voting Myth #4: “I’m Not in the Majority Where I Live, So Why Bother?”

by Joseph Backholm

October 14, 2020

This is the final part of a 4-part series debunking four common myths Christians use to not vote. Read myth #1: “One Vote Doesn’t Make a Difference”; myth #2: “God Is in Charge Anyway So It Doesn’t Matter if I Vote” and myth #3: “I Don’t Like Either Candidate, So What’s the Point?”

It’s election season, and with every election comes polling. And with every poll comes the quest for 51 percent. After all, just one more vote than the other guy and I win. The fact that the person with the most votes wins elections is the reason most of us believe that the majority wins. But is it true? Not entirely. Here’s why.

In the United States, the population is 327 million people. But not everyone who lives in America can vote in elections. To be eligible to vote, you have to be a citizen, at least 18 years old, and, in most places, not a felon.

Out of 327 million people, only 253 million are eligible voters. But that doesn’t mean all of them are voters. In fact, of the 253 million eligible voters, only 153 million are registered voters. That means less than half the U.S. population is a registered voter. But that’s not all. Not every registered voter actually votes. In 2016, 137 million people voted, but they didn’t all vote in every race. Only 127 million votes were cast for president.

Put it all together, and we learn that 54 percent of eligible voters and less than 42 percent of Americans voted.

As a result, Donald Trump was elected president with just under 63 million votes. That’s right. The President of the United States was chosen by only 25 percent of eligible voters and less than 20 percent of the population. That doesn’t represent a majority of Americans, that represents a majority of Americans who voted.

This phenomenon is true in every election and in every race around the country. Even candidates who win comfortably aren’t getting support from a majority of their constituents.

In 2018, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf won comfortably with over 57 percent of the vote, but he received the votes of only 22 percent of his constituents.  

The lack of participation in every election is magnified in close elections. In 2017, a Virginia House of Delegates race ended in a tie after more than 23,000 ballots were cast. Even one more person deciding to vote would have made a tremendous difference.

In 2016, a New Mexico State House seat was decided by two votes out of 14,000 ballots cast. Two votes made a big difference there.

In more local races, the drop-off rate increases, meaning that races are decided by a smaller number of total votes and a smaller percentage of the electorate. State legislative races are often decided by less than 10 percent of the people in a district. School board races are commonly decided by less than five percent of the people affected. Sometimes it’s closer to one percent.

So, yes. It’s true that the majority wins elections, it’s just not the whole story. Elections are not decided by a majority of a country, state, or city, they’re decided by a majority of those who actually participate.

According to George Barna, 61 percent of eligible evangelicals voted in the 2016 election. This means that almost 40 percent did not vote. In other words, four out of 10 people you go to church with do not vote when given the opportunity. 

Despite this, the church still has a disproportionate impact. According to Pew Research, in the 2018 election, white evangelicals were 26 percent of all voters despite being only 15 percent of the population. Imagine the impact the church could have if everyone did their part.  

The point is, participate. It isn’t hard but it is important. If you’re not registered to vote, get registered. If you don’t usually vote, fill out your ballot. Don’t worry that not everyone in your community agrees with you, that may not even matter. After all, it’s not the majority who wins, it’s the majority of those who actually show up. It’s our job to show up.

Roe Isn’t Super … or Super-Precedent

by Katherine Beck Johnson

October 13, 2020

In the second day of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Senate confirmation hearing, many members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, particularly Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), questioned the Supreme Court nominee about the concept of “super-precedent.” Barrett has previously written that seven cases are currently understood by legal academics as super-precedent, including Brown v. Board of Education. She defined super-precedent as “cases that no justice would overrule, even if she disagrees with the interpretative premises from which the precedent proceeds.” Barrett said at the hearing that, according to this definition, Roe v. Wade does not qualify as super-precedent.

When asked why Brown is super-precedent and Roe is not, Barrett explained that Brown is super-precedent because the Supreme Court decided that the “separate but equal doctrine” is unconstitutional and because the American people have accepted the Court’s decision as settled law. Segregation is a horrible stain on our nation’s history. Thankfully, it is now accepted that racism and segregation is a moral evil that will no longer be tolerated in our country. Because there are no legal challenges advocating for segregation, Brown is clearly settled law.

Barrett said Roe does not qualify as super-precedent because the American people have not accepted this Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in all 50 states. She is right. Many American people believe abortion is a moral evil that should not be tolerated in our country. The Republican Party platform supports a human life amendment to the Constitution clarifying that the unborn are protected by the 14th Amendment. The March for Life, which draws hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country, takes place every January in Washington, D.C. on the anniversary of Roe.  

Quite significantly, a number of states have passed strong pro-life laws in recent years, and there are also numerous lawsuits currently challenging abortion.

Last year, Alabama passed a comprehensive law affirming and protecting human life at all stages—a model for how to fully protect life. States have defunded abortion and abortionists. Other states like Colorado are proposing ballot measures to protect life this fall. Certain states like Nebraska have passed dismemberment bans, and others have passed laws protecting the dignity of the remains of the unborn. Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Ohio have all passed heartbeat bills. These bills seek to prohibit abortion when a heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks into pregnancy. States have passed laws that aim to protect the targeting of children with Down syndrome in the womb or other special needs. States have passed laws protecting children from being aborted simply because of their race or gender. The eugenic act of ending children’s lives based on their identity is another reason why many Americans refuse to accept Roe as settled law.

By contrast, no major party has a platform advocating for segregation. No states are calling for segregation to be legalized. There is no annual march in support of segregation. The notion of “separate but equal” is viewed by Americans as being unconstitutional. Therefore, Brown deserves to be deemed super-precedent.

While our country has overcome the evil of segregation, the stain of abortion is still with us. Many Americans long for a day when abortion’s unconstitutionality is settled law, and the most vulnerable among us are protected under the law. Until that day, we will continue to fight for the unborn to have the right to life. As long as Americans refuse to accept it, Roe will remain unsettled law that does not deserve to be considered super-precedent. Judge Amy Coney Barrett is correct when she says Roe v. Wade is not super-precedent.

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