FRC Blog

Social Conservative Review - April 3, 2019

by Daniel Hart

April 3, 2019

Dear Friends,

G.K. Chesterton once said, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”

This concise and amusing quote is a wonderful reminder of the state we find ourselves in when we wake up every morning: another chance at a do-over—an opportunity to do more good than we were able to do the day before. It’s also a great theme to begin this new season of spring, a time when God is renewing his Creation with fresh growth.

It’s a time when God seems to be asking us: Will you try to make the same effort I am making when I give you a new day and a new season? Even though My Way is difficult, will you show Me your love by trying Christianity anew?

For believers, God’s invitation to Himself never grows old, and it’s always beautifully refreshing, just like the budding of a spring flower. We know that every time we go to Him through prayer and good deeds, the thirst in our souls is quenched once again, just as it always is when we are feeling spiritually parched.

As Chesterton observed, though, this is difficult to put into practice. Our fallen human natures gnash their teeth against the pleading of our consciences. The darkness we see in our culture and the world today paints a stark portrait of a collective disregard and dismissal of the challenge of Christianity. The easiness of short-term pleasures and self-centered tendencies rule the day, leaving in its wake a noxious mix of rising anxiety, depression, and suicide.

In this new season, let us once again take up the difficult task of trying our Faith. For we know that by entering through the narrow gate instead of the wide one (Matthew 7:13), we will find true peace, consolation, and forgiveness from the one true Source of all Goodness, and the courage to spread this Truth to a world in desperate need of it.

Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.

Sincerely,

Dan Hart
Managing Editor for Publications
Family Research Council

 

FRC Media

Issue Analysis: Evidence Shows Sexual Orientation Can Change: Debunking the Myth of “Immutability” – Peter Sprigg

Speaker Series: The Natural Law: What it is and Why it Still Matters to Policymaking – Professor R.J. Snell

Fight Over Infanticide Is Just Beginning – Tony Perkins

The Church in a Culture of Conflict – Tony Perkins

Shall we finally end birth day abortions? – Patrina Mosley

Gender X’ wages war on reality – Pete Sprigg

Let’s Celebrate the ‘Love Chromosome’ On World Down Syndrome Day – Patrina Mosley

Can a New Establishment Clause Jurisprudence Succeed in Protecting Religious Minorities Where Lemon Has Failed? – Alexandra McPhee

Crosses in Need of a Lucky Clover (or a Good Supreme Court Decision) – Alexandra McPhee

Biden, Pence and the Left’s ‘Decency’ Standard – David Closson

Consumers Beware: PayPal has weaponized financial system with its ties to SPLC – Tony Perkins

Should the Peace Cross even be before the Supreme Court? – Alexandra McPhee

Are walls ‘an immorality?’ Not according to the Bible – Chris Gacek

Book Review: Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination – David Closson

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act: Just the Facts – Patrina Mosley and Connor Semelsberger

Half of Americans Don’t Fully Know What Their First Amendment Freedoms Are – Alexandra McPhee

FDA Orders Abortions by Mail to Cease – Patrina Mosley

Basic Human Decency Starts with Protecting Babies on Their Birthday – Caleb Seals

Women Naturally Embrace Motherhood, And That’s Just Fine – Alyson Gritter

What the Rise of the “Anti-Hero” in Entertainment Says About Our Culture – Kim Lilienthal

Women: Achieving Balance from the One Who Gives Us Worth – Patrina Mosley

The Art of Disagreement – Travis Weber

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

The Equality Act Accelerates Anti-Christian Bias – Andrew T. Walker, The Gospel Coalition

Judeo-Christian Group Sues Michigan for ‘Orwellian’ Witch Hunt Based on SPLC Labels – Tyler O’Neil, PJ Media

Confessions of a Hater – Rob Schwarzwalder, The Stream

Feds side with church in lawsuit against St. Ignace – Melissa Nann Burke, USA Today

Black Christian Disinvited from Cornell Debate Because She Believes in Traditional Marriage – Tyler O’Neil, PJ Media

Yale Law School Yanks Stipends From Students Who Work For Christian Firms – Aaron Haviland, The Federalist

International Religious Freedom

11 Christians Killed Every Day for Their Decision To Follow Jesus – Lindy Lowry, Open Doors USA

India: Evangelical network reports increase of Christian persecution in 2019 – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post

Christchurch shootings: 49 dead in New Zealand mosque attacks – BBC

Christians in Kazakhstan Fined for Praying Without Permission – Steve Warren, CBN News

Taiwan to donate US$1 million to U.S. Religious Freedom Fund – Focus Taiwan

This Chinese Christian Was Charged With Trying to Subvert the State – Ian Johnson, The New York Times

Military Religious Freedom

Religious Liberty Law Firm to New Hampshire VA Hospital: You’re Right, the Bible Donated by WWII Vet/POW Can Stay – First Liberty Institute

 

Life

Abortion

Why your church needs to welcome post-abortive women – Joane Wrenn with Mamie Edmonston, Care Net

Alabama judge allows teen to sue on behalf of aborted fetus – Caleb Parke, Fox News

The Reason Democrats Voted Against Care For Babies Who Survive Abortion Is Worse Than You Think – Georgi Boorman, The Federalist

New Mexico Defeats Radical Bill to Legalize Abortions Up to Birth – Micaiah Bilger, LifeNews

CA Democrat Pushes Plan that Could Put Planned Parenthood’s Number on Every Student ID – Christian Ellis, CBN News

How The Obama Presidency Normalized Abortion Extremism – David Harsanyi, The Federalist

NBC’s This is Us Airs Incredible Pro-Life Episode – Heather Creekmore, Care Net

Adoption

Adoption perspectives: A birth mom, adoptive mom, and daughter share their story – Lindsay Nicolet and Brittany Salmon, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Bioethics

Alzheimer’s, human dignity, and church that’s truly pro-life – Todd E. Brady, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Experts gather in Rome to fight ‘barbaric’ use of aborted babies in vaccines – Diane Montagna, LifeSiteNews

How Assisted Suicide Creates A Cascade Of Death After It Becomes Legal – Georgi Boorman, The Federalist

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy: ‘I Look Forward to Signing’ Assisted Suicide Bill – Susan Berry, Breitbart

 

Family

Marriage

How to Overcome In-Law Problems – Deb DeArmond, Focus on the Family

When Religious Couples Pray – Mark H. Butler and Hannah R. Herring, Family Studies

Parenting

Maintaining Your Marriage During the Parenting Years – Arlene Pellicane, Focus on the Family

We Were Parents – Nathanael Blake, Public Discourse

Economics/Education

Podcast: Why nonworking men are unhappiest in America – Carol Graham and Fred Dews, Brookings Institution

Girls Have Always Been Better at School. Now It Matters More. – Justin Fox, Bloomberg

New Moms Don’t Need Day Care, They Need Flexible Employers – Margot Cleveland, The Federalist

Toddlers and Seniors Together: The Benefits of Intergenerational Care – Ashley McGuire, Family Studies

Ivy-League Schools Wither – Victor Davis Hanson, National Review

There’s Rampant Academic Fraud – Walter E. Williams, The Daily Signal

Trump set to sign executive order on campus free speech – Michael Stratford, Politico

Faith/Character/Culture

What Makes for a Spiritually Vibrant Household? – Barna

Dear David Frum: U.S. Population Growth Is Not A Problem, It’s A Solution – Lyman Stone, The Federalist

YouTube Revolution – John Waters, First Things

The Mental Health Crisis Among America’s Youth is Real—and Staggering – Jean Twenge, Family Studies

Female Athletes Fear Criticizing Trans Women in Sports Because ‘It’s Not PC,’ Olympian Says – Tyler O’Neil, PJ Media

Christians Need to Recover Fasting – Dcn. David Stavarz, Word on Fire

The Meaning of Meaninglessness – Scott Beauchamp, Public Discourse

An MIT Professor Meets the Author of All Knowledge – Rosalind Picard, Christianity Today

Human Sexuality

I Was America’s First ‘Nonbinary’ Person. It Was All a Sham. – Jamie Shupe, The Daily Signal

Trans Men Erase Women – Charlotte Allen, First Things

Equality Act’ would turn back the clock for women – Kristen Waggoner, The Hill

Trans Through A Teacher’s Eyes – Rod Dreyer, The American Conservative

Teachers’ Union President, Transgender Advocate Push LGBTQ Agenda on Kindergartners – Susan Berry, Breitbart

Hispanic Parents Face Condescension, Spite As They Fight California’s New Sex Ed Curriculum – Kira Davis, Townhall

Human Trafficking

How Sex Traffickers Use Social Media To Contact, Recruit, And Sell Children For Sex – Fight the New Drug

Pornography

Humanly Speaking: Aristotle, the First Amendment, and the Jurisprudence of Pornography – Adam M. Carrington, Public Discourse

It’s What He Does Online That Matters Most: Gaming, Porn, and Relationship Quality – Jeffrey Dew, Family Studies

What Can Drug-Addicted Doctors Teach Porn-Addicted Pastors? – John Doyel, Christianity Today

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All Policy is Family Policy

by Alyson Gritter

April 2, 2019

Recently, FRC hosted Professor R.J. Snell for a Speaker Series event to discuss the relationship between natural law and public policy. He explored the crucial question of what natural law is and what its role should be in making policy.

Professor Snell defined natural law as a “universal objective moral normativity.” Translation? Basic human rights are not defined by what is relative based on the cultural trends, or “whims” of today. Instead, much like other great thinkers including Plato, Edmund Burke, John Locke, and Martin Luther King Jr., Snell agrees that natural law is based on an absolute Truth. He stated that “all human reason participates in the natural law of God.”

But what role should natural law play in the making of policy?

Policy should not be about winning for winning’s sake, or power grabbing. It should be about what we value as a society. According to Professor Snell, policy secures the blessings of natural law within our society by ultimately serving the person. Policy teaches society by showing what we value—what we actually seek and why. It is “non-theoretical teaching.”

Snell explained this importance by addressing the audience: “You, policy types, teach just as much as I as a professor do, albeit differently. Now I, as father and husband and citizen, need you to teach well because I need our policy to support my family [and] to support my friend’s family. “

As he observed, many students today have been taught that natural law doesn’t exist and instead are taught that public policy is the highest law: “I as a professor and teacher need you to teach well because by the time I get to students [at] age 18 or 19, they have 18 or 19 years of relentless policy education.” If bad policy is enacted based on relative cultural circumstances, then students learn merely conditional views of what is right and what is wrong.

He emphasized, “You [policymakers] are teachers.”

For example, students in America today are growing up in a society where pro-abortion policies have been enacted and are therefore deemed acceptable by many. This causes these policies to act as a kind of teacher about how society views humanity. So, by the time students get to college, many of them have come to understand the dignity of the unborn child as a flexible concept depending on the circumstances of that child’s conception. They are valued either as “wanted” humans or they are otherwise aborted. Natural law standards instead view both born and unborn life as equally valuable, regardless of the situation surrounding conception.

Professor Snell emphasized that policies based on natural law need to be encouraged in order to have a more stable society. Otherwise, anything can be deemed relative, including life itself. Many students today lack a basic understanding of natural law because they lack a basic understanding of a natural family. In many ways, a person’s family is the natural image of the natural law. Everyone has a family in some form. When the family structure that a child is brought up in does not reflect the natural structure we were created for, it can have a lifelong impact on that child’s life. It distorts a healthy view of marriage, human sexuality, and society.

That’s why the family structure is so incredibly important to teaching children values. It is, according to Snell, “the main bearer of tradition [sacred order].” In other words, it is the way that natural law is most made known and the means to which a person’s morals and norms are formed.

However, many of today’s policies are aimed at dissolving family values that reflect natural law. This leads us, as citizens, to an essential question: What is our public policy teaching our children? Is it aligned with natural law, or is it relative to the “whims” of today’s society? As Snell stated, “All policy is family policy.” Therefore, we must advocate for policies that support natural family values and continue teaching those principles in our homes.

Be sure to view the entirety of Professor Snell’s important lecture.

Alyson Gritter is an intern at Family Research Council.

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How to Protect Religious Minorities in the Public Square (Part 5 of 5)

by Family Research Council

March 28, 2019

Read Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4

Religious minorities, like all Americans, want the law to protect their right to the free exercise of religious beliefs in the public square. But the Lemon test and its related cases and doctrines have led to the scrubbing of religious practice from the public square and do not adequately protect them.

Instead, an Establishment Clause doctrine that, in Thomas Jefferson’s words, reflects the clause’s meaning at the “time when the Constitution was adopted” and “recollect[s] the spirit manifested in the debates” benefits everyone. This is the originalist approach. It ensures judicial objectivity and empowers the political branches to accommodate religious minorities.

Critics of the originalist approach argue that the Lemon test and related cases should stay in place. Yet they shouldn’t, for they are not faithful to the Constitution and fail to protect religious liberty, including for religious minorities. Moreover, the cases we have discussed and the laws and executive action we have highlighted show that the courts should not be the first stop in protecting religious freedom. In fact, they should be the last.

A historical approach for the courts and a reliance on the flexibility and responsiveness of the political branches is the best formula for a robust protection of religion—all religions—in the public square.

This blog series is based on an article in the Federalist Society Review by Alexandra M. McPhee, “Can a New Establishment Clause Jurisprudence Succeed in Protecting Religious Minorities Where Lemon Has Failed?”

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The Political Branches Are Better Equipped to Protect Minority Religions (Part 4 of 5)

by Family Research Council

March 27, 2019

Read Parts 1, 2, and 3

The political branches have demonstrated that they are better equipped to protect religious minority rights and respond to America’s increasingly pluralistic society. In light of the court decisions discussed earlier, consider the following:

  • The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993, created “very broad protection for religious liberty.” It received unanimous support in the U.S. House of Representatives and near-unanimous support in the U.S. Senate. It applies to all sincerely held religious beliefs. It came after the Supreme Court ruled against a Native American’s right to exercise his religious beliefs.
  • The Army guaranteed strong protection for religious practices, specifically the practices of observant Sikhs, through Army Directive 2017-03. It directs “Army uniform and grooming policy to provide wear and appearance standards for the most commonly requested religious accommodations.”
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs, recognizing the religious diversity of its servicemembers, has funeral guidelines to honor each fallen soldier’s religious convictions.
  • Based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Supreme Court upheld a Muslim teenage girl’s right to wear a hijab—a headscarf worn for religious reasons—without discrimination in the hiring process.
  • The Department of Defense issued Instruction 1300.17(4)(a), which states that “[t]he DOD places a high value on the rights of members of the Military Services to observe the tenets of their respective religions.” The Instruction directs that “[r]equests for religious accommodation will be resolved in a timely manner and will be approved,” so long as they do not “adversely affect mission accomplishment.”
  • Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Acts for fiscal years 2013 and 2014, which provides for the “[e]nhancement” and “protection of rights of conscience.”
  • The Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 permits the placement of commemorative monuments in memory of “service in the Armed Forces” in Arlington National Cemetery, and it does not prohibit the inclusion of religious symbols on those monuments.
  • In 2011, the executive branch accommodated Amish religious beliefs regarding the issuance of Social Security numbers.
  • Federal law allows religious objectors to Social Security taxes—notably including the Amish, one of whom lost a Free Exercise Clause challenge to such taxes in 1982—to apply for exemptions for themselves and their employees.

Some argue that an originalist approach would allow a government to “endorse its preferred religious teachings and be candid about what it was doing.” Others argue that an originalist approach would not “address the danger that the majority will, through government endorsements of its own faith, marginalize minority groups.”

The facts do not bear this out. Moreover, as Establishment Clause expert Professor Michael McConnell states, “the Court’s intervention over the last forty years has made things worse, not better.” Of course, courts have an important role in protecting religious minorities. But as Professor Hillel Y. Levin argues, the need for judicial intervention is the exception and not the rule.

No government institution—including the judiciary—can perfectly protect against the human rivalry and selfishness that critics fear would take hold under an originalist approach. But as a matter of structure, the political branches have greater capacity to protect the rights of religious minorities and to respond to bad policy.

This blog series is based on an article in the Federalist Society Review by Alexandra M. McPhee, “Can a New Establishment Clause Jurisprudence Succeed in Protecting Religious Minorities Where Lemon Has Failed?”

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An Originalist Approach Protects Religion in the Public Square (Part 3 of 5)

by Family Research Council

March 26, 2019

Read Parts 1 and 2

The answer to confusion over the Establishment Clause is an originalist understanding of the Constitution. This approach includes analyzing historical practices at the time of the founding and the ratification of the First Amendment. The Court has increasingly incorporated this reasoning in its decisions.

The benefit of an originalist understanding is, as one scholar notes, that “the judge tries to discover not what the text ought to mean but what it did mean to those who wrote the words and, more importantly, to those who voted for those words to become law.”

When we apply this reasoning, we find that government actions involving religious displays or practices are often constitutional. As one court of appeals judge observed, “There is, put simply, lots of history underlying the practice of placing and maintaining crosses on public land . . .” Though the judge spoke of crosses, a court applying a historical interpretation of the Establishment Clause would likely uphold displays inspired by minority religions, too.

Some argue that this would introduce a “narrower standard.” This is a problem because focusing “only on coercion would open the door to sectarian endorsements that will aggravate religious tensions and needlessly divide Americans.”

But an originalist approach sets clearer boundaries for which religious displays or practices are acceptable. This is fairer and more predictable than current law. It is difficult to say exactly how many more religious displays would be considered acceptable under an originalist interpretation, if applied consistently. But recent cases indicate that principled boundaries would be no less helpful to religious minorities than to members of majority faiths.

In Town of Greece v. Galloway (2014), in which the Court adopted an original understanding of the Establishment Clause with respect to legislative prayer, the Court said it was “virtually inconceivable that the First Congress, having appointed chaplains whose responsibilities prominently included the delivery of prayers at the beginning of each daily session, thought that this practice was inconsistent with the Establishment Clause.” As American society has grown more religiously diverse, figures including the Dalai Lama, Rabbi Joshua Gruenberg, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, and Imam Nayyar Imam have opened legislative sessions with statements expressly declaring their deeply held religious beliefs. As the Court said, Congress “acknowledges our growing diversity not by proscribing sectarian content but by welcoming ministers of many creeds.”

Under Lemon and succeeding tests, courts often proscribe government support of an action or display simply because it is sectarian. But the purpose of the First Amendment was never to eviscerate religion from the public square. An originalist interpretation is the right approach to Establishment Clause challenges.

Applying an originalist approach likely means that the courts will have less say over whether a religious display can appear on public property. But this is an appropriate allocation of power, and our next post explains why.

This blog series is based on an article in the Federalist Society Review by Alexandra M. McPhee, “Can a New Establishment Clause Jurisprudence Succeed in Protecting Religious Minorities Where Lemon Has Failed?”

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The Separation Between Church and State Does Not Protect Minority Religions (Part 2 of 5)

by Family Research Council

March 25, 2019

Read Part 1

Many years before courts began interpreting the Establishment Clause, Alexander Hamilton expressed his thoughts on the interpretation of the Constitution in a letter to George Washington:

[W]hatever may have been the intention of the framers of a constitution or of a law, that intention is to be sought for in the instrument itself, according to the usual and established rules of construction.

Unfortunately, when it comes to interpreting the Establishment Clause today, Hamilton’s centuries-old guidance is too often left by the wayside. Beginning in the mid-20th century, the Supreme Court turned to sources besides the framers’ intent in rendering its decisions about the Establishment Clause. This is the era that generated the doctrine of the so-called “separation between church and state.”

This doctrine underlies the decision of Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971). In that case, the Court said that a government action is unconstitutional if (1) there is no secular purpose for the action (2) it has the primary effect of advancing or inhibiting religion, or (3) it fosters an excessive government entanglement with religion.

Unfortunately, neither this test nor later cases modifying it effectively protects religious minorities. The reason is that these tests are malleable; courts are forced to make decisions without clear guidance from the law, which has so far failed to clearly articulate whether the prongs are met. There is no better example of this than cases involving the display of religious minority symbols or practices on public property. Consider the following cases that involve the Lemon test or some variation of it:

  • Allegheny County, Pa.: The Supreme Court fails to come to a consensus about whether a menorah situated next to a Christmas tree was too religious to appear on public property.
  • Westchester County, N.Y.: A trial court reasons that a menorah situated next to an unlit Christmas Tree is, indeed, too religious to appear on public property.
  • Queens, N.Y.: The state department of education reasons that for the purposes of classroom holiday displays, a nativity is a “religious symbol” and cannot appear in a classroom display, but a menorah and crescent moon and star can because they are “secular symbols.”
  • Southampton, N.Y.: A court reasons that a traditional Jewish religious practice involving affixing wires on telephone poles (an eruv) is more secular and is less likely to advance religion or foster church-state entanglement than (1) permitting a private Christian organization for children to have meetings at a public school after hours or (2) displaying a Christmas nativity scene display on public property because eruvs do not “contain any overtly religious features.”

Nativities are too religious to appear on public property. Menorahs are sometimes too religious. Crescent moons and stars are secular. Traditional Jewish religious practices are okay because they don’t look religious. Interpreting and applying the Establishment Clause should not be this disjointed. The Lemon standard perpetrates confusion and inconsistency. There is, however, a better way, which we cover in the next post.

This blog series is based on an article in the Federalist Society Review by Alexandra M. McPhee, “Can a New Establishment Clause Jurisprudence Succeed in Protecting Religious Minorities Where Lemon Has Failed?”

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UK Asylum Officers Would Benefit from Basic Bible Study

by Travis Weber

March 25, 2019

Disturbing news from Britain, where the Home Office tried to claim that Christianity is not a peaceful religion in an attempt to reject a recent Iranian asylum seeker.

From The Telegraph:

The Iranian national, who has not been identified, claimed asylum in 2016 but his application was rejected after government officials said his conversion from Islam was “inconsistent” with his claim that Christianity is a peaceful religion.

In order to reiterate the point, the Home Office wrote a lengthy and “unbelievably offensive” refusal letter referencing six Bible passages and claiming that the book of Revelation is filled with “images of revenge, destruction, death and violence”.

The Home Office rejection, below the quoted verses concludes: “These examples are inconsistent with your claim that you converted to Christianity after discovering it is a ‘peaceful’ religion, as opposed to Islam which contains violence, rage and revenge.”

Absurd, and sad. Hopefully this is just an aberrant staffer and not official policy. If it turns out that multiple officials signed off on such thinking, it will be cause for even more alarm. Thankfully, the Home Office has admitted this action is “inconsistent” with its policy. Light words. Such cherry-picking of verses is likely beyond even embarrassing exegetical malpractice, and perhaps reveals malicious intent. Regardless, it shows the need for immigration officials to be trained in basic theology and Bible knowledge!

The man’s lawyer was not happy:

Nathan Stevens, the immigration caseworker at Fadiga & Co Solicitors dealing with the Iranian man’s case, posted excerpts of the Home Office letter on Twitter earlier this week saying he was “genuinely shocked” to read such an “unbelievably offensive diatribe”. It has since been shared hundreds of times.

Mr Stevens, from London, added: “Whatever your views on faith, how can a government official arbitrarily pick bits out of a holy book and then use them to trash someone’s heartfelt reason for coming to a personal decision to follow another faith.”

He said that his client will be appealing the decision and he will be complaining to the Home Office.

Hopefully, the Home Office will right this ship. If not, it will only feed the idea, not without merit, that Western Europe is no longer able to actually defend the human rights and freedom it has long claimed to protect.

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The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act: Just the Facts

by Patrina Mosley , Connor Semelsberger

March 22, 2019

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act is a bill sponsored by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) that requires lifesaving medical care be given to babies born alive after failed abortion attempts. This legislation has garnered national attention in the wake of a radical abortion agenda that is sweeping across states like New York, Virginia, Vermont, and Illinois. After a recent vote on the born-alive bill in the U.S. Senate that failed to pass, many Senators and Representatives are continuing to make the debate about abortion policy in general instead of focusing on the specific language of the bill, which is to protect innocent lives moments after birth. There has been much debate and false information on what this bill will do and the general nature of infants born alive after an abortion attempt. Here are the facts:

Aren’t late-term abortions only performed when the baby has a fetal abnormality?

  • No. Very few late-term abortions are performed on babies who have fatal birth defects. A study conducted in 2013 by the Guttmacher Institute suggests that most women seeking later term abortions are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomalies or life endangerment. The women in this study offered the same reasons for obtaining an abortion as those who seek abortion earlier in pregnancy.

Do babies actually survive failed abortions?

  • Yes. In fact, the CDC reports that from 2003-2014 at least 143 infants died after being born alive during an abortion procedure, and the report admits that this is almost certainly an underestimate. There are no federal abortion reporting requirements, which leaves a massive gap in state reporting.
  • Only six states require reporting on children who were born alive during abortion procedures, and as of 2017, only Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, and Oklahoma have reported this information. In 2013 Florida passed a born-alive protection act that stipulated reporting requirements. In 2017 alone, Florida reported that 11 babies were born alive during abortion procedures.

Here are two personal accounts of abortion survivors:

  • Gianna Jessen had been in the womb for seven months before her mother went to a Planned Parenthood to have a late-term saline abortion. (Saline abortions rarely if ever happen anymore in the United States for abortions up to 24 weeks gestation. This technique has been replaced with an equally gruesome one that dismembers a child limb from limb, known as a Dilation & Excavation, or “D&E.”) Saline abortions use a saline solution to poison the baby, which burns him or her inside and out, even burning off the outer layer of their skin. The child suffers in these conditions for over an hour until their demise, and the mother must deliver her dead child the next day. But Gianna survived. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy due to oxygen deprivation in the abortion attempt, but today she only walks with a small limp!
  • Melissa Ohden’s biological mother had a saline abortion. But Melissa survived. After being born alive, it was found that she was seven months old. Today Melissa is a pro-life advocate with a master’s degree in social work and is the founder of the Abortion Survivors Network (ASN).

Aren’t there already laws in place against infanticide?

  • Currently, there is no federal criminal statute against taking the lives of born-alive infants; criminal charges are applied at the state level. In 2002, Congress did pass the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, but this law was only a definitional change stating that all infants who survive an abortion are full persons under the law. There has not been a single prosecution brought against an abortion doctor since this law was passed even though the CDC admits that this happened at least 143 times.
  • Twenty-nine states currently have some form of born-alive protections. However, New York state recently repealed their born-alive protections with the passage of the Reproductive Health Act, making it one of 21 states with no born-alive protections. That is why a federal law adding enforcement tools to prosecute doctors who deny life-saving medical care to infants who survive abortion is necessary.

Shouldn’t the decision to keep a child be between a woman and her doctor?

  • This bill does not prescribe specific medical procedures that doctors must perform. In fact, the language specifically reads: “Any health care practitioner present at the time the child is born alive shall exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age.”
  • The bill also requires that the child be rushed to the nearest hospital. Many contend that moving a child to a hospital might not be the best medical practice, but it is important that the born-alive infant be moved to a hospital because not all abortion clinics have the necessary equipment or trained staff to provide necessary care. Also, it would not be in the child’s best interest to have the abortion doctor, who moments before was trying to kill the child, provide life-saving care.

Given the atrocities against born-alive infants committed by Dr. Kermit Gosnell that were revealed in his 2013 trial, it is essential that we enforce and strengthen the principle that born-alive infants are American citizens entitled to the full protection of our laws. We must never forget what happened in one of America’s most horrific homicide cases, and we must never allow it to happen again:

  • One employee testified in the trial that she witnessed Gosnell snip the necks of more than 30 babies.”
  • A 28-week-old baby boy was found frozen in a gallon water bottle.”
  • One of the babies was reportedly moving and breathing for 20 minutes before an employee cut the spinal cord.”
  • Gosnell severed the spine of one breathing, moving, born-alive baby and put the body in a plastic shoebox for disposal.”
  • When authorities searched Gosnell’s office, they found bags and bottles holding aborted fetuses scattered throughout the building.”
  • Many other horrific details were brought as evidence before a grand jury. You can find a comprehensive list in this Washington Examiner article of all the horrible offensives committed by Gosnell on helpless infants.

Having protections for abortion surviving infants is the issue at hand—not abortion rights or women’s rights. This is about offering medical care to a child who has now become the patient. We must decide as a country where we stand on this issue: to either pursue humane protections for those must vulnerable in our society or continue to subject innocent human life to the whims of abortionists like Kermit Gosnell.

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Half of Americans Don’t Fully Know What Their First Amendment Freedoms Are

by Family Research Council

March 22, 2019

A shoe company recently commissioned a survey about the First Amendment in which 2,000 adults participated. The survey focused on respondents’ attitudes and knowledge about our first freedoms. According to the survey, “[n]early 6 in 10 Americans believe the First Amendment is under threat.” The study said people cited the “bias in the media and the rise of fake news.” More interestingly, it tested their knowledge. Many thought that the First Amendment protected life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness:

  • Life: “3 percent named ‘life’ as one of the protected freedoms.”
  • Liberty: “[H]alf thought that ‘liberty’ is one of the five freedoms protected by the First Amendment.”
  • Pursuit of happiness: “(49 percent) believed ‘the pursuit of happiness’ was included.”

These are actually in the Declaration of Independence. While it is a powerful statement by the Founders about our unalienable rights (rights that no government can give or take away), the Declaration of Independence lacks the immediate legal force the Constitution possesses. In other words, you can’t sue someone for violating the Declaration of Independence.

The Bill of Rights, on the other hand, has legal force. So, if the government has violated the First Amendment in some way, there is legal recourse. Here is what the First Amendment protects:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Presented another way, the First Amendment protects against:

  • the establishment of religion, or
  • a prohibition on the free exercise of religion, or
  • an abridgment of
    • the freedom of speech or the press, or
    • the right of the people to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

If you’re wondering why a shoe company commissioned such a survey, we can’t really answer that without advertising for their new marketing campaign. For now, we can be thankful that it has exposed this deficit in constitutional knowledge and for the opportunity to once again highlight just how important the First Amendment is!

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The Peace Cross, the Establishment Clause, and Why the Separation of Church and State Fails to Adequately Protect Minority Religions (Part 1 of 5)

by Family Research Council

March 21, 2019

In 1925, a committee including Gold Star mothers and local veterans dedicated a memorial in Bladensburg, Maryland in honor of 49 servicemembers from Prince George’s County who gave their lives in service to World War I. They chose a Latin Cross to be the symbol of their loved ones’ sacrifice, and today, residents call it the Peace Cross.

Almost to the very day of the centennial of the first World War, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review whether the Peace Cross is a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause—more popularly though less accurately referred to as the separation of church and state—because it is in the shape of a cross and maintained on public property. The case of American Legion v. American Humanist Association is an important one. First Liberty Institute is involved in defending the memorial in court, and FRC filed an amicus brief in the case. Oral argument was held just about one month ago, on February 27, 2019. The case is currently under consideration, and the Supreme Court will issue its decision on or before June 2019.

As part of this case, several groups representing religious minorities argue that the current court precedents on this issue—which have put the Peace Cross in jeopardy—should stay in place, even if that means that the Peace Cross or memorials like it have to go. They say that this state of the law shields minority religions like theirs from political and cultural forces that may use their power to push minority religions out of the public square.

Family Research Council argues that this is not the case. First, the vague, subjective approach of current Establishment Clause precedents actually harms minority religions. Applying an original meaning of the Constitution instead would provide clarity for all—including religious minorities. Second, avenues outside of the courts, like the executive and the legislature at the federal, state, and local level, are better equipped to respond to the needs of minority religions.

In the coming days, we will be rolling out a special blog series highlighting these key points from the article and discussing how they help us understand true religious liberty in this age of deep confusion on the issue. Stay tuned!

This blog series is based on an article in Federalist Society Review by Alexandra M. McPhee, “Can a New Establishment Clause Jurisprudence Succeed in Protecting Religious Minorities Where Lemon Has Failed?”

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