FRC Blog

FRC Advancing, Not “Surrendering,” on Transgender Issue

by Peter Sprigg

July 2, 2015

It is odd that Slate, in a piece by Jacob Brogan, argues that Family Research Council’s detailed new paper by Dale O’Leary and Peter Sprigg, “Understanding and Responding to the Transgender Movement,” represents “a flag of surrender.” Since this is the first comprehensive research paper specifically on the transgender movement that FRC has published in its 32-year existence, it is not a “surrender,” but the exact opposite — a clear declaration of our intention to engage actively in the debate over this issue and offer an alternative path to the leftist social agenda that only harms those struggling with gender dysphoria.  Although the paper has been in the works for months, the fact that it was finally completed and published in the same month as Bruce Jenner’s much-publicized “coming out” as “Caitlyn” makes it all the more timely.

It should not be any surprise that the paper addresses “leftist concepts and categories.” After all, the first purpose of the paper, as expressed in the title itself, is to “understand” the transgender movement — which is entirely reliant on “leftist concepts and categories,” and not on scientific research. For example, the paper certainly discusses “the contrast between sex and gender” in leftist thought, but we do not “internalize” it — on the contrary, we explicitly reject the “distorted psychological self-concept that one’s ‘gender identity’ is different from one’s biological sex.”

The fact that we quote sources on the left, such as the homosexual former Congressman Barney Frank and the lesbian feminist Janice Raymond, illustrates that concern about some aspects of the trans-agenda does not only arise from “traditional values” — which would make it easier for Brogan to dismiss such concerns. Brogan is correct to say that in our paper, “leftist identity politics” have been “turned back against themselves” — because we have exposed that such concepts are incoherent, illogical, indefensible, and/or internally inconsistent.

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So Help them God!

by Robert Morrison

July 2, 2015

My wife and I attended “I” (for Induction) Day ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy last night. We witnessed 1,139 of our best and brightest young people take the oath to defend the Constitution of the United States “against all enemies foreign and domestic.” We have seen plenty of evidence in recent days of just who those domestic enemies of the Constitution might be.

I was heartened to see those vital young people repeat the time-honored words: So help me God.

This was, of course, followed by the Academy’s song, Navy Blue & Gold and its most important military mission: BEAT ARMY!

For my wife, a retired commanding officer in the Navy, it is always a meaningful experience. She looks over the fresh-faced youth who are spending their first day in the Navy. “How young they look,” she remarks.

I survey the families of the incoming Midshipmen and reply: “How young their parents look!”

God bless and keep them all. And I thank them for their service.

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Wise Thoughts on Christians Trying to Conform Jesus to the Culture

by Rob Schwarzwalder

July 2, 2015

From Tim Challies:

Many (Christians) … are redefining the terms of their friendship by redefining their friend. They are creating a new version of their friend Jesus, rewriting him in their own image, or in the image of the culture around them, making him into a figure who has been misunderstood and who is far more tolerant, far more accepting, far more palatable. This inoffensive Jesus loves without judgment, he gives without expectation, he proudly waves a rainbow flag.

But, of course, Jesus is unchanged and unchanging. He will not bow to the changing culture, he will not cede to the rising tide. Jesus will only ever be who he is and who he has always been. And each of us has a choice to make.

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Social Conservative Review: An Insider’s Guide to Pro-Family News July 2, 2015

by Rob Schwarzwalder

July 2, 2015

Click here to subscribe to the Social Conservative Review


The World Turned Upside-Down” reportedly was the tune the British played when Cornwallis surrendered to Washington at Yorktown. Perhaps close listeners could have heard the strains of the tune emanating from the Supreme Court last week.

Those who understand that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for purposes of natural procreation, child-rearing, and male-female complementarity were heartbroken by the specious constitutional and moral reasoning captured in the majority’s opinion making same-sex unions legal nationwide.

The Court’s rulings in Obergefell and the Affordable Care Act case jettisoned the text of the Constitution and institutionalized subjectivism as the only consistent interpretive grid the Supreme Court now applies to the nation’s charter text.

Many of the entries in this week’s Social Conservative Review address these two landmark decisions. Analysis is replete in conservative journals, magazines, and blog sites. Perhaps Justice Antonin Scalia offered the most penetrating summary of the implications of the rulings. Writing of Obergefell, Mr. Justice Scalia said:

Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court … This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.

Speaking of 1776, FRC hopes you and your family have a glorious Fourth celebrating the many benefits of life in our beloved country. Although some of the foundational freedoms we have long enjoyed are under growing threat, we can look back on our long history with gratitude and our future with the confident knowledge that Jesus Christ remains Lord.

This truth transcends national boundaries, human endeavors, all time and all places. No court, human institution, or leader of any political party can ever change it.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice-President
Family Research Council

P.S. FRC President Tony Perkins and Senior Fellows Ken Blackwell and Peter Sprigg have been making the rounds of places like CBS, ABC, and CNN to discuss last week’s rulings. Go to FRC’s Newsroom to get their take on these historic events.

P.S.S. The nightmarish shootings South Carolina and the burning of several Black churches in the South have prompted renewed consideration of race among Christians nationwide. In “Taking the Charleston Shooting Personally,” writer Hope E. Ferguson (the great-granddaughter and granddaughter of AME ministers) calls on her “brothers and sisters in Christ, be they white, black, brown, or any other color, would put down our differences at the foot of the cross.” Amen.


Social Conservative Review

Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life

Abortion

Assisted Suicide

Bioethics

Obamacare

Marriage & Family

Economy and the family

Fatherhood

Homosexuality and Gender Issues

Marriage

Pornography

Religious Liberty: Domestic

Religious Liberty: International

Education

Other Stories of Note

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Federal Judge and the ACLU Agree that RFRA Protects Religious Exercise in the Military

by Travis Weber

July 1, 2015

In another affirmation that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) protects the constitutional right of free exercise for military service members, a federal judge recently ruled that the statute protected the rights of a Sikh to receive a grooming accommodation while enrolled as an Army ROTC cadet at Hofstra University.

After the Army denied the student’s accommodation request which was made when he sought to enter ROTC, the ACLU filed suit on behalf of the student, alleging that the denial violated RFRA (and citing the standard under the recent DOD Instruction 1300.17). In its complaint, the ACLU asserted the Army policy “substantially burdens his religious exercise because it mandates conduct that is prohibited by his religious beliefs and substantially pressures him to modify his behavior in violation of his faith.”

In ruling on these claims, the federal court in the District of Columbia noted that while there is judicial deference to military decision making, RFRA also clearly applies to the military; indeed, “[t]he Department of Defense expressly incorporated RFRA into its own regulations effective January 22, 2010.”

Under RFRA, if an individual can show that government action has substantially burdened their religious exercise, then the government has to show it has a compelling reason for burdening the belief, and has done so in the least restrictive way possible.

In this case, there was no dispute that the plaintiff’s religious beliefs were sincere, and the court found that they were substantially burdened:

Therefore, there is no dispute that the Army’s refusal to grant plaintiff the accommodation that would enable him to enroll in ROTC while maintaining his religious practice was a government action that required plaintiff ‘to choose between following the tenets of [his] religion and receiving a governmental benefit.’” Such a denial “constitutes a ‘substantial burden’ under RFRA.”

The court acknowledged that the military is a distinct area of society with very unique concerns regarding order and discipline. However, Congress clearly meant RFRA to apply to the military and the statute clearly applies to situations like this.

Its analysis continued: “This case appears to be the first to squarely present the question of how a court is supposed to incorporate traditional deference to the military into the RFRA strict scrutiny analysis.” Therefore, the court looked to an area to which Congress also clearly meant RFRA to apply—prisons. In that context, the Supreme Court ruled earlier this year in Holt v. Hobbs that a sister statute with the same standard—the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act—required the strict scrutiny standard to be applied to each situation in a “‘more focused’ inquiry” assessing whether the religious exemption can be granted.

The court dismissed the Army’s arguments that earlier cases—including Goldman v. Weinberger—require deference here, noting that “those cases predate RFRA.” Instead, the court chose to look to the framework laid out in Holt.

The Army also tried to argue for deference on the theory that it was better equipped to deal with social changes on its own (such as the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”), but the court rejected that argument, noting that “even if it involves an important matter of public policy and evolving social norms, Congress has already placed a thumb on the scale in favor of protecting religious exercise, and it has assigned the Court a significant role to play.”

The court continued by ruling that the Army has not shown that denying the accommodation here (while granting numerous such accommodations in other cases) advances any compelling interest of the military. Notably, “[t]he Army conducted an internal examination of the effect of [another Sikh’s] religious accommodation on his service, and the study concluded that “the Soldier’s religious accommodations did not have a significant impact on unit morale, cohesion, good order, and discipline,” and that it “had no significant impact on his own, or any other Soldier’s, health and safety.”

The Army’s heavy reliance on uniformity in denying this accommodation and assertion that “compliance with Army grooming standards facilitates ‘the ability to assess a Soldier’s competency and attention to detail’” is irrelevant to the religious basis of the requested accommodation here and fails to satisfy “the individual assessment that is fundamental under RFRA.”

For “the accommodation this plaintiff seeks does not stem from any lack of self-control, dedication, or attention to detail. To the contrary: plaintiff seeks an accommodation because he faithfully adheres to the strict dictates of his religion. So even if, in some cases, a soldier’s failure to follow the Army’s standards might signal a rebellious streak or reflect a lack of impulse control or discipline, LTG McConville’s decision fails to grapple with the fact that any deviation from the rules on plaintiff’s part flows from a very different source. And therefore, the decision lacks the individual assessment that is fundamental under RFRA.”

In concluding, the court affirmed that it would not give blind deference to the claims of even very senior military decision makers as sufficient to trump religious exercise rights:

Notwithstanding [LT General McConville’s] thirty-four years of experience in the Army … and his superior judgment about military matters, adopting his conclusion [that the accommodation should be denied] without more would entail abdicating the role that RFRA requires the Court to play.

Finally, the court noted that even if there was a compelling interest here, the Army had not accomplished it by the least restrictive means—it had rejected the plaintiff outright, instead of at least permitting him to initially enroll in the ROTC program (during which time he is not yet commissioned).

The ACLU did well in laying out robust religious freedom arguments so far in this case. It merely remains for the organization (and others like it) to do so in other contexts. These advocates must see that after (rightly) supporting the Sikh’s religious exercise in this case, such support must flow to all religious exercise in order to consistently support religious freedom and the First Amendment. Anything short of that is picking and choosing the contexts in which the advocate wants the First Amendment to apply—and that is certainly not supportive of constitutional rights for all.

This case is certainly a win for the free exercise of religion in the military. It is also a case likely to produce odd bedfellows; the ACLU is supporting robust free exercise in a case involving a Sikh, but conservative Christians, Muslims and others concerned about religious freedom in the military will see it as helpful to their own causes. And rightly so. Congress passed a statute restoring strong free exercise protections. It did so with strong bi-partisan support, and made clear the law applies to the military. At least for now, a court has affirmed that the statutory law on religious freedom in the military supports a strong and robust free exercise of religion.

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Supreme Court Provides Relief to Several Pennsylvania Charities from Obamacare Contraceptive Mandate

by Chris Gacek

July 1, 2015

Well, there has been a little bit of good news today in an Obamacare contraceptive case involving non-profits.  According the Becket Fund’s webpage, the Supreme Court “granted relief in Zubik v. Burwell to a group of Pennsylvania-based religious organizations, including Catholic Charities and other social service organizations.”  “The Court stated that the federal government is “enjoined from enforcing against the applicants the challenged provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and related regulations pending final disposition of their petition for certiorari.”

This is not a final win on the merits of the case, but it is a very positive signal.

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Increasing the Child Tax Credit: Good for Families, Good for the Economy

by Rob Schwarzwalder

June 30, 2015

Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mike Lee (R-UT) have introduced a pro-growth economic plan that includes an increase in the child care tax credit, and the Wall Street Journal isn’t happy about it. In fact, the normally prudent Journal even goes so far as to assert that the child tax credit “does nothing for economic growth.”

Oh, c’mon: Let’s assume that the money retained by families through an expanded credit, per Rubio-Lee, in fact does not foster immediate growth. This is a dubious argument. Personal income tax cuts spur growth just as do corporate income tax cuts.

However, let us agree, for the sake of argument, that the child tax credit is deficient in animating the kind of sustained growth serious people want for the economy. It has another, more profound benefit that the Journal ignores completely: It strengthens families. And strong families mean a stronger economy.

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GOP Reiterates Support for Marriage, Post-SCOTUS

by Suzanne Bowdey

June 30, 2015

House Leadership

Speaker Boehner

Whip Scalise 

 

VAT House Leadership

Chairman Joe Pitts

Chairman John Fleming

Chairwoman Vicky Hartzler

 

VAT Senate Leadership

Sen. Blunt—“I’m disappointed in this decision.  My view is that family issues in Missouri like marriage, divorce, and adoption should be decided by the people of Missouri.” 

Sen. Ernst—”I am disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision and its failure to recognize the freedom of our states to make their own decisions about their respective marriage laws.  While it is my personal belief that marriage is between one man and one woman, I maintain that this is an issue best handled at the state level.”

Sen. Scott—“I continue to believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. The Supreme Court’s overreach into decisions that should be made by states and the people living and voting in them is disappointing. Moving forward, we must ensure families and religious institutions across America are not punished for exercising their right to their own personal beliefs regarding the traditional definition of marriage.” 

 

House Members

Rep. Aderholt

Rep. Babin

Rep. Barr

Rep. Black

Rep. Blackburn

Rep. Bost

Rep. Boustany

Rep. Brady (TX-08)

Rep. Byrne

Rep. Carter

Rep. Coffman

Rep. Culberson

Rep. Flores 

Rep. Forbes

Rep. Fortenberry

Rep. Foxx

Rep. Gohmert

Rep. Goodlatte

Rep. Griffith

Rep. Grothman

Rep. Hensarling

Rep. Huelskamp

Rep. Johnson (OH-6)

Rep. Jordan

Rep. Kelly

Rep. King (IA-04)

Rep. Labrador

Rep. Lamborn

Rep. Long

Rep. Marchant

Rep. Mullin

Rep. Olsen

Rep. Palazzo

Rep. Palmer 

Rep. Price

Rep. Ratcliffe

Rep. Smith (TX-21)

Rep. Smith (MO-08)

Rep. Stewart

Rep. Tiberi

Rep. Walberg

Rep. Walker

Rep. Weber

Rep. Westmoreland

Rep. Williams

Rep. Womack

Rep. Woodall

Rep. Yoho

 

Senate

Sen. Alexander

Sen. Ayotte

Sen. Capito

Sen. Coats

Sen. Daines

Sen. Grassley

Sen. Fischer

Sen. Hatch

Sen. Heller

Sen. Inhofe

Sen. Lankford

Sen. Lee

Sen. McCain

Sen. Rubio

Sen. Sasse

Sen. Sessions

Sen. Wicker

 

Presidential Candidates

Bush

Carson

Christie

Cruz

Fiorina

Graham

Huckabee

Jindal

Paul

Perry

Santorum

Walker

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