FRC Blog

U.S. Courts of Appeals: No Vacancy

by Alexandra McPhee

September 24, 2018

You’ve probably seen a lot of press lately surrounding the United States Supreme Court, our nation’s court of last resort. This past weekend at the Values Voter Summit, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell highlighted another issue that he considers a top priority: the confirmation and appointment of circuit court judges, the judges that sit on the United States Courts of Appeals.

President Trump and the Republican-led Senate have coordinated a system of confirmation and appointment of high-caliber judicial conservatives to our circuit courts with unparalleled efficiency. Since President Trump has been in office, 26 new judges have ascended the bench of circuit courts across the nation. Under the Obama administration, the Senate did not confirm a 24th judge until the fourth year of Obama’s presidency.

The Supreme Court issues many consequential decisions that have had an impact on pro-life policies, traditional marriage, and the free expression of religion. But the Majority Leader explained before the VVS audience that “a very, very small number of cases make it to the Supreme Court. The circuit courts are where most complex litigation ends.” As one article notes, judicial decisions from the circuit court “span a wide range of issues, from hot-button topics such as abortion, gay rights and the death penalty to voting rights, regulatory and business disputes, employment law and the environment.”

It is important that circuit court judges apply the law rather than seek to make the law based on their personal preferences. “These are lifetime appointments,” Senator McConnell emphasized. They will have a “longtime impact on what kind of country we’re going to have for the next generation.” In other words, five, ten, or twenty years from now, presently undecided areas of the law affecting our faith, family, and freedom will be decided by the circuit court judges appointed and confirmed today.

As Senator McConnell explained, “Republicans have only had the Senate, the House, and the White House for 20 of [the past] 100 years.” If we lose the Senate Republican majority, the influx of judges who will defend our constitutional rights will screech to a halt.

The Values Voter Summit is a yearly gathering of the most civically engaged and pro-family voters in our nation. All of us who have just gathered are participants, not spectators. The time is now to mobilize our friends and family to vote to keep a unified executive and legislative branch and fill our circuit courts with people “who believe that the job of a judge is to follow the law.”

Alexandra McPhee is the Director of Religious Freedom Advocacy at FRC.

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Another Attack on Kenyan Christians Brings Us Back to Watu Wote

by Travis Weber

September 20, 2018

Tragedy has repeated itself with the most recent attack on Christian bus passengers by al-Shabaab militants in Northeast Kenya. As has happened before, militants reportedly forced the passengers to show their identification cards, and then separated them according to whether they had a Muslim and Christian name. Those with non-Muslim names were forced to recite the Shahada, or the Islamic statement of faith, and two (likely Christians) who failed to recite it were immediately executed.

Reflecting with sadness on these events, we recall the short film Watu Wote (“All of Us” in Swahili, pictured above). An Oscar short film finalist, it tells the true story of another al-Shabaab attack—also on a bus in this area of Kenya (in Mandera to be precise). In this instance, Muslims on the bus refused to separate from the Christians despite orders from the militants to do so, which helped save the lives of the Christians. The film is difficult to watch, but well-done, and an encouraging story of human beings choosing to do what is right, despite the risk of doing so.

In light of recent events, the film is well worth a watch.

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Five Myths About “Gender Identity”

by Peter Sprigg

September 19, 2018

Adapted from remarks by Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies, Family Research Council

to World Congress of Families – Chisinau, Moldova

(Panel Discussion on “Gender Ideology—The Latest Attack on the Family and the Legal Challenges It Poses”)

Friday, September 14, 2018

 

Good afternoon.

I want to share with you today five myths about “gender identity.”

These are five things that are believed and taught by transgender activists, which simply are not true.

1. If the mind is in conflict with the body, the mind is right.

This is the most fundamental belief of the transgender movement. If a person is biologically male, but that person feels or believes that he is a woman, then he is female. And if a biological female believes she is male, then she is male.

But why should anyone believe that?

Contrary to the claims of the transgender activists, this belief is not “scientific.” In fact, since science deals with an examination of the physical world, the rejection of the physical body is anti-scientific.

The belief that the mind is right and the body wrong when they conflict is a philosophical—almost a religious—viewpoint. It has nothing to do with science.

It is bad enough when adults are deceived in this way—but it is tragic when it happens to children. Certainly, some children, even from a very young age, engage in behaviors that do not conform to the typical expectations for their sex.

However, myth number two is:

2. Gender non-conforming children will always grow up to be transgender adults.

Actually, there is much evidence that the vast majority of such children, if left to themselves, eventually accept their biological sex. According to the American Psychiatric Association, anywhere from 70 to 97.8 percent of gender non-conforming boys, and 50 to 88 percent of gender non-conforming girls, will not become transgender. However, if they are encouraged by adults to make a social transition, and they receive hormones that prevent normal puberty from occurring, they may be locked in to a path that leads to great suffering.

3. Gender transition (hormones and surgery) is “medically necessary.”

This is the claim that transgender activists make in order to justify forcing government health programs and private health insurance companies to pay for these expensive procedures.

This claim has everything to do with money, and nothing to do with medicine.

The vast majority of people who identify as transgender are physically normal, physically healthy people. Hormones and surgery do not help their bodies work better—instead, they destroy healthy body systems and healthy body parts.

The claim is that hormones and surgery are “necessary” to improve the mental health of transgender people, not their physical health. Has evidence proven this? No.

In 2016, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees two of the largest federal health care programs, refused to order routine coverage for gender reassignment surgery. They said:

  • [T]here is not enough high quality evidence to determine whether gender reassignment surgery improves health outcomes.”
  • Overall, the quality and strength of evidence were low.”
  • The four best studies “did not demonstrate clinically significant changes” for the better.

One of the best studies, out of Sweden, showed the following about patients after they had gender reassignment surgery. Compared to the general Swedish population, they were:

  • 2.8 times as likely to have died of any causes;
  • 2.8 times as likely to have a psychiatric hospitalization;
  • 4.9 times as likely to attempt suicide;
  • 19.1 times as likely to die by suicide.

This sounds medically dangerous—not “medically necessary.”

4. “Gender identity” discrimination is a form of “sex discrimination.”

In the United States, the majority of states have not added “gender identity” as a protected category in laws against discrimination, nor has the U.S. Congress.

Therefore, transgender activists have begun urging courts to interpret laws against “sex discrimination” to include “gender identity.” Since our federal law against sex discrimination in employment and in education were passed in 1964 and in 1972, it is unlikely that legislators intended “sex” to mean anything other than being biologically male or female.

A 1989 U.S. Supreme Court decision included a passing comment that “gender stereotyping”—for example, telling a woman she is not feminine enough—could be a form of “sex discrimination.” But even that case does not stand for the proposition that a man can become a woman, or a woman can become a man.

5. The transgender movement is a progressive movement.

This may be the most surprising for me to list as a “myth.”

Although we speak about the “LGBT movement,” there are many “LG”—self-identified lesbians and gays—who are concerned about the “T” (those who identify as transgender). They are not happy that masculine girls and feminine boys—who at one time might have grown up to identify as lesbians or as gay men—are now being told that they are actually the opposite sex.

Meanwhile, some feminists point out that transgender activists often are not trying to overcome gender stereotypes. Instead, they are trying to conform to rigid stereotypes—but of the opposite sex.

It would seem more “progressive” to simply say that there are different ways to be a boy or a man, and different ways to be a girl or a woman—and none of them require changing your gender or mutilating your body.

Thank you.

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Social Conservative Review - September 18, 2018

by Daniel Hart

September 18, 2018

Dear Friends,

In my daily faith journey, I confess that I sometimes fall into a bad habit: I feel like I’ve “been there, done that.” More to the point, I feel a kind of “spiritual sophistication” in which most of the preaching I hear and most of the articles on faith that I read just don’t seem to measure up to my expectations. What’s worse, I sometimes find myself getting annoyed and impatient that the preaching that I’m hearing or the article I’m reading is not what I feel to be sufficiently insightful.

As Matthew Westerholm has recently observed, this kind of “it takes a lot to impress me” attitude is actually a form of spiritual immaturity. He writes, “The more spiritually mature we become, the more we are easily edified.” This should be something that all Christians should strive for—a spirit of simplicity, humility, and openness as we encounter the sermons, writings, songs, films, and other forms of spiritual communication that we encounter. This kind of attitude will prepare us to be surprised and delighted by the unexpected insights given to us by the Holy Spirit.

This attitude can also be carried over into every aspect of our daily lives, especially with the everyday conversations we have with others. If we strive to always be open when we encounter others, and avoid going into situations with preconceived notions about what we will or will not gain from them, we allow ourselves to be receptive to what the Lord is trying to teach us.

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 Articles

Are Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) Effective? Are They Harmful? What the Evidence Shows – Peter Sprigg

California’s Effort to Ban ‘Conversion Therapy’ Failed. Here’s a Better Path We Can All Agree On. – Peter Sprigg

The Problem With Judicial Nominations? The Left Doesn’t Actually Want to Follow the Constitution – Peter Sprigg

Brown University is in Denial About Transgender Reality – Cathy Ruse

Lawsuit Targeting Faith-Based Adoption Agencies Allowed to Proceed in Michigan – David Closson

A Bill Allowing College Campus Abortions Shows Reckless Disregard for Young Women – Patrina Mosley

Planned Parenthood’s New President Can’t Erase Its Atrocities – Patrina Mosley

The Department of Veterans Affairs Should Not Fund “Gender Alterations”

The Catholic Church in Crisis: Two Takeaways – Dan Hart

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

Christian College Says Accrediting Agency’s Proposed Guideline Change May Harm Religious Schools – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post

Texas cheerleaders win a victory for freedom of religious expression – Todd Starnes, Fox News

In God We Trust’ sign offended teachers, so the school district came up with a fix – Lois K. Solomon, Sun Sentinel

Students Ordered to Spray Paint Over the Name of Christ on Football Field – ToddStarnes.com

Upend Precedent, 11th Circuit Panel Urges in Pensacola Cross Case – Katheryn Tucker, Daily Report

Her College Told Her Not to Give Out Bible-Themed Valentines. She Isn’t Backing Down. – Troy Worden, The Daily Signal

Professor Who Defended Student’s Right To An Opinion Returns To Work After Three Years And One Major Court Battle – Ashe Schow, The Daily Wire

International Religious Freedom

Officials destroying crosses, burning bibles in China – AP

Indian Christians Refuse to Deny Christ Despite Persecution From Hindu Radicals – Leah MarieAnn Klett, The Christian Post

Nigeria: Pastor and three sons burned alive among at least 20 killed in latest Plateau massacre – World Watch Monitor

U.S. and Turkey Speak About Syria and the Detained American PastorThe Jerusalem Post

China to crack down on ‘chaotic’ online religious info: media – Reuters

Why Americans Should Care About the Uyghurs – Jennifer S. Bryson, Public Discourse

U.N. Is Called to Recognize Christian Genocide – Marlo Safi, National Review

Baseless Forced Conversion Accusation Lead to Arrest of 271 Christians in India – Persecution.org

Prominent Chinese pastor defiant after church closure – Channel NewsAsia

 

Life

Abortion

Pro-life pregnancy centers served nearly 2 million people last yearThe Boston Pilot

Memo to Chelsea Clinton: Freedom Does Not Require Women To Become Like Men – Ashleen Menchaca-Bagnulo, Public Discourse

In two years, Iowa flips from ‘worse than New York State’ to pro-life – Live Action

Gosnell’ Actress On Her Choice For Life: ‘Have Your Baby, It Will Mean Everything To You’The Federalist

Pro-Life Leaders Call for End of Taxpayer-Funded Research with Aborted Baby PartsCaffeinated Thoughts

Adoption

I Was Adopted Through a Faith-Based Adoption Provider. LGBT Groups Want Them Shut Down. – Ryan Bomberger, The Daily Signal

Bioethics

A viral photo shows the problems with in vitro fertilization (IVF) – Andrew T. Walker, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Dear Anonymous Dad – Mary Jackson, WORLD

A Gruesome Plan – Wesley J. Smith, The Weekly Standard

Obamacare

This 1 Move by the Trump Administration Is Boosting My Small Business – Joseph Semprevivo, The Daily Signal

 

Family

Marriage

The Thing We Learned About Marriage from the Cable Guy – Dave Willis with Ashley Willis, Focus on the Family

Confessions of a Reluctant Complementarian – Rebecca McLaughlin, The Gospel Coalition

Teach Them About Marriage Before the World Does – Jani Ortlund, Desiring God

Parenting

Close ties with fathers help daughters overcome lonelinessScience Daily

Waiting to Have a Baby Can Lead to Having Many at Once – Mollie Rappe-Brown, Futurity

Welcome to the Grieving Parents Club – Leslie Froelich, HerViewFromHome

Economics/Education

Education Should Not Be Fearful – Matthew Anderson, Crisis

Hundreds of parents flood Board of Education to demand control over their kids’ sex education – Daniel Payne, The College Fix

Parents Win: Colorado Schools End Sex Ed Program That Exposed Children to Porn – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian Post

The College Campus’s Cult of Fragility – George Will, National Review

Why Small Businesses Are More Optimistic Than Ever Before – Patrick Tyrrell and Anthony B. Kim, The Daily Signal

How the Texas Model Supports Prosperous Families – Vance Ginn, Family Studies

Faith/Character/Culture

The Power of Prayer for Families – Alysse ElHage, Family Studies

How to Ruin Your Life in Your Twenties – Jonathan Pokluda, Desiring God

Prioritizing the Value of Work in a Celebrity-Obsessed World – Naomi Schaefer Riley, Family Studies

How to help a friend with mental illness – Amy Simpson, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

The Benefit of Bad Sermons – Matthew Westerholm, Desiring God

Why Millennials ARE Coming to Church – Steve McAlpine, The Gospel Coalition

What I Learned About My Sins at Sixty-Four – John Piper, Desiring God

Human Sexuality

The Heterosexual Gospel – Jackie Hill Perry, Desiring God

How to Evangelize Your LGBT Neighbors – Rosaria Butterfield, Christianity Today

California Dem withdraws bill banning help for unwanted gay attraction – Calvin Freiburger, LifeSiteNews

The Alarming Findings of a New Study on Transgender Teens and Suicide – Kelsey Harkness, The Daily Signal

Gay Rights, Hate Speech, and Hospitality – Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, Desiring God

Human Trafficking

Sexual Exploitation Knows No Borders, Neither Should Our Efforts to End It – Lana Lichfield, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Pornography

Is Pornography Your Therapy? – Greg Morse, Desiring God

How Porn Is Sidelining Missionaries – Greg Handley, The Gospel Coalition

A rape pandemic has hit India, and people are blaming pornography – Jonathon Van Maren, LifeSiteNews

How to Tell Your Fiance About Your Porn Problem – Jessica Harris, Focus on the Family

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Lawsuit Targeting Faith-Based Adoption Agencies Allowed to Proceed in Michigan

by David Closson

September 17, 2018

On Friday, a federal judge ruled that Dumont v. Lyon, the ACLU’s lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, may proceed, finding that the plaintiffs—two same-sex couples who allege they were turned away by certain faith-based placing agencies when they sought to adopt—have standing to sue.

In denying the Defendant’s motion to dismiss, the Clinton-appointed District Judge, Paul D. Borman, ruled that the couples have demonstrated plausible Establishment Clause and Equal Protection claims that are “fairly traceable” to the defendant’s practice of entering into contracts with faith-based agencies that operate according to their religious beliefs about marriage. Michigan state law since 2015 has protected the conscience rights of faith-based adoption providers.

In his ruling, Judge Borman explained that because faith-based agencies process 20 percent of the active foster care and adoption cases in Michigan, it is “reasonable to infer that the ability of faith-based agencies to employ religious criteria as a basis to turn away same-sex couples erects at least a 20% barrier to that Prospective Parent Plaintiffs’ ability to adopt or foster a child in the State of Michigan.” Noticeably absent from Judge Borman’s comments on this point is that the ACLU’s clients in the case live closer to four other foster and adoption agencies than St. Vincent Catholic Charities, a co-defendant in the case. All four agencies facilitate adoptions for same-sex couples.

Significant for this case—and others moving forward—Borman cites the Plaintiff’s claim of “stigmatic injury” alongside “practical injuries” as grounds for allowing their Establishment Clause claims to proceed. In addition to claiming that Michigan’s law makes it more difficult for them to adopt, the same-sex couples allege that the state’s practice of contracting with faith-based agencies with religious convictions constitutes a form of harmful discrimination. This is an appeal to “dignitary harm,” a concept that refers to the alleged emotional pain and humiliation suffered when someone disagrees with another’s moral decisions or lifestyle; the notion is increasingly invoked by activists who want to silence dissent from anyone who disagrees with the LGBT agenda.

The longest section in the 93-page ruling was Borman’s rationale for why, in his view, the Plaintiffs have credibly alleged an Establishment Clause violation. The Plaintiffs believe the implementation of Michigan law constitutes an endorsement and promotion of religion which is prohibited by the Establishment Clause. Concurring with the Plaintiffs, Borman employs the second and third prongs of the Lemon test to establish whether Michigan’s law conveys the message that the state endorses the view that opposes same-sex marriage. According to Borman, “The answer is yes.” In an important paragraph he argues that “Plaintiffs plausibly allege and suggest that the State’s practice of contracting with and permitting faith-based child placing agencies to turn away same-sex couples has both a subjective purpose of discriminating against those who oppose the view of the faith-based agencies and objectively endorses the religious view of those agencies that same-sex marriage is wrong.”

Borman also says that while the Establishment Clause does not prohibit Michigan from entering into contracts with religious organizations, the use of religious criteria by faith-based adoption providers suggests “excessive entanglement” between the state and religion. Thus, according to Borman’s opinion, the Defendants will need to prove in the trial phase why current state law protecting faith-based adoption agencies does not constitute an inappropriate promotion of or excessive entanglement of religion.

Turning to the Plaintiff’s Equal Protection claim, Borman is more cautious but permits the claim to proceed to the discovery phase. Notably, he admits the Plaintiff’s burden to prove that Michigan’s law is motivated by anti-gay animus is “admittedly high.”

On one count Borman does rule in favor of the Defendants, finding that the Plaintiffs fail to establish taxpayer standing to assert their Establishment Clause claims. Alongside the same-sex couples, Jennifer Ludolph, a former foster child who also sued the state, objected to the use of taxpayer money to fund child-placing agencies that do not place children in same-sex households due to the provider’s religious convictions on marriage. Borman ruled that all of the Plaintiffs failed to establish taxpayer standing and dismissed with prejudice Ludolph’s claims.

In response to the decision, Mark Rienzi, an attorney with Becket representing St. Vincent said, “Today’s court ruling allows the ACLU’s lawsuit to proceed—a lawsuit aimed at forbidding the state from working with faith-based adoption agencies to help children in need. Such a result would make it much harder for thousands of children to find the loving home they each deserve. Beckett is fighting to make sure that doesn’t happen, and this is just one step along the journey in this case.”

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A Bill Allowing College Campus Abortions Shows Reckless Disregard for Young Women

by Patrina Mosley

September 17, 2018

Safe, legal, and rare.”

That’s how the Democrats described their position on abortion over 20 years ago. Nevertheless, in just one year, 321,384 lives were aborted by Planned Parenthood, and nearly 60 million lives have been lost to abortion in the U.S. since Roe v. Wade.

First off, anything legal is hardly ever rare, and when it comes to abortions, it doesn’t take a genius to know they are not safe—physically or psychologically.

We know the phrase “safe, legal, and rare” was just political coaxing mixed with just enough moral undertones to put people’s consciences at ease about abortion rights. But as usual, when you give the Left an inch, they build a highway.

Now, Democrats in California want young women to have as many abortions as they want, right from their dorm rooms. This is the purpose of California bill SB 320, the first bill of its kind, which has made its way onto Governor Jerry Brown’s desk.

SB 320—deceptively titled the “College Student Right to Access Act”—would require public universities with on-campus student health centers to provide abortion pills to young college-aged women by January 1, 2022. If signed, California would be the first state to require access to chemical abortions on-campus, and abortion activists will make SB 320 model legislation for the rest of the country.

Legal abortion has created a pathway for bills like SB 320 that try to reinforce the idea that abortion is healthcare. Elective abortion—the taking of innocent unborn life—should never be considered healthcare, and if anything, legislation like SB 320 shows a reckless disregard for the health of young women and presumes that education and motherhood are not compatible.

We’ve known since 2006 that the abortion pill regimen is dangerous, with thousands of reported adverse health events, including several deaths. Recently, the FDA reported 1,445 more adverse events from 2012-2017. Since the introduction of the abortion pill in 2000, the drug has caused 22 deaths, 97 ectopic pregnancies, 1,041 hospitalizations, 598 blood transfusions as a result of blood loss, 411 infections, and 69 severe infections, with a total of 4,185 adverse events reported.

A former Planned Parenthood manager, Abby Johnson, had this experience with her medical abortion:

A blood clot the size of a lemon had fallen into my bath water. Was that my baby? I knew this huge clot was not going to go down the drain, so I reached down to pick it up. I was able to grasp the large clot with both hands and move it to the toilet.

Then came the excruciating pain again. I jumped out of the shower and sat on the toilet. Another lemon sized blood clot. Then another. And another. I thought I was dying. This couldn’t be normal. Planned Parenthood didn’t ever tell me this could happen.

One of SB 320’s co-sponsors, ACT for Women and Girls, says SB 320 is “about making sure that our young people are prepared for their life.”

Can you imagine the mental trauma that would occur to a young woman who sees her abortion take place in her college dorm room, while at the same time enduring the physical trauma of excruciating pain?

We know already that abortion negatively impacts a woman’s mental health. One study in the British Journal of Psychiatry analyzed 22 studies that detailed women who were post-abortive and found that they were more likely to have issues with substance abuse and had greater anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts than non-abortive women.

Instead of “preparing” women for life, the abortion pill is setting them up to be more traumatized through life.

SB 320 does not prepare men or women for life, to take responsibility for their actions, and make wise, moral choices.

In reality, having the abortion pill readily available steps from college dorm rooms does nothing but incentivize the prevailing hook-up culture. Will the future of college “sex weeks” not only include condoms but abortion pills too?

Neither does it enhance the dignity of women. Instead, SB 320 treats women as sex objects, implying that “if she wakes up pregnant, it’s no big deal, since she can easily go to the health center to get some abortion pills.”

No accountability, no responsibility—the gifts of modern feminism.

Modern feminists place opposition between education, work, and family for women. If you’re a young college student who thinks she is pregnant, modern feminists say abortion is the safest route to ensure you will not be uneducated and poor (as if this is the worst thing that can happen to you… the slight elitism should not go unnoticed). Feminists proudly tout they are pro-choice, but the only choice they are in favor of is telling you to abort your child.

There are serious concerns that are not addressed in SB 320 that make the bill look rushed and politicized. SB 320 disregards the risks to women’s health, the potential liability to schools, and unclear fungibility of taxpayer funds. The bill’s funding mechanism is purposefully vague. Private funding until 2021 ignores the fact that a school clinic’s overhead is paid by taxpayers, and the language of the bill leaves open taxpayer-funded abortion after that.

SB 320 leaves more questions than answers in giving women unsupervised access to abortion.

As the abortion industry creates victims, the pro-life movement creates victors.

For instance, 24-year-old single mom Briana Williams graduated from Harvard Law School with her one-year-old daughter, and many other students have shared their stories.

SB 320 is not empowering or safe for women. Better options are prevailing, and those efforts should be supported and funded. Tell Governor Brown how this bill will harm young women and place public universities at risk.

Resources for Women with Unplanned Pregnancies

Pregnantoncampus.com

Pregnant on Campus is an initiative started by Students for Life of America to empower women to choose life by providing resources and support for pregnant and parenting students on campus.

AbortionPillReversal.com

If a woman takes the first pill of the abortion pill regime and then has second thoughts, there is still a way to stop the process. For more information, visit AbortionPillReversal.com. For emergencies, there is a hotline at 877-558-0333.

Find a Pregnancy Center Near You

Care Net pregnancy centers offer accurate and helpful information in a compassionate environment. If you think you may be pregnant and are in search of information about pregnancy options, a free pregnancy test, or post-decision support, the experts at your local Care Net pregnancy center can help. Search here to find one near you.

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Planned Parenthood’s New President Can’t Erase Its Atrocities

by Patrina Mosley

September 14, 2018

The new Planned Parenthood president, Leana Wen, has been announced and it is clear from her background that she carries all the Left’s qualifiers for being anti-Trump, which will only matter for so long. Planned Parenthood’s attempts to be relevant do not make Wen a shield for the atrocities Planned Parenthood clinics are committing and profiting from every day.

The fact that Planned Parenthood has placed its scandal-ridden organization into the hands of a physician does nothing to dignify abortion as a form of healthcare. It only makes taking the Hippocratic oath to “do no harm” hypocritical. The organization’s introductory video asserts that “having a physician as the head of Planned Parenthood is a sign that what we are doing is mainstream medical care.” Why is it not? Because, Cree Erwin-Sheppard is dead, Jamie Lee Morales is dead, and a 20-year old woman at an unlicensed Planned Parenthood abortion clinic is dead, all due to botched abortions. These are just a few recent examples.

Abortion is the number one killer of African-Americans. Leana Wen, the former Health Commissioner of the predominately African-American community of Baltimore City, should know this. Nearly 80 percent of Planned Parenthood’s centers are located within walking distance of mainly African-American and Hispanic communities.

Planned Parenthood has aborted over 321,000 babies just in the last year—and yet according to the organization, this is to be “understood as a fundamental human right.” The fact that over 60 million lives have been extinguished in the U.S. alone from abortions is the single greatest human rights violation we are facing. Planned Parenthood should be defunded, and the DOJ should follow through with their investigation into Planned Parenthood’s scandalous activities based off congressional referrals. 

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The Department of Veterans Affairs Should Not Fund “Gender Alterations”

by Family Research Council

September 13, 2018

Family Research Council has submitted public comments urging the Department of Veterans Affairs to retain a regulation that prohibits “gender alterations” (hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery) from being funded by taxpayers as part of the VA’s medical benefits package.

The VA had received a “Petition for Rulemaking” from transgender activists urging that it lift the restriction, which is found in 38 CFR 17.38(c)(4).

The comment, written by FRC Senior Fellow for Policy Studies Peter Sprigg, said that the cost of these procedures would be exorbitant, and there is no convincing scientific evidence that they are effective in improving mental health or reducing suicide rates among those who undergo them.

A synopsis of the comments stated:

VA benefits should be aimed at the direst, most life-threatening needs first.  They should not go to surgery on physically healthy individuals who elect to alter their physically healthy bodies.

In 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a memo declining to issue a National Coverage Determination (NCD) mandating coverage for gender reassignment surgery. They declared that “there is not enough high quality evidence to determine whether gender reassignment surgery improves health outcomes.” What CMS was unwilling to do for Medicare recipients, the VA should not be doing for recipients of VA medical benefits.

Advocates for taxpayer funding of medical gender transition claim that it will reduce the mental health problems and risk of suicide that are known to exist at higher levels among those who identify as transgender. However, one of the strongest studies ever done on the subject, a 2011 study out of Sweden (Dhejne et al., PLoS ONE) did not support such a conclusion. The CMS memo stated:

The study identified increased mortality and psychiatric hospitalization compared to the matched controls. The mortality was primarily due to completed suicides (19.1-fold greater than in control Swedes), but death due to neoplasm and cardiovascular disease was increased 2 to 2.5 times as well… . The risk for psychiatric hospitalization was 2.8 times greater than in controls even after adjustment for prior psychiatric disease (18%).

Finally, the exorbitant cost of these procedures can hardly be justified for so little benefit. Data from the Philadelphia Center for Transgender Surgery suggests that a comprehensive package of male-to-female surgical procedures would cost $110,450, and female-to-male procedures would cost $89,050. That’s not to mention hormone treatment, which is required indefinitely and can cost as much as $200 a month.

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The Catholic Church in Crisis: Two Takeaways

by Daniel Hart

September 10, 2018

Over the last several months and up to today, revelations continue to come out about the cover-up of sexual abuse among the clergy in the Catholic Church, which has now credibly extended to the Church’s highest levels. As a Catholic, I find myself heartbroken for those who have experienced sexual abuse at the hands of the very men whom they trusted the most. I also find myself angry that the very men who have spent so much of their lives studying and preaching about the teachings of Christ could be the ones who would leverage their status as priests and bishops to prey upon the trust of their flock.

Nevertheless, here we are. It is undoubtedly a grace from God that all of these fetid revelations are now seeing the light of day so that the Church hierarchy can at long last begin to clean house, something that is decades overdue, and of which the lay faithful in the Church must hold the clergy accountable as best they can.

At this point, the temptation for those of us who feel powerless to do anything to help right these terrible wrongs is to get bogged down in the minutiae of the all the accusations, denials, and rumors. While it is important that we stay as wise as serpents in the ways of the world, it is equally important to remain as innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16). Therefore, here are two essential points to keep our current moment in perspective so that we avoid becoming embittered and help to bring good out of even the most dire of circumstances, which is what all Christians are called to do.

1. Sin Is Real and Has Real Consequences

Scripture tells us that even the early church struggled with the sexual immorality of the wider culture (see 1 Corinthians 5, among others). It seems that this tendency has only increased in modern times. At least since the Sexual Revolution in the 1960’s (if not earlier), it has become abundantly clear that the Christian church, no matter what denomination or tradition, has been particularly susceptible to being influenced by the wider culture’s view of sex. The Sexual Revolution’s chief export, which has taken root so overwhelmingly in our modern culture, is this: that the primary purpose of sex is for pleasure, which every person has an absolute right to no matter what their age or state in life happens to be.

The wider Christian church has steadily ceded ground and influence in their opposition to this idea for the past several decades, the reasons for which are numerous and cannot be fully explored here. What’s important to realize is that God’s teaching about sex has been and always will be abundantly clear. It is summed up in the Sixth Commandment: “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). Here is an excellent summation of the proper meaning of this commandment through the Bible’s authority:

The [Christian teaching on sexuality] is also set forth in many other clearly worded texts from the Scriptures that forbid homosexual acts, adultery, fornication and other lewd conduct: Ephesians 5:5-7; Galatians 5:16-21; Revelation 21:5-8; Revelation 22:14-16; Matthew 15:19-20; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Corinthians 6:9-20; Colossians 3:5-6; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; 1 Timothy 1:8-11; Hebrews 13:4; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Genesis 19; Romans 1:1-18, and 1 Timothy 1:8-11, among others.

The Sixth Commandment is clear — there is a universal call to chastity, and no one is exempt. There is simply no provision for sexual intercourse or sexual touching outside of valid marriage, and those who are married live chastity by complete fidelity to one another. No one is ever permitted under any circumstances to engage in sexual acts with anyone to whom they are not validly married. There are no separate rules for heterosexuals or homosexuals. There is to be no sexual intercourse or touching outside of valid marriage.

I think it can be safely said that this is the most broken and least understood commandment and principle in Christianity, even among Christians. Just one sad example of this is the pervasiveness of pornography. It is no secret that pornography use is the number one sin confessed to Catholic priests and is also widespread in evangelical churches.

The Sexual Revolution proved to be extremely successful at convincing much of society that it is okay to separate the sexual act from the confines of marriage. Once this was done, the floodgates opened. Sex outside of marriage is so culturally accepted that it is now considered a right of passage. The natural outgrowth of this line of reasoning could not be more clear: if unmarried people can have sex, who’s to say it has to be with someone of the opposite sex? What’s wrong with watching people do it on the internet? And so on and so on.

This viewpoint is very convincing to the human psyche for the simple reason that sex is in fact very pleasurable in a unique and powerful way. “How can pleasure be sinful?” the culture asks. Perhaps the easiest way to answer this is to simply point out the current state of our sexual culture—awash in the #MeToo moment. When the fire of human sexuality is not harnessed within the prism of commitment and mutual self-sacrifice, the inevitable result is wildfire, in which people use and abuse each other.

Our culture, along with a troubling segment of the Catholic Church’s clergy, has lost its sense of sexual sin. Perhaps the current devastation that all of this sin has caused will once again awaken a sense of sexual sin and its consequences. First, truly repentant sorrow and reparations must be expressed. Secondly, prayer, self-discipline, and the hard but infinitely fulfilling work of staying faithful to God’s teachings must be taken up with renewed hope and purpose.

2. “From Everyone Who Has Been Given Much, Much Will Be Required” (Luke 12:48)

A cursory review of human history reveals that we humans love power. We often long for it because we think that once we gain power and have more control, we can finally get what we want, and then we will be happy. But God has a far different purpose for power. Christ Himself specifically addresses the proper attitude we should have toward earthly power when He is brought before Pontius Pilate (who had the very powerful position as the prefect of the Roman province of Judaea at the time): “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above” (John 19:11).

Christ’s lesson here is clear: Nothing we have gained on earth is because of our own efforts. Everything that we have is a gift from God.

This is a hard lesson that all of those who have positions of power and authority must take to heart. They must humbly accept the power that has been bestowed upon them and use it for the greater good of their fellow man, resisting the urge to use it for their own pleasure or personal gain.

As we have seen in recent weeks, this vital teaching from God has been tragically and systematically abused by the very men that God bestowed power and authority to within the Catholic Church—not only through priests who perpetrated the sickening sexual abuse of children, parishioners, and seminarians who held their trust, but also in bishops who used their authority to perpetrate the cover-up of abusive priests under their jurisdiction. We have also seen a pattern of abuse of power in other Christian churches, showing that no earthly hierarchical system is immune to sin.

Indeed, the proper way to view power is to observe the life of Jesus and how he used his power. There couldn’t possibly be anyone more powerful than Jesus—He was God Incarnate. Yet, how did He use His power? In complete self-sacrifice. Those who witnessed His crucifixion were in fact dumbfounded that He did not use His power to save Himself, and derided Him for it: “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, Come down from the cross and save yourself!” (Mark 15:30)

It’s a perfect illustration of how God’s ways are often not man’s ways (Isaiah 55:8). But Christ continually calls us to strive for more than the tired habits of our fallen nature: “Be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Christ, then, is the ultimate model for how we should use power—as servant leaders in service of others.

What We Are Called to Do

So what can the Christian faithful do who do not hold positions of authority within their churches to help their leaders stay faithful? It can be tempting to throw up our hands in resignation, claiming that we have no responsibility for what goes on in the hierarchy.

Don’t give in to this temptation. First and foremost, believers are called to live out God’s commandments in their own lives so as to be salt and light on the earth (Matthew 5:13-16), testifying to the reality of sin and its consequences when we are called to. Just as importantly, ordinary believers can and must make their voices heard when institutional change is needed, by writing letters to church authorities, starting petitions, and even holding peaceful public protests if the situation calls for it.

Let’s remember in this time of crisis that no person is an island, especially bishops, priests, and pastors, the great majority of whom are not involved in the sexual abuse of others. All of us, no matter what earthly position we do or do not hold, need the support of our brothers and sisters in Christ to get through difficult times. Let’s begin a great renewal of our churches in Christ, who makes all things new (Revelation 21:5).

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Social Conservative Review - September 4, 2018

by Daniel Hart

September 4, 2018

Dear Friends,

After Labor Day, a common emotion that is experienced by many of us is one of melancholy. We get the sense that the season is beginning to change from summer to fall, and with it, many of us seem to be thrust back in to our roles as workers and students after our summer vacations and school breaks, with all the responsibilities and stress that goes along with it. It’s notable that fully 87 percent of people in the world don’t particularly enjoy their jobs, and I’m sure most adult readers remember childhood feelings of dread at the thought of going back to school after summer break.

What’s important to remember during this time of transition is that work is actually a gift from God that is meant to fulfill us. John Cuddeback writes: “…work has a humanizing power: [in] some important sense it both expresses and brings about our humanity… Our daily work should … provide a basic and irreplaceable experience of human fulfillment … We can first of all seek the humanizing element in our daily work—whatever that work might be.”

In order for us to be fulfilled by our work, we must be engaged by it, and there are helpful steps we can take to be more productive at and satisfied with our jobs. During this season of new beginnings, let’s make a special effort to use our God-given strengths and talents to excel in our work, not just for the benefit of us and our families, but for the betterment of society and to give glory to the Giver of all that we have.

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 Articles

Why Judge Kavanaugh Should Be Confirmed to the Supreme Court – Travis Weber and Chris Gacek

What to Expect From the Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearing – Ken Blackwell

California’s ‘Must Stay Gay’ Bill Is Nearing Passage. Here’s the Severe Harm It Would Do. – Peter Sprigg

SOGI Law Forces Catholic Adoption Provider to Close After 95 Years – David Closson

Forced Use of False Pronouns Kills Faith and Freedom – Cathy Ruse

New CDC Numbers Show the Sexual Revolution Keeps Making Things Worse – Cathy Ruse

India’s Opportunity for Religious Freedom – Travis Weber

Update on California’s AB 2943: Therapy Ban Assaulting Freedom of Speech and Religion Passes Senate – Peter Sprigg

3 Ways in Which Brett Kavanaugh Has Supported Religious Liberty – Travis Weber

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

Despite my court win, Colorado Civil Rights Commission is coming after me again – Jack Phillips, USA Today

Southern Poverty Law Center ‘Hate’ Labels Deserve a Vigorous Response – Michael Farris, National Review

SoCal Harvest: Thousands to ‘Take a Stand’ for Bible Amid Greg Laurie’s Billboard Controversy – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post

Pastor Faces Eviction for Hosting Home Bible Study – ToddStarnes.com

In God We Trust’ Motto On Currency Deemed Constitutional By Court After Atheists Complain – Kassy Dillon, The Daily Wire

The Transgender Language War – Abigail Shrier, The Wall Street Journal

Two-thirds of conservatives don’t trust Facebook, say they’re being censored – Jennifer Harper, The Washington Times

Christian Cake Baker Turns the Tables, Sues Colorado for Anti-Religious Bias – Thomas Jipping, The Daily Signal

International Religious Freedom

Nigerian Girl Who Refused to Renounce Jesus for Her Freedom Begs for Help in Newly Released Audio – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian Post

The Shameful Abandonment of the Yazidis – Judith Bergman, The Christian Post

European Union Religious Freedom Report

 

Life

Abortion

Why we should work to overturn abortion laws – Andrew T. Walker, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Most Damning’ Planned Parenthood Videos Yet Set for Release if Judge Lifts Gag Order – Tyler O’Neil, PJ Media

California state assembly passes law mandating abortion on college campuses – Cassy Fiano-Chesser, Live Action

Trump administration moves to cut Planned Parenthood funding sooner – Live Action

Adoption

States Must Stop the War on Faith-Based Adoption Agencies – Monica Burke, The Daily Signal

Is it OK to get attached to a foster child? – Ashley Gorman, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

The Other Side of Foster Care – Jason Johnson, Family Studies

Bioethics

Oregon dives deeper into assisted suicide with new drug policy – Bradley Mattes, LifeSiteNews

Families of assisted suicide victims plead for the killing to end – Cassy Fiano-Chesser, Live Action

 

Family

Marriage

For Better or Worse: The Marriage-Health Connection – Aaron Cheesman, Sacramento Magazine

How (and Why) Government Should Invest in Marriage – Alan J. Hawkins and Hal Boyd, Public Discourse

Why Every Sane Society Encourages Marriage, Not Divorce – Chuck Chalberg, Intellectual Takeout

An Open Letter from Young Adults to Married Couples – Allegra Thatcher, The Stream

Hospital Wedding of Terminally Ill Woman a Powerful Witness – Maria Ximena Rondon, National Catholic Register

Parenting

Stop Criminalizing Parenthood – Kerry McDonald, Intellectual Takeout

How to Reassure Your Children of Who They Are in God’s Eyes – Sara Hagerty, Focus on the Family

Motherhood: Why Society is Making it the Most Stress-Ridden Career – Veronika Winkels, Intellectual Takeout

Talking with Our Children About Homosexuality – Lucy Olson, The Gospel Coalition

How Low-Energy Parents Can Get Their Children to Cooperate – Zac Alstin, Intellectual Takeout

Teach Them About Marriage Before the World Does – Jani Ortlund, Desiring God

Economics/Education

How Our Education System Fails Most Students – Oren Cass, Family Studies

Want More Power To The People? Choose Capitalism – Andy Pudzer, The Federalist

Strong Families Make Strong Schools – Brianna Heldt, National Catholic Register

7 Things I’d Do if I Wanted to Keep Poor People Poor – Brian Balfour, Intellectual Takeout

Faith/Character/Culture

Why Everything Is Wonderful But Nobody’s Happy, And What To Do About It – Nathanael Blake, The Federalist

How an unsatisfying life leads to spiritual freedom – Amy Simpson, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Miracle Baby Born at 22 Weeks and Given a 2% Chance of Survival Heads Home – Micaiah Bilger, Life News

Only 14 Percent Of Americans Changed Their Minds Because Of Something On Social Media – Nicole Russell, The Federalist

Kindness: A Pathway to a Satisfying Life – Barry Brownstein, Intellectual Takeout

Why It Matters That Teens Are Reading Less – Jean Twenge, Intellectual Takeout

Don’t Trust the Peace in Your Heart – Matt Rogers, The Gospel Coalition

Human Sexuality

Can Sexual Orientation Change? – Michael Cook, Intellectual Takeout

I Loved My Girlfriend—but God Loved Me More – Jackie Hill Perry, Christianity Today

STDs continue rapid rise in U.S., setting new record, CDC says – Linda Carroll, NBC News

Pornography

Amazon Pushes Pornography Ads on Website for Boy Scouts – National Center on Sexual Exploitation

18 Mind-Blowing Stats About The Porn Industry And Its Underage Consumers – Fight the New Drug

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