FRC Blog

Students for Life Holds #Sockit2PP Rally Outside U.S. Capitol

by Joshua Denton

April 27, 2017

323,999.

That is the number of babies that were killed by Planned Parenthood in 2015.

To clearly illustrate the immensity of this tragedy, the #Sockit2PP campaign was started by Students for Life in March with the intent of creating a simultaneously impressive and shocking visual appeal while also sending a clear message to Congress: now is the time to defund Planned Parenthood.

The #Sockit2PP campaign efforts culminated yesterday as members of the Students for Life team hosted a rally outside the United States Capitol in which they displayed 196,543 socks. The socks have been collected as a result of their campaign to collect 323,999 socks—representative of the number of babies killed in 2015 (the latest numbers available) by the nation’s largest abortion purveyor, Planned Parenthood.

The campaign was inspired by a tiny baby sock which was pinned to the backpack of a Students for Life college group member. Kristan Hawkins, Founder and President of Students for Life, realized the visual symbol could become a powerful national rallying cry.

The campaign has reached over half of its goal in numbers of socks, but decided to hold a rally outside of the United States Capitol now in spite of not yet reaching their final goal.

I think it’s really important to create a visual for people to see,” said Missy Stone, National Field Director for Students for Life. “323,999 is a lot more than people anticipate. People just don’t understand; people say that number flippantly.” Missy noted that when people just hear a number, it doesn’t really resonate, but when they get a visual of over 190,000 empty infant socks, it gives people an idea of the awful reality of how many abortions are truly happening.

Missy said that the campaign created a very real way of providing the pro-life generation a channel with which to generate a national message to Congress that enough is enough—that it’s time to defund Planned Parenthood now.

Kristan Hawkins, President of Students for Life, talked about the effects the demonstration had on people who were walking by as the display was being set up in preparation for the rally. “I was telling them and their jaws dropped because this is the [visual] reality of what happens when we don’t defund Planned Parenthood,” Hawkins said prior to the rally. She noted that the socks on display were only a representation of roughly half of the babies who are aborted every year by Planned Parenthood. “This is the reality of the GOP not acting to defund Planned Parenthood, and we are here today letting them know we expect them to hold to your word to defund Planned Parenthood,” remarked Hawkins.

The rally featured various speakers such as Alison Howard, Director of Alliance Relations for Alliance Defending Freedom; Sue Thayer, former abortion facility director; and U.S. Senator Ben Sasse. During the rally, Sue Thayer noted that “we still have a lot of work to do. Think of what we could do with the 500 million dollars we funnel into Planned Parenthood [if it were] in the hands of pregnancy care centers.”

A number of high school and college students also spoke briefly. Purity Thomas, a young teen, collected over 1,000 baby socks for the initiative. She told the story of her sister who became pregnant at 19 and dropped out of college and the National Guard to carry and raise her child, who is now three years old. “[Planned Parenthood]’s workers ‘have to hit the gym’ in order to crush the skulls of preborn boys and girls. This is a[n] organization that kills our brothers and sisters,” she said, urging students to get involved in spreading the pro-life message. “How as a nation have we allowed this? … This is the time in our country when we need to stand up and look in the face of Planned Parenthood and say enough is enough.”

Senator Ben Sasse emphasized the importance of being charitable when speaking the truth about abortion: “America exists to fight for the most vulnerable. It shouldn’t be a Republican or a Democratic proposition, but a human proposition. The first thing we are trying to do is to persuade our brothers and sisters to look at the gift of life and look at the glories of what is actually happening inside the womb, and tell the truth about how each baby has dignity. This picture that you’re trying to create today is another special way to tell the story of what we’re about, because what we are about is about love, what we are about is about neighborly-ness, what we’re about is about dignity.”

Emily Brown, the Youth Director at American Life League, reminded the audience that Planned Parenthood is on the defense right now. “The pro-life generation is stronger than ever before,” Brown said.

Deanna Wallace, Staff Counsel for Americans United for Life, posed the question, “Planned Parenthood markets themselves as ‘care no matter what’ but what kind of care are they actually giving women?” Wallace then cited multiple health violations such as failing to ensure a safe and sanitary environment, failing to document and protect patient recordings, failing to properly train staff, failing to dispose of expired medications and supplies, and failure to comply with health measures like making sure a gurney can reach a patient if she goes into distress. “It’s … important to remember that this ‘care’ [Planned Parenthood] is offering to women is not care at all. They are endangering women every day, and women deserve better!”

To wrap up the rally, Kristan Hawkins introduced Maddi Runkles, an 18-year-old student at Heritage Academy in Hagerstown, Md. “I’m eighteen years old and I found out back in January that I was pregnant,” Runkles said. As a senior in high school with her whole life ahead of her, she admitted to briefly considering abortion because of the lies that Planned Parenthood tells girls like her.

I look at all these socks and that could have been my baby, but I choose to let my baby wear these socks. I know it’s going to be hard, I know it’s going to be really hard to still accomplish all my goals and all my dreams,” Runkles said, her voice shaking with emotion. “But I get to have a little guy following right next to me and we get to do it together.” Runkles went on to point out that girls like her are perfect targets for Planned Parenthood, which ironically claims to be all about women’s rights, but instead pushes a less than empowering message by telling a woman that she can’t do it. “I chose life for my baby and I chose not to believe the lies that Planned Parenthood told me. Congress needs to defund Planned Parenthood and take all their tax money away,” Runkles concluded.

The #Sockit2PP rally was a sobering yet encouraging demonstration, showing that there is a strong chorus of voices speaking up for the voiceless in our nation’s capital. With more creative displays of this nature, more and more hearts and minds will change and realize that women deserve better than Planned Parenthood and abortion.

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Where Are the “Equal Rights” of Unborn Babies?

by Daniel Hart

April 26, 2017

Equality. Equal rights.

In the last few years, these terms have become inescapable in America. Everything from workplace pay for women to LGBT rights has been framed in these terms. “Equality” has become a powerful idea in the American imagination. I’m not entirely sure exactly when the term became so omnipresent, but it’s not hard to see where its origins lie—the preamble of our Declaration of Independence declares these immortal words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”

While we continue to grapple as a society with what “equality” really means in every human context, there is one entire class of people that currently does not have the most basic right among rights. I am speaking of the unborn child, who does not even have the right to live, under our laws. The mother of an unborn child, if she so chooses, can supersede the most basic right of her own offspring. Anyone who honestly assesses this state of affairs would have to admit that abortion is far and away the most egregious example of “inequality” that currently afflicts our society. (For more on this, be sure to tune in to our lecture, “The Equal Rights Argument for Fetal Personhood” on April 27 at noon.)

Recent events continue to put this issue in stark relief. In a study published in Nature Communications, it was revealed that researchers had for the first time suspended premature baby lambs in artificial wombs (equivalent to 23-week-old human fetuses) and successfully nurtured them for four weeks, in which they “opened their eyes, fattened up, and grew coats of white wool.” After another two years of study, and if the method is approved, “the wombs can be tested on human preemies within three to five years.” This new technology could potentially save the lives of thousands of premature babies who are born every year—currently, only about half of the 30,000 babies born before 24 weeks survive.

All of this raises the question: if we are using cutting-edge technology to save the lives of some 24-week-old babies, how can other 24-week-old babies be legally killed? Don’t the 24-week-old babies who are scheduled for abortion deserve the same “equal rights” as the 24-week-old babies who are being cared for in neonatal intensive care units?

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Social Conservative Review - April 18, 2017

by Daniel Hart

April 18, 2017

Dear Friends,

Why be Christian? Out of all the religions and philosophies in the world that vie for the God-sized hole in every human heart, why choose Christianity?

For believers, there are a limitless amount of ways to answer this fundamental question, and we should “always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you,” as 1 Peter 3:15 entreats us. But where does one start in this defense? If one were to synthesize the most basic argument for Christ, what would it be?

In pondering this question, I was particularly struck by a point that Regis Martin recently made in Crisis. He describes a Christian as “someone who carries within him the adamantine conviction that Another accompanies him every step of the way.” In other words, Christianity is tangibly human and personal because “in showing us the face of Christ, we are thus given a saving glimpse of Someone to whom we may entrust everything, including especially our brokenness and sin.”

Martin goes on to quote Joseph Ratzinger (who later became Pope Benedict XVI), who wrote that “the most fundamental feature of faith … [is] its personal character”:

Christian faith is more than the option in favor of a spiritual ground to the world; its central formula is not ‘I believe in something,’ but ‘I believe in Thee.’ It is the encounter with the human being Jesus, and in this encounter it experiences the meaning of the world as a person.

[T]he meaning of the world as a person.” It seems to me that this precisely encapsulates “the hope that is in us.” It captures a lightness of feeling that is almost impossible to put into words; it’s that serene trust that comes with the knowledge that no matter what sufferings we undergo in life, Christ suffered just the same, even to the point of dying for our sins. Because of this, we are and will always remain a child of God that was loved into being and will be loved for all eternity.

God, who is one with Christ (John 10:30), is our Heavenly Father and we are his children. For many believers, therefore, the Christian faith beautifully intertwines with our natural experience of growing up under the protection of a loving earthly father. This is why the family must be strengthened, nurtured, and upheld in our society—it is the earthly reflection of God’s heavenly love for 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

The ‘bigly,’ and necessary, humility of Judge Neil GorsuchTravis Weber

Think Slavery Has Been Eradicated in the 21st Century? You’d Be Wrong.Travis Weber

Hopeful Signs of Resurrection in AmericaDan Hart

The Plight of Jews in PakistanChris Gacek

Gorsuch on International and Foreign LawTravis Weber

Christianity in Iraq Appears Doomed to ExtinctionChris Gacek

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

GOP Calls on Trump to Honor Promise to Defend Religious LibertyToddStarnes.com

Texas Governor Abbott: Restore Religious Leaders’ Right To Endorse Political CampaignsHank Berrien, The Daily Wire

Atheist Group Says It’s Unconstitutional for College Football Coach to Tweet About GodSamuel Smith, The Christian Post

Supreme Court readies for religious liberty showdownEvan Wilt, WORLD

International Religious Freedom

Extermination of Christians in Egypt Not Getting Enough AttentionSusan Jones, CNS News

China Installing Spy Cameras in ChurchesKim Smith, Conservative Tribune

Jehovah’s Witnesses banned as “extremists” by RussiaJohn Burger, Aleteia

USCIRF to Launch Extensive List of People Imprisoned for Their Faith WorldwideSamuel Smith, The Christian Post

Religious Liberty Increasingly Under Threat in India Amid Surge of Hindu NationalismJames Di Pane and Olivia Enos, The Daily Signal

Fight for me’Mindy Belz, WORLD

Military Religious Freedom

I am not ashamed of my faith:’ Air Force officer punished for Christian view of marriage speaks outFr. Mark Hodges, LifeSiteNews

 

Life

Abortion

Abortion and Bodily AutonomyJames Gottry, Medium

Why Can Rivers Be Granted Legal Personhood But Not Human Babies? – Zachary D. Schmoll, The Federalist

10 babies born alive after abortions in 2015 – in only 3 statesCarole Novielli, Live Action News

40 Days for Life Ends With 437 Babies Saved From Abortion, 1 Abortion Clinic Closed and One Staffer QuitShawn Carney, LifeNews

Arkansas Bans Sex-Selective AbortionsBrian Fraga, National Catholic Register

Pro-lifers Celebrate Huge Win at UN CommissionStefano Gennarini, C-Fam

Adoption

Society Can Never Make Up For The Husband Single Moms Don’t HaveRebekah Curtis, The Federalist

Bishops back bill to let agencies opt out of adoption for same-sex couplesCatholic News Service

Bioethics

Canada harvesting the organs of euthanasia patientsSamantha Gobba, Baptist Press

Charlie Gard case: Doctors can withdraw baby’s life supportBBC

Ontario sets up ‘death hotline’ to force doctors to comply with having patients killedLianne Laurence, LifeSiteNews

Rent-a-wombMary Jackson, WORLD

 

Family

Economics/Education

Religion and Inequality – Eric Metaxas & Roberto Rivera, BreakPoint

Surveying Sex, Denying Childhood – Carl R. Trueman, First Things

The Cancer Eating Away at College Campuses – Walter E. Williams, The Daily Signal

Marriage

A Gender-Neutral Marriage Is Not the Only Path to Equality – Ashley McGuire, Family Studies

Family Trees and the Troubling Problem of Absent FathersRoland C. Warren, Care Net

Why Would Millennial Men Prefer Stay-at-home Wives? Ethnicity and Choice FeminismW. Bradford Wilcox, Family Studies

How a Man Loves a WomanBen Stuart, Desiring God

A Child of Divorce Speaks Out on the Importance of a FamilyJim Graves, National Catholic Register

Faith/Character/Culture

Too many Christians have decided that the world is bad …”Tom Hoopes, Aleteia

Love People Enough to Tell the TruthRyan Bomberger, The Christian Post

The Case For Christ” and A Stubbornly Historical ReligionBp. Robert Barron, Word On Fire

Human Sexuality

Sounding the alarmSophia Lee, WORLD

New Research on Unmarried Mothers and Family FormationNaomi Cahn, Family Studies

Surveying Sex, Denying ChildhoodCarl R. Trueman, First Things

Boys Will Keep Winning Girls’ Sports Trophies Until We Are Willing To Re-Assert Sex DistinctionsJoy Pullmann, The Federalist

Protecting Women from Sexual Assault Requires Acknowledging the Differences between Men and WomenAshley McGuire, Verily

Human Trafficking

Eyes of the highways: Raising a ‘trucker army’ for trafficking fightEoghan Macguire, CNN

Pornography

What If My Husband Looks at Porn? – Kara Garis, Desiring God

12 Ways Pornography Just Doesn’t Show Enough – Dustin Murphy, The Federalist

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Think Slavery Has Been Eradicated in the 21st Century? You’d Be Wrong.

by Travis Weber

April 13, 2017

 

Living in the Western world, in our modern era, one might think that chattel slavery (the buying and selling of human beings as property) is a thing of the past. They would be mistaken.

Just yesterday, it was reported that widespread human smuggling operations are still ongoing inside Libya, with migrants arriving from West Africa being openly traded in “public slave markets” where they are bought and sold:

One survivor from Senegal spoke of how he was brought by smugglers across Niger in a bus to the southern Libyan city of Sabha, where he was due to risk a boat trip to Europe. When the middleman did not get his fee, the survivor was put up for sale along with other passengers.

He was taken to a prison where he worked without pay while the captors demanded 300,000 West African francs (about £380) before selling him on to a larger jail. Livia Manante, an IOM officer based in Niger, said migrants would be brought to a square where they were put up for sale.

 . . . 

Those who did not get their ransom paid were often taken away and killed while others would die of hunger and disease in unsanitary conditions.

If the number of migrants goes down, because of death or someone is ransomed, the kidnappers just go to the market and buy one,” Manente said.

The going rate for a migrant was between $200 (£160) and $500 (£400) each, with many forced into captivity for months before they are freed or sold on. So far this year more than 170 bodies have washed up on the shores of the Mediterranean while the Libyan Coast Guard has also rescued thousands more.

This is horrific.

Unfortunately, it is also the inevitable consequence of abandoning the idea that all human beings have been created in the image of God, and that they have inherent dignity for this reason.

What else does this show us? That worldview matters; that one’s view of God and of fellow human beings matters. What we believe about the dignity of the human race matters. If we believe that God created us in his own image, we will understand that we are accountable to God for how we treat fellow human beings.

Indeed, the whole idea of human rights flows from this notion. Because we have dignity as image-bearers of God, no government may transgress this dignity. From this truth flow certain rights which no government may override—these are called human rights. Among these are the freedom to exercise the religion of one’s choice—and the freedom to not be bought and sold as property!

If we ever forget this truth—may God help us!

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Hopeful Signs of Resurrection in America

by Daniel Hart

April 12, 2017

This Sunday, Christians all over the world will celebrate the Resurrection of Christ from the dead. Easter is the church’s greatest feast day because it encompasses Christ’s fulfilment of his mission on earth: by dying on a Roman cross on Friday, April 3rd, A.D. 33 and rising from the dead on the following Sunday, he conquered human sin and death. The astonishing enormity of this event in history cannot be overstated enough. In one fell swoop, Christ offered the fullness of redemption to every person for all of eternity—namely, release from the chains of our fallen human nature and the prospect of a meaningless death. In and through Jesus, we can become cleansed of our sin and hope in the eternal life that is to come in heaven after our earthly lives are over.

To contemplate these truths for even a moment does wonders in lifting one’s spirit, which can be easily bogged down when considering the tremendous challenges that our country faces with regards to protecting all human life, cultivating natural marriage, and defending religious liberty. And so, in the spirit of Our Lord’s Resurrection, let’s reflect on some very hopeful recent signs of rebirth in America.

Life

In January, it was reported that the U.S. abortion rate is currently at its lowest level since Roe v. Wade was foisted on the country in 1973. There are a number of different factors that have contributed to this welcome decline, but the tireless work of the pro-life movement in state legislatures has undoubtedly been crucial—334 pro-life laws have been passed in the last five years.

Also in January, President Trump signed an executive order that reinstated the “Mexico City Policy,” which halts federal funds from going to foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that commit abortions or “actively promote” abortion. This is wonderful news, as it stops a staggering $600 million from funding the destruction of unborn human life annually.

This past week, Judge Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to serve on the Supreme Court, filling Justice Antonin Scalia’s vacant seat. As we have pointed out in recent weeks, Judge Gorsuch will be a true Constitutionalist Justice who believes that life is “intrinsically valuable and that intentional killing is always wrong.” While he has not directly ruled on abortion, he has stated in the past that “the right to terminate a pregnancy… involves the death of a person.”

Marriage

The current divorce rate is at a 40-year low, while the marriage rate has risen to its highest level since 2009. While the overall rates of divorce and marriage are still depressingly high and low (respectively), recent trends are encouraging for the immediate future.

Another hopeful trend that bodes well for America’s future is, surprisingly, the marriage preferences of millennials. New research has shown that millennials aren’t as obsessed with the progressive talking point of “gender equality” as one would think. As Ashley McGuire points out in Family Studies, “Many of us also feel more comfortable embracing what Pew continues to find, decade after decade: namely, that women consistently say that part-time work is our ‘ideal work situation.’ Millennial women seem to be asserting our autonomy against a culture that turned opportunity for women into a shackle.” McGuire further notes:

The reality is that many married millennial couples with children will readily admit that two full-time working parents is not ideal for a litany of reasons, including marital happiness, individual stress, financial strain, and familial sanity. That’s not to say that lots of couples don’t make it work, but just a gander over to my city’s most-read parenting blog, and you will find plenty who will call the arrangement of two full-time parents “hell.” Many millennial women, like me, take pride in making choices that feel best for their family at that particular time.

That a rising generation of young people feels more comfortable expressing a preference for a male breadwinner is not a setback to equality in a marriage. Rather, it suggests that both millennial men and women are increasingly respectful of what it is that women want most when they have small children. I would call that a step forward for authentic marital equality. It’s only a setback to equality if we measure women in a marriage against their husbands, and not against women’s own benchmarks for happiness. And it’s only a setback for equality if we refuse to allow women to be the ones to set those benchmarks because of antiquated feminist notions about gender neutrality or because it somehow hurts the GDP’s bottom line.

This simply underscores what has historically been common practice: that most families do best when the mother is a stable, nurturing presence in the home for her children, while the father engages in the majority of paid work to support the family financially. As the studies cited previously have shown, this arrangement is what most men and women naturally prefer anyway.

Religious Liberty

The confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is a tremendous uplift not only for the protection of life, but for the defense of religious liberty. He will now be seated on the High Court in time to hear the case of Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley, which will decide whether state governments can discriminate against churches and religious organizations in favor of nonreligious organizations in the context of receiving public money.

Another sign of hope is the fact that the Trump administration is currently considering signing an executive order that would strengthen religious liberty protections for Americans of faith. A letter signed by 52 House Republicans underscores the urgency of the situation: “We look forward to coordinating with your administration on these efforts so that critical religious liberty and conscience protections may finally be restored to millions of Americans who have been harmed and left unprotected for far too many years.” The proposed executive order would ensure that government persecution of Christians for their beliefs about abortion, same-sex marriage, public prayer, and other concerns would cease, and that their First Amendment rights would be restored.

All of this should be a great source of encouragement for believers. But even if all of these hopeful signs fail to come to fruition, our hope in Christ cannot fail. Christ suffered, died, and rose again for all of humanity. Therefore, Christ is the Lord of history, who “is intent on remaking and saving his world, binding up its wounds and setting it right.” This wonderful reality will forever resurrect our fallen human hearts.

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The Plight of Jews in Pakistan

by Chris Gacek

April 10, 2017

There are occasions when a simple act provides tremendous clarity about a much larger situation. Such an event took place last week in Pakistan, a country of approximately 200 million that has had a history of religious freedom violations.

According to our State Department, “[t]he [Pakistani] constitution establishes Islam as the state religion, and requires all provisions of the law to be consistent with Islam.” In fact, the constitution establishes a “Federal Shariat Court” whose Muslim judges “examine and decide whether any law or provision is ‘repugnant to the injunctions of Islam.’” Additionally, Pakistan has draconian “blasphemy” laws that are used to persecute Christians and other religious minorities on fabricated charges. Such laws obviously make free discussion of religious thought about Islam virtually impossible.

Ninety-five percent of Pakistan is Muslim (70 percent Sunni, 25 percent Shia). The remaining five percent is made up of Hindus, Christians, Parsis / Zoroastrians, Bahais, Ahmadi Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Kalasha, Kihals, and Jains. Apparently, there are too few Jews to note statistically. Citizens of Pakistan must register their religious affiliation with the government.

According to a recent report in the Jerusalem Post, a 29-year-old Pakistani man named Fischel Benkald was informed last week that as he had requested, “the religious status in his National Database and Registration Authority profile [would] be changed from Muslim to Jew…” Mr. Benkald is the first Pakistani citizen to be permitted to change his religious status from Muslim to Jew since the 1980s.

Benkald’s birth name was Faisal, and he was raised in Karachi by a Jewish mother and a Muslim father. He was also allowed to assume a Yiddish first name, “Fischel.” The change in religious affiliation was requested three years ago, and might very well have been denied without intervention from forces outside Pakistan. Wilson Chowdry, the chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, plead Benkald’s case with the Pakistani High Commission in London (i.e., the Pakistani embassy to the United Kingdom in London).

The national identity card is critical to all aspects of life for Pakistanis seeking to interact with their government. According to the Post, it “contains one’s name, date of birth, photo, a thumbprint and religion.”

The lack of religious freedom for anyone but Muslims is extreme in Pakistan. Christians are persecuted, but Jews historically received even worse treatment. Anti-Semitism caused Jews to flee the nation after the Israeli War for Independence and that nation’s founding in 1948. It is believed that there were over a thousand Jews in Karachi seventy years ago. Now there are virtually none. Mr. Chowdry told the Post that “hundreds of Jews are now living secretly in Pakistan.”

Apparently, Mr. Benkald did not assert in his application that an outright religious conversion from Islam had taken place. In effect, he claimed that he was in a distinct, exceptional category: “Benkald argue[d] that he never left Islam because he was born to a Jewish mother and therefore ha[d] always been Jewish.” This is true as Jews would define the matter. For whatever reason, the authorities approved his application, but his troubles are far from over.

The Post noted a Fox News story that said “a 2010 Pew survey found that 76 percent of Pakistanis advocate the death penalty for leaving Islam.” Hopefully, he will be left in peace or somehow be able to seek refuge in Israel. That said, a country in which religious conversion holds a significant probability of death or injury is not a country that allows any appreciable religious liberty regardless of any constitutional rhetoric to the contrary.

In any case, one has to greatly admire Mr. Benkald’s amazing bravery while praying for his safety. Western nations who cherish religious freedom, as well as Israel, should keep an eye out for him and his family.

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Gorsuch on International and Foreign Law

by Travis Weber

April 6, 2017

It hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, but Judge Gorsuch’s exchange with Senator Ben Sasse about international and foreign law at his confirmation hearing offers helpful clues that he’d rule properly in this area:

SASSE: As a sitting Supreme Court justice tasked with upholding the U.S. Constitution, is it ever appropriate to cite international law? And if so, why?

GORSUCH: It’s not categorically improper. There are some circumstances when it is not just proper but necessary. You’re interpreting a contract with a choice of law provision that may adopt foreign law. That’s an appropriate time . . .

Treaties sometimes require you to look at international law by their terms. But if we are talking about interpreting the Constitution of the United States, we have our own tradition and own history. And I don’t know why we would look to the experience of other countries rather than to our own . . .

And so as a general matter, Senator, I would say it is improper to look abroad when interpreting the Constitution . . .

Judge Gorsuch is absolutely right. In his answer to Senator Sasse, he has articulated a vision of the Constitution which guards against the surreptitious importation of standards from other countries which have no bearing on our Constitution (but which the Supreme Court has done from time to time).

Meanwhile, he properly admits that a foreign legal standard in a “choice of law” provision may be consulted (in these cases, the parties to the agreement have stipulated that the laws of another country shall be used to adjudicate disputes between them, and it is entirely proper to consult whatever source of foreign law has been stipulated).

He also made proper reference to treaties as a valid source of international law.

International law (laws between nations) is distinct from foreign law (the laws of a foreign nation), as properly understood, only consists of two areas.

The first is the treaty, or agreement between nations. When nations become parties to a treaty, they agree to be bound explicitly by the treaty’s terms. Yet legal activists, as they so often do in the United States with regard to the Constitution, recognize that their preferred radical policies aren’t contained within the treaty, so they twist its terms or use other mechanisms in the international legal order to push their policies, which they try to term as “law.” Yet the fact that they call them law doesn’t make them so. Just as we must guard against activist attempts to read new “rights” into statutes and the Constitution domestically, we must guard against efforts to read them into the text of treaties internationally.

The second area of international law is customary international law, which is defined as a longstanding practice engaged in by a very large number of states who engage in it because they believe they are legally bound to do so. This is a high standard and not much reaches it. But that doesn’t stop activists from trying to claim their radical policies are “customary international law.” Again, just because they say so over and over again doesn’t make it true.

Judge Gorsuch will not be hoodwinked by such shenanigans. He has articulated a limited (and proper) view of international and foreign law which shows he understands the dynamics in this area. Once again, he has shown that he will be a great originalist and is eminently qualified to be confirmed to the Supreme Court.

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Christianity in Iraq Appears Doomed to Extinction

by Chris Gacek

April 4, 2017

The condition of Christianity in the Middle East may now be as imperiled as it has been at almost any time in the last 2,000 years. This is particularly true in Iraq, according to Canon Andrew White, who led St. George’s Church in Baghdad. St. George’s was the only Anglican Church in Iraq before its closure was ordered by the Archbishop of Canterbury in November 2014.

Canon White believes, with considerable justification from public statements made by ISIS and its innumerable acts of rape, torture, and murder, that the terrorist group intends to drive the “infidel” Christians out of the region. Before he fled Iraq over two years ago, White was part of a community of Christians that had decreased from 1.4 million (some thirty years ago), to 1 million when Saddam Hussein was toppled by allied forces in 2003, to a quarter of a million today.

The plight of Jews in Iraq is a sobering foreshadowing of what may happen soon to Christians. The Jewish population has declined cataclysmically since World War II—to essentially nothing. This marks the demise of a people that traced its lineage in Iraq back to the Babylonian Captivity described in the Old Testament after the fall of Jerusalem. A substantial Jewish community lived in that land with great success for two millennia. In 1947, there appear to have been 156,000 Jews in Iraq. Today, there are virtually no Jews in the country—fewer than ten live in Baghdad at present. Thus, complete population extinctions that are not caused by disease can take place.

White described the situation for Christians as follows: “The time has come where it is over, no Christians will be left. Some say Christians should stay to maintain the historical presence, but it has become very difficult. The future for the community is very limited.”

The stories of persecution and killing (in some cases by crucifixion) of Christians to compel their conversion to Islam are commonplace. The level of barbarism can hardly be described with any word other than “demonic.”

Clearly, past tolerance for non-Islamic communities and the older social order has been shattered. Consequently, even if ISIS is destroyed, the Shiite-Iranian dominated groups that will control Iraq in their place do not seem especially friendly to Christians. Ignatius Joseph III Younan, Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church of Antioch, points to a deep intellectual flaw in the nature of Islamic thought as the problem: “totalitarianism based on Islamic creed is the worst among all systems of government.” He goes on to observe that “the very survival of Christians in the cradle of Christianity is quite in danger.”

The United States government is not without some influence in the area. Although nobody seems to know it, the U.S. has over 10,000 service members fighting in Syria and Iraq. However, our foreign policy establishment has made little effort to require protections for religious minorities. The Trump administration must go in a new direction. For example, President al-Sisi of Egypt met President Trump yesterday while Coptic Christians are undergoing severe persecution in Egypt. The United States has sufficient leverage with Egypt regarding military and financial aid to ensure that this persecution is greatly reduced, if not eliminated. Syria and Iraq are more complicated given the anarchy that exists there now, but our government needs to make this a priority. 

There are excellent non-governmental organizations working in Irbil, now part of an inchoate Kurdish homeland, who will gladly work with us to save the ancient populations of Yazidis and Christians. However, for this to happen, we have to give these concerns priority in our foreign policy reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s blending of human rights considerations with traditional diplomatic and military policies. It was a world-changing combination that, if incorporated today, could make Mr. Trump a successful foreign policy president.

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Social Conservative Review - April 3, 2017

by Daniel Hart

April 3, 2017

Dear Friends,

Should Christians retreat from an increasingly hostile culture into supportive enclaves in order to be “a people set apart,” or should believers instead fearlessly engage the culture with the truth in order to bring Christ’s light to the world? This debate has been raging in the blogosphere for quite some time, but recently it has reached a fever pitch following the release of Rod Dreher’s highly anticipated book The Benedict Option, in which the author argues that the church should “embrace exile from mainstream culture and construct a resilient counterculture.”

Among the many passionate and articulate articles that have analyzed this question lately, I found Eric Metaxas’ recent piece to be particularly thought provoking. In it, he points to a new book by Makoto Fujimura called Culture Care to make the observation that Christians should most definitely engage the culture in order to transform it, but should do so not by focusing solely on fighting the culture wars: “I believe even more important for Christians than being on the front lines of the culture war is participating in the culture—and better yet, helping to create and nurture it. If the main contribution that Christians make to culture is complaining about it, we’re doing something wrong.”

Interestingly, Rod Dreher himself would likely agree. In an interview a few weeks ago, he said: “Even if Trump does everything we religious conservatives want him to do, it’s not going to turn the culture around—it’s the culture that we as believers have got to pay closer attention to; it’s not about politics, it’s about culture.”

I would argue that believers should employ a “both/and” approach rather than an “either/or” one. In other words, our engagement should not be framed in terms of either fighting political battles or focusing on the arts. When the time comes to stand for truth by supporting a political cause, there should be no backing down. But just as important is the effort to support good art that can in turn influence culture in a positive way.

Metaxas cites Fujimura’s analogy of a garden to illustrate this point: “His image of a garden is just one of many he draws from nature, to show how we can carefully and patiently help to cultivate that cultural environment and make good things grow in it. So, how do we do this? Fujimura suggests that both Christians and the arts community start by learning to look at each other as potential allies, even friends, instead of as sworn enemies. He asks us to consider investing in cultural works, as we’re able to afford it.”

Metaxas continues: “This isn’t always easy work, but it’s extremely valuable and worthwhile. It requires thoughtful engagement instead of blanket condemnation, and it may call for us to broaden our understanding and deal with ideas that seem unfamiliar and uncomfortable. But from such efforts come moments that he calls ‘generative,’ or ‘life-giving.’ Christians who enjoy and support art and culture, who make it a priority in their lives, and who reach out to those in the arts instead of reflexively pushing them away, can help bring the culture toward a renewed appreciation of goodness, truth, and beauty. And that is good for everyone.”

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

Religious Liberty: An Introduction to Our Freedom to Believe  Travis Weber

During His Hearings, Neil Gorsuch Answered Tough Questions With EaseMandi Ancalle

Gorsuch’s Pro-Life PromiseArina Grossu

Don’t let ‘TrumpCare’ come at the cost of Trump’s pro-life pledgeJeanne Mancini and Tony Perkins

Should Stay-At-Home Moms Be Forced To Work?Peter Witkowski

Boys Need FathersDan Hart

One Year Anniversary of the United States Declaring ISIS’ Actions to be GenocideTravis Weber

The Amish: America’s Fastest Growing Church?Peter Witkowski

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

Justice Alito says country increasingly ‘hostile’ to ‘traditional moral beliefs’David Porter, Chicago Tribune

End Bible classes? West Virginia school seeks to dismiss atheist lawsuitFox News

School Orders Boy to “Tolerate” Undressing with Girl and Make it “Natural”ToddStarnes.com

In Oregon, the left targets an evangelical GOP judgeRalph Z. Hallow, The Washington Times

A Justice Gorsuch will defend religious libertyAmy Vitale, The Hill

International Religious Freedom

To Win Back What We’ve Lost: How Defenders of Religious Freedom Are Fighting to Reclaim International LawBenjamin Bull, Public Discourse

Canada passes motion to silence critics of IslamPete Baklinski, LifeSiteNews

Globalist Illusions and the Folly of Global GovernanceSamuel Gregg, Public Discourse

Military Religious Freedom

Chaplains to Army: Cease training that assaults biblical beliefsChaplain Alliance For Religious Liberty

First Liberty Institute Seeks Justice for Air Force Colonel Targeted for His FaithPenny Starr, Breitbart

 

Life

Abortion

40 Days for Life Prayer Campaigns Have Collectively Saved 13,000 Babies From Abortion – Shawn Carney and David Brando, Life News

California’s Moral Atrocity – Ian Tuttle, National Review

CLOSED: Maryland Planned Parenthood abortion clinic shuts downNancy Flanders, Live Action News

Paul Ryan: Planned Parenthood to be defunded through reconciliationBradford Richardson, The Washington Times

Adoption

First Comes Love, Then Comes AdoptionAaron Menikoff, The Gospel Coalition

Expert talks about the rewards and challenges of international adoptionJon Kelvey, Carroll County Times

Bioethics

Canada Conjoins Euthanasia and Organ HarvestingWesley J. Smith, National Review

Oregon Proposes Outright Legalization of EuthanasiaCullen Herout, Crisis

Handful of Senate Dems help Republicans defeat aid-in-dying billSteve Terrell, The New Mexican

The Demise of Language and the Rise of CloningMichael Wee, Public Discourse

Science For Three-Parent Babies Is Here, But Is It Ethical?Nora Sullivan, The Daily Caller

 

Family

Economics/Education

Family Collapse And Poor Economic Prospects Led To High White Mortality Rate, Study Authors Say – Alex Pfeiffer, The Daily Caller

Lean In’s Biggest Hurdle: What Most Moms Want – Steven E. Rhoads, Family Studies

Marriage

Why the Little Moments in Marriage Matter – Anna Sutherland, Family Studies

Study: Children Born to Married Parents More Likely to Experience Family Stability – Michael Gryboski, The Christian Post

Yesterday’s Love Stories: The Gray Divorce Phenomenon – Rhonda Kruse Nordin, Family Studies

Should stay-at-home moms be outlawed? – Calah Alexander, Aleteia

Faith/Character/Culture

God Will Triumph: A Response to Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option – Rob Schwarzwalder, The Stream

How John Piper’s Seashells Swept Over a Generation – Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, The Gospel Coalition

Are We Living In The Matrix? – Joe Heschmeyer, Word On Fire

The Beauty of Women Will Save the World – Carrie Gress, National Catholic Register

Christians: Stop Fighting the Culture and Start Caring for It – Eric Metaxas, The Christian Post

Human Sexuality

Fertility Awareness-Based Family Planning: Good for Both Body and Soul – Ana Maria Dumitru, Public Discourse

What Is Really Best for Me? Applying the Bible to the Same-Sex-Attracted – Nick Roen, Desiring God

Supreme Incoherence: Transgender Ideology and the End Of Law – Jeff Shafer, First Things

May I Please Speak to My Daddy? – Doug Mainwaring, Public Discourse

Mike Pence’s Wise Family Practices Expose a Deep Divide Over Human Nature – David French, National Review

Blurred Lines: Understanding The Effort To Redefine Gender And Sexuality – B. Christopher Agee, Western Journalism

Human Trafficking

Trafficking Survivors Tell UN: Strengthen Families To Protect Women and GirlsMarianna Orlandi, C-Fam

Pornography

Resources to Protect Your Children from Pornography – Nebraska Family Alliance

Report: Pornography Use Tied to Relationship Dissatisfaction – Thomas D. Williams, Breitbart

4 Problems With Watching Porn You May Not Have Known About – Fight The New Drug

Porn is dangerous … That’s why Arkansas lawmakers are calling it a ‘public health crisis’ – Peter LaBarbera, LifeSiteNews

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