FRC Blog

CNN Publishes a Hatchet Job on Religious Freedom

by Travis Weber

August 10, 2018

Following the announcement of the Department of Justice Religious Liberty Task Force, CNN decided to post a recent piece that horribly mischaracterized what Christians believe about religious freedom. Whatever accuracy the piece contained was drowned out by glaring falsehoods—assertions and conclusions which are not only untrue, but which have now been released into the public discourse to further sow divisiveness and animosity.

Take this statement, for example: “[Sessions] also portrayed religious liberty as the right of religious groups not to be labeled as hate groups even if their beliefs prescribed hate.”

The author didn’t cite a Bible verse or theological position for “hate” because she can’t—it’s not there. So she just claims (falsely) that Christians’ beliefs “prescribe”—or instruct us to engage in—“hate” (whatever that means). In the process, she defended the Southern Poverty Law Center’s arbitrary “hate” list which Sessions was referring to—a hate list on which SPLC unilaterally labels and places FRC and other groups because we hold to unpopular truths about human sexuality, and a list which led to a gunman entering my organization’s headquarters several years ago with a plan to commit mass murder, wounding a security guard in the process. (FRC maintains no such lists of any of our opponents.)

One need only crack the pages of the Bible for a moment to see how false the CNN piece is about Christianity: “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).

Our faith leads us to love all people, which means conveying the truth. They may not like that truth, but their response does not mean we are not acting out of love.

For CNN to relay such falsehoods about Christians only serves to toxify the public square. Those commenting on the religious beliefs of others—like this author—need to get their facts right. If there is one thing Jesus “prescribes,” it is love. The cost of failing to accurately describe the religious beliefs of others is further mistrust and social deterioration. Unfortunately, this piece squarely contributes to that.

As a Christian organization, we not only aim to convey the truth out of love, but we believe no one should be compelled to act against their conscience in matters of faith. All people must be free to choose—or not choose—God. Therefore, we desire to protect religious freedom for all people (regardless of their faith), and applaud Attorney General Sessions’ efforts to protect Hindus and Muslims, for example. As mentioned during the Task Force announcement, the Sessions DOJ recently prosecuted an individual “who set fire to a mosque”—a fact which the CNN op-ed author conveniently left out of her discussion of how the Sessions DOJ approaches religious freedom. 

It is long overdue for CNN and other “mainstream” media to start discussing religious freedom in good faith, examining the facts and applying a dose of honesty with regard to what Christians actually believe about this issue. This would go a long way toward achieving the constructive dialogue necessary to heal our divided nation.

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The Remains of Aborted Babies Are Now a Commodity to the FDA

by Patrina Mosley

August 9, 2018

The FDA has signed a new contract for “fresh” aborted baby parts with Advance Bioscience Resources (ABR)—yes,  the same ABR that came under federal investigation for its role in the baby parts for profit scandal that has engulfed Planned Parenthood.

Undercover footage released by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) exposed the buyer-seller relationship between the abortion industry and fetal tissue procurement companies, which included Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR). The findings were so egregious that it prompted multiple congressional investigations. Part of their investigations showed ABR acting as the middleman—buying baby body parts from abortion clinics and then selling them. Two of their top six buyers were the NIH and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)! ABR would pay Planned Parenthood and other abortion facilities a flat fee of $45 to $60 per baby specimen before turning around to sell the body parts for astronomical prices such as $340 to $550 per specimen. The income tax forms of ABR, a non-profit corporation, report $6.5 million in total revenue for the last five reporting years (2010-2014).

Yet the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 makes it unlawful for the sale of human fetal tissue to be sold for profit!

In 2015 alone, ABR made nearly $80,000 in payments to its top five abortion facilities, which included several Planned Parenthood facilities. Investigations have shown Planned Parenthood officials admitting to falsifying budget items to conceal the fact that they are financially benefiting from the fetal remains of abortions and altering abortion procedures to get more intact baby parts to sell, even while the baby is alive, all without obtaining proper permission from the mother.

Biotech companies like ABR, who had technicians stationed at three of the Planned Parenthood facilities involved, have been complicit in the disregard for human dignity and the law.

This is all done in the name of “science.” When government agencies like the FDA and NIH are so deeply involved in such inhumane and unethical practices, they become normalized in our minds. As a result, reform becomes harder to find, and injustice is perpetuated.

Traditionally, our society has believed that donating one’s body parts should be voluntary in order to prevent the human body from becoming a commodity. Well, now body parts are becoming a commodity. An aborted baby cannot consent to anything because they are dead. The government and the abortion industry are colluding to take advantage of this situation and benefit from one of the most traumatic events a woman can face.

Continuing this type of FDA research does not make us more medically advanced—it instead causes us to devolve into thinking human beings don’t matter, and that the ends justify the means. What is ironic is that this dark business shines a light on the fact that abortion really does take the life of human beings, who are then being used for experimentation.  

This is bad science and does not lead society forward. It instead incentivizes the harvesting of body parts through harmful practices such as late-term abortions and the alteration of abortion methods, which increases the risk to the mother and violates federal law.

The FDA claims that this type of research, which transplants fetal tissue to make humanized mice, can only be done by using aborted babies. In reality, using fetal tissue has yet to solve any medical crisis. Congress has even acknowledged this: “In over 100 years of unrestricted investigation, human fetal tissue research has had ample time to prove useful, yet it has failed to do so.”

Good science is ethical science, and we have seen the blessings of that through the use of adult stem cell therapies, which have already been used to successfully treat at least 73 conditions and over one million patients worldwide. There is no reason we can’t use ethical practices to treat modern humanity’s ailments.

HHS should replace these contracts with traffickers in baby body parts with contracts that reflect ethical and more effective science. As taxpayer-funded entities, the FDA and NIH must be held accountable. Far too many culprits in this baby body part trafficking scheme have gone unchecked. The lives of the unborn demand justice, and America can do better.

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High School Students Enticed into Private Booth for “Queer” Storytelling

by Cathy Ruse

August 8, 2018

LGBT activists are nothing if not creative. Their latest approach involves inviting high school students into, in their words, a “big, gay booth” to talk about sex.

In a recent post on the blog of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the “Beyond Bullying Project” bragged about the success of its latest efforts going into Bay Area public high schools to entice students into private booths to talk about LGBT sexuality.

Our pitch to would-be storytellers was open-ended,” said the project organizers. “Tell a story about yourself, a friend, your family…the story does not even need to be true.”

The project “collects” the stories on audio and videotape, and claims to have spent time in schools in North America, Australia, and New Zealand.

Apparently, participating schools welcome the rainbow-festooned booths, even directing their shop classes to build the “curricular, emotional space” for “queerness.” Schools also invite project organizers to make presentations in class.

Bay Area students assisted in decorating the booths with rainbow paper, lights, boas, and chalk drawings. “Everywhere, it screamed gay,” said the organizers.

Apparently, students “enjoyed the freedom” to leave class to visit the booth.

What an excellent use of education hours and tax dollars!

For some kids, skipping class was not motivation enough to enter the booth.

The team recognized that approaching a big, gay booth might be a social risk for some students and teachers so we offered them alibis to account for their interest,” the blog continued.

Outside the booth…we placed bowls of granola bars or chocolates, flyers announcing pizza lunches…iTunes gift cards and an iPod touch that we would raffle off at the end of our two weeks at the school.”

For every story a student told, they received a raffle ticket for the iPod.”

Together, these incentives provided enough cover to allow storytellers to enter the booth without inviting too many questions about their interest.”

Apparently, not all students were thrilled with the presence of the booth. Organizers admit that some “seemed to deliberately alter their path through the school so as to avoid meeting our invitations to step inside.”

How difficult to be a student today, tossed about in a sea of cultural Marxism. My heart goes out to them. Now more than ever, they need the solid ground of strong families, strong faith, and strong friendship.

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The Transgender Movement Just Pushes People Too Far

by Cathy Ruse

August 6, 2018

When I read this column by Rafael Castro, I was reminded of other people who reluctantly supported same-sex marriage in order to “get the issue behind us.” They, like he, must feel betrayed and angry. The T in LGBT is a ticking time bomb that could sabotage the activists’ whole operation:

As a religious conservative living in a liberal city – Berlin – I was torn between loyalty to tradition and respect for individual freedoms on the issue of gay marriages. What eventually swayed me to support gay organizations in this field was the argument that alternative definitions for marriages are a human right.

I thus sided with the LGBT liberation movement with the hope that once such marriages were legal, the issue would be behind us and the energies exhausted in this fractious debate would be channeled to fight far more serious abuses of human rights in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

These expectations have been bitterly disappointed. To the best of my knowledge the LGBT lobby has done next to nothing in order to help gays and lesbians who are whipped and stoned in nations like Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Instead of championing genuine human rights it has promoted the issue of transsexuality, blowing it out of all proportion, and has declared war on our historical and science-based understanding of sex and gender.

In its obsession for blurring all gender differences it is pressuring the academic and culture establishments to erase any awareness of gender differences from the youngest of children and harassing any person who refuses to endorse this gender ideology. In addition, it has even encouraged voices demanding that incest, polygamy and pedophilia be normalized in our societies.

In other words, I supported same-sex marriage rights with the understanding that I was contributing to defend human rights. Instead my support has been exploited by the sexual liberation movement to undermine the values and paradigms that give society its bearings and guidance to minors who are vulnerable in their development.

I feel betrayed and angry. From now on I will fight every progressive social cause, regardless of the language used to market it. It is evident that today’s progressives are more interested in dismantling Western society than in repairing its relatively minor flaws.

Looking back, I see that same-sex civil unions gave homosexuals all the legal and fiscal rights they needed . These civil unions respected the rights of all parties, without encouraging extremists to assault heteronormativity and bi-genderism. That’s how things should remain.

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Social Conservative Review - August 3, 2018

by Daniel Hart

August 3, 2018

Dear Friends,

We are now in the month of August, the time of the year that seems to be a kind of buffer between the season of vacations and weddings and the season when school and Congress begin work in earnest again in September. Generally speaking, August is when life seems to slow down a bit. Offices are a little emptier, the summer heat is a bit more intense, and there’s a few more stretches of time to spend in leisure.

But what is “leisure”? Most of us tend to think of it in terms of watching a movie or playing a board game. But as John Cuddeback writes, there is an important distinction between leisure and amusement:

Amusement refers to those activities we do because they are fun, or diverting, or simply relaxing. We play a game, ride a bike, go out on a boat, or watch a movie. We enjoy these activities even while they have no obvious product or utility.

Leisure refers to activities that are more serious: we have a deep conversation, we lie on our backs observing the stars, we listen to great music. We contemplate deeper things, we worship God.

Amusement and leisure share a common element: they are not work. But this similarity points to their fundamental difference. At the end of the day, amusement is less important than work, and it takes its immediate meaning from the fact that it serves work, by refreshing us to go back to our labors.

Leisure on the other hand is served by our work. It provides the ultimate meaning and justification for human work.

As we take vacations and spend time away from the office during this season, let’s remember to not only have fun and unwind, but to also spend some quality time in authentic leisure in order to renew our intellects and souls for the work God is calling us to accomplish.

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

Ominous Court Ruling Allows Discrimination Against Christian Adoption Provider – Travis Weber

With State Department Ministerial, Trump Administration Signals Seriousness on Religious Freedom – Travis Weber

Why It’s Impossible To Support Both #MeToo And Planned Parenthood Without Being A Big Hypocrite – Patrina Mosley

Unleashing America’s Entrepreneurial Spirit – Ken Blackwell

Nikki Haley’s Great Advice on Resurrecting Civil Discourse – Spenser White

Transgender “Revolution” is Really an Elitist Diktat – Cathy Ruse

DOJ Announces Timely Religious Liberty Initiative – Travis Weber

RNC: Schools Must Get a “Yes” from Parents Before Teaching Radical Sex Ed – Cathy Ruse

The Lies of Access and Autonomy – Hannah Borchers

Ohio House Bill 658: Parental Rights are Good for Children – Madeleine Lucas

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

Town Orders Family to Stop Hosting Bible Studies on Farm – ToddStarnes.com

These 6 Cases Show How Brett Kavanaugh Might Rule on Religious Freedom – Fred Lucas, The Daily Signal

School District Threatens to Call Police After Mystery Person Gives Out Free Bibles on Campus – Will Maule, CBN News

Muslim Who Squeezed $3M Out of SPLC for Calling Him an Anti-Muslim Extremist Says Others Also Wrongly Labeled – Jeremiah Poff, The Daily Signal

Christian club rejects University of Iowa’s mandate to accept LGBT leaders – Calvin Freiburger, LifeSiteNews

Atheist Group Sues West Virginia City for Reciting Lord’s Prayer at Meetings – Michael Gryboski, The Christian Post

International Religious Freedom

Religious persecution in Iran, China must end now – Mike Pompeo, USA Today

American Pastor Brunson Moved from Prison to House Arrest in Turkey – Benjamin Gill, CBN News

China Detaining Over 1 Million Muslims in Concentration Camps but the World Is Silent, Believer Says – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post

Victims of Religious Persecution Tell Their Stories at International Conference in DC – Katherine Rohloff, The Daily Signal

Trinity Western and the Endangerment of Religious Pluralism in Canada – Derek Ross, Public Discourse

US Tells Iraqi Christians Help Is on Its Way (For Real This Time) – Kate Shellnutt, Christianity Today

Military Religious Freedom

Air Force surrenders to demand to replace Bible with generic ‘book of faith’ on POW/MIA table – Todd Starnes, Fox News

 

Life

Abortion

When Arguments Fail, What Do Pro-Lifers Do? – Liberty McArtor, The Stream

Pushing the abortion pill on college campuses is dangerous to women – Kristi Burton Brown, Live Action

Amazing new video illustrates humanity of preborn baby in womb – Calvin Freiburger, LifeSiteNews

7th Circuit strikes down Indiana abortion ultrasound law – Dave Stafford, The Indiana Lawyer

Planned Parenthood opening 14 new facilities in ‘deep red’ states – Claire Chretien, LifeSiteNews

The Tyranny of Reproductive “Justice” – Regis Nicoll, Crisis

Adoption

Should Kinship Care Be the Default Option for Kids in Foster Care? – Naomi Schaefer Riley, Family Studies

Welcoming an Adopted Baby Home Is Both Beautiful and Challenging — And Here’s Why We Need to Talk About It – Marianne Garvey, Bravo

Bioethics

Children Are Now Being Euthanized in Belgium – Michael Cook, Intellectual Takeout

Who gets the embryos? Whoever wants to make them into babies, new law says – Ariana Eunjung Cha, The Washington Post

Thousands of Euthanasia Killings in Canada – Wesley J. Smith, National Review

UK horror: Patients in ‘vegetative state’ can now be killed without consent – Cassy Fiano-Chesser, Live Action

What does the Bible teach about euthanasia and physician assisted suicide? – Mary Wurster, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

 

Family

Marriage

We All Marry the Wrong Person – Erin Smalley, Focus on the Family

Words of Wisdom on a Silver Anniversary – Michelle Malkin, National Review

Children of divorcing parents want more information and more say in what happens, study finds – Angus Randall, ABC News

Single Sailors Think Navy Hinders Likelihood of Marriage, Survey Says – Brock Vergakis, The Virginian-Pilot

Our Fixer-Upper Marriage – Stephanie Reeves, Family Life

God remembers the barren, and so should the church – Jenn Hesse, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Parenting

What Are Your Child’s Passions? – Dennis Prager, The Stream

Podcast: Parenting through the hard seasons – Nancy Guthrie, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

The Genetics of Parenting – Robert VerBruggen, Family Studies

I Love Being Their Mother – Jess Hunt, Her View From Home

Economics/Education

Parents… Deserve the Right to Know’: RNC Passes ‘Parents’ Rights’ Sex Ed Resolution – Mark Martin, CBN News

In Search of Family Time – Amber Lapp, Family Studies

Free-Market Policies Make the Most of the Sharing Economy – Anthony B. Kim, The Daily Signal

Family Instability in Childhood Affects American Adults’ Economic Mobility – Paola Scommegna, Population Reference Bureau

Faith/Character/Culture

Why Gratitude Is So Good for You (and for Those Around You) – Richard Gunderman, Intellectual Takeout

The family that prays together … feels connected, unified and bonded with less relational tension – Jon McBride, BYU News

Living a Life of Purpose: An Interview with Michelle Singletary – Alysse ElHage, Family Studies

Human Sexuality

The Beauty of Complementarity Goes Beyond Gender – Brett McCracken, The Gospel Coalition

What #MeToo and Hooking Up Teach Us About The Meaning of Sex – Elizabeth Schlueter and Nathan Schlueter, Public Discourse

Thinking Deeply about Christian Love: Same-Sex Attraction, Sin, and Spiritual Friendship – Ron Belgau, Public Discourse

Why ordinary people disregard the transgender movement as utterly insane – Jonathon Van Maren, LifeSiteNews

Religious Male Students Less Sexually Aggressive, Coercive, Study Finds – Anugrah Kumar, The Christian Post

Study finds health risks for transgender women on hormone therapy – Avichai Scher, NBC News

Human Trafficking

The Porn Industry and Human Trafficking Reinforce Each Other – Marlo Safi, National Review

A Need for Child Safeguarding Policies – Lana Lichfield, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Pornography

Americans Are Rapidly Warming Up to Porn, a New Gallup Poll Shows. Here’s Why – Jon Miltimore, Intellectual Takeout

How Our More Permissive Attitudes Toward Porn May Impact Marriage – Alysse ElHage, Family Studies

Pornography is First Boom in Virtual Reality – Brynne Townley, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

 

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Nikki Haley’s Great Advice on Resurrecting Civil Discourse

by Spenser White

August 2, 2018

Our republic has a problem. Commentators have commented on it, pundits have pontificated on it—it could be the death of our society. What is this issue that could destroy our country? It is, simply, the death of civil discourse. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has been the most recent leader to address this societal problem.

Since her appointment, Ambassador Haley has become a conservative “rock star” for her stunning speeches on the UN floor. At an event at The Heritage Foundation this month, the Ambassador called the UN Human Rights Council, a council which currently includes egregious human rights violators Iran and the Congo, a “cesspool of political bias.” She has defended Israel—America’s main ally in the Middle East—countless times against its detractors in the UN.

Now Ambassador Haley is advising conservatives on their approach to debating and discussing ideas with those who may disagree. In a recent speech to a group of conservative high schoolers at the Turning Point USA conference at George Washington University, she commented on a recent trend by young people on social media: “Raise your hand if you’ve ever posted anything online to quote-unquote ‘own the libs.’” For those not up-to-date with modern slang, in this context, to “own” someone is to render them unable to reasonably reply to a sarcastic statement or zinger.

Quite a few students raised their hands and a few cheered. The ambassador then explained her view of the tactic: “I know that it’s fun and that it can feel good, but step back and think about what you’re accomplishing when you do this—are you persuading anyone? Who are you persuading? We’ve all been guilty of it at some point or another, but this kind of speech isn’t leadership—it’s the exact opposite.” Instead, Ambassador Haley offered her own definition of leadership: “Real leadership is about persuasion, it’s about movement, it’s bringing people around to your point of view. Not by shouting them down, but by showing them how it is in their best interest to see things the way you do.”

Ambassador Haley’s words line up perfectly with what Scripture says (which is not surprising, as she is a Christian). In the book of Proverbs, Solomon advises his son that “A gentle answer turns away wrath.” He then warns that the opposite, “harsh words,” only “stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). Peter writes to his readers that they should “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” and to “do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

The fundamental issue here is how we conduct discourse. Disagreements should never become merely a platform for “zingers” in and of themselves. When one or both sides resort to name calling and/or mocking their opponent rather than using reason to persuade, nothing of any value is accomplished. For example, suppose a conservative (or liberal) posts a political statement on Facebook or another social media platform, and a commenter on the other side of the aisle replies nastily to the post. The original poster has three options: not replying, replying with the same amount of ire, or replying with the purpose of persuasion. If the poster replies with “gentleness and respect,” there is a good chance that their original argument will get a fair hearing. Obviously, civil discourse needs two participants, and the commenter may not comply, but Scripture demands that we at least try to respectfully persuade our opponents.

If our culture really is coming apart at the seams, as some commentators are bemoaning, then conservatives adding to the cacophony of empty rhetoric will certainly not aid in tamping down the culture war vitriol. If conservatives are correct, than we should be comfortable voicing our opinions reasonably. At the end of the day, resorting to “owning” our opponents with one liners and zingers will not convince anyone of the rightness of our side. Let us resurrect civil discourse for the future our of country.

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Transgender “Revolution” is Really an Elitist Diktat

by Cathy Ruse

August 1, 2018

I commend Jonathon Van Maren’s recent column, “Why Ordinary People Regard the Transgender Movement as Utterly Insane.”

Van Maren points out that the cultural “revolutions” of today—and especially the transgender revolution—are not revolutions at all. “Revolution” suggests an uprising by the people to overthrow an oppressive government or elite class.

But the transgender “revolutionaries” are, themselves, the elitists. And they push their agenda primarily from the top down. Van Maren writes:

Progressive politicians, select academics, and cowed journalists might accept the ideologies of gender-fluidity, but the average working man and woman still find much of this stuff to be insane when they are confronted with the beliefs and implications of gender fluidity. 

These ideas are being imposed on us, not demanded by us. Trans activists are demanding that the people accept their ideas. Trans activists claim that they are championing a new understanding of gender, but it is as of yet largely confined to the elites. They say that language evolves, and that trans pronouns will be ubiquitous in no time—but not even their political allies know most of these recently invented words. Despite the lighting-fast speed at which their cultural revolution has progressed, trans activists have not actually accomplished much at the grassroots level.

I suspect they know this, which is why they try so hard to force their ideologies into the schools, where they can indoctrinate the children of the working class men and women who have far too much common sense to accept their ridiculous ideas. As always, this battle will boil down to a fight for the hearts and minds of the next generation.

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DOJ Announces Timely Religious Liberty Initiative

by Travis Weber

July 31, 2018

Speaking at the Department of Justice yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of a “Religious Liberty Task Force” to ensure the DOJ fully implements President Trump’s Religious Liberty Executive Order from May 4, 2017, and the follow-on DOJ religious liberty guidance issued on October 6, 2017.

The task force will ensure that the October 6 guidance fully affects all DOJ policy, such as what cases are taken, what arguments are made in court, and how DOJ personnel conduct themselves. Dialogue between DOJ and religious groups will remain ongoing, and DOJ employees will be trained in “their duties to accommodate people of faith.”

This is a welcome announcement, and further indicates the priority given to religious liberty by the Trump administration and his Department of Justice. 

Sessions’ opening remarks were encouraging. He discussed the cases of religious objectors such as the Little Sisters of the Poor (subjected to a legal battle to not be coerced into providing contraception against their consciences), and baker Jack Phillips (who didn’t want to create a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding), mentioning Jack’s recent vindication in the Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop decision and DOJ’s decision to file an amicus brief on his behalf. The Attorney General also mentioned he was filing a brief defending the ministerial housing allowance in an ongoing case, and discussed his department’s work to defend churches, synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship. Discussing the increasingly hostile social climate, Sessions criticized the anti-religious remarks certain senators made during recent judicial confirmation hearings, and tacitly but clearly noted the Southern Poverty Law Center’s toxic approach to public discourse:

We have gotten to the point where courts have held that morality cannot be a basis for law; where ministers are fearful to affirm, as they understand it, holy writ from the pulpit; and where one group can actively target religious groups by labeling them a “hate group” on the basis of their sincerely held religious beliefs. (emphasis mine)

Next, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville argued eloquently for religious liberty, noting it is derived from and must be protected consistent with human dignity. Kurtz cited the example of faith-based adoption providers, who are buttressing already-strained government foster and adoption care systems, being targeted for living out their belief that children need a mother and a father. As an example of the contributions of such groups, he mentioned an organization named “The Call” which places up to half of all adopted children in Arkansas into families. Such religious organizations do their work quietly and resolutely day after day, and many are not even aware of the value they contribute to the common good. This is real public service, and these organizations must remain free to operate according to their beliefs. 

Other panelists at the event, including the Heritage Foundation’s Emilie Kao, addressed the religious liberty threat of governmental authorities enforcing their own sexual orthodoxy on religious believers. Professor Michael McConnell of Stanford Law School (formerly a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit) discussed oft-used arguments that religious liberty can’t be tolerated when it causes “harm” to “third parties.” As Judge McConnell noted, however, there is always someone else who is affected by the protection of a legal claim to religious liberty—whether a government body, other group, or an individual. This is not a new concept. The fact that the law will always tangibly impact someone, combined with our historic reasons for religious liberty (the necessity of ensuring the government does not get in the way of humans being able to fulfil the responsibilities they owe to God), is the very reason the Founders put the First Amendment in the Constitution to begin with!

Introducing closing speaker Senator James Lankford, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein commented on the positive contribution of religious freedom to a society, and noted Senator Lankford’s defense of Judge Amy Barrett, who came under fire for her faith when being confirmed by the Senate to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Senator Lankford’s closing remarks powerfully explained the importance of all people being free to practice their beliefs. He mentioned the legal battle of Coach Kennedy as he sought to pray on the high school football field (something which shouldn’t be controversial), then forayed into international religious liberty issues such as China and Russia’s suppressions of religious freedom (citing a USCIRF report), as well as India’s anti-religious freedom laws. Lankford also addressed Turkey’s ongoing detention of Pastor Andrew Brunson, as well as the importance of Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback’s work. 

We have to set an example of religious freedom at home if we are going to argue for it overseas, Lankford rightly noted. He mentioned we must do better to protect the religious freedom of military chaplains, the need for legislation like the Conscience Protection Act and Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, and the importance of fixing the Johnson Amendment due to its chilling effect on religious speech. We must do religious freedom well (protecting the right for all faiths) at home to successfully promote it abroad. When it comes to religious freedom, we must show the world we walk the walk if we want to talk the talk. 

At home or abroad, as Lankford noted, religious freedom includes a robust defense of all people being able to robustly practice their faith in the public square. When this vision of religious liberty is legally protected, the battle will be one of ideas instead of a battle in the courts (or subjugation to governmental suppression of ideas).

An open marketplace of religious ideas should be something all Americans can agree upon. We encourage DOJ in its effort to ensure this marketplace remains open.

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RNC: Schools Must Get a “Yes” from Parents Before Teaching Radical Sex Ed

by Cathy Ruse

July 26, 2018

Last week at the Republican National Committee’s Summer meeting in Texas, the nation’s parents were finally given the respect they deserve. A resolution requiring parents’ prior written consent for sex ed passed unanimously.

Offered by Virginia Committeewoman Cynthia Dunbar, the resolution (full text below) states the fundamental principle that no school should expose a child to sexual material without prior written consent from his parents. The resolution encourages legislatures to pass laws to this effect.

Who would disagree with this? Well, many school districts fight against having to get parents’ permission for their increasingly graphic, age-inappropriate, controversial sexuality education. Even at the RNC there was pushback in the Resolutions Committee, which passed it out of committee by a vote of 5-2 before a unanimous vote in the full body.

Committeewoman Dunbar said she was thrilled that it passed. “This should not be a partisan issue. Parents everywhere deserve the right to know what their children are being taught, and afforded an opportunity to consent to it.”

This is an important paradigm shift in the Sex Ed Wars. The ultimate goal, of course, is to correct the controversial, age-inappropriate, needlessly graphic content in so many sex ed programs, and to shift from a sexual risk reduction to sexual risk avoidance education model. Instead of encouraging risky sexual behavior, teens should be taught age-appropriate messages that encourage them to avoid sexually risky behavior, just as they are taught to avoid alcohol and drug use, and other risky behaviors. Until then, it is important to establish the fundamental premise that children should not be exposed to controversial sexual material without their parents’ prior consent.

As it is, too many school districts assume consent on the part of parents, automatically enrolling their children in sexually-graphic lessons unless parents take steps to make them to stop, often via an “opt out” form. 

But the “opt out” form has long lost its use; it is completely inadequate for today’s radical sex ed.

Leftist school boards routinely use the “opt out” to shield themselves from criticism (“don’t blame us, you can always opt out”) and as a sword against concerned parents (“since only X number of parents opt out, that means most families agree with us!”).  

In reality, parents have no idea the poison schools are pouring down their kids throats. What’s worse, schools mislead parents about the true content of their sex ed lessons. Many comprehensive sex ed courses that encourage risky behavior even employ abstinence messaging to hide the majority of their curriculum. A lesson labeled “abstinence” in the Fairfax County curriculum, for example, is not really about abstinence at all – it tells kids to refrain from sex until their next steady sex partner. Another labeled “Middle School Changes” is about encouraging children to consider LGBT orientation and identity.

The sheer amount of material is daunting. In Fairfax County, there are more than 80 hours of sex lessons for every child – imagine the mountain of lesson scripts, slides, and videos a parent has to review to make an informed and educated decision about whether to opt out.

Opt out” allows school boards to take advantage of parents, especially working parents, single parents, recent immigrant parents. How many parents expect their school to give their son a lesson with 18 mentions of “anal sex,” suggest to their daughter that she might have been born in the wrong body, talk about oral sex with their 12-year old, or recommend daily sex drugs for their high schooler to support a lifestyle of multiple sex partners of unknown HIV status? As I say, parents have no idea what their schools are teaching; they trust their local schools, and schools take advantage of that trust. Teaching kids to engage in risky sexual behavior not only fails to reduce the negative consequences of such behavior, but to do so without their parents’ informed consent is downright wicked.

Prior written consent respects parents. “Opt out” says: Catch us if you can! 

Forty years ago, when Sex Ed was 2 hours in 6th grade on the basics of human development and reproduction, an “opt out” procedure might have made some sense. Today it is woefully inadequate.

This is why the resolution passed in Texas is so important. It shifts the burden away from parents having to say “no,” to schools having to get a written parental “yes”! 

Parents and children deserve no less.

RESOLUTION PROTECTING STUDENTS FROM EXPOSURE TO POTENTIALLY UNSUITABLE CONTENT BY SUPPORTING A PARENT’S RIGHT TO GRANT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT FOR SEX EDUCATION

WHEREAS, parents are a child’s first and foremost educators, and have primary responsibility for the education of their children. Parents have a right to direct their children’s education, care, and upbringing;1

WHEREAS, education is much more than schooling. Education is the whole range of activities by which families and communities transmit to a younger generation, not just knowledge and skills, but ethical and behavioral norms and traditions. It is the handing over of a cultural identity; 2

WHEREAS, American education has, for the last several decades, been the focus of constant controversy, as centralizing forces from outside the family and community have sought to remake education in order to remake America. This has done immense damage;3

WHEREAS, school administrators routinely ask parents for their prior written permission for students to participate in various school-related instruction and activities, including, but not limited to: field trips, sports, and distribution of medicine;

WHEREAS, parents and their students should be afforded the same respect with regard to the increasingly sensitive and controversial nature of human sexuality instruction;

WHEREAS, much of the content in human sexuality instruction centers on contentious and sensitive issues, including but not limited to: abortion, birth control, sexual activity, sexual orientation, transgenderism, and/or gender identity;

WHEREAS, the content often includes a personal analysis or survey that reflects or influences the student’s opinions on sensitive topics such as religious beliefs and practices, sexual orientation, and/or sexual activity;

WHEREAS, most states grant an obscenity exemption that allows content that would otherwise be deemed harmful to minors to be disseminated for educational purposes, creating the potential for inappropriate content to be included within human sexuality instruction;

WHEREAS, such information, content, or ideology is most appropriately placed within the discretion of the parents or guardians;

WHEREAS, the current opt-out paradigm assumes parental consent to student participation, allowing schools to automatically enroll students in potentially explicit, sensitive, and/or controversial human sexuality instruction without prior written permission;

WHEREAS, human sexuality instruction frequently places the wishes and concerns of the parents and/or guardians at odds with those of the school district; and

WHEREAS, the wishes and concerns of the parents and/or guardians are preeminent to those of the School District and should be acknowledged by simply affording parents and/or guardians the right to grant permission for such instruction; therefore

RESOLVED, that public schools must disclose the content contained within human sexuality instruction to the parents and/or guardians of all unemancipated students and shall only enroll those students whose parents and/or guardians provide prior written permission to opt their student into human sexuality instruction;

RESOLVED, that the default shall be that no human sexuality instruction shall be provided to any student not yet emancipated without prior written consent from their parent and/or guardian, making an opt-out default an insufficient protection for either the safety of the student or the rights of the parent;

RESOLVED, that all state legislatures are encouraged to enact legislation that implements these notices and safeguards to protect students from exposure to potentially inappropriate and salacious content and to acknowledge the right of the parents and/or guardians to direct their children’s education, care, and upbringing, including their right to protect them from exposure to content they find unsuitable.

Adopted by the Republican National Committee, _______________________ 

1 Platform of the Republican Party, Issued by the Republican National Committee, page 33 (2016, Cleveland, Ohio).

2 Id.

3 Id. 

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The Lies of Access and Autonomy

by Hannah Borchers

July 25, 2018

 

Everyone has heard of the Sears Catalog. It was most likely a staple in every American home in the 1950’s, but Sears did not span the nation from the beginning. Originally, the brand operated primarily in exclusive store locations. Those in rural areas were forced to drive into the city to shop, that is until the start of the Sears Catalog. The company’s sales increased fivefold in the first year alone—it was a raging success. Soon, farmers were having packages dropped on their doorstep and the delivery system has not stopped evolving since.

It seems that everyone is now doing delivery—even abortion pills can be brought to you in the comfort of your home. It’s called telemedicine, and women can now have their abortion in the comfort of their own home without the oversight of a medically qualified physician. A medication first provided under strict physician surveillance is now being prescribed over computers and telephones for autonomous use. For the abortion industry, this is a victory. The feat is touted as an expansion of access and autonomy, but in the statement, they forget the other tenets of non-maleficence (do no harm) and beneficence (active good). It also distracts from the true intentions of reducing medical abortion protocol.

For example, when Sears created their famous catalog and initiated home delivery, it was not with the modest intentions of making farmer’s lives easier. They wanted more money and increased sales, and delivery was the perfect route to expand. Medical abortion has taken the same approach, and from a business perspective, it should be applauded. However, from the standpoint of safety and good, it directly contradicts medical ethics and its supposed “respect” for women.

The move to expand medical abortion access targets rural communities. This seems like a novel idea with heroic intentions. But the original protocols for medically induced abortions are being disregarded without any substantial medical research. It has even been stated by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that “medical termination should not be performed in an isolated or an inaccessible setting which lacks ready access to suitable emergency care from administration of mifepristone until termination of pregnancy is complete.” This is due to the complications requiring surgical interventions that accompany medical abortions: 19.3 percent at <9 weeks, 15.5 percent at 11–12 weeks and 44.8 percent at >13 weeks. The health risks for infection only increase in rural areas, as seen in a Nepal study where 52 percent of women had high-grade complications and 11 percent died. A Latin America study also revealed that pain is a large part of the process with “seven out of 10 women requiring analgesics,” due to “severe pain and prolonged bleeding.” However, despite the dangers of induced abortions in rural areas, telemedicine and telehealth continue to encourage the “self-procedure.”

While medical abortions may seem to be only a fraction of abortion statistics, the movement has been grossly underestimated. According to the Guttmacher Institute, medication abortions accounted for 31 percent of all nonhospital abortions in 2014, and for 45 percent of abortions before nine weeks’ gestation. Within that 31 percent, patients 20-24 years of age constitute 34 percent, patients 24-29 constitute 27 percent, and adolescents constitute 12 percent. More recently, the United Kingdom Department of Health noted that in 2016, 72 percent of abortions under 10 weeks were medical abortions. 

The reality is that this move for radical access and autonomy is not medical care, it is business exploitation, which will only result in more complications. Every medical procedure and prescribed medication have specific protocols for a reason. Access may seem ideal, but operations are not performed in living rooms for the sake of convenience. Autonomy may sound noble, but this does not mean patients perform the operations themselves. If we truly cared about the well-being of women, we would not ignore protocol for the sake of business.

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