Month Archives: December 2012

The Fool Says in His Heart…”

by Peter Sprigg

December 21, 2012
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” – Psalm 14:1a (NIV)

While many people who seldom attend church will show up at Christmas and join in singing sacred hymns, there is at least one Grinch who sits on the Montana Supreme Court.

On December 17, the court ruled (on narrow grounds) against same-sex couples who were seeking marital benefits. Justice James C. Nelson wrote a long and polemical dissent. Toward the end, he opined that “the sexual-orientation taboo … will die because of education, science, and changing social mores….” Footnoting the word “science,” he wrote this at the bottom of the page:

Indeed, with every advancement in science, religion loses ground. The more humans learn and understand about the laws that actually control the universe, the less is their need to rely on gods, miracles, and myths to explain that which they do not understand.

While I have read many judicial opinions that expressed hostility to public expressions of religious faith, I have never seen one express such overt hostility to religion itself.

Fortunately, Justice Nelson is retiring. Perhaps, this Christmas, you might say a prayer for him.

Welcome the Little Children

by Anna Higgins

December 21, 2012

Recently, Dr. Russell Moore visited FRCto present a lecture on adoption. He reminded us of a very important adoption story we often fail to consider – the adoption of Jesus by his earthly father, Joseph. He recounted the verse in James that tells us that true religion is caring for orphans and widows in their distress (James 1:27). Joseph made a choice to put that true religion into practice when he decided to care for and protect Mary and her son, Jesus.

The Bible records two lineages of Jesus, one from Mary and one from Joseph. Thus, Jesus became Joseph’s actual son, just like every child who is adopted today becomes the true child of the parents who adopt him. As Dr. Moore stated, adoption creates a real relationship. As Christians we should fully understand the vital role of adoption, as we were adopted into God’s family through Christ, so that we who were orphans in need of rescue now call God, “Father” (Romans 8:15).

The kingdom of God is made up of childlike faith (Luke18:16). It is of vital importance to the furtherance of the kingdom of God that we welcome children, as Dr. Moore reminded us, as blessings, not burdens.

Today, I came across a post on Life News from Ryan Bomberger, founder of The Radiance Foundation, which illustrated the beauty of welcoming children in the name of Jesus.

I Like Giving, a new website dedicated to the idea of recognizing need and responding by acting generously (“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7), recently posted a video about a family, the Dennehy’s, with 9 adopted children from all over the world. The video, called “I Like Adoption,” features all 9 children, some of whom have special needs, and the parents discussing the concepts of family, love, and treating children as blessings. As Bomberger attests in his article, “I can’t imagine someone not being moved to introspection and action after watching this short film about the gift of family. It speaks to the heart without offense.” This video has the unique capacity to convey in just a few minutes the truth and worthiness of the Gospel. As one son sings a moving rendition of “How He Loves Us” (David Crowder Band), the love of Jesus for all people, no matter their age or circumstance, is conveyed more eloquently than can be described.

As we approach the day we have set aside to celebrate the greatest Gift ever given, we remember that this Gift was given in the form of a child. May we have renewed joy and hope in the remembrance that while we were orphans, Christ came to save us. We have been adopted and are now sons and daughters of the Most High God!

With this good news in your heart, prayerfully consider how you can welcome children with the love of Jesus this year. Begin by purposefully treating all individuals, as imperfect as they may be, as blessings – uniquely created to be loved and treasured. Spread the word about the blessing of adoption and support families who adopt. Throughout the New Year and beyond, I pray that we daily grasp the importance of welcoming, loving, and protecting these little ones that God has entrusted to us.

Nobel Laureate Promotes Human Cloning

by David Prentice

December 21, 2012

Nobel Laureate John Gurdon of the U.K. has come out in support of human cloning. Gurdon was one of this year’s winners of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, along with Shinya Yamanaka of Japan. Yamanaka showed that normal adult cells could be reprogrammed back to an early stem cell state, which he termed “induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells”. Gurdon’s work involved reprogramming by creating a new, cloned embryo. Gurdon was the first to show that cloning of vertebrates was possible, publishing his initial paper on the cloning of frogs in 1962.

In giving his support for human cloning, Gurdon did admit that there were still some problems with the cloning technique:

“Major improvements in cloning methods would have to be made before they could be applied to humans because the vast majority of cloned animal embryos today are deformed.”

Indeed. In fact, there would need to be many thousands of human cloned embryos created and destroyed for such improvements, using the cloned humans for experiments. Gurdon sees the replacement of a deceased human child as one application of human cloning, essentially viewing children as mere commodities. While he does admit there would be a host of ethical problems, Gurdon thinks “people would soon overcome their concerns if the technique became medically useful.”

Wesley Smith has some additional thoughts on his blog worth reading, regarding Gurdon’s proposal.

Thank you and goodnight, Judge Bork

by Jessica Prol

December 20, 2012

Yesterday, a conservative icon and one of the brightest legal scholars met his Maker.

Judge Robert Bork died on Dec. 19 at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington County of complications from heart disease. He was 85.

He has been lauded by the conservative think-world as a titan in the legal field, generous with both his time and wisdom.

I never met Mr. Bork in person, but I met his mind and his books at the rather tender age of 14 years. I credit (and teasingly blame) my thoughtful father—who doubled as my history teacher. Dad planted the seeds of political curiosity and nurtured them with his ”you-go-girl” encouragement.

What started as an 8th grade class assignment—writing letters to one’s Congressman—led to a larger adventure. I admit to sifting through Slouching Towards Gomorrah and The Tempting of America in search of good footnote-able quotes (as any junior high student is wont to do). What emerged? A rather passionate and precocious letter to Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen sharing my concern about judicial activism.

The Lutheran Brotherhood plucked my letter out of its pile and invited me to Washington, DC as their New Jersey representative in the RespecTeen National Youth Forum. I made my debut on the talk-show circuit, on the O’Reilly Factor—a rather twiggy girl, trembling behind a large pair of glasses. Mr. O’Reilly was rather nice to me and told me that if they didn’t listen to me in Washington, I should let him know.

You’ll have to take my word for it, because my VHS copy of the segment has been mercifully misplaced amid the family archives. I do, however, live with the mild anxiety that some “friend,” somewhere, will produce said clip at a distinctly inopportune moment. For any such creative folks reading this post: this should not be construed as a dare.

My precocious advocacy slowed down a bit—and most people in my life breathed a sigh of relief. But the little seeds did grow into something larger. By 2005, I was a Witherspoon Fellow, reflecting on how judicial temperament mattered, when reviewing the nomination of John Roberts for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court: “Judicial Activism and Suggestions for Senators.”

In the ensuing few years, I served three members of Congress: Rep. Jim Ryun (KS-2), Rep. Bill Sali (ID-01), and Rep. Bob Inglis (SC-04). Ironically, I became the Hill staffer who took the meetings with the next generation of junior constituent advocates. I had to break through my own cynicism about the political process (no, the Congressman didn’t get the chance to read almost any of the letters… that was my job). But I learned to convey the lesson I had learned a decade earlier—political advocacy helps us begin to take ownership of this great American experiment.

Many people have inspired me to serve in public policy. I have parents and teachers to thank. But I also want to say thank you to Judge Bork. In closing, I leave you with one of his quotes:

The judicial adoption of the tenets of modern liberalism has produced a crisis of legitimacy. Contrary to the plan of the American government, the Supreme Court has usurped the powers of the people and their elected representatives. We are no longer free to make our own fundamental moral and cultural decisions because the Court overseas all such matters, when as as it chooses. The crisis of legitimacy occurs because the political nation has no way of responding. The Founders built into our government a system of checks and balances, carefully giving to the national legislature and the executive powers to check each other so as to avoid either executive or legislative tyranny. The Founders had no idea that a Court armed with a written Constitution and the power of judicial review could become not only the supreme legislature of the land but a legislature beyond the reach of the ballot box. Thinking of the Court as a minor institution, they provided no safeguards against its assumption of powers not legitimately its own and its consistent abuse of those powers. Congress and the President check and balance one another, but neither of them can stop the Courts adventures in making and enforcing left-wing policy.

He’s a little more bombastic than I remember as a kid. But he’s also rather prophetic.

Thank you and good night, Judge Bork.

Racism at the Times

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 20, 2012

Tim Scott, an African-American, serves as a Congressman from South Carolina. He has been designated by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) as the successor to retiring Sen. Jim DeMint, who is leaving the Senate to lead the Heritage Foundation.

John Steele Gordon is a historian widely recognized for his erudition. He wrote for that notorious conservative rag American Heritage (yes, that’s sarcasm) for 18 years.

Mr. Gordon has written about Rep. Scott’s appointment to the U.S. Senate in response to a shocking article by University of Pennsylvania professor Adolph L. Reed Jr. Writing in today’s New York Times, Mr. Reed conveys near apoplexy that such persons as black Republicans exist, let alone that one was appointed to the nation’s highest legislative body. As Mr. Gordon summarizes, “If you’re black but not liberal, in Professor Reed’s worldview, then you’re not really black.”

That’s why Mr. Gordon has titled his article on Mr. Reed’s remarks “Racism at the (New York) Times.” It is well worth taking a few minutes to read.

Suggesting that one’s race should incline him to a particular political point of view is tantamount to saying that almost all Russians must have innate Communist sympathies, or that their experience in life has been so universally consonant that for them to affirm political liberty as a value is incongruous.

I don’t think even the group-thinkers at the Times would argue that. Well, I don’t think they would …

UPS still shipping nonsense about their discrimination against Boy Scouts

by Peter Sprigg

December 20, 2012

Family Research Council recently received an email from someone who was concerned about our recent announcement that we would no longer use the shipping services of UPS, because their charitable arm, The UPS Foundation, had cut off funding to the Boy Scouts of America.

This constituent of FRC had contacted UPS about this issue, and was given what sounded like a denial of the FRC report:

UPS did not pull funding or take action that directly targets the Boy Scouts of America. We sincerely support the Boys Scout of America.

This response is highly misleading and conceals key facts about the situation. Perhaps UPS is beginning to realize that they made a mistake by pandering to the tiny population of homosexual activists, when polls show that a majority of Americans support the Boy Scouts’ policy on homosexuality.

Below is the response which FRC sent to our constituent. We offer it here for the edification of anyone else who might be taken in by UPS’s obfuscation:

Thank you for writing to us regarding the Family Research Council’s recent decision to stop doing business with UPS. We took this step because of a new UPS policy which effectively will block charitable funding to the Boy Scouts of America by the company’s charitable arm, the UPS Foundation.  The reason for this decision was the Scouts’ policy against openly homosexual members or leaders.

The spokesman who told you, “We sincerely support the Boys Scout of America,” was being misleading at best, and deceitful at worst. There is absolutely no question about two facts:

1) The UPS Foundation has given significant charitable gifts to the Boy Scouts of America in the past; and,
2) The UPS Foundation adopted a new policy in November which will have the effect of barring any future charitable gifts to the Boy Scouts, unless the Scouts reverse their policy on homosexuality.

Following is the timeline of these events. I will include links to source materials on the Internet, if you wish to check the facts for yourself.

On July 17, 2012, the Boy Scouts in America announced in a press release that after a two-year review, they had decided to make no changes in their longstanding policy against having openly homosexual Scouts or Scoutmasters.

This announcement led to a new round of criticism of the Scouts from homosexual activists—and new efforts to bring indirect pressure on them by encouraging corporate donors to stop funding the Scouts. One liberal online news outlet, The American Independent (TAI), wrote about the issue on September 18, 2012. UPS was one of the few companies that responded to inquiries, and indicated at that time that the Boy Scouts’ policy would not affect UPS Foundation funding of the Scouts:

Most of the corporations contacted by The American Independent would not directly say whether the Boy Scouts’ affirmation of its discriminatory policy would impact grant funding. The UPS Foundation, however, indicated there would be no change in the in its grant-making. UPS gave around $167,000 to various Boy Scout entities in 2010, including $100,000 to the national organization and $30,000 to the Boy Scouts’ Atlanta Area Council. That council confirmed to TAI that it follows the national policy on sexual orientation.

In a statement to TAI, UPS International Public Relations Manager Kristen Petrella said the Boy Scouts’ decision to affirm their policy excluding “open or avowed homosexuals” will not change the company’s funding choices.

This decision has not and will not impact The UPS Foundation’s decision to provide funding to BSA although we evaluate each funding request on an individual basis,” said Petrella. “UPS has always supported and will continue to support youth development. A large number of UPS employees were involved with the Boy Scouts in their youth and some of them continue to serve as scout leaders today. UPS believes in supporting organizations with which its employees are involved.”

Perhaps because of this statement, UPS became a particular focus of pro-homosexual pressure. A petition drive was mounted on the website Change.org, which promotes a variety of liberal causes, asking, “UPS: Pull your donations until the Boy Scouts pull their anti-gay policy.”

Over 80,000 people signed the online petition, and apparently it was effective. In November, the UPS Foundation posted a new non-discrimination policy on their website:

The UPS Foundation seeks to support organizations that are in alignment with our focus areas, guidelines, and non-discrimination policy. UPS and The UPS Foundation do not discriminate against any person or organization with regard to categories protected by applicable law, as well as other categories protected by UPS and The UPS Foundation in our own policies. These include, but are not limited to race, gender, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran or military status, pregnancy, age and religion.

Since the Boy Scouts of America does not permit homosexuals to be Scouts or leaders, it is considered by some to “discriminate” on the basis of “sexual orientation.” And since “[t]he UPS Foundation seeks to support organizations that are in alignment with our … non-discrimination policy,” this means that the Boy Scouts will be barred from consideration for future charitable grants unless and until they welcome homosexual Scouts and Scoutmasters. The new policy thus effectively reversed the position a company spokesman had articulated only two months before.

The Change.org petition site celebrated this new policy as a “Victory!” The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) likewise touted the new UPS policy, issuing a press release which said,

UPS confirmed to GLAAD that under these guidelines, which UPS said have been in development for several months, organizations that are unable to attest to having a policy or practices that align with the Foundation’s non-discrimination policy will no longer be considered eligible for funding.

This change was also widely reported in the media, beginning on November 12, by outlets such as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (UPS no longer funding Boy Scouts”), the Atlanta Business Chronicle (UPS cuts future funding to Boy Scouts over org’s gay policies”) and the Associated Press (UPS ends grants to Boy Scouts over discrimination”).

You indicated that you received the following statement from a UPS spokesman:

UPS did not pull funding or take action that directly targets the Boy Scouts of America. We sincerely support the Boys Scout of America.

This statement is carefully worded to obscure the truth, rather than reveal it. UPS argues that it did not “pull” funding, because any grants already committed are not affected (their new policy applies only to future grants), and there were reportedly no new funding requests from the Boy Scouts pending with the UPS Foundation at the time the new non-discrimination policy was announced. They also argue that the new policy does not “directly target” the Boy Scouts, because the Scouts are not mentioned by name, and the policy will apply to all future grant recipients, not just to the Boy Scouts. Nevertheless, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported,

While UPS stopped short of saying the move was aimed at the Boy Scouts, the youth organization is the only one UPS had given to in the past that would be affected, company spokeswoman Kristen Petrella said.

Thus, when you strip away UPS’s game-playing with words like “pull” and “directly,” the facts remain as I stated them at the outset:

  1. The UPS Foundation has given significant charitable gifts to the Boy Scouts of America in the past; and, 
  2. The UPS Foundation adopted a new policy in November which will have the effect of barring any future charitable gifts to the Boy Scouts, unless they reverse their policy on homosexuality.

I don’t know how UPS can claim that they continue to “sincerely support the Boys Scout of America,” when they have made clear explicitly that they will not support them financially any longer, and implicitly have labeled them as discriminatory bigots.

Although FRC criticized UPS immediately when this news broke in mid-November, we held off on a final decision to stop doing business with them. First, FRC President Tony Perkins wrote a letter to the Chairman and CEO of UPS, D. Scott Davis, and this was followed by a personal phone call between Tony Perkins and a UPS representative. Only after it was made clear to Mr. Perkins that UPS would not budge on their new policy discriminating against the Scouts did we announce publicly our decision to seek other vendors for our shipping needs.

I hope this clarifies the facts about these events, and the positions of both UPS and FRC on this issue. I would note that FRC did not demand that UPS stop its extensive funding of “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender” (“LGBT”) causes—only that they not actively discriminate against groups like the Boy Scouts which conscientiously hold a different viewpoint.

Unfortunately, as is too often the case in contemporary culture, UPS’s commitment to “diversity” apparently does not include respect for a diversity of viewpoints on issues of human sexuality.

Thank you for your support of our work, and for your interest in getting the facts straight about the events involving UPS and the Boy Scouts.

Evangelicalism: Faithfulness is the bottom line

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 19, 2012

My friend Owen Strachan, a brilliant young theologian at Boyce College, has written a remarkable critique of John Dickerson’s reflections on the status of American Evangelicalism. (Full disclosure: I am quoted incidentally in the article; elide this mention if you wish and read the rest of the piece).

Owen’s gracious but thorough refutation of Mr. Dickerson’s thesis that the Evangelical community in our country if failing and flailing is a masterpiece of grace and truth. It is well worth reading, and pondering. Here is a sterling quote from the piece:

A vibrant gospel witness is the church’s primary mission. But Christians from Justin Martyr to Augustine to Aquinas to Calvin to Edwards to Wilberforce to Colson have seen from the Bible that society benefits immeasurably from the church. And society benefits most when the church is strongest.

Amen.

FRC’s Ken Klukowski Rightly Predicts Federal Court Decision

by JP Duffy

December 19, 2012

This past Saturday in a Breitbart.com opinion piece, FRC’s Ken Klukowski noted that at least two of the three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit appeared ready to block the HHS mandate. On Tuesday, the appellate court reinstated lawsuits brought by Belmont Abbey College and Wheaton College. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in a news release praised the court for ordering “the Obama Administration to report back every 60 days—starting in mid-February—until the Administration makes good on its promise to issue a new rule that protects the Colleges’ religious freedom.”

Read the piece here.

Celebrating a Turning Point in the Perception of Intellectual Disability

by Cathy Ruse

December 19, 2012

On December 6, 1962, Jérôme Lejeune received the first Kennedy Prize from President John F. Kennedy for his discovery of the genetic cause of Down syndrome and his care for those with genetic intellectual disabilities. This December marked the 50th anniversary of that event.

The story of Trisomy 21, the genetic disorder that causes Down syndrome, is remarkable, and follows the life of a remarkable man. The following excerpts are taken from an article I wrote with my husband, Austin Ruse, which appeared in The Catholic Thing on December 16, 2011:

In 1958, Jerome Lejeune was a thirty-two-year-old geneticist working in a Parisian laboratory when he discovered the genetic marker for Down syndrome. Only two years before, scientists had discovered that the human species possessed forty-six chromosomes. Lejeune was able to count forty-seven chromosomes in children with Down syndrome. He went on to discover several other chromosomal anomalies including Cri du Chat Syndrome.

His work was hailed around the world. He received the Kennedy Prize in 1963 from the hand of President Kennedy himself. He received the William Allen Memorial Award, the highest honor in genetics. His work formed the foundation for whole new fields of genetic research.

And then, the horrific irony. A method for diagnosing Down syndrome in utero was developed, abortion was decriminalized, and it became open season on unborn babies with intellectual disabilities. His discovery led to a holocaust.

Lejeune spent the rest of this life fighting this holocaust. And for this he lost almost all of his worldly prestige. He and his family received death threats. A well-deserved Nobel Prize never materialized.

None of this mattered. For Lejeune, what mattered was the children:  “I see only one way left to save them, and that is to cure them.”  He dedicated his life to finding a cure for Trisomy 21 and spent his final days traveling the world giving lectures about the dignity of the human person, no matter how small, no matter the location, no matter how disabled.

Lejeune died of lung cancer in 1994. Just before that, his friend John Paul the Great created the Pontifical Academy for Life and named Lejeune its first president. When he died, John Paul prayed at Lejeune’s grave in France.

The Lejeune Foundation calls the Kennedy Prize “a turning point in the perception of persons with intellectual disabilities.” It was Lejeune’s discovery, and President Kennedy’s recognition, “that began to free persons with trisomy 21 of the stigma they had previously carried from their birth.”

In his speech at the award dinner that evening, President Kennedy said intellectual disability had been “hidden under social disadvantages” and “considered a mark against the parents.” But “it was really a disease, or a difficulty, or a challenge to which few people gave their attention. Now we hope that it will come out into the bright light. And will be given the same sort of attention as cancer and heart disease and all the rest which afflict our people.”

The Jérôme Lejeune Foundation recently opened an office in the United States.  Please see the organization’s website for more information.

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