Month Archives: October 2017

The Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration: What It Got Right and What It Got Wrong

by Travis Weber , Natalie Pugh

October 3, 2017

Earlier this month, religious leaders of various faiths met at the Beverley Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles to celebrate the newly signed Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration—a notable document because it is a proclamation supporting some degree of religious freedom sponsored and backed by a majority Muslim country.

While the majority of Bahrain’s population is Shia Muslim, most of its government positions are held by Sunni Muslims. In addition, there are small numbers of Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, and Jews all living in the country. Against this multi-religious backdrop, the religious freedom declaration was backed and signed by the King of Bahrain.

What did the declaration get right?

This document makes a lot of statements worth celebrating. First of all, it declares that “religious faith and expression are inalienable rights” which provides the foundation for promoting religious freedom. In Part II, it rejects forced observance of a religion and claims that every person has the right to practice their religion as long as they do not harm any others in the process. Part III focuses more on the harm that has been done in the name of religion and condemns all terrorist activities such as “the sowing of terror, the encouragement of extremism and radicalization, suicide bombing, promotion of sexual slavery, and the abuse of women and children.” The religious rights and responsibilities established in Part IV state that individuals have a right to practice their religion and the government has a responsibility to protect citizens of all religions. Overall, these are all commendable statements that seem to show a genuine interest in protecting religious freedom.

Where did it fall short?

While the document expressly states that it does not condone compelled religion, it still does not allow Muslims the freedom to convert away from their religion, as it is illegal to proselytize Muslims in Bahrain. While Part II recognizes the freedom to choose one’s faith, this is conditioned on submitting to the laws of the land. What happens when the laws of the land prohibit conversion, such as in the case of Bahrain and many other nations with Islamic teaching reflected in their laws? These Muslims still don’t have religious freedom in spite of this declaration, and neither do non-Muslims have the freedom to share their faith with Muslims.

Other portions of the declaration are meandering and vague. For instance, while the goal of Section III is admirable and the specific activities listed are reprehensible, this section’s condemnation of certain activities does not have a fixed and clear target. Instead, the list is prefixed with the statement: “Any act that is found morally repugnant by the vast majority of mankind and is insulting to our collective moral conscience cannot be part of God’s revealed will.” Yet religious expression should not be censored by the fickle morality of the majority.

Another statement of concern is the admonition that the clergy teach that “extremism is not holier than moderation.” Extremism and radicalism have become synonymous with terrorism and therefore are evil words in modern rhetoric. But the words themselves need some context to have any meaning. In some ways, being “extreme” is good. For example, before he gathered many supporters, William Wilberforce was quite “extreme” in his campaign to abolish slavery. He might have been termed “extreme,” but it it was a noble cause motivated by his Christian faith. It didn’t matter that not many were on his side. Spiritually speaking, being extreme is a fundamental part of being a Christian. We are called to be on fire for Christ; being lukewarm or moderate is not enough (Revelations 3:15-16). What is extreme to one is moderate to another, and vice versa. “Extreme” may not always correspond to “evil,” and the declaration needs more context to make sense of this point.

The Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration is only a statement of intent. Even though it was signed by the king, it is not a legally binding document. Yet it is a good start. Later this year, a team of lawyers will meet to work on turning the declaration into actual laws. Hopefully, the laws they write will fix some of the ambiguity and flaws in the original declaration. If that happens, we may see a platform which could serve as a source for some reform on religious freedom within the Islamic world. Until then, all we can do is hope and pray.

Travis Weber is the Director of FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty. Natalie Pugh is an intern at FRC.

The Judicial Assault on Public School Privacy Policies

by FRC

October 2, 2017

Activist judges are continuing to rule against the rights of students, parents, and public school districts to determine their own bathroom and locker room privacy policies. In FRC’s latest Facebook Live event, Travis Weber, the director of FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty joins John Rustin, the President and Executive Director of the North Carolina Family Policy Council to discuss this important issue. Here is a summary of some of the key points made in this discussion:

  • The 7th Circuit Court’s recent decision in Kenosha Unified School District v. Whitaker was a loss of autonomy and ability of school districts and parents to set the policies they want for their students, particularly that of boys and girls using private facilities separately.
  • Since children are compelled by law to go to school, parents ought to have the right to help set policies with respect to privacy issues in bathrooms and locker rooms.
  • The Kenosha case is the latest example of why the federal judiciary often gets a bad name. It is a clear example of a judge who is unaccountable to the people imposing their own policy preference in law. The judge in the Kenosha case cited Title IX’s prohibition of sex discrimination as the reason why a student who identifies as transgender should be allowed to use the bathroom and other private facilities of their choice. Until very recently, Title IX has never been viewed as a means of forcing school districts to accommodate these claims.
  • In the Kenosha case, the school district was happy to accommodate the student who identified as transgender by offering them a separate private facility to use. As is often the case, however, this accommodation was viewed as unsatisfactory. Parties and individuals pushing the transgender bathroom agenda are often not trying to be reasonable—they instead demand that their proposed policies be made into law and be fully accepted by all.
  • Reasonable accommodations can be made to protect the privacy of students who identify as transgender without infringing upon the privacy rights of all the other students. The Kenosha school system has over 22,000 students, and yet the 7th Circuit Court inexplicably decided to throw out the privacy interests of 21,999 students on behalf of one student.
  • Cases like this are stark reminders of how important it is to have an administration that will appoint judges who faithfully read the text of the law and the Constitution and adhere to it without injecting their policy preferences.
  • FRC and the North Carolina Family Policy Council along with 19 other family policy organizations signed on to an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the Kenosha case in order to bring some sanity back to the bathroom privacy issue by not only allowing parents and school districts to have a say in determining privacy policies, but also to reinforce that biological sex distinctions matter in public educational facilities.
  • Even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recognized in 1975 that sex discrimination prohibitions in law did not mean that privacy must be compromised.
  • When courts rule as the 7th Circuit did in the Kenosha case, they are violating the rule of law itself by circumventing Congress, which alone has the people’s voice and the authority to change laws.

View the full video to find out more.

Social Conservative Review - October 2, 2017

by Daniel Hart

October 2, 2017

Dear Friends,

Once upon a time in America, a person who held strong religious beliefs, adhered to religious doctrines, and acted accordingly in good faith to their fellow man was seen as a person of strength and good character, and was respected in the public sphere.

It appears that this era is now past. In a confirmation hearing last month for 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Amy Barrett, Senator Dianne Feinstein infamously voiced her disapproval of Barrett based on her Catholic beliefs: “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you.” This incident followed another unfortunate one in June, when Senator Bernie Sanders castigated Office of Management and Budget nominee Russell Vought for his Christian faith by saying that Vought is “not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about.”

In a very public way (that also happens to be a violation of the Constitution’s prohibition of using “religious tests”), Feinstein and Sanders are merely echoing what many Americans believe about religion—that in order to tolerate all religions, religious people must not let “dogma live loudly within” them.

If we examine this way of thinking, however, it fails to make sense. Religion is something that is so central to the human understanding of existence that our Founding Fathers enshrined it in the First Amendment of our Constitution. They knew what all people know deep down to be true—that every person, in the face of such profound mysteries like suffering and death, must have the freedom to not only believe what they want, but to exercise that freedom. In other words, not only must one have the freedom to believe, one must also have the freedom to live out those dearly-held beliefs in everyday life, especially if they reach to the core of who that person is.

Senators Dianne Feinstein and Bernie Sanders obviously have some very passionate political views that seem to reach to the core of who they are. If it is permissible to have such passionate views and beliefs in the realm of politics, how is it not equally permissible to have passionate religious views?

Even this most basic view of fairness is not adequate in understanding the true nature of religious conviction, however. All believers know that without faith and its “dogmas,” which give us the Ten Commandments, the nature of societal life will have no basis for moral behavior, and will eventually degenerate into chaos. Instead of denigrating Barrett and Vought for their strong convictions, Feinstein and Sanders should be praising them for their principled character and hoping that more nominees like them will step forward to serve the public interest.

May an increasing number of the American people and our elected political leaders better understand this truth, that religious conviction is not something to be tamped down as “intolerant,” but rather something to be celebrated as the anchor of moral goodness. 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

Supreme Court must take on heartbreaking surrogacy case – Arina Grossu

It’s Not About the Color. It’s About the Cross – Patrina Mosley

The Sexual Revolution, Sexual Freedom, and Hugh Hefner – Jourdan Stuart

Pence: Human Rights Council “Doesn’t Deserve its Name” – Travis Weber

40 Days for Life: Offering Hope and Life One Vigil at a Time – Arina Grossu

How Can Public School Students Exercise Their Religious Liberty Rights?

Why Are College Students Afraid of Free Speech? – Dan Hart

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

The Southern Poverty Law Center put me on its hate list. It’s a smear and I don’t belong there – Hannah Scherlacher, Fox News

Southern Poverty Law Center attempts to undermine America – Rebecca Hagelin, The Washington Times

California Legislature Passes Bill To Punish Elder-Care Workers Who Don’t Use Trans Pronouns – Georgi Boorman, The Federalist

A chilling study shows how hostile college students are toward free speech – Catherine Rampell, The Washington Post

In Response To Attacks, New Florida Law Aims To Protect Religious Expression In Public Schools – Ashley Bateman, The Federalist

Live Action: Twitter’s ban on pro-life ads is discriminatory and wrong – Kristi Burton Brown, Live Action

Judge Rules in Favor of Atheist Group, Says Cross on Penn. County Seal Must Be Removed – Michael Gryboski, The Christian Post

Free to Believe”

I’m a T-Shirt Maker With Gay Customers and Gay Employees. I Still Was Sued. – Blaine Adamson, The Daily Signal

Minnesota officials attempt to control the message of Christian filmmakers – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

International Religious Freedom

Coming home – June Cheng, WORLD

Australia: Documenting the tide of bigotry and hatred – Margaret Colwell, Mercatornet

The Senate must act now to save Christianity in Iraq – Carl Anderson, The Hill

Genocide in Burma: Why a Persecuted Muslim Minority Should Matter to Christians – John Stonestreet, The Christian Post

I Had No Fear of Death,’ Says Indian Priest Held Captive by Terrorists as He Returns to India – Anugrah Kumar, The Christian Post

 

Life

Abortion

Video: Pro-abortion politicians mislead women about Planned Parenthood – Live Action

A Path to Détente in the War over Abortion – Julia D. Hejduk, Public Discourse

Hawaii law forces pro-life pregnancy help centers to promote abortion – Rachel del Guidice, LifeSiteNews

Americans Confused About Abortion – American Culture & Faith Institute

Children’s Minister Aggressively Pushes to Legalize Abortions Killing Children – Micaiah Bilger, Life News

Rep. Trent Franks Hopes Pain-Capable Bill Shows ‘Inhumanity’ of Abortion – Katie Yoder, NewsBusters

Adoption

Gift-Motherhood, the Prius, and the Peace Corps: Reducing Abortion by Incentivizing Adoption – Julia D. Hejduk, Public Discourse

Bioethics

Surrogacy Reaches the Supreme Court – Kathleen Sloan, Public Discourse

U.S. doctors take official stance against euthanasia – Samantha Gobba, WORLD

Women and Bioethics: an ethics of care – Caterina Milo, C-Fam

Basic Bioethics: Forty ways to make a baby – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

New York Courts Rule Against “Aid in Dying” and Warn of Its Dangers – Richard M. Doerflinger, Public Discourse

Obamacare

GOP already eyeing next chance to revive Obamacare repeal – Seung Min Kim, Jennifer Haberkorn and Burgess Everett, Politico

 

Family

Economics/Education

Married Couples With Children and Jobs Cause Income Inequality – Terence P. Jeffrey, CNS News

The Marriage Divide: How and Why Working-Class Families Are More Fragile Today – W. Bradford Wilcox, Family Studies

How Did Marriage Become a Mark of Privilege? – Claire Cain Miller, The New York Times

Ban the Laptops, Yes – Mark Bauerlein, First Things

Betsy DeVos vs. the Mindless Mob at Harvard – Frederick M. Hess and Grant Addison, National Review

Marriage

Couples weather bickering with a little help from their friends – Science Daily

Cheap Sex Is Making Men Give Up On Marriage – Larry Getlen, American Culture & Faith Institute

6 Secrets to a Healthy Marriage (From Old Couples) – Jon Miltimore, Intellectual Takeout

What Nicole Kidman’s Emmy’s Kiss Says About Marriage and Infidelity – Chelsea Samelson, Acculturated

Faith/Character/Culture

Video: How To Have A Religious Argument (Facebook HQ) – Bishop Robert Barron, Word On Fire

Camille Paglia’s Teaching – Mark Bauerlein, First Things

If It Feels Like People Are Meaner Than Ever Now, Here’s What to Do About It – Julia Hogan, Verily

Many Atheists Aren’t So Sure: The Doubts of Doubters – Eric Metaxas, The Christian Post

The Unchanging Lordship of Christ in a World of Crises – Rob Schwarzwalder, The Stream

Why You Should Keep Taking Your Kids To Church Even When It Feels Pointless – Emily Carrington, The Federalist

Human Sexuality

Rocklin charter schools OK transgender books in elementary school – Diana Lambert, The Sacramento Bee

No Long-Term Harm? The New Scientific Silence on Child-Adult Sex and the Age of Consent – Mark Regnerus, Public Discourse

Sex diseases in US surge to record high – AFP

Podcast: God’s Work in the Midst of an Unplanned Pregnancy – Amy Ford, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

The Myth of “Sex Work” Named and Shamed – Marianna Orlandi, C-Fam

Why our willingness to offend can be the loving choice – Mike Goeke, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Human Trafficking

Child Exploitation: Solutions for Stemming the Growing Demand – Patrick A. Trueman, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Pornography

Pornography Is Worse Than Feminism – Samuel D. James, First Things

Hugh Hefner, Mourning, and Legacies: Beyond the Pipe and the Robe – Ed Stetzer, Christianity Today

How Hugh Hefner Hijacked Men’s Brains – Joe Carter, The Gospel Coalition

One Man’s Dream Destroyed Millions – Jon Bloom, Desiring God

Hugh Hefner Leaves Behind a Legacy of Sexual Exploitation, and a Public Health Crisis – Patrick Trueman, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Pornography, Addiction, and Human Happiness – Zac Alstin, Intellectual Takeout

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