Month Archives: July 2018

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.

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. 

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.

Ohio House Bill 658: Parental Rights are Good for Children

by Madeleine Lucas

July 23, 2018

 

This past February, two Ohio parents lost custody of their teenage daughter after they declined to support medical treatment for her to “transition” to a male. The judge awarded custody to the child’s grandparents, who are supportive of this transition, specifically authorizing the grandparents to place her on their health insurance and petition to change her name. In the wake of this decision, the teen’s parents are now barred from helping their own child through a very difficult and pivotal point in her life. 

This tragic case raises significant questions about parental rights and the role of the state in the cases of children who experience gender dysphoria. The same Ohio judge in her decision observed that “there is certainly a reasonable expectation that circumstances similar to the one at bar are likely to repeat themselves” and encouraged state lawmakers to consider legislation to address these issues.

Republican state representatives have responded to this call. HB 658 was introduced to the Ohio House in May of this year. The bill operates on the principle that parents have “the fundamental right to care for their child” and sets forth provisions to ensure that parents can act in the ways they determine to be in their children’s best interest.

The legislation prohibits parents’ decisions about gender dysphoria treatments from serving as a determinant of custody in a juvenile court. In addition, it seeks to help facilitate involvement of parents in gender related issues for their children, especially in communication with schools. It requires “government agents” (which includes teachers and counselors) who have “knowledge that a child under its care or supervision has exhibited symptoms of gender dysphoria” to provide written notification to the child’s parents. It also requires written parental consent before a child can be administered any treatments for gender dysphoria, thereby keeping parents informed and engaged with important decisions about how to best care for their child.

Opponents have decried the legislation as “anti-trans youth” and as an affront to “child body autonomy.” However, this bill does not deal directly with the prospect of youth undergoing treatments for transition—they still can if their parents consent to it. It simply assures that a child’s parents, not the state, have the authority to make health decisions in the best interest of their child.

At the center of this debate is the idea that parents are better equipped to act in the best interest of their children than the state. Policies that allow the state to remove children from their parents because of disagreements with their favored sexual agenda violate this fundamental principle and ultimately put children at greater risk.

The state can “care” for general matters affecting the people under its jurisdiction; however, the state cannot care for a person in the particular, as a parent or family does. The immediate family has intimate, personal knowledge about their children and has a unique obligation to love them and do what is best for them. The government, by its very nature, is incapable of this kind of care.

Of course, there are situations where parents do not fulfill these obligations to care for their children, as in the cases of abuse and neglect, where the government rightly steps in to rectify those harms. It may be that opponents of this bill believe that denying a child the ability to “transition” counts as abuse, but this is a narrow assessment of the reality that these children face. No one denies that the struggles children with gender dysphoria go through are extremely difficult. However, there are legitimate differences of opinion about how to approach and treat these situations.

It is important to remember that the medical treatments we are talking about are not without permanent consequences and many potential complications. Starting teenagers or younger children on hormone therapy seeks to suppress puberty and will irreversibly affect their development. Gender reassignment surgery is an even more drastic step, since it involves permanent bodily mutilation and loss of physical organs for the rest of these children’s lives. Also, because these medical practices are recent phenomena, little research is available on the long-term consequences of such actions.

These are serious decisions, and it is reasonable to ensure that parents are provided with the best available information regarding the health of their child, and then enabled to make such weighty and irreversible healthcare decisions while they’re still minors. Parents, in exercising their “fundamental right to care for their child,” as HB 658 says, should be able to be with their child as they go through their emotional and psychological struggles, helping them understand the significant consequences of the choices before them. Some parents may choose to start their children on “transitioning” treatments; others may not. Allowing the state to forcibly make this type of decision for parents sets a dangerous precedent, one that infringes on the rights of parents and puts children at risk by taking away familial support systems and care from the only people in their lives who are there to care for and love them for the entirety of their lives.

Those who argue for the so-called “right to transition” drive an unnecessary wedge into the family unit, pitting child against parent. Children who experience gender dysphoria are dealing with complex emotional and psychological issues, and are at higher risk of depression and suicidal thoughts. Times such as these in a child’s life are exactly when they need the presence of family and those who care deeply for them the most. This Ohio legislation helps keep the family together through this difficult time by allowing parents to maintain authority over how to best address issues with their child, instead of ceding that authority to the impersonal state.

Social Conservative Review - July 18, 2018

by Daniel Hart

July 18, 2018

Dear Friends,

A common misconception about Christianity that has drawn many away from practicing it is that it has “too many rules” about moral behavior. Prohibitions against things like premarital sex and drunkenness are seen as arbitrary laws that impinge on people’s “freedom” to do what they want. The Ten Commandments are constantly ridiculed in popular culture (and even deliberately destroyed with cars) as hopelessly old-fashioned and obsolete.

What many have failed to see is that having boundaries for moral behavior is actually freeing. An excellent analogy for this is to picture a train on railroad tracks. Strictly speaking, one could look at a train on the tracks and think, “That train is clearly being restricted by the tracks—if it could only be free of the tracks, it would have more leeway to go where it pleases.” But common sense tells us that trains are dependent on railroad tracks to keep their wheels aligned and to allow them to travel great distances at high speeds in a very efficient way—tracks give trains the freedom to operate as they were designed to operate. Anyone who has seen a train going off the tracks knows full well of the disastrous results.

When we go “off the rails,” the results aren’t pretty—bad choices can be clearly judged by their fruits (Luke 6:43-45). For example, premarital sex most often leads to broken hearts and STDs, and drunkenness leads to loss of self-control and can cause the physical endangerment of others.

God created us in order that we might fully flourish and be happy by following His precepts—the “railroad tracks” that are designed for this purpose. We see evidence of this in our lives as faithful Christians, as explained here: “The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to ‘the slavery of sin’” (Romans 6:17). May we always walk in the Truth of Christ, which will set us free (John 8:32).

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

On Trump’s pick of Kavanaugh, conservatives should trust but verify – Tony Perkins

Forcing faith-based agencies out of the system is a disservice to women – Mary Beth Waddell

In Win for Religious Freedom, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Reminds Us Why Judicial Nominations Matter – Travis Weber

Why California Senate Bill 320 is Harmful to Women’s Mental Health – Sarah Stewart

Why the Hysteria Over Roe? Because it Would Strike a Blow to Eugenics – Patrina Mosley

Will the Supreme Court Save Sexual Orientation Change Efforts? – Peter Sprigg

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

California bill banning books, therapy to help unwanted gay attraction stalls amid lawsuit fears – Calvin Freiburger, LifeSiteNews

Wisconsin’s Marquette Decision Is A Big Win For Free Speech And A Sign Of Trouble – Margot Cleveland, The Federalist

Maryland Church Banned from Services in Its Own Building Fights Back in Court – Josh Shepherd, The Stream

Pastor under fire for high school football devotional – Todd Starnes, Fox News

Planet Fitness bans woman for objecting to sharing locker room with ‘transgender’ man – Doug Mainwaring, LifeSiteNews

Judge sides with University of Iowa Christian student group accused of discrimination – Vanessa Miller, The Gazette

GOP Volunteers Kicked Out of Uber As Driver Says ‘Welcome To The Resistance’ – Julia Cohen, The Daily Caller

University of Minnesota mulls expelling students for not using transgender pronouns – Calvin Freiburger, LifeSiteNews

International Religious Freedom

Pure Genocide’: Over 6,000 Nigerian Christians Slaughtered, Mostly Women and Children – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian Post

Religious Persecution Again Rises Worldwide – Doug Bandow, The American Spectator

A British Doctor Is Fired for Affirming Biological Reality – Michael Brown, The Stream

In Nicaragua, Paramilitaries Attack Bishop and Besiege Students at ChurchNational Catholic Register

Turkish Court Sends American Pastor Brunson Back to Prison – Jennifer Wishon, CBN News

Military Religious Freedom

Military Sees Increase In Conflicts Over First Amendment Freedoms – Nicole Russell, The Federalist

 

Life

Abortion

3 reasons why Roe v. Wade will fall, despite past Supreme Court decisions – Kristi Burton Brown, Live Action

A Closer Look at NIFLA v. Becerra and the Role of Crisis Pregnancy Centers – Helen Alvaré, Family Studies

The Jewish Position On Abortion Isn’t What You Think It Is – Mitchell Rocklin and Howard Slugh, Public Discourse

Judge Rules Trump Administration Can Defund Planned Parenthood Abortion Biz – Steven Ertelt, LifeNews

Adoption

This Woman’s Search for Her Birth Mother Comes With a Beautiful Message About the Gift of Adoption – Katie Franklin, The Christian Post

Poll: Ensure All Adoption Agencies Can Continue to Serve Families and Children – Elizabeth Fender, Heritage Foundation

Families Warn of ‘Devastating’ Consequences If Adoption Agencies Are Shut Down Over Gay Marriage Beliefs – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian Post

Bioethics

Opponents of Assisted Suicide Offer a Message of Hope – Kathryn Jean Lopez, The Stream

 

Family

Marriage

Three Sisters, Three Weddings in Three Months – Patti Armstrong, National Catholic Register

Maximizing Everyday Moments in Your Marriage – Greg Smalley, Focus on the Family

The Best Way to Properly Apologize to Your Spouse – Ted Cunningham, Focus on the Family

Parenting

6 Reasons Millennials Should Stop And Embrace Parenthood – Melissa Langsam Braunstein, The Federalist

Why Parents Should Encourage Risky Play – Justin Coulson, Family Studies

Economics/Education

Decision to live together negatively affects wealth accumulation – Iowa State University

Congress should end marriage penalties in the tax code and welfare system – Erik Randolph, Georgia Center for Opportunity

Faith/Character/Culture

What Is Best in Life? Jesus And the Mayo Clinic Know! – Elizabeth Scalia, Word on Fire

Steve Ditko’s Great Gift To The World: ‘With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility’ – Aaron Gleason, The Federalist

How conversations with my father have shaped my faith – Benjamin Ball, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

The Extinction of the Middle Child – Adam Sternbergh, The Cut

The Most Dangerous Place to Live: The Subtle Perils of the Past – Greg Morse, Desiring God

I Advocated Civility, But Didn’t Practice it When it Mattered – Liberty McArtor, The Stream

Human Sexuality

What do I do if my child doesn’t seem to fit with typical gender norms? – Jared Kennedy, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Podcast: Am I Less Human If I’m Sexually Unfulfilled? – Sam Allberry, Desiring God

The Myth of the “Desistance Myth” – Julian Vigo, Public Discourse

For Women’s Health, Maybe It’s Time to Focus on Natural Pregnancy Prevention Methods – Maria Archer, Family Studies

Human Trafficking

277 Arrested In Huge Florida Undercover Sex Trafficking Sting – Fight the New Drug

In Minnesota, Porn Is Now Officially Recognized As A Contributor To Human Trafficking – Fight the New Drug

One Train Passenger’s Tweet Saved 25 Girls From Human Trafficking – Fight the New Drug

Pornography

Is Pornography Use Increasing Loneliness, Particularly for Young People? – Mark Butler, Family Studies

Your Friend Just Told You They Struggle With Porn—Now What Do You Do? – Fight the New Drug

Groundbreaking Study Finds Video Game Addiction Is Linked To Compulsive Porn Use – Fight the New Drug

My Life Isn’t Your Porn” – Thousands of Women are Protesting Spycam Pornography – Lana Lichfield, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Smartphones have given your teen daughter a secret life – and it’s destroying her – Jonathon Van Maren, LifeSiteNews

In Win for Religious Freedom, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Reminds Us Why Judicial Nominations Matter

by Travis Weber

July 17, 2018

Two days ago, in a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in favor of the freedom of the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops to live out their faith as it pertains to pro-life issues. Close votes like this remind us of the importance of judicial nominations, along with why it matters that we have judges who understand religious freedom law.

After Texas passed a law requiring the remains of unborn children to be properly cared for, pro-abortion groups challenged it, and used the lawsuit to harass and compel information from the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops (TCCB)—who had been supportive of caring for these babies’ remains. The TCCB wasn’t even a party to the case, but out of animus against its pro-life work, the pro-abortion groups tried to force it to turn over all sorts of internal communications which normally would not be disclosed as part of the discovery process. Unfortunately, in a bizarre sequence of actions for which we may never know the reason, a district court judge obliged the abortion groups, forcing the TCCB to turn over internal communications pertaining to the group’s motivations and religious workings in violation of the First Amendment—all under a ridiculously tight timeline—and all on a Sunday, Father’s Day, no less.

Thankfully, the Fifth Circuit reversed this absurd discovery order, with Judge Edith Jones penning the opinion, joined by Judge James Ho (a recent Trump appointee). Judge Jones wrote that the lower court’s “analysis was incorrectly dismissive of the seriousness of the issues raised by TCCB,” such as the inherent danger in forcing groups to disclose “internal communications within a religious body concerning its activities in the public square to advance and protect its position on serious moral or political issues”—which the First Amendment clearly protects.

Agreeing with Judge Jones, newly-confirmed Judge James Ho wrote in a separate concurrence that “[i]t is hard to imagine a better example of how far we have strayed from the text and original understanding of the Constitution than this case. The First Amendment expressly guarantees the free exercise of religion—including the right of the Bishops to express their profound objection to the moral tragedy of abortion, by offering free burial services for fetal remains. By contrast, nothing in the text or original understanding of the Constitution prevents a state from requiring the proper burial of fetal remains.”

He concluded that the “proceedings below” are “troubling,” and “leave this Court to wonder if this discovery is sought … to retaliate against people of faith for not only believing in the sanctity of life—but also for wanting to do something about it.”

Indeed. We have seen this type of harassment of religious groups before, when the City of Houston sought internal communications from pastors and churches during a lawsuit to which they were not parties—actions reasonably expected to harass these pastors and chill their activities in violation of the First Amendment.

The fact that the Fifth Circuit’s ruling was decided by one vote should remind us all of the importance of confirming good jurists like Judges Jones and Ho, and the cost of not doing so. Our religious freedom, and our nation’s fidelity to the Constitution, hang in the balance.

Why California Senate Bill 320 is Harmful to Women’s Mental Health

by Sarah Stewart

July 13, 2018

 

The California legislature is considering a bill, which would endanger the mental health of many of its college students, all in the name of women’s health. Senate Bill 320 was introduced by Senator Leyva with the intended purpose to make medication abortions readily accessible to women on public college campuses. The bill establishes a fund to help make the facilities ready to provide these abortions by January of 2019. The bill’s author claims that these abortion services are necessary to ensure women’s health and success in college. This language appeals to many college age girls, who may not fully understand the emotional ramifications of undergoing an abortion procedure. Many girls will not stop to question why an abortion would allow them to be successful, or if it will, in the long-term, lead instead to greater pain and regret.  Instead, this bill will encourage them to make a life altering decision with little reflection, and, by the time they recognize that success alongside motherhood is possible, it will be too late to change their minds. We should pause before advocating to a generation of young women that their success in any way may require sacrificing the life of their own child.

The bill keeps women in the dark as to what is really at stake. The Senate Health Committee bill analysis states, “women should not have to wait additional time or travel long distances when they may have already decided to end their pregnancy.” The California legislative website provides six bill analyses with similar claims, all of which address the physical safety for women who undergo this procedure. Yet neither the bill nor the analyses provided address the mental health concerns caused by abortion. If this bill is intended to better women’s health in some way, their psychological health should absolutely be made a factor in the discussion. This is precisely what is being ignored.

A recent analysis in the British Journal of Psychiatry of 22 studies has shown that having an abortion negatively impacts women’s mental health. One of the studies analyzed had as its control group women with unintended pregnancies, those who underwent an abortion fared worse mentally than those who carried their unintended pregnancies to term. The analysis of all 22 studies detailed that women who were post-abortive were more likely to have issues with substance abuse and had greater anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts than non-abortive women. In addition a study in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence was conducted of adolescents who had undergone abortion procedures. While it did not study suicide rates, it demonstrated an increase in need for counseling, as well as an increase in sleep disorders, and substance abuse. Even so, none of this was discussed in either the legislation or the bill analyses. Mental health should be an important concern for those advancing this legislation, but it is not, and the statistics do not support abortion as being beneficial for women’s mental health. This needs to be a significant part of the discussion in any bill, which claims to advocate for women’s health and success in college.

With all abortions, women face increased likelihood of mental health issues, but there is an element unique to medication abortions. Medication abortions are fundamentally different from surgical abortions. One procedure takes place in a facility with a medical practitioner, while in the other the mother is often alone at home during this stressful and emotional experience. She will have to dispose of and see the remains of her aborted child.

Medication abortions are a two-step process. After it is determined that the woman is pregnant, she takes the first pill. This blocks necessary hormones and breaks down the lining of the uterus. This will eventually kill the baby. After 6-72 hours, the woman then takes a second pill, and causes her to start having contractions, which leads to the uterine lining as well as the unborn child to be expelled from her body. The woman often at home alone during this traumatic experience, or, in this case, quite possibly alone in her dorm room. She will go through this second stage for hours. She will be in pain. She will most likely be alone, and, quite possibly, she will see her aborted child. This procedure can only be conducted for the first ten weeks of pregnancy. By that point, the unborn child will quite clearly look like a very small baby, and the mom will be able to see the miniature fingers and toes. The mother, a young college student, will be responsible for disposing of the remains of her child.[1] Miscarriages, while undesired, are traumatic. For a young woman to go through a medical abortion alone  has great potential to take a great emotional toll.

According to Planned Parenthood, medication abortions are similar to an “early miscarriage” or a “really heavy period.” This, however, ignores the fact that woman has intentionally taken medication that has led to the death of her child. For this reason, medication abortions are significantly different from a woman’s menstrual cycle. To compare it to miscarriage ignores this, and it is a slap in the face to all parents who have lost their child to miscarriage and have been deeply devastated by the process. The California Senate Committee on Health’s analysis also uses language making this comparison. It states, “The two-pill process leads to a result similar to a miscarriage.”  

Pro-life advocates need to first stand against this legislation and urge their representatives to vote against its implementation. They also need to be aware and educate others that it is possible to reverse medication abortions. For the best possible result, treatment should be administered within 24 hours, but patients are accepted up until 72 hours after the first pill has been taken. With this treatment, there is a 55 percent success rate for women who decide that they want to reverse the abortion, and there is no record of birth defects. It will be essential for pro-life advocates to get this information to college students in California. Finally, they need to be ready to care for post-abortive women. They will need to care for the young mothers, who are themselves victims of abortion and help them through the long healing process.


[1] Randy Alcorn. Why Pro-life? Caring for the Unborn and Their Mothers. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishing Marketing, LLC, 2012) 18.

Why the Hysteria Over Roe? Because it Would Strike a Blow to Eugenics

by Patrina Mosley

July 6, 2018

It’s quite telling that the first reaction of many on the Left after Supreme Court Justice Kennedy’s retirement announcement was panic at the thought of a possible reversal of Roe v. Wade. With each new possible Supreme Court nominee, the immediate outrage from the Left has been “Roe v. Wade! Abortion rights will be overturned!” Really? Abortion rights is the only thing they can think of when the possibility of getting a new conservative judge on the court comes up?

There are plenty of other possible Supreme Court reversals that should keep them up at night. For example, the 1962 Engel v. Vitale decision said that school official-initiated prayer in public schools somehow violates the First Amendment. (Overturned! Time to call the snake handlers and tell them they’re back in business! Just kidding.) Or even the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges 5-4 decision, particularly in light of how the legalization of same-sex marriage has impacted religious freedom, in which the recent Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission decision could set a precedent. Yet, condemning the supposed “constitutional right” to kill another innocent human being is horrifying to them. Why? Because it’s not about abortion rights or about women rights, it about eugenics. That’s not to say that all people who are pro-choice are in favor of or even aware of the eugenic influence of the abortion industry.

Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution provided the basis for the eugenics philosophy, in which “natural selection” was understood to favor certain races over “lesser races,” which became the foundation for eliminating “undesirables” (non-whites, the poor, the mentally and physically handicapped) so that the population was eugenically controlled to produce only the “right” kinds of people (white, wealthy, high intellect). His cousin and follower, Sir Francis Galton, is known as the father of eugenics because of his dedicated research and advancement of “the study of agencies under social control that may improve or impair the racial qualities of future generations either physically or mentally.” This philosophy attracted many “elites” of society, who were often wealthy, powerful, and racist, who desired to put thought into practice.

The eugenics movement gave birth to the abortion industry, which has been a major campaign contributor to the Democratic Party for decades (which has historically been the party of slavery, Jim Crow, and the KKK) in exchange for protecting “abortion rights.” There has been big money backing this philosophy since the early 20th century, including the Rockefellers, Andrew Carnegie, the Weisman Institute, and many others. The U.S. abortion policy is the pinnacle success of the American Eugenics Society (AES), which included members such as Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood (originally called the American Birth Control League), William Vogt, and Alan Guttmacher, who were both former Planned Parenthood presidents. And yes, that’s Alan Guttmacher of the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute.

Sanger’s organization changed its name to Planned Parenthood to invoke less political implications, and began to focus marketing efforts on “maternal health” and “family planning.” At the annual Galton Lecture of 1956, Fredrick Osborn, the head of the American Eugenics Society, said: “Let’s stop telling everyone that they have generally inferior genetic qualities for they will never agree. Let’s base our proposals on the desirability of having children in homes where they will get affectionate and responsible care, and perhaps our proposals will be accepted.”

It is no accident that today, nearly 80 percent of Planned Parenthood clinics are in minority communities, and although 13 percent of American women are black, they receive over 35 percent of the abortions - Margret Sanger’s: dream no doubt –“We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population.” It is also no mistake that the plaintiffs in the case of Roe v. Wade wanted to use someone they thought they could manipulate when they found Norma McCorvey (Roe).

Abortion is the Pinnacle Achievement of the Eugenics Philosophy

Ghastly connections can be drawn from the marketing of eugenics as “family planning” to abortion. The pinnacle achievement of this disingenuous and sinister movement is the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

In the majority opinion of Roe. v. Wade written by Justice Blackmun, he consults the works of the members of the British and American eugenics societies, lower federal court cases that “expressly invoked overpopulation as a basis for legalizing abortion,” Buck v. Bell, and other projects and organizations which contributed ideology and tactics to controlling the population growth of the “poor” and “uneducated.”

Blackmun’s opening paragraph even acknowledges the political and philosophical implications of proceeding with unrestricted access to abortion by stating: “In addition, population growth, pollution, poverty, and racial overtones tend to complicate and not to simplify the problem.”

He goes on to cite Glanville Williams (footnotes 9 and 21), a fellow of the British Eugenics society, president of the Abortion Law Reform Association, vice president of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, and advisor to Britain’s Birth Control Commission. In Williams’ book, The Sanctity of Life and the Criminal Law, he states: “There is, in addition, the problem of eugenic quality. We now have a large body of evidence that, since industrialization, the upper stratum of society fails to replace itself, while the population as a whole is increased by excess births among the lower and uneducated classes.”

Blackmun also cites Lawrence Lader’s book Abortion (who also wrote Breeding Ourselves to Death) seven times (footnotes 9, 21, 26, 33, 44, 57, 58)—and indirectly relied on the people and groups to whom Lader’s book expressed profuse gratitude: Glanville Williams, Christopher Tietze, and at least five additional AES members that included Alan Guttmacher, officers of England’s leading abortion rights group, the Abortion Law Reform Association (whose leaders included Julian Huxley), and 27 members of the British eugenics society. Planned Parenthood also filed an amicus brief in Roe, as mentioned in a footnote in the Court’s opinion.

In addition, Blackmun cites the American Public Health Association (APHA), who openly praised Germany’s sterilization program and who would later publish an article praising abortion as a method of population control:

It would appear that legalization of abortion is probably the single most effective and practical measure that can be taken to lower the birthrate, and, by doing so, preserve the environment from further deterioration.

Notably, Blackmun also cites The Biological Time Bomb, “The New Biology and the Future of Man,” and many more eugenic references. An article from the The Human Life Review, reposted by Orthodoxy Today, provides an in-depth account of how the financial and ideological backing of the eugenics movement lead directly to Roe v. Wade. It is no secret among the elite and powerful that abortion is not so much about a woman’s body as it is the method of controlling the breeding of those they deem unfit to have children anyways. In a National Review article, the author reveals this:

In an interview with Elle, [Justice] Ginsburg said, “It makes no sense as a national policy to promote birth only among poor people.” That wasn’t 1927 — it was 2014. A co-counsel for the winning side of Roe v. Wade, Ron Weddington, advised President Bill Clinton that an expanded national birth-control policy incorporating ready access to pharmaceutical abortifacients promised immediate benefits: “You can start immediately to eliminate the barely educated, unhealthy, and poor segment of our country. It’s what we all know is true, but we only whisper it.” 

Just two months after Roe v. Wade was decided, The American Eugenics Society changed its name to “The Society for the Study of Social Biology,” to encourage greater acceptance and more discreet advancement of their agenda. Their announcement reassured the public that “The change of name of the Society does not coincide with any change of its interests or policies.” Its former head and leading eugenicist Frederick Osborn also explained the reason for the new name of their journal, from Eugenics Journal to Social Biology: “The name was changed because it became evident that changes of a eugenic nature would be made for reasons other than eugenics, and that tying a eugenic label on them would more often hinder than help their adoption. Birth control and abortion are turning out to be great eugenic advances of our time…”

The historical record shows that the poison of racism and elitism definitively infected the origins of the abortion rights movement by way of the eugenics movement, whose philosophical ideas have continued to this day. Overturning Roe v. Wade would be a monumental step in reversing this repulsive legacy of American life.

Will the Supreme Court Save Sexual Orientation Change Efforts?

by Peter Sprigg

July 2, 2018

There are significant differences between pro-life pregnancy resource centers that seek to provide pregnant women with alternatives to abortion and pro-family therapists or counselors that seek to provide people with unwanted same-sex attractions with an alternative to a homosexual identity and lifestyle. However, they have one thing in common—they are both loathed by the sexual revolutionaries. And in both cases, anti-faith “progressives” have tried to employ the machinery of government in an effort to legally stifle the work and message of these groups or individuals.

The recent Supreme Court ruling in NIFLA v. Becerra on the rights of pregnancy resource centers has given new legal hope to the practitioners of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), which legislators in several states have now banned for clients under age 18. (Others have written about this development here and here.)

NIFLA dealt with a California law, supported by abortion proponents, which required pregnancy resource centers to post specific, government-prescribed notices. Centers with a medical license were required to post a notice indicating how women could obtain abortions; unlicensed centers were required to post a prominent notice to the effect that they were not licensed to provide medical care. One network of pregnancy centers, the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) sued.

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down that law, ruling that it compelled the pregnancy centers to proclaim a message they didn’t want to, in violation of the First Amendment.

Like NIFLA in the pregnancy center context, defenders of the right to seek counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attractions (and of the right to offer such counseling) have argued that free speech also protects their activities. In challenges to laws banning sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) with minors by licensed mental health providers in California and New Jersey, they argued that such laws in effect limit what a counselor or therapist may say to a client in the privacy of his or her office, and thus infringe upon the free speech of the care-giver.

Courts in two federal circuits rejected those arguments. But one of those decisions, Pickup v. Brown, came in for unfavorable attention in Justice Clarence Thomas’s majority opinion in the NIFLA case—thus raising serious doubts about whether these therapy bans could survive scrutiny by the Supreme Court.

California’s therapy ban was actually challenged in two separate lawsuits. In Welch v. Brown, a U.S. district court struck down the law, but in Pickup a district court judge upheld it. The Ninth Circuit consolidated the two cases on appeal, and a three-judge panel upheld the finding in Pickup and overturned the one in Welch.

The plaintiffs then appealed for en banc review by the full Ninth Circuit court, but they were rejected. However, three judges dissented from the denial of en banc review, backed by a strong  opinion by Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain.

The Pickup opinion rested in part on the assertion that speech engaged in by licensed professionals in the course of their work is somehow exempt from scrutiny under the First Amendment (“SB 1172, as a regulation of professional conduct, does not violate the free speech rights of SOCE practitioners …”). This is exactly the argument that Justice Thomas rejected in his majority opinion in NIFLA. What is particularly striking is how much Justice Thomas’s majority opinion in NIFLA resembles Judge O’Scannlain’s dissenting opinion in the Pickup appeal.

Check out the comparison (citations, except to the Pickup case, are omitted):

Justice Clarence Thomas, U.S. Supreme Court, NIFLA v. Becerra (majority opinion)

June 26, 2018

. . .

[p. 6-8]

The First Amendment, applicable to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment, prohibits laws that abridge the freedom of speech. When enforcing this prohibition, our precedents distinguish between content-based and content-neutral regulations of speech. Content-based regulations “target speech based on its communicative content.” As a general matter, such laws “are presumptively unconstitutional and may be justified only if the government proves that they are narrowly tailored to serve compelling state interests.” This stringent standard reflects the fundamental principle that governments have “‘no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content.’”

The licensed notice is a content-based regulation of speech. By compelling individuals to speak a particular message, such notices “alte[r] the content of [their]speech.”

. . .

­ Although the licensed notice is content based, the Ninth Circuit did not apply strict scrutiny because it concluded that the notice regulates “professional speech.” Some Courts of Appeals have recognized “profes­sional speech” as a separate category of speech that is subject to different rules. See, e.g., … Pickup v. Brown, 740 F. 3d 1208, 1227–1229 (CA9 2014) … . These courts define “professionals” as indi­viduals who provide personalized services to clients and who are subject to “a generally applicable licensing and regulatory regime.” … Pickup, supra, at 1230. “Professional speech” is then defined as any speech by these individuals that is based on “[their] expert knowledge and judgment,” or that is “within the confines of [the] professional relationship,” Pickup, supra, at 1228. So defined, these courts except professional speech from the rule that content-based regulations of speech are subject to strict scru­tiny. See  … Pickup, supra, at 1053– 1056 … .

But this Court has not recognized “professional speech” as a separate category of speech. Speech is not unprotected merely because it is uttered by “professionals.” This Court has “been reluctant to mark off new categories of speech for diminished constitutional protection.” And it has been especially reluctant to “exemp[t] a category of speech from the normal prohibition on content-based restrictions.” This Court’s prece­dents do not permit governments to impose content-based restrictions on speech without “‘persuasive evidence … of a long (if heretofore unrecognized) tradition’” to that effect.

This Court’s precedents do not recognize such a tradi­tion for a category called “professional speech.”

Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Pickup v. Brown (dissent from denial of en banc review)

January 29, 2014

. . .

The Federal courts have never recognized a freestanding exception to the First Amendment for state professional regulations. Indeed authoritative precedents have established that neither professional regulations generally, nor even a more limited subclass of such rules, remain categorically outside of the First Amendment’s reach.

. . .

The Supreme Court, however, has clearly warned us inferior courts against arrogating to ourselves “any ‘freewheeling authority to declare new categories of speech outside the scope of the First Amendment.’” The panel cites no case holding that speech, uttered by professionals to their clients, does not actually constitute “speech” for purposes of the First Amendment. And that should not surprise us—for the Supreme Court has not recognized such a category.

III

The Supreme Court has chastened us lower courts for creating, out of whole cloth, new categories of speech to which the First Amendment does not apply. But, that is exactly what the panel’s opinion accomplishes in this case, concealing its achievement by casually characterizing the communications prohibited by SB 1172 as nonexpressive conduct. Of course, this begs the question. The panel provides no authority to support its broad intimations that the words spoken by therapists and social workers, if they fall within the statutory language of SB 1172, should receive no protection at all from the First Amendment.

. . .

But as to the threshold issue—may California remove from the First Amendment’s ambit the speech of certain professionals when the State disfavors its content or its purpose?—the Supreme Court has definitively and unquestionably said “No.” It is no longer within our discretion to disagree.

The Supreme Court’s recent NIFLA case is not the first to question the reasoning of the 9th Circuit in upholding the California therapy ban in Pickup v. Brown. A 2017 en banc decision by the full 11th Circuit court struck down, on free speech grounds, a Florida law that barred doctors from asking patients whether they had guns in their home. In this decision (Wollschlaeger v. Governor of Florida, February 16, 2017), Judge Adalberto Jordan, writing for nine of the eleven judges, also questioned the 9th Circuit ruling in Pickup:

The Ninth Circuit also adopted Justice White’s approach, but in a case upholding a California law prohibiting mental health practitioners from providing sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) therapy—meant to change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual—to children under the age of 18. See Pickup v. Brown, 740 F.3d 1208, 1225–29 (9th Cir. 2013) (as amended on rehearing)… .

There are serious doubts about whether Pickup was correctly decided. As noted earlier, characterizing speech as conduct is a dubious constitutional enterprise. See also id. at 1215–21 (O’Scannlain, J., dissenting from denial of rehearing en banc) (criticizing the Pickup panel for, among other things, not providing a “principled doctrinal basis” for distinguishing “between utterances that are truly ‘speech,’ on the one hand, and those that are, on the other hand, somehow ‘treatment’ or ‘conduct’”).

. . .

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion … .” W. Va. State Bd. of Educ. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 642 (1943) (Jackson, J.). Our decision applies this timeless principle to speech between doctors and patients, regardless of the content. The First Amendment requires the protection of ideas that some people might find distasteful because tomorrow the tables might be turned.

The Supreme Court precedent of NIFLA is clearly more significant, since it is binding nationwide. Of course, a key difference between the NIFLA (pregnancy center) case and the Pickup (therapy) case is that NIFLA involved what is called “compelled speech” (the government forcing a private entity to communicate the message favored by the government); whereas Pickup involves an actual prohibition by the government against private speech that is disfavored by the government (if its aim is helping a client to change sexual orientation). Nevertheless, by affirming that “professional speech” is protected by the First Amendment, the Supreme Court has cast serious doubt on the constitutionality of bans on sexual orientation change efforts.

This should give hope to clients seeking to overcome unwanted same-sex attractions and to the counselors and therapists who help them. And it should give pause to legislators, like those in California now considering an even more draconian therapy ban (AB 2943).

Bans on sexual orientation change efforts lack any merit to begin with. But legislators tempted to vote for them (and governors tempted to sign them) should realize that there is a good chance these bills are unconstitutional, and that they will draw a rebuke from the U.S. Supreme Court in the fairly near future.

Social Conservative Review - July 2, 2018

by Daniel Hart

July 2, 2018

Dear Friends,

Many in our culture today think of Jesus as a kind of domesticated philosopher who had some polite things to say about how everyone should be nice to each other. Christ’s actual words in the gospels, however, reveal just how subversive he truly was 2,000 years ago and remains to this day. When I say “subversive,” I don’t mean in the sense of dissident rebellion towards society. I mean that the demands that Jesus placed on our human capacity for love were and are truly revolutionary and formidable. Consider these words from the fifth chapter of Matthew’s gospel:

You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment…”

And again: “You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

And again: “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.”

And again: “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”

If we are honest with ourselves, these words should shake us to our core, because they sound impossibly impractical and superhumanly difficult to put into practice. We all fail at doing what Christ tells us to do in these verses with such routine regularity that his words can seem almost absurd at times. The reason for this can be traced all the way back to the beginning. Ever since our earliest ancestors fell into temptation in the Garden of Eden, we humans have been stuck in a default setting of selfishness—our fallen natural instinct is to be comfortable in our own self-righteous anger, lust, defensiveness, and loathing. Christ’s teachings completely subvert our inclinations, calling us to a higher and greater way of being. Since Christ is one with God the Father—our Creator—he has perfect understanding of man’s fallen nature. Therefore, his teachings are ultimately designed for our complete restoration—to bring about the apex of human flourishing, fulfillment, and happiness—as it was meant to be from the beginning.

Many in our society put Jesus in the “nice guy who said nice things” box and insist that “niceness” is all he stood for. What they do not realize, and what we believers must fight for, is this truth: that Jesus is a full rebuke of the “think whatever you want to think” and “do whatever feels right” mentality. In this age of confusion, where identities, emotions, and urges rule the day, there is nothing more subversive than Jesus. But the paradox is that there is nothing more attractive, either—who doesn’t want to be happy and fulfilled?

This, then, is the challenge for believers: to help unbelievers rediscover their original design before the fall by living out Christ’s radically challenging teachings in our own lives. 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

America Celebrates Another Freedom Revolution – Ken Blackwell

Keep kids with parents at border — and remember how we got here – Tony Perkins

Are Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg For or Against Religious Hostility? – Travis Weber and Andrew Rock

The Little-Known Figures Who Had an Outsized Impact on the Masterpiece Cakeshop Decision – Peter Sprigg

The Freedom to Serve: Why Religious Adoption Agencies Must Be Protected – Spenser White

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

A culture of freedom keeps winning at the Supreme Court – Andrew T. Walker, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

SCOTUS Invalidates Ruling Against Christian Florist – Hank Berrien, The Daily Wire

Southern Poverty Law Center’s settlement with ‘extremist’ organization dings credibility – Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times

Floral Artist Faced Same Intolerance as Jack Phillips – Kristen Waggoner, National Review

Supreme Court Reverses Ruling Against Kansas Woman Told by Police to Stop Praying in Her Home – Michael Gryboski, The Christian Post

Faith and courage – Ray Hacke, WORLD

SCOTUS allows lower court to ban prayer from public square – Daniel Horowitz, Conservative Review

International Religious Freedom

President Buhari, Please Stop the Muslim Slaughter of Nigerian Christians – Michael Brown, The Stream

Countries increasing legal restrictions on religion, survey finds – Bradford Richardson, The Washington Times

Canadian Bus Driver Arrested Two Years Later For Criticizing Homosexuality – Jeremiah Keenan, The Federalist

 

Life

Abortion

Pro-Life Advocates Celebrate Supreme Court Decision Striking Down Law Forcing Abortion Promotion – Steven Ertelt, LifeNews

Why The Supreme Court’s Ruling Will Protect All Pregnancy Centers From Forcibly Promoting Abortion – Margot Cleveland, The Federalist

Overturning Roe v. Wade is a Major Step. But Changing Hearts Is the Endgame – Liberty McArtor, The Stream

How to Overturn Roe – Josh Craddock, First Things

Adoption

Philadelphia Bans Catholic Agency From Placing Foster Kids with Christian Families – Charlene Aaron, CBN News

More Adopted Children, Who Are Adults Now, Look For Birth Parents – Ashley Westerman, NPR

How Being Adopted Made My Husband a Better Father – Marcia Kester Doyle, Her View From Home

Comparing Border Children To U.S. Foster Kids Proves The Outrage Is Disgustingly Selective – Donna Carol Voss, The Federalist

Adoption Is Love – Heather Duckworth, Her View From Home

Bioethics

Physician Assisted Suicide and the Rise of Suicide Cults – Grace Emily Stark, Public Discourse

Jahi McMath, the teen doctors tried to declare dead five years ago, has died – Cassy Fiano, Live Action

Obamacare

Trump’s New Health Initiative Will Spell Relief for Americans – Robert Moffit, The Daily Signal

 

Family

Marriage

35 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage – Brad & Heidi Mitchell, The Stream

Want a better marriage? These core values keep families close – Linda Lewis Griffith, The Tribune

Fertility and Marriage: An Underappreciated Link – Angela Rachidi, Family Studies

How Asking For My Husband’s Help Around the House Changed My Life – Elisa Cinelli, Her View From Home

This Two-Step Process Can Cure Your Lonely Marriage – Greg Smalley, Focus on the Family

Economics/Education

Teaching Children How to Manage Money – Laurie DeRose, Family Studies

For Young Adults, Economic Security Matters for Marriage – Benjamin Gurrentz, U.S. Census Bureau

Faith/Character/Culture

Ten Thousand Small Trials: How God Fits Us for Glory – Scott Hubbard, Desiring God

New Mister Rogers Documentary Is Full Of Surprises About An American Icon – Josh Shepherd, The Federalist

How Flourishing Families Cultivate Great Art – Ashley McGuire, Family Studies

The Seven Things You Need to Know About Forgiveness – Rob Schwarzwalder, The Stream

The Most Damaging Attitude in Our ChurchesC.M. Joyner, Relevant

Gloom in The Time of Oculus – Matthew Becklo, Word on Fire

The American Library Association’s criticism of Little House entirely misses the mark – Megan Basham, WORLD

Generation Vexed – Lois M. Collins and Sara Israelsen-Hartley, Deseret News

The Joyful Longing of Paul McCartney’s ‘Carpool Karaoke’ – Brett McCracken, The Gospel Coalition

Human Sexuality

Scientists Have Unwittingly Revealed that the Obergefell Decision Did Nothing to Diminish Sexual Minority Distress – Mark Regnerus, Public Discourse

Struggling’ with Same-Sex Attractions? – Hudson Byblow, National Catholic Register

The FBI Says Sexual Assaults on Flights Increasing ‘At An Alarming Rate’ – National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Human Trafficking

Twelve Days of Action: It’s Time to Raise Your Voice – National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Pornography

The Brain’s Delete Button: How You Can Erase Years Of Watching Porn – Fight the New Drug

Study Shows How Watching Porn Could Seriously Increase Your Divorce Risk – Fight the New Drug

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