FRC Blog

Social Conservative Review - July 17, 2017

by Daniel Hart

July 17, 2017

Dear Friends,

In last week’s message, I discussed the growing problem of hostility to Christianity that many Americans have faced over the last 15 years and continue to face now, despite living in a free democracy.

It’s important to remember that this problem is by no means limited to the U.S.—other freedom-loving countries are also showing disturbing anti-Christian trends. In a recent survey conducted in the U.K., it was revealed that an astonishing 93 percent of Christians “believe that their faith is being marginalized in British society today.” The results were published by Premier Christian Communications, after 12,000 “ordinary Christians” took part in the survey. Commenting on the survey results, Premier CEO Peter Kerridge said that “it is ‘clear’ that the U.K. does not have the ‘liberal accepting society’ that it believes it does ‘if we don’t tolerate and accept everyone, including Christians.’” In just the past year in the U.K., a Christian nurse was fired for speaking about her faith and praying for patients, two Christians were convicted of disorderly conduct and fined for preaching on the streets, and numerous Christian schools were given downgraded statuses by the leading education watchdog group for their teachings on homosexuality and other religions.

FRC will continue to fight for the freedoms of all believers to live out their faith freely in the public square, with the hope that Christians of all nationalities will also fight for their rights. Christ’s words will forever be our guide: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

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

It’s Time to Clean Up Our Elections – Ken Blackwell

Doctors Across The World Are Fighting To Treat Charlie Gard. Will The UK Let Them? – Arina Grossu

Where Are The Decent Liberals?Ken Blackwell

The Serpents are SurfacingKen Blackwell

Movie Review: “Alison’s Choice”Lauren Hand

Those with Gender Dysphoria Can Find Healing Peter Sprigg

No Fear: Coach Kennedy’s Steadfast FaithEmma Gibney

Release Charlie GardArina Grossu

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

Has a Civil Rights Stalwart Lost Its Way? – Ben Schreckinger, Politico Magazine

Cakes and Consciences: The Case of Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop – Nathanael Blake, Public Discourse

The Urgency of Restoring the Biblical Values of America’s Founders – Arthur Goldberg, Public Discourse

Passion for Equality – Mark Movsesian, First Things

The Pelvic Left Attacks an Innocent WomanAustin Ruse, Crisis

The Media’s Use of This ‘Hate Group’ Label Puts Conservatives’ Safety at Risk – Katrina Trinko, The Daily Signal

Religious Freedom Advocates Fire Back After ‘Hate Group’ Smear Over Jeff Sessions Speech – Fred Lucas, The Daily Signal

International Religious Freedom

93 Percent of UK Christians Feel Their Faith Is Marginalized, Survey Says – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post

Orthodox Jewish girls school faces closure for refusing to teach children about homosexualityBrandon Morse, TheBlaze

The New Totalitarian Laws of CanadaJohn Paul Meenan, Crisis

Chinese Nobel Prize winner dies in prison, first since the Nazi regimeChinaAid

Military Religious Freedom

US Army Tells Female Soldiers to ‘Accept’ Having Naked Men in Their ShowersSamuel Smith, The Christian Post

Work Hard, Pray Hard’: Retired General Reveals the True Path to Inner PeaceErik Rosales, CBN News

 

Life

Abortion

Video: Stephanie Gray: “Abortion: From Controversy to Civility”Talks at Google

Stunning images from inside the womb show that human life begins at fertilization – Becky Yeh, Live Action News

Oregon poised to make abortion freeSamantha Gobba, WORLD

Abortion Fanatics Don’t Want Choice, They Want Fewer BabiesMollie Hemingway, The Federalist

Bioethics

Parental and Governmental Authority in Medical Decisions: The Tragic Case of Charlie GardMelissa Moschella, Public Discourse

Je Suis Charlie, Once MoreR.R. Reno, First Things

Basic Bioethics: How to illuminate the Christian perspectiveJoe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Obamacare

Needed pro-life protections in potential healthcare legislation – Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Obamacare Is Causing Insurers To Delay Surgeries Patients Need – Richard Menger, The Federalist

Bringing Senate Conservatives and Moderates Together on Health-Care Reform – Michael F. Cannon, National Review

 

Family

Economics/Education

How to Find Hope in the Humanless Economy – Kevin Brown and Steven McMullen, Christianity Today

Here’s How Anti-Conservative Academic Discrimination Works – David French, National Review

Jobs Report Stronger Than Expected, but More Must Be Done to Boost the Economy – Timothy Doescher, The Daily Signal

Here’s Why So Many Republicans View America’s Colleges And Universities Negatively – Gracy Olmstead, The Federalist

Is California anti-family? – Joel Kotkin, Orange County Register

Think Tank: Reconsider Caring For Your Kids Because Money Matters Most – Gracy Olmstead, The Federalist

Marriage

5 Long-Time Married Couples Share Their Secrets to a Happy MarriageJenna Jonaitis, Verily

Married People Have More SexNathan Yau, Flowingdata

Premarital counseling can decrease divorce rates, psychologist saysLaren Hanson, The Daily Universe

Michigan couple, both 99, celebrates 80th wedding anniversaryEliza Murphy, Good Morning America

The 4 Crises Every Marriage Must Make It ThroughPaul Carter, The Gospel Coalition

The Adult Children of Divorce Find Their VoiceLeila Miller, Family Studies

Faith/Character/Culture

Why Is God So Hidden?J. Warner Wallace, BreakPoint

Can Ethnicity Become a Straitjacket?Mike Tong, Desiring God

Don’t be Uncle Rico: A moral snatched from Napoleon DynamiteTod Worner, Aleteia

Hospitality Is Not Just for HomeBethany Jenkins, The Gospel Coalition

What Makes Humans So Special?Matt Nelson, Word On Fire

Want to Lead a Happier Life? Be More Generous, Study SaysBrandon Showalter, The Christian Post

Human Sexuality

Symptoms, Causes and Loving Those with Same-Sex AttractionCarrie Gress, National Catholic Register

Doctors Admit They Don’t Know Which Kids Should Gender Transition But Do It To Them AnywayWalt Heyer, The Federalist

Husband, Lift Up Your EyesJohn Piper, Desiring God

Pediatrician: ‘Transgender’ ideology has created widespread child abuseMichelle A. Cretella, LifeSiteNews

Increase in extramarital sex leading to new STD epidemicFr. Mark Hodges, LifeSiteNews

Most Teens Aren’t Having Sex, and They Deserve More Support for That ChoiceAlysse ElHage, Family Studies

Oral sex spreading unstoppable bacteria – James Gallagher, BBC News

At issue: The push for gender inclusivity in toys – Chris Woodward, OneNewsNow

Human Trafficking

3 things to know about the human trafficking reportTravis Wussow, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Backpage has always claimed it doesn’t control sex-related ads. New documents show otherwise.Tom Jackman and Jonathan O’Connell, The Washington Post

Pornography

What Porn Did To Their Lives – Rod Dreher, The American Conservative

Seven Promises to Pray Against PornJ.A. Medders, Desiring God

Kay Warren: ‘I Struggled With Porn Fascination’ – Nancy Flory, The Stream

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Movie Review: “Alison’s Choice”

by Lauren Hand

July 13, 2017

The film  “Alison’s Choice” dramatizes a two-hour waiting period of a pregnant high school student while she awaits her abortion appointment. As Alison sits in the waiting room, she encounters God as a janitor, two other patients at the abortion facility, three medical staff, and a counselor. Alison speaks with God as He pleads with her to save her child, while revealing different reasons behind the problems in the world. As God converses with Alison, He also speaks with each one of the women in the waiting room in an effort to save them and their children. Alison asks God various questions about why He allows certain problems in the world to continue and why He is impeding on what she thinks is the “freedom” of her and the other girls at the facility to “simply live their lives.” God shows Alison her baby growing inside her womb and lets her know of His loving plan for them both.

Alison’s boyfriend Ricky, the father of the baby, is absent while she waits for her abortion appointment, and the time makes Alison reflect on their relationship. Ricky told her “to just get rid of it,” upon discovering that she was pregnant after pressuring her to have sex with him in the first place. God reveals He was present at each moment preceding Alison’s abortion appointment, and He recounts asking Ricky to “be a man” and to take care of Alison and their unborn daughter.

The medical staff at the center suspects that Alison is unsure about her abortion procedure, so they attempt to coax her. Alison first meets a counselor on staff at the center who encourages her to have the abortion because it “makes sense.” She then meets a married woman who has two children and believes she and her family are not prepared for a third, so she chose to have an abortion rather than telling her husband or her two other children she is pregnant. Alison then journeys beyond the waiting room to speak with an abortionist on staff as well as a nurse. The abortionist tells Alison that there is a “growing lump of tissue” inside of her, and it will inconvenience her and not allow her to go on with life.  The nurse is a single woman who is “celebrating” her 5,000th “termination” in her time in the abortion industry. She is delighted to not have a man or child to “serve” but instead carries three pictures of her cats around her neck who are her companions. The film then travels through various thoughts in Alison’s mind as she grapples with the life and death decision about her preborn daughter.  

The movie ends with Alison’s decision revealed. The film invites the audience to contemplate the realities that women and men face with an unplanned pregnancy. The rational moral consequences that can stem from the ordeal of abortion are made evident in the film through relatable characters. Despite some stereotypical moments, “Alison’s Choice” has a very plausible storyline and leaves the audience with an accurate representation of both the abortion industry and the difficult and often frightening reality of making decisions surrounding an unplanned pregnancy.   

Lauren Hand is an intern at Family Research Council.

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Those with Gender Dysphoria Can Find Healing

by Peter Sprigg

July 12, 2017

Last month, it was my privilege to attend the annual conference of the Restored Hope Network (RHN) in San Diego. The Restored Hope Network is the nation’s largest umbrella organization for Christian organizations engaged in “transformational ministry” with those who suffer from unwanted same-sex attractions (SSA). (It is often seen as a successor to Exodus International, an organization that shut down in 2013 after its leadership abandoned its original message that change is possible for those with unwanted SSA.)

LGBT activists in the San Diego area organized protests against the conference (although they did not turn out anything close to the 1,000 protesters they promised). Ironically, the protests had some positive effect—at least one person struggling with unwanted SSA who attended the conference said he would never have known about it if not for the publicity about the protests.

I was struck, however, by the sharp disconnect between what the protesters assumed was actually happening in the conference and what was actually happening there. As just one example, critics of “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE)—which they (not its practitioners) refer to as “conversion therapy”—often charge that such programs damage participants by instilling “shame” in them. The truth is the exact opposite—participants come into SOCE with shame, and a key goal of the counselling is to overcome and remove that sense of shame.

One thing striking about this year’s conference was the increased emphasis on issues of gender identity as well as sexual orientation—a clear reflection of the growing prominence of the transgender issue just in the two years since I last attended an RHN conference. Since RHN is an explicitly Christian organization, the twin issues of homosexuality and gender dysphoria (dissatisfaction with one’s biological sex) were both addressed by several speakers in the theological context of the “image of God,” as expressed in Genesis 1:27:

And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them.

In other words, our maleness or femaleness, and the complementarity of the two, is part of the “image of God” with which each of us is created by God. Linda Seiler, who struggled with gender identity issues growing up, said this means that “gender is sacred” and that “rejecting one’s God-given sex is rebelling against the Creator.” Speaker Nate Oyloe applied the concept to marriage, saying, “Divorce is the image of God, masculine and feminine, being torn apart.” Another speaker, who formerly lived a lesbian lifestyle and is now living a life of chastity, gave a personal testimony in which she declared, “I was born with a sinful and rebellious nature, but I was reborn in the imago dei (image of God).”

The highlight of the conference for me was seeing the world premiere of a new documentary film called TranZformed: Finding Peace with Your God-Given Gender. While the movement that believes sexual orientation change is possible has been around for decades, and numerous testimonies of those who have experienced change have long been available, until now only a few people have publicly come out as “ex-transgender” (the most prominent being Walt Heyer—see his website).

TranZformed, however, features the dramatic testimonies of 15 ex-transgender individuals who “bear witness to what Jesus Christ can do for those who struggle with gender dysphoria.” The film, which is over an hour long, was very professionally produced by Pure Passion Media, a ministry dedicated to “equipping the church to redemptively minister to those who are trapped in sexual sin and brokenness” (a focus which definitely includes heterosexual sin and brokenness, such as pornography addiction). In fact, two of the testimonies included in TranZformed are available on the Pure Passion website.

However, the DVD of the entire documentary is available for order at the TranZformed website. I highly recommend it for the dramatic personal insight it gives into the transgender issue.

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No Fear: Coach Kennedy’s Steadfast Faith

by Emma Gibney

July 11, 2017

Family Research Council recently released its June 2017 Edition of Hostility to Religion: The Growing Threat to Religious Liberty in the United States. This edition, compared to its inaugural edition in 2014, contains 69 new incidents of religious hostility. This equates to a 76 percent increase in under three years. It is essential to identify these patterns of hostility in order to protect religious freedom in the United States in the future. Equally, it is important that we honor those Americans who stood for their religious beliefs in the face of fear. In his book, No Fear, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins writes, “The only way to counter the fear of man is with faith in God, which provides the courage and the strength that God requires for His world-changing work.” While there are numerous stories to choose from, I will highlight one hero and his story from the Hostility to Religion report God is using for his “world-changing work.”

It was a typical fall Friday night in Bremerton, Wash., near Seattle. Coach Joe Kennedy knelt at the fifty-yard line and prayed after the game ended, like he did after every game since 2008 when he first took the position of assistant football coach at Bremerton High School. However, seven years later, on September 17, 2015, the school’s district superintendent barred Kennedy from praying after football games. Ironically, it was a compliment from one of the student’s parents that informed the superintendent that Kennedy had been praying after fans cleared the stadium after football games.

When hearing about Kennedy’s situation, religious liberty lawyers from First Liberty Institute got involved on his behalf and asked the superintendent to allow Kennedy to kneel in prayer after the students left the stadium. However, the superintendent rejected the request, stating it would be a “liability concern” and a violation of “separation of church and state.” Kennedy was banned from even bowing his head in prayer as a coach at Bremerton High School.

On October 21, Kennedy refused to bow to this infringement of his First Amendment rights and once again knelt down and prayed after the second-to-last football game of the season. Exactly a week later, he received a letter from the district superintendent that read, “Effective immediately, pending further District review of your conduct, you are placed on paid administrative leave from your position as an assistant coach with the Bremerton High School football program. You may not participate, in any capacity, in BHS football program activities.” Kennedy was suspended from the high school prior to the final game of the season and his contract was not renewed, which had the effect of permanently ending his time coaching the Bremerton High School football team.

On December 15, Kennedy filed a charge of religious discrimination against Bremerton School District with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). He argued the school district “violated [his] right to free exercise of religion and free speech by prohibiting [his] private religious expression.” The U.S. Department of Justice issued a right-to-sue letter to Kennedy on June 27, 2016. The First Liberty Institute then filed a formal lawsuit against the Bremerton School District on August 9, 2016, but his claims were rejected by the federal district court. Kennedy appealed this decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which held oral arguments in the case on June 12, 2017. We will have to continue to wait and see how this religious freedom case plays out in the courts.

In No Fear, Perkins declares, “Faith says, ‘I can do all things.’ Fear says, ‘What will they think of us? What will they do to us?” Kennedy let his faith speak louder than his fear of what man would do to him. He had faith that the Lord will carry him through this trial even after it cost him his career. Ultimately, man cannot harm him as the Lord is on his side. In the courts today, Kennedy is living out Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” He did not let his fear of man take precedence over his fear of the Lord when he continued to kneel in prayer after football games. I applaud Coach Kennedy for choosing to please God rather than man.

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Release Charlie Gard

by Arina Grossu

July 6, 2017

Arina Grossu, FRC’s Director of the Center for Human Dignity, delivered the following speech on July 6, 2017 at a press conference for #CharlieGard at the National Press Club.

Good afternoon and thank you for being here. We are encouraged by the outpouring of love and support that Charlie Gard and his parents, Chris and Connie have gotten from all over the world, in their quest to take Charlie out of the U.K. for nucleoside bypass therapy. They have already raised $1.7 million in private funds and they even had offers from a U.S. hospital for free treatment and also for him to stay at the Vatican hospital. We are encouraged that Pope Francis and President Trump have expressed support for Charlie and his family. President Trump has requested a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May at the G20 Summit in Germany tomorrow and a family spokesman said, “The White House has been in talks with Charlie’s family, GOSH, the UK Government, the Department of Health and the American doctor who wants to treat Charlie.”

The question at hand is not whether the treatment is going to work for Charlie, who has TK-2 related mitochondrial depletion syndrome. We hope that it does and we know that it has for others with less severe forms of mitochondrial depletion syndrome—others who are alive today as a result of their treatment. Why should Charlie be deprived of the same chance?

We urge the British government, the courts, and the hospital to release Charlie. You are holding him hostage. This is a case about parental rights coming into conflict with socialized medicine. Who should decide what’s in the best interest of Charlie? His parents. Not the courts. Not the hospital. Not the government.

As Wesley Smith so aptly put it, “The refusal to allow Charlie’s parents to remove their baby boy from the hospital is an act of bioethical aggression that will extend futile-care controversies, creating a duty to die at the time and place of doctors’ choosing. And that raises a crucial liberty question: Whose baby is Charlie Gard? His parents’? Or are sick babies—and others facing futile-care impositions—ultimately owned by the hospital and the state?”

It is Chris and Connie, his parents, who have the right to seek treatment for their son—treatment that has been successful for little Maxwell Smith, another British boy who was also diagnosed with TK2-related MDS. He was diagnosed at 9 months and treated with nucleoside bypass therapy. He is still alive at 5 ½ years old as a result. Doctors of another boy, Arturo Estopiñan, told his parents that there was no treatment and that he would die soon. Arturo is still alive today at 6 years old as a result of this therapy. Arturo’s parents said that their son “would surely be dead by now” if he was not granted access to the treatment. The therapy is a simple oral medication.

Please don’t deprive Charlie of a chance at therapy. Charlie’s parents have said in a tearful plea, “We’re not allowed to choose if our son lives.” They also said, “If he’s still fighting, we’re still fighting.”

Chris and Connie, please be assured that we join you in prayer and we support you in your right to parental authority.

We must protect the rights of parents to make decisions for their children’s health—decisions that are based with best interests in mind. We must protect Charlie, the most vulnerable person among us.

We are praying for you Charlie, Chris, and Connie at this most stressful time. You are not alone. You have supporters all around the world.

And to the U.K and Great Osmond Street Hospital, please free Charlie so that he can have a fighting chance at life. The world is watching and waiting for you to do the right thing and release Charlie to his parents.

Thank you.

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Social Conservative Review - July 3, 2017

by Daniel Hart

July 3, 2017

Dear Friends,

From its very beginnings, America has always been the destination of freedom seekers. Immigrants from all over the world have flocked to America’s shores in the hope of finding something that their own native countries often lacked, but which they knew in their hearts must be possessed by every human person: freedom.

But what is “freedom”? This is a debate that we continue to have as a country. As hundreds of U.S. citizens can attest, even a free democracy such as ours is prone to infringe upon the freedoms of its people unless it possesses a proper understanding of “freedom.”

Many think that freedom is simply the ability to choose whatever one wants. The problem with this thinking is that when someone chooses evil, it is not only bad for that person but also bad for everyone who is affected by that person’s evil choice. True freedom, in the words of one author, “is a calling to realize in ourselves what is true about us, a calling to actualize in us all what is true, good, and beautiful.” This Christian understanding of freedom is not constraining, as many argue. Rather, it is freeing. How? Because “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.’”

The lightness of being and the joy that we experience when we freely choose good is a testament to God’s design for freedom. This Fourth of July, let us celebrate the true freedom that Christ has fashioned in our lives and in our great country.

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

Report: Attacks On America’s First Freedom Increased 76 Percent In Three YearsTravis Weber

We Must Act While We Still CanTony Perkins

Trump, Congress Should Halt Transgender Military Policy that Costs BillionsPeter Sprigg

Supreme Court Delivers Big Wins for Religious FreedomTravis Weber

Abortion Activists are Still Trying to Put David Daleiden in Jail for Exposing Planned ParenthoodTony Perkins

Pentagon Transgender Agenda Won’t Improve Military Readiness, Costs $3.7 BillionTony Perkins

Trump Set to Follow in Gipper’s Footsteps, Making Work Center of Social Welfare PolicyKen Blackwell

FRC’s Updated Hostility Report Shows Religious Organizations on the Front Lines of the Fight for Religious FreedomChris Baldacci

School Board Rigs System for Transgender WinCathy Ruse

When Campuses Become Battlefields: Protecting Free Speech in a Hostile EnvironmentIan Frith

Taxpayer-Funded Transgender Tutorial for Schoolchildren TankedCathy Ruse

5th Circuit Rejects Effort to Take Down Conscience ProtectionsTravis Weber

10 Things Every New Father Should KnowDan Hart

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

Nonprofit Tracker Smears Dozens of Conservative Organizations as ‘Hate Groups’Rachel del Guidice, The Daily Signal

The Southern Poverty Law Center Bears False WitnessSamuel D. James, First Things

Supreme Court Rules 7-2: Yes, Christians Are Citizens TooKathy Schiffer, National Catholic Register

Missouri Tried to Discriminate Against a Church for No Good Reason. How the Supreme Court Leveled the Playing Field.Emilie Kao, The Daily Signal

Federal Judge Rules Cross Violates Law and Must Be RemovedToddStarnes.com

Prejudice and the Blaine AmendmentsPhilip Hamburger, First Things

Indiana Christian school at center of LGBT voucher debate – Brian Slodysko and Maria Danilova, The Washington Times

Mississippi can enforce LGBT religious objections law: court – Fox News

University to remove cross and Bibles from campus chapel – Todd Starnes, Fox News

Legal Radicals Don’t Want the ‘Separation of Church and State’ – David French, National Review

International Religious Freedom

Peru Fights Back Against Gender IdeologyVictor Gaetan, National Catholic Register

Russell Moore, Franklin Graham Orgs. Urge Trump to Tackle Severe Persecution of Sudanese ChristiansStoyan Zaimov, The Christian Post

Swedish Midwife to Fight for Rights at European CourtBob Paulson, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

 

Life

Abortion

New Study Shows Why Fathers Matter in the Abortion FightVincent DiCaro, Care Net

US Rejects UN Resolution Supporting AbortionThe Christian Post

This Is The New Face Of The Pro-Life MovementTorey Van Oot, Refinery29

Oregon House Democrats pass bill providing free abortions for all, including illegal aliensValerie Richardson, The Washington Times

Bioethics

Video: How Adult Stem Cells Helped Jackie Stollfus be a MomCharlotte Lozier Institute

Doctor: Insurance Wouldn’t Pay for Patients’ Treatments, but Offered Assisted SuicideKelsey Harkness, The Daily Signal

The Court-Ordered Killing of Charlie GardIan Tuttle, National Review

When the “Right to Die” Becomes a Death SentenceMatthew Archbold, National Catholic Register

Physicians Without Chests: On the Call to End Conscientious Objection in MedicineMichael D. Stark and Grace Stark, Public Discourse

Yanking Life Support From UK Baby Demonstrates Dangers Of Socialized MedicineNicole Russell, The Federalist

Obamacare

Americans Struggling Under Obamacare Tell Pence ‘Real Story’Fred Lucas, The Daily Signal

 

Family

Economics/Education

Why Genuine Liberal Arts Degrees Are A Perfect Fit For Today’s Uncertain Economy – Christine Goss, The Federalist

The Crisis of the Economic Right and the Case for Reform Conservatism – Max Bloom, National Review

DeVos Should Take on Education’s Reformocracy – Frederick M. Hess & Michael Q. Mcshane, National Review

From playgrounds to classrooms – Leigh Jones, WORLD

We’re having fewer babies. Could that kill the economy? – Ariana Eunjung Cha, The Washington Post

Marriage

Ruth and Boaz: A Romance That Models God’s Love for UsRay Vander Laan, Focus on the Family

Faith and Marriage: Better Together?W. Bradford Wilcox, Principles

The Most Important Text on MarriageDavid Mathis, Desiring God

As Wedding Costs Rise, Perhaps It’s Time to Invest More in Marriage PrepAmber Lapp, Family Studies

PTSD and marriage: Advice from someone who’s been therePatricia Eden, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Faith/Character/Culture

Why Can’t Americans Enjoy Life?John Horvat II, Crisis

A Map of the SoulMichael Egnor, First Things

The ‘Church’ of Facebook?Alex Duke, The Gospel Coalition

In Defense of DoubtRobert B. Greving, Crisis

Christianity: A Bargain That Will Cost You EverythingJoe Heschmeyer, Word On Fire

Human Sexuality

Problems with Puberty Suppression in Treating Gender DysphoriaPaul W. Hruz, Lawrence S. Mayer, Paul R. McHugh, The New Atlantis

The Transgender Agenda vs. the ScienceRick Fitzgibbons, The Catholic Thing

Same-Sex Attraction and Therapy: It’s Time to Let People ChooseArthur Goldberg, Public Discourse

German Parliament votes to legalize same-sex ‘marriage’Claire Chretien, LifeSiteNews

LGBT Mega-Donor Reveals Next Goal: ‘Punish the Wicked’ Gay Marriage OpponentsSamuel Smith, The Christian Post

Pornography

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

Our Odyssey Against Sexual Temptation – Jimmy Needham, Desiring God

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FRC’s Updated Hostility Report Shows Religious Organizations on the Front Lines of the Fight for Religious Freedom

by Chris Baldacci

June 30, 2017

At most metro stops in D.C., workers give out free copies of the Washington Post Express to commuters. The week before Family Research Council published its updated report “Hostility to Religion: The Growing Threat to Religious Liberty in the United States,” the front of the Express was covered by a full-page advertisement sponsored by Catholics for Choice. It pictured a caricature of a bishop, pointing at the reader like Uncle Sam, with the caption, “We want YOU to help us discriminate.” On the inside flap, the ad chastised Catholic schools, hospitals, and charities that decline to offer birth control, abortions, or facilitate same-sex marriage, claiming that this is intolerable discrimination. These are not new allegations. Catholics for Choice ran a similar ad last year, and the ACLU hosts an “Issues” page that outlines their mission to fight organizations that use “religion to discriminate.”

The ability of organizations to operate according to their beliefs is an increasingly significant battleground in the fight for religious liberty. Bolstered by the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges and increased support for sexual autonomy among the public, liberal organizations are no longer content to see the government affirm the LGBT rights movement—religious groups must acquiesce as well.

FRC’s updated report highlights a few poignant examples of this opposition to the freedom of religious organizations:

  • In the last decade, Catholic Charities has lost millions in government contracts and sometimes shut down entire branches rather than act in violation of Catholic teachings about abortion or marriage.
  • A group of Christian colleges had to seek an administrative exemption in 2014 from an Obama administration regulation that would have barred them from requiring teachers to follow biblical teachings on sexuality. The schools faced protests and were lambasted in the media for their petition.
  • In 2015, a Catholic school was sued and settled out of court with a fired teacher that identified as homosexual. It was allegedly illegal for the school to require instructors to follow Church teachings concerning homosexuality.
  • Two separate religious hospitals were sued in 2017 and criticized for not offering gender reassignment surgery to patients who identified as transgender.

Beyond the pragmatic harm that lawsuits and boycotts inflict on organizations, these mounting attacks threaten the very heart of what it means to be a religious group. Religious convictions are the impetus for religious organizations. For example, belief in justice and mercy motivates charities and hospitals, belief in specific ethical and philosophical principles motivates religious schools, and religious nonprofits often advance a targeted worldview. For these institutions to abandon their principles would be to sacrifice the integrity of their mission. Yet the radical left has used its political and legal power to require them to do just that.

The aforementioned stories highlight the stunning hypocrisy of progressive activists’ attacks on religious freedom: amidst their cries for tolerance, they refuse to tolerate beliefs that they disagree with. They demand that religious institutions check their beliefs at the door and act according to the majority sentiment rather than the dictates of their faith. Moreover, it is the opponents of religious liberty who are “forcing their beliefs on others” by demanding that organizations comply with the progressive left’s beliefs that abortion is not murder, same-sex marriages can be sacrosanct, and those who identify as transgender should be fully affirmed in their chosen identity.

Our laws must safeguard the right of religious organizations to act on their beliefs. The free exercise of religion, as guaranteed by the First Amendment, does not simply protect the right to think or believe whatever we want (no one is going after our thoughts – yet). The First Amendment is special because it protects the right to act according to our beliefs, hence the term “exercise.” Thankfully, the Supreme Court has affirmed this principle in recent cases like Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which ruled that family businesses can opt-out of covering abortion-causing drugs and services if doing so violates their sincere religious convictions. Such decisions must become the norm to protect not only religious business owners, but religious organizations and religious liberty itself. Without the freedom to believe and act according to those beliefs, the freedom of religion is irreparably devalued.

To read more of the updated FRC report “Hostility to Religion: The Growing Threat to Religious Liberty in the United States,” please visit: http://www.frc.org/hostilityreport

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School Board Rigs System for Transgender Win

by Cathy Ruse

June 30, 2017

The Chairman of the Prince William County School Board didn’t want to leave anything to chance last week when he pushed for the passage of transgender norms in public schools.

Apparently, he stacked the deck before the vote, front-loading citizen speakers in favor of his position, and relegating those opposed to the end of the line, after the vote. 

The transgender policy passed 5-3.

Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13) obtained text messages (below) from Prince William School Board Chair Ryan Sawyers via FOIA request showing that Sawyers hand-picked speakers who favored imposing a new transgender policy in Prince William Schools to speak prior to the School Board vote on that issue at their June 21st meeting.

A Legislative Services attorney advised Marshall that the Prince William School Board’s own regulations (133-1) in sections B and E, provide that persons are to speak in the order in which they have put in their requests to speak. 

Not only did Chairman Sawyers fail to follow the rules, he trampled on the First Amendment rights of Prince William county residents according to attorney Caleb Dalton.

If the transgender agenda is so appealing, why do you need to rig a meeting to get it passed?

Taxpayers and parents in Prince William County deserve better than this.

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When Campuses Become Battlefields: Protecting Free Speech in a Hostile Environment

by Ian Frith

June 29, 2017

College campuses have become increasingly hostile grounds for political discourse. Citing safety concerns, student groups all over the country have seen their events cancelled by university administrators worried about violence on college campuses. Speakers who have managed to appear on campuses have found themselves harassed by student protestors, and have even faced violence by opposition groups. Take for example, Charles Murray’s attempt to speak at Middlebury College in Vermont. Not only was Murray shouted down with profanity by an enraged progressive student body, but Middlebury Professor Allison Stanger was physically assaulted for accompanying Murray on campus.

This disturbing trend has drawn national attention, and prompted a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. On Tuesday, June 20th, the committee met to discuss the volatile environment on college campuses in relation to the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. The committee heard from seven witnesses including two students who alleged free speech violations on their campuses, several college professors and administrators who have dealt with controversial events on their campuses, and two lawyers associated with First Amendment and hate speech issues. One of these lawyers was Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Cohen has been criticized for SPLC’s labeling of their political opponents as “hate groups,” a designation various progressive groups on college campuses have exploited to justify threatening the free speech of conservatives.

Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) opened the hearing by citing several particularly grievous violations of freedom of speech, including students who were arrested at Kellogg College for distributing the Constitution outside of the designated “free speech zone.” These outrageous actions were condemned by both Republican and Democratic senators alike. The First Amendment does not exist merely to defend opinions that everyone agrees with, it also protects those opinions which are controversial or offensive. Unfortunately, many on the Left only associate hate speech with conservative groups, and ignore hate speech by progressives. Senator Ted Cruz had it right when he said, “truth is far more powerful than force… if your ideas are right there is no need to muzzle the opposition.” College campuses ought to protect speech, because in doing so they’ll help further thoughtful debate.

A highlight of the hearing was the testimony of Zachary Wood, a student at Williams College and president of the organization Uncomfortable Learning. Although he identifies himself as a progressive liberal, Mr. Wood deliberately sought out conservative speakers to invite them to speak because he wanted to start a dialogue on campus. Wood eloquently defended campus free speech when he said “humanity is not limited to the views and values we admire, it also encompasses the views and values that we resist.” One controversial speaker invited by Wood was conservative commentator John Derbyshire. Predictably, the invitation caused a severe backlash and resulted in the president of the university unilaterally cancelling Derbyshire’s speech. The administration then immediately imposed new regulations for students who wished to invite speakers to campus.                                                                     

Several of the school administrators testified that they have had to deal with violent opposition groups on their campus. UCLA Professor Eugene Volokh stated that groups who are trying to force a “heckler’s veto” must be strongly reprimanded. “Behavior that is rewarded is repeated… these thugs have to learn that their behavior is not acceptable.” While college administrators appearing before the committee were generally in favor of protected free speech, some did acknowledge that there are challenges in striking a balance between campus safety and free speech. Dr. Fanta Aw of American University stated that “freedom of expression is integral to the mission of higher education, however protecting it has become increasingly difficult due to our national climate, as well as changing views by younger students regarding the First Amendment.” With an increasingly polarized political climate, this issue isn’t going away anytime soon. It is essential that these universities and administrators continue protect speech on their campuses.

Not all the senators were as adamant about the defense of free speech. Citing a lack of resources on the part of the Berkeley police department, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) redirected the conversation towards the nature of the violent protestors involved, and away from First Amendment issues. Senator Feinstein’s attempt to pit public safety against free speech are misguided at best, and deceptive at worst. While it is important that college campuses remain safe environments for learning, safety must not be bought at the price of silencing minority views on campus.  Richard Cohen of the SPLC went one step further, blaming much of the atmosphere on college campuses on the national climate post-election, and specifically the actions of the “alt-right” and white nationalism. He also defended an SPLC publication entitled The Battle for Berkeley, which claimed that “in the name of free speech, the alt-right is assaulting the ivory tower.” Attacks on free speech should not be partisan, but Cohen ignored many groups on the Left who have also been responsible for inciting violence both on college campuses and elsewhere. In fact, SPLC’s labeling of conservative organizations as “hate groups” has been connected to violence against conservative groups, including the 2012 FRC shooting by Floyd Lee Corkins II (who cited SPLC’s designation of Family Research Council as a “hate group”), and the most recent shooting in Alexandria involving GOP Majority Whip Steve Scalise.                       

Near the conclusion of the hearing, Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) condemned the President of Williams’ College Adam Falk. Senator Kennedy admonished Falk for treating progressive liberal campus groups and speakers differently than conservative groups and speakers, and called that sort of favoritism “intellectually dishonest.” Mr. Fredrick Lawrence also defended the role of universities hosting controversial speakers saying “[There should always] be a strong presumption in favor of the speech.” He emphasized that limits should be established only based on the intent of the speaker, never the substance or the content. This is an excellent standard that is well established in public policy.   

Despite differing priorities regarding the protection of free speech on college campuses, it was encouraging to see a measure of bipartisanship in support of free speech at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. As a millennial college student, I am glad that there is a concerted effort in Congress to protect my right to free speech. While I was disappointed in the attempts of Senator Feinstein and Richard Cohen to shift blame, I am confident free speech on college campuses proved more persuasive. The right of free speech is a cornerstone in our society, and it must be protected if we are to continue to have meaningful discussion about other policy issues.

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Taxpayer-Funded Transgender Tutorial for Schoolchildren Tanked

by Cathy Ruse

June 29, 2017

The Fairfax County School System will not get to have a taxpayer-funded transgender “panel discussion” after all.

Last week, Fairfax County Schools announced the “Coming Out and Coming Around” event to be held in July: “Join us for an LGBTQ panel discussion.  Parents, counselors and LGBTQ adolescents will share experiences and answer your questions. Browse LGBTQ resources in the Parent Resource Center library.”

This did not sit well with Fairfax County property owners, who send most of their property taxes every year to the Fairfax County School Board. Aren’t “panel discussions” supposed to be fair and balanced, especially if they are funded by taxpayers with a broad range of views?

Fairfax families pushed back, and the bureaucrats buckled.

One savvy mom called and peppered a counselor with questions:

Are you representing both sides on this panel? “We have no sides.”

Oh really, well, will there be anyone on the panel discussing negative consequences to children from transitioning? Or that it might not be in the best interest for a child to transition?  In so many words, “No.”

Anybody on the panel that does not advocate children transitioning? In so many words, “No.”

Since this is an academic setting, have you considered including diversity of thought on this? Diverse perspectives from medicine, science? Ever heard of Dr. Paul McHugh? No. No. And No.

This tax-funded “panel” has been officially “postponed” until the fall.

It’s a small victory in the fight against political indoctrination of public school children.

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