FRC Blog

Poll Shows Americans Want Christmas in Schools and Religion in Public Life

by Travis Weber

December 22, 2015

According to polling recently released by Rasmussen, large percentages of Americans want more religion manifested in the public square and in public life.

76% believe Christmas should be celebrated in public schools, and 54% say there’s not enough religion in the public schools. Of those adults “with school-age children at home, 82% favor celebrating Christmas in public schools, and 61% believe there should be more religion in those schools.”

Interestingly, “[s]ignificant majorities of adults across most demographic categories believe Christmas should be celebrated in public schools.” 80% of adults who celebrate Christmas in their family support it being in schools, compared to just 27% of those who don’t celebrate the holiday, and 60% of adults 40 and over think there is not enough religion in public schools. 71% think Christmas should be “more about Jesus Christ than about Santa Claus.”

57% of Americans favor prayer in public school, and 73% support “giving parents a choice between a school that allows prayer and one that does not.”

Americans largely support religion playing a prominent role in public life: 57% say it is not possible to have a healthy community without churches or a religious presence. 71% of Americans say their religious faith is important in their daily life, and 49% consider it “very important.”

Americans also appear to be tiring of government’s over-sensitivity to political correctness. 42% of U.S. voters believe that “when it comes to the concerns of racial, ethnic, religious and social minorities in America, the government is too sensitive.” 29% say the government is not sensitive enough to those groups, and 18% think the level of government sensitivity is about right, while 12% are not sure.

While governments and activist groups may want to scrub the public square of religion, the American public itself doesn’t want that. Any way you slice it, people are voicing the view that religion has a role to play in our society, and it isn’t going away.

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The Cost of President Obama’s Cultural Imperialism

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 21, 2015

The Obama administration has made a huge investment in advancing gay rights as part of its foreign policy. According to today’s New York Times:

In late 2011, the Obama administration made the promotion of gay rights an integral part of American foreign policy. Since then, it has pushed for the decriminalization of homosexuality overseas, working with the United Nations and private groups. Since 2012, U.S.A.I.D. has spent more than $700 million on the effort globally, starting new programs related to gay rights and incorporating the promotion of such rights into existing ones, according to American officials. Agency officials declined to release details of the programs in Africa, citing security concerns.”

President Obama and his allies see this as an effort to defend homosexuals from persecution. This is, in itself, a noble goal; no one should be brutalized or dehumanized in law or practice.

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Hello to America - in Arabic?

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 18, 2015

Germany is working to assimilate its growing Muslim population with new online videos, “Marhaba” (“hello” in Arabic).

In “a series of ten, five-minute online videos,” the show “reminds viewers that German Basic Law—the constitution—takes precedence over all others, including Sharia.”

Writing in Breitbart.com, Donna Rachel Edmunds notes that “There are approximately four million Muslims currently living in Germany, three quarters of whom are Turks who arrived in the country in the 1960s and 70s under Germany’s ‘guest worker’ scheme. However, half of that group have failed to integrate, and the speed of the current influx poses similar problems for integrating the new wave of one million asylum seekers.”

Reuters explains “Marhaba’s” emphasis on Germany’s view of essential human rights and liberties:

“Freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly are just three of the main rights secured by the (German) Basic Law,” (the host) tells viewers, with the Reichstag parliament building in the background.
The three fundamental rights are particularly sacred in Germany given that its history is scarred by the “horrors of dictatorship,” he continues. The Basic Law (Grundgesetz in German), (the host) says, was the foundation of the new democratic Germany established after World War Two.
The episode is filmed in Berlin’s government quarter where Deputy Finance Minister Jens Spahn, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats, explains what freedom of expression looks like in Germany.
“Freedom of speech means everyone may say what they think. Freedom of the press means you may make jokes, even about religion,” Spahn says. “Even when jokes are made about the Koran, this must be tolerated.”

The German effort is impressive: gracious in tone, clear in explanation, surefooted in content. As America takes in immigrants and refugees from the world over, should we not have a similar and perhaps even mandatory program for them to watch in order to understand some of the core principles of our republic and the nature of freedom itself? Perhaps even an explanation that as the Declaration of Independence argues, our rights come from our Creator, not the state, whose duty it is to guard those rights?

How would the Left respond to such a thing—with accusations of indoctrination and ominous warnings about right-wing propagandization?

What do you think?

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Courts Begin to Tell Christian Schools If What They Believe Matters

by Travis Weber

December 18, 2015

A Massachusetts state court has held that a Catholic school cannot decide whom to hire or fire based on the school’s religious beliefs regarding homosexual conduct and court-created same-sex marriage. While courts have for some time issued decisions which infringe more and more on private religious institutions’ autonomy, we are now seeing the rising tide of infringement of religious beliefs regarding same-sex conduct. Prepare for the deluge.

Predictably, the court flatly rejected the school’s claim to be able to hire based on its core religious beliefs. The Massachusetts employment statute at issue did contain a religious exemption, but the court read it narrowly, and held that Fontbonne Academy did not fall under the exemption. Thus, the school was bound by the statute’s provisions prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which the court easily found to have been violated.

One portion of the opinion is particularly revealing. The court observed that the school did not require prospective employees to hold to Catholic beliefs except for some positions — the position at issue here not included. Yet the court acknowledged that the school asked the employee here if he could “buy into” being a “minister of the mission” of the school — which included promoting the school’s religious beliefs, as required of all employees. He said he could!

Aside from brushing past this misrepresentation (the employee could not “buy into” a mission when his own life contradicted some of its core moral tenets), the court misses the point that the mission the employee was asked to promote, which includes the Christian teaching on marriage, and the understanding that homosexual conduct is wrong — is required of Catholic and other traditions within Christianity (and, indeed, other religions entirely). The court jumps through hoops to construe the statute in a way that avoids recognizing this is the exact type of religious mission that religious employment exemptions are meant to protect. The court similarly engaged in logical and legal contortions to dismiss the school’s other claims.

This decision is very problematic for religious liberty. Hopefully the school will appeal.

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What Are We Made For?

by Daniel Hart

December 17, 2015

The great celebration of the birth of Christ is quickly approaching. In the spirit of the season, it seems appropriate to reflect on our humanness and what it all means. After all, God created us in His own image, as the Book of Genesis tells us. He then proceeded to come to us in the form of a newborn baby in Bethlehem. We can infer from this that being human is something incomparably unique and of the utmost importance in all of creation. What, then, is our purpose for existing? Much of this question can be deduced by what’s inherent in our very physicality, in the bodies that we’ve been given.

What seems most obvious is that we are not animals. We have fingers with soft, rounded tips, not claws. We have teeth with smoothed edges, not sharp-pointed fangs. Our delicate feet must be protected by artificial soles against the thorns and rocks of the ground, unlike hoofs or paws. Our bodies are swathed in sensitive, malleable skin, not a hardened shell or thick fur—we must wrap ourselves in manufactured protective layers against the elements. This inherent vulnerability in all of us makes it clear that we’re not meant to prey upon each other in a survival-of-the-fittest free-for-all as the animals do. So what are we meant for?

Let’s dig a little deeper. We’ve been given brains that are far more powerful than any computer, capable of both grounded logic and abstract reasoning. To express what we process there, we’ve been given a voice box unique among all living things, capable of articulating language at a level of sophistication and nuance that is unmatched. What is most immediately expressive, however, are our eyes, which convey emotions and feelings with such clarity and depth that by the observation of them alone, a window into the soul of another is opened.

Perhaps, then, we are made for the other, for love. Why? Because everything we think, say and do loses all meaning if there is not another to receive it, and our bodies are thus designed to give and receive in love. Our hands are for tender caresses and firm support; when we swing and hit with clenched fists, the result is fractured knuckles. Our voices are for strong proclamation and kind encouragement; when we shout angrily, our throats become hoarse. Furthermore, even the most intimate parts of us, our male and female sexual faculties, must be given and received in complementary mutual love to have any meaning. Indeed, even our most intimate prayers and longings of the heart are directed to another person—God the Son.

What does all this reveal? At the most fundamental level, this tells us that our lives are not ours. In cooperation with God the Father, our mother and father brought us into existence in an act of love. We did not choose to come into existence—it is a gift freely given to us. Therefore, we are called to be grateful and satisfied with the body and the life that we are given, and to resist the temptation to grasp at what we think we deserve. Since our lives are a gift freely given, we must in turn freely give it away, as Christ did. As Christians throughout history can attest, the greatest freedom and joy can be found in this.

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Social Conservative Review: An Insider’s Guide to Pro-Family News December 3, 2015

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 3, 2015

Click here to subscribe to the Social Conservative Review


Over the past few days, we’ve learned the story of a newborn baby left in a Nativity scene at the Holy Child Jesus Church in Queens, New York.  The babe was found lying in a manger, wrapped in towels.  Sound familiar?

Thankfully, the baby was found within an hour of being left in the crèche, discovered by a custodian.  It’s good to know that “under NY safe haven law, which permits a parent to leave a child in a safe place (such as a hospital or church) with hope of their being taken care of, (the baby’s mother) will not be charged with child abandonment. And as it turns out, there are parents in the parish who have already asked to adopt the baby.”

A baby rescued in the representation of a manger.  Of course, another Baby came to a manger, but the difference in the stories is that Jesus came to rescue us.  As Paul the apostle wrote the church in Galatia, Jesus “gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (1:4).  Born in a stable, laid in a feeding trough, the Lord of the universe came to us as a baby.  Fragile, vulnerable, tiny.  No words can capture the dimensions of this miracle.

Last week, we were reminded that the fragility of human life is not limited to the little ones among us.  A maddened shooter murdered three people at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado.  Ironically, one of them was police officer Garrett Swasey.  In addition to his service protecting and defending his community, Officer Swasey also served, part-time, as a pastor (take a few moments to listen to his compelling, Gospel-rich last sermon). 

Those murdered in Colorado were as precious as the baby found in Holy Child Jesus Church.  So were those aborted in the clinic in which the victims were killed.  So are their mothers.  So is every life, within the womb and outside it.  As FRC President Tony Perkins said last week, “Only through peaceful means –not violence— can we truly become a nation that once again values all human life, born and unborn.”

Sincerely,
Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice-President
Family Research Council

P.S. Be sure to watch Dr. David Prentice’s presentation this week at FRC, “Malevolence or Benevolence? Fetal Tissue Research, Planned Parenthood’s abortions, and Embryonic Stem Cells.”


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Note: U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has given a number of thoughtful speeches on the centrality of religious liberty to our country.  His most recent, delivered in the Senate on December 1, is titled, “Hatch Affirms that Religion is Indispensable to Democracy.”

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Peas in a Rotting Pod: Woodrow Wilson and Margaret Sanger

by Rob Schwarzwalder

November 24, 2015

So, Woodrow Wilson was a racist. This is indisputable. It’s also why many black students at the school for Wilson was once president, Princeton, are calling for a renewed assessment of his legacy there and as president of the United States.

We don’t want Woodrow Wilson’s legacy to be erased,” said Wilglory Tanjong, a member of the protesting Black Justice League, told the New York Times. “But we think that you can definitely understand your history without idolizing or turning Wilson into some kind of god, which is essentially what they’ve done.”

In my view, that’s a good balance. We need not unduly lionize prominent people, especially people like Wilson whose moral narcissism, disdain for constitutional government, and ineptitude in foreign policy resulted in tragedy and political chaos. Yet we can’t scrub our history of all unsavory aspects of its past. Stalinized portrayals of history, in which people who for whatever reason have fallen out of favor are airbrushed-out of photographs and deleted from written accounts, are dishonest and chilling. Such an approach not only invites fascism and statist control, it embodies such.

Across the street from my building, a bust of the late eugenicist and Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger sits in honored glory in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. Here is one choice giblet of insight from Mrs. Sanger for inclusion in the gravy of her secular adulation:

We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.” Woman, Morality, and Birth Control. New York: New York Publishing Company, 1922, page 12

As historian Paul Kengor notes, “Was Sanger plotting to eliminate all blacks? Of course not. But she was plotting to control the reproduction of blacks and of the human race generally.”

And as my distinguished colleague Ken Blackwell writes, “Sanger sought to recruit Black pastors because she did not want the word to get out in our churches that she wanted to eliminate America’s Black population. Sanger constantly denied any such intent, but she argued incessantly for creating ‘a race of thoroughbreds.’ Not since the days of Slavery had such language been used, comparing human lives to horse breeding.”

Later in life, Sanger seems to have changed her tune, at least a wee bit. “The Negro race has reached a place in its history when every possible effort should be made to have every Negro child count as a valuable contribution to the future of America. Negro parents, like all parents, must create the next generation from strength, not from weakness; from health, not from despair,” she wrote in 1946.

Yet one must ask, who did Sanger think she was to determine which baby was or wasn’t a “valuable contribution” to America’s future? Her concerns about the health and well-being of black mothers and their children, expressed elsewhere in the 1946 piece quoted above (“Love or Babies: Must Negro Mothers Choose?”) were in themselves admirable, yet her solutions — widespread use of contraceptives to alleviate the suffering of black women and their babies and compulsory sterilization of “defectives” — hardly constitute a compassionate approach.

In many other writings, Sanger wrote of “human weeds” and advocated widespread forced sterilization. In sum, her belief in coercive population control and her apparent desire to “exterminate” the “Negro race” (note: she wrote this at the age of 43, not as an immature young woman) should animate her bust’s removal from the Smithsonian every bit as much as Wilson’s racism in belief and practice should temper Princeton’s reverential recognition of him as one of its greatest sons.

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Turning Bad News into Action

by Jamie Dangers

November 24, 2015

There’s a lot of bad news these days. It can be hard to know how to process the global, national, and local tragedies that we hear with unsettling frequency. Headlines, tweets, and statuses are overrun with urgent cries of outrage, fear, and blind accusation. Truly, it can be crushing if we get caught under the weight of endless waves of tragedy and languish there.

What is the alternative? We could, I suppose, pretend everything is fine. We could steel our hearts and mind our own business.

But what good is there in that?

We can’t fix problems we don’t acknowledge. Pretending problems don’t exist will not make them go away. In fact, ignoring them will only allow them to persist.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who lived through times of evil and persecution we can only imagine, said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

I suggest when we read or hear or see bad news, we do so actively and intentionally. Use the hard things to remind us to pray, to inspire a discontent that leads to firm and compassionate action.

I would also ask you to read this article by David Altrogge, writer and producer of 3801 Lancaster: An American Tragedy. FRC was privileged to join Congressmen Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) in hosting in the U.S. Capitol a reception and screening of 3801 Lancaster, a profound documentary that shows what happens when people choose to do nothing in the face of evil. I would ask you to consider hosting a screening of the movie yourself, at your church, community center, or campus. Atrocities are being committed against unborn children and women across our country, in our own back yards, and we cannot afford to pretend this isn’t happening. It is a hard movie. But watch it with hope — when evil is exposed, it can be vanquished.

What will you do?

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A Common-Sense Strategy in the Battle Against Pornography

by Daniel Hart

November 19, 2015

NOTE: Those who are grappling with a serious pornography addiction will most likely need help beyond the advice given here. Being part of a support group, having accountability partners and cultivating a robust prayer life anchored in God’s Word are all crucial to overcoming an addiction to pornography. Click here for more resources on combatting addiction.

National White Ribbon Against Pornography (WRAP) Week has come and gone, but the battle for hearts and minds must continue. Important, common-sense strategies in the fight against pornography consumption often seem overlooked in regard to addressing the porn epidemic in our society. Therefore, this post will focus on the simple reality that natural sexual desires and energy can be redirected, and that this is something that is healthy and necessary for human beings to flourish. If more people applied this practice in their daily lives, it would stem the demand for porn that is fueling its production and dissemination.

First, it’s important to remember that even in today’s hyper-sexualized culture, most people still think that watching porn is morally wrong. And yet, studies show that two-thirds of men and over one-third of women in the United States use porn on a monthly basis, and half of all Internet traffic is related to sex. Clearly, there is a disconnect between what people know in their hearts to be true, and what they actually do despite what their conscience tells them.

How does this happen? Justifying immoral behavior to oneself is easy, especially when our culture literally encourages it. In a society where contraception, premarital sex, and one-click-away Internet porn are the norm, satisfying sexual urges is seen as akin to eating or sleeping, as if it must be done in order to function normally. Implicit in this assumption is the belief that we are merely animals who must masturbate or copulate on impulse like baboons. The problem with this view is that it does not reflect the actual experience of those who attempt to placate these urges through porn consumption and masturbation—instead of feeling satisfied, the overwhelming feeling is one of guilt, disgust, and shame (even cursory searches of online discussion forums about pornography reveal this).

At the heart of this problem is the reality of sexual desire, which is something intrinsically good in nature, but is also uniquely powerful and instinctual, which means it is highly susceptible to being warped and abused. Here at FRC, we strongly believe in the inherent goodness of sex as expressed in the marital bonds of one man and one woman. Having said that, any honest discussion of sexual desire cannot stop there for the simple reason that every one of us, whether young or old, single or married, must deal with our natural desires and urges on a daily basis. Certain demographics, particularly teenagers (and men in general) experience keener surges in sexual energy. In a world of instant gratification where one can carry around the entire Internet in one’s pocket, is it any wonder why the web is saturated with pornography? Technology has put society in an unprecedented position: Even the slightest sexual urge can be indulged instantly, with one or two typed words and a couple of clicks in Google—without the trouble of having any real human interaction.

This is why it is so critical to deal with this problem at its root: What is one to do with the energy that is felt in a sexual urge or desire? As touched upon earlier, it must be made clear that there is a crucial difference between perceived sexual “needs” and the need for food or sleep. One can’t redirect their hunger or tiredness toward something else—these needs will only become worse until they are satisfied. This is simply not the case with a sexual urge. With effort, one’s sexual thoughts can be redirected toward something else, and the urge will often simply pass. The key to succeeding in this is through forming the habit of not extending a sexual thought into a prolonged fantasy, which a well-formed conscience will react to with shame. Once one recognizes the nature of the temptation at its onset, it can more easily be purified.

This is easier said than done, of course. When a stronger sexual energy does come, as it inevitably will from time to time, experience tells us that it can be redirected toward a creative activity such as playing music or dancing, or it could simply be a physical activity like going for a run, playing sports, building a bookshelf, working in your garden, landscaping, cleaning, etc. These activities combine our physical and creative capacities and provide a therapeutic outlet for our energy, whether it be sexual or otherwise.

The law of supply and demand makes it clear that as long as pornography is in demand, there will always be a supply. Through self-discipline and redirecting our sexual energy, the temptation to consume pornography can be avoided, and thus the possibility of an addiction can be stopped before it starts. This will in turn decrease the demand for porn, and eventually lead to a decrease in its production and dissemination. Some may say that this is an idealistic pipe dream, but if more people in the majority of those who believe that pornography is wrong stopped using it, the tide could begin to turn.

This mission can only be fulfilled if we not only commit to undertaking it ourselves, but also commit to instilling it in our children. Make no mistake, this is an extremely difficult battle to fight, because it must be fought not only with the prevailing culture, but also with ourselves. Nevertheless, it is a noble battle for the human heart, and therefore worth fighting for with all our might.

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