FRC Blog

Wahoo, Terps!

by Robert Morrison

September 10, 2014

I just got back from an annual trek to Charlottesville to visit my dear old alma mater, University of Virginia, when O Say Can You See? It’s not the U.Va. football team, the “Wahoos,” who are the center of attention this weekend; it’s the University of Maryland’s Terps. Fear the Turtle!

I have to take my Cavalier hat off and cheer for Maryland for this wonderful way to celebrate the 200th anniversary of  “The Defence of Fort McHenry.” (Yes, they still spelled it the British way back then.) Francis Scott Key’s great poem was written to commemorate America’s victory in a “key” battle of the War of 1812. Key’s poem became better known as “The Star Spangled Banner” and in time, it became our national anthem.

Two hundred years ago this Saturday, September 13, 1814, the British had just come north from burning Washington, D.C. Admiral George Cockburn and Gen. Robert Ross had put the White House, the Capitol, and the Library of Congress to the torch. They were acting in reprisal for the American burning of Canada’s provincial capital of York earlier in the war.

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Notre Dame and Standing on Principle

by Jonathan Abbamonte

September 8, 2014

It is a sad day for Catholic education when a Catholic institution of higher learning ignores core doctrine. It is worse yet when it happens to be the leading Catholic institution of higher learning. Recently The National Catholic Register reported that the University of Notre Dame voluntarily offered a student health insurance program that pays for the contraception and abortion services required by the HHS mandate. In essence, the University has thrown in the towel in its fight against the mandate’s encroachment on religious liberty. This move is particularly strange given the University’s pending lawsuit against the federal government.

In 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a mandate derivative of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires all employers to provide, free of charge, a number of contraceptives and abortifacient drugs to their employees. On May 21, 2012 the University of Notre Dame filed an official legal complaint against the federal government because funding contraception and abortifacients is contrary to the school’s identity as a Catholic institution. Since then, all requests for an injunction on the mandate have failed. The HHS has made eight revisions to the initial contraceptive mandate all of which have been summarily rejected by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The revisions fail to address underlying religious liberty conflicts in the ACA. Although Notre Dame’s lawsuit is still pending, the University has decided, nonetheless, to comply with the mandate of its own accord.

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Truett Cathy, “Chick-fil-A Founder, a Champion of Conservatism and Chicken” — and of Christ

by Rob Schwarzwalder

September 8, 2014

S. Truett Cathy, founder of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain, has died at the age of 93. As the Wall Street Journal notes, he was a champion of “conservatism and chicken,” but it omits his other, most profound championship: The good news of Jesus Christ.

Mr. Cathy’s comments about his relationship with God shows that his faith was not an ancillary part of his life; it was at the heart of it: “I became a Christian at age 12; that’s not to say that everything I’ve done since that time is becoming to a Christian, but I believe the Lord had blessed us because we recognize Him on this special day we call Sunday … I do not condemn a person for opening on Sunday; it is just a principle I stand very firmly on for my business.”

Mr. Cathy founded the WinShape Foundation out of his deep love for children, born of his own straitened childhood. As its website describes it, “The WinShape Foundation was created by Chick-fil-A founder, S. Truett Cathy, and his wife, Jeannette, in 1982. The simple vision then, as it is today, was to strengthen families and bring people closer to God and each other. Each ministry within the WinShape Foundation is committed to equipping Christ-centered servant leaders who live life on purpose; with purpose; from children to college students, families, couples, business leaders and others in need around the world.”

He never lost perspective on what’s important; “It’s OK to have wealth,” said Mr. Cathy, “but keep it in your hands, not in your heart.”

Mr. Cathy shared his testimony in his book, Eat Mor Chikin, explaining how Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus on the necessity of being born again changed his life. You can read his account in his book — or, as I’m sure Mr. Cathy would have agreed, go to the original source (the Gospel of John, chapter 3) and read it for yourself.

A wonderful life, well-lived, not just because Truett Cathy was ethical or kind or generous or successful, but because the love of Jesus infused him.

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Judge Posner Ignores the Obvious: Kids Care More about a Mom and Dad than about a Government Certificate

by Peter Sprigg

September 8, 2014

Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center has been doing a great job at National Review Online debunking Judge Richard Posner’s opinion striking down the Indiana and Wisconsin marriage laws for a panel of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on September 4 (see here, here, here, and here).

I will note here just one thing that jumped out at me in both the oral arguments and the opinion. Judge Posner makes the following argument (pp. 22-23 of the opinion):

Consider now the emotional comfort that having married parents is likely to provide to children adopted by same-sex couples. Suppose such a child comes home from school one day and reports to his parents that all his classmates have a mom and a dad, while he has two moms (or two dads, as the case may be). Children, being natural conformists, tend to be upset upon discovering that they’re not in step with their peers. If a child’s same-sex parents are married, however, the parents can tell the child truthfully that an adult is permitted to marry a person of the opposite sex, or if the adult prefers as some do a person of his or her own sex, but that either way the parents are married and therefore the child can feel secure in being the child of a married couple. Conversely, imagine the parents having to tell their child that same-sex couples can’t marry, and so the child is not the child of a married couple, unlike his classmates.

Judge Posner’s set-up of this hypothetical situation sounds like a demonstration of how same-sex “marriage” could harm children raised by same-sex couples:

Suppose such a child comes home from school one day and reports to his parents that all his classmates have a mom and a dad, while he has two moms (or two dads, as the case may be). Children, being natural conformists, tend to be upset upon discovering that they’re not in step with their peers.

Perhaps it is a function of his long judicial career, but Judge Posner seems to think that it is entirely the law which will determine whether such a child experiences “comfort” or distress from such a situation. If the law says that the two women or two men raising the child cannot be “married,” the child will experience distress. But if the law says that the two women or two men raising the child are “married,” then they will experience “emotional comfort,” presumably from the knowledge that their family is just like that of their friends.

Except, even in Judge Posner’s own framing of the situation, it is not the absence of a marriage certificate that makes the children feel different from his peers. It is that “all his classmates have a mom and a dad, while he has two moms (or two dads, as the case may be).” If the child’s “two moms” or “two dads” are permitted to “marry” — well, “all his classmates” will still have “a mom and a dad,” while the child in question will still be “not in step with [his] peers” because he will still not have a mom and a dad!

Judge Posner is naïve in the extreme if he thinks that such a child would care more about whether his caregivers have a certificate from the government than about whether his family includes something as fundamental on a human level as a mother and a father.

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Cardinal Dolan and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade

by Hon. Bob Marshall

September 8, 2014

New York’s Cardinal Dolan, appointed as Grand Marshal of the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade, praised the decision to allow an openly gay group to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. “I have no trouble with the decision at all … I think the decision is a wise one,” he said.

His action has left many Catholics, including elected officials like myself, puzzled and disheartened especially when we measure Cardinal Dolan’s new policy with that of his predecessor, Cardinal O’Connor.

In 1993, when LGBT groups and government officials demanded that openly homosexual groups be included in the Parade, Cardinal O’Connor vowed in a St. Patrick’s Day sermon that he “could never even be perceived as compromising Catholic teaching. Neither respectability nor political correctness is worth one comma in the Apostles Creed.”

Would Cardinal Dolan, as Parade Marshal, applaud the inclusion of Irish abortion clinic owners or Planned Parenthood employees in a Parade honoring a Catholic Saint? On what logical grounds does he applaud openly LGBT group marchers and reject openly pro-abortion Irish Catholics, including some “Catholic” nuns?

Perhaps organizations which advocate to legalize prostitution and pornography should also be permitted to march? What about promoters of euthanasia for the elderly and disabled or those who champion physician assisted suicide? Where does Cardinal Dolan draw the line?

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade, sponsored by the Irish Catholic Ancient Order of Hibernians under the auspices of and with the blessing of the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, is not a purely secular event, despite the fact that secular politicians participate. It honors a Catholic saint who converted pagans in Ireland away from immoral behavior.

Promoters of homosexual behavior take part in many “gay pride” marches and parades, but these are not events sponsored by the Catholic Church or a Catholic organization. Therein lays the problem.

Same sex “marriage” advocates say they feel marginalized by the Church, yet the Church has been very clear that it is a hospital for sinners, and no one is sinless. Jesus saves us from being “marginalized” by our sin, so long as we seek Him and seek to do His will.

Everyone who rejects God’s word, or who ignores or violates the Ten Commandments (and we all are guilty of that at times) feel “marginalized” but we don’t re-write the commandments to make us feel less marginalized.

News reports indicate that NBC which televises the Parade, New York’s Mayor, Guinness Brewery and others were pressuring the Parade sponsors to include openly LGBT groups. Choosing money over truth is never a good choice.

This situation is not about judging individual souls. God loves all his children, and fortunately He is the only one who judges men’s hearts, but we live in a world of actions that have individual, social and legal consequences. Equality of persons is not the same as equality of behavior. What message does this decision give? Federal judges and policy makers are also influenced by the words and actions of moral leaders.

We do our brothers and sisters no service by pretending that God’s teaching or the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” are not as important today or giving the impression that millenia-old truths can change. No one can change Natural Law or the Word of God, written in the blood of Our Savior for our wellbeing and redemption.

God invites us to lead lives of love and peace and joy by following Him. Just as parents seek what is best for the children they love, try to protect them from harm, set limits and standards of good behavior, and hopefully set a good example for them, so too does the Church do the same for Her universal family.

Jesus told His disciples, “Go, teach all nations.” The English words “disciple” and “discipline” come from the same Latin word, “docere” which means “to teach.” Sadly, this action breeds confusion and scandal.

As society continues to disregard what America’s Founders wrote about the laws of Nature and Nature’s God, the moral fabric of our nation is disintegrating to the point of becoming thread bare, unable to hold together even the most basic values upon which our nation was founded. For a Church authority to embrace political correctness at such a time will have consequences which extend far beyond the parade route.

Delegate Bob Marshall
Virginia House of Delegates
Co-Author, Virginia Marriage Amendment approved in 2006 by voters

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America’s Uncertain International Trumpet

by Rob Schwarzwalder

September 8, 2014

A couple of days ago, President Obama commented to “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd that “There are days when I’m not getting enough sleep, because we’ve got a lot on our plate.” According to Jennifer Epstein of Politico, the President went on to say that “You know, when you’re … President of the United States, you’re not just dealing with the United States.” Citing various international military, political, and medical crises, he said, “You know, the inbox gets pretty high.”

Every President says such equally banal things, be he a Republican or a Democrat. What’s troubling is that throughout his presidency, Mr. Obama has repetitively emphasized the value of “partnerships” and international coalitions, as in comments he made during his first presidential trip overseas in 2009: “(America’s) leadership is incumbent, depends on, our ability to create partnerships because we create partnerships because we can’t solve these problems alone.”

Aside from the rather baffling syntax of that sentence, Mr. Obama seems to miss a single, determinative point. America is unique not just because of our moral example or ability to marshal other nations into what President Bush called a “coalition of the willing.” Alliances, partnerships, coalitions, pacts, etc. can be important, even essential, in a number of contexts. Rather, America’s uniqueness is defined not by our being, as it were, first among equals, but the unique coalescence of our values, our power, and our resolve in a violent, unsteady world.

The President is a man of nuance. Nuance can be a valuable trait, insofar as it prevents one from making impulsive, reactive, or excessive decisions. But the presidency is not a graduate seminar in which to express ambivalent opinions in front of a closely-listening world, one that hungers for clear, confident American leadership. When he speaks almost simultaneously of destroying ISIS and “managing” it, the uncertainty of the trumpet Mr. Obama blows reverberates with a chilling echo around the world.

National security and vital interests should determine America’s engagement in given wars, hot-spots, and places of need. Historically, when our security has been jeopardized and our critical interests threatened, we have acted, often in tandem with friends and allies, to defend and secure them. But we have not failed to act alone when singular, bracing action has been needed. Consider Reagan at Reykjavik or Nixon’s unequivocal stand with Israel during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War: These things inspire those who long for our leadership and give great caution to those who wish to diminish it.

One of the paradoxes of American power is that to sustain our position of unique international leadership, our country must be prepared, always, to act promptly, wisely, forcefully, and alone. We are appealing to our friends precisely because we historically have been ready to stand by ourselves, bravely and powerfully. The very independence of our resolve is what has made other countries want to ally with us. When we make partnerships a precondition of bold action, we hem ourselves into a seam of international approval and mincing diplomatic etiquette from which it is hard to disentangle ourselves.

The stance our nation takes on the world stage is not developed to win friends and be well-loved. Of course, many of our actions, such as the Berlin Airlift and the Marshall Plan and our gifts of food and medicine to the developing world have wedded our interests and our moral convictions, which have won us friends and created loyalties from which we have benefitted greatly.

Instead, our objectives should be clear and never in doubt: We want to be respected by our friends and feared by our adversaries. Such respect is the foundation of the international affection for which some politicians seem to long as the chief end of America’s global involvement. Pursuit of “being liked” as an end in itself invites disdain from our enemies and doubt from our allies. As a result, such a pursuit creates the very acrimony and upheaval its proponents say they wish to avoid.

After the Bay of Pigs disaster, young President John F. Kennedy met with Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev in Vienna. Kennedy was candid about Kruschev’s behavior: the latter “thought that anyone who was so young and inexperienced as to get into that mess could be taken. And anyone who got into it and didn’t see it through had no guts. So he just beat the h**l out of me … I’ve got a real problem.” The Cuban missile crisis was not long to follow, as Kruschev had determined Kennedy was weak.

Would Vladimir Putin have dared to venture into the Ukraine, or would Hamas dared to launch its missile assaults on Israel, if they feared the reaction of the United States? Would ISIS have become so voraciously predatory if its leaders worried about anything but a tepid, slow response from America? Would China have hacked American corporations so assiduously if it feared truly tough retaliation from Washington?

Maybe. But maybe not. Whether a conservative or a liberal, the American president must be someone who realizes that the surest way to avoid having to use our power is a willingness to use it, prudently but decisively, when and where it is needed for the sake of our security and crucial interests.

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(Ex)change We Can Believe In?

by Arina Grossu

September 8, 2014

Open enrollment for ObamaCare is right around the corner. With a November 15th start date, Americans deserve to know whether the plans they’re considering on the insurance exchanges cover elective abortion and if so, how much they’re paying for the abortion coverage, and how the abortion surcharge will be billed.

FRC wrote about this debacle in the past with regard to the exchanges and plans offered in D.C. and Maryland. We discovered that it was very difficult to obtain accurate information. Finding a pro-life plan should not be this daunting. Our investigation has revealed that insurance representatives on exchanges in various states have given information that is inaccurate and inconsistent. For example, in Colorado, representatives from ColoradoHealthOp have suggested that some of their plans cover elective abortions, while their online plan resources for those same plans clearly state that they do not cover elective abortion.

In another instance, two different representatives from Humana vouched that none of their plans cover elective abortion, but according to the plan details, they all do. Many states don’t even provide plan information on their websites. Some representatives from Sharp Health Plan in California and Group Health in Washington, have told us that they could not answer questions since we were not members, but how is one to make a decision about becoming a member before knowing the plan details?

Even when plan details are written out, it is not often clear if the plans cover elective abortions. Written plan details such as “interruption of pregnancy,” “pregnancy termination included,” or “abortion services” do not specify if that’s in reference to elective abortions. Such was the case with various companies in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

When asked specifically the ObamaCare abortion surcharge, which requires a person who signs up for a plan that covers elective abortions to pay at least $12 per year, representatives either had no idea about it, told us about deductible costs, or one even referred us to Planned Parenthood to see how much they charge for an abortion. Finding accurate information has proven to be nearly impossible. Congress must pass Rep. Chris Smith’s (R-N.J.) Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2013 to ensure that Americans get clear answers about abortion coverage when they purchase healthcare plans on the ObamaCare exchanges.

** You can read more about this in Arina Grossu’s op-ed, which appeared on National Review Online.

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Adult Stem Cells Help Bryan Hinkle Make a Lifesaving Comeback

by David Prentice

September 4, 2014

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Bryan Hinkle was living the American dream.  But a disease called CIDP got in the way.  CIDP (Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy) is an autoimmune disease that attacks the peripheral nerves.  Bryan was diagnosed with CIDP as a teenager, but the disease was masked and controlled with medication and life went on.  Then his disease came back with a vengeance, robbing him of virtually all feeling in his legs and feet.  He ended up in a wheelchair, depressed and afraid.  “My biggest fear was that I was going to die,” says Bryan of those darkest of days.  “This disease was winning and it was going to overtake me.  I was just living my days, waiting for the end to come.”

But then Hope made a comeback.  Bryan came across news of a doctor in Chicago who had developed a ground-breaking adult stem cell therapy for CIDP.  Bryan was accepted into the treatment program, and received a transplant of his own adult stem cells as part of the therapy.  Within two days he noticed a difference, and his recovery continued from there.

Today Bryan has his American dream back.  He leads a happy, healthy life thanks to adult stem cells, a discovery that’s changing the face of regenerative medicine and giving people real hope in their fight against dozens of diseases and conditions.  Bryan says, “I’ve regained my independence.  I’m helping take care of my children, I’m being the husband and the father that I dreamt about not too long ago.  And for that, I’m just thankful—thankful and amazed.”

See the video of Bryan Hinkle’s amazing comeback!


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A Tale of Two…Groups Which Voluntarily Relinquished their Freedom to Associate

by Travis Weber

September 3, 2014

Several days ago, the organizers of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade announced they will permit a group composed of gay NBC employees to march in their annual event with a banner identifying themselves as gay. By now, we are used to such tidbits of news. But this is significant for other reasons.

Back in the 1990’s, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an important free speech ruling in a case called Hurley v. Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston. In Hurley, the Court held that private associations communicating a message (through a parade, for instance) could not be forced to include unwanted groups in their parade, for this would compel the parade organizers to communicate a message against their will and make free speech and freedom of association protections meaningless. Such forced speech cannot be accomplished even in the name of eradicating discrimination, the Court held.

The Hurley case dealt with the Boston parade, but it settled almost the same issue for the NYC parade. Thus, the NYC parade organizers are not forced by law to do what they just decided to do – include the gay group and its banner. Nevertheless, they are doing exactly that. Thus, here we see an example of cultural pressure superseding legal requirements and causing a group to do what it isn’t required by law to do.

This same phenomenon occurred in the Boy Scouts of America v. Dale case and its aftermath. There, the Supreme Court held that the scouts were protected by the freedom to associate and did not have to permit homosexual scouts or scout masters. Despite being constitutionally protected, the Scouts reversed course in permitting gay scouts (while retaining the ban on gay scout masters). Alas, another high profile entity ceded to cultural pressure that which the law does not require.

Though these are only two situations, they are high profile matters which illustrate my point: it is highly important to address cultural trends over the long-term, and the thinking that underlies them, in addition to fighting legal battles and addressing matters through the legislature. These cases are monumental constitutional rulings, and many who still wish to speak freely can rely on them. But we can win great court battles and still lose the culture (as these cases illustrate) without properly addressing these trends at the roots. The “how” of addressing these trends is more difficult. One might start by studying how those advancing “anything goes” sexuality have been so successful over the past decades, and after properly understanding the context and our opponents’ messages, we can ascertain the best long-term language to communicate the importance of religious liberty and other issues. Only when we have acquired the proper ammunition for re-shaping our culture over the long-term, can we begin to use it.

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Men and women make babies, and same-sex couples do not.”

by Peter Sprigg

September 2, 2014

On August 26, 2014, a three-judge panel of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit heard oral arguments in Chicago in cases challenging the marriage laws of two states, Indiana and Wisconsin.

I have already written a detailed blog post outlining highlights of the arguments and my reactions to them. However, I thought it would be worth sharing some more extended excerpts of the argument in defense of a one-man-one-woman definition of marriage. Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher outlined (and Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Timothy Samuelson endorsed) the core constitutional argument — that marriage exists as a public institution primarily to promote responsible procreation.

At oral arguments, the attorneys are frequently interrupted by the judges, so the following quotes are taken from a variety of points during the argument. The quotes are my own transcription from the audio which the court posted here.

Thomas Fisher:                                                     

If we don’t have marriage, what is the issue we’re dealing with? We’re dealing with widespread heterosexual activity that creates babies. There has to be a mechanism to deal with that. The mechanism is, let’s channel potentially procreative couples into relationships that are durable and longstanding and will remain together for the sake of the child… .

The question is, “What can we do to nudge heterosexual couples, who may produce children, to plan for this — to plan for the consequences and appreciate the consequences of sexual behavior?” Those consequences don’t arise with same-sex couples… . .

 … [A]ll this is a reflection of biology. It’s simply that men and women make babies, and same-sex couples do not… .

We have to have a mechanism for dealing with those babies, and marriage is that mechanism.

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