FRC Blog

Perkins Perspective: Post-Gustav Update

by Tony Perkins

September 5, 2008

I now have better access to internet. Here is the latest official information on what is happening (in short). The Governor has asked for me to assist in coordinating volunteer food relief. The need is overloading state government resources. Here is our biggest need: mobile food kitchens and food. As of last night at the joint command meeting, which I am now attending, a little under 1/2 of the state was without power. That is changing by the hour, but some areas will be 3-4 weeks before power is restored, especially in South Louisiana.

Beyond food kitchens, basic food staples that can be cooked is needed: beans, rice, meat (with refrigeration truck). Contributions can be sent to PRCCompassion.net.

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This Is Your Brain on Alcohol, This Is Your Brain on God and Family

by Michael Leaser

September 3, 2008

The American Medical Association released a much-discussed report a few months back on the deleterious effects of alcohol abuse on brain development in children, adolescents, and college students. Those effects included a 10 percent smaller hippocampus, the memory and learning center of the brain, as well as damage to the reasoning and decision-making areas of the brain.

In the latest Mapping America, federal survey data illustrate that the first and most fundamental protections against adolescent alcohol abuse are frequent religious attendance and married parents.

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Perkins Perspective: Gustav Reveals Winds of Change

by Tony Perkins

September 1, 2008

Unfortunately, I had to cut short what was really shaping up to be a very productive trip to Minneapolis, Minnesota Sunday afternoon in order to return to Baton Rouge for hurricane Gustav that is scheduled to make landfall later this morning. The good news is that several members of the FRC team are still on site to participate in the many events taking place this week and I am confident that they are able to more than cover for me while I am down here taking care of the family and assisting where needed if relief efforts are required.

Before heading south I was extremely encouraged Sunday morning by Pastor Steve Goold and the folks at New Hope Church just outside of Minneapolis where I spoke at two services Sunday morning. New Hope Church is one of the hundreds of churches across the country that is partnering with FRC to make a difference in our nation.

Back to Gustav. Before taking off I checked in with Governor Jindal’s staff in Louisiana and was amazed at how things have changed since Katrina three years ago. Not a single detail has been left unaddressed by Governor Jindal’s team. Of course the Federal response has vastly improved as well. There has also been advance coordination with churches and other non-government entities involved in relief efforts to make sure they were equipped and prepared to handle evacuees and first responders.

Unprecedented preparations have been made, now we pray and just wait out the storm.

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Nancy’s War on Science

by Michael Fragoso

August 28, 2008

By the time Nancy Pelosi digs herself out of the hole her abortion comments have gotten her into, she’ll likely have reached some of the crude oil she’s keeping off the market.

In defending her utterly baffling assertion that the “doctors of the Church” never were in agreement on when life begins she now cites some lesser commentary by St. Augustine (Questiones de Exodo), which states, “the law does not provide that the act [abortion] pertains to homicide, for there cannot yet be said to be a live soul in a body that lacks sensation.” 

One gets the impression that Pelosi had some vague memory about Augustine on abortion and then some poor staffer had to go digging around the endnotes of Michael Gorman’s Abortion & the Early Church (a pretty reliable little book, I might add). I’m now curious to know if Pelosi ascribes to all of Augustine’s positions, or merely those that appear to be convenient to her.  Is it wrong to cry over sad love stories?  Must sex always have a reproductive intent?  What’s the moral status of concubinage?  Is slavery always wrong?

Never mind the fact that Augustine still thought embryonic abortion was immoral (see On Marriage and Concupiscence), and later in life complicated his own earlier views on ensoulment.  The fact is that his alleged support for Pelosi is reliant on incomplete, 5th century science.  His determination on the soul of the embryo/fetus is based on the empirical determination of science: does the early child in the womb have “sensation”?  At the time the answer seemed to be “no.”  Now we know, through advances in embryology, that from conception we have a living human being, animated in its self-directed development from the first instant of fertilization. 

Apparently Pelosi would rather base her political opinions on the natural philosophy of ancient Romans than on modern science.  What’s next, a Medicare Prescription Leach Bill?  A Congressional task force ensuring that the American people have their humors in proper balance? 

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Lost Without Your Cow?

by David Prentice

August 28, 2008

HappyCow2.jpgLost in the woods and don’t know which way is north? Should have brought along your cow.

Scientists have published a study reporting that cows seem to detect the Earth’s magnetic field and tend to orient themselves in a north-south direction out in the pasture.

The research team used satellite photos from Google Earth to analyze the orientation of 8,510 cattle at 308 sites around the globe. Examining the photos showed that the cows were more likely to be lined up north-south than to be pointing randomly. Of course this is only a correlation study and there may be many other reasons, such as wind direction or sun direction, for why cows line up the way they do.

Still, the idea of magnetic cows is fascinating. Hikers might want to start taking a cow with them. Besides finding north, when you’re lost you could get milk and cheese.

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Throckmorton Commentary on APA Abortion and Mental Health Report

by Moira Gaul

August 27, 2008

Warren Throckmorton, associate professor of psychology and fellow for psychology and public policy at Grove City College’s Center for Vision and Values, does a great job of highlighting the major flaws of the recent APA (American Psychological Association) report on abortion and mental health in a Washington Times op-ed today.

He exposes the organization’s conflicting position since 1969 holding abortion as a civil right, the fact that APA leadership has continually refused to meet with women who claim adverse health effect following abortion, the one study basis of report headline conclusion, and other criticisms by pro-choice researcher/reviewer Fergusson.

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Embryonic Stem Cells Rejected

by David Prentice

August 27, 2008

Stanford researchers have published results that verify, yes, human embryonic stem cells are rapidly rejected by the immune system, considered foreign enemies when injected into the body. When transplanted into mice with normal immune systems, the cells were dead within a week. In subsequent transplant attempts the embryonic stem cells were eliminated even faster, showing that the immune system had been primed to reject the cells, similar to a vaccination.

The current paper is no surprise. Earlier reports showed the same rejection using mouse embryonic stem cells injected into the heart, with increasing rejection potential as the cells differentiated. With other differentiated embryonic stem cells similar rejection has been observed.

Of course, the FDA has yet to approve any clinical trial with embryonic stem cells because these cells (whether growing or even pre-differentiated) have a nasty tendency to form cancerous tumors. But the current findings show there are multiple problems with potential application of embryonic stem cells for humans.

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Take The Shortcut: Making One Adult Cell From Another

by David Prentice

August 27, 2008

Harvard scientists report they have transformed one type of adult cell directly into another adult cell type, producing the specialized pancreatic beta-cells that secrete insulin.  In what some have called a “groundbreaking advance“, three genes were added to pancreatic cells within living mice, and this was enough to directly change the cells into insulin-secreting cells.  Though similar to the reprogramming technique developed by Yamanaka of Japan, this new application eliminates the need to form embryonic type stem cells.  Doug Melton of Harvard reported on the experiments back in June, but this is the first peer-reviewed publication of the results, online in the journal Nature.

Harvard researchers had previously reported production of disease-specific cell lines using the Yamanaka technique. But embryonic types of stem cells continue to show problems forming mature, functional cells, as well as their tendency to form tumors. Melton has worked for years trying to make insulin-secreting cells from embryonic stem cells. This new technique directly turns one type of fully formed adult cell into another type of adult cell, eliminating the problematic step back to embryonic stem cells. It also completely bypasses any need for using embryos or cloning for research.

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Minimum drinking age or maximum parental protection?

by Michael Leaser

August 26, 2008

More than 100 college presidents want lawmakers to consider lowering the minimum drinking age to 18, citing current law as an excuse for furtive alcohol abuse on campus. Dubbed the Amethyst Initiative, this movement has sparked intense debate over the efficacy of such a measure, including the argument that it would put more pressure on high schools to deal with near-legal adolescent drinking. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), which has come out against this initiative, has compiled a set of statistics that includes data on the costs of underage drinking, as well as the significant influence parents have.


The latest Mapping America goes even further, examining federal survey data which show that one of the most effective extralegal deterrents to abusive youth drinking is married biological parents.

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HHS Proposed Conscience Regs Published in Federal Register

by Chris Gacek

August 26, 2008

Today, the Federal Register published the Department of Health and Human Services’ notice of proposed rulemaking that seeks to ensure that HHS “funds do not support coercive or discriminatory policies or practices in violation of federal law” (lower case mine). The notice for these proposed conscience protection rules can be found in PDF via this link. The deadline for filing comments is September 25, 2008.

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