FRC Blog

Washington, D.C. Internship Applications: Do’s and Don’ts

by Bethany Demmin

August 11, 2016

There’s never a dull moment when you run an internship program in Washington, D.C. During the semester, the office is a little louder, buzzing with activity, and more often than not, just plain fun. When students head back to school or off to their new jobs, the office gets quieter and I go into preparation mode, fueled by anticipation for the coming semester.

Assembling the class can be nerve-wracking as I go through at least a couple iterations of intern departmental assignments, taking into consideration student interest and background, and the needs of our very busy organization. Once in a while, I have to make difficult decisions, usually based on our housing or program capacity, which inevitably leads to some self-doubt. I suppose a healthy amount of insecurity about these decisions makes sense, most of all because the three months-long contentment of not only our students, but also many of my colleagues is in my hands.

Sometimes I don’t know whether I have made the right decision until our students arrive, but there are a few situations in which I know for sure I have made the right call. If you or a student you know are interested in internships at FRC, or more generally any internship in Washington, D.C., here’s a little bit of free advice on what will make you stick out as an applicant, in the form of a good old “do’s and don’ts” list:

The Experience Collector

Do: Acknowledge your resume, especially if it looks as though you’re wandering a bit. If you have bounced from internship to internship, detail your goals and why specifically you believe an internship here will help you achieve them. That will make me much more likely to consider you.

Don’t: Act like your professional past is of no consequence. If your application features a bachelor’s and master’s degree and four internships both on and off the Hill, my first reaction is to assume you’ve grown to like being an intern a little more than you should. In that case, I am likely to thank you for your interest and nicely tell you that it’s time for you to get a job.

The Creative Writer

Do: Use your application essays to tell me why you are passionate about the issues FRC specifically focuses on, and by all means, find a connection between your interests and our mission, however unrelated they may seem. If that requires a bit of creativity, do the work. I love it when we are able to bring students from all different backgrounds to experience a semester with us.

Don’t: Send well-written essays about your interests that don’t actually answer the writing prompts. If it’s obvious to me that you sent an essay you wrote for another program, your application will most likely be rejected. The same goes for writing essays that show you aren’t actually very familiar with our work. Even if you just learned about FRC, it only takes a little bit of time on our website to learn what you should in order to convince me you are genuinely interested.

The Over-Familiar Communicator

Do: Refer to the intern coordinator with a professional salutation (e.g. Mr., Ms.), and then respond in kind if/when he or she signs off differently. Most communication will be through e-mail, so for instance, when I sign off using my first name, then it is appropriate for you to call me by it in the future.

Don’t: Send demanding, one- or two-sentence e-mails to check on your application status. From my perspective, it’s hard to recover from this, and I am unlikely to consider you if you treat me and this opportunity with anything but respect. Additionally, overuse of exclamation points and question marks is ALWAYS unprofessional.

The Silent Type

Do: Acknowledge e-mails received, even if it’s just a “Got it. Thank you!” Over-communication is preferable in these cases as it shows me you are invested.

Don’t: Ignore an e-mail, even if it is a rejection letter. You never know what contacts you may have need of in the future, and this makes me a lot less likely to lend a hand later. I would be very willing to give a recommendation on an applicant’s behalf, provided he or she treats me with respect and gratitude for the opportunity to be considered for our program. It’s just bad form to not respond with at least a short “thank you” in these cases.

The Retractor

Do: Follow through on your commitment once you have accepted an offer. There isn’t much else to say on this.

Don’t: Come back a week (or two months!) after accepting an offer to join us for an internship and say you won’t be able to come because you got another offer you really wanted. This is a great way to burn a bridge, and it would be nearly impossible to recover from if you ever want to be considered in the future. We expect our students to be men and women of their word, even and especially when it is difficult. That starts before you even arrive.

The Social Butterfly

Do: Feel free to use social media to share your views (and your pics, status updates, etc.) with your friends and family.

Don’t: Post things you’ll regret the next day, or when the coordinator of an internship you applied to views your account.

Some of those items may seem like common sense, but there is a reason why I mentioned each and every one. Like I said, I sometimes struggle with self-doubt while processing applications, but on day one of each of three semesters during which we offer our program, that apprehension typically gives way to confidence that the right students were selected and excitement about what’s in store over the coming months. I am happy to say that when we host students whose conduct reflects this “do’s and don’ts” list, they and we end up loving every minute of their time here.

Are you interested in more information about FRC’s internship program? Click here to learn more and to download an application.

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How to respond to the “After School Satan Clubs”

by Travis Weber

August 10, 2016

As has been widely reported the last several weeks, a group called the “Satanic Temple” is looking to set up “After School Satan Clubs” (ASSC) in public schools around the country. What should we think of this, and how should we respond?

From the group’s name, one would presume these clubs are teaching about demonic activity. But a glance at their website shows them prominently proclaiming that they seek to teach “based upon a uniform syllabus that emphasizes a scientific, rationalist, non-superstitious world view,” and explaining their view that “Satanism is a religion that endorses scientific rationalism as our best model for understanding the natural world.” They don’t actually believe in Satan.

So why not name the clubs “humanist” or “atheist” clubs? Perhaps these activists realized this would not draw the public attention like the name “Satan” would (the actual Church of Satan rejects the ASSC’s methods). The Satanic Temple has already agitated in the name of its “religion” by “creating a gigantic bronze statue of Baphomet for the lawn of the Oklahoma State House, opening city council meetings with Satanic incantations, [and] distributing coloring books featuring the dark lord to schools across the country.” So why do they want to draw public attention and provoke?

These atheist and humanist activists simply don’t like the fact that children could be exposed to the message of Christianity, and appear to want to pick a fight with Christians. They say they want religion totally eliminated from schools, and the group’s homepage prominently displays: “DONATE TO HELP US COUNTER EVANGELISM IN SCHOOLS.” Their main purpose appears to be to try to shut down Christian clubs in schools. How would they accomplish that?

In Good News Club v. Milford Central School, the Supreme Court held that when a school opens up a limited public forum to a certain type of speech, it cannot discriminate against groups looking to use that forum based on the viewpoint of their speech. The ASSC organization seeks to use these forums for its clubs. If the ASSC merely wanted the same opportunity as everyone else to speak their viewpoint, that would be understandable. But their whole purpose seems to be driven by an animosity toward Christian clubs; hence the provocative name.

They are aiming to do that by provoking school administrators into shutting down the limited public forum entirely. As the group’s website states: “Our goal, ultimately, is to place an ASSC in every school where the Good News Clubs, or other proselytizing religious groups, have established a presence.” Group members have said: “We would like to thank the Liberty Counsel specifically for opening the doors to the After School Satan Clubs through their dedication to religious liberty… So, ‘the Satanic Temple leverages religious freedom laws that put after-school clubs in elementary schools nationwide.’ That’s going to be the message.”

The ASSC organization appears to be trying to upset enough parents that school officials would close the forum to all groups (the fact that the group is based in Salem, Massachusetts, seems designed to aid its publicity stunt). If the forum is not open at all, then no clubs get to speak.

Though this would include the ASSC clubs, these activists appear to be fine with this as long as that puts an end to the Christian clubs too. As the ASSC founder reportedly told PEOPLE magazine, “[i]f they would get rid of the Good News clubs, there wouldn’t be a need for the After School Satan program.” In other words, the very purpose of the ASSC is to shut down the Good News Clubs. The ASSC organization, presuming parental outrage, is hoping school administrators take the bait and close the forum rather than allow the “Satan clubs” to operate.

What should we think about all this?

First, school administrators should not be deterred. The ASSC organization would love nothing more than for the school forum be shut down to all groups, including Christian groups. The forum should not be shut down out of concern for this group’s presence (its name does not even line up with what it is teaching anyway). It can be given a place among other student groups, and we can let the battle in the marketplace of ideas play out. Ultimately, neither rationalism nor demon worship can provide the hope and healing offered by Jesus.

Second, we should not look at this as a set-back, but as an opportunity, in at least two areas:

  • The ASSC organization is using a forum which is open to all under the Good News Club case. Why not use this opportunity to make sure that children are aware of their right to start Christian clubs if they don’t exist? As one Family Research Council event recently highlighted, let us also make sure school officials, administrators, and teachers are aware of the legal protections for religion in the public school. The forum is open—make sure we are using it!
  • If the ASSC organization wants to start a spiritual discussion, whether on the national stage or local school, let’s welcome such a discussion. The group’s use of the term “Satan” gives everyone an opportunity to discuss…Satan. Let’s explain his role in the Bible, his power to tempt humans away from God to our own detriment, and the good news that Jesus provides a way out of that temptation. Even if the ASSC organization wants to fall back on rationalism, let’s welcome an invitation to open up the Bible and rationally examine its claims: that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again. He’s either Lord, liar, or lunatic. But nothing else. All must make a choice.

Both humanism (the worship of human progress) and actual devil worship will fail to offer humans a solution to our dilemma of the sense that something is broken, that something is just not right in the world. Only a restored relationship with God through the person of Jesus Christ can do that. Every day, we are already seeking opportunities to tell the world this good news before it’s too late. This is just another opportunity, planted right in our lap! Let us go forth and proclaim the Gospel!

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The Islamic State (ISIS) Lays Out Its Plan for Christians

by Chris Gacek

August 9, 2016

In case there is any doubt as to what the Islamic State (ISIS) thinks about Christianity and Christians, the current issue of its English-language magazine, Dabiq, leaves no doubt. Frances Martel of Breitbart News broke the story about its release, and the Drudge Report linked to Martel’s article.

This 82-page volume should be read widely by Christians, church leaders, and anyone in government. A website, the Clarion Project, focuses on providing “up-to-date news on Islamic extremism, sharia law and human rights” and it makes complete copies of Dabiq available for download (in .pdf). Volume 15 of Dabiq, entitled “Break the Cross,” may be downloaded via Clarion here.

Here is a sample from the chapter “Why We Hate You & Why We Fight You” (pp. 33-33). It contains a six-paragraph section describing the reasons for their murderous animosity, so in the first paragraph (p. 31) one finds:

1. We hate you, first and foremost, because you are disbelievers; you reject the oneness of Allah – whether you realize it or not – by making partners for Him in worship, you blaspheme against Him, claiming that He has a son, you fabricate lies against His prophets and messengers, and you indulge in all manner of devilish practices. It is for this reason that we were commanded to openly declare our hatred for you and our enmity towards you. … [concluding sentences of para. 1:] Thus, even if you were to stop fighting us, your best-case scenario in a state of war would be that we would suspend our attacks against you – if we deemed it necessary – in order to focus on the closer and more immediate threats, before eventually resuming our campaigns against you. Apart from the option of a temporary truce, this is the only likely scenario that would bring you fleeting respite from our attacks. So in the end, you cannot bring an indefinite halt to our war against you. At most, you could only delay it temporarily…

Ultimately even supine submission will buy no respect for the Christian and makes clear why the cruelest persecutions of helpless religious minorities takes place in territories controlled by ISIS in the Middle East (pp. 32-33):

What’s important to understand here is that although some might argue that your foreign policies are the extent of what drives our hatred, this particular reason for hating you is secondary, hence the reason we addressed it at the end of the above list. The fact is, even if you were to stop bombing us, imprisoning us, torturing us, vilifying us, and usurping our lands, we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam. Even if you were to pay jizyah and live under the authority of Islam in humiliation, we would continue to hate you. No doubt, we would stop fighting you then as we would stop fighting any disbelievers who enter into a covenant with us, but we would not stop hating you.

Ultimately, though, the ISIS ideologues let us know that they do this from a mind-set of giving salvation to lost pagans:

We fight you in order to bring you out from the darkness of disbelief and into the light of Islam, and to liberate you from the constraints of living for the sake of the worldly life alone so that you may enjoy both the blessings of the worldly life and the bliss of the Hereafter.

Well, that’s a relief. Christians being crucified, beheaded, burned alive, tortured, raped, kidnapped, sold into sex slavery, denied religious liberty, paying discriminatory and punitive taxes, etc., would be well-advised to remember such jihadi high-mindedness. After all, Christians are being saved from their heretical belief in multiple gods:

As for believing that there are other “gods” who partook in the creation of the universe or who have share in its lordship, then this was a creed so deviant and contrary to the fitrah that not even the pre-Islamic pagan Arabs believed in such. (p. 5)

The other sections of the volume are instructive in laying out the ISIS-jihadist ideology. Let there be no doubt about it—ISIS operates under a well-defined Islam-grounded, religious belief system that has no room for religious tolerance as the West understands it.

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Question of the Week - August 9, 2016

by Daniel Hart

August 9, 2016

Question: In reading about Title IX and how the present administration is using it for their sexual experimentation, FRC repeatedly calls it a “law.” I thought it was a mandate that the schools could refuse, even though they might be losing their grant money from the government. Is it a law, since Obama has again overreached his powers by sidestepping Congress’ authority to make laws?

FRC: The Obama administration has interpreted Title IX in a manner that is inconsistent with the Congressional intent in passing the legislation. Until that interpretation is either rescinded by a future administration or overridden by a Court, that interpretation has legal effect.

We encourage you to watch our recent lecture to learn about what is being done legislatively, educationally, and legally to stand for students and families in response to the new interpretation of Title IX. In addition, please refer to FRC’s paper, “Title IX and Transgendered Students,” for more information.

Parents should demand that school boards not sacrifice the safety of children out of fear of losing federal funding, which on average only amounts to about nine cents of every educational dollar. The recent victory in Fairfax County is an encouraging example of the powerful impact that parents have when they stand for truth. It is also time for Congressional leadership to act and rein in this administration. Bottom line, the president’s decree should be resisted with every legal and moral instrument we have available to us in this country.

Finally, please sign our petition to Congress, asking them to take action to protect America’s children.

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Who’s Waging a War on Science? (Hint: It’s Not Conservatives)

by Peter Sprigg

August 5, 2016

Liberals often accuse conservatives of being hostile to science, and insist that they will rely only on “evidence-based” policies. The questioning of scientific claims that we face catastrophic human-induced global warming, and efforts to teach critiques of evolutionary theory in school biology classes, are two of the most frequently-cited example of conservatives’ supposed “war on science.”

Professor Gerard Bradley of Notre Dame Law School, however, points out in Public Discourse that this supposed liberal reverence for science is itself a myth and a deception. When it comes to some areas of policy—those involving any aspect of the sexual revolution and the demand for a “right” to sex of any kind without consequences—the Left abandons science in favor of ideology every time.

Whether it is the humanity of the unborn, the harms of abortion, the benefits of contraception, the advantages of abstinence, the origins of homosexuality, or the reality of biological sex, the Left has no patience for science incompatible with their worldview.

I am especially grateful that he mentions sexual orientation change efforts, or SOCE (what its enemies—and none of its practitioners—call “conversion therapy”). Even some Republicans have been influenced by the LGBT’s constant drumbeat on this issue (yes, I’m looking at you, Chris Christie), and several states have actually outlawed such treatment for minors. One has to be very familiar with the scientific research to know that there is no scientific research regarding the impact of SOCE on minors—only unscientific anecdotes.

This is an important and valuable article. Check out President Obama’s Sex-Driven War on Science.

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High Court Puts Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. Ruling on Hold

by Travis Weber

August 4, 2016

Yesterday, the Supreme Court voted 5-3 to stay the ruling of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals which had required the Gloucester County School Board to open up a male restroom in its schools to a biological female student who identifies as male. Pending the filing of a petition for a writ of certiorari by the school board asking the Court to hear the case on the merits, the school board’s policy permitting only biological boys to use boy’s rooms and girls to use girl’s rooms will be allowed to remain in effect.

While only a procedural development, it is a promising one. The Court could have allowed the Fourth Circuit’s decision to go into effect—but didn’t. The fact that the Court took affirmative action in favor of this school district’s freedom should be heartening to schools around the country who want to retain the ability to set their own policies.

It is especially important that schools take note of this development in the face of the hostile actions of the Obama administration. Despite all the talk of how conservatives focus on social issues, the President is the one obsessed with bathrooms, coming out with an edict that unilaterally makes up law to use as a cudgel against every locality through the country. And the administration is not satisfied to tread lightly. Its edict directs every school district to open not just its bathrooms to people of the opposite sex, but locker rooms, overnight accommodations, and other areas.

The administration is also more radical than the courts. In its opinion, the Fourth Circuit had directed that restrooms be opened to the opposite sex by relying on a legal doctrine demanding deference to an executive branch opinion. The administration, however, in its edict, simply declares a new interpretation of “law” (that Title IX’s definition of sex includes protections on the basis of “gender identity”) without a coherent basis. It flies in the face of multiple sources of legal authority, and exists nowhere except in the fevered minds of modern activist judges, administration officials, and their allies. Schools have properly resisted the Obama administration’s unlawful bathroom edict for this reason. The Court’s latest move is further reason to do so.

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PolitiFact Falsifies Family Findings

by Peter Sprigg

August 4, 2016

In an interview on July 17, Chuck Todd of NBC challenged Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus regarding a passage in the Republican platform dealing with family structure, which includes the statements:

Children raised in a two-parent household tend to be physically and emotionally healthier, more likely to do well in school, less likely to use drugs and alcohol, engage in crime, or become pregnant outside of marriage.

and:

The data and the facts lead to an inescapable conclusion: Every child deserves a married mom and dad.

Priebus defended the platform plank, affirming that “the best scenario for kids is a loving mom and dad.”

That same day, PolitiFact released an article that rated Priebus’ statement “False.”

A rating along the lines of “Requires clarification” might have been defensible. However, in light of the available evidence, rating the statement “False” is nothing short of bizarre. It destroys not Priebus’ credibility, but PolitiFact’s as a neutral arbiter.

In October 2014, PolitiFact offered a similar critique of a similar statement by Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. A detailed response was posted on the Family Research Council blog, all of which is still valid. Following is a summary with information on some more recent research.

What the research on family structure shows

Here are some other professional organizations which have made statements similar to that in the platform:

The non-partisan, non-profit research group Child Trends has reported, “An extensive body of research tells us that children do best when they grow up with both biological parents in a low-conflict marriage.”

The anti-poverty group the Center for Law and Social Policy reported, “Research indicates that, on average, children who grow up in families with both their biological parents in a low-conflict marriage are better off in a number of ways than children who grow up in single-, step- or cohabiting-parent households. Compared to children who are raised by their married parents, children in other family types are more likely to achieve lower levels of education, to become teen parents, and to experience health, behavior, and mental health problems.”

The Institute for American Values declared (as one of its “fundamental conclusions” about “what current social science evidence reveals about marriage in our social system”), “The intact, biological, married family remains the gold standard for family life in the United States, insofar as children are most likely to thrive—economically, socially, and psychologically—in this family form.”

One example of the type of research being summarized in those statements is the federal survey data published in 2014 which showed that “children living with two biological parents” (which by definition includes a “mom and dad”) are fifteen times less likely “to have had four or more adverse experiences” than children in any other living situation.

These statements alone should be sufficient to designate Priebus’ innocuous statement as “true.”

Not just about parents who identify as homosexual

The clarification that might be justified is that these broad and entirely accurate summaries of the research on family structure are based primarily on studies that did not focus specifically on a comparison with children raised by parents who identify as homosexual or by same-sex couples. However, the platform passage did not limit its conclusion to such comparisons, either. Omitted from mention in Todd’s questioning of Priebus were the following references in the platform to cohabitation, out-of-wedlock births, and single-parent households:

We oppose policies and laws that create a financial incentive for or encourage cohabitation. Moreover, marriage remains the greatest antidote to child poverty. The 40 percent of children who now are born outside of marriage are five times more likely to live in poverty than youngsters born and raised by a mother and father in the home. Nearly three-quarters of the $450 billion government annually spends on welfare goes to single-parent households.

Instead, Todd focused only on same-sex parents, saying, “It’s implying that somehow children of same-sex couples are more likely to be addicts? To engage in crime?” Chuck Todd’s single-minded focus on same-sex parents was deceptive regarding the context of the platform language—and PolitiFact should have noted that and called him out on it.

What about the research on parents who identify as homosexual?

Nevertheless, it is also true that the platform says that “the cornerstone of the family is natural marriage, the union of one man and one woman,” and it declares, “Our laws and our government’s regulations should recognize marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” as well as saying, “Every child deserves a married mom and dad.” Since same-sex couples do not meet this definition of marriage and do not provide both a mom and a dad, a clarification of what the research on parents who identify as homosexual shows is also in order.

PolitiFact refers to only two sources for its conclusion: a one-page summary of the findings of “78 scholarly studies” on “the wellbeing of children with gay or lesbian parents” published by Columbia Law School (which concludes that “children of gay or lesbian parents fare no worse than other children”); and a longer research summary on “LGB-Parent Families” published by a pro-homosexual think tank, The Williams Institute (which concludes that “LGB parents and their children are functioning quite well”).

Apples to Apples? Some studies omit the “intact biological family”

In evaluating any particular study that relates to “gay or lesbian parents,” it is crucial to be aware of what is being compared to what, and what conclusions can legitimately be drawn (or evaluated) from the findings.

For example, it is true that there have been a large number of studies which purport to show that children raised by “gay or lesbian” parents “do just as well” as, or show “no differences” from, children raised by “straight” or “heterosexual” parents. However, when you dig down you discover that many of these studies do not feature a comparison between children raised by “gay or lesbian parents” and children raised by the intact biological family—that is, children raised from birth by their married, biological mother and biological father. Instead, the comparison is with children who have heterosexual parents, but from single-parent, divorced, or step-parent households, for example.

Studies which look at children of “gay parents,” but which do not include the intact biological family as a comparison group, can tell us exactly nothing about whether “the best scenario for kids is a loving mom and dad.”

Furthermore, these studies, although numerous, suffer from serious methodological limitations, such as the use of very small, non-random “convenience” samples (gathered by advertising in “gay” publications, for example). Referring to a defense of parents who identify as homosexual by the American Psychological Association (APA), researcher Loren Marks reported in 2012, “[N]ot one of the 59 studies referenced in the 2005 APA Brief compares a large, random, representative sample of lesbian or gay parents and their children with a large, random, representative sample of married parents and their children.”

The Columbia publication cited by PolitiFact downplays this, arguing that “convenience sampling is not considered a methodological flaw, but simply a limitation to generalizability.” Yet “generalizing” from such studies, without apparent “limitation,” is exactly what defenders of “gay parents”—and PolitiFact—have done.

Apples to Apples? Some studies omit same-sex couples

On the other hand, some other studies have included comparisons between the intact biological family and other family structures, including ones in which a child’s mother or father had a same-sex relationship while the child was growing up. The most widely-reported such study in recent years was the New Family Structures Study published in 2012 by sociologist Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas. It showed that children raised in the intact biological family have considerable advantages over those raised in other family structures—including children with a mother or father who had a homosexual relationship. (FRC published a summary of the Regnerus study on our website, then later added a more detailed list of its findings.)

One of the criticisms that some observers made regarding the Regnerus research was that it (like most of the studies favorable to “gay parents,” it might be noted) was not based on a direct, “couples-to-couples” comparison. Many of the “fathers who had a gay relationship” and “mothers who had a lesbian relationship” never lived in the same household with the child and a same-sex partner, and almost none lived in such a household throughout the child’s growing up. (Regnerus made these facts perfectly clear in both his initial article and a later, more detailed one.) The deficits identified in the children of “gay parents,” according to these critics, were the result of household instability (e.g., one parent divorcing the other parent to “come out” as gay or lesbian), not of sexual orientation per se.

Demanding that comparisons be made only with children of “stable” same-sex couples, however, is both unreasonable and unrealistic—given that such households are extraordinarily rare. Of the 248 children in the Regnerus study whose parents had had a homosexual relationship, only two had been raised by a same-sex couple (a female couple in both cases) from birth. Even the Williams Institute survey cited by PolitiFact acknowledges at the outset, “In the majority of contemporary LGB-parent families, the children were conceived in the context of different-sex relationships,” adding that “research is needed on LGB stepfamily formation post-heterosexual divorce.”

Recent research

More recent studies have overcome some of the methodological limitations of earlier research, allowing couples-to-couples comparisons using much larger sample sizes drawn from government surveys. Canadian economist Douglas W. Allen and co-authors analyzed data from the 2000 U.S. census and reported, “Compared with traditional married households, we find that children being raised by same-sex couples are 35% less likely to make normal progress through school.” Another study by Allen using the 2006 Canada census found, “Children living with gay and lesbian families [a “same-sex married or common law couple”] in 2006 were about 65% as likely to graduate compared to children living in opposite sex marriage families.”

Sociologist D. Paul Sullins studied data from the National Health Interview Survey that included 512 children living with same-sex couples, and found that children in households with same-sex couples “are at least twice as likely to experience serious emotional problems compared to their counterparts” in other types of households generally, and more specifically “they are at almost four (3.6) times the risk of emotional problems when compared to children residing with married biological parents.”

Other Resources

Several other organizations and publications have produced summaries within the last two years of the existing research on family structure and child outcomes, including:

The American College of Pediatricians, et al. (amicus brief, U.S. Supreme Court)

The Heritage Foundation

MercatorNet

Public Discourse

Conclusion

The Republican platform, and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, did not say, “Straight parents are better than gay parents.” The primary issue addressed by summary statements on family structure like those in the platform is not “sexual orientation”—it is the benefits to children of a two-parent home, marriage, gender complementarity, and a biological relationship with both parents. Evidence suggests that children denied the first two suffer, even if their parents are “straight”; while children with openly “gay” parents are always denied the latter two, no matter how “stable” their household.

This evidence is more than sufficient to rate Priebus’ statement that “the best scenario for kids is a loving mom and dad” as “True.”

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Federal Judge Still Refuses to Let Mississippi Religious Freedom Law Go Into Effect

by Travis Weber

August 3, 2016

After Judge Carlton Reeves in Mississippi granted a preliminary injunction against HB 1523 and refused to let that state’s religious freedom law go into effect last month, Governor Bryant requested that the ruling be put on hold pending appeal. Judge Reeves refused to grant this request too, the other day declining to stay his ruling while the case is appealed. His opinion contains several weaknesses, and a failure to adequately address arguments in support of the law.

Judge Reeves claims that his opinion granting the preliminary injunction “laid out” why “HB 1523 is not like federal laws which permit persons to opt-out of going to war or performing abortions.” But that opinion did not adequately explain the distinction in the abortion context. He tried to argue that abortion dissenters have a problem with “all abortions,” while Mississippi clerks don’t have a problem with “all marriages licenses.” But it’s not for Judge Reeves to dictate whether someone’s conscience objections are correct. If someone has a guilty conscience, then they have a guilty conscience. Moreover, he still dodges the question of why conscience protections which only protect the pro-life view violate the Establishment Clause—which is the actual legal question anyway. The answer, of course, is that they don’t. In Harris v. McRae, the challengers to the Hyde Amendment (barring certain funding of abortions) had argued that it violated the Establishment Clause on the theory that it incorporated into law “the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church concerning the sinfulness of abortion and the time at which life commences.” The Court responded that “it does not follow that a statute violates the Establishment Clause because it ‘happens to coincide or harmonize with the tenets of some or all religions.’ … That the Judaeo-Christian religions oppose stealing does not mean that a State or the Federal Government may not, consistent with the Establishment Clause, enact laws prohibiting larceny.”

On top of inadequately addressing these arguments, Judge Reeves’ initial opinion failed to even mention “laws which permit persons to opt-out of going to war,” much less “la[y] out” why they are different from HB 1523.

Of course, the answer is they are not. Judge Reeves bafflingly cites to Gillette v. United States, but Gillette actually supports Governor Bryant’s case, standing for the proposition that laws which protect only one side of a certain area of beliefs are perfectly consistent with the Establishment Clause. Judge Reeves claims that “issuing a marriage license to a gay couple is not like being forced into armed combat or to assist with an abortion. Matters of life and death are sui generis.” But this isn’t the issue. Judges have no role in providing their personal opinion as to the matter being objected to. If the objector has a conscience problem, the inquiry stops there. This is well-settled under our constitutional religious freedom framework, and prevents judges themselves from being tangled up in assessing religious beliefs. To do otherwise leads to Judge Reeves’ error: judging the conscience of the objecting clerk. Who is he to tell that clerk otherwise if they believe same-sex marriage causes grievous harm and they don’t want to be a part of facilitating it?

Judge Reeves continues this error in a footnote: “Allowing conscientious objectors was a win-win: good for soldiers and good for conscientious objectors. HB 1523 is different. Allowing people to opt-out of serving LGBT citizens comes at the expense of LGBT citizens.”

Aside from continuing to err by assessing the value of the conscience objection in the military context, he is just flat wrong. He can’t show any “expense” on the part of LGBT citizens. He tries to point to Estate of Thornton v. Caldor to argue that laws which burden “other citizens and entities” are unconstitutional, but that case involved an actual requirement being placed on private citizens regarding their employment practices. There is NO such requirement here. HB 1523 merely protects certain people from the government. Our Constitution itself does that, and laws are perfectly constitutional when they accomplish the same.

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Illinois Governor Signs Bill Forcing Pregnancy Care Centers to Refer for Abortions

by Andrew Guernsey

August 3, 2016

Could you imagine a law forcing a vegetarian store clerk to tell customers about the benefits of eating meat and then to refer them to Burger King? A new Illinois law does worse than this—it forces pro-life doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and even the state’s 51 pregnancy care centers to become abortion advocates and escorts to abortion clinics like Planned Parenthood for the killing of innocent human life. Far from leaving abortion to the privacy of a woman and her doctor as pro-abortion politicians would have us believe, the new Illinois law tells pro-life health care personnel what to say and do.

Late last week, Illinois’ Republican governor Bruce Rauner signed the draconian and anti-religious freedom bill, SB 1564, despite not receiving a single Republican vote. The law forces pro-life doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and even pregnancy care centers, who object to abortion, to tell their patients about the alleged “benefits” of abortion and abortifacient drugs, against all evidence to the contrary, and then to refer or transfer those patients to an abortionist, or provide written information about where they can obtain an abortion or abortion inducing drugs or devices. Victims of illegal pro-abortion hospital policies like Illinois nurse Sandra Mendoza, who was forced out of her long-time job in June 2016 as a pediatric nurse for refusing to participate in abortion, will also no longer be able to sue under the state’s Health Care Right of Conscience Act.

Anti-religious freedom initiatives like Illinois’ pro-abortion law are spreading in liberal states around the country, emboldened by the Health and Human Services’ (HHS) refusal to enforce the federal conscience law, known as the Weldon Amendment, to stop California and New York from forcing even churches to cover abortion. Illinois’ new abortion promotion and referral law directly violates the federal conscience law (the Weldon Amendment), which prohibits any state that receives federal funding from conducting “discrimination on the basis that the health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.” This harmful, anti-life discrimination must not stand!

Thankfully, there is meaningful legislation waiting for a vote in the Senate, and has already passed the House, which would provide pro-life health care providers relief from the new Illinois law: the Conscience Protection Act (S. 2927, “CPA”), introduced by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK). CPA would codify the Weldon Amendment and provide a critical private right of action so that health care providers and organizations facing discrimination in any state for refusing to participate in abortion can sue in court to protect their conscience rights. In light of HHS’ refusal to enforce the law in California and now Illinois, the Senate should follow the House’s example and pass CPA. The pro-life doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and pregnancy centers of Illinois deserve to have their rights protected.

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Religion in Immigration: How to Handle it Properly

by Travis Weber

August 2, 2016

An opinion by Judge Reinhardt out of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday shows how to properly view the role of religion in asylum and immigration matters.

Kurniawan Salim had first filed for asylum in 2006 when he was a Buddhist on the grounds that he feared returning to Indonesia because of his Chinese ancestry. His claim was rejected. Still in the United States, he has since converted to Catholicism, and now asserts a fear of persecution based on religion if he returns to Indonesia. Yet the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) rejected his request to reopen his case, claiming the evidence offered was “largely cumulative” of that offered in his first case.

Thankfully, Judge Reinhardt reversed the BIA, which had apparently missed the significance of the fact that Kurniawan was now a Christian and had offered significant evidence he would be persecuted on that basis. As Judge Reinhardt observed, the BIA’s “reasoning makes little sense where, as here, the motion to reopen presents a different basis for relief than was relied upon during the prior hearing. In such cases, the evidence related to the new claim for relief is necessarily “qualitatively different” from that offered at the earlier hearing.”

Kurniawan had submitted significant evidence that hostility toward Christians in Indonesia had dramatically increased since his first case, with a letter from his sister in Jakarta describing the immediate threat of attacks against Christians in her area. Judge Reinhardt additionally found that the BIA erred by failing to examine the evidence that Christians were threatened in light of Kurniawan’s membership of this specific religious group.

Judge Reinhardt accurately diagnosed the religious freedom threat for this asylum applicant, while the BIA showed an ignorance of the role religion plays in this type of case. If those at the BIA can’t understand that evidence of threats against Christians matter because someone is a Christian and not a Buddhist, we are in trouble. It is not sufficient to merely recognize the role of religion generally (though that is not always properly done), but government officials must also understand the religious freedom component of these cases as informed by the social, political, and interreligious dynamics of specific areas around the world. They must also bring this clear-headed approach to the broader context of immigration and security, which needs our objectivity and understanding much more than our simple, one-size-fits-all “solutions.”

This case is a glimpse into how international religious freedom as a human right should inform our values as they play out in our immigration system. America has been and will hopefully remain a beacon around the world for the freedom to choose one’s beliefs and live them out without fear of harm. Kudos to Judge Reinhardt for protecting this freedom today.

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