FRC Blog

The Transgender Movement Just Pushes People Too Far

by Cathy Ruse

August 6, 2018

When I read this column by Rafael Castro, I was reminded of other people who reluctantly supported same-sex marriage in order to “get the issue behind us.” They, like he, must feel betrayed and angry. The T in LGBT is a ticking time bomb that could sabotage the activists’ whole operation:

As a religious conservative living in a liberal city – Berlin – I was torn between loyalty to tradition and respect for individual freedoms on the issue of gay marriages. What eventually swayed me to support gay organizations in this field was the argument that alternative definitions for marriages are a human right.

I thus sided with the LGBT liberation movement with the hope that once such marriages were legal, the issue would be behind us and the energies exhausted in this fractious debate would be channeled to fight far more serious abuses of human rights in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

These expectations have been bitterly disappointed. To the best of my knowledge the LGBT lobby has done next to nothing in order to help gays and lesbians who are whipped and stoned in nations like Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Instead of championing genuine human rights it has promoted the issue of transsexuality, blowing it out of all proportion, and has declared war on our historical and science-based understanding of sex and gender.

In its obsession for blurring all gender differences it is pressuring the academic and culture establishments to erase any awareness of gender differences from the youngest of children and harassing any person who refuses to endorse this gender ideology. In addition, it has even encouraged voices demanding that incest, polygamy and pedophilia be normalized in our societies.

In other words, I supported same-sex marriage rights with the understanding that I was contributing to defend human rights. Instead my support has been exploited by the sexual liberation movement to undermine the values and paradigms that give society its bearings and guidance to minors who are vulnerable in their development.

I feel betrayed and angry. From now on I will fight every progressive social cause, regardless of the language used to market it. It is evident that today’s progressives are more interested in dismantling Western society than in repairing its relatively minor flaws.

Looking back, I see that same-sex civil unions gave homosexuals all the legal and fiscal rights they needed . These civil unions respected the rights of all parties, without encouraging extremists to assault heteronormativity and bi-genderism. That’s how things should remain.

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Social Conservative Review - August 3, 2018

by Daniel Hart

August 3, 2018

Dear Friends,

We are now in the month of August, the time of the year that seems to be a kind of buffer between the season of vacations and weddings and the season when school and Congress begin work in earnest again in September. Generally speaking, August is when life seems to slow down a bit. Offices are a little emptier, the summer heat is a bit more intense, and there’s a few more stretches of time to spend in leisure.

But what is “leisure”? Most of us tend to think of it in terms of watching a movie or playing a board game. But as John Cuddeback writes, there is an important distinction between leisure and amusement:

Amusement refers to those activities we do because they are fun, or diverting, or simply relaxing. We play a game, ride a bike, go out on a boat, or watch a movie. We enjoy these activities even while they have no obvious product or utility.

Leisure refers to activities that are more serious: we have a deep conversation, we lie on our backs observing the stars, we listen to great music. We contemplate deeper things, we worship God.

Amusement and leisure share a common element: they are not work. But this similarity points to their fundamental difference. At the end of the day, amusement is less important than work, and it takes its immediate meaning from the fact that it serves work, by refreshing us to go back to our labors.

Leisure on the other hand is served by our work. It provides the ultimate meaning and justification for human work.

As we take vacations and spend time away from the office during this season, let’s remember to not only have fun and unwind, but to also spend some quality time in authentic leisure in order to renew our intellects and souls for the work God is calling us to accomplish.

Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.

Sincerely,

Dan Hart
Managing Editor for Publications
Family Research Council

 

FRC Articles

Ominous Court Ruling Allows Discrimination Against Christian Adoption Provider – Travis Weber

With State Department Ministerial, Trump Administration Signals Seriousness on Religious Freedom – Travis Weber

Why It’s Impossible To Support Both #MeToo And Planned Parenthood Without Being A Big Hypocrite – Patrina Mosley

Unleashing America’s Entrepreneurial Spirit – Ken Blackwell

Nikki Haley’s Great Advice on Resurrecting Civil Discourse – Spenser White

Transgender “Revolution” is Really an Elitist Diktat – Cathy Ruse

DOJ Announces Timely Religious Liberty Initiative – Travis Weber

RNC: Schools Must Get a “Yes” from Parents Before Teaching Radical Sex Ed – Cathy Ruse

The Lies of Access and Autonomy – Hannah Borchers

Ohio House Bill 658: Parental Rights are Good for Children – Madeleine Lucas

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

Town Orders Family to Stop Hosting Bible Studies on Farm – ToddStarnes.com

These 6 Cases Show How Brett Kavanaugh Might Rule on Religious Freedom – Fred Lucas, The Daily Signal

School District Threatens to Call Police After Mystery Person Gives Out Free Bibles on Campus – Will Maule, CBN News

Muslim Who Squeezed $3M Out of SPLC for Calling Him an Anti-Muslim Extremist Says Others Also Wrongly Labeled – Jeremiah Poff, The Daily Signal

Christian club rejects University of Iowa’s mandate to accept LGBT leaders – Calvin Freiburger, LifeSiteNews

Atheist Group Sues West Virginia City for Reciting Lord’s Prayer at Meetings – Michael Gryboski, The Christian Post

International Religious Freedom

Religious persecution in Iran, China must end now – Mike Pompeo, USA Today

American Pastor Brunson Moved from Prison to House Arrest in Turkey – Benjamin Gill, CBN News

China Detaining Over 1 Million Muslims in Concentration Camps but the World Is Silent, Believer Says – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post

Victims of Religious Persecution Tell Their Stories at International Conference in DC – Katherine Rohloff, The Daily Signal

Trinity Western and the Endangerment of Religious Pluralism in Canada – Derek Ross, Public Discourse

US Tells Iraqi Christians Help Is on Its Way (For Real This Time) – Kate Shellnutt, Christianity Today

Military Religious Freedom

Air Force surrenders to demand to replace Bible with generic ‘book of faith’ on POW/MIA table – Todd Starnes, Fox News

 

Life

Abortion

When Arguments Fail, What Do Pro-Lifers Do? – Liberty McArtor, The Stream

Pushing the abortion pill on college campuses is dangerous to women – Kristi Burton Brown, Live Action

Amazing new video illustrates humanity of preborn baby in womb – Calvin Freiburger, LifeSiteNews

7th Circuit strikes down Indiana abortion ultrasound law – Dave Stafford, The Indiana Lawyer

Planned Parenthood opening 14 new facilities in ‘deep red’ states – Claire Chretien, LifeSiteNews

The Tyranny of Reproductive “Justice” – Regis Nicoll, Crisis

Adoption

Should Kinship Care Be the Default Option for Kids in Foster Care? – Naomi Schaefer Riley, Family Studies

Welcoming an Adopted Baby Home Is Both Beautiful and Challenging — And Here’s Why We Need to Talk About It – Marianne Garvey, Bravo

Bioethics

Children Are Now Being Euthanized in Belgium – Michael Cook, Intellectual Takeout

Who gets the embryos? Whoever wants to make them into babies, new law says – Ariana Eunjung Cha, The Washington Post

Thousands of Euthanasia Killings in Canada – Wesley J. Smith, National Review

UK horror: Patients in ‘vegetative state’ can now be killed without consent – Cassy Fiano-Chesser, Live Action

What does the Bible teach about euthanasia and physician assisted suicide? – Mary Wurster, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

 

Family

Marriage

We All Marry the Wrong Person – Erin Smalley, Focus on the Family

Words of Wisdom on a Silver Anniversary – Michelle Malkin, National Review

Children of divorcing parents want more information and more say in what happens, study finds – Angus Randall, ABC News

Single Sailors Think Navy Hinders Likelihood of Marriage, Survey Says – Brock Vergakis, The Virginian-Pilot

Our Fixer-Upper Marriage – Stephanie Reeves, Family Life

God remembers the barren, and so should the church – Jenn Hesse, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Parenting

What Are Your Child’s Passions? – Dennis Prager, The Stream

Podcast: Parenting through the hard seasons – Nancy Guthrie, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

The Genetics of Parenting – Robert VerBruggen, Family Studies

I Love Being Their Mother – Jess Hunt, Her View From Home

Economics/Education

Parents… Deserve the Right to Know’: RNC Passes ‘Parents’ Rights’ Sex Ed Resolution – Mark Martin, CBN News

In Search of Family Time – Amber Lapp, Family Studies

Free-Market Policies Make the Most of the Sharing Economy – Anthony B. Kim, The Daily Signal

Family Instability in Childhood Affects American Adults’ Economic Mobility – Paola Scommegna, Population Reference Bureau

Faith/Character/Culture

Why Gratitude Is So Good for You (and for Those Around You) – Richard Gunderman, Intellectual Takeout

The family that prays together … feels connected, unified and bonded with less relational tension – Jon McBride, BYU News

Living a Life of Purpose: An Interview with Michelle Singletary – Alysse ElHage, Family Studies

Human Sexuality

The Beauty of Complementarity Goes Beyond Gender – Brett McCracken, The Gospel Coalition

What #MeToo and Hooking Up Teach Us About The Meaning of Sex – Elizabeth Schlueter and Nathan Schlueter, Public Discourse

Thinking Deeply about Christian Love: Same-Sex Attraction, Sin, and Spiritual Friendship – Ron Belgau, Public Discourse

Why ordinary people disregard the transgender movement as utterly insane – Jonathon Van Maren, LifeSiteNews

Religious Male Students Less Sexually Aggressive, Coercive, Study Finds – Anugrah Kumar, The Christian Post

Study finds health risks for transgender women on hormone therapy – Avichai Scher, NBC News

Human Trafficking

The Porn Industry and Human Trafficking Reinforce Each Other – Marlo Safi, National Review

A Need for Child Safeguarding Policies – Lana Lichfield, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Pornography

Americans Are Rapidly Warming Up to Porn, a New Gallup Poll Shows. Here’s Why – Jon Miltimore, Intellectual Takeout

How Our More Permissive Attitudes Toward Porn May Impact Marriage – Alysse ElHage, Family Studies

Pornography is First Boom in Virtual Reality – Brynne Townley, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

 

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Nikki Haley’s Great Advice on Resurrecting Civil Discourse

by Spenser White

August 2, 2018

Our republic has a problem. Commentators have commented on it, pundits have pontificated on it—it could be the death of our society. What is this issue that could destroy our country? It is, simply, the death of civil discourse. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has been the most recent leader to address this societal problem.

Since her appointment, Ambassador Haley has become a conservative “rock star” for her stunning speeches on the UN floor. At an event at The Heritage Foundation this month, the Ambassador called the UN Human Rights Council, a council which currently includes egregious human rights violators Iran and the Congo, a “cesspool of political bias.” She has defended Israel—America’s main ally in the Middle East—countless times against its detractors in the UN.

Now Ambassador Haley is advising conservatives on their approach to debating and discussing ideas with those who may disagree. In a recent speech to a group of conservative high schoolers at the Turning Point USA conference at George Washington University, she commented on a recent trend by young people on social media: “Raise your hand if you’ve ever posted anything online to quote-unquote ‘own the libs.’” For those not up-to-date with modern slang, in this context, to “own” someone is to render them unable to reasonably reply to a sarcastic statement or zinger.

Quite a few students raised their hands and a few cheered. The ambassador then explained her view of the tactic: “I know that it’s fun and that it can feel good, but step back and think about what you’re accomplishing when you do this—are you persuading anyone? Who are you persuading? We’ve all been guilty of it at some point or another, but this kind of speech isn’t leadership—it’s the exact opposite.” Instead, Ambassador Haley offered her own definition of leadership: “Real leadership is about persuasion, it’s about movement, it’s bringing people around to your point of view. Not by shouting them down, but by showing them how it is in their best interest to see things the way you do.”

Ambassador Haley’s words line up perfectly with what Scripture says (which is not surprising, as she is a Christian). In the book of Proverbs, Solomon advises his son that “A gentle answer turns away wrath.” He then warns that the opposite, “harsh words,” only “stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). Peter writes to his readers that they should “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” and to “do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

The fundamental issue here is how we conduct discourse. Disagreements should never become merely a platform for “zingers” in and of themselves. When one or both sides resort to name calling and/or mocking their opponent rather than using reason to persuade, nothing of any value is accomplished. For example, suppose a conservative (or liberal) posts a political statement on Facebook or another social media platform, and a commenter on the other side of the aisle replies nastily to the post. The original poster has three options: not replying, replying with the same amount of ire, or replying with the purpose of persuasion. If the poster replies with “gentleness and respect,” there is a good chance that their original argument will get a fair hearing. Obviously, civil discourse needs two participants, and the commenter may not comply, but Scripture demands that we at least try to respectfully persuade our opponents.

If our culture really is coming apart at the seams, as some commentators are bemoaning, then conservatives adding to the cacophony of empty rhetoric will certainly not aid in tamping down the culture war vitriol. If conservatives are correct, than we should be comfortable voicing our opinions reasonably. At the end of the day, resorting to “owning” our opponents with one liners and zingers will not convince anyone of the rightness of our side. Let us resurrect civil discourse for the future our of country.

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Transgender “Revolution” is Really an Elitist Diktat

by Cathy Ruse

August 1, 2018

I commend Jonathon Van Maren’s recent column, “Why Ordinary People Regard the Transgender Movement as Utterly Insane.”

Van Maren points out that the cultural “revolutions” of today—and especially the transgender revolution—are not revolutions at all. “Revolution” suggests an uprising by the people to overthrow an oppressive government or elite class.

But the transgender “revolutionaries” are, themselves, the elitists. And they push their agenda primarily from the top down. Van Maren writes:

Progressive politicians, select academics, and cowed journalists might accept the ideologies of gender-fluidity, but the average working man and woman still find much of this stuff to be insane when they are confronted with the beliefs and implications of gender fluidity. 

These ideas are being imposed on us, not demanded by us. Trans activists are demanding that the people accept their ideas. Trans activists claim that they are championing a new understanding of gender, but it is as of yet largely confined to the elites. They say that language evolves, and that trans pronouns will be ubiquitous in no time—but not even their political allies know most of these recently invented words. Despite the lighting-fast speed at which their cultural revolution has progressed, trans activists have not actually accomplished much at the grassroots level.

I suspect they know this, which is why they try so hard to force their ideologies into the schools, where they can indoctrinate the children of the working class men and women who have far too much common sense to accept their ridiculous ideas. As always, this battle will boil down to a fight for the hearts and minds of the next generation.

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DOJ Announces Timely Religious Liberty Initiative

by Travis Weber

July 31, 2018

Speaking at the Department of Justice yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of a “Religious Liberty Task Force” to ensure the DOJ fully implements President Trump’s Religious Liberty Executive Order from May 4, 2017, and the follow-on DOJ religious liberty guidance issued on October 6, 2017.

The task force will ensure that the October 6 guidance fully affects all DOJ policy, such as what cases are taken, what arguments are made in court, and how DOJ personnel conduct themselves. Dialogue between DOJ and religious groups will remain ongoing, and DOJ employees will be trained in “their duties to accommodate people of faith.”

This is a welcome announcement, and further indicates the priority given to religious liberty by the Trump administration and his Department of Justice. 

Sessions’ opening remarks were encouraging. He discussed the cases of religious objectors such as the Little Sisters of the Poor (subjected to a legal battle to not be coerced into providing contraception against their consciences), and baker Jack Phillips (who didn’t want to create a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding), mentioning Jack’s recent vindication in the Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop decision and DOJ’s decision to file an amicus brief on his behalf. The Attorney General also mentioned he was filing a brief defending the ministerial housing allowance in an ongoing case, and discussed his department’s work to defend churches, synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship. Discussing the increasingly hostile social climate, Sessions criticized the anti-religious remarks certain senators made during recent judicial confirmation hearings, and tacitly but clearly noted the Southern Poverty Law Center’s toxic approach to public discourse:

We have gotten to the point where courts have held that morality cannot be a basis for law; where ministers are fearful to affirm, as they understand it, holy writ from the pulpit; and where one group can actively target religious groups by labeling them a “hate group” on the basis of their sincerely held religious beliefs. (emphasis mine)

Next, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville argued eloquently for religious liberty, noting it is derived from and must be protected consistent with human dignity. Kurtz cited the example of faith-based adoption providers, who are buttressing already-strained government foster and adoption care systems, being targeted for living out their belief that children need a mother and a father. As an example of the contributions of such groups, he mentioned an organization named “The Call” which places up to half of all adopted children in Arkansas into families. Such religious organizations do their work quietly and resolutely day after day, and many are not even aware of the value they contribute to the common good. This is real public service, and these organizations must remain free to operate according to their beliefs. 

Other panelists at the event, including the Heritage Foundation’s Emilie Kao, addressed the religious liberty threat of governmental authorities enforcing their own sexual orthodoxy on religious believers. Professor Michael McConnell of Stanford Law School (formerly a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit) discussed oft-used arguments that religious liberty can’t be tolerated when it causes “harm” to “third parties.” As Judge McConnell noted, however, there is always someone else who is affected by the protection of a legal claim to religious liberty—whether a government body, other group, or an individual. This is not a new concept. The fact that the law will always tangibly impact someone, combined with our historic reasons for religious liberty (the necessity of ensuring the government does not get in the way of humans being able to fulfil the responsibilities they owe to God), is the very reason the Founders put the First Amendment in the Constitution to begin with!

Introducing closing speaker Senator James Lankford, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein commented on the positive contribution of religious freedom to a society, and noted Senator Lankford’s defense of Judge Amy Barrett, who came under fire for her faith when being confirmed by the Senate to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Senator Lankford’s closing remarks powerfully explained the importance of all people being free to practice their beliefs. He mentioned the legal battle of Coach Kennedy as he sought to pray on the high school football field (something which shouldn’t be controversial), then forayed into international religious liberty issues such as China and Russia’s suppressions of religious freedom (citing a USCIRF report), as well as India’s anti-religious freedom laws. Lankford also addressed Turkey’s ongoing detention of Pastor Andrew Brunson, as well as the importance of Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback’s work. 

We have to set an example of religious freedom at home if we are going to argue for it overseas, Lankford rightly noted. He mentioned we must do better to protect the religious freedom of military chaplains, the need for legislation like the Conscience Protection Act and Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, and the importance of fixing the Johnson Amendment due to its chilling effect on religious speech. We must do religious freedom well (protecting the right for all faiths) at home to successfully promote it abroad. When it comes to religious freedom, we must show the world we walk the walk if we want to talk the talk. 

At home or abroad, as Lankford noted, religious freedom includes a robust defense of all people being able to robustly practice their faith in the public square. When this vision of religious liberty is legally protected, the battle will be one of ideas instead of a battle in the courts (or subjugation to governmental suppression of ideas).

An open marketplace of religious ideas should be something all Americans can agree upon. We encourage DOJ in its effort to ensure this marketplace remains open.

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RNC: Schools Must Get a “Yes” from Parents Before Teaching Radical Sex Ed

by Cathy Ruse

July 26, 2018

Last week at the Republican National Committee’s Summer meeting in Texas, the nation’s parents were finally given the respect they deserve. A resolution requiring parents’ prior written consent for sex ed passed unanimously.

Offered by Virginia Committeewoman Cynthia Dunbar, the resolution (full text below) states the fundamental principle that no school should expose a child to sexual material without prior written consent from his parents. The resolution encourages legislatures to pass laws to this effect.

Who would disagree with this? Well, many school districts fight against having to get parents’ permission for their increasingly graphic, age-inappropriate, controversial sexuality education. Even at the RNC there was pushback in the Resolutions Committee, which passed it out of committee by a vote of 5-2 before a unanimous vote in the full body.

Committeewoman Dunbar said she was thrilled that it passed. “This should not be a partisan issue. Parents everywhere deserve the right to know what their children are being taught, and afforded an opportunity to consent to it.”

This is an important paradigm shift in the Sex Ed Wars. The ultimate goal, of course, is to correct the controversial, age-inappropriate, needlessly graphic content in so many sex ed programs, and to shift from a sexual risk reduction to sexual risk avoidance education model. Instead of encouraging risky sexual behavior, teens should be taught age-appropriate messages that encourage them to avoid sexually risky behavior, just as they are taught to avoid alcohol and drug use, and other risky behaviors. Until then, it is important to establish the fundamental premise that children should not be exposed to controversial sexual material without their parents’ prior consent.

As it is, too many school districts assume consent on the part of parents, automatically enrolling their children in sexually-graphic lessons unless parents take steps to make them to stop, often via an “opt out” form. 

But the “opt out” form has long lost its use; it is completely inadequate for today’s radical sex ed.

Leftist school boards routinely use the “opt out” to shield themselves from criticism (“don’t blame us, you can always opt out”) and as a sword against concerned parents (“since only X number of parents opt out, that means most families agree with us!”).  

In reality, parents have no idea the poison schools are pouring down their kids throats. What’s worse, schools mislead parents about the true content of their sex ed lessons. Many comprehensive sex ed courses that encourage risky behavior even employ abstinence messaging to hide the majority of their curriculum. A lesson labeled “abstinence” in the Fairfax County curriculum, for example, is not really about abstinence at all – it tells kids to refrain from sex until their next steady sex partner. Another labeled “Middle School Changes” is about encouraging children to consider LGBT orientation and identity.

The sheer amount of material is daunting. In Fairfax County, there are more than 80 hours of sex lessons for every child – imagine the mountain of lesson scripts, slides, and videos a parent has to review to make an informed and educated decision about whether to opt out.

Opt out” allows school boards to take advantage of parents, especially working parents, single parents, recent immigrant parents. How many parents expect their school to give their son a lesson with 18 mentions of “anal sex,” suggest to their daughter that she might have been born in the wrong body, talk about oral sex with their 12-year old, or recommend daily sex drugs for their high schooler to support a lifestyle of multiple sex partners of unknown HIV status? As I say, parents have no idea what their schools are teaching; they trust their local schools, and schools take advantage of that trust. Teaching kids to engage in risky sexual behavior not only fails to reduce the negative consequences of such behavior, but to do so without their parents’ informed consent is downright wicked.

Prior written consent respects parents. “Opt out” says: Catch us if you can! 

Forty years ago, when Sex Ed was 2 hours in 6th grade on the basics of human development and reproduction, an “opt out” procedure might have made some sense. Today it is woefully inadequate.

This is why the resolution passed in Texas is so important. It shifts the burden away from parents having to say “no,” to schools having to get a written parental “yes”! 

Parents and children deserve no less.

RESOLUTION PROTECTING STUDENTS FROM EXPOSURE TO POTENTIALLY UNSUITABLE CONTENT BY SUPPORTING A PARENT’S RIGHT TO GRANT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT FOR SEX EDUCATION

WHEREAS, parents are a child’s first and foremost educators, and have primary responsibility for the education of their children. Parents have a right to direct their children’s education, care, and upbringing;1

WHEREAS, education is much more than schooling. Education is the whole range of activities by which families and communities transmit to a younger generation, not just knowledge and skills, but ethical and behavioral norms and traditions. It is the handing over of a cultural identity; 2

WHEREAS, American education has, for the last several decades, been the focus of constant controversy, as centralizing forces from outside the family and community have sought to remake education in order to remake America. This has done immense damage;3

WHEREAS, school administrators routinely ask parents for their prior written permission for students to participate in various school-related instruction and activities, including, but not limited to: field trips, sports, and distribution of medicine;

WHEREAS, parents and their students should be afforded the same respect with regard to the increasingly sensitive and controversial nature of human sexuality instruction;

WHEREAS, much of the content in human sexuality instruction centers on contentious and sensitive issues, including but not limited to: abortion, birth control, sexual activity, sexual orientation, transgenderism, and/or gender identity;

WHEREAS, the content often includes a personal analysis or survey that reflects or influences the student’s opinions on sensitive topics such as religious beliefs and practices, sexual orientation, and/or sexual activity;

WHEREAS, most states grant an obscenity exemption that allows content that would otherwise be deemed harmful to minors to be disseminated for educational purposes, creating the potential for inappropriate content to be included within human sexuality instruction;

WHEREAS, such information, content, or ideology is most appropriately placed within the discretion of the parents or guardians;

WHEREAS, the current opt-out paradigm assumes parental consent to student participation, allowing schools to automatically enroll students in potentially explicit, sensitive, and/or controversial human sexuality instruction without prior written permission;

WHEREAS, human sexuality instruction frequently places the wishes and concerns of the parents and/or guardians at odds with those of the school district; and

WHEREAS, the wishes and concerns of the parents and/or guardians are preeminent to those of the School District and should be acknowledged by simply affording parents and/or guardians the right to grant permission for such instruction; therefore

RESOLVED, that public schools must disclose the content contained within human sexuality instruction to the parents and/or guardians of all unemancipated students and shall only enroll those students whose parents and/or guardians provide prior written permission to opt their student into human sexuality instruction;

RESOLVED, that the default shall be that no human sexuality instruction shall be provided to any student not yet emancipated without prior written consent from their parent and/or guardian, making an opt-out default an insufficient protection for either the safety of the student or the rights of the parent;

RESOLVED, that all state legislatures are encouraged to enact legislation that implements these notices and safeguards to protect students from exposure to potentially inappropriate and salacious content and to acknowledge the right of the parents and/or guardians to direct their children’s education, care, and upbringing, including their right to protect them from exposure to content they find unsuitable.

Adopted by the Republican National Committee, _______________________ 

1 Platform of the Republican Party, Issued by the Republican National Committee, page 33 (2016, Cleveland, Ohio).

2 Id.

3 Id. 

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The Lies of Access and Autonomy

by Hannah Borchers

July 25, 2018

 

Everyone has heard of the Sears Catalog. It was most likely a staple in every American home in the 1950’s, but Sears did not span the nation from the beginning. Originally, the brand operated primarily in exclusive store locations. Those in rural areas were forced to drive into the city to shop, that is until the start of the Sears Catalog. The company’s sales increased fivefold in the first year alone—it was a raging success. Soon, farmers were having packages dropped on their doorstep and the delivery system has not stopped evolving since.

It seems that everyone is now doing delivery—even abortion pills can be brought to you in the comfort of your home. It’s called telemedicine, and women can now have their abortion in the comfort of their own home without the oversight of a medically qualified physician. A medication first provided under strict physician surveillance is now being prescribed over computers and telephones for autonomous use. For the abortion industry, this is a victory. The feat is touted as an expansion of access and autonomy, but in the statement, they forget the other tenets of non-maleficence (do no harm) and beneficence (active good). It also distracts from the true intentions of reducing medical abortion protocol.

For example, when Sears created their famous catalog and initiated home delivery, it was not with the modest intentions of making farmer’s lives easier. They wanted more money and increased sales, and delivery was the perfect route to expand. Medical abortion has taken the same approach, and from a business perspective, it should be applauded. However, from the standpoint of safety and good, it directly contradicts medical ethics and its supposed “respect” for women.

The move to expand medical abortion access targets rural communities. This seems like a novel idea with heroic intentions. But the original protocols for medically induced abortions are being disregarded without any substantial medical research. It has even been stated by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that “medical termination should not be performed in an isolated or an inaccessible setting which lacks ready access to suitable emergency care from administration of mifepristone until termination of pregnancy is complete.” This is due to the complications requiring surgical interventions that accompany medical abortions: 19.3 percent at <9 weeks, 15.5 percent at 11–12 weeks and 44.8 percent at >13 weeks. The health risks for infection only increase in rural areas, as seen in a Nepal study where 52 percent of women had high-grade complications and 11 percent died. A Latin America study also revealed that pain is a large part of the process with “seven out of 10 women requiring analgesics,” due to “severe pain and prolonged bleeding.” However, despite the dangers of induced abortions in rural areas, telemedicine and telehealth continue to encourage the “self-procedure.”

While medical abortions may seem to be only a fraction of abortion statistics, the movement has been grossly underestimated. According to the Guttmacher Institute, medication abortions accounted for 31 percent of all nonhospital abortions in 2014, and for 45 percent of abortions before nine weeks’ gestation. Within that 31 percent, patients 20-24 years of age constitute 34 percent, patients 24-29 constitute 27 percent, and adolescents constitute 12 percent. More recently, the United Kingdom Department of Health noted that in 2016, 72 percent of abortions under 10 weeks were medical abortions. 

The reality is that this move for radical access and autonomy is not medical care, it is business exploitation, which will only result in more complications. Every medical procedure and prescribed medication have specific protocols for a reason. Access may seem ideal, but operations are not performed in living rooms for the sake of convenience. Autonomy may sound noble, but this does not mean patients perform the operations themselves. If we truly cared about the well-being of women, we would not ignore protocol for the sake of business.

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Ohio House Bill 658: Parental Rights are Good for Children

by Madeleine Lucas

July 23, 2018

 

This past February, two Ohio parents lost custody of their teenage daughter after they declined to support medical treatment for her to “transition” to a male. The judge awarded custody to the child’s grandparents, who are supportive of this transition, specifically authorizing the grandparents to place her on their health insurance and petition to change her name. In the wake of this decision, the teen’s parents are now barred from helping their own child through a very difficult and pivotal point in her life. 

This tragic case raises significant questions about parental rights and the role of the state in the cases of children who experience gender dysphoria. The same Ohio judge in her decision observed that “there is certainly a reasonable expectation that circumstances similar to the one at bar are likely to repeat themselves” and encouraged state lawmakers to consider legislation to address these issues.

Republican state representatives have responded to this call. HB 658 was introduced to the Ohio House in May of this year. The bill operates on the principle that parents have “the fundamental right to care for their child” and sets forth provisions to ensure that parents can act in the ways they determine to be in their children’s best interest.

The legislation prohibits parents’ decisions about gender dysphoria treatments from serving as a determinant of custody in a juvenile court. In addition, it seeks to help facilitate involvement of parents in gender related issues for their children, especially in communication with schools. It requires “government agents” (which includes teachers and counselors) who have “knowledge that a child under its care or supervision has exhibited symptoms of gender dysphoria” to provide written notification to the child’s parents. It also requires written parental consent before a child can be administered any treatments for gender dysphoria, thereby keeping parents informed and engaged with important decisions about how to best care for their child.

Opponents have decried the legislation as “anti-trans youth” and as an affront to “child body autonomy.” However, this bill does not deal directly with the prospect of youth undergoing treatments for transition—they still can if their parents consent to it. It simply assures that a child’s parents, not the state, have the authority to make health decisions in the best interest of their child.

At the center of this debate is the idea that parents are better equipped to act in the best interest of their children than the state. Policies that allow the state to remove children from their parents because of disagreements with their favored sexual agenda violate this fundamental principle and ultimately put children at greater risk.

The state can “care” for general matters affecting the people under its jurisdiction; however, the state cannot care for a person in the particular, as a parent or family does. The immediate family has intimate, personal knowledge about their children and has a unique obligation to love them and do what is best for them. The government, by its very nature, is incapable of this kind of care.

Of course, there are situations where parents do not fulfill these obligations to care for their children, as in the cases of abuse and neglect, where the government rightly steps in to rectify those harms. It may be that opponents of this bill believe that denying a child the ability to “transition” counts as abuse, but this is a narrow assessment of the reality that these children face. No one denies that the struggles children with gender dysphoria go through are extremely difficult. However, there are legitimate differences of opinion about how to approach and treat these situations.

It is important to remember that the medical treatments we are talking about are not without permanent consequences and many potential complications. Starting teenagers or younger children on hormone therapy seeks to suppress puberty and will irreversibly affect their development. Gender reassignment surgery is an even more drastic step, since it involves permanent bodily mutilation and loss of physical organs for the rest of these children’s lives. Also, because these medical practices are recent phenomena, little research is available on the long-term consequences of such actions.

These are serious decisions, and it is reasonable to ensure that parents are provided with the best available information regarding the health of their child, and then enabled to make such weighty and irreversible healthcare decisions while they’re still minors. Parents, in exercising their “fundamental right to care for their child,” as HB 658 says, should be able to be with their child as they go through their emotional and psychological struggles, helping them understand the significant consequences of the choices before them. Some parents may choose to start their children on “transitioning” treatments; others may not. Allowing the state to forcibly make this type of decision for parents sets a dangerous precedent, one that infringes on the rights of parents and puts children at risk by taking away familial support systems and care from the only people in their lives who are there to care for and love them for the entirety of their lives.

Those who argue for the so-called “right to transition” drive an unnecessary wedge into the family unit, pitting child against parent. Children who experience gender dysphoria are dealing with complex emotional and psychological issues, and are at higher risk of depression and suicidal thoughts. Times such as these in a child’s life are exactly when they need the presence of family and those who care deeply for them the most. This Ohio legislation helps keep the family together through this difficult time by allowing parents to maintain authority over how to best address issues with their child, instead of ceding that authority to the impersonal state.

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Social Conservative Review - July 18, 2018

by Daniel Hart

July 18, 2018

Dear Friends,

A common misconception about Christianity that has drawn many away from practicing it is that it has “too many rules” about moral behavior. Prohibitions against things like premarital sex and drunkenness are seen as arbitrary laws that impinge on people’s “freedom” to do what they want. The Ten Commandments are constantly ridiculed in popular culture (and even deliberately destroyed with cars) as hopelessly old-fashioned and obsolete.

What many have failed to see is that having boundaries for moral behavior is actually freeing. An excellent analogy for this is to picture a train on railroad tracks. Strictly speaking, one could look at a train on the tracks and think, “That train is clearly being restricted by the tracks—if it could only be free of the tracks, it would have more leeway to go where it pleases.” But common sense tells us that trains are dependent on railroad tracks to keep their wheels aligned and to allow them to travel great distances at high speeds in a very efficient way—tracks give trains the freedom to operate as they were designed to operate. Anyone who has seen a train going off the tracks knows full well of the disastrous results.

When we go “off the rails,” the results aren’t pretty—bad choices can be clearly judged by their fruits (Luke 6:43-45). For example, premarital sex most often leads to broken hearts and STDs, and drunkenness leads to loss of self-control and can cause the physical endangerment of others.

God created us in order that we might fully flourish and be happy by following His precepts—the “railroad tracks” that are designed for this purpose. We see evidence of this in our lives as faithful Christians, as explained here: “The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to ‘the slavery of sin’” (Romans 6:17). May we always walk in the Truth of Christ, which will set us free (John 8:32).

Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.

Sincerely,

Dan Hart
Managing Editor for Publications
Family Research Council

 

FRC Articles

On Trump’s pick of Kavanaugh, conservatives should trust but verify – Tony Perkins

Forcing faith-based agencies out of the system is a disservice to women – Mary Beth Waddell

In Win for Religious Freedom, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Reminds Us Why Judicial Nominations Matter – Travis Weber

Why California Senate Bill 320 is Harmful to Women’s Mental Health – Sarah Stewart

Why the Hysteria Over Roe? Because it Would Strike a Blow to Eugenics – Patrina Mosley

Will the Supreme Court Save Sexual Orientation Change Efforts? – Peter Sprigg

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

California bill banning books, therapy to help unwanted gay attraction stalls amid lawsuit fears – Calvin Freiburger, LifeSiteNews

Wisconsin’s Marquette Decision Is A Big Win For Free Speech And A Sign Of Trouble – Margot Cleveland, The Federalist

Maryland Church Banned from Services in Its Own Building Fights Back in Court – Josh Shepherd, The Stream

Pastor under fire for high school football devotional – Todd Starnes, Fox News

Planet Fitness bans woman for objecting to sharing locker room with ‘transgender’ man – Doug Mainwaring, LifeSiteNews

Judge sides with University of Iowa Christian student group accused of discrimination – Vanessa Miller, The Gazette

GOP Volunteers Kicked Out of Uber As Driver Says ‘Welcome To The Resistance’ – Julia Cohen, The Daily Caller

University of Minnesota mulls expelling students for not using transgender pronouns – Calvin Freiburger, LifeSiteNews

International Religious Freedom

Pure Genocide’: Over 6,000 Nigerian Christians Slaughtered, Mostly Women and Children – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian Post

Religious Persecution Again Rises Worldwide – Doug Bandow, The American Spectator

A British Doctor Is Fired for Affirming Biological Reality – Michael Brown, The Stream

In Nicaragua, Paramilitaries Attack Bishop and Besiege Students at ChurchNational Catholic Register

Turkish Court Sends American Pastor Brunson Back to Prison – Jennifer Wishon, CBN News

Military Religious Freedom

Military Sees Increase In Conflicts Over First Amendment Freedoms – Nicole Russell, The Federalist

 

Life

Abortion

3 reasons why Roe v. Wade will fall, despite past Supreme Court decisions – Kristi Burton Brown, Live Action

A Closer Look at NIFLA v. Becerra and the Role of Crisis Pregnancy Centers – Helen Alvaré, Family Studies

The Jewish Position On Abortion Isn’t What You Think It Is – Mitchell Rocklin and Howard Slugh, Public Discourse

Judge Rules Trump Administration Can Defund Planned Parenthood Abortion Biz – Steven Ertelt, LifeNews

Adoption

This Woman’s Search for Her Birth Mother Comes With a Beautiful Message About the Gift of Adoption – Katie Franklin, The Christian Post

Poll: Ensure All Adoption Agencies Can Continue to Serve Families and Children – Elizabeth Fender, Heritage Foundation

Families Warn of ‘Devastating’ Consequences If Adoption Agencies Are Shut Down Over Gay Marriage Beliefs – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian Post

Bioethics

Opponents of Assisted Suicide Offer a Message of Hope – Kathryn Jean Lopez, The Stream

 

Family

Marriage

Three Sisters, Three Weddings in Three Months – Patti Armstrong, National Catholic Register

Maximizing Everyday Moments in Your Marriage – Greg Smalley, Focus on the Family

The Best Way to Properly Apologize to Your Spouse – Ted Cunningham, Focus on the Family

Parenting

6 Reasons Millennials Should Stop And Embrace Parenthood – Melissa Langsam Braunstein, The Federalist

Why Parents Should Encourage Risky Play – Justin Coulson, Family Studies

Economics/Education

Decision to live together negatively affects wealth accumulation – Iowa State University

Congress should end marriage penalties in the tax code and welfare system – Erik Randolph, Georgia Center for Opportunity

Faith/Character/Culture

What Is Best in Life? Jesus And the Mayo Clinic Know! – Elizabeth Scalia, Word on Fire

Steve Ditko’s Great Gift To The World: ‘With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility’ – Aaron Gleason, The Federalist

How conversations with my father have shaped my faith – Benjamin Ball, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

The Extinction of the Middle Child – Adam Sternbergh, The Cut

The Most Dangerous Place to Live: The Subtle Perils of the Past – Greg Morse, Desiring God

I Advocated Civility, But Didn’t Practice it When it Mattered – Liberty McArtor, The Stream

Human Sexuality

What do I do if my child doesn’t seem to fit with typical gender norms? – Jared Kennedy, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Podcast: Am I Less Human If I’m Sexually Unfulfilled? – Sam Allberry, Desiring God

The Myth of the “Desistance Myth” – Julian Vigo, Public Discourse

For Women’s Health, Maybe It’s Time to Focus on Natural Pregnancy Prevention Methods – Maria Archer, Family Studies

Human Trafficking

277 Arrested In Huge Florida Undercover Sex Trafficking Sting – Fight the New Drug

In Minnesota, Porn Is Now Officially Recognized As A Contributor To Human Trafficking – Fight the New Drug

One Train Passenger’s Tweet Saved 25 Girls From Human Trafficking – Fight the New Drug

Pornography

Is Pornography Use Increasing Loneliness, Particularly for Young People? – Mark Butler, Family Studies

Your Friend Just Told You They Struggle With Porn—Now What Do You Do? – Fight the New Drug

Groundbreaking Study Finds Video Game Addiction Is Linked To Compulsive Porn Use – Fight the New Drug

My Life Isn’t Your Porn” – Thousands of Women are Protesting Spycam Pornography – Lana Lichfield, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Smartphones have given your teen daughter a secret life – and it’s destroying her – Jonathon Van Maren, LifeSiteNews

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In Win for Religious Freedom, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Reminds Us Why Judicial Nominations Matter

by Travis Weber

July 17, 2018

Two days ago, in a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in favor of the freedom of the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops to live out their faith as it pertains to pro-life issues. Close votes like this remind us of the importance of judicial nominations, along with why it matters that we have judges who understand religious freedom law.

After Texas passed a law requiring the remains of unborn children to be properly cared for, pro-abortion groups challenged it, and used the lawsuit to harass and compel information from the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops (TCCB)—who had been supportive of caring for these babies’ remains. The TCCB wasn’t even a party to the case, but out of animus against its pro-life work, the pro-abortion groups tried to force it to turn over all sorts of internal communications which normally would not be disclosed as part of the discovery process. Unfortunately, in a bizarre sequence of actions for which we may never know the reason, a district court judge obliged the abortion groups, forcing the TCCB to turn over internal communications pertaining to the group’s motivations and religious workings in violation of the First Amendment—all under a ridiculously tight timeline—and all on a Sunday, Father’s Day, no less.

Thankfully, the Fifth Circuit reversed this absurd discovery order, with Judge Edith Jones penning the opinion, joined by Judge James Ho (a recent Trump appointee). Judge Jones wrote that the lower court’s “analysis was incorrectly dismissive of the seriousness of the issues raised by TCCB,” such as the inherent danger in forcing groups to disclose “internal communications within a religious body concerning its activities in the public square to advance and protect its position on serious moral or political issues”—which the First Amendment clearly protects.

Agreeing with Judge Jones, newly-confirmed Judge James Ho wrote in a separate concurrence that “[i]t is hard to imagine a better example of how far we have strayed from the text and original understanding of the Constitution than this case. The First Amendment expressly guarantees the free exercise of religion—including the right of the Bishops to express their profound objection to the moral tragedy of abortion, by offering free burial services for fetal remains. By contrast, nothing in the text or original understanding of the Constitution prevents a state from requiring the proper burial of fetal remains.”

He concluded that the “proceedings below” are “troubling,” and “leave this Court to wonder if this discovery is sought … to retaliate against people of faith for not only believing in the sanctity of life—but also for wanting to do something about it.”

Indeed. We have seen this type of harassment of religious groups before, when the City of Houston sought internal communications from pastors and churches during a lawsuit to which they were not parties—actions reasonably expected to harass these pastors and chill their activities in violation of the First Amendment.

The fact that the Fifth Circuit’s ruling was decided by one vote should remind us all of the importance of confirming good jurists like Judges Jones and Ho, and the cost of not doing so. Our religious freedom, and our nation’s fidelity to the Constitution, hang in the balance.

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