FRC Blog

The Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration: What It Got Right and What It Got Wrong

by Travis Weber , Natalie Pugh

October 3, 2017

Earlier this month, religious leaders of various faiths met at the Beverley Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles to celebrate the newly signed Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration—a notable document because it is a proclamation supporting some degree of religious freedom sponsored and backed by a majority Muslim country.

While the majority of Bahrain’s population is Shia Muslim, most of its government positions are held by Sunni Muslims. In addition, there are small numbers of Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, and Jews all living in the country. Against this multi-religious backdrop, the religious freedom declaration was backed and signed by the King of Bahrain.

What did the declaration get right?

This document makes a lot of statements worth celebrating. First of all, it declares that “religious faith and expression are inalienable rights” which provides the foundation for promoting religious freedom. In Part II, it rejects forced observance of a religion and claims that every person has the right to practice their religion as long as they do not harm any others in the process. Part III focuses more on the harm that has been done in the name of religion and condemns all terrorist activities such as “the sowing of terror, the encouragement of extremism and radicalization, suicide bombing, promotion of sexual slavery, and the abuse of women and children.” The religious rights and responsibilities established in Part IV state that individuals have a right to practice their religion and the government has a responsibility to protect citizens of all religions. Overall, these are all commendable statements that seem to show a genuine interest in protecting religious freedom.

Where did it fall short?

While the document expressly states that it does not condone compelled religion, it still does not allow Muslims the freedom to convert away from their religion, as it is illegal to proselytize Muslims in Bahrain. While Part II recognizes the freedom to choose one’s faith, this is conditioned on submitting to the laws of the land. What happens when the laws of the land prohibit conversion, such as in the case of Bahrain and many other nations with Islamic teaching reflected in their laws? These Muslims still don’t have religious freedom in spite of this declaration, and neither do non-Muslims have the freedom to share their faith with Muslims.

Other portions of the declaration are meandering and vague. For instance, while the goal of Section III is admirable and the specific activities listed are reprehensible, this section’s condemnation of certain activities does not have a fixed and clear target. Instead, the list is prefixed with the statement: “Any act that is found morally repugnant by the vast majority of mankind and is insulting to our collective moral conscience cannot be part of God’s revealed will.” Yet religious expression should not be censored by the fickle morality of the majority.

Another statement of concern is the admonition that the clergy teach that “extremism is not holier than moderation.” Extremism and radicalism have become synonymous with terrorism and therefore are evil words in modern rhetoric. But the words themselves need some context to have any meaning. In some ways, being “extreme” is good. For example, before he gathered many supporters, William Wilberforce was quite “extreme” in his campaign to abolish slavery. He might have been termed “extreme,” but it it was a noble cause motivated by his Christian faith. It didn’t matter that not many were on his side. Spiritually speaking, being extreme is a fundamental part of being a Christian. We are called to be on fire for Christ; being lukewarm or moderate is not enough (Revelations 3:15-16). What is extreme to one is moderate to another, and vice versa. “Extreme” may not always correspond to “evil,” and the declaration needs more context to make sense of this point.

The Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration is only a statement of intent. Even though it was signed by the king, it is not a legally binding document. Yet it is a good start. Later this year, a team of lawyers will meet to work on turning the declaration into actual laws. Hopefully, the laws they write will fix some of the ambiguity and flaws in the original declaration. If that happens, we may see a platform which could serve as a source for some reform on religious freedom within the Islamic world. Until then, all we can do is hope and pray.

Travis Weber is the Director of FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty. Natalie Pugh is an intern at FRC.

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The Judicial Assault on Public School Privacy Policies

by FRC

October 2, 2017

Activist judges are continuing to rule against the rights of students, parents, and public school districts to determine their own bathroom and locker room privacy policies. In FRC’s latest Facebook Live event, Travis Weber, the director of FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty joins John Rustin, the President and Executive Director of the North Carolina Family Policy Council to discuss this important issue. Here is a summary of some of the key points made in this discussion:

  • The 7th Circuit Court’s recent decision in Kenosha Unified School District v. Whitaker was a loss of autonomy and ability of school districts and parents to set the policies they want for their students, particularly that of boys and girls using private facilities separately.
  • Since children are compelled by law to go to school, parents ought to have the right to help set policies with respect to privacy issues in bathrooms and locker rooms.
  • The Kenosha case is the latest example of why the federal judiciary often gets a bad name. It is a clear example of a judge who is unaccountable to the people imposing their own policy preference in law. The judge in the Kenosha case cited Title IX’s prohibition of sex discrimination as the reason why a student who identifies as transgender should be allowed to use the bathroom and other private facilities of their choice. Until very recently, Title IX has never been viewed as a means of forcing school districts to accommodate these claims.
  • In the Kenosha case, the school district was happy to accommodate the student who identified as transgender by offering them a separate private facility to use. As is often the case, however, this accommodation was viewed as unsatisfactory. Parties and individuals pushing the transgender bathroom agenda are often not trying to be reasonable—they instead demand that their proposed policies be made into law and be fully accepted by all.
  • Reasonable accommodations can be made to protect the privacy of students who identify as transgender without infringing upon the privacy rights of all the other students. The Kenosha school system has over 22,000 students, and yet the 7th Circuit Court inexplicably decided to throw out the privacy interests of 21,999 students on behalf of one student.
  • Cases like this are stark reminders of how important it is to have an administration that will appoint judges who faithfully read the text of the law and the Constitution and adhere to it without injecting their policy preferences.
  • FRC and the North Carolina Family Policy Council along with 19 other family policy organizations signed on to an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the Kenosha case in order to bring some sanity back to the bathroom privacy issue by not only allowing parents and school districts to have a say in determining privacy policies, but also to reinforce that biological sex distinctions matter in public educational facilities.
  • Even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recognized in 1975 that sex discrimination prohibitions in law did not mean that privacy must be compromised.
  • When courts rule as the 7th Circuit did in the Kenosha case, they are violating the rule of law itself by circumventing Congress, which alone has the people’s voice and the authority to change laws.

View the full video to find out more.

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Social Conservative Review - October 2, 2017

by Daniel Hart

October 2, 2017

Dear Friends,

Once upon a time in America, a person who held strong religious beliefs, adhered to religious doctrines, and acted accordingly in good faith to their fellow man was seen as a person of strength and good character, and was respected in the public sphere.

It appears that this era is now past. In a confirmation hearing last month for 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Amy Barrett, Senator Dianne Feinstein infamously voiced her disapproval of Barrett based on her Catholic beliefs: “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you.” This incident followed another unfortunate one in June, when Senator Bernie Sanders castigated Office of Management and Budget nominee Russell Vought for his Christian faith by saying that Vought is “not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about.”

In a very public way (that also happens to be a violation of the Constitution’s prohibition of using “religious tests”), Feinstein and Sanders are merely echoing what many Americans believe about religion—that in order to tolerate all religions, religious people must not let “dogma live loudly within” them.

If we examine this way of thinking, however, it fails to make sense. Religion is something that is so central to the human understanding of existence that our Founding Fathers enshrined it in the First Amendment of our Constitution. They knew what all people know deep down to be true—that every person, in the face of such profound mysteries like suffering and death, must have the freedom to not only believe what they want, but to exercise that freedom. In other words, not only must one have the freedom to believe, one must also have the freedom to live out those dearly-held beliefs in everyday life, especially if they reach to the core of who that person is.

Senators Dianne Feinstein and Bernie Sanders obviously have some very passionate political views that seem to reach to the core of who they are. If it is permissible to have such passionate views and beliefs in the realm of politics, how is it not equally permissible to have passionate religious views?

Even this most basic view of fairness is not adequate in understanding the true nature of religious conviction, however. All believers know that without faith and its “dogmas,” which give us the Ten Commandments, the nature of societal life will have no basis for moral behavior, and will eventually degenerate into chaos. Instead of denigrating Barrett and Vought for their strong convictions, Feinstein and Sanders should be praising them for their principled character and hoping that more nominees like them will step forward to serve the public interest.

May an increasing number of the American people and our elected political leaders better understand this truth, that religious conviction is not something to be tamped down as “intolerant,” but rather something to be celebrated as the anchor of moral goodness. 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

Supreme Court must take on heartbreaking surrogacy case – Arina Grossu

It’s Not About the Color. It’s About the Cross – Patrina Mosley

The Sexual Revolution, Sexual Freedom, and Hugh Hefner – Jourdan Stuart

Pence: Human Rights Council “Doesn’t Deserve its Name” – Travis Weber

40 Days for Life: Offering Hope and Life One Vigil at a Time – Arina Grossu

How Can Public School Students Exercise Their Religious Liberty Rights?

Why Are College Students Afraid of Free Speech? – Dan Hart

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

The Southern Poverty Law Center put me on its hate list. It’s a smear and I don’t belong there – Hannah Scherlacher, Fox News

Southern Poverty Law Center attempts to undermine America – Rebecca Hagelin, The Washington Times

California Legislature Passes Bill To Punish Elder-Care Workers Who Don’t Use Trans Pronouns – Georgi Boorman, The Federalist

A chilling study shows how hostile college students are toward free speech – Catherine Rampell, The Washington Post

In Response To Attacks, New Florida Law Aims To Protect Religious Expression In Public Schools – Ashley Bateman, The Federalist

Live Action: Twitter’s ban on pro-life ads is discriminatory and wrong – Kristi Burton Brown, Live Action

Judge Rules in Favor of Atheist Group, Says Cross on Penn. County Seal Must Be Removed – Michael Gryboski, The Christian Post

Free to Believe”

I’m a T-Shirt Maker With Gay Customers and Gay Employees. I Still Was Sued. – Blaine Adamson, The Daily Signal

Minnesota officials attempt to control the message of Christian filmmakers – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

International Religious Freedom

Coming home – June Cheng, WORLD

Australia: Documenting the tide of bigotry and hatred – Margaret Colwell, Mercatornet

The Senate must act now to save Christianity in Iraq – Carl Anderson, The Hill

Genocide in Burma: Why a Persecuted Muslim Minority Should Matter to Christians – John Stonestreet, The Christian Post

I Had No Fear of Death,’ Says Indian Priest Held Captive by Terrorists as He Returns to India – Anugrah Kumar, The Christian Post

 

Life

Abortion

Video: Pro-abortion politicians mislead women about Planned Parenthood – Live Action

A Path to Détente in the War over Abortion – Julia D. Hejduk, Public Discourse

Hawaii law forces pro-life pregnancy help centers to promote abortion – Rachel del Guidice, LifeSiteNews

Americans Confused About Abortion – American Culture & Faith Institute

Children’s Minister Aggressively Pushes to Legalize Abortions Killing Children – Micaiah Bilger, Life News

Rep. Trent Franks Hopes Pain-Capable Bill Shows ‘Inhumanity’ of Abortion – Katie Yoder, NewsBusters

Adoption

Gift-Motherhood, the Prius, and the Peace Corps: Reducing Abortion by Incentivizing Adoption – Julia D. Hejduk, Public Discourse

Bioethics

Surrogacy Reaches the Supreme Court – Kathleen Sloan, Public Discourse

U.S. doctors take official stance against euthanasia – Samantha Gobba, WORLD

Women and Bioethics: an ethics of care – Caterina Milo, C-Fam

Basic Bioethics: Forty ways to make a baby – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

New York Courts Rule Against “Aid in Dying” and Warn of Its Dangers – Richard M. Doerflinger, Public Discourse

Obamacare

GOP already eyeing next chance to revive Obamacare repeal – Seung Min Kim, Jennifer Haberkorn and Burgess Everett, Politico

 

Family

Economics/Education

Married Couples With Children and Jobs Cause Income Inequality – Terence P. Jeffrey, CNS News

The Marriage Divide: How and Why Working-Class Families Are More Fragile Today – W. Bradford Wilcox, Family Studies

How Did Marriage Become a Mark of Privilege? – Claire Cain Miller, The New York Times

Ban the Laptops, Yes – Mark Bauerlein, First Things

Betsy DeVos vs. the Mindless Mob at Harvard – Frederick M. Hess and Grant Addison, National Review

Marriage

Couples weather bickering with a little help from their friends – Science Daily

Cheap Sex Is Making Men Give Up On Marriage – Larry Getlen, American Culture & Faith Institute

6 Secrets to a Healthy Marriage (From Old Couples) – Jon Miltimore, Intellectual Takeout

What Nicole Kidman’s Emmy’s Kiss Says About Marriage and Infidelity – Chelsea Samelson, Acculturated

Faith/Character/Culture

Video: How To Have A Religious Argument (Facebook HQ) – Bishop Robert Barron, Word On Fire

Camille Paglia’s Teaching – Mark Bauerlein, First Things

If It Feels Like People Are Meaner Than Ever Now, Here’s What to Do About It – Julia Hogan, Verily

Many Atheists Aren’t So Sure: The Doubts of Doubters – Eric Metaxas, The Christian Post

The Unchanging Lordship of Christ in a World of Crises – Rob Schwarzwalder, The Stream

Why You Should Keep Taking Your Kids To Church Even When It Feels Pointless – Emily Carrington, The Federalist

Human Sexuality

Rocklin charter schools OK transgender books in elementary school – Diana Lambert, The Sacramento Bee

No Long-Term Harm? The New Scientific Silence on Child-Adult Sex and the Age of Consent – Mark Regnerus, Public Discourse

Sex diseases in US surge to record high – AFP

Podcast: God’s Work in the Midst of an Unplanned Pregnancy – Amy Ford, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

The Myth of “Sex Work” Named and Shamed – Marianna Orlandi, C-Fam

Why our willingness to offend can be the loving choice – Mike Goeke, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Human Trafficking

Child Exploitation: Solutions for Stemming the Growing Demand – Patrick A. Trueman, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Pornography

Pornography Is Worse Than Feminism – Samuel D. James, First Things

Hugh Hefner, Mourning, and Legacies: Beyond the Pipe and the Robe – Ed Stetzer, Christianity Today

How Hugh Hefner Hijacked Men’s Brains – Joe Carter, The Gospel Coalition

One Man’s Dream Destroyed Millions – Jon Bloom, Desiring God

Hugh Hefner Leaves Behind a Legacy of Sexual Exploitation, and a Public Health Crisis – Patrick Trueman, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Pornography, Addiction, and Human Happiness – Zac Alstin, Intellectual Takeout

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The Sexual Revolution, Sexual Freedom, and Hugh Hefner

by Jourdan Stuart

September 29, 2017

In his life, Hugh Hefner built an empire. Many, including himself, would say this empire was built on helping people explore their sexual freedom. His contribution to society is one that has given people the opportunity to look at sex with a different attitude. During his life, Mr. Hefner made it possible for everyone to have sex at his or her fingertips. However, this man did much more than just revolutionize the sex industry; he contributed to sowing confusion about what it means to be truly free.

In an interview, Mr. Hefner stated, “One of the great ironies in our society is that we celebrate freedom and then limit the parts of life where we should be most free.” In this age of sexual revolution, many Millennials are “exploring” their sexuality and falsely calling this “freedom.” I have to admit that I did not understand what it meant to be truly free until I got married. Yet many people my age would laugh at this idea as being absurd.

Here is the freedom that I have enjoyed. Because I waited for marriage, I do not have to spend my life concerned about whether my partners were healthy, or if they would leave me if I slept with them, or whether my partner would help me if I got pregnant. I do not have to lie awake at night wondering what I did wrong because my last partner left me even though I gave him everything; In marriage, I have been given an opportunity that I wish more people had; I have found a safe environment to explore and grow with someone who is going through life with me. We do not have to live in fear because we have each other and we have God.

God has given us the freedom; in fact, we are “called to be free, but do not use your freedom to indulge in the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13 NIV). Hugh Hefner promised to give people freedom to explore their sexuality, but all he did was give people an avenue to ruin their marriages and their lives by becoming slaves to their lustful fantasies.

Studies have shown that people who use pornography are less satisfied in marriage, lose interest in sexual intercourse, are more likely to be unfaithful, and can harm families. This not only physically affects marriages, but also leaves lasting devastation in its wake. Mr. Hefner wanted to create an environment for fun and freedom, but all he did was confuse people on what it meant to be truly free.

Jourdan Stuart is an intern at FRC.

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Pence: Human Rights Council “Doesn’t Deserve its Name”

by Travis Weber

September 27, 2017

Speaking at the United Nations last week, Vice President Pence had harsh words for the UN Human Rights Council—an entity he claimed “doesn’t deserve its name.”

As we look at the membership of the council today, we see nations that betray these timeless principles upon which this institution was founded. Today, the United Nations Human Rights Council actually attracts and welcomes many of the worst human rights violators in the world.” (emphasis mine). The vice president concluded, “[a] clear majority of the Human Rights Council’s members fail to meet even the most basic human rights standards.”

Pence singled out Cuba and Venezuela as examples of countries that didn’t belong there. They aren’t the only ones.

President Trump, speaking the day before, had emphasized the same point: “In some cases, states that seek to subvert this institution’s noble aims have hijacked the very systems that are supposed to advance them. For example, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council.”

While these words may seem harsh, they are true, and make a long-overdue point more world leaders need to recognize themselves.

While the UN began with a noble purpose and a framework to achieve a worthwhile goal, it has become corrupted in the years since 1945. The term “human rights”—which recognizes that all people have certain rights that come from God and not government because they are made in the imago dei, or “image of God”—must retain its core meaning to bear any fruit in the international arena. Yet the term has been used and abused over the years to mean many things to many people, and hence nothing at all. Through this definitional watering down along with intentional noncompliance and hypocrisy, we have achieved a “Human Rights” Council of human rights violators.

The only thing consistent about the council is its irrational and mind-boggling hatred of Israel, the Middle East’s most successful democracy and a human rights leader in that area of the world. As Vice President Pence pointed out, “[t]he council’s agenda item seven actually singles out Israel for discussion at every single meeting, something no other country must endure. As evidence, the Human Rights Council has passed more than 70 resolutions condemning Israel, while largely ignoring the world’s worst human rights abusers.” Such anti-Semitism further discredits the already scornful behavior of the council.

The UN was founded with a worthy goal, and it is one worth continuing to strive for. But striving includes reform where needed. The “head-in-the-sand” mentality too often taken in the face of ongoing problems will only prolong abuse and the suppression of human rights—not their protection.

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40 Days for Life: Offering Hope and Life One Vigil at a Time

by Arina Grossu

September 27, 2017

Arina O. Grossu, FRC’s director for the Center for Human Dignity, spoke last night at the 40 Days for Life 2017 opening event in Washington, D.C. Here are her remarks:

Good evening everyone. Thank you for being here. Every spring and fall in hundreds of cities worldwide, people gather as part of the 40 Days for Life campaign to pray for all of the mothers and babies who unfortunately end up at the doors of a Planned Parenthood. They pray not only for the protection of mothers, fathers, and babies that they be spared from the evil of abortion, but also for the conversion of all abortion workers and volunteers, and for an end to abortion itself. Participants of 40 Days for Life are part of a noble endeavor that has already borne so much fruit. Literally.

How effective exactly was 40 Days for Life this past spring alone? 637 babies were saved from abortion (8 here in fact), 13 abortion workers quit their jobs, and 9 abortion facilities closed.

On this 10th anniversary of 40 Days for Life and in their largest campaign yet, it is due to your efforts and those who have participated in 40 Days for Life that more than 13,300 babies are alive today. Some of these children are celebrating their 10th birthdays this year. What a great legacy for life!

Since the first 40 Days for Life in 2007, it has been present in 715 cities and 44 countries with 750,000 individual participants and 19,000 churches getting involved. Not only have over 13,000 babies been saved from abortion, but 154 abortion workers quit their jobs and 86 abortion facilities have closed.

We can and we must defund Planned Parenthood and redirect taxpayers’ dollars to comprehensive health care centers. We must not accept anything less. It is a shame that a couple of naysaying Senate Republicans have determined the fate of the Graham-Cassidy bill and it will not go for a vote. In addition to repealing and replacing Obamacare, including halting taxpayer funding for abortion, this bill would have defunded Planned Parenthood. We must find other solutions.

Why is it urgent that we defund Planned Parenthood? Because Planned Parenthood commits about one-third of all U.S. abortions at 328,348 abortions per year, and is the single biggest abortion business in America. Planned Parenthood aborted 900 babies every single day in 2015—one baby every 96 seconds.

We must defund Planned Parenthood because Planned Parenthood hurts women and children. It is a sham of an organization.

From 2009 to 2015, cancer screening and prevention programs have consistently decreased by close to two-thirds, breast exams have consistently decreased by over half (and we all know that Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms), and prenatal services have steadily decreased by more than three-quarters. In fact, in 2015, Planned Parenthood committed 35 abortions for every prenatal service it provided. It also committed 114 abortions for every adoption referral it made. According to Planned Parenthood’s 2015-2016 report, out of total services for pregnant women (adoption referrals, prenatal services, abortion), abortion accounted for 96 percent.

Planned Parenthood has not only had a decrease in services, but also a decrease in patients. In 2015, it had 2.4 million patients—100,000 less patients than in 2014.

Yet while its patient base and purported services continue to decrease, in 2015-2016, Planned Parenthood received $554.6 million in combined federal, state, and local government grants and contracts, an increase of $900,000 since the year prior, and the highest in government funding that Planned Parenthood has ever received.

Additionally, its total revenue for 2015-2016 was about $1.354 billion, the highest in its history.

Of all funding received by Planned Parenthood, 41 percent comes from taxpayers’ pockets. Why are we subsidizing an organization that kills babies? We don’t need Planned Parenthood.

There are 13,540 federally-qualified, low-cost, high quality health care clinics and rural health centers that can and should replace Planned Parenthood. They outnumber Planned Parenthood more than 20 to 1 nationally. They not only offer screening and prevention services, pap smears, cancer screenings, breast exams, and prenatal services, but they also offer a full spectrum of other primary care services that Planned Parenthood fails to provide such as mammograms, various immunizations, diabetes and glaucoma screenings, cholesterol screenings, well-child, mental health, and substance abuse services.

Imagine how much more we can do for women and children when an extra half a billion in taxpayer funds is restored for actual healthcare.

Remain steadfast because we are winning. As they say, “Keep calm and carry on.” Before we know it, Planned Parenthood will be obsolete. Planned Parenthood facilities and affiliates are at an all-time low, now down to 620 from 930 facilities, and 56 from 190 affiliates at their height.

There’s no better time than today to keep this momentum going. Our prayerful, loving presence in front of Planned Parenthoods and other abortion facilities rips at the very fabric of the abortion industry. Our prayerful presence exposes the dirty and evil deeds that go on behind these walls. Our prayerful presence reaches out to women in the depths of their despair and offers them a life-giving choice, for themselves and for their children. Our prayerful presence changes the hearts and minds of abortion workers. We are on the front lines fighting between life and death. Our task is to help every person we can to escape the grip of the evil of abortion. This is a sacred calling, one which we must not take lightly.

So from now until November 5, I invite you to once again join our brothers and sisters all around the world in building the culture of life—right here, right now. Take part in this 40 Days by praying and fasting, keeping a prayerful vigil outside of an abortion facility, and doing community outreach to spread the pro-life message. Get involved in your local efforts by visiting 40daysforlife.com. Remember that “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke). In these next 40 days, do something for life. You may never know all of the good effects your efforts for the cause of life in the next 40 days may make, or you may be blessed enough to one day hold a bright-eyed, pudgy, giggly baby who owes her life to your prayerful witness. Thank you.

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How Can Public School Students Exercise Their Religious Liberty Rights?

by FRC

September 21, 2017

How can students in public schools exercise their constitutional religious liberty rights? In part three of our “Back to School” Facebook Live series, FRC policy experts Sarah Perry and Travis Weber discuss this important question. Here is a summary of some key points from this discussion:

  • The First Amendment to the Constitution is the basis for religious liberty, particularly in its “free speech” and “free exercise” protections.
  • The much talked-about “wall of separation” between church and state that is often misrepresented in our current culture is derived from the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which states that the government cannot mandate one faith that people must follow. This notion has often been misapplied to exclude any religious mention or prayer from the public square. In reality, the intent of the Establishment Clause is much more limited—it was meant to protect the “free exercise” of all religions by not “establishing” one religion in particular.
  • Two principles should be kept in mind when considering whether an activity is protected by the free expression of religion in a public school setting: 1) is religion being treated equally with non-religion in any particular situation, and 2) is the religious activity or expression student-led or initiated?
  • If a student is confronted for and prohibited from wearing a cross necklace, for example, the first step is to establish the facts of the incident. Parents can then take their concerns to the teacher or other official who is involved in the situation. If the situation is not addressed satisfactorily at the school level, public advocacy groups such as FRC, Alliance Defending Freedom, and First Liberty Institute should be contacted in order to draw attention to the situation through the media and for legal advice.
  • The Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act was recently passed in Florida, prompted by two incidents of blatant religious liberty violation in which a student was commanded to remove their cross necklace, and another incident in which a student was reprimanded for reading a Bible during their free time.
  • The Supreme Court established in Town of Greece v. Galloway that public prayer in a local government setting is constitutional in accord with the Establishment Clause, which means that public school employees like football coach Joe Kennedy should be allowed to take a knee in prayer at a football game.
  • A school is permitted to keep order in their environments by limiting rights only when they materially and substantially disrupt the learning environment. Broadly speaking, however, this applies in very limited circumstances.
  • Religious clubs must be permitted to operate in the same way as non-religious clubs in public school settings.
  • During school, students have the right to pray as they want in a moment of silence and during lunch, read their Bibles, share their faith, hand out literature, and do other religious activities as long as they are not disrupting the school environment.
  • Public school teachers, coaches, and officials are seen as representatives of the government and cannot set forth a principle of religion that people must follow. In their private time “off the clock” while at school, they can engage in any religious activities they choose.
  • If teachers are unsure about the legality of a religious activity they want to engage in at school, they should seek legal advice before engaging in the activity in order to be safe from having litigation filed against them by a parent or the school.

View the full video to find out more.

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Why Are College Students Afraid of Free Speech?

by Daniel Hart

September 19, 2017

In a startling new survey of college students conducted by the Brookings Institution, it was found that fully one in five students think that “using violence to disrupt a controversial speaker is acceptable.” There were “no statistically significant differences in response by political party affiliation.”

Other results from the survey indicate that 51 percent of students think that “shouting over controversial speakers so they can’t be heard” is acceptable. Sixty-two percent of Democrats agreed that this behavior was acceptable, compared to 39 percent of Republicans.

These disturbing findings have been born out in recent in events on college campuses across the country. This past March, students at Middlebury College in Vermont physically assaulted a professor who was accompanying guest speaker Charles Murray as he attempted to leave the campus, whose planned speech was interrupted to the point that he could not continue it. Just last week, The University of California Berkeley had to spend $600,000 on security to ensure that violent riots did not break out during Ben Shapiro’s speech there.

One has to wonder, what is it about free speech that many college students are so afraid of? What is the point of using violent and disruptive tactics to silence speakers who may have viewpoints that differ from these students? Wouldn’t engaging in respectful debate be more beneficial for everyone involved? If a certain viewpoint is seen as being so terrible as to be violently suppressed, why not simply demonstrate the terribleness of this viewpoint through rational discourse?

The protection of free speech is an issue that people of all political viewpoints must demand as a protected First Amendment right on college campuses. Thankfully, there are hopeful signs that more and more people from across the political spectrum are waking up to the urgency of this free speech crisis. Recently, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens spoke eloquently about this on Real Time with Bill Maher:

Too many campus administrators are basically cowed by small minorities of totalitarian-minded students who just don’t want to hear anything except what they’re disposed to agree with. The job of grownups is to behave like grownups and say, ‘no.’ Intellectually, a college is not a ‘safe space.’ Intellectually, a college is going to be a place where your ideas are harmed, and perhaps even destroyed, and that’s as it should be.”

Author and professor Salman Rushdie brought this point home superbly:

A college should be a ‘safe space’ for thought, not a ‘safe space’ from thought. And if you go to college and you never hear anything you haven’t thought before, then you may as well have stayed home. And people who think that they should never hear things that would upset them should go somewhere else and leave that space available to somebody who can benefit from what is called ‘education.’”

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Social Conservative Review - September 15, 2017

by Daniel Hart

September 15, 2017

Dear Friends,

In discussing the “problem of pain,” author Joe Heschmeyer recently wrote that “…the whole story of the Fall is that things aren’t how they ought to be, how they aren’t how they were intended to be, and how we’re the ones who screwed them up. You can read that story in Genesis, or watch it on the nightly news.” Bishop Robert Barron summed up this state of affairs concisely: “The human race is best characterized as a dysfunctional spiritual family, all of us having been marked from birth by the effects of sin. Sin has found its way into every aspect of human life, personally and institutionally. We would be hopelessly naïve to think otherwise.”

Atheists often argue that it is absurd to believe in God when there is so much “dysfunction,” suffering, and pain in the world. But as Heschmeyer points out, if there is no God, what can possibly account for all of the beauty in the world? He illustrates this by quoting the musician Joanna Newsom as she discussed what she was going through while recording an album:

The thing that I was experiencing and dwelling on the entire time is that there are so many things that are not OK and that will never be OK again,” says Newsom. “But there’s also so many things that are OK and good that sometimes it makes you crumple over with being alive. We are allowed such an insane depth of beauty and enjoyment in this lifetime. It’s what my dad talks about sometimes. He says the only way that he knows there’s a God is that there’s so much gratuitous joy in this life. And that’s his only proof. There’s so many joys that do not assist in the propagation of the race or self-preservation. There’s no point whatsoever. They are so excessively, mind-bogglingly joy-producing that they distract from the very functions that are supposed to promote human life. They can leave you stupefied, monastic, not productive in any way, shape or form. And those joys are there and they are unflagging and they are ever-growing…”

This is part of what makes our Creator so amazing. Not only did He give us “a Savior, someone who can break into our dysfunction from the outside and heal us” (Bishop Barron’s words), He also gives us moments of “gratuitous joy” as we make our way through this earthly life. May we be forever thankful for this gift freely given to us, and may we freely give of ourselves in return.

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

Can a Christian Serve as a Judge Anymore? – Travis Weber

How the Left Uses Fake Science to Advance Its Agenda

Will FEMA Treat Churches Fairly? – Travis Weber

The Rights that Students and Parents Have to Challenge Transgender Policies

Advice for Parents On Challenging Transgender Policies in Public Schools

Masterpiece Cakeshop Attorneys File Merits Brief with the Supreme Court – Travis Weber

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

Why religious liberty matters for creativity – Jason Thacker, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Faith groups provide the bulk of disaster recovery, in coordination with FEMA – Paul Singer, USA Today

What It’s Like to Be Smeared by the Southern Poverty Law Center – Carol M. Swain, The Wall Street Journal

Senate Democrats show off their anti-religious bigotry – Michael Gerson, The Washington Post

Media should not embrace far-left ‘poverty’ law firmColorado Springs Gazette

Will the IRS investigate the SPLC on taxes? – Judson Phillips, The Washington Times

Non-Profit Leaders Call on Media to Stop Citing Southern Poverty Law Center – Liberty McArtor, The Stream

California bill seeks to punish ‘misgendering’ with jail time – Mary Rezac, Crux

3 Texas Churches Sue FEMA Over Policy Banning Churches From Receiving Harvey Disaster Relief – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian Post

Democratic Congressman Says He’s Introducing A Bill To Punish Campus ‘Hate Speech’ – Emily Zanotti, The Daily Wire

UK Speaker: Same-Sex Marriage Won’t Be ‘Proper’ Until Churches Can’t Opt Out – Tyler O’Neil, PJ Media

U.S. Senators Revive Anti-Catholic Bigotry To Intimidate Religious People – Paul C. Binotto, The Federalist

Attacks on Religious Liberty’ in US Increased 133 Percent in Last 5 Years: Report – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post

Free to Believe”

Judge Suspends City’s Ban of Farmers Over Their Marriage Views – Kelsey Harkness, The Daily Signal

4 Key Arguments We Are Making to Defend Jack Phillips at the Supreme Court – Sarah Kramer, Alliance Defending Freedom

They Serve Gay Clients All The Time. So Why Won’t They Cater A Same-Sex Wedding? – Josh Shepherd, The Federalist

Your Beliefs Are No Longer Allowed – Taylor Lewis, American Thinker

Professors told to report students who make campus ‘less inclusive’ to Behavior Assessment Team – Andrew Johnson, The College Fix

International Religious Freedom

What’s changed in Britain since same-sex marriage? – David Sergeant, The Spectator Australia

Catholic Priest Released After 18 Months’ Captivity – Elise Harris, National Catholic Register

Fulani herdsmen kill 20 Christians in Nigeria – Onize Ohikere, WORLD

 

Life

Abortion

When Planned Parenthood closes, women find real health care at hundreds of other clinics – Rebecca Downs, Live Action

Podcast: Pro-life apologetics; Arguments from reason that align with scripture – Scott Klusendorf, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Red State-Blue State Abortion Divide Deepens – Brian Fraga, National Catholic Register

5 new scientific discoveries that show what’s happening to the child in the womb – Kristi Burton Brown, Live Action

Can We Stop an International Roe v. Wade? – Stefano Gennarini, Public Discourse

U.S. Blasts UNFPA Support for China’s Birth Control Policy – Susan Yoshihara, C-Fam

Why the pro-choice side is afraid of giving women the choice of abortion pill reversal – Marcie Little, Live Action

One last chance to defund Planned Parenthood may lie in the Senate’s hands – Susan Michelle-Hanson, Live Action

Adoption

Podcast: Are you mentally healthy enough? Preparing for adoption’s hardships – Sharen Ford, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Bioethics

The American Medical Association vs. Human Nature – Philip Hawley, Jr., Public Discourse

Doctor wants D.C.’s assisted suicide law repealed: A ‘right to die’ soon creates a ‘duty to die’ – Cassy Fiano, Live Action

The Contagion of Euthanasia and the Corruption of Compassion – Arthur Goldberg and Shimon Cowen, Public Discourse

Obamacare

After Experiencing British And U.S. Health Care, This Family Says Single-Payer Is Abominable – Jayme Metzgar, The Federalist

 

Family

Economics/Education

As Workers Expect Less, Job Satisfaction Rises – Lauren Weber, The Wall Street Journal

This is why a growing number of teachers want more lessons on religion in school – Kelsey Dallas, Deseret News

How a Democratic New York City Councilwoman Became a Crusader for School Choice – Eva Moskowitz, National Review

A Debt Crisis Is Coming, and We’re All to Blame – Walter E. Williams, The Daily Signal

Five Facts About Families and Poverty – Alysse ElHage, Family Studies

Marriage

New research says this kind of daily prayer can change your marriage – Calah Alexander, Aleteia

How to Align Your Dreams as a Couple – Greg Smalley and Erin Smalley, Focus on the Family

Are You ‘Not Yet Married’? – Marshall Segal, Desiring God

The Infectious Effects of Divorce and Marriage – Luma Simms, Family Studies

As U.S. marriage rate hovers at 50%, education gap in marital status widens – Kim Parker and Renee Stepler, Pew Research Center

Faith/Character/Culture

Why Our Obsession With TV Antiheroes Is Destroying Our Souls – Georgi Boorman, The Federalist

The Secret Power of Family Work – Jenet Erickson, Family Studies

Does The Immaterial Exist? – Joe Heschmeyer, Word On Fire

Why religion is not going away and science will not destroy it – Peter Harrison, Aeon

Overcoming Our Smartphone Addiction – Christopher O. Blum and Joshua P. Hochschild, Crisis

If You Want to Live Truly, Learn to Die Daily – Liz Wann, Desiring God

Human Sexuality

Oversexed ed – Emily Belz, WORLD

Parents pull children from prestigious school after transgender ‘indoctrination’ in kindergarten – Bradford Richardson, The Washington Times

How The Transgender Crusade Made Me Rethink My Support For Gay Marriage – Bethany Mandel, The Federalist

Mislabeled sex ed – Emily Belz, WORLD

Why I Don’t Use Female Pronouns For My Transgender Brother – Michael Booker, The Federalist

Sex, Sanity and Beliefs That ‘Live Loudly’ Within Us – Archbishop Charles Chaput, National Catholic Register

What science really has to say about sexuality and gender – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Human Trafficking

Human-Trafficking Fighters Hope for Lift From Proposed New Legislation – Peter Jesserer Smith, National Catholic Register

Google and Sex Traffickers Like Backpage.com – Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times

A Pivotal New Goal: Shedding Light on the Sexual Exploitation of Boys and Men – Katherine Blakeman, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Pornography

What I told my 7-year-old when he asked what porn was – Matt Fradd, Aleteia

Dr. Sharon Cooper, MD Discusses How Pornography Harms Children – Katherine Blakeman, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Why Watching Porn Leaves You Feeling Lonelier Than Before – Fight the New Drug

Continue reading

How the Left Uses Fake Science to Advance Its Agenda

by FRC

September 14, 2017

FRC hosted a Speaker Series event yesterday to launch Austin Ruse’s new book Fake Science: Exposing the Left’s Skewed Statistics, Fuzzy Facts, and Dodgy Data. In his remarks, Ruse made the perceptive observation that fake science is more dangerous than fake news because scientific statistics, no matter their dubious origins, tend to lodge in our brains and stay there, whereas fake news is simply superseded by the next news cycle.

Here are some examples of the fake science that he cites in his book:

  • Proponents of Missouri’s constitutional amendment to legalize cloning in 2006 argued that it would lead to a plethora of treatments and cures for incurable diseases. Eleven years later, not one treatment or cure has been produced.
  • Sixteen years ago, Al Gore claimed that global warming would wipe out polar bears. Today, the polar bear population remains the same as it was when Gore made his claim.
  • Homosexuality is said to be inborn and unchangeable. Researchers have in fact never found a “gay gene,” nor have they found that those identifying as homosexual have different brains than everyone else.
  • The state of California claims that acrylamide, a naturally occurring chemical compound that is found in bread, cereal, cookies, potato chips, French fries, and other foods, causes cancer. In fact, one would have to consume 182 pounds of French fries per day to hit the cancer “danger zone.”
  • Activists and some scientists claim that genetically modified rice causes cancer. This has never been proven and could in fact save hundreds of thousands from blindness and even death. Approximately 250,000 children go blind every year because they lack an essential mineral that is found in this kind of rice. The rice has never gone to market because environmentalists have held it up for over 25 years.
  • Abortion advocates claim that pregnancy does not begin until the fertilized ovum attaches to the uterine wall. In fact, most medical textbooks and dictionaries still say that pregnancy, and therefore human life, begins at conception.
  • Sexual revolutionaries in the 60’s said and continue to say that children do not need their moms and dads. In fact, social science data shows voluminously that children do best when raised in the home of their married biological mother and father—anything less than this increases the risk of the child developing dangerous pathologies.

View the entire event to learn more about this important issue.

Continue reading

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