The Social Conservative Review: July 31, 2014

by Krystle Gabele

July 31, 2014

Click here to subscribe to the Social Conservative Review.


Dear Friends:

Our troubled culture presents no shortage of opportunities for social conservatives to take action to rebuild the family, advance the sanctity of life, strengthen marriage, and protect religious liberty. Here are some new resources that will better equip you to join FRC in these vital efforts:

  • Pornography is a cancer, and we have to fight it like the disease it is. We’ve just published, “Pornography and Its Consequences,” authored by FRC Senior Fellow Cathy Ruse. This study offers practical tools to help you fight this scourge in your church, your community, and your family.
  • Common Core - Uncommon Dilemmais the title of a recent lecture panel here at FRC that addresses one of the most significant issues in American education, the “Common Core” standards being imposed on the states. Watch and listen to leading experts share their concerns with “Common Core” and find out how the standards place your children at risk.
  • Marriage Is a Religious Liberty Issue,” says the director of FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty, Travis Weber. Read his compelling piece to learn how these two critical issues intersect.
  • Rev. Jack Hibbs, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel-Chino Hills in California and a member of FRC President Tony Perkins’ National Pastors Council, spoke out boldly on Fox News about the danger of the IRS potentially working to remove tax-exempt status from churches that take a stand on moral issues.

As we seek to uphold the good and true in government, society, and family, we can never quit “speaking the truth in love” and acting with the wisdom and courage needed for the task. FRC is here to help you do just that.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice President
Family Research Council

P.S. How is the Supreme Court ruling on our “first freedom,” religious liberty? Learn more from Dr. Mark David Hall by watching his lecture on this key subject when it’s broadcast at noon on August 8.


Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life
Abortion

Euthanasia/End of Life Issues

Stem Cells and Biotechnology

Marriage & Family
Common Core

Family Life

Human Sexuality

Homosexuality and Same-Sex “Marriage”

Pornography

Human trafficking

Religious Liberty

Religion in Public Life

International Religious Liberty

Other important articles

Book Reviews

Will Rabbi Saperstein Be a True Advocate for Religious Liberty?

by Rob Schwarzwalder

July 29, 2014

After a hiatus of nine months, President Obama has nominated Rabbi David Saperstein to be the next U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, an office within our State Department.

That Rabbi Saperstein is Jewish is a blessing: It is an affirmation that the United States rebukes the anti-Semitism rising in so many countries, and that we believe Jews, Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox can partner together in standing for the “unalienable rights” bestowed to us by our Creator, including what our Constitution affirms is our “first freedom,” religious liberty.

As he speaks and works on behalf of our country, Rabbi Saperstein will, I hope, prove to be an effective and assertive advocate for those persecuted for their faith. However, I fear he is entering his new role with his hands tied: Barack Obama has sought to cabin and diminish lived-out faith in our country. What our President and his administration fail to sustain and advance at home they cannot defend and encourage abroad.

The Rabbi’s predecessor, the Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook, left an at-best mixed legacy during her 30 months in the position, at least some of it not her fault. Dr. Tom Farr of Georgetown University, one of the nation’s most respected advocates for international religious liberty, notes that Dr. Johnson Cook was given “very few resources (by the Obama Administration) she could employ to develop strategies to advance international religious freedom.”

Additionally, Rabbi Saperstein’s well-known liberalism is troubling. For example, he criticized the Supreme Court’s decision last month in the Hobby Lobby case, endorsing the idea that the federal government has the right to tell business owners they must provide coverage of contraceptives that can cause abortion. “We believe the court was wrong in saying there are religious claims corporations can make,” he said. “Corporations don’t have souls or consciences the way that people or associations of like-minded people do.” This is nonsense: Corporations are associations of people; that they are constituted for profit makes them no less so. Thus, our legal systems recognizes their embodiment as “corpora” (bodies) – and those people who constitute corporations through direct or shareholding ownership have a right not to be coerced into providing services that conscientiously they find wrong.

Additionally, the Rabbi has been a board member of People for the American Way, whose mission statement affirms its staunch commitment to “progressive” policies. Such PAW “progressivism” includes the marginalization of faith in public life, unrestricted access to abortion-on-demand, and what it calls “dumping” the Defense of Marriage Act. Rabbi Saperstein even went out of his way to oppose the ban on “partial-birth” abortion, saying he was “dismayed” by passage of the measure in the House of Representatives.

Over the past five and one-half years, an Administration much more preoccupied with the advancement of homosexuality in law and society than concerned with protecting religious liberty, either in the United States or through American foreign policy, has failed to inspire confidence in its commitment to what Hamilton called “the sacred rights of conscience” as they are played-out in public life.

We have a deep interest in fighting for international religious liberty, as to do so advances our national security and vital interests. By standing with, and battling for, those persecuted or repressed because of their faith, we build good will toward our country in areas where such is urgently needed. That, in this case, our security and interests are coincident with our deeply cherished values makes religious liberty all the more of a priority for our diplomatic agenda.

Rabbi Saperstein once chaired the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, where I briefly worked years ago. All Americans should pray that the Rabbi will be a lion for religious liberty, and with everyone of good will, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to defending and advancing religious liberty worldwide. However, given his personal convictions and public associations, I confess to having more than a few apprehensions.

Hallowed Grounds, Hallowed Name

by Emma Vinton

July 28, 2014

One solemn guard proceeded on the well-trodden 21-step march in front of the tomb. The clock was striking three o’clock, and the sound reverberated off the surrounding marble as silence fell. A baby gave a cry. My cousin leaned over to me and whispered, “Eerie.”

There was something eerie about it, but also something beautiful, hushed, a kind of respectful awe that pervades a sacred place. This place is sometimes called “our Nation’s Most Sacred Shrine”—Arlington National Cemetery.

Here is the place where rest those who have given the last full measure of devotion to the protection of a country worth defending. Here a ground consecrated by blood, sweat, and tears, here the bones of men who carried a nation to victory on their backs, spurred by the fire of patriotic allegiance. From the greatest of men to the humblest, all now are equal.

These hallowed grounds draw some three million visitors each year, many of whom flock to witness the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They gather for the history, the renown, for the memory of the fallen. They assemble to witness the famed and sacred ritual in honor of the soldiers known but to God.

Our country is losing such rituals, such attention to sacred details. There are other sacred shrines in this country, but this cemetery, this ground hallowed by the sacrifices of dead patriots, is the most sacred. Many religious ceremonies still maintain a level of liturgy, but the state has forsaken public liturgy and replaced it with an informality that trivializes sacrifice. Perhaps this is why Arlington draws such crowds, because tourists see such things that have become unknown in the life of the nation.

The crowds gather before the hour strikes, witness the ceremony, and leave before the new guard takes even one march. Rather than accepting the challenge, “Could you not spend one hour with me?” as have the soldiers who guard the tomb for their hour-long shifts, tourists spend the bare amount of time seeing the “exciting” parts, and then they depart.

The demands of schedules, of young children, or perhaps of a sense of emotional overwhelmedness press-out lingering. Yet should contemplation of sacrifice be only transient? Are there ways that, in our daily lives, we can ponder why we live in the freedom we enjoy?

If only such beautiful liturgy could be reintroduced to daily life. Americans should meditate on the sacrifices that have made freedom possible, and remember that the work of the dead is not finished, but advanced. We must be dedicated to the furthering of such work. We should allow beauty to permeate the soul, whether it be in the form of artwork, music, or prayer. And we should put ourselves in the state of mind to receive such beauty, and allow the blessings that have been passed down from our ancestors to elevate our minds to a greater purpose. If only such reverence would be given not only to the dead, but to the Creator of the living and Reviver the dead. If only we would have the patience and the mindset to witness and enter fully into the entirety of sacred ritual, and, along with the guard, spend one hour on the hallowed grounds to revere the hallowed, unknown name.

The Dinner Table and the Banquet

by Emma Vinton

July 28, 2014

Ronald Reagan once said that great change starts at the dinner table.

One Easter Sunday morning after the Vigil Mass, my family sat down to a beautiful yet simple brunch, still in our pajamas. It was nothing extraordinary, but it remains in my memory as one of the most harmonious days of my life, surrounded by family, in the peace of the Risen Christ.

But there is something greater that allows for a dinner table to even exist and for a family to be around it. That something is love.

In God’s first words regarding mankind in the beginning, He established the whole basis for love and marriage in the Trinity: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen. 1:26). This Trinity, the plurality of persons (“our”) in a singular unified entity (“image”) speaks the generative Word that brings humankind into existence. This love is the love which is reflected in the institution of the family.

In marriage, the persons of the husband and wife become one body. They take upon themselves the work of God and partake in the creative words of the Trinity. The parents also choose to make man in “our likeness.” Their unitive love produces children, just as the Holy Spirit proceeds from the communion of the Father and the Son. The family, in its unity of distinct members, becomes a reflection of the Trinity.

President Reagan also said that the strong and loving families fathers help create are the soul of a nation. The family is the most fundamental institution of any nation, so vital that it is the very animating factor of society. It is the institution that stems from and proceeds towards charity, towards the heavenly institution which it reflects — the Trinity.

When the family sits down at the dinner table, all the members come together to share in a meal made possible by the provisions of the father and the nurturing of the mother.

And as a Catholic family, my family begins our meal with the Sign of the Cross and grace; we mark ourselves in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We invoke the love of the One Name upon our one family.

The dinner table is the place where love engenders transformation, radical changes that pour out from the family to the nation. Some of those changes are immediate; others take place over time, taking root on good soil to blossom later. Yet whether sudden or subtle, the dinner table is where life is fashioned and souls cultivated, souls which set the world aflame.

This earthly table is a prefigurement of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. It is a place of communion in familial love, the starting place for change, and an earthly vision of the eternal end in the heavenly banquet.

July 28, 1914: The Great War Begins

by Robert Morrison

July 28, 2014

Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia this day one hundred years ago. Serbian army figures had been implicated in the assassinations of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his consort, Sophie, in the Bosnian city of Sarajevo just one month prior. The shaky, multi-lingual, multi-ethnic Austro-Hungarian Empire had issued a list of nearly impossible demands of Serbia. Surprisingly, Serbia agreed to almost all of these stringent demands.

Nonetheless, the Austro-Hungarian military high command wanted war, needed war. And the Austrians had been given a “blank check” by Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. The unwavering support of Austria’s far more powerful ally was critical to Austria’s decision this day. Few could have imagined that Austria would risk war with its much smaller neighbor had it not had the German Army’s military might standing alongside.

That was because Serbia was under the protection of its huge ally, Russia. Tsar Nicholas II of Russia viewed himself as the leader of the Slavic peoples within and outside of his vast domain and Serbia was mostly a Slavic nation.

With Russia’s almost inexhaustible sources of manpower mobilizing for war against Austria-Hungary, Germany felt it had to move with lightning speed to counter this threat.

France, though republican and secularist, had aligned herself with Tsarist “Holy Russia” as a hoped-for counterweight to Germany’s 3:2 advantage in men and materièl. By threatening Germany with a two-front war — France in the West, Russia in the East, French military and political leaders had hoped to deter the Germans from going to war.

This intricate system of alliances and often-secret treaties contained all the combustible materials for a great explosion should diplomacy and military deterrence fail. On this day in 1914, they failed with catastrophic results.

Less than a week after Austria’s move, on August 1st, Germany declared war on Russia. Two days later, Germany declared war on France. Anticipating the need for a knockout blow against France before Russia’s huge manpower could be brought against the leading “Central” Power of Germany, Berlin’s High Command worked from the Schlieffen Plan.

This plan required the German Army to sweep into France and defeat the soldiers of the Republic in a lightning strike. “Let the last man on the right brush the [English] Channel with his sleeve,” they said of the great wheeling motion that would be required of their army.

The need for speed and the dictates of geography meant that Germany would have to drive her Army through little, neutral Belgium. Belgium’s independence and neutrality had been guaranteed by treaty Britain and Prussia (later Germany) since 1830.

Britain had an “understanding” with the French, what was termed an Entente Cordiale. Still, there was no formal treaty between the two historic enemies. With Belgium’s neutrality violated, however, Britain could not stay aloof from the continental struggle. No longer could she enjoy her “splendid isolation” from Europe’s quarrels.

English writer G.K. Chesterton would later write that there was never a chance that Britain would not go to war with Germany if the Kaiser’s troops invaded Belgium. But, because the ruling Liberal Party was financed largely by pacifist Manchester millionaires, Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey could not issue a blunt, unmistakable warning: If you cross the border into Belgium, we will go to war. Instead, Lord Grey confined himself to euphemistic phrases, like “England expects all parties will observe their engagements.”

Years later, from his Dutch exile, the ex-Kaiser would tell diplomatic historian Sir John Wheeler-Bennett that if he had known England would come into the war against him, he would never have allowed his generals to invade Belgium.

This may be a key lesson from the Great War: Pacifism doesn’t assuredly lead to peace. In the case of this cataclysm, pacifism may have led to war. When the British ambassador in Berlin brought word on August 4th of Britain’s Declaration of War on Germany to Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, the civilian head of the government cried out in anguish.

Bethmann-Hollweg simply could not believe Britain would go to war with Germany. Their royal families were even related by blood. Kaiser Wilhelm II was the petted grandson of Britain’s revered Queen Victoria. All of this, cried Bethmann-Hollweg, over “a mere scrap of paper!”

Philip Jenkins’s powerful new book, The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade, may be the most important of the writings in the ocean of ink overflowing in this Centennial of the Great War. In it, we learn that Helmuth von Moltke the Younger, Chief of the German General Staff in the pre-war years, was seriously involved in the occult. And we know how Social Darwinism had seeped into the consciousness of war planners on both sides of this conflict. German planners believed in “Weltmacht oder Niedergang” (World power or decline), This belief neatly fit in with Darwin’s ideas of survival of the fittest.

We live in an age when pledges, vows, and commitments are viewed as “mere scraps of paper.” Candidates of both parties in the U.S., for example, pledged to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and move the American Embassy there. President Obama is the most recent leader who has failed to observe his engagements.

Marriage vows made before God and a cloud of witnesses are increasingly disregarded. “He betrayed his wife, he did not betray his country,” said one Congressman in voting against Bill Clinton’s impeachment. In opening himself and his country to blackmail by twenty hostile foreign powers, conducting an adulterous affair over an unsecure telephone line, Clinton betrayed his wife and his country. Before that, another president had vowed: “Read my lips, no new taxes.” When he broke that pledge, his Budget Director dismissed it, saying “those were just words some speechwriter gave him to say.” A mere scrap of paper? Nobel Peace Prize laureate Henry Kissinger explained in his book Diplomacy how America had had no more loyal ally than Taiwan — and then coolly proceeded to detail how he intended to betray that faithful ally. Politicians elected on a commitment to marriage seem unfazed by breaking their vows and “evolving” on this vital matter.

The German word for such actions is Realpolitik. It stems from Chancellor Bismarck’s view that “treaties, like piecrusts, are made to be broken.” The English translation of Realpolitik is dishonor.

At London’s Royal Albert Hall recently, the Kaiser’s great-great Grandson, Prince Philip Kiril of Prussia, asked the crowd of British Christians attending an Alpha Course convention for forgiveness. In an emotional appeal, Prince Philip, a Lutheran pastor, asked his fellow Christians to pray for Germany. He expressed his profound regret that his famous ancestor, the Kaiser, had not been closer to Jesus, and stronger to resist his generals’ pull to war.

We can certainly all join in prayer for a revival of Christian faith in all the nations that one hundred years ago this day were drawn into that hellish maelstrom of dcath and destruction we know as World War I. The true cause of that war is that men had forgotten God.

Conservatism’s Good - and Under-reported Ideas

by Rob Schwarzwalder

July 24, 2014

House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) today unveiled a plan designed to “expand (economic) opportunity in America—to deliver real change, real solutions, and real results” (http://paulryan.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=389081#.U9FlzkCuo7k).

It is likely there are proposals and assumptions in Ryan’s plan with which I agree, and others with which I do not. What has caught my attention is the way some of the media are covering his remarks. Here are some examples:

Ryan’s plan is substantive, far-reaching, and clear. It has much to commend it. Let’s also grant for the sake of argument that in addition to wanting to offer proposals that offer real hope, Ryan wants to dispel some of the stereotypes about Republicans not caring for the poor. That’s perfectly understandable and politically valid.

Yet with that said, why should he or anyone have to dispel a notion that is, itself, patently false?

Conservatives have long offered myriad proposals to help address issues of economic opportunity, educational failure, family collapse, and the struggles of millions of Americans wrestling with at-best modest incomes and dwindling hopes.

Yet the standard media narrative – heartless conservatives who pine for “orgiastic tax-cutting, the slashing of government programs, the championing of Wall Street” (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/06/magazine/can-the-gop-be-a-party-of-ideas.html) – clings to the conservative movement like plastic wrap.

Why? Simply because so many in the “mainstream” media repeat it so often and, concurrently, so seldom report on the many ideas conservatives have generated that are designed to address intransigent social and economic problems. This is maddening, even if predictable, and also one of the principal reasons conservatives now operate their own print and electronic media outlets and networks.

Of course, sometimes a conservative spokesman will say something untoward or excessive. Pick a politician, Left or Right, who sometimes says things not almost immediately regretted. Do such offensive but incidental comments characterize entire movements, whole patterns of philosophy and ideas? No. Yet much too often, conservatives are portrayed as the purveyors of greed and callousness because of the few stupid statements of a few people.

Economic indicators cannot measure the values held by our children, or the suffering felt by broken families,” according to my old boss, U.S. Senator Dan Coats (R-IN). “We have discovered that our growing GNP also includes massive prison construction to house a lost generation, drug counseling in elementary schools, suicide hotlines, teen pregnancy centers, and clinics for battered children” (https://wikis.engrade.com/morality1/morality4).

The Senator said this in a speech in 1991. Since then, at least two things haven’t changed: The media’s general stereotyping of conservatives as heartless materialists, and their failure to report conservative ideas about how best to help our fellow citizens in need.

To death and taxes, perhaps media disinterest in conservative proposals should be added as an inevitability. This is not excuse for conservatives not to “stay in there pitching,” but a reminder that the next time you’re tempted to ask, “Why don’t conservatives say something about (pick your issue)?,” in all likelihood they already have.

New Video: Meriam Ibrahim Freed: Religious Freedom Activists Play Crucial Role

by FRC Media Office

July 24, 2014

Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins expressed deep gratitude and relief early this morning after learning that Meriam Ibrahim and her family arrived in Italy.


Meriam is a Sudanese Christian, married to a U.S. citizen, who was sentenced to death by a Sudan court for the “crime” of converting from Islam, and 100 lashes for “adultery.” Meriam spent months in a notoriously rank Sudanese prison with her 21-month-old son and her newborn daughter. More than 53,000 people signed a WhiteHouse.gov petition launched by FRC asking President Obama to grant her expedited safe haven in the United States. Yesterday, Perkins testified before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations regarding her case.

FRC’s Tony Perkins Urges for Meriam Ibrahim’s Release before House Subcommittee

by FRC Media Office

July 23, 2014

Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins testified today before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations regarding the case of Meriam Ibrahim.  You can read the testimony here.

Nearly 53,000 people signed a WhiteHouse.gov petition launched by FRC asking President Obama to grant her expedited safe haven in the United States.

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