Month Archives: November 2008

Think You’re Smarter Than a College Kid?

by Brittany Smith

November 20, 2008

Today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) released a new study that found most Americans to be civically illiterate.

The study was conducted by giving a random sampling of more than 2500 people a 33 question test on civic literacy. Questions ranged from knowledge about the Declaration of Independence to the economy. The result of the test was that more than 1,700 people failed. The average score overall was 49 percent, which equals an “F” on the ISI scale.

Another disturbing finding of the study was that twice as many people know that Paula Abdul was a judge on American idol than they know that the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” comes from the Gettysburg Address.

Many of the people polled by ISI believe that colleges should be in charge of teaching America’s heritage and history. This includes 73 percent of people in the West, 69 percent in the Midwest, 74 percent in the Northeast and 74 percent in the South. Yet even with this high expectation from the general public many of these institutions are failing to do so. The results show that the average score for college graduates who took this civic literacy exam was 57 percent. Once again, an F on the ISI scale.

Chairman of ISI’s National Civic Literacy Board, Josiah Bunting, III, said of these results; “There is an epidemic of economic, political, and historical ignorance in our country.”

So what do we do with these results? ISI is calling on elected officials, trustees, taxpayers, parents and college administrations to start reevaluating college curricula and looking at new standard of accountability. They are asking, “Do colleges require courses in American history, politics, economics and other core areas?”

David Brooks, columnist for The New York Times and a speaker for the event, said that a knowledge of American history is beginning to be left behind by liberals and conservatives alike. He went on the say that “human beings want stories and history provides that.”

For more on the study and an opportunity to test your own historical knowledge go to or visit ISI’s website at

FRC brief in Irish abortion case

by Bill Saunders

November 18, 2008

Last week, FRC filed a friend of the court brief in a case before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The ECHR is considering a challenge to Ireland’s laws on abortion, which restrict access to abortion unless the woman’s life is in danger. FRC was one of 3 groups invited to file an unusual “joint” brief by the ECHR, and the only pro-life group in the USA invited to do so. (The others were SPUC of the United Kingdom and the European Center for Law & Justice from Brussels.)

The case is important because the European system of jurisprudence is quite limited when it comes to social issues. In other words, though there is a European Convention of Human Rights that binds all European nations that have ratified it (including Ireland), the resolution of “social issues” is left to the laws of the individual state to decide. Thus, it should not be possible for the ECHR to create a European-wide “right” to abortion.

Of course, the U.S. Supreme Court created a right to abortion where none existed under our Constitution. Thus, just as our Court ignored the wording of the Constitution and principles of federalism to overturn the laws of all 50 states on abortion, it is conceivable the ECHR could do the same thing. In fact, pro-abortion groups have filed briefs urging it to do so. Thus, it was important for FRC - in alliance with our good friends of the Alliance Defense Fund - to file a brief urging the ECHR to stay out of these matters and to leave the resolution of the issue to the member states. Click here for the brief itself.

The Hunt for Red Beluga

by Michael Fragoso

November 13, 2008

In a case that resembled a mix between a Tom Clancy novel and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Navy can use its active sonar when conducting drills and fleet operations off the California coast.  Environmental groups had argued that active sonar pinging could be harmful to marine mammals, and thus ought not to be permitted.  The Navy countered that such fleet operations are necessary to keep our forces up to snuff in their sub-hunting abilities in the event of a naval war. 

The short of it is that an environmental group, the Natural Resources Defense Council, sued the Navy arguing that they failed to issue an environmental impact report for their exercises in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  A district court judge saw things the same way, and the Navy agreed to issue the report, but chafed at the sonar-use restrictions placed upon them by the court.  President Bush stepped in, directing that the Navy be exempt in this case from the NEPA because these sub-hunting exercises are necessary for national security in time of war.  Unsurprisingly, the liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed and upheld the lower ruling, resulting in yesterday’s Supreme Court decision, which had a comfortable 6-3 margin.

Some readers might recognize this case from the Court Jesters segment at our Values Voters Summit back in September.  (Phyllis Schlafly wrote a poem about it.)  It’s very refreshing to see that-at least for now-we have a Supreme Court willing to correct the silliness of activist judges.

Thugocracy Watch: California Screamin’: Intolerance Towards Others Is Outed on the Left

by Family Research Council

November 10, 2008

There is an irony in the taunts thrown at Christians that they are “intolerant” and “bigoted.” Throughout history it has been Christians and others of strong religious faith who have spoken out and fought for those who are truly oppressed. Most notably the abolition of slavery was led by Christians like William Wilberforce in England and Thomas Jefferson Randolph, grandson of Thomas Jefferson, in the United States. And of course the civil rights movement of the 1960’s found its leader in the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.

However it is Christians and African-Americans who are being attacked, alongside Mormons, because of the leadership and support they gave the successful push for a marriage amendment in California’s state constitution. Tony spoke on some of the despicable discrimination reigning down on Mormons last week. Over the weekends homosexual activists have been harassing church goers and also African-Americans (presumably because of the large number of African-Americans in California who voted for the Amendment.) At one anti-opposite-sex marriage protest in Los Angeles homosexuals hurled racial epitaphs and threatening violence towards African-Americans who support gay “marriage.” (WARNING: some innapropriate ads on that link)

In a different situation an elderly woman carrying a cross was attacked by homosexual activists and her cross was taken from her and stomped upon (see the end of this video here.) In certain areas of California churches are reporting vandalism and/or protestors seeking to stop worshippers from entering the church.

If pro-marriage supporters used racial slurs and held such violent protests they would be rightfully condemned by the national media and politicians So far there has not been a peep in the national news on these incidents - and as for politicians, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger told the homosexual protestors “(t)hey should never give up. They should be on it and on it until they get it done.” And that he hopes the courts will once again overrule the will of the people.

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