Month Archives: July 2012

Melinda Gates and ‘No Controversy’

by Family Research Council

July 31, 2012

The Gates Foundation recently established a web site, No Controversy, whose purpose is to establish the idea that contraceptive use and the idea of the right to contraceptive use is completely noncontroversial. The sites home page is covered in testimonials:

The life in a metropolitan city can be at times very hectic and uncertain. In the midst of work related and personal projects, a long term relationship can be the decisive factor in balancing out your life. An unplanned pregnancy is for my generation a disruptive element in ones development. I am grateful for contraceptives and consider them one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century. @Vlad G. (Austria)

I remember myself saying at age 16: I’ll get a child with 35 or maybe not at all, but not earlier. Till about 32 I did not want to have children at all. The feeling was, they would ruin my life and steal my youth. Until then I could travel the world, experience everything I loved to do and attend school & university. When I was 33 I met my partner, with 35 my son was born. He’s the sun of my life, my heart, my most precious and now I’m even thinking to get a second one. Contraception is about LOVE, about saying YES I want this lovely child & I’m ready to give birth NOW. @Marijana (Germany)

Becoming pregnant, by this thinking, is not the natural consequence and ultimate purpose of intimacy between two people committed to one another in marriage. Becoming pregnant before you have experienced, seen and learned everything you wish is a disruption, an annoyance, a violation of the perceived right to be physically intimate with anyone, at any time, without consequences. And along the way, somehow, an entire generation has been encouraged to dream of everything everything but marriage and parenthood.

This is not to say that everyone must have or want children. The natural and wise desire to delay childbearing until one is prepared to parent well is not a problem; the problem at hand is that the proposed method of achieving this is not behavior modification, but drugs, whose implications for both mens and womens health are as yet uncertain.

As Tom Hoopes at the National Catholic Register says in his piece, Melinda Gates and the Contraceptive Imperialists, too often those who consider contraception to be the solution for the problems of impoverished nations have no option for those who desire to both have a family and to maintain a basic standard of living.

In other words, the best way to help poor people feed children is to eliminate them in the first place so they wont have to be fed. And the cheapest way to take care of them is to not have to take care of them.

Compare that to a basic Catholic statement about service to the poor, from the Catechism (2439): Rich nations have a grave moral responsibility toward those which are unable to ensure the means of their development by themselves or have been prevented from doing so by tragic historical events.

The Church believes that rich nations should increase the availability of resources to the poor. Family planners believe that rich nations should reduce the number of human beings using resources.

If they dont want to read the Catholic Catechism, perhaps the Gates Foundation folks should read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Ebenezer Scrooge had exactly their answer to poverty: Decrease the surplus population.

The Ghost of Christmas Present put him in his place: It may be that in the sight of heaven you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor mans child. Oh God! To hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust!

Melinda Gates has focused her efforts on providing women in developing countries with contraception. With the crushing lack of health infrastructure and educational and economic opportunity in the developing world, this is a poor use of funds that directed differently could do great good. The argument that women require contraceptives that may damage their health to control their fertility is false. The argument that suppressing ones fertility artificially as opposed to simply modifying ones behavior is the only way to ensure that girls around the world can realize their potential is false. The needs of women in developing countries vary, but as this response from Human Life International, Facts for Melinda Gates, says surely the funding provided by the Gates Foundation would be better spent on any number of projects: on providing girls with primary and secondary and tertiary education, or on microfinance loans for women with great business ideas, or on building hospitals. There is truly no controversy surrounding such investments. Surely such investments would do more to shrink the opportunity gender gap and create a culture of respect for girls and women around the world.

Just Say No: Why Abstinence Is the Way to Go

by Family Research Council

July 30, 2012

On July 6, 2012, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce released a pro-abstinence staff report called A Better Approach to Teenage Pregnancy Prevention: Sexual Risk Avoidance. This report details how Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA), abstinence, truly lowers the rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unintended teenage pregnancies as opposed to comprehensive sex education (CSE), which only focuses on reducing these risks. Truthfully, SRA paves the way for healthy teen development, because it is based on adolescent behavioral theory, relies upon effectual techniques of public health prevention programs, emphasizes the importance of parental guidance and support, and teaches personal skills teens need to avoid dangerous sexual risks. In the end, the report successfully drives home a pro-abstinence message by concluding with 22 peer-reviewed studies that demonstrate that teens have benefitted from SRA programs. To advance these efforts, the Abstinence Education Reallocation Act is seeking to promote abstinence by appropriating $15 million more for abstinence education programs and $80 million less for President Obamas Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program.

Todays push for abstinence education truly reflects how taxpayer-funded comprehensive sex education has devastated our society. Based on the idea that teens are predisposed to have premarital sex, CSE motivates teens to make decisions about sexual behavior without parental guidance and to use contraception and condoms. Although CSE does discuss abstinence, it more so emphasizes safe-sex practices. Instead of encouraging teens to avoid the risks associated with premarital sex, it encourages them to become promiscuous and increase their chance of getting STIs. While Americans have become aware of these demoralizing effects, the Obama administration has been heavily promoting CSE through programs like Teenage Pregnancy Prevention, the Personal Responsibility Education Program, the Pregnancy Assistance Fund, and Aban Ava Youth Program. For example, the Obama administration demanded for the Aban Ava Youth Program, CSE geared towards African-American children, to be replicated, even though it had large shortcomings after it was implemented.

Because sex education has had such devastating consequences on our society, more young Americans have realized that abstinence is the way to go. In fact, a CDC survey released last year shows that 75% of American 15-17 year olds are abstaining from premarital sex. Thus, this recent pro-abstinence congressional report could not have been released at a better time than now. In support of the parent-child relationship, this report promotes federal policy as a means of helping parents inform their kids about the dangers of risky sexual behavior. Although both the report and the Abstinence Education Reallocation Act are a step in the right direction, we must always remember that more government appropriations cannot solve our societal problems. Instead, parents need to step up and educate their children about the risks of sexual promiscuity and the benefits of abstinence. A resurgence of stronger American families, rather than continuous government intervention, will truly counteract premarital sex as a societal norm.

The Truth about Morning-After Pills

by Family Research Council

July 30, 2012

On June 5, 2012, New York Times writer Pam Belluck wrote an article called Abortion Qualms on Morning-After Pill May Be Unfounded. In her article, Belluck mistakenly lumps Plan B and ellatwo very different drugstogether, ignorantly proclaims that these drugs do not prevent implantation, and does not account for ellas abortion-inducing actions. Unsurprisingly, Belluck claims that the pro-life view of morning-after pills is probably rooted in outdated or incorrect scientific guesses about how [they] work. As she presents her devoid argument, Belluck argues that no studies have confirmed that emergency contraceptive pills prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the womb and that these pills only delay ovulation. She heavily refers to a New York Times review, along with scientists and experts she forgets to cite, to support her view that Plan B does not prevent implantation and that the one-shot dose in morning-after pills does not have time to affect the uterine lining.

Disheartened by Bellucks reporting? Luckily, several renowned pro-life advocates have written articles against Bellucks dishonest claims:

Donna Harrison, The Timess Convolution of Facts on Abortifacients

Gerard Nadal, Responding to the New York Times on Morning After Pills: A Factual Recalibration (Part I)

Jeanne Monahan, Emergency Contraception: We need an unbiased review of the facts

Richard Doerflinger, Letter in Response to NY Times Article of June 6, 2012

Marie T. Hilliard, Are Journalists Now Scientists? A Reporter Loses Sight of Data on Plan B

FRC Keeps Up the Fight Against Pornography

by Rob Schwarzwalder

July 30, 2012

Last week, the New York Times ran a disturbing article on the growing phenomenon of the public viewing of pornography. The final sentence should stop each of us in our tracks: Dawn Hawkins of Morality in Media, who protested recently when a man watched graphic pornography on his laptop during a plane flight, reports, “People said, Just look away, she recalled. Their argument is that people can do what they want. This is America.

When liberty becomes license, the bets are off for a healthy country and functioning self-government. If we lack virtue, personal moral self-restraint and respect for other persons, then disorder and dysfunction follow as day follows night. These, if unchecked, lead inevitably to anarchy and danger, which result in a call for order at any cost. If the rise of Adolph Hitler subsequent to the decadent Weimar Republic has anything to teach us, this is one of its surest lessons.

Two years ago, Hoover Institution scholar Mary Eberstadt wrote a superb piece for First Things called, “The Weight of Smut.” In clear prose, she documented how pornography has profound and demonstrably harmful affects on marriage, families, and human well-being. It is a painful read because of what it tells us about the society in which we live and in which our children are being raised, but it nonetheless is an indispensable summary of the evils of what someone once called “sex without persons.”

Over the past two years, pornography has continued, termite-like, to erode the foundations of human dignity and family security. That’s why Family Research Council continues to partner with like-minded organizations to combat the growth of pornography online, on television, and other media. FRC offers a number of useful resources to assist your church or ministry, and you as an individual, fight electronic and visual filth. Included are these:

** “The Effects of Pornography on Individuals, Marriage, Family, and Community,” by Dr. Pat Fagan

** A recent interview by FRC President Tony Perkins with Pat Trueman, the former head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and now President of Morality in Media, on the proposal to expand domains for pornography websites.

** A Webcast shown last year titled, “Sex Trafficking in America: From the Boulevard to Planned Parenthood.”

Visit our website to see the full list of FRC resources and prayerfully consider how you might join in the effort to diminish pornography’s grip on our culture.

Honoring His Excellency, I Get Plastered

by Robert Morrison

July 28, 2012

No, no, I didn’t stop off at George Washington’s distillery—a mile down the road from Mount Vernon. And I didn’t linger over his long dining table for after dinner Madeira. It would have been an honor to do so, however. I wanted to honor the memory of His Excellency in my own way. So I got plastered. This week, I had a life mask done.

George Washington famously submitted to having a life mask done. His Excellency had only recently retired to Mount Vernon, having resigned his commission to Congress. In 1785, the Virginia General Assembly wanted a true likeness of Virginia’s favorite son. They turned to America’s new minister to France, the young Virginian Thomas Jefferson. Mr. Jefferson responded promptly: “There could be no question raised as to the sculptor who should be employed; the reputation of Monsieur Houdon of this city being unrivalled in Europe.”

Washington would have been enthusiastically received in France. But he had a keen sense of his own role and dignity. He would have felt out of place where he could not understand a word of the language. So Jean Antoine Houdon would come to America. So great was George Washington’s reputation in Europe that the greatest sculptor in the world fairly leaped at the chance. Besides, if you have to cross the stormy North Atlantic, who better to go with than Benjamin Franklin? The aging genius was returning from France and his wild success as America’s first minister there.

Arriving in Philadelphia with Franklin, Houdon got a letter from Mount Vernon bidding him to come straightaway. Washington evidently liked the fact that Houdon was all business. Jefferson had described the Frenchman as “panting after glory.” [George Washington: Patriot and President, vol. VI, Douglas Southall Freeman, p. 42] Biographer Freeman records that “Houdon looked, Houdon listened as best he could—and Houdon worked.”

We can all be glad that he did. The Houdon bust is the best likeness of our Founding Father that we will ever have. And the Houdon statue of Washington, which is a full length version of the bust, is a most meaningful symbol of the early republic. Author Gary Wills notes that Washington, like the classic Roman general, Cincinnatus, is shown draping his military cape over a column. His sword, likewise, is retired to its scabbard as Washington steps out with a very civilian walking stick. Here, Washington returns to his status as a gentleman farmer.

This is a better likeness of America’s “indispensable man” than the familiar Gilbert Stuart portrait. Stuart was a chatty fellow who liked to put his subjects at ease with a lot of gossipy talk. Washington was not a stiff, but the Stuart portrait makes him seem so.

Biographer James Thomas Flexner, who was also a leading American art historian, wrote that no one had done more harm to Washington’s historical image than Gilbert Stuart. First Lady Dolley Madison would save the full length Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington when the British came to burn the White House in 1814. There are times, however, when I wish she hadn’t.

Flexner says the “snaffle-mouthed” Stuart portrait of Washington unfairly emphasizes the older man’s ill-fitting dentures. He gazes down on us with a somewhat disapproving air.

Houdon left Mount Vernon and returned to Paris. When the statue of Washington was finished, he didn’t even send a letter describing it, or, as Freeman notes, did he ask if Washington liked it. “Houdon let the marble speak for itself. It did.”

My Annapolis friends, Tom and Ann Stagnaro, are both creative people. They volunteered to do a life mask of me. Tom’s carvings of birds and gargoyles are a marvel. And Ann is a connoisseur and collector of fine quilts. They first had me grease my face with vaseline. Then they sat me down on a chaise lounge in their kitchen. A rubber skull cap would keep plaster out of my hair. Straws up my nose would let me breathe. Or so I thought. I had come straight from the pool and was a bit congested.

I no sooner had my face and neck covered with alginate and felt it begin to harden than I had the sense of being encased, almost entombed. When Ann offered stories of grandchildren, I could only give her a thumbs up or down. I remained calm. “Only fifteen more minutes,” Tom said. Fifteen minutes! I didn’t want my visage preserved in a kind of rictus—an open-mouthed grimace.

Thanks to Houdon, we have timeless images not only of Washington, but also of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Paul Jones. The dashing naval hero Jones had twenty-three copies of his bust made to share with his best friends in America. It was this bust that searchers used to identify Jones’ body when it was exhumed from a Paris cemetery a full century after his death. His remains were brought home to America where they rest in the Crypt beneath the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel. Before we had DNA, we had Jean Antoine Houdon.

I’m most grateful to Tom and Ann for doing a life mask of me. And I told them they had solved another mystery about George Washington’s life and death. As he lay dying at Mount Vernon in December, 1799, Washington gave strict orders to the faithful Tobias Lear. Do not let me be put in the grave until three days after I am dead. Now I know why.

Fowl-Mouthed Mayor Emanuel Plays Chicken

by Robert Morrison

July 27, 2012

When he served in the Oval Office with President Obama, Rahm Emanuel had an earned reputation for being foul-mouthed. Many a White House correspondents dinner audience found themselves convulsed in laughter over bleeped-out quotes from President Obama’s then-Chief of Staff.

So, now he is Mayor of Chicago. And London’s Daily Mail has given us a not-at-all funny rundown of the Windy City’s tragic record for homicide. Since Rahm Emanuel became Hizzoner in the “city with big shoulders,” the number of shootings has gone way up:

240 People shot dead in Chicago this year

144 U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan this year

5,000 People shot dead in Chicago since 2001

2,000 Troops killed in Afghanistan since 2001

7 People shot dead in Chicago last weekend

35 People injured in shootings in Chicago last weekend

35 Percentage increase in homicides in Chicago since last year

4 Times more the number of homicides in Chicago compared to New York

Read more from The Daily Mail

Given this tragic toll, you would think the mayor would focus like a laser on protecting the citizenry from homicide. You would be wrong. This mayor, responsive to political correctness, has become even more fowl-mouthed. He’s mounting a spirited campaign against—chicken. He wants to protect Chicagoans from the menace of waffle fries.

He wants to ban Chick-fil-A. It’s certainly a lot safer to fight chicken than killers.

This is what we can expect in one-party towns. My kind of town, Chicago? Yes, but not for homicide. And not for mayors who play chicken.

The College Debt Story Gets Worse: Medical School Graduates

by Chris Gacek

July 24, 2012

And I thought things were bad for recent college grads with outstanding debt (average for undergrads about $25,000). Now comes a great article from the Seattle Times by Suzanne Monson about an ophthalmology resident, Dr. Sharel Ongchin. She appears to be a brilliant physician carrying $240,000 in debt with an interest rate of 4.9% — the annual interest payments alone would total $11,760. The article provides this important information:

… One recent study by the American Association of Medical Colleges shows that more than 86 percent of med-school graduates have debt; the average 2010 debt for newly graduated docs was $158,000.

In fact, the AAMC reports that the cost of private medical schools rose 165 percent while public med-school costs soared 312 percent over the past 20 years. Figures from the American Medical Association show that these costs far outpace the rate of inflation.

These are staggering facts. Specialists like Dr. Ongchin probably, as she does, have a higher level of indebtedness on average. When one considers the uncertainty that Obamacare has cast over the healthcare industry, one has to wonder who would be willing to assume this debt risk to attend med school and then work under government-mandated wage controls.

Real Needs, Real Compassion

by Rob Schwarzwalder

July 24, 2012

Recently, World Magazine founder Joel Belz asked readers these questions: “If you could identify just one issue that is terribly askew in our culture today, and then were granted as a gift from God the ability to set that one issue right, what would it be? What specific cultural victory, if we could win it, would provide the most leverage to produce a society that is closer to the cultural blueprint God has designed for us?”

Here is Joel’s analysis of the many comments sent to him, in order of the number of responses received:

1. The secularization of our society—led by the rejection of a Creator God and the dominance of evolutionary thinking.

2. Loss of the distinctive identities of men and women, leading to a loss of understanding of marriage and family.

3. Abortion.

4. Loss of the tools to educate and shape the rising generation.

5. Sense of entitlement, selfishness, and complacency.

6. Loss of a defined dominant culture, with attendant culture wars.

7. Loss of specific freedoms.

8. Loss of honest and civil public discourse.

9. Obsession with sex.

This list demonstrates the seriousness with which at least a part of the Evangelical community (which composes most of World‘s readership) takes the reality of cultural decay in our time. The good news is that many Evangelicals are involved in activities to bring the fragrance of Christ to our society and its politics. They know that pathologies and problems are more than statistics, lines on a chart or multi-colored graphs. They are composed of real people - men, women, and children with names and needs, hopes and hurts. From ultrasound vans to rescuing young people trapped in sexual slavery, Evangelicals are working - usually quietly, without fanfare or media attention - to show the love of their Savior with tangible compassion.

Evangelicals and Catholics are ministering in myriad ways to untold numbers of people throughout our society. FRC’s Real Compassion website provides links to both the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and Catholic Charities sites. In each of them, you can find creative and effective ministries - national, regional, and local - through which you can make a difference in combating the very things World’s readers rightly have discerned as crying needs.

Grieving for Aurora

by Rob Schwarzwalder

July 20, 2012

The existence of God, or rather, of a God Who is personal, sovereign, omniscient, and kind, is the only context in which any of us can make sense of the Colorado shootings.

Why He allowed these killings, why He has allowed and continues to allow so much suffering and violence in our world, remains a mystery. Yet He did, and does. And this is where faith, faith of a specific type, comes in.

It must not be a slushy faith in which platitudes and cliches substitute for hard truths. Nor can it be a severe faith, one that angrily tells us to accept what is and move on, unquestioningly. Such a faith induces not trust but the repression of the spirit, the hardening of the soul.

True, biblical faith reposes in the God Who claims to be intimate yet omnipotent, knowing the number of the hairs on our heads while keeping the inaccessible vastness of the universe in constant animation. He indwells those Who know His Son as their Savior, yet Scripture tells us that the world cannot contain Him.

Such a God is worthy of awe, not only because of His character and nature, but because He chooses not to disclose the how and why of things fully to us. We want explanations; He offers Himself, Who He is and what, in Christ, He has done for us. We can only bow humbly before One Who weaves uncounted and often invisible threads of life and movement and being so intricately, so finely, so mysteriously.

To bring it down to the grim, irreducible pain of the moment: The parents and loved ones of those murdered in Aurora need to know that Christ is with them in their pain, that His love can comfort only because it is real. We do not know the why; we need to know the Who. Let us pray that the families of the victims, the dozens of wounded, and the family of the gunman himself will find in Jesus, Who knew pain as no other, the hope that He alone can give.

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