February 25, 2016
FRC is proud to be allied with the National Center on Sexual Exploitation and a member of NCOSE’s Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation. The Coalition’s mission is “focused on bringing a variety of people together to solve and end the complex social issue of sexual exploitation and its associated companion – pornography.” We’re grateful to be part of this essential effort.
Today NCOSE announced its annual “Dirty Dozen” list of the companies that foster the intersection of “sex trafficking, violence against women, child abuse, addiction and other forms of exploitation.”
Thankfully, one of the companies listed, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, has now been removed from the Dirty Dozen list because “on February 10, 2016 (Starwood announced) that they officially changed their policies regarding their distribution of pornography on January 1, 2016 and that it will be removed from all 1,270 properties worldwide.”
Sadly, perhaps the most noteworthy member of the Dirty Dozen list is none other than the U.S. Department of Justice, which is on the list for the fourth year in a row. According to NCOSE, “Federal law prohibits distribution of obscene adult pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops, through the mail, and by common carrier. The U.S. Supreme Court has also repeatedly upheld obscenity laws against First Amendment challenges, explaining that obscenity is not protected speech. Even so, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) refuses to enforce existing federal obscenity laws. From the time Obama took office in 2008, no enforcement actions against illegal obscenity have been initiated by DOJ, and in 2011 former Attorney General Eric Holder dismantled the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force.”
Two former FRC interns, Dani Bianculli, J.D. and Haley Halverson, now serve at NCOSE as Executive Director of the Law Center and Director of Communications, respectively. We’re proud of the contributions Dani and Haley and NCOSE’s courageous CEO and President, Pat Trueman, have made and continue to make in defending women, children, and young men from the deviant exploitation that is at the center of the pornography and trafficking industries. We join with them in seeking to advance a culture where human dignity is protected by law and honored by our society and the businesses operating therein.
Be sure to watch the recent lecture by the Director of FRC’s Center for Human Dignity, Arina Grossu, on “The Link Between Pornography, Sex Trafficking, and Abortion” and read our Issue Analysis, “Daddy’s Girl: How Fatherlessness Impacts Early Sexual Activity, Teen Pregnancy, and Sexual Abuse.”
February 23, 2016
A 106 year-old black woman has made international news for her unguarded joy at meeting the President.
Virginia McLaurin, who was born during the administration of William Howard Taft, fulfilled a dream in meeting the nation’s first African-American chief executive.
“A black president,” she exclaimed, “and his black wife!” Mrs. McLaurin ran/danced as she saw the President and Mrs. Obama. The First Couple, moved and delighted, were most gracious to this dear woman.
As reported by a local NBC affiliate, “In her 104 years, Mrs. McLaurin worked as a housekeeper, nanny and seamstress. She first married at 14 and was widowed at 17.”
For the past 20 years, she has “been volunteering as a foster grandparent” to special needs children at Sharpe Health School in Washington, D.C.“‘I love the kids,’ she says. ‘You ought to hear them in the morning when I come in and they say, “Grandma! Grandma!” and I say, “I’m here, I’m here”.’”
In 2014, she wrote Mr. Obama, “I’ve never met a President. I didn’t think I would live to see a Colored President because I was born in the South and didn’t think it would happen. I am so happy and I would love to meet you and your family if I could. I remember the times before President Hoover. I remember when we didn’t have any electricity. I had a kerosene lamp. I remember the first car model Ford. My husband was in the Army. I lost my husband in 1941. I’ve been in DC ever since. I was living here when Martin Luther King was killed. I know you are a busy man, but I wish I could meet you. I could come to your house to make things easier. I pray to the Lord that I would be able to meet you one day.”
The Lord answered that prayer. And that points to something about this lovely woman that deserves particular mention: her deep Christian faith: “One of my secrets for longevity is reading the Bible and praying daily, loving Jesus Christ, and my fellow man. There’s no one that I don’t like; I love everybody.”
We can hope that Mrs. McLaurin continues to bring light and joy to many more people for years to come. And when the Lord calls her home, it’s delightful to think of her dancing into His presence, even as she did with the President and First Lady of the United States.
February 19, 2016
Jamie Hughes has written a tender but candid piece on adoption on the valuable Her.Meneutics website. With her husband, she has adopted two sons.
My wife and I also adopted sons, twin boys, when they were three months old. We had prayed for twins for 16 years and, in God’s remarkable kindness, got them, although not in the biological way we initially anticipated. Our boys are now 18 and our daughter, adopted when she was also an infant, turns 13 next month.
What is striking to me about Hughes’ article is that practically everything she describes concerning the adjustments of having young adopted children could be said about having young children, period. None of us knows if our children, biological or adopted, will have exceptional physical, mental, or emotional needs. No one with a small child is unaccustomed to sleepless nights, meal upon meal of packaged food, or disruptions that are frequent, often unnerving, and, in aggregate, wholly draining. Young children are the sworn enemies of efficiency, privacy, predictability, order, and quiet. Always have been, always will be, adopted or biological.
The point of what I’m writing is that nothing Hughes mentions is unique to adoptive parents except, perhaps, various types of attachment disorder in some children and the occasional untoward comment from a tactless observer (“Are they yours?”). For example, as Hughes notes, “There are … holes in the boys’ childhoods, in my understanding of them and how they work, even in their medical histories.” That’s true — but it’s also true for all parents, to one degree or another. Both of my grandfathers died before I was born. I’ve never seen anything about their medical histories and know them only through a handful of anecdotes. I knew my grandmothers barely before each of them died. My many aunts and uncles and some cousins have passed away from a host of causes.
In other words, children provide no guarantees concerning their health, intellectual capacities, motor skills, perception challenges, or any of a host of other things. Adoptive or biological, our children come suddenly into our lives and unmask our selfishness, our self-preoccupation, and our previously unknown resilience in the face of sleep-deprivation and emotional wornness. They awaken in us a fierce love and loyalty that can be arresting in its intensity. They are fallen and finite, filling our lives with joy, grief, regret, and gratitude. They are human, and they are ours.
Jamie Hughes is a lovely Christian woman whose account of her experience with her kids is beautiful. But her experiences are common to all parents, to all mothers and fathers who can hug a child and say, inwardly and with unspeakable contentment, “Mine.”
Travis Weber, J.D., LL.M.
February 19, 2016
In yesterday’s opinion in EWTN v. Burwell, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals caused double the damage by rejecting a clear religious liberty claim and trying to save the HHS contraception mandate at the same time. This is not the court’s job. It was supposed to objectively analyze a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) claim, which it not only rejected in an attempt to set religious liberty back in time, but then jumped through hoops to justify the government’s contraception and abortion-related services scheme which wasn’t even passed by Congress and instead was imposed by executive fiat.
In its opinion, the 11th Circuit recognized:
“We accept that the plaintiffs truly believe that triggering contraceptive coverage or being complicit in a system providing contraceptive coverage violates their religious beliefs.”
However, the court then amazingly concluded:
“But our objective inquiry leads us to conclude that the government has not put plaintiffs to the choice of violating their religious beliefs or facing a significant penalty. We hold there is no substantial burden.”
The court now looks foolish. It already admitted religious liberty was violated in this case, and is now left trying to claim there is no “significant penalty” when the government threatens religious actors with thousands of dollars in fines if they don’t violate their consciences.
The court continues:
“The ACA and the HRSA guidelines—not the opt out—are … the “linchpins” of the contraceptive mandate because they entitle women who are plan participants and beneficiaries covered by group health insurance plans to contraceptive coverage without cost sharing. In other words, women are entitled to contraceptive coverage regardless of their employers’ action (or lack of action) with respect to seeking an accommodation.”
If this is so true, why the need to involve EWTN in this scheme? Why not just provide the coverage directly? The government seems to need (or want) EWTN and others to be involved themselves.
In sum, the court acknowledged that the HHS contraception mandate “accommodation” forces EWTN to violate its religious beliefs or pay government penalties, but still found no substantial burden on religious freedom. This is nonsense. Surrendering your religious beliefs in order to avoid government penalties is the definition of “substantial burden” if there ever was one. Hopefully the Supreme Court will get these cases right when it considers them in the next few months, and settle once and for all that the government is substantially burdening religious exercise by threatening thousands of dollars in fines against religious actors if they don’t violate their consciences, and has no need to even involve them at all in providing drugs and services they believe cause abortions, but can leave religious groups out of the process entirely as it already does for other types of organizations.
February 8, 2016
In a speech at a Baltimore mosque last week, President Obama said, “We’re all born equal, with inherent dignity.”
He’s right. But his chronology is inadequate.
Our Declaration of Independence says we are “created equal.” That’s an important piece of phrasing in that it accurately represents the true origin of our humanity. Our Creator, from the moment of our conception, bestows on us His image and likeness. From that fraction of time on, we are persons. All the DNA that composes our beings is there at the union of the sperm and egg. As my colleague Cathy Ruse and I wrote a few years ago, “the scientific evidence is quite plain: at the moment of fusion of human sperm and egg, a new entity comes into existence which is distinctly human, alive, and an individual organism — a living, and fully human, being.”
Throughout his time in elective office, in the Illinois and U.S. Senates and now as President, Mr. Obama has been a consistent and strident proponent of unrestricted access to abortion-on-demand. His health care plan subsidizes it. He is suing in federal court to demand that everyone from faith-based colleges to an order of Catholic nuns provide contraception to their employees. He wants birth control with potentially abortifacient action made widely available. It is thus difficult not to see his assertion of our being born with inherent dignity as a turn of phrase calculated deliberately to avoid dealing with the humanness of the unborn child.
We are created with dignity from the moment when our humanness starts. That’s called conception. It takes place in the womb. No clever phrasing can ever diminish what the conscience cannot deny and science cannot but confirm: That life within the womb isn’t some collection of tissue and blood — he or she is a baby who should be protected by law and welcomed into life.
February 8, 2016
The nation has seen a 12 percent decline in abortions, according to a recent study published in the Associated Press. Improvements in pro-life attitudes are reflected in these encouraging statistics and show the rising popularity of alternatives to abortion among millennials.
The study shows the decline is nearly equal in both the most pro-life and pro-choice states.
The decline in the least pro-life states:
Vermont – Down 9%
New York – Down 15%
Connecticut – Down 21%
New Jersey – Does not collect abortion data
Montana – Down 18%
Washington – Down 17%
Oregon – Down 18%
Nevada – Down 22%
California – Does not collect abortion data
Hawaii – Down 30%
The decline in the most pro-life states:
North Dakota – Down 8%
Nebraska – Down 8%
Kansas – Down 13%
Missouri – Down 18%
Indiana – Down 20%
Oklahoma – Down 19%
Arkansas – Down 6%
Texas – Down 12%
Mississippi – Down 6%
Louisiana – Up 12%
This summer, in an article for the Boston Globe entitled American Millennials Rethink Abortion, For Good Reasons, author Jeff Jacoby explained some of the reasoning behind these trends. One factor is “an empathy-driven reaction” that views abortion negatively because of improvements in medical technology such as vivid ultrasound images, which humanize the issue of abortion.
Additionally, improvements in neonatal medicine have changed what constitutes a viable unborn baby. Jacoby explains that because of medical advances, babies born extremely prematurely are able to “survive and flourish,” whereas a generation ago survival might not have been possible.
Jacoby relates a statistic that may be surprising to many. Of all age groups, young adults are now the most likely to think abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. That position connotes a very strong negative opinion of abortion that the majority of millennials share.
According to Students for Life of America, the Marist poll data shows that 59 percent think abortion is “morally wrong”; 58 percent think abortion “does more harm than good”; and 64 percent think the abortion rate is “higher than it should be.” In previous generations, those under the age of 30 were the most vocal proponents of abortion.
On a more personal level, today’s millennials have friends and family members who regret denying their children the chance at life. The Silent No More campaign calls this the Shockwaves of Abortion and has dedicated each month to the healing of various people who have been affected by abortion including the parents, grandparents, siblings, abortion providers, and others. Millennials may also be more hesitant to think about abortion positively simply because they have survived Roe v. Wade. Regardless of the motivations, the increasing support for the protection of the unborn and their right to life is a most encouraging trend.
Joshua Denton is a senior in college and works with the Indiana Family Institute in Indianapolis. Follow Joshua Denton on Twitter @1776Josh.