Month Archives: December 2018

The Postal Service Stamps Out the Christmas Spirit

by Alexandra McPhee

December 26, 2018

Tavia Hunt was just trying to get into the holiday spirit when she decided to request through a private vendor a customized stamp with a family photo (above). Unbeknownst to Hunt, she made the mistake of choosing a picture of her family posing in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, Russia.

Hunt’s request was denied. She was told that the photo was a violation of a United States Postal Service (USPS) regulation that prohibits “content that is unsuitable for all-ages audiences, including . . . [a]ny depiction of political, religious, violent or sexual content.” The cathedral, apparently, was too religious.

According to USPS, it aims to “to limit content to family-friendly images or text that would not cause concern among mainstream, multi-generational users of the mail.”

It’s a bizarre state of affairs when even arguably religious content is considered as unsuitable as violent or sexual content or as cause for “concern.” First Liberty Institute, which has filed a demand letter on behalf of Hunt, pointed out the irony that St. Basil’s Cathedral “was secularized and converted into a museum decades ago.”

First Liberty rightly called out the USPS and said:

If the USPS insists that Tavia’s family photo in front of a historic cathedral contains religious content in violation of the USPS guidelines, then the guidelines raise significant First Amendment concerns that may require further legal action.

USPS has said the regulation prohibits any religious content to avoid “delegat[ing] unduly fine-grained distinctions to providers and increas[ing] First Amendment and [USPS] liability.”

Well, so much for that. The overbroad prohibition has created exactly the scenario USPS sought to avoid. Yet again, government treats religion as a leper, and now citizens are shut out from even being in the same picture with a cathedral if they want to appear on a stamp for their family Christmas card.

Is Anyone Surprised that Planned Parenthood Treats its Pregnant Employees Terribly?

by Patrina Mosley

December 21, 2018

Planned Parenthood is discriminating against pregnant women. Honestly, we already knew this to be true as Planned Parenthood commits over a third of the nation’s abortions. But the New York Times has uncovered that the hailed “champion of women” has been discriminating against their own female workers for being pregnant!

Managers have discriminated against pregnant women and new mothers, according to interviews with the current and former Planned Parenthood employees and with organizers from the Office and Professional Employees International Union, which represents some Planned Parenthood workers.

If this was fake news it would be the ultimate satire, but unfortunately, it does not appear that way. The new Planned Parenthood President, Dr. Leana Wen, has stated that “we must do better than we are now.” Here are just a few allegations from the report:

Tracy Webber, the former director of clinical services in White Plains, sued the organization for pregnancy discrimination in 2009, saying she had been fired four weeks after giving birth. Planned Parenthood settled for undisclosed terms.

In Miami, one current and two former employees said that women at a Planned Parenthood office were scared to tell managers they were pregnant. One of them said that, in conversations with supervisors, colleagues would often volunteer that they were not planning on having children or were gay or single.

[At a Planned Parenthood in California] supervisors openly debated whether candidates were likely to get pregnant in the near future and preferred those who were not … (Under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, it is illegal to consider whether a job candidate is or will become pregnant.)

In New York, Ta’Lisa Hairston was refused breaks and bedrest: “‘I had to hold back tears talking to pregnant women, telling them to take care of their pregnancies when I couldn’t take care of mine,’ she said. ‘It made me jealous.’”

Planned Parenthood “managers in some locations declined to hire pregnant job candidates, refused requests by expecting mothers to take breaks and in some cases pushed them out of their jobs after they gave birth, according to current and former employees in California, Texas, North Carolina and New York.”

You can find hypocrisy and injustices in any organization made up of people. However, when you have shown a pattern of disregard for the law and women’s safety as Planned Parenthood has, it’s highly suspect to lay claim to being “pro-woman” and deem yourself as a haven for “Care. No matter what.” Their habitual scandals make it obvious that they are in the business of profit, no matter what.

Failing to Report Statutory Rape and Sex Abuse

  • There are several recorded examples of Planned Parenthood supplying abortions to victims of sexual abuse and trafficking despite state mandatory reporting laws that make Planned Parenthood personnel mandatory reporters in most states. Planned Parenthood facilities in Arizona, Indiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Wisconsin, and Kentucky were willing to cover up sexual abuse.
  • In Fairbanks v. Planned Parenthood, Planned Parenthood was sued for refusing to report a 16-year-old girl’s abuse after she informed them that she was impregnated by her father who was sexually molesting her.

Willing to Aid and Abet Sex Trafficking

  • In a 2011 investigation, Live Action found that Planned Parenthood was willing and able to aid sex traffickers who were trafficking girls as young as 13 as part of a sex-slave ring. Their investigations exposed multiple Planned Parenthood facilities across New York, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
  • A report on sex trafficking survivors showed that over a quarter had visited a Planned Parenthood facility while being trafficked. One victim said that they went to Planned Parenthood because “they didn’t ask any questions.”

Performing Services that it Knows Are Dangerous and Low-Quality

  • One of the most egregious examples of this is a Planned Parenthood in St. Louis, which has had several instances where witnesses have seen ambulances transporting women out of their facility on multiple occasions year after year. This same St. Louis Planned Parenthood facility had several deficiencies and health violations cited during an inspection by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
  • Cree Erwin died after receiving an abortion at a Kalamazoo, Mich. Planned Parenthood facility.
  • Despite widely reported dangers and adverse events reported by the FDA, Planned Parenthood continues to tell women that “the abortion pill is safe.” The FDA reported 1,445 more cases of adverse events from the abortion pill from 2012 to 2017.

These are just a few examples that show the irony in Planned Parenthood’s “pro-woman” reputation; more can be found in our publication, “Planned Parenthood is Not Pro-Woman.” All this is notwithstanding their participation in the sale of aborted baby parts, Medicaid fraud, supporting sexual exploitation as sex work, and the organization’s eugenic roots.

The New York Times report further noted that “A dozen lawsuits filed against Planned Parenthood clinics in federal and state courts since 2013 accused managers of denying workers rest periods, lunch breaks or overtime pay, or retaliating against them for taking medical leave.”

PPFA President Wen said the organization is investigating the allegations of pregnancy discrimination and is conducting a review to determine the cost of providing paid maternity leave to its employees nationwide.

Seattle Planned Parenthood Manager Christine Charbonneau wasn’t pleased with the scrutiny. “It is easy to accuse someone of hypocrisy if you’re not the one trying to find $2 million out of thin air,” she said. “You try to be the Planned Parenthood that donors expect, and yet it is unattainable.”

It is interesting she should say that. While Planned Parenthood holds non-profit status, its total revenue for 2016-2017 was about $1.459 billion, the highest in its history. In 2016-2017, Planned Parenthood reported an excess of revenue over expenses of nearly $100 million.

When Planned Parenthood heard about the coverup of child sexual abuse at several of its affiliates, the organization swore to retrain its staff. Yet when Ramona Trevino, a former Planned Parenthood manager, asked how to better comply with mandatory reporting laws, her concerns were dismissed:

[I] went in really believing that Planned Parenthood could redeem themselves. They’re going to prove that they really do care about women and this is something that really concerns them. [The trainer] immediately shot me down and she said, ‘We’re not here to talk about that, Ramona. We’re here to teach you how to identify if you’re being videotaped or recorded or entrapped in any way.

Planned Parenthood’s treatment of pregnant women in the workplace is no doubt rooted in the fear that their obvious advertisement of life seen in their own employees might change the minds of their pregnant customers, which would take away profits to be had from these vulnerable women.

While Planned Parenthood has shown a keen interest in disregarding pregnant employees, they have always taken a special interest in targeting minority neighborhoods. Nearly 80 percent of Planned Parenthood facilities are within walking distance of black and Hispanic communities. In a series of undercover videos, Live Action exposed that Planned Parenthood facilities were willing to earmark money specifically donated for the abortions of African-American babies to “lower the number of blacks in America.”

The fact that Planned Parenthood has been referred to the DOJ and FBI for criminal investigation makes it more than clear that this organization does not deserve any more of our tax money or political protection.

This brings us back to the sad story of Ta’Lisa Hairston. After resigning from Planned Parenthood because of the terrible treatment she received from the organization during her pregnancy, the last thing Ms. Hairston heard from them was a letter asking her to donate money.

Is Chai Feldblum Reconsidering Religious Freedom?

by Peter Sprigg

December 21, 2018

I found it interesting that Chai Feldblum saw fit to respond to Everett Piper’s op-ed on the “Fairness for All” proposal, and to deny that her position is “that LGBT rights must always prevail, no matter what.” Her summary statement does sound more generous to religious liberty than other things she’s been quoted as saying in the past:

I believe there are some situations in which the rights of religious liberty for organizations who believe homosexuality is sinful will conflict with and should prevail over the rights of LGBT people who might experience discrimination at the hands of such religious organizations.

But what are some examples of those “situations?” And how does she define “religious organizations?” She never says.

I don’t doubt that Feldblum, in her concern for “religious pluralism,” would probably say pastors should not be forced to perform same-sex weddings, and churches should not be forced to hire pastors who identify as homosexual. But do “religious organizations” include anything other than churches, synagogues, and mosques? It would be nice to know.

Throughout her op-ed, she mentions only “religious organizations.” She does not talk about protecting the rights of profit-making organizations (e.g., Masterpiece Cakeshop), nor about the rights of religious individuals (e.g., Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran). My guess is that her concern for the “rights of religious liberty” simply does not extend to them.

I carefully analyzed her position in our paper opposing her renomination to the EEOC a year ago. Here is an excerpt:

Feldblum was best known to conservatives, however, for her blunt statements discounting the idea that the free exercise of religion should ever be allowed to trump “rights” asserted by those who identify as homosexual.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty held a conference in December 2005 regarding potential conflicts between same-sex marriage and religious liberty. Feldblum participated, and Maggie Gallagher drew attention to Feldblum’s views in a 2006 Weekly Standard article.

Sexual liberty should win in most cases,” Feldblum declared. “There can be a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, but in almost all cases the sexual liberty should win …” In fact, she declared, “I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.”

Feldblum understands what this means for religious believers. In a related article [2006], she declared that “we are in a zero-sum game: a gain for one side necessarily entails a corresponding loss for the other side,” adding later, “And, in making the decision in this zero-sum game, I am convinced society should come down on the side of protecting the liberty of LGBT people.” Indeed, she openly endorses government coercion of the believer: “To the extent that forced compliance with an equality mandate burdened an individual’s belief liberty, my argument … is that such a burden is likely to be justified.”

Feldblum admitted that the heavy-handed approach she favors goes well beyond Supreme Court precedent, noting that:

[T]he Supreme Court, for the moment, has come down clearly on the side that the liberty protected by the substantive Due Process Clause is solely a negative liberty. … But in many circumstances, the only way to achieve real liberty for some individuals will be for the government to take affirmative steps to bring about that liberty—even if such steps might then interfere with the liberty of others.”

Feldblum deserves some credit for describing more accurately than most the moral concerns that social conservatives have regarding homosexual conduct, and for at least acknowledging the reality of the conflict between “gay rights” and religious liberty. And she has been gracious to participate in events like the Becket conference, and even in a 2008 panel discussion held at Family Research Council.

However, this should not be allowed to mask the extremism of her positions. After she wrote that the courts should essentially ignore the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment (recognizing only a more nebulous “belief liberty” instead), she admitted that “my suggestions are radical.”

And more recently, since she has been on the EEOC, she has also expressed skepticism of religious exemptions:

Feldblum has continued to state her view that religious liberty exemptions should be extremely narrow. For example, at an “LGBT Summit” sponsored by The Atlantic magazine in December 2015, she participated in a panel discussion with David Boaz of the Cato Institute, who identifies both as gay and 5 as a libertarian (and who supported the redefinition of marriage). The issue of private businesses impacted by non-discrimination laws, such as those in the wedding industry, was discussed, as Reason magazine reported:

Boaz stated: “I think we have millions of small businesses, and I would like to leave the heavy hand of government out of their relationships with their customers and their employees as much as possible.”

… Feldblum, however, dismissed the idea that religious beliefs could ever justify discrimination. “When someone has not been educated [about tolerance of LGBT individuals] and wants to keep discriminating,” she said, “there is only one federal government, there is only one state government, one local government that can say: We will not tolerate this in our society.”

Feldblum then referred to an EEOC case against a funeral home charged with “gender identity” discrimination:

With a religious exemption to non-discrimination laws, the funeral home owner “could say, ‘well, actually, we’re religiously based,’” said Feldblum, raising her arms high and rolling her eyes. “It’s a funeral home! We do not want to allow that and the only thing that can protect us is a law that doesn’t have [a religious] exemption.”

LGBT activists like Feldblum are unlikely to accept any vision of religious liberty that extends beyond the four walls of a church’s sanctuary. But the “free exercise” of religion extends not just to churches but to individuals, and in every sphere of endeavor, including the public square and marketplace.

Compassion Is Needed for Parents and Professors Dealing with “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria,” Too

by Peter Sprigg

December 20, 2018

The magazine Psychology Today is hardly a hotbed of social conservatism. Nor is its contributor Samuel Veissière, Ph.D. campaigning against transgender ideology or identities. But merely by treating some parents’ concern about their transgender-identified children with respect, he has managed to produce one of the more remarkable short pieces on the transgender issue that I have seen in some time.

Veissière, a professor at Canada’s prestigious McGill University, is “an interdisciplinary anthropologist and cognitive scientist.” On November 28, he posted a piece on the Psychology Today website reporting on an academic article about certain youth (especially girls) who identify as transgender, published by Dr. Lisa Littman of Brown University.

Veissière summarized Littman’s conclusions:

Littman raises cautions about encouraging young people’s desire to transition in all instances.  From the cases reviewed in her study, she concluded that what she terms “rapid-onset gender dysphoria” (ROGD) appears to be a novel condition that emerges from cohort and contagion effects and novel social pressures… .

(Neither Veissière, nor critics of Littman’s reliance on parental reports, cited what I consider some of the study’s most shocking revelations. Littman explains that “online advice … instructs individuals how to deceive parents, doctors, and therapists to obtain hormones quickly.” Apparently advice of the same nature exists for anorexics, who are given “‘anorexic tricks’ … for deceiving parents and doctors so that individuals may continue their weight-loss activities.” There is even a scientific term for this—it’s called “deviancy training,” which is “the process whereby attitudes and behaviors associated with problem behaviors are promoted with positive reinforcement by peers.”)

Veissière added these observations from his own discipline:

The notion reported by parents that the ROGD appears to be “scripted” is also telling. Medical anthropologists describe the process of outsourcing negative feelings to cultural narratives and systems of beliefs as “idioms of distress.” … When extreme forms of distress and coping arise through novel social pressures and spread through implicit imitation, strange epidemics of “mass psychogenic illnesses” have been documented.

The latter remark reminded me of a brilliant turn of phrase by writer Rachel Lu in a 2016 piece in The Federalist. Although she applied it to the larger LGBT movement in general, it may be particularly appropriate to the transgender movement, and especially to “rapid-onset gender dysphoria.”

Lu wrote:

It will be remembered not as a Selma moment, but as a Salem moment: a period of collective insanity.

That is, it will not be remembered as a triumph of civil rights, like the 1965 march on Selma, Alabama. Instead, it is more like the collective mass hysteria—implausible accusations of “witchcraft” against ordinary citizens—that led to the Salem witch trials in 17th-century Massachusetts.

A day later, Veissière was back with another blog post, noting, “Some readers pointed out that I did not mention the controversy and significant public backlash that ensued after the study was first published in August 2018.”

Universities routinely publicize the academic work published by their faculty members, and Brown University did so with Littman’s article on August 22. The school was immediately attacked by transgender activists, who did not like the implications of Littman’s article—and on August 27, Brown removed the item describing her research from their website (the article itself remained, and still remains, available from the journal PLOS ONE).

This craven capitulation to political correctness led to a backlash of its own, with commentators ranging from my colleague Cathy Ruse to a former Dean of Harvard Medical School criticizing Brown for jeopardizing academic freedom.

Brown denied this charge, but Veissière did not seem convinced:

As it stands, the dominant and politically correct view of transgender identity being broadcast on university campuses — a view which, in a general sense, is linked to a culture of absolute validation and accommodations of people’s feelings and preferences — leaves very little room, if any, for alternative perspectives to be presented and discussed. 

All that is merely background for a third, more reflective piece that Veissière posted on December 2.

In it, Veissière points out, as clearly and concisely as I’ve seen done anywhere, the logical contradiction at the heart of today’s gender ideology:

As a very wise person put it to me, it is difficult to understand what views of gender are being called for in this new culture. On the one hand, gender is fluid, neutral, and doesn’t matter, or it isn’t a thing at all outside of false beliefs and oppressive constructs. On the other hand, gender matters so much that people will conceal, remove, or reshape their body parts to be recognized as one gender or the other. [Emphasis in the original.]

Veissière makes a comment on “impulses” that could be considered a critique of the entire LGBT movement. He points out, “Impulses, which make us act on visceral needs, are always sincere. But they are rarely wise.”

He illustrates the point with an example from his own youth: “In my adolescence, I committed vandalism in schools in the name of a noble fight against racism and colonial history.” However, he now admits, he knew little about either history or racism. “What I needed then was limits.  Finding the right limits is as hard a project as finding the right impulses … [emphasis in the original].”

In the reaction to his original posts, Veissière was challenged by individuals who identify as transgender—and as victimized and powerless:

A “healthy debate” exists for you, but not for me. For you, this is your field of study. For me and people like me, you are one of many, many people we have to justify ourselves to.

While admitting an obligation to feel empathy for the trials of those who identify as transgender, Veissière skillfully turns the point back on them:

The most difficult act of compassion for those who feel comforted in the feeling that they are powerless is to gain a perspective on the vulnerability of those they perceive to be in positions of ‘power.’ … If you are young, powerless and angry, imagine if you will what it is like to be a manager, doctor, or professor in the age of social media, when … it takes a single dissatisfaction and a single email, tweet or Facebook post — a single act of anger — to annihilate your career, social, family, and financial life in a day.

This is the nightmare scenario into which Lisa Littman of Brown found herself immersed.

Veissière points out that the entire culture is being indoctrinated with a view of “gender” that is designed to make life easier for the tiny minority that are gender non-conforming—even though the vast majority of people (over 99 percent) still identify their “gender” with their biological sex at birth. He alludes obliquely to the harm this may cause to the majority, noting that this “odd reversal of the … Tyranny of the Minority”—instilling “the historical[ly] novel, highly confusing notion that gender is made up”—has results that are “terribly confusing for most, and increasingly destabilizing for the many.”

We at Family Research Council disagree with the fundamental assertion of the transgender movement that a person’s psychological “gender identity” should ever be given precedence over the person’s biological sex in determining someone’s public identity as male or female. Veissière does not take that position. He affirms the (estimated) millions who identify as transgender by saying, “Denying such a large group the right to be gendered on their terms would indubitably be unjust,” and he adds generally that support for gender non-conforming teens “is a good, progressive move to help a very small group of people live healthy lives [emphasis in the original].”

But when it comes to the parents of such teens (the subjects of Littman’s study), Veissière cites “an old adage:”

Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.

Veissière notes that efforts to “prepare the road” instead are likely to fail—thus hurting children in the long run:

With this wise proposition, comes the recognition that encouraging youth to act on all their fears and desires does not prepare them well for the challenges of a world that will always come with unpredictability, and the competing needs of people with different fears and desires. The more we give each child the road they want, the more we set them up for failure and conflict with other children, who in turn want to be given a different road.

Although anything but “absolute validation and accommodations of people’s feelings and preferences” has suddenly become heresy, Veissière is courageous enough to endorse parental rights by declaring that regardless of “the road [children] want,”

[T]he responsibility is on their caregivers — not the children — to help them figure out, slowly and wisely, whether this is the best choice for them.

I might add, it is the duty of public officials to make sure parents remain free to fulfill that sacred responsibility.

Parents Beware of Puberty-Blocker Propaganda

by Cathy Ruse

December 19, 2018

Transgender activists promote puberty blockers as safe, effective, and reversible.  A new column at The Federalist details why medical experts disagree.

Originally used to treat prostate cancer, puberty blockers are also used for endometriosis and “precocious puberty” (for girls under 8, boys under 9).

But using puberty blockers to stop normal puberty is “off label,” meaning no research has been done to prove the safety of such use and the FDA hasn’t approved the drug for this purpose.

Extreme Side Effects

One of the puberty blockers frequently administered to girls who identify as boys is called Lupron.

Even with on-label use, Lupron is associated with loss in bone density and weak and brittle bones. Tragically, and ironically, another side effect is severe depression and suicidal ideation. The transgender lobby likes to wag a finger at parents and say: “Do you want a transgender child or a dead child?” But look at the drugs they are pushing on children.

Lawsuits

Not sure if a drug is totally safe? Look at the lawsuits. Lupron manufacturer AbbVie has been sued by a woman who took Lupron 14 years ago for endometriosis and now has widespread arthritis and suffers constant pain: “My body is on fire.” Another lawsuit charges Lupron with causing extreme bone density loss in an individual who took the drug starting at age 17.

Other Cases

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on another patient who took Lupron for precocious puberty at 10 after which she suffered such severe pain that she was put in a wheelchair in 5th grade. An Atlanta GYN who specializes in endometriosis reports many women suffering memory loss after taking Lupron.

Are Puberty Blockers Reversible?

No. The lost years of bone development cannot be regained, say medical experts.

According to endocrinologist Michael Laidlaw:  

There is an exquisitely timed release and change of multiple hormones during normal puberty. Among these are growth hormone and the sex hormones which account for the growth spurt including bone growth and development. It has been shown that puberty blockers interfere with the expected increase in bone density in adolescence such that the bones are not as strong as they would be had normal pubertal development been allowed. This is due to the effect of dropping sex hormone levels to subnormal levels. These lost years of bone development cannot be regained.

Why Some Medical Experts Call This Psychological Child Abuse

Up to 98 percent of gender dysphoric boys and 88 percent of gender dysphoric girls will experience an end to their sex confusion after naturally passing through puberty, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition.

That means only about 5-10 percent of effected children will pursue further sex-change interventions.

But how many children on puberty blockers pursue further sex-change procedures? One hundred percent, according to a Dutch study reported in The Journal of Sexual Medicine. The study, evaluating the impact of puberty blockers on 70 children, found that all 70 went on to take cross-sex hormones.

What This Means for Parents

Parents who visit a gender specialist for a suffering child, beware. Puberty blockers like Lupron are said to buy time to allow your child to explore his identity. But for many children—100 percent of them, according to a key study—they are a one-way ticket to transgenderism.

Social Conservative Review - December 17, 2018

by Daniel Hart

December 17, 2018

Dear Friends,

Do you ever find yourself exasperated at a friend or family member because they don’t share your beliefs, even though you’ve witnessed to them time and time again? Or maybe you harbor this frustration in a subtler way by privately hanging on to feelings of sadness or bitterness toward someone because of their lack of understanding and belief. This has been a common part of my own faith journey, and I’m sure it is for others as well.

It is at times like these that we should keep in mind that old familiar saying: “Patience is a virtue.” Yes, I know this phrase is dull and perhaps overused, but when we think about it in biblical terms, patience takes on a new dimension of meaning. For example, at the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew, we see the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-17). This passage is a stark illustration of the fact that God used a lineage full of sinners to become man. In the words of one commentator: “Even in the midst of all this sin and unfaithfulness, God remained faithful. He continued to work patiently to bring his plan to fulfilment.”

By paying attention to the faithfulness and patience that God has shown His people throughout salvation history and up to today, we begin to see that God does not do His work on man’s schedule. In the words of a priest I heard recently, “We have to be patient with the growth of His grace. This should prompt us to be patient with others.” This is a great reminder for us to not fall into discouragement and frustration when it appears that our words and prayers seem to have little effect on those we encounter. The important thing is to stay faithful in thought, word, deed, and prayer, always mindful that God is continually doing His faithful work and answering our prayers in ways we both can and cannot see.

As the Advent season draws to a close and our Savior’s birth approaches, the virtue of patience takes centerstage in the Christian life. Let us patiently await the coming of the Savior, ever faithful in the promises He has kept and continues to keep every day of our lives.

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

Editor’s Note: The Social Conservative Review will be on hiatus through Christmas. It will resume again on January 15, 2019.

 

FRC Articles

NEW Policy Publication: Religious Liberty and the “Wedding Vendor” Cases – Alexandra McPhee

Congress Must Repeal Its Tax on Churches and Charities – Travis Weber and David Closson

On Sex, the Science Is Deafening – Tony Perkins

Avoiding anti-religious decision-making – William G. Boykin

Season for Giving to Religious Groups – David Closson

Obamacare 2019: Fewer options and more funding of abortion – Patrina Mosley and Chuck Donovan

Stats Show People Still Want Reason for the Season This Christmas – Alexandra McPhee

Fairness for Whom? – Peter Sprigg

Obamacare and Abortion: Tell Us Your Story – Patrina Mosley

What to Know About Indonesia’s New “Blasphemy Reporting App” – Travis Weber

Supreme Court Pass on Defunding Cases Reminds Us of the Horrors of Planned Parenthood – Patrina Mosley

Supreme Court Refuses to Rule on State Decisions to Defund Planned Parenthood – Travis Weber and Alexandra McPhee

Pronoun Police Get VA Teacher Fired – Cathy Ruse

Speaking the Truth in Love: Lauren Daigle and the Reality of Being a Christian in Modern America – David Closson

Will Asia Bibi Be Forgotten? – Arielle Del Turco

Starbucks for Coffee, Not Porn – Cathy Ruse

Christian Healthcare Alternatives to Obamacare – Patrina Mosley

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

Ohio city removes Nativity, Ten Commandments display from public property after atheist complaint – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian Post

YAF Wins Landmark Free Speech Lawsuit, UC Berkeley To Pay $70,000 And Rescind Unconstitutional Policies – Spencer Brown, Young America’s Foundation

In God We Trust’ Returning to Public Schools, Buildings in More States – Steve Warren, CBN News

Treasury Dep’t issues guidance softening parking tax burden on churches, nonprofits – Leonardo Blair, The Christian Post

Compromising religious freedom – Everett Piper, The Washington Times

Group protests Bible Clubs in Wood County Schools – Jess Mancini, The Marietta Times

Virginia high school teacher fired for refusing to use transgender student’s new pronouns –  Graham Moomaw, Richmond Times-Dispatch

Principal Bans Santa, Christmas Carols, Candy Canes & Jesus – ToddStarnes.com

Wise men will remain atop Newaygo Elementary – News 8

International Religious Freedom

President Trump, Asia Bibi is a Christian under threat of death in Pakistan — please help her – Mike Huckabee, Fox News

USCIRF wants more sanctions to punish Myanmar’s abuse of Rohingyas, Christians and others – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post

100 Christians snatched in overnight raids on underground Chinese church – Mimi Lau, South China Morning Post

US groups urge Modi to take necessary measures to curb rise of Hindutva extremismThe Times of India

Colombia: Pastors facing death threats, assassination attempts by extortionists, kidnappers – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian Post

Asia Bibi apparently still in Pakistan as nations deny, debate appeals for asylum – John Burger, Aleteia

China: Fury as students BANNED from discussing religion – Latifa Yedroudj, Express

Read Powerful Letter Detained Chinese Pastor Wang Yi Wrote, Anticipating Arrest – Tré Goins-Phillips, FaithWire

Trump signs bill to aid ISIS genocide victims; Iraqi Christians ‘beginning to see a difference’ – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post

Egypt’s Silent Epidemic of Kidnapped Christian Girls – Lela Gilbert, The Jerusalem Post

114 Christians Arrested in One Week in Iran – Lindy Lowry, Open Doors USA

 

Life

Abortion

California Democrats eye mandating that state schools stock abortion pills – Kimberly Leonard, Washington Examiner

Nashville Becomes Largest Abortion-Free City in U.S. After Planned Parenthood Stops Doing Abortions – Micaiah Bilger, LifeNews

Holding the line’ Pro-lifers look ahead to new Congressional session – Christine Rousselle, CAN

Planned Parenthood Caught Selling Aborted Baby Parts Makes Over $100 Million Doing Abortions – Micaiah Bilger, LifeNews

Abortion pill restrictions approved by Michigan House – Jonathan Oosting, The Detroit News

Adoption

New York: ‘Change your beliefs or stop serving children’ – Alliance Defending Freedom

Why I’m Still an Adoption Romantic—Just a Less Starry-Eyed One – Mitch Pearlstein, Family Studies

Worse than foster care? Why not imagine something better for maltreated children? – Ron Haskins and Jeremy Kohomban, The Brookings Institution

Bioethics

The Case Against CRISPR Babies – Nicanor Austriaco, First Things

Pro-life medical expert tells Congressional panel aborted baby tissue isn’t necessary for research – Calvin Freiburger, LifeSiteNews

Obamacare

Christian groups win Obamacare birth control battle – Kimberly Leonard, Washington Examiner

How Catholics Can Ensure Their Health Care Doesn’t Fund Abortion – Lauretta Brown, National Catholic Register

 

Family

Marriage

The Partisan Divide in Marriage and Family Life: Four Takeaways from the 2018 American Family Survey – W. Bradford Wilcox, Family Studies

Keeping Your Marriage Intact While Grieving the Loss of a Child – Mary Ann Vincent, Focus on the Family

Protecting your marriage during the holidaysMPR News

You Can Reduce Negative Reactions in Conflict – Milan Yerkovich and Kay Yerkovich, Focus on the Family

The Unlikely Marriage of Alexander Hamilton and His Wife, Eliza – Barbara Maranzani, Biography.com

Parenting

3 Things Your Teens Fear the Most – Kevin Leman, Focus on the Family

Why parents constantly get their kids’ names wrong – Calah Alexander, Aleteia

Economics/Education

Modeling Opportunity in America: The Success Sequence and Social Genome Model – Isabel Sawhill, Family Studies

Virginia county wants to nix law allowing homeschooling for religious reasons – Helaina Bock, LifeSiteNews

The New Farm Bill Is So Bad That Supporters Don’t Want Its Details Released – Daren Bakst, The Daily Signal

How John Taylor Gatto Helped Parents And Children Regain Our Freedom To Think – Stella Morabito, The Federalist

Faith/Character/Culture

Study: Half of All High School Students Don’t Trust the Media to Report Accurately and FairlyA.J. Katz, TVNewser

The Authenticity of Clint Eastwood’s ‘Gran Torino’ – Dwight Longenecker, Intellectual Takeout

America Was Always Diverse – Jim Geraghty, National Review

An Aging Society Needs Caregiving Superheroes – Amy Ziettlow, Family Studies

Human Sexuality

9 Transgender Patients Complain Of Mutilation, Botched Sex-Change Surgeries In Oregon – Walt Heyer, The Federalist

Parents protest Desert Sands Unified sex ed curriculum changes – Joseph Hong, Palm Springs Desert Sun

Yes, Evangelical ‘Abstinence Culture’ Is A Bust, But The Answer Isn’t A Sexual Free-For-All – Matthew Cochran, The Federalist

Does Cohabitation Still Matter for Children’s Family Stability When It Becomes Common? –  Laurie DeRose, Family Studies

Why Puberty Blockers Are A Clear Danger To Children’s Health – Jane Robbins, The Federalist

Pornography

Pornography and the Definition of Power – Scott Beauchamp, The American Conservative

Tumblr will delete all porn from its platform – Lucas Matney, TechCrunch

Federal Employee Downloaded 9,000 Pages of Porn, Infecting Network with Russian Malware – Craig Bannister, CNS News

Starbucks finally bans porn – Kiley Crossland, WORLD

More College Students Wanting Universities to Filter Porn – National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Stats Show People Still Want Reason for the Season This Christmas

by Alexandra McPhee

December 15, 2018

Think American citizens are ready to give Christ the boot this holiday season? Think again.

A 2018 report from LifeWay Research shows an overarching sentiment that “Christmas should be more about Jesus” (65 percent).

These numbers reflect the reality of a report from Ozark, Missouri, that many locals clamored to get the government to keep its traditional Christmas light display featuring a cross after the town received legal threats from an activist secular legal group about the display.

According to the Springfield News-Leader, Mayor Rick Gardner received “hundreds” of phone calls, text messages and other communications from members of the Ozark community following the town’s initial announcement [to take the cross down in the face of legal threats]. One person reportedly told Gardner that the cross “is a part of Ozark” and “this is Christian County, for Pete’s sake.”

The legal letter sent to officials claimed that the cross was a violation of the First Amendment. But the United States Supreme Court has said government can “recognize the role religion plays in our society.” And the question whether government can maintain displays depicting religious symbols—like the one in Ozark—is now before the United States Supreme Court.

The heckler’s veto—the one complaint that convinces public officials to cave on behalf of all citizens—might fly in some areas. After all, Ozark was essentially slapped with the same legal letter sent to Dover, Ravenna, and Streetsboro, Ohio, and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Officials in all but Ozark and Streetsboro caved.

But what makes the difference is when citizens—the majority of whom say Christmas should be more about Jesus—make their voices heard. And they say keep the cross up and baby Jesus in the manger.

Fairness for Whom?

by Peter Sprigg

December 14, 2018

One major concern about “SOGI” laws—laws which add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected categories in non-discrimination laws governing employment, housing, and/or public accommodations—has been that they would pose a threat to religious liberty.

One response to this conflict between “LGBT rights” and religious liberty has been to propose a sort of grand compromise, in which SOGI protections and specific religious liberty protections are enacted in the same bill.

Only one state, Utah, has so far implemented this approach, enacting what became known as the “Utah Compromise” in 2015. Proposals to do something similar at the federal level have been discussed under the label of “Fairness for All.”

Family Research Council has argued that such an approach is unsustainable, for reasons explained in a 2016 paper.

However, World Magazine has now reported that the boards of two major evangelical organizations—the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE)—have both passed motions endorsing the “Fairness for All” concept.

According to World, the NAE board unanimously—but quietly—adopted a motion in October that “calls on Congress to consider federal legislation consistent with three principles:” 

• We believe that God created human beings in his image as male or female and that sexual relations [should] be reserved for the marriage of one man and one woman.

• We support long-standing civil rights laws and First Amendment guarantees that protect free religious exercise.

• No one should face violence, harassment, or unjust discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

The first bullet point is a clear-cut statement of biblical teaching on sexuality and marriage. The second bullet point is a straightforward endorsement of long-standing American principles.

The third bullet point is the problem. What, exactly, is the definition of “unjust discrimination” in this context? Is it “unjust discrimination” for a Christian baker to decline to bake a cake to celebrate a same-sex wedding in violation of his own conscience? Or for that matter, is it “harassment” for a schoolteacher to refuse to use pronouns that falsify the sex of a student who identifies as transgender?

These are questions that need to be put to the LGBT activists with whom this “compromise” is being sought. The ball is in their court, not ours. Unfortunately for those seeking compromise with them, LGBT activists are likely to answer those questions with an emphatic “Yes.” Alas, there is virtually no chance that they would endorse the kind of much-needed legislation that would protect the freedoms of that baker or teacher.

Obamacare and Abortion: Tell Us Your Story

by Patrina Mosley

December 13, 2018

In FRC and Charlotte Lozier Institute‘s fifth annual investigation into Obamacare funding of abortion, we found that Americans now have fewer plans than ever before and more locales than ever providing abortion-only plans. At the same time, Obamacare is becoming less and less affordable and some Americans are saying, “I just can’t do this anymore.” Obamacare enrollment is already reported to be down 12 percent from last year.

Some have opted for Christian healthcare share ministries and others are taking advantage of the new short-term plans extended under the Trump administration, particularly now since there is no penalty for not having Obamacare.

Because of the individual mandate in Obamacare, Americans were required to purchase health coverage or pay a tax penalty. Due to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the individual mandate will no longer exist starting with the 2019 plan year. However, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia have all the imposed their own state mandates effective 2019. Vermont’s mandate will be effective for 2020 enrollment. Other states are also considering implementing their own individual mandates. You can visit here for more information.

The short-term plans, however, are limited to a 36-month duration, provide fewer benefits, will not always cover pre-existing conditions, are generally less expensive, and cannot be purchased with Obamacare subsidies. Basically, these are for healthy people and those who are still deciding what major coverage to buy but don’t want to go without any coverage in case of an emergency. To see what your short-term options are, you can go here.

As our investigations continue to shine a light on the dark entanglement of the taxpayer funding of abortion, we also want to hear from you, the consumer, to see how Obamacare is affecting your decision to choose between your healthcare and your conscience.

Remember Connecticut’s Bracy family? In 2014, they had to sue their state and the federal government after being forced on to Connecticut’s Obamacare, which only offered plans that required them to pay for other people’s abortions. Due to pressure, the state of Connecticut now has at least one pro-life plan.

Tell us your story. We have provided our findings and encourage you to contact us with your experiences regarding abortion and Obamacare (either before or after enrollment in a plan) at info@obamacareabortion.com. Let us know what has and has not worked for you. One day we will win this battle, but in the meantime, we have to continue to fight and tell our stories!

What to Know About Indonesia’s New “Blasphemy Reporting App”

by Travis Weber

December 12, 2018

It was recently announced that Google agreed to list an app created by the Indonesian government allowing users to report alleged “blasphemy” to authorities. The app is called “Smart Grip” (locally known as “Smart Pakem”), and is available in the Google Play store. What does this mean, and what are we to think of this? First, some background, and then discussion of the app.

What are blasphemy laws?

Blasphemy laws generally prohibit and punish insults to religion. They are often abused when allegations of blasphemy are made against religious minorities—often with no evidence—to settle personal disputes. Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian woman convicted and sentenced to death for blasphemy after a dispute with a Muslim coworker, was prosecuted after an allegation that she committed the crime (she has since been released, to the tune of much public hostility).

How does Indonesia view blasphemy?

Indonesia criminalizes blasphemy. Article 156 of the penal code states it is illegal to “publicly give[] expression to feelings of hostility, hatred or contempt.” Maximum punishment for this crime is four years. Article 156(a) goes further, prohibiting one from “deliberately … giv[ing] expression to feelings or commit[ing] an act” which is “at enmity with, abus[es], or stain[s] a religion … with the intention to prevent a person to adhere to any religion based on the belief of the almighty God.” Maximum punishment for this crime is five years.

What effect have these laws had?

Among other cases, Jakarta’s former governor, a Christian, was imprisoned for blasphemy last year, and it was only recently announced he would be released. A Buddhist woman was also convicted of blasphemy after complaining about the noise level of a neighborhood mosque’s loudspeakers.

How did the app come into being?

Development of the app was requested by the Indonesian government, and it was created by Jakarta’s High Prosecution Office (it has also been reported that a body charged with “religious oversight” in the Indonesia Attorney General’s office launched the app). This is a dangerous, anti-religious freedom office, according to experts, yet it has been approved by Google for listing in its app store.

What does the app do?

It allows users to report, directly to the government, groups practicing unrecognized faiths or unorthodox interpretations of Indonesia’s six officially recognized religions, including Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, and Buddhism.

What are the implications?

Religious persecution in Indonesia likely to increase if this app is used. No doubt, variations of Christianity displeasing to Muslims and others are likely to be reported. But others will be affected too. One of the groups described as “deviant” on the app are the Ahmadiyah, a peaceful group of Muslims with adherents around the world (including the U.S.), but who are viewed as heretical by many other Muslims. Indonesia has many Muslims—such as those represented by Nahdlatul Ulama—who do not want to see a spread in the use of blasphemy laws. They have even publicly criticized developments like the recent conviction of a Buddhist woman for blasphemy. But hardline, violent Muslims are on the rise in Indonesia, and this app will only aid them. If they are allowed to continue to grow, Indonesia could turn out like Pakistan in the future—with not just one, but many Asia Bibi’s of its own.

What has been the reaction to the app?

It has drawn widespread backlash from diverse quarters, creating an unusual alliance against it—from Robert Spencer to Human Rights Watch and the “friendly atheist” blog. It does not seem that Google has publicly responded to news inquiries or criticism yet.

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