by Family Research Council
January 17, 2019
Today is Religious Freedom Day in America (see FRC’s resources below). In our great country, religious freedom has held a special place in our civic life ever since the days of Thomas Jefferson. But this freedom is increasingly coming under assault by activists on the Left here at home and by authoritarian regimes abroad. This is why we must never take the freedoms we have in this country for granted.
So what do we mean by “religious freedom”? In this day and age, it’s vitally important to define our terms in order to counter those who have a far too narrow view of this first freedom. FRC’s David Closson has written an excellent summation of the proper understanding of religious freedom:
“Simply put, religious liberty is the freedom to live out one’s faith according to his or her deepest convictions. This means people have the right to believe what they want in terms of theology and doctrine and can live in a way that brings their life into conformity with these beliefs. Obviously, this does not mean people can do whatever they want under the guise of ‘religious liberty,’ but it does mean that as much latitude as possible should be extended to those with sincere religious convictions about how to order their lives.”
Our Founding Fathers understood that man’s deepest desire is to live out his most deeply held convictions, which most often come from religious foundations. The freedom of religion was therefore included in the First Amendment to the Constitution—our “first freedom.” May we never take this freedom for granted and always use it for the greater glory of God.
Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.
Managing Editor for Publications
Family Research Council
FRC “Religious Freedom Day” Resources
“Washington Watch” Special Report: Religious Freedom Day – 5-6 p.m. ET on Facebook Live
Religious Freedom Day – David Closson
When Free Exercise Comes at a Price – Alexandra McPhee
NEW Policy Publication: Top 10 Myths About Abortion – Ingrid Skop, M.D.
NEW Policy Publication: Why “Sexual Orientation” and “Gender Identity” Should Never Be Specially Protected Categories Under the Law – Peter Sprigg
E-Verify — The Immigration Solution Congress is Looking For – Ken Blackwell
The ERA: A Bad, Old Idea – Cathy Ruse
The Postal Service Stamps Out the Christmas Spirit – Alexandra McPhee
Is Chai Feldblum Reconsidering Religious Freedom? – Peter Sprigg
Parents Beware of Puberty-Blocker Propaganda – Cathy Ruse
Religious Liberty in the Public Square
Democrats Question Judicial Nominee About Membership in Catholic Association – Kevin Daley, The Daily Signal
Apple removes Christian ministry app following complaints by LGBT activists – Teri Webster, The Blaze
Colorado loses bid to dismiss cake artist’s lawsuit – Alliance Defending Freedom
Washington state senior center bans religious Christmas expression – Alliance Defending Freedom
Early Christmas gift: City ends discrimination, Maryland church resumes worship – Alliance Defending Freedom
House Passes Bill to Free Pastors from IRS Muzzle and Shield Churches from Accidental New Tax – Benjamin Gill, CBN News
Family’s Christmas Stamps Rejected Because of “Religious” Content – ToddStarnes.com
Texas Lawmaker Wants to Put The Ten Commandments Back in Public Schools – Jeremiah Poff, ToddStarnes.com
Indiana school district bars coaches from participating in team prayers after atheist complaint – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post
Oxford students demand university fire famed philosophy prof for ‘homophobia’ – Lisa Bourne, LifeSiteNews
International Religious Freedom
Wise Men Still Bring Gifts: Our Extraordinary Christmas in Egypt – Rick Segal, Desiring God
The Coming ‘Turkish Jihadist Invasion’ Against Christians: A Christmas Plea from Syrians to US Christians – Chris Mitchell, CBN News
As China Cracks Down on Churches, Christians Declare ‘We Will Not Forfeit Our Faith’ – Javier C. Hernández, The New York Times
2 Christian brothers sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan, charity warns – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post
India: Shock as pastor arrested for ‘showing movie about Jesus’ – Athena Chrysanthou, Express
Chinese City Bans Christmas Celebrations to Maintain ‘Clean Environment’ – Frances Martel, Breitbart
Trump’s troop withdrawal ‘sacrifices’ Syrian Christians, gives ‘victory’ to jihadis: activist – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post
Christians ‘Standing in the Way’ of China’s Xi Jinping’s Totalitarian Rule – George Thomas, CBN News
During Christmas Week, Iran Arrests 9 Christians for ‘Zionism,’ Spreading ‘Corrupt’ Beliefs – Tyler O’Neil, PJ Media
Military Religious Freedom
Abortion Killed 42 Million People In 2018 – Paul Bois, The Daily Wire
Living pro-vida – Mary Jackson, WORLD
Democrats vow to lift ban on federal funds for abortions – Jessie Hellmann, The Hill
The Supreme Court Should Protect Unborn Children with Down Syndrome – O. Carter Snead and Mary O’Callaghan, Public Discourse
Indiana Health Department Refuses To License Abortion Clinic Over Undisclosed Records – Grace Carr, The Daily Caller
Planned Parenthood, Other Feminist Organizations Accused Of Discrimination Against Pregnant Workers – Ashe Schow, The Daily Wire
Pro-choice activist tells kids: abortion is ‘part of God’s plan,’ ‘like dentist appointment’ – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post
Kansas judge rules telemedicine abortions can continue – John Hanna, ABC News
‘Like a giant what-if’: Siblings of aborted children mourn their loss – Skyler Lee, Live Action
Planned Parenthood’s President Admits Abortion Is Group’s ‘Core Mission’ – Alexandra DeSanctis, National Review
Texas couple: God ‘purposefully connected’ us to kids found chained in horrific abuse case – Caleb Parke, Fox News
Obama-Appointed NIH Director: Aborted Fetal Tissue Will ‘Continue to Be the Mainstay’ for Research – Susan Berry, Breitbart
Why You Shouldn’t Give Up on Your Marriage – Teri Reisser and Paul Reisser, Focus on the Family
The Cleansing of the Temple: Casting Pornography Out of Marriage – Michelle Curran and Luca Marelli, Humanum
Podcast: Holy longing: The struggle with infertility – Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
State Efforts to Reduce Adverse Childhood Experiences Should Include Programs to Strengthen Marriage – Alysse ElHage, Family Studies
Farewell, Judith Rich Harris – Rod Dreher, The American Conservative
Gender-Neutral Parenting Isn’t for Me – Leigh Harper, Family Life
How Tragedy Testifies To The Supreme, Glorious Value Of Human Life – Caroline D’Agati, The Federalist
What Do We Owe Our Parents? – Ashley McGuire, Family Studies
Grown Men Are the Solution, Not the Problem – David French, National Review
It Is Good That You Exist – Rachel Bulman, Word on Fire
The Strongest Men Are Gentle – David Mathis, Desiring God
Watch This Dude Climb 3,200 Feet Of Granite With No Harness In ‘Free Solo’ – Glenn T. Stanton, The Federalist
Breaking the Fourth Wall on Social Media – Austin Ruse, Crisis
This New Year, Act More Leisurely – Bart Price, Ethika Politika
Should I Stay at a Christian Organization That Doesn’t Seem Christian? – Joshua Chatraw, The Gospel Coalition
When Sex Becomes Cheap – Paul Sullins, Humanum
Protecting Sex From Liberalism – Anthony McCarthy, Public Discourse
The Problem Isn’t Technological: Rebuilding Women’s Reproductive Health – Weronika Janczuk, Public Discourse
30 Transgender Regretters Come Out Of The Closet – Stella Morabito, The Federalist
Comprehensive Sex Education Undermines Students’ Moral Development – Tapio Puolimatka, Public Discourse
Study: Infidelity, porn prevalent sex sins in church – Diana Chandler, Baptist Press
Criminal Records Show Women Are Prudent To Not Want Men In Their Bathrooms – Jamie Shupe, The Federalist
Idaho ordered to provide sex reassignment surgery to inmate jailed for sexually abusing a child – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post
Who Are Sex Traffickers, And Why Do They Exploit Other Humans? – Fight the New Drug
Two Developments That Changed Our Movement – Patrick Trueman, National Center on Sexual Exploitation
50 Heartbreaking Ways That Porn Harms Relationships And Society – Fight the New Drug
Filmmaker/Actor Josh Radnor On Why He’s Against Porn – Fight the New Drug
Pregnancy is a normal bodily function; it is not a disease. Interrupting this normal process is not health care. It is a surgical solution to a societal problem. The argument that “abortion is between a woman and her doctor” incorrectly assumes that an abortion requires a medical judgment, and will be performed by a woman’s own OB/GYN. This is false. The vast majority of abortionists are employed by abortion clinics, not health care clinics. Most abortionists are merely technicians who only perform one procedure for money; they do not perform any other health care service.
Statistically, if a pregnant woman walks through Planned Parenthood’s door, there is a 96 percent chance that the pregnancy service she will receive is an abortion. Only 3 percent will receive prenatal care, and less than 1 percent of women will choose to place their babies for adoption, to be raised by a loving family if the woman is unable to do so. We know that 10-15 percent of recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage, so one also wonders why they do so little miscarriage management (1 percent)?
It is often reported by an uncritical media that only 3 percent of their services are abortion. If a woman presents for an abortion, she is also going to have several other discrete services performed: pregnancy test, sonogram, STD testing, and possible pap, as well as a provision of birth control afterward. Thus, abortion is only 17-20 percent of the services provided to this woman, but an abortion is why she came.
It is easy to see how counting every individual service, when most women have multiple services provided each visit, can dilute out the numbers and make it look like abortion is only a small part of what they do. The reality is that over 3,000 abortions is greater than over 2,000 pap tests. It is easy to see the primary purpose for this organization’s existence.
What happens if women do not have access to a Planned Parenthood? Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) also receive state and federal money to provide indigent care, and they provide every service that Planned Parenthood does, except abortion. In addition, they employ practitioners who specialize in other health problems.
A woman is more than a uterus, and she often has other health issues that can be addressed in a more comprehensive way by an FQHC. While the number of Planned Parenthood clinics in our country has dropped to 620 as of August 2017, there are 13,540 FQHCs. They outnumber Planned Parenthood clinics 20 to 1.
Due to the controversial nature of abortion, it is very difficult to find reliable data in order to compare pregnancy outcomes of women in the United States. When most observers consider safety related to abortion, they only consider physical complications, but they should also consider psychological complications, which can also lead to a woman’s death. One comprehensive study analyzed 22 studies which considered mental health consequences of abortion. It found that there was an 81 percent overall increased risk of mental health problems after abortion. The safety of abortion is determined less by whether it is legal, and more by other factors such as available technology, gestational age in which it is committed, and the skill of the practitioner.
The frequency of complications increases as the pregnancy advances. Only half of U.S. states require abortionists to report their complications and no states require non-abortion doctors, coroners, or emergency rooms to report abortion-related deaths for investigation. Deaths are counted by the CDC only if they happen to come to their attention through death certificates, anecdotal reports, reports to state health agencies, quality committees, or Morbidity & Mortality committees.
For many reasons, the information about a preceding abortion may not make it onto a death certificate. The abortion may have initiated a cascade of events resulting in death, but only the most proximate events may be listed on the death certificate. The physician who completes the death certificate may be unaware of the abortion, which could happen if a sick woman presents to the emergency room, but leads the staff to believe that it was a miscarriage and not an abortion that led to her complication. If she is too sick to give a history, the family may be unaware of, or may be embarrassed about the abortion.
An ideologic commitment to legal abortion may lead a physician to leave this information off of the death certificate. A single investigative reporter was able to document 30 percent more abortion-related deaths nationwide than the CDC had listed, merely by correlating public documentation of malpractice cases with autopsy reports.
It is clear with the incomplete records available in the U.S., the political nature of abortion, and the ideological commitment of many academic researchers to legal abortion, that the question of comparative safety of abortion to childbirth is unlikely to be answered in our country.
A more complete, and less biased way to look at this question is to perform a records-linked study in a country with a more neutral view on legalized abortion, single payer health care so that records on all procedures are readily available, and more complete death certificate documentation.
Studies in other countries such as Finland have shown that women who have had abortions are 3.5 times more likely to die within a year than women who have carried their pregnancies to term. Researchers concluded that this may be due to the fact that carrying a baby to term has a protective effect on women’s bodies by reducing the risk of breast cancer as well as the risk of emotional stress.
Science now shows that unborn babies can feel pain by 20 weeks post-fertilization, and most likely even earlier.
The first requirement for fetal pain perception is the presence of cutaneous sensory receptors, which begin to develop in the peri-oral area at seven weeks and spread to the palms and soles by 11 weeks. Early in the second trimester, the fetus reacts to stimuli that would be recognized as painful if applied to an adult human, in much the same ways as an adult, for example, by recoiling.
Fetuses can be seen reacting to intra-hepatic vein needling with vigorous body and breathing movements, increased heart rate, and increased blood flow to the brain. There are many instances in medical practice in which doctors take extra precautions to prevent pain in human beings by administering anesthesia to those who have experienced brain death, are in a vegetative state, or are being given the death penalty.
However, this same precautionary use of anesthesia is not extended to unborn children who are being aborted by brutal abortion procedures, such as the most practiced second trimester abortion method of dismemberment where a child is literally torn limb from limb in the womb. This is a grave injustice.
In Camdenton, Missouri, a county commission is facing the threat of a lawsuit for a painting hung on a courthouse wall in remembrance of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. A year after almost 3,000 people were killed in the worst terrorist attack on American soil, a local high school student painted an image of a firefighter and young girl pointing to the “Ground Zero Cross,” a cross-shaped steel beam pulled from the rubble of Ground Zero in New York City and mounted on a platform. After the attacks, rescue and recovery workers found comfort in this new memorial, and the Camden County community saw the painting as a marker for a period of renewed national unity after catastrophic loss of life.
Commissioners called a public hearing after an activist secularist legal group, Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), demanded its removal. Despite the specter of high legal fees to defend the painting in court, residents are holding fast.
“What say ye, if it costs Camden County a tremendous amount of money. Does the painting stay?” a commissioner asked.
Most, if not all, hands were raised. Voices from the crowd shouted: “We have people in the hall, too.” “Raise my taxes!”
Legal arguments grounded on the so-called principle of the “separation of church and state” are based on the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
FFRF argues that the painting’s depiction of a cross-shaped beam constitutes an endorsement of Christianity, and thus, a violation of the separation of church and state. It dismisses the fact that a federal appellate court held that the very Ground Zero Cross depicted in the Camden County courthouse painting passed constitutional muster after a challenge to its exhibition in the National September 11 Museum by another secularist legal group.
Recent letters released en masse by FFRF demonstrate that the group’s understanding of the Establishment Clause fails to account for Supreme Court precedent that grounds its reasoning in the original meaning of the text of the U.S. Constitution rather than cut-and-paste phrases from previous Court opinions. In Marsh v. Chambers (1983), Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC (2012), and Town of Greece v. Galloway (2014), the Supreme Court shows that it is increasingly relying on legal history, which recognizes the role religion has played in our nation, to decide various government actions.
The Supreme Court has not made clear whether this look at historical practices will be the standard under which courts consider establishment clause challenges to religious symbols located on government property. Hopefully, this will change now that the Court is slated to decide whether a war memorial in the shape of a cross and maintained by a local government can stand under the Establishment Clause. We have submitted a brief in that case urging the Court to recognize the pivotal role of religion in society and commemoration and to let the cross stand.
But even under the most subjective legal standard, which the Court put forth in Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971) (looking at the primary effect of a government action, the purpose of the action, or the extent to which the action entangles government with religion), the courthouse painting passes muster. The local artist’s sister-in-law said it best: “I think it’s sad, that this many years later, we’re all here. I obviously see [a cross] . . . but I see it as a symbol of hope and a reminder to what we’ve lost.”
The American Psychological Association (APA) has decided that “traditional masculinity is psychologically harmful.”
That’s what should be known as traditional asininity. According to the APA, “[t]he main thrust of the subsequent research is that traditional masculinity—marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression—is, on the whole, harmful.”
The APA’s report condemns itself. It should be read far and wide. But reader, be warned that you will encounter gibberish like this: “Though men benefit from patriarchy, they are also impinged upon by patriarchy.”
Rod Dreher rightly sees this nonsense as yet another diktat from the elites: “The more I think about it, the more Soviet this seems. Dissent from gender ideology (not just the transgender stuff, but the establishment’s view of what men and women are)? Well, then you must be insane. Expert opinion says so!”
I agree with David French at National Review: “We do our sons no favors when we tell them that they don’t have to answer that voice inside them that tells them to be strong, to be brave, and to lead.”
I have daughters, not sons. But I pray my daughters marry masculine men, not the kind the APA would mold.
On January 10, 2019, a press conference was held by The Family Foundation to oppose the “Equal Rights Amendment” (ERA). Two spokeswomen for Family Research Council made the following statements.
Alexandra McPhee – Director of Religious Freedom Advocacy:
The ERA fails procedurally—it is legally moot, and thus, off the table for ratification. In 1972, when the amendment passed, Congress itself conditioned ratification on a deadline: March 22, 1979. A later extension moved the date to June 30, 1982. Proponents of the amendment failed to rally enough states to ratify the amendment at either juncture, and in that time five states withdrew their ratification.
Now, 36 years later, proponents believe they can and should revive this stale effort. But they cannot and should not.
Congress reasonably imposed this deadline because a lot can happen in five years, and even more in a lifetime. The deadline was binding enough when the ERA thought it would win. Now that it has lost—twice—proponents argue that the rules need not apply.
If Congress represents the will of the people, why ignore that? 2019 is not the time to undermine the will of the people in 1982, when the people of at least 15 states decided that the ERA should fail. And what ratifying states wanted in 1982 and earlier should not dictate the voice of the people in 2019.
Assuming all of this, whatever ERA proponents want the General Assembly to pass will have to make its way anew through Congress by a 2/3rds vote. Based on the current makeup of Congress, the ERA will not garner the necessary votes.
As a woman, the ERA does not support my interests, so I do not support ERA—nor should it find support in those who understand the negative consequences that will result from this amendment. I urge all representatives to Vote NO.
Patrina Mosley – Director of Life, Culture and Women’s Advocacy:
Women are continually used as props to push an agenda. The ERA is not about women, it is really a smokescreen for abortion. Abortion has extinguished over 60 million children from our nation and by design, our poor and minority communities have been disproportionately affected.
The majority opinion of Roe written by Justice Blackmun is laced with eugenic ideology and has even been acknowledged by Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The abortion industry, from day one, has used the courts to force its agenda. Now that it seems that the courts may be stacked against them, they will use any backdoor (or prop – even if it’s women) to preserve abortion.
Abortion lobbyists who fatten the wallets of legislators knows that abortion has no actual constitutional basis and are convinced they need a constitutional amendment to keep abortion “legal.”
While trying to protect abortion, the ERA leaves women unprotected by threatening legal distinctions based on sex. This puts men in women’s shelters, prisons, bathrooms, showers, sports, and more. Instead of achieving “equality,” the ERA has undermined the already achieved protections specifically designed for women.
But today, we act like we don’t even know what sex/gender means! So, if the ERA really cared about protecting women it would have seen it as necessary to define what it means to be a woman. It does not.
This amendment has failed so many times because it is disingenuous and has no moral compass—therefore it continues to trip over itself.
The ERA is bad all the way around. I urge all representatives to Vote NO.