Author archives: Family Research Council

The Peace Cross, the Establishment Clause, and Why the Separation of Church and State Fails to Adequately Protect Minority Religions (Part 1 of 5)

by Family Research Council

March 21, 2019

In 1925, a committee including Gold Star mothers and local veterans dedicated a memorial in Bladensburg, Maryland in honor of 49 servicemembers from Prince George’s County who gave their lives in service to World War I. They chose a Latin Cross to be the symbol of their loved ones’ sacrifice, and today, residents call it the Peace Cross.

Almost to the very day of the centennial of the first World War, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review whether the Peace Cross is a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause—more popularly though less accurately referred to as the separation of church and state—because it is in the shape of a cross and maintained on public property. The case of American Legion v. American Humanist Association is an important one. First Liberty Institute is involved in defending the memorial in court, and FRC filed an amicus brief in the case. Oral argument was held just about one month ago, on February 27, 2019. The case is currently under consideration, and the Supreme Court will issue its decision on or before June 2019.

As part of this case, several groups representing religious minorities argue that the current court precedents on this issue—which have put the Peace Cross in jeopardy—should stay in place, even if that means that the Peace Cross or memorials like it have to go. They say that this state of the law shields minority religions like theirs from political and cultural forces that may use their power to push minority religions out of the public square.

Family Research Council argues that this is not the case. First, the vague, subjective approach of current Establishment Clause precedents actually harms minority religions. Applying an original meaning of the Constitution instead would provide clarity for all—including religious minorities. Second, avenues outside of the courts, like the executive and the legislature at the federal, state, and local level, are better equipped to respond to the needs of minority religions.

In the coming days, we will be rolling out a special blog series highlighting these key points from the article and discussing how they help us understand true religious liberty in this age of deep confusion on the issue. Stay tuned!

This blog series is based on an article in Federalist Society Review by Alexandra M. McPhee, “Can a New Establishment Clause Jurisprudence Succeed in Protecting Religious Minorities Where Lemon Has Failed?”

Family Research Council Opposes the “Equal Rights Amendment”

by Family Research Council

January 10, 2019

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.

Top 10 Myths About Abortion

by Family Research Council

January 7, 2019

The issue of abortion is emotional, heated, and fraught with passionate opinions on all sides, and rightly so—the lives of human beings in the womb hang in the balance. It’s no surprise, then, that a lot of misguided, inflammatory, and patently false rhetoric inevitably surrounds the abortion issue whenever it is debated.

Dr. Ingrid Skop, a practicing obstetrician-gynecologist for 22 years, is passionate about inserting some much-needed scientific truth and common sense into the abortion debate from the perspective of a medical professional who works with pregnant women on a daily basis. In FRC’s new video series and corresponding publication, she dispels 10 common myths about abortion.

Over the next two weeks leading up to FRC’s ProLifeCon and the March for Life, we will be releasing a series of 10 videos of Dr. Skop discussing each myth about abortion. For a more detailed discussion of each myth, be sure to read FRC and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ (AAPLOG) new publication authored by Dr. Skop, Top 10 Myths About Abortion.

World Congress of Families Seeks to Strengthen the Family Unit

by Family Research Council

September 26, 2018

Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at Family Research Council, was a speaker at the latest meeting of the World Congress of Families (WCF), held September 14-16 in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. Formerly part of the Soviet Union, Moldova is located between Romania and Ukraine. Peter’s talk described “Five Myths About ‘Gender Identity’” as part of a panel discussion on “Gender Ideology—The Latest Attack on the Family and the Legal Challenges It Poses.”

The “Gender Ideology” panel was moderated by Patrick Byrne, President of the National Civil Council in Australia, who is also author of a new book, Transgender: One Shade of Grey. The panel included Stephen Baskerville, a professor at Patrick Henry College who is the author of The New Politics of Sex: The Sexual Revolution, Civil Liberties, and the Growth of Governmental Power. Former FRC Fellows Pat Fagan and Allan Carlson (founder of the World Congress of Families) were also among the speakers in Moldova.

FRC renewed its formal partnership with the WCF this year, and Peter has attended all but one of the World Congress events since 2004, speaking in Mexico City (2004) and Salt Lake City (2015).

The event had the active support of the President of Moldova, Igor Dodon (pictured), and Moldovan First Lady Galina Dodon’s charitable foundation “Din Suflet” (From the Soul). President Dodon spoke at the opening and closing ceremonies (despite having survived a rollover car accident just days earlier, after a truck swerved into his motorcade). Dodon declared at the opening session:

[T]he philosophy aimed at strengthening the institution of the family and based on the priority of traditional family values should become an alternative to the actively propagated anti-family ideology. Our motto is: “Every child should be brought up only in a family”. A family should only be regarded as an alliance between a man and a woman, a father and a mother.

Moldova’s Constitution includes reference to the family, with Article 48 stating:

The family shall be founded on a freely consented marriage between a husband and wife, on their full equality in rights and the parents’ right and obligation to ensure their children’s upbringing, education and training.

Dodon also expressed concern over demographic trends in his country, noting, “Over the past 27 years – the years of independence – we have lost up to one third of our population for various reasons.” He warned that if current trends continue, Moldova may lose another third of its population within the next 20 years. For this reason, he has supported policies such as paying subsidies to families that have four or more children. Dodon also officially declared 2019 to be “The Year of the Family” in Moldova.

The theme of the Congress was “The Natural Family: Uniting East and West.” Most of the residents of the former Soviet bloc hold conservative views on social issues, and the last three WCF gatherings have been held in Eastern Europe: in Tbilisi, Georgia in 2016; Budapest, Hungary in 2017; and in Moldova this year.

The World Congress of Families is also significant in bringing together the three main branches of Christianity: Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox. An elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) also spoke at the event. Moldova is predominantly Orthodox, and representatives of both the Moldovan Orthodox Church and Russian Orthodox Church participated in the event. Many participants, including Peter, attended worship Sunday morning at the Central Orthodox Cathedral in Chisinau, along with President Dodon.

At the closing ceremonies for this year’s Congress, Brian Brown, President of the International Organization for the Family (IOF), which organizes the WCF, announced that the next World Congress of Families will be held in Verona, Italy from March 29-31, 2019.

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