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March 13, 2018

An Education in School Safety

There was a time when secretaries of education could focus on things like curriculum and better learning environments. Betsy DeVos would probably like to trade places with some of her predecessors when the job’s biggest demands were raising national test scores — not keeping children safe. Unfortunately for her and every other administrator in America, the world of education has changed — and it now has a lot more to do with combatting violence than fighting mediocrity.

There was a time when secretaries of education could focus on things like curriculum and better learning environments. Betsy DeVos would probably like to trade places with some of her predecessors when the job’s biggest demands were raising national test scores — not keeping children safe. Unfortunately for her and every other administrator in America, the world of education has changed — and it now has a lot more to do with combatting violence than fighting mediocrity.

It’s been almost a month since the latest wake-up call that something in America has gone terribly wrong. There are 17 more empty seats around dinner tables in Parkland, Florida, victims of a story that started in Columbine and continues to break hearts from Connecticut to Virginia Tech. In the days since a 19-year-old walked into the halls of his old school and started snuffing out the futures of so many innocent classmates, the entire nation has been grasping for solutions to spare other parents the unimaginable pain of losing a child. President Trump is a father too. And in the weeks since Florida’s heartbreak, he’s made it clear that he’s willing to cross any aisle and consider any idea to make sure the evil that happened in Parkland doesn’t happen again. At least as far as he can help it.

Over the weekend, the White House rolled out its newest plan for school safety. In it, DeVos explains, are a number of concrete steps the government and state leaders can take to harden their campuses against threats. As he’s said since the beginning, President Trump thinks it’s time to launch “rigorous firearms training” for teachers who volunteer to carry guns at school. “For those who are capable,” Secretary DeVos told reporters on a conference call, “this is one solution that can and should be considered. Keep in mind that among the ranks of teachers are military veterans who have had extensive training. Every state and every community is going to address this issue in a different way.” As the administration has reminded people, President Obama wanted to arm more people after the Sandy Hook tragedy — but he focused on school resource officers, which, as we saw in Parkland, may not be as effective as highly trained teachers themselves. What the White House doesn’t want to do is take more guns away from school officials. “A gun-free zone to a maniac — because they’re all cowards — a gun-free zone is, ‘Let’s go in and let’s attack, because bullets aren’t coming back at us.’”

Another piece of the president’s plan is establishing a Federal Commission on School Safety, which would be chaired by Secretary DeVos. The commission, administration officials say, would focus on several areas, like age restrictions for certain guns, entertainment ratings systems, violent video games, mental health treatment, funding for states to create threat assessment teams, and other recommendations. Apart from that, the president will keep the wheels in motion on tougher background checks, outlawing bump stocks, state-specific “risk protection orders,” and a formal review of the FBI’s tip line, which could (and should) have helped stop the attack in Parkland.

Fortunately, the president understands that these are important steps — but hardly the only ones. “The president,” assured Andrew Bremberg, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, “is determined to get to the root of the various societal issues that lead to violence in our country. No stone will be unturned.” Like us, he knows that Americans are facing a deeper problem than guns or even federal and state cooperation. If we want to reduce violence, we have to rebuild the family. That means an honest conversation about how the past several years of religious intolerance and outright hostility has kept this nation from focusing on what’s important. If Congress wants to stop these tragedies, then it has to start by encouraging the two things — faith and family — that can address the real problem: the human heart.

We can’t use laws to do what only God can. We have to get back to a basic understanding of right and wrong. As President George Washington warned in his farewell address, morality cannot be maintained without religion. If we want to become a more honest and decent people, the kind who care about human worth and dignity, then we can talk about access to guns — but we’ve also got to talk about access to God.

Nothing we do will matter if we don’t acknowledge that America has lost its way. As my friend Ken Blackwell says, “You can’t run faith out of the public square and not expect to have these sort of consequences.” So let’s protect our schools. Let’s harden the targets. But let’s work on softening hearts too.

Originally published here.

Rep. McKinley Shows a Mountain of Courage in Scuffle

Nothing probably annoys the Left more than knowing Congress is as conservative as ever. Two hundred forty-five of them picked up a True Blue award from FRC Action for voting with the family 100 percent of the time. West Virginia’s Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) was one of them. And, despite the LGBT lobby’s best efforts, he couldn’t be prouder.

Earlier this month, a radical group called Fairness West Virginia tried to talk McKinley into returning the award to FRC Action. Futilely, I might add. “As a member of the United States Congress who represents thousands of LGBTQ West Virginians,” Executive Director Andrew Schneider told local reporters, “Rep. McKinley should … categorically reject this endorsement from a hate group.” Using the same dangerous rhetoric as the Southern Poverty Law Center, Schneider blasted FRC for daring to oppose a reckless agenda that wants to obliterate gender, the natural family, and Americans’ fundamental freedoms.

The attack itself is ridiculous, since it’s rooted in the same anti-Christian prejudice as the SPLC’s — which (we shouldn’t have to remind Schneider) has been linked in federal court to domestic terrorism. Even now, SPLC continues to list people on its website like House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, whose shooter, James T. Hodgkinson, “liked” SPLC’s Facebook page. The SPLC has denigrated conservative leaders like Dr. Ben Carson and President Trump to the point that even the FBI, U.S. Army, and Obama Justice Department have distanced themselves from the group.

So when the Parkersburg News and Sentinel contacted McKinley for comment, it’s no surprise that he didn’t budge. “I’m not going to reject [the award],” the congressman insisted. He understands that the values he’s voting for are the same ones his constituents support. And, like 244 others in the House and Senate, he’s not ashamed to stand up for them!

Do you know how your leaders voted on key issues like abortion, Obamacare, judges, and tax cuts? Click here to find out. If you’re fortunate enough to have a representative like David McKinley, take a minute to let them know how much you appreciate their commitment to faith, family, and freedom!

Originally published here.

A Gerson of Interest

Groundhog Day was over in February — for everyone, apparently, but evangelicals. Every day, we wake up to the same headlines from people like Michael Gerson, whose incredulity over Christians’ support of the president is new every morning. With biting predictability, Gerson and company spill an inordinate amount of ink recycling the same shock that people with social values would stand by a man whose policies protect them. Hardly the stuff of breaking news.

Unfortunately, the subtle indictments of the church have gotten less subtle over time. What was once an earnest question has become an excuse for unwarranted attacks — on everything from Christians’ integrity to their authenticity. Instead of covering a story, they’re uncovering their own animus. And Michael Gerson is leading the charge.

In his latest (and most unoriginal) column, Gerson regurgitates his year-old talking points about the president’s moral failings, insisting that Christians — the biggest champions of grace and forgiveness — ought to somehow refuse both to Trump. “This is not mere gullibility; it is utter corruption. Blinded by political tribalism and hatred for their political opponents, these leaders can’t see how they are undermining the causes to which they once dedicated their lives. Little remains of a distinctly Christian public witness.” Hoping to add some credibility to his bluster, he tacks on a sentence or two about how “evangelical faith has shaped my life,” as if that makes his slander more trustworthy or palatable.

CBS’s “Face the Nation,” which, like most liberal outlets, is quite content beating this dead horse, invited Gerson on the show Sunday to elaborate, without, I should add, a countering perspective. Like other partisans masquerading as “journalists,” he insists evangelicals are hypocrites for not demanding a national recall of the president over 10-year-old allegations of infidelity. The host reminds Gerson that evangelicals’ support isn’t without cause. After all, the president has spent the year delivering on a long list of promises to his base. No matter, Gerson waves her off. “They are acting like, you know, slimy political operatives, not moral leaders. They are essentially saying, in order to get these benefits … they are willing to wink at Stormy Daniels and wink at misogyny and wink at nativism.”

Evangelicals, he goes on, “have not provided that moral judgment that I think leavens our politics or should leaven our politics.” I’m curious what kind of “moral judgment” Gerson thinks Christian leaders should be offering. This is, after all, behavior that happened in the past. Does Gerson think that Christians should continue piling on judgment for actions that, to our knowledge, no longer continue? No one is rationalizing or excusing his failings. But Americans — evangelicals included — elected Donald Trump with almost full knowledge of Trump’s past. As I’ve explained numerous times, it came down to him or Hillary Clinton, so Americans gave him a chance despite his past. Now that he’s earned their support with his actions as president, it’s our job to hold Donald Trump accountable for what he does in office. We can’t do anything about the past. If any immoral behavior were taking place on the president’s part today, Michael Gerson would be writing a very different story about the estrangement of Trump and his evangelical base.

For now, our support for the policies of this president is hardly the great mystery that liberal lackeys like Gerson claim it to be. This isn’t blind allegiance on the part of evangelicals or “slimy” opportunism. This is reasoned support for a political leader who has made and kept his campaign promises. If you want to know the real reason Gerson’s crowd is unhappy with evangelicals, it’s not because we’re hypocrites. It’s because we stand in the way of the Left’s designs, with the same ability to affect government that they’ve had for almost a decade. Their goal is to try and shame evangelicals into disengaging from the policies and elections that govern our lives and our ability to live according to our Christian faith.

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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