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Right Opinion

Christian Colleges Press Their Suit on Mandate

Tony Perkins · May 18, 2018

On Obamacare’s eighth birthday, most Americans probably wanted to blow out the candles and wish it all away. The courts have certainly tried. Almost 100 lawsuits into this miserable failure, Obama’s train wreck of a health care law isn’t just unpopular with the American people but with judges too.

Ninety-one rulings into their fight for the abortion pill mandate, liberals have lost every case but three. For the pro-abortion Left, which is used to the friendly turf of the courts, the drubbing speaks to just how bad the law is. And it shows no sign of slowing. This week, a federal district court knocked the Left’s winning percentage down another peg when it sided with four Christian colleges that objected to paying for pills and procedures that violate their faith.

After a five-year legal battle they should’ve never had to fight, Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Oklahoma Baptist University, and Mid-America Christian University finally got the news they were hoping for: The threat of government punishment is over. Judge Stephen Friot agreed that “Plaintiffs have demonstrated, and Defendants now concede, that requiring Plaintiffs to comply with [the HHS mandate], to the extent such compliance contradict[s] Plaintiffs’ religious beliefs, violates their rights protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” Forcing these campuses to violate their faith would make them “suffer irreparable harm,” Friot wrote in his order, which granted the schools complete and permanent relief from the Obamacare mandate.

Our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom, who are representing these universities (and others), celebrated the decision now a half-decade in the making. “These universities no longer have to fear being forced to pay fines for simply abiding by the Christian beliefs they teach and espouse, and they are no longer required to fill out forms authorizing coverage for abortion-inducing drugs,” Senior Counsel Greg Baylor explained. “The government has many other ways to ensure access to these drugs without forcing people of faith to violate their deepest convictions.”

Before President Trump, abortion activists could lean on the Justice Department to argue for the mandate in court. Now that crutch is gone, and liberals are on their own to argue a losing case. The DOJ under this White House refuses to lift a finger to defend a policy as flawed and unconstitutional as Obama’s. If anything, President Trump only made the Left’s job harder when he broadened the pool of people who could take advantage of the mandate’s exemptions.

Unfortunately, the nightmare for religious liberty isn’t over yet. The only way to resolve that — and the laundry list of problems with the law — is to repeal it altogether. And believe it or not, that’s still a possibility. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) hasn’t given up on conservatives’ top gripe, telling reporters Wednesday that he plans to take another crack at the bill he and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) floated last year. “I’m just trying to get a product together,” Graham explained. “We’re talking to everybody.” Including the president. Asked if the White House would back another shot at repeal, Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said yes. “The White House fully supports the efforts of a broad coalition working to address the Obamacare disaster and increase affordable healthcare options for middle-class Americans.”

For the sake of American families and freedom, let’s hope they try.

Originally published here.

Natural Porn Leaders

If you’re ambivalent about the crisis of pornography in America, The New York Times can change that. Almost instantly. The paper jolted an entire nation into caring with its jarring February exposé, “What Teenagers Are Learning from Online Porn” (warning: extremely graphic). If their stories don’t shock, repulse, sober, and motivate you, nothing will.

What our kids are stumbling on isn’t your grandfather’s pornography. These aren’t Playboy magazines stashed under a teenage boy’s bed. These are raw, violent, and nauseating videos that they don’t have to sneak into a store for. Every child has a world full of porn at their fingertips. Every time they hold a cell phone or log on to a laptop, the door is open to a life-changing experience that could kill the relationships in their lives forever.

Porn is everywhere, and the research is grim. States are lining up to declare it a public health hazard, and while a handful of people might mock the wave of legislation, Americans on both sides of the aisle are realizing this is an actual catastrophe. These sites, the same ones teaching kids a distorted and twisted version of sex, get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined. These are the actors who are being exploited for an industry that’s tied to the dark world of trafficking, domestic violence, child abuse, and abortion. This is the sinister trade that’s teaching men to dehumanize women, leading spouses to stray from marriages, and destroying intimacy the world over.

This is no longer a Republican or Democratic issue. It’s an American issue, and if more people don’t stand up and do something about it, we risk losing society as we know it. Nine states have agreed, passing resolutions that make fighting pornography a priority of local communities. Missouri could be next. Calling it a “disturbing and invasive social evil,” Resolution 52 sailed out of the Missouri state senate to the house. “Pornography has become the cancer that nobody [wants to talk] about,” one local leader said. “Almost everyone has been personally impacted by porn or knows someone who has… SCR 52 breaks the silence in Missouri by declaring to the world that pornography is a public health crisis.”

This is no longer someone else’s problem. It affects our playgrounds, our politics, even our pulpits. The devastation to marriages and families and teenagers is real. “We are supposed to be in the midst of a great sexual reassessment,” Ross Douthat argued in a New York Times piece, “a clearing-out of assumptions that serve misogyny and impose bad sex on semi-willing women. And such a reassessment will be incomplete if it never reconsiders our surrender to the idea that many teenagers, most young men especially, will get their sex education from online smut… The belief that it should not be restricted is a mistake; the belief that it cannot be censored is a superstition. Law and jurisprudence changed once and can change again.”

As a parent, I can’t encourage you strongly enough to take this issue seriously. Yes, it’s an uncomfortable topic. But it’s a lot less uncomfortable than dealing with the sexual abuse, addictions, disease, and broken relationships that follow. If you don’t know what to say, start here, here or here. It might be one of the most important conversations you have.

Originally published here.

JP Morgan Makes a Hefty Deposit in SPLC

As bankers, JP Morgan Chase ought to know a bad investment when it sees one. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop the company from forking over a half-million-dollar gift to the extremists at Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Worse still, at a recent shareholder meeting, CEO Jamie Dimon had no good reason for it.

The bank’s head of corporate responsibility explains the $500,000 donation by saying it wanted to “further SPLC’s work in tracking, exposing and fighting hate groups and other extremist organizations.” The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel sees it differently. “Let’s not mince words: By funding this list, J.P. Morgan and Apple are saying they support labeling Christian organizations that oppose gay marriage as ‘hate groups.’ That may come as a sour revelation to any bank customers who have donated to the Family Research Council (a mainstream Christian outfit on the SPLC’s list) or whose rights are protected by the Alliance Defending Freedom (which litigates for religious freedom and is also on the list).”

These corporate donations (Apple sent $1 million to SPLC) are appalling, she argues. “This undermines the fight against truly hateful groups. Comparing pro bono lawyers at the Alliance Defending Freedom to hood-wearing KKK members only make the Klan seem more innocuous. Blackballing mainstream groups only silences the moderate voices the country needs to fight hate and bigotry. Corporations have a role to play in calming today’s divisions. This is the opposite.”

The folks at National Center for Public Policy Research decided to do something about it. Justin Danhof of the group’s Free Enterprise Project drafted a shareholder resolution explaining how detrimental JP Morgan Chase’s contribution was to the real cause of intolerance. They ignored it. So Danhof did something the company couldn’t ignore: He publicly questioned the CEO at the recent shareholders meeting. Even The New York Times had criticized the company’s judgment, he explained. Reading from the paper, he said “[I]f Jamie Dimon had done [his] due diligence, [he] would know that the SPLC is an organization that has lost its way, smearing people who are fighting for liberty.”

“Can you explain to us investors,” Danhof pressed, “why JP Morgan is funding anti-religious bigotry and provocation of violence? And what do you have to say to the numerous conservative and religious leaders who have been ascribed such hateful labels by the SPLC?” Dimon blinked and said nothing. His secretary scrambled to answer, but it was too late. The point had already been made.

Afterward, Danhof told reporters: “It’s disappointing, but also telling, that Dimon stood silent in the face of my question. Since he answered a majority of the other shareholder questions, he surely would have spoken up if he had any logical defense for the company’s involvement with the SPLC. Furthermore, my dialogue with other JP Morgan Chase executives — both regarding our previous shareholder proposal and at today’s meeting — leads me leads me to believe that the company may no longer donate to the SPLC. We will certainly be watching.”

If companies want to join in the SPLC’s reckless effort to put a target on the backs of its political opponents, that’s their prerogative. But they shouldn’t be surprised when customers exercise theirs to take business elsewhere.

Originally published here.

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

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