House Dems Out to Get Religion
One of the most important religious freedom laws in America turns 25 this Friday. But will it make it to 26? House Democrats are doing everything it can to ensure it doesn't.
One of the most important religious freedom laws in America turns 25 this Friday. But will it make it to 26? House Democrats are doing everything it can to ensure it doesn’t.
A quarter of a century ago, nothing about religious liberty was controversial. In fact, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was so popular that all but three members of Congress voted yes. When Bill Clinton signed RFRA into law, no one dreamed that two decades later, his same party would be trying to sanctimoniously kill the law.
For most Americans, the Democrats’ shift hasn’t exactly been subtle. A party platform that mentioned God seven times in 2004 kicked him out in 2012. A senator who said, “We worship an awesome God” in 2004 declared war on faith as president a few years later. Now, a party that almost unanimously agreed that the government shouldn’t undermine religion in 1993 has 172 cosponsors to scrap RFRA and take a sledgehammer to our First Freedom. And they’ll have control of the House to advance their attack.
In an important column for the Washington Examiner, Ernest Istook points out that one of the people behind this push is about to become the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). Of course, he and the rest of his party want you to believe that Democrats wouldn’t destroy RFRA, they’d just carve out areas where it wouldn’t apply — like marriage, sexual orientation, gender identity, abortion, health care, and any other area where long standing religious beliefs clashed with the vogue values of the Left’s agenda.
“In short,” Istook explains, “an explicit constitutional right would be declared less important than other claims never mentioned in the Constitution and often not even legislated by elected officials.” The repeal of RFRA, he warns, would be a nightmare for men and women of faith – especially Christians, who just want the freedom to live out their beliefs in peace. That’ll be incredibly hard to do, Istook warns, since the Democrats’ bill would wipe out the Supreme Court victories in the Hobby Lobby and Masterpiece Cakeshop cases. The world that Chai Feldblum envisioned will have finally arrived. Asked what should happen when religious liberty clashed with the LGBT agenda, Obama’s EEOC chief said she’d have “a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.” The modern Democratic Party agrees.
The good news, for now, is that the GOP-controlled Senate would never go along with something as extreme as gutting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The bad news — at least for the Democratic party — is that neither will their heartland base. Not everyone is on board with the Left’s hard turn on religion. As Yale’s Stephen Carter wrote, “When you mock Christians, you’re not mocking who you think you are.” And if Democrats aren’t careful, they’ll fall right down the God gap they’ve created.
“Spend much time in secular progressive circles,” David French writes, “and you’ll quickly encounter the kind of sneering, anti-Christian elitism evident in pieces such as the recent New Yorker creed against Chick-fil-A. But this culture is fundamentally at odds with the lived experience of the Democratic party’s black and Latino base.” In their beliefs, Pew Research Center warned earlier this year, “nonwhite Democrats more closely resemble Republicans than white Democrats.” That’s significant — not just because it creates tension in the Democratic Party, but, as French points out, “to the extent that faith informs politics, it could crack open the progressive coalition.”
Just last week, exit polling showed how misguided the Democrats’ war on religious expression is. Of all the competing social values — life, marriage, privacy, gender identity — religious liberty was far and away the most popular consensus issue. When McLaughlin & Associates asked 1,000 Americans if the government “should leave people free to follow their beliefs,” a whopping 70 percent of the respondents said yes. Only 18 percent agreed with this radical crusade to end religious liberty as we know it.
In a lot of ways, it’s the Democrats’ liberal agenda that’s boxed them into a godless corner. They’ve had to become hostile to public faith because it acknowledges a moral standard. And when you embrace policies that are antithetical to the stated values of any orthodox religion — like same-sex marriage or abortion — there’s only one way to reconcile it. You get rid of faith — or, at the very least marginalize it.
Make no mistake: The threat to RFRA from Democrats is real. But so is the threat to Democrats if they keep alienating faith and the voters who embrace it.
Originally published here.
Permission Impossible? Racy Video Takes Parents by Surprise
It was supposed to be a video about sexual consent, so why weren’t parents asked for their consent to show it? Good question, Breitbart’s Susan Berry points out. Pine View High School is scrambling to answer it, but the damage — families say — has already been done. And the culprit is a familiar one: Planned Parenthood.
English Literature doesn’t have anything to do with sex education, but that didn’t stop teachers from using the class to show a hugely controversial video. The footage, which included a man groping a woman’s chest and same-sex couples making out, was dropped into the weekly curriculum without so much as a courtesy letter home. Now, the local Fox affiliate reports, the school board is getting “a flood of e-mails, phone calls and Facebook [comments].”
Eric Robinson, a school board member, understands why moms and dads would be so upset. The content (which you can watch for yourself on Breitbart) is so graphic, he points out, “As an adult it can be hard to watch without being uncomfortable.” Imagine, Robinson goes on, how a teenager would respond.
The video, which Planned Parenthood produced, was shown by their partners at the Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center (SPARCC). For now, parents are so outraged that the district is suspending SPARCC from other programs until they can comb through all of the materials. In the meantime, SPARCC has apologized. “The staff member did not follow established protocol regarding the programming presented, and the organization has acted to ensure that this does not happen again.”
Unfortunately for SPARCC, the problem is much bigger than a staffer not following protocol. The larger issue is that this kind of material is being shown to kids at all. But what do we expect from Planned Parenthood — who, Dr. Berry warns, hired a former director at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis as its vice president of education? That person, Sara Flowers, has made it quite clear that her job isn’t discouraging unhealthy life choices, but using Planned Parenthood’s platform to encourage them. “Right now, it’s more important than ever that we respond to the evolving needs of young people and ensure that they have access to sex education that’s inclusive of all people, sex-positive, shame-free, and skills-based.”
More than a half-billion tax dollars a year are being funneled to Planned Parenthood, and their idea of teen health is “sex-positive” education? Parents across the country need to be on alert that extremists — including America’s biggest abortion business — are co-opting school curriculum to put these graphic messages in front of kids. When it comes to sensitive, controversial, or even inappropriate subject matter, parents — not bureaucrats, schools, or any other outside group — should have the final say in what their children are taught. Too many families don’t do their homework about what their kids are learning. Don’t be one of them!
Originally published here.
Promoting Marriage Makes Cents
If you’re looking for financial stability, bank on marriage! That’s the consensus of a new Gallup survey of investors, who said the two life events that had the most positive effect on a person’s portfolio are tying the knot and buying a house. Most of us think of marriage as a cultural and religious institution — but it’s also an economic one. And what happens to the family has big implications — not just for you, but the country as a whole.
The results, which come as no surprise to anyone who’s studied the social science on healthy families, were part of a Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index. For the purposes of the poll, they defined U.S. investors as any adult with “$10,000 or more invested in stocks, bonds or mutual funds, either within or outside a retirement savings account.” Not only were marriage and home-ownership the most common experiences people shared, but they were also the most constructive.
More than eight in 10 investors who have bought a home (84 percent) say the overall impact of this action was positive on their personal finances. Saying “I do” was a close second, coming in just below 80 percent. Having a child, which 62 percent of the investors did, was also considered beneficial.
Unfortunately for a lot of young people, the prospects of buying a house and settling down are lot more difficult now than they were for their parents or grandparents. Saddled with massive student loans and the high costs of living, more millennials are living at home than ever before. According to the latest report, 22.9 million of this generation have moved back home, compared to the 19.9 million who are married and living with their spouse. That’s a huge drop-off from the mid-70s when 31.9 million Americans tied the knot and started homes of their own. And while people are still getting married – much later in life — it takes until age 45 for eight in 10 people to walk down the aisle now.
When they do, it confirms what groups like FRC have said for years. When people get married, they have a greater appreciation for social stability. Then, when those same couples buy a home, they become more aware of the factors that drive the economy and taxes. History — and most statistical data – also shows that young people tend to become more religious as they grow up, get married, and start families of their own. The growing pains of young adulthood usually translate to more thoughtful cultural engagement after they take on more responsibility. That’s important since “the intact married family that worships weekly is the greatest generator of human and social positive outcomes.”
But the longer couples put off tying the knot, the more difficult it is to save people from crippling debt or poverty. That’s why promoting marriage and children — in that order — isn’t just important to families, but to the future of America.
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.