House GOP Takes Issue With Tissue
HHS may not have made up its mind about fetal tissue research, but House conservatives have! While the Trump administration finishes up its review of any projects that use aborted babies, the House decided to do a little investigating of its own. And pro-lifers are hoping NIH was listening.
Thursday’s hearings, hosted by a pair of Government Oversight subcommittees, zeroed in on the grisly practice of using taxpayer dollars to experiment on tiny human bodies. With the legislative session winding down, Chairmen Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) joined forces to highlight the problem before the new Democratic majority takes over. People in their districts, they said, were furious that their tax dollars not only support these kind of gruesome projects, but also go to organizations like Planned Parenthood — who profit from the sale of baby body parts.
“This is pretty simple,” said Rep. Jordan. “We don’t need the fetal body parts from babies to achieve scientific and medical achievements because we have alternatives that can do it.” A familiar face to FRC, Dr. David Prentice agreed, testifying that “There is no scientific necessity for the continued taxpayer funding of fresh fetal tissue, organs, and body parts from induced abortion. Ample scientific alternatives exist, and modern alternatives have overtaken any need for fresh fetal tissue.”
As most bioethicists would tell you, “If you’re surprised to find that fetal tissue has been used to treat and cure these diseases, you wouldn’t be alone because it’s simply not true.” Still, Democrats insisted, this tissue has “unique properties that are "necessary” to test HIV cures. One of the party’s witnesses, Dr. Temple, did confess that the undercover footage of Planned Parenthood’s baby body parts ring was “disturbing,” but also admitted that her company had purchased fetal tissue from one of the groups caught on David Daleiden’s videos.
While a lot of pro-lifers are encouraged by the news that NIH may put another $20 million into fetal tissue alternatives, their biggest goal remains the same. “I think emphatically there should be a wall built between the taxpayer dollars and the use of those dollars going toward aborted baby parts and the research thereof,” Congressman Jody Hice (R-Ga.) reiterated Thursday. He and GOP leaders are right. It’s time to put the government’s money where it belongs: in research that’s ethical and effective.
For more on this debate, check out our FRC Speaker Series event with Congressman Jim Banks (R-Ind.) below.
Originally published here.
College Campuses: America’s Biggest Speech Impediment?
The most dangerous threat to Americans may be the colleges teaching them. In a country where a majority of students are afraid to voice their views, here’s the irony: most campuses don’t allow it anyway. That’s the bottom line of a new report on U.S. colleges, where a whopping nine in 10 are the First Amendment’s worst enemy.
The survey, “Spotlight on Speech Codes 2019: The State of Free Speech on Our Nation’s Campuses,” combed through the policies of almost 500 American schools to see how well they protect free speech. Of the 466, a whopping 89.7 percent have rules that “restrict — or too easily could restrict — student and faculty expression.” To most people — especially parents with kids in college — it’s probably not a surprise that campuses are hostile to debate. What is a surprise is how widespread that hostility has become.
Laura Beltz, lead author of the report at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), was also taken aback by the depth of the censorship. “Colleges should be a place for open debate and intellectual inquiry, but today, almost all colleges silence expression through policies that are often illiberal and, at public institutions, unconstitutional.” Almost a quarter of the 466 universities got a red-light rating, the worst on FIRE’s scale. It’s important to point out, she explains, that this isn’t just a problem on public college campuses. Private schools are just as likely to crackdown on speech as the rest of them.
Amazingly, 11 states and the District of Columbia make up the bulk of the red-light campuses: Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, South Carolina, Vermont, Washington, and Wyoming. Some even have “free-speech zones,” which have either been struck down by the courts or negotiated away in settlements.
In a country that already has a First Amendment problem, the idea that colleges are creating even more antagonism for free speech is a scary prospect. There’s nothing more dangerous to a republic than the rise of totalitarians shutting down debate. Americans are already paying the price for years of political correctness. And now, even the supposed guardians of the free flow of ideas are nowhere to be found. “When was the last time you saw the American Civil Liberties Union stand up for free speech on college campuses?” Harvard Law Professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz asks.
“We can no longer count on the ACLU. We can no longer count on all college administrators. We have to count on people of good sense on college campuses to try to restore a situation where we can hear conservative points of views as well as liberal points of view.” The real heroes, he says, “are the students — the conservative students, the pro-Israel students, the students who stand up for free speech rather than the administrators, and the faculty who are prepared to go along with this censorship…” It only takes a few students to make a difference. Raise yours to have the courage to be one of them!
Originally published here.
Fair Mess for All
Compromise isn’t always a bad idea. (Ask any married couple!) But when it comes to the black and white of Scripture, nothing is more dangerous than a group of Christians willing to negotiate on truth. Their motivations may not be bad — but the consequences almost always are.
In a culture like ours, where a single cake could ruin your business, no one can blame Christians for being worried. With every headline, the war over religious liberty is hitting closer and closer to home. It’s landed on the doorsteps of florist shops, adoption agencies, French classes, pro sports — even pizza joints. And the threat is always the same: affirm or be punished. While so many Christians stand their ground, others are willing to do anything to spare themselves the fight — even if it means surrendering their core convictions to do it.
Last week, World magazine broke the story that two organizations — the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) — have decided that the only way to stop LGBT activists is to submit to them. In a quiet motion this fall, their boards reportedly voted to subjugate biblical teachings on gender and sexuality in exchange for a flimsy fence of protection around their organizations. They believe — quite naively — that if they give in to the Left’s demands, it will leave them alone. But the stories from the last decade paint a much different story.
On the far-Left, there’s no such thing as live and let live. Liberals may want tolerance, but that doesn’t mean they’ll give it. If the cases against florists, bakers, and other wedding vendors make anything clear, it’s that the LGBT agenda isn’t about meeting people halfway. So while “Fairness for All” is a noble pursuit, it can’t be achieved when special rights or extra-fairness are extended to some based on subjective, self-defined characteristics. That’s special fairness for some, and the persecution of the many.
“They’re trying to find a way to encourage the federal government to adopt sexual orientation and gender identity protections that would not come at the violation of religious liberty,” Al Mohler writes in a lengthy response everyone should read. “Now that sounds like the perfect deal politically, if it were possible… [But] it is not possible. You can state, as many will, that it is well intended. But a well-intended mistake is still a mistake. A well-intended wound to religious liberty is still a wound. And that’s what we’re looking at here.”
Unfortunately, what we’re also looking at is the complete abandonment of the Christian commission. In this day and age, everyone struggles to convey an exclusive gospel in an inclusive world. But the solution isn’t abandoning or changing the message — it’s conforming to it. If these organizations give up their core beliefs, what’s the point of carving out religious liberty protections? They won’t stand for anything worth protecting! “For what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness,” 2 Corinthians 6 asks, “or what fellowship has light with darkness?”
It’s human nature to avoid discomfort, but capitulations like this cause deeper pain later on. Look at the Boy Scouts. Five years after they expanded their ranks for inclusion’s sake, they’re packing up their tents and going home. Teetering on bankruptcy, unfocused, and unpopular, they’re miles away from the organization that used to be one of America’s proudest.
Even so, some Christians are willing to take the same path — all to save a tiny patch of ground that won’t mean anything when they’re done. “It’s a way of religious leaders saying we’re going to protect our churches, our denominations, and [our] most closely-held ministries… but…” Mohler warns, “[w]hen it comes to Christians in the marketplace, Christians in the workplace… and all the rest, we’re going to say you’ll simply have to defend yourself in court. We’ll hope for the best.” These groups would sell their identity for crumbs — and offer up men and women who are willing to stand on truth as a sacrifice in the process. Circling the wagons around religious institutions implies that we have an anemic First Amendment that falls short of guarantying that religious freedom to each and every American. Surely, we did not come this far in the defense of religious liberty to leave bakers, photographers, and thousands of other Christians twisting in the wind.
A partial gospel is no gospel at all. “How long will you go limping between two different opinions?” I Kings 18:21 says. “If the Lord is God, follow him.” There will be a lot of pressure, in the coming days, to wheel and deal on truth. But whoever gives up truth for the sake of peace will almost certainly lose both.
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.