Tony Perkins / May 25, 2019

Orchard Suit Plants Doubts About Bogren

You will know them by their fruits, Matthew 7:20 says. And in the case of a Michigan orchard farm, that seems especially true of the man picking the fight.

You will know them by their fruits, Matthew 7:20 says. And in the case of a Michigan orchard farm, that seems especially true of the man picking the fight. Attorney Michael Bogren says he was just doing his job in court when he compared a Christian couple to the KKK for believing in natural marriage. But now that he’s up for a lifetime promotion, Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) wants to know: Just how much of “that job” will he be bringing to the federal bench?

When Steve and Bridget Tennes took over Country Mill Orchard, the husband and wife team made one thing clear: they’d never shy away from their faith. Now, thanks to the city of East Lansing, they stand to lose a big chunk of business because of it. All it took was a simple Facebook post to turn the family’s word upside down. On their social media page, someone had asked the family what they thought about marriage. The owners of the farm answered honestly: it’s the sacred union of a man and woman.

Liberal officials were horrified. They banned the Tenneses from the local farmer’s market, where the couple had spent seven years. But as military veterans, Steve and Bridget weren’t about to let the city go without a fight. So they sued. As the case dragged on, the city’s attorney got more hostile. “The message isn’t that Catholics need not apply,” he told them, but that “discriminators need not apply.” Now, the same man spouting that intolerance – Michael Bogren – is on his way to a permanent seat on the court where the case is still being argued.

For the Trump administration, who’s rarely has a bad apple in the judicial bunch, Bogren’s nomination came as a surprise. As Senator Hawley told pastors at our Watchmen on the Wall conference Thursday, “I can’t think of another president in my lifetime who’s been as pro-life and as pro-religious freedom as President Trump has been – [including] the judges he’s nominated to the bench.” But, he went on, “Having said that, it’s my job as a member of the Judiciary Committee to make sure that our judges who we’re confirming for the bench actually hold to the Constitution…”

It’s a job he took very seriously Wednesday, when he grilled Bogren over the Tennes’s case. At one point, Bogren tried to explain away his attack on religious liberty as just “represent[ing] clients. Nothing personal. But to Christians across this country, who’ve lost their share of freedom under activist judges, Hawley assured him: it’s very personal.

HAWLEY: "You compared, in your briefs, a Catholic family’s adherence to the teachings of their church to the activities of the KKK and the teachings of radical imams. Do you stand by those statements?”

BOGREN: “… I don’t mean to quibble, senator, but I was trying to make a point about what the next step would be and how one would have to – not be able to draw a principled distinction.”

HAWLEY: “So you think those things are equivalent? You think that the Catholic family’s pointing to the teachings of their church is equivalent to a KKK member invoking Christianity?”

BOGREN: “I stand by those comparisons. From a legal perspective, there’s no distinction.”

Hawley was dumbfounded. This was Bogren’s opportunity to offer some sort of apology – not just for his prejudiced defense, but for taking the case in the first place! As FRC’s Travis Weber pointed out on “Washington Watch,” attorneys in that situation always have a choice. If he had a problem with the city’s position, he could have withdrawn from the suit. Senator Hawley pressured Bogren because he needed to know if how he approached this case is how he would approach every case. “We need solid originalists on the bench,” Travis agreed, “textualists, who will look at the law and apply the law. We have to know they’re going to be rock solid and not swayed by public opinion.”

If Wednesday’s hearing was supposed to reassure Republicans, Bogren didn’t do himself any favors. This is a federal court, Hawley warned our pastors. “It’s a lifetime appointment. This is not about personality or anything like that. This is about the law… You know, the Supreme Court, in a very important case last year, said that government officials cannot treat Americans with sincere religious beliefs with disdain. They cannot treat you as second-class citizens… I mean, I can’t believe that someone like this would be on the bench – which is why, if I have anything to say about it, he won’t be.”

It’s a moment, NRO’s Michael Dougherty pointed out, that some conservatives won’t forget. “Hawley demonstrated an understanding that is rare among Republicans,” Dougherty wrote. He turned the entire argument on its head by arguing that it’s not Christians who are “unqualified to hold a public trust” – but the men and women who call their beliefs hateful.

“Hawley understands instinctively that Catholics and Evangelicals will lose their institutions – their hospitals, colleges, and charities – if they submit to the progressive pretense that their religion makes them indistinguishable from racist terrorists. Americans let the KKK march in their idiotic uniforms, but no one would tolerate them running a college, hospital, or home-school cooperative. Hawley’s willingness to pick a surprise fight will put other judicial nominees on notice.”

You can help. Contact your senators and those on the Senate Judiciary Committee and urge them to vote no on Michael Bogren.

Originally published here.

HHS Rules the Day

It’s been three years since Barack Obama tried to magically change the definition of “sex” without Congress’s input. For President Trump’s team, it’s a mess they’ve been trying to mop up since he won the election. From school bathrooms to insurance plans, this administration has spent the better part of its first term righting the LGBT wrongs of the last administration. And Friday, Health and Human Services (HHS) turned back the clocks on one of the biggest: gender identity in health care.

“When Congress prohibited ‘sex discrimination,’ it did so according to the plain meaning of the term, and we are making our regulations conform,” said Office of Civil Rights Director Roger Severino. “The American people want vigorous protection of civil rights and faithfulness to the text of the laws passed by their representatives,” said Severino. “The proposed rule would accomplish both goals.”

Under the Obama rule, gender wasn’t based on objective, biological realities. And if you were a doctor, nurse, or clinician who disagreed, you’d have been punished. Like most liberals, the 44th president thought health care providers should be forced to provide things like gender reassignment surgeries – even if it was against their beliefs or harmful to the patient. President Trump wasted no time putting the brakes on his predecessor’s war on conscience. For the purposes of his administration, the Justice Department explained, “sex discrimination” would not include “gender identity.”

Laura Durso, vice president of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress, told the Washington Post that HHS’s interpretation of that policy would give hospitals and insurers “a sweeping license to discriminate” – which is ridiculous, FRC’s Mary Beth Waddell points out, since Obama’s rule was under injunction. “So it’s never gone into effect,” she said, “Meaning that it will not change the way anyone has received service.”

In the meantime, Dr. Michelle Cretella, head of the American College of Pediatricians, is relieved. Gender identity, she’s explained, is a very real threat to modern health care – not the other way around. “Transgenders are saying, ‘I think and feel this way, therefore, I am.’ And it’s one thing for us to, as physicians, treat the person with respect and honor their name change, but it would be a complete malpractice to treat them as the opposite sex.”

As she explains, there is nothing any of us can do to change our binary, biologically-determined-at-conception sex. “A man on estrogen is not a woman. He is a man with a male physiology on estrogen, and that’s how a physician must approach him.” The very serious problem, she points out, is that people are so ideologically-driven that they want to ignore the medical research. More than ever, Dr. Cretella says, “Medicine is at the point now where we understand that men and women have – at a minimum – 6,500 genetic differences between us. And this impacts every cell of our bodies – our organ systems, how diseases manifest, how we diagnose, and even treat in some cases.”

Treating a person differently based on their feelings isn’t just harmful, she argues, but deadly. In cases like heart disease, certain drugs can endanger women and not men. Even diagnoses present differently in men and women. The symptoms for certain diseases, she explains, can manifest themselves in completely opposite ways. “And these are nuances that medicine is finally studying and bringing to light. And it’s actually ironic that the transgender movement [is] so anti-science.”

“There is absolutely no rigorous science that has found a trait called ‘gender identity’ in the brain, body, or DNA. Now sex – I can show you that. It’s in our chromosomes. It’s in the body. It’s in the reproductive organs. Over 99.98 percent of the times, our sexual development is clearly and unambiguously either male or female.” The sex differences, she explains are real and consequential.

If she had one message for America, Dr. Cretella said, it would be this: “Stick with science.” Thank goodness for us, the president has.

Originally published here.

Never Forget

A lot of things have changed in America over the last several years, and how we treat Memorial Day is one of them. I remember as a kid all of the parades and veterans – and how we stood and honored the flag. Fast-forward a generation and suddenly, people don’t just miss the significance of the holiday – they miss its entire meaning!

According to a shocking new Harris Poll, only 55 percent of this country can explain the purpose behind Memorial Day is to honor the fallen from our nation’s wars. If you want to know why that’s significant, look at millennials, FRC’s Lt. General Jerry Boykin says. Half of them aren’t proud to be Americans, a recent survey shows. “Now, if you stop and think about it, what Memorial Day is all about is honoring those that gave the last full measure, honoring those who died fighting for this country. If young adults really knew what a sacrifice that has been made by those men and women that have stepped up and said, ‘Here am I – send me’ by giving their lives in service to this country, they would certainly have more pride.”

We can talk about what’s not happening in our schools. We can talk about what’s not happening in our culture. But maybe we should be talking about what should be happening in our homes as parents and grandparents. What are some ways, I asked General Boykin, that some ways that that we can honor America with our kids?

“First of all, how you treat the American flag says a lot to those that are observing you. I have a big flagpole in my yard and you’ve seen it. But I want my children and my grandchildren, especially, to see me handle the flag – with reverence. I want them to understand that flag is more than a piece of cloth that not only represents an incredible history with a lot of sacrifice, but also hope for the future. Hope for the world.” The other thing we have to do is encourage our children to read history by making it fun for them and getting them into programs that encourage it. For more than 230 years, men and women have given their lives to a cause greater than themselves. When we lost sight of what that cause is, there’s no reason to make such a costly sacrifice.

A lot of schools have stopped teaching history – and that’s very deliberate. One of the most poignant statements in George Orwell’s 1984 is that he who controls the present controls the past– and who controls the past controls the future. And there’s no greater illustration of that than what’s happening in our schools today, as secularists try to destroy this idea of American exceptionalism, because they know that exceptionalism is rooting in a biblical Christian foundation.

The message of our roots is important – and as an Americans, we need to be able to identify with the history and sacrifice that went into building this country. This weekend, the best gift we can give to a family who’s lost a hero in uniform is that you’ll cherish what they died for. Let’s pray more people take that to heart this weekend as we honor and give thanks for the brave men and women who made this country possible.

Originally published here.

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

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