It’s Not About Wedding CakesOct. 18, 2017
What’s all the hype about wedding cakes in recent days? And why will a lawsuit involving a cake maker prove to be the most closely-watched and scrutinized decision the U.S. Supreme Court announces all year? You might even be thinking: Well I like cake and all, but who knew it was that important?
If you hadn’t picked up on it by now, when it comes to cultural battles – and especially the ones played out at the level of the Supreme Court – the issue is almost never really the issue. That is to say, the seemingly small thing over which highly divergent metaphysical universes are colliding is simply the vehicle chosen to carry a more fundamental idea across the goal line. In this latest faceoff, that vehicle is a cake designer and his creation of a custom wedding cake.
While a wedding cake is not exactly a need for human survival, nor something that the average person encounters in his daily life, there is at stake within this cake a very fundamental value, which for one side may be the most fundamental of all: An individual’s right to live according to the dictates of his conscience, informed by his sincerely-held religious beliefs. On the opposite side stands the alleged right to be free from discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation” in places of “public accommodation.”
The competing questions could thus be posed: Should a wedding cake artist/designer be forced to create a cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony if doing so would violate his deeply-held religious beliefs about the nature of marriage and thereby make him feel complicit in celebrating something he believes dishonors God? And on the other side: Should a person be denied a service by a business, who holds itself out as serving the public, on the basis of that person’s sexual practices and preferences or because they hold a different view about the nature of marriage and wish to celebrate it accordingly?
Prudent minds should be raising an important question: Can’t Christian cake artists and same-sex couples who want a custom wedding cake peacefully coexist? Is it really too much to ask that each side gets what it wants, and everyone can go home happy?
Yes and no. But it depends on who’s being asked.
It would seem that if Christian cake artists can do business without violating their consciences and same-sex couples can still get their dream wedding cake, then there is really no conflict after all. And if that’s the case, we can all just get on with our lives. The universes need not collide.
As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what unraveled here. After Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop declined to design a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple, other local bakeries responded by offering to design a wedding cake for them and give it to them for FREE. My goodness – that sounds like more than a win-win. In the end, the same-sex couple was actually better off. Not only did it become quickly apparent that the couple had plenty of options for willing cake designers, but some even wanted to go above and beyond to bless them in their circumstances.
Jack Phillips, on the other hand, was arguably worse off, since the public backlash against him for his decision not to design the couple’s wedding cake caused his business to lose about 40% of its revenue. But from Jack’s perspective, his commitment to God is more important than money or popularity, and at least he gets to continue to live his life – including running his business – in accordance with his faith.
But lest we forget, this was never about a wedding cake. The same-sex couple decided to sue Jack anyway, willing even to press their cause all the way to the highest court in the land. For this couple and the many like them who feel vicariously represented, it’s not enough to “live and let live.” It isn’t sufficient that they be able to obtain the services they’re looking for, even if it can’t be from Jack. No, they must ensure that no one ever dares to suggest that their concepts of marriage and sexuality are anything but normal, beautiful and good. Not only must Jack create for them a cake if they want one; he must join with them in celebrating a union anathema to his most deeply-held convictions. And he must serve as an example to all others like him that they had better give up their religious convictions about marriage and sexuality or else be ready to forfeit their business, their reputation, and their livelihood.
That’s what this case is really about.
While the Supreme Court may have recently granted a newfound right for same-sex couples to participate in the union called marriage, it did not (and indeed, cannot) grant to them the ability to deny to others their long-recognized freedoms, like Jack Phillips’ rights to free exercise of religion, speech, and expression in choosing not to design a cake for a religious ceremony. As the saying goes, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Or better yet, “You can’t have your cake and deny others their freedom too.”
Rest assured, this case never was about wedding cakes. At base it’s about whether we as a society will continue to recognize that each person has a supreme duty to God and that the rest of us, therefore, have a corresponding duty to permit them to fulfill it. No less than this determination is at stake when the Supreme Court renders its opinion. As it does so, the Justices would do well to consider the following portion of Article I Section 16 of Virginia’s Bill of Rights:
“That religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and, therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other. No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain their opinions in matters of religion, and the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”
Maybe it's freedom that's at stake?Oct. 18, 2017
There’s been a lot of banter on Virginia political blogs recently about the state of Ralph Northam’s campaign for governor and just how accurate are polls showing a statistical dead heat. Some are reporting internal grumblings among Democrats that indicate serious concerns within that party over Northam’s campaign just a few weeks out from Election Day.
A test of whether or not there is true concern can often be found in the pages of the Washington Post. And, sure enough, there have been a series of recent articles from Post reporters seeking to stir up controversy over everything from Republican candidate Ed Gillespie’s direct mail pieces to his fundraising. (Not to mention some pretty bogus polling numbers.)
Their goal: drive Northam’s base into a frenzy so they’ll actually show up to vote and discourage potential Gillespie voters who don’t want to vote for what the Post wants them to believe is a losing candidate.
But this is the Post headline that takes the cake in hyperbole:
“Future of Public Education at Stake in Virginia’s Governor Race”
Que the left wing hysteria!
Imagine that. The entire future of public education rests on our gubernatorial race.
It should surprise no one that the entire article attacks Gillespie for his support of policies that would give families more education freedom. The article proceeds with a litany of accusations about how terrible it would be if parents are provided more options than the school to which their child is assigned based on nothing more than their zip code. Everything from charter schools to Education Savings Accounts is attacked as “Bad for Kids” according to numerous quotes from those opposed to parental freedom, namely the education establishment.
The article countered with quotes from supporters of education freedom…oh wait, never mind. There are no quotes in the article from supports of education freedom. None. Anywhere. Zero.
There are, of course, lots of scare quotes about Betsy DeVos, current U.S. Secretary of Education, who has used a personal fortune to advance the cause of education freedom.
Northam makes it clear that he hates the idea of “unaccountable, private organizations” educating children. His assumption being that parents aren’t capable of holding private schools accountable, making government run schools the only option. Yet, private schools are thriving, growing, and producing students who are doing just fine, thank you, with little – and all unwanted – government involvement. All the while being held accountable by the people paying tuition. You know, sorta like a “free market.” Imagine that.
Fearing competition reveals a lack of confidence in your product. The education establishment is terrified that parents might actually get some freedom and make choices for their kids that run counter to what the establishment wants. This would mean parents are in control, not the education power brokers, and that is their real fear – and perhaps what the Post means when it desperately claims that the future of public ed is at stake.
VA Federal Court Dismisses "Sexual Orientation"Oct. 04, 2017
A federal court in Virginia acknowledged last week that “sexual orientation” is not the same thing as a person’s “sex” under Title IX, which deals with civil rights in educational settings. In other words, “sex” still means male and female – the same as it meant when Congress wrote the law decades ago. As a result, Virginia schools and universities that receive federal funds shouldn’t fall prey to claims of discrimination based on the progressive left’s concept of “sexual orientation.”
Given that it is the “sexual orientation” portions of many non-discrimination laws and ordinances that are now being used to penalize and even criminalize people for their faith – people like Christian cake artist Jack Phillips, or Christian florist Barronelle Stutzman and many others – it’s critical that Virginians don’t invite in through our courts and legislature what has become a Trojan horse for many other states. It is for this reason that The Family Foundation has opposed legislation that would elevate sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) to protected classes in Virginia law. We fear that such laws would further weaponize the government against those who choose to not participate in events that violate their faith.
This case is important because it affirms that no federal court in Virginia, including the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals which encompasses the state of Virginia, has interpreted sex discrimination under federal law to include the concept of a person’s “sexual orientation.”
During the past two legislative sessions in Richmond, The Family Foundation has championed a religious freedom bill that would shield religious schools and charities from government penalties or the loss of benefits simply for observing policies consistent with their long-held religious beliefs about marriage. We helped get the bill to Governor McAuliffe’s desk both years, and both times he vetoed it.
Rest assured we’ll continue to fight for religious liberty and conscience rights for all. Hopefully this year we’ll get a Governor who will stand up for religious liberty. In the meantime, it’s helpful that Virginia’s state and federal courts are still holding the line.
Censoring SermonsSep. 27, 2017
For more than 60 years, the IRS has used the “Johnson Amendment” to censor what churches and pastors preach from the pulpit. Under the Johnson Amendment, pastors' First Amendment rights have become bargaining chips to be exchanged for a tax status. Pastors who share truth on biblical issues – like the sanctity of life and marriage – could risk intrusive IRS audits, incur steep fines, and even jeopardize their church’s tax-exempt status.
It’s time to fix the Johnson Amendment. Right now, we have the opportunity to restore free speech to all nonprofits, including churches and their leaders, through the Free Speech Fairness Act sponsored by Oklahoma Senator, and former youth pastor, James Lankford.
The FSFA is the culmination of nearly 10 years of advocacy to fix the Johnson Amendment and put an end to IRS intimidation and censorship of America’s pulpits. Unfortunately, a small, but vocal, group of religious organizations is petitioning Congress to keep the Johnson Amendment. We need to ensure that Congress hears from the rest of our religious leaders, who overwhelmingly believe that pastors and churches should be free to apply Scripture to every aspect of life—including candidates and elections—as their conscience requires.
If you are a pastor, please read the letter and consider signing your name in support of this important bill. If you're not a pastor, please encourage your pastor to sign today.
By signing your name to the letter, your voice will join a nationwide movement of pastors calling on Congress to pass the Free Speech Fairness Act and restore freedom of speech to America’s pulpits. Visit www.pulpitfreedom.org to learn more.
See You at the Pole!Sep. 21, 2017
The annual “See You at the Pole” event for schools is just one week away on Wednesday, September 27th starting at 7:00 a.m. All around the globe, in every time zone, students will be gathering at their school’s flagpoles, praying for their school, friends, families, churches, and communities. Young people are encouraged to line up prayer support and help from their youth pastors and parents for this student-led event. You can find out more details at syatp.com.
We encourage you to have your students participate. If there’s anything our state and nation need right now, it’s more prayer. And next on that list would have to be unity. This is a great opportunity for your family to take part in fostering both.
Additionally, we want to encourage your students to participate in the annual “Bring Your Bible To School Day” on Thursday, October 5th. On that day, thousands of students across the country will share God’s hope and celebrate religious freedom by doing something simple, yet powerful: They’ll bring their Bibles to school and talk about it with friends! You can learn more about it atwww.bringyourbible.org.
Even if in some school classrooms the Bible and prayer are no longer incorporated into educational curricula, nothing is prohibiting individual students from praying and bringing their Bibles into their classrooms or from incorporating them into discussions with their classmates.
We hope you and your family will consider taking part in these two simple yet incredible opportunities.
Abortion Group: Free Abortions for Flood VictimsSep. 11, 2017
Do you live in or near Houston, TX? Do you feel especially vulnerable and desperate and want an abortion but lack the means to get one because of the extensive flooding in your area? No worries…just come on down for your easy no-cost abortion on demand!
That’s the way at least one group has decided to step in and “help” (read: take advantage of) the victims of Hurricane Harvey that has left much of southeast Texas flooded and many people displaced from their homes and families. The Lilith Fund for Reproductive Health, according to its website, “assists Texans in exercising their fundamental right to abortion by removing barriers to access.”
Typical of the abortion industry, they are seizing this time of great need and desperation to prey on vulnerable women and men who are even less sure about how they will be able to provide for their families’ needs. ‘Why worry about how you’re going to care for yourself and your child when we can help you make it all go away,’ they whisper deceitfully in their ears. It’s their “bread and butter” play.
Insidiously, the Lilith Fund also states that “Our vision is a Texas where all people have the means and opportunity to plan their futures and families with dignity, respect and community support.”
What they don’t explicitly state is that their help in planning for your future and family only includes planning a future in which the family you would otherwise have does not exist. They don’t plainly admit that the extent of the “dignity” to which they refer is access to a largely unregulated abortion clinic, which after the Supreme Court’s 2016 Whole Women’s Health decision, is no longer required to comply with many basic health and safety requirements – exposing women to substantial risks.
If this group truly had in mind “respect and community support” for “all people,” then at the very least, they might also try offering financial support for them and their unborn babies prior to and after their child’s birth. The fact that this is not an option offered to the women and men in need exposes the group’s real purpose. Clearly for this group, “community support” can only mean providing the means to destroy and dispose of your unborn child.
It is quite ironic that the pro-life community is often told that it isn’t really “pro-life” because it allegedly doesn't care what happens to the baby after it's born, and yet it is the churches and pro-life Christian organizations are who are rushing in to help during Texas’s time of need. But notice how the abortion industry is never challenged to support a woman who chooses anything other than abortion. Yet even in times of great crisis, like Hurricane Harvey, it's abundantly clear they won't.
The Governor is at it again.Aug. 30, 2017
The Governor is at it again.
Never one to “let a crisis go to waste,” Governor McAuliffe seized upon the tragedy of Charlottesville as another opportunity to push an ideological agenda that seems to always end with people of faith holding the short straw. Last week, the Governor issued Executive Order Number 69 “Establishing The Commonwealth Commission On Diversity, Equity And Inclusion.”
In a statement released with the Order, the Governor prefaced the move by stating: “In the wake of the tragic events in Charlottesville, it is important for the people of Virginia to have an honest discussion about what we can do to combat hatred and violence and continue our work building a Commonwealth that is open and welcoming to everyone.” We agree. But then, the statement takes a turn that reveals the Commission’s true purpose:
“Created in the wake of the violent white supremacist events on August 11th and 12th in Charlottesville, the commission will be charged with assessing how hatred and discrimination against racial minorities, religious groups and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered individuals led to those tragic events.”
Typical of today’s Left, this characterization conflates the issues by attempting to equate the civil rights movement against racial injustice with the more recent campaign to normalize a long train of deceptions about human sexuality. But of course, these issues could not be more different – both in substance and in historical experience.
Among other things, the Order charges the Commission with:
- Identifying any Virginia laws, regulations, and agency procedures that perpetuate racial, ethnic, or religious intolerance or divisions, as well as recommending changes in law that can better promote tolerance and diversity.; and
- Identifying and recommending ways to partner with non-governmental organizations working to promote a culture of diversity and inclusion. Such organizations shall include nonprofits, foundations, and faith and community organizations.
Given that the Governor has a history of using executive orders like this to discriminate against individuals and organizations of faith, we have to wonder: Will this administration allow all religious viewpoints to have a seat at the table on the Commission, or just those that affirm a certain ideology about religion and sexuality?
Well if we have anything to do with it, The Family Foundation will be there speaking on behalf of the rights of all people – not just some.
The Order also tasks the Commission with compiling a final report to “be submitted to the Governor no later than November 15, 2018.” Given that Terry McAuliffe will be long gone by then, it seems pretty obvious this is little more than political pandering. Though is it clear that certain prejudices should always be condemned when they fail to respect the value and dignity of all persons who have been created in the image of God, including racism in all its forms, the Governor’s latest Commission on “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” gives us no indication to believe that’s what it’s actually designed to do.
Standing for the Rule of LawAug. 25, 2017
“The demurrer is overruled.”
That’s the critical language from the Henrico County Circuit Court Judge earlier this week rejecting the McAuliffe administration’s attempt to shut down a challenge to its lawless actions before the debate could even begin.
When earlier this year the State Board of Health, at the direction and aide of Gov. McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark Herring, ignored the law in at least 22 ways to peel back reasonable health and safety measures for abortion centers, four Virginians, with the help of The Family Foundation, decided to stand up and say ‘Not on our watch.’
If the inspection reports from Virginia’s abortion centers have shown us anything since they first began in 2012 (pursuant to health and safety standards implemented through regulations in 2011), it’s that abortion facilities desperately need oversight and accountability that, until then, they had completely been without.
For example, Virginia has abortion center operators like Stephen Brigham, who has had his medical license revoked in at least five other states and was arrested in Maryland in December 2011 and charged with five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of second-degree murder after police discovered 34 late-term aborted babies in a bloody freezer at one of his Maryland facilities. And only because of Virginia’s abortion center health and safety regulations that went into effect a month later in January 2012, one of Brigham’s Virginia abortion centers was shut down for good in April 2016 – and by Governor McAuliffe’s own Health Commissioner, no less.
Many hundreds of recorded inspections violations within the now fourteen-remaining facilities statewide have accounted for more than enough proof to demonstrate that women who enter these facilities are by no means safe. Now just imagine how unsafe those women will be in these facilities now that this administration has used the regulatory process to gut most of the substantive portions of those standards.
Certainly, of all people, a Virginia woman of child-bearing age is among those most affected by those actions and has the right to challenge them if they were undertaken illegally. Surely, that person has “standing” in court to demand that the administration follow the law they are tasked with faithfully executing. Well this week, a judge agreed.
Judge: McAuliffe Position Rejected!Aug. 23, 2017
Henrico Circuit Court judge John Marshall has released his decision allowing an administrative appeal against the state Board of Health to proceed. In doing so the judge rejected the arguments of the McAuliffe administration and its Attorney General that individual Virginians do not have the right to challenge regulations that violate other provisions of state law. The judge recognized that two appellants in the case had "standing" to bring the appeal.
“The judge’s decision is a blow to Terry McAuliffe's and Mark Herring’s effort to prevent citizens of Virginia from challenging actions by the government that they deem illegal,” said Victoria Cobb, president of The Family Foundation. “In its zeal to appease the abortion industry and with its dismissiveness of the rule of law, the McAuliffe administration acted outside the law. The regulatory process has rules that must be followed. Again, this appeal is about that legal process and this administration’s ignorance of or disdain for that process. Judge Marshall’s decision is a first step in holding them accountable for their actions.”
Judge Marshall heard oral arguments regarding “standing” in a Henrico Circuit Courtroom on Friday, August 11. Arguing on behalf of the McAuliffe administration, a deputy Attorney General for the Attorney General's office claimed that none of the appellants challenging the Board of Health’s actions in watering down abortion center health and safety standards had the legal right to bring their case. Judge Marshall's decision to recognize standing for two appellants advances the case to arguments over the merits of the claims by the appellants.
In their appeal, appellants alleged twenty-two violations of the law. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) initially listed six specific sections of the abortion health and safety standards in which it planned to propose particular amendments. Those six sections were stated in the Department’s original “Notice of Intended Regulatory Action” (NOIRA) Agency Background Document. Although the scope of an agency’s proposed regulatory action is limited by law to the parameters set forth in its NOIRA, the Board significantly expanded the object of its rulemaking by amending a total of 21 distinct sections both within and beyond the original six, thus well outside the scope of what was set forth in its NOIRA.
“Regardless of one’s belief about the merits of basic health and safety standards for abortion centers, all Virginians should care about the rule of law,” added Cobb. “Over and over again Terry McAuliffe and Mark Herring have sought to undermine the principle of the rule of law. Our hope is that they will be held accountable for their actions by the courts.”
Opioids and AbortionAug. 16, 2017
The Washington Post headline screams, “Fentanyl fuels the nation’s opioid crisis.” It is another in a long line of articles seen in most news sources about the growing public health crisis that is opioid abuse and addiction, a plague destroying lives, families and communities across the nation and our Commonwealth.
Fentanyl is a Schedule II opioid pain reliever, and is “is 50-100 times more potent than morphine, according to a recent statement on fentanyl by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and 25-50 times more potent than heroin.” A Schedule II drug is defined as having “a high potential for abuse which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.”
So, why did one doctor who owns four abortion centers in Virginia get nothing more than a slap on the wrist when it was discovered that his facilities kept no legally required records of the fentanyl he had obtained and allowed unlicensed staff members to transport the drug from facility to facility? (Never mind that he allowed an unlicensed staffer to administer the drug to women unfortunate enough to enter one of this abortion centers.)
In its July 9 and 10, 2014 inspection report from the Charlottesville Medical Center for Women, Department of Health officials found that unlicensed staff members were transporting narcotics (fentanyl) from one facility to another with no record or documentation. In fact, the facility had no records in accordance with federal and state laws regarding any drugs used at the facility. According to the inspection report:
“…the facility failed to keep records of all drugs in Schedules I-V received, sold, administered, dispensed or otherwise disposed of…”
The Charlottesville Medical Center for Women is owned by W.K.G. and J., Incorporated (the secretary is Marianne Fitzhugh), which also owns the Roanoke Medical Center for Women, the Richmond Medical Center for Women and the Peninsula Medical Center for Women. W.K.G is William Fitzhugh, one of Virginia’s more notorious abortion doctors. The Commonwealth of Virginia’s Board of Medicine apparently “investigated” and found an incredible record of Fitzhugh violating federal and state drug laws. Among other violations, the Board concluded that “for several years prior to July of 2014” he “failed to maintain a record of all drugs administered or otherwise disposed of at his Charlottesville clinic.”
For several years. Didn’t keep track of fentanyl. Fentanyl being one of the most abused opioids on the market. With unlicensed and unaccountable staff members transferring the drugs from abortion center to abortion center. With no way of knowing what happened to those drugs.
The Board of Medicine acted as forcefully as you would imagine when a doctor who performs abortions is involved – it issued a “reprimand” and required him to make a pinkie promise to be good from now on (okay, it was to promise to read the law and follow the law, but seriously?).
Other than that, there is no evidence that anyone ever did anything to find what happened to the fentanyl of which no one at Fitzhugh’s clinic kept record. You know, like is required by every other medical doctor and medical facility in the United States of America because fentanyl is dangerous and we have an opioid crisis!
Now, there is also no evidence that the fentanyl Fitzhugh obtained was distributed illegally or abused, but that might be because no one ever bothered to investigate because, you know, it’s abortion and, well, the abortion industry is “singled out.”
A Board of Medicine that makes decisions like letting Fitzhugh off the hook certainly doesn’t give hope that it’s serious about dealing with Virginia’s opioid crisis. At least not when it involves abortion doctors.
"Highly Unlikely" They SayAug. 11, 2017
“Gene Editing for ‘Designer Babies’? Highly Unlikely, Scientists Say”
That’s the title from a recent New York Times piece highlighting last month’s successful modification of DNA in a human embryo by scientists for the first time in the United States.
The scientists were able to “edit” a known disease-causing mutation at life’s earliest stage in order to prevent the disease from manifesting later in the person’s life. With this sort of “germline” editing, a person’s DNA is not only permanently altered to prevent the contracting of a particular disease, but those mutations that cause the diseases would no longer be inherited by successive generations.
This means that we’re talking about the potential for significantly benefiting (or harming) the human race not just today, but in perpetuity. Talk about power and influence. The possibilities are seemingly endless to the imaginative and the motivated.
Of course, it doesn’t take long for inquisitive minds to wonder: If we can harness scientific methods to prevent “bad” traits, couldn’t we use the same methods to enhance “good” or “preferable” traits – like height, intelligence, skin or eye color, etc.? (Hence, the term “Designer Baby”) And couldn’t this create a number of foreseeable problems?
Not to worry, say the “scientists,” because doing those things would be really hard since modifying other traits is more complex. So for that reason – and that reason alone, apparently – permanently altering human embryos for purposes other than eliminating disease-causing genetic mutations is “highly unlikely” to occur.
Gee, that’s reassuring.
But as the saying goes: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Meanwhile, it’s hard to think of a scenario in which one person possesses more absolute power over another person than when the latter consists of only a few cells under a microscope, created by the former in a lab for the purposes of scientific experimentation. If human nature holds true, we can be certain, then, that no matter how much “good” may come out of this kind of “genetic engineering,” by man’s corruption that good is destined to be far outweighed by its as-of-yet incomprehensible destruction of human life.
Let’s think about this: When was the last time someone said “that’s just too complex” and everyone else simply responded “well, I guess there’s no use even trying then”? That’s just not the America I know. No – we’re the ones who resolve to put a man on the moon (and bring him safely home) within a decade for little more reason than because we don’t want the Russians to get there first! Do you suppose the Russians – who seem to have even less regard for human life than Americans – might be thinking at this very moment how they could harness this science to create a form of genetically-modified super-human for a superior military force, for example? I’d be surprised if they weren’t already working overtime to make it a reality.
If man’s ability to split an atom and harness its power led within a few decades to a nuclear arms race that brought the world to the brink of utter destruction (not that long ago), imagine what might become of man’s ability to split the DNA of a human cell and to harness the power of bending it to our will.
“Highly unlikely,” my foot. Not only is the experimentation, exploitation, abuse and destruction of innumerable human lives highly likely to occur if we continue any further down this path of embryonic gene editing. It’s a guaranteed certainty.
“Scientists” can predict whatever they want about what humans will do in the future, but as long as they ignore history and human nature, they’ll always get it wrong. And as long as we as a society fail to respect the value and dignity of every human life, we will continue to justify mass carnage upon the human race by dressing it up with words like “abortion,” “death with dignity,” and most recently, “embryonic gene editing.”
The Abortion Litmus TestAug. 10, 2017
Somehow, I made it on to the campaign email lists of Ralph Northam and Mark Herring and have been the recipient of hundreds of their pleading missives over the past year or so. I’ve noticed a theme.
They love to use their gutless euphemisms like “women’s health,” “access” and “choice” to avoid the word abortion, but the message has been loud and clear:
For Democrats, the Virginia elections of 2017 are about abortion.
In fact, the overwhelming majority of emails I get from both Northam and Herring are about a single issue – the promotion and defense of the killing of unborn children.
For them, 56 million abortions just aren’t enough. We need more; a lot more.
And we need them paid for by the taxpayer, money funneled to their friends at Planned Parenthood.
And now we see where Democrat candidate for Lt. Governor, Justin Fairfax, attacked Republican Jill Vogel at their first debate over the ultrasound bill from five long years ago. A bill that simply required abortion centers to do what they claimed they already did – an ultrasound prior to an abortion to make sure 1) there really is a pregnancy, 2) that it’s not a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy, and 3) the size of the unborn child to make sure they use the right procedure to kill the child and not put the woman’s life at risk. For that, the left and media went into hysterics, and Democrats can still fundraise and motivate their base. Of course, what they really feared was the requirement that abortion centers offer women an opportunity to see the ultrasound picture before they make their decision.
That window into the womb scares the abortion industry perhaps like nothing else.
Vogel’s response, as quoted in the Washington Post, nailed it – “There was nothing in that bill that forced them to do anything against their will.” In fact, no doctor can force anyone to have a test against their will – you just have to live with the consequences of your decision to ignore the doctor.
Regardless, the irony in all this is that the party with the real litmus test on abortion is the Democrat party, which then uses the media to attack and ridicule Republicans for having a litmus test on abortion, when most Republicans talk about the issue only when asked. All while Democrats are having a now public internal debate nationally over whether they need to stop having a litmus test on abortion because it’s costing them elections. While Virginia Democrats make elections all about abortion.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Politics and elections are all about a narrative, and for Virginia Democrats, that narrative is abortion, all the time, anywhere, taxpayer funded, with no restrictions. Ralph Northam and Mark Herring are counting on it energizing their base. So is the abortion industry.
The Family Foundation Action is a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(4) organization and paid for this informational communication. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.
Evolving EthicsAug. 09, 2017
What are ethics? According to good ole Merriam-Webster, they are “a set of moral principles or a theory or system of moral values.”
Ethics, principles, values…all words that generally, throughout history, implied something intrinsic, moral, perhaps even permanent.
Of course, we now live in a culture where such notions are something at which many scoff. Everything changes, particularly ethics and morality.
So it came as no surprise in a recent meeting I attended when an “ethicist” with a major hospital association in Virginia voiced his opinion about how health care ethics “have evolved,” attempting to lend credibility to the idea that medical doctors should be allowed to help their patients commit suicide under certain circumstances. Generally, that would be when someone has a “terminal” illness with fewer than six months to live. Simply providing “relief from suffering” (i.e. helping them kill themselves) must be moral, according to this ethicist. The “ethical” argument in favor of this included that, according to some polling, it’s supported by a majority of Americans. (Another member of the group chimed in with, “like with abortion,” the morality has changed, as if one couldn’t possibly have a moral objection to killing an unborn baby.)
Now, never mind the reality that doctors are notoriously terrible at predicting the lifespan of the terminally ill, and that new treatments for many once incurable diseases are helping extend lifespans each and every day.
No, the problem with “evolving ethics” is that today’s physician-assisted suicide (PAS) for the terminally ill is tomorrow’s PAS for the chronically ill. And then those who have a genetic disposition toward a terminal illness. And then those who simply want “relief from suffering,” regardless of the cause of the suffering. And what about those who aren’t really sick but who believe themselves to be sick? I mean, if you can be a biological female but headlines can scream “Man gives birth” because that woman believes themsel to be male, why can’t a healthy person claim a terminal illness?
And of those in the medical profession, including pharmacists, who have conscientious objections to participating in one’s suicide? Well, the ethicists at the table assured everyone that “no one would ever force someone to participate” in this.
Ummm…but ethics evolve, no? Today’s “no one would ever” is tomorrow’s “you’re denying access” to this “treatment” and must be required to do so (see abortion).
If ethics “evolve,” particularly medical ethics, where does that evolution end? Might makes right is a frightening thought in the world of government controlled health care and PAS. The slippery slope in this evolution takes us to some very dark places – places we should have learned from history we do not ever want to return.
Why is Planned Parenthood so Afraid?Aug. 04, 2017
As we told you about yesterday, the abortion behemoth plans to drop $3 million to ensure the election of pro-abortion candidate for governor, Ralph Northam. This comes as no surprise, of course. As the Washington Post celebrated, “Northam has been a key ally to abortion groups, making the issue a top priority during his time in Richmond.”
Some believe Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry are counting on Northam and his Democrat allies to keep the taxpayer money flowing to their facilities. In our opinion, any taxpayer money funneled to Planned Parenthood is too much. In the Commonwealth, Planned Parenthood benefits from federally mandated Medicaid funds to the tune of around $150,000 annually, plus a small amount of non-Medicaid funding (which we have sought to ban). Not paltry, but a drop in the bucket to a $1 BILLION business like Planned Parenthood.
No, the real money Planned Parenthood fears losing, should someone other than a pro-abortion zealot be elected governor, isn’t directly from the taxpayers.
You see, between the time the abortion center health and safety standards were adopted and today, Virginia went from having 22 abortion centers to 14. Some closed for reasons unrelated to the health and safety standards, such as lease issues, loss of client share, and owner retirement. Two never bothered to try to meet the standards and didn’t even try to get licensed, closing down before even an initial inspection. One, the Steven Brigham owned center in Fairfax, was so bad the Department of Health, even under Terry McAuliffe, suspended its license and it subsequently closed.
And while the McAuliffe administration illegally watered down the standards, the industry knows if a pro-life governor is elected who has the courage to fight to get them fully implemented again, especially the construction standards, many more abortion centers are likely to close.
Fewer abortion centers mean fewer abortions. Since 2010 the abortion rate in Virginia is down 32 percent. That's more than 8000 babies saved. In cold numbers, just like Planned Parenthood likes, at an average of $450 an abortion, it's a loss of revenue of nearly $4 million to the abortion industry. That’s a number Planned Parenthood and the rest of the abortion industry is desperate to reverse.
Besides fewer abortion centers, a big reason for that drop is pregnancy help centers that provide real assistance to women who face an unplanned pregnancy. The very same facilities then state Senator Ralph Northam sought to regulate out of business in 2010, an effort that failed then, but who knows what promises Northam has made to the industry in exchange for the $3 million.
The reality is the abortion industry is terrified that more and more women are choosing to keep their babies, is losing money, and is frantic for people like Ralph Northam to help keep them in business. Funneling $3 million to a campaign (instead of actually providing health care) is just the cost of doing business.
Consistency, People!Aug. 04, 2017
An essential basis for human society is the triumph of rational thinking. Rational thought, meanwhile, demands consistency and coherency. Even in our increasingly “relativist” society, this is still something that is widely recognized.
Well…except, apparently, on many college campuses. (The historic bastions of knowledge and social progress.)
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) recently highlighted one of today’s most prevailing points of disconnect in rational thought involving the issue of market participants being forced to provide a service that violates their religious faith. Watch the students at UW-Madison as they are asked a series of questions about this:
The video effectively draws out the inconsistency – indeed, the incoherence – of many of the students’ thinking on the matter. While most of them found it intuitively abhorrent to force a fashion designer to create custom clothing for Melania Trump or to force a Muslim singer to perform at a Christian church’s Easter service, none of the students in the video appeared to want to admit that it would be equally wrong to force a Christian photographer to photograph a same-sex wedding when doing so clearly violated his religious convictions.
When in actuality, the only substantive difference between these examples is that the latter scenario doesn’t fit neatly within the prevailing liberal philosophy in which certain ideas are affirmed at all costs. In that case, throw rationality to the wind. Majority rules. Might equals right.
To be fair, maybe we should cut these students some slack. After all, as demonstrated by their blushing hesitations, their not-yet fully “zombie-fied” brains are clearly trying to overcome the incoherence of an ideological bent that is no doubt being spoon-fed to them by most of their professors on a daily basis. Their pause, frankly, gives me hope. It confirms that even the most tenacious indoctrinations cannot withstand the mind with even the slightest regard for rational thinking when that mind is presented with the opportunity to think.
$3 Million in Blood MoneyAug. 03, 2017
I have to admit, I wasn't surprised when I picked up the latest copy of The Washington Post and see that Planned Parenthood will be spending $3 million dollars to help elect pro-abortion activist Ralph Northam as Virginia's next governor.
And why wouldn't they?
You see, the Planned Parenthood model is to support ultra liberal politicians, who support them on abortion, because it is a good and successful business model for them. You need to look no farther than Virginia's current governor, Terry McAuliffe. Planned Parenthood spent around $2 million dollars to buy the 2013 election and McAuliffe has delivered for the abortion industry. It’s more than ironic that while Planned Parenthood screams over the prohibitive cost of health and safety compliance measures, it's spending $3 million to determine Virginia’s next governor.
As soon as McAuliffe was elected he got to work paying back the abortion industry for their support by stacking the Board of Health with pro-abortion activists, including members with strong ties to Planned Parenthood board. Then he tasked the State Board of Heath with amending the Health and Safety Standards for abortion centers, which were directed by the General Assembly, and they have delivered by gutting standards aimed at keeping women safe. The Family Foundation is at present suing the Board over their lawlessness in doing so.
So, with those results, it makes sense that Planned Parenthood would spend millions more in political blood money to elect another pro-abortion candidate, so they can further expand abortion around Virginia.
And what will Planned Parenthood buy with their $3 million dollars in support? According to this morning's Washington Post, they will deploy canvassers to knock on 300,000 doors, send mailers to 400,000 homes, run digital and radio ads, and drive pro-abortion voters to the polls on Election Day.
The article went onto say that, "Northam has been a key ally to abortion groups, making the issue a top priority during his time in Richmond," and that Northam has “extreme positions supporting abortions in the eighth or ninth month.”
Virginia can't afford four more years of abortion being a top priority.
You may be thinking, how big of an impact can Planned Parenthood have on the election? My answer is, they determined the winner of the 2013 election. You see, the pro-life candidate for governor lost the 2013 election by just 56,435, out of 2.5 million cast, and many political insiders credit Planned Parenthood and their blood money to putting Terry McAuliffe over the top on Election Day. We cannot afford to make that mistake again.
Please prayerfully consider supporting the sanctity of life by supporting our efforts to educate Virginians on the importance of the upcoming election.
Pro-Science. Pro-Life.Aug. 02, 2017
There is a common misconception in our society that the pro-life movement is anti-science. People on both sides hold fast to the idea that opposition to abortion stems only from religious beliefs, which in turn leads to the frequently touted argument that us ideologues should stop forcing our beliefs down the throats of the non-religious masses. Many sum it all up with the concise "keep your rosaries off my ovaries." Now, this slogan makes a pretty nifty bumper sticker, but beyond that, it really holds no water. I don’t want my rosary near anyone’s ovaries, thank you very much. I want science, and science consistently affirms the pro-life worldview. It is also worth mentioning that in our country we have millions of non-religious pro-lifers who oppose abortion just as vehemently as those who ascribe to a faith tradition.
And yet, you cannot delve at all into the abortion debate without abortion supporters claiming the mantle of scientific superiority. They declare that the fetus is just a clump of cells, or a mass of protoplasm, as if being such precludes humanity. But we are all clumps of cells; some of us just have more cells than others, and to pretend otherwise is disingenuous.
If we really want to know when a living human being becomes a living human being, we have to look at basic biology. Human development begins at fertilization, when a male sperm and a female oocyte combine to form a zygote. This isn’t a religious dogma; this is a scientific fact that you can find in any embryology textbook. From the beginning, a zygote is alive, because it has the capacity to grow, metabolize nutrients, and respond to stimuli, all of which are the scientific determinants of life. Furthermore, the zygote is an independent organism, with a unique genetic code, not merely a part of the mother. And finally, since everything reproduces its own kind, and the zygote is the product of human sperm and a human egg, it follows that the zygote itself is human, i.e. a member of the species homo sapiens.
In summary, at fertilization there exists a living, unique, human organism. To say that an unborn child is not human because it is a fetus makes about as much sense as saying a 2 year-old is not a human because it is a toddler. All we are referring to here are different stages in human development. Whether or not the human in question deserves protection under the law is a different problem entirely, but one that should be based in philosophical reasoning, not scientific disputes.
The philosophical side is a bit trickier, though. If the fetus is not a living human, what objection can exist to its removal? If the fetus is a living human, however, then you have to entertain the idea that some humans can be deprived of life against their will, and most rational people are understandably less comfortable with such lines of thinking. This is why so many abortion providers are hesitant to provide accurate information about prenatal development. A recent example of this is the website EarlyAbortionOptions.com, which caters to women early in their pregnancy. In its “what does the tissue look like” section, it depicts a 9 week-old fetus as a formless blob. An actual 9 week-old fetus, however, has already started forming eyes, ears, a nose, arms, and legs. The heart is beating, and several organs have started working. There are measurable brainwaves. The fetus can sigh, stretch, and even hiccup. Hardly a blob if you ask me.
The bottom line is this: science clearly shows that birth does not make us living, unique, human organisms. That happens at fertilization, and you do not have to be religious to recognize such a fact. All you have to do is read an embryology textbook.
By Jessica Skansi
Jessica is a 2017 Summer Intern at The Family Foundation and a student at Texas A&M University where she majors in Genetics, with a minor in Biology.
Should Doctors Prescribe Death?Jul. 26, 2017
Words matter, and so, obviously, does policy. Yesterday, both met at a Joint Commission on Health Care (JCHC) work group meeting studying the question of legalizing “Medical Aid-in-Dying.”
What is that, you ask?
It’s a soft euphemism being used to describe physician-assisted suicide.
Theoretically, the goal of the study is to answer some key questions about the ramifications of enacting such a policy in Virginia, and at yesterday’s meeting, various stakeholders were given the opportunity to weigh in, including Family Foundation VP of Government Relations, Chris Freund.
Our position was made clear: any effort to legalize physician-assisted suicide will be met with our fullest and strongest opposition.
Currently, only six states have statutes permitting physician-assisted suicide, which is defined as the “ability of a patient to obtain (or a doctor to prescribe) a medication to end their (a patient’s) life if [the patient is] competent, terminally ill, and over 18.” The movement to enact such legislation is gaining ground around the nation. Supporters argue that terminally ill patients deserve the right end their own suffering, but their focus on “death with dignity” typically paints over the vast potential for abuse allowed by physician-assisted suicide laws, and the kind of society we are building if we allow physician-assisted suicide to become a reality throughout the Commonwealth.
And while “terminally ill” is clearly defined in medicine, most state laws that allow the killing of the terminally ill prescribe stipulations such as a patient must have fewer than six months to live. We raised the question, “How accurate are doctors when they predict how long someone has to live?” One doctor on the work group admitted, “Doctors are notoriously terrible” at predicting the length of a terminal illness.
This is one of the hundreds of philosophical and practical questions that arise when we discuss allowing people to commit suicide.
There is no question that intentionally causing the premature death of another human being violates the oath that physicians take to “do no harm.” Terminally ill patients deserve our love and support, they deserve unrestricted access to proper hospice and palliative care, and they deserve the dignity that comes from life. What they do not deserve is a system that endorses the deliberate hastening of their death. If we as a society are willing to accept the idea that physicians can be complicit in causing death in some circumstances, there is no telling where the line will be drawn.
There will be an opportunity for public input in this discussion in the coming weeks. We will update you so that you can make your voice for life heard!
On another note, the study is the result of a letter from Delegate Kaye Kory submitted a letter to the JCHC requesting a study reviewing the issue. With the financial limitations faced by the Commonwealth and the cost to taxpayers of these studies, it seems more than reasonable that for a commission to spend time and taxpayer money on a study, it should require legislation from the General Assembly. Many do, but all should.
"Hate" Is Not The ProblemJul. 25, 2017
You’re a “hate group.” They’re a “hate group.” Your mom’s a “hate group.” If you disagree with me, you’re a “hate group.”
That is essentially what I’m hearing more and more these days coming from organizations on the ideological Left, and it has reached a tipping point of ridiculousness. Throwing around labels like this is intellectually lazy. It’s inflammatory. It’s defamatory. Frankly, it’s juvenile – something a school yard bully could get away with saying during recess that could never fly in a real classroom discussion.
It also has the effect of undermining the credibility of those touting these claims. (Much in the same way that reflexively hurling the terms “racist” and “bigot” or “[fill-in-the-blank]-PHOBE” are sadly becoming code words for “I’m not respectful or intelligent enough to engage you in a meaningful dialogue about complex issues.”)
Along with other leftist groups, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has for years been building upon its list of organizations in the United States it deems “hate groups” – a list used as authoritative by the Obama administration in order to target those groups. More recently, the “mainstream” media has been using SPLC’s list to label groups it finds distasteful. Some of the groups being added are Christian or pro-American groups who hold to common-sense traditional values like natural marriage, freedom, national sovereignty, and the rule of law. (In other words, all those things which enable a prosperous society.)
In the past week, SPLC dubbed Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) a “hate group,” apparently because the sitting Attorney General of the United States addressed a group of ADF attorneys at a closed forum wherein he had the audacity to say, among other similarly-themed things, "that every American has a right to believe, worship, and exercise their faith in the public square." Why…that must be code language for “HATE!” Darn it. Can’t get anything past that SPLC.
Considering some of the notables that have made SPLC’s list (Alliance Defending Freedom, American Family Association, and Family Research Council, to name a few) who work hard to protect life, preserve religious liberty, and promote freedom and domestic tranquility through the rule of law, I’m frankly surprised The Family Foundation of Virginia has yet to make their list. (Maybe even a little disappointed.)
As we have also seen, labeling groups with which you disagree “hate groups” is also an invitation to violence. A few years ago, a man entered FRC’s headquarters in Washington, DC intent on killing everyone there and had in his possession SPLC’s list that included FRC as a “hate group.”
The absurdity of it all speaks for itself. Yet few seem to be challenging the “hate group” label at a more fundamental level. The reason I know this is because it is generally true that deeming someone a “hate group” or “hater” is universally received as a kind of social stigmatism with which no one wants to be branded. It’s akin to publicly designating someone a leper, but with an intended effect more like that of designating someone a “terrorist organization.” That’s because it’s really about directing the overall narrative and defining your opponents rather than allowing them to speak for themselves. In that sense, it’s Political Mass Communication 101.
But getting beyond that, we must ask the question: What does SPLC mean by “hate”? And furthermore, is “hate” in itself always bad, as they seem to imply? In actuality, when you take all of three seconds to think about it, you realize that everyone hates some things, while other things, they love.
In other words, while it is undoubtedly true that the groups mentioned “hate” certain ideas and actions they believe are harmful and destructive to individuals and society (clearly SPLC feels similarly about certain ideas), it doesn’t follow that they therefore “hate” the people associated with those ideas and actions. In fact, I bet if SPLC was to really learn about many of these groups, they would find that it is not primarily their “hatred” for particular ideas and actions that motivates them, but rather it is their love of certain truths and for the people who tend to flourish when those truths are embraced.
The relevant question, then, is not whether or not someone “hates,” but rather: Who or what does a person or organization hate? And correspondingly, who or what do they love? Ultimately, it isn’t “hate” that is the problem. If anything, the problem with “hate” lies in the object of our hate vs. the object of our love, whether we have rightly categorized those objects, and whether our energies towards them are being channeled in an appropriate and constructive way.
The goal should be to love those things that are worth loving (like people, and goodness, and truth), and also to hate those things worth hating (like evil, and destruction, and chaos) – even if it means that someone else may be prone to overlook our love, and overemphasize our hate, and unfairly stick us with the dubious label as a member of a “hate group.”
Here's What You Missed!Jul. 25, 2017
On Saturday we launched a brand new grassroots initiative with the unveiling of our Regional Engagement Teams! Our goal is to have a Regional Engagement Team, or RET, in all of the major regions throughout Virginia, and we need your help. If you signed up for a position on Saturday, we cannot thank you enough for volunteering your time and effort to fight for our principles. If you did not get the chance to join a RET, don’t worry! All the information about our RETs and the various positions available can be found online at www.familyfoundation.org/grassroots/.
Thank you so much to everyone involved with Saturday’s Grassroots Activism Project! We had such a great turnout, and we loved seeing each and every one of you. For those of you who were unable to attend, we missed you, but there is still time to get involved!
Not only did we launch our new Regional Engagement Teams but we also spread the news about our weekly Team Timothy prayer meetings. This is an open opportunity to join us at our office in Richmond every Tuesday for intercessory prayer! We hope to see you or have you join in via conference call. Please email us here for more information!
Everyone has something to contribute to the cause of defending the family in Virginia, and we hope you find your place with us.
Now is the time for engagement, and this is your chance. It is so encouraging to witness everyone’s passion for our principles, and we cannot wait to see the amazing things all of you are going to do within your communities.