Texas

Congratulations To Liberty Institute's Kelly Shackelford!

We want to congratulate a dear friend of The Family Foundation and a true partner — Kelly Shackelford from the Liberty Institute in Texas, who successfully argued the Salazar v. Buono case before the U.S. Supreme Court. The court, in a 5-4 decision this week, ruled that a Cross could be displayed at a World War I memorial in a former national park (now in private hands) in California's Mojave Desert. Kelly, who heads the Texas family policy council, led the charge for the passage of the Texas Marriage Amendment, and is a true national leader. Some of you may remember that we brought Kelly to Virginia in 2006 to assist us in Marriage Amendment campaign strategy. He also was the keynote speaker at out annual Lobby Day in 2006. Way to go Kelly!

Virginia News Stand: May 11, 2009

The News Stand isn't the only one returning today: Looks like the missing Musketeer, Senator Creigh Deeds of Bath has finally poked his nose out in the Democrat gubernatorial primary campaign. He garners two headlines around the state today and prominent mentions elsewhere. Perhaps he's been there all along and we just didn't know it, as the Washington Post and Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star attest to the lackluster campaign thus far. But maybe Terry McAuliffe's comment on a Richmond radio station will perk things up. Dems also tell The Post they think dreariness and fatigue are what led to some Republican wins in their NoVa bastion as of late. In national news, the current governor's boss, the president, appears poised to take a page from Tim Kaine's policy book and eliminate abstinence education funding. Then there are the tales of two states and approaches to education: A California Senate committee passed what's being called "Gay Day" legislation for schools' curriculum where parents, according to one report, can't opt out their children. By contrast, Texas officials chose a prominent historian to restore basic and traditional lessons, that have slowly evaporated over the years, to its public school curriculum.  

News:

After GOP Wins, Democrats Are Worried About Fatigue (Washington Post)

Delegates urged to attend meeting (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

In the Race for Governor, a Drizzle of Ads Portends a Deluge (Washington Post)

Dems' primary appears lackluster (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star)

Ousted GOP chairman takes aim at 'insiders' (The Daily Press

Deeds: Education, technology key (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star)

Facing uphill battle in governor's race, Deeds still presses ahead (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

McAuliffe touts green energy (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star)

Democrat to challenge incumbent in 6th District (Roanoke Times)

National News:

Obama would ax abstinence-only funding (OneNewsNow.com)

History scholar hopes to revamp Texas curriculum (OneNewsNow.com)

'Gay Day' Bill Passes California Senate Committee (CNSNews.com)

First Prostitutes And Porn Stars, Now W&M Hosts Child Porn Photographer

College students on spring break notoriously scram from campus this time of year to places warm in temperature and hot in activity. Televised scenes from Florida, Texas and Mexican resorts and beaches aren't always the most wholesome. The "Girls Gone Wild" videos come to mind. But if you're looking for the good times on the cheap, our very own College of William and Mary is doing its part to keep your costs down in this sour economic climate — and using parents' tuition money to do so. After all, why spend $1,275 in the classroom, for legitimate co-curricular or extra-curricular and fulfilling activities, or scholarly exhibits, when you can bring in child porn?

Naive to think tuition money should actually go to academics? What do they expect at W&M? After all, it has made the news for all the wrong reasons in recent years, as host of the infamous "Sex Workers' Art Show" (here), an exhibition that includes performances by strippers and prostitutes.

That show is about to make a return campus engagement. But now the College is complementing that smut with something called "The Century Project" which may sound academic or historic, but don't be misled.

Starting today, "The Century Project" will be on display for one week in W&M's Muscarelle Art Museum, although "art" would be a generous term. Created by a former Newsweek and Life photographer, Frank Cordelle, and invited to the College this year by a senior who herself posed nude for Mr. Cordelle when she was 17, "The Century Project" displays photographs of naked women from birth to age 94 (hence "century"). 

Many of the photographed women have been through traumatic situations including breast cancer, rape, abuse and anorexia, and pose naked for this project to somehow mentally "conquer" their past and to promote a "healthy alternative to the way in which women are represented in the media."  

Now that's an ironic touch. The media is dominated by colleagues of Mr. Cordelle who share his liberal mindset, whether news media or entertainment media. So who exactly is he blaming? Besides, it's people like Mr. Cordelle who ridicule as "backward" media and entertainment that portray women as wholesome and in traditional roles.

But Mr. Cordelle has a dual agenda, because the most disturbing aspect of "The Centruy Project" are the photographs of girls from birth to age 17, which are blatant child pornography. He rationalizes that the pictures of naked minors are not overtly sexual and thus are legal, claiming, "the entire female life cycle . . . doesn't begin at age 18" and admits that his photographs are "a valuable tool for sociopolitical purposes." 

Huh? Here's another irony: Aren't liberals supposed to be "for the children"? How is this anything but exploitative and damaging to children? Which is the brazen side here and why should parents unknowingly have their money used for an admitted political purpose? Of course it's difficult to attack such a cryptic political purpose, no matter how bizarre or exploitative. So we'd like to know what exactly about female minors imparts a political statement that he needs to display naked photos of them? What is W&M and its administration trying to say — or sanction?

First, removing the Cross from Wrenn Chapel and whitewashing history and faith, then turning the campus over to the porn industry, and now to child porn. Maybe Key West isn't the worst option this spring break after all.

Hurricane Victims And Brave Military Still Need Our Prayers

As the political silly season progresses (as we will document in the next few posts) it is time to make time to remember to keep in our prayers our countrymen in Texas, Louisiana and other affected areas of Hurricanes Ike and Gustav. Just because evacuations went well isn't a reason to put people in serious distress out of our minds. There is a lot of work to be done to restore the millions of people in those areas to their normal lives. Let's not forget them while the rest of the country can bask in beautiful late summer weather, sports in high gear and the ongoing political, never-ending political season. While we're at it, as the media spotlight dims over their missions, also keep in your prayers our brave military in Iraq, Afghanistan, in the Balkans and elsewhere worldwide and stateside, who liberate the oppressed and secure our freedoms and liberty.  

Perfect Timing

One of our highest priorities this past General Assembly session was HB 1135, which protects religious liberty in education. The bill was patroned by Delegate William Fralin (R-17, Roanoke) and it passed easily, including a 39-1 vote in the Senate. Governor Tim Kaine made a minor amendment which was approved during the veto session last month. The bill takes effect July 1. This victory, along with one of our highest priorities for the 2007 session, a religious liberty bill protecting religious expression in public venues, patroned by Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-31, Woodbridge), which also was signed into law, make significant progress toward protecting our constitutional rights from their erosion by authoritarian educrats and activist judges. I know, I know. We're extremists and alarmists with such hyperbole. At least that's what the usual suspects always claim. Okay. So is this recent case in Wisconsin hyperbole?

From www.onenewsnow.com (click the excerpt for the entire story):

School officials in Tomah, Wisconsin, are facing a lawsuit after a high school teacher there failed a student's art project because it included a cross and a reference to John 3:16. The school district argues that the student voluntarily waived his First Amendment religious freedoms when he entered the classroom.

Funny, no one ever taught me the Constitution ended at the school door. I'm pretty sure Mr. Madison would be appalled. HB 1135 specifically defends students' rights to include religious content in academic assignments. Not only that, it brings the code of Virginia in line with United States Supreme Court precedent — not to mention the intent of the Founders. The language for the new law was borrowed from federal guidelines for religious liberty in schools and modeled after a recently passed law in Texas. Virginia public schools currently use religious liberty guidelines developed more than a decade ago by then Attorney General James Gilmore. Since that time, the Supreme Court has clarified the rights of students to express their faith in the classroom. 

This recent Wisconsin situation, which has stirred up passionate feelings judging by the dozens of responses on the thread of the article linked above, isn't just a product of an over zealous and misguided teacher, something "that would never happen here." The actual need for the legislation arose after several incidents of students having their religious viewpoint rights violated — here in Virginia! Just this school year, a first grade student in a public school was denied the right to read a story to her class simply because it contained the word "God." 

Such incidents happen far too often and many go unreported. The law was necessary because teachers and administrators ignore Supreme Court precedent, federal guidelines and guidelines by the Commonwealth's attorney general. Still think "authoritarian educrat" is hyperbole? Activist judges have done their part as well, making it difficult to remedy these problems through legislation. That's changed now. 

This new law, the one last year, and the precedents and legal opinions, while they received little media attention, provide an unassailable legal foundation toward returning our Commonwealth to its rightful place as a beacon of religious freedom for the rest of the nation. Given the recent abuse of constitutionally guaranteed religious freedom in Wisconsin, could the enactment of HB 1135 had better timing?