religion

Policy Issue 1, Parental Rights: Resolution Against U.N. Treaty To Be Introduced In General Assembly

This is the first in a series of five policy statements on issues that will come before the 2010 General Assembly. Each one covers one of The Family Foundation's five areas of principle. The others will follow over the rest of the week.

There are days when I wonder if half the things we hear about in Washington, D.C., are real or if it’s all just a very bad nightmare. Some reports just seem so outrageous.

So when I saw a Fox News headline a few months ago that screamed "U.N. Report Advocates Teaching Masturbation to 5 year-olds," I had that, Oh, this is going to be another exaggeration moment. Certainly, even the U.N., as wacky as it is, wouldn’t publicly endorse such a foolish concept.

Then I read the report for myself. Believe me, the whole teaching-5-year-olds-about- masturbation-thing is just the tip of the iceberg. There is stuff in here that should make every parent who cares at all about their children shudder, starting with the line "teachers remain the best qualified and the most trusted providers of information and support for most children and young people."

Teachers? Really? So much for parents.

Until the November 2008 elections, things like the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (see our comment, here), something far scarier than the aforementioned U.N. report, were out there, but had little chance of being accepted by our Congress. The convention is such an assault on your right to parent I can’t really describe it. Essentially, the convention gives children "evolving" rights to choose religion, education, etc., regardless of what their parents say. Now, however, there is a serious effort in the United States Senate to force us to join the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, seriously threatening parental rights in our country, not to mention our sovereignty.

To combat this, parents across the nation are urging Congress to pass a parental rights amendment to the United States constitution. You can learn more about this cause at parentalrights.org.

To assist this effort, The Family Foundation is supporting a memorializing resolution in the 2010 General Assembly that would urge Congress to pass the parental rights amendment. Similar to legislation we supported in 2004 that urged Congress to pass a marriage amendment, a memorializing resolution sends a message to our federal representatives that we want them to protect the rights of parents to raise their children without government interference.

Although the resolution has yet to receive a bill number, it's patron in the House is Delegate Brenda Pogge (R-96, Yorktown). We look forward to updating you on the progress of this legislation throughout the General Assembly and what you can do to help see it pass.

After The Revolution: Marriage And Divorce In Contemporary America

That's the topic for discussion on Thursday, October 29, at Virginia Commonwealth  University. An eyebrow raising one at that. What may be more of a surprise — albeit a decidedly good one — is that Dr. Brad Wilcox is the one giving the presentation. Dr. Wilcox is a renown expert on marriage and serves on our Marriage Commission, which has produced several recommendations for the General Assembly to reduce the rate of divorce in the commonwealth (at least one of which now is law). Dr. Wilcox is director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, where he also is an associate professor of sociology. In addition, he is a member of the James Madison Society at Princeton University. His research focuses on marriage, parenting and cohabitation, as well as on the ways that gender, religion and children influence the quality and stability of American family life. He is widely published in publications such as The American Sociological Review, Social Forces, The Journal of Marriage and Family, and The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

The lecture is one in the Saint Benedict Institute Lecture series and is free and open to the public. If you live in, or will be in, the Richmond area on October 29, it will be well worth the time to attend. We're sure Dr. Wilcox's remarks will shed light on the very serious problem of divorce in America and the reasons for its proclivity. The preface to the lecture's theme — "After The Revolution" — gives a hint: The sexual revolution was supposed to unleash a healthy liberation for women and men alike. Apparently, not; not for women, not for men, and certainly not for the wreckage of the broken families and children left in its wake.

The lecture is from 7:00-9:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public. It is in room 1169 at the VCU building at 901 West Main Street.

Virginia News Stand: September 28, 2009

Annotations & Elucidations  Overdrive And Life

We're in statewide overdrive, with all three races for statewide office (as expected) going full bore. The week that ended so badly for Democrat gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds got worse over the weekend as he publicly ducked a nationally televised appearance with Republican candidate Bob McDonnell on Fox News Sunday. Moderator Chris Wallace twice noted that Deeds was invited several times and each time refused. This is on top of the debate he ducked last week at Virginia Union University. Additionally, reliably liberal Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist Michael Paul Williams piled on Deeds for not securing former Governor Doug Wilder's endorsement and wonders how much of the black vote will turn out for him. Ouch!

Meanwhile, Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb is quoted in the first article in the News section. It's a piece in the Washington Post comparing the candidates' records on social issues.

Nationally, religion and life issues are in the news. One poll finds a dramatic increase in non-religiously affiliated Americans, while a the Alliance Defense Fund reminds the government to stay out of the pulpit. The pro-life issue is back in the news, as the National Right To Life Committee shows how health care "reform" will lead to rationing. In addition, some pro-lifers are concerned about the administration's double standard, and the intimidation they feel, after a murder of an pro-life activist in Michigan.

News:

* How They Voted on God, Guns And Gays (Washington Post)

McDonnell: Plan would boost transportation, avoid education cuts (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

McDonnell hopes to appeal to Va.'s black voters (Washington Times)

Candidates tout successes as Sept. nears end (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Tax fight erupts in Va. governor's race (Washington Times)

Plans for Va.'s economy long on ideas, not details (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

Obama proving to be mixed blessing for Deeds (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Deeds pledges to walk tight fiscal line (Washington Times)

Candidate's Wife Pans Attacks (Harrisonburg Daily News-Record)

Attorney general race heats up (Charlottesville Daily Progress) 

Landes demands Marrow clarify (Waynesboro News-Virginian)

Fairfax Schools Drop Out Of PTA (Washington Post)

Commentary:

Deeds dropped ball with Wilder (Michael Paul Williams/Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Video:

Deeds Ducks McDonnell (again) and Wallace (:46) (Fox News Sunday/YouTube.com)

 

Who has ever heard of a politician passing up free air time? Chris Wallace can't figure it out either.

National:

Dramatic increase in Americans declaring no religions (AP/OneNewsNow.com)

Getting the gov't out of the pulpit (OneNewsNow.com)

Fear grows among pro-life activists (OneNewsNow.com)

Funding — a major factor in viable healthcare reform (OneNewsNow.com)

Republican says Dems ignoring health care concerns (AP/OneNewsNow.com)

You Had To Be There . . .

We've received a few questions about yesterday's vote in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee on HB 2314, the chaplain prayer bill. The most asked question is simple: What was the actual vote on the bill? Unfortunately, because of the game played in committee, its not as simple as that. In fact, the final vote on the bill is in no way a reflection of where individual legislators actually stood on issue of chaplain prayer or religious freedom. Essentially, an amendment to the bill (herein referred to as the "Norment Amendment") added by the committee changed the bill from a pro-religious liberty bill to an anti-religious liberty bill. It changed the bill into what is the current state police policy that censors prayers. Because of the Norment Amendment, we wanted the bill to fail (as did the patron, Delegate Bill Carrico). However, some of the members of the committee (who support religious liberty) voted against killing the bill in hopes that they could fix it later.  Thus, the final vote is very mixed and does not reflect the actual positions of legislators.

Because of the confusion over the final vote, we are counting the vote on the Norment Amendment as the actual position of legislators on the bill (shockingly, this vote is not available online). We do, however, have the entire meeting on video so we have record of that vote.

In a true "you had to be there" example, this is a debate and outcome that can be very confusing. Some legislators who voted to keep the bill alive at the end actually had ill intent for the bill, but my guess is they will attempt to hide behind that final vote. We won't let them.

We have a small sampling of yesterday's debate in the video below:

Chaplain Religious Freedom Bill Dies in Senate Courts

This morning the Senate Courts of Justice Committee defeated HB 2314 patroned by Delegate Bill Carrico (R-5, Galax). This bill would have restored to the Commonwealth's State Trooper chaplains the religious liberty right to pray according to the dictates of their conscience. This restoration of freedom is necessary after State Police Superintendent Stephen Flaherty issued an administrative order that chaplains can no longer pray "in the name of Jesus." This decision has been strongly supported by Governor Kaine's administration despite the pursuant resignations of six chaplains.  In a long and very contentious meeting, HB 2314 was the final bill to be heard. Testimony was offered on both sides. (Video of the debate will be available here tomorrow.) Joining The Family Foundation in speaking in support of the bill was the state Solicitor General Steve McCullough, the Rev. Sherylann Bragton of City of Love Ministries and Dr. Jack Knapp of the Virginia Assembly of Independent Baptists. In opposition to the bill were the ACLU, the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Interfaith Center for Public Policy and a Jewish police chaplain from northern Virginia.  

Opponents used their typical arguments, such as stating that in order to minister to all people one must strip any religious references out of their prayers. The police chaplain stated, "When I don my police uniform I am no longer representing my congregation as a Jewish clergy. Instead I am representing the government." 

While he may choose to leave his particular faith at the door when he ministers to others, to have the state require that one minister in this way is not acceptable. Delegate Carrico continued to remind the committee that the state police policy of censorship was issued not as the result of a single complaint of proselytizing but instead out of an ideological agenda.

Leading the charge to defeat the bill was Senator Tommy Norment (R-3, Williamsburg). Instead of outright voting against the bill, Senator Norment chose to do something even more detrimental to the effort being waged by those who seek to uphold First Amendment freedoms — he offered amendments accepted by a majority of the committee in which he inserted "nonsectarian" before each mention of prayer in the bill. As Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Fairfax) pointed out to the committee and myriad of reporters following this hearing, a plain reading of this new language indicated that the amended bill would enshrine the state superintendent's policy into perpetuity. It was an amendment intended to kill the entire purpose of the bill.

Even after the killer amendment was accepted, the bill died by a majority vote. If you are interested to know where people really stood on this bill, those who voted against the Norment amendment actually support the religious liberty rights upon which this nation was founded: Senators Ken Cuccinelli, Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg), Ryan McDougle (R-4, Hanover), Robert Hurt (R-19, Chatham) and Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville). 

Despite the testimony of opponents to this legislation the facts are clear — neither the Constitution nor the Courts of the United States require or compel a faithless, non-religious, nonsectarian prayer at government events. Sadly, as is often the case for some members of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee, the facts and the law are but a distasteful distraction. 

Unfortunately, for six state police chaplains, this decision renders meaningless the protection of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, which states:

"That all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities."

BREAKING NEWS: See Video Of High Ranking Dems Laugh At New Orleans' Expense!

Two high ranking national Democrats, former Democrat National Committee Chairman Don Folwer and U.S. Representative John Spratt (D-S.C.), were caught on camera on board their airplane returning from the Democrat National Convention in Denver laughing at Hurricane Gustav and the impending peril in which in puts New Orleans — because they believe it will help Democrats politically!

In the video, Fowler is caught laughing at the prospect of Gustav hitting New Orleans at the start of the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis this coming week — and therefore God must be with the Democrats.

Fowler says in the tape, "Everything is cool," as both men laugh it up. Little did the two know that a RedState.com contributor was sitting behind them and caught it all on tape (read the blog entry and see the video here). RedState.com has just e-mailed this story within the last 15 minutes and was posted on its Web site at around 1:17 p.m.

We knew liberals were getting religion, but this goes a bit beyond the pale.