"Go Somewhere Else"Jul. 20, 2017
Throughout the entire multi-decade battle to ensure abortion centers have safety standards adequate to protect the moms that undergo this heart-wrenching procedure, the abortion industry and its sympathizers have made one resounding claim: Safety standards will result in the loss of access to abortion – and other medical services they claim to offer – as those centers, they claim, will close rather than comply. While those who hold a pro-life perspective would not be disappointed if fewer unborn lives are lost, basic economics shows that if the “market” has a perceived need, it will adjust to new standards and the customer’s desires will still be serviced.
Personally, I’ve had a hard time being concerned about abortion centers closing that are theoretically so broke they can’t ensure that the equipment used isn’t bloody, or the staff is actually trained in how to handle Schedule II narcotics. Moreover, when Planned Parenthood continues to get approximately $500,000,000 annually from taxpayers—that’s half a Billion with a capital “B”—I figure they can have a couple of basic safety strings attached. Then, when it was revealed recently that they spent nearly $750,000 in an unsuccessful effort to ensure Karen Handel didn’t get elected to Georgia’s congressional delegation, I continue to call this claim of non-access due to no money bunk.
Now, it appears that even the McAuliffe administration doesn’t believe its own rhetoric on center closure. The legal memorandum submitted recently by the AG representing the State Health Commissioner in the case Itzel Melendez v. Virginia State Board of Health that centers on the illegal process of watering down the abortion standards flies in the face of their access claim.
In the brief, the Health Commissioner alleges that the appellants have no “standing” to petition the court. For non-lawyers, the government is arguing that none of the challengers have a right to be in court to contest the illegality of the regulation change process. To have a right, one typically needs to be affected by the regulation changes. This no-standing claim comes despite the fact that one of the four appellants, Itzel Melendez, is a woman of child-bearing years who has visited an abortion facility in the past and could desire their services again. It clearly matters to this woman and a whole host of similarly situated women whether they could obtain a “safe abortion” under now-lessened standards.
In an irony of all ironies, in order to claim this appellant is unaffected, the Health Commissioner contends, “Further, alternatives for obtaining abortion services exist at hospitals licensed under 12 VAC 5-410 that offer such services and at any medical provider that performs fewer than five first-trimester abortions per month.”
The abortion centers under regulation (or non-regulation depending on who is in the Governor’s mansion and on the Board of Health) are defined as facilities that perform more than 5 abortions a month and which are not a full-blown hospital, since those have greater standards already. Bottom line, the Commissioner is essentially saying, if Itzel Melendez doesn’t want an unsafe abortion from the facilities that are in question, she can just go somewhere else. Now isn’t that something, since the abortion industry has argued that “access” to abortion is at the center of their fight against the standards.
Planned Parenthood v. Casey: 25 Years LaterJun. 29, 2017
If you are at all familiar with the modern abortion debate, you know about Roe v. Wade. The 1973 Supreme Court ruling claimed that women have a constitutional right to have abortions and paved the way to where we are today in terms of abortion-on-demand. But for those interested in the eventual eradication of abortion in our nation, there is another pivotal court case that must not be overlooked. On June 29th, 1992, almost two decades after the Roe decision, the Supreme Court released its ruling on the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Today, exactly twenty-five years later, the implications of that decision present a serious obstacle to the pro-life cause.
Planned Parenthood v. Casey was one of the first cases to significantly challenge Roe, and many saw it as a prime opportunity for the Supreme Court to overturn its previous ruling. Tragically, the complete opposite happened. Not only did the Court’s decision on Casey reaffirm Roe v. Wade, it went even further, adding language that prohibited states from passing statutes which could place “a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman’s choice,” arguing that such regulations would “impose an undue burden” on a woman’s right to choose abortion. Such wording has proven extremely problematic for the pro-life side, primarily because the definition of an “undue burden” is in the eye of the beholder, primarily liberal judges. We have seen fallout from the precedent set in Casey several times since 1992, most notably in last summer’s ruling on Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt.
Though the justices cited Roe v. Wade in their Hellerstedt decision, it was Planned Parenthood v. Casey, not Roe, which gave the court the most substantial grounds for striking down Texas’ laws to regulate abortion facilities. Ironically, the Hellerstedt decision, in which the Court decided that requiring abortion facilities to meet the standards of an ambulatory surgical care center placed “a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a pre-viability abortion,” and thereby constituting an “undue burden” on the right to abortion, was released just two days shy of Casey’s 24th anniversary. Had the court ruled the other way in Hellerstedt, Texas would have been down to fewer than ten abortion clinics in the entire state. Who knows how many clinics would have closed around the country if other states, following Texas’ example, had passed similar measures?
Instead we are here today: a quarter of a century since Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and still suffering the consequences of the Court’s degradation of life. With a President supportive of pro-life efforts and a Republican majority in Congress, there is considerable opportunity to challenge our abortion-on-demand culture, but we should remain mindful of our legislative limitations. We have seen how much wiggle room Casey gives to the states when it comes to restricting abortions, even when it involves improving health and safety standards, but it is not enough. An important struggle lies ahead of us in the courts. In the meantime, we should do what we can, in state and local governments, on sidewalks and in pregnancy centers, but we will never reach an end to abortion until Casey and Roe are gone. Let’s pray it doesn’t take another 25 years to see them overturned.
By Jessica Skansi, 2017 Family Foundation Intern
Forgotten How To BlushJun. 29, 2017
Last week, the school board in Prince William County voted 5-3 to let boys and men use girls’ intimate settings like locker rooms, bathrooms, and showers in schools – and even to be paired with females in overnight lodging situations. All this over the objections of thousands of Prince William County parents and students throughout the past year who pleaded earnestly with them from every logical, emotional and practical vantage point imaginable. And all of this without so much as a single substantiated complaint on the basis of “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” in the school district’s history. New progressivism and secular humanist “moral” grandstanding seems to be their only true concern.
In the end, the five school board members’ complete dismissal of concerns about personal safety, privacy and dignity – as demonstrated by their blanket forbearance to even address them in their remarks – was the equivalent of their saying “Too bad, you better just get used to undressing, showering, and sleeping next to your opposite-sex peers.”
Such a shameless and callous disregard for basic human dignity and decency – especially among children as young as 5 years old to teenagers – reminded me of a particular Scripture verse which really says it all:
Jeremiah 6:15 – “Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them," says the LORD.”
They know no shame. They've forgotten how to blush.
But worse yet, it seems they've forgotten what it means to blush, and that other people still do so. They’ve forgotten that children in particular are highly vulnerable and are not yet prepared to face every kind of sexual circumstance which the board’s policy now potentially opens them up to. They’ve forgotten what an awkward and emotional time middle school and high school can especially be for most kids, who already have enough to worry about that doesn’t include intermixing of the sexes in intimate settings like locker rooms and bathrooms. They’ve forgotten the propensity of school-aged self-interested children to take advantage of what they perceive as “loop holes” in a rule, often at the expense of others.
Or maybe they haven’t forgotten, and instead they just don’t care. But that seems frankly too unthinkable. Then again, so did this policy only a year or two ago.
Perhaps we will see evidence of the second part of that Scripture verse in the near future. There is already a serious campaign underway to oust the school board chairman (the chief architect of this policy). Meanwhile, all eight seats are up for reelection this year. Maybe Prince William residents will say “Enough is enough. Stop making my kids the objects of your radical social experiments.”
For the sake of the many who have not forgotten how to blush, let’s hope so.
Religious Liberty Victory!Jun. 27, 2017
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Trinity Lutheran Church in Missouri in a major decision in favor of religious liberty. On a 7-2 vote, the Court held that when a church was excluded from a public grant program simply because of its religious character, even though the church’s application was ranked 5th out of 44 applicants (14 were granted), the state violated the First Amendment. Read the full opinion here.
In the Court’s words, “denying a generally available benefit solely on account of religious identity imposes a penalty on the free exercise of religion," and that “it remain[s] a fundamental principle of this Court’s free exercise jurisprudence that laws imposing ‘special disabilities on the basis of...religious status’ trigger the strictest scrutiny." In other words, the government can't exclude religious entities simply because they are religious. If it excludes religious groups, it has to have a really, really good reason.
This case is not only a great reaffirmation of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious exercise, but it has potentially far-reaching implications for other important issues. Central to this case was Missouri’s state constitutional amendment that bars all state funds from going directly or indirectly to religious entities. Commonly known as a “Blaine Amendment”, many other states, including Virginia, have a similar constitutional provision. In recent years, these Blaine Amendments have been the single greatest impediment to expanding education options for parents by preventing initiatives like school voucher programs.
Opponents of school choice have used the Blaine Amendment to stop parents from using their tax dollars to send their kids to a school of their choice because many parents would choose a religiously-based private education. Some analysts are hopeful that today’s Court opinion may provide an opportunity to strike down Virginia’s discriminatory Blaine Amendment once and for all.
Monday's opinion also should provide even greater protection to faith-based entities like charities, hospitals, and universities, many of whom have been coming under increased pressure to choose between their central religious beliefs or continued public benefits. In it's opinion, the Supreme Court repudiated that notion.
All in all, an encouraging victory for religious freedom!
They'll Stop at NothingJun. 22, 2017
Over the objections of thousands of Prince William County parents and students throughout the past year, not to mention a mountain of unanswered legal questions, the school board there defiantly voted (5-3) last night to push through a policy that could allow boys in Prince William County schools to use the girls' locker rooms, bathrooms, and showers, and even to be paired with females in overnight lodging situations.
And what was the Board's response to these concerns? Well, it wasn't to deny that these things would now be permissible, but instead only to dismissively declare various versions of "Oh, that'll never happen." Such a response does make you wonder if these folks really know anything at all about the experience of middle school and high school, adolescent males, teenagers generally, history, or human nature.
Or more likely, they just don't care.
The Board's action last night came after a groundswell of outrage and public pressure last September forced the Board to punt on the issue until this summer (conveniently when school would be out and parents would be less engaged with school policies, or on vacation). In that time, the Board managed to gather the cover they needed in order for a majority of them to vote to place every child in danger - ironically in the name of "safety for all." After going practically off the radar since September, the LGBT activists emerged for yesterday's meeting highly mobilized and organized, all of them showing up more than two hours early to pack the front of the room, and all of them decked out in purple. Even so, as the evening progressed, more and more opponents of the policy change arrived, ending with a crowd split about evenly.
And while the Board and proponents tried to sidestep the issue of opposite sex children in intimate settings by including “guidance” language that says bathroom and locker room policies won’t change, the reality is that the policy adopted cannot be limited in such a way.
But last night’s vote was really just part of the story. Just hours before the meeting, it was revealed that the school board chairman, Ryan Sawyers, ripping a page out of Governor Terry McAuliffe’s playbook of ignoring the law and policy, had tried to use his power and influence to manipulate who was allowed to speak during the required public comment period. Board policy states that the first ten people who sign up with the Board clerk speak, but the chair had sent text messages to the clerk demanding that the names he submitted be placed “at the top of the list.” Exposed through a Freedom of Information Act from Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas), the Board then received a letter from our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom explaining that if normal rules weren’t followed, any vote would be subject to legal challenge.
Unlike Governor McAuliffe’s Board of Health, which flippantly ignored the law when it scaled back abortion center safety standards, the Board backed off and followed normal public comment policy.
But both the willingness of the Board chair to ignore the law and the mobilization of secular progressives shows that those who wish to force their dangerous agenda on our children will stop at nothing to accomplish their goal. Public outrage doesn’t matter, the law doesn’t matter, truth doesn’t matter, science doesn’t matter.
So what’s the answer? Pro-family Virginians need to re-double our efforts to organize and mobilize. Churches need to stand up and be willing to mobilize to school board meetings across Virginia. And, people who understand that the dignity, privacy and safety of our children – not to mention DNA – matter need to run for school boards across Virginia!
If science and reality don’t affect school board members, maybe a few election losses will.
Breaking: PWC School Board Chair Violates Law?Jun. 20, 2017
The chairman of the Prince William County School Board has apparently decided to take a page out of Governor Terry McAuliffe’s playbook and violate the law and policy to accomplish his personal agenda.
The Board is set to vote tomorrow night on a controversial policy that would threaten the dignity, privacy and safety of school children in intimate settings like showers and locker rooms. At multiple meetings over the past year, opponents to the policy have dominated the public comment period at board meetings. Apparently, the chair of the board, Ryan Sawyers, is tired of the opposition – you know, parents and grandparents of children in the schools. (Sawyers is currently seeking the Democrat nomination to run for Congress in the First District.)
Through text messages obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request from Delegate Bob Marshall, it was revealed that that Sawyers is apparently trying to use his power and influence to place hand selected speakers at the top of the public comment list for tomorrow's meeting, instead of requiring them to sign up like everyone else.
The first person Sawyers wants to speak? The first openly transgendered candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates who just happens to be running against Marshall in Prince William County.
That would be called a politically motivated PR stunt.
At the last school board meeting, the first ten people who had signed up were able to speak during the public comment period, but several others were forced to wait until the end of the meeting to speak, at the decision of the chair. If that same thing happens tomorrow, it would mean that Sawyers' hand selected proponents of the policy would be able to speak before the vote, but all those who oppose would be forced to wait until after the vote to speak.
According to Marshall’s press release, “A Legislative Services attorney advised Marshall today that the Prince William School Board’s own regulations (133-1) in sections B and E, provide that persons are to speak in the order in which they have put in their requests to speak. Chairman Sawyers’ directive that his preferred list of supporters speak first, ‘cannot be given precedence over any speakers who signed up with the Clerk to speak before the submission by the chair.’”
Marshall said, “I asked the PW School Board Clerk today whether Sawyers’ list was submitted after others had requested to speak. The Clerk responded that other citizens had already signed up to speak prior to the Chairman’s submission. Legal counsel further advised me that if the Board failed to follow its own regulations in adopting transgender policy changes, that failure could give rise to a court invalidation of such action.”
Of course, in Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia, rules and regulations are simply a burden to be ignored. It is his administration that violated the law multiple times to roll back abortion center health and safety standards, a decision that is now being challenged in court. Apparently, now others are following his lead, knowing that the media won’t hold them accountable, and few have the resources to fight these illegal acts in court.
It remains to be seen if the Board bows to the chairman’s illegal action or follows the law.
Media reports indicate that five members of the eight member board are prepared to vote favorably on the dangerous policy, despite overwhelming public opposition.
Of FatherhoodJun. 19, 2017
Recently, my daughter celebrated her eleventh birthday. As with any parent, I’m amazed at just how fast time has passed. Like most kids at her age, she’s caught between wanting to be a lot older than she is at times (see “teenager”), while still also wanting to stay a child. I know which daddy would prefer!
As we celebrated her birthday, I realized that at the age she reached, eleven, I lost my mom to cancer. It is hard for me now to comprehend that I was that young when my mom died. In my memory, I was never really eleven. My mom’s death forced me to take on a level of responsibility few kids are prepared for, and as I look at my daughter, I realize just how young and unprepared I was for what I had to handle.
But I was blessed by having a dad who took on the responsibility of raising me as a single parent and never, ever wavered. As I grew up, my dad was always there for me. He became my best friend, my mentor, my confidant, my advisor, and my constant encourager. It’s impossible for me to completely express what he did to form who I am today. Don’t get me wrong, he was far from perfect, but considering the circumstances, I can’t imagine what my life would be like if he had been anyone other than who he was.
But despite all he did, there is one thing my dad could never be, no matter how hard he tried. He couldn’t be my mom.
Now, it doesn’t mean he didn’t fill some of that role. Every single-parent has to fill the role of both parents as well as they can. But I believe if people who have experienced being raised by a single parent are completely honest, they’d tell you that their parent couldn’t fulfill both roles completely. That’s not an indictment or criticism or judgment on those single parents. It’s the result of the simple reality that moms and dads fill different roles because men and women are different.
Even now as my wife and I raise our daughter it is abundantly obvious that we parent differently. There is a role my wife plays in my daughter’s life that I simply cannot fill, and vise versa. Again, those aren’t weaknesses, they are not societal constructs. They are the result of the fact that I am male, she is female, and we are different. She can’t be my husband, I can’t be her wife. She can’t be dad, and I can’t be mom. Our strengths and weaknesses complement each other for the benefit of our child.
But in our culture today we are being told that’s not acceptable. Indeed, we are being told that this reality is dangerous, discriminatory and bigoted. We are witnessing a “progressive” drive to erase “gender-specific” terms like “husband” and “wife” from the law because they offend people who don’t emotionally align with their biology. They brush aside truth and social science and replace it with personal motives and desires. They argue that kids simply need to be “loved” and everything will be okay. They conclude that the gender differences moms and dads bring to parenting are social constructs or patriarchal deceptions and that there really are no differences and that mom and dad are interchangeable.
Sorry, but it simply isn’t true. Sure, kids are resilient and can overcome a lot, but if we want the best possible outcomes for our kids, our law and policy should strive to encourage a two-parent family with a mother and a father because each brings something different and necessary to family. To purposefully deny children one or the other to fulfill the emotional needs of adults is narcissistic.
Single parents have it tough. Often, like in my dad’s case, it isn’t by choice. Primarily, it’s the consequence of someone else’s decisions or tragedy. Many do a remarkable job considering their circumstances. But to ignore the reality that men can’t be moms and women can’t be dads isn’t hateful. It’s accepting of the real and, frankly, remarkable differences found in humanity. The mysterious and wonderful differences between men and women, between mothers and fathers.
It’s amazing that those who claim to fight for “diversity” are bent on removing the differences between men and women because it is within those differences where the strength of true diversity thrives. It is amidst those differences that children are more likely to find success. To deny children that diversity is not progress, it’s shameful.
FLE: Parents Know BestJun. 16, 2017
Fairfax County Public Schools is currently taking comments through this weekend until June 18th at FLEComments@fcps.edu on their planned sexual education (AKA “Family Life” education) program. When you hear some of the things included, you will probably be provoked to contact them immediately.
Here are just a few of the messages that are included in the over 80 hours of planned sexual education for each student from kindergarten to 12th grade:
- A video for 4th graders on sexual violence prevention includes the theme of a father raping his daughter. (Emotional and Social Health, Lesson 3)
- Lessons on transgenderism beginning in Grade 7 (Emotional and Social Health Lesson 1)
- One lesson for 8th graders includes 18 mentions of the phrase, "anal sex." (Human Growth and Development, Lesson 2)
- Students are taught they might be "assigned" the wrong sex at birth and they can "transition...to living and presenting themselves as the gender that matches their gender identity." (Grade 10, Human Growth and Development, Lesson 5)
- You can learn more about the lessons at http://parentandchild.org/
In addition to FCPS’s “Family Life” education materials going well beyond what is required by state guidelines, these materials clearly go well beyond what is appropriate for school children to be exposed to by persons other than their parents at home.
Many of the planned sexual education materials can be deeply harmful to children who are not yet prepared to appropriately internalize certain concepts such as rape, incest, and ‘gender fluidity’. Not to mention, these messages may be fundamentally opposed to the truth about sexuality and gender, and to the values you wish to instill in your child.
If you live in Fairfax County, tell FCPS today that parents know best about when their child is ready to learn about these highly sensitive topics. Email them today with your objections.
From Beginning to EndJun. 13, 2017
What does being “pro-life” really mean?
America it seems has turned the phrase “pro-life” into little more than a simple political stance on abortion.
But you and I realize that being pro-life is far more than a political bumper sticker or slogan. It’s a way of life that values human life at every stage. Today, I’m excited to announce a new Family Foundation campaign, “From Beginning to End.” This campaign is meant to remind us what we’re called to do as Christians when we decide that we are pro-life – that we would be pro-life from beginning to end.
From the first time you hear an unborn baby’s heartbeat until those last final days spent with a dying parent or loved one, each season of life, and everything in between, holds priceless value.
It’s clear that our culture has lost a deep respect for the value of human life. It’s time to reevaluate and become proactive in our comprehensive understanding of being pro-life.
Pro-life Americans are often accused of not caring about anything but the baby, but that’s another lie of our culture. But we know that there are more pregnancy centers helping women through an unplanned pregnancy by providing resources and support than there are abortion centers. We know that churches and ministries across America pour vast resources into helping vulnerable communities every single day, including facilitating adoptions and assisting in foster care for thousands.
But we also know that we can and we must do more.
Being pro-life means more of us must be praying for an unwed mother facing an unplanned pregnancy; it means more of us must volunteer at or donating to the local pregnancy center that is doing all it can to help that mother meet her financial and material needs so she’ll choose life; it means lending a helping hand when that baby is screaming while the pastor is preaching, and that young mother is craving God’s Word; it means that we follow up with that couple and ask if they need diapers or a babysitter to sit for free a few nights a week so that both of those kids, who are now parents, can get their GED or go to college.
This kind of care is pro-life. One must not be only supportive of the existence of their baby, but lend actual support to the parent's well-being, their joy and hope. One is pro-life when he/she joins another on their journey, and privilege of bringing new life into the world.
For some families, being pro-life means a willingness to be foster parents to an orphaned child or for a child whose family is in crisis; it's supporting the plethora of faith-based organizations that assist with foster care and adoption; it means supporting and fighting for the religious charities that serve vulnerable communities like the homeless or victims of domestic violence.
Being pro-life means taking dinner to the elderly widow in your church whose husband has passed and who now sits alone in her house just waiting for her time to come. It means that one shows her the love of Christ and values her opinion and thoughts. Do we love her? Listen to her, or take her out for a night on the town so she feels young again, and not alone? How do we value her life?
Being pro-life means that one is generous and supportive of the middle-aged couple that can never seem to get ahead in their finances and always seems to struggle. Can we feel the hopelessness in their life, the tension it creates in their marriage? Are we as a “pro-life” community watching them drown? Do we pray for them or treat them to dinner? Watch their kids for a night? Or maybe even use our contracting businesses to help with home repairs they can’t finance?
This campaign is a call to encourage everyone to consider how we define being pro-life. Are we comprehensively pro-life? Does our support inadvertently stop after the baby is born? Or do we continue to love people with the love of Christ in every season of their life?
At The Family Foundation, we want to lead Virginians be pro-life “From Beginning to End.” Every stage and season; every breath taken and every heartbeat is so important. We have to remind ourselves and each other to fight to restore lost hope, and lost relationship with Christ.
Jesus gave his life, so that we may have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
We must protect life “From Beginning to End.”
The Family Foundation has put together a campaign encouraging all of us to think about ways we can be pro-life “From Beginning to End.” Many you can do individually or through your church or another local ministry. There are also a few ways you can help us was we kick-off this campaign:
- Become a monthly donor of just $15.00 dollars a month or give a one-time donation of $25.00 and receive one of our Special Edition, “From Beginning to End T-Shirts”.
- Create a video or social media post sharing why you’re pro-life. Be sure to tag The Family Foundation and use the hashtag #frombeginningtoend.
- Go to The Family Foundation Action Facebook page, watch and share one of our #frombeginningtoend videos.
- Invite Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb to speak at your church about the great work The Family Foundation is doing.
- Join the Family Foundation’s new grassroots Regional Action Teams and see where you can make a difference!
Diversity or Adversity?Jun. 08, 2017
by Richard Wiley
Liberty University Law School
“We value the diversity of people, cultures, ideas and viewpoints and honor the dignity of all persons, ” says the Community College of Baltimore County’s (“CCBC”) website. “We are committed to preparing students to be active citizens, ready to meet the challenges of an increasingly diverse world and a changing global marketplace.”
In fact, CCBC is so devoted to diversity that its student body is 2% multicultural, 33% African-American, 5% Asian, 5% Hispanic, 7% unknown, and 46% white. Yet despite the allegedly strong atmosphere of all-inclusiveness, there is at least one characteristic that the school has repeatedly refused to tolerate.
When Dustin Buxton prepared for his interview with CCBC, a government entity, to join the college’s radiation therapy program, loaded questions about his faith were probably the last thing on his mind. In an interview in May of 2013, instead of avoiding religion, the program’s interview panel asked Buxton point-blank, “What do you base your morals on?” Buxton’s response was concise and honest: “my faith.”
Buxton’s answer was the only reference to faith in the interview. Yet the Program Director, Adrienne Dougherty, purported in a review of the interview that she deducted points from Buxton’s application because, according to her, “he brought up religion a great deal during the interview.” The Director went on to say, “[y]es, this is a field that involves death and dying; but religion cannot be brought up in the clinic by therapist or students.” Dougherty even challenged Buxton saying, “If you interview in the future, you may want to leave your thoughts and beliefs out of the interview process.”
For a school that is all about the diversity of beliefs and the inclusion of ideas, CCBC seems to have taken a rather exclusive approach to faith. The interview does not contain a specific reference to Christianity or any other religion at all. Faith was the only religion-like word that was introduced during Buxton’s conversation with the panel.
If CCBC truly desires to support diversity and professionalism in the profession, they should encourage people of faith to apply to its programs. This would expose prospective practitioners to various religious backgrounds and acquaint them with how to respond when a patient maintains beliefs that require certain procedures or treatments.
Unfortunately, Buxton was not accepted to the radiation therapy program in 2013. His determination, however, was undiminished when he applied again in 2014. Yet, this time, CCBC refused to even grant Buxton an interview. Moreover, CCBC went beyond rejecting Buxton and barred him from registering for any classes at all, even classes unrelated to the radiation therapy program. Apparently, Buxton was unable to register for these other classes because of a hold on his account related to the May interview. This hold was dated July 1, 2014, to December 31, 2099, barring Buxton from registration for 85 years.
Because, if you’re going to refuse admission, you might as well make it effective for the next 85 years just in case the applicant reapplies when they are over one-hundred years old.
The American Center for Law and Justice (“ACLJ”) took Buxton’s case two years ago as it had with a similar case regarding a radiation therapy program applicant named Brandon Jenkins just five months prior to Buxton’s suit. In June of 2015, the ACLJ contacted CCBC and convinced CCBC to remove the hold on Buxton’s account. However, CCBC still refused to admit Buxton. In its 2016 decision, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland granted summary judgment in favor of CCBC, holding that the right to private free speech is waived in academic admissions processes and that denial of admission based on the assumption that an applicant’s religious expression indicates that the applicant will impose his faith on patients in practice satisfies the Establishment Clause.
Yes, you read that right. A court determined that simply having a faith – any faith apparently – automatically determines that you will “impose” that faith in practice at some point in the future. In other words, this court just eliminated due process and allowed someone to be punished for something they might do, not something they did.
ACLJ has petitioned the Fourth Circuit to reverse this decision, although the deadline for this decision is still uncertain.
In the meantime, let’s just hope that other colleges do not adopt CCBC’s 85-year rejection policy. We know that in today’s “higher education” climate, free speech and particularly free religious speech are under assault. If our courts determine that blanket viewpoint discrimination is allowable in admissions to universities it’ll “fix” the problem conservatives often face on college campuses by preventing them from ever getting to college.
Board of Health is at it againJun. 02, 2017
Terry McAuliffe’s Board of Health just can’t seem to help itself. When it isn’t ignoring or violating the law, it’s contradicting itself. At least when it comes to the issue of abortion.
At what promised to be an uneventful meeting yesterday with little reason for conflict, the Board was again forced by one of its members to deal with the issue of abortion center safety standards.
One of the first actions by the Board came after one member made a motion to end what had become a staple of the meetings – the “Abortion Facility Licensure Status Report.” Unusual in that it was the only report of facilities licensed by the Department of Health that was required to be given at each meeting, staff usually gave vague data on “complaints” against facilities and rarely about what was found in inspections. Arguing for the motion, one member – a McAuliffe appointee – said they should end the reports because of “pending litigation” regarding actions by the Board. Another Board member responded that the litigation has nothing whatsoever to do with the reports.
Board members in favor of quashing the reports also argued that they didn’t want to “elevate” review of abortion centers over all the other health entities the Board regulates. In opposition, others argued that because public interest in the abortion center standards far exceeded its interest in any other action ever taken by the Board, the report seemed reasonable.
The arguments in favor of the reports fell on deaf ears, however, and the Board voted to end the reporting.
Ironically, it was those on the Board who were viscerally opposed to the health and safety standards for abortion centers who several years ago demanded that the report be given at each meeting! Now, those opposed to the standards argued and voted against the report. Originally, it was pro-abortion Board members who asked to “elevate” the notoriety of abortion centers over everything else, but now they oppose that idea. In other words, they were for it before they were against it.
Well, given the Board has eviscerated the standards to the point of making inspections nearly meaningless, one could see how there would be little reason for regular updates. At this point, public health inspectors who go into abortion centers can overlook bloody, unsterilized equipment, violations of state drug laws, untrained staff members who don’t wash hands between patients, and a host of other health threats since the Board determined those standards to be too onerous for poor, poor abortion centers.
Then again, outside of writing these kinds of violations on an inspection report and then accepting what amounted to little more than pinky promises from abortion centers that they’d “do better next time,” it’s not like the Department of Health held abortion centers accountable anyway.
The action by the Board really is just another effort to allow abortion centers in Virginia to once again hide behind a veil of politically motivated secrecy. Terry McAuliffe’s Board of Health has done all it can to single abortion centers out from being held to the same standards as other similar medical facilities, and now it wants them to go back to operating in the dark.
Our goal is to make that as difficult as possible! That’s why we’re supporting the lawsuit against the McAuliffe administration’s blatant disregard of the law in its zealous effort to roll back abortion center standards. Learn more about the case and how you can help here.
But that’s not all we have planned. More on that in the coming months…
McAuliffe's EconomyJun. 01, 2017
This week our salesman-in-chief Governor Terry McAuliffe touted that Virginia was once again named a Top 10 state for business by Site Selection magazine, coming in at number six. This is apparently a good thing, even prestigious. Given that Virginia had been dropping like a rock in nearly every similar business ranking since he took office, it’s not surprising the Governor’s press office tried to make a big deal out of this one.
In his press release, the Governor said, “We are working every day to build a new Virginia economy that works for everyone, and moving back into the top 10 in Site Selection’s prestigious Prosperity Cup ranking is evidence that those efforts are paying off.”
Pretty boiler plate stuff.
What was interesting, however, was what wasn’t mentioned in the Governor’s press release, given that in nearly every speech he’s made he’s been sure to mention how terrible things are in our neighbor state to the south, North Carolina, because its legislature dared attempt to protect the privacy of women and children in public restrooms. He’s demeaned and demonized the Tar Heel state, and ridiculed efforts to protect women and children here in Virginia. He’s attacked efforts to defend religious liberty while he’s also made sure his efforts to increase the number of abortions in Virginia has been front and center in his messaging about making Virginia more “open” for the kinds of businesses that care about such things. Yet in this press release, not a peep.
At least until you look at the actual Site Selection rankings and low and behold what state do you find at the top of the list? Well, it ain’t Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia.
You guessed it, the top state in the nation for business according to Site Selection would be North Carolina.
Amazingly, despite the media-driven, leftist hysteria generated by the now famous HB 2, businesses are still moving to North Carolina, apparently at a higher rate than the Old Dominion. Perhaps public policies like low tax rates actually do matter to intelligent business owners despite state Senator Dick Saslaw’s remarkable claim made during session that he didn’t know of a single business that ever made a decision about where to locate based on the tax rate.
Anyway, if we’ve learned anything from the HB 2 debacle it is this: the narrative wins out over reality every single time. Reality tells us that North Carolina is doing just fine, better even than Virginia. But my guess is that if you asked most lawmakers or your average citizen they’d be convinced otherwise.
"it's a person, it's killing"Jun. 01, 2017
Governor Terry McAuliffe this week was honored by the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood for his aggressive obsession with ensuring more women have abortions while receiving fewer other medical services at the $1 billion business’s four Virginia abortion centers.
Now, that’s not exactly how they phrased it, but that’s the reality. You see, about the same time the Governor was getting all that love from Virginia Planned Parenthood, the national abortion industry giant was releasing its annual report – a few months later than normal. The report revealed that while the number of abortions performed at its abortion centers increased last year, the number of other “services” provided continued to decline, all while the entity received an increase in taxpayer funding, amounting to a tidy profit for the “non-profit” of around $59 million.
Oh, and it once again performed zero – zero! – Mammograms, despite continuing rhetoric by the abortion industry to the contrary. And the pre-natal care its CEO touted while defending it taxpayer subsidizing? A nearly 50 percent decrease. (You can learn more about this deception here.)
Of course, I doubt that the McAuliffe-honoring “ceremony … at the Glave Kocen Gallery in Richmond” included a showing of the recently released video of a Planned Parenthood representative discussing on a panel about baby “heads that get stuck” and the “hemorrhages that we manage” while admitting, “Given that we actually see the fetus the same way, and given that we might actually both agree that there’s violence in here. . . . Let’s just give them all the violence, it’s a person, it’s killing, let’s just give them all that.” Or other abortion industry representatives gruesomely discussing “the challenges of removing legs and breaking small skulls, and laugh[ing] over surprising moments of their practice, like ‘when an eyeball just fell down …and that is gross!’”
Or, as reported by The Daily Signal:
Then again, with this kind of inhumane, diabolical attitude that permeates the secular left, perhaps that was the over-dessert conversation with the Governor. Perhaps the Governor found the describing of the tearing apart of defenseless human beings a barrel of laughs. Certainly, the people he chooses to be honored by, receive money from and spend time with find it all very humorous.
Make no mistake about the power that Planned Parenthood holds over our government. A “Republican” Congress has yet to fully defund it; the Democrat party has made it clear that it welcomes no one who doesn’t bow to it; the courts have attacked free speech by ordering videos that expose the organization (and entire abortion industry) to be removed from public domains such as YouTube; all this while media acts as its unpaid PR firm.
But know this: we aren’t intimidated by nor will we ever stop fighting Planned Parenthood. We will work with our national allies to do all we can to continue to expose it and the rest of the abortion industry; we will push back against any governor or government that seeks to take your hard earned taxpayer dollars to prop it up; we will push lawmakers to defund it of those dollars; and we will continue to fight for the protection of unborn human babies from the violence of Planned Parenthood and Terry McAuliffe.
The End of Mothers and FathersMay. 17, 2017
Men can’t be mothers. Women can’t be fathers. The fact of it is so self-evident, that it seems wholly unnecessary to state. And yet, even as I write this, I’m struck by the inescapable impression that many among us now not only disagree with this proposition, but actually believe it to be “immoral” to maintain.
Demonstrating just how widely this new viewpoint is being embraced, just a few weeks ago, Dove, a household name in skincare products (also my former soap bar provider), produced this ad about mothers, wherein it features a couple – a male and a female – and their new baby. In the ad, the man (with long hair and a tank top, but otherwise clearly a man) explains how both he and the woman are the child’s biological parents but that both of them “are the moms.” The camera focuses in on him cradling his baby suggestive of a typical new mother, and then later films him saying “there’s no one right way to do it all.” Amazingly, Dove picked the hashtag “#RealMoms” for its agenda-driven campaign.
The problem is that there’s nothing “real” at all about this man being his child’s “mother.” The moment this man contributed his half of the child’s DNA, he indisputably became the child’s father. Meanwhile, that child – like all children – critically needs him to live up to his fatherhood role. Yet Dove seems to be doing its best to legitimize and normalize a destructive falsehood – one that will have devastating consequences for that man, his family, his child, and for society at large. Sadly, Dove is not alone. It is but one of many examples in this recent push towards mass delusion.
Unfortunately, throwing science and reason to the wind has not been limited to select private entities or even to a rapidly changing culture. This pervasive disavowal of fundamental truths is permeating all levels and every branch of civil government.
Consider Knox County, TN, whose courts for the first time last week granted a woman all the legal rights of a “husband” in her same-sex “divorce” proceedings. Despite Tennessee’s clear statutory language of a “husband” and a “wife”, the judge determined that because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell opinion eviscerating the definition of civil marriage, the “law” required him to designate the woman as a “husband”, without regard to the fact that only males can be husbands.
But it’s even worse than that. Because the woman was granted all the legal rights of a “husband,” she was also legally recognized as the “father” of the child that her partner birthed through artificial insemination. In the “law” it seems, women really can be fathers after all. Or, at least in the imaginary world we’ve created for ourselves in post-Obergefell America.
The problem is that when both the culture and the law nullify all meaningful distinctions between moms and dads to make them essentially interchangeable, then any and all significance of moms and dads evaporates along with them. Consequently in such a world, moms and dads no longer matter. And suddenly what we once celebrated as being intrinsically unique and worthy of being set apart, cherished, and encouraged is now no more special than any other person or thing. And since a mom and a dad are no longer considered a necessary and complementary part of a whole, there is no reason to be concerned about the absence of one or both in the life of a child.
Yet the fact remains, no matter what anyone says and no matter how fervently the culture strives to exchange the real world for a pretend world of its own making, kids will always need a mom and a dad. Many decades of social science leave no doubt about it. And even when that isn’t possible for every child, it’s still true that every child has the best opportunity to flourish when they have both a mom and a dad who play a central and distinct role in their lives. And not only that, but women will continue to be best suited for the nurturing role that only mothers can uniquely fulfill in their child’s life. And likewise, men will continue to be best suited for the corrective and affirming role that only a father can uniquely play in the life of his child.
Thus, despite this new movement’s relentless pursuit to shatter these notions, it can never actually succeed in doing so. That doesn’t mean, however, that it won’t have the effect of shattering a whole lot of lives in the process of trying. We have a responsibility to help ensure that doesn’t happen, because moms and dads are treasures of incomparable worth, and nothing and no one could ever take their place in the life of a child.
If ever we took that for granted, let this be our wake-up call.
Booing God in ChesterfieldMay. 12, 2017
It seems that booing God and America’s distinct religious heritage has come to Virginia, the birthplace of religious freedom, even taking place just a few miles from the very place where the Statute for Religious Freedom passed into law.
Needless to say, the overtly anti-faith wing of the secular left is no longer a small segment to be ignored, but has become the dominant force on the left driving not just an anti-faith political movement, but sadly, an entire political party.
In case you didn’t see it in news coverage of this week’s Town Hall meeting in Chesterfield with local Congressman Dave Brat – oh wait, you couldn’t have since none of the multiple media stories about the event mentioned it – the crowd repeatedly booed any reference to God. From the start, where the crowd booed the pastor of the church where the event was held and booed when the name of the church was mentioned, the crowd was openly hostile to the idea of faith.
But topping it off were the resounding boos that came when Congressman Brat dared state that our rights come from God:
Of course, as rejecting the principles on which our nation was founded becomes more celebrated, the more of this we’re going to see. The secular left is unrestrained and unashamed of its hatred for God and God-fearing Americans. Obviously, there are many on the left who believe that rights are granted to us by government (i.e. man), therefore making government their god. They don’t seem to understand (or maybe they do?) why a government that has the power to grant rights also has the power to eliminate them.
Yet again, the media failed to mention any of this in its coverage. Why? Do they agree with the protestors? Or are they concerned that if Virginians were made aware of this kind of anti-faith action on the left they’d quickly reject it? Media bias is revealed just as much in what it chooses not to report as what is does report. Ignoring the anti-faith booing is yet another example.
Our response to this hostility cannot be to behave in a similar way. We know the truth, and as Thomas Jefferson said in the Statute for Religious Freedom, “that truth is great and will prevail, if left to herself; that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict.” Our response must simply be to remain informed of the truth of our religious heritage, and its importance in maintaining a civil society. And we must be willing to teach our kids, inform our friends and neighbors, and vote only for those who do not arrogantly believe that they are the source of our freedom.
No Conversion AllowedMay. 03, 2017
There’s a growing movement afoot which seeks to legally ban licensed counselors from helping minors overcome same-sex sexual attractions or to reconcile struggles in accepting their own gender. In Virginia, we’ve staved off bills recently that would do just that (2016 -HB 427, SB 262, SB 267). These efforts gained more traction last week when a group of 68 Congressmen (all Democrats) introduced what they’ve titled the “Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act”, which would make it illegal – potentially even criminal – for “any person” to assist a minor in changing their “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.” Not surprisingly, however, such persons remain free to “provide assistance to an individual undergoing a gender transition” or to “provide acceptance, support, and understanding of a client or facilitate a client's coping, social support, and identity exploration and development.”
So let me get this straight: At the same time the new Left insists that adolescents as young as five years old be unconditionally supported in “changing” their birth gender and in “exploring” the outer reaches of their sexual curiosities, they are actively demanding that those same kids be legally barred from receiving professional counseling to overcome certain sexual thoughts and feelings they may develop along the way, even when those feelings are unwanted or unhealthy?
That’s right, kids. You have an absolute right to trust your feelings when they contradict biology, social science, and traditional morality, and we’ve even got an endless supply of adult counselors lined up to affirm you in them. But if you so much as think about changing your mind, then you’re out of luck – since, after all, we care so much about your “health” and “safety.” Oh, and by the way, anyone who tries to help you may be a fraudulent criminal.
So much for “self-determination” of the patient, the cardinal rule of the counselor-patient relationship.
There are, of course, a number of obvious problems with this concept (too many to list here). Chief among them is that most Americans identify as being a part of a major faith group (e.g. Christian, Jewish, Muslim), and the traditional views of at least the top three involve moral guidelines and truth claims about the nature of male and female and human sexual behaviors. This “law” runs roughshod over these long and deeply held views and makes no exemptions for those who hold them. Both those who counsel and those who seek counsel would now be prohibited by law from incorporating their faith when seeking resolution to a crisis of identity.
The second obvious (and frankly so brazenly preposterous as to defy belief) problem is the blatant double-standard which provides that counselors may only affirm a child when they seek to entertain and indulge certain sexual thoughts, feelings, and inclinations, BUT that counselors may never affirm or aid a child when the child (or his parents) seeks to challenge or correct certain sexual thoughts, feelings, and inclinations – especially and particularly those sexual inclinations which diverge from natural human behavior. In other words, only certain feelings will be sanctioned, and only those ones which tend to be profoundly damaging to children. This places faith-based counselors in a true ethical dilemma, while at the same time depriving a child of the guidance they need during the most critical window of time for healthy emotional realignment, with the effect of further solidifying the child’s misguided feelings about themselves and others.
But maybe worst of all, this policy shamelessly declares, in essence: ‘No, you can’t change – not even if you want to. What you feel is the essence of who you are. Accept it, embrace it, and don’t let anyone help you see a better way for your life – especially those people who may actually know what they’re talking about. And by the way, not only are you incapable of – and now prohibited from – changing, but there’s not a thing wrong with you. You’re perfect just the way you are. And since perfect people don’t need fixing, any effort to help you do so is futile and actually harmful to you.’ (Note the very first line of the bill: “Congress makes the following findings: (1) Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or gender nonconforming is not a disorder, disease, illness, deficiency, or shortcoming.”)
But for people of faith, and particularly Christians, this view goes against everything they believe about the human condition. (i.e. That every person is imperfect and broken; that they are unable to fix themselves on their own; that by the power of God through the message of truth and love, a person can be transformed into someone new; that God will help them overcome temptations and even change their desires; that God’s design for their sexuality is far better for them than any other way, and that all others will lead to disappointment, dissatisfaction and ultimately destruction.) Such an edict, then, is wholly incompatible with the religious freedom of most Americans.
Ultimately, to tell a person that they cannot change and that there is no one who can help them do so is to tell them that there is no hope.
But in fact, there is hope. People can and have changed. And with the aid of professional counseling, countless many youth have learned to cope with struggles which plagued them, and they’ve gone on to flourish in their lives. And why would it not be so in the area of their sexuality or gender? Even the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association acknowledge, for example, that as many as 98% of gender-confused boys and as many as 88% of gender-confused girls eventually accept their chromosomal sex by adolescence or adulthood if allowed to do so.
The real harm to children in these situations is in preventing them from getting the help they need in their time of conflict. And because that’s precisely what these measures would do, and because we know that there is always hope for people who want to change, we owe it to our children to do everything in our power to ensure these policies' defeat in every place they may be found.
It's Your ChoiceMay. 03, 2017
As public schools across the Commonwealth are beginning to prepare for next school year, many are alerting parents about the so-called “required” human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for girls entering the 6th grade.
But saying there is an HPV vaccine requirement is misleading because the General Assembly included a parental opt-out when it passed the controversial law in 2007. You may remember the debate when the powerful pharmaceutical company Merck, pushing its drug Gardasil, spent millions of dollars in marketing the drug nationally trying to convince state legislatures to require its vaccine. Only two states (and Washington, DC) fell for the pitch – Virginia and Rhode Island. But questions about the safety of the drug and the fact that HPV, as then Governor Tim Kaine said, “is not communicable in a school setting,” led lawmakers to give parents the option of not subjecting their rising 6th-grade girls to the series of shots.
Unfortunately, some schools are apparently not being forthright with that detail.
Consider, for example, a flyer being distributed by the Chesterfield County Public Schools that states, “The HPV vaccine is required for all girls entering sixth grade,” with no mention of the parental opt-out.
If you have a rising sixth-grade girl and your school is pushing you to vaccinate for HPV and you do not want to, it’s your choice. You can click here to see the law (print it out and bring it to the school if you have to!).
Regardless of whether you think the vaccine is necessary or not, it’s important that you as a parent at least know you have a choice in the matter and that you be able to exercise your authority to make decisions in the best interest of your children.
If you don’t think it’s a good idea for your child, it’s totally up to you – no explanations needed. That’s the bottom line.
Suing Terry McAuliffeApr. 24, 2017
No matter what you think about abortion centers or the standards of health and safety that govern them, there is one thing on which we should all agree: The law matters.
It would seem to be a matter of bi-partisan concern, then, when over the course of more than three years, the Virginia Department of Health, at the prompting and with the aid of the Governor and Attorney General, engaged in actions which violated numerous provisions of the Administrative Process Act, various other sections of the Virginia Code, and Gov. McAuliffe’s own Executive Order clarifying the rules of the regulatory process. In doing so, the Department impermissibly expanded its amending of six regulatory sections to a total of twenty-one sections, and the public was effectively shut out of the process. Their goal: to roll back as many of the health and safety standards for abortion centers as possible in order to shield the abortion industry at all costs. (With over 1,400 individual violations cited in VA’s abortion centers since 2012, is it any wonder?)
The Family Foundation and others fought the Department every step of the way. We warned them that their actions could lead to costly litigation. Those warnings fell on deaf ears. Eventually, political might won out, as the watered-down standards were rammed through. The administration’s actions appear to be unprecedented in the extent of their lawlessness. Sadly, over the past four years, such actions have come to be expected of this administration when it comes to providing cover and resources for abortionists like Planned Parenthood.
Yet in a society where the rule of law has the final word, political might cannot make “right.” The rule of law must reign supreme. Not even the king himself is above the authority of the law. (See The Magna Carta) The Family Foundation still believes this, and that’s why we’re suing Governor McAuliffe’s Department, Board, and Commissioner of Health.
Some notable pro-abortion activists have suggested that this suit is simply a “last-ditch attempt” to maintain the previous health and safety standards. Well, yes, that’s what lawsuits typically are – a party’s last resort in vindicating the rights to which they are legally entitled. Having exhausted all other political and administrative remedies, we are now left with one of only two options: Lie down and watch the law be trampled, and with it, the lives and health of vulnerable women and babies, OR appeal to the third branch of government, the courts, to ensure the law is upheld as we continue to fight for women and babies.
We’ve chosen the latter.
The rule of law and its impartial application to every person – big and small, powerful or weak – is what holds us together as a society and fosters peace and stability more than anything else. It is indispensable to freedom, and it is our principal safeguard against tyranny. In any contest, our side may not always win, but we are able to accept temporary defeats when we know that all sides played by the same rules agreed to from the start. But when one side ignores the rules and cheats in order to win, we expect – even demand – their “gains” to be reversed. It can be no different with Terry McAuliffe’s Department of Health in its illegal reversal of many of the critical health and safety regulations for abortion centers in the state.
Governor McAuliffe, you leave us no choice. We’ll see you in court.
Why Tire Scraps MatterApr. 19, 2017
Seminal moments often involve otherwise obscure storylines. This is especially true in the law. Consider, for instance, a present case before the U.S. Supreme Court, wherein a major doctrine of religious liberty hinges on shredded tires and preschool playgrounds.
The Court hears oral arguments today in the case of Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer. It involves a church in Missouri, Trinity Lutheran, that applied for a state program that reimburses nonprofits for the purchase and installation of rubber playground surfaces made from recycled tires. The program is intended to reduce the number of used tires in the state’s landfills while at the same time providing a safe place for children to play. The church hoped to use the funds to replace its existing playground, covered with pea gravel – which it describes as “unforgiving” and having “hard, jagged edges” – and grass.
The state ranked Trinity Lutheran’s application 5th out of 44 it received. And although the state awarded 14 grants, it denied Trinity Lutheran’s application, citing a provision of the state constitution that prohibits money from the state treasury from going “directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, or denomination of religion.”
And hence, we get an epic school yard fight on our hands, with the “free exercise clause” on the one side and “establishment clause” on the other.
Here’s the basic struggle in constitutional laymen’s terms: A state has a (U.S.) constitutional obligation to not act in a way which officially favors one religious sect over another. Thus, a state has to be careful about how it spends public money so as to avoid actions which have the practical effect of “establishing” a certain religion (e.g. the Church of England). At the same time, a state has a constitutional obligation to not act with disfavor towards religion and religious entities, or to officially favor one religious sect over another, or even to favor non-religion over religion.
Needless to say, sometimes it can be a very tricky task for a state to perfectly meet both obligations.
Some spectators argue that Missouri’s constitutional provision is consistent with the First Amendment’s prohibition against a state establishing religion since it essentially says “no public money for ANY church.” Others say Missouri’s categorical denial of public benefits to churches infringes on the free exercise of religion because the state is demonstrating hostility towards religion and religious institutions, rather than treating them on equal terms with other entities, regardless of their religious viewpoint.
As with all legal disputes, it’s critically important to keep in mind what is and what is not being disputed. The case is NOT addressing whether or not it’s a good policy idea for the government to give certain grants for certain projects – like funding tire scrap playgrounds. It’s also not about the wisdom of churches accepting public funds or benefits. The important question here is: If the state decides to provide various benefits to the general public, should some organizations be automatically excluded from access to those benefits solely because of the organization’s religious character or views?
If the First Amendment means anything at all, the answer must be no. Our constitutional republic was established to protect and to foster religion, not to exclude it from the public sphere altogether – which is precisely what Missouri’s amendment does. Read plainly, the Missouri provision would prohibit policemen from responding to an altercation on the church property. It would prevent the fire department from putting out a church fire. These notions, however, are absurd to any reasonable person. And yet in these examples lies the same principle that should permit a church to have equal access to a grant program that provides funding for safer playground surfaces.
Moreover, it can hardly be said that providing funding for safer playgrounds has the effect of establishing a state religion. It may be altogether different if the facts involved sending a group of church members on a mission trip to Haiti for the purpose of evangelizing the people there, but that’s just not the situation here.
Significantly, Virginia’s constitution contains a similar amendment. (These are often referred to as “Blaine Amendments”.) Article IV, Section 16 states, in relevant part, “The General Assembly shall not make any appropriation of public funds, personal property, or real estate to any church or sectarian society, or any association or institution of any kind whatever which is entirely or partly, directly or indirectly, controlled by any church or sectarian society.” Religious entities in the Old Dominion, therefore, have an equal size stake in the outcome as Trinity Lutheran of Missouri.
This case is sure to have far-reaching implications. Bound up in Trinity Lutheran’s quest for tire scraps is the determination of whether or not a significant piece of religious liberty will prevail. The issue is before us now because Trinity Lutheran recognized that rubber tire scraps were of some real value to them. Little could they have known just how valuable those same tire scraps would be for the rest of us.
 Some of the factual language in this paragraph was taken from scotusblog.com.
UnconscionableApr. 12, 2017
I try, really try, to understand the issues we deal with from the perspective of those on the “other side.” Sometimes, some have valid, logical arguments, with which I simply disagree. Other times, I find it impossible to even comprehend their position.
Now and then, I find their position not just incomprehensible, but unconscionable.
Recently, it was revealed that a woman in Chesterfield county “self-aborted” her unborn baby in the later stages of her pregnancy – the third trimester. She then buried the child in her back yard. The autopsy found that the woman had used a combination of drugs and “penetrating injuries to the head” of that nearly fully developed baby to kill them.
The ACLU’s response? Anger that the police would dare charge the woman with a crime.
“No woman should fear arrest or jail for ending her own pregnancy…it appears that this is another example of overreach…in an attempt to shame and punish [the woman] for her circumstances.”
It’s bad enough that groups like the ACLU and their friends in the abortion industry are perfectly comfortable with fully developed unborn babies being killed days or even hours before birth, a position with which a large majority of Americans disagrees. Americans object to abortion after the mid-point of pregnancy when they believe it’s being “performed” in something at least resembling a medical facility. Oh, and it’s downright barbaric. In Virginia, abortions after the first trimester must be done in a hospital because killing a baby that is nearly fully developed is complicated and somewhat dangerous – for the mother that is. It’s downright deadly for the baby.
The medical examiner in this case couldn't determine what the woman used to “penetrate” the head of her unborn child enough to kill it. I wonder, was the child kicking when she did it? Could she feel her child moving around as she killed them? Had she never heard of adoption? If her circumstances were so dire, why wait until the last days or weeks of the pregnancy? For a few hundred bucks Planned Parenthood would have gladly taken the baby’s life months earlier.
If you’ve seen a sonogram of a baby in the third trimester you know. You see the humanity. You recognize the dignity and the worth. As a pro-life community, we believe that dignity and worth don’t suddenly materialize at some random point on the continuum of life that is undeterminable. It’s there from the moment of conception because it comes from our Creator, not from our judgment. But while some may not believe that, many become uncomfortable with taking the life of unborn children at some random point during pregnancy when through sonogram you can see the child’s face, see their features; they move, they smile, they live. At what point does our humanity require us to say no?
For the ACLU, sadly, that point doesn’t exist. Don’t want the child? Kill them. Don’t worry about when, where or how, just do it.
Like I said, unconscionable.