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.
What are ethics? According to good ole Merriam-Webster, they are “a set of moral principles or a theory or system of moral values.”
Ethics, principles, values…all words that generally, throughout history, implied something intrinsic, moral, perhaps even permanent.
Of course, we now live in a culture where such notions are something at which many scoff. Everything changes, particularly ethics and morality.
So it came as no surprise in a recent meeting I attended when an “ethicist” with a major hospital association in Virginia voiced his opinion about how health care ethics “have evolved,” attempting to lend credibility to the idea that medical doctors should be allowed to help their patients commit suicide under certain circumstances. Generally, that would be when someone has a “terminal” illness with fewer than six months to live. Simply providing “relief from suffering” (i.e. helping them kill themselves) must be moral, according to this ethicist. The “ethical” argument in favor of this included that, according to some polling, it’s supported by a majority of Americans. (Another member of the group chimed in with, “like with abortion,” the morality has changed, as if one couldn’t possibly have a moral objection to killing an unborn baby.)
Now, never mind the reality that doctors are notoriously terrible at predicting the lifespan of the terminally ill, and that new treatments for many once incurable diseases are helping extend lifespans each and every day.
No, the problem with “evolving ethics” is that today’s physician-assisted suicide (PAS) for the terminally ill is tomorrow’s PAS for the chronically ill. And then those who have a genetic disposition toward a terminal illness. And then those who simply want “relief from suffering,” regardless of the cause of the suffering. And what about those who aren’t really sick but who believe themselves to be sick? I mean, if you can be a biological female but headlines can scream “Man gives birth” because that woman believes themsel to be male, why can’t a healthy person claim a terminal illness?
And of those in the medical profession, including pharmacists, who have conscientious objections to participating in one’s suicide? Well, the ethicists at the table assured everyone that “no one would ever force someone to participate” in this.
Ummm…but ethics evolve, no? Today’s “no one would ever” is tomorrow’s “you’re denying access” to this “treatment” and must be required to do so (see abortion).
If ethics “evolve,” particularly medical ethics, where does that evolution end? Might makes right is a frightening thought in the world of government controlled health care and PAS. The slippery slope in this evolution takes us to some very dark places – places we should have learned from history we do not ever want to return.
"Hate" Is Not The Problem
"Hate" Is Not The Problem
You’re a “hate group.” They’re a “hate group.” Your mom’s a “hate group.” If you disagree with me, you’re a “hate group.”
That is essentially what I’m hearing more and more these days coming from organizations on the ideological Left, and it has reached a tipping point of ridiculousness. Throwing around labels like this is intellectually lazy. It’s inflammatory. It’s defamatory. Frankly, it’s juvenile – something a school yard bully could get away with saying during recess that could never fly in a real classroom discussion.
It also has the effect of undermining the credibility of those touting these claims. (Much in the same way that reflexively hurling the terms “racist” and “bigot” or “[fill-in-the-blank]-PHOBE” are sadly becoming code words for “I’m not respectful or intelligent enough to engage you in a meaningful dialogue about complex issues.”)
Along with other leftist groups, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has for years been building upon its list of organizations in the United States it deems “hate groups” – a list used as authoritative by the Obama administration in order to target those groups. More recently, the “mainstream” media has been using SPLC’s list to label groups it finds distasteful. Some of the groups being added are Christian or pro-American groups who hold to common-sense traditional values like natural marriage, freedom, national sovereignty, and the rule of law. (In other words, all those things which enable a prosperous society.)
In the past week, SPLC dubbed Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) a “hate group,” apparently because the sitting Attorney General of the United States addressed a group of ADF attorneys at a closed forum wherein he had the audacity to say, among other similarly-themed things, "that every American has a right to believe, worship, and exercise their faith in the public square." Why…that must be code language for “HATE!” Darn it. Can’t get anything past that SPLC.
Considering some of the notables that have made SPLC’s list (Alliance Defending Freedom, American Family Association, and Family Research Council, to name a few) who work hard to protect life, preserve religious liberty, and promote freedom and domestic tranquility through the rule of law, I’m frankly surprised The Family Foundation of Virginia has yet to make their list. (Maybe even a little disappointed.)
As we have also seen, labeling groups with which you disagree “hate groups” is also an invitation to violence. A few years ago, a man entered FRC’s headquarters in Washington, DC intent on killing everyone there and had in his possession SPLC’s list that included FRC as a “hate group.”
The absurdity of it all speaks for itself. Yet few seem to be challenging the “hate group” label at a more fundamental level. The reason I know this is because it is generally true that deeming someone a “hate group” or “hater” is universally received as a kind of social stigmatism with which no one wants to be branded. It’s akin to publicly designating someone a leper, but with an intended effect more like that of designating someone a “terrorist organization.” That’s because it’s really about directing the overall narrative and defining your opponents rather than allowing them to speak for themselves. In that sense, it’s Political Mass Communication 101.
But getting beyond that, we must ask the question: What does SPLC mean by “hate”? And furthermore, is “hate” in itself always bad, as they seem to imply? In actuality, when you take all of three seconds to think about it, you realize that everyone hates some things, while other things, they love.
In other words, while it is undoubtedly true that the groups mentioned “hate” certain ideas and actions they believe are harmful and destructive to individuals and society (clearly SPLC feels similarly about certain ideas), it doesn’t follow that they therefore “hate” the people associated with those ideas and actions. In fact, I bet if SPLC was to really learn about many of these groups, they would find that it is not primarily their “hatred” for particular ideas and actions that motivates them, but rather it is their love of certain truths and for the people who tend to flourish when those truths are embraced.
The relevant question, then, is not whether or not someone “hates,” but rather: Who or what does a person or organization hate? And correspondingly, who or what do they love? Ultimately, it isn’t “hate” that is the problem. If anything, the problem with “hate” lies in the object of our hate vs. the object of our love, whether we have rightly categorized those objects, and whether our energies towards them are being channeled in an appropriate and constructive way.
The goal should be to love those things that are worth loving (like people, and goodness, and truth), and also to hate those things worth hating (like evil, and destruction, and chaos) – even if it means that someone else may be prone to overlook our love, and overemphasize our hate, and unfairly stick us with the dubious label as a member of a “hate group.”
Forgotten How To Blush
Forgotten How To Blush
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.
The Governor is at it again.
The Governor is at it again.
The Governor is at it again.
Never one to “let a crisis go to waste,” Governor McAuliffe seized upon the tragedy of Charlottesville as another opportunity to push an ideological agenda that seems to always end with people of faith holding the short straw. Last week, the Governor issued Executive Order Number 69 “Establishing The Commonwealth Commission On Diversity, Equity And Inclusion.”
In a statement released with the Order, the Governor prefaced the move by stating: “In the wake of the tragic events in Charlottesville, it is important for the people of Virginia to have an honest discussion about what we can do to combat hatred and violence and continue our work building a Commonwealth that is open and welcoming to everyone.” We agree. But then, the statement takes a turn that reveals the Commission’s true purpose:
“Created in the wake of the violent white supremacist events on August 11th and 12th in Charlottesville, the commission will be charged with assessing how hatred and discrimination against racial minorities, religious groups and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered individuals led to those tragic events.”
Typical of today’s Left, this characterization conflates the issues by attempting to equate the civil rights movement against racial injustice with the more recent campaign to normalize a long train of deceptions about human sexuality. But of course, these issues could not be more different – both in substance and in historical experience.
Among other things, the Order charges the Commission with:
- Identifying any Virginia laws, regulations, and agency procedures that perpetuate racial, ethnic, or religious intolerance or divisions, as well as recommending changes in law that can better promote tolerance and diversity.; and
- Identifying and recommending ways to partner with non-governmental organizations working to promote a culture of diversity and inclusion. Such organizations shall include nonprofits, foundations, and faith and community organizations.
Given that the Governor has a history of using executive orders like this to discriminate against individuals and organizations of faith, we have to wonder: Will this administration allow all religious viewpoints to have a seat at the table on the Commission, or just those that affirm a certain ideology about religion and sexuality?
Well if we have anything to do with it, The Family Foundation will be there speaking on behalf of the rights of all people – not just some.
The Order also tasks the Commission with compiling a final report to “be submitted to the Governor no later than November 15, 2018.” Given that Terry McAuliffe will be long gone by then, it seems pretty obvious this is little more than political pandering. Though is it clear that certain prejudices should always be condemned when they fail to respect the value and dignity of all persons who have been created in the image of God, including racism in all its forms, the Governor’s latest Commission on “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” gives us no indication to believe that’s what it’s actually designed to do.
Religious Liberty Victory!
Religious Liberty Victory!
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!
Diversity or Adversity?
Diversity or Adversity?
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.