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Friday, November 30, 2012

Action alert: Oppose senate ratification of CRPD treaty


Many organizations recently sent the letter below to implore the U.S. Senate to oppose ratification of a treaty that would undermine parental rights and U.S. sovereignty. A vote in expected Tuesday, Dec. 4. Treaty ratification requires a yes vote from two-thirds of the senators present. Urge your senators to vote NO.
Contact your senators with this simple message: "I urge you to oppose ratification of the CRPD treaty, which would undermine parental rights and U.S. sovereignty."

RE: Please Oppose the UN CRPD

Honorable Senator,
We the below-signed leaders from forty national organizations represent millions of Americans. We respectfully urge the United States Senate to reject ratification of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
We are troubled that article 7 of this treaty, in establishing the “best interests of the child” legal standard, would override the traditional fundamental right of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their child with special needs.
We are troubled that such a reduction in legal protection in cases of children with disabilities will create an atmosphere discriminatory against those children and their families.
We are troubled that New Zealand’s Education Act of 1989, which has been held to conform to the CRPD, allows the Secretary of Education to force any child with special needs into government-run schools “if the Secretary thinks [the student] would be better off.” This transfers the right to direct a child’s education from fit and loving parents to an officer of the State, in contravention of American tradition and the International Declaration of Human Rights. Yet it accords with this treaty.
We are troubled that accession to this treaty, despite assurances to the contrary, will lead to legal action against private individuals, as seen in the 2011 case of Bond v. United States. In this case, a woman was found guilty of violating the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act, a federal law over a matter formerly of state jurisdiction, which was adopted as a direct result of the eponymous treaty.
We are troubled that accession to this treaty would place our nation under the scrutiny and review of an international committee unelected by the American people, thus violating the vital principle of American self-government.
For these and other reasons, we urge you: please vote against any effort to ratify the CRPD.

Sincerely,
Michael P. Farris
President
ParentalRights.org

Phyllis Schlafly
Founder and President
Eagle Forum

Dr. Richard Land
President
Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Southern Baptist Convention

Morton Blackwell
Chairman
The Weyrich Lunch

Tom McClusky
Senior Vice President
Family Research Council Action

Tom Minnery
Executive Director
CitizenLink

Penny Young Nance
President and Chief Executive Officer
Concerned Women for America

Matt Staver
Founder and Chairman
Liberty Counsel

Erick Erickson
Editor
RedState.com

Mike Needham
Chief Executive Officer
Heritage Action for America

Austin Ruse
President
Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM)

William J. Murray
Chairman
Religious Freedom Coalition

Jim Backlin
Vice President for Legislative Affairs
Christian Coalition of America

Gary A. Marx
Executive Director
Faith and Freedom Coalition

Al Cardenas
Chairman
American Conservative Union

J. Michael Smith
President
Home School Legal Defense Association

Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow
Beverly LaHaye Institute

Deryl Edwards
President
Liberty Counsel Action

Dr. Jim Garlow
Chairman
Renewing American Leadership Action

Jeff Gayner
Chairman
Americans for Sovereignty

Mandi Campbell
Legal Director
Liberty Center for Law and Policy

Matt Smith
President
Catholic Advocate

Donna Rice Hughes
President
Enough Is Enough

Barbara Samuells
Co-Founder
912 Super Seniors

C. Preston Noell, III
President
Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.

Richard and Susan Falknor
Publishers
Blue Ridge Forum

Lisa Miller
Founder
Tea Party WDC

Seton Motley
President
Less Government

Colin A. Hanna
President
Let Freedom Ring

David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics)
Chief Executive Officer
Christian Medical Association

Ron Pearson
President
Council for America

Dr. William Greene
Founder and President
RightMarch.com

Maureen Van Den Berg
Legislative Director
American Association of Christian Schools

Emmett McGroarty
Director
Preserve Innocence Initiative

Andy Blom
Executive Director
American Principles in Actions

Mark Williamson
Founder and President
Federal Intercessors

Peter J. Thomas
Chairman
The Conservative Caucus

Teresa A. Citro
Chief Executive Officer
Learning Disabilities Worldwide, Inc.

Curt Levey
President
The Committee for Justice

William A. Estrada
Director
Generation Joshua

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Is ideology or science driving decisions on reproduction-related drugs?


A recent radical recommendation by a pro-abortion medical group raises the question: Is ideology or science driving decisions on reproduction-related drugs?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) now wants contraceptives sold without a prescription, age requirement or physician's exam or consultation about complications. Besides stated concerns about reducing pregnancies, ACOG also highlighted in its decision "the possibility of pharmacists inappropriately refusing to provide oral contraceptives." ACOG actively lobbies for abortion rights and to limit conscience rights for health professionals.
The Obama administration shares these political positions of ACOG yet earlier nixed the notion of moving contraceptives to drugstore shelves. Besides stated concerns about teen safety, moving contraceptives out of the pharmacy would undermine the administration's carefully politically calculated mandate that employers' health plans must pay for contraceptive prescriptions.
It is na├»ve to assume that ACOG or the administration completely separate deeply seated ideological and political dogmas from health policy decisions. This potential for personal persuasions to influence public health policy poses a threat to women's health and safety. Policy decisions on  reproduction-related drugs must be probed by media, researched by consumers and vetted by experts well beyond the coterie of abortion advocates in ACOG and this administration.

Monday, November 26, 2012

ObamaCare autocrats, get with democracy


USA Today's in-your-face editorial headline, "ObamaCare resisters, get with the program" and demeaning assaults on opponents of government-run health care reveals the same partisan belligerence and arrogance that shoved ObamaCare through Congress and down the throats of half of the country's citizens who opposed it.
The snarky editorial compares ObamaCare opponents to Japanese soldiers hiding after the war's end, labels them "dead-enders" and "refuseniks" intent on "pointless" and "quixotic" opposition simply because they have been mindlessly "egged on by the conservative group FreedomWorks."
Like this USA Today editorial, ObamaCare autocrats managed to alienate and exclude the very people who could have moderated an extremely partisan, ideological bill into a pragmatic compromise that more Americans could support. Now the administration is wielding the unchecked federal power of ObamaCare to bludgeon into submission states that resist federal intrusion and against religious organizations and individual citizens who conscientiously object to abortion.
This is not how republican democracy is supposed to work, and this is not how American civil dialogue is supposed to resolve our differences.
It's challenging to all of us who hold strong views on health care, but we've got to learn to dialogue respectfully with our fellow citizens who are political opponents and to focus on pragmatic yet principled ways to attain our shared goals of compassion, quality, affordability and financial sustainability.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Christian medical groups defend pharmacists in conscience court case


CHRISTIAN LEGAL SOCIETY NEWS RELEASE
November 20, 2012 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:  Kim Colby, Senior Counsel, (703) 894-1087

CHRISTIAN MEDICAL GROUPS FILE BRIEF
SUPPORTING WASHINGTON STATE PHARMACISTS’ CONSCIENCE RIGHTS
WASHINGTON, DC – Today Christian medical professionals filed a brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to defend pharmacists against a regulation that would force Washington State pharmacists to dispense abortion-inducing drugs despite their religious and moral convictions.  “At a time when there is a critical shortage of pharmacists, a regulation that forces pharmacists to choose between their jobs and their religious beliefs needlessly threatens the health care of all citizens of Washington State,” explained Kim Colby, Senior Counsel for Christian Legal Society’s Center for Law and Religious Freedom.
In February 2012, a federal district court declared Washington State’s regulation unconstitutional because it violated the pharmacists’ federal right to freely exercise their religion.  The regulation unconstitutionally targets pharmacists’ religious objections to dispensing abortifacients, even though any pharmacist may refuse to dispense any drug for various nonreligious reasons.  Singling out religious beliefs for prohibition, while leaving non-religious beliefs unrestricted, is unconstitutional.  The state appealed the district court decision. The brief filed today urges the Ninth Circuit to affirm the district court’s liberty-respecting decision. 
In a national survey, over nine in ten (91%) of faith-based physicians indicated, "I would rather stop practicing medicine altogether than be forced to violate my conscience." Protecting faith-based health care professionals should be a top-priority in order to insure health care access for millions of Americans --especially the poor and medically underserved patients who are most likely to count on faith-based health care.
The friend-of-the-court brief was joined by Christian Medical Association, American Association of ProLife Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Catholic Medical Association, Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, and Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International.  The brief was prepared by attorneys at the Bioethics Defense Fund and the Christian Legal Society’s Center for Law and Religious Freedom.
The Christian Legal Society is a nationwide association of Christian attorneys, law students, and law professors.   

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election 2012 reflects America's changing values landscape


"Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs." - President Barack Obama, acceptance speech Nov. 6, 2012
When the smoke cleared from the landmark Nov. 6 election shoot-out, the shifting opinions and deeply held beliefs of Americans became clearer:
·       Americans reelected Barack Obama, whose policy decisions, appointments and speeches have marked him as the most pro-abortion president in history.
·       Despite national law to the contrary, Colorado, California and Washington legalized the "recreational" use (i.e., getting stoned) and sale of marijuana, setting up a potential clash of state and federal governments.
·       After 32 other states had rejected the notion, Maine and Maryland became the first states where voters legalized same-sex marriage, and Minnesota rejected a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
·       Massachusetts voters only narrowly rejected a proposal to legalize assisted suicide, preventing the state from joining Washington and Oregon in sanctioning medical killing via ballot initiative.
Big government proponents basically beat small government advocates. Democrats largely bested Republicans by retaining control of the White House, federal agencies and foreign affairs while also keeping their judge-confirming, treaty-ratifying, House bill-blocking majority in the Senate. Republicans retained control of the House of Representatives. The partisan combination potentially sets up more Congressional gridlock, since pragmatic compromise seems unlikely as Democrats continue to slant toward the left and Republicans to the right ideological wings of their constituencies.
The election results reflect the changing American values landscape underscored recently by a Pew survey (you can read my analysis) indicating a sharp rise in citizens who do not claim or seek any religious affiliation. The results also reflect the political clout of unions, the homosexual community and women focused on "reproductive rights." While many evangelicals and Catholics put aside theological concerns regarding Mitt Romney's Mormon religion and focused on religious liberty and life issues, their votes proved insufficient to help the challenger win key battleground states.
Losing presidential candidate Mitt Romney noted in his concession speech,
"We look to our teachers and professors, we count on you not just to teach, but to inspire our children with a passion for learning and discovery. We look to our pastors and priests and rabbis and counselors of all kinds to testify of the enduring principles upon which our society is built: honesty, charity, integrity and family. We look to our parents, for in the final analysis everything depends on the success of our homes."
Gov. Romney hit upon a key to our future as a nation when he looked past politics to the real culture-changers--parents, pastors and school teachers. To that traditional list I would add musicians, movie makers, athletes, artists, philosophers, academics, journalists, doctors and scientists. Add in also everyone who influences peers by tweeting, posting on Facebook and circulating YouTube videos.
If we Christians are to influence our culture with biblical values, we must first infiltrate these cultural centers of influence. Elections, laws and policies matter greatly, but we can't reach our nation by politics alone; we must also influence our culture. One of the main reasons that this organization keeps an office in Washington, DC is to educate our leaders and our nation with biblical values.
In influencing our culture, we must practice what we preach. Perhaps we Christians sometimes have relied too heavily and too soon on our words when the world first wants to see our works.
Christian influence in America may continue to decline until our nation experiences a spiritual revival that leads to cultural renewal. Our job is to pray fervently and work ceaselessly toward that end. Scripture assures us that God has always been eager for such revival:
"[If] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. --2 Chronicles 7:14
Besides humility, prayer and penitence, we can also help lay the groundwork for such revival by following the command of Jesus:
"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. --Matt 5:16
Finally, we can faithful pray for all in authority:
"…I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." --1 Tim 2:1-4

Monday, October 29, 2012

"It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words."


All the number-crunching, fact-checking research of the candidates' assertions about taxes, oil permits and women's pay in the last presidential debate somehow missed a blatant Orwellian newspeak statement by the President.
Regarding his coercive scheme for the government to mandate free contraceptives on demand nationwide, President Obama said, "You know a major difference in this campaign is that Governor Romney feels comfortable having politicians in Washington decide the health care choices that women are making. I think that's a mistake. In my health care bill, I said insurance companies need to provide contraceptive coverage to everybody who is insured."[1]
Actually, Mr. Obama--a "politician in Washington"--decided for women that they will no longer have a health care choice regarding contraception. The government is forcing women morally opposed to contraceptives to carry the coverage. The government is forcing parents to give up their authority to decide whether their children will receive contraceptives. And the government is forcing religious organizations morally opposed to contraceptives to cover them in their insurance plans--or pay draconian fines that threaten to cut vital services to those they serve.
If such government coercion, totalitarianism and punishment is the President's idea of choice, then freedom is slavery. As George Orwell's 1984 character Syme, a Research Department worker, gushed, "It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words."


[1] Presidential debate transcript, questions, Oct. 16, 2012 http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1012/82484.html?hp=t1_b1

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Christians in public policy: What to make of a startling new survey


A startling new survey report, “Nones”on the Rise, by the Pew Research Center, reveals that the number of Americans who decline to identify with any religion is quickly escalating. From the report:
One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.
In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15 percent to just under 20 percent of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6 percent of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14 percent).
This large and growing group of Americans is less religious than the public at large on many conventional measures, including frequency of attendance at religious services and the degree of importance they attach to religion in their lives.
These findings represent a continuation of long-term trends.The religiously unaffiliated population is less convinced that religious institutions help protect morality; just half say this, considerably lower than the share of the general public that views churches and other religious organizations as defenders of morality. Overwhelmingly, they think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics.
I've prepared an analysis of and strategies to respond to this poll's findings, which represent a wake-up call to Christians nationwide. We must not, however, conclude on the basis of this poll that Christians should get out of public policy.
First, many of those who disapprove of advancing Christian values through public policy--regarding homosexuality, abortion and premarital sex, for example--will naturally want Christians to get out of politics, so they themselves can prevail politically. Christian involvement in politics for such people is not somehow preventing them from embracing Christ; it is preventing them from pursuing their own ideological political agenda and personal values.
Second, if Christians were to leave public policy to those who do not share our faith values on the sanctity of life, defending the defenseless and caring for the poor, what kind of laws and policies do you think would result? Imagine where this nation would be today without the historical and continuing political influence of the faith community on issues such as slavery, abortion, civil rights, assisted suicide and religious liberty.
The first two chapters of the book of Romans teach us that when people defy God as revealed in nature and in their consciences, by making evil choices counter to God's principles, they end up with a depraved mind and a hardened heart. Consider that the reverse is also true: When individuals act in accordance with God's revelation through nature and their consciences, by making good choices consistent with His principles, they maintain an open mind and a softened heart toward God. They also experience God's principles working in their lives, which can lead them to embrace His fuller revelation through Scripture and the Good News of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Therefore, when followers of Christ help individuals (through relationships and counseling) and our society (through public policy) to make choices consistent with God's principles, we are actually participating in evangelism. We Christians participate in public policy--by voting, advocating politically and voicing views in the public square--not because we think that laws consistent with Christian principles will save people spiritually, but because we realize that such laws can help keep minds and hearts headed in God's direction, to the One who can save.
Action
View PowerPoint analysis of and strategies to respond to this poll's findings
Register to vote
Contact lawmakers 
Track bills

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Nobel Prize given for ethical--not embryonic--stem cell research

Ethical alternatives to embryo-destroying stem cell research now appear to be winning the day, despite billions of dollars spent on embryonic stem cell research. 
We can thank intrepid scientists and courageous ethicists who dared to challenge the mantra of the scientific and liberal communities, which held that only embryonic stem cells offered the full range of possibilities for research and potential therapies.
At the December 3, 2004 meeting of the President's Council on Bioethics, Council Member Dr. William Hurlbut presented one of the first proposals challenging this mantra, offering the alternative of "Altered Nuclear Transfer." In May 2005, the Council published a white paper entitled, Alternative Sources of Pluripotent Stem Cells, in which Chairman Dr. Leon Kass noted,
Much of the ethical controversy over stem cells derives from the fact that, until now, the only way to obtain human pluripotent stem cell lines has been to derive them from living human embryos by a process that necessarily destroys the embryos. If a way could be found to derive such stem cell lines without creating and destroying human embryos, a good deal of that ethical controversy would subside.
Such writings may have encouraged objective scientists to explore options challenging their colleague's near-religious devotion to embryonic stem cell research. In December 2007, the New York Times--of all papers--published the following story:
Dr. [Shinya] Yamanaka was an assistant professor of pharmacology doing research involving embryonic stem cells when he made the social call to the clinic about eight years ago. At the friend’s invitation, he looked down the microscope at one of the human embryos stored at the clinic. The glimpse changed his scientific career.
When I saw the embryo, I suddenly realized there was such a small difference between it and my daughters,” said Dr. Yamanaka, 45, a father of two and now a professor at the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences at Kyoto University. “I thought, we can’t keep destroying embryos for our research. There must be another way.”
This week, the Nobel Foundation--of all organizations--awarded Dr. Yamanaka a Nobel Prize for his work on induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), writing the following:
Shinya Yamanaka discovered ... in 2006, how intact mature cells in mice could be reprogrammed to become immature stem cells. Surprisingly, by introducing only a few genes, he could reprogram mature cells to become pluripotent stem cells, i.e. immature cells that are able to develop into all types of cells in the body. These groundbreaking discoveries have completely changed our view of the development and cellular specialisation. We now understand that the mature cell does not have to be confined forever to its specialised state. Textbooks have been rewritten and new research fields have been established. By reprogramming human cells, scientists have created new opportunities to study diseases and develop methods for diagnosis and therapy. 
Not long ago, many scientists, politicians and the media used their support for unethical embryonic stem cell research as a wedge issue, proclaiming that soon patients would be hopping out of their wheelchairs if only the Luddites who insisted on ethical alternative research would get out of the way.
Tragically, every dollar spent on embryonic stem cell research diverts critically needed funds away from ethical alternatives, including iPS cells and long-proven adult stem cell research, which is already providing real therapies for real patients.
Not too long ago, many scientists believed in God and saw their mission as discovering and exploring God's design in the natural world, in a way that corresponded with His ethical principles as prescribed in Scripture. Perhaps Dr. Yamanaka's success will encourage a revival of such a perspective, and we can once again begin to trust science to explore--not exploit--the natural order.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mira Sorvino and new movie raise awareness of human trafficking

My wife Amy and I recently attended the world premier in New York City of a dynamic new movie, Trade of Innocents. Starring Mira Sorvino and Dermot Mulroney, the action drama highlights the scourge of sex trafficking.
Besides starring in this her third film on human trafficking, Ms. Sorvino also serves as a United Nations ambassador for the cause of raising awareness. As she has noted in interviews,
"Trafficking is everywhere in the world, and the United States is one of the worst offenders. It’s tied with the illegal arms trade as the second largest criminal industry on the earth, just after drugs. It makes $32 billion a year worldwide. There are about 300,000 kids at risk in the US every year, and only one in 100 victims are ever rescued. Once you find out about it, you can’t look away, and once you’ve met someone who has been bought and sold as an object, been beaten and denied their basic human rights, you can’t ever forget that. You meet these survivors of human trafficking and they blow you away with their courage and the misery that they’ve lived through."

Mira Sorvino at world premier of Trade of Innocents (photo copyright 2012 Jonathan Imbody)
I spoke with Mira after the screening, and we discussed the need to raise awareness specifically among health care professionals. In fact, a physician, Dr. Bill Bolthouse along with his wife Laurie produced this film. The Christian Medical Association has developed its own courses that carry Continuing Medical Education (CME) credit, and last year alone physician volunteers on our medical mission trips ministered to over 4,000 victims of human trafficking. As CMA's liaison with our federal government, I have worked with the State Dept., Homeland Security and Health and Human Services to encourage outreach to the medical community (read more).
You can make a difference by learning more and supporting efforts to report, rescue and rehabilitate victims. Start by visiting the movie's web site and Facebook page.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Abortion agenda erodes party platform


My commentary published in today's Washington Times:
Even with polls showing that more Americans call themselves pro-life than pro-choice, with undercover recordings of Planned Parenthood scandals going viral on YouTube and with ultrasound images ripping the curtain off the “blob of tissue” deception, Democratic strategists incredibly persist in advancing abortion as a primary party plank (“Abortion issue sets tone for attracting women at DNC,” Web, Sept. 4).
The denseness of the Democrats’ decision betrays the desperation of those adhering to an ideology that has infiltrated a party once known for championing the rights of the most vulnerable among us. By asserting that ending the life of a developing baby provides a steppingstone to women seeking to advance professionally, what credibility remains when the party attacks employers for putting profit over the welfare of employees? How can a party that devalues the life of developing children pretend to speak for the education of young children? How can the party advance the rights of undocumented aliens to be granted citizenship in this country while simultaneously undermining the rights of children to be born in this country?
With members of the up-and-coming generation joining the growing ranks of pro-life Americans, the Democrats’ abortion agenda appears poised to go down as one of the most tragic political miscalculations in history.
JONATHAN IMBODY
Ashburn, Va.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Inseparable service and standards in faith-based health care


In a Denver Post commentary entitled, "Separate religion, health care," Americans United for Separation of Church and State deploys distortion and intolerance in minimizing lawsuits provoked by the Obama administration's mandate that employers provide insurance plans offering free contraception.
Contrary to the assertion that "for-profit businesses are demanding the right of 'religious freedom' to deny their employees access to contraceptives," no one is denying access to contraceptives, which remain cheap and easily accessible nationwide. Faith-based employers simply do not want the government to violate First Amendment rights by needlessly forcing them to provide what their faith prohibits.
The notion of "separating religion and health care" ignores the reality that the same faith that compels faith-based individuals and institutions to provide health care also compels them to follow faith-based standards. By foolishly forcing a choice between following faith precepts and providing insurance, assaults on religious liberty will only separate patients from health care.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Civil dialogue

Hero Leo Johnson

Were it not for the heroic intervention of security guard Leo Johnson, wounded while stopping a shooter invading the Family Research Council, some of my good friends and colleagues might be gone today, leaving us all wondering what kind of mindset motivates a gunman to kill those whose faith contradicts his ideology. Before shooting Johnson, the gunman reportedly lambasted the work of the Family Research Council, which advances faith-based perspectives regarding sex and marriage.
The violently intolerant online comments posted beneath a USA Today article about the shooting suggests that the only difference between many Americans and the gunman is the actual use of a physical weapon. The hatred and mindsets appear identical, and the words of the commenters are virtual bullets.
We Americans desperately need reeducation in civil dialogue. Issue advocates must learn to attack ideas, not opponents. Consumers and critics should hold the entertainment industry accountable for how television, movies and music contribute to intolerance and violence. Online comment editors should crack down on invective. Educators should first examine their own illiberal biases and then teach students how to fairly and objectively examine both sides of issues. Voters should punish at the polls politicians who rely on vile attacks.
Until we relearn how to respectfully and rationally debate our ideas and beliefs, free speech and freedom of religion in America increasingly will be replaced by intimidation, coercion and violence.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

U.S. House majority votes for DC unborn pain bill

Washington, DC has no abortion restrictions. Period. Babies can be killed at any stage of development, for any reason.
Last night a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives moved to change that, voting for H.R. 3803, the “D.C. Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” by a vote of 220-154-2 with 55 absences. (Of the 55 Members that were absent, 25 are cosponsors of H.R. 3803.) The roll call vote is available here.
Since a two-thirds majority was required for technical reasons, the bill did not pass.  However, it could be brought up for further consideration under a rule in the future and in the meantime puts Members on record.
Meanwhile, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) has filed the “D.C. Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” as an amendment to S. 3414, which is now pending in the Senate.
Listen to these speeches made during the debate:
Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) Opening and Closing
Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) Opening and Closing

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bizarre White House meeting undermines faith-based outreach


I recently experienced what was by far the most disturbing and bizarre of dozens of White House meetings and events that I've attended--the White House Forum for Faith Leaders in conjunction with the International AIDS Conference 2012.
I should have followed the example of Joshua DuBois, Executive Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, who welcomed the gathering of about 150 AIDS activists by bringing greetings from President Obama--and then quietly ducked out a side door. He missed the subsequent three-hour-long show, which included blaming the faith community for discouraging AIDS funding and spewing hatred, demonizing pharmaceutical companies and turning sacred hymns into secular mantras.
First, to be fair, some speakers at the event offered glimpses of sanity and civility.
Gayle Smith, Senior Director for Democracy and Development, National Security Staff at the White House, for example, allowed that "We've been very privileged to come into office with an extraordinary foundation built by President George Bush."
President Bush launched the effective and well-respected (if grudgingly by his opponents) President's Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The Obama administration, however, has been slashing funding for the U.S.-run PEPFAR program in favor of the multinational Global Fund, which not long ago was wracked by scandal and mismanagement.
Dr. Ariel Pablos-Mendez, Assistant Administrator, USAID Bureau of Global Health, effectively encapsulated the mission of faith-based organizations by saying, "In the end it's about love. It's your core competency--your motor, your driver. You understand the communities, you lead, engage, care for these communities."
Other speakers, however, seemed scarcely able to disguise their disdain for faith-based organizations, even as they grudgingly acknowledged the unmatched reach of such organizations.
The World Health Organization, for example, has released a report that "estimates that between 30% and 70% of the health infrastructure in Africa is currently owned by faith-based organizations." The Gallup World Poll asked sub-Saharan Africans in 19 countries about their confidence in eight social and political institutions. Overall across the continent, they were most likely to say they were confident in the religious organizations (76%) in their countries. I know of many medical missionaries and faith-based medical institutions who make tremendous sacrifices to reach out in love and compassion to those afflicted with AIDS.
One speaker who seemed particularly wary of faith-based organizations was Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, Deputy Executive Director of the UNFPA. In 2002, the U.S. State Department deemed the U.N. population agency ineligible for U.S. funding because of its involvement with the Chinese government's notorious one-child policy, which the Chinese enforce through coerced abortions. The Chinese government's policy of forcibly aborting babies considered undesirable by the state apparently comports with the dark side of the UNFPA slogan--"to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted."
Ms. Albrectsen first allowed that "the faith leaders in this room [the vast and vocal majority of whom seemed to enthusiastically toe the Obama party line] are critical agents of change," and conceded that "16,000 health centers on African continent are operated by Catholic Church."
Then, however, the UNFPA official darkly asserted, "Ignorance and corruption can assume the mantle of religion. They suppress accurate information and they whip up stigma and even violence."
She offered no specific examples.
Ms. Albrectsen also incredibly blamed faith-based organizations for discouraging donations to  AIDS work.
"The plain fact is that the funders with those resources ... if they perceive that dogma holds back our work, they'll find other places to put their funds. Some faith-based spokespeople have [advocated] a restrictive approach to condom distribution, [which] is unlikely to provoke sympathy among those who choose to spend their meager resources on the fight against HIV and AIDS."
Reinforcing a decidedly aggressive agenda of the Obama administration, Ms. Albrectsen admonished the audience to "work for empowerment of women…work for better information and services directed specifically to girls and women…and show zero tolerance for violence against women and girls."
Many people regardless of political or religious persuasion appreciate concerns related to women and girls. However, when it comes to AIDS--the supposed focus of this White House meeting--the CDC has estimated that roughly three of four adults and adolescents living with an AIDS diagnosis in the U.S. are men; worldwide, estimates of adults living with HIV/AIDS split the percentages roughly equally between men and women.
Other speakers amplified the content of their ideological screeds with a verbal volume unmatched in any White House meeting I've attended. This seemed to delight many in the audience, who seemed to think we were in the secular equivalent of a gospel revival meeting. Almost raucous shout-outs from the audience punctuated the often rhythmical pontifications of the speakers. The louder the speaker and the shriller the message, the more the audience seemed to respond with enthusiastic approval.
One speaker in particular illustrated the substitution of secular dogma for religious values. When the time came for his presentation, the Ugandan representative of an organization called the "International Network of Religious Leaders living with or personally affected by HIV (INERELA+), stood up and sang. Dressed in religious garb, he smiled as he replaced the refrain of a sacred hymn, "Nothing but the blood of Jesus," with the secular mantra, "Nothing but a comprehensive approach."
His song apparently delighted those who advocate a "comprehensive" approach to AIDS emphasize condom distribution and disdain the "ABc" policy that stresses sexual risk avoidance and faithfulness in marriage as a primary strategy and condom use as a secondary strategy. The offensiveness of perverting the message of the sacred hymn did not seem to occur to him or to many others in the audience, who laughed with approval.
A speaker from Bolivia launched her presentation first by chiding her hosts for not inviting more leaders from Latin America and then by railing against U.S. pharmaceutical companies--she named Merck and Johnson and Johnson--for not making their medicines available at little or no cost. She literally demonized pharmaceutical companies by joking--at least I hope she was joking--that pharmaceutical companies have "demons."
The idea that free-market profit encourages innovation and the development of new medicines, and that decreasing or eliminating that motivation would only serve to stifle pharmaceutical development, seems not to have crossed her mind.
Not to be outdone by the first singing act, the last speaker instructed all of us in the audience to stand up and hold hands. She then led everyone in a rendition of a song sung by Diana Ross, "Reach out and touch someone." When the song mercifully concluded, she instructed us all to give a "full-body hug" to those next to us.
Really.
I left the White House never so glad to leave it behind me. As I exited the building, I turned to face a horde of protestors from the AIDS 2012 conference marching down Pennsylvania Avenue. They chanted slogans and waved signs demanding that pharmaceutical companies give up their medicines.
I wanted to direct them right into the White House auditorium; they would have fit right in.

Groups urge House leaders to vote on conscience bill

Conscience-supporting organizations have sent the letter below to the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives urging a vote on a strong conscience-protecting bill, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179). Nebraska Rep. Jeff Fortenberry introduced the bill, which has already garnered 223 co-sponsors in the House. To add your voice and urge a vote on this bill, click here for an easy-to-use form.


July 23, 2012
The Honorable John A. Boehner
Speaker of the House H-232, The Capitol Washington DC 20515
The Honorable Eric Cantor Majority Leader
H-329, The Capitol
Washington DC 20515
Dear Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor:
We strongly support enactment of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179) to support religious liberty and freedom of conscience. We strongly urge House leadership to take whatever steps are necessary to work toward the enactment of Congressman Fortenberry’s bill.
A vital First Amendment right is threatened by the HHS mandate. In addition, those likely to suffer the most are the poorest and neediest.
A large portion of the nation’s social services is provided by religious organizations which are not recognized as “religious” under the terms of the mandate. The mandate contains no exemption for these organizations with moral and religious objections. Either such charities will shut down altogether rather than violate their moral principles, or they will be compelled to use scarce resources to pay punitive fines, thus diverting funds intended to serve the poor.
The shutdown of religious organizations and services could also, both directly and indirectly, lead to job loss.
We urge you to exercise your leadership in working for the passage of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act as soon as possible to add conscience protections to PPACA.
Respectfully,
Julaine K. Appling                                                        Joan Bell
President, Wisconsin Family Action                              Apostles of Dei Gloriam
Christopher Bell                                                           Father Shenan J. Boquet
Good Counsel Homes                                                   President , Human Life International
Dr. John F. Brehany                                                     Joseph A. Brinck
Executive Director, Catholic Medical Association          President, Sanctity of Life Foundation

James C. Capretta                                                         Samuel B. Casey
Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center                         Managing Director
Jubilee Campaign, Law of Life Project
Larry Cirignano
Director, Faithful Catholic Citizens                               Victoria Cobb
President, The Family Foundation, Virginia
Dana Cody
Life Legal Defense Foundation                                      Thomas Cronquist
Vitae Caring Foundation
Carroll L. Conley, Jr.
Executive Director                                                        Len Deo
Christian Civic League of Maine                                   Founder & President
New Jersey Family Policy Council
Deryl Edwards
President, Liberty Counsel Action                                 Maureen Ferguson
Senior Policy Advisor, The Catholic Association
David Fowler, Esq.
President, Family Action of Tennessee                          Tom D. Freier
President & Executive Director
Dr. Jim Garlow                                                             North Dakota Family Alliance Action
Renewing American Leadership Action
Michael Geer
Millie Lace, SE, LPC                                                    President, Pennsylvania Family Policy Council
Director, Concepts of Truth
Colin Hanna
Thomas A. Glessner                                                      President, Let Freedom Ring
President, National Institute of Family & Life Advocates
John Helmberger
Cathi Herrod                                                                 CEO, Minnesota Family Council & Institute
President, Center for Arizona Policy
Dr. Charles Kenny
Kathleen Gilbert                                                           President, The Right Brain People
Kristan Hawkins                                                           Yuval Levin
Executive Director                                                        Hartog Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center
Medical Students for Life/Students for Life of America
Julie Lynde                                                                   Gary Marx
Executive Director, Cornerstone Family Council Idaho Executive Director, Faith and Freedom Coalition
Dr. Patricia McEwen                                                     Tom McClusky
President, Doctors for Life International                        Senior Vice President
Family Research Council Action
Rev. Jason J. McGuire
Executive Director                                                        Gene Mills
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms                     Louisiana Family Forum

Dr. Richard Land                                                          Edward Whelan
President                                                                      President, Ethics and Public Policy Center*
Southern Baptist Ethics
and Religious Liberty Commission                                Penny Nance
President, Concerned Women for America
Jim Minnery
President, Alaska Family Council                                  Kent Ostrander
The Family Foundation, Kentucky
Michael O'Dea
Executive Director, Christus Medicus Foundation          Ron Prentice
California Family Council
Fr. Frank Pavone
CEO, Priests for Life                                                     Paul S. Rondeau
Executive Director, American Life League
Won Kyu Rim
Executive Director, New Jersey Family First                  Curt Smith
Indiana Family Institute
Matt Smith
President, Catholic Advocate                                         David E. Smith
President, Illinois Family Institute
Kris Mineau
Massachusetts Family Institute                                     John Stemberger
President, Florida Family Policy Council
Matthew Staver
Founder & Chairman, Liberty Counsel                          Nicole Theis
President, Delaware Family Policy Council
Dr. David Stevens
CEO, Christian Medical Association                              Christen M. Varley
Executive Director, Conscience Cause
P. George Tryfiates
Director, Government Affairs                                        Dr. Keith Wiebe
Association of Christian Schools International               President
American Association of Christian Schools
Randall Wenger,Esq.
Chief Counsel, Independence Law Center                      Bill Donohue
President
Peter Wolfgang                                                             Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
President, Family Institute of Connecticut Action
cc:
The Honorable Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip
The Honorable Fred Upton, Chairman, House Energy and Commerce Committee
To add your voice and urge a vote on this bill, click here for an easy-to-use form.