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A Christian legal group filed an appeal today on behalf of a Washington taxpayer alleging the nation’s largest abortion seller submitted fraudulent claims costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Jonathan Bloedow filed suit in 2011 after discovering alleged fraud via a state open-records request. The case wasn’t made public until 2013 due to a federal law protecting “whistleblowers” with inside information exposing such billing by government contractors. By law, these cases are filed under seal until a judge unseals them.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Michael J. Norton said public funds should not be funneled to groups that abuse the public trust.
“American taxpayer dollars should be used responsibly and for the common good,” he said.
According to the suit, Planned Parenthood of the Northwest filed at least 25,000 false claims to the state Health and Recovery Services Administration for reimbursements exceeding the amount for oral contraceptive pills. It also alleges the abortion seller filed at least another 25,000 false claims for the reimbursement of possible abortion-inducing drugs.
The total damages could be as much as $377 million.
A federal district judge dismissed the case last month on technical grounds. According to ADF, the judge wrongly concluded that Bloedow’s allegations were barred by another lawsuit against an entirely different Planned Parenthood affiliate in California.
ADF released its updated report to Congress last year, identifying almost $108 million in waste, abuse and potential fraud committed by Planned Parenthood affiliates and other providers.
“Compliance with the law should not be sacrificed for the sake of Planned Parenthood’s bottom line,” Norton explained. “They have cheated the American taxpayer for too long. It’s time the abortion giant is held accountable.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the complaint in Bloedow v. Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest.
Read the notice of appeal.
CitizenLink is proud to work with New York Families and other family policy organizations across the country to stand for marriage, life and religious freedom. Learn more about the one in your state.
by New York Families
Education, education, education.
Among the many contentious issues in American culture today, few are more controversial than education. We live in a time where there are major disagreements over the purpose of education, and, not surprisingly, vastly different expectations about curricula and methods of instruction.
One perspective on the purpose of education would simply be the transmission to students of bodies of knowledge on specific subjects. On the other hand, some pragmatists see the chief purpose of education as the transmission of useful skills that enable young people to participate in the economy, while educational purists see the purpose of education as a way of training young people to acquire various critical thinking skills, or to acquire the mindset of a scholar. Others might see education as having a number of different purposes, perhaps including the socialization of young people and the development of interpersonal skills. Still others may see the purpose of education as the inculcation of values; within this group, there are major differences over the types of values being transmitted. Should education teach students to be multicultural? To adopt secular leftist perspectives, including politically correct views on marriage, family, and sexuality? To develop traditional American views on government and citizenship? To have a deep and abiding religious faith, whether Christian or otherwise?
From a Christian perspective, there can be no doubt that there is a spiritual purpose to the education of children, whether or not a child’s formal education includes a Christian component. The Bible teaches that learning is important; according to Ecclesiastes 7:12b, “the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.” In Proverbs 4:13, believers are instructed to “[t]ake fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.” Parents bear primary responsibility for their children’s education; they are called to bring children up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4b), and to teach God’s commands to their children: “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Education also helps parents to be good stewards of the talents and abilities God has given to their children (Matthew 25).
Beyond the big-picture questions about the purpose of education, there is also a wide range of attitudes concerning the proper role of government in education. Should the federal government be involved in education? Recent decades have seen a marked increase in the federal government’s participation in educational matters, from the creation of the U.S. Department of Education in the 1970’s to the passage of President George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” law in the last decade. Unfortunately, the increase in federal involvement has not yielded a corresponding improvement in student achievement; the educational achievement of U.S. students in key subject areas has either remained the same or declined over the past four decades.1 Recently, the federal government has further involved itself in education by providing “Race to the Top” funding only to states that have implemented the hotly-debated Common Core State Standards and the problematic array of tests that accompany those standards.2 Some believe that greater federal government involvement could help to equalize educational standards across the country, bring troubled school districts “up to speed,” and provide uniform methods of testing and assessment. However, New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation believes that education is best handled at the local level, partly because of our constitutional view of the limits of federal power, partly due to concerns about the federal government’s ability to do anything constructive in the educational realm, and partly out of well-founded fears that federal and state governments’ educational bureaucracies will use education to promote perspectives hostile to traditional America and to Christianity.
Another important question: What types of schools are best for Christian parents and their children? On this front, the good news is that various options are available. Some Christian parents who want their children to be “salt and light” to unsaved and unchurched children—or who lack the financial or other resources to access other educational options—choose the public school system. Depending on the public schools involved, this can be a viable approach. As public schools have become increasingly secularized, however, many Christian families have chosen to provide a distinctly Christian education to their children, whether through independent Christian schools or through Christian schools that are affiliated with one particular church. Some families choose private schools that do not hold a Christian perspective. Still other New York families have chosen one of New York’s 208 charter schools, which are public schools that are independent from school district control and function according to the terms of a performance contract.3 Finally, others—both inside and outside of the Christian community—have opted out of traditional schooling altogether, and have joined the homeschool movement. Christian parents may choose homeschooling for a number of reasons, including concerns about student safety; concerns about negative influences in schools; a desire to exceed the academic standards in schools; an interest in using innovative, outside-the-box educational approaches; or a desire to provide a Biblically-based education.
When it comes to questions about education, the stakes are high. American children and young adults spend years and years of their lives—and, in many cases, thousands upon thousands of dollars—acquiring an academic and/or professional education. In many cases, students become disillusioned with the process, seeing it as purposeless, uninteresting, or disconnected from their goals and aspirations. Also, parents do not always believe that their investments in education yield results that make those investments worthwhile. At times, parents go to great lengths to provide their children with what is deemed a “good education,” only to find that the “good education” they provided has influenced their children to abandon the beliefs with which they were raised.
Regarding education, there are some matters upon which Christians should be able to agree. First, New York’s public school system is broken. Our state spends astronomical amounts of money on public education, but various measurements show that our students’ levels of educational achievement are deficient.4 Second, Christian input into public education is important. Without that input, we can expect that others who do not share our beliefs will dominate and control the system, and the results will be bad for everyone. Third, the federal government’s role in education should be limited, and Christians should look with skepticism upon efforts to impose a top-down approach upon schools. Fourth, it is good and healthy for Christian New Yorkers to promote educational choice. If traditional public schools have a monopoly on the educational process, they cannot truly be held accountable for educational outcomes or for the ideologies and perspectives that they include in their curricula and instruction. Further, if alternatives to traditional public schools do not continue and thrive (or if those educational alternatives are pressured out of existence by aggressively intrusive governments), parents’ options for their children’s education will become more limited and less appealing.
One bill that would help New York students and families is the Education Investment Incentives Act (EIIA) (S.4099 – Golden).5 This innovative bill would facilitate an infusion of donations to public education entities and local education funds, helping cash-strapped public schools and school districts without raising taxes increasing government spending. The EIIA would also help students in nonpublic schools by providing tax credits to those who donate money to scholarship funds. (While tax deductions for charitable donors are good, tax credits are even better, because they provide a dollar-for-dollar reduction to the donor’s taxes rather than simply lowering that donor’s taxable income.) Under the EIIA, charitable organizations could provide scholarships or tuition grants to students from multiple public or eligible nonpublic schools. These organizations could assist students attending Christian schools, as well as students attending other religious schools, charter schools, independent private schools, or public schools outside the students’ respective districts of residence. The EIIA also offers a small tax credit for instructional materials purchased by homeschooling families.6 Proposals like the EIIA that promote educational choice and educational opportunity without increasing the size, scope, and cost of government are beneficial to all New Yorkers. NYFRF’s affiliate organization, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, believes that the passage of this bill in 2014 is an achievable goal.
The EIIA is just one small piece of a much larger puzzle that has yet to be assembled regarding New York’s education system. New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms calls for the removal of the existing cap on the number of charter schools, the creation of new tax credits for parents whose children attend nonpublic schools or are homeschooled, full reimbursement to nonpublic schools for the cost of compliance with state mandates, and a pilot program for school vouchers that would provide parents with a set amount of funds for their child’s education and allow them to use those funds to pay for the school of their choice.7 Christians should stand against proposals that increase federal involvement in education, or that involve a top-down approach to the educational process; instead, Christians should support efforts to reward effective teachers, to find innovative approaches that help students learn, and to empower local school districts to create or select their own curricula. Finally, Christians should actively oppose any agenda that makes it more difficult for parents to provide a Christ-centered education to their children, whether by eroding the autonomy of Christian schools or by making homeschooling difficult or impossible.
If New York embraces purposeful, freedom-centered solutions to the problems that plague our educational system, and if parents insist that children be provided with a quality education that does not contradict the values that are instilled at home, the results can only be positive for the next generation of New Yorkers.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old,
he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about New York Families.
Churches throughout the country have the opportunity this Sunday to participate in a nationwide event dedicated to honoring religious freedom in the public school system.
Religious Freedom Sunday is Jan. 12. Gateways to Better Education and the Alliance Defending Freedom are encouraging people to participate. The groups have provided myriad resources churches may use, including a “Free to Speak” student pamphlet that may be placed in bulletins and a 60-second video announcement churches may share.
“We want churches to equip their young people kindergarten through 12th grade,” said Gateways Director Eric Buehrer. “If the public schools are not going to tell students what their religious freedoms are — as they have been asked to do for the last 18 to 19 years from the Department of Education — at least our churches need to be informing students of what their religious liberties are.”
The event falls just before the anticipation of President Obama’s annual proclamation of Religious Freedom Day on Jan. 16.
“We want our young people to be the Daniels and the Esthers out there — being bold in their faith,” Buehrer explained. “We have to let them know they can be. That it’s perfectly legal for them to be bold. Religious Freedom Sunday is a great opportunity to do that.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about Religious Freedom Sunday.
Indiana lawmakers are facing a critical vote on whether to allow the people to decide the definition of marriage.
Ryan McCann, director of operations and public policy at the Indiana Family Institute, is hopeful lawmakers will approve the amendment.
“The odds are pretty good,” he told CitizenLink. “It’s important the people of Indiana communicate with their state senators and state representatives to let them know that they support marriage. The majority of the members of the Legislature have either voted for the marriage amendment in the past, or have vocally given support for it at some point. It’s important for folks to encourage their legislators to continue to support marriage.”
For an amendment to pass in Indiana, it must be approved by two separate sessions of the Legislature, and then goes to the people for a final vote. The state Legislature approved the amendment in 2011. If it passes in the current session, the people would vote in November.
Groups that want to redefine marriage are definitely hard at work and are well-funded.
“They’ve been very active getting businesses and other folks recruited to oppose the marriage amendment,” he explained.
Indiana families, though, continue to stand for God’s design for marriage.
“We’re working hard on our side,” McCann said, “trying to get folks to make sure legislators know that the people of Indiana support marriage.”
Take Action for Marriage
If you live in Indiana, please contact your state lawmakers immediately. You may quickly and easily send a short note expressing your support for marriage through our Action Center.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the Indiana Family Institute.
An Obama-appointed Supreme Court justice was instrumental in actions that are favorable to religious freedom and marriage. Bruce Hausknecht explains what’s going on.
CitizenLink is proud to work with the California Family Alliance and other family policy organizations across the country to stand for marriage, life and religious freedom. Learn more about the one in your state.
by Lori Arnold
”The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes.”
— G.K. Chesterton
British writer and lay theologian G.K. Chesterton penned those words in the early 1900s and, more than a century later, they have never been more important—especially for those of us who espouse traditional family values in a state where liberal secularism reigns.
After a hiatus of several months, the California Legislature starts its second year of the 2013-14 session today, and with the Democrat supermajority still in place we can expect the introduction of even more progressive initiatives.
Before looking ahead, however, we need to take a quick look back to last year. One of the most egregious bills to emerge in last year’s session was Senate Bill (SB) 323 (Lara, D-Long Beach), a punitive “thought” tax that would penalize all youth charities which have policies prohibiting homosexuals from leadership or membership rolls. The law would strip the tax-exempt status for all fundraising income for those groups, without regard to rights of religious freedom or conscience.
Although SB 323 targeted the Boy Scouts of America, the law also impacts such organizations as the YMCA, YWCA, Pop Warner football, Little League, Bobby Sox, AYSO, 4-H, DECA, Special Olympics and Future Farmers of America.
The bill was placed in the inactive file before last year’s legislative deadline because author Lara was unable to secure enough votes for passage out of the Assembly. However, it is eligible for reconsideration this year.
As year two of the two-year session proceeds, we will continue to monitor SB 323 since our best strategy is to block the bill from advancing out of the Assembly. If it does pass through the Assembly, chances are likely that Gov. Jerry Brown, a consistent supporter of LGBT causes, will sign it into law.
Looking ahead, pro-euthanasia lawmakers will very likely take advantage of the supermajority to introduce a bill supporting physician-assisted suicide (PAS).
California lawmakers have unsuccessfully tried to legalize the practice five separate times, most recently in 2007. In 1992, California voters soundly defeated a ballot measure that would have made it the first state in the nation to allow the anti-life practice.
Nationwide, Oregon and Washington voters legalized PAS in the Pacific Northwest and in May, the Vermont Legislature became the first in the country to enact physician-assisted suicide. In Montana, the practice has been thrust on the state by the courts.
Also this year, we will monitor proposed legislation that will impact our schools and parental rights. With the governor’s veto last fall of Assembly Bill (AB) 375, a school reform measure that would have made it easier to dismiss problem teachers, it will be interesting to see if other proposals are introduced.
In the words of Chesterton, now is the time for new eyes and a new backbone and, as we continue our pursuit of life, family values and religious freedom, Chesterton also offers us some prophetic words for the battle.
“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the California Family Alliance.
The U.S. Supreme Court today temporarily halted a district court decision creating same-sex marriage in Utah. The order will remain in place until the case — seeking to redefine marriage — makes its way through the courts.
Federal Judge Richard Shelby ruled against Utah’s voter-approved marriage amendment last month. But, in defiance of standard practice, he allowed his decision to go into effect even as the appeal is under way. Supporters of marriage made an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court asking it to stop Shelby’s decision from going into effect.
The next stop for the case is the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Focus on the Family Legal Analyst Bruce Hausknecht called the high court’s order “momentous” and a “breath of fresh air.”
“The Supreme Court did what the lower court should have done,” he said. “Courts always suspend the enforcement of decisions that drastically alter the status quo pending an appeal by the losing side. But after last summer’s disappointing marriage decisions by the Supreme Court, there was this uneasy feeling that you couldn’t get five votes for anything reasonable where marriage is concerned.”
The Associated Press has reported that 900 licenses were issued to same-sex couples in Utah since Shelby’s Dec. 20 decision.
“No further marriages can be performed now,” Hausknecht explained. “The current legality of the marriages already performed is in question. But there is no question that if the appeals court overturns the lower court’s decision, those same-sex marriages will be as if they never happened.”
Hausknecht said it’s possible the 10th Circuit will issue its decision by the summer.
“Then the case will probably be appealed to the Supreme Court.”
Last year was another good year for pro-lifers and the preborn babies they strive to protect.
Seventy pro-life laws were enacted in 22 states, according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute. This makes 2013 second only to 2011 in the number of such laws passed.
Guttmacher, the research arm of the abortion industry, also reported that the pro-life laws enacted from 2011-13 surpasses the number passed in the entire previous decade. In the past three years, 205 laws were passed; and from 2001-2010, only 189 laws passed.
With the new year, there’s more to be done to protect preborn babies, said Mary Spaulding Balch, state legislation director for National Right to Life (NRTL) Committee.
“Legislatures will be going into session, and we have a lot of work to do,” she said. “But, we do know that we will pass laws this year.”
Overall, pro-life legislation has always done well at the state level, Balch said.
“But we can do better. We’re nowhere near where we have to be,” she explained. “We also know that pro-life legislation saves lives. I hope that people will join us in this fight and that we will pass more protective legislation state after state as we move forward.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the Guttmacher report.
Read “By the Numbers: U.S. Abortion Statistics.”
CitizenLink is proud to work with the Michigan Family Forum and other family policy organizations across the country to stand for marriage, life and religious freedom. Learn more about the one in your state.
by Nate King
Summary: Private decisions, such as divorce and out-of-wedlock child-bearing, have significant public consequences. Every year, U.S. taxpayers expend at least $112 billion to assist families impacted by divorce and births to unwed mothers. The cost to Michigan taxpayers exceeds $1.2 billion. While marriage, divorce and child-bearing are intensely regarded as private matters, taxpayers have a legitimate interest in promoting healthy, intact families.
Read the entire article here.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the Michigan Family Forum.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) argued in legal papers filed today that a Roman Catholic group of nuns won’t have to offer contraception and possible abortion-inducing drugs in their employee health plans — but only if they sign a government form that delegates the action to a third party. Refusing to do so could result in steep fines.
This follows an order earlier this week, issued by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, to temporarily block the mandate for the Little Sisters of the Poor. The international group, headquartered in Maryland, is dedicated to helping the elderly poor. Its Denver location filed suit in September.
“Unfortunately, the federal government has started the new year the same way that it ended the old one: trying to bully nuns into violating their religious beliefs,” said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
The Obama administration said the Little Sisters must sign a “self-certification” form claiming eligibility for an exemption from the mandate, or pay millions in fines. Rienzi calls it a “permission slip.” He said it merely authorizes the mandate, which the nuns consider a sinful action, to a third party. He criticizes the government for downplaying the importance of its own requirement.
“The government now asks the Supreme Court to believe that the very thing it is forcing the nuns to do — signing the permission slip — is a meaningless act,” Rienzi explained. “But why on earth would the government be fighting the Little Sisters all the way to the Supreme Court if it did not think its own form had any effect? The government’s brief offers no explanation for its surprising insistence on making the Little Sisters sign a form the government now says is meaningless.”
The administration required nonprofits — many of which are faith-based — to comply with the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate by Jan. 1. For-profit businesses had to comply by August 2012.
“The government is asking the Supreme Court to look the other way while it coerces the Little Sisters,” Rienzi said. “If the administration believed its contraceptive mandate was valid, it would join the Little Sisters’ request for Supreme Court review because the government has lost almost all of the cases in the lower courts. Instead, its brief today is devoted to trying to keep the Court out of the issue, which would leave hundreds of religious organizations subject to massive fines for following their religion.”
He called the situation “sad” and “unnecessary.”
“Our federal government is massive and powerful,” Rienzi explained. “It can obviously find ways to distribute contraceptives and abortion pills without forcing nuns to be involved.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the DOJ’s response.
Read “Take Action: Little Sisters of the Poor Sue the Obama Administration.”
Read “Sotomayor Temporarily Halts HHS Mandate for Little Sisters of the Poor.”
A Sacramento Superior Court has ordered the state of California to count all petitions for a referendum that could overturn a law that endangers students.
Gov. Brown signed AB 1266 into law this summer. It gives students the option of using a school’s boys or girls bathroom or locker room based on whichever gender they believe they are.
“This law is an invasion of privacy of all students,” said Karen England, executive director of Capitol Resource Institute, a pro-family group in Sacramento. “I’m particularly concerned about our girls … and having a biological boy with access, at any time, to these facilities.”
The law was set to take effect Jan. 1.
Privacy for All Students (PFAS) gathered enough signatures — more than 600,000 — in 90 days to place the law on hold. The group handed over the signatures to the Secretary of State, who refused to count the petitions submitted in two of the state’s 58 counties. A three-day weekend had interrupted the deliveries of petitions from Mono and Tulare counties.
In his opinion, Judge Allen Sumner concluded that PFAS had and extra day — until Nov. 12 — to file the petitions.
Once the signatures are verified, the referendum will be placed on the 2014 ballot.
If the law does go into effect, people will become desensitized to “seeing the opposite gender walk into a restroom,” England explained.
“Right now, if I see a boy follow a girl into a girls restroom, I’d run over there and block the door,” she told CitizenLink. “A year or two from now — when this is commonplace in California — no one is going to block the door to save that girl.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about Privacy for All Students.
Read “California Gov. Signs Student-Gender Bill.”
CitizenLink is proud to work with the Family Policy Council of West Virginia and other family policy organizations across the country to stand for marriage, life and religious freedom. Learn more about the one in your state.
by the Family Policy Council of West Virginia
The Board of Directors of the Family Policy Council of West Virginia has formally named Allen Whitt as the new President of the state’s leading faith-based public policy organization. Whitt is a former media writer and consultant for Dr. Billy Graham. He also served as Assistant to the President for Dr. James Dobson while at the international radio ministry Focus on the Family. Whitt is returning home to Appalachia after winning several pro-life and pro-family legislative victories in his role as the Director of Policy for the Montana Family Policy Council.
He is the successor to Jeremy Dys who pioneered the post for six years. Dys, now Senior Counsel for the Liberty Institute based in Dallas, TX, continues the fight for freedom by litigating cases to restore religious liberty according to the vision of the founding fathers.
Chairman of the Council’s Board of Directors Jim Larrita, said, “Opposition groups on the left have recently brought in new activist leaders and plan to raise millions to force anti-faith laws onto West Virginians. So we are very pleased to welcome someone with Allen Whitt’s leadership experience. We are confident that his history of rallying the faith community will help us advance our organization and win these crucial policy battles.”
Whitt said, “Several bills proposed for West Virginia’s 2014 legislative session intend to erode the right of religious expression for West Virginia’s families, churches and Christian-owned businesses. For example, we plan to vigorously oppose the Employer’s Non-Discrimination Act (also known as ENDA). This is the type of legislation driven by homosexual activists from Washington D.C. that will destroy religious rights in West Virginia. But I’m optimistic that our upcoming informational campaigns will inspire conservative West Virginians to stand against the ENDA bill and defend our right of religious freedom.”
During the last several legislative sessions the Family Policy Council of West Virginia has lead efforts to strengthen the state’s natural families. Those have included the promotion of pro-life and pro-family legislation as well as drafting a bill that would let the people vote to amend West Virginia’s constitution. That vote by West Virginia’s overwhelmingly conservative population would likely defend the definition marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman. Previous house and senate leaders in West Virginia’s legislature would not let any such marriage amendment bills come to the floor for a vote. In his new role as President, Whitt hopes to change that.
The Family Policy Council faithfully influences West Virginia’s laws, lawmakers and state elections to defend the constitutional right of religious freedom for families and churches. Family Policy Council of West Virginia is affiliated with Focus on the Family and CitizenLink.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the Family Policy Council of West Virginia.
Religious freedom and Obamacare crossed paths again this week when Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor blocked enforcement of the contraception mandate for a Roman Catholic organization dedicated to serving the elderly poor. The mandate will be on hold for the group until Friday morning.
The Obama administration required nonprofits — many of which are faith-based — to comply with the Health and Human Services mandate by Jan. 1. The mandate forces organizations to offer potential abortion-inducing drugs in their employee health plans.
For-profit businesses had to comply by August 2012.
“We are delighted that the Supreme Court has issued this order protecting the Little Sisters of the Poor,” said Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “The government has lots of ways to deliver contraceptives to people — it doesn’t need to force nuns to participate.”
Little Sisters is an international organization headquartered in Maryland. Its Denver location filed suit against the mandate in September. Sotomayor’s decision halts the mandate for the entire organization.
The White House responded to the decision:
But [we] remain confident that our final rules strike the balance of providing women with free contraceptive coverage while preventing non-profit religious employers with religious objections to contraceptive coverage from having to contract, arrange, pay, or refer for such coverage.
Bruce Hausknecht, legal analyst for Focus on the Family, said it’s easy to read between the lines.
“What it means is that President Obama is comfortable with telling nuns that they must be participants in actions that violate their most deeply held religious beliefs,” he said. “It means that the administration has declared itself the ultimate judge of what and who is religious enough to be entitled to the freedom of religion. It means that in order to accomplish the dubious goal of providing free contraceptives to women, the president would rather force religious non-profits to close rather than find a simpler alternative.”
The government has until Friday morning at 10 a.m. ET to respond to the emergency stay.
Hausknecht said the mandate vilifies those with conservative values.
“This administration will go out of its way to force people and institutions of faith to compromise their principles or be forced out of participation in society,” Hausknecht said. “That’s tyranny.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read “Take Action: Little Sisters of the Poor Sue the Obama Administration.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs has admitted that one of its employees made a mistake when refusing to accept a donation of handmade cards from students who wished bedridden veterans a “Merry Christmas,” and wrote encouraging words including “God Bless You.”
Susan Chapman, a teacher at Grace Academy of North Texas in Prosper, is the wife of a military veteran. She and her students created Christmas cards to give to bedridden veterans at the Dallas VA Medical Center.
Chapman told Liberty Institute that she went to deliver the cards — two days before Christmas — the VA refused to accept them because of their religious references.
“To suggest or think that an eight-year-old child, who writes on their own and puts together a card that says ‘Merry Christmas’ is somehow going to offend some wounded warrior in our military hospital is just absurd,” Texas Values President Jonathan Saenz told Fox News.
Liberty Institute sent a demand letter to the VA on Dec. 24 underscoring the constitutional rights of Chapman and her students to distribute such cards. The group also threatened legal action.
The VA responded three days later admitting it was wrong. It stated that the donation of cards is welcome. It also mentioned its policy stating that chaplains may provide such literature only upon patient request.
“The VA’s policy of banning Christmas cards unless a veteran specifically asks for a Christmas card is not only unlawful it is patently silly,” the Liberty Institute said in a statement. “We are continuing our investigation of this incident as well as numerous others we are learning about where VA facilities across the country are engaging in hostility to religion in violation of the First Amendment and federal law.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the letter Liberty Institute sent to the VA.
Read the VA’s response.
Each year brings notable developments and new personalities to the national debate over public policy and the American way of life.
Once in a while, in the midst of cultural clashes and political power struggles, a story emerges which reveals the transforming power of Jesus Christ.
One such story this year involved a familiar personality on Fox News named Kirsten Powers. Kirsten formerly worked in the Clinton Administration and on national Democratic campaigns. She has appeared regularly on Fox News as a political analyst, offering views from a liberal Democratic perspective.
In a move that stunned many of her friends and colleagues, Powers announced in November in a Christianity Today article that she had made the decision to make Jesus Christ the Lord of her Life.
Powers wrote: ”If there was one thing in which I was completely secure, it was that I would never adhere to any religion–especially to evangelical Christianity, which I held in particular contempt…Everyone I knew was politically left-leaning, and my group of friends was overwhelmingly atheist.”
Powers was introduced to Christianity by a boyfriend. As she attended church with him and then read the Bible, she concluded “that the weight of evidence was on the side of Christianity.” Powers says she then experienced an encounter with God during a trip to Taiwan.
She says that she became convinced that God was for real after attending a Bible study, where she “was filled with indescribable joy.” “It’s true, it’s completely true,” she said as she left the study.
“The horror of the prospect of being a devout Christian crept back in almost immediately,” she recounted. “I spent the next few months doing my best to wrestle away from God. It was pointless.”
“Everywhere I turned there He was. Slowly there was less fear and more joy. The Hound of Heaven had pursued me and caught me–whether I liked it or not.”
Powers has demonstrated concrete evidence of her conversion. She recently penned a fiery column decrying late-term abortion
and condemning arguments that opposition to abortion is a “war on women.”
Kirsten’s testimony is a stirring reminder that the arm of the Lord is not too short to reach any of us. We pray that the Hound of Heaven will be welcome in the United States of America during 2014.
You can read the Christianity Today article at this link.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the Missouri Family Policy Council.