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It’s no secret that threats to religious freedom continue to proliferate across the country.
The Obama administration faces more than 90 lawsuits from businesses and nonprofits fighting a government mandate requiring them to betray their faith — or pay steep fines. Some even face the possibility of shutting down.
Today, in spite of his actions in office, the president expressed enthusiastic support for religious freedom.
Today, Obama and hundreds of others attended the 62nd annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. During his speech, the president highlighted “the inherent dignity of every human being”:
And central to that dignity is freedom of religion — the right for every person to practice their faith how they choose, to change their faith if they choose, or to practice no faith at all, and to do this free from persecution and fear.
He made no mention of the many people of faith challenging the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate. It requires most for-profit businesses and nonprofit organizations to offer potential abortion-inducing drugs in their employee health plans.
Mainstream news outlets have failed to note the conflict between some of the president’s policies and his words. Policy experts, though, were not so silent.
U.S. Congressman Doug Lamborn from Colorado pointed out the irony when the president said: “…the killing of the innocent is never fulfilling God’s will; in fact, it’s the ultimate betrayal of God’s will.”
In spite of it sounding like a pro-life statement, the Republican lawmaker told CitizenLink that Obama “doesn’t see this in relation to abortion.”
Focus on the Family Judicial Analyst Bruce Hausknecht also questions Obama’s statements today.
“I would ask the president to consider the dignity of the Little Sisters of the Poor,” he said. “I would ask him to consider the dignity of our military personnel, including chaplains, who are being told to compromise their religious beliefs about marriage and biblical sexuality or leave the military. I would ask the president, whose IRS targets religiously motivated pro-life and pro-marriage non-profit organizations for harassment and intimidation, to consider their dignity. I would ask the president to look to his own administration’s actions which, with an ever-increasing frequency, attack and erode the very religious freedom which he said in his speech that he strongly supports.”
Take Action for Religious Freedom
Urge President Obama to stop the Health and Human Services (HHS) Mandate requiring businesses provide contraceptives and possible abortion-inducing drugs to their employees under their respective insurance plans.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read a transcript of the president’s remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast 2014.
Lawmakers in Maine are scheduled to vote next week on legislation that would clarify and ensure the constitutional rights of people who live there.
Introduced by Sen. David C. Burns, An Act to Protect Religious Freedom would restore First Amendment protections lost after a 1997 Supreme Court Decision. The ruling limited the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to the federal government. It said that if states want the same level of protection, they must pass their own version of the bill.
“Our Founding Fathers understood that this was a fundamental right,” said Carroll Conley, president of the Christian Civic League (CCL) of Maine. “If this is not protected, all of our rights are vulnerable.”
Maine’s legislation is similar to bills passed in 18 other states. The Senate is expected to vote next Tuesday.
Pastor Bob Emrich, chairman of CCL’s board of directors, said its passage would bring the state closer to the federal law.
‘It would restore the historical level of protection of religious liberty for all Mainers,” said Emrich, who pastors Emmanuel Bible Church in Plymouth. “It would clarify constitutional rights and further compel courts to defend them.”
He praised Burns for introducing it.
“The bill is the result of conversations and prayers over at least two years,” Emrich told CitizenLink. “It was one of, if not the primary reason Burns decided to seek election to the state Senate.”
Emrich also highlighted the lawmaker’s “faithfulness as a man who loves God and who seeks a life of obedience.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about Christian Civic League of Maine.
Learn more about LD1428, An Act to Protect Religious Freedom.
CitizenLink is proud to work with the North Carolina Family Policy Council 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 Alysse ElHage
Generating quite a bit of press attention this week is a new report from the Guttmacher Institute showing the national abortion rate has dropped to its lowest point since 1973 — the year the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion-on-demand. The report, Abortion Incidence and Service Availability in the United States, 2011 , is based on Guttmacher’s most recent survey of abortion providers and population data, which were used “to estimate national and state-level abortion rates” between 2008 and 2011 (the latest year abortion data is available). While the report highlights a steady decline in abortions between 2008 and 2011, it denies the decline is related to what it describes as a “proliferation” in state laws restricting abortion that occurred during the same time period.
Nationwide, the report shows that both the abortion rate and the number of abortions decreased by 13 percent, or “about four to five percent” each year, between 2008 and 2011. Even more encouraging is the news that the 2011 abortion rate of 16.9 per 1,000 women is the lowest since 1973. According to Guttmacher, a decline in abortion was seen in nearly every state and the District of Columbia, except for Alaska, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, West Virginia and Wyoming, which either “experienced no change or an increase in abortion rates.” North Carolina outpaced the national average, as its abortion rate declined 15 percent between 2008 and 2011, from 17.1 to 14.6.
So what is causing the steady decline in abortions nationwide — and could the decline be attributed to the increase in pro-life laws at the state level? During the same time period that the national abortion rate dropped 13 percent (between 2008 and 2011), Guttmacher reports that 106 new laws aimed at restricting abortions were implemented at the state level, including in North Carolina. Although the report acknowledges a “proliferation of state-level abortion restrictions,” it claims there is “no evidence that the overall drop in abortion incidence was related to the decrease in [abortion] providers or to restrictions implemented between 2008 and 2011.” Instead, Guttmacher attributes most of the decline in abortions to fewer unintended pregnancies, the economy, and possibly “more effective” use of contraception among young women, while emphasizing that its survey of abortion providers is not equipped to measure the impact of state-level pro-life laws on abortion rates.
Even so, the Guttmacher report does acknowledge the potential impact of some pro-life laws, such as laws in Missouri and Louisiana. “A few states adopted restrictions that may have affected access to abortion services,” the report notes. “[R]egulations for in-person counseling and a 24-hour waiting period in Missouri, may have posed a barrier to service for some women, and [Targeted Restrictions of Abortion Provider] laws like the one implemented in Louisiana may have disrupted clinic services, thereby reducing abortion incidence.”
While the Guttmacher report is focused on whether state-level pro-life laws are actually preventing women from getting abortions, it ignores another way these laws could be impacting the abortion rate — by helping to shift public opinion on abortion, particularly among young people. After all, the law is a powerful teacher, especially when it raises the public discourse of an issue.
Just as abortions and public acceptance of abortion increased significantly following the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the recent increase in pro-life laws at the state level could very well be helping to change public opinion about abortion by drawing attention to its atrocities. As Carrie Gordon Earll, senior director for public policy at Focus on the Family points out, “Each time state pro-life bills are considered and passed, there’s a considerable amount of public dialogue on the topic — all of which impact public perception of abortion and raise questions about legality, safety, and the value of human life.”
While recent surveys show that public opinion on abortion has remained about the same over the years, they also show increasingly pro-life attitudes among the younger generation. According to the latest General Social Survey report on abortion attitudes conducted by the National Opinion Research Corporation, “the youngest age group (those under age 35) is, on average, the second lowest in favor of legal abortions.” As a 2010 Gallup report explains, beginning in the mid-1970s and through the late 1990s, young adults ages 18 to 29 “were the most supportive of legal abortion under any circumstances,” until 2000, when that began to change. More recent Gallup surveys show that “support for making abortion broadly illegal” is growing most quickly among 18 to 29 year-olds.
It is significant that attitudes about abortion are changing among younger Americans, especially considering that teens and women between the ages of 20 and 24 tend to have the highest rates of abortion. As the debate over the reasons for the decline in abortion continues, the power of pro-life laws to influence public views on abortion should not be overlooked.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the North Carolina Family Policy Council.
In his Stoplight® commentary, Stuart Shepard explains how the same thing can be necessary for life — and dangerous.
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A legal group sent a letter this week to Tempe school districts warning of the dangers involved in allowing Planned Parenthood Arizona to implement its sex education curriculum. The letter also reminds school officials that doing so would likely be illegal.
The Tempe Union High School District (TUHSD) is reviewing sex education curricula. Last month the district’s Sex Education Curriculum Committee invited a Planned Parenthood employee to a meeting to present an overview of the abortion seller’s programs. The committee has not chosen a curriculum yet.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) isn’t the only one speaking out against the abortion business.
On Tuesday, parents and others voiced strong opposition to Planned Parenthood during a committee meeting held at a Phoenix high school. About 20 people spoke during public comments; all but one disapproved of Planned Parenthood, said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Michael Norton, who attended the meeting.
Among those who spoke out against the abortion seller was ADF Litigation Counsel Natalie Decker.
“Over 100 people in opposition to Planned Parenthood stood when Natalie asked those opposed to Planned Parenthood in the schools to stand,” Norton told CitizenLink.
The committee will meet again in March.
“We have gotten the attention of the Committee, the Board, and the Board attorney,” Norton explained. “It seems unlikely planned Parenthood will be selected, but we will continue to monitor.”
In its letter, ADF reminds school officials of Senate Bill 1009. Enacted in 2012, the law prohibits any presentations during school time that “does not give preference, encouragement and support to childbirth and adoption as preferred options to elective abortion.”
“Given its emphasis on the promotion and performance of abortions, the involvement of Planned Parenthood AZ in decision-making of Arizona school districts in any capacity is highly problematic regardless of whether Planned Parenthood AZ employees physically enter the classrooms to teach students, train public school teachers, or serve in any sort of advisory role to school districts,” the letter explains. “Moreover, the involvement of Planned Parenthood AZ is likely to cause Arizona school districts to be in violation of Arizona law.”
Students and parents deserve better, Decker said in a release.
“Schoolchildren should be able to have a positive education free from influence by Planned Parenthood’s abortion marketing campaign,” she explained. “School districts should carefully consider and review programs that are available to ensure compliance with state law and use a curriculum that supports abstinence, childbirth, and adoption instead of abortion.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the letter ADF send to Tempe school districts
Learn more about SB 1009.
The ACLU filed suit Monday on behalf of four same-sex couples challenging a Wisconsin amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
The couples claim the amendment violates the U.S. Constitution. They are also seeking to stop a state law that makes it illegal for same-sex couples to marry in a state where the institution has been redefined.
Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action (WFA), told CitizenLink it’s likely her group will get involved in the case.
“We don’t believe they have a constitutional right to get married,” she said. “Those who are filing the lawsuit are contorting the Constitution to say something it does not say.”
At the very minimum, WFA will file a friend-of-the court brief supporting the amendment.
Nearly 60 percent of Wisconsin voters approved the marriage amendment in November 2006. It also prohibits civil unions.
Marriage is the foundation for our society.
“It provides a very important societal good,” Appling explained. “It brings men and women together in a union primarily to make sure the next generation is cared for — so that children have what they need to grow.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the complaint in Wolf et al, v. Walker et al.
CitizenLink is proud to work with the Liberty Institute 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 Liberty Institute
IN THE MILITARY
This past Christmas, Liberty Institute was honored to receive a heartwarming letter and some very special gifts from Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk, a client and dear friend of Liberty who put everything on the line to stand for religious freedom.
It was a gift not only to our staff, but was meant to honor supporters like you.
In the letter, Monk started by saying…
“My family and I are so thankful for Liberty Institute. Please extend our greatest appreciation to all the staff, board members and supporters. I know it takes a strong team to carry out the important mission of defending Religious Liberty. It’s apparent God has blessed you with a great team. In the spirit of Christmas, I want to give Liberty Institute three gifts. These gifts are of great significance to me and I truly hope they adequately communicate to you my immense gratitude for Liberty Institute’s unwavering support.”
The first gift we received was Monk’s stripes that he wore on his shoulders at home and abroad. He gave them to Liberty “for fighting alongside me in the midst of battle, just like a First Sergeant would do for those he was called to defend.”
The next gift was an American flag that was “flown on a combat mission over the skies of Iraq, on December 5, 2009, aboard and MQ-1B Predator, Tail 3165 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
Last, Monk gave Liberty Institute a coin that came from the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Support Squadron while he was stationed in Iraq.
These gifts were an incredible honor for Liberty Institute and they are displayed proudly in our lobby to remind us all everyday of why we continue to do the work we do.
“I’m convinced Religious Liberty is inextricable to the execution of the Profession of Arms,” wrote Monk. “One must be grounded in faith to endure the horrors of war. When I was deployed as a medic, I witnessed nearly 600 brave Americans fight to survive terrible injuries they suffered during combat. I assure you, they fought for no other reason but to protect the freedom we all enjoy.”
LIBERTY INSTITUTE FIGHTS FOR THOSE IN THE MILITARY
This powerful letter from Monk was an amazing inspiration and the perfect example of why we launched our fourth pillar, adding the military to our work with churches, schools and the public arena.
Monk’s case sounded the alarm to the severity of the assaults on religious freedom in the military.
Monk, a 19-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, was relieved of his duties because of his faith and moral convictions. Due to his religious beliefs, Monk respectfully declined to agree with his “politically correct” commander’s viewpoint about homosexual marriage when that commander demanded an answer.
Monk’s impeccable military record was compromised . . . and his career threatened.
This is just one example of the “politically correct” war against religious liberty in the U.S. military. It is part of the war against open expression of religious belief and values in America as a whole.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the Liberty Institute.
How did Florida pro-lifers pass a bill protecting infants without a single ‘No’ vote? With some unintended help from their opponents.
Every day, Florida Baptist Children’s Homes (FBCH) cares for abused and neglected children—aiding hundreds of thousands a year—at a string of campuses across the state. It’s challenging work that calls for a big heart and a lot of commitment.
But one day last spring, at one of those campuses, everyone took time out from their labors to celebrate a breakthrough for the sanctity of life.
On June 5, Gov. Rick Scott came to the FBCH Pensacola campus to sign the Infants Born-Alive Act, requiring medical care for children who survive abortions.
Citing “heartbreaking” cases where such children had been left to die untended, Scott declared that “we owe (it to) … every child to do everything in our power to save their life.”
Scott didn’t come alone. Several legislators made the trip, and one participated in the ceremonies long-distance—very long-distance. The bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park—a physician and Army reservist—was deployed to Kuwait, but took part via Skype.
Several Florida pro-life leaders were there, including one with a special interest in the outcome: Penny Hopper, who survived an attempted abortion in 1955.
“We were with all the people that remind us who we’re fighting for,” said John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council—the state group associated with CitizenLink, a public-policy partner of Focus on the Family.
“We were surrounded by children and babies. It was just a beautiful day,” he told Citizen.
Florida is far from the first state to pass laws protecting infants born alive. But the way it happened in the Sunshine State drew national attention—and, some pro-lifers say, could benefit their movement in the months and years to come.
‘More Common Than You Know’
How many infants are born after attempted abortions, then left to die if not actively killed? No one knows.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) record infant deaths from “termination of pregnancy, affecting fetus and newborn”—but seldom publishes the data, which is reported to the CDC voluntarily. (California, where perhaps one-fourth of U.S. abortions are performed, doesn’t report at all. Neither does Florida.)
Even with those severe limitations, Matthew Clark of the American Center for Law and Justice found 362 such deaths in CDC records from 2001-2010. And these likely represent only a small fraction of the real number, for a very simple reason.
“To find out about these cases, we’d need someone to report them, usually either abortionists or members of their staff,” explained Mary Harned (pronounced harn-ed), staff counsel for the legal group Americans United for Life. “These are the very people being paid to end the baby’s life. They’re not going to tell the authorities about it very often.”
Such deaths happen often enough that, in 2002, Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed a federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. That law, however, only applied to federal property, was weak on penalties and has been left unenforced.
“It became law and basically was set aside,” Harned said. “But states can make their own laws stronger than the federal requirements—including the extent of the criminal penalties.”
As of early 2013, 29 states had done just that. In Florida, pro-lifers set out to make their state the 30th—and, in the process, to recapture some recently faltering momentum.
In 2012, voters were faced with a ballot measure to ban taxpayer funding of abortion and prevent courts from granting stronger abortion rights under the state constitution than under the U.S. Constitution, thus opening the way to parental-consent laws. The proposal—one of 11 proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot that year—was defeated, as were nearly all the others, by voters wary of the sheer number of constitutional changes.
“Recently we’d taken a ‘mega-bill’ approach, covering multiple goals in one measure, and we found that they were overwhelming people (with their complexity),” said Sheila Hopkins, the now-retired director of social concerns/respect life for the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, who led the lobbying effort for the born-alive bill.
“We looked for something clear-cut, that Republicans and Democrats could support, and that put a face on the outcome of abortion,” Hopkins told Citizen.
The trial of Philadelphia late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell—who was ultimately convicted on multiple counts of murder last year—helped pave the way, she said. “People heard about that and thought, ‘How evil is that?’ Then we started to hear from OB-GYN workers saying, ‘This is more common than you know.’ ”
Not only was this an opportunity to save the infants who survived abortions, Stemberger said, it was also an opening to focus the public’s attention on the nature of abortion.
“While these cases aren’t very common, they do happen more than you would think—and this sad reality brings home the truth of the grisly nature of this procedure,” he said.
“It’s a lot like the partial-birth abortion issue,” he added. “It shows people the reality of abortion—that the victim is an innocent child—and wins their sympathy. This isn’t a Republican-Democrat issue, or even a conservative-liberal issue. This is a human-rights issue.”
Planned Parenthood’s Blunder
To advance the Infants Born Alive bill in the Legislature, Florida’s pro-life groups called upon both a veteran and a rookie.
The veteran was Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, who’d served in the House from 2004-2010 and in the Senate since then, holding the position of Majority Whip. The rookie was Pigman, an emergency-room physician who’d been elected to the House in November 2012.
For Pigman, this issue had a special personal resonance: For more than 30 years, he’d been haunted by the memory of a late-term abortion he’d had to witness while in medical school.
“It was gruesome and brutal,” he told Citizen. “I couldn’t believe it was permitted. But it was.”
Pigman wasn’t optimistic when he started promoting the born-alive bill. “I didn’t really think it would pass,” he said. “I hoped I could just get some hearings.”
But in conversation and negotiations with other legislators, the sponsors and lobbyists found some potential opponents coming over to their side. “Some Democrats stepped up and said, ‘Yes, we can’t imagine not helping a baby in that situation,’ ” Hopkins said.
The biggest lift for the pro-lifers’ cause, however, came from the place they’d least expected: Planned Parenthood.
In late March, Alisa LaPolt Snow—a lobbyist for the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates—testified before the House Civil Justice Subcommittee in opposition to the bill. And the more she talked, the worse it got.
“It is just really hard for me to even ask you this question because I’m almost in disbelief,” said Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton. “If a baby is born on a table as a result of a botched abortion, what would Planned Parenthood want to have happen to that child that is struggling for life?”
Snow replied: “We believe that any decision that’s made should be left up to the woman, her family and the physician.”
Rep. Daniel Davis, R-Jacksonville asked: “What happens in a situation where a baby is alive, breathing on a table, moving. What do your physicians do at that point?”
“I do not have that information,” Snow answered. “I am not a physician, I am not an abortion provider. So I do not have that information.”
Rep. Jose Oliva, R-Miami, tried yet again: “You stated that (in the case of) a baby born alive on a table as a result of a botched abortion, that that decision should be left to the doctor and the family. Is that what you’re saying?”
Snow: “That decision should be between the patient and the health care provider.”
Oliva: “I think that at that point the patient would be the child struggling on the table, wouldn’t you agree?”
Snow: “That’s a very good question. I really don’t know how to answer that. I would be glad to have some more conversations with you about this.”
And on it went, for 39 minutes. It wasn’t long before video from the hearing began circulating online. And then the Florida story wasn’t just a Florida story anymore.
“It started with video on a single website, but it spread fast,” Stemberger said. “We circulated it to all our contacts, many of them national pro-life leaders. We knew that Planned Parenthood had literally become its own worst enemy.”
‘The Most Emotional Day’
“That launched us nationally in a big way,” Hopkins said. “It was really bad PR for Planned Parenthood. Once it was out there, they couldn’t oppose the bill. It was a no-win situation for them.”
Not that they didn’t try. Planned Parenthood kept opposing the bill for another week, even while issuing a “clarification” backpedaling from its own lobbyist’s position and claiming it would provide “appropriate care” for an infant who survived abortion—while neglecting to comment on whether the law should require it.
But the group clearly was in trouble and looking for a way out. When Pigman made a minor amendment, modifying language on the conditions in which the child who survived would be placed in the custody of the state, Planned Parenthood withdrew its remaining objections.
The result: The bill not only passed the House on April 17, it passed 119-0.
“That day was the most emotional day for me,” Pigman said. “I’d expected a rancorous debate. Instead, it was unanimous.”
And it stayed unanimous in the Senate, which passed Flores’ version of the bill 38-0 a couple weeks later.
“It would have been hard for anyone to vote ‘No,’ ” Hopkins said. “It would’ve put them in a bad light, not just with their constituents but with their own families.”
Now, with the bill signed into law, Stemberger sees great value in the attention it got: the reminder of how shaky the distinction is between “fetus” and “infant”; the illustration of what late-term abortionists, especially, are willing to do; and the exposure of the brutal logic of the “pro-choice” movement, taken to its logical conclusion and now forever on display on the Internet.
“The issue did good things for the pro-life movement not just in Florida but nationally,” he said. “This shows we’re not just talking about a ‘blob of flesh.’ It’s a baby.
“It also shows the true nature of the abortion industry—the business of death for profit. If you’re willing to take the life of a baby at this stage, what won’t you do?”
Meanwhile, pro-lifers in the Sunshine State are savoring the morale-boosting victory, always mindful that they have far more work ahead.
“You work hard on these issues in the legislature,” Stemberger said. “Sometimes you work for months, sometimes for years and years. So it’s very rewarding when you see a bill become law.”
Focus on the Family Citizen magazine sets the record straight on the issues that affect your family, your community and your church. You’ll read about local heroes and find practical steps to help you make a difference. If you want a nation that honors faith, family and freedom, Citizen is for you.
Popular culture is sending young people all the wrong messages about marriage. Focus on the Family is offering a free resource to help you talk to the young people in your life about the many benefits of marriage.
Download “Talking to Children About Marriage.”
The abortion rate decreased — from 2008 to 2011 — and reached its lowest rate since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.
The Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of the abortion industry, released the report Monday. Pro-lifers note that its finding coincides with other data reflecting a decrease in abortion over the last couple of years. They also note, though, the study’s lack of attribution to the significant increase in pro-life laws.
“The authors of the Guttmacher report downplay the more than 40 new state laws passed between 2008-2010 as having an impact on the abortion drop,” said Carrie Gordon Earll, senior director for public policy at Focus on the Family. “Yet, they also admit their survey of the abortion industry wasn’t designed to measure the impact of new laws.”
The institute released a report last month showing that 70 pro-life laws were enacted in 22 states last year. This makes 2013 second only to 2011 in the number of such laws passed.
Monday’s report shows that the abortion rate dropped significantly in 2011. That year, there were an estimated 1.1 abortions in the U.S., representing an abortion rate of 16.9 per 1,000 women ages 15-44. This shows a drop of 13 percent since 2008.
Guttmacher concluded that abortion restrictions played no role in this decline:
The national abortion rate has resumed its decline, and no evidence was found that the overall drop in abortion incidence was related to the decrease in providers or to restrictions implemented between 2008 and 2011.
The institute says factors could include changes in sexual activity, increased use of contraceptives and the economy.
Earll underscored the power of pro-life legislation.
“Each time state pro-life bills are considered and passed, there’s a considerable amount of public dialogue on the topic — all of which impact public perception of abortion and raise questions about legality, safety and the value of human life,” she explained. “The bottom line is that the pro-life message continues to resonate with Americans and this decrease in the number of abortions.”
Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser agrees.
“The child in the womb is increasingly being seen for what she is: a second victim of the violence of abortion,” she said. “Guttmacher’s new report is another indication that our nation is indeed growing weary of the destruction wrought by legalized abortion on demand.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the Guttmacher report: “Abortion Incidence and Service Availability In the United States, 2011.”
Read “Report: More Pro-Life Laws Enacted in 2011-13 than in Previous Decade.”
Read “Advocates March for ‘Most Basic Right to Life.”
A federal court on Monday said a Wisconsin pastor and his church may intervene in a lawsuit to defend religious freedom.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) is challenging an IRS policy prohibiting pastors from speaking publicly from the pulpit on political issues, even if from a Biblical standpoint. It’s been illegal to do so since Congress passed the Johnson Amendment in 1954. This revised the federal tax code to threaten churches with losing their tax exempt status if they speak out for or against political candidates or issues on the ballot.
“This is interesting because Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has been trying for several years to entice the IRS to sue a church over ‘political’ sermons without success,” said Focus on the Family Judicial Analyst Bruce Hausknecht. “FFRF may have just provided the means for a church to force the issue on the IRS. It’s kind of ingenious.”
A Wisconsin federal district court has permitted the Rev. Patrick Malone and the Holy Cross Anglican Church to be defendants, fighting FFRF’s claims.
According to the suit, Malone and the church are concerned that if the Foundation obtains the relief it seeks in this lawsuit, then the IRS will be required to “punish” them for having engaged in political activity. The will argue that they have a legal right to participate in political campaigns without compromising their tax-exempt status.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the complaint in FFRF v. Koskinen.
CitizenLink is proud to work with the Louisiana 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 the Louisiana Family Forum
Prompted by changes in Louisiana law, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) has been working on revisions to existing abortion facility regulations for two years.
DHH has accepted written comments and planned a public hearing for Tuesday based on those revisions. However, late Monday evening, DHH issued this notice of cancellation on their website.
Gene Mills, President of the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF), released this statement regarding the cancellation of today’s hearing:
“Secretary Kathy Kliebert has proposed modest, common sense measures to protect Louisiana women and children and to insure that the Louisiana abortion industry operates by standards comparable to other outpatient surgery centers. LFF commends DHH and Secretary Kliebert for these responsible efforts.
DHH has been under strident attack for the last two weeks by aggressive abortion profiteers who support the deregulation of the abortion industry in Louisiana. The public hearing delay is DHH’s due diligence before publishing rules for those who market abortions in Louisiana. The public will have an opportunity to comment at a rescheduled hearing in the near future.
We are grateful for the leadership which the Jindal Administration has taken in implementing the will of the Louisiana Legislature to guard against dangerous conditions in these facilities.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the Louisiana Family Forum.
Even though the IRS admitted last year that it was wrong to target conservative groups, President Obama claimed this weekend that the agency had “Not even a smidgen of corruption.”
He made the remarks during a pre-Super Bowl interview with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News. Policy experts, including those who were targeted, were quick to rebut his claims.
The president’s comments “represent a continued pattern of denying admitted-to wrongdoing on the part of the federal bureaucracy,” True the Vote (TTV) President Catherine Engelbrecht told CitizenLink. “Obama’s posture on the matter significantly increases the risk of this behavior becoming business as usual.”
TTV filed suit last spring. According to the complaint, the IRS “unlawfully” delayed the group’s application. It also says the IRS participated in “unlawful” intrusions into its activities.
The IRS admitted last year that it delayed applications for nonprofit status for organizations whose names included words such as “Tea Party” and “patriot.” Other groups — including the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Samaritan’s Purse and the Biblical Recorder — said that they, too, were targeted.
During O’Reilly’s interview, Obama minimized the IRS’ actions, characterizing it as simply “some bone-headed decisions.”
At one point the president told O’Reilly it was “absolutely wrong” to say the IRS went after certain groups.
“Folks have, again, had multiple hearings on this,” Obama said. “I mean these kinds of things keep on surfacing, in part because you and your TV station will promote them.”
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which filed suit against the IRS late last year, called the president’s comments “remarkable.”
“The president’s touting of ‘multiple hearings’ that have been held on the subject is simply a tactic of evasion,” NOM said in a statement. “What those hearings have concluded is, at best, debatable. And to say that the issue keeps surfacing because of Fox News keeps bringing it up is an even more brazen attempt to evade the real issue.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Watch Bill O’Reilly’s interview with President Obama.
Read NOM’s blog regarding the interview.
Watch “CitizenLink Report: Conservatives Sue the IRS.”
Read the Complaint in True the Vote v. IRS.
Read the complaint in the National Organization for Marriage, Inc. v. The United States of America, Internal Revenue Service.
Maine’s high court ruled on Friday that a public school must allow a fifth-grade boy — who identifies as a girl — to use the girls restroom.
The boy’s family sued the Orono school district in 2009 after officials required him to use a single-person, unisex staff bathroom. The state Supreme Judicial Court claims the district violated the Maine Human Rights Act (MHRA).
“In other words, under the court’s logic, men in Maine may now use any public womens bathroom, and women in Maine may now use any public mens bathroom,” said Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
The justices ruled 5-1 in favor of the transgender student.
The dissenter argued that the ruling goes against “the plain language of a specific statute (that) explicitly requires segregating school bathrooms by sex.”
Whelan points out that “public” restroom is an “expansive term,” and the court’s ruling essentially makes every public restroom open to anybody.
“It broadly includes, in addition to government buildings, any private facility that offers services to members of the public,” he wrote in the National Review. “Indeed, even labeling a bathroom in, say, a restaurant with a sign designating ‘Men’ or ‘Women’ violates the majority’s understanding of the MHRA.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read John Doe, et al. v Regional School Unit 26.
CitizenLink is proud to work with the Virginia Family Foundation 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 Virginia Family Foundation
On Thursday, Jan. 23, Attorney General Mark Herring, after less than two weeks in office, made an unprecedented announcement: Not only would he not defend the Virginia Marriage Amendment, but he would join the plaintiffs in suing the Commonwealth of Virginia. On top of that, he refused to appoint outside counsel, as he is allowed and budgeted to do in cases where he has a conflict or profound disagreement.
It is an unprecedented move to fight against the law, and against your own citizens, on behalf of those who are suing the Commonwealth of Virginia. However, Herring apparently is content to let his clients — the citizens of Virginia — be without a legal defense. This is unheard of in the legal profession and violates the Bar’s code of professional conduct and ethics. It is akin to a defense lawyer telling a court at the beginning of a trial that he refuses to give his client the defense he deserves and has paid for, and will join the prosecution.
It is imperative we, as citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia, express our concern for Herring’s neglect of duty and disregard for the law. We cannot allow our elected officials to bow to the will of special interests and cherry-pick the Constitution of Virginia.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the Virginia Family Foundation.
Raising children isn’t easy — and raising them to value and honor marriage is most definitely no simple task. As part of its efforts to help parents create a solid foundation — where children can grow and learn about God’s design for the institution — Focus on the Family has created “Teach Your Children About Marriage.”
The two-part booklet provides myriad ideas on how to model healthy marriage to your children. It also offers practical applications for children at every age and stage. And it’s free.
Focus Marriage Analyst Jeff Johnston talked with CitizenLink about this new resource.
CitizenLink: What are some of the ways children benefit from being raised in a home with a mom and a dad?
Jeff Johnston: For decades now, research has shown that children with a married mother and father do best physically, emotionally and psychologically. They’re less likely to get involved with substance abuse or crime, and they do better in school. Marriage between a man and a woman is one of the best ways to combat poverty. We care about children, so we want to promote an environment where they do best.
CL: Why is this “marriage kit” so important for families?
JJ: You can’t assume any more that your kids will grow up understanding what marriage is — the union of a man and a woman. And you can’t assume they’ll know why marriage matters: It’s a foundational building block for society; children do best with a married mother and father; and healthy marriages are the best way to combat poverty and a whole host of social problems — crime, drug abuse, educational problems.
So our team worked to create a creative, user-friendly tool to help parents understand God’s design for marriage, help them model a healthy marriage to their kids and give them ideas for talking to their children about marriage.
Christian marriages and families can be an example of healthy living. They don’t have to be perfect, but we can model how to deal with conflict, how to treat each other, forgiveness, working together — commitment and faithfulness.
CL: In what ways does our culture demean or distort God’s design for marriage?
JJ: When we look around we see the destructiveness of the sexual revolution — the movement for supposed “sexual freedom.” This shift in how we treat God’s gifts of sexuality and marriage has caused chaos: broken sexuality; divorce; broken relationships that lead to abortion; sexually transmitted diseases; and kids being raised without fathers.
The Internet is flooded with pornography and confusion about what it means to be a woman or a man. Those are some of the fruits of the seismic shift our culture’s undergone. It’s like we’ve had this series of huge societal earthquakes and we are looking around at the wreckage, trying to pick up the pieces.
CL: It seems like our current culture has deviated almost completely away from a Christian worldview, especially in terms of marriage and sexuality.
JJ: A large part of the culture has moved away from a Christian sexual ethic — it’s like we are a post-Christian or pagan society. Just look at some examples from popular culture in the past couple months:
- On Thanksgiving, Lady Gaga was featured on “The Muppets” singing with a drag queen
- The Macy’s parade had a dance performance from “Kinky Boots,” a Broadway show about a shoe factory that makws boots for drag queens
- On the first of the year, the Rose Parade included two men getting married on top of a float
- Just this last week the Grammy Awards broadcast a mass wedding — with same-sex couples
If your children or grandchildren are watching this — say they’re just watching the Rose Parade — they’re seeing a gay wedding. Our culture is inculcating our children with sexual confusion and sexual brokenness.
CL: What do you hope people gain from the “Teach Your Children About Marriage” project?
JJ: We want to make a difference in the world around us. My sons and I have been reading about William Wilberforce, who set out to eliminate the slave trade in England — and then to eliminate slavery. He also wanted to change the moral character of English society — to model and teach healthy, virtuous living. That’s what we want to do. We want to follow Wilberforce’s example. We realize this is a long-term project; we’re looking at the next 40-to-50, maybe. But we can make a difference starting with our own marriages and our own children and grandchildren. That’s what these resources do: They start out at a real basic level, parents interacting with their children and teaching them that God’s design for marriage is a man and a woman, in a committed, permanent relationship.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
View and download “Teach Your Children About Marriage.”