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CitizenLink is proud to work with Alaska Family Action 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 Alaska Family Action
In a recent article regarding the new State of Alaska regulation tightening the definition of what a “medically necessary” abortion is in order for public funds to pay for it, Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau makes the predictable statement that “Government should not be involved in these decisions, period.”
Here’s a question for Rep. Kerttula. What do the following medical procedures all have in common ?
- Dental implants
- Chiropractic massage or heat treatments
- Hearing aid maintenance
- Erectile Dysfunction Drugs
- More than one portable x-ray service daily
- Drugs to treat the terminal condition of hospice recipients
- Cosmetic surgery
- Breast implants
Well, it turns out each of these procedures have been determined to not be medically necessary and are therefore not reimbursable under Medicaid.
Time and again we hear from advocates of public funding for all abortions that it is a decision that can only be made between a woman and her doctor. The reality though is that every day, Medicaid patients are told that there are certain procedures that do not qualify for public funding because they are elective. In other words, they are not medically necessary.
Who makes these determinations as to why certain procedures are not reimbursable? Who, Representative Kertulla, is getting between the physician and the patient ?
Answer – Medicaid bureaucrats. The bottom line is that Government is always involved when Government is footing the bill. Think ObamaCare.
When asked in public testimony to define what an elective abortion is during a Senate Judiciary hearing on SB49, the bill Alaska Family Action is advocating for that puts the same regulation the State just implemented into law, Laura Einstein, chief counsel for Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, said that she had “heard of the concept” but just didn’t really know what it was.
Under the Alaska Constitution, the State only has to pay for medically necessary abortions and of course that also means it isn’t required to pay for elective abortions. As long as standard, neutral medical terms and concepts are used, the State has every right to determine what constitutes a medically necessary abortion.
In the 2001 State vs. Planned Parenthood case, the Alaska Supreme Court emphasized in its Opinion that that the Planned Parenthood case did “not concern State payment for elective abortions.” The Court repeatedly limited the application of its decision to “medically necessary abortions” and in fact specifically and deliberately referred to the “medically necessary” nature of the abortions that it was addressing in the case on thirty-four (34) separate instances in its Opinion.
The State is not obligated to leave the definition of “medical necessity” for purposes of Medicaid funding in the sole and unquestioned discretion of the physician. If that were the case, then the State would not be permitted to define the types of medical care that is covered by Medicaid and the types of medical care that is not.
Alaska abortion providers have proven themselves to be unreliable with respect to distinguishing between abortions that are medically necessary and those that are not. For example Dr. Whitefield, one of Alaska’s leading abortion providers and now with Planned Parenthood, has testified under oath that he has consistently defined medical necessity to include women who believe pregnancy will interfere with their employment or education plans, as well as women who view their pregnancy as being an “affront” to them (which essentially means that the woman does not want to be pregnant).
With these new regulations now in place, and hopefully with SB49 getting to Governor Parnell’s desk for his signature early this spring, abortion providers in Alaska will have to start being honest when they seek reimbursement for an elective procedure that ends the life of an unborn child.
This is a victory that should be celebrated not just by those who value the sanctity of every life. It should be seen as good public policy by any Alaskan who respects the rule of law.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about Alaska Family Action.
Attorneys with a Christian legal group filed their opening brief today with the U.S. Supreme Court in a case involving a Mennonite family’s challenge to a government mandate. It requires possible abortion-inducing drugs in employee health plans.
The Hahn family owns and operates Conestoga Wood Specialties in Lancaster, Pa. The Supreme Court announced this week that it will hear this case on March 25 at the same time as Hobby Lobby’s challenge.
“Unjust laws are not valid laws,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel David Cortman. “The government shouldn’t be allowed to punish Americans for exercising their constitutionally protected freedoms. The administration has no business whatsoever forcing citizens to choose between making a living and living free.”
The government required for-profit businesses to comply with the Health and Human Services mandate by August 2012. Nonprofits had a so-called safe harbor until this month.
“Americans should be free to live out their faith in all areas of life-including the way they run their business,” said Randall Wenger, chief counsel for the Independence Law Center, which is assisting Conestoga in this case. “The stakes are high because if government can force us to violate our deepest convictions, there is no stopping the liberties that the government can take from any one of us.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the brief filed with the Supreme Court in Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the federal government will recognize same-sex marriage licenses issued in Utah. This is in conflict with a directive from Gov. Gary Herbert just two days ago directing state agencies not to recognize them.
“I am shocked that the Justice Department would act so quickly to undermine Utah’s constitutional amendment that recognizes marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts from Pennsylvania. “This is just the type of legal chaos that Justice Scalia warned about in his dissent in Windsor vs. U.S.”
In fact, Holder even cited Windsor, the U.S. Supreme Court decision this summer striking down part of the federal marriage law.
“For purposes of federal law,” he wrote, “these marriages will be recognized as lawful and considered eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages.”
Federal District Judge Richard Shelby ruled last month against the state’s voter-approved amendment that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Following the ruling, more than a thousand same-sex couples received marriage licenses, according to Fox News.
Experts note that Shelby acted in defiance of standard judicial practice by letting his ruling stand rather than waiting for the appeals process to play out. The U.S. Supreme Court issued an order Monday halting the marriages. The case now heads to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Ed Whelan, a lawyer and a former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, called Holder’s action “lawless.”
Whelan wrote in a blog for the National Review Online that the decision, does not require the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages in a state that does not recognize them.
Derek Miller, chief of staff to Utah’s governor, released a statement Wednesday saying state recognition of same-sex marriages is on hold.
Pitts said the Obama administration “should have allowed the court to rule before making this decision.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read “Utah Governor’s Office: State Agencies Should Not Recognize Same-Sex Marriages.”
Read “Obama Team’s Recognition of Utah Same-Sex Marriages Shows Need for State Marriage Defense Act.”
CitizenLink is proud to work with the Family Foundation of Kentucky 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 Foundation of Kentucky
The Family Foundation said that Gov. Steve Beshear’s proposal in tonight’s State of the Commonwealth address to seek another Constitutional amendment to expand gambling was unrealistic and at odds with many of his other proposals. “The General Assembly has told the casino industry ‘No’ about fifteen times now,” said Martin Cothran, spokesman for The Family Foundation. “We need to move on to other, more important issues.”
“The proposal to expand gambling is effectively dead on arrival in this session. There is a politically volatile situation in the House that is also going to make it very difficult to deal with any controversial issues this session. With Republicans within striking distance of a majority in the House, it would be political suicide for many members to vote on a measure that is going to make a lot of their constituents angry.”
Cothran pointed to House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s non-committal remarks on expanded gambling after the speech as further evidence of the poor chances the proposal has. “Speaker Stumbo wasn’t exactly cheerleading for the proposal. If the Speaker isn’t excited about the proposal, it’s hard to imagine the measure has much of a chance at all.”
If the governor was really serious about issues like tax reform, Cothran said, he would leave the gambling issue alone this session. “If we get into another fight over gambling, it will suck up all the political oxygen needed to address tax reform or any other major initiative.”
The governor also spent much of his speech on health care issues, which Cothran portrayed as a strange irony: “We’re wondering about the health benefits of thousands of Kentuckians sitting at slot machines at casinos with a cigarette in one hand and drink in the other. The governor bemoaned the state’s low standing in smoking and cancer. Why would he want to add gambling addiction to the litany of social problems in this state?”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the Family Foundation of Kentucky.
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments March 25 in Hobby Lobby’s case challenging a government mandate requiring potential abortion-inducing drugs in employee health plans. The evangelical-owned arts-and-crafts chain filed suit last year.
“My family and I are encouraged that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide our case,” said Hobby Lobby CEO David Green. “This legal challenge has always remained about one thing and one thing only: the right of our family businesses to live out our sincere and deeply held religious convictions as guaranteed by the law and the Constitution. Business owners should not have to choose between violating their faith and violating the law.”
If the court rules against his company, the fines would be more than $1 million a day. Green has said he would shut it all down rather than comply.
The high court will also hear arguments in a case involving a Mennonite-owned business suing over the mandate. The Hahn family owns and operates Conestoga Wood Specialties in Lancaster County, Pa. The Court has consolidated this case with Hobby Lobby and will hear both on the same day.
The Obama administration required for-profit businesses to comply with the Health and Human Services mandate by August 2012. Nonprofits—many of which are faith-based—had a so-called safe harbor until this month.
More than 90 suits are in play. To date, courts have granted 52 injunctions, halting the mandate for 33 for-profit businesses and for 19 nonprofit organizations.
In July, a federal court granted Hobby Lobby a temporary reprieve from the mandate.
“This is a major step for the Greens and their family businesses in an important fight for Americans’ religious liberty,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead lawyer for Hobby Lobby. “We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will clarify once and for all that religious freedom in our country should be protected for family business owners like the Greens.”
Take Action for Religious Freedom
Urge Obama to stop the HHS mandate requiring businesses to provide contraceptives and possible abortion-inducing drugs to their employee health plans.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the complaint in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius.
Read “Take Action: U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Hobby Lobby HHS Mandate Case.”
Read the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty’s HHS Mandate Information Central.
A Colorado lawmaker is expected to introduce a bill that would recognize same-sex marriages for tax purposes. Because the state has not redefined the institution, this would apply to couples who have married out-of-state, but live in—or move to—Colorado.
Sen. Pat Steadman, an openly gay Democrat from Denver, told KUSA-TV the legislation would allow same-sex couples to file jointly.
“Because of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last June, the IRS now recognizes same-sex marriage,” he told the news outlet. “But because of a constitutional prohibition, Colorado does not.”
The legislation would not apply to civil unions, which were approved last year. However, it means these couples could get married in another state—where marriage has been redefined—and then file jointly in Colorado.
“This is just another political attempt to undermine the will of Colorado citizens as expressed in the passage of its marriage amendment in 2006,” said Focus on the Family Judicial Analyst Bruce Hausknecht. “Just a year ago, in passing a civil unions bill, these same politicians assured Coloradans, and even included a statement in the law itself, that the civil union law ‘does not alter the public policy of this state, which recognizes only the union of one man and one woman as a marriage.’ Yet here we are, one year later, and these same politicians are already looking for opportunities to break their word given to trusting Colorado citizens. Voters do not appreciate deviousness like that.”
CitizenLink is proud to work with the Wisconsin Family 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 Julaine Appling
If marriage is only about love and commitment, who cares how it is defined? If this ages-old institution can be simply defined by the host of government benefits to people who want to live together, then what difference does gender or number make?
The correct answer to these questions involves a direct challenge to the presupposition that marriage is only about love and commitment and giving government benefits to the people in a marriage.
We’ve now had several decades of strategic, well-funded, media-backed, public-education-focused assaults on marriage, led initially by those who thought it would be better if we did away with fault-based, contestable divorce and went with no-fault, no-contest, just-walk-away divorce. Then, the homosexuals began their all-out effort to foist yet another social experiment on marriage by demanding “marriage equality” for people of the same sex.
While the homosexuals were making sure their message, thanks to the media and institutions of higher learning being ultra-liberal, was getting into every public school classroom and to the highest levels of government, the polygamists and polyamorists began their own drumbeat saying that it was wrong to discriminate against them because they were loving and committed, too—just to more than one person.
Added to this relentless, well-orchestrated campaign to reshape marriage into a new image, is that far too often the one institution that can legitimately challenge these false teachings has remained silent and on the sideline, preferring to say, “Oh, we don’t get involved with politics. We just preach Jesus and evangelize.” Yes, I am talking about the Church. Individual lay Christians certainly have a responsibility in this matter, but ministry leaders of churches are the ones who have the best opportunity to rebut the falsehoods and give the truth not only to their own congregation but also to the wider community. I repeat that this is not a political issue but a biblical issue that has been politicized.
The result of the campaign against marriage and the deafening silence from the Christian Church in response is that from the highest echelons to the lowest in America and especially among the 18-35-year-olds, far too many people think marriage really is just a private relationship between or among loving and committed people who of course should receive government-granted benefits so their lives would be easier.
Making all of this worse is, first, the sad reality that the silence of the church has resulted in many professing Christians buying into the modern blasphemy about marriage; and second, among even those who ardently hold to the biblical truth of marriage, too few know how to address the questions with which we opened this commentary.
On the first issue, all I can tell you is Wisconsin Family Council works hard to educate, equip and energize churches about this marriage issue. However, at the end of the day it really is up to individual Christians to search out the Scriptures, God’s Holy Word, to determine what marriage is from God’s perspective. I don’t think God made it hard for us as 21st century believers to understand this matter, if we come to His Word open and honest and not with preconceived notions.
Second, if you are already convinced of the Truth of God’s Word, that marriage is a lifelong, monogamous relationship between one man and one woman and that it is also very much about children, but you don’t know how to answer the opening questions, please get educated so you can.
In 2013, traditional marriage took a number of hits—most of them through the legal system. In one week last month, federal judges in Utah ruled that Utah’s anti-polygamy laws and its marriage protection amendment are unconstitutional. Much of the argument made by those favoring these decisions rested on the belief that marriage is only about loving and committed people who deserve legal recognition of their relationship so they can get government benefits. That’s how pervasive this problem is.
I hope 2014 is the year Christians take the challenge of becoming educated, energized and articulate so that we can truly defend and promote, to individuals and to crowds, God’s plan for marriage and family. I guarantee you our communities, state and nation will be better off if we do.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the Wisconsin Family Council.
In his Stoplight® commentary, Stuart Shepard highlights what mainstream media outlets sometimes leave out of stories.
Thanks for sharing Stoplight® with your friends.
The Utah governor’s office released a statement today directing state agencies not to recognize same-sex marriages. This follows a U.S. Supreme Court order, issued Monday, halting a lower court decision redefining the institution.
Federal Judge Richard Shelby ruled against Utah’s voter-approved marriage amendment on Dec. 20, claiming it violates the Constitution. About 900 same-sex couples obtained marriage licenses following his ruling, according to The Associated Press.
Derek B. Miller, chief of staff to Gov. Gary Herbert, said state recognition of same-sex marriages is on hold. It’s unclear whether the licenses already issued will eventually be recognized.
After the Supreme Court action, “the original laws governing marriage in Utah return to effect pending final resolution by the courts,” Miller wrote to state officials. “It is important to understand that those laws include not only a prohibition of performing same-sex marriages, but also recognizing same-sex marriages”.
Experts have noted Shelby’s defiance of standard judicial practice in upending existing law, rather than waiting for the appeals process to play out.
Marriage supporters made an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court asking it to stop Shelby’s decision from taking effect. The case now heads to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read Miller’s memo to state officials.
Read “U.S. Supreme Court Halts Same-Sex Marriage in Utah — for Now.”
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.”
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