Archive | Politics

Why can’t a father marry his adult son? A mother her adult daughter?

Nearly every experienced observer expects the Supreme Court to make gay marriage a constitutional right this June. Justice Kennedy will be the key figure in this decision, as he has been in all the precedents leading up to this point. And Kennedy has made it clear that the only possible reason for opposing legal gay marriage is irrational animus against gay people. Neither he nor the other justices have adequately considered that there might be a rational basis for defining marriage in connection with procreation.

In a very helpful article at First Things today, Hadley Arkes observes that Kennedy has not considered other arguments because the Court’s conservative justices have not made them. Instead, the conservative justices have been making a narrow case based on federalism that the matter should be left to the states. But that has proven to be a dead-end and will not stop the seemingly inevitable decision to come this summer. Because of this, Arkes says that the conservative justices need to try a new tack. They need to make Kennedy explain whether there will be any limit to the principle that the Court is about to establish. If the Court rules that the law cannot privilege procreative unions over non-procreative ones, where does that end? Continue Reading →

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Marco Rubio’s faith: A circuitous route to Catholicism

Kudos to Sarah Pulliam Bailey for pulling together a short summary of the faith of Marco Rubio—who by the way announced that he is running for president today. In short, the story goes like this. He went from Mormon to Catholic to Evangelicalish and back to Catholic. In Bailey’s report, he says…

“I immersed myself in LDS theology,” Rubio wrote. “I studied church literature and other sources of information to learn all I could about the church’s teachings.”

By the time he was in sixth grade, his family had left the Mormon Church for Catholicism, and he had his First Communion on Christmas Day 1984.

In 2007, Rubio told me that he spent a few years in an evangelical church…

“I felt called back to Catholicism around 2004, but have maintained the relationship with Christ Fellowship and attend their services often or listen to the podcasts.”

Rubio now firmly identifies with the Catholic church, though he noted how he finds commonality between different Christian denominations.

I expect we’ll be learning a lot about Rubio in coming days, and no doubt his faith will be no small part of that. Great job by Bailey in being the first out of the gate with this. Read the rest here.

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Why do reports conceal radicalism of the pro-choice side?

I noticed two separate articles this week about abortion that have a basic error of fact regarding abortion law in the United States. This wouldn’t be surprising if didn’t appear on the websites of our nation’s two leading newspapers—The New York Times and The Washington Post. What’s amazing is that the two reports make the identical error.

NY Times – April 7, 2015: I came across this one earlier this week in The New York Times report on the new Kansas law restricting dismemberment abortions. Erick Eckholm and Frances Robles erroneously report that abortion rights in this country end at 24-weeks of pregnancy. Here’s a screenshot: Continue Reading →

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President Obama denounces reparative therapy

Last night, President Obama released a statement calling for an end to what is sometimes called “conversion” or “reparative” therapy for LGBT youth. Written by Valerie Jarrett on behalf of the President, the statement is a response to a petition that appeared on the WhiteHouse.gov site after the suicide of the transgender teen Josh “Leelah” Alcorn late last year. Among other things, it says that “this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.” The statement comes out in support of state legislation to outlaw the practice, and it invites the U. S. Congress to send similar legislation to the President for him to sign.

The statement explains why President Obama thinks so-called “conversion” therapy should be outlawed: Continue Reading →

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Reflecting on the Indiana RFRA and a final question for the cultured despisers of religion

Our news cycle moves so fast that to bring up the Indiana RFRA law might already seem like yesterday’s news. Some readers already feel like saying, “C’mon, man. That is so last week.” Nevertheless, before the country moves on to its next diversion, I think it would be good for us to think about the meaning of last week’s dust-up over religious liberty.

For starters, last week was more than a “dust-up” to those of us who belong to the religious minority known as evangelicalism. It wasn’t the apocalypse. Nor was it even worthy to be mentioned in the same breath as what happened to our brothers and sisters in Kenya. Still, it was a signal moment in our national life. It was a moment that revealed how profoundly this country has changed in its attitudes about homosexuality, how out-of-step evangelicals are with the new sexual orthodoxy, and how willing many Americans are to punish evangelicals for their transgressive beliefs.

We saw two Republican governors back away from state RFRA laws that would have been completely uncontroversial just ten years ago. We saw a national media snarkily dismiss our first freedom in the Bill of Rights with scare quotes or as “so-called” religious liberty. We saw politician after politician either unwilling or unable to make a coherent case for religious liberty. And we saw countless talking-heads denigrate religious liberty as a euphemism for bigotry and discrimination. Frank Bruni even said that Christians should be “made to take homosexuality off of its sin list.” It is no surprise that Nicholas Kristof says that “evangelicals constitute one of the few groups that it’s safe to mock openly.”

In short, religious liberty took an epic beating last week. And the focus of the attack seems to be on evangelicals. Evangelicals are beginning to feel open disdain from our cultured despisers, who find our ancient faith to be freakish and out of step with post-sexual-revolution America. There is no “silent majority” for Christians to appeal to for succor. Evangelicals are a bona fide minority when it comes to our commitment to Jesus’ teaching about sexuality. It’s not merely that people don’t like our views. It’s also that people don’t like us because of our views. In fact, a recent poll has found that there are more people who view gay people favorably than there are that view evangelicals favorably.

I would suggest, however, that the heart of this controversy is not really about religious freedom. The heart of it is really about something much deeper. It is the same spiritual battle that has been unfolding since Genesis 3. Light has come into the world, and people love darkness rather than the light because their deeds are evil (John 3:19). God has revealed his purpose for our sexual lives—that all of our sexual experiences are to be enjoyed within the covenant of marriage. People by and large have rejected God’s purpose and are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18). They believe that anyone who continues to cling to God’s purposes is a threat to sexual liberty—which is perhaps the defining freedom of post-Christian America. In fact, they hold anyone who remains committed to the biblical vision—and to its consequences for their public lives—to be a threat to the common good.

To put a fine point on it: Evangelicals believe that homosexuality is a sin while the rest of the culture does not. The heart of this conflict is a moral conflagration between those who insist that “gay is good” and those who contend that it is not. And the latter is what our culture cannot abide. The idea that “gay is not good” is viewed as morally retrograde and bigoted, irredeemable and intolerable, uncivilized and incompatible with democracy. Any defense of such “bigotry”—even if that defense is a claim of religious liberty—must be vigorously and ruthlessly dismantled. “Gay is not good” must be destroyed. The Indiana RFRA controversy is just one phase of a larger effort to make Christians “take homosexuality off of its sin list,” as Frank Bruni put it. That is our controversy boiled down.

If that is what this really is all about, you can see why evangelicals are wondering about what might be coming next. We are wondering how far the cultured despisers are willing to go to punish us for living out what the Bible teaches about sexual morality. Today, they are willing to see Christians fined and run out of business for refusing to participate in gay weddings. What will be next? Ever-increasing fines? What if someone fails to pay the fine imposed on them by law or by a court? Jail time? How far are they willing to take this?

Discerning how far they are willing to take this to punish Christians is something that everyone needs to think very carefully about. Why? Because there are always going to be believers who are willing to go to the mat for God’s word. Or to put it in biblical terms, there are always going to be Christians who are willing to take up their cross and follow Jesus (Matt. 16:24). How much pain are the sexual revolutionaries willing to inflict on Christians to make us submit?

To be sure, as the heat turns up there will be those who fall away. The prosperity charlatans, for example, likely won’t follow Jesus when they discover that doing so means they can’t have their best life now. But after the apostates have been exposed, a remnant will remain who will not bow the knee to Baal and who will not betray Christ’s word no matter the cost. We will go on gathering together, preaching the gospel, loving our neighbors, and striving for the common good. And no amount of fines, bullying, social marginalization, jail time, or poverty will change that.

So the cultured despisers need to look long and hard in the mirror and ask yourselves this question: How far am I willing to go with this? Because you are going to have to go all the way. And when you’ve done your worst, the Christians are still going to be here holding fast to the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). America is a flash in the historical pan. Christianity is not. We will outlast you. Mark it down. And in the final analysis, the “wrong side of history” will be to Jesus’ left, and you don’t want to find yourself there (Matt. 25:33).

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Gov. Mike Pence’s Dilemma. . . and ours

I watched Gov. Mike Pence’s press conference this morning with great interest. He is trying to face down an enormous backlash against Indiana’s recent Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which has been mischaracterized nationally as a license to discriminate against gay people. Nevertheless, he called a press conference and announced his intention to consider a legislative “fix” or “clarification” of the RFRA law. He did not explain what that legislative “fix” might consist of, but he said that something is coming.

I like Gov. Pence, and I think that he has been trying to fight the good fight. But he has gotten himself into a dilemma that has no good political outcome for him. His press conference has had the result of refocusing the national debate. Going forward, this conversation will be less about the RFRA and more about whether sexual orientation should be a protected class in Indiana state law. Continue Reading →

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It’s the justices, stupid

Rod Dreher might be accused of being a “Debbie Downer” for his dire predictions about religious liberty, but I think his analysis is spot-on. In an essay posted this morning, he argues that the take-away from the Indiana RFRA is not the law itself, but the media “freak out” that happened in response. It reveals just how deep our nation’s indifference is to religious liberty and just how willing some of our elites are to stamp it out. And it won’t stop with RFRA’s. He says that churches that support traditional marriage will soon face attacks on their tax-exempt status. If you think this isn’t coming, you aren’t paying attention. Continue Reading →

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Discrimination against gay people in Indiana?

I applaud Indiana Governor Mike Pence for taking a courageous stand in defense of our first freedom—religious liberty. Gov. Pence has been on the hot-seat ever since he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into Indiana law last week. Not only did he sign the bill into law, but he also had the moxie to go on national television to defend the law in the face of scurrilously unfair criticism (see video above). Continue Reading →

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Dear Gay Community: Your Kids Are Hurting

Heather Barwick was raised by her mother and her lesbian partner, and Barwick loves them both. Nevertheless, she says that her childhood left her “hurting.” In a poignant piece for The Federalist, she writes:

Growing up, and even into my 20s, I supported and advocated for gay marriage. It’s only with some time and distance from my childhood that I’m able to reflect on my experiences and recognize the long-term consequences that same-sex parenting had on me. And it’s only now, as I watch my children loving and being loved by their father each day, that I can see the beauty and wisdom in traditional marriage and parenting.

Same-sex marriage and parenting withholds either a mother or father from a child while telling him or her that it doesn’t matter. That it’s all the same. But it’s not. A lot of us, a lot of your kids, are hurting. My father’s absence created a huge hole in me, and I ached every day for a dad. I loved my mom’s partner, but another mom could never have replaced the father I lost.

I predict that we will be hearing more stories like these going forward. The sexual revolutionaries have been telling us that there is no need to worry about kids growing up apart from their mother or father. “Nothing to see here. Move along.” And I am sure that they really believe the line they have been selling.

But thinking doesn’t make it so. And no matter how much the revolutionaries protest to the contrary, children do still need a mom and a dad. As surely as water will wet us and as fire will surely burn, children need what same-sex parenting by definition deprives them of. And it is a fool’s errand to think that our culture can somehow sow to the wind without reaping the whirlwind. Articles like this one are but the initial breezes of a looming storm.

[World Magazine featured Barwick in a recent story about the impact of same-sex parenting. Read it here: “The Kids Are Not Alright.”]

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New York Times Op-Ed agreeing with Judge Roy Moore?

I was reading an Op-Ed in The New York Times this morning about Alabama’s legal battle over gay marriage and was stunned to read this paragraph (underline mine):

Since the United States Supreme Court will rule on gay marriage in June, it’s easy to dismiss the Alabama court’s ruling as quixotic. But it raises a real issue: not what state courts can do, but rather what they should do. Because state and federal courts operate on entirely separate tracks, the state court’s position that it need not follow lower federal court rulings is technically correct. Yet if our judicial system is to function smoothly, both court systems must, from time to time, refrain from exercising their legal discretion to ignore the other’s handiwork.

Don’t ask me to weigh-in on the legal analysis. I’m not prepared to do that in a way that could either gainsay or confirm the argument presented here. Still, I have been under the impression that a federal court’s ruling always trumps that of a state court. The law professor who wrote this piece says that is incorrect, even though he believes state courts should ordinarily defer to federal court rulings. Read the rest here.

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