Alabama: Silencing Religious Expression Through Courts and LegislaturesPosted by Guest Author
CitizenLink is proud to work with the Alabama Policy 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 Richard Garrett
Feb. 20, 2014
Within the last couple of weeks, federal judges in three conservative states have ruled that those states’ bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional. These bans were instituted in legislation passed by the Legislature and state constitutional amendments approved overwhelmingly by the voters. Unfortunately, the endgame of homosexual activists is not simply to upend duly enacted laws defining marriage. The ultimate goal of their agenda is to use the force of law to silence sincerely held religious beliefs in opposition to same-sex marriage.
Activists in states that allow gay marriage have been targeting bakeries and photography studios owned by citizens who oppose gay marriage based on deeply-held religious beliefs. (Beliefs, it might be pointed out, that have been held by every religion and the vast majority of people for thousands of years.) Despite being in cities that have dozens, if not hundreds, of other bakers and photographers available, these activists demand that the religious bakers and photographers provide services for their gay weddings. These conflicts are not accidents; they are targets.
Keep in mind that these bakers and photographers are artists. They do not just sell a product off the shelf; they apply their training and talent to produce a unique experience. But the activists are demanding that these people use talent for something they believe is in violation of their religious beliefs. When they refuse, they are dragged before a court or a “Human Rights Council” and ordered to comply. Criminal sanctions and loss of their business license can also be imposed. Most, if not all, of these business owners have given up their businesses instead.
Targeting, intimidation and coercion are the tactics of regimes our nation has fought time and again over its history.
Thus, in a country primarily founded to protect freedom of speech and religion, people are being denied those freedoms and also the freedom to choose a vocation where they can support their families and at the same time honor God. Freedom of religion is our first freedom. Certainly it is a breach of that constitutional right to require a business person to violate deeply held beliefs in order to do business in the public square. In addition, free speech rights and rights under some state’s Religious Freedom Restoration acts are implicated.
Ask yourself why these activists target religious business people instead of going to any of the other dozens or hundreds available. The answer is obvious. They seek to create public examples demonstrating what happens to those who reject the homosexual lifestyle. Civil disagreement and divergent perspectives on controversial issues are hallmarks of a free society. Targeting, intimidation and coercion are the tactics of regimes our nation has fought time and again over its history. The battle to protect basic freedoms never ends and all freedom-loving people must engage or those freedoms will soon be lost.
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‘Talking 2 Teens’ About SexPosted by Chad Hills
A new website, “Talking 2 Teens,” discusses how important parents’ influence is on their children’s behavior, particularly regarding sex. The Utah County Health Department developed and launched this commendable site. I would highly recommend that parents utilize this site when approaching the issue of sexuality with their kids.
After reviewing all the tabs and hyperlinks on this site, overall, I was impressed with its useful content. I did notice, however, the Sexually Transmitted Disease section on the site was slightly vague, but used alongside the STD Chart, the information was adequate.
The site’s information on Human Papillomavirus (HPV) lacked the oral cancer link with HPV (from oral sex), which is becoming increasingly prevalent. The actual in-class curriculum likely goes into more detail on STDs, and the site will necessarily be updated as new research arrives.
Click on the “Resources” tab (across the top of the web page), and you can access the Utah Secondary Health Education Core Curriculum. The curriculum teaches high-school teens a series of important issues regarding sex, and it intentionally involves parents as the primary influence in their children’s decision-making skills.
The “Resources” tab also includes other useful ‘helps’ for parents to teach their children about sex, such as:
- Ten Tips for Talking
- Parents, Speak Up!
- Teen Chat Booklet
- Good answers for tough questions
- STD chart
Applause to the Utah County Health Department for helping parents – and including parents – in the education of children about sexuality. Talking 2 Teens is a good website with useful materials presented in an easy-to-use format for parents and teachers, alike (teachers and schools can contact the Utah County Health Department for more details about the secondary school curriculum). Utah County created a quality resource, which has much of what is needed for both parents and schools to educate children about sexual risk avoidance or abstinence.
It’s important to understand that as a public resource for schools in Utah County, this site cannot necessarily incorporate God’s design for sexuality or discuss God’s context for sexual activity within marriage, like Focus on the Family; but, as Christians, these are important components to include. See more in the Dig Deeper section below.
Dig Deeper …
- Sexual Health homepage [CitizenLink.com/Focus on the Family]
- Sex Ed: How Do I Find Out What’s Happening in the Classroom? [ThrivingFamily.com]
- Abstinence Works website – Excellent resource for articles, research, recommended materials …
- National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA) – Very helpful policy/advocacy group for schools and parents wanting sexual risk avoidance/abstinence taught in their state and local schools
- Abstinence Works 2013 (abstinence education effectiveness)
California Dreamin’Posted by Jeff Johnston
The California Legislature has left truth and reality. It’s as if Fantasyland moved from Disneyland up to Sacramento, as legislators attempt to remake the world according to their own imagination. Although there are many examples I could point to, let me just give you three.
Let’s pretend gender doesn’t matter.
Here’s what AB 1266 says:
A pupil shall be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.
So a boy, who wants to be a girl or who believes he is a girl, will be able to compete on a girl’s athletic team and use the girl’s bathrooms and locker rooms. It doesn’t matter what the girls on the team think about changing in the locker room with a biological male.
The reality is that humans are born male or female. At birth we don’t “assign” sex to a child arbitrarily, as the analysis of this bill implies. We recognize the child’s sex – it is a physical reality. But in the world of this bill, that reality doesn’t matter. Like Cinderella in a fantasy world, a person may choose or change his sex, saying, “I can be whatever I want to be.”
The bill has passed the Assembly and is moving toward passage in the Senate.
Let’s pretend there is no First Amendment.
SB 323 would punish non-profit groups – including “non-profit educational institutions” by taking away tax-exemptions if they “discriminate” on the basis of “gender identity” or “sexual orientation.” That means penalizing groups that uphold God’s design for sexuality, marriage and family.
The measure specifically lists groups like Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, and it’s clear that the measure was designed to punish the Scouts and other groups that have Christian views about marriage and sexuality. The bill would also impact faith-based schools.
Forget the First Amendment, with its guarantees of free speech, religion and assembly. This bill has passed the Senate and is making its way through the Assembly.
Let’s pretend same-sex couples can get pregnant.
AB 460 is a bill in the California legislature that requires insurance companies, if they offer coverage for infertility, to provide it “without discrimination on the basis of age, ancestry, color, disability, domestic partner status, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.”
While the inclusion of “age” could also be a problem, it’s with the inclusion of “sexual orientation” that this piece of legislation enters the realm of unreality. The bill defines infertility two ways: it is the presence of a recognized condition or it is the inability to conceive after one year of regular sexual relations without contraception. So if a same-sex couple doesn’t get pregnant after a year of sexual relations, they would be eligible for insurance-paid fertility treatment.
The analysis provided by the assembly notes that insurance companies typically treat a couple as a “unit” when dealing with infertility. Perhaps that’s because the laws of nature and nature’s God decided that for the purposes of procreation, a man and a woman are required. As Robert P. George writes, our bodies are complete when it comes to all other biological functions, such as breathing and digestion, “But individual adults are naturally incomplete with respect to one biological function: sexual reproduction.”
Same-sex sexual activity is of a different kind than male-female sex, but the California Legislature chooses to ignore reality. The bill has already passed the Assembly and is moving forward in the Senate.
For more information on these bills, and other California legislative fantasies, check out California Family Alliance