Me on the 700 Club — Talking About Religious Liberty in the Military

A face made for radio:

ABCs, Crayons, and Homosexuality? How Jerry Brown’s Disregard for Religious Liberty Might Affect Your Kindergarteners

On January 1st, California public schools will be required to teach children about the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in their social sciences curriculum.  Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill on Thursday, in a move that guarantees that the religious liberty of California residents who send their kids to public schools will be violated.  But, the effects will be felt throughout the entire country’s public school systems.

I’m the product of public schools, where I learned about dangling participles, Davy Crockett, and the safest way to carry a shot gun through a forest on hunting expeditions.  (No exaggeration – in 7th grade, one semester of science was exclusively hunter’s safety.)  Our modest, rural schools weren’t flashy, but we were educated well enough that my husband – who attended Kentucky public schools — thrived at Harvard Law School and I held my own at New York University.

When we had our own kids, we sent our daughter to public school and congratulated ourselves for not spending as much money for kindergarten as the annual Gross National Product of Kazakhstan. I told one parent “I’ll teach your toddler to identify yellow in exchange for your $14,000 tuition.”  Even more than avoiding private school’s price, I believed the racial, financial, and religious diversity of public school was good for her general education.

On our first day, I nervously walked her into the concrete playground and worried she wouldn’t eat her lunch quickly enough or grasp the complicated art of shoe-tying.  But after surviving the first tearful week, her year was marked with the typical joys of school — visiting the fire station and playing the first blonde mother of Martin Luther King Jr. in the school play.  Then, about half-way through the year, the Philadelphia Public School system began using a curriculum that advocates moral equivalence between heterosexual and homosexual parents.  This gave me pause.  While I wanted her to be around people of all faiths, I didn’t want the schools to undermine our own.  A religious Jew with a daughter at the school successfully convinced our school not to teach this curriculum, but the public school “culture war” was just beginning.

When we sent her to a magnet school, they only allowed a politically correct version of the Pledge of Allegiance from the intercom every day, deleting “under God” so no one – except Americans who believe in the democratically-decided Pledge – would be offended.  Teachers wore “John Kerry for President” buttons during class and the art projects on the walls declared “Americans hate George Bush because he is a liar.”  Additionally, the school system proudly proclaimed October as “Gay and Lesbian History Month” on the school calendars it sent home to the families of its students.

Gov. Brown’s bill is only the most recent – and dramatic – example of public schools going awry. But just because you live in America’s heartland, don’t think you are protected from this kind of teaching in your schools.  First of all, the nation’s worst cultural ideas usually are born in the larger urban areas, and then they slowly encroach upon America’s heartland.  Secondly, many book publishers – because of the large size of California’s population — customize their textbooks to meet California’s standards.  Especially in this economy, textbook manufacturers will not want to make books for each state.  More than likely, this is headed toward your children.

What can we learn from Gov. Brown and the Bizarro World of the public school system? That they are not encumbered by a pesky little thing called the United States Constitution. For Christians, the establishment clause has been wrongly used to establish a “wall of separation between church and state.”  Teachers, for example, cannot (and should not) explicitly promote Christianity in public schools.   But for liberals, the establishment clause is meaningless.  Their ideas are considered “secular,” even though the scope of modern liberalism encompasses almost every area of life – from sexuality to family to poverty and race relations.  Therefore, they’re able to launch a complete assault on almost everything a Christian student believes, and there’s nothing a parent or the courts can do to stop them.

The bottom line is this: both the Left and the Right hold political world views with the same amount of religious intensity, yet only one side is allowed to use a branch of the government to promote their viewpoint.

By the time California’s Governor signed this into law this week, we had already packed our backpacks and headed to a private Christian school in Tennessee.  I like to say that this is the second religious school she’s attended.  The first – run by the Philadelphia Public School System – taught her reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic, and the ideology of the Left.  The second – run by Zion Presbyterian Church – teaches her reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic, and the worldview of Christianity.

This means we’re faced with large monthly tuition bills to cover her private education, but the price of public education was just more than we could afford.

As We Celebrate Our Liberty, An Iranian Pastor Faces Death

On this holiday weekend an Iranian pastor’s life hangs in the balance. On June 28, the Iranian Supreme Court uphelddeath sentence against Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. His crimes? Apostasy and evangelism. Pastor Nadarkhani had publicly opposed an Iranian practice requiring that all children, regardless of faith, receive Islamic instruction. In spite of alleged religious-freedom guarantees under the Iranian constitution, he now faces death — a sentence that could literally be carried out at any time.

Time is of the essence, and at the ACLJ we’re doing all we can. Yesterday we sent letters to the State Department and to the Iranian Mission of the United Nations. These letters outline Iran’s obligations not only under its own constitution but also under international agreements it has voluntarily agreed to uphold. While the nature and character of the Iranian regime is well-known, as the saying goes, where there is life; there is hope.

And as of today, Pastor Nadarkhani is alive.


Gay Marriage and the Triumph of Self Indulgence

n a way, it was far more discouraging to see the New York legislature pass a gay-marriage bill than it was to see the now-familiar rogue judicial declarations, like those in Massachusetts, California, and Iowa. While constitutionally preferable to judicial imposition, New York’s statute is far more culturally distressing, a symbol not of a judicial overreach but of a more fundamental cultural change. The democratic process (yes, I know there was horse-trading and money involved) worked, and the elected legislature of New York performed its constitutional function. And in so doing, they struck yet another blow for self-indulgence and for adult-focused self-actualization.

Gay marriage is the child of no-fault divorce, which was itself born of the sexual revolution. In a time when the hard-earned experience of two full generations of sexual experimentation have taught us unequivocally that the two-parent, mother-father household is our nation’s best bulwark against abuse, poverty, addiction, and criminality, we should be moving away from the notion that our culture and our lives are best-served by legally protecting sexual experimentation and tinkering with the institution of marriage. Instead, we have scrutinized the cultural toll and said, “More, please.” After all, the heart wants what it wants, and we shouldn’t be unfair in doling out the sexual goodies.

Gay marriage proponents speak the language of liberty, but so often one form of liberty (sexual liberty) is granted while other forms (free speech, religious freedom) are taken away. In the liberal definition of “diversity” there is room for many sexual practices but only one way of thinking. Thus, we now live in a world where the state attempts to force Catholic charities to place children in same-sex families, college students are punished for speaking against same-sex parenting, graduate students are thrown out of college for refusing to morally affirm homosexual sextax exemptions are denied when churches don’t make their property available for gay weddings, and social work licenses threatened merely because a school counselor supported a state marriage amendment. In each of these cases, enumerated constitutional liberties were threatened for the sake of protecting a state-approved idea — the idea that there should be no moral distinctions drawn between homosexual and heterosexual relationships.

When it comes to marriage, we know the institution that predates the state itself — the two-parent, mother-father household — is an enduring bulwark and building block of civilization of itself. We also know that experimentation with and deviation from that form has caused an enormous amount of national suffering. And yet millions of Americans celebrated New York’s latest marriage experiment. I fear that we’ll continue to reap the cultural whirlwind of our own selfishness.

(Originally posted in The Corner).


If You’re an Evangelical and Don’t Like Mormons . . .

Then it turns out you’ve got a lot in common with the secular Left.  At Commentary, Jonathan Tobin breaks down a recent Gallup Poll showing that 22 percent of Americans won’t vote for a Mormon:

Still, in an era when religious pluralism is an unquestioned element of American culture, it is somewhat baffling that Mormons remain the object of hate. Some may put it down to the rigid beliefs of conservative evangelicals who think Mormons are not Christians, but considering the rude treatment the Mormons have gotten on both Broadway and HBO, it must be considered that some sophisticated liberals may be among the prejudiced 22 percent Gallup has discovered. Indeed, the survey says 27 percent of Democrats said they would not vote for a Mormon as opposed to only 18 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of Independents. All of which goes to show when it comes to religious bias, so-called liberals may turn out to be less tolerant than conservatives.

This is unquestionably true.  Secular leftists are often quite religious in their zeal to attack traditional values, and I’d say that they have Mormons in their crosshairs in large part because they’re quite effective in defending our culture.  After all, there’s only 6 million Mormons in America, yet the media Left — from HBO to PBS to Broadway — has spent much of the last two election cycles flailing away at the LDS church.

The secular Left hates Mormons because they see the LDS church as a part of the same Judeo-Christian tradition we belong to; the same Judeo-Christian tradition they so despise.  And you know what?  The Left is right, evangelicals who shun Mormons are wrong, and we’re all in this together.