The Romeike Family
The German homeschooling family that fled to America in order to homeschool their children has
been denied asylum by the Obama administration
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on May 21, 2013)
The verdict on a massively significant case
in the Sixth Court of Appeals has been returned. In a shocking development, the court has upheld the Obama Administration’s bid to deny asylum to the Romeike family, who fled to the US in 2008 after persecution in their native Germany for homeschooling their five children. The decision was announced
Tuesday by the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). The HSLDA has been representing the Romeike family throughout a seven-year struggle to educate their children in the way they think best.
Uwe Romeike and his wife Hannelore are music teachers and evangelical Christians who withdrew their children from German public schools in 2006, after becoming concerned that the educational material employed by the school was undermining the tenets of their Christian faith, and that the school was not providing their children with an ideal learning environment. “As we were confronted with opposition to our choice we began to feel more and more that our faith required us to homeschool our children,”
Uwe explained Wednesday.
Unfortunately for the Romeikes, homeschooling has been illegal in Germany since it was outlawed by Adolf Hitler in 1938. According to the German Supreme Court, the purpose of the homeschooling ban is to, “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies.”
The family accrued the equivalent of around $10,000 in fines, and faced police visits to their home and the forcible removal of their children from the home. On one occasion, their children were dragged away and taken to school in police vans. Uwe explained in an interview with The Blaze
that current German law does not require police to obtain a court order before removing children from parental custody.
In 2008 the Romeikes fled Germany to seek asylum in the land of the free and the home of the brave. In 2010, the HSLDA helped them to become the first family ever granted asylum in the US for the protection of their homeschooling rights. Federal immigration judge Lawrence Burnam, who initially granted the Romeikes political asylum, ruled that they had a reasonable fear of persecution for their beliefs if they returned to their homeland. He called the German policy “utterly repellent to everything we believe as Americans.”
However, it seems the Obama administration doesn’t concur. In 2012, the Board of Immigration Appeals tossed Judge Burnam’s ruling, forcing the family to head back to court, where Attorney General Eric Holder sought to revoke their asylum and force them to return to Germany.
HSLDA’s Mike Farris explained, “The U.S. government contended that the Romeikes’ case failed to show that there was any discrimination based on religion because, among other reasons, the Romeikes did not prove that all homeschoolers were religious, and that not all Christians believed they had to homeschool.”
In Farris’ opinion, this shows that, “the US government does not understand that religious freedom is an individual right. Just because all adherents of a particular religion do not abide by a certain standard does not mean that individuals who feel compelled to abide by this standard do not have the right to do so. Religious decisions must be made by individuals, not by groups
A crowd of the American people agree with Farris and have rallied around the Romeike family by signing a formal petition
on the White House website. Part of the petitions reads, “Every state in the United States of America recognizes the right to homeschool, and the U.S. has the world’s largest and most vibrant homeschool community. Regrettably, this family faces deportation in spite of the persecution they will suffer in Germany. The Romeikes hope for the same freedom our forefathers sought. Please grant the privilege of liberty to the Romeike family.”
The number of signers has exceeded the threshold necessary to earn a response from the White House, and the response is still being eagerly awaited. However, the verdict from the court has created a major setback for the Romeikes and makes their status in the US uncertain. The family may be faced with deportation.
Michael Donnelly, an attorney for the Romeikes, told ABC News the family remains hopeful.
"They feel very comfortable that, in the end, things are going to work out for them
," he said. "There is a lot of support for this family in Congress, it is possible that Congress might take some action."
Farris expressed his indignation at the verdict, stating, "You can't look at the lenient attitude to 11 million people who came here for economic opportunity, why we would not treat people who come here for economic freedom on par with people who came here for religious freedom I don't understand.”
Farris said the family is planning to appeal the decision first to the entire Sixth Circuit Court and then to the Supreme Court, if necessary.
–Deportation of German homeschool family affects US homeschool freedom
–Interview with the Romeike Family
A mentally handicapped woman who narrowly escaped a forced abortion in Nevada has delivered a healthy baby
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on May 13, 2012)
In November of last year, the case of mentally-handicapped Elisa Bauer attracted nationwide attention when a Reno, Nevada judge asserted that he had the right to force the Catholic woman to undergo an abortion and sterilization against her will.
Elisa Bauer of Washoe County is a 32-year-old woman who suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome. Adopted by William and Amy Bauer in 1992, Elisa is an epileptic who reportedly has the mental and social capacities of a six-year-old. Her parents, who retained their guardianship over her and had legal authority to make final decisions concerning her health and welfare, sympathized with Elisa’s insistence on carrying the baby to term, and had six qualified couples lined up, who were eager to adopt the baby, even if he or she turned out to be a special needs child. The parents were also providing Bauer with appropriate pre-natal care for a high-risk pregnancy.
However, when Washoe County Social Services expressed their concern that Bauer’s pregnancy would be detrimental to her health and that of her then-unborn baby, the case went to court, where Judge Egan Walker reportedly asserted, “I have inherent authority to [override the wishes of Elisa’s parents] because the court appointed the guardians and they are agents of the court.” The court-summoned doctor recommended abortion and sterilization in no uncertain terms, stating, “End this pregnancy and tie her tubes.”
Fortunately for the Bauer family, the story prompted outrage across the nation, as readers scrambled to file petitions and place phone calls and express their views in strong terms. Kirsten Anderson of LifeSiteNews, who originally broke the story, writes,
“The stories we posted about the case spread like wildfire around Facebook and Twitter. Readers were understandably horrified that something like this could happen in America. They wanted to know what they could do to stop it. Rebekah O’Brien, our social media coordinator, suggested they call the judge’s office and make their voices heard. She provided his contact information. Our readers filled his voicemail box with messages until the system couldn’t store any more. After that, they called the governor. That was about the time the court started changing its tone.”
Elisa’s adoptive father, William Bauer, wrote on the facebook support page, Save Elisa’s Baby,
“Even though the judge proclaimed that our religious views were of no effect in his courtroom; even though the judge clipped our statements and said he wanted only expert opinions; even though he brought in several experts, including lawyers, who wanted death for the baby; even though the judge treated us parents as if we sat on the stoop of our trailer eating pork and beans out of the can and watching re-runs of He Haw... Elisa's baby won a right to be born. Our attorney, supplied by the Thomas More Foundation and by another pro-life group, arranged a mediated conclusion to the treachery planned. We gave up our guardianship in trade for the life of our grandchild. The due date is May 11, 2013. The baby appears normal, and, since Elisa's retardation is not genetic, the baby will probably have normal intelligence.”
On May 2nd, Elisa Bauer gave birth to Cierra Marie, a healthy, full-term baby. The Bauer family’s lawyer, Jason Guinasso, wrote, “She is sweet and good natured. By all measures, she is perfectly healthy and sublimely beautiful.” Guinasso said that a loving adoptive family has been identified for baby Cierra, adding, “I can't adequately express how seeing her face makes my heart full.”
(This article first posted at The Washington Times Communities.)
How NYC Mayor Bloomberg's "big sugary drinks" ban has received a serious setback -- and why that's good for the American people
(posted by Bryana Johnson on March 14, 2013)
I’ve never found occasion to drink a 16 ounce soda in my life, much less one of those newly controversial Big Gulp sizes, which yesterday narrowly escaped being rendered illegal in New York City. Indeed, I consider the regular consumption of such beverages not only ill-advised and unwise but probably irresponsible as well. However, the fact that I am no fan of the Big Gulp does not prevent me from being a wholehearted supporter of Judge Milton Tingling’s ruling this Monday.
Judge Tingling’s strongly-worded statement on the legality of big sugary drinks was a long-awaited response to NYC mayor Bloomberg’s “sugary drink ban.” The mayor caused an uproar several months ago when he announced the ban that was to have gone into effect yesterday. The New York Daily News reports the rule would have banned sales of sugary sodas larger than 16 ounces by restaurants, movie theaters, pushcarts and sports arenas.
A large number of businesses were annoyed. So were a large number of people. Including some who, like me, don’t even buy big sugary drinks. What’s all the fuss about? Well, it comes down to one word: responsibility.
Whereas we, in traditionally American fashion, think it’s the responsibility of the individual to make their own choices about health, Bloomberg thinks that responsibility is just one more in an ever-increasing number of responsibilities that belong to the government. That he holds this view is made especially evident by a recent statement he issued in defense of the ban:
“With so many people contracting diabetes and heart disease,” said the mayor. “With so many children who are overweight and obese, with so many poor neighborhoods suffering the worst of this epidemic . . . it would be irresponsible not to.”
Really? Because people are irresponsible and reckless and sometimes plain dumb, it would be irresponsible not to pass regulations determining how much liquid sugar they are allowed to drink at one time? If history were a testimony to the general rightness of government authority, Bloomberg might have himself a case. Unfortunately, the exact opposite is true.
Even regarding matters of health, our own government has historically proven itself to be no reliable authority – even in very recent years. One simple example is the infamous “food pyramid” we all grew up with as children. Our governing bodies spent our money touting this diagram that purported to show the quintessential nutritional diet. It was drilled into our heads from kindergarten. We thought it was true.
But it isn’t, and it never has been. Nutritionists have known that for years now. In the past couple of years, First Lady Michelle Obama has been spearheading an effort to overhaul the food pyramid and replace it with a new diagram entirely. Rough luck for all those taxpayers who had to contribute for twenty years to a nutrition campaign that claimed 6 to 11 servings of straight carbohydrates were essential to a healthy diet.
Am I suggesting that big sugary drinks might not be unhealthy after all? Of course not. The point is that governments make mistakes too, and it isn’t their responsibility to make our health decisions for us. Especially since they aren’t even very good at it. The NYC ban on sugary drinks is objectionable because it bolsters the false and dangerous idea that such interference on the part of our local and federal authorities is acceptable and to be expected.
“They’re soft drinks,” berate those undaunted believers in the power of the state to save the world. They roll their eyes. “We’re not talking about taking away something that anyone could possibly need to have.” It’s true. We’re not.
But what we are talking about is laying yet another straw on the back of the camel of personal freedom. What we are talking about is one more affirmation of the authority of government officials to determine what the ideal life looks like. It’s a reinforcement of the already too-prevalent belief that the stupidity of mankind in general must be mitigated by the surpassing wisdom of the officials they have elected to positions of power. What we are talking about is little green frogs submerged in a saucepan with wide smiles on their faces, simmering, bubbling, boiling away.
Fortunately, we don’t have to talk about it anymore, for a time at least. Calling the decision “arbitrary and capricious,” Judge Tingling rendered it invalid on Monday, adding that while the Health Board can promote rules to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, it has no power to deal with obesity. Only the City Council has that power, he ruled, explaining, “One of the fundamental tenets of democratic governance here in New York, as well as throughout the nation, is the separation of powers. . . . No one person, agency, department or branch is above or beyond this.”
Mayor Bloomberg has vowed to appeal the court’s ruling, stating,
“Anytime you adopt a groundbreaking policy, special interests will sue. That’s America. We believe that the judge’s decision was clearly in error, and that we will prevail.”
“People are dying every day. This is not a joke,” he went on. “We’re talking about lives versus profits.”
Mayor Bloomberg did get one thing right: we are talking about lives. The issue is that the American people want to live theirs according to their own choices and Mayor Bloomberg thinks he should be the one making the choices for everyone. (Article first posted at The Washington Times Communities)
Why are law enforcement agencies requesting practice targets featuring armed women and children?
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on Mar 2, 2013)
Minnesota-based Law Enforcement Targets, Inc (LET) has been awarded $5.5 million in contracts with the federal government, including $2 million with the Department of Homeland Security. In light of this fact, it’s no wonder that the American people were outraged last week when it was uncovered that the firm had released a series of practice targets featuring a pregnant woman, a child, a young mother and grandparents.
This No More Hesitation series includes seven total targets, titled Pregnant Woman, Older Man 1, Older Man 2, Older Woman, Young Mother, Young Girl, and Little Brother. Each of the depicted subjects is armed. The “pregnant woman” is seen in front of the backdrop of a nursery. The “older woman,” is depicted in a bathrobe in her kitchen. The “young mother” is seen on a playground, holding a toddler’s hand. “Young girl” is standing in a driveway with a sack purse slung over her shoulder. “Little brother,” who is a very little person indeed, is depicted in a backyard with a privacy fence behind him. “Older man” stands in his home, in front of a bookshelf.
LET said that the targets were requested by law enforcement agencies and designed in order to “train police officers for unusually complex situations.” In a statement released to Reason’s Mike Riggs, they stated,
“The subjects in NMH targets were chosen in order to give officers the experience of dealing with deadly force shooting scenarios with subjects that are not the norm during training. I found while speaking with officers and trainers in the law enforcement community that there is a hesitation on the part of cops when deadly force is required on subjects with atypical age, frailty or condition (one officer explaining that he enlarged photos of his own kids to use as targets so that he would not be caught off guard with such a drastically new experience while on duty). This hesitation time may be only seconds but that is not acceptable when officers are losing their lives in these same situations. The goal of NMH is to break that stereotype on the range, regardless of how slim the chances are of encountering a real life scenario that involves a child, pregnant woman, etc. If that initial hesitation time can be cut down due to range experience, the officer and community are better served.”
However, the American people didn’t seem to concur, and the ensuing outcry resulted in LET withdrawing the targets from circulation.
"We apologize for the offensive nature of our 'No More Hesitation' products," they posted to their facebook page last week. "These products have been taken offline due to the opinions expressed by so many, including members of the law enforcement community."
While the removal of the targets from the online marketplace may seem like a step in the right direction, the fact that they are being used by our supposed peace officers in the first place is sinister in its own right. The fact that our own Department of Homeland Security may be spending our money on them is disturbing as well.
In the unlikely event that a domestic law enforcement official is faced with the unexpected threat of an armed eight-year-old or a threatening mother in the presence of her toddlers, hesitation is not only the natural response, but the moral and correct response. There are good and noble reasons why civilization has erected these constraints around the lives of the young and the aged and the vulnerable.
The first and most obvious of these is that pregnant women and grandmothers and little boys rarely constitute “threats” to police officers. And if an officer is being threatened by one of these civilians in their own homes or backyards, perhaps he should consider whether it is possible that they have a genuine grievance against him? There is a certain horror accompanying the idea of conditioning our homeland security officers to fire without hesitation or consideration on the women and children and elderly people of their own nation.
LET claimed in their statement about the No Hesitation campaign that hesitation was, “not acceptable when officers are losing their lives.” But a big chunk of the American people begs to differ. As much as we respect and admire our security personnel and police officers, we also understand the impossibility of eradicating suffering from the earth, and we prefer a humane society with traditional constraints and protections for the weak to a nation ravaged by fear and bereft of all codes of conduct. We prefer a society where the life of a child is not taken without hesitation by the officers employed to protect him. And if some – a very small number – of our officers are going to end up honorably sacrificing their lives for the sake of these codes, we prefer that to the alternative of a senseless, robotic police force that will not hesitate to riddle our disabled grandparents with bullets. (This article first posted at The Washington Times Communities)
Why has the Mexico Permanent Commission voted to ask the US Senate for a registry of guns in border states?
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on Feb 21, 2013)
— In the wake of a tense national clash regarding the issue of gun control, Mexico has taken an action sure to fan the flames of controversy. In January, the Mexico Permanent Commission reportedly voted to formally ask the United States Senate for a registry of all commercialized firearms in the border states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
According to Informador, the proposition was introduced by Senator Marcela Guerra, who stated he introduced the resolution in hopes that it would make it easier to trace guns used in violent crimes. InsightCrime explains,
“Close to 60,000 people were killed during the six-year presidency of Felipe Calderon, who left office in December. The US Southwest is a significant source of weaponry for Mexico's criminal organizations, who typically purchase firearms from US gun stores via a middleman or ‘straw buyer.’ ”
Given these facts, it might not seem surprising that the Mexican government is interested in taking action to curb the acquisition of weapons by violent criminals on their side of the border. However, given the recent history of government-initiated gun trafficking on our side, neither is it surprising to hear the comments of enraged gun-owners who feel that the Mexican request is absurd.
“It’s an infringement, on its highest level,” said one Arizona gun-owner interviewed by KPHO TV.
“My first reaction is, I don’t like it,” said another. “In light of what happened, with, you know, all the weapons, the assault weapons, that went over there.”
He was referring to the national ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms) gun-walking scandal, Fast And Furious, in which US government agents allowed guns to pass into the possession of suspected gun smugglers in order to track them up to high-level Mexican crime rings.
Over 2,000 weapons unfortunately did end up in the hands of Mexican drug cartel members, but rather than leading to any arrests or information, the guns were somehow lost. They are in the process of being recovered, of course. Each time another innocent like US border agent Brian Terry or Mexican beauty queen Maria Gamez, is victimized, we discover the final landing place of another Fast and Furious weapon. The price, however, for the failed operation, has been high. With an estimated 150 deaths, some say too high.
Not surprisingly, law-abiding gun-owners are balking at the idea of being tracked as a potential threat to Mexican lives when their own government is responsible for causing so much of the problem. If there needs to be action taken on the issue of gun-smuggling, they say, start with the smugglers! They don’t feel that’s them.
And under the administration of a President who persists in treating gun ownership like a malicious cancer in American public life, they’re not sure they feel comfortable having their names entered into a national registry of cancerous cells, which is periodically being delivered to foreign governments. Who can blame them?
The Romeike family fled Germany for the right to homeschool their children. Now they face deportation from the US. What does this mean for US
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on Feb 15, 2013)
In 1938, the practice of homeschooling was outlawed in Germany by Adolf Hitler and the infamous Third Reich. It was a rough period in German history, as thousands of young people were being pried from their parents’ direction and authority and drafted into the Hitler Youth program, where they were supposed to be trained as Aryan supermen (and women). In a few short years, vast numbers of these youth would be bleeding out on the battlefields of Europe, on the wrong side of the war for the soul of the world.
Sadly for freedom and for many families, Germany has never lifted this archaic and totalitarian ban on homeschooling. On the contrary, the German government seems to have stepped up its opposition to home-educating parents over the past decade, forcing several families to flee, and others to enroll their children in state-approved schools against their will. The German Supreme Court has stated that the purpose of the homeschooling ban is to, “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies.” It sounds like they aren’t really big on religious or philosophical diversity over there.
Some notable victims of this small-minded and grasping totalitarianism are Uwe and Hannelore Romeike and their five children. Uwe and his wife are music teachers and evangelical Christians who for years have been unsuccessfully seeking the right to homeschool their children. The Romeikes withdrew their children from German public schools in 2006, after becoming concerned that the educational material employed by the school was undermining the tenets of their Christian faith and that the school was not providing their children with an ideal learning environment. “I don’t expect the school to teach about the Bible,” Mr. Romeike said, but “part of education should be character-building.”
After accruing the equivalent of around $10,000 in fines, and facing police visits to their home and the forcible removal of their children from the home, the Romeikes fled Germany in 2008 to seek asylum in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Their case was taken up by the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which helped the Romeikes in 2010 to become the first family ever granted asylum in the US for the protection of their homeschooling rights.
The HSLDA explains, “The U.S. law of asylum allows a refugee to stay in the United States permanently if he can show that he is being persecuted for one of several specific reasons. Among these are persecution for religious reasons and persecution of a ‘particular social group.’ ”
On January 26th, 2010, Memphis federal immigration judge, Lawrence Burman, granted the Romeikes political asylum, ruling they had a reasonable fear of persecution for their beliefs if they returned to their homeland. Judge Burman also denounced the German policy heatedly. In a statement, he called it, “utterly repellent to everything we believe as Americans.”
HSLDA’s Mike Donnelley called the ruling, “an extraordinary recognition of the fundamental importance of the right of parents to raise their children according to the dictates of individual conscience.”
“We were so relieved!” Hanne said. “We had been trying hard not to get our hopes up too high. [The HSLDA attorneys] had assured us that even if we lost at this level, we would appeal and that an appeal could take years. So we knew that we wouldn’t have to go right back to Germany. But to win at this point was such an answer to prayer. Our children were jumping up and down and everyone in the room was hugging us and celebrating. Tears were flowing in gratitude for God’s protection for our family.”
The Romeikes were able to continue quietly homeschooling their children in a small Tennessee town. For a time.
Sadly, their period of respite was not to last. The Romeikes’ case is now before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, with the US government seeking to revoke their asylum and force them to return to Germany. And the details of Attorney-General Holder’s arguments in the brief for Romeike v. Holder are sinister, to say the least.
According to Holder, parents have no fundamental right to home-educate their children.
HSLDA Founder, Mike Farris, warns,
“[Holder’s office] argued that there was no violation of anyone’s protected rights in a law that entirely bans homeschooling. There would only be a problem if Germany banned homeschooling for some but permitted it for others.
Let’s assess the position of the United States government on the face of its argument: a nation violates no one’s rights if it bans homeschooling entirely. There are two major portions of constitutional rights of citizens—fundamental liberties and equal protection. The U.S. Attorney General has said this about homeschooling. There is no fundamental liberty to homeschool. So long as a government bans homeschooling broadly and equally, there is no violation of your rights.”
Farris goes on to reveal another argument presented by the Attorney-General,
“The U.S. government contended that the Romeikes’ case failed to show that there was any discrimination based on religion because, among other reasons, the Romeikes did not prove that all homeschoolers were religious, and that not all Christians believed they had to homeschool.”
The US Government, says Farris, “does not understand that religious freedom is an individual right.” Just because all adherents of a particular religion do not abide by a certain standard does not mean that individuals who feel compelled to abide by this standard do not have the right to do so. Religious decisions must be made by individuals, not by groups.
Farris contends, “One need not be a part of any church or other religious group to be able to make a religious freedom claim. Specifically, one doesn’t have to follow the dictates of a church to claim religious freedom—one should be able to follow the dictates of God Himself.
The United States Supreme Court has made it very clear in the past that religious freedom is an individual right. Yet our current government does not seem to understand this. They only think of us as members of groups and factions. It is an extreme form of identity politics that directly threatens any understanding of individual liberty.”
While Romeike v. Holder is clearly crucially and immediately important to one huddled family yearning to breathe free, the implications of the arguments currently being presented by the US government against them are ultimately important to all American people. Will our courts uphold the rights of parents to raise their children in the ways that seem best to them, or will a government standard be imposed upon the 2 million homeschooling families of the US?
A look at historical precedents puts me in a big hurry to be on the side of liberty.
I give you Friedrich Hayek, from The Road To Serfdom:
“There is scarcely a leaf out of Hitler’s book which somebody or other in England or America has not recommended us to take and use for our own purposes. This applies particularly to many people who are undoubtedly Hitler’s mortal enemies because of one special feature in his system. We should never forget that the anti-Semitism of Hitler has driven from his country, or turned into his enemies, many people who in every respect are confirmed totalitarians of the German type.”
For more information about the Romeikes, check out the following sources:
– Land of Liberty: The Romeikes’ Journey (HSLDA, January 2010)
– US grants home schooling German family political asylum (The Guardian, January 2010)
– Judge Grants Asylum to German Home Schoolers (NYTimes, February 2010)
– Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Homeschoolers (TIME Magazine, March 2010)
– German families look to US for asylum (Global Post, April 2010)
– The Romeike Family: Still Waiting on Asylum Appeal (HSLDA, October 2011)
– German Homeschool Case May Impact U.S. Homeschool Freedom (HSLDA, February 2013)
Does the new birth control mandate "compromise" really do anything to protect religious freedom?
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on Feb 5, 2013)
The Obama administration sparked a massive controversy last year when it was announced that a new federal mandate would require all health insurers and employers to include coverage in their health plans for every form of contraception approved by the FDA. The mandate also required coverage for sterilizations.
Faith groups who teach against the use of contraceptives became immediately fearful that such a mandate would force violations of conscience. Some Catholics view every form of contraceptive use as sinful. A far broader base of Christian people accepts the use of most contraceptives but opposes the use of abortifacient “emergency contraception,” like the “morning-after pill.”
Unfortunately, the Obama administration did little to allay their fears. While the mandate included a religious exemption, it only applied to church organizations themselves. It did not apply to church-affiliated non-profit institutions, such as hospitals, or to employers. An amendment was proposed that would have made provisions for employers to “refuse to include contraception in health care coverage if it violated their religious or moral beliefs.” The Blunt Amendment was voted down 51-48 by the U.S. Senate last March.
Between then and now, nothing much has changed. After an unsuccessful appeal to the Unites States Supreme Court, the Christian owners of the craft store chain Hobby Lobby announced at the beginning of this year that they would refuse to add the contraceptive coverage to their employee insurance plan. According to NPR, their attorney stated that they consider the emergency contraceptives “tantamount to abortion.” The company faced up to $1.3 million a day in fines for defying the mandate. Two weeks later, however, it was learned they had discovered a way to delay the fines. Peter M. Dobelbower, the company's general counsel, stated, “Hobby Lobby discovered a way to shift the plan year for its employee health insurance, thus postponing the effective date of the mandate for several months.” But their time is running out.
Late last week, the Obama administration released a new version of the infamous birth-control mandate. Religious and pro-life groups were hoping the new regulations would spell out broader conscience rights for employers – like the Hobby Lobby owners – and institutions whose faith prohibits them from funding sterilization and various forms of contraception. Sadly, after examining the altered version of the mandate, pro-life legal groups have bad news. The new proposal barely changes existing policy and still allows for no business or individual opt-out, they say.
Dr. Charmaine Yoest, CEO and President of Americans United for Life, stated Friday, “With another phony compromise, the Obama Administration continues to insult the intelligence of the American people and trample our Constitutionally-guaranteed rights.”
LifeNews reports of the new proposal that it will not have any impact on businesses run by people of faith, such as Bible publisher Tyndale House or Hobby Lobby. They also explain that it “provides no options for individuals seeking plans that accommodate their values on the exchanges.”
So, what does the new proposal do? Well, the only major difference for people of faith seems to be that the religious exemption has been modified so that it no longer specifies that churches must have “inculcation of religious values” as their purpose and primarily employ and serve people of their same faith in order to qualify for the exemption.
This doesn’t sound like much of a concession, once you get down to it. The change only broadens the definition of a church for the purposes of the exemption, and does nothing to protect the conscience rights of for-profit employers and individuals.
The absurdity of this state of affairs is truly remarkable. To state it plainly, the Obama administration has conceded the right of churches to opt-out of participating in the funding of procedures their faith prohibits, but won’t provide the means for members of these same churches to avoid violating the dictates of their faith in their workplaces. What is the point of protecting the rights of a church as an institution and then trampling the rights of the individuals that comprise that same institution?
Will legalization of same-sex marriage result in religious persecution?
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on January 28, 2013)
Earlier this month, 1,067 UK priests, bishops and abbots prompted a significant stir by collectively signing what is being called one of the largest open letters ever produced in British political history. The letter was issued as a warning against the legalization of same-sex marriage. Such a development may spark religious persecution against Catholics, who oppose same-sex marriage based on the tenets of their faith, cautioned the multitude of priests.
The letter comes as British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced his intentions to push through a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in the UK by the end of the month.
“The natural complementarity between a man and a woman leads to marriage, seen as a lifelong partnership,” the clergymen declared in their statement. “This loving union – because of their physical complementarity – is open to bringing forth and nurturing children. This is what marriage is. That is why marriage is only possible between a man and a woman.”
“Legislation for same-sex marriage, should it be enacted, will have many legal consequences, severely restricting the ability of Catholics to teach the truth about marriage in their schools, charitable institutions or places of worship,” they went on to warn. Those who signed the letter make up about one-fourth of all the Catholic clergy in Britain.
Regardless of where we stand on the issue of same-sex marriage, it’s important for us to determine whether or not this statement is backed by evidence and by the collective experience of states and nations that have already enshrined homosexual marriage in law. Surely the rights and religious liberties of the proponents of traditional marriage must be protected even as same-sex partnerships become more widespread and more widely accepted.
Is truth on the side of the UK clergy and should Christian people be taking a warning from their words? Is legalization of same-sex marriage a doorway into an era of universal goodwill and harmony? Or is it merely a sign that a new form of bigotry is at hand – a bigotry of hatred and violence unleashed against the traditional family and its supporters?
The obvious question is, have opponents of same-sex marriage suffered persecution and loss of religious liberty in other countries that have embraced this radical redefinition of marriage? The answer is in no way elusive. Let’s take a look at a little very recent history.
“Tolerance” in Brazil
Last week, members of the Catholic Plinio Correa de Olivera Institute gathered in the Brazilian city of Curitiba to protest abortion and the homosexual ideology and stand in support of the traditional family. Homosexuality has been legal in Brazil since 1830 and enjoys widespread acceptance in that country.
However, the Catholic demonstrators, who marched peacefully and carried signs, were not greeted with tolerance and acceptance. In fact, an angry mob soon gathered around them and began yelling threats and making obscene gestures. The Catholics were spat upon and one of them had an object thrown at his head which drew blood. As he held up his bloodied hand to show the camera, the crowd cheered. These incidents were caught on camera by the Institute and by an onlooker sympathetic to the unruly mob.
In 2007, the Brazilian Association of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transgender People (ABGLT) filed several lawsuits against opponents of the homosexual movement in Brazil. One of these suits targeted the websites that had just exposed homosexual activist Luiz Mott for his promotion of pedophilia and pederasty.
Another motion was filed against psychologist and therapist Rozangela Alves Justino, who provided counseling and therapy for homosexuals who wished to change their sexual orientation. Because Brazil’s Federal Council of Psychologists prohibited psychologists from performing reparative therapy for homosexuality, the ABGLT asked that Alves Justino’s license be revoked.
Several years ago, Christian pro-life writer Julio Severo fled Brazil after charges were reportedly filed against him for his “homophobic” coverage of Brazil’s 2006 Gay Pride parade. Severo left the country abruptly with his pregnant wife and two small children. At the time, there was still no official law in Brazil criminalizing “homophobic” behavior.
In February of 2009, LifeSiteNews reported that, “the Brazilian government has determined that 99% of its citizens are ‘homophobic,’ and therefore must be reeducated.” According to Brazilian newspaper O Globo, the federal government of Brazil intended to use the data from the study to “plan new policies.” Those new policies were implemented in May 2012, when the senate in Brazil passed a law criminalizing ‘homophobia.’
In the summer of 2012, Julio Severo interviewed Brazilian Christian psychologist Marisa Lobo, who said that the Brazilian Federal Council of Psychology pressured and terrorized homosexuals who were looking for help in overcoming their unwanted same-sex attractions. Marisa was also attacked by the Council when she questioned the “gay kit” that the Brazilian government attempted to distribute to students in public schools for the purpose of fighting “homophobia.” Due to explicit content in the kit and its favorable portrayal of homosexual behavior, the program was eventually suspended by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
“When they learned that [I was] a Christian, they began to persecute me,” Marisa explained, “as a psychologist who categorizes herself as a Christian, and later in the process as a homophobe, because I said on Twitter that I love gays, but I prefer for my child to be heterosexual. And I still don’t understand why having an opinion instigates violence.”
It seems that the range of tolerated activity in Brazil is fairly narrow, despite decades of campaigns by same-sex marriage advocates against “hate” and “bullying” and “harassment.” And it is becoming increasingly evident that Christian family virtues are not included in the group of “tolerable” ideas.
“Diversity” and “Freedom of Speech” in Canada
Canada Day in Ontario last year was marked by a disturbing incident when Rev. David Lynn and a small group of friends attended the Toronto Gay Pride Parade. Setting up a small stand on a street corner with a microphone and a video camera, Lynn preached, held conversations with passers-by, and handed out Bibles and tracts – that is, until Toronto police wearing LGBT rainbow stickers shut him down and forced him to vacate the area. Ignoring the profanity and violent behavior of angry parade attendees and demonstrators who verbally assaulted the group and even doused Lynn and his cameraman with water, police told Lynn he was ‘promoting hate’ and must leave. Videos of the incident are available here and here and here.
It seems only certain forms of free speech are protected in Canada nowadays. Criticism of homosexuality, even peaceful and motivated by loving concern, isn’t one of these.
When the Toronto District School Board revealed their new “anti-homophobia curriculum” in 2011 (Challenging Homophobia and Heterosexism: A K-12 Curriculum), many people were understandably disturbed. Naturally, things only got worse when the news came out that parents would not be able to opt their kids out of the program – not even their kindergarteners. Teachers would also not be permitted to decline to teach the course based on religious convictions.
It seems only certain brands of diverse thought are encouraged in Canada nowadays. Christian family virtues aren’t among them.
The curriculum taught students that “you can’t choose to be gay or straight, but you can choose to come out.” In 3rd grade, it is recommended that students read the book Gloria Goes to Gay Pride. Students are encouraged to have their own “Pride Parade” in their school.
Unfortunately, most real-life Pride Parades are scarcely suitable for elementary school children.
The disturbing and seemingly totalitarian approach embraced by the Toronto District is but a foretaste of what lies ahead, suggests an education minister in the United Kingdom. Elizabeth Truss, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State of the Department for Education, warned in November that school teachers could be punished for not teaching pro-gay topics, should the British government follow through with plans to redefine marriage.
More Instances of Love and Acceptance
The adoption agency Catholic Charities has been systemically shutting down its branches in various states throughout the US, following a series of bitter legal disputes over the agency’s right to refuse to place children with homosexual couples. Similar laws have also forced church-affiliated agencies in Britain, such as Catholic Care, to separate from their churches or shut down entirely.
In January 2012, a New Jersey judge ruled against a Christian retreat house that refused to allow a same-sex civil union ceremony to be conducted on its premises, ruling that the Constitution allows “some intrusion into religious freedom to balance other important societal goals.” Last September, a gay couple filed suit against two Illinois institutions that refused to host their civil union. Christian “Bed and Breakfast” establishments, which are often family-owned businesses, have been especially targeted by homosexual rights activists for this type of harassment.
In Ladele and McFarlane v. United Kingdom, plaintiffs Lillian Ladele and Gary McFarlane were fired from their places of work for declining to perform services involving same-sex partnerships and counseling. Ladele, a marriage registrar for Islington Council in London, “was disciplined after she asked to be exempt from registering same-sex civil partnerships.” McFarlane was a counselor who was fired after he “declined to unequivocally commit to provide same-sex couples with psycho-sexual therapy.” They appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, but the court refused to hear their case.
"It seems that a religious bar to office has been created, whereby a Christian who wishes to act on their Christian beliefs on marriage will no longer be able to work in a great number of environments,” commented Andrea Williams, the Director of the Christian Legal Centre.
Certainly this is a tragic remark and one that signals a gloomy answer to the question of whether or not the legalization of same-sex marriage will result in a loss of religious liberty. It is, of course, unfair of homosexual activists to expect people of faith to cast away their creeds and their dear, cherished ideals. But these activists make themselves odious indeed to civilized people when they force dissenters to violate their codes of morality and their very consciences by endorsing and promoting a lifestyle they consider abhorrent.
If the aim of legalizing same-sex marriage is, as we are so often told, to eradicate intolerance and bigotry, surely its activists should be alarmed to find that their efforts have been entirely unsuccessful. However, as shocking as it may seem, the advocates of same-sex marriage are proving repeatedly that they only endorse the toleration of one view and only believe in the protection of one speech – their own.
Senator Rand Paul: "I’m afraid that President Obama may have this king complex sort of developing, & we’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen."
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on January 18, 2013)
President Obama yesterday released a list of descriptions of the 23 executive orders he is planning to put into place following an extended national debate regarding gun control. While some of these descriptions are so vague and redundant that they add practically nothing to our understanding of the President’s plans, others are plainer and more alarming.
All are confirmation that an arrogant and authoritarian approach to guns on the part of our leadership is imminent. All demonstrate powerfully the presence of a deadly epidemic in our national consciousness. That epidemic is our population’s ill-founded and seemingly inexorable insistence on trusting in authority figures to fix everything, to always know what to do, to make everything better for us.
Fortunately for the American people, Senator Rand Paul is one legislator who doesn’t seem to be suffering from this malady. Consequently, he released a plan of his own yesterday.
“In the United States, we do not have a king. But we do have a Constitution. We also have a 2nd Amendment. I will fight tooth and nail to protect it,” he wrote on his facebook page. “There are several of the executive orders that appear as if the President is writing new law. That cannot happen. My bill will nullify anything the president does that smacks of legislation. No president should be allowed to overstep the bounds of the Constitution.”
Paul’s bill is called the Separation of Powers Restoration and Second Amendment Protection Act of 2013 and it has several purposes. The first purpose is to condemn the use of executive orders which undermine the powers reserved for Congress. The bill points to Article I of the Constitution, which states, “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.”
The bill then declares that the President’s recent executive actions and impending executive orders “could be construed to describe an attempt by the executive to make laws in violation of the Article 1, Sec. 8 of the Constitution and the 2nd Amendment.”
A Capitol Hill source reportedly told The Daily Caller that Paul’s legislation is “expected to do three things: nullify Obama’s executive orders, defund them and ask the Senate to file a court challenge to them.”
“I’m afraid that President Obama may have this king complex sort of developing, and we’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Paul said in an interview with Hannity Wednesday night.
The Kentucky Senator didn’t limit his criticism of executive action to the current President, however. “It's been a long battle that we've been losing gradually and even Republican presidents have also usurped their executive privilege to exert more authority than the constitution gave them. But, you know, our founders looked to Montesquieu, and Montesquieu wrote that there can be no liberty when you combine the executive and legislative powers.”
Paul says his bill should be introduced early next week.
But Senator Rand Paul is not the only one to challenge the President, and there is reason to believe that his bill will receive widespread support from citizens all over the nation. State legislators, sheriffs, and other authority figures from a number of other states, including Mississippi, Missouri, Texas, Tennessee, Wyoming and Oregon have offered negative responses to the President’s actions.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said in a letter to Mississippi House Speaker Phil Gunn and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves that the president's Executive Order "infringes our constitutional right to keep and bear arms as never before in American history. I am asking that you immediately pass legislation that would make any unconstitutional order by the President illegal to enforce in Mississippi by state or local law enforcement,” he added.
In a letter to Vice President Joe Biden, Oregon Sheriff Tim Mueller wrote, "We must not allow, nor shall we tolerate, the actions of criminals no matter how heinous the crimes to prompt politicians to enact laws that will infringe upon the liberties of responsible citizens who have broken no laws." He added that he would not enforce any laws which “offended the constitutional rights” of residents in his district.
Early in the week, Texas State Rep. Steve Toth declared that he will be filing legislation to "assist the protection of the Second Amendment." The Firearms Protection Act would make "any federal law banning semi-automatic firearms or limiting the size of gun magazines unenforceable within the state's boundaries.” He also explained that "anyone trying to enforce a federal gun ban could face felony charges under the proposal."
"We can no longer depend on the Federal Government and this Administration to uphold a Constitution that they no longer believe in," Toth said in a statement. "The liberties of the People of Texas and the sovereignty of our State are too important to just let the Federal Government take them away."
Vice President Joe Biden says Obama may resort to another executive order to deal with the gun control debate
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on January 10, 2012)
If there’s one thing Vice President Joe Biden is not known for, it’s that rare combination of intelligence and eloquence so crucial to those who live in the fixed glare of the national spotlight. Biden’s mouth is not exactly a fountain of life from which wisdom and understanding pour forth abundantly. Indeed, his mouth seems to spend more time hosting his foot that it does emitting words of knowledge. Nevertheless, there has not yet been any suggestion that his particularly inflammatory statement of this morning was any kind of gaffe.
"The president is going to act," Biden said Wednesday, regarding the touchy issue of gun control. "Executive order, executive action can be taken, we haven't decided what that is yet. But we're compiling it all with the help of the attorney general and all the rest of the cabinet members as well as legislative action, we believe, is required. [sic]"
This statement came as the Vice President was preparing to meet with groups representing survivors of mass shootings. Biden was appointed by President Obama in December to oversee a new task force assembled to provide "concrete proposals” for the reduction of gun violence.
In his statement he called the issue of gun control a “moral issue” and stated that "it's critically important that we act. As the president said, if your actions result in only saving one life, they're worth taking. But I'm convinced we can affect the well-being of millions of Americans and take thousands of people out of harm's way if we act responsibly.
Politicians make mistakes. And that’s OK. We the people are – often unwisely – very forgiving. We will forgive a leader’s embarrassing misstatements, his or her injudicious metaphors, slips of the tongue, and unexpected moments of public confusion.
Speaking in Ohio in 2008, Biden famously said, "Look, John's last-minute economic plan does nothing to tackle the number-one job facing the middle class, and it happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S, jobs."
We can forgive the Vice President for forgetting how to count to four in a tense moment and before the prying eyes of millions of American people. Millions of American people can forgive this, have forgiven it, have ceased to think about it anymore. What we cannot forgive, what we must not forgive, is a statement like the one the Vice President made today.
We have pardoned little unintentional insults and innuendos and manifestations of human error and finite capabilities. What is unpardonable in a leader of our nation is the suggestion that at his whim he intends to throw out our history and our legislation and our hard-won liberty in order to replace it with a vision that violates our trust in him. What is unpardonable in a man who occupies such a position of trust over us is the glib arrogance that disregards the very oath of office which binds him where he stands and subordinates his visions to our particular set of laws. What is unpardonable in our executives is a vision which trespasses on the Constitution they have sworn to protect.
Article 1, Section 1 of this Constitutions states,
“All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”
What is unpardonable in a leader of this great nation is the seizing of such powers as belong to other representatives and the forcing of his will upon an unwilling and divided citizenry. This is what is unpardonable in both Vice President Joe Biden and President Obama himself. (First posted at the Washington Times Communities)