Family Research Council

School to Teacher: Don't Pray for your Colleagues

May 19, 2017

For those questioning the claim that the public expression of faith is under attack, actions by public school administrators in Augusta, Maine should school them well on the issue. School officials have assumed the authority to decide that teachers are not allowed to let their colleagues know they are praying for them -- even in private conversations. It makes you wonder if they are still allowed to pray for them at all. Perhaps the school's next steps will be to investigate their thoughts!

Teacher Tony Richardson informed a colleague who was facing some difficulty (and who also attended the same church as her) she would be praying for him. Yet months later after a falling out between her and the colleague, a complaint was lodged against her, and the school gave her a "coaching memorandum" which told her that "[s]tating 'I will pray for you,' and 'you were in my prayers' is not acceptable—even if that other person attends the same church as you." In making such statements, according to the school, she "may have imposed some strong religious/spiritual belief system" on the prayed-for coworker.

This is the state of modern America's hostility to religion, and it doesn't look good. From our military to government bureaucrats, public schools to the mass media, the indifference, ignorance, and outright opposition to a robust and serious faith in God is pervasive -- and ever increasing. Of course, it may still be fine to hold beliefs at some level -- but don't express them. Frankly, if telling a colleague you're praying for them is off limits, I'm not even sure holding beliefs is safe territory anymore. Thankfully, Ms. Richardson has enlisted the help of First Liberty Institute in fighting this action by the school.

The root of such problems lies in the flawed understanding of religious belief revealed later in the "coaching memorandum," which stated, "it is imperative you do not use phrases that integrate public and private belief systems when in the public schools." Whatever we are supposed to think of as a "public" belief system (it's not clear), such thinking illustrates the silliness of the impossible public/private dichotomy when it comes to religion. In the minds of people thinking this way -- which includes not just the Augusta schools but multitudes of academics, government workers, and secular "elites" -- religion is fine as long as it is not in the public square. They entirely miss the fact that we all choose beliefs -- some choose religious beliefs and others do not -- and we all bring our beliefs into all aspects of our lives, to some degree. To only exclude religious beliefs from public life is discriminatory -- against religion.

If religious freedom is to prosper again in America after eight years of outright hostility, we must see a philosophical shift that ceases to treat religious expression like a political carcinogen that has to be quarantined. Until that happens, we will continue to defend the rights of people like Ms. Richardson who simply want to live out their faith free from government interference.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

A Straus Divided on Texas Privacy

May 19, 2017

The clock is ticking for the safety of women and children in the Lone Star State. My friend, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick of Texas, has been working to protect the privacy and safety of women and children in showers, locker rooms, and bathrooms. Earlier this year he helped introduce the Texas Privacy Act (SB 6), requiring government buildings and schools to respect the privacy and safety of women and children while allowing businesses to set their own policies. I was asked to testify on the bill, and point out how many women and children have already been harmed by the Left's radical redefinition of the sexes.

The Texas Privacy Act easily passed the Senate on a bi-partisan vote, but it's been stalled by the Republican Texas House Speaker for two months. By stalling, Speaker Joe Straus appears more beholden to the far Left than to his duty to protect the women and children of his state.

This week, the bill suddenly began to gain momentum when Governor Greg Abbott asked the legislature to pass a privacy bill, and Lt. Governor Patrick threatened to force a special session if it doesn't pass.

State issues like this in Texas have national implications. The Left would surely use the defeat of privacy in a state like Texas as a rallying cry to move on to the next state (maybe yours...). We can't allow the safety of women and children to become a feather in the cap of the radical Left.

On Wednesday, Speaker Straus, under pressure to act, said he doesn't think the privacy and safety of women and children is a priority to Texans. He needs to hear from his constituents that it's a priority to them. If you have family and friends in Texas, please forward this link, and ask them to use it to contact the Speaker and urge him to join Lt. Governor Patrick and Governor Abbott in support of the Texas Privacy Act.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Life or Death in D.C.

May 19, 2017

Congressman Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) gave an eye-opening lecture yesterday at FRC on the harmful D.C. assisted suicide law and why Congress must repeal it. Earlier this year, Washington, D.C. joined six other states in legalizing assisted suicide. As a physician of over 25 years and a strong supporter of patient rights and access to quality care, Rep. Wenstrup has led the charge in Congress to repeal it, citing that this is not a partisan issue, but a human issue.

Assisted suicide endangers the most vulnerable -- people who are sick, poor, and elderly, and fails to hold doctors and health insurance companies accountable. As in other states, health insurance companies could refuse actual life-saving treatment and only offer assisted suicide as an option because it is cheaper. Thus, it decreases options for patients and leaves them unprotected. Assisted suicide also corrupts the medical profession which is built on the "first do no harm" principle of the Hippocratic Oath. A doctor's role is to bring healing or comfort to a patient -- not to kill the patient.

The D.C. assisted suicide law is very dangerous. First, like other assisted suicide laws, there is a lack of accountability and transparency. For example, the death certificate does not specify that the person died by assisted suicide. Instead, it requires that the cause of death be recorded as the underlying disease. This is deceptive and it does not allow authorities to properly report on its incidence and outcomes. As Rep. Wenstrup said, nowhere else in medicine is this acceptable. This law also does not require a doctor or witnesses to be present with the person when they take the lethal drugs, and there is no follow-up. Once the lethal drugs are prescribed, they could potentially fall into the hands of a child or in the hands of a family or friend who stands to gain by taking that person's life, and no one would know.

Second, it threatens people who do not have terminal illnesses. Even illnesses such as diabetes, which can be curable, can qualify someone for lethal assisted suicide drugs. The law does not even require people to screen for mental illness.

Third, there are no safeguards in the law to stop assisted suicide "tourism" to our nation's capital.

Assisted suicide is not healthcare. It is bad policy and it sends the message that some people's lives are not worth living. In fact, where assisted suicide exists, the general suicide rate also skyrockets. For example, in Oregon where assisted suicide is legal, the general suicide rate has been increasing since 2000. It has long outpaced the country. In 2012, the Oregon general suicide rate was 42% higher than the national average.

FRC will continue to work with Rep. Wenstrup and other supporters to repeal the D.C. assisted suicide law and protect the lives and well-being of the most vulnerable populations among us.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Previous Washington Update Articles »