Irish Turn on O'Bama
President Obama was nine months into his first term when he won the Nobel Peace Prize -- but most Americans have spent the last 44 wondering why. The latest example comes from comments the President made while he was attending the G8 Summit. Ireland got its first taste of The Great Divider on Monday in a speech the President delivered to 2,000 young people in Belfast. There, in one of the tensest regions of the world, President Obama sowed even more dissention by suggesting that religious schools are somehow to blame forNorthern Ireland's ancient conflicts.
Invoking "segregation," the President claimed that faith-based education is fueling the country's culture of fear and resentment. "If towns remain divided -- if Catholics have their schools and buildings and Protestants have theirs, if we can't see ourselves in one another and fear or resentment are allowed to harden -- that too encourages division and discourages cooperation." The American and Irish media pounced on the comment, calling it the "bitter clingers" moment of his second presidency -- a reference to the President's infamous middle America-bashing in 2008.
His comment took a lot of people by surprise in Ireland, especially since a local Archbishop had just commended Catholic schools for unifying students in a major speech a few days earlier. Perhaps, as several Irish people said, the President should get American schools in order before he criticizes other countries'. Others, especially religious groups in the U.S.were less shocked than they were offended. "[This is] another example," said Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, "of what this man wants: total isolation of any religious values in the private sphere alone. President Obama is working to either intimidate or legislate or even tax religious freedom out of the public square. Off the top of my head I can't think of a foreign visit to an Islamic nation where he told people on his arrival that they shouldn't have madrasas. Can you?"
Essentially, the President is suggesting that Ireland needs more government schools -- which, at least in the U.S., are even more divisive due to multiculturalism and other poisonous ideas. Unfortunately, the White House's view continues to be that religion does more to estrange than unite. It's a revealing statement in many ways, given how aggressive the President has been lately in eradicating faith from our education, military, and political institutions. The reality is, Americans "cling to their religion," as President Obama so rudely put it, because true faith draws us together.
There are real theological differences, but as we've witnessed from the health care, abortion, and marriage debates, the greater gulf is between those who are orthodox Christians and those who aren't. That's why the Left's attempt to pit red vs. blue, successful vs. poor, parent vs. child has so spectacularly backfired. In driving this anti-faith, anti-value, pro-government agenda, President Obama has done a lot to bring Catholics and Protestants together. Our shared outrage over the contraception-abortion mandate, the redefinition of marriage, religious hostility, and taxpayer-funded abortion has helped to strengthen ecclesiastical bonds. Years from now, history may record that, in fact, President Obama was a unifier -- the accidental unifier of Catholics and Protestants who came together to defend moral truth.
Planned Parenthood: "Sex Ed Can Cure Rape"
Every time a Republican so much as utters the word "rape" in a public forum -- even defensibly -- the media begins a systematic smear campaign. Well, where were the big cameras and boom mics when Planned Parenthood claimed that "sex education is the cure for rape?" The comment was made last week in reference to a tragic story in Indiana, where a 13-year-old girl was violently raped in a car. Planned Parenthood linked to a local news report on its Facebook page and posted this in response, "Heartbreaking stories like this are all too common in Indiana, which ranks second in the number of teen sexual assaults. Comprehensive sex ed can make a difference in preventing sexual assaults."
Imagine if a conservative congressman had made the suggestion that teaching children less about sex would have prevented this little girl's rape. The Left would have drummed him out of politics! But because it's Planned Parenthood, the government's favorite purveyor of pornographic sex "education," (which probably provokes more assault than it prevents), no one says a word. Of course, the suggestion is all the more offensive coming from Planned Parenthood, since the organization has a long history of covering up statutory rape, especially in Bloomington and Indianapolis.
Even if Planned Parenthood's ridiculous theory were true, it certainly doesn't say a lot about the organization's effectiveness, considering that Planned Parenthood's presence in Indiana is double the national average. If more sex education is the answer, why does Indiana have the second highest teen sexual assault rate in the country? Good question. But a better one is this: why does the government insist on funding an organization that is not only partially responsible for -- but complicit in -- this culture of abuse?
Just this week, the Obama administration announced that ObamaCare will be funneling millions more dollars to Planned Parenthood clinics to help promote the health care law. "Planned Parenthood is among the long list of liberal organizations that are expected to receive taxpayer funded navigator grants," said Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.). "The navigator grants would further enable Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in America, to continue its misuse of taxpayer dollars to [supplement] their big abortion business."
What's more, ObamaCare opens up a new channel for government money to abortion providers through its "community health centers," a possibility FRC warned about in 2010. It shouldn't surprise anyone that Planned Parenthood is lining up at the ObamaCare trough, but it should stun everyone that Congress is letting them.
HPV Vaccines Work -- But Abstinence Still Works Better
A new study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases is reporting that the prevalence of four strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer, has fallen more than 50% among females aged 14-19 since the vaccine's introduction in 2006. This is good news, suggesting that the vaccine is effective, and should result in a reduction in cervical cancer deaths in the long run. Some experts lamented, however, that "only" 49% of females aged 13-17 have received a dose of the vaccine, and "only" 32% have received all three doses recommended by the manufacturer. However, since the same survey found that only 50% of females aged 14-19 have had sex, the findings may suggest that the vaccine is reaching exactly the people who need it -- and not those who don't.
FRC has never objected to the vaccine itself -- only to making it mandatory for minors to attend school, and removing decision-making from parents. Not every female "needs" the HPV vaccine -- those who practice sexual abstinence until marriage and fidelity within marriage have a negligible risk of infection. Those women (and men) who abstain are, at the same time, protecting themselves from other strains of HPV not covered by the vaccine, other STDs, unintended pregnancy, and a range of emotional and relationship problems.
** Congressman Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) has taken a lot of lumps for his passionate position on life. In a feature from today's National Review, read the moving story behind his personal conviction and how he became one of the Hill's leading protectors of the unborn.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.