This Christmas, a Clear and Presents Danger
If you think the malls are busy at Christmas, you should see the atheists! From mangers to tree lightings, America's grinches seem to be on every corner, ready to police the meaning right out of the holiday season. This year, the American Humanist Association (AHA) got an early start on its bah-humbugging by harassing schools that participate in Operation Christmas Child. The goal of the project, which is a long-time outreach of Franklin Graham's Samaritans' Purse, is to fill empty shoeboxes with toys for needy kids around the world. Although the ministry isn't shy about its faith, ministry spokesman Kelly Wells says the real purpose is "to show God's love in a tangible way to disadvantaged children around the world."
And for 20 years, they've succeeded. More than 103 million kids in 130 countries have celebrated Christmas with gifts they could have never afforded -- all thanks to the vision and generosity of Samaritans' Purse. At East Point Academy in South Carolina, administrators were careful to avoid any religious undertones in their two-year partnership with Operation Christmas Child. And while the school intentionally didn't collect or distribute Christian material, that didn't matter to AHA, whose attorneys sent a menacing letter to school administrators warning them to cut ties with the charity -- or else.
To the disappointment of families across East Point, principal Renee Matthews reluctantly agreed, and in a letter to parents explained that the school couldn't afford a courtroom battle over a Christmas toy drive. "We have a very small budget and a very small legal budget. We felt that we could not risk using our school funding for classrooms and teachers to fight a court case." In an "abundance of caution," Matthews wrote, "we are not going to accept Operation Christmas Child Boxes. If you and your child had planned to donate a shoebox of supplies, you are encouraged to find a charity of your choice for the gift."
Unfortunately, this isn't the first time atheists have punished poor children to make a political point. Two years ago, a group of anti-Christian extremists bullied the Air Force Academy into dropping its endorsement of Operation Christmas Child. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation grumbled that cadets were promoting Christianity by participating. Mikey Weinstein, the Foundation's President, said it amounted to "proselytizing." No, what it amounts to is a fringe movement that's willing to snatch toys out of needy kids' hands to fuel their own intolerance.
And liberals claim we're bullies! Obviously, AHA and others are intentionally targeting small schools that don't have the resources to defend themselves. They rely on these rural towns to advance their agenda, because they know that picking this fight with the wrong people would land them on the losing side of a major lawsuit. Meanwhile, the real losers are the children, who have the Left's misguided views to thank for their empty stockings this Christmas. It just goes to show that some atheists are not only godless, they're heartless too.
Albuquerque Maps out City Limits on Abortion
Albuquerque, New Mexico is a long way from Washington, D.C.-- but the two cities seem closer than ever on abortion policy. This week, the desert city is trying to make history by passing a measure very similar to one approved by the House to outlaw abortion after 20 weeks, when babies feel excruciating pain. Although the referendum is technically a local one, Albuquerque's initiative would be felt throughout the whole country, since the city is home to some of America's only late-term abortion providers. For too long, the city has been a destination for death, as moms travel near and far to take advantage of the area's loose laws.
In a sign of just how significant Tuesday's vote is, money is still pouring in from national liberal groups -- including President Obama's Organizing for Action, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU. Although the advertising dollars have been a boost to pro-abortion activists, money may not be as persuasive as the facts -- which all point to the suffering of unborn children and the exploitation of pregnant women. "It's very troubling, very barbaric, very unnecessary procedure that the public needs to [talk] about," said Elisa Martinez of Protect Albuquerque Women and Children.
She, like a lot of local pro-lifers, worked hard to get the measure to this point, collecting a whopping 27,000 signatures in just 20 days, double the number the campaign needed to get the issue on the municipal ballot. Councilwoman Trudy Jones, one of the leading opponents of the proposal, complained about the cost of holding the special election, arguing that Albuquerque could "feed a lot of babies for a million and a half dollars." Well, it could also save a lot of babies for the same amount -- a fact not lost on the local community.
As FRC's Emily Minick points out in a column today for Townhall, America is one of only four countries in the world that allow abortion past the age of viability for any reason. And supporting late-term abortion is the extreme position to hold even here, as 64% of Americans oppose abortion in the second trimester. Fortunately, those Americans are coming together to stand against the inhumanity -- from Texas to New Mexico and Washington, D.C. -- and hopefully, a city near you.
Progress Walks a State Line
Speaking of local leadership, FRC spent time with several people responsible for that success at last week's "Pro-Family Legislators Conference" in Dallas hosted by David Barton. Almost 200 participants, representing 27 states, took part in the event, which focused on the full range of conservative issues. Our own Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (USA-Ret.) spoke at the conference on the threats to religious liberty in the military and in the public square, highlighting FRC's "Clear and Present Danger Report."
His partner in crime, FRC's Ken Blackwell, also took a turn at the podium to discuss Article 2, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution and urged states to rethink the winner-take-all system in the Electoral College. Both Ken and Jerry applauded WallBuilders for putting on the event, which -- unlike so many "conservative" conferences -- refused to put social issues on the backburner. Instead, the program covered everything from life, marriage, and the First Amendment to national security and fiscal responsibility.
Of course, these leaders were no strangers to FRC's mission, since an impressive number of them work with Family Policy Councils in their respective states. While Washington is stuck in a cycle of dysfunction, it's encouraging to see that state legislators are providing the leadership that's advancing the faith, family, and freedom.
** If you didn't catch last week's special order on the U.S. House floor in honor of religious liberty, check out the video below.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.