Yes We Kansas!
After two weeks in their home states, let's hope Congress returns today having learned a little bit from their local leaders. In the days since the House and Senate adjourned, a handful of state legislatures have gotten more accomplished on key issues than some Congresses do all term. North Dakota kicked things off by passing a heartbeat bill and tighter restrictions on gender-based abortions. Kentucky got into the act with special protections for religious liberty--even going so far as to override Governor Steve Beshear's veto. Not to be outdone, Alabama legislators gave the thumbs up to a policy that would raise the safety standards in local abortion clinics--while Washington State Senator Randi Becker single-handedly blocked a bill that would have forced every regional health plan to cover abortion.
The beat goes on this week in Kansas, where Governor Sam Brownback is making good on his 2011 promise to build a "culture of life" in the state. Apparently, the former senator is taking that vow literally, as legislation reaches his desk to create The Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center at the University of Kansas. A first of its kind center, MSCTC would treat patients with adult stem cells, train doctors about adult stem cell treatments, educate the public about these pro-life therapies, and create a database of available adult stem cell (ASC) treatments and clinical trials.
FRC's Dr. David Prentice, one of the world's foremost experts on ASC research, educated the legislature and offered compelling testimony on the importance of such a center. The final proposal passed the Senate (31-8) and the House (90-30) late last Friday. At the same time, Kansas leaders also seized the opportunity to become the 14th state to define life "at fertilization" and recognize that "unborn children have interests in life, health, and well-being that should be protected." As part of that life that deserves protection, Kansas legislators used several talking points and information from FRC to outlaw sex-selection abortion as well. Governor Brownback is expected to sign his name to both pieces of legislation very soon, adding some punch to his guest appearance on the Weekly Republican address, in which he told Americans, "You see, you don't change America by changing Washington--you change America by changing the states."
It was a message that New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez certainly took to heart. In a bold move, the Republican Governor stood her ground by vetoing a bill that would open the door to military benefits for homosexuals and treat gay and lesbian partners as "spouses." Moments later, she picked up her pen and signed an almost identical bill to help veterans and their spouses find work--without promoting same-sex partnerships. No wonder she's so popular! Governor Martinez won't bend on principle no matter what the media writes. (The RNC could learn a thing or two from leadership like that.) In the meantime, join us in congratulating these local conservatives! Every victory in the states is thanks to the various Family Policy Councils we partner with. To look them up in your state, click here.
SPLC: 'The Richest Poverty Organization in the World'
Most Christians who enlist in the Army do so to fight terrorists and other enemies of our country--not be called one! Unfortunately for troops sitting in on a recent Army Reserve training briefing, they were surprised to learn that their religious beliefs were one of the training's targets. A presentation by the Reserve's "Equal Opportunity" training on extremism put evangelical Christianity at the top of the threat list, which also featured Catholicism and orthodox Jews. Although an Army spokesman tried to distance the branch from the presenter's slide, it was too late. "The slide was not produced by the Army," insisted George Wright, "and does not reflect our policy or doctrine."
Sadly, it is increasingly reflective of the military under President Obama, as our force shifts to a culture where Christianity is no longer welcomed--but persecuted. When Fox News's Todd Starnes broke the story, Wright admitted that the presenter had gotten her information from--surprise--the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the same organization connected to an act of domestic terrorism by a federal court (the FRC shooting). Col. Ron Crews, a retired Army chaplain who heads up the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, blasted the briefing for citing the SPLC as the source of its findings.
It's even more outrageous considering that the SPLC is the group responsible for the real extremism, as the Weekly Standard details in a stunning cover story called "King of Fearmongers." FRC is a prominent part of the story which exposes how the SPLC's own hate is driving "the richest poverty organization in the history of the world." Charlotte Allen's piece is a must-read as she pulls back the curtain on one of the most dangerous groups in America.
In an anguished message to his congregation, Rev. Rick Warren delivered news that no parent can imagine receiving: that their youngest son, Matthew, had taken his own life after a long struggle with mental illness. "No words," Rick wrote, "can express the grief we feel right now." For a pastor who became a household name with his best-selling book The Purpose Driven Life, this is every parent's worst nightmare.
Although Rick and his wife, Kay, had done everything they could to help Matthew battle his depression, the despair proved to be too overwhelming. The shock and Matthew's loss have been keenly felt in Pastor Warren's 20,000-member Saddleback Church congregation, where he says their family has been "overwhelmed" by people's "love, prayers, and kind words."
Unfortunately, that's not all they've received. In some corners, the media is reporting on the shocking level of animus directed at the Warrens since this weekend's tragedy. Across the internet, writers--some anonymous, some not--are rejoicing in the family's pain and using Matthew's suicide as an opportunity to add to their suffering. Atheists, homosexual activists, and hundreds of other hateful people are pointing the finger at the Warrens as if they were somehow responsible for their son's suicide.
As a father, who cannot possibly comprehend the emotions the Warrens are experiencing, I struggle to find the words to describe anyone assigning blame. For years, Matthew had seen doctors, taken medication, been counseled, and been lifted up in prayer by the handful of people who knew about his condition. It is unfathomable to me that anyone, regardless of their personal differences with the Warren family or the church, would celebrate the agony this family feels.
Grief is no respecter of political parties or religious agendas. And treating it as an opportunity to spread venom--rather than extend compassion--defies the laws of human decency. This kind of ruthless exploitation goes straight to the heart of who these people are and what their movement is all about. If anyone could use the message of hope and redemption taught by Rev. Warren, it's them. In the meantime, we offer our sincerest prayers to Rick, Kay, and the entire Warren family. May they feel God's quiet presence in these difficult days.
Moms of Scouts: All That and Den Some!
If you're a mom who feels like the only one out there opposing the Boy Scouts' potential policy change, think again! Last week, a group called Moms of Boy Scouts launched a Facebook page building on their USA Today op-ed calling on the BSA to keep its ban on homosexual scout leaders in place. Since the page opened, the comments from supportive parents have exploded as more moms get connected and engaged on an issue that could change Scouting forever. Join the movement to urge the Boy Scouts to stay true to their principles! Click over to Moms of Boy Scouts and tell the BSA to stand strong!
Iron Lady Had Nerves of Steel
The IRA bomb had just gone off in the headquarters hotel. One of her Cabinet ministers had been killed, others severely wounded. Surely, with the hotel partially wrecked, with the explosion going off just a few feet from the Prime Minister's own suite, the Conservative Party conference would be postponed. Not a word of it! Mrs. Margaret Thatcher,Britain's indomitable Iron Lady, forged ahead with that meeting. Democracy, she said, must not give an inch to the terrorists.
She defended democracy--against Soviet dictators who built aBerlinwall, against an Argentine military junta that seized the Falkland Islands. Her pivotal election in 1979 coincided with the visit by Pope John Paul II to his native land. There, we heard a million Poles trapped behind an Iron Curtain cry out: "We want God!" Mrs. Thatcher's rise was another early signal of Western democracies recovering their courage.
She welcomed former Gov. Ronald Reagan to Number 10 Downing Street. American liberals dismissed Reagan as not serious, but no one ever said Mrs. Thatcher was not serious. And because she took her friend Reagan seriously, she forced the western liberal media to report on him. Margaret Thatcher was the daughter of a greengrocer, a graduate in chemistry. She tossed out the stale cabbages of socialism and she changed the chemistry of leadership. She made Britain Great again. God rest her soul. -By Bob Morrison, FRC Senior Fellow
** Ken Blackwell had a great feature piece in today's Washington Times on the intolerance of the same-sex "marriage" crowd. Don't miss his column, "The Illiberalism of Assailing Traditional Marriage." FRC's Anna Higgins also had a busy weekend, as the media requested interview after interview on the court's morning-after pill ruling. Check out her news hits here and here!
*** This afternoon, I joined Fox News's Megyn Kelly to talk about the stunning attacks on Rev. Rick Warren in the wake of his son's suicide. Click below to watch.
**** If you missed "Washington Watch with Tony Perkins," click over to TonyPerkins.com tomorrow morning to hear Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) discuss what he's observed about Washington and Congress since taking office in January. Later in the program, I talked with FRC Intern Coordinator Nathan Oppman and intern Nicole Hudgens about the life-changing experience of the FRC internship program. Last but not least, we spoke to Media Research Center's Dan Gainor about the rise of media bias, especially in the coverage of the recent March for Marriage in Washington, D.C.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.