Businesses, Bathrooms, and Bermuda

Businesses, Bathrooms, and Bermuda

February 09, 2018

Liberals can be like weathermen: they make a lot of predictions that never come true. But at least meteorologists are forecasting in good faith -- studying facts and patterns and trends. The Left, on the other hand, will prophecy doom without a scrap of evidence on its side. And the bathroom debate is exhibit A.

For more than a year and a half, Americans heard about the coming cataclysm for states that defended privacy. An economic storm is brewing, liberals warned, and it'll level anyone brave enough to put safety above political correctness. Headlines about financial ruin covered the front pages of states like North Carolina and Texas, where leaders were battling to keep men out of girls' restrooms, changing rooms, and showers. At one point, a group called the Texas Association of Business claimed that the Lone Star state would lose a whopping $8.5 billion in GDP and 185,000 jobs if it passed the measure that a majority of Texans wanted. The goal was to get people to think twice about the bill. And it worked -- until fact checkers got involved.

Turns out, the figures were completely bogus. Things started to smell fishy when the authors wouldn't talk to PolitiFact. Then there was the matter of the missing citations. More than once, investigators said, "The study footnotes [a] figure] to a web link that doesn't work." Still, the association claimed, "Given that the Texas travel industry has a $31 billion annual impact, a 15 percent reduction would result in an overall loss of $8.5 billion," the study says, "or 0.5% of the state GDP." When the projection wasn't sourced, PolitiFact dug deeper and found a huge discrepancy. Turns out, "the '15 percent' reduction was a typo that should have said '.5 percent,' as the study states otherwise." The result? PolitiFact rated the claim MOSTLY FALSE.

Now, almost a year to the day, there's a lot more than just PolitiFact debunking the Left's lies. Forbes is finishing the job other experts started, cutting out the legs under an already shaky argument in its latest Top States for Business report. Guess where Texas finished? Number two, the state's best showing since 2006. And North Carolina -- ground zero in the bathroom wars? Number one -- a spot above its last two years. So much for privacy debates being bad for business! In fact, of the top 10 states, only ONE (Colorado) has the radical sexual orientation, gender identity (SOGI) law liberals are fighting for. Just as compelling, of the 10 worst states for business on Forbes's list, SIX have SOGI laws for employment and public accommodations (Connecticut, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Maine, New Mexico, and Vermont). So much for SOGIs and religious discrimination being essential to economic success.

Of course, there's other evidence too. In Houston last year, where voters overwhelmingly repealed the city's bathroom bill, the NFL had one of its most prosperous Super Bowl showings to date. Tourism will slump, liberals argued. Revenue will sag. Instead, the game helped Space City to astronomical earnings. And in North Carolina, where the NBA and NCAA instantly regretted pulling key games from the state, business is booming. Despite the Left's prognostications, more companies are running to the state than away from it. Even now, Raleigh is a front-runner for what may be the most lucrative bid of the decade: the next headquarters of Amazon. It's all music to the ears of conservatives, who for two years had to endure the steady drip of negativity about the effect of privacy debates on local economies. And what do we hear from the Left? Crickets.

Unfortunately for the Left, the marketplace isn't the only place they're losing ground. People here (and around the world) are starting to see the consequences of redefining marriage and creating new gender norms. In Bermuda, the legislature just toppled the British territory's same-sex marriage law less than a year after the court ordered it. The rest of the world watched, astonished, as the island did what no other nation has: rolled back same-sex marriage in exchange for domestic partnerships. Minister Walter Brown pointed to the swell of opposition for the court's ruling, saying the Act, "strike[s] a fair balance between two currently irreconcilable groups in Bermuda, by restating that marriage must be between a male and a female while at the same time recognizing and protecting the rights of same-sex couples." It's also in keeping with local sentiment. Two years ago, Bermudans voted 2:1 to outlaw same-sex marriage and civil unions.

Here at home, the tide continues to turn. Attitudes are subtly shifting since Donald Trump made it okay to talk openly about social issues again. The White House certainly hasn't been shy about calling the Left's absurdity what it is. And that may also be reflected in the latest surveys. For the first time in the last few years, Americans are starting to voice their concerns about the saturation of the LGBT agenda in schools, the medical profession, and public. The Harris Poll sent shockwaves through the radical Left this week when it found that Americans were actually more uncomfortable with the in-your-face behavior of people who identify as gay or transgender than before. In other words, the acceptance for that agenda isn't actually growing, they fear, but regressing in a post-Obergefell world.

Then, in another encouraging sign of the changes taking place, Colorado's Joint Budget Committee took the bold step of defunding the state's Civil Rights Commission -- the same radical bureaucrats who targeted Christian baker Jack Phillips for turning down a same-sex wedding cake order. These so-called "civil rights" agencies have been one of the Left's biggest weapons in the crusade against religious liberty. For years, they've used these commissions as a club to punish Christian conservatives for living out their beliefs on issues like marriage. We congratulate and applaud our friends at Colorado Family Action for taking the teeth out of what's become nothing more than a taxpayer-funded extension of the radical Human Rights Campaign.

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

Fake News and Real Consequences

February 09, 2018

What should Christians do in a world of fake news? It's a question I've heard frequently from listeners to my radio show "Washington Watch." Media distortion is a real and present danger, as President Donald Trump knows better than anyone. But in the last several months, the problem has ballooned well beyond the White House gates. The relationship between Americans and the press is rockier than ever -- and not just for conservatives.

As Harvard points out, the skepticism surrounding what used to be one of the country's most respected institution is at an all-time high. A whopping 65 percent of Americans think the mainstream media is full of fake news, including 53 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of independents. An astounding 84 percent of voters said it's hard to know what to believe online. Over the past two years, Gallup has clocked similar numbers across the country, pointing out that more people have "very little" confidence in newspapers. According to Gallup these are the lowest levels of confidence they've ever recorded in the 45 years.

This agenda of intentional deception is raising serious questions about the media -- but the rising skepticism from the public doesn't seem to be prompting the kind of soul-searching that's necessary to snap the press back to respectability. Instead, the media often seems to be digging in deeper, casting its net of deception even wider. Two weeks ago, I was caught up in a headline war of my own when a 45-minute podcast was reduced to a five-word soundbite taken completely out of context. It was sensational and controversial, which is what the media intended when it took a comment I made in a broader conversation and turned it into a national caption that Christians excuse sin.

Like so many news outlets, Politico is desperately trying to understand evangelicals' strong support for the president -- who's made good on his promises but carries plenty of moral baggage. In a lengthy interview, which lasted about 45 minutes, I made the point that Christians weren't rationalizing or excusing bad behavior. Here's the transcript from that conversation. I want you to see the raw transcript from the portion of the interview that other media outlets crafted narratives and headlines from that aren't even close to what I said in this very straight forward podcast with Edward-Isaac Dovere:

Dovere: You know, we have a situation in which it seems this woman is claiming from an interview she did years ago, that she had sex with the president – well, not then the president, but with Donald Trump, three months after his son was born. So he's married and with a porn star, that just seems like what would be a huge problem...

Perkins: Well, it's not -- I would not say it's not a problem. But I would say... I think it's important to understand is that evangelicals did not vote for Donald Trump based on his moral qualifications but based upon what he said he was going to do and who he was surrounding himself with. Now, that was in the context of a general election.

Dovere: Right.

Perkins: When you had Hillary Clinton – who, you know, embraces abortion and the whole homosexual agenda -- and herself does not have a pristine background with some of the stuff between her and Bill. So, that's the context, you've got to put it in that context.

Dovere: That's totally fair. I guess you know well that's 2016 and you get the decisions that were made in 2016. Now it's 2018. Does this give you pause at all?

Perkins: Well... I think he's maturing as president -- and back to what we said earlier, I think from a human being standpoint and a spiritual being standpoint, I think he is maturing as well because of the people he's been around and the influences that he has brought into his life. Again, evangelical support is not unconditional. If the president were to all of the sudden revert back to some of that behavior as president, evangelical support will not be there. So it's basically, we gave him a mulligan. You know, you get a do-over. You can start --

Dovere: A mulligan for 70 years of his life?

Perkins: I mean the guy -- I mean this is what he's committed to. And as long as he commits to that and continues on that, he will have the support of evangelicals.

Dovere: There are people who are not evangelicals who would say this -- and there are some people who are evangelicals but whose politics don't line up with yours who would say -- it's hypocritical to say that you believe in all the things you believe and--

Perkins: But what's the option?

Dovere: Yeah.

Perkins: What's the option? That's what I would ask, what are the options I have? Is one of the options to sit at home and allow Hillary Clinton to --

Dovere: No, no, no but in 2018 --

Perkins: OK, but why should I not support him now when he's actually doing the things that I asked him to do? I mean I say me, but I mean we --

Dovere: Right, right.

Perkins: I mean, he's done more to restore religious freedom given the background over the last eight years than any president we have ever had. He is actually doing what he said: he is keeping his promise. So I have no reason to say, 'Alright, well, 10 years ago you said this, so I am going to drop my support.' Again, it's not unconditional, this President keeps his commitment and his promise to the evangelicals that supported him, and he continues to you know walk this straight and narrow if you will..."

I went on to explain how evangelicals could come to the point of supporting Mr. Trump, I told the reporter that we -- of all people -- understand grace and new beginnings. That message never made it to the majority of Americans. Instead, they opened their web browsers and Twitter feeds to outright lies. "Evangelicals trumpet morality while condoning the rankest sin," was the lead from the Daily Kos. "It's unlikely," Salon scoffed, "that after a lifetime of disingenuousness Tony Perkins and other leaders of the Christian right will admit that their entire crusade was never about 'values.'" The fake controversy explod ed, with the New York Times fanning the flames: "Christian conservatives may believe strongly in their own righteousness. But from the outside, it looks as if their movement was never really about morality at all." "Rank hypocrites," cried the Washington Post. The viciousness dripped from the Left's megaphones, CNN and MSNBC, to print outlets like the New Orleans Times Picayune with a creative license usually reserved for fiction.

The debate raged on this week in editorial pages like USA Today. Fortunately, I had the chance to counter the spin in my own response. Evangelicals, I warned, are not offering blind allegiance.

You have to understand the motive behind these headlines. It's not to uphold a biblical standard of morality. Instead, it's designed to accomplish two objectives in the pursuit of snuffing out the flame of conservative, constitutional governance. The first objective is to discredit evangelicals and try to brand them with the Left's scarlet letter H -- hypocrite. That facilitates their second objective, which is to drive a wedge between the president and evangelical voters so that they don't turn out in record numbers and vote with unity, like they did in 2016. Suppressing the evangelical vote would enable the Left to retake Congress, impeach the president, and pick up where Barack Obama left off with his pro-abortion, anti-Christian policies.

Thankfully, FRC has its own ways of cutting through the media's lies and misrepresentations. Through this publication, along with my daily radio show, we were able to show the intentional distortion of the media. But this episode certainly underscores a lot of things, including the vigilance Christians need to have when they take in today's headlines. It's not enough to know the fake news is out there. As disciples of truth, we have to practice real discernment. Who can you trust? The Update and "Washington Watch" are two daily, reliable options for getting the news you care about from a Christian perspective. If you know people searching for credible commentary, share it! Click here for a station listing and Update sign-up.

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

The Dawn of a New Budget

February 09, 2018

It was over almost as soon as it began, but this morning's government shutdown still happened. While most Americans were counting Zzzs, congressional Republicans were counting votes. And, in a tense debate over the new budget, they didn't have them. The midnight deadline came and went, with members doing everything they could to jumpstart the government before rush hour. The internal battle between defense hawks and fiscal conservatives lasted until dawn, when the House and Senate's compromise finally passed in enough time to take a 5:00 a.m. trip to the White House for the president's signature.

Although the agreement keeps the government running through March 23, neither side was thrilled with the $320 billion package. The deal is particularly significant because it sets the spending caps for military and nondefense spending over the next two years. Conservatives, most vocally the House Freedom Caucus, were frustrated by the GOP's refusal to cut costs. "We support funding our troops but growing the size of government by 13 percent is not what the voters sent us here to do," the group tweeted.

Leaders like Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) struggled to come to grips with the steep costs. Like a lot of Republicans, he thought conservatives could do better.

"This budget deal shows the American people exactly how broken our budget and appropriations process is," he said. "It does not address our runaway deficits and actually takes major steps backwards in the fight to reign in Washington's overspending appetite. Our budget process has only worked correctly four times since 1974. We desperately need budget reform. I'm ashamed that we have passed five continuing resolutions since the end of last Fiscal Year in September. This is no way to govern."

"While I strongly support the budgetary certainty and increased military funding that this bill provides, the long-term negative consequences of the bill are too many. The prevailing theme of debt ceiling negotiations is usually avoiding default, but lost in the conversation is how we got here in the first place, and how we can get out of the cycle of deficit spending."

Good, solid conservatives voted both ways on the bill. Many of our friends probably found themselves on the opposite sides of the roll call for the first time in a long time. As difficult as the details were to swallow, President Trump and others did cheer the $165 billion bump for our troops, which finally ended the long, painful days of sequestration. "Without more Republicans in Congress," he tweeted, "we were forced to increase spending on things we do not like or want in order to finally, after many years of depletion, take care of our Military. Sadly, we needed some Dem votes for passage. Must elect more Republicans in 2018 Election!"

As for other silver linings, FRC was pleased to see the religious liberty protections for FEMA disaster assistance included, as well as a big boost in sexual risk avoidance (abstinence) dollars ($75 million a year for two years), an extension of the funding for community health centers that don't perform abortions, a repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board death panels, and major cuts to the Obamacare slush fund.

I would agree with President Trump with one caveat: we need to elect more conservative Republicans. We need leaders who are willing to go toe-to-toe with the liberals who have pushed America to the verge of fiscal and moral bankruptcy until we prevail.

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.

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