Ruth Speaks Out

This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.


The Medical Risks of Homosexuality and The Values Voters Summit

Sexual revolutionaries consistently change the subject away from medical risks and back to their favorite topic: the hatefulness of anyone who brings them up.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
 
By Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first published on October 24, 2017, at The Stream.

The breathless headlines from the main stream media announced that the nefarious Donald Trump spoke to those nefarious Values Voters. “Trump Just Spoke At An Event Where Guests Were Warned Of ‘The Hazards Of Homosexuality,” BuzzFeed informed its readers. “‘Hazards of Homosexuality’ Flier Distributed at Values Voter Summit” screamed the NBC News headline.

Dig down a bit, what you find is a big nothing burger. The “anti-gay” flyer advertised a book that warned of the medical risks associated with homosexual activity. Oddly enough, the main stream media had no comment on the accuracy of the contents of the book.

Mainstream Media and the Facts


BuzzFeed quoted Gregory T. Angelo, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, an LGBT group, “I’d expect nothing less from the wingnuts at MassResistance.” NBC News quoted Sarah Kate Ellis, president of GLAAD, which they described as a “media watchdog group”: “This morning, addressing a gathering of some of the most extreme anti-LGBTQ activists in the country, Trump once again legitimized hate speech.”

BuzzFeed couldn’t even get the title of the book right, calling it, The Hazards of Homosexuality, when the correct title is The Health Hazards of Homosexuality. Neither BuzzFeed nor NBC News quoted a single person denying a single point in the book, or the advertising flyer. Their stories were about the people who wrote or promoted the book. MassResistance authored it. Dr. Michelle Cretella of the American College of Pediatricians endorsed it. The Family Research Council organized the Values Voters Summit. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated all three organizations as “hate groups.”

Full disclosure: I too, am a certified hater, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. For the sake of argument, let’s take as a given that I am the meanest, most hate-filled person on the planet, and that my hatred is directed at sexual minorities.

Now that we have that out of the way, can we please discuss two serious questions: Is homosexual activity riskier than heterosexual activity? And if it is, does it matter?

Is Homosexual Activity Riskier than Heterosexual Activity?

As a certified hater, I’m friends with most of the other certified haters. I happen to have a copy of The Health Hazards of Homosexuality on my shelf. I’ve read it cover to cover. I have not checked out all 1,800 footnotes. But I am familiar with many of the references cited. Let’s look at a few topics, that can be easily checked with the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control.

Syphilis: the CDC reports that “MSM continued to account for the majority of Primary & Secondary syphilis cases in 2016 (Figures 35 and 36). Of 27,814 reported P&S syphilis cases in 2016, 16,155 (58.1%) were among MSM, including 14,553 (52.3%) cases among men who had sex with men only and 1,602 (5.8%) cases among men who had sex with both men and women (Figure 36).”

HIV: “At the end of 2014, among a total of 722,244 males (aged 13 years and older at year end 2014), 70% of HIV infections were attributed to male-to-male sexual contact.” Bear in mind: Men who have sex with men (MSM) account for about 2% of the population.

Anal Cancer: Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men are 17 times more likely to get anal cancer than heterosexual men. Men who are HIV-positive are even more likely than those who do not have HIV to get anal cancer.

The Grand Narrative

The “wingnuts at MassResistance” quoted figures like these in The Health Hazards of Homosexuality. Do these facts matter? If you are an ordinary person, trying to figure out what to do and what to think, yes, I should think these facts matter greatly to you.

Why marginalize people who publicize facts like these? Because these facts interrupt the Grand Narrative:

Sexual activity is an entitlement for anyone able to give meaningful consent. There is no down-side risk associated with any kind of sex for anyone, if they use a condom every time. And if something bad happens to you, you must not have used the condom correctly or consistently.

In other words, the problems you experience are your fault. The Grand Narrative must never be called into question.

 

This is the same garbage Sexual Revolutionaries have been feeding straight women for years. Never mind the unwanted pregnancies or the STI’s or the broken hearts. Use a condom for “safer sex.” It’ll all be good. And anyone who connects the rather obvious dots between sexual activity and these outcomes, just hates you.

The Grand Narrative won’t work any better for gay men, than it has for us. Yes, of course, I am aware the gay men don’t experience unwanted pregnancies. They have other issues. Former gay porn star Joseph Sciambra reports on his experience with rectal incontinence. Not something most women have to deal with.

My point is this. Sexual Revolutionaries airbrush all the negative consequences out of the picture. They consistently change the subject away from these consequences and back to their favorite topic: the hatefulness of anyone who brings them up.

If you experience same sex attraction, you have choices beyond the Grand Narrative. Even if you have experienced same sex attraction all your life, so consistently that you think you must have been “born that way,” you still have choices about what to do, what to think, and how to describe yourself. The medical risks are not the result of stigma or “hate.” Anal sex is intrinsically risky, so much so, that the Surgeon General once declared it “simply too risky to practice.” Having large numbers of sexual partners increases the risks of STI’s. Anyone who tells you otherwise is not being truthful with you.

If you care about the health and well-being of sexual minorities, you should want them to have full information about the risks associated with various practices. That is what the headlines screaming about “hate” get wrong. And that is what the “wingnuts at MassResistance” get right.

 


Liberals mad Trump spoke at event where guests learned truth about gay STD epidemic

 

Featured Image

by Claire Chretien

This article was first posted October 16, 2017, at Life Site News.

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 16, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Liberal media and LGBT activists are outraged that President Trump spoke at a conference where an exhibitor warned people of the scientifically-documented health risks of sodomy.

On Friday, Trump became the first sitting U.S. President to speak at Values Voter Summit (VVS), an annual gathering of pro-life, pro-family activists hosted by the Family Research Council (FRC). The largely evangelical conference featured a number of Congressmen, pastors, and pro-life advocates.

Mass Resistance, one of the groups tabling in the conference’s exhibit hall, was selling and advertising its book titled The Health Hazards of Homosexuality: What the Medical and Psychological Research Reveals.


Mass Resistance was also selling copies of a book by Dr. Robert Oscar Lopez, a man who was raised by lesbians.

Buzzfeed and NBC News both wrote articles critical of Trump speaking at an event where vendors in the hall advertised for and peddled fact-based books about the risks associated with homosexual behavior.

Dan Gainor, Vice President of Business and Culture at the Media Research Center, said the left-leaning reports were biased.

“Conservatives need to understand that openly left-wing outlets like Buzzfeed will never cover conservatives fairly,” he told LifeSiteNews. “Editor Ben Smith says ‘there are not two sides’ on the issue, so why worry about what they say?”

The book in question used reputable sources for its information, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

“This book brings together information from widely dispersed and hard-to-find sources, summarizing recent medical and psychological research in laymen’s terms,” The Health Hazards of Homosexuality’s Amazon page says. “Sources include the Centers for Disease Control, medical professional groups, published medical research, media reports, plus LGBT medical and advocacy groups – all documented in 1,800 endnotes with up-to-date links.”

The book’s website says it covers “the politicized medical and mental health establishments,” the mental health issues of “depression, anxiety, suicidality, substance use, partner abuse, and BDSM (bondage/sexual sadomasochism),” the “sexual practices of homosexual men and lesbians” and “how HIV/AIDS is re-emerging as an epidemic among homosexual men.”

And it's not just conservative-based outlets that are writing about the sky-rocketing rates of sexually transmitted diseases among active homosexuals.

Just last month, the Washington Blade, which describes itself as “America’s LGBT News Source,” ran an article on the country’s “all-time high” STD rate.

Sexually transmitted “diseases are on the rise in a number of groups, including women, infants, and gay and bisexual men,” the Washington Blade reported. “Between 2015 and 2016, syphilis rates rose nearly 18 percent. Most cases occurred among men, especially gays and bisexuals. Half of the men in those two groups also had HIV, according to the report.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) labels FRC and Mass Resistance “hate groups.” This claim was repeated in media coverage of the flier promoting the book.

USA Today and Newsweek both called FRC a “hate group” in their reports on VVS.

The SPLC’s placement of FRC on its “hate map” inspired the first incident of armed domestic terrorism in Washington, D.C. in 2012. A man shot FRC’s security guard and planned to massacre FRC staff. He said he found FRC because the SPLC labeled it “anti-gay.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, President of GLAAD, said the flier was “unequivocally false and baseless.”

But the evidence says otherwise.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 2014, "gay and bisexual men accounted for an estimated 70% (26,200) of new HIV infections in the United States.” This is despite the fact that “gay and bisexual men made up an estimated 2% of the U.S. population” that year.

“The comments in the BuzzFeed article are very revealing: none of them deny the facts, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control,” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Founder and President of the Ruth Institute, told LifeSiteNews.

“Who is the real hater here?” Morse asked. “The person who points out highly skewed patterns of risk, or the person who understates or diverts attention [away from] from those risks?”

“No one has claimed that the book isn’t accurate or false,” Brian Camenker of Mass Resistance told LifeSiteNews. “They just don’t like that the information is being made available.”

The secular website WebMD reports that homosexual practice has "downsides.”

“There are a number of health risks with anal sex, and anal intercourse is the riskiest form of sexual activity for several reasons,” it states.

“Studies have suggested that anal exposure to HIV poses 30 times more risk for the receptive partner than vaginal exposure,” WebMD says.

“The anus is full of bacteria,” meaning even if neither partner has an STD, there’s still a chance of infections, it adds.


The Toxic Ideas that Enabled Weinstein and Others

by Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first posted October 26, 2017, at Crisis Magazine.

The Media-Entertainment Complex claims to be “shocked, shocked, I tell you,” to learn that powerful Hollywood men like Harvey Weinstein engage in a systematic pattern of sexual assault. Those of us outside Hollywood are not the slightest bit shocked. In fact, a lot of us in Fly-Over Country are just waiting for other powerful men to be implicated. This situation gives us an opportunity to unmask the ideology that enable predators like Weinstein.

One of the most revolutionary ideas of our time is that a good and decent society ought to separate sex and childbearing from each other. The Grand Narrative goes something like this:


Caring for unwanted children is an unjust demand on women. Sexual activity without a live baby is an entitlement for men and women alike. People need and are entitled to sexual activity. A life without sex is scarcely worth living.

Do I exaggerate? Perhaps a bit. But the United Nations makes a claim that is very nearly that stark. On its “Frequently Asked Questions” page, the United Nations Population Fund answers the question “What is Reproductive Health?”

Reproductive health can be defined as a state of well-being related to one’s sexual and reproductive life. It implies, according to the ICPD Programme of Action, “that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so.” (para. 7.2)

The United Nations never quite explains who has the responsibility to provide us with a “safe and satisfying sex life.” As for having the “capability to reproduce the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so”: that should not be rocket science, requiring a whole “Programme of Action.” A person who judges that the time is not right for a baby, has the option of not having sex. Pretty simple.

Evidently, it is not that simple. Somehow, the United Nations does not expect people to go without sex, even temporarily and even for serious reasons. Hence my initial claim: these people believe sex is an entitlement.

So here’s a question for the ordinary people, not employees of the United Nations, or Hollywood: who believes people are “entitled” to sex?

The rapist, that’s who:

I am entitled to sex. I am entitled to have only and precisely the consequences of sex that I choose to bear. I am not required to have responsibility for a child. I am not required to be committed to my sex partner. I can use people. I can do anything I can get away with.

Add to this mentality, the “pro-woman,” “feminist” position that men and women are identical in their sexual desires, that a hip modern woman craves sex without attachment, that only prudes and uncool losers even consider saving sex for marriage, and what do you get? A whole lot of women ideologically delivered over to predators.

Abortion is a “woman’s right to choose.” But how often are women pressured into having abortions by powerful men in their lives, employers, teachers, clergymen, even their fathers, to have abortions in order to cover up the evidence of predation? We don’t really know. No one seems to think this question is worth asking.

What does this have to do with Harvey Weinstein and his string of victims? Just this. Weinstein was a “bundler” for the Democratic Party. That means he raised a lot of money for the party that just happens to be completely committed to abortion on demand for any reason at any point during pregnancy. According to Business Insider, he contributed over $2 million to Democratic candidates, between his personal gifts and his activities as a “bundler.” He thought he was entitled. He had the power and money to get away with it. He used some of that power and money to keep the legal, political, and social climate favorable to that belief system.

It is quite true that the Republican Party has its share of predators. It is also true that many powerful Republicans wish the social issues and social conservatives would all go away. These people view the pro-life wing of the party as an embarrassment.

In all times and places, powerful men have abused their power, raped and assaulted women. It would be foolish to deny this. The difference today is that the moral structures that used to limit powerful men have been systematically dismantled.

“‘Right’ and ‘Wrong’ are social constructs.”
Who benefits from that? The already-powerful.

“Sex is an entitlement.”
Who benefits from that? Those with the power to cash in on their entitlement.

The Democratic Party is distancing itself from Weinstein by making a big show of giving his contributions to “charity.” But when you drill down, you see the DNC gave away only 10 percent of the money Weinstein gave them. They gave to vehicles for getting women involved in pro-Sexual Revolutionary politics: Emily’s List, Emerge America, and Higher Heights. Please. Meanwhile, Weinstein spent much of his career making Catholic-bashing films, thus undermining his ideological opposition.

Alpha Males in both parties, in business, law and academia, like the Sexual Revolution, just the way it is. Their concern for victims of sexual assault is strictly for show, will quickly fade. They like an ideological system that presents them with a steady flow of willing sex partners. They like a legal system that permits them to wipe out pregnancies, and hence excuse them from the responsibilities of fatherhood. They like a Media Entertainment Complex that covers for predators, and marginalizes their victims and opponents. They are quite willing to invest their own millions of dollars to keep the political system firmly in the hands of those who keep this system chugging along.

That should be the real wake-up call from the Harvey Weinstein scandals.

(Photo credit: AP)

 





Vanco Doesn’t Want My Business. Or Yours.

If you are a social conservative, big business does not want your business.

By Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first published on October 20, 2017, at The Stream.

If you’re a social conservative, big business does not want your business. I found that out the hard way. Vanco, the company that used to process on-line donations for my organization, the Ruth Institute, informed us that they would no longer do business with us. A few weeks later, they came back to us to say they could “reinstate” our account. We asked them a few pointed, but polite, questions. Based on their (non)answers, I concluded they don’t need our business.

That’s ok. I don’t need them either.

Here’s what happened.

At 2 PM on August 31, 2017, we received this terse email:


Vanco has elected to discontinue our processing relationship with The Ruth Institute. The organization has been flagged by Card Brands as being affiliated with a product/service that promotes hate, violence, harassment and/or abuse. Merchants that display such attributes are against Vanco and Wells Fargo processing policies.”

We went to our website and discovered they had already closed our processing. No notice. Zip. Nada.

We issued a news release:

  • The Ruth Institute’s primary focus is family breakdown, and its impact on children: understanding it, healing it, ending it. If this makes us a “hate group,” so be it.
  • Vanco, Card Brands, and Wells Fargo are private businesses. The Ruth Institute respects their right to conduct their businesses as they see fit. We just wish wedding photographers, bakers, and florists received the same respect.

We had to inform our monthly donors that we would have to make other plans to process their contributions. Naturally, they were upset. Some of our friends sent letters to Vanco. We had a petition, asking Vanco to reconsider their reliance on the Southern Poverty Law Center, presumably the source of their designation of us as a “hate group.”

For whatever reason, we received a phone call from the CFO of Vanco on September 26. She told me they had reviewed our case and they could reinstate our account. I asked her to send me a letter. Here is what she sent:

Jennifer, thank you for the conversation yesterday. As discussed on our call, Vanco has completed our re-underwriting process with our Banking partner and secured the ability to reinstate The Ruth Institute as a client. If you would like to reinstate your account, please contact me at the email above.

The rest of the letter was a description of their pricing. As if price were my principle consideration.

I replied on September 29:

For us to consider returning to Vanco, we would require, at a minimum, the following:

  • An explanation of why we were terminated. What policies had we violated?
  • An explanation of the investigation which took place which uncovered these violations.
  • The appeals process a client could go through, should we, or any other client, find themselves in this position of immediate, unexplained termination.
  • An explanation of the “re-underwriting process (which) … secured the ability to reinstate The Ruth Institute as a client.” What exactly changed between August 31st and September 26th?
  • A personal, and a public apology. Neither your phone call, nor your email contained even a hint of an apology.

I am sure you can understand that switching credit card processing is no small matter. We finally have our new systems up and running. All things considered, it would take an extraordinary effort on your part to get us back. Your correspondence thus far, does not rise to that level.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Her reply:

As discussed on the phone and via email, Vanco has secured the ability to reinstate The Ruth Institute as a client. Based on your feedback, we understand you are working with another payment processor. Please know that if for some reason that does not work out, we would welcome the opportunity to have you back as a client.

In other words, still no apology. Not even any acknowledgement of our questions. No recognition of any inconvenience to us or wrong-doing by them.

Vanco markets itself to religious organizations. “More churches trust Vanco for e-Giving than any other faith-based payments provider! 20,000 churches and growing.” Yet, Vanco dropped us because we hold views about marriage, family and human sexuality that were the belief of all Christian groups, until five minutes ago. In fact, a PJ Media story had this headline: “Will the Southern Poverty Law Center Brand the Roman Catholic Church a ‘Hate Group’?”

Many of our supporters are believers: Catholics, Evangelicals, and Latter-Day Saints. They had already figured out that if the Ruth Institute is a “hate group,” then so are they. These are the people who pay the fees Vanco collects. We don’t pay: our donors pay. These dear people give us $10 or $25 per month. They deserve an explanation and apology. Reinstating service with Vanco without both an explanation and apology would be breaking faith with them.

Vanco has not admitted any connection with the Southern Poverty Law Center, (SPLC) nor any pressure from Wells Fargo. But Vanco is acting as if they believe the position of the SPLC is correct. Vanco boasts that it processes over $13 billion in transactions. This is not a small organization. Neither is Wells Fargo (whatever their part in this whole affair may be.) And neither is the Southern Poverty Law Center. Their CEO’s salary is more than the entire budget of the Ruth Institute.

All I know is that these groups participated in a public shaming of my organization. Indirectly, they have slandered everyone who has ever given me ten bucks. I’m not going to stand for it. They have made it clear that they don’t need my business.

So be it. The Ruth Institute doesn’t need them. I bet your church doesn’t need them either.


Instead of ‘The Benedict Option’, Consider ‘The Marian Option’

by Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first published July 8, 2017, at Clash Daily.

The Benedict Option has taken up a lot of bandwidth in cultural conservative circles, more than it deserves, frankly. A much better book has come out: The Marian Option by philosophy Ph.D. and homeschooling mother of four, Dr. Carrie Gress.

Before I tell you about the book, let me tell you a joke related Dr. Gress relates. You may have already heard this joke. Bear with me.


A man whose house is flooding is confident that God will save him. As the water rises, a farmer in a truck comes by to offer him a ride. “Oh, no, the Lord will save me!” Next, as the water rises to the first floor of his home, a rescuer in a boat comes by. “Oh, no, the Lord will save me!” he says, again refusing help. Finally, perched on his roof because the water has nearly covered his entire home, a helicopter comes by to pluck him off the shingles. “Oh, no, the Lord will save me!” The man is washed away and drowns. At his arrival at the pearly gates, the man says to God, “Why didn’t you save me?” God says, “I tried. I sent a truck, a boat and a helicopter”.

I’ll come back to this joke.

The subtitle of the book encapsulates Dr. Gress’s theme: God’s Solution to a Civilization in Crisis. Throughout history, Mary has come through during multiple confrontations with Islam. The Christian West won the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, while the entire city of Rome prayed the Rosary. Polish King Jan Sobieski defeated the Turks on September 11, 1683, after asking Our Lady of Czestochowa to intercede with her Divine Son. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.

Then there is the most famous apparition of the twentieth century, Our Lady’s visit to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. She made geo-political predictions the illiterate children simply could not have invented. No less an intellectual than Pope St. John Paul II credited Our Lady of Fatima for her aid in the collapse of communism.

You may think these are all overwrought ravings of hysterical simpletons. You should know that getting Church approval for an apparition is quite rigorous. Hundreds of alleged apparitions have NOT been approved as being of supernatural origin, or worthy of belief.

I recommend Carrie Gress’s book, The Marian Option, if you are looking for simple ways to fight the spiritual battles of our time. Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option is not as useful, principally because people can’t figure out what the heck he is talking about. The Marian Option has no such problem. Anyone can carry out the simple acts of devotion Dr. Gress suggests. Even children. In fact, perhaps, especially children.

I am well aware this is not a Catholic publication. And I am certainly aware that many non-Catholic Christians are fearful about “Mary worship.” When the Gospel of John refers to “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” we might assume he is talking only about himself. But Jesus loves each of us, doesn’t He? So, we can put ourselves into that slot: when John says, “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” we can see ourselves. On that perfectly innocent reading, Jesus meant for His mother to be the mother of us all, the entire human race, when He said, “Behold your mother.” (John 19:26-27)

Catholics don’t worship Mary. We never did. No offense, but that is so five hundred years ago. We’ve got other things to worry about. Like the complete de-Christianization of the West.

If you’re a lapsed Catholic, you already know how to talk with the Mother of God. I’ve never heard of anyone who left the Catholic Church over Mary. People leave because they are mad at God, or at a priest, or because they are fed up with the hypocrisy and lukewarm-ness. But I have never heard anyone say they were angry at Mary. In fact, I’ve heard people say that Marian devotions are one of the things they miss about being Catholic. I felt that way when I was away from the Church for twelve years.

Back to the joke I opened with. I can imagine Jesus saying to us:

“I sent my mom to Portugal in 1917. I sent her to Belgium in 1932 and again in 1933. I sent my mom to the Netherlands. (1945) She went to Japan in 1973 and Venezuela in 1976. I sent my mom to Nicaragua in 1980 and to Rwanda in 1981. I sent her to Argentina in 1983, and to Brazil in 1994 and to Egypt 6 times between 1968 to 2009. Her message has always been the same: love God. Do penance for your sins and those of others. Say the Rosary, meditating on her life and Mine. These are simple things anyone can do. Get a clue, people.”

I’m pleading with you, whatever your Christian background may be. Forget The Benedict Option. Pick up The Marian Option. Consider talking with the Mother of God. Talking with her does not equal worshiping her. Trust me: she will lead you closer to her Divine Son. I mean, why would she want to do anything other than that?

Who knows: her intercession may just bail us out one more time.

Image: Square to the Basilica of Fatima; Excerpted from: Neokvp – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10259604

 



On Important Issues, the Alt-Right and Life-Style Left Agree

By Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first published September 2, 2017, at The Stream.

The dust has settled on the clash between the Alt-Right and the Left in Charlottesville. But the labeling (or libeling) of conservatives will be back. Powerful people and organizations on the Left want to link the Alt-Right with the entire Right, as a way of discrediting all conservatives.

I’m a Catholic, pro-life, pro-family Christian. No one would ever expect the Left to speak for me. But the Alt-Right does not speak for me either. In fact, I’ll say something stronger: The Alt-Right and the Life-Style Left have more in common with each other than either of them have with me and my friends.


Here’s why. My friends and I find eugenics self-evidently repulsive. But both the Life-Style Left and the Alt-Right take the correctness of eugenics for granted.

Eugenics Alt-Right and Left

An article entitled, “The Pro-Life Temptation” published on a website entitled, Alt-Right.com, explicitly defends eugenics. “The alt Right appreciates what is superior in man, in the Nietzschean sense … The pro-life position is clearly dysgenic….”

Leftwing advocates for abortion do not tend to promote it as a eugenic measure. But they do promote the idea that a woman may have an abortion for any reason or no reason. And most abortion advocates would consider the desire to avoid a child with a disability a no-brainer of a reason for an abortion.

The Leftist may not have such an elaborate justification as the Alt-Rightist has for why killing a disabled child prior to birth is morally acceptable. But the mother’s desires trump all other moral considerations. If she thinks a disabled child would be too burdensome, expensive or painful to raise, that judgment is sufficient to justify killing the child before birth.

You could call it consumer-sovereignty eugenics. Give the customer whatever she wants. If the consumer of child-services wants a healthy baby, she is entitled to one. If she anticipates having an unhealthy baby, she is entitled to dispose of it.

Pro-Life Ethics vs. “Temptation”

The pro-life Christian takes a different view. Each child is an unrepeatable gift from God. We ask ourselves, “What is God trying to say to me, by giving me this particular child?” Christian families of Down Syndrome children, (are there any other kind any more?) and the Santorum family with their Trisomy 18 daughter Bella, have a profound answer to this question. God gave us this child to teach us how to love. This answer is unintelligible to both the Alt-Right and the Life-Style Left.

The author at Alt-Right.com continues with his diatribe against the “pro-life temptation”:

We on the alt Right have an appreciation of tribalism and identity. We realize that people are not just autonomous individuals. Life gains its meaning through connections to other members of our families, tribes, and nations. …

The unborn fetus has no connection to anyone else in the community. If it is not even wanted by its own mother, criminalizing abortion means that the state must step in and say that the individual has rights as an individual, despite its lack of connection to any larger social group. …

If there were to be a pro-life position that we could accept, it would be based on arguments about what is good for the community. The case would have to be made that abortion is what is decimating the White population and decreasing its quality. While it’s true that a blanket ban on abortion would probably increase the White population in their numbers, it would, no doubt, decrease the overall quality, as well and leave all races stupider, more criminally prone, and more diseased. …

The Left Has No Answer to the Alt-Right

It’s true that the Life-Style Left does not generally make this type of pro-abortion argument. But they also have no coherent answer to it. When pro-life legislators try to restrict sex-selective or race-specific abortions, the pro-abortion crowd has nothing to say except, “No! No restrictions on ‘choice!’” Under their breath, we can hear the embarrassed whisper, “No matter how heinous the reason for the choice!”

Sex-selection abortion is an odious fact. Some demographers talk about “117 million missing girls,” the excess of the abortions of female over male babies. The Life-Style Left surely must know this by now. They tacitly defend it, by refusing to oppose it.

Likewise, they are surely aware that black women have a disproportionate share of abortions. If they weren’t aware of it, Pastor Walter Hoye II, President of the Issues 4 Life Foundation, made them aware of it with his billboards showing cute black babies with the headline, “Endangered Species.” Or “too many aborted.” Reverend Hoye posted these billboards in predominantly black neighborhoods a few years ago, in Oakland and Los Angeles. The pro-abortion people went ballistic.

The Alt-Right supports killing black babies in utero. The Life-Style Left won’t come right out and agree with this view. But they refuse to condemn it.

The Christian Pro-Life Position

The Christian pro-life position is completely different. We are not interested in tribal identities. We believe that every human being is made in the image of God. We really are all equal, in that context, and perhaps only in that context. For every one of us is “wonderfully made.” Yes, even the diseased and disabled, whom the Alt-Right considers “unfit.” Even the “unwanted,” whom the pro-abortion Left literally considers non-persons. The ability to give and receive love is every bit as important to human identity as IQ or health or self-awareness or any of the other arbitrary criteria the pro-abortion people left and right have come up with.

This is why I am increasingly unwilling to position myself anywhere on the Left-Right political spectrum. I am a Catholic Christian. I am not at home in either political party, or in any political movement.

Main Stream Media, go ahead and try to pin the “Alt-Right” label on me. Alt-Right volk, go ahead and attack me for being not part of your tribe. I couldn’t care less. I and my fellow Christians, are truly “not of this world.” “Follower of Jesus” is the only label I want. May I be worthy of it.


Should faithful Christians do business with Vanco? Draw Your Own Conclusions

Vanco was the Ruth Institute's payment processor for donations from 2015 until August 31, 2017. We have recorded many of the news stories as well as our press releases in this space. We want to let our friends know that we received additional correspondence from them. We record it here in its entirety, without comment. You may draw your own conclusions. 

On Tuesday, September 26, the CFO of Vanco called and left a message for the Ruth Institute. I returned her call. She informed me that they would be willing to reinstate us. I was polite, and asked her for the details of what she proposed. This is what she sent me, the following day: 

Wednesday, September 27: 

Jennifer, thank you for the conversation yesterday. As discussed on our call, Vanco has completed our re-underwriting process with our Banking partner and secured the ability to reinstate The Ruth Institute as a client. If you would like to reinstate your account, please contact me at the email above.

Also, if desired, we can restart your recurring transactions.

Your previous pricing for our services was a historical pricing plan that provided the following rates:

  • Monthly fee $5.00
  • Card fees: 2.75% processing fee + $.45 per transaction
  • ACH fees: 2.00% processing fee + $.35 per transaction

Our current published rates may be more advantageous for you depending on your forecasted mix between card and ACH and number of transactions. We are willing to reinstate you at your historical rate or you may choose from our current published plans. I’m happy to discuss if you have any questions.

Further, since you will be reinstated as a new customer, we would like to offer you our current promotions that we are currently offering to new customers. They are as follows:

  • Monthly Fee
    • First three months of 2018 monthly fees waived (January, February, March) if any new client has at least 5 individual members set-up a re-occurring transaction prior to December 31, 2017
  • Give+ Kiosk
    • First 3 months of monthly fee waived with the purchase of a kiosk

 

Jennifer Dorris, CPA

Chief Financial Officer

400 Northridge Road |Suite 1200

Atlanta, Georgia 30350

Main: 404-492-6600

On Friday, September 29, I sent her the following

Dear Ms. Dorris,

I received your email of September 27, 2017, in response to our telephone call of the previous day. As you know, your company discontinued your service with us without notice on August 31, 2017. For us to consider returning to Vanco, we would require, at a minimum, the following:

  • An explanation of why we were terminated. What policies had we violated?
  • An explanation of the investigation which took place which uncovered these violations.
  • The appeals process a client could go through, should we, or any other client, find themselves in this position of immediate, unexplained termination.
  • An explanation of the “re-underwriting process with our Banking partner and secured the ability to reinstate The Ruth Institute as a client.” What exactly changed between August 31st and September 26th?
  • When we signed up in 2015, this was the service agreement in effect. Would this agreement be in effect for us now, or is there a more current version?
  • Who exactly is Card Brands, the company mentioned in the August 31st message discontinuing our service?
  • What role does Wells Fargo play in your decision-making?
  • A personal, and a public apology. Neither your phone call, nor your email contained even a hint of an apology.

Ms. Dorris, we have many small monthly donors. As you well know, these are the people who pay the fees Vanco collects. We don’t pay: our donors pay. These dear people who give us $10 or $25 per month were most upset with Vanco when we had to call them and tell them about this situation. They deserve an explanation and apology. Reinstating service with Vanco without both an explanation and apology from you would be breaking faith with our friends and supporters. We simply cannot do this.

I am sure you can understand that switching credit card processing is no small matter. We finally have our new systems up and running. All things considered, it would take an extraordinary effort on your part to get us back. Your correspondence thus far, does not rise to that level.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse,

Founder and President,

The Ruth Institute

On Monday October 2, we received the following: 

As discussed on the phone and via email, Vanco has secured the ability to reinstate The Ruth Institute as a client. Based on your feedback, we understand you are working with another payment processor. Please know that if for some reason that does not work out, we would welcome the opportunity to have you back as a client.

Best, Jennifer Dorris

These documents speak for themselves. I will say no more. Thank you for your support. 


Interview with Brenda Baietto, Esq.

Interview with Brenda Baietto, Esq., (left) coauthor with Jennifer Johnson (right) on the American Bar Association Journal article advocating for Family Structure Equality

Dear readers,

I was blessed with an opportunity to coauthor an important article for the American Bar Association Journal regarding the “family structure equality” argument I make in my book, Marriage and Equality.

Brenda Baietto, Esq., of Tampa Mediations, is the lawyer who spearheaded this opportunity. She reached out to me in May. We worked collaboratively to get the article published, and it was published in September. You can read the article here.

I want to introduce Brenda to our Ruth Institute audience. Here is an interview I conducted with her about the article.

Jennifer Johnson (JJ): Tell me about the opportunity you had to write for the ABA Journal. When and how did that opportunity arise?

 


 

Brenda Baietto (BB): This opportunity arose back in May of this year as a result of a very good friend of mine named Florence M. Johnson, Esq who I met in law school and have stayed friends with since.She is an accomplished litigation attorney in Memphis TN, active in her local and state Bars, the national American Bar Association (ABA) and, for the last year or so has headed the Practice Pointers section of the Minority Trial Law Section of Litigation for the ABA.She asked me to consider writing a practice pointer piece on mediation for the target audience of trial lawyers.She wanted to give me an opportunity because she is a generous person and trusted me that I would produce a solid piece.

JJ: Of all the interesting people and legal topics you could have chosen to write with and about, why did you pick me and the "family structure equality" (FSE) that I make in my book?

BB: I picked you and your argument to write about because after reading it I knew you had put to words concepts that had been floating around in my head for some time especially as these concepts relate to family law, specifically divorce.And you were so very authentic.Your personal story has big impact precisely because it is so real.It cuts to the heart.More to it, after the decision in Obergefell [Editor’s note: Obergefell was the Supreme Court decision in 2015 that legalized same-sex marriage throughout the United States], it was becoming more and more common to hear (from potential clients, other attorneys and in continuing legal ed seminars) about the creation and dismantling of new and different family structures and that these new structures have legal protection, deserve legal protection - all this with no discussion about the children other than an underlying belief that when adults are happy so are kids.So the predominant theme I am seeing in my legal community and reading about nationally is to support these new structures strictly based on compassion/sentiment for adult choices.It was surprising to me.

Your topic touched on these issues and I knew I had something to add.It was just a matter of putting it together such that it could fit into what Florence was asking of me.Since it was not going to fit into a practice pointer context, we discussed making it a short article and submitting it for consideration.

JJ: Your insight was to apply the FSE argument to the "best interests of the child standard." Why is that standard a good area to apply the FSE argument?

BB: In the context of divorce law, the best interest of the child standard is something we family lawyers and judges really see as the cornerstone of child custody/timesharing decisions. Judges and lawyers take very seriously their respective roles in determining what exactly is in the best interest of a child and work with a generous spirit to do what they think is “best.”However, the best interest standard traditionally focuses on “factors” that spring from either a previously accepted or “legal” arrangement whether or not the arrangement is “good” in and of itself for the child or from a decision to divorce which is accepted without question.Never are these accepted arrangements or decisions analyzed from a best interest of the child standard and it seems only logical to do so.Jennifer’s article made that easy because it gracefully begs the issue of what is in the best interest of the child and highlights a glaring deficiency in limiting the best interest standard to a sort of “after the fact” analysis.

JJ: What do you foresee as a positive outcome that can happen in the life of a child if a judge relies on the FSE argument?

BB: It is my belief that with rampant no fault divorce as well as the emergence of more and more diverse “family systems,” as they are called, children are being valued more as a commodity and not as human persons with dignity.In surrogacy contract cases, for example, children are property and where a dispute over custody arises between the surrogate and the buyer, many state laws subject the child only to property laws based on the contract and refuse to even entertain a best interest analysis at all.This loss of dignity brings with it the loss of understanding of what is truly in their best interest as humans who are alive in society as children, teens and adults.How we see children’s best interest is part and parcel of how we see the best interest of the family in society.

If judges and lawyers begin relying on the FSE argument several positive outcomes will result:first, society will have to face the very real issues children suffer as a result of no fault divorce and diverse family structures including the grief so many adult children have experienced due to structural inequality.This could very well lead to a renewed interest in natural marriage and a rethinking of the import of children in society; second, the “best interest” standard will broaden and deepen bringing meaningful protections to children who as of now are wholly subject to the whims and desires of adults; third, the legal system will no longer be a wedge between a child and his biological parents blocking a child’s most natural desire to know who he is and creating stressors in the child that he would never dream could happen, i.e. will I marry my sister without realizing it? ; and finally, and so important, children will regain their dignity as humans and not a “thing” that is more and more being viewed only as a byproduct of adult desires.

JJ: Why do you think the Minority Trial Lawyers picked up the article, and not some other group within the ABA Journal?

BB: Because, as I understand better now and did not realize before, my friend Florence is particularly involved with the Minority Trial Lawyer section and she submitted the article directly through that channel. I do think, however, it is a gift that the article is published in the Minority Trial Lawyer Section.The FSE argument is meaningful to minorities when it is part and parcel of an overall understanding of the disproportionate impact of the welfare state on black families followed by the legalization of abortion in 1973 which had and continues to have a devastating effect of the black family. Supporting policies that reverse these programs and encourages a return to the natural triad family will help strengthen inequalities felt by children in the black community and begin to create generations that are more stable.

“According to a recent PEW report, 48% of nonwhites want to get married but say financial instability is the reason they do not.One factor, which must be taken into account, is the disproportionate impact of the welfare state following the civil rights movement. Major welfare programs established in the late 1960s, which required recipients to be unmarried to qualify, followed shortly thereafter by the legalization of abortion in 1973, had a devastating effect on the black family.Data we have today should provoke a sense of urgency to focus policy on reversing the damage done by years of programs that have hurt the very low-income communities they were supposed to help.” From: https://townhall.com/columnists/starparker/2017/09/20/marriage-collapse-white-andblack-n2383765

We need policies that protect life and encourage marriage, ownership and individual responsibility and that includes the FSE argument.

JJ: Is there anything else you want our audience to know about the article?

BB: I want the audience to know that the truths in this article must get out into the world and be discussed.This article is a first step to beginning a dialogue that heretofore was just not done and can focus on real analysis and exchange about the welfare of the family and children. Even more than that, it is about each of us living the truth of the natural family and letting others know that you do so in a spirit of love and devotion to the Lord whose precepts we accept and live out loudly.

 



Diverse Family Structure: Reevaluating the Best-Interests-of-the-Child Standard

by Jennifer Johnson (left) and Brenda A. Baietto, Esq.

This article was first published September 11, 2017, at Americanbar.org.

Due to no-fault divorce and "diverse family structures," children often experience a form of inequality that is largely ignored. With lawyers and judges focused on a liberty that is defined as adults' happiness with their family structure choices, there is little focus on the inequalities these choices create for children. The legal profession readily supports the thinking that a happy adult makes for a happy child, yet we disregard a century of jurisprudence linking the state's interest in natural marriage to children and their formation and the substantial body of literature linking children and communities flourishing with the stable presence within a family of married, biological parents. Nor does the "best interests of the child" standard address this form of structural inequality. Finally, it is only fair to consider the testimonies of the children affected, especially once they are old enough to separate appropriately from their parents, examine their childhoods in an objective manner, and then decide for themselves how fair and just it was.

Family Structure Equality for Children


There is a kind of equality for children that deserves attention. It is called "family structure equality." It is the idea that most children should have the same kind of family structure, one founded on the lifelong marriage of their own married mother and father, also known as natural marriage. This is humanity's anthropological truth, our foundation—preexisting the law of marriage. Diagrammatically, this is represented as an inverted triangle, with the couple's child or children at the third point. This triad, in line with overwhelming social science evidence (both past and present), is the family structure that best ensures equality for children—equality of love, belonging, and security. When the family breaks down or doesn't form according to the triad, the inequalities for children multiply. Here are three ways this happens.

1. Two half-time dads do not equal one full dad. When parents divorce, a child can spend his or her childhood going back and forth between "two homes." If both parents remarry, that child can conceivably have a male father figure in each home. So the child has two half-time dads: a dad and a step-dad. For that child, however, having two half-time dads does not equal having one full-time dad. To a casual observer, it might seem as though the child being with each of them half the time would be the same as having one whole dad. But for one of the authors of this article, Jennifer Johnson, who was raised by divorced parents, it was not:

I am not 100 percent sure how I came to this realization, but I do remember thinking it as I stood in the driveway one day when I was about 12 years old. I remember feeling terrible about the messed-up nature of my family, how alone I was in it, and how it was never going to change.

Perhaps I came to this realization because I was an eyewitness to what a full-time dad looked like. My step-dad was a full-time dad to my half-sister. She lived with both her married parents, my mom and my step-dad. I could see that what she had and what I had were two different things. In each home, I needed to pretend that my other parent (and that parent's family) did not exist, meaning they were not welcome. Family photos of other people's whole families were on the walls, but not of my whole family. Group family photos were taken and hung on the walls, but I wasn't in them. I was the only one who had divided Christmases, divided birthdays. While all this was going on for me, I am acknowledging everybody's mother and father and their whole families. But mine was not acknowledged. Thus, I had no real sense of family and home.

Jennifer Johnson, Marriage and Equality: How Natural Marriage Upholds the Ideal of Equality for Children (Ruth Institute 2017).

2. Non-triad arrangements. Other types of non-triad arrangements have inequalities as well. Children who are conceived from anonymous gametes must pretend that half of who they are does not exist.

If the parents were raised inside the intact triad, then there is an inequality between the parents and the children because there are two different standards being applied. The child must pretend that half of himself or herself does not exist, while the child's parents do not. A study was conducted in 2010 of young adults who had been conceived through sperm donation. Two-thirds of them agreed with this statement: "My sperm donor is half of who I am." Elizabeth Marquardt et al., My Daddy's Name Is Donor: A New Study of Young Adults Conceived Through Sperm Donation (Inst. for Am. Values 2010).

"It's going to be heartbreaking for him (Zachary) to grow up and realise he hasn't got a mummy." Elton John (quoted in Sarah Nathan, "It Will Break My Son's Heart to Realise He Hasn't Got a Mother," Daily Mail, July 15, 2012).

The wedge between a child and the gamete donor represents the legal system. It permanently blocks children from knowing half of their family trees. In some cases, this includes falsifying the child's birth certificate with the social parent's name. Consider the additional stressors these kids endure:

Who is my donor?
Who are my half-siblings?
Will our paths cross?
Will I accidentally marry one of them?

This is an inequality in their family structure that neither their parents nor their peers share, with stressors that their parents and their peers can hardly even imagine.

3. Disenfranchised grief. If a child thinks or feels something about the inequality he or she experiences, the child's thoughts and feelings may not be welcome. To welcome those thoughts and feelings might cast doubt on the structure of the family and call into question the adults' freedom to make those choices. Thus, the child suffers a disenfranchised grief, one not accepted by the wider culture. Part of the healing process for these people is having the freedom to talk about the inequalities without being judged or pathologized. This is a kind of equality that is now denied in the popular culture.

Addressing Adoption
Even if our society agreed with all of this, there would still be a small amount of structural inequality among children. Death, rape, ignorance, and human weakness mean that some family structure inequality will always exist. Adoption serves as a remedy for this kind of inequality because it provides parents to children who need them.

We must distinguish between adoption and other instances where children are not being raised with their own married parents. Anonymous gamete donation, for example, is not analogous to adoption. It is when adults want to become parents and use money and business contracts to create children. Consider the screening process. In adoption, adults are screened. Those who are deemed unfit to be parents are excluded, at least in principle. In anonymous gamete donation, the children are screened. Those deemed unfit to be children are aborted, thrown away as embryos, or permanently frozen. Adults with enough money can be parents using this technology, including those with criminal histories or personality disorders. People with criminal histories and personality disorders can become parents under natural marriage, but they must secure the cooperation of the child's other genetic parent, which mitigates the child's risks.

The Legal Community's Responsibility
The "best interests of the child" standard, which is used where there are custody and time-sharing disputes, focuses on individual "fitness" to parent or what parenting arrangement would benefit a child in the future (or both). It does not address the family structure itself. Nearly all states share a codified list of factors to determine the best interests of the child that serves to remind parents of their parental responsibility to the child—"while marriages and relationships may dissolve, parents are forever." Implicitly, the assumption is that children need "parents," but what that means is untethered from familial structural equality and tied more closely to the freedom of adults to make those choices, regardless of the social science.

St. Pope John Paul II has said that the future of the world passes through the family. If, in that future, our children grow up accustomed to inequality and injustice, what can they pass on to the next generation? Adult children of divorce and other non-triad arrangements are speaking out. It is incumbent on us to review that literature, whether it is the six adult children of gay parents who filed amicus briefs against gay marriage in the Obergefell case or the video by Zach Wahls advocating for his lesbian parents and separately pointing out the joy of having and knowing about a biological sister (a shared sperm donor) or author Jennifer Johnson's testimony about her negative experiences with no-fault divorce. See also Leila Miller's new book, Primal Loss: The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak (LCB Publishing 2017).

The legal community is ethically bound to uphold truth and justice for all citizens—adults and children. We have accepted children's inequality as part of the landscape of contractual families that provide unbridled freedom to the adult. Should the legal community reevaluate when to apply the best interest standard? Should it be applied before an adult is given autonomy with a child's family structure? Can a guardian ad litem focus on these inequalities and be a source of education for parents? Are the child's true best interests being sacrificed at the time an alternative family is founded, where that child is without any legal protection? We in the legal community must reevaluate our duty to children when we are involved in the formation and dismantling of families.

Jennifer Johnson is the associate director for the Ruth Institute. She was raised by divorced parents and is the author of Marriage and Equality: How Natural Marriage Upholds the Ideal of Equality for Children. Brenda A. Baietto, Esq. is a family law attorney and mediator for Tampa Mediations, LLC, in Tampa, Florida.


What it takes to be labeled a ‘hate group’

By Megan McArdle

Posted September 8, 2017, at The Review.

 

In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center designated the Family Research Council a “hate group” because of its orthodox position on homosexuality, and its occasionally incendiary defenses of that position.

In 2012, Floyd Corkins showed up at the Family Research Council headquarters with a gun.

 


 

I don’t mean to imply that these two things were connected. I’m telling you that they were connected. We know because the shooter told the FBI where he got the idea.

Conservatives have used this to try to discredit the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of hate groups. But the sad truth is that if you criticize someone, there’s always some small chance that an unstable person will read your criticism and decide its subject needs killing. The shooting is still not the fault of the writer, but the fault of the shooter.

Also, you don’t need to manufacture ersatz accountability to discredit the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hate group tally. You just need to tell people what’s on the list.

Some of the groups named are what anyone would think of as a hate group, like the Ku Klux Klan. But other entries are a festival of guilt-by-association innuendo about people with at best a tangential relationship to the target institution, and whose statements fall well short of blanket group-calumny or calls for violence. Or the center offers bizarrely shifting rationales that suggest that the staff started with the target they wanted to deem hateful and worked backward to the analysis.

I spent a day diving down the rabbit hole of one listing for the Ruth Institute, a small nonprofit that thinks the sexual revolution was a giant mistake. The Ruth Institute does seem to have a couple of marginally attached figures who have at some point theorized an unsupported connection between homosexuality and pedophilia. But however wrongheaded and insulting this may be, by itself, it hardly merits branding the whole organization a “hate group.” And a lot of the other “evidence” for this designation is fully deserving of those contemptuous quotation marks.

Let’s look at how the center justified dubbing the Ruth Institute a hate group:

- One link presents its president, Jennifer Roback Morse, as having offered the “race-baiting” comment that President Barack Obama was “more gay than he is black” — an assertion that turns out to be an out-of-context quotation of an obvious verbal slip during a radio interview. That link also asserts that the Ruth Institute “reprinted a column blasting the LGBT movement’s ‘mythology of grievance and sexual oppression’”; in fact, the column is on the broader topic of the sexual revolution, not just LGBT activism, and the “mythology” refers to the (true) fact that many of the landmark legal cases that paved the revolution’s legal path, including Roe v. Wade and Lawrence v. Texas, were not entirely what they seemed.

- That same source claims that “the Ruth Institute even reprinted a column which attempted to link the Lawrence decision to the Penn State child sex abuse scandal” — referring to a column about legal trends in which Lawrence is mentioned only in passing, as an example of the weakening of community moral standards as a basis for law. (Whether or not you think it was a good idea, this weakening has indisputably occurred, and the Lawrence case was a landmark exhibit.)

- The SPLC also criticizes Morse, a Catholic, for calling homosexuality “intrinsically disordered,” which does sound gratuitously insulting to non-Catholics. But this is in fact a technical term in Catholic theology that also covers things heterosexuals frequently get up to. Disagree with it as you will, it is not by itself evidence of a special animus toward homosexuals.

If misspeaking in a radio interview, quoting the Vatican and promoting articles like these on your nonprofit’s blog are what now earn a spot alongside the Klan on a list of hate groups, then it may be time for the Southern Poverty Law Center to close up shop, because its work is largely done.

Unfortunately the center’s hate group designation remains extremely influential. Recently, a payment servicer cut off the Ruth Institute because of that “hate group” label. This piqued my interest, because I knew Morse’s work on liberty and the family from long before the gay marriage debate dawned on the political horizon. I’d always found it interesting and thought-provoking, and I was surprised to see her lumped in with Holocaust deniers and white supremacists. My astonishment seems to have been well-founded.

“Hate group” is, of course, not a scientific term with a precise definition. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s entries do highlight a lot of language about various groups that may not strike me as the equivalent of Klan rhetoric, but does make me uncomfortable. And who am I to say that “discomfort” is a better characterization than “hate speech”? In criticizing them, am I not committing the same sin of which I accuse the SPLC, trying to leverage my platform to curtail speech I don’t like through unofficial censure?

Well, yes, the SPLC has a perfect right to decide what they mean by “hate group.”

Unfortunately, it also has an incentive to apply this term broadly. When people see that the SPLC lists over 900 hate groups — 900! — this seems like good reason to panic. And maybe write a check to the SPLC.

Even fairly large institutions that theoretically have ample resources to investigate the SPLC’s list often rely on it, to their detriment. CNN published the list under the headline “Here Are All the Hate Groups Active in Your Area,” then had to alter the story upon realizing that this was effectively joining the SPLC in branding local churches and conservative nonprofits as “hate groups.” Guidestar, which rates nonprofits, added the SPLC designations to its listings, then had to make an embarrassing volte-face when conservatives called them out. Given the increasing tendency of powerful tech companies to flex their muscle against hate groups, we may see more and more institutions unwittingly turned into critics or censors, not just of Nazi propaganda, but also of fairly mainstream ideas.

That’s not just a problem for the groups that will be burdened when the “hate group” label is slapped on them; it’s also a problem for the rest of us. The broader the definition, the more Americans will be swept up under that label and the less sustainable it will be. If media and other institutions use the label, they will discredit themselves with conservative readers and donors. Worse, those readers and donors will be unable to reliably discern the actual hate groups that still exist.

For exist they do. They are tiny relative to the population, they are marginal, and they have little power. As political scientist Justin Murphy says, overt racism “likely appears larger than it is, especially to progressives, precisely because it has never been less common in American history,” making the few die-hards stand out in sharp relief. The same is probably true of other hateful “isms.” But even a handful of hate group members is too many, and it would be useful to have data on their numbers. Instead, we’re getting data that tells us little about the problem of hate groups, and a whole lot about the SPLC’s agenda and fundraising.

 

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