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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.
Posted on: Saturday, October 14, 2017
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
Posted on: Monday, October 09, 2017
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.
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.
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. …
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 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.
Posted on: Thursday, September 21, 2017
This article was first published September 10, 2017, at National Catholic Register.
Conservative groups, including those who support a traditional view of marriage and family life, have been increasingly complaining about attempts by major corporations to silence their viewpoints in the public square. Another such recent report comes from The Ruth Institute (www.ruthinstitute.org), “dedicated to finding Christ-like solutions to the problems of family breakdown.” The organization was founded by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, a Catholic author, speaker and academic. She regularly speaks at religious and pro-life conferences on the Christian view of marriage and sexuality and the ill effects of the Sexual Revolution.
Her institute, she said, “has accumulated decades of research to support individuals and families harmed by divorce, the hook-up culture, and other forms of family breakdown.” In an August 31 statement, The Ruth Institute reported that Vanco, their online donation processor, has ended their service to the Institute for promoting “hate, violence, harassment or abuse.”
In a letter to the Institute, Vanco explained: “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.”
Dr. Morse offered the following comments in response:
Posted on: Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Morse: It's convenient for the SPLC to 'stand me up next to a guy with a swastika and a white hood'
by Joe Schoffstall
This article was first published
Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center / Getty Images
An institute that works to "end family breakdown" lost its payment processing company after the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an Alabama-based liberal 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, had labeled the organization as a "hate group."
The SPLC fought the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s but is now best known for its "hate map," which features mainstream conservative groups alongside hate groups like the KKK. The group has turned into a fundraising powerhouse in recent years, hoarding more than $300 million in assets, with millions of that being pushed to offshore entities.
The Ruth Institute, which describes itself as an organization dedicated to "creating a mass social movement to end family breakdown," recently lost its payment processing company for donations after being labeled as a "hate group" by the SPLC.
The institute received a message from Vanco, the group's payment processing provider, in late August saying they were "flagged" as promoting "hate, violence, harassment, and or/or abuse."
"Vanco has elected to discontinue our processing relationship with The Ruth Institute," the message from Vanco to the institute reads. "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."
Dr. Jennifer Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute, told the Washington Free Beacon in a phone interview that after she had received the message from Vanco, she immediately checked her website and found that the donations feature was already disabled.
"We received an email from them at two-o-clock in the afternoon on Thursday, the 31st of August. We went and checked our website and it was already shut down—our donation feature was already shut down. So they obviously shut it down then sent us a notice," said Morse. "It's just rude, you don't treat people like that."
"It's interesting that Vanco will not come out and say Wells Fargo kicked us in the shins and told us to do this, they won't say that, but that's kind of the inference you're led to draw based on our the first communication we got with them and the complete shut down after that," Morse continued.
Morse says the corporate left will continue its practices, but one positive that came from the ordeal is she can talk about the mission of her institute.
"The corporate left is out there doing what they do and I can't stop them—they're going to do what they do with their power," she said. "I'm grateful that this incident has given me an opportunity to talk about the mission of the Ruth Institute because nobody else is doing what we're doing. We believe that family breakdown is harmful to children. We believe it's unjust to children, and that children have a right to have a relationship with both of their parents and to know their identity."
Morse added that it's "convenient" for the SPLC to add conservative groups alongside the KKK because it allows people to dismiss her and others.
"I think it's convenient strategically and rhetorically for groups like the SPLC to stand me up next to a guy with a swastika and white hood, because then nobody has to listen to what I have to say," she said. "Rather than argue with me—or, you know, try to say ‘gee you're wrong'—rather than have that conversation about why kids need their parents, they just dismiss the whole thing by putting me and Tony Perkins (president of the Family Research Council) in a lineup with guys in white hoods and then they don't have to deal with it."
A gunman walked into the Washington, D.C., office of the conservative Family Research Council and opened fire in 2012 after seeing the group listed as a "hate group" on the SPLC's website.
"Honest journalism needs to stop taking these people seriously," said Morse.
The SPLC, which is often cited by mainstream media outlets, raised millions from the likes of Apple, J.P Morgan Chase, and George Clooney following the tragic events in Charlottesville, Va.
The Washington Free Beacon discovered the SPLC's foreign tax forms from 2014 last week showing the group transfers millions in cash to offshore entities in the Cayman Islands and also has "financial interests" in Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands. The Weekly Standard's Jeryl Bier found this week that the SPLC has $69 million of "non-U.S. equity funds" from the group's 2016 annual report.
The group additionally released a map of every confederate monument in the U.S. that contains middle schools, PJ Media reported.
Vanco did not return a request for comment on its decision to drop the Ruth Institute by press time.
Posted on: Friday, September 15, 2017
Corporate America flexes its muscle to enforce conformity
Interview of Jennifer Roback Morse by Mercatornet.com on September 4, 2017.
A few days ago, Dr Jennifer Roback Morse, a frequent contributor to MercatorNet, learned that credit card donations to her organisation, the Ruth Institute, had been cut off. Vanco Payment Solutions – “unlock the power of generosity” -- sent her a curt note saying that it was a hate group.
The “hate group” label had been pasted on the Ruth Institute by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), probably because it has opposed same-sex marriage. But the job of the Ruth Institute is healing the effects of family breakdown, not denigrating homosexuals. This appears to be another sign of LGBT corporate tyranny: if you don’t agree with us, get lost...
Dr Roback Morse is philosophical about this insult to the integrity of her work. She says on her website, “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.”
Below she answers a few questions about this incident.
* * * * * * * * * *
MercatorNet: Ruth Institute has been dumped by its online donations processing service. What reason did Vanco give?
Jennifer Roback Morse: We quoted them verbatim in our public statement:
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.”
This is the sum total of their communication to us.
Did they talk to you first?
Did they say they had reviewed the content of your website?
So what sources were they relying on to reach their decision?
JRM: Dunno. I have no idea. I would only be guessing, if I said otherwise.
How long has the Ruth Institute been going? What is your mission and focus?
JRM: We have been in existence since 2008. We have been independent of the National Organization for Marriage since November 2013.
The Southern Poverty Law Centre put you on the “hate map” in 2013 – was this date significant?
JRM: I do not really know.
What reasons did they give?
They never contacted us prior to putting us on their map, not have they contacted us since. You would have to look at the reasons they cite on their map.
What positions or language do your critics find objectionable? Do you think you have expressed yourselves unfairly or too strongly at all?
JRM: They have classified us as "Anti-LGBT." Their basic objection is that we uphold traditional Christian morality. They have gathered together a handful of statements, usually ripped out of context, to claim that we are defaming gay people. We have created a page called "Where's the Hate?" where we list, to the best of our ability, the articles and podcasts that people have found objectionable. We invite anyone to study those materials and form their own opinion about whether we belong on the same list as the Ku Klux Klan.
What is the mission of the Ruth Institute?
JRM: We are creating a mass social movement to end family breakdown, by energizing the Survivors of the Sexual Revolution. We especially focus on the impact of family breakdown on children: understanding it, healing it, ending it.
That doesn't seem to have anything to do with racism or hate.
JRM: Why do you think the Southern Poverty Law Center has created a whole category called "Anti-LGBT?" Sexual revolutionaries gain a strategic advantage by labelling people like me. Guilt by association is irrational, but powerful. The fear of being labelled a racist provides a potent disincentive for people to voice the view that children need their own parents. Silencing people relieves the identity politicians and sexual revolutionaries from the effort of having to defend their ideas.
This is convenient for these Identity politicians and sexual revolutionaries, because their ideas are indefensible. Children actually do need their own parents. Sexual orientation is not the equivalent of race. Two mothers do not equal two fathers and two fathers do not equal a mother and a father, and certainly not one’s own mother and father. Placing us next to the guys with white hoods and swastikas avoids engaging any arguments.
There are multiple ironies here. Many, many people in the African American community are devout Christians who deeply resent what they consider the hijacking of the civil rights movement and rhetoric by LGBT activists. Since we oppose aspects of the LGBT movement, we are considered the equivalent of the KKK or Nazis.
Vanco markets itself to religious organisations, which makes their attitude to you puzzling.
JRM: Many groups and individuals are concerned about this sort of targeting. Yes: the fact that Vanco markets itself to churches and religious organizations does make this puzzling. I would suggest that churches consider switching providers.
Will you try to talk to Vanco or Card Brands?
JRM: Probably not. We are looking for another service provider.
Posted on: Tuesday, September 12, 2017
This article was first published September 11, 2017, at Christian.org.uk.
A group helping children suffering from the effects of family breakdown has been axed by its online payments provider after political activists accused it of being a “hate group”.
The Ruth Institute is on a ‘hate map’ alongside 900 other US organisations such as the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis and holocaust denial groups.
Last week, online donation processing company Vanco cancelled its services to the group without notice, stating it believed the Ruth Institute was affiliated “with a product/service that promotes hate, violence, harassment and/or abuse”.
The hate map, compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Centre, also includes groups such as Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council.
In response to Vanco’s move, the Ruth Institute said it “categorically condemns white supremacy, racism, Nazism, and all violent totalitarian political movements”.
“The Ruth Institute’s primary focus is family breakdown, and its impact on children… If this makes us a ‘hate group’, so be it”, it said.
“People who cannot defend their positions using reason and evidence resort to name-calling to change the subject away from their anemic arguments”, the pro-family organisation noted.
“The ‘hate group’ label is a club such people invented to bludgeon their political opponents.”
The Ruth Institute assured supporters that their financial details had not been compromised. It said the move was probably due to its traditional stance on LGBT issues.
While the family group noted that it respected the financial company’s right as a private business to make its own decision, it added: “We just wish wedding photographers, bakers, and florists received the same respect.”
The Ruth Institute has been on the hate map since 2013, but recently CNN published the nationwide list on its website, initially under the headline “Here are all the active hate groups where you live”.
“No one outside the SPLC knows how organizations come to be included on the list. No one knows how to get off the list. The SPLC sets itself up as judge, jury and enforcer of the charge of ‘hate’”, the Ruth Institute said.
Vanco declined to comment.
Last week, during a US Senate committee hearing considering a new judicial appointment, Senator Al Franken tore into the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), repeatedly noting its inclusion on the hate list.
ADF’s President responded: “There is a real danger of conflating genuine hate groups, like the Ku Klux Klan, with mainstream religious beliefs that are shared by millions of Americans and people from all walks of life across the world.”
Posted on: Tuesday, September 12, 2017
by Rachel del Guidice
This article was first published September 1, 2017, at Daily Signal.
Caption: Morris Dees is a co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which labels socially conservative organizations such as Ruth Institute as “hate groups.” (Photo: Robert King/Polaris/Newscom)
The founder of a nonprofit dedicated to repairing families says she thinks being incorrectly labeled a “hate group” prompted the company that processed donations to drop her organization.
Ruth Institute’s biblical stance on issues such as gender identity and same-sex marriage led to its being labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has done the same to other mainstream conservative organizations.
Vanco Payment Solutions, her nonprofit’s online donation processor for several years, abruptly emailed to say “we are severing our relationship with you,” Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of Ruth Institute, told The Daily Signal.
“The most logical conclusion is the fact that we were in the news with this hate map that SPLC [Southern Poverty Law Center] puts out, but no one has said that directly,” Morse, who is Catholic, said.
“I don’t know that for a fact,” she added. “We’re just surmising that must be the case.”
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.
Vanco Payment Solutions is a registered independent sales organization, or ISO, of Concord, California-based Wells Fargo Bank. It is not clear what Card Brands is.
After receiving the email, Morse said, she discovered that the donation function of Ruth Institute’s website was disabled, “so obviously they had done it before they even sent us the notice.” For now, she has opted to use PayPal in place of Vanco.
Morse noted that the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center lists other socially conservative organizations as “hate groups” and “anti-LGBT hate groups,” among them the American Family Association and Alliance Defending Freedom.
In doing so, critics say, the Southern Poverty Law Center equates respected conservative organizations with actual hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and the National Vanguard, a neo-Nazi organization.
SPLC flagged Ruth Institute as a “hate group” in 2013, the institute said in its press release.
One of Ruth Institute’s board members, Walter Hoye told The Washington Times that listing Ruth Institute alongside racist groups such as the KKK is “reprehensible.” In Georgia, he said, the Klan lynched his great-grandfather and set his house on fire while his 14 children were inside.
“I understand what the Klan is, and with that understanding, there is just no way that the Ruth Institute should be on that list,” Hoye told the newspaper. “The Ruth Institute is about healing the black family.”
Morse said CNN’s Aug. 17 publication of a map locating “hate groups” listed by SPLC attracted attention to her organization. Afterward, she said, a reporter wrote a story after seeing Ruth Institute on that map.
“I think people need to understand that the left takes the sexual revolution very seriously,” Morse said in an email to The Daily Signal. “This is a core issue for them. They think that being against gay marriage is the equivalent of being a skinhead or a member of the Klan. That’s how they are treating things.”
The Daily Signal requested comment from both Vanco and the Southern Poverty Law Center, but did not receive a response by publication deadline.
Sara Hassell, a Wells Fargo spokesperson, told The Daily Signal in an email that “we don’t have anything to share on the matter at this time.”
In June, GuideStar, an organization that calls itself a neutral aggregator of tax data on charities and other nonprofits, incorporated SPLC’s “hate group” labels, a move protested by dozens of conservative leaders. GuideStar then removed the labels.
The “hate group” labeling misrepresents Ruth Institute, Morse said.
“They can’t argue against us, so what they do is they prop us up next to … the Klan, guys in white hoods and guys with swastikas,” she said.
The issue should be of grave concern to conservatives, Morse said.
“The social issues are absolutely core to a free society,” she said. “You cannot have a free society if children don’t have their own parents. If a child
doesn’t have a right to their own parents, nobody has got a right to anything.”
Posted on: Tuesday, September 12, 2017
by Dale Hurd
This article was first published September 12, 2017, at CBN.com.
Posted on: Saturday, September 09, 2017
By Charlotte Allen
This article was first published September 09, 2017, at the Weekly Standard.
The “hate list” generating Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) already has the media firmly in its pocket. If the SPLC calls, say, Bell Curve and Coming Apart author Charles Murray a “white supremacist,” why, so will the Washington Post. And now corporate America seems to be jumping onto the SPLC’s “hate group” and “hate map” bandwagon, trying to cut off the financial livelihoods of organizations that the SPLC has branded as haters because their policy positions don’t accord with whatever the SPLC deems politically correct.
On Aug. 31 Vanco Payment Solutions, an online credit-card processing firm affiliated with Wells Fargo, abruptly canceled its services to the nonprofit Ruth Institute on the ground that it promotes hate, violence, harassment and/or abuse.”
The Ruth Institute? Make a visit to its website and you will be scratching your head as you search for the hate and the violence. “Inspiring the Survivors of the Sexual Revolution” is the organization’s motto. “Whether you are a Child of Divorce, a Donor Conceived Person or a Refugee from the Hookup Culture, the Ruth Institute is here for you,” declares Ruth’s founder and president Jennifer Morse Roback, holder of a Ph.D. in economics. The institute sponsors conferences and “spiritual healing” workshops for people who believe themselves harmed by freely available sex and family breakdowns, and it’s fair to say that it has a distinct traditional-values orientation. (Roback, a mother of two and foster mother of eight over the years, is a practicing Catholic who was named one of the “Catholic Stars of 2013” along with popes Francis and Benedict XIV.) So—where’s the “harassment and/or abuse” that the Ruth Institute is supposed to be promoting?
Well! It seems that the Ruth Institute was affiliated until 2013 with the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which opposes same-sex marriage. Furthermore, Ruth devotes one of its web pages to a “circle of experts”—doctors, lawyers, academics, and clergymen who share its traditional views on sex and family life. And that is what caught the attention of the SPLC’s Eye of Sauron.
The SPLC really doesn’t like the NOM, which has been on its “hate group” list for years, and it really doesn’t like the Ruth Institute’s circle of experts. One of them, for example, is Pat Fagan, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, another SPLC “hate group” long-timer because it, too, opposes same-sex marriage (it’s the organization whose office manager was shot in 2012 by a pro-gay-rights terrorist who had consulted an SPLC “hate map” to find the council’s Washington D.C. address). Another is Patrick Henry College professor Stephen Baskerville, reportedly a vehement opponent of what he calls “the homosexual agenda.”
Guilt by association, anyone? But that’s the stock in trade of the SPLC, which slammed a “hate group” designation onto the Ruth Institute in December 2013, pointing out that Ruth’s “focus on heterosexual marriage” could well be “a cover for its campaign against marriage equality and LGBT people in general.” And, although Vanco won’t elaborate on why it suddenly decided that Ruth was promoting hate and abuse, it’s pretty easy to connect the dots.
The Ruth Institute isn’t the first victim of a corporation’s refusal to do business with an organization because the SPLC deemed it a “hate group” on the basis of its promotion of traditional Christian attitudes toward sexuality and marriage. The traditional values-oriented legal aid group Liberty Counsel and the D. James Kennedy Ministries, a media-oriented offshoot of a traditional branch of the Presbyterian Church, have sued the SPLC for defamation. All three, along with the Family Research Council, were essentially blacklisted by the charity rating website GuideStar, which has adopted the SPLC’s hate list as its own. Amazon Smile, a donation setup for Amazon customers, dropped the Kennedy Ministries from its list of acceptable charities.
Corporate America seems to be feeling the love for the SPLC these days. Apple, for example, donated a cool $1 million to the organization in the wake of the Aug. 14-15 melee in Charlottesville, Va. after the SPLC went on a fundraising binge over the 500 or so white supremacists involved. PJ Media’s Tyler O’Neil lists other major companies that have recently become SPLC donors or partners: J.P. Morgan, Bank of America, Pfizer, Lyft, Newman’s Own.
The irony is that the SPLC, a perpetual-motion money machine famous for its hysteria-generating mailings to befuddled liberals after incidents of right-wing extremism real or imagined, scarcely needs the donations. Here at THE WEEKLY STANDARD, Jeryl Bier has pointed out the SPLC has parked some $69 million out of its stockpiled (that is, not spent on, say, fighting white supremacists) $319 million in donor contribution in offshore hedge funds, a common tax dodge by wealthy nonprofits seeking to mask otherwise taxable unrelated business income.
It’s one thing for corporations to waste their shareholders’ money helping the SPLC be a high-risk, high-return hedge-fund partner in the Cayman Islands.
It’s another for them to try to suck the life out of small nonprofits solely because the SPLC blacklists them as hate groups because it doesn’t like
the religiously traditional views they promote.
Posted on: Saturday, September 09, 2017
by Justin McClain
This article was first published at the NCRegister on September 7, 2017.
The word “hate,” one of the strongest in the English language, risks losing its actual potency when it is misapplied. To be clear from the outset, there are legitimately hateful acts. As a Black Catholic whose father was born in 1936 and raised in segregated Durham, North Carolina, I have heard his multiple firsthand accounts of truly hate-imbued actions by other human beings. Catholics, along with other Christians, within the broader framework of morality, readily categorize these as evil. Physical intimidation, outright violence, emotional-psychological abuse, and any other action that does not recognize every single human being’s de facto dignity can be tantamount to hatred. Hence my surprise when, while speaking with some friends recently about the hatred-ridden events in Charlottesville, coupled with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of “Active Hate Groups 2016”, I learned that some of the most upstanding Catholic people whom I am privileged to know (or at least their affiliated organizations) had unexpectedly found themselves on this ever-expanding “Hate List” at various points over the years.
This piece is not a direct diatribe against the SPLC, but it does constitute (no pun intended) a mention of the reality that, to make recourse to the classic Sesame Street song, “one of these things is not like the other.” Now, there are plenty of groups that most people of goodwill would agree deserve to be deemed “hate groups,” e.g., any of the number of groups founded on racist ideologies, those bent on demeaning and belittling others, and those whose intentions are to disrupt and destroy the framework of others’ basic human rights and worth as individuals. When I think of my friend Fran Griffin of the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation (which made the list), or Arina Grossu of the Family Research Council (which made the list), I am baffled as to how their striving to live according to accurate Christian standards could be designated as anything other than beneficent. Even in light of varying approaches to societal matters, those do not comprise abhorrence for the other.
Then there is Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of the Ruth Institute (which made the list). Never mind that Dr. Morse is an internationally recognized leader in Catholic media initiatives, so much so that Our Sunday Visitor named her one of only eight “Catholic Stars of 2013.” I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Morse speak a number of years ago at the Archdiocese of Washington’s Pastoral Center, and her message promoting chastity, marriage, and the family is easily one of the most loving that I have heard. These figures, whose words I have received and considered, are the antithesis of someone who could justifiably be regarded as “hateful.” And likewise, there is the fascinating situation of Alan Sears of Alliance Defending Freedom (which, you guessed it, made the list). As you will see, Mr. Sears’ circumstances are the most puzzling of all.
Yes, this is the same Alan Sears who, along with his wife Paula, received the Catholic Church’s highest honor for a layperson when Pope Francis inducted them into the Order of Saint Gregory the Great this June. As reported by the Catholic News Agency, according to Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona, this award “is a well-deserved recognition of their many years of defending religious freedom, standing up for the true meaning of marriage and family life, defending the dignity and right to life of every human person, and faithfully living their lay vocation in their home, their parish and the public square.” According to The Catholic Sun (the official publication of the Diocese of Phoenix), “A Scottsdale couple’s heroic efforts on behalf of religious liberty, the Church, the sanctity of life, and rights of conscience have captured the attention of Pope Francis.” Pope Francis, easily recognized by not only Catholics but by other Christians and those of various faiths around the globe, is one of the few veritably unitive purveyors of love in modern times. As such, the discerning mind is correctly led to surmise that the Holy Father is a worthy assessor of what constitutes authentic love. So, where is the disconnect? It comes down to language.
One of the simplest – really, most facile – methods of discrediting a person or a group is to label them derogatively. Admittedly, it is human nature. Sports fans rarely employ warm, inviting terminology when referring to an opposing athletic team. Politicians readily call each other names. Yet, when an organization is unjustly deemed a practitioner of bigotry without the benefit of the doubt, we need to recall a time when the word had more accuracy, not to mention even more of a sting, than it has in modern times: “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you” (John 15:18-19). So, who owns the word “hate”? Seemingly, in modern times, disagreement is too often confused with hate, and the word becomes cheapened in the process.
Nearly 30 years ago, Saint John Paul II (who embraced essentially the same views on chastity, on marriage as between one man and one woman, on the importance of the family, on the right to life for the unborn, and other comparable positions that the modern culture finds repugnant to popular sensibilities) wrote his apostolic exhortation Christifideles Laici: On the Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World. This man, who is now in heaven, included an especially astute passage within Christifideles Laici that could be applied to the situation in which many Catholics and other Christians of goodwill find themselves today, increasingly marginalized and relegated to the category of “hateful” because they strive to live according to the Gospel: “A charity that loves and serves the person is never able to be separated from justice. Each in its own way demands the full, effective acknowledgment of the rights of the individual, to which society is ordered in all its structures and institutions” (paragraph 42). The Catholic trying to live his or her faith while serving the broader public will be at odds with society’s standards. Manipulative societal standards of morality are mercilessly ratcheted back and forth, and we need but go back only a few years to recall that two prominent leaders of their political party publicly supported the view of marriage as between one man and one woman, to then-popular acclaim. They were speaking no more “hatefully” then than the Christians around the world who continue to abide by the unchanging words of Christ regarding marriage as we read them in Matthew 19:1-12, teachings which are unyielding to secular definitions.
A little over a year ago, I wrote an article for Catholic Exchange with the frank title of “How to Respond when ‘Christian’ Has Become a Bad Word – A Few Reminders from the Early Church to Today.” As an aside, it is curious how frequently Christians are deemed – whether individually or institutionally – as “hateful” for holding fast to the Gospel when other faiths are spared such a designation, even when their own faith structures [fortunately] have the same social regard for the significance of marriage, the family and children. During these challenging times, replete with pluralism, the faithful need to be more prudent than ever: “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves” (Matthew 10:16). There will be more “lists” and millions of dollars more poured into endeavors to discredit those who try to live their faith openly.
So, where do we go from here? With the nation in turmoil, it is more important than ever for American Catholics to heed the bishops. As one example of various of how the Church and secular society are speaking two different languages, note the plausible title of this Catholic World Report piece from back in January: “NYTimes: Trump Creating Christian Theocracy; Bishops: Trump Against Christian Faith.” Some inopportunely see the United States as tantamount to a theocracy akin to the setting of The Handmaid’s Tale, while the world is increasingly looking like that which is presented in Lord of the World (which both Pope [Emeritus] Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have recommended). Two different languages. According to Pew findings from 2015, American Catholics notoriously dissent from the Church’s teachings on marriage, human sexuality and ideal family structures. This dilemma has been a downward spiral ever since the mid-1960s in the United States. When Catholic politicians feel that they can histrionically legislate in direct opposition to what their faith professes (read: on an unfortunate variety of issues), and when events like the “Catholic Spring” revelations of October 2016 indicate political forces attempting to surreptitiously undermine the Church’s influence in society, one wonders little why entities external to the Catholic Church end up confused when Catholics actually try to live pursuant to their faith, lumping them in with actually hateful organizations in the process.
What are some ways that American Catholics can come to deepen their faith by heeding the bishops before other prominent, and frequently errant, voices within society? Foremost, actually read the USCCB’s news releases. The social doctrine of the Church does not, and should not, follow neat political lines. In my recent book Our Bishops, Heroes for the New Evangelization: Faithful Shepherds and the Promotion of Lay Doctrinal Literacy, I encourage the laity to better fathom the Church’s teachings, via the writings of the bishops, who are there to help us know our faith better. Of course, as is the emphasis in this article, this will frequently put people of faith at odds with what society says is acceptable, occasionally earning the opprobrium of the well-funded powers-that-be along the way.
Ultimately, who determines what is hateful, and who determines what is loving? Independent of theology, we are speaking two different languages. Who knows how Catholics who bring their faith into the public square will be regarded in future years and centuries. Despite the name-calling that may come, we find solace in the Lord’s reminder: “In the world, you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world” (John 16:33).