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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: Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Last week, the judge in the case of James Younger, the seven-year-old-boy whose mother wants to turn him into a “transgendered” girl, issued a gag order preventing James’ father from discussing the case publicly. Ruth Institute President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D. said, “This is an egregious abridgement of the father’s First Amendment rights.”
James’ divorced parents each sought sole custody. His mother, who’s been making him wear dresses, painting his nails, and telling him he’s a girl named “Luna” since age three, has been taking him to a “gender clinic.” She wants to use drugs, and possibly surgery, to complete the process. His father is adamantly opposed.
Morse continued: “If the case hadn’t been publicized, due mostly to the interviews the father did, few of us would have known about what could have been a terrible miscarriage of justice. I believe the judge’s resolution of the case – including giving the parents joint medical decision-making – was due in part to an extraordinary public outcry.”
Matt Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, says, “It’s fairly straightforward that you can’t gag a father from talking about his son to the media.” Staver calls the order “an outrageous decision by the court that’s clearly unconstitutional.”
Morse added: “Family court judges have an astonishing amount of power. Judge Kim Cooks could have given the mother everything she wanted – sole custody and the unimpeded power to effectively castrate her son. That’s what the jury recommended.If the case was decided in the dark, the judge might have confirmed it.” A petition in support of the father on Life Petitions has more than 86,000 signers.
In another Texas custody case, where four-year-old Drake Pardo was taken from his family over what was alleged to be medical abuse, a Dallas-area judge issued a similar gag order against the family.
A week ago, Texas Solicitor General Kyle Hawkins submitted a brief on behalf of the state of Texas calling the gag order “unconstitutional,” writing that the order “is plainly overboard and cannot be squared with the First Amendment’s free speech guarantees.”
Morse stated: “Injustice grows in the dark. The #SaveJames case deserves the widest possible exposure and unhampered discussion. The father’s freedom of speech must be restored.”
In a recent webcast of The Dr. J Show on the Ruth Institute Youtube page, Morse revealed the hidden dimensions of the case. “Transgenderism, third-party reproduction, and divorce all increase the power of the state over the lives of ordinary people. This is the Sexual Deep State at work.”
Morse explained, “Our #SaveJames campaign is part of the Ruth Institute’s overall mission to counter the Sexual Revolution and speak out for its victims.”
The Ruth Institute is a global interfaith non-profit organization equipping Christians to defend the family and build a civilization of love.
Dr. Morse is the author of The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives.
Find more information on The Ruth Institute here.
To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on: Monday, February 12, 2018
New York is sacrificing a child's best interest in favor of "marriage equality."
By Jennifer Roback Morse
Published on February 9, 2018, at The Stream.
A little girl in New York is in foster care, even though her father is a perfectly fit parent. The court will not even recognize him as her father. How is this possible, you ask?
The little girl’s mother is in a same sex union. The girl is in foster care, because of neglect petitions pending against both the mother and her lover. The five-judge panel agreed that the fact that the child was in foster care was “relevant” and “concerning.” They nevertheless denied the father’s request to prove his fatherhood.
In the court’s logic, this man “merely donated sperm, belatedly asserting parental rights.”
In other words, he is not a father unless we say so.
The news stories about this case focus on its implications for “Marriage Equality.” The Daily Beast story has a sub-headline: “judges rule in favor of marriage equality over biology in case of 3-year-old girl.” A Canadian paper, The National Post describes the case this way:
Without legal advice, Christopher and the women drew up a contract in which he waived any claims to paternity, custody or visitation, and the women waived any claim to child support. But troubles arose, and they disagreed on Christopher’s access to the child … In April 2015, Christopher went to court, seeking an order for a paternity test, and later for custody of the child.
The Post is not too clear on what “troubles arose.” We get a clue, from the court documents (page 18), which The Daily Beast cited only in passing, that the child has been in foster care for a lengthy “period of time” since the 2015 hearing.
Perhaps this explains why he “belatedly asserted parental rights.” Maybe he saw what the child welfare authorities eventually saw. These women were neglecting the seven-month-old child.
Christopher volunteered his sperm as a “humanitarian gesture” to two women who were family friends. He evidently absorbed the Grand Gay Narrative that assures us:
If the Grand Gay Narrative is true, a man might logically conclude that donating his sperm could be a “humanitarian gesture.” He might well believe that agreeing in advance to stand down from active fatherhood was a fine thing to do, costless to himself and his child, and beneficial to these two women.
The problem is that the Grand Gay Narrative is false. Biology does matter. Both parents and children care about their biological connections. Being raised by a same sex couple does present risks to kids, compared with being raised by one’s own biological parents. The people who say otherwise base their opinion on highly suspect, cherry-picked data, from small unrepresentative samples. Frankly, most of it is highly publicized junk science.
Neither of these women has pulled herself together enough to have the little girl returned to her care. I was a foster parent in San Diego. I know that child welfare agencies try to give parents every opportunity to reunify with their children. If the child has been in foster care “for a lengthy period of time,” these two women must be bad news. Christopher was trying to be a nice guy in 2014 when he donated the sperm. He has been trying to be a responsible father since April 2015 when he first petitioned the court.
Isn’t this how we want men to behave toward the children they sire?
The five-judge panel was not interested.
We believe that it must be true that a child born to a same-gender married couple is presumed to be their child … A paternity test for an outsider, who merely donated sperm, belatedly asserting parental rights, would effectively disrupt, if not destroy, this family unit and nullify the child’s established relationship with the wife, her other mother. Testing in these circumstances exposes children born into same-gender marriages to instability for no justifiable reason other than to provide a father-figure for children who already have two parents.” (emphasis added.)
News flash to the judges: a child in foster care is already “exposed to instability.” Is letting her father be involved more disruptive than foster care?
The court’s ruling does not protect the child’s best interests. Their ruling circles the wagons to protect the Grand Gay Narrative.
“Marriage Equality” advocates assured us that removing the gender requirement from marriage was only a matter of making same sex couples the legal equivalent of opposite sex couples. This case shows that “Marriage Equality” creates a whole round of new inequalities. Some fathers are permitted to be involved in their children’s lives. Others are not: the law actively blocks Christopher from his own child. Some children have a legally recognized right to their fathers. Others, like this little girl, do not.
She only has the parents the government allows her to have. And that is way too much power for any government.
Posted on: Sunday, January 22, 2017
By Ryan MacPherson, a Ruth Institute Circle of Experts member
This article was first published at hausvater.org on January 22, 2009 (36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade).
Book Review: Won by Love, Norma McCorvey (with Gary Thomas), (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998)
In her own small world she was Norma McCorvey, a battered, then abandoned, wife and drug addict, pregnant but not desiring a child. The wider world would know her as “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. The story told there was tragic: a woman gang raped, forced into pregnancy, and denied the opportunity to terminate that pregnancy since abortion was outlawed in Texas. This story, however, was a lie—fabricated by attorney Sarah Weddington, who herself had obtained an illegal abortion and now was on a mission to make abortion available legally. When McCorvey became “Roe,” she provided the tool Weddington needed to push the issue in the courts. But after McCorvey signed “Roe’s” affidavit, affirming the fabricated story as her own, Weddington reneged on her promise to help McCorvey deal with her crisis pregnancy. Weddington did not even so much as telephone McCorvey until four months after the child was born.
The “Roe” of Roe v. Wade did not abort her baby, a child saved, ironically, by an attorney’s need for a pregnant plaintiff in order to sue for abortion access. McCorvey had never even been inside an abortion clinic, though later she would work for one. She was both the victim of deceit and the perpetrator of deception. Marijuana helped her to cope. So did alcohol. And coarse humor, too: “I tell women we aren’t killing little babies on Wednesday; they have to come in Thursday through Saturday to do it.” (150) But her verbal defense mechanisms, like her lesbian relationship with an abortion clinic coworker, only took her deeper into the pit of despair and anger, a bitter mixture of relentless grief and suppressed guilt.
Even “Jane Roe” knew that abortion killed babies. While working at A Choice for Women, she tried to refer a sixth-month pregnant woman to an ob-gyn, but her supervisor insisted that the woman have access to the abortion she was seeking. Unable to cope, McCorvey had to take the afternoon off; she binge-drank for the two weeks following. Back at the clinic, she refused to be assigned to the “Parts Room,” where the remains of aborted children were stored in jars for transfer to a disposal facility, after first being counted and collated to ensure that no body parts were left in their mothers’ wombs following the procedure. She did, however, accept an assignment to console women afterwards, who grieved in the recovery room with confessions of having just killed their babies. No, it was not knowledge that McCorvey or her coworkers lacked; abortion clearly killed babies and devastated their mothers.
Love, not knowledge, was the missing piece in the puzzle of their fractured lives. And “God is love.” (1 John 4:16) God had turned the heart of Flip Benham, an alcoholic pro-choice unbeliever, toward Himself, transforming him into a Christian pro-life pastor who joined Operation Rescue. McCorvey called him “Flip Venom” when Operation Rescue moved into the office space next to A Choice for Women. The name-calling didn’t stick, however, since no venom came from Flip’s mouth. He spoke in love, as did his fellow “rescuers,” including Ronda Mackie and, the most loving and lovable of all, her seven-year-old daughter Emily.
Emily played on the sidewalk in front of the two adjacent offices: her mother’s Operation Rescue and McCorvey’s A Choice for Women. It was a brilliant Operation Rescue strategy: cute children playing gleefully outside, testifying by their casual existence the severe reality behind the “services” provided by A Choice for Women. Emily did more than deter women from seeking abortions; she smiled and greeted, she hugged and conversed with Norma McCorvey, a woman who had given birth to three children, aborted none, and yet facilitated the abortions of many at her clinic and millions through her role as “Jane Roe.” Finally, McCorvey admitted that she loved children. “Then why,” asked Emily, so innocently and so gently, “are you letting the little ones die inside?” (91) Had Pastor Flip asked the question, or any other adult, McCorvey would have responded with her standard mouthful of foul obscenity. For a seven-year-old girl, however, she had no defense. “I never answered her,” she later recalled. “I couldn’t.” (91)
In the months that followed, McCorvey became attached to Emily, and to her mother Ronda. A budding friendship bridged the gap between an Operation Rescue worker and an abortion clinic employee. McCorvey found herself, inexplicably, referring late-term clients away from A Choice for Women and toward Operation Rescue, knowing full well that since late-term abortions had the best profit margin she was sabotaging her boss’s business. One day Ronda Mackie took Norma McCorvey out for lunch and mentioned that Emily had nearly been aborted. Ronda’s fiancé and parents-in-law-to-be had urged the termination of an inconvenient pregnancy, back when Ronda herself was still an unbeliever.
Now the abortion question was too personalized to remain a question; the answer was clear, even to McCorvey, and made clearer still by the love of the Operation Rescue picketers, who never returned McCorvey’s invectives. “I love you,” echoed the voice of little Emily, a survivor of the abortion culture. “I forgive you,” said Pastor Flip, himself a penitent sinner.
Americans mark January 22 as the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, but for “Jane Roe” the real turning point came on August 8, 1995. On that day she “renounce[d] the devil and all his works, and the sinful desires of the flesh” (187). She repented of her drug abuse, her lesbian self-defilement, her hatred toward pro-lifers, and her role in the deaths of the 35 million children aborted in America during the preceding 22 years. When Pastor Flip immersed her in the waters of Holy Baptism, she arose a new person. She had been won by love.
Her story amazes the reader, in places seeming too good to be true. But on closer inspection, it’s too good to be false. Love, not hatred, changes hearts,
even the hardest of hearts. The conversion narratives of Ronda Mackie and Flip Benham are encouraging enough; the redemption of “Jane Roe” into “Norma
McCorvey, Christian” (177) reveals the Gospel at its brightest. But the message does not stop there; the Gospel keeps shining, as forgiveness in Christ
also transforms Connie Gonzales, her former coworker and some-time lesbian partner. Remarkably, “Mary Doe” of Doe v. Bolton—the companion
case to Roe v. Wade—also repented. “Doe” (Sarah Cano) joined McCorvey in March 1997 as the two women publicly identified themselves
as “new creatures in Christ and children of God” while dedicating the National Memorial for Unborn Children in Chattanooga, Tennessee (236).
Forgiveness does not come easily; Christ suffered greatly and died to make it possible. “It was so hard for me to conceive that the Lord had forgiven me,” acknowledges McCorvey, “especially after so many children had been killed. But He has forgiven me and restored me. And, gradually, I have learned to trust His Word more than my own feelings.” (228) Though painful emotions still return, bringing with them doubts concerning God’s love, McCorvey finds comfort especially in these passages: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17); “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
Norma McCorvey’s story concludes with words of hope. “If God can forgive Norma McCorvey—Jane Roe—and her role in abortion, surely
he can forgive you as well.” (229) Her conversion reveals not only the limitless love of Christ, but also the effectiveness of Christ’s servants who
“speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15)
For Ronda Mackie, loving Norma McCorvey meant trusting her to watch over her daughter Emily who began regularly visiting the reception room of A Choice for Women. Emily brought gifts of her own artwork, labeled “Jesus loves you, Miss Norma.” A child’s love communicated a message that anti-abortion ranting and raving, with slogans like “Abortion Stops a Beating Heart,” could not. “This is what happens when Christians are willing to face their enemies and adopt the most powerful strategy ever devised—the strategy displayed by Christ’s death on the cross, the strategy of laying down your life so that others, including the unborn, might live. This is what it is like to be won by love.” (240)
McCorvey’s autobiography calls to repentance both the abortion perpetrator and the abortion protester: the one for taking innocent life and the other for too often fighting a culture of death with a culture of hate. Either way, the world needs more people like Emily, a child spared from abortion and a spokesperson of truth in love. And to become like Emily, one first needs Christ, who did not spare Himself, but lived and died for the truth in love. Christ practiced “lifestyle witnessing” to the extreme. The gift of His Spirit empowers others to do the same.
If more people would read Won by Love, then they could understand more clearly the gracious will of God amidst one of our nation’s greatest tragedies. Let’s just hope they don’t keep it to themselves. Christ’s love, communicated in actions and not just in words, transformed America’s most infamous abortion advocate into a Christian defender of purity and life. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if no one could ever hear the phrase “Roe v. Wade” without remembering “Jane Roe’s” repentance and Christ’s forgiveness?
Dr. Ryan C. MacPherson is the founding president of The Hausvater Project. He lives with his wife Marie and their children in Mankato, Minnesota, where he teaches American history, history of science, and bioethics at Bethany Lutheran College. For more information, visit www.ryancmacpherson.com.
Posted on: Monday, July 11, 2016
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first posted at The Blaze on July 5, 2016.
So a radical feminist and two childless women walk into a courtroom. How do you expect them to rule on abortion or contraception? Their lives as they know them, depend on both.
In Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Texas law regulating abortion clinics as if they were any ordinary medical facility. You have no doubt heard that this was somehow a victory for women, in the ongoing and everlasting War Against Women.
Actually, I believe there is no War Against Women, but a long-standing War Among Women. And this time, like most of the time, Elite Women prevail over “Everywoman.”
Consider the three women currently serving on the U.S. Supreme Court. Whose interests do these women actually represent?
The most senior female member of the court is Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a lifelong radical feminist. Let’s look for a moment at her personal life. Justice Ginsburg had the lifelong support of her husband in her career aspirations. Thanks to no-fault divorce, women today cannot count on a lifetime of mutual support with their husbands.
Justice Ginsburg came of age in the short historical window of time when women could still get married, have kids, go to law school, and have a career after child-bearing. Her two children were born when she was 22 and 32, in 1955 and 1965 respectively.
Thanks to radical feminism, highly educated women have a much more difficult time doing these things. They can go to law school and have a career all right. But getting married and having children sometime before menopause, not so much. Justice Ginsburg has been safely insulated from the negative fallout of the Sexual Revolution which she and her radical feminist colleagues did so much to champion.
The other two women on the Supreme Court, Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, are childless.
It is highly unlikely that the two of them understand the aspirations of women who want their babies and stable marriages. For most women, family is everything and “career” is a way to put food on the table. Elite women know nothing of Everywoman, the people who have endured the Sexual Revolution, and who do not have high status jobs as compensation.
I am acutely aware of all this because I am a bit of an outlier among my educational class. That is a fancy way of saying I am a freak. I left a tenured university position back in 1996 to give more attention to my children who needed me, and my husband who wanted me and who I, in turn, wanted. No one gives up tenure. Believe me. My friends quietly thought I had lost my mind, except for one dear friend who told me I was a counter-cultural radical.
I had been in line to become the head of my department. Obviously, that didn’t happen. I never sat on any prestigious commissions. I haven’t received a plum political appointment like my childless or male peers have. Mind you, I’m not complaining. I do not regret my choices for a moment. I have encountered plenty of other women with advanced degrees who have made similar choices with no regrets.
No, my point is different. Delayed childbearing is the price of entering the professional classes. Tenacious focus is the price of remaining in the upper echelons of those classes. Placing a high personal value on life, marriage, family and the next generation puts a woman at a disadvantage in the competition for high-end jobs.
Put another way, childless women have an advantage over mothers in the competition for power and influence. For many elite women, the Sexual Revolution has made possible their lives as they know them. They literally cannot imagine what their lives would be like without contraception, or without abortion as an easy back-up.
The Sexual Revolution has been an imposition by the elites upon the masses. From the beginning, it is the people of modest means who have suffered from no-fault divorce, and hook-ups and instability and relationship churning and non-marital childbearing.
The Everyman and Everywoman regularly vote for lawmakers who promote pro-life legislation. But elites in the judiciary consistently overturn it. And that is what happens when a radical feminist and two childless women walk into a courtroom.
Posted on: Friday, November 13, 2015
COMMENTARY: A tenured professor of English is threatened with dismissal because he challenged one of the sexual revolution’s core assumptions.
Robert Oscar Lopez, a tenured English professor at California State University-Northridge, is on the verge of being suspended without pay, ostensibly due to a conference he organized a year ago. In fact, I believe this is not the real reason why this man of Puerto Rican and Philippine heritage, who knows six modern languages as well as Latin and Greek, is being hounded out of his job.
Professor Robert Lopez of the University of California at Northridge
Lopez’s parents divorced when he was a toddler. His mother formed an intimate relationship with another woman. His father disappeared from his life for a long time. Lopez believes that these events were traumatic for him, and he has been outspoken in saying so. His countercultural views are an embarrassment to the Sexual Revolutionary Establishment at his university and beyond. They believe he must be silenced. Getting him fired is one step toward that end.
I was one of the presenters at the conference in question, “Bonds That Matter.” And, unbeknownst to me, I was one of the sources of controversy in Lopez’s interaction with the Cal State administration.
Lopez invited me to present at the conference on the topic of divorce. I was eager to be part of the event, as my organization, the Ruth Institute, agrees with his general perspective: that it is unjust to deprive a child of a relationship with his or her parents without good reason. Millions of children have their relationship with a parent damaged by parental divorce.
I agreed to waive my usual fee, as a way of supporting this initial effort of Lopez’s new organization, the International Children’s Rights Institute. As part of our agreement, the Ruth Institute was permitted to have a display table. We did not sell anything, nor did we offer participants the opportunity to sign up for our newsletter, activities we normally do when I speak at events. I did not mention anything regarding homosexuality, gay marriage or gay parenting during my talk, which you can listen to for yourself.
Imagine my surprise when I received a call from Lopez, many months later, asking me about some Ruth Institute brochures.
“Did you pass out this brochure called ‘77 Non-Religious Reasons to Support Man/Woman Marriage?’” he said.
“No. They were probably lying on our book table. Why do you ask?”
He asked because a student had filed a complaint against him. These brochures were submitted as evidence that his conference had created a hostile environment. Mind you, the student who lodged this complaint received an A in the course in question and did not file her complaint until after she had graduated.
I confirmed that I did, however, pass out and discuss another pamphlet, “Are You a Survivor of the Sexual Revolution?” — which you can look at for yourself. We have revised the artwork since the conference and made modest changes to the content. In fact, the version the students saw did not include the last sentences about children of same sex-parents, under “Gay Lifestyle Refugee.”
I believe the sexual revolutionaries despise Robert Lopez because he challenges one of their core assumptions. The sexual revolution is based on the idea that all adults able to give meaningful consent are entitled to unlimited sexual activity with a minimum of inconvenience. What they never mention is this: Children just have to accept whatever adults choose to give them.
Lopez believes that children have rights to a relationship with both of their parents, in the absence of some unavoidable tragedy. Children have a right to know their identity, so that all adults without exception can know their cultural heritage and genetic identity. These entitlements of children impose legitimate obligations and limitations on adult behavior, including, potentially, public policy and personal sexual behavior.
All of us who presented at that conference agree with this basic point. We disagreed among ourselves about the exact nature and contours of those obligations and limitations. But this common ground created a fruitful avenue for serious discussion.
The very concept of children’s rights that impose limitations on adult sexual behavior threatens the fragile intellectual structure of the sexual revolution. The true revolutionary is counting on no one noticing that sex makes babies and that children need their parents.
The true revolutionary needs to change the subject away from this topic,and on to any other topic. For example:
Here is a link to a summary of the case. Here are the letters filed on behalf of Lopez by attorney Charles LiMandri of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund and by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Looking at these documents, any sensible person must conclude that the answer to all these questions is “No.” Yet these are the questions the sexual revolutionaries, including the students with their frivolous complaints and the University Equity and Diversity Establishment, would prefer to discuss.
Never mind whether children are traumatized by the divorce of their parents. Never mind whether children feel wounded by the state-sanctioned loss of one parent through third-party reproduction. Never mind whether surrogate mothers are fully informed about the health risks they face. Never mind whether some adoption practices improperly commercialize and commodify children and harm their mothers.
The university should drop all charges against Robert Oscar Lopez. Please sign our petition to the chancellor of the California State University System, asking him to drop all charges.
Posted on: Wednesday, July 01, 2015
posted by Jennifer Roback Morse
In a statement released on June 29, the Council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‐day Saints restates and reaffirms the doctrinal foundation of Church teachings on morality, marriage, and the family. The statement reads in part:
Consistent with our fundamental beliefs, Church officers will not employ their ecclesiastical authority to perform marriages between two people of the same sex, and the Church does not permit its meetinghouses or other properties to be used for ceremonies, receptions, or other activities associated with same‐sex marriages. Nevertheless, all visitors are welcome to our chapels and premises so long as they respect our standards of conduct while there.
The Ruth Institute expresses appreciation to the leadership of the Latter Day Saints for their clear teaching. If you wish to share your appreciation to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, you may write to them at:
Dear President Monson
President Thomas Monson
Office of the First Presidency
47 East South Temple Street,
(Pictured: Breana Jones and Jose Gonzales on their wedding day, at a Latter Day Saint temple. Breanna was a participant in the Ruth Institute's "It Takes a Family to Raise a Village" conference in 2013.)
Posted on: Wednesday, July 01, 2015
Posted by Jennifer Roback Morse
Bishop Robert McElroy, recently appointed Bishop of San Diego by Pope Francis, issued a statement on the Supreme Court's marriage ruling. The statement reads in part:
The Catholic Church, along with other faith traditions, teaches that the nature of marriage and the family cannot be redefined by society, as God is the author of marriage and its corresponding gift of co-creating human life. The legal recognition of marriage is not only about personal commitment but also about the social commitment that husband and wife make to the well-being of their children. It is for this reason that it is important for government to give a unique status to marriage between one man and one woman both in law and in public policy. The Catholic community of San Diego and Imperial counties will continue to honor and embody the uniqueness of marriage between one man and one woman as a gift from God- -in our teaching, our sacramental life and our witness to the world.
The Ruth Institute expresses its appreciation to the Bishop of San Diego for his clarity and leadership.
If you wish to thank Bishop McElroy, you may write to him at:
The Most Reverend Bishop Robert McElroy,
Bishop of San Diego
P.O. Box 85728
San Diego, CA 92186-5728
Posted on: Friday, June 26, 2015
You need to watch this. It's less than three minutes. Be sure to share it with your friends. Isn't Clinton's description of marriage remarkable?
Posted on: Tuesday, June 23, 2015
by Jennifer Johnson, Associate Director
June of 2013 was the last time the Supreme Court made a ruling on marriage. Remember how those "equals" signs went viral on social media at that time?
Why was that? I think one reason is that people really care about the ideal of equality. They believe that we should treat others fairly. I agree that
equality is a good ideal. It is not a perfect ideal, but it is a good one. We might wish the general public would talk about the marriage issue using
other concepts, but they don't. Right or wrong, they care about equality and that's how they think about marriage. So, since we know they care about
equality, shouldn't we talk about equality too? We can. And we can do it without sacrificing our principles.
Posted on: Wednesday, April 29, 2015
This article was first posted at Crisismagazine.com on April 29, 2015.
I want to thank those who took the time to respond to my recent article, “Why Religious Liberty Arguments Aren’t Working.” Our focus at the Ruth Institute is crafting sound arguments and clarifying the proper context for their use. Religious liberty arguments are a case in point. While there is merit in religious liberty arguments, we propose a broader strategy that will help all who are engaged in this greatest struggle of our time.
What I’m Not SayingI am NOT saying that lawyers like Matt Bowman and his colleagues at the Alliance Defending Freedom should stop taking religious liberty cases.
I am NOT saying that advocates should stop sticking up for Christians who have been harmed.
I am NOT denigrating the people who have lost their jobs, their businesses or their educational opportunities for the sake of their religious beliefs.
Never in a million years.
In fact, I support them all.
Nor am I saying that we don’t need religious liberty.
So what am I saying?
A Hypothetical DialogueA Christian baker refuses to bake and deliver a wedding cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding reception, citing deeply held religious beliefs. At one time, this might have been an acceptable legal argument providing protection from prosecution under anti-discrimination laws. This appears to be no longer the case.
But I’m not so interested in what will or won’t fly in a court of law. I trust the attorneys like Charles LiMandri, Jay Sekelow, Brad Dacus, Dean Broyles and all the wonderful men and women at the Alliance Defending Freedom to know their business. They know what arguments can and should be made in a court of law, under different sets of facts.
I’m getting at something else.
Suppose someone other than a lawyer questions the Christian baker: a news reporter or their next door neighbor or their lesbian co-worker.
“Why won’t you bake and deliver this cake?”
“Because my religion forbids gay marriage.”
“Why does your religion forbid gay marriage?”
“Because enacting gay marriage will force Christians to do things they don’t believe in.”
Do you see the problem? From the point of view of the non-religious person, this is not an answer at all. We cannot cite religious liberty as a free-standing argument at this point. If we do not provide our unchurched or poorly catechized neighbors with an answer that makes sense to them, they will supply their own answer:
“You won’t bake the cake because you hate gay people.”
Replying “no I don’t hate anyone” without offering a reason other than “my religion forbids it” just induces them to take an even further and more destructive step:
“In that case, your religion deserves to be suppressed.”
Now Matt Bowman may be correct that Americans have an instinctive sense of fair play that causes them to recoil from government coercion. I fear we are in danger of eroding that wholesome instinct if we do not offer reasons for our beliefs. The attractiveness of the florists, bakers and photographers, and the outrageousness of their maltreatment, may no longer be sufficient.
We need to give our countrymen reasons to do more than merely put up with us. We need to give them reasons to actively agree with us, endorse our views and work to put them into practice.
So What Do We Say?There are a number of possible arguments we can offer at this point.
We can say that redefining marriage is bad public policy. Our organization, the Ruth Institute, puts most of its energies into developing these kinds of arguments. We can present these public policy arguments in many different contexts. Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco is not simply saying, “I’m the Archbishop. I can run my schools any way I want.” No, Archbishop Cordileone is giving reasons why the Catholic view of marriage and family is good and beautiful and deserves to be presented in all its fullness.
Even this past weekend’s March for Marriage, which had religious liberty as its central theme, did not treat religious liberty as a free-standing issue. Most of the speakers gave reasons why genderless marriage is bad policy, quite apart from people’s First Amendment rights to oppose it. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that redefining marriage is an untried social experiment being performed on small children. This is a reason anyone should be able to understand, regardless of their religion. The Archbishop might have added: Jesus does not want us experimenting on small children.
Blind Faith Does Not Equal StupidityOften, our neighbors hear our religious liberty arguments as blind faith. “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” Believe it or not, I actually have some respect for the “blind faith” view. But standing alone, it doesn’t work. It is not even a properly Biblical position. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us, “Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.” (King James Version)
What are some reasons we could offer for the hope that is in us, the hope that allows us to face serious hardships rather than renounce our beliefs?
We trust God as our loving father, and that he wants what is best for us. For a child to relax into the care of a loving parent is actually reasonable and developmentally appropriate. And let’s face it. Compared to God, we are all just a bunch of little first-graders running around causing trouble and showing off.
However, our unchurched neighbors are not going to know what we are talking about, unless we give them something to work with.
I for instance, could say that I trust Church teaching because I learned from experience that the Church was right about abortion being harmful to women. I learned from experience that the Church was correct about hook-ups and sex outside of marriage. I was willing to give the Church the benefit of the doubt about Assisted Reproductive Technology, even though I had no experience with it. Eventually, I came to believe that the Church was correct about contraception, a view which I had resisted for a long time.
You no doubt, have reasons of your own to trust God, the Bible and Church teaching. Share those reasons. People need to hear them.
In the back of my mind, is always Pope Benedict’s Regensburg address. God is not arbitrary. His will is reasonable. God wills what is good: things do not become good just because God wills them. Disobeying the moral law hurts us in the natural order, here and now, not just in the supernatural realm of life after death. This is a basic point of Catholic natural law thinking.
To be effective in this arena, though, requires a different kind of preparation than we may be used to. We have to purge ourselves of anger and blame. We have to repent of our own sexual sins. We have to deal with our guilty consciences, which often block us from seeing and telling the truth. (See me, above, re: contraception!) We cannot flinch when someone brings up divorce, Third Party Reproduction, or anything else that harms the connections between children and parents.
I heard a particularly effective instance of this delivered by John-Henry Westin at the Cleveland Right to Life convention. He gave a personal confession, along with a heartfelt plea that others, especially but not exclusively, same sex attracted people, not do as he did.
As long as we are charitable and not casting unnecessary blame, we can talk about just about anything.
What Does Victory Look Like?Besides, what kind of victory are we seeking here anyhow?
“I will allow you to have your idiosyncratic, inexplicable and probably indefensible religious beliefs, if you will allow me to have mine.” I am not satisfied with that stalemate. We need an authentic victory before the bar of history.
Victory is people realizing that children need their own mother and father.
Hopefully people will realize it before too many children are harmed.
Let’s ensure that future generations can proclaim: “People of faith were the only ones who had the foresight to see what we needed and the fortitude to stand up and fight for us.”
Religious liberty is important. But it is not enough.