Imagine This Happening to Your House of Worship
Tuesday, September 3, 2013, 12:33 PM

IN this video, “Allahu akbar” is chanted as the Cross is pull down from this Coptic Church in Egypt. Kyrie eleison.

Why Is Reparative Therapy Illegal for Boys but Gender Surgery for Girls Not?
Friday, August 30, 2013, 11:36 AM

Because the illogic of the sexual revolution demands such insanity?

From the National Catholic Register’s Joan Frawley Desmond:

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has signed legislation banning  the practice of providing “gay conversion therapy,” also known as “reparative therapy” for teenagers seeking help with un-wanted same-sex attraction, the Washington Post reported today.

As I understand it, no counseling professional may assist a young man to get rid of unwanted homosexual attractions. Apparently this ‘orientation’ is immutable–or if it’s not, the individual must deal with them alone. He cannot get professional help if he wants it. And that’s because one’s sexual identity is not to be manipulated by others?

So if a professional can’t talk to minor about sexual orientation (because it’s fixed and messing with it is harmful?), then why was a professional doctor allowed to alter something as fixed as a biological body of a minor?

Skylar is a boy, but he was born a girl, and lived as one until the age of fourteen. Skylar would put it differently: he believes that, despite biological appearances, he was a boy all along. He’d just been burdened with a body that required medical and surgical adjustments so that it could reflect the gender he knew himself to be. At sixteen, he started getting testosterone injections every other week; just before he turned seventeen, he had a double mastectomy. (New Yorker)

So, if a young man wants to get rid of same-sex feelings, he can’t talk to a professional, but if a young girl wants to get rid of her breasts, it’s legal for her to have a doctor cut them off? Really?

Mohler: ‘It is the Price of Citizenship’?—An Elegy for Religious Liberty in America
Wednesday, August 28, 2013, 3:53 PM

Leading cultural commentator R. Albert Mohler Jr. writes about a New Mexico Supreme Court decision denying religious liberty claims of photographers who declined a request to photograph a same-sex committment ceremony.

albertmohler headshot 200x300 Mohler: It is the Price of Citizenship?—An Elegy for Religious Liberty in AmericaBy R. Albert Mohler Jr.

Anyone who still doubts that the normalization of homosexuality and the legalization of same-sex marriage will represent a seismic shift in the culture at large needs only to look to New Mexico to see that nothing less than religious liberty is now under threat—and in a big way.

Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin are the owners of Elane Photography, a firm that operates as a commercial photographic studio. Elaine is the lead photographer and the Huguenins together run the business. In 2006, the couple refused to photograph a same-sex couple’s commitment ceremony and were sued. Last week the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that the Huguenins had violated the human rights of the same-sex couple and that the First Amendment does not allow Elane Photography to refuse to photograph same-sex unions.

The court’s decision was unanimous, upholding a 2012 decision by an appeals court. The court’s decision declared that the Huguenins had acted unlawfully in refusing to photograph the same-sex commitment, even when Elaine Huguenin had argued that to force her to photograph the celebration of a same-sex ceremony was to force her to function as a celebrant and thereby to violate her own conscience. That last part of the Huguenin’s argument has to do with the fact that photography is “expressive” as an art form. There is no way that photographing a same-sex ceremony would not require the professional photographer to arrange and construct photographs in order to artistically celebrate the same-sex union.

The court concluded: “When Elane Photography refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, it violated the NMHRA [New Mexico Human Rights Act] in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races.” The court then further concluded: “Even if the services it offers are creative or expressive, Elane Photography must offer its services to customers without regard for the customers’ race, sex, sexual orientation, or other protected classification.”

Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin are Christians who believe that marriage is exclusively the union of a man and a woman. They further believe that they are responsible and faithful only if they avoid any explicit or implied endorsement of same-sex marriage. They insisted that they do not discriminate on the basis of the sexual orientation of the potential client, but only on the basis of the ceremony they are asked to photograph.

The New Mexico Supreme Court dismissed all of the arguments presented on behalf of the Huguenins—arguments that have a very clear precedent in decisions by other courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States. The decision in this case by this court is both stark and strident, rejecting the reality that its holding forces a wedding photographer to make an artistic statement against a religious sentiment by supporting certain celebrations that the photographer in fact does not support.

The court’s ruling sets a very dangerous precedent: “If a commercial photography business believes that the [New Mexico Human Rights Act] stifles its creativity, it can remain in business, but it can cease to offer its services to the public at large. Elane Photography’s choice to offer its services to the public is a business decision, not a decision about its freedom of speech.” (more…)

A Response to “John” Regarding Pastor Lively
Wednesday, August 21, 2013, 8:47 PM


Earlier this week, I posted a blog about a federal court decision to proceed in a lawsuit against Pastor Scott Lively of Massachusetts.  The lawsuit, brought by a group of Ugandan homosexuals, claimed that Pastor Lively’s advocacy in Uganda of a biblical standard of human sexuality constituted a “crime against humanity.”  In one of the comments in response to my blog, “John” observed the following:

Michael Avramovich: “Thus, under the judge’s theory of liability, if you oppose homosexual marriage, or have worked or contributed in opposition to such a “marriage,” or disfavor any special rights for homosexuals in the workplace, etc.”  Scott Lively is not simply opposing same sex marriage.  He is the most extreme of extremists and a sick and dangerous man.  Among his fever dreams are that gays helped mastermind the Holocaust and were responsible for the Rwandan genocide.  He has been active in stirring up hatred in a situation already charged with violence.  Judge Ponsor initially had doubts about allowing the case to go forward.  As I understand it, all Ponsor has done is allowed the case to go to discovery.  He states that, according to the complaint, “the Defendants actions have fallen well outside the protections of the First Amendment.”  Ponsor acknowledged that the “protection of ‘thought we hate’ is a centerpiece of our democracy,” but added that the complaint “sets out plausible claims to hold Defendant liable for his role in systematic persecution, rather than merely for opinions that Plaintiff finds abhorrent.”  I suspect that, because of ATCA, the plaintiffs will probably not prevail.  However, if Lively indeed encouraged “systematic persecution,” it is important that this comes out in discovery. This will allow us all to come to educated conclusions, regardless of the outcome of the case (which may be limited on technical grounds.)

I do not know Pastor Lively and have actually never heard of him until this lawsuit was well underway, so I cannot opine as to whether he is the “most extreme of extremists and a sick and dangerous man,” as “John” contends.  Moreover, “John” seems to have some inside knowledge about the Honorable Judge Ponsor, as “John” suggested that the judge had some initial doubts about allowing this case to go forward.

I have had the privilege to live and travel throughout the world, and those who have had the privilege to know Africans, and African Christians in particular, know that they are traditional and conservative, and oppose homosexual (and other non-matrimonial) sexual practices.  (I have heard one Sunday morning a Nigerian pastor, for instance, warn strongly that some of the women in his congregation were “whores” for taking up with both unmarried and married men.  It was not the typical message one hears on Sunday morning in the American heartland.)  In the lawsuit by the Ugandan homosexuals, they attributed Pastor Lively’s sermons in Uganda to be the primary impetus for Ugandan government restrictions on homosexual practices.  If true, this is an interesting attestation of Pastor Lively’s strong persuasive abilities, and may explain why the Soros-funded Center for Constitutional Rights targeted Pastor Lively.  But I remind my American readers that criminalization of sodomy statutes in the United States were not struck down by the Supreme Court until 2003, so perhaps for at least one American federal judge, the Ugandan government is not “evolving” as quickly as he thinks it should.

In any event, I wanted to take the time to respond to “John’s” thoughtful comment, but my original blog warned that Judge Ponsor’s decision could have a chilling effect on Christian pastors, missionaries, and devout believers to preach from the Bible.  The fact that this case is going forward in federal court federalizes and criminalizes viewpoint discrimination against Christians.  From comments made on pro-homosexual and Leftist blogs about this case, one reads vehement anti-Christian comments.  A small, unedited sample includes the following:

Mr. Pink: I thought I would have to wait decades to see this day. Literally, decades. There is justice in the world after all !!!!

Marcus Adams: Christianity is a Crime Against Humanity.

Jon Bond: Crimes against humanity, aid in the persecution and murder of fellow men the world over, unprovoked, unwarranted and out-of-the-way fanaticism to murder and kill GLBT peeps the world over; all perpetrated, accepted, sanctioned, blessed and justified in the NAME OF GOD?

David L. Martin: Terrific! We need to see more individuals and institutions that have advocated the persecution of gays sued. The catholic church which has taught anti gay hate from pulpits and in schools for centuries for comes resulting in much violence and discrimination against gays.

We can clearly see a trend by homosexuals and their allies who seek to silence and intimidate anyone who rejects affirmation of their “lifestyle.”  Moreover, I can expect that the anti-Christian rabble will increasingly use the legal and criminal justice system to extract high costs for proclaiming biblical truths.  So, you have been forewarned for such things have happened before.  (We must never forget what was done to my dear brother in Christ, Joseph Scheidler, by the forces of evil.  In case you have forgotten, please read here.)

As the legal issues in this case are clear, in normal times, I think that Judge Ponsor’s decision will be overturned sooner rather than later for his complete disregard of the Supreme Court’s recent decision restricting the use of the Alien Torts Claim Act in this type of case.  But, sadly, these are not normal times, and I can easily imagine appellate judges refusing to follow the law for fear from Leftists and their allies, and for Messrs. Obama and Holder intervening in this case to make sure that Pastor Lively’s views will be forever suppressed, and that he will be destroyed financially.  If you want to read the Honorable Judge Ponsor’s Opinion in this case, you can read it here.  I hope that this clarifies things more fully for you, my friend “John.”


Chicago’s Safe (and Unsafe) Zones for Kids
Friday, August 9, 2013, 11:03 AM

“Chicago Public Schools added nearly $8 million to the program and is hiring an additional 600 people to escort students along designated safety routes during arrival and dismissal times.”

Does the publishing of safe passage routes mean other routes are not safe? In many cases the “safe” passage is only one block long in each of four directions from the school–many other blocks undesignated “Safe Passage” must be traversed in order to get to school. These are not just high schools, but middle schools and elementary schools. They are not citywide, but selected–mostly determined by the fact that the City CLOSED many schools this year, forcing some students to walk from a closed local school district to one that is nearby, thus having to walk through areas they hadn’t before. But a one block-long safe passage zone seems to me to be a bandaid. They closed the schools to save money, and now they are spending $8 million to address the concerns of parents caused by the closings.

The streets here are a mess in terms of violence in certain neighborhoods (these safe passages are not all in what I would have called ‘bad neighborhoods, by the way), and the policies that have been put in place by the city leaders here for the past 40 years have not made the slightest difference in the prospects of a young child growing up in these neighborhoods, nor is there the slightest discernible difference being made today by these policies such that you could plausibly project a turnaround in the near or distant future. Until something really radical is done (and don’t ask me what–I am not running for office telling people how I will help change their lives), the local news coverage 40 years from now will be about shootings, gangs, drugs (maybe), and other features of a neighborhood in which a 5-year-old boy has the same chance of ending up in prison as one does now. This is not compassion. It’s indifference, as long as the votes can be farmed.


IRS Is Currently Harassing Pro-Life Groups
Friday, August 2, 2013, 10:18 AM

The Thomas More Society has issued a statement detailing the continuing harassment of Pro-Life groups by the IRS. Their press release for the statement includes:

“Despite claims by the Obama Administration that the harassment has ceased, the Society produced over 250 pages of documentation showing that the federal government is still interrogating pro-life groups beyond the scope of its legal authority, infringing upon these organizations’ First Amendment rights of assembly, free speech, and religious liberty.”

“Despite claims to the contrary, the IRS continues to target and harass pro-life and conservative charities, illegally questioning their religious activities and withholding their tax exemptions,” said Peter Breen vice president and senior counsel of the Thomas More Society. “We have now produced irrefutable evidence of six clients whose First Amendment rights were trampled upon by the IRS because of their position upholding the sanctity of life. Even after public disclosure of this wrongdoing, the Obama Administration’s IRS has refused to cease its illegal activity. We will continue to aid Congress in its investigation until those responsible are brought to justice and the IRS is made to respect every American’s constitutional rights.”

Dated July 19, 2013, Exhibit F-3 in supplemental documentation posted on-line includes this IRS request to a Florida pro-life organization which has been seeking non-profit approval for over a year: “Will you promote demonstrations and/or rallies at clinic [sic] and/or hospitals to stop abortions in your community? If so, please explain.” (The request can be seen on page 195 of the 227 pages.)

Perhaps American citizens might ask the IRS: “Will you drag your feet and ask improper questions to any pro-life organizations to hamper and/or stop pro-life activities in the United States? If so, please explain.”

A Plague of Insomnia Leads to Amnesia…
Friday, July 19, 2013, 12:10 PM

Bernard Aparicio writes at the blog at Dappled Things about the vocation of teaching and the goal of education through the lens of a fictional and fascinating “plague of insomnia.” (He is also the author of The Possible Dream: The Quixotic Wisdom of Don Quijote’s Sancho in the July/August 2010 issue of Touchstone.) His story of how he discovered meaning in education beyond training is encouraging.

Oscar Wilde & Orson Scott Card
Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 10:02 AM

By Greg Laughlin

In 1895, Oscar Wilde was convicted of “gross indecency” and sentenced to two years’ hard labor.  The term “gross indecency” was an legal euphemism for homosexual behavior.  As a result of his conviction, the librarians at the St. Louis Public Library and the Newark Public Library removed Wilde’s books from their collections.  The books had been on the shelves for a while and the librarians apparently had no objection to their contents.  The librarians removed them strictly because they disapproved of the behavior for which Wilde was convicted.  In 1984, in her book, Forbidden Books in American Public Libraries, 1876-1939: A Study in Cultural Change, Evelyn Geller used this incident to criticize censorship, specifically, in this case, censorship based on disapproval of the author, not his works.

Today, Orson Scott Card finds himself in a somewhat similar situation, again because of “gross indecency.” However, this time, the author’s “gross indecency” was having the temerity to condemn homosexuality and oppose same-sex “marriage.” A group called “Geeks OUT” is calling for a boycott of the movie Ender’s Game, based on Card’s best-selling and award-winning book of the same title.  The movie, which stars Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley and Oscar nominees Harrison Ford, Viola Davis, Hailee Steinfeld, and Abigail Breslin, is scheduled to open in theaters on November 1, 2013.

On its web site promoting the boycott, Geeks OUT quotes Card from a February 1990 article in Sunstone Magazine: “Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.”

Geeks OUT also points to Card being a board member of the National Organization for Marriage, an organization which has worked to prevent legal recognition of same-sex “marriage.”

As with Oscar Wilde, the opposition to Ender’s Game has absolutely nothing to do with its content.  Geeks OUT is calling for a boycott specifically because of Card’s conduct.  There is division within the gay rights community over this call for a boycott.  Oscar-winning writer and gay rights activist Dustin Lance Black has criticized the boycott, calling it “misguided.”

Free speech advocates who are aware of the censorship of Wilde’s work nearly 120 years ago condemn it as an indefensible act.  And so it was.  I am sure that those who are calling for boycotts of Ender’s Game would be among those condemning it if they are aware of it.  And they would likely do so for the simple fact that an author’s conduct which has no relationship whatsoever to his work is an especially bad reason to censor it.

Admittedly, there is a difference between calling for a boycott of a movie and pulling a book from a library shelf.  The former is a call for private action.  The latter is a state action.  Legally, they are different.  But the spirit behind them is the same.  As Dustin Lance Black observed, efforts to punish writers for their conduct unrelated to their work by in any way censoring their work is “misguided.”  Further, it represents an intolerance which groups like Geeks OUT purport to condemn.  Let’s hope that Geeks OUT recognizes this and withdraws their call for a boycott of Ender’s Game.  Otherwise, they will, in time, come to be identified with the long list of those who have sought to censor authors and artists not for the content of their works, but because they disapprove of their conduct.

–Greg Laughlin

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone Video Interview
Thursday, June 27, 2013, 11:35 AM

In this video, San Francisco’s Catholic Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone spends 25 minutes with Orthodox Priest Fr. Josiah Trenham discussing “gay marriage,” its rise, and its roots in the 60s.

Russell Moore on the SCOTUS Rulings
Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 2:22 PM

Senior Editor Russell, who is now President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, weighs in today’s high court rulings on “‘Gay’ Marriage” on his blog here and at ERLC here, the latter with a list of things your church should do.

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