Speaking to the Notre Dame Law School back in 2019, then Attorney General William Barr warned about the “force, fervor, and comprehensiveness of the assault on religion.”
“This is not decay,” he cautioned. “It is organized destruction. Secularists, and their allies among the ‘progressives,’ have marshaled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.”
In our first story, it’s suggested it all started with one simple term:
1. Assault on Religious Liberty Began with an Innocuous-Sounding Phrase
From National Review:
In 2013, President Barack Obama opened his proclamation with the statement “Foremost among the rights Americans hold sacred is the freedom to worship as we choose.” Since then, many Democrats and progressives have adopted the phrase “freedom of worship” while avoiding the phrase “free exercise of religion.” The “free exercise” wording comes from the opening line of the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
It may seem trivial, but there’s a big difference between freedom of worship and the free exercise of religion. Those on the left understand the difference, and that’s why they speak of freedom of worship and avoid the words of the First Amendment.
Words matter. When politicians speak of freedom of worship, they are saying that you are free to worship any way you choose in your home or in your house of worship. But they don’t want your religion to affect the way you live your life in public or the way you conduct your business. Democrats and progressives say that you are perfectly free to pray and worship in any way you choose — as long as you do so behind closed doors.
- Texas Governor Abbott Signs Bill Requiring Athletes to Compete on Teams that Align with Biological Gender
With Gov. Greg Abbott signing a bill into law Monday that restricts transgender student athletes from playing on school sports teams that align with their gender identity, Texas now joins at least five other states that have passed similar measures in recent months, according to the Associated Press.
Under the new law, students in Texas will only be permitted to compete on sports teams that correspond to the gender listed on their birth certificate that was assigned at or near the time of birth. The law goes into effect in January of next year.
Julie Rodriguez, Deputy Assistant to the President and director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, and senior staff held the roundtable “to hear firsthand how recent anti-transgender legislation has harmed the safety, wellbeing, and freedom of countless children in Texas,” the White House said.
González, who tuned into the meeting with Reps. Julie Johnson of Farmers Branch and Ann Johnson of Houston, said “it was more of a listening session” for the White House staff, who invited them to attend.
“It was more so hearing our concerns… stressing that this is an issue that is important for the administration and just trying to find out how they can be supportive,” González said. “Of course, one of those is passing the Equality Act.”
- Congressman Jim Banks Suspended from Twitter for Calling Rachel Levine a ‘Man’
From The Daily Citizen:
Congressman Jim Banks was recently suspended from Twitter after referring to Dr. Rachel Levine as a “man.” Twitter said this violated its policy against “hateful conduct.”
Dr. Levine is a biological male who identifies as a female. He recently became the “first openly transgender four-star officer” in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.
A press release from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also called Dr. Levine the “first female four-start admiral” in the corps.
In response, Rep. Banks tweeted, “The title of first female four-star officer gets taken by a man.”
Twitter subsequently suspended his account, locking the congressman out until he removed the offending tweet.
4. The tenets of our liberal culture are getting even more ridiculous
From the Washington Examiner:
The doctrines of our liberal culture have only become more absurd over the years, even as it’s clear that only a fraction of the country actually believes them.
It is absurd enough to embrace the idea that there are no biological differences between men and women, especially when applied to women’s sports. But a Democratic Oklahoma state representative took it a step further, criticizing Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt for stating that there is “no such thing as nonbinary sex.”
But Stitt, like Banks, is correct. There is no such thing as “nonbinary sex,” just as it is true that Levine is not the first female four-star officer. Biology still exists. Science is real. It is not hateful conduct, as Twitter and that Oklahoma Democrat claim, to acknowledge that.
5. It’s high time for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe
From World Magazine:
The Supreme Court may finally be poised to overrule Roe v. Wade—its worst standing decision. The Roe Court’s blessing of a constitutional right to elective abortion up until a baby can survive outside her mother’s womb finds no basis in constitutional text, structure, or original understanding. Roe v. Wade is as lawless as it is immoral. It is also supremely anti-democratic.
To understand why, one must look at the origin of our constitutional rights. Some of them are easily identified in the Constitution’s text. The right to a jury of one’s peers, the right to freely exercise one’s religion, the right to carry a weapon for purposes of self-defense—those rights are all clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights.
And then there’s the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits states from depriving “any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” When it was adopted, the Due Process Clause was interpreted according to its text, to require certain processes: an impartial tribunal, notice, and an opportunity to be heard. Yet, the early 20th century saw the Supreme Court expand due process to include unenumerated rights—rights nowhere mentioned in the Constitution or imaginable to the Founders. Using so-called “substantive due process”—a doctrine as illogical as its name—the Court exercised unilateral power to create constitutional rights.
When it comes down to it, virtually no constitutional scholar thinks Roe was rightly decided. The decision even spawned a book written by top law professors trying to redeem the decision, entitled “What Roe v. Wade Should Have Said.” Even liberal law professors understand the problems with the decision and the Court’s logic. Harvard’s Professor Lawrence Tribe has explained that “nothing in the Supreme Court’s opinion [in Roe] provides a satisfactory explanation” for why a state may not protect unborn life before viability.
Even the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg thought Roe was too extreme. She called the decision “breathtaking” and “difficult to justify,” criticized it as an “extreme model” of court intervention, and faulted the Court for improperly removing the issue from the democratic arena.
But the preservation of Roe is a sacred cause to the pro-abortion movement and to the world of liberal lawyers, law professors, and judges.
Nearly 50 years under such a poorly reasoned decision is enough. It is time the Supreme Court owns its mistake in inventing a constitutional right to an abortion from its imagination. It is high time to reverse Roe v. Wade.
- Families of kidnapped missionaries in Haiti preach forgiveness as gang leader threatens to kill loved ones
From the Christian Post:
Despite the threat of execution, Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement on Saturday that the “families are united in their desire to follow Jesus’ teaching of forgiveness.”
“As a group of Christians, our King [Jesus] said that He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance,” an unidentified family member shared. “That is our desire for the men who are part of the gang.”
While negotiations for the missionaries’ release continue between the gang and officials in the troubled Caribbean nation and the U.S., a video of Joseph, which began circulating on social media last Thursday, showed the crime boss wasn’t pleased with the pace of negotiations.
“I swear by thunder that if I don’t get what I’m asking for, I will put a bullet in the heads of these Americans,” Joseph threatened, according to a translation cited by Bloomberg Quicktake.
When asked about the missionaries during a press briefing last Thursday, Karine Jean-Pierre cited recent comments made by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the matter.
“We have in the administration been relentlessly focused on this, including sending a team to Haiti from the State Department; working very closely with the FBI, which is the lead in these kinds of matters; in constant communication with the Haitian National Police, the church that the missionaries belong to, as well as the Haitian government. And we will do everything that we can to help resolve the situation,” Blinken said.
7. America’s fertility decline is about more than money. It’s about a society that doesn’t like kids.
From The Week:
As America’s birth rate continues its years-long descent, it’s getting harder to ignore that the U.S. is a difficult place to raise children. Some argue we need to provide parents with more material support, such as paid parental leave, child care, or cash allowances if we want people to have more babies, while skeptics note that those policies haven’t increased fertility much in other countries. I’m a strong proponent of robust family policies, but I’ll admit that they might not be enough to convince me to have another child — because it’s not just the financial or professional toll of parenting that worries me.
There is a cultural weight dangling from the yoke of modern American parenthood — one that is probably beyond the government to alleviate. The very same logic of self-sufficiency that rationalizes our anemic family policies — “Don’t have kids if you can’t afford them” — underpins our social expectations for children, and by extension, parents. It echoes in the grumbling about unruly kids disturbing the tranquility of public life and the censure of incompetent parents unwilling or unable to manage them.
Children are a personal choice and therefore a personal problem, many people seem to believe. Have as many as you want — just make sure they don’t bother the rest of us.
The problem is that this credo is totally out of step with reality. All babies cry. Even the best-raised toddlers have poor motor control and still-developing emotional regulation. They talk a little too loud and ask a million questions and occasionally lose their minds when they bump up against a boundary and find it doesn’t move out of the way for them. A world full of perfect parents is not a world without tears and temper tantrums. Pretending otherwise sets completely unrealistic expectations for those navigating life with little children in tow.
I know of no way to legislate widespread tolerance for children into American culture. Parental leave and child allowances can ease the financial strain of parenting and make it easier for parents to stay tethered to their professional circles. And we could probably do a lot more to design public spaces in a way that doesn’t set parents up for failure. (How about no more stacks of glass objects within toddlers’ reach?)
But the truth is that even in an America with policies and public squares designed for them, children would still act like children. We will have to decide for ourselves whether we are willing to welcome them as they are.
- The New Question Haunting Adoption
From The Atlantic:
Ever since I entered what can generously be called my “mid-30s,” doctors have asked about my pregnancy plans at every appointment. Because I’m career-minded and generally indecisive, I’ve always had a way of punting on this question, both in the doctor’s office and elsewhere. Well, we can always adopt, I’ll think, or say out loud to my similarly childless and wishy-washy friends. Adoption, after all, doesn’t depend on your oocyte quality. And, as we’ve heard a million times, there are so many babies out there who need a good home.
But that is not actually true. Adopting a baby or toddler is much more difficult than it was a few decades ago. Of the nearly 4 million American children who are born each year, only about 18,000 are voluntarily relinquished for adoption. Though the statistics are unreliable, some estimates suggest that dozens of couples are now waiting to adopt each available baby. Since the mid-1970s—the end of the so-called baby-scoop era, when large numbers of unmarried women placed their children for adoption—the percentage of never-married women who relinquish their infants has declined from nearly 9 percent to less than 1 percent.
In 2010, Bethany Christian Services, the largest Protestant adoption agency in the U.S., placed more than 700 infants in private adoptions. Last year, it placed fewer than 300. International adoptions have not closed the gap. The number of children American parents adopt each year from abroad has declined rapidly too, from 23,000 in 2004 (an all-time high) to about 3,000 in 2019.
Plenty of children who aren’t babies need families, of course. More than 100,000 children are available for adoption from foster care. But adoptive parents tend to prefer children who are what some in the adoption world call “AYAP”—as young as possible. When I recently searched AdoptUSKids, the nationwide, government-funded website for foster-care adoptions, only about 40 kids under age 5, out of the 4,000 registered, appeared in my search. Many of those 40 had extensive medical needs or were part of a sibling group—a sign that the child is in even greater need of a stable family, but also a more challenging experience for their adoptive parents.
9. The Pastoral Virtue of Playfulness
From the Gospel Coalition:
Early in my ministry I stumbled across Calvin Seerveld’s reflections on what he calls “aesthetic obedience.” In his book Rainbows for the Fallen World, Seerveld argues for playfulness as a necessary contra-practice for our deeply embedded Protestant work ethic. He challenges us who rightly take sin and work seriously to consider:
God wants playful, imagining, and comic incidents to take place in his world. The Lord made room for a sense of humor, for fantasies of winged horses, for the fun of making-believe as when children “play house.” And God saw that it was good.
Reading Seerveld in 1985 encouraged me occasionally to stop in the middle of my sermon-making just to stare out the window and let my mind follow the paths it needed to travel. Studies 35 years later show that such playful, non-directed daydreaming serves creativity. But to justify daydreaming or other types of play by saying it serves productivity is to risk corrupting it. God invites us to enjoy this spectacular world.
But, Seerveld observes, we don’t often go on bike rides just for the delight of the thing itself. We do so because we are training for a race or building our cardiovascular health. We have forgotten how to play for the sheer enjoyment of it.
- A Hundred Years of Listening to Baseball
From the Wall Street Journal:
This year’s World Series, starting on Tuesday, marks a century of the Fall Classic on the radio. On Oct. 5, 1921, a reporter from the Newark Sunday Call stationed at the Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan passed reports by telegraph to the newspaper office. The sports editor relayed information by phone to WJZ radio announcer Thomas Cowan, who would then repeat it for the listening audience. By the end of the game, Cowan didn’t even know who had won; it took all of his brainpower simply to recite what he was being told.
It was a primitive setup, but it launched what has turned out to be the perfect marriage between medium and sport. Baseball has been played since the 19th century, but it might as well have been invented for radio. “Television takes your imagination away,” said Al Michaels, the longtime sportscaster who now calls Sunday Night Football for NBC. “If you’re listening to a game on the radio, you can dream along with the game.”
Radio broadcasts exist for many sports, but none of them work quite as well as baseball. Ironically, that’s because of a quality that today might be the largest existential threat to baseball: the languid pace of the game. Basketball and hockey are nonstop action, moving too fast to truly appreciate with audio alone. Football progresses at a consistent rhythm: A team runs a play, analysts discuss it for 30 seconds or so, then another play unfolds, with little room for extra talk.
Baseball on radio has lasted 100 years, surviving the rise of TV and the internet. The practitioners of the craft—and millions of people who love the game—hope it lasts 100 more. “It’s a marvelous way to hear a sport,” Mr. Scully said. “Especially baseball.”