Tag Archive for: Religious Freedom

$30K a year, and my kid can’t tell the difference between a boy and a girl

Parents must hold their local school systems accountable for what is taught to their children.


Everything has a price.

Like every American family, our family runs a constant cost/benefit analysis on our lives. There are the small decisions: is it worth the time to drive to Target for the cheaper diapers? Or should I just get the pricier ones at the grocery store? And there are the bigger ones: like, should I live in the suburbs and pay lower taxes but more for car expenses and gas? Or flip that decision?

For our family, one of the toughest decisions was where to send our kids to school. We could send them across the street to the poorly performing public school for free. They’d meet a wide variety of kids and learn some valuable self-advocacy skills, but they would not be academically challenged. For $30k, I could send them to the nearby private school, where they’d benefit from engaged teachers, kids, and families. We’d have to drop the music lessons and fancy trips, but hey — I don’t like Disneyland anyway.

So, with some scholarships, sacrifices, and family assistance, we made the choice to send our kids to a fancy private school. The benefits have been great: warm, caring, patient teachers; outstanding academics; beautiful buildings; even a pretty good lunch. But there’s been a hidden cost, beyond the incredibly painful tuition bills: my kids can’t tell the difference between a boy and a girl.

This seems shocking, I know. How can a concept so obvious, so instinctual that nearly every 2-year-old on the planet can master it, be an idea that my very expensively-educated children don’t understand?

Simple-minded educators

Because some teachers don’t understand it. Because some administrators don’t understand it. And this is where I have to remind myself of something true: half the world is dumber than average.

I know this sounds incredibly snobby. I know this sounds judgmental and awful, but this is true. And this fact helps me take a breath, find some compassion, and slow down.

These teachers are good people. They are kind. They like kids, and want the best for children. They believe that education can make the world a better place. And additionally, they were hired for their people skills: they are empathetic, good communicators, patient, and open-minded. Those are exactly the skills my tuition dollars are paying for.

But these teachers are not well-trained critical thinkers. They were not hired for their ability to analyse complex research studies, nor to follow the various paths of different complex scenarios. They are not philosophers, ethicists, or religious scholars. They are not lawyers or developmental psychologists. They are not endocrinologists or pediatricians. They are experts at connecting to kids and explaining the types of K-12 content that kids should learn. Thank god for teachers and their talents and skills. Our society needs them. But they are not the experts here. They are just trying to do their jobs.

So when faced with the concept of “gender identity” — the idea that “people have an innate feeling of being female or male,” the typical teacher will say “Sure — that makes sense. I’m female, I know it. That’s not a controversial idea.”

When faced with the diagnostic definition of “gender dysphoria”, the idea that “some people have great distress with their biological sex, and wish they were the opposite sex,” these teachers say, “Sure — I know about Jazz Jennings and Caitlyn Jenner. That’s a real thing.”

When faced with the fact of “Disorders of Sexual Development” (formerly known as Intersex conditions), the scientifically observed and natural phenomena of various biological sexual characteristics and markers, teachers say, “Yep — I learned about that once.”

And when urged to consider the negative impacts of the difficulty of being an outlier, and the impacts of social isolation and/or ostracism, the teachers say, “Not on my watch. My cousin was gay and poorly treated. I won’t let any of my kids be bullied or left out.”

So when teachers combine all these ideas and impressions and blend them into their natural “be nice” personalities and “open-minded” natures, they are primed to become believers and advocates of transgender ideology. If Johnny likes skirts and thinks he’s really a girl inside, who are we to judge? We really can’t blame the teachers. They were born this way.

So our society has laid yet another burden of expectation on teachers. They must educate kids, they must socialise kids, they must address and resolve the emotional and behavioural dysfunctions of these kids. And now they must be responsible for nurturing, protecting, and advocating for the “internal feeling of being female or male” for a kid, otherwise they’ll be held responsible for the kid’s ostracism.

This is nuts. These teachers don’t stand a chance.

To the top

So we can’t fight the teachers. We’ve got to get the administrators and school boards to stop, listen, and think. These people were hired to be critical thinkers, to balance different opinions, to consider the different consequences of different choices. They still aren’t likely to read the studies or think through the ethical or philosophical consequences of different complex scenarios, but they are primed to consider one thing above all: legal threats.

Right now, principals and school boards are hiding behind the guidelines that WPATH (an activist-led organisation), the American Psychological Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals have created. These organisations have good intentions, but they are also human and flawed (and remember — half their members are below average). Even the ACLU seems to have lost its mind on this topic.

I suggest American parents adopt the “Maya Forstater Approach.” This strategy, based on the case in England, relies on fundamental and constitutional American legal rights: free speech and free religion. I don’t care if you haven’t been to church ever. This is what you say to your school board:

“For scientific, religious, and social reasons, I do not believe that you can change your sex, and I do not want my children to be taught “gender identity”, the belief that you have a gendered soul, and that your gender soul feelings trump your biology. How is your school protecting my family’s religious beliefs and our right to be free from compelled speech?”

Ask your school’s principal this question every Fall. Send it as a statement to your kids’ teachers every fall. Tell them to inform you of any lesson on gender identity before it happens so that your children can have a substitute lesson. Ask them what their policy on requesting pronouns is, so that your child does not feel compelled to use certain speech. Ask them how they balance different opinions on this topic in the community.

I can guarantee you they do not see this as a religious issue, but as a social justice issue. Say the magic words “freedom of religion/freedom from religion” and “freedom of speech” and see if that works. We’ve got a long history of protecting underdogs in this country, and right now the culture glorifies the status of victim. Use this knowledge wisely.

And here’s the thing: this is going to cost you. Be ready. Do the cost/benefit analysis. Whether your kids are getting a free public education or an expensive private one, when you ruffle the feathers of the principal, the winds blow. Then again, if you remain silent, your kid may not understand that sex never changes. Be prepared. Everything has a cost.

This article has been republished from Parents with Inconvenient Truths about Trans (PITT).

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RELATED ARTICLE: “Without Logos, the West is lost”

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VIDEO: The Vortex — Either/Or

We’ll know God’s will shortly.


TRANSCRIPT

Church Militant (a 501(c)4 corporation) is responsible for the content of this commentary.

What has faithful Catholics (as well as non-Catholics who are men of goodwill) so bothered in their core about this election is one simple thing: The potential conquest of evil over truth on a grand scale.

Of course, we know that at the end of the world or at each person’s death, truth is victorious. But we aren’t living at the moment of the end of the world right now. At the present moment, the forces of evil have so well organized themselves and brought their power to bear — focused on the defeat of Trump — that a temporal victory by them would be devastating.

It would (at least temporarily) crush the spirits of good people everywhere. When you stop and think about the considerable forces arrayed against Trump, it’s truly troublesome. There is not a single power that has not aligned against him. And remember, it’s not really Trump himself who is their target. It’s what he says and promotes.

Sure, they probably don’t like him personally either, but that’s not the point. What they hate about him is his frankness about their evil. So evil has collectivized and is on the road to conquering, at least that is how it appears. There is so much misinformation out there — spread by an evil media devoted to destroying truth — that you don’t really know what to think, who to listen to, what’s real, what’s not, what’s a good guess.

And when it comes to the polls, even considering that the vast majority were pretty wrong in 2016, this year is a different story. There are a few things the seasoned poll watcher looks for in assessing a poll. Here’s a sample:

  • What’s the margin of the lead?
  • Has one candidate breached the 50% mark and sustained it for a while?
  • What’s the sample size?
  • What’s the margin of error?
  • Were those polled likely voters or just registered voters?
  • What was the distribution of those polled among Republican, Democrat and Independent?

Those are all key questions. And here’s the concern as of today: Even the reliable polling agencies (like Rasmussen and IDB) are coming into line with the corrupt media polling outfits. Rasmussen and IDB were the two outfits that got it right in 2016. The other major polls were all wrong — some really wrong.

So as nearly all the polls right now are beginning to show what looks like is shaping up to be something of a Biden landslide, it would not be wise to simply say they are all wrong — nothing to see here folks, and so forth.

One small caveat before we go on to the major point: Every poll begins with an assumption about voter turnout. They build their entire projection based on a somewhat-educated guess about how many people will actually vote. Laying aside the technical aspects of how they arrive at that projection, suffice it to say that their entire prediction rises and falls on that guess.

If a larger-than-assumed number of voters turn out (a surprise turnout it’s called) for one candidate or the other, then the pre-election polls get thrown out the window. But of course, there’s no way to know that until Election Day or after.

So today, we have to go with what’s in front of us, and from a spiritual point of view, we have an either/or situation. Let’s go with the “Biden landslide” scenario. Either God is whittling down His army, ensuring that everyone understands victory would be impossible without Him (like he did with Gideon whom He sent to attack and defeat the Midianite camp).

Recall, Gideon started with an army of 32,000, and God told him to keep cutting it down — it was too big; lose more soldiers. Not enough: Lose even more. Eventually, Gideon had only 300. And, of course, it was then that God said okay, attack.

The point being — no one could look at that battle victory and ascribe it to anyone else other than God. So we might have something like that going on. Or we could have the following scenario: The Church is in desperate need of cleansing. The crooked hierarchy has to be purged.

Nothing these men, many of whom are straight-up wicked, have encountered on an earthly level has dislodged them from their evil and cowardice. The Church is being destroyed on their watch. So since nothing human seems to have any impact, God is allowing people to come to power who will launch a full-scale persecution against the Church where these men will be simply be killed or imprisoned.

All their influence and power will be taken away — not to mention their wealth — and that will be that. And no, even though they have been complicit in bringing about the fall of Western civilization, they will not be spared by their fellow Marxists. They will be executed because they will no longer be useful to the cause.

They will not die as Catholic martyrs, but Catholic traitors who fell victim to their own evil designs. Now, of course, this scenario will entail massive suffering for Catholics: Up to and including death. Death is the currency Marxists traffic in — always has been, always will be.

The world that we have grown accustomed to as Catholics will not be the same. In fact, that world is gone. A Biden victory will create a culture of hate aimed at faithful Catholics because of who their Father is. Satan hates the Church, and once he has secured power for his offspring, he will then use them to turn on the Church, and the blood will begin flowing.

As we said, however, this may be the only way left of purifying the Church of these wicked men in the hierarchy. We are not a Church unaccustomed to persecution and martyrdom. But we as contemporary people are very unaccustomed to it.

Many would apostatize in such a scenario because, in reality, they have already apostatized, thanks to a hierarchy that lost supernatural faith. So, it will be one of these scenarios — either a great shock or a necessary outcome given the circumstances.

Whichever it is — because it will be one — pray and prepare to respond accordingly.

©Church Militant. All rights reserved.

Democrats Move to Criminalize Criticism of Islam

In FrontPage today I explain how lumping together violence with “hateful rhetoric” is a call to destroy the freedom of speech:

clinton-oic

December 17, 2015 ought henceforth to be a date which will live in infamy, as that was the day that some of the leading Democrats in the House of Representatives came out in favor of the destruction of the First Amendment. Sponsored by among others, Muslim Congressmen Keith Ellison and Andre Carson, as well as Eleanor Holmes Norton, Loretta Sanchez, Charles Rangel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Joe Kennedy, Al Green, Judy Chu, Debbie Dingell, Niki Tsongas, John Conyers, José Serrano, Hank Johnson, and many others, House Resolution 569 condemns “violence, bigotry, and hateful rhetoric towards Muslims in the United States.” The Resolution has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

That’s right: “violence, bigotry and hateful rhetoric.” The implications of those five words will fly by most people who read them, and the mainstream media, of course, will do nothing to elucidate them. But what H. Res. 569 does is conflate violence — attacks on innocent civilians, which have no justification under any circumstances – with “bigotry” and “hateful rhetoric,” which are identified on the basis of subjective judgments. The inclusion of condemnations of “bigotry” and “hateful rhetoric” in this Resolution, while appearing to be high-minded, take on an ominous character when one recalls the fact that for years, Ellison, Carson, and his allies (including groups such as the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR) have been smearing any and all honest examination of how Islamic jihadists use the texts and teachings of Islam to incite hatred and violence as “bigotry” and “hateful rhetoric.” This Resolution is using the specter of violence against Muslims to try to quash legitimate research into the motives and goals of those who have vowed to destroy us, which will have the effect of allowing the jihad to advance unimpeded and unopposed.

That’s not what this H. Res. 569 would do, you say? It’s just about condemning “hate speech,” not free speech? That kind of sloppy reasoning may pass for thought on most campuses today, but there is really no excuse for it. Take, for example, the wife of Paris jihad murderer Samy Amimour – please. It was recently revealed that she happily boasted about his role in the murder of 130 Paris infidels: “I encouraged my husband to leave in order to terrorize the people of France who have so much blood on their hands […] I’m so proud of my husband and to boast about his virtue, ah la la, I am so happy.” Proud wifey added: “As long as you continue to offend Islam and Muslims, you will be potential targets, and not just cops and Jews but everyone.”

Now Samy Amimour’s wife sounds as if she would be very happy with H. Res. 569, and its sponsors would no doubt gladly avow that we should stop offending Islam and Muslims – that is, cut out the “bigotry” and “hateful rhetoric.” If we are going to be “potential targets” even if we’re not “cops” or “Jews,” as long as we “continue to offend Islam and Muslims,” then the obvious solution, according to the Western intelligentsia, is to stop doing anything that might offend Islam and Muslims – oh, and stop being cops and Jews. Barack “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam” says it. Hillary “We’re going to have that filmmaker arrested” Clinton says it. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, certain that anyone who speaks honestly about Islam and jihad is a continuing danger to the Church, says it.

And it should be easy. What offends Islam and Muslims? It ought to be a simple matter to cross those things off our list, right? Making a few sacrifices for the sake of our future of glorious diversity should be a no-brainer for every millennial, and everyone of every age who is concerned about “hate,” right? So let’s see. Drawing Muhammad – that’s right out. And of course, Christmas celebrations, officially banned this year in three Muslim countries and frowned upon (at best) in many others, will have to go as well. Alcohol and pork? Not in public, at least. Conversion from Islam to Christianity? No more of that. Building churches? Come on, you’ve got to be more multicultural!

Everyone agrees. The leaders of free societies are eagerly lining up to relinquish those freedoms. The glorious diversity of our multicultural future demands it. And that future will be grand indeed, a gorgeous mosaic, as everyone assures us, once those horrible “Islamophobes” are forcibly silenced. Everyone will applaud that. Most won’t even remember, once the jihad agenda becomes clear and undeniable to everyone in the U.S. on a daily basis and no one is able to say a single thing about it, that there used to be some people around who tried to warn them.

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Poll: 40 percent of Millennials want Speech Censored

This Daily Caller report is all about how a large percentage of young people favor restrictions on speech deemed offensive to minorities, and while it discusses only racial minorities, there is no doubt that its findings apply to Muslims as well, and that many young people would want speech offensive to Muslims restricted as well. In 2014 I spoke at Cal Poly (video here) and took a question from an angry young woman who told me that there was a difference between “free speech” and “hate speech,” and that the latter should be restricted.

This is an increasingly common idea, taken for granted by large numbers of young people who don’t realize what a sleight-of-hand it is. They think “hate speech” is an easily recognized and universally accepted category of thought, when actually it is a subjective judgment used by those who are in power to discredit and marginalize their opponents. At Cal Poly I asked the questioner who should be entrusted with the momentous responsibility of determining what is hate speech and what isn’t, and pointed out that that person would have tyrannical powers over the rest of society. That didn’t trouble her at all, and that was the problem.

And meanwhile, while college students are indoctrinated into this taste for authoritarian government, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) continues to work to compel Western governments to criminalize all criticism of Islam, which would allow jihad terror to advance unopposed and unimpeded.

“Poll: 40 Percent Of Millennials Want Speech Censored,” by Kerry Picket, Daily Caller, November 21, 2015:

A new Pew Research Center poll shows that 40 percent of American Millennials (ages 18-34) are likely to support government prevention of public statements offensive to minorities.

It should be noted that vastly different numbers resulted for older generations in the Pew poll on the issue of offensive speech and the government’s role.

Around 27 percent of Generation X’ers (ages 35-50) support such an idea, while 24 percent of Baby Boomers (ages 51-69) agree that censoring offensive speech about minorities should be a government issue. Only 12 percent of the Silent Generation (ages 70-87) thinks that government should prevent offensive speech toward minorities.

The poll comes at a time when college activists, such as the group “Black Lives Matter,” are making demands in the name of racial and ethnic equality at over 20 universities across the nation….

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RELATED VIDEO: Robert Spencer speaking at Cal-Poly:

Obama Supports (And Suppresses) Free Speech on Campus by David Bernstein

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education reports: “For the second time this year, President Barack Obama publicly defended the importance of free speech on campus.”

The president’s defense is pretty good, though I’d prefer if he had pointed out more directly that left-wing campus activists should embrace free speech not just because it will make them more effective, but also because they should be open to the possibility that they are wrong on issues.

But that’s not why I’m giving the president only two cheers. Rather, it’s because the Obama administration was responsible for undermining freedom of speech on campus, and the president allowed that to happen. Here is the relevant excerpt from my new book Lawless:

In May 2013, OCR [the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights] and the Justice Department jointly sent a letter to the University of Montana memorializing a settlement to a sexual harassment case brought against the university. The letter stated that it was intended to “serve as a blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country.”

Ignoring Supreme Court precedent, the First Amendment, and OCR’s own previous guidance, the letter declares that “sexual harassment should be more broadly defined as ‘any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature,” including “verbal conduct,” regardless of whether it is objectively offensive or sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a hostile environment.

As FIRE pointed out in a blistering critique, this meant that the federal government was trying to impose a breathtakingly broad nationwide university speech code “that makes virtually every student in the United States a harasser.” OCR was trying to force universities to ban “any expression related to sexual topics that offends any person.”

So, for example, universities would be required to punish a student for telling a “sexually themed joke overheard by any person who finds that joke offensive for any reason,” or for “any request for dates or any flirtation that is not welcomed by the recipient of such a request or flirtation.”

Fortunately, a few months later, OCR got a new leader, Catherine Lhamon. Lhamon wrote in a letter to FIRE that “the agreement in the Montana case represents the resolution of that particular case and not OCR or DOJ policy.” She also reiterated that OCR’s understanding of hostile environment harassment in educational settings is “consistent” with the Supreme Court’s [much narrower] definition. OCR even allowed the University of Montana to disregard some of the requirements of the agreement.

But despite FIRE’s urging, OCR failed to issue any clarification of the Dear Colleague letter it had sent to the thousands of colleges and universities.

It would be tempting to attribute the original OCR letter to rogue bureaucrats at OCR, but we can’t since the Justice Department signed on as well. So while I appreciate the president’s stated commitment to freedom of speech on campus and am relieved that OCR isn’t trying to enforce the Montana guidance, one is left to wonder how that guidance got through two separate Obama administration bureaucracies to begin with.

This post first appeared at the Volokh Conspiracy ©.

David E. Bernstein

David E. Bernstein

David E. Bernstein is the George Mason University Foundation Professor at the George Mason University School of Law.

Freedom of Association is No Excuse to Target Gays by Casey Given

A recent spate of proposed laws protecting business owners’ right to discriminate against homosexuals has reignited a longstanding debate in the libertarian community. Under the guise of protecting “religious freedom,” 13 states have each introduced bills over the past few months preempting the State from forcing employees to service individuals if they believe doing so conflicts with their beliefs. While none of the bills specifically mention homosexuality, each one effectively only applies to gays since most other classes (e.g. race, sex, religion) are protected under the federal Civil Rights Act.

Many libertarians have cheered the proposed laws, citing the small-government principle that the State has no business interfering in individuals’ private contracts. LewRockwell.com’s Lawrence M. Vance voiced his support of Kansas’s recent attempt, while admitting it “doesn’t go far enough,” reasoning that “[i]n as much as the bill legalizes—if only in a small degree—the freedom to discriminate, such provisions in it should be welcomed.” Such an instrumentalist approach to protecting freedom of association is strategically flawed, as the current bills’ targeting of gays suggests bigoted motives that libertarians best not associate with.

Legally, businesses in almost all of the 13 states in question already have the right to deny gays service. As mentioned previously, sexual orientation is not currently a protected class in the Civil Rights Act. While 21 states have compensated for this federal gap by enacting LGBT nondiscrimination acts of their own, no state considering the current legislation is in the number except Oregon. Thus, these anti-anti-discrimination bills do not expand freedom of association but merely serve as redundant reassurance of the right to not serve gays—effectively targeting the LGBT community.

While almost every libertarian would defend an individual’s right to associate (and not associate) with whomever they choose, that’s not quite the issue with the current class of bills. Their implicit targeting alienates one demographic, making them look like not-so-subtle expressions of bigotry. The freedom of association issue looks like a red herring here.

As David E. Bernstein explained in a 2010 Cato Unbound essay, “I would be troubled if there was a sudden popular move to repeal antidiscrimination legislation, if it were unaccompanied by broader libertarian political trends, because it would suggest that opposition to such laws arose from hostility to minority groups, not from opposition to Big Government.” Granted, Bernstein is speaking about repealing antidiscrimination laws whereas the issue at hand is enacting laws that protect discrimination, but the underlying point is analogous. Namely, a libertarian push for protecting discrimination suggests its advocates are motivated by bigotry, regardless of whether it is the case or not. This point is only amplified in the present case. And perceptions matter.

Fortunately, the issue may be moot soon enough thanks to the massive public outrage that has accompanied these bills, prompting some of the most conservative state legislatures and governors to reject the measures. On February 18th, four bills in South Dakota, Kansas, Idaho, and Tennessee failed to pass their state legislatures. One week later, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed another attempt that captured national attention.

Libertarians have a long history of being ahead of the curve on gay rights. The Libertarian Party has supported marriage equality since its founding in 1971, decades before the two major parties dared to address the topic. Associating with an apparently homophobic push to protect the right to discriminate against gays that already exists would suddenly put the movement on the losing side of the question of LGBT equality.

ABOUT CASEY GIVEN

Casey Given is an editor and political commentator with Young Voices, a project aiming to promote Millennials’ policy opinions in the media.

Ten Bills, Ten Solutions to save America

Russ Vought, Political Director for Heritage Action for America, notes, “During the State of the Union address, President Obama called for 2014 to be a year of action. We agree, but Americans deserve action that will take the nation in the right direction. That’s why, with no clear goals or mandate from the Washington Establishment, we hosted the first Conservative Policy Summit.

On February 10th, Heritage Action brought together leaders to highlight conservative bills that would improve the lives of hardworking Americans. 10 speakers. 10 solutions.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/26d0H5Wl43M[/youtube]

Conservatives must lead through action. And we are. Heritage Action brought these leaders together on February 10th. The Conservative Policy Summit highlights the bills they have introduced, showing Americans a winning conservative reform agenda. Watch important discussion about our nation’s most pressing issues and learn about the conservative answers.

 

Privacy – Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ)
Social Welfare – Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) 
Health Care – Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) 
Health Care – Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) 
Energy – Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Housing – Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)
Transportation – Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA)
School Choice – Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)
Higher Education – Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)
Religious Freedom – Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID)

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of Claude Covo-Farchi. The use of this image does not in any way that suggests that Covo-Farchi endorses Heritage Action or the use of the work in this column. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic.