Trditional Marriage News

Friday, March 28, 2014


Meir Kin, right, married Daniela Barbosa on Thursday night, though he has refused Lonna Kin an Orthodox Jewish divorce. CreditIsaac Brekken for The New York Times

LAS VEGAS — The wedding was a modest affair, held in a reception hall overlooking an artificial lake tucked behind a suburban strip. But just minutes after it ended, the bride and groom hurriedly scurried past dozens of protesters here who were chanting “Bigamist!” and “Shame on you!”

One of the wedding guests on Thursday evening glared at the demonstrators, repeatedly hissing: “Mazel tov. Mazel tov. Mazel tov.” The bride, in a lace and sequin floor-length gown, grasped the hand of her husband and looked at the crowd in silence.

Meir Kin, the new husband, has been divorced for more than seven years, under California’s civil law. But he has refused to give his previous wife the document known as a “get,” as required by Orthodox Jewish law to end a marriage. In the eyes of religious authorities, the woman he married in 2000 is what is called an agunah — Hebrew for chained wife. Without the get, the woman, Lonna Kin, is forbidden under Jewish law to remarry.

Jewish law prohibits men from taking multiple wives. But Mr. Kin, according to several rabbis here, apparently relied on a legal loophole, which says that if a man can get the special permission of 100 rabbis to take a second wife, he is able to do so.

Protesters outside Mr. Kin’s wedding in Las Vegas denounced him for not giving his wife a divorce document called a get. CreditIsaac Brekken for The New York Times

The case has become a powerful symbol for what activists say is a deepening crisis among Orthodox Jews — hundreds of women held hostage in a religious marriage, in some cases for years after civil cases have been settled. According to the intricate religious laws dictating marriage and divorce, only the husband has the power to grant a divorce.

“What has happened here is really shameful,” said Rabbi Kalman Topp, who drove from Los Angeles to protest the wedding, along with other rabbis and congregants from Orthodox synagogues there. “Not only is he in clear violation of Jewish law, but he is utilizing and corrupting Jewish law to commit cruel domestic abuse.”

Ms. Kin, who runs a real estate company, and her supporters say that Mr. Kin, a physician assistant, is demanding $500,000 and full custody of their 12-year-old son in exchange for the divorce. And they cast doubt on whether he really has the support of 100 rabbis. Reached at his Las Vegas home on Thursday, as a photographer took pictures of him and his bride in the driveway, Mr. Kin declined to comment.

Traditionally, Jewish communities relied on the threat of ostracism to persuade a recalcitrant husband to give his wife a divorce, but many say the threat became far less potent as these communities opened and spread out. In recent years, Orthodox activists with the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot, which organized the protest at Mr. Kin’s wedding, have tried to publicly shame men into giving the get.

When a congressional aide refused to give his wife the decree several years ago, protesters wrote to the congressman, created sophisticated social media campaigns and protested in front of his Washington apartment. Last year federal prosecutors filed charges against a New Jersey rabbi whom they accuse of taking tens of thousands of dollars to kidnap and torture recalcitrant husbands refusing to give their wives a religious divorce.

Ms. Kin’s nearly decade-long fight for a religious divorce illustrates the limited power of such women.

“This is not supposed to happen, that even with all these people against him he can marry anyway,” Ms. Kin, 52, said in a telephone interview from her home in Monsey, N.Y., where she lives with their son and three daughters from a previous marriage. “I would like to find a man who could be a good life partner, to have the kind of marriage my parents have. I want to marry someone and have a life like that, but now I am chained to a dead marriage.”

When she heard several weeks ago that Mr. Kin planned to remarry, Ms. Kin said she felt a momentary sense of relief — it was a clear sign that he was ready to move on with his life. But his new marriage could make it even less likely he will give her the document she desperately wants.

“He’s basically a bigamist,” she said, “and basically, I’m just stuck.”

Ms. Kin of Monsey, N.Y., says she has fought for years to be free from the chains of what she refers to as “a dead marriage.” CreditAndrew Sullivan for The New York Times

The couple first separated in January 2005, shortly after Ms. Kin filed for divorce in New York. But she withdrew the motion, on the advice of a lawyer who later told her that it would be easier to secure a get if her husband initiated the civil divorce. Mr. Kin then moved to Los Angeles, and filed for divorce there six months after he arrived. Long before the divorce was finalized in 2007, she said, he told her he never planned to give her the religious document.

Typically, such disagreements are adjudicated by a religious court made up of three rabbis, known as a beit din. Mr. Kin was approached by a local rabbi with a list of several such religious courts his wife would be willing to submit to, but he has not responded, according to Rabbi Yehoshua Fromowitz, who runs the Ahavas Torah Center, a synagogue here,

Instead, Mr. Kin, who in recent years moved to Las Vegas, has repeatedly insisted that Ms. Kin agree to binding arbitration from one particular religious court based in Monsey that is controversial and has been widely denounced by rabbinical authorities in the United States and Israel. Several leading rabbis, including the chief rabbinical office of Israel, have said they would not accept a divorce document signed by this particular court. Mr. Kin has said that the head of the beit din, Rabbi Tzvi Dov Abraham of Monsey, granted him dispensation to marry again.

“The rabbinical court system is such an ad hoc system where any man is able to call himself a rabbi and any three rabbis are able to call themselves a court, so that even if it’s not accepted by anyone, he is able to hide behind this,” said Rabbi Jeremy Stern, the executive director of the group that organized the protests against the wedding. “What empowers him to continue is the support of friend and family and community. We need everyone to say clearly we will not tolerate this kind of behavior.”

A Las Vegas rabbi declined to perform the wedding on Thursday. The groups protesting say they believe Mr. Abraham traveled from New York to officiate. He did not return repeated phone calls for comment.

Mr. Kin, according to several members of the small Las Vegas Orthodox community, has worshiped at two synagogues affiliated with the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement, which is known for welcoming a broad array of Jews. The rabbis at those synagogues do not count him toward a quorum needed for prayer because of the controversy over his divorce case, but they have declined to publicly rebuke him or force him out, according to Rabbi Shea Harlig, the head of Chabad of southern Nevada.

Mr. Stern and other rabbis supporting Ms. Kin say they will continue to press that Mr. Kin be exiled from the local Jewish community.

Ms. Kin is still holding out some hope she will receive the get — she communicated with Mr. Kin by email as recently as this week, she said, and she continues to send her son across the country several times a year to spend time with his father.

Little is known about Mr. Kin’s new wife, Daniela Barbosa, who is said to have recently emigrated from Brazil. Friends who attended their wedding refused to answer questions from a reporter. If their marriage were to disintegrate, she, too, would need to receive a get for a religiously valid divorce. Although rabbinical leaders outlawed men taking multiple wives in the Middle Ages, the practice is biblically allowed.

“We’ve outlawed this for thousands of years,” Mr. Fromowitz said. “It is totally unacceptable.”

But Mr. Fromowitz conceded that Mr. Kin had historical precedent to rely on. After all, he said, the biblical patriarch Jacob had four wives.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014
March 25, 2014|9:53 am

Christian leaders such as evangelist Franklin Graham and Russell D. Moore, who is president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, expressed outrage that Christian relief organization World Vision announced it would hire employees in same-sex marriages on Monday.

"I was shocked today to hear of World Vision's decision to hire employees in same-sex marriages," Graham, the son of renowned evangelist Billy Graham, said in his statement. "The Bible is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman.

"My dear friend, Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision and Samaritan's Purse, would be heartbroken. He was an evangelist who believed in the inspired Word of God. World Vision maintains that their decision is based on unifying the church – which I find offensive – as if supporting sin and sinful behavior can unite the church. From the Old Testament to the New Testament, the Scriptures consistently teach that marriage is between a man and woman and any other marriage relationship is sin," Graham, who is the president and CEO of Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Moore also released a statement on Monday in which he pointed out that World Vision, one of the largest Christian relief organizations in the world, said its move was no capitulation, just a recognition that some groups supporting World Vision have differing views on sex and marriage.

"This is no surprise, on one level," Moore explained. "The constellation of parachurch evangelical ministries founded after World War II have been running headlong, with some notable exceptions, toward the very mainline liberalism to which they were founded as alternatives. Some think if we can just barter away Christian orthodoxy fast enough we can catch the wave of that Presbyterian Church (USA) church growth boom.

"But here's what's at stake. This isn't, as the World Vision statement (incredibly!) puts it, the equivalent of a big tent on baptism, church polity, and so forth," he writes. "At stake is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If sexual activity outside of a biblical definition of marriage is morally neutral, then, yes, we should avoid making an issue of it. If, though, what the Bible clearly teaches and what the church has held for 2000 years is true, then refusing to call for repentance is unspeakably cruel and, in fact, devilish."

World Vision announced that its "American branch will no longer require its more than 1,100 employees to restrict their sexual activity to marriage between one man and one woman," as reported by Christianity Today. The organization states that abstinence outside of marriage remains a rule. Christians in legal same-sex marriages are permitted be employed, according to the policy change.

Moore's statement includes his belief that the world has entered an era "where we will see who the Evangelicals really are, and by that I mean those who believe in the Gospel itself, in all of its truth and all of its grace." He continues, "And many will shrink back."

He writes that there's "an entire corps of people out there who make their living off of evangelicals but who are wanting to 'evolve' on the sexuality issue without alienating their base."

"I don't mind people switching sides and standing up for things that they believe in," Moore states. "But just be honest about what you want to do. Don't say, 'Hath God said?' and then tell us you're doing it to advance the gospel and the unity of the church."

He concludes, "Donor bases come and go. But the Gospel of Jesus Christ stands forever. World Vision is a good thing to have, unless the world is all you can see."

Trevin Wax, managing editor of The Gospel Project at LifeWay Christian Resources, said the decision by World Vision brings on a time to grieve for children everywhere.

"No matter what you think about this decision, I hope you feel a sense of grief…for the children," Wax wrote on The Gospel Coalition's blog. "This is a story of deep and lasting significance, because there are children's lives at stake in how we respond.

"Children will suffer as Evangelicals lose trust in and withdraw support from World Vision in the future. It will take time for evangelicals to start new organizations that maintain historic Christian concepts of sin, faith and repentance."

After listing reasons children suffer in so many ways, not just in decisions such as the one that World Vision made, and how Evangelicals will respond with grief, he writes. "But we also grieve for children here at home who are growing up in a culture in which sexual idolatry distorts the meaning of marriage and the beauty of God's original design."

Monday, March 24, 2014
March 23, 2014|9:49 am

A U.S. appeals court on Saturday temporarily put on hold a federal judge's ruling Friday to strike down Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage, a move that followed issuance of more than 300 marriage licenses to gays and lesbians by state officials.

Protestors opposed to same-sex marriage carry signs outside the Federal Court House in Michigan where plaintiffs April Deboer and her same-sex partner Jayne Rowse managed to overturn Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage in Detroit, Michigan in a ruling on Friday March 21, 2014. A temporary stay was granted on Saturday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit granted a temporary stay until Wednesday, directing those who challenged the state's gay marriage ban to respond to Michigan attorney general's plea to place the lower court's decision on hold pending an appeal.

"To allow a more reasoned consideration of the motion to stay, it is ordered that the district court's judgment is temporarily stayed until Wednesday," the Saturday's ruling said.

State Attorney General Bill Schuette's spokeswoman Joy Yearout said Saturday the stay was intended to preserve the state Constitution pending the appeal's outcome, according to The Associated Press. She didn't comment on whether the state will recognize the new marriages. "The courts will have to sort it out," she was quoted as saying.

Officials in four counties issued 323 marriage licenses Saturday, according to Detroit News.

Michigan's 2004 constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, which was approved by 59 percent of voters, was challenged by a Detroit suburb lesbian couple, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, who wanted to jointly adopt each other's children but could not.

Anna Kirkland, a University of Michigan professor who submitted an expert report in the Michigan case, told the AP that those issued licenses will be considered "legally married" regardless of what state officials do. "A ruling from a federal judge on the meaning of the Equal Protection Clause ... is binding on the state government," she was quoted as saying. "It's the law of the land until or unless the Supreme Court says otherwise."

In a 31-page ruling, Judge Bernard A. Friedman of Federal District Court Friday stated, "The Court finds that the (ban) impermissibly discriminates against same-sex couples in violation of the Equal Protection Clause because the provision does not advance any conceivable legitimate state interest."

The judge also said that religious views of some people cannot come in the way of equal protection. "Many Michigan residents have religious convictions whose principles govern the conduct of their daily lives and inform their own viewpoints about marriage," Friedman said. "Nonetheless, these views cannot strip other citizens of the guarantees of equal protection under the law."

Federal judges in Texas, Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Utah have also struck down state amendments and laws banning gay marriage as unconstitutional ever since the U.S. Supreme Court last June squashed a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia now issue licenses for same-sex marriage.

After Friday's ruling, Brian S. Brown, President of the National Organization for Marriage, said it reflects "an all-out assault on marriage, issuing rulings to redefine this foundational institution in violation of US Supreme Court precedent and the rule of law."

Friday, March 21, 2014
March 20, 2014|3:53 pm

A national gay rights organization has taken issue with a Roman Catholic Archdiocese's recently implemented "morals clause" added to their private school teacher contracts.

"As support for LGBT equality continues to grow, particularly among Catholics, the Cincinnati Archdiocese is enacting draconian restrictions on Catholic school employees," Paul Guequierre of the Human Rights Campaign wrote in an entry on the group's website Tuesday that calls for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to reconsider its new rule. "HRC is calling on Diocese leaders to model Christian values and not discriminate against LGBT teachers or straight allies in their employment practices."

Guequierre argued that the new measure for Catholic school teachers in the Archdiocese is discriminatory and will remove employment protections for teachers.

"The new contract also prohibits membership in an LGBT equality organization, such as the Human Rights Campaign," stated Guequierre. "Creating a safe space for LGBT young people, by placing a friendly sticker on your door for example, could be grounds for dismissal."

Earlier this month, local media reported that the Archdiocese had expanded the so-called "morals clause" in the contracts for teachers at its parochial schools. Originally only a line or two long, the new clause lays out in greater detail the dis-qualifiers for employment with the Archdiocese, reported

"Such conduct or lifestyle that is in contradiction to Catholic doctrine or morals includes, but is not limited to, improper use of social media/communication, public support of or publicly living together outside marriage, public support of or sexual activity out of wedlock, public support of or homosexual lifestyle, public support of or use of abortion, public support of or use of a surrogate mother, public support of or use of in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination, public membership in organizations whose mission and message are incompatible with Catholic doctrine or morals, and/or flagrant deceit or dishonesty," reads the clause.

Dan Andriacco, spokesman for the Archdiocese, told The Christian Post that the contract will take effect in the fall.

"Our experience has been that some teachers who violated the moral conduct clause in the past said they didn't understand that they were doing so," said Andriacco. "So we think that the examples will help the teachers. The new wording doesn't impose any new requirement or expectation on our teachers; it just makes the long-standing expectations more explicit."

When asked by CP about the allegation of being discriminatory, Andriacco said the new morals clause is not so.

"When you read the contract you will see that it doesn't keep anyone from teaching in our schools on the basis of age, race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation," said Andriacco. "Our Catholic schools are a ministry of the Catholic Church. It shouldn't surprise anyone that we ask our teachers who serve in them not to contradict the teachings of the Church by their public actions or pronouncements."

Tuesday, March 18, 2014
March 15, 2014|12:42 pm

Supporters of same-sex marriage appear to increasingly hold the view that for gay rights to expand, religious freedom must shrink. Some same-sex marriage supporters, though, are pushing back against that trend.

Before states began recognizing some same-sex unions as a marriage, proponents of same-sex marriage made a "live and let live argument:" opponents of same-sex marriage will not be harmed, let same-sex marriages be recognized by the government and it will have no impact on anyone else, the argument went.

In a short period of time, that argument has been replaced with an effort to use the power of the state to punish some who believe that marriage can only be between one man and one woman. In the words of author Heather Wilhelm, "live and let live" has become "you will be assimilated" and all must become part of the Borg collective.

Some same-sex marriage supporters, though, are pushing back against the Borg mindset. Here are six of them.

Conor Friedersdorf

Same-sex marriage should be legal in all 50 states, Friedersdorf believes. But he does not want to coerce those who disagree with him, and own wedding-related businesses, to do something they do not want to do.

Writing for The Atlantic, Friedersdorf said that he personally knows Catholics who would not only decline a same-sex wedding invitation, but they would decline invites for second marriages and weddings that do not take place as part of a Mass as well.

While he does not share those opinions, Friedersdorf said he "can respect their right to think differently," and he does not believe they would decline a same-sex wedding invitation "because they have anything against gays, but because they're committed to participating only in sacramental marriage as their church defines it, ...."

"I certainly don't think they should be coerced into doing otherwise if they own a wedding-related business," he added. "Is it really worth depriving a tiny religious minority of following their conscience or their livelihood to make a point that has little bearing on gay equality?"

Andrew Koppelman

Koppelman, professor of law and political science at Northwestern University School of Law, is a long-time supporter of gay rights and gay marriage. He also believes that those who disagree with him should have the freedom to live according to their beliefs.

"I've worked very hard to create a regime in which it is safe to be gay. I would also like that regime to be one in which it is safe to be a religious dissenter," Koppelman said in November at a Federalist Society conference.

"The strongest argument for accommodation (of wedding photographers who object to photographing a same-sex wedding) here is a pretty simple one: there are lots of other wedding photographers," he explained.

Douglas Laycock

During the debate over passage of Arizona's S.B. 1062, a bill that would have clarified the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, critics claimed the bill would allow business owners to ban gays from public accommodations. A group of 11 law professors sent Ariz. Gov. Jan Brewer (R) a letter explaining that the bill would not do that and those critics are "trying to deceive you."

One of the signers of that letter was Douglas Laycock, Robert E. Scott Distinguished Professor of Law at University of Virginia School of Law, who supports same-sex marriage and religious freedom. He explained his position on the Arizona bill for The Volokh Conspiracy, a Washington Post blog.

The bill, he wrote, "was egregiously misrepresented both before and after the veto. ... These laws enact a uniform standard – substantial burden and compelling interest – to be interpreted and applied to individual cases by courts. They rest on the sound premise that we should not punish people for practicing their religion unless we have a very good reason."

Damon Linker

Linker, senior correspondent at, supports gay marriage and is "cheered" by all the recent gains by those who agree with him. At the same time, he is "troubled by the equally stunning lack of charity, magnanimity, and tolerance displayed by many gay marriage advocates."

Same-sex marriage supporters, he said, "don't just want to win the legal right to marry. They don't just want most Americans to recognize and affirm the equal dignity of their relationships. They appear to want and expect all Americans to recognize and affirm that equal dignity, under penalty of ostracism from civilized life.

"That is an unacceptable, illiberal demand."

In a liberal democracy, Linker concluded, "traditionalist religious believers are our fellow citizens and neighbors, and the United States is as much their country as it is ours."

William Saletan

Saletan, a writer for the liberal website Slate, says that he has long been a "fan of gay marriage" and was the best man in a same-sex wedding 23 years ago. Looking at how his fellow same-sex marriage supporters treat those who disagree with them, however, he is "disturbed by what I see today."

"We're stereotyping and vilifying opponents of gay marriage the way we've seen gay people stereotyped and vilified. This is a deeply personal moral issue. To get it right, we need more than justice. We need humanity," he wrote.

Andrew Sullivan

Sullivan, founding editor for The Dish, is a gay, married man who describes himself as a conservative and an Obama supporter. To supporters of traditional marriage, whom he refers to as "fundamentalists" and "bigots," Sullivan says, "live and let live."

"My view is that in a free and live-and-let-live society, we should give them space," he wrote. "As long as our government is not discriminating against us, we should be tolerant of prejudice as long as it does not truly hurt us. And finding another florist may be a bother, and even upsetting, .... But we can surely handle it. And should."

Friday, March 14, 2014
March 13, 2014|8:31 am

A graduate of a Southern Baptist seminary and former campus Baptist minister is suing to overturn an Alabama law that does not recognize gay marriages performed outside of the state.

Paul Hard, 55, an alumnus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, filed his lawsuit after his husband, David Fancher, died in a car accident in 2011, less than two months after they had married in Massachusetts.

Paul Hard, a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, speaks about his lawsuit to overturn an Alabama law that does not recognize same-sex marriages performed outside the state, Feb. 13, 2014.

Hard was named as his spouse's sole beneficiary, but current Alabama law forbids him from receiving benefits from a wrongful-death lawsuit that has been filed by his estate against the trucking company where Fancher worked.

In the immediate aftermath of the accident, hospital staff did not recognize Hard as Fancher's next of kin, despite him bringing Fancher's power of attorney, living will and their marriage certificate." Hard said the hospital staff's insistence that they would only speak with a family member made him "angry" and then "frantic."

"After what seemed to be about 30 minutes, finally the hospital administration called the desk and said, 'You can take him on back.' At that point, I assumed that David was simply badly injured and asked the orderly who was escorting me back, 'Is he badly hurt?' The orderly simply said, 'He's dead,'" Hard said, as reported to AL.COM.

Hard, an Auburn University Montgomery professor who is now Episcopalian, said that he is filing the lawsuit to keep others from experiencing a situation similar to the one he suffered while at the hospital in the aftermath of Fancher's injuries.

"It's important, because nobody should ever have to go through this at the worst extreme of our lives; we should be able to expect the compassion and support of our fellow citizens," Hard said. "Southerners have tremendous heart. They are known for their kindness. They are known for their courtesy. They are known for their ethics. And they're known for their humanity. I don't believe that anybody that could witness what I went through could simply step back to a political or a legal position."

The prosecution will go after a 1998 state law, the Marriage Protection Act, and the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment. The latter piece of legislation was approved by more than 80 percent of voters statewide in 2006.

Hard will be represented by the Southern Poverty Law Institute, a left-of-center organization that has previously designated the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian advocacy organization, as a "hate group."

Tuesday, March 11, 2014
March 11, 2014|8:41 am

Founder of Socrates in the City and author of best-selling biographies of William Wilberforce, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and others, Eric Metaxas speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., March 7, 2014.

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – A moral and religious population is necessary for free markets and democratic institutions to work well, best-selling author Eric Metaxas told The Christian Post after speaking at The Conservative Political Action Conference.

"The free market and democracy by themselves, unmoored by a religious population or a moral population, are nothing," Metaxas said Friday. "The free hand of the market will provide cheaper, better pornography and drugs, if that's what the population wants."

"To have a robust free market is compromised if we are mired in debt, and to have a robust free market of ideas is compromised if religious freedom is threatened – they're really both sides of the same thing, different kinds of liberty that are inextricably intertwined," he added.

Founder and host of Socrates in the City and author of best-selling biographies of William WilberforceDietrich Bonhoefferand others, Metaxas emphasized both the debt and religious liberty, the topic of his speech earlier that day. In that speech, Metaxas urged Republicans and conservatives not to spend their energies fighting one another, but defeating Democrats in elections. "We need to be careful about not attacking those on our side out of some false sense of purity, unless it is absolutely necessary," he argued, because debt and religious liberty are too important to be delayed.

The Debt

"First of all, if we do not have a president who understand that this nation is going down for the third time and drowning on the issue of debt, the Great American Experiment of 230 plus years is over," Metaxas starkly declared. He told CP that American liberty cannot last with a government owing so much.

Metaxas blamed President Obama for failing to address the issue of America's ballooning debt. "President Obama will go down in history as the man who led us over the waterfall," the author declared. "It is absolutely unconscionable."

In his speech, the author mentioned the 50 million Americans who are on food stamps as "a national humiliation," and a reason the national debt has increased. He argued that conservatives and the Republican Party must "let people know that we think good jobs are better than food stamps."

Religious Liberty

Metaxas also issued a dire proclamation about the state of religious liberty in modern America. "Once religious liberty is compromised, all liberties are compromised," he told CP. The author listed the HHS mandate and the legal redefinition of marriage in some states as threats to religious liberty.

The author also expressed his surprise that there were reportedly no CPAC panels on abortion or religious liberty. "If you're going to have a conservative conference, you need those issues on the table," Metaxas said. He argued that the pro-life position is but one facet of the religious freedom issue.

America's Heritage of Religious Freedom

According to Metaxas, the mechanisms of America's success in the world flow from its moral and religious heritage.

"The very reason people left Europe in small boats to come here and risk their lives was for religious freedom," Metaxas told The Christian Post. In his speech, he argued that conservatives must retell the story of America's heritage for voters to fully embrace their side of the story. "If we do not know these stories in our bones and teach these stories, we really have nothing to sell."

Metaxas emphasized the national stories that connect to religious freedom. "Do we remember the pilgrims as real human beings who suffered horribly?" he asked. "Do we remember that the revolution was a real thing – that real men bled and died for that thing called liberty?"

Metaxas pointed out that the founders of the Abolition and Civil Rights Movements were avid believers. "It was people of faith, crazy Evangelicals, who said we're all created in the image of God," the author declared. "Did you know that Rosa Parks was a serious Christian, that Jackie Robinson was a serious Christian?"

America Is Great Because It Blesses Others

"America is great because we know everything we have is a gift from God that we don't deserve and that God has given it to us for the sake of others," Metaxas declared. He insisted that Americans are not better than any other people, but that the United States is the greatest country in the history of the world, despite its many faults, due to the gift of God.

God does not favor one nation over another, but He does bless people or nations so that they can in turn be a blessing to others, Metaxas argued. "The way George Washington crossed the East River in August 1776 was nothing less than a miracle, as everyone who was there acknowledged," he said, citing one example of God's providence. "Liberty should have been strangled in the cradle that day, but somehow it seems that God intervened."

"This country was wealthy and made wealthy so that we could be generous," Metaxas insisted. He argued that America defeated Nazi Germany because citizens understood that they themselves might be in the death camps. "We were a beacon of hope and truth in a world of darkness and lies."

Religious liberty is important because America needs to honor God if it is to continue to succeed, Metaxas said. He quoted Lincoln, declaring, "We shouldn't pray that God is on our side but that we are on God's side. That takes humility."

Monday, March 10, 2014
March 8, 2014|4:27 pm

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – A panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference on whether social conservatives and libertarians could cooperate was dominated by the debate over same-sex marriage.

Alexander McCobin, co-founder and president of the Students for Liberty, stressed during Friday's panel the difference between "a political philosophy and a personal lifestyle" and listed various conservatives who may personally oppose same-sex marriage yet accept its legal recognition.

"Just because you believe people ought to act a certain way doesn't mean you want the government to require them to be that," said McCobin.

McCobin argued that gay marriage "is the civil rights issue of the twentieth century," garnering much applause from the audience.

Dr. Matt Spalding, associate vice president and dean of Educational Programs at the Allan P. Kirby Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies & Citizenship, argued that from the onset, the founders of the United States looked toward "liberty" instead of "freedom" as how society should operate.

"They chose the word 'liberty' which is a Latin word rather than 'freedom,' which is a Germanic word precisely because they meant freedom appropriate for man. They understand liberty to be under the laws of nature and nature's God. It didn't mean license," said Spalding.

"We want to have the freedom to choose, I precisely agree with that, but we must agree first and foremost on certain precepts according to which we recognize each other's humanity."

Spalding garnered applause when he argued that marriage definition should be about the interest of children and that if the state is to define marriage, it should hold to the traditional definition as a "key to liberty."

Since November 2012, some within and without the Republican Party argued that the GOP's socially conservative platform cost it the presidential election.

Others have pointed to growing support for same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization as evidence that the GOP and conservatism in general needs to change with the times on said issues.

This emphasis away from social issues appeared to be present in the agenda of CPAC, as none of the panels focused on abortion or homosexuality and both sides of the marijuana decriminalization debate were present.

Titled "Can Libertarians and Social Conservatives Get Along?" the panel was moderated by Tom Minnery, president and CEO of CitizenLink.

In his opening remarks, Minnery discussed items that he liked and disliked about the Libertarian Party from a socially conservative perspective.

"We checked out the platform of the Libertarian Party and there is so much to appreciate in that party platform," said Minnery, who then quoted the pro-sexual libertine portion of the platform.

McCobin pointed out that Minnery began with a "false premise" when relying on the platform of the Libertarian Party to gauge libertarian opinion.

"You can be a libertarian and not be a Libertarian Party member," said McCobin, who argued that anyone who subscribes to the principles of libertarianism is a "libertarian."

The libertarians and social conservatives recognized the need for limited government and for religious liberty for businesses and individuals who may personally oppose same-sex marriage.

The panel, which also featured Matt Welch, editor in chief at Reason Magazine, and Michael Medved, conservative radio talk show host, also acknowledged that a greater ideological opponent could be found with the policies of the current administration.

"Right now we have a common foe," said Medved regarding the Obama administration in relation to both social conservatives and libertarians.

"Right now the forces of big government are on the march and one thing that conservatives and libertarians have in common is resisting it."


Thursday, March 6, 2014
March 6, 2014|3:20 pm

WASHINGTON – Experts denounced the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child's recent report in which it suggested the Catholic Church alter its positions on fornication, contraception, homosexuality, and abortion. The report, they said, is an attack on the Catholic Church and an overreach of U.N. power.

While the committee's report emphasized the Catholic Church's clerical sexual abuse scandals, it also called on the Vatican state to alter its positions on other, unconnected moral issues. The Geneva report criticized the Vatican's opposition to contraception, homosexuality, and abortion in cases of child rape and incest.

Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), called the panel's report "a dagger to the heart of motherhood," and denounced it as an overreach of U.N. power. "A treaty-monitoring organization has told a religion to change its teaching on fundamental issues," Ruse declared at a Family Research Council panel on Wednesday.

Travis Weber, director of FRC's Center for Religious Liberty, argued that this decision weakens the credibility of the United Nations' system for adjudicating human rights. "When rights are read into a treaty without the consent of nations, the entire system loses credibility," Weber argued.

Pat Fagan, senior fellow and director of FRC's Marriage and Religion Research Institute, carefully compared the report to Kristallnacht, the "Night of Broken Glass," an attack against Jews throughout Nazi Germany. Fagan emphasized that this connection is loose. "This is not a Kristallnacht, but it is a breaking of windows," he explained, "because it makes very clear what the agenda is."

"This is a violation of religious freedom, and this targeting of the Catholic Church makes eminent sense for the radical Left," Fagan declared. He argued that an international movement for the causes of abortion and same-sex marriage, among others, targeted the Catholic Church due to its clear stance on morality. "The Catholic Church is known internationally as a source for being clear on what is right and wrong for men."

Fagan warned that "if the Catholic Church can suffer this indignity without any response, the radical Left has gained massive yardage" in the fight against religious freedom.

The MARRI director attacked the U.N. treaty on the Rights of the Child for violating the rights of parents. "It is a fundamental universal human right to transmit your religious and moral beliefs to your child while he is a minor," Fagan declared.

Ruse agreed, arguing that the document gives the child religious liberty and "free access to information from every source," two provisions which make it impossible for parents to protect their children from a host of dangers on the Internet. In addition to these violations, already in the original treaty which the Vatican signed, the commission also requested it change its positions on other issues.

A Non-Binding Resolution

The U.N. Commission on the Rights of the Child ordered the Vatican to reconsider its positions on numerous issues, from spanking to "the diversity of family settings" – a reference to homosexual adoption – and even fornication. "The church has to overcome taboos on adolescent sexuality," Ruse quoted from the report.

The report, however, is completely unbinding, the speakers agreed. The declarations of the commission are "not decisions in any way, shape, or form," Ruse explained. "They are comments and suggestions which governments are free to ignore." He also emphasized that the committee members do not represent the various countries which nominated them to serve. "Only individuals could do something so crazy."

"This report has no binding effect," Weber agreed. "It's almost as if it's just one step further than one voice telling the Catholic Church what to do."

Nevertheless, each panelist argued that it is important for the Catholic Church to respond, and for other groups to join in their attack on this report. "We have to build upon layers of response in order to prepare for attacks years from now," Weber argued.

"You have a very long-term battle going on about fundamental issues of humankind," Fagan declared. He argued that the activists for gay marriage and abortion "love a reasonable response because they have no interest in discourse but in popular messaging." They aim to elicit mocking and derision in order to defame their enemies, Fagan argued. To them, "this is an occasion by which they can humiliate the Catholic Church."

Even so, Fagan suggested a response through different groups. He argued that nations with a concern for the family – both those from Christian and Muslim traditions – should join together to oppose these attacks. "I would also call upon the United States Council on International Religious Freedom" to list the U.N. International Commission on Human Rights as a threat to religious freedom, he added.

"This is a gift from God because it highlights how crazy and radical these committees are," Fagan stressed. He argued that the Catholic Church and other organizations, including Congress, should take this opportunity to denounce U.N. overreach.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014
March 3, 2014|11:41 am

Uwe and Hannelore Romeike (middle) and their six children, with Michael Farris (L) and the rest of the HSLDA legal team (back), at a hearing for Romeike vs. Holder at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Cincinnati, Ohio, April, 23, 2013.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined on Monday to hear an appeal from the Romeikes, a German homeschooling family that had asylum in the United States. The U.S. Justice Department sought to deport them back to Germany where they could lose custody of their children due to their religious beliefs.

"Today, the United States Supreme Court declined to review Uwe and Hannelore Romeike's asylum case," Michael Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, wrote in a letter to supporters. "We knew it was an uphill battle since the Court only accepts 80–100 out of nearly 10,000 requests each year. While we are disappointed, the court's decision in no way changes our commitment to fight for the Romeikes and homeschooling freedom."

The Romeikes chose to homeschool because they believed the public schools were teaching their children values inconsistent with their Christian views. HSLDA helped the Romeikes flee Germany after they were threatened with jail time and losing custody of their children. HSLDA has also represented the Romeikes in court.

The Romeikes were initially granted asylum by a federal judge in 2010 after they fled Germany in 2008. In 2012, though, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement appealed that decision.

The U.S. Justice Department sided with ICE, arguing that there is no fundamental right to determine the education of one's children and that Germany's law banning homeschooling makes sense because denying parents the right to homeschool teaches children tolerance of a diversity of opinions.

Farris says that all the court options to save the Romeikes from being deported have been exhausted, but HSLDA is working on a congressional solution.

"Even now," he wrote, "we have been working with supportive members of Congress to introduce legislation that could help the Romeikes and others who flee persecution."

In a post to its Facebook page, HSLDA argued that with approximately 12 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States already, the country should be able to accommodate one homeschooling family.

"Although this is the end of the normal legal battles, we are not giving up. If 12 million people can live here illegally, then surely there is a way to find a place for this one family," the post stated.