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Good for Texas: Protecting religious conscience rights benefits at-risk adoptive children

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Liberals will take exception to Texas’ latest move to protect faith-based adoption organizations from being forced to violate their consciences. That’s because most liberals are really statists who believe the government should enforce complete uniformity in the name of equality. The idea that differing and even mutually-exclusive ideals can be beneficial to children and society is beyond their narrow worldview.

For the record, and likely to the disappointment of some misguided evangelical friends of mine, I have absolutely zero problems with LGBTQ couples adopting and/or fostering children. In fact I enthusiastically encourage anyone of any background, faith, or creed to participate in child welfare activities. The foster care system in our country is overloaded with at-risk children, and we need more families participating, not less. It is for this very reason that I fully support and praise the infamous adoption discrimination bill that Governor Greg Abbott of Texas signed into law last week. Confused? Stay with me.

Last week the state of Texas enacted HB3859 which allows private agencies to refuse placement of foster and adoptive children into homes based on deeply held beliefs and further protects them from lawsuits for such decisions. Opponents argue that it gives organizations the green light to discriminate against the LGBTQ community, which it absolutely does and most likely will occur. However, as with most important issues sound opinions must come from more than just scratching the surface of an issue. We must fully understand the intent and implications before we make a call to arms. Resist the urge to come out swinging at the first mention of discrimination.

The intent of the law is clearly spelled out in its opening paragraph. Texas is attempting to attract more private agencies to help an overwhelmed foster care system as well as protect the agencies it already has. Surely we can all claim this as common ground when it comes to finding homes for children. The need for this law arose from the exodus of many faith-based foster care agencies as they drastically scaled back their involvement in the state for fear of litigation resulting from their own theologically driven policies. In fact almost all Catholic agencies suspended their operations in the state of Texas, and we can hardly blame them.

Activism against discrimination towards the LGBTQ community has become a significant part of pop culture in recent years, and has been further emboldened by successful lawsuits towards individuals and businesses that discriminated for religious reasons. These individuals lost enormous amounts of money and some lost their own livelihood. Regardless of how you feel towards those specific cases, we should all be able to understand how this is bad for faith-based non-profits doing charitable work for children – children whose well-being is, more often than not, in immediate danger. Resources spent fighting litigation means fewer resources spent helping children, and many organizations would rather pull out altogether in an effort to focus their resources in alternative endeavors with less risk of financial loss.

The obvious counterargument is faith-based groups could simply choose not to discriminate against LGBTQ couples. Why not be all-inclusive? Easy enough, right? This argument ignores the underlying problem completely. Violating your core beliefs to appease someone is a betrayal of your own self, as I have previously written. The simple truth is that respecting the deeply-held beliefs of others regardless of our own opinions is a fundamental aspect of freedom, and speaking of freedom, there is nothing preventing LGBTQ groups from establishing their own child-welfare organizations.

Under the law LGBTQ agencies could freely discriminate against any person or religion they choose, even free to serve only LGBTQ families if they were inclined to do so. Ironically the state of Texas is making a great effort to make child-welfare inclusive by protecting those freedoms. The Texas legislature even went so far as to include a provision in the law mandating that private agencies refer families to other organizations that will provide the services being denied. There is absolutely no reason to expect that anyone will be denied in the end, and when all else fails families can choose to adopt and foster directly through the state.

I can confidently say that arguments against HB3859 are largely self-defeating. It is a brilliant example of innovative, forward-thinking progress. We must get past the word ‘discrimination’ and come to realize that this law opens the door for a broad, diverse group private organizations to do a good work. Don’t stand in the way.

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Culture and Religion

Thoughts and prayers are exactly what we need

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Thoughts and prayers are exactly what we need

One of the more disturbing developments in recent years is the growing attacks on thoughts and prayers in the wake of tragedy. Not only are more and more shouting that thoughts and prayers are “not enough” in the wake of tragedy. Many are also doubling-down on the idea by calling thoughts and prayers an excuse to do nothing.

This assertion not only strikes me as wrong-hearted but fundamentally in ignorance of two honest observations.

Firstly, those who attack thoughts and prayers ignore the necessity to grieve and the resolve that arises in the hearts of those who mourn.

Offering thoughts and prayers provides a message of unity and compassion. It’s a unified message that the victims of tragedy do not stand alone. The time where we offer thoughts and prayers is a time where we can set aside our petty differences and unite in mourning.

Further, it has often been my observation that those who offer heartfelt and fervent thoughts and prayers are the ones which arise from their knees, wipe the tears from their eyes, and provide the most energetic actions towards the support of others.

Mocking thoughts and prayers is mocking the humanity of those who are overcome with the grief of a heart-rending tragedy. It’s to mock the natural response of caring, faithful citizens. Quite honestly, it boils my blood that anyone would mock or belittle a quiet, tearful prayer, a lit candle in the window, or messages on social media that are, for once, positive, supportive, and contemplative.

Secondly, the attitude of mocking the thoughtful and prayerful is yet another example of the degradation of what holds us together as a society. It is a manifestation of our nation’s rotting core of community and brotherhood.

Ultimately, it is a demonstration of the same societal decay that is itself responsible for the lost souls of those who not only perpetrate horrible crimes, like mass shootings, but who resolve to end their problems by ending their life or escape their hollow realities through substance abuse.

We need a more thoughtful and more prayerful society. If we are ever going to get to the bottom of what is causing people to grow so cold in their hearts to kill others or so fallen from hope to kill themselves, we must rediscover the compassion and empathy that can alone save our families, our communities, and our nation from abject dysfunction.

Thoughts and prayers are not keeping us from solutions to the problem. Thought and prayers are the only true beginning to real solutions for the problems that ail our country.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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Culture and Religion

Everything wrong with our political discourse in a single tweet

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Everything wrong with our political discourse in a single tweet

I will be completely transparent. I did not click on the link to read the extended version of what John Pavlovitz wrote. I looked at his tweet and determined that I was not going to give him the revenue for a single click. Especially for such clickbait. I did look at his profile which reads: “Author of ‘A Bigger Table’, ‘Hope’, and ‘Low.’ Unapologetically committed to equality, diversity, compassion, love, and justice.” Given the content of his tweet, the word irony comes to mind. As well as the dismal state of our politcal discourse.

John takes an approach toward people he disagrees with politically that I would not allow my children to take against anyone. Whether they looked different, practiced a different religion, came from a different country or God forbid, may vote for one of the insane Democrats currently on the debate stage. I have taught my children to think more deeply than that about people and relationships. To look at what people do. Not a single characteristic and make inane judgements like John.

I have been clear in all of my public statements that I did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016. I also did not vote for Hillary Clinton. It was astounding to me out of a country of 340 million people we had two candidates under investigation by the FBI. It was even more concerning that one of them would be leader of the free world.

However, I will vote for Donald Trump in 2020 barring some unforeseen circumstance. I do not own a MAGA hat, and do not think I have ever tweeted the hashtag without irony. However, given the fact I could now be construed as a supporter, John’s aspersions are being cast at me. They are also being cast at many of my friends who did vote for Trump in 2016. Wonderful people, they just thought Hillary Clinton was as corrupt as she actually is. I know them, their children and their values. Here is what we actually teach our children in the order John has defined them:

  • Do not judge people by the color of the skin, who they love or what they worship and be very suspicious of those who do. It is the content of a person’s character that matters.
  • Apologize if you are wrong. Do not ever apologize for speaking your mind. Be polite. Don’t waste time being politically correct. That is a soft form of censorship that does nothing but limit your thinking.
  • Diversity is more than skin deep. (See number 1.)
  • You need to take responsibility for your own behavior and success. Then be generous.
  • Empathy means you can understand where a person is coming from. Don’t confuse that with sympathy and ever think you can truly understand someone else’s lived experience. Move through your life with empathy.
  • America is exception and has given more freedom and opportunity to more people than any other country in the world. That does not mean everything America has done is a source of pride. Learn history and to ensure we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past.
  • Women can be whatever they want to be from CEO, to teacher to stay at home mom. They should not feel shame for any choice they make.
  • See number 1.
  • Religion is the foundation for values that made Western civilization one built on free will and freedom. It also helps you find the “you” shaped hole in the world.
  • When in doubt, do your homework.

I literally can’t imagine thinking the way John thinks. Of course it does not surprise me with the identity politics so valued by both the far left and the far right. To actually imagine that you can tell anything about someone based on a single characteristic is the most arrogant and simplistic point of view I can imagine. To think you know anything about the values people teach their children based on their preference on taxes, regulation, border security or foreign policy is asinine.

I have no idea what John has taught his children any more than he knows what the millions of Trump supporters nationwide teach theirs. I certainly hope they have been taught to be open-minded, to actually listen to people with different ideas and judge people for who, not what they are. Otherwise their point of view will be a simple and lacking as John’s tweet. And our public discourse will never improve. That would be sad.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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Democrats turn Mexican Independence Day celebration in Chicago into political statement against Trump

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Democrats turn Mexican Independence Day celebration in Chicago into political statement against Trum

The long-standing tradition of cruising in Chicago streets for Mexican Independence Day had a double meaning this year as hundreds of revelers circled Trump Tower in Chicago waving Mexican flags and honking in celebration and protest.

The change in venue from the normal “cruising” in Hispanic neighborhoods was prompted by law enforcement’s decision to block off roads normally used for the occasion. The disruptive and sometimes violent celebrations were relocated after 10th district police blocked 26th St. in the Mexican neighborhood of Little Village.

The motivation behind the blocked streets in Hispanic neighborhoods was clear: To move the celebration downtown where it could become a protest. We know this because the official police statement declared their reasoning was for cleanup following a parade… but there was no parade scheduled for the streets in question. This was clearly a political move orchestrated by leftists in the Mayor’s office.

Cars and trucks with Mexican flags have been cruising Hispanic neighborhoods for Mexican Independence Day since the mid-80s. It wasn’t until far-left Mayor Lori Lightfoot sought to weaponize and politicize the celebration that the venue was changed to the streets right in front of Trump Tower.

Expression of cultural pride is one thing. Waving Mexican flags defiantly at Trump Tower has turned the celebration of Mexican Independence Day into a political statement, just as Democrats want it to be.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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