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79% of SC GOP backs personhood, pro-life Republican tops pro-abortion GOP foe, Cuccinelli’s new gig

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By Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C. – While Tuesday night's primary results left the political class reeling and Republican grassroots activists claiming victory, numerous races related to the pro-life and pro-family cause have received less media attention.

South Carolina

Tuesday night's election results show that South Carolina's Republican primary voters overwhelmingly support the concept of personhood. The state party asked whether Article I, Section 3 of the South Carolina state Constitution should be amended to say that “no person shall be deprived of life without due process of law,” and that these “rights shall extend to both born and pre-born persons beginning at conception." A whopping 79 percent of GOP voters responded yes. The vote was not open to all voters and was not seriously contested. “The sweeping success of this Personhood resolution means congressional Republicans in South Carolina just received a mandate for Personhood from the grassroots,” wrote Keith Mason, president of Personhood USA, after the election. “And if any 2016 Republican Presidential candidate expects to do well in the crucial South Carolina primaries, that candidate cannot forget that 79 percent of the base believes preborn children deserve full Personhood protections!” GOP primary voters also backed a measure to eliminate the state income tax. The state's Democrats approved questions supporting online gambling and medical marijuana.

Elsewhere in the state, pro-life U.S. Sen. Tim Scott may be on his way to making history as the first elected black senator in South Carolina history. Unofficial results showed Scott steamrolling over his primary competitor, Randall Young, by a margin of nine-to-one. Scott already made history as the first black person to serve in both chambers of the U.S. Congress, when Gov. Nikki Haley appointed him to fulfill the Senate term left by incumbent Jim DeMint. Scott has not shied away from confronting the Obama administration in either capacity. In 2011, after Obama threatened to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling, then-Congressman Scott called the proposal “an impeachable act.” Days later, Obama backed down.

Sen. Lindsey Graham managed to avoid a runoff election Tuesday night, picking up 59 percent of the vote as of this writing. He needed only pass 50 percent. His closest rival, pro-life conservative Lee Bright, garnered 15 percent of the vote. Graham never looked truly vulnerable, collecting more than $12 million in campaign funds, while none of his six challengers collected even one million dollars. His decision to introduce the national ban on abortions after 20-weeks into the Senate last year helped solidify his standing in the socially conservative state, something that had been called into question over his support for left-wing Obama administration appointees and high-profile backing of amnesty for illegal aliens.

Maine

David Brat was not the only pro-life Tea Party candidate to pull off an unexpected win last night. Former Maine state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin defeated pro-abortion Republican Kevin Raye in a primary to run for the vacant second district seat. Poliquin spoke frequently of his Catholic faith and his belief in the rights of the unborn, as he had in previous elections. “It's clear to me that at conception, a life has begun, and that is a life that should be protected,” he said at a candidate's forum in 2012. Raye, who had lost two previous runs for Congress, called himself “pro-choice.”

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Poliquin “made his opposition to abortion rights a central issue in the race," as he did not vow not to raise taxes. (Raye declined to make such a pledge.) At Poliquin's victory party Tuesday night, former Maine lawmaker Harry Rideout told Maine Public Broadcasting, “I would say pro-life has quite a bit to do with it right now.” This fall, Poliquin will battle pro-abortion Democrat Emily Cain. The National Republican Congressional Committee is pitching the race as “a self-made businessman who managed companies that created thousands of jobs” vs. a career politician.

The congressional seat is being vacated by Democratic Rep. Michael H. Michaud, who is running against pro-life Republican Gov. Paul LePage. LePage recently signed a state budget that defunded Planned Parenthood.

Virginia

The upset of the night was House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's lopsided defeat by the little known and underfunded Tea Party candidate David Brat. Brat bested Cantor, who had been seen as a future Speaker of the House, by a 56-44 percent margin. Cantor had introduced rape and incest exceptions into the national 20-week abortion ban. More recently, as a featured speaker at the 2014 March for Life, Cantor promised that he would see to it that “the House will stand for life” by reintroducing the 20-week ban and measures to end taxpayer funding of abortion until they become law. Cantor had the unified support of the Republican leadership and collected more than $5 million to Brat's $200,000, spending more than $1 million in the last two months alone. But it was Cantor's continual plea to offer amnesty to illegal immigrants that proved a critical component in his surprise upset defeat, particularly as the news featured young immigrants streaming across the southern border without their parents in order to get in line for U.S. citizenship. Cantor, Brat said, had lost touch with his district's voters.

The results startled some in the Republican leadership. Congressman Peter King, R-NY, told MSNBC's Morning Joe that he and other moderate Republicans would not allow the “Ted Cruzes and the Rand Pauls to take over" the GOP. King has considered running for president in 2016 on a platform promoting a hawkish foreign policy.

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The last Virginia Republican to beat an establishment favorite, former Virginia state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, has a new job. He will be taking over the Senate Conservatives Fund, the group founded by former Sen. Jim DeMint to support conservative Republicans during the primaries. The abortion industry said deafeating Cuccinelli in his hotly contested race against Democrat Terry McAuliffe was its top priority. Many believed Republicans did not do enough to support the conservative favorite, who had won several races in the Democrat-dominated northern Virginia area.

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Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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Vatican pressing forward with reform of US feminist nuns: Cardinal Müller

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says the Vatican is pressing forward with plans to reform the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

In an interview published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said that the reform of the LCWR, which was undertaken after an assessment of the group found serious doctrinal problems, will be carried out with the goal of helping them "rediscover their identity.”

“Congregations have no more vocations and risk dying out," Müller said. "We have first of all tried to reduce hostility and tensions, partly thanks to Bishop Sartain whom we sent to negotiate with them; he is a very gentle man. We wish to stress that we are not misogynists, we are not women gobblers! Of course we have a different concept of religious life but we hope to help them rediscover their identity.”

Moreover, the cardinal said that problems specific to the LCWR are not a reflection of all the women religious in the US.

"We need to bear in mind that they do not represent all US nuns, but just a group of nuns who form part of an association,” Müller said.

“We have received many distressed letters from other nuns belonging to the same congregations, who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which the LCWR is steering their mission.”

Cardinal Müller's remarks confirmed the assertion he and the Holy See’s delegate to the LCWR, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, made in an address to LCWR officials in Rome on April 30, that the theological drift the feminist nuns are taking constitutes a radical departure from the foundational theological concepts of Catholicism.

The Holy See “believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the Church,” Müller said in the address.

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“The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration,” he stated.

The LCWR has openly defied the mandate of reform intended to bring their organization into line with basic Catholic doctrine on the nature of God, the Church, and sexual morality.

Among the CDF’s directives, to which LCWR has strenuously objected, is the requirement that “speakers and presenters at major programs” be approved by Archbishop Sartain. This, Müller has explained, was decided in order to “avoid difficult and embarrassing situations wherein speakers use an LCWR forum to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church.”

The LCWR has invited speakers to their Annual Assembly such as New Age guru Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Sr. Laurie Brink, who is particularly noted for flagrantly denying the Divinity of Christ and telling the sisters that to maintain their “prophetic” place in society they need to “go beyond” the Church and even “go beyond Jesus.”

In one of the first public statements of his pontificate, Pope Francis affirmed that the investigation and reform of the LCWR must continue.

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Brian Fisher

Birth mothers: real heroes of the pro-life movement

Brian Fisher
By Brian Fisher
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What does it mean to be brave? Is it the doctor who dedicates himself to improving the health of a third-world nation? Is it the woman who faces her third round of chemotherapy to fight the progression of cancer? Is it the teacher who forgoes the comforts of a suburban school to reach minorities in the inner city? All of these are examples of bravery demonstrated in exceedingly challenging circumstances. And our society longs for stories of bravery to inspire us and fill us with hope.

As someone who works day in and day out with those on the front lines of helping rescue babies from abortion, I’m no stranger to stories of bravery. I see courage every day in the eyes of the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. I see it every time a young mom — despite being pressured by her parents or significant other to get an abortion — chooses LIFE. And perhaps more profoundly than in any other situation, I see it when an expectant mom with no relational support, job, or income chooses to place her baby for adoption rather than abort her son or daughter.

This was Nicky’s situation.

When Nicky found herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s child, her life was already in shambles. During her 26 years, Nicky had already given birth to and surrendered sole custody of a little girl, committed several felonies, lived in her car, lost several jobs, and barely subsisted on minimum wage. So when she met up with an old boyfriend, Brandon, Nicky believed she was being given a second chance at happiness. “Our first year together was beautiful. We were getting to know each other and deciding if we would stay together forever.” Unfortunately, a positive pregnancy test result changed everything.

“When I told him I was pregnant, Brandon sat down on the bed, looked me in the eyes, and told me to ‘get an abortion’.” Nicky says those three little words changed everything for her. “I became depressed living with someone who wanted his child ‘dealt with.’”  Like thousands of women every day, Nicky began searching online for information on abortion, hoping her boyfriend would eventually change his mind. Through our strategic marketing methods, Online for Life was able to guide Nicky to a life-affirming pregnancy center where she received grace-filled counsel. “The woman I sat with was beyond wonderful. She helped me to just breathe and ask God what to do….And so I did.”

Nicky left the pregnancy center that day with a new resolve to choose life for her child, even though she still wasn’t sure how she’d financially support a child. “I was alone with just $10 in my pocket…and without any type of plan for what I was going to do.” So Nicky relied on the support of the staff she met at the life-affirming pregnancy center. With their help and through a chain of fortunate events, Nicky was put in contact with the couple who would eventually become her daughter’s adoptive parents.

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After meeting this couple face to face and coming to terms with her own desperate situation, Nicky conceded that the best thing for her unborn child would be to place her in someone else’s loving home. She told Brandon about her plans and he agreed that adoption would give their child the best chance at a happy and secure future. He even returned home to help Nicky prepare for the birth of their child. “The weeks leading up to my delivery were filled with a mixture of laughter, tears, protectiveness and sadness,” Nicky recalls. But one sentiment continued to be shared with her. “Brave…so brave.” That’s what everyone from the life-affirming pregnancy center to the adoption agency to the birthing center kept calling Nicky. “The nurses kept coming up to me and telling me they were honored to care for and treat someone like me.” After several weeks of preparation, Nicky finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and she made the dreams of a couple from the other side of the country come true.

Nicky’s adoption story continues to be riddled with a strange combination of pain and joy. “I cry every day, but I know my baby, who came out of a very bad time, ended up being loved by people from across the country.” When asked what message she’d like to share with the world about her decision to give up her child for adoption, Nicky responds, The voice of the mother who gives up a baby for adoption isn’t heard. We need to change that.”

To learn more about Online for Life and how we’re helping to make stories like Nicky and her daughter’s story a possibility, please visit OnlineforLife.org.

Author, speaker, and business leader Brian Fisher is the President and Co-Founder of Online for Life, a transparent, metric-oriented, compassion-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to helping rescue babies and their families from abortion through technology and grace.

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New York farmers stop hosting weddings after $13,000 fine for declining lesbian ceremony

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By Dustin Siggins

New York farmers Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who were ordered last week to pay $13,000 for not hosting a same-sex "wedding," say they are closing that part of their operation.

"Going forward, the Giffords have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their farm, other than the ones already under contract," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyer James Trainor. ADF represented the Giffords in their legal fight against New York's non-discrimination law.

Last week, the Giffords were ordered to pay a $10,000 fine to the state of New York and $3,000 in damages to a lesbian couple, Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, who approached them in 2012 about hosting their "wedding." The Giffords, who are Roman Catholic, said their religious convictions would not let them host the ceremony, but that McCarthy and Erwin could hold their reception on their property.

Unbeknownst to the Giffords, the lesbian couple recorded the two-to-three minute conversation. After declining to hold the reception on the Giffords' farm, on which they live and rent property, the lesbian couple decided to make a formal complaint to the state's Division of Human Rights.

Eventually, Judge Migdalia Pares ruled that the Giffords' farm, Liberty Ridge Farm, constitutes a public accommodation because space is rented on the grounds and fees are collected from the public. The Giffords argued that because they live on the property with their children, they should be exempt from the state law, but Pares said that this does not mean their business is private.

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Trainor told TheBlaze that the Giffords' decision to end wedding ceremonies at Liberty Ridge “will hurt their business in the short run," but that was preferable to violating their religious beliefs.

“The Giffords serve all people with respect and care. They have hired homosexual employees and have hosted events for same-sex couples,” he said.

However, "since the state of New York has essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions," Trainor explained to LifeSiteNews. "No American should be forced by the government to choose between their livelihood and their faith, but that’s exactly the choice the state of New York has forced upon the Giffords."

"They will continue to host wedding receptions," said Trainor.

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