All articles from January 10, 2018


Featured Image
Shutterstock.com
Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy

News

Apple investors ask for stronger iPhone parental controls to help curb kids’ addiction

Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy

NEW YORK, January 10, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Two significant Apple investors have asked the tech giant to design software that allows parents to control how their kids are using iPhones in order to better “protect their health and well-being.”

“We believe there is a clear need for Apple to offer parents more choices and tools to help them ensure that young consumers are using your products in an optimal manner,” stated Barry Rosenstein, Managing Partner of JANA Partners LLC, in an open letter to Apple on the weekend. The letter was also signed by Anne Sheehan, Director of Corporate Governance for The California State Teachers' Retirement System. 

The two organizations, who together control $2 billion worth of shares in the technology firm, list a number of concerns about the damage Apple's products are causing children and teenagers when they are used inappropriately. 

Advised by experts Dr. Michael Rich and Professor Jean M. Twenge, the investors cited the “growing body of evidence” that heavy use of Apple technology, especially smartphones, is having “unintentional negative consequences” on children and teens. These include the following:

  • Children’s distraction in the classroom has increased while their ability to focus on educational tasks has decreased.
  • The number of students with emotional challenges has increased.
  • The number of students with social challenges has increased.
  • An increased risk factor for suicide.
  • An increased risk of depression.
  • Sleep deprivation, which is linked to weight gain and high blood pressure.
  • Constant battles within families about children’s screen time.

The letter does not mention how smartphones have become one of the biggest gateways for children encountering abd even becoming addicted to pornography. 

The letter reported that the average American teenager who uses a smartphone receives her first one at age 10 and spends over 4.5 hours a day on it “excluding texting and talking.” Also, 78% of teens with phones check them “at least hourly,” and 50% feel “addicted” to their phones.

“It would defy common sense to argue that this level of usage, by children whose brains are still developing, is not having at least some impact, or that the maker of such a powerful product has no role to play in helping parents to ensure it is being used optimally,” the investors wrote. 

Their recommendations to Apple include assembling a committee of experts to study the psychological effects of its technology on children and teens; assisting the experts’ research; developing new, child-focussed versions of phones with age-appropriate setup options, like screen time limits and parental monitoring; educating parents about the new options so they can make more informed decisions; and hiring a “high-level executive” to monitor these issues and report on them, just as Apple has for environmental and supply chain issues. 

“94% of parents have taken some action to manage their child’s technology use, but it is both unrealistic and a poor long-term business strategy to ask parents to fight this battle alone,” the letter states.

“Imagine the goodwill Apple can generate with parents by partnering with them in this effort and with the next generation of customers by offering their parents more options to protect their health and well-being.”

The investors stated that it is their belief that “addressing this issue now by offering parents more tools and choices could enhance Apple’s business and increase demand for its products.”

Featured Image
Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, president of the German Bishops' Conference Flickr.com
Maike Hickson

News,

VP of German Bishops Conference wants to bless homosexual couples

Maike Hickson

GERMANY, January 10, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) –  Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, the Vice President of the German Bishops' Conference, has called for a discussion about the possibility of blessing homosexual relationships. He believes there to be “much [that is] positive” in such relationships.

The new statement from Bishop Bode comes in the wake of a recent interview given to the German journal Herder Korrespondenz by Cardinal Reinhard Marx – President of the German Bishops' Conference and papal adviser – in which he proposed that the Catholic Church rethink her teaching on sexual morality in which he argued against “blind rigorism.” For him, it is “difficult to say from the outside whether someone is in the state of mortal sin.” Marx applied this statement not only to men and women in 'irregular situations,' but also to those in a homosexual relationship.

There has to be “a respect for a decision made in freedom” and for one's “conscience,” claimed Marx. He said that one has to take into account the “concrete circumstances,” while still remembering “one's own responsibility in light of the Gospels.” Of course, added Marx, one also has “to listen to the voice of the Church.”

In the new interview with the German regional newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, Bishop Bode made remarks which have already led to a vivid discussion in Germany, with conservative Catholics like Mathias von Gersdorff and Dr. Markus Büning raising their voices in protest.

“I think we have to discuss this matter in more detail within the Church,” says Bishop Bode – who has been the bishop of Osnabrück since 1995 – adding that it does not help to maintain “silence” in this matter. As the newspaper report continues:

The Vice President of the German Bishops' Conference proposed to reflect upon a blessing [of such homosexual couples], which is, however, not to be mistaken as a wedding. Even if the “marriage for all” is different from the Church's understanding of marriage, it is, after all, a political reality.

Bishop Bode asks, with reference to homosexual couples, “how do we do justice to them?” and adds: “how do we accompany them pastorally and liturgically?” Moreover, the German prelate – who had been one of the representatives of the German bishops at the Synod of Bishops on marriage and the family – proposes to reconsider the Church’s stance on active homosexual relationships which are regarded as gravely sinful. “We have to reflect upon the question as to how to assess in a differentiated manner a relationship between two homosexual persons,” he says. “Is there not so much positive and good and right so that we have to be more just?”

Mathias von Gersdorff, a well-known German pro-life activist and book author, comments on his blog concerning the Bode interview, warning “German Catholics who are orthodox” to prepare themselves: “The German progressivism does not wish a few things changed here and there, but it wishes to scrap the whole of Catholic teaching and to create a fundamentally new religion.” Von Gersdorff sees that the new Bode statement could “introduce a new phase of destruction.” He concludes his comments, as follows:

The “normal” Catholic is perplexed and asks himself: How far can the Catholic Church in Germany continue this path of destruction and still be called “Catholic”? When does it come to the point that there exists the moral duty to refuse to pay the Church tax?

Bishop Bode had raised such a discussion already earlier, in 2015, when he proposed “private blessings” for homosexual couples, and claimed that “remarried” divorcees “perhaps corresponds in a better way than the first [relationship] to the Covenant of God with men.” Bode then wondered whether such new relationships “always have to have as a consequence the exclusion from [the Sacraments of] Confession and Communion.”

In 2015, Bode claimed the Church should take the “life realities” of people into account and even consider those “realities” to be a third source of revelation – next to Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Both Cardinal Paul-Josef Cordes and Cardinal Kurt Koch at the time protested against this claim.

Featured Image
James Damore Peter Duke / Twitter
Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy

News

Google sued for discrimination against ‘conservative’ white males

Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy

SANTA CLARA, California, January 10, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – An engineer fired by Google for writing a memo about the differences between men and women working in tech is suing the company, citing its “systematic” discrimination against white male conservatives.

James Damore and another Google ex-employee, David Gudeman, are being represented by Harmeet Dhillon, the Republican National Committee’s committeewoman for California. Their lawsuit was filed in Santa Clara Superior Court on January 8. 

The 161-page lawsuit contends that while the plaintiffs were working for the company, Google discriminated against employees due to their “perceived conservative views,” “their male gender,” and/or “their Caucasian race.” 

It alleges that Google uses “illegal hiring quotes to fill its desired percentages of women and favored minority candidates, and openly shames managers of business units who fail to meet their quotas--in the process, openly denigrating male and Caucasian employees as less favored than others.” 

The lawsuit also contends that the “numerical presence of women celebrated at Google” was based “solely due to their gender” whereas the “presence of Caucasians and males was mocked with ‘boos’ during companywide weekly meetings.” 

The lawsuit claims that Damore, Gudeman and other Google employees were “ostracized, belittled, and punished for their heterodox political views, and for the added sin of their birth circumstances of being Caucasians and/or males.” 

Damore shot to fame when a memo he wrote about diversity for a Google internal discussion board in July 2017 was leaked to the technology news website “Gizmodo.” 

Damore’s memo criticized the lack of diversity in political ideas allowed at Google and offered suggestions as to why there is no “gender parity” in the technology field. For instance, he suggested that fewer women than men are interested in it. Damore wrote that he was against “arbitrary social engineering of tech just to make it appealing to equal portions of both men and women.”

In August, after he was widely criticized by Google staffers and the media, Damore was fired. He had worked for Google since December 2013. 

Gudeman had been employed by Google for three years before he was fired in December 2016 for remarks he made to a Muslim colleague. According to the suit, the colleague had complained of being targeted by the FBI because he was a Muslim. While researching the colleague’s claims, Gudeman suggested that “the FBI could have possibly found something interesting” in the co-worker’s recent trip to Pakistan. A third colleague reported the online conversation to Google HR.  Gudeman says that Google told him that he had accused his Muslim colleague of terrorism and terminated his employment. 

The lawsuit contains almost 100 pages of screenshots of internal communications at Google, in which employees discussed controversial issues. At least one manager allegedly kept a “blacklist” of employees with whom she would not work because of their conservative views. 

The lawsuit claims also that Google has a blacklist of conservatives who are banned from visiting its headquarters. Conservative blogger Craig Yarvin was, according to the action, ejected from the Google campus, having triggered a “silent alarm” while lunching there. Other conservatives apparently unwelcome at Google include writer Theodore Beale and Alex Jones of InfoWars.

Google has been accused of a left-wing bias in the way its search engine presents information. After Damore was fired, Fox News host Tucker Carlson argued that Google and other tech giants should be regulated as if they were utilities. 

“Google is the most powerful company in the history of the world,” Carlson said. “It’s the portal through which the bulk of our information flows. That means that if Google isn’t on the level, neither is our understanding of the world. To an unprecedented extent, Google controls reality. Google has already shown a disturbing willingness to distort reality for ideological ends.”

Carlson continued, “Until they were sued for it in 2008, Google refused to allow anti-abortion advertisements on its platforms even though they freely allowed pro-abortion ones. On the flip side, Google often blacklists certain sites from hosting ads which denies them revenue. Recently, Google-owned YouTube has introduced procedures to cut off revenue to, quote, ‘offensive content.’ What’s offensive? Who decides?”

Featured Image
bakdc / Shutterstock.com
Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

News

VICTORY: US Supreme Court lets stand religious freedom protections for Mississippi Christians

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 10, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – In a victory for religious freedom, the United States’ Supreme Court let stand a Mississippi law protecting Christians and other religious people from punishment by the government when they decline to provide services for same-sex “wedding” ceremonies. 

The nation’s highest court declined to hear an appeal of Mississippi’s “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act,” signed into law by pro-life Governor Phil Bryant in April 2016, but blocked ever since.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court declined to take up these baseless challenges,” Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot said. He said that the entire purpose of the Mississippi law was so citizens “don’t live in fear of losing their careers or their businesses simply for affirming marriage as a husband-wife union.” 

The law restrains government from punishing Christians who opt out of officiating or participating in homosexual “marriages.” It does not allow businesses to refuse service in general, but only applies to personal affirmation by participation in ceremonies that violate their sincerely held beliefs.  

The law also protects entities that keep bathrooms for men and women separate.

As soon as the law passed the legislature and was signed, the American Civil Liberties Union sued to stop it.  In June 2016, District Judge Carlton Reeves struck down part of it, ordering county clerks in the state to issue homosexual licenses no matter what their religion taught.  

On appeal, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously vacated Reeves’ decision, letting the Mississippi Freedom of Conscience Act go into effect whole.  The appellate court reasoned that challengers could not “show clear injury-in-fact that satisfies the ‘irreducible constitutional minimum of standing.’”

“Those who haven’t been and won’t be harmed by this law shouldn’t be allowed to restrict freedom for others,” Theriot explained

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo responded to the Mississippi’s Freedom of Conscience Act by banning state employee’s travel to Mississippi.

And so the case came all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has now refused to hear an appeal of the Fifth Circuit upholding the law. The Supreme Court did not offer an explanation.

Gay advocacy groups are bemoaning the decision. “Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s decision today leaves LGBT people in Mississippi in the crosshairs of hate and humiliation, delaying justice and equality,” Lambda Legal attorney Beth Littrell said.

Pro-marriage and family advocates hope the Supreme Court’s decision allowing the Mississippi law to stand will influence other, similar cases for religious freedom.  The high court did take up the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Oral arguments were heard last month and a decision is expected in June.

Featured Image
Diane Montagna / LifeSiteNews
Diane Montagna Diane Montagna Follow Diane

News

Professor rebukes new Academy for Life member’s ‘disastrous’ approval of contraception

Diane Montagna Diane Montagna Follow Diane

ROME, January 10, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — A prominent Austrian Catholic philosopher has issued a forceful rebuttal to the call of a new member of the Pontifical Academy for Life to allow contraception in some circumstances.

Professor Josef Seifert, co-founder of the International Academy of Philosophy (IAP) and a former member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, has said the positions of Fr. Maurizio Chiodi, delivered on Dec. 14, 2017 during a public lecture at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, contain “disastrous general philosophical errors that have been magisterially and forcefully rejected by Pope John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor.”

As LifeSite reported on Monday, the Italian moral theologian said during the public lecture that there are “circumstances — I refer to Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 8 — that precisely for the sake of responsibility, require contraception.”

When “natural methods are impossible or unfeasible, other forms of responsibility need to be found,” Fr. Chiodi said. In such circumstances, he added, “an artificial method for the regulation of births could be recognized as an act of responsibility that is carried out, not in order to radically reject the gift of a child, but because in those situations responsibility calls the couple and the family to other forms of welcome and hospitality.”

READ MORE: New Academy for Life member uses Amoris Laetitia to say some circumstances "require" contraception

Prof. Seifert added that Chiodi’s theory, which draws on the Pope’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia to “place subjective responsibility over objective moral situations,” is “profoundly erroneous and totally destructive not only of the moral teaching of the Catholic Church, but also of the essence of morality, and in fact, of any truth and any Church Teaching.”

Here below is Prof. Seifert’s full statement.

*********

Professor Father Maurizio Chiodi delivered last Dec. 14, 2017, at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome a speech entitled “Re-reading Humanae Vitae (1968) in light of Amoris Laetitia (2016). He is a new member of PAV, the Pontifical Academy for Life, founded by Pope John Paul II in order to explain and defend the truths the Church teaches about human life in Humanae Vitae and other documents.

Nonetheless, Chiodi does not only reject openly a central moral teaching of the Church on contraception, admirably stated in Humanae Vitae, namely that a wonderful and deep link exists between the conjugal loving union and procreation, such that any single contraceptive act that separates the unitive from the procreative meaning of the conjugal act, is intrinsically wrong in any situation. Above and beyond his denial of this teaching, Chiodi asserts that contraception is even morally mandatory under certain circumstances. According to him, responsible parenthood can oblige a married couple to use artificial birth control.

This suggests an answer Fr. Chiodi gives to two of the famous five dubia of the four Cardinals. Chiodi’s implicit answer may be formulated thus: “Indeed, there are no human actions that are intrinsically wrong under all circumstances.”

Chiodi invokes Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia, as a new model and paradigm for moral theology that eliminates the notion (solemnly and magisterially laid down in Humanae Vitae, Familiaris Consortio, and Veritatis Splendor) that contraception is an intrinsically evil human act that is wrong anywhere and at any time.  Chiodi adds, in radical and direct contradiction to the teaching of the Magisterium of the Church in Humanae vitae, that there are “circumstances — I refer to Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 8 — that precisely for the sake of responsibility, require contraception.” When “natural methods are impossible or unfeasible, other forms of responsibility need to be found,” Fr. Chiodi argued.

Chiodi’s position constitutes an unequivocal defense of the consequentialist and proportionalist ethics that attacked Humanae Vitae from the first day of its publication, and not only took issue with its teaching that contraception is intrinsically wrong, but claimed that there are no intrinsically evil acts at all; and that any human action is determined in its moral character solely by the proportion between its good and bad effects. This opinion was clearly and unambiguously refuted and rejected by Veritatis Splendor.

Chiodi likewise proposes more general philosophical and ethical positions that are profoundly erroneous and totally destructive not only of the moral teaching of the Catholic Church, but also of the essence of morality, and in fact, of any truth and any Church Teaching: namely 1) a historical relativism, 2) a consensus theory of truth, and 3) situation ethics.

  1. Saying that the norms of natural law “conserve the good and instruct in the way of good, but they are historical, “ Chiodi denies the perennial truth and validity of the norms that tell us that contraception and many other acts are intrinsically wrong, in a way that is not relative to, and dependent on, historically changing opinions, so as if Humanae Vitae could have been true in 1968 but would no longer be so in 2018.
  2. Besides this, Chiodi, while not directly claiming it, still strongly suggests that the fact that a large percentage of Catholic spouses practice contraception and do not accept the norms justifies silence about them, or even proves that these norms are no longer valid, as if majority consensus determined the truth. With the same right, he could claim that we are justified no longer to speak of the first commandment to love God above everything else, or even that this norm is no longer valid because a majority of Catholics do not fulfill it, or that the commandment that forbids to give false witness against one’s neighbor is not valid any longer because most people lie and calumniate others.
  3. Claiming that some “circumstances — I refer to Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 8 —precisely for the sake of responsibility, require contraception” (Chiodo, ibid.), Chiodo denies in fact directly the intrinsic wrongness of contraception magisterially taught by Paul VI and his predecessors and successors, and makes what is morally good or bad in the transmission of human life entirely dependent on concrete situations. Drawing out the lines of such a purely teleological or consequentialist proportionalist ethics of contraception, Chiodi suggests that quite in general no intrinsically wrong acts exist and that the moral quality of a human action can never be determined universally “by a general rule,” but depends on a proportion between good and bad consequences of human actions in concrete situations. Understood in this general way, the situation ethics Fr. Chiodi defends would also deny the intrinsic wrongness of abortion and euthanasia, and of many other acts listed in Veritatis Splendor as acts that are morally wrong under all circumstances and in all situations. It is worth noting that this opinion has nothing to do with blindness of conscience, lack of ethical knowledge, or personal imputability invoked so often by Rocco Buttiglione in the present debate. No, Chiodi implies an entirely objective “duty to contracept” in certain situations.

Thus the lecture of Father Chiodi contains, besides his open rejection of Church Teaching on contraception in Humanae Vitae, disastrous general philosophical errors that have been magisterially and forcefully rejected by Pope John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor.

One can only hope that Pope Francis, Bishop Paglia, and the large majority of members of PAV will ask Father Chiodi to revoke these grave errors, or to resign immediately his membership in this illustrious Academy, whose founder and spiritual Father Pope John Paul II unambiguously and consistently fought against precisely these same errors that Father Chiodi now proposes, and condemned them in a definitive way.

Moreover, Saint John Paul II founded the PAV precisely in order that it explain and defend these truths Chiodi denies. (As, prior to its reform though Pope Francis in 2016, ordinary, life-long member of PAV, who had to take an oath never to deny these truths, I could only feel profound sadness over this betrayal of the PAV, especially dear to the heart of John Paul II, if such views as Chiodi’s are not retracted by himself, by the PAV, or by Pope Francis).

Ethical truth and the untruth of this proportionalism are not only subject of Catholic faith, however, but can be recognized by human reason as well. They have been forcefully defended by the great pagan philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Cicero and are being defended by members of other religions, some of whom are members of the new John Paul II Academy for Human Life and The Family that continues, without any ambiguities, its service to the great founding truths and goals of PAV.

Prof. DDr. habil. Dr. h.c. Josef Seifert, President

John Paul II Academy for Human Life and the Family

 

Footnotes:

[1] I rely here on the summary of the talk in LifeSite: “While in the 50s and 60s was an urgent for believers, now the great majority of even believing married couples live as though the norm doesn’t exist,” he said.

“Officially and objectively the norm has remained,” but “even many pastors” don’t talk about it, he said. “In public, in catechesis, and in preaching, they prefer not to talk about it” while “in personal encounters they maintain a very indulgent attitude when the issue is raised.”

“And therefore,” he argued, “it’s significant that Amoris Laetitia speaks so little about it.”

[2] See  Josef Seifert, “The Splendor of Truth and Intrinsically Immoral Acts I: A Philosophical Defense of the Rejection of Proportionalism and Consequentialism in Veritatis Splendor”. Studia Philosophiae Christianae UKSW 51 (2015) 2, pp. 27-67; “The Splendor of Truth and Intrinsically Immoral Acts II: A Philosophical Defense of the Rejection of Proportionalism and Consequentialism in Veritatis Splendor”. Studia Philosophiae Christianae UKSW 51 (2015) 3, pp. 7-37.

Featured Image
Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

News

VICTORY: Baltimore pregnancy centers do not have to post abortion-related signs

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

BALTIMORE, Maryland, January 10, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals handed Baltimore pro-life pregnancy centers a major victory last week, telling them that no one can compel them to post abortion-related signs in their waiting rooms. 

Pro-lifers are rejoicing in the victory and hope it will translate to other states as well.

A 2009 city ordinance sponsored by Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who would become the city's mayor in 2010, forced pro-life pregnancy help centers to post signs telling clients that they do not do abortions nor refer for abortions.  Pro-abortion activists initiated the law, arguing that the pro-life pregnancy help centers were deceptive “fake clinics.”

But the Court of Appeals upheld a series of previous rulings in favor of Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns, the plaintiff who challenged the ordinance. The court ruled that such laws violate First Amendment freedom of speech.

The three-judge panel unanimously ruled the city ordinance was unconstitutional because it forced “a politically and religiously motivated group to convey a message fundamentally at odds with its core belief and mission.”

“This court has in the past struck down attempts to compel speech from abortion providers. And today we do the same with regard to compelling speech from abortion foes,” Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III explained.  “We do so in the belief that earnest advocates on all sides of this issue should not be forced by the state into a corner and required essentially to renounce and forswear what they have come as a matter of deepest conviction to believe.”

Pro-lifers hailed the ruling. “Life-affirming centers should not be forced to promote the abortion industry’s agenda in order to help women,” Americans United for Life (AUL) Director of Legal Communications Deanna Wallace stated in a press release.

Wallace said the city ordinance essentially “forced the pro-life community to push an abortion message.”

“Clearly, the abortion industry feels threatened by the ability of these dedicated pregnancy care centers to provide women with alternatives to abortion, and is trying to protect their profits by forcing pro-life pregnancy centers to promote abortion,” Wallace, whose organization filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, said.  “AUL is extremely pleased that the Fourth Circuit unanimously recognized the free speech rights of these commendable pro-life centers.”

In 2010, the Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns, a Catholic charity, fought the city ordinance in the courts.  In 2011, District Court Judge Marvin J. Garbis, a George W. Bush appointee, decided that forcing the abortion disclaimers violates pro-lifers’ free speech.

“Whether a provider of pregnancy-related services is ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice,’ it is for the provider—not the government—to decide when and how to discuss abortion,” Judge Garbis explained. “The government cannot...require a ‘pro-life’ pregnancy-related service center to post a sign.”

In 2013, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Garbis’ ruling, sending it back to him for reconsideration.  Judge Garbis remained in agreement with the pro-life centers.

Garbis reiterated that the city ordinance was unconstitutional because it “forces pregnancy centers to begin their conversations with a stark government disclaimer, divorced from the support offered by the Center and suggesting that abortion is available elsewhere and might be considered a good option by pregnant women—a message that the Center expressly finds morally offensive and would not otherwise provide.”

The case was again appealed and handed to the Fourth Circuit panel, this time along with St. Brigid Roman Catholic Congregation and Archbishop Edwin O’Brien as co-plaintiffs, and the court unanimously agreed with the pro-life centers because defenders of the city ordinance could not identify one incidence of deception.  

“After seven years... the City does not identify a single example of a woman who entered the Greater Baltimore Center’s waiting room under the misimpression that she could obtain an abortion there,” Judge Harvie Wilkinson III, a Reagan appointee, wrote.

“What the record does show is affirmative advocacy of abortion alternatives by a lawful non-profit group,” Judge Wilkinson continued.  “None of the public advocacy of alternatives, however, suggests that the Center would provide help or assistance in obtaining an abortion.”  He concluded that “Truthful affirmative assertions are not...misleading.”

Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns Chairman Tom Schetelich told WHSV-TV that the Fourth Circuit’s ultimate ruling was “a victory for the First Amendment and for the women of Baltimore.”

Pro-lifers are hoping the case influences several other appeals of forced abortion speech.  The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a California law forcing pro-life pregnancy help centers to advertise government-assisted abortion on large notices, and Catholic facilities to advertise state-paid contraceptives.  Their decision is expected in June.

Featured Image
Shutterstock.com
Nancy Pearcey

Opinion

Why despair, not pleasure, is the biggest driver of today’s sex scandals

Nancy Pearcey

January 10, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Another cultural icon bites the dust. We typically picture the movers and shakers in Silicon Valley as brilliant if geeky walking intellects hunched over their computers inventing new gadgets.

But this week Vanity Fair published a book excerpt by Emily Chang revealing that Silicon Valley is as sexually debauched as Hollywood, politics, and the media. The titans of the tech world—entrepreneurs, executives, investors, founders of companies—regularly host drug-fueled, sex-laced parties.

Women in the tech industry often feel compelled to attend to get ahead in their careers. But the reality is that joining the party often stalls their careers, as they are reduced to sex objects instead of respected as whole persons. Progress? More like regress.

Chang’s book fuels the post-Weinstein wave of outrage. Yet merely exposing scandals may not “produce a revolution or a reckoning or a sea change in attitudes,” warns Jim Glassman, a journalist and former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, in another Vanity Fair piece.

For real reform, we have to dig deeper. A hedonistic ethic pervades all our public institutions. Universities hold sex weeks where porn stars are speakers and sex toy companies display their wares. Students attend workshops with titles like “How to Have a Successful Threesome” and “How Many Licks Does It Take?” (on oral sex). The message is: Don’t be boring. Be like porn stars.

It should surprise no one that the hookup culture is metastasizing on campuses. The rules of the game are: no relationship, no emotional attachment, no commitment. You are supposed to be able to walk away from a hookup as if it never happened.

Before reaching campus, students are primed by high school sex education courses that typically focus on the physical: on the mechanics of sex and the avoidance of disease and pregnancy. These courses reduce the meaning of sex to a how-to manual. Many students even say the programs make them feel pressured into having sex. In one study, teens reported that they felt more pressure from their sex education classes than from their girlfriends or boyfriends.

Other segments of adult culture are complicit in sexualizing children at ever-younger ages. Dolls for little girls have morphed into “tramps” wearing fishnet stockings and red-hot lingerie. Corporations produce slut style fashions all the way down to infant clothing that says “I’m Too Sexy for My Diaper.” Advertisers use sex to sell, filmmakers use sex to entice viewers, musicians film raunchy videos.

Emily Chang reports that the tech titans of Silicon Valley are self-congratulatory about their sexual experimentation, priding themselves on being bold and unconventional. But in reality they are following a script that was given them. They are falling for a sales pitch.

A society’s view of sex reflects its deeper commitments—its prevailing ethos or worldview. The sexual liberation ethic stems from an underlying idea that the world is a product of blind, material forces. As a recent New Yorker article put it, “the loyalty oath of modernity” is that “nature is without conscious design … the emergence of Homo sapiens was without meaning or telos” (purpose).

And if the human body is said to have no meaning or purpose, neither does sex. On one hand, that means we are free to make up our own rules. On the other hand, it means that under all the hype about being bold and experimental is a fundamental despair—the belief that sex is insignificant in a literal sense: signifying nothing. As a drummer in Austin, Texas, told Rolling Stone, sex is just “a piece of body touching another piece of body”; it is “existentially meaningless.”

This outlook is deeply dehumanizing. No wonder many people keep grabbing at more—and more extreme—sexual experiences, while finding less genuine fulfillment. 

And no wonder those with power feel entitled to use other people for their own gratification.

Sexual exploitation is unlikely to stop with drug-and-sex parties in Silicon Valley—unless we are ready to rethink fundamental convictions. As I put it in my book Love Thy Body, at the root of moral issues is the question: What kind of cosmos do we live in? Are we products of blind material forces? Or does the natural world reflect some kind of purpose—and behind it, a Person who loves us and has a purpose for our lives? 

A society’s worldview ultimately determines whether it treats the human body as just another piece of matter, or whether it grants the body value and dignity, imbuing sexual relations with the depth and significance we all long for.

Editor's note: Nancy R. Pearcey is author of the just-released Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality. She is professor and scholar in residence at Houston Baptist University and editor at large of the Pearcey Report. Her earlier books include Total Truth and Finding Truth.

Featured Image
Prime Minister Trudeau announcing $650 million commitment to increase global access to abortion.
Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

Opinion

Justin Trudeau woke a sleeping giant when he banned summer job grants to pro-life employers

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

January 10, 2018 (The Bridgehead) – When it was announced several weeks ago that Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government had decided to insist on an “attestation” from all organizations and non-profits applying for funding from the Canada Summer Jobs Program—an attestation that indicated that group’s support for abortion and transgenderism, among other things—I noted that although the Liberals were obviously trying to specifically target pro-life groups, that everyone from churches helping refugees to the Salvation Army would be rendered ineligible by this new ideological purity test. According to the National Post yesterday, it turns out that this is precisely the case:

Churches and religious groups across the country are struggling over what to do with a confusing clause in the Canada Summer Jobs application that seems to require them to endorse access to abortions in order to get funding. The new “attestation” on the grant application is aimed at anti-abortion groups who have received the federal grants in the past. It requires stating that your organization’s core mandate respects “reproductive rights,” along with other human rights, and the online application can’t be submitted unless the box is checked.

The Liberals began this process to ensure that organizations like the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, where I serve as communications director, would no longer be able to secure funding from the Canada Summer Jobs Program after a campaign by abortion activists insisting that pro-life groups be declared ineligible resulted in the Liberals declaring that pro-life Canadians would be rejected if they applied. CCBR and several other pro-life groups took the government to court, and the Liberals were forced to settle with three pro-life groups for the amount they had been approved for by the Canada Summer Jobs Program prior to the government interference. The attestation process was intended to ensure that they would never have to pay out pro-life groups again—but it seems that Trudeau and the Liberals, in their arrogance, had no idea just how many organizations this policy would impact and just how many Canadians do not support their abortion agenda:

But hundreds of churches, charities, day camps and other religious organizations who hire students for summer programming are upset about the attestation, saying they feel like they’re being forced to sign a statement that goes against their beliefs.

“As a small Christian church that was planning to apply for the Canada Summer Jobs program to offer a summer internship, the recent changes have been quite a shock and disappointment,” said Brad Jones, the pastor at Woodgreen Presbyterian Church in Calgary. He said their church has sponsored three Syrian refugees and offers a free English-as-a-second-language cafe to the community. “And yet, because of our commitment to the sanctity of life and to biblical teachings, our government is discriminating against us,” he said.

“The very groups that the Liberal government claims to care about — students, refugees, children and people in need — will all lose because of these changes.”

What many Canadians are discovering is that while Trudeau’s Liberals may claim to care about refugees and other marginalized groups, charity will always take the backseat to ideology. Progressives have been ferocious in their attempts to shut down charities, adoption agencies, and other organizations that do much-needed work, but do not agree with every jot and tittle of their far-left ideology. The Liberals may not have intended to exclude these churches and charities, but by a combination of their ideological rigidity and their belief that nearly all Canadians have the exact same beliefs that they do, this exclusion was inevitable. More:

Rosemary Redshaw, the executive director of Ontario-based New Life Prison Ministries, a Christian organization that works with inmates, says she can’t sign the attestation because of her own beliefs and those of her organization, and thus can’t apply for the grant this year.

“We have had extremely successful summer placements of students of all backgrounds,” she said. “We will feel the loss of students this summer.”

The Canadian Council of Christian Charities, which represents 3,400 organizations, says it has been slammed with phone calls and emails about the new application form.

“Right now, many members are saying ‘we can’t sign this attestation,’ and if they don’t click it on the online application, their application is stopped,” said Barry Bussey, the organization’s director of legal affairs. He has been advising groups to send in a paper application with a letter that includes their own interpretation of the attestation.

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada says it’s heard from 160 churches and organizations so far who are disturbed or confused about the attestation and aren’t sure if they can send in a Canada Summer Jobs application this year.

“The wording of the attestation is either very ambiguous and it needs to be clarified, or it’s completely unambiguous and it needs to be changed,” said Julia Beazley, the EFC’s director of public policy. “The end result, whatever the intent may or may not have been, is that those who can’t check off that attestation are being denied equal access to a public benefit solely because of their religious belief.”

Of course, this applies not only to Christian groups, but also to any number of other religious groups that oppose or are uncomfortable with abortion on demand throughout all nine months of pregnancy or the new gender ideologies. Trudeau’s Employment Minister, caught off guard by this backlash, is telling Christian groups just to check the stupid box and they’ll get the money—after all, it’s only a pinch of incense:

Employment Minister Patty Hajdu’s office says the attestation refers only to a group’s “core mandate,” and that there’s a distinction between an organization formed solely to oppose abortion access and a group that holds religious beliefs that include anti-abortion views. It has been encouraging religious groups to apply. But that hasn’t mollified many organizations who are faced with having to check off the box. The ministry’s Applicant Guide says the attestation is consistent with “the Government of Canada’s commitment to human rights, which include women’s rights and women’s reproductive rights, and the rights of gender-diverse and transgender Canadians.” It says the government recognizes that “women’s rights are human rights,” and include “sexual and reproductive rights — and the right to access safe and legal abortions.”

As the pro-choice political commentator John Ivison noted earlier this week, Trudeau and the so-called “Party of the Charter” believe firmly in the right of Canadians to hold all of the beliefs that they hold, and if not—well, then you’re out in the cold. Trudeau sees the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as a tool to implement his agenda, rather than something to be upheld for all Canadians. Now, the Liberals are discovering to their shock that Canadians have a far greater diversity of belief than they thought possible—and a political backlash is beginning:

The Canada Summer Jobs grants are normally a public relations bonanza for MPs, who build the lists of local priorities for their riding and then sign off on who gets the grants. The government announced an extra $113 million annually for the program last year, doubling the number of placements across Canada to 70,000. But now the program has become controversial, with numerous stories already in local media where MPs are having to either defend the attestation (if they’re Liberals) or attack it as an unnecessary politicization of a federal grant program.

Conservative MP Ted Falk, the party’s critic for the file, says he’s heard from groups all over his rural Manitoba riding of Provencher, including from teen drop-in centres run by Youth For Christ and churches that run daycares and summer camps. He’s been telling them to send in a paper application with a letter.

“I wrote the minister a letter on Jan. 2 asking her to immediately rescind that requirement of the application, I have not heard back from her yet,” he said. “But I’m hoping that I will.”

Toronto Right to Life is already taking the government to court, and the Conservative Party is speaking out against the Liberal move. In all likelihood, this won’t budge Trudeau—he sees pro-life Canadians as second-class citizens, and if a few organizations helping refugees and the homeless get hurt during his campaign to sideline those who believe in rights for pre-born children, then so be it. But the Liberal MPs fielding angry phone calls are beginning to realize that there are millions of pro-life Canadians living in this country—and that discriminating against them comes with a cost.

Featured Image
Pete Baklinski / LifeSiteNews
Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

Blogs

Justin Trudeau is passionate about abortion. Is it because his mom aborted his half-sibling?

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

January 10, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Yet again this week, Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party are in the news over an issue they enjoy accusing the Conservatives of wanting to raise: Abortion. 

This time, it is because of a requirement in the application process for Canada Summer Jobs Program funding—that all organizations attest that they support abortion on demand, among other things. 

The backlash has begun, although considering the fact that Trudeau has previously declared that no pro-life Canadian can run for Parliament as a Liberal, this move is as predictable as it is disgusting.

That Justin Trudeau is “pro-choice” is no surprise, but one has to wonder where his passion for abortion comes from.

  • He pledged $81 million to the UN Population Fund, which funds abortion.
  • He pressured Prince Edward Island to begin offering abortion on the island by threatening to withhold federal health funding.
  • In response to Trump’s defunding of abortion services overseas, he announced an abortion fund of $650 million for developing countries to make up for the lost cash.
  • On a visit to Ireland, Trudeau pushed Irish leader Leo Varadkar on the legalization of abortion—and Varadkar declared himself a feminist after claiming that Trudeau had explained what that meant to him.
  • And the Liberal government insisted that a female Conservative MP could not become chair of the Status of Women committee because of her pro-life views

Previous Liberal prime ministers have been universally pro-abortion, but none of them have exhibited the level of passion Justin Trudeau has for the abortion cause. Some who have actually spoken to Trudeau about the issue have told me that he sees it as one of his most prized principles, and that abortion is far more than just another line item on the progressive checklist for him.

Trudeau, as his actions in the short time he has been prime minister prove beyond a doubt, intends to use his time in office to expand abortion access in Canada, fund abortions in developing countries, and recast pro-life Canadians as second-class citizens without the same access to government programs as everyone else. 

So where did this passion come from?

Shortly after Trudeau’s election in October of 2015, I took a look at one of the reasons: The Trudeau family is one that is deeply rooted in the Sexual Revolution. Pierre Trudeau was the one to decriminalize abortion in 1969, although his belief in restricting the procedure would have rendered him ineligible to run in his son’s Liberal Party. Despite Pierre’s tumultuous marriage to Justin’s mother Margaret—he gave her black eye at least once—his sexual appetites remained legendary, and he even flaunted his girlfriends to his young wife (she was thirty years his junior) as their marriage broke down.

Most significantly, when Pierre fathered a daughter with lawyer Deborah Coyne at the age of 71, he took pains to inform Coyne that he had no desire to be a parent to his only daughter, even discouraging them from living in the same city as him. His “pro-choice” approach to parenting was hugely indicative.

But the key to understanding Justin Trudeau’s passion for abortion may lie not with his father, but with his mother.

Margaret Trudeau expressed her support for abortion and birth control very early on, saying that her views on those issues were “very liberal.” Later, in a train-wreck interview she granted to Playgirl in 1979 that Vanity Fair would refer to as “one of the biggest mistakes of her life,” she recounted, among other things, that she’d had an abortion at age 17. One wonders if the fact that the half-sibling of Justin Trudeau was aborted the year before Margaret met Pierre at age 18 has ever given Justin any pause—or if that revelation has informed or solidified his own abortion support.

Margaret, like Pierre, had rather schizophrenic views on abortion. After giving birth to her own children—Justin himself being the first—she noted that, “Because I have been pregnant and given life, I find that personally, I really believe a child to be alive from the moment it is conceived—that’s a mixture of spiritual and physical feeling. That doesn’t mean I don’t think that women should have abortion made available to them. I can certainly see many instances when it really is the best way.” 

One wonders if she is referring to the abortion of Justin’s half-brother or sister here. 

Any pro-life activist can tell you that one reason people become resolute in their support for abortion is because someone they love very much has had one—and as such, they equate supporting abortion with supporting their loved one. The discussion about abortion suddenly becomes a very personal one.

And according to Jonathan Kay, much about Justin Trudeau can only be explained by his relationship with his mother. As the ill-fated marriage between Pierre and Margaret collapsed noisily, Margaret hit the road to live a whirlwind life of drugs, drinking, and promiscuity, attempting to outrun or self-medicate her mental health issues and struggles with depression. The tabloids lapped it up, and photographs of her dancing in Studio 54 made headlines in Canada. She toured with rock stars, had affairs with prominent celebrities, and became a cultural symbol of the Sexual Revolution.

Occasionally, she came home to see her boys. As Kay wrote after working with Trudeau on his memoirs:

What remains in my memory are the stories from his childhood. It’s one thing for daddy to leave. That happens all the time, sadly. But when mommy walks out, that’s something very different. We are conditioned to think of a mother’s love as the one unshakable emotional pillar of a child’s life. When that pillar folds up and walks out the front door, how do you keep the roof from collapsing?

Many ordinary people never recover psychologically from that kind of rejection. And Justin’s case was far from ordinary—because the whole world knew he’d become motherless. There she was, on the pages of sleazy magazines, partying it up in skimpy clothing at Studio 54. Trudeau’s classmates showed these photos to him at school. Lots of boys endure “yo momma” taunts. Not all of them come with a glossy, full-colour appendix.

A need to deal with maternal rejection doesn’t just define Justin Trudeau. It defines the attitudes of people around him. Once you enter his world and know something of the emotional pain he experienced as a youth, the knowledge knocks the metaphorical silver spoon out of his mouth. What good is the glitz of being a prime minister’s son when you’re living a childhood parched of mother’s milk?

Trudeau and his mother, of course, famously repaired their relationship as Margaret came to realize the impact mental illness was having on her behavior and sought help in what would become a very public journey. But as Kay notes, her actions—and departures—have done much to create the man who now serves as Canada’s prime minister.

Trudeau adores his mother, and obviously adored his father as well. One has to wonder: Did his father’s actions and lifestyle and his mother’s confession to Playgirl magazine about her own abortion inform not only Trudeau’s beliefs, but his passion for abortion? Did these circumstances develop Trudeau’s conceptualization of abortion not as a “necessary evil,” as some politicians would phrase it, but as a genuinely good thing?

We can only speculate, of course. The evidence is circumstantial, although an examination of Trudeau’s childhood and background tells us much about the prime minister he would become. There is tragedy inherent in the Trudeau story: Little boys left without their mother after a marriage publicly collapsed, an aborted half-sibling they never met, and a little girl rejected by her father, who did not even want to reside in the same city as his daughter.

Justin Trudeau has chosen to champion the Sexual Revolution and the abortion carnage that has resulted from it, but his own history provides us with a cautionary tale and highlights the ugliness and heartbreak that accompanies the so-called freedoms progressives like to celebrate. 

The final tragedy is that Justin Trudeau has learned all the wrong lessons from his family’s history.

Featured Image
Krista Kennell / Shutterstock.com
Doug Mainwaring Doug Mainwaring Follow Doug

Blogs

Desperate liberals in the age of Trump see ‘new age’ Oprah as their 2020 savior

Doug Mainwaring Doug Mainwaring Follow Doug

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., January 10, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Liberals, looking for deliverance in the age of Trump, seem to have found their savior at the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday Night: media mogul and talk show host Oprah Winfrey.  

The atmosphere in the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel’s International Ballroom, filled to capacity with gowned and tuxedoed gliterati, was electric as Winfrey’s lifetime achievement award acceptance speech turned into what many interpreted as a political campaign speech. 

The folks who live in Beverly Hills and Bel Air, Manhattan and the Hamptons effused breathlessly,  penning one endorsement after another. “Oprah/Michelle 2020,” tweeted comedian Sarah Silverman. Actor Leslie Odom Jr wrote: “She’s running. A new day is on the way.”

“More than an acceptance speech,” gushed Dennis Fallon at the Daily Beast, “Winfrey’s rousing Golden Globes speech played like a sermon or, optimistically, a presidential campaign speech.” He continued, “Oprah Winfrey, as she is wont to do, just gave the most galvanizing, inspiring, and possibly life-saving speech in awards show history.” 

NBC added its approval, tweeting “Nothing but respect for OUR future president,” from its verified account during the telecast. The news media giant quickly regretted its premature partisan presidential endorsement, deleting the tweet Monday morning.

Liberal Elites have clearly let their 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate of choice be known.  

RELATED: Phantom of the Oprah - Oprah's sham fight for abused women, especially as it applies to the Hollywood elites

But two little words in Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech set off alarm bells for conservatives: “Your truth.”  

Winfrey, after first talking about an “insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth,” turned on a dime and exclaimed, “What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have,” [emphasis added].

Popular Conservative Ben Shapiro, tweeted, “There is no such thing as “your truth.” There is the truth and your opinion.”  

Americans would be justified in questioning Tinseltown types’ ability to choose a president Americans want, especially during an era when Hollywood struggles to produce money-making movies that Americans want to see.  

Oprah’s ‘New Age’ connection

Ms. Winfrey is famous for jealously guarding her personal life from the public.  The American people only know about her what she wants them to know.  

While serving as a talk show host, Winfrey has often imprudently endorsed products and health treatments based on what some identify as pseudoscience, sometimes careening into actual anti-science.  Many fall under the heading, “New Age.”

She has also catapulted men and women with dubious New Age-type ideas into stardom, sometimes resulting in tragedy. James Arthur Ray, who was a guest on Winfrey’s show more than once, was found guilty of negligent homicide after people who attended one of his “Spiritual Warrior” retreats died.  Eighteen others were injured. 

NRO’s Devoe points out other New Age Winfrey endeavours, including hosting Brazilian healer, “John of God,” who performs disturbing “spiritual surgeries,” and promotion of  “the Thermage, a $30,000 machine that promised to smooth wrinkles using radio waves.”  Devoe compares Winfrey’s television New Age huckstering “to that of a snake-oil salesman in the Wild West.”

In the early 2000s, Winfrey started inviting representatives of new age spirituality onto her talk shows, including figures such as Marianne Williamson, Barbara DeAngelis, LaVar Burton, Richard Carlson, Betty Eadie, and many others. Winfrey strongly endorsed many of their works, and included some of them in her ‘Book Club” list. 

Around that time, Winfrey, who identifies herself as a “Christian," was named the “most dangerous woman in the world” by Bill Keller, considered then by some to be the world’s leading Internet evangelist.  He accused Oprah of peddling the equivalent of “spiritual crack.” 

Years ago, Winfrey began embracing and publicly promoting the homosexual agenda, even referring to a pair of lesbians as “married” years before the Supreme Court ruled on the matter.  In doing so, she was using her mighty megaphone to normalize homosexuality and while nudging Americans toward acceptance of the notion of same-sex "marriage."  

Liberal savior?

Writers at The New York Times, musing about a possible Winfrey White House run, wondered if she “could navigate the ideological pitfalls of a presidential campaign and give voice not just to broad themes, but actual policy prescriptions.”   

“While Ms. Winfrey has aligned herself generally with Democrats like Mr. Obama,” the NYTs report continued, “her views on a range of issues from financial regulation to drone warfare are opaque.” 

“What do all saviors have in common?” was a question frequently asked by Jerry Harvey, former Professor of Management at DC’s George Washington University, now deceased, in his discussions with Masters candidates.  He answered, “They get crucified.”  

Winfrey is too smart not to know this. 

Over the course of her long and storied career, Winfrey has never experienced anything but fawning praise.  She avoids self-inflicted controversy and negative press coverage assiduously.  Maintaining the value of the “Oprah brand” depends on it.  

Marketers have coined the term, the “Oprah Effect,” referring to the fact that whatever Winfrey promotes leads to mega sales. She has turned books, healthcare products, and personalities into huge successes.  

Currently, she is not a political figure, and because of that, she enjoys broad appeal. But if she were to enter the political arena endorsing a liberal agenda, she would risk losing up to one-half of her adoring followers overnight. 

Would Oprah––the Media brand––and more importantly––Oprah, the beloved personality––want to withstand buffets and punches, slings and arrows, from those who reject the far-left political ideology of the Democratic Party?  Probably not.

Hopefully, Winfrey is simply going to bask in the adulation of her Golden Globes performance while figuring out a way to monetize it.

Print All Articles
View specific date