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Man makes history as first Ukrainian with Down syndrome to earn bachelor’s degree

Anna Reynolds
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July 31, 2019 (Live Action News) — One of the thousands of graduates celebrating at universities across Ukraine this year made history by receiving his degree. The Kyiv Post reports that Bohdan Kravchuk became the first Ukrainian with Down syndrome to earn a bachelor's degree.

The Kyiv Post was unable to reach Kravchuk and his family for an interview, but in an interview with another media outlet, Kravchuk said now that he has graduated he is seeking "to find a job, work, have a family and provide for it and help my mom and dad."

Kravchuk studied history for five years at Lesya Ukrainka East European National University in Lutsk. Anatoliy Shvab, dean of the history department at the university, told the Kyiv Post, "Now I can say that he has learned material from the curriculum and his answers during the exam were informative enough to give him a high grade."

Shvab added that Kravchuk not only completed his studies, but also formed friendships and was an integral part of the community, saying, "Students like Bohdan need a lot of individual work. At the same time, socialization and communication with peers are essential for them." Shvab concluded, "That is why I think inclusive practices should be developed more in the modern system of education."

Kravchuk's story, as well as those of so many other people with Down syndrome, is a hopeful indication of what is possible for parents of children diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome. Despite the many advances in treatment and intervention, parents of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in utero face intense pressure to end their child's life in abortion.

This attitude has led to a horrific culture in which parents are suing their doctors claiming their child with Down syndrome should have been aborted. What does this say to the people currently living with Down syndrome and how can our society better ensure positive outcomes instead of killing the most vulnerable?

Despite the persistent and lethal discrimination against individuals with Down syndrome, these goals are increasingly attainable with early intervention and streamlined classroom experiences for children with special needs. Children with Down syndrome were institutionalized just a few decades ago, but now are showing the world that they are fully capable of a wide range of feats previously thought unattainable.

Published with permission from the Live Action News.

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Man pleads guilty to threatening pro-life group’s receptionist with rape and murder of her children

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July 31, 2019 (Christian Newswire) — A Wichita man who made calls threatening to murder an Operation Rescue staff member appeared in court yesterday and pleaded guilty to one count of making threats using interstate communications.

According to a press statement issued by U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister, Christopher M. Thompson, 22, admitted to making death threats via phone calls to Operation Rescue, a national pro-life organization headquartered in Wichita, Kansas.

Thompson had originally been indicted in January 2019, on four counts of making threatening communications in August 2018.

During the hearing, Thompson admitted to making three threatening calls to the female Operation Rescue employee in one day, although he had actually made many more.

His sentencing has been moved to October 15, 2019, according to the court case docket. Thompson faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000, according to McAllister.

During his eerie phone threats, Thompson said that he planned to rape the Operation Rescue employee's daughters and murder her and her entire family. He indicated he knew where she lived, and said he had stalked her and her daughters in Wichita.

In addition to the threats of murder and sexual violence, the messages also contained disturbing satanic overtones.

"We are grateful to the FBI for their quick response and investigation into these frightening death threats, and to the Wichita Police Department and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan McCarty for working to bring this man to justice," said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. "I hope Mr. Thompson receives stiff punishment in order to set an example to others that there are severe consequences for making death threats against us and our families. As Christians, we pray that Mr. Thompson can find redemption and forgiveness through Jesus Christ, and a new life free from hatred and violence."

Operation Rescue has taken extra undisclosed security precautions since these threats were made to ensure the safety of its staff and office.

Listen to one threatening recording.

Read Press Statement from Department of Justice.

Published with permission from the Christian Newswire.

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Rich and famous flock to Google Camp on ‘climate change’ using hundreds of private jets

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By Martin Barillas

PALERMO, Italy, July 31, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) -- A-list celebrities, including Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Barack Obama, and various media personalities, are flying or cruising to Sicily to gather at a luxury resort to discuss climate change. 

Guests were invited personally by Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the New York Post reported. The Google founders also invited their rival, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. 

The three-day mega-party will cost Google a reported $20 million to bring together jetsetter trendsetters who, according to Italian media, will come in as many as 114 private jet planes. 

As of Sunday, 40 had arrived already. According to the New York Post, 114 flights from Los Angeles to Palermo would add about 100,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide into the air. It has not been reported whether the celebrity guests will discuss their own effects on alleged climate change.

The relatively small amounts of carbon dioxide released by human activity — small when compared with natural occurring carbon producers, such as active volcanoes — has been blamed for changes in the climate, including global climate warming. 

Guests in the past have been entertained with performances by fellow A-listers such as Elton John, Chris Martin, and Gordon Sumner a.k.a. Sting. This year, a performance will be staged at the ruins of an ancient Greek temple, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This year marks the fourth Google Camp.

Fashion mogul Diane von Furstenberg and husband Barry Diller, a billionaire media developer, embarked to the party on the 300-foot Eos, one of the largest sailing yachts in the world. The Eos features two 2,300-horsepower CO2-spewing diesel engines.

David Geffen, the billionaire who founded Dreamworks, gave singer Katy Perry and actor Orlando Bloom a lift on his $400 million yacht, Rising Sun. Diller’s yacht is valued at a mere $150 million. 

The mega-yacht Andromeda, which was once owned by New Zealand billionaire Graeme Hart, is also on hand. CEO Eric Schmidt of Harbor Freight Tools reportedly brought his 240+ foot yacht, Intrepid.

Guests will stay at the luxurious Verdura Resort. While guests will pay their own way to the event, Google will pick up the tab for everything else at the garden spot. The nightly cost of rooms start at about $1,000, according to reports.

A source told the New York Post that the purpose of the event is for “influential people to get together to discuss how to make the world better.”

Some of the guests were seen driving in Sicily in exotic sports cars. Perry was seen in a Maserati that manages to get 15 mpg in city driving. 

For his part, Prince Harry told primatologist Jane Goodall in an edition of British Vogue edited by his wife, Meghan Markle, that he plans to have a maximum of two children. Expressing fears over global warming, the prince told Goodall: "What we need to remind everybody is: these are things that are happening now. We are already living in it. We are the frog in the water and it's already been brought to the boil. Which is terrifying."

When he said that he had always wanted children, Goodall said, "Not too many." The former army officer answered, "Two, maximum."

The controversy over global climate change within academic and media circles continues. However, retired NOAA scientist Rex Fleming Ph.D told interviewer James Delingpole in a podcast that he has joined former United Nations and U.S. government scientists who dissent from the theory of man-made climate change.

"CO2 has no impact on climate change," Fleming said. "Past climates have been warm and cold and warm and cold with no changes in carbon dioxide. How can that be a cause when there's no correlation."

In addition, he said several American scientific organizations will not support any scientist who casts doubt on the theory of man-made climate change. He told Delingpole that he had to go to Europe to publish a peer-reviewed article on the subject. 

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Rep. Denver Riggleman. YouTube
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Virginia GOP will not censure state rep who officiated at same-sex ‘wedding’

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By Martin Barillas

ROANOKE, Virginia, July 31, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Two groups of Virginia Republicans have tried to censure House rep. Denver Riggleman, who officiated at a ceremony claiming to join two men in marriage earlier in the month.

After the Republican Committee of the 5th Congressional District of Virginia failed on Saturday to pass a motion of censure of Congressman Riggleman, GOP activist Diana Shores led an effort by the Cumberland County Republican Committee to reprimand him on Monday, according to the Roanoke Times. According to NBC, Shores supports the freshman Riggleman on most issues but cannot endorse his officiating at a same-sex ceremony.

According to a statement to NBC, she said, “Mr. Riggleman, who claims to want government out of marriage, acted as an elected official to perform a marriage [sic].” Shores said, “Then, he made it clear in the communications that followed to the leadership of the district that he didn’t care what we thought about the actions.” While admitting that each Republican district committee can decide on whether or not Riggleman represents their values, she said, “As for me, he doesn't represent mine.”

Shores, a pro-life conservative, backed Cynthia Dunbar, who had unsuccessfully challenged Riggleman during the Republican primary race in 2016. Dunbar lost to Riggleman by just one vote. Monday was Shores’s last day as chair in Cumberland County. She is reportedly moving to neighboring Prince Edward County.

After the failed attempt at censure on Saturday, Melvin Adams, who chairs the 5th District Republican Committee, stated on the committee’s website that the committee remains “absolutely committed to inclusiveness” and does “not discriminate against anyone.” In an apparent contradiction, however, the website affirmed that the committee is also “absolutely committed” to the platform of the national Republican Party. It even went so far as to quote the planks in the platform that are opposed by LGBT campaigners. The platform states: “[W]e do not accept the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage and we urge its reversal, whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment returning control over marriage to the states.”

On July 14, wealthy distiller Riggleman officiated at the ceremony purporting to unite two of his male Republican supporters. A statement from his office noted that he was “happy” to officiate and that he is “proud” of the two young men. “My real belief is that government shouldn’t be involved in marriage at all, but if it is, everybody has to be treated equally before the law,” Riggleman told the Washington Post. “That is part of our Republican creed. And it also comes down to love is love. I’m happy to join two people together who obviously love each other.”

Some Republicans are backing away from the reprimand issued by the Republicans in Virginia. According to NBC, Virginia GOP spokesman John March said the efforts by Republicans of the 5th District to reprimand Riggleman were “not authorized by our leadership in any way shape or form.”

The state GOP has not taken any action on the matter. State GOP executive director John Findlay said he doubted that the Cumberland County GOP committee had the proper quorum to reprimand Riggleman.

So far, no Republicans are challenging Riggleman’s re-election.

At the Washington Examiner, widely considered a conservative publication, Brad Palumbo wrote in an opinion piece that local Virginia Republicans’ efforts to censure Riggleman are “embarrassing and petty.” Slamming the conservatives for alleged “intolerance,” Palumbo claimed that 40% of Republicans support same-sex “marriage.” 

Palumbo wrote:

To be clear, the problem is not that Johnson and his colleagues don’t support same-sex marriage. They are entitled to their view, but not to punish Riggleman for breaking ranks. The Republican coalition must be a big tent, with room for people of varying views who unite around the principles of limited government, constitutional conservatism, and individual liberty.

Intolerant Virginia GOP officials have to accept that, or else they should be tossed out. I’d like to see more Republicans follow Riggleman’s lead. And luckily, the congressman doesn’t seem too discouraged.

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‘Inexplicable’: Priest baffled at pope’s offhand transfer of St. Peter’s relics to Orthodox

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

KINGSTON, Ontario, July 31, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― A Catholic priest-columnist has called Pope Francis’ unexpected gift of St. Peter’s relics to an Orthodox patriarch both “unexplained” and “inexplicable.”

Fr. Raymond de Souza, editor of Canada’s Convivium magazine and a columnist for the U.K. Catholic Herald, wrote last week of the pontiff’s June decision to give representatives of Bartholomew, the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, a reliquary housing nine bone fragments belonging to the first bishop of Rome.

The majority of St. Peter’s relics are under the high altar of St. Peter’s Basilica, de Souza explained, but Paul VI had taken these fragments to keep in the private chapel in the papal apartment.

De Souza recalled that when Francis gave the relics away, the pontiff told Bartholomew’s delegation that he had first thought of it the night before.

“I no longer live in the Apostolic Palace, I never use this chapel, I never serve the Holy Mass here, and we have St Peter’s relics in the basilica itself, so it will be better if they will be kept in Constantinople,” he quoted Pope Francis as saying.

“This is my gift to the Church of Constantinople. Please take this reliquary and give it to my brother Patriarch Bartholomew.”

The columnist didn’t think the fact that the Apostolic Palace is unoccupied by Peter’s successor is sufficient reason to give Peter’s bones away. For one thing, there is no connection between St. Peter and Constantinople. In fact, the link between Peter and Rome is so strong that when Rome was replaced by Constantinople, then called Byzantium, as the capital of the Roman Empire, the popes refused to follow the emperor in leaving Peter’s city.

“The rationale that the relics were languishing in the unused papal apartment is not sufficient to transfer them to Constantinople,” de Souza stated. “They could have been moved to the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where the Holy Father does pray.”

“If it was thought that Rome had a superabundance of Petrine relics, the fragments could have been sent to Antioch, the first place where Peter was bishop, before he moved to Rome.”

De Souza contrasted the almost spontaneous handover of St. Peter’s relics, which he deems among the most precious items of which the Vatican has custody, with earlier transfers or “translations” of relics from one city to the next. He revealed that the Feast Day of Saint Stephen has pride of place right after Christmas because December 26 marks the day when the relics of this saint were translated to Hagia Sion, a Byzantine basilica in Jerusalem, in 415.

Moreover, when in 2004 St. John Paul II decided to translate the relics of two great Eastern saints, St. Gregory Nazianzen (330–390) and St. John Chrysostom (349–407), to Constantinople, the November 27 occasion was marked with great solemnity:

“Bartholomew came to Rome to venerate the relics together with John Paul in a public celebration, and the two exchanged formal addresses explaining the significance of the occasion,” de Souza recollected.

John Paul II told Bartholomew, “In the transferral of such holy relics we find a blessed occasion to purify our wounded memories in order to strengthen our journey of reconciliation, to confirm that the faith of these Holy Doctors is the faith of the Churches of East and West.”

Quoting his own Orientale Lumen, John Paul said they were also “witness to a favourable moment to ‘show in word and deed today the immense riches that our Churches preserve in the coffers of their traditions’.”

In response, Bartholomew described the relics of the Eastern saints as “returning home” and emphasized the joy of the occasion, saying “the transferral and return of the relics of our blessed Predecessors to the Most Holy Archdiocese of Constantinople, which they have glorified with their holiness, wisdom, struggles and apostolic work in general, is a cause of joy and exultation, not only for our sacred Ecumenical Throne and for the pléroma (fullness) of the whole of our Most Holy Orthodox Church which deeply reveres them, but also for all our Catholic brethren who reside in our See.”

De Souza was struck by Bartholomew comparing John Paul II to St. Basil the Great.

“You are following the example of St Basil the Great,”  he quotes Bartholomew as saying to the late pontiff.

“He returned the venerable relics of St Dionysius, Bishop of Milan, who fell asleep in the Lord while in exile because of the Arians. He was buried in the region entrusted to St Basil himself, as the Saint mentioned in his Letter addressed to St Ambrose, the successor of St Dionysius,” the patriarch continued.

“The Church throughout the world, adorned by the venerable blood of the Martyrs — like purple vestments and fine linen — properly respects the relics of her children who in the Lord bore painful sufferings, crucifixion and death, inflicted by wild beasts, fire, the sword and countless adversities.”

“One could only imagine what Bartholomew would have said upon jointly venerating the relics of St Peter in a similar circumstance,” de Souza remarked. “But he didn’t have the chance.”

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Dagny YouTube
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Ex-‘trans man’ wants the world to know that social media fuels kids’ decision to change sex

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

PETITION: Tell Rights Tribunal to THROW OUT cases of trans ‘woman’ demanding females wax his genitals Sign the petition here.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, July 31, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― A young feminist who identified in her teens as “non-binary” and as a “trans man” believes that social media is a driving force in convincing unhappy children that they should reject their bodies. 

Dagny, 22, gave a presentation to the “#GIDYVR: Gender Identity and Kids” conference in May. She described how she turned to her computer for help when she struggled with puberty.  

“I did have early instances of what would now be called gender dysphoria in my childhood. At 11 or 12, I felt incredibly humiliated by the fact that my breasts were growing, and that I would have to start wearing bras,” she said. 

“My period was a source of angst and hatred from the moment I first started menstruating. (...)  I thought there was something wrong with me for feeling that way,” she continued. 

“And maybe most predictive, I had a Yahoo answers account, and when I was in grade seven, I made a post with a title that was something like, ‘I’m a 12-year-old girl but I want to be a boy.’ I remember that the answers were mostly dismissive, but there were a few that instructed me, a 12-year-old, to look into transsexual surgeries.”

Dagny said her gender dysphoria “exploded” when she was 15, and she believes this was when she began to identify as “trans.” This new identity was influenced by friends and social media.   

“Like so many other trans teenagers, I first started courting my own trans identity because of two factors in my life: One, I had trans friends — two of them, both older than me, both female-to-male (FTM), like me, and two, I had a sharp increase in my social media use,” she revealed. 

“I was never very active on social media before I turned 15, but within months of creating an account on Tumblr and following several LGBTQ resource blogs, I had decided that I was non-binary.”

Later, she decided she was a “trans man.”

The first place she tried on this “fun distraction” of a new identity was the internet, and Dagny stressed that social media has a serious impact on the teenage brain.

“The first place I tried on this new identity — a trans man — was online,” she said. 

“And I just want to say that I think that it’s incredibly important for everyone — parents, yes, but also teenagers and therapists and lawmakers — to understand what kind of impact social media can have on a developing mind,” she continued. 

“I, in essence, became a different person after I started using tumblr. It’s an unhealthy, upsetting, and toxic environment to even observe, let alone participate in, as a teenager.”  

On social media, Dagny found herself caught in a serious level of “group think,” “moral policing” and “implicit threats of social exposure and ostracization.” She became withdrawn, anxious and paranoid. Indoctrinated by “Tumblr,” she thought her parents were bigots because they wouldn’t allow her to start hormone therapy. She also earmarked anyone who “misgendered” her was an enemy, and she hated anyone who called her “she.”   

“Tumblr’s version of morality and justice made me — an impressionable, insecure teenager — feel like my only safe place was in my head, where I would never be misgendered,” she said.  

“I didn’t feel safe online either, but I couldn’t allow myself to critique my online peers. Even though I had learned all these unhealthy beliefs and behaviors from them, they had also taught me that they held the moral high ground. So I adopted and parroted Tumblr’s ideals, and my identity was unconditionally validated.”

Dagny also believed that because she was trans, she was morally obligated to “transition,” and any hesitation on her part was down to internalized transphobia. This is why she believes it so important today that children with gender dysphoria hear the testimony of those who “detransition.” 

“We’ve been absolutely inundated with one narrative, one option, one story, since this issue hit the mainstream,” she said. 

“We’ve been given only one option, at the risk of unspeakable, devastating consequences: if a teen says she has gender dysphoria and wants to be a boy, then she should — must — be allowed to transition,” she continued. 

“That’s the story we’ve been sold, and it’s the only story we’ve been sold. And detransitioners are an inconvenient contradiction to this story.”

Dagny revealed that she still has gender dysphoria ― few days go by in which she doesn’t wish she was a man ― but that she feels much better than she did when she was 16. She no longer wishes to “transition,” and is distressed that other young people with gender dysphoria think they have no other choice.   

“It’s time to change that,” she said. 

“It’s time that we become aware of how much pain and negativity this narrative is causing,” she continued.  

Fortunately, there is a silver lining to social media cloud. Thanks to Dagny’s online Pique Resilience Project, in which she partners with three other young women who have also “detransitioned,” at least two children have decided not to attempt to change their gender.

“The PRP has received at least two messages from parents telling us that after watching videos about detransitioning, their teenagers decided that they have Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria and that they would not transition. They realized that pursuing different options was a better solution for them and their experience,” she said. 

Another source of information for parents of children suffering from Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria is the 4thWaveNow online community.

Ironically, Dagny, who has a female partner, would not be overly pleased with this LifeSiteNews article, as the fact that only socially conservative newspapers pay attention to stories like hers troubles her. 

“We’ve unfortunately been profiled numerous times on far-right Christian journals, and not once, to date, on mainstream, leftist news media, which I find interesting, given the amount of coverage trans issues have received these last five years,” she said. 

“I think that this indicates a fear of straying from the path — a fear of saying something, even if true, that goes against the grain.” 

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Backlash: Drag Queen Story Hour proves detrimental to libraries seeking increased funding

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By Doug Mainwaring

PETITION: Tell U.S. libraries to stop pushing 'drag queens' on our kids! Sign the petition here.

SPOKANE, Washington, July 31, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Public libraries in Washington state are distancing themselves from a recent Drag Queen Story Hour event which has library officials concerned that taxpayers will turn against increased funding for their jurisdiction’s library system. 

A Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) held at a library in the City of Spokane, Washington in June attracted national attention as 200 protestors were met with extreme measures by local law enforcement, with snipers stationed atop the library roof to keep peaceful protesting moms in check. 

That event in the City of Spokane seems to have tarnished the reputation of libraries in the county which surrounds it and shares the same name.

“While the City of Spokane, which operates its own separate library system from the county’s, refuses to apologize for arresting and potentially risking the lives of protesters and exposing children to the incredibly controversial ‘art’ of drag, the county library system is now making sure to publicly distance itself from the Drag Queen Story Hour fiasco,” observed Elizabeth Johnston, the “Activist Mommy.”  

“As it turns out, local taxpayers are wholeheartedly opposed to these sickening, child-targeting events, but confusion over which library system is responsible is putting county library funding in jeopardy,” wrote Johnston on her blog. 

“Spokane County Library District leaders are asking voters for a $2 million property tax increase to avoid laying off staff and closing libraries,” according to a local news report by The Spokesman-Review, “but they fear that backlash from the city of Spokane library system’s Drag Queen Story Hour could turn off voters.”

“Jane Baker, Spokane County libraries spokeswoman, said the district has received about 100 calls about the city’s Drag Queen Story Hour since the event drew a considerable public presence both on the South Hill and downtown in June,” continued the report. “Many of the callers said they wouldn’t vote for the levy because they were against the story hour, or wanted to know if Spokane County libraries were planning to host its own.” 

‘No Drag Queen Story Hours will be held,’ declares Spokane County Library leader

Contrary to the perception promoted by major media that DQSHs are wildly popular, the spokeswoman for the Spokane County Library District indicated that there has never been a request for DQSH at any of the county’s libraries. 

“Baker said the library district tries to offer programs that Spokane County residents say they want, but no one has asked for a Drag Queen Story Hour,” reported the The Spokesman-Review. “She said their current story hour is designed to help young children prepare for school and is led by trained library staff.” 

Drag Queen Story Hour: The kiss of death?

Spokane County Library District Director Patrick Roewe went further and declared that the county library district will not be hosting a DQSH. 

According to Director Roewe, his County Library District is working to inform voters that the city and county libraries are separate entities in order to head off any moves to deny the additional funding being sought. 

Roewe wrote an op-ed titled “No drag hour at Spokane County Library District locations, but any readers welcome here,” in which he aimed to distinguish the county libraries from those in the city. Roewe described the laudable educational goals of his county library storytimes which have not been co-opted by men garishly dressed in women’s clothing:  

Rather than talk about what we are not doing, we want to emphasize what Spokane County Library District is doing. The focus of our early literacy programs such as storytime is on preparing children for kindergarten by introducing the skills children need for learning: recognizing the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes and developing an array of social skills needed to prepare them for educational success.

‘No different than a racist donning black face...no to gender appropriation!’

As reported previously by LifeSiteNews, the protest outside the June DQSH at Spokane City Library was organized by Anna Bohach. Bohach created 500 Mom Strong, a grassroots group for women “who have had enough with the sexualization of our children and the mockery of our femininity.”    

Bohach said “Drag Queen Story Hour” is misogynistic: “Drag queens are very offensive to women. They are grotesque hypersexualized caricatures of women. They mock women and debase our womanhood and femininity. A drag queen is no different than a racist donning black face.”

“The library hosting such an event teaches our sons that women are just sexual objects and it teaches our daughters that they must be overly sexualized to be desired. Enough is enough. We say NO more to a political agenda aimed at degrading women and sexualizing children. We say no to gender appropriation!” 

While many are appalled by DQSHs and local library systems may resist attempts to hold DQSHs, the sprawling national American Library Association (ALA) is working to not only promote DQSHs, but to teach librarians how to sneak these events into libraries in rural or conservative jurisdictions. 

The ALA’s recent national conference provided librarians from across the country with strategies for advancing gender identity ideology in schools and finding ways to bring “Drag Queen Story Times” into public libraries despite the objections of local communities.   

The conference was held just as disturbing stories came to light about DQSHs held in public libraries. On the West Coast, young children were photographed lying on top of and crawling on a drag queen – something that goes against standard school, camp, and church child protection policies – while on the East Coast, a drag queen who read to young children was discovered to be involved with numerous lurid and pornographic sexual businesses and activities.

Meanwhile, in Texas, two drag queens who participarted in DQSH events were revealed to be convicted sex offenders.

“The goal is to normalize abnormal, sexually deviant homosexual behavior by enticing children to first: question their sexuality,” pro-family activist Georgia Kijesky recently told LifeSiteNews. “The more children see men dressing up as women, the more normal it will become.”

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California lawmakers suggest religious are to blame for LGBT suicides

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By Calvin Freiburger

SACRAMENTO, California, July 31, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – If left-wing lawmakers have their way, it will soon be the official position of the state of California that Americans who hold to biblical understandings of sex and gender will be considered responsible for homosexual and transgender suicides.

ACR-99 is a resolution declaring that “being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender” are “part of natural variations that occur in sexual orientation and gender identity” and condemning counseling services that help people resolve unwanted gender confusion or same-sex attraction. It passed the California Assembly last month, and is now pending before the state Senate.

“The stigma associated with being LGBTQ often created by groups in society, including therapists and religious groups, has caused disproportionately high rates of suicide, attempted suicide, depression, rejection, and isolation amongst LGBTQ and questioning individuals,” it claims. It calls on “the people of California – especially its counselors, pastors, religious workers, educators, and legislators” to eschew and work against anti-LGBTQ “stigma.”

“There is no reputable, serious research showing people commit suicide because a particular religion refuses to embrace homosexuality,” Focus on the Family’s Glenn Stanton responded. “None. It is largely created as an ideological assumption and political cudgel. But to even question the assertion will cast you immediately as a heartless stone. Remember, any science that does not permit it to be questioned has become fundamentalist dogmatism.”

Biological sex is rooted in an individual’s chromosomes and reflected by hundreds of genetic characteristics. Studies indicate that more than 80 percent of children experiencing gender dysphoria outgrow it on their own by late adolescence, unless their confusion is reinforced by adults. Even reinforcing one’s chosen “gender identity” to the point of full sex-reassignment surgery often fails to resolve gender-confused individuals’ heightened tendency to engage in self-harm.

The University of Cambridge’s Stonewall report found that 96 percent of trans students in Scotland attempted self-harm through actions such as cutting themselves, and 40 percent attempted suicide. Forty percent in the United States have attempted suicide, as well, according to a 2016 survey from the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE). According to a 2011 study from Sweden, trans people remain 19 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population.

Further research out of LGBT-friendly Sweden has found that homosexual and transgender residents remain more likely to attempt or commit suicide, despite having achieved the type of culture advocated by ACR-99.

The California resolution “ought also to call for religious leaders — and secular leaders — to counsel on LGBT matters from a place of love, compassion, and knowledge of the dangers inherent in such practices,” suggested author Denise Shick, founder of the Christian ministry Help 4 Families. “Love and compassion must be based on knowledge, and knowledge must be based on facts, not on suppositions.”

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BREAKING: Apple News bans LifeSite without warning: says it ‘shows intolerance’

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Respectfully ask Apple to reinstate LifeSite’s Apple News channel. Sign the petition here.

July 31, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A little over one week ago, Apple approved LifeSiteNews’ application to publish our news on their Apple News platform. 

Today, without warning, Apple News abruptly reversed course, telling LifeSite that they had deleted our channel and all of our content from their platform.

Apple claimed that LifeSite’s channel “didn't comply with our Apple News guidelines.” Specifically, they stated that LifeSite’s “[c]hannel content shows intolerance towards a specific group.”

Apple’s e-mail provided no details about which content they deemed offensive, or which “specific group” LifeSite’s content allegedly showed intolerance towards. 

LifeSite has reached out to Apple News for further details about their decision, which we intend to appeal.

Apple News is an app that is available on all Apple devices. It aggregates news content from thousands of publishers. Apple users can “follow” their favorite news sites and receive customized updates.

Conservatives have expressed alarm in recent years that a small number of large tech giants, often located in predominantly left-wing jurisdictions, are acting as gatekeepers to an increasing amount of the world’s information. 

“We don’t yet know the reason for Apple’s decision to delete our channel,” said LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief John-Henry Westen. “However, at a time when there is growing evidence that tech juggernauts are engaging in concerted censorship against even mainstream conservative viewpoints, Apple’s decision – made unilaterally, and without opportunity to appeal – is frightening.”  

“It goes without saying that LifeSite would never promote intolerance or hatred against any group,” Westen continued. “However, in our current divisive political climate, even mild expressions of common conservative viewpoints are often written off as de facto hatred and intolerance. We certainly hope that this is not what Apple is doing. However, we urge our readers to contact Apple, and to respectfully demand that they reinstate LifeSite’s channel.”

LifeSiteNews has created a petition that people can sign to express their opinions to Apple about this decision.

Respectfully ask Apple to reinstate LifeSite’s Apple News channel. Sign the petition here.

LifeSiteNews first applied to publish on the Apple News platform – billed as a neutral news aggregator – last November. It took over six months, and dozens of follow-up requests, before LifeSite’s channel was finally approved earlier this month.

We are not taking this lightly and we will not be silenced, but it takes time and resources to do so. Please consider making a monthly donation of any size to help sustain us as we combat the censorship of #BigTech.
 
Let's tell Apple and all the other Big Tech companies that we will not stand by while censorship continues. 

Developing…

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Calvin Freiburger

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Mario Lopez apologizes for telling parents not to raise confused boys as girls

Calvin Freiburger
By Calvin Freiburger

July 31, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Veteran television personality Mario Lopez came under fire this week for an interview in which he disagreed with parents who reinforce gender confusion in their children, spurring him to apologize for sentiments he has since disavowed as “ignorant and insensitive.”

Last month, the former Saved by the Bell star and upcoming Access Hollywood co-host sat down for an interview with conservative personality Candace Owens, during which the subject of Hollywood parents such as Charlize Theron raising little boys as little girls (and vice versa) came up. “I am trying to understand this new Hollywood mentality where they just think their children now have the mental authority,” Owens said.

“I am trying to understand it myself,” Lopez agreed. “I’m kind of blown away, too. Look, I’m never one to tell anyone how to parent their kids, obviously, and I think if you come from a place of love, you really can’t go wrong, but at the same time, my God, if you're three years old and you’re saying you’re feeling a certain way or you think you’re a boy or a girl or whatever the case may be, I just think it's dangerous as a parent to make this determination then, well, okay, then you’re going to a boy or a girl, whatever the case may be.”

“It’s sort of alarming, and my gosh, I just think about the repercussions later on,” Lopez continued. “When you’re a kid ... you don’t know anything about sexuality yet. You’re just a kid.” He suggested that “parents need to allow their kids to be kids but at the same time, you gotta be the adult in the situation.”

Those comments were met with scorn by social media users and pro-LGBT activists, who accused him of saying parents shouldn’t “support” gender-confused kids, “speak[ing] against a vulnerable group of children,” lacking “education,” and being “cruel.”

Following the backlash, Lopez issued a statement to People magazine disavowing his remarks. “The comments I made were ignorant and insensitive, and I now have a deeper understanding of how hurtful they were,” he said. “I have been and always will be an ardent supporter of the LGBTQ community, and I am going to use this opportunity to better educate myself. Moving forward I will be more informed and thoughtful.”

On Wednesday, Owens took to Twitter to comment on Lopez backing down:

Biological sex is rooted in an individual’s chromosomes and reflected by hundreds of genetic characteristics. Studies indicate that more than 80% of children experiencing gender dysphoria outgrow it on their own by late adolescence, unless their confusion is reinforced by adults. Even full sex “reassignment” surgery often fails to resolve gender-confused individuals’ heightened tendency to engage in self-harm.

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The awesome story of how this mom of 4 founded the largest pro-life group in N. Ireland

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By LSN

July 31, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – This week’s episode of The Van Maren Show gives us a deep look into the pro-life movement in Northern Ireland as it stands right now, and what the possibilities are moving forward. Jonathon Van Maren has an amazing conversation with Bernadette Smyth, the founder of the largest pro-life group in Northern Ireland, Precious Life. She also founded Youth for Life, which is a project of Precious Life, whose aim is to equip the next generation with the skills needed to keep abortion illegal in Northern Ireland. Smyth shares with listeners how she got into the pro-life movement and then dives deep into how she was able to start Precious Life over 23 years ago, and how she’s been able to sustain and grow this organization ever since. 

Smyth shares some amazing stories about the babies she’s been involved in saving from abortion – and the details of the moments when she got to hold those sweet babies. These stories alone are very gratifying for any pro-lifer to hear! 

One of the most important things shared is this episode is an update on the status of abortion in Northern Ireland. Smyth provides a brief history of everything that led up to the repeal of Ireland’s 8th Amendment. She also gives the date of October 21, 2019 as a deadline for getting their government back in office before abortion is imposed on Northern Ireland on October 22.

If you’ve been confused about the government situation in Northern Ireland, this is an opportunity to gain some understanding of what exactly is going on. 

Smyth ends the interview by telling all pro-life advocates that prayer is absolutely the best thing to do to support Northern Ireland in this fight. However, if you’re feeling like you need to do more, contact Precious Life via their website or Facebook page, or even calling their office. Offering to help in whatever way God inspires you is absolutely beneficial.

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Christian satire site lawyers up after Snopes ‘fact checks’ threaten revenue

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By Calvin Freiburger

July 31, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Conservatives have long criticized the left-wing “fact-checking” website Snopes not merely for bias in its work, but for occasionally responding to satirical articles as if they were meant to be taken as fact. The site’s latest target, the Babylon Bee, has now retained legal representation in response to Snopes’s latest escalation.

Earlier this month, the Bee (a conservative Christian analogue to satire sites like The Onion) published a spoof piece about Democrat Georgia state rep. Erica Thomas accusing Chick-fil-A employees of admonishing her to “go back to your country” when they merely said “my pleasure” for serving her. 

The piece was a play on both left-wing ire toward Chick-fil-A and a recent incident in which Thomas claimed that a white man at a grocery store checkout suggested she leave the country. It soon came out that the man, Eric Sparkes, was a Cuban Democrat who had confronted her about using the express lane with too many items rather than one of multiple empty lanes. She eventually backtracked to “I don’t know if he said ‘go back,’ or those types of words.”

Snopes subsequently rated the story “False,” admitting that the Bee is a satirical website yet purporting to fact-check it anyway because the “line between fact and fiction here is a bit blurry.” Snopes accused the Bee of “an apparent attempt to maximize the online indignation” and editorialized in its sub-headline, “we’re not sure if fanning the flames of controversy and muddying the details of a news story classify an article as ‘satire.’”

Babylon Bee founder Adam Ford responded to the “fact check” with a lengthy Twitter thread, criticizing Snopes for omitting key details of the real Thomas story and for repeatedly attributing malicious intent to the satirical outlet, while framing comparable Onion spoofs much more generously:

While many may be tempted to dismiss the Snopes piece as an annoyance, the Bee explained to its readers via email Monday that the “fact-checking” website’s antics could have real-world ramifications on its livelihood.

“At one point, a piece of ours was rated ‘false’ by Snopes, prompting Facebook to threaten us with limitations and demonetization,” it said. “We made a stink about this, and after some media attention shed light on the problem, Facebook apologized for their handling of the matter and admitted that satire is not the same as fake news.

“We came out on top last time, but this latest smear from Snopes is both dishonest and disconcerting,” the Bee continued. “We have no choice but to take it very seriously...by lumping us in with fake news and questioning whether we really qualify as satire, Snopes appears to be actively engaged in an effort to discredit and deplatform us. While we wish it wasn’t necessary, we have retained a law firm to represent us in this matter.” Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon confirmed the seriousness of the statement in an email to Hot Air.

Snopes has since edited its original article to remove the most accusatory language and add an editor’s note claiming that it was “not the editors’ aim” to be construed as “imputing deceptive intent on the part of Babylon Bee” and announcing that the site is “in the process of pioneering industry standards for how the fact-checking industry should best address humor and satire.”

Past examples of Snopes promoting subjective left-wing views in the guise of impartial fact-checking include claiming it’s “problematic” to describe abortion as a “cause of death.”

In 2016, cofounder Barbara Mikkelson accused ex-husband and cofounder David Mikkelson of embezzling $98,000 from the company to spend on personal expenses, including vacations with prostitutes. David has denied the accusations.

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Archbishop Paglia with Pope Francis Vincenzo Paglia / www.vincenzopaglia.it
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JP2 biographer: John Paul II Institute is being destroyed with ‘thuggery, brute force’

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

ROME, Italy, July 31, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― Pope John Paul II’s most famous biographer has stated that the Chancellor of the Institute that bears the saint’s name is destroying the John Paul II Institute, suggesting that it is being accomplished through “thuggery and brute force.”

George Weigel, author of over 20 books and innumerable articles, has written a blistering piece for Catholic World Report about the gutting of the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences. In the July 29 article, titled, “The Vandals Sack Rome …  Again,” Weigel cast doubt on Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia’s fitness for the role as Grand Chancellor. 

“Paglia’s appointment as Grand Chancellor of the John Paul II Institute – a position for which he had and has no discernible qualifications – was puzzling when it happened two years ago,” Weigel said. Pope Francis appointed Paglia as Grand Chancellor of the Institute in 2017.

Likening the dramatic changes sweeping the former stronghold of the great philosopher-pope’s thought to the Vandals’ 455 AD sack of Rome, Weigel referred to Archbishop Paglia as “the chief vandal.” 

Weigel deplored that the senior faculty of the Rome-based John Paul II Institute was dismissed last week, and noted that there is “no guarantee” that the school will retain “any resemblance to what John Paul II intended for it.” 

Students of the Institute, in a July 26 letter, threatened to leave the school in the wake of the firings and elimination of courses. “Why should one continue studying at the John Paul II Institute if it does not seem to propose anything new with respect to what can be found in the curricula of secular universities and what is oftentimes offered there in more attractive and efficient ways,” the students wrote in the letter. 

Weigel places blame on Paglia, the former bishop of Terni-Narni-Amelia.

“That these Stalinistic acts of intellectual brigandage against the theological and pastoral heritage of Pope St. John Paul II are being carried out by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia – who came to international attention in 2017 for having commissioned a homoerotic fresco in the apse of the cathedral of Terni-Narni-Amelia – is ironic in the extreme,” Weigel wrote. 

“Paglia was simply another ambitious cleric when his work as ecclesiastical advisor to the Sant’Egidio Community drew him to John Paul’s attention. Years of sycophancy followed, during which Paglia would brag about how he had turned the pope around on the subject of murdered Salvador archbishop Oscar Romero by telling John Paul that 'Romero was not the Left’s bishop, he was the Church’s bishop,'” he continued.

 “[Paglia] is acting precisely like those who manipulated the Synods of 2014, 2015, and 2018, i.e., another cabal of ambitious (and, frankly, not-so-bright) clerics who continually lost arguments and then tried to compensate by brutality and threats,” he stated. 

The prolific author even went so far as to suggest that Pope Francis will reward Paglia with great honors for his destruction of the pro-life and pro-family institute. 

“Is there a red hat in Archbishop Paglia’s future?” he asked. 

“If so, it will be as a reward for knee-capping scholars of impeccable scholarly credentials and personal probity, deeply beloved by their students,” he continued.  

“One wonders if the Grand-Chancellor-Become-Lord-High-Executioner of the John Paul II Institute has ever read A Man for All Seasons and Thomas More’s devastating response to his betrayal by the grasping bureaucrat, Richard Rich: “Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world…but for Wales?”

A spokesman for Archbishop Paglia told LifeSiteNews that the prelate had no comment. 

“Thank you, we have noted this,” wrote Don Riccardo. “Archbishop Paglia has no comment." 

Since Weigel published his essay, it has come to light that eight faculty members will not be invited back to teach in the 2019/2020 school year. 

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Pro-life senators offer bill banning funding of embryonic stem cell research

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By Calvin Freiburger

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 31, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – On Tuesday, Republican Sens. Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi re-introduced legislation that would prohibit the federal government from spending tax dollars on embryo-destructive research and instead support the use of stem cells from ethical sources.

S.2308 is the latest version of Wicker’s Patients First Act, which directs the federal government to prioritize stem cell research funding “in terms of potential for near-term clinical benefit in human patients,” and forbids it from supporting research that involves the “creation of a human embryo for research purposes,” the “destruction of or discarding of, or risk of injury to, a living human embryo,” or the “use of any stem cell” obtained via such means.

The bill would effectively reverse an executive order by former President Barack Obama that authorized the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support embryonic stem cell research.

“We do not have to choose between promoting stem cell research and respecting life,” Wicker declared in a statement. Hyde-Smith added that “ethical science that respects the dignity of life is always the best science. Advances in stem cell research can be achieved without relying on the destruction of human embryos.” Other cosponsors so far include Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joni Ernst (R-IA) Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and James Lankford (R-OK).

Embryo-destructive research was originally rationalized on the grounds that embryonic stem cells are pluripotent, meaning they have the ability to become any type of tissue. But investment has been steadily declining over the years as science has learned how to induce pluripotency in stem cells from other sources.

In December, pro-life biochemist Dr. Tara Sander Lee testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, where she detailed how “discarded cord blood from labor and delivery is stored in tissue repositories, because it is a rich and plentiful source of stem cells for research, regenerative medicine, and transplantation,” so much so that it has been used to treat as many as 80 different diseases. 

She also noted that stem cells from placenta, amniotic fluid, and mothers' own bone marrow are showing “tremendous potential” for treating babies before birth. “Stem cells can be obtained from ethical sources...such as umbilical cord blood, bone marrow, and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF)-mobilized peripheral blood (MPB),” she testified.

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Murdered University of Mississippi student Ally Kostial Facebook
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Friends: Ole Miss student killed because she wouldn’t abort her baby

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

OXFORD, Mississippi, July 31, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Alexandria “Ally” Kostial was pregnant when she was murdered last week.  

Kostial was a business student at the University of Mississippi. Her college friends confirmed to the UK’s Daily Mail that the 21-year-old was pregnant with her accused killer’s child. 

The Daily Mail reported today that a fellow Ole Miss student told them: “Her sorority sisters knew she was pregnant and that she had told [accused killer] Brandon. He was really upset about it, that it would ruin his life and his future.”

“He was really mad that she wouldn't get an abortion. She was like, ‘No, I don't believe in that.’”

Another student alleged that Ally had been trying to induce a miscarriage, rather than have a surgical abortion.  

“She was really upset because she was pregnant, and she had been trying to [get rid of her child] through unhealthy ways, like going out, drinking a lot, and doing drugs. She was 17 weeks pregnant. She was not handling it well.”

“Brandon found out, but he was dating someone else,” the student continued. 

“He wanted her to get an abortion. I think morally she didn't want to do it.”

On July 20, 2019 the college student was found dead by Sardis Lake in LaFayette County, Mississippi, 20 miles from campus, by a police officer on patrol. Kostial had been shot multiple times. 

Two days later, 22-year-old Brandon Theesfeld of Fort Worth, Texas, also a business student at Ole Miss, was arrested and charged with her murder. 

Investigators have been tight-lipped about possible motives for Kostial’s murder, but it now appears that it could have been because she was allegedly pregnant with a baby fathered by Theesfeld and refused to have an abortion. 

Friends reported that Theesfeld and Kostial had had a tumultuous, “on-again, off-again” relationship, and one of the young man’s dorm mates told media that Theesfeld was a “daddy’s boy” who peppered his conversation with misogynist comments.  

Rex Ravita, an Ole Miss journalism student, told Fox News that he had found the young man “extremely rude and … privileged.”

“He had no respect for women,” Ravita added. “And somebody does something like this, they have to have no respect for women.” 

Ravita told CBS affiliate KMOV that Theesfeld had bragged about his father’s wealth and influence. 

“I’m not going to sugar coat it,” he said. “He was pretty much a daddy’s boy type, constantly had to reference his father’s money, how his dad could get him out of anything – just that attitude all the time. Any type of vulgar comment he could say, any type of rude comment to anybody in our dorm, any of the women.”

Dr. Daniel Theesfeld, Brandon’s father, has released a statement saying that his son is innocent of Kostial’s murder and has hired high-powered Mississippi lawyers to defend him. 

Kostial was laid to rest on Saturday in her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. 

The University of Mississippi has suspended Theesfeld. 

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Amazon Synod: Trading Christianity for paganism is a bad deal

William Kilpatrick
By William Kilpatrick

July 31, 2019 (Turning Point Project) — There's a funny scene in Oklahoma in which Curly sings a slyly mocking song about Jud Fry, the menacing hired hand. Curly assures Jud that though people dislike him now, they'll miss him when he's gone. To make the point, he imagines Jud's funeral and how people will lament his passing. And so the audience is treated to the hilarious "Poor Jud is Dead."

In the spoken part of the song, Curly conjures up the preacher's recollection of Jud's bigheartedness:

He loved the birds of the forest
And the beasts of the fields
He loved the mice and the vermin in the barn
And he treated the rats like equals

I was put in mind of the scene by something I had just read in — of all places — the working document for the Amazon Synod. Here's the relevant passage:

[They respect] the sisters birds, the brothers fish,
and even the smallest sisters like ants,
larvae, fungi, or insects. (20)

Call me insensitive, but I couldn't help but make the connection to poor Jud's love of vermin. This passage lacks the punch of Oscar Hammerstein's lyrics, but the sentiments are the same.

The only difference is that Curly is making fun of Jud's slovenly habits and brutish behavior, whereas the document's authors are completely serious. In a sense, treating "the rats like equals" and the ants like sisters is what the Amazon Synod is all about. Excuse me, make that the "Pan-Amazon Synod." That's "pan" as in pantheistic. Some critics say the document authors are trying to sneak in pantheistic and neo-pagan ideas under the guise of concern for the environment. But there's nothing terribly sneaky about it. There are so many clues that even Inspector Clouseau couldn't miss them.

Now it's true that pantheism has a certain appeal to the romantic spirit within us. Who has not felt a sense of communion with nature while walking through the leafy wood beside the babbling brook? As one grows older, however, a more practical view of nature sets in. Most people past middle age would prefer to spend their vacations in a four-star resort rather than camping out in the deep woods together with the ants and the larvae.

Apparently this is not the case with the aging theologians who wrote the hymn to nature otherwise known as "The Working Document." For them, the term "nature worshippers" can be applied in almost a literal sense. That's because when they look at the birds and the bugs it's not clear whether they see the hand of God, or God himself — er, itself.

The trouble with treating the rats like equals is that it lowers the dignity and specialness of man while doing nothing to improve the rats. Fortunately, there are still some grown-up theologians in Rome who have taken the time to point this out. Here's Cardinal Gerhard Müller on the subject:

Pantheism is not only a theory about God; it is also a form of contempt for man... It is absurd to pretend that God is not anthropocentric. Man is the center of Creation, and Jesus became man, he did not become a plant. This is a heresy against human dignity. On the contrary, the Church must emphasize anthropocentrism, because God created man in His image and likeness. The life of man is infinitely more worthy than the life of any animal.

The Amazonian attempt to merge Christianity with pantheism creates all sorts of theological problems. If the fish and the ants are our "brothers" and "sisters," does that mean the trout and the centipede are "sons" and "daughters" of God? Did Christ die for the larvae?

Do we really want to go there? It's one thing to take a walk in the woods and appreciate the beauties of nature. It's quite another to get caught up in the tangled eco-theology of German prelates who counsel us to "listen to the earth" — or, as she is often referred to in the document, "Mother Earth."

So now we are talking about Mother Earth? The last time I checked, our cutting-edge theologians wanted to make the Church relevant to the modern world. Now they want to make it relevant to the Ancient World — particularly the ancient, ancestor-rich, spirit-filled world of the Amazon. Thus the importance of "the transmission of ancestral experience, cosmologies, spiritualities, and theologies of the indigenous peoples…" (50)

And what does the "ancestral wisdom" teach us? Well, how about this:

Life in the Amazon is integrated and united with the territory; there is no separation or division between the parts... Everything is shared; private spaces, so typical of modernity, are minimal. Life proceeds on a communal path where tasks and responsibilities are shared for the sake of the common good. There is no place for the idea of an individual detached from the community or its territory. (24)

If you tend to look on the bright side of things, you might interpret that as a description of the early Christian communities. If you're inclined toward a darker view, it looks more like life in a Chinese communist commune. The second interpretation is buttressed by some observations made by Julio Loredo, an expert on liberation theology. He says that the "scheme" behind the Synod is "the introduction of so-called indigenist liberation theology... Now would be their time to propose it to the entire Church." "The Synod," he continues, "is being prepared and staffed by a well-organized network of indigenist associations and movements... All its members come from the folds of the Liberation Theology movement..."

If Loredo is right, we would be justified in worrying about statements such as: "There is no place for the idea of an individual detached from the community or its territory." Now, let's imagine a community meeting deep in the Amazon:

So, brother Juarez, your neighbors here tell me that you have been reading materials by the running dog dissidents, Sarah and Burke. Surely you must know that their thoughts are not in conformity with our community standards. Consequently, I have invited Comrade, er, brother Ping to visit us. He comes from our sister church, the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. He will accompany you from now on and help you to adjust your thoughts.

In the Christian vision, each individual is of infinite worth because he is made in the image of God. In fact, the whole idea of the value of the individual flows out of the Judeo-Christian tradition. In the communist vision, however, the worth of the individual is derived from his commune, and he has no value apart from it. The same is true of pantheism or, as the document authors call it, the "Amazonian cosmovision." If God is in everything and everything is equally God, there is no room for distinction or hierarchy or individuality. Ideally, one's personal identity becomes absorbed or dissolved into the cosmic whole. Moreover, once people believe that cows and bees are their equal, the herd mentality which is proper to animals begins to govern social life. Those who don't believe in a Creator who is above and distinct from his creation tend to create Soviet-style, hive-like societies.

Yet the syncretist Amazonian religion — a blend of Catholicism, socialism, and neo-paganism — is being proposed as the model for the whole Church.

Is the world ready for this? Well, there are certainly signs that it's ready for the socialist part.

A significant percent of the world's population already live in hive-like societies such as China and North Korea. And Church leaders seem to have no problem with such societies. Pope Francis seems quite willing to entrust the Catholic Church in China to the communist government. Moreover, Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, who was appointed by Francis as Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, has asserted that the Chinese are "the best implementers of the Church's social doctrine." In 2016, Sorondo invited socialist candidate Bernie Sanders to speak before the Academy because his views "are very analogous to that of the pope." To top it all off, the chief prelate in the German Catholic Church is a fellow named Marx. Admittedly, that's just a coincidence, but his ideas on economics do seem suspiciously like those of his namesake — and I don't mean Groucho.

Socialism has come into style not only in the Church, but in American society as well. One hundred percent of the current crop of Democratic presidential candidates embrace a laundry list of socialist programs, and at least half of all college students believe that socialism is the answer to their student debt, their credit card debt, and their inability to find a girlfriend. Even the capitalists are jumping on the socialist bandwagon. Most of the major social media companies now act as Soviet-style enforcers of "community" speech codes and groupthink. When Catholic author Danusha Goska recently posted a link on her Facebook page to an article about the persecution of Tommy Robinson in England, Facebook removed her post. Why? "Because it doesn't follow the Facebook Community Standards. We created our standards to help make Facebook a safe place for people to connect to the world around them."

It looks like half the world is already primed to accept the socialism part of the Amazon agenda. How about pantheism? Wouldn't that be a hard sell? Well, maybe not. Pantheism, after all, was the default religion of mankind before it was replaced by Christianity. And now that Christianity has gone out of style in many places, the way is open for pantheism to return. Pantheism is, in a sense, a natural religion. Like socialism, it provides an opportunity to mingle yourself with something larger than your self — the earth, for instance.

Pagan, pantheistic religions are also more sexually permissive than the Judeo-Christian sort. Part of their appeal to the modern mind is that they make fewer demands on one's conscience. Like a human mother, Mother Earth seems to be more indulgent than the rule-bound patriarchs. Part of the perennial interest in the primitive is that the primitive represents a more "earthy" existence. The French have a phrase for it: nostalgie de la boue — "longing for the mud." One example of this longing occurred in the late 1960s with the emergence of the Woodstock generation — a generation which took its name from a festival in upstate New York that took place in a muddy field.

Undoubtedly, when our neo-Woodstockian theologians speak of the richness of the Amazonian earth, they have a cleaner, better sort of mud in mind. Still, the more earthy religion they hope to create will probably succumb to the inherent problems in all nature-worshipping religions. As Chesterton observed of the Greeks, "they became unnatural by worshipping nature."

Although the prospect of a more relaxed, less sin-conscious form of Catholicism is appealing to many, it's actually a bad deal. It's like exchanging the tattered $10 bill in your pocket for a shiny new quarter. Consciousness of personal sin is not at the heart of Christianity, but it's close to it. Sin damages our relationship with God who takes a personal interest in each individual. However, the authors of the Amazon document seem more interested in societal sins — colonialism, sins against the environment, etc. — than in personal sins. Most likely, the average Catholic in the confessional has never done anything to exploit the Amazon; even if he is conscious of some indirect contribution to environmental damage, he instinctively knows that "Father, I have neglected my children and been unfaithful to my spouse" is a far more serious matter than "Father, I just bought 20 shares of Amalgamated Chainsaw and Bulldozing Corporation."

In shifting the locus of sin away from the individual and onto governments, corporations, and landowners, reformist theologians effectively remove the whole rationale for Christianity.

Christianity, in short, is about our personal relationship with God — how it was broken and how it was restored. Christianity asserts that God loves us as individuals. He is a father who loves all his children, but, as with a human parent, he loves them individually. Thus we are encouraged to pray to him as a father and present him with our individual concerns and requests. And we are assured that he listens to us.

By contrast, pantheism is an impersonal religion. It requires that we merge our individual selves into nature or into some sort of cosmic consciousness. Instead of the purification and perfection of self that Christianity offers, it looks forward to a dissolution of the self.

As I said, it's a bad bargain — an exchange of a personal religion for an impersonal one. You may pray all you like to Mother Earth, but you'll never get an answer. This puts me in mind of another song from another musical. In the film version of Paint Your Wagon, a young Clint Eastwood wanders through the woods singing:

I talk to the trees
But they don't listen to me
I talk to the stars
But they never hear me

Moreover:

The breeze hasn't time
To stop and hear what I say
I talk to them all in vain

In his laconic way, Clint says it all.

This article originally appeared in the July 23, 2019 edition of Crisis. It is published here with permission from the Turning Point Project.

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Showdown scene from the classic movie High Noon. sayvar44 / YouTube
Elizabeth A. Mitchell

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It’s High Noon for the Church. Who will stand and defend her?

Elizabeth A. Mitchell
By Elizabeth Mitchell

July 31, 2019 (The Catholic Thing) — In the 1952 classic Western High Noon, Will Kane, the marshal of Hadleyville, has a choice to make. The rule of law has unraveled, and Kane knows what he is up against. Outlaw Frank Miller and his gang are arriving on the noon train. So Kane visits the upstanding men of the town, asking them, one by one, to stand with him to defend their town. But no one will stand with him. They walk away and leave him, either through fear or the futile hope of keeping the peace or out of allegiance to Frank Miller himself.

When High Noon strikes, Marshal Kane faces the Miller gang alone.

In the Church today the Rule of Faith, together with the Rule of Law, the unchanging Tradition handed down from the Apostles, which is the guardian of the Truths of our Faith, has begun to unravel. As the highly anticipated October synod on the Amazon draws near, it is High Noon for the universal Church. High Noon is an appointed time. It is an appointed place. When High Noon strikes it is not an accident or an unfortunate misunderstanding. It is a well-anticipated event.

"Our time is characterized by an acute spiritual hunger of the Catholic faithful all over the world for a reaffirmation of those truths that are obfuscated, undermined, and denied by some of the most dangerous errors of our time," state Cardinals Raymond Burke and Janis Pujats, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, and a few other courageous churchmen in their Declaration of the Truths Relating to Some of the Most Common Errors in the Life of the Church of Our Time. The faithful "feel themselves abandoned and thus find themselves in a kind of existential periphery[.]" "A public declaration of the truths regarding these errors," therefore, "cannot admit of further deferral."

If the Truth is about to be unraveled on the Amazonian periphery, as all signs from the Instrumentum Laboris for the Amazonian synod indicate, the obfuscating outlaws must be faced down, as Cardinals Walter Brandmüller and Gerhard Ludwig Müller, as well as Bishop Schneider, have done in several important public declarations.

Every time the Truth is clearly proclaimed and forthrightly defended in the ecclesial Wild West, in fact, it is High Noon on the existential peripheries. The clarity of the Truth, stated unambiguously and unequivocally, proclaims the living and life-giving power of the mysteries of the Faith, the Rule of Faith, safeguarded and promoted by the Church's discipline, the Rule of Law.

The law, in its essence, demands the light of High Noon. The light disposes us to dispel the darkness and fear, and to call upon the help of God in our daily battle "against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12). "For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light." (Prov. 6:23)

Fr. Thomas Weinandy, O.F.M. Cap., gifted storyteller, and renowned theologian, recently told me about the way he and his childhood friends used to play at acting out the High Noon showdown:

Invariably in the midst of our play, the final 'scene' was a show-down in the street — it was a short dead-end street so there was little traffic. The good guy was compelled by his goodness, for what was right and just, to go out into the street and face the bad guy. He had no choice. The bad guy could not be allowed to win the day. So with gun belted at his side, the good guy left our make-believe saloon, swung open the saloon door, walked into the street and confronted the bad guy.

Yes, it was all make believe, but in that play I learned that the good guy, when High Noon strikes, cannot remain in the saloon sipping whiskey and playing poker, but is compelled — he has no choice — to step out into the street. In our play the good guy always won the showdown. In real life that is not always the case — but he is still the winner, for he had the courage to stand tall for what was good and right and just, and face down the evil at hand.

There is something simple and uncomplicated about High Noon. The marshal is compelled to step into the street. His duty and his office compel him. He has, as it were, no choice. High Noon is High Noon because the marshal shows up.

The showdown takes place in broad daylight, in the middle of the street, in full view of the entire town. But where are the good townspeople? Is the town deserted and abandoned as the marshal steps into the street? No. The entire town is watching the showdown. They are watching from behind their drawn parlor curtains. They watch and they wait.

The cardinals and bishops who wait and watch the doctrinal showdown at hand, interested to see who will draw first, might as well be sipping whiskey in the saloon, or peering out from behind red velvet curtains. The very Truths which they were deputized to defend, and their Bride, are at risk. And if they are unwilling to leave the poker table, it's the duty of remaining clergy and even the laity to step out into the street.

"Before the eyes of the Divine Judge and in his own conscience each bishop, priest, and lay faithful has the moral duty to give witness unambiguously to those truths which in our days are obfuscated, undermined, and denied," the Declaration urges.

High Noon demands men "with direct eyes" (in the words of T.S. Eliot's The Hollow Men) — clear-eyed individuals who know God and His unchanging Truth, who speak and act with clarity, men who step forth boldly in their duty. The marshal's "direct eyes" do not flinch. He answers the call of High Noon.

The moment the showdown is won in High Noon, the townspeople rush from their shuttered parlors and rejoice in the street, thanking the marshal for his bravery. He climbs onto his buggy, his bride at his side, and rides away without a single word.

He has done his duty. He has faced down Frank Miller and his gang. When High Noon strikes, the law is safeguarded by the marshal's clear stand for the good of all.

And it is High Noon because he shows up.

Published with permission from The Catholic Thing.

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Activist Mommy’s truly awesome idea to push back on ‘Drag Queen Story Hours’

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By Doug Mainwaring

PETITION: Tell U.S. libraries to stop pushing 'drag queens' on our kids! Sign the petition here.

July 31, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― Elizabeth Johnston, better known as “The Activist Mommy,” posted an outstanding idea that grassroots activists can use to turn the tables on Drag Queen Story Hours in their own neighborhoods. 

Perhaps a bit tongue-in-cheek, Johnston suggested on Facebook and Twitter that concerned parents should schedule story hours at their local libraries to hilariously combat Drag Queen Story Hours, which have been proliferating across the country.  

Johnston tossed out a few possibilities, all of which would most likely make most Drag Queen Story Hour promoters cringe:  

  • “Trans-regret Story Hour” 

  • “Bible Story Hour”

  • “How To Keep Children Safe From Pedophiles Story Hour” 

  • “Make America Great Again Story Hour”

She then offered a final bit of strategic advice: If your local library denies your application, then “sue the library for discrimination!” 

Johnston’s many Facebook followers loved the idea: 

“700,000 followers,” noted Tony Mendoza, referring to the number of those who follow The Activist Mommy on Facebook. “If we band together in each city, it would make a TREMENDOUS impact on this nonsense.”

“I follow you and know how many drag queen story hours we are fighting,” wrote Jan Diskin. “When I saw this post of yours urging us to start our own story hours, a light bulb went off over my head! I am going to contact my local library and set up my own story hour for children. I have always loved the author Max Lucado and the Christ-filled lessons he teaches, and hopefully I'll be able to read stories by him.”

“I am so excited to start this endeavor and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me the idea!” added Diskin.  

Someone who had already attempted the strategy wrote: “The libraries know what we are trying to do. I was officially denied again even after filling out the proper paperwork and meeting the library meeting room use requirements.” 

“Again, no reason, just a no and a refusal to deal with me anymore,” continued Mikki Dee Mackin. “Oh wait, I told them I wanted to read about American history that’s why!

Others suggested additional story hour ideas: “How about a ‘Make Libraries Safe for Children Again,’" wrote Anita Rush.

“Better yet, GOD's Natural Law Story Hour,” wrote Auzzia Beatman. “Makes sense, because the child is learning about JESUS. And what He has done for us on the cross and is still doing for us even to this day.”

Why parents need to fight back

Johnston’s proposal comes amid increasing reports from libraries across the country where drag queens, some of whom have criminal sexual pasts, including convicted pedophiles, are pushing the envelope with their "Story Hours." 

LifeSiteNews recently reported how young children were photographed having extreme physical contact with a drag queen in an Oregon public library. And a drag queen who read to young children at a library in Maryland was discovered to be involved with numerous lurid and pornographic sexual businesses and activities.

These are occurring while the massive American Library Association (ALA) is working to not only promote Drag Queen Story Hours (DQSH) but to teach librarians how to sneak these events into libraries in rural or conservative jurisdictions. 

The ALA’s recent national conference provided librarians from across the country with strategies for advancing gender identity ideology in schools and finding ways to bring DGSHs into public libraries despite the objections of local communities.

Not everyone likes Johnson’s idea

Of course, not everyone was thrilled with The Activist Mommy’s proposal. Johnston’s detractors couldn’t resist pitching their own ideas, many of which are too vile for LifeSiteNews to share. Michael Cade Hughes wrote: 

I support Atheist Story Hour, Don't Trust Pedophile Priests and Pastors Story Hour, Why "God" Hates Zealots Story Hour, as well as readings of 'Atheism For Kids', 'Older Than The Stars' and 'Grandmother Fish' - for starters.

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VIDEO: Are the end-times predicted in the Scriptures upon us?

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By John-Henry Westen

July 31, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Michael O’Brien is a Catholic novelist, writer, painter, and speaker. He is the author of the best-selling book Father Elijah: An Apocalypse, which has been translated into twelve languages. On this part 2 of a two-part episode of The John-Henry Westen Show, he talks with me about hell and the end-times, about having hope amid the chaos in the Church, and about the role Mary plays in salvation history.

An author of more than thirty books, O’Brien told me there is “no ambiguity” about the fact that souls end up in hell. “Jesus talked about” that, he said. “It is a heresy to say there is no eternal damnation.”

People are at different stages of consciousness in realizing that hell is real, he added. But God desires all men to be saved. Still, “he can’t force salvation on anyone.” They have to choose it.

O’Brien, a former non-believer, says he had a lot of pride before converting to Catholicism. He recommends that Catholics pray and fast for souls to come to Christ. He also said he gets hope amid the mass apostasy in the Church from the sacraments of confession and the Eucharist.

O’Brien currently serves as artist and writer in residence at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom college in Barry’s Bay, Canada. He told me that the repeated warnings from Mary, the mother of God, has been a continual call to penance. He also warned about the years ahead and the end-times.

"The Lord is coming," O'Brien said. "He will purify the Church. He will bring mercy and truth." "All of us will be tested...we will need hope in a way we haven't had until now."

The John-Henry Westen Show is available by video on the show’s YouTube channel, and right here on my LifeSite blog.

It is also available in audio format on platforms such as SpotifySoundcloud, and Pippa. We are awaiting approval for iTunes and Google Play as well. To subscribe for the audio version on various channels, visit the Pippa.io webpage here.

We’ve created a special email list for the show so that we can notify you every week when we post a new episode. Please sign up now by clicking here

You can also subscribe to the YouTube channel, and you’ll be notified by YouTube when there is new content.

You can send me feedback, or ideas for show topics by emailing [email protected]

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Ben Shapiro on abortion victim pictures: ‘If it’s that ugly, you should do something about it’

Jonathon Van Maren Jonathon Van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon Van Maren

July 31, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Ben Shapiro is arguably conservatism’s fastest rising star, with his wildly popular podcast, his campus speeches, and a New York Times bestseller keeping him at the top of the pundit pack. He’s also a consistently powerful voice for the pro-life position, debating students on abortion during his campus appearances, frequently visiting the topic on his podcast, and even doing a live-cast from the stage at the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. As a result, Shapiro has accrued many fans within the pro-life movement.

And so it might interest people that Shapiro has also weighed in on pro-life tactics—specifically, the use of abortion victim photography, which some pro-lifers still find controversial. When one student asked Shapiro during a campus event what he thought the best debate tactic against a pro-abortion person would be, Shapiro didn’t hesitate: “Show them a picture of a dead baby. End of story.” He recalled encountering a display of abortion victim photos at the 2012 Democratic Convention, noting that he saw guys walking around “wearing buttons that said, ‘I love pro-choice girls.’” Shapiro stopped and rolled his eyes: “I can’t imagine why.” The laughter of the students confirmed that they, too, knew why: Men who want to dodge responsibility are quite fond of girls who are willing to abort their offspring.

These pictures might be “uncouth,” Shapiro told the students, but “screw uncouth—they’re true. The fact is that people have a ‘You Ruined My Day Syndrome,’ which is that they don’t want to see things that are ugly in everyday life, and if you show them things that are ugly, they get upset. Well, you have to make people feel not morally superior for wanting to kill kids—and these are kids.” He’s right, of course. And nothing quite highlights the fact that abortion kills kids like a photograph of a child killed by abortion. If we are lawyers for the pre-born in the court of public opinion, we should be bringing forward the best evidence we have that abortion is barbarism.

Shapiro has described his experience with abortion victim photography more than once. “It’s truly incredible to me, the way we can blind ourselves to this,” he reflected on his podcast. “I remember when I was at the 2012 Democratic National Convention…and I walked past this exhibit–it was the anti-abortion crowd, the pro-life crowd–and they were out there with these pictures of aborted babies. And I walked past, and I thought what most people from big cities thought—I thought ‘Wow, how gauche.’ I mean, those are ugly pictures—should I really have to look at that in the public square? That’s really ugly. And then I realized that’s probably how people treated pictures of slavery back in the 1850s, that’s probably how people treated pictures of the Holocaust in the 1940s. The bottom line is that maybe if it’s that ugly, you should do something about it instead of whining about how ugly it is. It’s not a matter of personal choice. I have a stake in whether my neighbor gets murdered, and I have a stake in whether my neighbor’s baby gets murdered, too.”

That is precisely the point. Abortion victim photos are horrifying because abortion is horrifying, and people should think twice when the get more upset about a photo of an aborted baby than they do about the fact that the act of violence depicted in that photo takes place thousands of times every day. The photographic evidence of injustice is not pleasant to look at it, but it is essential that we as a society are consistently reminded that not everyone is accorded the same rights that we are, and that we should not rest until that horrifying inequity addressed. Real kids, as Shapiro put it, are being killed. Abortion victim photos draw our attention to that reality and demand that we respond to it. 

Jonathon’s new podcast, The Van Maren Show, is dedicated to telling the stories of the pro-life and pro-family movement. The latest episode features Dr. Judith Reisman, a research professor at Liberty University School of Law and Director of the Child Protection Institute. Dr. Reisman is a giant in the science and sexology community with many accolades and accomplishments, now exposing the fraudulent sex “research” work of Dr. Alfred Kinsey. For those unfamiliar, Dr. Kinsley’s science played a role in bringing the Sexual Revolution to America in modern LGBT laws and inflated LGBT propaganda statistics. In a way, it is responsible for the overall acceptance of the LGBT movement. You can read more about Dr. Kinsey by searching for him in the LifeSiteNews.com search bar.

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The awesome story of how this mom of 4 founded the largest pro-life group in N. Ireland

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By Jonathon Van Maren

This week’s episode of The Van Maren Show gives us a deep look into the pro-life movement in Northern Ireland as it stands right now, and what the possibilities are moving forward. Jonathon Van Maren has an amazing conversation with Bernadette Smyth, founder of the largest pro-life group in Northern Ireland, Precious Life. She also founded Youth for Life, which is a project of Precious Life, whose aim is to equip the next generation with the skills needed to keep abortion illegal in Northern Ireland. Smyth shares with listeners how she got into the pro-life movement and then dives deep into how she was able to start Precious Life over 23 years ago, and how she’s been able to sustain and grow this organization over the years. 


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