Ben Johnson

Howard Phillips, “a good man who devoted his life to fighting the good fight,” dead at 72

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
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VIENNA, VA, April 24, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Howard Phillips, whose pro-life activism in the 1970s led to the formation of the modern Christian conservative movement, passed away at his home Saturday at the age of 72. He died of Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) and Alzheimers Disease, according to family.

In addition to running for president three times, Phillips founded a new brand of conservatism that motivated values voters to put social issues – especially abortion – first in their voting patterns.

He helped create numerous pro-life and pro-family organizations, headed a major federal agency during the Nixon administration, and testified against two Republican Supreme Court nominees that he accurately predicted would favor abortion-on-demand.

“The overarching moral issue in the political life of the United States in the last third of the 20th Century is, in my opinion, the question of abortion,” he told then-Senator Joe Biden during the confirmation hearings of David Souter.

“Howard Phillips, a friend of half a century, was a conviction politician,” Pat Buchanan told LifeSiteNews.com. “He stood up for his beliefs, he stood by those beliefs, and he did not hesitate to go down to defeat if necessary for those beliefs. High among them was his unshakable belief in the inviolate right to life of the unborn.”

“Howard was a good man who devoted his life to fighting the good fight,” he told LifeSiteNews.

Phillips campaigned for Ronald Reagan but testified before the U.S. Senate against his first Supreme Court nominee, Sandra Day O'Connor. Her record in the Arizona state senate and as a judge proved she would favor abortion, he said.

A few years later, Phillips showed remarkable prescience as the only witness to testify against David Souter from a pro-life perspective. He was troubled by Souter's law school thesis, and by the fact that two New Hampshire hospitals opted to perform abortion-on-demand while Souter was a trustee. Phillips said, “One must conclude that either Mr. Souter accepts the view that the life of the unborn child is of less value than the convenience and profit of those who collaborate in the killing of that child, or that...he lacked the moral courage or discernment to help prevent the destruction of so many innocent human lives.” (You can watch the video here.) 

Both Souter and O'Connor would affirm Roe in the 1992 Casey v. Planned Parenthood decision.

In a 2005 interview with LifeSiteNews, Howard Phillips analyzed that Chief Justice John Roberts “knows what the Constitution stipulates, but I think that for the sake of his career he will often set it aside in favor of what he believes is a more pragmatic course of action.” Conservatives accused Roberts of seeking mainstream approval in switching his decision on ObamaCare.

Phillips participated in the founding of Young Americans for Freedom, Concerned Women for America (CWA), the American Life League (ALL), and the influential Council for National Policy (CNP). In 1979, he and a group of conservative activists met with a dynamic preacher in Lynchburg, Virginia, and encourged him to bring evangelicals into the political arena. The United States, he told Jerry Falwell, still had a “moral majority.” With his impetus, the face of the Republican Party changed.

Phillips' insight came from years of study.

“Howie,” as friends called him, was born on February 3, 1941, in Boston. The grandson of Jewish immigrants attended Boston Latin School and Harvard College. He became a top youth volunteer for Richard Nixon in 1960 and then the leader of Boston's Republican Party as he devoted his life to doggedly climbing the political ladder.

In 1968, he was campaign manager of the successful U.S. Senate race of Richard Schweicker, a liberal Republican with whom he differed profoundly. GOP aides asked him to run a hopeless race for Congress in Massachusetts against Democrat Michael Harrington as a political favor. (He lost 59 percent to 37 percent.) That put him on the radar of the Nixon administration.

The president named him director of the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) in January 1973 with a promise to close the agency. Phillips called his time at OEO “the most important experience of my life...I really surrendered conventional ambition.”

He discovered the agency gave taxpayer dollars to anti-American radical organizations. Attending one such demonstration, he watched in shock as a black militant grant recipient led a crowd in chanting “F--- America!”

The administration, Phillips said, hoped the funding would convince left-wing groups to vote Republican.

“What I saw seemed to me to be so evil that it didn't matter what happened to me personally,” he said. “I was so outraged at what I saw that I just had to fight it, and basically give up any hope of conventional political success.”

He had heavyweight opposition and received insufficient help from his sometime-patrons, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

“He had a real kind of intellectual conversion of sorts during his service in the Nixon administration,” his youngest son, Sam Phillips, told LifeSiteNews.com. “He saw that Republicans were really just interested in maintaining power and not really advancing and sticking to principles. He left that.”

He went through another conversion, as well. He converted to Christianity.

Tied down by the exploding Watergate scandal, President Nixon reneged on his promise to close the agency. Phillips resigned.

In 1974, he founded The Conservative Caucus (TCC). Within six years, he had more than 300,000 members and had held rallies in all 435 Congressional districts.

Phillips became a founding father of The New Right along with such likeminded activists as Richard Viguerie, Paul Weyrich, Ed Feulner, and Morton Blackwell. Unwilling to back pro-choice Republican Gerald Ford, he briefly helped Viguerie seek the presidential nomination of the American Independent Party (AIP), the vehicle created by George Wallace. (They deserted the party when its nomination instead went to Lester Maddox.)

In 1978, Howard sought the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in his native Massachusetts, aiming to topple two-term liberal Republican Edward Brooke. He crossed party lines, because he believed only a Democrat stood a chance at winning statewide election. He came in fourth behind eventual winner Paul Tsongas. Both would seek the presidency in 1992.

One of TCC's organizers proved to have better luck the same year. Gordon Humphrey won his U.S. Senate race in neighboring New Hampshire, holding the seat until 1990.

It was in promoting moral values and founding pro-family groups that Howard would find his greatest success. With Phyllis Schlafly, he created the grassroots movement that stopped the surging Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). He drove U.S. opposition to the Panama Canal treaty, a position held by future president Ronald Reagan.

Phillips was one of a select group of leaders present when Reagan announced he had chosen George H. W. Bush as his vice presidential running mate in 1980. Phillips had lobbied for the more conservative Senator Paul Laxalt of Nevada. It would not be the first battle he lost against his friend.

TCC had blocked the adoption of the SALT II Treaty signed by Jimmy Carter. Reagan campaigned against it – but abided by its terms as president. Phillips sued to force Reagan to stop observing the treaty, losing in court. Another treaty would prove his undoing with many of his colleagues.

His moment of combustion came during 1987's signing of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) arms reduction treaty. During a press conference, he called President Reagan “a useful idiot for Soviet propaganda.” The term, coined by Lenin, was perceived as a personal insult. Howard dug in his heels and was largely left in the cold by the Republican Party.

“He certainly had great respect for Reagan, but there's a problem when we begin to treat our poltiical associations as if they are our religious affiliation,” Sam Phillips said. “He would side with whomever he believed was right on an issue.”

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The abandonment seemed to hurt Sam more than his father. “Dad wouldn't be frustrated, but he would just kind of shrug it off,” he said. “He always had a spirit of gratitude, and he was very thankful. That was from his Christian faith.”

In time, the Soviet Union he so long opposed would collapse. “Two decades ago, in the final hours of the USSR, a small group of us under Howard's leadership traveled through Poland and the Baltic republics in one of the unforgettable trips of my life,” Buchanan told LifeSiteNews.

As Eastern Europe moved to the Right, Phillips saw the GOP under Bush-41 moving to the Left. He founded the U.S. Taxpayers Party in 1992; in 1999 it was renamed the Constitution Party. He offered its nomination three times to Buchanan, who declined. Ron Paul, then between Congressional stints, addressed its founding convention.

Over the years former Arizona Governor Evan Mecham, Senator Bob Smith, and Ambassador Alan Keyes would express interest in the nomination. But Howard served as the party's standard bearer in 1992, 1996, and 2000.

He believed the GOP would fall apart over its refusal to oppose abortion and homosexuality, and he wanted his party to be positioned to take its place. In 2010, it did precisely that on a state level, as former Congressman Tom Tancredo became its candidate for governor of Colorado, earning three-times as many votes as the Republican nominee.

He also maintained a close affiliation with Christian Reconstructionist R.J. Rushdoony, a firm believer in a theocratic government, calling him “my wise counselor.”

When asked by one of Rushdoony's disciples to name the best decision he ever made, Phillips replied, “That's easy – choosing my wife and the mother of my children.”

Phillips retired from TCC in late 2011 when his affliction became apparent. Family members say his sharp wit allowed the symptoms to go unnoticed for a long period of time.

Howard Phillips died at his home in Vienna, Virginia, on Saturday. Family members call his repose “peaceful.”

The New York Times' obituary called him a “stalwart conservative.” Texas Congressman Steve Stockman remembered fondly, “Over the years, Howard stood firm to conservative principles when it was often easier to compromise with establishment RINOs.” Feulner, who founded the Heritage Foundation, said some of Howard's principles “were a bit quirky, but Howie always believed and always led.”

“All who love freedom under God’s laws are deeply in your debt,” Richard Viguerie wrote in a touching tribute. “Rest in Peace, my friend.” Media Research Center founder L. Brent Bozell III wrote, “Most conservatives wouldn't be here but for men like Howard Phillips. They are his legacy.”

But his son Sam respectfully disagrees. “His children were his legacy,” he said.

Howard is survived by his wife Margaret (“Peggy” née Blanchard), six children, 18 grandchildren, and his sister, Susan Phillips Bari.

His children include Brad Phillips of the Persecution Project Foundation; Doug Phillips of Vision Forum; Elizabeth Lants (who goes by Amanda); Jennifer; soprano opera singer Alessandra Rossi-Filippi; and Samuel Joshua Phillips.

Visitation is scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday at Money and King Funeral Home in Vienna. His funeral service will be held next Monday at The Smith Center of McLean Bible Church. Pastor Chuck Baldwin, the 2008 Constitution Party presidential candidate, will deliver the eulogy.

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Dr. Miriam Grossman speaks to large audience in Mississauga, Ontario Steve Jalsevac/LifeSite
Lianne Laurence

VIDEO: How DO you to talk to kids about sex? US sex-ed critic gives practical tips

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

MISSISSAUGA, ON, August 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Talking to their children about sex is “anxiety provoking to say the least,” for parents, says American sex-ed expert, Dr. Miriam Grossman.

“Some people just can’t even do it, and that’s okay,” the New York-based psychiatrist told the crowd of 1,000 who packed a Mississauga conference hall August 18 to hear her critique of the Ontario Liberal government’s controversial sex-ed curriculum.

After Grossman explained how the Liberal sex-ed curriculum is dangerously flawed and ideologically driven, she used the question-and-answer session to give parents much appreciated and sometimes humorous practical advice on how to teach their children about “the birds and the bees.”

“If you feel you can’t do it, maybe there’s someone else in the family or in the constellation of people that you know you can trust that could do it,” said Grossman, author of “You’re teaching my child WHAT?” and an internationally sought-after speaker on sex education.

A child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist with 12 years’ clinical experience treating students at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) clinic, Grossman said explaining sexuality and procreation to children is “a process,” that “shouldn’t ideally happen all at once. A child is not a miniature adult, and absorbs…new information differently than adults do.”

And parents need to be sure just what their child wants to know.

To illustrate this, Grossman referred to her earlier story about a father who gave his son every detail on human procreation after the boy asked him, “Dad, where do I come from?”

After the father finished, his son replied, “Well, that’s funny, because Johnny told me that he came from Montreal.”

“Try to find out what your child is really getting at, and, don’t give it all at once,” Grossman said. “You start with a little bit at a time…and you know, there’s so many variables here, and people have their own traditions and their own ways of explaining things, and something that might be right for my family might not be right for your family.”

She also advised that, when confronted with a four, five, six or seven-year-old asking about a pregnant woman, or where babies come, a parent can ask, “What a good question that is. What do you think?”

And parents can also legitimately put off the discussion when appropriate, telling the child, “That’s really not something you need to know about right now.”

“Wow, what a novel idea: Telling a child that they could wait until they’re older to discuss that subject,” Grossman said, adding that parents wouldn’t brook a six- or even fifteen-year-old child asking how much money they made or had in the bank. “Excuse me? Not every subject has to be an open book.”

However, the time will come when a child needs to know “about how her body’s going to change, about reproduction, about how a new life is created.”

That time, Grossman advised, is puberty, or “as puberty is beginning,” and this is especially so for girls, who, if unprepared for the surprise onset of menstruation “might think [they’re] dying.”

“The actual nitty-gritty about the birds and the bees and intercourse” can “be told in bits and pieces, or it can be told all at once, if you feel it’s necessary,” she said, adding that it’s beneficial if the parent acknowledges his or her awkwardness, because the child will think: “This must be such an important subject that my mother or my father is sitting there squirming, but he’s doing it anyway. I’m really loved.”

“And the children need to understand that as you grow up, you change a lot, not only physically but emotionally,” Grossman said, “and what may seem odd or disgusting when you’re ten years old, or whatever age, it becomes something very special and beautiful when you’re older and you’ll understand it later. You don’t have to understand it now.”


Know your child and guard your home

But as an essential foundation for this discussion, parents must both know their children and guard their home from the encroachments of a culture that Grossman described as “very, very sexualized” and “really horrible.”

“Children need parents who are loving but are also firm and authoritative,” she asserted.  “They don’t need best friends. They need us to guide them, to know what they’re doing, to be on top of what they’re doing.

So parents need to be aware of whom their child is “hanging around with, and what kind of movies are they watching…what’s going on with your child.”

“You need to know that anyway, even if it’s not about sex education,” she pointed out. “Try and know your child. Every child is different.”

And Grossman emphasized that it is “extremely important to be careful about what your child is exposed to in the home, in terms of television and Internet, obviously.”

Children need to understand that “just like you have garbage you take out of the house, you put it in the garbage bin, it’s dirty, it smells…there are other things that also don’t belong in the house.”

And children learn quickly what is, and is not, permissible inside the home, Grossman said. “Me, I keep kosher…If I go into a store, my kids know from a very young age, we don’t eat that.”

So they are used to the idea of “the world outside and the inside world, of inside your home, and inside your heart as well.”

Parents can also convey this by telling their children that “the world is an upside-down place, and sometimes the most special, holy subjects are…just thrown in the gutter. And that’s a bad thing. In our family, in our tradition, we don’t do that.”

“Sexuality is one of the subjects that in this upside-down world, it is sometimes just in the gutter,” she said. “And so I want you to tell your child to come to me when you have questions, I will give you the straight story about it.”

Grossman herself is “not even sure,” as she stated in her seminar, that sex education should be in the schools: “I believe sex education should be at home for those parents that want to do it.”

She also noted that parents “can make mistakes. We all make lots of mistakes but it’s okay, you can always come back and do it differently,” adding that this is “another wonderful message for your child. You know what, it’s okay to make mistakes, you can always go back and try and fix it.”

Grossman urged parents to visit her Facebook page, website and blog. “I have so much information you can get there that you’ll find useful,” and added that she will be publishing books for children, and has posted her critique of New York City’s sex-ed curriculum, which is similar to Ontario’s.

The parental backlash to that sex-ed curriculum, set to roll out in the province’s publicly funded schools this September, has been “amazing” Grossman noted.

Grossman’s seminar was sponsored by Mississauga-based HOWA Voice of Change along with the Canadian Families Alliance, an umbrella group representing more than 25 associations and 200,000 Ontarians opposed to the curriculum. The report on her devastating critique of the sex-ed curriculum can be found here, and the video here.

Ontario readers may find information and sign up for a September 2 province-wide protests at MPPs offices here. So far, there are protests planned for 92 of Ontario’s 107 constituencies. The parents’ movement seeking removal of the curriculum is urging all concerned citizens to join this special effort to influence individual Ontario legislators.

See related reports:

Ontario’s dangerous sex-ed is indoctrination not science says U.S. psychiatrist to large audience

Videos: US psychiatrist tells parents “stand firm” against dangerous sex-ed

See the LifeSiteNews feature page on the Ontario sex-ed curriculum containing nearly 100 LifeSite articles related to the issue

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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Did the pope just endorse a gay children’s book? Of course not, says Vatican

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
By Pete Baklinski

ROME, August 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- While mainstream media is gushing with news today that Pope Francis allegedly praised a children’s book that promotes gender theory, the Vatican is decrying what they called the "manipulation" of a cordial letter from an official in the Secretariat of State to suggest that the Vatican is promoting teachings contrary to the Gospel.

Italian children’s author Francesca Pardi was reported by The Guardian to have submitted a parcel of children’s books promoting the acceptance of homosexuality and gender theory to Pope Francis in June after Venice’s mayor Luigi Brugnaro publicly banned the author’s newest book, Piccolo Uovo (Little Egg), from children’s schools. The book was criticized by pro-family leaders for promoting non-natural family structures of two men and two women.

In a letter accompanying the books, Pardi wrote: “Many parishes across the country are in this period sullying our name and telling falsehoods about our work which deeply offends us. We have respect for Catholics. ... A lot of Catholics give back the same respect, why can’t we have the whole hierarchy of the church behind us?”

The Guardian is reporting that Pardi has now “found an unlikely supporter in Pope Francis,” who through his staff has responded to the author and is presented as “praising her work.” It quotes the following from a July 9 letter to Pardi from the Vatican.

“His holiness is grateful for the thoughtful gesture and for the feelings which it evoked, hoping for an always more fruitful activity in the service of young generations and the spread of genuine human and Christian values,” wrote Peter B. Wells, a senior official at the Vatican Secretariat of State, in a the letter The Guardian is reporting it has seen.  

While the letter gently calls the author to use her talents to spread “genuine human and Christian values,” The Guardian takes it as the pope’s endorsement of gender theory.

“Pope Francis sends letter praising gay children's book,” the paper’s headline states. “Italian book that explores different family types including same sex was banned by mayor of Venice, but pontiff becomes unlikely supporter,” reads the subtitle.

In a press release that Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi sent to LifeSiteNews on Friday, the vice speaker of the Vatican, Ciro Benedettini, made clear that the friendly reply letter to the author in no way approves of attitudes or positions that are contrary to Catholic teaching and the Gospels.

The Vatican's statement also says that in the original letter from the secretariat of state Wells merely "acknowledged receipt" of the materials sent by Pardi, and also made clear that the letter was private and not meant for publication. 

"In no way does a letter from the Secretary of State intend to endorse behaviors and teachings not in keeping with the Gospel," says the statement, decrying the "manipulation" of the letter.

Benedettini said the blessing of the pope at the end of the letter was meant to be for the author herself, and not to affirm positions concerning gender theory that are contrary to the Church's teaching. Using the letter to this end is erroneous, he said.

Pope Francis has strongly condemned the notion of “gender theory” on numerous occasions, saying that it is an “error of the human mind that leads to so much confusion.”

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Poll suggests most US Catholics wrongly believe Pope Francis backs gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

August 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- A considerable majority of U.S. Catholics are in conflict with Church teaching on abortion and marriage, a new study says, and a startling number of those also believe Pope Francis backs homosexual “marriage.”

Despite Church teachings, Catholics in America also closely parallel the general populace in their support for abortion and homosexual “marriage,” falling short in the Biblical call to be “in the world but not of the world.”

The findings suggest what many Catholics have said is a climate of confusion in the midst of the Francis pontificate. Concerns over that confusion prompted a coalition of pro-family groups to respond with an international petition effort asking the pope to reaffirm Church teaching, drawing more than a half-million signatures.

The survey, conducted by Public Religions Research Institute, found that 60 percent of all U.S. Catholics favor legalized homosexual “marriage,” compared to 55 percent of all Americans. Likewise, 51 percent of Catholics think that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, with 53 percent of the general population holding this view.

The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is a sacramental union between one man and one woman, mirroring Christ and the Church respectively as bridegroom and bride.

The Church also teaches that life begins at conception, that each human life possesses dignity as a child of God and is to be afforded protection, making abortion an intrinsic evil.

Catholics, accounting for 22 percent of adults in the U.S. population, have a favorable view of Pope Francis, the study said, but they are very confused about his take on homosexual “marriage.”

Of the Catholics who back homosexual “marriage,” 49-percent also think the leader of the Catholic Church backs it along with them. Fifteen percent of those Catholics who oppose homosexual “marriage” also mistakenly believe Pope Francis supports it.

Pope Francis has made numerous statements in support of life, marriage and family, but the confusion remains.

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"After Ireland and the U.S. Supreme Court both approved same-sex 'marriage,' a strong reaffirmation of Church teaching could save the sacred institution of marriage, strengthen the family and dispel the lies of the homosexual revolution," TFP Student Action Director John Ritchie stated.  "Young Catholics -- even non-Catholics -- look to the Church as a beacon of morality and stability in our Godless culture, but some of our shepherds have issued confusing statements."

TFP Student Action is a part of the lay Catholic organization American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, and is part of the alliance behind the Filial Appeal, the petition asking the Holy Father to reinforce Catholic teaching at the Vatican’s upcoming Synod on the Family in October.

Ritchie explained how the confusion was aiding the Church’s enemies, and warned of the potential consequences.

"This prayerful petition asks Pope Francis to clear up the moral confusion that's been spreading against Natural and Divine Law," he said. "If the enemies of the family continue to chip away at holy matrimony, the future of the family and civilization itself will be in even more serious peril."

At press time more than 500,000 signature had been gathered for the appeal, including five cardinals, 117 bishops and hundreds of well-known civic leaders.

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