Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

New France president’s first deeds: get ready for more secularism and gay ‘marriage’

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

PARIS, France, May 18, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Dismantling of the family, attacks against parental rights and times of trouble for faith-based, mainly Catholic schools are looming large in French politics since France’s new socialist president, François Hollande, took over office from Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday morning at the Elysée, in Paris.

Government nominations, as well as Hollande’s inaugural speeches, are making it clear that ideological choices have been made and can be expected to be implemented in the near future. The discussion of a law instituting gay “marriage” has been announced for the Fall by the new Family minister – that is, if the French legislative elections in June vote in a socialist majority, which is considered likely.

Hollande’s first public act after the official investiture ceremonies at the Elysée Palace in Paris, on Tuesday, was to drive over to the nearby Tuileries gardens to pay tribute to the founder of the French state school system, Jules Ferry, whose monument was erected there in 1910 by the secularist “Ligue de l’enseignement” (League of Education).

The timing and the symbolism of this first presidential act was seen as a clear indicator that Hollande aims to intensify the role of the state in education and to step up control over what remains of the private school sector.

The new president’s speech front of former education ministers – exclusively of the socialist variety – teachers and dozens of children, used military phraseology to make his point. “School is the weapon of justice. It is the weapon of republican equality,” he said. A weapon to force “equality”, or to put it more clearly, egalitarianism.

School, as François Hollande sees it, is “the locus of equality.” “Equality of opportunity,” according to the new socialist president, means equality that “knows no other measure of distinction than personal merit and effort, since birth, fortune and chance establish hierarchies which schools have the mission, if not the duty, to correct, and even to destroy.”

Interesting omissions and changes to the written speech were made by François Hollande in his spoken delivery at this point. He left out the word “talents” as a legitimate measure of distinction and changed the phrase saying that the mission of schools regarding these hierarchies is “if not to abolish, at least to correct” them, choosing the much more aggressive formula quoted above.

This agenda, to be implemented in a country where large sections of the poorer suburbs of many major cities are mainly populated by ethnic minorities, many of them Muslim, has already shown its limits: the level of general culture of most school-leavers has gone steadily down over the past decades in a system where exactly the same curriculum is supposed to apply to all pupils up to age 14 or 15. In state schools leftist teachers’ organizations and progressive pedagogues have had the upper hand since 1968. François Hollande clearly intends to enhance their power and to dismantle the few concessions made to parental rights by the Sarkozy administration, which gave families a bit more freedom to choose a state school for their children and stepped up financial aids to private, state-funded schools.

Secularism is also a master word for schools according to Hollande. He sees schools as the “locus of emancipation”: emancipation from traditions and “dogma” in view of the “sovereign liberty of the spirit,” of reason left to itself. And also of reason destroyed: in state-funded French schools, be they public or private, whole reading methods and other pedagogical aberrations are effectively preventing a large percentage of French children from learning to read and think independently.

This is a far cry from the school of Jules Ferry, which formed minds and intelligences effectively, albeit in open conflict with religious beliefs.

Jules Ferry himself was remembered by François Hollande for two laws: the one which instituted cost-free primary schooling for all in 1881, and the law which in 1882 made schools secular and compulsory. At the time these laws were accompanied with persecution of faith-based schools and Catholic teaching congregations, many religious being expelled from the country or driven into exile.

Over the years, elements of freedom were returned to parents and nowadays 20% of pupils go to private, mostly Catholic schools where state curricula are obligatory, and teachers are formed and paid by the State. Only a fraction of schools are completely independent, receiving no direct public funds but entitled to issue tax refund forms for donations. These tax refunds are at risk of being suppressed under Hollande’s period of office.

The French Republic has long seen secularist state education as a means to counter the influence of families and faith. Hollande’s first speech on the matter, from which the words “parental rights” and “liberty” were totally absent, has made it clear that securalism is back with a vengeance.

As regards families, the naming of Mrs Dominique Bertinotti, a close friend of François Hollande’s ex-partner Ségolène Royal, as delegate minister to the Family, is seen as an insult to its defenders. Wednesday morning, hours before taking up her new office, she committed herself during an interview with the nationwide news radio “France-Info” to reduce tax relief associated with the number of children for richer families – less tax is owed when more persons form the “fiscal home” – in order to increase social aid to poorer families at the beginning of the school years. This would break with the French tradition of compensating a fraction of the extra charge children bring with them, whatever the social status of their family.

Bertinotti immediately promised to work on legalization of homosexual “marriage” and homosexual adoption and to “redefine” the meaning of the word family which should include, she says, not only the “classic” type but also “recomposed, single-parent and homoparental families,” so that they can obtain “exactly the same rights and be seen the same way by society, whatever their way of life.”

Mrs Bertinotti also intends to step up availability of public childcare systems, and to increase the number of 3, and even 2 year-olds in State schools.

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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

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By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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