Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

University motion orders pro-life groups to invite pro-abort speakers, declares campus ‘pro-choice’

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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LONDON, January 31, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The students’ union of University College London has passed a motion this week officially making the campus “pro-choice.” The motion also dictates that campus groups, including the chaplaincies, must invite pro-abortion speakers to their events in equal numbers to pro-life speakers when addressing “terminations.”

The motion, to “support a student’s right to choose – UCLU should be pro-choice,” was passed on January 26th by 2,002 votes to 818. It formally affiliates students, whether pro-life or not, with a professional abortion lobby organization, Abortion Rights.

The motion assures pro-life students that the Union will not attempt to force or pressure pro-life students to have abortions: “An official pro-choice policy would not prevent students who disagree with termination on ethical or religious grounds from exercising their right not to seek a termination.”

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Kajtek Skowronski, a second year medical student at UCL, told LifeSiteNews.com the motion’s passage means the Union has effectively shut down pro-life opinions being disseminated on campus, a clear violation of freedom of expression.

The motion was proposed in response to a lecture in October, sponsored by the campus Catholic Society, titled “Abortion: The Contemporary Taboo,” featuring a talk by Lord David Alton. The meeting was followed by a lengthy question and discussion period during which students voiced varying opinions and ideas on abortion.

Skowronski commented that this free ranging exchange of ideas and opinions was “not acceptable” to some of those present, specifically the UCL Women’s Network who complained to the students’ union and proposed a campus-wide vote on a motion banning such events in the future.

One of the propositions in the motion states, “This Union believes: That both men and women have the right to exercise complete control over their own bodies and this includes the right to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy or not.”

Skowronski called the motion “patronising,” and an “offence to the intelligence of students,” pointing out that the university boasts 24,000 students from many different countries, with different cultures and religious beliefs. “Making such a strong ethical statement on behalf of those people is ridiculous,” he said.

The motion requires pro-life groups to inform the Union in advance of events “so that pro-choice campaigns have the opportunity to campaign at the same time with an equal budget and an equal amount of advertising space and vice versa.” All future open events, the motion states, must invite both an “anti-choice” and pro-choice” speaker “to ensure there is a balance to the argument.”

Skowronski said that this effectively prevents any club or campus society from identifying itself as exclusively pro-life and that such groups are prevented from “expressing their beliefs on campus.”

“To impose so-called ‘balance’ upon people’s deeply held beliefs is insulting, and a restriction of freedom of speech,” he said.

“Limiting the freedom of societies to express pro-life views is an insult to what University stands for: the exploration of new ideas and freedom of speech,” he added.

Neil Addison, an author, lawyer and expert on religious discrimination law, said that the motion is “completely illegal” under The Education Act 1986, and under Articles 9, 10, and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

“The Student Union has no right to dictate what speakers are invited by student organizations.

“Also the resolution assumes that everyone involved in this debate can be easily categorized as ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice’ which is a simplistic analysis. What right does the Student Union have to decide which category a speaker should be classified under?”

The students who passed this motion, Addison said, have adopted an essentially totalitarian and intolerant stance “unworthy of an Academic Institution.

“Hitler and Stalin would be proud of them.”

Ironically, at the same time, the UCLU passed another motion on an unrelated topic, stating that for the Union to take sides “in complex on-going international issues is beyond its remit.” Doing so, the second motion said, “inevitably alienates certain student groups on campus, which goes against its core objectives and values.”

UCL is “a modern, outward-looking institution, committed to engaging with the major issues of our times… with a global reach and global vision.”

The second motion, addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and passed by a vote of 1337 to 1005, stated, “UCLU’s function is to ensure that the diversity of its Membership is recognised and that equal access is available to all Members of whatever origin or orientation.”

The second motion held that having the Union frame the debate on campus by taking a partisan position, would result in “stifling genuine debate.” Instead of taking sides on the conflict, “the Union should facilitate genuine public discussion [on] campus”.

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

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