Family Research Council
Last week, President Donald Trump announced via Twitter his intent to bar transgender from people serving in the military — a move reportedly heavily influenced by the Family Research Council, a conservative evangelical lobbying organization. The Public Religion Research Institute reports that more than one in five Americans have a close friend or family member who is transgender and more than six in ten Americans say transgender people face a lot of discrimination in the country today. This snapshot captures the dynamics of the Trump era: the anxieties and reactionary measures of religious conservatives within a cultural and religious landscape that is dramatically shifting.
In Trump’s first nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, abortion foes were convinced they had the jurist who would fulfill Trump’s campaign promise to appoint justices who would deliver the reversal they have worked decades to achieve. But now, after last week’s hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, some are voicing concern that Gorsuch might not be such a reliable anti-Roe vote after all.
Conservative Christians in particular cheered [Trump's] nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and his promised “fix” for the Johnson Amendment, which restricts pastors' ability to politick in the pulpit.
But, for the second time since his inauguration, Trump has decided to retain an Obama-era initiative to protect sexual minorities.
The day before President Trump used his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast to promise a repeal of the Johnson Amendment, a bill was introduced in Congress to effectively do that. It has not yet been scheduled for debate or a vote.
The Free Speech Fairness Act is being touted as a “fix” to the Johnson Amendment, a 1954 law that prohibits nonprofits from engaging in politics. But how much of a fix would the act be? Would it offer a First Amendment right of free speech to clergy — or trample the same First Amendment’s guarantee of a separation between church and state?
President Donald Trump had promised last week evangelical Christians would “love” his nominee for the Supreme Court.
And in fact, said evangelical author and president of The KAIROS Company Johnnie Moore, a member of Trump’s evangelical advisory board, “Evangelicals are ecstatic.”
On Jan. 31, Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill the open seat on the Supreme Court left by the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia nearly a year ago.
Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, has come under fire for his friendship with Russian president Vladimir Putin – who is suspected of trying to tip the election to Trump – his lack of diplomatic experience, and the fact that he is a corporate bigwig who champions fossil fuels, even as the threat of global warming grows.
But Tillerson, whose nomination was announced on Dec. 13, may also face criticism from an unexpected quarter – social conservatives whose support was critical to Trump’s unexpected election last month.
The Duggars, the reality television family famous for its progeny (19 Kids and Counting) and its conservatism, are reeling now that oldest son, Josh, has been forced to acknowledge he was investigated for molesting underage girls when he was a teenager in Arkansas.
Josh Duggar apologized Thursday and abruptly resigned his job at the Family Research Council in Washington, one of the leading conservative groups fighting abortion and gay marriage among other causes.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush were not invited to a major gathering of social conservatives in Washington last weekend in what was viewed as a serious snub of two men considered prominent Republican presidential contenders for 2016.
“They were not invited this year because they just weren’t on the top of the list in terms of what they are doing right now and whether or not it was relevant to the values voters and who they want to hear from,” said Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council and chief organizer of the Values Voter Summit, which opened on Friday and ended Sept. 28.
“They shouldn’t take it the wrong way,” Perkins told David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network in an interview taped on Friday.
But in his report, Brody said the two men had been “snubbed” and that’s not good news for any presidential aspirations they may harbor.
The Values Voter Summit is the pre-eminent venue for GOP candidates who hope to showcase their bona fides to the crucial conservative Christian bloc, and Christie and Bush — the elder brother of former President George W. Bush — are seen as Republicans who could appeal to the center of the electorate but who have not won the hearts of social conservatives.
Pope Francis met Meriam Ibrahim, the Christian woman spared a death sentence for apostasy in Sudan, at the Vatican on Thursday after she was flown to Rome by the Italian government following a vigorous international campaign to free her.
Ibrahim, 27, was accompanied by her husband Daniel Wani and two young children when she met Francis for nearly half an hour at his Santa Marta residence.
The audience was arranged only hours after she disembarked at Rome’s Ciampino Airport with her family on an official Italian aircraft. She was smiling as she carried baby Maya, who was born just two months ago as Ibrahim was shackled in prison.
The pope thanked her for her courage and loyalty to her Christian faith despite facing threats of execution in an ordeal that lasted nearly a year.
The Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Francis wanted Thursday’s meeting to be a “gesture of support for all those who suffer for their faith, or living in situations of difficulty or restraint.”
What’s the next religious liberties faceoff? Some suggest it could be between LGBT workers and religious owners of private businesses.
But he has yet to sign an executive order version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban discrimination based on gender identity for all federal contractors and subcontractors, an order that affects for-profit businesses.
Now, in the wake of the Hobby Lobby ruling, such an order could rile the waters again, several legal experts say. They see a line between a ruling about contraception and hiring, firing, and benefit concerns for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees.
In a major victory for same-sex marriage rights, the Justice Department will soon grant married gay and lesbian couples the same rights in legal matters as other married couples.
The new policy announced by Attorney General Eric Holder on Saturday, in New York, marks the latest step by the Obama administration to extend rights to same-sex couples that are afforded to married, heterosexual couples.
“In every courthouse, in every proceeding and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States, they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections, and rights as opposite-sex marriages under federal law,” Holder said in prepared remarks to the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group that works on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equal rights.
As a law extending workplace protection to gay, bisexual, and transgender workers makes its way through the Senate this week, there’s a shift in the political air: Arguments that stand purely on religious grounds are no longer holding the same degree of political sway they once did.
The rhetoric from Republican and conservative opponents of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is moving away from the morality of the bedroom and into the business sphere. More politicians are fighting ENDA as a bad economic move, not as a break with the Bible.
ENDA would “increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs,” Speaker John A. Boehner said in a statement released Monday, which made clear the Senate bill is dead on arrival in the GOP-controlled House.
Conservatives are rallying around a House bill designed to protect religious people who advocate for traditional marriage — a belief, they say, that is held in increasing contempt.
But supporters of same-sex marriage say the bill actually protects the discriminators — individuals and nonprofits that would deny gay people benefits or services simply because they are married to a same-sex partner.
More than 60 House members — mostly (but not all) Republican — have signed on to the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, which was introduced Sept. 19 by Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, who came to Congress in 2010 on a wave of support from the conservative Tea Party.
Christian conservatives who think Satan is using communism and Islam to bring down America can add a new “adversary” to the list: the Emergent Church movement.
A portion of the upcoming Values Voter Summit in Washington will stray from its usual focus on politics and consider the Emergent Church as one of three “channels the adversary is using to bring America down.” Art Ally, president of The Timothy Plan, a Florida-based mutual fund company devoted to “biblically responsible investing,” will lead the breakout session.
“Why would Satan use Communism? It’s a godless form of government,” said Ally. “Why would Satan use Islam? Same reason. It’s not a religion. It’s a movement to dominate the world under the guise of religion. The Emergent Church plays right into that by weakening further our church community.”
Serving in the armed forces is one of the most honorable professions one can choose in our society. And putting one’s life on the line in defense of freedom is a sacrifice the rest of us can never repay.
That’s why it saddens us that these very freedoms are being undercut by forces seeking to infuse the military with a very specific version of Christian culture. Leaders from the religious right claim that the religious liberty rights of Christians are under assault in the military. This is simply not true, and the implication is an insult to people around the globe and here at home who truly do face persecution for their faith.
What is true is that military life is different than civilian life. A chain of command impacts every aspect of a service member’s life; because of that, safeguards must be in place to ensure that no member of the military is being coerced into religious practices unwillingly.
Republican lawmakers and conservative activists concerned that religious expression in the military is “under attack” are rallying behind a measure to provide greater protection for religious “actions and speech” in the armed forces.
The amendment, sponsored by Rep. John Fleming, R-La., would specify in the military spending bill that, “Except in cases of military necessity, the Armed Forces shall accommodate the beliefs, actions, and speech” of service members.
Previous spending bills protected the “beliefs” of service members and chaplains, but the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act would expand protections to include religious “actions and speech.”
The Supreme Court agreed Monday to consider whether prayers can be offered at government meetings — a practice that’s been common in Congress and throughout the states for more than two centuries.
The religious expression case, which comes to the court from the town of Greece, N.Y., focuses on the first 10 words of the First Amendment, ratified in 1791: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
That Establishment Clause was violated, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year, when the Greece Town Board repeatedly used Christian clergy to conduct prayers at the start of its public meetings. The decision created a rift with other appeals courts that have upheld prayer at public meetings, prompting the justices to step in.
Christian conservatives have grown increasingly alarmed in recent weeks over reports and rumors that the Pentagon is considering new policies aimed at discriminating against Christians and disciplining or even court-martialing those who share their faith.
But the Department of Defense on Thursday sought to debunk that speculation, saying that while aggressive proselytizing is barred, evangelization is still permitted and the rights of all believers – and non-believers – will be protected.
“The U.S. Department of Defense has never and will never single out a particular religious group for persecution or prosecution,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen said in a statement. “The Department makes reasonable accommodations for all religions and celebrates the religious diversity of our service members.”
They are moms and dads, authors and activists, a former police officer and a former single mom. They’re black and white and Hispanic. One’s a Roman Catholic archbishop, another an evangelical minister. Many have large families — including gay members.
They are among the leading opponents of gay marriage, or as they prefer to be called, defenders of traditional marriage. And they’re trying to stop an increasingly popular movement as it approaches two dates with history this week at the Supreme Court.
WASHINGTON -- A federal grand jury added terrorism to the list of charges faced by the Virginia man who was indicted in the shooting of a security guard at the conservative Family Research Council's Washington offices.
Floyd Lee Corkins II, 28, of Herndon, Va., was arrested Aug. 15, shortly after police say he opened fire in the lobby of the FRC's downtown headquarters, injuring an unarmed security guard.
Before he opened fire, Corkins reportedly was carrying a bag of Chick-fil-A sandwiches, and told security guard Leo Johnson he disagreed with the FRC's politics; the FRC had supported the fast-food chain's donations to groups that oppose same-sex marriage.
Corkins pleaded not guilty to initial charges of interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition, as well as the District of Columbia offenses of assault with intent to kill while armed and possession of a firearm during a crime of violence.