President Trump Fulfills His Promise to Protect and Promote Religious Freedom

The Trump administration announced last Friday that employers who offer health insurance would no longer be required to provide their employees with contraceptive coverage through the Obama-era mandate popularly known as the Affordable Care Act. That mandate stipulated that employers who offered health insurance – including Christian businesses and religious organizations – provide their employees through health coverage plans with access to all forms of contraception including abortion-inducing drugs.

The Trump administration issued two rules exempting employers from providing access to such contraceptives if it conflicts with their sincerely held religious beliefs. The exemptions cover those with moral objections and those with religious objections. The Trump administration stated that the Affordable Care Act failed to properly provide protections to those who held sincere moral or religious convictions against providing contraceptives such as the abortion pill at no cost to their employees.

During a White House Press Briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked for her response to the fact that the ACLU had already stated their intention to file a lawsuit, claiming that “The Trump administration is forcing women to pay for their boss’s religious beliefs.”

Sanders responded:

“The President believes that the freedom to practice one’s faith is a fundamental right in this country, and I think all of us do.  And that’s all that today was about — our federal government should always protect that right.  And as long as Donald Trump is President, he will.”

The action by the Trump administration to broaden the exemption to the HHS contraception mandate has been much applauded, especially among pro-life groups.

Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Greg Baylor stated:

We are pleased that this rule is a major step forward in keeping that promise and restoring back to people of faith their constitutionally protected freedom. We are also pleased the rule protects the conscience convictions of organizations like March for Life, an organization that bases its pro-life beliefs on science and philosophy, and hosts the largest pro-life gathering in the world every year in Washington, D.C.

Alliance Defending Freedom is representing 20 organization and 12 individuals, including the March for Life, in challenges to the HHS Obama-era mandate. The action taken by the Trump administration in broadening the exemptions to the mandate will improve the position of these organizations and individuals, although a final decision from the courts will ultimately be needed to resolve the cases.

With the recent loss of Tom Price as the former Secretary of Health and Human Services, Family Policy Institute of Washington last week appropriately voiced concerns over possible challenges this could pose to the state of religious liberty. Thankfully, it appears that there is still a reason for optimism and that the absence of former Secretary Price as head of HHS at least so far has not hindered the safeguarding of religious liberty protections.

After five grueling years of enduring the Obama-era mandate which, in essence, attempted to force business owners to violate their consciences or face crippling fines and even possible bankruptcy, the action taken by the Trump administration is a very welcome reprieve. Millions of Americans wanted no part of the healthcare mandate and the broadened exemptions put in place by Trump are certainly a partial fulfillment of his many campaign promises to ensure the continued religious liberty and conscience protections for individuals who are simply trying to live peacefully in accordance with their faith.

Josh Denton is a contributing writer for FPIW.

With Sec. Price Gone, Trump Administration Faces Challenge to its Pro-Family HHS Agenda

Tom Price resigned last week after the release of a series of Politico articles accusing Health and Human Services Secretary of abusing tax pay dollars by chartering private planes for work-related travel.

Before being nominated and confirmed to run DHS, Price had developed a record of being a strong pro-life advocate and historical support for the defunding of Planned Parenthood. His departure may leave conservative-leaning, pro-family groups wondering about the fate of the department’s agenda moving forward.

Although his tenure was short, in the first few months of his term, Secretary Price cut 213.6 million in funding to 81 organizations that use contraception-based sex education curricula. Price opposes federal funding for birth control and advocates abstinence education as a more effective method of curbing teen pregnancies.

Price’s announcement to cut the funding came in early July and immediately sparked the ire of much of the mainstream media.

The progressive groups leading the sex education programs in question claim the funding, allocated by Obama to run through 2019, will allow researchers to conduct a thorough analysis of the effectiveness of certain programs with specific demographic groups. While it’s important to recognize that more than a quarter of U.S. girls become pregnant by 20, a much higher percentage than other developed nations, there is strong evidence that similar programs in schools do not work.

A Cochrane review released in 2016 concluded, “there is little evidence that educational, curriculum-based programs alone are effective in improving sexual and reproductive health outcomes for adolescents.” Cochrane is a global independent network of researchers that provides results and analysis to help people and organizations make better healthcare decisions. The study they conducted involved eight school-based programs distributed globally. A total of 55,157 participants were included in the study.

At the time, Huber, then with Ascend, was quoted on American Family News saying, “We’ve known for a long time what the best health message (abstinence) is for young people, and we’re getting more and more details that they’re resonating with that and that the opposite message (safe sex) is having the opposite effect.”

Price’s pro-family stances on issues like abortion, as well as his willingness to act swiftly on cutting contraception-based sex education he judged ineffective, makes his vacancy important to those concerned about family issues. The NY Times reports there are several candidates under consideration to replace him. These include Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

Seema Verma had formerly worked with Vice President Mike Pence in creating an alternative Medicaid expansion for Indiana called “Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0.” It was the nation’s first consumer-directed Medicaid program. The program includes minimal contributions on the part of recipients to emphasize personal responsibility. Scott Gottlieb is a physician and former Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who had previously worked under the second Bush Administration.

As for the issue of sexual education locally, keep your eye on Spokane Public Schools, who will be considering a sexual education curriculum developed by Planned Parenthood. The curriculum is called “Get Real” and would be implemented for 6th through 9th grades. Read more about the Spokane/Planned Parenthood sexual education proposal here: http://www.fpiw.org/blog/2017/07/07/spokane-public-schools-consider-using-planned-parenthood-sex-ed-curriculum/.


Genevieve Malandra is a guest contributor to the FPIW Blog.


 

Why the Left Thinks a Woman Can Have a “Male Brain” but a Man Can’t

You probably know by now that Google fired one of their engineers, for writing a memo accusing the company of being closed minded to different viewpoints.

James Damore suggested it might be possible that computer science is a field dominated by men because women, by virtue of being women, actually prefer other jobs.

This was Google’s idea of a capital offense.

One brave female scientist had the courage to write an article discussing the science that explains why he is correct and we collectively wonder whether she will be forced to walk the plank as well.  

While there’s plenty to be said about the witch hunting element of this story, let’s talk about the gender angle for a moment.

After all, it is 2017, and we  have spent the last two years arguing about whether gender is something you chose for yourself or something chosen for you.

Specifically, we have been told there is a fundamental human right to determine your own gender.

In support of this position, we are told that you can, in part, identify whether a five-year old was “born into the wrong body” based on their toy and clothing preferences and how they feel about themselves.

In this context, there is an acknowledgement that boys and girls behave differently and transgenderism is what happens when a male brain is put into a female body or vice versa.

Ultimately, we are told that unless each of us takes up the cause of those whose brain doesn’t match their body by celebrating their desire to modify their body we will be sentencing them to a life of psychological torment.

This perspective is now progressive orthodoxy.

Enter James Damore’s memo.

While he doesn’t use the precise term, he suggests that he and the other men who make up the majority of the technology workforce have been born with a “male brain” that inclines them toward that sector.

He further suggests that those born with a “female brain” might be inclined in a different direction because their brains are wired differently.

And Google loses its mind.

Strange, isn’t it?

If a woman claims to be born with a “male brain” that compels her to undergo plastic surgery and hormone therapy, she is a transgender hero.

If a man claims to have a male brain that predisposes him to like computer science, he is to be drawn and quartered.

And you’re supposed to think this is progress.

If this seems just a little bit insane, you’re not wrong.

But there is a kind of logic behind it.

A logic that long ago rejected the idea that some things are true and some things are false regardless of how we feel about them.

This logic sees the world entirely through the framework of the oppressed and the oppressor.

They will agree with you if you are transgender because you are part of “the oppressed”.

But, when a “cisgender”, straight, white, male makes the exact same argument, they’ll mock him.

Just because they don’t like him.

The cognitive dissonance they should experience eludes them because somewhere along the line they forgot that “speaking truth to power” requires some concern about what is true.

 

 

 

 

What Google’s Firing of Free Thinker Says About the Left

The tolerance movement claims another victim. This time, at Google.

An Engineer named James Damore wrote a 10 page memo claiming that Google has created an environment that is hostile to differences of opinion.

In the memo, he wrote, “This silencing has created an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed”.

He went on to suggest that the over-representation of men in technology jobs could be, in-part, attributable to the fact that men and women are different and not entirely the result of sexism.

In an apparent effort to underscore all of Damore’s arguments about an echo chamber, Google fired him.

Danielle Brown, Google’s Vice President of Diversity, Integrity & Governance, said,

Part of building an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions. But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws.

In other words, “of course you are free to say what you think, just make sure that we want to hear it first.”

Authoritarian impulses aside, we shouldn’t ignore the irony of a company that exists to make assumptions based on data firing someone for suggesting there are differences between men and women.

We all know Google sells advertising, right?

Is there anyone who believes they’re placing advertisements for purses on the screens of twenty- something year old men?

I doubt it.

Google is happy to make money off gender differences, but they’ll just insist those differences don’t exist.  After all, they’re good progressives.

The coverage of this story has been as ridiculous as the story itself.

Gizmodo referred to Damore’s memo as an “Anti-Diversity Screed”.

While it did make arguments that are not politically correct, if you read it, you can’t honestly refer to it as anything but respectful.

The left’s outrage at the respectful presentation of different ideas seems to say much more about them than the people they are perpetually outraged at.

We are now living in a world where questions themselves are offensive.

Strangely, while they are convinced their reason for living is to force you to challenge your biases, the moment you suggest they might also have biases worth evaluating, you’re fired.

While James Damore may have lost his job, he’s not going to be the real loser in all of this.

One day, the left will look back and ask, “When did we become afraid of learning?”

Maybe they’ll point to the day the world’s biggest search engine decided it was afraid of new information.

Meanwhile, men and women will still be different and by then, there may not even be anyone left who is mad about it.

WA Democrats: If You Don’t Support Abortion, We Don’t Support You

The Democratic party has long been the party associated with abortion.  But Washington State Democrats have taken the next step.

Many Democrats nationally were irked recently  when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington DC said that it will help elect pro-life Democrats in their effort to take back the House of Representatives in Washington DC.

That won’t be happening here in Washington State.

In an interview with The Stranger, State Democratic party Chairman Tina Podlodowski  has stated that they will not support any candidate who does not support abortion.

While the state Democratic party has operated this way functionally for years, this may be the first time that position was stated publicly.

Since Washington State allows candidates to declare their party preference without the support or endorsement of a political party, this does not prohibit someone who opposes abortion from running as a Democrat.

It just ensures that the state party will not support that candidate.

The Republican Party has supported a handful of legislators who support abortion that have frustrated the pro-life majority of the Republican party.

Many voters have an issue or two that are most important to them.  Some even consider themselves to be single issue voters.

Here in Washington State, we officially have  a single issue political party.

Maybe the Dumbest Headline Ever

Every journalist hates the term “fake news”.

They want to be taken seriously.

But sometimes they justify the label.

For example, this headline.

Seriously?

Transgender man gives birth to a boy?

I could have sworn I saw this headline on the cover of the National Enquirer about fifteen years ago when the line between the intentionally ridiculous and the serious wasn’t quite so fuzzy.

Let’s break this down for a moment.

If you believe in biology and objective reality, you know that  men don’t give birth to anything.  So the phrase “man gives birth…” is a nonstarter.

If you’re giving birth, you’re a woman.

But let’s say you are a reality denier.

Let’s say you will deny any objective truth in order to avoid offending someone you view as being part of a victim class.

Shouldn’t you at least do so consistently?

When you say “Transgender man gives birth to boy” you initially deny the connection between gender and biology but then–two words later–assume the gender of the baby based on his biology.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging when a baby is a boy.

Nor is there anything wrong with acknowledging that people who give birth to baby humans are called women.

Both are observations, not judgments.

But the fact that CNN is willing to assume the gender of the baby but not the mother indicates that communicating truth is not their first priority.

Like a virus taking over a computer, the mind that writes the sentence “Transgender man gives birth to boy” has been completely corrupted by political pressure.

It can no longer be trusted to perform the function for which it was created until it undergoes serious repair.

If they were to write, “Man gives birth to homo sapien of undetermined gender” people would furrow their brow, but they might respect the desire for consistency.

As currently written, they’re just letting us know that they know what is true but they’re happy to lie about it if the social pressure is strong enough.

Which gets us back to the “fake news” bit.

If you want people to take you seriously, you have to take yourself seriously.  At a bare minimum, that should require the courage to call a spade a spade, even if you heard it would prefer to be a heart.

 

Key State Senate Race A Dead-Heat After Primary

A race that will likely decide the balance of power in the Washington State Senate next year is virtually tied based on early primary results released Tuesday evening.

With the Republicans currently holding a 25-24 majority in the state Senate, this seat, now held by the Republicans, is an opportunity for the Democrats to take back Senate leadership that has been controlled by the Republicans since 2012.

Democrat Manka Dhingra was leading the primary with 11,928 votes (50.54%).  Republican Jingyoung Lee Englund is second with 10,052 votes (42.59%).  Parker Harris, generally believed to be right of center independent, was third with 1,620 votes (6.86%).

Only Dhingra and Englund will advance to the general election.

Since Harris’s support is believed to be from Republicans, it is expected that much of his support would go to Englund in a two-way general election.

Assuming those who voted for Parker are likely to vote Republican in the general election, the Republican/Democrat vote difference is only 300 votes.

Late arriving ballots, which tend to favor Republican candidates, could push Dhingra below the 50% mark when all votes have been counted.

Regardless, all indications are that this race will be very close.  It is also expected to break all-time spending records in a state legislative race.

Republican control of the Senate for the last five years has allowed them to negotiate as equals with the Democrats.

A Democrat victory in this race would give them control over every branch of Washington State’s government and likely re-energize Governor Inslee’s far left priorities.

Several taxes – capital gains tax, real estate excise tax, and an energy tax –  proposed by Governor Inslee but rejected by the Senate in the last budget negotiations could get new life in a Democrat controlled Senate.

Also, many far-left social policies including regulation of pro-life pregnancy centers, efforts to force businesses to pay for abortions, and attempts to regulate speech for licensed therapists have failed to become law only because of the current Senate leadership.

While much of Washington State believes 2017 is an “off-year” for elections, in reality, this special-election in Redmond, Woodinville, Kirkland, Duvall, and Sammamish will decide the direction of our state for the foreseeable future.

King County Board of Health Vote Forces “Limited Service Pregnancy Centers” to Post Warnings

The outcome was predetermined, but it was still a little bit surprising.

The meeting began with an hour of public testimony, limited to one minute per speaker, and dominated by those opposed to the proposal targeting pregnancy centers.

Nevertheless, the King County Board of Health voted 10-1 to require “limited service pregnancy centers” to post notices in their facilities, in 48 point font in 10 different languages, that say “This facility is not a health care facility.”

Councilmember Kathy Lambert was the lone vote in opposition.

The purported reason for the regulations was to prevent delay in receiving pregnancy information that can have an adverse health impact on both the woman and the baby.

However, public testimony in support of the proposal was conspicuously devoid of anyone who claimed to have been deceived, delayed, or otherwise harmed by a pregnancy center.

That isn’t to say no one was there to support the regulation.

A small parade of interns from the far-left legal group Legal Voice had several bad things to say.  None of them, however, claimed any personal contact with the organizations, much less harm.

Legal Voice is the organization who sent fake clients into pregnancy centers under false pretenses.   Unsurprisingly, they reported that the centers were deceptive and dangerous.

The staff report prepared by the Board of Health that is frequently referred to as the justification for the rule relied entirely upon the Legal Voice report.

Kim Triller, executive director of Care Net of Puget Sound, told the board emphatically that the contents of the report were false, but the board seemed uninterested.

We are not aware of any attempt by the Board of Health to independently verify whether the accusations were true.

The vast majority of those who attended the hearing were opposed to the proposed regulation. No fewer than 10 women, who had personally been served by the pregnancy centers, described how the pregnancy centers served them.

Council members attempted to acknowledge the good work the centers were doing and repeatedly emphasized that this was not an attempt to shut down the centers.

Still, the political rather than policy motives were transparent.

While the committee claimed to have been working on the issue for more than a year, they appeared to have done little actual thinking about the rule itself.

For example, a significant amount of time was spent trying to figure out how many pieces of 8.5 x 11 paper were required to print the notice in 48 point font in ten different languages.   That fairly rudimentary conversation seemed to betray the fact that very little actual thinking had been done about the rule.

Five minutes before the passage of the regulations one member pointed out that requiring pregnancy centers to post the warning on internet advertising in ten different languages makes many forms of internet advertising illegal or impractical for pregnancy centers.

Imagine the impact of the following advertisement with a warning printed in 10 different languages.

Kinda takes away the impact, doesn’t it?  Well. That’s the point.

While the notice might actually fit on a banner of this size, it could be illegal for a pregnancy center to purchase a smaller advertisement because there wouldn’t be room for the notice.

That fact creates a significant constitutional problem for the rule.

The council, however, was now more than two hours into the meeting. They appeared to be losing interest in discussing the actual impact.

So they just passed it.

Constitutional concerns about the rule abound.  Additional free speech concerns include prohibitions on government forcing people to engage in “compelled speech”.   Additionally, the rules would not apply to centers that perform abortions.

Several federal courts have found similar regulations to be unconstitutional and an appeal of a similar regulation from California is on the Supreme Court’s conference schedule for September 25, 2017.  As a result, the Supreme Court may soon be speaking to this issue soon.

Constitutional issues aside, it remains unclear whether any centers in King County actually fall under the definition of a “limited service pregnancy center” according to the rule.

The definition of a “limited service pregnancy center” excludes “health care facilities… where licensed, certified, registered, or otherwise authorized health care providers conduct functions that make it governed by 70.02 RCW.”

Virtually every pro-life pregnancy center meets this definition of a “health care facility” and is therefore exempt.

It is possible that in their effort to appease the abortion lobby, the county has drawn a circle so small that no one is inside it.

If that’s the case, even abortion industry lackeys can’t help but wonder whether the inevitable legal costs to the county are worth the effort to regulate no one.

Regardless, you can be sure that groups like Planned Parenthood, Legal Voice, and the National Abortion Rights Action League will use these rules to harass pro-life facilities even if, in the end, the rule is found not to apply to them.

After all, that’s the entire point of the rule is harassment, isn’t it?

Those who receive political contributions helping those who make political contributions.

 

Three Reasons Progressives Want You to Hate Them

A lot of you have probably had this experience.

Someone is yelling at you. They want answers. They are demanding to know why you hate them.

You’re confused. You’re sure you don’t hate this person because, for starters, you’ve never met them before.

You’re willing to grant that they don’t make an awesome first impression, but what you feel isn’t close to hate.

But the accusation is frustrating, nonetheless.

You go out of your way to be kind, but still, anytime you express your opinions, people accuse you of being hateful.

Well, before you wring your hands too much more, it can be helpful to remember that some people want you to hate them.

Here are three reasons why.

  1. They get Oppression Points

First, they want you to hate them because they get oppression points. In many places today, being a victim is an accomplishment. Just google “fake hate crimes.” You don’t harm yourself and accuse someone else of doing it unless you think it will help you somehow. In social justice warrior circles, being a victim is valued more highly than being disciplined, industrious, or smart. People want to believe you to hate them because it gives their life significance.

They can’t go back to their snowflake convention with, “They disagree with me, but they’re enjoyable people, and our kids get along great.” They need you to hate them because believing they are hated is a fundamental part of their identity.

     2. They Don’t Want to Have to Consider Your Arguments

Second, they want you to hate them because if you don’t, they would feel obligated to consider what you have to say. The respectful thing to do with people you disagree with is to engage with them through an exchange of ideas that involves mutual respect and a sincere attempt to understand the other’s perspective.

But they don’t want to have to explain why kids don’t need a mom and dad or why a white woman can identify as a man but not as an African American. They just want to be able to do whatever they want to do and never feel judged for doing it. By telling themselves that you are hateful, they relieve themselves of the need to defend their ideas from critique or otherwise engage you on a human level.

Which leads to the third reason they want to believe you hate them.

     3. They Hate You

They want to believe you hate them because they hate you. That is the great irony in this scenario. They hate you because you think there are ways to show love other than through approval. In their mind, if you hate them, that somehow validates their hatred of you. That’s the nature of bitterness.

The sad fact is, once you choose to hate someone, everything they do is offensive. That means even your kindnesses will be interpreted in a way that allows them to think you’re hateful. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

Of course, not everyone wants to believe you hate them. There are plenty of people of every political persuasion who can acknowledge the goodwill of people they disagree with.

But the next time you encounter someone who refuses to give your motives the benefit of the doubt, in the words of the great American philosopher Taylor Swift, “Shake it off.”

It could be that they accuse you of hating them because they want you to.

Your job is just to make sure it’s not true.

The Collateral Damage of the War on Reality

As two more recent stories indicate, the war on gender has nothing to do with bathrooms.

In the first story, a Canadian parent wants their child’s birth certificate to be the first to identify a baby as neither male or female. The parent, who identifies as neither male or female, had this to say about the baby.

“I’m recognizing them as a baby and trying to give them all the love and support to be the most whole person that they can be outside of the restrictions that come with the boy box and the girl box.”

While all of this started as a call for compassion for the tiny percentage of the population who feel like they are the “other” gender,  it has quickly led to rejecting the idea that there is anything that can be known from one’s anatomy.

But asking children to reach conclusions about things they know nothing about is self-evidently silly.

When a child asks “What am I?”, it doesn’t help if all the adults look back at them and ask, “I don’t know, what are you?”

The adults are supposed to know things the kids don’t.

Still, it could be worse.

While some parents are choosing not to impose a gender, other parents don’t have the same patience.

In this story, three, queer parents of a three-year-old that they dubbed “queerspawn” have determined that their child is transgender.  The author of this story describes himself as transgender and asexual.  He says this about the child.

He was assigned female at birth, but his non-conforming behavior was clear and consistent from day one. It started with his hair. He hated wearing it long, and he hated it when we did anything with it. No ponytails, no braids — nothing. He also refused to wear dresses and skirts.

The child probably can’t be trusted to sleep through the night without wetting the bed, but we’re supposed to believe she has a grasp on gender norms as expressed through hair length and clothing and the awareness to understand both their significance, how to reject them, and the consequences of doing so.

While sure their child is transgender, they now wonder whether she will be queer as well.

I don’t wish him any more marginalization and oppression than he’ll already face as a trans person. But I can’t help but think that if he’s queer, there’ll be yet another community he can join, another supportive place for him to vent about that oppression. There are other queer people who will listen and sympathize with him beyond his family. He will need those people when he gets older and flies away from us.

Some parents hope their kids have an adventure, a healthy family, a place that makes them happy, and life-long love.

Other parents label their three-year-old transgender, hope she is attracted to men, which they say would make her gay because they think she’s a boy, and then hope she finds a community to vent about oppression.

Sadly, in 2017, this qualifies as parenting.

I have no doubt these parents want the best for their child.

But it’s hard to know what is good for your child when your view of the world has replaced the concepts of “good” and “bad” with “preferred” or “not preferred.”

We can all understand the appeal of a world is which nothing is inherently wrong, and the only possible consequences of our behavior were environmental which would allow us to manage the fallout by simply fixing the environment.

If, however, that world doesn’t actually exist, if our pursuit of our preferences continues to collide with the natural laws of the universe, the only actual outcome of our pursuits will be pain.

As is usually the case when adults make mistakes, kids will end up as collateral damage in our war on reality.