STOP the War on Children

March 29, 2010

Gang Violence in the Capitol

Gang Violence in the Capitol

by Dr. Karen L Gushta

When the vote on health care finally came, I was struck by the image that was played across the networks of an exultant Nancy Pelosi, walking up the steps of the capitol. With an over-sized gavel in hand, she was flanked on either side by her comrades in arms, ready to proclaim victory over health care.

My husband noted the resemblance to The Gangs of New York. “We’re in control now!” was the message. “We own this block!”

But, there was a more sinister resemblance as well. The New York gang wars depicted in the Leonard DiCaprio movie were bloody and violent. In this case, the bloody violence will not be carried out against opposing members of Congress. Rather, the victims of Pelosi’s gang violence will be the babies who will now be aborted at tax payers’ expense.

(And here I’d like to add a personal note to Mr. Stupak: we all knew the moment your support for the bill was announced, that you had sold your soul and trusted the untrustworthy. “Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips,” Proverbs 25:19.)

Despite all the altruistic rhetoric, this bill was enacted against the wishes of the people it claimed to serve. Of course, the president would not acknowledge this in his remarks on signing the bill. He clothed his speech with the high sounding phrases we’re now accustomed to hearing—phrases that appealed to the “morality” of this legislation. Legislation that will break the sixth commandment by financing murder of babies and the eighth commandment by authorizing more “legal plunder” of America’s citizens; i.e., stealing from some in order to give to others. Let’s also not forget the many half-truths and lies that were used to try convince us that this legislation is going to be good for us!

Don’t be confused. When President Obama spoke to religious leaders on a conference call sponsored by Faithful America[i] in August 2009, and asked them to support his health care makeover because expanded health care coverage was “a core ethical and moral obligation,”[ii] he omitted any mention of the moral obligation we have to protect the lives of the innocent—the unborn babies who will never breathe the breath of life, much less have the opportunity to exercise their liberties or pursue their own happiness.

At this same meeting the president appealed to Americans to support his plan for government takeover of our health care system, by stating that we need to “look out for one another.”  “I am my brother’s keeper and my sister’s keeper,” he said, and as “the wealthiest nation on earth right now, we are neglecting to live up to that call.”[iii]

Nevertheless, President Obama has never expressed concerns about being the “keeper” of the thousands of babies that are being aborted every day in our nation. Instead, as a state senator he voted against the legal protection that would ensure their right to live should one of them manage to survive a botched abortion.

President Obama’s conference call to religious leaders was opened by Sojourners’ Jim Wallis with a “moment of silence.” He then remarked that “we are in danger of losing the moral core of the discussion.” It should be self-evident to every Christian who treasures life as a gift from God, and who recognizes that we are all made in God’s image from the moment of conception, that in the midst of the health care debate the “moral core of the discussion” was lost indeed.

Let’s not lose sight of the moral imperative to protect life, which is a gift from God; let’s not sacrifice it for health care, which is a privilege.

Finally, there something each of us can do to protect life—support the effort to get states to protect life by passing state constitutional amendments that define human beings as “persons” “from the beginning of the biological development of that human being.”  Colorado already has such an amendment on the 2010 ballot. Other states where signatures for ballot initiatives are being gathered include California, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, and Montana. To find out more, go to; in Florida go to

[i] Faithful America is “a coalition of liberal religious groups that was launched in 2004 to collect contributions to run ads on Arabic-language satellite television “expressing regret to Muslims for abuses committed by Americans at Abu Ghraib prison.” Penney Starr, “Obama Calls Health Care a ‘Moral Obligation,’ But Pro-lifers Say Tax Money for Abortions Is ‘Moral’ Issue”, August 21, 2009,

[ii] “Obama to religious groups: health care is ‘a core ethical and moral obligation’”, August 20, 2009

[iii] Penny Starr,


March 9, 2010

The Hurt Locker vs. Avatar


The Hurt Locker vs. Avatar

by Karen Gushta

I may be stepping on to a minefield here by commenting on the recent Academy Awards, but I can’t resist making some comparisons between the one that walked off with all the awards, The Hurt Locker, and the box office success, Avatar. There is a point to be made, I think, in comparing the two movies.

Since my comments are based on second hand accounts—I didn’t see either one—you can dismiss this and stop reading here. But as I read the reviews, (you can too by going I saw something that touches on a couple of themes I wrote about in The War on Children: How Pop Culture and Public Schools Put Our Kids at Risk.

In the chapter, Heroes and Heroines: Virtue and Vice Redefined, I note that since the ‘60s our culture has been missing heroes. I referred to Peter Gibbon’s research and book, A Call to Heroism to establish the point. I agree with Gibbon’s that our children need heroes and heroines, and ideally, I believe, they should find their heroes and heroines first and foremost in their own parents. Secondarily, they should be given literature that sets such models before them—(go to to find a company that is trying to do just that).

In the chapter, Too Much Schooling and Too Little Education, I also wrote about the power that story has in capturing the imaginations of children, and the encouraging fact that reading rates are up among young adults for the first time in 25 years. They are being captivated new powerful stories. “Although they do not respond to logic, they do respond to stories, myths, and legends. Consequently biblical epics and romances can capture their imaginations.” Now is the time for Christian writers to fill that need with new fiction that breathes of God’s marvelous grace and lifts up the reader with stories of hope and redemption.

So how does this touch on these two movies? Perhaps this is a stretch, but in reading the reviews of Avatar, what came across to me were the descriptions of spectacular special effects, but the heart and soul of a captivating story was missing. One critic called it a “love story,” but another called the story “pure cheese” and a third said, “It is a very expensive-looking, very flashy entertainment, albeit one that groans under the weight of clumsy storytelling in the second half.”

In contrast, several critics spoke of heroism in reference to The Hurt Locker. “Through sturdy imagery and violent action, it says that even Hell needs heroes,” said one. Another called it, “a penetrating study of heroism,” and a third said it’s “the first war movie in a while that feels as if it could have starred John Wayne.”

Perhaps, even the Academy is starting to get it. “Flashy entertainment” isn’t going to endure; stories of heroism will.

So, whether you saw either of these movies or not, let me leave you with these two thoughts; First, if you’re a parent give your children heroes and heroines to enlarge their hearts and expand their imaginations of what “great things” they can attempt for God and expect from God. (Thank you William Carey!).

Secondly, let’s beware of “flashy entertainment” in the use of our own time, money, and energies. Are we telling others of the “real story” of what God is doing today in the lives of heroes of faith who are living under persecution (go to Are we telling the story of what God has done in our lives to transform us from “the darkness to the light?” Are you writing stories that capture the imaginations of children and youth with God’s grace and telling them stories of hope and redemption?

Let’s go tell the story today!

March 1, 2010

Blowing Kisses and Giving Big Smooches!


Blowing Kisses and Giving Big Smooches!

By Karen L. Gushta, Ph.D.

Last fall President Obama declared that September 28, 2009 should be observed as Family Day. He urged families to celebrate “with appropriate ceremonies and activities to honor and strengthen our Nation’s families.”

The president noted that “families encourage us to do our best and enable us to accomplish great things.” And parents, he said, “bear significant stress and burdens to protect their children from harmful influences.”

What kinds of “harmful influences” did he have in mind? The president’s list included alcohol, tobacco, or prescription and illicit drugs, and other harmful behaviors which, he said, “can destroy the mind, body, and spirit of a child.”

Conspicuously absent were pornography, promiscuous sex and homosexuality–behaviors so devastating to the physical and emotional well-being of adolescents that those who promote them are waging a de facto war on children and youth.

Promiscuity, for example, carries severe consequences. A 2006 study showed that one in every four girls in public high schools in this country is infected with an STD. Approximately 12 million Americans contract STDs every year—nearly three percent of the entire population. What’s more significant, however, is the fact that of this group, 65 percent are younger than 25 years of age. Youth who become infected with STDs are less likely to seek immediate treatment, and therefore more susceptible to the long-term devastating health effects of these diseases, such as sterility, damage to the brain and heart, cervical cancer, and incurable genital warts.

And what is the president doing in the face of this? Rather than promote abstinence, which is the only sure way one can be protected from STDs, the Obama administration’s budget redirected funds from abstinence-only programs, such as Community-Based Abstinence Education and Title V Abstinence Education, to what are termed, “evidence-based and promising teen pregnancy prevention programs.”

But the “evidence” favors abstinence. Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation reports that abstinence programs that include a virginity pledge “dramatically lower rates of teen births.” Abortion rates, teen sex, and out of-wedlock births all decrease among teens who have made such a pledge. Although not all teens keep their pledge, this form of abstinence education results in the “number of sexual partners down a third to a half, compared to kids from a similar socioeconomic background.”

What about pornography? Twenty percent of Internet porn involves children. Ninety percent have viewed it online—most while doing their homework. Homegrown pornography, aka sexting, is the latest moral virus to infect cell phones and young souls. Only 25 percent of 7th to 12th graders have a filter or parental controls on their computers, and only three percent of porn sites require adult verification before entering.

Since the Warren Court opened the floodgates of pornography in the late ’60s by a series of 34 unsigned per curiam decisions, social conservatives have attempted to get legislation passed to reign in the purveyors of porn who now freely post on the Internet.

Where does the Obama administration stand on this threat to children? One might say they are “in bed” with the pornography lobby, having appointed David Ogden as Deputy Attorney General. Ogden’s resume includes service for clients such as Penthouse and Playboy, amicus briefs defending child pornography in Knox v. United States and opposing the Children’s Internet Protection Act of 2000.

Finally, what about strengthening families by protecting the institution of marriage itself? In his Family Day proclamation, the president proclaimed that families of same-sex couples can also “encourage us to do our best and enable us to accomplish great things.” But research has shown that family configuration has significant impact on children’s well-being. And while there is still a limited amount of research on same-sex parenting outcomes, social science research is unequivocal in finding that children do best with a mother and father. An abundance of research also shows that children suffer in manifold ways when their home is fatherless or their parents divorce.

It’s clear who suffers when society tinkers with God’s structure for marriage of one man and one woman for the sake of social experimentation and a socially defined right to marry.

While the president gave one day to recognizing families, he declared the whole month of June “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, 2009,” and affirmed his administration’s support for ensuring gay adoption rights and civil unions. He also inexplicably appointed Kevin Jennings, founder of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), to be the “safe schools” czar at the Department of Education. When he was a teacher, Jennings failed to report a homosexual statutory rape of a 15-year-old boy. Jennings has praised pro-pedophile gay activist Harry Hay and promoted books detailing seductions of teen boys by older men. What’s more, GLSEN sponsored a forum in which 14-year-olds were told how to perform dangerous homosexual acts.

Unless Mr. Obama’s administration follows through with family friendly social policies that seek the best interests of children, his Family Day Proclamation smacks of little more than lip service. Blowing kisses at the family while giving big smooches to all things gay, shows where the president’s heart really is.

Karen L. Gushta, Ph.D., is a researcher at Coral Ridge Ministries and author of The War on Children (Coral Ridge Ministries, 2009).

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