STOP the War on Children

June 3, 2011

He’s Gone, But Not Forgotten

By Dr. Karen Gushta

When homosexual activist Kevin Jennings quietly left his post as “safe schools czar” at the Department of Education, the news barely made a ripple. Although pro-family advocates can rejoice, they should not underestimate Jennings’ ability to influence America’s children in his new post as CEO of non-profit group, Be the Change, Inc. The organization works closely with AmeriCorps, the government agency that funds community works and public sector programs in education, health, public safety, and the environment.

When Jennings was appointed by President Obama, Jim Hoft correctly noted at Gateway Pundit that his appointment was primarily due to the fact that he had founded the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) in 1990.  By 2007, Jennings was pulling down a salary of more than $270,000 as GLSEN’s executive director. But his goal was more than personal enrichment. His homosexual activist organization led the way in getting government schools to introduce programs intended to promote acceptance of homosexuality through anti-bullying curricula that teach tolerance of homosexual students.  

One of GLSEN’s tools is a “recommended reading list.” As Hoft reported, “GLSEN maintains a recommended reading list of books that it claims ‘furthers our mission to ensure safe schools for all students.’” The books are hardly ones that “all students” should read, however.

Purportedly the books help “gay kids” by raising their self-esteem, and “straight kids” who read them are supposed to become more aware and tolerant of homosexual kids and stop bullying them. In fact, these books expose young people to homosexual behaviors and lifestyles in a graphic and sexually explicit way.

According to Hoft, “Book after book after book contained stories and anecdotes that weren’t merely X-rated and pornographic, but which featured explicit descriptions of sex acts between pre-schoolers; stories that seemed to promote and recommend child-adult sexual relationships; stories of public masturbation, anal sex in restrooms, affairs between students and teachers, five-year-olds playing sex games, semen flying through the air.”

In his book, Radical Rulers, Robert Knight notes that while Jennings was the leader of GLSEN, it established “gay/straight” alliances in schools, developed a “heterosexism questionnaire” that encouraged kids to question their sexuality, and established events such as “Day of Silence,” and “No Name-Calling Week.” According to Knight, these events are promoted “under the guise of discouraging bullying,” but in reality, “kids are taught to promote homosexuality and accuse anyone who thinks it is immoral of being a bigot and hater.”

While he was safe schools czar, Kevin Jennings met several times with the executive director of Christian Educators Association International, Finn Laursen. Nevertheless, in the past he has been vocal in dismissing the views of Christians.  

Robert Knight wrote that Jennings spoke to a conference at a church in 2000 where he called Moral Majority and Liberty University founder Jerry Falwell a “terrorist,” and said, “We have to quit being afraid of the religious right. We also have to quit—I’m trying to find a way to say this—I’m trying not to say, ‘[F—] ‘em!’ which is what I want to say, because I don’t care what they think! [audience laughter] Drop dead!”

So given his track record, is it time to breathe a sigh of relief that children in America’s schools are now safe from Kevin Jennings’ influence?

That might be premature.

Given Jennings’ track record and his avowed dedication to the cause of normalizing homosexuality in America, it might be wiser to assume that Jennings’ move to Be the Change is based on his belief that it will give him a wider platform to promote the causes that are near and dear to him.

Founded by Alan Khazei in 2008, Be the Change states that its goal is to create “national issue-based campaigns by organizing coalitions of non-profits, social entrepreneurs, policymakers, private sector and civic leaders, academics, and citizens.” The first campaign it launched was ServiceNation, a lobbying effort that gathered over 270 organizations in support of the Kennedy Serve America Act, touted as “the greatest expansion of national service in our country in 60 years.”

Addressing the Service Nation Summit, Khazei said, “We believe that the idea of America is ennobled and the future of America is strengthened when Americans come together to serve our country.”

Perhaps Jennings hopes he can have a hand in shaping the direction of that service. He’s taking charge at a very propitious time. In 2011 the second campaign, Opportunity Nation, was launched as the website proclaimed that children in America have less of a chance for improving their economic situation than those born into low-income households in the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Canada, or Germany.

How Jennings will shape this effort remains to be seen. After 20 years leading the homosexual cause, it seems safe to say that he will find ways to infuse the goals of the homosexual agenda into the new campaign.

Be the Change, Inc. is not alone in its efforts to rally America’s citizens to bring change to their communities. Samaritan’s Purse is training tens of thousands of volunteers to bring relief and assistance in the name of Christ to those whose lives have been ravaged by the recent floods and tornadoes. Glenn Beck is encouraging people to seek “Enlightenment, Education, Empowerment and Entrepreneurship” so our nation will be prepared for the impending world crisis that radical Islamists and Leftists are fomenting in the Middle East.  

America is at a crossroads. And there are many options for those who want to be “part of the solution and not part of the problem.” Coral Ridge Ministries is now offering a new option in its ongoing effort to inspire believers in their daily lives with the power of a biblical worldview. Community in Action is a new grassroots outreach that equips and encourages believers to find God’s call on their lives and connect their passions and abilities to that call in order to transform the culture and their communities for Christ.

It’s clear that activists like Kevin Jennings are not going to stop their efforts to transform the culture according to a vision that distorts God’s design for sexuality and human relationships.

The question is—will Christians take up the challenge to work with the same degree of zeal?

Dr. Karen Gushta is research coordinator at Coral Ridge Ministries and author of The War on Children: How Pop Culture and Public Schools Put Our Kids at Risk. Dr. Gushta is a career educator who has taught at all levels, from kindergarten to graduate level teacher education, in both public and Christian schools in America and overseas. Dr. Gushta served as the first international director of Kid’s Evangelism Explosion. She has a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Education from Indiana University and Masters degrees in Elementary Education from the University of New Mexico and in Christianity and Culture from Knox Theological Seminary.

April 8, 2011

“Why Do We Let Them Dress Like That?”

By Dr. Karen Gushta

How do 12–13 year-old girls dress for a party? In “mini-dresses, perilously high heels, and glittery, dangling earrings, their eyes heavily shadowed in black-pearl and jade,” says Mrs. Jennifer Moses in a recent Wall Street Journal article. “They look like a flock of tropical birds.” Then she asked the question many are asking, “Why do so many of us not only permit our teenage daughters to dress like this—like prostitutes, if we’re being honest with ourselves—but pay for them to do it with our AmEx cards?”

 

Mrs. Moses provided little analysis of this phenomenon in answering her own question before giving her own opinion. Her theory—“It has to do with how conflicted my own generation of women is about our own past, when many of us behaved in ways that we now regret. A woman I know, with two mature daughters, said, ‘If I could do it again, I wouldn’t even have slept with my own husband before marriage. Sex is the most powerful thing there is, and our generation, what did we know?’”

 

Moses continues, “We are the first moms in history to have grown up with widely available birth control…. We were also the first not only to be free of old-fashioned fears about our reputations, but actually pressured by our peers and the wider culture to find our true womanhood in the bedroom. Not all of us are former good-time girls now drowning in regret—I know women of my generation who waited until marriage—but that’s certainly the norm among my peers.”

 

But following that “norm” did not produce happiness. Speaking of her own friends, Moses says, “I don’t know one of them who doesn’t have feelings of lingering discomfort regarding her own sexual past. And not one woman I’ve ever asked about the subject has said that she wishes she’d ‘experimented’ more.”

Mrs. Moses’ article opened up a forum in the WSJ for over 600 comments in response. Some of them addressed the moral values implicit in her question. One person wrote, “Why do we let them dress like that? We don’t. It’s important to emphasize the differences between beauty and attractiveness at a young age. Being more involved in our children’s lives will strengthen various values, it will also (hopefully) put us in the position to be the role models we need to be and provide us with a better chance to block negative influences.”

Another wrote, “It is sad to see girls give away something so precious. Our daughters need our loving guidance toward living well-adjusted lives away from the call for promiscuity from all over. They need to enjoy being young women of character. It is hard for a teenager to look to her future life, but parents must guide them to protect that future by how they present themselves now. If we require modesty in the workplace, why can’t we require modesty in our most precious young daughters?”

A homeschooling parent wrote: “The socialization offered by the public and by public school is exactly what we are trying to avoid….  The [popularized] view of the opposite sex as sex objects is the central social message of public school children, the main-stream-media, movies, and most TV. It may be the single most destructive thing many Christian homeschoolers are trying to avoid, and rightly so. … maybe you can’t control who your children become, but while they live in your home you can do your best to protect them from this destructive message and group-think.”

This is exactly the message that I’ve been sharing at recent homeschool conventions—homeschooling provides the best cultural medium for parents to protect their children from the toxic effects of a media and entertainment culture that produces hyper-sexualized and often obscene materials.

The most recent example of this hyper-sexualization showed up in the marketing of Abercrombie Kids, a division of Abercrombie and Fitch that markets specifically to 8-14 year olds. Their latest swimwear includes the “Ashley Push-Up Triangle,” a triangular-shaped bikini top that comes with thick padding. Human behavior expert Dr. Patrick Wanis called this “disturbing and dangerous” on Fox News. “Are we sexualizing young girls to get the attention of men or to encourage women to use their daughters to compensate for their own lack of sexual appeal by living vicariously through their daughter?”

The latter question is one that Jennifer Moses pondered as well. “What teenage girl doesn’t want to be attractive, sought-after and popular?” she wrote. “And what mom doesn’t want to help that cause? In my own case, when I see my daughter in drop-dead gorgeous mode, I experience something akin to a thrill—especially since I myself am somewhat past the age to turn heads.”

Mrs. Moses wrote from her personal experiences and that of her friends. She could have found dozens of books to support her view that something happened in her generation (and mine) that caused the moral compass of our nation to shift from “true north.” Diana West has written compellingly in The Death of the Grown-Up of how as a culture we’ve been taught to “let it all hang out.”  In Slouching Towards Gomorrah, Judge Robert Bork described the changes in ideology in the 60s that led to celebrating personal freedom and moral anarchy.

This flag of “personal freedom” was the banner both young and old marched under as they threw off “all thought of God’s constraint,” wrote Dr. D. James Kennedy in How to Have a Joyful Home. They “completely rebelled against their Creator and Lawgiver,” he observed.

In rebelling against our Creator and Lawgiver as a society, we’ve also lost the recognition that “Our loving heavenly Father knows the best way for us to live,” wrote Dr. Kennedy.  “By following God’s laws and living as a disciple of Jesus Christ, our lives will be as blessed as they can be in this sin-cursed world. God is on our side, and He wants what is best for us.”

Sadly, many Christians, have a mistaken idea of what “God’s best” is. Too often we think that happiness should be our goal. But, as Dr. Kennedy wrote, “God’s best for us is holiness.

Many people equate “holiness” with legalistic restrictions that for all practical purposes seem impossible to keep. The “holy life” is possible, however, wrote Dr. Kennedy, “with the help of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.”

Holiness and purity go hand in hand. When Christians seek holiness, we will not let our daughters dress like prostitutes, and we will be diligent in teaching them about purity. For what truly makes a young women attractive is, as the Apostle Peter described in his first letter, “the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”

Dr. Karen Gushta is research coordinator at Coral Ridge Ministries and author of The War on Children: How Pop Culture and Public Schools Put Our Kids at Risk. Dr. Gushta is a career educator who has taught at all levels, from kindergarten to graduate level teacher education, in both public and Christian schools in America and overseas. Dr. Gushta served as the first international director of Kid’s Evangelism Explosion. She has a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Education from Indiana University and Masters degrees in Elementary Education from the University of New Mexico and in Christianity and Culture from Knox Theological Seminary.

Request The War on Children: How Pop Culture and Public Schools Put Our Kids at Risk, by Dr. Karen Gushta.

March 1, 2010

Blowing Kisses and Giving Big Smooches!

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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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