STOP the War on Children

August 9, 2011

A Missing and Much-Needed Argument to Counter Same-Sex Marriage

by Karen Gushta

Even though 62 percent of Americans agree that “marriage should be defined only as a union between one man and one woman,” legislators and courts continue to act contrary to the majority will.

The latest case is the New York legislature, which passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. As Maggie Gallagher described it in the National Review, “the Republican party decided to help Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo pass one of his highest priorities, gay marriage.”

Gallagher points out that although just four Republicans voted for the measure, Republicans had the majority in the New York state senate and did not need to bring the bill up for a vote.

In her article, Gallagher also makes some astute observations concerning the status of the debate over marriage in America. “Gay-marriage advocates have successfully shut down most public avenues for opposition: in entertainment, media, and the academy, opposition to gay marriage is considered suicidal. Even Fox News avoids the issue, as do most talk-radio-show hosts in the conservative alternative media.”

As Mrs. Gallagher observes, there are only two forums left where ordinary Americans will hear arguments in support of marriage as the union between a man and a woman: in their churches or synagogues, or in political debates. “This fact is starting to affect national polling on the subject.”

According to the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, the marriage debate is far from over on the political front. The 2012 elections will see a marriage amendment on the ballot in Minnesota, which approved it in the 2011 legislative session. Indiana could also have an amendment on its ballot along with Iowa. In addition New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wyoming all considered marriage amendments protecting marriage between a man and a woman in their 2011 sessions and most likely will consider them again in 2012. Pro-homosexual marriage forces are also expected to push for approval of same-sex marriage in Maryland and Rhode Island.

The fact that media elites and others are attempting to silence the voices of those who support marriage as the union of a man and a woman should not discourage us.  We should continue to proclaim God’s marvelous plan for marriage, which Robert Knight eloquently describes in The Truth About Marriage (published by Coral Ridge Ministries, now Truth in Action Ministries). “A marriage commitment is profoundly mystical, transcending flesh and blood and worldly concerns. Weddings are a little bit of heaven on earth, because they reflect God’s eternal qualities of hope and love and even His ultimate sacrifice for humanity in the crucifixion of His Son for all of humanity’s sins.”

Every wedding between a man and a woman gives testimony to God’s plan for humanity. That plan is evidenced in both the union of Adam and Eve, who were given the command to “be fruitful and multiply,” and also God’s restoration of mankind to an Edenic relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. As it says in Isaiah 62:5, “As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you.”

Every wedding between a man and a woman exemplifies the great spiritual relationship that was established between Christ and His bride, the church, by His sacrificial love and death on the cross. As the Apostle Paul describes it in Ephesians 5, “for the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church….just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”

When defending against so-called same-sex marriage, those who believe in Jesus Christ and confess Him as their Savior and Lord should proclaim this truth about marriage.

There are a number of arguments against same-sex “marriage” that Christians can and are presenting to non-Christians; i.e., it is harmful to children, it runs counter to nature, it will contribute to the further weakening of society, which requires a strong family structure to remain healthy. All of these arguments are valid because they are true and the facts support them, regardless of how marriage opponents try to twist the evidence.

Nevertheless, within the church support for biblical marriage is rapidly weakening. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has been tracking changes in favor of same-sex marriage among all religious groups, including Evangelicals, Mainline Protestants and Catholics. In 2010, the percentage of weekly church attending Evangelicals who favor same-sex marriage moved up 4 percentage points.

Also, the Pew study found a clear generational difference in evangelical attitudes toward same-sex marriage. Whereas only 15 percent of those over 50 support it, 26 percent of those under 50 were in favor, and that number showed an increase of 4 points between 2009 and 2010.

As Maggie Gallagher pointed out, there are only two forums left where people are hearing arguments supporting marriage as the union between a man and a woman—in churches and political debates. It’s not surprising therefore, that the Pew study found that 62 percent of those who claim no religious affiliation of any kind are in favor of same-sex marriage.

While the culture at large continues to promote acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, the church stands as the only social institution uniquely equipped with the moral authority to defend and proclaim the truth about marriage. But the prudential arguments against same-sex marriage (that it is harmful to children, runs counter to nature, and will contribute to the further weakening of society) are not enough.

The church must first of all convince its own flock of the sanctity of marriage—and the most powerful message we can bring is the message of Christ’s sacrificial love for the church as the Bride of Christ. This truth should be proclaimed in every Christian wedding ceremony—the truth that even as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it, “so husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies.” God’s plan for marriage is that Christ’s love for His redeemed is to be exemplified in the union between a man and a woman. Just as Adam and Eve originally exemplified it in Eden, so too now it should be modeled here on earth until Christ returns to claim His Bride and take her to His heavenly home.

Those who see marriage as nothing more than an ethical union based in human affection and companionship will continue to argue that two people of the same sex can participate such unions. But believers in Jesus Christ should be ever mindful that God’s plan for marriage is a picture of Christ’s union with His church. And that picture only makes sense in the union of a man and woman—not a man and a man or a woman and a woman.

 

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.

January 22, 2011

Watch What You Say! Free Speech at Risk on Campus

By Dr. Karen Gushta                                                                                                                        

When the Left ramped up its rhetoric, attempting to link the heinous actions of Jared Loughner to Sarah Palin and other conservatives, the issue of hate speech and hate crimes once again moved to center stage in American politics.

In the 2009 legislative session, Congress pushed through a hate crimes bill by inserting it into a defense spending bill. As Robert Knight observed, “‘Hate crime’ laws ensure unequal justice. They empower some groups of victims at the expense of others.”

Nowhere is “unequal justice” more apparent than on America’s college and university campuses, especially in regard to freedom of speech and religious liberty. Just ask Eden Jacobowitz. In 1993, when a group of rowdy black sorority sisters interrupted his late-night study by carousing under his dorm window, the Penn State University freshman made the mistake of yelling, “Shut up, you water buffalo,” in his effort to silence them.

The ladies did not take such an offense lightly—no doubt due to the more colorful epithets that rained down on them from other dorm residents disturbed by their late-night jubilation. None of these offenders came forward, however, when five of the 15 women, now self-identified victims of “racial harassment,” came through the dorm with campus police to look for their offenders. Consequently, only Eden was charged by the university’s judicial inquiry officer (JIO) with transgressing the University’s prohibition against “offensive speech.”

Under Penn State’s policy, Eden’s “offensive speech” had to consist of “slurs, epithets, hate words, demeaning jokes, or derogatory statements” that occurred “in a context such that an intent only to inflict direct injury may reasonably be inferred.” The university’s JIO apparently “reasonably inferred” that saying “Shut up, you water buffalo” to a group of raucous sororitarians met the policy’s criteria for offensive speech and verbal harassment.

This seemed strange to those who recalled that University president Sheldon Hackney had stated unequivocally that under the policy, calling a black with white friends an “Uncle Tom” or calling a white person a “f —– fascist white male pig” would not be categorized as “racial harassment.” Nevertheless, the translation of the Hebrew slang behema—commonly used at Eden’s former yeshiva to refer to a rowdy or thoughtless person—was judged cause for discipline.

“Weren’t you having racist thoughts when you said ‘water buffalo’?” asked the JIO, claiming that “it was important to take the women’s interpretation” of his words into account. Eden offered to apologize to the offended women to assure them that his words had no racial meaning, but was denied the opportunity. Instead he had the choice to accept a “settlement” or face a judicial hearing which could result in suspension or even expulsion.

You can read the rest of Eden’s story in the first chapter of Alan Kors & Harvey Silverglate’s book, The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses. Kors became Eden’s advisor after his first one recommended that he accept the proffered settlement. Silverglate is a lawyer specializing in academic freedom and student rights.

In Shadow University, they argue that America’s colleges are in a crisis of liberty. “The university in loco parentis—the university standing in the place of parents—has been given over to the self-appointed progressives to do with what they will. The result has been an emerging tyranny over all aspects of student life.”

“Universities have become the enemy of a free society,” state Kors and Silverglate. “It is time for the citizens of that society to recognize this scandal of enormous proportions and to hold these institutions to account.” To do so, they established the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a nonprofit educational foundation devoted to free speech, individual liberty, religious freedom, and the rights of conscience.

The Alliance Defense Fund, founded in 1994 by Dr. D. James Kennedy and others to defend religious liberty in the courts, is also holding universities to account. Most recently, Speak Up, (ADF’s blog) exposed Vanderbilt University’s application policy, which would require students applying to it’s Women’s Health Track in the Nurse Residency Program to provide an “acknowledgement” that, if admitted, they would be expected to assist in abortions; applications without it would not be considered.

Thankfully, when ADF notified Vanderbilt that it had filed a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services on behalf of a student who wanted to apply to the program, the university immediately amended its application packet to eliminate this requirement. It sent out an email to that effect to all of its applicants.

This does not mean that nursing students’ conscience rights are not in jeopardy. The Obama administration has threatened to repeal the regulations that allowed ADF to file the complaint with HHS. Nevertheless, in this case, it’s a victory for students’ rights at Vanderbilt University, and Christian students are no longer being sent the message that they need not apply.

If students’ right of conscience and religious liberty are not protected, campus tyranny will only grow. As Kors and Silverglate have written, “It is a tyranny that seeks to assert absolute control over the souls, the consciences, and the individuality of our students—in short, a tyranny over the essence of liberty itself.”

Note: You can obtain a copy of the FIRE Guide to Religious Liberty on Campus by clicking on this link.

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.

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

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