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UNC Study Shows Enormity of Abortion’s Impact on Public Health, Minorities

Study included abortion in nation’s mortality statistics

By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D., NRL Director of Education & Research

OJPM5Public health statistics do not, as a rule, take account of the unborn lives lost to abortion when calculating mortality. A team of researchers from the University of North Carolina has challenged this omission and published a paper examining just how much the correction of this omission would change our perceptions of America’s most preventable health crises.

The consequences are enormous, across the board, but the impact is absolutely devastating on black and Hispanic communities. When one considers not only the lives, but the years lost, the loss is staggering.

Something missing from death stats

The paper, “Induced Abortion, Mortality, and the Conduct of Science” was written by James Studnicki, Sharon J. Mackinnon, and John W. Fisher and was published in the June 2016 online edition of the Open Journal of Preventive Medicine.

It starts with a statement both bold and obvious: “There is no credible scientific opposition to the fact that a new genetically distinct human organism begins with fertilization and that, simply stated, human life begins at conception.” The authors then affirm that, barring natural fetal losses (e.g., miscarriage), “conception usually results in a live birth.”

Given that, the authors draw the logical conclusion that abortion results in a human death.

Despite this undeniable truth, these deaths are not counted in the nation’s mortality statistics. When added back in, some astounding conclusions are revealed.

Research the major causes of death in the United States for 2009, as the authors did, and you will find that the top two causes are “diseases of the heart,” which accounted for 599,413 deaths, followed closely by “malignant neoplasms” (cancerous tumors) at 567,628.

Not surprisingly, cancer and heart disease are considered major health concerns, and with good reason.

But when one considers abortion as a cause, it is almost equivalent to the government’s top two causes combined! Using estimates for 2009 from the Guttmacher Institute, Studnicki and colleagues calculate that the 1,152,000 deaths from abortion easily make it the nation’s leading cause of death, responsible, when added back in, for almost a third (32.1%) of all the deaths recorded that year.

Abortion leading cause of death among minorities

While abortion has harmed society as a whole, the impact on minorities is even more significant.

As many pro-lifers know, abortion rates for minorities are considerably higher than they are for whites. Figures cited by authors from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), combined with data from Guttmacher, showed that 11.9% of non-Hispanic white pregnancies were aborted, 17.1% of Hispanic pregnancies, and 35.5% of those of non-Hispanic blacks.

Applied to the overall pregnancy figures, this translates into 383,000 abortions for whites, 252,000 abortions for Hispanics, and 445,000 abortions for blacks. Looked at in relation to other causes of death by race and ethnicity, this makes abortion responsible for 16.4% of white deaths–the third most significant cause behind heart disease and cancer. But abortion is by far the leading cause for Hispanics, responsible for 64% of deaths, and for blacks, at 61.1%– close to two out of every three deaths experienced by these communities.

Lost years as well as lives

The authors point out that much more is involved here than abortion simply increasing the numbers of deaths.

One of the reasons that mortality statistics are carefully collected and scrutinized is to determine how best to focus research and public resources. If cancer, heart disease, or the like constitute the leading preventable causes of death in the United States, it makes some sense to focus attention and funding on those conditions and diseases.

Another way researchers measure the impact of disease is to count not only the lives lost but the relative years lost. This calculates how many additional, potentially productive years of life people would have experienced if they had not succumbed to that particular malady.

“Years of potential life lost,” or YPPL, is the standard used by the NCHS, now pegged as “YYPL 75” to reflect the idea that 75 years is now closer to the average American’s longevity.

However, when abortion is considered and contrasted with other causes of death, the disparity is even more jaw-dropping.

For everyone in the U.S., cancer was responsible for nearly 4.4 million YPLL. Heart disease was responsible just over 3 million. All other remaining causes of death (accidental, homicide, diabetes, respiratory diseases, etc.) were responsible for only about 13 million YPLLs.

The calculations of these researchers on the years of potential life lost due to abortion? Even after subtracting for estimated “natural fetal losses” — a staggering 68.4 million years!

Minorities were hit the hardest. Of the 17.7 million YPLLs lost by Hispanics, nearly 15.5 million (or 87.4%) were due to abortion. Of the 29.4 million YPLLs lost by blacks, 25.4 million (or 86.5%) were from abortion.

The cost is extraordinarily high

No disease, no kind of violence comes close to having the impact on these communities that abortion does. Not only lives are lost, but years of creativity, productivity, and love.

Billions are spent to try to eradicate heart disease, to end cancer, to stop violence. To the extent we succeed and families enjoy a few more years with their loved ones, we all celebrate.

But if the figures are telling us that abortion is, by far, the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, wouldn’t the prevention of abortion represent one of the best possible uses of our time, resources, and efforts?

 

IS LIBERALISM A HERESY

FIRST THINGS    June/July 2016   —   IS LIBERALISM A HERESY?

Francesca Aran Murphy argues that liberalism
and a market economy are based on Christianity
.

The only viable vehicle of conservatism in modernity is a market-oriented liberalism that regards freedom within law as the means to the common good. Some religiously engaged conservative intellectuals cannot accept this. What drives their animus against the only workable form of conservatism in modernity? They cannot accept that this version of conservatism is at all conservative.

But how conservative is it to refuse to act in and through the givens of our historical moment? Is the paradox of liberalism as the way of being conservative too whimsical for conservatives to wrap their bookish noodles around? Could it be rationalist irritability with the irrationality of liberalism? Is the conservative affronted by liberal­ism’s vulgar historical success, like a Ph.D. student who cannot enjoy a popular movie? Is he like the teenager in Little Miss Sunshine, who cannot bear the boisterous eccentricity of his family? Does lib­eralism’s cheerful, can-do lack of a rational founda­tion drive the conservative into dark Nietzschean foreboding? Does he share the Marxist’s contempt for the bourgeoisie who are at home in the market economy? Is he too logical to be persuaded that the only human beings who actually and historically ex­ist are individual persons?

The fact remains: For at least two generations now, the most politically effective conservatism in the West has largely been a conservative liberalism. This political success has not been accidental. As a social, political, and economic form of life, liberal modernity does justice to important truths about the human person.

At the origins of modernity lie the market economies of late medieval Europe. A mixture of the rule of law and respect for personal freedom enabled market economies to emerge. People readily took to the roles of buyers and sellers of goods, be­cause buying and selling involves the kind of role-play in which human beings flourish. The market econ­omy involves an exchange of goods in which both parties benefit. The seller trades his goods for what he really wants, payment, and the buyer hands over his money for what he really wants, the goods. Because they obtain what they desire, both buyer and seller gain more than they give. Appealing as that may be, market exchange has a still greater allure. However well-meaning the administrator, we would exchange an administered life for the tension of auctions, the drama of negotiations, and the stratagems of the salesman that test our self-discipline. Buying and sell­ing became a driving force and expressive feature of modern societies, because the clever play of conceal­ment and exposure through language and gesture it entails fits our social, dramatic natures like a glove.

Modern philosophers reflected upon modern eco­nomic practice. Kant, Fichte, Hegel, and Schelling took homo economicus to be “humanity” as such. They rightly drew the lesson that human beings are made for praxis, for action, and for dramatic role-playing. But these bookish philosophers were not men of action themselves. In their recoil from the sheer inscrutability of the free play of market exchange, they exaggerated the fact that exchange involves competition for marginal advantage. They mytholo­gized this into a conception of human culture as a life-and-death struggle, and reinterpreted the role-playing in free-market exchange as competition. That hypes up role-play into a battle of wills. According to them, the marketplace trains us to think of life in terms of winners and losers, masters and slaves.

In all of this we find part truth, part Gnostic fantasy. On the one side, our exercise of freedom in the particularity of daily life makes us enigmatic to others. A market society is built around this relative inscrutability. Whether the exchange takes place at the local fish stall or in large-scale transactions of complex financial instruments executed by comput­ers, buyers and sellers play their parts. Each seeks to take advantage of an exchange, wanting as much as possible without scuttling the deal by eliminating any benefit for others. Human nature is expressed in this serious play of exchange—the brinksmanship of negotiation, the uncertainties of market conditions—which liberal philosophies capture in their emphasis on freedom and its drama.

Yet the marketplace and our roles in it look like a Gnostic melodrama when the play of exchange is inflated into a metaphysical drama rather than a hu­man one. A German idealist like Schelling pictures God-and-humanity as the single “playwright.” The struggle to get the best deal on day-old bread becomes the engine of human history. For Hegel, God storms through history in the guise of strug­gling and ascendant human desire. Sellers seek to incite desires in buyers. Seventeenth-century vendors during the tulip mania in Holland asked, how can one do without the exotic tulip bulbs? Buyers seek to satisfy their aroused desires, often for goods they never even knew they wanted. This pattern of desire evoked is the fuel of a market economy. Hegel inter­prets the open-ended nature of our market desires as a metaphysical desire for divinization. He made the further assumption that we play for keeps, and thus the market game of angling for advantage becomes the struggle for mastery, which is the world’s story.

For two centuries, Christians have quarreled over how to deal with the mixture of imagi­native half-truths, philosophical errors, and Gnostic heresies that make up modern phi­losophy. Between Vatican I and Vatican II, Catholics tried to sort things out and develop a philo­sophically cogent and spiritually sound approach to modernity in two different ways. Fortified by Thomis­tic encyclicals from Pope Leo XIII, Thomists thought that the way forward required a rejection of liberal philosophies and a revival of the premodern philoso­phy of Thomas Aquinas. They assembled a litany of errors that they ascribed to liberalism: making man the major of all things, exalting will over cognition, denying are created nature and more. . . .  (Pages 39&40)

Article concludes on Page 45 with the following paragraphs:

. . . Do we encourage liberalism to remember its birth in a market economy that drew ordinary people into habits of free action for the sake of satisfying desires, or do we anathematize it for itself self-caricature as a Gnostic capitalist heresy? . . .

Liberalism is no heresy, and the market ex­change from which it emerges does not sin against the light. It is a healthy byproduct of Christianity, and the only means by which Christians can fight Marxist-capitalism, that stage-managed freedom in which the benevolent will of the powerful consults reason, discerns what people “truly” need and want, and then superintends over and administers the al­ways vulnerable freedom of ordinary people. If one were searching for Gnostic heresies, surely this tech­nocratic political economy, which is very much with us today, is a good candidate for anathema. RR

Francesca Aran Murphy is a senior fellow at FIRST THINGS.

First Things,  June /July, pages 39-45.

 

PUBLIC SQUARE — PERMANENCE FOR MARRIAGE

Family and faith. These are two powerful ways of belonging, one natural, and the other supernatu­ral. But they, too, are weakened by the dissolving forces of our time. Pope Francis’s recent Apos­tolic Exhortation on the Family, Amoris Laetitia, represents an effort to combat this trend. The document affirms many aspects of the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage, including permanence. But it also seeks to increase scope for pastoral discretion so that those in “ir­regular” situations can participate as fully as possible in the Church’s sacramental life.

The effort to be more pastoral characterizes this pa­pacy. Francis wants to emphasize the power of God’s love, even in circumstances when we’ve wavered, failed, and fallen. Unfortunately, Amoris Laetitia participates in the dissolving trends of our times rather than resisting them. This is an unwitting complicity, no doubt. But we can see it in the way in which the exhortation turns marriage into something we aspire to rather than a sacramental reality we can rely on. The Church seems to become a plastic instrument of mercy, not a stable anchor.

When the document was released, journalists fixed on chapter eight, “Accompanying, Discerning and Integrating Weakness.” There, Francis takes up the controversial ques­tion of whether those in “irregular” situations can receive Communion, including those who have been civilly di­vorced and remarried, but have not received an annulment.

There’s been lots of commentary on just what is implied in the often technical and sometimes muddy verbiage of the chapter. Canon lawyers and moral theologians have parsed what Francis has written in different ways. But one thing is clear: Francis makes an ill-considered conceptual move. In order to create an atmosphere of flexibility and welcome, he speaks of marriage as an “ideal” rather than a sacramental reality.

This approach makes permanence itself into an ideal. Divorce betrays this, of course. As Francis writes, “It must remain clear that this is not the ideal which the Gospel proposes for marriage and family.” Moreover, “In no way must the Church desist from proposing the full ideal of marriage, God’s plan in all its grandeur.”

These seem like decisive affirmations, but they’re not. Remarrying after divorce is an “objective situation” that the Church teaches is an impediment to the reception of Communion. The reasoning is straightforward. The Church does not recognize civil divorce, and therefore regards the first marriage as ongoing. Thus the second marriage (without an annulment) isn’t a marriage at all, but instead an adulterous relationship.

To avoid this summary judgment based on the “objec­tive situation” of divorce and remarriage, Francis implies that what really matters is the “ideal.” The driving ques­tions become subjective, not objective. Divorced and re­married? Yes, that presents serious difficulties. But there is a way out (perhaps). Are you appropriately penitent for the past failure to live up to the “ideal,” and now newly committed to the “ideal” in a sincere way? A person’s conscientious discernment of the answer to that question, Francis suggests, is what’s important. One’s relation to the “ideal,” determined in “conversation with the priest,” can open the way to further discernment about “what hin­ders full participation in the life of the Church and [about] what steps can foster it and make it grow.”

Will this process of self-examination mean that di­vorced and remarried Catholics will receive Communion in some circumstances? The debate goes on, and it’s an important one. Yet I find myself concluding that the most important dimension of Amoris Laetitia is found in the fact that Francis adopts and affirms what most of us now experience. This is not helpful. In our culture of divorce, permanence is only a distant ideal to which we can aspire. Marriage is no longer a trustworthy institution we can rely on.

What’s true for marriage is true for a great deal of our experience. We suffer an increasingly atomized, fluid, and vul­nerable existence, because we lack in­stitutions we can trust. We have plenty of ideals, some quite noble. But we have very few stable places to stand and little in the way of reliable permanence.

At one point, Francis writes about “the values of the Gospel.” One understands why. Values-talk is popular these days. It’s a way of signaling moral aspiration with­out focusing on the troublesome “thou shalt not’s.” Along with ideals, “values” allow us to imagine a moral outlook without law, moral failure without shame, and moral dis­cernment without negative judgments.

Which is why our therapeutic age is awash with ide­als and values. They’re in university mission statements. Corporations proudly tout their values, and “ideal­ism” becomes a marketing tool. Buy these shoes or that toothpaste, and Company X will make a contribution to eradicate polio, plant a tree, or bring Internet connections to Africa. It’s a dangerous misstep for Christianity to get into the business of marketing ideals and values.

Parmenides was one of the Greek thinkers who flour­ished before Socrates. His philosophical task was revealed to him when the goddess Justice whispered into his ear, “Cling to that which is and cannot not be.” “Unite your­self with permanence” was her message. That’s precisely what a man and a woman seek when they make their wedding vows. They desire a covenant that is, and can­not not be.

This desire is for a reality, not an ideal. For this reason, the Church’s teaching on marriage, strict though it may be by the standards of our time, is good news, a gospel in a way ideals and values can never be. We’re finite creatures, often sabotaged by our own deformed desires and bad choices, and always vulnerable to suffering and death. The sacrament of marriage anchors us, fusing our fragile lives to something that will not be eroded, will not fail us or betray us, even if we betray it. To refuse divorce, as the Catholic Church has done, is to reassure us that permanence in mar­riage is not an elusive ideal, but an accessible reality.

Francis misjudges our era. He seems to think we’re enclosed within rigid institutions and beaten down by legalistic systems. To my mind, the situ­ation is otherwise. We live in a dissolving era. The problem is not that divorce is judged harshly. It’s that young people experience marriage as a fragile institu­tion, one incapable of protecting them from the relentless flux of life.

This is part of life without a reliable inheritance. Few institutions are trustworthy today. The endless flow of power and money rules in our fluid world. Whatever per­manence is possible now depends upon steadfast personal commitments—a terrible burden for anyone with enough self-knowledge to recognize the unreliability of our fallen nature. It’s a sad irony that Francis gravitates toward no­tions such as “ideals” and “values.” They’re part of the contemporary toolkit for dissolving permanent truths. They serve the master-ideal of our time: the solitary in­dividual navigating on his own toward goals of his own.

St. Augustine observed that we’re all pilgrims in this world, journeying toward our home in heaven. But he did not think us alone and homeless. In Christ, God was made man, not an ideal. His sacraments make real what they sig­nify; they do not symbolize values. His Church is an “objec­tive situation,” a civitas with her own cult, rites, and laws.

Pope Francis speaks often and eloquently about “accom­paniment.” As so many other institutions weaken in our dissolving age, the Church’s greatest gift is to accompany us with a stubborn givenness, an inflexible permanence. Rusty R. Reno.

First Things, June/July Issue, pages 6-7.

“Food for thought as we work our way through gaining an insight into mercy, in this year of Mercy.” Editor’s Note.

FAITH IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE – Rusty Reno on Russell Moore

1. Article:  Fairth In The Public Square

2. Article:  COUNTRY’S CORE ISSUE

 

FIRST THINGS April 2016RoseIII

1. Faith in the Public Square

Russell Moore has written a very good book. Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel seeks to orient us in the changing culture of twenty-first-century America. It’s written with the folksy verve of a very good Southern Baptist preacher, which Moore is. I can’t count the number of memorable sentences I underlined. After a thoughtful analysis of the fatal temptation to confuse God’s Kingdom with the United States of America: “Jesus promised those who overcome a crown of life. But he never said anything about a ‘God and country’ badge.” On put­ting political power ahead of Gospel truth: “It would be a tragedy to get the right president, the right Congress, and the wrong Christ.”

Onward is more than mellifluous; it’s also astute about the moment in which we live and the kind of Church we need to become. Moore’s analysis has a strong critical thrust. Again and again he observes that the days are over when Christians could imagine themselves at the center of a “Christian nation.”

Moore emphasizes our post-Christian cultural context because he’s a son of Biloxi, Mississippi, which was once part of the Bible Belt, that wide swath of God-haunted America that runs from West Virginia to Texas. In those communities, being Christian and being an upstanding American citizen often seemed fused together. As Moore points out, this can make us complacent “have-it-all” Christians who want to follow Christ while fitting in with mainstream culture. The problem is that this can tempt us to dilute the Gospel so that we can remain “normal.”

The Moral Majority approach tried to solve the problem by “taking back” the mainstream culture through political action. Moore thinks that project failed. The bad news is that this failure has made America increasingly post-Christian. That’s as true in the Bible Belt as elsewhere, as he illustrates with vivid anecdotes. The good news is that we can no longer fool ourselves. We’ve got to make a choice. Will we live according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ or the gospel of the American way of life?

By Moore’s reckoning, this is a renewing choice. It pro­vides us with the opportunity to rediscover the power of the Christian message. The choice also winnows. He re­ports that Evangelical churches are undergoing “a mirror image of the Rapture.” Nominal Christians are vanishing from the pews, and those who choose to be defined by the Christian Gospel rather than “Christian America” are “left behind.” This clarification will not weaken Christian engagement and influence in American public life; it will strengthen it. A post-Christian context is a forcing ground: “Once Christianity is no longer seen as part and parcel of patriotism, the church must offer more than ‘What would Jesus do?’ moralism and ‘I vote values’ populism to which we’ve grown accustomed. Good.”

Moore fleshes out the “more.” He argues for an expan­sive understanding of our duty to defend human dignity. It includes a wide range of efforts on behalf of the weak and vulnerable. We should attend to the needs of the poor, migrants, the disabled, and the homeless, as well as the unborn. To be pro-life is to be whole-life, to paraphrase one of his lapidary formulations. But Moore avoids a fac­ile “seamless garment” approach. Defending the lives of the innocent, especially the unborn whom our legal cul­ture has abandoned, is the foundation of a culture of life. Without a pro-life commitment, no “whole-life” stance can endure.

His treatment of religious liberty and freedom of con­science draws upon the Baptist tradition. From its incep­tion it recognized the dangers that flow from too close a connection between religious authority and civil authority. Moore provides theological justification for our constitu­tional principles of non-establishment and free exercise. But he draws attention to a deeper truth about religious freedom: Our greatest freedom comes from the strength of our faith in God, not by way of rights given to us by constitutions. The freedom of the martyrs is the founda­tion of the Church’s freedom.

Sex, marriage, and family are today’s battlegrounds. They’re the reason why we’re arguing over religious lib­erty. They’re the reason our society ignores the claims of the unborn. There are moral arguments to be made, and they should be made. But at root these battles are spiritual, not merely moral, as Moore helpfully reminds us. Far from being a liability, the Bible’s countercultural sexual ethic and theology of marriage may end up being the Church’s greatest tool of evangelization. The day is coming when more and more people damaged by the sexual revolution’s false promises will seek a gospel promise they can trust.

Onward suggests a sober rethinking of pub­lic engagement by conservative American Protestants, one that moves in the direc­tion outlined by Stanley Hauerwas over the last four decades. Put succinctly, Hauerwas has argued that the Church fails to leaven society when it poses as culture’s friendly chaplain, because in that role it gets coopted. The same is true when the Church poses as culture’s stern, disciplining chaplain, which is, perhaps, a way to sum up Moore’s appraisal of the Moral Majority’s approach to influencing society at large.

Hauerwas’s genius was to see that living a faithful Christian life explodes the pretensions of the world. Going against the grain—as sojourners or pilgrims, to use the bib­lical image—is a public statement that does more to shape the future of American society than “cultural engagement.” Moore’s insight is similar. He points out, rightly, that we can fix too much attention on discussions about how to get cultural leverage. We forget that, in a society in which aborting Down syndrome children is taken for granted, pastoring a Church that forms Christian parents to wel­come them is a powerful way to claim cultural territory.

Unlike many who recognize the de-Christianizing main­stream culture, Moore does not shy away from the culture wars. As he knows, we can’t avoid them. Secular progres­sives wish to conquer all the territory in American society. That means they cannot help but battle with Christ-formed communities for our spiritual loyalty. The battle is coming to us, even if church leaders wish to avoid controversy. We see this in the contraceptive mandate and gay marriage. Here Moore is admirably clear. The Moral Majority may no longer show the way to stand for what we believe in public life. But stand we must. “If we do not surrender to the spirit of the age—and we must not—we will be thought to be culture warriors. So be it. Let’s be Christ-shaped, Kingdom-first culture warriors.” Amen. – Rusty Reno           Pages 6-7.

(The preceding article which appears in the April 2016 Issue of First Things is the author’s rationale which makes clear how and why we have come to the conclusions about a number of issues such as Secularism,  the loss of a Christian-based society upon which our Constitution was founded, marriage of same sex couples, the black eye which has been administered in our culture to rule out religion and the values which our Constitution was based upon and the stalemate in our political system, not to mention the establishment of individualism in place of the common good in our social systems, nevertheless you may want to become a bit more real by reading the other articles  (2) which I recommend to you.)   — Pinionmarc.com

 

2. FIRST THINGS COLUMNIST RECOGNIZES COUNTRY’S CORE ISSUE

Of all our major columnists, Peggy Noonan has thought the most deeply about the anti-establishment sentiments roiling our political culture. In last week’s column, “How Global Elites Forsake Their Countrymen,” she puts her finger on the central issue. Ordinary people in Germany, Great Britain, France, America, and elsewhere aren’t just experiencing the dislocations of economic globalization. They’re not simply responding to cultural change, which is often driven by immigration. They’re losing their trust in those who rule them.

As Noonan puts it, over the last generation there has been “a kind of historic decoupling between the top and the bottom in the West that did not, in more moderate recent times, exist.” Those at the top of society no longer share the interests of those less fortunate. “At its heart it is not only a detachment from, but a lack of interest in, the lives of your countrymen, of those who are not at the table, and who understand that they’ve been abandoned by their leaders’ selfishness and mad virtue-signaling.”

I’ve written about this phenomenon in the American context. It’s striking how often our leadership, both right and left, punches down. Conservatives call half of Americans “takers.” Liberals call them “bigots.” I can’t count the number of columns Bret Stephens has written in the last six months expressing his unqualified horror over the ignorance and stupidity of the Republican voters who have the temerity to reject the political wisdom of their betters.

Noonan admits she hasn’t quite gotten her mind around this decoupling of the leaders from the led. I, too, am struggling to understand. It’s odd, as Noonan says, “that our elites have abandoned or are abandoning the idea that they belong to a country, that they have ties that bring responsibilities, that they should feel loyalty to their people or, at the very least, a grounded respect.”

Viewed humanly, yes, it is odd. We have a need to belong. Loyalty is a natural human impulse. But a recent book by international economist Branko Milanovic, Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization, has helped me grasp some of the underlying forces that are driving the leaders away from the led.

Milanovic draws attention to an “elephant graph,” so called because it looks like the hulking body of an elephant raising its trunk. On the horizontal axis, we see global income distribution. The citizens of very poor countries are at the elephant’s back end. Their median income is quite low. Those on the trunk-end of the elephant are the citizens of developed countries. The vertical axis charts the rate of growth of incomes. Here we see a very telling story. Emerging economies have given birth to a new middle class that has experienced rapid income growth. Meanwhile, the rich world is diverging. Middle-class wage growth is stagnant in the globalized economy, while the well-to-do have seen great gains.

Much of the story this graph tells is well known. We’ve heard a great deal about income inequality in recent years. But seeing the whole world at a glance shows something more. Those whom Noonan called “the protected,” which is to say the rich and powerful in the West, share with the rising middle class in the developing world a remarkable harmony of interests. Both cohorts benefit from the new global system. By contrast, in the West, the middle class is losing ground.

In short, the global system—which is committed to the free flow of labor, goods, and capital—works well for the leadership class in Europe and North America, as it does for striving workers in China, India, and elsewhere. It doesn’t work so well for the middle class in the West. Thus, in the West, the led no longer share the economic interests of their leaders.

It’s natural, therefore, to see a decoupling. We’re fallen human beings. We often develop convictions that conveniently correspond to our interests. When it comes to the rising nationalism in Europe, elites there see as much. They don’t interpret the striking new support for right-wing parties as expressions of patriotic fervor, but instead see patriotic rhetoric as a front for, at best, economic frustration, but more often racism and xenophobia.

What elites don’t see is how their own interests are dressed up as cosmopolitan idealism. Noonan points out that German elites compliment themselves on the moral rectitude of Angela Merkel’s decision to admit a million Muslim migrants. True, but they’re also insulated from the consequences. And more than insulated, they stand to benefit from lower labor costs.

Over time, the elephant graph predicts large-scale changes in democratic politics in the West. Elites now have a strong interest in weakening the nation-state, and thus diminishing the power of the voters to whom they are accountable. A radical ideology of open borders is one way to do that. Another way is to increase the power of international human rights tribunals. In a decade’s time I can easily imagine rulings that override national majorities that are deemed “unprogressive.”

But I need not evoke the future. For at least a generation, America’s most elite colleges and universities have explicitly refashioned themselves as global institutions. By implication, they are no longer accountable to America’s national interest. Their mission is more noble: the world’s interest. The same dynamic gets repeated in the corporate world. Silicon Valley answers to the world, not to America.

What goes unnoticed is the fact that a global mission provides reasons to discount the concerns of non-elites in America. Convenient theories about the inherent racism of ordinary people nicely discredit their opinions. The critical fire of a plastic, easily manipulated multi-culturalism can be trained this way or that to degrade patriotic loyalties. Meanwhile, a strict utilitarianism tells us citizenship is a construct designed to secure “rents.” Ordinary people feel abandoned and frustration builds, driving today’s populism.

Noonan is right. The decoupling of the leaders and the “led” is “something big.” The economic forces driving this decoupling are powerful. The ideological supports—a morally superior cosmopolitanism, a flexible multi-culturalism, and now dominant utilitarian thinking—are strong. As I’ve written elsewhere, odds are good that the democratic era will come to an end. The elephant chart suggests the future will be one of empire.

  1. R. Reno is editor of First Things.

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Pope Francis – “Amoris Laetitia” – Exhortation On the Family

 

Pope Francis’ Exhortation on the Family an ‘Organic Development of Doctrine’

When I talk with friends about Pope Francis and issues in the church, a common question asked in is “Why doesn’t he just change doctrine?”.  I think it pretty safe to say that the man values his life and also that of the unity of the church…..nuff said.  This article I think explains very well what PF was doing in writing his recent Apostolic Exhortation in the way that he did, which I describe as “pushing the envelope” of what the Synod in the fall of 2015 came up with, especially the German language small group, emphasizing the role of discernment.  And discernment plays a large role in what Francis has done with this document.  He is a Jesuit, after all ,and that is a hallmark of their spirituality.  Francis knows that changing the doctrine of the church would be a dicey proposition.  He is also a man who begins processes and values what a process can do.  He is not personally invested in a process such that he needs to see the result.  He knows that the history of almost all of the doctrine of the church really does come out of the lived experience of the faith of, as he says, “God’s holy faithful people”.  That is what this article is referring to as “organic development”.  I see a lot of hope in this.  PF knows that if he can just tip the scale of the balance between pastoral practice and doctrine a little bit towards the pastoral practice side, the lived faith for many people will change and ultimately doctrine will change.  Yes, processes take time but a process like this effects exchange that is hard for some future pope to undo.  When I hear the word “organic” I think of a well-rooted healthy plant, maybe even one slightly aggressive as far as some “gardeners” are concerned, especially those who are in high places in the church, a plant that they would have a hard time uprooting…..reyanna

By Gerald O’Connell            April 8, 2016                         America Magazine on-line

At a Vatican press conference to present Pope Francis’ new exhortation on the family, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn said there is “an organic development of doctrine” in “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”) when compared to a similar text, “Familiaris Consortio,” written by St. John Paul II after the 1980 Synod on the Family.

The archbishop of Vienna’s words are highly significant, since he is considered an authority in such matters. He is one of the theological heavyweights in the College of Cardinals, was chief editor of theCatechism of the Catholic Church, is very close to Benedict XVI and played an important role in the 2014 and 2015 synod of bishops. For all these reasons, Francis chose him, and not Cardinal Ludwig Müller, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to present his post-synodal exhortation on the family to the international media.

His statement on the development of doctrine came in response to a question as to whether paragraph No. 84 of “Familiaris Consortio” is still valid given that in footnote No. 351 of “Amoris Laetitia,”

Amoris laetitia–The Joy of Love

If you would like to access the official translation of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of Love, click on the link below.  The document is lengthy to print out at home, although I did so.  I had a stack of paper almost 2 ½ inches high!  It should be available in bookstores soon and is available for ordering online now.  I posted the link here so that you can begin to read the document now especially in relation to all of the news stories and sound bytes that have come out about it.  My advice to you is to read the document in fall and Pope Francis’ advice in the document is to take your time to read it.  Chapter four I found especially profound.   This chapter is a meditation on the famous First Corinthians passage on love and his own thoughts on love.  For an almost 80 year old celibate male he doesn’t do badly in explaining human love and sexuality, yes, sexuality and, speaking from 40 years of married life, he explains the birds and bees in married life quit well…..reyanna

Amoris laetitia link, click HERE

CELEBRATE INDEPENDENCE EVERY DAY, POPE FRANCES

 

 

MtRushmore

 with the Bishops of the United States,
 let us pray for the continued freedom to bear witness,
 keeping particularly in our hearts those Christians throughout the world who continue to be martyred for love of Christ.
Let us remember that freedom is a gift
 from our Creator that calls us to
vigilance, responsibility, and service to our neighbor.

 

 

Be free people! What do I mean? Perhaps it is thought that freedom means doing everything one likes, or seeing how far one can go…. This is not freedom. Freedom means being able to think about what we do, being able to assess what is good and what is bad, these are the types of conduct that lead to development; it means always opting for the good. Let us be free for goodness. 

And in this do not be afraid to go against the tide, even if it is not easy! Always being free to choose goodness is demanding, but it will make you into people with a backbone who can face life, people with courage and patience…. 

Be men and women with others and for others: true champions at the service of others.

 

-Pope Francis
Happy 4th of July!

 

Thomas More Law Center
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HAPPY 4th of July

The Fourth of July—America’s Independence Day—is a joyous time to celebrate with family and friends.

John Adams, a Founding Father and our second President, wrote that Independence Day,

“…ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illumination, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

As you celebrate the Fourth of July weekend, please remember —

The Price of Freedom.

Take the time to honor the sacrifices for our freedom made by our fighting men and women throughout our history — From Lexington and Valley Forge, to Iraq and Afghanistan — and today, by our Special Forces in harm’s way in places known and unknown.

On behalf of all the Thomas More Law Center staff, I wish you a safe and happy Independence Day weekend.

God Bless America.

Sincerely yours,

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From the Desk of Richard Thompson
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A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America — By Ian Dowbiggin

By Dave Andrusko

Editor’s note. I reviewed Prof. Dowbiggin’s remarkable book for the National Catholic Register way back in September 2003. “Success” for euthanasia proponents was very limited at that point. Since then, however, they have enjoyed a number of victories, especially in the Netherlands and Belgium and, more recently, Canada.

I am hoping by the end of the day to obtain permission to reprint a withering letter to the editor Prof. Dowbiggin wrote to a Canadian newspaper to rebut a scurrilous attack which, ironically, proved that Prof. Dowbiggin’s “slippery slope” was 100% accurate.

mercifulendbookDo not be thrown by the off-putting title. Professor Ian Dowbiggin’s book is not only a carefully researched and scrupulously fair-minded treatise, but it’s also a highly engaging read. It functions as both a social-science lesson and as a cautionary tale of what happens when “reformers” convince themselves they’ve discovered a formula for pure utopian bliss.

Though short, A Merciful End comprehensively traces the twists and turns primarily of the Euthanasia Society of America. While euthanasia proponents often trimmed their sails to the prevailing winds, the destination for many, if not most, has remained constant: active euthanasia for the willing and in certain circumstances, the unwilling. (The “distinction” to many euthanasia supporters, Dowbiggin writes ominously, “was incidental.”)

The book explodes the myth “that the modern euthanasia movement began only in the 1960s and 1970s with the introduction of life-prolonging medical technology, the decline of the doctor-patient relationship, the rise of the ‘rights culture,’ medicine’s inept handling of end-of-life care and the AIDS epidemic.”

In fact its roots go back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Support for euthanasia was frequently a package deal for members of the avant garde. In Dowbiggin’s words, euthanasia “was a critical component of a broad reform agenda designed to emancipate society from anachronistic and ultimately unhealthy ideas about sex, birth and death.”

We forget how many prominent Americans were supporters of euthanasia and (frequently) its ideological twin sister, eugenics. “Progressives” all, they believed passionately that death would be the “last taboo to fall in the struggle to free Americans from what birth control activist Margaret Sanger, herself an ESA member, called ‘biological slavery.’”

Greasing the skids for euthanasia was the embrace of eugenics — “evolution in a hurry” to many supporters. With a childlike faith in science and technocratic expertise, eugenicists were supremely confident the human race could be perfected through selective sterilization and euthanasia.

The idea of “improving the race” served the interests of the euthanasia movement well until discredited by the Nazis. And while Dowbiggin cautions about “playing the Nazi card,” the similarities in language can be striking.

Until recently, the center of gravity for the euthanasia movement in the United States was Manhattan. Elitist to the core, its membership strongly supported active euthanasia: direct killing and physician-assisted suicide.

But the Euthanasia Society of America and kindred organizations made minimal headway until retooling and softening their message in the late ’60s. By repacking their pitch as a “right to die” issue, they capitalized on our culture’s obsession with individual rights and “choice,” which first took hold in that decade. Rejecting “unwanted treatment” combined an appeal to individual decision making with a fear of an insensitive medical bureaucracy.

From the beginning people of faith and, especially the Catholic Church, were seen by the euthanasia movement as primary opponents. Such people, they complained, exerted a “stranglehold of tradition and religious dogma” that, they decided, had to be broken. What euthanasia proponents may not have anticipated was the virtually uniform opposition of the Disability Rights Community.

A Merciful End offers two explanations for the very limited “success” of the American euthanasia movement. One is a bitter division between the “radicals” and the “moderates” within the euthanasia movement. The other is the rise of a broad-based coalition that came to include the pro-life movement and disability-rights activists. This resistance was aided immeasurably by a 1994 report by the New York State Task Force on Life and the Law, an out-of-control Jack Kevorkian and a unanimous 1997 Supreme Court decision that found no right to assisted suicide in the Constitution. And in the last decade, there has been a stunning turnaround with far greater attention paid to pain relief, palliative care and hospice treatment.

These much-needed reforms have changed the chemistry of the debate and offer reason for hope. The same might be said of Dowbiggin’s book.

ABANDONMENT IS MOST SERIOUS ILLNESS OF ELDERLY

Do Not Abandon the Elderly
 Last week in Rome Pope Francis spoke to the Pontifical Academy of Life about the vital role of providing palliative care for the elderly. The Holy Father said, “[A]bandonment is the most serious illness of the elderly and also the greatest injustice they can suffer. Those who helped us to grow must not be abandoned when they need our help, our love, and our tenderness.”Palliative care, the Holy Father observed, alleviates the suffering of the sick and accompanies the elderly with tenderness for the duration of their illness. What palliative care offers in the medical field is the recognition of “the value of the person.”

He noted that many elderly are either “left to die or made to die” due to their physical or social condition. The Holy Father said the criteria governing the actions of doctors must not be limited to medical evidence and efficiency, nor to the rules of heath-care systems and economic profit. “A state cannot think of making a profit with medicine. On the contrary, there is no more important duty for a society than safeguarding the human person,” Francis said.

Palliative care then, bears witness that the human person always has value, even when suffering from age and illness, the Pope continued. “[The human person] is a good in and of himself and for others and is loved by God. For this reason, when life becomes very fragile and the end of earthly existence approaches, we feel the responsibility to assist and accompany the person in the best way,” Francis said.

Francis stated that although this type of care is not geared toward saving lives, it centers on the equally important recognition of the value of the human person. He encouraged those working in the field to carry out their tasks with an attitude of service. “It is this capacity for service to the life and dignity of the sick, even when they are old, that is the measure of the true progress of medicine and of all society,” the Pope observed.

“The elderly, first of all, need the care of family members-whose affection cannot be replaced by the most efficient structures or the most competent and charitable health-care workers,” Francis said. He further stated, when family members are not able to offer the needed care or if the illness of their elderly loved one is advanced or terminal, then the “truly human” assistance offered by palliative care is a good option, so long as it “supplements and supports” the care already provided by family members.

Federal Lawsuit On Behalf of Marine Couple Banned from School Property After He Objected To Islamic Indoctrination Of Daughter

Thomas More Law Center Files Federal Lawsuit On Behalf of Marine Dad Banned from School Property After He Objected to Islamic Indoctrination of Daughter

The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, yesterday afternoon, filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of former Marine, John Kevin Wood, and his wife, Melissa, who refuse to allow their teenage daughter to be subjected to Islamic indoctrination and propaganda in her high school World History class.  The lawsuit was filed against the Charles County Public Schools, the Board of Education, and the Principal and Vice-Principal of La Plata High School located in La Plata, Maryland.

The Woods’ daughter was forced to profess and to write out the Shahada in worksheets and quizzes.  The Shahada is the Islamic Creed, “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”  For non-Muslims, reciting the statement is sufficient to convert one to Islam.  Moreover, the second part of the statement, “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah,” signifies the person has accepted Muhammad as their spiritual leader.  The teenager was also required to memorize and recite the Five Pillars of Islam.

Charles County Public Schools disparaged Christianity by teaching its 11th grade students, including the Woods’ daughter, that: “Most Muslims’ faith is stronger than the average Christian.”

The Charles County Public Schools also taught the following:

  • “Islam, at heart, is a peaceful
  • “To Muslims, Allah is the same God that is worshiped in Christianity and Judaism.”
  • The Koran states, “Men are the managers of the affairs of women” and “Righteous women are therefore obedient.”

Read the two exhibits containing Student worksheets here.

The sugarcoated version of Islam taught at La Plata High School did not mention that the Koran explicitly instructs Muslims “to kill the unbelievers wherever you find them.”  (Sura 9-5)

When John Kevin Wood discovered the Islamic propaganda and indoctrination of his daughter, he was rightfully outraged.  He immediately contacted the school to voice his objections and to obtain an alternative assignment for his daughter.

The Woods, as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and our Savior, that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, and that following the teachings of Jesus Christ is the only path to eternal salvation.  The Woods believe that it is a sin to profess commitment in word or writing to any god other than the Christian God.  Thus, they object to their daughter being forced to deny the Christian God and to her high school promoting Islam over other religions.

The school ultimately refused to allow the Woods’ daughter to opt-out of the assignments, forcing her to either violate her faith by pledging to Allah or receive zeros for the assignments.  Together, John Kevin Wood, Melissa Wood, and their daughter chose to remain faithful to God and refused to complete the assignments, even though failing grades would harm her future admission to college and her opportunities to obtain college scholarships.

Adding insult to injury, in an effort to silence all pro-Christian speech in her school, La Plata’s principal, without a hearing or any opportunity to refute the false allegations against him, issued a “No Trespass” notice against John Kevin Wood denying him any access to school grounds.

Wood served 8 years in the Marine Corps.  He was deployed in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and lost friends to Islamic extremists.  A few years later, Wood responded as a firefighter to the 9-11 Islamic terrorist attack on the Pentagon.  Wood witnessed firsthand the destruction created in the name of Allah and knows that Islam is not “a religion of peace.”  The school prevented John Kevin Wood from defending his daughter’s Christian beliefs against Islamic indoctrination, even though as a Marine, he stood in harm’s way to defend our nation, and the Charles County Public Schools.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, commented: “Defendants forced Wood’s daughter to disparage her Christian faith by reciting the Shahada, and acknowledging Mohammed as her spiritual leader. Her World History class spent one day on Christianity and two weeks immersed in Islam. Such discriminatory treatment of Christianity is an unconstitutional promotion of one religion over another.”

Thompson added, “The course also taught false statements such as “Allah is the same God worshipped by Christians, and Islam as a “religion of peace. Parents must be ever vigilant to the Islamic indoctrination of their children under the guise of teaching history and multiculturalism.  This is happening in public schools across the country.  And they must take action to stop it.”

The Woods’ lawsuit seeks a court declaration that Defendants violated their constitutional and statutory rights, a temporary and permanent injunction barring Defendants from endorsing Islam or favoring Islam over Christianity and other religions, and from enforcing the no trespassing order issued against John Kevin Wood.

News

Black Leaders Denounce Supreme Court’s Refusal to Hear Marriage Protection Cases – Vow to Fight On

On Monday, October 6th, the United States Supreme Court announced, without any explanation, that it would not review court of appeals cases which overturned state laws of five states defining marriage as exclusively the union of one man and one woman.   And on Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the traditional marriage laws of Idaho and Nevada.

Black Leaders Denounce Supreme Court's Refusal to Hear Marriage Protection Cases – Vow to Fight On

As a result of the decisions this week, 32 states are potentially forced to recognize so called “same-sex marriage” by edict of unelected federal judges holding life-time appointments.

Regardless of these legal setbacks, members of the National Coalition of Black Pastors and Christian Leaders, represented by the Thomas More Law Center, a public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, vow to fight on.

Coalition member, Pastor Danny Holliday, of Victory Baptist Church, Alton, IL commented: “Just as the Supreme was all wrong on slavery, which resulted in the Civil War, it is all wrong on legalizing same-sex marriage.  I have seen prayer removed from schools, Christmas Nativity Scenes removed from public property. I have watched as the words Merry Christmas have become taboo. I have watched the news as we were told that Courts have ruled that crosses were now illegal on Government property, many of them in place since the World Wars.”

Janet Boynes, Evangelist and author of “ARISE”, who is a former lesbian, also expressed disappointment in the Court’s ruling not to hear the cases, “It is a sad day when the Supreme Court, in its own way, comes out in support of gay marriage by refusing to hear our appeals.”

Minister Stacy Swimp of Revive Alive Missional Ministry, stated, The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the marriage protection appeals is both disappointing and alarming.  By its decision not to hear these cases, the Court appears to advance an anti-Christian agenda which in this case will ultimately lead to the disintegration of the family as ordained by God.”

Janet Boynes issued a warning to the nation: “The Generations to come will suffer the consequences of our poor choices. So many people are clueless about who they are and who God has created them to be. But, there is too much at stake for us to throw in the towel. We must rise up and fulfill the call that God has placed on us as a body of Christ. Our future as a nation depends on it!”

At a September 23, 2014 press conference, the Thomas More Law Center revealed a national legal strategy to combat the slew of federal court rulings which have overturned state laws defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

The Law Center formed a team of lawyers to file friend-of-the-court briefs (amicus briefs) throughout the nation in support of traditional marriage on behalf of the National Coalition of Black Pastors and Christian leaders.  The Law Center’s briefs reflect the view of a majority of African-Americans: that discrimination because of one’s sexual preference is not the same thing as racial discrimination and that tradition and morality should not be discarded as a basis of the law; as the pro-homosexual judges have done in their opinions.

Despite the recent court rulings, the Thomas More Law Center will continue to file amicus briefs in significant cases concerning the definition of marriage in order to convey the unique voice of the African-American Christian community on this issue crucial to the survival of our families, culture, and nation.

Thus far, the Thomas More Law Center has filed 2 amicus briefs on behalf of the Coalition involving petitions for review in the US Supreme Court: Herbert v. Kitchen, an appeal of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturning Utah’s law defining traditional marriage and Rainey v. Bostic, an appeal of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturning Virginia’s law defining traditional marriage.  The Supreme Court denied review in both those cases.

The Law Center also filed an amicus brief in Deboer v. Snyder, an appeal of a Detroit federal court decision overturning Michigan’s law on traditional marriage.  That case is awaiting a ruling from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Law Center is also planning to file an amicus brief in the Louisiana case of Robicheaux v. Caldwell, currently on its way to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

On the Passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, February 15, 2016

 

Thomas More Law Center President’s Blog
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From the Desk of Richard Thompson

We Join the Nation in Mourning the Passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

The Thomas More Law Center joins the nation in mourning the loss of a great American, defender of our Constitution and a devout Christian — Antonin Scalia. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Maureen, and his family. May he rest in peace.

In a speech to the Knights of Columbus several years ago he said:

“If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.”

“God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools … and he has not been disappointed.”

Justice Scalia stayed true to his sworn duty to uphold the Constitution despite the political winds of the moment.  On many occasions he did so with provocatively expressed legal arguments which earned him the respect of political conservatives and the enmity of the liberal legal establishment.

One of his greatest dissents was in the recent 2015 Supreme Court opinion, Obergfell v. Hodges, making same–sex marriages a constitutional right.

  • “I write separately to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy.”
  • “Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court.”
  • “This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.”
  • “This is a naked judicial claim to legislative—indeed, super-legislative—power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government.
  • “A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.”
  • “[T]o allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation.”
  • “[W]hat really astounds is the hubris reflected in today’s judicial Putsch.”
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