Wednesday, September 2, 2015

What can we do about abortion? Support pro-life candidates and causes.

Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words. Practice what you preach.
We've all heard these idioms before, pointing us to these parallel principles: You must "do" something to change something, and everyone hates a hypocrite. Both admonitions were joined nicely in an email I recently received from a reader who took issue with my pro-life views: "Who's going to take care of those unwanted kids if abortion is outlawed? What have you ever done for unwed mothers? You're not pro-life. You're just pro-birth."
While diluted by his irrational defense of abortion because of whatever quality of life awaits the unborn (a twisted yet popular justification for the practice), the man made a point that all pro-life advocates should heed: What have we done – materially speaking – to help end abortion?
In the weeks since the Center for Medical Progress began releasing hidden videos exposing the horrors of Planned Parenthood, I have offered several suggestions on how to proceed. Praying, for starters, then raising pro-life children to slowly but surely steer our society away from this horror. But among the other things we must do – and right now – is to financially support pro-life candidates and causes.
Have you contributed to a candidate who is unequivocally pro-life, and who pledges to support pro-life policies and laws when elected? 
Have you regularly donated to pro-life causes, like crisis pregnancy centers or adoption agencies that help unwed mothers and orphaned children?
If you answered "no" to those questions, then you've just run afoul of those timeless idioms. Praying and teaching is invaluable. Speaking and writing against abortion is necessary. Taking time to protest is incredibly important (parents in Huntsville recently learned that the city allowed an abortion clinic to open across the street from their children's school, thanks to protestors).
All that helps, but as with any great conflict, we must also ensure that those who are in the thick of battle – our troops on the ground, so to speak – are supported and given the resources they need.
Pro-life candidates need money for advertisements to convince voters.
Crisis pregnancy centers and adoption agencies need money to pay their bills, hire staff, and fund their many invaluable services. Without donations, those services couldn't be offered, and unborn lives wouldn't be saved.
Planned Parenthood's supporters understand this, and they're pretty good at raising money – much better than our side, unfortunately.
A study of tax statements by Human Life International in 2006 found that single-issue pro-abortion organizations like Planned Parenthood raised approximately $9.2 billion, compared to only $552 million raised by pro-life causes like crisis pregnancy centers.
"Nine Planned Parenthood affiliates have a greater income than the leading pro-life fundraiser, the National Right to Life Committee," wrote Brian Clowes, director of research at Human Life International. "And 35 have a greater income than the second-ranked pro-life moneymaker, Priests for Life."
Newsmax recently reported that among Planned Parenthood's major boosters are Coca-Cola, Groupon, the March of Dimes, United Way, Nike, Starbucks, AT&T, and Verizon. Some of our nation's wealthiest families support Planned Parenthood, as well. The Media Research Center found that between 2010 and 2013, billionaire Warren Buffet gave Planned Parenthood more than $231 million, George Soros donated $18.4 million, and Bill Gates contributed $14.5 million.
Dozens of other wealthy families gave hundreds of millions more, adding to a treasure trove of contributions from businesses and individuals of all sizes and incomes.
Among those many contributors were ... you. That's right. In the wake of videos showing their employees sorting through mutilated body parts and slicing into the face of an unborn child to extract its intact brain (it's worth more whole, you see), Planned Parenthood's lobby in Congress fought unashamedly to keep millions of our tax dollars flowing into their vast bank accounts.
Pro-abortion activists weren't phased by the challenge at all; they knew that without money from donors and taxpayers, their incomes would decrease, their influence would wane, and their clinics would shut-down.
The same goes for us.
So, what can we do to end abortion? Try asking yourself, "What am I doing to financially support pro-life candidates and causes?" If you don't have an answer to that question, then it's about time you found one.
(First posted on Al.com)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Auburn University should sue the anti-religious zealots harassing its students

A small Wisconsin-based organization of atheists sent a letter to Auburn University this month demanding that it abolish the football team’s chaplaincy position, and threatening a lawsuit if the school doesn’t.
“Chaplains are given access to the team as a means for coaches to impose religion, usually Christianity, on their players,” reads the letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. “Under the circumstances, the chaplain’s actions are attributable to the university and those actions are unconstitutional.”
Auburn quickly released a brief statement explaining that having a team chaplain is quite normal and that he “isn’t an Auburn employee, and participation in activities he leads are voluntary.”
Rather than going on the defensive, the board of trustees should show these anti-religious zealots what happens when you grab an Auburn tiger by its tail. They should fire off their own letter threatening the group’s officers with lawsuits if they don’t cease their campaign of harassment and intimidation that’s clearly aimed at “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion on campus.
Americans are tired of being bullied by a handful of leftists, whose impact on our society far exceeds their size, any actual grievance, or any legal leg they have to stand upon. Instead of our public officials folding like cheap suits whenever these nuts mail a letter, we should start pushing back and protecting our rights.
As the old football saying goes, the best defense is a good offense. Besides, we’re on solid constitutional ground, and it’s about time we started acting like we were.
Our opponents are fond of quoting only a portion of the First Amendment that reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion.” They fail to see that its original intent was to forbid something like the Church of England, whose ecclesiastical laws were interwoven with those of the state. It was not meant to prohibit religion altogether. Still, they never seem to complete the amendment’s full sentence, which includes “…or prohibit the free exercise thereof.”
They’re also fond of quoting the “wall of separation between church and state,” which isn’t actually in the constitution. It’s a brief line from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson explaining why he didn’t issue religiously themed White House proclamations like his predecessors. The letter was written in 1802, which was 11-years after the Bill of Rights was ratified protecting our religious liberties. It’s also important to note that two days after writing that letter, Jefferson attended a church service in the House of Representatives. So clearly we have misinterpreted the intended results of the point Jefferson was making, even if we were to grant his letter equal billing with the constitution, which we cannot.
“The constitution was never meant to prevent people from praying,” said President Ronald Reagan during one of his weekly radio addresses in 1982. “Its declared purposed was to protect their freedom to pray.”
So then, have we been effectively using the constitution to protect our religious freedoms, and those of the generations who’ll inherit whatever rights we manage to leave behind? In my opinion, no, we haven’t.
Far too often, we run away scared, fearing lawsuits and professional or personal repercussions. So we stop gathering at convenient locations at our work places. We stop discussing our faith at the water cooler. Far from wearing our religion on our sleeves, we’re nearly forced to hide it in a closet. And now they want to run the chaplain out of the lives of young student athletes who, in some cases, desperately need spiritual guidance during a very challenging time of their lives.
These letters and lawsuits have had a real and damaging “chilling effect” on one’s ability to freely exercise their religious beliefs, especially on college campuses.
So are we going to do something about it?
The Freedom From Religion Foundation should be sued, and if any liberal professors on the Plains join in their effort, they should be sued, too.
Our nation’s young people deserve to be protected from these bullies, who simply want to replace the student’s faith with their own. It’s time we took the ball back, and started making a few plays of our own.

Auburn University is a great place to start.
(First posted on Al.com)

Friday, August 21, 2015

What can we do about abortion? Raise pro-life children.

As our nation’s abortionists brace for the next video exposing the Nazi-like horror that is Planned Parenthood, the prolife community anxiously awaits confirmation that the revelations are having a major impact on our nation’s collective conscience.
“How could they not?” we ask ourselves. The videos show people sifting through mutilated limbs and organs of unborn babies, and then haggling over their quality and price as the slave traders did in centuries past.
Sadly, however, no major change in our collective conscience is coming anytime soon.
“The ‘sting’ video that surfaced last month of a Planned Parenthood official discussing the use of aborted fetal organs for medical research seems to have had relatively little impact either on views of abortion or of Planned Parenthood in general,” according to a YouGov survey taken after the videos were released. “Half the public retains positive impressions of the organization, though negative views have risen,” from 30 to 36 percent.
Only a six percent shift? How can Americans become aware of what’s happening inside Planned Parenthood’s killing rooms without their opinions significantly changing?
The answer partly lies in the values that were instilled in pro-choice supporters during their formative years. Maybe they were taught that an unborn child is just a lifeless clump of cells, as is often claimed, or that a baby isn’t really alive until it’s born. Maybe they were raised to think abortion was a form of birth control, and that unwed mothers shouldn’t be “punished with a baby,” as President Barrack Obama once infamously said. Perhaps their parents disparaged pro-life Americans, too, saying that we’re all religious extremists whose opposition is based upon superstition and sexism rather than any sort of medical science.  
You see, they’re pro-choice because they believe it’s the only rational, scientific, and compassionate position to have on the matter.
More than likely, though, Americans who were unmoved by the videos were probably just raised in households that didn’t care about the issue, or where mentioning something like abortion was taboo. Their understanding of abortion wasn’t shaped in their formative years, as was their understanding of academics, athletics, and even religion. They came to the issue like wet clay, and were shaped and hardened into pro-choice supporters by the hands of the abortion industry and its accomplices on the left. When they see the videos – if they see the videos – many will remain incapable of being convinced away from a perspective that has, somehow, become part of their identity.
Many parents are familiar with the famous verse from Proverbs: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
So then, what can we do about abortion? We can follow the Bible’s advice and raise pro-life children, and here are six quick tips that may help.
First, break the taboo and allow the issue to be openly discussed in your home. Allow your kids to feel and express their disbelief, indignation, and sadness.
Second, lead by example and show your children how responsible adults support the pro-life movement visibly, vocally, and financially.
Third, never allow a pro-abortion message from pop-culture to go unchallenged. Silence can be misinterpreted as concurrence. Be unequivocal that abortion always takes an innocent life.
Fourth, when they’re mature, share the full horror of what abortion really is. If they’re ready, watch the videos from the Center for Medical Progress with them now.
Fifth, take them to a pro-life event, showing them that we’re not alone.  
Sixth, pray and study the science of life with them, showing them the link between valuing life and recognizing its existence.
These tips go for sons as well as daughters. Please strive to create an atmosphere of trust by promising that, should they ever face an unintended pregnancy, you’ll be there to support their choice to have your grandchild.
Discussing this issue is uncomfortable, but remember, there’s an aggressive pro-abortion community that’s ready and willing to fill the vacuum that your inaction may create.
Meanwhile, pray for strength and patience. There may be a majority supporting abortion today, but if we raise pro-life children, we can leave our nation one generation closer to ending abortion in America. 
(First published on AL.com)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Ted Cruz will win in places like Alabama

When the junior senator from Texas announced that he was running for president last March, I used these pages to write that, “Ted Cruz could win in places like Alabama.”

That opinion was based upon Cruz's unapologetic advocacy and defense of the conservative principles of limited government, individual liberty, and free markets, and his sincere desire to see those principles form the foundation for a massive shift in American governance.

Five months into his campaign, however, I feel that my earlier statement must be revised: Ted Cruz will win in places like Alabama, and perhaps in even less conservative states.

That prediction is based upon his impressive performance in the crowded primary thus far.

First, Cruz raised more hard money in the last reporting cycle than any of his competitors – even more than Jeb Bush who is backed by the establishment’s money machine. This is a crucial indicator because, as we have learned, in this age money is indeed speech, and donating to a candidate is essentially “early voting” it is most truthful and practical form.

Moreover, Cruz's cash was raised in small amounts from many individual donors, a clear sign of deep and wide support cross the nation. Usually, when a candidate claims that they’ve raised more individual donations and in small amounts, it’s meant to highlight their grassroots support and downplay the fact that they’re not raising large sums of money. Cruz is turning that typical formula on its head. He’s getting more individual contributions, in smaller amounts, and still raising the most money all at once. That’s unheard of.

Second, Cruz is polling remarkably well in a crowded field of several All-Star candidates who, in normal cycles, would be leading contenders for the nomination. It’s not like Cruz is the only conservative in the race; it’s just that he may be the most courageous and trustworthy. That’s making a difference.

After the first debate, Cruz rocketed to second place in an early survey of support, behind Donald Trump and ahead of Ben Carson. Notice anything similar about those three? They’re all outsiders, either removed from the party’s establishment by their careers (Trump and Carson) or by their actions (Cruz). When those other two leave for whatever reason (Trump isn’t a consistent and trustworthy conservative, and Carson isn’t ready to battle the Democrats or the bureaucracy), the natural recipient of their fed-up-with-the-establishment supporters is Cruz. When the field shrinks in the coming months, expect Cruz’s numbers to steadily increase.

Third, Cruz’s anti-establishment message is resonating with voters, and it's something that movement conservatives have been waiting to hear since 1988. His attack on the “Washington Cartel,” as he calls it, takes on both parties. Last month he took to the Senate floor and, in an unprecedented act of political courage, called the party’s lackluster and backroom-dealing majority leader, Mitch McConnell, a “liar” for secretly negotiating with Democrats to pass President Barrack Obama’s trade deal and rescue a crony capitalist bank from disestablishment. I’ve rarely seen a sitting politician take-on his leadership like that, and it was refreshing and inspiring.

So when Cruz came to Huntsville last Sunday evening to speak with supporters, I took my two oldest children in hopes that they’d see the man who might end up rescuing their generation from inheriting a weakened, and less free, America. I’ve been to a number of these early primary events, and I only expected 200-300 attendees at most. But organizers said they received more than 1,400 RSVPs, and by my count there were easily 2,000 people standing in the main hall and foyer of the Jackson Center conference facility.

Cruz’s speech was wonderful, and it reminded me of what Rush Limbaugh said when he announced last spring.

“We finally now have, on display, someone who can cheerfully, confidently, happily articulate conservatism in a charismatic, positive way,” Limbaugh said on his radio program last March. “Somebody who's not afraid of it. Somebody who's not ashamed of it. Somebody who doesn't see any need to qualify it or to make excuses for it.”

Does that remind you of any other candidate in recent decades … who was also hated by the establishment?

Let’s hope Cruz – and America – enjoys similar results.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

What can we do about abortion? First, Pray.

In the wake of videos showing abortionists haggling over prices for lungs, livers, and hearts harvested from unborn babies they’ve killed, many pro-life Americans are asking themselves: “Is there anything we can ever do to end this horror?”
It’s a good question, because our goal appears daunting in light of a horrifying truth: America is a nation that values abortion.
Don’t think so? Consider these facts:
Nearly one in every three Americans (29-percent) believes abortion should be legal in any circumstance, and two in four (51-percent) believe it should be legal in at least some circumstances, according to Gallup. That combines to 80-percent who think abortion should remain legal in some form.
Gallup’s annual survey also showed the number of pro-choice Americans has risen from 41-percent in 2013 to 50-percent today, while those identifying as pro-life has dropped from 51-percent in 2009 to 44-percent this year.
Those seemingly contradictory numbers – 80-percent support abortion while only 50-percent are pro-choice – indicates that there are many who believe unborn babies are indeed alive, but don’t necessarily believe all of them have a right to life.
Meanwhile, according to data assembled from the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute and others, the site numberofabortions.com estimates that more than 644,000 abortions have already happened this year in America, with nearly 31,000 of them occurring after 16-weeks in the womb. On the evening that I typed this column, the day had already seen more than 2,600 abortions.
Adding to those sobering statistics is the fact that the Democrat Party, which Gallup says speaks for about 47-percent of our fellow Americans, is fully committed to defending abortion at any stage of an unborn baby’s development and even demands that taxpayers fund abortion clinics.
So, with that much support for abortion, and that many instances of it occurring, what can prolife Americans do?
During the next couple of weeks I’ll offer a few suggestions, ranging from the very personal to the very public, and I’ll begin today with the most important: first, we must pray.
The problem of abortion in America is too large, and we are too small … if we go-it alone. We must realize that abortion isn’t only evil; it comes from evil. Pretending that this is only a human problem that can be solved through human initiative will forever hinder our efforts. Make no mistake, evil motivates and animates this scourge, and unless we begin all of our efforts by asking God for his help in battling the enemy, we will surely fail. 
We must remember to pray for ourselves, asking to remain vigilant and forever aware that, as we go about our lives, unborn babies are being killed in our communities with the consent of our elected government. We must ask for caring hearts lest ours grow cold and callous amid such awareness, and we must grow in faith, knowing that good will ultimately prevail, even if only in another age. Fatigue, apathy, and hopelessness are some of our enemy’s finest weapons, yet frequent prayer can become an impervious shield.
We must pray for those who support abortion, or who have had abortions, for they are surely victims of this great crime, as well. If you’ve ever spoken with a pro-choice advocate, you probably walked away frustrated. Yet their hearts can indeed be changed, no matter how intractable they may initially seem. For example, Norma McCorvey (a.k.a. Jane Roe), the anonymous plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, eventually became a passionate defender of the unborn and regularly speaks against the ruling that bears her then-fictitious name. 
We must even pray for the abortionists. As evil as their actions are, even they aren’t beyond reach and none are beyond God’s love. Dr. Bernard Nathanson co-founded one of the largest pro-choice advocacy groups in the nation and said he was responsible for 75,000 abortions. Yet he became a prominent pro-life activist and eventually produced a documentary titled “The Silent Scream,” which changes many minds.
The challenge for our pro-life community may seem insurmountable, but history is replete with David vs. Goliath examples of when the very small – through prayer – overcame the very large. This is no different, and with prayer forming a solid foundation, we can eventually end abortion in America.

(First published on AL.com) 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

History will condemn our inaction on abortion

As the Allied forces marched across Europe in 1945, our troops were shocked upon discovering the concentration camps. Our boys had seen killing, but nothing like that. The camps were death factories, where millions were slaughtered with assembly-line efficiency. 

Holding pens. Gas chambers. Ovens. And in a particularly ghoulish touch, piles of the remnants the Nazis found useful: shoes, eyeglasses.

When Allied commanders demanded explanations from locals (camp overseers had fled), they either claimed ignorance or said they were only following their government’s laws. 

Generals like George Patton would hear none of it. Obedience to an unjust law, or ignorance of its true effect, is no excuse for inaction. He marched the townspeople through the camps and forced them to witness – to see, to smell – the holocaust that had been happening on a daily basis only a few miles from their homes. 

In a different way, Americans were marched through our own death factories in recent days as we learned about a series of videos released by the pro-life Center for Medical Progress. The recordings exposed how Planned Parenthood sells organs harvested from murdered babies.

“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver,” said Deborah Nucatola, a Planned Parenthood abortionist. “So I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”

Mary Gattner, another Planned Parenthood official, offered to use a “less crunchy technique” when pulling the dead baby from its mother’s womb. She then joked about the price. “Let me just figure out what others are getting, and if this is in the ballpark, then it’s fine, if it’s still low, then we can bump it up,” she said. “I want a Lamborghini.”

The videos slapped America in its face with the gruesome realities of our abortion-on-demand laws. 

Good. We need it.  

By mentioning concentration camps, am I committing the mortal sin of analogies by saying that the crime of abortion in America is similar to the Jewish holocaust? No, of course I’m not. Abortion is far worse. 

More than six million were killed in the concentration camps while the German people sat idly by, bullied into submission by the Nazis. More than 50 million have been killed in abortion clinics while the American people sit idly by, bullied into submission by five lawyers on the Supreme Court. The holocaust went on for less than a decade before we stamped it out, while abortion has plagued our nation unabated since the 1970s … and there’s no sign of it ending. 

So you tell me: which is worse, and for that matter, who is worse?

In past columns I have often described abortion in its simplest terms. I usually write that, “Unborn children are poisoned, ripped apart, and then thrown in the trash.” That language never fails to anger abortion rights supporters. “Hyperbole,” charged one reader. “Sensationalism,” wrote another. But as uncomfortable as that language sounds, it’s an accurate description of what happens during most abortions. Some procedures are even worse. 

Now we learn that I should insert “their hearts, lungs, and livers are harvested and sold” before writing about how their mutilated bodies are finally thrown in the garbage.   

Horrible. Absolutely horrible.

All eight of Alabama’s Republican members of our Congressional delegation have acted, by either cosponsoring legislation to defund Planned Parenthood or by calling for investigations into its practices. Our delegation’s lone Democrat, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell? She was endorsed by the largest abortion rights activist group in the nation, so don’t look for any help there. 

We’ve heard a great deal of “being on the right side of history” from the left in recent years. I wonder if they’ll ever apply that test to their defense of America’s abortion mills. 

In any case, we will all stand before the Lord eventually, and will each answer for our role in this great crime. Will we be like the Germans in 1945, claiming ignorance of abortion or complacent obedience to an unjust law? What exactly will we say before the one who created the babies whose murders we passively condone?

It’s time for action, and it’s time we shut these death factories down.  

(First published on Al.com)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What’s next in the battle flag flap?

Now that the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia is being officially retired from government seals and capitol grounds across the Deep South, one has to wonder what’s next.
That’s hard to predict because this issue is so difficult to discuss.
There are those who genuinely, and without malice, consider the flag as an ancestral symbol of their regional pride, strength, and courage. But they’re called racists, which is the worst kind of insult.
There are also those who are genuinely, and deeply, hurt by displays of the banner under which an army fought to preserve the enslavement of their ancestors. Yet they’re accused of trying to erase history, one of the worst things a diverse society can do.
And then there are the real racists and the real censors. They do indeed exist, and while they’re small in number, they’re dominating the conversation and driving nearly every decision. Reasonable people cannot enter the discussion without being viciously attacked, so they leave. The result is that public officials and business leaders cater to the mob by making sometimes wise, often foolish, decisions. That’s sad.
As a proud son of the Deep South who has studied all aspects of our region’s history, I see both sides.
On the one hand, when I was very little I first thought the battle flag simply meant that you were from the country, liked to hunt and fish, or that you were a “rebel” of some sort or maybe a biker dude. I never associated it with a war, and certainly not with slavery or racism. I eventually learned about the Civil War, of course, and even that two of my great-great-grandfathers were Confederate cavalrymen who carried similar banners into battle. I then spent many summer afternoons visiting old Civil War battlefields with my parents, and learned a great deal about the conflict and the men who fought it.
I eventually grew to become critical of the Confederacy’s political and military leadership, though. They were educated and experienced men, and should have known better. Their rationale for succession was unwarranted, and a military rebellion was foreseeably doomed. Many died because they failed to steer their states clear of a horrible war.
But as a former soldier, I came to sympathize with the enlisted men who formed the ranks of the Confederate military. Many were simply answering their people’s call-to-arms, as men have done for centuries. There’s a degree of honor in that, and it should be respected.
On the other hand, ignorant bigots have misused the banner those soldiers fought under as a high-profile symbol of racism. While groups like the Ku Klux Klan have virtually vanished, the stain they caused – and the hurt they inflicted – remains nearly indelible. So whether the Deep South had its banner stolen by those hateful people, or whether it was surrendered to them during the era of segregation, it matters not. They have it, at least in the minds of millions.
I suppose it was a wise compromise to ceremonially retire the battle flag from official seals and capitol grounds, but the effort should end there. All this talk of removing memorials to fallen soldiers and sailors, banning battle flags from cemeteries, and disinterring long-dead generals is going way too far. That’s the kind of history-smashing thing you see in other countries, not in the United States. We don’t topple memorials to men or movements we disagree with. We acknowledge the past, learn from it, and go about our business.
When I was a staffer in Congress, sometimes I would lead tours of visiting Alabamians through the Capitol building. A favorite stop was in front of the statue of General Robert E. Lee, where I would remark about how “only in America” could a general who led a failed rebellion against the central government be memorialized in its capitol building. I saw Lee’s statue as a symbol of how strong America is, how different from other nations we are, and as an example of how, regardless of the difficulty, Americans would always come together in the end.
I think we should remember that lesson. We should stop all this fighting, show the world how strong this “indivisible” nation remains, and move on.
(First published on Al.com)