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Commentary

Women’s Confidence Gap

By | Beverly LaHaye Institute, Commentary, Feminist / Women's Issues, News and Events | No Comments

Journalists Claire Shipman (wife of Presidential Press Secretary Jay Carney, senior national correspondent for ABC’s Good Morning America, and regular contributor to This Week with George Stephanopoulos) and Katty Kay (anchor for BBC World News America) have a new book, The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance — What Women Should Know Read More

The Study Bible for Women: A New, Wonderful Resource

By | Beverly LaHaye Institute, Commentary | No Comments

I just received my copy of the Study Bible for Women, published by the B&H Publishing Group. Dorothy Kelley Patterson served as the General Editor of what is being called the “most comprehensive ever” Study Bible. The publisher notes, significantly, that the Study Bible was prepared “by women and for women” — all of whom are fully qualified by their academic training in Biblical studies and their knowledge of the original languages of Scripture for the monumental task that they undertook.  Mrs. Patterson is a Professor of Theology in Women’s Studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

The Study Bible for Women is a one-volume, beautifully produced Bible that is full of resources that will enrich in-depth Bible study as well as provide life-enhancing materials for daily devotionals. I like the fact that the Study Bible for Women will serve the serious Biblical scholar and new Christian as well as long-time believers, like me, who seek to go deeper into God’s Word.  I like challenging materials that stretch me spiritually and mentally without overwhelming me with materials that are designed for theologians or so sophomoric that I feel patronized and become bored because everything is too simplistic and obvious.

I have spent several hours getting acquainted with my new Bible. It is comprehensive, attractive, and easy to understand.

  • The extensive study notes are placed right at the point where the reader needs the extra information. The introduction to each book gives an overview of the key facts and themes, mentions the importance of various issues addressed in the book, and provides specific guidance unique for women’s needs.
  • There are content outlines that provide a brief “Cliff Notes-type” overview for understanding the content as a whole.  The notes identify “threads” that run through the content revealing doctrine — explicating those foundational beliefs that are at the heart of our faith and the solid stones on which we build our convictions and standards of behavior.
  • The character profiles give plenty of background for the women in Scripture that help us understand who they were as historical figures and how they fit into the coming of the Messiah in the Old Testament, or how they helped to spread the Gospel in New Testament times.
  • While I thought the “word studies” would be tedious and irrelevant, they seem to examine the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words in a way that reveals deeper meaning to the Scripture as it relates, ironically and amazingly, to our modern-day lives.
  • There is a section on “hard questions” that provides answers for some of the more difficult passages in the Bible.

I’m tremendously impressed with the extras that are a vital part of this Study Bible for Women. There are relevant essays and devotionals that are titled, “Written on my Heart,” because they apply so well to women’s lives and address matters that are very much on our hearts. In addition, there are the full-color maps that are typically included in study Bibles and that provide a geographical context for the messages.  And, there is a concordance — a tool that I cannot do without; it is just so convenient to have it right there in one volume, easy to reference when it is needed.

There is also a brief essay, “The Christian Life” — written by Rhonda Harrington Kelly, Managing Editor for the project and a PhD, professor, and Director of Women’s Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary — that I plan to study, because it will be insightful and challenging. Best of all, Mrs. Patterson describes, in five pages of suggestions, a plan for Bible Study that I fully intend to implement.

The Study Bible for Women is available through Amazon and Lifeway. The publisher offers a leather version in blue, red, sage, or chocolate and a hardback version.

 

Should We Hate, Revile, Persecute — and Threaten — Those with Whom We Disagree?

By | Beverly LaHaye Institute, Commentary, News and Events | No Comments

Last week, I was called by a reporter who said he wanted to interview me about President Obama’s statement that “homosexuality is a human right.”  He said that the president’s recent comments about the situation in Uganda elevated homosexuality to the level of a “human right” or a “universal fundamental freedom.”  My remarks were simply that the president of the United States has the responsibility to represent the entire nation. When he states his personal beliefs and values and presents those as representative of the United States of America, the full force of his office is behind those statements. It is clear that the beliefs of the president about “human rights” are controversial in his own country and offensive to many both in the U.S. and abroad, and serve to promote the political homosexual agenda worldwide. Claiming that homosexuality is a “human right” is an affront,­­ even a mockery, of­­ those Judeo-Christian values that have been the foundation of virtually all Western civilizations across time and cultures.

That critique is not an endorsement of Ugandan law. Concerned Women for America (CWA) supports the human rights of everyone, including homosexuals. The president should have criticized brutality (though he has not done that in some other notable international incidents) without embracing and promoting the political agenda of a relatively small special interest group.

Human rights are granted to us from God, not man or government; that is why religious liberty and freedom of speech are such important principles. Religious liberty and freedom of speech were so important to the Founders that those principles are foundational in the United States Constitution.  Thomas Jefferson started the momentum toward that position in the Declaration of Independence.  It is a foundational principle that religious liberty and freedom of speech are from God, not man. Human rights are the implication of our God-ordained freedom, not vice versa.

Moreover, in our system of government, it is not the prerogative of the president to declare what the law is or which laws will be enforced. I am not the only cultural commentator to have observed that this president has overstepped his authority in this area. In addition, it is not the president’s prerogative to say that his interpretation of human rights trumps religious liberty or freedom of speech. Further, it is not his prerogative to say that his interpretation of human rights trumps the centuries old cultural and religious traditions of other nations.

The basic principles of religious liberty and freedom of speech are the context in which I criticized Mr. Obama. In this respect, Mr. Obama has been “arrogant,” and his actions have constituted “cultural imperialism.” One of Concerned Women for America’s (CWA) core issues is “national sovereignty,” and we defend the sovereignty of our own country, as well as that of other nations. We are an American organization, and our involvement in other nations is solely on the issue of national sovereignty and the other core issues (like Family and Life) that we share with our international colleagues.  We analyze the statements of public officials, including the president, as they touch on our core issues; we have suggested that the president should forcefully condemn nations that violate the civil rights of homosexuals and women, but that approach is significantly different from the president’s endorsing and promoting the special interest campaigns of “homosexual rights” and “women’s rights” activists — campaigns that are political in nature and ask for approval rather than acceptance, that ask for special rights, not human rights.

Of course, neither Concerned Women for America nor I support brutality toward anyone anywhere. CWA is an international leader in the anti-human trafficking movement. We also do not support the political imprisonment of anyone anywhere. We want to help, where we can, those leaders around the world who want to protect their cultures from activism, dictatorship, blackmail, and public indecency (vulgar, coarse, and crude flaunting of sexuality in whatever variety is offensive and contrary to the public’s well-being).

We at Concerned Women for America work hard to strengthen families and the culture in which we all live and where children are raised and nurtured. The public sexualization of the culture — in all its aspects — as well as the objectification and sexualization of children and girls is a concern for everyone who cares about the nation’s children and women. We are also very aware of the sinful nature that we all share and of the fact that no-fault divorce, sexual promiscuity, and infidelity are problems that are just as serious and warrant just as much concern as homosexuality. We are solidly Biblical in our approach to the standards for our own behavior as well as that of others — without harboring a judgmental attitude — and we seek to do so with the love, mercy, and grace — and firm commitment to Truth.

Valentine’s Day Lessons from ‘The Bachelor’ Wedding

By | Beverly LaHaye Institute, Commentary, News and Events, Social / Cultural Issues | No Comments

AlsoOnWashingtonTimesSince Valentine’s Day this year comes on a Friday, I’m reminded of the country music hit, “Friday Night,” which states emphatically that routine “Monday morning” love is not enough; Love has to “set you free,” and “take you high.”

Lovers want to be “barefoot in the moonlight” and on a “wide open road in a candy apple ragtop.” In short, rather than to “settle” for less, everybody wants their love to be like “Friday night.”

The recent wedding on “The Bachelor” — between Sean Lowe and Catherine Giudici — is contemporary evidence that most young adults still want romance and passion. Even in this “hookup” culture, where marriage is declining among the poor and uneducated, the ideal is romance and marriage.

Despite being up against the Grammy Awards and the NFL Pro Bowl, the number of people watching Sean and Catherine’s wedding was up by 53 percent in total viewers and up by 60 percent among adults aged 18 to 49 over the wedding of another “Bachelor” couple a year ago, and it ranked second among young women to the Grammy Awards.[…]

Editor’s Note: Click here to read the remainder of this article that was originally published by the Washington Times.

Guttmacher Report Shows Abortions Declining

By | Beverly LaHaye Institute, Commentary, Feminist / Women's Issues, News and Events | No Comments

AlsoOnWashingtonTimesThe Guttmacher Institute’s just-released abortion report –– “Abortion Incidence and Service Availability in the United States, 2011” –– is good news for the pro-life community. The abortion rate (abortions per 1,000 women) dropped to 16.9 in 2011 – the lowest rate since 1973

  • In 2011 the number dropped to 1.06 million abortions –– 43,000 fewer than the 1.1 million in 2010
  • The number of abortions has been falling about 4-5 percent a year since 2008
  • The abortion rate declined in almost all 50 states and the District of Columbia. States that saw a slight increase or no change: Alaska, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, West Virginia and Wyoming
  • The total number of abortion providers declined 4 percent between 2008 and 2011
  • The number of abortion clinics (where 94 percent of procedures are performed) declined by 1 percent
  • In 2011, 89 percent of counties had no clinic

So how does the Guttmacher Institute interpret their findings in light of their pro-abortion mantra, “safe, legal and rare?”  They don’t appear to be too pleased, but then, they began under the auspices of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In the press release, Elizabeth Nash, the state issues manager for Guttmacher said, “As we monitor trends in abortion going forward, it is critical that we also monitor whether these state restrictions are preventing women who need abortion services from accessing them.”  Well, Iowa is one state where the drop in abortions had nothing to do with the lack of clinic access. The number of clinics in Iowa rose (10 in 2008; 17 in 2011 – 70% increase) and yet, the abortion rate dropped (11.3 in 2008 to 9.7 in 2011 – 14% decrease).

Even the authors of the study, Rachel Jones and Jenna Jerman, admitted that abortion rates are falling in almost all states, but they denied that the decline resulted from “new state abortion restrictions” or from the “drop in the number of abortion providers during this period.” Since 2010 though, the number of pro-life laws has skyrocketed. In 2011 there were 92 pro-life laws passed, in 2012 there were 43 passed. In 2013 there were 70 more. In 2013, 81 clinics closed and six others ceased doing surgical abortions but still administer chemical abortion pills. As the 2012 and 2013 laws begin to take effect, the numbers of abortions should continue to drop.

The increase in chemical abortions is a problem. The report claimed that “early medication abortion” is safe “through nine weeks’ gestation” and “estimated that 36% of abortions up to nine weeks’ gestation in 2011 were early medication procedures” (up from 26% in 2008). Guttmacher also reported that 98% of medication abortions “were done with mifepristone, and the rest with methotrexate or misoprostol alone.”  The FDA makes it clear on their Mifepristone webpage that their approved regimen is through 49 day’s pregnancy (7 weeks). Deeper problems also emerge when a chemical abortion fails and the women also undergo a surgical abortion – two abortion procedures for one pregnancy.

And yet, the report shows women choosing life. They mentioned that the Healthy People 2010 goal, established in 2000, to reduce unintended pregnancies was not met (the 2001 to 2008 rate increased from 48 to 51 percent).  They then note that the number of women with unintended pregnancies choosing abortion dropped from 47 percent to 40 percent in the same time period. They wonder if abortion access is the reason.

The entire report struggles to find reasons other than the influence of pro-life messages and policies to explain the decrease in abortion. They are unwilling to admit that the answer could be as simple as American women not needing or turning away from abortion.

The Guttmacher report glaringly omits the Healthy People 2010 final review showing abstinence programs are exceeding expectations.

  • The review indicates that the goals for reducing teenage pregnancy almost hit the 100 percent mark (95.8%).
  • The 1996 high in teen pregnancy (63 out of a 1000), now hovers around 40 (goal was 39).
  • Under-15-aged girls exceeded the goal of abstinence (114.3 percent); under-15 boys are at 66.7 percent.
  • Girls ages 15-17 reached almost 77 percent of the goal and boys reached almost 78 percent.

The abstinence goal numbers are from 2006 through 2008. The Guttmacher report notes a 13 percent decline in both the number and rate of abortions after that time period, 2008-2011. Guttmacher claims the new laws couldn’t have been behind the abortion decline because they weren’t in place before 2011 (while acknowledging that changes in sexual activity influence abortion rates). Yet, they posit better contraceptive use for the drop and neglect to mention the data attesting to the effectiveness of abstinence programs, especially for girls.

Even while dodging around the truth, Guttmacher’s latest report clearly shows that new pro-life laws, strong pro-life messages and effective abstinence education are related to the decline in abortions.

Editor’s Note: A version of this article was published by the Washington Times. Click here to read it.

New Jersey “Safe Harbor” Law Provides a Lesson in Unintended Consequences

By | Beverly LaHaye Institute, Commentary, News and Events, Sex Trafficking / Pornography | No Comments

AlsoOnAmericanThinkerImagine you are a sexual predator arriving for Super Bowl XLVII at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey and finding out it is now legal for minors to sell sex or to sell someone else for sex to a third party. This would be a dream come true for pimps, traffickers, and johns.

If the Super Bowl had been in New Jersey in February 2013 instead of this year, that would have been the case.

You are probably thinking this must be made up, but it is a true story. The background provides a lesson in unintended consequences. New Jersey legislators tried to help minors found in prostitution, but their efforts went awry.

In 2011, the legislators in New Jersey decided to try their hand at enacting “safe harbor” provisions. Many states have passed “safe harbor” laws, in an attempt to protect minor victims of sex trafficking. Some states (IL, NE, TN) consider decriminalizing prostitution for minors (meaning a minor found in prostitution cannot be charged with the crime of prostitution) as the best course of action. Some other states have varying degrees of provisions for minors, from exempting minors under the age of 15 from arrest to diverting the minors into treatment programs or into the child welfare system, instead of juvenile detention.

Decriminalizing prostitution for minors makes it easier for pimps to exploit them. If a police officer finds a minor in prostitution, all the minor has to say is they have no pimp (even if they do) and, legally, they are allowed to continue. What do you think pimps would tell victims to say in this situation?

Unfortunately for New Jersey, they managed to do more than decriminalize prostitution for minors. They also decriminalized pimping for minors.

On January 17, 2012, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed S-2599 and S-2763 into law as P.L. 2011, c.195. Part of the law amended New Jersey Statutes Annotated (N.J.S.A.) 2C:34-1, “Prostitution and Related Offenses.” In a misguided attempt to help minor victims of trafficking, New Jersey’s affirmative defense language was changed (the underlined portion was the new language) to read:

It is an affirmative defense to prosecution for a violation of this section that, during the time of the alleged commission of the offense, the defendant was a victim of human trafficking pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2005, c.77 (C.2C:13-8) or the defendant was under the age of 18.

It is not clear whether the legislators realized that they were allowing minors to claim an affirmative defense for all the offenses in the section, which included “Promoting prostitution” (pimping). Under the 2011 law, just the fact of being a minor under 18 years of age was a sufficient defense to a charge of prostitution or pimping. The result: prostitution and pimping were decriminalized in New Jersey for minors.

While doing research on the topic in the summer of 2012, Concerned Women for America’s (CWA) Beverly LaHaye Institute came across this law and immediately asked CWA’s legislative department to contact Gov. Christie’s office to ask about it. The Governor’s office requested more information, so CWA sent an explanation of the faulty language and recommended that the New Jersey legislature:

  • Repeal the decriminalization of prostitution and pimping for minors
  • Keep prostitution criminalized for all people, and allow for all charges to be dropped for minors after successful completion of rehabilitation and treatment services
  • Put an affirmative defense for all victims of sex trafficking, regardless of age, in place instead of decriminalization for minor victims of sex trafficking
  • Add an expungement of records section for those who have been convicted of prostitution or loitering

Lo and behold, CWA was heard!

In October 2012, “The Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection, and Treatment Act” (A-3352) was introduced, and it was signed into law in May 2013 as P.L. 2013, c.51. The affirmative defense provision was changed to eliminate the decriminalization of prostitution and pimping for minors. The law now affords a defense to all sex trafficking victims regardless of age. It reads:

It is an affirmative defense to prosecution for a violation of this section that, during the time of the alleged commission of the offense, the defendant was a victim of human trafficking pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2005, c.77 (C.2C:13-8) or compelled by another to engage in sexual activity, regardless of the defendant’s age.

Victims of sex trafficking were given other provisions to help them towards rehabilitation and restoration. The bill added a section to the New Jersey statutes that allows for convictions to be vacated “when the person’s participation in the offense was a result of having been a victim of human trafficking.” In addition, the law established the “Human Trafficking Survivor’s Assistance Fund” to help provide services to victims, and it will be funded by fines paid by convicted traffickers.

There is another step New Jersey could take to help get minor victims into treatment and services.

CWA supports the Massachusetts model, which keeps prostitution criminalized for persons of any age.  However, minors arrested for prostitution are diverted into treatment and rehabilitation programs. Upon successful completion of these programs, the charges against them are dropped. CWA supports this model, because it protects minors who do not self-identify as victims (they believe their pimps love them and are not exploiting them) to give them a chance to get the help they need, and it allows judicial discretion to remain in the process.

CWA applauds Gov. Christie and the New Jersey legislature for correcting flawed legislation. As the Super Bowl rapidly approaches, there are stories about the all-out effort New Jersey is taking to prevent sex trafficking during the event. If prostitution and pimping had remained decriminalized for minors, predators would have been the ones finding safe harbor at the Super Bowl. Instead, let’s hope law enforcement officers will use New Jersey’s laws to kick those predators through the goalposts of a prison cell.

Editor’s Note: A version of this article was published on American Thinker. Click here to read it.

 

Whose Consciences and Constitutional Rights Should the Government Violate Next?

By | Beverly LaHaye Institute, Commentary, News and Events, Religious Issues | No Comments

constitutionaltargetsMany of you have heard about the Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of nuns providing care for the elderly, who are now taking on the Obama Administration over the Affordable Care Act’s (ObamaCare) contraception mandate. Religious exemptions from the ObamaCare contraception mandate are often made for government-approved entities, but the Obama Administration has deemed the nuns, who work exclusively with the elderly, unworthy of an exception.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor recently granted the Little Sisters of the Poor a temporary injunction, so they do not have to violate their religious beliefs by offering health insurance that covers contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortion-inducing drugs. The Obama Administration, however, is asking the Supreme Court to force the nuns to obey the contraception mandate.

For those who do not understand that the mandate is a violation of religious liberty and conscience or understand the outrageousness of the Obama Administration’s insistence on enforcement, perhaps these Constitution-violating suggestions for possible mandates in the future will be enlightening.

One party’s mandate is another group’s loss of freedom.

Can you imagine the reaction of groups if the government forced them to comply with these made-up mandates?

  • Animal rights activists must hunt and kill animals to make fur coats they will be forced to wear.
  • Vegetarians and vegans must eat meat.
  • Feminists must promote patriarchy.
  • College professors must campaign for Tea Party candidates, earnestly.
  • Global warming activists must take a cruise to the Antarctic, get their ship stuck in ice, and have fossil-fuel-burning ships and helicopters rescue them (oh wait … ).
  • Planned Parenthood affiliates must donate money to crisis pregnancy centers to promote adoption.
  • Teachers’ unions must pay their dues to charter schools.
  • Labor unions must pay union wages and benefits to the homeless they hire to protest businesses that won’t unionize.
  • U.S. presidents, congressmen and senators must send their children to D.C. public schools.
  • Hollywood stars supporting “climate change” legislation must drive their Prius’ cross-country for appearances and premieres; no more flying domestically or internationally.
  • Tax-and-spend advocates can no longer take deductions on their tax returns; they will send in more money than is due from them.
  • Celebrities advocating for more gun control cannot have armed bodyguards.
  • GLAAD activists must denounce marriage for homosexuals and promote heterosexuality in schools.
  • All movie and television show producers will espouse conservative principles and ideas, and the bad guys must always be heartless, greedy liberals.
  • Greenpeace activists must hunt whales, eat them, and use the blubber to provide heat and light on their ships.
  • Occupy Wall Street protestors must get jobs.
  • Billionaires decrying the fact they pay a smaller percentage in taxes than their secretaries must declare their investment income as a salary so they pay a higher percentage and take no deductions (see above.)
  • Atheists must donate (even tithe?) to a religious institution, weekly.
  • MSNBC hosts and anchors must attend re-education classes taught by Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, Mitt Romney, and the Little Sisters of the Poor.
  • Abortion advocates have to reconstruct an aborted baby to make sure all the parts are there and not stuck inside the mother.
  • “Bro-choicers” will be mandated to become daycare providers.
  • Wind farm owners must also be bird and bat breeders to replace all the birds, especially eagles, and bats killed by the wind turbines.
  • People opposed to coal-fired power plants will no longer be allowed to charge their electric cars, iPhones, iPads, or coffeemakers with electricity from coal-fired power plants.

While these suggestions are facetious, can’t you just hear the shouts of outrage that would erupt if they were real? Well, the mandate being forced upon the Little Sisters of the Poor is real. The nuns are fighting for their rights to exercise religious freedom in the United States of America.

Right now the Obama Administration is going after the nuns; will your Constitutional rights and freedoms be next?

Editor’s Note: A version of this article was published by the American Thinker. Click here to read it.