This week's edition of "The 3" highlights the way that freedom of speech AND religion are being limited on certain college campuses in America. Also, new light was shed this week on taxpayer funding of abortion under the new health care reform law. Plus, our #1 story deals with disclosure - how much to disclose during the course of a political campaign - and a bill that had some Christian and pro-family groups concerned.
3 - Students' free speech rights on campus challenged
Last week, one of the "Honorable Mention" stories dealt with a graduate student in Augusta, GA at Augusta State University that claims to have been told she would have to alter her Christian beliefs in order to obtain her degree. The student, Jennifer Keeton, is being represented now by the Alliance Defense Fund, who placed this post on one of their websites.
Freedom of speech and freedom of religion, especially on university campuses, is becoming an increasing area of concern for students, as well as instructors. Recently, you may remember a professor at the University of Illinois was dismissed from teaching a class which involved Catholic theology, because when he expressed what the church teaches on matters such as homosexuality, there was at least one student who was allegedly offended. The good news is that Dr. Kenneth Howell was reinstated this week. Here's the story, again from ADF.
There is troubling news, though, from a Federal court regarding free speech and religious freedom on the campus of Eastern Michigan University. A Federal district court has sided with the university in the case of a student who claims that she was dismissed from its graduate program because she did not affirm homosexual behavior as being morally acceptable. ADF, who provided this information, will work with the student, Julea Ward, as she appeals this decision to a higher court.
University campuses so often become breeding grounds for political correctness. That is why it is important to have students in these institutions that possess a Christian worldview and are allowed to express their views in accordance with Biblical truth. Julea, Jennifer, and Dr. Howell have been limited in the expression of their rights, and they are to be commended for the strong stand they have taken.
2 - Federal organization confirms taxpayer funding of abortion in health care
Pro-life, pro-family organizations have been claiming ever since the health care reform debate in Congress that the structure of the proposals being considered allowed abortion to be funded by taxpayers. The Stupak-Pitts Amendment of the House version of the bill provided an exception, but such an amendment was not attached to the final version of the bill. Rep. Stupak voted for final passage of the bill due to an 11th-hour executive order issued by the President, which Christian, pro-family groups at the time said did not have the force of law and claimed that abortion would be paid for by public funds under the new health care bill.
Now, information is continuing to surface that these groups were in fact, accurate in their assessments. I related several weeks ago that 3 states - Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and Maryland - were either inserting or considering abortion funding in some of their plans. And, just this week, an organization called the Congressional Research Service, a division of the Library of Congress, has issued a report confirming the concern about taxpayer abortion funding, according to LifeNews.com.
You mix a pro-abortion Administration with promises made to organizations such as Planned Parenthood, along with members of Congress with special ties to pro-abortion organizations, and you're bound to get that agenda driving reproductive policy. Now, Rep. Chris Smith is attempting to get a bill passed that would prevent abortion from being included in the implementation of health care reform. When you factor polling data that is showing a definite shift to the pro-life point of view, members of Congress are finding their institution is unpopular, and they themselves may be facing stiff re-election bids, and this sort of proposal makes a lot of sense. But too many lawmakers have a pro-abortion point of view, and have had their election campaigns funded by pro-abortion special interests.
One example: California's Barbara Boxer, facing a tough re-election campaign from former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. She is reportedly poised to receive some $1 million dollars from Planned Parenthood, according to LifeNews.com. And that leads into our top story...
1 - Closing the door on DISCLOSE
One way that organizations help the candidates that embrace their positions is through direct campaign funding - and as long as it's reported properly, that's perfectly legal, and can be a helpful barometer of the positions of a candidate. Another way that candidates get their message out is by way of organizations running advocacy ads.
And, the method by which that has been done was on the verge of changing this week, with the prospect of the so-called DISCLOSE (Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections) Act in the Senate, which had narrowly passed the House. This is a bill that would require certain information about the various organizations paying for these advocacy ads to be included in the ad itself. The bill failed to move forward in the Senate, and here is CitizenLink's take on the bill and the vote.
Opponents characterized the bill as an attempt to curtail free speech leading up to the election and a way for the majority party, the Democrats, to limit opponents from effectively getting their message out. While accountability and transparency are important principles in our system of government, to reveal donor information can cause those donors to think twice about their investment when their privacy is threatened. Christian and pro-family groups were concerned that it could place a damper on already limited resources to get their message out in the public square.
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