Political Advocacy Tracker is a roundup of what Christian activist organizations have been talking about over the last week.
'An Agenda of Perversion'
This week political advocacy groups were particularly unhappy with how President Obama celebrated "Gay Pride Month."
Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins said Obama's "allegiance is not to the majority of Americans. Despite natural and national crises, this administration has consistently put an agenda of perversion ahead of the real business at hand."
The latest controversy began when the president issued a Father's Day proclamation that included the following sentence: "Nurturing families come in many forms, and children may be raised by a father and mother, a single father, two fathers, a step-father, a grandfather, or caring guardian."
It was the inclusion of "two fathers" in this list of families that sparked criticism. Tom Minnery of CitizenLink said that by including "two fathers," the President approved of "motherless-ness." A similar inclusion of "two mothers" in a Mother's Day proclamation, he said, showed approval for "fatherless-ness."
"The man has come out in favor of fatherless-ness and motherless-ness," said Minnery. "A kid needs a mom and a dad, or at least a chance at a mom or a dad. But a federal government policy ever says that two fathers is just as good as a mother and a father or two mothers is a just as good as a mother and a father that will contribute to the corrosion of what we understand as family."
When asked in the comments section of a blog post about other motherless families mentioned in the proclamation, CitizenLink's Jenny Tyree said "the difference between a 'two-father' co-parent situation and all the others … is that a two men co-parenting situation is intentionally motherless."
One day after the Father's Day proclamation, the Department of Labor issued a legally binding clarification on the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a law that allows parents to take up to 12 weeks each year to care for a child. The act has a broad definition of a parent. It includes anyone who takes on parental responsibilities even if they are not the legal parents or guardians. For example, this would include grandparents caring for children of parents who are absent or incapacitated. The department stated that those in same-sex relationships must also be given time to care for a child if they have taken on the role and responsibilities of being the child's parent.
"No one who loves and nurtures a child day-in and day-out should be unable to care for that child when he or she falls ill," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "The Labor Department's action today sends a clear message to workers and employers alike: All families, including LGBT families, are protected by the FMLA."
According to FRC's Perkins, the statement was move "to force private employers to extend benefits to homosexual couples" and a violation of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
"Families are formed only by blood, legal marriage (which under the federal DOMA means only the union of a man and a woman), or by legal adoption," said Perkins. "This latest action would for the first time force private employers in all fifty states—even those which have amended their constitution to forbid legal recognition of same-sex relationships—to extend benefits to just those relationships. Only Congress has the power to work such a dramatic change in the meaning of the FMLA."
Meanwhile, the American Family Association (AFA) called on Christians to contact Home Depot and express disapproval for its sponsorship of some gay pride events in Maine and Massachusetts. Particularly upsetting to the AFA was that Home Depot was a vendor at one event, "conducting kid's craft workshops for children in the midst of loud and boisterous gay activities."
AFA president Tim Wildmon said, "Gay pride events have a long track record for offensive public displays of homosexual conduct. Obviously, Home Depot is OK with the idea of exposing children to an unhealthy and risky environment. So much so, it is willing to also celebrate it by participating in its promotion."
Odds and Ends
• A top issue for both the FRC and CitizenLink was the DISCLOSE Act (also known as the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections Act). The response to the Supreme Court's ruling that overturned many campaign finance regulations would require political ads to disclose its top donors. Both the FRC and CitizenLink use issue ads during elections. The bill passed the house on Thursday but faces an uncertain future in the Senate.
• President Obama's nominee for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals was approved by an 11-7 party-line vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Judge Robery Chatigny was criticized by the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Concerned Women for America, and others for being "empathetic" (and thus lenient) in sentencing. Particularly concerning was Chatingy's role in the case of a serial rapist and murderer where he ordered the lawyers to appeal the death sentence over the defendant's objections.
• The hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan begin Monday, and the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) is gathering signatures for a petition objecting to Kagan for not allowing military recruiters at Harvard Law School (where she was dean). ACLJ suggests that she "remained silent when a Saudi donor paid $20 million for the establishment of the Center for Islamic Studies on the Harvard campus — a move that cleared the way to promote sharia law — a Muslim theology that many believe is repressive and sexist." Kagan was dean of Harvard Law; the Center for Islamic Studies is not part of the law school. An earlier ACLJ analysis of Kagan makes no mention of the center, Islam, or sharia law.
• Kristen Williams of Faith in Public Life discussed recent polls that show support for both the Arizona immigration law and comprehensive immigration reform. According to Williams, "most of the law's supporters support it because it's the only option they see on the table (a.k.a. a 'necessary evil.') Until the President and Congress step up and put some serious muscle into an effort to comprehensively reform the broken system at the federal level, we'll continue to see overinflated levels of support for extreme state legislation."
• Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, announced on Monday that he will be stopping his radio broadcast in next week. "As I'm now struggling with issues related to my other responsibilities, it has become very clear that I'm going to be unable to continue a live radio broadcast like this," said Mohler. He will continue to provide commentary for Salem Radio Network and will announce a new platform for discussing faith and culture.
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