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Holy Boldness: The Big Success of Evangelical Christianity.

In 10 Colleen Carroll Campbell on 2012/07/13 at 12:57 AM

Evangelical Christians like to do things in a big, bold way.

The evangelical Promise Keeper movement gathers men by the thousands to praise God in stadium conferences, and more than 3.5 million men have done so since 1991.

The Southern Baptist True Love Waits campaign has led some 2.4 million young people to sign cards pledging that they will save sex for marriage, which they have stacked to the roof of the Georgia Dome in Atlanta and used to blanket the National Mall.

Even Sunday services are a big, bold affair for evangelicals. Some 17,000 souls worship each weekend at the Willow Creek Community Church outside Chicago, and that’s just one of an estimated 842 American megachurches that attract at least 2,000 weekly attendants.

Evangelical Christians make up the largest group in American Protestantism, and one quarter to one third of Americans are evangelicals. They are a group known for their boldness in proclaiming their faith in Jesus Christ and their commitment to biblical morality. As the results of a recent pollsuggest, the boldness of evangelical Christianity goes a long way toward explaining its bigness.

Pollsters from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research studied more than 1,600 evangelicals — Christians who identify themselves as fundamentalist, evangelical, charismatic, Pentecostal, or born-again Protestants. The survey, which was commissioned by PBS’s Religion & Ethics Newsweekly and U.S. News & World Report, gauged evangelical opinions on a host of political and social issues.

Pollsters found that three quarters of evangelicals believe they are part of mainstream society, and about the same percentage believe they have had at least some influence on society. But they don’t necessarily feel at home there. About three quarters of white evangelicals believe they must “fight to have their voices heard by the American mainstream” and say the mass media are hostile to their moral and spiritual values. Almost half believe that most Americans look down on them.

The siege mentality of evangelicals stems from the clash between their traditional religious values and those of the popular culture. On everything from same-sex marriage to abortion to church attendance, evangelicals tend to be more conservative than other Americans. And white evangelicals — who constitute three quarters of all evangelicals — are particularly conservative, which may explain why they feel particularly besieged.

Consider the hot-button issues of today’s culture wars: Some 85 percent of white evangelicals oppose same-sex marriage, compared to 61 percent of all Americans. Two thirds of them think abortion should be illegal, versus 45 percent of the general population.

Even church attendance is a dividing line between evangelicals and mainstream America. More than 70 percent of white evangelicals and 63 percent of black evangelicals say they attend church at least once a week, as compared to about 40 percent of all Americans.

Yet evangelicals are not alone in their concern about America’s soul. Seven out of ten evangelicals are very worried that children are not learning values and respect, and three out of four white evangelicals and more than nine out of ten African-American evangelicals say “America’s moral values are on the wrong track.” As it turns out, most Americans agree. Nearly two-thirds worry about the values children are learning, and more than 70 percent think we’re on the wrong track.

And therein lies the secret of evangelicalism’s success.

As more Americans sense that something is wrong with our culture, more are attracted to the holy boldness of evangelical Christianity — and to traditional religion in general. Catholic parishes and Orthodox churches that proclaim the Christian message with the same boldness are experiencing similar success. And for decades now, Orthodox and Conservative Judaism have seen a steady influx of “Baal Teshuvah” or “masters of return” — formerly secular Jews who found in traditional religion a community and connection to God that they could not find in secular society.

2000 study conducted by the Glenmary Research Center and sponsored by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies confirmed this trend: It found that the fastest-growing congregations in America between 1990 and 2000 were socially conservative churches that demanded high commitment from their members. The study also found liberal churches, like the Presbyterian Church USA and the United Church of Christ, hemorrhaging members at the fastest rate.

In a decadent culture, the demands of traditional morality appeal. In a sea of pluralism, the clarity of orthodoxy attracts. Religious leaders should keep that in mind when they are tempted to dilute their theology and soften its demands in order to reach more souls. To attract the postmodern pilgrim, it seems, holy boldness is a better choice.

National Review Online

 — Colleen Carroll Campbell is is a former speechwriter to President George W. Bush and author of The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy.

 

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Learning from Deadly Dutch Mistakes

In 10 Colleen Carroll Campbell on 2012/07/13 at 12:00 AM

The Netherlands has earned a dubious distinction in recent years as one of the suicide capitals of the world.Euthanasia of adults and teenagers has been legal there since 2002 and the Dutch Royal Medical Association recently made international headlines by persuading the Dutch government to establish a committee to regulate infant euthanasia. Not that doctors there needed the government’s blessing to practice their healing arts: By their own accounting, Dutch physicians had already been euthanizing about 15 sick babies each year.(See: http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/campbell200603130818.asp)

Euthanasia advocates hail the Dutch model as progressive and reasonable, offering a humane escape from this fallen world for everyone from terminally ill cancer patients to depressed adolescents and sickly infants. If they want to die (or, in the case of newborns, if their parents wish they had never been born), who has the right to stop them?

Given that logic which must be widely accepted in the Netherlands if politicians and physicians could sanction the killing of children with impunity the reaction of Dutch authorities to a recent outbreak of teen suicide fever is a bit puzzling. A few days ago, news reports (http://in.news.yahoo.com/060820/43/66t2a.html) surfaced about a group of a dozen 12- to 15-year-old Dutch girls who were using text messages on their cell phones and taunting e-mails to urge each other on to suicide, peppering friends with messages like “Who dares to?” One student finally grew frightened enough to contact authorities. An army of police, physicians, and social workers soon pounced on the case and did their best to unravel the reasons behind the suicide craze. Experts speculated in the press about the pernicious power of peer pressure, the insidious influence of the Internet, and the bizarre teenage impression that suicide is glamorous. As one Dutch psychiatrist mused to a reporter, suicide seems to carry a certain degree of prestige among teenagers but, We don’t know why.

The good doctor, like his colleagues, did not seem to grasp the obvious: The law is a teacher and Dutch law has taught its young citizens well.The radical and sweeping embrace of suicide as an answer to the problem of human suffering, and the elevation of euthanasia to the status of a basic human right, has convinced Dutch teenagers that suicide must be a noble act, the kind that wins plaudits, prestige, and even legal protection.

Adults can preach all they want about the evils of suicide to their teenage charges, but when asked why suicide is wrong for some people in some situations while fine for others, supporters of Dutch euthanasia laws will be hard pressed to offer an answer that passes muster with any reasonably intelligent 12-year-old. So Dutch children will continue to see suicide as a reasonable, even admirable solution to the difficulties of daily life. And the culture of death in the Netherlands will march on. The question is: Will we learn from their mistakes?

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH  Colleen Carroll Campbell is an author, television host and St. Louis-basedfellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Her website is
www.colleen-campbell.com.
 

So Long, Freedom of Thought

In 10 Colleen Carroll Campbell on 2012/07/06 at 9:11 AM

The college years used to be known as a time to explore new ideas, adopt new identities and embrace — and discard — new affiliations. You could arrive on campus a political conservative and leave a liberal; enter a staunch atheist and exit a devout believer; declare yourself a biology major, then switch to theater and wind up with a degree in French. You could challenge your professors, change your friends and change your mind. That was the beauty of college, particularly on a campus large enough to offer a wide array of student organizations: You could reinvent yourself and your social circle again and again, until you figured out who you really were and what you really believed.

The notion of college as a time of unparalleled intellectual exploration still dominates our popular imagination. But the on-the-ground reality has changed. At a time when college administrators give their students more license and encouragement than ever before to indulge in sexual experimentation and the baser elements of the booze-soaked hook-up culture, students’ more fundamental freedoms — of religion, speech and association ­— increasingly are under attack.

The attacks typically target student groups that fail to toe the politically correct line on hot-button social issues. Case in point is the highly publicized controversy now brewing at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Vanderbilt’s conservative Christian student organizations, including the Christian Legal Society, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and Campus Crusade, are under fire from university administrators who want them to comply with a campus non-discrimination policy that covers ‘sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” Sounds harmless in theory, but in practice, compliance with that policy means that these groups no longer could insist that their leaders uphold the beliefs upon which their groups were founded — including belief in biblical morality and the biblical prohibition on sex outside of man-woman marriage.

The Vanderbilt flap is not unprecedented. Last year, the Supreme Court upheld the right of Hastings College of the Law in California to demand that a Christian student group seeking official campus recognition accept leaders who openly reject its statement of faith. Authored by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the 5-4 decision paved the way for schools to effectively prohibit socially conservative religious students from forming official campus alliances because their traditional sexual morality conflicts with campus non-discrimination policies. In his dissent, Justice Samuel Alito blasted the decision because it “arms public educational institutions with a handy weapon for suppressing the speech of unpopular groups.” Judging from controversies that have surfaced this fall at such schools as the University of Oklahoma and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — where Christian student groups have found themselves in the crosshairs of university officials because their beliefs conflict with campus non-discrimination policies — Alito’s warning looks prescient.

In the Vanderbilt case, the crackdown stemmed from a situation last year in which a Christian fraternity asked an openly gay student to leave. The student had hundreds of other campus organizations to choose from: He could have joined one of Vanderbilt’s gay and lesbian alliances or rushed a fraternity with less restrictive policies on its members’ religious beliefs and sexual conduct. He could have formed a new organization, perhaps an advocacy group for students interested in making existing fraternities more gay-friendly. Instead, he opted for the nanny-state solution: Complain to college administrators so they can punish the peers who excluded him.

Vanderbilt administrators did not let him down. And the implications of their heavy-handed approach to fixing this “problem” of ideological non-conformity among students are as sweeping as they are silly.

By the logic of Vanderbilt administrators, the Muslim Student Association must allow ultra-orthodox Jews to run its meetings. OUTLaw, a campus gay and lesbian alliance, must welcome members who oppose gay rights. The Vanderbilt Secular Student Alliance must accept Bible-toting proselytizers. The campus environmentalists must admit global-warming skeptics; the campus vegetarians must embrace leather-wearing, Big Mac-munching hunters; and the Vanderbilt branch of Amnesty International must roll out the welcome mat for death-penalty backers.

Of course, none of that will happen at Vanderbilt because — despite the broad wording of the school’s non-discrimination policy — only certain types of discrimination constitute actionable offenses in the minds of university administrators. Like so many other schools that have issued these comply-or-die demands to conservative Christian campus groups, Vanderbilt shows no sign of extending those demands to other student groups that embrace more politically correct views.

The result is an appalling double-standard that should shame any truly free-thinking university official. Too bad so few such creatures exist on campuses today.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch September 29, 2011

Colleen Carroll Campbell is a St. Louis-based author, former presidential speechwriter and television and radio host of “Faith & Culture” on EWTN. Her website is www.colleen-campbell.com.

Personhood Begins When Life Begins

In 10 Colleen Carroll Campbell on 2012/06/23 at 9:11 AM

Campbell writes for On Faith as part of our expert roundtable on the Mississippi personhood initiative, a constitutional referendum on whether or not to call a fertilized human egg a ‘person,’ thus giving it legal rights and protection. Read Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life on Taking ‘personhood’ back and Frances Kissling, former head of Catholics for Choice, who asksDoes Mississippi really respect life?.

Most news reports about Mississippi’s proposed “personhood amendment” have cast the measure’s pro-life sponsors as the aggressors in a brand-new phase of the abortion wars, one in which abortion opponents rely on clever linguistic tricks to launch an unprecedented attack on abortion rights. That storyline omits one important fact: Abortion-rights advocates are the ones who fired the first salvos of the personhood debate. And they have been using semantic sleights of hand to gain leverage in that debate since long before the launch of Mississippi’s “Yes on 26” campaign.

The question of who counts as a rights-bearing human person first gained prominence in the abortion debate after the Roe v. Wade ruling of 1973. That’s when Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun and his colleagues presumed to overturn anti-abortion laws across America even as they professed ignorance of a basic biological fact the average seventh-grader can recite in his sleep: the question of when human life begins.

“We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins,” Blackmun wrote, in his attempt to explain why the court had sidestepped the main argument against legalized abortion: the fact that it entails the destruction of a living human being. “When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.”

Blackmun’s muddled statement confused the biological question of when human life begins with the moral and philosophical question of what value that nascent human life possesses. Unwilling to explicitly answer the latter, he disingenuously pleaded ignorance about the former. He did so even though the answer to his supposedly vexing biological query can be found in most any embryology textbook, including those written decades ago, when abortion-rights activists still were claiming that “no one knows when life begins.” As the 1975 edition of Medical Embryology put it, “The development of a human being begins with fertilization, a process by which two highly specialized cells, the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female, unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote.”

Blackmun’s Roe rationale may have been riddled with holes, but abortion-rights activists have been parroting it faithfully for four decades. Shifting the abortion debate from scientific facts to philosophical theories of personhood has become their favorite rhetorical trick now that advances in ultrasound technology have undercut their earlier denials of the unborn child’s humanity. Their new argument goes like this: that being you see waving at you from the sonogram screen is indeed human and alive, but she is not a human person – and is not, therefore, entitled to human rights.

In this view, exactly what makes a human being a person is unclear. Some abortion-rights advocates define personhood by location — as in, outside the womb — or by such qualities as rationality and autonomy. Using that latter definition, Princeton philosopher Peter Singer argues that severely disabled newborns and demented adults do not count as persons while chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans do. Not surprisingly, Singer defends infanticide and euthanasia as well as abortion, claiming that it is illogical to protect human life simply because it is human.

The pro-life view, by contrast, embraces the self-evident truth that personhood begins when life begins. So the human embryo is a person, even if he is unwanted by the parents who conceived him or the scientists who cloned him. The fetus is a person, even if her gender or genetic defect makes her existence an inconvenience. The disabled child, the comatose spouse, the demented elder – all are persons entitled to rights simply because of the fact of their humanity.

This truth does not make personhood amendments like the one proposed in Mississippi a slam dunk, even for staunchly pro-life Americans. Many, including myself, have concerns about the strategic merits of such amendments and worry that they could have unintended legal consequences that undermine the pro-life cause.

Even so, the basic philosophical premise behind these amendments is eminently reasonable. And the alternative on offer – which severs humanity from personhood – is fraught with peril. If being human is not enough to entitle one to human rights, then the very concept of human rights loses meaning. And all of us — born and unborn, strong and weak, young and old — someday will find ourselves on the wrong end of that cruel measuring stick.

Faith Forum, November 02, 2011

Colleen Carroll Campbell is author of “The New Faithful,” an ex-presidential speechwriter, op-ed columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and host of “Faith & Culture,” a TV and radio show on EWTN.

Legal, But Not Safe Or Rare

In 10 Colleen Carroll Campbell on 2012/05/25 at 11:11 AM


His clinic reeked of cat urine, its furniture and blankets bore blood stains and a padlock rendered its emergency exit useless. Untrained assistants posing as doctors used rusty, unsterilized medical instruments that spread venereal disease among the women who came seeking abortions. The same corroded tubes that suctioned unborn babies from their mothers’ wombs were used in patients’ mouths when they needed oxygen. Everywhere you looked, there were dead bodies: in the refrigerator and freezer, milk jugs, orange-juice cartons, shoeboxes and cat-food bins.

Not to worry, though. The bodies and body parts — including the jars of tiny feet that Philadelphia abortion provider Dr. Kermit Gosnell kept around for “research” — were not those of real, rights-bearing human persons. They were the corpses of unborn or, in some cases, prematurely newborn infants targeted for abortion. They were mere fetal matter, objects of that much-revered constitutional right to privacy that seven U.S. Supreme Court justices discovered in an emanation of a penumbra 38 years ago this month.

The commemoration of the companion Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton rulings last week brought with it all the familiar sights and sounds in a nation divided by abortion. There were the images of an estimated 200,000 pro-life marchers swarming the National Mall, another 40,000 pro-life marchers pulsing along the San Francisco waterfront and pockets of pro-choice counter-protesters in both places. There were the usual press releases and public statements, including President Barack Obama’s oblique ode to “women’s health and reproductive freedom” and to the “principle that government should not intrude on private family matters.”

Obama’s statement never mentioned abortion explicitly, perhaps because doing so might evoke the same grisly images and squeamish feelings that stories about Gosnell’s clinic generated when they surfaced two days before Roe’s anniversary. Abortion-rights advocates rushed to remind us that much of what Gosnell did was illegal — including ‘snipping,” Gosnell’s habit of inducing labor in a woman and waiting until her baby was born, then jamming a scissors in the back of the baby’s neck and severing his spinal cord. Gosnell said it was his way of “ensuring fetal demise” for babies like the 30-week-old, 6-pound boy whose spine he snipped after joking that the baby “could walk me to the bus stop.”

The Philadelphia grand jury report about Gosnell’s crimes details a chilling pattern of poor oversight by several government agencies, as well as a visit by a National Abortion Federation reviewer who was repulsed enough by Gosnell’s practices to deny him the group’s approval seal but not enough to report him to authorities. It was not that no one knew what Gosnell was up to, the report said, it was just that no one wanted to do anything about it. One reason: Under the pro-choice administration of former Governor Tom Ridge, the report said, “officials concluded that inspections would be ‘putting a barrier up to women’ seeking abortions. Better to leave clinics to do as they pleased.”

Gosnell has been charged with the third-degree murder of one woman and first-degree murders of seven infants, whose deaths violate the 2002 Born-Alive Infants Protection Act that makes it illegal to kill infants that survive abortions. Obama voted against the Illinois version of that law three times as a state senator, dismissing it as a stealth step toward limiting abortion rights.

In a sense, he was right. Once you admit that an unwanted human being barely outside the birth canal is a rights-bearing baby, it’s tough to argue that one inside the birth canal is disposable fetal material. Similarly, the distinction between the 24-week-old fetuses Gosnell aborted legally and the 25-week-old fetuses he aborted illegally makes little sense, given that infants born younger than 24 weeks sometimes survive and Doe’s wide-open health exception renders late-term abortion limits toothless anyway.

Gosnell himself seemed perplexed about the outrage surrounding abortions he was once hailed as a hero for performing, back when they were thought to be legal.

“Is it possible you could explain the seven counts?” he asked at his arraignment. “I understand the one count because of the patient who died but not the others.”

One could ask abortion-rights defenders like Obama the same question: Could you please explain why some abortions are an outrage and others merely a choice? And could you explain exactly how — in a nation that has allowed clinics like Gosnell’s to operate with impunity and an estimated 50 million children to be aborted since 1973 — Roe has made abortion “safe, legal and rare”?

Didn’t think so.

St.Louis Post-Dispatch. January 27, 2011

Colleen Carroll Campbell is a St. Louis-based author, former presidential speechwriter and television and radio host of “Faith & Culture” on EWTN. Her website is www.colleen-campbell.com.

Catholics’ Disregard of Teaching Does Not Make It Untrue

In 10 Colleen Carroll Campbell on 2012/05/10 at 11:13 AM

 

Q:Pope Benedict XVI and Catholic Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke both recently characterized voting as a moral act with spiritual consequences. The pope said that “decriminalizing abortion is a betrayal to democracy,” (http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1004432.htm) since he believes the procedure denies rights to the unborn.  Burke called voting a “serious moral obligation” and added that Catholics “can never vote for someone who favors absolutely what’s called the ‘right to choice.'” (http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=8095)

If Catholics largely disregard the church’s teaching (the 2008 Catholic vote for president went to pro-choice Obama), does what the pope says matter? Is voting a religious act or purely political? (http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/05/catholics-turned-to-the-democrat/)

Political contests have a moral character because they have moral consequences. And a citizen’s religious worldview necessarily guides the choices he makes in the voting booth, whether he is conscious of it or not.

We have become accustomed in recent decades to divorcing politics from morality and denouncing as a theocrat anyone who suggests that our faith should inform our political views. The result is what the late Rev. Richard John Neuhaus called “the naked public square”: a sanitized space where political arguments are unwelcome if they spring from religious conviction, appeals to once self-evident truths are neither embraced nor challenged but reflexively dismissed as mere opinion, and debates about life’s most fundamental questions are ruled out of bounds before they can begin. In the naked public square, the division between faith and reason, God and man, private truth and the public ethic is absolute and impermeable. 

Part of the rationale behind this naked public square is a desire to rid our public square of religious conflicts, to privatize religion and therefore render it irrelevant to political debates about how we ought to order our life together. The privatization of religion buys us a measure of peace and quiet in the short-term, but it also prevents the most fundamental form of deliberation necessary to the functioning of a democracy: honest debates about right and wrong, good and evil, truth and falsehood. 

These debates need not be explicitly sectarian, but they are always essentially religious, because they are about questions of ultimate meaning. What else, after all, is at the core of our disputes about abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, physician-assisted suicide, and same-sex marriage? Such disagreements arise from competing ideas about the value of human life, the meaning of human sexuality, and whether and how we can know moral truth. Even those who claim no religious affiliation or belief in any moral absolutes belie their own self-proclaimed neutrality when they insist on the rightness of their position and on the adoption of laws that reflect their own laissez-faire or morally relativistic views. 

No one comes to the public square without an agenda, a set of values, and a worldview. Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke are simply calling on members of their flock to bring their Catholic worldview to bear on their voting decisions. They are asking Catholics to follow Church teaching by prioritizing the human person’s inalienable right to life over prudential concerns about the best way to manage the economy, reform health care or address immigration.

This is not a new challenge. The U.S. bishops have issued it repeatedly, as in their 1998 statement, “Living the Gospel of Life,” where they identified opposition to abortion and euthanasia as the indispensable foundation of efforts to build a culture of life and noted that “being ‘right'” on other issues “can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life.”

In the case of Pope Benedict, he is calling for the same prioritization he called for in 2004, when he answered a request for guidance from Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick with these words:

“Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. …While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

That many Catholics disregard this teaching does not change its validity or importance, any more than the fact that many Catholics skip Sunday Mass nullifies their duty to observe the Sabbath. It is simply a reminder that American Catholics, like Americans in many religious traditions, have a long way to go when it comes to connecting the faith they profess with the decisions they make beyond church walls.

Washington Post, November 2, 2010  

Colleen Carroll Campbell is author of “The New Faithful,” an ex-presidential speechwriter, op-ed columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and host of “Faith & Culture,” a TV and radio show on EWTN.

 

A Reality Check Before an Abortion

In 10 Colleen Carroll Campbell on 2012/04/19 at 9:11 AM

It’s a moment every mother knows, and these days, it typically comes during the first ultrasound. As you lie in a darkened room and stare at what appear to be meaningless black-and-white streaks on a computer screen, your eyes suddenly fix upon that distinct little circle clinging to the uterine wall and you realize: That’s my baby.

Sometimes the moment comes when you hear the heartbeat, that staccato throbbing echoing through the exam room at a pace all its own. It overlaps at times with your own but is definitely not the same — it’s faster and more urgent, a reminder that the life growing within you has its own trajectory, intertwined with but independent from your own.

Until now, everything about your pregnancy has had a distant, theoretical feel: a faint plus sign on a pregnancy-test stick, a bunch of numbers on a blood-level report, a slight rounding of your stomach where it used to be flat.  You may have celebrated these signs or lamented them, but either way, the pregnancy did not feel quite real. Now it does.

And for the first time, it really hits you. This is not just about me or even the baby’s father and me. There is someone else involved — another body, another destiny, another human life.

A bill winding its way through the Missouri Legislature right now would ensure that every woman seeking an abortion has an opportunity to experience that moment before she decides to end her pregnancy and her unborn child’s life.  Sponsored by Sen. Robert Mayer, R-Dexter, this measure, Senate Bill 793, cleared the Senate last month. Now it is in the House awaiting consideration before the legislative session ends next week.

The measure includes a number of other features. It would provide women seeking abortions information about fetal development, pregnancy resource centers, alternatives to abortion and the child support obligations of the baby’s father under state law. It also would bar taxpayer-funded insurance coverage for elective abortions in plans offered through health insurance exchanges established by the new federal health care law.

The most controversial aspect of the bill has turned out to be the one that would seem to be its least offensive: its call for an ultrasound to be offered at least 24 hours before an abortion to any woman who wants one. Similar legislation in Oklahoma, Florida and Louisiana has sparked heated condemnations from abortion-rights activists, who have denounced ultrasounds as “burdensome” and “invasive.” This despite the fact that many abortion providers routinely conduct ultrasounds anyway, and the Missouri bill merely stipulates that a pregnant woman be given a chance to see what her doctor or nurse sees: the living, breathing being targeted for abortion.

It is true that viewing an ultrasound can complicate a woman’s decision to abort. Slogans about “my body and my choice” ring a little hollow when you are faced with another body that will be destroyed by your choice. And it’s harder to believe that it’s “just a lump of tissue” when you hear that lump’s heartbeat or see her tiny hands waving at you from the sonogram screen.

But if the vast majority of women choosing abortion are what abortion-rights advocates always say they are — empowered, informed and sufficiently deliberative about the irreversible decision they are about to make — then an optional ultrasound will not tell them anything new or sway them from a choice about which they feel secure.

Of course, there are countless stories of women who, upon hearing their baby’s heartbeat or seeing his blurry ultrasound image, decided to spare his life.  Supporters of informed consent laws see those stories as proof that too many women choose abortion from a position of desperation and vulnerability rather than knowledge and strength.

If they are right, more mothers will discover the humanity of their unborn child, more children will be allowed to live, and more couples hoping to adopt will find a child to love. If they are wrong, women in Missouri will face a minor speed bump on their road to speedy abortions.

Surely that little life peeking out at us from the sonogram screen is worth that much.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch May 06, 2010

Colleen Carroll Campbell is a St. Louis-based author, former presidential speechwriter and television and radio host of “Faith & Culture” on EWTN. Her website is www.colleen-campbell.com.

Judicial Tyranny at Work

In 10 Colleen Carroll Campbell on 2012/03/03 at 12:00 AM

When a New York judge ruled earlier this month that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry, she bucked the state’s ban on gay marriage, overrode the will of most Americans and ignored the universal, millennia-old understanding of marriage.  But in one respect, at least, she was adhering to tradition: Her decision was only the latest in a series of controversial rulings issued by activist judges who have been reshaping American sexual mores from the bench for more than three decades.

As citizens who believe in government of the people, by the people and for the people, we should be concerned that a small cabal of judicial elites is making nearly all of the important decisions that face us as a nation, and they are too often making them with a flagrant disregard for our most fundamental values.  Their decisions are increasingly rooted not in the self-evident truths of our Constitution and Bill of Rights, but in a morally relativistic worldview that rejects ethical absolutes, opposes religious values and fails to defend our most fundamental rights and institutions – especially faith and family.

The Founding Fathers never wanted it this way.  They established the separation of powers to prevent any of the three branches of government from overstepping its bounds and exercising too much influence over society.  Judges were to be neutral interpreters of the law, their authority limited by the words of the Constitution and the intent of the legislature.  They were not to usurp the power of legislators or to interfere with the most basic principle of our democracy: our right to govern ourselves.

The vision of the Founding Fathers is confirmed by Catholic teachings.  In his 1991 social encyclical, Centesimus Annus (“Hundredth Year”), Pope John Paul II argued that a free society must honor the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity.  Subsidiarity holds that the government should not do for the people what they can and must do for themselves.  Solidarity ensures a defense of the weakest among us.

The Pope said that both are necessary for the proper functioning of a free society.  He also emphasized the importance of a vibrant moral culture that teaches citizens the virtues they need to govern themselves and acts as a counterweight to government power.  After living under Nazi and Communist occupation in Poland, the Pope knew the dangers of a government that grows too powerful, too intrusive and too hostile to the religious and moral values of its citizens.

In considering what sort of judges belongs on the bench, Catholics should heed the teachings of their faith and the wisdom of the Founding Fathers.  The activist judges who legalized abortion 32 years ago violated the constraints of our Constitution, the self-governance principle of our democracy and the right to life of the unborn.  Now a new breed of judicial elites is aiming to radically redefine marriage as a private affair for the gratification of consenting adults rather than a public institution geared toward the bearing and rearing of children.

Social science has shown again and again what the Catholic faith teaches as a matter of principle: that children lead healthier, happier lives when they are raised by their married, biological parents.  If activist judges use their power to separate marriage from procreation in the public mind, children will be the first to suffer in a culture that no longer encourages their parents to get married and stay married.

For the sake of the next generation, and in deference to the generations that came before us, we have a duty to defend the moral culture that sustains our democracy and demand judges who will do the same.

Our Sunday Visitor

Colleen Carroll Campbell is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. 

A Relative Value? By Colleen Carroll Campbell

In 10 Colleen Carroll Campbell on 2012/01/19 at 11:11 PM

All human life should be defended.

When he takes the podium at the Republican National Convention tonight, Michael Reagan will give voice to a little-known constituency in the stem-cell debates: Relatives of Alzheimer’s sufferers who do not want human embryos destroyed in the search for a cure.

Like Nancy Reagan and Ron Reagan Jr., Michael Reagan knows the horrors of Alzheimer’s firsthand. He watched as its plaques and tangles destroyed the brain of his adoptive father, the late President Reagan. But unlike his stepmother and stepbrother, Michael Reagan does not believe that restrictions on taxpayer funding of embryonic-stem-cell research are the only obstacle to instant cures for everything from diabetes to Parkinson’s. And like his father, he believes that human life should be protected from the moment of conception.

Read more: http://old.nationalreview.com/comment/campbell200409010828.asp

Colleen Carroll Campbell is a St. Louis-based author, former presidential speechwriter and television and radio host of “Faith & Culture” on EWTN. Her website is www.colleen-campbell.com.

Pope John Paul II: Staunch defender of the dignity of women By Colleen Carroll Campbell

In 10 Colleen Carroll Campbell on 2012/01/07 at 12:00 AM

How do you summarize the legacy of a towering figure like Pope John Paul II, a man whose charismatic leadership precipitated the collapse of communism, thawed centuries of hostility between the Catholic Church and other religions and led him to log enough miles during his 26-year pontificate to circumnavigate the globe 30 times? Summarizing the late pope’s influence on my own life is only slightly less daunting, given that when he died in 2005, John Paul was the only pope I had ever known.

Like most Catholics of my generation, I grew up seeing John Paul as a sort of permanent fixture on the world stage. He seemed to be everywhere: boldly defending religious freedom in the heart of communist Poland, generously forgiving his would-be assassin in that bleak Roman prison cell, jovially greeting the pulsing throngs of teens and young adults who cheered him at World Youth Day gatherings from Denver to Manila. His dramatic witness to the Gospel impressed me from afar, but it was only after I saw that witness in person that I began to take a closer look at the man and his message.

Read more:http://www.colleen-campbell.com/Misc_Columns/110430OnFaithJohnPaul.htm

Colleen Carroll Campbell is a St. Louis-based author, former presidential speechwriter and television and radio host of “Faith & Culture” on EWTN. Her website is www.colleen-campbell.com.