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Posts Tagged ‘Family’

“Mary is close beside you”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2014/10/03 at 12:00 AM
 
You are not alone. Suffer that tribulation joyfully. It’s true, poor child, that you don’t feel your Mother’s hand in yours. But… have you never seen the mothers of this earth, with arms outstretched, following their little ones when, without anyone’s help, they venture to take their first shaky steps? You are not alone: Mary is close beside you. (The Way, 900)

It makes me very happy to see that this devotion is always alive, awakening in Christians a supernatural desire to act as “members of God’s household.”

Seeing how so many Christians express their affection for the Virgin Mary, surely you also feel more a part of the Church, closer to those brothers and sisters of yours. It is like a family reunion. Grown‑up children, whom life has separated, come back to their mother for some family anniversary. And even if they have not always got on well together, today things are different; they feel united, sharing the same affection.

Mary continually builds the Church and keeps it together. It is difficult to have devotion to our Lady and not feel closer to the other members of the mystical body and more united to its visible head, the pope. That’s why I like to repeat: All with Peter to Jesus through Mary!(Christ is passing by, 139.)

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The Church is God’s Call to Be Part of His Family

In Uncategorized on 2014/09/05 at 12:00 AM

 “A mystery,” Pope Francis said, “that we all live and in which we all take part.” The Pope, who will discuss this topic in light of Vatican Council II texts, began from the parable of the prodigal son that illustrates God’s plan for humanity.

In spite of the rain that suddenly fell on Rome this morning, Francis followed his custom of winding through St. Peter’s Square in the Popemobile, greeting the tens of thousands of people present and, before beginning his catechesis, he joked with them, praising their endurance in spite of the inclement weather.

In his teaching, the Holy Father explained that God’s plan is “to make of all of us one family of his children, [a family] in which each one feels close to and loved by him … feels the warmth of being the family of God. The Church—not an organization born out of an agreement between some persons but … the work of God, born of this love and progressively built in history—has her origin in this great plan.”

The Church, the pontiff explained, “is born of God’s desire to call all men and women to communion with him, to friendship with him, even further, to participate as his children in his very divinity. The word ‘Church’ itself, from the Greek ‘ekklesia’, means ‘convocation’. God calls us, urges us to leave selfishness behind, the tendency to be wrapped up in oneself, and calls us to be part of his family. This call has its origins in creation itself. God created us so that we might live a relationship of profound friendship with him and, when sin cut off that relationship with him, with others, and with creation, God did not abandon us. The entire story of salvation is the story of God seeking humans, offering us his love, gathering us to him. He called Abraham to be the father of many; He chose the people of Israel to forge a covenant that embraces all peoples; and he sent, in the fullness of time, his Son so that his plan of love and salvation might be fulfilled in a new and eternal covenant with all of humanity.”

“When we read the Gospel we see that Jesus gathers a small community around him that welcomes his word, follows it, shares his journey, becomes his family. And with this community He prepares and builds his Church.” It is a Church whose origin lies in the “supreme act of love on the Cross, in Jesus’ opened side from which flow blood and water, symbol of the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Baptism. In the family of God, in the Church, the lifeblood is God’s love that is made concrete in loving him and others, all, without distinction or limits. The Church is a family in which we love and are loved.” The Church is made manifest, as on Pentecost, “when the gift of the Holy Spirit fills the hearts of the Apostles and compels them to go out and begin the journey to proclaim the Gospel, to spread God’s love.”

The Pope observed that, even today, “there are some who say: ‘Christ yes, the Church no’. Like those who say: ‘I believe in God, but not in the priests’. But it is precisely the Church that brings us Christ and brings us to God. The Church is the great family of the children of God. Of course it also has human aspects. there are defects, imperfections, and sins in those who make her up, pastors and faithful. Even the Pope has them, and many. But what is beautiful is that, when we realize that we are sinners we encounter the mercy of God who always forgives. He never forgets us. He gathers us up in his love of forgiveness and mercy. Some say that sin is an offence against God, but it is also an opportunity for the humility to realize that there is something better: God’s mercy. Let’s think about this.”

“How much do I love the Church? Do I pray for her? Do I feel part of the family of the Church? What am I doing to make it a community in which everyone feels welcomed and understood, feels God’s mercy and love that renews life? Faith is a gift and an act that has to do with us personally, but God calls us to live our faith together, as a family, as the Church.”

“Let us ask the Lord, particularly in this Year of Faith, that our communities, that all the Church, be ever more truly families that live and bring the warmth of God,” the Holy Father concluded.

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Death of Marriage by Joanna Bogle

In 11 Joanna Bogle on 2013/05/01 at 12:00 AM

“In the valley of the shadow of death…”

…The words of the Psalmist came into my head today as I read the headlines. The psalmist promises that, with the Lord as our shepherd, we need not fear…Today our country walked into the valley of the shadow of death. Parliament has voted that a family does not consist of a mother and father who transmit life to their children. It banned any statement that a family needs a father, and agreed that two lesbians who want a child can decide to have one using artificial means. It rejected calls to tighten up the abortion law even after hearing the descriptions of how children are dismembered as small perfectly-formed babies at 22 weeks. It passed legislation which treats a human person as something that can be used for a utilitarian purpose.If some one, in whatever civilisation replaces ours, writes about these days, those who passed this legislation will be treated with savagery. The evil that will result from what Parliament has now permitted is clear enough even at this stage – but it will generate more evil, and terrible things will be done.No civilisation has ever survived, let alone prospered, when it failed to understand that human beings are at the heart of it all, that human existence has a value. Nor can any civilisation work that is based on a lie: and everyone knows that it is a lie to pretend that human life is not generated through the union of a man and a woman, and that this creates a family.

Parental Rights:The Guardian of Freedom

In 09 Mary Summa, JD on 2013/05/01 at 12:00 AM

By Mary Summa, J.D.

In 2007, soldiers abruptly entered a home in Germany and took a young boy because his mother chose to home-school him.1 In Scotland, in 2009, the government took custody of a couple’s three and four year-old children because a government bureaucrat had deemed the children “too fat.”2 In September 2009, Swedish authorities stopped a plane about to take-off to remove a seven year-old from his parents because they refused to put the boy in a government-run school.3 These events abroad should give every American pause. In many parts of the world today, families are at the mercy of the government.

Research demonstrates that the traditional, intact family is the best environment to raise children. The intact family is also the protector of political freedom. As communities succumb to the power of the government, the family unit serves as the last barrier between freedom and tyranny. Until recent years in this country, the government befriended the family. Correctly, courts have stepped in and protected children from the small minority of parents who have threatened their children’s well-being.

For the vast majority of families, however, courts and legislatures have protected their autonomy and respected the inherent rights of fit parents to raise their own children as they deem appropriate. Yet, as government’s thirst for power and control increases, the family has become a target. If this assault is not confronted and stopped, precious freedoms will be diminished and eventually lost.

What Are Parental Rights?

Parental rights are powers vested in parents to conceive and rear children free from government control. These rights, recognized by the courts, include: the right to the custody and care of minor children, the right to establish a child’s residence, and the right to direct a child’s moral and spiritual upbringing, education, and medical treatment.

With these rights, come responsibilities, and parents are charged with the responsibility to educate, discipline, support, and protect their minor children.4 These powers emanate from the family—the basic unit of society—which historians and anthropologists believe has existed in every known human society.5 The family is not a creation of government.6

English Common Law adhered to the belief that marriage and family are institutions established by God. Therefore, rights emanating from that institution—parental rights—are natural rights that government was obliged to protect. Parental decision-making was limited by the State only in cases where the parent placed the child in clear and present danger, a strictly interpreted doctrine called the Parens Patriae Doctrine.7

Throughout colonial America, only fathers could enforce these rights. Fathers retained the custodial rights of children, and mothers had little authority to enforce custody or other parental rights.8 In 1944, with the Supreme Court’s decision in Prince v. Massachusetts,9 parental rights were recognized for both the mother and the father. Those rights, as the court recognized, “reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for obligations the state can neither supply nor hinder.”10

The family is not a creation of government.

America’s History – Protecting Parental Rights

Traditionally, the U.S. Congress and state legislatures have restrained themselves from trampling on the right of fit parents to rear children free from government control11 When they did stray from this basic tenet, the Supreme Court struck down these laws as unconstitutional. The Court has protected family autonomy and parental rights as being guaranteed by the Ninth Amendment12 and the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment13 to the U.S. Constitution. The courts have recognized that the right to conceive and rear children is a “basic civil right of man,”14 and a right “far more precious … than property rights.”15

In the early to mid 20th Century, the Supreme Court vigilantly protected the right of parents to educate their children as the parent deemed appropriate.16 In 1925, in Pierce v. Society of Sisters,17 the Supreme Court struck down a state statute requiring children to attend public schools. Parents in this case had chosen to send their children to parochial schools, which under state statute violated compulsory education laws. In Pierce, the court stated:

The child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.18

Later in 1944, in Prince v. Massachusetts,19 the U.S. Supreme Court, although recognizing the state’s interest in an educated citizenry, underscored the paramount rights of parents to direct the religious training and upbringing of their children:

The custody, care, and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for obligations the state can neither supply nor hinder. And it is in recognition of this that these decisions have respected the private realm of family life which the state cannot enter.

In Wisconsin v. Yoder,20 in 1972, the Supreme Court affirmed this common law principle by preventing the state from forcing Amish parents to send their children to school beyond eighth grade. Recognizing family autonomy in the areas of education and religious upbringing, the court rejected the State’s argument that it had a right to “save” the child from the decisions of the parents. The court stated:

The history and culture of Western civilization reflect a strong tradition of parental concern for the nurture and upbringing of their children. This primary role of the parents in the upbringing of their children is now established beyond debate as an enduring American tradition.21

Without exception, the highest court held fast to the principle that fit parents, not the state, have the primary role of raising and nurturing children. Under the doctrine, Parens Patriae, the State can pierce this wall of protection only when the parent places a child in clear and present danger of harm.

The 1960s witnessed a rise in individual rights movements—women’s rights, children’s rights, homosexual rights, and minority rights. Holding their banners of protest, masses marched on Washington, D.C., demanding equality. Rights are a funny thing, though. They are not asserted in a vacuum. Whether justified or not, when a right is asserted by one citizen or entity, another citizen’s rights are modified, reduced, or even eliminated.

The Children’s Rights Movement

The Children’s Rights Movement, some believe, struck the first crippling blow to family autonomy and parental rights when it roared onto the political scene in the 1960s. Despite, some strides in the early part of the 20th Century in the areas of juvenile justice and labor laws, the movement floundered until the Supreme Court changed course in 1967 with its decision in In re Gault.22 In that decision, the Court extended 14th Amendment Due Process protections to children in juvenile delinquency hearings. For the first time in law, the government recognized children’s rights, separate and apart from parents’. Congress, state legislatures, and courts, however, quickly expanded the standard’s original application to justify a plethora of legislation and court cases in the area of child custody, education, health care, and discipline.

This movement has not been confined to the United States. The conflict between parent rights and child rights was never more apparent than with the 1989 United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The document acknowledges the individual rights of children, which may be separate and distinct from and conflict with parents’ rights.

Article 3 gives administrative or legislative authority to decide what actions are “in the best interest of the child.” Article 12 gives to the child “who is capable of forming his or her own views” the right to express them. The child’s views will be given “due weight,” depending on the age and maturity of the child.23

According to Michael Farris, an attorney and chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, the UNCRC dictates two things: “1. Government can override parental decisions without proof of abuse, neglect or harm; 2. Children have legally enforceable rights to complain about parental decision-making in every area of their life, including religious and educational decisions.”24

Parents who are citizens of countries that have ratified the treaty have lost the unfettered discretion to make decisions on behalf of their children. A parent’s violation of the ‘rights’ of their own children could subject the parent to international condemnation or, worse, punishment.

According to a 2009 Congressional Research Service report, 193 countries have ratified the treaty. The United States and Somolia are the only two countries that have not.25 Consequently, U.S. parents, unlike most parents around the world, do not have to answer to bureaucrats or courts for decisions they make regarding the rearing of their own children.

Scripture and history warn that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Creating conflicting rights within a family—in this case, parent against child—will do nothing but weaken the autonomy and strength of the family, and lead to its demise.

Discipline

As mentioned previously, under the Doctrine of Parens Patriae, the government has always had the right to step in and protect the child from unfit parents. According to one law professor, the government has also used this doctrine to assist parents

in discipline. Called “juvenile status offense legislation,” many states still have truancy laws, curfew laws, and laws dealing with children who perpetually run away from home.26 One could argue that traditionally written statutory rape laws provided parents with a “big stick” solution for boys who took advantage of daughters.

Today, the tables have turned. The government is no longer in the business of assisting parents in their inherent responsibility to discipline. Rather, government is partnering with children to punish their parents. Never, until recently, has the government taken such an active role in pitting children against parents.

A 1980 case illustrates this point. In In re Welfare of Sumney,27 under a Washington State statute, the state granted a 15 year-old’s petition seeking “alter- native residential placement.” Despite the fact that there was no evidence of abuse, neglect or parental unfitness, the State granted the petition citing “the best interest of the child.” In his dissent, Washington State Supreme Court Justice Robert Brachtenbach pointed out when the child was asked why she thought there was a conflict in the home, the child replied, “I just feel there is a communication gap there.” Further testimony revealed that the only “crime” committed by the parents was an insistence that their daughter not take drugs … use alcohol … or be sexually active and that she be in at a reasonable hour.”28 In exchange for asking their daughter to adopt a healthy, moral lifestyle, the parents were denied custody.

Health Care

Under common law, children were viewed as incapable of consenting to all medical treatment. Parents had the exclusive authority to make medical decisions on behalf of their children. In emergencies, parental consent was assumed and did not need to be obtained prior to treatment. In cases of abuse or neglect, common law recognized the right of the government to step in and act as the parent to remove the child from harm.

Abortion. In 1976, in Planned Parenthood v. Danforth,29 the court found unconstitutional a statute requiring parental consent for abortion. Again, in 1979, the Court proclaimed that parents did not have “an absolute and possibly arbitrary” right to veto a child’s decision to obtain an abortion.30

In 1992, however, the Supreme Court changed course and allowed to stand a state statute requiring parental consent for abortion with a judicial bypass, which allows a judge to sign off on a minor’s abortion in place of her parents in some circumstances.31Over the past 18 years, states have responded to this opportunity to restore parental authority over their children’s healthcare. According to a September 2010 Guttmacher Institute report, 34 states require some parental involvement in a minor’s decision to have an abortion. Of these states, 20 require parental consent only—two of which require both parents to consent; 10 states require parental notification only—one of which requires both parents to be notified; and four states require both parental consent and notification.32

In 1995, incidentally, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted a statute requiring parental consent for abortion. The law is flawed, however, because it does not require authenticity of the signature by a notary, thus, allowing forged signatures to meet the consent requirement of the statute.33

Contraception. Over the past 30 years, legislators at both the state and federal levels have aggressively weakened parental authority in other areas of children’s healthcare, including healthcare associated with sexual activity. The U.S. Congress has led the charge. Since its inception in 1970, there have been no “parental consent” requirements on monies for Title X of the Public Health Service Act or federal “family planning.” In the 1980s, regulations were promulgated to give parents the right to consent to contraceptives and other services provided by Title X funding. In the 1990s, additional administrative and legislative attempts were made to return to parents their rightful authority to control the health-care of their children. While valiant, all these efforts ultimately failed legislatively or by court challenge.34

State legislators have made some strides in protecting parental authority in relation to minors’ access to contraceptives. According to a January 2011 Guttmacher Institute report, 21 states and

How to Protect the Family

To rebuild the wall protecting family autonomy, we should:

• Enact a marriage amendment in N.C. defining marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman, which serves as the first step to protecting family autonomy.

• Enact federal and state constitutional amendments on parental rights, including an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to bar enactment of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

• Repeal no-fault divorce. • Repeal state laws that deny parents the right to decide all medical

decisions for their children, including drug and alcohol treatment, STD treatment, abortion, and contraceptives, except in cases of emergency and with a judicial bypass if required by case law.

• Expand parental choice in education, through means such as education tax credits.

D.C. give minors unrestrained access to contraceptives without parental consent. Twenty-five states allow a minor access to contraceptives only under certain circumstances without parental consent, and four states require parental consent before a minor can receive contraceptives.35

STD Treatment. Attempts to maintain parental authority over other healthcare related to sexual activity have been less successful. For example, all 50 states and D.C. deny parents the right to consent to their children’s STD services. Eleven of those states retain the right for parents if the child has not reached a certain age (12 or 14). Eighteen of those states allow, but do not require, physicians to inform a minor’s parent that he/she is seeking STD testing and treatment. Although one state requires the physician to inform the parent if the child tests positive for HIV, the other 17 states do not.36 A child may be infected with the deadly HIV virus, and in 49 states, parents are not even notified.

School Health Clinics. For years, children’s rights advocates have further eroded parental authority by setting up healthcare facilities in schools. These clinics have been funded by a menagerie of federal, state, and private funds. Trumpeted as a way to provide better care for children, these facilities are used as referral centers for abortion. On March 25, 2010, Fox News reported that a 15 year-old had used a school-based clinic to obtain an abortion without notifying her mother. The mother reported that her daughter had been told that if she told her mother, the mother would be financially responsible for the abortion. If the daughter kept it secret, she was told the abortion would be free. Without any parental involvement, the school-based clinic called a cab for the girl, which took her to the local abortion clinic where an abortion was performed.37

In March 2010, the federal government authorized the expenditure of taxpayer dollars to further undermine parental authority in the area of their children’s healthcare. With the passage of the new federal health care bill, Congress authorized a

Parents are primarily responsible for directing the education of their children, and have the inherent right to decide whether that education shall take the form of public, private, parochial, or home schooling.

specific program for school-based clinics.38 While the law could have required parental consent for services, it did not. Undoubtedly, these clinics will provide all kinds of services, including contraceptives and abortion referral services, without parental consent.39

Education

Parents are primarily responsible for directing the education of their children, and have the inherent right to decide whether that education shall take the form of public, private, parochial, or home schooling. The Supreme Court in 1925 struck down an Oregon statute requiring all children to attend public school. In that case, the high court made it clear that a fundamental cornerstone of liberty is a parent’s right and duty to make decisions regarding a child’s education.40

For years, the public schools have indoctrinated children with beliefs inconsistent with beliefs taught at home. The assault on parents’ rights to educate their children, however, has never been stronger or more blatant than in the area of home schooling. In recent years, the number of parents choosing to homeschool their children has exploded. It is estimated that 1.5 million children are homeschooled, with some sources claiming that the numbers are really much higher.41 With the rising numbers, teachers’ unions and legislatures have taken notice, and efforts are underway in several jurisdictions to further restrict this option for parents. According to the Home-School Legal Defense Association, in 2008, D.C. was the first jurisdiction to severely limit the right of parents to homeschool. While not banning home schooling entirely, the D.C. City Council decided to regulate it to death. In casting his vote against the plan, one D.C. Councilman reportedly called the government’s new power over home schooling parents “a type of socialism.”42

Custody

Custody of one’s children serves as the cornerstone of family autonomy and parental rights. All other parental rights—to educate, to provide health care, to instill moral and religious values—become insignificant if a parent cannot retain the right to keep a child in his presence. Traditionally, in the area of custody, and following the belief that parents naturally have the best interest of the child in mind, government deferred to the parents on issues of custody. However, with the rise of divorce and the introduction of the “Best Interest of the Child,” the court ultimately decides who assumes custody of children, regardless of the parent’s wishes. In her book, Supremacists, long-time conservative activist and lawyer, Phyllis Schlafly estimates that over 48.3 million American parents are controlled by judges in child custody matters.43

Grandparents’ Rights Movement

While not exclusively a “divorce issue,” the Grandparents’ Rights movement has been catapulted forward, in large part, due to rising divorce rates. Next to children, grandparents are the second victims of divorce when a parent denies them access to grandchildren. It can be heart-wrenching for grand-parents to be told suddenly that they can no longer see their grandchild. As difficult as this reality may be, because they diminish parental rights, grandparent rights to custody and visitation of grandchildren has never been recognized by common law.

The Grandparents’ Rights Movement serves as a new and different assault on parental rights. Whereas other movements, particularly the Children’s Rights Movement, have created conflicting individual rights within the nuclear family, the Grandparents’ Rights Movement seeks to legitimize the right of government to bulldoze the cornerstone of family autonomy and parental rights—the right to custody of children.

Grandparents’ rights organizations formed in the 1980s to persuade legislatures and courts to create visitation rights for grandparents. Initially, these groups set their sights on Washington to solve their problem. Despite Congressional hearings in both the House and Senate in the 1980s,44 Grandparents’ Rights advocates failed to convince legislators to create a “right” to visitation through federal legislation.

Unrelenting, in the 1990s, these groups successfully turned their energies toward state legislatures. In one case, however, the state legislature pushed the pendulum too far. The Washington State Legislature passed legislation that allowed “any person,” relative or nonrelative, to petition the court for visitation rights. In effect, the Washington statute stole from parents, and gave to the government the right to decide custody and visitation for children. Thankfully, in Troxel v. Granville,45 the Supreme Court overturned this state statute as an unconstitutional infringement on parental rights. The Troxel decision dealt a serious blow to the Grandparents’ Rights Movement and the government’s assault on parental authority in the area of visitation.

Today, all states allow some sort of visitation rights for grandparents. These statutes fall into one of two categories: restrictive visitation statutes and permissive statutes. The restrictive statutes allow visitation by grandparents, only if: (1) the child’s parents are divorced or separated, or (2) one or both of the child’s parents have died. Visitation in these states will be allowed only if the court decides that it is in the best interest of the child.

Permissive statutes allow grandparents the right to obtain visitation if the court decides it is in the “best interest of the child.”The “best interest of the child” standard many times requires a grandparent to show evidence of a continual relationship with the child. The parents do not need to be divorced or deceased. A court can step in and force fit parents, living in an intact family, to allow grandparents to visit their children.

In North Carolina, the N.C. Supreme Court reaffirmed the U.S. Supreme Court finding that parents, not government, hold the right to “custody, care and the nurture of children.”46 Only in cases where the nuclear family is disrupted by divorce,

or when a child is adopted by a stepparent or a relative of the child where a substantial relationship exists between the grandparent and the child may a grandparent petition the court for visitation rights to the grandchild.47 Attempts to expand grandparents’ rights have failed.

While the N.C. General Assembly has run roughshod over some areas of parental authority, it has, thus far, restrained itself from meddling in custody and visitation rights of fit, married parents whose children live in intact families.

At a Crossroads

As America continues to turn away from God, the inalienable rights for which her founders fought and died face political extinction. A government that fails to recognize the Author of those rights will refuse to uphold mankind’s inherent right to live or be free. Family autonomy no longer enjoys government’s protection. America is at a crossroads—she can rebuild the strength of family autonomy, or she can continue to sit back and watch as government assaults that wall separating freedom from tyranny. If the latter path is chosen, what is happening to parents in Sweden, Germany, and Scotland, will no longer be a tragedy occuring somewhere else. Rather, it will be a reality at America’s doorstep.v

Mary Summa, J.D., is an attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina, who served as Chief Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Jesse Helms during the 1980s. For a footnoted version of this article, please visit ncfamily.org.

Family North Carolina

Re-printed with permission from the NORTH CAROLINA FAMILY COUNCIL MAGAZINE PUBLICATION.

Originally appeared – “Parental Rights:  The Guardian of Freedom. Family NC. Spring 2011.

Prince William and Kate…second anniversary

In 07 Observations on 2013/04/24 at 12:00 AM

The Bishop of London’s Sermon

29th April 2011

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” So said St Catherine of Siena whose festival day it is today. Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves.

Many are full of fear for the future of the prospects of our world but the message of the celebrations in this country and far beyond its shores is the right one – this is a joyful day! It is good that people in every continent are able to share in these celebrations because this is, as every wedding day should be, a day of hope.

In a sense every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and the groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future.

William and Catherine, you have chosen to be married in the sight of a generous God who so loved the world that he gave himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ.

And in the Spirit of this generous God, husband and wife are to give themselves to each another.

A spiritual life grows as love finds its centre beyond ourselves. Faithful and committed relationships offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life in which we discover this; the more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed. In marriage we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life.

It is of course very hard to wean ourselves away from self-centredness. And people can dream of doing such a thing but the hope should be fulfilled it is necessary a solemn decision that, whatever the difficulties, we are committed to the way of generous love.

You have both made your decision today – “I will” – and by making this new relationship, you have aligned yourselves with what we believe is the way in which life is spiritually evolving, and which will lead to a creative future for the human race.

We stand looking forward to a century which is full of promise and full of peril. Human beings are confronting the question of how to use wisely a power that has been given to us through the discoveries of the last century. We shall not be converted to the promise of the future by more knowledge, but rather by an increase of loving wisdom and reverence, for life, for the earth and for one another.

Marriage should transform, as husband and wife make one another their work of art. It is possible to transform as long as we do not harbour ambitions to reform our partner. There must be no coercion if the Spirit is to flow; each must give the other space and freedom. Chaucer, the London poet, sums it up in a pithy phrase:

“Whan maistrie [mastery] comth, the God of Love anon,

Beteth his wynges, and farewell, he is gon.”

As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the West, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relations alone will supply meaning and happiness in life. This is to load our partner with too great a burden. We are all incomplete: we all need the love which is secure, rather than oppressive, we need mutual forgiveness, to thrive.

As we move towards our partner in love, following the example of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is quickened within us and can increasingly fill our lives with light. This leads to a family life which offers the best conditions in which the next generation can practise and exchange those gifts which can overcome fear and division and incubate the coming world of the Spirit, whose fruits are love and joy and peace.

I pray that all of us present and the many millions watching this ceremony and sharing in your joy today, will do everything in our power to support and uphold you in your new life. And I pray that God will bless you in the way of life that you have chosen, that way which is expressed in the prayer that you have composed together in preparation for this day:

God our Father, we thank you for our families; for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage.

In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy.

Strengthened by our union help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.      

Myth of Sexual Liberty by Mary Summa, J.D.

In 09 Mary Summa, JD on 2013/04/24 at 12:00 AM

 

 

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How Lawrence v. Texas Threatens Families and Freedom

On July 12, 2011, Kody Brown and his “wives” stood before the cameras to announce that they were filing a lawsuit challenging Utah’s anti-polygamy law. Proud polygamists, Kody and company star in the hit reality show “Sister Wives,” which follows the lives of this Mormon clan. Recently, the state of Utah began investigating their polygamous relationship, and the Browns fled to Nevada to avoid prosecution. They are now suing the State of Utah, claiming that the anti- polygamy statute is unconstitutional. They have hired Jonathan Turley, a high-powered constitutional lawyer and law professor at George Washington University Law School, to pursue their case against the State and to defend them if they are prosecuted.

In response to the Brown lawsuit, Americans barely seemed to stir from a deep sleep. Perhaps they just do not believe that a case like this will actually go anywhere. After all, polygamy is illegal in every state and has been illegal under federal law since the mid-1800s. The thought of legalizing may just seem beyond the pale.

Sadly, it is not. Kody Brown’s case is a logical step down the slippery slope our nation embarked on 50 years ago. Encouraged by the legal elite, the judiciary has advanced the social agenda of this country’s few to the detriment of many. It has weakened the moral fiber of this country and has abandoned its job to protect the fundamental rights of its citizenry. Eight years ago, waving the banner of liberty, the Supreme Court, in Lawrence v. Texas, for the most part nullified state anti-sodomy laws and opened the legal floodgates for future legal attacks on “morality laws.” Most recently, the logic of Lawrence has been used to legalize same-sex “marriage,” and now, with the skillful pen of Jonathan Turley, Lawrence is being employed to promote the legalization of polygamy.

Americans need to wake up. Kody Brown’s victory, should the case prevail, could spell liberty’s defeat. To change course, Americans need to appreciate the proper foundation of law, the appropriate role of government, and the role that traditional marriage serves in preserving freedom. If Americans remain asleep, freedom now enjoyed will be a thing of the past. A Foundation in Natural Law

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines law as “a binding custom or practice of a community.” Law is, and always has been, a method to regulate human behavior in civil society.

As noted by the late Notre Dame Professor Ralph McInerny, natural law provides foundational values which are critical for a society’s survival. Natural law teaches “that there is an absolute right and wrong and that God is the ultimate source of law.” Fairness, goodness, and justice are founded in divine law.

Furthermore, natural law recognizes “natural rights” bestowed on man by God. Government’s role is to protect these rights. These fundamental rights include, but are not limited to, the right to life, the right to liberty, the right to ownership of property, the right to marry.

Natural law is reflected in our founding documents. Thomas Jefferson, a student of classical thought, embraced natural law in the Declaration of Independence when he wrote, “all men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The Bill of Rights, first introduced by James Madison at the first Congress, adopted and ratified by the states in 1791, encapsulated these rights in the U.S. Constitution.

Historically, legislative enactments and court decisions have reflected the principles of natural law. Rights were recognized as emanating from the Creator—the right to life, the right to freedom of religion, speech, press, the right to private property, the right to marry, the right to educate and rear one’s own children free of government interference—and when threatened, were protected by the courts. “Morality laws,” enacted by state legislatures, reflected natural law.

Legal Positivism

Legal positivism dictates that God and the moral law serve no role in governmental law. Law is a separate and distinct creation of man and a product of force, not conscience or human reason. The courtroom, in the mind of the legal positivist, is a “laboratory” where law is “discovered.” Jurists embracing this theory view their role not as determining the founding fathers’ intent in the Constitution, but as interpreting a “living and breathing” document that should evolve as society needs change. As pointed out by Paul Rickert at the Helms School of Government at Regent University, legal positivism shifts power away from the individual to the state and the “elevation of personal freedom over accepted morality.”

Legal positivism reached the highest levels of the American judicial system with the confirmation of Oliver Wendell Holmes to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1902. While it continued to grow in popularity on the Court during the early part of the 20th Century, legal positivism did not hold a consensus on the Court until the 1960s.

Removing God from Public

The social and legal consequences of this newly adopted jurisprudence soon became painfully evident. In 1961, in Torasco v. Watkins, the Court struck down a Maryland state statute requiring individuals holding the position of notary publics to acknowledge the existence of God. In 1962, in Engle v. Vitale, the Court struck down a 10-year- old non-denominational prayer recited in New York public schools. In 1963, in Abington Township v. Schempp, the Court struck down a state statute requiring daily Bible reading in public schools.

This reverse discrimination of removing God from public policy, according to Charles Rice, an eminent constitutional law professor, did not simply create “neutral” public policy but, by default, resulted in “a governmental preference of agnostic secular humanism.” Agnostic secular humanism takes no position on the existence of God and holds that man, not God, is the final arbiter of right and wrong. Ultimately, as Professor Rice points out, that authority will be seized by the State.

The Court’s Assault on Morality

With God ushered to the exit door of public policy, the dismantling of “morality laws” soon followed. The opportunity arose in 1965, when the Court addressed the constitutionality of “Com- stock Laws” that had enjoyed a long history in the United States. In 1873, the U.S. Congress enacted the Comstock Act, which outlawed the “interstate mailing, shipment or importation of articles, drugs, medicines and printed materials of ‘obscenities,’ which applied to anything used ‘for the prevention of conception.’” By 1920, according to one source, 45 states had enacted laws to regulate “obscene” or “immoral” information. By 1960, 30 states explicitly outlawed the distribution of information or advertising about articles, instruments, and medicine concerning contraception, and 24 states explicitly banned the sale of such articles, instruments, or medicines. Several states had exceptions to this law for physicians, pharmacists, or “legitimate businesses.”

Law is, and always has been, a method to regulate human behavior in civil society.

Amidst this political and legal backdrop, in 1961, Estelle Griswold, an Executive Director of Planned Parenthood in Connecticut, opened a Planned Parenthood clinic that provided contraceptives and contraceptive counseling to married couples. Griswold was arrested, prosecuted, and found guilty of violating Connecticut’s Comstock law. In turn, Griswold filed a lawsuit against the state challenging the law’s constitutionality. In 1965, the Supreme Court overturned the conviction and, in effect, nullified Connecticut’s Comstock law.

Griswold served as a legal launch pad for an all-out assault on fundamental rights traditionally protected by the courts. While some of these rights have been repaired in subsequent decisions, they were never fully restored:

• In 1973, the Supreme Court gutted the fundamental right to life.

• In 1976, it weakened parents’ rights to make medical decisions for their children by denying parents the right to consent to their child’s abortion.

• In 1977, it denied parents the fundamental exclusive right to consent to their child’s use of contraceptives.

Griswold paved the way for legal positivism in American courts. The courts, both federal and state, abandoned their traditional role of Chief Guardian of fundamental rights and became, instead, Chief Creator of “rights.” In effect, Griswold stole from the people the power of self-governance through representation and gave it to the courts. The courts could now overturn laws reflecting accepted morality under the guise of the “freedom” of the few. Secondly, as pointed out by Professor Rice, the case set into law an important tenet of secular humanism—that there is no inherent connection between the unitive and procreative aspects of sex and that man is the final determiner of whether sex will have any relation to procreation.

The cultural collapse that coincided with the court’s newfound role in American jurisprudence cannot be denied. According to William Bennett in his book, The Index of Cultural Indicators, between 1960 and 1990:

The courts, both federal and state, abandoned their traditional role of Chief Guardian of fundamental rights and became, instead, Chief Creator of “rights.”

There has been more than a 500 percent increase in violent crime; more than a 400 percent increase in illegitimate births a tripling of the percentage of children living in single-parent homes; a tripling in the teenage suicide rate, a doubling in the divorce rate and a drop of almost 80 points in SAT scores. … The social regression of the last 30 years is due in large part to the enfeebled state of our social institutions and their failure to carry out a critical and time-honored task: the moral education of the young.

Although few would blame the courts for this moral decay, their hand in aiding and abetting the culture’s decline cannot be refuted.

A “Right” to Sex

Before 1986, the Supreme Court had tacitly approved of non-marital sexual activity by finding a fundamental right to privacy for minors to obtain abortions and contraceptives without parental approval, but had never addressed the issue head-on. In 1986, the opportunity arose, and the Court upheld a state statute prohibiting sodomy. In 2003, in Lawrence v. Texas, the Court did an about-face. Refusing to call it a “fundamental right,” the court used a distorted view of “liberty” to declare a Texas anti-sodomy law unconstitutional. Justice Anthony Scalia warned in his dissent that the case could spell the end to all “morality laws.” His words have proven prophetic.

Almost immediately, law professors and their students began opining about Lawrence’s impact on the constitutionality of statutes outlawing incest, adultery, bigamy, and prostitution. Surely, many gleefully argued, Lawrence would serve to justify same-sex “marriage,” and “free” Americans from the archaic legal restraints on all private consensual sexual behavior.

A few state courts subsequently used the Lawrence decision to impose same-sex “marriage” on their citizens. In fact, the ink was barely dry on the Lawrence decision when State Supreme Court Justice C.J. Marshall applied it to legalize same-sex “marriage” in Massachusetts in 2003. In total, since the Lawrence decision, six states and the District of Columbia, have legalized same-sex “marriage.”

Broadening Lawrence

Attempts to overturn other laws restricting sexual behavior soon followed the Lawrence decision. Most notably, in 2005 in Muth v. Frank, petitioners asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to find a Wisconsin law prohibiting incest unconstitutional. In this case, a brother and sister married. In 1997, the couple was charged and convicted of incest. During the court proceedings, using Lawrence to justify their position, the couple argued that the Lawrence case prohibited all legislative proscriptions on sexual activity between consenting adults. Writing for the majority, Judge Daniel Manion, a Reagan appointee and a strict constructionist, refused to find that Lawrence granted a fundamental right to engage in incest. Later that year, the Supreme Court refused to review the case and so the Manion decision stood. Perhaps, the Supreme Court, by denying review of the circuit court’s decision, was unwilling, just yet, to face the logical consequences of its previous actions. The blistering response from the legal community over the Manion decision indicates that this issue is far from over. At least one other circuit court has refused to find that Lawrence recognized a “fundamental right” to sexual intimacy.

A Blessing in Disguise?

Marriage between a man and a woman, intended for a lifetime, while recognized by the government, is ultimately a God-given institution. It has pre-existed and survived government. It has served the purpose of funneling sexual desires into an institution that provides the best environment for raising children. Traditionally, government has protected the rights of fit parents to rear children as they deem appropriate. Overall, the family unit has escaped the meddling hand of government control.

Legally protecting the right to engage in sexual activity—homosexual and heterosexual—outside of marriage devalues marriage as a critical institution for the rearing of children. Legalizing institutions that mimic marriage and legally creating rights that emanate from those institutions threaten parental autonomy traditionally enjoyed within the walls of marriage. Legalizing polygamous marriage undercuts a key component of marriage—sexual fidelity to one person—and could be the knock-out blow to marriage as a social institution protecting freedom.

The Court may still face the consequences of its decision in Lawrence. Notwithstanding a legal hurdle in September, most legal scholars anticipate that a battle to stop same-sex “marriage” in California may soon reach the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court will then be forced to face whether to constitutionally justify same-sex “marriage.” While that case winds its way through the legal maze, however, Kody Brown and his lawyers may be on a faster track. If the Brown polygamy train reaches the Court first, the collective conscience of the court may see the legalization of polygamy as just too great a leap and jeopardize the legalization of same-sex “marriage.” Indeed, Kody Brown’s lawsuit may not spell the end of traditional marriage, but instead prove to be its saving grace.

Preserving Freedom

Seeking justice should be the highest goal of American jurisprudence. By routinely renouncing natural law in favor of legal positivism, the courts have abandoned their preeminent duty. Mortimer Adler, an American philosopher, has suggested that by rejecting absolute good and absolute truth, the legal positivists “can find no basis for the distinction between what ‘ought’ to be desired or done and what is desired or done… Just and unjust is determined solely by whoever has the power to lay down the law of the land.”

Historically, the movements against slavery, segregation, and genocide were driven by natural law and scriptural ideals, rather than temporal culture. Without natural law’s impetus, these valid movements would have lacked justification and would have been snuffed out by the will of the majority.

Since its inception, America has always been the shining beacon of hope for millions around the world thirsting for freedom. Her civil institutions have been constrained by the belief that their role is to preserve fundamental rights given by a gracious God. Her people have understood and cherished their independence and self-government and the understanding that enduring freedom rests in the pursuit of truth. Marriage between one man and one woman has served the critical role of providing the best environment for the rearing of children, the nation’s future citizens.

Of late, with the judiciary at the helm, our nation has taken a different path, which will only lead to its demise as the freest nation in the world. But it is not too late to correct the error. Americans can reclaim their nation’s liberties by using the ballot box. They must elect legislative and judicial candidates who believe in absolute moral truth and that the government’s role is to preserve, not create, fundamental rights, and that justice should be the highest goal of American law. If legislators and judges hold these beliefs, blessings of liberty will be preserved for America’s posterity. If they do not, the world will witness the demise of the greatest experiment of liberty ever known. The choice is ours.

Mary Summa, J.D., is an attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina, who served as Chief Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Jesse Helms during the 1980s. For a footnoted version of this article, please visit ncfamily.org.

Re-printed with permission from the NORTH CAROLINA FAMILY COUNCIL MAGAZINE PUBLICATION.

 “The Myth of Sexual Liberty:  How Lawrence v. Texas Threatens Families and Freedom.  Family NC.  Fall 2011.

“Sowers of peace and joy”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2013/04/09 at 12:00 AM
You laugh because I tell you that you have a ‘vocation for marriage’? Well, you have just that: a vocation. Commend yourself to the Archangel Raphael that he may keep you pure, as he did Tobias, until the end of the way. (The Way, 27)

It is very important that the idea of marriage as a real call from God never be absent, either from the pulpit and the religion class or from the conscience of those whom God wishes to follow this way. Couples should be convinced that they are really and truly called to take part in the fulfillment of God’s plan for the salvation of all men.

For this reason, there is perhaps no better model for a christian couple than that of the christian families of apostolic times: the centurion Cornelius, who obeyed the will of God and in whose home the Church was made accessible to the gentiles; Aquila and Priscilla, who spread Christianity in Corinth and Ephesus, and who cooperated in the apostolate of St Paul; Tabitha, who out of charity attended to the needs of the Christians in Joppe. And so many other homes and families of Jews and Gentiles, Greeks and Romans, in which the preaching of our Lord’s first disciples began to bear fruit. Families who lived in union with Christ and who made him known to others. Small christian communities which were centers for the spreading of the Gospel and its message. Families no different from other families of those times, but living with a new spirit, which spread to all those who were in contact with them. This is what the first Christians were, and this is what we have to be: sowers of peace and joy, the peace and joy that Jesus has brought to us. (Christ is passing by, 30)

“The enormous importance of the task of parents”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2013/01/18 at 9:11 AM
You should be full of wonder at the goodness of our Father God. Are you not filled with joy to know that your home, your family, your country, which you love so much, are the raw material which you must sanctify? (The Forge, 689)

I am moved that the Apostle should call Christian marriage sacramentum magnum ‑‑ a great sacrament. From this, too, I deduce the enormous importance of the task of parents. You share in the creative power of God: that is why human love is holy, good and noble. It is a gladness of heart which God ‑‑ in his loving providence ‑‑ wants others freely to give up. Each child that God grants you is a wonderful blessing from him: don’t be afraid of children! (The Forge, 691)

In conversations I have had with so many married couples, I tell them often that while both they and their children are alive, they should help them to be saints, while being well aware that none of us will be a saint on earth. All we will do is struggle, struggle, struggle. And I also tell them: you Christian mothers and fathers are a great spiritual motor, sending the strength of God to your own ones, strength for that struggle, strength to win, strength to be saints. Don’t let them down! (The Forge, 692)

Don’t be afraid of loving others, for His sake: and don’t worry about loving your own people even more, provided that no matter how much you love them, you love Him a million times more. (The Forge, 693)

That close intimacy you have with Christ means that you have a duty to bear fruit. And yours will be a fruit that will satisfy the hunger of men who come up to you in your work, in your day‑to‑day life and in your family environment. (The Forge, 981)

Each Human Being Is A Miracle of God

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2012/11/09 at 9:46 AM

Vatican City, 23 May 2012 (VIS) – “God is our Father because He is our Creator. Each one of us, each man and each woman, is a miracle of God, desired by Him and known personally by Him. … For Him we are not anonymous and impersonal, we have a name. The Holy Spirit, which speaks within us and says ‘Abba! Father!’, leads us to this truth, communicating it to the most intimate depths of our being and filling our prayer with serenity and joy”. These words were pronounced this morning by the Holy Father to more than 20,000 faithful filling St. Peter’s Square for his weekly general audience.

The Holy Father focused his catechesis on two passages from the Letters of St. Paul, wherein the Apostle speaks of the power of the Holy Spirit which enables us to call God “Abba”, our Father. The Pope explained that “that great master of prayer which is the Holy Spirit teaches us to address God with the affectionate terms of children, calling Him ‘Abba, Father’. This is what Jesus did, even at the most dramatic moment of His earthly life. He never lost faith in the Father and always invoked Him with the intimacy of a beloved Son”.

The Holy Spirit, gift of the risen Christ, “places us in a filial relationship with God, a relationship of profound trust, like that of children; a filial relationship analogous to that of Jesus though different in origin and importance. Jesus is the eternal Son of God Who became flesh, while we become God’s children in time through faith in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation”.

The Holy Father went on: “Perhaps mankind today does not perceive the beauty, greatness and profound consultation contained in the word ‘Father’ with which we can address God in prayer, because often the paternal figure is not sufficiently present or positive in daily life”. Yet, the Pope explained, “the love of Jesus, the only-begotten Son Who even gave Himself on the cross, reveals the true nature of the Father: He is Love”.

In his Letter to the Galatians, St. Paul tells us that the the Spirit cries out within us saying ‘Abba! Father!’, while in his Letter to the Romans he writes that we ourselves make this cry in the Spirit. The Apostle, Benedict XVI explained, “wants us to understand that Christian prayer is never unidirectional, from us to God. … Rather, it is an expression of a reciprocal relationship in which it is always God Who acts first. It is the Spirit which cries within us, and we too can cry out because the impulse comes from the Holy Spirit. … This presence opens our prayers and our lives to the horizons of the Trinity and the Church”.

“When we address the Father in our hearts, in silence and meditation, we are never alone. … We are within the great prayer of the Church, we are part of a great symphony which the Christian community in all places and times raises to God. … Prayer guided by the Spirit causes us to cry out ‘Abba! Father!’ with Christ and in Christ. It makes us part of the great mosaic of the family of God, in which everyone has an important place and role, profoundly united to all things”.

The Pope concluded his catechesis by exhorting the faithful: “When we pray, let us learn to appreciate the beauty of being friends, or rather children, of God, invoking Him with the confidence and trust of a child addressing his parents who love him. Let us open our prayers to the action of the Holy Spirit, that it may cry out within us: ‘Abba! Father!'”.

VIS 120523

Parental Rights: The Guardian of Freedom

In 09 Mary Summa, JD on 2012/06/30 at 11:11 AM

By Mary Summa, J.D.

In 2007, soldiers abruptly entered a home in Germany and took a young boy because his mother chose to home-school him.1 In Scotland, in 2009, the government took custody of a couple’s three and four year-old children because a government bureaucrat had deemed the children “too fat.”2 In September 2009, Swedish authorities stopped a plane about to take-off to remove a seven year-old from his parents because they refused to put the boy in a government-run school.3 These events abroad should give every American pause. In many parts of the world today, families are at the mercy of the government.

Research demonstrates that the traditional, intact family is the best environment to raise children. The intact family is also the protector of political freedom. As communities succumb to the power of the government, the family unit serves as the last barrier between freedom and tyranny. Until recent years in this country, the government befriended the family. Correctly, courts have stepped in and protected children from the small minority of parents who have threatened their children’s well-being.

For the vast majority of families, however, courts and legislatures have protected their autonomy and respected the inherent rights of fit parents to raise their own children as they deem appropriate. Yet, as government’s thirst for power and control increases, the family has become a target. If this assault is not confronted and stopped, precious freedoms will be diminished and eventually lost.

What Are Parental Rights?

Parental rights are powers vested in parents to conceive and rear children free from government control. These rights, recognized by the courts, include: the right to the custody and care of minor children, the right to establish a child’s residence, and the right to direct a child’s moral and spiritual upbringing, education, and medical treatment.

With these rights, come responsibilities, and parents are charged with the responsibility to educate, discipline, support, and protect their minor children.4 These powers emanate from the family—the basic unit of society—which historians and anthropologists believe has existed in every known human society.5 The family is not a creation of government.6

English Common Law adhered to the belief that marriage and family are institutions established by God. Therefore, rights emanating from that institution—parental rights—are natural rights that government was obliged to protect. Parental decision-making was limited by the State only in cases where the parent placed the child in clear and present danger, a strictly interpreted doctrine called the Parens Patriae Doctrine.7

Throughout colonial America, only fathers could enforce these rights. Fathers retained the custodial rights of children, and mothers had little authority to enforce custody or other parental rights.8 In 1944, with the Supreme Court’s decision in Prince v. Massachusetts,9 parental rights were recognized for both the mother and the father. Those rights, as the court recognized, “reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for obligations the state can neither supply nor hinder.”10

The family is not a creation of government.

America’s History – Protecting Parental Rights

Traditionally, the U.S. Congress and state legislatures have restrained themselves from trampling on the right of fit parents to rear children free from government control11 When they did stray from this basic tenet, the Supreme Court struck down these laws as unconstitutional. The Court has protected family autonomy and parental rights as being guaranteed by the Ninth Amendment12 and the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment13 to the U.S. Constitution. The courts have recognized that the right to conceive and rear children is a “basic civil right of man,”14 and a right “far more precious … than property rights.”15

In the early to mid 20th Century, the Supreme Court vigilantly protected the right of parents to educate their children as the parent deemed appropriate.16 In 1925, in Pierce v. Society of Sisters,17 the Supreme Court struck down a state statute requiring children to attend public schools. Parents in this case had chosen to send their children to parochial schools, which under state statute violated compulsory education laws. In Pierce, the court stated:

The child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.18

Later in 1944, in Prince v. Massachusetts,19 the U.S. Supreme Court, although recognizing the state’s interest in an educated citizenry, underscored the paramount rights of parents to direct the religious training and upbringing of their children:

The custody, care, and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for obligations the state can neither supply nor hinder. And it is in recognition of this that these decisions have respected the private realm of family life which the state cannot enter.

In Wisconsin v. Yoder,20 in 1972, the Supreme Court affirmed this common law principle by preventing the state from forcing Amish parents to send their children to school beyond eighth grade. Recognizing family autonomy in the areas of education and religious upbringing, the court rejected the State’s argument that it had a right to “save” the child from the decisions of the parents. The court stated:

The history and culture of Western civilization reflect a strong tradition of parental concern for the nurture and upbringing of their children. This primary role of the parents in the upbringing of their children is now established beyond debate as an enduring American tradition.21

Without exception, the highest court held fast to the principle that fit parents, not the state, have the primary role of raising and nurturing children. Under the doctrine, Parens Patriae, the State can pierce this wall of protection only when the parent places a child in clear and present danger of harm.

The 1960s witnessed a rise in individual rights movements—women’s rights, children’s rights, homosexual rights, and minority rights. Holding their banners of protest, masses marched on Washington, D.C., demanding equality. Rights are a funny thing, though. They are not asserted in a vacuum. Whether justified or not, when a right is asserted by one citizen or entity, another citizen’s rights are modified, reduced, or even eliminated.

The Children’s Rights Movement

The Children’s Rights Movement, some believe, struck the first crippling blow to family autonomy and parental rights when it roared onto the political scene in the 1960s. Despite, some strides in the early part of the 20th Century in the areas of juvenile justice and labor laws, the movement floundered until the Supreme Court changed course in 1967 with its decision in In re Gault.22 In that decision, the Court extended 14th Amendment Due Process protections to children in juvenile delinquency hearings. For the first time in law, the government recognized children’s rights, separate and apart from parents’. Congress, state legislatures, and courts, however, quickly expanded the standard’s original application to justify a plethora of legislation and court cases in the area of child custody, education, health care, and discipline.

This movement has not been confined to the United States. The conflict between parent rights and child rights was never more apparent than with the 1989 United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The document acknowledges the individual rights of children, which may be separate and distinct from and conflict with parents’ rights.

Article 3 gives administrative or legislative authority to decide what actions are “in the best interest of the child.” Article 12 gives to the child “who is capable of forming his or her own views” the right to express them. The child’s views will be given “due weight,” depending on the age and maturity of the child.23

According to Michael Farris, an attorney and chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, the UNCRC dictates two things: “1. Government can override parental decisions without proof of abuse, neglect or harm; 2. Children have legally enforceable rights to complain about parental decision-making in every area of their life, including religious and educational decisions.”24

Parents who are citizens of countries that have ratified the treaty have lost the unfettered discretion to make decisions on behalf of their children. A parent’s violation of the ‘rights’ of their own children could subject the parent to international condemnation or, worse, punishment.

According to a 2009 Congressional Research Service report, 193 countries have ratified the treaty. The United States and Somolia are the only two countries that have not.25 Consequently, U.S. parents, unlike most parents around the world, do not have to answer to bureaucrats or courts for decisions they make regarding the rearing of their own children.

Scripture and history warn that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Creating conflicting rights within a family—in this case, parent against child—will do nothing but weaken the autonomy and strength of the family, and lead to its demise.

Discipline

As mentioned previously, under the Doctrine of Parens Patriae, the government has always had the right to step in and protect the child from unfit parents. According to one law professor, the government has also used this doctrine to assist parents

in discipline. Called “juvenile status offense legislation,” many states still have truancy laws, curfew laws, and laws dealing with children who perpetually run away from home.26 One could argue that traditionally written statutory rape laws provided parents with a “big stick” solution for boys who took advantage of daughters.

Today, the tables have turned. The government is no longer in the business of assisting parents in their inherent responsibility to discipline. Rather, government is partnering with children to punish their parents. Never, until recently, has the government taken such an active role in pitting children against parents.

A 1980 case illustrates this point. In In re Welfare of Sumney,27 under a Washington State statute, the state granted a 15 year-old’s petition seeking “alter- native residential placement.” Despite the fact that there was no evidence of abuse, neglect or parental unfitness, the State granted the petition citing “the best interest of the child.” In his dissent, Washington State Supreme Court Justice Robert Brachtenbach pointed out when the child was asked why she thought there was a conflict in the home, the child replied, “I just feel there is a communication gap there.” Further testimony revealed that the only “crime” committed by the parents was an insistence that their daughter not take drugs … use alcohol … or be sexually active and that she be in at a reasonable hour.”28 In exchange for asking their daughter to adopt a healthy, moral lifestyle, the parents were denied custody.

Health Care

Under common law, children were viewed as incapable of consenting to all medical treatment. Parents had the exclusive authority to make medical decisions on behalf of their children. In emergencies, parental consent was assumed and did not need to be obtained prior to treatment. In cases of abuse or neglect, common law recognized the right of the government to step in and act as the parent to remove the child from harm.

Abortion. In 1976, in Planned Parenthood v. Danforth,29 the court found unconstitutional a statute requiring parental consent for abortion. Again, in 1979, the Court proclaimed that parents did not have “an absolute and possibly arbitrary” right to veto a child’s decision to obtain an abortion.30

In 1992, however, the Supreme Court changed course and allowed to stand a state statute requiring parental consent for abortion with a judicial bypass, which allows a judge to sign off on a minor’s abortion in place of her parents in some circumstances.31Over the past 18 years, states have responded to this opportunity to restore parental authority over their children’s healthcare. According to a September 2010 Guttmacher Institute report, 34 states require some parental involvement in a minor’s decision to have an abortion. Of these states, 20 require parental consent only—two of which require both parents to consent; 10 states require parental notification only—one of which requires both parents to be notified; and four states require both parental consent and notification.32

In 1995, incidentally, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted a statute requiring parental consent for abortion. The law is flawed, however, because it does not require authenticity of the signature by a notary, thus, allowing forged signatures to meet the consent requirement of the statute.33

Contraception. Over the past 30 years, legislators at both the state and federal levels have aggressively weakened parental authority in other areas of children’s healthcare, including healthcare associated with sexual activity. The U.S. Congress has led the charge. Since its inception in 1970, there have been no “parental consent” requirements on monies for Title X of the Public Health Service Act or federal “family planning.” In the 1980s, regulations were promulgated to give parents the right to consent to contraceptives and other services provided by Title X funding. In the 1990s, additional administrative and legislative attempts were made to return to parents their rightful authority to control the health-care of their children. While valiant, all these efforts ultimately failed legislatively or by court challenge.34

State legislators have made some strides in protecting parental authority in relation to minors’ access to contraceptives. According to a January 2011 Guttmacher Institute report, 21 states and

How to Protect the Family

To rebuild the wall protecting family autonomy, we should:

• Enact a marriage amendment in N.C. defining marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman, which serves as the first step to protecting family autonomy.

• Enact federal and state constitutional amendments on parental rights, including an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to bar enactment of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

• Repeal no-fault divorce. • Repeal state laws that deny parents the right to decide all medical

decisions for their children, including drug and alcohol treatment, STD treatment, abortion, and contraceptives, except in cases of emergency and with a judicial bypass if required by case law.

• Expand parental choice in education, through means such as education tax credits.

D.C. give minors unrestrained access to contraceptives without parental consent. Twenty-five states allow a minor access to contraceptives only under certain circumstances without parental consent, and four states require parental consent before a minor can receive contraceptives.35

STD Treatment. Attempts to maintain parental authority over other healthcare related to sexual activity have been less successful. For example, all 50 states and D.C. deny parents the right to consent to their children’s STD services. Eleven of those states retain the right for parents if the child has not reached a certain age (12 or 14). Eighteen of those states allow, but do not require, physicians to inform a minor’s parent that he/she is seeking STD testing and treatment. Although one state requires the physician to inform the parent if the child tests positive for HIV, the other 17 states do not.36 A child may be infected with the deadly HIV virus, and in 49 states, parents are not even notified.

School Health Clinics. For years, children’s rights advocates have further eroded parental authority by setting up healthcare facilities in schools. These clinics have been funded by a menagerie of federal, state, and private funds. Trumpeted as a way to provide better care for children, these facilities are used as referral centers for abortion. On March 25, 2010, Fox News reported that a 15 year-old had used a school-based clinic to obtain an abortion without notifying her mother. The mother reported that her daughter had been told that if she told her mother, the mother would be financially responsible for the abortion. If the daughter kept it secret, she was told the abortion would be free. Without any parental involvement, the school-based clinic called a cab for the girl, which took her to the local abortion clinic where an abortion was performed.37

In March 2010, the federal government authorized the expenditure of taxpayer dollars to further undermine parental authority in the area of their children’s healthcare. With the passage of the new federal health care bill, Congress authorized a

Parents are primarily responsible for directing the education of their children, and have the inherent right to decide whether that education shall take the form of public, private, parochial, or home schooling.

specific program for school-based clinics.38 While the law could have required parental consent for services, it did not. Undoubtedly, these clinics will provide all kinds of services, including contraceptives and abortion referral services, without parental consent.39

Education

Parents are primarily responsible for directing the education of their children, and have the inherent right to decide whether that education shall take the form of public, private, parochial, or home schooling. The Supreme Court in 1925 struck down an Oregon statute requiring all children to attend public school. In that case, the high court made it clear that a fundamental cornerstone of liberty is a parent’s right and duty to make decisions regarding a child’s education.40

For years, the public schools have indoctrinated children with beliefs inconsistent with beliefs taught at home. The assault on parents’ rights to educate their children, however, has never been stronger or more blatant than in the area of home schooling. In recent years, the number of parents choosing to homeschool their children has exploded. It is estimated that 1.5 million children are homeschooled, with some sources claiming that the numbers are really much higher.41 With the rising numbers, teachers’ unions and legislatures have taken notice, and efforts are underway in several jurisdictions to further restrict this option for parents. According to the Home-School Legal Defense Association, in 2008, D.C. was the first jurisdiction to severely limit the right of parents to homeschool. While not banning home schooling entirely, the D.C. City Council decided to regulate it to death. In casting his vote against the plan, one D.C. Councilman reportedly called the government’s new power over home schooling parents “a type of socialism.”42

Custody

Custody of one’s children serves as the cornerstone of family autonomy and parental rights. All other parental rights—to educate, to provide health care, to instill moral and religious values—become insignificant if a parent cannot retain the right to keep a child in his presence. Traditionally, in the area of custody, and following the belief that parents naturally have the best interest of the child in mind, government deferred to the parents on issues of custody. However, with the rise of divorce and the introduction of the “Best Interest of the Child,” the court ultimately decides who assumes custody of children, regardless of the parent’s wishes. In her book, Supremacists, long-time conservative activist and lawyer, Phyllis Schlafly estimates that over 48.3 million American parents are controlled by judges in child custody matters.43

Grandparents’ Rights Movement

While not exclusively a “divorce issue,” the Grandparents’ Rights movement has been catapulted forward, in large part, due to rising divorce rates. Next to children, grandparents are the second victims of divorce when a parent denies them access to grandchildren. It can be heart-wrenching for grand-parents to be told suddenly that they can no longer see their grandchild. As difficult as this reality may be, because they diminish parental rights, grandparent rights to custody and visitation of grandchildren has never been recognized by common law.

The Grandparents’ Rights Movement serves as a new and different assault on parental rights. Whereas other movements, particularly the Children’s Rights Movement, have created conflicting individual rights within the nuclear family, the Grandparents’ Rights Movement seeks to legitimize the right of government to bulldoze the cornerstone of family autonomy and parental rights—the right to custody of children.

Grandparents’ rights organizations formed in the 1980s to persuade legislatures and courts to create visitation rights for grandparents. Initially, these groups set their sights on Washington to solve their problem. Despite Congressional hearings in both the House and Senate in the 1980s,44 Grandparents’ Rights advocates failed to convince legislators to create a “right” to visitation through federal legislation.

Unrelenting, in the 1990s, these groups successfully turned their energies toward state legislatures. In one case, however, the state legislature pushed the pendulum too far. The Washington State Legislature passed legislation that allowed “any person,” relative or nonrelative, to petition the court for visitation rights. In effect, the Washington statute stole from parents, and gave to the government the right to decide custody and visitation for children. Thankfully, in Troxel v. Granville,45 the Supreme Court overturned this state statute as an unconstitutional infringement on parental rights. The Troxel decision dealt a serious blow to the Grandparents’ Rights Movement and the government’s assault on parental authority in the area of visitation.

Today, all states allow some sort of visitation rights for grandparents. These statutes fall into one of two categories: restrictive visitation statutes and permissive statutes. The restrictive statutes allow visitation by grandparents, only if: (1) the child’s parents are divorced or separated, or (2) one or both of the child’s parents have died. Visitation in these states will be allowed only if the court decides that it is in the best interest of the child.

Permissive statutes allow grandparents the right to obtain visitation if the court decides it is in the “best interest of the child.”The “best interest of the child” standard many times requires a grandparent to show evidence of a continual relationship with the child. The parents do not need to be divorced or deceased. A court can step in and force fit parents, living in an intact family, to allow grandparents to visit their children.

In North Carolina, the N.C. Supreme Court reaffirmed the U.S. Supreme Court finding that parents, not government, hold the right to “custody, care and the nurture of children.”46 Only in cases where the nuclear family is disrupted by divorce,

or when a child is adopted by a stepparent or a relative of the child where a substantial relationship exists between the grandparent and the child may a grandparent petition the court for visitation rights to the grandchild.47 Attempts to expand grandparents’ rights have failed.

While the N.C. General Assembly has run roughshod over some areas of parental authority, it has, thus far, restrained itself from meddling in custody and visitation rights of fit, married parents whose children live in intact families.

At a Crossroads

As America continues to turn away from God, the inalienable rights for which her founders fought and died face political extinction. A government that fails to recognize the Author of those rights will refuse to uphold mankind’s inherent right to live or be free. Family autonomy no longer enjoys government’s protection. America is at a crossroads—she can rebuild the strength of family autonomy, or she can continue to sit back and watch as government assaults that wall separating freedom from tyranny. If the latter path is chosen, what is happening to parents in Sweden, Germany, and Scotland, will no longer be a tragedy occuring somewhere else. Rather, it will be a reality at America’s doorstep.v

Mary Summa, J.D., is an attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina, who served as Chief Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Jesse Helms during the 1980s. For a footnoted version of this article, please visit ncfamily.org.

1) Dale Hurd. “Child Welfare Agency Echoes Nazi Germany?”, CBNNEWS.com, 28 April 2010. < http://www.cbn.com/cbn- news/world/2010/March/Child-Welfare-Agency-Echoes-Nazi- Germany> (accessed January 24, 2011).

2) Drew Zahn. “Nanny State Snatches Kids For Being Too Fat,” WorldNetDaily.com. 20 September 2009. < http://www. wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=110476> (accessed January 24, 2011)

3) Bob Unruh. “Judge Banishes Family’s Custody Lawyer,” WorldNetDaily.com.

10 June 2010..< http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=165361&gt; (accessed January 24, 2011)

4) John Duncan. “The Ultimate Best Interest of the Child Enures from Parental Reinforcement: The Journey to Family Integrity” 83 Nebraska Law Review 1240, 1248 (2004).

5) Carlson, Allan. “The Family as the Fundamental Unit of Society.” World Family Policy Forum, Provo, Utah. January 13, 1999.(accessed January 24, 2011)

6) William Duncan.“Does the Family Have a Future?”83 North Dakota Law Review, 101, 102 (2007) and Bartlett, Katharine. “Rethinking Parenthood As an Exclusive Status: The Need For Legal Alternatives When The Premise of the Nuclear Family Has Failed”, 70 Va. L. Rev. 879, 888 (1984).

7) C.f. Croft v. Westmoreland County Children & Youth Servs., 103 F.3d 1123 (3d. Cir. 1997).

8) John Duncan, at 1256. 9) 321 U.S. 158 (1944). 10) id, at 166. 11) William Duncan at 102

12) (Duncan at 1248 and M.L.B. v. S.L.J., 519 U.S. 102, 116- 117 (1996); Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158 (1944) Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-535 (1925); Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 , 399 (1923).

13) Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965) 14) Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535 (1942) 15) May v. Anderson, 345 U.S. 528 (1953) 16) Meyer v. Nebraska 262 U.S. 390 (1923).

17) 268 U.S. 510 (1925). 18) Pierce, at 535 (1025). 19) 321 U.S. 158, 166 (1944) 20) 406 U.S. 205 (1972).

21) Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972).

22) 87 S.C. 1428 (1967).

23) U.N. General Assembly, “Convention on the Rights of the Child”, 2 September 1990. < http://www2.ohchr.org/english/ law/crc.htm> accessed January 25, 2011.

24) Michael Farris, J.D. “Nannies in Blue Berets: Understanding the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child” HSLDA.org. http://www.hslda.org/docs/news/20091120.asp accessed January 24, 2011.

25) Luisa Blanchfield, “The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: Background and Policy Issues” Congressional Research Service. April 1, 2009 < http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/134266.pdf&gt; accessed January 24, 2011.

26) John Duncan, 1267. 27) In re Sumney, 94 Wash. 2d 757 (1980). 28) In re Sumney, 94 Wash. 2d 757 at 770; Duncan, at 1265. 29) Planned Parenthood v. Danforth, 428 U.S. 52 (1976)

30) Belotti v. Baird, 443 U.S. 622 (1979). See also, Bruce Hafen. “The Family as an Entity”. 22 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 865, 888 (1988-1989).

31) Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992).

32) “Parental Involvement in Minors’ Abortion” Guttmacher Institute: State Policies in Brief. September 1, 2010. Accessed on January 24, 2011.

33) Jackson v. A Woman’s Choice, Inc., 349 N.C. 360, 517 S.E. 2d 896 (1998)..

34) “Title X and the U.S. Family Planning Effort”, Alan Guttmacher Institute, Facts in Brief ” (1997) at http://www.guttmacher. org/pubs/ib16.html (accessed January 24, 2011); “Contraceptive Services for Adolescents: What Health Care Providers Need to Know About the Law”, Center for Adolescent Health and the Law Healthy Teen Network, November, 2006. http://www.cahl. org/PDFs/HelpingTeensStayHealthy&Save_Full%20Report.pdf accessed on January 25, 2011.

35) “Minors’ Access to Contraceptive Services”, Guttmacher Institute: State Policies in Brief. January 1, 2011. http://www. guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_MACS.pdf accessed on January 24, 2011.

36) ” Minors Access to STI Services”, Guttmacher Institute State Policies in Brief, January 1, 2011).< http://www.guttmacher.org/ statecenter/spibs/spib_MASS.pdf >accessed on January 24, 2011

37) Dan Springer. “School-Assisted Abortion a Shocking Lesson.” Foxnews.com, March 25, 2010.accessed January 24, 2011.

38) Tina Hinz ,“Health Official Advocates for School Clinics in D.C.” Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, reprinted in allbusiness. com June 17, 2010. http://www.allbusiness.com/government/ government-bodies-offices/14646153-1.html> accessed January 24, 2011.]

39) “Parents Rights and Civil Wrongs: School-based Clinics and Abortion”, The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. March 25, 2010.parental-rights-and-civil- wrongs-school-based-clinics-and-abortion> January 24, 2011.

40) Pierce v. the Society of Sisters, 268 US 519 (1925).

41) Vidya Rao, “As Home-schooling Moves to Mainstream, Stigma Fades”, Today show.com, September 27, 2010

42) “State Board of Education Approves New Restrictive Homeschool Regulations”, July 23, 2008. http://www.hslda.org/hs/ state/dc/200807230.asp)

43) Phyllis Schlafly, The Supremacists, Dallas: Spence Publishing 2004 at 127.

44) “Grandparents’ Visitation Rights”, Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Separation of Pwers of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, 98th Congress, First Session on S. Con. Res. 40. November 15, 1983. http://ia700309.us.archive. org/19/items/grandparentsvisi00unit/grandparentsvisi00unit. pdf ;accessed on January 25, 2011; See also: “Grandparents: The Other Victim of Divorce and Custody Disputes” Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Human Services of the Select Committee on Aging, U.S. House of Representatives, Ninety-seventh Congress, 2nd Session [Ninethy-eighth Congress, 1st Session.] http://www.archive.org/stream/grandparentsothe00unit/grand- parentsothe00unit_djvu.txt accessed January 25, 2011. “

45) Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 120 S.Ct. 2054, 147 LEd.2d 49 (2000).

46) McIntyre v. McIntyre, 341 NC 629, 633, 461 S.E.2d 745, 748-49 (1995).

47) N.C. 50-13.2(b1) (2009); N.C.G.S. 50-13.5 (j) (2009); N.C.G.S. 50-13.2A (2009). See http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/ gascripts/statutes/StatutesTOC.pl?Chapter=0050 accessed on January 25, 2011.

Family North Carolina

Re-printed with permission from the NORTH CAROLINA FAMILY COUNCIL MAGAZINE PUBLICATION.

Originally appeared – “Parental Rights:  The Guardian of Freedom. Family NC. Spring 2011.