WFA President Appling on SCOTUS Religious Freedom Ruling “Good News, but ‘Telling’”

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby and others in a momentous case that upholds religious liberty and protects the conscience rights of business owners.

>>>>>read more HERE

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Wisconsin Family Action president Julaine Appling responds, “This is certainly good news for Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Wood Specialties and other similarly situated family-owned and run companies. It is telling, however, that the Court made it clear that this ruling does not provide, as they say, a “shield” for employers trying to cloak discrimination as religious belief.  This tells me we must stay very much on guard to protect religious freedom.”

Purposeful Parenting; Investment With High Returns

From the desk of WFA president Julaine Appling:

ImageDoug, father of four children in our private Christian school, sat across from me in my office early one school day. After very brief pleasantries, Doug sat up straighter in his chair and looked at me and said, “So what do you think are my kids’ God-given strengths and abilities? I want to know if what you see is what we are seeing at home. Our children are God’s gifts to us; we want to be good stewards in every way and help our kids cooperate with God in using the gifts and talents He has given them.”

The question surprised me. I’d never had a parent ask me that.  I answered him thoughtfully and carefully, suggesting that he also make sure to talk with their classroom teachers.

As we stood and shook hands later, I candidly told Doug that I had never had a parent ask me that question and that I was impressed.  “From my vantage,” I said, “it means you and Gail are truly intentional about how you are raising your children.  It’s not often I have the honor of working with parents who take the time to really know their children individually and then purpose to work to build their character individually and to intentionally strengthen the family unit.”

Intentional, purposeful parenting is not easy, but it is absolutely essential if parents want their children to grow up to be all that God intends them to be and if they want their family unit strong and healthy.

Recently, I came across a blog that featured a post entitled “10 Ways to Build a Healthy and Happy Family.”  As I read the piece, it seemed to be at least a good starting point for some practical suggestions on intentional and purposeful parenting.

The post is actually practical applications extrapolated from a book by Jim Burns, The 10 Building Blocks for a Solid Family.  Wendy Hopler, of Crosswalk.com wrote the blog article from Burns’ book. I think the main points are worth mentioning.  It may take a week or two to get to them all, but they are, I believe, important reminders to all families.

The first building block according to Burns and Hopler:  “Be there.”  It’s so obvious but so important. Someone has said showing up is half of life.  For kids, parents showing up is likely almost all of life. Kids know when they aren’t a priority.  When parents are really “there”—mentally, emotionally and physically, kids know that, too. They sense interest, involvement, importance.  As Hopler says, “nothing can make up for your absence.”

ImageBuilding block 2 is “express affirmation, warmth and encouragement.”  The blog author encourages parents to be wary of “shame-based parenting,” which she contends is performance-oriented and approval focused.  Don’t make everything about doing, not doing, or achieving or not achieving.  Spend some relaxed time just being with your children, listening, interacting, expressing interest, letting them know you love them for them, not for what they do.  This is the kind of investment that lets you learn about them and enables you to direct the child into areas of strength and help him or her on those areas of weakness.

Building block 3 is “build healthy morals and values.”  This requires much prayer, study and wisdom in order to know what is going on in the culture that is influencing your children and then seeking God’s will for how to, on purpose and with intention, help each of your children—individually and collectively as a family—deal with the good, the bad and the ugly. It means making tough decisions about television, movies, the Internet, video games, and events and it also means having difficult decisions about personal purity. Parents need to come up with a personalized game-plan for each of their children.  All children won’t struggle with the same areas, but all children must know what God says about what is good for them and what is bad for them.

We’ll get to the other building blocks in future commentaries.  But these 3 get us started and allow for careful examination of your parenting.  Are you being intentional and purposeful? Are you being personal in how you parent?  No matter how much time and energy it requires, I can guarantee you this is an investment with returns so high they cannot even be calculated.

 

Turning the Hearts of Children and Fathers

Fatherlessness:  A Crisis of the Highest Magnitude in Our Culture

From the desk of WFA president Julaine Appling:

I probably ought to do this commentary on marriage in Wisconsin. Maybe I should address some of the amazing statements Judge Barbara Crabb made in her ruling that ignored the votes of 1.6 million Wisconsin citizens and overturned the marriage protection amendment.  Or maybe I should address the judge’s apparent desire to delay clarifying her order and issuing a stay so that all persons of the same-sex who wanted to could get marriage licenses in the seven-day window her disregard for the rule of law opened.  But I’m going to resist the pull to do any of that.

Instead I’m going to talk about fathers—yes, I know Fathers’ Day was this past Sunday.  No matter.

Now, I can’t resist the obvious here. In declaring Wisconsin’s Marriage Protection Amendment unconstitutional, Judge Crabb basically said children do not need both a mother and a father to grow up to be productive, healthy, contributing citizens.  Yes, that’s exactly what legalizing same-sex marriage does. It purposefully and legally deprives a child of either a mother or a father.

ImageThis I know. Children need their fathers.  Late last month, Wisconsin Family Council released our new publication, Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators, 2014 Edition. A couple of weeks ago in this commentary, I discussed some of the data in this document.  I noted that written all over it is the impact of fatherlessness on our families, communities and state.  When fathers are not in the homes, children are subjected to an unbelievable host of problems.  It’s a miracle when a child is in a single-mother home and isn’t profoundly affected by many of these ills.

So here are some of the problems single-mother children are much more likely to experience over children who live with their married moms and dads.  They are more likely to experience poverty, to experience truancy, to drop out of school, to live dependent on government, to get in trouble with the law, to abuse drugs and alcohol, to be sexually active before marriage, to have health issues, to be subjected to physical and sexual abuse—and the list goes on.

I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say fathers are pretty much irreplaceable in the lives of their children.  More and more research is showing what we should know by experience and common sense that fathers don’t parent like mothers.  That they are typically the parent that lays out the boundaries, encourages some risk taking, provides a very real sense of comfort and security, toughens up boys and protects girls, comes at life and parenting from a more logical than emotional approach.  All of this balances the incredible, also-irreplaceable contributions from a mother.  God, the designer of male and female and marriage, gave to both of them all that they need, in a complementary way, so that they can together provide exactly what children need.

ImageFatherlessness is a crisis of the highest magnitude in our culture.  I am haunted by the closing verses of the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi 4:5 and 6.  The prophet Malachi writes:  “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”

That verse tells me, sadly, that fatherlessness is not new—and that it takes work and determination for fathers to stay connected to their children.  Apparently God thinks that a strong father-child relationship is important, even if federal judges don’t.  He tells us that if the hearts of the fathers and children aren’t turned towards one another, He, Almighty God, was going to smite the earth with a curse.  His plan is for men and women to marry, generally to have children, and to together bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  When society skips the marriage part of God’s plan but still has babies or breaks this lifelong commitment by divorce, we reap the natural consequences of our choices.  The problem is the children are the ones who suffer first, most and longest.

In a time when judges and liberals are bent on destroying God’s plan for marriage and family, we as Christians must hold God’s standard high and we must certainly rally around fathers and fatherhood—for the sake of the children.  May we seek, like Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.

 

WFA Pens Op Ed: Liberal Judge Thwarted Will Of People

ImageWFA president Julaine Appling via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6/9/2014:

“With the single stroke of the pen of a single, unelected, unaccountable judge, marriage has been turned on its head in Wisconsin, the will of the people thwarted, the rule of law disregarded.

Some are saying same-sex marriage is now “allowed” in Wisconsin. That’s not true. We the people did not “allow” this seismic change in our foundational societal institution. We had it thrust upon us by an activist judge with an agenda.

The citizens of our state spoke on this issue in 2006 with a solid vote (over 59%) in favor of keeping marriage between one man and one woman. Our votes and voice were wrested from us by this judge and by those who took the cowardly way and ran to the court rather than try to dismantle the amendment the same way the amendment was enacted.

Now that U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb has ruled, presto — state’s rights and the will of the people notwithstanding, restricting marriage to one man and one woman is somehow, almost magically, unconstitutional. The message from this ruling is clear. The millions of citizens who voted to protect marriage in 38 states, including 1.6 million Wisconsin citizens, and all the lawmakers who were involved in crafting and approving the language of the amendments were too ignorant to understand the U.S. Constitution. Crabb and federal judges in 14 states have ignored the expressed will of the majority and instead allowed a well-organized, well-funded, vocal minority to redefine the institution of marriage.

The fallout from Friday’s ruling, should it stand, will be profound. While it may take some time for the effects to be noticeable, they will begin, in subtle ways, immediately.”

 

……..

Read the rest HERE.

 

 

WFA Prez Appling Responds to Judge’s Ruling Placing Same-Sex “Marriage” On Hold in Wisconsin

Press release from Wisconsin Family Action:

Federal Judge Brings Some Order to the Chaos

MADISON—Late today US District Judge Barbara Crabb granted Attorney General JB Van Hollen’s request for a stay on her order regarding the redefinition of marriage in Wisconsin. The judge also clarified her previous order as written in her original ruling issued last Friday. That ruling unilaterally declared Wisconsin’s Marriage Protection Amendment unconstitutional, thus trouncing on the votes of over 1.6 million Wisconsin citizens who approved the amendment in November 2006. Her injunction today ordered county clerks to issue marriage licenses to couples of the same sex. Her stay, however, means that the marriage amendment restricting marriage to one man and one woman remains in place for the duration of the judicial proceedings on this matter.

WFA president Julaine Appling

WFA president Julaine Appling

“While I disagree totally with Judge Crabb’s ruling in this case, I am pleased that she at least put a stop to the chaos that ensued from her original vague order in this matter. It is altogether appropriate that this stay be ordered while this case works its way through the appeals process,” stated Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action (WFA), and one of four other WFA board members who filed a “friend-of-the-court” brief in this case. “Judge Crabb’s ambiguity and vagueness in her original order has caused undue and absolutely unnecessary turmoil in our state.

“The rule of law has seemed to be merely some pesky summer insect to many in our state who have urged county clerks to issue the licenses, in spite of what Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has directed. This judge, in concert with those determined to redefine society’s foundational institution of marriage, turned Wisconsin from being a state where the law is respected into a place where apparently everyone, especially elected county clerks, can do that which is right in his own eyes. Fortunately, today we have clarity which should bring an end to the confusion. Clerks who persist in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples will be doing so in clear violation of the judge’s order.”

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has already appealed the decision to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. That court has ordered both sides to submit briefs supporting their position of whether the appeals court should take the case. In light of Judge Crabb’s order and stay today, it would seem the way is cleared for that court to now take the case.

“As disturbing as all of the legal gyrations have been in this case, what disturbs us most is Judge Crabb’s decision regarding the amendment and what she said about marriage in her opinion. She made some breathtaking pronouncements that must be challenged. As amici, we are today releasing a response to some specific aspects of the Judge’s ruling.” continued Appling.

Wisconsin Family Action’s response to Judge Crabb’s ruling is available HERE.

With the Stroke of a Pen, Wisconsin Voters Silenced on Marriage

“What happened to ‘We the People?” asks Wisconsin Family Action president Julaine Appling in a press release that went out last Friday, June 6, shortly after the ruling from U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb (Western District Court) that deemed Wisconsin’s Marriage Protection Amendment unconstitutional and opened the door for “same-sex marriages” to go full-steam ahead throughout the state.

  • Read Wisconsin Family Action’s full press release HERE.
  • Listen to the podcast of Julaine Appling as she addresses the attack on marriage across our nation on WVCY’s Crosstalk America HERE.

Since Wisconsin’s county clerks have neither been mandated nor barred from issuing same-sex “marriage licenses,” they appear to be spinning in circles as they try to determine how to react to this decision that left no directive.  At last report, just over half of the counties in Wisconsin are issuing the paperwork, yet others are waiting for guidance from state Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen before taking any action.  Many clerks have publicly stated they have no idea what to do about the signature blocks on the paperwork that read “husband” and “wife” and feel they must wait for the appropriate paperwork to be provided.

Since Crabb’s ruling did not mandate county clerks to issue the homosexual “marriage” licenses, it was left up to each individual county to decide how to interpret the ruling and act accordingly. Crabb was reported to have said she was waiting for the ACLU to “draft an order for her spelling out how the organization wants her decision implemented,”

In the meantime, the State Department of Health Services (DOHS) is not processing the same-sex “marriage” licenses and have them on “hold” until more direction is given from the attorney general’s office.  The DOHS made it clear that there are no promises being made that the “marriage” licenses issued to same-sex couples will be accepted.

ImageSound confusing?  We agree. The confusion and chaos continues because of a very small but very loud and very well-organized and well-funded minority wants its way, a way that stands to ultimately undermine the foundational institution of marriage.  In this case they seem to be very much aided and abetted by a liberal, activist federal judge–and many ELECTED county clerks.

What does it all mean?  Julaine Appling says, “With a single stroke of a single arrogant and liberal activist federal judge, marriage in Wisconsin was turned on its head and the will of the people was trumped.”

That’s not all; there’s much more to say regarding the ruling that overturned Wisconsin’s Marriage Protection Amendment and the will of the Badger State’s voters.  Read the rest of Julaine’s commentary HERE.

Incidentally, the ruling came just before the scheduled weekend event in Milwaukee, “PrideFest.”

Common Core; The Ripple Effect of Rejection

South Carolina and Oklahoma are now in the lineup of states who have decided to block the federal Common Core State Standards (CCSS) program in their public schools, instead opting to use their own state standards.

>>>>>read more HERE

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) currently uses CCSS to cover math and English, and “promote literacy” in history and social studies, science and technical subjects for students from kindergarten through high school.

“It’s unfortunate that Wisconsin’s Republican leadership bogged down attempts to block Common Core in our state this session,” says Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action. 

On March 6, 2014, Appling testified in favor of SB 619, which created a model academics standards board in the state of Wisconsin.  The bill provided transparency, professional participation, public involvement and legislative oversight to the revision process of Wisconsin’s academic standards.

>>>>>read the full testimony HERE

The bill failed to pass in the Senate after Education Committee Chairman Senator Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) refused to take any action on the bill after the public hearing.  No pressure to do so came from Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau).  Read moreHERE.

Germantown School District has already voted to develop its own set of standards.  >>>>>read more HERE

Drumbeats, Marriage, Judges and the Truth

From the desk of Julaine Appling, Wisconsin Family Action president:

When I started working at Wisconsin Family Council in late 1997, the drumbeat for redefining marriage to include persons of the same-sex was just beginning.  It was faint and slow.  Already, however, this organization had as early as March 1996, worked with state legislators to try to put language in our state statutes to clearly restrict marriage in Wisconsin to what it has always been:  one man and one woman.

For five consecutive legislative sessions, marriage protection wording was introduced.  Not until 2003, were we successful in getting the statutory language passed in both the Assembly and the Senate.  Within two days of the Senate approving the bill, Governor Doyle vetoed it in its entirety.  Courageous legislators in the Assembly attempted to override the Governor’s veto and fell one vote short.

Just days later in mid-November 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judiciary issued a ruling that declared restricting marriage to one man and one woman violated the state’s constitution.  That ruling provided the impetus for legislators in Wisconsin to introduce in January 2004 language that would provide the very best legal protection possible for marriage in The Badger State—a joint resolution that would amend our state’s constitution and required a vote by the electorate.

By early 2006, the resolution had been passed by both houses two times in two consecutive legislative sessions and was ready for the people to vote on in November 2006.

ImageWe worked tirelessly the summer of 2006 telling people the truth about the amendment, countering the outright lies of Fair Wisconsin and others who were bent on defeating this marriage protection amendment.  God blessed and worked in the hearts of people and on Election Day marriage won. Nearly 60% of the people who voted—over 1.6 million Wisconsin citizens—said yes to keeping and protecting marriage as the unique union of one man and one woman in our state.

The amendment, the will of the people and the institution of marriage have been under strong legal fire since that historic day.  The legal maelstrom culminated late this past Friday, June 6, when federal Judge Barbara Crabb issued a ruling declaring Wisconsin’s marriage protection amendment unconstitutional based on the due process and equal protection clauses of the US Constitution.

With the single stroke of a single arrogant and liberal activist federal judge, marriage in Wisconsin was turned on its head and the will of the people was trumped.

Judge Crabb writes about a “fundamental right to marry,” “loving and committed” people and relationships, “equality of citizenship.”  All of those are fabrications of a judge with an agenda.   What these terms fundamentally do is to open wide the door for yet further changes to the foundational societal institution of marriage.  Already polygamists are ramping up to be able to marry, claiming that they too are in “loving and committed” relationships.

Judge Crabb dismisses the unique conjugal nature of man/woman marriage and the benefits these relationships have for children born to or adopted by married couples. She basically says gender is meaningless.  Children don’t need both a mother and a father according to Judge Crabb.

While relatively few Wisconsin citizens will get marriage licenses as same-sex couples, the impact of the ruling will eventually affect all of us.  For starters, schools will be forced to present homosexuality and same-sex “marriage” as being as normal and natural as heterosexuality and opposite-sex marriage.  Religious freedom and individual rights are bound to collide head-on with this so-called “equality in marriage.”  Gender distinctions will become even more meaningless and all of this is just for starters.

I am profoundly sad and disappointed, especially for the good people of Wisconsin who have had absolutely no say whatsoever in all of this.  They have been defrauded with no opportunity to dissent. Those wanting to redefine marriage took the coward’s way out and went whining to the courts rather than observing and respecting the rule of law and attempting to undo the amendment the same way the amendment was put in place, following the rigorous procedure provided in Wisconsin’s governing law.

The drumbeat to redefine marriage is now very strong, very loud and very fast. The drums are in our streets as homosexuals celebrate their victory.  However, we know that in reality as the prophet Isaiah said, “…judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street….”

Gauging the Well-Being of Wisconsin

From the desk of Wisconsin Family Council president, Julaine Appling:

“Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators, 2014 Edition: Gauging the Well-being of Wisconsin”

In 1997, Wisconsin Family Council released the first edition of Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators.   It was a well-received publication in part because it was the only document of its kind that brought together important statistics giving a panoramic snapshot of Wisconsin.  We released the second edition in 2008.

Modeled after William Bennett’s The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators at the national level, our Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators provides an overview of important indicators that impact Wisconsin’s best natural resource:  traditional families.  When Wisconsin’s families are healthy, Wisconsin is healthy.  When our state’s families are weak, struggling, and dependent on the government, that is sure to be reflected in the overall health of the state. As the family, so the state.

The greatly expanded 2014 edition of Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators follows in the footsteps of the 1997 and 2008 editions and continues to track critical indicators, typically, over a substantial amount of time, almost 50 years in some instances.  When we present these indicators graphically, we are able to see trends—trends that reveal how healthy or unhealthy our state is in specific areas and in a general sense.  As we look at these trends, we are also able to assess whether or not interventions have been helpful. This in turn can provide direction for policy and decision makers on whether or not to maintain such interventions or to introduce others.

ImageIn this 2014 edition, we basically doubled the size of the publication because we added what I consider to be an extremely important section.  Entitled, “Family Structure,” this opening 29-page section shows in graphs, charts and tables that family structure really does matter to Wisconsin’s well-being.  On every measure we considered, husband-wife families do better than single-parent families in Wisconsin.

For instance, single-mother households are much more likely to live in poverty.  Single-parent households are much more likely to take government assistance, including Food Stamps and other income assistance.  One table we provide shows that a single-mother with two children would lose $2,600 every month in government-subsidies if she were to marry.  In annual numbers, this single mom has over $36,000 of taxpayer money coming into the household from credits and programs such as Earned Income Credit for both the state and federal government, Child Tax Credit, WIC, and other subsidies.

Other statistics show that Wisconsin’s marriage rate has dropped nearly 38% in just the last 12 years and that Wisconsin’s total fertility rate has been below replacement levels since 1975.  Replacement level is 2.1 children per woman.  We have vacillated between 1.7 and 1.9 for 39 years.   The data also shows that while teen births have gone down, births to unmarried women have steadily risen since 1960, when only 3% of babies were born out of wedlock to 2010 when 37% of Wisconsin babies were born to unwed mothers.  That figure correlates closely with 50% of the babies born in 2010 having their births paid for by Medicaid.

On some indicators we separated out Milwaukee from the rest of the state.  Milwaukee numbers show an even more startling difference between married and unmarried households.  I believe it is very fair and very accurate to say that written all over this publication is the impact of fatherlessness on a state and a community.

Quite honestly, the data tells the story.  We do provide some analysis and additional information from current research.   Our hope is that public officials, educators at all levels, business leaders, pastors, ministry leaders, and lay citizens will find this Wisconsin Cultural Indicators 2014 Edition instructive and helpful as they make decisions affecting Wisconsin’s future.  We want this publication to make a real difference in our state as we work to improve and increase Wisconsin’s best natural resource—her married mom-and-dad families.

This unique and significant report is available online HERE.

Milwaukee Data Show Decline of Family Hurting the City

Press release from Wisconsin Family Council:

Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators, 2014 Edition shows children suffer

when the traditional family is on the decline

ImageMadison, WI—Today Wisconsin Family Council (WFC) announced the online release of Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators, 2014 Edition.  WFC first released this premier publication in Appleton, Wisconsin on May 27th.  The Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators, 2014 Edition, provides an overview of important indicators impacting the well-being of children and families in the state of Wisconsin and Milwaukee in particular.

“This timely compilation of data highlights how much the disintegration of the family unit is hurting Milwaukee,” said Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Council. “While some blame government, the failure of programs, the judicial system or the education system for problems in Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators shows the root problem: where the family unit is no longer the underpinning of society, everyone suffers at every level of society, especially the children.”

The seventy-page publication provides a breakdown of data and trends between Wisconsin and Milwaukee for indicators such as “Children and Family Structure,” “The Relationship Between Government Assistance and Family Structure,” “Childbearing and Poverty Status,” “Sexual Activity Among High School Students,” and “Illegal Drug Use on School Property,” as well as a “Government Entitlement Analysis” that uses Milwaukee County rates.

“We know, for example, that 73 percent of children in Milwaukee living in single-mother households were in families receiving government assistance in 2010, compared to 56 percent of single-mother households statewide,” noted Appling. “Both figures are staggering, but they highlight the unique needs in Milwaukee. So many children in Milwaukee are missing out on the great benefits of living with a married father and mother. It is our hope that Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators will help leaders and concerned citizens in Milwaukee craft policy and programs that strengthen marriage and families and by so doing, strengthen the city of Milwaukee.”

Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators, 2014 Edition is available online.