Within 2 days of Concerned Women of America putting up an Easter display depicting the Christian celebration of Christ’s resurrection and celebrating life in the rotunda of the Wisconsin State Capitol, the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) put up a a counter display that proclaimed “Nobody died for our sins.” and “Jesus is a myth.” Fox News commentator Greta Van Susteren said the FFRF response is just plain “bad manners.” Kim Simac with Concerned Women for America Wisconsin joined Fox & Friends yesterday and said while FFRF has a right to their free speech in the state capitol, she is sorry that they don’t share the joy we as Christians have as we recognize and celebrate the resurrection of our Savior.
“Where’s the good news? I need some good news,” I lamented to our staff recently. Given the way our culture and our government are going these days, we typically don’t lack for bad news—news that is accurate and necessary but that is often just hard to hear, especially when it’s a steady diet of it. So today’s commentary is devoted exclusively to good news, and I sincerely hope it encourages you.
Let’s start with some kudos for New York Mets second baseman, Daniel Murphy, who opted to miss the first two games of the new season rather than miss being with his wife at the birth of their first child. The couple’s son, Noah, was born via C-section on Monday. This surgical procedure requires a bit longer recovery. Mr. Murphy said, “My wife and I discussed it, and we felt the best thing for our family was for me to try to stay for an extra day—that being Wednesday.” He was back in the lineup for Thursday’s game.
Now, Mr. Murphy took some hits from some of the self-professed sports pundits. One sports announcer said Mr. Murphy is rich and “could have like twenty nannies taking care of his tired wife….” In limited response to his critics, Mr. Murphy stood by his decision of putting his family before his job. That shouldn’t even be a question.
Kudos on this one also go to Major League Baseball for giving the players three days off for paternity leave. It’s never wrong to put family over profession. Years from now, Mr. Murphy will be able to tell Noah how special his birth was—that he was right there as he made his entrance. To a child, that story will eventually be way more important than hearing about the stats from the baseball career—and that’s because this story will be about him. Mr. Murphy will also never have regrets about being there for his wife and this once-in-a-lifetime event. Had he missed it, he’d likely have regrets for his entire lifetime.
Our second piece of good news is the story about the obstetrician Dr. Bob Sansonetti, who practices in Maine. About four years ago, Dr. Sansonetti bought a book he says he thought his teenage children would enjoy. The book was about a man who set out to knit 50 unique hats for his friends. It came complete with instructions.
The good doctor took the challenge and knitted a hat. It ended up being pretty small; but as he looked at it, he thought it was about the right size for newborns. He tried it out, and it worked great! Now he knits a hat for each baby he delivers—and it comes complete with a tag on it that says, “Baby Beanie by Dr. Bob.” The adorable, one-of-a-kind hats keep the tiny infants warm and warm the hearts of the parents who enjoy the personal touch from a doctor who enters into their joy in a special way.
The final good-news story is about a young woman who was originally from Green Bay. Jackie Stollfus now lives in Texas but she was just 21and in college when she started having severely swollen and sore ankles and other symptoms over a spring break. The diagnosis wasn’t what she wanted to hear. She had lupus, an autoimmune disease.
This young woman tried numerous treatments; nothing worked. In the meantime, she married. At their wits’ end, Jackie and her husband Brian decided to take the recommendation of her rheumatologist and check with Dr. Richard Burt at the Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago. Dr. Burt was doing some amazing work using adult stem cells to treat autoimmune diseases.
Jackie was eventually accepted into Dr. Burt’s program. Her bad white blood cells were destroyed and her own harvested stem cells were put back in, creating a brand new immune system. In about six months, Jackie turned the corner. She regained her appetite and strength, went from enjoying short walks to now 5 years later hiking with her husband and living a full and rich life.
Many women who have lupus cannot get pregnant. Jackie knew that. However, Dr. Burt told her that her body now doesn’t even know she has Lupus. With that encouragement, Jackie is looking forward to one day fulfilling another of her life’s dreams—becoming a mom. Chalk up yet another wonderful victory for adult stem cell therapies, treatments and cures, proving yet again that we don’t have to destroy life to save life.
The Bible tells us that good news from a far country does for a thirsty soul what a cold drink does for a thirsty person. I hope your soul is refreshed and encouraged by these good news stories.
After months of hard work, passionate lobbying at the State Capitol, and many phone calls and emails from grassroots pro-lifers, Wisconsin Family Action is extremely disappointed to report that the “Choose Life” Wisconsin license plate bill (AB 206) did not pass. Senate Republican leadership refused to schedule the bill for a final vote on the last day of session, effectively killing it.
But this isn’t over yet. Choose Life Wisconsin, Inc. has made public its intention to take the “Choose Life” plate to the courts, with the goal of compelling the Wisconsin Legislature and Governor Walker to make AB 206 law. The lawsuit is based on the fact that the legislature previously approved a similar women’s health license plate, and it would therefore be unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination to exclude pro-choice, pro-life, or any other viewpoint about women’s health from the specialty license plate program.
To read the attorney’s letter to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and the rest of the Wisconsin State Senate, click here. To read Choose Life Wisconsin’s testimony in favor of the plate, click here.
Instead of being silent, this is your opportunity to freely talk about the issues that are important to you, expressing the true model by Jesus Christ. You can talk to classmates about how God cares about your life, your relationships and your sexuality.
Click HERE to sign up and get your FREE student “get started” kit for Focus on the Family’s Day of Dialogue event!
From the desk of Wisconsin Family Action president Julaine Appling:
Unless something odd happens, the current state legislative session is over this week. Unless the Governor convenes a special session or the legislature calls for an extraordinary session, the legislators will go home this week and begin campaigning for the fall elections.
I started in this work nearly 17 years ago. That means I’ve endured 8 two-year sessions of our state legislature. You start thinking you’ve seen it all, especially after the 2011-2012 session when we had weeks of the state capitol being closed because of tens of thousands of protestors swarming the building. I really figured that would be the most bizarre session I—or anyone else, for that matter—would ever be involved with.
However, in my opinion, this legislative session tops even that session. Words I would use to describe this session include “incredible,” “unreal,” “disappointing,” and “maddening.”
The session began in early January 2013, following the 2012 fall elections. Governor Walker was beginning the third year of his four-year term. The Republicans had majorities in both the Senate and the Assembly.
Whichever party has the majority controls the respective house. That means Republican leadership has control in both the Assembly and the Senate. That majority determines the committee to which bills are assigned, has input on which bills get hearings and committee votes and certainly determines which bills get to the floor for a full vote on passage.
Frankly, to a large degree it’s fair to say the Republicans “own” state government right now in Wisconsin. If pro-family, pro-life, pro-liberty bills don’t get passed, it’s pretty safe to say Republicans didn’t want them passed.
And that is precisely why I find this legislative session the most frustrating of all the sessions I’ve been involved with. Unless something dramatic happens in the next couple of days, at least 3 solid pro-life bills will die in the Republican-controlled state senate. Assembly Bill 216 would keep taxpayers from having to pay for the abortions of state employees and would also provide a narrow religious exemption for churches and certain other religious organizations regarding health insurance. Right now, it is illegal for insurance companies in Wisconsin to sell health-insurance coverage that does not include a fully array of contraceptive drugs and devices, some of which cause early abortions. Assembly Bill 216 would permit insurance companies to write policies for churches and other religious organizations that do not cover contraceptives, if the church or organization wanted such a policy.
Assembly Bill 217 would ban sex-selective abortions—abortions sought simply based on the sex of the baby. Assembly Bill 206 authorizes the production and sale of a Choose Life Wisconsin specialty license plate. The proceeds from the sale of this plate would go to Wisconsin’s wonderful Pregnancy Resource Centers—places where women receive real help during crisis pregnancies—help that focuses on both the unborn baby and the health and well-being of the woman.
In addition, Republican Senators have killed a bill that would put a process in place for the development, adoption, and implementation of state model academic standards, a process that would prevent a repeat of the Common Core State Standards disaster we’re all living through right now.All four of these bills had solid support in both houses. In fact, the 3 pro-life bills all passed in the State Assembly. All that was necessary for them to become law was for the Senate to vote on them and send the bills to the governor.
Instead, all 4 bills are dead, in spite of ongoing, repeated, and aggressive efforts by outside groups to get them on the senate floor for a vote. Senate Republican leadership has blocked them, determining them to be unnecessary, unimportant, messy, divisive or something. We’ve heard all kinds of reasons for these bills dying. We’ve heard whining about its being an election year and insinuations that the Governor doesn’t want them and recently that the Senate leadership says they don’t have enough Republican votes to pass them.
What I know is in a session where any reasonable person would assume these bills would all pass, they have not passed. They remain buried in the Republican controlled Senate. And yes, that makes this session one of the most bizarre, if not the most bizarre, I’ve ever been part of. It’s maddening, frustrating, and downright reprehensible and inexcusable.
This week, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard two very important religious liberty cases - Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius. The Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby, and the Hahn family, owners of Conestoga Wood Specialties, are taking a stand against the HHS mandate, a controversial portion of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, that forces employers to provide abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives to their employees against their firmly held religious convictions. Both companies face fines of up to $100 per day per employee if the mandate is upheld.
The SCOTUS decision on these cases is not expected until at least June. Family Research Council provides a summary of the SCOTUS hearings HERE.
This Saturday, March 29, is national “Hobby Lobby Day.” Show your support for the Greene family and others who are courageously taking a stand for religious freedom.
HOW YOU CAN SHOW YOUR SUPPORT:
- Make a purchase from Hobby Lobby on Saturday, March 29 (on-line or in the store). go shopping with friends! Say “thank you” with a card from your family; make your own, or download and print one HERE.
- Change your Facebook profile picture to show your support. Get your “twibbon” HERE.
- Do you have a Twitter account? Tweet your support using hashtags #HobbyLobbyDay starting now and throughout the day on March 29th!
- Update your Facebook cover using the graphic HERE.
- Pray for a positive outcome from the SCOTUS decision for these companies, and for religious liberty in the United States.
From the desk of Wisconsin Family Action president Julaine Appling:
So, do you know who is on your ballot for the upcoming election? If that question takes you by surprise, please allow this commentary to be your wake-up call on this important issue.
While thankfully we don’t have never-ending elections like we did a couple of years ago, 2014 is an election year, meaning in Wisconsin we have both spring and fall elections. The election on Tuesday, April 1, is our annual Spring Nonpartisan General Election.
Rather than a being a yawner, this should be one of the most important elections each year. This is the election when we elect to office those whose decisions most directly affect our individual and family lives. On Tuesday, April 1, citizens across this state will be voting for such offices as city mayors, city council members, county board supervisors, town and village board members, and school board members. Some areas will see contested municipal judge races and a few will have contested circuit court judge races.
When we have big elections such as the one coming this November when we will be electing a governor and lieutenant governor, all of our state assembly, half of our state senate, a new attorney general and all of our congressional delegation, many people get at least a little interested and involved. Sad to say, it’s way too often a different story for these spring local elections.
But consider the decisions these local officials make. They determine the assessed value of your home and property which figures into how much you pay in property tax. They determine what you can and cannot do with your property. They determine when and how roads will be built and maintained. They make decisions about curriculum in your local public schools, about what surveys will be administered, and how much school employees will be paid—using your tax dollars. They set the rules for whether or not sexually oriented businesses can move into your community and how many liquor licenses will be issued. They’re the ones who establish contracts with organizations such as Planned Parenthood. They hire the people who make up police and fire departments in your community and those who make sure the water is safe to drink.
That’s an incomplete list, to be sure. But I hope it gives you the proof you need so you understand that truly local government is the level of government that most directly impacts you and your family—every day in a multitude of ways.
The election on Tuesday, April 1 is important. In these elections, we’re often voting for people we know. On the ballot in my community are 3 people from my church. In local elections we frequently vote for friends, acquaintances, fellow church members, family members, neighbors. This should be the most important, not the least important election for us.
To find out what races and candidates will be on your ballot on Tuesday, April 1, you can either call your municipal clerk or visit myvote.wi.gov online. Both sources will give you the information you need. Many local newspapers also print the ballots the Thursday or Friday before the Tuesday election.
Once you know who is on your ballot, you need to make sure you find out what they stand for. It’s not too late to do that. It’s not too late until the polls close on Tuesday, April 1—which, by the way, is 8 p.m. statewide.
You can learn about the candidates by calling them directly—at home—because most don’t have offices for local elections. Ask them questions about why they are running, ask about issues you are concerned about, find out about their view of government, their background. Most local candidates today have websites. Check them out. Read the newspaper. Listen to the radio. Watch your local cable channel. Go to forums. Read literature they may be mailed or dropped off at your house. Call friends whom you trust and who you know are following local politics. The bottom line is it’s up to us as citizens to get educated on the candidates so we can vote our values.
Do yourself, your family and your community a favor. Get Tuesday, April 1 plugged into your electronic calendar. Circle it on your refrigerator calendar. Call friends and family members and make sure they, too, are ready to vote on Tuesday, April 1—and to truly vote their values by voting for people who will represent them well right in their own communities. Ignorance is no excuse. Let’s all be the Christian citizen and example we should be.
Today’s op ed published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, by Julaine Appling, Wisconsin Family Action president:
“By now, we are all painfully familiar with the refrain “war on women” from those on the left. Contrary to what they want us to think, liberal progressives are actually the ones waging a war on women with policies bent on making women — particularly single women — dependent on government. You may be surprised by the brilliance of their agenda.
Consider the liberal policy of excessive business regulations. It is not easy for anyone to raise the capital necessary to start a new venture, but it can be especially difficult for women for a number of reasons. When legislators pile regulatory policies on start-ups, they raise the cost of doing business, make compliance and reporting a nightmare and limit profitability for women trying to pursue the dream of owning their own company.
Then consider the high taxes that diminish the family’s bottom line, often eliminating the option for women who want to stay home with their children. Instead, to make family ends meet, moms often are compelled to go into the workforce — at least part time — which frequently puts a strain on their families and marriages.
Wisconsin Family Action has done a rather detailed analysis — to be published soon — of government benefits for single mothers compared to married mothers, and by our cautious calculations, the state and federal governments pay working single moms in Wisconsin approximately $31,000 per year to not marry the working father of their children. From an economic standpoint, government encourages single moms to remain single and incredibly dependent on government welfare, which, incidentally, could change at any time, significantly affecting their monthly income. Policies that essentially pay single moms to remain single condemn women and children to poverty rather than help them become strong and independent.
Liberals are adamant that unregulated, taxpayer-funded, elective abortions at any time during pregnancy is a woman’s right. Yet abortion comes with great risk to a woman and is sometimes accompanied by years of physical, psychological and emotional issues. Keeping a minor girl’s reproductive health information from her parents is dangerous — even medically — for the girl. Opposing parental consent for a minor girl to have an abortion leaves girls at the mercy of abortion clinic staff.
Fighting efforts to have women get an ultrasound prior to an abortion limits information and choice for women. Perhaps most ironically, actively working to make women dependent on government for abortion and contraception effectively puts women’s so-called reproduction rights at the mercy of the appropriations power of the legislature. These policies are the real war on women, yet liberals have vigorously and aggressively supported these policies over the years.
Conservative policies, on the other hand, respect individual liberty — for men and women — and encourage entrepreneurship, job creating, saving, wealth creation and pro-family, pro-life initiatives. Why then accuse conservatives of waging a war on women?
It is really no secret. Liberals desperately want the significant voting bloc of single women in America who lean Democratic. It is a large but sometimes inactive voting bloc, which means liberals need to create a boogeyman for single women in order to galvanize their vote, particularly in an off-year election. Thus we end up with the ominous, but wrongly-attributed, war on women rhetoric from Democrats.
There is a real war being waged on women, but it is in fact the work of liberals who want to make women dependent on government and who are willing to sell out the independence of our women for the price of a vote.
Julaine Appling is president of Wisconsin Family Action, a statewide organization dedicated to strengthening, preserving and promoting marriage, family, life and liberty in Wisconsin.”
Religious freedom is under attack like never before.
“The freedom of religion is the ability to live your life according to the religious teachings of your choice. However, President Obama has repeatedly expressed his support for the freedom of worship, not the freedom of religion. His HHS mandate is a byproduct of his truncated view of religious liberty and the First Amendment.” – Tony Perkins, Family Research Council president
On Tuesday, March 25, the Supreme Court of the United States will be hearing two very important cases; both are challenging the HHS regulations coming from Obamacare concerning the mandate that employers provide coverage for services to which they are morally opposed (abortion-causing drugs, sterilization, contraception).
The future of religious freedom is at stake.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: