February 2007
NEWS OF INTEREST
AFA attorneys defend Christian’s rights in critical case

The fallout continues for an Illinois psychologist whose only offense is that he is a Christian and former board member of a Christian organization.

Dr. Michael A. Campion, a clinical psychologist licensed in Illinois, Minnesota and Indiana, was recently suspended as contract psychologist for the Minneapolis Police Department. His dismissal occurred after activists in Minneapolis learned that Campion had been fired from a similar position with the city of Springfield, Illinois, last year.

Campion’s firing in Springfield happened when a liberal newspaper, the Illinois Times, reported Campion’s ties to what it called an “anti-choice and anti-gay” organization – the Illinois Family Institute (IFI). IFI is a statewide organization that educates the public on matters of public interest and advocates for pro-family public policy initiatives. It is structurally independent, but maintains working partnerships with Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, both nationwide organizations involved in pro-family advocacy.

Prior to his abrupt termination by the Springfield Board of Aldermen, Campion enjoyed a successful professional relationship with the city of Springfield for approximately 15 years. Until the current effort by liberal activists to discredit him, Campion and his corporation enjoyed a spotless reputation in providing a comprehensive list of psychological services throughout the nation, directly and through strategic alliances, including consultation to about 100 police departments.

In August of 2004, an article in the Illinois Times was critical of the results of the psychological test performed by Campion’s organization on an African-American candidate for the Springfield Fire Department.

The author of the Times article made reference to Campion’s membership on the board of IFI and implied there may have been bias. The title of the woman’s article was: “Partial disclosure: Psychologist who screens firefighters is leader with anti-choice, anti-gay group.”

In May 2005, the author of the initial article wrote another article in the Illinois Times, titled “Last Straw,” in which she stated that the August 2004 Times article “… revealed that Campion leads a group of conservative activists called Illinois Family Institute. The group advocates for religious freedom and opposes abortion, stem cell research, gay marriage, gambling, and decriminalization of any illegal drugs, needle exchanges, and civil rights protection for homosexuals.”

As a result of these articles and goading by liberal activists, the Springfield Board of Aldermen fired Campion without notice and refused to answer his calls for an explanation. City of Springfield aldermen were quoted as publicly questioning Campion’s objectivity for simply being a board member of a conservative Christian organization and stating: “Hey, this guy’s gotta go. He’s out of touch with the mainstream.”

When Campion could not even get Springfield officials to speak to him, the AFA Center for Law and Policy (CLP) filed a federal lawsuit this fall asserting that the action by the Springfield City Council violated Campion’s constitutional rights of freedom of association, freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Unfortunately, Campion’s reputation and livelihood continue to suffer serious damage. The Minneapolis Police Department recently suspended him as its psychologist and eventually terminated his services when Minneapolis activists got wind of the success of liberal activists in Springfield.

Campion’s suspension and termination in Minneapolis was based entirely on the fact that some community members had questioned Campion’s affiliation with IFI, and referenced the termination of his contract by Springfield officials.

Campion and the CLP are currently considering legal action against the city of Minneapolis in an attempt to restore his reputation and stop the damage to his professional livelihood.

EDUCATION
Judge’s anti-ID ruling criticized
A new study released by a leading intelligent design (ID) think-tank based in Washington State alleged that a federal judge plagiarized his widely-hailed ruling banning the teaching of ID theory in a Pennsylvania school system.

In December 2005, federal district court Judge John E. Jones issued a ruling in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, declaring that ID theory cannot be mentioned in biology classes in the Dover area schools.

The case involved the first direct challenge brought in the U.S. federal court system against a public school district that required the presentation of ID theory as an alternative to Darwinian evolution when explaining the origin of life in science classes. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU, argued successfully that ID is a form of Biblical creationism and that the school district’s policy therefore violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Since the ruling, which effectively banned any mention of ID theory in the Dover area schools, the judge had defended his opinion publicly and at one point commented in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer that he “assiduously tried to find the facts and apply the legal precedents to the facts as I found them.”

In December 2006, however, the Seattle-based Discovery Institute issued a report showing that the central part of Judge Jones’s Kitzmiller ruling was copied almost word for word from a document prepared by lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Dr. John West, the Discovery Institute’s vice president for public policy and legal affairs, said nearly 91% of Jones’s 6,004-word section on whether ID can be considered science was copied from the ACLU’s proposed findings of fact submitted to the judge nearly a month before his ruling.

According to West, Judge Jones’s “wholesale, uncritical copying” of the ACLU’s document compromises the independent judgment that federal judges are expected to exercise in such controversial cases.

“Jones’s analysis of the scientific status of intelligent design contains virtually nothing written by Jones himself,” West said. “This finding seriously undercuts the credibility of a central part of the ruling.”

www.discovery.org, 12/12/06; www.agapepress.org, 12/12/06, 12/15/06

Elite schools reverse students’ knowledge of U.S. history, civics
Some of America’s Ivy League universities are going backward when it comes to teaching civic affairs. Students at prestigious schools such as Yale, Duke, Cornell, Brown and Georgetown lost knowledge of American history and government between their freshman and senior years.

Conversely, smaller, less prominent campuses showed moderate success in teaching U.S. history, government and civics. More than 14,000 students at 50 schools participated in the three-year study. The startling facts are revealed in “The Coming Crisis in Citizenship,” a new study from Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI; www.isi.org).

According to ISI, a non-profit educational organization, Johns Hopkins led the losers with student knowledge loss of 7.3%. Also in the bottom ten were Cornell (-3.3%), Duke (-2.3%) and Yale (-1.5%).

Among the colleges where students actually learned something about American history and government, the top four were Rhodes College (+11.6%), Colorado State (+10%), Calvin College (+9.5%) and Grove City College (+9.4%).

ENTERTAINMENT
Networks increase disregard, disdain for religious faith
A recent study of the 2005-2006 network television season reveals that the networks had decreased the references to religion and that there were narrowly more negative portrayals than positive ones (35% to 34%).

In its seventh Faith in a Box study, Parents Television Council (PTC) reported on the group’s monitoring and analysis of 2,271.5 hours of programming. They identified 1,425 treatments of religion, representing a 41% decrease from 2,344 portrayals during the 2003-2004 season.

“The results of this study clearly show that the entertainment industry is not reflecting the strong religious beliefs of Americans,” said PTC president Brent Bozell. “After Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ, there was a lot of talk that Hollywood finally had ‘found religion.’ But with television, sadly that wasn’t true. In fact, it was the opposite.”

Bozell said 57.8% of the positive depictions of religion occurred on reality shows, shows in which real people talked about their worldview, faith and religion. On the other hand, 95.5% of the negative portrayals came from Hollywood-scripted drama and comedy programs.

Fox topped the offenders’ list with 49.3% negative portrayals of religion. NBC tallied 39.3%, ABC 30.4% and CBS 29%. Other key findings included: the later the hour, the more negative the treatment; religious institutions treated negatively; and lay persons treated more negatively by entertainment programs.

www.agapepress.org, 12/15/06

Faith-science connection explored in Christian movie
The intersection of science and faith is the focal point of The Theory of Everything, a new DVD release from Blue Yonder Pictures. While that context sounds pretty heavy, writer/director David de Vos creates an entertaining narrative and a family-friendly story based on intriguing relationships.

De Vos himself stars as Doug Holloway, a young family man who’s barely keeping his head above water – a business on the verge of failure, a marriage going the same direction and an unwelcome intrusion from his birth father, of whom he has no memory.

When Doug agrees to see his birth father, the two men quickly forge a fast bond. Doug brings emotion and his Christian faith to the relationship and Gene, a physicist, brings science.

De Vos is intrigued by father-son relationships and has written a number of stories exploring the theme. His father is an engineer, and de Vos said their family discussions gave him a lot of food for thought regarding this project.

The film may evoke some deep thinking. But it is also a compelling story with believable characters reflecting themes and realities that impact our daily living – faith, forgiveness, restored relationships, integrity and compassion among them.

For order information: www.americanfamilyresourcecenter.net.

FAMILY
Does early TV viewing lead to autism?
A new study has added another potential danger to the television habits of young children: autism.

According to the Autism Society of America (www.autism-society.org), autism is “a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life,” which affects the ability of children to develop social and communication skills.

The prevalence of autism has seen remarkable growth since 1970, according to researchers at Cornell University. In the U.S. alone the incidence of the affliction has increased from about one child in 2,500 just 30 years ago to perhaps one in 166 today.

While several explanations for this rise have been offered, in October economists at Cornell, Indiana and Purdue Universities said there is some evidence that there is “a connection between early childhood television viewing and the onset of autism.”

Slate’s Gregg Easterbrook had already broached the possible connection, but the Cornell study offered the first potential scientific correlation. The researchers claimed that children who were in a position to watch more television “were more likely to be diagnosed with autism.”

The Cornell study – and Easterbrook’s articles – stirred controversy. For example, Claudia Wallis, a Time editor who specializes in stories about science and health, savaged the study in an article for the magazine.

However, the study’s researchers concluded, “The medical community is increasingly convinced that something is happening in the environment that triggers an underlying biological or genetic predisposition toward autism, and these [study] findings strongly support the need for taking a closer look at early childhood television viewing.”

www.news.cornell.edu, 10/16/06; www.slate.com, 9/5/06, 10/16/06; Time, 10/30/06

Social Kid: Manners Matter!
Mr. Manners and Mr. Sloppy make their home entertainment debut in Social Kid: Manners Matter! an educational DVD designed to teach solid traditional manners to two- to nine-year-olds.

The approximately 30-minute DVD depicts children using manners in real-life scenarios. It is divided into four chapters that address general manners, table manners, bedtime manners and chivalry. There is also a brief relaxation segment on nature and wildlife as well as behind-the-scenes bloopers.

Manners Matter! is the first installment in what is expected to become a series of videos from Social Kid Inc., a project developed by best friends and fathers Ted Runnels and Kent Fields. While the DVD is like a well-done home video with robotic narration and the creators’ own children as actors, it does contain valuable lessons and timeless truths likely to make an impression on young lives. 

To purchase the DVD, visit www.socialkid.com.

GOVERNMENT
Democrats to restrict conservative groups
Leading pro-family and free speech watchdog groups are warning that newly elected Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) plans to push legislation that would restrict the ability of grass roots organizations to contact members of Congress.

According to articles in Human Events and Newsmax.com, Pelosi will offer the restrictions as part of a broader package that is supposed to limit corruption in the nation’s capital.

Under the proposed legislation, explained conservative activist Richard A. Viguerie, groups that communicate to as few as 500 citizens, urging them to contact a member of Congress concerning upcoming bills, would have to register with Congress as lobbyists.

“The … plan is perhaps the most comprehensive regulation of political speech ever proposed, and would make small grassroots causes report quarterly to Congress” in exactly the same manner as influential lobbyists, Viguerie told Newsmax’s Dave Eberhart.

The law, if passed, would apply to an organization like AFA, which frequently encourages supporters to contact their legislators on a wide variety of issues. If AFA encouraged more than 500 people to do so, the law would require AFA to provide detailed information to the government on a quarterly basis. Moreover, said Eberhart, a separate report would have to be filed for each issue addressed.

Not surprisingly, the law would not cover trade associations and unions, which traditionally vote Democratic.

The leaders of 47 conservative groups, including AFA Chairman Don Wildmon, have signed an open letter opposing the legislation. “This bill would apply to those who have no Washington-based lobbyists, who provide no money or gifts to members of Congress, and who merely seek to speak, associate and petition the government,” the letter said. Instead of targeting corruption in Washington, it added, the proposed law “is targeted directly at the 1st-Amendment rights of citizens and their voluntary associations.”

Viguerie was more blunt. According to Newsmax, he said the law was intended to cripple the conservative movement.

www.humanevents.com, 12/18/06; www.newsmax.com, 1/2/07

PRO-LIFE
Religion opponent advocates eugenics
Dr. Richard Dawkins, a leading international anti-religion crusader and supporter of Darwinian theory, recently made public his opinion that eugenics “may not be bad.”

The pseudo-science that motivated the Nazi regime’s genocidal project, eugenics is defined by LifeSite as “the social philosophy that the human species or particular races ought to be improved by selective breeding or other forms of genetic manipulation.”

It immediately brings to mind images of Nazi death camps and “racial hygiene” programs. But Dawkins still contends, in a Scottish newspaper that “if you can breed cattle for milk yield, horses for running speed, and dogs for heralding skill, why on Earth should it be impossible to breed humans for mathematical, musical or athletic ability?

“I wonder whether, some 60 years after Hitler’s death, we might at least venture to ask what the moral difference is between breeding for musical ability and forcing a child to take music lessons. Or why is it acceptable to train fast runners and high jumpers but not to breed them?” Dawkins added.

Dawkins is one of the world’s most outspoken opponents of religious belief. He gives lectures and interviews and writes articles targeting “fundamentalist” Christianity. He also is known for instigating the idea that mass starvation will be the result of the Catholic Church’s opposition to artificial contraception and that great apes should have legal “human” rights.

www.lifesite.net, 11/21/06

Disabled newborns likely to face death
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a leading British medical college, has called on the health profession to debate openly the active euthanasia of seriously disabled newborns, and the Church of England supports it.

The college believes the emotional and financial burden placed on parents of disabled children is a valid reason to consider the “mercy killings.”

“A very disabled child can mean a disabled family,” stated a formal submission by the college. “If life-shortening and deliberate interventions to kill infants were available, they might have an impact on obstetric decision-making, even preventing some late abortions, as some parents would be more confident about continuing a pregnancy and taking a risk on outcome.”

The college submitted its call for consideration of active euthanasia to the Nuffield Council of Bioethics, a body that will look into the ethical issues raised by the policy of prolonging newborn life, and euthanasia proponents are speaking out. Among those are the Bishop of Southwark, Tom Butler, and controversial bioethics Princeton professor Peter Singer.

Butler, a representative of the Church of England, sparked an outrage when he argued that leaving a severely disabled child to die is sometimes an act of compassion. He, too, acknowledged the high financial burden placed on parents as a factor.

Singer also believes it is important to consider what is best for families of disabled babies. When asked by a reader of the UK Independent newspaper if he would kill a disabled baby, Singer replied: “Yes, if that was in the best interests of the baby and of the family as a whole. Many people find this shocking, yet they support a woman’s right to have an abortion.”

While the proposal has been supported by a number of leading geneticists and medical ethicists, John Wyatt, a consultant neonatalologist at University College London hospital, said: “Once you introduce the possibility of intentional killing into medical practice, you change the fundamental nature of medicine.”

www.worldnetdaily.com, 9/14/06; http://insider.washingtontimes.com, 11/6/06; www.dailymail.co.uk, 11/12/06

British study links miscarriages to abortion
Out of wedlock pregnancies, abortion and artificial procreation appear to be linked to increased rates of miscarriages according to a new study to be published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The results are from research, conducted by Noreen Maconochie and a team from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, in which over 12,000 women ages 18-55 were surveyed.

The study found that women who had had an abortion were 60% more likely to be at risk of miscarriage. An increased risk of miscarriage was also found to be associated with women who are unmarried and change sexual partners. However, the study revealed that vitamin supplementation and eating fresh fruits and vegetables daily reduce the risk.

While the authors view the association of miscarriage and abortion as “noteworthy,” they recommend further research to confirm the finding.

www.lifesite.net, 12/5/06

RELIGION
Documentary explores Biblical Exodus
A fascinating documentary from Academy Award-winning filmmaker James Cameron (The Titanic) examines the Exodus from an archeological standpoint, creating a compelling case for the reality of the events described in the Bible.

The documentary, titled The Exodus Decoded, relies on interviews with historians, archeologists and scientists in an attempt to answer the question, “Could the Exodus of the Jews really have happened?”

Stunning 3D graphics and special effects alone make The Exodus Decoded worth watching. However, it is the seriousness with which Cameron and award-winning filmmaker/journalist Simcha Jacobovici handle the Biblical story that makes the documentary most appealing for Christians.

There are two caveats. The approach to the Exodus taken by the filmmakers is a naturalistic one, and for some viewers that fact alone may be problematic. Also, since the filmmakers are dealing with an event that took place more than 3,500 years ago, some of the puzzle-solving of The Exodus Decoded involves a lot of speculation.

Overall, however, The Exodus Decoded is fascinating and thought-provoking, and should spur believers to hit the library to learn more. The documentary is now available on DVD from Christian bookstores or at www.americanfamilyresourcecenter.net.

Mt. Soledad cross transfer ruled legal
A San Diego, California, referendum transferring ownership of the Mt. Soledad National War Memorial, which features a 43-foot cross, has been ruled constitutional. In the referendum, known as Proposition A, voters directed the city to transfer ownership of the memorial site to the federal government.

San Diegans voted 76% in favor of Proposition A. San Diego atheist Philip Paulson had fought a 17-year legal battle to have the Mt. Soledad cross removed from city property, and Superior Court Judge Patricia Cowett ruled in favor of Paulson’s claim that Proposition A created an illegal transfer.

However, in November the state’s Fourth District Court of Appeals reversed Cowett’s ruling. The fourth district panel not only reversed Cowett’s decision, but also chastised her for basing her ruling against Proposition A partially on the fact that the city of San Diego was represented by a Christian law firm.

Thomas More Law Center attorney Charles LiMandri argued the case for the city. “What we see here in this decision is really a great victory for democracy,” LiMandri said. “Finally, we’re seeing an appellate court give due deference to the voters.”

www.agapepress.org, 12/12/06

Most churches uninvolved in politics
Despite many portrayals in the mainstream media, a spokesman for one national research firm says two recent studies show few Protestant churches in the U.S. are actively involved politically.

In these studies, researchers found that pastors and lay church members generally view their congregations as largely uninvolved in politics.

The two studies were conducted by Ellison Research for Facts & Trends magazine. One surveyed a representative sample of 797 Protestant church ministers nationwide, while the other companion survey questioned 1,184 adults who attend Protestant churches at least once a month.

The studies asked each group about their personal political views, as well as how appropriate it is for churches to be politically involved. Of those surveyed, only 6% of clergy and 11% of lay church members said they feel their own church is “very involved in local politics or political issues.”

Ellison Research President Ron Sellers said that a majority of all churches said “they’re either not very involved or they actually avoid political issues.” He added that, “even though the whole church-state separation and involvement of a few churches and things like that are in the news all the time, relatively few churches are really very actively involved in politics.”

Ellison Research’s report on its study of pastors, churches and political involvement was published last fall in Facts & Trends, a bimonthly magazine produced by the Corporate Communications Office of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

www.agapepress.org, 10/2/06; www.lifeway.com, 10/18/06