White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan told reporters last week that religion played no part in President Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers to the United States Supreme Court.
This statement came three days after America's most influential evangelical leader and lobbyist Dr. James Dobson told the millions of Christians listening to his Sunday radio broadcast that he supports the nomination because he had received confidential information about her qualifications. According to Dobson, he had been personally reassured in a telephone call from White House advisor Karl Rove that Miers is an "evangelical Christian" who "comes from a very conservative church that is almost universally pro-life."
The nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court and her qualifications as an evangelical are but the latest in a series of political events that demonstrate how the separation between church and state in American government is little more than symbolic - especially when a particular religious faith is a requirement for being a part of the American government.
And while some Americans might prefer a more literal interpretation of the 14th Amendment, many don't. In fact, for evangelicals that separation simply does and should not exist.
In Indiana, evangelical lobbying groups such as the Indiana Family Institute, an affiliate of Dobson's national Focus on the Family organization, are leading the charge in reforming the state's sex, family and marriage laws with faith-based legislation.
"Faith demands engagement in the secular order and involvement in the political realm," the IFI Web site explains. "Thus for people of faith, it is theologically incoherent to require them to disconnect their faith from their political lives."
Like their Puritan predecessors, evangelicals believe that government should legislate a moral and social code based on the teachings of the Old and New Testament. "We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Lord has given us a rulebook to live by - the Bible," is how the Traditional Values Coalition, the country's largest evangelical lobbying group, articulates their legislative agenda, and lawmakers at the local, state and federal level are working diligently to oblige.
Here then is a review of the most successful achievements of the evangelical agenda in Indiana from the past year, and a preview of what Hoosiers can expect from its General Assembly when it reconvenes in January.
1. Cunning linguists
If same-sex civil marriage is institutionalized, our society would take yet another step down the road of de-gendering marriage. There would be more use of gender-neutral language like "partners" and - more importantly - more social and cultural pressures to neuter our thinking and our behaviors in marriage. But marriages typically thrive when spouses specialize in gender-typical ways and are attentive to the gendered needs and aspirations of their husband or wife. For instance, women are happier when their husband earns the lion's share of the household income. Likewise, couples are less likely to divorce when the wife concentrates on childrearing and the husband concentrates on breadwinning. - Family Research Council
In 1959, the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defined family as "the most instinctive, fundamental social or mating group in humans and animals, typically the union of a man and woman in marriage and their children," an adequate and accurate definition by most standards.
But evangelical lawmakers in states like Indiana are dedicating themselves to changing the definition of family to exclusively, rather than typically, the union of a man and woman in marriage, with marriage being a legal requirement for parenting whenever possible.
For this politically powerful segment of the American population, the No. 1 item of legislative importance is codifying a Christian definition of "family" through constitutional amendments and state law. Once accomplished, only the evangelical family or those adopting the evangelical family model will be granted full legal rights of marriage and parenting, while all other families will be considered inadequate, unequal and, whenever possible, illegal.
2. Let's talk about sex
"The epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases running rampant in our culture is evidence of the failure of the sex education movement. Based upon Biblical principles, we believe teenagers and young adults should be taught to abstain from sexual contact until after they are married." - Traditional Values Coalition
While sex is not a requirement for marriage or family, it is quite often a catalyst, and what we teach our children about sex and sexual responsibility will frequently determine when they begin a family of their own.
A recent survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government found only 7 percent of parents did not want sex education taught in public schools. Of the overwhelming majority who do want sex-ed, 86 percent want their children to know how to use contraception.
Currently, 35 states, including Indiana, have laws requiring abstinence-only education as the sole or primary content of sex education in public schools. Under this requirement, schools are required to teach abstinence until marriage, and if birth control is discussed it can only be done in terms of failure rates.
Many schools now hire private groups to teach the sexual education portion of health class at the middle and high school level, using taxpayer funds to pay for the classes. One of the most popular of these programs is called "CPR: Creating Positive Relationships," and it is taught in Perry Township, Zionsville, Avon and dozens of other schools across the state.
Founded by Carmel wife and mother Gayle Bucher in 1987, Creating Positive Relationships was first presented to middle school students in 1990 and high school students in 1996. In all, CPR boasts that its abstinence-only program reaches over 60,000 students a year. Like other abstinence-only programs, CPR maintains, "Parents who proactively discuss birth control methods with their children give the message that they do not believe their children can be sexually abstinent. By initiating a discussion on birth control, well-meaning parents may be inviting their children to experiment with premarital sex."
But statistics don't seem to support abstinence-only education as the best education and protection for teen-agers. In 2003, the federal Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that while Indiana teens are only being taught abstinence, they are more likely than the average American to have sex before graduating from high school (49 percent), more likely to be currently sexually active (38 percent) and less likely to use birth control when having sex (53 percent).
3. Just say no (to birth control)
The Bible clearly condemns all sexual behaviors outside of marriage. Violating God's principles on chastity has dire consequences. - Traditional Values Coalition
Hormonal contraceptives, or "the pill" as it is most commonly known, was approved as a family planning method by the FDA in 1960 and is currently taken by an estimated 21 million women in the United States. In addition to regulating ovulation, hormones are also prescribed to control the physical pain associated with menstruation, as well as frequently used as an acne treatment. But because it is a form of birth control, some pharmacists are now refusing to fill these prescriptions because of their moral and religious objections.
Unlike earlier Refusal Clauses which were limited to direct service providers and focused mostly on abortion services, more recent ones allow indirect providers such as HMOs, health insurance plans, pharmacists and entire health care systems the right to deny patients care on the basis of moral or religious beliefs. Additionally, the exemptions have broadened to include all types of reproductive health care services, including contraception, in vitro fertilization, sterilization and emergency contraception.
Pharmacists for Life International, an evangelical anti-abortion organization of more than 1,600 pharmacists and their supporters, is one of the major advocates for the broadening of Refusal Clauses. The group maintains that a "conscience clause" gives a pharmacist the right "to refuse to cooperate knowingly with the evils of contraception and abortion in violation of their sincerely held religious, moral or ethical beliefs."
While Indiana already has Refusal Clause legislation that allows any employee to refuse to perform abortions as part of their employment, Indiana Sens. Jeff Drozda and Marvin Riegsecker would like to expand refusal rights.
The legislation they have proposed (Senate Bill 0048) stipulates that a person may not be required, as a condition of training, employment, pay, promotion or privileges, to dispense: (1) a medical device or drug that may result in an abortion; or (2) artificial birth control.
4. Gayed and neutered
Radical feminists, abortion zealots, liberal politicians and haters of the Judeo-Christian ethic have in their own ways ushered in a new era devoid of religion, gender distinctions and traditional family relationships. In addition, the hostile media, the entertainment industry, the ACLU, People for the American Way, the National Education Association and especially liberal judges are busily opposing moral principles at every turn. Together, they have brought the institution of marriage to its knees. I have been most concerned about the anti-family agenda being pushed forward by radical homosexual activists. - Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family, Public Policy Statement 2001
Senate Joint Resolution No. 7 amends the Indiana Constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman and to prohibit state law from being construed to require legal rights of marriage be conferred to unmarried couples.
In his introduction of the bill, Sen. Brandt Hershman described the amendment as "a continuing effort to preserve and protect the institution of marriage. This is the way it's always been in Indiana, in America, in the world, in the history of civilization."
Supporters for the amendment who lobbied the state Legislature this past session included Kurt Smith, president, Indiana Family Institute, and Eric Miller, founder, Advance America.
Miller warned the legislators during hearings that anything short of a constitutional ban on gay marriage put children at great risk. "I know for a fact they're creating teacher guides to introduce the idea of homosexuality to kindergarten children in Massachusetts," he testified.
Wife and mother Michelle Montgomery had additional concerns for children. Reminding legislators that laws can have unintended consequences, she pointed out the extermination of a generation of children as a result of abortion laws. The unintended consequence of gay marriage, Montgomery fears, is "the extinction of the human race because these people don't reproduce."
In order for the Indiana Constitution to be amended, the legislation that passed this year must be repeated in two years by a separately elected legislative body. If it passes, the measure would then go to Indiana voters on the November 2008 ballot.
5. Marriage: It does a public good
"Clearly, married men and women provide better things for society than their unmarried peers. Husbands and wives are not as likely to be a burden to the health care system or be a drain on a company's health insurance benefits because of their better health and increased ability to recover from illness quicker and more successfully. They are less likely to miss work because of illness. They are not likely to jump from job to job. They are less likely to suffer from alcoholism and other substance abuse and less likely to engage in other risk behaviors." - Focus on the Family
SJR 7, the Marriage Amendment, does more than define marriage as exclusively a union between one man and one woman; it also denies the legal rights of marriage to unmarried persons.
Benefits that would be prohibited for unmarried couples include the ability to give medical or health care directives for incapacitated or comatose partners, inheritance or estate tax exemption when a partner dies and leaves assets to a spouse, legal right to take time off under the Federal Family Leave Act and parenting-adoption rights in the case of a birth parent's death.
No matter how long the couple has been together, a surviving unmarried partner has no claim to Social Security benefits or pension benefits. Additionally, if a married person with an individual retirement account (IRA) dies, that account can be transferred to the surviving spouse who does not pay tax. Unmarried couples do not have that benefit.
Perhaps the most serious ramifications of the amendment will be seen in the prosecution of domestic violence crimes, because the amendment could also remove legal protection for anyone outside of a heterosexual marriage.
In Ohio, where a same-sex amendment was enacted on Dec. 2 of last year, a motion has already been introduced by a public defender to dismiss domestic violence charges against defendants who are not legally married to their accusers. According to the Cuyahoga County public defender, the distinction has been made that domestic violence is for "wife-beaters, not girlfriend-beaters." The attorney general of Michigan is pursuing similar policies.
Women are, however, a primary concern for proponents of the Marriage Amendment, particularly because of the bad influence gay marriage has on straight men and their biological predisposition to becoming deadbeat dads.
According to the Family Research Council, "Same-sex civil marriage would institutionalize the idea that children do not need both their mother and their father. This would be particularly important for men, who are more likely to abandon their children. Homosexual civil marriage would make it even easier than it already is for men to rationalize their abandonment of their children. After all, they could tell themselves, our society, which affirms lesbian couples raising children, believes that children do not need a father. So, they might tell themselves, I do not need to marry or stay married to the mother of my children."
6. Civil right, scmivil rights
"We oppose the normalization of sodomy and other deviant sexual behaviors in our culture. Individuals may be free to pursue behaviors such as sodomy, but we will not and cannot tolerate these behaviors. They frequently lead to death ... Contrary to what homosexual activist groups or homosexual-affirming psychological associations may suggest, no one is born a homosexual or transsexual. These behaviors are mental conditions that can be treated through religious-based psychological therapies." - Traditional Values Coalition
On April 26, 2005, Gov. Mitch Daniels issued his administration's EEO Policy Statement barring state civilian employment discrimination. The statement reads, in part, "sexual orientation and gender identity shall not be a consideration in decisions concerning hiring, development, advancement and termination of civilian employees."
Eric Miller and Advance America are leading the attack on the state policy with inflammatory and exaggerated claims that Daniels' actions provide "recognition and special rights for the homosexual lifestyle" and "paves way for quotas for homosexuals, transvestites" and encourages "activist courts to justify the recognition of same-sex marriage."
It's a position that the Indiana Family Institute shares. "Throughout its 16-year history, [we] have sought to bring Biblical values and Biblical ethics to the public policy making process in Indiana. To this end, we have opposed all efforts to create or advance special civil or legal rights for homosexuals."
Concerned Women for America, a conservative Republican organization whose self-proclaimed mission is "to protect and promote Biblical values among all citizens," has asked its members to contact Daniels and express their "outrage" over his decision to "to shame religious traditionalists, distort religious doctrine, redefine marriage, and to promote homosexuality as healthy and moral." CWA also warned its members, "Indiana may soon begin hiring men in dresses in order to satisfy the governor's affirmative action plan."
At the local level, the Indianapolis City-County voted 18-11 to reject amendments to the city's Human Relations Equal Opportunity Code last spring. The changes, known as Proposal 68, were drafted and recommended by the Equal Opportunity Advisory Board primarily to update and expand Indianapolis' anti-discrimination policies. It would have been the first update in nearly 25 years.
The proposed version of the Human Relations Equal Opportunity Code stated that "the practice of denying equal opportunities in employment, education, access to and use of public accommodations, and acquisition of real estate based on race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disabled veteran or Vietnam era veteran status is contrary to the principles of freedom and equality of opportunity and is a burden to the objectives of the policies contained herein and shall be considered discriminatory practices."
Councilwoman Ginny Cain believes homosexuality is immoral and, as a result, voted against the proposal and in favor of discrimination. "I will never support something that is meant for the destruction of human beings and civilization," she promised.
7. Unauthorized reproduction and recruitment
"Families, thus children, need both a mother and a father to complete the picture. When that is not possible the family must adjust, but why choose to purposefully provide this sort of inadequate home for children and call it equal to the ideal?" - Indiana Family Institute
Indiana Sen. Patricia Miller has temporarily pulled her controversial Unauthorized Reproduction legislation from consideration following an overwhelming public response against the bill.
On Wednesday, Oct. 5, Miller released a one-sentence statement regarding her decision: "The issue has become more complex than anticipated and will be withdrawn from consideration by the Health Finance Commission."
According to a draft of Miller's bill, every woman in Indiana seeking to become a mother through assisted reproduction therapy such as in vitro fertilization, sperm donation and egg donation would have been required to first file for a "petition for parentage" in their local county probate court.
Only married women would be considered for the "gestational certificate" that must be presented to any doctor who facilitates the pregnancy. Further, the gestational certificate would only be given to married couples that successfully complete the same screening process currently required by law of adoptive parents. This process included a review of the intended parents' "religion and faith-based activities."
Miller believes the requirement of marriage for parenting is for the benefit of the children that result from infertility treatments. "We did want to address the issue of whether or not the law should allow single people to be parents. Studies have shown that a child raised by both parents - a mother and a father - do better. So, we do want to have laws that protect the children," she explained.
When asked specifically if she believes marriage should be a requirement for motherhood, and if that is part of the bill's intention, Miller responded, "Yes. Yes, I do."
Within 48 hours of the news breaking locally and nationally about the content of the legislation, Miller issued her retraction. According to staff members who work for members of the Indiana General Assembly, legislators were overwhelmed by thousands of angry phone calls and e-mails.
Miller is expected to reintroduce the Unauthorized Reproduction legislation in a different form next spring. Legislation is also expected to be brought to a vote this year prohibiting unmarried couples, gay and straight, from becoming foster parents or adoptive parents.
In 2004, Sen. Jeff Drozda introduced Senate Bill 580, requiring that only a married couple that consists of individuals of the opposite sex is eligible to adopt, while Sen. John Waterman presented Senate Bill 585 specifically prohibiting a homosexual from being a foster parent or adopting.
The issue of gay parents is of particular concern for Waterman. Last summer, as one of the sponsors of the Marriage Amendment and a member of the committee assigned to the bill, he sent a newsletter at taxpayer expense to his constituents defending the resolution as much-needed protection against the "implementation of a larger homosexual agenda."
According to Waterman, the "ultimate goal" of this homosexual agenda "involves the enlistment of our children." "Because they can't reproduce," Waterman warns, "homosexuals have to recruit! We must continue to fight back in order to preserve our children's innocence!"
Should any of these laws requiring heterosexual marriage as a condition for parenting pass, they will be upheld by the proposed Marriage Amendment to the Indiana Constitution that prohibits the legal rights of marriage, including parenting, from being granted to unmarried persons.
8. No more no-fault
"If no-fault divorce is at least part of the problem, then why don't we abolish it? Feminists, other liberal groups and some wobbly conservatives make the political climate unkind to this sort of out-and-out destruction of no-fault divorce. However, there is hope for divorce law reform." - Indiana Family Institute
In an ironic twist, the same evangelical lobbyists and lawmakers who believe marriage is a time-honored heterosexual tradition that should not be tampered with are proposing two "types" of legal marriage.
In addition to "marriage-lite" (which allows a couple to acquire a divorce for "no reason"), Indiana Sen. Dennis Kruse has introduced legislation on behalf of Focus on the Family and the Indiana Family Institute to create what evangelicals call "Covenant Marriage."
According to Ryan McKann of the Indiana Family Institute, "Covenant Marriage is one large step towards reclaiming the respect that the marriage contract has lost due to no-fault divorce."
"One of the great things about Covenant Marriage is that it takes 'irreconcilable differences' out of the picture," according to the Family Research Council. "Covenant Marriage would not be a contract so easily entered into or broken. Marriage counseling would have to precede the Covenant Marriage and only a few actions on the part of the couple could break the contract, such as adultery. For too long government has allowed a marriage license to represent a meaningless promise and an unenforceable contract. We could change that by passing Covenant Marriage legislation into law."
In essence, the establishment of a Covenant Marriage allows Indiana to join the states of Arkansas, Louisiana and Arizona in giving heterosexual couples a choice between a secular or religious marriage contract, though both options would remain illegal for same-sex couples.
9. Do you worship Satan?
"We believe in 'discrimination' in the good sense: choosing between good and evil, right and wrong, the better and the best. We believe in intolerance to those things that are evil: and we believe that we should discriminate against those behaviors that are dangerous to individuals and to society." - Traditional Values Council
During a final divorce hearing in February 2004, Marion County Superior Court Commissioner Mary Ann Oldham asked Indianapolis residents Tom Jones and Tammy Burch if they worshipped Satan.
It's not a standard question posed to divorcing couples, but one the commissioner felt was necessary since Jones and Burch had openly disclosed the fact that they practiced the Wiccan religion as part of the routine interview process with the Domestic Relations Counseling Bureau, which provides recommendations to the court on child custody cases.
When the final divorce decree was issued, Oldham granted Jones custody of his son with the caveat that he shelter the child "from non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals." Wicca was not mentioned by name, nor was a definition of "non-mainstream" provided.
Upon appeal, Marion County Superior Court Civil Judge Cale Bradford upheld the decree and agreed with Oldham that both parents were to "take such steps as are needed to shelter [the child] from the involvement and observation of these non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals." While no specific consequences for sharing their religion with their son was given, a violation could result in Jones losing custody of his son.
Jones and Burch took their case to the Indiana Court of Appeals, arguing that Judge Bradford's ruling was neither legal nor constitutional. On Aug. 18, the court issued a brief 3-0 decision in favor of the parents. Though the Court of Appeals declined to discuss the constitutionality of the ruling, they did rule that Judge Bradford's prohibition of "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals" violated state statute and was, therefore, illegal.
Perhaps the greatest success of the evangelical agenda in Indiana is the lack of courage Democrats have shown in stopping it.
At the state level, most are afraid to speak out against the change in the Indiana Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman and withholding legal rights from unmarried couples. In the words of one high-ranking Democratic senator, "I don't like it, but if I vote against the amendment my opponent will use it against me in the next election. They'll say I'm gay, or I support gay rights, and that will be all the campaign is about. I can't risk that."
When Sen. Miller introduced her Unauthorized Reproduction legislation, Democrats put up no public resistance. Several Democrats didn't bother attending the meetings and were unaware of the legislation when asked about it by reporters. Still others sat silent in the meetings while the importance of marriage as a legal requirement for parenting was discussed.
And at the local level, many Democrats on the Indianapolis City Council voted against the anti-discrimination policy. "I don't think that I should be forced to compromise my integrity and my beliefs as to what God put here for us to obey and to accept," said Patrice Abduallah, one of five Democrats who voted against the measure.
Council President Steve Talley, who also voted against the anti-discrimination policy, said he didn't really believe discrimination against homosexuals exists, and therefore he doesn't believe the measure is necessary.