Category Archives: Media

Center for Arizona Policy: A Good and Balanced Law

By Cathi Herrod, President, Center for Arizona Policy

Many of you likely watched the scene unfold in Indiana last month where supporters of religious freedom sought to pass a fairly simple law called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

The scene was eerily similar to what played out here in Arizona with the CAP-supported SB 1062. Ignoring the facts, opponents of religious freedom falsely claimed that the bill would allow individuals to have a license to do pretty much anything, all in the name of their free exercise of religion. Or in other words, they wrongly tried to say religious freedom would become the equivalent of Monopoly’s “Get Out of Jail Free Card.”

Yet what was lost in the debate, both here in Arizona and in Indiana is the reality of how these laws actually operate in a court-setting and in real life. They don’t provide a license to do whatever illegal activity somebody wants to do. Rather, they provide the court with a well-established and longstanding legal balancing test for analyzing competing interests.

To provide some background, Arizona has had a state-version of RFRA since 1999, and a nearly identical federal law has been in place since 1993. More than 20 states also have state RFRAs.

In a nutshell, RFRA ensures the government cannot force someone to violate their religious convictions unless the government meets a strict legal test. For the strict legal test, the government must show it has a really good reason for the law and that the law is narrowly tailored to achieve that objective. If the government does that, then the RFRA defense fails and the government law or action stands.

Although Indiana’s original version of RFRA was heavily amended after big business bullied the governor and legislature, the remaining law is still set to take effect on July 1, 2015.

This brings us to a recent story out of Indiana and a perfect example of how RFRA works. Calling his newly formed church the First Church of Cannabis, founder Bill Levin plans to break the law and openly smoke marijuana. If he is cited or arrested, he says he will claim Indiana’s RFRA for protection.

Unfortunately for Mr. Levin, this same ploy was attempted in Arizona already, and Arizona’s RFRA operated just like it’s supposed to.

In 2005, Danny Hardesty was arrested for possession of marijuana, and in court he claimed that the use of marijuana was a sacrament of his church, the Church of Cognizance. This case reached the Arizona Supreme Court in 2009, and in a unanimous ruling the Court ruled against Hardesty.

Even assuming Hardesty had a truly sincere religious belief to smoke marijuana, the Court found that the government has a good reason to prohibit marijuana use (the fact that it poses a real threat to individual health and social welfare, in addition to the public safety concern posed by unlimited use, particularly by those driving motor vehicles), and that “no less restrictive alternative [ ] would serve the State’s compelling public safety interests and still excuse the conduct for which Hardesty was tried and convicted.”

So there you go, RFRA is not a “Get Out of Jail Free Card,” and it does not provide a license to do whatever illegal activity someone wants. Rather, it is a time-tested and just law that allows for courts to acknowledge when the government overreaches and burdens someone’s free exercise of religion, and to balance that against the reasons for the government action.

Please watch for the launch of the 3rd edition of The Policy Pages later this fall, which will include a brief devoted solely to explaining how laws like the Religious Freedom Restoration Act work.

The True Facts About Religious Freedom Laws

By Sarah Torre, Heritage Foundation

The mainstream media has launched an all-out blitz over a new law that protects the fundamental freedom of Indiana citizens from unnecessary and unreasonable government coercion.

The media’s gross mischaracterizations of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act ignore the truth: Religious Freedom Restoration Acts prevent government discrimination against religious free exercise and simply provide a way to balance religious liberty with compelling government interests.

Religious liberty isn’t an absolute right. Religious liberty doesn’t always trump. Religious liberty is balanced with concerns for a compelling state interest that’s being pursued in the least-restrictive means possible.

The First Amendment Partnership, an organization whose mission is “to promote and protect religious freedom for people of all faiths,” created the below infographic separating myth from fact on Religious Freedom Restoration Acts:

As Ryan T. Anderson and I explained Thursday, the Indiana law is good policy. Like the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Indiana’s new law prohibits substantial government burdens on religious exercise unless the government can show a compelling interest in burdening religious liberty and does so through the least restrictive means.

These protections for religious freedom provide a commonsense way to balance the fundamental right to religious liberty with compelling government interests.

By passing its Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Indiana joins the 19 other states that have implemented such laws. Eleven additional states have religious liberty protections that state courts have interpreted to provide a similar level of protection. These commonsense laws place the onus on the government to justify its actions in burdening the free exercise of religion.

See the Movie ‘America’!

Bill Whittle: The Hammer of Reality

Obama Doing what Obama does Best: L-I-E

FLASHBACK! Hey, Arizona Republic: We’re ‘Mainstream’; You’re Not!

With the 10th anniversary of The Arizona Conservative — the first and oldest conservative publication in the Grand Canyon State — approaching November 1st, we’re re-running some of our most popular posts. Here’s another one you’ll enjoy!

October 11, 2009

Mainstream people across Arizona have had enough of the Left-Wing GroupThink Media. This Saturday, Oct. 17, they’re doing a Tea Party at the Arizona Republic and ABC Channel 15 in Phoenix to demonstrate against biased, agenda-driven media that does not resonate with mainstream citizens.

You can get the details here: Operation: Can You Hear US Now? – Media Protest [link no longer works]

We don’t have to wait until Saturday morning to start the dialogue with these out of touch media people. We can start the drumbeat right now with on-point messaging, like the following:

Hey, Republic!
We’re “mainstream”;
You’re Not


The Republic:
Inaccurate Reporting
on Border

Republic/Channel 15
Left-Wing GroupThink
Media in Persistent
Vegetative State
on Abortion Reporting

Left-Wing Media:
Try Reporting

Pink Slip for Left-
Wing Media:
You’re Fired!

Dear Lefty
You’re Missing
the Real Stories

Cancel Your

A Little Less
Fluff, A Little
More Reporting

Admit it,Lefties:
Obama’s Your

Katie Raml:
Biased, Pro-

Lefty Media:
You’re Ignoring
of America

Arizonans/Americans are clever and resourceful, and The Arizona Conservative looks forward with great anticipation to the clever signs at Saturday’s demonstrations.

Don’t expect any real or accurate reporting on these events from the tired, entrenched leftist media establishment. That will come from the new media, the blogs and websites of everyday, mainstream Arizonans.

Freedom vs. Progressivism

Constitution Limits the government in order to protect the citizen; the   Constitution and the Bill of Rights are what they are and don’t allow for imagined intentions A living, breathing document whose meaning changes   arbitrarily; creative interpretations by activist judges, at the urging of  special interest groups, fabricating new “rights” that infringe on the Bill of Rights; revisionist casting of the Bill of Rights seeks to create utopia;   rights are to be rationed by the government
Family The basic unit of society: married mother and father caring for their children contributes to healthy society Based on adult happiness, regardless of gender; government content to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on family breakdown
Marriage One man and one woman committed to the best interests of the family Any coupling or grouping and based on adult happiness
Theology Jesus died for the sins of all mankind for all time; all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; the government is not a   theocracy, but religion is the moral conscience of the nation Secular humanism is the religion of government, public schools, and mass media; government is “god”; man is the master of his fate, the captain of his ship (Invictus)
Morality Transcendent moral order; God’s Word in the Bible; obedience to something higher than one’s self Relative: determined by the individual; situational ethics
Government The Constitution protects the citizen from the government;   localized control preferred; powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states by the 10th Amendment to the Constitution Centralized federal control over state and local levels;  seemingly every human activity imaginable   requires government regulation administered by an ever growing army of regulators; there are almost 1,000 federal agencies and divisions enforcing laws; the executive and judicial branches of government are free to usurp the   legislative branch to set and enforce policy
Basis of freedom The Bill of Rights; God-given natural law; inalienable rights Open to government interpretation; Non-discrimination   laws, “hate” crime laws
The Courts One of three equal branches of government; decisions based on originalism; bound by the Constitution, which protects citizens from the government Superior to the executive and legislative branches; decisions open to interpretations favored by leftists; to be used for gains that special interests are not able to achieve legislatively; the judiciary   makes unilateral “amendments” to the Constitution; protects government interests at the expense of citizens
Supreme Court   justices Limited by the Constitution Unlimited by the Constitution; open to citation of international law and the fabrication of new “rights” under the guise of   constitutionality
The Church Protected from the government by the First Amendment Naturalism; science; government needs protection from the church based on the ACLU’s false claim of a “separation of church and state” not based on history, the Constitution, or original intent
Public education The student is to be served by the best educational choice possible; local control Public schools, run by teachers’ unions, are prioritized over the education of students; federal government control
Taxation Low tax rates stimulate business investment, hiring and job creation; tax rates should be fair across the board; the federal   government should raise only the revenue needed to fund the activities authorized by the Constitution High tax rates allow government to expand social welfare programs; whomever earns the most should be taxed more; the tax rate on the  wealthy could extend all the way to 100 percent; Karl Marx urged “a heavy progressive or graduated income tax”
Economy Capitalism; economic equality is unachievable because people invest differing levels of education, motivation and risk Socialism, which is the path to communism, and centralized   control by the federal government; government intervention; the   redistribution of wealth is staged by coercion
Market Free enterprise and minimal government regulation; the   free market is the most transformative economic system; the free market  creates the most wealth and opportunities for people Massing of centralized control and power over the market; high tax rates removing money from the private sector; statists oppose the free market and seek to control it; demonization of wealth creators by government and unions
Political   competition Compete against opponents; freedom to disagree Destroy the enemy; punish anyone who opposes us (fascism)
Crime Man is fallen and susceptible to evil and must be punished with stiff sentences for law-breaking Man is a victim and subject to forces beyond his/her control; light sentencing
Government Constitutionally ordered, divided into three branches to provide a system of checks and balances Domineering and with few restraints; to be used for   personal and special interests’ gains; the courts are to be used to gain what cannot be achieved through the legislative process
Property Private ownership of personal property; what belongs to one man is the object of his care and economy Maximum government ownership; taxation and laws intrude upon private ownership; what belongs to no one in particular is wasted by   everyone
Achievement Self determination; hard work and achievement are rewarded It’s unfair if some have more possessions than others;   everyone should have the same amount of things, with government acting as regulator; those with what government deems excessive must be punished
Life Man is made in the image of God; humans should be protected from conception to natural death; human embryos should not be used as a commodity or sacrificed for experimentation Man is just another animal and nothing special; human life   is expendable; only “wanted” children should be born; depressed citizens should be allowed to find another person to kill them; the elderly and the disabled are using up too many medical resources and should not be allowed to   continue living; people and government have the right to determine who lives and who dies
Autonomy Citizens should be left alone to tend to their own affairs; private enterprise; private decisions in work, life, education, worship; government’s intrusion into personal lives must be extremely limited Increasing government control of and regulation over citizens’ personal lives
Second Amendment Citizens have the constitutional right to bear arms and to self protect; a gun is vital to a citizen’s self defense and is no better or   worse than the person holding it Only the government should have the right to own a gun; citizens have no right to protect themselves
Law Uphold the rule of law Selective use of the rule of law and liberal preference for applications of “law”

Do Republican Leaders Believe Their Own Philosophy?

Commentator Bill Whittle delivers the best perspective yet on timid, tepid Republicans afraid to champion the party’s philosophy.

Cultural Rot: (Don’t) See Springer, Jerry … and ‘Baggage’

We started skipping merrily down the hill in the 1960s with The Dating Game. Witty one-liners and mini-skirts indicated there was more at play here than marriage and the baby carriage. Clever come-on lines led to the hopes of one-night stands and short-term exhilaration. So it was not surprising that the late basketball great Wilt Chamberlain – who claimed to have had sexual relations with 20,000 women – was one of the guest datees.

In the Seventies and Eighties came jiggle TV, along with Love American Style, the Love Boat (“exciting and new”), and Hotel. Adult happiness and sexual adventure were the themes. These programs were not always about being the right person and finding the right person to settle down with for nesting and family life.

Next came a temporary turn in the opposite direction with Chuck Woolery and Love Connection in the late Eighties. Chuck kept it clean and relationship oriented. The message was about finding the love of your life and making a long-term commitment.

Fast forwarding to today, we arrive at a new cultural low with Jerry Springer hosting “Baggage.” This is one small plunge for Springer and his guests, a giant cultural leap over the ledge headlong into the moral abyss for mankind. This is what cultural rot looks like in the 21st century.

The object of this seedy game is not to pick the best potential date, but to eliminate the two worst. Ladies and gentlemen of the cultural jury, I give you:

  • A woman whose baggage, among others, includes a passion for sex in public. Who knows how many partners … and diseases … she’s had? And so much for private, intimate moments at home.
  • A woman who shares her toilet with a cat. TMI! Springer said he prefers to share a litter box with his cat.
  • A man who is a member of an orgy club in Portland, and who “hates marriage and children.” In a time of greater modesty, this kind of thing would be kept secret. Now it’s a “bragging point” for the whole nation to know. And not a real good thing to normalize for children.
  • A woman who describes herself as a “seasonal bisexual.” Spring, fall, winter, or summer? Or all of the above?
  • A man who got fired for having sex on the boss’s desk. Yikes!

Get this. Springer told the left-winging Huffington Post that “Baggage” is a “family-friendly show.” Who knew! “Ward, would you please call Wally and Beaver down? Baggage is on the tube!”

So how much further can we as a culture sink? We’re not at the bottom yet, but we’re in a freefall and well on our way down.

An Interview with The Arizona Conservative

Isn’t the Conservative movement all about legislating morality?

In a word – no. All legislation, all lawmaking is someone’s morality. Those who say we’re imposing our morality on them are trying to impose their morality on us.

The Conservative movement is about advocating commonsense principles which have stood the test of time and which offer society the greatest opportunities of health and well-being.

Americans have the freedom to do a lot of things which were once considered harmful to the person, to others – and immoral. Rather than ask themselves “Can I do xyz,” people should ask themselves “Should I do xyz,” and “what are the consequences?” They don’t need government to decide that or ask for them. If everyone did this more often, we’d have  fewer social problems, less crime, fewer divorces, less gambling addiction, less drug and alcohol addiction, less crime, and fewer socially transmitted diseases. And the bottom line is that we would then see healthier families, neighborhoods and communities, and far less government spending on trying to pick up the broken pieces. It’s a matter of personal accountability.

Aren’t we as a nation progressing by doing away with so-called “archaic” morality laws?

We are not progressing as a nation, period. American society is in a tailspin. We are going in reverse; progressives just aren’t willing to admit it. It is not possible to progress given the current direction and worldview of those shaping the culture.

C.S. Lewis wrote: “In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function.”

We have removed the Judeo-Christian morality as the source of morality and decision making at the highest levels of state and federal government. But we act shocked when someone commits a horrible crime.  We’ve said “no more of that old morality, we’ll take it from here.” But they’re taking it all in the wrong direction.

Sign of violence seen at a Mesa movie theater

Sign of violence seen at a Mesa movie theater

So we’re teaching children – through government and the influence of the mass media culture – that it’s not only okay, but preferential, to kill the defenseless and treat people with incivility. Look at the titles of movies and TV shows: Everybody Hates Chris, Kill Bill, The Weakest Link. And we’re surprised children are killing children? You can’t expect a high level of civility when the foremost messages presented to the public are negative and destructive.

And then there are the special interest pressure groups raising huge sums of money to buy politicians and demand judges fabricate special privileges radically altering society. Anyone who opposes them, no matter how civil the opposition, is demonized and called “hater.” Many of them are threatened. The radicals are demanding opponents lose their jobs just for having a different viewpoint. This is disturbing. And it’s not the recipe for a civil society.

The real story of “progressivism” can best be described as man’s inhumanity to man.

Should Conservatives support influential Republicans who are supporting amnesty and same-sex “marriage”? They don’t have anywhere else to go, do they?

No, no and yes they do.

We as a nation should never abandon the rule of law. If we do, we get chaos – everyone just doing their own thing. It will be a nation in great conflict. Every self-respecting, orderly nation must control its borders. Mexico certainly does, though it criticizes those in the U.S. who demand we control ours.

It is not fair to legal immigrants for people to walk across the border illegally, going around the U.S. points of entry, and then demanding legal recognition and taxpayer benefits. Most people who immigrated here oppose illegal entry. Democrats only want to use these people’s votes: let them in, legal recognition and control over them and then demand their votes at election time.

Only about 2 percent of the population struggles with same-sex attraction, less than that in Arizona. Why should a tiny segment of the population be allowed to re-define marriage and subject more children to fatherlessness or motherlessness? The kids are not all right with this. In states where same-sex “marriage” is legal, very, very few homosexuals get married. For the most radical of the homosexual activists, it’s not really about marriage. It’s about destroying the traditional notion of family and marriage. We re-define marriage only at our own peril and a monumental loss of freedom. We opt for adult happiness over the well-being of children at our own peril and reap the social whirlwind. Homosexuality is not genetic, and same-sex “marriage” is not a civil right. That’s offensive to the people who truly suffered the indignation of slavery and denial of civil and human rights.

Republican leaders who want to join others by walking over the social cliff and into the moral abyss are absolutely undiscerning of what the end results will be. Conservatives must never acquiesce, must never join them or approve of this. There are more than enough conservative Republicans, independents and members of the Constitution Party to uphold principles and policies that will point this nation in the right direction.

Senator Harry Reid, other Democrats and many media and educational elites claim Conservatives are polarizing the nation. Is this accurate, and did conservatives create the culture war?

This is pure propaganda intended to direct attention away from those pushing for the most radical departure from U.S. history and tradition. The biblical explanation for this is calling evil good and good evil.

For most of America’s history, Judeo-Christian morality was the dominant worldview. But when those disagreeing with that worldview – John Dewey, Roger Baldwin, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and others – moved the nation in a different direction, Christians and Conservatives were slow to defend the nation’s traditional ideals. By the time Dr. James Dobson, President Ronald Reagan and many others began to respond, the moral center had collapsed. Christians had been lulled to sleep by how things had always been; they were the frogs in the pot who were boiled before they what hit them.

Now the Conservative movement is organized and defending the worldview that enabled America’s greatness and freedom. But the recent decades of indoctrination by educators and the mass media culture, along with the government’s shift to the secular humanist religion and animosity toward Judeo-Christian morality have taken a terrible toll on the country. It will be a long, hard climb to get out of this mess. It will not happen through politics. It will take a cultural shift. Everything else flows through the culture, and our culture is weak, decadent and in turmoil. We cannot allow leftists to steal our children’s hearts and minds and turn them against us. Every year millions of our kids are graduating from indoctrination in school and college and moving us further away as a nation from where we need to be. Our focus needs to be on salvaging our youth and saving this nation from the policies and worldviews that are poisoning our culture. We must change the direction our young people are being led into following. It’s that simple. If we do not accomplish this, our culture will only continue to deteriorate.