In Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Supreme Court (thankfully) ruled in favor of Jack Phillips, the baker who declined to be forced to bake and decorate a custom cake to celebrate a same-sex wedding. The ruling was based almost completely on the documented religious hostility of the members of the Civil Rights Commission, and thus there is concern that in the future the Court would allow government to force bakers and other service providers to support same-sex weddings over their religious objections as long as the bureaucrats pretended to be neutral to the baker’s religious views.

There are a few fig leaves in the decision that an optimist could take as good news, such as Justice Kennedy saying “the religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression,” and that “government has no role in deciding or even suggesting whether the religious ground for Phillips’ conscience based objection is legitimate or illegitimate.” And at least he conceded that “a member of the clergy who objects to gay marriage on moral and religious grounds could not be compelled to perform the ceremony without denial of his or her right to the free exercise of religion.”

The path to the case, if not necessarily the decision, in Masterpiece Cakeshop, is an easy one to follow.  It started back in 2003 with Lawrence v. Texas, which found a constitutional right to Liberty as exemplified by homosexual sodomy in that particular case (although Justice Kennedy, in his majority opinion explicitly refused to declare that homosexual sodomy itself is a constitutional right). Justice Scalia correctly predicted the path in his dissenting opinion, noting that the decision “leaves on pretty shaky grounds state laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.”

The next step in the chain was United States v. Windsor in 2012, which ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. Justice Scalia and Chief Justice Roberts both pointed out that this Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion would inevitably lead to the Court declaring same-sex “marriage” to be a constitutional right, which of course it did in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 (also authored by Kennedy). This is where Justice Thomas presciently predicted that the decision “threatens the religious liberty our Nation has long sought to protect.” And here we are.

A lot of the analysis of Masterpiece Cakeshop centered around whether baking a custom wedding cake counted as “speech” for the purposes of the Free Speech clause of the first amendment. And was Phillips really discriminating against the gay couple when he offered to sell them anything else in the store, or to create a cake for any other occasion? The answer is obviously “no” and therein, I think, lies the solution to this conundrum.

As I have said before, no one has a right to force someone else to provide a good or service. If Phillips had refused to sell a pre-baked cake to the gay couple, that would have been discriminatory since he had already invested his time and talent to create the cake and it was already available for purchase by the general public. This would be the same as if a gay couple tried to by a photo print from a studio where the photographer was displaying his images for sale. But in either case, the gay couple does not have the right to force the baker or photographer to participate in a gay wedding if the vendor’s religious beliefs prevent him from doing so. So the government could not force the photographer to attend the ceremony, document the event and then produce the images, all of which require him to devote his time and talent to an event that violates his religious views.

This rule would also apply to the Arlene’s Flowers v. State of Washington case currently being petitioned to the Supreme Court.

If Mrs. Stutzman had refused to sell a floral arrangement available to the general public to a gay customer, she would be guilty of discrimination. But she had sold flowers to the gay couple – whom she considered friends – for years without a problem. It was only when she refused to be forced to design the flowers for their wedding, which involves not only creativity on her part, but also the nuts and bolts of getting the flowers to the ceremony and arranging them there, that she supposedly discriminated against them. Clearly, this is an infringement on her first amendment rights to free expression and freedom of religion.

Justice Kennedy’s reasoning in all of these cases seems to be rooted in the infamous “Sweet Mystery of Life” passage from Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which he wrote “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”  As Justice Scalia correctly pointed out, this is “the passage that ate the rule of law,” but is nonetheless central to Justice Kennedy’s jurisprudence. A person’s religious views, by definition, define his or her “own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

Why is a religious person’s liberty, which is expressly guaranteed by the Constitution, worth less than a gay person’s?

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The Massachusetts Legislature is apparently trying to out-California California by considering House Bill 4014, “An Act relative to abusive practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity in minors.” The bill would prohibit any kind of counseling or therapy, even just talking, aimed at helping a confused minor be comfortable in his or her own body. If a parent seeks such counseling for a confused minor who thinks himself or herself to be “transgender,” the bill would consider that a form of child abuse. As Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, has aptly put it, “This is a bill that would allow the state to take away your daughter and make her someone else’s son.”

The bill was originally written several years ago by former state representative Carl Sciortino, who is now executive director of the AIDS Action Committee, which focuses on the health needs of LGBT people. He (it’s not clear if this is his “preferred pronoun” but I don’t really care) claims that “the point of this bill is that if a young person has an identity and is being told by a so-called therapist that they can change their identity, that is a false hope and abusive and shouldn’t be allowed by licensed professionals in this state.” He declares it to be a “false claim” that a therapist can help a gay or trans person become straight. Sciortino actually admits that the bill could cause the state to remove a child from parents who refuse to mutilate or chemically sterilize their child who claims to be “transgender.”

One would think that such a bill would violate the First Amendment on its face, but I’m still trying to figure out how anyone who supports such a bill can claim even a shred of logical reasoning behind their thinking.

Sciortino clearly believes that LGBT people are “born that way” since changing a person’s belief about his or her sexuality or gender is a “false claim.” But since being gay or transgender makes it biologically impossible to reproduce naturally, this position is clearly at odds with Darwinian evolution, which requires reproduction in order to pass on genetic mutations to the next generation. It is simply not possible for LGBT behaviors to be based on genetics.

Being transgender means that a person is more comfortable acting in stereotypical gender roles which, until fifteen minutes ago we were told were socially constructed. Thus we find the ridiculous argument that a “transgender female” can also be a lesbian. That is, a man’s desire to dress as a woman – a completely social construct – makes him more a woman than his attraction to women, which is biologically normal, makes him a man. The whole idea of transgenderism is a house of cards held up only by incessant propaganda.

As with the Bathroom Bill, I am appalled that the Legislature could even consider a bill that obviously has no logical basis for criminalizing activity simply because some misguided souls don’t like that behavior. If the bill’s supporters want to outlaw truly abusive therapy like electro-shock, then write a bill that specifically outlaws abuse. But to criminalize a parent’s desire to counsel a confused child to live as God intended, and define as child abuse a parent’s refusal to chemically alter the child irrevocably based on the child’s confusion is simply abominable. We must oppose this misguided bill. If you are a Massachusetts citizen, I urge you to contact your State Representative and Senator to make your voice heard.

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Politics is downstream of culture.          -Andrew Breitbart

Between network television and Netflix, I have been watching three separate series that all take place in and around the White House: “Designated Survivor,” “Madame Secretary,” and “House of Cards.” House of Cards is fun (although there are plenty of disturbing scenes made for fast-forward) because it makes no pretense that anyone in politics is motivated by anything other than naked self-interest and the pursuit of power. To be honest, I’m a bit surprised that it aired during the Obama administration, and with the Underwoods being democrats, too.

Madame Secretary was clearly developed to promote Hillary for president. If you realize that going in, you can laugh at the typical tropes like “Global Climate Change is the single biggest threat to our national security,” the non-gender-conforming policy advisor, and even the fantastical “Iran Deal” that could only be negotiated in a television show. Given the failure of this show to drag Clinton over the finish line resulting in (I love saying this) President Trump, the next goal of the show will be to show everyone how awesome it will be when we have a woman president.

Designated Survivor is perhaps the most subtle of the three. It stars Kiefer Sutherland (formerly Jack Bauer in “24”) as Tom Kirkman, the former HUD Secretary who gets thrust into the presidency after a terrorist attack during the State of the Union. Of course, the original Muslim suspect turned out to be a decoy and the real mastermind was actually an evil capitalist. Sutherland portrays the president as a non-partisan straight shooter, but it’s clear that he and his staff are anything but. In a recent episode, they were trying to nominate a “progressive icon” to the Supreme Court. Everyone was excited about how much “good” he could do on the Court which, of course, is not the job of a Supreme Court Justice. Interestingly, in a nod to the #metoo movement, the nomination was derailed due to a past sexual harassment claim that was initially only deemed a problem because “the Republicans control the Judiciary Committee.” I guess they were admitting that Democrats would have overlooked such things just to get a progressive on the court.

All three are entertaining, but keep your antennae up and be on the lookout for propaganda. And try not to get confused by the different Oval Office decorations.

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Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.
– Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield

I hate the term “working mom” because it implies that moms who are not employed do not “work.” My wife is a stay-at-home mom and she works plenty hard. More importantly, she works hard at things that matter. And the fact that she is not spending 40+ hours of her week focusing on not being a mom means that she is able to do things for our family that a “working mom” simply can’t. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

On Mothers Day, I salute all mothers who put their families first, especially my wife. When our son was born, she left the business world to be a full-time mom and wife. Our two children (and I) have benefited in countless ways from this decision, which she and I made together even before we were married. She has always been there, from playing with my son when he was an infant to being there when my daughter comes home from high school and needs advice or just someone to talk to.

Our parish bulletin contained a page of quotes about Motherhood today. One that particularly stood out is:

“Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling.
It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in.
It is what God gave you time for.”

This perfectly sums up my wife’s calling to be a mother. Today let us reflect on the fact that many of the ills facing our society today could be solved if more women felt the same calling.

As I mentioned last year, I spent many years in the Boy Scouts as an adult leader while my son, who became an Eagle Scout, was going through the program, only to be disappointed by the national organization in recent years. As predicted, the Boy Scouts went from allowing homosexual boys into the program, to allowing homosexual scout leaders to admitting girls-who-claim-to-be-boys to now allowing girls to be Boy Scouts.

While the parent organization will still be knows as “Boy Scouts of America,” the name of the group of 11- to 17-year-olds that used to be called “Boy Scouts” will now be called “Scouts BSA,” further distancing them from the original point of the organization, which was to teach boys how to become men and good citizens. The BSA is claiming that they are doing this to give girls the opportunity to earn the coveted rank of Eagle Scout and to give families the opportunity to have their sons and daughters in the same program to make it easier to coordinate the children’s activities.

That goal, however, completely contradicts their pledge that the new Scouts BSA troops will be single-sex. As a former scoutmaster, the idea that any local sponsoring organization will be able to procure separate spaces at the same time so that boys’ and girls’ troops can meet at the same time, to say nothing or recruiting enough parents to support both groups, is ludicrous. It’s simply not going to happen.

A large part of my son’s journey to Eagle Scout was Summer Camp. Aside from the opportunity to just learn how to “be a guy” by spending a week in the woods with other boys, he earned the majority of his merit badges at camp. It is simply not possible to reconcile these two important aspects of scouting when girls are added to the mix. If girls are not given the opportunity to attend Summer Camp, it will be much more difficult for them to become Eagle Scouts. To avoid yet another discrimination lawsuit, BSA will be forced to either a) allow girls to attend Summer Camp alongside the boys or b) create parallel camps for girls. It is simply too expensive to create separate camps (also subject to a “separate-but-equal” lawsuit anyway), so the BSA must allow girls to attend Summer Camp alongside boys.

It is simply a fact that boys will behave differently when girls are present. They will spend more time trying to impress the girls and compete with the other boys for the girls’ attention than they will learning how to just be comfortable with themselves around other boys. The very nature of scouting will change.

While it sounds nice to give girls the opportunity to become Eagle Scouts, there is no way the BSA can give girls this opportunity without robbing boys of the unique things that made the Boy Scouts the Boy Scouts. Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is either lying to you or doesn’t know what Scouting used to be.

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I’ve mentioned in the past my daughter’s obsession with Hamilton, the musical. We were in the car this afternoon listening to “One Last Time,” in which George Washington tells Alexander Hamilton that he is stepping down as president after two terms and asks Hamilton to help him compose his Farewell Address (which was actually published in the newspaper), I commented to my daughter that this was one of the greatest decisions ever made by a politician in our country’s history.

Until FDR, all other presidents had followed Washington’s precedent and chose not to run again after two terms. Following FDR, the 22nd amendment formalized this tradition, forcing a two-term limit on the presidency. Just think of what this arrangement, started by Washington, has saved our country.

There is no doubt, given the size of Barack Obama’s ego, that he would have run for a third term and, given the media bias – which was even worse in his favor, if you recall, than for Hillary – there is little doubt that he would have won. Which means that we would still be looking at a potential nuclear strike from North Korea, anemic economic growth, high unemployment and the continued corruption of the FBI and intelligence services that have only come to light since President Trump was elected. Thank you, General Washington!

The other key lyric in the song is when Washington says “I want to warn against partisan fighting.” It’s a pity that our politicians didn’t heed that warning. Imagine what President Trump could accomplish if he didn’t have to spend so much time and effort defending himself against made-up charges and fighting against for-no-other-reason-than-they-hate-the-fact-that-they-lost obstruction by the Democrats.

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No matter how “woke” you think you are, you are tolerating things right now that will make you cringe in 25 years. – Bill Maher

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. – inigo Montoya, “The Princess Bride”

While I disagree with some of the specific examples Bill Maher cited in the linked video above, I agree with his two main points. The first is that it is silly to judge people or actions out of the context of their time, and the second is that years from now we will be appalled at the things that are being done in our society today. I shudder to think that twenty-five years from now our society could possibly be more “woke” than it is today, mostly because I have to believe that we have reached peak silliness in the perceived intersectional injustices that are supposedly perpetrated by us normal Americans. When Starbucks can be accused of being racist simply because a store manager did not want to allow non-paying non-customers to squat in a store, thus keeping paying customers from using the space, then you know that the Left has truly crossed the Rubicon of Wokeness, and no one is safe.

Of course, the biggest problem is that real damage is being done right now, not only to our society, but to individuals who are caught up in all this intersectionality and wokeness.

When my son was going to college a few years ago, he filled out a survey and his college provided him with several other incoming freshmen to contact to see if they might be suitable roommates. He contacted one individual, but upon learning that this student was militantly homosexual, sexually active and expected his roommate to be OK with this, my son politely declined to room with this individual and selected another roommate. I wonder how long it will be until some student like my son is brought up on charges by the school for being “intolerant” of such a potential roommate – even though my son would have chosen not to room with a sexually active heterosexual as well – and perhaps being forced to live in this situation as a way to “expand his views” or some other such “woke” nonsense.

We are in the process of visiting schools with my daughter, and encountered a surprising trend among several “elite” colleges that we’ve visited. Gone are the days when dorms were segregated by male and female floors, or even wings, and the idea of male and female bathrooms has gone the way of the dodo. At several of these schools, males and females share the bathroom, including shower facilities. Apparently the showers are individual locked stalls, but that still means that my freshman daughter could step out of the shower in her robe, and be faced with a male senior who may only be wrapped in a towel shaving at the sink next to her. Now, given the #MeToo environment we are currently living in, I am fairly confident that any male in such a situation would be scrupulously careful not to give his female neighbors any pretext by which to accuse him of harassment, but that doesn’t really make the situation a good one. And if it were my son in this situation, I would tell him to shower at 2am and make sure there were no women in the bathroom to avoid just such a possibility. How is that possibly a good environment for either sex?

The only possible “solution” to this quandary at any of the non-Catholic schools we visited was the traditionally all-female dorm at one school. Of course, given the times we’re in, this has now been expanded to the all-female-and-gender-non-binary dorm. This means that my daughter could be sharing the bathroom with a man who claims to be a woman. I wonder if such a person would be nearly as scrupulous as the male in the co-ed bathroom about covering himself in the presence of my daughter. After all, if he’s a “woman” what’s the big deal? And I’m sure that my daughter – or your daughter – would be the one brought up on disciplinary charges for complaining about the situation.

It is my sincere hope that, when we look back on these times twenty-five years hence, our society is in a place where “wokeness” is the what-were-you-thinking absurdity. It has to be, because if it’s not, then that means that we’ve gone even further ‘round the bend and I can’t even imagine what that might be like.

So the king ordered Daniel to be brought and cast into the lions’ den. To Daniel he said, “Your God, whom you serve so constantly, must save you.” -Dan 6:17

Just in the past few weeks, we’ve seen Harvard University defund and suspend the Harvard College Faith and Action fellowship, and we’ve seen Providence College – a supposedly Catholic College – fail to support a student who put up a bulletin board affirming Catholic teaching on marriage and the family. These are just two examples of liberals in academia focusing more on their political advocacy and less on their responsibilities to educate students and prepare them to be productive citizens. Of course, much of academia today is the product of the everybody-gets-a-trophy culture where self-esteem has been considered more important than actual accomplishment.

I have always believed that my children, who are college-aged, would be successful in the world precisely because they do not believe that they are owed anything. They have both worked extremely hard in school and other activities to achieve their successes, and have a deep appreciation for having earned the rewards that come with those successes. This in turn motivates them to continue working hard to achieve even more. I couldn’t be more proud of them.

I used to think that once they graduate and go out into the “real world” that these qualities would set them apart from their peers and make them extraordinarily valuable to potential employers. But that will only happen if employers are actually looking for the qualities that will make their employees productive and strong contributors to the success of the business. As much as I would love for my children to work at someplace like the next Google, I definitely do not want either of them to be the next James Damore. Unfortunately, unless college administrations keep expanding as they have been, there won’t be enough academia jobs for all the SJWs graduating currently, and they’ll wind up in industry (except for Women’s Studies majors, of course). That means that my kids are going to have to deal with these people even after they graduate.

Fortunately, my kids are smart enough to know how the game is played. While they are strong enough to stick to their beliefs, they are smart enough to know when they are fighting a losing battle. When you’re on a college campus, and some student is screaming at a professor about a Halloween costume, or demanding a no-whites-allowed Safe Space, it’s pretty easy to tell that a reasoned discussion is not possible and that the SJW screamer wouldn’t listen to reason anyway.

It saddens me that they have to do this. But then again, this is also the reason that I write anonymously. You play the hand that you’re dealt, and you try to get into a position where you can start to change the culture. It’s going to take some time, but I’m proud to have raised two children whom I know will continue the fight.

When I was a young engineer, I had just started at a new company and, as part of my orientation, we attended a presentation by the company CEO, who was a wonderful motivational speaker. His talk was about “Negative Target Fixation,” in which he related the story of amateur pilots who, sometime have to do an emergency landing in a wide-open field with a single tree in it, and while they’re thinking “don’t hit the tree,” wind up hitting the tree. The very act of focusing on what you don’t want to happen can prevent you from accomplishing your goal. I was taking notes throughout the talk and, to my horror, realized that I had actually written down “avoid Negative Target Fixation.” Of course, by framing it in that way, I had made “Negative Target Fixation” the metaphorical tree in my own “wide-open field.” I’ve tried to be cognizant of this irony over the years since then.

One might say that “Negative Target Fixation” is what cost Hillary the 2016 election. It’s become almost a cliché that political candidates can’t just say what they’re against, they have to say what they’re for. However, with all the talk of the midterm “Blue Wave,” the Republicans find themselves in an interesting situation, mostly because when they claim to be “for” something, no one believes them anymore.

I will freely admit that I was anti-Trump in 2016 right up until he won the nomination. Once that happened, my electoral “wide-open field” was one in which Hillary was not president, so I voted for Trum. For the midterm, the Left is completely focused on the Negative Target of allowing Trump to continue to govern. Even though there is no hard evidence that the president did anything illegal, the “impeachment” mantra persists if the Democrats take over the House, even though there is absolutely no possibility of conviction in the Senate. I keep hoping that enough voters will recognize the tree in the middle of this electoral field and that the Republicans will be able to give them a positive message for which to vote. I can’t say I’m optimistic that either side will rise to the occasion.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.            – Jn 3:16

Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised.       – Lk 24:5-6

Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.                – He 11:1

Happy Easter!

There have been three images that come to mind for me when I think about Easter. The first occurred twenty years ago, when I celebrated my first Easter as a father. I was familiar, or course, with the famous John 3:16 verse, but it wasn’t until my own son was born that I was able to understand the depth of love that would be required to make such a sacrifice. All of you who are parents can I’m sure relate to that feeling.

The second image that comes to mind is when I first watched “The Passion of the Christ,” which has become an annual Good Friday tradition for me. I remember hearing as a kid in Catholic school that Christ actually suffered enough in the garden on Holy Thursday to make up for our sins, and I had heard of how awful death by crucifixion would have been, but it was largely an intellectual argument. To see such an intense depiction of what Jesus may have actually gone through puts into perspective just how much He actually did suffer for us.

And the only way any of that makes sense is that He actually did rise on Easter Sunday. There is no way the Church could have survived its early persecution and thrived as it has for two millennia if it were based on a lie.

And I saw the “evidence of things not seen” about four years ago as my mom was dying. When I visited her shortly before the end I witnessed her receive the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. Seeing the look of peace that came over her at that time, I am certain that she is in a better place and that I will see her again. I know that Jesus has led the way.

I pray that you and your family share in the joy of Easter today and throughout the year.

I want to thank Pete for giving me the opportunity to write more often, starting today. I’m looking forward to being able to comment on things closer to when they happen. And please remember to hit DaTipJar!