The inauguration of President Donald Trump on Jan. 20, as we’ve said before
represents "a chance to dramatically improve public policy concerning the nation’s
most important issues — including life, religious liberties and the temperament
of the federal judiciary. But that’s exactly
what it is — a
chance." There are no guarantees.
To seize the opportunity before us will require one of Jesus’s admonitions
to His disciples: "Look, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.
Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves" (Matthew 10:16, MEV).
We must be like the Old Testament tribe of Issachar, understanding the times as
well as what to do about them. Importantly, we have to remember that being on the
right side of the issues is no guarantee of success.
To begin to right our upside–down culture, we need to set attainable goals
and work toward them smartly.
We suggest these priorities for Bible–believing Christians and other Americans
who prioritize issues of life, faith, marriage, family, religious liberties, social
justice and citizenship:
- A new U.S. Supreme Court justice to succeed Antonin Scalia. Scalia,
who died last February, was one of the nation’s intellectual giants. We were
thrilled and a little surprised to see Senate leaders hold firm in their determination
to give the 45th president the option to appoint Scalia’s successor, effectively
making the court an urgent issue in the 2016 national election. Now that the choice
is the prerogative of President Donald J. Trump, we urge him to choose someone who
understands the constitutional role of the judiciary – to interpret the law,
and not to be part of a partisan super–legislature that approves or rejects
laws based on political beliefs. President Trump may well have the opportunity to
make other Supreme Court appointments, but this one will set the tone for his administration
in many ways. It’s critical to his credibility as a chief executive to get
this appointment right.
- The defunding of Planned Parenthood. The nation’s largest
abortion provider simply shouldn’t have its hands in the public trough, because
it isn’t a legitimate health–care organization. It exists to terminate
the lives of unborn babies, primarily in minority communities, and our nation is
simply better than that. The funds that now go to Planned Parenthood, if they are
deemed to be in the interest of good public policy, would be much better served
going to city and county health departments through block grants to the states.
Planned Parenthood is one of the most profitable non–profit organizations
we’ve ever seen. It doesn’t need, and shouldn’t have, any taxpayer
- Executive orders that protect religious liberties. The unconstitutional
mandate that private businesses and other organizations include no–cost contraceptives
in their health–benefit plans was not part of the language of the Affordable
Care Act – it was a rule advanced by the Department of Health and Human Services,
which the law permitted. Our view has consistently been that coverage of some or
all types of birth control should be at the discretion of the employer who is paying
for the coverage, consistent with the employer’s moral view of contraception,
if any. The government looked foolish insisting that an order of Catholic nuns must
fund contraceptives, and the new Congress and administration should work quickly
to change the rule so such embarrassments are part of our nation’s past.
- Common–sense restrictions on abortion. Ahead of Sanctity
of Human Life Day Jan. 22, we urge action in Washington to make clear that a new
administration and a new Congress is good news for the unborn. State governments,
such in our home state of Ohio, have done an admirable job of making the destruction
of human life in the womb more difficult. Similar action on the federal level would
be most welcome. We suggest a "pain–capable" law for starters. That
would prohibit abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation, the point at which scientists
have suggested the baby is capable of feeling pain. We also favor a law requiring
abortion clinics to follow the same health and safety standards as other ambulatory
surgery centers; it’s simply unconscionable that abortion clinics are permitted
to cut corners in these critical areas. We also support passage of a federal "heartbeat
bill" that prohibits abortion after six to eight weeks’ gestation –
whenever a sonogram detects a fetal heartbeat. We don’t support stopping a
beating heart at the end of life and shouldn’t support it at the beginning
of life, either.
- Enabling basic election–reform efforts. Despite a 2008 U.S.
Supreme Court case establishing that requiring identification at the polls is constitutionally
permissible, election–reform opponents have smeared state efforts at protecting
the integrity of elections as discriminatory and even racist. They’re not.
The uniform application of a law requiring all voters to prove they are who they
say they are and live where they say they live is a fair way to make sure that all
votes count the same and are correctly counted. Congressional action to codify the
2008 Supreme Court decision would marginalize those who oppose election reform,
and appropriately so.
Our caution to CMC members and all Christian believers is that understanding and
working the legislative process is a painstaking and sometimes frustrating experience.
Our Founding Fathers made changing the law a difficult process, on purpose! We shouldn’t
expect positive change to come quickly or easily. And we especially shouldn’t
assume that an administration and Congress that claims to align with our priorities
will always do what we want.
If past is prologue, the path to turning our priorities into policy is certainly
easier now than it might have been had last November’s election had different
results. But it remains an enormous challenge. We’re up for the challenge
and we look forward to bringing it to you in the months ahead.