AFA-IN: Governor Holcomb & IN Abortion Clinics

Governor Holcomb Responds with An Executive Order
 
         Late last week, Indiana State Representative Christy Stutzman sent a letter to Governor Eric Holcomb asking a question that many Hoosiers have been wondering during the coronavirus shut down.   Her letter asks why Indiana abortion clinics are open when they perform elective, non-essential medical “services.”   Most Hoosiers cannot get in to see their dentist or even their hairdresser right now.  Why are abortions continuing at full speed when hospitals need masks, gloves, gowns and other medical items used for abortions?
 
         It’s not only average Hoosiers asking this question. Seventy-four members of the Indiana House and Senate signed this letter!    Several other states have ordered abortion clinics to stop doing abortions during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Indiana should do the same. 
 
         Here is part of this important letter:
 
         “I write you on behalf of my constituents and fellow legislators listed below. We are receiving communication from constituents urging the state to halt elective surgical abortions due to the pandemic as have Ohio, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Maryland. Our constituents are concerned that clinics offering these elective abortions are using much needed medical supplies, during a time of crisis for elective surgeries. 
 
         The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services released “Adult Elective Surgery and Procedures Recommendations” to “limit non-essential adult elective surgery and medical surgical procedures . . . [to] assist in the management of vital healthcare resources during this public health emergency.”  The recommendations include a tiered framework to “inform health systems as they consider resources and how to best provide surgical services and procedures to those whose condition requires emergent or urgent attention to save a life, preserve organ function, and avoid further harms from underlying condition or disease” (emphasis added). Using this as a guidance, since the vast majority of surgical abortions are not outpatient surgical procedures, they would be considered elective procedures that are certainly not necessary to “save a life, preserve organ function, and avoid further harm.”  Emergency abortions are defined in IC 16-34-2-0.5 and 16-34-2-1.2.
 
         Therefore, we are requesting clarification at to whether elective surgical abortions are intended to be included in your emergency orders suspending elective surgical procedures in Indiana.”
 
         Yesterday, Governor Holcomb responded by issuing an executive order that stated in part, starting tomorrow, “all health care providers, whether medical dental or other and health care facilities, whether hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, dental facilities, plastic surgery centers, dermatology offices and abortion clinics, are directed to cancel or postpone elective non-urgent surgical or invasive procedures.”  
 
 
          I commend the Governor for taking this step and hope that Indiana abortion clinics comply with this for the sake of our national emergency.  
 
          However, some believe that the order is weak and could be left it up to the abortionist to decide.  The next sentence states that “an elective and non-urgent procedure” is “determined by the patient’s treating physician.”  
 
 

My Pillow Founder . . . What a Guy!!
 
         At the President’s daily briefing yesterday, President Trump asked the founder of My Pillow to say a few words about how his company is working to help in this crisis by making tens of thousands of face masks for medical personnel.   
 
         After talking about what his company is doing, My Pillow founder, Mike Lindell, praised the President for his efforts on the virus, and then said, “if you don’t mind, I am going to go off the cuff here. . . God gave us grace on November 8, 2016, to change the course we were on. God had been taken out of our schools and lives, a nation had turned its back on God. I encourage you to use this time at home to get back in the word. Read our Bible and spend time with our families.”
 
         “I did not know he was going to do that, but he’s a friend of mine. . . I do appreciate it,” Trump said afterward.
 
 

Polling on Corona
 
         There are several polling companies looking at the COVID-19 crisis and Americans views of its impact and steps taken to address it.  One polling group, Morning Consult, had this to say two days ago:
 
        • Consumer confidence in the economy has deteriorated, but in spite of their concerns about the economy, Americans are more concerned about the health crisis. 
 
         • More than 4 out of 5 Americans believe the US should continue to practice social distancing for as long as necessary to curb the spread of the coronavirus – even if it means continued damage to the economy.
 
         • When asked what activities Americans are participating more now that they are limited from attending events and restaurants, the top answer was cooking, followed by live streaming of movies and TV shows. 
 
         • Americans say that the most important items to have in their home right now are soap (97%), medicine (94%), non-perishable food items (93%), laundry detergent (91%), sanitizing wipes (87%) toilet paper (87%) and batteries (80%).  Beauty supplies rank near the bottom at 22%.  Toilet paper is ranked as the hardest item to buy now. 
 
         Morning consult has also found that Americans approval of President Trump has risen from three months ago while his disapproval rating has dropped.   An ABC/Washington Post poll has found that when asked about his handling of the crisis 51% of Americans approve while 45% disapprove. His overall approval rating of 48% is the first time in their poll during his presidency that he has exceeded his disapproval rating (45%). 
 
 

In Their Own Words:
 
        “It must be felt that there is no national security, but in the nation’s humble, acknowledged dependence upon God and His overruling Providence.”   – President Franklin Pierce, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1853
 
 
          
 
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AFA-IN: “Close That Indiana Church” . . . Corona Stress Rises

 
Tired of the C Word . . .

            I am very tired of the Coronavirus and the endless 24/7 news cycle surrounding it.  I wish there were other things to discuss, but we are in the midst of a national tsunami in which almost everything else has stopped to focus on this crisis.  There’s almost no getting away from hearing about it every hour.  It makes me reluctant to add to the noise. 
 
            Let me start with a little good news.  First, none of this has taken God by surprise. He still reigns.  As the famous quote goes, “I do not know what the future holds, but I do know who holds the future.”   Second, a recent Johns Hopkins University study has found that at the end of 2019, America was (and still is) the best prepared nation in the world for this kind of crisis.   References to Italy, China, and other places, are not equal comparisons due to our superior health care system and numerous other factors. 
 
            America will get through this, though I worry that the Congressional Democrats are using this crisis to massively grow government through a wish list of unrelated left-wing spending.  (The Senate Republican stimulus plan is a 500-page bill. The Democrat plan in the House is 1,400 pages!)  Trillions were spent by the government to “stimulate” the economy during the Obama years, and he had the lowest level of economic growth of any president in nearly a century.  Help is needed, but I hope Congress doesn’t do the same thing now, that failed then. 
 
            Last week, I stated that I felt that President Trump and Governor Holcomb were doing a good job with this crisis based on what little we knew.   My observation got a mixed reaction with many people expressing frustrations with Governor Holcomb for overreaching.  I am sure with his announcement yesterday of a statewide stay-at-home order, many of you are still frustrated with him.   I don’t pretend to know enough about this virus to judge him.  News on the impact of this virus are all over the board. 
 
            However, I am thankful that in his announcement he specifically recognized the importance of churches in this crisis. (In this age of widespread hostility toward faith, I will always appreciate when an elected leader mentions the important and positive role faith plays in America.)  I think I know a possible reason why he said this.  
 
            Shortly after midnight, early Sunday morning, the Allen County Health Department (Ft. Wayne) became the first county in Indiana to issue a specific “church closure notice.”   
 
            I believe that the government singling out churches raises constitutional problems.   
 
            Churches in Fort Wayne, as they are all across Indiana, are not holding regular services.  Most are closed and are “live streaming” Sunday services for congregants to watch at home.  They are complying with the recommendations for meetings.  The Health Department order appeared to be a targeted response to a couple of churches that were looking into small group meetings of 10.   Whether one agrees with this specific approach is not the issue, the point is that churches were, just like businesses and families everywhere, trying to navigate in some form of safe normality in this crisis.   They were not being reckless or defiant.   Using a sledgehammer to swat a fly wasn’t warranted.
 
            This caused quite a controversy when the order made the local news.  Several Fort Wayne area elected leaders raised questions asking why the Department seemed to single out churches when groups greater than 10 can be easily found in businesses and locations all across the county.  Some questioned why in Allen County, with a population of more than 370,000 and only 5 Corona cases (on Sunday), was this a “church closure order” rather than a recommended safety guideline.  Why wasn’t it titled for all sorts of places of meeting, including some city properties like parks and government buildings?   For many people, this seemed to be a premature overreach targeting churches. 
 
            Interestingly, the new Ohio shutdown excludes churches, and the Governor of Michigan recently said that the government does not have authority over churches. 
 
            I weighed in on this publicly too.  You can read my comments in a news story here: https://journalgazette.net/article/20200323/WEB/200329956
 
            The Governor’s statewide stay-at-home order makes this controversy somewhat moot now, even though the exemptions to it are quite broad.    
 
             By the way, when we get into shutdown modes, I often hear the term “non-essential government workers.”  It always makes me wonder why we have non-essential government employees in the first place. 
 
            Let me say this.  Tensions seem to be very high surrounding this virus.  I know that there are a wide variety of views on how America and Indiana should handle this, even among AFA-IN supporters.  My own views are fluid and uncertain at times.  I do know that religious freedom and small government are principles that mattered a month ago, they must still matter now and a month from now, even as we take steps to protect our vulnerable populations and family members.  I also know that people of faith are called to respect those in authority over us, and to pray for them. 
 
            I want to specifically thank you for being gracious toward myself, AFA-IN, and others.  I’ll get back to this, but I have also said that I fear mass hysteria as much as I do a dangerous virus.  Just for fun, as well as for thought, you and your family may want to look at Hulu or Netflix for Season 1, Episode 22 of the classic Twilight Zone TV show titled, “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street.”   Early on, I remembered this episode, probably after a trip to the grocery store seeing the empty toilet paper and bread isles.  (Maybe it was when I saw that my local gun store had completely sold out of firearms and ammunition in less than a week! The owner told me nearly all his sales were to first time buyers.)
 
            AFA of Indiana is still doing what we can within guidelines and health safety to follow our mission.   Since our founding in 1993, God has always moved in the hearts of Hoosiers to support us in regular and difficult times.  We strive to be good stewards of your support at all times.   If you would like to support us, we value your prayers.  (Pray for my wisdom in how to lead and speak with truth, discernment and grace through your organization.)   If you would like to donate online, you can do so at: https://www.afain.net/donation/
 

 In Their Own Words:

          “As quickly as you start spending federal money in large amounts, it looks like free money.”  – Dwight D. Eisenhower
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AFA-IN: “Close that Church” Revisited


Update:  Indiana Attorney General Weighs in on Church Closure Order

        
         Yesterday, I sent out our weekly email with some thoughts on the Corona virus.  If you missed it, please check your email in order to put this one in full context.  It was titled “Close That IN Church,” sent around 11:45 am.  (Thanks to all those who sent me notes of encouragement or thoughts on that email covering various matters.)

         One item I did not mention, though it was in the news story I referenced, concerned a request by two Fort Wayne city council members and two state legislators to Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill.  It asked him to look at the Allen County Health Department order singling out churches differently from other facilities, locations or businesses.  

          Late last night I received a copy of the AG’s response, which was a letter to the Allen County Health Commissioner.  It agreed with our concern that to single out churches with groups of 10 and not others in the same manner, had constitutional problems.  

           There is a news story this morning at the Fort Wayne Journal Gazettequoting his letter.   The Health Commissioner has agreed to change her order to fit with the Governor’s statewide stay-at-home directive enacted yesterday, (which makes her order over the weekend a bit of a moot point).

            Attorney General Hill’s letter states in part, “Absent scientific evidence that the COVID-19 virus spread more quickly in religious gatherings than others, your order amounts to unconstitutional religious discrimination.”
 
        

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AFA-IN: Taxpayers Get Scammed – School Survey Results

Legislative Note

This week, the Indiana legislature reaches its first major deadline for committee hearings.  There are several bills and amendments we are still watching and following that I will mention in future weekly emails.

The Price Taxpayers Pay for Poor Economic Theories

This is not an AFA-IN issue.  However, it may be interesting for those who believe in limited government and fiscal responsibility.

In the last decade political leaders in Indianapolis have often seemed to flail around grasping for a golden goose that will revitalize the city or boost it economically, making it more attractive to business investment.  Former Mayor Greg Ballard thought bike paths and liberal LGBT social policies were his silver bullet.   Recently, our capitol city revamped public transit to create a new $96 million system known as the Red Line, a rapid transit electric bus line.  Several existing lanes of road were allocated to the Red Line, new busses were purchased, and new platform stations were built.

The Red Line opened in the fall with great celebration and media attention.  Fares were even free for several weeks to celebrate its opening.   However, new numbers from IndyGo reveal that the Red Line was far more popular with politicians than it has been with customers.

In the four months since the Red Line opened, ridership has fallen 50%!  When one considers that one patron enters and exits, there were only 123,185 riders in September, when it was a free fare.  Each month thereafter, the ridership numbers have dropped.  For December the ridership was only 65,008.

In spite of federal transportation funding increasingly being diverted from roads to non-highway projects, mass transit expenditures have doubled to more than $15 billion annually since 1982. One would think that transit ridership might have doubled in that same time. It hasn’t even come close. Today, annual miles of travel by transit are only 25 percent higher than they were 40 years ago.

In fact, in spite these taxpayer subsidies, mass transit ridership has declined in all of the nation’s 38 largest urban areas according to a recent article by the Foundation for Economic Education.

Mass transit performs well in Washington, DC, where large portions of people use that system for work.   Yet, as the Heritage Foundation notes: “The problem with transit is that, on average, 90 percent of jobs are not located in downtown areas. Those 90 percent of employees are spread over an area more than 500 times as large as the downtown areas. No transit system can serve this type of demand at a speed that is competitive with the automobile. Transit advocates routinely oversell the potential of transit spending to reduce road congestion, pretending that it can make a difference outside core areas.”

Skeptics of the economics of mass transit are often accused of being backwards, anti-progress, or anti-environmental.   Yet, there is a lot of evidence that many types of mass transit are a huge boondoggle for taxpayers.

I am not against city buses.  They can be more economical than rail or other types of mass transit.  However, I once asked an Indianapolis City Council member if mass transit ever made any money.  He suggested I look inside the IndyGo busses as they pass by and take note of how few people are using them.   It was an eye-opening exercise.

School Survey Finds Some Interesting Results

The 2019 Schooling in America Survey conducted by the Braun Research polling firm interviewed 1,810 adults in a nationwide sample.   They also surveyed 601 educators who are currently teaching in a public school.  The two surveys were sponsored by EdChoice one of the nation’s largest school choice advocacy organizations.

Here are some of those poll results:

Among four options, public, private, charter and home, parents who have their children in private schools expressed the highest level of satisfaction (79%) with their school.

Teachers still do not have much trust in parents. Only 37% said they trust their students’ parents.

The number of Americans who say K-12 education is headed in the right direction is at an all-time high this year, however, that is a mere 37%.  A majority (56%) still think it is on the wrong track.

A majority of Americans support their own public-school district going on strike for a 10% pay increase.  However, when they are told the national average public-school teacher’s salary is $60,483, support for a strike drops by 8 points to 55% support.

Likewise, while the average amount spent on each public-school student is $12,200 per year, the median public respondent’s estimate of this was only $5,000. Public school teachers’ median response estimate of per pupil funding was only $4,000, less than a third of actual spending.

More than half of public-school teachers (52%) said that their students spent three weeks or more preparing for and taking standardized tests.

When given information on how school vouchers work, the public support of vouchers was measured at 63%.

A particularly revealing part of this survey concerned children’s use of technology.  It found that public school teachers worry about their students use of modern technology more than their parents.

• 77 percent of teachers worry about their students spending too much time in front of screens, compared to 57% of parents who express the same concern.

•  73 percent of teachers worry often about their students sharing too much about their personal life online, compared to about half of parents (51%).

•  63 percent of teachers are concerned about their students being harassed or bullied online, compared to less than half of parents (44%).

• 62 percent of teachers worry about students’ use of technology impairing their ability to properly communicate with people, compared to less than half (44%) of parents.

In Their Own Words:

         “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”  – Ronald Reagan

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AFA-IN: How to Make a Difference; Legislative Deadline Approaching

Legislative Schedule Tightens . . . Will Parental Rights Make the Squeeze?

There are less than two weeks left for committee hearings for any filed bill in its house of origin.   If a bill does not receive a hearing and a committee vote by the end of this month, it will die in this session.   The subject of a bill may come up in another bill or as an amendment, but any bill number you and I may be tracking that doesn’t meet this first hurdle by February is done for this year.

Yesterday, I sent an alert on House Bill 1322 which we would prefer not to get a hearing due to several concerns surrounding it.  HB 1322 appears to seek to give a mental health assessment to every K12 student in Indiana.  That is nearly 1 million Hoosier children.  This shotgun-style approach raises a lot of unanswered questions for parents.  The bill says almost nothing about the roles and rights of parents, or the rights of children who might be labeled for life, in such a sweeping effort.

It should be noted, that this is not a bill requiring students be tested for learning disabilities or academic challenges, which could certainly fall within the scope of education, and have the support of most parents.    These are expressly stated psychological and behavioral exams, which could raise some content questions or concerns.

One reason I am concerned is that last year, these same two authors of HB 1322, (McNamara and Cook), had a similar mental health school bill.  The Senate debated and added very good parental rights and data privacy language to that bill.  Representatives McNamara and Cook removed that language from their bill in the final days of the 2019 session.

That privacy and parental rights language can now be found in Senate Bill 129.  It has not been scheduled for a committee hearing at this point.

Supporters of HB 1322 might say that there is existing code about parents and surveys.  That is true, but it lacks enforcement language needed to truly back it up. SB 129 has that needed language, as well as student data privacy protections.

You can read about HB 1322 here: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2020/bills/house/1322

You can call your House member about HB 1322 at: 317-232-9600.

You can call your Senator about SB 129 at 317-232-9400.

You can also find and email your legislator through this link:  http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/

I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist

One of the best speakers I have ever heard on apologetics is Dr. Frank Turek.   I highly recommend his web site CrossExamined.org.    Dr. Turek will be speaking next week in Fort Wayne on Tuesday, January 28th at Purdue University in the International Ballroom, 2101 Coliseum Blvd.    The 7-9 pm event is free and open to the public.   He will be speaking on the topic of his book, “I don’t have enough faith to be an Atheist.”

Taking “Making a Difference” to a Whole New Level

I often have people complain about the direction or intensity of the Republican or Democrat parties.   The complaints are vastly different depending upon the party, but both complaints are always rooted in frustration.   If you want to see change and play a role in making a difference in politics beyond the bare minimum of voting or calling your elected officials, you may want to consider becoming an actual part of the Republican or Democrat Party structure.

If you are a member in good standing, which means that you have consistently voted in either the Republican or Democrat primary, you can run for Precinct Committee member in that party.   A precinct is the small geographic voting district in which you live.   The people who help sign you in, check your ID and set up your voting machine are poll workers recruited by your precinct committee member.   This is the working side of being a precinct committeeman.

The direction side occurs when there is a vacancy.   For example, when an incumbent city council member or state legislator steps down before an election, it is the precinct committee members in that district for that official’s party who select his or her replacement.

The other way you can have significant influence on the direction of your party is to file to run to be a delegate to your party’s convention this summer.   The position of delegate has a big role on the decisions the party makes at its convention in regard to the platform and certain statewide candidates.   For example, in the Republican Party this summer, there may well be a big fight in the convention over the Attorney General position if Curtis Hill is blocked from running or is challenged within the party.  (There is a fee to be a convention delegate.)

In many parts of Indiana, the position of Precinct Committeeman is vacant and winds up as an appointed position by the county party’s chairman after the election in May.

You can download the form to run for PC or delegate here (https://tinyurl.com/qq2wdet) and file it with your local election board.   The filing deadline for these positions is noon, February 7th.   If you have questions, there are places online where you can download the party’s manual for precinct committeeman, or there are people whom I can refer you to for questions, if you email me.

Just the Facts:

AFA-IN Fact Sheet: How to Make a Difference from Your Kitchen Table:  https://tinyurl.com/wh5qqbp

In Their Own Words:

“All that the best men can do is to persevere in doing their duty to their country and leave the consequences to Him who made it their duty, being neither elated by success, however great, nor discouraged by disappointment, however frequent and mortifying.”  – First Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, John Jay, (1745-1829)

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ALERT: Should Every IN Child Undergo Mental Health Screening?

Should Every Child in Indiana Undergo a Government-backed Mental Health Exam?

Two Indiana Republicans, State Representatives Wendy McNamara and Tony Cook, have co-authored House Bill 1322.  This bill seeks to set up a system to force every K12 student in Indiana to undergo a mental health exam, labeling many children “at risk” or “in need of intervention.”

This is not the same as a test looking for learning disabilities or academic challenges, which falls within the realm of education and would have the support of many, or most, parents.

This seems to be a broad-brush approach to more of a pinpoint problem involving a few children with serious mental health issues.   It raises several questions:

• What information will parents be given about these assessments?
• What rights would parents have, and what role would they play, in this proposal?
• What kinds of questions will children be asked?
• What kinds of behaviors or beliefs will be scrutinized by mental health or school officials?
• What happens if a child is mislabeled?
• Where is the exam data stored, and how will it be protected?
• What kind of treatment might the state recommend or initiate?

None of these concerns are adequately addressed in HB 1322.

As one leader and attorney has written:

Passing House Bill 1322 could lead to:

·       Subjecting over 1,000,000 children in the public schools – beginning in kindergarten – to mental health screenings and mental health assessments!

·       This could result in labeling children as “at risk” or “not normal” with regard to mental health issues!

·       This could then lead to an attempt to “re-educate” hundreds of thousands of children in order to change their attitudes, values and beliefs, including religious beliefs!

·       All of this could take place without parental consent!

House Bill 1322 Must Be Defeated!

Please call your State Representative and ask them to vote “NO” on House Bill 1322.   You can call your member of the House at: 317-232-9600.   

You can find your legislator here, and email them too at:  http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/

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Short Note from AFAIN Regarding Legislation in Statehouse

Dear Friends,
 
         Thank you for reading this email. I am always hesitant to send more than one email a week, out of respect for your time.  However, this legislative session is moving very quickly. 
 
         I wanted to update you on a couple of developments in the Indiana General Assembly at the end of this second week of the session.
 
         Senate Bill 74, authored by Jim Tomes, would prohibit the Bureau of Motor Vehicles from creating a politically motivated change our driver’s license.   The BMV wants to allow drivers to choose their sex or no sex with a new “Gender X” category.   This is a major policy change that the legislature, not the bureaucracy, should make or reject.  
 
       Senator Tomes has worked closely with several first responders who have various concerns about how this change could impact police, firemen, and medical staff on the highways of Indiana.    People are free to live as they choose, but their license (ID) needs to be scientifically accurate, not politically correct. 
 
         SB 74 has been assigned to the Senate Public Policy Committee where it may not get a hearing.   The bill should have been assigned to a more favorable committee, such as Transportation, where Senator Tomes serves as the ranking member.  You can call your Senator at 317-232-9400 about this bill. 
 
         Two Republicans in the House, Representatives Wendy McNamara and Tony Cook, have co-authored House Bill 1322, which seeks to set up a system to give every student in Indiana a mental health exam.  This could result in labeling many children for their entire 12 years of school.   The bill does not mention the role of, or rights of, parents in this process.  Some people wonder if this is an attempt to assess or change the values, beliefs and attitudes of 1 million K12 Hoosiers.  We simply do not know where this bill might be headed.   You can call your State Representative about HB 1322 at 317-232-9600.

       House Bill 1088, the Fair Play for Females Act has now been assigned to the House Education Committee.   This bill, authored by Representative Christy Stutzman protects competition in school sponsored girls’ sports by only allowing females in girls’ sporting events. 
 
        You can find out who your legislator is here: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/
 
        The Statehouse is closed on Monday for Martin Luther King Day, but you can call today or Tuesday.
 
Thank you,
Micah Clark
Executive Director
American Family Association of Indiana 

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