|Please contact Governor Ivey ASAP and ask her to protect the freedom of religion in Alabama, her churches and their members. Ask her to sign The Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act (HB24/SB145) without any executive amendment and without delay! To contact the Governor’s office, call: 1-334-242-7100 AND email by going to: governor.Alabama.gov/contact.
This act protects church and religious operated state-licensed adoption agencies from being required to make same sex adoption placements in violation of their religious beliefs based on scriptural marriage. With the 2015 Obergefell SCOTUS opinion legalizing same sex marriage, regulations are expected requiring same sex marriage placements. Already in Massachusetts, Illinois, Washington, DC and San Francisco, Christian adoption agencies have closed.
Adoption is an important alternative to abortion. We cannot afford the closing down of 30% of Alabama adoptions done by the affected agencies.
The Human Rights campaign, a heavily financed LGBTQ lobbying organization, abortion interests and others have opposed these bills, but they passed both houses with large margins. Now, we are told that Google, AT&T and Apple are pressuring Governor Ivey to add the amendment. Please let our new Governor know that we need her to stand with the Alabama Christian Community and sign the act.
This issue is about more than protecting innocent life; it is about the very essence of religious freedom. In committee, Christians were said to be intolerant and discriminatory. Our religious beliefs were expected to be secondary to the desires of homosexuals.
This is our first confrontation in Alabama with the gay rights agenda. If we do not stand firm now, we will face increased opposition. Those organizations that oppose us because of what we believe, will coalesce; and we will find we have little or no voice in protecting our values. Large corporations, gay rights advocates, abortion interests, gambling interests, and you name it, will be telling us how to live. Our sincerely held religious beliefs dictate against what they want. We must act now to protect our rights for ourselves and our posterity. We must not allow those who advocate unhealthy lifestyles to discriminate against us and against Christian ministries, nor advance their agenda at the expense of vulnerable youth and the whole of society.
We are indebted to Eric Johnston of Southeast Law Institute for much of the foregoing explanation.
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Eagle Forum of Alabama
4200 Stone River Circle
Birmingham, Alabama 35213
Wonderful news! All three pro-life bills that we have supported this legislative session passed the Senate today. They now head to the Governor’s desk for signature.
1. The Healthcare Rights of Conscience bill (religious freedom for healthcare providers who object to abortion, cloning, stem-cell research) by Rep. Arnold Mooney/Sen. Paul Sanford
2. Ban on Assisted Suicide bill by Representative Mack Butler/Senator Phil Williams
3. Right to Life Constitutional Amendment (a constitutional amendment to go on the ballot declaring that abortion is not a protected right in Alabama) by Rep. Matt Fridy/Sen. Phil
Thank you to everyone who turned out to lobby for life, and especially those legislators that voted to protect it!
Urgent: Please ask your Senator and House member to stop SJR87.
RE: SJR 87 asking for term limits via Constitutional Convention
In recognition of the fact that an Article V Convention is not a solution, but rather a Trojan Horse, both Maryland and New Mexico rescinded all previous calls for a Con Con during the first week of April, 2017.
Many well-intentioned conservatives cling to a Convention as a solution to problems our country faces. However, numerous extremely radical, progressive and socialist organizations are also fighting for an Article V Convention with George Soros’ money and massive media outreach. Constitutional scholars* (see below) and political experience confirm that a Constitutional Convention once convened would be a law unto itself. Therefore, it could well put at risk some of our most cherished freedoms and even our entire Constitution.
- COS advocates cover the full spectrum of ideologies and include hundreds of organizations in the Move to Amend coalition like Peace groups (Watch out Second Amendment.), communist fronts, Sierra Club, Code Pink, Occupy groups, and Wolf-PAC, which wants to publicly finance elections. Some toy with ideas like direct democracy and the popular vote, while others never publicly state what they would seek from a convention. All that these groups have been able to agree upon so far is the desire to hold a COS.
- A COS cannot be limited, since there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution and no law to restrict its purpose, procedures, agenda, duration or election of delegates.
- There is no way to assure that COS delegates would obey any restrictions placed on them by the states. They may not have to run for re-election and thus would be free from accountability to the public.
- Term limits in states such as Missouri have given unelected bureaucrats the upper hand with procedural and institutional knowledge. In Alabama, state employees lobbying the Alabama legislature already seem disproportionate to the private sector. How much worse will it be to give the lifetime bureaucrats in DC even more power and control over a frequently changing Congress?
- There is no stopgap for preventing ill-conceived constitutional changes from being ratified by 38 or more states. Modern communications capability gives moneyed special interests the ability to whip the populace up with emotional rhetoric to get them to vote for ideas that test well in focus groups rather than those that have survived the test of time.
- We have for so long neglected to truly educate our children on the Foundational events and documents that created the United States of America that many now believe the Constitution and Bill of Rights, rather than being documents based on the careful study of thousands of years of human behavior, are outdated and irrelevant. It would be easy to stir up those so uneducated into a popular frenzy of support for any number of amendments that would fundamentally change our country.
Let’s limit terms as needed at the ballot box and strive harder to observe the Constitution that we have. PLEASE OPPOSE SJR87.
Following are links for sound arguments against the various forms of legislation related to a Constitutional Convention. They are short and logical. Hope you find them helpful in speaking with your state legislators.
*“At a minimum…the Federal Judiciary, including The Supreme Court, will have to resolve the inevitable disputes over which branch and level of government may be entrusted to decide each of the many questions left open by Article V.”
— Laurence H. Tribe, Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School (affirmed by email 4/7/2017)
“…there is no effective way to limit or muzzle the actions of a Constitutional Convention. The Convention could make its own rules and set its own agenda. Congress might try to limit the Convention to one amendment or one issue, but there is no way to assure that the Convention would obey. After a Convention is convened, it will be too late to stop the Convention if we don’t like its agenda. The meeting in 1787 ignored the limit placed by the Confederation Congress ‘for the sole and express purpose’.” Chief Justice Warren Burger in letter to Phyllis Schlafly.
SB236/HB277 – Sponsored by Senator Cam Ward and Representative Pebblin Warren, proposes to require church nurseries and religious childcare providers (daycares) to be licensed by the state Department of Human Resources as are all other such providers. Church daycares and nurseries have always been exempt from licensure, even though their workers must pass background checks. The First Amendment should send a bold statement to state legislators about the proper role of state and federal government. Their role IS NOT to regulate churches or their ministries. This House bill passed unanimously by voice vote in the Child and Senior Advocacy Committee. Eagle Forum of Alabama strongly opposes SB236/HB277. This bill will allow the state to regulate Vacation Bible School, for example. It removes important religious liberty protections that currently protect Alabamians. This bill is about much more than simply licensing church daycares and nurseries, it is also about money. Foundation grant money has been awarded here in Alabama to push for all Alabama daycares to be licensed. The Alabama DHR was awarded $1.7 million to improve the quality of daycare in the state. Their only answer to that is to license daycares in church which are now exempt, although such centers are statistically safer for children by far than licensed centers. Those involved in negotiating for changes to the bill have offered 5 changes that would deal with the issues brought up by proponents for all child care facilities but these were totally dismissed, giving credence to the fact that this is not about protecting children, but about money and control.
Dollars are flowing from the federal government in support of licensed daycare facilities. The more that are licensed, the more money. With federal dollars come federal control. The bill says that in licensed church daycare facilities “no employee of the department (DHR) may infringe upon the ability of the center to teach or practice a religion.” However, these words would not control mandates from the federal government, such as those on the state Pre-K program that say, “no part of the day may be religious in nature.” If religious day care programs are required to be licensed, it is safe to assume that such mandates would follow.
Please contact your Representatives and Senators today as well as Senator Ward and Rep. Warren immediately to let them know that you strongly oppose this bill. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and office number is 334-242-7873. Representative Pebblin Warren’s email address is email@example.com . Her office number is 334-242-7734
Talking Points for SB236/HB277
- Background check requirements already in place
- Child abuse and neglect already outlawed in AL
- This bill is about regulation and money, it is not about child safety
HB24 Rep. Rich Wingo/SB145 Sen. Bill Hightower
HB95 Rep. Arnold Mooney/SB185 Sen. Paul Sanford
HB98 Rep. Matt Fridy
Problems with the Governors $800MM plan:
· It does not follow the Competitive Bid Law; authorizes No Bid Contracts.
O The competitive bid law is in place to protect taxpayers’ dollars and protect against coercion and collusion. Competitively bidding all public works projects is the law in Alabama and it provides the best price with the job completed on time and brings transparency in the use of tax payers dollars. It’s the taxpayers’ method of comparative shopping. Any construction on prisons must be bid competitively using sealed bids opened publicly.
· The funding for this prison project is extremely concerning.
O The $800 Million Alabama Prison Transformation Initiative Act would ultimately cost at least $1.5 billion and would create a bond debt that Alabamians will be paying on for 30 years and in perpetuity if the Governor sees fit.
O The prison bill calls for Gov. Robert Bentley [and future Governors] and two of his appointed cabinet members to have full authority—by statute—to not only borrow $800 million for his ambitious prison plans but to keep it from public review, thus giving the Governor carte blanche with no real oversight. The use of a lease revenue bond will stop the public from voicing its opinion on borrowing the money while keeping the almost one billion dollars borrowed off the books and in the hands of a very small group.
· It moves prisons out of the communities that have invested in them and rely on them for employment.
o The investments in infrastructure made by communities with prisons to sustain those prisons were leveraged based on the service provided to the prison system. If they lose these prisons the debt service will still have to be paid by citizens through increased utility rates or local taxes. These are the same citizens who will be losing their jobs.
O The loss of direct and indirect jobs would create a negative economic impact on communities that is so significant that it would take many years to recover.
· The enormous cost that will not solve the prison-overcrowding problem or health care problems.
O Sentencing reform passed in 2013 has already started reducing the inmate population from 27,000 before the reforms to 23,000 today. The Bentley plan would only accommodate a total of 16,000 inmates, and in five years the system will still be at 125% capacity. Why not just build one additional prison to specifically address the overcrowding needs?
O There are 4 prisons that were built after the 1990’s: Bullock, Ventress, Easterling, Bibb. Bibb was built in 1998. It is difficult to argue that these structures are in need of replacement.
O Why have we not already purchased the private Perry County facility which would hold 800 inmates and for which bond money was legislated in 2010 under Gov. Riley. Almost 7 years later, nothing has been done to buy it and lower occupancy elsewhere. This Perry County facility would hold 800 inmates.
O The Governor says the debt will be paid through savings by reducing the hours and numbers of correctional officers. However, the prisons are already severely short on correctional officers.
O The immediate need is for increased expenditures on medical care and mental health care, not overcrowding. This bill does not address these medical needs, yet this is the issue about which the courts have expressed concern.
· Place inmates in City and County jails to relieve immediate overcrowding.
· Buy the Perry County Facility.
· Make the necessary renovations to existing facilities and bid the work out. Once the renovations are competitively bid, the price will probably be less than current projections.
· If necessary, build one new facility following the competitive bid law. It is the law.
Contact your State Senator and State Representative now. Tell them you support the Assisted Suicide Ban Act HB96 (Rep. Mack Butler) and its companion bill SB198 (Sen. Phil Williams). House Information: (334) 242-7600 – Senate Information: (334) 242-7800, to voice your concerns with your legislators NOW!
Ask them to pass this legislation to insure that Alabama protects life until natural death. Alabama must not join the five states plus the District of Columbia who have already legalized assisted suicide and the other 21 states that are currently considering legislation to legalize “assisted suicide” which redefines the concept of medical good as never before. Our state has long supported its commitment to protect and preserve all human life at every stage. As this legislation states, the state has an interest in protecting vulnerable groups, such as the impoverished, the elderly, and disabled persons from abuse, neglect, and mistakes. The state also has an interest in protecting the integrity and ethics of the medical profession.
Assisted suicide laws clearly violate fundamental medical ethics. Without protections from assisted suicide in Alabama, the elderly, individuals with special needs, and the mentally ill will become targeted for assisted suicide as they have in other states. Alabama is one of the few states that currently has no statute directly addressing assisted suicide. The U. S. Supreme Court has upheld state bans on assisted suicide, and it is time for the Alabama Legislature to take action by passing the Assisted Suicide Ban Act.
In states that have legalized physician assisted suicide (PAS) there are few protections for those with mental health problems. Even in Oregon and California, where the law calls for counseling where the physician thinks the patient may have psychiatric or psychological disorder or depression, less than 4% of those who received a prescription were referred to counseling. Inadequate pain control was identified as a concern in only 1/4 to1/3 of the cases. If the reason for the decision is not physical, it is safe to assume that more patients should have received professional counseling other than from their physician. With such laws, there is nobody to hold the physician accountable. The laws allow too much latitude for physicians to rely on their own opinions in their practices. PHYSICIANS NEED TO HELP SUCH DISTURBED PATIENTS, NOT KILL THEM.
In a recent U. S. Senate hearing, Dr. G. Kevin Donovan, professor of pediatrics and director of clinical bioethics at Georgetown University, stated: “In medicine we know that what is permissible becomes habitual, and what is habitual becomes standard care, and what is [the] standard of care becomes obligatory.” We must protect life at all stages and remember the oath doctors take to “first do no harm.”
By Brandon Moseley
The legislature has returned for another session and some GOP legislators are once again pushing a longitudinal data collection scheme. Once again the primary opponents of this grand scheme are fellow Republicans. On Thursday, February 23 Alabama Eagle Forum led a conservative rally in opposition to the longitudinal data bills, House Bill 97 and Senate Bill 153.
State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) read a statement from his wife, state school board member Jackie Zeigler (R) vowing to oppose the data collection.
A statement was read from Representative Barry Moore (R from Enterprise). Moore said that only communist countries think they can direct children into career paths from early childhood. Moore questioned education rankings where countries that have invented nothing and innovated nothing are ranked higher than the U.S.
Rep. Arnold Mooney (R from Indian Springs) said that liberty loving people must be most on guard when the government acts with good intentions.
Rep. Ed Henry (R from Hartselle) said, “Does government need all of this information to better serve the public?”
Henry said that when he was campaigning, “Nobody ever said I wished the government would collect more data on me.” Henry said, “There really are not evil people down here we are just differing on which side we need to be on this.” Henry warned that we will end up losing our nation as we know it.” This would put us on a dangerous path and I don’t have any desire to be part of it.”
Senator Rusty Glover (R from Mobile) said, “We didn’t come to Montgomery to grow the size of government and this is growing the size of government. Sen. Glover said, “I have received dozens and dozens of phone calls from constituents asking,” for this to be stopped. I have not had the first parent or student asking that this be done.”
Glover has recently announced his 2018 candidacy for Lieutenant Governor. Current Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey is term limited from running again.
State School Board member Stephanie Bell (R) warned of a potential for government tyranny with this. At this point the best place for HB97 and SB153 is the trash can. Bell said that the federal government has demonstrated in the last year how vulnerable their data bases are to hacking. They can not secure the data. “This is about growing bureaucracy.” This will become one of the biggest budget items in state government in future.
Joe Godfrey ALCAP quoted GK Chesterton: “It is only in believing in God that we can ever criticize government, because without God they will worship government as God.” Godfrey warned of the dangers of giving the state of Alabama that much power. We need to encourage our legislators to stand strong in opposition to this.
Rep. Allen Farley (R from McCalla) said, “I am a Christian conservative member of the Republican Party in that order.” Farley said, “The poor schools are in the poor communities. Most of the prison population comes from the poor communities.” “As a Republican we believe in smaller government but a big and great God. Farley warned about the danger of data collection.
State School Board member Betty Peters (R) said, “I have no faith that no harm will be done.” “We have new things coming at our children every day that invade our children’s privacy.” “We must assure that no harm is done,” to the children of the state. This database is being run by a board with very few elected people on it. At the state Board of Education we asked questions. Then Governor ordered the board set up through an executive order with all of these appointed people, many of them appointed by him. I do not like appointed boards where everybody is appointed. I am elected if you don’t like what I am doing you can vote me out. Appointed people only answer to the person who appointed them.
Eagle Forum of Alabama Executive Director Deborah Love, who emceed the event, thanked all the legislators who attended and said, “We can count on their vote as a no vote and a yes vote for liberty.”
Rep. Mike Holmes (R from Wetumpka) said that the HIPAA data was also supposed to be secure. The dirty little secret is those HIPAA laws are not being enforced. There are 1300 complaints against the people running the database and the same people who maintain that data base are the people who is running this data base. Data mining of the database has become big business. if they can do that with the medical database they can do that with this.
What with manipulation of currency and theft of jobs, China is held in fairly low repute, especially down South. But some Alabama legislators seem enamored of at least one part of the Chinese system – the one that compiles enormous amounts of data on citizens, beginning when they’re toddlers and continuing through their careers, and swaps this data back and forth among various government agencies for government purposes. One might expect this kind of dangerous nonsense from, say, California, but . . . Alabama?
Parents and citizens are alarmed at two companion bills (SB 153 and HB 97) currently moving through the legislature to create a massive centralized warehouse of education and workforce data. This system would be called ANSWERS, or the Alabama Network of Statewide Workforce and Education-Related Statistics, which would be administered by a new Department of Labor bureaucracy called the Office of Education and Workforce Statistics (the “Office”).
The reach of ANSWERS would be sweeping. Operated by the Office, the system would combine education data (beginning in pre-K) and workforce data to provide information on the effectiveness of educational and workforce-training programs, and to assess “the availability of a skilled workforce to address current and future demands of business and industry.” (The bills don’t explain how the government can predict the “future demands of business and industry”; the Soviet Union tried it, but without much success.) The data could then be analyzed for whatever purposes the bureaucrats come up with, and used for “research” which, if history is any guide, will be ignored if it doesn’t support what the bureaucrats want to do.
How would this work? An Advisory Board would be established to identify the types of data that certain listed governmental entities would have to dump into the centralized warehouse. The statutory (and non-exclusive) list of such data sources includes all education agencies in the state, from pre-school through four-year universities – plus the Departments of Labor, Commerce, and Veterans’ Affairs. So these billions of data points on practically all Alabama citizens would be centralized into one repository to be sifted and shifted by central planners.
But surely the Advisory Board will be constructed so as to protect the interests of children and their parents. Not exactly. Of the 24 members, 22 must be either politicians, bureaucrats, or representatives of specific entities such as higher-education systems. One must represent private industry and know something about data-security (the bills’ only nod to security concerns), and the last shall be a lonely “representative of the public” (not necessarily a parent). The fix, ladies and gentlemen, is in.
The privacy concerns with ANSWERS are staggering. For one thing, although certain proponents have suggested the data would all be de-identified, the bills clearly contemplate the presence of personally identifiable data (by requiring “security clearance . . . for individuals with access to personally identifiable data”). Indeed, the bills specify that the Office would be considered an “authorized representative” under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and the only point of such a designation is to be entitled to receive students’ personally identifiable without parental consent or even notification.
Even if all data were to be de-identified, data can be frequently re-identified – especially when there are hundreds of data points on each individual to enable data-matching. And the bills even specify that the Office is to “link educational, workforce, and workforce training data from multiple sources through quality matching.” In such a vast repository, anonymization will be difficult if not impossible.
No more comforting is the bills’ requirement that the system comply with FERPA and other unspecified privacy laws. Five years ago the Obama administration gutted FERPA by regulation, thus enabling almost unlimited disclosure of personally identifiable student data as long as certain terms are used to justify the disclosure. Do the bills’ sponsors not know this? If not, what are they doing writing legislation that relies on FERPA “protections”?
The bills require no particular system of data-security, leaving that up to the Office. But the Office will have an unenviable task, given that this wealth of extremely sensitive information (including student education data, Social Security numbers from the Labor Department, family income information from student-loan programs, and on and on) will be conveniently assembled into one neat package and therefore made enormously attractive to hackers. One might as well assemble all the crown jewels of Europe into one room and hope jewel thieves don’t notice.
If enacted, ANSWERS would be among the most intrusive longitudinal data systems in the country – only 16 states and D.C. have such an Orwellian system. But most Alabama parents understand that the government has no right to collect highly personal data on their children, or on adults for that matter, and give it to other agencies to track their journey through the workforce and through life. It is none of the government’s business. One would have expected Alabama officials to understand this as well.
An equally fundamental, and troubling, aspect of this contemplated data repository is its adoption of the statist “socialization,” workforce-development philosophy of education. Traditional education in America has been designed to develop each individual to the full extent of his talents, to expose him to the best of human thought; statist education is designed to train him to be a cog in the economic machine. Only if the State adopts the latter philosophy does it need a data repository to track citizens and see how the training is working out.
Fortunately, Alabama State Superintendent Michael Sentance has a strong history in a true educational system rather than a workforce-training system. His experience as Secretary of Education in Massachusetts back when that state educated children better than any other state in the nation should prepare him to recognize the dangers of the ANSWERS network.
In public statements so far, Sentance has focused on the critical problems with data security. The parents of Alabama students are counting on him to go further – to reel in the dangerous inclination of the all-powerful State to collect data on free-born citizens and use it to analyze them as though rats in a laboratory. If Sentance comes out against ANSWERS, that ill-advised scheme will probably go down. Alabama is not China. Supt. Sentance can ensure that it doesn’t become so.
Eunie Smith is President of Eagle Forum of Alabama