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Blackstone Meeting . . . International Students Hear Call To Become Great Leaders

August 20, 2014 Frontpage No Comments


PHOENIX — Although many people began noticing moral degeneracy being thrust on society aggressively at the direction of Barack Obama in the White House, he was only continuing an elite strategy already well under way.
Permissive abortion, homosexual disorientation, and other ills didn’t start with the Chicago messiah and weren’t confined to the United States.
To take one example from ten years ago, The Family Reporter, newsletter of United Families International, in 2004 told of efforts to impose distorted morality in Latin America.
Under the headline “Invasion of Latin America,” an article told of a meeting in Puerto Rico by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) that brought up abortion and “reproductive rights.”
A resolution produced at the meeting, the article said, affirmed that ECLAC members “had declared their determination to ‘implement legislation guaranteeing the responsible exercise of sexual and reproductive rights.’
“The language ‘sexual rights’ has never appeared in any major United Nations document and is dangerously undefined,” the United Families International article in 2004 said.
It added that another resolution from the Puerto Rico meeting endorsed a document from a prior ECLAC meeting in Chile that “urges Latin American nations to ‘promote the exercise of reproductive rights and ensure the provision of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services that strive to ensure universal access to the widest possible range of family planning methods’.”
That may sound like language from Obamacare or Planned Parenthood conventions, but it shows the ideas were as at home in international politicking as they are in American left-wing partisanship.
A modest program for law students to resist and correct such immorality in the law and culture in the U.S. began in 2000. It was called the Blackstone Legal Fellowship. It began to grow.
By 2007, events made plain that the effort had to address the situation not only domestically but internationally. Blackstone’s strategy widened.
Blackstone is a ministry of the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which advocates for religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and the family.
Each summer top Christian law students gather in Phoenix for nearly two weeks of seminars and lectures before they jet off to their assignments for six weeks, followed by a return to Phoenix for an additional week of training and career guidance before they begin the next academic semester.
This year 154 legal interns from 11 nations dispersed from Phoenix in June to their individual assignments in one of ten countries, acquiring experience, sharpening their skills, and networking for upcoming careers.
Jeffery Ventrella, Ph.D., ADF’s senior counsel and senior vice president of student training and development, told The Wanderer on August 9:
“Just as the Kingdom of God is not to be contained to any one nation or people, so, too, Blackstone is designed to promote human flourishing to the ends of Earth, focusing on areas and institutions in which religious liberty and innocent life are threatened.”
In addition to U.S. law students, Ventrella said this year’s interns were drawn from nations including Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and Sweden. Their locations of service included the U.S., South Korea, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, the United Kingdom and Austria.
Blackstone said they worked with “public-interest law firms, law professors, think tanks, and public-policy organizations working to impact the culture right now in the arenas of constitutional law, religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family.”
At the closing dinner of the 15th annual Blackstone program on August 7, Ventrella sounded a frequent theme, that the interns never will have to feel isolated or alone again in what can seem a hostile legal culture, but will have a large family in the fellowship they can turn to.
During those 15 years, more than 1,400 interns have participated.
Ventrella added, “The Blackstone Fellowship is not an end itself, but a conduit to a beginning. . . .
“As we plan for the future, as we must,” he said, “we understand that we stand on the shoulders of great men and women. . . . Who will follow them? You will. . . .
“Good leaders predict change. Great leaders change predictions,” Ventrella said.
One European student told the dinner that she’d done pro-life work for a long time, “but it was getting me down” because she wondered where the results were, but being in Blackstone encouraged her again.
She expressed gratitude that Blackstone found room to allow some non-U.S. interns to participate, even though it could have filled all the openings with Americans because the U.S. has plenty of its own problems.
Another foreign student reminded the dinner that the U.S. was founded on an explicitly religious basis.
Approximately one-third of this year’s legal interns were Catholic and one-third were female. Regular religious devotions were offered on site in Phoenix, including a daily Catholic Mass.

Visible Hostility

Three of the interns sat down for interviews with The Wanderer after their summer service.
Because of possible pressures that could be brought to bear against these traditionalist students at their top secular law schools, Blackstone asked that specific schools not be identified, and that the interns be given pseudonyms.
“Eduardo,” from Mexico, said international organizations are coming into his country to push for “same-sex marriage,” so it’s useful for him to have legal arguments and cases learned through Blackstone to take back home.
He said he spent six weeks at a New York City organization, researching and drafting policy recommendations to present to United Nations member states, as well as covering events to write reports.
A cousin who previously participated in Blackstone “was very emphatic about me applying . . . because of the Christian values you get here, and the like-minded lawyers,” Eduardo said.
“Brittany,” from a major Midwest school, told The Wanderer that she worked in Washington, D.C., and was present at the Supreme Court to hear its decisions against the Massachusetts “buffer zone” outside abortion clinics and Obamacare’s abortifacient mandate. “It was very exciting,” she said.
Her summer assignment included research and writing.
The multilingual “Esteban,” from Chile, also worked in Washington and said Blackstone clarified his career path toward engaging on life, family, and religious-liberty issues on the international level.
Hostility in Washington against religion “is visible, and it can be very frightening,” he said.
Back in Chile, Esteban said, “The gay-activist movement is very well-funded, strategic. . . . They have an agenda which is clear.”

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