Monday, September 13, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Muslim Hacker Destroys FFPC Website

We have some rather stunning and almost unbelievable news that we need to report. Late last week, we were attacked and the code of our FFPC website at was completely disabled and destroyed by a radical Muslim hacker. Let me explain…

 You may have heard of Rifqa Bary. Rifqa is the young girl from Columbus, Ohio, who converted from Islam to Christianity and then fled to Florida on a bus after her parents threatened to kill her for not renouncing her faith. In my personal capacity as an attorney, I agreed to represent Rifqa in this high-profile Orlando case last year. Rifqa's parents actively attended a mosque in Columbus that had ties to terrorists' organizations around the world. I wrote an extensive memorandum documenting this to the Florida court. Handling Rifqa's case was perhaps the most challenging and stressful thing I have ever done in my life.

The case was eventually transferred to Ohio where her parents were located. I agreed to appear on "Fox and Friends" four times as a guest to explain what was taking place in the Ohio case and to discuss Islamic honor killings, which can occur when a very devout Muslim rejects Islam.

Just weeks ago, Rifqa turned 18, and we saw a great victory when her freedom and status were secured as a "Permanent Legal Resident" in the U.S. This ensures that she will never have to fear being sent back to her native Sri Lanka where she could easily be killed as one of the highest profile and most recognizable Islamic Apostates in the world. Rifqa represents a symbol of hope for hundreds of thousands of young Muslims who disagree with Islam and want to leave their faith, but fear the implications of doing so. It was a real challenge but a great privilege to defend this amazing young lady who now desires to "preach the Gospel to the nations."

However, I have learned that when you oppose radical Islam, there is a price...

Last Monday, the lawyer who represented Rifqa's parents in Ohio – who claims to be a "Muslim scholar" – filed a $10 million lawsuit against me personally in Federal Court alleging "emotional distress" and "damage to reputation" for my some of my comments on one of the Fox News interviews. This same lawyer has filed multiple grievances against me with the Florida Bar, trying to have me disbarred or disciplined as an attorney.

 In addition to all of this, last Friday a Muslim hacker somehow gained access to our FFPC website, (it appears through the server or some older code) and disabled the entire back-end controls on the site, erased most of the code, disabled the blog and left an obscene message on the events page explaining in broken English who he was and why he was hacking the site. Our web experts tell us that the five-year-old site, which has served us well, is completely unusable and needs to be replaced.

I am writing to ask you to make a special gift to help us immediately secure a new website. The cost for a new website with all the various capabilities we need is estimated at about $20,000. A very generous and close friend of ours who learned of this incident over the weekend has come forward and donated $10,000 as a matching gift in order to help us raise the other $10,000.

The FFPC website is our single most strategic tool for accomplishing our mission to protect and defend life, marriage, family and religious liberty. In just the last 30 days leading up to the primary election, our website had a record number of more than 27,000 visitors. And with the November election coming up, making voter guides easily available online is a mission critical task. Over the next 50 days, we estimate that well over 100,000 supporters from all over Florida will be looking for our website to get information on candidates, ballot issues and judges before they vote.

Would you please make a special online contribution right now to help us in this serious time of need? We have set up a secure, separate site to make an online credit-card or debit-card gift. Or you can just write a check to us at 4853 S. Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32806. If we get the funds for the website this week, we can rebuild it – in time to post the voter guides online for early voting and to make them available in hard copy for mass distribution in churches.

Most of all, I need and covet your prayers for my wife and family during this difficult and challenging time. Thank you for your faithfulness and support of our work.


John Stemberger

Since writing this E-mail Alert there there have been a number of quesions regarding the hacking incident:  We have attempted to answer these questions in this FAQ list.

Dear Friend,
Thank you so much for your faithful support and prayers in response to the Muslim attacks on me personally, and on the FFPC website after representing Rifqa Bary and helping to secure her freedom in this country. In response to our last e-mail alert on the website hacking there were several questions asked to us about more details about the incident. We would like to take a moment to answer some of those frequently asked questions.
Q- How did the hacker actually get into the website?
A- The hacker found an exploit (vulnerability) in the website’s “contact-us” page and gained access to back end CMS of the site. Then a virus was used to access to the entire server in Fort Lauderdale where the website is hosted. The technicians we are working with described the hacking as a fairly sophisticated operation that was done in a matter of only 15 minutes.
Q- What type of damage was done to the website?
A- The hacker erased most of the data and the files. Much of the content was erased and some of the banner ads were also deleted.
Q- Why wasn’t the website backed up?
A- The site was backed up. The virus the hacker used also destroyed the back-ups of the code on the server as well. The back up was on a seperate system in the same server facility. There were no offsite or online backups used. This will change in the future.
Q- How do you know the hacker was a Muslim?
A- There are several pieces of evidence which point to the fact that the hacker wanted us to know that his "Great Islam" motivated this criminal act:
1. The hacker left a large picture with Arabic letters which read “Allah”
2. The hacker left an obscene message which read in broken English:“You got hacked due to you s**t thinking about Great Islam.”

3. The hacker left his name, “Jhon Tairy”.

4. Four days before the hack, I was sued by a Muslim lawyer named Omar Tarazi for 10 million dollars in an Ohio Federal Court. A story in the Orlando Sentinel mentioned that I also led the Florida Family Policy Council which ran on the worldwide web.

Q- Did you report this to the authorities?
A- Yes. All the facts and details surounding the hacking was reported to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center. It was also reported to the Orange County Economic Crimes Division.
Q- Why does it cost $20,000 to build a new website?
A- The old FFPC website that was destroyed, was a high-end, custom site with original art, a unique design and a number of proprietary features. Good websites for corporations or large organizations like ours with all the speciality features can easily cost upwards of $30-50,000. Very simple websites with only basic features can be purchased for much less. This is one of the most strategic tools that the FFPC uses and we are not looking to just throw up a quick and sub-standard blog site. One of the first bids we received for the new site was actually $25,000.
We are trusting in our sovereign God and the fact that what the enemy means for evil, God means for good. On behalf of my wife Olivia and our whole family, I can’t tell you how much we appreciate you. When we fight the good fight, we can almost tangbly feel your prayers and support. We simply could not do our work without you. Thank you, thank you, thank you…

John Stemberger

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Perspective on Winning and Losing Elections

So your guy didn't win the election? Maybe several of your candidates didn't win. What about all of the time, money and effort you spent? What about the credibility of your personal support? Or what about the countless hours of volunteering, sending e-mails and talking to neighbors and friends? Are you discouraged? Disillusioned? Upset?

Well, at the risk of sounding insensitive, welcome to politics in a fallen world.

I was speaking at a conference in Jacksonville when a man raised his hand and told me he was greatly discouraged by all the insanity of where the country is going politically. He asked me what I could tell him to encourage him. While I can really sympathize with this man's feelings, my response was straightforward. "Faithfulness is the goal."

For the world, "winning" is not just the goal, it's everything. For the believer, faithfulness is the goal. Now don't get me wrong. I want to win. And we will fight hard to win. In a sense, I have devoted my life to winning the battles we fight. But in God's economy, the focus is not merely winning-- but on us being faithful to the end.

Do we stop proclaiming the Gospel or speaking truth in love because the world rejects the truth? Do we give up on evangelism because we are not "winning" and seeing results with unbelievers? Do we give up as parents because we are not seeing "results" in our children? No, we develop a holy resilience to failure and setbacks and press on in faithful obedience to any task that we are called to accomplish.

In politics, as with evangelism, God simply calls us to be faithful to the message and the task. The results are in His providential hands. When history is behind us, we rest in His sovereign plan. We do our best to promote the virtuous and expose evil and deception. We work hard to elect the most principled candidates. We steward our citizenship by educating ourselves and others and voting with the best possible information we can find. But once we have discharged our responsibility, we can be satisfied and feel God's pleasure in the fact that we were simply faithful.

As for me and my house, we are done with the emotional ups and downs of the roller coaster of election wins and losses—super elated with a win or totally depressed with a loss. We are learning the discipline of just being content with the knowledge that we were faithful to have done everything within our influence to elect principled men and women that will stand for life, marriage, and family.

It is natural and normal to be disappointed with a defeat and overjoyed with a victory. I am not suggesting we deny the emotional responses that come with either winning or losing. What I am suggesting is that we not become emotional slaves to the circumstances one way or another but instead to sense God's highest satisfaction in knowing that we were merely faithful to do our part-- irrespective of the outcome.

This understanding aligns us with an eternal perspective. It protects us from burn out and it gives us greater endurance and resilience. Most importantly it postures us to humble ourselves before the Creator of history itself to recognize that we can only see in part and know in part and that ultimately His ways are higher, deeper and wiser than our ways.

My favorite historical place to visit in Washington, D.C. is the Arlington National Cemetery. To walk quietly at the feet of over a quarter of a million gravestones representing American soldiers from the Civil War to Iraq can be a profound experience. Looking across what appears to be an endless sea of mostly young men and women who have died so that I might live with freedom, is a sobering if not a completely transforming experience. Suddenly, everything comes into perspective. In that moment, I recommit myself with greater tenacity and courage to what I am called to do and realize that any disappointment or discouragement I have experienced is merely light and momentary compared to those who have paid the ultimate price.

Mother Teresa spent her lifetime serving the poor and unborn in conditions which just seemed insurmountable. Yet her timeless admonition still gives fresh motivation today. She said, "We do nothing. God does everything. All glory must be returned to Him. God has not called me to be successful. He called me to be faithful." Would that we could all have this same steady and eternal perspective when we face the wins and losses of life.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Ruling not just wrong but an insult to democracy

Excerpt from The Palm Beach Post:
Vaughn Walker, the federal judge who "ruled" California's marriage amendment is unconstitutional, is wrong - on the law, on the social science and on his role as a judge.

Read the rest of the article by clicking on the link below--

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ultrasound images should be shown to women seeking abortion

By Cathy Ruse, special to the Times

In Print: Monday, May 24, 2010

Last year, in the dead heat of the summer, I developed pneumonia. When my doctor suspected the cause of my fatigue and shortness of breath, he ordered an X-ray and in a short while we were examining the picture of my lungs. This window to an erstwhile unseen world provided by modern medicine allowed my doctor to confirm his diagnosis and provided the information I needed to make decisions about my treatment.

A dozen states are considering laws that require abortion clinics to provide ultrasound images for women seeking abortion. Obstetric ultrasound is a safe and noninvasive procedure using high frequency sound waves to provide a picture of the moving fetus on a monitor screen. A "transducer" is placed on the abdomen and moved to capture different views inside the uterus. The fetal heartbeat can be viewed as early as four weeks, and other fetal measurements can be made accurately from the images on the screen.

Opponents of these laws, like the editors at USA Today, say the ultrasound mandates "cross a line" and force "unnecessary medical procedures" on women. Yet the reality of abortion in America suggests this rhetoric is off the mark.

There are far too many stories of women who were not fully informed before their abortion and are suffering now because of it. In fact, there are women in court today suing abortion doctors for lying to them about the state of development of their child. The people in various states considering these laws have the right to decide that women deserve factual information before an abortion and that the best information about fetal development is an ultrasound picture.

Florida's proposed law prescribes an ultrasound prior to every abortion. Women must be allowed to view the live ultrasound images, though they must also be informed that they have the right to decline to view them under the law. In either case, the law requires that the physician or sonographer review and explain the images. (Most obstetric ultrasound procedures are performed topically, as described above. An alternative is the transvaginal ultrasound, which produces an enhanced image quality but is not a common prenatal procedure. The Florida measure does not require this more invasive procedure.)

The fact is, ultrasounds are used today by abortion clinic doctors (they actually make abortions safer) but the screen is turned away from the woman. Proponents of bills like the one in Florida believe, quite simply, that the information an ultrasound provides ought to be in the hands of the person who is making the abortion decision, not only the person who stands to profit from it. And there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the information an ultrasound provides is relevant and meaningful to that decisionmaker. Various studies suggest that about 80 percent of women change their mind about abortion after seeing an ultrasound. If women themselves say ultrasounds make a difference, "prochoice" politicians shouldn't stand in the way of making this information available.

Some charge that providing ultrasound images equates to emotional blackmail for a woman who has already made an agonizing decision, but a recent study published in the European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care would suggest otherwise. In an article entitled, "Women's perceptions about seeing the ultrasound picture before an abortion," the authors report that women presenting for medical and surgical abortions at two urban clinics were asked if they wished to view an ultrasound image. Of 350 participants, 72.6 percent chose to view the ultrasound and, of those, 86.3 percent found it a positive experience.

Abortion proponents could adopt this standard of practice voluntarily, of course, but they won't. Abortion clinics are for-profit ventures, and notoriously underregulated — animal hospitals and beauty salons are better regulated than some abortion clinics. They will always oppose laws that strengthen a woman's right to know because when women are empowered, they tend to choose life for their children. That's good medicine, but bad for business.

Cathy Ruse is senior fellow for legal studies at the Family Research Council.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Poll Question about HB 1143 was biased

An article yesterday in the St. Petersburg Times touts a poll that indicates Floridians are opposed to the Pro-Life bill HB 1143. However, closer scrutiny of the question that the poll asked reveals why the poll results were most likely skewed by the biased question.

The Ultrasound bill question that Ipsos Public Affairs presented to callers painted a vastly biased and misinformed characterization of HB 1143 and the choice that the bill provides to women seeking an abortion. The question makes it sound like the ultrasound is some new cost imposed on women, when in reality, most abortion clinics charge for an ultrasound now to determine the age of the baby and never provide that information to the woman. In other words, she is paying today for a service that benefits the abortion doctor because he determines from the ultrasound how large the baby is and how much more he can charge the woman for the abortion. The poll question also falsely claims that the woman will be forced to view the ultrasound and listen to a description of the ultrasound. In reality, the bill provides every woman the option, for any reason, to deny the opportunity to view the image and have the ultrasound explained.
See the full poll results here:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

In defense of ideological opposition to gambling

Our problem-solver-in-chief who occupies the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee rebuked ideological opponents of all sorts in his March 2 State of the State Address, arguing that Florida’s challenges will not be fixed by public officials adhering to dogmatic principles but by those who are committed to “realism.”

What Gov. Charlie Crist failed to acknowledge in his despicable demagoguery against ideology is that he is in fact advancing a different sort of ideology—pragmatism. The irony is, especially as it relates to Crist’s aggressive promotion of expanded gambling to help balance the state’s budget, the governor is advancing a pragmatism that, in fact, will not work.

Worse than that, Crist, who campaigned in 2006 as an opponent of gambling expansion, is advancing a pragmatism that will harm the citizens he’s obligated to protect.

Claiming he is not a “big fan of gambling,” Crist told legislators they should approve a gambling compact with the Seminole Indian Tribe for the sake of the education of our children.

“Given the fact that Florida desperately needs the money—and given that gambling already occurs in our state—and given that we all love freedom, doesn’t it make sense to let people exercise their freedom in a way that directs money to Florida’s citizens? Wouldn’t it be appropriate to set aside personal biases and approve a compact that will help pay to educate Florida’s schoolchildren?”

Yet again trotting out freckled-faced kids as a cover for gambling expansion—that’s despicable demagoguery.

There is much that is wrong about Crist’s argument for gambling expansion, but I’ll focus on just two points: fiscal and moral.
In my last editorial, I reviewed the independent research of Dr. Earl Grinols, who testified last year before the House Select Committee on Seminole Compact Review. The bottom line of his research is that casino gambling doesn’t pass the cost-benefit test. For every one dollar of new government revenue generated by casino gambling, the government is required to spend three dollars for the social costs that gambling causes.

Crist wants legislators to bank this year $430 million the Seminoles have been escrowing based on the first compact negotiated with the governor in 2007 but invalidated by the Florida Supreme Court in 2008.

(A little history worth noting: Legislators should remember that Crist thumbed his nose at them in the first version of the compact by attempting to execute the agreement without legislative authorization—after the governor said he would seek the Legislature’s approval. It was only because then-Speaker Marco Rubio took the issue to the Florida Supreme Court and won that brought Crist hat-in-hand seeking the Legislature’s approval.)

If Grinols is correct—and he’s got both an impressive body of research and impressive academic resume to back it up—the penny-wise “solution” of taking Seminole gambling money in 2010 will later result in the pound-foolish costs to the state in a few short years.

What kind of problem-solving is that?

Even though (thankfully) Crist and some of the legislators will not be around to deal with the consequences later, they are duty-bound to not create an even greater fiscal nightmare in the future by approving an gambling expansion today.

The fiscal facts alone should cause legislators to reject gambling expansion.

However, there is a moral argument that cannot be ignored. That’s right; I’m making an ideological argument against gambling.

Crist’s desire to allow Floridians the opportunity to “exercise their freedom in a way that directs money to Florida’s citizens” is incredibly cynical. What the governor is really saying is that public officials whose duty it is to protect citizens should instead prey upon the most vulnerable—the poor and those subject to addictions—and rely upon making them losers to fund the state budget.

Indeed, it is immoral for the government to make citizens losers to balance the budget.

This is just plain wrong—and any public official who claims to be concerned for the family cannot support it.

Charlie Crist’s pro-gambling colors have been clear for all to see since at least 2007. As outrageous and irresponsible is the governor’s gambling rhetoric and actions, those who are concerned about gambling expansion in the Sunshine State should be more troubled by the talk of a grand gambling compromise coming from within the once anti-gambling Florida House of Representatives.

It appears the governor’s non-stop push for gambling that began early in his gubernatorial term and the daunting fiscal challenge of balancing the state budget in the midst of the Great Recession may cause legislators to succumb to the lie that gambling money will fix our problems.

According to Mary Ellen Klas of The Miami Herald, the framework of a gambling compromise negotiated between the Seminoles and House leaders is in the works.

“I think we’re very close,” Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, told Klas. “I think we’ll have an agreement that we can work with.”

According to Klas, the compromise would include a $150 million annual payment from the tribe for five years and exclusive operation of table games in South Florida. If the Legislature later gives blackjack and table games to the pari-mutuels, the Seminoles would pay only for the operation of its slot machines for 20 years—and those payments would end if pari-mutuels outside of South Florida later are given video lottery terminals.

Klas also reports the deal with the Seminoles would be tied to a bill to lower the tax rate for pari-mutuels.

It’s interesting—and disturbing—that the pari-mutuels expansion bill will once again be packaged with the prospective Seminole compact after the two measures were de-linked when the House Select Committee rejected the compact and approved the pari-mutuels bill in January.

This linking strategy was used last year to pass the gambling package, resulting in the second version of the Seminole compact negotiated by Crist. By tying the measures together, it forces legislators who are not sympathetic to the compact but are concerned about the pari-mutuels to hold their noses and vote “aye.”

Tragically, there are some legislators who have an otherwise strong record on pro-family matters who may vote for a prospective gambling compromise—even in the face of the clear evidence that gambling destroys families, and it results in the loss of human life.

Legislators who support gambling expansion are not pro-family and they are not pro-life.

Ideology in the defense of families and life should be preferred to pragmatism and problem-solving that actually exacerbates our state’s problems.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Commentary by Thomas hits Florida Legislators on Gambling proposals

The Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Thomas had an excellent piece yesterday about the proposals that FL Legislators are making to bring a multitude of Las Vegas Casinos to Florida. He makes a strong and compelling case why this is bad public policy for the people of Florida.

“The newest plan to save Florida involves turning it into Nevada….Line the state with casinos, rake in the billions and live tax-free ever after. It's enough to make the conservatives in Tallahassee swallow their principles and sit down to deal. It spares them from making responsible choices about taxes and budgets. It would double down on everything that is wrong with Florida.”

Thomas goes on to describe the decay and misery that gambling has brought to Las Vegas and the fiscal mess that Nevada is facing because they have relied so heavily on predatory gambling revenue.

“Nevada relies on Vegas growth, Vegas tourism and Vegas sales taxes to pay the bills.  Now, just like here, people are bailing out, and Nevada is losing population. Foreclosures are so rampant that an economist predicted it will take 20 years for the real-estate market to recover. Nevada has a 13 percent unemployment rate, the second-highest in the nation behind Michigan. The Las Vegas school district is looking at firing 2,000 teachers. Residents in Vegas are 50 percent more likely to commit suicide than people in the rest of the country….Vegas is a mess. It's going to be an even bigger mess over time as gambling proliferates across the country, sucking away all but the high rollers from the Vegas strip. And now a growing number of Florida legislators want to emulate the Vegas model.”
We still have a chance to let our Florida elected officials know that we do not want the state delving more into the predatory gambling industry. Research is clear: casinos lead to increased addiction, increased bankruptcy and increased crime. And they will decimate the surrounding small businesses which are already struggling to survive.

Read the full column by Mike Thomas on HERE.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Orlando Sentinel Devotes Column To Criticizing Mistaken Photograph in FFPC E-Newsletter

gay-women1Last week the Florida Family Policy Council’s weekly E-Newsletter contained a story about yet a third South Florida activist judge who illegally approved a homosexual adoption in direct defiance of Florida’s law which prohibits the arrangements. The photo in the news piece we ran (red and blue shirts on left) was obtained from an online article about a different South Florida Judge who approved a different improper homosexual adoption.

Orlando Sentinel “Taking Names” Columnist, Scott Maxwell, on an apparent slow news day, managed to devote an entire column just to criticizing and judging our motives as an organization for the use of the mistaken photo before getting the facts. Maxwell did ask FFPC President John Stemberger if he had a justification for use of the wrong photo in an e-mail and Stemberger sent back the following e-mail response:

“Scott, a day after the e-newsletter was sent out it was brought to my attention by one of my own staff members that this was not a picture of the actual couple in question in the Herald story but was a photo which was associated with an earlier story on a different gay adoption story. See (warning some graphic content on this site) I would be happy to issue a correction and an apology if you or someone else felt it was warranted. I have received no complaints on this till now. If you are going to do a piece defending the position that Florida’s law on homosexual adoption needs to be changed that is fine but do not focus on the straw man of our admittedly boneheaded mistake. Let me know if you would like to see an apology and or a correction issued. John Stemberger

Unfortunately, because Maxwell gave no deadline, the publishing of the column and Stemberger’s explanation missed each other by only several hours. Maxwell’s column which was published on Wednesday February 3, 2010 was his usual name calling hit piece accusing the FFPC of “dirty tactics”, “deception”, “intolerance” and “fear mongering” for not using the actual photo of the lesbians involved in the story (see photo with gray shirts). Maxwell also never really addressed the merits of the debate or why he thinks homosexual adoptions are a good idea and are just as good as adoptions by both a father and a mother.  (see previous BLOG post from last year below for detailed discussion on this debate)

After receiving Stemberger’s explanation and correction, Maxwell himself never apologized for his irresponsible and judgmental rant against the FFPC but did blog on Stemberger's correction (see Unfortunately, he also never bothered to quote at all from the explanation given and again tried to put the FFPC in a bad light even after knowing the facts of both of our mistakes.
FFPC President John Stemberger has issued the following statement of apology:

“I would like to offer my sincerest apologies to Melanie Leon and Vanessa Alenier for the mistaken photograph used in reference to the homosexual adoption story we published last week. The use of the photo was a clear mistake on our part and was not intended to demean either of you or other gay identified persons. Please accept our apology.”