Health & Wellness Podcasts

Humanize with Wesley J. Smith from Discovery Institute's Center on Human Exceptionalism, where human rights meet human responsibilities. We speak on the controversial issues of human life and human thriving that impact our daily lives.


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Humanize with Wesley J. Smith from Discovery Institute's Center on Human Exceptionalism, where human rights meet human responsibilities. We speak on the controversial issues of human life and human thriving that impact our daily lives.






Stephen B. Levine M.D. on the Science of Gender-Affirming Care

The United States has become the world’s most adamant promoter of what is now called “gender-affirming care” for children and adolescents who identify as being other than their born sex. This approach ranges from “social affirmation”—the use of preferred pronouns, for example—to “medical affirmation,” such as puberty blocking, to radical “surgical affirmation,” meaning mastectomies, facial feminization or masculinization cosmetic procedures, and, in a few cases, even genital removal and refashioning. Beginning to “transition” youth while they are still immature remains intensely controversial. But the increasingly woke medical establishment and Biden administration claim that the gender-affirming approach is “settled science” and the only efficacious approach to treating these children, calling those who disagree “science deniers.” My expert guest today says not so fast. Psychiatrist Stephen B. Levine has co-authored an important paper that details the paucity of reliable data establishing the benefits gender transitioning during a patient’s youth, calling into significant question the current approach to caring for anguished children diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Stephen B. Levine is a psychiatrist known for his work in human sexuality, particularly, sexual dysfunction and transgenderism. Levine earned his MD from Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and serves as a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry there. He was co-editor for the section on sexual and gender identity disorders in the professional text Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders. Although much of his work is written for other clinicians, Levine has also written books for a lay audience, including Solving Common Sexual Problems and Sexuality in Mid-Life (2004). Levine also served on the American Psychiatric Association DSM-IV Subcommittee on Gender Identity Disorders. Current Concerns About Gender-Affirming Therapy in Adolescents ( Informed Consent for Transgendered Patients – PubMed ( Illuminate Life Processes by Taking a Sexual History ( ‘Gender-Affirming Care’ Approach Undercut by New Scientific Study | National Review


Dr. Gale L. Pooley on the Ideology of Scarcity and the Potential to Achieve “Super Abundance”

In his first term as California’s governor, Jerry Brown famously said back in 1975, “There is no free lunch. This is an era of limits and we all had better get used to it. Small is beautiful.” Was Brown right? These days, it seems that establishment thinking and most of the content on mainstream media believes it is so. Threats from climate change, overpopulation, and environmental degradation, we are told, now force us to reduce consumption and limit growth in order to save the planet and ourselves. Wesley’s guest in this edition of Humanize takes a radically different and far more optimistic view. Gale L. Pooley has co-authored a book entitled Super Abundance in which he and co-author Marian L. Tupy argue that contrary to the roaring pessimism about the human future so often espoused these days, our earthly resources are actually unlimited and indeed, that population increases and innovation are the keys to growing our prosperity and extending our freedoms. Gale L. Pooley is an associate professor of business management at Brigham Young University-Hawaii. He has taught economics and statistics at AL Faisal University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Brigham Young University-Idaho, Boise State University, and the College of Idaho. Dr. Pooley earned his BBA in Economics at Boise State University and completed his PhD at the University of Idaho. He has published articles in National Review, Human Progress, The American Spectator, the Utah Bar Journal, the Appraisal Journal, Quillette, and RealClearMarkets. Dr. Pooley is a Senior Fellow with the Discovery Institute’s Center on Wealth and Poverty and serves on the board of He also serves on the Foundation for Economic Education Faculty Network and is a Scholar with Hawaii’s Grassroot Institute. His major research activity has been the Simon Abundance Index, which he co-authored with Dr. Marian Tupy. Economics | Discovery Institute ( Superabundance: The Story of Population Growth, Innovation, and Human Flourishing on an Infinitely Bountiful Planet: Tupy, Marian L., Pooley, Gale L., Gilder, George: 9781952223587: Books Review of “Superabundance,” by Marian L. Tupy & Gale L. Pooley ( After 96 Years, TV Abundance Continues to Flourish | Economics (


Todd Myers on Democratizing Environmentalism by ‘Thinking Small’

The environmental movement is growing ever-more extreme. Radical ideas such as granting rights to nature—including geological features like rivers, lakes, and glaciers—are gaining popularity as a means of “saving the planet.” But is there another way? Can we fulfill our human duty to be good stewards of the environment without undermining human exceptionalism and impeding our thriving? According to my guest Todd Myers, the answer is definitely, yes. In his interesting new book, Time to Think Small, Myers writes that “nimble environmental technologies can help solve the planet’s biggest problems.” Through the power of smart phones, Myers argues, coupled with the ingenuity of software apps, we can all help promote a healthy environment through millions of individual actions—and without sacrificing freedom or harming the economy. Myers is a former member of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, and a member of the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Council. He currently serves as the environmental director at the Washington Policy Center, a public policy think tank in Seattle. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, National Review, Seattle Times, and USAToday. He has been interviewed on numerous news network programs, including on CNN, CNBC, and Fox News. Myers has a Master’s Degree in Russian/International Studies from the University of Washington. He lives in the Cascade Mountains in Washington with his wife and 200,000 honeybees. Time to Think Small: How Nimble Environmental Technologies Can Solve the Planet’s Biggest Problems: 9781623545543: Myers, Todd: Books Center for the Environment » Centers » Washington Policy Center Climate action is in our hands with tech that encourages small steps There’s A New Book The Climate Industrial Complex Doesn’t Want You To Read Small Technologies: The Millions Interviews Todd Myers New Congress Should Empower People — Not Politicians — for Environmental Results


Rod Dreher on the Crisis of Western Civilization

Western Civilization is in crisis. It is becoming unmoored from its Judeo-Christian roots and the belief in the unique dignity of every human life, leading to destructive progressive social policies that some believe threaten us with a form of therapeutic authoritarianism. One such commentator is my guest today on Humanize. Rod Dreher is an American journalist and best-selling author. He has authored several books, including The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, How Dante Can Save Your Life, The Benedict Option, and Live Not by Lies. In his journalistic career, he has written about religion, politics, film, and culture in National Review, National Review Online, the Weekly Standard, Wall Street Journal, Touchstone, Men’s Health, and the Los Angeles Times, and until recently, hosted a popular blog at The American Conservative. His commentaries have been broadcast on NPR’s All Things Considered, and has appeared on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Court TV, and other television networks. Dreher is a noted Christian apologist and writes a daily Substack newsletter. His next book will explore the importance of Enchantment to human society.


Alex Schadenberg on the Canadian Euthanasia Epidemic

No modern society has embraced lethal injection euthanasia with the enthusiasm of Canada, where not only the terminally ill can be killed by doctors but also people with chronic conditions and disabilities. Soon, people with mental illnesses will qualify for a doctor-hastened death. In 2021, more than 10,000 Canadians were euthanized by doctors or nurse practitioners. As recently as 2014, euthanasia was outlawed in the country. But then, the Supreme Court declared that such laws were unconstitutional. Since that event, Canada has created one of the world’s most radical lethal injection euthanasia regimes. Why has Canada, of all countries, embraced doctor-administered death? Wesley’s guest on this episode of Humanize has the answers. Alex Schadenberg is one of the world’s premier opponents of euthanasia and assisted suicide. He is the co-founder and executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, founded in 1998 and based in the Canadian Province of Ontario. He produced The Euthanasia Deception documentary that explores 15 years of euthanasia legalization in Belgium. Schadenberg has traveled the world speaking about the issue, authored countless opinion columns, and moderates the world’s most widely-read blog devoted to the issue, the link to which can be found in the program notes. He is also the author of Exposing Vulnerable People to Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide.


Tim Goeglein on the Case for Teaching the Great American Story

Abraham Lincoln famously called the United States of America, “the last best Hope on earth.” Throughout our history, most Americans believed that. So did countless people from other countries who left their homes behind to come here in pursuit of the American dream — including my grandmother who immigrated from Italy in 1910 as a 16 year-old to help free her family from bone crunching poverty. But now, things have changed. My guest today is Tim Goeglein, who has written a new book warning about how our educational system has corroded the belief of the young in the exceptional nature of the American Republican and our capacity to continually improve society — as we aim, in the title of his book, Toward a More Perfect Union. Goeglein was special assistant to U.S. President George W. Bush and Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison from 2001 to 2008. In January 2009, Goeglein became the Vice President of External and Government Relations for Focus on the Family. Goeglein is a prolific public a speaker and the author of many commentaries as well as 3 books. His first book was Man in the Middle: An Inside Account of Faith and Politics in the George W. Bush Era, published in 2011. His second co-authored book was American Restoration: How Faith, Family, and Personal Sacrifice Can Heal Our Nation. And now, he has just published Toward a More Perfect Union: The Moral and Cultural Case for Teaching the Great American Story.


Dr. Peggy Hartshorn on Heartbeat International, Pregnancy Resource Centers, and Abortion Pill Reversal

A continual criticism of the pro-life movement is that adherents only care about children before they are born. But is that true? The proliferation of Pregnancy Help Centers throughout the country and the many outreach efforts of the pro-life movement to help women and babies after birth testifies to the lie of the accusation. Wesley’s guest today has been immersed in these efforts for decades. Peggy Hartshorn Ph.D. and her husband first volunteered to house pregnant girls in their home in 1975. She is now the Chair of Heartbeat International, an international nonprofit Christian organization with a worldwide network of more than 3,000 pro-life pregnancy help centers that provide comprehensive help to women throughout their pregnancies and after the child is born. The goal of Heartbeat International is to offer compassionate support so that no woman ever feels that abortion is her only option. Dr. Hartshorn has traveled to 52 countries in support of pregnancy help organizations in Eastern and Western Europe, Australia, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. She is the recipient of many awards for pro-life work, including: the President’s Volunteer Service Award under President George H.W. Bush, the J.C. Penney Golden Rule Award, the Defender of Life Award from Students for Life, the Cardinal John J. O’Connor pro-life award from Legatus International, Dr. Hartshorn co-founded Heartbeat International’s Option Line in 2002. It is the only 24/7, bilingual, internet-based, pro-life call center in the world. Option Line handles about a quarter of a million calls for help each year, connecting callers to their community-based pregnancy help center. Dr. Hartshorn is also the co-author of The Power of Pregnancy Help: The First Fifty Years. Program Notes: Home ( What is a Pregnancy Center? ( Abortion Pill Reversal – Home Mothers share how crisis pregnancy centers helped them walk away from abortion: ‘huge enlightenment’ | Fox News More than 100 pro-life orgs, churches attacked since Dobbs leak | Fox News


Steve Laufmann and Howard Glicksman on the Design of the Human Body

In this episode of the Humanize podcast we will explore the human body. Is your body “engineered” or did it evolve through impersonal and random processes over countless millions of years of natural selection? And what difference does the answer to that question make? Wesley’s guests are the authors of Your Designed Body, a new book that explores the complexity of the human physical form, not just from a biological, but also, intriguingly, an engineering perspective. As the famous atheist proselytizer and biologist Richard Dawkins has written, “However many ways there may be to be alive, it is certain that there are vastly more ways of being dead…” In other words, as the authors note, “Life’s margin of error is small,” and requires an intricate, complex and integrated systems to maintain life. These could not have arisen by mere chance, no matter the time must have been engineered to accomplish such myriad and sophisticated tasks. Whatever your views on how life came to be—whether by creation, intelligent design, or via random evolutionary forces—this is a fascinating and provocative conversation you will not want to miss. Steve Laufmann is a public speaker, author, computer scientist, and engineering consultant in the design of enterprise-class systems, with expertise in the difficulties of changing complex systems to perform new tasks. He was a founding member of the International Foundation for Cooperative Information Systems (IFCIS), and has published many juried papers and book chapters on information commerce and related topics. Several years ago, he began to apply his expertise to the study of living systems. He leads the Engineering Research Group at the Discovery Institute. Dr. Howard Glicksman is a primary care and hospice physician with more than forty years of practice in clinical and hospital settings. He is the author of The Designed Body series for Evolution News and Science Today. Return of the God Hypothesis | Stephen C. Meyer (


Dr. Jay Bhattacharya on COVID-19 as One of the Most Divisive Events in American History

The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the most politically and culturally divisive events in American history. Which seems odd. Usually, a universal external threat unites societies and rallies populations to focus on the common foe. Instead, American society fractured into different tribes, which often coincided with our preexisting political factionalism. Adding to our woes, the proper approach to scientific inquiry and policy makers’ relationship with the expert class became badly skewed. Once an orthodoxy was declared by the World Health Organization or the Center for Disease Control, government leaders, the mainstream media, and Big Tech circled the wagons to prevent dissenting views from being aired—and even seeking to punish those with differing opinions. And we now know that action was taken to suppress heterodox voices. Wesley’s guest is one of those caught in this cultural oppression. Dr. Jayanta Bhattacharya, making his second Humanize appearance, is a Professor of Health Policy at Stanford University and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economics Research. He directs Stanford’s Center for Demography and Economics of Health and Aging. Dr. Bhattacharya’s research focuses on the health and well-being of vulnerable populations, with a particular emphasis on the role of government programs, biomedical innovation, and economics. Dr. Bhattacharya’s recent research focuses on the epidemiology of COVID-19 as well as an evaluation of policy responses to the epidemic. He has published more than 100 articles in top peer-reviewed scientific journals in medicine, economics, health policy, epidemiology, statistics, law, and public health among other fields. He holds an MD and PhD in economics, both earned at Stanford University. Bhattacharya is also a co-author The Great Barrington Declaration, published in the fall of 2020 to great controversy, which dissented against the reigning public health “lock down” policies being brought to bear against the virus, and offered a different approach that would reopen society as we continued to protect our most vulnerable members from illness. As a consequence of his heterodox advocacy, Bhattacharya was censored on social media and suffered professional ostracism at Stanford University. Link:


Chen Guangcheng on the Current Tyranny in the People’s Republic of China

In the current episode of Humanize, Wesley interviews Chen Guangcheng, an authentic human rights hero and adamant opponent of Chinese Communist Party tyranny that rules the People’s Republic of China. Known internationally as “the barefoot lawyer,” Chen is a renowned human rights activist who fearlessly advocated for the welfare and rights of women, the disabled, and the poor while in China, and whom today, continues to carry the banner of human freedom in opposition to Chinese totalitarianism from the United States. Chen’s ardent and courageous human rights advocacy has received extensive international acclaim and has drawn heightened international attention to the maltreatment of women and abuses of China’s domestic policies, including forced abortions and sterilizations. Blind from an early age and self-taught in the law, in 2005, Chen gained international recognition for organizing a landmark class-action lawsuit against authorities in Shandong province, for the excessive enforcement of the one-child policy. As a result of this lawsuit challenging the authorities, Chen was sentenced to four years and three months in prison. He was released from prison in 2010, but remained under house arrest or “soft detention” at his home in Dongshigu Village. In April 2012, Chen escaped his house arrest and fled to the US Embassy. In May 2012, Chen, his wife, and his two children were granted U.S. visas and departed Beijing for New York City. He has lived in the United States ever since and became an American citizen last summer. Among many other international acclaims, in 2006 Chen was named to the Time 100, which lists the most influential people in the world. He is a 2007 laureate of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, which is often called the Nobel Peace Prize of Asia. Currently, he is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Center for Human Rights at the Catholic University of America, where he is also on the faculty. He is the author of The Barefoot Lawyer: A Blind Man’s Fight for Justice and Freedom in China. Special thanks to William Saunders, Director of the Center for Human Rights, for helping with language issues during this interview. -my-village-corruption-meng-river-dam-shandong-province-dissent-dongshigu-11657743678


Dr. Jay Wesley Richards on What Every Parent Should Know About Gender Ideology and Gender-Affirming Care

In a previous episode of Humanize, Wesley interviewed Jennifer Lahl, director of The Detransition Diaries, which documents the stories of three young women who received what is called “gender-affirming care”—including a mastectomy in one case—and later realized that they were indeed the female sex they were born. That discussion focused mostly on the radical body-altering interventions that children who question their sex too often receive. In this follow-up interview, we take a broader look at “Gender ideology” generally, and how the West got caught up in a moral panic that has seen an explosion of both adult and child cases of gender dysphoria. The discussion ranges from describing the supposed “Seven Sexes” that gender ideologues argue exist, to the role of social media in this social contagion, to how the ideology represents the hegemony of feelings over facts, and the reasons children are the prime targets of gender warriors. It is a conversation you won’t want to miss. Jay Wesley Richards, Ph.D., is an analytic philosopher who focuses on the intersection of politics, philosophy, and religion. He is director of the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Life, Religion, and Family and the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow in Religious Liberty and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation. He is also a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and Executive Editor of The Stream. Jay is author or editor of more than a dozen books, including the New York Times bestsellers Infiltrated (2013) and Indivisible (2012); The Human Advantage; Money, Greed, and God, winner of a 2010 Templeton Enterprise Award; The Hobbit Party with Jonathan Witt; and Eat, Fast, Feast. He is also creator and executive producer of several documentaries, including three that have appeared widely on PBS. Jay’s articles and essays have been published in The Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Washington Post, The New York Post, Newsweek, Forbes, Fox News, National Review Online, The Hill, Investor’s Business Daily, Washington Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Huffington Post, The Federalist, The Daily Caller, and many other publications. Jay has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs, including CBS Evening News, MSNBC, Fox and Friends, PBS, CBN, TBN, and is a regular guest onEWTN. An experienced public speaker, he has spoken at academic conferences; college and university campuses in the United States, Europe, and Asia; many think tanks in the U.S. and Europe; public policy meetings; and on several occasions to members of the U.S. Congress and U.S. congressional staff.


Jennifer Lahl on ‘The Detransition Diaries: Saving our Sisters’

We are in the midst of a transgender moral panic. Where only a decade ago, very few people sought what used to be called a sex change, today the numbers of people seeking to “transition” is becoming a flood. It is one thing when adults decide to radically alter their bodies. But it is quite another to promote these radical “gender-affirming care” in children. And yet, the American medical establishment and the Biden administration state that the science in this regard is “settled” and that immediate affirmation is the only humane approach to treating children with gender dysphoria, interventions that can include puberty blocking, cross hormone therapy, and serious surgeries such as mastectomies. But is it settled science? Recently, the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, and Finland have hit the brakes on immediate gender affirmation in children—to the point that the UK closed down its largest gender clinic as unsafe for patients. The NHS also concluded that instead of encouraging transition in minors, medics should take “a watchful approach” and that doctors have “to be mindful of the risks of an inappropriate gender transition and the difficulties that the child may experience in returning to the original gender role.” Such returns are known as “de-transitioning,” a phenomenon that receives far too little attention in the United States. But Wesley’s guest in this episode of Humanize is doing something about that. Jennifer Lahl directed, wrote, and co-produced an important documentary, The Detransition Diaries: Saving Our Sisters. Catherine Saxbe, who is board certified in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, wrote of the film: “In The Detransition Diaries, We follow several women unmasking a medical system that failed to treat the significant mental health problems which led them to seek radical gender transformation via hormones and amputations, but did not provide the happiness and self-acceptance they sought and were sold.” Lahl founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. Her writings have appeared in various publications including Cambridge University Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the American Journal of Bioethics. As a field expert, she is routinely interviewed on radio and television including ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR.


Ward Connerly on Racism, Critical Race Theory, and Individual Rights

Racism is profoundly evil and a clear violation of human exceptionalism by treating inherent equals unequally. Indeed, if we are to become a truly just society, racism must be countered by people of good will whenever it is expressed. At the same time, slavery is long gone and Jim Crow is dead, never to be mourned. So, the question must be asked: Has the United States finally attained the ideal of becoming a substantially equal society, in which people are judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin, or do we remain—as some insist—a systemically racist culture threatened by white supremacy? To be sure, Martin Luther King’s ideal has not yet been fully achieved. But the white nationalism accusation seems calculatedly overblown and may be a cover for imposing new policies that, if implemented, would divide us more profoundly over race than we have been for decades. These are fundamental questions. Equality is such an important goal that Wesley wanted to interview someone who has spent decades focusing on how to best promote a truly equal society for everyone, regardless of race. Humanize is honored that Ward Connerly has agreed to share his views on racism, individual rights, the question of affirmative action, and how best to achieve the ideals of the American experiment. Wardell Anthony “Ward” Connerly is a nationally renowned American political activist, social commentator, and businessman. He served as a University of California Regent between 1993-2005. He is also the founder and the chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute, a national non-profit organization in opposition to racial and gender preferences, and is the president of Californians for Equal Rights, a non-profit organization active in the state of California with a similar mission. In 1995, Connerly led the drive to get Proposition 209 on the ballot prohibiting race- and gender-based preferences in state hiring, contracting and state university admission. It passed with 54.6% of the vote.In 1997, Connerly supported a similar ballot measure in Washington state, Initiative 200, which would later pass with 58.2% of the vote. For the 2020 election, Connerly organized the coalition opposing Proposition 16, which would have removed the sections added to the California constitution after Proposition 209 was approved by the voters. In the end, 57% of the votes cast in the election opposed Proposition 16. Proposition 209 remains the law of the State of California. Connerly is also the author of Creating Equal: My Fight Against Race Preferences and Lessons from My Uncle James: Beyond Skin Color to the Content of Our Character America Isn’t a Racist Country – WSJ 1996 California Proposition 209 – Wikipedia OPRF to implement race-based grading system in 2022-23 school year | West Cook News


Robert J. Marks II on Artificial Intelligence, Transhumanism, and Whether Computers Will Ever Be More Than ‘Human’

In this episode of Humanize, Wesley focuses on the emerging computer technology known as artificial intelligence. Are we on the verge of the era of machines? Is AI destined to supplant most human endeavors and activities? Can a computer be deemed a “person” and should it be granted rights as part of the moral community. Will we ever attain immortality by uploading our minds into computers as transhumanists predict? And what the heck is AI anyway? Wesley’s guest, Dr. Robert J Marks II has the answers. An Electrical Engineer, Marks is the Distinguished Professor of Engineering in the Dept. of Engineering and Computer Science at Baylor University. He has worked in the field of artificial intelligence for more than three decades. His research supporters include NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the National Institutes of Health, the Army Research Lab, and the Office of Naval Research. He has consulted for Microsoft, and Boeing, and has authored several books and hundreds of peer-reviewed journal and conference papers. He is a fellow of the Optical Society and a Life Fellow of the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society. He is also the Director of the Discovery Institute’s Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence. His most recent book isNon-Computable You: What You Can Do that Artificial Intelligence Never Will. Robert J. Marks II | Discovery Institute Non-Computable You: What You Do That Artificial Intelligence Never Will: Marks II, Robert J.: 9781637120156: Books The Walter Bradley Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence | Discovery Institute ( Artificial Intelligence Programs Aren’t Human: Five Reasons Why | National Review


Ambassador Sam Brownback on the Threat to Religious Freedom in America

With Western society becoming morally polyglot and secular, religious freedom is becoming a major political clash point, and in the United States, a central front in what is sometimes called the culture war. Proponents of robust religious freedom protections see the “free exercise” of religion guaranteed in the Constitution as the “First Liberty.” But others view the same issue as an excuse to justify discrimination against the LGBT community and to thwart the free exercise of unfettered reproductive freedom. This controversy is so important to both our rights and duties as human beings that Wesley invited Sam Brownback—one of the world’s most engaged defenders of religious freedom–back for a return visit to Humanize to discuss the current scene. In the premier episode of this Podcast, Brownback discussed religious freedom internationally. Ambassador Sam Brownback on Human Rights and Religious Freedom | Humanize In this episode, he and Wesley take a deep dive into domestic religious freedom controversies. Sam Brownback served as the United States Ambassador at Large for international Religious Freedom from February, 2018 until January, 2021. Prior to that, he was elected governor of Kansas, an office he held from 2011 to 2018. He has also represented Kansas in the United States Senate and in the House of Representatives. While a member of the Senate, he worked actively on religious freedom issues in multiple countries and was a key sponsor of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. Brownback is also a founder and Chairman of the newly formed National Committee for Religious Freedom. NCRF ( ChasedAway — NCRF ( Opinion | Extreme Religious Liberty Is Undermining Public Health – The New York Times ( State Abortion Bans Face Religious-Liberty Lawsuits From the Left – WSJ NCRF Eight Guiding Principles on Religious Freedom: Religious freedom was guaranteed by our Founders in the First Amendment because they believed religion important for America – for the flourishing of citizens and the flourishing of our Republic. Religion is the universal human search for a greater-than-human source of being, reality, and ultimate meaning. To deny the right to engage in this search, or to live in accord with the truths discovered, is to deny the core of what it means to be human. In America, religious freedom encompasses the right to believe, or not to believe, in religious truths. For those who believe, the First Amendment guarantees them the right of religious free exercise, that is, the freedom to live according to their religious beliefs. All Americans are equally entitled to this right. The fundamental purpose of the ban on the establishment of religion is to encourage free exercise by limiting government power over religion. Religious free exercise entails the rights of conscience. No man or woman may be coerced by the state or any other human agent to believe or to act in ways contrary to his or her religious conscience. All American religious communities are equally entitled to the right of free exercise. Historically, the right of free exercise has entailed exemptions from laws in order to avoid undue burdens on religious conscience and practice. Protecting these exemptions is vitally important and must continue. But exemptions alone do not capture the full meaning of free exercise. Religious free exercise entails private rights, such as worship and internal governance. It also entails public rights, including: The rights of parents to raise their children consistent with the moral values taught by their religious traditions and to participate actively in the education of their children; The rights of students to express their religious and moral beliefs in public schools on a basis equal to the rights of expression by all students; The rights of business owners to operate their businesses in a manner consistent with their religious beliefs and the rights of employees to manifest their...


Dean Koontz on His Vocation as an Author, Art and Meaning in Life, and Human Exceptionalism

In episode one of the second season of Humanize, Wesley J. Smith’s guest is the internationally famous novelist Dean Koontz. Dean and Wesley discuss how he came to be an author, how life is filled with meaning, his art, the importance of human exceptionalism, the problem with transhumanism, and how Dean uses humor to further his plots and character development. Dean recalls his upbringing in an impoverished household that did not have running water until he was 11, how a high school English teacher changed his life, and his love for the use of the English language. He and Wesley also discuss the beauty of the human/dog relationship and his philanthropic support for Canine Companions for Independence, a school that trains service dogs to help people with disabilities lead independent lives. Any reader of Dean Koontz and supporter of human exceptionalism will want to listen to this fascinating interview with one of America’s most successful and prolific authors. Dean Koontz was born and raised in Pennsylvania and graduated from Shippensburg State College (now Shippensburg University). When he was a senior in college, he won an Atlantic Monthly fiction competition and has been writing ever since. Fourteen of his novels have risen to number one on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list, making him one of only a dozen writers ever to have achieved that milestone. His books are published in 38 languages and he has sold over 500 million copies to date. Dean is also a committed philanthropist a famous lover of dogs, and as the interview amply illustrates, a deep thinker with a big and tender heart. Related Dean Koontz – International Bestselling Master of Suspense Home – Canine Companions The Big Dark Sky: 9781542019927: Koontz, Dean: Books Dean Koontz Essays | St. Odd?: The Catholics Who Love Dean Koontz (


Catherine Glenn Foster on Abortion and the Dawning of a Post-Roe America

In 1973, nearly 50 years ago, the United States Supreme Court conjured a right to abortion in the Constitution, short-circuiting the democratic debate then ongoing in the states about whether to legalize pregnancy terminations, and if so, under what circumstances. Roe v Wade tore the country apart, launching the pro-life movement into national prominence, resulting in decades of committed democratic engagement and advocacy among abortion opponents to reverse Roe and return the struggle over the right to life to the democratic sphere. That decades-long effort bore fruit in the just decided Dobbs v Jackson, that will go down in the history books as the case that overturned Roe v Wade. But what happens now? With the federal courts officially neutral on abortion, how will the Pro-Life Movement seek to achieve its stated goal of convincing the entire country that life should be protected and respected from conception to natural death? Wesley’s guest to discuss the Dobbs decision and where the abortion debate goes from here is Catherine Glenn Foster, a lawyer and President and CEO of Americans United for Life. Foster describes how her own deeply regretted abortion put her on the path to pro-life advocacy, how the pro-life movement can change hearts, and explains the legal bases for Roe and its overturning in Dobbs. It’s a fascinating conversation with a deeply committed and knowledgeable activist. Foster has testified before various Congressional committees and advised federal and state bodies and representatives. She is an experienced keynote speaker and has spoken throughout North America, Europe, and Australia on legal and life-related issues, including debates and lectures at legal seminars on philosophy, political theory, history, constitutional jurisprudence, and public policy analysis. She and her work have appeared extensively in national media and have received awards, including one for an article on human rights relating to embryo adoption. Foster earned her J.D. at Georgetown University Law Center. She is admitted to the bar in Virginia and Washington D.C., as well as the U.S. Supreme Court; and various U.S. Courts of Appeals. She is a Senior Fellow in Legal Policy at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, and a fellow with the James Wilson Institute on Natural Rights and the American Founding. Related Catherine Glenn Foster | Americans United for Life The Twilight of Roe and the Dawning of an American Future Full of Hope | Americans United for Life How Assisted Suicide Euthanized Roe v. Wade | National Review


Robert Marbut on America’s Homelessness Crisis, Strategies for Uplifting the Homeless, and Effective Government Policies

Homelessness has reached crisis proportions. Few issues of human dignity are as heart wrenching as the wretched scenes in our most prosperous cities — San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle — where one can drive down main thoroughfares and be confronted with tent encampments lining streets that provide scant shelter for thousands of destitute people. The crisis is as multifaceted as it is seemingly intractable. What is the role of mental illness in the crisis? What about drug addiction? Is the rising cost of housing part of the problem, and if so, what can be done about it? What protections does society owe these vulnerable people based simply on their humanity and what responsibilities, if any, do they owe to greater society? It’s all such a mess, it is tempting to throw up one’s hands in despair. Thankfully, there are people willing to tackle the seemingly helpless cause. Wesley’s guest on this episode of Humanize, Robert Marbut, Jr., is one such man. Marbut is a renowned expert on homelessness and a senior fellow of Discovery Institute’s Center on Wealth & Poverty. He has a PhD in Political Behavior and American Political Institutions and his career has been marked by bipartisanship having served as Chief of Staff for San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros in the 1980s, as a White House Fellow under George H. W. Bush, and most recently as the Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness from 2019 to 2021 under both the Trump and Biden administrations. Additionally, he served on the Board of Directors of the United States Olympic Committee from 1992 to 2004. Marbut is a tenured professor of government at Northwest Vista College in San Antonio, TX. Economics | Discovery Institute ( Most Cities’ Responses To Homelessness Actually Enable Even More Homelessness USICH Expanding the Toolbox Biden Administration’s ‘Free Crack Pipe’ Scheme Hurts the Homeless and Harms Society Jim Palmer of the Orange County Rescue Mission on causes and cures for America’s homelessness crisis


Joseph Bottum on Cyber Ethics, Poetry, Culture, and Community

In this episode of Humanize, Wesley has a wide-ranging a conversation with his close friend Joseph Bottum, one of our most well read and original thinkers, a true intellectual in the best sense of that term. Their conversation ranges from the new field of cyber-ethics, to poetry, to the importance of cemeteries in maintaining human community, to how the laughter of a little girl he never met changed the course of Bottum’s life. Bottum is one of the nation’s most widely ranging thinkers, with hundreds of essays, reviews, poems, and short stories in publications from the Atlantic to the Washington Post. He is the former Books AND Arts Editor for the Weekly Standard and Editor of the religious journal, First Things. He is the author of the sociological study, An Anxious Age, and more recently, The Decline of the Novel. He is also a Christopher Award-winning writer of children’s verse. His popular writing ranges from obituaries in The Times of London to political essays in our leading journals, to a #1-bestselling sports essays in Amazon’s Kindle singles series, and numerous short stories. He is also a music lyricist, whose work has been performed by singers from Nashville to Carnegie hall. A native of south Dakota, Bottum holds a B.A. from Georgetown and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Boston College. He is an associate professor at Dakota State University, and currently directs the Classics Institute, a think tank at Dakota state university for the study of cyber-ethics, that views the computer revolution as an advance in civilization, while being cognizant of its effects. And if that’s not enough, Bottum is also the poetry editor for the NY Sun. Here are the links: CLASSICS Institute – Dakota State University ( The Immorality of Bad Software Design | Washington Examiner “The Morning Watch,” by Joseph Bottum – Mockingbird ( The Pig-Man Cometh | Washington Examiner An Anxious Age: The Post-Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of America – Kindle edition by Bottum, Joseph. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ The Decline of the Novel: Bottum, Joseph: 9781587311987: Books (


O. Carter Snead on Bioethics, ‘What It Means to Be Human,’ and the Pro-Life Movement After Dobbs

Perhaps no field in society has the naked power, as does bioethics, to impact our individual lives and those of the ones we love. Bioethics focuses on the challenges of mortality, how we care for the ill and vulnerable, and the rights and responsibilities that flow from being a member of the human family. The problem is that there is little agreement about how to define these issues and the policies that best promote human thriving. The mainstream view in bioethics rejects the intrinsic dignity of human life — and supports policies in accord with that view. The minority of the field argues that being human is — in and of itself — a crucial objective category to properly understanding our rights that compels us us to undertake crucial responsibilities toward each other, society, and the world at large. Wesley’s guest in this episode is, Dr. O. Carter Snead, is one of the world’s premier thinkers in the latter camp. He is the William P. and Hazel B White Director of the Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture, at Notre Dame University, where he also serves as a professor of law and concurrent professor of Political Science. He is also a fellow at the Hastings Center and a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, the principle bioethics advisory body to Pope Francis. He has written more than 60 journal articles, book chapters, and essays. His scholarly works appear in such publications as the New York University Law Review, the Harvard Law Review Forum, the Vanderbilt Law Review, Constitutional Commentary, and the Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law and Ethics. Snead served as general counsel to The President’s Council on Bioethics. In 2008, he was appointed by the director-general of UNESCO to a four-year term on the International Bioethics Committee. The IBC is the only bioethics commission in the world with a global mandate. Snead is the author of What It Means to Be Human: The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics, which was named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the “Ten Best Books of 2020.” O. Carter Snead | The Law School | University of Notre Dame ( What It Means to Be Human: The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics – Kindle edition by Snead, O. Carter. Politics & Social Sciences Kindle eBooks @ Protect the Weak and Vulnerable: The Primacy of the Life Issue – Public Discourse ( To heal America’s wounds, we need to recall that we belong to one another (