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Recently, California state legislators proposed a bill which would outlaw counseling—even that which is freely entered—for anyone who wanted help changing their unwanted same-sex attraction. We have seen such efforts before, but this one is noteworthy for how expansive it is—it covers individuals, associations, and “other group[s],” in addition to traditional businesses. As Alliance Defending Freedom points out, it could even implicate churches: “It could be a violation [of this proposed law] if a pastor encourages a congregant to visit the church bookstore to purchase books that help people address sexual issues, perhaps including the Bible itself, which teaches about the importance of sexual purity within the confines of marriage between a man and woman.” While outlawing such pastoral advice (the bill would consider it fraudulent “goods and services”), the bill completely endorses advice designed to cement same-sex attraction.Masquerading as consumer protection and medical oversight, this is simply blatant and open discrimination against one side of our society’s debate on sexual ethics. Yet sin wants to suppress the truth, and even the idea that someone can help someone else change their sexual attractions implies that what one may be doing is not all good and healthy. This threat implicates not just businesses and Christians in the public eye, but all Christians who hold to a biblical position on these issues. It won’t matter how one approaches the issue. We should always speak the truth in love because that’s the right thing to do, but that won’t exempt us from being targeted. Our biblical beliefs themselves are the target. It is crucial that all Christians in America understand this social dynamic.This legislative development in California echoes the situation involving Metro City Church in Michigan, which took heavy criticism for offering a program to help teens who are questioning their sexuality walk through their situation from a biblical perspective. The program approached the issue very cautiously—and was defined by merely discussing the matter of sexuality by looking at what the Bible had to say about it. Yet in response, numerous activists subjected the church and its pastor, Jeremy Schossau, to vitriolic online attacks, criticism, and threats (including potentially criminal behavior), and two state legislators have called for the church to be “investigated” for offering “conversion therapy.”While we have seen such vitriol often directed at those who advocate a biblical worldview on this issue, direct targeting of churches and pastors has been relatively rare. Yet this incident serves as a reminder that many of the religious freedom struggles we are facing will eventually reach any church which teaches an orthodox biblical position on questions of sexuality.Moreover, in this case, nothing remotely controversial was occurring; the church was just trying to go to the Bible for answers on this topic. Along with the proposed California legislation, these developments make clear that the problem is not the way something is said, but the Christian position on these issues itself is what is opposed.We must defend the ability of pastors and their churches to decide what is said in church . . . not the government. The First Amendment makes absolutely clear that the government has no power to tell churches what advice they can give or require a license to give that advice, and the First Amendment to the Constitution still guarantees the freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion. Additionally, the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prevents the government from assessing theology and targeting the theological beliefs it doesn’t like. This is the current law, but we must give voice to our rights to see them protected.After the Supreme Court constitutionalized same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, many wondered whether pastors would be pressured into performing same-sex marriages. Perhaps the bigger question now is whether they will be threatened into compromising their larger biblical perspective on sexuality.FRC is standing with Pastor Jeremy, and attempting to raise awareness of the religious freedom implications of this situation. To stand with Pastor Jeremy, please sign our petition at FRC.org/Metro to tell these legislators they cannot prohibit this pastor or his church from exercising their First Amendment rights.For more information on Pastor Jeremy’s situation, please see:FRC Washington Update articles:Michigan Wants to Investigate Church for... Ministering!Church Nightmare a Wake-up Call on ‘Tolerance’Michigan Pastors to State: Leave Our Churches Alone! Also: Michigan Pastor Jeremy Schossau on “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins”FRC’s Randy Wilson on “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins”Pastors stand with Pastor JeremyOne arrest made for threat against the churchFRC social media video with our petition
Across the globe this week, families are taking the time to show what a gift it is to have their brother, sister, daughter, or son with Down syndrome in their lives. It was just recently that Washington Post opinion columnist Ruth Marcus candidly stated that she would abort her own child if she knew from prenatal testing that they would have Down syndrome:There is a new push in antiabortion circles to pass state laws aimed at barring women from terminating their pregnancies after the fetus has been determined to have Down syndrome… This is a difficult subject to discuss because there are so many parents who have — and cherish — a child with Down syndrome… I can say without hesitation that…I would have terminated those pregnancies had the testing come back positive. I would have grieved the loss and moved on.For many, this sounded a little too honest and just down right offensive—especially for ranking Republican congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who has a son with Down syndrome. She took to Twitter to take Ruth Marcus to task (respectfully) to illustrate all the joys and happiness that loving families experience with their Down syndrome children.Both Rodgers and Marcus acknowledged that over two-thirds of women in America choose to have an abortion in those circumstances but according to Marcus, Rodgers’ happy face response is not how the majority of women may feel about having a child with Down syndrome. In a follow-up piece responding to Rodgers, Marcus highlights the emails she received from women confiding in her that they would’ve made the decision to abort and support a woman’s right to choose. One woman wrote:I’d never knowingly bring another Down syndrome child into our lives … My son turned 50 last September. He lives in a group home, has worked ... for 29 years and has a good life, with lots of fun and quite a bit of independence. My life has been filled with advocacy for those with developmental disabilities. We are the lucky ones with our son. Nevertheless, I would fight to the dying breath for a woman’s right to choose.Marcus says women like this represent the “silenced majority.” I don’t how true that is, but both women—the one who chooses to keep her child with Down syndrome and the one who doesn’t—should not be ignored. Everyone dreams for their lives and their children’s lives to be healthy, happy, and prosperous. I doubt any mother with a child that has Down syndrome or any disability would tell you it’s easy and that if they could they would do anything to make their child’s life easier and happier. But l believe Marcus’s words bring attention to a deeper issue in our society than simply the abortion of the disabled.I’m grateful for Ruth Marcus’s audacious opinion piece because I believe it forces us to really think about what we may treasure most: “the good life.” It speaks to where we are placing our hope and begs the question: is it better to have no life if it can’t be the good life? Why does it matter if they will be born with challenges or discomfort? Is it better to die than to be born with difficulties in life?In the aftermath of Roe v. Wade, we as a society have tended to emphasize the definition of a good life as one that is easy and comfortable, one without much self-sacrifice. However, the end goal of life should not be comfort but goodness, and sometimes goodness is not always pleasant. It’s the pursuit of what is good (or the lack thereof) that shapes a society. Our laws should reflect what is naturally good, and intrinsic to this is protecting and valuing all innocent life made in the image of God. We do not seek such virtuousness so we can boast of our own achieved morality; we instead pursue goodness because it draws us closer to God—by understanding who he is and who he wants us to be.We should not live strictly by the creed “you only live once,” as many pop stars have mistakenly sang as an excuse for hedonism. Jesus talked about where your treasures are, there the desires of your heart will also be (Matthew 6:21), so we should store our treasures in heaven where they cannot be destroyed. In this life, we will have troubles—this is not a utopia. The goal of this life is to prepare for the next, and that will give us strength to deal with today. Are we building our life on a firm foundation of truth so that when bad or unpleasant things happen we can stand strong, or are we only putting stock in what we can get out of this life? If we abandon the pursuit of God, it will quickly be replaced with the pursuit of the good life.Disability, discomfort, or making personal sacrifices does not automatically mean we will have no chance of a “good” life. In fact, the exact opposite occurs when, in those difficult moments, we come face to face with a divine strength and help. I say this not to bash anyone for the decisions they’ve made but to explain that the comfortable life is not necessarily the good life, and this life is not all there is. The natural law is written on our hearts and convicts us to pursue that which is good, and that will in its truest form lead us to God.
“For all the progress since 1973, I just know in my heart of hearts that this will be the generation that restores life in America.” These inspiring words were spoken by our very own Vice President Mike Pence at a pro-life luncheon held on February 27th.Of course, NARAL didn’t miss an opportunity to retort back with their antiquated and overused rhetoric to accuse the Vice President of trying to “normalize” the idea that “women don’t get to…control their own bodies.”Pence is not trying to normalize anything except the right to be given a chance to live, which we have denied to nearly 60 million children since Roe v. Wade.These days Pence and other pro-life advocates don’t really have to use slick marketing gimmicks to change people’s minds on abortion when science is pretty much already doing that for us, so Pence may be right—this could be the generation that sees the sanctity of life restored, given Americans’ changing opinions. A recent Marist Poll on “Americans’ Opinions on Abortions” found that:Only 12 percent of Americans think abortion should be available to a woman any time during her pregnancy.56 percent believe abortion is morally wrong.Now more than ever, Americans are changing the way they feel about abortion and want more restrictions on obtaining an abortion.When the first oral arguments of the Roe v. Wade case occurred in 1971, the attorney for Jane Roe argued that since obtaining an abortion when the life of the mother was at risk was already legal in the Texas statue (where the original Jane Roe appeal was heard), then it was not the child who was the victim but the mother. She argued further that since there was no acknowledgment of death by the state, it was safe to conclude the baby should be treated as biological waste:There is no requirement of -- even though the State, in its brief, points out the development of the fetus that in an eight-week period, the same State, does not require any death certificate, or any formalities of birth.The product of such a conception would be handled merely as a pathological specimen.The “it’s just a clump of tissues” argument has a long history. What Roe. v Wade couldn’t predict was the advancement of scientific technology capable of detecting the intricate design inherent in the unborn child and the astonishing level of development taking place earlier and earlier in the womb.The same Marist Poll asked Americans the question of when life begins: 47 percent said “at conception."Contrast this to what presiding Justice Blackmun wrote in 1973 in the majority opinion in Roe:We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.There’s no “speculation” anymore. Science, in its respective fields of embryology and bioethics, has given us breakthrough answers. Scientists within the past few years have detected that a bright flash of light erupts when a sperm fuses with an egg, signaling when human life begins.In addition, we are now seeing that early-stage embryos with abnormalities can still develop into healthy babies if given the chance to live. Thanks to 4D ultrasound technology, we can see an unborn child at 14 weeks respond to the sound of music. Previously, many believed a baby in the womb could not hear music until 26 weeks.At 20 weeks we can scientifically prove that a baby has developed a mature enough nervous system to feel pain. The Marist Poll indicates that 63 percent of Americans now support a ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and 17 states have already enacted some form of a “Pain-Capable bill” to protect unborn children who are able to feel pain from the brutal abortion methods used at this stage.Even MSNBC “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough recently had to admit: “You are seeing poll numbers move on abortion for banning abortions after 20 weeks.” He went on:Why? Because for the past decade, younger Americans have been going in and they have been seeing 3-D imagery where they can look into the womb. If some activist said, ‘Your child is a lump,’ I must tell you, I’ve had four kids, I’ve never once had a doctor go to me, ‘we’ve got your lump, let me show you your lump, look at your lump’s profile.’ This is an example of science, technology changing that is going to change the politics of abortion. This is an issue that culturally is going to change. Americans, younger voters are going to become more conservative on abortion because they see their child very early on in the womb.It is a marvel to see science catch up to where the morality of most Americans has always been, and where truth will always stand.These scientific discoveries are just the tip of the iceberg and will inevitably continue to evolve. Many more Americans may begin to doubt the weight of the words from the seven Roe v. Wade Justices who declared abortion the law of the land when the evidence of unborn life right before their eyes cannot be denied.
After a school shooter murdered 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, the calls by liberals for new gun control laws were predictable, and received blanket coverage in the mainstream media.Gun rights activists, in another unsurprising response, resisted efforts to blame the weapon rather than the killer, promoting instead ideas like arming teachers to defend their students.I’ve been heartened to see that a number of pro-family conservatives have pointed out a third factor that must be addressed when examining violence in our society—the role of family structure, and specifically the negative effects of fatherlessness on boys and young men. The Parkland shooter (whose name I choose not to publicize) was fatherless, just like many other perpetrators of mass murders. Yet most of the media have not focused on this issue.Susan L. M. Goldberg was one of the first to raise the issue, at PJ Media. Former Sen. Rick Santorum also raised it in a CNN interview. Unfortunately, one statistic that was cited multiple times turned out to be unverified (at this writing, it lives on in a headline at Patheos: “Of the 27 Deadliest Mass Shooters, 26 of Them Had One Thing in Common.”) Paul Kengor, a scrupulous scholar from Grove City College, apologized for having cited this number in a piece in Crisis Magazine. After studying the available (albeit incomplete) data more closely, Kengor said that[W]e found maybe four or five of the 27 shooters that we could definitively conclude (without doubt) had been raised in an intact family, or a family that included the biological dad at home, or a biological father who was consistently at home. . . .At this point, however, what is clear is the vast majority of shooters came from broken families without a consistent biological father throughout their rearing and development. Very few had good, stable, present dads.(I would also note that the CNN list of the “deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history,” starting in 1949 and apparently first compiled in 2013, has now been updated to include 34 incidents, not 27. Only four of those, however, have been in schools, and another three at colleges.)What is perhaps more compelling than the anecdotal evidence from the most extreme events is the overall data regarding the link between fatherlessness and crime and violence. Here is edited data I accessed from the National Fatherhood Initiative in 2015:Father Factor in Emotional and Behavioral ProblemsChildren born to single mothers show higher levels of aggressive behavior than children born to married mothers. Source: Journal of Marriage and Family, 2007. . . .Father Factor in CrimeA study of 109 juvenile offenders indicated that family structure significantly predicts delinquency. Source: Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 2000.[H]igher social encounters and frequent communication with nonresident biological fathers decreased adolescent delinquency. Source: Child Development, 2007.[A] more positive father-child relationship predicts a reduced risk of engagement in multiple first risky behaviors. The positive influence of the father-child relationship on risk behaviors seemed to be stronger for male than for female adolescents. Source: Journal of Family Issues, 2006.[I]f the number of fathers is low in a neighborhood, then there is an increase in acts of teen violence. Source: Journal of Marriage and Family, 2005.In a study of INTERPOL crime statistics of 39 countries, it was found that single parenthood ratios were strongly correlated with violent crimes. Source: Cross-Cultural Research, 2004.NFI also offers these graphics as free downloads: An infographic from the National Center for Fathering reports the following:Fatherless children are:11 times more likely to have violent behavior20 times more likely to be incarceratedand:70% of adolescents in juvenile correctional facilities come from fatherless homes60% of rapists were raised in fatherless homesIt’s clear we have a problem of what we might call “prodigal dads” in our society. (Writer Doug Mainwaring used that term in a piece last year in Public Discourse, “May I Please Speak to My Daddy?”)More powerful, though, than statistics may be a three-minute film produced recently by students at Gordon College, an evangelical school in Massachusetts (full disclosure: my son is one of those students). If you want to illustrate the pain of fathers and children who are separated, consider sharing “Prodigal.”
Dear Friends,A man who lives alone and completely off the grid in the British Columbian woods is the subject of a short documentary I happened upon recently. Dag Aabye is 76 years old and spends his days clearing and building trails to run on so that he can train for 80-mile ultramarathon races. “I’m perfectly imperfect,” he says. “If you’re perfectly imperfect, you always have to work on yourself … tomorrow, I want to be a better person than today.” These are sage words for us all. But then Aabye says something interesting: “And if you work on yourself, you don’t have time to talk about other people or worry about other people … I don’t try to understand people. They do their thing, and I leave them alone. The only person you want to understand, really, is yourself.”In our modern lives that seem built around being “plugged in” —to the internet, our phones, TV, etc. —it can sometimes be tempting to make a radical break from “the rat race” and “break free” so that we can live a life like Aabye’s, one of complete separation from worldly concerns so that we can constantly search for ultimate meaning in which we only have ourselves to worry about. There are indeed important lessons to be learned from a life like Aabye’s—instead of gossiping about others, improve yourself; instead of wasting time surfing Facebook or cable TV, live with purpose and creativity to accomplish meaningful goals.But underneath the surface of words like “I don’t try to understand people” and “They do their thing, and I leave them alone” is a sense of loss. In a way, it’s an admission of defeat, of not attempting the difficult task of empathy and sacrifice for our fellow man. Ultimately, it’s an indirect dismissal of the greatest act of love we can ever perform in life: to lay down our lives for another (John 15:13). As tempting as it is to think of a life like Dag Aabye’s as one of ultimate “freedom,” Christ showed us that true freedom lies in self-sacrifice for the other. As Nathanael Blake has written recently, even something as seemingly ordinary as a man and a woman staying true to their marriage vows “is an act of defiance against all of the difficulties of life, from the catastrophic to the mundane. In marriage, men and women promise themselves to one another, and tell fate to go to hell. The traditional promises that solemnize a marriage are some of the greatest assertions of human agency, and therefore of human dignity, possible. Our freedom is not realized in the possibility that we might do anything, but in doing what we have said we will do.”Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council FRC ArticlesWhat an Idaho Federal Judge Should Have Said About Transgender Birth Certificates – Peter SpriggSixth Circuit Shows Why SOGIs Are a Threat to Religious Freedom – Travis WeberWomen Speak: A Panel Discussion on Real Issues that Women Face TodayShe Persisted: Star Parker’s Mission to End AbortionGentle Strength: Why I’m Not a Feminist – Cassidy RichRemarks by Tony Perkins at the 2018 NRB Convention Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareChristian Bakers Appeal Fine for Refusing to Make Cake for Same-Sex Wedding – Anugrah Kumar, The Christian PostFourth Circuit Denies En Banc Rehearing in Bladensburg Veterans Memorial Case – First LibertyReport: Southern Poverty Law Center ignores anti-Semitic hate crimes on campus – Caleb Parke, Fox NewsCondo Bans Senior Citizen’s Bible Study, Christian Music – ToddStarnes.comChristian group sues Michigan university after it is kicked off campus – Caleb Parke, Fox NewsSchool District Bans Baptist Chaplain From Praying with Football Team – ToddStarnes.comCollege student kicked out of class for telling professor there are only two genders – Rick Lessard, Fox6161% of College Students Says Campus Climate Deters Conservative Speech – Tom Ciccotta, BreitbartPa. County Continues Fight Against Atheists' Lawsuit Demanding Cross Be Removed From Seal – Michael Gryboski, The Christian PostInternational Religious FreedomMike Pompeo's Nomination is 'Very Positive for the Cause of International Religious Freedom' – George Thomas, CBN NewsRemains of 40 Iraqi Christians With Their Crosses Found in Mass Grave – Anugrah Kumar, The Christian PostChristian Parents Praying for Son on Death Row in Pakistan for 'Blasphemy' – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostMilitary Religious FreedomShould a 'secular humanist' serve as Navy chaplain? Absolutely not – Sen. Roger Wicker, Fox News LifeAbortionDiscriminating against people like my son, with Down syndrome, must end – Cassy Fiano, Live ActionAbortion Clinics Have Lost 3 Million Customers to This Pro-Life Helpline – Jay Hobbs, LifeNewsTo Call Abortion ‘Health Care’ Defies Logic – Bishop Daniel E. Thomas, National Catholic RegisterA Miracle Story: Baby Saved After Mother Had Already Started Abortion – Hank Berrien, The Daily WireAbortion worker pressured by other workers to abort her wanted baby – Sarah Terzo, Live ActionMichigan pro-lifers now saving babies from within a former Planned Parenthood – Katie Franklin, LifeSiteNewsKentucky House OKs bill to ban abortion procedure after 11 weeks – Bruce Schreiner, Associated PressHuman Rights Groups Thank U.S. for Rolling Back Abortion in Impending Report – Austin Ruse, C-FamWhy Is the Abortion Industry Run by Women? – Rebekah Merkle, Desiring GodAdoptionVideo: Family Adopts an Abandoned Newborn Baby – Sarah Zagorski, LifeNewsA 'perfect' ending for four Kansas siblings seeking adoption brings judge to tears – Rick Montgomery, Chicago TribuneBioethicsThe real Down syndrome problem: Accepting genocide – George F. Will, The Washington PostEuthanasia is Now Being Performed ... on Prisoners – Michael Cook, Intellectual TakeoutAppeals court: Hospital can yank baby Alfie Evans’ life support against parents’ wishes – Claire Chretien, LifeSiteNewsVSED: A New Form of Assisted Suicide – Richard Becker, CrisisNetherlands Euthanized 252 Mentally Ill People in 2017 – Alex Schadenberg, LifeNewsBasic Bioethics: What Christians should know about abortifacients – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission FamilyEconomics/EducationTax Cuts Already Have America’s Small Businesses Moving Again – Chris Stansbury, The Daily SignalSaving men in the heartland: The case for place-based employment policies – The Brookings InstitutionMarriageThe Romance of Ordinary Marriage – Nathanael Blake, Public DiscourseDon’t Miss the Joy of Family Life – Justin Coulson, Family Studies7 Questions Every Husband Should Be Asking Himself – Christopher Greco, RelevantGod, Why Won’t You Fulfill Our Desire for Children? – Michael McAfee, The Gospel CoalitionHow to Increase Participation in Marriage and Relationship Education – Stephen F. Duncan, Family StudiesFaith/Character/Culture3 Things A Father Must Teach His Son So That His Son Doesn't End Up Dead Or In Prison – Matt Walsh, The Daily WireYou Must Fight Hard for Peace – Jon Bloom, Desiring GodWhat Your Kids Need from You – J. D. Greear, The Gospel CoalitionWhat Jordan Peterson Has to Say About Motherhood Might Surprise You – Ashley McGuire, Family Studies9 ways to establish sexual norms for your children before the world does – J.D. Thorne, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionThe Lost Art of Intentionality – Tod Worner, Word On FireThe Christian’s Hammer – Rob Schwarzwalder, The StreamHuman SexualityGuttmacher Report Misleads on Abstinence-Only Education – Michael J. New, National ReviewSex Change: Physically Impossible, Psychosocially Unhelpful, and Philosophically Misguided – Ryan T. Anderson, Public DiscourseBisexual Confessions, Ex-Gay Testimonies Receive Scorn – Dan Delzell, The Christian PostWhy He Doesn’t Call Himself Gay – Rachel Gilson, The Gospel CoalitionHistoric Stand? Kansas GOP Affirms 'God's Design for Gender' – Heather Sells, CBN NewsNew Resource Lovingly Presents the Truth About Homosexuality – Kathy Schiffer, National Catholic RegisterHuman TraffickingSurvivors of Human Trafficking, in Their Own Words – Rebecca J. Rosen, The AtlanticThe House acts to fight against sex trafficking – Josh Wester, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionDoes #MeToo Have the Power to Bring Down Corporatized Sex Trafficking? – Lisa L. Thompson, National Center On Sexual ExploitationPornographyWhat to do when you can’t “unsee” pornography – Kathleen N. Hattrup, AleteiaRestricting Online Porn Is Focus of Rhode Island Bill – National Catholic Register10 Things To Avoid Saying To Someone Struggling To Give Up Porn – Fight the New Drug
On March 5th, a federal court in Idaho ordered that state to begin allowing persons who identify as transgender to obtain revised birth certificates which would designate them as male or female on the basis of their “gender identity” rather than their biological sex at birth.This decision by U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale was both legally and logically wrong.Ironically, Judge Dale’s written decision contains within it all the facts necessary for a reasonable decision—but she ignored them. Let me begin by quoting two key passages from her actual decision (most source citations omitted):As explained above, IDHW [Idaho Department of Health and Welfare] interprets Idaho vital statistics law to prohibit changes to the listed sex unless there was an error in recording the sex at birth. Notably, IDHW asserts that Idaho birth certificates reflect the “sex” of a person at birth and do not contain a “gender marker” designation. From this interpretation comes IDHW’s policy of automatically and categorically denying applications made by transgender individuals for the purpose of changing the listed sex to reflect their gender identity.2. Biological Sex, Gender Identity, TransitionThere is scientific consensus that biological sex is determined by numerous elements, which can include chromosomal composition, internal reproductive organs, external genitalia, hormone prevalence, and brain structure. [Footnote: The American Psychology [sic] Association defines sex as “one’s biological status as either male or female” that “is associated primarily with physical attributes such as chromosomes, hormone prevalence, and external and internal anatomy.” Transgender People, Gender Identity and Gender Expression, American Psychological Association (2018), http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/transgender.aspx.] Sex determinations made at birth are most often based on the observation of external genitalia alone. For most people, this determination aligns with gender identity and gender expression. Of importance here, however, are instances where it does not.Gender identity, also known as core gender, is the intrinsic sense of being male, female, or an alternative gender. Transgender is an adjective used to designate “a person whose identity does not confirm unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender.” Put another way, transgender is an adjective used to describe a person who has a gender identity that differs, in varying degrees, from the sex observed and assigned at birth. . . .LEGAL FRAMEWORK 1. The Equal Protection ClauseThe Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires that all similarly situated people be treated alike. Equal protection requirements restrict state legislative action that is inconsistent with bedrock constitutional guarantees, such as equality in treatment. An equal protection claim is established when plaintiffs show they were treated differently than other similarly situated people. Yet, states are given significant leeway to establish laws to effectively govern citizens and remedy societal ills. Because of this, successful equal protection claims additionally require plaintiffs to show the difference in treatment was the result of intentional or purposeful discrimination.The whole case could have been settled at this point. Here is what Judge Dale could have said—but, unfortunately, did not:Since there remains a scientific consensus that “sex” is an inherently different characteristic from “gender identity” or “core gender,” (the former being biological, the latter psychological), and since Idaho birth certificates note only the “sex” of the individual and not the “gender” or “gender identity,” the plaintiffs’ claims fail.It is understandable that plaintiffs may experience hardships as a result of their “gender” or “gender identity” not matching the “sex” listed on their birth certificates. It is understandable that they might prefer that all identity documents, including birth certificates, should reflect only the male or female designation that they prefer as their “gender identity.” However, these are concerns that they must take to the legislature, not the courts.For now, Idaho has made the policy decision that birth certificates should reflect the “sex” of the child, defined in biological terms. In the vast majority of cases, this is readily identifiable (and in the rare exceptions, Idaho law and policy already allows correction if the biological sex is identified incorrectly). This decision certainly has a rational basis, since it is hard to even conceptualize how anyone could identify or assign a “gender” or “gender identity” (as distinct from “sex”) to a newborn infant.It would be within the power of the legislature to authorize retroactive changes to birth certificates in the way the plaintiffs desire. Some legislators may see an individual’s psychological “gender identity” as a more fundamental aspect of who the person is, and may favor the policy change requested by plaintiffs as a way of alleviating the inconvenience and suffering endured by transgender individuals. However, some legislators may see an individual’s biological “sex” as a more fundamental aspect of who the person is, and may prefer to preserve the integrity and accuracy of the birth certificate as a permanent factual record of the individual’s biological sex at birth.This is a policy choice that only the legislature can make. The Constitution of the United States does not speak to the issue one way or the other. Plaintiffs argue that Idaho’s current policy violates the constitutional guarantee of “the equal protection of the laws.” Yet this claim surely fails, since the current policy treats everyone alike. All persons have their biological sex recorded at birth on their birth certificate. No one has the right to alter this portion of the birth certificate. And it cannot be claimed that this policy is “the result of intentional or purposeful discrimination” against transgender persons, since the policy was in place long before there was any legal or legislative awareness of “gender dysphoria.”Plaintiffs may argue that the “unequal” treatment consists of the fact that transgender people are denied a birth certificate on which the designation of “sex” corresponds to their “gender identity,” while non-transgender people have birth certificates in which the two aspects of identity match. However, this situation is simply the result of the individual’s unusual transgender condition itself—not any intentional or irrational discrimination on the part of the state.Case dismissed.Unfortunately, this judge substituted her own hazy (but politically correct) philosophy for such a straightforward reading of the law. This philosophy does not reflect that “our medical understanding of biological sex and gender has advanced,” as Judge Dale asserts. In fact, her declaration that “there is medical consensus that gender identity plays a role in an individual’s determination of their own sex” is directly contradicted by her earlier acknowledgment that “sex” and “gender identity” remain defined by major medical and psychological associations as two different things. What her decision reflects is not the latest in medical science, but is instead a purely metaphysical view that the mind is everything and the body is nothing when it comes to deciding who is male or female.She is entitled to hold (or blindly accept) this trendy opinion, but she has no right or power to impose it as law upon the state of Idaho.
Last week, in EEOC v. R.G. &. G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the religious freedom claim of a funeral home owner who wanted to run his business in accordance with his faith—and did not want to accede to the “gender identity” discrimination claim of an employee who desired to remain an employee while living out his transgendered lifestyle as he saw fit. The case is still ongoing (the appeals court ordered the case remanded for a lower court to continue sorting out), but there’s a very real possibility that business owner Thomas Rost may now be forced out of the marketplace rather than violate his faith.This is the first federal court case dealing with a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) claim in the context of a sexual orientation and/or gender identity (SOGI) nondiscrimination claim (the only other such case is the state-level case of print shop owner Blaine Adamson in Kentucky), and SOGI came out the victor. The concerns of those who have warned of the religious freedom threat of SOGIs are validated by this decision.The Sixth Circuit, in an opinion authored by Judge Karen Moore, got its analysis wrong on several levels. First, the court claimed it was somehow very clear that Title VII sex discrimination prohibitions include “gender identity”—despite the fact that no court considered such a possibility for decades. Even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginburg, writing about the proposed Equal Rights Amendment decades ago, did not take “gender identity” under consideration as she dismissed concerns that sex nondiscrimination provisions could force bathrooms to be opened up to the opposite biological sex. So when the Sixth Circuit says “[n]or can much be gleaned from the fact that . . . statutes, such as the Violence Against Women Act, expressly prohibit discrimination on the basis of ‘gender identity,’ while Title VII does not,” it isn’t very convincing. If it was so clear, no court would ever have rejected the notion that “gender identity” falls under sex discrimination—yet many have.The court continued to err when it analyzed the religious freedom issue here. The funeral home relied on RFRA as a defense to the SOGI claim, asserting that a sincere religious belief had been substantially burdened. At that point, the EEOC could only have prevailed if it had a compelling government interest which was accomplished through the least restrictive means.Judge Moore incredibly (and erroneously) claimed it was not a “substantial burden” on religious exercise to “forc[e] [the Funeral Home] to violate Rost’s faith,” which “would significantly pressure Rost to leave the funeral industry and end his ministry to grieving people.” Yet it is an elementary principle of RFRA analysis to observe there is a substantial burden on someone who is told they must compromise their beliefs in order to retain their job. The court accepted that Rost sincerely believed he should not be “directly involved in supporting the idea that sex is a changeable social construct rather than an immutable God-given gift,” but then summarily dismissed his concern, concluding that “tolerating [his employee’s] understanding of . . . sex and gender identity is not tantamount to supporting it.”The court tries to rely on lower federal court adjudications in the HHS mandate contraceptive litigation, claiming that “[m]ost circuits, including this one, have recognized that a party can sincerely believe that he is being coerced into engaging in conduct that violates his religious convictions without actually, as a matter of law, being so engaged.” Yet this second-guessing of religious beliefs has been roundly repudiated by the Supreme Court in Employment Division v. Smith, where the Court observed decades ago that “[r]epeatedly and in many different contexts, we have warned that courts must not presume to determine the place of a particular belief in a religion or the plausibility of a religious claim.” Moreover, despite citing HHS mandate cases from the lower courts, Judge Moore skips over the fact that when the Supreme Court handled those cases on appeal in Zubik v. Burwell, the justices told the parties to come to a resolution while honoring the religious exercise at issue, rather than flatly dismissing the substantial burden on the religious claimants.After concluding there was no substantial burden on religious exercise, Judge Moore didn’t need to continue her analysis, but did so anyway, offering her view that it was a compelling interest to force the funeral home to accede to the transgendered employee’s demands: “Failing to enforce Title VII against the Funeral Home means the EEOC would be allowing a particular person—Stephens—to suffer discrimination, and such an outcome is directly contrary to the EEOC’s compelling interest in combating discrimination in the workforce.” The court did not want to “hoist automatically Rost’s religious interests above other compelling governmental concerns.” The Sixth Circuit then concluded that uniform enforcement of sex nondiscrimination provisions without religious exceptions was the least restrictive means to accomplish this compelling government interest of eradicating discrimination.What are we to make of this? Aside from realizing that judges are not exempt from the temptation to arrive at a conclusion and then craft reasoning to help one get there, the court’s opinion shows us that businesses seeking religious freedom protections need to state clearly and regularly their religious nature (though part of a separate ministerial exemption analysis, the court did hold the business’s lack of numerous and overt religious indicia against it).More relevant for our current religious freedom concerns, this case shows the inability of RFRA to adjudicate modern religious freedom disputes with certainty, as the statute allows judges the leeway to craft conclusions of their own liking, an even bigger danger when issues of sexuality—on which they want to be on the “right side of history”—are involved in the case.Finally, and perhaps most significantly, this opinion demonstrates that when RFRA and SOGI claims intersect, the SOGI claims will likely win (and will almost certainly win in the hands of judges under social and cultural pressure to reach a certain result), thus vindicating many who have claimed that SOGI laws themselves are a threat to religious freedom.
In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8th, FRC hosted a panel discussion with women staffers to discuss a variety of issues that women face today.In a wide-ranging and animated conversation, topics included how the modern feminist agenda intentionally excludes conservative women, the trials and joys of being a stay-at-home mom, the challenges and opportunities of being a working mom, the value of flexibility in workplace policies, the role that husbands have in empowering and enabling their wives to achieve their goals, how the #MeToo movement has exposed ugly realities about the dynamics of power and a Hollywood culture of self-indulgence, and more.Some fascinating questions are explored here. Can women have it all—both at home and at work? Is personal identity more important than ideals? Can society expect men to treat women with respect when the reality of biological sex itself is being challenged? How can the conservative movement and Christian ministry do more to give women opportunities to succeed and to lead? Don’t miss this enlightening and candid discussion.
March is Women’s History Month, and this year’s theme is “Nevertheless, She Persisted.” One shining example of this fortitude is Star Parker. FRC recently spoke with the Founder and President of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE), who stood strong in the face of a personal attack by Rep. Stephen Cohen (D-Tenn.) during a congressional Subcommittee hearing on the pro-life “Heartbeat Bill” last November that went viral.Star spoke about her experience of breaking free from a life of crime, drugs, reckless sexual activity, and abortion through God’s help, and how it inspired her to share her experience with others and to start CURE in order to work for pro-life, pro-family public policies in the places that need it most: underprivileged urban areas that suffer not just from economic poverty but also suffer from spiritual poverty.As Star said, “All of the economic problems in our society today connect to abortion.” That’s why her organization CURE is focused on ending abortion through three primary strategies: a clergy program to help educate pastors so they can in turn educate their congregations about abortion, a policy center that works to change abortion law, and a media center to get the pro-life message out. View the Facebook Live video of her chat with FRC’s Patrina Mosely to learn more about CURE’s mission.
The feminist movement is in full swing and nothing seems to be stopping it. Women are breaking away from the “chains” of oppression and showing the world what they can do. In a slew of my college classes I heard young women talk about how they do not want to be controlled by a man or submit to their husband. Being strong, independent, and successful in the corporate world seems to be what defines women today. Interning in Washington, D.C. and personally witnessing the Women’s March made me realize this in ways I didn’t want to. Thousands of women (and even some men) walked the streets of our nation’s capital holding vulgar and obscene posters that supposedly showed strength and independence, but instead made my stomach turn while also saddening my heart.With all the gender equality lingo being thrown around these days, I was surprised to hear a girl in my Women’s History class say, “I know that some women look down upon this, but I want to be a stay-at-home mom.” Hearing those words come out of her mouth with such conviction was a breath of fresh air. So often, women want to define themselves by showing how they can do just as good of a job as men, if not better. But what if women were designed to do what men cannot do in order to complement one another and bring glory to God? What if women were created to do something different and special that men do not even have the ability to do? What if all women need to do to show their greatness is embrace the role God gave them, even if society may look down on it?So what does God say about the role of women? Ephesians 5:22 says, “For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” We must recognize that this verse is often taken out of context, and feminists use it as a way to bash the Bible. They seem to think that this verse says they shouldn’t stand up for themselves and have to do whatever their husband demands. This passage is actually much more nuanced than that, for the following verses instruct husbands to love their wives “just as Christ loved the Church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.” Accordingly, God holds men specifically to this standard, as He is instructing husbands to love their wives perfectly just as His love is flawless. Obviously, this is impossible because we are sinful human beings who will never, ever be able to do anything perfectly. God says that He wants husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church because that is what He wants husbands to strive towards. God gave husbands a target to aim at so they know what God expects of them. Women who are married to godly, righteous men willingly submit to their husbands because they know that their husbands love them well, treat them with respect, and honor them. My dad is the most wonderful example of this kind of love.I’m not a feminist and I don’t plan on ever becoming one. I believe women should have the right to an education and the freedom to pursue their dreams, but I don’t agree with women demeaning men, not taking responsibility for their actions, and trying to show how they can do a man’s job for no other reason than to cut men down. God created men and women equally and doesn’t look at one gender more favorably than the other, but God created men to be the head of the family. My dad demonstrated this beautifully during my younger years and continues to do so to this day. He leads my family with the gentle strength that God talks about in Ephesians 5. My dad loves my mom as Christ loves the church because he listens to my mom’s opinions, suggestions, and ideas and takes them into consideration. He tirelessly serves my family to make sure we have everything we need, and then some. He is not perfect by any means, but this is one of the things I love most about my dad. He admits when he is wrong, asks for forgiveness, and strives to do better. As I heard more about feminism in my college years, I thought for a while as to why I didn’t subscribe to what I was hearing. When I came home from class one day, it suddenly dawned on me.I am not a feminist because my dad plays his God-given role as a husband and father. My father shows me unconditional love, supports me in pursuing my dreams, and tells me when he thinks one of my ideas is simply a bad idea. When I was younger and incredibly stubborn, my dad constantly reminded me to submit to his and my mom’s authority. I didn’t want to because I thought my parents were dumb and oblivious, but now that I’m an adult I realize that my dad was trying to prepare me to make my faith my own and submit to God. Through my dad’s loving authority and gentle strength, God showed me that submitting to His authority results in a fulfilled life. It’s not an easy life and there are plenty of days when I don’t want to submit to God’s authority because it’s not what I want. I have to remind myself that it’s not about me, but instead it’s all about Him and His glory.In this fallen world there is unfairness, and we may wonder why God has allowed things to be a certain way. But if we had all the answers, we wouldn’t need Him. He created us to reflect His glory and He has a plan that is truly greater than anything we can imagine. By following in His gentle strength I know I am loved, cared for, wanted, and accepted. That’s what women in the feminist movement desire, anyway. They are trying to find acceptance and equality but are searching down all the wrong avenues. As Katy Perry sang in her “Unconditionally” song: “Acceptance is the key to be, to be truly free….” It’s by surrendering to Christ that we find true acceptance and freedom, for He is the restorer of all things and is the standard of gentle strength.
Dear Friends,FRC recently published a pivotal brochure, “How to Respond to the LGBT Movement” by Peter Sprigg. In this timely publication, Peter lays out the empirical evidence that refutes seven common claims made by homosexual activists and eight common claims made by transgender activists. As he notes, the claims that LGBT activists make have become a paradigm of assumptions that declare “that for someone to believe that heterosexuality is preferable to homosexuality is equivalent to believing that one race is superior to another, and therefore represents a form of bigotry and even ‘hate’ toward individuals who identify as homosexual.”The problem with making this claim is that it is based on the assumption that sexual orientation is in fact “inborn.” As this brochure makes clear, this assumption is empirically false based on observable human behavior and scientific evidence. Therefore, it is fundamentally dishonest and counterproductive to label social conservatives as “bigots” based on this assumption because social conservatives do not accept the faulty premises of this argument.Perhaps the most important idea that this publication conveys is this: in the cultural battles that continue to be fought around LGBT issues, social conservatives “ha[ve] consistently said that they love their neighbor; and ha[ve] consistently pursued policies which they sincerely believe will preserve the life and health and improve the well-being of those involved.”The brochure concludes with this stirring thought: “If anything should be clear from the information shared here, it is that there are legitimate grounds for debate on the origin, nature, and consequences of both homosexuality and gender dysphoria. Let all people of goodwill—regardless of their politics, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity—agree that the debate should continue, with a respect for honest research and for the freedom of thought, speech, and religion.”Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council FRC ArticlesBilly Graham — faithful to the end and still leading us behind him – Tony PerkinsBilly Graham’s Legacy — Faith Looming Large in Public Life – Travis WeberDespite Leftist Outcry, Americans Don’t Want Federally Funded Pornographic Sex Ed – Kelly MarcumDemocrats have moved far to the nation's left on abortion – Ken BlackwellReceiving the Love That We Need: How to Find Healing from Past WoundsAndrew Sullivan on Opioids: Pointing Us Toward God – Travis WeberThank you, Billy Graham – Patrina MosleyBilly Graham’s Stand on Religious Liberty, Life, and Marriage and FamilyHow Billy Graham’s Invitation Forever Changed My Life – Peter Sprigg#MeToo Ignores an Obvious Source of Sexual Aggression: Porn – David Krayden Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareNew HHS office that enforces health workers' religious rights received 300 complaints in a month – Jessie Hellmann, The HillParents Battle Court to Stop Transgender Teen’s Hormone Treatment – Grace Carr, The Daily SignalForced To Resign For Her Faith, This Magistrate Sued The State And Won – Bre Payton, The FederalistIllinois nurse fights firing over pro-life views – Bonnie Pritchett, WORLDYouTube Secretly Using SPLC To Police Videos – Peter Hasson, The Daily CallerWheaton’s Win Over The Contraceptive Mandate Is A Huge Step Forward For Religious Freedom – Nicole Fisher, The FederalistUniversity Re-Invites Christian Speaker Who Triggered LGBT Students – ToddStarnes.comWhen a University Group Rescinds Freedom of Speech – Ken Ham, The Christian PostFlorida House bill requires schools to display 'In God We Trust' – Kevin Tampone, Syracuse.comReligious Liberty Is a Powerful Anti-Gang Weapon – Noel Sterett, Alliance Defending FreedomInternational Religious FreedomA suspicious and sudden death in China – Mindy Belz, WORLDWhy Don’t We Care About the Slaughter of Nigerian Christians? – Michael Brown, The StreamAbandoned by the U.S., Syrian Christians and Kurds Seek Help from Pro-Iran Militias – John Zmirak, The StreamERLC religious freedom advocacy encouraged by major court decision in Malaysia – Palmer Williams, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionAttacks Against India’s Christians Doubled in 2017 – National Catholic RegisterPraying for the persecuted church: Jordan – Chase Stevens, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission LifeAbortionGood luck explaining your abortion vote high-fives to your constituents, senators – Ashley McGuire, USA TodayIncredible Surgery in the Womb Corrects Baby’s Spina Bifida After Her Parents Reject Abortion – Micaiah Bilger, LifeNewsWhy an unwanted pregnancy is about the baby and the father, too – Garrett Kell, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionDishonoring the Dead: Moral and Constitutional Considerations on Fetal Disposition – Deirdre Cooper and Kody W. Cooper, Public DiscourseThe Ostrich Defense of Abortion – Christopher Kaczor, Public DiscourseCalifornia Students Are Fighting to Keep Abortion Pills Off Their Campus – Grace Carr, The Daily SignalVice President Mike Pence: ‘Abortion Will End in Our Time’ – Amy Furr, TownhallAdoptionBipartisan effort to fix Kentucky's troubled adoption and foster care system moves forward – Deborah Yetter, Louisville Courier JournalBioethicsPro-lifers dismayed over Oregon starvation bill’s return – Samantha Gobba, WORLDHow would you counsel someone interested in assisted suicide? – Matthew Arbo, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionScientists Make Human-Animal Hybrids That are Part Animal and Part Human Being – Wesley Smith, LifeNewsBritish Judge Allows Toddler’s Life Support Switched Off, Despite Parents’ Wishes – National Catholic Register FamilyEconomics/EducationDoes God Care Where You Go to College? – D. Michael Lindsay, The Gospel CoalitionResearch Keeps Showing This Kind Of Teaching Is Very Effective. So Why Won’t Schools Use It? – Joy Pullmann, The FederalistHow to Raise Devoted Catholic Kids When They Attend Public School – Sabrina Arena Ferrisi, National Catholic RegisterMarriageBilly Graham’s Incredible Ministry … and His Incredible Marriage – Dave Boehi, Family LifeA Man’s Place Is in the Home – Trevin Wax, The Gospel CoalitionBuild Your Marriage on the Beatitudes – Austin Bonds, RelevantA Photographer Asked 20 Couples For The Secret To A Long Marriage – Brittany Wong, HuffPostCDC: U.S. Fertility Rate Below Replacement for 9th Straight Year – Terence P. Jeffrey, CNS NewsFaith/Character/CultureHow Do I Know If I Really Love Jesus? – Jon Bloom, Desiring GodThe desperate cry of America's boys – Suzanne Venker, Fox NewsThe Death of an Evangelical Titan – Bishop Robert Barron, Word On FireA Better Mom Is a Broken Mom – Kristen Wetherell, Desiring GodThe Joy of an Unaccomplished Life – Chad Bird, The Gospel Coalition'It takes a village': 3 P.E.I. grandmothers help exhausted mom care for triplets – Pat Martel, CBC NewsVillains and Heroes Among So Much Tragedy – Jared Zimmerer, Word On FireThe Hard Truth About Mr. Right – Joy Beth Smith, Christianity TodayLonging for likes: How to capture the hearts of Gen Z with a greater love – Jared Kennedy, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionHuman SexualityWhy Transgenderism Threatens Parental Rights – Joe Carter, The Gospel CoalitionToo Much Netflix, Not Enough Chill: Why Young Americans Are Having Less Sex – W. Bradford Wilcox and Samuel Sturgeon, PoliticoSexual Exploitation in the Sports Industry: An Abuse of Power – Mary Urie, National Center on Sexual ExploitationPressing Pause on the "Transgender Moment": Ryan T. Anderson's When Harry Became Sally – Matthew J. Franck, Public DiscourseTransgender Activists Conduct ‘Giant Experiment’ on Children, Author Says – Kyle Perisic, The Daily SignalHuman TraffickingHouse passes anti-sex trafficking bill in defeat for tech industry – Steven Overly and Ashley Gold, PoliticoThe Combined Crisis of Online Sex Trafficking and Pornography – Patrick A. Trueman, National Center on Sexual ExploitationShining A Light On Slavery: Who Are Sex Traffickers, And Why Do They Exploit Other Humans? – Fight the New DrugPornographyPornography Addicts Might Be Avoiding True Intimacy – Michelle Habel, Focus on the FamilyIn the massive global scourge that is pornography, men are not the only addicts – Jamie Dean, WORLDFlorida declares pornography a ‘public health risk’ – Lisa Bourne, LifeSiteNewsIs Reading Erotica As Harmful As Watching Porn? – Fight the New DrugPorn’s “Butterfly Effect”: A New Podcast Exposes Porn’s Unexpected Consequences – Mary Rose Somarriba, Family Studies
The following are prepared remarks by Tony Perkins at the National Religious Broadcasters 75th Annual Convention on March 1, 2018.Winston Churchill once said, “During their lifetimes, every man and woman will stumble across a great opportunity. Sadly, most of them will simply pick themselves up, dust themselves down and carry on as if nothing ever happened.”The apostle Paul spoke to the issue of opportunity in his letter to the Ephesians when he wrote in chapter 5: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil.”Now, if Paul had grown up in this country, he might have told the Ephesians “Make hay while the sun is shining.”The sun is shining right now in American when it comes to our First Amendment freedoms. We need to be wise and act quickly, not only using these freedoms to spread the good news, but also to put in place policies that will protect and promote these essential freedoms, not just for ourselves but those yearning for freedom around the globe and generations yet unborn. Some of our brethren remain skeptical or indifferent about our engagement in the political process. Don’t be foolish. Elections have consequences, many far-reaching as we continue to see from the years of President Obama.But we also see the consequences of the election of Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Let me put it in a format that many who track this administration are accustomed to – I’ll put it in the form of a tweet:President Trump has:Appointed Excellent Judges like Neil GorsuchEnacted Unparalleled pro-life policies;Cut taxes & is Growing our economyPresident Trump is:Restoring religious freedomMoving the U.S. Embassy to JerusalemRebuilding our militaryThis is happening because many of you in this room used your influence and your platforms to communicate what was at stake in the last election. I believe America dodged not a bullet in the 2016 election, but a political and cultural H-bomb.Evangelicals, especially the subset that George Barna calls SAGE Cons—Spiritually Active Governmentally Engaged Conservatives (many of your listeners and viewers)—turned out in record-setting numbers and were unified. Ninety-one percent of SAGE Cons representing 20 million U.S. adults voted, and 94 percent of them voted for Donald Trump.By the way, almost every time I see the president I don’t have to remind him that evangelicals were the margin for his victory—he reminds me that evangelicals voted for him and they love him!And by the way, in post-election polling, 59 percent said they voted for the Trump/Pence ticket based on the GOP platform’s position on life and religious liberty. This is important. Despite what the media would say, evangelical voters are sophisticated. They were able to separate personality from policy.Evangelicals understood what was at stake and voted.But the election was not the end of our responsibility, but rather the beginning of our opportunity.First by acting upon it, but also preserving it.We need to preserve it by communicating to those who look to and listen to us about what is really happening. We have to counter the narrative of the Fake News—which is real. I’ve been in conversations and meetings with this administration, which somehow got into the media based on their sources which were not only inaccurate but if I didn’t know better, I would think there were intentionally misleading.Because of the importance of the evangelical voter, there is an intense effort on the Left to suppress their turnout in the upcoming elections, by dampening the enthusiasm of conservative voters. If they succeed and your listeners and viewers get discouraged and stay home in the midterm election, the reform is over. The restoration of religious freedom and the freedom of speech will end.Nancy Pelosi needs just 24 seats to switch from Republican to Democrat to retake the gavel of the House. In every midterm election since the Civil War, the president’s party has lost, on average, 32 seats in the House and two in the Senate. There are more than 40 Republicans that have and will announce that they are retiring. If conservatives and in particular evangelical voters do not turn out, it will happen, and one of the first orders of business will be the impeachment of President Trump. They most likely will not succeed in removing him from office, but they will most likely succeed in stopping what this administration is doing.What are they doing? The Trump administration is not just enacting conservative policies in line with the Constitution. President Trump is the first Republican President to not just stop the liberal policies of his predecessor; he is dismantling, slowly, but dismantling none-the-less parts of the framework of big, liberal government which has been expanded with the election of each Democratic administration since FDR. That is why the Left is unhinged. They won’t be able to jump back in the driver’s seat of big government and restart their programs, they will have to rebuild, and that will take time, especially if they don’t have the courts to help them in their activism. This is why every judicial confirmation is a fight.We have to act upon the opportunity that we have, to fortify our freedoms, to ensure government does not again try to quarantine our Christian faith within the walls of our churches. A lot has been done, but there is still plenty to do:The Johnson Amendment has to be totally eliminated.The forced partnership between taxpayers and Planned Parenthood must be ended.Patient-centered healthcare must be restored and,God must be welcomed back into our public life.The president ran and has governed by the theme “Making America Great Again.” But America will only be great again when it has become good again, and that is not government’s mission, but ours, followers of Jesus Christ. Benjamin Franklin said, “History will also afford frequent opportunities of showing the necessity of a public religion, from its usefulness to the public; the advantage of a religious character among private persons; the mischiefs of superstition, and the excellency of the Christian religion above all others, ancient or modern.” Let’s be wise and make the best use of this moment in time, this opportunity.In the wake of the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida, there is a national discussion about how to protect our children in their classrooms. The focus has been on the instruments of destruction. We continue in a defensive posture with almost every school in America now having active shooter drills. In some ways, it is reminiscent of their grandparent’s generation that had duck and cover drills in their classrooms as Americans feared a nuclear attack from Russia in the 1950s.While that threat was external, and today’s is internal, might we learn from how they responded?In February of 1954, Reverend George M. Docherty, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., delivered a sermon on the subject of the pledge of allegiance, with President Eisenhower sitting in the front pew. The sermon was about the absence of the words “Under God” in our pledge. America was at the height of the Cold War with Russia, and a bold declaration was needed to show that there was a difference between America and the atheistic communists.Three days after that sermon, a bill was introduced in Congress to add the words “under God.”And on Flag Day, June 14, 1954, Eisenhower signed the bill into law, saying, “From this day forward, millions of school children will daily proclaim the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty.”America will not be great again until it is good again, and that means America must once again not only acknowledge but live as one nation under God. Let us redeem the time.Let us make the most of this moment.Let us seize this opportunity!
The following is based on a talk given by a priest who works with married and engaged couples in the Archdiocese of Washington.When we find ourselves frustrated with our own shortcomings and how they are affecting our loved ones, we often think we know what we need to change about ourselves, but the Lord usually has other plans. There are deeper wounds he wants to get to first because they are much more serious.One example of this in Scripture is the men who bring the paralytic to Jesus in Mark’s Gospel. They think they know what needs to be healed in the man—his paralysis. But the first thing Jesus says to the paralyzed man is: “Your sins are forgiven.” Jesus knows that the interior wounds the man has are the first things that need to be healed, because they are preventing him from receiving Christ’s divine life and entering into his eternal reward.Just as a doctor needs to check a patient’s symptoms to diagnose the problem, so to do interior wounds need to be diagnosed to figure out the source of our unhappiness.A lot of the spiritual wounds we have come from our mother and father. Whether they intended to or not, our parents most likely did things that negatively affected us and can remain with us the rest or our lives. For example, if your parents are perfectionists, this can affect your self-esteem because you may think that nothing you do will ever be good enough. If you’ve been abandoned by them or have felt like they have abandoned you, you will most likely be especially anxious when you feel like someone is abandoning you or not tending to your needs later in life. If you have been abused by a family member in any way, this could affect your ability to be intimate with a loved one later in life, both physically and emotionally. All of these things can leave lasting wounds that can bubble up in other ways later in life if they are not dealt with properly.To Find Healing, Focus on Causes, Not SymptomsIf we still carry some lingering resentment from something that was said or done to us when we were younger, this can affect how we treat our spouse and children.If we get angry or impatient easily or find it difficult to forgive, it’s important to ask: why? Why do we feel this way? God doesn’t make us this way. God doesn’t create us to be angry, bitter, resentful, etc. It is obvious that part of the reason is the effects of sin, but part of it is also what has been done to us. Wounds from the past still affect us today. People often say that they get impatient or angry easily—this could very well be from a sensitivity to something from the past that has not been healed. It’s akin to having a cut on your arm—if pressure is applied to it, you will probably howl with pain.These kind of wounds are often passed down from generation to generation. What are some negative memories of your mom or dad? How did it make you feel? Have you forgiven them? Is there still resentment because of that experience or something else? How has that wound affected your marriage or your parenting? Are there other wounds from your past that affect how you treat your spouse or your children? Have you ever spoken about this with your spouse?Two of the greatest sources of tension in marriage are bad communication and unmet expectations. Consider if there is any resentment in your marriage about anything. This is a door that the devil uses to get in to destroy marriages and bring division.So how do we find healing? We first need to bring everything to the Lord with complete honesty, bluntness, and even tears, and this is perfectly okay. Jesus is the healer of all our wounds. He is the one who has created us, so he knows what we need at the deepest level.Some of you may find this difficult if you believe that God the Father is a judgmental, perfectionistic, hard-driving father. If this is the case, you’ll never want to be near him. If you’ve felt like you’ve never been loved by your dad, for example, it will be much harder for you to experience the love of our Heavenly Father.It is best not to focus on the symptoms of a wound but instead to focus on the cause of them. It does no good to try and bury them further and say, “It’s in the past; it will go away.” This doesn’t work—it will only make the wound worse because then we aren’t getting to the root of the problem. Covering a wound up with bandages may stop the bleeding, but it doesn’t mean the underlying problem is healed.Talking About the Past Is Painful, but NecessaryExplicitly forgiving our parents (or any other family member) for hurting us and telling them how we feel is very difficult, but it is also very necessary. It’s important to remember that forgiving our loved ones does not depend on them—it is an act on our part of freedom. If we don’t forgive somebody who has hurt us, it’s like carrying a heavy object around with us wherever we go, and it will affect everything we do—resentment must simply be let go of. It’s important to formally renounce resentment and unforgiveness through prayer.When addressing past wounds with your parents, keep in mind that it will probably not be helpful to immediately overwhelm them with all the things you felt you were wronged by in childhood. Act with prudence in bringing up this sensitive topic. If you specifically address this in prayer beforehand, the Lord will show you if there is something that really needs to be addressed personally with your parents. If you don’t feel comfortable at first, you may gradually sense the freedom that you want to have (that you don’t have at the moment) to be able to talk about a wound with them in the future.As for your own children, don’t let yourself become overly worried about how your wounds are affecting them. Most people, especially kids, have the ability to forgive you for a wrong you may have done, especially if you ask for forgiveness soon after the incident occurred. This kind of conscientious approach will go a long way toward insuring that our shortcomings will not affect our family with any regularity.God Sees Us As We Are: His Infinitely Lovable ChildrenIt is vitally important to renounce the lies that we often hear in our heads—“you’re not good enough, strong enough, pretty enough, smart enough, hardworking enough,” etc. They’re all lies from the devil, who is the father of lies. That’s a way the devil uses to get into our lives. When we accept and believe the lie, then the devil has a foothold.We must renounce these lies because God did not create junk. God created us to be infinitely lovable and extraordinary. That’s how we are in his eyes. That’s how he sees us right now. It’s like how we look at our children. We know they are not perfect, but we nevertheless look at them with great love and love them as they are. God loves us into being where we need to be.Think of the woman at the well in John’s Gospel who had five husbands who didn’t love her—that doesn’t say anything about her worth. Jesus responded to her with patience and love, showing to her her true worth in his eyes. We have to agree that we are who God says we are and not as other people try to define us as being.Receiving the Love That We NeedGetting good spiritual direction from a trusted pastor or priest is key to finding healing. Please note that this should not be seen as a substitute for getting counseling/psychological help, if necessary. We must remember that any wound takes time to heal.Our spouses play a key role in healing as well. Hearing a kind word from our spouses—something from the heart that isn’t flattery or said to get something—can be very healing. At the same time, it’s vital to have permission to be direct (in a loving way) with your spouse if there is an issue in the relationship that needs to be addressed.What all of this really boils down to is receiving the love that we need. Never take that for granted—the need we all have to hear something good about ourselves. Jesus has plenty of good things to say if we go to him in prayer—give the Lord the chance to tell you what he thinks. When we have the courage to take off the bandages and ask the Lord’s help to see what’s there (with the help of a spiritual director/counselor if necessary), prudently but candidly discuss what we find with our families, and offer forgiveness where needed, the Divine Physician will reward our efforts by healing even our deepest wounds.
Andrew Sullivan wrote a lengthy and illuminating piece recently digging deeper into the opioid crisis, in part by examining the attraction of the drug itself. One interesting aspect of the article was his observation about why opioids have been such a draw through the ages—they help us escape from pain, from reality. As Sullivan notes, if we simply attack the symptoms on the surface, we are missing a “deeper American story. It is a story of pain and the search for an end to it.”For millennia, humans have searched for answers to life and the difficulty it brings. Some of these answers have involved God, and others have not. It is certainly clear that right now, America’s families have been hit hard by the opioid crisis.Yet while we need to go to God, we often don’t, and we reject his advances. Like God trying to rescue us, the police officers trying to rescue the addict by administering antidotes “are hated,” for “[t]hey ruined the high.”Marx’s claim that religion is the “opiate of the people” is old-hat. As Sullivan points out: “Opiates are now the religion of the people.”We must go to God in our pain, not try to escape it by our own means—whether through opioids or otherwise. It must be said that prescription opioids (along with other pain management tools) can be used properly (like for the alleviation of chronic severe pain) alongside going to God in our pain.Near the end of the piece, Sullivan again observes:To see this epidemic as simply a pharmaceutical or chemically addictive problem is to miss something: the despair that currently makes so many want to fly away. Opioids are just one of the ways Americans are trying to cope with an inhuman new world where everything is flat, where communication is virtual, and where those core elements of human happiness — faith, family, community — seem to elude so many. Until we resolve these deeper social, cultural, and psychological problems, until we discover a new meaning or reimagine our old religion or reinvent our way of life, the poppy will flourish.Indeed, in searching for “new meaning,” I believe Sullivan is yearning for God here, and I would point him toward the Good News: Though we have all strayed from and are separated from God (and part of this separation is pain), Jesus has paid the price for us to be restored to God. We just must accept him, choose to follow him, and submit our lives to him. This restoration then becomes our new eternal reality, even if we don’t see all its benefits immediately.Sullivan continues:We have seen this story before — in America and elsewhere. The allure of opiates’ joys are filling a hole in the human heart and soul today as they have since the dawn of civilization.I would agree with this diagnosis, but only add that the medicine involves a spiritual element, most specifically the Good News discussed above. This is something Billy Graham, who recently passed away, would want us to remember. While the issue in all its facets is undoubtedly complex, it is clear that we must not neglect the spiritual aspect of the cure.We as a nation need God, and need him publicly. Graham’s recent passing also reminds us of that. Let us remind ourselves again, and let us not forget it.
I was young in the faith when I first saw Billy Graham on TV during one of his Crusade gatherings. I could tell it was an older clip because the colors were fuzzy and it seemed like everyone was wearing costumes… because no one wore clothes like that anymore. As a newly maturing believer, I marveled at the fact that this man seemed to dedicate his life to preaching one single message: “That Jesus Christ came, he died on a cross, he rose again, and he asked us to repent of our sins and receive him by faith as Lord and Savior, and if we do, we have forgiveness of all of our sins.” You would think that would get old, right? How could one man preach the same message over and over again all over the country and continue to get people to actually respond? And in fact they did respond—in droves. You would think that if it were a big and charismatic personality out front with a trendy haircut, mellow on the sin, light on the scriptures, and heavy on the froth of entertainment, then maybe it would be easy to see how someone might get caught up in the moment and just want to maximize it to the fullest and think, “Nothing is stopping me from getting inches away from the coolest preacher I ever heard! Yeah!” But that wasn’t the case. It didn’t seem like there was anything particularly fancy about his message or appearance that would compel one to get out of their seat and inconvenience the many people in their row, then walk across a stadium before thousands to say a prayer.I just didn’t get it. The picture of this looked so foolish that it convinced me it had to be the power of God at work—to pack stadiums across the country and the world full of people who were willing to hear a simple message, a message one could easily get at just about any Bible-teaching corner church in America, and yet hundreds of thousands of people came and gave their hearts to Jesus as their Lord and Savior.As I got older and matured in my faith, I realized for myself the power of the Gospel in a personal way. I knew what my life could’ve been had I not given it to him at such an early age, and I knew what my peers’ lives were like who had not made that eternal decision yet. My heart was burdened for them. I longed for my friends and classmates to know the Lord as I did and to go through life being able to start over and know that the God of all creation was with them.As my senior year of high school approached, we had to do a project on our future career, suffice to say it was not on what I’m doing now (hint: don’t plan your whole life in high school—it’s guaranteed to change), but I knew in my heart that whatever I was going to do I would use it as a tool for evangelism. At the time, I did not know what role the Lord would have for me, but I knew that I better get acquainted with evangelism, and who best to teach someone about that than the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. I heard they were coming to my hometown in 2006, and at the time it was Billy Graham’s son Franklin who was leading the efforts. I along with my mom decided to volunteer for the crusade coming to town, and I had the opportunity to participate in some pretty cool things and even got to share my testimony on video for their youth night.Billy Graham’s life and ministry illustrated to me that it was truly the power of God that brings salvation and that he has no problem using people who we might consider the weak or the foolish of this world to confound the wise and do great and mighty things through them. Because of Billy Graham, I could see for myself that it was possible for God to take an ordinary existence mixed with humble faithfulness and cause supernatural results. I wasn’t sure where my life was going during that senior year, but I learned that I wanted it to be dedicated to the simple message “that Jesus Christ came, he died on a cross, he rose again, and he asked us to repent of our sins and receive him by faith as Lord and Savior, and if we do, we have forgiveness of all of our sins.” Thank you, Billy Graham.
Over the course of his 58 years in public ministry and well into his retirement years, Dr. Billy Graham, “America’s Pastor,” did not hesitate to stand up for religious liberty, life, and marriage and family.Religious Liberty“In the founding era of our country, it was not organized religion but personal faith that brought focus and unified the early leadership—maybe an unspoken faith in God, and certain values that came with that faith. So in that sense, we cannot discount, in my judgment, religious faith in politics.” (Newsweek – Aug. 13, 2006)“Americans have always fought for freedom. This is why America was founded — to worship the one true God openly with no fear of tyranny. Our early fathers led our nation according to Biblical principles … Our country is turning away from what has made it so great, but far greater than the government knowing our every move that could lead to losing our freedom to worship God publicly, is to know that God knows our every thought; He knows our hearts need transformation.” (Newsmax – Oct. 5, 2013)Life“I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life…” (Los Angeles Times – Oct. 21, 2012)Marriage and Family“I believe the home and marriage is the foundation of our society and must be protected… The Bible is clear—God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman.” (USA Today – May 3, 2012)“The greatest career is being a mother ... And if you’re interviewed sometime on television or Phil Donahue, say ‘I’m a housewife and a mother’ and be proud of it.” (The Oklahoman – Oct. 27, 1983)“Many people enter into a marriage without realizing this is for keeps. It’s to be permanent. The tension is normal, but it can result in strength if you take those [problems] to God.” (The Oklahoman – Oct. 27, 1983)
To honor the life of Billy Graham, here is a personal testimony from Peter Sprigg, FRC's Senior Fellow for Policy Studies. This article originally appeared in The Washington Times on June 15, 2016.Prayer—my own, and that of others—has played a crucial role in my spiritual development.My parents were missionaries before I was born. My father served as a pastor and a denominational executive while I was growing up. I am sure that my parents prayed for me, including for my spiritual life. Ironically, those prayers did not bear their fullest fruit until I was in my mid-20’s—my mother had died, my father was again serving overseas, and I was living alone.My passion growing up was not for my faith, but for politics. After getting my degree in political science and economics, I got a job with my Congressman. When that job ended because he did not seek re-election, I decided to take the plunge and run for office myself. At 24, I ran for the School Committee in my home town in Massachusetts.My dreams were dashed, however, by a decisive defeat. That loss started me on a period of soul-searching—first in terms of my career goals, but eventually in a more literal, spiritual sense. Over a period of several months, a number of key events led me to a turning point in my life.One of those events took place at my church, where I remained a regular attender. One Sunday, two men did a dramatic reading about the Lord’s Prayer—the one taught by Jesus to his disciples. One repeated the memorized words—while the other, off-stage with a microphone, played the voice of God, actually answering. The man would say, “Our father, who art in heaven . . .”—and the voice answered, “Yes, what can I do for you?” Startled, the man continues, “Hallowed be thy name.” The voice asks, “What do you mean by that?”Continuing in the same vein, this short, humorous reading made me realize how easy it is to go through the motions of religion without thinking about it. I went home from church that day and began to pray and read my Bible daily—disciplines I had never before adopted.Another event came when my pastor invited me to a special gathering. The Billy Graham Crusade was coming to Boston, and his team was working to mobilize pastors and churches to support it. The pastor knew of my interest in politics, and invited me to an event where the guest speaker was someone with political experience—Charles Colson, the former aide to President Richard Nixon who had spent time in prison, had come to Christ, wrote his story in the book Born Again, and then founded the ministry Prison Fellowship after his release. At the time, I found his politics distasteful, but his testimony compelling.At the same event, we were urged to pray, and were given something to help us. It was a small round sticker to place on your watch. The challenge was to “pray on the spot when you see the dot”—in other words, every time you look at your watch.Thus, my relatively new habit of daily prayer became one of nearly constant prayer throughout the day. Sometimes I would pray for Billy Graham, sometimes for loved ones, and sometimes just, “Lord, be with me.” And He was—as I became increasingly aware.All of this climaxed for me when I attended the Billy Graham Crusade with others from my church in June of 1982. Although I was hesitant about going forward—having already attended church all my life!—those doubts were eliminated by Rev. Graham’s invitation, which directly addressed people like me. I went forward, giving my life to Jesus Christ in a decision that has shaped the remainder of my life.A year or two later, I got to visit an aunt and uncle who lived far across the country from me, and shared with them my testimony. It turned out that my aunt was a long-time supporter of Billy Graham’s ministry and subscriber to his Decision magazine. When she saw that a Crusade was scheduled for Boston, knowing my location (but not my spiritual state), she began praying for me.I will always be grateful that her prayers—and mine—were answered.
Unless you have lived in a cave with no connection to the traditional or social media, it has been impossible to escape the chronic, provocative, and apparently unending reach of the #MeToo campaign. A day rarely goes by in the news cycle when a man, prominent in business, media, or entertainment, is not accused of some level of sexual misconduct, from suggestions of a grope at a party decades ago to the mind-boggling series of allegations that now define the life and career of former Hollywood mega-producer and liberal elite Harvey Weinstein. These revelations rarely, if ever, find their origin in the criminal justice system; the recipients of these charges are rarely formally charged with breaking any law and might never see the interior of a courtroom. Nonetheless, he will probably lose his job, his reputation, and perhaps his family in the process—innocent or guilty.How are we to assess this steady stream of shameful revelations and the #MeToo movement as Christians? Should we be applauding the apparent exposure of these men as acts approaching righteous indignation? Should we be decrying the persistence of a male sexual aggression that clearly defies biblical morality?I would suggest we should approach the allegations with caution. But we should also examine a pernicious source of sexual misanthropy in our sexually-charged society: the continued explosion of unrelenting pornography from a sordid industry that profits from the dehumanization of both men and women.But first to the issue of guilt. The #MeToo movement relies almost exclusively on social media gossip. The allegations may well be true, but of course we often will never know for certain because there is no neutral forum to verify the information—the media reports that follow the initial tweets on Twitter or posts on Facebook are generally mere rewrites of the initial reports. Of course a denial of guilt from the accused might be inserted into the story, but what does this really mean when we have become accustomed to ignoring such disclaimers? Careers, reputations, and families are being destroyed in this process of communicating these allegations—careers and lives that may never be fully restored or completely rehabilitated even if the stories eventually are proven to be false.That being said, the rash of sexual misconduct reports have forced us all to recognize the pervasiveness of sexual aggression in our society, and yet we are apparently no closer to examining, assessing, or condemning an obvious culprit in the proliferation of that sexual aggression: pornography.So many of the sexual assault scenarios that have been described in the media sound like scenes out of pornographic films, where, of course, this kind of behavior is not defined as assault but normalcy. This is precisely the fundamental problem with porn: it not only over-sexualizes our world, it also attempts to convince us that our world is one where overt sexual aggression is not only tolerated but encouraged. Pornography not only debases both its purveyors and the consumers, it also preaches a sexual narrative that is not only unhealthy but dangerously at odds with reality. When men are seduced into believing the pornographic lie—that the spontaneous expression of any sexual whim is acceptable—they are acting out an illusion that in reality is abusive and in fact often illegal.Pornography long ago ceased to be mere entertainment—albeit entertainment of the most destructive and base sort. Pornography is a political and philosophical message emitted from the lowest echelons of disordered desires: it tells us to satisfy any sexual craving—no matter how strange, how sick, or how unhealthy—because there will be no consequences. It is a message that is so ubiquitous in this internet age that it is difficult to ignore. Pornographic culture is now invading our popular culture, infecting so much of our television viewing, reading material, and advertising. If we just focus on television, mainstream dramas often include relatively graphic depictions of sexual activity that would have been considered fit only for a “stag” film in decades past. The internet has made pornography far more accessible and more anonymous than it ever was in the magazine and X-rated film age of yesteryear. What’s more, pornographic “values” have now become such a big part of mainstream entertainment and sexual mores that it is no longer something perverts have to seek out—even the morally upright have to guard against being inadvertently exposed to porn from a miss-typed word in a Google search or a graphic sex scene inserted into an otherwise decent movie.If we are to honestly examine physical sexual abuse in our society, we need to acknowledge the most blatant and obvious form of virtual sexual abuse: unrestricted, unrelenting pornography that dehumanizes men and women and leads to an increase in sexually aggressive behavior.David Krayden is the Ottawa Bureau Chief for The Daily Caller. He is a former Air Force public affairs officer and communications specialist for the Canadian Parliament.
Dear Friends,The other day, I walked into an Asian stir-fry eatery and was met with a row of touchscreens lined up in front of the kitchen area where employees were preparing the food. The normal conversation one would usually hear between customers and the person behind the counter was strangely absent. Instead, I found myself and two or three millennial-types silently staring down at the touchscreens and ordering our food with a series of finger taps. We even swiped our own credit cards on a little console that also printed out our receipts. Similarly, instead of going to the bank with a check to deposit and having a friendly interaction with the bank teller, we can now deposit our checks ourselves with the cameras on our phones.All of this technology has certainly made our lives more convenient in certain ways, but it also has a weird way of making everyday life seem robotic. We aren’t being “old-fashioned” when we feel that something vital is missing from our lives when the opportunities for friendly chit-chat are systematically removed from commonplace societal activities.The desire for genuine human contact isn’t merely a “nicety” that some of us choose to do from time to time. This desire was placed in all human hearts by our Creator. Think of how Jesus interacted with those around him. He didn’t sit on pedestal and heal people from afar—rather, he did not hesitate in holding children in his lap, touching lepers, and even spitting on a blind man’s eyes to heal them. This is the kind of God we have, one whose deepest desire is to reach out and touch us. We in turn desire to give and receive genuine touch. Never underestimate the power that a warm handshake or a friendly pat on the back can have. A sincere embrace of someone who is struggling can have an enormous impact. Even something as seemingly insignificant as a smile and a friendly “hello” has the power to immediately lift our spirits.It’s particularly important to not miss an opportunity to be both verbally and physically affectionate with our spouses and children, which strengthens the bond of our family units. Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council FRC ArticlesNew Brochure: How to Respond to the LGBT Movement – Peter SpriggThe SPLC’s Incursion into EducationWith vote against Brownback, Democrats abandon religious freedom – Travis WeberPresident is keeping his promises – Tony PerkinsFact-Checking Jimmy Kimmel on Christian Bakers: Two Big Errors, But Props for Trying – Travis WeberGeneration Z – Seeking Answers to Good and Evil – Travis WeberAn Ode to the Lincoln Memorial – Brynne KrispinPain-Capable Senate Vote: The One Percenters’ Club – Jay Sappington4 Unforgettable Thoughts On Marriage – Dan HartWith Cecile Richards’ Resignation, It’s Time for Planned Parenthood to Come Clean – Jay Sappington Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareJudge Rules Bakeshop Owner Doesn’t Have to Bake Wedding Cake for Gay Couple – Grace Carr, The Daily SignalNorth Carolina Settles With Magistrate It Forced Out for Not Doing Gay Marriages – Ken McIntyre, The Daily SignalMichigan Pastor Facing Death Threats for Offering Workshops to Teens Struggling with Homosexuality – Charlene Aaron, CBN NewsGovernor Cuomo Signs Executive Order Banning State Agencies From Doing Business With Companies That Promote, Tolerate Discrimination – LongIsland.comCalifornia Moves To Force Public Universities To Administer Abortion Pills – Kristan Hawkins, The FederalistMaryland city to church: Stop worship services or leave – Alliance Defending FreedomOhio high school rallies around prayer after outside group tries to ban it at events – Caleb Parke and Michelle Chavez, Fox NewsInternational Religious Freedom16,000 Christians Dead in Less Than 3 Years: Report Reveals Extent of Violence in Nigeria – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostImpressions of persecution – June Cheng, WORLDSudan government demolishes church just hours after service – J-P Mauro, AleteiaReligious Discrimination in Canada – Derek Ross, Public DiscourseUS Pastor Andrew Brunson Writes Heartbreaking Message to Wife From Turkish Prison – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostOpen Doors Rebuilds Nearly 700 Christian Homes Destroyed by ISIS in Nineveh Plains – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post LifeAbortionBeyond Roe: A Global Roadmap for the Pro-Life Movement – Stefano Gennarini, Public DiscourseBrother of woman who died from abortion at Planned Parenthood: Abortion is not a safe procedure – Live ActionOnly Pro-Lifers Address Abortion’s Core Moral Question – Mene Ukueberuwa, National ReviewThe Emerging Pro-Life Majority – Rob Schwarzwalder, The Stream'Fetal heartbeat' abortion bill advances in Iowa Senate after contentious hearing – William Petroski, Des Moines RegisterMissouri House Passes Pro-Life Bill Requiring Parental Notification Before a Teen’s Abortion – Micaiah Bilger, LifeNewsAdoptionFive Reasons Adoption Shouldn’t be a Backup Plan – John Prather, The StreamPro-Life Advocates Celebrate: Lawmakers Pass Funding for Florida Pregnancy Support Network – Leon Aprile, Orlando Political ObserverBioethicsEuthanizing The Mentally Ill Just Lets Their Illness Win – A.D.P. Efferson, The Federalist FamilyEconomics/EducationTax Revenues Up Big After GOP Tax Cut – James Barrett, The Daily WireSorry, NYT: For Child Poverty, Family Structure Still Matters – W. Bradford Wilcox, Family StudiesThe Left Is Conditioning College Students To Hate Free Speech – John Daniel Davidson, The FederalistCampus Madness: Amid Uproar, Princeton's Class on Free Speech Issues Has Been Canceled – Guy Benson, TownhallMarriageThe Profound Spiritual Truth of Marriage – Dorothy Greco, RelevantHow To Prepare For Marriage And Make It Good Once You Get There – Melissa Langsam Braunstein, The FederalistShe Was Repulsed by Her Husband – Lisa Lakey, Family LifeJordan Peterson’s Radical Take on Marriage – Ashley McGuire, Family StudiesThe Eschatological Hope of Bearing Children – Ian Caveny, First ThingsThe Lost Decade – Mary May Larmoyeux, Family LifeThe Long-Term Benefits of Marriage: Evidence from the UK – Harry Benson, Family StudiesNo Matter How Anyone Tries To Glam It Up Or Brush It Off, Divorce Is Never ‘Over Easy’ – The FederalistWe Lost Our Baby, but We Didn't Want to Lose Our Marriage – Tanisha Garnier, Christianity TodayHow to Restore a Marriage Norm – Lawrence M. Mead, Family StudiesRankin finally pulls the plug on gay marriage – Jonathan Bell, The Royal GazetteFaith/Character/CultureRaising Gentlemen in a #MeToo World: Advice for Fathers – Patrick Fagan, Family StudiesWhy ‘Progressives’ Cannot Abide Dissent – Trevin Wax, The Gospel CoalitionThe Burdensome Myth of Romantic Love – David C. Dollahite and Betsy VanDenBerghe, First ThingsIs Life Ultimately Pointless? – Matt Nelson, Word On FireHuman SexualityIs America Running Out of Patience with LGBT Activism? – Glenn Stanton, Public DiscourseNine Decades of Promiscuity – Nicholas H. Wolfinger, Family StudiesWalgreens now allows bathroom use corresponding with gender identity – Rebecca Savransky, The HillStaggering Statistic Reveals How Many High Schoolers Now Identify as Transgender – Jason Hopkins, The Western JournalFive Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution, Part I – Mary Eberstadt, The Catholic Thing‘Dirty Dozen’ List Sheds Light on Sexualized Corporate Culture – CBN NewsHuman Trafficking510 Arrested in Sex Trafficking Sting; 56 Victims Rescued – Donald Kaufman, truthdigPornographyLet’s Ban Porn – Ross Douthat, The New York TimesAmmunition for the Fight Against Porn – Dieudonné Tamfu, Desiring God5 Ways Intimacy Will Suffer if You Watch Porn Together – Mary Rose Somarriba, VerilyHow One Family Is Taking A Stand Against Pornography and Sexual Exploitation in America’s Schools – Robin Paterson, National Center on Sexual Exploitation
The other day, Jimmy Kimmel responded to a California Court ruling affirming Christian baker Cathy Miller’s First Amendment right to not be compelled to create a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding.Here is a response to Jimmy Kimmel’s response, which I also presented on Facebook Live with our own Brynne Krispin (below).First, I commend Kimmel for trying to tackle the issue, and for acknowledging the judge’s ruling in favor of the baker “sounded reasonable.” That’s a start.But Kimmel then goes off track when trying to portray what happened.In his skit, he plays a waiter who quizzes customers at his hypothetical restaurant, asking after they sat down but before serving them: “Are any of you gay?” After one woman says yes, he informs her his chef can’t make her a salad because he “believes homosexuality is a sin” (while offering her a salad made yesterday before “he knew you were gay”)—wrongly implying that the California baker did the exact same thing.ERROR #1: Kimmel wrongly portrays business owners as refusing to serve people because they identify as LGBTThis is simply false. How many times do we have to say it?What Kimmel portrayed is exactly what is NOT happening in the California case, Jack Phillips’ case, or any other.Neither Cathy Miller nor any of the other Christians being dragged into court over this issue is quizzing customers to see who identifies as LGBT or not, and sending them on their way if they say they are gay. They are only drawing the line at creating items and sending messages which violate their conscience.Nor is the issue when the item was baked; Jack Phillips and others are happy to sell a person identifying as LGBT cookies, cakes, brownies, etc.—whether made yesterday or today. Rather, the issue is whether the person of faith is being conscripted into using their talents in service of a proclamation against their will.Indeed, in his brief to the Supreme Court, Jack Phillips clearly stated that he “would decline to create a wedding cake celebrating a same-sex marriage regardless of whether the customer is a same-sex couple or a heterosexual parent purchasing the cake” (emphasis mine). Yet at the same time, he “would celebrate a marriage between a man and a woman even if one or both spouses identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual” (emphasis mine).In other words: this is not about the person; it’s about the message.ERROR #2: Kimmel tells the story of the potential customers, but not the business owners of faith.In doing this, Kimmel missed a big opportunity to tell the stories of business owners of faith like Jack Phillips and Cathy Miller—and how they are being harassed by government agencies and dragged into court over this issue right now.So what should Kimmel’s skit have shown?The waiter should have played the government and the customer could have played the wedding vendor, and it would have been largely on-point. Jack Phillips and others are simply seeking to stay in the marketplace (the table), yet the government is coming to them and telling them to get out unless they modify their Christian beliefs. This is also happening at the hands of the ACLU in Michigan, where Christian adoption providers have a seat at the table along with pro-LGBT providers. Yet the ACLU is suing the state to force the Christian groups to leave because of their beliefs.Kimmel’s own skit helps show this. Near the end, he referenced a Hindu chef who didn’t want to prepare a steak for a potential customer because of his religious beliefs. Now, just imagine if that Hindu chef’s job had been to simply prepare vegetable side dishes, and then one day all of a sudden his boss tells him to start preparing steaks—or be fired. Cathy Miller’s story is like this chef’s, and it is a story that needs to be told. If Jimmy Kimmel doesn’t tell it, we gladly will.
Generation X and Millennials are old news; we are now turning our attention to Generation Z, the youngest generation of all. One research outfit recently conducted a groundbreaking study of the way this group sees the world, including ultimate matters of life—faith, meaning, and the existence of God. (Though Gen Z is defined as those born between 1999 to 2015, for the purpose of this study only those between ages of 13 and 18 were included.)When looking at differences between Christian and non-Christian members of Gen Z, the study’s authors report one of their major findings to be that “the problem of evil is a major barrier to faith” for 29 percent of non-Christian members of Gen Z.While this finding is in a new study, the objection raised by Gen Z has been around much longer. Decades ago, British author and scholar C.S. Lewis, who was a non-believer for years during his youth, dealt with the problem of evil in his book The Problem of Pain. In its introduction, Lewis writes: “I never noticed that the very strength and facility of the pessimists’ case at once poses us a problem. If the universe is so bad, or even half so bad, how on earth did human beings ever come to attribute it to the activity of a wise and good Creator?”Indeed, the reality that human beings are able to recognize evil at all shows us that we are comparing it to something else—that which is good. And if we acknowledge that we recognize we have a moral compass, we should ask where its reference point is.By appealing to God (or against God) to correct those things which our moral compass tells us are off course, don’t we already recognize him as the source? And if he is the source, he exists indeed.This may seem counterintuitive, but the fact that members of Gen Z are struggling over the problem of evil is actually a hopeful sign. In raising this objection, as Lewis once did, they show they are at least on the road to faith—as Lewis was as a young man. Let us pray and seek out opportunities to help them arrive at their destination.
A poem in honor of Abraham Lincoln's birthday.An Ode to the Lincoln Memorial“In this temple,As in the hearts of the peopleFor whom he saved the Union,The memory of Abraham LincolnIs enshrined forever.”Seated at the top of a hill,A blanket of white stone surrounds him.Wise but weary eyesFace the world below.A shame, he did not knowHow the world in front of him Would grow.In the reflection of his eyes,The battle not yet won.The blood-stained fieldsDrenched with sacrifice, And the world remained blind.Had he seen the endOf the fight for peace?The end had only begun—Discrimination to increase.A nation torn, but strengthened With hope.Lincoln’s leadership never to cease.
How often does Congress have the chance to directly prevent, with a single legislative act, the certain infliction of extreme physical pain on thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of helpless and innocent victims?Last week, the U.S. Senate missed an opportunity to do just that when 44 Democrats and two Republicans closed down debate on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The Act would have prohibited abortion after 20 weeks (five months) gestation, a stage at which unborn children can experience excruciating physical pain.The science is so clear on this point that hospitals now give anesthesia to children at this age when they undergo surgery in utero. But not when they are aborted by dismemberment or by piercing their bodies with a large needle to inject poison that causes heart failure.What would possess an individual, much less 46 members of Congress, to oppose legislation prohibiting this cruelty?Only One PercentSenator Angus King (I-Maine) is quoted in The Washington Post saying that he voted against the Pain-Capable bill because “ninety-nine percent of abortions take place before 20 weeks, so this is a solution in search of a problem.”Really? Let’s take a look at his numbers.An estimated one million abortions are performed annually in the U.S. If one percent of those abortions take place after the fifth month, then there are some 10,000 abortions in which unborn children are subjected to the extreme physical pain of dismemberment or lethal injection. Preventing cruelty to 10,000 pre-identified human victims is “a solution in search of a problem”?King and his Senate colleagues are permitting the violent and cruel treatment of unborn children—behavior that we forbid against prisoners of war, that we strive to prevent in human trafficking, and that we prohibit in treatment of animals.“They’re about to die anyway,” some might argue. But we forbid this kind of treatment for death row inmates when they are being executed. Whatever you may think of the death penalty, at least efforts are made to protect its recipients from pain during execution. Not so for unborn children.Another One Percent ArgumentSenator Lisa Murkowski, (R-Alaska) tweeted that, though she opposes post-20-week abortion, she refused to support the Pain-Capable bill because it lacked “sufficient” exceptions for “victims of rape and incest and in cases where the life or physical health of the mother is threatened.”Murkowski illustrates her concern this way: “For example, requiring a teenage girl who was raped by her father to report to law enforcement or a government agency prior to obtaining an abortion simply is not workable.”Let’s take a look at her logic.In Murkowski’s world, it is better for a teen to be subjected to a high-risk, late-term abortion and to then return to her home—where she is at high risk for further sexual abuse—than for the girl, or her doctor, to inform authorities of the crime that has been committed against her and protect her from ongoing danger.And, in Murkowski’s thinking, ensuring that the girl can be placed in this physical double jeopardy is so important that it warrants leaving not only her unborn child and those of other rape victims unprotected from the extreme physical pain of abortion, but the 9,900 other five-month-old children, as well.Where did that 9,900 figure come from? Some estimates of abortions obtained in cases of rape are as high as one percent. So, of the 10,000 post-five-month abortions performed in the U.S. annually, approximately 100 are performed on rape victims. In other words, Murkowski voted to permit the excruciatingly painful abortion of 10,000 late-term children because 100 of them may be children of rapists.Senator King says one percent (10,000) is too small a number of victims to be worth protecting from the equivalent of torture. Senator Murkowski seems to think that most of them do deserve protection, but shouldn’t receive it because one percent (100) of them may have been conceived in rape. The logic itself is tortuous.Rare, But Not Non-ExistentOpportunities to pass legislation with such immediate humanitarian impact are rare, but not as rare as you might think. Versions of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act have been passed by the House of Representatives not once, not twice, but three times (in 2013, 2015, and—the bill the Senate just nixed—in 2017). Each time, the Senate has voted in favor of continuing the cruelty.How many times will it take before the Senate votes in line with science and basic humanitarianism?Jay Sappington is a bioethicist, researcher, writer, educator, and policy advocate. He has worked with Heartbeat International and The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, among others.
Anyone who has spent any time perusing the blogosphere knows that there are thousands upon thousands of articles out there giving advice on marriage. I’ve certainly read my fair share, so I thought it would be helpful to distill the reflections that I thought were most insightful into one place. In honor of National Marriage Week, here are my four favorite musings on the beauty of marriage.1. Take Your Vows Seriously So That You Will Always Have Someone to Tell the Truth ToOne of the primary blessings of marriage is that it gives us a lifelong partner to confide in, no matter how unbearable life may become. The freedom that comes with the ability to be completely open and honest with our spouses is a wonderful thing. Jordan Peterson put it this way:What do you do when you get married? You take someone who’s just as useless and horrible as you are, and then you shackle yourself to them. And then you say, we’re not running away no matter what happens…If you can run away, you can’t tell each other the truth…If you don’t have someone around that can’t run away, then you can’t tell them the truth. If you can leave, then you don’t have to tell each other the truth. It’s as simple as that, because you can just leave. And then you don’t have anyone to tell the truth to.2. Use Your Spouse’s Criticism as an Opportunity to Deepen Your LoveBest-selling author Dr. Warren Farrell speaks of the critical importance of how we handle criticism from our spouse:Making marriages better serves everyone. Many couples with children who are legally married are psychologically divorced. Divorces are due less to problems with money, sex or children, and more to each partner feeling that her or his perspectives on money, sex, or children are rarely heard. When our partner airs her or his perspective, we often take it as criticism, and the Achilles’ heel of human beings is our inability to handle personal criticism from a loved one without becoming defensive.…I introduce in The Boy Crisis my “Altered Mindsets Method of Non-defensive Communication,” which has allowed couples to emotionally associate their partner’s criticism as an opportunity to deepen their love. It’s a method I have honed over two decades via couples’ communication workshops… [E]mpathy communication skills need to be part of every elementary school’s core curriculum… This is the most important single global change for love in our families and peace in the world.3. Sustaining Love Does Not Come NaturallyDr. Farrell further explains how sustaining love within a marriage does not come naturally, but yet this is an absolute must not only for the couple themselves, but for their children: “…[W]e have a ‘love dilemma’: while ‘falling in love’ is biologically natural, sustaining love is biologically unnatural. For our children to not fear marriage, then, they need to see that their parents have learned how to do what does not come naturally: sustain love.”So how can couples sustain love? Here is a great compilation of ways to do this in everyday life.4. ‘Thank you for choosing me.’This is from “Marriage According to 10 Couples”:“‘Thank you for choosing me.’ We often spontaneously use this line, communicating how grateful or undeserving we feel to be given such a genuine love. We’ve quickly learned that it is a choice that comes with each new sunrise in marriage, and it’s the deep confidence found in the other’s daily commitment that has moved mountains internally in our first year as newlyweds. ‘Thank you for choosing me …’ They are words we’ll whisper in each other’s ear well into old age; I’m certain of it.”—Angela Hoyer
Cecile Richards has announced she will resign this year as President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America after 12 years at the helm.Under her leadership, Planned Parenthood has come under federal investigation by both the Department of Justice and the FBI for illegally selling body parts of aborted children. Two of Planned Parenthood’s California customers for those baby parts have already admitted guilt and have payed over $7 million in a legal settlement for breaking state and federal laws that prohibit the practice. But this is only one of many scandals during her tenure. Planned Parenthood has been convicted of Medicaid billing fraud in several states. It has failed to report suspected physical abuse of clients, covered up alleged prostitution pimps, and recommended that underage clients falsify documents, for example. And, tragically, women have died from Planned Parenthood abortions.Under her leadership, Planned Parenthood has consistently claimed that abortion is not their core business. This has again and again been exposed for the sham that it is. Even as the overall abortion rate in the U.S. declines, and their own client base shrinks, Planned Parenthood remains the abortion industry’s largest business, performing over 320,000 abortions per year, about a third of the nation’s annual total. Former Planned Parenthood Clinic Director Abby Johnson, who left the organization in 2009, wrote that being assigned abortion sales quotas was the beginning of the end of her relationship with the abortion giant.Planned Parenthood’s own annual reports belie Cecile’s claim that they are an essential provider of non-abortion services to women. In fact, their non-abortion services are in steep decline. Out of 9.5 million “services” provided in 2016-17, for example, only 7,762 were for prenatal care—a miniscule 0.0008%, which is an 80% drop since 2009. Adoption referrals were even more rare at just under 3,889 (0.0004%). Breast exams are down 64% since 2004 (these are the equivalent of self-exams—no Planned Parenthood center is licensed to do mammograms, despite Richards’ years of public assertions to the contrary). At an organization claiming to be the nation’s premier and essential provider of reproductive health care, that’s a remarkable failure to serve.During Richards’ tenure, Planned Parenthood has continued the veneration of its founder, Margaret Sanger, a leading proponent of racial eugenics, who saw Planned Parenthood (originally named The Birth Control League) as a way to prevent the propagation of “human weeds”—reproduction by segments of society she deemed deplorable and unfit to live. Today, 22 of Planned Parenthood’s 25 new abortion “mega-clinics” are strategically placed within walking distance of minority neighborhoods. And every year, Planned Parenthood awards their “highest honor”—the Margaret Sanger Award—to political leaders, members of the media, and others who promote the organization’s abortion business and support funding the organization with tax dollars.Meanwhile, Americans are catching on to the scandal of Planned Parenthood’s tax dollar revolving door. The organization receives a whopping half a billion dollars in tax money each year from grants and Medicaid reimbursements. Its political action arm in turn donates millions to the election campaigns of candidates who will vote for continuing the tax funding. “Your tax dollars at work.”Cecile Richards knows most Americans oppose paying for elective abortions with taxes, and she knows Planned Parenthood is poised to lose substantial tax monies in the coming months. Several states have already begun redirecting Medicaid subsidies away from Planned Parenthood to existing community health centers that provide more services than Planned Parenthood, but do not perform abortions. There have also been moves in Congress to end federal funding of Planned Parenthood’s business. With Planned Parenthood’s network of clinics shrinking (they have closed over 250 centers in the past few years) and their non-abortion services declining precipitously, there is no justification for the increased tax funding the nation’s largest abortion business has garnered each year for so many years. The money would be much better spent to support the over 13,500 community health clinics nationwide that provide a wider array of services to a much broader geographic and demographic swath of the population than the abortion giant does.Cecile’s resignation gives Planned Parenthood the opportunity to come clean and clean house.It’s a good time to come clean about the baby parts business some of their centers have been running out the back door, and clean house of anyone involved.It’s a good time to come clean about the central purpose of their business—performing abortions—and clean house of anyone misrepresenting that crucial truth. It’s a good time to come clean about Margaret Sanger’s eugenicist vision, and to renounce the practice of targeting communities of color.And it’s a good time for Planned Parenthood to stand on its own two financial feet instead of demanding that taxpayers provide over half a billion dollars annually to a business whose main product—abortion—is something Americans don’t believe taxpayers should pay for.Jay Sappington is a bioethicist, researcher, writer, educator, and policy advocate. He has worked with Heartbeat International and The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, among others.

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