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In a startling new survey of college students conducted by the Brookings Institution, it was found that fully one in five students think that “using violence to disrupt a controversial speaker is acceptable.” There were “no statistically significant differences in response by political party affiliation.”Other results from the survey indicate that 51 percent of students think that “shouting over controversial speakers so they can’t be heard” is acceptable. Sixty-two percent of Democrats agreed that this behavior was acceptable, compared to 39 percent of Republicans.These disturbing findings have been born out in recent in events on college campuses across the country. This past March, students at Middlebury College in Vermont physically assaulted a professor who was accompanying guest speaker Charles Murray as he attempted to leave the campus, whose planned speech was interrupted to the point that he could not continue it. Just last week, The University of California Berkeley had to spend $600,000 on security to ensure that violent riots did not break out during Ben Shapiro’s speech there.One has to wonder, what is it about free speech that many college students are so afraid of? What is the point of using violent and disruptive tactics to silence speakers who may have viewpoints that differ from these students? Wouldn’t engaging in respectful debate be more beneficial for everyone involved? If a certain viewpoint is seen as being so terrible as to be violently suppressed, why not simply demonstrate the terribleness of this viewpoint through rational discourse?The protection of free speech is an issue that people of all political viewpoints must demand as a protected First Amendment right on college campuses. Thankfully, there are hopeful signs that more and more people from across the political spectrum are waking up to the urgency of this free speech crisis. Recently, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens spoke eloquently about this on Real Time with Bill Maher:“Too many campus administrators are basically cowed by small minorities of totalitarian-minded students who just don’t want to hear anything except what they’re disposed to agree with. The job of grownups is to behave like grownups and say, ‘no.’ Intellectually, a college is not a ‘safe space.’ Intellectually, a college is going to be a place where your ideas are harmed, and perhaps even destroyed, and that’s as it should be.”Author and professor Salman Rushdie brought this point home superbly:“A college should be a ‘safe space’ for thought, not a ‘safe space’ from thought. And if you go to college and you never hear anything you haven’t thought before, then you may as well have stayed home. And people who think that they should never hear things that would upset them should go somewhere else and leave that space available to somebody who can benefit from what is called ‘education.’”
Dear Friends,In discussing the “problem of pain,” author Joe Heschmeyer recently wrote that “…the whole story of the Fall is that things aren’t how they ought to be, how they aren’t how they were intended to be, and how we’re the ones who screwed them up. You can read that story in Genesis, or watch it on the nightly news.” Bishop Robert Barron summed up this state of affairs concisely: “The human race is best characterized as a dysfunctional spiritual family, all of us having been marked from birth by the effects of sin. Sin has found its way into every aspect of human life, personally and institutionally. We would be hopelessly naïve to think otherwise.”Atheists often argue that it is absurd to believe in God when there is so much “dysfunction,” suffering, and pain in the world. But as Heschmeyer points out, if there is no God, what can possibly account for all of the beauty in the world? He illustrates this by quoting the musician Joanna Newsom as she discussed what she was going through while recording an album:“The thing that I was experiencing and dwelling on the entire time is that there are so many things that are not OK and that will never be OK again,” says Newsom. “But there’s also so many things that are OK and good that sometimes it makes you crumple over with being alive. We are allowed such an insane depth of beauty and enjoyment in this lifetime. It’s what my dad talks about sometimes. He says the only way that he knows there’s a God is that there’s so much gratuitous joy in this life. And that’s his only proof. There’s so many joys that do not assist in the propagation of the race or self-preservation. There’s no point whatsoever. They are so excessively, mind-bogglingly joy-producing that they distract from the very functions that are supposed to promote human life. They can leave you stupefied, monastic, not productive in any way, shape or form. And those joys are there and they are unflagging and they are ever-growing…”This is part of what makes our Creator so amazing. Not only did He give us “a Savior, someone who can break into our dysfunction from the outside and heal us” (Bishop Barron’s words), He also gives us moments of “gratuitous joy” as we make our way through this earthly life. May we be forever thankful for this gift freely given to us, and may we freely give of ourselves in return.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 ArticlesCan a Christian Serve as a Judge Anymore? – Travis WeberHow the Left Uses Fake Science to Advance Its AgendaWill FEMA Treat Churches Fairly? – Travis WeberThe Rights that Students and Parents Have to Challenge Transgender PoliciesAdvice for Parents On Challenging Transgender Policies in Public SchoolsMasterpiece Cakeshop Attorneys File Merits Brief with the Supreme Court – Travis Weber Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareWhy religious liberty matters for creativity – Jason Thacker, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionFaith groups provide the bulk of disaster recovery, in coordination with FEMA – Paul Singer, USA TodayWhat It’s Like to Be Smeared by the Southern Poverty Law Center – Carol M. Swain, The Wall Street JournalSenate Democrats show off their anti-religious bigotry – Michael Gerson, The Washington PostMedia should not embrace far-left 'poverty' law firm – Colorado Springs GazetteWill the IRS investigate the SPLC on taxes? – Judson Phillips, The Washington TimesNon-Profit Leaders Call on Media to Stop Citing Southern Poverty Law Center – Liberty McArtor, The StreamCalifornia bill seeks to punish ‘misgendering’ with jail time – Mary Rezac, Crux3 Texas Churches Sue FEMA Over Policy Banning Churches From Receiving Harvey Disaster Relief – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostDemocratic Congressman Says He's Introducing A Bill To Punish Campus 'Hate Speech' – Emily Zanotti, The Daily WireUK Speaker: Same-Sex Marriage Won’t Be ‘Proper’ Until Churches Can’t Opt Out – Tyler O’Neil, PJ MediaU.S. Senators Revive Anti-Catholic Bigotry To Intimidate Religious People – Paul C. Binotto, The Federalist'Attacks on Religious Liberty' in US Increased 133 Percent in Last 5 Years: Report – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post"Free to Believe"Judge Suspends City’s Ban of Farmers Over Their Marriage Views – Kelsey Harkness, The Daily Signal4 Key Arguments We Are Making to Defend Jack Phillips at the Supreme Court – Sarah Kramer, Alliance Defending FreedomThey Serve Gay Clients All The Time. So Why Won’t They Cater A Same-Sex Wedding? – Josh Shepherd, The FederalistYour Beliefs Are No Longer Allowed – Taylor Lewis, American ThinkerProfessors told to report students who make campus ‘less inclusive’ to Behavior Assessment Team – Andrew Johnson, The College FixInternational Religious FreedomWhat’s changed in Britain since same-sex marriage? – David Sergeant, The Spectator AustraliaCatholic Priest Released After 18 Months’ Captivity – Elise Harris, National Catholic RegisterFulani herdsmen kill 20 Christians in Nigeria – Onize Ohikere, WORLD LifeAbortionWhen Planned Parenthood closes, women find real health care at hundreds of other clinics – Rebecca Downs, Live ActionPodcast: Pro-life apologetics; Arguments from reason that align with scripture – Scott Klusendorf, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionRed State-Blue State Abortion Divide Deepens – Brian Fraga, National Catholic Register5 new scientific discoveries that show what’s happening to the child in the womb – Kristi Burton Brown, Live ActionCan We Stop an International Roe v. Wade? – Stefano Gennarini, Public DiscourseU.S. Blasts UNFPA Support for China’s Birth Control Policy – Susan Yoshihara, C-FamWhy the pro-choice side is afraid of giving women the choice of abortion pill reversal – Marcie Little, Live ActionOne last chance to defund Planned Parenthood may lie in the Senate’s hands – Susan Michelle-Hanson, Live ActionAdoptionPodcast: Are you mentally healthy enough? Preparing for adoption’s hardships – Sharen Ford, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionBioethicsThe American Medical Association vs. Human Nature – Philip Hawley, Jr., Public DiscourseDoctor wants D.C.’s assisted suicide law repealed: A ‘right to die’ soon creates a ‘duty to die’ – Cassy Fiano, Live ActionThe Contagion of Euthanasia and the Corruption of Compassion – Arthur Goldberg and Shimon Cowen, Public DiscourseObamacareAfter Experiencing British And U.S. Health Care, This Family Says Single-Payer Is Abominable – Jayme Metzgar, The Federalist FamilyEconomics/EducationAs Workers Expect Less, Job Satisfaction Rises – Lauren Weber, The Wall Street JournalThis is why a growing number of teachers want more lessons on religion in school – Kelsey Dallas, Deseret NewsHow a Democratic New York City Councilwoman Became a Crusader for School Choice – Eva Moskowitz, National ReviewA Debt Crisis Is Coming, and We’re All to Blame – Walter E. Williams, The Daily SignalFive Facts About Families and Poverty – Alysse ElHage, Family StudiesMarriageNew research says this kind of daily prayer can change your marriage – Calah Alexander, AleteiaHow to Align Your Dreams as a Couple – Greg Smalley and Erin Smalley, Focus on the FamilyAre You ‘Not Yet Married’? – Marshall Segal, Desiring GodThe Infectious Effects of Divorce and Marriage – Luma Simms, Family StudiesAs U.S. marriage rate hovers at 50%, education gap in marital status widens – Kim Parker and Renee Stepler, Pew Research CenterFaith/Character/CultureWhy Our Obsession With TV Antiheroes Is Destroying Our Souls – Georgi Boorman, The FederalistThe Secret Power of Family Work – Jenet Erickson, Family StudiesDoes The Immaterial Exist? – Joe Heschmeyer, Word On FireWhy religion is not going away and science will not destroy it – Peter Harrison, AeonOvercoming Our Smartphone Addiction – Christopher O. Blum and Joshua P. Hochschild, CrisisIf You Want to Live Truly, Learn to Die Daily – Liz Wann, Desiring GodHuman SexualityOversexed ed – Emily Belz, WORLDParents pull children from prestigious school after transgender ‘indoctrination’ in kindergarten – Bradford Richardson, The Washington TimesHow The Transgender Crusade Made Me Rethink My Support For Gay Marriage – Bethany Mandel, The FederalistMislabeled sex ed – Emily Belz, WORLDWhy I Don’t Use Female Pronouns For My Transgender Brother – Michael Booker, The FederalistSex, Sanity and Beliefs That ‘Live Loudly’ Within Us – Archbishop Charles Chaput, National Catholic RegisterWhat science really has to say about sexuality and gender – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionHuman TraffickingHuman-Trafficking Fighters Hope for Lift From Proposed New Legislation – Peter Jesserer Smith, National Catholic RegisterGoogle and Sex Traffickers Like Backpage.com – Nicholas Kristof, The New York TimesA Pivotal New Goal: Shedding Light on the Sexual Exploitation of Boys and Men – Katherine Blakeman, National Center on Sexual ExploitationPornographyWhat I told my 7-year-old when he asked what porn was – Matt Fradd, AleteiaDr. Sharon Cooper, MD Discusses How Pornography Harms Children – Katherine Blakeman, National Center on Sexual ExploitationWhy Watching Porn Leaves You Feeling Lonelier Than Before – Fight the New Drug
FRC hosted a Speaker Series event yesterday to launch Austin Ruse’s new book Fake Science: Exposing the Left's Skewed Statistics, Fuzzy Facts, and Dodgy Data. In his remarks, Ruse made the perceptive observation that fake science is more dangerous than fake news because scientific statistics, no matter their dubious origins, tend to lodge in our brains and stay there, whereas fake news is simply superseded by the next news cycle.Here are some examples of the fake science that he cites in his book:Proponents of Missouri’s constitutional amendment to legalize cloning in 2006 argued that it would lead to a plethora of treatments and cures for incurable diseases. Eleven years later, not one treatment or cure has been produced.Sixteen years ago, Al Gore claimed that global warming would wipe out polar bears. Today, the polar bear population remains the same as it was when Gore made his claim.Homosexuality is said to be inborn and unchangeable. Researchers have in fact never found a “gay gene,” nor have they found that those identifying as homosexual have different brains than everyone else.The state of California claims that acrylamide, a naturally occurring chemical compound that is found in bread, cereal, cookies, potato chips, French fries, and other foods, causes cancer. In fact, one would have to consume 182 pounds of French fries per day to hit the cancer “danger zone.”Activists and some scientists claim that genetically modified rice causes cancer. This has never been proven and could in fact save hundreds of thousands from blindness and even death. Approximately 250,000 children go blind every year because they lack an essential mineral that is found in this kind of rice. The rice has never gone to market because environmentalists have held it up for over 25 years.Abortion advocates claim that pregnancy does not begin until the fertilized ovum attaches to the uterine wall. In fact, most medical textbooks and dictionaries still say that pregnancy, and therefore human life, begins at conception.Sexual revolutionaries in the 60’s said and continue to say that children do not need their moms and dads. In fact, social science data shows voluminously that children do best when raised in the home of their married biological mother and father—anything less than this increases the risk of the child developing dangerous pathologies.View the entire event to learn more about this important issue.
Last week, three Texas churches filed a lawsuit against FEMA due to its policy of denying disaster relief to churches and other institutions simply because of their religious nature.Under FEMA’s public assistance disaster relief program, repair money is available to a host of entities providing both critical and noncritical services. Examples of noncritical services include venues hosting art classes, food assistance services, health and safety programs, senior services, museums, zoos, and even stamp and coin collecting. Moreover, aid is also available to what are termed “various social functions of community groups.” Yet churches are banned under this policy because they are “religious.”However, Hurricane Harvey didn’t discriminate in its choice of targets. When the storm hit the Texas coast, Harvest Family Church, Hi-Way Tabernacle, and Rockport First Assembly of God were all extensively damaged. Roofs caved in, trees fell in the buildings, and flooding caused serious damage to multiple structures. These churches need what is known as “emergency work” under FEMA’s public assistance program, yet they will be denied such relief because they are not “eligible” – solely because they are religious. Unfortunately, without debris removal and repair, according to the churches, people using their facilities and grounds face serious health and safety concerns as a result of “broken glass, sharp metal and wood, downed trees, falling limbs, mold and mildew, slick surfaces, and structures that are weakened by high winds and flooding.” While Harvey didn’t discriminate, FEMA did, and as a result the churches filed a lawsuit against FEMA challenging its ban as a violation of the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment.Under Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, a case the Supreme Court decided earlier this year, the government cannot discriminate against religious entities in a public grant program just because they are religious. The Court repeatedly made this point in its opinion in that case:“This Court has repeatedly confirmed that denying a generally available benefit solely on account of religious identity imposes a penalty on the free exercise of religion.”“The express discrimination against religious exercise here is not the denial of a grant, but rather the refusal to allow the Church—solely because it is a church—to compete with secular organizations for a grant.”“Trinity Lutheran is not claiming any entitlement to a subsidy. It instead asserts a right to participate in a government benefit program without having to disavow its religious character. . . . The express discrimination against religious exercise here is not the denial of a grant, but rather the refusal to allow the Church—solely because it is a church—to compete with secular organizations for a grant.”“In this case, there is no dispute that Trinity Lutheran is put to the choice between being a church and receiving a government benefit. The rule is simple: No churches need apply.”“The State in this case expressly requires Trinity Lu­theran to renounce its religious character in order to participate in an otherwise generally available public benefit program, for which it is fully qualified.”“The State has pursued its preferred policy to the point of expressly denying a qualified religious entity a public benefit solely because of its religious character. Under our precedents, that goes too far. The Department’s policy violates the Free Exercise Clause.”But the exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution all the same, and cannot stand.Likewise, the government can’t discriminate against the churches in this case. As the churches point out in their complaint, the government is providing public assistance repair money toward venues hosting “social activities to pursue items of mutual interest . . . educational enrichment activit[ies] . . . service[s] or activit[ies] intended to serve a specific group of individuals,” and “community board meeting[s].” There is no substantive difference between those activities whether they are hosted in or outside of a church. Yet a church hosting such activities would be denied recovery funds simply because it is “religious.”In Justice Breyer’s concurring opinion in Trinity Lutheran, and at oral argument in that case, one of the points raised was that if the government flatly excludes public money from going to religious institutions, it would have to deny them services like law enforcement and fire emergency services. This would be the logical implication of the position, yet everyone can see it is ludicrous. If these churches would not be denied fire emergency services, why should they be denied money to address the extremely dangerous condition of their properties?When the issue became public, President Trump seemed to side with the churches, tweeting: “Churches in Texas should be entitled to reimbursement from FEMA Relief Funds for helping victims of Hurricane Harvey (just like others).”And why not, when faith groups and churches are providing the lion’s share of the effort toward cleaning up after Harvey and other disasters? Even the churches in this case are already caring for many in the community; it would add insult to injury to deny them the same aid offered to others. As the complaint points out,“...[A]s it did in the aftermath of Hurricanes Rita and Ike, Hi-Way Tabernacle is currently serving as a staging center for FEMA and local government relief efforts. Despite suffering significant flooding and damage, the Tabernacle quickly got its facilities to a serviceable state and immediately began taking in evacuees. As of September 4, the church was sheltering between 60 and 70 people, with more expected. The Tabernacle’s gym has been transformed into a warehouse for the county, storing and distributing food, water, hygiene products, and clothing. Over 8,000 FEMA emergency meals have been distributed from the Tabernacle’s facilities. Relief workers are using the facilities to provide both medical services and haircuts to victims. The Tabernacle has been informed that governmental disaster relief helicopters may be landing on its property as well.”Let us hope this issue is fixed soon, and no entity is denied a spot in the public square just because it is religious.
In part two of our “Back to School” Facebook Live series, FRC policy experts Sarah Perry and Cathy Ruse discuss the legal status of transgender policies in public schools, what rights students and parents have to fight these ideological policies, and much more. Here is a summary of some key points from this discussion:Despite the fact that there is no federal mandate to enshrine transgender policies in public schools, individual schools and states can (and in some cases are) mandating these controversial policies.This issue goes well beyond bathrooms – 17 different areas within school policy can be affected by the implementation of transgender ideologies, including showers, overnight sleeping accommodations, the forced use of pronouns, etc. In Fairfax County and some other school systems, little girls are being taught that they may grow up to be men, and little boys are being taught that they may grow up to be women.Some public schools are now framing “children’s rights” in terms of students who identify as “transgender” using school as the time where they are free to express their “true selves”; if parents object to their children’s behavior, they are seen as being in the way of their children’s freedom.Can schools force students to call a fellow student by the sex that they identify as (that is opposite from their biological sex)? Our First Amendment right to not be compelled to speak should guard against this, but this could very well be challenged in court in the future.Most states do allow parents to opt their children out of sex-ed classes. However, “gender identity” is increasingly being taught outside of the sex-ed curriculum in “general health” classes where there is no option to opt out. Parents have to fight at the state level and the school board level for the right to opt their children out of any lessons they deem objectionable.Students who are being forced to undress in locker rooms in front of those of the opposite biological sex can ask for accommodations to be able to use a separate facility; this may be the only short-term recourse.In the vast majority of states, parents have the right to review curriculum, lesson plans, and lesson materials. If you can’t opt your child out of the objectionable material, you can at least prepare them for what they will encounter.It is not the gender-confused child, their parents, the teachers, or the school that should be blamed in all of this; they may be under pressure from outside forces such as the state or transgender activists. Compassion is always the appropriate response. It is critical to remember that 80 to 90 percent of gender-confused children will ultimately accept their true biology. By “affirming” a child in the opposite gender, these policies are locking a child into something they will likely normally grow out of.View the full video to find out more.
Just in time for the new school year, FRC presents its Facebook Live “Back to School” series. In our first video, FRC policy experts Sarah Perry and Peter Sprigg answer questions about transgender policies, gender pronouns, and more. Below are a few recommendations for parents regarding the increasing prevalence of transgender ideologies in school systems across the country.If school board administrators at your child’s school claim that transgender policies must be put in place in public schools so that they will not lose federal funding, they are not being truthful. The Trump administration withdrew the Obama administration’s May 2016 guidance instructing schools to allow transgender students to use the locker rooms and restrooms of their choice.Become a citizen advocate: Find out what precisely is being taught to your child regarding sexuality and what transgender restroom/locker room policies are in place. If you verify that radical transgender ideologies are being taught and/or enforced in your child’s school system, approach the school administration in hierarchical order with your concerns; this will ensure the best chance of success. Start with the classroom teacher; if your concerns are not satisfactorily addressed, move on to the school principal, then to the school superintendent, then to the elective school board.View the full video to find out more.For further guidance, be sure to download our brochure “A Parent’s Guide to the Transgender Movement in Education.”
Last week, attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom (representing Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop) filed their merits brief with the Supreme Court. This is the primary written argument submitted to the Court explaining why Jack Phillips should win what could be the most important religious liberty case of the post-Obergefell era. After his opponents file their brief and the Court holds oral argument, it will decide this case sometime next year.In their brief, Jack’s attorneys elaborate on a number of aspects of the case, including how and why Jack has a free exercise and free speech right to conduct his activities according to his faith as he sees fit. These are important arguments to understand, especially in light of all the misinformation being reported about the case.You can find ADF’s brief here.Given the importance of the case, FRC plans to file an amicus brief with the Supreme Court shortly, explaining why it should rule in Jack’s favor.
Dear Friends,In times of great crisis, it’s easy to feel like we are powerless, with no control over the direction of our lives. For the victims of the flooding in Houston and the surrounding region, feelings like these are certainly all too common right now. With the loss of family members, homes, and personal possessions, and with the surreal reality of not being able to recognize your own neighborhood and city because of flooding, I can only imagine the deep sense of loss and hopelessness that the flood victims must be going through, perhaps with no clear direction on how to move forward with life.For those of us who are not directly affected by the flooding and are feeling powerless to help, there are indeed direct ways that we can make a difference, first by praying for the victims and their families, and secondly by charitable giving if we are able.Strangely, great calamity can also bring with it a sense of serenity. How is this possible? Serenity can come when we realize that we are indeed powerless, and therefore are left with one option: simply to trust in God and do what we can, to move one foot in front of the other, to lend a helping hand wherever it is needed. Extenuating circumstances that are beyond our control have a way of forcing us to slow down, giving us a kind of tunnel vision to focus on the basics of life: food, clothing, shelter, helping those in need. This forced limitation of options and elimination of worldly distractions can bring with it a sense of peaceful resignation to accept whatever may come, because what other option is there? As we have seen in Houston, an amazing sense of solidarity can develop from these circumstances. A widespread disaster quickly makes it clear that despite people’s political and cultural differences, we are all ultimately in this thing called “life” together.As the flooding in Texas and every other immense catastrophe has shown, good always comes out of even the direst situations. When we humbly accept what comes our way, God rewards our trust with His grace, mercy, and love.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 ArticlesHistorical Revisionism – Ken BlackwellThe Battle for Truth and Love – Marcus HarrisWays to Help Texas Flood VictimsScience vs. Science on USDA Nominee’s Views of “LGBT Behavior” and “Choice” – Peter SpriggInternational Religious Freedom in 2016: Still Work to Be Done – Travis WeberWhy Is Iceland “Eradicating” People With Down Syndrome? – Dan Hart Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public Square5-Year FRC Shooting Anniversary Offers A Study In Presidential Reactions To Hate Crimes – Mollie Hemingway, The FederalistWhy Is the Southern Poverty Law Center Targeting Liberals? – Ayaan Hirsi Ali, The New York TimesChristian ministry sues after being listed as 'hate' group alongside KKK and neo-Nazis – Harry Farley, Christian TodaySouthern Poverty Law Center Transfers Millions in Cash to Offshore Entities – Joe Schoffstall, The Washington Free BeaconJ.P. Morgan’s Hate List – Kimberley A. Strassel, The Wall Street JournalSouthern Poverty Law Center: ‘Our Aim In Life Is to Destroy These Groups, Completely’ – Tyler O’Neil, PJ MediaSPLC ‘Hate Map’ Targets Christians, Pro-Family Groups – Joan Frawley Desmond, National Catholic RegisterLiberal law center demonizes Christian foes of LGBTQ agenda as ‘hate groups’ – Peter LaBarbera, LifeSiteNewsGroups: Justice court filings defy Trump promises on religious freedom – John Solomon, The HillA Wisconsin Judge Builds the Case for Religious Freedom – Rod Anderson, The Christian PostPolitical CEOs – Mark Baurlein, First ThingsSt. Louis’s Unholy War on Religious Liberty – Nathanael Blake, Public DiscourseAs College Students Return to Campus, Let’s Allow Free Speech to Reign – Carson Holloway, The Daily SignalWhy a British Muslim Is Suing the Southern Poverty Law Center – Chris Tomlinson, Breitbart"Free to Believe"Cake artist to Supreme Court: Affirm artistic freedom, free speech – Alliance Defending FreedomCourt rules high school football coach cannot pray on the field – Todd Starnes, Fox NewsMasterpiece Cakeshop: Can the State Force Us to Agree with Its Views? – Jonathan Scruggs, National ReviewCourt solidifies victory for photographer, other Wisconsin creative professionals – Alliance Defending FreedomTeacher: Dear Parents, Tell Your Kids to Stop Talking About God – ToddStarnes.comFirst Grader Sent to Office, Investigated, for “Pronoun Mishap” – Todd Starnes, TownhallInternational Religious FreedomChristianity Could Vanish From Middle East by 2025 If Terrorism Continues, Believers Warn – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostEgypt Closes Church Over Muslim Extremist Opposition, Blocks Worship at Another – Samuel Smith, The Christian PostState Dept. Releases Report on Status of Religious Freedom in 199 Countries – 21st Century WilberforceSudan Arrests 7 Pastors Who Refused to Give Gov't Control of Denomination – Samuel Smith, The Christian PostTop 5 Worst Countries With Blasphemy Laws Ranked by USCIRF, One Christian Nation Listed at No. 7 – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian Post LifeAbortionTop 10 Reasons Why It’s Good to be Pro-Life – Maria Gallagher, LifeNewsPro-Choicers Should Explain Why They Think Eugenics Is Acceptable – David Harsanyi, The FederalistTexas permanently bans taxpayer funding of abortion – Fr. Mark Hodges, LifeSiteNewsShunning The Disabled – J.D. Flynn, First ThingsOregon governor signs bill offering free abortions to citizens and undocumented immigrants – Becky Yeh, Live ActionTen (Bad, But Popular) Arguments for Abortion – David Hershenov, Public DiscourseAbortion Groups Attack Religious Medical Providers, Right of Conscience for Health Workers – Rebecca Oas, C-FamFighting for Life in the ‘Abortion Capital of the Western World’ – Jim Graves, National Catholic RegisterHidden Abuse of Women: Coerced Abortions – Colin LeCroy, National ReviewAdoptionGroup Works to Promote Adoption as Positive Parenting Option – Megan Reuther, WHOTVBioethicsIt’s a Culture War, Stupid – George Weigel, First ThingsHow one man’s fight to save his dying wife allowed him to witness two miracles of life – Susan Michelle-Hanson, Live ActionThe Charlie Gard Legacy: Forced Euthanasia – Chris Michalski, The StreamIceland Capital’s Only Baptist Pastor Doesn’t Want Down Syndrome Eliminated – Gunnar Ingi Gunnarsson, Christianity TodayObamacareAmerica Already Has A Single-Payer System, And It’s Killing Veterans Like Me – Jonathan LaForce, The FederalistObamacare Insurer Lost $57.6 Million in First Half of 2017 – Robert Donachie, The Daily SignalHow House Conservatives Plan to Revive Obamacare Repeal, and Why It Could Work – Rachel del Guidice, The Daily Signal FamilyEconomics/EducationThe Crisis of the Christian Colleges – Stephen Baskerville, CrisisThe Need for Thick Schools: Classical Education Against Cynicism – Casey Shutt, Public DiscoursePodcast: Sen. Ben Sasse and Russell Moore discuss parenting, education, and vocation in an era of historic disruptions in the workforce – Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionAmerica, Home of the Transactional Marriage – Victor Tan Chen, The AtlanticMarriageWhy you should brag about your husband – Jenna McDonald, AleteiaThis Is the Truth About Good Communication in Marriage – Laura Triggs, VerilyHas Marriage Become My Idol? – John Piper, Desiring GodHow trials can make your marriage better – Sarah Walton, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionWant a better marriage? Share a sport – Craig Swalboski, Post-BulletinRelationship Standard Bearing: When It’s Not Okay to Not Be Okay – Kelly M. Roberts, Family StudiesFaith/Character/CultureThe iPhone and Us – Daniel Ross Goodman, Public DiscourseMichael Cromartie, R.I.P. – Ethics & Public Policy CenterAfter the Flood, All the Colors Come Out – Jared C. Wilson, The Gospel CoalitionSix Questions to Ask Before You Binge on Netflix – John Piper, Desiring GodAtheism and the Problem of Beauty – Joe Heschmeyer, Word On FireThe Christian Understanding of the Human Person – Gerhard Cardinal Müller, PrinciplesHuman SexualityVideo: How do you teach your children about manhood and womanhood from a biblical perspective? – Daniel Akin, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionPrecious Clarity on Human Sexuality: Introducing the Nashville Statement – John Piper, Desiring GodMapping the New Mating Market: A Review of Cheap Sex – Helen Alvaré, Family StudiesHow Catholics Can Welcome LGBT Believers – Cardinal Robert Sarah, The Wall Street JournalUNESCO Promotes Sex-Change and Abortion for Kids – Marianna Orlandi, C-FamPreventing sexual violence starts with what we teach our boys – Maryjo Oster, Child TrendsHuman TraffickingVideo: Fighting Human Trafficking in America – Dallas Theological SeminaryGoogle Attempts to Block Bill to Hold Sex-Traffickers Accountable – Lisa Correnti, C-FamComboni nun answers ‘scream of pain’ of human trafficking victims Inés – Inés San Martín, CruxPornographyPastor fired for porn addiction offers help to fellow strugglers – Greg Garrison, Alabama LivingYou Are Not Addicted: The Power to Resist Pornography – John Piper, Desiring GodI Was a Pastor Hooked on Porn – Garrett Kell, The Gospel Coalition4 Signs Your Man Is Serious About Quitting Porn – Monica Gabriel Marshall, Verily
If one were to question the moral fortitude of current Christians in America, one might conclude that a generation of Christians would rather be culturally acceptable than identify with the commandments of Jesus.According to a survey conducted by the American Culture and Faith Institute, conservative pastors are reticent to speak about cultural issues for fear of appearing political and losing congregants. While many Christians around the world are courageously living in the midst of vile persecution for the sake of a faith they consider worth dying for, the American church has become sheepishly acquiescent to the demands for moral equivalency for the lifestyles of those who lack moral clarity. As the church, we have allowed the culture to define truth and love for us, and this has been a great detriment not only to our witness in the world, but to our own families. Whether we realize it or not, we are in a spiritual battle to define and live out the meaning of truth and love.Research has shown that with every subsequent generation, those who call themselves followers of Jesus continue to convert to the gospel of moral relativism. As a culture, we now value achieving self-fulfillment by any means necessary, even if those means are destructive. Even though a majority of Christians would agree that God is the author of moral truth, many actually believe that truth is relative to one’s experiences and life circumstances.Look no further than the growing acceptance of radical sexual autonomy among mainline protestant denominations and millennials to see how far we have fallen from the biblical standard of truth and love. Even though the Bible is clear about sin and its consequences, many Christians seem more concerned with appearing “judgmental” and “unloving” rather than calling people out of darkness into light. Ultimately, we need to repent and come back to the essence of what truth and love really entail.Simply put, Jesus is truth and love. You cannot have one without the other. He is the Lion and the Lamb. We either receive all of Him or none of Him at all. We cannot pick and choose which facets of Jesus’ nature we want to keep to fit our desires. The truth that has been established by God is eternal and will never bend to culture. It is the greatest story of love ever displayed. The truth is that God in his mercy sent Jesus to save us from our sins so that we may be holy and blameless before Him. The truth is that God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son so that all who believe in Him will not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).The fact of the matter is this: it is not very loving of us to give credence to sinful proclivities from which Jesus died to save the world. Those of us who have children know this to be fundamentally true. We would never, in the name of love, allow our children to run out onto a busy highway just because they believed it was their prerogative. The church in America must develop a backbone like the early church possessed, and speak the truth in love and grace. There is a battle being waged, and it is imperative that we let our love for God and His commandments shape how we think and live. As ambassadors of Christ, we have been called to be distinct and to call the world to reconciliation with God. It is only in a reconciled relationship with God that the world will find true freedom and the highest ideal of fulfillment.
The scale of flooding that has inundated Houston and the surrounding region of Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey is shocking. As Christians, we are called to help those in need, first through prayer, and second through charitable work if we are able.Here is a list of reputable organizations to donate to that are currently on the ground providing much needed aid:Samaritan’s PurseSouthern Baptist Disaster ReliefTexas Baptist Men’s Disaster Relief
The Left is going after another of President Trump’s nominees to an executive branch post—Samuel H. Clovis, Jr., who has been tapped to serve as Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education, and Economics.When his nomination was announced last month, the chief focus of the administration’s critics was that Mr. Clovis is “not a scientist,” yet is being nominated to be the Department of Agriculture’s “chief scientist.” He was also attacked for being a “skeptic” on the issue of “climate change” science.Critics focused on Clovis’ background as a radio talk show host and an unsuccessful political candidate—glossing over the fact that he has both an MBA and a Ph.D. in Public Administration, and had been a professor of economics at two different colleges (thus checking off both the “Education” and “Economics” parts of the job for which he has been nominated).Recently, however, Mr. Clovis came under further attack for something seemingly unrelated to agriculture—namely, his position on homosexuality. Critics mined his radio commentaries for remarks they considered controversial—such as slippery slope arguments regarding the consequences of redefining “marriage” to include same-sex unions.However, one critique caught my eye in particular. Writer Gary Legum, in an opinion piece in the Independent Journal Review, said the following (quoting in turn a CNN article about Clovis):On the other hand, while Clovis might not believe the issue of a biological basis for sexual attraction is settled, people with scientific and medical training are fairly sure about it:[Quote] Clovis has repeatedly argued that the science on homosexuality is unsettled and that “LGBT behavior” is a choice. The American Psychological Association has said that while there is no scientific consensus on the causes of sexual orientation, “most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.” [End quote]Let’s first look at the CNN quote. Although presented in such a way as to imply that there is a contradiction between Clovis’ view and the ostensibly “expert” opinion of the APA, there is actually no difference between them. Clovis’ view that “the science on homosexuality is unsettled” and the APA’s view that “there is no scientific consensus on the causes of sexual orientation” are different ways of saying the exact same thing.In reality, it is Mr. Legum’s declaration that “people with scientific and medical training are fairly sure about” there being “a biological basis for sexual attraction” that is directly contradicted by the APA’s statement that “there is no scientific consensus on the causes of sexual orientation.”The “choice” issue requires a more careful examination. The APA is quoted as saying that “most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.” This is entirely true—if you use the first definition of “sexual orientation” that is offered in the APA document being quoted: “Sexual orientation refers to an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic and/or sexual attractions [emphasis added] to men, women or both sexes.”Mr. Clovis, however, did not refer to LGBT “attractions”—he referred quite explicitly to “LGBT behavior.” “Attractions” are internal, subjective, and psychological; “behavior” is external, objective, and physical. They are not the same thing at all.The APA document does go on, however:Sexual orientation also refers to a person’s sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors and membership in a community of others who share those attractions.This statement is entirely consistent with an understanding that I have tried to communicate for years, which is that “sexual orientation” is not one thing, but rather is an umbrella term that, depending on the context, can be used in reference to several different things—such as, in the APA’s terminology, “attractions,” “behaviors,” “sense of identity,” and “membership in a community.”To speak clearly about “sexual orientation,” it is necessary to address each of these elements of it individually, since they are quite different from each other. This is particularly the case if we are discussing the role of “choice” in a person’s “sexual orientation.” “Identity” involves at least some element of choice, especially if we consider one’s public self-identification to be part of it. “Membership in a community” would appear to involve an even greater level of choice.And one’s sexual behaviors—outside of a context of sexual abuse or exploitation—must be considered almost entirely a matter of “choice.” To say otherwise would be to imply that those with same-sex attractions are in the grip of an irresistible compulsion—which would be far more insulting than to say that they (like all of us) are capable of choosing their sexual behavior.So when the APA says that “most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation,” they are in that context referring to people’s sexual attractions, which indeed are not a “choice.” (Note: To say that same-sex attractions are not a choice, however, is not to say that they are innate. If—as many believe—they result from psychological and developmental forces or experiences in childhood or adolescence, then that would mean they are neither chosen nor inborn.)I take no position here on Mr. Clovis’ general qualifications to serve in the Department of Agriculture. However, in clearly distinguishing “LGBT behavior” from same-sex attractions, while noting accurately that scientists cannot definitively point to one universal cause of such attractions, Mr. Clovis has actually shown a greater understanding of the science on homosexuality than have his critics.
Last week, the State Department released its report assessing religious freedom around the world during 2016.Many of the usual suspects we think of when addressing religious freedom violations overseas were covered by the report, and continue to reveal their religious freedom violations:Iran continues to imprison people for “insulting the prophet” and “enmity against God” – both of which can merit the death penalty.Within Syria, ISIS “killed dozens through public executions, crucifixions, and beheadings of men, women, and children on charges of apostasy, blasphemy, homosexuality, and cursing God.” Within Iraq, the group continued to “commit individual and mass killings, and to engage in rape, kidnapping, random detentions and mass abductions, torture, abduction and forced conversion of non-Muslim male children, and the enslavement and sex trafficking of women and girls from minority religious communities.”Saudi Arabia still outlaws all religions except Islam from being publicly practiced, even criminalizing “any attempt to cast doubt on the fundamentals of Islam.” The government there has continued to enforce a comprehensive anti-religious freedom legal regime, including imprisoning people for blasphemy and apostasy.China continues to reportedly detain and harass both registered and nonregistered religious groups in the country.Yet new religious freedom problems have also emerged in recent years, and in places not traditionally associated with religious freedom violations – like Western Europe. They are also documented in the report:In the United Kingdom, a university “expelled a Christian graduate student after he expressed his opposition to gay marriage on social media because of his Christian beliefs.”Elsewhere in Europe, such as France, attacks against Jews, Muslims, and Christians because of their religion have continued to occur.We should specifically take note of the expelled U.K. graduate student, for the same forces opposed to a religious belief that marriage is only between one man and one woman are the same forces operating in the United States and elsewhere around the world. As we increasingly face domestic religious freedom problems related to this issue, this example is a reminder that we must guard the same religious freedom at home which we fight for around the world. Neither can be taken for granted.The 2016 report is a valuable resource for assessing the state of religious freedom around the globe. It isn’t perfect – it aims a bit too broadly at times, commenting on matters such as speeches directed at immigration policy in Europe, or, for instance, an investigation into alleged tax fraud in the Muslim community in Denmark. These are not substantive religious freedom violations, and including them in such a report diminishes real religious freedom problems such as imprisonment for sharing one’s faith. Reasonable people will disagree over the precise role of religion in democracies, and a religious freedom violation does not occur every time someone remarks on the role of religion in a larger social controversy.All in all, the report is a valuable tool to continue to address religious freedom shortcomings worldwide. While this can be done in several ways, one very helpful step would be to incorporate the issue more broadly into our foreign policy. With the appointment of Governor Brownback as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom at the State Department, we have an opportunity to do just that – and more – as we look ahead with the new foreign policy of the Trump administration.
Yesterday, an article appeared on CBS News stating that “few countries have come as close to eradicating Down syndrome births as Iceland.” It turns out that Iceland has made prenatal screening for Down syndrome an enormously commonplace occurrence for pregnant mothers, which has resulted in “close to 100 percent” of them choosing to abort their babies.It’s telling that the authors of the article chose to phrase this situation by saying Iceland has come close to “eradicating Down syndrome births,” as if this were akin to the country eradicating a disease like malaria.One has to wonder, who convinced Iceland that people with Down syndrome are such a big problem that they must be completely eliminated from the entire country? According to Helga Sol Olafsdottir, an Icelandic hospital worker, “[w]e ended a possible life that may have had a huge complication... preventing suffering for the child and for the family.”As it turns out, just the opposite is true. A full 99 percent of people with Down syndrome say they are happy with their lives, while 97 percent “like who they are.” In addition, “[99] percent of parents said they loved their child with DS and 97 percent were proud of them,” and “96 percent [of siblings] indicated that they had affection toward their sibling with DS, with 94 percent of older siblings expressing feelings of pride.”Seeing proof of this is as simple as doing a quick YouTube search for “down syndrome,” which produces dozens of examples that explode the anti-Downs prejudice that killing them before birth will “prevent suffering.” Here is a tiny sampling of how those with Downs are not only flourishing, but are bringing joy to all those around them:Teen with Down syndrome makes big impact at part-time jobRestaurant Owner Tim Harris: "I Have Down Syndrome. I Am Awesome."Man With Down Syndrome Celebrates 25 Years on JobMcDonalds employee with down syndrome retires after 32 years'He's just such a lovely man': Oldest person with Down syndrome celebrates 77th birthdayGirl Tells the World That Down Syndrome Is 'Not Scary'Instead of “eradicating” a perceived health problem, Icelanders are unwittingly eradicating joy, happiness, and innocence from their midst.
Dear Friends,For the first time since the 1930’s, the overall life expectancy rate in America has declined. Why? Because the suicide rate is increasing all over the country.There are a multitude of factors that have contributed to this increase. However, all of these factors can be boiled down to one primary cause: despair.From where is this increasing level of despair coming from? I would argue that one of the primary causes for increasing despair is increasing unbelief in God. The Pew Research Center reports that 23 percent of Americans currently describe themselves as “nones,” or those who consider themselves either atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular.” This number has been steadily rising since at least 1972, when “nones” made up seven percent of the population. In just the last 10 years, this number has jumped eight percent, from 15 to 23 percent.It has been statistically verified that those who attend religious services are far less likely to commit suicide: In a study of 89,000 people “between 1996 and 2010, those who attended any religious service once a week or more were five times less likely to commit suicide.” In another study, “of the 6,999 Catholic women who attended Mass more than once a week, none committed suicide” (emphasis mine).Without a belief system built on divine revelation, human beings will form their own belief systems around whatever suits them. The secular world is more than happy to fill this demand for what to believe—we are constantly bombarded by the news media and popular entertainment about what we should believe is right and wrong, what is good and evil, what is tolerant and intolerant, what constitutes equality and inequality, etc. If we don’t have religious belief that provides a moral framework grounded in absolute truths, we put ourselves in the risky position of having to ultimately trust in human beings for the ultimate answers. The inevitable culmination of purely human thinking is despair, because we are and never can be ends in ourselves. As discussed previously, we know where despair can eventually lead.Christ reveals an infinitely better way: divinely revealed truth. In Matthew 16:23, he rebukes human thinking: “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” As Christians, we must do all we can to turn back the tide of unbelief that is steadily rising in America, trusting not in the ways of man, but in the ways of God.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 Articles'Sanctuary Cities' Aren't Brave. They're Obstructing Law Enforcement. – Ken BlackwellWhen We Choose Love Over Fear, God Stretches Our Hearts – Dan HartTrump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions is bringing the hammer down on leaks – Ken BlackwellThe Decay of Liberty and the Rule of Law in 21st Century America – Peter JohnstonHuman Sexuality and the Goodness of Marriage – Clara Ramos and Shania BurchIran Heightens Its Crackdown On Christians – Dan HartAttention Millennials: True Religious Freedom May Make You Feel Uncomfortable – Mary Beasley Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareReligious Liberty Protection Kit for Students and Teachers – First LibertyCake Wars And The Coming Conflict Over Religious Liberty – Nathanael Blake, The FederalistThe Threat of Free Speech in the University – Roger Scruton, Ethics & Public Policy CenterChristian wins the right to refuse to photograph homosexual ‘weddings’ – Peter LaBarbera, LifeSiteNewsThe Continuing Threat to Religious Liberty – Ryan T. Anderson, National ReviewGoogling Moral Purity – R.R. Reno, First ThingsNo One Expects The Google Inquisition, But It’s Coming – Robert Tracinski, The FederalistPrayer Walks draw protest in Mississippi school district – Ron Maxey, USA TodayWyoming Judge Appeals To Nation’s Highest Court After Losing Job For Being A Christian – Jonathan Lange, The FederalistInternational Religious FreedomPray for the persecuted church in Sudan and South Sudan – Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionIran Punishes Religious Minorities with Lengthier Sentences – Elisabeth Doherty, 21st Century Wilberforce InitiativeSaving Christians From Genocide – William Doino Jr., First ThingsChristian Persecution in India Hits Record High in First Half of 2017 – Anugrah Kumar, The Christian PostLiu Xiaobo’s Stern Warning – Jianli Yang, National Review LifeAbortionAmerican Abortion, American Freedom – Miles Smith, Public DiscourseMore than half of women getting abortions also use contraception – Emma Court, New York PostWhy Life Is Winning – Jeanne Mancini, Heritage FoundationPro-Life Laws Do Not Lead to Poor Public Health – Michael J. New, National ReviewGoogle And Facebook Co-Sponsoring Protest Of Pro-Life Women’s Health Care Clinic – Peter Hasson, The Daily Caller"What kind of society do you want to live in?": Inside the country where Down syndrome is disappearing – Julian Quinones and Arijeta Lajka, CBS NewsAdoptionThe Changing Face of Adoption in the United States – Nicholas Zill, Family StudiesThe other Russia story we need to talk about is adoption – Mary Vought, USA TodayMom Walks in Door with Adopted Baby in Arms. Moment Daughters See Her, They’re Brought to Tears – Carolyn Marie, LiftableBioethicsHospital tries to force baby off life support, parents won’t give up fight – Claire Chretien, LifeSiteNewsEuthanasia Used for 4.5 Percent of Deaths in the Netherlands – Maria Cheng, APStop Assisted-Suicide Opioid Abuse – Wesley J. Smith, First ThingsA Tale of Two Sams: You Should Not Actively Euthanize Your Baby – Aaron D. Cobb, Public DiscourseExplainer: American scientists “edit” human embryos – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionPlease don’t edit me out – Rebecca Cokley, The Washington PostFDA warns doctor not to promote ‘three-parent’ fertilization procedure – Lianne Laurence, LifeSiteNewsObamacareHow Obamacare Is Eroding Private Insurance – Jarrett Stepman, The Daily SignalThousands Visit Free Clinics In Barns And Fields: ‘We’re The Middle Class, And We’re Here‘ – Chris Togneri, The FederalistThis is How You Make Health Care Affordable – Jay Bowen, The StreamHere Are 7 Implications of Ending Obamacare’s Cost-Sharing Reduction Payments – Edmund Haislmaier, The Daily Signal FamilyEconomics/EducationWhen It Comes to Helping People, Facts Don’t Care About Your Intentions – Jacob Roth, The Daily SignalHow Should American Christians Help the Poor at Home? – Rob Schwarzwalder, The Stream4 Reasons To Pick A College That Doesn’t Want To Destroy Your Principles – Chandler Lasch, The FederalistWhy Men Are the New College Minority – Jon Marcus, The AtlanticPlay Hard. Work Maybe? – Melissa Langsam Braunstein, Family StudiesMarriageHalf of those thinking of divorce reconsider a year later – CBC NewsAmerica Abandons Marriage at Its Own Peril – Jerry Newcombe, The Christian PostParenting Is Not a “Job,” and Marriage Is Not “Work” – Jonathan Malesic, New RepublicThis incredible medical breakthrough could save the lives of millions of preborn babies – Cassy Fiano, Live ActionFaith/Character/CultureReligion and Politics at the Dinner Table: Challenging the Old Maxim – Christopher W. Love, Public DiscourseServing God and a woman in need at the Walmart – Patty Knap, AleteiaHave Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? – Jean M. Twenge, The AtlanticI Don’t Understand Christians Watching Game of Thrones – Kevin DeYoung, The Gospel CoalitionDoes Conscience Point Towards the Existence of God? – Matt Nelson, Word On FireGuys Need Bros – Bryan Stoudt, Desiring GodWhat Having a Ton of Kids Has Taught Me – Jared Zimmerer, Word On FireOn Fields of Praise – Robert Royal, The Catholic ThingThe Great Wall of Cotton: Why We Hit Snooze on God – Greg Morse, Desiring GodDon’t Let Politics Turn America Into Another Charlottesville – David Harsanyi, The FederalistHuman SexualityStudy finds more Americans are approving of polygamy – Catholic News AgencyTalking about sex with your kids: 5 things I’m learning – John Powell, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionExamining the History of Sexual Exploitation and the Fight to Eradicate It – Madeleine Ayers, National Center on Sexual Exploitation‘Gender Expert’: Boy Won’t Play With Trucks. Let’s Make Him A Girl. – Hank Berrien, The Daily WireThis debate is about gender dysphoria, not transgender military service – Jamie Shupe, MercatorNetWhy Are Lesbian Teens Having Two To Seven Times As Many Babies As Their Heterosexual Peers? – Glenn T. Stanton, The FederalistHuman TraffickingSenators: Alter Internet laws to hold Backpage liable for sex trafficking – Aamer Madhani, USA TodayAt Las Vegas’s Mayweather-McGregor Fight, Human Trafficking May Happen Right In Front Of You – Vinciane Ngomsi, The FederalistPornographyWhy Both Sides of the Aisle Can Agree that Pornography is a Public Health Crisis – Dawn Hawkins, Huffington Post
The place and value of sex is a complex issue in modern American culture. The view of sex as the intimate union between a man and woman brought together by marriage under God has largely been lost. It has been replaced by an entitled inclination toward convenience and conceding to a desire for the instant gratification of sexual and emotional fulfillment.Being a part of a culture engulfed in endless choices, including the choice to have sex at any point in life regardless of the type of relationship between the partners, makes it necessary for Christians to bear witness to God’s intention for human sexuality. Using the guidance of the Bible, early Church fathers, and Christian scholars, Christians can promote God’s will for sexual intimacy as the exclusive and supreme physical act of unity between a man and woman who are drawn together under Him in marriage.The Modern View of SexContemporary Americans place utmost importance in their happiness and freedom of choice. What often defines happiness, according to Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, is summarized by the acronym PERMA: pleasure, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishments. Many seek their purpose, freedom, and sources of fulfillment in their activities, contribution to their environment, and ability to enjoy such pleasures as food, sex, and material comforts.From the Christian perspective, true freedom is attained by dedicating one’s life to the glorification of God and living in liberation from sin. Paul the Apostle verifies this by asserting that man should glorify God in body and spirit and flee from sins, such as sexual immorality, in order to uphold God’s sacred gift that is the human body (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). In the modern view, however, individuals tend to perceive their sexuality as a part of their humanness that demands and deserves total autonomy, and, as a result, use it to exercise their freedom of choice and self-expression.Robert Buffington and his colleagues expand upon the value of sexual freedom in their book, A Global History of Human Sexuality: The Modern Era, by highlighting the way in which the fight for sexual freedom has become a major political issue in contemporary culture. Due to the strongly Western ideal of liberty, sexuality has become yet another aspect of life that can be expressed at the discretion of the individual and supported by advocates within mainstream culture who believe that one’s sexual identity can be self-created.The Implications of the Modern View of SexThe values of modern Americans show that what is deemed to be most important is the idea of choice. Choosing to be involved in relationships, to engage in one’s community, and to enjoy pleasure in proper ways are important for human flourishing, but they are often overemphasized. When we concede to the desire for personal happiness in this way, we distance ourselves from God and move closer to a false self-identity that dictates our choices. Aspects of sexual freedom, such as freedom from sex trafficking and gender-based bullying, are certainly important; but placing sexuality at the center of one’s identity and using it without discretion degrades God’s purpose for human sexuality.In contemporary culture, sex is no longer the act of a man and woman united under God, engaging in sexual unity to raise a godly generation; rather, it is an act of personal choice and freedom where reproduction is often seen as an undesirable consequence.Christians know that true freedom is not anchored in a sexual identity, but in an identity in Christ (Colossians 3:3). Christians have the opportunity to share with others that God’s intention for human sexuality is an exclusive act of union that follows, rather than precedes, deep, God-centered love. Genesis 1:24 demonstrates that kind of love by stating that “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh,” making it clear that God first created men and women, then united them in one flesh by the goodness of marriage.The Goodness of MarriageMarriage is a profound mystery, one that God has planned from the beginning of time. When God created Adam, He gave him the task to name and rule over all the animals of the field and of the air; yet, God saw that Adam was lonely and had “not found a helper like himself” (Genesis 2:20). The beasts of the land, the birds of the air, and all living creatures brought a sense of joy and delight to him, but were not and could not be a fulfilling match for him.So God created woman from the rib of Adam and brought her into Adam’s sight. He exclaimed, “This now is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman” (Genesis 2:23). God blessed this first marriage, saying “increase and multiply,” (Genesis 1:28) for they were to become the models of marriage for humanity as the first parents in complimentary union.The Trinity and MarriageMarriage is true, good, and beautiful because it resembles the oneness of the three divine Persons of the Trinity. The perfect bond and oneness of the Blessed Trinity makes them inseparable; this also occurs in the sacrament of matrimony when the marital bond of husband and wife is sealed by God.Sam Allberry further reflects that “by virtue of their marital union, man and wife are able to arrive at a kind of oneness that can reflect the oneness of God the Trinity.” This oneness is possible by the gifts that proceed from the Trinity and should reflect in marriage: totality, unity, and fidelity. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church states:…the characteristic traits of marriage are: totality, by which the spouse gives themselves to each other mutually in every aspect of their person, physical and spiritual; unity, which makes them “one flesh” (Gen 2:24); indissolubility and fidelity which the definitive mutual giving of self requires; the fruitfulness to which this naturally opens itself.Marriage also images the Trinity by way of the Holy Spirit, which is the fruit of the Father and the Son’s reciprocal love. In the same way, a child is the fruit of the husband and wife’s love.These traits seem to have faded away in modern society. The totality of marriage has been degraded to merely pleasure and selfishness. Pornography has objectified women and men by taking the sexual act out of its proper context within marriage, thereby debasing it by taking away its inherent beauty and unity. This perversion of marital fidelity and privacy, which continues to grow with an ever-increasing number of porn websites and a consuming public that justifies its consumption through a relativistic mindset, prevents the world from seeing the goodness and dignity of marriage.The Purpose of MarriageGod’s oneness, which only He can give, can be seen in the creation of man when God made woman from the rib of Adam, her husband. God did not take a foot or a strand of hair from Adam to create Eve. No: He took a rib to show man the equal dignity of male and female. Matthew Henry expands upon this: “[T]he woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.”The purpose of marriage is not, as John Chrysostom puts it, for “indecency and laughter,” but “for the sake of begetting offspring and in the fidelity of chastity” (Augustine). Chrysostom understood that the unique beauty of marriage will dissipate in the swamps of infidelity. Thus, marriage is and can only be between one man and one woman. Anything other than this is contrary to God’s plan. Its purpose is unitive and fruitful, and glows in the eyes of God. It is precious and holy, for it has the potential to bring into this world another human being that is capable of knowing God.The nature of marriage is ordained for “the procreation and education of the offspring, and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory.” Yet, God’s merciful love and compassion not only enriches the fertile womb, but exceeds in bounty to marriages that have gone through the hardships of infertility and miscarriage, thus making marriage not only procreative in nature, but also unitive. God’s love ensures that experiencing these great trials can still bear the fruit of unitive marital love. The Catechism of the Catholic Church plainly states: “Spouses to whom God has not granted children can nevertheless have a conjugal life full of meaning, in both human and Christian terms. Their marriage can radiate a fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality, and of sacrifice.” This shows the infinite goodness and love of God, whose love makes “the human person the authentic image of the Blessed Trinity, [the] image of God.”Clara Ramos and Shania Burch are students at Regent University.
The Wilberforce Initiative is reporting that Iran is targeting Christians, re-sentencing them to lengthier jail times despite having already served their sentences. According to the report, Ebrahim Firouzi, a former Muslim who converted to Christianity, was re-sentenced to five additional years for trumped-up charges of “forming a group for disrupting national security” based on “the same evidence used in the previous court case for which he had already served his prison sentence.”The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has reported an uptick in arrests and imprisonments in the last four years of those who are a part of religious minorities in Iran. In the last month alone, “12 Christians have been sentenced to lengthy prison confinement for 10 years or more because of their faith,” according to World Watch Monitor.Iran is a country of some 80 million predominantly Muslim inhabitants, of which only one percent are religious minorities. This includes about 300,000 Christians, some of whom are Armenian Christians who are considered to be born Christian and are generally not bothered by the Iranian regime. In a country that is over 99 percent Muslim, it is considered a crime to convert from Islam to Christianity, which can carry a death sentence.With President Trump considering his options on how to pull out of the rashly devised Obama-era nuclear deal, it is also highly important for him to consider the tragic plight of Christians and other persecuted minorities who are languishing in Iranian prisons simply because of exercising their God-given right to freely follow their consciences.
Millennials have been lauded for being one of the most open-minded of generations, accepting and tolerant of a variety of perspectives. Millennials pride themselves on being an exceptionally diverse generation—racially, ethnically, sexually, politically, culturally… the list goes on. The linchpin for diversity is acceptance. More than ever, millennials pride themselves on being particularly tolerant and accepting.However, the real-world consequence to this much-heralded virtue of tolerance is, ironically, intolerance. Tolerance without limits becomes moral destruction. Tolerance with limits… can that be called “tolerance” at all?“Tolerance” can only be taken so far, until one is forced to become intolerant to intolerance itself. So, millennials have a problem. Tolerance seems to be an impossible standard to uphold, unless one is advocating for complete political and cultural anarchy. Tolerance, to its end, upholds no standards.A recent survey found that millennials do believe religious freedom is important—remember, tolerance is the name of the game. However, it seems that millennials tend to draw a boundary between society and the self. Many millennials see religious freedom as an “individual” priority, not as a social priority. And over half of millennials agree that religion is only personal and should not play a role in society.So, millennials appear to be “tolerant.” Religious freedom seems like a decent idea to them. In practice, however, tolerance of religious freedom can only go so far. As it turns out, many millennials are confused and apprehensive about something called the “free exercise clause.” The Constitution does not simply establish the freedom to hold religious belief as a certain inalienable right, it upholds the exercise of religion as an inalienable right.Apparently, the free exercise clause has made the millennial generation uncomfortable, who see religious freedom as an individual value becoming a societal problem when it is put into actual exercise.For millennials, it seems, the values of the self are prioritized over the values of society, a line defined by political correctness. When religious freedom is strictly a right of the individual, it doesn’t have to be an uncomfortable nuisance—unless it is defined as a societal right. If this were the case (and it is, as defined by the Constitution), then the rights of society would impinge on the rights of the individual. This becomes a real problem if individual rights are prioritized. This kind of thinking views authentic religious freedom in society as a problem, because it could make the individual feel uncomfortable.In order to keep the individual prioritized, political correctness has become essential. Political correctness defines the standards for keeping all individuals in a comfortable, trigger-free zone.But what is true religious freedom, and what does it require in practice?The Founding Fathers knew that the idea of religious freedom cannot be understood merely at the level of a belief. Religion is a belief, but belief itself necessitates action. The “free exercise” clause is therefore essential not only for the individual, but for the proper understanding of what religious belief requires.Giving people the “right” to religious freedom does not bestow true freedom unless there is also a freedom to act. Any person who associates themselves with a religion or a belief system knows that true devotion requires action. What is the point of believing that killing another human being is immoral unless it is put into daily practice? The decision to believe is not enough. True devotion is carried out in daily life, requiring the commitment and sacrifice of the individual.This is the cost of commitment to faith. Jesus Christ radically defines this commitment as a sacrifice of the individual. He was honest with his disciples about the cost when he said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously said, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die” (from The Cost of Discipleship). True commitment to faith is radical. It is completely selfless, requiring man to die to himself. This commitment goes far beyond a mere intellectual exercise; it requires the full sacrifice of an individual’s life—every piece and part.Thus, it is not only unlawful to argue that individuals should revoke their right to exercise freedom of religion, it is also illogical. To assume that religious people can “contain” this commitment as a purely intellectual pursuit inside the four walls of a church is to misunderstand the nature of religious belief. Societies are formed by individuals, many of whom infuse religious practices into their daily lives. They naturally affect, influence, and inspire those around them. Therefore, religion cannot be displaced from the actions of the individual just as the individual cannot be displaced from society. Therefore, religion cannot be contained from society.One of the millennial generation’s biggest misconceptions is that the individual is above society. In reality, individuals are pieces of a larger community. Ironically, it would seem, the millennial generation’s insistence on “tolerance” ends up suppressing individuals who are deemed “intolerant.” The individual, however, cannot be contained. The individual is called to be a part of something greater. Could it be that the essence of the individual is sacrifice? The individual’s sacrifice is directed to a greater purpose: society itself. The exercise of religious freedom is not solely for the good of the individual, but for the good of society. This will be an uncomfortable but vital lesson for millennials to learn as they renew our society.
Dear Friends,In an age when assisted suicide has been deemed acceptable public policy, it becomes necessary for Christians to unapologetically stand up for the dignity and worth of every human being, no matter what stage of life they are in or what occupation they have.In the professional world, it’s easy to view jobs through the prism of worldly prestige and monetary worth—a film actor in Hollywood is seen as a much more important person than the cashier behind the counter at a grocery store. As Christians, however, we see these two jobs as equal in dignity and value, because God makes no distinction in worth between them. The actor is called to use his or her skills to further truth, goodness, and beauty through the art form of their acting abilities, thereby imparting new and cathartic insights about the mysteries of existence to the public. In a different but no less valuable way, the grocery store cashier is called to further truth, goodness, and beauty by being knowledgeable, kind, and helpful to his or her customers, thereby creating a life-giving and positive experience to every individual they serve.Analogously, all people, no matter how old or young, have a role to play in furthering the kingdom of God on earth. As Chris Hazell has written, we discover our role primarily by living in community with others. One of the great tragedies of modern times is the increased isolation that many in our society live in. What we often fail to understand is that instead of taking away our freedom and autonomy, living in community with others actually strengthens our sense of self. God created us for communion, declaring that “it is not good that man should be alone” (Gen 2:18). In the above referenced article, Hazel relates a beautiful quote from Henri J.M. Nouwen: “That is the great joy of being chosen: the discovery that others are chosen as well. In the house of God there are many mansions. There is a place for everyone - a unique, special place.”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 ArticlesTrump's right: Transgender patriotism isn't the issue — military readiness is – Tony PerkinsWhy We Were Right to Pray for President Trump – Tony Perkins6 Ways Governor Brownback Can Prioritize International Religious Freedom – Travis Weber11 Reasons Why Assisted Suicide Must End – Dan HartBackpage.com and Human Trafficking: What is Christian America’s Response? – Mary BeasleyNo, Rev. Barber, Prayer for a President Is Not “Heresy” – Travis Weber Religious Liberty"Free to Believe"Bible verse plaque displayed at Tennessee police department to be moved – Fox NewsPolice officer disciplined for refusing to call a ‘transgender’ man a woman – Fr. Mark Hodges, LifeSiteNewsLesbian mom asks Christian judge to recuse himself from her divorce case citing his stance against homosexuality – Megan Cerullo, NY Daily NewsReligious Liberty in the Public SquareFRC Speaker Series: Four Objections to Religious Liberty... and some Possible Answers! with Michael Stokes PaulsenA Demagogic Bully – Mark Pulliam, City JournalIndiana school district kowtows to atheist group, promises to end graduation prayers – Tré Goins-Phillips, TheBlazeUltra-Rich Gay Activist On Targeting Christians: It’s Time To ‘Punish The Wicked’ – Bre Payton, The FederalistStudents sue school for hushing pro-life speech – Bonnie Pritchett, WORLDConservative Students More Afraid to Speak Up on Campus Than Liberals, Study Finds – Michael Gryboski, The Christian PostChristie Signs Bill Requiring NJ Schools Use Preferred Pronouns for Transgender Kids – Rob Shimshock, The Daily SignalState Directs Schools To 'Segregate' Students Uncomfortable With Transgender Bathrooms – Amanda Prestigiacomo, The Daily WireMillennials approve of religious freedom as a choice, but don't know what it means – Scott Taylor, Deseret NewsInternational Religious Freedom8 Churches Close in Baghdad Amid Shrinking Iraqi Christian Population – Samuel Smith, The Christian PostChina’s Censorship Powers Are Bigger And More Dangerous Than You Know – Helen Raleigh, The FederalistSpanish Cathedral Targeted for Reversing the Reconquista – Matthew E. Bunson, National Catholic RegisterPakistani Christians Fear Rise in Persecution After Ouster of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif – Anugrah Kumar, The Christian PostGoogle’s New Hate Speech Algorithm Has a Problem With Jews – Liel Leibovitz, Tablet4 Surprising Facts About ISIS – Joshua Pease, Open DoorsMilitary Religious FreedomWhy Trump Keeping Trans People From The Military Is A Good Decision – Walt Heyer, The Federalist LifeAbortionHawaii pro-life centers sue over abortion promotion law – Samantha Gobba, WORLDAn Effective Weapon to Reach Pro-Abortion Advocates – Patti Armstrong, National Catholic RegisterMelinda Gates Commits $375 Million to Global Family Planning to Counter Trump’s Pro-Life Policy – Dr. Susan Berry, BreitbartWhy 'Sidewalk Counselors' Are Crucial to the Pro-Life Movement – Patty Knap, National Catholic RegisterI was told abortion would make my life more complete. But it left the biggest hole in my heart… – Bettina di Fiore, LifeSiteNewsPregnancy Center Saves LA Babies from Abortion – Jim Graves, National Catholic RegisterDem campaign chief vows no litmus test on abortion – Ben Kamisar and Reid Wilson, The HillKentucky Could Be The First Abortion Free-State By 2018 – Jeremiah Keenan, The FederalistAdoptionAdoption: The good and hard lessons – Micah and Tracy Fries, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionWhy Christians Are Abandoning the Orphanage – Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, Christianity TodayHow you can learn to love your birth mom – Ashton Morgan, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionBioethicsRepublicans in Congress attempt to repeal D.C. assisted suicide law – Emma Kinery, USA TodayHow Much Longer Do We Have? Living by Faith While Our Son Is Dying – Allison Muedder, Desiring GodCharlie Gard Dies After Life Support is Switched Off: Mother Says “Our Beautiful Boy is Gone” – Steven Ertelt, LifeNewsCharlie Gard’s Case Delivers Déj Vu Of Twentieth-Century Eugenics – Caroline D'Agati, The FederalistScientists Kill Unborn Children in Human Genetic Engineering Experiments – Wesley Smith, LifeNewsMother says adult, disabled daughter traumatized by doctor’s suggestion of assisted suicide – John Burger, AleteiaWhat Charlie Gard Has Taught Us – Michael Brown, TownhallObamacare41-Year-Old Father: ‘Obamacare Won’t Pay For My Back Surgery, But It Will Pay For Opioids’ – John Daniel Davidson, The FederalistCongress Needs to Go Right Back to Work on Health Care Reform – Robert Moffit, The Daily SignalBipartisan Group: We Need To Break The Law To Make Obamacare Too Big To Fail – Christopher Jacobs, The Federalist FamilyEconomics/EducationWhy Melinda Gates Is Wrong About Contraception – John Clark, National Catholic RegisterCapitalism and the Quest for Community – Brian Jones, Public DiscourseThe American Dream Is in Crisis – J.D. Vance, The Daily SignalDodd-Frank Has Held Down the US Economy for Too Long – Rep. Jeb Hensarling, The Daily SignalOur Cultural Waterloo – Carl R. Trueman, First ThingsConservatives are increasingly hostile to higher ed. Who can blame them? – Noah Rothman, USA TodayThis Is the Way the College ‘Bubble’ Ends – Derek Thompson, The AtlanticMarriageLong marriage, beautiful life – Caryn Rivadeneira, AleteiaEstablishing the facts about family breakdown transforming the debate about marriage – Harry Benson, Marriage FoundationPaper, silver and gold: How marriage shapes us – Tom Hoopes, AleteiaThe Children of Divorce Speak Out – Rachel Lu, CrisisStaying Married Is Not About Staying in Love – John Piper, Desiring GodYoung men giving up on marriage: ‘Women aren’t women anymore’ – Hilary White, LifeSiteNewsMarriage Matters – W. Bradford Wilcox, Family StudiesFaith/Character/CultureFRC Speaker Series: Not a Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth with Dr. Everett Piper‘Game Of Thrones’ Is The Ugliest Show On Television. That’s Why We Love It – Titus Techera, The FederalistChildren are Never a Burden – Mattias A. Caro, Ethika PolitikaLimping Along the Way of Truth – Word On FireThe Democrats’ Anthropological Field Trip to Study Americans – Kyle Smith, National ReviewPodcast: Race and human flourishing; Embracing diversity for the good of all people – Glenn Packiam, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionCrude Language, Coarse Culture: We Need to Do Better – Rob Schwarzwalder, The StreamHuman SexualityWhy Premarital Sex Is Wrong – Nathan Smith, Public DiscourseSen. Patty Murray Calls For Resignation of Trump Official Over Accurate Campus Rape Comments – Joy Pullmann, The Federalist'I felt really humiliated:' Teen blasts school district's transgender bathroom policy – Matt Miller, PennLiveActivist Mommy Starts 'Operation Pull Teen Vogue' After Mag Peddles Sexual Perversion to Minors – Charlene Aaron, CBN NewsTrump Cuts Wildly Ineffective Teen Pregnancy Program, Media Flip Out – Mollie Hemingway, The FederalistSex Robots Are (Almost) Here. How Will We Respond? – Jay Richards, The StreamHow Embedding Women With Contraception May Keep Them In Poverty – Elizabeth Bauer, The FederalistHuman TraffickingFRC Speaker Series: The Battle for Humanity: How Conservatives Can Fight Human Trafficking with Rep. Ann WagnerPornographyTwelve Days of Action: Half-Way Through This Year’s Dirty Dozen List – Ben Forsgren, National Center On Sexual ExploitationYou’d Be Surprised to Hear What Porn Is Doing to Sex – Gail Dines and Liz Walker, VerilyAfter 10 Years, My Partner Won His Struggle With Porn Addiction – Fight The New Drug
Yesterday, President Trump nominated Kansas Governor Sam Brownback to the post of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom at the State Department. This is a great pick for an important job, and the administration is to be commended for this selection.The Ambassador-at-Large post was created by legislation back in 1998 with the purpose of addressing religious freedom problems around the world, but it has seen limited success in being able to shape foreign policy in a comprehensive manner. The Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, signed into law just last December, made changes which will result in the job reporting directly to the Secretary of State. This change and others required by the law should make whoever is in the role more effective. When it is someone of Governor Brownback’s stature, we will have a real opportunity to see religious freedom significantly shape foreign policy.Religious freedom is a fundamental, inherent, and international human right. It is not merely an American right—though religious freedom was foundational to the very existence of the United States. United States foreign policy should prioritize this fundamental international human right and give it the attention it deserves. Once Governor Brownback is in his new role, here are six ways the Trump administration can make this happen:1. Integrate and prioritize religious freedom protections in foreign policy. All U.S. agencies engaged abroad should integrate and prioritize the promotion of religious freedom in their work. They should also conduct international religious freedom training for their employees (including how to gather information about mass atrocities against religious groups such as genocide).2. Fully implement the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act throughout the U.S. government.3. Protect refugees and asylum seekers with proper attention given to persecution on the basis of religion. The United States has not properly addressed the religious dynamics of the refugee situation arising from Iraq and Syria. Where certain religious groups are being persecuted on account of their religion, their religion can be used as a factor in assessing their asylum claims and refugee status. The Departments of State and Homeland Security should enhance their ongoing efforts to ensure that refugees and asylum seekers of all religions have equal access to protection and assistance, particularly in countries of first asylum. In addition, the Departments of State, Justice, and Homeland Security should ensure appropriate training is in place so that relevant Federal Government personnel and key partners can effectively address the protection of refugees and asylum seekers who need such protection because of their religion, including by providing to them adequate assistance and ensuring that the Federal Government has the ability to identify and expedite resettlement of highly vulnerable persons with urgent protection needs.4. Provide foreign assistance to protect the human right of religious freedom. Agencies involved with foreign aid, assistance, and development should enhance their ongoing efforts to ensure regular Federal Government engagement with governments, citizens, civil society, and the private sector in order to build respect for the human right of religious freedom.5. Ensure swift and meaningful U.S. responses to the suppression of religious freedom abroad. The Department of State should lead a standing group, with appropriate interagency representation, to help ensure the Federal Government’s swift and meaningful response to serious incidents that threaten the status of religious freedom abroad. The Department of State should be particularly attentive to responding to complaints of religious persecution, whether in the granting of visas or in other areas. Those representing the United States abroad in an official capacity should not work with, or aid and abet, any foreign actors discriminating against persons based on their religion.6. Engage international organizations in defending religious freedom. Multilateral fora and international organizations are key vehicles to promote respect for the human right of religious freedom and to bring global attention to this issue. Along with the Department of State, agencies engaged abroad should strengthen the work they have begun and initiate additional efforts in these multilateral fora and organizations to (1) broaden the number of countries willing to support and defend religious freedom, (2) strengthen the role of civil society advocates on behalf of religious freedom within and through multilateral fora, and (3) strengthen the policies and programming of multilateral institutions on religious freedom.If it takes these steps, the Trump administration can follow up on Governor Brownback’s appointment and distinguish itself by vigorously protecting human rights and religious freedom.Against this backdrop, we must not neglect our efforts to protect Christians, Yezidis, and others from the horrific violence in the Middle East. The U.S. government has already recognized that a genocide is taking place there, and now amid recent reports that State Department lawyers are removing that term from official descriptions of the situation, it is necessary to give even more attention to the situation—such as what was outlined in Congressman Chris Smith’s bill, the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act of 2017—to ensure the victims of genocide get the protection they need and deserve.Religious freedom is not to be segmented off in compartments in our lives, and it is not confined to the four walls of our places of worship. The United States used to hold to this robust vision of religious freedom, both at home and abroad. This vision used to be a part of how the United States led from a position of strength in promoting human rights globally. With Governor Brownback’s appointment, the Trump administration has an opportunity to once again start doing just that.
A measure legalizing assisted suicide in Washington, D.C., which was recently passed by the city council and signed by the mayor, has now officially taken effect as of July 17. Thankfully, the federal government has jurisdiction over the District’s laws, and the House Appropriations Committee has advanced a measure that would repeal the assisted suicide law. Republican congressman are currently working to include this measure in an upcoming must-pass omnibus bill that will ultimately need House and Senate approval and a signature by President Trump before D.C. can once again return to sanity on this issue.D.C. now joins six states (California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington) that have legalized assisted suicide. In a culture increasingly awash in the narcotic of moral relativism, let’s review why assisted suicide is such a grievous blow to our shared humanity and to common sense in general.1. New cures and treatments for diseases are constantly discovered. Congressman Andy Harris (R-Md.) made this point while proposing the amendment to repeal the D.C. assisted suicide measure: “New, stunning cures in medicine occur each and every day. Encouraging patients to commit suicide deprives them of the opportunity to potentially be cured by new treatments that could ameliorate their condition and even add years to their lives, if not cure them completely.”2. Taking lethal drugs is cheap and easy. Committing assisted suicide is a much cheaper alternative (about $300 on average) to often highly expensive (and sometimes experimental) medical treatments and procedures that can potentially extend the lives of (or cure) those who are gravely ill. It should go without saying that money should be no object to extending or saving someone’s life. But apparently it is, according to health insurance companies in states where assisted suicide is legal, who would rather cover cheap lethal drugs than more expensive medical treatments that could potentially extend or save lives.3. Doctors are often wrong about predicting how long a patient has to live. As with assisted suicide measures in other states, the D.C. law stipulates that only those with six months or less to live can get a lethal medication prescription. But doctors admit that it is very difficult to precisely determine how long a patient has left to live, and they are often surprised by how long patients outlive their diagnoses, or in some cases recover completely. It is also important to note that there are numerous types of cancer that will immediately mean that a patient has “six months to live” if the cancer is left untreated. In other words, many patients with six-month diagnoses could just as easily be cured from their cancer after treatment, meaning that assisted suicide creates a whole patient subset who do not have a terminal illness that can still legally commit suicide.4. It corrupts the patient-doctor relationship and the Hippocratic Oath. Every patient deserves to have trust in their doctor that they will do what’s best for their health. When a doctor recommends suicide, it is an inhuman violation of the implicit trust that a patient should have in their caretaker. In the Hippocratic Oath commonly taken by doctors, the primary rule is to “do no harm.” Committing assisted suicide is the most grievous breach of this oath.5. Assisted suicide limits patients’ access to high quality care. Rep. Wenstrup related the story of one Oregon resident with prostate cancer who applied for an expensive form of chemotherapy through the state-run healthcare system that his doctor had recommended. He was denied the treatment; he instead received a letter from the state of Oregon offering to pay for his assisted suicide.6. It preys upon the weak and vulnerable. Those who are terminally ill are understandably in a very fragile mental state. This makes them more vulnerable to give in to the “compassionate” advice of family members and doctors to end their lives, convincing them that they are creating a monetary and psychological “burden” on their families. Assisted suicide also gives those people who value money over the lives of their family members a convenient way to kill them off.7. It is a violation of equality before the law. As Ryan Anderson has written, “Classifying a subgroup of people as legally eligible to be killed violates our nation’s commitment to equality before the law—showing profound disrespect for and callousness to those who will be judged to have lives no longer ‘worth living,’ not least the frail elderly, the demented, and the disabled.”8. Comforting those who are dying is actually life-affirming. Numerous accounts of families drawing closer together around the bedside of a dying family member abound. Here is just one that I found particularly moving. Here is another one from a woman who worked on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, illustrating the fact that standing up against assisted suicide does not have to be a partisan issue.9. “Until the day we take our last breath, we have something to offer.” Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Oh.), a doctor, learned this lesson when he examined an AIDS patient in 1985, who died the next day. “He taught me something for a lifetime on his last day,” he said. The man told Wenstrup that he was the first person to fully examine him, because everybody else was too afraid to because of his mysterious disease (at that time). Wenstrup learned a valuable lesson about the dignity of every human life from this man, and what it must feel like to be cast aside and rejected by your fellow man.10. Human life is cheapened in the minds of everyone. When we declare a certain category of people as not worthy of life, we as human beings begin to doubt the value of human life in general. This phenomenon has been verified statistically in a study in Oregon, Washington, and Vermont, where assisted suicide is legal. After these laws were passed, the suicide rate amongst the general population went up in all three states.11. Everyone is needed. In the words of Rep. Wenstrup (who gave a superb policy lecture about assisted suicide at FRC headquarters): “With laws like this [assisted suicide laws], we promote the idea that you just aren’t needed here, and I think that’s hurting America across the board … As we go forward, we have to continue to discuss how important every life is, and the positive effects that you can have even in your struggles, not only for yourself, but for those around you. Life brings us together, and so does death; and I believe that until you take that last breath, you continue to give. And then who you were continues to give, forever—that will never perish. We need to take a long hard look at who we are as a society and what we want to be, where we want to go, what’s important to us. I imagine everyone that’s listening today hopefully feels that they have some value. You do have value. You need to feel necessary. We need to talk to each other, and tell each other how necessary each one of us is.”In concluding his lecture, Rep. Wenstrup related a true story he read in which the author was offered a sandwich by a homeless man while he was hitchhiking. “[The author] didn’t know what to say. He accepted it … What that [homeless] gentleman was doing was making himself needed. Everyone is needed. Everyone plays a part in our lives, and we need to respect that, and hopefully [on the issue of assisted suicide] we can drive that home, because we’re all better served if we value human life and emphasize its importance each and every day.”
Recently, a large amount of evidence was uncovered revealing that Backpage.com has been facilitating prostitution and child sex trafficking through the promotion of ads posted on its website. For years, Backpage has absorbed and dissolved accusations of these crimes by various non-profits and congressmen. They have dodged several lawsuits, many involving murders of young women who were victimized and trafficked through ads placed on their website. Similar to Craigslist, Backpage allows its users to post ads and sell various items, including sex ads.Backpage hosts ads through its “Dating” section showing scantily clad women and underage teenagers in explicit images, offering, for example, to “Let a young babe show you the way” or “Little angel seeks daddy.” This has been a huge source of controversy. In years past, Backpage has cited the Communications Decency Act in its defense, which protects websites that display ads posted by a third-party, whether by another website or person.Backpage hired an ad agency from the Philippines that specifically searches for advertisements concerning sex. This website looks for these ads on various websites and offers advertisers the opportunity to re-post on Backpage for free.However, recent evidence suggests that Backpage has edited these advertisements to use less-suggestive or explicit words. Since Backpage has interfered with the advertisement process, the immunity previously provided by the Communications Decency Act could be null.A mother whose daughter was trafficked on Backpage at the age of 15 was among some of the women who have lost lawsuits against Backpage for trafficking and prostitution charges. Her daughter was trafficked on Backpage for nearly 3 months. “I find it morally disgusting,” she said. “Not only are they exploiting young women that are clearly vulnerable, but they’re furthering their exploitation by putting them on another website. It just shows the lack of morality of this company, how little they care about the victims. Which child is going to be enough to make this end?”In recent years the subject of human trafficking has gained more traction. Yet, many Americans have little understanding of where and how trafficking begins. The stereotype is that trafficking is mainly a problem in third-world countries, yet many do not consider how American people are involved in and even continue the cycle of trafficking.Last summer, I spent some time working with a small ministry that cares for victims of sex trafficking in the heart of inner-city Akron, a city in Ohio of less than 200,000 people but with one of the highest drug overdose rates in the country and a hub for human trafficking. When I heard these statistics, I was shocked. I grew up near Akron and had no idea that human trafficking was happening anywhere close to where I grew up or was even an issue in America at all.The ministry is stashed away in the same area where women are picked up off the streets, prostituted, and trafficked. This involves a deep, dark cycle between the victim and a pimp, who oftentimes forces drug-use and uses fear-tactics to falsely create an attachment in the relationship. The victim submits to the control of the pimp again and again, until it is all she knows and the only way she understands how to survive.The women involved in this ministry harbored horror stories. Some women come to the ministry simply for free health and hygienic supplies. Some women would return simply for a gentle hug and smiling face.Written on their faces is the pain of violence and shame of what they have had to suffer. One woman returned again and again to a Bible study we hosted, sometimes with black eyes which were often bloodshot and glazed over. Some women suffered broken ribs.Not only does forced prostitution take an obvious toll on the body physically, but the emotional, mental, and spiritual effects are widespread. Victims of trafficking often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by harrowing experiences that often include violence, forced captivity, control, and fear. Mental symptoms of PTSD are manifestations of deep emotional wounds that are difficult to heal. How does a woman who has been victimized by sex trafficking learn how to view herself as a free and independent woman after such a traumatizing experience? It is not simply knowing she is free, but changing thought patterns which have been embedded in her mind, telling her that her worst fears are true: she is insignificant, she is invaluable, she is unforgivable, she is unchangeable, she is unlovable.Many ministries which try to help solve issues with trafficking focus on the mental and emotional healing process, helping women recover from trauma and PTSD. However, a woman is not only defined by her physical or even emotional or mental health.Jesus teaches us that the root of a person lies on a spiritual level. When asked how to inherit eternal life, Jesus answered, saying “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind…” (Luke 10:27). Jesus desires that we love Him with our whole person: with our heart’s desires, our soul’s reliance, our physical strength, and our mental capacity. All of these components are involved in the development of our relationship, commitment, and fellowship with Jesus. It is where our love for Him blossoms and strengthens. Commitment to Him is not simply spiritual, it is holistic: divine intervention within our humanness. God created us with a beautiful multiplicity and a unique capacity for love. The multiple facets of our human condition are unified in our worship and submission to His will.The trafficking of children and adults is a direct attack on this holistic concept of personhood that is rooted in Jesus’ love. The victim’s personhood is undermined at every level—physically, mentally, emotionally, and, ultimately, spiritually. Therefore, the battle against human trafficking is ultimately a spiritual one. In Luke, right after Jesus commands us to love Him with our whole person, He commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves.Unfortunately, human trafficking is not only present in third world countries—it is right at our doorsteps here in America. Loving our neighbors means establishing, renewing, and refreshing their concept of personhood—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—in the love exhibited by Jesus’ teachings and, ultimately, His work on the cross. The controversy involved with Backpage is not simply a matter of the law, it is a matter of people’s personhoods being taken advantage of and being broken down and dehumanized into a purely sexualized image, exacerbated by a culture immersed in pornography.Regardless of what Backpage did or did not do, they’re dabbling in a dark field through the dissemination of sex ads. These ads perpetuate the cycle of prostitution and trafficking. It is our responsibility as Christians to respond and to battle back against this scourge. The cycle of trafficking can be broken. These victims can be reached, healed, and reestablished as whole people through a holistic and complete concept of personhood through Jesus Christ.Mary Beasley is an intern at Family Research Council.
The Reverend William Barber from North Carolina made news this week by claiming in an interview on prayer for President Trump that it “borders on heresy when you can p-r-a-y for a president” while they are “preying” on others. This, in his view, is “violating the most sacred principles of religion.”Assuming Reverend Barber looks to the Bible as his spiritual authority, I would suggest that the “principles of religion” demand the exact opposite—they actually require the Christian to pray for all leaders. Indeed, if this borders on heresy, a portion of the New Testament may be heretical.1 Timothy 2:1-3 says: “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior” (emphasis mine).This command is non-negotiable for every Christian; it doesn’t matter if we agree with the leader or not—as several ministers recently pointed out in rebuttal to Barber. Not all may have voted for President Trump, but he now is the president, and we all should hope and pray that he brings blessing to our nation. Similarly, not all may have voted for President Obama—I was in the camp who did not. But once he became president, it became a requirement of me and every other Christian who did not vote for him to nevertheless pray for the president to do well in God’s sight.Christians should always speak truth to power. Yet we can do this while we also pray for God to bless the nation through the leaders he has appointed over us.Reverend Barber and I do see eye to eye on one overarching point—that faith should inform the public life of our nation. We agree that it is proper for a minister, pastor, or theologian to offer their views in the public square. Reverend Barber is doing this, and so do I. In that sense, he is a religious liberty advocate just like myself.While Christians may differ on the application of that faith, we still agree that it should speak to our society—as opposed to those who think religion has no role in the public square at all. Rev. Barber and I would both say they are completely wrong. Let both his and my supporters unify on this point, for Christianity has much with which to benefit and bless our nation. Regardless of our differences on how it is applied, we should rally together to defend its place in the public life of our nation.
Dear Friends,In last week’s message, I discussed the growing problem of hostility to Christianity that many Americans have faced over the last 15 years and continue to face now, despite living in a free democracy.It’s important to remember that this problem is by no means limited to the U.S.—other freedom-loving countries are also showing disturbing anti-Christian trends. In a recent survey conducted in the U.K., it was revealed that an astonishing 93 percent of Christians “believe that their faith is being marginalized in British society today.” The results were published by Premier Christian Communications, after 12,000 “ordinary Christians” took part in the survey. Commenting on the survey results, Premier CEO Peter Kerridge said that “it is ‘clear’ that the U.K. does not have the ‘liberal accepting society’ that it believes it does ‘if we don't tolerate and accept everyone, including Christians.’” In just the past year in the U.K., a Christian nurse was fired for speaking about her faith and praying for patients, two Christians were convicted of disorderly conduct and fined for preaching on the streets, and numerous Christian schools were given downgraded statuses by the leading education watchdog group for their teachings on homosexuality and other religions.FRC will continue to fight for the freedoms of all believers to live out their faith freely in the public square, with the hope that Christians of all nationalities will also fight for their rights. Christ’s words will forever be our guide: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.”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 ArticlesIt’s Time to Clean Up Our Elections – Ken BlackwellDoctors Across The World Are Fighting To Treat Charlie Gard. Will The UK Let Them? – Arina GrossuWhere Are The Decent Liberals? – Ken BlackwellThe Serpents are Surfacing – Ken BlackwellMovie Review: “Alison’s Choice” – Lauren HandThose with Gender Dysphoria Can Find Healing – Peter SpriggNo Fear: Coach Kennedy’s Steadfast Faith – Emma GibneyRelease Charlie Gard – Arina Grossu Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareHas a Civil Rights Stalwart Lost Its Way? – Ben Schreckinger, Politico MagazineCakes and Consciences: The Case of Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop – Nathanael Blake, Public DiscourseThe Urgency of Restoring the Biblical Values of America’s Founders – Arthur Goldberg, Public DiscoursePassion for Equality – Mark Movsesian, First ThingsThe Pelvic Left Attacks an Innocent Woman – Austin Ruse, CrisisThe Media’s Use of This ‘Hate Group’ Label Puts Conservatives’ Safety at Risk – Katrina Trinko, The Daily SignalReligious Freedom Advocates Fire Back After ‘Hate Group’ Smear Over Jeff Sessions Speech – Fred Lucas, The Daily SignalInternational Religious Freedom93 Percent of UK Christians Feel Their Faith Is Marginalized, Survey Says – Samuel Smith, The Christian PostOrthodox Jewish girls school faces closure for refusing to teach children about homosexuality – Brandon Morse, TheBlazeThe New Totalitarian Laws of Canada – John Paul Meenan, CrisisChinese Nobel Prize winner dies in prison, first since the Nazi regime – ChinaAidMilitary Religious FreedomUS Army Tells Female Soldiers to 'Accept' Having Naked Men in Their Showers – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post‘Work Hard, Pray Hard’: Retired General Reveals the True Path to Inner Peace – Erik Rosales, CBN News LifeAbortionVideo: Stephanie Gray: "Abortion: From Controversy to Civility" – Talks at GoogleStunning images from inside the womb show that human life begins at fertilization – Becky Yeh, Live Action NewsOregon poised to make abortion free – Samantha Gobba, WORLDAbortion Fanatics Don’t Want Choice, They Want Fewer Babies – Mollie Hemingway, The FederalistBioethicsParental and Governmental Authority in Medical Decisions: The Tragic Case of Charlie Gard – Melissa Moschella, Public DiscourseJe Suis Charlie, Once More – R.R. Reno, First ThingsBasic Bioethics: How to illuminate the Christian perspective – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionObamacareNeeded pro-life protections in potential healthcare legislation – Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionObamacare Is Causing Insurers To Delay Surgeries Patients Need – Richard Menger, The FederalistBringing Senate Conservatives and Moderates Together on Health-Care Reform – Michael F. Cannon, National Review FamilyEconomics/EducationHow to Find Hope in the Humanless Economy – Kevin Brown and Steven McMullen, Christianity TodayHere’s How Anti-Conservative Academic Discrimination Works – David French, National ReviewJobs Report Stronger Than Expected, but More Must Be Done to Boost the Economy – Timothy Doescher, The Daily SignalHere’s Why So Many Republicans View America’s Colleges And Universities Negatively – Gracy Olmstead, The FederalistIs California anti-family? – Joel Kotkin, Orange County RegisterThink Tank: Reconsider Caring For Your Kids Because Money Matters Most – Gracy Olmstead, The FederalistMarriage5 Long-Time Married Couples Share Their Secrets to a Happy Marriage – Jenna Jonaitis, VerilyMarried People Have More Sex – Nathan Yau, FlowingdataPremarital counseling can decrease divorce rates, psychologist says – Laren Hanson, The Daily UniverseMichigan couple, both 99, celebrates 80th wedding anniversary – Eliza Murphy, Good Morning AmericaThe 4 Crises Every Marriage Must Make It Through – Paul Carter, The Gospel CoalitionThe Adult Children of Divorce Find Their Voice – Leila Miller, Family StudiesFaith/Character/CultureWhy Is God So Hidden? – J. Warner Wallace, BreakPointCan Ethnicity Become a Straitjacket? – Mike Tong, Desiring GodDon’t be Uncle Rico: A moral snatched from Napoleon Dynamite – Tod Worner, AleteiaHospitality Is Not Just for Home – Bethany Jenkins, The Gospel CoalitionWhat Makes Humans So Special? – Matt Nelson, Word On FireWant to Lead a Happier Life? Be More Generous, Study Says – Brandon Showalter, The Christian PostHuman SexualitySymptoms, Causes and Loving Those with Same-Sex Attraction – Carrie Gress, National Catholic RegisterDoctors Admit They Don’t Know Which Kids Should Gender Transition But Do It To Them Anyway – Walt Heyer, The FederalistHusband, Lift Up Your Eyes – John Piper, Desiring GodPediatrician: ‘Transgender’ ideology has created widespread child abuse – Michelle A. Cretella, LifeSiteNewsIncrease in extramarital sex leading to new STD epidemic – Fr. Mark Hodges, LifeSiteNewsMost Teens Aren’t Having Sex, and They Deserve More Support for That Choice – Alysse ElHage, Family StudiesOral sex spreading unstoppable bacteria – James Gallagher, BBC NewsAt issue: The push for gender inclusivity in toys – Chris Woodward, OneNewsNowHuman Trafficking3 things to know about the human trafficking report – Travis Wussow, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionBackpage has always claimed it doesn’t control sex-related ads. New documents show otherwise. – Tom Jackman and Jonathan O'Connell, The Washington PostPornographyWhat Porn Did To Their Lives – Rod Dreher, The American ConservativeSeven Promises to Pray Against Porn – J.A. Medders, Desiring GodKay Warren: ‘I Struggled With Porn Fascination’ – Nancy Flory, The Stream
Last month, it was my privilege to attend the annual conference of the Restored Hope Network (RHN) in San Diego. The Restored Hope Network is the nation’s largest umbrella organization for Christian organizations engaged in “transformational ministry” with those who suffer from unwanted same-sex attractions (SSA). (It is often seen as a successor to Exodus International, an organization that shut down in 2013 after its leadership abandoned its original message that change is possible for those with unwanted SSA.)LGBT activists in the San Diego area organized protests against the conference (although they did not turn out anything close to the 1,000 protesters they promised). Ironically, the protests had some positive effect—at least one person struggling with unwanted SSA who attended the conference said he would never have known about it if not for the publicity about the protests.I was struck, however, by the sharp disconnect between what the protesters assumed was actually happening in the conference and what was actually happening there. As just one example, critics of “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE)—which they (not its practitioners) refer to as “conversion therapy”—often charge that such programs damage participants by instilling “shame” in them. The truth is the exact opposite—participants come into SOCE with shame, and a key goal of the counselling is to overcome and remove that sense of shame.One thing striking about this year’s conference was the increased emphasis on issues of gender identity as well as sexual orientation—a clear reflection of the growing prominence of the transgender issue just in the two years since I last attended an RHN conference. Since RHN is an explicitly Christian organization, the twin issues of homosexuality and gender dysphoria (dissatisfaction with one’s biological sex) were both addressed by several speakers in the theological context of the “image of God,” as expressed in Genesis 1:27:And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them.In other words, our maleness or femaleness, and the complementarity of the two, is part of the “image of God” with which each of us is created by God. Linda Seiler, who struggled with gender identity issues growing up, said this means that “gender is sacred” and that “rejecting one’s God-given sex is rebelling against the Creator.” Speaker Nate Oyloe applied the concept to marriage, saying, “Divorce is the image of God, masculine and feminine, being torn apart.” Another speaker, who formerly lived a lesbian lifestyle and is now living a life of chastity, gave a personal testimony in which she declared, “I was born with a sinful and rebellious nature, but I was reborn in the imago dei (image of God).”The highlight of the conference for me was seeing the world premiere of a new documentary film called TranZformed: Finding Peace with Your God-Given Gender. While the movement that believes sexual orientation change is possible has been around for decades, and numerous testimonies of those who have experienced change have long been available, until now only a few people have publicly come out as “ex-transgender” (the most prominent being Walt Heyer—see his website).TranZformed, however, features the dramatic testimonies of 15 ex-transgender individuals who “bear witness to what Jesus Christ can do for those who struggle with gender dysphoria.” The film, which is over an hour long, was very professionally produced by Pure Passion Media, a ministry dedicated to “equipping the church to redemptively minister to those who are trapped in sexual sin and brokenness” (a focus which definitely includes heterosexual sin and brokenness, such as pornography addiction). In fact, two of the testimonies included in TranZformed are available on the Pure Passion website.However, the DVD of the entire documentary is available for order at the TranZformed website. I highly recommend it for the dramatic personal insight it gives into the transgender issue.
The film “Alison’s Choice” dramatizes a two-hour waiting period of a pregnant high school student while she awaits her abortion appointment. As Alison sits in the waiting room, she encounters God as a janitor, two other patients at the abortion facility, three medical staff, and a counselor. Alison speaks with God as He pleads with her to save her child, while revealing different reasons behind the problems in the world. As God converses with Alison, He also speaks with each one of the women in the waiting room in an effort to save them and their children. Alison asks God various questions about why He allows certain problems in the world to continue and why He is impeding on what she thinks is the “freedom” of her and the other girls at the facility to “simply live their lives.” God shows Alison her baby growing inside her womb and lets her know of His loving plan for them both.Alison’s boyfriend Ricky, the father of the baby, is absent while she waits for her abortion appointment, and the time makes Alison reflect on their relationship. Ricky told her “to just get rid of it,” upon discovering that she was pregnant after pressuring her to have sex with him in the first place. God reveals He was present at each moment preceding Alison’s abortion appointment, and He recounts asking Ricky to “be a man” and to take care of Alison and their unborn daughter.The medical staff at the center suspects that Alison is unsure about her abortion procedure, so they attempt to coax her. Alison first meets a counselor on staff at the center who encourages her to have the abortion because it “makes sense.” She then meets a married woman who has two children and believes she and her family are not prepared for a third, so she chose to have an abortion rather than telling her husband or her two other children she is pregnant. Alison then journeys beyond the waiting room to speak with an abortionist on staff as well as a nurse. The abortionist tells Alison that there is a “growing lump of tissue” inside of her, and it will inconvenience her and not allow her to go on with life. The nurse is a single woman who is “celebrating” her 5,000th “termination” in her time in the abortion industry. She is delighted to not have a man or child to “serve” but instead carries three pictures of her cats around her neck who are her companions. The film then travels through various thoughts in Alison’s mind as she grapples with the life and death decision about her preborn daughter. The movie ends with Alison’s decision revealed. The film invites the audience to contemplate the realities that women and men face with an unplanned pregnancy. The rational moral consequences that can stem from the ordeal of abortion are made evident in the film through relatable characters. Despite some stereotypical moments, “Alison’s Choice” has a very plausible storyline and leaves the audience with an accurate representation of both the abortion industry and the difficult and often frightening reality of making decisions surrounding an unplanned pregnancy. Lauren Hand is an intern at Family Research Council.

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