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Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:1. Update: Rand Paul Pushes for Sanity in the Transgender DebateLike most parents, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has watched this train of transgender activism barrel down the tracks at speeds no one can believe. In just a handful of years, he’s seen the Left’s activists work our country over, softening it up for the end of the sexes, the mutilation of young healthy bodies, the deconstruction of science and medicine.2. Update: SCOTUS Reiterates Its Open-Door Policy on ChurchesIt’s a battle, Pastor Mike McClure said, that he “never wanted to be in.” But it’s a battle that God called him to fight—and he knows it. Keeping his church open hasn’t been easy, but then being obedient in the face of controversy usually isn’t. Still, Pastor Mike pointed out, it’s amazing when you do what’s right how “the Lord just shows up.”3. Blog: Holy Boldness: The Uncommon Courage of Dietrich BonhoefferMere days after the major networks called the 2020 presidential race for Joe Biden, many who questioned the integrity of the election were quickly banned from major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. What started with former President Trump being banned turned into much more.4. Blog: The Equality Act Demands Conformity to Moral AnarchyThe House of Representatives recently passed the Equality Act, legislation that supporters say is necessary to protect those who identify as LGBT from unjust discrimination. While some praised the passing of the bill, a careful analysis of the bill reveals that the Equality Act would stigmatize anyone who holds a Christian worldview.5. Washington Watch: David Closson Explains Landmines for Christians in Pursuing ‘Equality’ That Contradicts ScriptureWhat is a biblical perspective on the Equality Act? Before the U.S. House vote on the Equality Act, David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview, joined Tony Perkins to discuss.6. Washington Watch: Sen. Marsha Blackburn Says the Dems’ COVID ‘Relief’ is a Cover for Radical Pro-Abortion PolicySen. Marsha Blackburn joined Tony Perkins to discuss the politicization of COVID relief to advance a liberal agenda, and the House Democrats’ letter demanding cable providers censor Newsmax, One America News, and Fox News.7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: UnashamedOn this edition of Pray Vote Stand, Tony Perkins, Congressman Greg Steube, and Al Robertson share how Christians can unashamedly stand for biblical truth within the “cancel culture.”
Challenges to religious freedom continue to persist and intensify around the world, and it can be difficult to wrap our minds around these many diverse threats. It is important that we make an effort, however, because Scripture prompts us to remember our Christian brothers and sisters who are imprisoned and mistreated (Heb. 13:3).If we are going to remember the persecuted, we must first learn their stories and empathize with their plight. A great way to start is by reading about the experiences of those who have lived in persecuted contexts.Here are eight books that demonstrate the critical importance of religious freedom and can help us empathize with the persecuted:God’s Hostage by Andrew BrunsonAmerican pastor Andrew Brunson had ministered at a small Turkish church for years. Then, he unjustly got swept up in the government’s crackdown on a 2016 coup attempt. In his book, he opens up about the hardships he endured in prison and what God taught him through it all. Captive in Iran by Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh AmirizadehMaryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh converted to Christianity in Iran, where it is illegal to do so. But they chose to share their newfound faith rather than stay in hiding. As a result, they discovered what one of the region’s most notorious prisons is like.Under the Same Sky by Joseph KimJoseph Kim grew up in North Korea, the world’s most repressed country. It wasn’t until he managed to escape to China that he learned about Christianity.The Last Girl by Nadia MuradNadia Murad lived a simple, rural life in Iraq until ISIS invaded her region and committed a genocide against her people. As a young Yazidi woman, she was taken by ISIS militants and sold into slavery before finally managing to escape.Goodbye, Antoura by Karnig PanianKarnig Panian was just a boy when Ottoman forces began their genocide against Armenians. Sent to an orphanage that taught him to abandon his Christian traditions and embrace a Turkish identity, he and other orphans endured immense challenges as the genocide occurred.God’s Double Agent by Bob FuBorn in Communist China, Bob Fu converted to Christianity and soon became a house church leader, evading the restrictive government. After being caught and sent to prison, he and his wife fled, where he began a new life as a human rights advocate in the United States.Saving My Assassin by Virginia ProdanIn Ceausescu’s Romania, Virginia Prodan became a lawyer, always searching for the truth. When she finally found it in Christianity, she began defending Romanian Christians and churches in court.God’s Smuggler by Brother AndrewThis Dutch missionary known as “Brother Andrew” smuggled Bibles into the Soviet Union. As he risked his safety to visit churches under communist regimes, he discovered what it meant to support the persecuted church. He eventually founded Open Doors.***This is by no means an exhaustive list, but reading these stories will broaden your worldview and expose you to some of the challenges experienced by believers simply trying to live out their faith. A few of these book recommendations are set in the past. Even though the specific circumstances described may have changed, the past has much to teach us about present threats to religious freedom and those that might surface in the future.For more background information on current religious freedom challenges around the world, keep an eye out for FRC’s “International Religious Freedom 101” blog series. You can read the first installment about Turkey here.
On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts Thinking Biblically About Unity and Thinking Biblically About Safety.The phrase “Christian nationalism” has been receiving a lot of attention in American public discourse recently. Conversations about this ideology predate the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6; however, there has been renewed interest in the topic since these events transpired. But what exactly is Christian nationalism, and is it something that Bible-believing Christians should support or oppose?First, we must define our terms.What Is Nationalism?Webster’s dictionary defines nationalism as “loyalty and devotion to a nation.” Strong identification with one’s nation and its interests signifies a commitment to nationalism. Colloquially, nationalism and patriotism are considered more or less synonymous.However, an excess of nationalism can have a dark side. It should be noted that, wherever there is strong nationalistic fervor, great care must be taken to uphold individual rights and the interests of those who do not hold political power at a given moment. Enthusiasm for one’s country and culture must never be prioritized over the human dignity of others. At various points throughout history, excessive nationalistic zeal has led to the exclusion, marginalization, or outright persecution of minority groups within nations. This likely describes what is happening today in the Xinjiang province of China, where the communist government has been committing genocide against its Uyghur Muslim minority.What Is Christian Nationalism?A broadly agreed-upon definition of the phrase “Christian nationalism” does not currently exist. However, it is commonly used in reference to a person conflating their Christian and American identities. Christian nationalism views one’s Christian and American identities as one and the same; a person’s American identity is inextricable from their Christian one. Christian nationalism considers being a “good American” and a “good Christian” as synonymous.Some who adhere to Christian nationalist ideology argue that America’s very social fabric is overtly defined by Christianity and believe those in government ought to take proactive steps to keep it that way by force of law. In other words, they believe Christians deserve a privileged position in society. While America was certainly influenced by Christian principles at its founding and owes a debt to Christian notions of equal rights and human dignity, the impulse of Christian nationalism to exclude ethnic or religious minorities for the purpose of accruing more power runs counter to the Bible’s expansive view of religious liberty. Keeping these definitions in mind, we can draw a few conclusions:1. Measured patriotism (defined as a love for the ideals and values of one’s country) is good.Although not perfect, the United States has arguably been one of the greatest forces for good in world history. Whether it has been supporting democracy around the globe, championing human rights, providing billions of dollars in economic and humanitarian aid, or exporting life-saving technologies, America has been at the forefront of improving the quality of life for many around the world. American advancements in medicine, technology, and science have lifted countless people out of poverty, created cures for diseases, and expanded human knowledge in fields ranging from microbiology to astronomy. James 1:7 reminds us that every good gift comes from God, and American Christians should praise God for how He has used our nation to help those beyond our shores.As historian Thomas Kidd notes, while Christian nationalism (properly defined) is misguided, “measured patriotism still seems appropriate, and somewhat unavoidable for most Christians.” Within proper bounds, if directed toward morally good ends, patriotism should be encouraged. It is appropriate for Americans to feel love and affection for the honorable things their country has stood for and done. Moreover, rather than viewing everything our nation has done through rose-colored glasses, we should engage in the type of patriotism that calls our nation to be even better. Seeking the welfare of one’s city or nation (Jer. 29:7) is a practical way for Christians to obey the commandment of loving one’s neighbor (Mk. 12:31).2. Christian nationalism (defined as conflating one’s Christian and American identity) is wrong and ought to be rejected.When a Christian’s devotion to their country becomes the prevailing and all-encompassing passion in their life, something has gone awry. Like all good things, love of country can become an idol if it supplants the ultimate allegiance owed exclusively to God. Christians should love what is honorable about their country, but their devotion to it should have limitations. How do we know when love of country has crossed the line? At what point does patriotism become idolatrous? Thomas Kidd, referring to Matthew McCullough’s work, argues that American patriotism crosses the line into Christian nationalism when it gives “an exaggerated transcendent meaning to American history.” In other words, if the “American nation has taken a central place in our understanding of redemptive history” (emphasis added), we have entered unbiblical territory. As much as America means to us, it must not become the central defining factor in our lives. God’s Word forbids that.To be clear, Christians should actively participate in the political process. Scripture teaches that believers have a responsibility to engage in “good works” (Eph. 2:10). For American Christians this means stewarding their political responsibilities by voting for and supporting candidates and causes that advance biblical values in the public square.America has been (and hopefully will continue to be) a great blessing to the rest of the world. Still, Christians must be careful not to ascribe a status to the United States that is not warranted by Scripture. 3. The broad use of the term “Christian nationalism” is being used in an attempt to silence American Christians.Christians can engage in the public square without it being Christian nationalism. Unfortunately, the ideological Left has seized upon the “Christian nationalism” buzzword in an attempt to belittle all American Christians and drive them from the public square. In most of their discussions about Christian nationalism, the term is rarely defined. This is by design. In the aftermath of the January 6th attack on the Capitol, many on the Left have exploited the disordered nationalism of a few to call the motives of politically engaged Christians into question.Most American Christians love their country and do not subscribe to a political ideology that seeks to marginalize other Americans based on faith or doctrinal differences. The overwhelming majority of believers do not wish to impose any sort of theocracy on their fellow citizens. However, these realities make no difference to those who wish to cast a shadow of doubt on Christians’ true intentions and beliefs.For many on the ideological Left, this is the end game. By equating Christians with fanatics and conspiracy theorists, secular progressives believe they can more easily “cancel” Christians and exclude them from society and the political process. By radicalizing the term “Christian nationalism,” many see an opportunity to further the narrative that Christian political engagement is dangerous for America and motivated by evil.This means that although Christian nationalism (properly defined) ought to be opposed within Christian circles, there is a larger agenda behind much of the recent public condemnation of it. This is a crucial point for Christians to understand. Those who invoke the phrase “Christian nationalism” as part of their political fearmongering have one goal: to scare Christians from engaging on important issues and give others a reason to distrust Christians.But as Christians who recognize our dual calling as citizens of the City of God and the City of man, we must recommit to speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) and living peaceably with our neighbors (Rom. 12:18) when engaging in the public square. Now, more than ever, our witness is needed, and we must not be silenced by those who want to drive us out.Intentional Christian CitizenryDebates on Christian nationalism require the very best of Christian thinking. They also require discernment and awareness of the prevailing political and cultural winds. Those who follow Jesus are commanded to take “every thought captive” in order to follow Jesus faithfully (2 Cor. 10:5). This admonition applies to every political and moral question and situation, including Christian nationalism. May our efforts to be intentional Christian citizens be marked with love, faithfulness, and wisdom.
“That government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” - President Abraham LincolnYesterday, the Arkansas House of Representatives followed the will of the Arkansas citizenry and voted to protect an inherent right of all people: the right to life.Recognizing that life begins at conception, AR SB 6, the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act, sponsored by Senator Jason Rapert and Representative Mary Bentley, specifically calls on the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the erroneous decisions of Roe, Doe, and Casey. Anticipating critics’ claim that stare decisis must stand and past Supreme Court decisions are untouchable, SB 6 provides a brief history to answer this claim by detailing in the legislative findings the Supreme Court’s egregious mistakes of the past: Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson. SB 6 explains how the Supreme Court denied the personhood of African Americans throughout the United States in the Dred Scott decision and later reaffirmed this racist and inhumane position when it denied African Americans equal protection in Plessy’s “separate but equal” doctrine. By highlighting these two decisions of the Court, not only does SB 6 explain how our top court has erred, but it places Roe, Doe, and Casey alongside Dred Scott and Plessy as atrocious decisions. As SB 6 explains, the American people have corrected the judicial sins of Scott and Plessy, and the Supreme Court has overturned these unjust precedents.The erroneous stare decisis of Scott and Plessy were overturned and invalidated by the Civil War Amendments and Brown v. Board of Education. SB 6 calls on the Supreme Court to again listen to the American people and overturn the Roe, Doe, and Casey decisions. By criminalizing abortion at all stages except when the life of the pregnant mother is at risk, the Arkansas legislature has upheld the ideals of our Declaration of Independence and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address by legally recognizing the government’s responsibility to honor and protect all people’s right to life, including the unborn. While explicitly protecting the pregnant women whom the abortion was performed on from prosecution, SB 6 designates the crime of abortion as an “unclassified felony.” The penalty for committing this felony of abortion is either a fine of $100,000 or up to 10 years imprisonment, or both. By criminalizing this crime against humanity, SB 6 punishes the perpetrator while protecting both the mother and child from legal or physical harm.SB 6 is a bold bill that, if signed by Governor Asa Hutchinson, would demonstrate the will of a number of American people that the government should protect innocent lives, not sanction their destruction. While calling on the Supreme Court to overturn the bad precedent of Roe, Doe, and Casey, SB 6 outlines how the Court has made horrific mistakes in the past—such as Scott and Plessy—that were later corrected by the American people through both the legislature and the judiciary. In Roe, Doe, and Casey, the Court should do the same. Although our government has ignored the will of the American people and the cries of her massacred unborn children for almost 50 years now, SB 6 marks a return to government of, by, and for the people. By calling on the Supreme Court to overturn mistaken and dangerous precedent, SB 6 is upholding the ideals of government of and by the people. By protecting our most vulnerable, SB 6 signals the return of government for the people.We pray SB 6 and many more like it are enacted and the Supreme Court overturns its erroneous rulings so government for the people—including innocent unborn people—shall not perish from the earth.Arkansans, please tell Governor Asa Hutchinson to sign SB 6 and enact this historic pro-life bill!Mary Jayne Caum is a Government Affairs Research Assistant at Family Research Council.
Tucked away in H.R. 1, a bill intended to enact sweeping election reforms, is a problematic religious test for public service—this time on redistricting commissions set up by the bill.H.R. 1 requires states to establish a nonpartisan agency in the state legislature. This nonpartisan agency will establish an independent redistricting commission to organize electoral districts.Section 2412 establishes eligibility criteria to serve on the redistricting commission. Any individual applying to serve on the redistricting commission must provide personal information, including:The reason or reasons the individual desires to serve on the independent redistricting commission, the individual’s qualifications, and information relevant to the ability of the individual to be fair and impartial, including, but not limited to—(I) any involvement with, or financial support of, professional, social, political, religious, or community organizations or causes [emphasis added].While it may appear minor, this is incredibly problematic because it suggests that religious affiliations may affect an individual’s ability to be impartial, and thereby may make them ineligible to serve on the commission. This is not only discriminatory, but also unconstitutional.Article 6, Clause 3, of the U.S. Constitution states that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” This is a tradition that has protected religious believers from discrimination for centuries. It is critical that we preserve the integrity of this constitutional clause and refuse to allow religious tests to become enshrined in law through H.R. 1.As cancel culture rages, it is easy to see how this provision will be utilized to target conservative Christians, whose biblical values are increasingly at odds with the culture’s embrace of certain favored ideologies. When Judge Amy Coney Barrett was chosen to be a Supreme Court Justice, the Left relentlessly called her eligibility for the office into question based on her informal affiliation with a Catholic prayer group.Provisions like this one only legitimate that shameful argument. The subtle religious test in H.R. 1 is just another reason Congress should reject this bill.
Ninety years ago today, on March 3, 1931, Congress officially designated “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key as the national anthem of the United States of America. Key’s song is a reminder of the fight for freedom and the patriots who gave their lives during the founding of our country. Key wrote this poem as a tribute to our flag as a beacon of hope and liberty for all American citizens and the world. On the anniversary of this poem becoming our national anthem, it is appropriate to remember the price so many have paid throughout our history to secure our rights and liberty.Francis Scott Key did not anticipate that his poem would one day become the anthem and make him famous, but his poetic words and reputation proceeded him. He was born to a wealthy family in Frederick County, Maryland on August 1, 1779. He attended St. John’s College in Annapolis. After finishing his studies, he learned and practiced law under his uncle for several years. In 1802 he married Mary Tayloe “Polly” Lloyd and the couple moved to Georgetown where he practiced law. Key gained notoriety when he defended Justus Eric Bollman and Samuel Swartwout who had been charged with treason. He would go on to serve as the District Attorney for the District of Columbia and even an advisor to President Andrew Jackson in the 1860s.During the War of 1812, the British attacked Fort McHenry on September 13, 1814. For over 25 hours, cannon fire, bombs, and militia tested the resilience of the fort. The British attacked the fort after successfully marching through Washington, D.C. where they burned the Capitol and the White House. During the assault, Key made an agreement with the British and boarded one of their ships to rescue his friend who was a prisoner of war. As the battle continued into the night, the British forced Key to remain on the ship to prevent him from aiding his countrymen. From the ship it seemed as though all hope was lost for America. However, it was the sight at dawn that inspired Key to pen the famous words to his short poem, originally titled, “Defense of Fort M’Henry.”O say can you see by the dawn’s early lightWhat so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleamingWhose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fightO’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in airGave proof through the night that our flag was still thereO say does that star-spangled banner yet waveO’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.The poem describes the beautiful sight of liberty overcoming tyranny as the United States flag soared over the fort at dawn declaring an American victory. The banner was specifically commissioned by Major Armistead who was in command of Fort McHenry. Mary Pickersgill along with her daughter, two nieces, and servant all worked for over six weeks to complete the flag. They made two flags, one to charge the garrison that was 17 by 25 feet, and another to fly over the fort that was 30 by 42 feet. Both had 15 red and white stripes and 15 stars to represent the 15 states at the time. It is estimated that they used over 300 yards of wool; she was paid nearly $600 when it was complete. When it was clear that America had claimed the victory, the larger of the flags was raised. This flag was passed down through the Armistead family. Over time, pieces were cut off and shared with veterans, family friends, historians, and political figures. Today what is left of the flag is preserved in the Smithsonian Museum of American History.Within a week, the poem that Key wrote describing the victory at Fort McHenry was published in the Baltimore Patriot, a local newspaper, and its popularity soon spread. Key’s brother-in-law set the poem to music and took the tune from a men’s social club song called, “To Anacreon to Heaven.” After the poem was put to music it was renamed, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Because of the vulgar connotation of the tune as a “drinking song” and its association with the social club, Congress rejected it when the song was first proposed as the national anthem in 1930. Its leaders wanted the national anthem to have more wholesome and honorable origins. Further some members did not agree with adopting the song because it was difficult to march or dance to the rhythm. Other well-known patriotic songs such as “America the Beautiful,” “Hail, Columbia,” and “My Country, Tis of Thee” where all close contenders in the debate for America’s anthem. Finally, in 1931 they came to a consensus and “The Star-Spangled Banner” was declared the national anthem.Our national anthem is a testimony of our nation’s history and founding. As we sing the words together before a ball game, in our schools, on Independence Day, and at political events, it’s a great opportunity to take the time to remember that freedom is never free. It is our sacred duty to preserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness so that the next generation might benefit from the freedom that we have because of the sacrifice of the generations before us.
Even though George Orwell’s 1984 is a work of fiction, the last two years might lead one to believe that it is a true story—just with the wrong title. In his book, Orwell writes of a government that dictates its own version of the truth and silences anyone who dares to challenge their approved groupthink.Mere days after the major networks called the 2020 presidential race for Joe Biden, many who questioned the integrity of the election were quickly banned from major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. What started with former President Trump being banned turned into much more. Even groups like Focus on the Family have been banned by Twitter for proclaiming biblical truth about gender and sexuality, not to mention the many Christians and Catholics who have been persecuted in America over the past decade for running their businesses and ministries according to their deeply held religious convictions. For example, take Jack Phillips, Barronelle Stutzman, the Little Sisters of the Poor, or dozens of others. None of these people wanted the battle they were given, but they were not willing to sacrifice truth and justice on the altar of political correctness.In the midst of a raging “cancel culture,” it might be tempting for many Bible-believing Christians to keep their faith to themselves and not speak up against governmental policies that are antithetical to biblical teaching. But, throughout history, God has called His people to stand up against the rising tide of antibiblical teaching and policies, no matter the consequences. One of the greatest modern examples of this kind of courage and heroism is the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.I recently finished Eric Metaxas’ brilliant biography Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. If you’ve never read any of Eric Metaxas’ works, I cannot recommend him enough. His biographies read like novels, and it’s hard to put them down. Ironically, I finished this incredible biography on what would have been Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s 115th birthday, February 4, 1906.Born into an affluent German family, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a prominent and well-respected theologian of his time. He graduated from the University of Berlin in 1927 and went on to receive a doctorate in theology for his influential thesis, Sanctorum Communio (Communion of Saints). After graduating, Bonhoeffer spent time in Spain and America, broadening his horizons and allowing him multiple opportunities to observe worship practices of other denominations. He spent a year in Barcelona, serving as a pastor to a German congregation. He then traveled to New York to complete a fellowship at Union Theological Seminary. During this time, he met an African-American student named Frank Fisher who invited Bonhoeffer to attend church services in Harlem. Bonhoeffer was greatly affected by this and spent much time interacting with the congregation and listening to Negro spirituals. In particular, Bonhoeffer was greatly displeased with the racism against African-Americans in the United States at that time, which further influenced his hatred of Hitler’s atrocities against the Jews in Germany.The early 1930s were especially tumultuous for Germany. After World War I, the League of Nations had imposed crushing economic penalties on the country, leading to mass unemployment. Coupled with the instability of the Weimar Republic and the lack of leadership from Kaiser Wilhelm II, Germany was ripe for a charismatic leader to take over. Bonhoeffer returned to Berlin in 1931 and was ordained as a pastor in the German Evangelical Church at age 25. Ironically, Bonhoeffer came to prominence at the very time another leader was rising to power—the infamous Adolf Hitler. At noon, on January 30, 1933, Hitler was elected chancellor of Germany.Hitler’s election was widely praised by the German population, who were desperate for hope of an economic turnaround. Even a majority of the German Evangelical Church supported Hitler. But Dietrich Bonhoeffer was not one of them. In fact, two days after Hitler was elected chancellor, Bonhoeffer delivered a radio address criticizing “The Fuhrer” concept. In his address, Bonhoeffer said the following before his broadcast was cut off mid-air, a tell-tale sign of Hitler’s intent to silence any opposition to the Third Reich:The fearful danger of the present time is that above the cry for authority…we forget that man stands alone before the ultimate authority and that anyone who lays violent hands on man here is infringing eternal laws and taking upon himself superhuman authority which will eventually crush him…The church has only one altar, the altar of the Almighty…before which all creatures must kneel. Whoever seeks something other than this must keep away; he cannot join us in the house of God…The church has only one pulpit, and from that pulpit, faith in God will be preached, and no other faith, and no other will than the will of God, however well-intentioned.Mere days after Hitler became chancellor, he began planning his takeover of Germany. His first step was to take over the government. The Nazi Party held a fraction of the seats in the Reichstag, but Hitler knew his opponents were divided and unable to unite against him. A few days after assuming the chancellorship, Hitler and the Nazis staged a burning of the Reichstag building and blamed it on the Communists. It was a perfect plan. Now, the German people, who were already in a desperate situation, would give up just about anything to preserve their nation. The next day, Hitler convinced President Hindenburg to sign the Reichstag Fire Edict. It decreed: “Restrictions on personal liberty, on the right of free expression of opinion, including freedom of the press; on the rights of assembly and association; and violations of the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications; and warrants for house searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed.” Within days, Nazi storm troopers were storming the streets, beating and arresting their political opponents. A month later, Hitler convinced the Reichstag to pass the Enabling Act, effectively abolishing its lawmaking power. In less than two months, Hitler had become a dictator.In April, Hitler’s merciless persecution of the Jews had begun with the boycotting of Jewish businesses. Bonhoeffer spoke up against these atrocities and urged leaders of the German Evangelical Church to reject the infiltration of Nazi philosophies. But his cries fell on deaf ears as most Germain Evangelical Churches capitulated to every single one of Hitler’s demands, including barring “non-Aryans” from becoming ministers and replacing the Bible with Mein Kampf, Hitler’s autobiographical manifesto. As a result, Bonhoeffer joined forces with another prominent Berlin pastor, Martin Neimoller, to form the Confessing Church. The Confessing Church held true to the doctrine that Jesus Christ was supreme over the Church, not Der Fuhrer.Later that year, Bonhoeffer took a bit of a sabbatical and accepted a two-year appointment to serve as the pastor of a German-speaking Protestant church in London. But he soon felt the call to return to his native Germany and returned to Berlin in 1935. By this time, Hitler’s persecution of the Confessing Church had begun. One leader had already been arrested, and another had fled to Switzerland. The next year, Bonhoeffer had his teaching credentials revoked upon being accused of being a pacifist and an enemy of the state.In 1937, Nazi occupation of Germany intensified. The SS shut down the seminary of the Confessing Church. As a result, Bonhoeffer began to travel throughout the country, leading private seminaries for his students. It was during this time that he wrote one of his most famous works, “The Cost of Discipleship.” In it, Bonhoeffer gives the following challenge:It is high time we broke with our theologically based restraint towards the state’s actions—which, after all, is only fear. ‘Speak out for those who cannot speak.’ Who in the church today realizes that this is the very least that the Bible requires of us? The restoration of the church must surely depend on a new kind of monasticism, which has nothing in common with the old but a life of uncompromising discipleship, following Christ according to the Sermon on the Mount. I believe the time has come to gather people together to do this.In June 1939, fearing he would be required to swear an oath to Hitler, Bonhoeffer fled to the United States. But, once again, he soon felt a call to return to his beleaguered country. After less than two years in the U.S., he returned to Germany.Upon returning to Germany, Bonhoeffer’s rights to speak and publish were revoked. He soon joined forces with the Abwehr, the German military intelligence agency. Within this agency, he found many military officers who were opposed to Hitler’s regime and learned of numerous assassination plots. During the next few years, Bonhoeffer actively worked undercover for the German resistance movement and helped smuggle Jews to neutral Switzerland.In April 1943, the Gestapo learned of Bonhoeffer’s involvement with the resistance and arrested him. He was confined to Tegel Military Prison for the next year and a half but was treated well compared to many other prisoners who were in concentration camps. Sympathetic guards helped to smuggle his writings out, including his magnum opus, Ethics. A few months before his arrest, we catch a glimpse of Bonhoeffer’s courage in his essay entitled “After Ten Years: A Reckoning Made at New Year 1943.” In it, he boldly declared the following:Who stands fast? Only the man whose final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, or his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all this when he is called to obedient and responsible action in faith and in exclusive allegiance to God—the responsible man, who tries to make his whole life an answer to the question and call of God.On July 20, 1944, the most famous attempt to assassinate Hitler—“Valkyrie”—failed when the Fuhrer escaped with only minor injuries. Coupled with the Allied victory at Normandy a month earlier, Hitler felt his grasp on power slipping and subsequently mounted a ruthless campaign to rid Germany of anyone working to undermine the Reich. As a result, Bonhoeffer’s involvement in other attempts to assassinate Hitler were uncovered. He was later transferred from Tegel prison to the Buchenwald concentration camp. Bonhoeffer spent the next eight months at Buchenwald. But rather than being overcome with despair at his misfortune, he continued to minister to his fellow prisoners through prayer and Bible studies.On Easter Sunday, April 7, 1945, Bonhoeffer was transferred to Flossenburg and given a court martial. The next morning, he was hung by his Nazi captors, likely ordered directly by the Fuhrer himself. Just before his execution, Bonhoeffer told his cellmate, “This is the end—for me the beginning of life.” The camp doctor who witnessed Bonhoeffer’s execution later wrote, “I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer … kneeling on the floor praying fervently to God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the few steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”A month later, the Allies liberated Germany and its concentration camps. Hitler committed suicide with his wife Eva Braun in their underground bunker. It was Victory in Europe Day. Four months later, World War II was over.Bonhoeffer did not fear death. In a sermon delivered in London in November 1933, he said: “No one has yet believed in God and the kingdom of God, no one has yet heard about the realm of the resurrected, and not been homesick from that hour, waiting and looking forward joyfully to being released from bodily existence…Death is hell and night and cold, if it is not transformed by our faith. But that is just what is so marvelous, that we can transform death.”II Timothy 3:12 (KJV) tells us that “all who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” As I have studied this passage recently, two distinct points have captured my attention. First, Paul writes of those who “will live godly.” I do not believe Paul is speaking here of a private faith, one that allows for a comfortable Christian life. No, Paul is referring to Christians who will take a stand for Christ, risking relationships, jobs, incarceration, or even death. Second, Paul writes of persecution at the end of the verse, not as a possibility but as a certainty for all who choose to take a public stand for Christ. It is not a question of “if” but “when.”Like Paul, Dietrich Bonhoeffer realized the weight of this verse and accepted it. Bonhoeffer knew the consequences that he, his family, his friends, and his colleagues might face if he chose to speak up against the Nazis. But his desire to speak truth against injustice was greater than his fear of the repercussions. In the end, he faced death as boldly as he had spoken out against the Nazis for the past 12 years. And while Bonhoeffer did pay the ultimate price for standing up for justice, his sacrifice and example live on. A month after his death, Germany and the Jewish people were liberated from Nazi oppression. Many today are still learning about his life, reading his works, and gaining inspiration.The day may be coming in the United States when Christians who dare to speak up will be persecuted for their faith. In fact, a number of Christian-owned businesses and ministries are already being targeted and harassed. And while I pray we never have to give our lives, we may face broken relationships, lost jobs, and even prison time. God has given each of us a choice. We can either cower to the demands of a tyrannical government or we can risk everything for the cause of the truth.May we all remember the remarkable life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the days, weeks, and years to come as we each are faced with similar decisions. And may we all be reminded that no matter what persecution we face, it is only temporary compared to an eternity in Heaven: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NKJV).
Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Equality Act, legislation that supporters say is necessary to protect those who identify as LGBT from unjust discrimination in employment, housing, education, and other areas of American life. The bill passed by a 224-206 vote; only three Republicans joined Democrats to support it (down from eight who voted for it in 2019).While some praised the passing of the bill in the House as a step toward ending discrimination, a careful analysis of the bill reveals that the Equality Act would codify into law the most extreme demands of the moral revolution while stigmatizing anyone who dares to dissent from the new orthodoxy.On paper, the Equality Act proposes almost 60 amendments to nearly 10 different laws including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Civil Rights Act of 1968, and the Fair Housing Act. While eradicating discrimination is a commendable goal, it is clear the Equality Act will do nothing to end discrimination. In fact, if enacted into law, the bill will accelerate discrimination against tens of millions of Americans whose beliefs on marriage and human sexuality are informed by science and religious convictions.While the implications of a bill as expansive as the Equality Act are difficult to calculate, the most immediate effects are clear. For starters, the Equality Act would dramatically expand abortion access, remove religious liberty protections, virtually end women’s and girls’ sports, and threaten Christian seminaries, universities, and colleges.On the issue of human life, the Equality Act effectively creates a legislative right to abortion. It does this primarily via changes to Title II of the Civil Rights Act regarding “Public Accommodations.” Health care would be added as a “public accommodation” and “sex” would be added as a protected class. “Sex” is redefined to include “pregnancy… or a related medical condition.” Courts have ruled that “related medical condition” includes abortion. Further, the Equality Act has no conscience protections for health care providers who morally oppose abortion or restriction on taxpayers funding of abortion.The Equality Act also severely undermines religious liberty. First, by expanding the definition of a public accommodation to include any establishment that provides goods, services, or programs to their communities, churches that operate food banks, homeless shelters, and the like, could be compelled to comply with the Equality Act’s requirements in how they run these programs. They would no longer be allowed to have sex-segregated services and programs or private facilities when operating these services and programs. While ministerial exemptions will continue (for now) to protect churches from hiring clergy who openly identify as homosexual, churches could be required to hire people for non-ministerial positions who do not agree with the church’s beliefs on marriage and sexuality. Second, the Equality Act explicitly exempts itself from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which passed unanimously in the House and 97-3 in the Senate before President Bill Clinton signed it into law in 1993. If a religious individual believes the Equality Act has violated their beliefs, RFRA is no longer a claim they can bring in court; if they are sued for non-compliance, RFRA is not a defense they can raise.Third, the Equality Act virtually ends women’s and girls’ sports. Already, biological male athletes are winning athletic competitions against biological females in places like Connecticut that allow athletes to compete based on their gender identify. For example, since 2017, two biological male runners in Connecticut have won a combined 15 girls state indoor or outdoor championship races. By redefining “sex” to include the contested category of gender identity, competitions reserved for women and girls would have to admit biological males who identify as female. Not only is this unfair to the tens of thousands of female athletes who have little to no chance of beating male athletes, it is also unsafe in high contact sports because biological males are naturally faster and stronger. Therefore, another consequence of the Equality Act is erasing scholarship and recruitment opportunities for female athletes.Women’s safety and privacy are also sacrificed on the altar of political correctness by requiring the admittance of biological males who identify as female into bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, and changing facilities reserved for biological females.Additionally, if enacted into law, the Equality Act would threaten the existence of Christian seminaries, universities, and colleges that receive any form of federal financial assistance, potentially including federal loans which many students use to pay tuition. By amending Title IV of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, a “catch all” non-discrimination provision on all federal funds, the Equality Act would require schools that receive federal funding to comply with its sexual orientation/gender identity (SOGI) requirements, including admissions and housing standards. The financial impact of this would be devastating for Christian colleges and many would be forced to shut down.Given its House passage, the bill now moves to the U.S. Senate, where Democrats also have control. It is alarming that a bill which denies the reality of womanhood, expands abortion, and guts religious liberty is this close to becoming law. But hope is not lost—Senate passage is not a foregone conclusion, and Americans should mobilize to ensure it is defeated. Family Research Council has resources that people can use to educate themselves and others about the bill. Additionally, people can contact their senators and inform them of their opposition to the Equality Act.As those who believe that all people are made in God’s image and possess inherent value and dignity, Christians should oppose discrimination. But despite its clever name, the Equality Act does nothing to advance equality or stymie discrimination. Instead, the legislation would mandate conformity to an ideology antithetical to core tenets of the Christian worldview and codify a host of harmful social policies (detailed above) that touch on nearly every facet of life. Therefore, it should be opposed vigorously.
In the early morning hours of Friday, February 26, CNN reported that hundreds of female students had been kidnapped overnight from their boarding school in Nigeria. “They came on about 20 motorcycles and they marched the abducted girls into the forest,” a source told CNN. “The bandits arrived around 1.45 a.m. and they operated 'til about 3 a.m.”This outrageous assault took place less than a week following the 3-year anniversary of the abduction of well-known Nigerian kidnapping victim, Leah Sharibu. In a similar invasion, on February 19, 2018, Leah’s school had been attacked, and she and her classmates were abducted by Boko Haram terrorists.So now several hundred more schoolgirls have been taken captive. “Security forces and a local defense group have commenced a search…” reports HumAngle. The girls were “abducted by a terror group in the early hours of Friday from their school in Jengebe, Zamfara State, Northwest Nigeria. The schoolgirls were abducted when the terror group stormed the Government Girls Secondary School…and subsequently moved the students.” At what price freedom?Since those initial reports, conflicting accounts from Nigerian news sources claim that the Zamfara girls have, in fact, been freed. Some even say there is video of their release.But if, in fact, the girls are free, the Nigerian government has remained evasively silent about the terms of the release or the identity of the kidnappers. Jihadi activity was not initially indicated as an element in the schoolgirls’ abduction. Yet according to some observers, these widespread kidnappings represent cooperation between Boko Haram and Fulani radicals who may, in turn, have influence over the Nigerian government.In fact, the Sultan of Sokoto has publicly linked Boko Haram to the widespread school kidnappings. “Make no mistake,” he recently said, “the abduction is a classic example of the philosophical foundation of Boko Haram—that western education is forbidden. That’s why their targets are always on boarding schools, especially science schools, considered atheistic in pedagogy.” Boko Haram’s kidnapping of Leah Sharibu and her classmates horrifically demonstrated Boko Haram’s radical Islamist agenda. Her classmates, who were released, were Muslim girls. She, alone, refused to deny her Christian faith and has remained enslaved for three years. Leah has reportedly given birth to the child of one of her captors.Anti-Christian attacks on Nigeria’s schools, villages, churches and clergy are distressingly commonplace. According to a recently updated Family Research Council report, since 2015, over 12,000 Christians have been killed in Nigeria. Countless more believers have been gravely injured, displaced, kidnapped or have simply disappeared. Priests and pastors are often targeted for abduction, and over the years more than a few have been murdered – some by beheading. As for the Zamfara school, it not yet known how many Christian girls were among those taken captive. But on Sunday, Pope Francis joined the Bishops of Nigeria in appealing for the release of the recently abducted students.Death Threats to a Christian Pastor Meanwhile, in a related and tragic story of religiously-based kidnapping, on February 25, Christian Pastor Bulus Yakuru, who was seized during a Christmas Eve attack, stated he will be executed within a week if President Muhammadu Buhari does not meet Boko Haram’s demands for his release. In a new video, Pastor Yakuru identified himself and pleaded with Nigeria’s President, Borno State Governor and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the umbrella body of Christians in the country, to intervene and secure his release. During the attack in which Pastor Yakuru was taken, “At least seven people were killed when Boko Haram insurgents attacked the village of Pemi in Borno State on Dec. 24, 2020.” Pemi is located approximately 20 kilometers from Chibok, where Boko Haram abducted hundreds of schoolgirls.It is true that escalating violence in Nigeria is widespread and banditry is rampant across the country. However, in the case of anti-Christian attacks – like those in which Leah Sharibu and Pastor Bulus Yakuru were seized and held captive – there is far more than banditry involved.USCIRF has explained, “In December 2020, the U.S. Department of State designated Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for the first time ever due to systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom. Violent attacks by Boko Haram and ethno-religious conflicts have become more frequent, and are exacerbated by the judiciary system.” Meanwhile, Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List has placed Nigeria as the world’s 9th worst persecutor of Christians.With all this in mind, let’s especially remember Leah Sharibu and Pastor Bulus Yakuru in our prayers. And may God protect the tormented people of Nigeria from violent attacks that grow more deadly with every passing day.
Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:1. Update: Amazon Censorship Leaves a Plot to Be DesiredRyan Anderson didn’t even know his book had been pulled. There was no warning, no notification from Amazon that the title had been removed. A reader tipped him off when he tried to buy a copy and couldn’t. And, sure enough, when Ryan logged-in to Amazon, his bright blue and pink book cover, When Harry Became Sally, had been taken down.2. Update: SCOTUS Fails to Blaze a Trial on Election Reform“Befuddling.” “Inexplicable.” “Baffling.” Those are just three of the words Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas used to describe his colleagues’ latest response to the 2020 election. After three months of mixed signals, the justices finally turned down a case that had most conservatives holding their breaths—a lawsuit against Pennsylvania’s expanded mail-in balloting order.3. Blog: Thinking Biblically About SafetyAs we approach the one-year anniversary of “15 days to flatten the curve,” the coronavirus continues to dominate the news and many people’s emotions. In many states, most public schools remain closed. It took a Supreme Court case for California churches to be allowed to meet indoors again, though many churches had been doing it anyway with the fines to prove it.4. Blog: Biden’s Cabinet (Part 3): Jennifer Granholm’s Radical Worldview and Abortion PoliciesThis is Part 3 of a blog series examining the records of President Biden’s Cabinet picks on abortion and family issues. Read Part 3 on Jennifer Granholm, who is nominated to lead the U.S. Department of Energy. She would have a major influence on environmental policies and would be responsible for enacting Biden’s climate change policies.5. Washington Watch: Sen. James Lankford is Baffled by Biden’s Nomination of a Radical HHS Boss with No Health ExperienceJames Lankford, U.S. Senator from Oklahoma, joined Tony Perkins on the radio to discuss the reintroduction of his Conscience Protection Act, and grave concerns over Xavier Becerra, President Biden’s nominee for U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.6. Washington Watch: Andrew Torba Explains How Being Canceled Helped Him Blaze a Trail for Gab’s Free Speech PlatformAndrew Torba, CEO of Gab, joined Tony Perkins on Washington Watch to discuss how Big Tech censorship is driving many conservatives to join Gab.7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: Grace Under FireOn this edition of Pray Vote Stand, Tony Perkins, Dr. Ben Carson, and Pastor Mike McClure discussed how we should respond when our freedoms are threatened and culture grows increasingly hostile to followers of Jesus.
On the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, President Biden reaffirmed his desire to codify Roe into federal law, reflecting the Democratic Party’s fear that Roe is nearing its end.While the Supreme Court has yet to add an abortion case to its docket, the number of pending cases challenging key provisions in Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (which affirmed the central holding of Roe, that a woman has a constitutional right to abortion) continues to grow. In light of Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination, legal, and legislative trends support a future reversal. This is due, in part, to Roe’s inherent legal inconsistencies. Not only did Justice Blackmun contradict himself in his majority opinion in Roe, new bodies of criminal law are incompatible with Roe’s foundational assumptions.Former Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg herself criticized Roe’s rationale, stating that it “went beyond the extreme ruling of the statute before the court.” Abortion advocates similarly recognize Roe’s critical flaws, mainly a lack of reasonable inference from a constitutionally enumerated right.The contradiction within the Court’s rational is another reason to reevaluate its holding. First, it rejected the existence of an absolute right to privacy, then nine pages later made that right absolute in the first trimester of pregnancy. Two interests were at issue, the mother’s privacy interest and the state’s interest in protecting unborn persons. The Court should have ended the analysis there recognizing the compelling interest in protecting unborn persons.The inconsistency of legal personhood is highlighted in criminal feticide laws. This is yet another indicator of its inherent incongruity. Unborn children are recognized as humans in other situations outside of abortion. For example, in 1984, the Massachusetts Supreme Court recognized unborn persons in vehicular homicide cases. Since then, 38 states have passed laws recognizing unborn victim status. Federal lawmakers followed suit, passing the 2004 Unborn Victims of Violence Act. Legal scholars recognize the dilemma this legal trend poses. How can courts grant the unborn personhood in criminal law while refusing it in the context of legal abortions?Lawsuits in response to the 2020 presidential election, civil unrest, and the Covid-19 pandemic have captured the Supreme Court’s attention for the moment, but the abortion issue will soon have its day in court. If the Court with three new justices corrects the legal inconsistencies in its previous holding, the abortion issue will likely return to the 50 state legislatures, allowing states like Alabama to reinstitute significant protections for the unborn. So long as Congress refrains from packing the Court, it will likely not be a matter of if Roe will be overturned, but when.David K. is an intern at FRC Action.
Last Friday, Planned Parenthood published their annual report. The front cover of the report reads, "No Matter What." Though the later message from leadership references Planned Parenthood unveiling a new tag line: "Care, no matter what," it seems a better tag line for the organization would be "Profits, no matter what." The annual report makes it clear that Planned Parenthood neither cares for nor about people. Planned Parenthood simply cares about profits.In their report, which FRC has made a detailed analysis of, Planned Parenthood highlighted that during the 2019-2020 fiscal year, they committed 354,871 abortions. This means that Planned Parenthood aborted 972 babies every single day in 2019. This is the highest number of abortions Planned Parenthood has ever committed in a year.According to a November 2020 CDC report, 619,691 abortions were reported to the CDC in 2018. In 2018, Planned Parenthood committed 345,672 abortions—which is 56 percent of all abortions reported to the federal government. Based on Planned Parenthood's yearly increase in the number of abortions they commit and the decrease in the number of abortions committed nationally, Planned Parenthood is becoming more and more of an abortion monopoly.Incidentally, this seems to be completely in line with Planned Parenthood's goals. Over the past 10 years, the number of abortions committed by Planned Parenthood has increased by 7.7 percent. During that same time period, cancer screenings decreased by 68 percent, breast exams decreased by 68 percent, and prenatal services decreased by 80 percent. In September 2018, Dr. Leana Wen was hired as president of Planned Parenthood. In 2019, Dr. Leana Wen was fired. In her statement detailing the reasons for her departure, she noted, "Indeed, there was immediate criticism that I did not prioritize abortion enough...I began efforts to increase care for women before, during and after pregnancies...but the team I brought in...faced daily internal opposition from those who saw my goals as mission creep."Dr. Leana Wen was fired for challenging Planned Parenthood's efforts to grow ONLY their abortion business. Since her firing, Planned Parenthood's annual report demonstrates that they have doubled down in their commitment to making abortion their only service—with one glaring exception.The Planned Parenthood annual report also showed that in 2019, there were over 200 Planned Parenthood facilities in 31 states providing services for patients who identify as transgender. As it turns out, Planned Parenthood is the second largest provider of cross-sex hormones. In an interview with Abigail Shrier, a former Planned Parenthood employee described Planned Parenthood prescribing hormones to young clients with almost no examination of their underlying problems and practically no medical oversight.Planned Parenthood's foray into providing cross-sex hormones is not shocking. For years, this organization has rejected basic truths about human beings, putting profits over people daily. During the 100 years of their existence, Planned Parenthood has denied the humanity and the right to life of the unborn child. Now, Planned Parenthood is denying the reality that XX chromosomes make a person a girl and XY chromosomes make a person a boy.While Planned Parenthood acknowledges that transitioning from a girl to a boy can be dangerous, they argue that "expert care is needed to avoid problems," and position themselves as the ones able to provide "expert care." Their statement completely ignores the reality that taking hormones in an effort to transition comes with serious dangers, including: interference with brain development; inhibition of normal bone-density development; and sterilization. Planned Parenthood's indifference to the truth that cross-sex hormones can leave a person incapable of having children is completely in line with their racist, eugenicist founder Margaret Sanger's words: "But for my view, I believe that there should be no more babies."Planned Parenthood's annual report demonstrates that their mission has not changed since their founding. Let's pray for everyone involved in the organization to have a Saul-like conversion and for next year's report to tell a different story.
On “Worldview Wednesday,” we will feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read Part 1: Thinking Biblically About UnityAs we approach the one-year anniversary of “15 days to flatten the curve,” the coronavirus continues to dominate the news and many people’s emotions. In many states, most public schools remain closed. It took a Supreme Court case for California churches to be allowed to meet indoors again, though many churches had been doing it anyway with the fines to prove it.The different responses to the coronavirus aren’t simply a function of different local laws. Within the church, there are varying degrees of caution. This is attributable in part to the fact that the coronavirus poses a greater risk to some (the elderly, immunocompromised, etc.), than to others. But beyond that, some Christians are more afraid than others. What happens if I get it? What happens if I die? What happens if I get it and then pass it to someone else?For Christians, these questions call us to consider how God wants us to think about safety.Scripture shows us that God blesses His people with safety and security (Deut. 12:10; Jer. 32:38) and Paul even prayed for safety (Romans 15:30-31). After all his shipwrecks, beatings, stonings, and imprisonments (2 Corinthians 11:25), who can blame him?The fact that Paul experienced those things despite his obedience to God and his prayers for safety illustrates an important truth. As with health, safety is a blessing that at times God grants, but it is not a guarantee and should not be an expectation. Jesus promised us that things will be hard: “In this world you will have trouble, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).Of course, this doesn’t mean that God wants us to live recklessly. Jesus spoke of carrying a sword for protection (Luke 22:36) and Paul was kept safe on several occasions by his friends (Acts 9:25, 17:10, 19:30) and once by a Roman commander (Acts 23:10). The book of Proverbs includes wisdom to avoid trouble and make life easier. But any conversation about safety must happen in context. Safety is good, but it is not the greatest good. In fact, more than God wants us to be safe, He wants us to be steadfast in the trials we are promised (James 1:12).Depending on your English translation of the Bible, the command “do not fear” appears over 70 times. There are no examples of God commanding us to be safe.Scripture is filled with examples of people forsaking their physical safety to pursue God’s purpose for their life. Moses risked his life by identifying with the Hebrews rather than the Egyptians (Hebrews 11:24-27). Esther risked her life when she appeared before the Persian king and pleaded for the lives of her people. In the face of danger, she asked her friends to fast and pray for her, noting, “If I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). She had more important goals than simply surviving.Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego preferred what seemed like certain death in the fiery furnace over the alternative of compromising their faith (Daniel 3). Their safety took a backseat to their loyalty and devotion to God.Death is not only possible, it’s inevitable. But for the Christian, it’s also a promotion. As the apostle Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). Moreover, as Paul explained to the Christians in Corinth, even the sufferings of our earthly pilgrimage—as terrible as they might be—are “light and momentary” compared to the “eternal weight of glory” that awaits believers (1 Cor. 4:17). Paul does not trivialize our hardships, but he does reframe them in light of eternity.When God does encourage us to be cautious, its typically about the most important things. We should be careful about what we see (Luke 11:33-36) and careful to obey all that God has commanded us. (Deut 8:1).At all times, our spiritual health should be of greater concern than our physical health. This was Jesus’ point when he said “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).As we examine our decisions, we should ensure that we aren’t valuing our safety more than God does. If He grants us safety, we should be grateful. If He grants us peril and sickness and death, we should still be grateful. If our pursuit of safety is preventing us from doing what God created us to do, we may be attributing to wisdom what belongs to fear. As we approach the one-year anniversary of “two weeks to flatten the curve,” let’s make sure that our concerns about a virus haven’t prevented us from being who God created us to be.If Jesus’s willingness to leave the safety of heaven on our behalf isn’t inspiration enough, maybe Jim Elliott, who gave his life on the mission field of Ecuador will help. Elliott famously exhorted, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”“Lo, I am with you always. Even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
This is Part 3 of a blog series examining the records of President Biden’s Cabinet picks on abortion and family issues. Read Part 1 on Antony Blinken and Part 2 on Xavier Becerra.Jennifer Granholm, who served as the Governor of Michigan from 2003-2011, is back in the national spotlight as President Joe Biden has nominated her to lead the U.S. Department of Energy. The Energy Department is tasked with overseeing America’s energy supply and carrying out environmental clean-ups. As the Secretary of the department, she would have a major influence on environmental policies, and would be responsible for enacting Biden’s climate change policies.Why should American Christians care about Jennifer Granholm’s nomination to lead the Department of Energy? When there are so many pressing issues that demand our attention, does the Department of Energy—and the one leading the department—really require sustained thought and reflection? In short, the answer is “yes.”On the issue of the environment and creation care, David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview explained, “Christians should care about the environment because it reflects the glory of God.” But he also cautions that Christians should not become “subservient to the created order.” Christians are called to exercise stewardship over the created world and should oppose efforts to exploit it. While the Bible is clear that the created world primarily exists to bring glory to God, it also exists to serve man’s needs. An unbiblical line is crossed when nature is defied or elevated in importance over people who are made in God’s image.Unfortunately, in comments made during Granholm’s nomination hearing, it appears Biden’s nominee will pursue energy and environmental policies that prioritize politics over people. Several times during the hearing, she dodged questions about the economic impact of her new green policies and how many jobs might be lost due to them. Moreover, it is difficult to believe that Granholm, who has claimed to be Catholic, will hold to biblical principles on her environmental policy given her radical positions on other issues, such as abortion.It should be concerning to Christians everywhere that the nominee to lead the Department of Energy would care so much about saving the planet for future generations, and simultaneously promote a pro-abortion agenda that directly harms future generations in the womb. Granholm considers herself a champion for abortion, showing hostility toward the lives of the unborn. For example, in a 2012 op-ed, Granholm smeared pro-life measures as a “war on women,” perpetrated by “white male legislatures” to enforce their power on women. During an interview that same year, she claimed that the pro-life movement was allegedly seeking to degrade women by assuming they are unable to make decisions for themselves.Granholm’s pro-abortion ideology marked her tenure as Michigan’s governor. On two separate occasions, she vetoed a Partial Birth Abortion Ban—which protects babies that are near birth from being killed while being born. This same ban was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007. She negotiated with the Michigan legislature to loosen restrictions on abortions, preventing a bill that would require an ultrasound prior to receiving an abortion. In her second term as governor, she advocated for a ballot provision that would allow aborted fetal stem cell research in Michigan. Unfortunately, Emily’s List, the pro-abortion group that recruits abortion-friendly candidates, got exactly what they wanted when they endorsed her for governor.Environmental policy has become entangled with protecting the unborn due to recent comments from prominent members of the Democratic Party. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) claimed that funding abortions helps to reduce the world’s population, thereby helping fight climate change. In addition, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) alluded to a similar idea, describing what she viewed as the “disaster” our planet will be in without eliminating the effects of climate change. Along these lines, she claimed that millennials should legitimately question if it is still acceptable to have children. Unfortunately, this type of thinking is becoming mainstream in progressive circles, as high profile figures suggest that abortion is a necessary means to prevent overpopulation.One’s worldview, whether biblical or not, will be revealed in the way they live their life. In the case of Granholm, how she leads, the decisions she makes, and the orders she implements as the head of an executive agency will reveal her worldview. The Bible calls for all of us to care for the world that God has created and to be stewards of the environment and our neighbors (Gen. 1:28 and 1 Peter 4:10). The disconnect is when leaders such as Granholm go too far in one direction, and care for the planet but not neighbor, in this case the unborn. It is crucial to have officials who are concerned about caring for the planet and the lives of the next generation—not just one or the other. As the Secretary of Energy, Granholm would have a platform to enact liberal policies that are purported to protect the environment. If confirmed, she will hopefully hold to a biblical worldview in all areas of public policy and become a steward that protects and cares for the environment and the unborn.Joseph Norris is a Policy and Government Affairs intern focusing on pro-life federal affairs.Molly Carman is a Research Assistant for Worldview and Ethics.
This blog is Part 1 of an International Religious Freedom 101 series providing an overview of religious freedom challenges in countries around the world.David Byle had lived in Turkey for 19 years, boldly and consistently sharing the gospel in Istanbul while raising his children and building a life there. Now, authorities have forced the Canadian-American pastor to leave.Byle first noticed a marked increase in harassment by local police in 2007. The government tried to deport him in 2016, but he challenged the decision in court and was allowed to remain. Then, in October 2018, authorities instructed him to leave within 15 days, calling him a security threat and permanently banning him from the country.“Whenever we spoke in public, people were excited to listen and learn. For a long time, we were successfully able to fight the government attempts to stop our ministry, because we were only making use of our right to religious freedom, protected by the Turkish constitution. The government did not want us in Turkey, but plenty of people do. God called us there, [H]e wants the Turkish people to hear about Him and to know that He is doing wonderful things,” Byle told ADF International.The Turkish government’s increasing pressure on Christians has made its religious freedom violations more obvious. At the end of January, ADF International filed an application on Byle’s behalf with the European Court of Human Rights. This legal recourse is a long shot, but many Turkish Christians do not even have that.Rise of Religious NationalismThe backdrop of Turkey’s religious freedom violations is an increasingly hostile political scene. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has become bold in pronouncing his dream of a neo-Ottoman state, growing aggressive with dissidents at home and assertive in the region. This has consequences for many people in Turkey and throughout the Middle East, including Christians, Kurds, and other minorities.In 2020, much of the Christian world expressed outrage over Erdogan’s plans to convert the ancient Hagia Sophia cathedral into a mosque. Ottoman conquerors had previously converted the church into a mosque once before, after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Erdogan declared, “Hagia Sophia became a mosque again, after eighty-six years, in the way Fatih the conqueror of Istanbul had wanted it to be.” This harkening back to the time of Ottoman sultan Fatih Sultan¿Mehmet (known as Mehmed the Conqueror) paints a picture of a renewed conquering Turkish state.The beginning of 2021 has seen an increase in religious freedom violations concerning historic Turkish churches, according to International Christian Concern. Violations committed by the government include turning old churches into museums and destroying old churches despite their historic designations.The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has increased the Turkish government’s authoritarianism and Islamization of institutions. Erdogan’s power was further consolidated after a 2016 coup attempt that provided the government with an excuse to crack down on perceived opponents. Andrew Brunson, an American pastor of a small Turkish church and a resident of Turkey for 23 years, was caught up in this crackdown. In 2016, Pastor Brunson was imprisoned and then placed under house arrest for a total of two years on false national security charges in the wake of the coup attempt. He was released following pressure from the U.S. government.Legal Pressure on Foreign ChristiansOver 98 percent of Turkey is Muslim, while Christians comprise less than one percent of the population. This tiny Christian minority faces very high government restrictions and high social hostilities, according to Pew Research reports.The U.S. State Department’s 2019 international religious freedom report found that “Multiple monitoring organizations and media outlets... reported entry bans, denial of residency permit extensions, and deportations for long-time residents affiliated with Protestant churches in the country.” Most training for Protestant leaders in Turkey is conducted by foreign workers on long-term residence visas. Restrictions on foreign nationals participating in ministry are a direct attack on Protestant churches’ existence and growth in Turkey.American Christian Joy Subasiguller has lived in Turkey for the past 10 years. Her husband, Lutfu, is the pastor of a small Turkish church, while Joy is a stay-at-home mom with their three young children. All of that was suddenly threatened when Turkey’s Ministry of the Interior revoked Joy’s residency permit without warning or explanation. The Subasigullers have appealed the decision, but appeals in similar situations are typically rejected by the government.Joy, like David Byle, will most likely be forced to leave. If the family wishes to remain together, they must all go together. For their children, that means leaving the only home they know. For Turkey, it means one less Christian minister. “Turkey is my home. I love Turkey and the Turkish people very much,” Joy said. “My family has very strong ties with Turkish friends here and especially with Lutfu’s family, who would be devastated if we had to permanently relocate to another country.”Concerns for the Future in the Middle EastTurkey’s recent military involvement in the region, including conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh, Northeast Syria, and Northern Iraq, demonstrate Turkey’s assertiveness in the region and eagerness to expand its influence in the Middle East, often to the detriment of minority communities.Family Research Council closely followed the situation in Northeast Syria in the Fall of 2019, when Turkey sent forces to occupy land across its border governed by a Kurdish administration that had allowed religious freedom to flourish for the diverse groups living there. The invasion resulted in hundreds of thousands of people fleeing, including Christian communities. Many of the displaced people have yet to return. As Turkey continues expressing this interventionist bent, its meddling in Middle Eastern affairs is bad news for religious minorities.Turkey increasingly presents challenges to religious freedom within its borders and across the region. Western countries should take note of the changes happening under Erdogan’s leadership. If left unchecked, the religious freedom violations occurring in Turkey will not be confined to that country alone.
This is Part 2 of a blog series examining the records of President Biden’s Cabinet picks on abortion and family issues. Read Part 1 on Antony Blinken.During his inaugural address, President Joe Biden spoke repeatedly about the need for national unity. “With unity we can do great things. Important things,” he declared, adding, “For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury.”While these inaugural platitudes about unity and healing were rhetorically effective, the new president has wasted little time in delivering on divisive campaign promises. These include reinstating President Obama’s transgender military policy, ordering federal agencies to redefine “sex” in their sex discrimination policies to include sexual orientation and gender identity, and repealing the Mexico City Policy that prohibited taxpayer money from funding overseas abortions. These policy changes, enacted unilaterally by executive order, offer little comfort to Americans who hoped the new administration would focus less on the culture wars and more on combating the coronavirus, re-opening America’s economy, and protecting the country from external threats.Unfortunately, Biden’s nomination of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is another example of why uniformity—not unity—seems to be the goal of the Biden administration.HHS is one of 15 executive departments within the federal government. Although not the largest department in terms of personnel, it has the largest budget—over $1.3 trillion annually (compare that with the Department of Defense’s $721.5 billion budget in 2020). As the department tasked with overseeing health services, HHS has jurisdiction over nearly every aspect of federal policy concerning abortion. Because of Becerra’s record on abortion, his nomination to lead HHS is deeply troubling.Concerns related to Becerra’s record on abortion are well-founded. During his 24 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Becerra proved to be one of the abortion lobby’s most reliable voters. For example, in 2003, he voted against prohibiting the gruesome practice of partial-birth abortion. In 2005, Becerra voted against making the harming or killing of an unborn child during the committing of a violent crime a criminal offense. Becerra also voted for taxpayer funding of human embryonic stem cell experimentation in 2006 and against redirecting said money to more ethical lines of research. More recently, he voted against imposing civil and criminal penalties on anyone who knowingly attempted to commit an abortion on the basis of the sex or race of the unborn child or the race of a parent.Becerra continued his work to advance abortion when he became California’s attorney general in 2017. Since taking office, he has filed numerous lawsuits seeking to overturn pro-life laws in other states, including Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Ohio. In 2019, Becerra sued the Trump administration over an HHS rule that blocked millions of dollars to abortion businesses who refused to separate their abortion business from family planning services. In 2019, he sued the Little Sisters of the Poor, insisting that the nuns should be forced to pay for abortifacients and contraception against their religious convictions. As attorney general, Becerra defended a California law that required pro-life pregnancy care centers to provide information to their patients on how to obtain state-funded abortions. The case, NIFLA v. Becerra, went to the Supreme Court, which struck down the law as unconstitutional in 2018. Justice Thomas, who wrote the majority’s opinion, noted that the California law defended by Becerra imposed an undue burden on the First Amendment rights of pro-life clinics and doctors. Becerra also defended California’s abortion coverage mandate that was in direct violation the Weldon Amendment. HHS notified California in January 2020 that its mandate was in violation of federal law. Instead of working with HHS to remedy the issue, Becerra doubled down, telling the Trump administration that they were impeding California’s ability to support women’s right to “reproductive freedom.”Finally, Becerra continued what his predecessor, Kamala Harris, started by continuing the investigation into pro-life journalists who had exposed Planned Parenthood’s role in selling baby body parts. In 2015, David Daleiden released a series of videos showing Planned Parenthood executives discussing fees for human fetal tissue and organs. Rather than pursue Planned Parenthood—which endorsed Becerra in 2017 when he ran for attorney general—Becerra harassed and investigated Daleiden. Actions like this demonstrate Becerra’s proven record of shaping the law to fit his ideology. Instead of doing a substantive investigation into the evidence that Planned Parenthood violated federal law, he directly targeted Daleiden because his videos revealed unsavory truths about the abortion industry.In short, Becerra’s record is known and well documented. Thus, while Joe Biden has preached a message of unity and told his supporters that they shouldn’t treat political opponents as enemies, the nomination of an abortion hardliner like Xavier Becerra sends a clear message: a Biden administration will not be moderate on abortion.Nominating Becerra, a politician with little experience concerning matters related to public health, to lead the federal agency tasked with public health amid a global pandemic prioritizes political and ideological commitments over public safety. It signals Biden’s readiness to reverse President Trump’s pro-life policies. It also reveals tone-deafness to the tens of millions of Americans who just elected the most pro-life women to Congress in history.Elections have consequences, and Americans should not be surprised that the most pro-abortion candidate in American history is nominating ideologues committed to promoting abortion. But if there was ever a time to draw a line in the sand over a nomination, this is the nominee, and this is the time. Becerra’s nomination is currently pending before the U.S. Senate, and senators committed to protecting the unborn should do everything in their power to oppose and block his nomination. Incoming presidents generally deserve deference when it comes to assembling their cabinet. However, Xavier Becerra’s extreme positions and advocacy for abortion rights are disqualifying when it comes to leading the department tasked with protecting America’s health.
Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:1. Update: With Cuomo, Democrats Are Fleeing a Sinking ShipNew York was America’s first and deadliest hotspot of the coronavirus pandemic, driven in large part by poor policymaking from the very top—Governor Cuomo. He forced nursing homes to accept Covid-positive patients who were discharged from hospitals, placing New York’s most vulnerable citizens at the greatest risk of exposure.2. Update: Impeachment: A Saga Put to Rest, or a Slumbering Beast Awoken?It certainly feels as though impeachment has eaten up America’s time, attention, and energy over the past weeks. With the Senate acquitting President Trump on the charge of “inciting” the mob who stormed the U.S. Capitol, many may be asking whether the era of impeachment is over. Others may be asking whether impeachment as a political weapon is only just being awoken.3. Blog: Connecticut Seeks to Stifle the Voice of Pregnancy Resource CentersLast week, the Connecticut State Senate considered a bill that is a clear violation of the First Amendment rights of pregnancy resource centers. This bill makes it harder for women who are unexpectedly pregnant to know what their choices are, and it places the state in the position of promoting abortion over childbirth.4. Blog: Leah Sharibu: Held Captive 3 Years for Her Christian FaithFebruary 19, 2021, marks a grim third anniversary for a young Nigerian Christian named Leah Sharibu. In a horrifying terrorist attack in 2018, 14-year-old Leah was among more than 100 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists. Nearly all the surviving girls were freed by their captors on March 21. One girl, however, was left behind—Leah Sharibu.5. Washington Watch: Gordon Chang Warns About the Serious Implications of Biden’s Pro-China PoliciesGordon Chang, the author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War, joined Tony Perkins on the radio to share about the serious implications of Biden’s pro-China policies.6. Washington Watch: Abigail Shrier Goes Inside Planned Parenthood’s Dangerous Gender Hormone Program for TeensAbigail Shrier, the author of Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters, joined Tony Perkins to discuss her article, “Inside Planned Parenthood’s Gender Factory” where she goes inside Planned Parenthood’s dangerous gender hormone program for teens.7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: Prayer for Winter Weather CrisesAs millions of Americans have been facing winter weather crises, Tony Perkins, Sen. James Lankford, and Pastor Roy Smith joined together for a special time of prayer for those affected by the storms and for those tasked with restoring power to our communities.
Today, February 19, 2021, marks a grim third anniversary for a young Nigerian Christian named Leah Sharibu.In a horrifying terrorist attack on February 19, 2018, 14-year-old Leah was among more than 100 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists. Their abduction took place at 5:30 in the afternoon, when the girls were unexpectedly seized at Dapchi Girls’ Science and Technical College.During the incident, four or five girls died in the back of a truck as they were violently transported to Boko Haram’s encampment. Thankfully, following a month of horrific captivity, and after enduring death threats and unspeakable abuses, nearly all the surviving girls were freed by their captors on March 21.One girl, however, was left behind—Leah Sharibu.Before long, it become clear that she had not returned home for one simple reason: The other girls were all Muslim. And Leah had refused to renounce her Christian faith.In August 2018, The Cable, a Nigerian news source, obtained a recording of Leah, begging President Muhammadu Buhari to rescue her and reunite her with her family: “I am Leah Sharibu, the girl that was abducted in GGSS Dapchi. I am calling on the government and people of goodwill to intervene to get me out of my current situation.”Leah’s appeal fell on deaf ears; no intervention took place.Later, when she heard that her classmates were being set free, Leah asked one of them to carry a note to her mother, Rebecca Sharibu. “My mother you should not be disturbed,” she wrote. “I know it is not easy missing me, but I want to assure you that I am fine where I am… I am confident that one day I shall see your face again. If not here, then there at the bosom of our Lord Jesus Christ.”Her mother later said, “She did an amazing thing by refusing to renounce Christ, and I’m very proud of what she has done. I’m not sure if I was even in her position at 14 years old that I would have even done what she has done.”In the summer of 2019, I met Rebecca Sharibu in Washington, D.C. She had come to seek help from the United States, and her heartache was evident on her weary and sorrowful face. When I asked her what she had most recently heard about her daughter, she said, “We don’t even know where Leah is,” her friend translated. “We have not seen her. We have not heard from her. I have no idea.”Around six months later, on January 26, 2020, The Cable again reported about Leah, this time claiming that she had been “impregnated by one of the commanders of the sect, and she was delivered of a baby four days ago.” It was impossible to confirm the story, although it implied that Leah was probably still alive.Today, there is no further news about Leah Sharibu. But Nigeria’s abuses of religious freedom continue to accelerate. In fact, FRC has just released an updated account of what has been described by some as a slow-motion genocide: The Crisis of Christian Persecution in Nigeria.According to a U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) report released in February 2021, estimates suggest that the conflict with groups like Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa Province has resulted in the deaths of more than 37,500 people since 2011. There is a reasonable basis to believe that these groups have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. USCIRF Vice Chair Tony Perkins adopted Leah as a prisoner of conscience, personally advocating for this brave hostage who refuses to renounce her faith. Yet sadly, not much has changed. Just weeks ago, Open Doors listed Nigeria as the ninth worst persecutor of Christians on its 2021 World Watch List. And massacres of Nigerian Christians have only increased. Meanwhile, as we mark the third year following her abduction, Leah Sharibu remains a captive. Mercifully, across the world, faithful prayers continue for her freedom. But reports about her have dwindled to silence, despite pleas from international human rights groups and Christian organizations appealing for her releaseDede Laugesen, Executive Director of Save the Persecuted Christians, reflects, “It is impossible to know what Leah Sharibu’s life is like now… By all appearances, the Nigerian government has given up on Leah. But the world will not forget this fearless Christian teen, nor give up praying for her and demanding her release. Nigeria must do more to ensure all Nigerians—Muslim, Christian or African traditionalists—are freed from the dens of these monsters.”As the world’s attention is diverted to other crises, other violence, and ever-increasing Christian persecution elsewhere, the significance of Leah’s brave devotion to her faith continues to resonate. A few months ago in an eloquent opinion piece, Nigeria’s Guardian summed up the significance of Leah’s capture, her faithful witness at just 14 years of age, and her continued detention by the Boko Haram insurgents:The story of her capture and her continued detention by the Boko Haram insurgents as a result of her defiance of compromise and refusal to renounce her faith is the stuff of legend … Leah Sharibu alone was not released because she refused to renounce her faith and convert to Islam as demanded by her captors. Still missing and in captivity till the present … she has since become the symbol of Nigeria’s refusal to succumb to agents of darkness, hell-bent on dividing the country and appropriating a section of the nation’s territory to themselves. By her principled stand, the battle for the soul of Nigeria became one between a young girl with a heart and a garrison of devils without souls.As time goes by and other concerns arise, our memory of Leah Sharibu’s story may grow dim. Let’s agree to remember this courageous young woman in our prayers.
Alabama lawmakers are currently considering two bills that would prohibit doctors from prescribing gender transition drugs, hormones, and surgeries to minors. Known as the “Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Acts,” these bills are designed to protect minors who are struggling with gender confusion from harmful procedures that cannot be fully reversed later and that they may likely come to regret.These bills also prohibit nurses, counselors, and school personnel from withholding information about a child’s gender confusion from the child’s parents. Senate Bill 10, introduced by Representative Shay Shelnutt of the state’s 17th district, passed the Senate Healthcare Committee in a vote of 11 to 2 last Wednesday, while House Bill 1 is still awaiting a vote after being the subject of a public hearing by the House Judiciary Committee on the same day. Under both bills, doctors who violate such laws would face criminal charges.The Alabama House version of the bill was introduced by Republican Wes Allen last year. “When I learned that this was going on in our state of Alabama, I was really shocked that puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones were being given to minors,” he said on Washington Watch recently. When asked about his motivation behind the bill, Allen replied that it is simply about protecting children. “The most important thing we can be doing as legislators is taking care and protecting children, so that’s really the motivation behind it.” Rep. Allen also spoke briefly about how children lack the proper ability to make life-altering decisions, as well as studies that suggest that 85-90 percent of children with gender dysphoria will eventually outgrow such issues and “grow to accept how God made them and grow to accept their bodies.” Allen was hopeful about the success of House Bill 1: “We’ve got to make sure we protect our kids, and we’re looking forward to advocating for this bill in the weeks to come.”Chantel Hoyt is a Research Assistant with State & Local Affairs at Family Research Council.
Today around the country, 40 Days for Life campaigns will kick-off. Started in Byran/College Station, Texas, 40 Days for Life is a prayer and fasting campaign with the goal of bringing about the end to the atrocity of abortion. Throughout biblical history, God has used the timeframe of 40 days and 40 nights to change the hearts of people. In Genesis, Noah spent 40 days and 40 nights in the ark. In Exodus, Moses spent 40 days and 40 nights on Mount Sinai where he received the Ten Commandments. In the Book of Jonah, Jonah proclaims to the Ninevites that in 40 days Nineveh will be overthrown. In Matthew, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights. Over and over again, God uses the timeframe of 40 days and 40 nights. Inspired by this, 40 Days for Life was founded.In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus casts a demon out of a child. The disciples come to Jesus and ask why they could not cast out the demon. Jesus replies, “This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21). Led by these words, 40 Days for Life’s mission of prayer, fasting, constant vigil, and community outreach arose. During the 40 days, volunteers keep peaceful, prayerful, round-the-clock vigil outside abortion businesses across the country. Churches, families, and friends agree to pray together for an end to abortion, and people of faith are invited to fast as a sacrifice to bring about the end to abortion.Since 2007, over 18,000 lives have been saved. Over 100 abortion businesses have closed, and over 200 abortion workers have quit as the result of the 40 Days for Life campaign. Clearly, God is still using the timeframe of 40 days to change hearts. To find a 40 Days for Life campaign in your area, go to the Find a 40 Days for Life Vigil page.Here are a few things to keep in mind when joining a 40 Days for Life campaign.1. This is a peaceful, prayerful vigil. It seems in 2020 our nation has forgotten how powerful peace and prayerful protests can be. It is especially important that people praying outside abortion businesses remain peaceful and prayerful. As someone is passing the clinic, your witness can either promote deeper thought about abortion, or it can entrench someone more deeply in their belief. Be peaceful and prayerful and let the Lord use you.2. Bring a buddy. Invite a friend or family member to join you as you pray outside the clinic. Jesus tells us, “Where two or three gather in my name, there I am among them” (Matthew 18:20). In addition to the spiritual help a friend provides, having a second person with you also ensures your safety outside the abortion business. 3. Bring a sign. A well worded sign can touch the hearts of both the women entering the abortion business and the people driving past. If you do not have a pro-life sign, consider making your own. Some great phrases are “Choose Love, Choose Life!”, “Abortion Stops One Heart and Breaks Another”, “God Loves You and Your Baby!”, “Want to Choose Life? I Can Help!”4. Be open to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Perhaps as you are praying outside the abortion business, you will be prompted by the Holy Spirit to speak to a man or woman entering the business. If so, do not be afraid! Remember, a woman about to have an abortion is likely terrified. Speak lovingly to her. Perhaps say, “If you’d like to talk about choosing life, I can help you!” Make sure not to yell or say anything hurtful to the woman.5. Bring the number of your local pregnancy resource center. Always make certain you have the number of your local pregnancy resource center with you when you are praying outside a clinic. If a woman turns to you for help, the pregnancy resource center in your community is the best place to send her. The pregnancy resource center will provide her with the support and resources she needs to choose life and plan to parent or place her child for adoption.During these next 40 days, prayerfully consider joining 40 Days for Life. Your presence outside the abortion business might just be the sign a woman needs to choose life.
Abby Johnson has partnered with the Thomas More society on a new initiative, Hurt After Abortion. As part of this initiative, Johnson’s team is offering referrals for free legal consultation, emotional and spiritual healing options, and assistance in accessing medical records for women who have been harmed by an abortion. The goal of this initiative is to provide justice and healing for women who have been exploited by the abortion industry.In a perfect world, every woman harmed by abortion would take legal action, and the abortion industry would be brought to justice. But, sadly, there are many barriers for women seeking justice and healing after an abortion. Shame, depression, regret, and the life circumstances that caused a woman to consider abortion in the first place are all roadblocks to her taking legal action against an abortionist. Hopefully, many women will overcome these hurdles and become part of the Hurt After Abortion initiative. Even if they do not, there is plenty of evidence that abortion hurts women. In 2020, Operation Rescue reported 67 abortion-related medical emergencies and one maternal death. It should be noted that this does not mean only 67 women were physically harmed by abortions in 2020—but that 67 instances were recorded on film and were reported to Operation Rescue. Two of those emergencies happened less than 20 miles from the White House. LeRoy Carhart, an 80-year-old abortionist, operates a late-term abortion business in Bethesda, Maryland. Due to Maryland’s liberal abortion laws, the business can perform abortions through all nine months of pregnancy. Through his numerous abortion businesses over the years, Carhart has admitted to ending at least 20,000 lives. Carhart has no problem making light of the work he does. In a BBC Panorama documentary with Hilary Andersson in 2019, Carhart told her he uses the word “baby” with his patients, and when Andersson asked, “And you don’t have a problem with killing a baby?”, he responded, “Absolutely not. I have no problem if it’s in the mother’s uterus.”I have seen Carhart’s cold nature firsthand. A few years ago, before his business moved from Germantown, I was praying outside Carhart’s business with a group of women as he and his wife got out of his car and walked toward the building. One of the women I was with said to him, “Those babies have a future.” Carhart turned, scoffed at her and said, “They sure don’t when I’m done with them.”Is it any wonder that a man who speaks with such little regard for life sent two women to the hospital this past May? While the identity of these women remains anonymous, the incident report from the Montgomery County Maryland Fire and Rescue services showed that on May 12, a 25-week pregnant woman from out of state was rushed to the hospital from Carhart’s business. A whistleblower told Operation Rescue that the woman suffered a ruptured uterus and other internal injuries from an abortion. Several baby parts had been left inside the woman. The damage to the woman’s bowels was so bad that she was given a colostomy, that included an external bag. The woman was finally discharged from the hospital on May 21.That same day, an eerily similar situation occurred. A second incident report showed a 25-week pregnant woman from out of state was taken to the hospital from Carhart’s business. A whistleblower indicated that this was because she, too, had a perforated uterus. She arrived at the hospital in critical condition, and once again, surgery was necessary. This time, the woman required a hysterectomy. The baby the abortionist had killed was still partially intact inside the woman’s abdominal cavity. LeRoy Carhart is 80 years old. He has sent at least 22 women to the hospital, and he is responsible for the death of Jennifer Morbelli. It is unclear if he was the abortionist who maimed the two women who were hospitalized in May, but it is certain the abortions happened at his business.Pray that Abby Johnson’s new Hurt After Abortion initiative brings abortionists like LeRoy Carhart to justice. Though this will be some solace to women, there is no initiative that can take a woman back to the moment before she walked into the abortion business—the moment before her baby was killed, before her body was mutilated, before her life was changed forever. Still, there is hope and healing for these women.Abby Johnson’s new initiative also provides referrals for an options-based approach to emotional and spiritual healing for women. Project Rachel has worked with thousands of women to help them find peace and healing after an abortion. If you know someone who is suffering physically, emotionally, or spiritually from an abortion, mention these two programs, and pray—pray for justice, pray for an end to the exploitation of women through abortion, and pray for the end of the destruction of life in the womb.
Last week, the Connecticut State Senate considered SB 835, “An Act Concerning Deceptive Advertising Practices of Limited Services Pregnancy Centers.” Contrary to its title, this bill is not about deceptive advertising. In fact, there is no substantial evidence that clients seeking services at Connecticut pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) have been or currently are being deceived. No, this bill is about silencing PRCs.SB 835 singles out PRCs as the only organizations that are required to prevent advertising they know “or reasonably should know” to be deceptive “whether by statement or omission.” The legislation places the pro-abortion attorney general—who testified in favor of the legislation—as the arbitrator of “deceptive advertising,” and gives him the authority to force PRCs to “correct” their advertising and pay a fine.This bill is a clear violation of the First Amendment rights of PRCs. It makes it harder for women who are unexpectedly pregnant to know what their choices are, and it places the state in the position of promoting abortion over childbirth.Despite what this bill implies, there are already many generally applicable laws at the state and federal level preventing deceptive advertising. What makes SB 835 unique is that it deliberately—and unjustly—singles out PRCs as the only organizations required to prevent advertising they know “or reasonably should know to be deceptive.” Nothing in the bill prevents abortion businesses from engaging in deceptive advertising practices. For example, Planned Parenthood—whose very name implies that a pregnant woman visiting the clinic will receive balanced information regarding the resources available to her if she would like to parent—is not obligated in any way to clarify in their advertising that their core mission is expanding abortion. PRCs are targeted for one reason only—to stifle their speech.If this were just another deceptive advertising law, it would not target an ideologically unified group of service providers who take a position on one of the most controversial topics in the country. SB 835’s vague wording—“whether by statement or omission”—allows the pro-abortion attorney general (who is so pro-abortion and anti-woman that he doesn’t think abortionists should be required to have hospital admitting privileges) to decide which words a PRC omitted. Clearly, the attorney general is attempting to bully PRCs into only advertising what he would choose to advertise—which is definitely not help and support for women who feel pressured into having an abortion. This is an intimidation practice with the prevention of pro-life speech as its goal. It is unconstitutional.In 2018, California passed a law that forced PRCs to 1) advertise that the state offered free abortions and 2) post a notice stating they were not medical providers. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that California’s law was unconstitutional and prohibited the state from directly demanding this speech. Although SB 835 is not directly demanding speech from PRCs, through the vague wording “by statement or omission,” it is indirectly attempting to force them to make those same statements. The Supreme Court has already ruled this is unconstitutional.Singling out PRCs for heavy fines because they do not provide or refer for abortions compels them to advertise in a way that significantly limits their potential clients. Many women who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant feel afraid, alone, and unsure of where to turn. PRCs do not coerce women into giving birth. Rather, they give a woman all the information available to her and allow the woman to make her own decision, knowing that she can always turn to the PRC for support.Unlike abortion businesses, PRCs do not make money when a client chooses life. In 2019, PRCs provided $270 million in services at virtually no charge, and they provided services to women regardless of whether they chose life or abortion, offering more than 21,000 women post-abortion healing services.PRCs do not exist to make a profit; they exist because they care about women and their children. According to a Guttmacher Institute study, women most frequently choose to have abortions because having a child would “interfere with a woman’s education, work or ability to care for dependents (74%); that she could not afford a baby now (74%), and that she did not want to be a single mother or was having relationship problems (48%).” The resources offered by PRCs help women rise above and change these circumstances. The support of PRCs empowers women to choose life for their children.There is no good reason to attack centers that have such a positive impact on society. Doing so places the state in the position of promoting abortion practices—who stand to profit from a woman’s decision to have an abortion—above centers offering women the tools they need to choose life.The Connecticut state legislature should recognize that SB 835 is an attack on one of the foundations of American liberty—freedom of speech—and as such, it is unconstitutional. More importantly, the state legislature should recognize that SB 835 harms women in need.
For some, Valentine’s Day is a fun excuse to dote on a spouse or loved one with roses, chocolates, and heart-shaped cards. But for others, Valentine’s Day can be a lonely reminder of their lack of a romantic relationship. A cynical few believe Valentine’s Day is just a marketing ploy—a made-up holiday that guilts you into spending money on someone. However, the historical origin of Valentine’s Day had nothing to do with any of these things.February 14 marks the anniversary of St. Valentine of Rome’s martyrdom in A.D. 269. He was executed by the emperor for his Christian faith and for marrying couples when marriage was temporarily illegal. St. Valentine’s life and death demonstrate the high price that can sometimes accompany standing up for Christian values despite pushback from authority or the culture.St. Valentine lived in Rome during the reign of Claudius II, also known as Claudius the Cruel. The Roman government was notorious for persecuting Christians ever since the church’s founding, in part because Christian ethics dissented from the practices of polygamy, homosexuality, pedophilia, and prostitution that were prevalent in the Empire. Rome was at war while Claudius II was in power, and he believed unmarried men made the best soldiers (because they did not have families at home to worry about and could not use their marriage as an excuse to get out of military service). Claudius’ desire to strengthen his army, combined with his prejudice towards Christians, led to his decision to make marriage illegal in Rome for a time.The emperor’s edict did not stop Valentine from marrying couples in secret. He did not marry them because he was a hopeless romantic or because he wanted to defy the emperor, but because he believed that marriage was a core value of the Christian faith. Claudius soon discovered Valentine’s actions and had him arrested.While in jail, legend has it, Valentine befriended Judge Asterius and his adopted daughter, who was blind. According to some accounts, Valentine placed his hands on Asterius’s daughter’s eyes, and she was healed. Because of this miracle, the judge and his whole family became Christians and were baptized. He even released Valentine from confinement. However, the emperor arrested Valentine again, had him beaten, and later beheaded him for his “crimes.” Before his execution, Valentine wrote to the judge’s daughter and signed it, “Your Valentine.” This gesture inspired the more modern tradition of writing letters to loved ones on the Feast of St. Valentine, or “Valentine’s Day.”Christianity’s doctrine of marriage has been attacked countless times since the church’s early days and continues to be under attack in our modern culture. Our government’s expansion of the definition of marriage, the spread of “no-fault” divorce laws, the proliferation of easily accessible pornography, and the current push to legalize prostitution are just a few of the recent cultural shifts that degrade human sexuality and ignore God’s good intent for sex and marriage. Nearly every industry—including entertainment, Big Tech, and social media—promotes rather than discourages these trends. But a Christian understanding of marriage is worth protecting and fighting for—both for the societal good it does and how it depicts the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church.Christians know that humanity did not invent marriage. Rather, it was ordained by God to be a picture of the gospel, illustrating the enduring and sacrificial love that He has for the world. As the apostle Paul says in Ephesians 5:25-27, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (ESV).The world has plenty of examples of one-night stands, adultery, divorce, unfaithfulness, and selfishness. What it needs are more examples of healthy, committed, selfless, God-centered marriages. Christians can provide these examples by committing and being accountable in their marriages, discipling the next generation on how to prepare for a godly marriage, and teaching others how marriage displays God’s character.Marriage is about much more than romance or sexual desire—it is about sacrifice and an image of God’s love for us. Whether you are married, engaged, dating, or single, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate God’s holy parable of marriage. St. Valentine sought to protect this image, and we can do the same today. May we all learn to sacrifice for one another and love just as Christ first loved us (1 John 4:19).
Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:1. Update: Impeachment: No End InciteDemocrats are tossing aside every real issue facing America to take a second crack at impeaching a man who isn’t even president. This time, though, their pathetic obsession with destroying Trump comes at a steeper price.2. Update: Mark Cuban’s Airball on FreedomBack in November, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban suspended the playing of the national anthem before home games. Because stands sit empty due to coronavirus restrictions, nobody noticed until Tuesday.3. Blog: Important Update about Burma/Myanmar’s Military Coup from Dave EubankReports from Burma (Myanmar) have been the focus of international news recently. A military coup has overthrown the quasi-democratic government, and has placed the already-struggling Burmese people in a potentially dangerous situation. Uncertainty has gripped the country and persecuted religious minorities—particularly Christians—are at greater risk than ever.4. Blog: “The Holy Spirit Will Be Working”: Despite Persecution, Hong Kong Christians Remain HopefulWell-known American pastor Francis Chan surprised many when he announced his plan to move to Asia to serve in ministry, leaving his comfortable position as a mega-church pastor to follow God’s call. In less than a year, he and his family planted three house churches in Hong Kong. Then the Chans were informed that their visas had been revoked, forcing them to leave with only a few weeks’ warning.5. Washington Watch: NC Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson Argues That Un-American Critical Race Theory Taints Young MindsMark Robinson, North Carolina Lieutenant Governor, joins Tony Perkins to discuss the North Carolina Board of Education’s proposed educational standards infused with Critical Race Theory.6. Washington Watch: Sen. Roger Marshall Shares His Firsthand Account of Trump Impeachment 2.0The U.S. Senate recently voted to proceed with the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) joined Tony Perkins with a firsthand account of the trial proceedings. Also discussed was Senator Marshall’s Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act.7. Pray Vote Stand Townhall: The Way ForwardHow do believers in America successfully navigate the challenges ahead? We must pray, persist, and not lose heart. Tony Perkins, Gary Hamrick, and Mike Farris led an interactive discussion about the way forward.
Things change quickly after the White House switches parties. After years claiming that detention facilities at the border were American concentration camps, Democrats will be ok with them again. After years of relative silence on spending during a spending spree, Republicans will again call for fiscal restraint. And then there’s the issue of unity.Those who spent four years talking about how patriotic it is to criticize a president now call for unity. Meanwhile, those who spent four years urging people to support the president are quick with reminders that criticism of political leaders is the American way.Which highlights an important point: unity is neither good nor bad. Whether unity is desirable depends entirely on what we are unifying around. Unity around a planned crime spree is bad. Unity around a surprise birthday party for a loved one is good.We like the idea of unity because it brings up images of people getting along. Who doesn’t want that? What are the calls for unity today asking us to unite around?If we are being called to treat people with dignity and respect regardless of their beliefs, background, or political persuasions, Christians can be united in that effort. “So far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18).If we are being called to listen to our neighbors, Christians can be united in that effort as well. “Be slow to speak and quick to hear for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19).Politically, Christians should be the best citizens because we are commanded to seek the welfare of our cities (Jer. 29:7), pray for those in authority (1 Tim 2:2), and submit to their authority (1 Peter 2:13) so long as their commands are not inconsistent with what God has commanded (Acts 5:29).But as Christians look for ways to build bridges, we must also be mindful of the things we cannot unite around.If we’re called to unify with the sacrifice of preborn children on the altar of convenience, we can’t do that.If we’re called to unify with a sexual revolution that God calls sin and destroys people’s lives, we can’t do that.If we’re called to unify with a movement that seeks to punish people for their fidelity to the gospel and their obedience to God, we can’t do that.Despite cultural sentiments suggesting otherwise, it is not loving to be indifferent or agreeable toward wickedness because “love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6).None of this means that Christians are obligated to be combative—“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:6). But there are times when Christians must be confrontational. “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11).We must always pray for our leaders, but the degree to which we are unified with our leaders must depend on the degree to which our leaders are unified with God. If they want unity with us while earnestly seeking to honor God, we should be the first to encourage them and support them. If they want unity with us while waging war on truth, beauty, and goodness, the answer must be “not until you repent.”As with many things, the world tries to deceive the church with a counterfeit version of what God made.God’s path to unity is through submission to Jesus. The world’s path to unity is through submission to them. These are mutually exclusive options, so choose wisely. “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).When the White House changes parties, a lot of things change in Washington, D.C. But what shouldn’t change for Christians is that regardless of who is in the White House, we first seek unity with God and then with anyone else looking for the same thing.

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