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The Reverend William Barber from North Carolina made news this week by claiming in an interview on prayer for President Trump that it “borders on heresy when you can p-r-a-y for a president” while they are “preying” on others. This, in his view, is “violating the most sacred principles of religion.”Assuming Reverend Barber looks to the Bible as his spiritual authority, I would suggest that the “principles of religion” demand the exact opposite—they actually require the Christian to pray for all leaders. Indeed, if this borders on heresy, a portion of the New Testament may be heretical.1 Timothy 2:1-3 says: “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior” (emphasis mine).This command is non-negotiable for every Christian; it doesn’t matter if we agree with the leader or not—as several ministers recently pointed out in rebuttal to Barber. Not all may have voted for President Trump, but he now is the president, and we all should hope and pray that he brings blessing to our nation. Similarly, not all may have voted for President Obama—I was in the camp who did not. But once he became president, it became a requirement of me and every other Christian who did not vote for him to nevertheless pray for the president to do well in God’s sight.Christians should always speak truth to power. Yet we can do this while we also pray for God to bless the nation through the leaders he has appointed over us.Reverend Barber and I do see eye to eye on one overarching point—that faith should inform the public life of our nation. We agree that it is proper for a minister, pastor, or theologian to offer their views in the public square. Reverend Barber is doing this, and so do I. In that sense, he is a religious liberty advocate just like myself.While Christians may differ on the application of that faith, we still agree that it should speak to our society—as opposed to those who think religion has no role in the public square at all. Rev. Barber and I would both say they are completely wrong. Let both his and my supporters unify on this point, for Christianity has much with which to benefit and bless our nation. Regardless of our differences on how it is applied, we should rally together to defend its place in the public life of our nation.
Dear Friends,In last week’s message, I discussed the growing problem of hostility to Christianity that many Americans have faced over the last 15 years and continue to face now, despite living in a free democracy.It’s important to remember that this problem is by no means limited to the U.S.—other freedom-loving countries are also showing disturbing anti-Christian trends. In a recent survey conducted in the U.K., it was revealed that an astonishing 93 percent of Christians “believe that their faith is being marginalized in British society today.” The results were published by Premier Christian Communications, after 12,000 “ordinary Christians” took part in the survey. Commenting on the survey results, Premier CEO Peter Kerridge said that “it is ‘clear’ that the U.K. does not have the ‘liberal accepting society’ that it believes it does ‘if we don't tolerate and accept everyone, including Christians.’” In just the past year in the U.K., a Christian nurse was fired for speaking about her faith and praying for patients, two Christians were convicted of disorderly conduct and fined for preaching on the streets, and numerous Christian schools were given downgraded statuses by the leading education watchdog group for their teachings on homosexuality and other religions.FRC will continue to fight for the freedoms of all believers to live out their faith freely in the public square, with the hope that Christians of all nationalities will also fight for their rights. Christ’s words will forever be our guide: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.”Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council FRC ArticlesIt’s Time to Clean Up Our Elections – Ken BlackwellDoctors Across The World Are Fighting To Treat Charlie Gard. Will The UK Let Them? – Arina GrossuWhere Are The Decent Liberals? – Ken BlackwellThe Serpents are Surfacing – Ken BlackwellMovie Review: “Alison’s Choice” – Lauren HandThose with Gender Dysphoria Can Find Healing – Peter SpriggNo Fear: Coach Kennedy’s Steadfast Faith – Emma GibneyRelease Charlie Gard – Arina Grossu Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareHas a Civil Rights Stalwart Lost Its Way? – Ben Schreckinger, Politico MagazineCakes and Consciences: The Case of Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop – Nathanael Blake, Public DiscourseThe Urgency of Restoring the Biblical Values of America’s Founders – Arthur Goldberg, Public DiscoursePassion for Equality – Mark Movsesian, First ThingsThe Pelvic Left Attacks an Innocent Woman – Austin Ruse, CrisisThe Media’s Use of This ‘Hate Group’ Label Puts Conservatives’ Safety at Risk – Katrina Trinko, The Daily SignalReligious Freedom Advocates Fire Back After ‘Hate Group’ Smear Over Jeff Sessions Speech – Fred Lucas, The Daily SignalInternational Religious Freedom93 Percent of UK Christians Feel Their Faith Is Marginalized, Survey Says – Samuel Smith, The Christian PostOrthodox Jewish girls school faces closure for refusing to teach children about homosexuality – Brandon Morse, TheBlazeThe New Totalitarian Laws of Canada – John Paul Meenan, CrisisChinese Nobel Prize winner dies in prison, first since the Nazi regime – ChinaAidMilitary Religious FreedomUS Army Tells Female Soldiers to 'Accept' Having Naked Men in Their Showers – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post‘Work Hard, Pray Hard’: Retired General Reveals the True Path to Inner Peace – Erik Rosales, CBN News LifeAbortionVideo: Stephanie Gray: "Abortion: From Controversy to Civility" – Talks at GoogleStunning images from inside the womb show that human life begins at fertilization – Becky Yeh, Live Action NewsOregon poised to make abortion free – Samantha Gobba, WORLDAbortion Fanatics Don’t Want Choice, They Want Fewer Babies – Mollie Hemingway, The FederalistBioethicsParental and Governmental Authority in Medical Decisions: The Tragic Case of Charlie Gard – Melissa Moschella, Public DiscourseJe Suis Charlie, Once More – R.R. Reno, First ThingsBasic Bioethics: How to illuminate the Christian perspective – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionObamacareNeeded pro-life protections in potential healthcare legislation – Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionObamacare Is Causing Insurers To Delay Surgeries Patients Need – Richard Menger, The FederalistBringing Senate Conservatives and Moderates Together on Health-Care Reform – Michael F. Cannon, National Review FamilyEconomics/EducationHow to Find Hope in the Humanless Economy – Kevin Brown and Steven McMullen, Christianity TodayHere’s How Anti-Conservative Academic Discrimination Works – David French, National ReviewJobs Report Stronger Than Expected, but More Must Be Done to Boost the Economy – Timothy Doescher, The Daily SignalHere’s Why So Many Republicans View America’s Colleges And Universities Negatively – Gracy Olmstead, The FederalistIs California anti-family? – Joel Kotkin, Orange County RegisterThink Tank: Reconsider Caring For Your Kids Because Money Matters Most – Gracy Olmstead, The FederalistMarriage5 Long-Time Married Couples Share Their Secrets to a Happy Marriage – Jenna Jonaitis, VerilyMarried People Have More Sex – Nathan Yau, FlowingdataPremarital counseling can decrease divorce rates, psychologist says – Laren Hanson, The Daily UniverseMichigan couple, both 99, celebrates 80th wedding anniversary – Eliza Murphy, Good Morning AmericaThe 4 Crises Every Marriage Must Make It Through – Paul Carter, The Gospel CoalitionThe Adult Children of Divorce Find Their Voice – Leila Miller, Family StudiesFaith/Character/CultureWhy Is God So Hidden? – J. Warner Wallace, BreakPointCan Ethnicity Become a Straitjacket? – Mike Tong, Desiring GodDon’t be Uncle Rico: A moral snatched from Napoleon Dynamite – Tod Worner, AleteiaHospitality Is Not Just for Home – Bethany Jenkins, The Gospel CoalitionWhat Makes Humans So Special? – Matt Nelson, Word On FireWant to Lead a Happier Life? Be More Generous, Study Says – Brandon Showalter, The Christian PostHuman SexualitySymptoms, Causes and Loving Those with Same-Sex Attraction – Carrie Gress, National Catholic RegisterDoctors Admit They Don’t Know Which Kids Should Gender Transition But Do It To Them Anyway – Walt Heyer, The FederalistHusband, Lift Up Your Eyes – John Piper, Desiring GodPediatrician: ‘Transgender’ ideology has created widespread child abuse – Michelle A. Cretella, LifeSiteNewsIncrease in extramarital sex leading to new STD epidemic – Fr. Mark Hodges, LifeSiteNewsMost Teens Aren’t Having Sex, and They Deserve More Support for That Choice – Alysse ElHage, Family StudiesOral sex spreading unstoppable bacteria – James Gallagher, BBC NewsAt issue: The push for gender inclusivity in toys – Chris Woodward, OneNewsNowHuman Trafficking3 things to know about the human trafficking report – Travis Wussow, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionBackpage has always claimed it doesn’t control sex-related ads. New documents show otherwise. – Tom Jackman and Jonathan O'Connell, The Washington PostPornographyWhat Porn Did To Their Lives – Rod Dreher, The American ConservativeSeven Promises to Pray Against Porn – J.A. Medders, Desiring GodKay Warren: ‘I Struggled With Porn Fascination’ – Nancy Flory, The Stream
Last month, it was my privilege to attend the annual conference of the Restored Hope Network (RHN) in San Diego. The Restored Hope Network is the nation’s largest umbrella organization for Christian organizations engaged in “transformational ministry” with those who suffer from unwanted same-sex attractions (SSA). (It is often seen as a successor to Exodus International, an organization that shut down in 2013 after its leadership abandoned its original message that change is possible for those with unwanted SSA.)LGBT activists in the San Diego area organized protests against the conference (although they did not turn out anything close to the 1,000 protesters they promised). Ironically, the protests had some positive effect—at least one person struggling with unwanted SSA who attended the conference said he would never have known about it if not for the publicity about the protests.I was struck, however, by the sharp disconnect between what the protesters assumed was actually happening in the conference and what was actually happening there. As just one example, critics of “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE)—which they (not its practitioners) refer to as “conversion therapy”—often charge that such programs damage participants by instilling “shame” in them. The truth is the exact opposite—participants come into SOCE with shame, and a key goal of the counselling is to overcome and remove that sense of shame.One thing striking about this year’s conference was the increased emphasis on issues of gender identity as well as sexual orientation—a clear reflection of the growing prominence of the transgender issue just in the two years since I last attended an RHN conference. Since RHN is an explicitly Christian organization, the twin issues of homosexuality and gender dysphoria (dissatisfaction with one’s biological sex) were both addressed by several speakers in the theological context of the “image of God,” as expressed in Genesis 1:27:And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them.In other words, our maleness or femaleness, and the complementarity of the two, is part of the “image of God” with which each of us is created by God. Linda Seiler, who struggled with gender identity issues growing up, said this means that “gender is sacred” and that “rejecting one’s God-given sex is rebelling against the Creator.” Speaker Nate Oyloe applied the concept to marriage, saying, “Divorce is the image of God, masculine and feminine, being torn apart.” Another speaker, who formerly lived a lesbian lifestyle and is now living a life of chastity, gave a personal testimony in which she declared, “I was born with a sinful and rebellious nature, but I was reborn in the imago dei (image of God).”The highlight of the conference for me was seeing the world premiere of a new documentary film called TranZformed: Finding Peace with Your God-Given Gender. While the movement that believes sexual orientation change is possible has been around for decades, and numerous testimonies of those who have experienced change have long been available, until now only a few people have publicly come out as “ex-transgender” (the most prominent being Walt Heyer—see his website).TranZformed, however, features the dramatic testimonies of 15 ex-transgender individuals who “bear witness to what Jesus Christ can do for those who struggle with gender dysphoria.” The film, which is over an hour long, was very professionally produced by Pure Passion Media, a ministry dedicated to “equipping the church to redemptively minister to those who are trapped in sexual sin and brokenness” (a focus which definitely includes heterosexual sin and brokenness, such as pornography addiction). In fact, two of the testimonies included in TranZformed are available on the Pure Passion website.However, the DVD of the entire documentary is available for order at the TranZformed website. I highly recommend it for the dramatic personal insight it gives into the transgender issue.
The film “Alison’s Choice” dramatizes a two-hour waiting period of a pregnant high school student while she awaits her abortion appointment. As Alison sits in the waiting room, she encounters God as a janitor, two other patients at the abortion facility, three medical staff, and a counselor. Alison speaks with God as He pleads with her to save her child, while revealing different reasons behind the problems in the world. As God converses with Alison, He also speaks with each one of the women in the waiting room in an effort to save them and their children. Alison asks God various questions about why He allows certain problems in the world to continue and why He is impeding on what she thinks is the “freedom” of her and the other girls at the facility to “simply live their lives.” God shows Alison her baby growing inside her womb and lets her know of His loving plan for them both.Alison’s boyfriend Ricky, the father of the baby, is absent while she waits for her abortion appointment, and the time makes Alison reflect on their relationship. Ricky told her “to just get rid of it,” upon discovering that she was pregnant after pressuring her to have sex with him in the first place. God reveals He was present at each moment preceding Alison’s abortion appointment, and He recounts asking Ricky to “be a man” and to take care of Alison and their unborn daughter.The medical staff at the center suspects that Alison is unsure about her abortion procedure, so they attempt to coax her. Alison first meets a counselor on staff at the center who encourages her to have the abortion because it “makes sense.” She then meets a married woman who has two children and believes she and her family are not prepared for a third, so she chose to have an abortion rather than telling her husband or her two other children she is pregnant. Alison then journeys beyond the waiting room to speak with an abortionist on staff as well as a nurse. The abortionist tells Alison that there is a “growing lump of tissue” inside of her, and it will inconvenience her and not allow her to go on with life. The nurse is a single woman who is “celebrating” her 5,000th “termination” in her time in the abortion industry. She is delighted to not have a man or child to “serve” but instead carries three pictures of her cats around her neck who are her companions. The film then travels through various thoughts in Alison’s mind as she grapples with the life and death decision about her preborn daughter. The movie ends with Alison’s decision revealed. The film invites the audience to contemplate the realities that women and men face with an unplanned pregnancy. The rational moral consequences that can stem from the ordeal of abortion are made evident in the film through relatable characters. Despite some stereotypical moments, “Alison’s Choice” has a very plausible storyline and leaves the audience with an accurate representation of both the abortion industry and the difficult and often frightening reality of making decisions surrounding an unplanned pregnancy. Lauren Hand is an intern at Family Research Council.
Last month, it was my privilege to attend the annual conference of the Restored Hope Network (RHN) in San Diego. The Restored Hope Network is the nation’s largest umbrella organization for Christian organizations engaged in “transformational ministry” with those who suffer from unwanted same-sex attractions (SSA). (It is often seen as a successor to Exodus International, an organization that shut down in 2013 after its leadership abandoned its original message that change is possible for those with unwanted SSA.)LGBT activists in the San Diego area organized protests against the conference (although they did not turn out anything close to the 1,000 protesters they promised). Ironically, the protests had some positive effect—at least one person struggling with unwanted SSA who attended the conference said he would never have known about it if not for the publicity about the protests.I was struck, however, by the sharp disconnect between what the protesters assumed was actually happening in the conference and what was actually happening there. As just one example, critics of “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE)—which they (not its practitioners) refer to as “conversion therapy”—often charge that such programs damage participants by instilling “shame” in them. The truth is the exact opposite—participants come into SOCE with shame, and a key goal of the counselling is to overcome and remove that sense of shame.One thing striking about this year’s conference was the increased emphasis on issues of gender identity as well as sexual orientation—a clear reflection of the growing prominence of the transgender issue just in the two years since I last attended an RHN conference. Since RHN is an explicitly Christian organization, the twin issues of homosexuality and gender dysphoria (dissatisfaction with one’s biological sex) were both addressed by several speakers in the theological context of the “image of God,” as expressed in Genesis 1:27:And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them.In other words, our maleness or femaleness, and the complementarity of the two, is part of the “image of God” with which each of us is created by God. Linda Seiler, who struggled with gender identity issues growing up, said this means that “gender is sacred” and that “rejecting one’s God-given sex is rebelling against the Creator.” Speaker Nate Oyloe applied the concept to marriage, saying, “Divorce is the image of God, masculine and feminine, being torn apart.” Another speaker, who formerly lived a lesbian lifestyle and is now living a life of chastity, gave a personal testimony in which she declared, “I was born with a sinful and rebellious nature, but I was reborn in the imago dei (image of God).”The highlight of the conference for me was seeing the world premiere of a new documentary film called TranZformed: Finding Peace with Your God-Given Gender. While the movement that believes sexual orientation change is possible has been around for decades, and numerous testimonies of those who have experienced change have long been available, until now only a few people have publicly come out as “ex-transgender” (the most prominent being Walt Heyer—see his website).TranZformed, however, features the dramatic testimonies of 15 ex-transgender individuals who “bear witness to what Jesus Christ can do for those who struggle with gender dysphoria.” The film, which is over an hour long, was very professionally produced by Pure Passion Media, a ministry dedicated to “equipping the church to redemptively minister to those who are trapped in sexual sin and brokenness” (a focus which definitely includes heterosexual sin and brokenness, such as pornography addiction). In fact, two of the testimonies included in TranZformed are available on the Pure Passion website.However, the DVD of the entire documentary is available for order at the TranZformed website. I highly recommend it for the dramatic personal insight it gives into the transgender issue.
Family Research Council recently released its June 2017 Edition of Hostility to Religion: The Growing Threat to Religious Liberty in the United States. This edition, compared to its inaugural edition in 2014, contains 69 new incidents of religious hostility. This equates to a 76 percent increase in under three years. It is essential to identify these patterns of hostility in order to protect religious freedom in the United States in the future. Equally, it is important that we honor those Americans who stood for their religious beliefs in the face of fear. In his book, No Fear, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins writes, “The only way to counter the fear of man is with faith in God, which provides the courage and the strength that God requires for His world-changing work.” While there are numerous stories to choose from, I will highlight one hero and his story from the Hostility to Religion report God is using for his “world-changing work.”It was a typical fall Friday night in Bremerton, Wash., near Seattle. Coach Joe Kennedy knelt at the fifty-yard line and prayed after the game ended, like he did after every game since 2008 when he first took the position of assistant football coach at Bremerton High School. However, seven years later, on September 17, 2015, the school’s district superintendent barred Kennedy from praying after football games. Ironically, it was a compliment from one of the student’s parents that informed the superintendent that Kennedy had been praying after fans cleared the stadium after football games.When hearing about Kennedy’s situation, religious liberty lawyers from First Liberty Institute got involved on his behalf and asked the superintendent to allow Kennedy to kneel in prayer after the students left the stadium. However, the superintendent rejected the request, stating it would be a “liability concern” and a violation of “separation of church and state.” Kennedy was banned from even bowing his head in prayer as a coach at Bremerton High School.On October 21, Kennedy refused to bow to this infringement of his First Amendment rights and once again knelt down and prayed after the second-to-last football game of the season. Exactly a week later, he received a letter from the district superintendent that read, “Effective immediately, pending further District review of your conduct, you are placed on paid administrative leave from your position as an assistant coach with the Bremerton High School football program. You may not participate, in any capacity, in BHS football program activities.” Kennedy was suspended from the high school prior to the final game of the season and his contract was not renewed, which had the effect of permanently ending his time coaching the Bremerton High School football team.On December 15, Kennedy filed a charge of religious discrimination against Bremerton School District with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). He argued the school district “violated [his] right to free exercise of religion and free speech by prohibiting [his] private religious expression.” The U.S. Department of Justice issued a right-to-sue letter to Kennedy on June 27, 2016. The First Liberty Institute then filed a formal lawsuit against the Bremerton School District on August 9, 2016, but his claims were rejected by the federal district court. Kennedy appealed this decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which held oral arguments in the case on June 12, 2017. We will have to continue to wait and see how this religious freedom case plays out in the courts.In No Fear, Perkins declares, “Faith says, ‘I can do all things.’ Fear says, ‘What will they think of us? What will they do to us?” Kennedy let his faith speak louder than his fear of what man would do to him. He had faith that the Lord will carry him through this trial even after it cost him his career. Ultimately, man cannot harm him as the Lord is on his side. In the courts today, Kennedy is living out Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” He did not let his fear of man take precedence over his fear of the Lord when he continued to kneel in prayer after football games. I applaud Coach Kennedy for choosing to please God rather than man.
Arina Grossu, FRC’s Director of the Center for Human Dignity, delivered the following speech on July 6, 2017 at a press conference for #CharlieGard at the National Press Club.Good afternoon and thank you for being here. We are encouraged by the outpouring of love and support that Charlie Gard and his parents, Chris and Connie have gotten from all over the world, in their quest to take Charlie out of the U.K. for nucleoside bypass therapy. They have already raised $1.7 million in private funds and they even had offers from a U.S. hospital for free treatment and also for him to stay at the Vatican hospital. We are encouraged that Pope Francis and President Trump have expressed support for Charlie and his family. President Trump has requested a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May at the G20 Summit in Germany tomorrow and a family spokesman said, “The White House has been in talks with Charlie's family, GOSH, the UK Government, the Department of Health and the American doctor who wants to treat Charlie.”The question at hand is not whether the treatment is going to work for Charlie, who has TK-2 related mitochondrial depletion syndrome. We hope that it does and we know that it has for others with less severe forms of mitochondrial depletion syndrome—others who are alive today as a result of their treatment. Why should Charlie be deprived of the same chance?We urge the British government, the courts, and the hospital to release Charlie. You are holding him hostage. This is a case about parental rights coming into conflict with socialized medicine. Who should decide what’s in the best interest of Charlie? His parents. Not the courts. Not the hospital. Not the government.As Wesley Smith so aptly put it, “The refusal to allow Charlie’s parents to remove their baby boy from the hospital is an act of bioethical aggression that will extend futile-care controversies, creating a duty to die at the time and place of doctors’ choosing. And that raises a crucial liberty question: Whose baby is Charlie Gard? His parents’? Or are sick babies—and others facing futile-care impositions—ultimately owned by the hospital and the state?”It is Chris and Connie, his parents, who have the right to seek treatment for their son—treatment that has been successful for little Maxwell Smith, another British boy who was also diagnosed with TK2-related MDS. He was diagnosed at 9 months and treated with nucleoside bypass therapy. He is still alive at 5 ½ years old as a result. Doctors of another boy, Arturo Estopiñan, told his parents that there was no treatment and that he would die soon. Arturo is still alive today at 6 years old as a result of this therapy. Arturo’s parents said that their son “would surely be dead by now” if he was not granted access to the treatment. The therapy is a simple oral medication.Please don’t deprive Charlie of a chance at therapy. Charlie’s parents have said in a tearful plea, “We’re not allowed to choose if our son lives.” They also said, “If he’s still fighting, we’re still fighting.”Chris and Connie, please be assured that we join you in prayer and we support you in your right to parental authority.We must protect the rights of parents to make decisions for their children’s health—decisions that are based with best interests in mind. We must protect Charlie, the most vulnerable person among us.We are praying for you Charlie, Chris, and Connie at this most stressful time. You are not alone. You have supporters all around the world.And to the U.K and Great Osmond Street Hospital, please free Charlie so that he can have a fighting chance at life. The world is watching and waiting for you to do the right thing and release Charlie to his parents.Thank you.
Dear Friends,From its very beginnings, America has always been the destination of freedom seekers. Immigrants from all over the world have flocked to America’s shores in the hope of finding something that their own native countries often lacked, but which they knew in their hearts must be possessed by every human person: freedom.But what is “freedom”? This is a debate that we continue to have as a country. As hundreds of U.S. citizens can attest, even a free democracy such as ours is prone to infringe upon the freedoms of its people unless it possesses a proper understanding of “freedom.”Many think that freedom is simply the ability to choose whatever one wants. The problem with this thinking is that when someone chooses evil, it is not only bad for that person but also bad for everyone who is affected by that person’s evil choice. True freedom, in the words of one author, “is a calling to realize in ourselves what is true about us, a calling to actualize in us all what is true, good, and beautiful.” This Christian understanding of freedom is not constraining, as many argue. Rather, it is freeing. How? Because “the more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to ‘the slavery of sin.’”The lightness of being and the joy that we experience when we freely choose good is a testament to God’s design for freedom. This Fourth of July, let us celebrate the true freedom that Christ has fashioned in our lives and in our great country.Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council FRC ArticlesReport: Attacks On America’s First Freedom Increased 76 Percent In Three Years – Travis WeberWe Must Act While We Still Can – Tony PerkinsTrump, Congress Should Halt Transgender Military Policy that Costs Billions – Peter SpriggSupreme Court Delivers Big Wins for Religious Freedom – Travis WeberAbortion Activists are Still Trying to Put David Daleiden in Jail for Exposing Planned Parenthood – Tony PerkinsPentagon Transgender Agenda Won't Improve Military Readiness, Costs $3.7 Billion – Tony PerkinsTrump Set to Follow in Gipper’s Footsteps, Making Work Center of Social Welfare Policy – Ken BlackwellFRC’s Updated Hostility Report Shows Religious Organizations on the Front Lines of the Fight for Religious Freedom – Chris BaldacciSchool Board Rigs System for Transgender Win – Cathy RuseWhen Campuses Become Battlefields: Protecting Free Speech in a Hostile Environment – Ian FrithTaxpayer-Funded Transgender Tutorial for Schoolchildren Tanked – Cathy Ruse5th Circuit Rejects Effort to Take Down Conscience Protections – Travis Weber10 Things Every New Father Should Know – Dan Hart Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareNonprofit Tracker Smears Dozens of Conservative Organizations as ‘Hate Groups’ – Rachel del Guidice, The Daily SignalThe Southern Poverty Law Center Bears False Witness – Samuel D. James, First ThingsSupreme Court Rules 7-2: Yes, Christians Are Citizens Too – Kathy Schiffer, National Catholic RegisterMissouri Tried to Discriminate Against a Church for No Good Reason. How the Supreme Court Leveled the Playing Field. – Emilie Kao, The Daily SignalFederal Judge Rules Cross Violates Law and Must Be Removed – ToddStarnes.comPrejudice and the Blaine Amendments – Philip Hamburger, First ThingsIndiana Christian school at center of LGBT voucher debate – Brian Slodysko and Maria Danilova, The Washington TimesMississippi can enforce LGBT religious objections law: court – Fox NewsUniversity to remove cross and Bibles from campus chapel – Todd Starnes, Fox NewsLegal Radicals Don’t Want the ‘Separation of Church and State’ – David French, National ReviewInternational Religious FreedomPeru Fights Back Against Gender Ideology – Victor Gaetan, National Catholic RegisterRussell Moore, Franklin Graham Orgs. Urge Trump to Tackle Severe Persecution of Sudanese Christians – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostSwedish Midwife to Fight for Rights at European Court – Bob Paulson, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association LifeAbortionNew Study Shows Why Fathers Matter in the Abortion Fight – Vincent DiCaro, Care NetUS Rejects UN Resolution Supporting Abortion – The Christian PostThis Is The New Face Of The Pro-Life Movement – Torey Van Oot, Refinery29Oregon House Democrats pass bill providing free abortions for all, including illegal aliens – Valerie Richardson, The Washington TimesBioethicsVideo: How Adult Stem Cells Helped Jackie Stollfus be a Mom – Charlotte Lozier InstituteDoctor: Insurance Wouldn’t Pay for Patients’ Treatments, but Offered Assisted Suicide – Kelsey Harkness, The Daily SignalThe Court-Ordered Killing of Charlie Gard – Ian Tuttle, National ReviewWhen the “Right to Die” Becomes a Death Sentence – Matthew Archbold, National Catholic RegisterPhysicians Without Chests: On the Call to End Conscientious Objection in Medicine – Michael D. Stark and Grace Stark, Public DiscourseYanking Life Support From UK Baby Demonstrates Dangers Of Socialized Medicine – Nicole Russell, The FederalistObamacareAmericans Struggling Under Obamacare Tell Pence ‘Real Story’ – Fred Lucas, The Daily Signal FamilyEconomics/EducationWhy Genuine Liberal Arts Degrees Are A Perfect Fit For Today’s Uncertain Economy – Christine Goss, The FederalistThe Crisis of the Economic Right and the Case for Reform Conservatism – Max Bloom, National ReviewDeVos Should Take on Education’s Reformocracy – Frederick M. Hess & Michael Q. Mcshane, National ReviewFrom playgrounds to classrooms – Leigh Jones, WORLDWe’re having fewer babies. Could that kill the economy? – Ariana Eunjung Cha, The Washington PostMarriageRuth and Boaz: A Romance That Models God's Love for Us – Ray Vander Laan, Focus on the FamilyFaith and Marriage: Better Together? – W. Bradford Wilcox, PrinciplesThe Most Important Text on Marriage – David Mathis, Desiring GodAs Wedding Costs Rise, Perhaps It’s Time to Invest More in Marriage Prep – Amber Lapp, Family StudiesPTSD and marriage: Advice from someone who’s been there – Patricia Eden, U.S. Department of Veterans AffairsFaith/Character/CultureWhy Can’t Americans Enjoy Life? – John Horvat II, CrisisA Map of the Soul – Michael Egnor, First ThingsThe ‘Church’ of Facebook? – Alex Duke, The Gospel CoalitionIn Defense of Doubt – Robert B. Greving, CrisisChristianity: A Bargain That Will Cost You Everything – Joe Heschmeyer, Word On FireHuman SexualityProblems with Puberty Suppression in Treating Gender Dysphoria – Paul W. Hruz, Lawrence S. Mayer, Paul R. McHugh, The New AtlantisThe Transgender Agenda vs. the Science – Rick Fitzgibbons, The Catholic ThingSame-Sex Attraction and Therapy: It’s Time to Let People Choose – Arthur Goldberg, Public DiscourseGerman Parliament votes to legalize same-sex ‘marriage’ – Claire Chretien, LifeSiteNewsLGBT Mega-Donor Reveals Next Goal: 'Punish the Wicked' Gay Marriage Opponents – Samuel Smith, The Christian PostPornographyThe Brain’s Delete Button: How You Can Erase Years Of Watching Porn – Fight the New DrugOur Odyssey Against Sexual Temptation – Jimmy Needham, Desiring God
The Chairman of the Prince William County School Board didn’t want to leave anything to chance last week when he pushed for the passage of transgender norms in public schools.Apparently, he stacked the deck before the vote, front-loading citizen speakers in favor of his position, and relegating those opposed to the end of the line, after the vote. The transgender policy passed 5-3.Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13) obtained text messages (below) from Prince William School Board Chair Ryan Sawyers via FOIA request showing that Sawyers hand-picked speakers who favored imposing a new transgender policy in Prince William Schools to speak prior to the School Board vote on that issue at their June 21st meeting.A Legislative Services attorney advised Marshall that the Prince William School Board’s own regulations (133-1) in sections B and E, provide that persons are to speak in the order in which they have put in their requests to speak. Not only did Chairman Sawyers fail to follow the rules, he trampled on the First Amendment rights of Prince William county residents according to attorney Caleb Dalton.If the transgender agenda is so appealing, why do you need to rig a meeting to get it passed?Taxpayers and parents in Prince William County deserve better than this.
At most metro stops in D.C., workers give out free copies of the Washington Post Express to commuters. The week before Family Research Council published its updated report "Hostility to Religion: The Growing Threat to Religious Liberty in the United States," the front of the Express was covered by a full-page advertisement sponsored by Catholics for Choice. It pictured a caricature of a bishop, pointing at the reader like Uncle Sam, with the caption, "We want YOU to help us discriminate." On the inside flap, the ad chastised Catholic schools, hospitals, and charities that decline to offer birth control, abortions, or facilitate same-sex marriage, claiming that this is intolerable discrimination. These are not new allegations. Catholics for Choice ran a similar ad last year, and the ACLU hosts an "Issues" page that outlines their mission to fight organizations that use "religion to discriminate."The ability of organizations to operate according to their beliefs is an increasingly significant battleground in the fight for religious liberty. Bolstered by the Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges and increased support for sexual autonomy among the public, liberal organizations are no longer content to see the government affirm the LGBT rights movement—religious groups must acquiesce as well.FRC's updated report highlights a few poignant examples of this opposition to the freedom of religious organizations:In the last decade, Catholic Charities has lost millions in government contracts and sometimes shut down entire branches rather than act in violation of Catholic teachings about abortion or marriage.A group of Christian colleges had to seek an administrative exemption in 2014 from an Obama administration regulation that would have barred them from requiring teachers to follow biblical teachings on sexuality. The schools faced protests and were lambasted in the media for their petition.In 2015, a Catholic school was sued and settled out of court with a fired teacher that identified as homosexual. It was allegedly illegal for the school to require instructors to follow Church teachings concerning homosexuality.Two separate religious hospitals were sued in 2017 and criticized for not offering gender reassignment surgery to patients who identified as transgender.Beyond the pragmatic harm that lawsuits and boycotts inflict on organizations, these mounting attacks threaten the very heart of what it means to be a religious group. Religious convictions are the impetus for religious organizations. For example, belief in justice and mercy motivates charities and hospitals, belief in specific ethical and philosophical principles motivates religious schools, and religious nonprofits often advance a targeted worldview. For these institutions to abandon their principles would be to sacrifice the integrity of their mission. Yet the radical left has used its political and legal power to require them to do just that.The aforementioned stories highlight the stunning hypocrisy of progressive activists' attacks on religious freedom: amidst their cries for tolerance, they refuse to tolerate beliefs that they disagree with. They demand that religious institutions check their beliefs at the door and act according to the majority sentiment rather than the dictates of their faith. Moreover, it is the opponents of religious liberty who are "forcing their beliefs on others" by demanding that organizations comply with the progressive left's beliefs that abortion is not murder, same-sex marriages can be sacrosanct, and those who identify as transgender should be fully affirmed in their chosen identity.Our laws must safeguard the right of religious organizations to act on their beliefs. The free exercise of religion, as guaranteed by the First Amendment, does not simply protect the right to think or believe whatever we want (no one is going after our thoughts – yet). The First Amendment is special because it protects the right to act according to our beliefs, hence the term "exercise." Thankfully, the Supreme Court has affirmed this principle in recent cases like Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which ruled that family businesses can opt-out of covering abortion-causing drugs and services if doing so violates their sincere religious convictions. Such decisions must become the norm to protect not only religious business owners, but religious organizations and religious liberty itself. Without the freedom to believe and act according to those beliefs, the freedom of religion is irreparably devalued.To read more of the updated FRC report "Hostility to Religion: The Growing Threat to Religious Liberty in the United States," please visit: http://www.frc.org/hostilityreport
College campuses have become increasingly hostile grounds for political discourse. Citing safety concerns, student groups all over the country have seen their events cancelled by university administrators worried about violence on college campuses. Speakers who have managed to appear on campuses have found themselves harassed by student protestors, and have even faced violence by opposition groups. Take for example, Charles Murray’s attempt to speak at Middlebury College in Vermont. Not only was Murray shouted down with profanity by an enraged progressive student body, but Middlebury Professor Allison Stanger was physically assaulted for accompanying Murray on campus.This disturbing trend has drawn national attention, and prompted a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. On Tuesday, June 20th, the committee met to discuss the volatile environment on college campuses in relation to the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. The committee heard from seven witnesses including two students who alleged free speech violations on their campuses, several college professors and administrators who have dealt with controversial events on their campuses, and two lawyers associated with First Amendment and hate speech issues. One of these lawyers was Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Cohen has been criticized for SPLC’s labeling of their political opponents as “hate groups,” a designation various progressive groups on college campuses have exploited to justify threatening the free speech of conservatives.Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) opened the hearing by citing several particularly grievous violations of freedom of speech, including students who were arrested at Kellogg College for distributing the Constitution outside of the designated “free speech zone.” These outrageous actions were condemned by both Republican and Democratic senators alike. The First Amendment does not exist merely to defend opinions that everyone agrees with, it also protects those opinions which are controversial or offensive. Unfortunately, many on the Left only associate hate speech with conservative groups, and ignore hate speech by progressives. Senator Ted Cruz had it right when he said, “truth is far more powerful than force… if your ideas are right there is no need to muzzle the opposition.” College campuses ought to protect speech, because in doing so they’ll help further thoughtful debate.A highlight of the hearing was the testimony of Zachary Wood, a student at Williams College and president of the organization Uncomfortable Learning. Although he identifies himself as a progressive liberal, Mr. Wood deliberately sought out conservative speakers to invite them to speak because he wanted to start a dialogue on campus. Wood eloquently defended campus free speech when he said “humanity is not limited to the views and values we admire, it also encompasses the views and values that we resist.” One controversial speaker invited by Wood was conservative commentator John Derbyshire. Predictably, the invitation caused a severe backlash and resulted in the president of the university unilaterally cancelling Derbyshire’s speech. The administration then immediately imposed new regulations for students who wished to invite speakers to campus. Several of the school administrators testified that they have had to deal with violent opposition groups on their campus. UCLA Professor Eugene Volokh stated that groups who are trying to force a “heckler’s veto” must be strongly reprimanded. “Behavior that is rewarded is repeated… these thugs have to learn that their behavior is not acceptable.” While college administrators appearing before the committee were generally in favor of protected free speech, some did acknowledge that there are challenges in striking a balance between campus safety and free speech. Dr. Fanta Aw of American University stated that “freedom of expression is integral to the mission of higher education, however protecting it has become increasingly difficult due to our national climate, as well as changing views by younger students regarding the First Amendment.” With an increasingly polarized political climate, this issue isn’t going away anytime soon. It is essential that these universities and administrators continue protect speech on their campuses.Not all the senators were as adamant about the defense of free speech. Citing a lack of resources on the part of the Berkeley police department, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) redirected the conversation towards the nature of the violent protestors involved, and away from First Amendment issues. Senator Feinstein’s attempt to pit public safety against free speech are misguided at best, and deceptive at worst. While it is important that college campuses remain safe environments for learning, safety must not be bought at the price of silencing minority views on campus. Richard Cohen of the SPLC went one step further, blaming much of the atmosphere on college campuses on the national climate post-election, and specifically the actions of the “alt-right” and white nationalism. He also defended an SPLC publication entitled The Battle for Berkeley, which claimed that “in the name of free speech, the alt-right is assaulting the ivory tower.” Attacks on free speech should not be partisan, but Cohen ignored many groups on the Left who have also been responsible for inciting violence both on college campuses and elsewhere. In fact, SPLC’s labeling of conservative organizations as “hate groups” has been connected to violence against conservative groups, including the 2012 FRC shooting by Floyd Lee Corkins II (who cited SPLC’s designation of Family Research Council as a “hate group”), and the most recent shooting in Alexandria involving GOP Majority Whip Steve Scalise. Near the conclusion of the hearing, Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) condemned the President of Williams’ College Adam Falk. Senator Kennedy admonished Falk for treating progressive liberal campus groups and speakers differently than conservative groups and speakers, and called that sort of favoritism “intellectually dishonest.” Mr. Fredrick Lawrence also defended the role of universities hosting controversial speakers saying “[There should always] be a strong presumption in favor of the speech.” He emphasized that limits should be established only based on the intent of the speaker, never the substance or the content. This is an excellent standard that is well established in public policy. Despite differing priorities regarding the protection of free speech on college campuses, it was encouraging to see a measure of bipartisanship in support of free speech at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. As a millennial college student, I am glad that there is a concerted effort in Congress to protect my right to free speech. While I was disappointed in the attempts of Senator Feinstein and Richard Cohen to shift blame, I am confident free speech on college campuses proved more persuasive. The right of free speech is a cornerstone in our society, and it must be protected if we are to continue to have meaningful discussion about other policy issues.
The Fairfax County School System will not get to have a taxpayer-funded transgender “panel discussion” after all.Last week, Fairfax County Schools announced the “Coming Out and Coming Around” event to be held in July: “Join us for an LGBTQ panel discussion. Parents, counselors and LGBTQ adolescents will share experiences and answer your questions. Browse LGBTQ resources in the Parent Resource Center library.”This did not sit well with Fairfax County property owners, who send most of their property taxes every year to the Fairfax County School Board. Aren’t “panel discussions” supposed to be fair and balanced, especially if they are funded by taxpayers with a broad range of views?Fairfax families pushed back, and the bureaucrats buckled.One savvy mom called and peppered a counselor with questions:Are you representing both sides on this panel? “We have no sides.”Oh really, well, will there be anyone on the panel discussing negative consequences to children from transitioning? Or that it might not be in the best interest for a child to transition? In so many words, “No.”Anybody on the panel that does not advocate children transitioning? In so many words, “No.”Since this is an academic setting, have you considered including diversity of thought on this? Diverse perspectives from medicine, science? Ever heard of Dr. Paul McHugh? No. No. And No.This tax-funded “panel” has been officially “postponed” until the fall.It’s a small victory in the fight against political indoctrination of public school children.
Today, in a unanimous opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rejected an activist effort to take down HB 1523, Mississippi’s conscience protection law. HB 1523 provides exemptions for those who conscientiously object to being forced to facilitate same-sex marriages and other matters related to human sexuality, and allows them to opt out of the process while providing for other government workers or entities to step in and fill the gap.Despite the fact that it is nothing more than a reasonable accommodation paradigm, the law was violently attacked with allegations that it was standing in the way of LGBT people, and a lawsuit was launched on the theory that it “established” a religion in violation of the First Amendment and violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.But in order to sue—under a doctrine known as “standing”—a plaintiff needs an injury, and all that was alleged in this case was that the plaintiffs were “stigmatized” and felt bad because of the law. Courts have been facing this type of tenuous, emotionally-based allegation of injury more and more in recent years, and they only bog down the judicial system with claims that were never meant to be brought in the first place. In addition, when such claims are allowed to proceed, and a law is struck down, the effect is that one more area of our democratic process is chiseled off and placed into the hands of activists who would happily destroy the process if that meant they could achieve their aims.It is thus nice to see the Fifth Circuit properly scrutinize standing in this case, and hold that the plaintiffs here have no actual injury on which any lawsuit could be based. To bring suit, a plaintiff needs a “concrete” and “particularized” injury, and even in Establishment Clause religious display cases where standing rules are more liberal, a plaintiff still needs to have a “personal confrontation” with any allegedly offensive display. Yet as the court pointed out, “[j]ust as an individual cannot ‘personally confront’ a warehoused monument, he cannot confront statutory text.”The Court also rejected the idea that “offense at the message Section 2 [of HB 1523]” could convey standing, noting that any “purported stigmatic injury” is insufficient. Likewise, there is no standing for any equal protection claim because “exposure to a discriminatory message, without a corresponding denial of equal treatment, is insufficient to plead injury in an equal protection case.”All too often, activists without a mandate to achieve change through the democratic means set forth by our constitutional order will try to find some court through which to push their grievances against a law or policy. However, as is the case here, such “injuries” often constitute nothing more than general disagreement with the law and are subjective, lacking any actual harm. The unfortunate effect is that these activists’ methods chip away at and weaken our entire judicial system.It is thus heartening to see this ruling, which not only leaves in place HB 1523’s religious exemptions which are quite necessary in a post-Obergefell world, but also strengthens the constitutional order by holding in check those who try to wield power through the courts simply because they can’t achieve their goals through democratic means.
On Christmas Eve of last year, my son was born. As someone who is slow to react to big, life-changing events, the birth of my son left me mostly stunned and awestruck. For weeks afterward (more like months, if I’m honest), I would often have to remind myself that this tiny new human being was actually my son. Even though I had accompanied my amazing wife through the entire journey of our baby’s birth, it sometimes felt like he had suddenly appeared in our home out of the blue, as if a stork had flown into our backyard one day, deposited him in the grass, and flew away with a smirk.There were times when I felt a bit intimidated by him. That may sound odd to be scared of a newborn, but occasionally it seemed as if he stared right through me, deeming me an unworthy father. This made me worry that he might not like me, that he might not smile or giggle at my attempts to entertain him, that he might cry at my attempts to soothe him, that he might wriggle away from my touch.Well, guess what? My worries have proven to be unfounded. In honor of Father’s Day this Sunday, I present the top 10 things I’ve learned about fatherhood since the birth of my firstborn son six months ago.1. Fatherhood begins before the child is born.Even when your baby is still in utero, he can still hear and feel your presence as a father. The amazing extent to which unborn babies are able to do this is continuing to be discovered by science. Just as he knows his mother’s voice and can recognize other sounds that he hears repeatedly, so too will he recognize his father’s voice if it is a consistent vocal presence. Praying with, talking, reading, and singing to your unborn child is not only a great way for fathers to feel more involved in their wives’ pregnancies, but this will also help the father bond with and grow in affection for his offspring as he feels the baby kick and squirm in response. I’ll never forget the time that I played a song on guitar and sang directly into my wife’s belly—my unborn son began kicking non-stop with such energy that my wife and I could only gape at each other in amazement.The more that fathers feel the kicks and the hiccups, the more affection they will begin to feel for their child. There will also be plenty of opportunities to attend periodic ultrasound checkups—be sure to attend as many as possible, as there’s nothing quite like seeing the amazing silhouette and unique movements of your child to begin the bonding process.2. Feeling a bit distant from your newborn is normal.It’s no secret that the bond between a mother and her newborn is incomparably powerful. The fact that the mother physically gestated her child for nine months and is her baby’s only source of food makes the relationship beautifully symbiotic. The reality for a new father is that for nine months, he has literally been at a physical distance, and for the first few months after birth, he most likely won’t be able to hold the child as much as his wife because of nursing demands.So if new fathers find themselves feeling a lack of intimacy with their newborns as a result, it’s important to remember that this is perfectly normal and okay. Just like with any relationship, the love fathers have for their children will deepen as they get to know them better.This will play out in practical ways. In time, I learned that my son prefers to be bounced to sleep instead of rocked or swayed. He is absolutely transfixed and delighted by the sight of my wife and I washing dishes and eating. He loves to stand (with our support) in high positions and turn his head from side to side to observe all that is below him. He loves to rub my beard as I carry him around, even as he is falling asleep in my arms. He prefers to ride (and sleep) in the bumpy cheap stroller that is falling apart rather than the nice jogging stroller. As fathers learn the unique quirks and mannerisms that every child develops, his love will in turn grow and deepen inextricably. 3. Blaze your own trail to get to know your child.Every child is unique, and in the same way, there is no one right way to dive in to fatherhood. The important thing is to just dive in. Be okay with your child screaming in your arms, because that’s how you learn to soothe him. Be okay with your baby peeing on you as you attempt to change his diaper, because that’s how you learn the best changing procedure.Let your own creativity be your guide. Make up a special song for your baby that he will get used to so you can lull him to sleep with it and sing it while you horse around with him during play time. Don’t be afraid to be goofy, dorky, and cheesy with your kid. The ability to be a goof with your child in front of anyone is a great sign that you are getting comfortable in your own skin as a dad. It will also give you bonus points with your wife when you can give her a break by rocking your child to sleep yourself or successfully keep your child calm in the baby carrier.4. Lean in to the suffering.Yes, there will be times as a new father when you will feel miserable, tired, frustrated, maybe a bit angry, or experience other unpleasant feelings. It will be when your back is aching from a solid 35 straight minutes of trying to get your baby to sleep, or from changing a diaper at 4 a.m., followed by an hour of inconsolability, knowing that you have to get up for work in an hour.Instead of just stomaching these hardships until they’re over, lean in to these moments when you know you are suffering, and turn it into a prayer offering and sacrifice. Empathize with your baby’s screams instead of letting your frustration level rise, and offer up a word of praise and pleading to the Lord. Babies have an uncanny ability to sense when you are getting stressed, and their stress level will usually rise in conjunction with yours. Your calmness and humble acceptance of the situation will generally pay off. If it doesn’t, and your wife has to save the day, it’s important not to feel discouraged because you know you gave it your best.5. The more you give, the more you will receive.The nature of fatherhood is to sacrifice one’s self for one’s child. This may make fatherhood sound like a dreary slog, but my experience has been very much the opposite. Giving of yourself can take a multitude of forms, both large and small.One (seemingly) small way that fathers give is simply by interacting with their babies as much as possible. Make eye contact and be as facially expressive as you can be—your child will imitate you and respond accordingly. Just as your baby has a symbiotic relationship with its mother through nursing, you as a father can have a symbiotic relationship with your child through interaction. Since your baby has its own unique personality and you have yours, the interaction you receive from your child will literally change your brain chemistry, and vice versa. This mutual gift of self is a beautiful image of the Holy Trinity—the Father gives all that He is and has to the Son, who gives Himself back completely to the Father, resulting in the fruit and bond of their shared love—the Holy Spirt.6. Kiss your wife in front of your baby.Don’t be shy about showing physical affection in front of your wide-eyed baby. Children thrive on seeing a physical reminder of the union of their parents and the love they share. This display of unity can take many other forms besides showing PDA. Sharing meals together as a family, with your baby seated between you and your wife or in one of your laps, is another great way to show your child that you cherish your family unit. When a child sees the physical union present between his parents, he will feel whole and secure, because he is the physical incarnation of the union of you and your wife.7. Your role in your child’s sense of self is vital.As we’ve discussed, the first month or two of a baby’s life is mostly characterized by the intense bond that the mother and child share through the symbiosis of gestation and nursing. It goes without saying that this is vital to the health and well-being of mother and child, but equally vital is the father’s role in helping to nurture the baby’s independence apart from the mother. When you physically separate your baby from your wife by taking him outside the house for a walk, engaging in rough & tumble play in a separate room, coaxing him to say “dada,” giving him his first bits of grilled hamburger, or presenting him to family, friends, and your church community, you are helping your baby become a distinct entity apart from mom, which aids in the development of his own unique identity and sense of self.8. Don’t sweat it when you fail.There will be times when you will feel like a failure as a new father. For me, I have felt most like a failure (and still do) when I spend what feels like hours trying to coax my son to sleep, but to no avail. After a dozen different methods of cradling, patting, singing, bouncing, rocking, murmuring, and massaging have failed, unexpectedly strong feelings of anger and frustration will sometimes bubble up inside me, and after my wife takes over and I walk out of the bedroom still smarting from such a chastening experience, I sometimes fume inwardly that my own child, bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh, was not comforted by his father’s best efforts. These are the times when it’s important to remember that babies are constantly growing and changing from one day to the next. The rough patches that every baby goes through are just stages in an amazingly fast developmental process. So don’t sweat it, and be patient—your baby will soon outgrow whatever exasperating behavior you failed to overcome.9. You image God the Father to your child.I say this at the risk of sounding overly dramatic, but it’s true. As touched on previously, fathers have in their nature a unique way of introducing their child to the wider world beyond the home, while at the same time showing the child unconditional love. A child needs to have total and complete trust in his father and feel absolutely secure, just as we are all called to trust completely in Abba (“daddy”), our Heavenly Father. Fathers carry their babies to new environments and introduce, teach, and show their babies new sights, sounds, and smells in the backyard or in the neighborhood, just as God the Father did with Adam in the Garden of Eden. They help their babies develop new motor skills and strengthen their muscles by flying them through the air and letting them stand on their own two legs for as long as possible, just as God the Father challenges us to spiritually grow and mature.Parents are the images of God to their children. The baby’s first experience of God is through the love shown to him by his parents. Therefore, God the Father is revealed to a child through their father in a way that is totally distinct and unique from their mother.10. Take this advice with a grain of salt.As you will find out, when it comes to parenthood, everyone on God’s green earth has an opinion about how to do it best, this blog post notwithstanding. It can all be a bit overwhelming. So, with that said, take my words of wisdom one last time: when there’s an opportunity for a nap, take it, and when there’s an opportunity for a beer, drink it. Happy Father’s Day!
Dear Friends,In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus says, “You have heard it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.”This passage in Scripture comes to mind in reflecting on the tragic incident that occurred yesterday in Alexandria, Va., in which a murderous gunman attempted to kill members of Congress and their aides on a baseball field, wounding six. It’s important to ponder and take heed of this vital teaching of Christ in the volatile times in which we live.Christ is teaching us that when we harbor malicious thoughts about other people in our hearts, they can easily fester into physical action, like angry outbursts and violence. This is why Jesus says that we must go well beyond the avoidance of outright killing. We have to get at the root of the problem, which starts in our hearts. We must root out every thought and attitude that causes us to hate others. (In these polarized times, we must insist on the true definition of “hate,” which is “intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury.” Therefore, disagreeing with certain lifestyles and public policies is, by definition, not “hate.”)This is an important lesson for all of us who are involved in public policy and government. When it comes to politics, most of us have passionate viewpoints, which lead to passionate disagreements, which is very fitting in a free democracy such as ours that requires open and free debate in order to function. However, we must never let our passionate viewpoints turn into anger, as Christ said. As we have witnessed time and time again in our country, anger can lead to vindictiveness towards others, which can lead to violence and murder. Christ has perfect understanding of this dangerous fallibility that is present in every human heart, and therefore warns against it in the strongest terms.May all of our most passionate views always be rooted in love for our fellow man, never anger. Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council FRC ArticlesThe Bigotry of Bernie Sanders – Travis WeberTrump’s Rule on the HHS Contraceptive Mandate Ensures Religious Freedom for All – Travis WeberSanders’ Religious Test Goes Against Founders’ Vision – Tony PerkinsBern Victim: Christians Need Not Apply – Patrina MosleyThis Pill Could Reverse a Third of Abortions – Arina GrossuPresident Trump Names Abstinence Education Leader to Top Post at HHS Department – Tony PerkinsCommunity Health Care Centers Offer Full Spectrum of Primary Care, Unlike Planned Parenthood – FRCAn Open Letter to Bernie Sanders from a Vermont Pastor – Tim CountsFRC Summer Reading List – Dan HartTestimony in Opposition to H. 1190 and S. 62 – Peter SpriggWe’re Better Together – Dan HartStanding for Christ – Travis WeberEven Liberal Feminists Can’t Resist Committed Love and Marriage – Chris GacekGiving to Caesar and to God – Peter Sprigg Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareBernie Sanders’s Religious Test for Christians in Public Office – Emma Green, The AtlanticPolicy at Michigan College Results in Arrests for Handing Out Constitution – Alliance Defending FreedomTrump Administration Considering Rule That Would Help Little Sisters of the Poor – Rachel del Guidice, The Daily SignalThe Campus Speech Police Come to Fresno State – Jake Curtis, National ReviewTown Stands up to Atheist Bullies, Refuses to Remove Cross – ToddStarnes.comBernie Sanders Doesn’t Think Christians Are Fit For Public Office – John Daniel Davidson, The FederalistSchool: Students May Not Pray or Mention Jesus – ToddStarnes.comThis Farmer Won’t Host Same-Sex Weddings at His Orchard. Now a City Has Banned Him From Its Farmers Market. – Fred Lucas, The Daily SignalInternational Religious FreedomPetition calls for repeal of ‘totalitarian’ bill allowing children to be taken from Christian homes – Lianne Laurence, LifeSiteNewsIreland's abortion law violates human rights, UN rules – Kenza Bryan, IndependentPublic board orders Christian school to stop reading ‘offensive’ Bible passages – Dorothy Cummings McLean, LifeSiteNewsMilitary Religious FreedomSupreme Court refuses to review case of Christian Marine who claims she was discharged over Bible verse – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post LifeAbortionDaughter’s thank you note to her parents who chose life as teens goes viral – Nancy Flanders, Live ActionMore abortions, more money, less real support for women – Samantha Gobba, WORLDHarvard Law Journal: Unborn Babies are Constitutional Persons – The StreamIsrael’s modern-day midwives offer solutions, not abortion – Jay Hobbs, The StreamMost Pro-Life Laws are Based on Sound Science – Michael J. New, National ReviewWhy We Kill Disabled Kids: For the Same Reason Cain Killed Abel – John Zmirak, The StreamDelaware legalizes abortion through all nine months – Samantha Gobba, WORLDAdoptionChristians who reject transgenderism banned from adoption, working with children in Illinois – Doug Mainwaring, LifeSiteNewsStreamlining adoption the goal of bipartisan working group – David Meade, Lexington Herald LeaderBioethicsBasic bioethics: How Christians should think about bioethics – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionDoctor: Insurance companies are denying treatment and pushing assisted suicide on patients – Cassy Fiano, Live Action NewsOregon Senate votes to allow dementia patients to be starved to death – Claire Chretien, LifeSiteNewsCanadian nurse forced out for refusing to participate in euthanasia – Pete Baklinski, LifeSiteNewsObamacareStates scramble to prevent ObamaCare exodus – Rachel Roubein and Nathaniel Weixel, The HillFate of Planned Parenthood funding tied to Senate moderates – Jennifer Haberkorn, PoliticoYes, Obamacare Really Does Disadvantage Disabled Americans – Christopher Jacobs, The Federalist FamilyEconomics/EducationNew Poll Shows What College Students Really Think About Safe Spaces – Katrina Willis, The Daily SignalWhat Happens at Home Doesn’t Stay There: It Goes to School – Nicholas Zill, Family StudiesTax Reform for Working-Class Families – Josh McCabe, National ReviewMarriageMaintaining Your Marriage During the Parenting Years – Arlene Pellicane, Focus on the Family5 Memorable quotes that taught me how to be a better father – Michael Rennier, AleteiaA Vow Worth Keeping: A Review of Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give – Alysse ElHage, Family StudiesMillennials Are Looking for Parental Guidance on Love – Kat Talalas, Family StudiesWhat It Feels Like To Be A Man Struggling With Infertility – Aaron Gleason, The FederalistThe global culture each child needs – Patrick F. Fagan, MercatornetFaith/Character/CultureHow Christians Should Engage in Culture – Rob Schwarzwalder, The StreamAuthentic community: How online substitutes damage our empathy – Jonathan C. Edwards, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionGal Gadot’s Wonder Woman Manages The Tough Task Of Winsomely Portraying Virtue – Gracy Olmstead, The FederalistThe Bible Got It Right: Why Going to Church Keeps You Alive Longer – Lorie Johnson, CBN NewsKathy Griffin and the Vanishing of Argument – Bp. Robert Barron, National Catholic RegisterBernie Sanders and the Danger of Theological Ignorance – Rob Schwarzwalder, The StreamHuman SexualityStudy: Less sex education leads to less sex – Kiley Crossland, WORLD4 biblical truths to help fight sexual temptation – Casey B. Hough, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionSame-Sex Attraction and Therapy: It’s Time to Let People Choose – Arther Goldberg, Public DiscourseHuman TraffickingCambodia’s Child Sex Industry Is Dwindling—And They Have Christians to Thank – Kate Shellnutt In Phnom Penh, Christianity TodayPornographyHow Porn Dehumanizes Women Through Sexual Objectification – Fight the New Drug
“If Planned Parenthood is defunded in the health care bill currently before the Senate, won’t this deprive women of vital health care services?”FRC has recently received a number of comments along these lines. While admitting that Planned Parenthood “has done some bad things,” some are still concerned that millions of women will be deprived of vital health care if the primary provider of abortions in America loses federal funding.It is important to know that there are 13,540 federally-qualified, low-cost, high quality health care clinics and rural health centers, which outnumber Planned Parenthood 20 to 1 nationally. (By August 2017, there will be 620 Planned Parenthood facilities, down from 662 in 2015.) Women have real choices when it comes to healthcare, and they can find one of these clinics at GetYourCare.org. These federally-qualified health centers not only offer screening and prevention services, pap smears, cancer screenings, breast exams, and prenatal services, but they also offer a full spectrum of other primary care services that Planned Parenthood fails to provide, including:MammogramsA variety of immunizationsDiabetes and glaucoma screeningsCholesterol screeningsCardiovascular screening blood testsThyroid function testsEye, ear, and dental screeningsPreventive dental servicesWell-child servicesMedical nutrition servicesBone mass measurementSocial worker servicesMental health servicesSubstance abuse servicesEmergency medical servicesAnd othersFederally-qualified health centers offered services for 21.7 million patients in 2013 compared to Planned Parenthood who served 2.7 million. That’s over eight times as many patients.In 2014, federally-qualified health centers served approximately 23 million people. With an extra half a billion in taxpayer funds that currently goes to Planned Parenthood, these federally-qualified health centers could grow and expand their reach.To see the sources for the above information and more, please visit frc.org/plannedparenthoodfacts.
Dear Senator Sanders,I am a pastor in Manchester Center, Vermont, so I am one of your constituents. And I am concerned. You and I both know that Vermont has added to the rich history of religious freedom in our great country. I live 25 minutes from the Old First Church in Bennington, where the following plaque is placed on the side of the historic church building: “First Church in Vermont dedicated to separation of church and state. Congregation founded by those seeking religious freedom.” As you probably know, First Church was “gathered” on December 3, 1762, the first Protestant congregation in the New Hampshire Grants. They were “separatists,” believing that the government should neither establish nor restrict religious freedom. They were seeking religious freedom, not freedom from religion.Your actions towards and comments to Russell Vought during his confirmation hearing for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget endanger our rich history of religious freedom as both a state and a country.Here is why I am concerned, and here is why I write you today: not only because I believe you violated Article VI of the United States Constitution in imposing a religious test as a litmus test for somebody’s fitness to hold a government office, but also because you then released this statement yesterday: “…racism and bigotry—condemning an entire group of people because of their faith—cannot be part of any public policy.”As I have read your comments towards Mr. Vought and watched the video of your interaction, I am astounded at how quickly you have tied together personal faith that Jesus is the only Savior with an individual’s public policy. As Mr. Vought tried to express but was interrupted, Christians believe that all people are made in the image of God and thus should be treated with dignity and respect, even while we hold to Jesus’ statements such as, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)We do not have to be Universalists theologically to be able to hold public office nor to be good citizens in the Green Mountain State or in the United States of America. I believe that the founders of First Church would have been shocked at your statements, as they were leaving a government that told them what they could and could not believe. We have reverted back to a government that has a religious test, but rather than church membership allowing entrance into government office, it is now philosophical membership in secularism that holds the keys.I ask you to clarify and clearly articulate whether or not you truly believe that a Christian who believes that Jesus is the only way to salvation can no longer hold public office in this country. Are you saying that citizens who are not atheists, agnostics, or Universalists cannot serve as government officials? As you have been reminded already since Wednesday, Article VI of the U.S. Constitution declares, “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”Evangelical Christians who hold to salvation in Christ alone may be a minority in our great state, but we are not racists or bigots, and our elected Senators should not make such broad-brush and intolerant statements.I will continue to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, which means the “good news” of Jesus Christ. It is a message of reconciliation to God and fellow man. It is good news that we offer to all people who will listen: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) It is a message that says that although our sin condemns us before the holy God, that Jesus took our condemnation on the cross and rose from the dead so that believers in him will never stand condemned (Romans 8:1). And if somebody really believes that message, they will embrace Jesus not only for salvation but also to help them live a life of service and love to others. Jesus himself said that all of the commandments are summed up in love for God and love for others (Matthew 22:36-40).I will not only continue to preach that message, I will continue to pray that those of us who believe in this good news will be allowed to serve in public office; not promoted because of our faith but also not prohibited from service because of our faith. I am writing to you today not because you are telling me I cannot preach this message, but because you are telling me that those I preach this message to are “hateful” not because of their actions, but because of their faith.As a Vermont pastor, I ask my country for freedom to not only preach the gospel–but also for freedom for those I preach to–to hold their religious beliefs while also holding public office. If you return to our roots of religious freedom as a state and as a nation, the religious tests will stop. And you may find that those you classify as racists and bigots today not only believe that Jesus is the only way to personal salvation, but also that His way is a way of love that treats all persons with the utmost love, respect, and service–even in public office.Sincerely, Tim Counts A Concerned Pastor in Vermont***TAKE ACTION – Sign this petition to the U.S. Senate to Reject Senator Bernie Sanders' demand that Bible-believing Christians be excluded from presidential appointments.
As the warm light of the sun stretches lazily out over our summer days, infusing the early mornings with dew-bright resplendence and filling evenings with a languid glow, a single giddy thought can’t help but enthuse America: more time for reading outside! Whether you’re stretched out on a beach chair with the ocean wind nipping at the pages of your copy of Ideas Have Consequences, reclining on your deck with an ice-cold shandy in one hand and an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story collection in the other, or simply sprawled on the couch with the summer breeze blowing through your window and your John Adams biography, there’s almost nothing better in life then long summer days and a tall stack of books.To help get your literary juices flowing for the warmer months, the staff here at FRC has helpfully collaborated on this compilation of great reads. So put your phone somewhere out of sight on silent mode, sit back, relax, and crack open a book (or a Kindle, if you must).***Non-FictionBiographiesAlexander Hamilton by Ron ChernowThis detailed biography of one of America’s foremost Founding Fathers was the inspiration for the hit Broadway musical Hamilton. Author Ron Chernow’s full-length portrait is a deep dive into how Hamilton in many ways shaped early America with his championing of often unpopular political and economic ideas.Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric MetaxasThis is a gripping biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor and theologian in the confessing church, which resisted the Nazis. Bonhoeffer also participated in the July 20 plot on Hitler’s life (subject of the movie Valkyrie)—which ultimately cost him his life. While this topic is not as widely explored in the book, it is a thrilling look into a life devoted to God, and the implications of that devotion.The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams by Philip and Carol ZaleskiThis is an in-depth look at the lives of the four primary “Inklings,” the literary circle of Oxford friends who delighted in fantasy, philosophy, and the debates of religion and belief. The Fellowship describes how we came to have the authors of such works as The Lord of the Rings, Mere Christianity, The Chronicles of Narnia, and so much more. The arc of each of their lives allows us a better understanding of their celebrated works.When Breath Becomes Air by Paul KalanithiA fascinating read detailing the true story of a brilliant neurosurgeon diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. His thoughts and approach to life and death are very thought provoking.The Wright Brothers by David McCulloughThis wonderfully engaging biography of the brothers who invented flight is thoroughly addicting from the first page onward. The story follows Orville and Wilbur from their beginnings as bicycle shop owners, to the famous test flights at Kitty Hawk, to the amazing flying exhibitions demonstrated before hundreds of thousands of gaping onlookers, to fights over patent rights in their later years. Throughout their lives, the Wright brothers displayed a super-human work ethic and humble tenacity that astounded their contemporaries, proving to be an immense testament to the indomitable power of the human spirit to overcome any adversity. General InterestThe Assault on the Sexes by Jim FordhamPublished in 1977, The Assault on the Sexes is a remarkable book that appeared at the height of the debates over ERA (the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex). With both wry humor and solid research, Jim Fordham (“With his indispensable wife Andrea”) took on the then-nascent feminist movement by not only defending but celebrating the differences between men and women. Although grassroots efforts kept the ERA out of the Constitution, many of its principles have nevertheless been implemented since then through court decisions and legislation. The book’s slippery slope arguments that the ERA would lead to same-sex marriage or unisex bathrooms have indeed come to pass.The Conservative Mind by Russell KirkRussell Kirk played a significant role in establishing the intellectual legitimacy of the conservative movement in the 20th century. His book The Conservative Mind fights the public perception that to be liberal is to be academic but to be conservative is “anti-intellectual.” He traces the intellectual history of conservatism from Edmund Burke and the principles of prudence to T.S. Eliot and the importance of faith. The book is both an overview of the movements and individuals that shaped conservative thought as well as a fascinating defense of the conservative belief in a social and political order.The Drop Box: How 500 Abandoned Babies, an Act of Compassion, and a Movie Changed My Life Forever by Brian IvieThis book is the inspirational account of a documentary filmmaker who travels to South Korea to film the predicament of orphaned newborns who are left in box and accepted by a pastor. In the process, the author recounts his spiritual journey of redemption.The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech by Kimberley StrasselA member of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, Kimberley Strassel provides first-hand accounts of how disclosure and campaign finance laws have been hijacked by the Left as weapons against free speech and free association, becoming powerful tools for those who are intent on silencing their political opposition. Strassel carefully catalogues how government agencies like the IRS, FEC, FCC, and SEC as well as state AGs have knowingly participated in the suppression of First Amendment rights of Americans.Reclaiming Israel’s History: Roots, Rights, and the Struggle for Peace by David BrogA subject that is often highly disputed, this extensively researched book catalogues the history of Israel, recounting how the Jewish people have maintained a sustained presence there for over 3,000 years, despite centuries of persecution. It also covers the untold history of Palestine’s involvement in the Holocaust, the Six-Day War, and Israel’s modern military practices.The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William ShirerA comprehensive historical review of how the Nazis came to power in Germany, and what led to their downfall. It is an interesting historical education, and one which reminds us of the evil which can arise when human beings discard any appeal to higher authority.Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Michael B. OrenIn what has been called a “towering work of history” and an “enthralling human narrative,” this impeccably researched account of the Six-Day War between the Israelis and the Arabs lays the historical groundwork for a conflict that continues to this day.Virtue and the Promise of Conservatism: The Legacy of Burke and Tocqueville by Bruce FrohnenIn Virtue and the Promise of Conservatism, author Bruce Frohnen makes the case for the essence of virtue as being the foundation of conservatism. He argues that conservatives must return to what truly made conservativism great—a concerted focus on the structures of family, church, and community. SpiritualityBetween Heaven and the Real World by Steven Curtis ChapmanGrammy Award-winning Christian musician Steven Curtis Chapman shares the experiences that have shaped him, his faith, and his music in a life that has included unbelievable highs and earth-shattering lows. It includes breathtaking testimony regarding the loss of his young daughter.Dancing Through Life: Steps of Courage and Conviction by Candace Cameron BureCandace Cameron Bure, former child star of the hit 90’s sitcom Full House, shares how as a participant on a reality dance competition she was able to stand with courage and conviction of her faith when all the world was watching!Faith and Doubt by John OrtbergDoubt is often thought to be the opposite of faith, but what if doubt could instead make our relationship with God stronger? In this book by best-selling author and pastor John Ortberg, the nature of faith is explored, particularly in the sense of how uncertainty plays a part in it. Being completely honest about doubts in the faith journey can actually lead to a sense of relief. True understanding requires honest questioning, doubting can actually lead to an increase in trust, and authentic faith can lead to profound hope. This book serves as an encouraging reminder that God desires our whole hearts—even our doubts.Learn to 4 Give by Gil MertzIn Learn to 4 Give, author Gil Mertz draws from nearly forty years of ministry experience to help you achieve forgiveness in your own life. He offers 4 practical, hands-on, and easy-to-follow steps that will allow you to release your power of forgiveness, resolve the pain of your past, restore peace in your present, and reclaim your purpose for the future. We all know we are supposed to forgive but this book shows you how by presenting forgiveness as a learned skill that anyone can do, if you have the right tools.The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother LawrenceIn this reflective devotional book, the 17th Century monk Brother Lawrence offers his thoughts on intimacy with the Lord, and the joy that comes from submission and walking closely with Him.The Pursuit of God; God’s Pursuit of Man by A.W. TozerThe author inspires with his reflections of our pursuit of God, and with how God pursues us, in this deep and enriching devotional guide. FictionAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony DoerrAnthony Doerr’s highly acclaimed, New York Times bestseller is the story of a blind French girl and a German boy whose worlds collide during the tumultuous period of WWII. Imaginative descriptions of the natural world and the devastation of a world at war are captured in intricate detail as Doerr engulfs you in his “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle). This masterpiece, ten years in the making, will keep you glued to the pages till the very end.At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonaldFrom the forefather of writers like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien comes the tale of a young boy and his fantastical adventures around the globe with the mysterious and powerful North Wind. George MacDonald crafts a beautiful work of children’s fantasy literature which masterfully explores the purposes of God amidst a world filled with evil and suffering. This book is ideal for individual reading or for reading aloud to the whole family.Battlefields and Playgrounds by Janos NyiriThis work of historical fiction explores World War II-era Budapest through the eyes of a Jewish child. Entertaining and at times meandering, it is an interesting education of how the events of World War II impacted Budapest—from German sympathies to Russian conquest. The author, who spent his childhood in Budapest, offers a fascinating perspective on all this and how it intersected with increasing anti-Jewish sentiment throughout Budapest and around Hungary.Infinite Jest by David Foster WallaceThis near-1,000 page novel (with copious endnotes) of a dystopian future state in which “cleanliness” is the government’s main goal, the author explores themes of addiction and what we seek to live for. While not necessarily redemptive, the novel is entertaining, and provokes thought in a number of different areas. It isn’t known if Wallace ever became a Christian before his death, but his yearning for higher purpose and power is evident throughout the novel. Recommended for those seeking entertaining reading and some deeper musings of life.Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset (Translated by Tiina Nunnally)This epic historical novel set in 14th century Norway is the engrossing masterwork of Nobel Prize-winning author Sigrid Undset. It spans the full life of Kristin, a stubbornly passionate woman who is the daughter of the successful yet humble farmer Lavrans. In a Catholic culture that is still haunted by elements of paganism, Kristin is relentlessly pursued by the dashing Erlend Nikulausson against her parents’ wishes, raises seven sons with him during their tumultuous marriage, and is eventually estranged from him, but finds redemption as the world around her crumbles.Light in August by William FaulknerThis classic novel about courage in the face of impermanence features some of Faulkner’s most striking characters: including a naïve yet determined woman who is searching for the father of her unborn child; a preacher who is haunted by memories of the Civil War; and a mysterious drifter obsessed by his mixed heritage.Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamilloA quirky yet sweet young adult read about Raymie Clarke, a young girl who is dealing with the fact that her father has left her family. The story unfolds as she tries to solve the family crisis and, in the process, makes some unlikely friendships.Without Warning by Joel C. RosenbergJoel Rosenberg’s latest novel is a page-turner set in the Middle East of 2017 amid the ISIS conflict. An attack on Washington occurs, resulting in a global search for the perpetrators. Conservative Christian New York Times reporter J.B. Collins gets to the bottom of the problem even as his faith is tested. The conclusion is a big surprise.
Regarding practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity in minorsJoint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with DisabilitiesThe General Court [Legislature] of the Commonwealth of MassachusettsBoston, MassachusettsJune 6, 2017 By Peter SpriggSenior Fellow for Policy StudiesFamily Research CouncilWashington, D.C.My name is Peter Sprigg, and I represent the Family Research Council from Washington, D.C.However, I am a former 14-year resident of Massachusetts.It is reasonable for a legislative body to have concern about the safety and effectiveness of medical and psychological interventions for physical and emotional conditions.For example, I have recently learned of a treatment for a widespread condition. I was surprised to read that this treatment is more effective than no treatment at all in only 20 percent of those experiencing the condition.It was also troubling to learn that relapses are common with this condition—and the treatment under study was more effective than no intervention in preventing relapses in only 27 percent of those experiencing the condition.And perhaps most troubling of all was to read “that teenagers consider suicide more often when [undergoing this treatment] . . . and also actually attempt to take their own lives more often.”However, I am not aware that Massachusetts—or any other state—has taken steps to outlaw this treatment, despite its limited effectiveness and potential harms.That’s because the condition I am talking about is not unwanted same-sex attractions, and the treatment is not sexual reorientation therapy (commonly, but inaccurately, referred to as “conversion therapy”).Instead, the condition I was referring to is—depression. The treatment I was referring to is—antidepressant drugs. And the source of the information I have just shared with you is the National Institutes of Health.I raise this comparison as a way of pointing out that the arguments used against sexual reorientation therapy and in favor of restrictions upon it—such as this bill—often hold such therapy to a standard which is wholly unrealistic for any medical or psychological care.Is it possible to find people who will say that they underwent sexual reorientation therapy and found it ineffective? Of course—the same is true of any other treatment, especially for psychological conditions. However, there are also many people who have testified that such therapy was effective for them.Is it possible to find people who will even say that they underwent such therapy and considered themselves to be in a worse condition after than before? Of course—but this, too, will be true of any psychological condition and any therapy. However, it is also possible to find people who underwent sexual reorientation therapy and felt that they were better off afterwards—even if the therapy was not effective in changing their sexual orientation.Holding sexual reorientation therapy to a standard of 100 percent effectiveness together with zero risk is so unreasonable as to be irrational.Therefore, I hope it is clear to everyone in this body that the purpose of this bill is not to protect anyone’s physical or psychological health. The real purpose is to impose an ideology, and outlaw a desire—the desire that some individuals, including some minors, unquestionably have to overcome unwanted same-sex attractions and abstain from same-sex sexual relationships.That is not the business of this legislature.
In a recent column for The Daily Signal, Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) makes a striking observation about the current unease that has infused our society:...[M]any Americans—poor, middle class, and wealthy—feel that something is amiss. It is a feeling that cannot be reduced to economic anxiety. Rather, there is a sense that our social fabric is fraying.And these concerns are reflected in objective measures of family and community health.To cite just a few of the trends that may be grouped under the rubric of “social capital”: marriage and churchgoing have declined, distrust of the nation’s institutions has grown, mixed-income neighborhoods have become rarer, regional polarization has increased, and young men who are neither working nor looking for work have become more numerous and more isolated.We do less together than in the past, and we are worse off for it, economically and otherwise...“We do less together than in the past…” This insight hits on a deep need that all human beings share: a sense of belonging. We all have the innate desire to be needed and to belong in a community. To accomplish this, human beings need to be together. This seems painfully obvious, but as Mike Lee observed, our society has seen a decline in two of the primary institutions that foster “togetherness”: marriage and churchgoing.The benefits of marriage to individuals and to society as a whole are incalculable, but let’s focus on the particular power of marriage to bring people together. When a man and a woman marry, they are participating in something far beyond themselves. This is most apparent in the wedding celebration itself, which attracts family and friends from far and wide who gather in one place to rejoice in the mysterious union of two people. This union stretches far beyond the wedding day, however—from that day forward, two wholly separate families are now forever joined to each other “in law.” Marriage, therefore, brings people together in a truly unique and profound way, creating an “extended family” even beyond the newly minted immediate family.While there are countless jokes that can be made about the drudgeries of “in-laws,” there is no disputing that marriage forges new familial bonds that last a lifetime, providing husbands and wives with both the trials and joys of having a larger family than they did before marriage. This in turn creates new networks of opportunity for “togetherness,” whether it be through expanded family reunions that yield new friendships and shared passions, or new job opportunities that are made possible through extended family businesses. In the same way, marriage creates a whole new network of friends and acquaintances for the bride and groom, who each essentially have the size of their social circle doubled.The church provides the other great venue for bringing people together. Houses of worship will forever draw us to them because of the God-sized hole in our hearts—the innate desire to reach beyond ourselves and give thanks to our Creator for giving us the gift of life and every blessing in it, and for the ability to belong to a body of believers that gives us a particular identity as sons and daughters of Christ. Furthermore, churches provide avenues for ministering to one another in both practical and spiritual ways, whether it be hosting soup kitchens and clothing drives for the needy, hosting fundraisers for a family affected by tragedy, prison ministry, running youth groups and Bible studies, and on and on. In short, a church is a place where anyone can come and feel like they belong to a community and where they can find a helping hand when in need, either physically or spiritually.The overarching point here is this: when we are brought together in genuine and deeply rooted ways, we find true fulfilment. Marriage and the church are the primary institutions of permanence in society that provide this union of persons. God, after all, is a union of Three Persons. When we are in communion with each other, we grow in virtue. Therefore, when we as a culture diminish and abandon these institutions, we deny our intrinsic human need to belong, and we miss out on the resulting opportunities to grow in virtue by ministering to our fellow man. So let us champion marriage and the church as the great forgers of “togetherness,” and therefore of human flourishing.
The following are remarks by Travis Weber, Director of the Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council, to the congregation of Faith Church in Budapest, Hungary (following the conclusion of the World Congress of Families and Budapest Family Summit) on May 27, 2017.Köszönöm (Thank you). Jó estét (Good evening).That’s all the Hungarian you’re going to get out of me!But seriously, it’s a joy to be here, and this place is near and dear to my heart. I have a good friend who is married to a woman from Hungary and I visited here last summer, it is a great place.My name is Travis Weber, I work with an organization in Washington D.C., in the United States, called the Family Research Council. We are a Christian organization—a non-governmental organization—working to advance the Christian worldview in public policy, law, and culture.I’m going to talk to you about my work, specifically on the issue of religious freedom—protecting the right of Christians and other people to live out their faith freely. But I’m also going to encourage you as a Christian participating in the public life of your nation how to stand strong for Christ. Because although I’m only from the United States, I only speak English; I’ve never lived in Hungary. We have these differences, but we have the most important thing in common: we both follow the Lord Jesus Christ. This is what defines us, this defines our identity. Our identity in Jesus Christ is the most important thing about us wherever we are. So even as I talk to you about religious freedom I want to encourage you to use your religious freedom here where God has placed you. You are placed uniquely by God where you are, to do things that I cannot do, but you can do, and God has assigned for you to do. So I want you to remember that: remember to stand strong for Christ and remember that God has assigned you a special task to live for him here in Hungary.So, in thinking about religious freedom and how we stand strong for Christ and how that plays out, I’m going to talk a little bit about how we protect that at the Family Research Council.We should think of religious freedom as a human right for all people. Because we are created in the image of God, all human beings have the right to freely choose their religion and live that out. There should be no coercion in forcing people to choose one thing or the other. People should be free to choose how they will worship.In the United States, historically, our law has been very strongly protective of religious freedom. But you don’t need only a law, you need strong cultural support for the idea too. Unless you have strong legal protections and support within the culture—within the hearts and minds of people—religious freedom ultimately will suffer. So, we aim to protect and advance religious freedom in all these areas.Similarly, around the world, people are suffering because of their religious beliefs and we are seeking to protect their human right to live out their religious faith as they see fit. We should remember that we do this as Christians because all people are created in the image of God.One of the primary areas we are seeing this suffering now is in the area of conflict between individual sexual liberty and Christianity. In the United States, huge segments of the culture have bought into the idea that we are ultimately living for ourselves, ultimately living to live out our sexual fulfillment according to how we define it and that’s what guides our lives. This idea is directly in conflict with orthodox historic Christian truth. It is producing all sorts of conflicts and fractures within United States society.So even though we have had freedom in the past, if we do not fight for it now we will lose it. It is up to Christians across the United States to stand up in the public square and proclaim truth, with love, and defend their beliefs. But many people, as they see these things develop, are afraid of being called names, of being ostracized, of being called “haters.”As fellow Christians, we should stop and pause and look at Christians being persecuted around the world. We can look at Christians in the Middle East: I know of a pastor in Lebanon who was threatened with death at the point of a gun yet he stayed strong for Christ. He would not stop sharing the Gospel and he faced down the shooter and dared him to shoot. He was willing to die for Christ and for the Gospel. He was not afraid. When we look at that, as Christians in the United States, and then we come back to our own situation and we see people calling us names and marginalizing and ostracizing us, it just doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. The point is not that we try to brush if off and say there is no problem, but rather we rely on the power of Christ and the witness of these Christians around the world to say: yes, we will stand for Christ with you. This enables us to say: it’s okay to suffer for declaring the truth of the Gospel.You may have some of these situations coming to Hungary. I encourage you as one from the United States, but first and foremost as a brother to you in Christ, to stand strong for Christ and for the Gospel. For our identity ultimately comes from Christ, not what other people think or say about us. For God has already proven his love for us by sending his son to die for us.Therefore, we needn’t worry about anyone else. And as we go through challenges and face obstacles and opposition, at times it is difficult, but we know Christ is always there with us. Our witness matters. At times people may not be persuaded by our argument, but they are ultimately persuaded by our witness and the way that we stand for Christ. And as you talk about these cultural issues, issues of sexuality, there are opportunities to share the Gospel within them.So I want to bless you and encourage you to stand strong for God as you face the issues that may lie ahead in the future. No matter whether things bring hardship and difficulty and it seems like, “God, where are you?” Or, whether things are easy and you see God showing up day to day.And I’m just going to say a quick closing prayer:Lord God, I ask for your presence and power to be with Faith Church, as Faith Church and the body here and the members of Faith Church live out their lives for you here in Hungary. We ask for the power of your Holy Spirit to be with this place and your hand to be on it, guiding it into your truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Caitlin Flanagan is an insightful contributing editor and writer for The Atlantic. She values the place of hearth and home in all our lives and defends housewifery while not being a social conservative in today’s parlance. For example, in 2006 she published a book, To Hell with All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife. Flanagan is a contrarian who draws the ire of many feminists and is clearly not considered part of the group. Even though she announced her inability to vote for Hillary Clinton because she believed the Bill Clinton rape victim stories, she is not a Republican.Now, a hard-core feminist attorney and well-known writer, Jill Filipovic, has written a new book, The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness, and Flanagan has written a review of it in The Washington Post.Apparently, Filipovic had hewed the standard feminist disdain for traditional male-female relationship dynamics. Flanagan gives her a little grief after revealing a big change in Filipovic’s life—she found a man: But reader: There’s a plot twist. It turns out that Jill Fil[i]povic — feminist, badass, rejecter of all that is conventional — is . . . engaged! “I had never been so immediately drawn to someone or felt myself so eager to talk to someone,” she tells us of her new love, and she embarked upon “a love affair unlike anything I had experienced.” It turns out that he has a big, important job in Africa, and — screw feminism! — she packed her bags and followed him. It’s bliss: “He is sometimes the only person I talk to in the course of a day” — and she loves it. “There is a long list of reasons I would marry him,” she confides chattily, queen bee at the Tri Delt pajama party. “As far as individual days go,” she hopes her wedding will be “one of the happiest.” She even starts firing off some of the most socially conservative facts this side of CPAC: “Women report higher levels of sexual satisfaction when they’re in monogamous relationships,” and couples “have more sex than their unmarried counterparts.” Whose side is she on, anyway?Flanagan further observes, “The truth is that there is great value in what she is doing.” That is, risking one’s career path to follow and be with the person one loves, then “making a lifelong commitment to him or her, establishing a home together that protects you both from the buffeting and heartless forces of the marketplace—those are sustaining and nourishing choices.”Flanagan concludes with this:The author spent two years criss-crossing the country in search of the key to female happiness, but it turns out she was wearing the ruby slippers all along. It’s like Jim Dobson and Ted Cruz teamed up to write a movie. What are you gonna do? There’s no place like home.I also recommend this review of Filipovic’s book at National Review by Alexandra DeSanctis. She summarizes the strengths and weaknesses in H-Spot this way: “What’s perhaps most interesting about the book is Filipovic’s ability to correctly identify issues that prey uniquely on modern women—single motherhood, sexual assault and domestic violence, eating disorders, the hyper-sexualization of advertisements and the resulting objectification of women—and yet to so completely miss the mark on the causes of and solutions to these ailments.”At the end of the day, Flanagan provides, in her examination of Filipovic’s present life, that the modern Left’s feminist worldview doesn’t comport with male and female reality. It often presents a self-defeating ethic that seeks a lowest common denominator existence by spurning “patriarchal” institutions like marriage and family. Filipovich previously rejected the norms of marriage, but she seems to have her ideological predilections subverted, at least temporarily, by a nobler vision of life. She has stumbled into a deeper truth: that we human beings were created for deep and loving relationships. First in the union of male and female in marriage, and then in our eternal relationship with God.
The following are remarks by Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at Family Research Council, to the congregation of Faith Church in Budapest, Hungary (following the conclusion of the World Congress of Families and Budapest Family Summit) on May 27, 2017.Good evening.Family Research Council is a Christian organization that seeks to influence public policy. Our office is in Washington, D.C., halfway between the White House and the Capitol building—a very strategic location.Like other organizations involved in the World Congress of Families:We believe in defending the right to life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death;We believe in marriage being defined as the union of one man and one woman;We believe that such a marriage is the only appropriate context for sexual relations;We believe that such a marriage is the ideal environment for raising children;And we believe in religious liberty for all.Now, those of us who speak out as Christians on public policy issues are sometimes accused of violating a principle known as “the separation of church and state.” This actual phrase does not appear in our national constitution, but it is a traditional American principle if it’s correctly understood and correctly defined.The separation of church and state means a separation of the institutions and offices of the church from the institutions and offices of the state. It means a person who becomes a pastor or a bishop does not automatically get power in the government, and a person who takes an office in the government does not gain any power over the church.But it does not mean a complete separation of God and government, and it does not mean we must completely separate our faith from public policy.The classic biblical text on this subject is the story of when Jesus was asked if people should pay taxes to the Roman government (Matthew 22:15-22). He replied, “Give to Caesar [the emperor] what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”This was a very clever answer by Jesus. He showed respect for the government by saying people should pay their taxes. But he showed respect for God by saying there are some things we owe to God which government cannot touch.I heard a sermon once that suggested another way to view this story, though. The preacher pointed out that Jesus held up the coin that was used to pay the tax, and he said to give it to Caesar because it had Caesar’s image on it.However, this pastor asked, whose image is on Caesar? Caesar, like every human being, was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). So while we have a responsibility to government, each of us—and everyone in the government—has a higher responsibility to God, because we bear his image.Sometimes, we are accused of not respecting the human rights or human dignity of those with whom we disagree. But the very concept of human rights and human dignity is rooted in the fact that we are created in the image of God.And sometimes we are accused of hating our opponents. We must guard against this. The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and that includes all our neighbors.But love does not require that we affirm or celebrate every behavior people choose to engage in. Love requires that we call people to live their very best life. For most people, that means to save sex until marriage; to marry a person of the opposite sex; to build a family based on that marriage; and to remain married for a lifetime. And of course, it means calling them to accept the good news of Jesus Christ.This is not hate, this is love.I add my thanks to the people of Hungary, of Budapest, to the Hungarian government, and to Pastor Sandor and Faith Church for all your hospitality.May God bless you, and your country, and may God bless all of our marriages and our families.Thank you.
Dear Friends,Self-professed atheists like Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins often say that Christianity is an absurd religion that believes in things like “talking snakes.” While it’s lamentable that Maher and Dawkins feel the need to take Scripture passages out of context to prop up straw man arguments, I often wonder what they would say in response to profound Christian witness that gets to the heart of why our faith is the Truth.I came across an example of this kind of witness recently from Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P., who makes this penetrating insight about the nature of our God and how He conforms to the natural desires of our hearts:If you look into your heart and consider the kind of god you deem ideal, what you come up with is Jesus. Given the chance to custom order the divinity who best satisfies the desires of our heart, we would design a deity tender and compassionate, whose joy was to accompany us as a friend in our earthly travails. We would want a god infinitely wise, eager to teach us the things we need to know in order for life to be filled with meaning and joy. We would insist on a god who was merciful and ever swift to forgive our sins… one with a special preference for the poor and the needy. We would want a god of perfect peace, promising happiness, blessing us with hope… one who was extravagantly generous and totally giving of self. We would want a god who was in love with us.But, in fact, when we meet such a man in Jesus Christ, we can’t help but to respond the way people in the Gospel do: Where did this man get all this? Don’t we know his father and mother? Isn’t this the son of the carpenter? Which means that the automatic impulse when we meet Jesus Christ is to presume that what makes him so unique and exceptional—unlike anyone else we have ever met—is his Father.The Son of God exposes our presumption: You know me and also know where I am from. Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true (Jn 7:28). The more we gaze upon Jesus Christ in all his ineffable goodness, the more we are compelled to cry with Philip, Show us the Father (Jn 14:8). (Excerpted from Magnificat, Vol. 19, No. 4 / June 2017, p. 3-4)May we be forever grateful to our amazing God, who consummately fulfills our truest human desire for a perfect Father.Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council FRC ArticlesSecretary Mattis: Focus on War-Fighting, Ditch the Social Engineering – Lt. Gen. Jerry BoykinMaxine Waters: The Left’s Best Against Donald Trump? – Ken BlackwellRolling Thunder, ‘Missing Man’ tables and the Bible – Lt. Gen. Jerry BoykinDemocrat Outreach to Pro-Lifers Will Take More Than Talk – Tony PerkinsNew Research Shows “Adult-Like” Nerves in Very Young Embryos: Affirming the Likelihood of Fetal Pain – Arina GrossuHungarian Megachurch a Model of Salt and Light in Europe – Peter SpriggBudapest Family Summit Explores Ways to Revitalize the Family – Peter SpriggA Fitting Tribute to Memorial Day – Chris GacekFRC’s Arina Grossu Speaks at New D.C. Abortion Business Operated by Controversial Abortionist – Arina Grossu“Blasphemy Laws” Violate Religious Liberty – Travis WeberEmotionally Manipulative Videos Can’t Save Planned Parenthood – Dan Hart Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareVICTORY: Court affirms Christian’s right to refuse in good faith to make ‘LGBT Pride’ shirts – Peter LaBarbera, LifeSiteNewsRage at Rubio’s Bible Tweets: More Evidence of Troubling Bias Against Christians – John Zmirak, The StreamSheriff Ordered to Remove ‘Blessed are the Peacemakers’ Decals – Todd Starnes, The StreamUndercover Planned Parenthood Video Removed from YouTube at Judge’s Order – Alexandra DeSanctis, National ReviewParents Sue San Diego School District Over ‘Initiative to Combat Islamophobia’ – Heather Clark, Christian NewsWhite House Acts to Roll Back Birth-Control Mandate for Religious Employers – Robert Pear, The New York TimesInternational Religious FreedomThe continuing tragedy of Egypt’s Coptic Christians – Samuel Tadros, The Washington PostTrump Should Adopt an International Religious-Freedom Policy with Teeth – Tina Ramirez, National ReviewWives of Chinese torture victims beg Congress for help – June Cheng, WORLD5 Ways to give persecuted Christians help beyond the hashtag – David Mills, AleteiaIndia Arrests Christians for Taking Kids to Bible Camp – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post LifeAbortionWhy The Latest Planned Parenthood Video Is A Breakthrough – Becky Visosky, The FederalistPlanned Parenthood’s Main Abortion Clinic Has Injured 4 Women in Botched Abortions Already This Year – Cheryl Sullenger, Life NewsPlanned Parenthood to Close Three Abortion Clinics in California – Micaiah Bilger, LifeNewsNew law may force pro-life groups to hire abortion activists – Fr. Mark Hodges, LifeSiteNewsUndercover Video Exposes Deep Contradiction at the Heart of Planned Parenthood – Jay Hobbs, The Daily SignalPlanned Parenthood’s newly released annual report shows abortions have increased – again – Susan Michelle-Hanson, Live ActionAdoptionWhy women aren’t choosing adoption – and how pro-lifers can change that – Matt Hadro, CruxTexas Adoption Law Could Jumpstart Christian Agencies Again – Kate Shellnutt, Christianity TodayIllinois Purges Social Workers and Foster Families Who Don't 'Facilitate Transgenderism' – Mary Hasson, The FederalistBioethicsCreating babies from skin cells turns procreation into transaction: scientist – Maggie Maslak, CAN/EWTN NewsTime for a "Populist" Bioethics Commission – Wesley J. Smith, First ThingsThe Dangerous Advance on Assisted Suicide You Probably Haven't Heard About – Bobby Schindler, NewsBustersPope Francis Cautions Against Dangers of Genetic Manipulation That Can Create 'Super Humans' – Felix N. Codilla, The Christian PostObamacareMcConnell steps into Obamacare firing line – Burgess Everett and Jennifer Haberkorn, PoliticoMcConnell faces a challenge passing health care in Senate – Alan Fram, Associated Press FamilyEconomics/EducationDeliver Us from iPads – Heather Wilhelm, National ReviewWhat Exactly Are Christian Schools Selling (or Marketing)? – Robert F. Davis, The Christian PostMany Women Want Careers That Are Compatible with Raising Children – Naomi Schaefer Riley, Family StudiesThe Closing of the American Mind Thirty Years Later: A Symposium – Nathan Schlueter, Public DiscourseDo-It-Yourself Biology – Deacon James H. Toner, CrisisObama’s regulations in 2016 to drain economy by $2 trillion – David Sherfinski, The Washington TimesMarriageDelaying Marriage and Parenthood – John Stonestreet and Roberto Rivera, BreakPointStudy: Growing Number of Millennials Believe in Traditional Gender RolesThe Surprising Link Between Broken Families And America’s Opioid Crisis – Tamás Ungar, The FederalistWhat The New York Times Gets Wrong About Marriage, Health, and Well-Being – Tyler J. VanderWeele, Family StudiesFaith/Character/CultureTo Repair Our Fractured Republic, Get To Know Your Neighbors – Gracy Olmstead, The FederalistThe Kids Are Not Okay—and Neither Is America – Collin Hansen, The Gospel CoalitionAnne With an E Trades Realism for ‘Realism’ – Esther O’Reilly, The StreamVideo: On Pride, Humility, and Social Media – Bp. Robert Barron, Word On FireAmerica’s Social Fabric Is Eroding. Government Must Avoid Feeding the Problem. – Sen. Mike Lee, The Daily SignalHuman SexualityNevada governor signs bill to ban conversion therapy, with exemption for religious organizations – Chandrika Narayan, Fox 13What’s at Stake in the Left’s Effort to Redefine ‘Sex’ in Pennsylvania Law – Michael Geer, The Daily SignalMen and Women Are Not the Same – Alastair Roberts, The Gospel CoalitionWhat’s in a Name? Why Christians Should Be Wary of the Word "Transgender" – Andrew T. Walker, Public DiscourseWhy the New York Times Now Favors Adultery – Austin Ruse, CrisisHuman TraffickingNew Human Trafficking Foundation May Support Abortion and Prostitution – Austin Ruse, C-FamA vulnerable approach to ending human trafficking – Raleigh Sadler, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionPornography5 Steps for Finding Freedom From Porn and Masturbation – Alice Neaves, The Christian Post5 Reasons Satan loves pornography – Tom Hoopes, AleteiaChris Rock Gets Real About 'Damaging Affects' of Porn – Jeannie Law, The Christian PostWhy Fighting Sex Trafficking Absolutely Involves Fighting Pornography – Karen Countryman-Roswurm, Fight the New DrugFighting the New Drug: Pornography – Sue Haggerty, Catholic Digest
On Thursday, May 25th, pro-family leaders from around the world gathered in the capital of Hungary for what local organizers have dubbed the “Budapest Family Summit.” Day One of the event was the second “Budapest Demographic Forum”—a focus on the demographic issues of declining birth and fertility rates which are plaguing virtually all of the world’s developed countries, including Europe. Despite long-discredited theories about the dangers of over-population, the real crisis of the West is declining population—especially as other countries (including the Muslim world) continue to grow. The event continued Friday and Saturday with the latest World Congress of Families. Family Research Council is being represented by myself and Senior Fellow Travis Weber.One unique aspect of the Budapest summit, in comparison with other World Congress of Families events, is that the Hungarian government itself is a principal sponsor. Katalin Novak, Hungary’s Minister of State for Family, Youth, and International Affairs, is the event’s chief organizer and host.Furthermore, the highlight of Thursday’s kickoff session was an address by the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, who returned to Budapest from the NATO leaders summit in Brussels in time to address the Forum. Orban is the dynamic and sometimes controversial leader of Hungary’s governing center-right coalition (he was the subject of a major profile in Politico last year). In 2015, he closed Hungary’s southern border to a flood of illegal immigrants from the south. Orban is also unashamedly pro-family—when his coalition was large enough to amend the country’s constitution, one provision they added was to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.In his address to the Demographic Summit today, Orban did not hesitate to link the issues of immigration and family in the context of the “competition of civilizations.” He bluntly warned that Europe, with its declining population, is “old, rich, and weak,” while the growing countries around it are “young, poor, and strong”—making the likely direction of population flows obvious.Yet while some people suggest that the West should welcome immigrants precisely as a solution to its population woes, Orban bluntly rejected that option, saying that the countries of Central Europe, including Hungary, prefer the “renewal of our own resources.”Toward that end, he declared that 2018 will be “the Year of Families” in Hungary, and announced a goal of raising Hungary’s fertility rate (the average number of children borne by a woman in her lifetime) to 2.1 (considered the “replacement” level necessary to maintain a stable population) by 2030.One notable characteristic at international gatherings like this is that in Europe, even conservative governments are more likely to see government intervention and incentives as a solution to family issues, while in the United States, most pro-family conservatives are also supporters of a free market and limited government, and therefore are more skeptical of government intervention. Orban, for example, proposed to write off student loans and offer subsidies for mortgage payments for families with three or more children. He also proposed building more child-care facilities for the benefit of working parents—although American pro-family activists generally prefer policies that might make it easier for parents to care for their own children at home.It should be noted that several speakers made clear that the intention is not for government to dictate how many children people should have or to punish those who choose not to become parents. However, surveys regarding how many children people would like to have consistently show that the number is higher than the number they actually have. So the goal of pro-natal policy is not to make people have children they don’t want, but to clear away obstacles that may prevent them from having as many children as they do want.In addition to Orban and several other government officials from Hungary and other European countries, speakers at the Forum included former FRC staffers like Pat Fagan of MARRI and Allan Carlson.Stay tuned for further updates from Budapest.

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