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What do an Austrian woman, an Indonesian Buddhist, and a Pakistani couple all have in common? In the past year, all of them were taken to court and found guilty of blasphemy laws in their respective countries.According to Family Research Council’s newly updated publication, Criminalizing Conscience: The Status of Apostasy, Blasphemy, and Anti-conversion Laws Around the World: “Blasphemy laws generally prohibit insults to religion… in many Muslim-majority countries, they are often abused when allegations of blasphemy are made against religious minorities—often with no evidence—to settle unrelated disputes and vendettas.”In 2018, an Austrian woman offered two seminars on Islam. She presented facts about the Prophet Mohammed’s life, including his marriage to an underage child. Soon after, she was convicted of blasphemy due to her “derogatory” remarks. The European Court of Human Rights refused to overturn the conviction, deferring to the Austrian courts’ judgment that her actions were “capable of arousing justified indignation.” However, even humanists agree that the case sets a bad precedent for Europe.Indonesia has recently made great strides toward becoming a moderate Muslim nation. But blasphemy laws remain a problem. In 2018, a Buddhist woman was convicted of blasphemy after asking a nearby mosque to lower the volume of its speakers broadcasting the call to prayer. The Indonesian Supreme Court rejected her appeal in April 2019. She was paroled one month later.In a particularly extreme case, an illiterate Pakistani couple, Shagufta and Shafqat, were arrested after a Muslim cleric claimed he had received a blasphemous text message from Shagufta’s phone. Authorities charged both Shagufta and Shafqat with “insulting the Qur’an” and “insulting the Prophet.” These crimes are punishable by life imprisonment and death, respectively. However, the texts they are accused of sending were in English, and the impoverished couple is illiterate, unable to text in English or their native Urdu. The couple remains imprisoned on death row, separated from each other and their four children. A recent report from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan found that, as of December 2019, at least 17 people were on death row after being convicted on blasphemy charges.Amid such dire human rights violations around the world, President Donald Trumpprioritized religious freedom in his administration, going as far as to make international religious freedom an issue ofnational security.FRC President Tony Perkins has also been a consistent advocate of religious minorities who have fallen victim to religious persecution. In 2018, Perkins was in Izmir, Turkey, representing the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) at the trial for Pastor Andrew Brunson. He traveled with Brunson back to the U.S. upon the pastor’s release. Perkins was at Pastor Brunson’s side as he prayed for President Trump in the Oval Office within hours of reentering the United States.From the very beginning, FRC has worked alongside the Trump administration to promote faith, family, and freedom, including religious freedom. On October 30, 2020, President Trump signed an executive order on Advancing International Religious Freedom, declaring religious freedom protection as both a domestic and foreign policy priority. The order dedicates $50 million for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to fund programs that promote and defend religious freedoms abroad.The global community must come to terms with the human rights abuses that have been inflicted on religious minorities all over the world. Although the persecuted belong to various faiths, Christians remain the most heavily persecuted religious minority in the world.Americans believe that freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech are God-given, unalienable rights. In contrast, a great majority of the world’s governments do not hold the same beliefs. At a time when the voices of so many oppressed religious minorities are being snuffed out, Family Research Council is determined to amplify its effort to promote religious freedom in the U.S. and around the world.To learn more about blasphemy laws and other laws that threaten the fundamental right to religious freedom, check out FRC’s publication, Criminalizing Conscience.Rachel Nicole is an intern focusing on international religious freedom with the Center for Religious Liberty in FRC’s Policy & Government Affairs Department.
Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:1. Update: Trump Team Looks at Cause and ElectIn courtrooms across the country, the Trump campaign fights on. Whether his efforts will be enough to save his presidency, no one knows. But could they save an election system bogged down by doubts and questions? That, in the long run, may be just as important.2. Update: Radical ’Heroes Act’ Is a Leftist Wish-ListThe Left has recently called for the passage of the Heroes Act—an act Democrats are labeling simply as coronavirus relief legislation. But, this $2-$3 trillion bill goes beyond being a relief package. The Heroes Act is serving as a trojan horse for progressive legislation that foolishly uses taxpayer dollars and undermines pro-life and pro-family values.3. Blog: 4 Disturbing Trends in Religious Freedom WorldwideA new report released by the Pew Research Center has found that there has been a 50 percent increase in government restrictions on religion across the globe between 2007 and 2018, the most recent year studied. Such a drastic number indicates that religious freedom is on a rapid downward spiral.4. Blog: Nagorno-Karabakh Survivors: “My Home Is in Ruins. I Have Nothing Left”Currently, there is a terrible war in Nagorno-Karabakh, a community of Christians residing in an historic Armenian enclave. Their homeland was invaded in late September by neighboring Azerbaijan, a majority Muslim country. This invasion broke a 1994 cease-fire between the two countries. But to make matters worse, in this latest attack, Turkey seems to have encouraged if not inspired the assault.5. Washington Watch: Dr. Albert Mohler Previews Biden’s War on Christian Institutions in the Name of ‘Equality'Dr. Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the Human Rights Campaign demanding that a Biden administration deny accreditation to Christian colleges and schools.6. Washington Watch: Senator Lindsey Graham Discusses the Big Tech Hearings in the U.S. SenateLindsey Graham, U.S. Senator from South Carolina and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the Big Tech hearings in the U.S. Senate.7. Pray Vote Stand broadcast: A Time of PrayerOn this edition of Pray Vote Stand, Tony welcomed Eric Metaxas, Michele Bachmann, and Rep. Jody Hice to lead in a special time of prayer for our nation.
“Traveling by road into Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria’s northeast, has become one of the most dangerous journeys on earth.” So begins an alarming and timely Wall Street Journal article about ever-encroaching violence in Nigeria, Africa’s largest country and most powerful financial center. Writer Joe Parkinson describes four primary highways that lead into that northern Nigerian city, once known as “Home of Peace.” Along those roads some 200 people have been murdered in the past six months. Since its happier days, today Maiduguri is better known as the birthplace of Boko Haram, the brutal Islamist terrorist group.“The attacks are conducted by militants fighting for Boko Haram and a splinter group loyal to Islamic State,” Parkinson explains. “With each passing month they become more brazen, targeting civilians, aid workers, soldiers and even the state’s most powerful politicians.”And unlike most Western reporters, Parkinson notes that Christians are specifically targeted in these attacks. “Soldiers and Maiduguri residents who travel the roads say the extremists regularly erect mobile checkpoints, searching for Christians and government employees to kidnap for ransom or execute on the roadside.” Family Research Council’s 2020 report on Nigeria points out that although violence against Christian communities by Muslim attackers was recognized well before the founding of Boko Haram, it became much more intense and frequent after 2009, when the group’s founder, Mohammed Yusuf, was killed by Nigerian authorities. Subsequently the group—along with other smaller jihadi sects—became notably more deadly and dangerous. With this acceleration in recent years, verified reports of murders, rapes, mutilations, and kidnappings of Christians in Nigeria have persistently increased. These attacks are frequently accompanied by the torching of homes, churches, villages, and agricultural fields. A July 15, 2020 headline reported that 1,202 Nigerian Christians were killed in the first six months of 2020. This is in addition to 11,000 Christians who have been killed since June 2015. Such violence has reached a point at which expert observers and analysts are warning of a progressive genocide—a “slow-motion war” specifically targeting Christians across Africa’s largest and most economically powerful nation.In one well-known incident, a 14-year-old Christian girl was abducted by Boko Haram in February 2018. Leah Sharibu has been in captivity ever since. Leah and her classmates were rounded up during an attack on Dapchi, a small village in Yobe State. When Boko Haram shot its way into town, panic ensued, and everyone fled. Days later, once the scattered students had returned to their classes, a roll call revealed that 110 girls were missing— including Leah.Although the Muslim girls who survived the attack were eventually released, Leah refused to deny her Christian faith. She remains in captivity to this day, enslaved and reportedly having given birth to the child of one of her captors. She continues to be the focus of worldwide prayer.Meanwhile, Boko Haram isn’t the only group attacking Christians. Another group, known as Fulani herdsmen or tribesmen, have been slaughtering entire Christian communities during increasingly frequent attacks in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region. Yet—despite their obvious targeting of churches, Christian communities, pastors, and seminary students—some scholars, analysts and, unfortunately, even U.S. authorities refuse to recognize the religious nature of numerous attacks and attackers.Paul Marshall, Senior Fellow for Religious Freedom at Hudson Institute writes:While there is some recognition of the primary, self-declared, religious mission of Boko Haram and the numerous ISIS and Al Qaeda affiliates that have made West Africa the world center of terrorism, there is still widespread resistance to recognition of the religious nature of attacks by Fulani tribesmen on predominantly Christian villages, people and churches In her July 17, 2019, confirmation hearing, U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Mary Beth Leonard referred to the carnage in the Middle Belt of Nigeria as “banditry and inter-communal conflict” and “escalating farmer-herder and inter-communal conflict frequently based in resource competition, but enflamed by conflation of ethnic and religious overlays.”Abraham Cooper and Johnnie Moore, in their book The Next Jihad: Stop the Christian Genocide in Africa describe a meeting they had in February 2020 with Amb. Leonard in which they discussed the possible religious aspects of the violence wracking the country. “She denied that it was at all about religion and described the conflict as ‘fundamentally a resource issue…. Religion was, according to Ambassador Leonard, only relevant as it served as a potential accelerant to conflict. She left us with the impression that people like us, by speaking up for victims of religious persecution, were part of the problem. We found this to be hugely alarming.” Some years ago, Paul Marshall, Roberta Ahmanson and I co-authored a book called Blind Spot: Why Journalists Don’t Get Religion. We learned that many—if not most—mainstream journalists are from very secular backgrounds, know little about faith, spiritual awareness, or devotion, and simply don’t see how religion deeply shapes culture and conduct in most of the world beyond the West.However, sad to say, it isn’t just journalists. A close look at many diplomats, intelligence officers, politicians, and academics exposes that they share that same blind spot with journalists.It is still remarkable, however, that although self-proclaimed jihadis slaughter Christians in their homes, churches, and fields, beheading them and shouting Allahu-Akbar as a victory cry, observers do not acknowledge the killers’ Islamist intensions. As we’ve seen in Nigeria, Iraq, Syria, and far beyond, the truth about anti-Christian violence is seldom disclosed, understood, or reported. It’s a blind spot for sure. And it’s a deadly one.
For the last two weeks, fallout from the election chaos has dominated the news cycle. Because of this, state and local initiatives have largely gone unnoticed. But two important laws were on the ballot in Colorado: (1) Proposition 115 and (2) a repeal of Denver’s pit bull ban.Proposition 115 was a state-wide initiative to ban late-term abortions throughout Colorado. If successful, it would have been illegal to commit an abortion in Colorado once an unborn child reaches 22 weeks gestation. Proposition 115 specified that committing an abortion on an unborn child who has reached at least 22 weeks gestation would be a misdemeanor and any abortionists who violated this law would be subjected to professional penalties including suspension of their medical license. Of course, the measure did exempt from prosecution the woman who underwent the abortion. It also allowed an abortion after 22 weeks gestation when the life of the mother was at risk. Despite scientific and philosophical support for banning these late-term abortions, Colorodans voted to continue the dangerous and deadly practice. In Denver, Colorado, another measure was in the hands of the citizenry. For 30 years, it has been illegal to own a pit bull in Denver. This law banning pit bulls resulted from several pit bull attacks in Colorado in the 1980s, and the stigma surrounding certain breeds including pit bulls. For years, pit bulls have been stigmatized as an inherently aggressive breed waiting to tear you limb from limb. However, the facts simply do not align with this myth. The National Geographic reports that there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that pit bulls are inherently aggressive and dangerous. Changing attitudes towards pit bulls combined with widespread initiatives to destigmatize the breed resulted in Denver’s decision to lift the ban on pit bulls. Personally, this author supports Denver’s decision to allow pit bulls. As a dog mom, it warms my heart to see dogs rescued, given a chance, or destigmatized. While I applaud the people of Denver’s decision to legalize pit bulls, I do find Colorado’s stance on human life and animal life troubling. An unborn child is viable somewhere around 22-24 weeks gestation. Neonatal medicine defines viability, “as the gestational age at which there is a 50% chance of survival with or without medical care.” Therefore, last week in Colorado, the voters elected to continue aborting viable babies while lifting a ban on pit bull ownership in Denver. Critics may claim I am comparing apples and oranges. Colorado is not populated by Denver alone. However, almost 6 million people live in Colorado, while almost 3 million people live in metro Denver. So it is safe to say that the attitudes of individuals in metro Denver represents the mindset of at least half of Colorado. With that in mind, let us return to the point of this article: the inherent worth of a child vs. the inherent worth of an animal.As a Christian, I believe both man and beast have value. However, man is worth so much more. Because humans are made in the image of God, we have inherent worth and dignity. Our value is so great, God sacrificed His holy and glorious Son and raised Him from the dead to purchase us from the grips of sin and death. While reflecting upon His creation, God deemed nature and its animals “good” while praising man as “very good.” No matter how much we try to devalue life in our society, men and women are inherently priceless and imbued with a dignity God did not bestow on any of His other creations.This is not to say we should be cruel to our animals. One of the wisdom books in the Bible espouses its readers, “the righteous care for the needs of their animals.” Therefore, according to God’s Word, one of the distinguishing features of a righteous person is the manner in which he treats animals. For this reason, I rejoice when another shelter dog is rescued, a dog fight organizer is prosecuted, and a pit bull is allowed to be loved.However, we cannot confuse our duty to properly care for animals with the inherent worth and dignity of our fellow man. After creating man, God exhorted Adam to have dominion over the animals God created. Abortion fundamentally rejects the dignity and worth of every human being. Instead of recognizing the humanity of every unborn child, we devalue and sacrifice our unborn children in the name of convenience, preference, and career advancement. As a society, we cannot continue down this path of devaluing human life. While we pat ourselves on the back for being progressive and rejecting the fallacious notion that certain dog breeds are inherently aggressive, let us not forget our fellow man. It is a well known fact that when an abortion is committed against a child around 22 weeks gestation, the abortionist’s preferred method of murder is dismemberment abortion (also known as D&E: dilation and evacuation abortion). Although Denver was correct to statutorily reject the idea that pit bulls inherently desire to tear humans limb from limb, Colorado was wrong to leave unborn infants vulnerable to abortionists who tear these innocent children limb from limb.Sadly, I believe the prophetic words of G.K Chesterton have been realized, “Wherever there is animal worship there is human sacrifice.” Let us reverse this trend of human sacrifice. Let us honor our Creator by protecting His creation: both animal and human. While enjoying the companionship of our furry friends, we should continue to recognize the inherent worth and dignity of each human individual—born and unborn.Mary Jayne Caum works in State & Local Affairs at Family Research Council.
A report released last week by the Pew Research Center has found that there has been a 50 percent increase in government restrictions on religion across the globe between 2007 and 2018, the most recent year studied. Such a drastic number indicates that religious freedom is on a rapid downward spiral.This is troubling, and it presents a myriad of security, economic, and human rights challenges for the millions of people who live under governments that are tightening restrictions on peaceful religious practices. For world leaders and advocates to successfully begin addressing these issues, it is critical to understand what is happening around the world and what is driving increasing attacks on religious freedom.Pew’s extensive survey reveals a lot about what religious believers are enduring around the world—both from governments and from social hostilities. Here are four take-aways from Pew’s new report:1. Government restrictions on religion are rising in Asia.Asia and the Pacific had the biggest increase in the amount of government restrictions on religion in 2018. Pew researchers found that governments used force against religious believers and groups in 62 percent of countries in Asia and the Pacific, including detention, displacement, abuse, and killings.Asia is a worsening hotspot for religious persecution. Just in the last several years, China has started a campaign of mass detention of Uyghur Muslims, North Korea remains the world’s worst persecutor of Christians, and apostasy, blasphemy, and anti-conversion laws across Asia restrict individuals’ rights to choose and change their faith. These developments are all concerning and all deserve the world’s attention and advocacy.2. Authoritarian regimes pose the greatest threat to religious freedom.Perhaps unsurprisingly, Pew found a “strong association between authoritarianism and government restrictions on religion.” Around 65 percent of countries with very high government restrictions on religion have authoritarian governments. In contrast, no countries with very high government restrictions were classified as full democracies. 3. Three Middle Eastern countries have both the highest levels of government restrictions and social hostility to religion.Egypt, Syria, and Iraq are the only three countries which were found to have both very high government restrictions and very high social hostilities toward religion in 2018. Targeted religious believers in these countries endure governments that impede their freedom to practice their faith and face private groups or individuals that regularly harass or abuse them. This is a deadly combination, and it is indicative of the severe challenges faced by believers throughout the entire Middle East. 4. Harassment due to religion remains high.Harassment due to religion occurs in 185 out of 198 countries—the vast majority of the world. While this is slightly down from the previous year, the number of countries where Christians experienced harassment rose slightly.Pew considers harassment to include everything from verbal abuse to physical violence and killings which are motivated because of a person’s religious identity. Christians and Muslims reportedly faced the most harassment for their faith worldwide. The region of the Middle East and North Africa is especially dangerous. In 2018, Christians in 19 out of the 20 total countries faced harassment by social groups or the government.Ultimately, it should be a wake-up call to the world that religious persecution is at the highest point it has been in the past 11 years when Pew began tracking it. Things are getting worse, not better. And that is tragic for millions of religious people around the world just trying to live out their faith. The persecuted—especially those living under highly restrictive authoritarian regimes—are often unable to speak up for themselves. It falls, then, to those of us in free societies to speak up on their behalf.
Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:1. Update: Media’s Early Call: Dancing on the Stealing?No one expected the media to play fair, but watching the networks declare Joe Biden the winner of a race that’s still unresolved in key states was not only difficult—but frustrating for fans of the democratic process. When all is said and done, Joe Biden may very well be the winner. But first we must make sure the rule of law was respected.2. Update: The Presidential Election: A Work in ProcessThere are about 100,000 votes out of 150 million cast deciding states like Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Nevada. If this were Joe Biden, trailing by such a small margin, we would be dealing with the exact same scenario—except for one thing. The media, ever eager to delegitimize Trump, would never have called the election.3. Blog: The Media Still Doesn’t Get It: Conservatives Tend to Vote ConservativeFour years after one of the most shocking presidential upsets in American history, and after another incredibly close election, the mainstream media still has not figured out why almost half of American voters filled in the oval for Donald Trump. The primary motivating factor is as plain as day: millions of Americans are conservative, and they voted for a president that has enacted conservative policies.4. Blog: Legitimizing Looting Jeopardizes Liberty for AllThe year 2020 will go down in history for a number of reasons, one of which will be the increase of protests, rioting, and looting following the tragic death of George Floyd. While some protestors have been authentically peaceful, others have resorted to destructive actions, which some argue “liberates societies from oppressive infrastructures.” Can that be right?5. Washington Watch: Matt Schlapp Highlights New Evidence of Voter FraudAre there legitimate claims of voter fraud? Matt Schlapp, president of American Conservative Union, joined Tony Perkins on Washington Watch to share what he saw on the ground in Nevada and the new evidence of fraud surfacing in Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.6. Washington Watch: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Discusses the World’s Reaction to America’s Election DramaSecretary of State Mike Pompeo joined Tony Perkins on Washington Watch to discuss the Trump administration’s religious freedom agenda, the latest on China, and the world’s reaction to America’s election drama.7. Pray Vote Stand broadcast: A Call to PrayerOn this edition of Pray Vote Stand, Tony welcomed Pastor Carter Conlon, Michele Bachmann, and Pastor Gary Hamrick to lead in a special time of prayer as we continue to pray for election transparency, honest public discussion, truth to prevail, and peace to reign throughout our nation.
For weeks, FRC has been closely tracking the terrible war in Nagorno-Karabakh, a community of some 150,000 Christians residing in an historic Armenian enclave. Their homeland was invaded in late September by neighboring Azerbaijan, a majority Muslim country. This invasion broke a 1994 peace treaty between the two countries. But to make matters worse, in this latest incursion, Turkey seems to have encouraged if not inspired the assault, providing massive military and financial support to the Azeris. Turkey’s Islamist President also transported thousands of Syrian mercenaries into the battle, more than a few of which were jihadis.Baroness Cox is a life peer in Britain’s House of Lords and a Christian human rights activist, whom I first met in 2003. We met in Nagorno-Karabagh, a place that has been dear to her heart since an earlier war in 1990-1994, in which she arranged to provide generous financial and material support for the beleaguered Armenian Christians there. Along with other friends, we traveled to the tiny enclave—locally known as Artsakh. There we heard the stories of community leaders, Armenian Orthodox clergy, soldiers, and everyday Christians about the terrible violence they endured in those early 1990s battles. Baroness Cox’s love for the people and the land was deeply moving.A few months after that trip, I was asked to write a biography of Baroness Cox’s work as a defender of human rights and persecuted Christians. Her efforts have spanned decades, spent in far-flung places like Poland, Russia, Burma, Nigeria, Indonesia, Sudan, and of course Nagorno-Karabakh. The book, Baroness Cox: Eyewitness to a Broken World, was released in London in 2007, and later that year in the United States. She and I remain in close touch, and I am in the process of writing a new, updated version of her book.Today, Baroness Cox is in Yerevan, Armenia, and I received the following press release from her yesterday morning, describing the terrible aftermath of this latest Nagorno-Karabakh war. Please pray for the people who are suffering there—many of whom have lost everything including their loved ones, their homes, and their hopes for the future.*** 12 November 2020 // For immediate release ‘MY HOME IS IN RUINS. I HAVE NOTHING LEFT’ BARONESS COX ALONGSIDE DISPLACED FAMILIES IN ARMENIA Civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh “hid under trees to escape aerial bombardments” with bodies “so destroyed” that DNA was needed to identify them, according to local witnesses who have been forced to flee their homes. A mother-of-four told Baroness Cox on Tuesday: “My husband, a firefighter, was killed in attacks by Azerbaijan. I escaped in a car with my kids. But my home is in ruins. I have nothing left.” She said: “His body was so destroyed that we needed DNA to identify him. Everything in the village has been stolen or demolished.”‘Evidence of torture and mutilations’One family – whose son, an Armenian soldier, was captured by Azeri forces – said: “His phone was stolen by his captors and they posted an image of his beheaded body and sent this to his own social media account for his own family and friends to see.”The same concerns were raised by the Armenian Human Rights Ombudsman, Arman Tatoyan, who told Baroness Cox: “We have video evidence of torture and mutilations. Civilians and POWs are humiliated by their captors. Azerbaijan have returned 29 military bodies and few civilians – DNA was needed to identify four bodies. But it refuses to provide the list of current prisoners (30 now known, but there is likely many more) and continues to withhold information and access to prisoners from the Red Cross.”A fragile peace?Meanwhile, concerns remain over the fragility of Monday’s peace deal, which was brokered by Russia and agreed by Azerbaijan and Armenia.Before the ceasefire was agreed, Azerbaijan targeted civilian infrastructure including hospitals, schools, homes, churches and electricity and water supplies. Supported by Turkey, its military forces reportedly deployed cluster bombs, heavy artillery and phosphorous – contrary to international law – with widespread evidence of torture, mutilation, humiliation and killings. Emergency aid Baroness Cox arranged an emergency visit to Armenia to take aid to HART (Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust) partners and to show solidarity with the Armenian people as they seek to hold their frontline of faith and freedom. She said: “Given the past and recent history, the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh justifiably fear the possibility of ethnic cleansing. Despite Monday’s ceasefire, reports continue to emerge of brutality inflicted on military and civilian prisoners, including torture and beheadings, with claims that equivalent brutalities have been perpetrated by jihadists who receive payment for every Armenian beheaded. “We are told that, when Azeris kill or capture any Armenians, they take over their social media accounts and send pictures of dismembered, decapitated bodies to their mothers and wives. It is impossible to fathom the suffering inflicted on these women, waiting to hear from their husbands, brothers or sons, and not knowing what might come to their phone. “We hope – and pray – that the ceasefire will bring an end to the military offensives by Azerbaijan, that the people of Nagorno-Karabakh will be able to re-build their lives, and that peace will prevail. But as the crisis continues to unfold, Nagorno-Karabakh’s rightful claim to self-determination must be supported by the international community as an urgent priority.” HART remains committed to providing advocacy and aid for our partners in Nagorno-Karabakh, continuing to support our valiant partner Vardan Tadevosyan’s work with people with disabilities.
The year 2020 will go down in history for a number of reasons, including a divisive presidential election, a global pandemic, and high levels of unemployment. It will also be remembered for an increase in civil unrest—numerous American cities were the scene of protests, rioting, and looting following the tragic death of George Floyd on May 25. While some protestors have been authentically peaceful, others have resorted to destructive actions such as burning down buildings, vandalizing, and looting and damaging storefronts.Vicky Osterweil’s book, In Defense of Looting: A Riotous History of Uncivil Action, was published in August—just three months after the unrest sparked by Floyd’s death began. Osterweil says looting liberates societies from oppressive infrastructures set up by white males—namely, capitalism and the police force—and believes looting is only illegal because it is effective.Osterweil is wrong. Looting does not liberate society; it jeopardizes liberty.The Subversion of the Law, Police, Capitalism, and MLKOsterweil alleges that four aspects of America’s history and social structure have led to an oppressive and racist society. According to Osterweil, change will only occur when these structures are overturned—and one of the essential means of overturning them is looting.The first aspect is slavery. Osterweil claims Abraham Lincoln did not free the slaves; rather, “The enslaved freed themselves. They did so with an act of mass looting and strike that shook the regime of white supremacist capitalism to its core: they stole themselves…” (p. 39). Osterweil argues that looting was made illegal precisely because African-Americans were the ones doing the looting. In other words, looting was outlawed to ensure white Americans stayed in power. The logical response to this is, what if African-Americans are the ones being looted? Osterweil makes no differentiation between looting minority-owned stores and white-owned stores. In any case, no matter what the ethnicity of the store owners is, the justification or legitimization of the act of looting is always wrong and is always immoral.The second aspect is police. According to Osterweil, police officers are the new, government-authorized version of the Ku Klux Klan: “The forces doing that everyday work of repression, deferral, and destruction have tended to wear a blue cap or a white hood” (p. 73). Osterweil alleges police officers are not intended to promote justice, uphold the law, or maintain peace in our neighborhoods. Rather, they are intended to oppress minorities and enforce power. Later in the chapter on police, Osterweil makes this all-encompassing statement: “The slave catcher is thus embedded in the DNA of all modern police forces” (p. 82).Osterweil is convinced that the police were organized and established to reproduce and continue colonialism, slavery, and racism. In other words, there are no real criminals, only those whom the police see as a threat to their regime. What Osterweil neglects to mention is that not all police officers are white males. In fact, 65 percent of police officers are white, which means that when you encounter a police officer, they are only 15 percent more likely to be white than a minority. No matter what ethnicity police officers are, the law is meaningless without enforcement, and without enforcement, communities—white and black—will be enslaved to anarchy and injustice.The third aspect is capitalism. Osterweil claims that capitalism, like the police force, is only beneficial to the powerful and oppresses the poor and marginalized. Osterweil says that organization is good and “revolutionaries love organization” (p. 123), but capitalism steals the spotlight from rioters and looters by calling them chaotic. In short, Osterweil believes capitalism is too competitive for the poor and marginalized. “[A]s long as they [capitalists] measure their success by their ability to direct, to dictate, to marshal, and to focus, they will never be able to achieve the liberation they seek. They must allow the real movement [looting/rioting] to change them, or they can only live to see themselves become its enemy” (p. 148). However, according to the Hoover Institute, it is clear that over the last three decades, capitalism has not only made the rich richer but the poor as well. For example, the poverty level in the United States fell from 31 percent in the 1940s to only 2 percent by the 1980s. While these number have fluctuated over the years due to various external circumstances, the benefits and freedom of capitalism remain.The fourth aspect is Americans’ common understanding of the civil rights movement. The chapter entitled “No Such Thing as Nonviolence” argues that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was only verbally against violence and looting. Osterweil says, “Rioting and looting were not the accidental offshoots of the Black Freedom movement, not some ‘opportunistic’ or ‘tragic’ consequence of the civil rights struggle. Instead, they formed a central part of the movement’s power and effectiveness…” (p. 152). Osterweil says violence (looting) is the answer to solve unresolved civil rights issues because it is the one thing that white patriarchal supremacists fear. Beyond the blatant absurdity of thinking that only “whites” fear looting, Dr. King’s words clearly and poetically articulate the moral principles of behaving honorably and peaceably: “Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.” Dr. King not only advocated nonviolence with his words but with his actions. All of the civil protests and demonstrations he led were nonviolent.Are Emotions More Important than Moral Principles?Osterweil asserts two conclusions in defense of looting. First, authority, boundaries, and order do not equal freedom or joy. “The experience of pleasure, joy, and freedom in the midst of a riot, an experience we almost never have in these city streets where we are exploited, controlled, and dominated, is a force that transforms rioters, sometimes forever: the experience of such freedom can be unforgettable” (p. 206). Second, Osterweil concludes that you cannot be a victim if you are not black or a minority group; being white equals having power. “White supremacist forces always play the victim to justify their ongoing anti-Black oppression” (p. 207).Osterweil’s defense of looting is emotionally compelling. There have indeed been corrupt systems and institutions that have preyed on and marginalized the vulnerable. Slavery did exist in America and around the world, racism and segregation were prevalent in our nation, and there have been unjust uses of police force. But should we respond to past or present injustice by perpetrating more injustice?Osterweil says that capitalism destroys opportunities for minorities and is systematically racist, but this book was only published thanks to capitalism. Unironically, Osterweil also suggests that white men are the oppressors of our nation and inherently universally racist; however, Osterweil identifies as a transgender woman, meaning Vicky—originally Willie—is a biologically white male.The Christian response to In Defense of Looting should be nuanced but resolute. While it is true that we as a society must continue to denounce actual racism in all its forms and work towards rectifying injustice and pursuing racial reconciliation, we must never abandon biblical principles in order to appease agendas that are centered around identity politics and emotional appeals. Osterweil believes that looting “liberates” societies, and individuals deserve free money, free housing, and free education and should not be oppressed by order, boundaries, or authority. However, Christians must remember that boundaries and limitations are essential to maintaining freedom. Psalm 15:6 reminds us, “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Scripture has clearly said that, “You shall not steal…you shall not covet your neighbor’s house…or anything that is your neighbors” (Exodus 20:15 and 17).We are called to find contentment in the blessings that God has given us and not seek to steal or fixate on the blessings given to others. Liberty is not locked away to be looted; rather, it is maintained through responsibility, respect, and building relationships.
Four years after one of the most shocking presidential upsets in American history, and three days after another election that is too close to call, a vast swath of the mainstream media still has not figured out (or perhaps simply chooses not to acknowledge) why almost half of American voters filled in the oval for Donald Trump.While it is certainly true that the motivations of Trump voters remain diverse, the primary motivating factor is as plain as day: millions of Americans are conservative, and they in fact voted for a president that has enacted conservative policies. This isn’t rocket science.Two recent articles in The Atlantic particularly highlight how myopic, and even dangerously prone to vilification (as will be discussed later) so many mainstream media writers remain. In an otherwise insightful analysis of the state of our country, George Packer refers to Trump rallies as “red-drenched festivals of mass hate.” Hmmm. It seems that Mr. Packer has himself fallen prey to becoming, in his own words, an “influential journalist” who “continue[s] to fail to understand how most of their compatriots think, even as these experts spend ever more of their time talking with one another on Twitter and in TV studios.”Does Mr. Packer really think that those thousands of people who attend Trump rallies are full of “hate”? Or could it be that they simply appreciate Trump for his public policy accomplishments that have helped keep blue collar jobs in America and unemployment low by deregulating the economy, supported the family and religious liberty, respected the value of the unborn, etc.?Then there is “A Large Portion of the Electorate Chose the Sociopath” by Tom Nichols. Over and over again, without citing any actual proof, Mr. Nichols and many others on the Left continue to carry on the narrative that a massive swath of Trump voters are driven primarily by racism. Mr. Nichols makes this stunningly nauseating assertion: “The politics of cultural resentment, the obsessions of white anxiety, are so intense that his voters are determined not only to preserve minority rule but to leave a dangerous sociopath in the Oval Office.”Is it possible that intelligent intellectuals like Mr. Nichols, who holds a Ph.D. from Georgetown, actually believe in their heart of hearts, that racism, not policy, is what is driving Trump voters? Again, without citing any actual evidence, he asserts that “far too many of Trump’s voters don’t care about policy.” Once more, Mr. Nichols has apparently not bothered to notice the policies that President Trump has put in place, policies that reflect the goals of the Republican Party platform on protecting the unborn, preserving religious liberty, advocating for school choice, promoting free enterprise and job growth through deregulation, appointing originalist judges, etc.Millions of American voters also saw through the false façade that Biden is somehow a “political centrist,” as Mr. Nichols described him. How does a “centrist” run on “the most progressive platform of any Democratic nominee in the modern history of the party”? That’s a quote from a Democratic operative in The Atlantic, the very publication that Mr. Nichols is writing for. How does a centrist have a vice presidential nominee that is, according to the left-leaning Newsweek, more liberal than Bernie Sanders, and who openly advocates for public policy that enforces equality of outcome?But beyond the patent dishonesty of this kind of writing, something much more dangerous is occurring here. The Atlantic is continuing to publish opinion pieces that grossly and disturbingly mischaracterize and demean the motivations behind Trump voters, which will only further demonize conservatives in the minds of liberals, further contributing to the breakdown in mutual respect and assumption of good faith that is critical for a functioning democracy.Having said that, all of us, whether conservative or liberal, have a lot of work to do in order to assume that most of our fellow compatriots hold their political views in good faith—because they honestly think they are what is best for our country.The mainstream media, though, which has so much power to shape prevailing patterns of thought, has a particularly important responsibility to do better in this area. If George Packer, Tom Nichols, and the vast majority of their mainstream media colleagues did some actual research into the true motivations of most Trump voters, they just might discover that they are actually pretty ordinary: decent, hardworking people who simply want to preserve America as a free republic.
Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:1. Update: Big Tech: ‘The Single Greatest Threat To Free Speech in America’In the recent Senate hearing addressing Big Tech CEOs, it was clear that there is one thing both parties agree on, and that’s reining in Big Tech. They may have different motives, but Republicans and Democrats share a distrust of America’s social media moguls.2. Update: In Philly, Coordinated Terrorism Becomes RealityIn Philadelphia, the city council's $33 million in police cuts has proven to be an example of what not to do. The city of so-called Brotherly Love is now seeing the Left’s rally cry for what it truly is: dangerous to communities and deadly to the economy.3. Blog: After Election Day Is Over, Christians Must Continue Engaging the CultureNo matter what the results of this election may bring, Christians cannot “check out” and take a vacation from political engagement. As Christians, we must have a long-term perspective. Our engagement in the public square does not start and stop based on election cycles.4. Blog: Supreme Court Takes a Look at Religious Liberty for Adoption Providers in Fulton CaseRecently, the Supreme Court heard telephonic oral arguments in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, a case that concerns the right of religious foster care agencies to speak and act consistently with their sincerely held religious beliefs.5. Washington Watch: Ken Blackwell says both sides have an interest in proving that this was a fair & honest processKen Blackwell, FRC’s Senior Fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance and Chairman of the Board for the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, joined Tony Perkins to discuss what was happening in the battleground states.6. Washington Watch: Franklin Graham insists that voting for a candidate means signing on to their party platform tooFranklin Graham, President of Samaritan’s Purse, joined Tony Perkins to discuss Samaritan Purse’s relief efforts in Louisiana, and his thoughts on an election offering two polar-opposite visions for America.7. Pray Vote Stand broadcast: Prayer CallOn this edition of Pray Vote Stand, Tony welcomed Michele Bachmann and Jack Hibbs to a special time of prayer, to seek—above all—the Lord’s provision for our nation.
Today, the Supreme Court heard telephonic oral arguments in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, a case that concerns the right of religious foster care agencies to speak and act consistently with their sincerely held religious beliefs.Catholic Social Services (“CSS”) is a religiously affiliated ministry that has provided foster care services in the City of Philadelphia for over 200 years. Part of its work requires it to evaluate prospective foster parents to certify that they meet state standards. Because of its sincerely held religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman, CSS considers same-sex couples to be unmarried and is unable to certify them as foster parents. Although an LGBT-identified couple has never approached CSS, if this were to happen, CSS would simply refer the couple to another agency that would be able to certify them. Nevertheless, the City of Philadelphia stopped referring children to CSS.At the Supreme Court, several of the justices demonstrated willingness to protect the religious beliefs of CSS and similar agencies. Justice Kavanaugh emphasized the fact that CSS’s beliefs have never prevented an LGBT-identified couple from fostering a child in Philadelphia. He stated that:It seems like Philadelphia created a clash . . . and was looking for a fight and has brought that serious, controversial fight all the way to the Supreme Court even though no same-sex couple had gone to CSS, even though 30 agencies are available for same-sex couples, and even though CSS would refer any same-sex couple to one of those other agencies.He emphasized that on this controversial issue, the government should seek “win-win answers” and try to accommodate sincerely held religious beliefs as much as possible:[G]overnments should be looking, where possible, for win-win answers, recognizing that neither side is going to win completely on these issues given the First Amendment on the one hand and given Obergefell on the other . . . [W]e need to find a balance that also respects religious beliefs . . . And what I fear here is that [a position that does not allow any exemptions for organizations like CSS] would require us to go back on the promise of respect for religious believers. Justice Alito expressed concern that the City had attempted to suppress a viewpoint with which it did not agree:[I]f we are honest about what’s really going on here, it’s not about ensuring that same-sex couples in Philadelphia have the opportunity to become foster parents. It’s the fact that the city can’t stand the message that Catholic Social Services and the Archdiocese are sending by continuing to adhere to the old-fashioned view about marriage.Even some of the Court’s more liberal justices were concerned about the City’s actions. Justice Breyer stated, “What’s actually bothering me quite a lot about this case is I think that no [LGBT-identified] family has ever been turned down by this agency. Indeed, none has ever applied.”Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who participated in oral arguments for the first time on Monday, asked one of the attorneys whether the Court’s controversial decision in Employment Division v. Smith should be overruled. Justice Alito also questioned the “stability” of the Smith decision. If the Court were to overrule this decision, it would likely reinstate a legal standard that provides strong protection for religious liberty.The Court’s decision could have significant implications not only for the rights of religious foster care agencies, but religious liberty in a much broader sense. The Court is expected to decide this case by the end of June, and it is certainly one to keep an eye on.
This Sunday, November 1, 2020 is this year’s International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. For decades, Christian churches, organizations, and individual believers have observed this annual summons to prayer and intercession on the first Sunday of November.It is well known today that those who believe in Jesus Christ comprise the most persecuted religious community in the world. Their suffering continues world-wide, and of course we should pray for our beleaguered brothers and sisters wherever they may be.But at Family Research Council, we want to remind you of countries on which we’ve focused special attention in recent months. These are exceptionally troubled places, where our fellow believers are very much in need of special prayers and will be grateful for them—on this Sunday and beyond.Please pray with us for suffering believers in the following persecution hot spots:NigeriaSince the dawn of the 21st century, verified reports of murders, rapes, mutilations, and kidnappings of Christians in Nigeria have persistently increased. Such attacks are frequently accompanied by the torching of homes, churches, villages, and agricultural fields.On July 15, headlines reported that 1,202 Nigerian Christians had been killed in the first six months of 2020. This was is in addition to 11,000 Christians who had lost their lives since June 2015. Such violence has now reached a point at which expert observers and analysts are warning of a progressive genocide—a “slow-motion war” specifically targeting Christians across Africa’s largest and most economically powerful nation. Nearly every week we hear reports about murders, kidnappings, stolen property, torched churches, and massacres in Nigeria.North KoreaIn North Korea, any expression of faith might get someone sent to a labor camp, often for the rest of their life, and their family is often sent with them. It is believed that approximately 50,000 Christians are held in political prison labor camps, where detainees endure starvation, torture, and even execution.Even for Christians who don’t get caught, practicing their faith is a deeply isolated experience. Christians in North Korea cannot gather in large groups with other believers. The government recruits many citizens to spy on their neighbors, creating a culture of fear and privacy among Christians and any dissenters to the North Korean government. Nagorno-KarabakhSince September 27, a fierce war has been blazing between Azerbaijan’s heavily armed military forces and Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed enclave comprised of Armenian Christian civilians. Azerbaijan’s assaults have been intensified by Syrian jihadi mercenaries, paid for and sent into the fray by Turkey’s Islamist President Tayyip Erdogan. A number of churches have been damaged or destroyed and residential areas continued to be bombed and shelled, with residents fleeing for their lives.Today’s Armenian Christians are the surviving sons and daughters of the Armenian Genocide, which took place in the early 20th century. During that bloodbath, the Ottoman Empire’s Turkish Muslims slaughtered some 1.5 million Armenians. At that genocide’s beginning, on November 13, 1914, a call to jihad—a holy war against Christian “infidels”—was officially announced by Ottoman Sultan Mehmed V Resad. The carnage began just days later.Disturbingly, Azerbaijan’s present invasion of Nagorno-Karabakh is perceived by most Armenian Christians as the continuation of that historic Islamist jihad against Armenia’s Christians. More than half the enclave’s population has either fled or are hiding in cellars and basements, praying for their lives and the lives of their children.ChinaPeople of faith in China are under enormous pressure under the leadership of President Xi Jinping. Xi has initiated a campaign to “Sinicize” religion to make it more compatible with the teachings of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Churches must join government-approved church associations or face harassment, intimidation, and the possibility of getting shut down by the government.Since the Chinese government cannot eradicate Christianity altogether, it is attempting to reshape it according to the values of the Communist Party. The Chinese government is now attempting to re-write a version of the Bible which promotes socialist values. Those believers that refuse to go to state-sanctioned churches and choose house churches free of government interference are burdened with the fear of what punishment may come their way. As we saw with the imprisonment of well-known Pastor Wang Yi, the Chinese government is willing to impose harsh punishments on prominent people of faith who speak up for religious freedom.PakistanPakistani Christians are plagued by a society and legal system that discriminates against them. Christians and others are often accused of violating blasphemy laws by neighbors looking to settle an unrelated argument. Those convicted can spend years in prison, or even end up on death row.Predators take advantage of Pakistan’s discrimination in the judicial system to prey upon young girls from religious minority communities because they know they will not be held accountable by authorities. The Movement for Solidarity and Peace, a Pakistani human rights organization, estimates that at least 1,000 Hindu and Christian women and girls are kidnapped and forced to marry Muslim men and convert to Islam every year. The latest such case is unfolding in Pakistani courts this month.IranNotorious for its outrageous cruelties, the Islamic Republic of Iran remains one of the world’s worst persecutors of religious minorities. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommended in its 2020 report that the United States should “Redesignate Iran as a ‘country of particular concern,’ or CPC, for engaging in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.”At the same time, Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List places Iran among the top 10 persecutors of Christians in the world. The Islamic Republic sometimes arrests Christians from traditional and “legal” churches. But it unleashes most of its vitriol on Christian converts from Islam, whom it views as apostates, and often designates them as “Christian Zionists.” Yet despite the dangers, many of Iran’s mostly young converts continue to be zealous and outspoken.The annual International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is an important reminder to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. May it start a habit of praying for the persecuted every day.
Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:1. Blog: Judging Amy: The Left’s Proclivity for Believing and Empowering Women Is Limited To Their Own“Believe women.” The slogan, born out of the #MeToo movement, was a common refrain during the Senate Judiciary hearings in September 2018. But, during the confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett the Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary—as well as members of the media—refused to take the judge at her word.2. Blog: Nagorno-Karabakh: Where Armenian Christians Are Fighting for Their LivesOn October 1, 2020, a violent and dangerous war erupted in a tiny Christian enclave—a spot on the globe few Americans can probably find: Nagorno-Karabakh. In his pursuit to further Islamize the region, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has financed Syrian jihadi mercenaries—reportedly thousands of them—to increase attacks on this Armenian territory.3. FREE Voter Guide: Text your zip code to 53445 for your FREE Voter GuideWouldn’t you like to know if someone on your ballot supports partial-birth abortion BEFORE you vote? What about a candidate that supports restricting gun rights or is endorsed by Bernie Sanders? FRC Action has the quickest voter education tool ever created. Simply Text your zip code to 53445 right now and you’ll get FRC Action’s FREE voter guide for the candidates on your ballot.4. Washington Watch: Ken Blackwell argues most rioters in Philly weren't seeking justice, they were seeking new NikesKen Blackwell, FRC’s Senior Fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the riots in Philadelphia.5. Washington Watch: Andrew Bostom says that ‘absolutely’ the media is stoking virus panic for political purposesDr. Andrew Bostom, Associate Professor of Family Medicine at Brown University, joined Tony Perkins to share how the media has politicized COVID-19.6. Washington Watch: James Lee agrees major polling houses are skewing the results to suppress the GOP voteJames Lee, CEO and Founder of Susquehanna Polling & Research, Inc, joined Tony Perkins to discuss how the media polls may be overstating Democratic strength in order to dampen Republican turnout.7. Pray Vote Stand broadcast: Time to ChooseOn this edition of Pray Vote Stand, Tony welcomed David Benham, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. James Lankford, and Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William G. Boykin to discuss how we, by the Lord’s strength, can help our nation.
As political campaigns get more combative and election seasons last longer, election fatigue can come early for many people. With election day now less than a week away, I’m sure many Americans are thrilled that another presidential election cycle will have come and gone so that they can check out for a couple of years before the next one starts up.While I am empathetic to this sentiment, this is not the right mindset for Christians to have. No matter what happens on November 3 (or whenever the results of this election are called), Christians cannot “check out” and take a vacation from political engagement.As Christians, we must have a long-term perspective. Our engagement in the public square does not start and stop based on election cycles. Since our political engagement is based on God’s commandments and biblical imperatives, we must keep following these commands and imperatives even when an election is not fast-approaching. How are Christians to continue to engage when there is no voting opportunity any time soon?For one, Christians must continue to pray for elected officials and government leaders. Obviously, we should pray that leaders that fear God and govern according to biblical principles are put in positions of authority. However, once the election has happened, we should be praying for whoever ends up in positions of power, whether they are God-fearers or not. In 1 Timothy 2:1-2, Paul “urges that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”As soon as the election is over, Christians must diligently and continually pray for our elected officials, whether we ourselves voted for them or not. No matter who is elected, we must pray that God would speak to them, that they would surrender to God, and that they would govern justly. We must pray this not only for our own benefit so that we can live peaceful lives as Paul said, but we must do so out of our desire for justice and out of love for our neighbor, knowing that God’s way is the best and most conducive way for all humans to flourish.Not only must we be diligent in our prayers for government leaders, Christians also must be committed to talking about political issues with their family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. The novelty of voting is that everyone gets to do it (if they’re eligible). However, voting won’t help our culture flourish if people are voting contrary to biblical principles and values. The only way to really sway the political and cultural environment is by changing people’s minds so that when they vote, they vote biblically.For example, even if Trump is elected and the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, decisions on the legality of abortion will be left up to each individual state. The only difference is that abortion will not be legalized at the federal level; it could still very well be legal in many states.We are absolutely obligated to restrain evil by voting; however, this is not sufficient. To successfully stop abortion and other evils, Christians must engage with individuals in their spheres of influence conversationally to change hearts and minds. If public opinion on abortion is swayed, then people will not elect officials at the local, state, or federal level who advocate for the moral acceptability of abortion. Also, a cultural shift toward valuing unborn life will have a positive impact on women with unplanned pregnancies to move away from seeing abortion as their only option, which will in turn lead to fewer women seeking underground abortions should abortion be made illegal.No matter who wins this election, there is still a lot of work to be done in redeeming the culture and influencing the public square. People’s eternal destiny, as well as the soul of our nation, are at stake. As we continue our engagement post-election, we must keep an eternal perspective. Every political loss and win is temporary because this earth is “passing away” (1 John 2:17). While we must engage passionately, we cannot put our hope or faith in any political candidate or party, only in Christ our Savior and King. Regardless of who is in the White House and whether that person is friendly or hostile to orthodox Christianity, Christians have orders from God and must be faithful to Him alone; we cannot disengage, give up, or get comfortable.
On October 27, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) held an insightful virtual panel event on the importance of protecting religious liberty both domestically and internationally. The event, titled “Religious Freedom in the Age of COVID-19 and Beyond,” addressed how the current pandemic has affected the national and international dialogue on religious liberty.The Freedom of Religion Is “Essential”Much has been said about the threats to religious liberty posed by overbearing officials here in the United States. Roger Severino, Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the HHS, emphasized during Tuesday’s panel that as the COVID-19 pandemic claims more and more lives, we must be prepared to ask the question: what do people live for?For many people, Severino said, “it is their belief in God and religious community.” This means we may need to rethink what we mean when we talk about what counts as an “essential” service.“We really tread on dangerous waters when we’re picking and choosing what counts as essential versus not, when part of human nature is to seek the transcendent and express it according to your best lights,” Severino said.He also spoke more broadly about how the federal government has been working hard to uphold religious liberty and freedom of conscience, saying it “should not be up for debate. It should be beyond dispute just like every other civil right.”Claire Murray, who serves as an Associate Attorney General at the Department of Justice (DOJ), reminded panelists that “There’s no pandemic exception to the Constitution” regarding religious freedom. Within the DOJ, Murray has worked to make sure religious organizations are not singled out by state and local leaders. Since the beginning of the government-enforced lockdowns, the DOJ has filed six amicus briefs on behalf of religious organizations.Murray also addressed the continuing controversy over the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic religious order which was exempted from certain parts of the Affordable Care Act and associated mandates which would have forced them to violate their religious beliefs about contraception and abortion. Murray said that President Trump’s 2017 Executive Order on the protection of religious liberty has helped guide the federal government as it continues dealing with challenges and settlements in lower federal courts.Progress in Protecting the Rights of Believers Around the WorldYet domestic religious freedom policy work is only part of the story; many more good efforts are being undertaken overseas. U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Samuel Brownback and Ambassador Andrew Bremberg, the United States’ Permanent Representative to the Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, both spoke at length about the United States’ mission to protect religious liberty internationally, which Brownback called “a centerpiece of policy.”Ambassador Brownback also remarked on some unexpected religious freedom developments during the COVID-19 pandemic. Several countries have released prisoners of conscience for fear that they will contract the virus, which Brownback applauded as “good news.” However, Brownback also warned against the scapegoating of religious minorities who have spread the virus within their communities and said that he has been “pushing back against that aggressively.”Brownback concluded that the overall trendline has been positive, while Bremberg noted he is still “deeply concerned about governments around the world” using COVID to suppress religious freedom, and reminded panelists that the current focus on the pandemic has allowed the world’s worst human rights abusers to get away with their atrocities. Ambassador Bremberg spoke specifically about religious persecution in Russia, Nigeria, and especially in China.Although the United Nations (UN) has an office dedicated to religious liberty, Bremberg regrets the silence which has come over many in the international community regarding the persecution of Uyghur Muslim minorities in China. Still, though, the United States has pressed ahead in promoting religious liberty, and Bremberg hopes other countries will look to us, and not to China, as a model.Brownback agreed, saying “You’ve got a fundamental choice between the Chinese model and the U.S. model on religious freedom . . . The U.S. says, ‘you are free to do what you want with your soul. It’s a God-given right. No government has the right to interfere with it.’”The United States’ tradition of religious liberty is inspired by our Declaration of Independence, but Ambassador Bremberg emphasized that the United States should not have to fight alone. The UN lists religious liberty as a fundamental right in its Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and though there is much work to be done, the international community has made some progress in protecting this right for all people.Today, many countries still have apostasy and blasphemy laws so strict that changing one’s faith or otherwise violating these laws is enough to give one the death penalty. Under the Trump administration, the United States has formed an International Religious Freedom Alliance with 30 other countries and several more which may join. The Alliance has worked to protect religious rights in conflict zones and do away with these atrocious apostasy and blasphemy laws.Ambassador Bremberg closed the panel with a further call to action: “Will we choose to protect, defend, [and] fight for, fundamental human rights established over 70 years ago in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—the right for religious freedom? Or will we not fight for them?”All Americans Should Stand for Religious LibertyFighting for religious liberty, both at home and abroad, takes a lot of time and effort. The rise of secularism and the devaluing of the religious voice, as Severino said, have threatened people’s rights to exercise their faith as they see fit. It is the duty of all Americans, of all faiths, to stand up and fight for religious liberty alongside Severino, Murray, Brownback, Bremberg, and other members of the Trump administration who have worked so hard to protect this most fundamental right.For several years now, key Trump administration officials like those at this HHS event have been attempting to diligently implement the administration’s religious freedom policies, often in the face of much opposition. They and many others within the executive branch have been fighting for our rights day-in and day-out, often with little credit. As we approach a presidential election, it’s appropriate to take note of the many positive religious liberty developments that have actually occurred under the Trump administration.To find out more about what the administration has been doing to protect religious freedom, both at home and abroad, please see the full list of the Trump administration’s accomplishments at PrayVoteStand.org
The East African country of Somalia is best known to most Americans for three unsettling reasons. First of all, many learned about Somalia thanks to the tragic “Black Hawk Down” battle—the event, the book, and the film. The country is also infamous for attacks by Somali pirates on international shipping routes. And, today, the ruthless terrorist group al-Shabaab continues to torment its Somali homeland as well as the surrounding African nations.Is Somalia a place for intrepid American tourists to visit? On October 5, 2020, the State Department scored it as a “Category 4” risk with a concise comment: “Do not travel to Somalia due to COVID-19, crime, terrorism, civil unrest, health issues, kidnapping, and piracy.”And what about being a tempting site for Christian missionaries eager to reach out to Muslims? Sharia law prevails in most of the country, and where it is not officially enforced, the fierce implementation of apostasy and blasphemy laws (whether official or unofficial) is handled by locals, and particularly by those who support the anti-Christian goals of al-Shabaab—whether officially affiliated with the terror group or not.The U.S. State Department 2020 report explained:Al-Shabaab continued to impose its own interpretation of Islamic practices and sharia on other Muslims and non-Muslims, including executions as a penalty for alleged apostasy in areas under its control, according to media and UN sources. According to the BBC, by October this year (2019) was one of the deadliest on record for fatalities from al-Shabaab attacks, with numbers already more than 1,200.With all that in mind, I was shocked to hear from an alarmed representative of New Covenant Missions about a Christian family that had recently been arrested in Hargeisa on September 21. The Somaliland Police accused the couple of abandoning Islam, and even more dangerously, of evangelizing the people of Somaliland. According to a report about the incident from Somali Bible Society, “The spokesperson’s speech was peppered with threats against local Christians.”The report went on to say that the arrested man had been tortured; his wife had delivered a baby by C-section just weeks before the arrest and required urgent medical attention, and the baby was in need of maternal care and breastfeeding.I wasn’t particularly surprised to learn that Christians were attacked in Somalia. More amazing to me was that after so many war-torn years and violent incidents, any Christians remained there at all. And not only do they remain, but according to reports, there are hundreds of new believers who continue to worship in secret underground churches—small gatherings comprised entirely of brave and faithful local converts from Islam.But what about that imprisoned family? What can any of us do in the face of such a tragic report? Of course, to begin with, let’s agree to pray for this couple and their baby. For reasons of security we should simply call the parents “Mohammed” and “Nebiyat.” And let’s also thank God for the holy light of Christian lives shining in such a dark place. What amazing courage these new believers have!And finally, let’s not fail to pray for the brave outreach groups from the United States and elsewhere—groups like New Covenant Missions. They are operating in one of the most dangerous and chaotic places on earth. Let’s pray for all concerned—prisoners and ministers alike—and for their safety, encouragement, and inspiration to carry on their heroic ministries.
Opinion polls reveal some cognitive dissonance in Americans’ minds concerning abortion laws. Although most Americans say they support Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide, most also favor significant abortion restrictions. Why the seeming inconsistency?First, some background. In Roe, the Supreme Court ruled that abortion is protected under the U.S. Constitution. This decision struck down many state laws that had restricted abortion. It also severely limited the extent to which states could write their own abortion laws. The Court correlated the permissibility of different kinds of abortions to the three trimesters of pregnancy:First trimester: States cannot restrict abortion.Second trimester: Regulations designed to protect a pregnant woman’s health, but not to further a state’s interest in potential life, are permitted.Third trimester: States can completely outlaw abortion, except when “necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.”Under Roe, no restrictions on abortion in the second or third trimesters are mandated and are forbidden in the first trimester. Therefore, abortion through all nine months of pregnancy is the default unless Congress or the individual states pass laws restricting it.Planned Parenthood v. Casey did away with Roe’s trimester framework and created a new rule: a state cannot impose an “undue burden” on a woman’s attempt to obtain an abortion pre-viability.National polls indicate strong support for Roe. Sixty percent (Gallup) and 66 percent (NBC News) of Americans support it, while only 29 percent of Americans favor overturning it (NBC News). Roe, then, appears to be a settled court case in the minds of the American people.However, polls indicate a greater variation in Americans’ opinions when it comes to abortion itself. Only 27 percent of Americans think abortion should be legal “in all cases” (ABC News by Langer Research Associates), and seven in 10 Americans would like to see abortion limited to the first three months of pregnancy at most (Knights of Columbus and Marist). The latter poll found that 52 percent of Americans think women should be required to see an ultrasound of her unborn child prior to receiving an abortion. Furthermore, the poll found that 80 percent of Americans think laws can protect both a mother and her unborn child.A mere 18 percent of Americans support the legalization of abortion up until birth (NPR and Marist), and 54 percent want to see more restrictions on abortion than there currently are (CBS). Sixty-five percent of Americans support a required 24-hour waiting period for an abortion (The Kaiser Family Foundation). Like the Knights of Columbus and Marist poll, the Kaiser poll found that 52 percent support a mandatory ultrasound viewing by mothers.Why this seeming inconsistency between the American public’s opinions on Roe and abortion itself? Tim Carney of the American Enterprise Institute posits an answer: a poll’s outcome depends on how the survey questions are asked. Many Americans are unaware of what Roe actually says about abortion, mistakenly believing that it only protects abortion through the first few months of pregnancy. When asked whether they would like to see Roe overturned, most Americans say no, because most Americans are neither entirely pro-life nor pro-choice. Instead, most Americans favor abortion laws that restrict most abortions but provide exceptions for early-term abortions, abortions in cases of rape or incest, or when the mother’s health or life is in grave danger.Roe v. Wade permits abortion in far more circumstances than these. If survey respondents knew that Roe essentially allows abortion in all cases at any stage in pregnancy up to the moment of birth, support for the court decision would probably plummet among Americans with more moderate views. Americans’ ignorance serves the pro-choice lobby and is likely why polls indicate public support for Roe.As long as the largely pro-choice mainstream media can convince moderates that Roe v. Wade aligns with their beliefs, the Supreme Court will feel pressured into upholding its 1973 decision despite the fact that it goes against the will of the American people.To see where your state stacks up on permitting later-term abortion under Roe, see our state-by-state pro-life map.
Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:1. Blog: A Christian Girl’s Response To a Christian Guy’s Struggle With PornographyStudies continue to find that well over 70 percent of young men these days view pornography on a weekly basis. Porn teaches men that women are less than human and provides a false sense of intimacy. As Christians, we must honestly address the harm porn causes while also striving to understand this struggle and seek how to helpfully respond.2. Blog: Christian Voting Myth #4: “I’m Not in the Majority Where I Live, So Why Bother?”Do the majority of Americans actually decide who wins elections? In part 4 of our 4-part series dedicated to debunking common Christian voting myths, we unpack the myth: “I’m Not in the Majority Where I Live, So Why Bother?”3. FREE Voter Guide: Text your zip code to 53445 for your FREE Voter GuideWouldn’t you like to know if someone on your ballot supports partial-birth abortion BEFORE you vote? What about a candidate that supports restricting gun rights or is endorsed by Bernie Sanders? FRC Action has the quickest voter education tool ever created. Simply Text your zip code to 53445 right now and you’ll get FRC Action’s FREE voter guide for the candidates on your ballot.4. Washington Watch: Sen. Roy Blunt believes Barrett’s hearing helped highlight the sharp contrast between the partiesRoy Blunt, U.S. Senator from Missouri, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the fourth day of the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings.5. Washington Watch: Andy McCarthy insists there’s a lot more to the Hunter Biden cover-up that includes China & RussiaAndy McCarthy, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and Senior Fellow at the National Review Institute, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the significance of the Hunter Biden emails.6. Washington Watch: Luke Rosiak exposes the shocking realities of what public schools are teaching in his new reportLuke Rosiak, investigative reporter for WhatAreTheyLearning.com, joined Tony Perkins to discuss what his investigative reporting has uncovered about what children are learning in public schools.7. Pray Vote Stand broadcast: Gender ReassignmentOn this edition of Pray Vote Stand, Tony welcomed Pastor Amado Huizar, journalist Abigail Shrier, Dr. Michelle Cretella and Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) to discuss whether minors have the capacity to make life-altering decisions to change their gender. For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.com, our Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad.Family Research Council’s vision is a prevailing culture in which all human life is valued, families flourish, and religious liberty thrives. Join us to learn about FRC's work and see how you can help advance faith, family, and freedom.
Following last week’s confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the Senate Judiciary Committee today unanimously voted her nomination favorably to the floor—with no Democrats even bothering to show up. As Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) pointed out, they were continuing their theater from the hearing.At the hearing, some senators rightly noted that those watching were probably confused by what they saw and heard. The Democrats spent much of their allotted time making speeches in opposition to President Donald Trump and his policies, rather than questioning Judge Barrett and evaluating her qualifications. This gave the false impression that she would have policymaking ability if confirmed as a justice. When Democrats did question Judge Barrett, there was significant focus on her judicial philosophy of originalism. While questions about judicial philosophy are entirely appropriate, some Democrats mischaracterized originalism—leading to more confusion and further elevating the false narrative that she would be a judicial activist.So, what is originalism?While there are several strains of this judicial philosophy, we should look to Judge Barrett’s own explanation of the doctrine during her confirmation hearing, especially since it is her perspective that will matter here:I interpret the Constitution as a law ... I interpret its text as text, and I understand it to have the meaning that it had at the time [the] people ratified it. So, that meaning doesn’t change over time, and it’s not up to me to update it or infuse my own policy views into it.She later said:It’s original public meaning, not the subjective intent of any particular drafter, that matters. We are not controlled by how James Madison [the father of the Constitution] perceived any particular problem, but rather the people at that time.Of course, Barrett isn’t the only one who holds to this judicial philosophy. Even some with a more liberal leaning, like Professor Akhil Amar of Yale Law School, are originalists.For guidance on the Constitution’s “plain meaning,” it is important to have some historical context. The Federalist Papers are a series of essays that were written to gain the public’s support for the ratification of the Constitution, so they are a great source of information on the subject. Alexander Hamilton, the principal author of The Federalist Papers, focused on the Judiciary in Federalist 78 through 83 and wrote that the courts should base their decisions on “the fundamental law,” and when a statute is unconstitutional, it is their duty to adhere to the Constitution and strike the statute down.Some of the Founders feared that the Judiciary, the branch least controlled by the people, could ultimately become the most powerful of the three. Hamilton noted that the Judiciary could not significantly hinder liberty in and of itself, but it would be dangerous if it was ever combined with one of the other branches.The Federalist Papers are very clear that the Judiciary was expected to be the weakest of the three branches of the federal government. Therefore, Hamilton pointed out that “the supposed danger of judiciary encroachments on the legislative authority” was “in reality a phantom” because its power was bounded by its weakness, constitutional construction, and the legislature having impeachment power if necessary.With this historical context, it becomes clear that originalism is a judicial philosophy that acts as a brake on runaway judicial power. Looking to the Constitution as our reference point, originalism acknowledges that the Judiciary would be a threat to freedom if it began legislating instead of just upholding the Constitution. Originalism is all about keeping the will of the people central and not imposing the Supreme Court justices’ own beliefs.It’s important to note that the historical restraint of originalism doesn’t necessitate race discrimination, as was unfortunately the practice in 1791. Democrats implied this as a reason why they generally oppose originalism as a judicial philosophy. As for Judge Barrett, she stated that “Brown [the Supreme Court case that ended school segregation] was correct as an original matter.”Originalism also doesn’t mean that the Constitution can’t be applied to modern times. Responding to Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) during her confirmation hearing on how originalism still applies to current issues, Judge Barrett said:The Constitution—one reason why it is the longest-lasting written constitution in the world is because it is written at a level of generality that is specific enough to protect rights but general enough to be lasting.When discussing Fourth Amendment issues of today with Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Judge Barrett further said:The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. It doesn’t mean that it protects only the kinds of searches and seizures that those who lived at the time of the adoption of the Bill of Rights could have anticipated. Surely, they could not have anticipated the internet or cell phones or airplanes, for that matter. One can reason from the kinds of privacy protections that were in place in 1791 when the Fourth Amendment was ratified to see if the search of modern technology now is analogous to it.In her exchange with Judge Barrett, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), the highest-ranking Democrat on the Committee, peppered Judge Barrett with questions on policy and said her vote depended on the answers. Yet this shows that Democrats want the Judiciary to act as a quasi-legislative body—the very thing the Framers feared. As an originalist, Judge Barrett will constrain herself to the law and not impose her own will on the people. She repeatedly let this be known throughout the hearing.Having originalist judges on the Supreme Court prevents judicial activism and helps keep the one branch of government designed to be most removed from politics apolitical. The politicization and activism we have seen from the Court in recent decades make it more vital now than ever to ensure we have originalist justices on the Court.The full Senate will begin consideration of Judge Barrett’s nomination on October 23. Debate and procedural votes will occur over the course of a few days, and the final floor vote is scheduled for October 26.Let us hope and pray that we will have a new justice on the Supreme Court before October’s end!
On October 1, 2020, a violent and dangerous war erupted in a tiny Christian enclave—a spot on the globe few Americans can probably find. And it bears a name that even fewer know how to pronounce: Nagorno-Karabakh (also known as Artsakh).On October 21, the New York Times reported, “The three-week-old conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over a disputed territory in the Caucasus Mountains, where Europe meets Asia, has settled into a brutal war of attrition, soldiers and civilians said in interviews here on the ground in recent days. Azerbaijan is sacrificing columns of fighters, Armenians say, to eke out small territorial gains in the treacherous terrain of Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian enclave that is part of Azerbaijan under international law…” The Times continues:Azerbaijan, an oil and gas hub on the Caspian Sea, has deployed superior firepower, using advanced drones and artillery systems … But three weeks into the conflict, Azerbaijan has failed to convert that advantage into broad territorial gains, indicating that a long and punishing war looms. It could morph into a wider crisis …Turkey’s involvement in this war, led by its ruthless president, is highly controversial. As I wrote for the Jerusalem Post a few months ago:Turkish aggression in at least five countries has been headlined in international news reports just this month, June 2020. These accounts focus on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest intrusions into Israel, Libya, Iraq, Syria and Greece.Meanwhile, it is noteworthy to those of us who focus on international religious freedom that whenever Turkey moves in, religious freedom moves out. There can be no lasting freedom of worship for any faith unless it conforms with Turkey’s Islamic practices.Today we can add Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia to the list of Erdogan’s desired conquests. His hostile grasping into other lands, his transformation of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia and Chora Church into mosques, and his militant outbursts underscore an intense desire to Islamize the region under the auspices of a renewed Ottoman Empire.Azerbaijan is more than happy to have Turkey’s support—some say instigation—to continue cleansing Nagorno-Karabakh of Armenians. That would enable the Azeris, supported by their Turkish allies, to reclaim Nagorno-Karabakh’s disputed cities, towns, and villages for itself. And Turkey’s firepower is formidable.But besides placing Turkish soldiers in harm’s way alongside the Azeris, Erdogan has also financed Syrian jihadi mercenaries—reportedly thousands of them—to augment the attack on the Armenian enclave. Foreign Policy headlined one story, “Syrians Make Up Turkey’s Proxy Army in Nagorno-Karabakh: After fighting Turkey’s battles in Libya, the Syrian National Army is caught in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan—and dozens are dying.”In 1994, the first serious round of this conflict took place and some 30,000 died. At the time of this writing, although precise numbers are unclear, it appears that thousands more Azeris, Turks, Syrian mercenaries, and Armenians have lost their lives in the present fighting.Most of Nagorno-Karabakh’s residents are Armenian Christians. And Armenia is, of course, well known, primarily because of the Armenian Genocide, which took place in the early 20th century. During that bloodbath, the Ottoman Empire’s Turkish Muslims slaughtered some 1.5 million Armenians, along with thousands more Pontic Greek and Assyrian Christians. Turkey has long denied those horrifying massacres, which the rest of the world has recognized and mourned. In fact, the Armenian Genocide is far too well documented by photos, personal accounts, and governmental reports to be plausibly refuted. It is noteworthy that at the genocide’s beginning, on November 13, 1914, a call to jihad—a holy war against Christian “infidels”—was officially announced by Ottoman Sultan Mehmed V Resad. The carnage began just days later. And, as I recently learned in a conversation with a friend in Yerevan, Azerbaijan’s present invasion is perceived by most Armenian Christians as the continuation of that same Islamist jihad against Armenia’s Christians.Armenia was the first country in the world to convert to Christianity—in 301 AD. Its Armenian Orthodox Church is rooted in the earliest Christian history. In fact, the biblical record of Armenia’s land stretches back to the book of Genesis, when Noah’s ark came to rest after the Great Flood on what came to be known as Mt. Ararat. To this day, the deep faith of the Armenian people is evident. The historic role of the Christian faith in this land is undisputed.Some years after the 1994 conflict, I traveled to Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia with Baroness Cox, Lifetime Peer in the U.K.’s House of Lords. It was during that trip I first learned that this conflict is not simply an “ethnic dispute.” It holds deep religious significance for combatants and civilians alike. Meanwhile, I was struck by Caroline Cox’s heart for the local Christians, their churches, and their charities.With regard to the present fighting, a few days ago Baroness Cox sent me some of her present insights. Unsurprisingly, she strongly “condemns Turkey’s provocative actions and demands the immediate withdrawal of the Turkish armed forces, including the air force and jihadi terrorist mercenaries from the conflict zone.”She continued: “The direct involvement of Turkey and the scale and ferocity of this offensive raises the genuine fear of an attempt at the genocide of the Armenian people which Turkey’s highest leadership has declared in so many ways … The revival of Ottoman rhetoric by the Turkish government reinforces the possibility/danger of realization of this evil intent.”Baroness Cox concluded: In the previous attempt by Turkey to achieve the genocide of the Armenians in 1915, the UK stood firmly against it. The historic and recent acts of ethnic cleansing committed by Turkey and Azerbaijan mean that for the Armenians, the preservation of Artsakh is a question of survival for their people and for their spiritual, cultural, and political heritage.
During its last term, the Supreme Court garnered considerable attention by wading into the culture wars over polarizing social issues such as abortion and sexuality. Decisions to strike down a common-sense law requiring abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges and to redefine “sex” to include sexual orientation and gender identity were mourned by conservatives and applauded by liberals.While secular activists lamented, conservatives celebrated decisions upholding the rights of religious families and schools to participate in neutral tuition assistance programs and requiring foreign organizations to adopt policies opposing prostitution and sex trafficking to receive federal funds to combat HIV/AIDS. The Court will likely remain in the public eye during its current term, when it will hear arguments in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, a case that will have significant implications for the future of religious liberty and foster care in America. The justices will hear oral arguments in the case on November 4.The First Amendment provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ….” Thus, the Constitution protects religious liberty in two separate but related provisions. The Establishment Clause prevents Congress from favoring any religious denomination at the national level, while the Free Exercise Clause guarantees Americans the right to believe and act according to their religious convictions. Both Clauses also constrain the actions of the states. Prior to 1963, the right to freely exercise one’s religion was somewhat limited. While an individual’s religious beliefs were absolutely protected, his or her freedom to act on those beliefs could be fairly easily regulated. In 1963 and 1972, the Supreme Court decided two landmark religious liberty cases, Sherbert v. Verner and Wisconsin v. Yoder. These cases established the strict scrutiny standard, which means that when the government implements a law or policy that burdens someone’s right to free exercise, it must show (1) that it has a compelling state interest that justifies its burden on religious exercise and (2) that its law or policy is the least restrictive means of accomplishing this compelling interest. Because of their robust protection of religious liberty, Sherbert and Yoder ushered in a Golden Age of religious freedom in America.In 1990, the Court issued an unexpected decision that dramatically changed religious liberty protections. In Employment Division v. Smith, the Court abandoned the strict scrutiny standard and held that the government only needs to show that its law or policy is neutral and generally applicable in order to overcome a free exercise challenge. This “neutral law of general applicability” standard waters down protections for religious liberty by giving the government a lower bar to overcome. The government only needs to demonstrate that the law treats religious and secular groups equally and was not enacted to target religion. Under this standard, religious individuals are rarely successful in court and must prove that they were actively targeted for their religious beliefs to prevail.In its upcoming term, the Court will consider Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. The decision will impact the rights of religious foster care agencies to speak and act consistently with their sincerely held religious beliefs. One of the plaintiffs in the case, Catholic Social Services (CSS), is a faith-based foster care agency that operates in Philadelphia. When a child enters Philadelphia’s foster care system, the City refers them to one of several foster care agencies. These agencies then evaluate prospective foster parents to certify that they meet state standards. Because of its sincerely held religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman, CSS considers same-sex couples to be unmarried and is unable to certify them as foster parents. However, if an LGBT-identified couple were ever to approach them (which has never happened), CSS would refer them to another agency that would be a better fit. Nevertheless, Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services has stopped referring children to CSS.In the lower courts, CSS argued that the City’s actions were neither neutral nor generally applicable and targeted CSS because of its religious beliefs. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that there was no First Amendment violation and that Philadelphia did not treat CSS differently because of its religious beliefs. Rather, the court found that Philadelphia was merely engaged in a good-faith effort to enforce its nondiscrimination policy, which “prohibits sexual orientation discrimination in public accommodations.” In Fulton, one of the major issues that the Supreme Court will consider is whether it should revisit its decision in Employment Division v. Smith. If the Court revisits and overrules Smith, it will be a major victory for religious liberty that could restore the favorable strict scrutiny standard. However, if the Court declines to revisit Smith, or revisits and upholds Smith, its damaging precedent will become further entrenched in American law, dealing a major blow to religious liberty. The Court’s decision could be influenced by its recent decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which, as Justice Alito predicted in his dissent, could affect the speech of those who desire to “express[] disapproval of same-sex relationships …”Allowing religious discrimination against faith-based foster care agencies would not just be a blow to the constitutionally-protected right of religious liberty. It would also be detrimental to the already overburdened foster care system. In states and localities that have forced religious agencies to close, children suffer. For example, after Illinois passed a statute that forced all foster care and adoption agencies to place children with same-sex couples, nearly 3,000 children were displaced from religious agencies that were forced to close, and over 5,000 foster homes were lost. In Philadelphia, the home of a “Foster Parent of the Year” award winner who had been serving needy youth for decades was forcibly closed to foster youth, as were others. After the City ended its contract with CSS, siblings of children who had already been placed by the agency faced the daunting prospective of being forced into separate homes. Pennsylvania is not the only state to witness the targeting of religious foster care agencies. In Michigan, an activist couple targeted St. Vincent Catholic Charities, passing four other agencies they could have worked with as they traveled from their home to St. Vincent. Here, referrals had been made. Children in St. Vincent’s care had been transferred to other agencies working with LGBT-identified couples who were interested in adopting children in St. Vincent’s care. And in New York, New Hope Family Services, which has been serving needy children for over 50 years, was informed by the state that it must either change its policy of referring LGBT-identified couples to other agencies or cease its adoption services. A New York District Court judge recently issued an injunction on behalf of the church, preventing the state “from revoking New Hope Family Services’ authorization to place children for adoption.”In Fulton, the Court stands poised to issue a decision that will have a lasting impact on the religious liberty of foster care agencies and perhaps that of all Americans. While we watch and wait for the Court’s decision, we should pray that God would give the justices wisdom to make the right decision.Kaitlyn Shepherd is a legal intern with the Policy & Government Affairs Department at Family Research Council.
“Believe women.”The slogan, born out of the #MeToo movement, was a common refrain during the Senate Judiciary hearings in September 2018 leading up to Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court of the United States. Some even inserted an “all” to make it “Believe all women.” Essentially, the message of “Believe women” was to forsake bias and take women at their word.During the confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett last week, the “Believe women” refrain was absent. Maybe it shouldn’t have been. Not because any women were accusing the nominee of sexual misconduct (there are no such allegations against Barrett) but because time and again, the Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary—as well as members of the media—refused to take the judge at her word.Not only did they often refuse to believe Barrett, but numerous journalists and political pundits also violated a list of rules for reporting on female candidates for public office that a coalition of powerful, progressive women had sent to the news media ahead of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s announcement of his vice-presidential running mate. The list of sexist pitfalls to avoid included:Reporting on a woman’s ambitionReporting on a woman’s likabilityReporting on a woman’s appearance or tone of voiceReporting on doubts about a woman’s qualifications, despite her being equally or more qualified than her male peersEach of the rules listed above were broken during the Barrett confirmation process. This not only reveals inconsistencies between the way the media chooses to report about men and women, but it also reveals inconsistencies between the way the ideological Left insists women ought to be treated and how some of their own number treat more moderate and conservative-minded women. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, tweeted in support of Barrett, alleging that the left “doesn’t like women that have their own mind” and said that Barrett is attacked and denigrated because she does not fit their idea of a “perfect woman.”Here are five ways the ideological Left’s handling of the Barrett hearings exposes their hypocritical inclination to believe and empower only certain women—those who conform to their ideology.#1: By Not Taking Her at Her WordAt confirmation hearings, the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee question judicial nominees under oath. This is so the Senate can better fulfill its constitutional “advice and consent” role.Confirmation hearings are meant to entail thorough questioning. But Judiciary Democrats seemed determined to disbelieve Judge Barrett from the start. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) implied that Barrett was dishonestly concealing her personal pro-life beliefs by not including two pro-life petitions that she had signed as a member of her church in her initial 1,800-page disclosure (she included these in her supplemental disclosures, which are common to have). Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) doubted whether anyone could ascertain Barrett’s intentions from her sworn statements at the hearings, saying “the only way for the American people to figure out how you might rule is to follow your record and follow the tracks.” Committee members repeatedly asked Barrett if she had any understandings or made any deals with the president, such as voting to end the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or overturn Roe v. Wade. Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) implied Barrett might act as a pawn of the president when she asked whether the judge’s piece commenting on the ACA was a signal for Trump to pick her. Each of the numerous times these doubts were raised, Barrett stressed her judicial independence, personal integrity, and commitment to the rule of law:I have not made any commitments or deals or anything like that. I’m not here on a mission to destroy the Affordable Care Act. I’m just here to apply the law and adhere to the rule of law.And again:I have no mission and no agenda. Judges don't have campaign promises.Regarding her integrity as a judge:I certainly hope that all members of the committee have more confidence in my integrity than to think that I would allow myself to be used as a pawn to decide the election for the American people.And:I do assure you of my integrity.Those who know Judge Barrett best professionally describe her as someone deserving of being taken at her word. Patricia O’Hara, professor emerita at Notre Dame Law School, introduced Barrett at the confirmation hearings, describing her as “fair and impartial.” On the final day of hearings, Laura Wolk, a former student of Barrett’s at Notre Dame and the first blind female Supreme Court clerk, testified on her mentor’s behalf, hailing her as eminently trustworthy: “She is a woman of her word. She means what she says, and she says what she means. When she promised to advocate for me, she commanded my trust.”During Barrett’s hearings, it was clear that Judiciary Democrats either doubted the judge’s veracity under oath or simply didn’t want to believe her.#2: By Implying She Doesn’t Have Her Own MindOpponents to Judge Barrett’s nomination have had the audacity to imply that she wouldn’t be making her own decisions on the bench. They seem to imagine her functioning as a sort of pawn or proxy “doing the bidding” of a man calling the shots (pick one: the president, her husband, her late mentor Antonin Scalia, the Pope). Insinuations of this nature are highly insulting, as they willfully ignore Barrett’s stellar qualifications as a judge, misunderstand her faith, and disbelieve her own statements under oath that she is intellectually independent and not beholden to anyone or anything but the Constitution. So much for “believing women.”During day three of the confirmation hearings, Barrett acknowledged that she shares Justice’s Scalia’s judicial philosophy of originalism and textualism. However, she had to clarify multiple times that she should not be mistaken for a carbon copy of Scalia who would always rule in the same manner that he did. As she told Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) (emphasis added):I do share Justice Scalia’s approach to text, originalism and textualism. But in the litany of cases that you’ve just identified, the particular votes that he cast are a different question of whether I would agree with the way that he applied those principles in particular cases. And I’ve already said, and I hope that you aren’t suggesting that I don't have my own mind or that I couldn’t think independently or that I would just decide “let me see what Justice Scalia has said about this in the past,” because I assure you I have my own mind. But everything that he said is not necessarily what I would agree with or what I would do if I were Justice Barrett. That was Justice Scalia. So, I share his philosophy, but I have never said that I would always reach the same outcome as he did.Barrett intelligently responded to Judiciary Committee questioning for hours over the course of two days with absolutely no notes in front of her, an impressive feat that few people could match. Those doubting her knowledge, independence, and competence embarrass themselves.#3: By Objecting To Her Career Success and Aspirations as “Ambition”The Washington Post ran a story that described Judge Barrett as “unleashing her ambition,” while Slate disparaged her as “a shameless, cynical careerist who believes nobody can stop her.” The article continued, “what’s wrong with Barrett isn’t that she’s too pious, or that she’s submissive in her personal life. It’s that she’s bent on making herself one of the nine most powerful judges in the country.”It’s hard to imagine such statements being made about a male nominee or a female nominee whose judicial philosophy and policy positions more closely align with the Left. Indeed, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been lauded for her “trailblazing career” and breaking the glass ceiling. It begs the question: why would it be wrong for any woman, especially one as qualified as Barrett, to aspire to sit on the Supreme Court? Furthermore, it’s unclear how Barrett fits the description of “ambitious” besides being so good at her job that someone else noticed and nominated her for the Supreme Court.Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a member of the Judiciary Committee and a military veteran, tweeted in response to the Slate article:This is the kind of sexist garbage women have been dealing with for far too long. Women can be anything we want to be: a farmer, a military officer, a Senator, and yes even a Supreme Court Justice.#4: By Judging Her by Her Appearance (to a degree that wouldn’t be done to her male peers)The clothes Barrett wore to her confirmation hearings were neat, professional, and stylish. They looked an awful lot like the clothes countless other professional women on Capitol Hill wear. A male nominee comparatively well-dressed would not have garnered the reactions Barrett’s choice of clothing elicited. And women the Left loves—like Michelle Obama—are praised for their fashion sense. But even something as innocuous as clothes was seized upon by Barrett’s critics as an opportunity to disparage her.The Daily Beast published an entire article centered on the dress Judge Barrett wore on day one of the confirmation hearings (and no, it wasn’t about where to buy it or “how to copy her look”). The author interpreted Barrett’s choice of clothing as a calculated distraction, saying her dress “projected capability and congeniality” while she did “the bidding” of the president. Here we have a sexist one-two punch of hyper-focusing on a woman’s clothing choice and portraying her as a mindless sycophant, despite abundant evidence to the contrary.Barrett’s critics have embraced the demeaning caricature of her as a subservient “handmaiden” la The Handmaid’s Tale. Former congresswoman Katie Hill thought she saw evidence of this false caricature represented in Barrett’s clothing, tweeting on day three of the hearings: “I hate to be someone who judges women on their clothes but I’m sorry ACB’s outfits are all way too handmaids-y.” Hill later deleted the tweet after negative response. Senator Ernst once again tweeted in Barrett’s defense:The liberal left is attacking Judge Barrett in this way because they can’t attack her on her qualifications or character. No woman should have to deal with this kind of blatant sexism.#5: By Questioning Her Ability To Parent and Do Her JobSome on the ideological Left questioned whether Judge Barrett could handle being “a loving, present mom” and a Supreme Court justice. It’s highly doubtful that anyone has ever questioned a male Supreme Court nominee’s ability to be a loving, present father. If a more progressively-minded judge were being nominated for the Court, would the media express comparable concern for her school-aged children? It’s hard to say since Barrett is the first such mother of school-aged children to be nominated.Slate described Barrett’s inspirational story as “a trap” to trick women into thinking that they “can have it all” and don’t need abortion in order to succeed. On the contrary, more women need to be shown that they shouldn’t have to abort their children in order to have a fulfilling life or career. Barrett might seem like a unicorn for now, but only because she’s blazing a path for other women to follow.A True Role ModelJustice Ginsburg recalled being asked when she thought there would be enough women on the Supreme Court. Her reply? “When there are nine … There’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.” This famous quote by Ginsburg has been hailed by her admirers and many on the ideological Left. Yet, when a conservative woman is nominated to the Court, it is clear that they would prefer a male judge who shares their ideology than a conservative female judge who has sworn that she will interpret the law rather than legislate from the bench.Judge Amy Coney Barrett is highly qualified to sit on the Supreme Court. Instead of the inconsequential—and, at times, sexist—things her critics have harped on, consider this list of accomplishments and accolades. In other words, things that truly matter:First in her class at Notre Dame Law School, where she was executive editor of the Notre Dame Law Review Clerked for Judge Laurence H. Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and for Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme CourtWorked as an associate at Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin and then at Baker Botts in Washington, D.C.Former visiting associate professor and John M. Olin Fellow in Law at the George Washington University Law SchoolFormer visiting associate professor of law at the University of VirginiaProfessor of law at Notre Dame Law SchoolMember of the American Law Institute (ALI)Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh CircuitEndorsed by all of her fellow Notre Dame law professors in 2017Endorsed by all of her fellow 1998 Supreme Court clerks in 2017Rated by the American Bar Association as “well qualified” to serve on the Supreme CourtPatricia O’Hara of Notre Dame Law School summed up Barrett as a judge thus: “In her three years as a judge on the Seventh Circuit, her opinions have been characterized by the same quality as her scholarship -- intellectual rigor, painstaking analysis, clarity of legal reasoning and writing. Accompanied by her deep commitment as a jurist to apply the law to the facts before her.”Throughout her life and career, Barrett has exemplified what we should want in a Supreme Court nominee. What would this confirmation process have been like if everyone had spent less time analyzing her wardrobe and more time looking at her qualifications and taking her at her word? I guess we’ll never know.Ideological progressives and the media talk a big talk of “believing women” and empowering them. But their treatment of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett in recent days signals to more moderate and conservative-minded women that progressives only believe and empower certain women who fit their preferred mold, to the exclusion of others.However, to the thousands of women who don’t fit this preferred mold, Judge Barrett truly is a role model.
Dear brothers in Christ, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry that you are bombarded every single day with images that truly shouldn’t exist. Images of girls showing parts of their bodies that only their husband should see. I’m so sorry that this is such an enormous avenue that Satan uses to warp your mind and rewire your brain to objectify women. While I can’t speak for all girls, I can and will speak for myself: I understand and feel compassion for you in this fight.Studies continue to find that well over 70 percent of young men these days view pornography on a weekly basis. Articles that were published 20 years ago are still just as relevant today: Porn teaches men that women are less than human and provides a false sense of intimacy. I used to tell myself that I could never be in a relationship with or marry a guy who struggles with porn. “How could I love and be loved by a guy who looks at other women like that?” I thought. As I’ve given this more thought and done my own research, I’ve begun to realize something: In Christian communities, young people are told that sex before marriage is wrong, which it is, and in some ways encouraged to avoid the opposite sex until it’s time for marriage. Does this mean that we aren’t sexual beings until we are ready for marriage? Of course not. We are created to be sexual beings. Guys, it is normal for you to have those feelings. I don’t think Christians acknowledge that enough.“Avoid each other until you’re ready for marriage” was the message I received from different Christian dating books and conferences, which shall remain unnamed. In my experience, many Christian communities want to pretend like young Christians can not only abstain from sexual experiences, but abstain even from sexual feelings until the wedding night. It seems like young men in particular (though the number of young women who are struggling with porn is growing) feel that they don’t know what to do with these sexual urges and therefore, porn gives them an outlet that they can justify by telling themselves it isn’t hurting anyone and is allowing them to leave Christian girls alone so they can remain pure.Understanding the struggle of pornography in this way, it made more sense to me why Christian guys view it. And it filled me with compassion. Porn can be as addicting as drugs, and guys get a “hit” from it just like you would if you partook of a basic street drug. Our overly sexualized culture says that porn is exciting, smartphones make it way too easy to access it, and Satan is constantly lying to us by saying that it doesn’t hurt anybody. For guys, being the visual creatures that God created you to be, the bombardment of these lies makes it seemingly impossible to resist the urge that so easily creeps up in everyday life. But it IS possible to resist, if you’re willing to fight.We, as Christians especially, need to remember that God created sex and that within marriage, it’s beautiful. Young Christians need to hear that these sexual feelings are not evil, but are God-given and are best fulfilled in marriage. They need to be guided towards preparing for and finding a spouse much earlier than the current national average of nearly 30 years old. Flirting, holding hands, hugging, and even kissing before you get married aren’t sins. Every couple is different and can set their own standards within biblical parameters, but we should stop fearing that anything beyond a side hug is going to make us lose control.So to my sisters, let’s pray for our brothers in Christ that we can have an understanding approach. And guys, let us help you fight. Please know that when you view porn, whether you realize it or not, you’re comparing real life girls with the porn stars. Porn stars are digitally enhanced women who are often abused and in very unhealthy situations during the production of porn. These girls are someone’s sister or daughter. It’s not right for you to think that you can only be attracted to girls who look this way just because that’s what you’re viewing on your screen. Porn makes you value unrealistic outward appearances, not a girl’s personality and character.If God puts a girl in your life who is chasing after Him, loves others, and who you just have fun with, pursue that girl and don’t let her go! Am I saying you should marry a girl you’re not physically attracted to? Nope. I’m saying you’ll be surprised at how physically attractive she is when you start valuing the right things. Don’t let porn make it more difficult for you to physically and emotionally connect with a real girl. That’s unhealthy for you and will honestly ruin your life. After long-term exposure to porn, you will find yourself turning to it when you are under stress, lonely, sad, struggling, or just plain bored. It becomes a coping strategy when problems arise.One of the keys to overcoming porn addiction is developing strong relationships with real people. You must begin by being truthful with yourself. As you search inside yourself and pray for God to open your eyes, it is vital to recognize how pornography has influenced your life. How has it affected your overall happiness and well-being? How has it changed the quality of your relationships? How has it affected your spiritual life and your relationship with God? Through honest evaluation, you will see things you want to change. This desire for change is a good, God-honoring point in your life. Take advantage of the resources out there to hold you accountable. You can overcome this. It will be well worth it for you, your future wife, your future children, and society as a whole.Cassidy Rich formerly served at FRC. She grew up in a large homeschooled family, loves kids, and ministers in her church’s childcare program. After living in Washington, D.C. for almost three years, she moved back home to Arizona to be closer to her awesome family.
Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:1. Update: Barrett Gives Senate Cause for ConfirmIn the recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings for nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee took turns testing the fitness of Judge Barrett to serve as a Supreme Court Justice. But for the Left, this wasn't a sincere discussion about America’s highest court—it was a campaign rally. And a revealing one at that.2. Blog: Christian Voting Myth #3: “I Don’t Like Either Candidate, So What’s the Point?”In an ideal world, you would always have the option to vote for really great people that you agree with in every respect. In the real world, however, sometimes there is no different option. What should you do then? In part 3 of our 4-part series dedicated to debunking common Christian voting myths we unpack the myth: “I Don’t Like Either Candidate, So What’s the Point?”3. Blog: Senate Democrats: Tone-Deaf on Religious FreedomThroughout the recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Democrats used Amy Coney Barrett as a political prop for their re-election campaigns. Senator Mazie Hirono from Hawaii turned in one of the worst performances on day three of the confirmation hearing—exhibiting a tone-deafness to religious freedom that was almost bizarre.4. Washington Watch: Dr. Jay Bhattacharya warns that the government’s virus policies don’t fit with the virus scienceDr. Jay Bhattacharya, Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the Great Barrington Declaration he co-authored that calls for a herd immunity response to COVID-19.5. Washington Watch: Andrew Bostom warns against the dangerous side effects of the current, oppressive virus policiesDr. Andrew Bostom, Epidemiologist and Associate Professor of Family Medicine at Brown University, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the Great Barrington Declaration that calls for a herd immunity response to COVID-19.6. Freedom Sunday broadcastAt Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, Tony joined Pastor Jack Hibbs in hosting Freedom Sunday, an in-person church service, to encourage the church to choose faith over fear.7. Pray Vote Stand broadcast: You Deserve to KnowOn this edition of Pray Vote Stand, Tony welcomed Bishop Larry Jackson, Dave Brat, Joseph Backholm, and Chad Connelly to take a look at what the Left isn’t telling you about its agenda for the courts, religious freedom, and the future of this country.For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.com, our Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad.Family Research Council's vision is a prevailing culture in which all human life is valued, families flourish, and religious liberty thrives. Join us to learn about FRC's work and see how you can help advance faith, family, and freedom.
The final day of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing consisted of witnesses. The Republican and Democratic senators of the Senate Judiciary Committee each called upon individuals who expressed their personal opinions on why or why not Barrett should be confirmed to the Supreme Court.The Republicans called upon former clerks, students, and colleagues of Judge Barrett. Each spoke highly of Barrett’s intellect, compassion, and legal skills. In contrast, the Democratic witnesses all opined on the danger they thought a Justice Barrett would pose to the country.One of the Democratic witnesses, Crystal Good, described herself as a “reproductive rights advocate.” She spoke about her experience being pregnant as a 16-year-old and going to court to obtain an abortion without parental consent. Sadly, Good claimed that killing her unborn child allowed her to take control of her life. She went on to say that Barrett’s confirmation would prevent abortions that millions of women rely on each year.The next witness the Democrats called was Stacy Staggs, a mother of twins born prematurely. The larger twin weighed just two pounds at birth, while the smaller twin was under two pounds. The twin girls spent time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and Staggs was unable to hold her daughters for weeks. In her testimony, Staggs spoke about the necessity of her children being provided health care. She alleged a Justice Barrett would take away the necessary health care that saved her children’s lives.Are the Democrats aware of the cognitive dissonance these two testimonies create? One witness asserted that she should have the right to end her unborn child’s life. The subsequent witness detailed how she fought for the lives of her premature children. One witness denied the humanity of the unborn, while the subsequent witness acknowledged the humanity of these precious little lives. This cognitive dissonance should not be surprising. Democrats claim to care about the health and wellbeing of children. However, in addition to supporting the termination of life in the womb, Democrats in Congress have repeatedly blocked legislation that would ensure medical care to children born alive after a failed abortion. It’s clear that the Democrats only value life when that life is wanted.A child’s right to life should not depend on whether the parents want him or her. Life is an inherent human right. The aforementioned testimonies at the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett demonstrate that Democrats only want to protect the right to life of children who are wanted. This picking and choosing which children “deserve” life must end.

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