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Andrew Sullivan wrote a lengthy and illuminating piece recently digging deeper into the opioid crisis, in part by examining the attraction of the drug itself. One interesting aspect of the article was his observation about why opioids have been such a draw through the ages—they help us escape from pain, from reality. As Sullivan notes, if we simply attack the symptoms on the surface, we are missing a “deeper American story. It is a story of pain and the search for an end to it.”For millennia, humans have searched for answers to life and the difficulty it brings. Some of these answers have involved God, and others have not. It is certainly clear that right now, America’s families have been hit hard by the opioid crisis.Yet while we need to go to God, we often don’t, and we reject his advances. Like God trying to rescue us, the police officers trying to rescue the addict by administering antidotes “are hated,” for “[t]hey ruined the high.”Marx’s claim that religion is the “opiate of the people” is old-hat. As Sullivan points out: “Opiates are now the religion of the people.”We must go to God in our pain, not try to escape it by our own means—whether through opioids or otherwise. It must be said that prescription opioids (along with other pain management tools) can be used properly (like for the alleviation of chronic severe pain) alongside going to God in our pain.Near the end of the piece, Sullivan again observes:To see this epidemic as simply a pharmaceutical or chemically addictive problem is to miss something: the despair that currently makes so many want to fly away. Opioids are just one of the ways Americans are trying to cope with an inhuman new world where everything is flat, where communication is virtual, and where those core elements of human happiness — faith, family, community — seem to elude so many. Until we resolve these deeper social, cultural, and psychological problems, until we discover a new meaning or reimagine our old religion or reinvent our way of life, the poppy will flourish.Indeed, in searching for “new meaning,” I believe Sullivan is yearning for God here, and I would point him toward the Good News: Though we have all strayed from and are separated from God (and part of this separation is pain), Jesus has paid the price for us to be restored to God. We just must accept him, choose to follow him, and submit our lives to him. This restoration then becomes our new eternal reality, even if we don’t see all its benefits immediately.Sullivan continues:We have seen this story before — in America and elsewhere. The allure of opiates’ joys are filling a hole in the human heart and soul today as they have since the dawn of civilization.I would agree with this diagnosis, but only add that the medicine involves a spiritual element, most specifically the Good News discussed above. This is something Billy Graham, who recently passed away, would want us to remember. While the issue in all its facets is undoubtedly complex, it is clear that we must not neglect the spiritual aspect of the cure.We as a nation need God, and need him publicly. Graham’s recent passing also reminds us of that. Let us remind ourselves again, and let us not forget it.
I was young in the faith when I first saw Billy Graham on TV during one of his Crusade gatherings. I could tell it was an older clip because the colors were fuzzy and it seemed like everyone was wearing costumes… because no one wore clothes like that anymore. As a newly maturing believer, I marveled at the fact that this man seemed to dedicate his life to preaching one single message: “That Jesus Christ came, he died on a cross, he rose again, and he asked us to repent of our sins and receive him by faith as Lord and Savior, and if we do, we have forgiveness of all of our sins.” You would think that would get old, right? How could one man preach the same message over and over again all over the country and continue to get people to actually respond? And in fact they did respond—in droves. You would think that if it were a big and charismatic personality out front with a trendy haircut, mellow on the sin, light on the scriptures, and heavy on the froth of entertainment, then maybe it would be easy to see how someone might get caught up in the moment and just want to maximize it to the fullest and think, “Nothing is stopping me from getting inches away from the coolest preacher I ever heard! Yeah!” But that wasn’t the case. It didn’t seem like there was anything particularly fancy about his message or appearance that would compel one to get out of their seat and inconvenience the many people in their row, then walk across a stadium before thousands to say a prayer.I just didn’t get it. The picture of this looked so foolish that it convinced me it had to be the power of God at work—to pack stadiums across the country and the world full of people who were willing to hear a simple message, a message one could easily get at just about any Bible-teaching corner church in America, and yet hundreds of thousands of people came and gave their hearts to Jesus as their Lord and Savior.As I got older and matured in my faith, I realized for myself the power of the Gospel in a personal way. I knew what my life could’ve been had I not given it to him at such an early age, and I knew what my peers’ lives were like who had not made that eternal decision yet. My heart was burdened for them. I longed for my friends and classmates to know the Lord as I did and to go through life being able to start over and know that the God of all creation was with them.As my senior year of high school approached, we had to do a project on our future career, suffice to say it was not on what I’m doing now (hint: don’t plan your whole life in high school—it’s guaranteed to change), but I knew in my heart that whatever I was going to do I would use it as a tool for evangelism. At the time, I did not know what role the Lord would have for me, but I knew that I better get acquainted with evangelism, and who best to teach someone about that than the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. I heard they were coming to my hometown in 2006, and at the time it was Billy Graham’s son Franklin who was leading the efforts. I along with my mom decided to volunteer for the crusade coming to town, and I had the opportunity to participate in some pretty cool things and even got to share my testimony on video for their youth night.Billy Graham’s life and ministry illustrated to me that it was truly the power of God that brings salvation and that he has no problem using people who we might consider the weak or the foolish of this world to confound the wise and do great and mighty things through them. Because of Billy Graham, I could see for myself that it was possible for God to take an ordinary existence mixed with humble faithfulness and cause supernatural results. I wasn’t sure where my life was going during that senior year, but I learned that I wanted it to be dedicated to the simple message “that Jesus Christ came, he died on a cross, he rose again, and he asked us to repent of our sins and receive him by faith as Lord and Savior, and if we do, we have forgiveness of all of our sins.” Thank you, Billy Graham.
Over the course of his 58 years in public ministry and well into his retirement years, Dr. Billy Graham, “America’s Pastor,” did not hesitate to stand up for religious liberty, life, and marriage and family.Religious Liberty“In the founding era of our country, it was not organized religion but personal faith that brought focus and unified the early leadership—maybe an unspoken faith in God, and certain values that came with that faith. So in that sense, we cannot discount, in my judgment, religious faith in politics.” (Newsweek – Aug. 13, 2006)“Americans have always fought for freedom. This is why America was founded — to worship the one true God openly with no fear of tyranny. Our early fathers led our nation according to Biblical principles … Our country is turning away from what has made it so great, but far greater than the government knowing our every move that could lead to losing our freedom to worship God publicly, is to know that God knows our every thought; He knows our hearts need transformation.” (Newsmax – Oct. 5, 2013)Life“I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life…” (Los Angeles Times – Oct. 21, 2012)Marriage and Family“I believe the home and marriage is the foundation of our society and must be protected… The Bible is clear—God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman.” (USA Today – May 3, 2012)“The greatest career is being a mother ... And if you’re interviewed sometime on television or Phil Donahue, say ‘I’m a housewife and a mother’ and be proud of it.” (The Oklahoman – Oct. 27, 1983)“Many people enter into a marriage without realizing this is for keeps. It’s to be permanent. The tension is normal, but it can result in strength if you take those [problems] to God.” (The Oklahoman – Oct. 27, 1983)
To honor the life of Billy Graham, here is a personal testimony from Peter Sprigg, FRC's Senior Fellow for Policy Studies. This article originally appeared in The Washington Times on June 15, 2016.Prayer—my own, and that of others—has played a crucial role in my spiritual development.My parents were missionaries before I was born. My father served as a pastor and a denominational executive while I was growing up. I am sure that my parents prayed for me, including for my spiritual life. Ironically, those prayers did not bear their fullest fruit until I was in my mid-20’s—my mother had died, my father was again serving overseas, and I was living alone.My passion growing up was not for my faith, but for politics. After getting my degree in political science and economics, I got a job with my Congressman. When that job ended because he did not seek re-election, I decided to take the plunge and run for office myself. At 24, I ran for the School Committee in my home town in Massachusetts.My dreams were dashed, however, by a decisive defeat. That loss started me on a period of soul-searching—first in terms of my career goals, but eventually in a more literal, spiritual sense. Over a period of several months, a number of key events led me to a turning point in my life.One of those events took place at my church, where I remained a regular attender. One Sunday, two men did a dramatic reading about the Lord’s Prayer—the one taught by Jesus to his disciples. One repeated the memorized words—while the other, off-stage with a microphone, played the voice of God, actually answering. The man would say, “Our father, who art in heaven . . .”—and the voice answered, “Yes, what can I do for you?” Startled, the man continues, “Hallowed be thy name.” The voice asks, “What do you mean by that?”Continuing in the same vein, this short, humorous reading made me realize how easy it is to go through the motions of religion without thinking about it. I went home from church that day and began to pray and read my Bible daily—disciplines I had never before adopted.Another event came when my pastor invited me to a special gathering. The Billy Graham Crusade was coming to Boston, and his team was working to mobilize pastors and churches to support it. The pastor knew of my interest in politics, and invited me to an event where the guest speaker was someone with political experience—Charles Colson, the former aide to President Richard Nixon who had spent time in prison, had come to Christ, wrote his story in the book Born Again, and then founded the ministry Prison Fellowship after his release. At the time, I found his politics distasteful, but his testimony compelling.At the same event, we were urged to pray, and were given something to help us. It was a small round sticker to place on your watch. The challenge was to “pray on the spot when you see the dot”—in other words, every time you look at your watch.Thus, my relatively new habit of daily prayer became one of nearly constant prayer throughout the day. Sometimes I would pray for Billy Graham, sometimes for loved ones, and sometimes just, “Lord, be with me.” And He was—as I became increasingly aware.All of this climaxed for me when I attended the Billy Graham Crusade with others from my church in June of 1982. Although I was hesitant about going forward—having already attended church all my life!—those doubts were eliminated by Rev. Graham’s invitation, which directly addressed people like me. I went forward, giving my life to Jesus Christ in a decision that has shaped the remainder of my life.A year or two later, I got to visit an aunt and uncle who lived far across the country from me, and shared with them my testimony. It turned out that my aunt was a long-time supporter of Billy Graham’s ministry and subscriber to his Decision magazine. When she saw that a Crusade was scheduled for Boston, knowing my location (but not my spiritual state), she began praying for me.I will always be grateful that her prayers—and mine—were answered.
Unless you have lived in a cave with no connection to the traditional or social media, it has been impossible to escape the chronic, provocative, and apparently unending reach of the #MeToo campaign. A day rarely goes by in the news cycle when a man, prominent in business, media, or entertainment, is not accused of some level of sexual misconduct, from suggestions of a grope at a party decades ago to the mind-boggling series of allegations that now define the life and career of former Hollywood mega-producer and liberal elite Harvey Weinstein. These revelations rarely, if ever, find their origin in the criminal justice system; the recipients of these charges are rarely formally charged with breaking any law and might never see the interior of a courtroom. Nonetheless, he will probably lose his job, his reputation, and perhaps his family in the process—innocent or guilty.How are we to assess this steady stream of shameful revelations and the #MeToo movement as Christians? Should we be applauding the apparent exposure of these men as acts approaching righteous indignation? Should we be decrying the persistence of a male sexual aggression that clearly defies biblical morality?I would suggest we should approach the allegations with caution. But we should also examine a pernicious source of sexual misanthropy in our sexually-charged society: the continued explosion of unrelenting pornography from a sordid industry that profits from the dehumanization of both men and women.But first to the issue of guilt. The #MeToo movement relies almost exclusively on social media gossip. The allegations may well be true, but of course we often will never know for certain because there is no neutral forum to verify the information—the media reports that follow the initial tweets on Twitter or posts on Facebook are generally mere rewrites of the initial reports. Of course a denial of guilt from the accused might be inserted into the story, but what does this really mean when we have become accustomed to ignoring such disclaimers? Careers, reputations, and families are being destroyed in this process of communicating these allegations—careers and lives that may never be fully restored or completely rehabilitated even if the stories eventually are proven to be false.That being said, the rash of sexual misconduct reports have forced us all to recognize the pervasiveness of sexual aggression in our society, and yet we are apparently no closer to examining, assessing, or condemning an obvious culprit in the proliferation of that sexual aggression: pornography.So many of the sexual assault scenarios that have been described in the media sound like scenes out of pornographic films, where, of course, this kind of behavior is not defined as assault but normalcy. This is precisely the fundamental problem with porn: it not only over-sexualizes our world, it also attempts to convince us that our world is one where overt sexual aggression is not only tolerated but encouraged. Pornography not only debases both its purveyors and the consumers, it also preaches a sexual narrative that is not only unhealthy but dangerously at odds with reality. When men are seduced into believing the pornographic lie—that the spontaneous expression of any sexual whim is acceptable—they are acting out an illusion that in reality is abusive and in fact often illegal.Pornography long ago ceased to be mere entertainment—albeit entertainment of the most destructive and base sort. Pornography is a political and philosophical message emitted from the lowest echelons of disordered desires: it tells us to satisfy any sexual craving—no matter how strange, how sick, or how unhealthy—because there will be no consequences. It is a message that is so ubiquitous in this internet age that it is difficult to ignore. Pornographic culture is now invading our popular culture, infecting so much of our television viewing, reading material, and advertising. If we just focus on television, mainstream dramas often include relatively graphic depictions of sexual activity that would have been considered fit only for a “stag” film in decades past. The internet has made pornography far more accessible and more anonymous than it ever was in the magazine and X-rated film age of yesteryear. What’s more, pornographic “values” have now become such a big part of mainstream entertainment and sexual mores that it is no longer something perverts have to seek out—even the morally upright have to guard against being inadvertently exposed to porn from a miss-typed word in a Google search or a graphic sex scene inserted into an otherwise decent movie.If we are to honestly examine physical sexual abuse in our society, we need to acknowledge the most blatant and obvious form of virtual sexual abuse: unrestricted, unrelenting pornography that dehumanizes men and women and leads to an increase in sexually aggressive behavior.David Krayden is the Ottawa Bureau Chief for The Daily Caller. He is a former Air Force public affairs officer and communications specialist for the Canadian Parliament.
Dear Friends,The other day, I walked into an Asian stir-fry eatery and was met with a row of touchscreens lined up in front of the kitchen area where employees were preparing the food. The normal conversation one would usually hear between customers and the person behind the counter was strangely absent. Instead, I found myself and two or three millennial-types silently staring down at the touchscreens and ordering our food with a series of finger taps. We even swiped our own credit cards on a little console that also printed out our receipts. Similarly, instead of going to the bank with a check to deposit and having a friendly interaction with the bank teller, we can now deposit our checks ourselves with the cameras on our phones.All of this technology has certainly made our lives more convenient in certain ways, but it also has a weird way of making everyday life seem robotic. We aren’t being “old-fashioned” when we feel that something vital is missing from our lives when the opportunities for friendly chit-chat are systematically removed from commonplace societal activities.The desire for genuine human contact isn’t merely a “nicety” that some of us choose to do from time to time. This desire was placed in all human hearts by our Creator. Think of how Jesus interacted with those around him. He didn’t sit on pedestal and heal people from afar—rather, he did not hesitate in holding children in his lap, touching lepers, and even spitting on a blind man’s eyes to heal them. This is the kind of God we have, one whose deepest desire is to reach out and touch us. We in turn desire to give and receive genuine touch. Never underestimate the power that a warm handshake or a friendly pat on the back can have. A sincere embrace of someone who is struggling can have an enormous impact. Even something as seemingly insignificant as a smile and a friendly “hello” has the power to immediately lift our spirits.It’s particularly important to not miss an opportunity to be both verbally and physically affectionate with our spouses and children, which strengthens the bond of our family units. Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council FRC ArticlesNew Brochure: How to Respond to the LGBT Movement – Peter SpriggThe SPLC’s Incursion into EducationWith vote against Brownback, Democrats abandon religious freedom – Travis WeberPresident is keeping his promises – Tony PerkinsFact-Checking Jimmy Kimmel on Christian Bakers: Two Big Errors, But Props for Trying – Travis WeberGeneration Z – Seeking Answers to Good and Evil – Travis WeberAn Ode to the Lincoln Memorial – Brynne KrispinPain-Capable Senate Vote: The One Percenters’ Club – Jay Sappington4 Unforgettable Thoughts On Marriage – Dan HartWith Cecile Richards’ Resignation, It’s Time for Planned Parenthood to Come Clean – Jay Sappington Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareJudge Rules Bakeshop Owner Doesn’t Have to Bake Wedding Cake for Gay Couple – Grace Carr, The Daily SignalNorth Carolina Settles With Magistrate It Forced Out for Not Doing Gay Marriages – Ken McIntyre, The Daily SignalMichigan Pastor Facing Death Threats for Offering Workshops to Teens Struggling with Homosexuality – Charlene Aaron, CBN NewsGovernor Cuomo Signs Executive Order Banning State Agencies From Doing Business With Companies That Promote, Tolerate Discrimination – LongIsland.comCalifornia Moves To Force Public Universities To Administer Abortion Pills – Kristan Hawkins, The FederalistMaryland city to church: Stop worship services or leave – Alliance Defending FreedomOhio high school rallies around prayer after outside group tries to ban it at events – Caleb Parke and Michelle Chavez, Fox NewsInternational Religious Freedom16,000 Christians Dead in Less Than 3 Years: Report Reveals Extent of Violence in Nigeria – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostImpressions of persecution – June Cheng, WORLDSudan government demolishes church just hours after service – J-P Mauro, AleteiaReligious Discrimination in Canada – Derek Ross, Public DiscourseUS Pastor Andrew Brunson Writes Heartbreaking Message to Wife From Turkish Prison – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostOpen Doors Rebuilds Nearly 700 Christian Homes Destroyed by ISIS in Nineveh Plains – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post LifeAbortionBeyond Roe: A Global Roadmap for the Pro-Life Movement – Stefano Gennarini, Public DiscourseBrother of woman who died from abortion at Planned Parenthood: Abortion is not a safe procedure – Live ActionOnly Pro-Lifers Address Abortion’s Core Moral Question – Mene Ukueberuwa, National ReviewThe Emerging Pro-Life Majority – Rob Schwarzwalder, The Stream'Fetal heartbeat' abortion bill advances in Iowa Senate after contentious hearing – William Petroski, Des Moines RegisterMissouri House Passes Pro-Life Bill Requiring Parental Notification Before a Teen’s Abortion – Micaiah Bilger, LifeNewsAdoptionFive Reasons Adoption Shouldn’t be a Backup Plan – John Prather, The StreamPro-Life Advocates Celebrate: Lawmakers Pass Funding for Florida Pregnancy Support Network – Leon Aprile, Orlando Political ObserverBioethicsEuthanizing The Mentally Ill Just Lets Their Illness Win – A.D.P. Efferson, The Federalist FamilyEconomics/EducationTax Revenues Up Big After GOP Tax Cut – James Barrett, The Daily WireSorry, NYT: For Child Poverty, Family Structure Still Matters – W. Bradford Wilcox, Family StudiesThe Left Is Conditioning College Students To Hate Free Speech – John Daniel Davidson, The FederalistCampus Madness: Amid Uproar, Princeton's Class on Free Speech Issues Has Been Canceled – Guy Benson, TownhallMarriageThe Profound Spiritual Truth of Marriage – Dorothy Greco, RelevantHow To Prepare For Marriage And Make It Good Once You Get There – Melissa Langsam Braunstein, The FederalistShe Was Repulsed by Her Husband – Lisa Lakey, Family LifeJordan Peterson’s Radical Take on Marriage – Ashley McGuire, Family StudiesThe Eschatological Hope of Bearing Children – Ian Caveny, First ThingsThe Lost Decade – Mary May Larmoyeux, Family LifeThe Long-Term Benefits of Marriage: Evidence from the UK – Harry Benson, Family StudiesNo Matter How Anyone Tries To Glam It Up Or Brush It Off, Divorce Is Never ‘Over Easy’ – The FederalistWe Lost Our Baby, but We Didn't Want to Lose Our Marriage – Tanisha Garnier, Christianity TodayHow to Restore a Marriage Norm – Lawrence M. Mead, Family StudiesRankin finally pulls the plug on gay marriage – Jonathan Bell, The Royal GazetteFaith/Character/CultureRaising Gentlemen in a #MeToo World: Advice for Fathers – Patrick Fagan, Family StudiesWhy ‘Progressives’ Cannot Abide Dissent – Trevin Wax, The Gospel CoalitionThe Burdensome Myth of Romantic Love – David C. Dollahite and Betsy VanDenBerghe, First ThingsIs Life Ultimately Pointless? – Matt Nelson, Word On FireHuman SexualityIs America Running Out of Patience with LGBT Activism? – Glenn Stanton, Public DiscourseNine Decades of Promiscuity – Nicholas H. Wolfinger, Family StudiesWalgreens now allows bathroom use corresponding with gender identity – Rebecca Savransky, The HillStaggering Statistic Reveals How Many High Schoolers Now Identify as Transgender – Jason Hopkins, The Western JournalFive Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution, Part I – Mary Eberstadt, The Catholic Thing‘Dirty Dozen’ List Sheds Light on Sexualized Corporate Culture – CBN NewsHuman Trafficking510 Arrested in Sex Trafficking Sting; 56 Victims Rescued – Donald Kaufman, truthdigPornographyLet’s Ban Porn – Ross Douthat, The New York TimesAmmunition for the Fight Against Porn – Dieudonné Tamfu, Desiring God5 Ways Intimacy Will Suffer if You Watch Porn Together – Mary Rose Somarriba, VerilyHow One Family Is Taking A Stand Against Pornography and Sexual Exploitation in America’s Schools – Robin Paterson, National Center on Sexual Exploitation
The other day, Jimmy Kimmel responded to a California Court ruling affirming Christian baker Cathy Miller’s First Amendment right to not be compelled to create a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding.Here is a response to Jimmy Kimmel’s response, which I also presented on Facebook Live with our own Brynne Krispin (below).First, I commend Kimmel for trying to tackle the issue, and for acknowledging the judge’s ruling in favor of the baker “sounded reasonable.” That’s a start.But Kimmel then goes off track when trying to portray what happened.In his skit, he plays a waiter who quizzes customers at his hypothetical restaurant, asking after they sat down but before serving them: “Are any of you gay?” After one woman says yes, he informs her his chef can’t make her a salad because he “believes homosexuality is a sin” (while offering her a salad made yesterday before “he knew you were gay”)—wrongly implying that the California baker did the exact same thing.ERROR #1: Kimmel wrongly portrays business owners as refusing to serve people because they identify as LGBTThis is simply false. How many times do we have to say it?What Kimmel portrayed is exactly what is NOT happening in the California case, Jack Phillips’ case, or any other.Neither Cathy Miller nor any of the other Christians being dragged into court over this issue is quizzing customers to see who identifies as LGBT or not, and sending them on their way if they say they are gay. They are only drawing the line at creating items and sending messages which violate their conscience.Nor is the issue when the item was baked; Jack Phillips and others are happy to sell a person identifying as LGBT cookies, cakes, brownies, etc.—whether made yesterday or today. Rather, the issue is whether the person of faith is being conscripted into using their talents in service of a proclamation against their will.Indeed, in his brief to the Supreme Court, Jack Phillips clearly stated that he “would decline to create a wedding cake celebrating a same-sex marriage regardless of whether the customer is a same-sex couple or a heterosexual parent purchasing the cake” (emphasis mine). Yet at the same time, he “would celebrate a marriage between a man and a woman even if one or both spouses identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual” (emphasis mine).In other words: this is not about the person; it’s about the message.ERROR #2: Kimmel tells the story of the potential customers, but not the business owners of faith.In doing this, Kimmel missed a big opportunity to tell the stories of business owners of faith like Jack Phillips and Cathy Miller—and how they are being harassed by government agencies and dragged into court over this issue right now.So what should Kimmel’s skit have shown?The waiter should have played the government and the customer could have played the wedding vendor, and it would have been largely on-point. Jack Phillips and others are simply seeking to stay in the marketplace (the table), yet the government is coming to them and telling them to get out unless they modify their Christian beliefs. This is also happening at the hands of the ACLU in Michigan, where Christian adoption providers have a seat at the table along with pro-LGBT providers. Yet the ACLU is suing the state to force the Christian groups to leave because of their beliefs.Kimmel’s own skit helps show this. Near the end, he referenced a Hindu chef who didn’t want to prepare a steak for a potential customer because of his religious beliefs. Now, just imagine if that Hindu chef’s job had been to simply prepare vegetable side dishes, and then one day all of a sudden his boss tells him to start preparing steaks—or be fired. Cathy Miller’s story is like this chef’s, and it is a story that needs to be told. If Jimmy Kimmel doesn’t tell it, we gladly will.
Generation X and Millennials are old news; we are now turning our attention to Generation Z, the youngest generation of all. One research outfit recently conducted a groundbreaking study of the way this group sees the world, including ultimate matters of life—faith, meaning, and the existence of God. (Though Gen Z is defined as those born between 1999 to 2015, for the purpose of this study only those between ages of 13 and 18 were included.)When looking at differences between Christian and non-Christian members of Gen Z, the study’s authors report one of their major findings to be that “the problem of evil is a major barrier to faith” for 29 percent of non-Christian members of Gen Z.While this finding is in a new study, the objection raised by Gen Z has been around much longer. Decades ago, British author and scholar C.S. Lewis, who was a non-believer for years during his youth, dealt with the problem of evil in his book The Problem of Pain. In its introduction, Lewis writes: “I never noticed that the very strength and facility of the pessimists’ case at once poses us a problem. If the universe is so bad, or even half so bad, how on earth did human beings ever come to attribute it to the activity of a wise and good Creator?”Indeed, the reality that human beings are able to recognize evil at all shows us that we are comparing it to something else—that which is good. And if we acknowledge that we recognize we have a moral compass, we should ask where its reference point is.By appealing to God (or against God) to correct those things which our moral compass tells us are off course, don’t we already recognize him as the source? And if he is the source, he exists indeed.This may seem counterintuitive, but the fact that members of Gen Z are struggling over the problem of evil is actually a hopeful sign. In raising this objection, as Lewis once did, they show they are at least on the road to faith—as Lewis was as a young man. Let us pray and seek out opportunities to help them arrive at their destination.
A poem in honor of Abraham Lincoln's birthday.An Ode to the Lincoln Memorial“In this temple,As in the hearts of the peopleFor whom he saved the Union,The memory of Abraham LincolnIs enshrined forever.”Seated at the top of a hill,A blanket of white stone surrounds him.Wise but weary eyesFace the world below.A shame, he did not knowHow the world in front of him Would grow.In the reflection of his eyes,The battle not yet won.The blood-stained fieldsDrenched with sacrifice, And the world remained blind.Had he seen the endOf the fight for peace?The end had only begun—Discrimination to increase.A nation torn, but strengthened With hope.Lincoln’s leadership never to cease.
How often does Congress have the chance to directly prevent, with a single legislative act, the certain infliction of extreme physical pain on thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of helpless and innocent victims?Last week, the U.S. Senate missed an opportunity to do just that when 44 Democrats and two Republicans closed down debate on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The Act would have prohibited abortion after 20 weeks (five months) gestation, a stage at which unborn children can experience excruciating physical pain.The science is so clear on this point that hospitals now give anesthesia to children at this age when they undergo surgery in utero. But not when they are aborted by dismemberment or by piercing their bodies with a large needle to inject poison that causes heart failure.What would possess an individual, much less 46 members of Congress, to oppose legislation prohibiting this cruelty?Only One PercentSenator Angus King (I-Maine) is quoted in The Washington Post saying that he voted against the Pain-Capable bill because “ninety-nine percent of abortions take place before 20 weeks, so this is a solution in search of a problem.”Really? Let’s take a look at his numbers.An estimated one million abortions are performed annually in the U.S. If one percent of those abortions take place after the fifth month, then there are some 10,000 abortions in which unborn children are subjected to the extreme physical pain of dismemberment or lethal injection. Preventing cruelty to 10,000 pre-identified human victims is “a solution in search of a problem”?King and his Senate colleagues are permitting the violent and cruel treatment of unborn children—behavior that we forbid against prisoners of war, that we strive to prevent in human trafficking, and that we prohibit in treatment of animals.“They’re about to die anyway,” some might argue. But we forbid this kind of treatment for death row inmates when they are being executed. Whatever you may think of the death penalty, at least efforts are made to protect its recipients from pain during execution. Not so for unborn children.Another One Percent ArgumentSenator Lisa Murkowski, (R-Alaska) tweeted that, though she opposes post-20-week abortion, she refused to support the Pain-Capable bill because it lacked “sufficient” exceptions for “victims of rape and incest and in cases where the life or physical health of the mother is threatened.”Murkowski illustrates her concern this way: “For example, requiring a teenage girl who was raped by her father to report to law enforcement or a government agency prior to obtaining an abortion simply is not workable.”Let’s take a look at her logic.In Murkowski’s world, it is better for a teen to be subjected to a high-risk, late-term abortion and to then return to her home—where she is at high risk for further sexual abuse—than for the girl, or her doctor, to inform authorities of the crime that has been committed against her and protect her from ongoing danger.And, in Murkowski’s thinking, ensuring that the girl can be placed in this physical double jeopardy is so important that it warrants leaving not only her unborn child and those of other rape victims unprotected from the extreme physical pain of abortion, but the 9,900 other five-month-old children, as well.Where did that 9,900 figure come from? Some estimates of abortions obtained in cases of rape are as high as one percent. So, of the 10,000 post-five-month abortions performed in the U.S. annually, approximately 100 are performed on rape victims. In other words, Murkowski voted to permit the excruciatingly painful abortion of 10,000 late-term children because 100 of them may be children of rapists.Senator King says one percent (10,000) is too small a number of victims to be worth protecting from the equivalent of torture. Senator Murkowski seems to think that most of them do deserve protection, but shouldn’t receive it because one percent (100) of them may have been conceived in rape. The logic itself is tortuous.Rare, But Not Non-ExistentOpportunities to pass legislation with such immediate humanitarian impact are rare, but not as rare as you might think. Versions of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act have been passed by the House of Representatives not once, not twice, but three times (in 2013, 2015, and—the bill the Senate just nixed—in 2017). Each time, the Senate has voted in favor of continuing the cruelty.How many times will it take before the Senate votes in line with science and basic humanitarianism?Jay Sappington is a bioethicist, researcher, writer, educator, and policy advocate. He has worked with Heartbeat International and The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, among others.
Anyone who has spent any time perusing the blogosphere knows that there are thousands upon thousands of articles out there giving advice on marriage. I’ve certainly read my fair share, so I thought it would be helpful to distill the reflections that I thought were most insightful into one place. In honor of National Marriage Week, here are my four favorite musings on the beauty of marriage.1. Take Your Vows Seriously So That You Will Always Have Someone to Tell the Truth ToOne of the primary blessings of marriage is that it gives us a lifelong partner to confide in, no matter how unbearable life may become. The freedom that comes with the ability to be completely open and honest with our spouses is a wonderful thing. Jordan Peterson put it this way:What do you do when you get married? You take someone who’s just as useless and horrible as you are, and then you shackle yourself to them. And then you say, we’re not running away no matter what happens…If you can run away, you can’t tell each other the truth…If you don’t have someone around that can’t run away, then you can’t tell them the truth. If you can leave, then you don’t have to tell each other the truth. It’s as simple as that, because you can just leave. And then you don’t have anyone to tell the truth to.2. Use Your Spouse’s Criticism as an Opportunity to Deepen Your LoveBest-selling author Dr. Warren Farrell speaks of the critical importance of how we handle criticism from our spouse:Making marriages better serves everyone. Many couples with children who are legally married are psychologically divorced. Divorces are due less to problems with money, sex or children, and more to each partner feeling that her or his perspectives on money, sex, or children are rarely heard. When our partner airs her or his perspective, we often take it as criticism, and the Achilles’ heel of human beings is our inability to handle personal criticism from a loved one without becoming defensive.…I introduce in The Boy Crisis my “Altered Mindsets Method of Non-defensive Communication,” which has allowed couples to emotionally associate their partner’s criticism as an opportunity to deepen their love. It’s a method I have honed over two decades via couples’ communication workshops… [E]mpathy communication skills need to be part of every elementary school’s core curriculum… This is the most important single global change for love in our families and peace in the world.3. Sustaining Love Does Not Come NaturallyDr. Farrell further explains how sustaining love within a marriage does not come naturally, but yet this is an absolute must not only for the couple themselves, but for their children: “…[W]e have a ‘love dilemma’: while ‘falling in love’ is biologically natural, sustaining love is biologically unnatural. For our children to not fear marriage, then, they need to see that their parents have learned how to do what does not come naturally: sustain love.”So how can couples sustain love? Here is a great compilation of ways to do this in everyday life.4. ‘Thank you for choosing me.’This is from “Marriage According to 10 Couples”:“‘Thank you for choosing me.’ We often spontaneously use this line, communicating how grateful or undeserving we feel to be given such a genuine love. We’ve quickly learned that it is a choice that comes with each new sunrise in marriage, and it’s the deep confidence found in the other’s daily commitment that has moved mountains internally in our first year as newlyweds. ‘Thank you for choosing me …’ They are words we’ll whisper in each other’s ear well into old age; I’m certain of it.”—Angela Hoyer
Cecile Richards has announced she will resign this year as President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America after 12 years at the helm.Under her leadership, Planned Parenthood has come under federal investigation by both the Department of Justice and the FBI for illegally selling body parts of aborted children. Two of Planned Parenthood’s California customers for those baby parts have already admitted guilt and have payed over $7 million in a legal settlement for breaking state and federal laws that prohibit the practice. But this is only one of many scandals during her tenure. Planned Parenthood has been convicted of Medicaid billing fraud in several states. It has failed to report suspected physical abuse of clients, covered up alleged prostitution pimps, and recommended that underage clients falsify documents, for example. And, tragically, women have died from Planned Parenthood abortions.Under her leadership, Planned Parenthood has consistently claimed that abortion is not their core business. This has again and again been exposed for the sham that it is. Even as the overall abortion rate in the U.S. declines, and their own client base shrinks, Planned Parenthood remains the abortion industry’s largest business, performing over 320,000 abortions per year, about a third of the nation’s annual total. Former Planned Parenthood Clinic Director Abby Johnson, who left the organization in 2009, wrote that being assigned abortion sales quotas was the beginning of the end of her relationship with the abortion giant.Planned Parenthood’s own annual reports belie Cecile’s claim that they are an essential provider of non-abortion services to women. In fact, their non-abortion services are in steep decline. Out of 9.5 million “services” provided in 2016-17, for example, only 7,762 were for prenatal care—a miniscule 0.0008%, which is an 80% drop since 2009. Adoption referrals were even more rare at just under 3,889 (0.0004%). Breast exams are down 64% since 2004 (these are the equivalent of self-exams—no Planned Parenthood center is licensed to do mammograms, despite Richards’ years of public assertions to the contrary). At an organization claiming to be the nation’s premier and essential provider of reproductive health care, that’s a remarkable failure to serve.During Richards’ tenure, Planned Parenthood has continued the veneration of its founder, Margaret Sanger, a leading proponent of racial eugenics, who saw Planned Parenthood (originally named The Birth Control League) as a way to prevent the propagation of “human weeds”—reproduction by segments of society she deemed deplorable and unfit to live. Today, 22 of Planned Parenthood’s 25 new abortion “mega-clinics” are strategically placed within walking distance of minority neighborhoods. And every year, Planned Parenthood awards their “highest honor”—the Margaret Sanger Award—to political leaders, members of the media, and others who promote the organization’s abortion business and support funding the organization with tax dollars.Meanwhile, Americans are catching on to the scandal of Planned Parenthood’s tax dollar revolving door. The organization receives a whopping half a billion dollars in tax money each year from grants and Medicaid reimbursements. Its political action arm in turn donates millions to the election campaigns of candidates who will vote for continuing the tax funding. “Your tax dollars at work.”Cecile Richards knows most Americans oppose paying for elective abortions with taxes, and she knows Planned Parenthood is poised to lose substantial tax monies in the coming months. Several states have already begun redirecting Medicaid subsidies away from Planned Parenthood to existing community health centers that provide more services than Planned Parenthood, but do not perform abortions. There have also been moves in Congress to end federal funding of Planned Parenthood’s business. With Planned Parenthood’s network of clinics shrinking (they have closed over 250 centers in the past few years) and their non-abortion services declining precipitously, there is no justification for the increased tax funding the nation’s largest abortion business has garnered each year for so many years. The money would be much better spent to support the over 13,500 community health clinics nationwide that provide a wider array of services to a much broader geographic and demographic swath of the population than the abortion giant does.Cecile’s resignation gives Planned Parenthood the opportunity to come clean and clean house.It’s a good time to come clean about the baby parts business some of their centers have been running out the back door, and clean house of anyone involved.It’s a good time to come clean about the central purpose of their business—performing abortions—and clean house of anyone misrepresenting that crucial truth. It’s a good time to come clean about Margaret Sanger’s eugenicist vision, and to renounce the practice of targeting communities of color.And it’s a good time for Planned Parenthood to stand on its own two financial feet instead of demanding that taxpayers provide over half a billion dollars annually to a business whose main product—abortion—is something Americans don’t believe taxpayers should pay for.Jay Sappington is a bioethicist, researcher, writer, educator, and policy advocate. He has worked with Heartbeat International and The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, among others.
Dear Friends,Did you know that there is a genocide happening as you read this?Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) is a country to the south of China, in between Bangladesh and Thailand. The country is predominantly Buddhist—almost 90 percent. There is a small ethnic minority group of people there called the Rohingya, who are mostly Muslim, with a minority practicing Hinduism. The Rohingya people have been systematically denied citizenship, education, and jobs in Myanmar despite tracing their history there to the eighth century. This has led to them facing persecution by the Myanmar military over the last 40 years.In late 2016, the persecution became much worse as the military began a campaign of extermination, which has included infanticide, gang rape, and arson. This has caused a massive refugee crisis, with over 700,000 fleeing west to Bangladesh. Now, new reports are surfacing that mass graves are being uncovered, which shows that the crisis is devolving into a genocide.It can be hard as American Christians to feel much of a connection with a crisis that is happening on the other side of the world between those of different faiths. But it’s important to remember to pray specifically for an end to such inhumane atrocities like genocide no matter where it is happening, especially for a tragedy like this that is not getting much media attention. When we prioritize our prayer for those who are undergoing the most acute suffering, grace will abound all the more.Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council FRC ArticlesPlanned Parenthood's annual report is out: Another unhappy tale – Cathy RuseAmericans are ready for meaningful limits on abortion – Tony PerkinsChristians in the Middle East are suffering. When will aid promised by Team Trump arrive? – Tony PerkinsPublic School Assembly Tells Kids That Sex Changes Are Perfectly Normal – Cathy RuseNew York Times Spreads Fake News About Sexual Orientation Therapy – Peter SpriggCan the LGBT Movement Own a Phrase? – Travis WeberA Woman’s Right to Not Be Pressured to Abort – Dan HartReligious Freedom Day: A Call to Action Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareCourt tells University of Iowa to stop discriminating against religious student groups – Nicole Russell, Washington ExaminerJustice Dept backs archdiocese in Christmas transit ad fight – Fox NewsNew Harvard Research Says U.S. Christianity Is Not Shrinking, But Growing Stronger – Glenn T. Stanton, The FederalistFire Captain Fired for Sending Christian Emails Victorious at State Supreme Court – Samuel Smith, The Christian PostNew Bill Would Allow Public High School Coaches to Pray With Students in Georgia – Samuel Smith, The Christian PostWhat the New York Times Gets Wrong about Conscience – David French, National ReviewThe War On The Hippocratic Oath – Wesley J. Smith, First ThingsInternational Religious FreedomPraying for the persecuted church: Eritrea – Zachary Jones, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionAP Investigation Details Shocking Massacre, Mass Graves Of Myanmar Rohingya – Scott Neuman, NPRMilitary Religious FreedomAtheists Urge Defense Secretary to End Religious Favoritism in the Military – Hemant Mehta, Patheos LifeAbortionLove is and always will be the basis of the pro-life movement – Jeanne Mancini, The HillScience Is Giving the Pro-Life Movement a Boost – Emma Green, The AtlanticWhy the Pro-Life Movement Will Live Long, and Prosper – Mary Eberstadt, First ThingsMillennials have a surprising view on later-term abortions – Eugene Scott, The Washington PostThree in Four Americans Favor Substantial Abortion Restrictions – Brendan Kirby, LifeZetteAdoptionWhy orphan prevention is an important part of the pro-life ethic – Christy Britton, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionGeorgia House Passes Sweeping Changes to Adoption Code – Ben Nadler, APSweet Home couple hope to fund adoption with new book – Alex Paul, Albany Democrat-HeraldBioethicsThey’ve cloned monkeys. Here’s why we should be very afraid of what’s next – John Burger, AleteiaObamacareObamacare Continues to Crush Small Business Owners in 2018 – Whitney Jones, The Daily SignalSenator Questions CBO’s Political Neutrality Over Obamacare Numbers – Kyle Perisic, The Daily Signal FamilyEconomics/EducationHomeschooling Is Not a Crime – Michelle Malkin, The Daily SignalCan We Stop Fighting Over Schools? – Charles L. Glenn, Public DiscourseMarriageAre millennials putting a little too much effort into parenting? – Chloe Langr, AleteiaWhen Bad Marriages Happen to Good People – Patti Armstrong, National Catholic RegisterThis odd phrase may be the best thing you can say to newlyweds – Marcin Gomólka, AleteiaNumber of Married Couples With Kids Hits 56-Year Low – Terence P. Jeffrey, CNS NewsThe Unexpected Ways a Baby Tested Our Marriage Vows – Elizabeth Nogan Ranieri, VerilyFaith/Character/CultureDoes Trump Get a Moral Mulligan? – Michael Brown, The StreamThe Last Gasps of Outrage Culture? – Heather Wilhelm, National ReviewMost of Life Is Waiting – Jani Ortlund, Desiring GodVideo: William Lane Craig and Bishop Robert Barron discuss evangelism, faith and science, secularism, and morePrisoners Are Not Animals – Alexi Sargeant, First ThingsHuman SexualityPowerless to Say No? Study Looks at Teenage Girls and Sexting – Alysse ElHage, Family StudiesHow to Talk to Your Kids About Sex in a Sex-Obsessed Culture – Marcia Segelstein, National Catholic RegisterThe Medical Monsters Among Us – Austin Ruse, CrisisTransgenderism: A State-Sponsored Religion? – Andre Van Mol, Public DiscourseSame-Sex Attraction and the Wait for Change – Nick Roen, Desiring GodThe Philosophical Contradictions of the Transgender Worldview – Ryan T. Anderson, Public DiscourseHuman TraffickingThe Super Bowl is for Football, Not Buying Sex – Haley Halverson, National Center on Sexual ExploitationUnderstanding The Heartbreaking Sex Trafficking Industry In The Philippines – Fight the New DrugSex Trafficking: 4 Things You Can Do to Help Sexually Exploited Victims in America – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostPornographyPornography: It’s Not Really About Sex, And Here’s Why – Fight the New Drug
On January 25, 2018, the New York Times ran an op-ed by Sam Brinton under the headline, “Tortured in Gay Conversion Therapy.” (The online version posted January 24 read, “I Was Tortured in Gay Conversion Therapy. And It’s Still Legal in 41 States.”) Brinton frequently speaks and testifies in favor of laws to prohibit licensed therapists from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts (which opponents refer to as “conversion therapy”) with minors. (FRC’s defense of the right to choose such therapy can be found here).Brinton gives a shocking, first-person account. It includes this:The therapist ordered me bound to a table to have ice, heat and electricity applied to my body. I was forced to watch clips on a television of gay men holding hands, hugging and having sex. I was supposed to associate those images with the pain I was feeling to once and for all turn into a straight boy.I have just one question for the New York Times. Did you make any effort to fact-check Brinton’s claims?This is an opinion piece, you might respond. Since it reflects the writer’s opinion, it does not require fact-checking the way a news story does—does it?The truth is, newspapers fact-check opinion pieces all the time. Various publications and websites routinely ask for links or other documentation for factual claims made in an opinion piece.Brinton’s piece, though, was a first-person account of his own experience. How can you “fact-check” someone’s personal life experience?One way might be by checking it against previous accounts that Brinton himself has given of his own story. He has, after all, been sharing these allegations in the public square since 2010. If there are inconsistencies in the way he has described his own experience on different occasions, it might at least raise some doubts about the credibility of the overall account.Brinton’s Story UnverifiedI first wrote about Brinton’s story three and a half years ago on the FRC Blog, in an August 2014 piece titled, “Truth Matters in Ex-Gay Debate.” Part of what follows is an edited version of what I wrote then, with added comments at the end.Brinton’s story was apparently first captured, when he was a student at Kansas State, in a video interview by Nathan Manske of the “I’m from Driftwood” project, which seeks to create an “archive of stories” on “what it’s like to be LGBTQ throughout the world.” Brinton’s story was captured on video in 2010, but received a burst of attention in October of 2011, when Manske shared it in the Huffington Post. Although the Huffington Post article remains online, a passage I quoted in 2014 does not (the web page says it was “updated” December 6, 2017). However, a detailed recounting of Brinton’s story (along with an edited version of the original video) remains online at the website of The New Civil Rights Movement. That account includes these details:“Physical therapy was my hands being tied down and blocks of ice being placed on my hands. Then pictures of men holding hands would be shown to be so that way I would associate the concept of the pain of the ice with a man touching me.”“Then we went into heat. Coils would be wrapped around my hands and you would be able to turn the heat on or off. So now if we had a picture of a guy and a girl hugging, there was no pain. If we had a picture of a guy and a guy hugging, we had physical pain.”“We then went into the ‘Month of Hell,’” Brinton explains in the video below. “The ‘Month of Hell’ consisted of tiny needles being stuck into my fingers and then pictures of explicit acts between men would be shown and I’d be electrocuted.”This report was so shocking that even some pro-“gay” media tried to verify this report—but couldn’t.One of the inconsistencies pointed out by commenters on this article (on a gay website) was that “Brinton’s Facebook page ‘has a picture of the entire happy family at his college graduation ceremony, May 31, 2011’”—despite the fact that Brinton said on the video that “my dad has held a gun up to my head multiple times” and warned Brinton that “he would shoot me if I ever tried to walk in the door again.” (Brinton responded in the comments section that “my parents did come to my graduation since I am the very first person to graduate from college in my family. I am working on building a relationship to them . . . I was shocked they were there but so happy to see the love starting to rebuild.”)The Mystery TherapistMore importantly, Brinton, had not (in 2011) and (as far as I know) still has not, identified the counselor who allegedly engaged in these horrific practices—not by name, not by address, not even by city and state where they occurred (more on that later).Such omissions made even Wayne Besen, a prominent “anti-ex-gay” activist, reluctant to use Brinton’s story without further verification. Here’s the full statement Besen posted in the comments section of the Queerty article which questioned Brinton’s story.[emphasis added] Wayne BesenSamuel came forward and told a story presumably in an effort to help others. There are groups like mine who would be thrilled to use his example to demonstrate the harm caused by “ex-gay” therapy. We live for real life examples like this.However, until he provides more information to verify his experience, he makes it impossible for us to use him as an example. Indeed, it would be grossly irresponsible for us to do so.If a group like mine puts out or promotes a story that turns out to be exaggerated or fake, the religious right would rake us through the coals and by extension the entire LGBT community. This would cast an ominous shadow on all of the legitimate ex-ex-gay testimonies that have helped so many people come out of the closet.So, for the sake of the movement he is trying to help — it is critical that Sam reveal exactly who the therapist was that tortured him. He could do this publicly or privately, but we need more information before we can use his narrative.We very much hope he will provide enough information so we can help people by sharing his compelling story.Sincerely,Wayne BesenTruth Wins OutOct 11, 2011 at 8:51 pmHere is part of Brinton’s reply to Besen:I was indirectly in contact with Wayne and although I know he wants me to send the information of the therapist that is simply not an option. Counselor after counselor has seen me revert to near suicidal tendencies when I try to dig deep into the memories of that time and I simply don’t have his name. I can picture him clear as day in my nightmares but his name is not there. The movement can’t use me I guess.I have no problem with people not believing my story. It is not for me to try to prove. I don’t want to be the poster-child of the anti-conversion therapy movement since graduate school at MIT is plenty tough as it is.. . .Oct 14, 2011 at 2:11 amMemory and ForgettingNote that Brinton says of his therapist, “I can picture him clear as day in my nightmares”—but, as far as I know, he has also never provided a physical description of this individual.The entire subject of whether childhood trauma can result in repressed memories (as Brinton apparently asserts) is a controversial one. See, for example, the American Psychological Association’s Q&A on the topic here. It states:Many clinicians who work with trauma victims believe that this dissociation is a person's way of sheltering himself or herself from the pain of the memory. Many researchers argue, however, that there is little or no empirical support for such a theory.Even if the former theory is accepted, in Brinton’s case his amnesia is hardly “sheltering [him] from the pain of the memory.” It seems illogical that Brinton would be able to remember—and repeatedly recount in detail before cameras, in paid speaking engagements, and at legislative hearings—the excruciating details of the “torture” he claims he experienced, while repressing (to the point of becoming “near suicidal” at efforts to retrieve them) only the memories of the details—such as name or city—which might allow some verification of his account.Other Discrepancies in Brinton’s StoryDefenders of the right of people with same-sex attractions to pursue therapy aimed at reducing those attractions last year posted a YouTube video highlighting other problems with the story Brinton has told. For example, in one videotaped speech Brinton said that his therapy was provided by “a doctor.” Yet in one of the first written accounts of his story, from August of 2011, it says his therapy came at the hands of “the session leader¿who Sam specifies was a ‘religious therapist’ and not a doctor.” In yet another video—apparently of Brinton testifying in support of a legislative therapy ban—he says specifically that he was treated by “a licensed psychotherapist.” Note that legislative bans on “sexual orientation change efforts” or “conversion therapy” (a term never actually used by its practitioners) apply only to licensed professionals, not to “religious” counselors.Even the state in which Brinton underwent his alleged therapy is unclear. In the 2010 “Driftwood” video, Brinton says he grew up in Perry, Iowa. When the video was re-posted at the Huffington Post in October 2011, the article repeated that “Sam was raised in rural Iowa.” However, the Bay Windows account from August 2011 (reposted at LGBTQ Nation) said that Brinton “endured years of reparative therapy designed to ‘cure’ him of his homosexuality while living in Kansas.” Only two paragraphs later, however, it says, “Sam was a pre-teen, living with his parents in a conservative religious mission in Florida,” when his ordeal began. In his New York Times op-ed, he says it all happened “when I was a middle schooler in Florida.” So which was it—Iowa, Kansas, or Florida?Has Brinton Changed?There is one more discrepancy. In his Times op-ed, Brinton says his “conversion therapy” was “a trauma that was meant to erase my existence as a newly out bisexual.” This is the first time I have heard Brinton refer to himself as “bisexual.” The August 2011 Bay Windows article begins with the sentence, “Samuel Brinton is not afraid to say he’s gay.”Ironically, if Brinton went from identifying as gay in 2011 to identifying as “bisexual and gender fluid” in 2018, maybe he himself is proof that change is possible after all.
In response to a recent video from the ministry Anchored North featuring a girl named Emily explaining sin, forgiveness, and the truth about God’s view of sexuality, The Guardian published a story titled: “‘Love Is Love’: media firm uses LGBT language to send anti-gay message.”Whoa, stop right there! Whoever decided that “LGBT language” was a thing? And who made who the arbiter of it?Well, no one did, but the animated response of The Guardian reminds us of an important point: the LGBT movement has indeed been using language, very purposefully, to advance its goals over the years.In its article, The Guardian reports: “At one point in the video, Emily uses the popular LGBT-affirming phrase ‘born this way,’ but twists it to say that all humans are born with sin, but there is hope in Jesus.”Who gave the LGBT movement ownership of the phrase “born this way?” No one did, but they took it and used it. However, words are words, and they can describe things besides what the LGBT movement wants them to describe. Some of these things are sin, repentance, and forgiveness.While it accuses Christians of twisting “LGBT language,” the Guardian piece simply regurgitates terms frequently twisted by the LGBT movement itself to advance its ends. Yet that movement has no monopoly on language. From the animosity shown toward this threat to its hold over certain terminology, however, one realizes the importance of emotive language and certain images to the LGBT movement achieving its ends.As reported later in the Guardian piece, one woman responded to Emily’s story by saying:“Any attempt to change someone’s sexual or gender identity, even through something as subtle as prayer, is conversion therapy.” (emphasis added)Let this be a cultural moment for Christians in America to wake up and mark the importance of language and how we use it, along with recognizing the seriousness of the opposition to the gospel and God’s truth displayed here. If Americans who share these basic Christian beliefs on sexuality think they can side-step the cultural battles, they need to remind themselves of the above woman’s hostility to even prayer being a solution. That should wake us all up.
A new study of women who have undergone abortions reveals what many in the pro-life movement have known for years: that “a woman’s right to choose” is more often than not no choice at all.The study was recently published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons by Bowling Green State University professor Priscilla K. Coleman. Of the 987 post-abortive women who were surveyed, 58 percent said that they had their abortions in order to “make others happy,” with over 28 percent saying they had the abortion because “they feared their partner would leave them” if they did not. In addition, almost half of the women believed that their unborn baby was indeed a “human being at the time of the abortion.” In perhaps the most heartbreaking statistic, fully 66 percent of women “said they knew in their hearts that they were making a mistake when they underwent the abortion.”This study explodes a number of myths perpetuated by abortion activists. Chief among them is that abortion must be available on demand in order to preserve women’s “reproductive freedom” and “choice.” But what is painfully clear from this most recent study is that just the opposite is true. Instead of empowering women to make their own reproductive choices, abortion on demand more often empowers men to use abortion as a kind of cudgel to hold over their wife or girlfriend’s heads and demand that they make an appointment down at the local Planned Parenthood to get rid of the unwanted baby for a quick and easy $300. In other words, abortion provides an easy way for men to avoid the responsibility that is inherent in the sexual relationship that they share with their wife or girlfriend.Meanwhile, the woman is left to pick up the pieces. As the study reveals, a majority of these women are completely unprepared for the emotional devastation that abortion causes. Only 13 percent visited a mental health professional before their abortions, but after the procedure, the percentage skyrocketed to 67.5 percent. Similarly, only 6.6 percent of women reported using prescription drugs before their abortions; afterwards, 51 percent reported prescription drug use.There are so many devastating lessons that can be drawn from these findings—the failure of men to own up to their responsibilities and show true love for their wives and girlfriends; the failure of the abortion industry to properly warn women of the psychological effects of abortion; the failure of our culture to see sex as a sacred act that should be treated with respect due to its inherent power of human procreation.One positive that can come out of this study is just the fact that it exists at all. This is precisely the kind of information that the abortion industry is desperate to cover up, because it so clearly and directly contradicts their “woman’s right to choose” mantra that they have been espousing for decades. This study is the latest example of a light of truth illuminating the darkness of abortion, and when it is shared on social media and blogged about by thousands of people (hint, hint), the darkness cannot overcome it (see John 1:5).Studies like these should strengthen the resolve of all of us in the pro-life movement, and give us an extra spring in our step as we join the March for Life tomorrow in Washington, D.C., not only to speak up for millions of tiny innocent lives, but to speak up for millions of mothers who are forced to carry the excruciating yet invisible weight of their offspring’s death on their shoulders, a weight that they will carry for the rest of their lives.
President Ronald Reagan once said, “To those who cite the First Amendment as reason for excluding God from more and more of our institutions and everyday life, may I just say: the First Amendment to the Constitution was not written to protect the people of this country from religious values, it was written to protect religious values from government tyranny.”Yesterday was Religious Freedom Day, and in recognition of this important day to celebrate this indispensable freedom, FRC hosted a Washington Watch Special Report with Tony Perkins. The first guest, Senator James Lankford (R-Ok.), pointed out that it’s currently an “odd season” for Christians who want to live out their faith. “Religious freedom and the free expression of your faith has been a given throughout American history, and now for some reason, people of this country and in this cultural time are becoming afraid of faith and afraid of people of faith.” He went on to emphasize that there cannot be a “wall of separation” between one’s faith and the public square that they participate in through their job or through recreation, echoing Reagan’s proper interpretation of the First Amendment.An unfortunate tendency in our culture today is for many people of faith to assume that there must be a “wall of separation” between their public and private faith lives. But as Senator Lankford underscored, that’s not the proper understanding of a truly lived faith: “If church and faith is only something you do on the weekend, that’s not a faith, that’s a hobby … A faith permeates everything that you do.”Next, former Congressman Frank Wolf joined Tony to discuss international religious liberty issues. He declared religious liberty to be at greater risk today than it was 40 years ago, with 5.5 billion people currently living in religiously repressive nations. He also pointed out the outrageous fact that Squire Patton Boggs, one of the most powerful law firms in Washington, D.C., represents persecutors of religious freedom like Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, an indicted war criminal, as well as China, which imprisons and executes Christians, Buddhists, and Uyghurs.Wolf also issued a strong challenge to pastors and churches to stand up more forcefully for those being persecuted around the world for their faith. “I think we need some men like Martin Luther King. I think we need pastors to go to jail. I am disappointed in the church. There are exceptions … but overall the church has fundamentally failed.” Wolf also mentioned the current anti-Semitism phenomenon happening on college campuses, and how the “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” movement is in reality thinly-veiled anti-Semitism. When asked what we can all do to fight religious persecution, Wolf emphasized the fundamental importance of prayer, supporting groups like Voice of the Martyrs, Open Doors and Samaritan’s Purse, contacting congressmen and senators about religious liberty legislation, and hosting a “religious freedom day” at your church.Dr. Alveda King was the show’s next guest, and she pointed out that religious liberty issues are particularly relevant to her personally in light of a recent incident in which Facebook blocked ads from being displayed advertising a movie about Roe v. Wade that she served as an executive producer for. She quoted her uncle Martin Luther King who said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”Ryan Bomberger, who is a tireless advocate for the unborn and for equal justice through his Radiance Foundation, closed out the show, noting that he himself was the target of a free speech lawsuit filed by the NAACP, who didn’t like the fact that he was unafraid to point out the organization’s support for the abortion of black children. He also underscored the need for Christians to be fearless in living out their faith: “What good is religious liberty if we are silent? What good is that freedom if we are complacent?” He also noted how fundamental these issues are: “Without religious freedom, America no longer matters. Without life, nothing else matters. So for me, those two issues [religious freedom and the right to life] go hand in hand, and that’s why the Radiance Foundation really sees these things as so imperative, and why we have to fight for both.”Tony and Ryan both emphasized the need for more courage among Christians to boldly stand up against injustice and live out their faith without fear. This could mean something as simple as posting an article about the importance of religious freedom on Facebook without being afraid of the negative comments. As Ryan succinctly put it, “At the heart of Christianity is self-sacrifice. Self-sacrifice unleashes purpose. When we’re courageous, we enable opportunities to happen that allow others to be set free.”Be sure to listen to the entire Washington Watch Special Report or watch the archived Facebook webcast.
Dear Friends,Over and over, the New Testament gives us a “simple” commandment: love one another (John 13:34, 15:12, 1 John 3:11, Romans 13:8, Ephesians 4:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:9, etc.). It sounds simple, but we all know that putting this commandment into practice is anything but.When we are reminded to love one another, it’s easy to get discouraged by thinking of all the times we have failed to show love to our neighbor. C.S. Lewis provides an insightful way to think about how we can develop a habit of love by using the metaphor of mathematics. When we study math, we don’t begin by trying to understand calculus—we start with basic addition. In the same way, we learn to love by first loving our family—the basic unit of society from which we come from. This plays out in small, everyday acts of love, like forgiving your spouse for leaving the sink piled high with dirty dishes, or forgiving your child for blurting out an insult.Once we gain this habit of love in our families, we can more easily transfer the habit to everyone we meet in our everyday lives. But it is still quite difficult, as we all know, because unloving feelings seem to naturally bubble up within us out of nowhere, and they are often difficult to shake. One example is when we are driving on a highway, and we are abruptly cut off by another driver who changes lanes right in front of us, forcing us to slow down. The immediate reaction is one of resentment, and we are often tempted to react in equal measure, perhaps by speeding up to tailgate them. But this is a failure to love one another. As C.S. Lewis has written, “The feeling of resentment, the desire for payback, must be simply killed. It is hard work, but the attempt is not impossible.”When we feel the inklings of resentment building up within us, we must stop them before they become worse. Instead of letting your anger rise, take a deep breath and ask Jesus for the grace to forgive the person who has wronged you. Say a prayer for the person, asking the Lord to help them see the truth. When we begin to form this kind of habit of forgiveness and practice it over and over again, it will with time blossom into a way of life. When God sees our attempts at love, however small they may be, He pours His grace into our lives, giving us continued strength to persevere in love.On this Martin Luther King Day, let us be especially mindful of the importance of loving one another in order to bring about increased harmony between those of different ethnicities and cultures.Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council FRC ArticlesVoices From The Grave Cry Out For Justice In Iran – Ken BlackwellEvery Vote Really Does Count – Ken BlackwellWill Republicans Finish The Job for Seniors And Small Businesses? – Ken BlackwellChai Feldblum Should Not Be Reappointed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – Peter SpringWhat You Can Do to Fight Sex Trafficking – Dan HartOregon State Appeals Court Rules Against Aaron and Melissa Klein – Travis WeberHow the New Tax Bill Helps Families – Andrew GuernseyA Pastor’s Take on the Sex Abuse Scandals of 2017 – Andrew HebertThe Rich History of Christmas Traditions – Dan Hart Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareIs Your Church Prepared to Handle a Challenge to its Religious Liberty? – Erik Stanley, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionWhat the Founders Understood About Religious Freedom That We Must Recover – Michael Berry, The Daily SignalChristian school fights Michigan Township for right to operate out of a church – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionFEMA to Allow Churches to Receive Disaster Relief After Key Policy Change – Samuel Smith, The Christian PostCalif. County Allows Christian Group to Display Nativity Scene on Public Property for Epiphany – Michael Gryboski, The Christian PostTop 5 religious liberty stories of 2017 – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionAtheist Group Forces Louisiana Sheriff's Office to Remove Christian Facebook Posts – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post"Free to Believe"Judge Gives Partial Victory to Fired Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran – Michael Gryboski, The Christian PostChristian Couple Who Lost Bakery After Heavy Fine for Not Making Lesbian Wedding Cake Loses Appeal – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostNJ Gives Christian Teacher 3-Year Suspension After Facebook Post on Homosexuality – Samuel Smith, The Christian PostInternational Religious FreedomItaly Faces ‘Dark Future’ After Passing New End-of-Life Law – Edward Pentin, National Catholic RegisterUnder Justin Trudeau, Canada marches towards totalitarianism – Dorothy Cummings McLean, LifeSiteNewsChristians in Egypt Celebrate Christmas Amid Tight Security – The Christian PostChina church demolition sparks fears of campaign against Christians – Benjamin Haas, The Guardian LifeAbortionThe new pro-life generation – Leigh Jones, WORLDFrom Ireland to Africa: What Happened in the Pro-Life Movement in 2017 – Liberty McArtor, The StreamPlanned Parenthood: We Did 321,384 Abortions; Got $543.7 Million in Tax Dollars – Terence P. Jeffrey, CNS NewsPath to pro-life: Overcoming pro-abortion peer pressure with facts – Marvin Olasky, WORLDOhio passes Down syndrome abortion ban – Samantha Gobba, WORLDUnsafe: Ambulance calls to abortion facilities doubled in 2017 – Rebecca Downs, Live ActionCourt strikes down Baltimore law on pregnancy centers – Associated PressWomen Describe Trauma of Abortion in Survey; Nearly 3 in 5 Abortions Done 'To Make Others Happy' – Brandon Showalter, The Christian PostHow Abortion Pills Upend the Politics and Practice of Abortion – Rebecca Oas, C-FamAdoptionMother records heartfelt message for her son before he's placed for adoption – KOATBioethicsSix Things You Need to Know about Physician-Assisted Suicide – Nancy Valko, Public DiscoursePhysicians Cannot Serve Both Death and Life – Gerard T. Mundy, Public DiscourseHealth CareTrump Rule Aims to Extend Health Care Option to 11 Million Uninsured – Fred Lucas, The Daily Signal FamilyEconomics/EducationTaxes and Parental Educational Autonomy – John Grondelski, Ethika Politika4 Of The Biggest Myths About The Tax Cuts And Jobs Act – Justin Haskins, The FederalistA Good Guide: A Winsome Argument for Virtue in Business – John Yoest, The StreamHow Common Core Taught Me Bureaucrats Will Always Win Unless We Slash Big Government – Jenni White, The FederalistCommunicating Key Truths About Marriage and Family in the University Classroom – D. Scott Sibley, Family StudiesMarriageWhat's the Secret to Great Marriage in the New Year? – Erin Smalley, Focus on the FamilyIf Women Want A Family, They Need To Prioritize Marriage Above Their Careers – Suzanne Venker, The Federalist7 New Year’s Resolutions for a Healthier Marriage in 2018 – Alysse ElHage, Family StudiesHow to Live Out the Gospel in Your Marriage – Kaitlin Curtice, RelevantFaith/Character/CultureWhy MLK's Vision of Love as a Moral Imperative Still Matters – Joshua F.J. Inwood, Intellectual TakeoutThe Anomaly of Being an Anti-Drifter – Jared Zimmerer, Word On FireCreation waits: Incarnation and resurrection are the pulse of the world – Janie B. Cheaney, WORLDA Modest Suggestion: Perhaps Things Aren’t That Bad – Heather Wilhelm, National ReviewThe Supernatural Foundation of Charity – Gary A. Anderson, PrinciplesThe Fatal Flaw of Going It Alone – RelevantBe True to Yourself – Jon Bloom, Desiring God6 Ways to practice being kinder – Cynthia Dermody, AleteiaModesty and Charity – Anthony Esolen, The Catholic ThingHuman SexualityManhood Is Not Natural – Glenn Stanton, Public DiscourseA great sexual reckoning – Mindy Belz, WORLDIn Defense of Prudery – David Sandifer, TouchstoneMilitary to begin accepting transgender recruits after Trump delays appeal – Julia Manchester, The HillThe Cure for Toxic Masculinity is Real Masculinity – Robin Koerner, The StreamPsychologist Says Teens Need to Stop Asking for Nude Texts – Katherine Blakeman, National Center on Sexual ExploitationCDC study shows decline in teen sex during abstinence education period – Fr. Mark Hodges, LifeSiteNewsHow Their Refusal To Tolerate Dissent Is Creating A Global Backlash Against LGBT People – Stefano Gennarini, The FederalistHuman Trafficking5 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Sex Trafficking In Your Daily Life – Fight the New DrugHow to Participate in National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month 2018 – Haley Halverson, National Center on Sexual ExploitationHarvey Weinstein Isn't Unusual: Sexual Abuse and Trafficking in the United States – Mary Rose Somarriba, Public DiscourseBill to Aid Victims of Child Pornography Passes Senate Judiciary Committee – National Catholic RegisterPornographyYour Brain on Porn – Katherine Blakeman, National Center on Sexual Exploitation16 Need-To-Know Facts About How Porn Is Impacting Our Society – Fight the New Drug
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. There are an estimated 20 to 30 million human trafficking victims in the world today, with an estimated 4.5 million of those forcibly involved in sex trafficking. In the U.S., an estimated 640,000 are being trafficked for sex.These numbers are profoundly disturbing, and it can be tempting to feel discouraged that ordinary citizens like us are powerless to help these victims and to help stop the demand for paid sex. In reality, there are a number of ways that all of us can help in the fight. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation and Fight the New Drug have both published a list of practical ways we can all join the cause. Here is a brief summary of what you can do:1. Do Not View or Pay for PornAs we have written about previously, porn and sex trafficking are inseparably linked. Each click of pornography creates a demand for more pornography and brings in a profit to the industry. The demand causes traffickers, pimps, and those involved in the sex industry to abuse their victims by filming them in sex acts.2. Learn How to Identify Potential Victims and Report Suspicious ActivityIf you think you see suspicious activity happening wherever you are, be sure you have learned about what to look for. The Department of Homeland Security has published Indicators of Human Trafficking—be sure to look for these warning signs particularly in airports, gas stations, rest stops, and hotels. If you think you see something suspicious, call local law enforcement, or you can contact the 24-hour National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.3. Use a New App to Take Pictures of Your Hotel RoomHotel rooms are a hotspot for sex trafficking. Victims are often advertised online through pictures taken of them in hotel rooms. As Fight the New Drug has written on, there is a new app called TraffickCam that catalogues details of different hotel rooms like wallpaper and furniture to help create a database of identifiers, which can then be used by TraffickCam’s algorithm to match images of sex trafficking victims that will help law enforcement identify the possible locations of victims.4. Participate in Online ActivismThe National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE) has organized a number of ways that you can participate in online activism. Here are two:Joining NCSE’s #TACKLEDEMAND social media campaign before the Super Bowl is a way to bring awareness about the problem of large commercial sporting events being used by sex traffickers and buyers for sexual exploitation.Netflix is producing a show called “Baby” that normalizes the sexual exploitation of young teenagers by portraying it as a kind of “edgy” coming of age story. You can protest this repulsive show by sending an email or Facebook message to Netflix executives demanding that they stop producing it.
On December 28th, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled against Aaron and Melissa Klein, upholding a determination under state law that forced them to create a cake for a same-sex wedding against their consciences.The court threw cold water on the Kleins’ First Amendment defenses, claiming that if it allowed them to proceed, then others seeking to defend racial discrimination through religious freedom claims would also be allowed to prevail.The Court also goes overboard by accepting and recounting wholesale the feelings and perceptions of the upset same-sex couple, coloring bias into the entire narrative—while failing to do the same courtesy for the feelings and perceptions of Aaron and Melissa, who no doubt have been seriously harmed throughout this case. Moreover, Aaron and Melissa had to endure a barrage of hateful rhetoric directed at them as this incident developed, yet none of this is built into the court’s recounting of events, which ultimately supported highly excessive damages against the Kleins built on nothing more than the couple’s flimsy emotional narrative.Yet there were a couple of bright spots in the opinion.The one finding the court reversed was the part of the administrative ruling which acted as a “gag order” on the Kleins being able to speak about what happened to them. This finding was outrageous, and rightly reversed by the court of appeals.Second, even though the court ruled against the Kleins’ freedom of expression claim, it recognized that to the degree such cake creations are artistic, they are very likely protected. Noting that “[i]t appears that the Supreme Court has never decided a free-speech challenge to the application of a public accommodations law to a retail establishment selling highly customized, creative goods and services that arguably are in the nature of art or other expression,” the court said that “[i]f BOLI’s [Bureau of Labor and Industry—the administrative entity which ruled against the Kleins] order can be understood to compel the Kleins to create pure ‘expression’ that they would not otherwise create, it is possible that the Court would regard BOLI’s order as a regulation of content, thus subject to strict scrutiny, the test for regulating fully protected expression.” This also “would be a different case if BOLI’s order had awarded damages against the Kleins for refusing to decorate a cake with a specific message requested by a customer (‘God Bless This Marriage.’)”Well, the Supreme Court is about to decide this very issue in Jack Phillips’ case—Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission—in the upcoming months. When his case is decided, the Kleins’ case may be too. Indeed, at oral argument in Phillips’ case, the exact message “God Bless This Marriage” was mentioned by the justices as implicating protected expressive conduct (one wonders if the Oregon Court of Appeals specifically cited it in order to leave itself an “out”).Finally, in another bright moment in its opinion, the Oregon Court of Appeals observed that the Kleins’ case (and therefore many of these wedding vendor cases) are unlike FAIR v. Rumsfeld, in which the Supreme Court said law schools must allow military recruiters (the military was under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy at the time) access to campus if they wanted to continue to receive federal funds. Opponents of the Kleins and others often claim their cases are like FAIR, and it was good to see the Court here dismiss that notion, observing that the law schools never objected to being forced to speak a message with which they disagree, while the Kleins and other wedding vendors do.Despite these few promising points, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruling is a blow to freedom for all, and will only perpetuate the current culture war by suppressing the religious freedom of many people of good will who just want to live their lives in peace. The Kleins’ opponents could have easily obtained a cake from a nearby bakery, and the problem would be solved. Instead, once again, everyone has been dragged into years of litigation. Until a different approach to these conflicts is taken, we can only expect more of the same results.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1 “TCJA”), signed into law by President Donald Trump on December 22, 2017, provides numerous provisions that benefit working families.Child Tax CreditThe Child Tax Credit (CTC) has a positive impact on individual families and the economy as a whole and helps parents bear the costs of raising their children.The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act increases the CTC for 2018 through the end of 2025 (unless Congress renews it) by:Increasing the CTC to $2,000 for children under 17;Making the CTC refundable up to $1,400 (indexed for inflation) for low-income working families based on15 percent of earned income in excess of $2,500; or(if greater) the amount of payroll taxes in excess of the earned income tax credit, for a taxpayer with three or more qualifying children;Removing the CTC marriage penalty for the income phase-out, and increasing the income threshold to $200,000 for single filers and $400,000 for married couples filing jointly;Providing a $500 non-refundable Family Care Credit credit for dependents who don’t receive the CTC; andRequiring a qualifying child to have a Social Security Number for a taxpayer to claim the CTCObamacare’s Individual Mandate PenaltyStarting in 2019, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminates Obamacare’s individual mandate penalty. This helps many working families obtain relief from being forced into an Obamacare health insurance plan. Repealing the individual mandate penalty also allows individuals to forgo purchasing coverage if doing so violates their conscience. This is especially relevant for individuals who live in the states where there are few or no pro-life health insurance plans that exclude coverage of abortion.Marriage PenaltiesMarriage penalties exist in the tax code and also in welfare programs. The penalty generally applies in the tax code when a tax deduction or credit applies to single and married persons based on income, but a married couple is eliminated from receipt of the benefit making less than 200 percent of an eligible single person’s income.Income Tax BracketsThe Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has no marriage penalties for five of seven tax income brackets for 2018 through the end of 2025 (unless Congress renews it).Marriage bonus in the 22 percent bracket. Married couples filing jointly have a 2 percent lower rate than single filers for the first $25,000 they make over $140,000 in taxable income. This is a maximum $500 bonus, decreasing income taxes by up to 1.41 percent.Small marriage penalty in the 32 percent bracket. Married couples filing jointly have an 8 percent higher income tax rate than single filers for the first $5,000 they make over $315,000 in taxable income. This is a maximum $400 penalty, increasing income taxes by up to 0.61 percent.Large marriage penalty in the 37 percent bracket. Married couples filing jointly have a 2 percent higher income tax rate than single filers for the first $400,000 they make over $600,000 in taxable income. This is a maximum $8,000 penalty, increasing income taxes by up to 2.59 percent.Alternative Minimum TaxThe Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduces marriage penalties for the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) for 2018 through the end of 2025 (unless Congress renews it) by removing the marriage penalty for the AMT income phase-out ($500,000 for single filers and $1 million for married couples filing jointly). TCJA retains the marriage penalty for the AMT exemption ($70,300 for single filers and $109,400 for married couples filing jointly).Due to the marriage penalty in the AMT exemption,Married couples filing jointly are taxed at 26 percent higher rate than single filers for the first $31,200 they make over $109,400 in taxable income. This is a maximum $8,112 penalty, increasing the AMT by up to 22.19 percent.Married couples filing jointly have a 2 percent higher AMT tax rate than single filers for the first $31,200 they make over $295,700 in taxable income. This is a maximium $624 penalty, increasing the AMT by up to 0.71 percent.Other Marriage Penalty ProvisionsRetains a marriage penalty for the $10,000 State and local income tax (SALT), property tax, and/or sales tax deduction, which is equal in amount for single filers and married couples filing jointly. This is a maximum $3,700 penalty.Removes the marriage penalty in the Child Tax Credit phase-out ($200,000 for single filers, $400,000 for married couples filing jointly).Fails to address the marriage penalty for the Earned Income Tax Credit.Alimony DeductionThe Tax Cuts and Jobs Act permanently repeals the alimony deduction, which subsidizes divorce. A divorced couple can often achieve a better tax result by receiving a tax break for payments between them than a married couple can. Removing the alimony deduction restores equitable treatment for divorced and married couples’ expenses for child support.529 Education Savings AccountsThe Tax Cuts and Jobs Act permanently allows 529 education savings accounts to be used for up to $10,000 per year per child for K-12 tuition expenses at an elementary or secondary public, private, or religious school.529 plan contributions have tax-free earnings and are exempt from the annual federal gift tax if under $14,000 for that year ($28,000 for married couples filing jointly). Contributions to 529 plans receive significant tax breaks in many states. Previously, the 529 plans were only allowed to be used for higher education related expenses.Death TaxThe Tax Cuts and Jobs Act doubles the tax exclusion from the estate tax, also known as the “death tax,” thereby shielding from taxation the first $11.2 million (indexed for inflation) of bequeathed assets. This provision applies for 2018 through the end of 2025 (unless Congress renews it).The death tax is double taxation that handicaps families, and particularly family-owned businesses, by imposing heavy and burdensome taxes on bequeathed assets. Families often work as a unit to build their small businesses, but when a parent dies with the intention of leaving his or her small business to the children who helped build it, that transfer of assets is often taxed at such high rates that the business cannot continue operating and pay the government, causing the grieving family to close the business’s doors.Adoption Tax CreditThe Tax Cuts and Jobs Act retains the adoption tax credit in current law, which is currently a $13,570 non-refundable credit per eligible child (with a phase out for wealthier individuals). According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, in 2015 over 111,000 children were waiting to be adopted. Maintaining the adoption tax credit in current law helps adoptive children find loving families.Standard Deduction and Charitable GivingThe Tax Cuts and Jobs Act repeals the deduction for personal exemptions, including the taxpayer, the taxpayer’s spouse, and any dependents. The legislation consolidates the personal exemption for the taxpayer and taxpayer’s spouse into a larger standard deduction. The standard deduction is substantially increased from $6,300 to $12,000 for individuals and from $12,700 to $24,000 for married couples (and surviving spouses), giving working parents more take-home pay to provide for their families. The legislation consolidates the personal exemption for children and dependents into the expanded child tax credit and a new family tax credit to care for non-child dependents. However, increasing the standard deduction could harm charitable giving, including to nonprofits and churches, since fewer people will likely itemize.
Harvey Weinstein. Kevin Spacey. Matt Lauer. Charlie Rose. Al Franken. What do these men have in common? They, along with over one hundred others, were accused in recent months of sexual misconduct. The list of names spans the east and west coasts, the media and politics, Democrats and Republicans. The revelation of widespread sex abuse was one of the most important developments of 2017. It brought darkness to light and uncovered a societal cancer that has been kept secret for far too long.Some have expressed shock that people can indeed be so evil. Some wonder if this kind of depravity has always happened but remained concealed. Is the extreme nature of this abuse a new phenomenon?As Christians, what are we to say about these things? Who’s to blame? And more importantly, how do we get out of this mess?For Christians, none of this twisted sexual behavior should come as a surprise. Humanity has been this broken all along. The Bible gives both a framework for understanding why all of this is happening as well as a clear way out of the mess. Christians have believed for a long time in the depravity of mankind, that every human person is sinful and broken. This view of depravity does not mean that we are as bad as we possibly can be, but rather that any one of us is capable of doing anything.Of course, this theological understanding of mankind does not in any way excuse the behavior of these men, any more than a compulsive liar’s proclivity to tell untruths justifies the lies he or she tells. We believe in protecting the innocent, fighting injustice, and guarding those who are most vulnerable in our society. We also believe that the government’s job is to punish evildoers, as the Apostle Paul states in Romans 13. If any of these men are guilty of the crimes of which they are accused, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.But while justice must be done, to what extent does our society also share some of the blame? Since the sexual revolution, American sexual mores have been alarmingly and harmfully fluid. Coupled with the moral relativism that has been espoused in many public forums—especially the media, the arts, and the classroom—the sexual revolution effectively taught boys and girls that personal expression supersedes “restrictive” traditional ethics. Those boys and girls grew up to be some of the same men and women who decided that love of self-expression is to be valued more than love of neighbor.Currently, even our elementary aged children are exposed to sexual education where traditional sexual boundaries are pushed. Whether it is the issue of gender identification, pre-marital sex, homosexuality, or polyamory, the culture has enabled the sexual confusion and dysfunction we are experiencing. There is little doubt as to why we are where we are. Ideas have consequences. Failing to recognize any moral absolutes, society has left the door open for a host of unethical behaviors. It is time for our society to look in the mirror when leveling blame for these tragedies.These scandals simply reflect the outcome when a society rejects the Christian notion of moral absolutes, which are grounded in the creative design of God. The British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge once famously remarked, “If God is dead, somebody is going to have to take his place. It will be megalomania or erotomania, the drive for power or the drive for pleasure, the clenched fist or the phallus, Hitler or Hugh Hefner.” In this cultural moment, we are seeing what happens when people try to fill the void in their lives that is left when there is no room for God. We are sex-obsessed. Sex has become a god, and as all idols do, it has left us hurting and broken.So, amidst the very apparent brokenness we are experiencing as a society, how should we respond, particularly from a Christian perspective?Scripture calls us to humility and hope. We must have humility, because we believe “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “Let him who thinks he stands beware lest he fall,” Scripture warns us (1 Corinthians 10:12). While not everyone has committed sexual assault, everyone stands equally sinful before God. Furthermore, most people struggle with sexual dysfunction in one way or another. We are all sexually broken and our sexuality needs to be healed. This recognition should give us humility.Beyond humility, the gospel also says that there is hope. For the victims there is hope that justice will be done, if not on earth then in heaven. There is hope for those who feel used, hurt, dirty, and perhaps even full of shame. Regardless of what has caused that shame, cleansing is possible. The Christian gospel is clear: you are not the sum total of what you’ve done or what’s been done to you. People do not have to be defined by their mistakes, or the destructive actions of others. Psalm 147 tells us that God heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds. Restoration is possible through Christ.A more scandalous notion is that those who have been accused have hope as well. Regardless of the crime they may have committed, any of these men who turn to Christ in repentance and faith can be forgiven and made new. This is the hope of the gospel: because of Christ crucified, our sin—past, present, and future—has already been judged at the cross. God reckoned Jesus as guilty so He could reckon us as innocent. The good news of the gospel is that no matter the mistake, forgiveness can be received in Jesus. What’s more, Christ rose from the dead, enabling us to walk in newness of life. Christ can restore us in such a way that we can pursue all of life, including our sexuality, in the way God designed it. We don’t have to be who we’ve been. That’s a message that Harvey Weinstein needs to hear. That’s a message that we all need to hear.Dr. Andrew Hebert is the lead pastor of Paramount Baptist Church in Amarillo, Texas. You can follow him on Twitter at @andrewhebert86.
Have you ever wondered why it became such a common tradition for Christians to bring a tree into their homes for Christmas? Or why certain plants like holly and mistletoe are often used as Christmas decorations? As it turns out, there is a rich history behind many of the Christmas traditions that seem so common to us now.Christmas treesSt. Boniface traveled to Germany from England in the eighth century to try and convert the pagans that lived there. He discovered that many of the people there were open to his message of Christ’s salvation, but still insisted on worshipping their pagan gods, including an oak tree that they considered to be sacred. Boniface was uncertain about how he could convince the people that the tree was not a god; finally, he decided to cut the tree down. The people were angered by this, so he gave them a young evergreen tree instead. Unlike the oak tree which lost its leaves each year, the evergreen tree kept its green needles all year around. Therefore, the evergreen tree is richly symbolic of the everlasting life that Christ offers us.Christmas plants Holly, ivy, and mistletoe are often used as decorative ornaments for Christmas. So how did these traditions originate? Holly has been used for hundreds of years for making wreaths and for decorating tables and mantelpieces. The sharp, thorny edges of holly leaves are a reminder of the crown of thorns that was placed on Christ’s head, and the red berries symbolize drops of his blood. Ivy was once used by pagan religions to form crowns that were placed on the statues of pagan gods, but has since been adopted by Christians for use in wreaths and ornaments, with the white berries of some varieties of ivy representing purity and innocence. Before Christianity arrived in Ireland, mistletoe was once used by Celtic Druids (pagan priests) in their ceremonies. It was eventually adopted by Christians to decorate their homes and to act as a symbol of marriage. This is how the custom of kissing a person standing under the mistletoe began.Christmas cardsThe earliest forms of Christmas cards date back to the fifteenth century, when sheets of paper were used to print the Christmas story on. The first Christmas cards to appear as we know them today were made by Henry Cole in England in 1843. The cards featured scenes of Christians doing acts of charity, and said “A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year to you.” In the U.S., Louis Prang of Boston was one of the first to produce Christmas cards in 1875, and they proved to be very successful. Today, over two billion Christmas cards are mailed in the U.S. each year.Christmas DayThe exact date of Christ’s birth was not known by the early church, but one of its earliest traditions is that the Annunciation of Mary (when the Archangel Gabriel appears to her with the news of her motherhood of God) happened on March 25th. It is believed that since December 25th is exactly nine months later, the church decided that this would be the appropriate date of Christ’s birth. Another possible reason why this date was chosen was that in Rome during this time, the pagans celebrated December 25th as the birth of the sun (the winter solstice) with a large feast. As a way to persuade the pagans to become Christian, the Christians decided to celebrate Christ’s birth on December 25th as well. This was also very appropriate since Christ was prophesied in Malachi 4:2 as the “sun of righteousness”: “But for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go forth leaping like calves from the stall.”The Christmas traditions that we often take for granted do indeed have a rich history grounded in the traditions of many different peoples and cultures. As the Lord of history and the Savior of all mankind, Christ has and continues to transcend, enrich, and fulfil our earthly traditions and lives with his salvific grace.Sources: Celebrating Christmas by Rev. Jude Winkler, OFM Conv.; “Why is Christmas Day on the 25th December?”; “Christmas”
Dear Friends,For many Americans, the time off from work and school that Christmas allows is a wonderful opportunity to reunite with family and friends. It can be a joyous time of catching up on new developments and accomplishments that have transpired over the last year, exchanging gifts, and partaking in delicious Christmas hams and cookies.As we enjoy this delightful time of year with our loved ones, let us not forget the true reason for why we gather and make merry: the coming of God into our lives. Since many of us have family and loved ones that do not share our faith, Christmas provides us with an invaluable opportunity to witness to the faith that God has gifted to us through the person of his Son Jesus. This doesn’t mean that we need to try and proselytize, which can easily cause tension and conflict and distract away from the spirit of the season. Witnessing to our faith should instead take the form of invitation. For example, simply invite a non-practicing loved one to come with you to your Christmas Eve church service without any expectations or obligation. Another option could be to invite them to join in singing Christmas carols with a group in the local neighborhood, or you could simply make it a fun family activity and sing carols as you sip hot chocolate and munch on cookies.It can be easy to slip into the habit of thinking that we have to organize an elaborate intellectual argument in order to witness to our Christian faith. But that’s not how God invites us into His divine life. Think of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew—when he comes upon Peter and Andrew casting their nets into the Sea of Galilee, he doesn’t launch into a philosophical discourse about the reasons why the two men should follow him. Instead, he offers them a simple invitation: “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt 4:19). Let us imitate Christ by inviting our loved ones to join us in a joyful spirit of love, free from expectation and obligation. For it is only in true freedom and joy that hearts are truly and joyfully converted.Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council FRC ArticlesThe ‘War on Christmas’ Is Real – Travis WeberSessions’ First Year: A Breath of Fresh Air After Years of Obama Scandals – Ken BlackwellIn Masterpiece, the Supreme Court Grapples With a Problem of Its Own Making – Travis WeberSupreme Court Justices Grill ACLU and Colorado in Christian Baker’s Case – Travis WeberFranken’s Senate Replacement is a Former Planned Parenthood VP – Kelly MarcumKicking Jesus Off the Bus? – Travis WeberA Three-Dimensional Case for Masterpiece Cakeshop — from Justice Kagan, No Less – Peter Sprigg5 Great Resources That Help Kids Keep Christ in Christmas – Peter Witkowski5 Great Resources that Help Keep Christ in Christmas – Peter WitkowskiPlanned Parenthood’s Tacit Support of Physical Assault – Kelly MarcumCan American Higher Education Be Salvaged?Will the Supreme Court Recognize Consumable Beauty in Wedding Cake Case? – Peter SpriggRemembering Mike Penner – Peter Sprigg Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareHere's why I can’t custom-design cakes for same-sex weddings – Jack Phillips, USA TodayReligious Exemptions Aren’t Special Privileges – Stephanie Barclay, Public DiscourseJudge Denies FEMA Relief For Three Texas Churches – Brien Straw, Houston Public MediaDC buses can ban ‘religious’ Christmas ads, judge rules – Doug Mainwaring, LifeSiteNewsLiberals attack doughnut shop's good deed – Todd Starnes, Fox NewsReligious Freedom in 2018: What to Watch – Nancy Flory, The StreamInternational Religious FreedomCanada’s Free Speech Wars – Scott Ventureyra, CrisisNations Speak Out for Life and the Family in UN Human Rights Mechanism – Rebecca Oas, C-FamMilitary Religious FreedomOver 77,000 Sign Petitions Supporting Air Force Colonel Punished for Opposing Gay Marriage – Michael Gryboski, The Christian Post LifeAbortionFighting taxpayer-funded abortion in Illinois – Samantha Gobba, WORLDAbortion is Traumatic, Not Empowering – Marcia Segelstein, National Catholic RegisterFirst trimester babies aren’t blobs of tissue — they’re amazingly complex – Live Action7 Shocking Facts Americans Learned About Planned Parenthood in 2017 – Brandon Showalter, The Christian PostAbout That New York Editor Who Would End Lives Like My Children’s – Kristan Hawkins, National ReviewOhio Legislature votes to ban abortions on babies with Down syndrome – Becky Yeh, Live ActionAdoptionPolice officer adopts homeless heroin addict’s baby – Ashley Jonkman, AleteiaBioethicsAssisted Suicide Is No Choice At All – Lawrence Carter-Long, RealClear PolicySelf-Sacrificial Love in the Bioethics-Sphere – Wesley J. Smith, First ThingsBasic Bioethics: What Christians should know about embryo destructive research – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionThe Inalienable Right to Life: An Update on Assisted Suicide in the United States and Canada – Arthur Goldberg, Public DiscourseSuicide prevention organization: Assisted suicide is not suicide – Cassy Fiano, Live ActionObamacareEight Insurance Companies in 5 States Fail to Disclose If Their Obamacare Plans Fund Abortions – Mallory Quigley, LifeNews FamilyEconomics/EducationHalf the World’s Population is Reaching Below Replacement Fertility – Tomas Frejka, Family StudiesPower to the parents – Leigh Jones, WORLDIt’s Time to Fully Repeal the Unjust and Immoral Death Tax – Daren Bakst, The Daily SignalWhy the Humanities Must Remain Human (Or Die) – Joshua Mayo, First ThingsHow Affirmative Action Hurts Asian-Americans in College Admissions – Helaina Hirsch and Mike Gonzalez, The Daily SignalMarriageThe one thing you need to do to make sure your child marries well – Luz Ivonne Ream, AleteiaFor a Happy Marriage: Speak With Kindness — Especially When You Want to "Tell It Like It Is" – Shaunti Feldhahn, Focus on the FamilyWhen You and Your Spouse Can't Agree – Teri Reisser, Focus on the FamilyCohabitation Agreements: Better Than Nothing? – Mary Rose Somarriba, Family StudiesPodcast: Failure of Fatherhood – Mark Bauerlein, First Things11 Rules on Marriage You Won't Learn in School – Dennis Rainey, FamilyLifeFaith/Character/CultureSin, Happiness, and Breaking Out of Spiritual Boredom – Chris Hazell, Word On FireIf You’re Feeling Too Frantic, Genuine Leisure Can Restore Your Soul – Aphrodite Kishi, The FederalistIn the Age of Amazon Sundays Can’t be Sacred – Mattias A. Caro, Ethika PolitikaThe Danger of Talking Over Others – David Stavarz, Word On FireWe are desperately in need of boredom – Tom Hoopes, AleteiaLoneliness: An old way to solve this modern problem – Calah Alexander, AleteiaWhat Made ‘Fixer Upper’ a Hit? – Dean Abbott, The Gospel CoalitionHuman SexualityThank Separating Sex From Morality For The Great American Sexual Meltdown – Curt Anderson, The FederalistNew Study Finds Hormonal Birth Control Triples Women’s Risk Of Suicide – Kelsey Harkness, The FederalistLauer, and Franken, and Louis CK: The crisis within them, and in us – Tom Hoopes, AleteiaWill the Trump Administration Push Back Against Transgender Ideology in Schools? – Jane Robbins and Emmett McGroarty, Public DiscourseA great sexual reckoning – Mindy Belz, WORLDGod is not silent: What the Bible teaches about sexual assault – Katie McCoy, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionFiguring Out Faithfulness with Same-Sex Attraction – Ed Shaw and Rachel Gilson, The Gospel CoalitionThis Formerly Trans 14-Year-Old Has A Message For Questioning Kids – Walt Heyer, The FederalistThe Truth about Men, Women, and Sex – Mark Regnerus, Public DiscourseHuman TraffickingMom Posts Viral Warning After Sex Traffickers Try Kidnapping 2-Yr-Old in Grocery Store – Kelsey Straeter, FaithitMan Sentenced To Longest Human Sex Trafficking Sentence In US History – Fight the New DrugCare about Cyntoia Brown? Stop normalizing “teenage prostitution.” – Haley Halverson, National Center on Sexual ExploitationPornographyVideo: Neurosurgeon Dr. Donald Hilton Reveals Shocking Scientific Truths About Porn – Fight the New Drug40 Reasons To Start Off The New Year By Ditching Porn – Fight the New Drug
NOMINEE: Tina SmithBIRTH DATE: March 4, 1958EDUCATION: B.S. in Political Science, Stanford University, 1980. M.B.A. from Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, 1984.FAMILY: Lives in Minneapolis with her husband of thirty years, Archie Smith. They have two grown sons, Sam and Mason, who also reside in Minnesota.EXPERIENCE: Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota (2015-present); Chief of Staff to Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (2011-2015); Chief of Staff to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak (2006-2011); Vice President of External Affairs, Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota (2003-2006); Involved with Minnesota’s Democratic-Famer-Laborer (DFL) party since 1998; Founded a political and campaign consulting firm, Macwilliams, Cosrove, Smith, Robinson, (1992); General Mills’ marketing department (1984-1992) AbortionPlanned Parenthood connection:Smith’s abortion advocacy runs in the family. Her father, Harlan Flint, was a board member for Planned Parenthood Ohio. In 2003, Smith became the Vice President for External Affairs, at Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota, functioning as their lead registered lobbyist. Smith has said that Planned Parenthood provides “critical care” and that she is “proud of that work.” During her tenure at the organization, it had an increase in abortions by 22 percent, performing 9,717 abortions in Minnesota. 1,892 of these abortions were performed on low-income women, allowing the organization to be reimbursed $458,574.74 by Minnesota taxpayers. In 2004, Planned Parenthood became the state’s largest abortion provider, a title it maintains to this day. Between 2003 and 2005, Planned Parenthood Minnesota received $12.65 million in government grants.As a Planned Parenthood Vice President, Smith lobbied against pro-life legislation, including informed consent laws for mothers and one-day waiting periods for abortions. Specifically, she led the organization’s fight against the Woman’s Right to Know Act in Minnesota, which became law in 2003. The Act requires women to be informed of the gestational age of their child as well as of the associated risks with any procedures, and it requires the physician to provide information to the mother on resources for available prenatal, childbirth, and neonatal care, as well as resources for financial support. The Woman’s Right to Know Act also requires a 24-hour waiting period after the woman has been properly informed before she can give consent to undergo the abortion.Smith also lobbied against the Positive Alternatives Act of 2005, which provided state grants to nonprofits that supported women who chose not to abort by providing services such as housing assistance, adoption services, child care, parental education, and employment assistance. The purpose of an eligible grant applicant had to be to “maximize the potential” of the mother and support her after childbirth. Despite Smith’s efforts to convince legislators that pregnancy care centers that don’t refer women for abortions should not be eligible for state grants, the law passed in 2005.Smith continues to have the political support of her former employer. In 2012 the Planned Parenthood Action Fund honored Smith “for her passion and commitment to Planned Parenthood.” Sarah Stoesz, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota stated: “[Tina Smith] really built our education and outreach efforts. She’s got a pretty strong legacy around here.”When asked about Congress’ attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, Smith replied: “I think it’s almost totally political...It’s just a bad idea.”Following Governor Mark Dayton’s announcement of Smith as his appointee to replace Senator Al Franken upon Franken’s resignation, Stoesz publicly endorsed the move, saying Smith “will be a powerful, moving force for justice” due to her “business acumen and passion for women’s health and rights.” Stoesz added: “As the Chief of Staff to Governor Dayton and as Lieutenant Governor there simply hasn’t been a stronger voice for women‘s health and rights...Tina Smith [understands] that women can’t earn a living or support their children if they don’t have access to the reproductive health care they need.”Pro-Choice PoliticsSince 2011, Smith has served in the administration of Governor Mark Dayton, after having served as one of his campaign advisors leading up to his 2010 election. Dayton enjoys a 100 percent rating by NARAL. During Dayton’s first term, in which he vetoed seven different pro-life measures, Smith served as his Chief of Staff. Among the legislation Dayton vetoed was the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which bans abortions occurring after 20 weeks, when unborn children can feel pain.When Dayton successfully ran for reelection in 2014, Smith was his running mate. During Smith’s time as Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota, the Dayton administration continues to be unequivocally pro-abortion. In March 2017, the governor vetoed two bills, which would have denied taxpayer dollars from funding abortion, as well as required licenses for abortion clinics. Planned Parenthood Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota applauded the veto, saying in a statement that “Minnesota women are deeply grateful that Gov. Dayton is once again using his veto pen to protect a woman’s constitutionally protected right to abortion.”Although Planned Parenthood is thrilled that their former lobbyist is heading to Washington, pro-life Minnesotans continue to be displeased at their lack of pro-life representation in the Beltway. “Tina Smith is, without a doubt, the Abortion Senator,” said Leo LaLonde, President of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life.Religious Liberty and Reproductive RightsTina Smith has explicitly maintained that women’s so-called “reproductive rights” should trump religious liberty protections. Following the release of the new Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations which rolled back the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act, providing conscience protections for institutions with stances opposing birth control, Smith called the action an “outrageous assault on the health and well-being of women and families.” She also stated that “birth control is essential health care for women” and vowed to “keep fighting to protect the rights of every person to make decisions about their own health care.” LGBT AgendaTina Smith is viewed incredibly favorably by the Left for her stances on LGBT issues. Governor Dayton’s administration is very friendly to the LGBT community, and September 24, 2016 was declared Human Rights Campaign Day, in honor of the LGBT advocacy carried out by the Human Rights Campaign.Same-Sex MarriageSmith’s activism and career primarily point to her pro-abortion views. However, she is also pro-same-sex marriage, and released the following statement following the Supreme Court decision of Obergevell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage in all fifty states: “Today, the Court upheld that basic promise in all 50 states, and confirmed what Minnesotans have known for years - that love is love. While this is a major victory, there is more work to be done. We need to continue fighting until all Americans have equal rights and protections guaranteed by our Constitution.”Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) PositionsTina Smith stands vehemently opposed to President Trump’s decision to roll back President Obama’s transgender bathroom policy. She has called the Obama-era policies “reasonable protections” designed to “assure the basic dignity of all transgender students.” In her statement decrying the Trump administration’s decision to reverse the bathroom policy, she assured Minnesotans that she and Governor Dayton “will continue to do all we can to defend the rights and dignity of every young Minnesotan, including transgender students.”

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