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By passing the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act on Tuesday with an overwhelming majority, the House of Representatives sent a message to the Chinese government that the United States is done funding China’s atrocities. Now, it’s the Senate’s turn to take up this measure which is in line with the priority and focus on religious freedom we have already seen from the Senate and the White House.The world is increasingly coming to grips with the fact that China is detaining an estimated one to three million Uyghur Muslims in “re-education” camps, where detainees face brainwashing and torture. But the human rights abuses are not confined to the camps. The State Department’s 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report found that “Many detained individuals approved to ‘graduate’ from these facilities were sent to external manufacturing sites in close proximity to the camps or in other provinces and subjected to forced labor, while others were transferred and potentially subjected to forced labor within a separate formal prison system.”Evidence of China’s forced labor scheme in Xinjiang has been mounting over the past year. A report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute found that many Uyghurs are transferred from “re-education” camps and sent to live in dormitories on factory grounds where they work. They are made to take ideological training classes, constantly surveilled, and forbidden from practicing their religion. While mass internment of a religious minority group can be expensive, China has found a way to financially profit from these human rights violations by forcing “re-education” camp detainees to work in factories. Unfortunately, the supply chains of major American companies—including Nike and Apple—have been linked to Uyghur forced labor in Xinjiang. In July, the New York Times found that Uyghur forced labor likely contributed to the production of face masks made in China during the response to COVID-19.The list of companies caught in complicity is long, and many of these companies hold policies mandating responsible workplace conditions that these Xinjiang factories clearly violate. The secretive nature of the camps and factories makes investigating these concerns difficult. Therefore, it is no longer safe to assume that any goods produced in Xinjiang are free of forced labor without solid evidence to the contrary.China’s forced labor program is just one small part of the government’s larger aim to “sinicize” religion and scrub all faiths of anything that might make someone loyal to a higher authority than the Chinese Communist Party. One local Chinese government report stated that sending young Uyghurs to work away from their home and family can change their outlook by “distancing them from religiously extreme views and educating them.”In July, the U.S. State Department issued a business advisory warning companies about the risks of supply chains in Xinjiang linking to entities that engage in human rights abuses, including forced labor. The advisory specifically noted the dangers of aiding in the development of surveillance tools, using labor or goods sourced in Xinjiang, and assisting in the construction of internment facilities. The advisory warned of reputational, economic, and legal risks to these actions—risks that are becoming a reality. Companies that have not already considered moving their supply chains elsewhere in Asia or the world should seriously consider doing so now.Last week, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) issued withhold release orders on four Chinese companies and a Communist Party subsidiary known to use forced labor. The orders block products from these companies from entering the U.S. While this is an important and necessary step, forced labor taints factories throughout Xinjiang, and stopping unethically-produced products from entering the American market requires a broader approach.The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act offers a practical solution to combat China’s ideologically-motivated oppression. The bill would require companies to prove with “clear and convincing evidence” that any goods produced in Xinjiang imported to the U.S. are not made using forced labor—thereby hindering the Chinese government’s ability to profit from its forced labor scheme. It also calls on the U.S. secretary of state to develop a strategy for addressing forced labor in Xinjiang and sanctioning individuals responsible for the forced labor program.While U.S. leaders, especially Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, have stood out as global leaders criticizing China’s dismal human rights records, actions always speak louder than words. At the most fundamental level, we must ensure that American citizens and companies are not unknowingly financing the same Chinese human rights and religious freedom abuses our leaders disparageUltimately, Americans do not want to fund China’s rights abuses, and shopping for everyday products at brand name retailers should not put them at risk of financially supporting atrocities abroad. American companies and consumers deserve to be protected from unknowingly participating in China’s oppression of a religious minority group.The House took an important first step by passing the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. It’s up to the Senate to keep the ball moving. The Senate should work to swiftly pass the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act to ensure the U.S. plays no part in China’s oppression of the Uyghur people.
Today is National Voter Registration Day, so it is an appropriate time to consider an important question: do American Christians have a moral obligation to vote?During the last election, one Christian leader expressed his discomfort with hosting voter registration drives and providing voter guides to his congregation. Although this leader believes that “voting is a good thing,” he nevertheless believes it is imprudent for the church as an institution to do anything beyond praying for candidates and preaching on moral issues. Despite this pastor’s good intention to safeguard his church’s mission and witness, this approach falls short of what fully realized Christian discipleship requires. If the gospel has implications for all areas of life, including politics, should not pastors strive to ensure their members are equipped (i.e., registered to vote) and sufficiently informed to faithfully engage in the public square?In a constitutional republic like the United States, the locus of power is the citizenry; the government derives its authority from the people. As Alexander Hamilton explained in Federalist Paper 22, the consent of the people is the “pure original fountain of all legitimate authority.” In the United States this principle is foundational to our government and provides citizens with incredible opportunity and responsibility. Unlike billions of people around the world, Americans, through the ballot box, control their political future. Indeed, we are stewards of it, as we are stewards of everything else God has given us.For Christian citizens, the implications of America’s form of government are even more significant when considered alongside Paul’s teaching on the purpose of government in Romans 13. According to Paul, government is ordained by God to promote good and restrain evil. God authorizes the government to wield the sword for the administration of justice. As one theologian recently explained, “The sword is God’s authorized gift to humanity for protecting life.”From these considerations, a truth with far-reaching implications for Christian political engagement emerges: Voting is an exercise in delegating God-ordained authority. Because power resides with the people in our republic, when Christians vote, they are delegating their ruling authority to others. In other words, by voting, Christians are entrusting their “sword-bearing” responsibility to officials who will govern on their behalf. Seen from this perspective, voting is a matter of stewardship; failure to vote is a failure to exercise God-given authority.Therefore, if the act of voting is the act of delegating the exercise of the sword, pastors should communicate to their members: “This is what Christians should do.” Given the unavoidable role of politics and the direct, real-world impact that government decisions have on people’s lives, downplaying the responsibility to vote amounts to a failure in Christian discipleship and loving our neighbors comprehensively.Now, some might push back and argue that this conception of voting and political engagement overly prioritizes the political arena. When reflecting on the Christian obligation to love our neighbors, they might argue that political engagement is only one way of loving our neighbor and trying to be a faithful presence in the culture. This is true, but we must not minimize the significance of government and the role it plays in people’s lives. Love of neighbor must be embodied in all aspects of life. Can Christians really care for their neighbors well if they are not engaging in politics, the arena where a society’s basic rights and freedoms are shaped?Further, given the United States’ far-reaching influence in the world, how can American Christians love the people of the nations well without having a vested interest in how our government approaches the issue of religious liberty and human rights worldwide—issues which go to the heart of seeing people around the world as created in the image of God? By voting, Americans determine who will represent the United States abroad as well as the values our country will export around the world. Will America’s ambassadors be stalwart defenders of religious freedom overseas? Christians who support missionaries should care about the state of international religious freedom, an area of advocacy in which the United States exerts significant influence. Will abortion, under the euphemism of “family planning,” be funded overseas by American taxpayers, or will U.S. foreign policy value the life of the unborn? Again, American believers, by exercising their right to vote, have a direct say in these matters.In light of these considerations, pastors should exhort their members to be involved in the political process and to vote. But voting is not enough. Pastors should also help educate and equip their members to think biblically about moral issues, candidates, and party platforms. Much of this equipping and educating should be accomplished through the regular rhythms and liturgies of the church (preaching the Word, corporate prayer, hymnody, etc.). However, for the sake of robust political discipleship, additional steps should be taken. For some congregations, this might mean providing access to voter guides and other educational material. In others, it might mean hosting workshops or Bible studies on political engagement.Many Christians might get squeamish at these suggestions; if so, we must recall a proper understanding of “politics,” as discussed previously—that of deciding how best to organize the affairs of the community and love one another. When we realize politics is, at its core, about how we love our neighbor as we live and order our lives together, we understand there is no reason to shy away from becoming informed about how to vote. Rather, we must embrace the question. We must make room for thoughtful discussion and respectful disagreement on certain issues within the body of Christ, but we must not avoid talking about them altogether. It is not enough to espouse concern for human dignity but not support policies and candidates who will fight to overturn profound moral wrongs. In a Genesis 3 world plagued by sin, Christians are called to reverse the corroding effects of the fall wherever they exist. Our decision to cast an informed vote is an attempt to do just that.This blog was adapted from FRC’s publication Biblical Principles for Political Engagement.
The history of the United States is preserved in archives, books, and the collective memory of the American people. It is also preserved in monuments, memorials, and statues made from marble, granite, bronze, or plaster.Our nation’s capital is home to some of the world’s most recognizable and frequently visited monuments. This blog series will explore the events and people they commemorate, devoting particular attention to the spiritual themes depicted. By shedding light on our nation’s deep religious heritage, this series aims to inspire the next generation to emulate virtues and merits from America’s past that are worth memorializing.FRC’s blog series on monuments is written by FRC summer interns and edited by David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview. Be sure to read our previous posts on the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Joan of Arc Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence Memorial, the Japanese American Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Titanic Memorial, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.The Washington Monument serves as a memorial to the life of George Washington, particularly his leadership as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War and as the first president of the United States. It also stands as a reminder of America’s rich religious heritage.Washington was so pivotal to America’s founding that he has been called the “father of his country.” He was a member of the First Continental Congress in 1774 and then was appointed commander-in-chief of the army in 1775. As a general, he is especially remembered for his stalwart leadership during the winter encampment at Valley Forge in 1777-78. After leading America to victory and independence on the battlefield, Washington presided over the convention that produced the U.S. Constitution. In 1789, he was unanimously elected the nation’s first president.President Washington and his administration laid a strong foundation for the United States of America. Some notable events during Washington’s presidency include the celebration of the first federally-recognized Thanksgiving, the putting down of the Whiskey Rebellion, the induction of new states (North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Kentucky, and Tennessee), and the approval of the Bill of Rights. Washington also oversaw the signing of the Jay Treaty (normalizing trade relations with Great Britain), Pinckney’s Treaty (friendship with Spain), and the Treaty of Tripoli (access to Mediterranean shipping routes). Washington also set the presidential precedent of selecting a cabinet of advisors and stepping down after two terms.Even before Washington became president, members of Congress wanted to create a statue of him to honor his wartime accomplishments. However, because the young country was lacking in funds, the project was scrapped.Pierre L’Enfant, the designer of the federal capital (which was officially named after the first president in 1791), envisioned a monument honoring President Washington and even designated a special spot for an equestrian statue of Washington in his initial layout of the city.The Washington National Monument Society, a private organization started by President James Madison and Chief Justice John Marshall, raised funds for the monument’s construction. First Lady Dolley Madison and Elizabeth Hamilton, widow of Alexander Hamilton, were also instrumental in raising funds. In 1833, the Society facilitated a contest to design the monument. The contest’s winner, Robert Mills, also designed the U.S. Treasury Building and the U.S. Patent Office. The latter building now holds the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.On July 4, 1848, a cornerstone-laying ceremony was held. President James K. Polk and future presidents James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, and Andrew Johnson were in attendance. Embedded in the cornerstone is a box of artifacts, including a portrait of Washington.By 1854, Mills had built 156 feet of the monument. His design was incredibly daunting, and he encountered many obstacles during its construction. For example, when Pope Pius IX donated a stone from the Roman Temple of Concord, the gift sparked an outcry from the “Know Nothing” Party that opposed Catholicism and Catholic immigrants.Unfortunately, Mills died in 1855 before the monument could be completed. The unfinished monument stood untouched for two decades.In 1876, President Ulysses S. Grant approved funding to finish the monument, and work resumed in 1879. When Thomas Casey and the U.S. Army of Engineers could not find the original rock quarry, they were forced to use different stone. As a result, three different shades of stone from three different quarries were used in the monument’s construction.In 1885, 36 years after the cornerstone had been laid, the monument was finished. On February 21, 1885, the day before Washington’s birthday, the monument was dedicated. At the time, the 555-foot-tall Egyptian-style obelisk was the tallest building in the world.The Washington Monument has been the location of a few notable events. In 1982, veteran and anti-nuclear weapons activist Norman Mayer drove to the bottom of the monument and threatened that he would blow it up with 1,000 pounds of dynamite. Thousands of people were evacuated, but some were held hostage with Mayer. After ten hours, he let the hostages leave and was shot and killed by U.S. Park Police. Authorities later carefully inspected Mayer’s van and did not find the explosives he had claimed to have.On August 23, 2011, the monument endured a severe earthquake. Although people were inside the monument at the time, no one was injured. It cost $15 million to repair the damage incurred by the earthquake.It is worth noting that the Washington Monument represents more than the nation’s first president. The monument itself honors and reflects the Judeo-Christian values America was founded upon.Many people and institutions contributed stones for the Washington Monument. Many of these stones are inscribed with names and short messages. One such stone donated by Sabbath School Children of the Methodist E. Church in Philadelphia is engraved with John 5:39 (“Search the Scriptures”), Luke 18:16 (“Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not for of such is the Kingdom of God.”) and Proverbs 22:6 (“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”) An image of the stone can be found here.Other stones are engraved with phrases including “The memory of the just is blessed” (Proverbs 10:7), “Holiness to the Lord,” “In God We Trust,” “Qui Transtulit Sustinet” (“He who transplanted sustains”), and “May Heaven to this Union continue its beneficence.” At the top of the monument is an aluminum cap engraved with the Latin phrase “Laus Deo” (“Praise be to God”). A list of memorial stones and their inscriptions can be found here. A gallery of photos of some of the stones can be found here.In 2007, a controversy arose involving the monument’s cap. While the monument was being renovated, a replica cap in the monument’s museum was removed and later put back in such a way that the “Laus Deo” inscription was not visible. Also, the accompanying plaque omitted the meaning of “Laus Deo.” After public outcry, the National Park Service later apologized and included the meaning of “Laus Deo” on the new plaque.The Washington Monument isn’t just a soaring memorial to “the father of his country.” The verses and religious phrases inscribed on its stones serve as reminders of the Judeo-Christian values and religious freedom that played an important role in America’s founding.
Issues related to life, family, and religious freedom continued to be debated in Congress after its return from August recess. Family Research Council wrapped up another busy week monitoring these issues and being your voice on Capitol Hill. Here are the biggest items from this week:Pro-Life Concerns with Vaccine DevelopmentIn Wednesday’s Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on coronavirus response efforts, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) urged panelists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to pursue an ethical coronavirus vaccine. All vaccines use human tissue in their production, but not all use tissue derived from ethical sources. As Lankford explained, some companies are using stem cells from adults or the placentas of born children to pursue a vaccine, while others (such as Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) are using tissue derived from aborted children. Lankford voiced the concerns the pro-life community has with vaccines developed from aborted children. He reminded the scientific and medical communities that the dignity of every human being must never be compromised. He also pointed out that vaccines from ethical sources will be more effective, as they will be better received by the public. “I don’t want to have a reason for people to not go get a vaccine because they’re concerned about the origin of the vaccine,” Lankford said to the panelists. “I want as many people as possible to actually get a vaccine because I think it’s important.” CDC Director Robert Redfield did not have an immediate answer to the pro-life concerns with vaccine development but assured Sen. Lankford that his office would follow up with more details.Vote on Marijuana Legalization Delayed Due To Public PressureOn Thursday, Democratic leaders from the House of Representatives announced the postponement of the vote on the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act (H.R. 3884). If passed, this bill would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. Originally scheduled for a vote on the House floor next week, public pressure from groups opposed to the drug’s decriminalization has resulted in its delay. Family Research Council is part of the opposition effort led by Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), an organization that dedicates itself to educating and lobbying against the legalization of marijuana at both the federal and state levels.Although Democratic leaders say they remain committed to bringing the MORE Act to a vote before the end of the year, this delay proves that public pressure has real consequences in Congress and that Americans want public officials to focus on the coronavirus pandemic, not partisan priorities. This delay will give those opposed to the decriminalization of marijuana even more time to voice their concerns with the bill and change some minds in the House of Representatives. Other Notable ItemsThe Trump administration proposed a new federal regulation that would expand the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy. This policy requires non-governmental organizations to agree, as a condition of their receipt of U.S. federal grant money, to neither perform nor promote abortion as a method of family planning overseas. The Trump administration’s new rule, if implemented, would apply this policy to contracts and subcontracts as well as grants.House Republicans led a last-minute amendment effort to add religious liberty protections for employers to the Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 2694).Democratic strategists have amplified their efforts to eliminate the filibuster if they regain control of the Senate. This move would allow a simple majority of senators to pass radical liberal policies like the Equality Act or the Green New Deal.Ruth Moreno, a Policy & Government Affairs intern, assisted in writing this blog.
Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:1. Update: Facebook Attaches an Asterisk to Free SpeechThe transgender lobby has taken to blocking their opponents’ free speech for made-up reasons. Recently, Facebook put its thumb on the scale of the Michigan Senate race in favor of Democratic incumbent Gary Peters by blocking a conservative organization’s $4 million ad campaign.2. Update: New Netflix Film Sexualizes ChildrenVideo streaming giant Netflix is drawing criticism once again, this time for hosting and promoting the film “Cuties,” which sexualizes 11-year-old girls. Having failed to learn its lesson after the trailer generated outrage last month, Netflix has gone ahead and made the movie available on its platform, despite many critics describing it as “child pornography.”3. Blog: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial: A Monument to FreedomThe history of the United States is preserved in monuments and memorials and our nation’s capital is home to some of the world’s most recognizable and frequently visited monuments. In this edition of our Monument Blog Series, we explore the historical and spiritual themes depicted in the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.4. Washington Watch: Sen. Roger Wicker on Democrats’ plans to kill the filibuster so they can pass a far-Left agendaRoger Wicker, U.S. Senator from Mississippi, joined Tony Perkins to discuss Democratic efforts to kill the filibuster in the U.S. Senate, which would pave the way for a far-Left legislative agenda.5. Washington Watch: Pastor Jonathan Cahn on the National & Global Day of Prayer and RepentanceJonathan Cahn, Messianic Jewish Rabbi, pastor, and author of The Harbinger II: The Return, joined Tony Perkins to discuss “The Return: National and Global Day of Prayer and Repentance” event on September 26 in Washington, D.C.6. Washington Watch: Pastor Ché Ahn says California pastors are under threat of arrest if their churches continue meetingChé Ahn, Pastor of Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, California, joined Tony Perkins to discuss a California prosecutor threatening his church with closure and jail sentences for holding indoor church services.7. Pray Vote Stand broadcast: The Right To LifeIf there’s one issue that ought to decide the election for anyone, it’s life. Tony Perkins was joined by Rev. Dean Nelson, Congresswoman Debbie Lesko, Travis Weber, and James Robison to discuss this fundamental issue.For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.com, our Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad.Family Research Council's vision is a prevailing culture in which all human life is valued, families flourish, and religious liberty thrives. Join us to learn about FRC's work and see how you can help advance faith, family, and freedom.
Between the coronavirus pandemic, racial tensions, and an election around the corner, America is dealing with a lot. The temptation to ignore the difficulties faced by others around the world—even pressing issues such as international religious freedom—is understandable.But for a 14-year-old Christian girl forced by a Pakistani court to live with the man who kidnapped her and forced her to convert to Islam and marry him, she may place her hope in the fact that people in free countries are sounding the alarm and advocating on her behalf. This alone is reason to care about religious freedom around the globe and raise our voices on behalf of the persecuted—because many cannot speak up for themselves.Attacks on religious freedom against those of all faiths are escalating in many regions of the world, amounting to a global crisis. Over 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries with high levels of governmental or societal religious oppression.Christians have many reasons to prioritize religious freedom. First, because God calls us to care for the persecuted church, the downtrodden, and those who cannot help themselves (Psalm 82:3-4, Isaiah 1:17, James 1:27). Second, because Christian theology aligns with the principles of religious freedom. God does not coerce us into believing; likewise, we should not use government to coerce others. True faith must always be a free choice. Third, there are practical humanitarian benefits when religious freedom thrives, leading to freer, safer, and more prosperous societies for those that embrace it.Scripture compels us to care for the persecuted church, the downtrodden, and those who cannot help themselves. Because God has allowed us to freely choose Him, it is right that we follow His example by ensuring everyone everywhere has the freedom to believe, without government or social coercion.Ultimately, religious freedom affirms the human dignity of every individual by allowing them to live according to their conscience. Anything less than robust religious freedom protections is immoral. This is a more than sufficient reason for the world to care about religious freedom.For more on the importance of international religious freedom and what you can do about it, read FRC’s new publication International Religious Freedom: What Is It and Why Should You Care?
The history of the United States is preserved in archives, books, and the collective memory of the American people. It is also preserved in monuments, memorials, and statues made from marble, granite, bronze, or plaster.Our nation’s capital is home to some of the world’s most recognizable and frequently visited monuments. This blog series will explore the events and people they commemorate, devoting particular attention to the spiritual themes depicted. By shedding light on our nation’s deep religious heritage, this series aims to inspire the next generation to emulate virtues and merits from America’s past that are worth memorializing.FRC’s blog series on monuments is written by FRC summer interns and edited by David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview. Be sure to read our previous posts on the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Joan of Arc Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence Memorial, the Japanese American Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and the Titanic Memorial.The Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. honors the life and work of Thomas Jefferson—the author of the Declaration of Independence, the first secretary of state, the second vice president, and the third president of the United States. An influential figure in America’s early development, Jefferson was a lifelong advocate for limited government, religious freedom, and public education. Although Jefferson tragically failed to uphold the right of personal liberty of his fellow humans—namely, slaves—throughout his life, Jefferson’s advocacy for religious freedom continues to benefit people of all faiths, backgrounds, and ethnicities today.Congress created the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Commission in 1934, nine years before the bicentennial of Jefferson’s birth in 1743. The site of the memorial had been originally intended for Theodore Roosevelt; however, President Franklin D. Roosevelt deeply admired Jefferson and used his influence to secure the site for the Founding Father. In 1935, the commission selected John Russell Pope, one of the nation’s most famous architects committed to the classical tradition, as the architect for the memorial.Pope’s original design called for a huge building and the transformation of the Tidal Basin into a series of reflecting pools, rectangular terraces, and formal rows of trees. This design was controversial; many people expressed concern about the possible destruction of the Tidal Basin’s famous cherry trees. These trees had been a gift from the government of Japan in 1912 and were beloved by Washington, D.C.’s residents.After Pope’s death in 1937, his colleagues Otto R. Eggers and David P. Higgins took over the project. President Roosevelt approved their more modest design, and Congress approved the first part of the $3 million construction cost in 1938. Work began that year and continued throughout World War II. On April 13, 1943, the bicentennial of Jefferson’s birth, President Roosevelt dedicated the completed memorial. To the 5,000 spectators and a radio audience of millions, Roosevelt proclaimed, “Today in the midst of a great war for freedom, we dedicate a shrine to freedom.”Upon entering the Jefferson Memorial, the visitor will notice at its center the Jefferson statue, standing 19 feet tall atop a black Minnesota granite pedestal inscribed with the dates of Jefferson’s birth and death (1743-1826). The statue is surrounded by columns, quotes from Jefferson, and a coffered ceiling above. Interestingly, when the memorial construction was completed in 1943, there was a shortage of bronze due to World War II. A plaster statue was temporarily erected, to be replaced by a bronze statue in 1947. The statue depicts Jefferson holding the Declaration of Independence in his left hand. The interior of the Jefferson Memorial is comprised of white Georgia marble, the floor of pink Tennessee marble, and the massive dome of Indiana limestone. The dome’s interior is divided into two parts: the lower section has a coffered surface, and the upper section has a smooth, uninterrupted surface.The architects of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial chose the materials not only for their aesthetic appeal but also for what they each symbolized. The exterior stonework is from Vermont, while the interior walls are from Georgia; this symbolized the geographic extremes of the original 13 colonies—from New England to the Deep South. Inside, the flooring and inner dome material are from Tennessee and Indiana; this symbolizes the expanding Union. The bronze statue of Jefferson stands atop a massive block of Minnesota granite with a gray Missouri marble ring surrounding its base; this symbolizes the impact President Jefferson had with the Louisiana Purchase during his presidency in 1803.Thomas Jefferson has been closely associated with religious freedom for more than two centuries. The Jefferson Memorial was built to commemorate an esteemed advocate for personal spiritual freedom who believed that religion was a matter of conscience so long as it is not “injurious to others” and that the state should guarantee religious freedom for “the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindu, and infidel of every denomination.” Jefferson firmly believed that broad religious freedom and toleration were essential in a nation that was comprised of people from diverse backgrounds.Today, Christians benefit from Jefferson’s convictions on personal religious freedom. Although Thomas Jefferson was not a Christian himself and is generally understood to have been a deist (i.e., accepting God’s existence but denying supernatural revelation and the deity and miracles of Jesus), Jefferson’s advocacy for religious freedom has helped ease the spread of the gospel. American Christians have an obligation to use the earthly freedom we have to preach spiritual freedom through the gospel. Galatians 5:13 states, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Let us continue to practice the religious liberty that Thomas Jefferson fought to preserve.Sarah Rumpf is a Development intern at Family Research Council.
Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:1. Update: ‘It’s Not a Reformation, It’s a Revolution’When the citizens are marching in the streets with guns to protect their property, we’ve got a big problem. Lawlessness is breaking out around the country as some cities have allowed burning, looting, and nightly violence to continue.2. Update: Trump Puts Fed Wokeness to SleepOpenly Marxist forces have made their way into our schools, our media, our government, and our streets, threatening to destroy the liberties we prize. Most recently, federal agencies have been holding mandatory re-education trainings telling federal employees that “virtually all white people contribute to racism,” or forcing them to admit they “benefit from racism.”3. Blog: California Is Fining Churches for Using Common SenseEven though the First Amendment clearly protects religious liberty, California continues to hinder churches’ efforts to reopen amidst the coronavirus pandemic. And, in addition to statewide restrictions preventing churches from resuming in-person services, California churches are also facing opposition at the local level.4. Blog: Today’s “Acceptable” RacismAmericans are engulfed in a contentious discussion about racism. The recorded death of George Floyd has led to the public demanding an end to police brutality. Many individuals and organizations have embraced the slogan, “Black lives matter.” But does our society mean what it says? Does it truly care about all black lives?5. Washington Watch: Franklin Graham calls on America to fill the National Mall with ‘people of prayer’ on Sept. 26Franklin Graham, President of Samaritan’s Purse, joined Tony Perkins to discuss hurricane relief efforts, the Washington Prayer March 2020 and the Left’s criticism of his prayer at the RNC Convention.6. Washington Watch: Al Mohler argues that the call to erase Jefferson & Washington isn’t reformation, it’s revolutionDr. Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of The Gathering Storm: Secularism, Culture, and the Church, joined Tony Perkins to discuss what insight we can gain from scripture about lawlessness.7. Pray Vote Stand broadcast: Conflicting Worldviews“The 2020 election is not about personalities, parties, or even politics. It is an election to determine the dominant worldview in America.” Tony Perkins discusses how to pray, vote, and stand amid warring worldviews with guests George Barna, Jack Hibbs, and more.For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.com, our Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad.Family Research Council’s vision is a prevailing culture in which all human life is valued, families flourish, and religious liberty thrives. Join us to learn about FRC’s work and see how you can help advance faith, family, and freedom.
Burma’s Christians have long faced ongoing and terrible mistreatment at the hands of the country’s militant Buddhist authorities. In fact, since 1999, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has declared Myanmar (also known as Burma) a “Country of Particular Concern” (CPC) because of its violent practices, lawless abuses, and discriminatory treatment of non-Buddhists. Burma’s regime has used fines, imprisonment, forced conversions, starvation, gang rape, and child abuse to oppress Christians.But Christians aren’t the only ones who suffer in Burma. Muslims are also viciously persecuted.In 2017, triggered by a relatively small insurgency, Rohingya Muslims began to face increasing violence and fled by the thousands into neighboring Bangladesh in what many observers have called ethnic cleansing—or even genocide. Still today—three years later—the situation of the Rohingyas continues to fester.According to USCIRF’s 2020 report, since the violence began—including the clearance operations that Burma’s security forces first launched in October 2016—nearly 725,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh, whose refugee population in Cox’s Bazar (see above image) now totals 1.1 million. One refugee told USCIRF that whereas previously the authorities in Burma’s Rakhine State only restricted Rohingya Muslims’ freedoms, since the October 2016 and August 2017 waves of violence “the authorities rape, burn, and kill them.”On August 25, USCIRF marked the third anniversary of Burma’s Rohingya crackdown:Three years after the beginning of the genocidal campaign against the Rohingya people, the Burmese government has done almost nothing to hold the military accountable or make conditions safe for the Rohingya to return to their homes,” USCIRF Commissioner Nadine Maenza stated. “Refugee camps are not a long-term solution for the Rohingya people. The United States and the international community must reinvigorate and catalyze efforts to permit the Rohingya to return to their home in Burma as full citizens.At the same time, Voice of America reported, “Burmese leaders still aim to eradicate the Rohingya. The Rohingya are being destroyed. The lives of the remaining 600,000 Rohingya in Burma are under house arrest,” said Tun Khin, a leading Rohingya activist. He explained that the United States has always played a leading role in tackling ethnic crimes, and other countries will follow suit if the United States now stands up for the Rohingya.It was long hoped that a beloved icon of freedom, Myanmar’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi—who once spent years under house arrest in her Burmese homeland, and whose appeals for peace earned her a Nobel Prize—would speak up now that she serves as “State Counsellor,” Burma’s de facto leader. But tragically, her former international honor has been tarnished.Arab News has reported widespread international disappointment with Aung San Suu Kyi. She “has so far failed to speak out on the violence, leaving her global reputation in tatters. Rights groups, activists — including many who campaigned for her in the past — and her fellow Nobel laureates Malala Yousafzai and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have condemned her.”Unfortunately, discrimination against the Rohingya was dramatically aggravated by a militant insurgency within the Rohingya community itself. This insurgency, known as ARSA, had its beginnings far from Southeast Asia. On August 31, 2017, the Chicago Tribune published an AP report about the group’s initial development:The group was formed last year by Rohingya exiles living in Saudi Arabia, according to the International Crisis Group, which detailed ARSA’s origins in a report last year. It is led by Attullah Abu Amar Jununi, a Pakistani-born Rohingya who grew up in Mecca, and a committee of about 20 Rohingya emigres. ICG says there are indications Jununi and others received militant training in Pakistan and possibly Afghanistan.The insurgents’ first attacks took place in October 2016, when more than a hundred Rohingya men, armed with various weapons, including knives, slingshots, and rifles, attacked police and killed nine officers. In August 2017, the group struck again, attacking a far larger area, which included Buddhist villages, killing many civilians as well as targeting police. Unsurprisingly, this resulted in a fierce response by the Burmese authorities, leading to the torching of numerous Rohingya villages and the killing, rape, and displacement of thousands.The ARSA rebels have since declared a “ceasefire.” However, the damage activated by their insurgency has since resulted in the unending flood of displaced Rohingyas who clearly had nothing to do with ARSA terrorism or any other crimes. Nonetheless their plight seems never ending.And at the same time, Burma’s Christians also continue to be mistreated and abused.The Wall Street Journal has reported that the four million Christians in Burma make up about 8.2 percent of the mostly Buddhist population. They live in the country’s margins and belong to ethnic minority groups such as the Karen, Kachin, Chin, Karenni, Lahu, and Naga. They experience everything from discrimination to violent abuse.For example, as USCIRF recently noted:Beginning in 2018, Burma’s Chinese-backed United Wa State Army (UWSA) has targeted Christians in territory under its control. Under the guise of confronting “religious extremism,” UWSA soldiers interrogated and detained almost 100 pastors; ordered others to leave the region; closed religious schools and churches; destroyed unauthorized churches; banned new church construction; and forcibly recruited Christian students. In late 2018, the UWSA released those detained after they signed a pledge to pray only at home. In December 2019, the UWSA reopened 51 of the more than 100 churches closed with the rest remaining closed.Tragically for persecuted Christians—and of course for mistreated Rohingyas and other religious minorities in Burma and far beyond—little awaits them but uncertainty, deprivation, and despair. May God have mercy on them all. And may those of us who enjoy religious freedom continue to pray, provide support, and speak out on their behalf.
When Ji Hyeona was growing up in North Korea, the word “faith” meant being loyal to the Kim family dictators.Religious freedom doesn’t exist in North Korea and adhering to any religion is extremely dangerous, as Ji found out for herself. One day, she was taken to the local Ministry of State Security without warning. There, she was beaten and tortured, not knowing why she was being singled out for such treatment.Then, the authorities placed Ji's Bible on the desk in front of her. It was a Bible her mother had brought back to North Korea after a trip to China, and Ji had begun to read it. Sadly, her own friend had reported her to the government for possessing a Bible.At the time, Ji was able to talk her way out of further punishment, but she was informed she would not be forgiven if this happened again.This would not be Ji’s last encounter with North Korean authorities. She managed the difficult escape from North Korea four times—and was forcibly repatriated back to North Korea by Chinese authorities three times. Forced labor in prison camps awaits those who dare leave the hermit kingdom.Twice in China, Ji was forced into prostitution, and during one repatriation to North Korea, she returned pregnant. Because so-called “mixed-race” babies are not recognized in North Korea, repatriated defectors who return pregnant endure brutal and heartbreaking forced abortions. Ji was no exception.Ji continues to tell her story despite how painful it is. Why? She says, “While people are dying and the rest of the world watches that... if they maintain their silence despite knowing what is going on, I don’t think that’s right.”For nearly two decades, Open Doors’ World Watch List has continuously designated North Korea as the #1 worst persecutor of Christians in the world. The horrifying stories told by escapees like Ji describe unimaginable cruelties under the brutal Kim family’s authority.The 2020 U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) report explains, “The (North Korean) government treats religion as a threat...Christians are especially vulnerable because the government views them as susceptible to foreign influence. ... Anyone caught practicing religion or even suspected of harboring religious views in private is subject to severe punishment, including arrest, torture, imprisonment, and execution.”On top of the hardships created by the failed communist state, speculation about the status of COVID-19 in North Korea continues. Timothy Cho from Open Doors UK, himself a North Korean defector, says that the hurting economy and widespread malnutrition make North Koreans especially vulnerable to the coronavirus: “North Korea was already presenting with existing issues of ongoing starvation and malnutrition and economic crisis. What’s been happening since this virus lockdown [is] they had closed the borders with China. So, it has radically decreased the amount of imported food and medicine, this is the reason why a lot of items’ prices have gone up to more than four times and some of these imported food and foodstuff are difficult to find in the market.”North Korea has also experienced historic levels of rainfall this summer. Floods have destroyed hundreds of homes in addition to ruining large rice fields. Due to the fragility of the country’s agricultural system, experts suggest the year’s harvest may be significantly affected, ultimately leading to food shortages.The secretive and controlling North Korean regime makes it difficult for new information about the country’s deplorable human rights conditions, shoddy health care system, and economic and agricultural failures to reach the rest of the world. But while the situation rarely makes international news, we would be remiss to forget or ignore the plight of North Koreas, including those who suffer for their faith every day.Please remember faithful Christians in prayer. It takes great courage to practice one’s faith in the type of isolation forced upon North Korean believers. Simple acts like praying or owning a Bible put their very lives at risk. Much remains uncertain about the future of the hermit kingdom. Renewed talks between the United States and North Korea remain a possibility in the coming months and years. Meanwhile, rumors still swirl about shifting power dynamics within the regime. However, one thing is certain. No matter what developments occur among regime officials or what deals they try to strike with other nations, the United States and other free countries must do everything in their power to press for religious freedom and human rights in North Korea. Far too many people are suffering, silenced by their oppressive government and unable to speak up for themselves.
The people of America are engulfed in a contentious discussion about racism. The recorded death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer has been viewed by millions, and the public has responded by demanding an end to police brutality. Many individuals and organizations have embraced the slogan, “Black lives matter.” Yet, as often happens in today’s politically divisive climate, some actions, such as police behavior, have been closely scrutinized, while others remain unexamined. But does our society mean what it says? Does it truly care about all black lives? Or is the present crisis merely being used to promote certain political agendas and signal “virtuous” character?Planned Parenthood’s Eugenic LegacyLight was introduced into a dark corner recently, when a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Manhattan announced that it was removing the name of its founder, Margaret Sanger, from its building due to her ties to the eugenics movement. It has been well documented that Margaret Sanger’s motivation for promoting birth control was to prevent births from populations she considered less desirable. Her mindset can be demonstrated by statements such as, “Eugenics without birth control seems to us a house built upon the sands. It is at the mercy of the rising stream of the unfit.” Today, Planned Parenthood is the largest supplier of abortion in the United States, and they continue Sanger’s eugenic legacy in their organizational practices.Seventy-nine percent of Planned Parenthood’s abortion facilities are located within impoverished minority neighborhoods, and black women are disproportionately receiving abortions. Although they constitute only 12 percent of the population, they obtain 38 percent of the abortions. Black women have obtained approximately 20 million of the 65 million abortions that have occurred in the U.S. since abortion was widely legalized in 1973. Poignantly, that is more than the entire U.S. black population at the time of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Today, there are 43 million black people in the U.S. Our country would have about 50 percent more black citizens if abortion had not ended the lives of so many black children prior to birth. Was this eugenic result premeditated by those who promote abortion?The Effect of Abortion on the Black FamilyAlthough rarely acknowledged by those proposing expansion of entitlement programs as the solution to racial inequality, most of the pathologies affecting black Americans can be directly traced to the breakdown of the black family. Only 25 percent of black children were born to unmarried mothers prior to abortion’s legalization, but today, 69 percent are born out of wedlock. More than 50 years of government welfare programs have proven to be a poor substitute for a stable family in the lives of black children.How might readily accessible abortion have contributed to this change in black families? The narrative of “her body, her choice” has apparently led many men to believe that the decision to bear a child belongs to the woman alone. The presence of another option may leave black men less inclined to marry the mother of their child if a pregnancy unintentionally occurs and she chooses to give birth. Additionally, many women who desire their children may be coerced into abortions by unwilling partners. Surely, black women do not aspire to raise their children alone, but their high abortion rates and unmarried childbirth rates provide evidence for the failure of many black men to fulfill their responsibilities as fathers.Sociologic studies have consistently documented that a father’s presence in the home decreases a family’s poverty, the likelihood that the daughters will experience teen pregnancy, and the likelihood that the sons will resort to criminality. The large number of fatherless black children being raised by single mothers undoubtedly contributes to many of the problems plaguing the black community in America today: mass incarceration, gang violence, poverty, drug abuse, poor education, and unemployment. Yet, little discussion is devoted to ways in which paternal involvement in black families could be promoted and prioritized. Much attention has been given to the increased mortality rates in black women surrounding pregnancy and childbirth. This has been simplistically attributed to “systemic racism,” but few are aware that the 3.3-fold increased rate of maternal mortality in black women compared to white women mirrors the 3.6-fold increased rate of abortion. Limiting the discussion to racism ignores other factors exacerbated by abortion that contribute to maternal mortality.Poverty is a risk factor for failure to obtain appropriate medical care and may contribute to this racial disparity. Only five percent of married couples live in poverty, so the extremely high rate of single black mothers undoubtedly contributes to their poor outcomes. Risk factors for pregnancy complications such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes occur more commonly in black than white women. There may be genetic reasons for this, but poverty is also associated with these high-risk conditions. Pregnancies complicated by these co-morbidities are more likely to lead to C-section delivery, which has a far higher mortality rate.Regardless of financial status, giving birth and caring for a child without a partner places a woman at an obvious disadvantage. If she should become ill during pregnancy or in the postpartum period, she may be unable or unwilling to seek emergency care due to a lack of social support, childcare, or transportation.Black women more commonly have later abortions (13 percent) than white women (9 percent). The risk of death from abortion increases by 38 percent every week after eight weeks gestation. Thus, deaths directly related to physical complications of later abortions are increased in black women.The Dire Long-Term Consequences of AbortionAdverse mental health outcomes, such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, high risk-taking behavior, and suicide, are increased after abortion. These are common causes of “deaths of despair” in the black community. Black women are also more likely to be the victims of violence, often from their intimate partners.In addition to the immediate physical risks of abortion, there are long-term complications that increase a woman’s risk of death in a subsequent pregnancy. Forcibly opening a cervix that is designed to remain closed until natural childbirth may result in cervical trauma and cervical incompetence in future pregnancies, often leading to preterm birth. Black women are documented to have higher preterm birth rates, leading to much suffering for their children from the complications of prematurity. Obstetric interventions for the management of preterm birth can lead to mortality from infections or medication toxicity.And finally, instrumental trauma to the uterus, which may occur during a surgical abortion, can cause faulty adherence of the placenta in a subsequent pregnancy, leading to premature placental separation or placental invasion into the cervix, uterine wall, or adjacent organs. There has been a 110-fold increase in “Placental Accreta Spectrum” since 1950, which can cause catastrophic hemorrhage at the time of delivery, a common cause of maternal deaths.A Disproportionate TragedyClearly, abortion has disproportionately affected the black community, leading to a decrease in their population numbers as well as many adverse consequences to women and children. Many of the pathologies affecting the black community can be at least partly attributed to the breakdown in families and the absence of paternal involvement, facilitated by abortion. Mental health complications in black women, leading to deaths of despair, can be caused by abortion. Immediate pregnancy complications, especially from dangerous late-term abortions, as well as complications in subsequent pregnancies, such as preterm delivery and abnormal placentation, may also lead to maternal morbidity and mortality. Is our country ready to have this hard conversation? Many people who claim to despise racism also believe abortion should be readily available to women in any situation. Are we ready to talk about how widespread abortion in the black population has become an “acceptable” form of racism in the U.S. today?Ingrid Skop, M.D., F.A.C.O.G. has been a practicing obstetrician-gynecologist for 22 years. Dr. Skop is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a Board Member of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), and a Charlotte Lozier Institute Associate Scholar. She is the author of FRC’s Top 10 Myths About Abortion.
Even though the First Amendment clearly protects religious liberty, California continues to stymie churches’ efforts to reopen amidst the coronavirus pandemic.On August 28, Governor Newsom announced a new statewide reopening plan, which replaced the previous county monitoring list. Under the new system, each county will be classified under one of four tiers. Each tier has a corresponding color that designates the county’s coronavirus risk level, which is based on the number of new coronavirus cases per day and the percentage of positive tests. Purple counties (widespread risk level) have more than seven new cases per day (per every 100,000) and more than eight percent positive tests. Red counties (substantial risk level) have four to seven new cases per day (per every 100,000) and five to eight percent positive tests. Orange counties (moderate risk level) have one to 3.9 new cases per day (per every 100,000) and two to 4.9 percent positive tests. Yellow counties (minimal risk level) have less than one new case per day (per every 100,000) and less than two percent positive tests.Unfortunately, California’s new system fails to adequately prioritize the First Amendment rights of its churches and congregations. As of the Governor’s announcement on Friday, 38 of the state’s 58 counties (approximately 87 percent of the population) were in the highly restrictive purple tier. In these counties, churches are not allowed to hold indoor services. In red counties (currently nine counties), churches may hold indoor services, but they may only admit up to 25 percent of their building’s capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. Churches in orange counties (currently nine counties) may also hold indoor services but must limit attendance to 50 percent of building capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer. Churches in yellow counties may admit up to 50 percent of their building’s capacity, but only two counties, Modoc and Alpine Counties, are currently classified under this tier. According to industry guidance (current as of July 29), all churches have been ordered to “discontinue indoor singing and chanting activities.”In addition to statewide restrictions preventing churches from resuming in-person services, California churches are also facing opposition at the local level. Los Angeles County’s Grace Community Church resumed in-person services on July 26. After the County threatened the church with civil and criminal penalties for continued violations of the County’s prohibition on indoor worship services, the church filed a lawsuit against Governor Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and other public officials. The County tried—and failed—four times to obtain court orders that would force the church to cease holding in-person services. On August 28, in another attempt to prevent the church from reopening, the County “terminat[ed] the church’s lease on a large portion of [its] parking lot.”Grace Community Church is not alone in its struggle to reopen. In Ventura County, a judge held Godspeak Calvary Chapel and its pastor, Rob McCoy, in contempt of court. He fined the church $3,000 for holding indoor services in violation of a temporary restraining order that mandated compliance with the County’s prohibition on such services. And in Santa Clara County, North Valley Baptist Church has been fined over $52,000 for continuing to hold in-person services.As churches in California and across the country consider reopening, they should make every effort to reopen safely by taking reasonable precautions and following common-sense guidelines. It is high time that California allows them to do so.Kaitlyn Shepherd is a legal intern with Policy & Government Affairs at Family Research Council.
Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:1. Update: Who Can Quiet the Riot?For the past three months, the rioting taking places across the country has taken lives and destroyed businesses and workers’ livelihoods. There is reason to believe that the criminal activity in these riots has been organized, and Homeland Security is investigating to crack down on the perpetrators.2. Update: Law and Order Is for EveryoneCalling for law and order was never controversial—until President Trump did it. And now that his message is resonating in America, the media has decided: restoring order isn't just controversial, but racist too.3. Washington Watch: Kenosha's Scott Carpenter mourns the destruction of his family business in the city’s riotsScott Carpenter, family business owner of B&L Office Furniture, joined Tony Perkins to discuss his perspective on law and order after having his business destroyed by rioters.4. Washington Watch: Larry Taunton pulls back the curtain on the anti-Americanism fueling the Marxist movementLarry Taunton, Executive Director of the Fixed Point Foundation, a graduate student of Russian history and Marxism in the 1990s, and author of the soon to be released Around the World in (More Than) 80 Days: Discovering What Makes America Great and Why We Must Fight to Save It joined Tony Perkins to discuss Marxism in America, specifically the Marxist tactics spurring on riots and lawlessness across the country.5. Washington Watch: Rep. Warren Davidson reminds people that, even in Congress, God doesn't need a majority to workRep. Warren Davidson, U.S. Representative for the 8th district of Ohio and Member of the House Financial Services Committee, joined Tony Perkins to share how his faith has been his foundation as he has answered the calls to serve his country, first in the United States Army and then in the U.S. House of Representatives.6. Washington Watch: Andy McCarthy gets to the bottom of where the president’s power begins & ends on restoring orderAndy McCarthy, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and Senior Fellow at the National Review Institute, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the actions that can be taken to address lawlessness across the country.7. Pray Vote Stand broadcast: Are Our Elections Safe?Will your vote count this November? With the emergence of mail-in ballots and other potential points of fraud, we discuss ballot integrity with guests Ken Paxton, Ronnie Floyd, and Vincent Mathews.For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.com, our Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad.
Abortion activists recently took offense at a congressional letter addressed to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), alleging it called pregnancy “not life-threatening.”But this is not a faithful representation of what the letter, signed by 20 Republican senators, said. In actuality, the letter stated that “pregnancy is not a life-threatening illness.” This is an important distinction. Senate Republicans are not denying the life-threatening complications that can emerge during pregnancy and labor. They are stressing the point that pregnancy—and by extension, the unborn child in the womb—is not a disease for which the abortion pill is a “cure.”Certainly, pregnancy has associated health risks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. maternal mortality rate is 17.4 per 100,000 live births as of 2018. But pregnancy, the natural biological process of bringing new human life into the world, is not a disease, and should not be treated as if it were one.The two-pill abortion regimen of mifepristone and misoprostol, on the other hand, carries its own set of risks to women’s health that are far from natural. These risks include severe bleeding, infection, retained fetal parts, the need for emergency surgery, and even death. There are over 4,000 documented cases of abortion pills endangering the lives and health of women. Said health risks are the reason why the FDA placed safety restrictions on the procurement of abortion pills. We don’t even know the full extent of the damage that abortion pills have inflicted on women’s health, because reporting of adverse events is voluntary. The FDA admits that it “does not receive reports for every adverse event or medication error that occurs with a product.”One of the FDA’s safety restrictions required women to make an in-person visit to a certified prescriber in order to receive abortion pills. This restriction, meant to mitigate some of the risks of taking abortion pills, was recently waived for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic by a federal district judge. This decision sought to protect women’s health, but in reality, it merely substituted one health risk (COVID-19) for another (severe abortion complications).But even with these FDA restrictions fully in place, the abortion pill (also known as chemical or medical abortion) has been shown to pose a greater risk to women’s health than surgical abortion in the first trimester. As Michael J. New of the Charlotte Lozier Institute and Donna Harrison of the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists write:[A] 2015 study of abortion safety in California, based on comprehensive and reliable data from Medicaid billing records rather than surveys, found that medical abortions resulted in four times the complication rate of first-trimester surgical abortions. Given that chemical abortions are already riskier than early surgical abortions, it stands to reason that performing medical abortions without physician supervision only increases those risks.The Republican senators who signed the letter to FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn are not denying—as some news media headlines and abortion activists would apparently have the American public believe—that pregnancies can have life-threatening medical complications. These senators are making the legitimate claim that abortion pills are “an ‘imminent hazard to the public health’” that should not be considered a viable solution to an unplanned pregnancy or any potential pregnancy complications.
Here are "The 7" top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:1. Update: The Sticking Point with Mandatory VaccinesVirginia Health Commissioner Norman Oliver recently promised to make a COVID-19 vaccine mandatory and members of a Virginia House committee killed two bills that would have added a religious exemption to the mandate. Americans must decide if they want to live with this form of soft despotism. Will they live in freedom? Or live in fear?2. Update: Anchorage Therapy Ban Not Anchored in TruthRecently, the Anchorage (Alaska) Assembly passed an ordinance to prohibit sexual orientation or gender identity change efforts by any licensed professional counselor. The ordinance violates a number of constitutional and core ethical principles of the counseling profession. Even after widespread community opposition, the Anchorage Assembly chose to move forward with a measure that is not anchored in constitutional law, professional ethics, or scientific truth.3. Blog: "Snopes Overlooks the Facts in Its Fact-Check of the Senate Born-Alive Vote"By omitting several key elements of the abortion survival debate, Snopes' fact-check of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (SB 311) presented a biased appraisal of the issue. The so-called "fact check" is a lackluster attempt to provide cover for U.S. senators who failed to support federal protections against infanticide.4. Blog: "Pro-Life Until Natural Death"Physician-assisted suicide (PAS) has grown in popularity due to an ideological shift and the personal experiences of numerous individuals. Scripture continually speaks of the inherent value of human life, whether that is of an unborn child or an elderly person. Instead of ending lives, God calls us to celebrate life and trust Him during times of suffering.5. Washington Watch: Rep. Louie Gohmert can't believe that Amazon continues to plead ignorant about the disgraced SPLCLouie Gohmert, U.S. Representative for the 1st district of Texas and Member of the House Judiciary Committee, joined Tony Perkins to discuss GOP House Members asking Jeff Bezos to explain Amazon's reliance on the scandal plagued Southern Poverty Law Center.6. Washington Watch: Sen. Roy Blunt reminds voters that this election isn't about personalities, it's about policiesRoy Blunt, U.S. Senator from Missouri, joined Tony Perkins to discuss an overview of this week's RNC Convention.7. Pray Vote Stand broadcast: Michelle Bachmann, Mike Johnson, Rob McCoy, Carter ConlonEach week until the election, FRC and FRC Action will host a special Pray Vote Stand broadcast to equip you to pray, vote, and stand for biblical truth. We'll have experts, elected leaders, and Christian leaders join us for these half-hour programs that will help you see through the fog that's being created by the biased lenses of the traditional media. For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.com, our Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad.
The history of the United States is preserved in archives, books, and the collective memory of the American people. It is also preserved in monuments, memorials, and statues made from marble, granite, bronze, or plaster.Our nation’s capital is home to some of the world’s most recognizable and frequently visited monuments. This blog series will explore the events and people they commemorate, devoting particular attention to the spiritual themes depicted. By shedding light on our nation’s deep religious heritage, this series aims to inspire the next generation to emulate virtues and merits from America’s past that are worth memorializing.FRC’s blog series on monuments is written by FRC summer interns and edited by David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview. Be sure to read our previous posts on the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Joan of Arc Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence Memorial, Japanese American Memorial, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. On April 15, 1912, the RMS Titanic sank in the Atlantic Ocean after striking an iceberg on her maiden voyage. The sinking of the so-called “unsinkable ship” and massive loss of life (over 1,500 of the 2,224 passengers) garnered international attention and led to major changes in maritime safety regulations.Following the sinking of the Titanic, a movement arose to commemorate those who perished in the tragedy, specifically the men who had abided by the ship’s policy of admitting women and children into the lifeboats first. Approximately 75 percent of the men aboard the Titanic died in the icy waters of the Atlantic when the ship sank.Within a month of the ship’s sinking, planning and fundraising to build a monument in memory of these men were already underway. Helen Herron Taft, wife of President William Howard Taft, gave the first recorded donation to the Women’s Titanic Memorial Association, which was chaired by Clara Hay, the widow of Secretary of State John Hay. Titanic survivors and family members were prominent contributors. Two such donors were the widow of the late Pennsylvania railroad magnate John Thayer and Mrs. Archibald Forbes, who donated the money she had won playing bridge against the late John Jacob Astor the night the ship sank. Both Mr. Thayer and Mr. Astor died onboard. In the end, over $40,000 was raised toward the memorial.The Women’s Titanic Memorial Association sponsored and organized a design competition for the memorial exclusively among female artists. The original design for the monument was an arch, but the committee preferred a statue designed by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and chose it instead. While Whitney was the designer, she did not sculpt the memorial. Rather, the monument’s base was sculpted and engraved by Henry Bacon, the same architect who designed and built the Lincoln Memorial. The statue on top of the base was carved from a single piece of red granite by John Horrigan in Quincy, Massachusetts.Located at the northern tip of Fort McNair in Washington D.C., the memorial is a 15-foot statue of a young man with his arms stretched wide in a posture of hospitality, sacrifice, and surrender toward heaven. His head is tilted upward, his eyes are closed, and a peaceful expression rests across his face. A crown of laurels rests on the young man’s head, a symbol of honor, like the wreaths given to champions in ancient Rome. Finally, a drape covers most of the statue’s left side, maintaining his innocence and demonstrating his humility.On the granite base of the memorial is the inscription:To the brave men who perished in the wreck of the TitanicApril 15, 1912They gave their lives that women and children might be savedErected by the women of America On the back of the base, it reads:To the young and the oldThe rich and the poorThe ignorant and the learnedAllWho gave their lives noblyTo save women and children It took 17 years to build the memorial, due to a lack of funds, but on May 26, 1931, it was finally dedicated in a coveted spot along the Potomac. It was unveiled by Helen Herron Taft, the now-widow of William Howard Taft, who had been president at the time of the Titanic’s sinking. Unfortunately, the memorial was taken down in 1966 and put into storage. Its former site is now home to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. However, the memorial reemerged from storage in 1968 and now resides at the northern tip of Fort McNair.We can learn three truths from the Titanic Memorial and the men it honors. First, the statue is in a posture of peace. As Christians, we must remember Jesus’ invitation and promise to give rest to all who come to Him (Matthew 11:28). Despite the dark nights we may face, true rest from our fears can be found in Christ.Second, the statue is in a posture of surrender. Christians must remember to surrender to God daily and trust His will for our lives. Consider the refrain of Christ’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane before he suffered for our sakes, “Yet not my will, but thine be done” (Luke 22:42). We must surrender our lives to God so that we might truly live for Him.Third, the statue represents sacrifice. Christians must remember Christ’s ultimate sacrifice for us on the cross. John 15:13 reminds us that “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Just as men onboard the Titanic sacrificed their lives so others might live, so Christ laid down His life for the world, so that all might live.
By omitting several key elements of the abortion survival debate, Snopes' fact-check of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (SB 311) is not an unbiased appraisal of the issue. Rather, it is a lackluster attempt to provide cover for U.S. senators who failed to support federal protections against infanticide.Here is a fact-check of Snopes' fact-check. Snopes' Claim:Thirty-four states have "laws offering various levels of protection for babies born alive after failed abortions, and various levels of criminal penalties set out for health care practitioners who fail to provide care for them."What's True: Actually, thirty-five states have some form of legal protection for infants born alive after failed abortions. Yet, nearly two-thirds of state laws do not have criminal penalties for physicians who fail to provide medical care to infants born alive.Snopes mentions FRC's Born-Alive Protections Map in its fact-check, but completely misses the map's main takeaway. Yes, 35 states have some form of born-alive law on the books, but only 16 of those states mandate an appropriate form of care and impose penalties on physicians who fail to provide said care. The remaining 19 states do not provide necessary protections for abortion survivors. Most simply mirror the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002, which recognized and defined any child surviving a failed abortion as a full person under the law but failed to provide any concrete ways to hold physicians accountable for killing or denying medical care to infants who survive abortion.It appears that Snopes erroneously conflates different elements of born alive laws in asserting that "two-thirds" of states have "various levels of criminal penalties" in their born-alive laws.Snopes also conveniently omits that New York and Illinois repealed born-alive laws in 2019. Snopes' Claim:Democrat and Independent U.S. senators voted against the federal Born-Alive bill (SB 311) because it would have interfered with the doctor-patient relationship and undermined legal abortion access.What's True: SB 311 contains no language that would undermine current abortion laws. The bill merely seeks to ensure adequate protections for born-alive infants who have survived an abortion. As the bill's sponsor, Sen. Ben Sasse, explained on the Senate floor before the 2019 vote: "The bill's terms are simple. A child born alive during a botched abortion would be given the same level of care that would be provided to any other baby born at the same gestational age….This bill is exclusively about protecting babies that have already been born and are outside the womb."Rather than quote the bill's sponsor, Snopes relied entirely on quotes from Democrat senators who opposed the bill. While these Democrat senators may have claimed a potential breach of the doctor-patient relationship as a reason for opposing the bill, no such breaches have been raised in the 16 states with born-alive laws comparable to SB 311. Furthermore, born-alive laws in these states have had no proven effect on access to late-term abortions. Snopes' Claim:Democrat senators voted against SB 311 because they felt it was unnecessary in light of existing law. Senator Mazie Hirono said the bill was "a solution in search of a problem."What's True:Studies from around the world confirm that infants can and do survive abortion. A 2018 European study found that over half of 241 pre-viable pregnancies resulted in live births following attempted abortions. A CDC report from 2003-14 revealed that at least 143 infants died after being born alive from an abortion. Only eight U.S. states currently require reporting on abortion survivors, but in those states, there have been at least 179 survival cases. Minnesota reported three cases in 2019 in its July 2020 report. Florida, which provides live updates of born-alive survivors, has reported four cases in 2020 alone. These reports show that infants can and do survive late-term abortions, and the states that provide accurate reporting report several cases each year.We should all agree that whether by neglect or intentional means, the killing of a baby who has been born alive is abhorrent. Since so few states provide detailed information on abortion survivors, the scope of the problem is not fully known. Even one child born alive who dies after surviving an abortion attempt because they were denied medical care is too many.Even Snopes grudgingly admitted in its article: "SB 311 would introduce a "born alive" abortion law that would apply uniformly throughout the entire country. By voting to block the progress of SB 311, the Democratic and Independent senators did undoubtedly prevent that outcome from becoming much more likely" (bolding mine).
Are you looking to grow closer in your relationship with Jesus Christ, and in your knowledge of God’s word? Family Research Council has a 3-part series titled “Ways to Read the Bible.” This blog series shares helpful ways to be encouraged and directed by God’s truth by observing the text of the Bible and applying it to your life. There is no better time than now to get to know God through his word and to learn what it says about yourself, God, and humanity. Check out this helpful resource and learn how to read the Bible with not just your eyes, but with your heart and mind also.Ways to Read the Bible (Part 1): Devotional Bible ReadingWays to Read the Bible (Part 2): Reading the Bible Start-to-FinishWays to Read the Bible (Part 3): Inductive Bible Study
The history of the United States is preserved in archives, books, and the collective memory of the American people. It is also preserved through monuments and memorials that visually represent the extraordinary history of our nation.To tell these stories and remind ourselves of the importance of these memorials, Family Research Council has a new blog series highlighting the most recognizable and popular monuments in our nation's capital. This series devotes particular attention to the historical and spiritual themes depicted in each monument, sharing some not so well-known facts about their history, design, and symbolic meaning that shed light on our nation's deep religious heritage.This series aims to inspire the next generation to see the importance of these monuments and to remind us of the virtues and lessons that they memorialize.The Lincoln Memorial: A Monument to Unity in a Time of DiscordThe World War II Memorial: A Tribute to Our Nation’s HeroesThe Joan of Arc Memorial: A Tribute to Courage and FaithThe Korean War Memorial: A Tribute to SacrificeThe 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence Memorial: Life, Liberty, and LegacyThe Japanese American Memorial: A Monument to ReconciliationThe Martin Luther King Memorial: A Monument to Justice and Peace
Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:1. Resource: Pro-Life Maps: Defund Abortion ProvidersLeftist activists are calling for increased taxpayer funding of abortions. And despite state and federal efforts to spare taxpayers from being forced to fund the abortion industry, the industry still receives millions of dollars each year in taxpayer money. Family Research Council has released a newly updated pro-life map that tracks state funding of the abortion industry.2. Publication: Biblical Principles for Human SexualityWhat does the Bible teach about sexuality and how should Christians respond to the culture’s view on sexuality? This publication will help today's Christians answer these questions by surveying key passages of Scripture that speak directly to human sexuality, as well as consulting the wisdom of pastors and theologians throughout church history.3. Blog: “The 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence Memorial: Life, Liberty, and Legacy”The history of the United States is preserved in monuments and memorials and our nation’s capital is home to some of the world’s most recognizable and frequently visited monuments. In this edition of our Monument Blog Series, we explore the historical and spiritual themes depicted in the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence Memorial.4. Blog: “And to the Oligarchy for Which It Stands”The U.S. Constitution explicitly places “all legislative power” into the hands of Congress. This is far from being the case today. The U.S. Supreme Court has assumed a level of authority that significantly alters the contours of our constitutional structure and threatens the very notion of our republic.5. Washington Watch: Doug Wilson offers practical advice on how churches can start their own Christian schoolsDoug Wilson, Pastor of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, and board member of Logos School, joined Tony Perkins to discuss what pastors and churches need to know about starting a Christian school.6. Washington Watch: Sen. Kevin Cramer opens up about keeping an eternal perspective in times of great joy and lossOn Faith & Freedom Friday, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) joined Tony to share about his faith journey with the Lord and how he sees public service as a ministry and calling. He opens up about the tragic loss of his son, Isaac, and the ways God has brought forth grace and redemption through that challenge.7. Washington Watch: Rep. Chip Roy shares how the centrality of his faith inspires him to defend our fundamental freedomsOn Faith & Freedom Friday, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) joined Tony to discuss his faith journey with the Lord and how it informs his passion for defending our fundamental freedoms. He also opens up about trusting God and persevering amidst a surprising cancer diagnosis at 39 years old.For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.com, our Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad.
As medical technology evolves, doctors have been able to utilize new medicines that help to prolong life. At the same time, however, there has been an increase in the desire to end life in a more “peaceful” or “dignified” manner. Physician-assisted suicide (PAS) has grown in popularity due to an ideological shift and the personal experiences of numerous individuals. According to The Hastings Center, “Dying patients who see their lives being destroyed by illness sometimes come to view death as the only way to escape their suffering, and therefore view it as a means of self-preservation—the opposite of suicide.”The original intent of PAS was to alleviate prolonged suffering for individuals with a terminal disease or sickness. Unfortunately, peoples’ ideas of what warrants PAS has become more ambiguous and subjective. It has become clear that there are those who would like PAS to become more accessible to everyone and not just those who are terminally ill. This would imply that individuals who are disabled, handicapped, or have poor quality of life could legally end their lives through PAS.In The Oregonian, Erin Hoover Barnett tells the story of 85-year-old Kate Cheney with dementia. Cheney’s daughter, Erika, wanted her mother to choose PAS. However, before Cheney was permitted to choose PAS, she saw two psychologists. One found her unequipped to make such a difficult decision. The other found that her decision was heavily influenced by her daughter Erika. Despite these concerns, Cheney was able to choose PAS and died only a week after her last psych evaluation.There are more stories like Cheney’s, but it can be challenging to learn and analyze the consequences of PAS. Dr. Katrina Hedberg from the Oregon Department of Human Services explains why there is not enough substantial research about PAS: “We are not given the resources to investigate [assisted-suicide cases] and not only do we not have the resources to do it, but we do not have any legal authority to insert ourselves.” Researchers have been unable to gather in-depth information about PAS due to the harsh law restrictions. It is evident that there are several loopholes in the PAS process.For example, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund says that someone who has been diagnosed with major depressive disorder should be deemed incompetent to make the decision to end his or her life through PAS. The Oregon Death with Dignity Act Annual Reports found that between 2011-2014, “only 3% of patients (or fewer) were referred for psychological evaluation or counseling before receiving their prescriptions for lethal drugs.” This shows that people are not mandated to have a psych evaluation before the prescription of lethal drugs that end their life. Numerous Oregon psychologists have shared that they cannot diagnose someone with major depressive disorder after just one visit. A single appointment cannot determine the mental stability of an individual, especially in regard to that patient choosing PAS.To ask psychologists to deem a patient mentally competent enough to choose PAS in just one visit is requiring those psychologists to neglect their responsibility to their patients. Psychologists recognize that mental health takes time to diagnose and time to heal. Even the most renowned psychologist cannot make a clear and accurate assessment of a patient in one session. Death with Dignity, a pro-PAS activist organization, claims that one should end their life, “when the quality of life has decreased to an unacceptable or intolerable level, and all that is left are days of suffering.” This creates a convoluted standard of what it means to have “quality of life.” It is impossible to predict someone’s death. PAS could lead to an unnecessarily premature death. Advocates of PAS are suggesting that quality of life is decided by each individual, with no set standard of quality of life. This means that people can end their lives based on relative standards, decreasing the cultural value on human life and dignity, which creates more issues.It is important to recognize that there are individuals who are experiencing intense terminal suffering. There is no doubt that many people contemplating PAS are in deep agony and desire relief from that pain. However, physician-assisted suicide should be illegal because the standards for qualifying are vague and are not adequately supervised. Further, even death is not the answer to life’s worst sufferings. The intentional premature killing of those who are terminally ill devalues human life and robs relatives of precious time they could have spent with their dying loved one.Scripture continually speaks of the inherent value of human life, whether that is of an unborn child or an elderly person. God’s hand is evident in every stage of life. Instead of ending lives, God calls us to celebrate life and trust Him during times of suffering. As Christians, we know that “suffering produces character” (James 1:2-4), and we can hold fast to God’s promise and spread the good news to nonbelievers that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Even in our most desperate times, He is sovereign. In our greatest sufferings, He is with us.Hayden Sledge is a Coalitions intern at Family Research Council.
The history of the United States is preserved in archives, books, and the collective memory of the American people. It is also preserved in monuments, memorials, and statues made from marble, granite, bronze, or plaster.Our nation’s capital is home to some of the world’s most recognizable and frequently visited monuments. This blog series will explore the events and people they commemorate, devoting particular attention to the spiritual themes depicted. By shedding light on our nation’s deep religious heritage, this series aims to inspire the next generation to emulate virtues and merits from America’s past that are worth memorializing.FRC’s blog series on monuments is written by FRC summer interns and edited by David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview. Be sure to read our previous posts on the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Joan of Arc Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence Memorial, and the Japanese American Memorial.Overlooking the Tidal Basin and facing the Jefferson Memorial is the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. The King Memorial commemorates the foremost leader of the civil rights movement and stands as a tribute to the ideals he dedicated his life to advancing.Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist preacher, orator, and activist. He led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, organized nonviolent protests throughout the American south, and served as the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Additionally, King helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, during which he delivered his well-known “I Have A Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. King championed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 in recognition of his nonviolent protests and work toward racial equality. Tragically, King was assassinated in 1968.Today, the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. are enshrined forever in a stunning granite memorial on the National Mall. Every aspect of the memorial is symbolic, including its physical address, 1964 Independence Avenue, which symbolizes the year the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act was signed into law. Visitors pass through a narrow valley hewn into the “Mountain of Despair” and out into open freedom, where the missing part of the mountain, the “Stone of Hope,” stands. In this Stone of Hope, King’s likeness is engraved. This walk (through the Mountain of Despair and out to the Stone of Hope) represents the victory of the Civil Rights Movement, born out of disappointment and grief. “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope,” from King’s August 28, 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech is engraved in the monument.A 450-foot long inscription wall that spans the width of the monument’s plaza contains 14 excerpts from King’s sermons and speeches, which serve as a reminder of the values King stood for: peace, democracy, justice, and love. Quotes include:“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” 1963“Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.” District of Columbia, 1959“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” 1963“True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” 1958The process of establishing a national memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr began in the mid-1980s, when Boston University’s oldest African American intercollegiate fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha (the fraternity King was a member in the1950s), presented the idea. In 1996, Congress passed a resolution authorizing Alpha Phi Alpha to establish a memorial to King in Washington, D.C., and in 1998, President Clinton signed the resolution. In 1999, the National Memorial Project Foundation held a design competition, which attracted 900 submissions from 52 countries. In 2006, Lei Yixin was selected to sculpt the statue of King. Yixin completed 80 percent of King’s statue at his studio in Changsha, China, before traveling to D.C. to finish the rest. The completed memorial opened to the public on October 16, 2011, following a dedication ceremony attended by President Obama.King’s legacy was to choose love over hate, a conviction he rooted in Scripture. Specifically, Christ’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) inspired King to respond to inequality with nonviolence and love. His Christian faith motivated him to make use of the suffering he endured during the struggle for civil rights. King looked forward to the day when those in office would “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with [their] God” (Micah 6:8).King firmly believed his work was God’s will, as he stated in his final speech on April 3, 1968. In this emotional speech the night before he was assassinated, King preached, “I just want to do God’s will. And He has allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I have looked over and I have seen the Promised Land.” King knew he might not see the “Promised Land” (i.e., an America free of racial tension), but he had hope that “we as a people will get to the Promised Land.” He concluded his final speech by quoting the Battle Hymn of the Republic, noting, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!”King’s legacy of peace, democracy, justice, and love should serve as a model for us today. At a time of heightened racial tensions, King would likely renounce violence and encourage Americans to remember that we are all God’s children.Samantha Stahl is a Communications intern at Family Research Council.
On Monday, the State Department, in coordination with other federal agencies, released a second review of President Donald Trump’s Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy (PLGHA), affirming its effectiveness in both protecting life and promoting global health.On January 23, 2017, President Trump reinstated and expanded the Mexico City Policy which restricts foreign funds from going to organizations that perform or promote abortions. This unprecedented expansion, which is now known under the PLGHA name, expanded the requirements from only applying to family planning funds to now covering all global health funds totaling nearly $8.8 billion in American foreign aid.The outrage from pro-abortion groups was prompt, as 130 groups sent a letter to President Trump immediately following the announcement, condemning this policy for increasing unintended pregnancies and maternal deaths. The attacks on this policy have also made regular appearances in Congress as pro-abortion members have sought to delegitimize the effort and paint it as harming United States global health goals. This February, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on women’s global health, and pro-abortion members used it as fodder to attack PLGHA. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) claimed that “This administration’s unprecedented expansions [were] implemented with no analysis of the potential impacts.” She further asserted that “mass confusion about the policy has led to a chilling effect causing organizations to unnecessarily change or eliminate vital health services.” The State Department has now issued two thorough reports showing that these allegations are far from the truth.The most recent report from the State Department analyzing the implementation of the PLGHA policy reveals that so far, only eight out of the 1,340 prime grantees of global health funds have declined to agree to the terms of the policy, two of which were the International Planned Parenthood Federation and Marie Stopes International—two of the largest global abortion groups. That means that 99 percent of all organizations directly receiving these global health funds have agreed not to promote or perform abortions. An additional 47 subgrantees also declined to accept the terms of the policy, but in most cases the prime partner organization directly receiving the U.S. global health funds was able to take on these activities or transition them to another organization. Not everything with the implementation was perfect, as 18 of the subgrantees did report delays in health care delivery of greater than three months. In these instances, USAID stepped in to help find new partner organizations or work to provide technical assistance. Also, following the completion of the first State Department report, USAID has taken substantial action to train grantees on the implementation of the policy by providing in-person trainings and electronic guidance materials. Contradicting what Congressional opponents have claimed, the report concluded: “When organizations declined the terms of PLGHA, the transitions to alternative health providers have been, for the most part, smooth.”Abortion providers, whether domestic or abroad, act as if they have a right to receive public funds, and any time those funds are taken away, there will supposedly be immediate consequences to public health. Time after time, this has been proven false, and the latest State Department report is further evidence of that. The other trend confirmed in this report is that when the government restricts funds for abortion providers, other willing funders will always step in to keep abortion groups supported. The report noted that in Burkina Faso and Niger, private donors stepped in to fund organizations that did not comply with the PLGHA policy.A similar situation happened when President Trump implemented the Protect Life Rule which prohibited Title X grantees from promoting abortion. Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers withdrew from the program, sacrificing over $50 million in federal funds only for it to be replaced by state revenues instead. These trends raise the debate over whether public programs should only seek to provide services in the most efficient way possible; or, should morals and ethics play a role in how programs are implemented and which organizations provide those programs. The thorough review of using taxpayer funds to promote women’s health through Title X domestically and international global health funds demonstrate that our government can do both.President Trump and his administration have gone above and beyond any past president to implement government-wide policies that protect unborn life. The reports being released further confirm that the U.S. can have policies that seek to both protect unborn children and promote better health outcomes for women. As Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) boldly proclaimed in response to the Congressional attacks on PLGHA: “To win the future, America should be leading to affirm the dignity and value of both patients, mothers and children.”
The history of the United States is preserved in archives, books, and the collective memory of the American people. It is also preserved in monuments, memorials, and statues made from marble, granite, bronze, or plaster.Our nation’s capital is home to some of the world’s most recognizable and frequently visited monuments. This blog series will explore the events and people they commemorate, devoting particular attention to the spiritual themes depicted. By shedding light on our nation’s deep religious heritage, this series aims to inspire the next generation to emulate virtues and merits from America’s past that are worth memorializing.FRC’s blog series on monuments is written by FRC summer interns and edited by David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview. Be sure to read our previous posts on the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Joan of Arc Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, and the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence Memorial.Many visitors to our nation’s capital are unfamiliar with the Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II, a monument recognizing the oppression that hundreds of thousands of Japanese Americans experienced during World War II.Around 120,000 Japanese Americans were placed in internment camps after Franklin D. Roosevelt signed executive order 9066 that permitted the secretary of war to remove any resident aliens from parts of the western United States identified as military areas. This executive order disproportionately affected Japanese Americans, mainly because the United States was deeply distressed after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.We now know as a nation that the United States’ treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II was anything but decent. Former President Ford acknowledged the United States’ wrongdoing in 1976. Then in 1988, President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act and said, “Here we admit a wrong. Here we affirm our commitment as a nation to equal justice under the law.” Later, in 1992, President Bush signed a law to start the building of the memorial. The Japanese American Memorial symbolizes the United States’ desire and commitment to never again commit such an act of injustice.In 1988, after the country realized it had wronged the Japanese American people, internees were granted $20,000. This reparation could never bring complete healing to all those hurt by the executive order, but it was nevertheless an intentional action the government took to show remorse in addition to simply apologizing.Many of the internees selflessly donated their reparations to the building of a memorial in 1999. On November 9, 2000, Deputy Secretary of Defense Rudy de Leon and United States Attorney General Janet Reno spoke at the dedication of the Japanese American Memorial.The memorial is comprised of a wall and a sculpture of two cranes. Davis Buckley and Nina Akamu designed the memorial. Nina Akamu, a third-generation Japanese American, dutifully sculpted the two cranes. Since Akamu’s grandfather had been in one of the internment camps, crafting the sculpture was especially personal for her. Akamu’s grandfather was of Japanese heritage and had been arrested in Hawaii. He later died of a heart attack while in the internment camp due to his diabetes.With her grandfather’s story in mind, Akamu designed the two red-crowned cranes to be entangled in barbed wire. The cranes’ ability to persevere amidst the wires represents their commitment to patriotism. They remained loyal to the United States, even though they were experiencing unnecessary hardship. The cranes symbolize the body and spirit of these Japanese Americans. The cranes are also pressed up against each other, representing Japanese Americans’ need for each other during such a difficult time. The birds’ wings are sculpted to look like a torch symbolizing freedom, as well as the 442nd freedom torch, which symbolized the 442nd regiment, a regiment comprised of Japanese Americans.The memorial “Honor Wall” honors more than 800 soldiers that died fighting for the United States. Norman Y. Mineta’s and Akemi Dawn Matsumoto Ehrlich’s poem “The Legacy” are both featured. The 10 concentration camps and the number of internees at each camp are listed on the wall.The memorial wall also honors Mike M. Masaoka, a civil rights activist and a staff sergeant of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Robert T. Matsui, an internee at Tule Lake, and Daniel K. Inouye, a U.S. congressman, U.S. senator, and captain of the 442nd Regional Combat Team, are also remembered on the wall. Finally, U.S. presidents Reagan and Truman are quoted.This memorial showcases the diligence of the Japanese Americans and honors their sacrifice, but this memorial is also a reminder of humanity’s inherent brokenness. It is a reminder that our sin never just affects us, but those around us as well. When we recognize sin, we are called to turn from our wicked ways. Acts 3:19 says, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”By God’s grace, He calls us to become more like Him by fleeing from evil, and He, in turn, blesses us. Matthew 3:8 says, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” When we turn from evil, God calls us to seek justice and glorify Him with our lives. Isaiah 1:17 says, “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” By God’s grace, we can learn from our mistakes and chart a course that is more honoring to Him.With Scripture in mind and an understanding of the memorial’s history, we can live with a commitment to seek healing and restoration. The Japanese American Memorial serves both as a reminder of our country’s past sins against the Japanese American people and a symbol of progress, revealing just how far the United States has come as a nation.Hayden Sledge is a Coalitions intern at Family Research Council.
We hold this truth to be self-evident, that all women are endowed by their Creator with the same certain unalienable rights as men, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.One hundred years ago today, on August 18, 1920, the United States of America effectively affirmed this truth by ratifying the 19th Amendment (also known as the “Susan B. Anthony Amendment”) to the Constitution, thus securing American women’s right to vote:The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.It is right and good for our government’s laws to acknowledge the unalienable rights and human dignity of women. Not only do these rights emanate from the Creator, but they also exist because women—like their male counterparts—are God’s image-bearers. As I wrote in a previous blog analyzing the preamble of the Declaration of Independence:[O]ur worth and dignity as human beings is directly contingent upon the identity of our sovereign, omnipotent Creator. Those who bear the Creator’s image (all humans) are due a certain type of treatment from their fellow image-bearers […] Such due treatment can be said to be “unalienable” in the sense that our status as God’s image-bearers cannot be taken away.Governments are instituted for the purpose of securing humans’ unalienable rights, our Declaration explains. These governments, if just, derive their powers from the consent of the governed. In America, suffrage (the right to vote) is a key ingredient in giving one’s consent to be governed. By securing the right to vote, American women finally joined men in being able to give their consent to the government tasked with securing their unalienable rights.The State Department’s recently launched Commission of Unalienable Rights cited the 1848 Seneca Falls convention, notable for propelling the women’s suffrage movement, in its inaugural report. It was at this convention that suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton appealed to the unalienable rights found in the Declaration of Independence: “[S]trange as it may seem to many, we now demand our right to vote according to the declaration of the government under which we live . . . The right is ours. Have it, we must. Use it, we will.”But while American women have secured the right to vote, they have yet to wholly secure a much more fundamental right, the first right enumerated in the Declaration of Independence: life.Today, a significant portion of our nation’s political discourse revolves around women’s rights. Not if women deserve rights, mind you, but what is to be included among those rights. Some believe “reproductive rights”—the ability for women to obtain contraception and abortions—ought to be included in the list.However, early feminists, including members of the American women’s suffrage movement, saw abortion in a very different light than the self-proclaimed pro-choice feminists of today. They viewed abortion as being an unjust outcome of men’s exploitation of women. In her book A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), Mary Wollstonecraft condemned such acts: “Nature in everything deserves respect, and those who violate her laws seldom violate them with impunity.”Serrin M. Foster, president of Feminists for Life of America, observes about the American suffragists:Without known exception, the early feminists condemned abortion in no uncertain terms. In the radical feminist newspaper The Revolution, the founder, Susan B. Anthony, and the co-editor, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, refused to publish advertisements for “Foeticides and Infanticides.” Stanton, who in 1848 organized the first women’s convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y., classified abortion as a form of “infanticide” and, referring to the “murder of children, either before or after birth,” said, “We believe the cause of all these abuses lies in the degradation of women.”Abortion’s degradation of women hasn’t been left in the distant past, either. Today, American women are expected to be sexually available to the men they date, and then expected or even pressured to abort an unexpected or unwanted pregnancy. Men often face little to no consequences for their sexual behavior, whether consensual or nonconsensual, and abortion—by eliminating the children produced by their actions—makes holding men accountable even less likely. Worse yet, in other countries, abortion and sterilization have—and presently are—being used as tools of genocide.Contrary to a commonly-held belief in our culture, supporting women’s rights and opposing abortion are not at odds. A culture in which women’s bodies can be used for sexual pleasure by men and then discarded, together with any resulting human life, is not a culture that upholds women’s unalienable rights or recognizes their human dignity.It isn’t just adult women who have been harmed by the prevalence of abortion. Millions of girls were never allowed the chance to grow up, consent, vote, dream, or earn any kind of wage because they were aborted before they were born. Some are aborted due to sex discrimination: untold numbers of girls worldwide have been aborted due to their sex. The first right enumerated in our nation’s Declaration of Independence is life, yet it is still denied to so many.It is right and good for governments to acknowledge the unalienable rights and human dignity of women. The United States did this one hundred years ago, with the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. But there is much more that we can do for women’s rights, including defending them both in and outside the womb.

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