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Dear Friends,Why be Christian? Out of all the religions and philosophies in the world that vie for the God-sized hole in every human heart, why choose Christianity?For believers, there are a limitless amount of ways to answer this fundamental question, and we should “always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you,” as 1 Peter 3:15 entreats us. But where does one start in this defense? If one were to synthesize the most basic argument for Christ, what would it be?In pondering this question, I was particularly struck by a point that Regis Martin recently made in Crisis. He describes a Christian as “someone who carries within him the adamantine conviction that Another accompanies him every step of the way.” In other words, Christianity is tangibly human and personal because “in showing us the face of Christ, we are thus given a saving glimpse of Someone to whom we may entrust everything, including especially our brokenness and sin.”Martin goes on to quote Joseph Ratzinger (who later became Pope Benedict XVI), who wrote that “the most fundamental feature of faith … [is] its personal character”:Christian faith is more than the option in favor of a spiritual ground to the world; its central formula is not ‘I believe in something,’ but ‘I believe in Thee.’ It is the encounter with the human being Jesus, and in this encounter it experiences the meaning of the world as a person.“…[T]he meaning of the world as a person.” It seems to me that this precisely encapsulates “the hope that is in us.” It captures a lightness of feeling that is almost impossible to put into words; it’s that serene trust that comes with the knowledge that no matter what sufferings we undergo in life, Christ suffered just the same, even to the point of dying for our sins. Because of this, we are and will always remain a child of God that was loved into being and will be loved for all eternity.God, who is one with Christ (John 10:30), is our Heavenly Father and we are his children. For many believers, therefore, the Christian faith beautifully intertwines with our natural experience of growing up under the protection of a loving earthly father. This is why the family must be strengthened, nurtured, and upheld in our society—it is the earthly reflection of God’s heavenly love for us.Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council FRC ArticlesThe 'bigly,' and necessary, humility of Judge Neil Gorsuch – Travis WeberThink Slavery Has Been Eradicated in the 21st Century? You’d Be Wrong. – Travis WeberHopeful Signs of Resurrection in America – Dan HartThe Plight of Jews in Pakistan – Chris GacekGorsuch on International and Foreign Law – Travis WeberChristianity in Iraq Appears Doomed to Extinction – Chris Gacek Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareGOP Calls on Trump to Honor Promise to Defend Religious Liberty – ToddStarnes.comTexas Governor Abbott: Restore Religious Leaders' Right To Endorse Political Campaigns – Hank Berrien, The Daily WireAtheist Group Says It's Unconstitutional for College Football Coach to Tweet About God – Samuel Smith, The Christian PostSupreme Court readies for religious liberty showdown – Evan Wilt, WORLDInternational Religious FreedomExtermination of Christians in Egypt Not Getting Enough Attention – Susan Jones, CNS NewsChina Installing Spy Cameras in Churches – Kim Smith, Conservative TribuneJehovah’s Witnesses banned as “extremists” by Russia – John Burger, AleteiaUSCIRF to Launch Extensive List of People Imprisoned for Their Faith Worldwide – Samuel Smith, The Christian PostReligious Liberty Increasingly Under Threat in India Amid Surge of Hindu Nationalism – James Di Pane and Olivia Enos, The Daily Signal‘Fight for me’ – Mindy Belz, WORLDMilitary Religious Freedom‘I am not ashamed of my faith:’ Air Force officer punished for Christian view of marriage speaks out – Fr. Mark Hodges, LifeSiteNews LifeAbortionAbortion and Bodily Autonomy – James Gottry, MediumWhy Can Rivers Be Granted Legal Personhood But Not Human Babies? – Zachary D. Schmoll, The Federalist10 babies born alive after abortions in 2015 – in only 3 states – Carole Novielli, Live Action News40 Days for Life Ends With 437 Babies Saved From Abortion, 1 Abortion Clinic Closed and One Staffer Quit – Shawn Carney, LifeNewsArkansas Bans Sex-Selective Abortions – Brian Fraga, National Catholic RegisterPro-lifers Celebrate Huge Win at UN Commission – Stefano Gennarini, C-FamAdoptionSociety Can Never Make Up For The Husband Single Moms Don’t Have – Rebekah Curtis, The FederalistBishops back bill to let agencies opt out of adoption for same-sex couples – Catholic News ServiceBioethicsCanada harvesting the organs of euthanasia patients – Samantha Gobba, Baptist PressCharlie Gard case: Doctors can withdraw baby's life support – BBCOntario sets up ‘death hotline’ to force doctors to comply with having patients killed – Lianne Laurence, LifeSiteNewsRent-a-womb – Mary Jackson, WORLD FamilyEconomics/EducationReligion and Inequality – Eric Metaxas & Roberto Rivera, BreakPointSurveying Sex, Denying Childhood – Carl R. Trueman, First ThingsThe Cancer Eating Away at College Campuses – Walter E. Williams, The Daily SignalMarriageA Gender-Neutral Marriage Is Not the Only Path to Equality – Ashley McGuire, Family StudiesFamily Trees and the Troubling Problem of Absent Fathers – Roland C. Warren, Care NetWhy Would Millennial Men Prefer Stay-at-home Wives? Ethnicity and Choice Feminism – W. Bradford Wilcox, Family StudiesHow a Man Loves a Woman – Ben Stuart, Desiring GodA Child of Divorce Speaks Out on the Importance of a Family – Jim Graves, National Catholic RegisterFaith/Character/Culture“Too many Christians have decided that the world is bad …” – Tom Hoopes, AleteiaLove People Enough to Tell the Truth – Ryan Bomberger, The Christian Post“The Case For Christ” and A Stubbornly Historical Religion – Bp. Robert Barron, Word On FireHuman SexualitySounding the alarm – Sophia Lee, WORLDNew Research on Unmarried Mothers and Family Formation – Naomi Cahn, Family StudiesSurveying Sex, Denying Childhood – Carl R. Trueman, First ThingsBoys Will Keep Winning Girls’ Sports Trophies Until We Are Willing To Re-Assert Sex Distinctions – Joy Pullmann, The FederalistProtecting Women from Sexual Assault Requires Acknowledging the Differences between Men and Women – Ashley McGuire, VerilyHuman TraffickingEyes of the highways: Raising a 'trucker army' for trafficking fight – Eoghan Macguire, CNNPornographyWhat If My Husband Looks at Porn? – Kara Garis, Desiring God12 Ways Pornography Just Doesn’t Show Enough – Dustin Murphy, The Federalist
On April 7, 2017, Arina Grossu, FRC's Director of the Center for Human Dignity, appeared on EWTN News to discuss the UK's decision to approve a technique that would allow scientists to create "three-parent" babies.
Living in the Western world, in our modern era, one might think that chattel slavery (the buying and selling of human beings as property) is a thing of the past. They would be mistaken.Just yesterday, it was reported that widespread human smuggling operations are still ongoing inside Libya, with migrants arriving from West Africa being openly traded in “public slave markets” where they are bought and sold:One survivor from Senegal spoke of how he was brought by smugglers across Niger in a bus to the southern Libyan city of Sabha, where he was due to risk a boat trip to Europe. When the middleman did not get his fee, the survivor was put up for sale along with other passengers.He was taken to a prison where he worked without pay while the captors demanded 300,000 West African francs (about £380) before selling him on to a larger jail. Livia Manante, an IOM officer based in Niger, said migrants would be brought to a square where they were put up for sale. . . . Those who did not get their ransom paid were often taken away and killed while others would die of hunger and disease in unsanitary conditions.“If the number of migrants goes down, because of death or someone is ransomed, the kidnappers just go to the market and buy one,” Manente said.The going rate for a migrant was between $200 (£160) and $500 (£400) each, with many forced into captivity for months before they are freed or sold on. So far this year more than 170 bodies have washed up on the shores of the Mediterranean while the Libyan Coast Guard has also rescued thousands more.This is horrific.Unfortunately, it is also the inevitable consequence of abandoning the idea that all human beings have been created in the image of God, and that they have inherent dignity for this reason.What else does this show us? That worldview matters; that one’s view of God and of fellow human beings matters. What we believe about the dignity of the human race matters. If we believe that God created us in his own image, we will understand that we are accountable to God for how we treat fellow human beings.Indeed, the whole idea of human rights flows from this notion. Because we have dignity as image-bearers of God, no government may transgress this dignity. From this truth flow certain rights which no government may override—these are called human rights. Among these are the freedom to exercise the religion of one's choice—and the freedom to not be bought and sold as property!If we ever forget this truth—may God help us!
This Sunday, Christians all over the world will celebrate the Resurrection of Christ from the dead. Easter is the church’s greatest feast day because it encompasses Christ’s fulfilment of his mission on earth: by dying on a Roman cross on Friday, April 3rd, A.D. 33 and rising from the dead on the following Sunday, he conquered human sin and death. The astonishing enormity of this event in history cannot be overstated enough. In one fell swoop, Christ offered the fullness of redemption to every person for all of eternity—namely, release from the chains of our fallen human nature and the prospect of a meaningless death. In and through Jesus, we can become cleansed of our sin and hope in the eternal life that is to come in heaven after our earthly lives are over.To contemplate these truths for even a moment does wonders in lifting one’s spirit, which can be easily bogged down when considering the tremendous challenges that our country faces with regards to protecting all human life, cultivating natural marriage, and defending religious liberty. And so, in the spirit of Our Lord’s Resurrection, let’s reflect on some very hopeful recent signs of rebirth in America.LifeIn January, it was reported that the U.S. abortion rate is currently at its lowest level since Roe v. Wade was foisted on the country in 1973. There are a number of different factors that have contributed to this welcome decline, but the tireless work of the pro-life movement in state legislatures has undoubtedly been crucial—334 pro-life laws have been passed in the last five years.Also in January, President Trump signed an executive order that reinstated the “Mexico City Policy,” which halts federal funds from going to foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that commit abortions or “actively promote” abortion. This is wonderful news, as it stops a staggering $600 million from funding the destruction of unborn human life annually.This past week, Judge Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to serve on the Supreme Court, filling Justice Antonin Scalia’s vacant seat. As we have pointed out in recent weeks, Judge Gorsuch will be a true Constitutionalist Justice who believes that life is “intrinsically valuable and that intentional killing is always wrong.” While he has not directly ruled on abortion, he has stated in the past that “the right to terminate a pregnancy… involves the death of a person.”MarriageThe current divorce rate is at a 40-year low, while the marriage rate has risen to its highest level since 2009. While the overall rates of divorce and marriage are still depressingly high and low (respectively), recent trends are encouraging for the immediate future.Another hopeful trend that bodes well for America’s future is, surprisingly, the marriage preferences of millennials. New research has shown that millennials aren’t as obsessed with the progressive talking point of “gender equality” as one would think. As Ashley McGuire points out in Family Studies, “Many of us also feel more comfortable embracing what Pew continues to find, decade after decade: namely, that women consistently say that part-time work is our ‘ideal work situation.’ Millennial women seem to be asserting our autonomy against a culture that turned opportunity for women into a shackle.” McGuire further notes:The reality is that many married millennial couples with children will readily admit that two full-time working parents is not ideal for a litany of reasons, including marital happiness, individual stress, financial strain, and familial sanity. That’s not to say that lots of couples don’t make it work, but just a gander over to my city’s most-read parenting blog, and you will find plenty who will call the arrangement of two full-time parents “hell.” Many millennial women, like me, take pride in making choices that feel best for their family at that particular time.That a rising generation of young people feels more comfortable expressing a preference for a male breadwinner is not a setback to equality in a marriage. Rather, it suggests that both millennial men and women are increasingly respectful of what it is that women want most when they have small children. I would call that a step forward for authentic marital equality. It’s only a setback to equality if we measure women in a marriage against their husbands, and not against women’s own benchmarks for happiness. And it’s only a setback for equality if we refuse to allow women to be the ones to set those benchmarks because of antiquated feminist notions about gender neutrality or because it somehow hurts the GDP’s bottom line.This simply underscores what has historically been common practice: that most families do best when the mother is a stable, nurturing presence in the home for her children, while the father engages in the majority of paid work to support the family financially. As the studies cited previously have shown, this arrangement is what most men and women naturally prefer anyway.Religious LibertyThe confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is a tremendous uplift not only for the protection of life, but for the defense of religious liberty. He will now be seated on the High Court in time to hear the case of Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley, which will decide whether state governments can discriminate against churches and religious organizations in favor of nonreligious organizations in the context of receiving public money.Another sign of hope is the fact that the Trump administration is currently considering signing an executive order that would strengthen religious liberty protections for Americans of faith. A letter signed by 52 House Republicans underscores the urgency of the situation: “We look forward to coordinating with your administration on these efforts so that critical religious liberty and conscience protections may finally be restored to millions of Americans who have been harmed and left unprotected for far too many years.” The proposed executive order would ensure that government persecution of Christians for their beliefs about abortion, same-sex marriage, public prayer, and other concerns would cease, and that their First Amendment rights would be restored.All of this should be a great source of encouragement for believers. But even if all of these hopeful signs fail to come to fruition, our hope in Christ cannot fail. Christ suffered, died, and rose again for all of humanity. Therefore, Christ is the Lord of history, who “is intent on remaking and saving his world, binding up its wounds and setting it right.” This wonderful reality will forever resurrect our fallen human hearts.
There are occasions when a simple act provides tremendous clarity about a much larger situation. Such an event took place last week in Pakistan, a country of approximately 200 million that has had a history of religious freedom violations.According to our State Department, “[t]he [Pakistani] constitution establishes Islam as the state religion, and requires all provisions of the law to be consistent with Islam.” In fact, the constitution establishes a “Federal Shariat Court” whose Muslim judges “examine and decide whether any law or provision is ‘repugnant to the injunctions of Islam.’” Additionally, Pakistan has draconian “blasphemy” laws that are used to persecute Christians and other religious minorities on fabricated charges. Such laws obviously make free discussion of religious thought about Islam virtually impossible.Ninety-five percent of Pakistan is Muslim (70 percent Sunni, 25 percent Shia). The remaining five percent is made up of Hindus, Christians, Parsis / Zoroastrians, Bahais, Ahmadi Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Kalasha, Kihals, and Jains. Apparently, there are too few Jews to note statistically. Citizens of Pakistan must register their religious affiliation with the government.According to a recent report in the Jerusalem Post, a 29-year-old Pakistani man named Fischel Benkald was informed last week that as he had requested, “the religious status in his National Database and Registration Authority profile [would] be changed from Muslim to Jew…” Mr. Benkald is the first Pakistani citizen to be permitted to change his religious status from Muslim to Jew since the 1980s.Benkald’s birth name was Faisal, and he was raised in Karachi by a Jewish mother and a Muslim father. He was also allowed to assume a Yiddish first name, “Fischel.” The change in religious affiliation was requested three years ago, and might very well have been denied without intervention from forces outside Pakistan. Wilson Chowdry, the chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, plead Benkald’s case with the Pakistani High Commission in London (i.e., the Pakistani embassy to the United Kingdom in London).The national identity card is critical to all aspects of life for Pakistanis seeking to interact with their government. According to the Post, it “contains one’s name, date of birth, photo, a thumbprint and religion.”The lack of religious freedom for anyone but Muslims is extreme in Pakistan. Christians are persecuted, but Jews historically received even worse treatment. Anti-Semitism caused Jews to flee the nation after the Israeli War for Independence and that nation’s founding in 1948. It is believed that there were over a thousand Jews in Karachi seventy years ago. Now there are virtually none. Mr. Chowdry told the Post that “hundreds of Jews are now living secretly in Pakistan.”Apparently, Mr. Benkald did not assert in his application that an outright religious conversion from Islam had taken place. In effect, he claimed that he was in a distinct, exceptional category: “Benkald argue[d] that he never left Islam because he was born to a Jewish mother and therefore ha[d] always been Jewish.” This is true as Jews would define the matter. For whatever reason, the authorities approved his application, but his troubles are far from over.The Post noted a Fox News story that said “a 2010 Pew survey found that 76 percent of Pakistanis advocate the death penalty for leaving Islam.” Hopefully, he will be left in peace or somehow be able to seek refuge in Israel. That said, a country in which religious conversion holds a significant probability of death or injury is not a country that allows any appreciable religious liberty regardless of any constitutional rhetoric to the contrary.In any case, one has to greatly admire Mr. Benkald’s amazing bravery while praying for his safety. Western nations who cherish religious freedom, as well as Israel, should keep an eye out for him and his family.
It hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, but Judge Gorsuch’s exchange with Senator Ben Sasse about international and foreign law at his confirmation hearing offers helpful clues that he’d rule properly in this area:SASSE: As a sitting Supreme Court justice tasked with upholding the U.S. Constitution, is it ever appropriate to cite international law? And if so, why? GORSUCH: It’s not categorically improper. There are some circumstances when it is not just proper but necessary. You’re interpreting a contract with a choice of law provision that may adopt foreign law. That’s an appropriate time . . .Treaties sometimes require you to look at international law by their terms. But if we are talking about interpreting the Constitution of the United States, we have our own tradition and own history. And I don’t know why we would look to the experience of other countries rather than to our own . . .And so as a general matter, Senator, I would say it is improper to look abroad when interpreting the Constitution . . .Judge Gorsuch is absolutely right. In his answer to Senator Sasse, he has articulated a vision of the Constitution which guards against the surreptitious importation of standards from other countries which have no bearing on our Constitution (but which the Supreme Court has done from time to time).Meanwhile, he properly admits that a foreign legal standard in a “choice of law” provision may be consulted (in these cases, the parties to the agreement have stipulated that the laws of another country shall be used to adjudicate disputes between them, and it is entirely proper to consult whatever source of foreign law has been stipulated).He also made proper reference to treaties as a valid source of international law.International law (laws between nations) is distinct from foreign law (the laws of a foreign nation), as properly understood, only consists of two areas.The first is the treaty, or agreement between nations. When nations become parties to a treaty, they agree to be bound explicitly by the treaty’s terms. Yet legal activists, as they so often do in the United States with regard to the Constitution, recognize that their preferred radical policies aren’t contained within the treaty, so they twist its terms or use other mechanisms in the international legal order to push their policies, which they try to term as “law.” Yet the fact that they call them law doesn’t make them so. Just as we must guard against activist attempts to read new “rights” into statutes and the Constitution domestically, we must guard against efforts to read them into the text of treaties internationally.The second area of international law is customary international law, which is defined as a longstanding practice engaged in by a very large number of states who engage in it because they believe they are legally bound to do so. This is a high standard and not much reaches it. But that doesn’t stop activists from trying to claim their radical policies are “customary international law.” Again, just because they say so over and over again doesn’t make it true.Judge Gorsuch will not be hoodwinked by such shenanigans. He has articulated a limited (and proper) view of international and foreign law which shows he understands the dynamics in this area. Once again, he has shown that he will be a great originalist and is eminently qualified to be confirmed to the Supreme Court.
The condition of Christianity in the Middle East may now be as imperiled as it has been at almost any time in the last 2,000 years. This is particularly true in Iraq, according to Canon Andrew White, who led St. George’s Church in Baghdad. St. George’s was the only Anglican Church in Iraq before its closure was ordered by the Archbishop of Canterbury in November 2014.Canon White believes, with considerable justification from public statements made by ISIS and its innumerable acts of rape, torture, and murder, that the terrorist group intends to drive the “infidel” Christians out of the region. Before he fled Iraq over two years ago, White was part of a community of Christians that had decreased from 1.4 million (some thirty years ago), to 1 million when Saddam Hussein was toppled by allied forces in 2003, to a quarter of a million today.The plight of Jews in Iraq is a sobering foreshadowing of what may happen soon to Christians. The Jewish population has declined cataclysmically since World War II—to essentially nothing. This marks the demise of a people that traced its lineage in Iraq back to the Babylonian Captivity described in the Old Testament after the fall of Jerusalem. A substantial Jewish community lived in that land with great success for two millennia. In 1947, there appear to have been 156,000 Jews in Iraq. Today, there are virtually no Jews in the country—fewer than ten live in Baghdad at present. Thus, complete population extinctions that are not caused by disease can take place.White described the situation for Christians as follows: “The time has come where it is over, no Christians will be left. Some say Christians should stay to maintain the historical presence, but it has become very difficult. The future for the community is very limited.”The stories of persecution and killing (in some cases by crucifixion) of Christians to compel their conversion to Islam are commonplace. The level of barbarism can hardly be described with any word other than “demonic.”Clearly, past tolerance for non-Islamic communities and the older social order has been shattered. Consequently, even if ISIS is destroyed, the Shiite-Iranian dominated groups that will control Iraq in their place do not seem especially friendly to Christians. Ignatius Joseph III Younan, Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church of Antioch, points to a deep intellectual flaw in the nature of Islamic thought as the problem: “totalitarianism based on Islamic creed is the worst among all systems of government.” He goes on to observe that “the very survival of Christians in the cradle of Christianity is quite in danger.”The United States government is not without some influence in the area. Although nobody seems to know it, the U.S. has over 10,000 service members fighting in Syria and Iraq. However, our foreign policy establishment has made little effort to require protections for religious minorities. The Trump administration must go in a new direction. For example, President al-Sisi of Egypt met President Trump yesterday while Coptic Christians are undergoing severe persecution in Egypt. The United States has sufficient leverage with Egypt regarding military and financial aid to ensure that this persecution is greatly reduced, if not eliminated. Syria and Iraq are more complicated given the anarchy that exists there now, but our government needs to make this a priority. There are excellent non-governmental organizations working in Irbil, now part of an inchoate Kurdish homeland, who will gladly work with us to save the ancient populations of Yazidis and Christians. However, for this to happen, we have to give these concerns priority in our foreign policy reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s blending of human rights considerations with traditional diplomatic and military policies. It was a world-changing combination that, if incorporated today, could make Mr. Trump a successful foreign policy president.
Dear Friends,Should Christians retreat from an increasingly hostile culture into supportive enclaves in order to be “a people set apart,” or should believers instead fearlessly engage the culture with the truth in order to bring Christ’s light to the world? This debate has been raging in the blogosphere for quite some time, but recently it has reached a fever pitch following the release of Rod Dreher’s highly anticipated book The Benedict Option, in which the author argues that the church should “embrace exile from mainstream culture and construct a resilient counterculture.”Among the many passionate and articulate articles that have analyzed this question lately, I found Eric Metaxas’ recent piece to be particularly thought provoking. In it, he points to a new book by Makoto Fujimura called Culture Care to make the observation that Christians should most definitely engage the culture in order to transform it, but should do so not by focusing solely on fighting the culture wars: “I believe even more important for Christians than being on the front lines of the culture war is participating in the culture—and better yet, helping to create and nurture it. If the main contribution that Christians make to culture is complaining about it, we’re doing something wrong.”Interestingly, Rod Dreher himself would likely agree. In an interview a few weeks ago, he said: “Even if Trump does everything we religious conservatives want him to do, it’s not going to turn the culture around—it’s the culture that we as believers have got to pay closer attention to; it’s not about politics, it’s about culture.”I would argue that believers should employ a “both/and” approach rather than an “either/or” one. In other words, our engagement should not be framed in terms of either fighting political battles or focusing on the arts. When the time comes to stand for truth by supporting a political cause, there should be no backing down. But just as important is the effort to support good art that can in turn influence culture in a positive way.Metaxas cites Fujimura’s analogy of a garden to illustrate this point: “His image of a garden is just one of many he draws from nature, to show how we can carefully and patiently help to cultivate that cultural environment and make good things grow in it. So, how do we do this? Fujimura suggests that both Christians and the arts community start by learning to look at each other as potential allies, even friends, instead of as sworn enemies. He asks us to consider investing in cultural works, as we’re able to afford it.”Metaxas continues: “This isn’t always easy work, but it’s extremely valuable and worthwhile. It requires thoughtful engagement instead of blanket condemnation, and it may call for us to broaden our understanding and deal with ideas that seem unfamiliar and uncomfortable. But from such efforts come moments that he calls ‘generative,’ or ‘life-giving.’ Christians who enjoy and support art and culture, who make it a priority in their lives, and who reach out to those in the arts instead of reflexively pushing them away, can help bring the culture toward a renewed appreciation of goodness, truth, and beauty. And that is good for everyone.”Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council FRC ArticlesReligious Liberty: An Introduction to Our Freedom to Believe – Travis WeberDuring His Hearings, Neil Gorsuch Answered Tough Questions With Ease – Mandi AncalleGorsuch’s Pro-Life Promise – Arina GrossuDon't let 'TrumpCare' come at the cost of Trump's pro-life pledge – Jeanne Mancini and Tony PerkinsShould Stay-At-Home Moms Be Forced To Work? – Peter WitkowskiBoys Need Fathers – Dan HartOne Year Anniversary of the United States Declaring ISIS’ Actions to be Genocide – Travis WeberThe Amish: America’s Fastest Growing Church? – Peter Witkowski Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareJustice Alito says country increasingly 'hostile' to 'traditional moral beliefs' – David Porter, Chicago TribuneEnd Bible classes? West Virginia school seeks to dismiss atheist lawsuit – Fox NewsSchool Orders Boy to “Tolerate” Undressing with Girl and Make it “Natural” – ToddStarnes.comIn Oregon, the left targets an evangelical GOP judge – Ralph Z. Hallow, The Washington TimesA Justice Gorsuch will defend religious liberty – Amy Vitale, The HillInternational Religious FreedomTo Win Back What We’ve Lost: How Defenders of Religious Freedom Are Fighting to Reclaim International Law – Benjamin Bull, Public DiscourseCanada passes motion to silence critics of Islam – Pete Baklinski, LifeSiteNewsGlobalist Illusions and the Folly of Global Governance – Samuel Gregg, Public DiscourseMilitary Religious FreedomChaplains to Army: Cease training that assaults biblical beliefs – Chaplain Alliance For Religious LibertyFirst Liberty Institute Seeks Justice for Air Force Colonel Targeted for His Faith – Penny Starr, Breitbart LifeAbortion40 Days for Life Prayer Campaigns Have Collectively Saved 13,000 Babies From Abortion – Shawn Carney and David Brando, Life NewsCalifornia’s Moral Atrocity – Ian Tuttle, National ReviewCLOSED: Maryland Planned Parenthood abortion clinic shuts down – Nancy Flanders, Live Action NewsPaul Ryan: Planned Parenthood to be defunded through reconciliation – Bradford Richardson, The Washington TimesAdoptionFirst Comes Love, Then Comes Adoption – Aaron Menikoff, The Gospel CoalitionExpert talks about the rewards and challenges of international adoption – Jon Kelvey, Carroll County TimesBioethicsCanada Conjoins Euthanasia and Organ Harvesting – Wesley J. Smith, National ReviewOregon Proposes Outright Legalization of Euthanasia – Cullen Herout, CrisisHandful of Senate Dems help Republicans defeat aid-in-dying bill – Steve Terrell, The New MexicanThe Demise of Language and the Rise of Cloning – Michael Wee, Public DiscourseScience For Three-Parent Babies Is Here, But Is It Ethical? – Nora Sullivan, The Daily Caller FamilyEconomics/EducationFamily Collapse And Poor Economic Prospects Led To High White Mortality Rate, Study Authors Say – Alex Pfeiffer, The Daily CallerLean In’s Biggest Hurdle: What Most Moms Want – Steven E. Rhoads, Family StudiesMarriageWhy the Little Moments in Marriage Matter – Anna Sutherland, Family StudiesStudy: Children Born to Married Parents More Likely to Experience Family Stability – Michael Gryboski, The Christian PostYesterday’s Love Stories: The Gray Divorce Phenomenon – Rhonda Kruse Nordin, Family StudiesShould stay-at-home moms be outlawed? – Calah Alexander, AleteiaFaith/Character/CultureGod Will Triumph: A Response to Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option – Rob Schwarzwalder, The StreamHow John Piper’s Seashells Swept Over a Generation – Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, The Gospel CoalitionAre We Living In The Matrix? – Joe Heschmeyer, Word On FireThe Beauty of Women Will Save the World – Carrie Gress, National Catholic RegisterChristians: Stop Fighting the Culture and Start Caring for It – Eric Metaxas, The Christian PostHuman SexualityFertility Awareness-Based Family Planning: Good for Both Body and Soul – Ana Maria Dumitru, Public DiscourseWhat Is Really Best for Me? Applying the Bible to the Same-Sex-Attracted – Nick Roen, Desiring GodSupreme Incoherence: Transgender Ideology and the End Of Law – Jeff Shafer, First ThingsMay I Please Speak to My Daddy? – Doug Mainwaring, Public DiscourseMike Pence’s Wise Family Practices Expose a Deep Divide Over Human Nature – David French, National ReviewBlurred Lines: Understanding The Effort To Redefine Gender And Sexuality – B. Christopher Agee, Western JournalismHuman TraffickingTrafficking Survivors Tell UN: Strengthen Families To Protect Women and Girls – Marianna Orlandi, C-FamPornographyResources to Protect Your Children from Pornography – Nebraska Family AllianceReport: Pornography Use Tied to Relationship Dissatisfaction – Thomas D. Williams, Breitbart4 Problems With Watching Porn You May Not Have Known About – Fight The New DrugPorn is dangerous … That’s why Arkansas lawmakers are calling it a ‘public health crisis’ – Peter LaBarbera, LifeSiteNews
Recently, feminist author Sarrah Le Marquand made headlines when she reinvigorated a debate over motherhood. She went beyond the traditional fight for paid maternity leave, demanding that her Australian government outlaw stay-at-home mothers of school-aged children.She writes, “Rather than wail about the supposed liberation in a woman’s right to choose to shun employment, we should make it a legal requirement that all parents of children school-age or older are gainfully employed.” She goes on to say “only when we evenly divide responsibility for workplace participation between the two genders will we see a more equitable division between men and women in all parts of Australian life.”In an attempt to control how men and women function in society, Le Marquand wants to establish new regulations that will ensure equality. She has good reasons to be concerned. According to Pew Research Center, more women than men want to stay home with their children. And more men than women feel compelled to work to provide for their families. Only 31 percent of women who live comfortably view working full time as their ideal. And only 23 percent of married women view working full time as ideal. When given a choice, most women prefer to stay home.This reality creates a problem for Le Marquand and other feminists like Simone de Beauvoir, who once said: “No woman should be authorized to stay home to raise her children. Women should not have that choice, because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.” Both have concluded that women lack the intelligence to choose wisely. Thus, that choice must be removed.Le Marquand argues that requiring mothers to work makes economic sense, but such thinking is woefully shortsighted. Economic value cannot be measured via the size of one’s paycheck. For example, a student who is in medical school makes very little money. Even so, the person’s earning potential will grow exponentially once he or she is out of school. Lack of gainful employment does not necessarily imply that a person is not contributing to a nation’s economic well-being.Quite frankly, raising the next generation by ensuring that children are equipped to contribute to society and to the workforce allows the mother to do more for her nation’s well-being than her spouse does. By running her home well, she empowers both her kids and her spouse to engage society in a more meaningful manner and to work more effectively. To miss this fact is to doom your economy. The demographic disasters that are currently brewing in Japan, China, and all across Europe illustrate this point well. Maximizing a workforce solely for today at the expense of investing in future generations always has disastrous consequences.Moreover, the equality of function that Le Marquand demands does not exist. Yes, both men and women are fully equal (Gen 1:27). Both are created in the image of God. But equality of value does not equal equality of function. Men and women function differently because they were designed differently. Women are naturally more nurturing than men; this is reflected in the fact that women’s bodies nurture their unborn children for nine months and feed their newborns for many months after birth. In addition, differences in the brain structure of men and women have shown that women have “more wiring in regions linked to memory and social cognition.” This is part of the reason why many women tend to be better at understanding the feelings of their children, and are thus more equipped to nurture them. Even those who wish to argue against the presence of these differences cannot ultimately escape them. As psychologist Emma M. Seppala concluded, “While women’s expression involved nurturing and bonding, men’s compassion was expressed through protecting and ensuring survival.” Women tend to be better equipped biologically and sociologically than men to care for their children.As Pew Research Center discovered, most mothers will prefer being a stay-at-home mom over being a bread winner. This ability to care for the next generation does not preclude mothers from contributing directly to their nation’s economy if they so choose. But when women make the choice to focus primarily on raising the next generation, they are expressing their special and unique feminine capacity for nurturing their children. This is not a bad thing that must be legislated against. It is a natural function of femininity that should be embraced—not just for the benefit of children, but for all of society.Peter Witkowski is the Associate Pastor of Preschool and Children at First Baptist Church in Eastman, Ga.
While watching a documentary about the rise and fall of the rock band Oasis recently, I was struck by a comment that the group’s songwriter and guitarist Noel Gallagher made while discussing his relationship with his estranged father, who left the family when he was a child: “I’m long since over whatever was going on with my old fella. All I care about is the music. In the end, none of this will matter. When it’s all said and done, what will remain is the songs.”I can certainly understand why he would feel this way about a father who was almost totally absent from his childhood. But what struck me was how he dismissed this gaping hole in his life as not even mattering, in the end. We as human beings know intuitively that having a stable childhood with a loving mother and father matters a great deal, often in ways that we don’t comprehend at the time but later realize in hindsight. But as adults, this can often be too painful to admit.A recent two-part interview (1 & 2) with Dr. Warren Farrell conducted by Family Studies sheds further light on a growing body of evidence that illustrates the devastating effects that fatherlessness causes on kids, particularly boys:Dads tend to build bonds with their sons by, for example, playing games and rough-housing, and then use the resulting bond as leverage for their sons to “get to bed on time” lest there be “no playing tomorrow night.” This boundary enforcement teaches boys postponed gratification. Boys with minimal or no father involvement more frequently suffer from an addiction to immediate gratification. For example, with minimal or no father involvement there is a much greater likelihood of video game addiction, more ADHD, worse grades in every subject, less empathy, less assertiveness (but more aggression), fewer social skills, more alienation and loneliness, more obesity, rudderlessness, anger, drugs, drinking, delinquency, disobedience, depression and suicide.…A boy looks at his dad and sees the man he could become. If his dad is minimally present, that doesn’t give him much hope that marriage with children will lead to him having the emotional satisfaction of being a fully-involved dad. Some dad-deprived boys see their dad living in a small apartment after divorce, and having to fight in court to be more involved with them, even as their dads are working a job they don’t like to pay for the children they can’t see as much as they’d like. That reinforces their purpose void and an abyss of hopelessness.This demonstrates what has become a tragic pattern in our culture: when boys do not have their fathers in their lives, they themselves become skeptical and distrustful of marriage as a legitimate life goal. Too often, this leads to these same boys becoming absent fathers through non-marital relationships that break up. And so the cycle continues from one generation to the next.Farrell observes that part of the solution “involves guiding our sons to seize the opportunity to find more meaningful senses of purpose in work and parenting—ones tailored to their unique self.” He further argues that mentorship is crucial for boys to find their unique vocational calling: “Dads and male mentors are crucial in this process, as are women who understand how to not throw out the baby of masculinity with the bathwater.”And how do boys find meaning in parenthood? Not surprisingly, Farrell argues that healthy marriages are crucial:Making marriages better serves everyone. Many couples with children who are legally married are psychologically divorced. Divorces are due less to problems with money, sex or children, and more to each partner feeling that her or his perspectives on money, sex, or children are rarely heard. When our partner airs her or his perspective, we often take it as criticism, and the Achilles’ heel of human beings is our inability to handle personal criticism from a loved one without becoming defensive.That is, we have a “love dilemma”: while “falling in love” is biologically natural, sustaining love is biologically unnatural. For our children to not fear marriage, then, they need to see that their parents have learned how to do what does not come naturally: sustain love.This creates the greatest single opportunity for the most radical solution to the boy crisis: parental modeling of how to sustain love. I introduce in The Boy Crisis my “Altered Mindsets Method of Non-defensive Communication,” which has allowed couples to emotionally associate their partner’s criticism as an opportunity to deepen their love. It’s a method I have honed over two decades via couples’ communication workshops… [E]mpathy communication skills need to be part of every elementary school’s core curriculum… This is the most important single global change for love in our families and peace in the world.When couples continually work at sustaining love within their marriage, divorces will decrease and more and more boys will grow up with their fathers. I think everyone, including Noel Gallagher, would agree that this is a goal worth fighting for, and it matters greatly indeed.
One year ago today, Secretary of State John Kerry declared ISIS’ actions against Christians, Yezidis, and others in Iraq and Syria to be genocide. The declaration was widely hailed, and was a helpful step in the right direction, but has produced little positive change on the ground.In the year since, as veteran religious freedom advocate Nina Shea explains, those suffering genocide have continued to point out their dire situation. But it still has not been addressed in a manner corresponding to its gravity.This was part of the focus yesterday at an event hosted by the group In Defense of Christians at the U.S. Capitol, which featured commentary from many speakers honoring this important declaration one year out. Members of Congress Jeff Fortenberry and Anna Eshoo, who led the way in getting Congress to label this a genocide several days before the State Department’s declaration a year ago, were present and offered remarks. The event also featured the stories of genocide survivors and those directly working with them.One Yezidi woman told of her experience being held as a slave by ISIS. Another advocate told of the horrific trauma experienced by those even after they are liberated. One boy, suffering severely after his father had been killed by ISIS, tried to kill himself several times in a displaced persons camp. This latest time, the boy doused himself in gasoline, wrapped himself in blankets, and set himself on fire. His internal trauma was so severe he made no sound as he burned. His younger brother, standing nearby with his back turned, only became aware of what was going on once he smelled burning gas. He ran over and patted out the fire with his hands. By that time, both were badly burned, but alive.As testified to yesterday, masses of these traumatized children in the camps have already been brainwashed by ISIS to kill themselves in service of violent jihad. They are walking time-bombs, waiting to be taken advantage of and used to wreak future violence and mayhem, while senselessly taking their own lives in the process. They are in the camps now, but we must reach them before it is too late.These stories are only some of many which show a pattern of the horrific effects of ISIS’ genocide.As was also mentioned at yesterday’s event, there is hope that the new administration will turn its attention to the plight of these genocide survivors, which have already been neglected for far too long. It is not too late, but we must act now.
When we think of happening Christian groups, we typically imagine big church conferences, exciting worship concerts, and authentic community groups meeting in local coffee shops. Given this mindset, the following information will probably blow your mind and the minds of most people in your church. In fact, you may need to sit down for this.The fastest growing sector of the evangelical world right now is the Amish. That is correct—our beard sporting, bonnet wearing, and buggy driving brothers and sisters are expanding at a record pace. Over the past five years, the Amish have grown by 18 percent. Between 2015-2016, they started 66 new congregations. They have even reached out to South America, planting communities in both Bolivia and Argentina. During that same time, the number of people that attend Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) churches declined by 11 percent.Despite our well-trained SBC clergy, our smooth programming, and our billion dollar budgets, SBC churches are losing out to their brothers and sisters who churn their own butter. What’s more, the Amish have no major outreach campaigns. They typically struggle to reach out to people outside their villages, making their growth even more perplexing to SBC and other evangelical denominations. Yet since 1992, the Amish have been beating our church growth percentages left and right.When researchers began studying this phenomenon, they discovered that the growth of the Amish movement had little to do with cold calling evangelism and everything to do with birthrate and education.The latest birthrate statistics for the SBC estimate that each SBC couple has around 2.1 kids, a number that sits below the replacement level. Once death and other things are factored in, SBC churches would slowly die even if every kid born to SBC parents stayed in the church. And unfortunately, they do not. Almost 51 percent of all evangelical kids (including our SBC’ers) will leave the church. Most of those children will not return. For a church to maintain its size, every member (including the single ones) in the church must bring about 1.2 people into the church via birth or evangelism.The Amish do not have this problem. The average Amish couple has 6.8 kids per family. And 85 percent of their children will choose to remain in the Amish community. When given the chance to freely choose between the modern world and the Amish lifestyle, more than 8 out of 10 Amish children choose to stay. Every Amish couple will add about 5 kids to their local church’s congregation, while the average Baptist couple will add about 1. And when the couples die off, the Amish church will have grown by 150 percent, while the SBC church will have decreased by 50 percent if birthrate is the only factor.These numbers show that evangelism is not the major failing of our local SBC and evangelical churches. Our problem has everything to do with our view of children and the family. Churches that do not have members having children will not succeed.Now, every Christian does not have to embrace the Duggar family lifestyle. Christ is still our ultimate goal and not family size. But, we must begin to revive pro-family values in our churches. Being pro-family goes well past having a catchy kids’ program. We need to celebrate birth. We need to praise parents for having big families instead of chastising them with snide comments. We need to come to the point where we value kids more than traveling, nice homes, and our own tranquility. We need to live as if children are a blessing.And then, we need to commit to training our kids. We need to organize our families around the Gospel. We need to have intentional times of family worship. We must realize that going to church twice a week or twice a month will not provide our kids with an adequate religious framework. We must realize that the world evangelizes our kids 7 days a week. We must do the same. And we must intentionally find ways to protect our kids from the dangerous doctrines of the world and find ways to train them in righteousness. Commenting on Psalm 1, the pastor Voddie Bauchman says,We must not allow our children to stand, sit and walk with those who deny biblical truth and morality … We can no longer coast along and ignore biblical truth when deciding where and how to educate our children … Do everything in your power to place your child in an educational environment that supplements and facilitates their discipleship.The Amish have understood this truth and have applied it. As a result of their faithfulness, most of their children remain in their communities and churches. The Baptists and other evangelicals have not grasped this principles. And now, we are losing over half of our kids to the world around us. The realities cannot be denied.Now admittedly, the Amish have not gotten everything right. I do not think electricity leads to sin. I also think our churches should be more evangelistic than the typical Amish farmer. But the Amish have realized that family is key. They have functionally realized that children under the age of 18 are the population most open to being evangelized and have literally devoted a large portion of their life to reaching this next generation. If we want our SBC and evangelical Bible-believing churches to once again flourish, we too must be pro-family and do a better job of training our children in the faith. Are we willing to make the hard choices and to become a little more Amish?Peter Witkowski is the Associate Pastor of Preschool and Children at First Baptist Church in Eastman, Ga.
Dear Friends,By now, you have probably seen or heard about the viral video of a dad whose kids unexpectedly burst into his home office during a live BBC interview he is doing over Skype. It was a hilariously endearing moment, and not just because of the panicked yet heroic efforts of the man’s wife as she swooped in to grab the kids. For me, it was also a messily beautiful reminder of the intimate connection between work and the family.In today’s culture, work is often trumpeted as an end in itself. A high-paying career is frequently seen as something that can be pursued at all costs, without regard to the detrimental effects that this can have on one’s personal life. This attitude causes a tragic segmentation in life, which should be holistic in nature. A career should never be pursued at the expense of neglecting the relationships that sustain us and that we are called by God to nurture. A “career first” mentality has it exactly backward—work should always be in the service of our families and our communities.Another sad tendency in modern culture is to distort the definition of “work” itself. When studies come out showing that wives on average do more housework than husbands and husbands on average engage in more paid work than wives, cries of “inequality!” are yelped from the rooftops of mainstream media outlets. But let’s stop and think about this for a minute: one person works for the money to pay for the groceries; the other uses the groceries to prepare the meals. Both activities are different kinds of work that are equally important and intrinsically united—if either of the two are not done, nobody eats.I say all this to illustrate my central point: an increasingly secular culture tends to strictly divide “professional life” from “personal life.” But in a wonderfully unscripted moment during a live BBC newscast, this artificial edifice was briefly torn down with the help of an excited toddler and her sibling.Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council FRC ArticlesI’m Grateful for the Restoration of the Mexico City Policy This International Women’s Day – Arina GrossuAnother Chance for President Trump to Make Sure Foreign Governments Play by the Rules – Ken BlackwellJudge Neil Gorsuch: The Case for Confirmation – Travis Weber and Chris GacekThe Refugee Implications of President Trump’s Executive Orders – Travis WeberJoseph Nicolosi, Father of “Reparative Therapy” for Homosexuality, Dies Suddenly – Peter SpriggA Biblical Perspective on Immigration – Travis WeberPresident Trump’s Executive Orders on Immigration: Religious Freedom and Other Implications – Travis WeberThe U.S. No Longer Funds Overseas Abortions. Canada and Europe Grind Their Teeth – Dan HartVoiceless: Christians Must Engage the Culture to Fight Abortion – Dan Hart Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareThe Rioters Are Winning – David French, National ReviewOver 150 conservative leaders urge Trump to sign order protecting religious liberty – Claire Chretien, LifeSiteNewsSchool: Trump Chant is Hate Speech – ToddStarnes.comJust Because Liberals Call Something ‘Discrimination’ Doesn’t Mean It Actually Is – Ryan T. Anderson, The Daily SignalInternational Religious FreedomChristians are the world’s most persecuted religious group, according to studies – Zoe Romanowsky, AleteiaUnited Nations Committee Demands Ireland Legalize Abortion – Micaiah Bilger, LifeNewsPro-Life Counseling Becomes Illegal in France – Marie Meaney, CrisisLiberal bill empowers gvmt to take kids from Ontario parents who don’t accept gender ideology: legal experts – Lianne Laurence, LifeSiteNewsChristian Group Compassion International Closes India Operations Amid Crackdown by Hindu Nationalists – Anugrah Kumar, The Christian Post2016 Annual Report: Chinese Government Persecution of Churches and Christians in Mainland China – China AidMilitary Religious FreedomAir Force Says Words Like ‘Boy’ & ‘Girl’ Could be Offensive – ToddStarnes.comReligious Freedom Group Defends Military Chaplains' Right to Pray at Official Events – Liberty McArtor, The Stream LifeAbortionCanadian gvmt pledges $650 million to increase abortion globally – Lianne Laurence, LifeSiteNewsHawaii considering bill to force church, pro-life centers to promote abortion – Bradford Richardson, The Washington TimesOne Planned Parenthood Clinic Has Injured Women in 64 Botched Abortions, Has 39 Health Violations – Cheryl Sullenger, Life NewsPro-Life, Pro-Truth – Alexi Sargeant, First ThingsIn Iceland 100% of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. Think about that. – Lauren Bell, LifeSiteNewsHuman Rights Activist: Forced Abortion Policy Leads to 23 Million Abortions a Year in China – Penny Starr, BreitbartAdoptionNew South Dakota law could protect religious adoption agencies – Catholic News AgencyHow 5 siblings pleading to stay together as a family became a ‘great crisis’ – Rick Montgomery, The Sacramento BeeNebraska's budget squeeze puts post-adoption help at risk – Martha Stoddard, Omaha World-HeraldBioethicsEmbryo Experiments Reveal Earliest Human Development, But Stir Ethical Debate – Rob Stein, NPRScience confirms that human life begins at fertilization – Luke Faulkner, Live Action NewsAlaska Legislature Will Hold Hearing on Dangerous Bill Legalizing Assisted Suicide – Steve Ertelt, LifeNewsDemocrats Push Bill to Legalize Assisted Suicide in Wisconsin – Erin Parfet, LifeNewsMaryland Pro-Life Advocates Stop Bill to Legalize Assisted Suicide – Dave Andrusko, LifeNewsObamacareRepealing Obamacare Will Create, Not Kill, Jobs – John R. Graham, Independent InstitutePro-Life Groups Sound Caution on Obamacare Replacement Bill – Rachel del Guidice, The Daily Signal FamilyEconomics/EducationCan Declining Productivity Growth Be Reversed? – Bourree Lam, The AtlanticMarriageYour Marriage: You Have No Idea of the Good You Are Doing – Doug Mainwaring, Public DiscourseMarried Parenthood Remains the Best Path to a Stable Family – Alysse ElHage, Family StudiesCouple with Down Syndrome Criticized over Engagement. But after Twenty-Two Years of Marriage, See Them Now – Noell Wolfgram Evans, LiftableIs Your Smartphone Coming Between You and Your Spouse? – Greg Smalley, Focus on the FamilySex in the Modern Marriage – Ashley McGuire, Family StudiesHow Faith Influences Divorce Decisions – Steven M. Harris, Family StudiesFaith/Character/CultureIdeology and the Corruption of Language – Randall Smith, Public DiscourseThrow Like a Girl: Why Feminism Insults Real Women – Rebekah Merkle, Desiring God‘Day Without Women’ Measures Women’s Value The Wrong Way – Gracy Olmstead, The FederalistOut of the Ashes: Anthony Esolen's Clarion Call to Restore Culture, Faith, and Sanity – Michael Bradley, Public DiscourseEmma Watson Explains Perfectly Why I’m A Woman Who Is Afraid Of Feminism – Monica Gabriel Marshall, VerilyHuman SexualityA Requiem for Friendship – Anthony Esolen, TouchstoneLife in a Foreign Country: Navigating Our Culture’s Change on Sexuality – Ed Shaw, The Gospel CoalitionBiology Isn't Bigotry: Christians, Lesbians, and Radical Feminists Unite to Fight Gender Ideology – Emily Zinos, Public DiscourseAmericans having less sex than they once did – Tara Bahrampour, The Washington PostPutting genies back into bottles: Sex before marriage – Katrina Fernandez, AleteiaHuman TraffickingFilm spotlights human trafficking as Trump promises action – AP NewsHuman trafficking growing problem in metro Atlanta – Nathalie Pozo, Fox 5PornographyThe High Cost of Free Porn – Owen Strachan, Desiring GodIs Life Better Without Porn? – Frank Honess, The Christian Post
This is Part 3 of a 3-part series. Here are Parts 1 and 2.On March 6, President Trump signed a revised executive order restricting entry to the United States from certain countries, which followed heated controversy and legal battles arising from the initial executive order temporarily halting entry to the United States for certain groups of people. In light of the new order, and in the wake of the controversy surrounding the issue more broadly, it’s helpful to separate the multiple issues—often conflated with one another—playing a part in this discussion. One of these issues is the impact of the orders on refugees—who, though only one of the multiple groups affected—have occupied much of the discussion.Issue #3: On Refugees – Good Arguments Require PrecisionPutting aside the media hysterics and negligent or willful abuse of Scripture, there are many who are attempting to engage in well-meaning discussion of these orders and the immigration issue more broadly. Unfortunately, many people protesting President Trump’s actions do not really understand how the immigration system actually works, or what they would recommend if asked how to fix its security concerns. We all would benefit from learning before speaking into the haze and fog of this debate, and should go back to the actual sources. In this case, that is the initial executive order, and the new executive order.What do the orders say?Section 3 of the initial order covered the suspension of all visas to individuals from certain countries, and Section 5 covered the suspension of the refugee program. The other sections direct various actions to improve immigration security generally. Exactly what among these provisions is objectionable (and how) is often quickly lost in this discussion, and consequently, is often lost on many who seem to generally oppose the order.The new order removes Iraq from the list of countries, removes the indefinite ban on Syrian refugees, and takes out language which prioritized those for admission who were persecuted for their faith. It also doesn’t ban lawful U.S. permanent residents, or prevent people from entering the United States traveling on valid visas already issued. The new order also lays out policy reasons for why this action has been taken.Aside from the removal of protections for religious minorities (which would have been helpful to leave in—for the United States already considers religion in refugee law, and these minorities are in dire need of our help), the refugee admissions provisions remain virtually unchanged between the two executive orders.Use of the term “refugee”Throughout this immigration debate, the term “refugee” is often used carelessly. But it has a precise meaning in U.S. law. Individuals entering the United States can do so under a number of visa programs or claim asylum. Entering as a refugee is covered by a specific program, and this program is covered only by Section 5 of the initial order and Section 6 of the new order (the other provisions of the orders cover other avenues of entry). When we speak of “refugees” legally, we refer to people entering through this program. This does not include immigrants entering through other programs, crossing the border illegally, or even showing up at our border to claim asylum.While many may agree that other elements of the orders and the immigration system overall (to include student and worker visas) certainly need scrutiny, there is a debate as to whether the refugee program alone can be improved, or whether we will achieve quite minimal gains from restricting access through this program while at the same time harming those who need our protection. There are arguments for and against the refugee restrictions in the orders.Arguments for the refugee restrictionsIt is clear that some Muslims with terrorist ties have entered the United States through our refugee program (and the new order notes that more than 300 people who entered the United States as refugees are currently under terrorism investigations by the FBI). Additionally, while vetting for refugees is already rigorous, the Obama administration accelerated the number of people who entered the country near the end of the term. In these circumstances, it’s a reasonable approach to ask how that was done. Some may claim that the vetting is already as strict as possible, and there is always the risk that terrorists slip through. New developments call for new assessments; we are aware, for instance, that Yezidi girls who have been rescued from ISIS captivity are still in touch with their captors due to Stockholm Syndrome. Have we accounted for the risk that one of them might maintain contact once given safe haven in the United States? It is a reasonable position for a U.S. citizen to want to continue to assess security risks until they are addressed.Moreover, we must be prudent and remain aware of the motivations of different actors. Some large refugee assistance groups may see funding cut under the orders, and it is understandable if they feel pressure to oppose them for that reason in addition to their convictions regarding refugees. At a minimum they have a conflict of interest on this point.Additionally, we should be careful of a mentality which assumes that large-scale immigration is most helpful to people. Many displaced persons overseas want to stay in their countries. Solutions which help create peace and stability where they live are just as helpful, if not more so, than uprooting them to bring them to a different culture in the United States. Those arguing for widespread and aggressive immigration on grounds of compassion should ensure they are not assuming it is the only compassionate solution.Arguments against the refugee restrictionsWhile the executive orders contain many provisions that will improve security overall in the visa-granting process, those halting the refugee program may do little to improve security, while stunting an important program for those fleeing persecution. The United States is currently vulnerable to terrorists seeking to exploit different avenues of entry: H1Bs, student visas, and claims to asylum, for instance. The refugee program, in which vetting occurs outside the country, is the last place terrorists would go if they were trying to enter the United States.While Europe has experienced difficulty due to increasing numbers of refugees, the situation is not analogous to that of the United States, as the way refugees enter the United States mitigates many of those risks Europe faces. The term “refugee” has been applied to those flooding into Europe but it is inaccurate to think of those same people as refugees to the United States—a point I discuss above. If these people flooded our shores like they’ve done to Europe’s, they would be asylum seekers, not refugees covered by the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). To enter the United States through the USRAP, a potential refugee first has to go to a country where he or she can apply through the United Nations, go through the UN process, then be chosen by the UN to be resettled in the United States (the UN picks their country of resettlement, not the refugee). This process often takes four years. Thus, if people are concerned about “refugees” arriving and “flooding” our shores, they are not really concerned about refugees as that term is used in law and policy (and the USRAP), but are concerned about other types of entrants—either asylum seekers, or those entering illegally.While the risk of a terrorist entering through the USRAP is not zero, compared to other avenues of entry, it’s much more difficult and terrorists are much less likely to use it. A significant area of risk is the database system used to assess refugees, which could be bolstered and improved; but fixing this may not require a pause in the USRAP program as the orders require. While we obtain a bare minimum of security gains by restricting the USRAP, the argument goes, we cause significant suffering to those who do need our help. In Lebanon, for instance, Christian Syrian women are prostituting themselves and selling their daughters into child marriages to survive. These people need our help, and we shouldn’t shut off their lifeline when the security risks of that lifeline are already minimal. We should address any security risk as soon as possible so we can get our refugee program back up and running so it can help those it is meant to help.ConclusionThe initial executive order was not without its problems. It seems that the roll out and implementation could have been accomplished more smoothly. There were reports of lawful permanent residents and U.S. military translators being held up; these matters should have been addressed before the order was issued to avoid confusion. By now, certain steps have been taken to smooth out some of these bumps, but they could have been addressed from the beginning. Thankfully, the new executive order does not bar holders of valid visas or lawful permanent residents from entering the United States, and the new order will take effect on March 16 (hopefully allowing for smooth roll out and implementation), as opposed to the initial order which took effect immediately.These changes in the new order go a long way toward fixing some of the problems in the initial one, though obviously many will still disagree about immigration policy more broadly. At the end of the day, we should acknowledge that reasonable people (including fellow Christians) may disagree about immigration policy and the executive orders (including their refugee provisions).Reaching that conclusion alone would go a long way toward promoting rational discourse and easing the emotional gridlock in the public debate on this and other issues.
This is Part 2 of a 3-part series.On March 6, President Trump signed a revised Executive Order restricting entry to the United States from certain countries, which followed heated controversy and legal battles arising from the initial Executive Order (EO) temporarily halting entry to the United States for certain groups of people. In light of the new order, and in the wake of the controversy surrounding the issue more broadly, it’s helpful to separate the multiple issues—often conflated with one another—playing a part in this discussion. The relationship of refugee and immigration policy to international religious freedom advocacy, in particular, has revealed some glaring hypocrisies and deficiencies over the course of the recent public debate. Another issue at play is the question of what a Christian should be saying on the question of immigration in general, and the Executive Order in particular.Issue #2: TheologyMany immigration advocates point to biblical commands to love the foreigner (Leviticus 19:34), and care for those different than us (Luke 10:25-37). They’re right. Those verses are in the Bible. What else is in there? Plenty of Old Testament law, which these same advocates are happy to overlook. For example, we see that God requires immigrants to assimilate or, in other words, live by the customs of the land they now call home in order to receive equal status (Exodus 12:48-49).The point here is not to arrive at the precise theological implications of these passages, but to point out the hypocrisy of those who wish to suddenly have the government cite the Bible as a basis for policy. Are these same individuals prepared to tell us what the Bible has to say about shutting down public school Bible studies because of supposed Establishment Clause violations? Many suddenly seem to have developed a zeal for the fusion of Christianity and State, and try to justify their arguments for opposing this executive order by simply attaching a Christian reference to them.The truth is, it is incumbent on Christians to open their hearts toward the foreigner—and all our neighbors. But living a Christian life is not so monolithic. The Bible also says government is to punish wrong and protect the good (Romans 13:1-7). Even the organization Sojourners believes this verse means “government is supposed to protect its people. That certainly means protecting its citizens’ safety and security.” Loving my neighbor as myself (Mark 12:31) means all neighbors. Allowing Christianity to inform public policy is a worthwhile endeavor, but it must be done prudently and carefully, not merely as a pretext.Primarily lost in this discussion is the question of how this controversy intersects with the larger issue of religious freedom around the world. Where has this energy and attention been when it comes to care for those suffering around the world for their religious beliefs? Where has the outcry been when the United States has stood by much of the time?Where have Christians in the United States been as their brothers and sisters have been tormented overseas? Are they prepared to cite Scripture in defense of their apathy?Those who are careless about their country’s borders while careful about locking their house at night are operating with a logical disconnect. This disconnect must be worked out. The policy implications of our theological sources are not always clear, and no one should be denigrated for reasonably disagreeing.The question of what Christianity has to say about this issue is a valid one, but the inquiry must be done properly, not recklessly and carelessly.Part 3 will examine arguments for and against refugee restrictions in President Trump’s executive orders.
This is Part 1 of a 3-part series.On Monday, President Trump signed a revised Executive Order restricting entry to the United States from certain countries, which followed heated controversy and legal battles arising from the initial Executive Order (EO) temporarily halting entry to the United States for certain groups of people. In light of the new order, and in the wake of the controversy surrounding the issue more broadly, it’s helpful to separate the multiple issues—often conflated with one another—playing a part in this discussion. The relationship of refugee and immigration policy to international religious freedom advocacy, in particular, has revealed some glaring hypocrisies and deficiencies over the course of the recent public debate.Issue #1: Media HysteriaPeople of good will can disagree on immigration policy. Christians may disagree among themselves on what to do. It’s not a simple topic, and those on various sides of different discussions should work out how their religious beliefs—if they hold any—apply to their position.But the absolute hysteria of the media on this issue doesn’t help rational discourse, and only further discredits an already-discredited institution. Do we really believe President Obama would have been subjected to similar treatment if he had issued anything close to what President Trump did? Everyone knows the hype purportedly about immigration is really just a political statement about President Trump—and this discredits the media and distracts from a worthwhile conversation in which people on both sides may wish to engage.It is worth observing that many of the same news organizations and advocacy groups getting worked into a tizzy about immigration are absent and silent on the issue of ongoing religious persecution around the world. Where were many of these suddenly zealous religious discrimination advocates when, year-after-year, those of various faiths were persecuted and even killed around the world? Where were they in calling for the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini in Iran, and Meriam Ibrahim in Sudan? Where were they when others labored tirelessly to help fix troubled hotspots? Where were they in calling attention to the need for “safe zones” in the same areas from which many are fleeing to Western Europe and the United States (which by their inaction arguably helped create the horrible conditions in the Middle East)? Indeed, many refugees would prefer to stay where they are, but are forced to flee due to horrific circumstances (including a lack of religious freedom) where they live.Would immigration advocates work to stop the international religious freedom problems that are causing increasing refugee flows in the first place? Or could they care less about that as long as our borders remain open?Just this month, Open Doors USA hosted a press conference detailing what is happening to Christians around the world. Many of the same news outlets and advocacy groups claiming a responsibility to love the foreigner were absent from this press event where persecution of foreigners was discussed.A dose of humility and fair-mindedness, along with a more charitable and rational approach to this discussion, would go a long way toward solving whatever other issues are tangled up in this debate.Part 2 will discuss the Christian perspective on immigration.
I was shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden death, on March 9, of Dr. Joseph Nicolosi. His passing came after a brief illness and hospitalization.Dr. Nicolosi was one of the most important leaders—historically, and right up until his death—of the “ex-gay therapy” movement (more on terminology in a moment).Joseph Nicolosi was one of the founders of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), which was later re-named the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity.He was also the father of “reparative therapy” for men—a particular branch of the larger movement to provide assistance in seeking change to those who experience unwanted same-sex attractions.There is a great deal of confusion about the terminology used regarding this subject. LGBT activists who are critics of “sexual orientation change efforts,” or “SOCE” have begun referring to such efforts as “conversion therapy”—even though virtually no practitioner of such therapy refers to it that way. Nevertheless, the media have followed in lock-step behind the activist critics in using that term.“Sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE) is a broad and legitimate term that can encompass both therapy conducted by licensed therapists and counseling provided by religious or pastoral counselors who seek to help clients with the same goal—that of overcoming same-sex attractions and/or resisting the temptation to engage in homosexual conduct.Among licensed therapists, the term “sexual reorientation therapy” is preferred—although recently, the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity has coined the term “Sexual Attraction Fluidity Exploration in Therapy,” or “SAFE-T,” to better describe what actually happens in such efforts.Regardless of the terminology, what distinguishes sexual reorientation therapy or SAFE-T is not a particular therapeutic technique, but rather the goal that the client is pursuing. A range of different psychological or therapeutic techniques can be used toward that goal.For a period of time, after Dr. Nicolosi first came to prominence in the 1990’s, the term “reparative therapy” was widely used in the media to describe all SOCE. However, properly speaking, “reparative therapy” refers only to the particular technique in which Dr. Nicolosi specialized.Even when the term “reparative therapy” is being correctly used to refer to a specific psychotherapy technique, it is easily misunderstood. Most assume that the premise of such therapy is that homosexuality itself is a form of “brokenness,” and the task of the therapist is to “repair” the homosexual person.This is not, however, how Dr. Nicolosi used the term “reparative therapy.” I highly recommend his brief (about 2,000 words) essay, “What Is Reparative Therapy? Examining the Controversy,” which is available online.In brief, Dr. Nicolosi’s working theory was that homosexuality itself is a “reparative” drive—an effort to “repair” some other, underlying trauma. In his own words: . . . [H]omosexual behavior may be an unconscious attempt to “self-repair” feelings of masculine inferiority and . . . such feelings represent an attempt to meet normal, healthy, masculine emotional needs. . . .Reparative therapy views most same-sex attractions as reparations for childhood trauma. Such trauma may be explicit, such as sexual or emotional abuse, or implicit in the form of negative parental messages regarding one’s self and gender. Exploring, isolating and resolving these childhood emotional wounds will often result in reducing unwanted same-sex attractions.Dr. Nicolosi was the author of several books, including a guide to “reparative therapy” for clinicians (Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality: A New Clinical Approach, Jason Aronson Inc., 1991), and an important work for a more general audience (A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality, with his wife Linda Ames Nicolosi; InterVarsity Press, 2002).The Joe Nicolosi I knew was compassionate toward his clients, persuasive and intellectually rigorous in his writing and speaking, and gregarious and entertaining in personal relationships. I will miss him personally, as will all who knew him and the movement he helped found.However, he leaves behind a tremendous legacy in defense of the right of those with unwanted same-sex attractions to seek their own path in life.
On January 23rd, President Trump signed an executive order that reinstated the “Mexico City Policy.” The policy, which was originally issued by President Reagan in 1984, halts federal funds from going to foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that commit abortions or “actively promote” abortion.The order ensures U.S. aid will continue to go to health care, humanitarian relief, and even family planning in the millions of dollars. It just will not subsidize abortion overseas.Prior to President Reagan’s actions, American policy on paper was to never promote abortion overseas, however in practice U.S. tax dollars directly supported organizations which advocated and performed abortion. It remained in effect until 1993 when President Clinton rescinded the Mexico City policy on January 22, 1993 for the entirety of his tenure in office. On January 22, 2001, President Bush issued an executive order restoring the Mexico City policy. President Bush had also determined that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) was complicit in China's forced abortion and sterilization program, and withdrew its U.S. funding. President Obama ignored such facts and rescinded the policies.The principal behind the Mexico City Policy is simple: abortion is not health care. Therefore, there is absolutely no reason why the U.S. should fund the killing of babies in the womb by giving taxpayer money to NGOs that participate in or promote abortion.In response to the U.S. policy’s reinstatement, the Netherlands announced in February that it has launched a new fund to replace the money that the Mexico City Policy withholds from funding abortions overseas. Dubbed the “She Decides Global Fundraising Initiative,” the fund will solicit donations from other countries in order to bankroll “ongoing initiatives that improve access to lifesaving contraceptives, family planning, sexuality education and/or safe abortion,” according to the initiative’s website. So far, seven other countries (Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, and Cape Verde) have officially joined the fund.If there was ever proof of the extent to which the pro-abortion mentality has taken over in Canada and Europe, this is surely it. When no quarter is given to withholding taxpayer money from be used to directly fund the killing of unborn children, the true colors of those who tout their support of “family planning” are revealed. What was completely glossed over in the media furor over Trump’s Mexico City Policy reinstatement is the fact that it still fully funds all forms of family planning that does not involve the active promotion of abortion. “Active promotion” is defined as providing advice and information regarding the availability of abortion or encourage women to consider abortion; lobbying a foreign government to legalize or make abortion more available; or conducting a public information campaign regarding the benefits and/or availability of abortion.In a country that is roughly 58 percent “pro-life” (according to a 2015 CNN poll), the Mexico City Policy is a common sense rule that establishes a solid middle ground regarding abortion and the rights of taxpayers in America. If other countries want to protest this by feigning “human rights” for women and girls in the form of abortion, as the “She Decides” initiative does, that is their inhuman prerogative. Meanwhile, the pro-life movement is thankful for President Trump’s pro-life action and will continue to fight for the human rights of unborn girls.
In the powerful new film Voiceless, a war veteran starts a new job in the inner city of Philadelphia as a community outreach leader for a church. He soon discovers that an abortion clinic is located directly across the street. As he wrestles with what to do about it, he has a tragic personal experience which convicts him to take action and start a pro-life ministry. When he asks for support from his pastor, the church community, and even his wife, he is met with resistance. Finally, he is faced with a choice between backing away, or fighting for what he believes is right and risking everything he has.In a panel discussion about the film, Executive Producer Stuart Migdon boiled down the point of Voiceless to this: to motivate Christians to engage the culture in the fight to end abortion. He cited a sobering statistic that found that over 90 percent of evangelical churches do not have a pro-life presence. Another study found that 90 percent of Christians want to hear their church speak on how to confront abortion. This displays a clear disconnect between what believers know is a grave evil and what their churches are doing about it.As Migdon pointed out, if more Christians were to “wrap their arms around these men and women who are in these situations where they have an unplanned pregnancy, and they were to help them emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially, if they were to give their all to these people, then we would see a change in this country that we have not seen, even before Roe v. Wade.” Migdon continued: “Eighty-four percent of women that have had abortions … say that they never felt they had a choice. The church is designed to be that voice to give them that choice.”While Voiceless is a thoroughly pro-life film with a clear message, Pat Necerato, the Writer, Producer, and Director, noted that he wanted to make a “character-driven movie about a real person having these struggles and not make it about throwing pie in the pro-choice people’s face.” He also pointed out that he wanted the film to “inspire people to take a stand for what they believe is right.” Necerato believes that the message of Voiceless could really be applied to any cause that people feel passionate about: “If that [any cause] is what you truly believe, you can watch this film and say, ‘You know what? I need to do something about this. I need to get out there and put a stake in the ground.’”Stuart Migdon’s wish for Voiceless is that it may inspire Christians to act on their pro-life beliefs: “Be passionate, know that we can make a difference … We can have a pro-life ministry in every church in America, and make a huge difference; so much so, I believe, that it won’t be about making abortion illegal, it will be about making abortion unthinkable.”Resources For ChurchesCare Net’s Making Life Disciples is a 6-part DVD curriculum that trains churches on ministering to folks in the church facing unplanned pregnancies (20% Off Promotion Code: FRC20). The Human Coalition’s Church Toolkit provides pastors and churches with resources to address the issue of abortion with grace and compassion, clear biblical understanding, and concrete steps for the congregation. Voiceless is coming out on DVD on March 7 and it will help any church and pro-life member jumpstart a pro-life ministry. It can be pre-ordered here.
Dear Friends,In a recent interview with The Rubin Report, Bp. Robert Barron gave a concise answer to the question of why Christians don’t lower their moral standards on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage so that they can retain more members:“We’re calling people to a radical sanctity. It’s a high bar on purpose. We don’t dial down the ideals because people find them difficult or they’ll walk away because of them. Apply that back to sexual matters—it’s a similar situation. The church is extreme in its demand … because it wants its people to be saints, not mediocrities.”Keeping moral standards high is crucial in combatting current cultural trends that encourage mediocrity (or worse). As David French writes in National Review, leading a stress-free, problem-free life at any cost appears to be the goal of many in our culture instead of pursuing virtue. This “flight from pain” has become a disturbing pattern in American life. Stress and sadness are treated with prescription drugs. Marriage must have a trial run of cohabitation, and can be bailed on completely with divorce. Suicides have surged to a 30-year high, with drug overdoses increasing by 33 percent in the last five years. With the rise of assisted suicide, many apparently can’t even bear the thought of death itself happening without their permission.French goes on to make this observation: “I can’t help wonder how much of this change is connected to the loss of faith, to the absence of the eternal perspective. Everything that matters is here, on this earth, and given the fragility of life is it not entirely rational to do all you reasonably can to make it as comfortable as it can be?”Believers know that it is in the pursuit of virtue that human beings attain happiness. Leading a Christian life means setting the bar of moral behavior high. This means that our lives will be anything but stress-free; it will often mean a flight into pain rather than a flight from it. Christ made this quite clear in Matthew 7:14: “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”May we always strive for that life that Christ has promised, and in so doing raise our culture out of mediocrity. Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council FRC ArticlesTrump Returns Authority Over School Transgender Policies to States and Localities – Peter SpriggTrump: Please Stop Gov't Meat Inspectors' Threats to Religious Freedom – Tony PerkinsTrump Reverses Federal Bathroom Folly, Will Fairfax Follow? – Cathy RuseHow the market can fix health care – Ken BlackwellNeil Gorsuch’s Proven Track Record of Protecting Religious Liberty – Travis Weber40 Days for Life Speech in Front of D.C.’s Planned Parenthood – Arina Grossu“Big Abortion” Wants the Dangerous Pregnancy-Destroying Drug Mifepristone (RU-486) Sold in Local Pharmacies – Chris GacekOn School Bathrooms and Bullying – Dan HartD.C.’s Inhuman Assisted Suicide Law Must Be Repealed – Dan HartHow did the Washington State Supreme Court Get Barronelle Stutzman’s Case So Wrong? – Travis WeberDon’t Be Misled By National Geographic and Katie Couric: Three Things to Know About “Gender Identity” – Peter Sprigg Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareLiberal Protestors Lose It When Town Hall Chaplain Prays in Jesus' Name – CBN NewsReligious intolerance at USDA latest example of need for religious freedom order – Alliance Defending FreedomWashington floral artist to ask US Supreme Court to protect her freedom – Alliance Defending FreedomInternational Religious FreedomFrance passes law imposing up to two years prison for running pro-life websites – Jeanne Smits, LifeSiteNewsChinese Christians Sentenced to Up to 7 Years in Prison Over Christian Devotionals – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostEgyptian Christians Warned to 'Leave or Die' as 40 Copts Killed in Last 3 Months – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post LifeAbortionDoes Abortion Really Prevent Child Abuse? – Mike Adams, TownhallPlanned Parenthood Kills 323,999 Babies in Abortions, Provides Only 17,419 Moms Prenatal Care – Randall O’Bannon, LifeNewsLeading Physician Confirms Unborn Children Feel Excruciating Pain During Abortions – LifeNews Magazines Like Teen Vogue Hard-Sell Abortion To Fill The Pockets Of Big Companies – Sue Ellen Browder, The FederalistFact Check: Abortion Is Not ‘The Most Safest Medical Procedure In America’ – Machaiah Bilger, LifeNewsThe Pro-Life Legacy of Norma McCorvey, the ‘Roe’ of Roe v. Wade – Katrina Trinko, The Daily SignalOklahoma Lawmaker Tarred For Saying Abortion Choice Should Include Fathers – Nicole Russell, The FederalistAdoptionAdoption agency's demise sheds light on troubled industry – Kate Gibson, CBS NewsMom's inspiring adoption story of 3-year-old girl born without arms or legs – Jennifer Earl, CBS NewsBioethicsWashington, D.C., now seventh place in U.S. to officially legalize assisted suicide – Claire Chretien, LifeSiteNewsShould We Ban Donor Anonymity? – Alana Newman, Family StudiesOregon Assisted Suicide Deaths Hit Record High in 2016 as Abuses Continue – Alex Schadenberg, LifeNewsAssisted Suicide Deaths Can be Horrifyingly Slow and Painful – Alex Schadenberg, LifeNewsObamacareReplacing Obamacare and Insuring the Uninsured – John C. Goodman, Pete Sessions, Bill Cassidy, Independent InstituteOne Mom’s Fight for Her Special Needs Son in the Age of Obamacare – Melissa Quinn, The Daily SignalCongress Should Fix Obamacare By Giving Health Care Back To States – John Daniel Davidson, The Federalist FamilyEconomics/EducationHow Arizona Is Using Licensure Laws to Punish Compassion – David Rosenthal, The Daily SignalProtectionism and a Universal Basic Income Won’t Solve Our Economic Problems – Dylan Pahman, Public DiscourseHow Trade With China Hurt Marriage Prospects for Low-Skilled Men – Robert VerBruggen, Family StudiesMarriageShould Couples in Unhappy Marriages Stay Together? – Harry Benson, Family StudiesHow to Raise Changing Children in a Changing Culture – Melissa Kruger, The Gospel CoalitionSecrets of Being a Happy Wife – Fawn Weaver, Focus on the FamilyFaith/Character/CultureIt’s a Wonderful Time to Be Christian – Garrett Kell, Desiring GodWhat is Wrong with Us? How Should Christians Respond? – Rachel Lu, CrisisEvangelizing Through the Good – Bp. Robert Barron, Word On FireYou Can’t Win the Neighbor You Fear – Collin Hansen, The Gospel CoalitionWhen the Pursuit of Happiness Becomes the Flight from Pain – David French, National ReviewHuman SexualityScarlett Johansson and the Great Adventure Of Monogamy – Jared Zimmerer, Word On FireMost Still Say Transgender Bathroom Policy Not A Federal Issue – Rasmussen ReportsHow Far Should Government Go to Encourage Couples to Reproduce? – Naomi Schaefer Riley, Family StudiesWhat Happens When Men Have Sex with Teenage Boys – Chad Felix Greene, The Huffington PostIf Child Sex Is More Common Among Gay Men, Are We Okay With That? – Daniel Payne, The FederalistHuman TraffickingAshton Kutcher delivers emotional testimony in fight against sex-trafficking – Philip Kosloski, AleteiaAuthorities: Human traffickers using new tactics to capture victims – Melissa Howell, WSETPornography2017 Dirty Dozen List – National Center on Sexual ExploitationMy Big Sister, The Porn Star: How Her Career Damaged Her Life And Our Family – Fight the New DrugVirginia, South Dakota vote overwhelmingly to recognize porn as ‘public health crisis’ – Fr. Mark Hodges, LifeSiteNews
Note: The following is Arina Grossu’s speech for the February 28, 2017 40 Days for Life vigil in front of D.C.’s Planned Parenthood. Arina Grossu is the Director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.Good evening. Thank you for being here today. I wish we did not have to be here and I hope that one day soon we will no longer have to be when abortions are no longer committed. Let’s make abortion unthinkable. Abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women and children, and Planned Parenthood, America’s number one abortion chain is also the abortion lobby’s number one perpetrator.Planned Parenthood is in the business of lies. Here are some facts containing numbers from its own annual reports. Planned Parenthood commits 35 percent of U.S. abortions, close to 325,000 abortions annually. Planned Parenthood is a scandal-ridden organization that needs to be defunded. It was at the center of the controversy involving the sale and trafficking of baby body parts as revealed by the Center for Medical Progress videos. It has also been caught promoting abortion quotas, and it failed to report statutory rape at a number of its affiliates. It has shown support for race- and sex-selective abortions. It targets minority populations: 79 percent of its surgical abortion facilities are located within walking distance of African-American or Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods.While it advertises its non-abortion services, a closer look at its annual reports reveal a shocking reality. Abortion is on the rise, but their other services have dropped to over half in the past five years. From 2009 to 2014, cancer screening and prevention programs have consistently dropped by 63 percent. In those same years breast exams have consistently dropped by over half (56 percent). These do not include in-house mammograms because Planned Parenthood does not do mammograms, a fact that Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards admitted in a September 2015 House Oversight Committee meeting, contradicting her 2011 claims that it did.From 2009 to 2014, prenatal services have steadily dropped by more than half (57 percent). LiveAction’s January 2017 sting videos reveal that out of 97 Planned Parenthood facilities that they talked to, only five said they provided prenatal care. One abortion worker at the Merrillville, Ind. Planned Parenthood said, “No, we don’t do prenatal services. I mean, it’s called Planned Parenthood, I know it’s kind of deceiving.”Another LiveAction January 2017 video revealed that of 68 Planned Parenthood facilities that were asked if they do an ultrasound in order to check the health of the baby, only three Planned Parenthood facilities said they did.In 2014, if a pregnant woman walked into a Planned Parenthood facility, she was 160 times more likely to receive an abortion than an adoption referral.So here we are standing in front of this $20 million state of the art mega-center that opened in September 2016 and is dedicated to child-killing. It is tragically located next to and across the street from Two Rivers Public Charter School. While children are being taught in those buildings, other children are being killed in Planned Parenthood’s building.Here they do medication abortion up to about 9 weeks for $475 and surgical abortion up to 14 weeks for $525.This Planned Parenthood, like other Planned Parenthoods and abortion facilities in each town and city, stands as an enemy against human dignity, an enemy against women and children, an enemy against human decency. Folks, we are looking at the gas chamber of our generation. It is a blight on our nation.But you are here, and this gives me hope for the future. 40 Days for Life is a great opportunity to witness to vulnerable mothers and fathers and abortion workers the truth about human dignity and the lies of abortion.Our presence matters. Not only does it matter, but it is crucial. Between 2004 and 2016, some 675 cities in 40 nations have conducted 40 Days for Life campaigns with measurable, lifesaving results.Do you want to know what a difference prayer and witness makes? Through prayer and fasting, peaceful vigils and community outreach, 40 Days for Life has inspired 725,000 volunteers. With God’s help, during 19 coordinated campaigns:12,668 babies were saved from abortion143 abortion workers were converted83 abortion centers were closedMore than 19,000 church congregations were activated and united for life.Wow! Do you realize how powerful we are when we unite for life? Together we will bring about an end to abortion. From March 1 until April 9, our community will unite with many others from coast to coast—and internationally—for another major simultaneous pro-life mobilization.It is a very exciting time to be in the pro-life movement right now. Did you know that there have been a torrent of pro-life laws in the U.S.? In the last five years alone, 334 laws have been passed, which account for 30 percent of all pro-life laws enacted since 1973.In 2015 Planned Parenthood closed 33 centers in a total of 18 different states. Planned Parenthood currently operates around 625 centers in the United States. At its height in 1995, there were 938 Planned Parenthood facilities. Both the numbers of facilities and affiliates are at an all-time low.We are also going to witness the defunding of Planned Parenthood. The over $500 million in annual taxpayer funds that currently goes to Planned Parenthood annually should be redirected to Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) that actually provide comprehensive and true health care for women, men, and children. Abortion is not health care.But we need your continued presence here—we need boots on the ground—and an active voice in contacting your members of Congress for the passage of pro-life bills.Your physical, peaceful presence stands as a beacon of light in a very dark place. Whenever we stand at the foot of the abortion facility, at the precipice where unspeakable evil takes place, in whatever city we find ourselves, we are the conscience of the world, the last lifeline of support for a mother facing an unplanned pregnancy, and the first to embrace her if she goes through with an abortion. We are also there to help abortion workers leave this wretched business.I encourage you to be part of this sacred task and sign up to pray and witness outside of this Planned Parenthood by going to 40daysforlife.com or just show up at any of its locations. You don’t have to say a word. You can come here to just pray and witness with your presence. Or if the Spirit so moves you in gentleness and love, to reach out to the mothers and fathers in unplanned pregnancies and abortion volunteers and workers and show them another way—the life-giving way. Your mere presence and witness speaks more than you can imagine.One final word of encouragement. When you come here or any other abortion facility for peaceful witness, please remember that you are not alone. When you stand here, either by yourself or with a group, you are not alone. You are joining in solidarity with brothers and sisters in cities all around the world, helping to rescue other brothers and sisters from the grip of abortion. We are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness. God’s power and strength will carry us.Ephesians 6 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that utterance may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:10-20).For more coverage of this event, see here.
Dr. Thomas Price, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, please take note. Your U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will soon be cooperating (conspiring) with abortion activists to relax important health regulations so that America’s only approved abortion regimen can be sold by local drug stores. In fact, the process may well be underway as I write.Big Abortion’s aggressive push for evermore abortion, despite great health concerns for the mother (not to mention the baby), appears to know few bounds. Mifepristone, also known as RU-486, is incontrovertibly an embryo and fetal-destructive chemical. Mifepristone (also, Mifeprex®) blocks the chemical action of progesterone, the key hormone that drives pregnancy forward. Mifepristone is taken with a second drug, misoprostol (Cytotec), which causes uterine-emptying contractions when taken by a pregnant woman. This two-drug abortion regimen was first approved by the FDA in 2000.There are many details related to the distribution of this regimen, but the key points to note are that access to the mifepristone itself is still pretty tightly controlled. The current 2016 regulations for the mifepristone regimen do not allow it to be sold in pharmacies. Rather, mifepristone may be distributed only by certified healthcare providers (originally, it had to be a physician). Such providers must have the ability to assess the duration of the pregnancy accurately, be able to diagnose ectopic pregnancies, be able to get the patient to surgical intervention in case of an incomplete abortion or severe bleeding, and, finally, must have read the prescribing information about the regimen. Clearly this sort of patient assessment cannot take place at pharmacies. The regimen may not be prescribed after the 70th day of pregnancy (LMP).On February 23rd, a group of ten abortion activists calling themselves the “Mifeprex REMS Study Group,” most of whom are physicians, argued that the Mifeprex regulatory scheme is obsolete and that the regimen should be sold in pharmacies. This piece of abortion advocacy appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine.“REMS” is an FDA acronym that stands for “Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy.” The REMS for the Mifeprex regimen—the use requirements put in place to mitigate dangers to patients from a drug’s use—were already weakened by the Obama administration less than a year ago as it was going out the door. It was at that time that the FDA allowed for the amount of mifepristone in the regimen to be cut by two-thirds, and for the regimen’s use to be extended from 56 to 70 days when the failure rate at the earlier marker was already significant. Furthermore, a second office visit was also eliminated from the requirements—which was simply shocking given the complications that can occur, including incomplete abortion and ongoing pregnancy.My colleague Arina Grossu and I also called on the FDA to release the study citations and data that was used to justify the 2016 changes. (See pp. 2-3 of “The FDA Adopts the Abortion Industry Standards for the Mifeprex® (RU-486) Abortion Regimen.”) To the best of our knowledge, the FDA still has not produced a list of citations for twenty-two studies used to justify the relaxation of the regimen’s requirements less than one year ago.As our paper indicated, serious health complications from the Mifeprex regimen can arise. We know that from May 2000-2011, there have been 14 deaths, 612 hospitalizations, 58 ectopic pregnancies (suggesting inadequate screening), 339 cases of blood loss requiring transfusions, and 256 cases of infection (48 of which were considered severe).Dr. Price’s team at HHS and FDA needs to stop any effort that Big Abortion is attempting to slip through the agency before the Trump team is in place. Major articles like this one in the NEJM do not appear by accident, so the chances are that an application to effect this change has already been filed or is about to be filed.Furthermore, an independent medical and statistical review of the 2016 label change needs to be conducted for the purposes of determining whether that previous set of changes was politically and not scientifically motivated. As a gesture of good faith and transparency, FDA should release the most recent summary of Mifeprex regimen adverse events that it produces internally every quarter, so we can see the trend lines since the last data became available to the public.
In a White House press conference last Thursday, a reporter stated that “82 percent of transgender children report feeling unsafe at school.” She then asserted that by rolling back Obama’s May 2016 school transgender bathroom guidance, the Trump administration was leaving transgender children “open to being bullied at school.” She followed this up by saying: “Transgender children say that their experiences [of] not being able to use the bathroom that they feel comfortable using makes them vulnerable to bullying.”Just to be clear: It is tragic to know that such a high percentage of students who identify as transgendered feel unsafe at school. It goes without saying that bullying must be fought by any and every reasonable means at educators’ disposal. Anti-bullying policies and laws that are currently in place in all 50 states play an important part in this. But even more important is the education of children at home, where parents need to instill in their kids Christ’s golden rule from Matthew 7:12: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” This underscores the Christian principle that every human being, no matter what sexual identity they present, is a precious creation of God that deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.With that being said, do single-sex bathroom policies contribute to an “unsafe” environment for students who identify as transgendered, as the reporter asserts? The Obama administration’s solution to this perceived problem was to require schools to implement the following policy for restrooms and locker rooms: “A school may provide separate facilities on the basis of sex, but must allow transgender students access to such facilities consistent with their gender identity.”It remains unclear how this policy would have achieved its goal of mitigating bullying. For example, if a biological male who identifies as a female felt uncomfortable going into the boy’s restroom because of the potential bullying he would receive from other boys, how could he reasonably expect to feel safer if he were instead to go into the girl’s restroom? In the latter situation, the girls already in the restroom may feel (at the very least) uncomfortable or possibly threatened, which would lead to a less safe situation for everyone involved. How is this in any way a desirable outcome?A common-sense solution to this situation is for schools to provide a third gender-neutral bathroom option. This solution is endorsed by the National Association of School Psychologists in a study entitled “Safe School Environments for Transgender Students.” In the study, students at a school near Chicago who identified as transgendered gave positive feedback on gender-neutral facilities: “Students revealed that having more gender-neutral facilities eliminated tardiness and having to go to an opposite area of the building to use the bathroom during classes. Students also said that the private locker room felt safer than having to share it with nontransgender students…”To be clear, all schools were free to implement the bathroom policies that they deemed appropriate for the needs of their students, including gender-neutral options, before the Obama bathroom directive was handed down last year. There was never a need for this kind of “top-down” approach that infringes on the effectiveness of solving problems at the local level. By rolling back this misguided policy, the Trump administration is leaving states and school districts free to craft the policies that best protect their particular students’ needs.
With barely a murmur from the major news media, Washington, D.C. became just the sixth jurisdiction in America to legalize assisted suicide this past Saturday.As discussed previously, assisted suicide is an abhorrent illustration of how far we have fallen as a culture, where death can now be chosen as if it were a legitimate choice among a variety of medical options.It is therefore extremely disappointing, to say the least, that Congress did not use its Constitutional authority to block the D.C. assisted suicide legislation from becoming law through a joint resolution of disapproval.Congress can and must exert its constitutional authority to nullify this harmful and deeply flawed D.C. legislation, which undermines the dignity of human life, lacks commonsense safeguards against abuse, and endangers poor, sick, disabled, and elderly people.Although the D.C. law has already taken effect, doctors will not be able to prescribe lethal drugs for several months, possibly not until October, while D.C. creates the administrative forms, oversight, and studies for assisted suicide under their law.Congress’ latest spending bill funds the government until April 28 of this year. This gives Congress another chance to act to repeal the D.C. assisted suicide law by attaching a repeal provision to must-pass spending legislation, before patients begin to end their lives in our nation’s capital. We support Dr. Andy Harris (R-MD)’s efforts to that end.Assisted suicide is an inhuman act, pure and simple. It short-circuits the universal experience of death that every human being deserves at the natural end of their life. Further, anyone who has sat at the bedside of a dying person will tell you that death gives new meaning and insight into our humanity.One of the most beautiful recent illustrations of this was written for The New Yorker, of all places (a publication whose editorial board is almost certainly in favor of assisted suicide). Kathryn Schulz’s piece is a stunningly poetic and perceptive account of her experience of witnessing her father’s death. Here is an excerpt:Even so, for a while longer, he endured—I mean his him-ness, his Isaac-ness, that inexplicable, assertive bit of self in each of us. A few days before his death, having ignored every request made of him by a constant stream of medical professionals (“Mr. Schulz, can you wiggle your toes?” “Mr. Schulz, can you squeeze my hand?”), my father chose to respond to one final command: Mr. Schulz, we learned, could still stick out his tongue. His last voluntary movement, which he retained almost until the end, was the ability to kiss my mother. Whenever she leaned in close to brush his lips, he puckered up and returned the same brief, adoring gesture that I had seen all my days. In front of my sister and me, at least, it was my parents’ hello and goodbye, their “Sweet dreams” and “I’m only teasing,” their “I’m sorry” and “You’re beautiful” and “I love you”—the basic punctuation mark of their common language, the sign and seal of fifty years of happiness.One night, while that essence still persisted, we gathered around, my father’s loved ones, and filled his silence with talk. I had always regarded my family as close, so it was startling to realize how much closer we could get, how near we drew around his dying flame. The room we were in was a cube of white, lit up like the aisle of a grocery store, yet in my memory that night is as dark and vibrant as a Rembrandt painting. We talked only of love; there was nothing else to say. My father, mute but alert, looked from one face to the next as we spoke, eyes shining with tears. I had always dreaded seeing him cry, and rarely did, but for once I was grateful. It told me what I needed to know: for what may have been the last time in his life, and perhaps the most important, he understood.It is easy for those who have never experienced the death of a loved one to say that people should have a “right to die.” When real-life accounts of death come to light, assisted suicide quickly becomes unthinkable. Here is one final excerpt:Eventually, we decided that my father would not recover, and so, instead of continuing to try to stave off death, we unbarred the door and began to wait. To my surprise, I found it comforting to be with him during that time, to sit by his side and hold his hand and watch his chest rise and fall with a familiar little riffle of snore. It was not, as they say, unbearably sad; on the contrary, it was bearably sad—a tranquil, contemplative, lapping kind of sorrow. I thought, as it turns out mistakenly, that what I was doing during those days was making my peace with his death. I have learned since then that even one’s unresponsive and dying father is, in some extremely salient way, still alive.
Today the Washington Supreme Court ruled against Barronelle Stutzman, a florist who for years happily served her customer and friend Rob Ingersoll (who she clearly knew identified as gay), but could not in good conscience assist him in celebrating his same-sex marriage because it involved her creative talents and energies in furthering an activity she believed to be wrong. In response to this desire to honor her conscience, the Washington State government organs of “justice” teamed up with the ACLU to sue her for purported violations of nondiscrimination laws, putting her personal assets and home at risk as a result. Barronelle never asked for this controversy, but it was brought to her doorstep by activists who simply couldn’t live and let live, and she has stood strong through it. In its ruling today, the Washington Supreme Court first exposed its bias by spending a page and a half detailing the emotional toll on the same-sex couple, while spending a total of one sentence acknowledging similar harm to Barronelle (Hint: that toll is much more than one line’s worth). In addition to this discrepancy, there are major problems with the ruling. I want to focus on three of them. 1. The court got it wrong by concluding Barronelle engaged in discrimination The state high court clearly erred by rejecting Barronelle’s claim that she did not engage in sexual orientation discrimination but rather objected to a certain activity (participation in the same-sex wedding). In rejecting her argument, the court heavily relied on cases minimizing any status/conduct distinction (the idea being that limiting the behavior of a certain class is discriminating against that class—a “tax on wearing yarmulkes is a tax on Jews”). Minimizing that distinction is a big error in this case, however. What makes the tax on yarmulkes reprehensible is the fact that it really is a back-door way of targeting Jews. Barronelle is not trying to “sneak in” discrimination against LGBT people by declining to participate in their marriages. She’s happily served these same people for years!The court recognized she had no problem with “selling bulk flowers and “raw materials,’” for use in a same-sex wedding, and acknowledged “she would be happy to do” that in this case. The court seemed to miss how this shows her actions do not turn on whether the customer identifies as LGBT or not, but rather upon the specific activity she is asked to participate in, noting at one point it believes “[t]his case is no more about access to flowers than civil rights cases in the 1960s were about access to sandwiches.” But the court already acknowledged Barronelle was not turning away customers because they identified as gay, as a sandwich counter would turn away any African-American who walked in. Barronelle only wanted to not be involved in their weddings. Is the court not willing to accept this? There actually is a status/conduct distinction that’s important to this case, and the Washington Supreme Court errs in minimizing it and relying on dissimilar situations and precedents. While the court acknowledges that cases highlighting the status/conduct distinction exist (see footnote 6 at the bottom of page 16 of the opinion), it does not discuss or address them. Barronelle honestly and simply has a conscience objection to facilitating certain marriages, and nothing else. Courts, activists, and everyone else involved in this discussion need to recognize this. 2. The court hugely erred in rejecting Barronelle’s Free Speech claim Additionally, the Washington Supreme Court simply got it wrong in rejecting Barronelle’s Free Speech claim. Though beginning with soaring language probably meant to show its high regard for free speech, the court quickly puts a damper on the party, concluding her artistic creations are not “inherently expressive” protected speech. The court’s analysis has some gaping holes, however, as it heavily relies on Rumsfeld v. FAIR despite significant legal and factual differences with the present case. FAIR was an unconstitutional conditions case dealing with government funding—in the military, moreover—an area Congress has significant constitutional power to regulate. The Court in FAIR also noted the recruiting law does not force schools to accept members they did not desire, while nondiscrimination laws force complete compliance in admissions or service. FAIR is also distinguished because the case hinged on a funding conditions issue, while here, as in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale and Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Group of Boston, the primary issue is constitutional rights being pitted against nondiscrimination laws. The Washington Supreme Court gave inadequate attention to perhaps the most relevant case—Hurley—concluding it was “unavailing” to Barronelle simply because the Supreme Court in that case had recognized the parade organizing council was not a traditional public accommodation. But that was not the issue in Hurley; rather, it was whether there were constitutional rights in play that trumped any application of that state nondiscrimination law. On this point, the Hurley Court observed: “[w]hen the [public accommodations] law is applied to expressive activity in the way it was done here, its apparent object is simply to require speakers to modify the content of their expression to whatever extent beneficiaries of the law choose to alter it with messages of their own.” Thus, the Court concluded the application of the public accommodations law infringed on the parade organizers’ free speech, specifically the right to control the content of their message and be free from being compelled to speak a certain message. But the Washington Supreme Court skips all this analysis (indeed, the court mentions Hurley and Dale in Footnote 11 on the bottom of page 28, but sidesteps any discussion of how the federal constitutional rights in those cases trumped state law). The issue here is not, as the court believes, whether Barronelle’s business is the type that has “traditionally been subject” to nondiscrimination laws, but whether the First Amendment protects her as it did the parade organizer in Hurley. Barronelle’s expression should have been so protected, and the Washington Supreme Court erred in concluding it was not (oddly, it did so while spending several pages listing myriad examples of a variety of expressive activity which is protected—not all of which was more clearly “speech” than Barronelle’s activity). How it does this while at the same time quoting another Supreme Court case for the proposition that “[t]he government may not prohibit the dissemination of ideas that it disfavors, nor compel endorsement of ideas that it approves” is quite baffling. No same-sex marriage supporting florists are being threatened here. The state government is using the WLAD to go after those who disapprove of this “idea,” and the court goes along with this, while quoting a Supreme Court case which requires the opposite. The state high court concludes that the average observer of Barronelle’s action would not think it is meant to send any message and thus is not protected as “inherently expressive” activity. Yet one wonders how that same court would view the many who recently have protested President Trump in a variety of ways—most notably those refusing to design dresses for his family. I suspect they would most certainly believe that their actions were expressing a message. Would the Washington Supreme Court disagree with them if the issue arose as a legal question? 3. The ruling validated concerns that same-sex marriage and SOGI laws will be used to suppress religious liberty First, in its analysis which concluded that Barronelle engaged in impermissible sexual orientation discrimination, the court cites the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. The state court claimed that denying marriage licenses is equal to sexual orientation discrimination, a conclusion it now foists upon Barronelle in her religious liberty case. With more of these wedding-related religious liberty cases likely to come, this part of the ruling should be noted by those who said Obergefell would not be used against such dissenters, and would not affect religious liberty. Indeed, the Supreme Court itself said in Obergefell: “[f]inally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths . . . .” Apparently, that may not be true after all, if more courts and advocates adopt the reasoning of the Washington Supreme Court. Second, on the bottom of page 52, the court’s reasoning validates the concerns of those who have long been claiming that SOGI laws are incompatible with religious liberty. Even when it comes to the most heartwarming religious liberty claimant around (an elderly grandmother who served her LGBT-identifying friend for years but didn’t want to be involved in his wedding), her rights are no match for state SOGI laws—which, the state high court concludes, are backed by a compelling government interest accomplished through the least restrictive means. Those putting much faith in compromise solutions between religious liberty and SOGI advocates should reexamine their assumptions in light of this portion of the opinion. Despite this ruling, Barronelle may yet be able to obtain relief from the United States Supreme Court. Hopefully, that Court will take up her case and uphold her federal constitutional rights in the face of the Washington State government’s oppressive action and its state courts’ acquiescence in this injustice. In thinking about how the U.S. Supreme Court will treat this case, it is a reminder of how important it is to have Judge Neil Gorsuch, who is good on religious liberty, confirmed as a replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Meanwhile, we must not let what has happened to Barronelle at the state level happen to others at the federal level. This ruling is all the more reason for President Trump to protect religious liberty through executive action. Please join our petition effort calling for such protections.

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