FRC Blog

11 Reasons Why Assisted Suicide Must End

by Daniel Hart

July 26, 2017

A measure legalizing assisted suicide in Washington, D.C., which was recently passed by the city council and signed by the mayor, has now officially taken effect as of July 17. Thankfully, the federal government has jurisdiction over the District’s laws, and the House Appropriations Committee has advanced a measure that would repeal the assisted suicide law. Republican congressman are currently working to include this measure in an upcoming must-pass omnibus bill that will ultimately need House and Senate approval and a signature by President Trump before D.C. can once again return to sanity on this issue.

D.C. now joins six states (California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington) that have legalized assisted suicide. In a culture increasingly awash in the narcotic of moral relativism, let’s review why assisted suicide is such a grievous blow to our shared humanity and to common sense in general.

1. New cures and treatments for diseases are constantly discovered. Congressman Andy Harris (R-Md.) made this point while proposing the amendment to repeal the D.C. assisted suicide measure: “New, stunning cures in medicine occur each and every day. Encouraging patients to commit suicide deprives them of the opportunity to potentially be cured by new treatments that could ameliorate their condition and even add years to their lives, if not cure them completely.”

2. Taking lethal drugs is cheap and easy. Committing assisted suicide is a much cheaper alternative (about $300 on average) to often highly expensive (and sometimes experimental) medical treatments and procedures that can potentially extend the lives of (or cure) those who are gravely ill. It should go without saying that money should be no object to extending or saving someone’s life. But apparently it is, according to health insurance companies in states where assisted suicide is legal, who would rather cover cheap lethal drugs than more expensive medical treatments that could potentially extend or save lives.

3. Doctors are often wrong about predicting how long a patient has to live. As with assisted suicide measures in other states, the D.C. law stipulates that only those with six months or less to live can get a lethal medication prescription. But doctors admit that it is very difficult to precisely determine how long a patient has left to live, and they are often surprised by how long patients outlive their diagnoses, or in some cases recover completely. It is also important to note that there are numerous types of cancer that will immediately mean that a patient has “six months to live” if the cancer is left untreated. In other words, many patients with six-month diagnoses could just as easily be cured from their cancer after treatment, meaning that assisted suicide policies create a whole patient subset who do not have a terminal illness that can still legally commit suicide.

4. It corrupts the patient-doctor relationship and the Hippocratic Oath. Every patient deserves to have trust in their doctor that they will do what’s best for their health. When a doctor recommends suicide, it is an inhuman violation of the implicit trust that a patient should have in their caretaker. In the Hippocratic Oath commonly taken by doctors, the primary rule is to “do no harm.” Recommending assisted suicide is the most grievous breach of this oath.

5. Assisted suicide limits patients’ access to high quality care. Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Oh.), a doctor, related the story of one Oregon resident with prostate cancer who applied for an expensive form of chemotherapy through the state-run healthcare system that his doctor had recommended. He was denied the treatment; he instead received a letter from the state of Oregon offering to pay for his assisted suicide.

6. It preys upon the weak and vulnerable. Those who are terminally ill are understandably in a very fragile mental state. This makes them more vulnerable to give in to the “compassionate” advice of family members and doctors to end their lives, convincing them that they are creating a monetary and psychological “burden” on their families. Assisted suicide also gives those people who value money over the lives of their family members a convenient way to kill them off.

7. It is a violation of equality before the law. As Ryan Anderson has written, “Classifying a subgroup of people as legally eligible to be killed violates our nation’s commitment to equality before the law—showing profound disrespect for and callousness to those who will be judged to have lives no longer ‘worth living,’ not least the frail elderly, the demented, and the disabled.”

8. Comforting those who are dying is actually life-affirming. Numerous accounts of families drawing closer together around the bedside of a dying family member abound. Here is just one that I found particularly moving. Here is another one from a woman who worked on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, illustrating the fact that standing up against assisted suicide does not have to be a partisan issue.

9. “Until the day we take our last breath, we have something to offer.” Rep. Wenstrup learned this lesson when he examined an AIDS patient in 1985, who died the next day. “He taught me something for a lifetime on his last day,” he said. The man told Wenstrup that he was the first person to fully examine him, because everybody else was too afraid to because of his mysterious disease (at that time). Wenstrup learned a valuable lesson about the dignity of every human life from this man, and what it must feel like to be cast aside and rejected by your fellow man.

10. Human life is cheapened in the minds of everyone. When we declare a certain category of people as not worthy of life, we as human beings begin to doubt the value of human life in general. This phenomenon has been verified statistically in a study in Oregon, Washington, and Vermont, where assisted suicide is legal. After these laws were passed, the suicide rate amongst the general population went up in all three states.

11. Everyone is needed. In the words of Rep. Wenstrup (who gave a superb policy lecture about assisted suicide at FRC headquarters): “With laws like this [assisted suicide laws], we promote the idea that you just aren’t needed here, and I think that’s hurting America across the board … As we go forward, we have to continue to discuss how important every life is, and the positive effects that you can have even in your struggles, not only for yourself, but for those around you. Life brings us together, and so does death; and I believe that until you take that last breath, you continue to give. And then who you were continues to give, forever—that will never perish. We need to take a long hard look at who we are as a society and what we want to be, where we want to go, what’s important to us. I imagine everyone that’s listening today hopefully feels that they have some value. You do have value. You need to feel necessary. We need to talk to each other, and tell each other how necessary each one of us is.”

In concluding his lecture, Rep. Wenstrup related a true story he read in which the author was offered a sandwich by a homeless man while he was hitchhiking. “[The author] didn’t know what to say. He accepted it … What that [homeless] gentleman was doing was making himself needed. Everyone is needed. Everyone plays a part in our lives, and we need to respect that, and hopefully [on the issue of assisted suicide] we can drive that home, because we’re all better served if we value human life and emphasize its importance each and every day.”

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Backpage.com and Human Trafficking: What is Christian America’s Response?

by Mary Beasley

July 24, 2017

Recently, a large amount of evidence was uncovered revealing that Backpage.com has been facilitating prostitution and child sex trafficking through the promotion of ads posted on its website. For years, Backpage has absorbed and dissolved accusations of these crimes by various non-profits and congressmen. They have dodged several lawsuits, many involving murders of young women who were victimized and trafficked through ads placed on their website. Similar to Craigslist, Backpage allows its users to post ads and sell various items, including sex ads.

Backpage hosts ads through its “Dating” section showing scantily clad women and underage teenagers in explicit images, offering, for example, to “Let a young babe show you the way” or “Little angel seeks daddy.” This has been a huge source of controversy. In years past, Backpage has cited the Communications Decency Act in its defense, which protects websites that display ads posted by a third-party, whether by another website or person.

Backpage hired an ad agency from the Philippines that specifically searches for advertisements concerning sex. This website looks for these ads on various websites and offers advertisers the opportunity to re-post on Backpage for free.

However, recent evidence suggests that Backpage has edited these advertisements to use less-suggestive or explicit words. Since Backpage has interfered with the advertisement process, the immunity previously provided by the Communications Decency Act could be null.

A mother whose daughter was trafficked on Backpage at the age of 15 was among some of the women who have lost lawsuits against Backpage for trafficking and prostitution charges. Her daughter was trafficked on Backpage for nearly 3 months. “I find it morally disgusting,” she said. “Not only are they exploiting young women that are clearly vulnerable, but they’re furthering their exploitation by putting them on another website. It just shows the lack of morality of this company, how little they care about the victims. Which child is going to be enough to make this end?”

In recent years the subject of human trafficking has gained more traction. Yet, many Americans have little understanding of where and how trafficking begins. The stereotype is that trafficking is mainly a problem in third-world countries, yet many do not consider how American people are involved in and even continue the cycle of trafficking.

Last summer, I spent some time working with a small ministry that cares for victims of sex trafficking in the heart of inner-city Akron, a city in Ohio of less than 200,000 people but with one of the highest drug overdose rates in the country and a hub for human trafficking. When I heard these statistics, I was shocked. I grew up near Akron and had no idea that human trafficking was happening anywhere close to where I grew up or was even an issue in America at all.

The ministry is stashed away in the same area where women are picked up off the streets, prostituted, and trafficked. This involves a deep, dark cycle between the victim and a pimp, who oftentimes forces drug-use and uses fear-tactics to falsely create an attachment in the relationship. The victim submits to the control of the pimp again and again, until it is all she knows and the only way she understands how to survive.

The women involved in this ministry harbored horror stories. Some women come to the ministry simply for free health and hygienic supplies. Some women would return simply for a gentle hug and smiling face.

Written on their faces is the pain of violence and shame of what they have had to suffer. One woman returned again and again to a Bible study we hosted, sometimes with black eyes which were often bloodshot and glazed over. Some women suffered broken ribs.

Not only does forced prostitution take an obvious toll on the body physically, but the emotional, mental, and spiritual effects are widespread. Victims of trafficking often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by harrowing experiences that often include violence, forced captivity, control, and fear. Mental symptoms of PTSD are manifestations of deep emotional wounds that are difficult to heal. How does a woman who has been victimized by sex trafficking learn how to view herself as a free and independent woman after such a traumatizing experience? It is not simply knowing she is free, but changing thought patterns which have been embedded in her mind, telling her that her worst fears are true: she is insignificant, she is invaluable, she is unforgivable, she is unchangeable, she is unlovable.

Many ministries which try to help solve issues with trafficking focus on the mental and emotional healing process, helping women recover from trauma and PTSD. However, a woman is not only defined by her physical or even emotional or mental health.

Jesus teaches us that the root of a person lies on a spiritual level. When asked how to inherit eternal life, Jesus answered, saying “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind…” (Luke 10:27). Jesus desires that we love Him with our whole person: with our heart’s desires, our soul’s reliance, our physical strength, and our mental capacity. All of these components are involved in the development of our relationship, commitment, and fellowship with Jesus. It is where our love for Him blossoms and strengthens. Commitment to Him is not simply spiritual, it is holistic: divine intervention within our humanness. God created us with a beautiful multiplicity and a unique capacity for love. The multiple facets of our human condition are unified in our worship and submission to His will.

The trafficking of children and adults is a direct attack on this holistic concept of personhood that is rooted in Jesus’ love. The victim’s personhood is undermined at every level—physically, mentally, emotionally, and, ultimately, spiritually. Therefore, the battle against human trafficking is ultimately a spiritual one. In Luke, right after Jesus commands us to love Him with our whole person, He commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Unfortunately, human trafficking is not only present in third world countries—it is right at our doorsteps here in America. Loving our neighbors means establishing, renewing, and refreshing their concept of personhood—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—in the love exhibited by Jesus’ teachings and, ultimately, His work on the cross. The controversy involved with Backpage is not simply a matter of the law, it is a matter of people’s personhoods being taken advantage of and being broken down and dehumanized into a purely sexualized image, exacerbated by a culture immersed in pornography.

Regardless of what Backpage did or did not do, they’re dabbling in a dark field through the dissemination of sex ads. These ads perpetuate the cycle of prostitution and trafficking. It is our responsibility as Christians to respond and to battle back against this scourge. The cycle of trafficking can be broken. These victims can be reached, healed, and reestablished as whole people through a holistic and complete concept of personhood through Jesus Christ.

Mary Beasley is an intern at Family Research Council.

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No, Rev. Barber, Prayer for a President Is Not “Heresy”

by Travis Weber

July 20, 2017

The Reverend William Barber from North Carolina made news this week by claiming in an interview on prayer for President Trump that it “borders on heresy when you can p-r-a-y for a president” while they are “preying” on others. This, in his view, is “violating the most sacred principles of religion.”

Assuming Reverend Barber looks to the Bible as his spiritual authority, I would suggest that the “principles of religion” demand the exact opposite—they actually require the Christian to pray for all leaders. Indeed, if this borders on heresy, a portion of the New Testament may be heretical.

1 Timothy 2:1-3 says: “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior” (emphasis mine).

This command is non-negotiable for every Christian; it doesn’t matter if we agree with the leader or not—as several ministers recently pointed out in rebuttal to Barber. Not all may have voted for President Trump, but he now is the president, and we all should hope and pray that he brings blessing to our nation. Similarly, not all may have voted for President Obama—I was in the camp who did not. But once he became president, it became a requirement of me and every other Christian who did not vote for him to nevertheless pray for the president to do well in God’s sight.

Christians should always speak truth to power. Yet we can do this while we also pray for God to bless the nation through the leaders he has appointed over us.

Reverend Barber and I do see eye to eye on one overarching point—that faith should inform the public life of our nation. We agree that it is proper for a minister, pastor, or theologian to offer their views in the public square. Reverend Barber is doing this, and so do I. In that sense, he is a religious liberty advocate just like myself.

While Christians may differ on the application of that faith, we still agree that it should speak to our society—as opposed to those who think religion has no role in the public square at all. Rev. Barber and I would both say they are completely wrong. Let both his and my supporters unify on this point, for Christianity has much with which to benefit and bless our nation. Regardless of our differences on how it is applied, we should rally together to defend its place in the public life of our nation.

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Social Conservative Review - July 17, 2017

by Daniel Hart

July 17, 2017

Dear Friends,

In last week’s message, I discussed the growing problem of hostility to Christianity that many Americans have faced over the last 15 years and continue to face now, despite living in a free democracy.

It’s important to remember that this problem is by no means limited to the U.S.—other freedom-loving countries are also showing disturbing anti-Christian trends. In a recent survey conducted in the U.K., it was revealed that an astonishing 93 percent of Christians “believe that their faith is being marginalized in British society today.” The results were published by Premier Christian Communications, after 12,000 “ordinary Christians” took part in the survey. Commenting on the survey results, Premier CEO Peter Kerridge said that “it is ‘clear’ that the U.K. does not have the ‘liberal accepting society’ that it believes it does ‘if we don’t tolerate and accept everyone, including Christians.’” In just the past year in the U.K., a Christian nurse was fired for speaking about her faith and praying for patients, two Christians were convicted of disorderly conduct and fined for preaching on the streets, and numerous Christian schools were given downgraded statuses by the leading education watchdog group for their teachings on homosexuality and other religions.

FRC will continue to fight for the freedoms of all believers to live out their faith freely in the public square, with the hope that Christians of all nationalities will also fight for their rights. Christ’s words will forever be our guide: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.

Sincerely,

Dan Hart
Managing Editor for Publications
Family Research Council

 

FRC Articles

It’s Time to Clean Up Our Elections – Ken Blackwell

Doctors Across The World Are Fighting To Treat Charlie Gard. Will The UK Let Them? – Arina Grossu

Where Are The Decent Liberals?Ken Blackwell

The Serpents are SurfacingKen Blackwell

Movie Review: “Alison’s Choice”Lauren Hand

Those with Gender Dysphoria Can Find Healing Peter Sprigg

No Fear: Coach Kennedy’s Steadfast FaithEmma Gibney

Release Charlie GardArina Grossu

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

Has a Civil Rights Stalwart Lost Its Way? – Ben Schreckinger, Politico Magazine

Cakes and Consciences: The Case of Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop – Nathanael Blake, Public Discourse

The Urgency of Restoring the Biblical Values of America’s Founders – Arthur Goldberg, Public Discourse

Passion for Equality – Mark Movsesian, First Things

The Pelvic Left Attacks an Innocent WomanAustin Ruse, Crisis

The Media’s Use of This ‘Hate Group’ Label Puts Conservatives’ Safety at Risk – Katrina Trinko, The Daily Signal

Religious Freedom Advocates Fire Back After ‘Hate Group’ Smear Over Jeff Sessions Speech – Fred Lucas, The Daily Signal

International Religious Freedom

93 Percent of UK Christians Feel Their Faith Is Marginalized, Survey Says – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post

Orthodox Jewish girls school faces closure for refusing to teach children about homosexualityBrandon Morse, TheBlaze

The New Totalitarian Laws of CanadaJohn Paul Meenan, Crisis

Chinese Nobel Prize winner dies in prison, first since the Nazi regimeChinaAid

Military Religious Freedom

US Army Tells Female Soldiers to ‘Accept’ Having Naked Men in Their ShowersSamuel Smith, The Christian Post

Work Hard, Pray Hard’: Retired General Reveals the True Path to Inner PeaceErik Rosales, CBN News

 

Life

Abortion

Video: Stephanie Gray: “Abortion: From Controversy to Civility”Talks at Google

Stunning images from inside the womb show that human life begins at fertilization – Becky Yeh, Live Action News

Oregon poised to make abortion freeSamantha Gobba, WORLD

Abortion Fanatics Don’t Want Choice, They Want Fewer BabiesMollie Hemingway, The Federalist

Bioethics

Parental and Governmental Authority in Medical Decisions: The Tragic Case of Charlie GardMelissa Moschella, Public Discourse

Je Suis Charlie, Once MoreR.R. Reno, First Things

Basic Bioethics: How to illuminate the Christian perspectiveJoe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Obamacare

Needed pro-life protections in potential healthcare legislation – Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Obamacare Is Causing Insurers To Delay Surgeries Patients Need – Richard Menger, The Federalist

Bringing Senate Conservatives and Moderates Together on Health-Care Reform – Michael F. Cannon, National Review

 

Family

Economics/Education

How to Find Hope in the Humanless Economy – Kevin Brown and Steven McMullen, Christianity Today

Here’s How Anti-Conservative Academic Discrimination Works – David French, National Review

Jobs Report Stronger Than Expected, but More Must Be Done to Boost the Economy – Timothy Doescher, The Daily Signal

Here’s Why So Many Republicans View America’s Colleges And Universities Negatively – Gracy Olmstead, The Federalist

Is California anti-family? – Joel Kotkin, Orange County Register

Think Tank: Reconsider Caring For Your Kids Because Money Matters Most – Gracy Olmstead, The Federalist

Marriage

5 Long-Time Married Couples Share Their Secrets to a Happy MarriageJenna Jonaitis, Verily

Married People Have More SexNathan Yau, Flowingdata

Premarital counseling can decrease divorce rates, psychologist saysLaren Hanson, The Daily Universe

Michigan couple, both 99, celebrates 80th wedding anniversaryEliza Murphy, Good Morning America

The 4 Crises Every Marriage Must Make It ThroughPaul Carter, The Gospel Coalition

The Adult Children of Divorce Find Their VoiceLeila Miller, Family Studies

Faith/Character/Culture

Why Is God So Hidden?J. Warner Wallace, BreakPoint

Can Ethnicity Become a Straitjacket?Mike Tong, Desiring God

Don’t be Uncle Rico: A moral snatched from Napoleon DynamiteTod Worner, Aleteia

Hospitality Is Not Just for HomeBethany Jenkins, The Gospel Coalition

What Makes Humans So Special?Matt Nelson, Word On Fire

Want to Lead a Happier Life? Be More Generous, Study SaysBrandon Showalter, The Christian Post

Human Sexuality

Symptoms, Causes and Loving Those with Same-Sex AttractionCarrie Gress, National Catholic Register

Doctors Admit They Don’t Know Which Kids Should Gender Transition But Do It To Them AnywayWalt Heyer, The Federalist

Husband, Lift Up Your EyesJohn Piper, Desiring God

Pediatrician: ‘Transgender’ ideology has created widespread child abuseMichelle A. Cretella, LifeSiteNews

Increase in extramarital sex leading to new STD epidemicFr. Mark Hodges, LifeSiteNews

Most Teens Aren’t Having Sex, and They Deserve More Support for That ChoiceAlysse ElHage, Family Studies

Oral sex spreading unstoppable bacteria – James Gallagher, BBC News

At issue: The push for gender inclusivity in toys – Chris Woodward, OneNewsNow

Human Trafficking

3 things to know about the human trafficking reportTravis Wussow, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Backpage has always claimed it doesn’t control sex-related ads. New documents show otherwise.Tom Jackman and Jonathan O’Connell, The Washington Post

Pornography

What Porn Did To Their Lives – Rod Dreher, The American Conservative

Seven Promises to Pray Against PornJ.A. Medders, Desiring God

Kay Warren: ‘I Struggled With Porn Fascination’ – Nancy Flory, The Stream

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Movie Review: “Alison’s Choice”

by Lauren Hand

July 13, 2017

The film  “Alison’s Choice” dramatizes a two-hour waiting period of a pregnant high school student while she awaits her abortion appointment. As Alison sits in the waiting room, she encounters God as a janitor, two other patients at the abortion facility, three medical staff, and a counselor. Alison speaks with God as He pleads with her to save her child, while revealing different reasons behind the problems in the world. As God converses with Alison, He also speaks with each one of the women in the waiting room in an effort to save them and their children. Alison asks God various questions about why He allows certain problems in the world to continue and why He is impeding on what she thinks is the “freedom” of her and the other girls at the facility to “simply live their lives.” God shows Alison her baby growing inside her womb and lets her know of His loving plan for them both.

Alison’s boyfriend Ricky, the father of the baby, is absent while she waits for her abortion appointment, and the time makes Alison reflect on their relationship. Ricky told her “to just get rid of it,” upon discovering that she was pregnant after pressuring her to have sex with him in the first place. God reveals He was present at each moment preceding Alison’s abortion appointment, and He recounts asking Ricky to “be a man” and to take care of Alison and their unborn daughter.

The medical staff at the center suspects that Alison is unsure about her abortion procedure, so they attempt to coax her. Alison first meets a counselor on staff at the center who encourages her to have the abortion because it “makes sense.” She then meets a married woman who has two children and believes she and her family are not prepared for a third, so she chose to have an abortion rather than telling her husband or her two other children she is pregnant. Alison then journeys beyond the waiting room to speak with an abortionist on staff as well as a nurse. The abortionist tells Alison that there is a “growing lump of tissue” inside of her, and it will inconvenience her and not allow her to go on with life.  The nurse is a single woman who is “celebrating” her 5,000th “termination” in her time in the abortion industry. She is delighted to not have a man or child to “serve” but instead carries three pictures of her cats around her neck who are her companions. The film then travels through various thoughts in Alison’s mind as she grapples with the life and death decision about her preborn daughter.  

The movie ends with Alison’s decision revealed. The film invites the audience to contemplate the realities that women and men face with an unplanned pregnancy. The rational moral consequences that can stem from the ordeal of abortion are made evident in the film through relatable characters. Despite some stereotypical moments, “Alison’s Choice” has a very plausible storyline and leaves the audience with an accurate representation of both the abortion industry and the difficult and often frightening reality of making decisions surrounding an unplanned pregnancy.   

Lauren Hand is an intern at Family Research Council.

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Those with Gender Dysphoria Can Find Healing

by Peter Sprigg

July 12, 2017

Last month, it was my privilege to attend the annual conference of the Restored Hope Network (RHN) in San Diego. The Restored Hope Network is the nation’s largest umbrella organization for Christian organizations engaged in “transformational ministry” with those who suffer from unwanted same-sex attractions (SSA). (It is often seen as a successor to Exodus International, an organization that shut down in 2013 after its leadership abandoned its original message that change is possible for those with unwanted SSA.)

LGBT activists in the San Diego area organized protests against the conference (although they did not turn out anything close to the 1,000 protesters they promised). Ironically, the protests had some positive effect—at least one person struggling with unwanted SSA who attended the conference said he would never have known about it if not for the publicity about the protests.

I was struck, however, by the sharp disconnect between what the protesters assumed was actually happening in the conference and what was actually happening there. As just one example, critics of “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE)—which they (not its practitioners) refer to as “conversion therapy”—often charge that such programs damage participants by instilling “shame” in them. The truth is the exact opposite—participants come into SOCE with shame, and a key goal of the counselling is to overcome and remove that sense of shame.

One thing striking about this year’s conference was the increased emphasis on issues of gender identity as well as sexual orientation—a clear reflection of the growing prominence of the transgender issue just in the two years since I last attended an RHN conference. Since RHN is an explicitly Christian organization, the twin issues of homosexuality and gender dysphoria (dissatisfaction with one’s biological sex) were both addressed by several speakers in the theological context of the “image of God,” as expressed in Genesis 1:27:

And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them.

In other words, our maleness or femaleness, and the complementarity of the two, is part of the “image of God” with which each of us is created by God. Linda Seiler, who struggled with gender identity issues growing up, said this means that “gender is sacred” and that “rejecting one’s God-given sex is rebelling against the Creator.” Speaker Nate Oyloe applied the concept to marriage, saying, “Divorce is the image of God, masculine and feminine, being torn apart.” Another speaker, who formerly lived a lesbian lifestyle and is now living a life of chastity, gave a personal testimony in which she declared, “I was born with a sinful and rebellious nature, but I was reborn in the imago dei (image of God).”

The highlight of the conference for me was seeing the world premiere of a new documentary film called TranZformed: Finding Peace with Your God-Given Gender. While the movement that believes sexual orientation change is possible has been around for decades, and numerous testimonies of those who have experienced change have long been available, until now only a few people have publicly come out as “ex-transgender” (the most prominent being Walt Heyer—see his website).

TranZformed, however, features the dramatic testimonies of 15 ex-transgender individuals who “bear witness to what Jesus Christ can do for those who struggle with gender dysphoria.” The film, which is over an hour long, was very professionally produced by Pure Passion Media, a ministry dedicated to “equipping the church to redemptively minister to those who are trapped in sexual sin and brokenness” (a focus which definitely includes heterosexual sin and brokenness, such as pornography addiction). In fact, two of the testimonies included in TranZformed are available on the Pure Passion website.

However, the DVD of the entire documentary is available for order at the TranZformed website. I highly recommend it for the dramatic personal insight it gives into the transgender issue.

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No Fear: Coach Kennedy’s Steadfast Faith

by Emma Gibney

July 11, 2017

Family Research Council recently released its June 2017 Edition of Hostility to Religion: The Growing Threat to Religious Liberty in the United States. This edition, compared to its inaugural edition in 2014, contains 69 new incidents of religious hostility. This equates to a 76 percent increase in under three years. It is essential to identify these patterns of hostility in order to protect religious freedom in the United States in the future. Equally, it is important that we honor those Americans who stood for their religious beliefs in the face of fear. In his book, No Fear, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins writes, “The only way to counter the fear of man is with faith in God, which provides the courage and the strength that God requires for His world-changing work.” While there are numerous stories to choose from, I will highlight one hero and his story from the Hostility to Religion report God is using for his “world-changing work.”

It was a typical fall Friday night in Bremerton, Wash., near Seattle. Coach Joe Kennedy knelt at the fifty-yard line and prayed after the game ended, like he did after every game since 2008 when he first took the position of assistant football coach at Bremerton High School. However, seven years later, on September 17, 2015, the school’s district superintendent barred Kennedy from praying after football games. Ironically, it was a compliment from one of the student’s parents that informed the superintendent that Kennedy had been praying after fans cleared the stadium after football games.

When hearing about Kennedy’s situation, religious liberty lawyers from First Liberty Institute got involved on his behalf and asked the superintendent to allow Kennedy to kneel in prayer after the students left the stadium. However, the superintendent rejected the request, stating it would be a “liability concern” and a violation of “separation of church and state.” Kennedy was banned from even bowing his head in prayer as a coach at Bremerton High School.

On October 21, Kennedy refused to bow to this infringement of his First Amendment rights and once again knelt down and prayed after the second-to-last football game of the season. Exactly a week later, he received a letter from the district superintendent that read, “Effective immediately, pending further District review of your conduct, you are placed on paid administrative leave from your position as an assistant coach with the Bremerton High School football program. You may not participate, in any capacity, in BHS football program activities.” Kennedy was suspended from the high school prior to the final game of the season and his contract was not renewed, which had the effect of permanently ending his time coaching the Bremerton High School football team.

On December 15, Kennedy filed a charge of religious discrimination against Bremerton School District with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). He argued the school district “violated [his] right to free exercise of religion and free speech by prohibiting [his] private religious expression.” The U.S. Department of Justice issued a right-to-sue letter to Kennedy on June 27, 2016. The First Liberty Institute then filed a formal lawsuit against the Bremerton School District on August 9, 2016, but his claims were rejected by the federal district court. Kennedy appealed this decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which held oral arguments in the case on June 12, 2017. We will have to continue to wait and see how this religious freedom case plays out in the courts.

In No Fear, Perkins declares, “Faith says, ‘I can do all things.’ Fear says, ‘What will they think of us? What will they do to us?” Kennedy let his faith speak louder than his fear of what man would do to him. He had faith that the Lord will carry him through this trial even after it cost him his career. Ultimately, man cannot harm him as the Lord is on his side. In the courts today, Kennedy is living out Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” He did not let his fear of man take precedence over his fear of the Lord when he continued to kneel in prayer after football games. I applaud Coach Kennedy for choosing to please God rather than man.

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Release Charlie Gard

by Arina Grossu

July 6, 2017

Arina Grossu, FRC’s Director of the Center for Human Dignity, delivered the following speech on July 6, 2017 at a press conference for #CharlieGard at the National Press Club.

Good afternoon and thank you for being here. We are encouraged by the outpouring of love and support that Charlie Gard and his parents, Chris and Connie have gotten from all over the world, in their quest to take Charlie out of the U.K. for nucleoside bypass therapy. They have already raised $1.7 million in private funds and they even had offers from a U.S. hospital for free treatment and also for him to stay at the Vatican hospital. We are encouraged that Pope Francis and President Trump have expressed support for Charlie and his family. President Trump has requested a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May at the G20 Summit in Germany tomorrow and a family spokesman said, “The White House has been in talks with Charlie’s family, GOSH, the UK Government, the Department of Health and the American doctor who wants to treat Charlie.”

The question at hand is not whether the treatment is going to work for Charlie, who has TK-2 related mitochondrial depletion syndrome. We hope that it does and we know that it has for others with less severe forms of mitochondrial depletion syndrome—others who are alive today as a result of their treatment. Why should Charlie be deprived of the same chance?

We urge the British government, the courts, and the hospital to release Charlie. You are holding him hostage. This is a case about parental rights coming into conflict with socialized medicine. Who should decide what’s in the best interest of Charlie? His parents. Not the courts. Not the hospital. Not the government.

As Wesley Smith so aptly put it, “The refusal to allow Charlie’s parents to remove their baby boy from the hospital is an act of bioethical aggression that will extend futile-care controversies, creating a duty to die at the time and place of doctors’ choosing. And that raises a crucial liberty question: Whose baby is Charlie Gard? His parents’? Or are sick babies—and others facing futile-care impositions—ultimately owned by the hospital and the state?”

It is Chris and Connie, his parents, who have the right to seek treatment for their son—treatment that has been successful for little Maxwell Smith, another British boy who was also diagnosed with TK2-related MDS. He was diagnosed at 9 months and treated with nucleoside bypass therapy. He is still alive at 5 ½ years old as a result. Doctors of another boy, Arturo Estopiñan, told his parents that there was no treatment and that he would die soon. Arturo is still alive today at 6 years old as a result of this therapy. Arturo’s parents said that their son “would surely be dead by now” if he was not granted access to the treatment. The therapy is a simple oral medication.

Please don’t deprive Charlie of a chance at therapy. Charlie’s parents have said in a tearful plea, “We’re not allowed to choose if our son lives.” They also said, “If he’s still fighting, we’re still fighting.”

Chris and Connie, please be assured that we join you in prayer and we support you in your right to parental authority.

We must protect the rights of parents to make decisions for their children’s health—decisions that are based with best interests in mind. We must protect Charlie, the most vulnerable person among us.

We are praying for you Charlie, Chris, and Connie at this most stressful time. You are not alone. You have supporters all around the world.

And to the U.K and Great Osmond Street Hospital, please free Charlie so that he can have a fighting chance at life. The world is watching and waiting for you to do the right thing and release Charlie to his parents.

Thank you.

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Social Conservative Review - July 3, 2017

by Daniel Hart

July 3, 2017

Dear Friends,

From its very beginnings, America has always been the destination of freedom seekers. Immigrants from all over the world have flocked to America’s shores in the hope of finding something that their own native countries often lacked, but which they knew in their hearts must be possessed by every human person: freedom.

But what is “freedom”? This is a debate that we continue to have as a country. As hundreds of U.S. citizens can attest, even a free democracy such as ours is prone to infringe upon the freedoms of its people unless it possesses a proper understanding of “freedom.”

Many think that freedom is simply the ability to choose whatever one wants. The problem with this thinking is that when someone chooses evil, it is not only bad for that person but also bad for everyone who is affected by that person’s evil choice. True freedom, in the words of one author, “is a calling to realize in ourselves what is true about us, a calling to actualize in us all what is true, good, and beautiful.” This Christian understanding of freedom is not constraining, as many argue. Rather, it is freeing. How? Because “the more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to ‘the slavery of sin.’”

The lightness of being and the joy that we experience when we freely choose good is a testament to God’s design for freedom. This Fourth of July, let us celebrate the true freedom that Christ has fashioned in our lives and in our great country.

Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.

Sincerely,

Dan Hart
Managing Editor for Publications
Family Research Council

 

FRC Articles

Report: Attacks On America’s First Freedom Increased 76 Percent In Three YearsTravis Weber

We Must Act While We Still CanTony Perkins

Trump, Congress Should Halt Transgender Military Policy that Costs BillionsPeter Sprigg

Supreme Court Delivers Big Wins for Religious FreedomTravis Weber

Abortion Activists are Still Trying to Put David Daleiden in Jail for Exposing Planned ParenthoodTony Perkins

Pentagon Transgender Agenda Won’t Improve Military Readiness, Costs $3.7 BillionTony Perkins

Trump Set to Follow in Gipper’s Footsteps, Making Work Center of Social Welfare PolicyKen Blackwell

FRC’s Updated Hostility Report Shows Religious Organizations on the Front Lines of the Fight for Religious FreedomChris Baldacci

School Board Rigs System for Transgender WinCathy Ruse

When Campuses Become Battlefields: Protecting Free Speech in a Hostile EnvironmentIan Frith

Taxpayer-Funded Transgender Tutorial for Schoolchildren TankedCathy Ruse

5th Circuit Rejects Effort to Take Down Conscience ProtectionsTravis Weber

10 Things Every New Father Should KnowDan Hart

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

Nonprofit Tracker Smears Dozens of Conservative Organizations as ‘Hate Groups’Rachel del Guidice, The Daily Signal

The Southern Poverty Law Center Bears False WitnessSamuel D. James, First Things

Supreme Court Rules 7-2: Yes, Christians Are Citizens TooKathy Schiffer, National Catholic Register

Missouri Tried to Discriminate Against a Church for No Good Reason. How the Supreme Court Leveled the Playing Field.Emilie Kao, The Daily Signal

Federal Judge Rules Cross Violates Law and Must Be RemovedToddStarnes.com

Prejudice and the Blaine AmendmentsPhilip Hamburger, First Things

Indiana Christian school at center of LGBT voucher debate – Brian Slodysko and Maria Danilova, The Washington Times

Mississippi can enforce LGBT religious objections law: court – Fox News

University to remove cross and Bibles from campus chapel – Todd Starnes, Fox News

Legal Radicals Don’t Want the ‘Separation of Church and State’ – David French, National Review

International Religious Freedom

Peru Fights Back Against Gender IdeologyVictor Gaetan, National Catholic Register

Russell Moore, Franklin Graham Orgs. Urge Trump to Tackle Severe Persecution of Sudanese ChristiansStoyan Zaimov, The Christian Post

Swedish Midwife to Fight for Rights at European CourtBob Paulson, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

 

Life

Abortion

New Study Shows Why Fathers Matter in the Abortion FightVincent DiCaro, Care Net

US Rejects UN Resolution Supporting AbortionThe Christian Post

This Is The New Face Of The Pro-Life MovementTorey Van Oot, Refinery29

Oregon House Democrats pass bill providing free abortions for all, including illegal aliensValerie Richardson, The Washington Times

Bioethics

Video: How Adult Stem Cells Helped Jackie Stollfus be a MomCharlotte Lozier Institute

Doctor: Insurance Wouldn’t Pay for Patients’ Treatments, but Offered Assisted SuicideKelsey Harkness, The Daily Signal

The Court-Ordered Killing of Charlie GardIan Tuttle, National Review

When the “Right to Die” Becomes a Death SentenceMatthew Archbold, National Catholic Register

Physicians Without Chests: On the Call to End Conscientious Objection in MedicineMichael D. Stark and Grace Stark, Public Discourse

Yanking Life Support From UK Baby Demonstrates Dangers Of Socialized MedicineNicole Russell, The Federalist

Obamacare

Americans Struggling Under Obamacare Tell Pence ‘Real Story’Fred Lucas, The Daily Signal

 

Family

Economics/Education

Why Genuine Liberal Arts Degrees Are A Perfect Fit For Today’s Uncertain Economy – Christine Goss, The Federalist

The Crisis of the Economic Right and the Case for Reform Conservatism – Max Bloom, National Review

DeVos Should Take on Education’s Reformocracy – Frederick M. Hess & Michael Q. Mcshane, National Review

From playgrounds to classrooms – Leigh Jones, WORLD

We’re having fewer babies. Could that kill the economy? – Ariana Eunjung Cha, The Washington Post

Marriage

Ruth and Boaz: A Romance That Models God’s Love for UsRay Vander Laan, Focus on the Family

Faith and Marriage: Better Together?W. Bradford Wilcox, Principles

The Most Important Text on MarriageDavid Mathis, Desiring God

As Wedding Costs Rise, Perhaps It’s Time to Invest More in Marriage PrepAmber Lapp, Family Studies

PTSD and marriage: Advice from someone who’s been therePatricia Eden, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Faith/Character/Culture

Why Can’t Americans Enjoy Life?John Horvat II, Crisis

A Map of the SoulMichael Egnor, First Things

The ‘Church’ of Facebook?Alex Duke, The Gospel Coalition

In Defense of DoubtRobert B. Greving, Crisis

Christianity: A Bargain That Will Cost You EverythingJoe Heschmeyer, Word On Fire

Human Sexuality

Problems with Puberty Suppression in Treating Gender DysphoriaPaul W. Hruz, Lawrence S. Mayer, Paul R. McHugh, The New Atlantis

The Transgender Agenda vs. the ScienceRick Fitzgibbons, The Catholic Thing

Same-Sex Attraction and Therapy: It’s Time to Let People ChooseArthur Goldberg, Public Discourse

German Parliament votes to legalize same-sex ‘marriage’Claire Chretien, LifeSiteNews

LGBT Mega-Donor Reveals Next Goal: ‘Punish the Wicked’ Gay Marriage OpponentsSamuel Smith, The Christian Post

Pornography

The Brain’s Delete Button: How You Can Erase Years Of Watching Porn – Fight the New Drug

Our Odyssey Against Sexual Temptation – Jimmy Needham, Desiring God

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FRC’s Updated Hostility Report Shows Religious Organizations on the Front Lines of the Fight for Religious Freedom

by Chris Baldacci

June 30, 2017

At most metro stops in D.C., workers give out free copies of the Washington Post Express to commuters. The week before Family Research Council published its updated report “Hostility to Religion: The Growing Threat to Religious Liberty in the United States,” the front of the Express was covered by a full-page advertisement sponsored by Catholics for Choice. It pictured a caricature of a bishop, pointing at the reader like Uncle Sam, with the caption, “We want YOU to help us discriminate.” On the inside flap, the ad chastised Catholic schools, hospitals, and charities that decline to offer birth control, abortions, or facilitate same-sex marriage, claiming that this is intolerable discrimination. These are not new allegations. Catholics for Choice ran a similar ad last year, and the ACLU hosts an “Issues” page that outlines their mission to fight organizations that use “religion to discriminate.”

The ability of organizations to operate according to their beliefs is an increasingly significant battleground in the fight for religious liberty. Bolstered by the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges and increased support for sexual autonomy among the public, liberal organizations are no longer content to see the government affirm the LGBT rights movement—religious groups must acquiesce as well.

FRC’s updated report highlights a few poignant examples of this opposition to the freedom of religious organizations:

  • In the last decade, Catholic Charities has lost millions in government contracts and sometimes shut down entire branches rather than act in violation of Catholic teachings about abortion or marriage.
  • A group of Christian colleges had to seek an administrative exemption in 2014 from an Obama administration regulation that would have barred them from requiring teachers to follow biblical teachings on sexuality. The schools faced protests and were lambasted in the media for their petition.
  • In 2015, a Catholic school was sued and settled out of court with a fired teacher that identified as homosexual. It was allegedly illegal for the school to require instructors to follow Church teachings concerning homosexuality.
  • Two separate religious hospitals were sued in 2017 and criticized for not offering gender reassignment surgery to patients who identified as transgender.

Beyond the pragmatic harm that lawsuits and boycotts inflict on organizations, these mounting attacks threaten the very heart of what it means to be a religious group. Religious convictions are the impetus for religious organizations. For example, belief in justice and mercy motivates charities and hospitals, belief in specific ethical and philosophical principles motivates religious schools, and religious nonprofits often advance a targeted worldview. For these institutions to abandon their principles would be to sacrifice the integrity of their mission. Yet the radical left has used its political and legal power to require them to do just that.

The aforementioned stories highlight the stunning hypocrisy of progressive activists’ attacks on religious freedom: amidst their cries for tolerance, they refuse to tolerate beliefs that they disagree with. They demand that religious institutions check their beliefs at the door and act according to the majority sentiment rather than the dictates of their faith. Moreover, it is the opponents of religious liberty who are “forcing their beliefs on others” by demanding that organizations comply with the progressive left’s beliefs that abortion is not murder, same-sex marriages can be sacrosanct, and those who identify as transgender should be fully affirmed in their chosen identity.

Our laws must safeguard the right of religious organizations to act on their beliefs. The free exercise of religion, as guaranteed by the First Amendment, does not simply protect the right to think or believe whatever we want (no one is going after our thoughts – yet). The First Amendment is special because it protects the right to act according to our beliefs, hence the term “exercise.” Thankfully, the Supreme Court has affirmed this principle in recent cases like Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which ruled that family businesses can opt-out of covering abortion-causing drugs and services if doing so violates their sincere religious convictions. Such decisions must become the norm to protect not only religious business owners, but religious organizations and religious liberty itself. Without the freedom to believe and act according to those beliefs, the freedom of religion is irreparably devalued.

To read more of the updated FRC report “Hostility to Religion: The Growing Threat to Religious Liberty in the United States,” please visit: http://www.frc.org/hostilityreport

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