November 19, 2015
Having spent two full days at the annual gathering of the Evangelical Theological Society, I’ve heard myriad comments from lecturers and participants along the following lines concerning where Evangelicals find themselves in contemporary American society:
“We live in a post-Christian culture.”
“We live in an era of great promise.”
“We are a minority and should ask for protected status.” (Yes, in a seminar I attended, this was seriously proposed.)
“The decline of our culture is inevitable.”
“The reasons for hope are great.”
As my friend Matt Anderson, founding editor of Mere Orthodoxy, said to me earlier today, in one profound sense, what difference does it make?
Of course, understanding the times gives us a map by which we can better communicate with the current generation, what the critical issues facing our country are, and how Christians can then persuade our contemporaries that the Gospel offers present and eternal hope and how God’s standards for society afford great blessing to everyone in it.
With that said, endless pondering over our position in society has become a near-closet industry among the Evangelical intelligentsia. It is only natural that in the wake of the Supreme Court’s fiat dictum on same-sex marriage this past summer, the continuing horror of abortion, genuine and growing threats to the practice of religious liberty, and other concerns as diverse as sex trafficking and domestic terrorism, that trying to understand how we are perceived, where our opportunities lie, where the dangers lurk, and how we speak winsomely, wisely, truthfully, and convincingly to our increasingly diverse society is not just appropriate but necessary, even imperative.
Yet meticulous and repetitive analysis removes our focus from where it should be—Christ and His Good News—and fosters a surfeit of gloom in some and a general sense of ennui in many. We are in a race for the glory of God (Hebrews 12:1-2). That race will not be won by continuous chin-pulling or hand-wringing but by discipline, speed, and agility harnessed in pursuit of a longed-for goal. For Christians, that goal is “the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14), a calling which includes reaching the lost, protecting the weak, and upholding human dignity.
So, by all means, let’s continue healthy reflection on the cultural canvas before us. But let us not become so immobilized that we don’t work to infuse it with the colors of life and joy offered by the living Savior. The “welfare of the city” (Jeremiah 29:7) and the souls of men require no less.
November 17, 2015
Since the 1990’s, The annual World Congress of Families has been bringing together thousands of people who come from all over the world, practice a diversity of religions, and speak a multitude of languages. Despite their differences, each participant has one important belief in common: the natural family is essential to society. These world congresses, which could be described as the Olympics of the family, have for decades been uniting scholars, activists, statesmen, and religious leaders to discuss critical issues relevant to the family. The most recent World Congress of Families, held in late October, was significantly more vibrant and aspirational than those held previously.
The reason for this optimistic change is the addition of 250 Emerging Youth Leaders in the Pro-Family Movement. Several years ago, the planning committee for the 9th World Congress of Families decided that they wanted to engage young people who are passionate about pro-family values, so they established a scholarship program for young people to compete for the opportunity to attend the congress. The Emerging Leaders selected to participate come from 40 countries, and are all working in their respective communities to encourage respect for marriage, life, and the family.
From testifying at the UN, to running their town’s pro-life organization, to beginning conservative activism on their college campuses, to counteracting the media’s liberal bias (among other notable endeavors), these scholars are doing work from small towns to national governments to support the family. At this year’s congress, many of these young people—who often feel as though they are alone in their values—were humbled and encouraged to meet other activists like themselves from around the world.
The World Congress of Families only lasted a week, but it was a watershed event for the Emerging Leaders, who are just beginning their careers. The contacts they made and experts they engaged with left a lasting impression which further motivated them to stand for the family. Throughout the week, each scholar worked on a project initiating an organization, website, or campaign that encourages the family. Within the next few weeks, the best project will receive funding and support from World Congress leaders so that the creator’s dream can come to fruition. Many believe the false notion that young people have abandoned conservative family values, but the passionate and vocal Emerging Youth Leaders who gathered in Salt Lake City, Utah this past month are a strong indication that the future of the pro-family movement is in good hands.
November 12, 2015
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This week at the National Press Club here in Washington, D.C., Baylor University’s Institute for Religion Studies held a fascinating seminar titled, “The End of Religion? An Essential Correction to the Secularization Myth.”
Led by Dr. Byron Johnson, who gave an outstanding lecture at FRC several years ago on how religious faith diminishes crime, the scholars who presented debunked the notion that religious faith is on the wane in the US or the world generally. They noted that more than 80 percent of the world’s population identifies with an organized religion. And in the US, the rise of the so-called “nones”— younger Americans with no professed faith — is a much more complex matter than is often present.
As Baylor professor J. Gordon Melton observed, “Are ‘nones’ to be equated with irreligious? That’s not the case. We have a large segment of the ‘nones’ who are atheists and irreligious, but we have a large segment that fall into (the) spiritual but not religious category. … The largest group are ones who say Christianity is not a religion.”
People long for the vitality of a rigorous faith, not simply some undemanding, self-created religion-of-choice. As William Voegli, writing in the Claremont Review of Books, says, “If and when people who turned to moralistic therapeutic deism for spiritual nourishment come to regard that creed as a starvation diet, they are likely to seek out, or return to, more fortifying alternatives. In that sense, the serious problem of replenishing moral and religious capital may prove to be self-correcting.”
Christianity is the one true “fortifying alternative.” It’s the only one that endures and fulfills, since it is grounded in the historic Person Jesus of Nazareth, Who claimed to be God in the flesh and the only way to the Father. That’s good news, especially since His claim possesses the advantage of being true.
Family Research Council
P.S. Many of the results of last week’s election were encouraging to conservatives. As FRC President Tony Perkins’ “Washington Watch” newsletter reported on Nov. 4, “If social issues are dead, you could have fooled U.S. voters … the enormous impact of issues like marriage and religious liberty” echoed throughout the nation. That’s why Molly Ball asserts in The Atlantic that “Liberals Are Losing the Culture Wars.” One thing is certain: Social conservatives are here to stay. Regardless of next year’s election outcomes, we’re going to keep both defending and advancing faith, family, and freedom in the public square.
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International Religious freedom-
Military Religious Freedom
Religious Liberty in the public square –
Federal funding of abortion
Human Sexuality (Homosexual/ gender issues)
FRC Events and Publications
Publications (booklets, Issue Analyses, Issue Briefs)
The Government Nondiscrimination Act is focused on preventing government discrimination at the state level. Like the First Amendment Defense Act at the federal level, states need to pass legislation now to protect individuals and entities from state discrimination on the basis of their beliefs in natural marriage.
As Millennials become more prominent in the workforce, companies are spending small fortunes researching their interests, from specific jobs to new products. Social science studies reveal that the Millennial generation is drifting away from traditional family values towards acceptance of all views as equally valuable. Even so, the strong sense of justice that most Millennials possess provides a glimmer of hope.
The purpose of the “Inequality Act” is to give special privileges to people based on homosexual behavior or based on gender identity dysphoria by adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” into a number of federal laws. These changes affect “any” provider of goods, services, and programs. This is sweeping legislation that does not provide any protections based on religion, even stripping individuals of a Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (“RFRA”) claim.
November 11, 2015
A simple “thanks” seems so insufficient today.
Today is the designated day where we show our appreciation for the men and women in uniform who have sacrificed in order to preserve freedom and protect our Union. It is most appropriate that these brave individuals are honored, and that we create a special holiday for them.
One day is insufficient to truly appreciate all that they have put on the line so that we can enjoy freedom and live in tranquility.
Some gave years. Years apart from their homes. Apart from their fiancé, or spouse. Apart from their families and children. Missing them. Wondering. Worrying.
Some lost limbs. Never again to travel around with the same abilities and mobility.
Some lost their best buddies. Some turned around and had a best friend fall lifeless into their arms.
Some lost memories of the past. Cherished moments forgotten, relatives and friends now unknown to them.
Some gave all. They paid the ultimate sacrifice. A life. For your freedom. For your happiness.
Freedom is a thing to be cherished.
To the brave men and women, past and present, who are members of the Armed Forces of the United States of America, we salute you.
Not just today, in this month of November, on Veterans Day. We appreciate you every day. We think of you often.
Dear Armed Services Member: You make us proud.
Thank you for your service.
November 6, 2015
This could be the beginning of a bad joke: What do a Palestinian sheikh, the Supreme Court, and an abortion center in Indiana have in common?
The answer: Life and death.
The Palestinian sheikh, Muhammad Salakh, is one of many Palestinian leaders urging Muslims in Gaza and the West Bank to slaughter Israelis. “Restrain the victim while others attack him with axes and butcher knives,” he said to his followers recently “as he brandished a knife in a sermon that was widely viewed within the territories. ‘Do not fear what will be said about you. Oh men of the West Bank, next time, attack in a group of three, four, or five. Attack them in groups. Cut them into body parts.’”
The “knife of jihad” has, thus far, led to “a dozen dead and at least 19 seriously wounded in 59 separate stabbing attacks, mainly in Jerusalem. Some 72 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces, including 45 who Israel said were involved in attacks and another 27 Palestinians killed in clashes between stone-throwers and security forces.”
Next, the Supreme Court: The Justices have agreed to “hear another challenge to the Affordable Care Act, this time to decide whether religiously affiliated organizations such as universities, hospitals and charities should be free from playing any role in providing employees with contraceptive coverage.”
“The court accepted seven cases from around the country, including one challenge involving the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington and the other from an order called the Little Sisters of the Poor, which runs homes for the aged,” reports the Washington Post.
The Post story excerpts an important comment by U.S. Circuit Judge Roger Wollman who, writing for a unanimous panel, “that the issue is whether the groups ‘have a sincere religious belief that their participation in the accommodation process makes them morally and spiritually complicit in providing abortifacient coverage. Their affirmative answer to that question is not for us to dispute.’”
Note the word “abortifacient.” This is not just about contraception, but about an Obamacare mandate that requires those with deeply held, faith-based objections to abortion to facilitate it. Abortion is a matter of life and death, and participation in it in any way would be heinous to millions of Christians in this country. It is wise the Supreme Court takes it seriously.
Finally, in South Bend, Indiana, that city’s last abortion center is shutting its doors—possibly permanently—tonight.
According to TV station WNDU, “Last June, the Indiana Department of Health moved to revoke the license of the Women’s Pavilion in South Bend citing numerous violations. Since then, the clinic has remained open as management appealed the license revocation. This week, the appeal was dropped on the day the clinic was scheduled to begin defending itself.”
Murder in Israel. Abortifacient drugs. The destruction of unborn life and the cruel abuse of their mothers.
All matters of life and death. All critically important. And all evidence that God-given human dignity matters wherever and however it is threatened.
The image of God we all bear is a thing of wonder. In the womb and outside it, all persons merit the protection of law and the respect of every culture. Christians must always bear in mind that their duty to safeguard life is a sacred one. Let’s never neglect it.
November 5, 2015
Remember Rachel Dolezal? She is the Caucasian from Montana who, identifying as a black woman, was a leader in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a professor of Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University before her parents revealed her true identity and she lost both positions.
You might also be familiar with Jewel Shuping. She is a North Carolinian woman who identified as a blind woman and thus, convinced a psychologist to sprinkle drops of drain cleaner into Shuping’s eyes so she would go blind. When interviewed after going blind, Shuping said she believes she “should have been blind from birth.” The world of psychology calls this body integrity identity disorder.
Most folks look at Rachel Dolezal and Jewel Shupping and are, understandably, deeply troubled by their decisions. In fact, many believe it is wrong for a person to portray himself as someone or something he is not, and it is wrong for a person to harm himself. Most folks would recommend psychological counseling for Dolezal and Shupping, in hopes that they cope with issues pushing them to refuse to accept their biological make-up.
Why, then, does the world applaud Bruce Jenner for identifying as a woman?
Bruce Jenner is just as confused as Rachel Dolezal, the color of one’s skin and the sex of an individual both being immutable characteristics. However, Dolezal and Jenner have been treated differently. While the world has rejected Dolezal and her claims, it has embraced Bruce Jenner. And, though Shupping’s identity disorder is different from that of Jenner, both are mutilating and manipulating their bodies in pursuit of how they identify and view themselves; but, this self-view is obviously not objective.
That said, skin color and sex are objectively determinable attributes, even before birth.
Walter Heyer is a spokesperson regarding transgender regret. He is a male who transitioned to a female and then stopped hormone treatments attempting to revert to his original gender. He now chronicles his story and the stories of those like him who have undergone surgeries and other medical interventions for gender identity dysphoria, only to realize that the reasons they struggle with their gender are not superficial—they are not healed by dealing only with the body. People with gender identity dysphoria need counseling, not surgical mutilation.
Mr. Heyer has also chronicled some of the things he learned along his journey, including the lack of ability to completely physiologically change a person’s sex and the increased risk of suicide in those who attempt gender change. Thus, it is important for parents, schools, and government leaders to endeavor to help individuals work through the reasons for their gender identity dysphoria, and to move toward acceptance of their God-given, natural sex.
Last week, one government leader, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), spoke out about her acceptance of her daughter, who is attempting to become a male. While Ros-Lehtinen is certainly correct in that it is “a tragedy that a great proportion of young people who pass through this transition are rejected by their families,” there should be a distinction made between acceptance and affirmation. Families must learn to accept the individual struggling with his or her identity, without affirming his or her decision to base their identity on subjective views of self, for example, by identifying as a different race, blinding themselves in pursuit of a disability, or undergoing gender transition efforts.
People, especially young people, need support from those who are willing to speak truth into their lives, which includes truth about their natural, biological identities.
November 5, 2015
Last week, news came out of China that its “one-child” population control strategy was being “abandoned.” This is ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE. The PRC has merely adopted a “two-child” policy. The entire institutional structure of coercion has been left in place, and the government will still require birth permits. Also, existing second children are not going to lose their non-person status.
That said, this relatively minor change is being forced on the central planners by the complete demographic cataclysm they have brought upon their own nation. See my colleague Rob Schwarzwalder’s excellent article in the Christian Post for background information.
The Communist Party is not going to relinquish coercive population control because this policy and its implementing apparatus lie at the core of the Chinese security state.
Lucy Hornby discussed a different aspect of the news in her article for the FT Weekend entitled “Bleak Future for China’s Hated Family Planners.” It appears that forcing people to abort their children with violence, threats of familial torture, and demands for bribes is not the Dale Carnegie way.
I think Hornby’s fascinating article probably overstates the gravity of the threat to the population control bureaucracy. That said, there are some great observations describing the way the Chinese people feel about these population thugs. She notes that there are “millions of hated government officials” working at this. They cause “heartbreak” to the population by “enforcing abortions and sterilizations, meting out crippling fines and punishments…” Their actions include “even removing infants from their families on behalf of the state.” (It’s probably more like killing them on behalf of the state.)
She observes, “Family planning workers are not required to have any medical education – and they are hated.” Apparently, “[i]n the 1980s, when the forced abortion campaign was at its peak, hostility ran so deep that family planning officials travelled by convoy into villages where they were sometimes greeted with a hail of stones….” In social media, one person wrote an excellent question: “Why do we hate the Japanese army but not the family planning officials?”
And, of course, the officials are incredibly corrupt. Bureaucrats have to grant permission to have even the first child. Villagers are “fined” arbitrarily for random infractions that can be leveraged for a bribe. In thirty-five years since 1980, the government has accumulated $315 billion (with a “b”) one analyst estimates. That is a massive amount of money given the poverty in China’s rural areas, and the money has never been audited.
The expert Hornby consulted believes the whole system will be terminated in three years. We shall see. I have my doubts. It is hard to imagine a bureaucracy this evil going softly into the night.
Clearly, the “two-child” policy makes no sense, and the legitimacy of the program has been shattered. An American administration that cared about human rights might be able to push it over, but that would not be this cold-hearted, inhumane administration. That will have to wait until 2017.
October 30, 2015
“A person’s a person, no matter how small!”
Many children grow up reading Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who, the classic story of a brave elephant who works to protect the tiny people of Whoville from destruction. At the end of the tale, the Whos are saved because Horton believes he has a duty to protect those who can’t protect themselves. Horton famously states, “A person’s a person, no matter how small!” Though Dr. Seuss may not have intended it, this story teaches a timeless lesson on the value of life, no matter how small it is.
It is interesting that such a simple and eloquent pro-life statement was spoken by a fictional elephant. If only some Members of Congress would think like Horton and see the value inherent in all lives. If only they would see that a child is a child no matter how small and that we all have a duty to protect life from those who wish to take it away.
There was a time when the abortion industry thrived on the lie that life does not begin at conception, and therefore an abortion does not kill a child. However, science caught up and debunked this claim, so next the industry took refuge in the belief that unborn children do not feel pain, which has now also been disproven. Now, with their foundation crumbling beneath them, the abortion lobby has elected to ignore the life matter altogether and focus on women’s rights (or, as was the case during a recent Planned Parenthood hearing, the need for gun control, better sex education, and various other off-topic subjects).
According to Planned Parenthood supporters at the hearing, the investigation into the abortion giant’s alleged illegal activities is nothing more than a campaign against the “right of a woman to choose what to do with her own body.” Based on this false characterization of the effort to bring the truth to light, Planned Parenthood has done nothing wrong – that is, if you don’t count selling body parts for profit (which is illegal according to 42 U.S. Code § 274e), the daily butchering of innocent babies, failing to report on victims of rape or incest, endangering and permanently injuring their patients, and continuously profiting off government funding, just to name a few examples of the harm this organization does.
Just to be clear, I believe in and support women’s rights—the right to vote, to bear arms, freedom of speech, and all those rights specifically laid out in the U.S. Constitution. Killing an unborn child via abortion is not a human right, but the right to life is. We must also recognize the predatory nature of the abortion industry: Women experiencing great difficulty are exploited by those purveying the death of an unborn little one for profit.
Moreover, if pro-abortion activists want women’s rights protected, shouldn’t that protection extend to women in the womb? Thousands of voiceless girls have lost their lives as others have spoken for them, but thankfully, there are women who choose to hear and protect the vulnerable ones they carry. Brianna was one of these voiceless girls.
When Brianna was in her mother’s womb, she was diagnosed with gastroschisis, a defect in which the developing abdominal wall does not close and thus allows internal organs—in Brianna’s case, her small intestine—to develop outside the body. Her mother’s doctor advised her to have an abortion, saying it would be “kinder to terminate” the child than for Brianna to live a physically challenging life. By God’s grace, Brianna’s mother believed her child was a “person, no matter how small” and chose to carry and deliver her child. Though the pregnancy and recovery was difficult, Brianna is a healthy, thriving eighteen year old woman today.
So what about Brianna? Did she, as a woman, get a say in whether she should be allowed to live or not? Unfortunately, in our nation, a person is only a person when she can survive outside the womb. If only we could remember that God made all people in His image and that they deserve to be protected, since “a person’s a person, no matter how small!”
Katelin Myers is currently an intern at Family Research Council and a senior studying Pre-Law at Liberty University. She was formerly the assistant program director at Greater Grace World Outreach and has spent time abroad in Asia and South America.
October 27, 2015
A decade or two ago, the homosexual movement began its long march through the public schools of the United States. Now, the transgender movement has begun to follow the same path. The issue exploded like a bombshell last May in the Fairfax County (Virginia) Public Schools, the nation’s tenth largest school district. That was when parents and taxpayers first learned of plans to add “gender identity” to the school system’s “non-discrimination” policy — meaning that “transgender” students of any age would be able to choose whether to use the boys’ or girls’ restrooms and locker rooms and which sex’s sports teams to play on.
Hundreds of angry citizens turned out at a School Board meeting to protest, but their complaints fell mostly on deaf ears, as the Board voted 10-1 with one abstention to approve the radical new policy. Then, within days, they also adopted a new curriculum to teach about transgender issues in the classroom (the timing was a coincidence, the Board claimed).
The Board passed the buck for the unpopular policies to the Department of Education, which has threatened school districts with a loss of federal funds ($42 million annually to the Fairfax Schools) unless they treat the statutory prohibition on sex discrimination to include “gender identity.” Soon, however, Board members will answer to a higher authority — the voters. A number of candidates opposed to the new transgender policies are challenging incumbents in the Fairfax County School Board elections next week. It’s crucial for pro-family voters to turn out and send a message that they do not want to be governed by sexual radicals and federal bureaucrats.
Last night, FRC Senior Vice-President Rob Schwarzwalder joined FCPS Board Member Elizabeth Schultz at a forum discussing the biblical view of parents and education (Schwarzwalder) and the stakes involved in the upcoming election (Schultz). Watch their presentations here.
October 27, 2015
It’s White Ribbon Against Pornography (WRAP) Week! The purpose of WRAP Week, which is October 25th thru November 1st, is to inform the public about the harms of pornography, and to advocate for decency. After all, George Washington said, “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.”
But, we live in a broken world.
According to CovenantEyes, the pornography industry generates $13 billion each year in the U.S., and internet porn alone is a $3 billion a year business. Even 64% of Christian men and 15% of Christian women say they watch porn at least once a month. While the problem with pornography may begin with the objectification of individuals made in the image of God, it does not end there. Studies show individuals who are unfaithful to their spouses are more than three times (that’s 300 %!) as likely to have looked at pornography.
Pornography is like a “gateway drug” to sexual anarchy.
Unfortunately, pornography’s effects are far-reaching. Not only is the individual’s brain affected by viewing pornography, but their relationships are subsequently affected as well. In fact, CitizenLink reports that 56% of divorce cases involved “one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites,” and “68% involved one party meeting a new love interest over the Internet.”
CovenantEyes also reports the average age of a male’s first exposure to pornography is twelve, and nine out of ten boys are exposed to pornography before they turn eighteen. This places a significant burden on parents to be aware of their children’s use of technology, especially considering one in five mobile searches are for pornography.
A biblical sexual ethic is not achieved through passivity; it must be fiercely pursued.
This pursuit begins in the private use of phones, tablets, and computers, and extends to interpersonal relationships. Based on statistics, the more rampant the use of pornography, the greater a person’s tendency toward infidelity, and the more likely a couple is to divorce, breaking families apart. After all, actions have consequences, and those consequences involve deep wounds for the families and communities that surround the unfaithful.
The family is the cornerstone of society. As families crumble because of unfaithfulness, society suffers the consequences of children raised with trust issues, in homes without mothers or fathers. Every child deserves to be raised in an intact, biological family unit. Not only does the child benefit, but the entire family benefits economically, socially, and otherwise.
So, when temptation raises its pornographic and unfaithful head, remember that God provides a way out of tempting situations (I Cor. 10:13); and, it is the duty of believers to run in search of that way out, rather than sitting passively as temptation knocks at the door. In today’s culture, fidelity is not an easy path, but with God all things are possible.