FRC Blog

Our Founders Were Flawed, But Our Founding Ideals Endure

by Laura Grossberndt

July 3, 2020

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The United States of America is a nation founded on ideals, particularly ideals relating to the dignity of the human person. Unfortunately, the laws of our government and the personal lives of our leaders have not always perfectly reflected these ideals. For example, consider the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, who—despite penning the words “all men are created equal”—owned slaves. Such blatant moral failings and hypocrisies have led some to disparage America, the men who founded it, and even question the ideals for which the Founders stood. But the moral failings of men like Thomas Jefferson don’t automatically invalidate the ideals they claimed to espouse. Truth is truth, regardless of human behavior. But how do we know if the ideals Jefferson wrote about are true? Is there anything supporting them besides a purported “self-evidence”?

Jefferson and the rest of the Committee of Five charged with drafting the Declaration of Independence (John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston) were students of Natural Law theory. They believed certain things could be self-evidently true (that is, known through ordinary human reason and not needing further proof). But Christians should nevertheless evaluate such truth claims against Scripture, no matter how self-evidentially true they might seem.

Let’s put our deeply ingrained, patriotic feelings about the Declaration aside for a moment and ask ourselves: Are its underlying claims about human beings true? As Christians, we believe the standard of truth is God’s revealed Word. As self-evident as the truths of America’s founding documents may seem to those of us who have grown up in this country, we must examine its claims against Scripture, as we must do with any truth claim.

First, let’s take a closer look at the structure of the Declaration. It is comprised of five parts: an introduction, a preamble (providing a philosophical justification for separation), an indictment (a list of 27 grievances against the King of Great Britain), a denunciation (detailing America’s efforts to make peace with the British people), and a conclusion (asserting that the necessary conditions for declaring independence from Great Britain have been reached).

We will concern ourselves with the preamble, the most famous of the five parts. It provides the philosophical justification for American separation from British rule. Crucial to this justification are three truth claims about human beings, claims which the Declaration considers to be “self-evident”: 1) all men are created equal; 2) all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; 3) these unalienable Rights include Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Does the Bible support these claims? Let’s examine them one by one:

1. All men are created equal

While the Bible never says the words “all men are created equal,” Scripture tells us in clear, unambiguous language that all human beings have equal standing before God. We are all created by God (John 1:3) and made in His image (Genesis 1:27). We were all created out of dust (Psalm 103:14). Finally, we are all sinners and fall short of God’s glory and perfect standard (Romans 3:23). 

Scripture also tells us of God’s impartiality towards humans (Romans 2:11, Acts 10:34, Ephesians 6:9). As it is commonly said, the ground at the foot of the cross is level, and all come to God in need of His grace. He will redeem people from every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Revelation 5:9-10). Eternal life is available to anyone who believes (John 3:16). Thus, from the Bible’s point of view, all humans are indeed created equal.

2. All men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights

While the Bible never uses the phrase “unalienable Rights,” it does talk a great deal about our Creator. This is significant for our discussion because the Declaration purports that our inalienable rights proceed from our Creator. To put it another way, our Creator is the reason or grounds for why we have rights in the first place.

The Bible does tell us that our worth and dignity as human beings is directly contingent upon the identity of our sovereign, omnipotent Creator. Those who bear the Creator’s image (all humans) are due a certain type of treatment from their fellow image-bearers (one might even call this proper treatment “rights”). Such due treatment can be said to be “unalienable” in the sense that our status as God’s image-bearers cannot be taken away. To unjustly harm another image-bearer is an offense against the Creator (Psalm 51:4; 2 Samuel 12:9, 13). From these considerations, the Declaration’s claim of certain unalienable rights agrees with a Christian worldview.

3. Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness

According to the Declaration of Independence, all of us are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And while the Bible does not enumerate these rights in exactly the same way, it is clear, on closer examination, that the biblical text speaks to these issues. Consider the following rights and their biblical support:

Life

Murder is explicitly forbidden in the Bible (Exodus 20:13, Deuteronomy 5:17) precisely because humans are created in God’s image (Genesis 9:6). Human life can only be justly taken away under the authority of God—either by an authority established by God (Romans 13:1-4) or in a situation authorized by God.

Liberty

Stealing another person’s autonomy through kidnapping and forcible enslavement is prohibited (Exodus 21:16). Jesus proclaimed a (spiritual) liberty to the captives and oppressed (Isaiah 61:1, Luke 14:18-19). Stealing other people’s possessions is prohibited (Exodus 20:15, Deuteronomy 5:19).

Pursuit of happiness

True happiness is found in God (Psalm 16:11, 37:4). Finding satisfaction in one’s labor is called a gift of God (Ecclesiastes 3:13).

Forming a “More Perfect Union”

It is tragic—and a horrible stain on our country’s reputation and conscience—that some of the men who helped found the United States of America willingly participated in the institution of slavery, which was so fundamentally inconsistent with the high ideals professed by the Declaration of Independence. Whether it was due to love of money or comfort, fear of financial ruin, or fear of their fellow (white) man’s opinion, enough of these men balked at the idea of relinquishing their slaves that the nation built on the conviction of the universal dignity of humanity began with a monstrous hypocrisy.

Thomas Jefferson’s personal failure to respect the human dignity of the men and women he enslaved is just that, a personal failure, albeit one that affected far more people than just himself. Just because the purveyors of our founding ideals failed to live up to those ideals does not mean that those ideals are flawed. Rather, it means that human beings are flawed, as Scripture tells us repeatedly (Psalm 14:1-3, Psalm 53:1-3, Isaiah 53:6, Romans 3:23, Romans 5:12, etc.).

It has been said that you cannot go back and change the beginning, but you can start right now and change the ending. There was a lot of good about America’s beginning, along with a great deal of shamefulness. We can allow the shamefulness of America’s original sins to continue to define us, or we can learn from them, reject them, and press on toward the “more perfect union” that our Founding Fathers aspired toward and that we are capable of being.

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FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of June 28)

by Family Research Council

July 3, 2020

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Washington Update: “History in the Breaking”

When angry mobs tear down our statues and vandalize monuments, is that really “justice?”

2. Washington Update: “Five Justices vs. The People”

Five unelected people are making it impossible for leaders to run their states the way voters see fit.

3. Blog: “Hidden in Plain Sight: How Abortion Erases Black Lives”

George Floyd’s death serves as a clarion call for justice—but can America ever be a truly just nation if we continue to throw away millions of lives simply because someone says they aren’t worth living? 

4. Blog: “How Do We Authentically Love Our LGBT-Identifying Neighbors?”

Pride Month forces Christians to examine themselves. Are we actually preaching the gospel, which combines truth and love?

5. Blog: “A Loss for Women and Children at the Supreme Court”

With women and children’s lives on the line, Justice Roberts chose to adhere to a precedent he acknowledges is wrong.

6. Washington WatchKen Blackwell says racism isn’t responsible for our chaos, the lack of local leadership is

Ken Blackwell, FRC’s Senior Fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the Left’s betrayal of black Americans.

7. Washington WatchAllen West asks if anyone remembers George Floyd, because the destruction is beyond his cause

Allen West, former Florida congressman, retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, and author of Hold Texas, Hold the Nation, joined Tony Perkins to discuss President Trump’s executive order protecting American history.

For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.org, our Facebook pageTwitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad. Check out “The 7” at the end of every week to get our highlights of the week’s trending items. Have a great weekend!

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Befriending Our Opponents: A Tale of Two Presidents

by Worth Loving

July 2, 2020

In the midst of the current political divisions gripping our nation, it’s difficult to find close friendships between people with opposing viewpoints. It seems we are divided on every issue, with each side digging their heels in more and more and little hope of solving America’s greatest problems.

In such times, many are asking if there is any hope of finding common ground. I have often found it difficult to form meaningful friendships with people whom I disagree with on fundamental issues like life, family, and religious freedom. But may I suggest that friendship is exactly what we need to bring us together? What if we could form genuine relationships with those on the other side to make our nation better together? Two of our most famous Founding Fathers had significant political differences that nearly ended their friendship. Yet they persevered, giving us the beautiful story of reconciliation that we have today.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson first met in Philadelphia at the Second Continental Congress of 1775. A year later, they worked together on the committee tasked with drafting the Declaration of Independence, whose 244th anniversary we celebrate this weekend. In the 1780s, Adams and Jefferson worked together on diplomatic assignments in England and France, managing to find some time for leisure during their demanding duties as ambassadors. Over the years, they became close friends, corresponding by letter often when they were separated.

On politics, however, the two could not be more opposite and frequently debated their differences. In fact, their disagreements sometimes became personal and often tested their friendship. Adams, a devout member of the Federalist Party, favored a strong central government, a national bank, and close relations with Great Britain. On the other hand, Jefferson, an ardent Democrat-Republican, favored states’ rights, reduced government spending, greater relations with France, and westward expansion. Despite their passionate political differences, their close friendship continued for many years.

However, circumstances changed in 1801. Adams was still president but had just lost his bid for reelection in a bitter battle against Jefferson. In the final hours of his presidency before Jefferson took office, Adams made a number of last-minute judicial and bureaucratic appointments—appointees who were loyal Federalists and would oppose the incoming administration, making it extremely difficult for Jefferson to govern effectively. In fact, Jefferson later wrote that they “were selected from among my most ardent political enemies.” This political disagreement proved to be the severest test of their friendship, and the two ceased correspondence for the next decade.

After Jefferson retired from the presidency in 1809, Dr. Benjamin Rush took it upon himself to act as an arbiter and rekindle the friendship between Adams and Jefferson. However, it took two years until he was able to convince the two to resume their friendship. When one of Jefferson’s neighbors visited Adams in 1811, Adams is reported to have said: “I have always loved Jefferson, and still love him.” Upon hearing this report from his neighbor, Jefferson wrote Dr. Rush: “This is enough for me. I only needed this knowledge to revive towards him all the affections of the most cordial moments of our lives.” At Dr. Rush’s persuading, he convinced Adams to renew his correspondence with Jefferson. The two continued to write each other often until their deaths 15 years later.

Reconciliation often makes broken relationships stronger than they were before, and so it did with Adams and Jefferson. In the years following their renewed friendship, a rich correspondence commenced between the two, reminiscing about the past, discussing current events, and looking forward to what lay ahead.

On July 4, 1826, 50 years to the day after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson died at Monticello in the rolling hills of Virginia. A few hours later, John Adams passed at his home in Massachusetts. His family reported that the last dying words he spoke were “Thomas Jefferson lives,” not knowing that his dear friend had died hours earlier.  

In today’s polarizing political climate, it’s easy to see the “other side” as enemies, with the strong desire to convince those on the fence that our ideas are better. That is not to diminish our differences in worldviews. Without a doubt, liberals and conservatives both have two very different ideas for the future of America. But, on this July 4th, perhaps we can learn a lesson from two of our greatest Founding Fathers. They didn’t ignore their differences as if they didn’t exist, but they didn’t allow those differences to interfere with forming a lifelong friendship. Likewise, we don’t have to set aside our differences either because that won’t make them disappear. Being friendly isn’t abandoning your principles. Perhaps this July 4th can be different if we don’t let those differences get in the way of crossing the street and talking to our neighbor. After all, we are celebrating our nation’s independence and the freedom we have to be different.

Furthermore, as Christians, there are several biblical commands that are easy to forget in the divisive times in which we live. First, we must remember that those with whom we disagree are not the enemy. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:12 (ESV) that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Second, Christians are commanded to love our enemies and pray for them (Matthew 5:44). Third, Scripture tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves, whether we agree with them or not (Matthew 22:39). Last, wherever God’s spirit is, there is freedom (2 Cor. 3:17). By embracing reconciliation with others, we not only encourage freedom but we also invite God’s spirit to dwell among us.

We often quote the first sentence of the second paragraph in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” But we miss the weight of its last sentence: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” The signers of the Declaration no doubt had significant political differences and widely varying ideas for the future of the young nation. But they did not let those differences hinder them from forming friendships or from their ultimate goal—independence and freedom for all. These 56 men, firmly trusting in God, were willing to give up everything—their careers, possessions, and even their very lives—for the sake of freedom. Two of our future presidents—John Adams and Thomas Jefferson—both put aside their differences when they signed their names to that sacred document.

What we need in America right now is a good dose of civility and genuine friendships. Sure, there is a time and place to discuss the future of our great republic—a discussion we will continue to have and fiercely debate. But, this weekend, maybe we can take a break from debating on social media, protesting, or grasping for the next news hit and simply focus on loving our neighbor.

Let’s remember to celebrate our independence this weekend and the freedom it gives us to debate and be different. But let’s also not forget the opportunity we have to reach across the aisle and love our neighbor.

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Bostock and Gender Identity: Gorsuch Cancels Male and Female

by Peter Sprigg

July 2, 2020

In a recent blog post, I noted that virtually all critics of Justice Neil Gorsuch’s majority opinion in Bostock v. Clayton County identified his misinterpretation of the word “sex.” The Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids employment discrimination “because of sex,” and Justice Gorsuch interpreted “sex” to incorporate “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as well.

I went further and noted that not only is “sexual orientation” not the same as “sex” or merely a part of it, but it is a different type of personal characteristic. Sex is an objective characteristic determined by biology, while “sexual orientation” is a somewhat vague concept that includes a fluid combination of feelings, behaviors, and self-identification.

The same can be said of “gender identity”—it, too, involves a mix of feelings (“gender incongruity” or “gender dysphoria”), behaviors (“gender expression” in the form of clothing, hairstyles, makeup, etc.), and self-identification (being “transgender,” “non-binary,” or “gender fluid,” for example).

However, the “gender identity” portion of Justice Gorsuch’s decision is even more muddled, and has even more radical implications, than the sexual orientation portion.

Bathrooms, Locker Rooms, and Dress Codes

For example, Justice Gorsuch dismisses concerns about “sex-segregated bathrooms, locker rooms, and dress codes,” saying those were not at issue in the Bostock case. Justice Samuel Alito’s dissent, however, declares, “The Court’s brusque refusal to consider the consequences of its reasoning is irresponsible.”

Although the majority opinion is 33 pages long, the heart of its reasoning is found in this simple hypothetical:

Consider, for example, an employer with two employees, both of whom are attracted to men. The two individuals are, to the employer’s mind, materially identical in all respects, except that one is a man and the other a woman. If the employer fires the male employee for no reason other than the fact he is attracted to men, the employer discriminates against him for traits or actions it tolerates in his female colleague. Put differently, the employer intentionally singles out an employee to fire based in part on the employee’s sex, and the affected employee’s sex is a … cause of his discharge.

(The flaw in this, as Alito and others point out, is that the fired employee in this hypothetical situation differs from the retained employee not in only one characteristic, but in two—both his sex and his sexual orientation are different.)

But let’s look at how the exact same analogy would apply to showers and locker rooms—perhaps made available as part of a fitness center provided by a company as a fringe benefit to its employees. Here is Gorsuch’s logic (with only the italicized portion changed from his opinion):

Consider, for example, an employer with two employees, both of whom seek to use a locker room and showers in which the employee may see female employees in the nude and may appear nude in front of female employees. The two individuals are, to the employer’s mind, materially identical in all respects, except that one is a man and the other a woman. If the employer fires the male employee for no reason other than the fact he looks at female employees nude in the locker room and shower and exposes his own nude body to female employees, the employer discriminates against him for traits or actions it tolerates in his female colleague. Put differently, the employer intentionally singles out an employee to fire based in part on the employee’s sex, and the affected employee’s sex is a … cause of his discharge.

This is not some generalized slippery slope argument—this is the precise (indeed, irresistible) logic of Gorsuch’s opinion.

But note something important: this outcome is not dependent on the employee’s “gender identity.” Under the Gorsuch logic, any male employee has the right to observe his female colleagues nude, and to expose his own nude body to them, in the locker room or shower. To limit this privilege only to males who identify as female would be, ironically, to “discriminate” on the basis of “gender identity.”

Lying About Sex

While this is the inescapable logic of Gorsuch’s opinion, he shies away from it in his actual discussion of “gender identity.” Here is the hypothetical he presents with respect to that issue:

Or take an employer who fires a transgender person who was identified as a male at birth but who now identifies as a female. If the employer retains an otherwise identical employee who was identified as female at birth, the employer intentionally penalizes a person identified as male at birth for traits or actions that it tolerates in an employee identified as female at birth. Again, the individual employee’s sex plays an unmistakable and impermissible role in the discharge decision.

His previous hypothetical involving sexual orientation was (somewhat) more straightforward—because a “man” (a “male employee”) is treated differently from (what Gorsuch considers to be) a similarly situated “woman” (a “female colleague”), there is (Gorsuch argues) discrimination “because of sex.”

But in the gender identity hypothetical, there is no “man” or “woman,” no “male” or “female” employee at all—only a person “identified as male at birth” and one “identified as female at birth,” each of whom “now identifies as female.”

Earlier in the opinion, Justice Gorsuch had said that “we proceed on the assumption that [the word] “sex” [in 1964] signified … biological distinctions between male and female.” To be consistent with that “assumption,” the first employee in the hypothetical should have been described as “a transgender person who is male but who now identifies as a female.” That language, however, would have been offensive to transgender activists, who insist that self-identification defines what a person really “is.”

If Justice Gorsuch had been consistent (and honest)—referring to “a transgender person who is male but who now identifies as a female”—it would have cast the “discrimination” at issue in a different light. When an employer (such as Harris Funeral Homes, in this case) parts ways with an employee such as Anthony Stephens (because he wanted to identify as female and be known as “Aimee”), it is not because of the employee’s sex, but because the employee is lying about his sex.

#SexNotGender

Justice Gorsuch scrupulously avoided any mention of the LGBT movement and its philosophical assumptions in his opinion, insisting that he was merely applying literally the language of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. However, the inconsistency of his two hypotheticals shows that it is impossible to discuss “gender identity” without addressing fundamental concepts of what is true and what is real.

Outside the Supreme Court on the day of oral arguments, supporters of Harris Funeral Homes in the gender identity case (which included radical feminists from the Women’s Liberation Front, or WoLF) carried signs with the hashtag “#SexNotGender.” This carried two layers of meaning. The most basic relates to the court’s interpretation of the Civil Rights Act—discrimination because of “sex” refers to biological sex, and it does not extend to “gender” (identity). At a more philosophical level, “Sex Not Gender” implies support for the view that the objective, physical reality of one’s biological sex is a more reliable indicator of whether one is “male” or “female” than the subjective, psychological construct of “gender identity.”

Which is more important—“sex” or “gender identity?” This is a genuine debate, and Americans have a right to hold and argue for whichever opinion they believe in. The problem is, it is impossible to be neutral on this point—anyone who uses the categories of “male” or “female” at all must make a choice how to define them. The Bostock opinion chooses “gender identity,” and forces that choice on private employers, even though Congress plainly did not do so.

The Civil Rights Act made it unlawful for an employer to discriminate “because of sex.” The Bostock decision goes much further—essentially making it unlawful for an employer to act on the belief that “sex” is real. A law that was intended to protect the male and female sex is being interpreted to abolish (biological) sex altogether.

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A Loss for Women and Children at the Supreme Court

by Katherine Beck Johnson

July 1, 2020

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated ruling in June Medical Services v. Russo, the first major abortion case the Court has taken up since President Trump appointed Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. The Court’s ruling struck down Louisiana’s law requiring abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges. While Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh were both in the dissent, Justice Roberts proved to be the disappointing fifth vote that struck down the common-sense law.

Louisiana’s admitting privileges law was in the best interest of women. If something were to go awry during an abortion, the abortionist would be able to get the woman admitted to the hospital and explain to her doctors precisely what had occurred. If the abortionist does not have admitting privileges, the woman might be forced to call an ambulance and explain what had happened herself—a heavy burden to place on the woman, and quite impossible if she is unconscious. Requiring admitting privileges is a common-sense regulation that applies to every other outpatient surgical center in Louisiana. Nevertheless, liberal justices and Justice Roberts were unwilling to uphold the requirement when applied to abortion clinics.

In a previously decided case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, Texas’s admitting privileges law and a few other abortion regulations had been at issue. The Court held that Texas’ law created an undue burden. Justice Kennedy provided the decisive fifth vote that struck down the pro-life and pro-woman law. Justice Roberts dissented.  

Whole Woman’s was a poorly decided case that needed to be overturned. The Court had the chance to overturn it in June Medical with Justice Kennedy off the Court and two new Republican-appointed justices. Instead, once again, the Court struck down a law aimed at saving unborn lives and protecting women’s health.  

Justice Roberts dissented in Whole Woman’s, yet he voted with the liberal justices in June Medical to strike down Louisiana’s admitting privileges law. Interestingly, in his concurrence, Justice Roberts said that he still agrees that Whole Woman’s Health was wrongly decided, yet said he is bound by stare decisis to uphold the law. Stare decisis is a legal principle that means you decide a case bound by precedent, regardless of whether the precedent is correct. Roberts claims that “for precedent to mean anything, the doctrine must give way only to a rationale that goes beyond whether the case was decided correctly.” Yet, Roberts has not felt bound by stare decisis in plenty of his other opinions, including Citizens United v. FEC. When it comes to abortion, however, Justice Roberts suddenly feels his hands are tied. Regardless, if a legal precedent is wrong, he and the Supreme Court should do the right thing and overturn it. With women and children’s lives on the line, Justice Roberts chose to adhere to a precedent he acknowledges is wrong.

Justice Roberts’ adherence to stare decisis is problematic for the future of abortion law at the Supreme Court. If Justice Roberts thought adhering to a five-year-old precedent of knocking down hospital admitting privileges is so embedded in our country’s jurisprudence to deserve stare decisis, he almost certainly views Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood as deserving of stare decisis, even if he disagrees with the opinions. This indicates that while judicial nominees are extremely important, they can be unreliable. It is no longer enough for the pro-life movement to depend on Republican-appointed justices and hope they will do the right thing on abortion.

Women and children lost at the Supreme Court on Monday. The abortion industry won. Once again, abortionists proved that rules don’t apply to them; they are exempt from laws. Despite this disappointing loss, the pro-life movement should not lose hope or remain discouraged. The fight for civil rights will continue—with or without Justice Roberts on our side.

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How Do We Authentically Love Our LGBT-Identifying Neighbors?

by Laura Lee Caum

July 1, 2020

Who am I to judge?” For many years, this has been the common response from well-meaning Christians in the Gen Z generation when it comes to conversations regarding the moral status of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. This response should not be surprising, as it comes from those who were raised in a pluralist society heavily influenced by postmodernism and secularism.

While members of the Baby Boomer generation are generally surprised by aspects of the LGBT movement, the majority of Americans in the Millennial and Gen Z generations are quite comfortable with the moral changes happening in the country. This is in large part due to the timing of the movement. By the time those of us in the Gen Z generation were graduating high school, significant changes in law and policy had already been enacted. For example,“Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” had been repealed, many states had already legalized same-sex partnerships/marriages, and the Senate had voted to allow those who identify as homosexual to serve openly in the military. Furthermore, Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states, was decided when many of us were just beginning to pay attention to the political and public policy debates happening in our country.

In light of the overwhelming support among the younger generation for same-sex marriage, how should younger Christians respond? How should we engage on this sensitive moral issue that we believe the Bible speaks clearly to? These are important questions that younger Christians committed to the authority of God’s Word must consider and speak clearly to. What follows are my thoughts on how Christians in the Gen Z generation can provide a thoughtful yet faithful response.

First, it is important to realize that many supporters of the LGBT movement are not strangers to the church. In fact, many of them sat under biblical preaching for years. One could then raise the question: why would faithful churchgoers readily neglect the truths of the Bible? While each situation is unique, allow me to suggest two reasons.

First, they may have watched media coverage of a number of spiritual leaders march with hateful signs or yell hateful things at those who identify as LGBT. Those few spiritual leaders who take such action twist Scripture to their own liking. Thinking they are advocating for morality, these spiritual leaders are actually failing to act with love toward those who identify as LGBT. This failure can lead to the hearts of many LGBT supporters to degrade into resentment, creating a separation between themselves and the church.

On the other side of the spectrum, the second reason faithful churchgoers are now readily neglecting the truths of the Bible is that some spiritual leaders have taken a “love everyone” approach. This approach is radically different from the “fire and brimstone” style but has the same damaging affect. The blanket statement of “love everyone” neglects the justice and truth that Jesus taught. It instead teaches the young member that their only role is to “love” their friends who identify as LGBT. The young member then concludes that they can love without the guidance of the church, and their place in the pew eventually sits empty. What then should the church do to retain these members and speak the whole message of the gospel?

The most compelling example of combining love and justice is found in John 8. For those unfamiliar with this story, this passage tells the story of a woman caught in the act of adultery. The religious leaders of the day bring her before Jesus and proudly proclaim, “Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.” Those who preach a fire and brimstone message would applaud this dedication to the law. The religious leaders then ask Jesus his opinion on what should be done with the woman. Obeying the Proverb to be slow to answer, Jesus eventually replies, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

If the story ended here, spiritual leaders who preach a “love everyone” message would be ecstatic. But the story doesn’t end here. As the religious leaders slowly walk away, Jesus asks her if there is anyone left to condemn her. No one is left. In a brilliant moment of combining the truth of God and the grace he offers, Jesus says, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” That is the approach spiritual leaders should take. God is both just and merciful, and both must be preached. A sermon that follows this guideline condemns homosexuality for what it is, which is a distortion of the good gift of sexuality. This same sermon, however, should encourage a peaceful and loving attitude towards those in the LGBT movement.

To Christians who are tempted to sacrifice morality on the altar of supporting the LGBT movement, take a moment and reevaluate what love actually is. Though our culture has tried to combine the two, love and lust are radically different. One is selfless and live-giving while the other is selfish and destructive. Truly loving someone means instructing them in the way of truth. Jesus prevented the woman in John 8 from being stoned, but also instructed her to leave her life of sin. That is love. Love is not changing your social media profile picture to a rainbow flag, or marching during “Pride Month.” Examine the love that Jesus expressed, and do the same.

Pride Month forces Christians to examine themselves. Are we actually preaching the gospel, which combines truth and love? Ask yourself: Am I reaching out to those who struggle with homosexuality and loving them as Jesus does? How will I advocate for legislation that defends natural marriage and the family? We must answer these questions. We must act. Love requires that of us. Christians have no excuse to passively sit back and say, “Who am I to judge?”

Laura Lee Caum is a Communications intern at Family Research Council.

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Supreme Court Abandons Human Dignity in Russo but Upholds It in Open Society

by Katherine Beck Johnson , Kaitlyn Shepherd

June 30, 2020

The disappointing decision in June Medical v. Russo dominated the airwaves yesterday. However, there was a win for human dignity in another Supreme Court case. In Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society International, Inc., the Court held that the Leadership Act’s Policy Requirement—which requires organizations receiving federal funds to combat HIV/AIDS to adopt a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking—is constitutional as applied to domestic organizations’ foreign affiliates. We applaud the Court’s decision. The Leadership Act’s Policy Requirement is a common-sense measure that promotes the human dignity of all people and especially women, who are most frequently the victims of prostitution and sex trafficking.

In 2003, congressional findings indicated that HIV/AIDS had “assumed pandemic proportions.” Data showed that, since the 1980s, the disease had killed more than 25 million people, infected an additional 40 million people, and orphaned an estimated 14 million children worldwide. In response, the United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003 (the Leadership Act) “outlined a comprehensive strategy to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS around the world.” As part of this strategy, the Act prescribed efforts “to address the social and behavioral causes of the problem” and authorized the president to allocate funds to organizations that combat HIV/AIDS overseas. With a few exceptions, only organizations that adopted “a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking” were eligible to receive funds.

In 2005, a group of United States-based organizations challenged the Policy Requirement. They argued that “adopting a policy explicitly opposing prostitution may alienate certain host governments, and may diminish the effectiveness of some of their programs by making it more difficult to work with prostitutes in the fight against HIV/AIDS.” Some organizations on the left, joined by some libertarians, advocate for the legalization of prostitution (which they call “sex work”), ostensibly to allow government regulation of health and safety. They argue that a distinction can be made between “sex work” and “sex trafficking” and believe that legalization would help to empower “sex workers.” Prostitution is inherently degrading to women, and there is no evidence that its legalization makes this practice less exploitative. When it comes to fighting HIV/AIDS, discouraging a “profession” that inherently involves the high-risk behavior of sexual relations with multiple partners should be part of our national strategy. Congress held this view, and insisted that U.S. aid recipients overseas do the same.

In 2013, the Supreme Court held that the Policy Requirement was unconstitutional as applied to American organizations operating overseas because it compelled these organizations to adopt the government’s stance on prostitution and sex trafficking as a condition of receiving the funds.

In 2015, the organizations renewed their challenge to the Policy Requirement. They opposed the government’s continued application of the Policy Requirement to their “closely aligned” foreign affiliates, organizations that shared the same “name, logo, brand, and mission” but were legally separate entities incorporated under the laws of other nations. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the Policy.

In its decision yesterday, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Second Circuit. Writing for the majority, Justice Kavanaugh noted that long-standing principles of American law compel the conclusion that “[a]s foreign organizations operating abroad, plaintiff’s foreign affiliates possess no rights under the First Amendment.” President Trump’s other appointee, Justice Gorsuch, also joined the majority. The Court was unpersuaded by the organizations’ argument that the speech of their foreign affiliates would be misattributed to them because the organizations were not compelled by the government to affiliate with these foreign organizations or to espouse their message. Any misattribution would be a result of their own actions, not those of the government.

The Court’s decision has important implications for human dignity. The Bible teaches that both men and women are created in the image of God and that each person is “fearfully and wonderfully made.” This means all people possess inherent dignity, worth, and value. By objectifying women, the sex trafficking industry fails to acknowledge the human dignity of women. Congress itself recognized this, stating that “[p]rostitution and other sexual victimization are degrading to women and children and it should be the policy of the United States to eradicate such practices.” The Court’s decision yesterday should be celebrated because requiring organizations to adopt a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking promotes the dignity of all people around the world. 

Katherine Beck Johnson is Research Fellow for Legal and Policy Studies at Family Research Council.

Kaitlyn Shepherd is a Policy & Government Affairs intern at Family Research Council.

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For the Fourth Time, HHS Defends the Elderly and Disabled

by David Closson , Laura Lee Caum

June 29, 2020

After weeks of significant societal upheaval, there is finally some good news out of Washington D.C. On June 26, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it had resolved a complaint against Tennessee after the state updated its medical triage plans to ensure that the elderly and disabled are not discriminated against in the event of scarcity or high demand for medical resources.

This is OCR’s fourth resolution with a state regarding disability discrimination since their March 28 bulletin reminding states of their responsibility to abide by civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in the provision of health care services during the coronavirus pandemic. Previously, OCR resolved similar cases with Alabama, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.

Commenting on the resolution, Roger Severino, OCR’s Director, said, “We commend Tennessee for updating its policies to ensure that hospitals do not deny life-saving care during a crisis based on stereotypes about disabilities or other impermissible factors. Our civil rights laws reflect the principle that we are all created with equal dignity and worth.”

Prior to this decision, concerns were raised about Tennessee’s emergency health care guidance, specifically that those with advanced neuromuscular disease, metastatic cancer, traumatic brain injury, dementia, and other disabilities could be excluded from use of a ventilator in times of scarcity. The HHS determined this was in violation of numerous health laws, including Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The June 26 resolution between HHS and Tennessee should be applauded for its recognition of the human dignity of the elderly and disabled. All Americans, but especially Christians, should be grateful for this announcement because it affirms one of the most basic tenets of the biblical worldview which is that all people are made in God’s image and possess inherent value and dignity. Laws or health care plans that allocate resources based on a perceived quality of life devalue one’s fundamental right to life and ought to be rejected.

This bold action by the Office for Civil Rights continues a pattern of respecting and protecting life by the Trump administration. Since his inauguration, President Trump and his administration has consistently defended human rights at home and abroad. This is especially seen in the administration’s defense of the rights of the unborn. For example, The Office of Civil Rights at HHS alone has already enforced conscience protection laws in California to ensure that health care plans are not required to provide abortion coverage, and in Vermont to protect the conscience rights of a nurse who was forced to participate in performing abortions. In 2019, the administration ensured that Title X family planning funds do not include abortion providers. Then in 2020 President Trump spoke at the March for Life rally, becoming the first sitting president to ever do so.

The decision on June 26 by HHS is the latest example of the administration’s commitment to protecting all Americans, regardless of age, disability, or other subjective factors. All Americans should be grateful for this resolution, and hope it sends a clear message to the other states that when it comes to human dignity, cutting corners is not an option.

David Closson is FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview.

Laura Lee Caum is a Communications intern at Family Research Council.

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FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of June 21)

by Family Research Council

June 26, 2020

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Washington Update: “Virginia Is for Snoopers”

Governor Ralph Northam is urging people to file a complaint against anyone they see who isn’t following social distance guidelines, the mask mandate, or overcrowding their establishments.

2. Washington Update: “This Equality’s All an Act”

The Left is pushing for the passage of the Equality Act, saying their motivation is to end discrimination. We all want that, but not when “ending discrimination” means a drag queen in every library, a man in every girls’ restroom, or an atheist teacher in every Christian school.

3. Publication: “Leadership and Love: A Tale of Two Fathers”

There has never been a greater need for godly men and fathers than the age in which we live. This resource provides an understanding of what children need from their fathers to become emotionally healthy and spiritually strong. 

4. Blog: “Why Bostock Will Never Have the Final Word On Human Sexuality”

Christians continue to face mounting pressure to compromise on the Bible’s teaching on marriage and sexuality. However, we cannot compromise our beliefs because we are committed to Scripture.

5. Blog: “The Threat of Genocide Darkens the Future for Nigeria’s Christians”

Today, a dangerous darkness—radical Islamism and its genocidal intentions—is sweeping across the African continent. And it is particularly lethal in Nigeria, Africa’s largest nation.

6. Washington WatchWalt Heyer says the truth about transgenderism is what drives platforms like YouTube to censor him

Walt Heyer, public speaker, author, and publisher of SexChangeRegret.com and his blog, WaltHeyer.com, joined Tony Perkins to discuss YouTube censoring his story that shared his regrets about living a transgender life.

7. Washington WatchDavid Closson offers a biblical perspective on the purging of certain U.S. historical figures

David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview, joined Tony Perkins to discuss a biblical response to the radical movement to erase American history with the destruction of statues and renaming of important landmarks.

For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.org, our Facebook pageTwitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad. Check out “The 7” at the end of every week to get our highlights of the week’s trending items. Have a great weekend!

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China Is About to Clamp Down on Hong Kong

by Arielle Del Turco

June 26, 2020

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on June 26 that the U.S. will impose visa restrictions on Chinese officials “responsible for eviscerating Hong Kong’s freedoms.” This is a good step for the people of Hong Kong desperately looking for a lifeline as they watch their freedoms get trampled by the Chinese government.

Last year’s pro-democracy protests, which captured global attention, initially targeted a proposed extradition law that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to be extradited to mainland China and subjected to its corrupt judicial system. Yet, this year’s threat to Hong Kong’s freedom is much worse. China’s National People’s Congress is expected to ratify a sweeping new national security law for Hong Kong next week. Newly released details indicate the law will damage many of the freedoms Hong Kongers have long enjoyed, including religious freedom.

According to the Sino-British Joint Declaration signed in 1984, Hong Kong is meant to enjoy a high degree of autonomy for 50 years following the city’s return to China in 1997. With the new security law, Hong Kong’s autonomy—and the “one country, two systems” principle that has guided its government—is all but destroyed. The new law will allow Beijing to override Hong Kong law, establish a national security office in Hong Kong to investigate crimes, and enable Beijing to suppress protests or public opposition.

China is one of the world’s worst violators of human rights and religious freedom. So, what does Beijing’s encroachment into the legal system in Hong Kong mean for its religious communities?

Firstly, Christian pastors and clergy members who participated in Hong Kong’s anti-extradition bill protests may be punished for their participation. Christians and Christian leaders played a pivotal role in pro-democracy demonstrations last year. The hymn “Hallelujah to the Lord” became an anthem for protestors. Meanwhile, Chinese officials insinuated that demonstrators were terrorists.

No dissent is tolerated in mainland China, and Hong Kong’s religious leaders who are vocal against Beijing may be extradited and tried under the new law. Christian NGOs are now expressing concern for outspoken religious leaders such as Cardinal Joseph Zen and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing, who supported the pro-democracy movement.

Secondly, the new law might pave the way for Hong Kong’s Christian leaders to be silenced. According to an outline of the law released by Chinese officials, the national security concerns Beijing claims the right to address include secession, subversion of state power, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces.

China’s broad accusation of “subversion of state power” may sound familiar. At the end of 2019, well-known house church pastor Wang Yi, who led one of China’s largest unregistered churches, was sentenced to nine years in prison for “inciting to subvert state power.” Beijing uses this phrase, among others, as an excuse to lock away anyone who publicly objects to the government’s practices. Should Hong Kong’s pastors expect to be next?

Thirdly, in addition to harming believers in Hong Kong, this new law is likely to have negative effects on faith in mainland China. Christianity is a legally recognized religion. However, Christian churches that register with the Chinese government are pressured to adapt their religious beliefs to Chinese Communist Party values, including socialism. To avoid government interference, many unregistered house churches operate outside of regulation but lack resources and pastoral training as they try to practice authentic Christianity. For a long time, house churches on the Chinese mainland have found support from Hong Kong’s Christians.

Churches and pastors in Hong Kong provide Bibles, training, and financial support to house churches on the mainland. One study from 2014 found that over 60 percent of Hong Kong’s churches “engage in work on the mainland, illicit or otherwise, including preaching and theological training.” If Hong Kong Christians are subjected to the same so-called “national security” laws that put Pastor Wang Yi in prison for subversion of state power, this may cut off the support and resources Hong Kong pastors feel they can safely offer. For the mainland’s increasingly oppressed churches, support from Hong Kong is a lifeline they can’t afford to lose.

On June 25, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution introduced by Senator Josh Hawley which condemned Beijing’s national security law and called on free countries to stand against Beijing’s effort to destroy basic liberties and human rights in Hong Kong. The Senate also passed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act which would impose sanctions on individuals, entities, and banks that aid Beijing’s campaign to control Hong Kong and destroy its autonomy. The U.S. House of Representatives should follow suit and swiftly pass the Hong Kong Autonomy Act and send it to the president’s desk.

When the National People’s Congress announced its proposed national security law, Beijing broke its agreement to allow Hong Kong autonomy. For Hong Kong residents who cherish their political and religious freedom, the effects will be widespread and devastating. As they fear for their future, U.S. officials must do everything within their power to support the people of Hong Kong. This city has long been a beacon of freedom and prosperity in contrast with Chinese authoritarianism. Chinese encroachment into Hong Kong is a tragedy for the free world, and it is one that the United States must not watch unfold silently.

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