Month Archives: August 2019

Excessive Smartphone Use is Dehumanizing Us

by Daniel Hart

August 23, 2019

Much has been written about how our society’s addiction to our smartphones, particularly among young people, is worsening our quality of life. I’ve lost count of the number of stories I’ve read about how our culture seems to have tiny attention spans due to social media addiction and about how kids these days don’t make eye contact anymore due to the smartphones that seem to be physically attached to their hands.

Recently, a friend described to me how during an orientation session for his new job, he sat next to two twenty-something fellow new hires who spent the entire time on their smartphones, only occasionally looking up at their supervisor who was giving the orientation.

While worrisome anecdotal stories like these abound, hard data is now emerging that only confirms these fears. In a sobering article at Family Life, Clay Routledge cites recent studies that show that extensive time spent on smartphones is leading to a host of alarming deficiencies in basic human relationships and interactions:

For example, in a field experiment, researchers found that having cellphones present during a meal with family or friends decreased enjoyment of that social experience. Another experiment that involved pairs of college students waiting together with or without their cellphones found that those who were phoneless were far more likely to smile at and interact with one another than those with cellphones. And one study found that having college students severely limit their daily social media use over a three-week period decreased both loneliness and depression. In short, a growing body of experimental research is providing empirical evidence that cellphones distract us from fully experiencing the real world.

Of particular concern are new findings that show that excessive smartphone use is negatively affecting the very fabric of family life. Routledge referenced another recent experiment involving parents and their interactions with their children at a museum in which “[t]he researchers found that parents in the high-use condition [of smartphones], compared to those in the low-use condition, reported feeling less attentive and less socially connected, and reported lower meaning in life while with their children at the museum.”

Perhaps most frightening is a Pew survey cited by Routledge:

Regarding smartphones and family life specifically, a Pew survey found that around half of teenagers say their parents are distracted by their phones when they are trying to talk to them, and over 70% of parents report that their teenagers are distracted when they are trying to have a conversation with them.

When screen addiction worsens even the most basic form of relational activity—talking to our family members—you know we have a serious problem. What Routledge alludes to, and what FRC has emphasized for years, is that family provides the most basic form of meaning in a person’s life through the love they receive, which in turn forms our core sense of self-worth. When this most fundamental source of meaning in our lives is compromised through the breakdown of familial communication and relationships, bad things happen.

A convincing argument has been made that the release of the iPhone in 2007 marked the beginning of a disturbing trend of mental health crisis in the post-Millennial generation. Indeed, a glut of mental health problems have sharply risen among young people since then, including rising rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide.

Less Screen Time, More Fulfillment

There’s no question that smartphones, tablets, and other internet-enabled portable devices have enhanced our lives in many ways. But as with any technology (or any worldly good, for that matter), believers know that moderation is key. In order to form healthy habits of technology use, we must see smartphones for what they are: a tool, not a necessity.

The primary way we can avoid smartphone addiction for our children and future generations is to limit the amount of time they spend looking at screens. How do we do this? Simply put, if they are out of sight, they are out of mind. If we diligently cultivate our homes as a place where learning and authentic leisure are the primary focus, the need for screens will rarely arise. This can also set an expectation of healthy use of screens that can enhance family life, like for communal viewing of movies or sporting events, for example.

At a certain point in a child’s life, they will see that their peers have smartphones, and they will naturally want to fit in. But if we raise our children with the understanding that they do not need a smartphone, and instead grow up with an expectation that they can work for and earn money to buy one at the age that they can get a job, they will be more likely to see smartphones not as necessities but as tools.

With this healthy perspective from a young age, it is far less likely that kids will form a smartphone addiction when they are older and have free access to them. As the emerging data suggests, and as we inherently know deep down, we are happier and more fulfilled when we spend less time engaging a screen and more time engaging each other.

What the LA Times Gets Wrong About Religious Freedom

by Travis Weber , David Closson

August 21, 2019

Last week, the Department of Labor issued a proposed rule clarifying the rights of religious employers to contract with the government without being forced to violate their religious beliefs. After decades of court decisions and disparate interpretations under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is no wonder that some religious organizations are fearful of working with the federal government because they don’t have clarity on what they can and can’t do. It makes sense that the Department of Labor would want to clarify their rights now.

Yet yesterday’s Los Angeles Times’ Editorial Board threw cold water on this idea, claiming the proposed rule would “dramatically expand the [religious liberty] exemption,” which they believe makes “little legal sense” and threatens to erode what was “once broad and bipartisan support for the idea that the government should accommodate sincere religious convictions.”

Yet are these gripes accurate? Hardly. In reality, as the proposed rule makes clear, the Department of Labor is simply aligning its interpretation of religious exemptions with years of federal court decisions and the definitions in Title VII itself. For years, Title VII has protected religious people from a wide array of faith groups equally. So what is the LA Times so scared of? The reason seems revealed in the title: “Trump’s new ‘religious freedom’ rule looks like a license to discriminate.”

Unfortunately, the assumption of the LA Times appears to be that Christian conservatives are using religious freedom as a “pretext for discrimination.” Yet LGBT issues are not specifically addressed anywhere in the proposed rule. It is the idea that LGBT-related claims might be affected by religious freedom claims that has the LA Times up in arms. If the editors read the rule more carefully, they would see that it actually addresses sincerity as an important component of a religious freedom claim, and “conceal[ing] discrimination” has been dealt with by courts assessing these Title VII claims. The LA Times and others espousing this line of thinking don’t get to pick and choose when religious freedom applies. It either does or it doesn’t, and if the Title VII definitions were acceptable for decades, they should still be acceptable today.

Religious freedom is a virtue that benefits the common good; it does not favor Republicans over Democrats or Roman Catholics over Muslims. Thankfully, the Trump administration recognizes these basic truths and is protecting religious employers of all faith backgrounds. If the LA Times researched how the Title VII religious exemption has functioned in the past, it would see that it benefits various religious minorities in a host of different circumstances. Indeed, one of the cases referenced in the proposed rule—LeBoon v. Lancaster Jewish Cmty. Ctr. Ass’n—features a Jewish organization. Just a few years ago, the Supreme Court—in an opinion authored by Justice Scalia—applied Title VII to protect a Muslim employee’s rights against her employer.

Thus, to argue that faith-based organizations should not be able to run their business according to their religious beliefs represents a truncated view of religious freedom. There is no legitimate reason that a faith-based organization should lose out on a federal contract for simply adhering to their religious beliefs, and the proposed rule is right to remedy that.

The LA Times editorial is a reminder that people from all religious backgrounds must continue to help shed light on the reality that religious freedom is a good that serves all people.

Why It’s Wrong to be “Personally” Pro-Life and Publicly Pro-Choice

by Bailey Zimmitti

August 21, 2019

On my college campus, one of the most common pro-choice arguments that I hear from other students is that they are “personally pro-life,” but don’t think that they can tell women what to do with their bodies. While this may seem like a way to tip-toe around the abortion debate, it is still a dangerous ideology because it frames the abortion debate in a completely misleading context.

The “personally pro-life” perspective operates under the framework of moral relativism—the idea that there is no objective standard by which we can assess the moral quality of certain actions. This kind of “you do you” mantra encompasses an attitude which deems certain actions that were historically given moral quality as in fact morally neutral—right for some, wrong for others. Don’t get me wrong—there are some actions that are morally neutral. Taking evening walks, wearing sandals, listening to Beethoven’s Für Elise—these are all morally neutral actions. Some people may like these activities and some may not, but there is no moral consequence either way.

The question is this: is abortion a morally neutral action? Pro-lifers say no, and here’s why.

There are two premises that one must accept in order to be pro-life:

1.    The killing of an innocent human person is objectively wrong.

This premise is easy to accept. Killing an innocent human person is widely understood to be wrong—not only because of Scriptural authority like the Ten Commandments, but also because we recognize the inherent dignity of the human person under U.S. law.

2.    Abortion is the killing of an innocent human person.

This premise is a little harder for people to accept, but it is the key to being pro-life. Once the personhood and inherent dignity of all humans is recognized—even the unborn ones—then the logical conclusion that abortion is objectively wrong can’t be denied.

When we talk about the “right to choose,” we completely bypass this fundamental point of disagreement between pro-lifers and pro-choicers. When we dance around the abortion debate with words like “choice” that sound nice, we often fail to ask the key question that Lila Rose asks: “What is being chosen?” Pro-lifers believe that abortion is the killing of a human person. How then can someone who is “personally pro-life” call this a “right”?

What if we applied this kind of argument to other kinds of moral wrongs? What if we said, “I mean I personally wouldn’t rob a bank, but if you really need the money, you do you!” That obviously makes no sense. That’s because in 2019, we don’t politicize robbing banks in such a way where it is framed as a “right” or “choice.”

Those who take the “personally pro-life” stance may feel like it’s an empowering position to take, but it’s important to recognize that holding others to a lower moral standard than that to which we hold ourselves actually disempowers us by implying that we are worth more than others are and that our children are worth more than other people’s children are.

The bottom line is this: in order to have a true sense of the common good, one cannot believe that abortion kills an innocent person and also believe that others can claim it as a choice worthy of the title “right.”

Bailey Zimmitti is an intern at Family Research Council.

Planned Parenthood Forgoes Title X Funding, Choosing Abortion over Women’s Healthcare

by Connor Semelsberger

August 19, 2019

Today, Planned Parenthood officially withdrew from the Title X Family Planning Program, choosing to reject millions of dollars in federal funding rather than stopping referrals for abortion. This announcement came after their fifth failed attempt to find a court that would block the Protect Life Rule from going into effect while litigation over the legality of the rule continues. Ultimately, this shows the upside-down world of Planned Parenthood, in which abortion is prioritized more than women’s care.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued the Protect Life Rule to require physical separation between clinics that receive Title X federal funds for family planning services and facilities that perform abortions. It would also prohibit physicians at Title X family planning clinics from referring patients for abortions.

After five months of mudslinging, Planned Parenthood is out of legal ammunition, and the Protect Life Rule is still squeaky clean. HHS has now won before numerous federal courts – a federal district court in Maine, a panel of the 4th Circuit, and two panels in the 9th Circuit. The last straw came on Friday, when not a single judge on the infamously liberal 9th Circuit was willing to block the Protect Life Rule. In other words, Planned Parenthood’s favorite court sent their lawyers home with their tails between their legs. This decision by the 9th Circuit allows HHS to begin enforcing the Protect Life Rule while the merits of the case are litigated.

Soon after the 9th Circuit lifted the nationwide injunction blocking the Protect Life Rule, HHS announced that all grantees that seek to comply in good faith must certify by August 19th that they do not provide abortions and do not include abortion as a method of family planning.

Yet rather than comply, Planned Parenthood backed out of the family planning program altogether. With their decision to withdraw, Planned Parenthood is sacrificing $16,120,000 in direct Title X grants, in addition to the millions more they receive as subgrantees of Title X funds.

Planned Parenthood and the mainstream media are already trying to spin the Protect Life Rule as a “gag rule” that is “forcing” Planned Parenthood out of a federal program that they have participated in for 50 years, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Despite Planned Parenthood’s loud protestations, The Protect Life Rule does not ban physicians from discussing abortion with their patients. The rule does prohibit physicians from referring patients for abortions, but it permits doctors to provide non-directive counseling on the risks and benefits of all options, including abortion.

Planned Parenthood has had every opportunity to comply with the new rules regulating the Title X program. HHS provided proper guidance and would have assigned them a project officer to help them comply with the regulations. Despite all this, Planned Parenthood chose abortion over helping provide family planning services to their clients. The organization touts itself as a leading women’s health provider, but Planned Parenthood turned their back on the needs of women when they opted to forego millions of dollars to fund critical family planning services so that they could keep promoting abortions.

The Title X statute is clear, “None of the funds appropriated under this act shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.” The Protect Life Rule does nothing more than fully enforce the Title X program as it was written into law. No matter what Planned Parenthood and other abortion advocates say, the Title X program was never intended to subsidize an industry that finds value in ending innocent human life.

Aside from harming the many women Planned Parenthood will no longer be able to serve, the main outcome of this decision is to make clear what Planned Parenthood’s true priority is: abortion.

Hollywood, The Hunt, and the Need for Self-Restraint

by Daniel Hart

August 16, 2019

Does Hollywood actually possess some amount of self-restraint? In the wake of the horrifying mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso, Universal Pictures announced that it would “cancel” the release of The Hunt, a movie about people who are politically liberal hunting down and killing other people who are politically conservative (who later get revenge by killing the liberals in return). The film’s original title was Red State Vs. Blue State.

But wait. Universal is actually reserving the right to release the film at a later date, presumably when the public outcry over the film has subsided. So much for self-restraint.

Artistry Flourishes Within Boundaries

It would be very interesting to be a fly on the wall in the room where executives at Universal decided to go ahead and finance a movie like The Hunt. Out of all the movie scripts to choose from, out of all the historical and creative subject matter that could have been crafted into a compelling film, Universal decided that a movie about people murdering other people for sport based on their political views was the one to make.

It appears that the general principle that guides Hollywood these days is that if a movie script is predicted to make money at the box office, it should be made, no matter what the actual content of the movie is. The excuse that Hollywood often uses is “creative license,” where any idea—no matter how twisted and debased—can be made into a movie. This is not only deeply disturbing, morally offensive, and degrading to society, it’s also not a good recipe for a well-crafted movie with any redeemable merit.

During most of Hollywood’s Golden Age (1920 – 1960), there was a code of guidelines (called the “Motion Picture Production Code”) that filmmakers followed regarding the content of their movies, which included rules for how sensitive subject matters like sex or murder could be portrayed. The code included a number of antiquated rules such as a prohibition against scenes of childbirth, but for the most part, the rules merely guarded against the positive portrayal of gratuitous sex, violence, drug use, and other obvious societal evils.

Did this code end up suppressing the creativity and artistry of Hollywood? Quite the contrary. During this period, Hollywood produced what are considered to be some of the greatest and most iconic films of all time, including Citizen Kane, Sunset Boulevard, On the Waterfront, It Happened One Night, From Here to Eternity, Double Indemnity, Vertigo, Ben-Hur, and It’s a Wonderful Life, to name just a few.

I’m not suggesting that we should return to this kind of official content censorship being enforced on all films. I’m merely pointing out that filmmakers can make great movies while still practicing self-restraint in what they choose to put on film.

Evil is the Result of Unrestrained “Freedom”

Somewhere along the line, probably in the late 60’s, many filmmakers stopped believing that they had any responsibility for what they exposed the public to. In times past, particularly during the aforementioned Golden Age of Hollywood, there was an understood expectation that a movie would always have some kind of redeeming value for society. In other words, a film could deal with extremely serious and even disturbing subject matter, but in the end, there was always some kind of insight gained about the human condition that was edifying for the audience. There was an implicit understanding that the whole point of art itself is to portray inherent truths about the nature of humanity and existence in new, imaginative, and enriching ways.

This is in stark contrast to what many movies and TV shows do today. In the name of “realism” and “free expression,” murders are shown in full and unnecessary gratuitous detail, sex scenes and nudity are clearly used for titillation instead of suggestion, and vile profanity and blasphemy is spewed unflinchingly and continuously without a second thought. All of this is often included in modern films and shows without any thought to how it might negatively affect the minds and behaviors of the viewing public.

But something much more insidious and disturbing is now happening. With movies like The Hunt, we are seeing humanity’s darkest and most evil tendencies being dredged up from the depths of our basest subconscious imaginings and being made into a movie. In other words, our darkest and most evil human instincts are being expertly filmed and acted out by Hollywood’s professional directors, cinematographers, and actors and being presented to society for public consumption.

When creative license is left to its own totally unrestrained devices, this is often the result. In a society where mass shootings happen with disturbing regularity and where the coarsening of our public discourse and behavior continues unabated, making major motion pictures like The Hunt for wide release is, in a psychological sense, akin to dumping a bucket of red meat next to a pasture of sheep in the countryside where wolves are known to prowl. While I’m sure that the filmmakers of The Hunt didn’t make the movie to intentionally incite violence, do they not care about the movie contributing to a coarsening of our culture toward increased hatred and violence? Did they not think of its potential danger to inspire deranged individuals to commit violence and murder?

3 Steps to Take for Believing Viewers

As believers, we should pray often for the filmmaking and television industry, that all filmmakers, actors, and writers be given a basic sense of self-restraint. These people know in their heart of hearts that it is wrong to make movies like The Hunt, but they do it anyways to get a cheap thrill or to concede to financial and societal pressures. We must pray that their consciences guide them to make movies and TV shows that have redeemable value for society.

Second, we must put our resources where our own hearts are by supporting the aspiring artists in our own believing communities to enter the film and television industries and make a difference for true artistry that celebrates the true, the good, and the beautiful.

Third, we must carefully discern which movies we go to see at the theater and which movies and TV shows we choose to watch on platforms like Netflix and Amazon. These companies are carefully analyzing which kinds of movies and shows are the most popular so that they can make more content like them and consequently make more money. Our decisions to only watch movies and shows that have redeemable value are important in showing the industry that people actually want to see movies that have something valuable to say about the human condition instead of being mindlessly entertained by gratuitously graphic garbage.

Pro-Life Converts: Dr. Bernard Nathanson

by Lauren Kaylor

August 14, 2019

After coming to terms with the reality of abortion, the co-founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League (which has since been renamed to NARAL Pro-Choice America) became fiercely pro-life only a few months after the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

NARAL is one of the oldest and largest abortion activist groups in America. Founded in 1969, NARAL contributed rigorous pro-choice momentum to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. Only a few months after the decision, NARAL’s co-founder and medical spokesperson, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, began a long and painful journey coming to terms with the fact that he had been incredibly wrong about abortion. Nathanson spent the rest of his life dedicated to exposing NARAL’s language distortion, lies, and deceptive strategies that have misled so many Americans into calling themselves “pro-choice.”

As an OB-GYN, Dr. Nathanson claimed responsibility for 60,000 abortions, including those performed by Planned Parenthood abortionists whom he trained. He began to grapple with the dark reality of killing children soon after he viewed a real-time ultrasound. In a 1974 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, he wrote, “I am deeply troubled by my own increasing certainty that I had in fact presided over 60,000 deaths.”

Dr. Nathanson was so troubled that he even attempted to take his own life. Thankfully, he befriended a Catholic priest who led him into a relationship with God. In 1996, he was baptized and confirmed into the Catholic Church. Nathanson wrote several books including The Hand of God: A Journey from Death to Life by the Abortion Doctor who Changed his Mind, and made documentaries including Eclipse of Reason and The Silent Scream. Until the time of his death at age 84, Dr. Nathanson tried to convince the world of the truth about abortion. On his deathbed, he instructed his friend Terry Beatley to tell Americans how and why he deceived the American Courts and public.

The Jargon of “Choice”

NARAL developed deceptive strategies in the 1960s that still loom large to this day in American colloquial discourse. Because referring to abortion as “the right to kill your unborn baby” is distasteful to the human heart, Dr. Nathanson admitted that NARAL intentionally crafted new language and slogans to make abortion sound more agreeable. NARAL framed the debate to be about the “choice” to stay pregnant. This same language of “choice” is used ubiquitously today. Interestingly, pregnant women used to always be referred to as “with child,” and it is telling that we have largely abandoned that preposition in the English language today.

Lie, Lie, Lie

Dr. Nathanson took advantage of his accolades, knowing that he could fabricate facts and figures because the public would trust him as a medical doctor. Over-calculated statistics today stem from Dr. Nathanson’s lies. In The Hand of God: A Journey from Death to Life by the Abortion Doctor Who Changed His Mind, Nathanson exposes the fabricated statistics that bolstered Roe v. Wade. According to his confessions, in the 1960s, he claimed that there were one million illegal abortions being done annually and that 5,000-10,000 women died from them every year. Nathanson later admitted that the actual figures were 98,000 illegal abortions and around 250 women that died annually. To put this in perspective, he confessed to over-estimating by over 1,000 percent the number of illegal abortions, and by 4,000 percent the number of women who died.

Another false statistic that Dr. Nathanson propagated around the time of the Roe v. Wade decision was that 60 percent of Americans wanted abortion-on-demand to be legal. In reality, this number was around 50 percent. To this day, despite 50 years of pro-choice propaganda dominating the mainstream media and Hollywood, this figure has remained largely unchanged.  

Manipulate the Catholics 

The Catholic Church has always held that life begins at conception and therefore opposes abortion. Known as “The Catholic Strategy,” a deadly political maneuver to sustain the abortion industry, Dr. Nathanson admitted that NARAL specifically preyed on and deceived Catholic politicians into supporting legalized abortion, which made it easier to convince non-Catholics to stomach the idea.

NARAL convinced Catholic leaders that they could remain “personally pro-life,” but could still vote for politicians who were pro-choice. Dr. Nathanson called this “the most brilliant strategy of all time.” Any time a Catholic politician softened their stance on abortion, NARAL emphasized the fact and blamed the Catholic Church for any woman’s death from an illegal abortion.

Abortion is Not Love

On his deathbed, Dr. Nathanson begged Terry Beatley to deliver his personal parting message: “Tell America that the co-founder of NARAL says to love one another. Abortion is not love. Stop the killing. The world needs more love. I’m all about love now.”

Beatley has honored his request by launching an educational nonprofit called the Hosea Initiative, and writing What If We’ve Been Wrong? The book exposes the abortion industry for exploiting women, killing children, having racist roots, and being inextricably connected with the deception of women.

In Dr. Nathanson’s resignation letter from NARAL in 1975, he stated:

The annual dues to NARAL are ten dollars and the hubris of certainty. Regretfully, I can no longer meet those dues.”

Lauren Kaylor is an intern for Life, Culture, and Women’s Advocacy at Family Research Council.

Pregnant Women Aren’t Foolish. So Why Do Pro-Choicers Treat Them Like They Are?

by Bailey Zimmitti

August 12, 2019

Those dedicated to the pro-life movement understand that there are two people in need of defense in an unplanned pregnancy—the woman and her unborn child. The child’s undeniable right to life is an obvious subject of focus among pro-lifers, but the women carrying these children need attention too.

No sensible person would think that poverty and other adverse life circumstances render a person foolish or less dignified. So why does our society often treat women with unplanned pregnancies like they’re ignorant? Why do we treat these women like they need a savior to rescue them instead of like the dignified grown women that they are?

In 2017, while volunteering for a pregnancy resource center (PRC) called ABC Women’s Center in Middletown, Connecticut, I witnessed for myself the abhorrent savior complex of pro-abortion advocates. On an early Wednesday morning, our staff got word of a protest that was co-organized by NARAL Pro-Choice CT and Lady Parts Justice League as a part of the “#exposefakeclinics” campaign. What NARAL did not consider was that since we served many single mothers, and that since it was the summer when kids are not in school, the mothers always took their kids with them to come for parenting classes and other services at ABC. We didn’t want them or their children to be forcefully exposed to that kind of hurtful rhetoric. But when the mothers asked why we were asking them to reschedule, we told them the truth—and they were angry. Very angry.

And then something amazing happened: our clients asked to come and peacefully counter-protest the anti-pregnancy center protest. And we listened. We bought signs, markers, and water bottles, and our coalition of mothers and ministers were ready when NARAL arrived.

Oftentimes in the abortion debate, we talk about giving women with unplanned pregnancies a voice where they previously did not have one. That’s exactly what happened at the ABC Women’s Center in Middletown—these women spoke for themselves. But instead of listening, Connecticut’s pro-abortion activists are covering their ears. They targeted pregnancy centers again this past month with a dangerous piece of legislation aimed at undermining PRCs.

On June 6, HB7070, “An Act Concerning Deceptive Advertising Practices of Limited Services Pregnancy Centers” thankfully failed in the Connecticut State Senate after it was not called on for a vote by midnight. One of the most frustrating aspects of this debate was that the proponents of the bill could not cite a single complaint filed against any pregnancy center in the state. This clearly shows that these kinds of actions from the Left do not concern the safety and flourishing of women; they are instead focused on advancing their own agendas at any cost, even if it means stifling the voices of real women with real unplanned pregnancies.

The Left’s narrative is that “deceptive advertising” is used by pregnancy resource centers and that low-income women of color must be protected from the wicked snares of white conservative Christians. This narrative is a lie. Women with unplanned pregnancies already have individual, dignified, worthy voices—and trust me, they have plenty to say. The problem is that we are not listening.

The mothers from ABC came on that scorching day in 2017 so that the liberal elitist voices wouldn’t drown out theirs. One pro-abortion woman dressed in a superhero outfit spoke into a microphone about giving voice to the voiceless—while the very women she claimed to defend stood in front of her expressing exactly what they need and want.

Women who are facing unplanned pregnancies are not stupid, so let’s not speak for them. Let’s listen to them and to the men and women who work with and for them.

Pro-choicers have created a narrative that says that a pregnant mother’s choice to accept help to carry her unplanned baby to term isn’t a worthy choice. This is not “pro-choice”—it’s pro-abortion.

Pro-choice activists cannot continue to berate pro-lifers for “not doing anything” when the work that pro-lifers are doing to help mothers to make an informed choice is being jeopardized by legislation and activism from the same group who claims that “choice” is everything.

Bailey Zimmitti was an intern at Family Research Council.

Tell the government what you think. Should conscience rights be protected? Should discrimination based on sex include ‘gender identity?’

by FRC

August 8, 2019

Do you ever wish that government officials had to listen to what you have to say? Comment here and they must review your comment. No, really, it’s required by federal law.

The Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is considering a rule making important changes to Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and is still taking public comments. This rule would protect the conscience rights of people of faith who have a moral objection to performing abortions. It would also undo an Obama-era regulation on Section 1557 that shoehorned “gender identity” into the definition of “sex” (as opposed to meaning just “male” and “female”).

Here’s what Family Research Council Action said in an alert on this HHS Rule:

Doctors – and patients – need your help! Here’s how: send a comment to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar! The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a proposed rule to remove old Obama Administration regulations that would prevent doctors from being able to treat patients based strictly on science, biology, and their medical judgment!

The old regulation said that “sex” means “gender identity” meaning that if a doctor didn’t affirm a patient’s self-identified gender they could be sued for discrimination. Medical judgment and what is best for the patient didn’t matter!

Just a few weeks ago a woman sadly lost her baby because she presented to the hospital as a man and she was not properly diagnosed has having pregnancy-related difficulties.

In order to help ensure that this bad regulation is replaced, HHS needs to hear from you today! By law, HHS is required to review your public comment so your voice will be heard! Even if you comment anonymously! The activists on the left are mobilizing comments and your voice is needed!

Please comment today!

Thank you!

Speaking the Truth in Love: How The Bachelorette Got It Both Wrong and Right

by Laura Grossberndt

August 8, 2019

Is it ever okay for a Christian to question or “judge” the behavior of another person, particularly if that person also professes to be a Christian? ABC’s wildly popular reality dating show The Bachelorette, which wrapped up its 15th season last week, served as an unconventional and unexpected proving ground for this deeply theological question.

This season’s star of The Bachelorette, Hannah Brown, openly describes herself as a follower of Jesus and a woman of faith. One of her suitors, Luke Parker, is also a professing Christian. In the season premiere, Luke described the moment he decided to put his faith in Jesus and make a lifestyle change which included abstaining from sex until marriage. Luke quickly emerged as a frontrunner for the coveted “final rose” and Hannah’s love—and their seemingly shared faith was a primary reason.

The would-be couple’s budding relationship quickly turned turbulent, however, as Luke was constantly at odds with the other men seeking Hannah’s favor. But Luke’s sometimes imprudent behavior and immature reactions to interpersonal conflict were just precursors to the season’s most explosive drama: a highly-charged conversation concerning premarital sex.

We Can’t Have Grace Without Repentance

Luke wanted a verbal confirmation from Hannah that they were on the same page about saving sex for marriage. He tells Hannah that he would remove himself from the competition if she (hypothetically) were to reveal to him that she had been sexually intimate with another man on the show. Hannah then says that she has had sex with another one of her suitors, and while “sex might be a sin out of marriage,” she is confident Jesus loves her despite it.

Hannah compares Luke’s desire to end their relationship to the famous John 8 account of the woman caught in adultery. Hannah views Luke’s disapproval of her actions as him holding a metaphorical stone in front of her face. In her opinion, Luke’s sin of pride precludes him from objecting to her behavior.

Is Hannah right?

For context’s sake, here are some key takeaways from John’s account of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:2-11):

  • Jesus shone a light on the sinful nature of all those involved.
  • Jesus is the only one without sin.
  • Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery.
  • Jesus forgave the woman and instructed her to go and sin no more.

The woman caught in adultery committed sexual sin; and yes, Jesus still loved her. While Jesus, by virtue of his sinlessness, had the right to condemn sin, He does something unexpected, yet in keeping with His mission to fulfill the law. He extends grace (“neither do I condemn you”) while also instructing her to repent and change (“go and sin no more”).

Many want the grace Jesus offers without the repentance. But we cannot have one without the other. Receiving God’s grace is inextricably tied to repentance.

Avoiding Hypocritical Judgment

Can a Christian call another Christian to account for their sin? Was Luke wrong to find fault in Hannah’s actions?

In Matthew 7, Jesus warns his followers against judging others while simultaneously ignoring their own sin, because “with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”

Does that mean Christians can never judge the actions and behavior of others? No. The Apostle Paul tells the Corinthians to judge those within the church and refuse them the status of “brother” if they continue in patterns of unrepentant sin:

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13)

Speaking the Truth in Love

The act of a Christian calling another Christian to account for their sin can be a loving one, provided it is done out of a desire to help the other Christian toward righteousness, and that it is done with tenderness and humility, recognizing one’s own sinfulness and need for God’s forgiveness.

Christians (“little Christs”) get our name because we are called to follow the example of Jesus. We are called to forgive one another and pursue holiness in our personal and corporate life. It is easy to emphasize one to the neglect of the other. However, to faithfully follow Christ, we need to be walking in both forgiveness and repentance. Extending forgiveness without requiring repentance leaves someone still under the curse of sin, while repentance that is not accompanied by forgiveness is antithetical to the gospel’s offer of reconciliation with God.

Hannah and Luke’s conversation in the late stages of the show reveals they were not as likeminded on sex and theology as they initially thought. A lot of pain and heartache could have been avoided if this conversation had taken place much earlier in their relationship. Whether one is a professing Christian or not, if you have radically different opinions on sex than the person you are dating, you should not be dating them. Those irreconcilable differences will inevitably cause problems down the road.

However, in addition to their disagreements about sexual intimacy, Hannah and Luke also displayed different, improper, and inadequate reactions to sin. Hannah demonstrated lack of remorse for the actions Jesus tenderly warns against. While Luke is justified for wanting to be on the same page about sexual intimacy as his potential future spouse, his manner of approaching the topic needed more Christ-like humility and discernment. Scripture speaks to both improper perspectives:

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. (1 Timothy 5:1-2)

[S]peaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ … [L]let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. … Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:15, 25-27, 31-32)

Wisdom says a reality dating show such as The Bachelor or The Bachelorette is not the ideal environment for Christians to find a spouse. The concept of dating multiple people at one time, while being cut off from the fellowship and counsel of friends, family, and church community for several weeks, is not a recipe for righteous living or lasting love (Proverbs 18:1, Hebrews 10:24-25).

But while it may be unwise, that does not mean that those appearing on the show who profess to be Christians are not sincere in their profession. While I do not know either Hannah or Luke personally, I wish nothing but the best for them and hope this experience will drive them closer to God and to a better understanding of sin, the gospel, true love, and compassion in Jesus Christ.

This season’s viewers of The Bachelorette probably did not expect to encounter conversations about sin and the nature of God’s forgiveness. However, the contestants are real-life people wrestling with real-life problems, and it is only natural for two people contemplating marriage to want to agree on matters as weighty as theology and sex. Unfortunately, the seriousness of sin and its consequences was minimized, while the love and forgiveness of the gospel was inadequately conveyed. Despite what The Bachelorette may have led its audience to believe, Christians are right to judge the behavior of other Christians, provided we do so out of Christ-like compassion, speaking the truth in love.

Laura Grossberndt is on staff at Family Research Council.

Isolation, White Supremacy, and Despair: A Christian Response to El Paso

by David Closson

August 7, 2019

Two horrifying mass shootings over the weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio shocked the nation and renewed an ongoing discussion about domestic terrorism, mental health, violent video games, and gun control. While details are still emerging about what motivated the Dayton shooter, a manifesto posted online by the El Paso shooter lists a litany of grievances and conspiratorial ideas underlined by white supremacist ideology.

Addressing the attacks in a speech to the nation on Monday, President Trump directly repudiated white supremacist ideology which has been linked to other domestic terrorist attacks around the world including Quebec (2017), Charlottesville (2017), Pittsburgh (2018), and Christchurch, New Zealand (2019).

The president explained, “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart, and devours the soul.”

In the wake of such tragedy, many are asking why mass shootings keep happening in America. Since Sunday, political leaders, pundits, and commentators have taken turns focusing on video games, congressional inaction, political rhetoric, the deinstitutionalization of mental health, gun laws, and the breakdown of the family.

While some of these factors may help create a toxic environment, none of them explain why mass shootings and other violent attacks occur. This is because these explanations overlook the underlying spiritual reality of human sin.

Objective Hatred Is at the Root of Ethnic Animus

Intuitively, something is clearly not right in the world; the reality of evil is evident and confronts us daily. In fact, evil is so pervasive that it is tempting to despair and become numb to the pain around us. However, the Bible explains that the intractable evil in society and our own disordered desires and corrupt wills are the result of the fall and humanity’s rebellion against God (Gen. 3). Sin separates us from God and each other.

Jesus warned about the evil that would spring from within us and be directed at fellow human beings: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matt. 15:19). He warns even against anger with one another: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment” (Matt. 5:21-22).

Tragically, one of the manifestations of sin is hatred directed toward others based on our perception that they are from a different ethnic background from us. Referring to the El Paso shooting, Albert Mohler made the connection between the human heart and this type of animus, explaining, “Hatred has an object, in this case, a human object. It appears that Hispanic immigrants were at the center of that young man’s hatred.”

The Christian worldview speaks directly to the issue of the walls our sinful hearts might erect based on skin color and ethnicity. The Bible teaches that everyone is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Additionally, the gospel is for all people; Christ died for everyone, and in him believers from every tongue, nation, and tribe are reconciled to God and each other in “one new man” (Eph. 2:14-16). In terms of access to God, the Bible is clear: distinctions based on background and ethnicity are abolished in the new covenant (Gal. 3:28-29, Col. 3:11). In heaven, people from “every nation, from all tribes and peoples and language” will praise God (Rev. 7:9). Consequently, any ideology that re-erects distinctions based on ethnicity are sinful, and most be strongly repudiated by the church.

The president is right to point out that this type of hatred “warps the mind, ravages the heart, and devours the soul.” Christians, who worship Jesus, a Middle Eastern Jewish man, must be clear that white supremacy—the absurd belief that those of European descent with lighter skin pigment are superior to others—is antithetical to the gospel and has absolutely no place in the church.

Social Isolation Dehumanizes Us

Another aspect of this story is the epidemic of young, white men who are increasingly disenchanted with society. This is clearly seen in the shooter’s manifesto where he reportedly talks of his fears that his dream job will be “automated” and that ethnic groups other than his own “will take control” of the government “to better suit their needs.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board noted this disturbing trend of young men who feel left out of society. They write, “This is the rant of someone angry about a society he doesn’t feel a part of and doesn’t comprehend. It is all-too-typical of most of these young male killers who tend to be loners and marinate in notions they absorb in the hours they spend online. They are usually disconnected to family, neighborhood, church, colleagues at work, or anything apart from their online universe.”

This disenchantment with society, fueled by a lack of meaningful community, corrodes our ability to see dignity in other people. When we fail to appreciate the value of human life, it becomes easier to engage in dehumanizing behavior. Thus, at a time when the mediating institutions that formerly provided cultural and social cohesion are in fast decline, it is imperative for Christians to cultivate a culture in their churches that prioritizes relationships with those on the social periphery who feel alone, threatened, and upset.

Welcoming All into the Family of God

Along these lines, Andrew Walker issued a challenge to Christians:

The local church must be a place where a culture of love for God’s authority, God’s creation of humanity, God’s plan for an individual’s industry, and God’s design for the family are heralded without embarrassment. The church must be a place that speaks to the patterns of American culture that are failing people. This means that the church must be a place that is less concerned with bourgeoisie sermons about coaching Americans into a happier American dream and more concerned with pulling a culture back from the cliffs of despair.

Ultimately, human sin explains why mass shootings and other tragedies continue to occur in America and around the world. Moreover, human sin is responsible for the larger spiritual crisis that threatens to destroy unity in our nation and churches along ethnic, economic, and religious divides. In these defining moments, Christians must weep with those who weep and point to the hope of the gospel. Wicked acts of violence like the mass shootings over the weekend are the effect of a deep pathology that’s only cured by a relationship with Christ and inclusion in the family of God.

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