Month Archives: March 2021

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of March 7)

by Family Research Council

March 12, 2021

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

1. Update: Evangelicals for Biden Lose Faith in Joe

They can’t say they weren’t warned. Everyone in America knew where Joe Biden stood on abortion—because he told them, in 13 debates, multiple campaign ads, and a Planned Parenthood townhall. If Evangelicals for Biden want to say they never saw this COVID bill and its abortion funding coming, then they were the only ones.

2. Update: Political Correctness Run a Duck

Not only is the mob overbearing and hypocritical, but humorless too. They’ve targeted gender-insensitive Mr. Potato Head to Pepe Le Pew, a Looney Tunes skunk the New York Times accuses of “normalizing rape culture.” Now, the fictional duck, Mallard Fillmore, is being banned in newspapers across the country.

3. Blog: Thinking Biblically About “Christian Nationalism”

The phrase “Christian nationalism” has been receiving a lot of attention in American public discourse recently. Conversations about this ideology predate the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6; however, there has been renewed interest in the topic since these events transpired. But what exactly is Christian nationalism, and what should Bible-believing Christians think about it?

4. Blog: More Nigerian Schoolgirls Kidnapped while a Christian Pastor Pleads for His Life

On February 26, another kidnapping of hundreds of female students in Nigeria was reported less than a week following the three-year anniversary of the abduction of well-known Nigerian kidnapping victim Leah Sharibu. According to some observers, these widespread kidnappings represent cooperation between Boko Haram and Fulani radicals who may, in turn, have influence over the Nigerian government.

5. Washington Watch: Sen. Rand Paul Argues It’s Not Bigotry to Want Oversight for a Child’s Life-Changing Gender Care

Senator Rand Paul, a medical doctor, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the opposition to Rachel Levine’s nomination as HHS Assistant Secretary, and biological boys identifying as transgender competing in female sports.

6. Washington Watch: Travis Weber Debunks the Left’s Talking Points on H.R. 1 and the Equality Act

Travis Weber, FRC’s Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs, joined Tony Perkins to discuss how listeners can take action to oppose H.R. 1—the Democrat’s election takeover bill, the Equality Act, the Fairness for All Act, and the Becerra nomination.

7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: Free and Fair Elections

On this edition of Pray Vote Stand, Tony Perkins, Ken Blackwell, and Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) look at H.R. 1 and unpack what Americans can do to improve election integrity and share what strides states are making to fix election problems.

FRC On the Hill (March 8-12): Covid Relief Spending, a Radical Foreign Policy Agenda, and Extreme Nominees

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP , Joseph Norris

March 12, 2021

Family Research Council wrapped up another busy week monitoring activity in Congress that affects life, family, and religious freedom and being your voice on Capitol Hill. Here are the most important Hill items FRC worked on this week.

Congress Passes the American Rescue Plan Act, Sending $450 Billion to the Abortion Industry

This week Congress passed, and President Biden signed, the American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package that has more to do with funding abortion than providing necessary relief to Americans. The bill was rammed through both chambers of Congress and despite Biden’s promise of unity, did not receive the support of a single Republican. Throughout the process, FRC worked diligently to add in key provisions that would prohibit taxpayer funding for abortion and promote religious freedom.

The bill includes funding for a litany of things, some having to do with the pandemic such as testing, vaccines, and economic relief in the form of stimulus checks. However this relief is held hostage by the  billions that lack bipartisan restrictions on federal funding for abortion. For the first time in decades, taxpayer money can and likely will go to directly paying for ending the lives of the unborn. This in addition to the $10 billion that can be used to lobby for abortion overseas. The FRC team spent the week informing senators and members of Congress about just how much this bill subsidizes the abortion industry.

While Biden is trumpeting this bill as a “historic victory” for Americans, it is a devastating loss for the unborn and the consciences of Americans who do not want their taxpayer funds paying for the horrific practice of abortion.

See FRC’s resource for more information:

Secretary of State Charts out Biden’s Radical Foreign Policy Agenda

Secretary of State Antony Blinken appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to highlight the foreign policy priorities of the Biden administration. Right from the beginning in his opening statement, Blinken openly stated the goals of promoting “women’s reproductive rights” and advancing “LGBT rights” across the globe. As a result, FRC has been tracking the Biden administration’s foreign policy actions to make transparent how dramatic of a shift this is from the policies implemented under the Trump administration.

Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.), a strong advocate for the unborn, directly challenged Blinken’s support for countries with population control programs and urged the administration to “speak out” against China and their forced abortion policy. Rather than committing to taking action, Blinken repeated his pledge that we need to focus on human rights across the globe.

The White House also took action this week to entrench a radical sexuality ideology by establishing a new Gender Policy Council via Executive Order. The stated goals of the Council include advancing gender identity and abortion in both domestic and foreign policy. The report stated the need to “promote sexual and reproductive health and rights” across the globe.

Biden’s Executive Orders and Blinken’s statements during the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing showcase the unilateral action the Biden administration plans to take on abortion and human sexuality. This is a far cry from Biden’s promise of unity and Blinken’s repeated promise to work with Congress.

The Senate Continues to Advance Biden’s Radical Nominees

This week, FRC was focused on informing senators about the radical positions of Biden’s nominees, as they are up for confirmation in the Senate. While many of Biden’s picks are concerning, these are the individuals chosen who warrant the most concern:

Shalanda Young: Nominated to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, Young was advanced by the Senate Homeland Security Committee despite all Republicans present voting no. Senator Lankford provided great remarks explaining their opposition, highlighting Young’s shocking opposition to the Hyde Amendment and other protections against forcing doctors to perform abortions. See FRC’s blog on Young here.

Marcia Fudge: The Senate voted 66-36 to confirm Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) as the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Based on her record in Congress, there are deep concerns that Fudge will roll back protections for religious liberty in the name of LGBTQ equality. See FRC’s blog on Fudge here.

Merrick Garland: Confirmed by a 70-30 vote to be the next U.S. Attorney General, Garland passed with bipartisan support. This is in spite of reservations about a repeat of the Obama administration’s Justice Department.

Xavier Becerra: With a radical track record, Becerra needed a discharge petition vote of 51-48 to bring his nomination to the Senate floor, after a deadlocked vote in the Senate Finance Committee. Despite grave concerns over Becerra’s strong history supporting abortion, both Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine) who have supported pro-life legislation in the past, publicly supported his nomination. See FRC’s blog on Becerra here.

Other Notable Items FRC Tracked This Week

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Vanita Gupta to be an associate attorney general. Gupta has taken radical positions on drug legalization and religious freedom protections.
  • The House Appropriations Committee held a hearing on expanding veterans access to fertility services with a goal of expanding in-vitro fertilization procedures for veterans without pro-life restrictions to protect human embryos from being destroyed.
  • The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on loosening federal policies on controlled substances. Democrat leaders used the hearing to push legalizing marijuana as a social justice issue. 

The Crisis of Fatherlessness and the Opportunity of Mentorship

by Grant Elledge

March 12, 2021

One in four.

It’s hard for many of us to grasp the extent of the silent social crisis of fatherlessness, but in the United States almost exactly one quarter of all children are growing up without a dad. This fraction doesn’t include children growing up with a stepdad, living in a co-parenting arrangement where dad is present at least a few days a week, living with adoptive fathers, or in any other non-traditional family structure—over 20 million U.S. kids are living without a man they can point to and say, “That’s my dad.”

The natural question that flows from this is, “Does it matter?” Both the research and anecdotal evidence shout a resounding “yes.” To take just a few examples, we know that fatherless individuals are:

And beyond this, the issue is itself cyclical and generational. Over 70 percent of unplanned pregnancies involve at least one parent who is themselves fatherless, and the vast majority of fatherless children are born out of unplanned pregnancies.

And so another natural question arises, “How do we break this cycle?” And this is where hope enters an otherwise-dismal picture: mentorship has been proven to have a categorical impact on fatherless individuals.

Thanks to a doctoral thesis from 2003, we can demonstrate just that based on a somewhat unusual metric: homicide rates. The only external context you need is what the author refers to as “old heads”—these are older individuals invested in their community and the lives of the young adults they’re connected to.

The thesis points out that the rate of male homicide is much higher than the rate of female homicide. Also, the influence of old heads (mentors) is relatively small on people growing up with dads, but significant on people growing up without dads. As a result, we can see that:

  • The relative risk of fatherless males committing a homicide without the presence of old heads is six compared to only four for females.
  • The relative risk of fatherless males committing a homicide with high presence of old heads is one—no more likely than their fathered counterparts—compared to two for females.

Combining these insights is dramatic: the influence of mentorship on fatherless males is significant, even significantly greater than the influence of mentorship on fatherless females. And combining this observation with the much higher homicide rate committed by males leads us to something incredible: effective mentor presence just for fatherless males (one in eight people, half of the one in four fatherless kids) may significantly reduce the homicide rate, perhaps cutting it in half—not to mention helping to reverse the myriad other trends we sampled earlier.

And so we arrive at the burning need: committed, loving men to support young dads. I’ve been blown away by the immediate connection in my personal mentorship relationship. The first time we spent meaningful time together in person (admittedly, after a long period of time pursuing him), he remarked, “I’ve never had someone who knows me so little care about me so much.” What a profoundly kind and encouraging statement! This young man is wrestling through the prospect of going to college while supporting a young family after graduating near the top of his class. It’s been a thrilling opportunity to support this young man who lives just three blocks from me.

How encouraging, how surprising, how exciting to have the prospect of this breadth of impact within all of our reach!

Grant Elledge is the CEO of fathering.me, a growing nonprofit committed to mentoring young fathers of unplanned babies and meeting the needs of those new dads with accessible online resources. He lives in Harrisburg, Pa. with his wife, Elaine, and their precocious 2.5-year-old, Peter.

Biden’s Cabinet (Part 5): Abortion Extremist Neera Tanden May Soon Be Replaced With Another – Shalanda Young

by Ruth Moreno

March 11, 2021

This is Part 5 of a blog series examining the records of President Biden’s Cabinet picks on abortion and family issues. Read previous posts on Antony BlinkenXavier BecerraJennifer Granholm, and Marcia Fudge.

President Biden’s latest cabinet pick is another pro-abortion extremist. After Neera Tanden’s nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget was withdrawn over her radical policy positions, many senators, including Republicans, rallied around Shalanda Young, his nominee to be Deputy Director of OMB as an alternative to Tanden. Unfortunately, during her nomination hearing, it was revealed that Young opposes both the Hyde Amendment and the Weldon Amendment, bipartisan measures meant to prevent tax dollars from funding abortion and protect the conscience rights of pro-life Americans.

Young’s responses to Senator James Lankford’s (R-Okla.) questions for the record after a March 4 committee hearing confirm these radical positions. When asked about the Hyde Amendment, which has stopped taxpayer dollars from being used to pay for elective abortions since 1976, Young responded as follows:

If confirmed I will follow the laws put forth by Congress and signed by the President. The President has spoken in favor of Congress ending the Hyde Amendment as part of his commitment to providing comprehensive health care for all women. Further, eliminating the Hyde Amendment is a matter of economic and racial justice because it most significantly impacts Medicaid recipients, who are low-income and more likely to be women of color.

Young’s response, far from being a straightforward statement about the law or about the Biden administration’s policy agenda, suggests that she is an active supporter of the elimination of the Hyde Amendment. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said as much when he explained why he voted against confirming Young:

I had planned to support Ms. Young based on her testimony before the committee,” Portman said. “In reviewing her answers to the committee’s questions for the record, though, I’ve got to say I was really troubled by her responses, particularly her strong advocacy for eliminating the Hyde amendment.”

Young’s position on the Weldon Amendment is equally worrisome. The Weldon Amendment, which protects individuals who have a religious or moral objection to participating in an abortion, has been included in funding bills since 2005. This important conscience protection withholds federal funding from agencies or programs that discriminate against health care providers that do not pay for or promote abortion, but Young’s response when asked about the Weldon Amendment did not suggest her support:

If confirmed I will follow the laws put forth by Congress and signed by the President. The President has laid out a health care plan that would provide comprehensive health care for all women, including reproductive health care services.

Young gave Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) nearly identical responses, adding that if she is confirmed to the position as Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget, she “will work with the Department of Health and Human Services to determine the effect the Weldon Amendment has on healthcare implementation, especially vulnerable populations.”

Young is right that public servants should consider the needs of vulnerable populations, but abortion is not the solution. Forcing pro-life Americans to fund a practice they believe is morally equivalent to murder and penalizing health care providers with religious or moral objections to abortion does nothing for the needy. Young should know better than to disguise her opposition to the Hyde and Weldon amendments as concern for the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed.

Abigail Adams: A Force for Women’s Rights and Abolition

by Molly Carman

March 11, 2021

Women’s History Month is a great opportunity to commemorate the contributions of God-fearing women in American history. Women have played an important role in our nation’s history and the women in this series represent those who have faithfully, courageously, and humbly served their families, communities, and our nation. Periodically throughout the month of March, we will be sharing some of these inspiring stories.

Abigail Smith Adams is best known as the wife of our nation’s second president, John Adams, and the mother of our sixth president, John Quincy Adams. She served as the close advisor and confidant of her husband and the first teacher of her son. But Abigail was also a formidable public figure in her own right. She was among the first to advocate for equal rights for American women. She also promoted formal education for girls and staunchly opposed slavery.

Abigail was born on November 11, 1744, in Weymouth, Massachusetts. Her father was a Congregationalist minister, and her mother was the daughter of John Quincy, who served as Speaker of the Massachusetts Assembly for over 40 years. Abigail was the second oldest of five children and stood barely over five feet tall. She did not receive a formal education as a young woman (this was common at the time); however, she was taught to read and write by her mother at home and availed herself of the family library, where she learned philosophy, theology, government, and law. She also read the classics and Shakespeare’s plays. Abigail was raised on the family farm, but her poor health as a child relegated her to spending most of her days indoors, writing letters and reading books.

On October 25, 1764, 19-year-old Abigail Smith married 28-year-old lawyer John Adams, who is said to have greatly admired her for her intellect and opinionated nature. They had six children together (one was stillborn). The oldest, Abigail (“Nabby”), was born nine months after their marriage. Her second oldest and most famous child, John Quincy Adams, was born in 1767. Sadly, Abigail buried four of her children over the course of her life—only John Quincy and Thomas, her second youngest, outlived her. Aside from the large task of raising and educating her children, Abigail also worked closely with her husband to run the series of farms they rented before finally buying their own farm, “Peacefield,” in 1787.

In 1774, John headed to Philadelphia to join the First Continental Congress. The couple began a long correspondence, wherein John would ask his wife’s advice and opinions on various political matters. They also provided each other with updates on the family farm, Congress, the war for independence, and personal matters. In one letter, Abigail expressed her disdain for the institution of slavery:

I wish most sincerely there was not a Slave in the province. It allways appeard a most iniquitious Scheme to me-fight ourselfs for what we are daily robbing and plundering from those who have as good a right to freedom as we have. You know my mind upon this Subject.

In 1775, Abigail was appointed to serve as a judge of Tory ladies by the Massachusetts Colony General Court. The governor’s wife, Hannah Winthrop, and poet and playwright Mercy Warren were other prominent appointees. During this time, Abigail also worked alongside Judith Sargent Murray, who wrote one of the earliest books on women’s equality, On the Equality of the Sexes. Adams and Murray both wanted women to have the opportunity for formal education, property rights, and control of their earnings.

In July of 1776, the Continental Congress agreed upon the Declaration of Independence, and freedom from Britain was on the horizon. It was at this time that Abigail wrote her most famous piece of correspondence to her husband, a letter that has since been referred to as “Remember the Ladies.” In this letter, she pleads with John to do what he can to allow women equal opportunity to participate in the new union. She notes, “Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could.” Although Abigail’s wishes were not immediately realized, her words of wisdom encouraged the creation of public policies to protect women’s rights down the road.

From 1778-88, John served as a U.S. ambassador to England and France. During the first five years of his time abroad, Abigail kept her husband informed of the young country’s new policies and progress while he confided in her on international affairs. She joined her husband in London in 1783, and they remained there until shortly before John was elected to serve as the first vice president under George Washington, from 1789-1797. John greatly respected his wife, and when he was elected the second president of the United States (1797-1801), he wrote her these words, “I never wanted your Advice and assistance more in my life.” John and Abigail Adams were the first presidential family to occupy the White House, although it was later burned down by the British during the War of 1812 and had to be rebuilt.

Although her husband was the president, the public was equally familiar with Abigail, due to her nature of speaking her mind on any and every matter. Her support for her husband’s positions, bills, and opinions on various political issues resulted in her own reputation being criticized in public. While serving as first lady, she went as her husband’s proxy and inspected a military regiment, continued to advance women’s rights to education, and promoted the abolition of slavery. In a particularly memorable incident, Abigail sought to have a free black boy named James admitted to an evening school to learn cyphering. She recounted the story in a letter to John:

The Boy is a Freeman as much as any of the young Men, and merely because his Face is Black, is he to be denied instruction? How is he to be qualified to procure a livelihood? Is this the Christian principle of doing to others, as we would have others do to us?

Throughout her letters to her husband during their 54 years of marriage, Abigail frequently referenced Scripture to encourage him and as a reminder of the Lord’s grace and sovereignty to guide the country. Her devotion to her husband and her country is commendable, but her true loyalty was to God, who guided her through the toils of life and enabled her to stand strong. Abigail Adams died at the age of 73 on October 28, 1818, at her home in Quincy, Massachusetts.

New Report Confirms China’s Genocide. It’s Time to Get American Companies Out of Xinjiang.

by Arielle Del Turco

March 10, 2021

Fifty global experts in international law released a report yesterday analyzing the evidence of genocide in Xinjiang. They determined that China violated every single provision in the 1948 Genocide Declaration.

As the first independent report of its kind not associated with a government, these findings add a lot of credibility to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s determination that China is committing an ongoing genocide of the Uyghur people.

Current State Department officials have recently been caught trying to avoid the responsibility to act following the genocide declaration by using the past tense to describe China’s genocide. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) called out these inconsistencies on Twitter, asking why Biden’s nominee for Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and the State Department spokesperson would “refer to genocide in Xinjiang as something in the past? Then uses ‘atrocities’ language which is legally distinct?”

The statements of the Biden administration cause confusion about an issue on which the United States must be clear: Genocide is occurring in Xinjiang, and it must be stopped.

The Genocide Declaration, which the United States has ratified, calls countries to prevent and punish genocide. A new Family Research Council report argues that one of the best ways to punish China for genocide is to target their forced labor program.

Evidence that Beijing is utilizing Uyghur detainees in vast “re-education” camps as a source of forced labor in factories across the Xinjiang region abounds. But do the international companies whose supply chains run through Xinjiang actually care?

The Wire China recently reached out to the 48 largest American businesses with operations in China to ask if they had a position on the repression of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. The silence was deafening.

Only 1 out of 48 companies expressed concern for the situation. Meanwhile, 88 percent of the companies did not respond or declined to comment. The remaining companies claimed they did not source from Xinjiang.

The silence is particularly alarming given the powerful position these large U.S. companies occupy. Nury Turkel, a Uyghur who serves on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), told The Wire China, “Corporate America is so influential in China. They try to play victim, but the business community might have more leverage trying to get China to do the right thing than the diplomats. Their responsibility is at the front and center of what we are trying to accomplish to stop the genocide.”

Some companies, including Nike, Coca-Cola, and Apple, have gone so far as to lobby to dilute bills in Congress that seek to ban products made in Xinjiang with forced labor.

Yet, in Xinjiang, some of the Trump administration’s efforts to crack down on forced labor may already be making an impact. In a bizarre act of desperation, Chinese companies are suing one U.S.-based researcher whose work has help exposed Beijing’s forced labor program. To the target, Adrian Zenz, the lawsuit indicates China is already feeling the economic hit from policies designed to target forced labor.

Uyghur activists are also calling into question whether it is appropriate for corporate sponsors to fund the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. As the Chinese government continues to deny its gross human rights abuses, it appears that the Olympics will take place in the shadow of a genocide.

Companies sponsoring the Olympics should think twice about those optics. These days, just about any unpopular opinion can get someone “canceled.” Yet, somehow, an ongoing genocide will not result in being canceled. 

These priorities are out of line, and people know it. Americans want to see their government address human rights in China. A recent Pew Research survey found that 70 percent of Americans think the U.S. should promote human rights in China, even if it harms economic relations. That is a huge number, and the Biden administration should take note.

As Beijing grows bolder in committing atrocities, it requires a response from the leader of the free world. The Biden administration should be prepared to offer that response by taking meaningful action to combat forced labor and punish Beijing for their genocide.

American Rescue Plan Act Spends Over $450 Billion that Can Fund Abortions

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP

March 10, 2021

While the American Rescue Plan Act includes funding for testing, vaccines, and other health care equipment as well as economic relief for families like stimulus checks and an expansion of the Child Tax Credit, it comes at the expense of the lives of the unborn.

The American Rescue Plan Act lacks key abortion funding restrictions on over $459 billion, breaking decades of congressional precedent on restricting federal funding for abortion.  

1. Funds that Can Directly Pay for Abortions (Up To $386.7 Billion):

  • $350 billion in funding for state and local governments with little to no guardrails against funding abortions. The funding formula is tilted towards blue states like California and New York who are more likely to abuse this money to fund abortions directly and bail out Planned Parenthood the abortion industry.
  • $8.5 billion for the Provider Relief Fund, which could be used to directly finance abortions as well as to bail out abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood
  • $7.66 billion for public health workers
  • $7.6 billion for community health centers
  • $800 million for National Health Service Corps
  • $750 million for global health activities under the Center for Disease Control
  • $500 million for rural health clinics
  • $330 million for Teaching Health Centers that operate Graduate Medical Education
  • $200 million for medical reserve corps
  • $200 million for the nurse corps
  • $200 million for programs related to sexual assault and domestic violence
  • Amounts of $10 billion for COVID medical supplies that remain after September 2022 are allowed to be spent on other public health-related activities which can include abortion.

2. Funds that Can Subsidize Abortion ($704 Million) and Abortion Lobbying ($10 Billion) Overseas:

  • $10 billion in foreign assistance funds not subject to the Siljander Amendment, allowing these funds to be used for international abortion lobbying.
    • Of these funds, $500 million in humanitarian response activities for migrants and refugees by the United Nations also lack Helms Amendment protections to prevent the UN from using these funds to pay for abortions.
    • Of these funds, $204 million for State Department Activities also lack Helms Amendment protections, allowing these funds to be used for abortions abroad.
    • Of these funds $8.7 billion can be spent on contraception and sterilization procedures overseas and are likely to go to the major abortion business like International Planned Parenthood and MSI Reproductive Choices that provide these services.

3. Major Subsidies for Health Plans that Cover Abortion ($81.7 Billion):

  • For 2021 and 2022, vastly expands Obamacare’s premium tax credits and cost sharing reduction payments, which subsidizes plans that cover abortion. The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimates these subsidies to cost $45.624 billion.
    • Those under 150% of federal poverty level (FPL) would receive a 100% taxpayer subsidy to enroll in silver plans.
    • Those unemployed of any income level (for 2021) would receive a 100% taxpayer subsidy to enroll in a silver plan, and enhanced cost-sharing reduction payments.
    • Those between 150% and 400% FPL would receive a much more generous subsidy than current law.
    • Middle class taxpayers above 400% FPL, ineligible under current law, would become newly eligible for a significant subsidy so that the benchmark silver premium doesn’t exceed 8.5% of household income.
  • For six months, subsidizes 100% of the cost of COBRA continuation coverage. This subsidy covers the cost of health care premiums for the newly unemployed to remain on their employer sponsored health plans, which includes many plans that cover abortion. JCT estimates these subsidies to cost $35.095 billion.

4. Bailout for Abortion Businesses ($50 Million)

  • $50 million for the Title X family planning program – The Biden administration will likely direct these funds to Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses that withdrew from Title X over pro-life changes that were made by the Trump administration. Longstanding requirements on political lobbying, encouraging parental involvement, and reporting sexual abuse are not included.

Biden’s Cabinet (Part 4): Marcia Fudge Would Roll Back Religious Liberty Protections at HUD

by Joseph Norris , Mia Steupert

March 10, 2021

This is Part 4 of a blog series examining the records of President Biden’s Cabinet picks on abortion and family issues. Read previous posts on Antony BlinkenXavier Becerra, and Jennifer Granholm.

The ongoing debate over how legal protections for sexual orientation and gender ideology impact individuals, businesses, religious institutions, and the public square will take center stage under President Biden’s administration. This is something President Biden’s nominee to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Marcia Fudge will have to grapple with if she is confirmed. The six-term Democratic Congresswoman from Ohio will be in charge of leading a department that is tasked with ensuring housing for low-income individuals through a litany of government-funded programs. It is likely that she will strengthen Obama-era regulations that prioritized LGBTQ-identified individuals over others, including women, girls, individuals of faith, and faith-based organizations.

A study released by Baylor University found that most homeless shelters in the United States are run by Christian organizations. These organizations could bear the brunt of the liberal sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) policies that are passed by HUD. If Fudge is confirmed, she will have the opportunity to renew and further the Obama-era policies that used departmental rules to elevate protections of LGBTQ-identified individuals over others. Already, she voted in favor of codifying these special protections back in 2014, which would have enforced the LBTGQ ideology on private contractors with traditional religious beliefs. President Obama used HUD to advance LGBTQ ideology, when back in 2009, his administration commissioned a study to investigate discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. This led to a 2012 rule which forced participants in HUD-assisted and HUD-insured housing programs to forfeit their religious beliefs if they wanted to continue their participation. Following this, a 2016 rule regarding HUD’s Community Planning and Development Programs was finalized which forced those participating in these programs (like sex-segregated homeless shelters) to allow biological men into private spaces intended for biological women and to forfeit their religious beliefs if they wanted to continue participation.

In 2020, the Trump administration proposed a rule to begin to roll back these regulations with then-Secretary Ben Carson remarking that this was an attempt to “better accommodate religious beliefs of shelter providers.” This rule would have given those operating as single-sex or sex-segregated facilities some flexibility in developing their own “admissions determination” policies. While the rule would not have given complete freedom, since organizations were still bound by local policy, it gave facilities more freedom to exercise their religious beliefs. Additionally, in compliance with a 2018 executive order titled “White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative,” nine federal agencies, including HUD, finalized a rule that these agencies must give faith-based organizations the same opportunities to participate in their programs as their secular counterparts. With Fudge’s past voting record as a congresswomen, her past statements and her backing by the Human Rights Campaign for her pro-LGBTQ voting record, it is safe to assume that Fudge will scale back the advances for religious liberty made at HUD by the Trump administration.

There has been no clear statement whether Congresswoman Fudge would continue these policies, but her voting record is a strong indication. During her 12 years in Congress, she developed a strong pro-LGBTQ voting record. In 2011, she sponsored a bill that would add SOGI protections to school activities and facilities. Similarly, she voted in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would have amended the Defense of Marriage Act to codify same-sex marriage. Outside of Congress she has publicly supported SOGI ideology and called for more action on the issue. Given her past record and her statements, it is likely that Marcia Fudge will not only push for a return to the regulations from the Obama administration but will also take these rules that threaten the religious liberty of Americans to new heights.

President Biden has already shown during his first few weeks in office that he has no problem advancing his liberal agenda through unilateral action. Fudge could issue memoranda or guidance and oversee rules that limit religious liberty and force organizations across the country to decide between their faith and access to greater resources to help the needy in their community, including battered women and the homeless. We should all pray that, if confirmed, Fudge’s actions do not come to fruition, for if they did, they would limit the avenues of help for those in need. If she is confirmed, we pray for a conversion of her heart and that she will use her platform to uphold the religious liberty rights of all people.

Joseph Norris is a Policy and Government Affairs intern focusing on pro-life issues.

Mia Steupert is a Policy and Government Affairs intern focusing on family and religious liberty.

IRF 101: Pakistan Is Captive to Islamist Mob Rule

by Arielle Del Turco

March 9, 2021

This blog is Part 2 of an International Religious Freedom 101 series providing an overview of religious freedom challenges in countries around the world. Read our first installment on Turkey.

Last month, a Pakistani court indefinitely delayed the appeal hearing of a Christian husband and wife accused of blasphemy, dashing the couple’s hopes for justice. Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel have been imprisoned since 2013 and on death row since 2014, on charges they say cannot possibly be true.

In June of 2013, a Muslim cleric claimed he had received a “blasphemous” text message from a SIM card registered in Shagufta’s name. The cleric and his lawyer then both claimed to receive more inciteful texts from the same SIM card. The texts were allegedly written in English. However, Shagufta and Shafqat, like many religious minorities in Pakistan, are poorly educated and illiterate, incapable of composing “blasphemous” texts in English. Yet, authorities arrested the couple and charged them both with “insulting the Qur’an” (under Section 295-B) and “insulting the Prophet” (Section 295-C). These crimes are punishable by life imprisonment and death, respectively.

Today, Shagufta and Shafqat are detained in separate prisons in different districts of the Punjab province. They are forced to stay in isolation because the authorities fear other prisoners may kill them. Shagufta’s brother, Joseph, says, “My brother-in-law is almost physically dead, as he is paralyzed and can’t move his lower body, and my sister is mentally dead as she has been living alone for over six years and also feels people may kill her, even in prison. She is very disturbed and her hair is falling out.” Meanwhile, their four children are growing up without their parents.

Stories like Shagufta and Shafqat’s are not altogether uncommon in Pakistan, where violent radicals pressure the courts to rule against religious minorities in order to defend Islam.

Blasphemy Laws and Mob Violence

Blasphemy laws prohibit insults to Islam and are utilized to target both Muslims and non-Muslims. People will often accuse others of blasphemy to settle unrelated disputes. Shagufta and Shafqat suspect their accuser was retaliating for a fight between their children.

When blasphemy cases are heard in court, radicals often see the perceived instance of blasphemy as an attack on the Muslim faith and put immense pressure on the courts to condemn the accused. Sometimes violent mobs pose a real threat to judges, especially those at the regional level who lack security details. Last year, one Ahmadiyya Muslim man accused of blasphemy was shot and killed in the courtroom.

Pakistan carries the dubious distinction of having the highest number of incidences of mob activity, violence, and threats related to blasphemy accusations in the world. Pakistan is officially an Islamic state, and an overwhelming majority of the population adheres to Islam. Religious tensions with the tiny Christian, Hindu, Sikh, and Ahmadiyya Muslim minority groups run high.

Social Discrimination

Many Christians and other minorities have limited options for work. They have high illiteracy and poverty rates and are often relegated to menial jobs as farmhands, sanitation workers, or street sweepers.These jobs carry harsh stigmas, reinforcing cultural discrimination against them.

The marginalization of these religious minority communities makes it difficult for them to advocate for themselves.

Forced Conversion

A tragic consequence of religious discrimination and violence is that it enables a trend of forced conversion. Huma Younus, a 14-year-old Christian girl, was kidnapped from her home by three men in October 2019. A few days later, the kidnappers sent Huma’s parents copies of a marriage certificate and documents alleging her conversion to Islam. Although her parents appealed to the courts for help, they ultimately sent her back to her abductor’s home, where she remains trapped within one room.

The failure of the Pakistani police and judicial system to secure justice for girls like Huma is shameful. The contentious nature of cases involving religion sometimes makes it dangerous for authorities to do the right thing. In the case of a young Hindu girl who had been kidnapped and forcibly converted, over 1,500 people gathered outside the court and pressured the judge to give in to the demands of the Muslim man accused of forced conversion.

Protecting Pakistan’s Religious Minorites Is Worth the Effort

The youngest democracy on earth, Pakistan is a complex country with many human rights challenges and a turbulent recent history. Pakistan’s weak rule of law has disastrous consequences for religious minorities most in need of legal protection.

Improving Pakistan’s religious freedom conditions will be a long and slow journey. U.S. and international leaders should continue to press Pakistani leaders to repeal its blasphemy laws and provide more protection for religious minority communities. For the sake of those who simply want to practice their faith in peace, it is worth the effort.

On International Women’s Day, Let’s Challenge Agendas That Fail Women

by Mary Szoch

March 8, 2021

Today is International Women’s Day, which always brings to my mind Pope St. John Paul the Great’s Letter to Women. In this beautiful letter, as Pope John Paul II thanks women in every walk of life, he remarks, “Women’s dignity has often been unacknowledged and their prerogatives misrepresented; they have often been relegated to the margins of society… This has prevented women from truly being themselves and it has resulted in a spiritual impoverishment of humanity.” 

Pope John Paul II wrote this letter in 1995, but his words remain relevant today. Men and women—though equal in human dignity and value—are different. If we ignore these differences and prevent women from being themselves, we do so to the detriment of our society.

Part of the reason International Women’s Day exists is to call upon humanity to counter “gender bias,” sexism, and stereotypes in the workplace. But so often, instead of creating a work environment that is actually welcoming and accommodating to women, these well-intentioned efforts nevertheless force women to sacrifice the differences that make them unique in order to fit a status quo better suited to their male counterparts.

The so-called “Equality Act” promises equality for women—but only if women sacrifice who they are. If passed, the Equality Act would redefine sex to include “gender identity and sexual orientation,” thereby eliminating biological distinctions between men and women. Our society cannot truly empower women if our laws eliminate what it actually means to be a woman.

Furthermore, the Equality Act would redefine what constitutes “sex discrimination,” resulting in what is effectively a right to abortion. It would require abortion to be taxpayer-funded and covered by insurers. As Erika Bachiochi pointed out, this would incentivize businesses to “prefer abortion for their pregnant employees over far more costly accommodations for parenting.”  

We cannot recognize the dignity of women if we continue to create a culture where women can only excel if they deny their very being. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is another piece of legislation supporters claim will uplift women. But in reality, it is an effort to enshrine abortion-on-demand in all 50 states, once again implicitly signaling to women that if they would like to be successful, they must check their fertility at the door.  

This is, as Pope John Paul II writes, an example of the gift of motherhood being “penalized rather than rewarded, even though humanity owes its very survival to this gift.” Passage of the Equality Act and the Equal Rights Amendment would create a world where women will be further exploited, marginalized, and devalued.  

Pope John Paul II offers an alternative:

I am convinced that the secret of making speedy progress in achieving full respect for women and their identity involves more than simply the condemnation of discrimination and injustices, necessary though this may be. Such respect must first and foremost be won through an effective and intelligent campaign for the promotion of women, concentrating on all areas of women’s life and beginning with a universal recognition of the dignity of women.

If we truly want to “Choose to Challenge,” as the theme of International Women’s Day suggests, we should do as Pope John Paul II says—choose to challenge “systems to be redesigned in a way which favours the processes of humanization which mark the ‘civilization of love.’” Choose to challenge society to actually value women—value their opinions, their unique voice in the workplace, AND their fertility. Choose to challenge workplaces to develop policies that allow women to be moms, not policies that force women to choose between their children and their livelihood. Choose to challenge the idea that women and girls need abortion on-demand in order to succeed by supporting pregnancy resource centers. Choose to challenge the lie that men and women are exactly the same and instead celebrate the God-given differences that allow our society to flourish.

On this International Women’s Day, let’s join Pope John Paul II in thanking “every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman!” and pray the world recognizes that, through their “insight, which is so much a part of womanhood,” women “enrich the world’s understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.”

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