Month Archives: June 2021

The Supreme Court Protects Religious Liberty—Barely

by Katherine Beck Johnson

June 17, 2021

Catholic Social Services’ (CSS) 9-0 victory before the Supreme Court today in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, while unanimous, can’t be allowed to overshadow serious differences among the justices on how to approach religious liberty.

This case involved CSS’s ability to operate in accordance with their Catholic faith. The City of Philadelphia had pressured CSS to either give up the Church’s teaching on marriage and family or give up their ministry of finding children loving homes. CSS refused to go against its strongly-held religious belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. After years of litigation, the Supreme Court today held that Philadelphia violated the First Amendment by allowing secular but not religious exceptions to their fostering contracts, like the one held by CSS.

To be clear, this decision was a win. For now, CSS will be able to operate in accordance with its religious beliefs and continue placing children in most need. The organization will not be forced to shut its doors because it refuses to compromise its faith.

Unfortunately, the win was narrow, coming up short of a huge victory. The Supreme Court did the bare minimum to protect CSS and other faith adherents. It was only because Philadelphia had other exceptions, but not religious ones, that the Court found the city in violation of the First Amendment. As Justice Alito noted in his concurrence, the secular exceptions were essentially boilerplate language in the city’s contract that they did not enforce and will be very easy for them to delete—effectively leaving CSS with no protection. As Justice Alito said, “[t]his decision might as well be written on the dissolving paper sold in magic shops.”

The Court should have overturned Employment Division v. Smith, which held that a law is constitutional as long as it is generally applicable and does not target religion. Smith was wrong when it was decided, and it is wrong today. Justice Gorsuch was correct when he said, “[o]ne way or another, the majority seems determined to declare there is no “need” or “reason” to revisit Smith today. But tell that to CSS. Its litigation has already lasted years—and today’s (ir)resolution promises more of the same.”

The ever-growing demands from the Left and their radical gender ideology being imposed on more and more of America make it increasingly impossible for a person to live out their Christian faith while operating in the foster care and adoption space (or many other aspects of society). Evidently, the City of Philadelphia would rather children languish in the system without loving homes than allow CSS to operate in accordance with its faith. Catholics in Philadelphia and throughout our country deserve better than that—and are afforded more than that in our Constitution.

Although today’s opinion allows CSS to continue operating without compromising its faith, that likely won’t be the case for long. Soon, the Court will have to answer if a city can force a religious agency to violate its beliefs if no secular exceptions were provided. The answer is no, and that should have been the answer today. Justices Roberts, Barrett, Kavanaugh, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan refused to answer this.

Today, Justices Alito, Thomas, and Gorsuch were the only members of the nation’s highest court who demonstrated awareness of the pressing need to revisit Smith and rightly protect religious adherents. Let us hope more justices join them in the future.

Human-Animal Chimeras Are a Bioethical Nightmare

by Joy Zavalick

June 16, 2021

Family Research Council has published a new resource outlining the ethical considerations of human-animal chimera research. In this report, Mary Szoch explains that these lab-developed interspecies creatures are composed of both human and animal DNA.

The report highlights that though the National Institutes of Health (NIH) currently bans federal funding for this area of experimentation, mounting pressure from the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) and the apathy of the Biden administration pose risks to the ethical future of federally funded research. A recent amendment introduced by Senator Mike Braun (R-Ind.) that would have banned the creation of human-animal chimeras failed to pass the Senate in a 49-48 party line vote, demonstrating the political division surrounding this issue.

Human-Animal Chimeras: Unethical and Unnecessary delves into the research that has continually blurred ethical lines in the pursuit of “successful” trials and the progression of chimera experimentation. It describes the creation of the 14-Day Rule in 1979, which limits the sustaining of human embryos in vitro to 14 days after fertilization.

When researchers succeeded in sustaining an embryo past nine days in 2016, however, this rule was revisited by the NIH to consider extending researchers the freedom to continue their trials past 14 days. Mary Szoch writes that, “the 14-Day Rule was simply an arbitrary marker allowing scientists to advance to the point science allowed while simultaneously professing that there were ethical limits to the research.” The NIH is once again reconsidering the rule after a scientist partnering with China succeeded in sustaining a human-monkey chimera embryo to 20 days.

The report also considers the purported purpose of human-animal chimera research that occurs despite lack of current federal funding. There is nothing useful to glean from using interspecies chimeras to study human diseases since the research will not consider the factors unique to actual human beings, such as genetic makeup, environment, and diet.

Perhaps most significantly, the report lists major ethical concerns posed by the development of a creature that is part human and part animal: “Is this new creature classified as a human, animal, or both? Will this creature be self-aware? […] Is it ethical to create an organism that has some human characteristics only for the purpose of studying it and using its parts?”

A key conclusion that this report draws from the capricious ethical standards for experimentation with human embryonic cells is that researchers must weigh whether they “should” do something just because they “can” do something.

Christians evaluating the progression of human-chimera research ought to consider 1 Corinthians 6:12, which states, “’All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything.” As believers inhabit a fallen world, they must carefully consider the morality of every decision and advocate for justice when institutions permit evil—especially an evil that denies the dignity of the human person.

Authentic Justice is Biblical Justice

by Jaelyn Morgan

June 15, 2021

A Book Review of Voddie Baucham Jr.’s Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe

The call for social justice from woke activists is loud and overwhelming. With so many voices advocating for various political solutions to our society’s perceived injustices, many Americans feel overwhelmed and wonder, what is the solution? Anarchy? Rebellion? Reparations? Reconciliation? However, beyond the outward expressions of injustice and external solutions to real problems lies a spiritual battle between competing worldviews. In Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe, theologian Voddie Baucham Jr. equips Christians to identify the worldview conflict underlying contemporary demands for social justice and exhorts them to pursue biblical social justice instead of the Critical Social Justice ideology which has captivated the Western world.

Summary

At the onset of Fault Lines, Baucham traces the thought line of Critical Social Justice (CSJ), including Karl Marx (Conflict Theory), Antonio Gramsci (Hegemony), the Frankfurt School (Critical Theory), Critical Race Theory (CRT), and Intersectionality (I). According to Baucham, biblical social justice and CSJ are currently separated by fault lines. However, he predicts that an earth-shattering catastrophe will soon reveal that both parties stand on opposing sides of a vast divide.

In chapter one, “A Black Man,” Baucham contextualizes his assessment of the issue, describing his upbringing in newly desegregated California with a strong mother and an emphasis on personal responsibility (19). In the second chapter, “A Black Christian,” Baucham shares his conversion testimony and assimilation into the Southern Baptist Convention, contrasting his welcoming experience into a white church with his unwelcoming experience in a formerly all-white school. He also notes that his introduction to racial reconciliation came from white, not black, Christians.

In chapter three, Baucham discusses the prevalence of false stories in the current narrative of social justice, specifically the false premise that “police are killing unarmed black men” (45).

In chapters four through six, Baucham demonstrates how “antiracism” has the “hallmarks of a cult” (66), including a new theology and a new glossary of terms that sound Christian but deviate significantly from the historical faith. Citing CSJ leaders, Baucham demonstrates that antiracism has its own cosmology, original sin, law, gospel, martyrs, priests, atonement, new birth, liturgy, canon, theologians, and catechism (67). Specifically, he describes the new priesthood and canon of antiracism, rooted in Ethnic Gnosticism and Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility.

Baucham exposes fault lines in evangelicalism regarding social justice in chapter seven. Among evangelical churches and leaders, he documents their implicit acceptance despite explicit denial of CRT/I ideologies, the silencing of those who reject Critical Theory, and the political maneuvering within the Southern Baptist Convention to make CRT/I seem compatible with the Bible.

Further, Baucham describes, in chapter eight, the damage the CSJ movement has done to communities of color, including the black church, the family, and the unborn. In particular, he criticizes CSJ’s question-begging logic, opposition to facts, and warns about its political implications. For example, in the following chapter, Baucham uses the test case of abortion to demonstrate how the assumptions of CSJ dictate destructive policy, addressing the false narrative of single-issue voting, and the false premise that America’s two political parties merely represent different priorities rather than “a clear-cut distinction between competing worldviews” (185).

In chapter 10, Baucham assesses the key fault line underlying the current call for social justice in the “Black Lives Matter” movement. He urges Christians to understand that a primarily spiritual—not cultural or political—battle is occurring between the biblical worldview and CSJ/CRT/I worldview and their antecedent theories of Marxism, Conflict Theory, and Critical Theory (209).

Baucham concludes the final chapter by re-emphasizing his heart for the book, which is his love for God, the church, and a dismay that God’s people are being swayed by an ideology that is inherently unbiblical. The book ends with three appendices: The Dallas Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel, the original version of Resolution 9 submitted at the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention, and its revised and adopted version.

Analysis

Fault Lines is a winsome, socio-theological analysis of the political call to Critical Social Justice. With poignancy, grace, and persuasion, Baucham exposes the fault line of competing worldviews between biblical social justice and Critical Social Justice, exhorting believers to stand firm on God’s Word rather than capitulating to the human philosophies of the world.

One of Fault Lines greatest strengths is its persuasion based on a careful evaluation of primary sources. The book is an investigator’s dream. Each chapter contains footnotes, encouraging readers to understand the issues from the sources themselves and not take Baucham’s analysis out of context. Baucham carefully defines all the tenets of CSJ and its antecedent theories from the writings of CSJ’s leading advocates such as Robin DiAngelo, Ibram X. Kendi, Peggy McIntosh, and others. Baucham also anticipates critiques and addresses objections which could be levied against him from those sympathetic to CSJ.

Another strength of Fault Lines is Baucham’s personal experience. His life, training, and ministry provide the reader with unique insights, including the debate among black evangelicals of whether the priority of black Christians ought to be in their blackness or their Christianity (21); the “Marxist thread which runs through all grievance studies,” including “whiteness studies” in CRT (93); and the CSJ worldview assertion that “Christianity is part of the oppressive hegemony” (207), meaning Christianity is not only wrong and oppressive but that it must be overthrown and made obsolete.

Finally, Fault Lines is theologically centered and redemptively driven. The author’s high view of Scripture is clear in his use of biblical passages and principles as the basis for defining biblical social justice and rejecting the CSJ worldview. After discussing biblical principles for social justice based on Scripture’s text, Baucham states, “here is the key: People are ignoring these principles because the standard of justice upon which their pleas are built does not come from the God of the Scriptures. While that may be fine for others, those of us who claim to know Christ are held to a different standard” (44, emphasis original).

Constructively, for those unfamiliar with the current debate surrounding the CSJ movement, the addition of summaries at the end of each chapter would be beneficial, allowing readers to trace Baucham’s successive line of argumentation more easily throughout the book.

Fault Lines is a must-read book for anyone who desires to understand the basis of today’s call for social justice and a biblical response. Baucham’s argument that the biblical social justice worldview radically differs from the Critical Social Justice worldview is relevant, perceptive, and necessary. Followers of Christ who rightly strive to live by God’s Word in every sphere of life will find encouragement, clarity, and hope from Baucham’s thoughtful work on social justice and the gospel.

Jaelyn Morgan is an intern for the Center for Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council.

After 246 Years, Old Glory Still Endures

by Molly Carman

June 14, 2021

One of the most identifying symbols of a nation is its flag. In the United States, the stars and stripes that fly over federal buildings, schools, and on our front porches remind every American of the price of freedom. Although the design has changed over the years as the union grew, Old Glory has represented America since 1775. Because of the significance of this patriotic symbol, Americans observe Flag Day each year, remembering the history of the flag and the nation it represents, how it was made, and what the flag symbolizes.

The first design of an American flag was presented on December 3, 1775 and it was known as the Grand Union Flag. While the designer of the flag is not known for certain, it was first hoisted on the Continental Navy man-of-war USS Alfred, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 2, 1775, by Lieutenant John Paul Jones. On the first design, the section where the blue background and the stars now reside was originally occupied by a small British flag. This design was used until June 14, 1777 when the 13-star design was adopted as the official flag of the United States of America. According to the Library of Congress, “To date, there have been twenty-seven official versions of the flag, but the arrangement of the stars varied according to the flag-makers’ preferences until 1912 when President Taft standardized the then-new flag’s forty-eight stars into six rows of eight. The forty-nine-star flag (1959-60), as well as the fifty-star flag, also have standardized star patterns.”

The original design of the 13-star flag is credited to Elizabeth Griscom, more commonly known as Betsy Ross. Although no official documentation exists to confirm she was commissioned to design and manufacture the first American flag, it is accepted because of the accredited testimonials from her grandchildren. Betsy was born on January 1, 1752, as the eighth of 17 children in a Quaker family. After completing her education, she was apprenticed to an upholsterer named John Webster. She broke from her family when she married John Ross who did not follow the Quaker faith. Tragically, John died three years into the marriage, leaving Betsy a childless widow. According to the testimony of her grandson, it was soon after her husband’s death that she was visited and commissioned by George Washington, Robert Morris, and George Ross in the summer of 1776 to make the flag for the new nation.

Our flag has been celebrated in various ways throughout our nation’s history. However, the first official celebration of the flag was on June 14, 1870, which was the 100th anniversary of the Flag Resolution which declared Ross’s design to be the national flag of the United States. Bernard J. Cigrand was the first schoolteacher to organize a flag day event at a school and later was recognized as the “Father of Flag Day.” He inspired other teachers to add the holiday to their school calendars. This movement later led to an order by New York governor Frank S. Black in 1897 when he ordered that all public schools have an American flag displayed outside their building.

Flag Day continued to be recognized by various states throughout the following years and was consistently observed in 36 state and local governments until 1916 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a Presidential Proclamation declaring June 14 as National Flag Day. Thirty-three years later, on August 3, 1949, President Harry Truman officially signed the holiday into law and the motion passed Congress that June 14 be recognized as National Flag Day.

Flag Day recognizes the banner that charged into battle as the united colonies fought for their independence in the Revolutionary War. As we salute the flag of the United States of America, we demonstrate our respect for those who laid the foundation of our nation. It is to the flag of the United States that we pledge our loyalty, our liberty, and our sacred honor. On Flag Day, it is appropriate to recite The Pledge of Allegiance: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of June 6)

by Family Research Council

June 11, 2021

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

1. Update: RNC Pride Tweet: The Elephant in the Room

A handful of days into this rainbow deluge, the air of LGBT pride is so suffocating that people could choke. It’s plastered across social media, corporate logos, cereal boxes, even big box stores’ pandering displays. But one place conservatives thought they were safe from all this nonsense was the Republican National Committee. Turns out, their chairwoman is just as happy as anyone to pull on the LGBT jersey.

2. Update: Virginia District Hears Parents Loudoun Clear

The parents of Loudoun County, Virginia who were packed into every available chair at a recent school board meeting were angry. For months, they’d been warring with the district over its woke curriculum in a feud so bitter that it made the national news. But it was the suspension of Tanner Cross, a P.E. teacher who spoke out about a new transgender policy, that turned the local temperature from hot to boiling.

3. Blog: Kim Jong Un Encourages Workers to Maintain “Communist Faith”

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un recently encouraged workers to build up their “communist faith.” In a letter released by North Korean state media last month, Kim wrote to a federation of trade unions, claiming that such communist faith is required to attain the utopian society supposedly possible in the world’s last true communist dictatorship.

4. Blog: Book Review: Desist, Detrans, & Detox: Getting Your Child Out of the Gender Cult

If you think writing a book to challenge the idea of “affirmative care” for children makes her mean, cold or uncaring, you’d be very wrong about that. It is precisely her compassion for others that compelled Keffler to write this book. Many desperate parents are searching high and low to find authentic help for their struggling child—this book serves this very real need.

5. Washington Watch: Chris Mitchell, Warren Davidson, Gordon Chang, Beth Mizell, Gabrielle Clark

Tony was joined by James Comer, U.S. Representative for Kentucky, who called for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19. Chad Wolf, former Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, discussed how the Biden administration has managed recent crises. Tanner Cross, an educator in Loudoun County Public Schools who was suspended for objecting to new school policies on gender identity, and Tyson Langhofer, Senior Counsel and Director of the Center for Academic Freedom at Alliance Defending Freedom, praised the court decision ruling that Tanner’s constitutional rights were violated when the school board suspended him. And, Travis Weber, FRC’s Vice President for Policy & Government Affairs, and Katherine Johnson, FRC’s Research Fellow for Legal and Policy Studies, talked about church victories in court cases over COVID restrictions, and spoke out against the San Jose, California government authorities who continue to harass churches.

6. Washington WatchKen Ham, Dr. Brad Jurkovich, Burgess Owens, Ray Comfort

Guest host Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) was joined by Ken Ham, CEO and Founder of Answers in Genesis, to discuss the root causes behind the decline in U.S. church membership. Dr. Brad Jurkovich, Senior Pastor of First Bossier in Bossier City, La., addressed the present challenges faced by America’s churches. Burgess Owens, U.S. Representative for Utah, advised Christians on how they should think about and approach issues regarding race. And, Ray Comfort, CEO of Living Waters, urged Americans to turn to the gospel as the only real answer to the challenges and difficulties facing our nation.

7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: A Christian Response to LGBT Pride

On this edition of Pray Vote Stand, Tony Perkins was joined by Dr. Wayne Grudem, Sarah Perry, and Pastor Ken William to discuss the designation of June as “Pride Month” and how Christians are to think biblically about pride, parenting tips on how to fight back against LGBT indoctrination in schools, and how believers can open the doors of dialogue with those struggling with an LGBT identity.

Sowing Pro-Life Seeds Among the States

by Mary Szoch , Joy Zavalick

June 11, 2021

On May 17, the Supreme Court announced that it would take up the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and review Mississippi HB 1510, which bans abortion at 15 weeks’ gestation. HB 1510 cites modern medical findings about children in the womb during the first 15 weeks of life, including that infants develop a heartbeat between 5-6 weeks’ gestation and that by 12 weeks they have developed all “relevant aspects” of recognizable human form.

Since the bill challenges the precedents of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey that prohibit state restrictions on pre-viability abortion, both sides of the political aisle are holding their breath waiting to see whether the Court will finally reset its contorted history of abortion jurisprudence.

There has been a great deal of pro-life legislation that has been passed in the U.S. in recent years. In 2019, seven states (including Mississippi) rolled out laws that banned abortion past six weeks or after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. In 2020, “heartbeat bills” were also passed in Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, and Ohio. In 2021 alone, over 500 pro-life bills were introduced in state legislatures, and as a result, Arkansas and Oklahoma joined Alabama on the list of states to pass total abortion bans. Though these laws have been blocked by federal courts, they represent the gold standard of pro-life legislative advocacy, and reenforce the idea that the Supreme Court has no business declaring a supposed right to abortion under the Constitution in the first place.

Considering this national trend of legislative action against abortion, the pre-viability restrictions that Mississippi HB 1510 implements are increasingly in touch with the convictions of the nation. Though the bill does not meet the global 75 percent norm of restricting elective abortion to 12 weeks’ gestation, which highlights the disparity between the U.S. and the rest of the world, the bill does restrict abortion for 25 more weeks of pregnancy than the rest of the nation does.

Given that 90 percent of abortions occur within the first 12 weeks of gestation, the law addresses only the remaining pregnancies that survive to 15 weeks. This means that the battle to preserve life, even within Mississippi, is far from over. HB 1510 nevertheless demonstrates the earnest attempts of Mississippi legislators to reflect the views of their state, where only 36 percent of citizens believe abortion should be legal in most cases.

In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells His disciples the parable of the talents, which focuses on a man who goes on a journey and leaves varying degrees of money with each of his servants. When the master returns, he rewards the servants who earned interest on the talents that they were given; to these, he says, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master.”

This parable demonstrates that the Lord blesses the intentions and faith of those who seek to serve Him. The servant with two talents made the most of what he was given and pleased his master just as much as the one who doubled five talents.

For Christians across the nation evaluating their state’s abortion laws, some may feel that they have been given a harder lot to work with than other states. Not every Christian lives in Arkansas, where in March, the Arkansas State Legislature passed a total abortion ban with an exception only to save the life of the mother. For those living in Alaska, where virtually no barriers to elective abortion exist, it may seem that even a massive victory such as overturning Roe v. Wade provides no real hope for a state hostile to life.

According to the words of Christ, however, the Lord reaps even where He has not sown.

Christians living in states with radically unrestrictive abortion laws must not give up the fight for the sanctity of life. To these states that have been given less “talents” or opportunities to pass legislation defending life, the Lord will be pleased with attempts to follow His ordinances, even if legislative success is impossible. For the states that are in the position to protect life, the message is clear: utilize the momentum in the Court to take action; invest the talents that have been given to you, and your strivings will lead you into the joy of your Master.

As Mississippi fights for a 15-week ban on abortion, the Lord is able to accomplish His will through even minimal acts of progress. Through this bill, the Lord could work to reward the strivings of generations of pro-life advocates to overturn Roe v. Wade. Though the outcome of Dobbs remains to be seen, it is certain that the Lord is moving in the hearts of the nation to convict many about the brutal truths of abortion.

Advocates across the country ought to take notice of this progress and be encouraged to do what they can to advance life in their own states, knowing that the Lord will reward their work even in the absence of success.

Joy Zavalick is an intern with the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.

Mary Szoch is the Director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.

Gao Zhisheng: Fighting for Human Rights, Against All Odds

by Tyler Watt

June 10, 2021

China’s flagrant disregard for human rights is exemplified by the story of Gao Zhisheng, a Christian lawyer who is recognized as one of the finest human rights defenders in the country.

Background

Gao, a coal miner-turned-lawyer, was known as one of the 10 best lawyers in China in a 2001 report by the Chinese Ministry of Justice. Though he had much to gain from aligning himself closely with the regime for his material and familial benefit, Gao chose instead to support the downtrodden in society. After defending a Christian pastor who was arrested for possessing Bibles, Gao read the Bible. Though uncertain at first, he became a Christian himself and leaned on the Bible for strength as the government began to punish him for his human rights work.

Gao first faced persecution in the form of threatening phone calls from the Communist government in 2005, in part because of his work in litigating on behalf of members of oppressed Falun Gong practitioners. Falun Gong is spiritual discipline that is officially banned in China, and its adherents are severely repressed. The Chinese Embassy provides the spurious claim that the group was targeted in order “[t]o maintain social stability and protect people’s life and property.” The Embassy further adds that practitioners of Falun Gong would be subject to labor camps for “transformation,” on the charge of participating in illegal demonstrations by meditating in accordance with their faith.

To repress individual religious expression, China denounces groups whose teachings fail to align with state communism as “cults,” as they did with the Falun Gong. In the case of more mainstream faiths like Christianity, the heavy hand of the regime is used to monitor the community of believers and suppress elements of the faith that might weaken the position of the state. In extreme cases, believers are imprisoned or tortured if they hold underground services or refuse to bend their faith to suit the state’s purposes. Most disturbingly, there is strong evidence that China has committed crimes against humanity by forcibly harvesting the organs of Falun Gong adherents, as well Uyghurs and other religious minorities.

Oppression as a Dissenter

As a result of several statements that Gao made against the Chinese regime’s treatment of the Falun Gong practitioners, and due to his work litigating on their behalf, he was kidnapped in 2006. While in custody, Gao underwent torture, and was beaten in the face with an electric baton. He suffered through three years in solitary confinement, and shortly after his first release in 2009, he was promptly reimprisoned.

In 2014, after being imprisoned for the better part of a decade, Gao was reported as being emaciated and having lost several teeth. He was released from prison, and placed under house arrest. After this period of house arrest, he was reported as having gone missing. There have been no updates concerning his whereabouts or even if he is alive since 2018.

A Family’s Struggles

Gao’s family hopes that their husband and father is alive and well, but they know the reality of China’s silence on his wellbeing. They repeatedly petitioned the Chinese government for his whereabouts and protest outside the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco, to no avail.

His wife, Geng He, and his daughter, Grace Gao (Geng), supported him in his mission, though they are gravely concerned about his treatment and his fate as a result of his faith and care for human rights. Geng He has stated that she intends to use the Chinese Consulate as her husband’s cenotaph, should the Chinese Government fail to prove he is alive or hand over his remains to the family.

Grace Gao has followed in her father’s footsteps and has spoken extensively of the pride she has in her father and the hopes she maintains that her family will one day be reunited.

What We Can Do

Fortunately, Gao’s case is on the radar of many human rights organizations. The American Bar Association awarded him the Human Rights Lawyer Award in 2010 and co-published a memoir recounting the trauma he faced while incarcerated in 2017. He was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize on two separate occasions in 2008 and 2010. This kind of international attention is particularly helpful, as it reminds the public of his plight and pressures the Chinese government to release him or exercise transparency with regards to his present status.

As believers, we should fervently pray for Gao Zhisheng’s health and safe release, and for his faith in Christ amidst intense trials. Those who care about human rights should educate themselves and others about the injustices that are perpetrated all around the globe against people of all faiths, including in China.

Thinking Biblically About Trends in Worldview

by David Closson

June 9, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts on the Center for Biblical Worldview page.

Today in America, there is a staggering disparity between those who claim to have a biblical worldview and those who actually have a consistent worldview shaped by Scripture. A recent survey conducted by FRC’s Senior Research Fellow George Barna indicates that a mere 6 percent of American adults possess a biblical worldview, despite 51 percent thinking they have one. This means that 45 percent of Americans mistakenly believe themselves to have a biblical worldview. The numbers are better for those who regularly attend evangelical churches, but not by much. Only 21 percent of evangelical churchgoers have a biblical worldview, despite 81 percent thinking they have one.

How should the church respond to the sobering reality that so few Americans have a biblical worldview? Statistics such as these are discouraging, to be sure. However, all is not lost. In fact, knowing the current trends in peoples’ worldviews provides helpful insight into how we can proceed in reaching those in our churches and communities who lack a biblical worldview.

Of the 51 percent who claim to have a biblical worldview, 46 percent said it is either very, somewhat, or not too important for their religious faith to influence every dimension of their lives. And of that 46 percent, only a small majority claim that they are very effective at integrating their faith into family life (56 percent), their personal religious life (56 percent), and personal relationships (55 percent). Further, a minority claim that they are very effective at integrating their faith into educational experiences (35 percent), politics and government (31 percent), business and marketplace activities (29 percent), and entertainment and news choices (27 percent).

On a more encouraging note, a slight majority of those who believe integrating their faith into every dimension of life is either very or somewhat important identified their church (55 percent) and family (52 percent) as having been very helpful at facilitating that integration. This is an important insight. If we want to train the next generation of Christians to have a biblical worldview, we must equip church leaders but especially parents. Parents are the chief disciplers in their homes, and churches should be intentional in coming alongside them as they seek to raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).

Another intriguing find in Barna’s survey is that of the seven out of 10 adults who believe that God does (or might) exist, three-quarters (78 percent) believe God cares “a lot” about what they believe and do. The fact that this many people believe God cares about their beliefs and lifestyle choices provides an opportunity for discipleship. Believing that God cares about every dimension of life should influence one’s engagement with a host of issues, including issues considered “political,” such as the sanctity of life and human dignity, sexuality and marriage, and religious liberty. In fact, internalizing the connection between belief and practice is what it means to be an “integrated disciple,” which according to Barna, is someone who has blended their intellectual acceptance of biblical principles into real-life application.

Reviewing his study, Barna concluded that,

In general, SAGE Cons [i.e., Spiritually Active Governance Engaged Conservatives] were far more likely than other adults to claim to have a biblical worldview; to believe it is very important for their faith to influence every dimension of life; and to believe that God cares a lot about what they do and believe in relation to what happens in every dimension of society. They were also more likely than any other segment besides those who actually possess a biblical worldview to have a biblical perspective on the worldview assessment questions included in the survey.

The survey results are an opportunity to open our eyes to the current trends in Americans’ worldviews, evaluate our own worldviews, and encourage others to do the same. First, because our thoughts inevitably shape our actions, our worldviews have consequences. We Christians must heed the words of the apostle Paul:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom. 12:2)

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5)

The writer of Hebrews says that God’s Word, the Bible, “is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (4:12). We should always take the time to evaluate what we believe, why we believe it, and if what we believe agrees with and is rooted in Scripture.

Second, although the gap between those who have a biblical worldview and those who only think that they do is large statistically, there is cause for hope. Remember that nearly half of those 51 percent who believe that they hold a biblical worldview think it is important for their faith to influence every facet of their lives. Clearly, people care about their faith, and they care about how their beliefs affect how they live. Further, certain influences like attending church, having a strong family life, healthy friendships, and intentional media consumption can play a role in encouraging the growth of a biblical worldview. We must engage and grow in order to close the gap and reverse this statistic.

Finally, in an effort to address the growing concerns of the decline in biblical worldview in America, Family Research Council recently launched the Center for Biblical Worldview. Our desire is to equip and encourage Christians, churches, and families to strengthen their own biblical worldview and disciple the next generation. May we heed Paul’s advice to the Ephesians:

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (5:15-17)

State Round-Up: Defunding the Abortion Industry

by Chantel Hoyt

June 9, 2021

Editor’s note: This is part of an ongoing series about key provisions that states have advanced in 2021.

States have been working for years to protect taxpayers from having to subsidize the abortion industry, and the momentum continues this year.

As I’ve written elsewhere,

Ever since Roe v. Wade, Congress and most states have taken bipartisan efforts to stop taxpayer funds from going to pay for abortions and, later, to flow to the abortion industry. These efforts greatly intensified in 2015 when the release of several undercover videos by the Center for Medical Progress showed Planned Parenthood officials laughing and joking about the transfer and sale of fetal tissue. These videos shocked the American people and shined a light on an unsavory profit center for the abortion industry, the gruesome harvesting of body parts of the aborted unborn (sometimes even, apparently, before fetal death).

Most Americans support defunding Planned Parenthood. An annual Knights of Columbus/Marist poll shows a majority of Americans oppose the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for abortion; in January it found that 60 percent of Americans, including 35 percent of Democrats, oppose public funding of abortions. A 2016 Harvard poll and a 2018 PRRI poll found that over half (58 percent and 51 percent, respectively) of Americans believe that Medicaid should not pay for abortions. Not surprisingly, 33 states have introduced legislation to restrict government funding of the abortion industry in recent years.  These bills largely address the three main streams of abortion funding – Medicaid (a joint federal-state health coverage program), Title X (a federal family planning grant program) and state appropriations.

Abortion funding restrictions have shifted from merely banning direct funding of abortion procedures to also cutting off abortion businesses. This distinction is important because even if taxpayer funds are not used for performing an abortion, they still support abortion centers by helping them offset their other costs. This frees up their budget to pay for abortions and other abortion-related expenses. After watching the undercover videos, federal and state policymakers realized it is time to defund abortion businesses.

Since 2015, states have consistently introduced bills that have attempted to defund both abortions and abortion centers. At least 131 bills have been introduced in 33 states in the past 6 years. Of these, 26 bills sought to defund Planned Parenthood in Medicaid, 43 bills in Title X, and 90 bills in state appropriations (About twelve of these 131 bills were specific in only prohibiting the funding of abortion procedures.  Thirteen of these bills sought to simply expand or strengthen existing defund laws. 22 of the 131 bills were temporary budget bills, in which states inserted a ‘rider’ restricting abortion funding into their yearly appropriations bill going into effect for the upcoming fiscal year.) 29 of the total 131 bills have been enacted in 19 different states. 

In addition to addressing the three streams of funding mentioned above, some states have gotten creative. For example, Iowa’s HF 422 (2015), rather than prohibiting funds from going to entities that supply abortions, sought to prohibit abortions from being done by entities that receive public funds (this bill was not enacted). A few states have sought to limit health insurance coverage of abortions.  Kentucky’s HB 484 (2020), for example, prohibited abortions from being covered under state-sponsored health insurance programs (this bill was enacted). In 2017, Wisconsin introduced a bill (SB 154) that would have prohibited publicly-funded universities from utilizing state funds to perform, assist, or train others to perform abortions.

Texas currently has the strongest defunding laws in place, as the state successfully defunded abortion businesses in Title X and state appropriations. First, Governor Greg Abbott issued a letter defunding Planned Parenthood from the state Medicaid program in 2015. While this action was enjoined, Texas was subsequently granted a Medicaid waiver allowing the state to redirect federal funds away from abortion businesses. This was the first (and so far, only) waiver of its kind to be granted.  Six other states – Arizona, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Florida, and Indiana – have similarly enacted very strong legislation defunding the abortion industry, as they have attempted to defund abortion businesses in Medicaid and successfully defunded abortion businesses in Title X and state appropriations. However, none received a federal waiver for Medicaid; this is typically a multi-year process, which seems unlikely under the current administration, so pro-life state policymakers should begin thinking now about the waiver requests they’ll want the next time we get a pro-life administration.

In a like manner, a plethora of states have attempted to permanently defund abortion businesses in one or two streams of funding. While a state attempting to defund abortion businesses in a particular area doesn’t carry as much weight as a successful defund, it is still notable and shows the public’s support for defunding the abortion industry in that state. The following 15 states fall into this category:

  • Alabama, Utah, South Carolina – Attempted to defund abortion businesses in Medicaid
  • Kansas, Tennessee – Attempted to defund abortion businesses in Medicaid; deprioritized abortion businesses in Title X (i.e. when distributing federal grants, the state prefers non-abortion health care providers ahead of any entities that supply abortions)
  • Missouri, Idaho – Attempted to defund abortion businesses in Medicaid; defunded abortion businesses in state appropriations
  • Wisconsin, Kentucky, Ohio – Defunded abortion businesses in state appropriations; defunded or deprioritized abortion businesses in Title X
  • Michigan, Oklahoma – Defunded or deprioritized abortion businesses in Title X
  • Nebraska, Iowa, North Carolina – Defunded abortion businesses in state appropriations

Though lacking the strength of abortion industry funding bans, other states have taken action to defund abortion procedures. The 13 states that have done this are:

  • Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota – Defunded procedures in Medicaid and state appropriations
  • Nevada, North Dakota, Georgia, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, Rhode Island – Defunded procedures in Medicaid
  • Pennsylvania – Defunded procedures in Medicaid; attempted to defund procedures in state appropriations
  • Minnesota – Attempted to defund procedures in Medicaid and state appropriations
  • Montana – Attempted to defund procedures in Medicaid

Lastly, several states have been successful in temporarily defunding abortions and/or the abortion industry. These states have passed yearly appropriations bills that include a pro-life ‘rider’ specifying that certain funds shall not be used for abortions and/or abortion businesses for the duration of the upcoming fiscal year. The following six states have done this:

  • Iowa – Temporarily defunded procedures in Medicaid and abortion businesses in state appropriations and Title X (2019-2020); temporarily defunded procedures in Medicaid (2015-2016)
  • Nebraska – Temporarily defunded abortion businesses in Title X (2018-2019)
  • New Hampshire – Temporarily defunds abortion businesses in state appropriations (since at least 2019)
  • Missouri – Temporarily defunds abortion businesses in state appropriations (since at least 2018)
  • Pennsylvania – Temporarily defunded abortion businesses in state appropriations (2018-2019)
  • Michigan – Temporarily defunded abortion businesses in state appropriations (2017-2018)

As I wrote,

It is clear the majority of states want to prevent taxpayer funds from going to the abortion industry. These efforts have become normative since the release of the undercover Planned Parenthood videos in 2015. This effort has not slowed, with 19 bills being introduced this year in 14 different states; four having been enacted to date.

States believe that taxpayers should not fund the abortion industry, and states will continue passing laws that reflect the principle that abortion is not health care. After all, no other type of health care has as its main purpose and goal extinguishing an already-existing human life. As a recent FRC publication proves, abortion is not the type of health care for which health care professionals should advocate. Because of these and other reasons, abortion is far from deserving of taxpayer funds and states are sure to continue passing laws that recognize this fact.

Book Review: Desist, Detrans, & Detox: Getting Your Child Out of the Gender Cult

by Meg Kilgannon

June 7, 2021

If you are scrupulous about using “preferred pronouns” and avoid “deadnaming” at all costs, this book may not be for you. Maria Keffler has long advocated for the rights of parents, and she need make no apology for the sage advice she offers.

If you think writing a book to challenge the idea of “affirmative care” for children makes her mean, cold or uncaring, you’d be very wrong about that. It is precisely her compassion for others that compelled Keffler to write this book. Having been on the receiving end of phone calls from desperate parents who search high and low to find authentic help for their struggling child, I can appreciate the very real need this book serves.

For the uninitiated, it’s useful to define some terms. As with any cult, transgenderism has its own set of vocabulary that manipulates word meanings and the people who speak that new language. The book even includes a glossary for this purpose. We will start with the term “transgenderism” itself and then move to the book’s title: Desist, Detrans, & Detox.

Transgender,” according the glossary, is “claiming to feel a mismatch between one’s biological sex and one’s sense of self; presenting oneself to the world according to stereotypes that do not align with those of one’s biological (birth) sex.”

To “desist,” in the world of gender ideology and transgenderism, is to have “adopted a transgender identity for a period of time, but to have come to accept your birth sex as reality.”

A “detransitioner” is “a person who presented as other than his or her birth sex, transitioning socially and/or medically, but has since accepted his or her birth sex as reality, and presents as such.”

Detox” refers to the detoxification or deprogramming that must take place to save a child from the cult. Often, this is the step that allows a child to return to his or her authentic self, and is a state that must be maintained. Managing access to the internet and toxic friends or family members, as well as pulling children from a school that is “affirming” an opposite sex identity or presentation all fall into the category of “detox.”

It is clear from her writing that Ms. Keffler cares very much. She relies not only on her training, but has taken the time and effort to collaborate with other experts in the field to write a practical, readable book. She centers the book on the family, using her training in educational psychology to reenforce loving common sense. Her parenting advice in significant portions of the book will be useful to any parent with teenagers and/or young adults. What parent doesn’t need a refresher on setting boundaries or motivation theory?

Perhaps the best advice in the book comes in chapter three, “Your Relationship with Your Transgender-Identified Child.” Here Keffler reviews the kinds of things parents forget in the throes of crisis parenting (or even just after a long, trying day): relationship skills; considerations for different aged children, including adult children; and staying focused on the goal. The goal in this case is rescuing your child from the gender cult, but parents needing help with other difficulties in life will also benefit from this chapter.

If more help is needed for your child, the author recommends using resources available at faith communities which still honor the dignity of the human person. She writes:

Whether or not you’re a person of religious faith, a church, temple, or mosque is a good place to start. Religious freedom is under fire by those who would see all traditional values expunged in America, but religious freedom is still the law of the land in the United States, and houses of faith still operate according to their consciences and scriptural mandates. If you know a house of worship that has not capitulated to the transgender narrative, start there. If you do not attend religious services, ask friends or colleagues about other local churches. Call the church secretary or administrator and ask about their doctrinal policy on the issue of transgenderism. If you’re comfortable with the response, tell them you’re looking for a therapist and you wonder if they can recommend someone.

Keffler offers an unflinching and objective review of the factors at play: the culture, the schools, the family, the parent(s). No one gets a pass, but neither is anyone attacked. The author simply asks the questions that need asking so that answers can be found or at least earnestly sought.

Desist, Detrans, & Detox: Getting Your Child Out of the Gender Cult is a must for parents confronting transgenderism in their families. If you know a family facing down the transgender cult, or if you are facing a crisis in your own family, this practical guide may offer a bit of wisdom or a helpful perspective at just the right moment.

Meg Kilgannon is Senior Fellow for Education Studies at Family Research Council.

May 2021 «

» July 2021

Archives