Month Archives: June 2021

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of May 30)

by Family Research Council

June 4, 2021

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

1. Update: Gym Teacher Exercises Faith in Woke District

Tanner Cross may teach P.E., but it might be grammar that costs him his job! That’s the unbelievable situation playing out in Loudoun County, Virginia, where an elementary gym teacher dared to put himself on the wrong side of the gender wars during the public comment session of the local school board.

2. Update: MLB’s Political Bunt Faces Court Challenge

Woke corporations are learning the hard way that their social activism has a price. Monday, Major League Baseball was slapped with a $1.1 billion lawsuit for pulling the 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta, Georgia. The Job Creators Network (JCN), an organization that advocates for small businesses, filed the lawsuit—arguing that the MLB’s decision cost Georgia businesses $100 million in lost revenue.

3. Blog: Thinking Biblically About “Pride Month”

If you are on the internet, you likely know that June is “Pride Month.” Your social media feed will be filled with promotions, companies will temporarily change their logos to show that they are down with the struggle, and city streets will be lined with rainbow flags in solidarity with the sexual revolution. Meanwhile, many Christians will struggle with knowing how to respond. If you’re one of them, here are a few things to remember.

4. Blog: Fidelity to the Constitution Requires Roe’s Reversal

The biggest challenge many face when reasoning how the Supreme Court ought to rule on any given case is the understanding that justices should rule based in the United States Constitution, not in personal opinion. Americans must recognize the role and purpose of the highest court in the land, and why the United States Constitution must be its standard.

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

Tony was joined by Chris Mitchell, Middle East Bureau Chief for CBN News, to discuss the recent leadership tensions in Israel as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opponents form a coalition deal to remove him from office. Warren Davidson, U.S. Representative for Ohio, shared his thoughts on what Dr. Fauci’s recently released emails reveal. Gordon Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War, explained what the public needs to know about the U.S. government funding in Wuhan. Beth Mizell, Louisiana State Senator, urged Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards to sign the Louisiana Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. And, Gabrielle Clark, head of the Nevada chapter of No Left Turn in Education (NLTE), discussed her lawsuit against Critical Race Theory in her son’s public school.

6. Washington Watch: Mike Pompeo, George Barna, David Closson, Travis Weber

Tony was joined by Mike Pompeo, former United States Secretary of State, who discussed the Biden administration’s response to mounting questions about the COVID-19 pandemic’s origin. George Barna, FRC’s Senior Research Fellow for the Center for Biblical Worldview, highlighted the findings of FRC’s recent national worldview survey. David Closson, FRC’s Director of the Center for Biblical Worldview, and Travis Weber, FRC’s Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs, introduced FRC’s new Center for Biblical Worldview.

7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: Critical Race Theory

On this edition of Pray Vote Stand, Tony was joined Todd Rokita, Jonathan Koeppel, Dr. Owen Strachan, and Pastor Iverson Jackson to discuss how Critical Race Theory (CRT) has taken over society and invaded schools, and how we can stand for truth against CRT.

As China Crushes Dissent, the Legacy of Tiananmen Square Lives On

by Arielle Del Turco

June 4, 2021

While the death count was still rising in Tiananmen Square on June 4,1989, NBC News correspondent Tom Brokaw called China “a nation at war with itself.” The Chinese People’s Liberation Army had just opened fire into crowds of young protestors. Tanks rolled on to the square to intimidate unarmed civilians into submission. It brought a bloody end to weeks of student-led protests in favor of greater political participation.

That was 32 years ago. Yet, the photo of a string of tanks facing down a lone student who stood in their way remains a defining image of the Chinese government’s relationship with its people.

Dissent is no more tolerated in Xi Jinping’s China today than it was in 1989. One need not look farther than the Chinese government’s suppression of human rights advocates for evidence of this reality.

Well-known human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng’s condition and location has been unknown since 2017, following long periods of detention during which he was brutally tortured. The Chinese government’s political persecution drove Gao to the Christian faith. Known for serving those from oppressed groups including Christians and Falun Gong adherents when it was taboo to do so, he was harshly punished for his outspokenness and moral clarity.

In 2018, Uyghur advocate Rushan Abbas spoke at a Hudson Institute panel about growing challenges for the Uyghur people under the Chinese government’s rule. Six days later, her sister and aunt in Xinjiang disappeared. Her sister has been detained continuously since then and the Chinese foreign ministry announced in 2020 that she received a 20-year prison sentence for terrorism-related charges. It’s a laughable charge for the former medical doctor, and Abbas believes it is in retaliation for her advocacy in the United States.

The Chinese government will go to great lengths to stifle criticism of its human rights violations or other unseemly policies.

The memory of student protests in Tiananmen Square was long commemorated by the people of Hong Kong, who resonated with the students’ call for democracy and reform. Since the passing of a new national security law, the annual candlelight vigil in Hong Kong—an event forbidden on the mainland—was banned by police last year and is now a thing of the past. This year, activists merely hung posters with cryptic messages, afraid to find out which phrases might violate new national security measures.

In what came to be known as the Tiananmen Square massacre, the official death count remains unknown. Estimates range from a few hundred to a few thousand. Though Beijing obscures the facts, history matters. By suppressing the truth about the shameful crackdown in 1989, the Chinese government is trying to erase history. But by doing so, they will merely repeat it. The cycle of Chinese government abuses against dissidents must come to an end as China seeks a positive international spotlight.

The United States must speak out on behalf of the Chinese people, who merely seek to live out their faith, express their opinions, and participate in the governance of their country. These are basic rights owed to all Chinese citizens, and the free world ought to stand with the individuals brave enough to publicly demand them.

Just like the protestor now known as the “Tank Man” was undeterred as he stared down armored vehicles, the Chinese people remain resilient even in the face of totalitarian efforts to suppress any dissent. An authoritarian regime can use its power to intimidate its people, but the human hope for freedom is not so easily crushed.

Thinking Biblically About “Pride Month”

by Joseph Backholm

June 2, 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.

If you are on the internet, you likely know that June is “Pride Month.” Your social media feed will be filled with promotions, companies will temporarily change their logos to show that they are down with the struggle, and city streets will be lined with rainbow flags in solidarity with the sexual revolution.  

Meanwhile, many Christians will struggle with knowing how to respond. If you’re one of them, here are a few things to remember.

Pride celebrations are not new.

Although pride parades down the streets of America’s cities are a relatively recent development, people making a declaration of independence from God is so old it is almost cliché.  

In the Garden of Eden, God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16-17; 3:2-3). However, Eve, with Satan’s help, convinced herself that doing things her way would help her become like God. Perhaps she decided she was spiritual, not religious.

She observed that the tree was good for food, that it was a delight to the eyes, and that it was desirable to make one wise (Gen. 3:6). She convinced herself that her rebellion would not be rebellion at all but virtue. She found God’s rules to be stifling of her individuality and was ready to chart a new path. Her husband even joined her. They may have even felt a sense of pride as they freed themselves from the bondage of God’s rules.

Basically, Adam and Eve started these parades, and we’ve all participated in various ways and with varying degrees of enthusiasm.     

You can love the way God wants you to or the way the world wants you to, but not both.

Much will be said about love this month. T-shirts, memes, and parade signs will declare that “love is love” and that “love wins.” Whether Christians can agree with these sentiments depends on how “love” is defined. Proponents of the sexual revolution would have us believe that we show love for someone by affirming identities, indulging desires, and encouraging each other to “live your truth.” But God’s definition of love is very different.

Scripture reminds us that “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful” (1 Cor. 13:4-5). But then it goes on to remind us that love “does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6). This crucial verse is where God’s understanding of love and the world’s understanding of love diverge. God’s love forbids the celebration of things God does not celebrate. The world’s understanding of love requires it.

This means that a Christian’s unwillingness to celebrate Pride Month will be seen by the world as an act of hate and by God as an act of love. Christians must choose whose definition of love they will accept.  

Pride comes before a fall.

It’s ironic that those who started “Pride” events used the term “pride” to describe them. They named their entire movement after one of the seven deadly sins; a sin that Proverbs assures us is the prelude to our destruction: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). It is almost as if God was looking to make it obvious what was actually happening here. Just as we would be wise to avoid celebrating “Wrath Month” or a “Lust Parade,” Christians should be wary of celebrating pride. After all, we know what happens next.   

No one is beyond the love or reach of Jesus.

While Christians are right to separate themselves from celebrations of sin, we should be equally careful to avoid a different but equally bad kind of pride—self-righteousness. If Christians have any goodness within ourselves, we do not deserve the credit. After all, “[God] saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).

Rather than a sense of self-righteousness, Jesus modeled how our hearts should respond to people who are lost:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Mat. 9:36-38).

When we see crowds who are lost, we should be moved to compassion, not self-righteousness.

Don’t be afraid.

This month, some will encounter a city street lined with rainbow flags or unwittingly expose their child to sexual revolutionary propaganda on Blue’s Clues and be prone to despair. Don’t despair.

Fear is never from God (2 Tim. 1:7). Whatever situation you are dealing with, God is not surprised by it, nor is it beyond His control. However, He knows we are prone to worry, which is why Peter encourages us to cast all our anxieties on Him (1 Peter 5:7). The same God who formed the mountains and put the planets into orbit is aware of the situation and handling it.

The good news is that our moments of weakness are the moments God does His best work in us. While the culture takes pride in their independence from God, we should boast in our dependence:  

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Cor. 12:9).

Maybe we should start our own pride parade; it would be kind of the same but also very different.

Kim Jong Un Encourages Workers to Maintain “Communist Faith”

by Arielle Del Turco

June 2, 2021

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.

But placing faith in the totalitarian Kim regime has not worked out for North Koreans in the past. In the 1990s, North Koreans had become accustomed to certain provisions by the government. But when a famine hit and the government could no longer provide food for the people, mass starvation and death followed, claiming as many as three million lives.

Some North Koreans crossed over the border with China in search of food, and some found spiritual sustenance as well. Missionaries from South Korea traveled to China’s border region to aid desperate North Koreans, offering them food, shelter, clothing, and sharing the gospel with them.

Missionary outreach from the 1990s is one of the main ways Christians in China today heard about Christ. To this day, North Korea remains the most isolated country on earth. There is no free access to information. It is particularly dangerous to be caught with religious materials. One defector suggested that murderers have a better chance escaping punishment than someone found to be in possession of a Bible.

Recently, North Korean defectors Yeonmi Park and Cherie Yang answered questions about their experiences in North Korea on YouTube. When the subject of religion came up, Yang recounted that her first experience in a Western church made her uncomfortable because it reminded her of the enforced adoration paid to the Kim family dictators in North Korea. She said that Kim Il Sung (Kim Jong Un’s grandfather and the founder of North Korea) adopted songs praising himself similar to worship songs praising God that might be heard in a Christian church.

The North Korean regime transformed the country into an atheistic society as it set out to eradicate religious belief, driving the church far underground. But that was not enough. Kim Il Sung, along with his son and grandson after him, positioned themselves as gods, requiring the praise of their people. This is an unspeakably cruel and ultimately ineffective course of action. No “communist faith” or worship for a dictator will create a utopian society in North Korea or anywhere else.

The North Korean people deserve to be free—to practice their religion, to speak their opinions, to access information, and to have a say in their system of governance. Those of us in the free world should not stop advocating and praying for the North Korean people until the day that becomes a reality.

IRF 101: Living Under the Oppressive Heel of Communist Vietnam

by Tyler Watt

June 1, 2021

This blog is part of an International Religious Freedom 101 series providing an overview of religious freedom challenges in countries around the world. Read our previous installments on Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Pakistan.

In 2001, 60 police officers stormed into a Catholic parish to arrest Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly, a Vietnamese priest, for the ridiculous charge of “damaging the Government’s unity policy,” as reported  by Freedom Now. Father Ly was not a radical. He merely raised his voice in opposition to a proposed U.S.-Vietnam trade deal, considering Vietnam’s human rights record.

After being imprisoned following his arrest for nearly four years, Father Ly was released, only to be arrested again in 2007 while he was organizing efforts to boycott an election. Since then, he has suffered multiple strokes, a brain tumor, a heart attack, and partial paralysis. Nonetheless, Father Ly regularly writes articles to encourage his countrymen in their faith. Like Job of the Old Testament, he continues to persevere in his faith no matter what oppression or illness he may face.

Tragically, Father Ly’s story is not unique. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam remains a single-party Communist state, and it continues in the leftist vein of Marx in its preference for de facto state atheism, oftentimes relegating the 24 million religious Vietnamese people to a secondary social plane. Religious groups are often the victim of government policies that openly discriminate against believers and build barriers to prevent them from practicing their faith.

Constitutional Promises Falling Short

Though Article 24 of the Constitution of Vietnam protects the right to practice or abstain from religion and holds all religions equal before the law, this policy truly exists only on paper. Religious groups are required to register with a government body before they can legally assemble and worship. According to a 2018 U.S. State Department report, the government of Vietnam may restrict religious practices in the interest of “national security” or “social unity.” These policies have been roundly criticized by religious leaders in the country as well as the non-governmental Interfaith Council of Vietnam.

Less than 40 denominations within 15 religions are sanctioned by the state; all others are not permitted to organize publicly. Red tape and pressure from the government make it difficult to worship in denominations not recognized by the government.

Some groups, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, are banned entirely. Buddhist groups are required to affiliate with the state-sponsored Vietnam Buddhist Sangha, and some Buddhist sects like the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam were banned, and their members imprisoned or otherwise persecuted.

Spreading the Written Word

Key to the religious life of so many Christians is the Holy Bible, the Word given to us by God which is so essential to church services and individual study. In Vietnam, the publishing of all materials is heavily regulated by the state, and all publishers must acquire approval from the government and certain licenses to print books and other media. Beyond this, only certain publishers can produce religious works, preventing the written gospel from being spread any further than what the government permits.

Overlapping Oppression: Targeting Ethnoreligious Minorities

The Hmong people, an ethnic minority with a population of around one million, are disproportionately followers of Christ: about 300,000 Hmong are Protestants, with a smaller number following Roman Catholicism. These numbers have shifted in the past few decades. In the days following the Vietnam War, thousands of Hmong were evacuated from Vietnam and neighboring Laos with the assistance of Catholic and Protestant (particularly Lutheran) charities. Those that remain to this day face pressures from the government and the majority Kinh (Viet) population to not seek converts or express their faith openly.

The Christian Hmongs’ faith is used as justification for the state to suppress them, on the grounds that it dilutes their allegiance to the government. To alienate the Hmong even further, the state prevents them from receiving government identification materials, ensuring that they cannot start businesses or open bank accounts. Applications to register Hmong churches are regularly denied, forcing Hmong Christians to worship in underground churches, placing them at risk of arrest or violence.

Hope in an Uncertain Future

Despite the difficulties faced by Vietnamese Christians and other religious minorities, there is hope for the future. The religious groups (Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and others) coexist fairly peacefully, allowing for a degree of interreligious cooperation to occur. American and European lawmakers have denounced human rights violations in Vietnam, and were vocal in their discontent with Father Ly’s imprisonments. The attention devoted to Vietnam in the past half century makes it a better starting point than many other countries to fight religious persecution.

That said, there is ample room for us as individual Christians—both lay and clergy—to act. We must act with the courage that Father Ly possesses to denounce oppressive states where they exist and encourage our lawmakers to keep the pressure on this communist state, lest we forget their countless acts of violence and oppression. The causeless imprisonment and persecution of so many faithful Christians must be central in our prayers and chief in the hearts of our legislators as our country hopes for a free Vietnam and grapples with ongoing concerns about their dubious human rights record.

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