FRC Blog

The Influence of Social Media on Politics

by Peyton Holliday

February 22, 2019

For most of us, social media has become a routine part of our day-to-day lives here in America. This reality is now taking hold in politics as well. Scrolling through social media pages such as Twitter and Instagram, I have seen videos of candidates and elected officials dancing in their offices, visiting the dentist, drinking beer, and all manner of day-to-day life being shared with the public. With videos posted by Beto O’Rourke, Elizabeth Warren, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and others, the political spectrum is changing.

I personally don’t want to see a video of a politician going to the dentist—I would rather see a video of them explaining their stance on abortion or border control. I want to know what the candidate stands for on policy instead of how cool of a dance move they can do. We are losing professionalism in the political world. It seems that we are now electing people because they have nice dance moves or seem relatable on an Instagram video. This makes me wonder—how will our future elections be shaped through social media?

In the 1960 election cycle, well before the era of social media, the debates between JFK and Richard Nixon were televised for the first time in American history. The looks, poise, and smooth actions of JFK helped him to win the votes of millions of Americans. The medium of television set a new precedent for an era in which politicians worried about their image as much as their messaging. These televised debates marked the beginning of a new type of political media that would shape the outcome of elections for years to come.

Now, we are in a new era where the political scene is changing again. Americans can now stay up to date on the day-to-day thoughts and actions of political figures through videos, pictures, and posts on social media. The political landscape is becoming more and more based on marketing and image rather than actual policy positions. If you can market yourself better than your opponent, you have a better chance at winning. If your social media page has millions of followers, you can get more attention than appearing on national television. Candidates don’t even have to set up an interview with a television station to get media coverage anymore—if a social media post goes “viral,” it will be all over both television and the internet.

Social media is clearly a useful way to make candidates more visible to the world. Social media is already shaping the outcome of elections. In future elections, social media will undoubtedly begin to play an even bigger role. Similar to what happened in the 1960 election, the actions, online presence, and relatable image of a candidate can hold more sway than their policy positions in the minds of many social media-addicted voters.

Future elections will be shaped by the online presence of the candidates. As for me, I would rather see candidates use social media to present thoughtful positions on policy issues rather than try to be hip.

Peyton Holliday is an intern at Family Research Council.

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Education Reform: 6 Ways to Help Students Flourish

by Zachary Rogers

February 20, 2019

The American education system is in need of reform. According to a Pew Research Center report, educational attainment is low, and American students rank in the middle on science, mathematics, and reading, placing them behind their peers in other countries. Parents concerned with the character and morals of their children are also often disappointed by the secularization that has taken hold in many schools. Americans, in particular Christians, need options.

Top down control of the education system by Washington, which has turned education into a bureaucratic endeavor, has been a failure. Repeated endeavors from the federal government since 1965 has led to falling standards, while oversight, bureaucracy, meddling, and parent dissatisfaction have all increased. The blame for this rests squarely on both the Republican and Democratic parties. This shift from the norm of locally funded and locally controlled schools has led parents to search for other options, which in turn led to the birth of the school choice movement.

There are multiple ways to provide the options parents want to meet the unique needs of their children. Here are a few:

1. Charter Schools

Charter schools are similar to public schools in that they are tuition free, are non-selective, and are operated by an independent board of governors. They are required to comply with all state laws regarding religion, discrimination, and employment. The difference between a standard public school and a charter public school is flexibility. They are allowed to have a mission, develop a curriculum related to the mission, and select teachers able to achieve the mission. Charter schools partner with parents to meet the needs of their children.

2. Education Savings Accounts

Education savings accounts are another method of providing parents with choice. Rather than send the per-pupil funding the state would have sent to the neighborhood school, the state deposits that amount into a savings account on behalf of a student whose parents select this option. With this money, parents are able to craft a slew of simultaneous learning options for their children. For example, a child may take an online class while enrolled in a charter school and receive private tutoring for the violin. In 2019, there are many options for receiving an education. Education Savings Accounts allow parents to find a quality one.

3. Vouchers

K-12 vouchers are scholarships that allow families to send their children to private schools. They are often used to provide assistance for children with disabilities, low income students, or students who are trapped in a failing school.

4. A Return to Local School Board Control

Education-related decision making should be returned to the state and local levels. Historically, it was the state and local school board that handled education matters. This preserved liberty by respecting the principle of federalism and promoted the involvement and control of those most concerned with the welfare of students—parents, local officials, and members of the school board. This system was progressively abandoned. Beginning in the 1960’s and up to the present day, the compliance issues and costs associated with federal programs such as Common Core and the Every Student Succeeds Act have become burdensome. State and local districts are better positioned to understand and respond to the issues faced by parents and students than federal bureaucrats.

5. Tax Credits

A tax credit scholarship program allows people to get a tax credit for donating to a scholarship program. They allow state taxpayers to receive a full or partial tax credit against their tax obligations. These state-based tax credit scholarship programs are an important part of sustaining private school choice. They enable scholarship programs, funded by individuals or corporations, to provide scholarships to the needy or deserving, allowing parents to find the private schools their children need.

6. Homeschooling

Homeschooling is quite simply the practice of educating your children at home. Parents do this for different reasons—dissatisfaction with public or private school academics, dangerous school environments, or the desire to impart religious instruction. Homeschooled students may be taught by parents, guardians, or tutors. Homeschooling has been a traditional method of education since our country’s founding, and it has seen a surge in popularity since the 1980s. Since then, the number of homeschoolers has increased and with it a proliferation of resources and networks.

Conservatives and Christians who value the responsibility to care for their children, a responsibility that carries over to the duty of educating them, should support school choice. They should do so for multiple reasons. First, every child has unique interests and needs—school choice allows parents to meet them. Second, it protects liberty by returning control to state and local officials. Third, parents who are concerned about the morals being taught to, the lack of safety for, or the type of education methods used on their children can find the right school to satisfy those concerns. Fourth, it allows parents to take advantage of technology and the plethora of resources available to them that might not be available in their child’s current school. Finally, it brings market pressures to bear upon bad schools.

For these reasons school choice should be high on the agenda of state legislators, conservatives, and Christians.

Zachary Rogers is a Government Affairs intern at Family Research Council.

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3 Arguments Pro-Lifers Must Make in Standing for Life in 2019

by Hugh Phillips

February 19, 2019

Several weeks ago here in Washington D.C., I marched with tens of thousands of everyday Americans to protest Roe v. Wade and urge our representatives to stand for life. It was a wonderful thing to behold. Poll after poll shows that the pro-life movement is succeeding in winning the battle of ideas. Through scientific data and common sense, pro-lifers are convincing Americans that life begins at conception. Yet, as the pro-life movement has celebrated great victories in recent years and mobilized for the fight ahead, the battle for life continues to rage in courts and legislative chambers across the country.

The recent New York bill allowing abortion at any time during pregnancy and the subsequent comments by the Governor of Virginia on similar legislation in that state show that despite the advances of the pro-life cause, abortion will not be eliminated in America without a long political and cultural struggle. Even now, Vermont and Rhode Island are advancing horrendous legislation that would legalize abortion at any time during pregnancy for any reason. These recent bills show the logical outcome of the sexual revolution: the destruction of offspring and future generations in the name of pleasure and personal desire.

Pro-lifers must take a firm stand against this year’s wave of pro-abortion legislation. Yet, as we gasp at the evil of pro-abortion legislation, we must not give in to unbridled emotion but instead stand for life in a winsome and godly manner. Here are three things that pro-lifers must make clear in their arguments against 2019’s slew of pro-abortion bills:

1. The abortion debate is not about the freedom to choose but the right to life.

Pro-abortion advocates regularly argue that the abortion debate is about a woman’s “right to choose.” Yet, in arguing against pro-abortion bills, pro-lifers must be very clear that the abortion debate revolves, not around the “right to choose,” but around the dignity of human life in any form. Only then will pro-lifers effectively convince citizens and their legislators that outlawing abortion is not about depriving women of their rights, but about protecting the fundamental right to life of all Americans, born and unborn.

2. A society that does not protect life undermines its very existence.

This is a commonsense notion but is all too often overlooked by pro-lifers in arguing against abortion legislation. From ancient Rome to modern day America, a fundamental aspect that differentiated civilized society has been its protection of life, especially innocent and helpless life. This goes beyond debates about big versus small government and takes us to the most basic role of the civil authority—the protection of life. Pro-lifers must make the case that the abortion debate revolves around the very essence of what differentiates and protects American society from following in the footsteps of barbaric civilizations.

3. All persons have dignity and deserve respect, even those advocating for abortion.

Christians and pro-lifers should be justifiably furious at the passage of the evil New York abortion legislation or the recent barbaric comments regarding abortion made by the Governor of Virginia. Yet, in the heat of the fight, Christian pro-lifers must not forget that the power of our message rests in the truth that all men, even the Ralph Northam’s and Andrew Cuomo’s of this world, are made in the imago Dei, the very image of God. Thus, while being justly angry for the evil pro-abortion advocates commit, we must also stop to grieve for and have mercy on those so entrapped by the sexual revolution that they would advocate for the death of unborn babies. William Wilberforce, in his battle against slavery in eighteenth century Britain, is a perfect example of someone having this attitude. Our goal must be not to just defeat abortion, but to bring pro-abortion advocates and public figures to the glorious freedom of submitting to Christ as Savior.

The battle before us in the fight for life will be long, but it is one that we will win. The dignity and preciousness of every human life is a principle worth fighting for. May God grant us not only victory in defeating pro-abortion bills in 2019 and ultimately overturning Roe v. Wade, but also in bringing the glorious forgiveness and healing of the gospel to a society and culture that has been so horribly scarred by abortion.

Hugh Phillips is a Government Affairs intern at Family Research Council working on pro-life legislation.

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Fighting Religious Persecution with Mustard Seeds

by Caleb Seals

February 18, 2019

Due to security concerns, the location of this country cannot be disclosed.

For someone who has never been outside of America, I was pumped up about going on my first mission trip overseas. Before the journey, our group went through an intensive preparation course. This course required us to grow in our faith, prepare our armor, and know the laws of the land we were traveling to. We had to practice praying with our eyes open, talk in coded language, and have the ability to detect undercover law enforcement.

The country that we were going to was not Christian-friendly, to put it mildly. We were officially traveling as tourists in a hiking club. We would need to constantly be alert for authorities that could be following us. Per the country’s laws, we were banned from teaching the Bible or sharing the gospel. Of course, that wasn’t going to stop us.

After over 20 hours of flying, we finally arrived at our destination. The very next day, we left the city and went into the outer countryside to start our mission. For the first few days, we stayed in host homes that were a part of small villages on the mountainside. We used translators to speak and encourage believers in their walk with Jesus.

After news of our arrival spread, we were constantly stopped and asked to come in to people’s homes so that they could question us about our activities and take a group picture with their phones. It is also important to note that most of these people had other gods in their life. In almost every hut we went into, there were false idols that they would worship. Many people in these communities seemed to mostly put their hope in the local fortune teller.

After visiting multiple villages, we then set out to a region that no other group had gone to before us. This area had never even heard the name of Jesus, let alone knew what a Bible was. Due to the threat of being compromised, we simply spoke to the people in this area and did prayer walks. During our prayer walks, we would drop mustard seeds, hoping that the Holy Spirit would fill that area (Matthew 17:20).

At the camp, there were undercover officers who posed as fishermen that were sent there by the government to observe our activities and document who we were in contact with. Most of our friends in the country that traveled with us had left so that they would not be endangered.

One night, after an interesting encounter with a fortune teller, we arrived back to our camp. Our host, along with the law enforcement officers, told us that our time staying there was over. I had no idea what to expect. I had heard of several stories in the news about Christians being persecuted and had no idea what would happen to us. We immediately thought of the worst possible outcomes. Are they going to arrest us? Will we be able to return home? What will happen to the contacts we made in the area? The authorities then told us that we were required to leave the area immediately, but we had no idea where to go.

We loaded up the van and had to leave in the middle of the night to a hotel hours away. To securely inform our church of what had just transpired, we had to talk in the bathroom and turn the water on to avoid eavesdroppers. Eventually, we found out that the government compensated visiting tourists to find out information about us. We eventually left the country without any further problems.

On our flight home, I reflected on our journey and prayed that it was not a waste of time. We were all a little discouraged because we did not know why God would send us there only to be shipped right back home again.

Several months after we returned home, we got an update from our contact in the country where we had spent our mission trip. Our contact stated that since our departure, hundreds of people had been saved in the same area where we did not even mention the name of Jesus and had merely prayed while dropping mustard seeds. It was awesome to see how God revealed himself through only the faith of a mustard seed!

Since then, we continue to pray for the Holy Spirit to move every day in that country. It is obvious from the news that not all stories about international religious persecution end as safely as ours did. You saw what happened with Pastor Brunson. You see what is happening with the persecution of our brothers and sisters by ISIS. You see what is happening in China. We need to remember that we have millions of brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world who risk their freedom and their lives every day, merely for being Christian. I hope that you will join me in praying for the persecuted Christians around the globe.

Caleb Seals is an intern at Family Research Council.

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Social Conservative Review - February 15, 2019

by Daniel Hart

February 15, 2019

Dear Friends,

In recent weeks, as the Democratic Party further entrenches itself in the support of late-term abortion to the point of infanticide, I have often found myself feeling angry and disgusted toward these elected officials who seem so lacking in basic human decency. (If these politicians were standing in the room where a late-term abortion was taking place or where a baby was literally born alive after a failed abortion, would they still hold the same view? One has to wonder…)

During such highly-charged emotional times in public life that we are currently in, I’ve found it very easy to demonize and dehumanize these pro-abortion elected officials in my own mind. We human beings have a tendency to condemn without a second thought, and condemnation can quickly become personal. You’ve probably heard it many times before, but it bears repeating: we must condemn actions, not people. But there’s something else we must do as pro-life Christians that goes beyond condemnation of actions, and it’s more important: prayer. Our Savior Himself commanded it: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45).

Are we praying every day for Andrew Cuomo, for Ralph Northam, for Nancy Pelosi, for Chuck Schumer, for all other elected officials who publicly support abortion, that they will have a change of heart? As Christians, prayer must be our very first impulse whenever we face any kind of challenge, or before we do anything at all, for that matter (1 Thessalonians 5:17). When we feel powerless to affect change for good, prayer gives us peace of mind to know that we are doing something. For we know that God listens to and answers our prayers (1 Peter 3:12).

Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.

Sincerely,

Dan Hart
Managing Editor for Publications
Family Research Council

 

FRC Media

Issue Brief: Rebels Without a Clause: When Senators Run Roughshod Over the “No Religious Test” Clause of the U.S. Constitution – Alexandra McPhee

Issue Analysis: Department of Defense on Why Those with “Gender Dysphoria” Are Disqualified from Military Service – Peter Sprigg

A Christian War Memorial in No Way Violates the Establishment Clause – Alexandra McPhee

When Free Exercise Comes at a Price – Alexandra McPhee

What a Title IX Proposal Means for Religious Liberty – Alexandra McPhee

Democratic Congresswoman Condemns Religious Bigotry, Standing up to Her Party in a Rare Act of Courage – David Closson

Chris Pratt’s Bible-inspired diet highlights a discipline from a spiritual dimension – Tony Perkins

New York and Planned Parenthood, a eugenic match made in Heaven – Patrina Mosley

The Conscience of A Nation: Defeating Democrat Extremism – Ken Blackwell

Targeting of Karen Pence is wake-up call to all Christians – Travis Weber

FRC Speaker Series: Religious Freedom, Trade Talks, and China

FRC Speaker Series: Should We Pull Our Kids Out of Public School?

FRC Speaker Series: The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies are Destroying Lives – Jennifer Roback Morse

Party of “Tolerance” is Intolerant to American’s Views on Late-Term Abortion – Patrina Mosley

3 Things to Remember About the Importance of Marriage This Valentine’s Day – Hugh Phillips

Will Women’s Restrooms Be Ruled Obsolete? – Peter Sprigg

Contributors to Sexual Exploitation are Called Out – Patrina Mosley

Return to the Constitution: Judicial Activism or Originalism? – Zachary Rogers

The Cost of Sending Your Kids to Public School Just Might Be Their Souls – Cathy Ruse

10 Nominees Have Faced Unconstitutional Religious Tests in Less Than 2 Years – Alexandra McPhee

Marriage Gives Love a Canvas to Paint On – Dan Hart

President Trump’s Pro-Life Proclamation – David Closson

The Pro-Infanticide Party – David Closson

Hotel Trans: Check In Any Time, But Never Leave – Cathy Ruse

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

The Ever-Present Totalitarian Temptation – George Weigel, First Things

Vermont discriminates against students of religious high schools, lawsuit claims – Jess Aloe, Burlington Free Press

Jewish Therapist Sues New York City Over Law Banning Faith-Based LGBT Counseling – Joshua Nelson, The Daily Signal

Judge says Tampa ban on conversion therapy may violate therapists’ free speech rights – Avery Anapol, The Hill

International Religious Freedom

Pakistan’s Supreme Court Dismisses Challenge to Asia Bibi Blasphemy Acquittal – Hannah Brockhaus, National Catholic Register

Asia Bibi stuck in Pakistan, frustrated and afraid amid threats – Brandon Showalter, The Christian Post

Philippine Church Bombing Kills 20 After Vote for Muslim Governance – Kate Shellnutt, Christianity Today

N. Korean Christians keep faith underground amid crackdowns – Hyung-Jin Kim, AP

Military Religious Freedom

Americans Tell Atheists: Keep Your Hands Off Our War Memorials – ToddStarnes.com

 

Life

Abortion

OB/GYNs, Nurses Speak Out Against NY Abortion Law: It Is Never Necessary to Kill Baby for Health, Life of Mother – Heather Clark, Christian News

Planned Parenthood Made $245 Million Last Year Killing Babies in Abortions – Lauretta Brown, LifeNews

Vermont Abortion Bill Goes Further than Virginia and New York’s – Wesley J. Smith, National Review

New York, Abortion, and a Short Route to Chaos – Bishop Robert Barron, Word on Fire

Bookstore Owner Makes Viral Statement About New York Abortion Law – Mary Margaret Olohan, The Daily Caller

Infanticide Becomes Justifiable – Wesley J. Smith, First Things

Abortion’s Devastating Impact Upon Black Americans – Arthur Goldberg, Public Discourse

Adoption

Mothers Are Killing Babies Who Could Fill The Empty Arms Of Millions Of Loving Couples – Adam Mill, The Federalist

 

Family

Marriage

How Can Marriage Be Good for Mental Health? – David Levine, U.S. News & World Report

Giving Up Good Things for the Best Things in Marriage – Selena Frederick, Focus on the Family

Resources for Building a Marriage that Lasts – Alysse ElHage, Family Studies

How We Saved Our Marriage in the Final HourHer View From Home

A Finance Guide for Married Couples – Phillip Holmes, The Gospel Coalition

Don’t Put Your Hope in Date Night – Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler, The Gospel Coalition

More Tips to Promote a Strong Marriage – Jim Graves, National Catholic Register

My Husband Isn’t Romantic, But He’s Still Mr. Right – Jenny Albers, Her View From Home

Parenting

Dad—A Girl’s First and Most Influential Love – Timothy Rarick, Family Studies

Parental Involvement: How Much Is Too Much? – Child Trends

What It’s Like When the Kids Grow Up: A Conversation Between Two Moms – Carolyn Lankford and Anna Meade Harris, rooted

Webinar: The Unique Contributions Of Fathers To Their Children’s Development – Institute for Research on Poverty

Economics/Education

Despite Government Shutdown, Job Growth Soars in January – Timothy Doescher, The Daily Signal

The “Green New Deal” Would Only Crush People’s Spirit – Rob Schwarzwalder, The Stream

Faith/Character/Culture

Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence – Alex Berenson, Imprimis

The Internet and Satan’s Game – Bishop Robert Barron, Word on Fire

You Don’t Have to Have a Well-Formed Opinion on Everything – Trevin Wax, The Gospel Coalition

Psychology as Indoctrination: Girls Rule, Boys Drool? – Leonard Sax, Family Studies

Are Smartphones and Social Media Hurting Our Kids? – Charles Fain Lehman, Family Studies

A Different Kind of Love – Nancy Flory, The Stream

Human Sexuality

The Left is Shunning Liberals With Concerns About Transgender Agenda – Ryan Anderson, The Stream

Pressure to conform – Jamie Dean, WORLD

True love waits: Suggestions for a more holistic purity culture – Alex Ward, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Cohabitation Doesn’t Compare: Marriage, Cohabitation, and Relationship Quality – W. Bradford Wilcox, Family Studies

6 ways pastors can care for victims of sexual abuse – Trillia Newbell, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Human Trafficking

How to Spot Sex Trafficking; Super Bowl Sunday and Beyond – Tiffany Powell, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Nevada Has the Highest Rates of an Illegal Sex Trade in the Nation – National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Pornography

What kids aren’t telling parents about porn on social media – Gail Dines, The Boston Globe

Seeing is (Not) Believing: How Viewing Pornography Shapes the Religious Lives of Young Americans – Samuel L. Perry and George M. Hayward, Social Forces

Want To Connect More Deeply With Other People? Consider Quitting Porn – Fight the New Drug

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Party of “Tolerance” is Intolerant to American’s Views on Late-Term Abortion

by Patrina Mosley

February 15, 2019

Hillary Clinton, the most popular loser of two presidential elections, keeps talking, and keeps lying. On February 12th, she tweeted, “Only about 1% of abortions happen later in pregnancy—almost always because a woman’s health or life is at risk, or the pregnancy is no longer viable.  Lying about this is dangerous, and a slap in the face to families who face heartbreaking situations.”

She accuses President Trump of lying when he rebuked Democrats for their support of late-term abortions and infanticide during his State of the Union speech. However, the second half of Clinton’s tweet is wrong.

According to pro-abortion research from the Guttmacher Institute, “data suggests that most women seeking later terminations are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment.”

One of the most defining moments of the 2016 elections was the debate between Clinton and Trump on abortion. When Trump vividly and accurately described what happens to a living child in a late-term abortion, it not only woke a lot of Americans up to the morality of protecting life but also showed a powerful contrast between the two parties and made the Democrat’s mantra for women of “my body, my choice” look inhumane and barbaric.

Trump won. Hillary lost.

Even New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is paying a political price as his approval rating has dropped to its lowest level in eight years as governor.

Despite all of this, Democrats are intent on forcing a radical abortion agenda on Americans.

A 2018 Gallup poll on American’s attitudes toward abortion showed that Americans’ “support for the legality of abortion varies sharply when they are asked to evaluate it on a trimester basis” and significantly drops in support after the first trimester.

The most recent Marist polling showed that Americans want limits on abortion:

  • Three in four Americans (75 percent) say abortion should be limited to – at most – the first three months of pregnancy. This includes most of those who identify as Republicans (92 percent), independents (78 percent) and Democrats (60 percent). It also includes more than six in 10 (61 percent) who identify as pro-choice.”

A national survey on late-term abortion from Americans United for Life/YouGov Survey found that even “pro-choice” Americans oppose abortion in the third trimester and removing care for a viable child:

  • 68% of pro-choice Americans oppose abortion the day before a child is born;
  • 66% of pro-choice Americans oppose abortion in the third trimester;
  • 77% of pro-choice Americans oppose removing medical care for a viable child”

A new poll released by Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) finds that:

  • 77 percent of voters support legislation to ensure that a baby who survives a failed abortion “be given the same medical treatment as any other baby born prematurely at the same age” (with 55 percent in “strong” support).
  • 62 percent of voters oppose legislation to allow late-term abortions, “even up to the point when a woman is in labor” (with 50 percent in “strong” opposition).

Even as Rhode Island is attempting to mimic New York’s extreme abortion law, an overwhelming majority of likely voters in the state are saying: NO!

The party of “tolerance” is seemingly unashamed of being intolerant towards Americans who do not want to see babies slaughtered both inside and outside of the womb.

While we pray for all those in power to acknowledge the truth, we should remember the right to life when heading to the polls. Innocent lives depend on it.

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3 Things to Remember About the Importance of Marriage This Valentine’s Day

by Hugh Phillips

February 14, 2019

Most people see Valentine’s Day as a fun opportunity to express their love to their spouse or significant other. Therefore, it’s a great time for Christian conservatives to take this opportunity to emphasize, through public policy and social activism, the critical importance and beauty of marriage, both to individuals and to our culture as a whole.

Marriage, designed by God to be between one man and one woman, reveals the beauty of God’s design for social order. FRC has consistently argued that marriage is critical to the maintenance of society and is the foundation of civilization. Yet too often, modern conservatives overlook the importance of marriage in the war for the soul of America. The following are three things Christian conservatives must make clear:

1. Marriage is a gift.

In a time when young Americans are putting off marriage, whether it be to find that perfect job or get one more degree, a sense of loneliness is drifting over American society. Against this background, Christian conservatives must remind society of the importance of marriage and the beauty of a life-long relationship to one person. In today’s anti-marriage and anti-commitment culture, Christian conservatives must argue that marriage is one of the most fulfilling and essential aspects of life. God’s design for marriage is such that having a spouse provides the necessary emotional and spiritual support that we all need every day.

2. Marriage is a responsibility.

In the modern day, many argue that marriage is not only old-fashioned, but unnecessarily restrictive of the freedoms of individuals. Christian conservatives must respond to this argument by showing that marriage is one of the healthiest and most necessary steps a young person must take to mature. A society that values marriage is happier and more productive. When discussing marriage, as with other issues like government, Christian conservatives must make clear that it is not unlimited freedom but ordered liberty that makes for happy, fulfilling lives.

3. Marriage is critical to the maintenance of society.

Only strong families can ensure a stable, healthy, and safe society, and families are only strong if marriages are strong. The many social problems America faces arguably have their root in the breakdown of marriages caused by the rise of the sexual revolution in the 1960’s. If social problems are to be eased, the value of marriage must be upheld in public policy and in the culture at large.

Social conservatives must not give way but instead defend the sanctity and importance of marriage. This can be done on the public policy level by, for example, eliminating the marriage penalty and reforming divorce laws to reflect the value of the marriage covenant. Even more importantly, Christian conservatives must defend and promote the sanctity of marriage in the broader culture. Only then will public policy victories on this issue increase as the nation realizes the importance of marriage to our society. Happy National Marriage Week, and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hugh Phillips is a Government Affairs intern at Family Research Council working on pro-life legislation.

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Will Women’s Restrooms Be Ruled Obsolete?

by Peter Sprigg

February 13, 2019

In a significant ruling last week, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Fifth Circuit ruled against a male-to-female transgender person, Nicole C. Wittmer, who had sued the Phillips 66 Company for employment discrimination. Wittmer contended that Phillips 66 had withdrawn a job offer after learning that Wittmer identifies as transgender. (Hat tip to Ed Whelan for his excellent two-part post on the case at National Review, here and here.)

Federal law does not prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of “gender identity.” After years of failing to persuade Congress to add “gender identity” (or “sexual orientation”) as a protected category in federal civil rights laws, LGBT activists have adopted a new legal strategy. They now contend that discrimination based on gender identity is already illegal because it is a form of discrimination based on “sex,” which was prohibited along with racial discrimination by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Specific lawsuits rest not only on such abstract legal theories, but also on specific facts. In this case, both the District Court and the Fifth Circuit decided for Phillips 66, the defendant. The evidence showed that the plaintiff Wittmer had been fired by his previous employer, a fact which Wittmer did not disclose to Phillips 66. It was the discovery of that deception that led the company to withdraw a job offer—not transgender discrimination.

Therefore, it was actually not necessary for the court to decide whether sex discrimination encompasses “gender identity.” However, on this threshold question, the District Court had said yes. Judge James C. Ho wrote a separate concurrence to explain why Title VII does not cover either gender identity (at issue in this case) or sexual orientation. At 14 pages, his concurrence is actually twice as long as the majority opinion (which Ho also wrote).

I highly recommend this concurrence. Judge Ho does a good job of explaining two different theories of interpretation of sex discrimination. Under the “favoritism” theory, an act is only “sex discrimination” if it favors one sex over the other. Under the “blindness theory” (relied on by the plaintiff), an act is “sex discrimination” if it takes sex into account in any way at all (in this case, because women may wear dresses to work but men may not, for example).

Judge Ho points out very bluntly that under the “blindness theory,” it would not be permissible to have “separate bathrooms and changing rooms for men and women.” And an attorney for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, permitted to participate as a “friend of the court,” conceded this point at oral argument (see p. 16 of the opinion).

This is significant. Up to now in the bathroom debates, transgender activists have conceded the legitimacy of separate men’s and women’s facilities, but have argued that people should be allowed to use the one that corresponds to their gender identity rather than their biological sex. But now we have a concession that a logical implication of the argument they are using for counting “gender identity” discrimination as a form of “sex discrimination” is that we could not have separate facilities at all.

Courts should not be rewriting laws just because LGBT activists have not persuaded Congress to do so. But if they adopt the approach transgender activists want, they may not only usurp the powers of Congress—they may abolish separate men’s and women’s locker rooms, showers, and restrooms altogether.

So much for the “right to privacy.”

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Contributors to Sexual Exploitation are Called Out

by Patrina Mosley

February 12, 2019

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), the leading national organization exposing the links between all forms of sexual exploitation, has released their annual “Dirty Dozen List” that exposes and calls to account groups, agencies, and businesses who contribute significantly to the normalization of sexual exploitation through pornography, prostitution, sex trafficking, and other forms of exploitation.

At yesterday’s event announcing the list, NCOSE said, “This list ensures that their participation and collusion with the various aspects of the sex trade becomes public knowledge and equips citizens with information and tools to hold them accountable.” The Dirty Dozen List is meant to be an activism tool for consumers and a public call for these companies to reform their exploitive policies.

Since 2011, NCOSE has instigated 98 policy improvements in corporations and government entities. As NCOSE’s vice president of advocacy and outreach Haley Halverson said, “No corporation should profit from or facilitate sexual exploitation.”

Here is this year’s Dirty Dozen List of shame. Click on the organization’s name to join the campaign and send a message to these entities that are profiting from the sexual exploitation of women and children.

1. Amazon

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer” is “promoting material that sexualizes children and normalizes the dehumanization and sexual commodification of women.” … “Items for sale on Amazon include child-like sex dolls, photography books with eroticized child nudity, pornographic magazines, and clothing items, and more. Their Kindle e-reader is riddled with sexually explicit content containing incest, babysitter, and group-sex themes.”

2. EBSCO

EBSCO Information Services offers online library resources to public and private schools (K-12), colleges and universities, public libraries, and more. In its advertising for schools, it promises ‘fast access to curriculum-appropriate content.’ However, its Explora, Science Reference Center, Literary Reference Center, and other products, sometimes provide easy access to hardcore pornography sites and extremely graphic sexual content.”

3. Google

Google Chromebook, which is often used in schools, is marketed as “built from the ground up to be shared with an unlimited number of students.” “Unfortunately, many schools distribute unprotected and unfiltered Chromebooks when Google could easily turn on a default setting for safer use by children.” … “YouTube, the world’s largest video-sharing platform, regularly hosts pornography and sexual violence while Google shirks responsibility by forcing users to act at content flaggers.”

4. HBO

HBO, a division of Time Warner, is an American premium cable television network that has consistently produced content which normalizes rape myths, sexual violence, and commercial sexual exploitation through [sic] with sexually exploitive depictions of sex and sexual violence. This has been displayed over the years through shows like Game of Thrones and The Deuce. The HBO GO home streaming service and app make accessing this exploitive content even easier.”

5. Massage Envy

Massage Envy has been and is being, sued by hundreds of women for failing to take appropriate measures when a massage therapist sexually harasses or assaults a client. Among a number of poor policies, the company has hidden clauses in customer agreements which force women to surrender their rights, and many former employees report being trained to do all in their power not to encourage police to show up at their locations.  Massage Envy does not even require reporting of suspected assaults to the Massage Therapy Board and a number of cases against Massage Envy involve prior complaints of sexual assault by customers being made to management and them doing nothing about it, thus allowing perpetrators to continue preying on vulnerable clients.”

6. Netflix

Despite much highly-rated originally produced content on its platform, Netflix sinks to storytelling which portrays gratuitous nudity and graphic sex acts in shows meant for teen and young audiences. Further, Netflix portrays graphic and violent depictions of sexual assault in a number of their shows and has even produced shows normalizing sex trafficking and eroticizing children. Netflix allows a loophole for children to easily get around parental control features and it regularly recommends children’s content paired right next to NC17 and TV-MA content.”

7. State of Nevada

Nevada is the only state in America with legalized brothel prostitution, in select counties. As of February 2018, there were at least 21 brothels active in Nevada. While some may claim that legalization provides better regulation and increased safety – the truth is that sexual violence, racism, and socioeconomic disadvantages are inextricable from the prostitution experience.”

8. Roku

Roku, a leading media streaming company, provides its users with the ability to stream television programs, movies, music, and more, on their personal devices. Unfortunately, Roku also facilitates access to hardcore pornography channels through hundreds of private and hidden channels.”

9. Sports Illustrated (Swimsuit Issue)

Since 1964 this magazine has sexually objectified women for sport and profit.” … “These images are not designed to be empowering. Rather, they are designed to portray women as sexually desirable and available to the male customers purchasing this magazine. Women who have achieved remarkable athletic feats do not deserve to be put back into the box of male sexual accessibility in order to promote ‘body positivity.’”

10. Steam

Steam® is a popular distribution platform, owned by Valve Corporation, which sells thousands of video games for PC, Mac, Linux box, mobile device, or even televisions, in addition to connecting gamers with community forums on its website.” After receiving backlash from gamers about working to remove rape-themed games, Steam instituted a new policy to “allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling.” As soon as this new policy launched, the number of games tagged for “nudity” doubled from approximately 700 games to around 1,400 in just four months—and now there are over 2,000 games with this tag.

11. Twitter

For years, Twitter has done little to stem the overwhelming tide of sex trafficking, prostitution, and pornography accounts on its site. In fact, media reports suggest that as many as 10 million Twitter accounts may include explicit sexual content. Twitter prides itself as being a platform for ‘free expression’ yet refuses to remove accounts posting likely advertisements for sexual slavery.”

12. United Airlines

United Airlines fails to adequately train aircrews to address the problem of pornography-use on airplanes and the sexually hostile environment that this fosters. While reports of sexual harassment and even assault have increased in the airline industry, United Airlines has not prioritized policies and procedures to keep customers safe.”

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Return to the Constitution: Judicial Activism or Originalism?

by Zachary Rogers

February 12, 2019

FRC has consistently maintained that the Supreme Court needs to bring legal precedent more in line with the Constitution and the principles of the Declaration of Independence. But if this effort is taken up in earnest by a newly conservative Court, it is likely to be tarred as “judicial activism.” Judicial activism occurs when a judge applies his views rather than a faithful interpretation of the law to the case before him. What is needed, and what we look forward to seeing with the appointment of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh and many more lower court judges, is judges’ faithful interpretation of the Constitution and the laws to the cases before them.

However, many on the Left think that overturning any of the bad precedent churned out by the Supreme Court is partisan judicial activism. It is not. To understand this, we must comprehend the structure the Framers crafted, the role of judicial review within it, and the place of the other branches within this system.

The Framers carefully crafted a system of ordered liberty, which entrusted certain enumerated powers to the national government and reserved the rest to the people and the states. The improved science of politics included checks and balances, separation of powers, and elected representatives.

They did this because the legislature and executive branch “could be preserved in practice no other way than through the medium of courts of justice, whose duty it must be to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void.” In essence, Congress would promulgate laws, the president would execute them, and the Supreme Court would adjudicate the relevant laws in individual cases.

The Framers created a system of checks and balances in which ambition would be made to counteract ambition. Each branch was expected to protect its prerogatives and powers, thus enforcing separation of powers and preventing tyranny—the accumulation of legislative, executive, and judicial power. This system of limited government and ordered liberty under the Constitution has shifted since 1787.

The Constitution is the highest law of the land because it is the settled and deliberate will of the people against which congressional laws, executive actions, and Supreme Court decisions must be measured. Traditionally, all three of the branches were expected to be faithful to the Constitution in the execution of their duties.

The Progressive Era, however, caused the modern American regime to shift dangerously to the left. The president is no longer expected merely to execute the laws passed by Congress but to nudge the American people in a partisan direction. Congress spends little time passing laws; instead, it occupies most of its time overseeing executive agencies while delegating lawmaking to executive agencies. The Supreme Court perceives itself the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution—which could be defined in accord with the intent of the Framers or according to the “living” Constitution desired by the liberals.

The rise of the modern court occurred for two reasons. First, the theory of the living Constitution requires the document to be interpreted in accord with the spirit of the times. This requires it to have no fixed meaning, subject to varying interpretation, and acting as a vehicle of “progress” to move the American people forward. Second, modern liberals were able to use the courts to achieve social and political change. They were forced to do so because they were unable to achieve decisive victory at the ballot box, which would have allowed them to implement their desired laws and policy objectives.

One of the reasons Supreme Court practice has strayed from the Founder’s intentions is an erroneous understanding of Marbury v. Madison (1803). The modern understanding of this case is that the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and all officials must comply with it. In fact, the Court ruled that when a law conflicts with the Constitution it is the Constitution that is paramount.

Judicial review is simply the authority to declare acts void when they conflict with the Constitution. A strict fidelity to the original meaning of the Constitution limits judges’ power. If a law violates the Constitution of the Framers, then it must be declared void.

Therefore, Supreme Court decisions are not the last word and may in fact be revisited in order to uphold a proper constitutional construction. In this partisan atmosphere, Christians and conservatives should expect charges of judicial activism in an effort to tar genuine efforts to return to constitutional law. A true recognition of judicial activism lets the American people distinguish between a rejection, distortion, or return to the Constitution.

Zachary Rogers is a Government Affairs intern at Family Research Council.

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