FRC Blog

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of August 2)

by Family Research Council

August 7, 2020

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

1. Washington Update: ”Amazon Calls Them Like They SPLC Them”

We can’t continue to have four of the biggest companies in the world picking and choosing winners in a marketplace where they have unlimited power. At the end of the day, these platforms have a choice. They can start acting in good faith—or they can watch as both sides of Congress unite with one target: them.

2. Washington Update: ”Polling on Girls’ Sports Starts a Racket”

In Bostock, the Supreme Court redefined human history’s understanding of sex. Not every ruling at the Supreme Court is personal. But five of the justices have daughters—and three of them went home one night in June knowing they’d destroyed their chance, and every girl’s chance, at sports.

3. Blog: “Remembering ISIS’ Yazidi Genocide, Six Years Later”

Six years ago, ISIS invaded the quiet homeland of the Yazidi people. It only took a few hours for ISIS to seize their city and kidnap or kill all who were unable to flee in time. Those who did manage to escape ran to Mount Sinjar without food, water, or medical care, with ISIS hot on their heels.

4. Blog: ”Coronavirus, Education, and Tofu: Why Choice is the Solution to the Education Conundrum”

The coronavirus has been disruptive to our politics, our economy, and even our decency, but perhaps nothing has been disrupted as significantly as our education system. If the education market worked like any other market, our present dilemma would still be challenging, but it would be solvable.

5. Washington Watch: Pastor Jack Hibbs blames two colliding worldviews for the unequal treatment of churches in Calif.

Jack Hibbs, Senior Pastor at Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, joined Tony Perkins to discuss California Governor Gavin Newsom’s overreaching restrictions on churches.

6. Washington Watch: Doreen Denny cheers the polling that shows a huge consensus on protecting women’s sports

Doreen Denny, Vice President of Government Relations for Concerned Women for America (CWA), joined Sarah Perry to discuss Title IX in a post-Bostock age, CWA’s work to protect Title IX, and CWA’s letter to the NCAA Board of Governors.

7. Washington Watch: Brandon Showalter applauds J.K. Rowling for sticking to her guns on the harms of the trans agenda

Brandon Showalter, reporter for the Christian Post, joined Sarah Perry to discuss J. K. Rowling’s continued pushback on the transgender ideology and Facebook’s censorship on the topic of gender dysphoria.

For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.com, our Facebook pageTwitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad. Check out “The 7” at the end of every week to get our highlights of the week’s trending items. Have a great weekend!

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FRC on the Hill (July 27-August 7)

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP

August 7, 2020

Whether in the appropriations process or coronavirus relief discussions, issues of life, family, and religious freedom continued to be debated in Congress in recent days, and Family Research Council wrapped up a busy few weeks fighting for faith, family, and freedom in our nation’s capital. Here are the two big items from the past two weeks:

The House Continues its Spending Spree

The House of Representatives passed the second spending package (H.R. 7617) for fiscal year 2021. This package includes several measures that block some of the president’s pro-life and pro-family policies. Among other things, H.R. 7617 would:

  • Allow D.C. funds to be used for abortions;
  • Grant the marijuana industry banking access and prevent the federal government from enforcing federal law in states that have legalized recreational marijuana;
  • Force private schools participating in the D.C. voucher program (including faith-based schools) to abide by the same federal restrictions as public schools;
  • Cut private schools from COVID-19 relief funding;
  • Lock in Planned Parenthood as a Title X family planning grantee;
  • Eliminate funding for Sexual Risk Avoidance Education, a program that teaches children that avoiding sexual activity before marriage is the surest way to avoid its risks;
  • Stop efforts by the Department of Health and Human Services from working with faith-based adoption and foster care agencies that operate in accordance with their faith;
  • Stop efforts by the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that science and biology remain the cornerstone of health care, not gender ideology;
  • Gut Department of Defense policy regarding the service of individuals with gender dysphoria despite the policy’s basis in promoting military readiness, lethality, and unit cohesion over social experimentation; and
  • Allow men who identify as women into battered women’s shelters.

With this package passed, only the spending bills for Homeland Security and the Legislative Branch remain outstanding in the House. However, the Senate has not begun working on their spending bills, and there are only 14 legislative days left before federal funding runs out on September 30. The appropriations process in the House has been nothing but partisan politics by liberals to advance their priorities and does not reflect a good faith effort to pass spending bills that will actually be signed into law.

Congress Negotiates Next Round of Coronavirus Relief

The Senate unveiled their long-awaited proposal for further medical and economic relief for Americans hurting from the coronavirus pandemic. Unlike the Heroes Act (H.R. 6800), which includes a wish list of liberal policy priorities, the Senate proposal (HEALS Act) seeks to spend money responsibly and tailor aid specifically to those most in need.

Among other things, the Heroes Act would:

  • Provide bonus pay for essential workers, which could include those working at abortion facilities;
  • Provide tax subsidies for health care plans that cover abortion;
  • Redefine sex in non-discrimination language to include sexual orientation and gender identity;
  • Create legal protections for banks who do business with the marijuana industry.

The HEALS Act, however:

  • Provides financial help without subsidizing abortion or health plans that cover abortion;
  • Puts most of its funding towards schools, virus testing, and the small business loan program known as the Paycheck Protection Program;
  • Includes liability protections for nonprofits and churches so that they can reopen safely without fear of frivolous lawsuits;
  • Includes Emergency Education Freedom Grants, which would send money to states in the form of scholarships to be used for private schools and even homeschooling expenses.

Negotiations over the next round of coronavirus relief legislation are still ongoing and major disagreements between the two sides have threatened to stall any compromise solution. However, it is encouraging to see the Senate sticking up for life, family, and religious liberty.

Other Notable Items

  • Senator Josh Hawley has stated that he will only support Supreme Court nominees who are on the record against Roe v. Wade.
  • The CEOs of Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook testified before the House Judiciary committee. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) directly called out big tech censorship of conservative voices and Amazon’s use of the SPLC hate groups list in the Amazon smile program.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the State Department budget, discussing religious freedom among other things.
  • Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) introduced a bill to repeal the longstanding Helms Amendment, a bipartisan policy that bans taxpayer funding for abortion abroad.

We hope this is a helpful roundup of developments connected to faith, family, and freedom on Capitol Hill. Please stay tuned for our next update.

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The Joan of Arc Memorial: A Tribute to Courage and Faith

by Molly Carman

August 7, 2020

The history of the United States is preserved in archives, books, and the collective memory of the American people. It is also preserved in monuments, memorials, and statues made from marble, granite, bronze, or plaster.

Our nation’s capital is home to some of the world’s most recognizable and frequently visited monuments. This blog series will explore the events and people they commemorate, devoting particular attention to the spiritual themes depicted. By shedding light on our nation’s deep religious heritage, this series aims to inspire the next generation to emulate virtues and merits from America’s past that are worth memorializing.

FRC’s blog series on monuments is written by FRC summer interns and edited by David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview. Be sure to read our previous posts on the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial.

In a city filled with monuments to America’s presidents, generals, soldiers, and statesmen, a statue to a French teenager might seem out of place. But the Joan of Arc Memorial in Washington, D.C. pays tribute to a fascinating story of courage and faith that Americans have long admired.

Joan of Arc was born in Arc, France in 1412. When she was 13, she believed she heard the voices of St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret telling her to fight for France during the Hundred Years War. Joan answered the call, helping the French drive the English from Orleans in 1429. During the battle, she was captured by the Burgundians and tried in a French ecclesiastical court that had pro-English sympathies. After a sham trial, she was convicted of heresy and deemed a witch by the counsel. In 1431, she was burned at the stake—when she was only 19 years old.

The first memorial to Joan of Arc was erected in Orleans, France in 1456. Today, there are 22 memorials and statues of Joan of Arc worldwide; five are in the United States. Meridian Hill Park in Washington, D.C. is home to one of the five. The D.C. memorial was erected in 1889, and is an exact replica of the “Jeanne d’Arc” statue that stands outside the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims in France. Sculptor Paul Dubois (1829-1905) designed both statues.

D.C.’s Joan of Arc statue stands a little over four feet tall and 11 feet wide. Joan is mounted on her horse in full armor. While there are other memorials to women in our nation’s capital, the Joan of Arc Memorial is the only equestrian statue of a woman and the only statue that depicts a woman going into battle.

Joan’s right hand is raised and holding her drawn sword; her left hand holds the reins of her horse. The visor of her helmet is open, and her eyes gaze heavenward. The sword is five feet long and weighs 30 pounds. Vandals have stolen the sword on multiple occasions, most recently in September 2016. The sword was replaced, and the memorial was rededicated in March 2018.

The bronze statue rests on a three-tiered granite pedestal engraved with the words “Aux Femmes d’Amérique Les Femmes de France,” which means, “To the Women of America, The Women of France.” The statue was gifted to the United States by a group of women known as the Society of French Women of New York—Le Lyceum Societie des Femmes de France—and was dedicated to the women of the United States. President and Mrs. Harding and Ambassador Jules Jusserand of France attended the memorial’s dedication on January 6, 1922.

Carlo Polifeme, the president of the Society of French Women of New York, officially dedicated the memorial, and Mrs. George Maynard Minor, president of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), unveiled the statue on behalf of the women of the United States. Ambassador Jusserand presented a medal from France to Polifeme for her work towards getting the statue erected in Washington, D.C.

Memorials commemorating the life of Joan of Arc, including the one in D.C., represent the legacy of a young woman’s devout faith, obedience, and courage. Although she was young, she was bold. Christians can learn three lessons while reflecting on the life of Joan of Arc and her memorial in Meridian Hill Park.

First, we can be encouraged that our abilities, age, or experience are not what qualifies us for the work God intends for us to do. This is the encouragement Paul gave to his protégé Timothy when he said, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Joan did not shrink back from the dangers of war, rather she led the French army to battle, even though she knew it could cost her life. Likewise, Christians should not shrink back from the callings God has on our lives, even if we “feel” unqualified.

Second, the Joan of Arc statue depicts her with her helmet’s visor open and her eyes looking toward heaven. Christians are called to keep “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Christians are called to have our focus on Christ and not the fears that threaten to overwhelm us. Just as Joan is portrayed looking up to heaven, we, too, must look up as we prepare to contend for the faith.

Finally, the monument depicts Joan’s horse in a full charge into battle. Even though she may have been afraid, Joan did not back down when the battle raged. By depicting Joan with her sword drawn, the memorial communicates her courage. In Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul speaks of putting on the full armor of God. Christians must always be prepared for the battles of life, but, like Joan, we must keep our focus on the Lord, who will never leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).

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The NBA Stays Silent on China’s Atrocities While Raking in Billions

by Blake Elliott

August 7, 2020

I grew up playing basketball and have always been a huge fan of the NBA. However, I have recently become extremely disappointed in the NBA and its players for their appalling silence on how the Chinese government is treating Uyghur Muslims.

China’s atrocities against its Uyghur population are nothing new; they have been going on for a while. But the situation has just recently begun to pick up global attention after videos of hundreds of Uyghurs being blindfolded and forced onto trains, presumably to be sent into forced labor and camps, have leaked. This isn’t the only human rights issue on which the NBA has been conspicuously silent; it has a pattern of silence on human rights issues abroad. For example, it has been silent on ESPN’s recent report suggesting that the NBA’s China Academies (located in Xinjiang, where most Uyghurs live) abuse their players. The NBA has also been silent while its business partner, Nike, uses Uyghur forced labor to produce shoes. The NBA’s sudden emphasis on “social justice” issues begs the question: why has the organization been silent for so long, and continues to do so, on human rights violations in China?

There are several likely reasons why the NBA has chosen to remain silent on these issues. One is how much money it makes in China. According to recent reports, around 800 million people in China watch the NBA, and the league earns an estimated $5 billion per year in China. The NBA has also signed a $1.5 billion agreement with a Chinese internet company. There is serious money to be made in China, as it is estimated that nearly 20 percent of the league’s revenue will be coming from the country by 2030.

These figures do not even account for the NBA’s business dealings with Nike. In 2015, the league signed a $1 billion deal with Nike, allowing its logo to be on all NBA uniforms. In addition, nearly 300 players have signed agreements with Nike.

Nike’s ties to China are particularly troubling. It is estimated that the Chinese government has forced at least one million Uyghurs into what are essentially labor and “re-education” camps. Leaked Chinese government orders have shown that these camps are meant to break Uyghur lineage, roots, connections, and origins and essentially eradicate them as a people. It has been reported that survivors were electrocuted, waterboarded, beaten repeatedly, and even injected with unknown substances. These atrocities cannot be denied, yet China continues to force Uyghurs to produce nearly eight million Nike shoes in these camps each year. Clearly, Nike is silent on China’s treatment of Uyghurs because they are cheap labor, allowing them to continue profiting billions of dollars each year.

Some United States senators have been attempting to draw attention to this issue. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) recently had a Twitter exchange with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in which he asked Cuban if he would condemn China’s treatment of Uyghurs. Cuban refrained from condemning China and opted to change the subject. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) also has been advocating for this issue. In May, he cosponsored the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, but even more recently, he sent a letter to the NBA asking how it would protect its players and employees who choose to speak out against the actions of the Chinese government. The NBA responded to Hawley’s letter simply by saying that it was “unable to respond to this hypothetical question” and that it has long held values of “equality, respect, and freedom of expression.”

Perhaps the league’s biggest star, Lebron James, summed the situation up best by stating that players have freedom of speech, but they have to be careful because of the negative impact that can result from speaking out. It is interesting to note that while Lebron claims that Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who tweeted in support of Hong Kong protestors, was not “educated on the situation at hand,” he is evidently not educated on his own sponsor Nike’s practices or what is going on in China.

Clearly, money is more important to the NBA than speaking out against human rights violations in China. The NBA has set a precedent that no one involved in the organization may criticize China. This was made clear when they silenced Daryl Morey’s attempt to offer support to the Hong Kong protesters, and it continues to be made clear by the organization’s silence on the modern-day atrocities that China is committing. It recently came out that NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, donated the max contribution to Joe Biden’s campaign. One can only hope that Biden would not share Silver’s stance on being silent on these atrocities.

It is essential that people understand the atrocities and human rights violations being committed against the Uyghur Muslims in China. People are being sent to what many have called “concentration camps,” and one former NBA employee compared the atmosphere in Xinjiang to “World War II Germany.” Yet Nike, the NBA, and its players continue to be silent on the issue, doubtlessly due to the income they receive in China. This is wrong, and they need to continue to be held accountable.

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USAID Does a World of Good for Religious Freedom

by Arielle Del Turco , Arielle Leake

August 6, 2020

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator John Barsa knows the importance of religious freedom firsthand. Barsa is half Cuban, and his Catholic family fled Cuba for reasons which included religious repression under communism. As a result, he knows how detrimental it is when a country suppresses religious belief.

At a recent United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) event, Barsa made clear that promoting religious freedom is a priority for USAID. He boldly stated, “We will not shy away from calling religious persecution for what it is. No one gets a free pass for this.”

The USCIRF event explored how USAID plans to implement President Trump’s recent executive order on advancing international religious freedom. The order established a strong stance on furthering religious liberty around the world and laid out a concrete plan for progress.

USCIRF Chair Gayle Manchin noted that “Since 2017 the Trump administration has made religious liberty one of its highest priorities.” Tony Perkins, USCIRF Vice Chair, added that he is “very encouraged by the people he [the president] has put in place to enforce the order.”

The order expands mandatory international religious liberty training to include more government officials, ensures the integration of religious liberty into American diplomacy, and requires the utilization of economic tools to promote religious liberty, among other provisions. It also requires the State Department and USAID to provide comprehensive action plans within 180 days of the order’s issuance.

USAID has already done much to further the cause of religious liberty. This order and the minimum of $50 million it allots will assist them in furthering that goal. Examples of USAID’s work include everything from partnering with the Greek Orthodox Church to provide job training for religious and ethnic minorities in Syria, to protecting minority religious groups in Nigeria from the atrocities committed by Boko Haram.

In Iraq, many Yazidis and Christians who were targets of religious persecution are still reluctant to return home. This week marks six years since the ISIS genocide against the Yazidi people, and many Yazidis remain displaced, living in crowded refugee camps because they do not feel safe enough to return home. USAID is committed to the vital work of ensuring these religious minorities are safe in their own homeland, eliminating the need for them to flee again.

USAID programs are aimed at preventing mass atrocities such as genocide and empowering “countries along their journey to self-reliance.” Barsa said that USAID recognizes “when governments suppress freedom of religion, they prevent entire segments of society from making meaningful contributions to their country’s political and economic development.”

USAID has begun a new partnership initiative bringing a positive change to their approach. The goal of this initiative is to expand the organization’s base by working with more community-based organizations. This involvement with organizations at the grassroots level will allow USAID to gain more of a cultural understanding of the best ways to promote religious liberty in each area. Barsa calls this approach “good government” because it allows USAID to work with people in the community who know what is going on. In the end, it will lead to more effective assistance and hopefully yield significant results.

The American people can be proud of the generous aid we provide to communities in need around the world. Money is a powerful tool, and when used for good, it can make a world of difference.

The good work that USAID is doing is rarely reported in the media, but it deserves attention and appreciation. President Trump’s executive order on advancing religious  freedom, in addition to the new programs being implemented, such as the partner initiative, will make USAID’s work more potent and will promote the freedom for all people to believe as they choose.

Arielle Leake is a Policy & Government Affairs intern focusing on religious liberty.

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Pakistan’s Religious Injustice: Prayers and Pressure Needed

by Lela Gilbert

August 5, 2020

Once again, Pakistan is in the news. Unsurprisingly, the news is bad. And even less surprisingly, the latest news from that troubled country centers around religion—more specifically the lack of religious freedom in Pakistan.

This past week, an American citizen was shot dead in Peshawar, and he didn’t die in a dark alleyway or in a terrorist attack. No, according to CNN, “Tahir Ahmed Naseem, 47, died on Wednesday… after a member of the public walked into the courtroom and opened fire in front of the judge, according to officials.”

Naseem, who belonged to the Ahmadiyya sect, had been charged with blasphemy, a crime punishable by death under the Pakistan penal code. And before a judge could decide on his fate, he was assassinated by an Islamist thug.

Clearly, blasphemy certainly isn’t a deadly crime in North America. Indeed, during recent violence across the U.S., relentless insults have been hurled at Christians and Christianity, whether in word or deed. Statues of priests and missionaries have been toppled, sanctuaries and religious schools vandalized, and at least one historic mission torched. Meanwhile, verbal abuse of God-fearing Jews is common parlance in anti-Israel protests and on social media.

However, blasphemy in Pakistan is another story. Blasphemy has become a deadly preoccupation of the country’s radical Muslims, whose constitution provides them full opportunity to incite violence and when possible, to imprison or kill anyone accused—most often falsely—of insulting Allah, the Prophet Mohammad, or the Koran, Islam’s religious holy book.

A former member of the Pakistani parliament and my courageous friend and journalist, Farah Ispahani told me,

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have become more pernicious and dangerous as the society at large has become more extremist and unwilling to share space with those of other beliefs like Pakistan’s Christians, Hindus and Sikhs – and even those of the same faith, but of different sects like Ahmadi and Shia Muslims. There is still a majority of Pakistanis who will not kill someone who believes or practices differently, but those of other faiths have become fearful of armed jihadi groups, and the madrasahs the killers come from.

Her statement has been confirmed by an article in the New York Times with the headline, “Poor and Desperate, Pakistani Hindus Accept Islam to Get By.” According to the story, in June dozens of Hindu families converted to Islam in a mass ceremony. “What we are seeking is social status, nothing else,” one of the new converts candidly told a reporter.

In an interview for the Times report, Ms. Ispahani explained, “The dehumanization of minorities coupled with these very scary times we are living in — a weak economy and now the pandemic — we may see a raft of people converting to Islam to stave off violence or hunger or just to live to see another day.”

Most Christians in Pakistan are unlikely to convert to Islam, but they are more than aware of the risks they face every day. This, not only thanks to the dehumanization they experience, but also in dread of false blasphemy accusations.

Blasphemy accusations can result if a non-Muslim speaks an unkind word against a neighbor or posts a careless insult on social media. But more than often, there’s no real offense to begin with. Such charges can emanate from the lies and libels of jealous neighbors, or from false statements made by mocking adolescents, or even from winning the jackpot at a card game.

Meanwhile, winning a case against false accusations in Pakistan is another story. As the story of Tahir Naseem makes clear, the legal system provides no protection nor opportunity for a fair trial. How did an armed fanatic find his way into Naseem’s courtroom and manage to shoot him dead? It was possible because vigilantes have virtually free reign in Pakistan. Christians accused of blasphemy have as much to fear from fanatical mobs as from unjust judges.

Who can forget the tragic story of Asia Bibi? A simple farmworker whose initial offense was drinking water from a common cup with other berry-pickers, she ended up on death row for nine years on false blasphemy charges. She was eventually freed and fled the country, thanks to a widespread international outcry.

Yet even though she escaped, Asia Bibi’s life was destroyed and her false charges ended up costing the lives of two government officials who tried to defend her. Both prominent politicians, Shahbaz Bhatti, minister for Christian minorities, and Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab, were assassinated in 2011 for opposing Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, and for speaking out in Asia Bibi’s defense.

Pakistan is, indeed, a “country of particular concern,” as re-designated by USCIRF in December 2019, “for engaging in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, as defined by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).” Meanwhile, Open Doors listed Pakistan as #5 on its 2020 World Watch List of the 50 worst persecutors of Christians in the world.

So what can we do? We need to make our voices heard. Let’s encourage our legislators, the State Department and the White House to take a firmer hand in negotiating with the radicalized state of Pakistan. Let’s share the facts on social media. Let’s alert our pastors and our Bible study groups.

When it comes to religious freedom, let’s keep the old saying in mind: “Act as if everything depends on you and pray as if everything depends on God.”

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Coronavirus, Education, and Tofu: Why Choice is the Solution to the Education Conundrum

by Joseph Backholm

August 4, 2020

The coronavirus has been disruptive to our politics, our economy, and even our decency, but perhaps nothing has been disrupted as significantly as our education system.

Harvard has already announced that it will be conducting all classes remotely for the 2020-21 school year. Meanwhile, a battle is forming between school districts, parents, and teachers’ unions over the best way to do education in elementary, middle, and high schools in the age of corona.  

In Florida, the teachers union has sued the state over the governor’s attempts to require school districts to provide in-class instruction. The nation’s second-largest teachers union has authorized its teachers to strike if school districts do not meet certain demands like requiring masks or updating ventilation systems.  

Parents not only want their children to resume their educational pursuits; in many cases, they need somewhere to send their children so they can work. Not all families are wanting the same thing. Some parents think schools should resume as normal because children are in a low-risk category from the virus. Other families, whose children or close relatives are vulnerable, are either removing their children completely or insisting on a range of challenging or expensive modifications to school routines and buildings.

Meanwhile, school districts face a dilemma. If they choose online education, many families will leave. If they opt for in-class instruction, teachers may refuse to teach. For schools, there seems to be no right answer. But there could be. As sticky as this dilemma is, it’s made much more complicated by the fact that families are generally denied options about where to spend their education dollars.

In other contexts, this scenario isn’t particularly unusual or difficult. If McDonald’s replaces all their meat patties with tofu, vegans will descend on McDonald’s, and everyone else will go to Wendy’s or Burger King. It may require a change in routine, but ultimately everyone will get what they want because everyone has the freedom to spend their lunch money at the place that will give them what they’re looking for.

For reasons that are almost entirely political, education doesn’t work this way. While tax money is allotted for each student, students are almost always told where they can go, not asked where they want to go. Only those with enough money to look outside the public school system have real options. We are so accustomed to a choiceless education system that many of us have not paused to consider how strange it is. We would march on Washington if our health insurance providers told us they would only cover medical treatment at the hospital closest to our house.

There’s no way for schools to meet the unique needs of every family as they navigate this global challenge, but they shouldn’t have to. Families, schools, and teachers each need the freedom to do what’s best for them, but the law says they can’t. Families aren’t allowed to choose the school that’s best for them, and schools are forbidden from hiring teachers who are a good fit for the educational approach they will choose. As a result, schools are stuck with teachers who may refuse to work, and families are stuck with schools that may not have teachers.

If the education market worked like any other market, our present dilemma would still be challenging, but it would be solvable. As it is, we’re heading for a showdown that will end with nearly everyone being frustrated.

State legislatures should be calling special sessions immediately to allow families the freedom to choose the education that works best for their unique situation. One-size-fit-all solutions to education are always a problem, but right now, they’re especially harmful. Families must be empowered to solve this problem for themselves because they’re the only ones who can. If state legislatures don’t do this, they shouldn’t expect education in the age of corona to go well. People don’t enjoy being told they have only one option if that option doesn’t work for them. It’s like being told you have one option for a burger and learning they only sell tofu.

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Zuckerberg’s Two-Faced Support of “Free Expression” and Censorship of Therapy

by Peter Sprigg

August 4, 2020

Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) grilled the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook about censorship of conservative voices online in a congressional hearing July 29. He asked each if they were “concerned about the ‘cancel culture’ mob and what it’s up to.”

Here is what Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg said in reply:

Yes, Congressman. I believe strongly in free expression. Giving people a voice is an important part of what our services do, and I’m very worried about some of the forces of illiberalism that I see in this country that are pushing against free expression. I think that this is one of the fundamental democratic traditions that we have in our country. And it’s how we make progress over the long term on a number of issues. And our company is committed to doing what we can to protect people’s voice.

If Zuckerberg means what he said in his sworn testimony to Congress, step one would be to immediately reverse his company’s decision to “cancel” all content supportive of sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts (SOCE or GICE)—usually referred to by its critics as “conversion therapy.”

According to news reports, on July 10, a spokesperson for Facebook and Instagram, Tara Hopkins, their public policy director for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, issued a statement saying that Facebook would remove all content promoting so-called “conversion therapy.” CNN reported that this was an expansion of Facebook’s “existing policies on hate speech worldwide.”

Ms. Hopkins reportedly said,

We don’t allow attacks against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity and are updating our policies to ban the promotion of conversion therapy services.

It’s puzzling that an offer to help willing participants achieve their own personally-chosen goal of overcoming unwanted same-sex attractions or becoming comfortable with their biological sex would be considered an “attack against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

On the other hand, it seems logical that “attacks against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity” would include attacks upon people who self-identify as ex-gay based upon their sexual orientation (as well as attacks against people who formerly identified as transgendered but who have de-transitioned based upon their gender identity).

But Facebook’s new policy is not prevention against attacks on individuals self-identifying as ex-gay—it is apparently the successful result of them. The announcement of the new policy follows a systematic campaign of social media attacks upon a U.K. man named Mike Davidson and his organization Core Issues Trust (CIT). These attacks were waged precisely because of Davidson’s self-identified sexual orientation as ex-gay.

It is particularly ironic that Mr. Davidson is being accused of “hate speech,” given the communications he has received from his critics:

CIT’s Facebook page has been barraged with pornographic images — some suggesting pederasty — from activists posting to CIT’s account. . .  

A phone text received by Mike Davidson, who leads both groups, told him, “Kill yourself… I hope you drop dead.  I hope you and your family are raped and killed. Do it. Kill yourself. Just do it.”

Ms. Hopkins of Facebook goes on:

We are always reviewing our policies and will continue to consult with experts and people with personal experiences to inform our approach.

I’m not aware of Facebook consulting with any therapists who actually conduct sexual orientation change efforts—although they would seem to be the people with the most “expertise” on the subject. Nor does Facebook seem to have consulted with people whose “personal experiences” include having benefited from undertaking sexual orientation change efforts. Facebook’s “approach” will not be “informed” if they listen to only one viewpoint.

Another news report, in the LGBT publication the Washington Blade, says:

Mathew Shurka, co-founder of Born Perfect, a project run by him and the National Center for Lesbian Rights that is dedicated to ending conversion therapy, worked with Instagram and Facebook to create a system to identify content promoting the practice.

Shurka is an LGBT activist who has told legislatures a far-fetched tale that when he attended a weekend retreat with an ex-gay ministry called Journey Into Manhood, “Not everyone walked out alive.” As the National Task Force for Therapy Equality has noted,

Perhaps the most disturbing part of Shurka’s testimony is that no one, not even the press, asked him why he didn’t report the so-called “deaths” that occurred during his experience with Journey Into Manhood. Surely, if a crime, suicide, or homicide had occurred, a police report would have been filed. Yet, these stories continue to be recorded as testimony in front of state legislatures and printed in gay activist media outlets . . .

So Facebook consulted with a political activist on only one side of a controversial issue (one of dubious credibility), and then announced a sweeping new policy of complete censorship without even consulting the other side.

Now, an article posted by Media Matters suggested some organizations they think Facebook should censor under the new policy. To illustrate its point, the article featured some of the social media content these organizations have posted. Ironically, the 17 (!) posts effectively debunk much of what is usually said by those seeking to ban SOCE.

One of them said,

My change has meant I have been able to fulfill my desire to remain with my wife and family . . .

Is this an unworthy goal? Can any sensible person call it “hate speech?”

Another one said,

It is … unethical for therapists to impose their agendas on clients.

One would think that would be a key point of common ground with critics of SOCE. Is it “hate speech?”

Another one said,

This therapy does not attempt to change an individual from being gay to straight, but rather it helps an individual to heal from past hurts and fear.

Again, heavy-handed attempts “to change an individual from being gay to straight” are what the critics are concerned about. This post ought to be reassuring. Does Facebook consider it “hate speech?”

I’ve learned of at least one Christian ministry in the U.S. that has had their entire Facebook page removed as of July 23. It’s called “Healing for the Soul.”

What does Facebook have against “Healing for the Soul?”

More to the point—where’s the “aversion therapy?” The electric shocks? Where’s the coercion—especially of minors? Where are the sweeping guarantees of immediate, total transformation? Where are the licensed mental health providers saying all you have to do is “pray away the gay?” Where’s the “shaming” of people with same-sex attractions? Where are all the horror stories that are regularly trotted out to justify imposing unprecedented legal restrictions upon the goals of private psychotherapy?

Where’s the “homophobia?” Where’s the “hate?”

It seems pretty clear to me that the reason the LGBT activists are concerned about what’s on Facebook is not because people are finding “lies” about “conversion therapy” there—it’s because they are afraid people may find the truth, unfiltered by the distortions of LGBT activists and their lackeys in the “mainstream” media.

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Remembering ISIS’ Yazidi Genocide, Six Years Later

by Arielle Del Turco

August 3, 2020

Six years ago today, ISIS invaded the Sinjar region in northern Iraq, the quiet homeland of the Yazidi people. It only took a few hours for ISIS to seize Sinjar City and kidnap or kill all who were unable to flee in time. Those who did manage to escape ran to Mount Sinjar without food, water, or medical care, with ISIS hot on their heels.

An ancient religious group familiar with being persecuted by their neighbors, Yazidis had lived simple lives in the rural region. But the attacks by ISIS would have long-lasting consequences.

It took U.S. airstrikes to push the ISIS militants back as Kurdish forces made a safe passageway for Yazidis to descend Mount Sinjar later that month. But in the heat well over 100 degrees, hundreds of Yazidis—many of them children and infants—had already died on the mountain despite airdrops with aid from the U.S. and other military forces.

Meanwhile, ISIS attacked Yazidi villages in the surrounding area. Upon capture, the men and women were separated. The men who refused to convert to Islam were rounded up to be shot and killed. Captured women and children often heard the gunfire that killed the men of the village and saw the evidence of mass murder as ISIS fighters returned with their clothes stained by the blood of their husbands, sons, and brothers.

Militants took many of the younger women to be bought and sold as sex slaves. Women too old to enter the slave trade were shot. The region was soon littered with mass graves.

Yazidi children were forcibly converted to Islam. Thousands of boys were forced to become ISIS fighters, tortured and starved in the process. Today, many of these former child soldiers are missing arms or legs lost while fighting for their abductors.

ISIS made no secret of its desire to destroy the religious minority group it called “pagan” through the use of forced conversion, enslavement, and mass killings. The overwhelming evidence of ISIS’ intent to eradicate religious minorities prompted the United States to officially declare the Islamic State attacks on Iraq’s Christians, Yazidis, and other minorities a genocide in 2016.

Thankfully, the terrorists’ genocidal efforts were unsuccessful, and many Yazidis remain to tell the story of their people. Yet, the painful legacy of genocide lingers, and ISIS’ brutal campaign still haunts the survivors.

Today, an estimated 2,800 women and children who were kidnapped by ISIS remain missing. Hundreds of thousands of Yazidis are still displaced, living in camps with minimal resources. As U.S. officials look to develop policy and foreign aid priorities in the Middle East, every feasible effort should be made to help the survivors of genocide.

August 3, 2014 is now remembered as the day ISIS began its genocide against the Yazidi people. Most days dedicated to commemorating genocides remember atrocities that happened decades or centuries ago. This remembrance day is different because the Yazidi genocide happened a mere six years ago. The horror is still within our recent memory, and the survivors are still in need of help.

ISIS is no longer the focus of the American news cycle, but we would be remiss to forget the victims of genocide so quickly, especially those who are still in need of our help. The effects of ISIS linger. As the international community looks to maintain stability in the Middle East, consideration should be given as to how best to aid and restore the religious communities ISIS worked to destroy.

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FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of July 26)

by Family Research Council

July 31, 2020

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

1. Washington Update: “Black Lives Matter Makes Its Marx”

How many Christians plaster “Black Lives Matter” across their social media pages not realizing that they’re supporting a group with radical beliefs? Americans are terrified that if they don’t embrace Black Lives Matter, they’ll be labeled as bigots and racists. The extremists are counting on that fear.

2. Washington Update: “Barr Brawl in the House”

House Democrats have been itching to get Attorney General William Barr on the stand for more than a year. But when that wish came true, the Left blew it as they raged, interrupted, and mocked their way through five hours of the hearing.

3. Blog: “Hope in Nebraska: Nebraska Pushes Towards Banning Dismemberment Abortions”

Recently, Nebraska’s state senators successfully brought a bill prohibiting dismemberment abortions to the legislature for debate and a vote. The author of the bill, State Senator Suzanne Geist, believes most Nebraskans will agree with the bill once they learn the horrors of dismemberment abortions.

4. Blog: “Lessons in Perseverance from the Life of William Wilberforce”

The abolition of slavery. Women’s suffrage. Civil rights for black Americans. These reforms came about through years of dedicated efforts from people who refused to quit. As we fight to protect life, family, and religious freedom, we can look to the life of William Wilberforce as inspiration, a man dedicated to the abolition of slavery in the British Empire.

5. Washington Watch: Dr. Teryn Clarke worries that a political agenda is covering up the truth about the coronavirus

Dr. Teryn Clarke, one of the doctors who participated in Monday’s Tea Party Patriots news conference, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the Facebook, Google/YouTube, and Twitter censorship of the viral video.

6. Washington Watch: Sec. Chad Wolf insists that peaceful protestors don’t commit violent crimes

Chad Wolf, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the federal response to the riots in Portland and other cities, and on protestors showing up outside his home.

7. Washington Watch: Andy McCarthy insists the ACLU’s case against federal troops in Portland is as flimsy as it gets

Andy McCarthy, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and Senior Fellow at the National Review Institute, joined Sarah Perry to discuss a federal judge issuing a restraining order against federal agents tasked with protecting a federal courthouse in Portland from violent rioters.

For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.com, our Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad. Check out “The 7” at the end of every week to get our highlights of the week’s trending items. Have a great weekend!

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