FRC Blog

Virginia Is Trying to Make Abortion Less Safe and Keep Women in the Dark

by Blake Elliott

February 6, 2020

The Virginia General Assembly is considering legislation to expand abortion access and repeal life-saving pro-life laws. Radical pro-abortion legislators have been advocating for expanded access to abortion in the fear that Roe v. Wade will soon be overturned. After pro-abortion Democrats gained control of the Virginia General Assembly, they wasted little time in targeting the state’s pro-life laws.

On January 28, 2020, Virginia’s House of Delegates passed House Bill 980, a bill which expands the list of medical professionals who can commit abortions during the first trimester to include physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and certified midwives. This bill also removes the 24-hour waiting period requirement, a requirement that women seeking abortions be given an opportunity to view an ultrasound, and a requirement that medically accurate information regarding the procedure be provided to the woman seeking an abortion.

Not to be outdone by the Virginia House of Delegates last week, the Virginia State Senate passed a companion bill, Senate Bill 733. State Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) described the urgency of passing these bills by arguing that existing pro-life laws somehow inhibit women from controlling their bodies and easily ending the baby’s life.

The sad reality is that these bills will do more than expand abortion—they will actually make the procedure even more dangerous. By eliminating the ultrasound requirement, abortions will become more unsafe by removing the crucial step of allowing the physician to clearly see the unborn child in the womb. Furthermore, repealing the requirement that the woman be given medically accurate information opens the door to women being denied critical information about their pregnancies.

In addition, the dangers that come with these bills allowing physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and certified midwives the ability to commit abortions that they have not been trained to do cannot be ignored. One would think that the Democratic party, who claims to be “pro-woman” and is promoting these bills in the name of “women’s health,” would want certified physicians with training to be the ones committing the abortion, but that is not the case. Instead, they treat abortion as if it were a minor procedure. State Senator Stephen Newman (R-Bedford) emphasized this when he pointed out how “there is no other procedure we deal with that ends the life of another person.” It is crucial that we remember that these procedures don’t just simply kill the baby—they can also be dangerous for the woman.

For pro-lifers, these bills amount to an egregious effort to repeal major pro-life laws on the books in Virginia which have saved countless lives. Delegate Margaret Ransone (R-Westmoreland) gave a powerful testimony in the House as she described the need for these pro-life laws and the dangers of repealing them. She pointed out that no matter what the circumstance is around the pregnancy, a woman seeking abortion deserves information about what will happen during an abortion. Abortions are incredibly traumatic procedures, and women deserve to be given access to as much information as possible about them.

Delegate Ransone described one abortion provider’s description of a chemical abortion, which read similarly to Planned Parenthood’s website. Planned Parenthood describes chemical abortions and how the woman will cramp and bleed tremendously and release “large clumps of tissue.” Not surprisingly, they fail to mention that these large clumps of tissue are actually the unborn child. Wouldn’t one think that a woman would want to be fully informed about a chemical abortion (which is in reality an in-home, do-it-yourself abortion) and the trauma that will come with it? Delegate Kathy Byron (R-Bedford) described House Bill 980 as being “so lax, so casual, that anyone, at any time, almost anywhere can have an abortion performed by just about anybody.” If pro-abortion Democrats in the Virginia General Assembly cared about “reproductive health,” then why do they support deregulating an industry that has hurt women?

Only one Democrat, Delegate Patrick Hope (D-Arlington), spoke on the House floor in favor of House Bill 980. Delegate Hope said that the issue was personal for him because he has three daughters, and he wants his daughters to be able to make their own reproductive health decisions—without all the information necessary to make that decision, apparently. He demanded that his colleagues support this legislation to roll back “medically unnecessary” restrictions on their health care. Delegate Hope apparently believes allowing women access to medical information regarding an abortion somehow “restricts” their health care. What was missing from his comments was any sort of awareness that his daughters, and women in Virginia, will not be able to make the best decision for themselves if they are not given the best possible information.

It is incredibly sad that the Virginia General Assembly decided to pass HB 980 and SB 733. Pro-abortion Democrats value the bottom line of the abortion industry over women’s health. Denying women the ability to access information regarding abortion doesn’t advance women’s health, it hurts it—and it will inevitably lead to more aborted children. It is important that Virginians wake up and see what is happening in their state. Democrats are doing the bidding of the abortion industry, which is further cheapening life and keeping women in the dark.

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A Hidden Life Is an Unparalleled Depiction of Christian Discipleship

by Daniel Hart

February 4, 2020

Are we merely admirers of Christ, or are we followers?

For all Christians, this profound question should shake us to our core. It’s a question that runs through the heart of A Hidden Life, a powerful new film from acclaimed filmmaker Terrence Malick, who wrote and directed the three-hour epic that explores the calling and consequences of true Christian discipleship.

A Simple Life Shattered by War

A Hidden Life is based on the true story of an Austrian farmer named Franz Jägerstätter, a devout Catholic and conscientious objector martyred by the Nazis, who lived with his wife Fani and their three daughters in a small village in the mountains during World War II.

The movie begins by showing parts of an old Nazi propaganda film of Adolf Hitler touring a town in Germany and the adulation he receives from the people. In stark contrast, the film then envelopes its audience into the majestic beauty of rural Austria, where Franz and his family live an idyllic life as humble farmers. Scenes of hard farm work mixed with the simple joys of recreation with family early in the film establish the fact that Franz, Fani, and their girls are living a peaceful, happy, and fulfilled life. Other scenes of genuine comradery between Franz’s family and the other townspeople demonstrate that they are well-respected and even loved by the village.

It is in these opening scenes that the unique filmmaking style of director Terrence Malick becomes apparent. As in his past films, most of the scenes in A Hidden Life are presented as a kind of vignette, often with minimal dialogue. Sometimes, the dialogue is muted intentionally, with music or even a voice over being what you hear. Frequently, Malick will intersperse scenes with gorgeously rendered shots of nature—the mountains, fields of grain waving in the wind, a waterfall cascading down into mist. For the uninitiated viewer, this style can be a bit disorienting at first, but the film has a way of drawing the audience into its world after the first few minutes. One reviewer of A Hidden Life aptly described it as “a movie you enter, like a cathedral of the senses.”

Soon, the ominous sounds of Nazi airplanes flying high above the village convey a distinct sense that the simple lives of the farmers and townspeople will never be the same. Sure enough, Franz is conscripted into the German army, and at first he willingly complies with their demands that he complete basic training. After months away from his family, he is allowed to return home, but the possibility of Franz being called back into full duty as the war drags on hangs over him and his wife. From this point on, the central conflict that Franz faces becomes the focus of the film—he knows that he will be required to pledge an oath of loyalty to Hitler once he is called back up to service.

A Heroic Act of Conscience

As Franz seeks counsel from his parish priest on what to do, it is clear that many churchmen of the time could not muster the courage to make the principled stand that Franz is attempting to make. “We’re killing innocent people, raiding other countries, preying on the weak,” Franz pleads with his priest, asking for guidance. Instead of answering, the priest defers and directs Franz to ask his bishop for direction. When Franz is able to get an audience with the bishop, he asks him pointedly, “If our leaders—if they are evil, what does one do?” The bishop’s response clearly breaks Franz’s heart: “You have a duty to the fatherland. The Church tells you so.”

After this, Franz and Fani try to go about their normal life, but they are clearly mourning what they know is likely to come: Franz’s imprisonment and execution for his conscientious objection. Through extended scenes of the couple lying together in the countryside, sitting in their bedroom, or doing farm chores, it is clear that an internal battle is raging inside of them as they contemplate the consequences of the unthinkable—to forever lose their tranquil and joyful life together for the sake of sacrificing his life for the gospel.

As if this weren’t enough, Franz and his family begin to experience ridicule from their fellow townspeople. It seems that Franz is the only man in his village to publicly and openly question the Nazi war effort, which is clearly too much to bear for their guilty consciences. The town mayor, a close friend of Franz’s at the outset of the film, eventually ends up denouncing him: “You cannot say no to your race and your home. You are a traitor!” Franz and his family are publicly insulted, spat upon, and even physically threatened at various points in the film.

Despite the almost unimaginable pressure that Franz faces from his church, his peers, and even his own family (from his mother-in-law and sister-in-law) to give in the Nazi’s demands, he refuses to take the oath to Hitler after his inevitable call-up to military service.

Once Franz is imprisoned, we begin to find out more about what is going on in his soul. In a series of interrogations by the Nazis and during interviews with his court-appointed defense attorney, Franz is challenged over and over again to give in. “You think your defiance will change the course of things?” “Words! [referring to the oath to Hitler] No one takes that sort of thing seriously.” Franz’s responses are simple and direct, but somehow their simplicity makes his motivations crystal clear: “I have that feeling inside me, that I can’t do what I believe is wrong. That’s all.” “If God gives us free will, we are responsible for what we do, what we fail to do.”

What will never be simple, though, is the toll that Franz’s sacrifice takes on his wife Fani and their daughters, which is illustrated through numerous scenes of toil and heartbreak as she undertakes difficult farm work and tucks their children into bed without him. Even still, the fortitude that Fani exhibits is every bit as heroic as Franz’s. Toward the end of the film, she is allowed to see Franz one last time in prison. In an almost unbearably emotional scene, Fani displays the epitome of spiritual union with her husband as she assures him of her solidarity even if his decision means death: “Whatever you do, I’m with you, always.”

As A Hidden Life draws to a close, it is clear that Franz’s experience of imprisonment, interrogation, physical abuse at the hands of the prison guards, and the mental anguish of his impending death has molded him into a Christ-like figure. When a Nazi major promises him that he will be free if he signs a paper oath to Hitler, Franz responds, “I am already free.” In one scene, he gives his tiny ration of bread to a fellow starving prisoner, who stares at him disbelievingly. In one of the most subtle yet surprisingly touching moments of the film, he carefully replaces an umbrella he had accidentally knocked over back to its original position. These actions show that he has indeed become a truly free man, unencumbered by worldly concerns, whose only goal is to do good with the little time he has left on earth.

An Unparalleled Depiction of Christian Discipleship

From a Christian perspective, watching A Hidden Life is an unparalleled film experience. In the words of one reviewer, it is arguably “the best evocation of the Gospel ever committed to film.” The deliberate, reverential style in which it is acted, filmed, and edited allows the viewer to truly immerse themselves into and contemplate the deep mysteries of some of the biggest questions that frame the nature of discipleship in Christ. How far must we go to become a true follower of Christ, and how do we reconcile this with our familial obligations? Is there meaning to our suffering for Christ when it causes us such indescribable pain? Does standing for the gospel really matter if no one seems to notice? Why does God seem to hide Himself from those who most desperately need Him?

The most pointed question this film asks of its audience is one that remains extremely pertinent in our own time, in which Christians remain the most persecuted religious group on earth. The question is this: When we are faced with the wrath of the world for our faith, will we shrink and make excuses, or will we stand for truth, no matter the consequences? In the film’s depiction of Franz Jägerstätter, we are a given a true-to-life role model for how to accomplish heroic virtue with grace and serenity.

But perhaps the greatest gift that A Hidden Life gives the viewer is three hours of space—space for reflection and contemplation of these most paramount of questions that probe the deepest mysteries of the faith life. In this age of distraction and anxiety, we desperately need it.

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A Two-Kingdom Perspective: Christianity, Politics, and Eternity

by Zachary Rogers

January 31, 2020

With the 2020 election season underway, it is wise to reflect upon the lessons learned from the 2016 election. After President Trump’s election, thousands of progressive voters admitted they were emotionally devastated. This phenomenon has been described as “post-election stress disorder,” and it apparently impacted numerous people.

This exaggerated reaction points toward a temptation to replace Christian principles with a progressive ideology that attempts to “immanentize the eschaton,” or create a heaven on earth, and to react in extreme ways when these efforts fail.

The Christian worldview offers an alternative perspective from the crushing angst, fear, and anger that frames much of our political discourse. Christianity calls people to fulfill their duties to God and their fellow man with the appropriate level of concern based on their understanding of the world, sin, the sovereignty of God, and the end of history. Christians understand that they are to be in the world but not of the world (John 17:14–19).

The Christian worldview includes four basic components:

  1. An understanding that God created the universe and mankind.
  2. Man chose to try to become like God, resulting in sin and the Fall.
  3. Christ died on the cross to redeem us from our sins and rose again to conquer death.
  4. Christ will return in glory to judge the living and the dead and restore all things.

These theological commitments comprise the Christian worldview and influence how Christians see and engage with the world.

A high view of God and the gospel will inevitably affect one’s approach to politics. Christians, for instance, should be mindful of the tongue and strive to engage rationally, clearly, and without lying. While politics is important, only a few things are of eternal significance. For example, the souls of our fellow citizens, both Republicans and Democrats, are of eternal significance. The truth and sound policy must be pursued in a manner that will not destroy our Christian witness.

Christians should support good policies that align with biblical values. Unfortunately, many politicians are guided by an ungodly fear of man. Even Christian leaders are often tempted to take the easy way out. However, politics often requires hard decisions that are often unpopular, and every politician, Christian or not, Democrat or Republican, must do his or her duty for the common good in accordance with the structure of the Constitution.

Christians must distinguish the important from the ultimate. The goal of life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. This purpose should guide and direct every area of our lives. The state of our souls and the souls of our family and friends must be our chief concern. Jesus himself said that the second greatest commandment was to love “your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). The stability and order that is afforded the Christian by having a clear understanding of the purpose of life and the standards for good living provided by God in the Scriptures allow him to clearly see that love of neighbor ought to guide Christian political engagement.

God gave man reason and a knowledge of what is required for human flourishing through the natural law: limited government, the rule of law, the necessity to work in order to provide for our families and those in need, and the right to religious liberty.

On many issues, the platforms, policy positions, and rhetoric of the two major political parties in America represent radically different visions for human flourishing. While neither party is perfect, it is clear that one party values the sanctity of marriage, the life of the unborn, and an understanding of gender as divinely created while the other does not.

Christians in America should be actively engaged in politics while recognizing that our ultimate hope is in heaven. Christians, and especially Christian leaders and pastors, must approach politics from a Christian worldview and make sure our engagement honors the Lord and follows principles outlined in His Word. In this way, we can shape government so that it in turn shapes the environment in which we raise our children and live our lives to the glory of God.

In a nutshell, Christians must have a two-kingdom perspective: we must do the will of God in every aspect of life, including politics, so that we can live with Him forever in the next.

Zachary Rogers is a graduate of Hillsdale College and is a former intern of FRC, the Kirby Center, and the Claremont Institute. He is currently working in education in Northern Virginia.

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Fetal Dignity Laws: Respecting the Life That Was Lost

by Blake Elliott

January 29, 2020

There is an urgent need in the United States to institute laws that protect fetal remains in order to protect the dignity of unborn children. This should not be a controversial issue. Yet abortion suppliers such as Planned Parenthood oppose efforts to protect fetal dignity because it would impact their money-making fetal body parts trade.

Abortions, miscarriages, and stillbirths are tragic in their own right, but it is also a tragedy that abortion suppliers are able to sell or dispose of the fetal remains like a piece of trash in certain states while making a profit off of the fetal remains in others. This state of affairs has undoubtedly contributed to an environment where people like Dr. Kermit Gosnell stored fetuses in bags and bottles throughout his office or the disturbing case of the deceased Dr. Ulrich Klopfer, who had 2,246 fetal remains stored in a garage at his home.

In response, FRC has compiled a fetal dignity map which highlights each state’s fetal dignity laws, allowing individuals throughout the country to see just how much work needs to be done in their state in order to respect fetal remains.

Pennsylvania’s House Bill 1890 is a prime example of a fetal dignity bill that should be supported by all, but pro-abortion politicians still find a way to oppose it. This bill requires abortionists to cremate or bury the remains of babies they abort, unless the mother decides they want the remains buried in a place other than the customary health care provider’s location. In this case, the mother would be responsible for the burial or cremation and the cost associated with it. This bill offers a humane response to aborted fetal remains by requiring the burial or cremation of the remains instead of allowing them to be sold, harvested, or used for research.

However, state representatives such as Mary Isaacson, a Democrat representing Philadelphia, oppose this bill by claiming it “harasses abortion providers.” It is evident that Democrats are more concerned with the ability of abortion suppliers to make a profit than they are with women’s health care and the life that was lost.

There is a solid case for Republicans to make in support of fetal dignity laws. For one, the fetal remains would not be allowed to be sold for profit by abortion facilities to make money and continue to grow their business and would instead be required to be buried with dignity.

It also allows for families to grieve properly through the devastation that comes with losing a child to miscarriage. FRC’s Katherine Johnson put it perfectly in her latest analysis: “Women who have miscarriages should be able to receive death certificates that provide validation and dignity to the loss of their children.” Women receiving a death certificate after a miscarriage is an aspect that is often forgotten when discussing fetal dignity laws. It is important that states acknowledge that when a miscarriage happens, a woman and her family has indeed lost a child. Perhaps because of this, not all Democrats are against fetal dignity laws. In fact, 15 Democratic Pennsylvania representatives joined Republicans in supporting the recent PA HB 1890. In a polarized political environment like the one that exists now, this points towards how sensible these fetal dignity laws are. This recent bill is a positive step in the right direction in ensuring that all fetal remains are treated with the respect that every person deserves.

Every deceased human deserves to be treated with respect, including unborn children who unfortunately never had the opportunity to take their first breath. It is truly saddening that abortion suppliers like Planned Parenthood can get away with claiming to help women when in reality they are using women and their babies to make a profit. There is no reason that abortion suppliers should be allowed to dispose of fetal remains like normal people dispose of their trash.

Hopefully, states will follow the Pennsylvania legislature’s lead to ensure that all fetal remains are treated with dignity and all families are given this right to properly bury or cremate their child. Make sure to check out our new fetal dignity map to see if your state protects the dignity of all fetal remains.

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For Every Christian, Being Pro-Life Must Become a Way of Life

by Adelaide Holmes

January 27, 2020

Many Christians today are missing from the fight to end abortion, and the pro-life movement needs their help.

Instead of joining the political or cultural efforts to fight abortion, many pro-life Christians leave the work for the pro-life leaders in these arenas. There are two primary fronts in the battle, and Christians are needed in both. Abortion will continue to be legal and culturally acceptable as long as Christians fail to do their part and leave the bulk of the work to larger, interest-based organizations. 

There are many pro-life organizations in D.C. and around the country that are dedicated to making abortion illegal and socially unacceptable. Family Research Council, as well as other pro-life political action groups such as Susan B. Anthony List, National Right to Life Committee, and Americans United for Life are effective and passionate about changing the political landscape.  

But this won’t be enough to end legal abortion in America.

While the political fight is crucially important to ensuring justice for the preborn, there’s work to be done in the culture as well. Countless groups exist with this focus. Life Training Institute and Equal Rights Institute have top-notch speakers and apologists who train pro-lifers all over the country in conversational apologetics. National groups like Students for Life of America or state groups like Protect Life Michigan exist to equip high school and college pro-life clubs to host effective outreach and start dialogues with young minds who might be open to the pro-life argument. And groups like Live Action and The Radiance Foundation educate the public through digital media on the reality of what abortion does to its victims. 

But this still isn’t enough to make abortion culturally appalling.   

Sixty-two percent of Americans between the ages of 18-29 still identify as pro-choice. About one million abortions are committed every year. It’s not for a lack of groups dedicated to bringing a legal end to abortion. It’s not for a lack of organizations devoted to informing the culture about the inhumane injustice of abortion. The problem is that too many Christians are leaving them all the work. If more Christians don’t join in the fight, we won’t see an end to this injustice. 

Pursuing justice for the unborn is not simply a job for special interest groups. Pursuing justice is a duty that God has placed on all of us as Christians. The prophet Micah reminds us that acting justly is a requirement of God for mankind. Micah 6:8 says, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Not only that, but we are commanded to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).

The unborn are our youngest and most vulnerable neighbors. Christians have a God-given duty to love their neighbor and to act justly by them. We cannot ignore this duty by leaving the work of advocating for the unborn to pro-life organizations. We must join them in the fight, and we can do this by simply living out our faith.  

Christians need to start acting like being pro-life is more than a check you write in the mail to your favorite organization or more than a vote for the pro-life candidate. Being truly pro-life must be a way of life. Not everyone’s contribution will look the same, but abortion won’t become illegal, much less unthinkable, until every Christian starts loving their preborn neighbor in practical ways.

Here are several possibilities:

  • Offering sidewalk counseling at abortion facilities
  • Praying in front of abortion facilities
  • Contacting your representatives and senators
  • Signing and circulating pro-life petitions
  • Volunteering your time and resources to help pregnancy care centers
  • Consider opening your home up to pregnant women who need support
  • Consider adopting a baby in need
  • Marching for life in D.C.
  • Reading a pro-life apologetics book and learning to articulate why you’re pro-life
  • Sharing that training with your fellow church members, friends at school, or your own family
  • Sharing why you believe the preborn are valuable human persons with someone who disagrees with you

These are some of the ways we can love our preborn neighbor and seek justice on their behalf. Until every Christian starts to live out his call to love his preborn neighbor, the political and cultural pro-life organizations won’t be enough to turn the tide on abortion. They can’t do it on their own. They need our help.

Pastors and churches play a central role in this mission. We need pastors to teach on how every human being, regardless of size, is made in the image of God. We need youth groups to host apologetics trainings and do outreach in the community. We need churches to equip their congregation to dialogue with their pro-choice friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers.

It’s time for every pro-lifer to be the hands and feet of Jesus. It’s time for all of us to love the preborn as we love ourselves. It’s time for us to defend and protect the rights of these tiny humans the way that we would want our rights defended. It’s time that we become willing to love them as we would our own children. Until we do, there won’t be lasting change toward a culture of life in America. 

Adelaide Holmes is an intern for Life, Culture, and Women’s Advocacy at Family Research Council.

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The Plea

by Judy Lamberson Smith

January 22, 2020

*Editor’s note: This poem was written by Judy Lamberson Smith of Lakeland, Florida. It is reprinted here with permission.

All I want is a chance
To see what I might become.
To run barefoot in the grass
Feeling the warmth of the sun.

All I want is a chance
To learn to read and write,
Gaze at a starry sky,
And try to fly a kite.

All I want is a chance
To see how tall I will grow,
Pet a pup, pick a flower,
Play in newly fallen snow.

All I want is a chance
To see how far I can go in school,
Make friends, sing a song,
And learn the Golden Rule.

But I didn’t get that chance.
It all ended one day.
Don’t know why or how,
PAIN
And then I went away.

You see, I died before I was born.
Did anybody cry for me or mourn?
There were so many things to see and do.
Above all…
To know your love,
And to show my love for you.

All I wanted was a chance!

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California’s Newsom Prioritizes Animal’s Lives Over Babies

by Blake Elliott

January 17, 2020

CC Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr, cropped

Recently, The Sacramento Bee reported that California Governor Gavin Newsom has announced his plan to end animal euthanasia in California, making California a “no-kill state.” The governor’s plan calls for the allocation of $50 million dollars to “achieve the state’s policy goal that no adoptable or treatable dog or cat should be euthanized.”

While ending the practice of euthanizing unwanted or stray animals is indeed a laudable goal, for pro-lifers the hypocrisy of Governor Newsom is hard to miss. While claiming California will become a “no-kill” state for stray or unwanted dogs and cats, Governor Newsom has done nothing to alleviate the elimination of the most innocent and vulnerable Californians: the unborn.

Governor Newsom campaigned on legislation to convert student health clinics on California public university campuses into dispensaries for chemical abortion drugs. The legislature obliged, and he signed into law California Senate Bill 24. This legislation will only add to the tragically high number of abortions in the state. Last year, there were 132,680 abortions in California alone, according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute. Rather than being concerned with human life, Governor Newsom is more concerned with expanding abortion rights.

California is undoubtedly one of the more progressive states when it comes to the abortion issue. In fact, there are virtually no restrictions on abortions in California. The state currently adheres to a “viability” standard (the point at which it is generally understood a child can survive outside of the womb with or without the assistance of life support systems) which allows limitless abortion prior to a physician deeming a child in the womb is “viable.” After viability, the state restricts abortion to those instances in which a woman’s life or “health” are threatened. This “health” exception is vague and undefined in state law. In fact, courts have determined that “health” can mean anything. It can mean “familial,” “emotional,” or “mental” health. For all intents and purposes, it means a woman can obtain an abortion up to birth in California.

Newsom has openly boasted about how few restrictions there are on abortion in his state. He even boasted about how proud he was of his state for expanding access and “removing barriers to reproductive health,” as if there were extreme barriers in place to begin with. Newsom makes it no secret that he is pro-abortion and is proud that California leads the United States in the number of abortions performed per year. In May of 2019, he even invited women from across the country and globe to come to California to have their abortion procedure.

Governor Newsom’s hypocrisy continues to be evident as he wants to spend $50 million dollars on an initiative to protect animals while also advocating for and promoting the destruction of the most defenseless and delicate humans in his state: unborn children. Governor Newsom even doubled the investment into reproductive health in his most recent budget proposal, hitting a record $100 million dollars of matching federal funding, which according to Newsom will provide millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.

Newsom is a prime example of just how blind the pro-abortion Left is to the simple logic of the pro-life movement. If Newsom doesn’t see the hypocrisy of his support for eliminating animal euthanasia while also expanding abortion rights, then it makes you wonder just how far the pro-abortion Left can go in furthering their radical ideas while turning a blind eye to the atrocity of abortion that is happening right in front of them.

Since 2000, 3,429,978 babies have lost their lives in abortion facilities in California. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that while California might soon become the newest “no-kill state,” they continue to cement themselves as a “kill-state” of unborn children.

Blake Elliott is a Government Affairs intern at Family Research Council.

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Religious Minorities in China Are Losing a Deadly Game of Hide and Seek

by Samuel Lillemo

January 16, 2020

Open Doors released its 2020 World Watch List report yesterday, highlighting the fact that the most populated country in the world has now become a surveillance state, and this widespread invasion of privacy is being used to persecute Christians and other religious minorities in China.

The report details the massive expansion of a facial recognition software used to track people’s movements. Independent reporters also released an article describing the systematic monitoring of social media by police forces, often resulting in raids and spontaneous interrogations of students and public servants. The implications of such developments, however, cut more deeply than merely having a Beijing helicopter parent.

A systematic ethnic cleansing campaign, mounted by the communist party against ethno-religious groups it feels threaten “national unity,” has brought many vulnerable minorities (Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, other Muslim minority groups, and practitioners of Falun Gong) into the crosshairs of one of the 21st century’s most brutal regimes. The expansion of technological tracking makes the Chinese authorities nearly inescapable. Robbed of their ability to hide, and with both ancestral ties and economic needs tying them to the region, China’s minorities now have little recourse but to brace for the onslaught of state-sponsored deprogramming.

Recent revelations of living conditions for ethnic and religious minorities under China’s current communist regime, especially for Uyghurs, suggest that, for some, death may be preferable to what they endure. Either violently abducted or coerced by threats against family members, individuals born into these groups are often forced into vehicles and taken to what the Chinese government cheerfully calls “re-education camps.”

Sayragul Sauytbay (pronounced Say-ra-gul Saut-bye) was a prisoner in one of the camps who managed to escape to Sweden. Her testimony was summarized in an article in The Week:

Twenty prisoners live in one small room. They are handcuffed, their heads are shaved, every move is monitored by ceiling cameras. A bucket in the corner of the room is their toilet. The daily routine begins at 6 a.m. They are learning Chinese, memorizing propaganda songs, and confessing to invented sins. They range in age from teenagers to elderly. Their meals are meager: cloudy soup and a slice of bread. Torture — metal nails, fingernails pulled out, electric shocks — takes place in the “black room.” Punishment is a constant… [t]hey are the human subjects of medical experiments… Women are routinely raped.

While Sayragul’s experience hopefully represents only the extreme of camp brutality, Sophie Richardson, the China director at Human Rights Watch, explains, “I think it’s fair to describe everyone being detained as being subject at least to psychological torture, because they literally don’t know how long they’re going to be there.” Such is not merely the fate of a few thousand dissidents or “terrorists,” as the communist government of China has grown fond of calling them. Scholars estimate that at least 1 million people have been kidnapped into brutal conditions after the communist Chinese regime felt threatened by their religious beliefs. 

To comprehend the magnitude of these internments, briefly consider that the U.S. population in 2015 included 1.1 million medical doctors. Now imagine every physician across the nation being rounded up and sent into prison camps, and you have an idea of the raw scale of China’s program. In the name of “fighting terrorism,” the current Chinese regime has abandoned the role of guardian and become a tormentor of its own people.

Governments, by nature of their authority and scale, have the unique ability to create an organized system of protections for their people. This same power corrupted, however, allows a regime to coordinate its hulking machinery for large-scale atrocities against truly helpless citizens. The evil we confront today is not simply the lawless violence of sectarian warfare across the plains of Kenya and Nigeria, but also technologically advanced regimes like China that have become factories of human suffering, churning out organized misery upon those proclaiming religious faith.

Religious Freedom Day, recognized on January 16, marks the 234th anniversary of the passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, wherein Thomas Jefferson took up a cry that was soon after echoed by every other American state: “No man shall… suffer, on account of his religious opinions or beliefs.” In a masterful brushstroke, Jefferson lead the Founding Fathers in establishing the absolute necessity of equal rights for all people under the state, regardless of their faith tradition.

This protection embodies one of the foundational virtues of the Western democratic tradition, but is far from the norm for people of faith across the world. As the U.S. celebrates its fundamental commitment to religious liberty, we must work harder than ever to raise awareness that the need for freedom of conscience still exists in the world.

Don’t miss our Speaker Series event today at 12 p.m. as we host Jewher Ilham, the daughter of a Uyghur scholar and social advocate who is tirelessly working for her father’s release from China’s prisons.

Samuel Lillemo is a Policy/Government Affairs intern at Family Research Council.

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Texas Pardons a Sex Trafficking Survivor, Freeing Her to Help Other Survivors

by Patrina Mosley

January 14, 2020

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. In light of this observance, Governor Abbott recently pardoned Robbie Ann Hamilton, a survivor of sex trafficking, with a unanimous vote from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. By this action, Texas has shown that they believe not only in swift justice but also merciful redemption.

Victims of sex trafficking are accustomed to drugs and violence and are often forced to commit crimes while under the control and manipulation of a trafficker. Hamilton was 15 years old when she was lured into sex trafficking and a life of petty crime.

Pardoning victims of sex trafficking is a big deal because a criminal record makes it challenging to escape a life of exploitation and start a new life. Victims with a criminal record will often stay with their exploiter or be led back into exploitation just so they can have the necessities of life (a roof over their head, clothes, food, etc.).

Hamilton found sobriety. Even better, she found God. She was baptized in jail and spent time getting to know Jesus and the Bible. She was sponsored for pardon by the 12 Step Program. Now, Hamilton speaks on the sex trafficking industry’s dangers and addictions and is a member of a church that helps people who were just like her. Staff from the program she completed, called “New Friends New Life,” have testified that she didn’t just “find religion” in jail but “continues to help guide adolescent girls to make decisions based on Biblical principles and to avoid the pitfalls of drugs and sex.” Natalie Nanasi, Assistant Professor and the Director of the Legal Center for Victims of Crimes Against Women at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law, states, “Hamilton has been a model member of society and has worked tirelessly to help other women.” Eight letters of support were submitted on Hamilton’s behalf to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

It is good to see our justice system working to view survivors of sexual exploitation as victims and not merely criminals, as it should. We need more Christian-based programs that rescue, advocate for, re-educate, and restore those harmed by sexual exploitation. The story of Robbie Ann Hamilton exemplifies what victims of sexual exploitation need—to become recipients of practical alleviations—so that they can be given the opportunity to help other victims “value human dignity [by] applying a biblical sexual ethic, inspiring women to see themselves as made in the image of God—with strength, worth, and dignity.”

Thank you, Gov. Abbott.

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What’s Wrong With American Boys?

by Daniel Hart

January 14, 2020

Why are adolescent boys and college-aged young men in America still so boorish and misogynistic?

Peggy Orenstein, a writer for The Atlantic, wrestles with this question in a recent feature-length article entitled “The Miseducation of the American Boy.” To her credit, she compassionately attempts to understand what is really going on in the souls of typical boys and young men in the wasteland of contemporary American secular culture by personally interviewing them.

What she finds is both intriguing and disturbing, but not very surprising. Most of the boys she talked to struggled with leading a kind of double life—on the one hand, they “could talk to girls platonically,” as a high school senior named “Cole” said (she uses pseudonyms to protect their identities). But then he admitted that “being around guys was different. I needed to be a ‘bro…’” Most of the other boys Orenstein interviews had similar views about the expectations their peers placed on them and the crushing pressure to conform to a hypersexual, misogynistic “bro” subculture.

So how did we get here? Orenstein admits that there seems to be a “void” in parental guidance of boys: “Today many parents are unsure of how to raise a boy, what sort of masculinity to encourage in their sons. But as I learned from talking with boys themselves, the culture of adolescence, which fuses hyperrationality with domination, sexual conquest, and a glorification of male violence, fills the void.”

It’s clear that Orenstein wants to find solutions for this problem. She prefaces her article by stating that “we need to give [boys] new and better models of masculinity.”

What are these “new and better models”? Unfortunately, Orenstein never really proposes any kind of coherent standard to which boys should strive for. After spending almost 7,500 words extensively quoting their frustrations, fears, and longings and cataloguing dozens of misadventures of boys hooking up awkwardly with female students, bragging about sexual escapades, laughing at rape jokes, and so on, she musters two paragraphs at the end of her article that offer some kind of path forward. She says that we need “models of manhood that are neither ashamed nor regressive, and that emphasize emotional flexibility—a hallmark of mental health.” She also challenges authority figures to step up: “Real change will require a sustained, collective effort on the part of fathers, mothers, teachers, coaches.” Her last tidbit of advice is this: “We have to purposefully and repeatedly broaden the masculine repertoire for dealing with disappointment, anger, desire. We have to say not just what we don’t want from boys but what we do want from them.”

Belief Systems Create Gentlemen

This is certainly all good advice. But what is striking about Orenstein’s guidance is what she does not say. It begs the question: what exactly do we want from boys? It’s all well and good to promote emotional flexibility and mental health, but if the goal is for boys to unlearn misogyny and start respecting girls more, as Orenstein and all people of good faith so desperately want, isn’t it going to take more than “emotional flexibility”?

The answer is unquestionably “yes.” Having respect for girls and women is an essential aspect of moral conduct that all boys and men should have, but obviously do not. That’s because it has to be taught and learned, just as all moral behavior must be, through a system of values, which must ultimately be derived from faith in a revealed moral order. In our politically correct culture, writers like Peggy Orenstein can’t seem to state this obvious fact, probably because they don’t want to be accused of promoting “religion.” It’s notable that the words “religion” and “faith” never appear once in Orenstein’s entire article.

It’s a sad but telling reality that in a culture still fully in the throes of grappling with the #MeToo movement and one in which boys are still so clearly gripped by a culture of sexual conquest, so many secular writers still can’t bring themselves to admit that certain belief systems have the antidote for misogyny built into them. As I have written previously:

[W]hat if more boys were taught from an early age that the context for the full expression of human sexuality is within the bonds of marriage between one man and one woman, as Christianity and other religions do? If this teaching were to be taught consistently throughout childhood and young adulthood, it would substantially increase the amount of gentlemen in our culture. Gentlemen treat women with respect, the kind of respect that inherently knows how to avoid looking at women with lust (see Matthew 5:27-28), the kind of respect that would never even consider making unseemly sexual comments in their company, much less harassing or assaulting them.

Since Orenstein never proposes a belief system with moral principles as an answer to counter misogyny, it appears that she along with most secular commentators are merely hoping that boys will somehow magically absorb sexual morality and respect for women from… friends who happen to have good values? Their parents who happen to be good people? Orenstein never says. She does at one point ask her main interview subject, a high school senior named “Cole,” why he doesn’t assert his “values” more with his peers. But what she never bothers to ask him is where he got his values from.

The Crucial Mentorship of Fathers

Who is it that should be the primary instiller of values in children? This most basic of questions is unfortunately passed over by Orenstein. The vital importance of a father in a boy’s healthy development into a gentleman is the elephant in the room that seems to escape the notice of many secular writers like her.

But perhaps Orenstein can’t be entirely at fault for this. As her article illustrates, the boys that she interviews don’t seem to think much of their fathers. “Cole” briefly describes his father as “a nice guy,” but he went on to say that “I can’t be myself around him. I feel like I need to keep everything that’s in here [tapping his chest] behind a wall, where he can’t see it.” Another 18-year-old named “Rob” described how his father merely told him to “man up” when he was having problems in school. “That’s why I never talk to anybody about my problems,” he said. Another young man, a college sophomore, described how he never felt comfortable talking to his father: “[T]here’s a block there. There’s a hesitation, even though I don’t like to admit that. A hesitation to talk about … anything, really.”

This is heartbreaking stuff. Is it any wonder our boys and young men are so lost and adrift when their primary role model and mentor—their fathers—never make themselves available to their own sons to just talk about life, about growing up to be a man, about anything?

Orenstein’s “The Miseducation of the American Boy” is revealing in a number of ways. Yet again, it reveals that when a belief system based on eternal moral truth is not instilled in boys from a young age, the secular adolescent culture of hypersexual narcissism and misogyny will fill the void. It also reveals that when fathers abandon their fundamental role as the primary mentor and confidant of their sons, their boys will be left emotionally numbed, less empathetic, and more prone to becoming a part of this secular adolescent culture.

Here at Family Research Council, we are doing our part to renew authentic masculinity and to help instill a culture of biblical manhood to stand as a bulwark against the dark cultural forces that promote sexual objectification and conquest, gender confusion, and emasculation. Learn about and consider attending our Stand Courageous men’s conferences, which are making a difference through teaching the principles of authentic manhood as providers, mentors, instructors, defenders, and chaplains.

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