FRC Blog

Remembering 9/11: One New Yorker’s Testimony About the Power of Prayer

by Jennifer Bauwens

September 10, 2021

For many of us who were alive at the time of September 11, 2001, our memories of that day, and the days that followed, are marked by stories of heroism and patriotism but also terrible loss and grief. But there is another theme that has been less publicized, and that is the effect prayer had on 9/11.

It’s hard to estimate the number of people that prayed that day or were moved to pray in the days leading up to the attack. One thing we know, as tragic as 9/11 was, it could’ve been far worse. While no harm or loss of life is acceptable, this attack could’ve resulted in even more widespread devastation. This is because the average number of people working at the World Trade Center in 2001 was roughly 50,000 people. Additionally, the number of daily visitors and tourists were around 140,000. The loss of life that day in New York was significant, at 2,823 people, but still much lower than what was intended by the attacks. 

Through years of living in New York and researching about the psychological impact of 9/11, I’ve had the privilege to hear stories from people who should’ve been at the World Trade Center that day, but “something” happened that caused their plans or routines to change. I’ve heard countless stories, like my friend Tiffany, who invited another friend to breakfast. As a result, her friend wasn’t at the WTC that day.  

One of the clearest stories I’ve heard about the power of prayer started with a dream that one of my friends had in 1998. In the dream, my friend, Julianna, was walking around downtown Manhattan near Trinity Church. As she walked along Trinity Place (street), she entered a 12-story gray building that had two revolving doors at the entrance. She walked into the building and began to shout, with great assurance, “It’s safe!” She then saw a lot of people running and scrambling inside the building and out on the streets. Then a great wave came which looked like a tsunami cascading down the street, but the wave didn’t enter the building. That was the end of the dream.

Later that week, Julianna went to her weekly prayer meeting where she shared the dream. Ada, who attended the prayer group, was also a high school principal. When she heard the dream, she recognized the description and location as characteristic of her school. Both ladies had a sense that God was leading them to pray for the safety of this high school, which was located near the World Trade Center.

For the next three years, Julianna and Ada walked around the school building and prayed for safety. Ada also enlisted some of her students and faculty to pray for safety. Although they never fully understood what they were praying about, they continued to pray.

On the day of September 11, 2001, Julianna was in her home in Brooklyn when she saw the news break about the Twin Towers. She saw the footage of people running and the cloud of smoke behind them. She knew that it was the tsunami wave that she saw in her dream, and she fell to her knees and began to pray for safety.

At the same time, Ada was with other faculty members assisting the students out of the school building. Before completely evacuating the area, one of the teachers went back into the building to make sure no one was left inside. While this teacher was in the building, he noticed that the smoke never entered the lobby. Not only was there no smoke, but Ada’s school did not suffer any damage and there were no broken windows from the attacks. However, the buildings to the right and left of the High School suffered structural damage.

Most importantly, Ada and the faculty were able to bring every student to safety, and no one was harmed. In the end, the dream was completely fulfilled. It truly was “safe” for every person in the school and for the building itself.

As we remember 9/11 and honor our first responders and service members, those who lost their lives and were wounded, and the families who lost loved ones, let’s also not forget that prayer changes things.

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A Profile of Moral Collapse: President Biden, Abortion, and the Culture of Death

by Albert Mohler

September 9, 2021

Almost fifty years after Roe v. Wade, abortion remains the moral issue in American public discourse and politics.

There are very few profiles in courage in American politics. This seems especially true when it comes to the defense of unborn life. The political predicament of a pro-life politician is this – the political class and the New York-Hollywood-Silicon Valley axis reward those who abandon pro-life positions and condemn those who refuse to surrender.

A particularly important profile in moral collapse now resides in the White House. The story of President Joe Biden’s slippery shape-shifting on the abortion issue is both revealing and horrifying.

Brace yourself.

In response to the law in Texas that outlaws abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, the fury of the Democratic Party and its national leadership has reached new levels of apoplexy.

The fury has been predictable given the state of the Democratic Party and its commitment to abortion on demand. On Thursday and Friday of last week, President Joe Biden made comments condemning the law, calling it “un-American” and ambiguously described “whole of government” efforts to oppose the Texas legislation.

The president, however, made another statement that deserves particular attention. For decades, Joe Biden rooted his views on abortion in his constantly repeated identity as a “devout Roman Catholic.” He routinely describes himself as Catholic, and has repeatedly affirmed his agreement with Catholic doctrine affirming the absolute sanctity of unborn human life. The central contradiction of Joe Biden’s public persona is that he has constantly claimed Catholic identity and “persona” [sic] pro-life convictions, while refusing to defend unborn life with any legislative consistency. From the beginning, he has opposed national efforts to reverse Roe v. Wade, which was handed down by the Supreme Court the very year that Joe Biden joined the United States Senate.

This is important – Joe Biden has made clear, more than once, that he personally believes life begins at conception.

Until last Friday, that is, when, in condemning the Texas law, President Biden said: “I respect those who believe that life begins at conception – I respect that. Don’t agree but I respect that.”

With those words, President Biden, the “devout Roman Catholic,” threw the doctrine and teaching of the Roman Catholic Church out the window. Those of us who have been watching the moral collapse of Joe Biden knew this moment had to come. It came just days ago, but the story of Biden’s surrender to the radical pro-abortion position has been progressing over decades, slowly, and then suddenly.

Tracing the “evolution” of President Biden’s view on abortion is vital for understanding our present moral crisis. The chronicle of his views on the sanctity of life encapsulates the trajectory of the Democratic Party. It tells us about the worldview divide in the United States. It tells us a great deal about where we are as a nation and how easily a politician’s convictions can evaporate in seconds.

Consider this timeline:

1972

Joe Biden, who identified as a devout Roman Catholic, ran for the United States Senate from Delaware. Biden’s Roman Catholic identity largely shielded him from questions about abortion. His election to the Senate came a year before the moral convulsion of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

1976

In the wake of Roe v. Wade in 1973, a bipartisan group of law makers gathered around what became known as the Hyde Amendment, which prevented the federal funding of abortions. The central issue was the understanding that American taxpayers, millions holding pro-life convictions, should not be forced by taxation to pay for abortions. Joe Biden supported this Amendment, voting for it in 1976. For context, the Hyde Amendment in 1976 did not carve out exemptions for rape or incest. He held this position supporting for forty-five years—that is until he didn’t. Biden bragged constantly about his principled defense of the Hyde Amendment. But, as we shall see, all that changed within 24 hours in June of 2019, when Biden knew he had to reverse his position if he had any chance of gaining the 2020 Democratic nomination.

1977

Senator Joe Biden voted against allowing Medicaid to fund abortions in the event of rape or incest.

1981

Joe Biden voted for a Constitutional amendment process that would have allowed states to overturn Roe v. Wade. He later described that vote as, “The single most difficult vote I’ve cast as a US Senator.” In that same year, he reaffirmed his opposition to federal funding of abortion in the cases of rape or incest. NPR News reported that Biden was “one of just two Democratic senators from the Northeast to vote to end federal funding for abortion for victims of rape and incest.”

1982

Joe Biden’s view shifted. A year after voting for the constitutional amendment that would have allowed states to overturn Roe, he reversed his vote. He cast a vote against the same constitutional amendment that he voted for in 1981.

1983

As a Senator, Joe Biden voted against allowing federal employees to use health insurance to pay for abortions.

1986

Senator Biden told the Catholic Diocese Newspaper, “Abortion is wrong from the moment of conception.” NBC News also reported that he “seemed to offer the National Conference of Catholic Bishops moral support in pushing for limits, noting that the most effective pro-life groups are those who keep trying to push back the frontier.” Speaking of that frontier, Senator Biden said, “I think medical science is moving the frontier back so that by the year 2000, we’re going to have more and more pressure, and rightfully so in my view, of moving back further and further the circumstances under which an abortion can be had.”

1987

After a scandal erupted over Biden’s use of a British politician’s speech, he withdrew from the race for the 1988 Democratic Party presidential nomination. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden orchestrates the effort to reject President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of a conservative legal scholar, Judge Robert Bork, to the Supreme Court. Biden facilitates the opposition to Bork, citing the need to defend abortion rights and other court precedents.

1994

Senator Biden wrote a letter to his constituents regarding a debate over the Clinton administration’s healthcare proposals. He bragged that on no fewer than “fifty occasions,” he voted against federal funding of abortion. He said, as a matter of principle, “Those of us who are opposed to abortion should not be compelled to pay for them.”

2006

Still in the United States Senate, Joe Biden told CNN that he was the odd man out among Democrats on the issue of abortion. He explained that he did support bans on abortion later in pregnancy, and he supported a ban on federal funding for abortions. He said, “I do not vote for federal funding for abortion. I voted against partial birth abortion to limit it, and I vote for no restrictions on a woman’s right to be able to have an abortion under Roe v. Wade. I made everybody angry. I made the right angry because I won’t support a Constitutional amendment or limitations on a woman’s right to exercise their Constitutional right as defined by Roe v. Wade, and I’ve made the women’s groups and others very angry because I won’t support public funding and I won’t support partial birth.”

Here, we see then Senator Biden trying to situate himself as a thoughtful moderate—a middleman not beholden to either side in the abortion debate. Of course, this posture, cast as political courage, just serves to underline the contradictions in Biden’s position.

2007

Biden published his New York Times bestselling book, Promises to Keep, which anticipated his run for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States in 2008. He described himself as personally opposed to abortion and middle-of-the-road. He stated, “I refuse to impose my beliefs on other people.” That language was the common moral evasion offered by politicians who supported abortion but claimed a religious identity that was pro-life. Figures such as Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, New York Governor Mario Cuomo, and many others, repeated this argument constantly. Liberal Catholic politicians tried to thread the needle of remaining faithful to Catholic doctrine while, on the other hand, satisfying their political base. To do this, the refrain of “not imposing my personal beliefs” became constant. But where is the consistency in believing that abortion is a grave moral evil and yet defending it as a “constitutional right?”

In Promises to Keep, Biden held to the belief that life is sacred and that abortion is wrong, but he said that he refuses to impose that view on others. He described, in his book, an exchange between himself and another senator in an elevator. Biden wrote of himself, “Well, my position is that I personally am opposed to abortion, but I don’t think I have the right to impose my view on something I accept as a matter of faith on the rest of society. I’ve thought a lot about it and my position probably doesn’t please anyone. I think government should stay out completely.”

The Senator responded to Biden, suggesting that Biden’s view was nonsensical and politically unhelpful, to which Biden quipped:

Well, I will not vote to overturn the court’s decision. I will not vote to curtail a woman’s right to choose abortion, but I will also not vote to use federal funds to fund abortion… . Yeah, everybody will be upset with me, except me. I’m intellectually and morally comfortable with my position… . I’ve made life difficult for myself by putting intellectual consistency and personal principles above expediency. I’m perfectly able to take the politically expedient way on issues that don’t seem fundamental, especially when a colleague I trust needs help, but by and large, I follow my own nose and I make no apologies for being difficult to pigeonhole.”

In a way that should have been embarrassing, Biden presented himself in this autobiography as a paragon of moral courage—he claimed to live by intellectual consistency above political expediency. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

2008

When it comes to the abortion debate, the fundamental question everyone must answer is this: When does human life begin? The only consistent answer to that is from the moment of fertilization, and, in 2008, Joe Biden said, “I’m prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life beings at the moment of conception.”

Upon reflection, those words, however, meant something different than what many Catholics and virtually all evangelical Christians would mean. Biden rooted his belief regarding the sanctity of life in his own personal faith, not in any absolute truth. For Biden, as a matter of faith clearly meant not as a matter of policy.

2015

Now serving as vice-president of the United States, Joe Biden gave an interview to America Magazine, a prominent Catholic periodical. The interviewer, Matt Malone, asked the vice-president about positions that he held which collided with the bishops, especially on issues like abortion. Oddly, Malone asked, “Has that been hard for you?”

Biden responded, “It has been, it’s been hard in one sense because I’m prepared to accept de fide doctrine on a whole range of issues as a Catholic, even though, as you know, Aquinas argued about in his Summa Theologica, about human life and being when it occurs. I’m prepared to accept as a matter of faith—my wife and I, my family—the issue of abortion, but what I’m not prepared to do is impose a precise view that is born out of my faith on other people who are equally God-fearing, equally as committed to life, equally as committed to the sanctity of life. I’m prepared to say that to other God-fearing, non-God-fearing people that have a different view.”

This was quintessential Biden. Here, he continues to try to thread the political needle. He tries to affirm his belief in the de fide doctrine of his church regarding abortion and the sanctity of human life. De fide, by the way, means an absolute doctrine of faith. To disagree with de fide doctrine is oppose official doctrine. Thus, while Biden attempts to position himself as in line with his church’s teaching, he also states that he will not use public policy to defend that view, even when the issue at stake is nothing less than human life.

2019

At this point, things for Joe Biden move quickly as he tries to keep up with the pro-abortion progression of his own party. By 2016, the Democratic platform had called for the elimination of the Hyde Amendment and for opposition to any restriction on abortion.

In a crucial 24-hour period, with Biden’s chance at the 2020 nomination slipping away, he reversed himself in a 180-degree turn. His supposed stand on conviction just evaporated. On June 5, 2019, Joe Biden reaffirmed his commitment to the Hyde Amendment. Twenty-four hours later on June 6, Joe Biden did a complete turn. He said, “If I believe healthcare is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s zip code.”

In other words, even as Biden had claimed intellectual consistency over political expediency, he surrendered a nearly fifty-year-old core conviction—and he did so, to be clear, because he so desperately wanted the 2020 nomination. Once it became clear that he would not be allowed within 100 yards of the Democratic nomination for president while clinging to Hyde, he sang a different tune, coming out as aggressively opposed to the Hyde Amendment.

2021

Biden ran in the election on a radically pro-abortion agenda and has made good on his promises. In 2021, he issued a series of executive orders such as striking down the Mexico City Policy, which limited American funds used for abortions and abortion advocacy overseas. He reinstated Title X funding for Planned Parenthood. He seeks the repeal of they [sic] Hyde Amendment and fully supports a taxpayer funded system for abortions on demand. His presidential appointments, ranging across the government and the judiciary, have been predictably “progressive.”

Then, last Friday, came Biden’s final act of surrender.

On September 3rd, 2021, Joe Biden stated, “I respect those who believe life begins at the moment of conception. I respect that—don’t agree—but I respect that.”

So much for courage and conviction. So much for resisting the headwinds of political expediency. A half-century career of stating that life begins at conception and that the American taxpayer should not be forced into paying for abortions is now gone. This was a spectacular reversal on a fundamental issue of morality.

This sad story is not just about an American politician’s compromise. It is not even just the story of an American president and his political “evolution.”

The story of Joe Biden raises important questions we all must answer: How will we define when human life begins? Will we stand upon that conviction, no matter the cost?

Our answer to those questions is, make no mistake, a matter of life or death.

Republished with permission from AlbertMohler.com

R. Albert Mohler Jr. serves as the ninth president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the author of numerous books including The Gathering Storm. His podcast The Briefing offers a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

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Suicide (Including Physician-Assisted) Is Never the Answer

by Joy Zavalick

September 9, 2021

In the U.S., the week of September 5-11 marks National Suicide Prevention Week. Suicide is an indisputably painful topic to consider, summoning grief for all those who have lost a loved one to it. This tragedy does not take only one form, however; even as the nation remembers those who grievously have been taken by suicide, a steadily increasing number of states have created an avenue for legal physician-assisted suicide (PAS).

When Oregon passed the nation’s first Death With Dignity Act in 1997, it was an anomaly that can be traced as a root cause of the pervasive devaluing of human life we see in America. Following this legislative model, nine other states and the District of Columbia have created “death with dignity” statutes or provided state Supreme Court protection for PAS: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Vermont, and Washington. Perhaps most alarmingly, seven of these 11 jurisdictions have created their provisions since 2016.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness states their desire for “any person experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviors to have a number to call, a system to turn to, that would connect them to the treatment and support they need.”

Meanwhile, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden claims that his state’s Death With Dignity Act “has helped to improve end-of-life health care for thousands of Oregonians. We are proud Oregon leads the way […] providing peace of mind for the terminally ill.”

Though the soothing language of these two perspectives is similar, their messages are decisively contrary; the former urges patients to resist suicidal thoughts, while the latter encourages their fulfillment.

The paradox of the American desire to prevent suicide, while simultaneously creating legal avenues for it, demonstrates a deep disparity between the proclaimed values of the nation and the legislation being passed by its representatives. It is illogical to oppose suicide when a healthy individual performs it, but to champion the “right” to commit it when a person is terminally ill.

Though advocates for these laws cry “Death with dignity,” the message they send to those with terminal illnesses is that their lives are burdensome, unworthy, and less dignified than everyone else’s. When considering that those struggling with depression are more likely to request assisted suicide, it is clear that causing vulnerable patients to regard their own lives as less worthwhile  creates the demand for PAS.

Consistent messaging about the purpose that every human life possesses is crucial in order to successfully advocate for suicide prevention. If terminally ill patients are told that they qualify to end their own lives due to physical suffering or deterioration, how can mentally ill individuals be told to turn away from suicidal thoughts caused by their mental strife? The increasing prevalence of PAS in the states contradicts the culture of suicide prevention, which is so widely accepted that the nation designates a week to recognize it.

The Death With Dignity National Center, which advocates for the legalization of PAS across the states, ironically advises those who have not yet received their suicide prescription, “While you are waiting, don’t forget to live your life and look for a little bit of joy in every day.” Outside of the context of PAS, this advice would ring true; actual “death with dignity” must come naturally, and the life that exists before it must be treasured and lived abundantly.

In order to appropriately recognize the worth and purpose of human life, we must ban PAS and take a consistent stance in opposition to all forms of suicide.

Joy Zavalick is Research Assistant for the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.

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After Biden Abandoned Afghan Women, His “Women’s Rights” Rhetoric Rings Hollow

by Arielle Del Turco

September 8, 2021

In a bold act of defiance against the Taliban, hundreds of Afghan women took to the streets of Kabul on Tuesday morning, demanding that the Taliban respect their rights. Taliban fighters beat them with sticks and rifles in response. Validating the fears of Afghan women’s rights activists, the Taliban seems to be showing its true colors after initially attempting to reassure the world it would respect human rights.

This is happening as President Biden denounces the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to leave a Texas pro-life law—that protects an unborn child from abortion after a heartbeat is detected—in place and touts his own concern for women’s rights. In a statement, Biden said the situation in Texas is an example of why he decided to create a Gender Policy Council “to be prepared to react to such assaults on women’s rights.”

Biden can pretend to care about women’s rights, but that’s rich coming from the president who just triggered the most significant women’s rights crisis of our time in Afghanistan.

In the 1990s, the Taliban regime was notoriously oppressive for women and girls. With President Biden’s ineptly managed withdrawal and the Taliban’s sudden return, women have been sent back to the dark ages of Taliban rule. Many young women and girls who grew up in a democratic Afghanistan will be experiencing those dark ages for the first time.

Physical danger to Afghan women is great. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid recently warned that women should stay inside their homes since Taliban fighters “have not been yet trained” to respect women. And the targeting of women has already begun.

Well-known Afghan journalist Beheshta Arghand has already fled the country, afraid for her life. She said, “When a group of people don’t accept you as a human, they have some picture in their mind of you, it’s very difficult.” The Taliban has already been accused of murdering a pregnant policewoman. Other Afghan women who have achieved career success are afraid of being similarly punished by the Taliban.

The Taliban promised that women “will be given all their rights within Sharia ‘the Islamic laws.’” Unfortunately, the Taliban’s interpretation of Sharia law in the 1990s meant that women could not leave their homes without a male guardian, most women could not work outside the home, and girls could not even go to school or play sports.

Knowing the risks, many Afghan women have already stopped going to work, even though the Taliban promised women could work. Supposedly, recent measures which sent women home from work in parts of Afghanistan are temporary. However, Taliban requests for women to stay home after they seized power in Afghanistan 25 years ago were said to be temporary then, too. But it wasn’t temporary; it was the new reality.

The Afghans who fled to Kabul from other areas already held by the Taliban reported that Taliban fighters were forcing families to hand over unmarried women to become wives for the fighters. Some young women went into hiding as fighters searched houses, looking for victims to be used as sex slaves. 

The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan perfectly demonstrates what an assault on women’s rights really looks like.

The Taliban takeover is a worst-case scenario for Afghan women, and they are devastated. Small groups of women have staged protests demanding basic rights. But few will be so bold, and most will mourn silently.

The ongoing work to secure women’s rights in Afghanistan was well known to American foreign policy leaders and human rights experts. Some had spent years working to improve the plight of Afghan women. So, it should not come as a surprise for the administration—or Biden himself—that women now face an impossible situation in Afghanistan. Yet, Biden’s hasty and careless withdrawal seems not to have taken women into account.

Caring about women’s rights means caring about women’s education, opportunities, equal treatment, and fundamental right to life. The situation unfolding in Afghanistan over the past few weeks proves Biden cares about none of that. If Biden wants to promote the “right” to kill unborn children in Texas, he can. But he cannot act like he is a women’s rights hero while doing so.

Protecting innocent children in the womb after they develop a heartbeat—which is what Texas’ new law does—is not a threat to women’s rights. Joe Biden’s policies, on the other hand, are.

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A Closer Look at FRC’s Viral Tweet: The Bible Really Is Pro-Life (Part 1)

by David Closson

September 8, 2021

Last Friday, FRC posted a tweet that stated: “The Bible is ardently and unequivocally pro-life.” For an organization whose mission is to “advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview,” tweeting support for the Bible’s pro-life ethic was hardly controversial—or at least it shouldn’t have been. But given the renewed tension over abortion following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to allow a Texas pro-life law to go into effect, passions have been stirred, and antagonism toward pro-life Christians has reached a fever pitch.

As evidence that the abortion lobby and its supporters are livid over the Supreme Court’s decision, consider the reaction to FRC’s tweet. In just three days, FRC’s tweet generated 18 million impressions, 200,000 engagements, 7,000 retweets, and 17,000 replies, nearly all of which were negative. Several replies to FRC’s tweet generated tens of thousands of engagements from Twitter users as well. Clearly, claiming the Bible is pro-life struck a nerve for many people.

I’ve explained elsewhere that the Bible teaches a pro-life ethic. I’ve also argued at length that the Bible affirms the personhood of the unborn and that Christians have opposed abortion for 2,000 years. However, some of the impassioned critiques about the Bible’s teaching on life, abortion, and God’s character offered in response to FRC’s viral tweet merit a response.

Claim: “The Bible says life begins with breath.”

By far, the most common objection to FRC’s tweet is that the Bible teaches that life begins with breath. According to this argument, abortion is morally neutral (and thus permissible) because it ends the life of a preborn child before he or she has taken their first breath. Supporters of this position cite Genesis 2:7, which says, “Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man become a living creature” (ESV).

In context, Genesis 2:7 does not teach that life begins with Adam’s first breath. In fact, the passage says nothing about Adam breathing (although it can be assumed Adam began breathing after receiving life). According to the passage, God forms and breathes into non-living matter, and Adam becomes a living being. Adam’s creation is unique; he is personally formed by God and given life as a fully adult man. It may appear almost too obvious to need pointing out, but how God gave Adam life is different from how every other person subsequently born receives life. Following God’s creation of Eve, the normal biological process of reproduction is the means for creating new life. In other words, the special circumstances of Adam’s creation—including God’s breathing into him the breath of life—are not paradigmatic or representative of how the rest of humanity comes into existence. After our first parents, no one received “the breath of life” directly from God in the same way.

Additionally, for critics who insist the Bible teaches that life begins with Adam’s first breath, it is worth noting that the unborn are “breathing” in the sense that they receive the oxygen they need for their cells to function. As Amy Hall explains, “Just because an unborn child is not an adult and doesn’t take in oxygen the way an adult does, that doesn’t mean he isn’t receiving the oxygen he needs to live; and it certainly doesn’t mean he isn’t a live human being.” Adam began breathing through his mouth after receiving life because that is how a person at that stage of development takes in oxygen.

Claim: “Unborn children do not receive their souls until birth.”

Another critique leveled against pro-life Christians is the claim that unborn children do not receive their souls until birth. However, this is an argument from silence. What the Bible does teach is that unborn babies are fully human. For example, in Luke 1, John the Baptist “leaps for joy” upon hearing Mary’s voice. While in utero, John is acknowledging Jesus and beginning his work as a forerunner of the Christ. Moreover, John is said to be filled with the Holy Spirit in utero. In the same passage, prenatal Jesus is not seen as an impersonal, non-moral entity; rather, He is rightly honored as Lord by both Elizabeth and her unborn baby. In other words, both unborn babies are seen as full persons.

In short, embryology has advanced to the point where no one disputes that a newly formed zygote (fertilized egg) has its own genetic composition and is therefore a biologically unique individual. Moral standing, i.e., personhood, cannot be based on a quality or status that emerges or is achieved at some point after conception. Most characteristics like intelligence exist on a quantitative scale. It is more than ethically tenuous to assign personhood based on subjective criteria. Rather, personhood should be based on biology and genetics, which support the position that life begins at conception. This view is consistent with the Bible’s teaching about the personhood of the unborn (Psalm 139, Luke 1, etc.).

Claim: “In the book of Exodus, the Bible teaches that unborn children have less value than women.”

The misconception that the Bible teaches unborn children have less value than their mothers is based on a faulty reading of Exodus 21:22-25, which says:

When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

Some claim that the statement “but there is no harm” only refers to the woman, but this assumption does not make logical sense in the context of the full passage. This law clearly lays out the penalties for harming a pregnant woman and her unborn child. The context is a situation where two men are fighting and accidentally hit a pregnant woman. If a woman is hit and premature birth results, but there is no harm to the woman or child, the man at fault will incur a fine. But if there is harm to either the woman or child, the penalty is the application of the law of retaliation (lex talionis), whereby a punishment resembles the offense committed in kind and degree. This means that both mother and child are afforded equal protection under the law.

Notably, the application of lex talionis in this situation is unique. Under similar circumstances—where someone unintentionally caused the death of another person—the penalty was not “life for life.” Rather, the person at fault could flee to a city of refuge where they had to wait until the death of the high priest. Commenting on this passage, theologian Wayne Grudem observes, “This means that God established for Israel a law code that placed a higher value on protecting the life of a pregnant woman and her unborn child than the life of anyone else in Israelite society.” Thus, rather than teaching that unborn children have less value than women, Exodus provides protections for mothers and their unborn children.

Stay tuned for part 2.

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IRF 101: Perils for Christians in India

by Arielle Del Turco , Tyler Watt

September 7, 2021

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

In May 2021, a mob of radical Hindus attacked Pastor Ramesh Bumbariya’s family after they refused to renounce their Christian faith. One of the armed assailants shot Bhima Bumbariya, the father of Pastor Bumbariya, killing him. Pastor Bumbariya and two other members of his family were hospitalized.

Even in the face of his father’s death, Pastor Bumbariya thanked God for His faithfulness. He was comforted by his conviction that God had a plan for his life to continue ministering to his community.

As Hindu nationalism continues to surge in India, the violence committed against this Christian family is just one example among hundreds. The violence stems from social hostility to religious minorities and state policies that reinforce such sentiments—making it more difficult for religious minorities to thrive in the Hindu-dominated state.

Mob Violence against Christians and Others

Christians in India number in the tens of millions but still only comprise just over two percent of the country’s population. Many Indian Christians come from historically lower castes in society, which can make them even more vulnerable to discrimination or social pressure. As the Evangelical Fellowship of India reported, the first half of 2021 saw at least 145 acts of violence perpetrated against Christians. These included several religiously motivated murders. These acts are all part of a larger effort to “purify” India of non-Hindu influences.

Some members of the Hindu majority feel threatened by the presence of Christians, especially when Hindus convert to Christianity. Some Hindus have led social movements to “reconvert” Indians back to Hinduism, even if the potential reconverts or their families were never adherents to Hinduism in the first place. These ceremonies are oftentimes forced or coerced.

Christians are not the only minority facing discrimination and threats because of their religion. More than 30 Muslims were killed in mob violence in New Delhi in 2020, following the passage of a law that created easier pathways to citizenship for specifically non-Muslim immigrants. The police were later found to be complicit in allowing these acts of violence to take place.

Several states in India have passed the “Freedom of Religion Act,” an ironically titled piece of legislation that makes it difficult or illegal for individuals to convert to their spouse’s faith at the time of marriage. Although proponents of the ban assert that a ban on this form of conversion protects women entering arranged or coerced unions, the result of the ban seems to disproportionately affect religious minorities. 

Anti-Conversion Laws Used to Control Faith

As previously documented by FRC, several Indian states have legislation restricting religious conversion. Odisha (formerly Orissa), Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand prohibit religious conversion by use of “force,” “allurement,” or “fraudulent means” and “require district authorities be informed of any intended conversion one month in advance.” Punishment varies by state, but the maximum is imprisonment for a term of three years and/or a fine of 50,000 rupees ($700). Some states require “individuals wishing to convert to another religion and clergy intending to officiate in a conversion ceremony to submit formal notification to the government.”

Such anti-conversion laws prohibit people from converting to another religion, and governments utilize them to maintain a majority of the population within their preferred religion. They are often framed as if they are protecting people from being tricked or “induced” into changing their faith. Yet, they often discourage people from sharing their faith at all.

Activities that seek to convert people in these states must be reported to local authorities weeks in advance. As advocacy organizations like International Christian Concern have reported, the anti-conversion laws in place throughout India are one-sided, targeting religious minorities while leaving members of the Hindu majority unaffected.

Social Hostility and the Dangers of Hindu Nationalism

A growing political agenda pushed by Hindu nationalist political parties, including the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), sometimes inspires violence against Christians and Muslims. For example, this summer, members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) rallied in Chitrakoot (a town held as a holy site in Hinduism) and developed a new party slogan: “Chadar aur Father Mukt Bharat,” which translates to: “An India Liberated of Muslims and Christians.”

Whether the violence is directed toward Muslims, Christians, or any other religious minority, the outcome is the same: the social position of the targeted group is weakened. Religious minorities feel less comfortable meeting to worship, setting up new social services like schools and clinics, and even walking in the streets of their home cities and villages. An apathetic government allows persecution to continue, especially in far-flung rural areas far from the areas that experience greater influence from Western values of tolerance and religious pluralism. 

India’s status as a democracy and a strategic ally of the United States should not prevent us from speaking out in defense of vulnerable Indian believers experiencing persecution. Exposing the truth and praying for the protection of all downtrodden people are the first steps toward fostering a better future for believers in India.

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FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of August 29)

by Family Research Council

September 3, 2021

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

1. Blog: “They Need a Miracle”: Pray for the People of Afghanistan

Following President Biden’s decision to fully withdraw U.S. troops, Taliban fighters have taken over the capital. Civilians not wanting to live under Taliban rule rushed to the airport in Kabul, desperate to make it onto one of the last planes leaving the country. For Christians in that country, the situation has gone from bad to worse.

2. Blog: Critical Race Theory and the Path to Truth

Some see the debate over Critical Race Theory (CRT) as a disagreement between those who think racism is real and those who do not. But this is not the case. CRT’s oppressor/oppressed framework is a way of understanding and interpreting the world—one that is significantly in conflict with a biblical worldview because it offers a different understanding of truth.

3. Blog: So You’ve Decided to Homeschool – Now What?

American homeschooling households have more than doubled since 2020. Why? For many parents, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed what America’s public schools have been teaching their children – and it’s terrifying. If you have chosen to homeschool your children, here are some helpful tips to get you started.

4. Blog: Explainer: What Is Happening with Texas’ New Pro-Life Law?

Roe v. Wade resulted from a challenge to a pro-life Texas law. Forty-eight years later, Texas is once again protecting life—but this time, so far, the U.S. Supreme Court has let those protections stand. Texas recently passed a law (known as Senate Bill 8) that restricts abortion after a heartbeat has been detected in the unborn child – this usually occurs around six weeks.

5. Washington Watch: Jerry Boykin, Scott Rasmussen, Pam Pryor, Jody Hice

Joseph Backholm was joined by Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, FRC’s Executive Vice President and former commander of the U.S. Army’s Delta Force, to discuss the 13 U.S. service members who were killed at the Kabul airport. Scott Rasmussen, pollster and editor-at-large at Ballotpedia, talked about the polling on how President Biden has handled foreign policy, the economy, and the pandemic. Pam Pryor, former Senior State Department official under President Trump, critiqued the Biden administration for mishandling the evacuation of Americans and Afghan allies. And, Jody Hice, U.S. Representative for Georgia, shared his thoughts on the recent events in Afghanistan and what Congress can do to hold the Biden administration accountable.

6. Washington Watch: Chris Smith, Tony Perkins, Franklin Graham, Nina Shea

Joseph Backholm was joined by Chris Smith, U.S. Representative for New Jersey, to discuss the humanitarian disaster following the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban. Tony Perkins, FRC President and Marine veteran, gave an on the ground report on Ida Hurricane relief efforts in Louisiana. Franklin Graham, President of Samaritan’s Purse, shared how Samaritan’s Purse is responding to Hurricane Ida. And, Nina Shea, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Religious Freedom at Hudson Institute, talked about what’s happening to Christians in Afghanistan.

7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: Biden’s “American Families Plan”

On this episode of Pray Vote Stand FRC’s Mary Szoch, Joy Pullmann of The Federalist, Charmaine Yoest of Heritage Foundation, and Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) outlined the problems with Biden’s “American Families Plan” and discuss alternative polices that will truly help all families flourish.

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Messing with Texas: Biden Not the Women’s Advocate He Claims to Be

by Mary Szoch , Joy Zavalick

September 3, 2021

In a statement issued on September 2, President Biden called the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision allowing Texas’s six-week abortion ban to remain in effect “an unprecedented assault on women’s constitutional rights.” Biden went on to say that during his time as president, he has prepared to react to “assaults on women’s rights.”

Unfortunately, the president’s track record makes it abundantly clear that he is not the champion of women he purports himself to be. In the early days of his presidency, President Biden issued an executive order that claimed to combat “discrimination on the basis of gender identity” but, in reality, undermined advances American women struggled for decades to obtain. This order stripped women and girls of privacy and safety in public spaces, ensuring that biological males had the right to use the same restrooms and change in the same locker rooms as little girls.

A few days later, Biden repealed the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy (more commonly known as the Mexico City Policy). Through this action, he prioritized the pocketbooks of abortion providers over providing clean water, education, and real maternal healthcare for women in developing nations. 

In April, the Biden administration supported the removal of the Food and Drug Administration’s safety requirements surrounding chemical abortion, thereby casting aside the Clinton administration’s efforts to safeguard women against the known life-threatening risks of the mifepristone regimen, such as hemorrhage, infection, incomplete pregnancy, retained fetal parts, the need for emergency surgery, and even death. 

A month later, President Biden released his American Families Plan, which ignored the wants and needs of the majority of American mothers by creating a one-size-fits-all plan in which families work to support a growing economy instead of the economy working to support growing families. 

And most recently, with his decision to abruptly remove the U.S. military from Afghanistan, President Biden abandoned Afghan women to face the horrors of life under the Taliban—where, as one woman put it, everyone is afraid. While mothers in Afghanistan struggle to survive and protect their children from an oppressive terrorist regime, President Biden is more concerned with ensuring that mothers in Texas can end the lives of their own children.

President Biden’s disapproval of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the six-week abortion ban in Texas comes as no surprise. However, his threatening language in addressing the Court, stating that he will “launch a whole-of-government effort to respond to this decision,” demonstrates a new depth of ignorance and hypocrisy.

The implicit statement made by President Biden’s actions is clear: the ability to end the lives of their children in the womb is the only right that women truly need. Forget safety in public restrooms and women’s prisons, access to real health care in developing areas of the world, precautions for the chemical abortion regimen that were in place for two decades, childcare plans that actually benefit mothers, and protection from the oppression of the Taliban—women are fine so long as they can get an abortion. President Biden’s priorities are deeply misguided and representative of a pervasive propaganda in modern culture that insists abortion access is the only way for women to live happy, meaningful lives.

Far from being a defender of women, President Biden has repeatedly made decisions and implemented policies that place women in greater harm. His response to the Supreme Court’s decision is consistent with every other action he has taken during his presidency. Time after time, Biden has disregarded the dignity of the human person. Hopefully, this time he will learn to change his ways. After all, you don’t mess with Texas.

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Explainer: What Is Happening with Texas’ New Pro-Life Law?

by Katherine Beck Johnson

September 2, 2021

Roe v. Wade resulted from a challenge to a pro-life Texas law. Forty-eight years later, Texas is once again protecting life—but this time, so far, the U.S. Supreme Court has let those protections stand. Texas recently passed a law (known as Senate Bill 8) that restricts abortion after a heartbeat has been detected in the unborn child. This usually occurs around six weeks. It’s a strong law that protects the most vulnerable. Texas passed the law in the spring, and Governor Abbott signed it in May, days after the U.S. Supreme Court granted cert in the abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.

Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for an emergency injunction that would prevent the Texas law from going into effect. In past abortion cases, such as June Medical v. Russo (June Medical v. Gee at the time), the Court has stepped in before the pro-life bill took effect and blocked it. Texas had until 5 p.m. on Tuesday, August 31, to respond to Planned Parenthood’s emergency injunction request. Texas responded by saying that Planned Parenthood had no standing to bring the case. That is, they had no right to sue. Many stayed up until midnight on the evening of August 31 to see if the bill would go into effect or whether it would be blocked before it was set to become law on September 1. The Court did not issue any ruling as of midnight, so Texas has officially become the first state to successfully outlaw abortion past six weeks.

What’s different about the Texas law? It is enforced differently than most pro-life laws. Usually, if someone is challenging a state law, the state officials are the defendants. The Texas law actually bars state actors from enforcing it and instead allows private citizens to sue anyone who carries out an abortion procedure or anyone who “aids or abets” one. In theory, an abortionist will violate this law and then be sued by a private citizen. Women cannot be sued for attempting to obtain an abortion. But abortionists, clinic workers, and people who offer to pay for an abortion are just a few examples of parties who could be held legally liable for aiding an abortion.

As of right now, abortion is illegal in Texas after six weeks—for the first time since Roe v. Wade. Indeed, this is the first time in 48 years that the unborn have been protected anywhere in America starting at six weeks. This is reason for great hope and reminds us that one day, elective abortion could be illegal in America. The U.S. Supreme Court is still expected to give an answer on this law, so we will stay tuned to how they rule. But for now, lives are being saved in Texas. Abortion appointments scheduled for today are being canceled, and there will be a larger need for the pro-life community in Texas to help even more women who find themselves in unplanned pregnancies.

This is a beautiful and victorious moment in our country. We celebrate the lives saved thanks to the courage and boldness of the Lone Star State.

UPDATE: In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Texas law can remain in effect. Justices Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch, Barrett, and Kavanaugh have allowed the Texas law to remain enforceable, while Justices Roberts, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor would have stayed the law. The majority did not rule on the substance of the law but rather sided with what Texas had argued: it’s unclear whether the named defendants can or will seek to enforce the Texas statute. For example, Planned Parenthood named a pro-life advocate as a defendant because they believe he is likely to enforce the statute. The Court rightly rejected this argument. The minority would have blocked the law while litigation took place below. Thankfully, they fell one vote short of a majority.

This means that while litigation continues regarding the Texas heartbeat ban on the merits, Texas will remain essentially abortion-free. A brilliant litigation strategy has led to many abortion appointments being canceled and lives saved. It’s a beautiful opportunity to show the country how valuing and supporting life should become the norm in every state. The unborn in Texas live another day, and that is a historic and beautiful victory.

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Christianity Is Neither Left nor Right,” Part 2: Re-envisioning Conscience Issues As Discipleship Issues

by Owen Strachan

September 1, 2021

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

Many of us have heard for years now that politics is nothing more than a jump ball. Because Christians inevitably disagree over political matters, we should simply ascribe those disagreements to differing consciences and move on. But as it turns out, our convictions matter tremendously. Elections have consequences—sometimes terrible consequences, as we are now witnessing in Afghanistan after the U.S. military’s withdrawal and the Taliban’s swift takeover of the country.

We cannot blink this dreadful situation away. What we can do at present is retool and reload as Christians. We can remember that faithful biblical figures like Esther, Joseph, and Daniel walked faithfully in fallen times. While not swearing unquestioning allegiance to any political party, we can train the next generation to reject the bankrupt “neither left nor right” philosophy. We can do so by lining out several core considerations.

As I will show in this article, numerous matters have been classified as conscience issues when they are actually discipleship issues. Although there are various gray areas in the Christian faith that the Bible does not directly address, the following (often politicized) principles are not gray areas—they stem from the clear teaching of Scripture. Our approach to different candidates and bills may vary to some degree, but our approach to these biblical realities cannot, and it is clear biblical truth that should shape who and what we support in the days ahead.

Life

The Bible is ardently and unequivocally pro-life. It tells us that God created humans in His own image (Gen. 1:27) and knit us together in our mothers’ wombs (Ps. 139:13-14). It gives us a powerful example of an evil ruler putting children to death and doing so in order to destroy Christ, the incarnate King, in his infancy (Mat. 2:16-18). Christianity is not unclear in the least about protecting babies from the hideous evil of abortion. This is a major priority for us and must be going forward: to do all we can to support candidates and policies that will oppose and ultimately defeat abortion.

For a deeper explanation of how the Bible supports the personhood of the unborn, see FRC’s resource Biblical Principles for Pro-Life Engagement.

Religious Liberty

In Matthew 22:21, Jesus says these monumental words: “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” This statement undergirds the essential nature of the church. The church is not ruled by Caesar, but by Christ. By extension, Christ’s words teach us that Caesar must do all it can not to encroach on the God-given spiritual jurisdiction of the church. Caesar did not shed his blood for believers; Christ did. In practical form in the public square, this means that government must recognize the need for religious liberty, for citizens to pursue the worship of God without the violation of their conscience. Religious liberty is thus of major importance. In our time, though, it is imperiled. Christians need to support candidates and policies that back religious liberty and will protect our freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, and freedom of speech. If these forms of liberty are compromised, all others will eventually be compromised as well.

Property Rights

The Bible tells us in the eighth commandment, “Thou shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15). There is much more embedded in this simple directive than we might initially think. If you cannot steal, that means you need to respect your neighbor’s property and possessions. You might think you have a right to them, but you do not. Christians must stand behind candidates and policies that recognize the sacredness of the individual and the individual’s role in broader society.

Limited Government

Jesus was an advocate of appropriately bounded government. (Think about it: the only perfect human backed limited government!) The God-man taught his hearers that God was due worship, and Caesar was due taxes (Mat. 22:20-22). Jesus threw down with this statement, in reality. The Roman emperors not infrequently viewed themselves as divine. But only the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was real; all others were just pretenders. From this starting point, we do all we can in a fallen world to back candidates and policies that rightly limit government jurisdiction to its appointed ends. The government is constituted by God to bear the sword, intimidate evildoers, and bring in appropriate taxes in order (by extension) to carry out responsible public works like infrastructure. There are gray areas beyond such mandates, but the Christian is called from a careful reading of Scripture to track with Christ and support a limited government that doesn’t overstep its God-ordained bounds.

Biblical Sexual Ethic and God-Defined Identity

The Bible begins, in social terms, with a marriage in a beautiful garden ceremony, the garden of Eden (Gen. 2:21-25). Out of the gate, Scripture exalts the lifelong covenantal union of one man and one woman. It never wavers or shifts from this starting point (Mat. 19:5-6). Nor does it shrink back from showing and declaring the wrongness of homosexual and extramarital sex, gender-bending, and forming one’s identity according to one’s unredeemed lusts and impulses (Deut. 22:5; Rom. 1:18-32). Christians should support candidates and policies that advocate for the biblical sexual ethic, recognizing that we are free to back non-Christians in the public square who agree in broad terms on these matters.

True Biblical Justice

Today, justice is corrupted. As I have covered elsewhere, so-called “social justice” is not about encouraging true equality (often called equality of opportunity) but a false one (often called equality of outcome). Social justice seekers often end up opposing private enterprise, traditional society, and the free market.

A society driven by social justice will end up with no justice at all. Our judicial system, for example, will judge people in reparative terms (softening sentences due to an offender’s tough background, for example), not moral terms (holding them to account for their actions). Biblical justice is impartial, moral, retributive, and anchored in the character of God himself (see Lev. 19:15; Ps. 82; Rom. 4-5). Christians should stand with candidates and policies that advance true impartial justice, not social justice, and this includes both justice in our own country (in the courts) and also foreign policy that will, we pray, yield some measure of justice and opportunity abroad.

The Free Market

The Bible supports the payment of workers what they are due (1 Tim. 5:18). It emphasizes hard work, thrift, wise investment, the multiplication of resources, and cheerful giving (Prov. 6:10-12; 12:11; 13:4). Christ himself taught the parable of the talents, a spiritual lesson that depends upon the reality of exponential growth of the value of tangible resources (Mat. 25:14-30). In sum, the free market is supported by the Word of God, which frames all economic activity in theocentric (God-centered) and ethical terms. In history, the free market has been an incredible engine of flourishing, lifting whole countries out of poverty when embraced and allowed leash. Christians should line up behind candidates and policies that encourage the free market.

Conclusion

Probably the first response some readers will have is this: “I agree with you on these principles, but I struggle to find viable mouthpieces of my Christian convictions.” This is an understandable response. We are not in a perfect world. We Christians have no perfect political candidates before us. Different parties and movements fail in certain respects. Further, Christians not infrequently are catered to in the runup to elections and then forgotten once candidates take office.

But I submit this: we have two duties. We must oppose what is evil. And we must stand for what is good. The Lord does not expect us to form a perfect Christian political party, nor find perfect political candidates. The Lord expects us to do the best we can with the hand we are dealt. We should do everything we can to oppose policies of corruption and evil. We should do everything we can to promote biblical truth in the public square and back candidates and policies that come the closest to aligning with our convictions.

This will never—I repeat, never—be easy. It will always be messy. It will often be frustrating. But it is necessary, nonetheless. We have no guarantee of saving America; we know our identity as believers is ultimately the new heavens and new earth. But until we can put that zip code on our envelope, we must be salt and light in this place and in this season (Mat. 5:13-14).

Like Esther, we have been placed here for such a time as this. 

For further consideration of how Christians should think about politics, see FRC’s resource Biblical Principles for Political Engagement

Owen Strachan is the author of Christianity and Wokeness (Salem Books). A Senior Fellow with the Center for Biblical Worldview at FRC, he is Provost and Research Professor of Theology at Grace Bible Theological Seminary and hosts The Antithesis podcast.

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