FRC Blog

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

by Blake Elliott

August 7, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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USAID Does a World of Good for Religious Freedom

by Arielle Del Turco , Arielle Leake

August 6, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pakistan’s Religious Injustice: Prayers and Pressure Needed

by Lela Gilbert

August 5, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Joseph Backholm

August 4, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Peter Sprigg

August 4, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Ms. Hopkins reportedly said,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ms. Hopkins of Facebook goes on:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of them said,

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

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

Another one said,

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

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

Another one said,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Remembering ISIS’ Yazidi Genocide, Six Years Later

by Arielle Del Turco

August 3, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Family Research Council

July 31, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The World War II Memorial: A Tribute to Our Nation’s Heroes

by Sarah Rumpf

July 30, 2020

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

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

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

On the National Mall, situated between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, stands the World War II Memorial. The memorial honors the 16 million men and women who served in the United States’ armed forces, the more than 400,000 who died, and the millions of civilians who supported the war effort from home. Today, the World War II Memorial is a poignant reminder of the spirit, strength, and sacrifice of the American people during the largest armed conflict in history.

World War II began in 1939 and ended in 1945. But it wasn’t until 1987 that the idea of a national monument memorializing the war was born. Roger Durbin, a World War II veteran, approached Rep. Marcy Kaptur, a Democrat from Ohio, with the suggestion. Representative Kaptur introduced the World War II Memorial Act to the House of Representatives on December 10, 1987. However, the bill did not pass in 1987, nor in 1989 or 1991, when it was reintroduced. However, on March 17, 1993, the Senate finally approved the Act, and Rep. Kaptur’s tireless advocacy finally paid off. The World War II Memorial Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on May 25, 1993, and on May 29, 2004, President George W. Bush dedicated the completed memorial.

The World War II Memorial is comprised of a pool and fountains flanked by two archway pavilions and surrounded by 56 granite pillars arranged in an oval. Each pillar stands 17 feet tall and is inscribed with the name of a U.S. state or territory. The states alternate around the oval in the order that they ratified the U.S. Constitution. The pavilions, each adorned with eagles and a laurel wreath, represent the two theaters of the war, Atlantic and Pacific. A medallion shows the striking image of Nike, goddess of victory, standing on the helmet of Mars, god of war—indicating the U.S. victory over the war. The memorial features quotes from presidents and generals throughout. One inscription from President Harry Truman states, “Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.”

War memorials are a focal point for remembrance, both for individual families and for a collective culture, and play a vital role in ensuring that a permanent record and an everlasting tribute is appointed to lives given and affected during wartime. The World War II Memorial expresses the emotions of sacrifice, sorrow, and, eventually, victory. It acts as a historical touchstone that links the past to the present, enabling its 4.83 million annual visitors to remember and respect the sacrifices of those who fought, died, or were affected by the war.

The World War II Memorial challenges and inspires its visitors to consider the cost of the freedom that we enjoy. The sheer number of Americans who laid down their lives, marked by a wall of 4,048 gold stars, reminds us that freedom requires sacrifice. For Christians, it may evoke thoughts of the greatest sacrifice of all—Christ laying down His life for the sins of mankind. 1 John 2:2 states, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our but also for the sins of the whole world.” Without Christ sacrificing Himself for us, we have no forgiveness and no freedom from our sin.

Without monuments like the World War II Memorial, it can be easy to forget the hardships endured and sacrifices made by previous generations. Our freedom only exists today because of the brave actions of those who believed that freedom was worth tremendous sacrifice. The World War II Memorial should inspire us to fight for freedom and against injustice in our world. Moreover, if so many American heroes were willing to sacrifice their lives for our nation’s freedom, how much more should we Christians be willing to sacrifice for the spread of the gospel, which gives the ultimate freedom—freedom from sin.

Sarah Rumpf is an Events intern at Family Research Council.

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Lessons in Perseverance from the Life of William Wilberforce

by Worth Loving

July 29, 2020

The abolition of slavery. Women’s suffrage. Civil rights for black Americans. None of these reforms happened quickly. They only came about through years of dedicated efforts from people who refused to give up, despite overwhelming odds.

As we fight to protect life, family, and religious freedom, we can find inspiration in the lives of men and women who never gave up fighting for causes they believed in. One such individual was the great statesman William Wilberforce. Wilberforce played a central role in the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, but he did not see his reforms implemented within a few weeks or months. In fact, it took decades for Wilberforce’s ultimate goals to be accomplished. He experienced many crushing defeats yet remained steadfast in his pursuit. As we work toward reforms in the present, we can learn much from the life and example of William Wilberforce.

Born into an affluent British family, Wilberforce attended St. Johns College in Cambridge, where he became close friends with future prime minister William Pitt. Raised in a Christian home, Wilberforce drifted away from his religious upbringing as a young man. In 1780, at the age of 21 and while still a student, Wilberforce was elected to Parliament. Pitt followed his friend to Parliament, becoming the youngest prime minister in British history at the age of 24.

The first few years of Wilberforce’s parliamentary career were mostly uneventful, although he was known as an eloquent speaker who frequented bars with drinking and gambling. It wasn’t until 1785 that things began to change. Influenced by his friend Isaac Milner, Wilberforce rediscovered the Christianity of his youth. Over the next few years, Wilberforce’s newfound faith sparked a strong desire for humanitarian reform. Yet Wilberforce wrestled with whether he should leave Parliament and devote himself to full-time Christian ministry. He reconnected with his childhood pastor John Newton, a former slave trader who became an influential adviser to Wilberforce. Around this time, Wilberforce was also approached by Thomas Clarkson, co-founder of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, about taking up the cause in Parliament. Through the counsel of Newton, Pitt, Clarkson, and notable antislavery groups like the Clapham Sect, Wilberforce was persuaded that he could still do God’s work while remaining in politics. Around this time, he wrote the following in his journal: “God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the Slave Trade and the Reformation of Manners” [i.e., society].

At the time, calling for the abolition of the slave trade was deeply unpopular, given the strong economic interests many influential businessmen and members of Parliament had in the British West Indies. Over the new few years, Wilberforce and Clarkson embarked on an unprecedented public awareness campaign across Great Britain. Clarkson visited the ports where slave ships docked, taking detailed notes from crew members about the deplorable conditions slaves endured aboard ship. He also took measurements of the small quarters in which slaves were housed and gathered shackles and branding irons to demonstrate to the public how slaves were being treated. In 1787, Clarkson published a booklet titled A Summary View of the Slave Trade and of the Probable Consequences of Its Abolition, detailing the horrific conditions slaves endured while aboard the ships. Clarkson began traveling the country, distributing leaflets describing these conditions. In 1789, Wilberforce used Clarkson’s evidence in a powerful speech before the House of Commons to present his first bill for the abolition of the slave trade. While Parliament did not act on his bill, public opinion was starting to change. In 1791, the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade distributed leaflets calling upon the public to boycott sugar produced by slaves in the West Indies. Consequently, around 300,000 British citizens stopped buying the sugar, resulting in a significant loss of profit to companies that used slave labor in the West Indies.

Across the English Channel, trouble was brewing in France. Parliament was soon consumed with protecting Britain from the violent revolution engulfing France. That revolution resulted in an overthrow of the French government and eventually culminated in Napoleon’s rise to power. The British political establishment often viewed abolitionists like Wilberforce in the same light as the radicals leading the French Revolution. During this time, Wilberforce was slandered, libeled, and even received death threats. To compound his difficulties, Wilberforce battled an intestinal disease (believed today to be colitis) that prevented him from fulfilling his parliamentary duties from time to time. Despite these setbacks, Wilberforce remained resolute in his quest to end the slave trade.

Year after year, Wilberforce would present a motion in the House of Commons calling for the abolition of the slave trade. Although some of the margins were narrow, his motion was defeated every single time. Wilberforce’s motions were often defeated by fellow members of Parliament who had strong economic interests in the slave trade. In a 1791 speech, Wilberforce boldly reminded his fellow members: “Having heard all of this you may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say you did not know.” But Wilberforce remained unfazed by the defeats and continued his fight with public awareness campaigns, bringing to light the horrors of the slave trade. Wilberforce and Clarkson gathered thousands of petition signatures from enraged British citizens who demanded an end to the slave trade throughout the Empire.

By 1807, public opinion was squarely in his favor, and Wilberforce had persuaded many members of Parliament. After nearly 20 years of fighting, the Slave Trade Act was passed, and Wilberforce realized one of his two “great objects”—the end of the slave trade.

Because this bill did not free currently owned slaves, Wilberforce began calling for the immediate emancipation of all slaves in the British Empire. In 1825, Wilberforce resigned his seat in Parliament due to health reasons but continued his quest to abolish slavery. On July 26, 1833, the Slavery Abolition Act was passed by the House of Commons, effectively freeing all slaves in the British Empire. William Wilberforce died three days later with the satisfaction of knowing that the cause to which he had dedicated his life had finally been accomplished.  

Wilberforce had also worked hard on his second “great object”—the “reformation of manners.” When Wilberforce began his Parliamentary career, British society was incredibly corrupt and immoral. Workers suffered poor conditions, animals were abused, and prostitution was rampant. Wilberforce had a special place in his heart for the poor and those rejected by society. By the time he died, Great Britain was a completely different place.

For more than 50 years, Wilberforce dedicated his life to building a better Great Britain. While advocating for Christians to be involved in politics, Wilberforce once said that “a private faith that does not act in the face of oppression is no faith at all.” As Christians, we are called to engage our culture and influence others for Christ. Wilberforce never attacked his opponents but instead appealed to their conscience.

Now, 187 years since Wilberforce’s death, we can draw many parallels between Wilberforce’s battles and our current ones over abortion, religious freedom, pornography, human trafficking, and many more. Since 1973, we’ve been fighting to correct the flawed decision in Roe v. Wade. While the pro-life movement has experienced many victories, hundreds of innocent unborn children are still killed every day. The Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges undermines the sacred institution of marriage. And the religious liberty of Christian business owners and government employees is under increasing attack, most recently in Bostock v. Clayton County

Despite recent setbacks, we must never give up. We can find inspiration in William Wilberforce, who faced crushing defeats and vicious attacks from his opponents but never relented his fight for what was right.  We can learn much from Wilberforce’s tenacity and his unwavering commitment to the cause to which God had called him. The fight may be long and grueling, but the ultimate reward we are seeking is well worth any struggle we face now.

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FRC’s Efforts on Capitol Hill (Week of July 20)

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP , Laura Lee Caum

July 28, 2020

FRC wrapped up another busy week fighting for faith, family, and freedom on Capitol Hill.

The House came together — and then fell apart

The House of Representatives returned from a two-week recess with a full schedule of legislative items. On Tuesday, the House passed the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes all of the major defense programs, with broad bipartisan support. Fortunately, unlike last year, this year’s bill did not include a new family planning program with pro-life concerns or language to reshape military standards to be gender-neutral. The Senate passed their version of the NDAA on Thursday, also with broad bipartisan support. The absence of progressive policy priorities allowed Democrats and Republicans to join together in support of this year’s NDAA.

While members resisted the temptation to insert partisan priorities in the NDAA, the same could not be said of the Democrats on the Appropriations committee. The House passed the first minibus appropriations package (H.R. 7608), which includes several major pro-life and pro-family concerns. Specifically, the State and Foreign Operations section of the bill included language to repeal President Trump’s Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy, which bars funding for foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that perform or promote abortion as a method of family planning. The bill would also provide direct funding for the World Health Organization, which actively promotes abortion and a radical sex education agenda abroad. Finally, the bill would weaken a longstanding pro-life amendment that bans funding for any organization or program that promotes coercive abortions. Despite President Trump’s threat to veto any spending bills that weaken or undermine current pro-life policies, House leadership has pushed through a spending bill full of anti-life measures.

FRC priorities attacked in committee hearings

One-third of pregnancies in trans men are unintended.” That statement from the co-founder of Minority Veterans of America is just one example of the radical liberal agenda that was on full display in House committee hearings this week.

Several values issues came up in the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing. First, Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) questioned what was included in the expansion of contraception access for veterans in H.R. 4281. The Director of Reproductive Health at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) clarified that this would include abortifacients like the morning after pill. H.R. 3582, which would expand the scope of the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans to include LGBT-identifying veterans, was also introduced. Promoting progressive social policies in the VA has become a new tactic in the House as they seek to sneak in social experiments on abortion, marijuana, and LGBT rights into these federal programs.

Some members used the House Foreign Assistance Budget hearing to attack the president’s appointees at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). John Barsa, the Acting Administrator of USAID, who has actively fought against the global expansion of abortion throughout the coronavirus pandemic, was questioned by members for the various pro-life and pro-family appointees at USAID. The questions the members asked were not about the appointee’s experience or credentials for the role. Instead, they raised concerns only because the president’s appointees hold a worldview with which they disagree. These types of attacks are very similar to those leveled at key White House officials, like Russ Vought, as they made their way through the Senate confirmation process. This indirect assault against people who hold a biblical worldview is greatly concerning.

Although there was a fair share of anti-life and anti-family rhetoric on Capitol Hill this week, Christians shouldn’t be discouraged. Proverbs 21:1 reminds us that in God’s hand, “the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him.” Remember, God is sovereign; nothing surprises Him or takes Him off guard. Moreover, there are actions you can take to protect the values of faith, family, and freedom. First, it is important that you pray. Scripture instructs us to pray for those who are in authority, which includes our leaders in government. Second, it is imperative that you vote and get involved in the political process. As God commanded the exiles in Babylon, we, too, should seek the welfare of our city by engaging in the sometimes messy world of politics. This is one of the practical ways we obey Jesus’ command to love our neighbors (Mark 12:31). Thus, when we are tempted to be discouraged by the rhetoric on Capitol Hill, let’s remember the words of Winston Churchill. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Laura Lee Caum is a Communications intern at Family Research Council.

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