FRC Blog

Violence Is Increasing Against Nigeria’s Christian Communities

by Lela Gilbert

October 2, 2020

In July 2020, Family Research Council published a major report on the suffering of Nigeria’s Christians, describing the murderous attacks against them and the Islamist ideology that lies behind them. Since then, the death toll of those Christians who are targeted solely because of their faith has continued to soar.

Our FRC Issue Analysis began:

Since the dawn of the twenty-first century, and with horrifying acceleration in recent years, verified reports of murders, rapes, mutilations, and kidnapping of Christians in Nigeria have persistently increased. These attacks are frequently accompanied by the torching of homes, churches, villages, and agricultural fields. A July 15, 2020 headline reports that 1,202 Nigerian Christians were killed in the first six months of 2020. This is in addition to 11,000 Christians who have been killed since June 2015. Such violence has reached a point at which expert observers and analysts are warning of a progressive genocide—a “slow-motion war” specifically targeting Christians across Africa’s largest and most economically powerful nation.

Last week—two months later—Decision Magazine reported, “Pressure has mounted recently on the Trump administration to more aggressively address the violence that has claimed some 60,000 Christians in the last 15 years….In addition, an estimated 2 to 3 million people have been displaced by the violence committed by the ISIS-affiliated terrorist group Boko Haram and militant Muslim Fulani herdsmen. There are reports of widespread hunger and health needs among the displaced, who are often living in squalor.”

The number of Nigerians dead, mutilated, wounded, and left homeless in the past decade is accelerating. This is particularly true when, for multiple reasons, the U.S. and other governments have done so little to stop the carnage.

Retired Congressman and religious freedom expert Frank Wolf, along with several others, participated in a September 16 press conference hosted by the International Committee on Nigeria [ICON] in Washington, D.C. An outspoken voice against the Nigerian government’s failure to control the killers in their midst, Mr. Wolf addressed the question of whether the crisis is a “potential genocide.” He emphatically rejected the word “potential,” “Genocide!” he asserted. “Genocide is taking place in Nigeria!”

Three groups are responsible for the attacks against Nigeria’s Christians: Fulani radicals, the notorious Boko Haram, and the burgeoning Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). The UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a recent influential report that the Fulani herdsmen have adopted “a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP and demonstrate a clear intent to target Christians and potent symbols of Christian identity.”

Meanwhile, Nigerian reporter Akin Osuntoku writes, “Today, a new breed of herdsman has emerged: an aggressive and murderous terrorist bearing sophisticated firearms such as AK-47s and even rocket launchers. And they become the mobile avant-garde army of political Islam in Nigeria. Given the country’s porous borders, many of them are recent immigrants from neighboring countries. Herdsmen from Niger, Chad and Mali can walk across the border and immediately lay claim to all the sacrosanct rights appertaining to bona fide Nigerian nationals.”

Because of the aggression of these brutal jihadi groups, and thanks to the muted response of the world’s most powerful nations, Nigeria’s tragic stories never seem to stop. For that reason, reflecting FRC’s increasing alarm over untold numbers of abused and neglected Christians, we invited Richard Ikiebe to the Values Voter Summit to participate in a conversation with us from his Nigeria home. His words bring to life the ongoing struggle he and his fellow believers are facing:

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How Should Christians Use Social Media?

by Claire Gatzke

October 2, 2020

In a world ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more of our communications with family, friends, and others are happening online, including our political discourse. With more of our speech happening through social media, we need to evaluate our social media “speech” in light of God’s Word.

With the 2020 election fast approaching, the number of political posts on Facebook and other social media platforms increases day by day, with each side posting things in condemnation of the other. As Christians, we have a responsibility to engage politically on social media in a way that is glorifying and honoring to God. But what does this mean? As Christians, how does the command to love our neighbors affect how we use social media?

Speak the Truth, Even When It’s Unpopular

One way of loving our neighbors is to speak the truth in love. With both candidates appealing to Scripture and claiming that it supports their policy proposals, the question of Christian faithfulness is at the forefront of this upcoming presidential election. Because only 6 percent of Americans hold a biblical worldview, many are unsure which candidate is more in line with God’s Word. As God’s ambassadors, we must be true to his message and be faithful in proclaiming it in a way that reflects His character.

This means not shying away from posting controversial or unpopular things on social media. We must be bold in our affirmation that the Lord’s statutes are good, holy, and just. As Paul wrote in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” Not only must we not be ashamed of the reality that we are all sinners who can only be saved through belief in Jesus’ death and resurrection, but we also must not be ashamed of anything that God’s Word says is true, including His teachings that are unpopular in our culture. In a society that is increasingly hostile to the truths of God’s Word, we must be bolder than ever both online and in person.

Verify Your Sources

The need to speak the truth offers another guideline as to what we should post on social media. We live in an age of disinformation where it is harder than ever to discern fact from fiction. We must humbly recognize the limitedness of our intellect, acknowledge the possibility that we could be deceived by false information and try to protect ourselves from falling victim to this.

Before posting or resharing something on social media that makes a factual claim, it is wise to double check the source. If it is not a reputable source, it needs to be vetted. What is the source’s background? Do they have reliable information and connections that would bolster the veracity of their claims? Do they have expertise? If not, avoid sharing. As Paul wrote in his letter to Titus, Christians must have “soundness of speech that cannot be condemned” (Titus 2:8). This means that our speech, including the posts we share and claims we make on our social media platforms, must be based on valid reason and good judgment.

Be Respectful

Speaking the truth in love also means that we must be respectful of those with whom we disagree. In 2020, it seems like there is more to disagree on than ever before. Not only is there disagreement between the two main political parties and between the church and the secular culture, but there is also disagreement within the church itself ­—on everything from wearing masks to what political and moral issues are most important. Despite our ideological differences, we must show grace and love to those who disagree with us —even if they are not showing grace and love towards us.

Very practically, this means that we should refrain from writing or sharing inflammatory posts about someone else or responding in anger to people online. We can and should attack false and evil ideas, but we must not attack the people deceived by them. As James explains, “with the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be” (James 3:9-10). Before posting something on social media, ask yourself whether you are being respectful towards those who think differently than you, whether they be your fellow Christian or a non-believer.

Even if other professing Christians and those we agree with politically are not following these principles, Christians have a responsibility to follow what God’s Word says. As Martin Luther said, “Be careful not to measure your holiness by other people’s sins.”

Full of Grace, Seasoned With Salt”

In today’s world, we have many opportunities to interact with non-believers and share the truths of the Bible quickly through the internet and social media. However, we need to make sure that our use of these tools does not cause more harm than good. Before posting something on social media we need to ask ourselves: “Would posting this damage my witness to my friends, family, and coworkers who follow me?” As Paul said in his letter to the Colossians, “Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversations be always full of grace, seasoned with salt” (Col. 4:5-6). Just as we pray for wisdom and discernment in our interactions with people in person, we need to pray and let God lead us in how we should present ourselves and communicate with others online.

At the end of the day, it is important to remember that our chief goal is not to convince people we are right or persuade others of our position; our chief goal is to glorify God. While speaking the truth is no doubt a part of how we glorify God, the way we speak that truth and the way we speak towards others and about others is equally important. Brothers and sisters, in this election, let us speak the truth loudly and lovingly.

Claire Gatzke is a Policy & Government Affairs intern focusing on biblical worldview.

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Communities Need Good Citizens to Flourish

by Molly Carman

October 1, 2020

Most people are citizens of someplace, either by birth or by choice, and with citizenship comes certain responsibilities. But what does it mean to be a good citizen? And how should Christians balance their primary allegiance to the kingdom of heaven with their earthly obligations to their communities and countries? This six-part blog series, produced under the direction of David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview, aims to explore how Christians can best steward these responsibilities from a biblical worldview. Learn more at FRC.org/worldview.

This is part 3. Read part 1 and part 2.

Being a good citizen isn’t easy; it takes work, conviction, and determination to uphold truth, reform shortcomings, and seek justice. However, despite the inherent difficulty of good citizenship, good citizens are essential for any community to flourish.

Communities need the good citizenship of their Christians. Although Christians are first and foremost citizens of heaven, we are not called to sit back and passively accept whatever is happening within our communities. Like the Israelites in exile at the time of the prophet Jeremiah, we ought to “seek the welfare of the city” where God has placed us, and “pray to the LORD on its behalf,” because our welfare is bound up in its welfare (Jeremiah 29:7).

It can be tempting to think that our civic engagement is unnecessary because we have the assurance that God is in control. However, confidence in God’s sovereignty does not give us a license to be lazy or passive, as Scripture makes abundantly clear. Christians have an active role to play in our communities as we “let our light shine before men” (Matthew 5:16), modeling for our neighbors what it looks like to fear God and honor those in authority (1 Peter 2:13-17). When the work of good citizenship is hard or unpopular, we should not shrink back in fear, “for God has not given us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).

While many aspire to be good citizens and expect the same of their neighbors, the truth is, not everyone wants to do the hard work of being a good citizen themselves. Doing the right thing often requires endurance, courage, and resolve, which is partly why we have bad citizens. Most bad citizens are passive, contributing little to the flourishing of their community. Meanwhile, they selfishly expect good citizenship from their neighbors so they can reap the benefits of a thriving community while doing none of the work.

An essential quality that works in tandem with good citizenship is unity. If citizens are self-interested and rely upon their neighbors to do the hard work of good citizenship, the people will be disunified and the community will suffer. As citizens work together for the good of their community, the people thrive, and there is peace. Christ touched on the importance of unity when He said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand” (Matthew 12:25).

Sin affects every area of life, including our citizenship. Many bad citizens are bad not because they misunderstand good citizenship, but because it is far easier to lean into our human brokenness and think that others can “make up” for our lack of contribution.

Christian reader, do not be fooled; it is not just non-Christian citizens who can be passive. Regrettably, some Christians think that, because God is sovereign, they do not need to play an active role in their communities. They fall for the fallacy that what we do does not matter. However, God invites His people to be part of His work in His world—which includes our communities—for His glory.

During the election, American Christians might be tempted to use God’s sovereignty as an excuse to disengage or not vote. But passivity is the wrong choice. It is not up to politicians, lawyers, and organizations to seek the welfare of our country, states, and cities. Rather, it is the responsibility of all citizens. Taking on this responsibility requires intentionality, discernment, and actively engaging our minds to consider how our prayers, conversations, and votes will further the peace of our communities and the flourishing of our neighbors. Good Christian citizens who are actively engaged and deliberate about their contributions to their communities set a clear example of the gospel message of hope.

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Presidential Order Recognizes All Newborn Life is Precious

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP , Ruth Moreno

September 30, 2020

On September 25, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) that reinforces existing protections for children born premature, with disabilities, or in medical distress, including infants who survive abortion. The Executive Order on Protecting Vulnerable Newborn and Infant Children responds to credible concerns that some hospitals have refused to provide medical screening and stabilizing treatment to such children because “they believe[d] these infants may not survive, may have to live with long-term disabilities, or may have a quality-of-life deemed to be inadequate.” However, such refusals violate multiple federal laws, as the EO explains.

An EO is not a new law. Rather, it is a directive from the president instructing the executive branch on how to enforce existing law. This particular EO is primarily concerned with ensuring the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) properly enforces three existing laws:

Specifically, HHS must ensure:

  • all federal funding recipients understand their obligations toward vulnerable children;
  • all federal funding recipients provide medical screening examinations, stabilizing treatments, or transfers when needed;
  • all federal funding recipients provide these services to all children, regardless of disability;
  • violation complaints regarding medical care for newborns and infants are investigated;
  • disability discrimination complaints can be filed on the HHS website; and
  • research into treatments for infants born with emergency medical conditions and programs that train medical personnel to care for said infants are prioritized.

This EO clarifies medical protocols for infants born with disabilities or who survive abortion. However, the executive branch is limited to enforcing the laws that already exist. A legislative fix is necessary to provide true legal protections for infants who survive abortion. Since 2006, five states have reported at least 179 cases in which an infant has survived an abortion. Because not all states report this data, the 179 cases we do know about do not even begin to paint the full picture of the number of abortion survivors in the United States. The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act is a bill before Congress that would legally require medical professionals to give the same level of care to infants that survive abortion as they would to any infant born at the same gestational age, and include criminal and civil penalties for any physician that fails to give appropriate care to these infants.

Unfortunately, pro-abortion politicians have fallen victim to the abortion industry’s lies. They have halted every effort in Congress to denounce infanticide and provide full legal and medical protection for these innocent babies. Vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) voted against this life-saving measure twice, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has continuously blocked Republican efforts to have a House floor vote on the bill.

Congress has neglected its duty to ensure that the right to life is secured for all individuals born in America. President Trump has stepped in to fill the void left by Congress’ inaction by issuing this Executive Order, demonstrating this administration’s willingness to do what is necessary to protect the unborn, the disabled, and every infant who has survived the horror of abortion.

Connor Semelsberger, MPP is the Legislative Assistant at Family Research Council.

Ruth Moreno is a Policy and Government Affairs intern focusing on federal legislative affairs, with a concentration on pro-life issues.

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Discerning the Differences Between Good and Bad Christian Citizenship

by Molly Carman

September 29, 2020

Most people are citizens of someplace, either by birth or by choice, and with citizenship comes certain responsibilities. But what does it mean to be a good citizen? And how should Christians balance their primary allegiance to the kingdom of heaven with their earthly obligations to their communities and countries? This six-part blog series, produced under the direction of David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview, aims to explore how Christians can best steward these responsibilities from a biblical worldview. Learn more at FRC.org/worldview.

This is part 2. Read part 1.

Sometimes, one of the best ways of understanding something is understanding what it is not. For example, we can better understand light when we compare it to darkness, and hot when we compare it to cold. The same is true of citizenship; Christians can grow in our understanding of good citizenship by understanding what bad citizenship is.

In the first blog of this series, we discussed two flawed Christian views regarding citizenship. The first says anyone who does not obey or uphold the governing authorities’ values and principles is a bad citizen. The second believes everyone is a bad citizen unless they are a Christian living in a Christian nation. As we discussed before, both schools of thought are flawed.

According to the first view, anyone who hid Jews in their home and did not report them to the Gestapo were bad citizens of Nazi Germany. However, defying the authorities in this case and refusing to participate in genocide was the right thing to do, even though it made such people “bad citizens” in the eyes of the government.

No government is entirely Christian. Therefore, if we held the second view, we would be forced to conclude that no one qualifies as a good citizen, not even Christians. This second view is flawed, because people can be good citizens even if their governments are flawed.

Christian citizens must come to terms with the reality that sometimes being a good citizen of heaven may require being a “bad” citizen in the eyes of their government and countrymen. Christians are simultaneously called to love our neighbor (Matthew 22:39), honor the governing authorities (Romans 13:1-7), and honor God above man (Acts 5:29). Because our ultimate allegiance is to God, complying with earthly laws that go against God’s law is entirely out of the question for us.

There are three primary disciplines that Christians must practice when discerning whether they must choose to be a “bad” citizen of earthly governments in order to be a good citizen of heaven.

First, consider what Scripture has to say about what is being asked of you. In Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego chose not to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue because this went directly against God’s command, “you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image” (Deuteronomy 5:7-8). Scripture should always be our guide when decerning whether to obey earthly orders.

Second, consider what your fears are and how they influence your decisions. Sometimes, complying with the governing authorities is the easiest option but not the most God-honoring one. Christ told us, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Choosing to be a good citizen of heaven will often require sacrifice, pain, and courage.

Third, seek counsel and pray for wisdom. Jesus promised his disciples and all future believers that, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13). Because we are citizens of heaven, we can have confidence that we will not be led astray as long as we seek Christ.

Christian citizens should implement these three principles into our thinking as we engage politically. Even though our fear, uncertainty, frustration, or apathy might make it tempting to mentally check out of this fall’s election and not vote, we must choose the hard thing and engage. We should do so, remembering that “if anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5).

We are not automatically good citizens—of earthly governments or of heaven—simply because we are Christians. And sometimes, being a good citizen of heaven can look like bad citizenship in the eyes of the world. Thankfully, we have an opportunity to be good citizens as we read God’s Word and listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we seek to discern good citizenship from bad.

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Armenia: An Unwelcome Conflict and a Call to Prayer

by Lela Gilbert

September 28, 2020

How familiar are most Americans with the ancient country of Armenia? It’s probably best recalled because of the great tragedy that took place there in the early 20th century—the Armenian Genocide. That massacre of some 1,500,000 Armenian Christians (along with the murder of around 750,000 Greek Christians) took place between 1914 and 1922.  

In recent days, violence has erupted once again in Armenia’s corner of the world. This involves Christian Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh versus Muslim Azerbaijan. And now, Islamist Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has entered the fray, fueled by his dream of a neo-Ottoman caliphate.

On Monday, September 28, Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW) News reported:

Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused each other of reigniting their decades-long conflict in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh after fresh violence erupted in the breakaway region.

The two sides resumed open conflict again on Monday morning with the use of heavy artillery. Outbreaks of violence had continued through the night, according to the Armenian Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan.

During night battles continued with different intensity. Early in morning, Azerbaijan resumed its offensive operations, using artillery, armored vehicles, TOS heavy artillery system,” Stepanyan wrote on Twitter…

At least 31 people — both civilians and military — have died in fighting that erupted on Sunday between Azerbaijani forces and Armenian rebels in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, officials said.

The early 20th century genocides, which were carried out by the Ottoman Turks, are widely understood to have been a jihad against Armenian Christians. In fact, at the time, the killings were declared as jihad by the Turks themselves. And according to my conversation today with a friend in Yerevan, Azerbaijan’s present invasion is perceived by Armenians as more of the same.

There are deeply rooted historical reasons for this understanding.

Armenia, which is now surrounded by Muslim countries, was the first country in the world to convert to Christianity—in 301 AD. Its Armenian Orthodox Church is rooted in the earliest Christian history. In fact the biblical record of Armenia’s land stretches back to the book of Genesis, when Noah’s ark came to rest after the Great Flood on what came to be known as Mt. Ararat.

At the time those 1,500,000 Armenian souls were massacred at the end of World War I during the Genocide, Armenia’s historic possession of Mt. Ararat also was overturned by Turkey. Ever since, the mountain has remained a potent symbol both of Armenia’s spiritual heritage and terrible forfeitures.

And now—as of today—conflict is again exploding against Armenia, including the little-known Armenian enclave called Nagorno-Karabakh. This separate remnant of Armenia—some 20 miles away from the existing border—was created by policies of the former U.S.S.R., when ethnic and religious groups were intentionally split apart.

In the early 1990s, Nagorno-Karabakh’s Christian communities were attacked by neighboring Azerbaijan, Azeri Turks, and other Muslim fighters. This conflict was widely understood by the Armenians as an extension of the earlier 20th century “jihad.” Miraculously, in a David vs. Goliath finish, Karabakh won that conflict—against all odds.  

During a visit to Nagorno-Karabakh a few years after that battle, I learned that the conflict was clearly not just about land. There was a Muslim/Christian component as well. And there were, in fact, jihadi elements among the Azeri-Turks fighting against Armenia’s Christians. Tragically, some 30,000 died in that little-known war.

And now, Turkey’s ambitious Islamist President Erdogan has declared Armenia as “the biggest threat to peace in the region.” His latest posturing threatens Armenia and Karabakh, both of which are almost entirely Armenian Orthodox Christian.

As I wrote for The Jerusalem Post a few months ago:

Turkish aggression in at least five countries has been headlined in international news reports just this month, June 2020. These accounts focus on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest intrusions into Israel, Libya, Iraq, Syria and Greece.

Meanwhile, it is noteworthy to those of us who focus on international religious freedom that whenever Turkey moves in, religious freedom moves out. There can be no lasting freedom of worship for any faith unless it conforms with Turkey’s Islamic practices.

Now we can add Armenia to the list of Erdogan’s ambitions. Based on his recent hostilities, his transformation of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia and Chora Church into mosques, and his frequent expressions of triumphalism, a couple of serious questions arise:   

Does Erdogan think that Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, which are ancient Christian historical heritage sites, represent yet another Hagia Sophia-type landmark? Does he feel driven to seize, Islamize, and declare them as yet more trophies for his neo-Ottoman Empire?

Those questions seem to be clearly answered in a report from Asia News:

Turkey has sent 4,000 Syrian Isis mercenaries from Afrin to fight against the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh. A few days ago land convoys reached Turkey and then Azerbaijan by air. The salary is 1,800 US dollars a month, for a duration of three months. A leader of the Syrian terrorist group said: “Thanks to Allah, from September 27 until the end of the month another 1000 Syrian mercenaries will be transferred to Azerbaijan”.

With another dangerous religious conflict exploding across that war-torn region, let’s remember to pray for our Armenian Christian brothers and sisters. May religious freedom truly flourish in their corner of the world as well as elsewhere around the globe.

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What Does it Mean to be a Christian Citizen?

by Molly Carman

September 28, 2020

Most people are citizens of someplace, either by birth or by choice, and with citizenship comes certain responsibilities. But what does it mean to be a good citizen? And how should Christians balance their primary allegiance to the kingdom of heaven with their earthly obligations to their communities and countries? This six-part blog series, produced under the direction of David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview, aims to explore how Christians can best steward these responsibilities from a biblical worldview. Learn more at FRC.org/worldview.

The present election season is an ideal time to consider how to best steward our citizenship in a manner consistent with our Christian convictions and values.

Before we proceed further in our discussion of good citizenship, let’s consider two flawed Christian views of citizenship in order to establish boundaries for our discussion. The first says good citizenship means obeying the governing authorities to the highest degree. The second says good citizenship is only possible if you are a Christian living in a Christian country. Both of these perspectives have serious shortcomings.

First, being a good citizen is not dependent on strict government obedience in all things because a government could command you to perform a moral evil. For example, in Nazi Germany, upholding the values and obeying the orders of the regime meant aiding and abetting the attempted extermination of the Jews.

Second, being a good citizen is not dependent on being a Christian or living in a Christian country. This position was tested in 380 AD when Theodosius I declared Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. However, coerced conversions are inauthentic. Even in the politically “Christian” Roman Empire, not all citizens were true Christians. Therefore, living in a “Christian” country cannot be a prerequisite for being a good citizen because no exclusively Christian country has ever existed. Furthermore, there are clearly good citizens who are not Christian, and there are Christians who are not good citizens.

Although Christians are currently citizens of various countries here on earth, we are ultimately citizens of the kingdom of heaven. Philippians 3:20 says, “But our citizenship is from heaven.” In one sense, Christians who embody the values of the eternal kingdom of heaven should be the very best citizens of the temporal kingdoms of this world.

In Romans 13, the apostle Paul writes to the church in Rome about honoring and living under governing authority on earth. He says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” In other words, Paul teaches that although we are citizens of heaven, God has placed us here on earth to be ambassadors of Christ. Being a good citizen of the kingdom of heaven involves respecting the authority of those God has placed in positions of power.

In one of his letters, the apostle Peter tells Christians in exile to, “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people, live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:13-17). This admonition to submit to authority is an opportunity for Christians to practice living under the authority of Christ and being a good citizen of heaven while being a citizen in the world.

If Christians are to submit to the governing authorities, what should we make of Nazi-era German citizens who followed orders and participated in killing Jews? Dietrich Bonhoeffer was faced with this dilemma—should he obey or oppose those in authority over him? He recognized that doing evil in service of the earthly authority over him would be disobedience of God. Being a good citizen of heaven may not always perfectly align with being a good citizen in the eyes of the world. In the eyes of the Nazis, Bonhoeffer was a bad citizen of Germany because of his actions opposing his nation; however, he was a good and faithful citizen of heaven because he honored and obeyed the highest authority—God.

Therefore, a good Christian citizen is someone who fears God, trusts His sovereign wisdom, and respects the earthly authorities He has set in positions of power—as long as the commands of the earthly authorities are not at odds with God’s commands. Christians are loyal to God and His heavenly kingdom first, which often means submitting to authority and being good citizens here on earth.

The writer of Hebrews reminds us that, “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come” (13:14). This is our eternal hope! But this encouragement is not an excuse for apathy while we still live as citizens of our temporal countries. Like the exiled Israelites, we should “seek the welfare of the city” in which God has placed us (Jeremiah 29:7).

Part of being a good citizen here on earth means caring for our neighbors, engaging in our communities, and being educated about our country’s political leaders and policies. As the U.S. elections approach, America’s Christians should carefully read and review the party platforms and policies of the candidates and make a well-informed vote. Christians should demonstrate their citizenship of God’s heavenly kingdom by being the best earthly citizens they can be.

Molly Carman is a Research Assistant at Family Research Council who focuses on developing a biblical worldview on issues related to family and current events.

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FRC On the Hill (September 21-25)

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP

September 25, 2020

Issues related to life, family, and religious freedom continue to be debated in Congress in the lead up to the election. Family Research Council wrapped up another busy week monitoring these issues and being your voice on Capitol Hill. Here are the biggest items from the past week:

Senate Seeks to Save Moms and Babies

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) made a unanimous consent request for the Senate to pass the Support and Value Expectant Moms and Babies (SAVE) Act, which would codify the safety restrictions (risk-evaluating and management strategies, or REMS) placed on chemical abortion pills by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

First approved by the FDA in 2000 under pressure from the Clinton administration and its pro-abortion allies, chemical abortion pills are known to have serious complication risks, which can sometimes be life-threatening for the women who use them. The REMS impose several commonsense safety restrictions on the dispensing of chemical abortion pills, such as ensuring women receive the pills from physicians, are made fully aware of the associated risks, and know how to seek follow-up care from a doctor in the event of complications.  

Recently, some Democrats have pushed to repeal the REMS. In his remarks on the bill, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) noted that some Democrats advocate for chemical abortion pills being available by mail, with no additional information or care provided.

The risks chemical abortion pills pose to women are real, and they are serious. As Lee pointed out, “Women have suffered tragic, gruesome, and horrific experiences using the abortion pill.” Since its approval, abortion pills have caused over 4,200 medical problems, including more than 1,000 hospitalizations and nearly 600 life-saving blood transfusions. Twenty-four women have died from complications caused by abortion pills.

The repeal of the REMs would surely lead to greater harm to mothers. The SAVE Act should not be controversial, but pro-abortion Democrats have turned even the most basic conversations about women’s health into debates about Roe v. Wade. The truth is, Sen. Hyde-Smith’s bill says nothing about the 1973 Supreme Court decision.

As Lee said, “Something’s terribly wrong if we can’t have a conversation about women’s health without being accused of wanting to undo an entire line of precedent dating back to 1973.”

For those who care about expectant mothers’ health, Sen. Hyde-Smith’s bill is a welcome measure.

Untangling Government Subsidies for the Abortion Industry

Congress is taking steps to untangle Planned Parenthood from taxpayer subsidies.  Representative Michael Cloud (R-Texas) and Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) introduced the Women’s Public Health and Safety Act, a bill that would amend the Medicaid statute to give states the ability to exclude abortion businesses from participating in Medicaid.

Medicaid is a joint federal-state program that provides health care coverage for millions of low-income Americans. The Hyde Amendment does prohibit federal Medicaid funds from paying for elective abortions directly. However, Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses will perform other services besides abortion and are reimbursed for those services with a mix of federal and state Medicaid funds.

The most recent report published by the Government Accountability Office revealed that in 2015 Planned Parenthood received $414.37 million in federal Medicaid reimbursements alone! Although the funds cannot be used to pay for abortions directly, these funds subsidize the abortion industry by allowing abortion facilities to be reimbursed for other services they perform, which then frees up other money to hire abortionists, pay for abortions, or build abortion facilities.

Fourteen states have attempted to exclude Planned Parenthood from participating in Medicaid, but because of a provision in the federal Medicaid statute, all of these efforts have been blocked by federal courts. Now is the time for Congress to clarify the Medicaid statute once and for all and give states the ability to make their Medicaid program free from elective abortion.

Senate Bill Would Protect Female Athletes Nationwide

Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) introduced the Protection of Women and Girls and Sports Act, which would make it a violation of Title IX for a school receiving federal funds to permit a biological male to participate in a sports program designated for women and girls.

Title IX is well known for its expansion of educational and athletic opportunities for women. With this bill, Loeffler is taking action to block what may be the biggest threat to girls and women’s sports since Title IX was adopted—the effort by some biological males who identify as female to compete against biological females. In the state of Connecticut alone, female high school track athletes have lost 15 medals to biological males in state competition in the last two years, reducing their chances for college athletic scholarships in the process.

Loeffler is the perfect senator to introduce this bill. She is a grateful beneficiary of Title IX, having played basketball and run cross-country and track in high school. As an adult, she invested financially in women’s sports by becoming a co-owner of the Atlanta Dream of the Women’s National Basketball Association. Now, as a U.S. senator, she is seeking to protect the opportunities afforded by Title IX for future generations of female athletes.

Regardless of what one thinks about the transgender movement or “gender identity” protections in other areas of life, fair athletic competition demands a policy like the one outlined in the Protection of Women and Girls and Sports Act. It is great to see Sen. Loeffler and her bill’s co-sponsors standing up for the rights of women and girls.

Other Notable Items

  • The House took action to protect religious freedom in China by passing the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. The bill would require companies to prove that goods produced in Xinjiang, China, and imported to the U.S. are not made using forced labor of the Uyghur Muslim minority. It passed with near-unanimous support!
  • The House Judiciary Committee attempted to hold a hearing on oversight of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Division. However, it quickly turned into a partisan grandstand against Attorney General Bill Barr and his team of lawyers. Representatives Mike Johnson (R-La.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) did a great job defending DOJ’s work to protect religious freedom from aggressive state and local coronavirus lockdown measures. 
  • Acting United States Secretary of Homeland (DHS) Security Chad Wolf sat before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee in a nomination hearing to be confirmed into the role of DHS Secretary. The acting secretary has been a strong leader in protecting American cities against the recent threat of violent mobs and riots.

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FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of September 20)

by Family Research Council

September 25, 2020

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

1. Update: The Left’s anti-Christian Dogma Is Already Living Loudly within Them

With the recent death of Justice Ginsburg, politicians and members of the press have already launched a full-scale assault on Judge Amy Coney Barrett—who has emerged as a leading contender for the vacancy—for her faith and religious beliefs.

2. Update: Education to Form a More Perfect Union

With public schools going virtual, many parents are finally taking a closer look at what their children are learning. And it’s not pretty. Parents are realizing their kids are being taught almost exclusively from materials produced by progressive organizations and are not learning American history.

3. Blog: Should Christians Vote?

Do American Christians have a moral obligation to vote? If the gospel has implications for all areas of life, including politics, pastors should strive to ensure their members are equipped and sufficiently informed to faithfully engage in the public square.

4. Washington Watch: Dan McLaughlin on the historical precedent for Republicans to fill the Supreme Court vacancy in 2020

Dan McLaughlin, Senior Writer at National Review Online, joined Tony Perkins to discuss his column, “History is on the Side of Republicans Filling a Supreme Court Vacancy in 2020.”

5. Washington WatchSec. Betsy DeVos on President Trump’s efforts to restore patriotic education to American schools

Betsy DeVos, U.S. Secretary of Education, joined Tony Perkins to discuss President Trump’s efforts to restore patriotic education to American schools.

6. Washington WatchSharon Fast Gustafson on Kroger for firing employees who would not wear pro-LGBT aprons

Sharon Fast Gustafson, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) General Counsel, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the EEOC filing a lawsuit against the grocery company Kroger for firing employees who refuse to wear pro-LGBT aprons.

7. Values Voter Summit 2020: America, Pray Vote Stand

FRC Action hosted the first ever virtual Values Voter Summit this week. Viewers heard leading conservative voices like Dana Loesch, Mark Meadows, Eric Metaxas, Allie Stuckey, and many more! You can hear from these speakers as well by accessing the video archive.

For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.com, our Facebook pageTwitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad.

Family Research Council’s vision is a prevailing culture in which all human life is valued, families flourish, and religious liberty thrives. Join us to learn about FRC’s work and see how you can help advance faith, family, and freedom.

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The Fight Over Judicial Tyranny Is Asymmetrical

by Quena Gonzalez

September 25, 2020

The late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has not yet been laid to rest, but the political war over the vacant Supreme Court seat has already been joined. And for good reason. Both sides see the next Supreme Court appointment as an issue of existential proportions, but that obscures the central fact that their goals are asymmetrical:

The Left fears losing control of the Court’s super-legislative powers, while the Right seeks merely to neutralize them.

The ever-escalating war over Supreme Court picks has become a proxy fight over divisive issues like abortion, and for good reason. A supine Congress—under both parties—has steadily ceded its authority to the administrative state, and to activist judges, by failing to legislate or by passing broadly-written statutes that require interpretation and invite judicial review of their application. And activist judges have been happy to oblige, aided and abetted by the Left’s strategy to deploy judges as “super legislators” to force pet policy outcomes.

The solution is to defang the courts, and on this point there is some very good news for my friends on the Left: Reducing the courts’ over-weaning legislative power by appointing solid, originalist justices has been the right’s project since the 1980s. This will have the added benefit of increasing the Court’s reputation, as people observe modest jurists who follow the law instead of making it up as they go. It’s a win-win!

The Left should take heart that the Right’s project is not judicial annihilation but de-escalation, returning the debate over contested issues to the Congress and to the states, where such matters can (and ought to) be contested with electoral accountability.

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