Author archives: Daniel Hart

America Needs a Reality Check on Transgenderism

by Lisa

November 19, 2019

*Editor’s Note: This true account is the final part of a 6-Part series. Read Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4, and Part 5.

No, my brother is not a woman. His name is not Melissa. He is simply a guy named Josh who wants the freedom to cross-dress in public. And he should have that freedom. This is America, after all. Whether I like it or not, he does have the right to put on a dress and parade around town. But what he does not have is the right to make the rest of us deny reality by affirming that him donning a dress makes him an actual woman.   

Therapists previously viewed many forms of cross-dressing as a temporary way to ease stress and anxiety. This is easy enough to understand. People do all kinds of things to ease stress and anxiety. They drink. They eat too much junk food. They self-harm. But any healthy person understands that we should never take a compulsion being used to ease deeper pain and begin celebrating that compulsion as someone’s primary identity. Yet that’s what’s being done with my brother and everyone else who transitions.

Now, girls as young as 3 who like sports and trucks or say imaginative things like “I’m a fairy…I’m a ninja…I’m a boy” are being told by doctors (and celebrity moms like Charlize Theron) that they need to transition. Now, books like I Am Jazz that erroneously claim girls can be born with a boy’s brain and vice versa are being pushed on every child in public school (my 10-year-old was just told to read it in her school library recently). Pre-pubescent kids across the country are being put on powerful, reproductive-ending hormones to stop the onset of puberty. Teenagers are having their breasts removed and their penises cut off simply because they’re into things that are traditionally associated with the opposite gender.

Gender non-conformity is the very thing scores of people fought against for decades. I personally owe a debt of gratitude to those people. Because of their efforts, I myself grew up a strong, confident female who embraced her many traditionally “masculine” qualities. I am direct and opinionated. I am not afraid of confrontation. I’d rather watch an NFL game than attend a baby shower any day of the week. I majored in criminal justice in college. I worked with gang members in Chicago. A lot of my personal interests and life experiences would not be considered classically “feminine.” But just because I have many qualities and enjoy activities traditionally associated with the opposite gender does not mean I should become that gender. How silly of an idea is that?      

Girls can be interested in anything boys like. And vice versa. I made all three of my girls watch a Formula 1 race recently. Why? Because girls should be exposed to race cars…and football…and extreme sports usually dominated by males. This should all be obvious. Boys, likewise, can grow up to be hair stylists and preschool teachers and fashion moguls. Men should be applauded for having classically “feminine” qualities like being nurturing, intuitive, warm, and kind. They should never be told that possessing those qualities might make them transgender.

Even as our culture continues to push a message of female empowerment, we ignore one large caveat: Anyone can be female. Even the dude walking past you right now, (depending on how he feels later this afternoon). Meanwhile, trans men are just beginning an era of sports dominance as they continue to smash one girl’s athletic record after another. Read this article for more details on that.

My brother will say that gender is just a tiny part of who he is. (If so, why change?) But for him to think that he will “still be himself” if he becomes a woman is perhaps the craziest lie perpetuated by the trans cult. My brother is no longer a man named Josh. A man named for my grandfather—a hard-working immigrant who came to America to build a new life. My brother is now a false caricature of a female—a female who requires you to use certain pronouns in order to stay in relationship with him.

Of course he has his same personality and preferences. That’s a no-brainer. But to claim that one’s gender doesn’t ultimately matter in the grand scheme of things shows just how far this madness has come. I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have married my husband if he weren’t male. And, as a married woman, I wouldn’t be going to lunch with my girlfriend this afternoon if she weren’t female. Tell my mother that it doesn’t matter if the son she raised for almost four decades is now suddenly her “daughter.”  

The pain and suffering that my parents and our extended family and friends have endured as a result of this denial of reality could only be labeled cruel and unusual punishment.  

We love my brother dearly. We want him to get the professional help he needs. But because the trans lobby has co-opted the American Psychological Association, that is no longer possible. For a therapist to recommend anything other than a gender transition for someone like my brother is no longer an option. While LGBT activists are working to make it illegal for professionals to help someone who wishes to change from homosexual to heterosexual, the professions are moving toward making it virtually mandatory to assist anyone who wishes to change from male to female.

And now that the trans lobby also convinced the World Health Organization to eliminate the mental illness of “gender identity disorder” altogether, we are truly in new territory. According to therapists, my brother no longer has any problem at all. It is only those of us who won’t acknowledge that he is now a woman named Melissa who have the problem.  

My brother looks more and more like me with every month that passes. Cross-sex hormones are really quite effective. It’s stunning and disturbing. No family should ever be subject to what my family has experienced.  

It’s time someone stands up against the trans cult and says “no more.”

We cannot continue to deny physical reality simply because the therapists, doctors, and now the tech companies have all been co-opted by the trans lobby.

I love my brother. But love does not mean supporting him as he slowly destroys himself. I have a dear friend who’s an alcoholic. I love and support this friend. I do not, however, show my love and support by driving her to bars. Love means speaking the truth. Even if it gets you booted off Twitter. Even if it gets you death threats.

My brother, along with hundreds of thousands of trans people across the globe, are being grossly taken advantage of on their quest for a personal identity. They long for a group to belong to, a meaningful cause to work toward. My brother and his wife (like so many others) believe they have found these things in the LGBTQ community.

The trans cult has embraced them; and they now show their allegiance to this cult by spouting its dogma via lengthy social media diatribes about affirming your child’s preferred gender. My brother leads seminars on diversity and inclusivity even as he gives a decidedly non-inclusive ultimatum to his parents: Either acknowledge I’m Melissa or have limited access to your grandchildren going forward.   

My brother keeps saying this is “his” story to tell and his alone.

It’s not.

It’s my story.

It’s the story of my family—a family that’s been ripped apart because of one man’s choice to embrace his True Self. It’s the story of a community in the Midwest where each person was forced to make a decision: either support the transgender madness and win accolades in popular culture or refuse to deny reality and risk being called intolerant and “transphobic.” It’s the story of a country so lost and confused they can no longer even agree upon the very nature of reality itself.    

This is your wake-up call, America.

It’s time to take your story back.

The Regressive Cult of Transgenderism

by Lisa

November 18, 2019

*Editor’s Note: This true account is Part 5 of a 6-Part series. Read Part 1Part 2Part 3, and Part 4.

Our country understands that Scientology is a cult. But we still don’t seem to understand how much the transgender movement mirrors cults like Scientology. Scientologists call people who seek to “impede the progress of Scientology” suppressive people. Likewise, my brother and his wife deem people who don’t fully embrace Melissa “unsafe.” This would include both sets of their children’s grandparents. Why are these sweet, loving grandparents being called “unsafe”? Because they refuse to affirm my brother as Melissa and use she/her pronouns. In other words, they are impeding the progress of the transgender movement.

Calling everyone who doesn’t support the trans movement “unsafe” or worse yet, “transphobic” is beyond ignorant. People like me who strongly disagree with trans ideology do not have a “phobia.” I am not afraid of trans people. I love them. I am related to them. Anyone who mocks or threatens someone whose lifestyle they disagree with is obviously wrong. Trans people should never be made fun of or bullied in any way. They are dealing with enough as it is.

But all of America is now blindly embracing the trans cult and silencing those who won’t get on board. They tell us we’re guilty of “hate speech” if we “misgender” someone. I am told I am hateful even though I have nothing but love for my brother. I am sad that he believes this is the answer to his identity crisis when any thinking person can see it’s another dead end.    

A girl recently commented to me in an email how unfortunate it is that I’m not “getting along with my sister.” I do not have a sister. I have not had a sister during the 40 years I’ve been alive on this planet. Yet a few years from now, if we continue on the same track we’ve been on, I will likely be considered the mentally ill one for refusing to acknowledge I have a sister named Melissa.

My brother, on the other hand, will be sitting pretty. Quite literally. In his dresses, with his heels and makeup, playing the part of some old, outdated female stereotype that you would think had been long since eradicated from such a progressive, forward-thinking, equality-minded country.

Transgenderism reinforces everything feminists have spent their entire lives fighting against. It promotes ridiculously outdated gender stereotypes (being a woman means putting on a skirt and heels). Yet now, even life-long feminist icons are having their social media accounts suspended for saying things like, “A man cannot be a woman.”  

Sheila Jeffreys, a lesbian feminist scholar and former professor of Political Science at the University of Melbourne writes in Gender Hurts: A Feminist Analysis of the Politics of Transgenderism that sex reassignment surgery is actually “an extension of the beauty industry offering cosmetic solutions to deeper rooted problems.”

Amen to that.

Jeffreys argues that the “vast majority of transsexuals still subscribe to the traditional stereotype of women” and that by transitioning medically and socially they are constructing a “fantasy” of what a woman should be and are inventing “an essence of womanhood which is deeply insulting and restrictive.” Jeffreys believes trans woman are either “homosexual men who don’t feel they can be homosexual in the bodies of men” or are “heterosexual men who have a sexual interest in wearing women’s clothes and having the appearance of women.” (For more details on the latter, read Dr. Ray Blanchard’s work on autogynephilia.)  

Feminists have fought their entire lives to help real women who are being oppressed, tormented and abused by men. Now they’re being told to roll over and let a bunch of men join the group.  

This is part of why the original LGB community held off as long as they could before allowing the “T” in. Transgender individuals have a far greater likelihood of being diagnosed with mental illnesses when compared to their gay and lesbian counterparts. It was only after the trans lobby grew large enough to have a financial impact on LGB efforts in Washington that they were invited into the fold. Now even some gay and lesbian leaders are speaking out against the trans movement. They’re deeply troubled by what they see happening, especially as it concerns children being told to transition at increasingly younger ages after just a few visits to a therapist. Of course these gay and lesbian dissenters are having their voices silenced by the mainstream media and have had to join forces with conservatives to sound the alarm.

No empowered female could ever champion transgender ideology. It’s an insult to women the world over to suggest that because someone who has a penis puts on a dress and heels, it automatically makes him a woman. Any real woman knows we are not our clothes or shoes. We are not our hair or makeup. Outer beauty has nothing to do with us being female.

Read Part 6.

The Cultural Power of the Transgender Movement

by Lisa

November 15, 2019

*Editor’s Note: This true account is Part 4 of a 6-Part series. Read Part 1Part 2, and Part 3.

Telling a gender-confused person to transition is like telling someone with bulimia, “Look, we see you’re only 90 pounds and wasting away…but since you still think you’re fat, I guess you could get your stomach stapled if you think it’ll make you feel better.”

James Shupe, the first person to obtain a “non-binary” sex classification in America, has a lot to say about the evils of trans medicine. After taking cross-sex hormones for six years, he says it left him with an “eternally scarred psyche” and countless physical health issues. James’ therapist recommended he start on estrogen and testosterone blockers in 2013 because he was convinced he was a woman. In an article for The Daily Signal, James says, “I believed wearing a long wig, dresses, heels and makeup would make me a woman … The best thing that could have happened would have been for someone to order intensive therapy. That would have protected me from my inclination to cross-dress …  Instead, quacks in the medical community [said], ‘Your gender identity is female.’”

When James began the transitioning process, doctors and therapists told him he’d soon experience a boost in mental health. “It was just the opposite,” he says. “It destabilized my mental health because I was living in a false reality … I perfectly understand why this kills people and why there’s such high suicide rate … it’s the program itself that’s killing us.”

When becoming a woman didn’t provide James with the happiness he sought, he convinced a judge to declare him non-binary. As America’s first legally recognized non-binary individual, he shot to fame in the LGBTQ community. Their leadership rushed in to provide him with the money he’d need to fight additional legal battles (changing his name, changing the sex on his passport, etc.). Before long, millions of taxpayer dollars were being used to add a third “non-binary” sex option to driver’s licenses in 11 states.

But when James came out against the sterilization of gender-confused kids in 2017, the LGBTQ community immediately broke ties with him. He later de-transitioned and currently speaks out against trans medicine. He now admits, “All of my sexual confusion was in my head. I should have been treated. Instead, at every step, doctors, judges and advocacy groups indulged my fiction … the medical community is so afraid of the trans community … Trans men are winning in medicine and they’ve won the battle for language. Think of the word ‘transvestite.’ They’ve succeeded in making it a vulgar word, even though it just means men dressing like women. People are no longer allowed to tell the truth about men like me. Everyone now has to call us transgender instead.”

And James is right. Much as the language around addiction has been purposefully changed to absolve people of personal responsibility, the vocabulary around gender dysphoria has shifted too. It’s no longer politically correct to say a drug addict makes a choice to ingest opioids. We must instead say the person has a disease. We hear about the opioid “epidemic.” Language like this removes choice from the equation. Likewise, we can no longer call men who want to dress like women “transvestites” because that would imply they have a choice as to whether or not they cross-dress. The new lexicon demands we use the word “transgender” instead. This word implies that it’s not up to the person whether or not he cross-dresses. In fact, he has zero choice in the matter. His brain was born in the wrong body after all.  

As a 40-year-old female, I spent the last decade of my life after having children trying to get my hormone levels back on track. The ups and downs of estrogen and progesterone wreaked havoc on my body. Yet my brother is being prescribed these same dangerous and unpredictable hormones in large quantities. The host of health problems this can cause has been well documented and includes a reduction in fertility (and often sterility), plus increased risk of cancer, etc. Yet trans activists are now recommending that children start taking puberty blockers to stop their bodies from naturally producing any hormones beginning around age 8.  

One day hormone treatments and sex re-assignment surgeries will be recognized for what they are: the lobotomies of our time. We can now look back and see how insane it was to lobotomize thousands of Americans, but at the time the procedure made sense. Everyone was doing it. Read more about how the current transgender craze is like the lobotomies of yesteryear.

Read Part 5.

The Lies and Money Behind the Transgender Movement

by Lisa

November 14, 2019

*Editor’s Note: This true account is Part 3 of a 6-Part series. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

If we really believe that supporting others on their path to uncover their True Self is the best route for us to go as a society, what do you suppose our country will look like a decade from now?

Well, the number of “otherkin”—people who identify themselves as half-human, half other species—is growing. Men and women who believe they are half dragon, lion, or dog are popping up all over the globe. A man named John who identifies himself as a fox is requesting special legal rights that will accommodate him as an animal. A tech company employee who identifies as half cat recently filed an HR complaint with his employer for not providing litter boxes in the restroom.

If you support transgender rights and believe everyone should be allowed to self-identify as whatever they “feel” like inside, you must support otherkin rights. After all, who are we to say what someone’s subjective reality is?

Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly), a significant percentage of “otherkin” also identify as transgender. And just like transgender individuals, many otherkin are having surgery to look more like the animal or entity they identify with. Eva Tiamat Legion Medusa (formerly Richard Hernandez) is a transgender woman (born a man) from Texas who also identifies as half-dragon. Eva has spent over $60,000 on surgeries to look more like a dragon. This includes having his ears removed, his nose removed and most of his teeth removed. He’s had eight horns implanted into his forehead, his tongue bi-furcated and the whites of his eyes permanently stained green.

Eva says on his Facebook page, “I smile and I look in quiet contemplation and I say goodbye for good for the man I used to be …” He goes on to explain that he is posting the final photo from his old life, his life when he was still a man and a father to his young son. He says, “In shedding this part of my life that makes me human, I swing the pendulum even more towards my goal of becoming 100% my true self as a reptilian.”

Sound familiar?

Like Eva, my brother will likely have countless surgeries to modify his body to better represent his True Self. But instead of a reptile, he’ll morph into the more socially acceptable female. Trans women often seek out breast augmentation surgery, facial feminization surgery, a tracheal shave, voice feminization surgery, and last but not least, a vaginoplasty.

Because personal identity is now deemed “fluid” (thanks in large part to transgenderism), you can bet that more animals and mythical creatures (like Eva) will start appearing and seeking more legal rights in years to come.  

And if you can legally change your biological sex just because you feel like it, logic follows that you must be allowed to legally change anything about yourself since you and you alone determine your personal reality. This is how we end up with people like Martina Big and Michael Eurwen from Germany—the couple has received melatonin injections for many years in order to make their skin darker. Why? Because although reality would tell us they’re both Caucasian, they personally identify as African. 

If you google Martina Big, you will immediately notice a few things… namely, that she, like Eva, may have some mental health issues that have gone unaddressed. Not only has she spent many years attempting to transform herself into an African woman, she has also had 23 breast implants. Body modification is once again a common theme. So the real question is: Should we all play along with Eva and Martina’s delusions because only they can tell us who they really are? Or should we try to get people like this the help they so obviously need?

Even as American culture continues to spout a message of “body positivity,” my brother’s therapist (in conjunction with the trans medical industry) insist that his body is his problem, not his mind. They tell him that he must modify his body beyond recognition in an attempt to move deeper into his delusion.

Why would my brother’s therapist (and therapists all over the country) tell men who have a history of cross-dressing to take their compulsive behavior to its furthest extreme by ingesting dangerous cross-sex hormones for the rest of their lives?

Part of the reason is because there’s big money driving trans medicine.       

After trans medical research became popular in Europe in the early 2000s, doctors gained a new understanding of how they could make a financial killing by peddling a new “treatment” for the psychiatric problem of gender dysphoria.  

It’s not that these doctors weren’t genuinely trying to help people with gender dysphoria. It’s just that once money came into the equation, the trajectory of the industry changed. If you study the history of trans medicine, you’ll quickly discover that, as the machine grew bigger and people realized how many millions of dollars could be made off of people’s mental health struggles, those who opposed the idea of sex reassignment were silenced. This includes well respected Ivy League professors and medical industry leaders like Dr. Paul McHugh. McHugh was the Johns Hopkins doctor in charge of the first sex-reassignment surgery program in the U.S. Once McHugh reviewed the data and realized that going along with a patient’s delusion was proving more harmful than helpful, he shut the Johns Hopkins program down.

By that time, it was too late. What began as two clinics (one on either coast) that recommended sex reassignment surgery to people experiencing gender confusion had already begun to expand. Now there are clinics in almost every state offering these surgeries, and at least 13 states cover transition surgeries under Medicaid.

The sex reassignment surgery market is estimated to reach $968 million by 2024. The country of Thailand alone attracts 2 million transgender people each year to undergo sex reassignment. As a result, the country has a $4 billion medical tourism market. Packages that include medical and surgical expenses plus hotel accommodation start at $9,770.

In When Harry Became Sally, Ryan Anderson explains that when they followed people who had sex reassignment surgery over 30 years in Sweden (a culture that is strongly supportive of transgender people), those who had the surgery still claimed to struggle with severe mental unrest. The suicide rate of those who underwent surgery was 19 times higher than their comparable peers. He concluded that transitioning to the opposite gender does not produce the happiness people seek. Perhaps this is because their problems go much, much deeper.

More than 100 follow-up studies of post-operative transsexuals done by the University of Birmingham concluded none of the studies showed evidence that gender reassignment was beneficial. Even the Obama administration came to the same conclusion in 2016. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services conducted a thorough review of clinical studies and concluded there was not enough evidence to show that sex reassignment surgery benefitted its patients at all.

Read Part 4.

The Damaging Delusions of Identity Obsession and Erasure

by Lisa

November 13, 2019

*Editor’s Note: This true account is Part 2 of a 6-Part series. Read Part 1.

Now in American culture, instead of applauding people for showing restraint, we applaud them for throwing off restraint. Hence the thousands of Instagram followers now telling my brother things like “You go girl!” and “You’re going to make one beautiful woman!”

The logical problem with all this is that if a man is to be “supported and celebrated” as he embarks on the journey to his True Self, shouldn’t everyone be celebrated as they allow their true selves to flourish? If we do away with the concept of sin and human weakness and simply concede that everyone is inherently good, there is really no impulse that needs to be fought against. Ever. The porn addict may as well explore his True Self via his fetish of choice. The opioid addict too. And of course the married woman should be celebrated when she finally finds her True Self in the arms of another man. Then there’s the pedophile. What do we do with the man who claims (as many have) that their True Self is attracted to small children?

My brother and sister-in-law would immediately sayof course pedophilia is wrong.” Because, they argue, any behavior that would cause direct harm to others is automatically out of bounds. My brother would argue that the trans person, however, is not harming anyone by simply switching genders.

So let’s consider his argument. Would my brother—who has been a man for 37 years now—suddenly changing into a woman really not be harmful?

I suppose that depends on your definition of “harmful.”

Is it harmful to disrupt the mental, emotional, and physical health of dozens of family members and hundreds of friends for years and likely decades to come? Is it harmful to raise five young children in a state of psychological confusion in which the person that they thought was one thing (a man) has morphed into another, causing all of reality to lose any permanence? Is it harmful for five small children to try to comprehend how their parents—who were previously a heterosexual couple—are apparently now a homosexual one as their mom now refers to her husband as her “wife” and their dad refers to himself as a lesbian? Is it harmful for a husband who promised to love and cherish his wife to abandon all responsibilities as the man she thought she married? Is it harmful to deprive five children who previously had a father of any sort of father figure going forward? Is it harmful for a husband/father/son/brother to commit a slow form of suicide and then demand everyone accept some random woman take his place in the family?  

American culture currently says none of this is harmful. Why? Well, for starters they’d argue that the random woman who’s now asking to be part of my family has all the same likes and dislikes as the brother I knew before.

Is that what makes a person who they are? Their TV show preferences and favorite sports teams? If so, then most of my friends are interchangeable with millions of other people.

Ok, so maybe that doesn’t entirely work. Then, they’d say, the reason Melissa and Josh are the same person is because they share the same memories. It’s definitely a stronger argument. But once someone switches genders, they often attempt to erase a lot of their past history to some degree. They associate the person they were before (the person who wasn’t living as his/her “True Self”) with someone who was weak. My brother posted on social media that being Josh for 37 years was like one long “April Fools joke.” He called it the biggest joke of his life. So while Josh may share the same memories as Melissa, Melissa has made it very clear she would prefer not to ever think about Josh.  According to my brother’s wife, even hearing the name Josh makes them feel like they’ve been “punched in the stomach.”

This is why when you Google Bruce Jenner, you only get articles about Caitlyn. There is no Bruce. Bruce is gone. This is the story of everyone who falls under the spell of the trans cult. Their old life along with its past memories slowly disappear—first online and then everywhere else. I cannot find a single trace of the years my brother Josh spent on social media, even though he had a decade’s worth of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts. He’s gone.

This is why my mother looks through photos from my brother’s wedding 18 years ago, lamenting, “He was such a handsome man.” That man has made it clear to us that he is no longer alive. Only Melissa and whichever memories she chooses to incorporate into her narrative are living now.

Read Part 3.

The Cult of Transgenderism: My Brother’s Crisis of Identity in an America Gone Mad

by Lisa

November 12, 2019

The Abandonment of Reality and the Embrace of the “True Self”

*Editor’s Note: This is Part 1 of a 6-Part Series. The author of this true account, a wife and mother of three, wishes to remain anonymous. All names in this account have been changed.

Last year, my brother Josh, a 37-year-old married father with five kids under the age of 9, announced he was becoming a woman.

His wife, in turn, announced that she not only plans to stay married, but that she is “more proud of him” than she’s ever been. Actually, she said she is “more proud of her than she’s ever been.” That’s because my brother Josh changed his name to Melissa and now requires everyone to use “she/her” pronouns when referring to him. If the grandparents refuse to do this, they have been threatened with limited access to their grandchildren.

My brother and sister-in-law claim that through several years of therapy, they came to realize the truth: that Melissa was Josh’s “true self” all along.

Thus, my tall, handsome, muscular brother began taking strong female hormones that transformed him into a different person. His facial hair stopped growing. He grew breasts instead. As part of his “social transition” he began wearing dresses, wigs, heels, and makeup in public. He will have to stay on female hormones until the day he dies. He refuses to answer to the name Josh now—the only name anyone’s known him as for almost four decades. He says Josh is dead. There was even some type of symbolic “burial ceremony” to say goodbye to Josh once and for all. Unfortunately, I didn’t get invited to that. Nor did my parents. No one sent us flowers. No one dropped off a casserole.

Basically, the best way to describe what happens when a loved one decides to swap genders is this: It’s as though someone murders your loved one and then the murderer gets extremely angry if you won’t let them take the victim’s place in your family.

My family and I are now called “transphobic” for not embracing Melissa with open arms.

When I told my brother, “I’m sorry…I love Josh, but I cannot move forward with this new Melissa girl,” he simply texted me: “So long then.” So long to almost 40 years of relating as siblings. So long to weekly dinners at my parents’ home. So long to our kids growing up with their cousins. But I do not fault him or his wife for this. They are victims. They have been brainwashed by the trans cult. It all began with a therapist’s advice and ended with lifelong payments to the trans medical machine. There’s lots of money to be made in telling people to become the opposite gender. Lots. (More on that later.)

Oddly, even in this #MeToo era, American culture now tells me that my brother—who’s spent 37 years as a Caucasian male—now deserves the same rights and respects that I, an actual woman, deserve. I’m a woman who’s been sexually harassed hundreds of times in my 40 years of life. My brother was a star high school athlete who had his pick of girls to date. While I was fending off unwanted stares and groping hands of males in my 20s, he was enjoying all the perks of being just such a male in the 21st century. While I was giving birth to three babies who will grow up to be women in my 30s, he was joining the fight to get legal access to their public restrooms.

See, if my brother was claiming to be an alien or a time traveler instead of a woman, our culture would never support it. But since it’s 2019 and the denial of reality when it comes to biological sex is en vogue—countless people are blindly embracing Melissa as my brother’s “True Self.” Even though reality clearly proves my brother is male, people unabashedly deny reality out of fear of being called “intolerant.” They’re terrified of being lumped in with all the “Trump-supporting, LGBTQ haters.” They say things like, “If Josh tells us that this Melissa is actually his ‘true self,’ who are we to argue?”

The “True Self” has become the final measure of all things. Every book we open, every show we watch, every internet meme we read suggests we can all attain greater levels of health and peace through a deeper understanding and expression of our “True Self.”

It sounds so right. How can it be wrong?

In his book The Road to Character, David Brooks explains that back in the day, there was something called moral realism—a worldview that put an emphasis on human sin and human weakness. Biblical figures like David and Moses were seen as great leaders who were also deeply flawed. Augustine and the early church fathers talked constantly about the depravity of sin and the need for grace. Then around the 18th century, moral realism found a rival in moral romanticism. Romantics like Jean-Jacques Rousseau emphasized the inherent goodness of man and rejected the concept of sin.

Fast forward to the 20th century when books like Rabbi Joshua Liebman’s New York Times best seller Peace of Mind (published in 1946) urged people toward a new morality based on the idea that you should never repress any part of yourself as sinful. Instead, you should “love yourself” and not be afraid of your hidden impulses. Humanist psychologists ran with this idea. They began arguing that the primary problem for humans was no longer sin, but rather the fact that we weren’t fully accepting of ourselves exactly as God made us. This line of thinking led to the advent of the self-esteem movement in 1969, and the core of that movement morphed into what Charles Taylor calls “The Culture of Authenticity.” That’s the culture we’re contending with today.  

The central belief of the culture of authenticity goes something like this:

At the center of every one of us is a Golden Figure known as “the True Self.” The True Self can always be trusted. You know that what you’re doing is right when you feel an inner peace inside your True Self. You know that what you’re doing is wrong when you do not feel inner peace inside your True Self.

Because the True Self is inherently good, there is no sin to be found in it. Thus, sin is now found only in the external structures of society that seek to repress the True Self or stop it from fully emerging.

Previous generations believed the development of character and the road to salvation came by struggling against the desires of the True Self. This is why traits like selflessness and self-sacrifice were considered most admirable. But not anymore. Our culture now has a new “salvation”—with the True Self playing the role of redeemer. 

The steps to this “new salvation” are as follows:

  1. Relinquish any previous struggle you had against your True Self.
  2. Allow your ego/shadow self to fall away so your True Self can fully emerge without any guilt or shame (both of which are constructs of old, outdated religious systems).
  3. Adopt a new lexicon in which words like “sin” and “evil” now refer to the external constructs of society that caused you to doubt your True Self was good and perfect in the first place. (Thus, the only real sin a man is now capable of engaging in is the sin of intolerance.)

Yet many influential thinkers of the past, including John Stuart Mill, believed the point of life was to struggle every day to sacrifice the True Self on the altar of care and concern for others. This is done by achieving a series of small, inner victories against your own desires because you know that acting upon those desires could result in dire consequences for others.

Because we are all bound together through our good and bad choices, the smallest decisions we make today can negatively impact everyone in our sphere of influence, even reaching forward into generations to come. Thus, we build character by a thousand selfless acts of restraint every day that no one ever sees or applauds.  

Our society once believed this sort of self-restraint was the best way to live. Men and women were encouraged to exercise self-restraint in building a life of integrity. But the ideals of selflessness and self-restraint are now seen as hopelessly outdated and must be discarded in favor of the True Self.

Read Part 2.

What We Can Do to Support Human Rights for Chinese Citizens

by Daniel Hart

November 6, 2019

As we have recently written about and discussed on Washington Watch, the evidence is overwhelming. China is forcibly harvesting the organs of its own citizens while they are still alive. The exact number of people that have been killed is not known, but estimates are in the tens of thousands. It is estimated that the organ market that is generated by forced organ harvesting is making China $10 to 20 billion.

As our just-released Issue Analysis points out, these unspeakable crimes against humanity have mostly been perpetrated against religious minorities in China, particularly adherents to Falun Gong and ethnically Muslim Uyghurs.

While forced organ harvesting is the most barbaric form of persecution that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has committed against religious minorities, it is far from the only crime they are guilty of. The CCP was built on an extended reign of terror and mass murder that is unprecedented in the history of the world, so it should come as no surprise that they are using almost any means necessary to suppress dissent—especially of religious minorities who they see as a threat to their goal of total adherence from every single citizen to the atheistic communist ideology.

As we discuss in our new Issue Analysis, hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens whose only crime is the practice of a faith have been imprisoned. An estimated 800,000 to 2 million are being forcibly detained in “re-education” camps that are nothing more than forced indoctrination and torture camps. China has brutally enforced a one-child policy (it is now a two child policy) that was carried out through forced abortions and sterilizations for decades. The list of atrocities that the CCP has committed against its own people goes on and on.

What the American People Can Do to Affect Change

Despite the obvious evils that the CCP perpetrates on its own people, hundreds of American businesses continue to do business with China. It cannot be repeated enough: China is forcibly harvesting the organs of its own people for financial profit. The proof is as plain as day. How much more evil must the CCP commit to finally awaken the conscience of American businesses?

As we argue, there is much that can be done to pressure China from a public policy standpoint, including official condemnations, financial sanctions, renegotiating trade deals, and congressional action.

But the American people can do more than that. It is time for all American companies who do business with China to demand that basic human rights be restored to Chinese citizens or they will seriously consider ending their business partnerships.

American consumers have an important role to play in this. We can all contact the companies that we buy products from and demand that these companies do all they can to pressure the Chinese government to restore human rights to its citizens. Companies listen to the concerns of their customers. The more we demand change, the more companies will realize how concerned their customers are about the issue of human rights in China and the more likely it will be that they will consider changing their business dealings with China.

We American citizens have more power than we think we have. If we demand change from American companies who do business in China and use our purchasing power as leverage, we may be able to hasten the day when the Chinese people are finally free from government oppression.

Churches Are Sticky”: How Believers Can Help to Strengthen and Save Marriages

by Daniel Hart

October 23, 2019

Although the divorce rate in the U.S. has declined over the last few years, the raw number of divorces that continue to take place in America is still disturbingly high—an average of well over 800,000 per year. As a result, over one million children suffer the effects of their parents’ divorce every year.

Let’s not gloss over these statistics. As Dr. Pat Fagan has written, “The marriage between a man and a woman is the single most important human relationship. Period.” When that relationship is severed, particularly when children are involved, the result is often catastrophic—not only for the husband, wife, and children, but for society at large.

In an extensive synthesis of the major research on divorce, the Marriage & Religion Research Institute (MARRI) found that “[d]ivorce detrimentally impacts individuals and society in numerous ways across all major institutions.” This impact includes:

  • Family: Divorce permanently weakens the family and the relationship between children and parents. It frequently leads to the development of destructive conflict management methods, diminished social competence, the early loss of virginity, diminished sense of masculinity or femininity, more trouble with dating, more cohabitation, greater likelihood of divorce, higher expectations of divorce later in life, and a decreased desire to have children.
  • Religious practice: Divorce diminishes the frequency of worship of God and recourse to Him in prayer.
  • Education: Divorce diminishes children’s learning capacity and educational attainment.
  • The marketplace: Divorce reduces household income and deeply cuts individual earning capacity.
  • Government: Divorce significantly increases crime, abuse and neglect, drug use, and the costs of compensating government services.
  • Health and well-being: Divorce weakens children’s health and longevity. It also increases behavioral, emotional, and psychiatric risks, including even suicide.

What is most heartbreaking about divorce is how it affects children. Elizabeth Marquardt’s landmark book Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce presents an intimate portrait of how profoundly divorce affects the children caught in its snares, not just in their childhood years but throughout their entire adult lives.

As believers, what can we do to change the culture of divorce in our country?

The Critical Role Churches Play in Decreasing Divorce

As reported by Christianity Today, something amazing happened in the Jacksonville, Florida area between 2016 and 2018. In a coordinated campaign that involved about 50 Protestant and Catholic churches and 40 nonprofit organizations in Duval County, over 58,000 people took part in a variety of marriage enrichment events and programs over the course of those three years.

The results were astonishing. A report done by the Institute for Family Studies found that “‘divorce fell about 21 percent more in Duval County’ than in comparable counties across the United States” during the time of the marriage campaign.

JP De Gance, the head of the campaign, pointed out that what was unique about it was how it combined the forces of both secular nonprofits and local churches, who all had the shared goal of reducing the number of divorces in the Jacksonville area, which had a higher divorce rate than other comparable metro areas around the country before the campaign began. In particular, De Gance noted the “sticky” nature of relationships within church ministry compared with secular organizations:

What we later realized is that churches are the best at strengthening marriages. And the reason, using secular social science arguments, is that churches are sticky in a way that nobody else is sticky. And when you show up to your local Boys and Girls Club, a secular NGO, there isn’t a deep membership who is passionate about forming personal relationships outside of the programs that exist there. But with churches, that’s a huge part of what they do. So, if you go to a ministry at a church, you’re going to meet somebody, and they might invite you over for dinner. You might be invited back to join one of their small groups. You might be invited back for a service. You’ve got a deep reservoir of your membership passionate about forming one-to-one, life-changing relationships, which produces the stickiness that churches have over other NGO’s. So, in Jacksonville, churches made the difference.

3 Ways Churches Can Minister to Marriages

The success of this marriage campaign in Jacksonville is a great reminder of the power that we believers have to change lives and impact culture. Given its success, believers should take note of the content of the campaign and should consider imitating it in our own churches if possible. The main nonprofit partner that provided the programming of the Jacksonville campaign was Live the Life, which has excellent resources on ways to minister to engaged couples, enrich marriages, and heal marriages in crisis.

Here are some takeaways from this campaign that we can bring to our own churches to strengthen marriages and decrease divorce.

1. Ministering to and Mentoring Engaged Couples

A template for a strong marriage needs to be formed before a couple ties the knot. This in turn will make it less likely that married couples will be blindsided by major conflict that they did not anticipate years into their marriage, which could lead to divorce.

Obviously, it would be impossible to prepare for every major conflict that could arise within marriage, but there are ways to set healthy and realistic expectations for what marriage actually is and provide couples with ways to effectively navigate differences in their personalities and resolve conflicts.

One invaluable service that churches can provide for engaged couples is to implement a strong marriage preparation program. A key element of this can be to provide each engaged couple with an already married mentor couple from within the church congregation. Engaged couples can meet with their mentor couple weekly or monthly to discuss the particulars of what marriage looks like.

A mentorship program can be mutually beneficial for both couples. It’s a wonderful way for the engaged couple to benefit from the wisdom of the married couple and also for the married couple to be enlivened and enriched by the fresh perspective of the engaged couple. It’s also a great way for married couples to volunteer and be a part of an invaluable ministry within their home church.

2. Providing Marriage Enrichment Ministries

As JP De Gance pointed out, the Jacksonville campaign “illustrated to churches that this [marriage enrichment] is a gap in ministry, and that they need to fill that gap, and that we can resource them on how to do it.”

Every marriage, no matter how strong, is a journey of learning and discovery that never stops until death. But after many years of marriage, many couples tend to fall into patterns and habits that make them lose sight of the beautiful reality of marriage. That’s why every couple needs a shot in the arm from time to time to reinvigorate and enrich their marriage.

There are many marriage enrichment programs out there that churches can implement if they choose (a few are listed below). Another option is for your church to create your own ministry—here’s a helpful guide on starting your own.

3. Helping to Heal Marriages in Crisis

De Gance also noted another important aspect of offering marriage ministries: “[W]hile the churches were running ongoing marriage enrichment, folks who have serious problems would surface at those events.”

Marriages that are in serious crisis will need more help than a simple marriage enrichment small group, weekend, or retreat. These couples may need more professionalized help than what your church can offer. But simply offering a marriage ministry in the first place can be a springboard for these couples to fully face the deep crisis in their marriages instead of continuing to put it off.

Therefore, it will be important for your church to have resources available that you can refer these struggling couples to. Here is a brief list:

Let’s Make Evangelism Part of Our Everyday Lives

by Daniel Hart

August 30, 2019

As believers in Christ, how much is evangelism part of our everyday lives?

It’s a question that I have been asking myself a lot lately, especially in light of yet another discouraging poll that was released this past Sunday showing that over the last 20 years, the number of Americans who see religion and having children as “very important” is in steep decline (from 62 to 48 percent for religion and from 59 to 43 percent for having children).

The same poll also shows a substantial difference in the outlook of Millennial/Gen-Zers (ages 18-38) and the Boomers/Silent Generation (ages 55-91), who see patriotism, belief in God, and having children as “very important” at substantially higher rates than the younger generation. This does not bode well for the future of our country.

Overall, the poll found that Americans are increasingly angry, anxious, and unsatisfied. As believers called to witness to the gospel, we clearly have our work cut out for us.

Plentiful Harvest, Few Laborers

Whenever I come across fresh evidence like this of our country’s increasing godlessness and indifference to family life, I often think about Christ’s words in Matthew’s gospel: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest’” (Matthew 9:36-38).

They were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Isn’t that an incredibly fitting description of our culture right now? Christ’s next words haunt me no matter how many times I read them: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” There are so many souls out there who are lost, who are yearning for God without fully realizing what this hunger in their souls is for. Are we laboring amongst the plentiful harvest of these shepherdless sheep?

As believers, it’s easy to settle into a comfortable pattern in our faith lives. We find great solace and satisfaction in sharing our faith with our families, close friends, and church communities, as we should. While it’s true that a primary evangelistic responsibility is to pass the faith on to our children and to refuel our needy souls in our churches every week, it’s also true that many believers live their lives as though that is where their call to witness ends, myself included. What Jesus is calling us to is something even more far-reaching: to see the world as our mission field.

An Isolated and Lonely Culture

So how should we evangelize today’s culture? Should we stand on street corners with megaphones and loudly proclaim Christ while handing out leaflets?

I would argue that for most of us, this type of impersonal evangelism is not what we are called to. I believe we are called to a much more personal type of witness, one that focuses on individual connection and invitation during one-on-one interactions that happen in everyday life.

Why? Consider this: in one of the most astonishing studies released in recent memory, it was found that 46 percent of Americans reported “feeling lonely sometimes or always,” with 43 percent “feeling isolated from others, and the same number report[ed] feeling they lack companionship and their relationships lack meaning.”

Let’s let this sink in for a moment. Almost half of America is saying that they do not have meaningful relationships and often feel lonely and isolated. Now recall what the first study I discussed in the opening paragraphs found: fewer and fewer Americans consider raising a family and faith to be important. But families and faith communities are two of the biggest means by which people find true companionship and meaning in their lives, and thereby avoid loneliness!

Tragically, a large portion of the American populace does not appear to see the connection between what they value most in life and how those values affect their wellbeing. They are shunning society’s most fundamental institutions that provide authentic community and a sense of identity and belonging. Just how integral is family to this sense of identity? As Mary Eberstadt has written:

Up until the middle of the twentieth century (and barring the frequent foreshortening of life by disease or nature) human expectations remained largely the same throughout the ages: that one would grow up to have children and a family; that parents and siblings and extended family would remain one’s primal community; and that, conversely, it was a tragedy not to be part of a family.

As for faith, psychology professor Clay Routledge recently summed up his and his colleague’s findings about its unique importance:

Religion isn’t just like any organization or group that affords people the opportunity to socialize. Religion promotes a deeper feeling of mattering by teaching adherents that they have social duties to family, friends, and even strangers. Religious faith is an invisible thread that weaves individuals together into moral communities.

And yet, fewer and fewer Americans are seeing the value of family and faith. Is it any wonder that so many in our society are feeling increasingly isolated and alone?

The Essential Importance of Connection and Invitation

It is abundantly clear from all of this that there is a plentiful harvest of people in our culture who need to be reached out to. To reiterate: I would argue that the most effective way to evangelize a godless, lonely, and disconnected culture is to focus on personal connection and invitation in our interactions with people in our everyday lives.

So what does this look like?

Connection. For an introvert like me, I start getting nervous when I think about “reaching out” more. I’m the kind of person who, depending on the day, finds it quite difficult to merely ask a cashier at a store how their day is going. But these kinds of friendly interactions must be the starting points in our mission as believers to spread the gospel. A friendly “How is your day going?” to a grocery store clerk, fellow airplane passenger, or homeless person on the street can easily turn into a genuine connection if the moment is right. But unless we initiate this connection, we will never know if an evangelism opportunity could arise from it. 

Even if one of these everyday encounters does not result in a genuine connection being made, we can simply say, “God bless you” as we depart from the person we are engaging. These simple parting words are a way not only to impart a blessing on them, but also to emphasize the fact that we are Christian and that our good will is ultimately derived from our faith.

We should be especially open to opportunities for connection at our places of employment. Besides our homes, there is no place that we spend more time at than our jobs. The more time we spend at work with our coworkers, the more of a rapport we establish with them. This natural familiarity we develop with our coworkers can lead to an increased trust and openness with each other, which can then lead to excellent opportunities for evangelism.

We should also remember certain populations of people who are especially prone to isolation, particularly the elderly and those in prison. One in three seniors report feeling lonely, which underscores the need for us to visit our local assisted living facilities, where many elderly often do not have loved ones to spend quality time with. We should also spend time to discern if we have a calling for prison ministry. Organizations like Prison Fellowship provide great information and opportunities to minister to this often-forgotten population.

Invitation. Once we have established a connection with someone, we cannot afford to leave it at that. As we are seeing, our culture is starving for authentic community. This means we must extend an invitation to those we have connected with to continue the conversation, at a minimum. Depending on what we feel called to in a given situation, this could mean exchanging personal contact information, extending an invitation to our home for a shared meal, or inviting them to our church.

As Rod Dreher has written, evangelism in our time cannot be separate from discipleship. When we help those we witness to learn how to be faithful by continually inviting them into our own homes and faith communities, we not only build up their faith but also enrich our own families and communities with the fresh perspectives of newcomers.

We Are Not Called to Be Successful, But Faithful

During our journeys of witness, we will often feel like failures. In fact, we will probably not be able to see any lasting impact from most of our attempts to evangelize during our lifetimes. But this doesn’t matter. The Lord is simply calling us to be laborers in the harvest—He will take care of the rest.

In the end, evangelism is simply the act of showing love for our neighbor. Consider the words of Augustine, the mighty father of the early church, who described how Ambrose, a bishop, witnessed to him in his Confessions: “I began to love him at first not as a teacher of the truth … but simply as a man who was kind and generous to me.”

Excessive Smartphone Use is Dehumanizing Us

by Daniel Hart

August 23, 2019

Much has been written about how our society’s addiction to our smartphones, particularly among young people, is worsening our quality of life. I’ve lost count of the number of stories I’ve read about how our culture seems to have tiny attention spans due to social media addiction and about how kids these days don’t make eye contact anymore due to the smartphones that seem to be physically attached to their hands.

Recently, a friend described to me how during an orientation session for his new job, he sat next to two twenty-something fellow new hires who spent the entire time on their smartphones, only occasionally looking up at their supervisor who was giving the orientation.

While worrisome anecdotal stories like these abound, hard data is now emerging that only confirms these fears. In a sobering article at Family Life, Clay Routledge cites recent studies that show that extensive time spent on smartphones is leading to a host of alarming deficiencies in basic human relationships and interactions:

For example, in a field experiment, researchers found that having cellphones present during a meal with family or friends decreased enjoyment of that social experience. Another experiment that involved pairs of college students waiting together with or without their cellphones found that those who were phoneless were far more likely to smile at and interact with one another than those with cellphones. And one study found that having college students severely limit their daily social media use over a three-week period decreased both loneliness and depression. In short, a growing body of experimental research is providing empirical evidence that cellphones distract us from fully experiencing the real world.

Of particular concern are new findings that show that excessive smartphone use is negatively affecting the very fabric of family life. Routledge referenced another recent experiment involving parents and their interactions with their children at a museum in which “[t]he researchers found that parents in the high-use condition [of smartphones], compared to those in the low-use condition, reported feeling less attentive and less socially connected, and reported lower meaning in life while with their children at the museum.”

Perhaps most frightening is a Pew survey cited by Routledge:

Regarding smartphones and family life specifically, a Pew survey found that around half of teenagers say their parents are distracted by their phones when they are trying to talk to them, and over 70% of parents report that their teenagers are distracted when they are trying to have a conversation with them.

When screen addiction worsens even the most basic form of relational activity—talking to our family members—you know we have a serious problem. What Routledge alludes to, and what FRC has emphasized for years, is that family provides the most basic form of meaning in a person’s life through the love they receive, which in turn forms our core sense of self-worth. When this most fundamental source of meaning in our lives is compromised through the breakdown of familial communication and relationships, bad things happen.

A convincing argument has been made that the release of the iPhone in 2007 marked the beginning of a disturbing trend of mental health crisis in the post-Millennial generation. Indeed, a glut of mental health problems have sharply risen among young people since then, including rising rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide.

Less Screen Time, More Fulfillment

There’s no question that smartphones, tablets, and other internet-enabled portable devices have enhanced our lives in many ways. But as with any technology (or any worldly good, for that matter), believers know that moderation is key. In order to form healthy habits of technology use, we must see smartphones for what they are: a tool, not a necessity.

The primary way we can avoid smartphone addiction for our children and future generations is to limit the amount of time they spend looking at screens. How do we do this? Simply put, if they are out of sight, they are out of mind. If we diligently cultivate our homes as a place where learning and authentic leisure are the primary focus, the need for screens will rarely arise. This can also set an expectation of healthy use of screens that can enhance family life, like for communal viewing of movies or sporting events, for example.

At a certain point in a child’s life, they will see that their peers have smartphones, and they will naturally want to fit in. But if we raise our children with the understanding that they do not need a smartphone, and instead grow up with an expectation that they can work for and earn money to buy one at the age that they can get a job, they will be more likely to see smartphones not as necessities but as tools.

With this healthy perspective from a young age, it is far less likely that kids will form a smartphone addiction when they are older and have free access to them. As the emerging data suggests, and as we inherently know deep down, we are happier and more fulfilled when we spend less time engaging a screen and more time engaging each other.

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