Author archives: Daniel Hart

Ending Abortion One Pregnant Woman at a Time

by Daniel Hart

February 19, 2020

Why do women have abortions, and what can the pro-life movement do to help these women so that they don’t have them?

In terms of directly saving unborn lives, this question should be at the heart of pro-life activism.

Numerous studies have been conducted asking women who have had abortions what their reasons were for going through with the procedure. The primary reason that most women give is financial hardship—depending on the study, between 40 percent and 73 percent say they could not afford the baby.

Emily Berning and her husband founded Let Them Live in 2017 to help solve this problem. In an interview, Berning described how she wanted to start an organization dedicated to helping women with unplanned pregnancies financially after she realized that “there is an untapped market for financial aid and financial support for women who are on the edge, about to have an abortion, to help bring them back and choose life instead.”

According to Berning, the pro-life movement needs to “refocus on these moms because, ultimately, they’re the ones walking into that abortion clinic and they’re the ones who [are] ultimately deciding to [have the abortion].”

Let Them Live’s unique approach to helping women begins with posting a story about a pregnant woman in financial need on their website, with the estimated amount of money the woman will need to get back on her feet and carry her baby to term. By gathering donations through their website (often called “crowdfunding”), Let Them Live has been able to save 26 babies from abortion in the last year. To protect the donations from being misused, Berning says that Let Them Live pays the bills of women in need directly to the utility company or the landlord.

Berning has also emphasized that paying for the short-term financial obligations of pregnant women in need cannot be where their help ends. “We never want to leave the moms we help high and dry so we also connect them with local resources, jobs, and financial literacy classes to ensure their future success.”

Let Them Live is an inspiring example of a startup pro-life organization that is meeting the needs of women with unplanned pregnancies where they are at in order to prevent them from aborting their babies. What is especially encouraging is that a similar strategy for saving unborn lives is being put into practice in a big way by Human Coalition, which has been in operation since 2009.

What makes Human Coalition so innovative is that they are able to provide a whole host of different services all within their organization. First, through the use of online marketing outreach on Google and other popular search services, they reach thousands of people who are looking for abortion facilities.

Once a contact is made, Human Coalition is able to direct the abortion-minded person to their own contact center which is staffed with trained counselors who give encouragement and guidance so that the woman (or boyfriend, husband, or family member) can be directed to services that can assist with helping the woman carry her unplanned pregnancy to term.

After Human Coalition has established this vital connection through their contact center, they can direct the person to one of over 45 pro-life pregnancy centers spread across the country in which they serve and support directly. In addition, Human Coalition owns and operates their women’s care clinics which are “specifically tailored to the abortion-determined client and their families, and offers a range of services designed to support women in crisis” and are now available in six major metropolitan areas. To date, Human Coalition has been able to save 4,483 babies.

But as discussed earlier, the care for women with unplanned pregnancies cannot end once their child is born. That’s why Human Coalition has a “Continuum of Care” program that “coordinates long-term assistance through a network of support services already in place.” These services include “financial, job-training, job placement, maternity housing, health care, etc.”

Let Them Live and Human Coalition are filling a gap in the pro-life movement that is overlooked but highly needed—to specifically target the needs of pregnant women who are seeking out abortion so that they carry their babies to term and are given the resources to thrive post-birth. Let us support organizations like these and pray that their ministries may continue to grow so that our culture will truly and authentically become one where every life is lovingly welcomed, every mother is supported, and abortion becomes unthinkable.

We’re Going to Succeed”: Kobe Bryant’s Inspiring Marital Steadfastness

by Daniel Hart

February 12, 2020

Following the tragic death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant (along with eight others including his daughter) in a helicopter crash on January 26, many stirring tributes have been written about his tenacity, relentless drive to always improve, and ferocious competitiveness on the court as a player. One of his most inspiring character traits was how he applied his legendary competitiveness and refusal to give up to all aspects of his life, particularly when dealing with the potential end of his marriage to his wife Vanessa.

After an incident in 2003 in which he was accused of sexual assault (and was eventually acquitted in court), Kobe publicly admitted to committing adultery and apologized to his wife at a press conference. Eight years later, his wife filed for divorce due to “irreconcilable differences,” but in 2013 the couple announced that they had called off the divorce. Clearly, Kobe and Vanessa went through some extremely challenging periods in their marriage, but they persevered and remained committed to their vows. In an interview, Kobe described his drive to succeed in his marriage in the same terms he often used to describe his work ethic in basketball: “Commitment and [the] competitiveness of ‘We’re going to succeed.’” He went on to describe his marriage in this way: “That’s all the beauty of it: having the persistence and determination to work through things — very, very tough things — and we’ve been able to do that.”

Kobe and Vanessa’s perseverance and tenacity to fight for their marriage no matter what the circumstances is a stirring example for all married couples to have the resolve to never give up on their marriage, no matter how insurmountable difficulties may seem.

In honor of National Marriage Week, here are some tried and true ways that couples can work through challenges and maintain peaceful and happy marriages:

  • In general, be kind. As written about in The Atlantic, numerous studies have all concluded that “kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage.”
  • When you see something that needs to be done around the house, do it as quickly and quietly as you can without mentioning anything to your spouse, even if you feel that they should have done it. This builds trust between spouses and is a visible sign of how much you love and care for them, which most likely will be noticed and appreciated the more you do it.
  • Be “teachable.” In other words, be willing to compromise or do things differently than how you grew up doing them or used to do them before marriage.
  • Acknowledge that your own shortcomings may be a result of wounds that you received in your past, likely in childhood from those closest to you. It is imperative that you seek the root cause of these wounds in order to be authentically healed, which will in turn create tremendous healing in your own marriage.
  • A key outlook during difficult times in marriage is to see suffering as having redeeming value, just as Christ suffered for us in order to redeem us from our sins. If you don’t see the cross as something bad, this changes everything. In order to have true love for our spouse (to will the good for them), we must be willing to serve them by practicing sacrificial love, to sacrifice our own wishes and desires for the sake of our beloved. It may seem like a paradox, but it’s true—when we sacrifice ourselves for the good of others, we find true fulfilment.
  • Express gratitude to your spouse on a regular basis. When you thank them for even the small things they do—washing the dishes, cleaning up the spilled oatmeal off the floor—your spouse will feel loved and appreciated. This goes a long way toward maintaining marital harmony.
  • Never stop trying. Even when things are not going smoothly in your marriage, always be willing to keep trying to make things right by putting in the effort, even if you don’t feel like it. Your spouse will almost certainly notice this. There’s nothing more disheartening for a spouse then when they feel like their own efforts are not being noticed and, even worse, are not being reciprocated. If your spouse feels like you are not trying your best in the relationship, they will feel less motivated to keep trying themselves, which can create a larger mess than before.
  • Don’t let small annoyances about your spouse anger you. Let them be an opportunity to grow in the virtue of patience. If there is a legitimate issue that needs to be addressed, bring it up as calmly and deliberately as you can so that you don’t hurt your spouse in the process.
  • When you feel hurt by the words or actions of your spouse, don’t swallow it and let it fester. Pick a good time to talk about how and why they hurt you as gently, honestly, and openly as possible. Depending on the severity of the issue, it may not be a good idea to immediately hash it out with your spouse just after the hurtful incident occurred, since this could lead to further insensitive words being said in the heat of the moment. It may be prudent to pick a time at least a day or two later after things have cooled down. You may even discover that your spouse had no idea that the incident in question hurt you, and will be glad to know about it so that they can be more thoughtful in the future.
  • Challenging times in marriage are opportunities to grow closer together. This can especially be achieved by praying together as a couple.

A Hidden Life Is an Unparalleled Depiction of Christian Discipleship

by Daniel Hart

February 4, 2020

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

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

A Simple Life Shattered by War

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

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

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

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

A Heroic Act of Conscience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Unparalleled Depiction of Christian Discipleship

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

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

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

The Plea

by Judy Lamberson Smith

January 22, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All I wanted was a chance!

What’s Wrong With American Boys?

by Daniel Hart

January 14, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Belief Systems Create Gentlemen

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

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

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

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

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

The Crucial Mentorship of Fathers

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

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

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

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

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

The Birth Rate is Falling. But Why?

by Daniel Hart

December 16, 2019

Here in the United States, we are not having enough babies to replenish our population.

In the latest numbers from the CDC, there were just under 3.8 million births in 2018, down 2 percent from the previous year. This marks the fourth year in a row that births have declined in the U.S. The current rate of 1.7 births per 1,000 women is well below the 2.1 births needed to maintain a steady replacement level.

The decline in U.S. births mirrors a global decline since the 1950’s, which has seen the birth rate plummet from 4.7 to 2.4 over the last 70 years. Many secular commentators point to a handful of factors to explain why this remarkable decline is happening in America, including a lack of “suitable partners” for women and “economic instability.”

A Society’s Survival Depends on Its Values

But some secular writers are beginning to grow skeptical of these mainstream explanations that barely skim the surface of what’s really going on. In a fascinating recent piece in The New York Times titled “The End of Babies,” Anna Louie Sussman asks, “Something is stopping us from creating the families we claim to desire. But what?” She points to an intriguing study showing that in almost every European country as well as the U.S., the number of children that women want is well above the number of children they actually have. While Sussman does explore a bit of the standard excuses that many secular liberals give for not having kids, including climate change and economic inequality, she eventually hits on the root of what fertility hinges upon: the values that a society has.

For communities that do not hold to secular values, Sussman notes that low fertility is not a problem:

Where alternative value systems exist, however, babies can be plentiful. In the United States, for example, communities of Orthodox and Hasidic Jews, Mormons and Mennonites have birthrates higher than the national average.

Why is this? Sussman’s next paragraph is key:

Lyman Stone, an economist who studies population, points to two features of modern life that correlate with low fertility: rising “workism” — a term popularized by the Atlantic writer Derek Thompson — and declining religiosity. “There is a desire for meaning-making in humans,” Mr. Stone told me. Without religion, one way people seek external validation is through work, which, when it becomes a dominant cultural value, is “inherently fertility reducing.”

Perhaps unwittingly, Sussman has hit upon a transcendent truth: When we lose sight of God, we begin to lose our bearing on what it means to be human. When this happens, it becomes easier to overlook the essential building blocks that provide meaning, purpose, and continuity to our humanness: the institution of marriage (which is in steep decline) and the children that naturally result from this union.

Faith Casts Out Fear

After reading Sussman’s article, one can’t help but come away with a strong sense of the anxiety that so many in our culture carry with them when it comes to marriage and family. Her piece is peppered throughout with the worries and fears of those she interviews: “Young people say, ‘Having children is the end of my life’”; “If I become 50 or 60 and I don’t have kids, I know I’m going to hate myself the rest of my life”; “Everything is super expensive.” Sussman herself is not immune to this anxiety. She has convinced herself, rather sheepishly, that she must save $200,000 before she has a child. Why? Because she is single and plans to have a child via in vitro fertilization (IVF), and this figure is “an acknowledgment of the financial realities of single parenthood, but also the arithmetic crystallization of my anxieties around parenthood in our precarious era.”

Without getting into the troubling aspects of IVF, I’d love to be able to reassure Sussman and her fellow worriers, “It’ll be okay! God will provide!” One of the greatest benefits of faith is that it casts out fear of the unknown. For what does Christ himself tell his followers in the gospel? “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:26-27)

Even still, I must admit that I often forget Christ’s words. I struggle with many of the same fears that Sussman describes. As a husband and father myself, I often worry about finances and my ability to support and provide for my wife and our two young boys as they grow up, as well as any future children that God might bless us with. But guess what? God has provided for us. He always does. He is always faithful. I have found that the more I trust in God’s providence, the more my worries and fears fade away. For God, who is “Perfect love,” “casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).

The Birth of a Child is the Rebirth of Hope

It is clear that the declining birth rate is intimately connected with anxieties about having kids that permeate our culture. When a society largely rejects religious values, it loses its ability to have hope in the future, most profoundly illustrated by the birth of new life. When God is forgotten, the world becomes a complicated, intimidating, and “precarious” place, as Sussman says, one which can seem inhospitable to rearing children.

But despite all this uncertainty and anxiousness, the desire for rebirth still lingers within us. In the candid and heartfelt conclusion to her article, Sussman can’t help but admit her own yearning to pass on the legacy of her father, with an implicit longing for motherhood:

But as I reflected on the immaterial gifts I like to think I inherited from him, it became clear I craved genetic continuity, however fictitious and tenuous it might be. I recognized then something precious and inexplicable in this yearning, and glimpsed how devastating it might be to be unable to realize it. For the first time, I felt justified in my impulse to preserve some little piece of me that, in some way, contained a little piece of him, which one day might live again.

Not even liberal New York Times columnists, it seems, can escape the primordial urge to pass on our humanity, to indeed “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28).

An important lesson can be drawn from all of this for believers. When we work to spread the gospel, we are working to dispel worldly fear and break open hearts toward openness to new life. For the birth of every child is the rebirth of hope, the hope bestowed by a Creator who gives us the gift of life, smiles upon us, and calls us “good.”

Crimes” in the Criminal State of China

by Daniel Hart

December 5, 2019

The video is chilling. In a recently released clip from inside a Chinese police station, a lone man sits strapped into a metal cage-like contraption that looks like it is meant to subdue a wild animal, but is actually meant for the interrogation of ordinary citizens. With downcast eyes and a timid voice, he softly answers a series of questions from his interrogators, apologizing for drinking “a bit too much” and speaking “nonsense.” His crime? He apparently made a negative remark or two on social media about the police confiscating motorcycles.

What’s wrong with the police confiscating motorcycles?” the interrogator demands.

Nothing wrong with that,” the man feebly responds.

At the end of the video, after repeatedly expressing his sorrow for his “crime” in response to multiple demands by the interrogators to explain himself, the man makes a final plea for mercy. With a bow of his head, he solemnly declares, “Uncle police, I’m so sorry. I’m wrong. I know that now. Please forgive me. I won’t do it again, ever.”

Interrogations like these are now becoming a routine part of life in China. With no civil rights and an encroaching regime that monitors every aspect of daily life, ordinary citizens like this man know that if they say something on social media that the government doesn’t like and say the wrong thing to the police, they could end up in prison, tortured, or killed.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg of the human rights atrocities and abuses that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is perpetrating against its own people. Here is a brief list:

  • As we have written about previously, the CCP is forcibly harvesting the organs of religious minorities to fuel an organ industry to the tune of $10-20 billion, which provides up to 85 percent of the world’s organ transplants (more on that later).
  • The CCP has been persecuting and executing the traditionally Muslim Uyghurs since at least the 1990’s. Today, over 1.5 million ethnic Uyghurs are currently imprisoned in what the CCP calls “concentrated education and training schools,” in which detainees are subjected to indoctrination sessions, torture, sexual assault, and execution.
  • The CCP continues to mandate the number of children couples can have, which recently changed from a one-child to a two-child policy. This system is enforced through exorbitant monetary fines, forced abortions, and forced sterilizations. It is estimated that there have been more than 330 million induced abortions in China since the one-child was first implemented in the early 1980’s. A significant (but unknown) percentage of these abortions were forced.
  • The CCP’s reign of terror against religious practitioners has been ongoing since the 1960’s. Currently, religious practice is being suppressed by any means necessary.
  • The CCP is implementing a “social credit system” that rates the behavior of Chinese citizens so that their ranking fluctuates up and down. Depending on your score, you can be banned from buying plane and train tickets, your children can be banned from attending the best schools, you can be denied jobs, and you can be publicly named a “bad citizen,” among a host of other injustices.

As these human rights atrocities and abuses illustrate, China is in fact a criminal state. The final report compiled by the China Tribunal (which amassed definitive evidence of forced organ harvesting that has and is currently happening in China) makes this conclusion:

Governments and any who interact in any substantial way with the PRC [People’s Republic of China] including:

  • Doctors and medical institutions;
  • Industry, and businesses, most specifically airlines, travel companies, financial services businesses, law firms and pharmaceutical and insurance companies together with individual tourists,
  • Educational establishments;
  • Arts establishments

should now recognise that they are, to the extent revealed above, interacting with a criminal state.

FRC could not agree more. Organizations like the NBA, Hollywood, and other industries that have conveniently ignored the human rights atrocities and abuses committed by the CCP for financial gain must answer to the fact that they are dealing with a criminal state. And as we have repeatedly pointed out, the United States must address these atrocities and abuses in its current and future trade and diplomatic dealings with the CCP.

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.

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