Author archives: Hugh Phillips

The Case Against Marijuana Legalization: 3 Myths Debunked

by Hugh Phillips

July 17, 2019

On July 10, the House Judiciary committee held a hearing entitled “Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and the Need for Reform.” The pro-pot panel that testified before the committee made many fantastic and outlandish claims to support the legalization of recreational marijuana use.

Claim 1: “Teen use of marijuana drops with legalization.”

One of the claims the panel made about recreational marijuana legalization is that when a state legalizes marijuana, adolescent usage declines. Yet, this claim does not match logic. As Charles Stimson notes, when marijuana is legalized, use by minors will rise because all deterrents have been removed:

Marijuana’s illegal status “keeps potential drug users from using” marijuana in a way that no legalization scheme can replicate “by virtue of the fear of arrest and the embarrassment of being caught.” With increased use comes increased abuse, as the fear of arrest and embarrassment will decrease.

Rep. Ben Cline (R-Va.) challenged the assumption that minors would be protected if the drug is legalized by pointing to the fact that legalization had “increased unintended exposure by young children” and “tripled” calls to poison centers for kids mistakenly “ingesting” marijuana. Thus, Rep. Cline asked Mr. Nathan, a member of the panel, “Have you seen youth access to legalization increase as a result of legalization?” Mr. Nathan was forced to admit that many more kids were mistakenly ingesting marijuana in legalized states. This shows that marijuana is much more accessible to minors and ripe for abuse in states were the substance is being made legal.

Claim 2: “The marijuana black market will be dismantled by legalization.”

The panel also made the argument that federal legalization would create a “regulated market” and take away the power of the black market. Yet, Neal Levine, representative of the Cannabis Trade Federation, was forced to admit that despite state regulation in states that had legalized marijuana, the black market was still the legal industry’s greatest “competitor.” This is backed up by research that shows the black market is the main seller in some legalized states. Even liberal California governor Gavin Newsom has admitted that the black market in California got more powerful after legalization. The governor has even recently deployed the California National Guard in an effort to halt illegal growers.

It is clear that government regulation does not stop the black market. In fact, if the federal government chooses to legalize and regulate pot, government intervention may very well increase the size and volatility of the black market as criminals seek to sell more potent strands of the drug than federal law allows.

Claim 3: “Marijuana is safer and causes less dependency than alcohol or tobacco.”

This claim made by a member of the panel is one of the most easily debunked myths about marijuana. The National Institute of Health has proven that marijuana is a gateway drug. Those who use marijuana become almost three times more likely to become addicted to opioids. The National Institute of Health also notes that, “Marijuana is associated with a six-fold increase in suicide.” This is just a fraction of the detrimental heath consequences associated with marijuana use. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has noted that marijuana hinders brain development, can cause “paranoia,” hurts the respiratory system, and can cause permanent brain damage. The evidence is clear—marijuana is a dangerous drug and must not be legalized in the United States.

We Must Stand Against Marijuana Legalization

Legalization or decriminalization of recreational marijuana use on the federal level is bad policy. The STATES Act (H.R. 2093) and the SAFE Banking Act (H.R. 1595) are just steps in the road to complete legalization. Not only do they stand upon questionable constitutional foundations, but they would increase the many social detriments associated with marijuana, including rises in drug abuse, crime, criminal trafficking, and mental health problems. Family health and safety would be degraded across the United States if these two pieces of legislation were to pass and put the U.S. on the road to legalization. For the sake of America’s families, Congress should reject the STATES Act and SAFE Banking Act, keep marijuana illegal, and focus on more effective ways of stopping the interstate drug trade.

Hugh Phillips is a Government Affairs intern at Family Research Council working on pro-life legislation.

The Summer of Love: The Beauty of the Marriage Covenant

by Hugh Phillips

June 27, 2019

During the month of June, the wedding season is in full swing. Yet, June is also celebrated as “LGBT Pride Month.” Throughout this month, the LGBT lobby argues that they are “celebrating love” and claim that their movement is based in love and a respect for human dignity. However, much of the LGBT movement is based on a misguided notion of love that is rooted in a harmful postmodern hedonism that, as Nancy Pearcey details in her book Love Thy Body, actually devalues human dignity.  

In this season, Christian conservatives must draw Americans toward the beauty of the true love that the natural marriage covenant between one man and one woman provides. To do this we must properly define love.

Competing Views of Love

Natural marriage and the LGBT movement represent two competing worldviews on what love and marriage actually mean. The LGBT movement, born from the sexual revolution, bases its definition of love on subjective feelings and emotions. They argue that all feelings, attractions, and passions for a person, and any relationships that result, should be celebrated and protected by state law.  This view can be tied with the modern assertion of marriage and relationships as merely contractual agreements.

 Pearcey discusses this when she notes that, long before the sexual revolution, the secular worldview devalued the basis of love and marriage from an unconditional covenant to a contract focused on how the relationship can benefit each individual. Thus, the modern view of relationships, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is based on personal fulfillment of desire and is no longer grounded in selfless love and fulfillment based on adhering to God’s natural design. This irrational view of relationships overlooks the unnatural and harmful effects of such relationships while also disregarding a truthful view of what love actually is.

Biblical Love and the Marriage Covenant

By contrast, the biblical worldview sees relational love as an objective choice and duty that, while often accompanied by emotions, is not dependent on those emotions as the basis of the relationship. In fact, as C.S. Lewis notes in The Abolition of Man, the hallmark of adulthood is being able to train one’s emotions so that they conform to the moral law of God’s natural order. Marriage is the greatest expression of and training ground for this because, under the biblical model, the couple are called to give up their own desires and wants for that of their spouse.

Marriage is the best institution in which to express the biblical model of love. This is revealed in God’s original purpose for marriage. The Bible is clear that the marriage covenant was created by God as a metaphor for His sacrificial love and salvation for His people. Theologian Dr. R.C. Sproul noted: “Marriage is ordained and instituted by God—that is to say, marriage did not just spring up arbitrarily out of social conventions or human taboos. Marriage was not invented by men but by God.” Thus, when Paul speaks on marriage, it makes absolute sense when he urges husbands to “…love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her…” Covenant marriage is an institutional protection of covenant love.

The biblical model of love and marriage, as revealed strikingly in God’s design for marriage, is revolutionary because its emphasis is, not on the individual, but on the other person. This is explicitly shown in the marriage vows which detail and initiate the marriage covenant. In the vows, the focus is on one’s duties and obligations to the other person, not on fulfilling one’s own desires. This is an expression of biblical love. When Paul speaks on the characteristics of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, all the characteristics are strikingly focused towards the good of others and not one’s own good.

This is why Family Research Council has always defended natural marriage and has seen it as the bedrock of a safe and prosperous society. Besides the plethora of proven social benefits that marriage has for society, it is one of the keys to the future of America, both culturally and politically. It is so for this reason: it both teaches and models selfless love for another, a trait vitally necessary for the survival of any Republic such as ours.

The Beauty of True Love and the Marriage Covenant

In an age of LGBTQ “rights” and the celebration of sexual confusion and personal desire above all, our culture must return to a celebration and respect for the beauty of the selfless marriage covenant. Let’s return to the picture of a man and a woman sacrificially committing themselves to each other in marriage on a beautiful summer afternoon. Let’s also think of the beauty and powerful testimony of that same couple, now old, having remained faithfully committed in a lifetime of service to each other under God. Most Americans would smile at this picture. Why wouldn’t they? Such a relationship is a natural human desire!

Thus, in an era dominated by individualism and obsessed with personal autonomy and choice, Christians and conservatives should counter the LGBT movement by showing the beauty and joy of the mutual sacrifice and commitment of the natural marriage covenant. Nothing will counter the harmful effects of the sexual revolution or show the Gospel more clearly than the picture of a man and a woman unconditionally giving themselves to each other’s service for a lifetime. Against this type of true love and commitment the sexual revolution has no power.

So, this summer, let’s respond to LGBT Pride Month by celebrating the beauty of marriage according to God’s design and the couples who have been faithful in marriage. Let us also recommit ourselves as a movement to living out in our own marriages the faithfulness of the marriage covenant and truly mirroring God’s faithfulness towards us, His redeemed! It’s June—thank God for the wonder of His gift of marriage!

Hugh Phillips is a Government Affairs Intern at Family Research Council working on pro-life legislation.

Pastors Lead the Way in… Harming Life?

by Hugh Phillips

June 13, 2019

In the failed bid by the North Carolina House of Representatives to muster the 3/5ths majority necessary to override Democrat Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of the North Carolina Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, four pastors were the difference in the deciding vote. The failed veto override effort in North Carolina came up short because of their four votes.

This heartbreaking result shows us that we cannot be complacent in the fight for life. What made this vote even more heartbreaking was that four pastors rejected the biblical view of life’s sacredness and voted against a bill to require physicians to save the lives of infants born alive after a botched abortion. Thus, pastors were some of those who stood against the sanctity of life in North Carolina.

For example, take Pastor and state representative James D. Gailliard. Gailliard labels himself a “Whole Life Democrat” and claims to be against abortion. Yet, he voted against the born alive bill arguing that “current law is sufficient” to protect infants who have survived an abortion. However, a staff assessment by an attorney for the Senate Rules and Operations committee clearly shows that while infanticide is technically classified as murder under the law, the legislature has never taken a stand on born alive protections. NC S.B. 359 would have made clear that North Carolina does not tolerate infanticide in any form and would have given teeth to the law by creating an affirmative duty to protect these innocent and helpless infants. This should have been an easy decision for any representative, let alone pastor, who claims that they support life.

Gailliard, along with pastors Paul Lowe, Amos Quick, and Ray Russell, all voted against the born alive bill in North Carolina and have therefore rejected the Bible’s basic theological assumption, first introduced in Genesis 1:27 and historically held across every creed and denomination, that man is special because “God created man in his image, in the image of God He created them.” Pastors should be the first to preach and defend the sacredness of humanity. Yet, in rejecting this standard, these pastors are showing that their lives are governed more by the postmodern worldview and a fear of Planned Parenthood and the abortion lobby than by the word of God. These foundational secular assumptions held by such pastors put their congregations and constituents at risk because these pastors seem more likely to make decisions based on subjective morality and outside pressure rather than making objective ethical decisions based on the eternal moral law and God’s truth.

If a pastor cannot even agree to increase restrictions on an act as morally repugnant as infanticide, they are not worthy of holding any elected office in the State or position of trust within the church. This is such a basic tenet of human decency that all North Carolinians, regardless of party, should be appalled and outraged by the cowardly act of these pastors.

The flood of pro-life legislation passing in legislatures across America shows that Americans are demanding that the sanctity of human life be protected. As candidacies begin to be announced for the 2020 elections, voters should have one thing foremost in their minds: will this candidate fulfill the basic role of government and protect life? Republicans are feeling the swelling support of American opinion as they advance the pro-life cause through state legislation. Despite the deplorable attempts of Democrats, and even pastors, to stop the pro-life agenda, we will vote out those who oppose life and advance the pro-life cause to victory with the help of average North Carolinians and the citizens of every state!

Hugh Phillips is a Government Affairs intern at Family Research Council working on pro-life legislation. 

Missouri’s New Pro-Life Law is Grounded in the Belief in Human Dignity

by Hugh Phillips

May 31, 2019

Life is winning in America! Since New York and Virginia passed radical and unnecessary pro-abortion laws in January, conservative states have responded by passing dozens of pro-life laws in the last four months.

One of the latest is Missouri House bill 126, a fantastic law which bans abortions when a heartbeat is detected, adds common-sense informed consent provisions, and includes bans on abortions after a child in the womb is capable of feeling pain. The beauty of this Missouri law lies in the reasons the legislature gave for passing the bill. The bill states in part:

In recognition that Almighty God is the author of life, that all men and women are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life”, and that article I, section 2 of the Constitution of Missouri provides that all persons have a natural right to life, it is the intention of the general assembly of the state of Missouri to [grant]: (1)  Defend the right to life[to] of all humans, born and unborn [, and to]; (2) Declare that the state and all of its political subdivisions are a “sanctuary of life” that protects pregnant women and their unborn children; and (3) Regulate abortion to the full extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States, decisions of the United States Supreme Court, and federal statutes.

This law, similar to those passed by numerous legislatures this year, codified into law the common law assumption that human life, in any form and at any time, is sacred because humanity was created by God with meaning and purpose. This foundational belief has given human life significance for millennia. When abortion advocates argue for the killing of children in the womb, they usually base their arguments on appeals to the human dignity and rights of women. However, this argument is misleading. An all-encompassing respect for human rights would see all life as having dignity, both born and unborn.

As Francis Schaeffer notes in his classic work Whatever Happened to the Human Race?, pro-abortion advocates cannot logically and adequately justify abortion based on human dignity because their secular worldview argues that human beings are purposeless, cosmic anomalies that are probably better off not being alive in the first place! As Schaeffer noted, if one is simply a biological coincidence, then there is no basis for human dignity or purpose. This explains the corresponding abandonment of the belief in human dignity that occurred among academic and political elites as the culture became more secular.

As hard as pro-abortion advocates argue, they eventually run up against the fact that their worldview provides no foundational basis for human dignity. Thus, they must resort to slogans instead of arguments. This rejection of the basis for humanity’s worth flies in the face of the natural Christian belief that we have meaning and purpose because we were created by a loving God.  

The passage of strong pro-life measures in multiple states has proven that a culture of life is returning to America and that the American people are becoming even more pro-life. The fight for life continues, and with the help of brave elected officials such as the Missouri legislature, it is a fight we will win!

Hugh Phillips is a Government Affairs intern at Family Research Council working on pro-life legislation.

3 Arguments Pro-Lifers Must Make in Standing for Life in 2019

by Hugh Phillips

February 19, 2019

Several weeks ago here in Washington D.C., I marched with tens of thousands of everyday Americans to protest Roe v. Wade and urge our representatives to stand for life. It was a wonderful thing to behold. Poll after poll shows that the pro-life movement is succeeding in winning the battle of ideas. Through scientific data and common sense, pro-lifers are convincing Americans that life begins at conception. Yet, as the pro-life movement has celebrated great victories in recent years and mobilized for the fight ahead, the battle for life continues to rage in courts and legislative chambers across the country.

The recent New York bill allowing abortion at any time during pregnancy and the subsequent comments by the Governor of Virginia on similar legislation in that state show that despite the advances of the pro-life cause, abortion will not be eliminated in America without a long political and cultural struggle. Even now, Vermont and Rhode Island are advancing horrendous legislation that would legalize abortion at any time during pregnancy for any reason. These recent bills show the logical outcome of the sexual revolution: the destruction of offspring and future generations in the name of pleasure and personal desire.

Pro-lifers must take a firm stand against this year’s wave of pro-abortion legislation. Yet, as we gasp at the evil of pro-abortion legislation, we must not give in to unbridled emotion but instead stand for life in a winsome and godly manner. Here are three things that pro-lifers must make clear in their arguments against 2019’s slew of pro-abortion bills:

1. The abortion debate is not about the freedom to choose but the right to life.

Pro-abortion advocates regularly argue that the abortion debate is about a woman’s “right to choose.” Yet, in arguing against pro-abortion bills, pro-lifers must be very clear that the abortion debate revolves, not around the “right to choose,” but around the dignity of human life in any form. Only then will pro-lifers effectively convince citizens and their legislators that outlawing abortion is not about depriving women of their rights, but about protecting the fundamental right to life of all Americans, born and unborn.

2. A society that does not protect life undermines its very existence.

This is a commonsense notion but is all too often overlooked by pro-lifers in arguing against abortion legislation. From ancient Rome to modern day America, a fundamental aspect that differentiated civilized society has been its protection of life, especially innocent and helpless life. This goes beyond debates about big versus small government and takes us to the most basic role of the civil authority—the protection of life. Pro-lifers must make the case that the abortion debate revolves around the very essence of what differentiates and protects American society from following in the footsteps of barbaric civilizations.

3. All persons have dignity and deserve respect, even those advocating for abortion.

Christians and pro-lifers should be justifiably furious at the passage of the evil New York abortion legislation or the recent barbaric comments regarding abortion made by the Governor of Virginia. Yet, in the heat of the fight, Christian pro-lifers must not forget that the power of our message rests in the truth that all men, even the Ralph Northam’s and Andrew Cuomo’s of this world, are made in the imago Dei, the very image of God. Thus, while being justly angry for the evil pro-abortion advocates commit, we must also stop to grieve for and have mercy on those so entrapped by the sexual revolution that they would advocate for the death of unborn babies. William Wilberforce, in his battle against slavery in eighteenth century Britain, is a perfect example of someone having this attitude. Our goal must be not to just defeat abortion, but to bring pro-abortion advocates and public figures to the glorious freedom of submitting to Christ as Savior.

The battle before us in the fight for life will be long, but it is one that we will win. The dignity and preciousness of every human life is a principle worth fighting for. May God grant us not only victory in defeating pro-abortion bills in 2019 and ultimately overturning Roe v. Wade, but also in bringing the glorious forgiveness and healing of the gospel to a society and culture that has been so horribly scarred by abortion.

Hugh Phillips is a Government Affairs intern at Family Research Council working on pro-life legislation.

3 Things to Remember About the Importance of Marriage This Valentine’s Day

by Hugh Phillips

February 14, 2019

Most people see Valentine’s Day as a fun opportunity to express their love to their spouse or significant other. Therefore, it’s a great time for Christian conservatives to take this opportunity to emphasize, through public policy and social activism, the critical importance and beauty of marriage, both to individuals and to our culture as a whole.

Marriage, designed by God to be between one man and one woman, reveals the beauty of God’s design for social order. FRC has consistently argued that marriage is critical to the maintenance of society and is the foundation of civilization. Yet too often, modern conservatives overlook the importance of marriage in the war for the soul of America. The following are three things Christian conservatives must make clear:

1. Marriage is a gift.

In a time when young Americans are putting off marriage, whether it be to find that perfect job or get one more degree, a sense of loneliness is drifting over American society. Against this background, Christian conservatives must remind society of the importance of marriage and the beauty of a life-long relationship to one person. In today’s anti-marriage and anti-commitment culture, Christian conservatives must argue that marriage is one of the most fulfilling and essential aspects of life. God’s design for marriage is such that having a spouse provides the necessary emotional and spiritual support that we all need every day.

2. Marriage is a responsibility.

In the modern day, many argue that marriage is not only old-fashioned, but unnecessarily restrictive of the freedoms of individuals. Christian conservatives must respond to this argument by showing that marriage is one of the healthiest and most necessary steps a young person must take to mature. A society that values marriage is happier and more productive. When discussing marriage, as with other issues like government, Christian conservatives must make clear that it is not unlimited freedom but ordered liberty that makes for happy, fulfilling lives.

3. Marriage is critical to the maintenance of society.

Only strong families can ensure a stable, healthy, and safe society, and families are only strong if marriages are strong. The many social problems America faces arguably have their root in the breakdown of marriages caused by the rise of the sexual revolution in the 1960’s. If social problems are to be eased, the value of marriage must be upheld in public policy and in the culture at large.

Social conservatives must not give way but instead defend the sanctity and importance of marriage. This can be done on the public policy level by, for example, eliminating the marriage penalty and reforming divorce laws to reflect the value of the marriage covenant. Even more importantly, Christian conservatives must defend and promote the sanctity of marriage in the broader culture. Only then will public policy victories on this issue increase as the nation realizes the importance of marriage to our society. Happy National Marriage Week, and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hugh Phillips is a Government Affairs intern at Family Research Council working on pro-life legislation.

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