Category archives: Economics

Divisiveness Over Roe v. Wade Shakes Corporate America

by Deborah Laker

May 6, 2022

WASHINGTON D.C.– Late Monday night, Politico’s leaked early draft of the Supreme Court’s vote to potentially overturn Roe v. Wade sent shock waves across the nation. Some corporations like Starbucks and Lyft rushed to make public statements on the matter while other major businesses such as Disney and Walmart have been largely silent.

Amazon announced, in response to the leaked document, that it will pay employees up to $4,000 annually to travel for out-of-state abortions. Since Amazon is the second-largest U.S. private employer, their decision to fund abortion travel has sparked debate. Yelp, Uber, and Citigroup also promised to help their staff bypass newly established pro-life legislation in Republican states by covering abortion travel expenses. These corporate decisions have been met with strong disapproval from conservative employees and consumers.

Last month, dozens of House Republicans demanded the chamber drop Citigroup as their credit card provider. All 435 members of the House are issued Citibank credit cards to cover travel expenses, office supplies, and other goods as part of the company’s exclusive partnership with Congress. However, after the banking corporation committed to covering workers’ abortion-related costs, many conservative legislators no longer want to be associated with Citibank.

Representative Mike Johnson (R-La.) along with 44 Republican colleagues wrote a letter to the House’s chief administrative officer, who oversees logistics such as the issuing of credit cards.  “By choosing to underwrite travel to abortions for its employees, Citi has explicitly staked out its position to advance the liberal agenda of abortion on demand and has shown no regard for whether a particular state’s laws are in place to protect the safety of a woman and her child,” wrote GOP lawmakers.

Another divisive social issue that is putting corporations at odds with consumers is the LGBT agenda.

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) feuded with Disney over recent legislation that limits conversations on sexual orientation and gender identity in K-3 classrooms. Although Disney is one of the state’s major economic contributors, DeSantis responded to the conflict by signing a bill stripping the theme park’s long-standing special tax privileges.

Corporations that take bold political stances are engaging in risky business. A recent poll by Rasmussen revealed that 59 percent of Americans believe that when companies make political statements, it “adds to the divisiveness in the country”. Over half of the poll’s self-identified Democrats agreed. Another similar poll found that 66 percent of Americans thought businesses should not be taking political positions. Eight percent believed it is better for corporations to weigh in on topics related to their businesses.

In these polarized times, there is not only fierce debate over social issues but also what position corporations should take on the matters. Everyday transactions such as ordering something off Amazon or using a credit card are no longer just simple purchases; they are becoming acts of political alliance. Many consumers are increasingly conscious of whether they are spending their hard-earned money in businesses that align with their values and political opinions.

Whether or not corporations should take political stances is up for debate, however, the DeSantis-Disney squabble has kept the theme park from commenting on the leaked opinion in Dobbs. It is possible that pressure like this from lawmakers could keep more businesses out of politics.

A Zero Star Review for Yelp’s Abortion Activism

by Joy Zavalick

April 18, 2022

The numerous pro-life protections being enacted across the country and the U.S. Supreme Court’s upcoming decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization are making the abortion industry increasingly desperate to maintain its place in American society. Recently, this mounting desperation has been seeping into the policies of some major corporations. Yelp is the latest in a string of private companies (such as Citigroup) that have announced that they will cover travel expenses for employees who desire to obtain an abortion that would not be legal in the state where they live.

This type of company policy is in direct response to state-level pro-life protections such as Texas’ heartbeat law, which has successfully saved thousands of babies’ lives by protecting life in the womb after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. By implementing such policies, these corporations have actively decided against remaining neutral on the topic of abortion.

The recent uptick in companies publicly declaring a position on abortion shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering how corporate America has similarly caved to shareholder pressures on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria. The activists behind progressive ESG investment organizations like As You Sow have consistently applied pressure to corporations, including Yelp.

In 2021, As You Sow published a report condemning Yelp for allowing Planned Parenthood sites to be “dogged by ongoing posting of unsubstantiated and illegitimate” reviews. The report concludes, “It is recommended that Yelp seek to engage harmed businesses”—such as Planned Parenthood—“in meaningful discussions about their experiences and desired alternative approaches.” Now, four months later, Yelp has chosen to enact a policy that will ensure that its employees continue contributing to the profits of the abortion industry by whatever means necessary.

Enabling female employees to obtain an out-of-state abortion instead of encouraging them to pursue motherhood is profitable—both for the abortion industry and the corporation that adopts such a policy. It minimizes the costs of providing maternity leave and keeps female employees actively engaged in the workplace for the obvious utilitarian purpose of maintaining productivity.

Representative Katie Porter (D-Calif.) summarized the motivation for corporations to encourage abortions during a 2020 House Financial Services Committee hearing. She said, “In the span of four decades since the 1970s, 38 million women joined the workforce. Without those women, our economy would be 25 percent smaller.” Her point is clear: ever since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion on demand throughout all nine months of pregnancy, companies have increasingly been able to profit from women employees—and they are not interested in going back.

Instead of liberating working women, Roe created a loophole for employers so they wouldn’t have to adapt to suit the needs of working mothers. Instead of creating an environment that embraced women in their totality, corporations could simply expect women to reject motherhood.

Employing a working mother often requires additional consideration beyond allowing for a few weeks of maternity leave once the child is born. Because of Roe, workplaces like Yelp have been able to take the easy way out for decades. Now, with the Dobbs decision on the horizon, they are doing everything in their power to make sure that the abortion loophole remains available.

Miriam Warren, chief diversity officer at Yelp, stated, “We’ve long been a strong advocate for equality in the workplace, and believe that gender equality cannot be achieved if women’s healthcare rights are restricted.” Corporate America has come alongside the abortion industry in normalizing the sexist myth that motherhood and career success are mutually exclusive.

No one makes the claim that men cannot progress in their careers when they become fathers. Female workers do not need to suffer the mental and physical trauma of abortion in order to be equal with their male counterparts.

Yelp has caved to pressure from the abortion lobby and hidden its true utilitarian agenda behind a façade of female empowerment. Other cowardly corporations will likely follow suit. As companies increasingly reveal their true colors and lack of spine, Christians must carefully consider which ones receive their business.

Join Mississippi in Supporting Women With Unplanned Pregnancies

by Mary Szoch , Savannah Anne Carman

February 21, 2022

As America awaits the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—the case considering whether Mississippi’s law protecting the lives of unborn babies at 15-weeks is constitutional—pro-lifers in Mississippi aren’t just twiddling their thumbs. Led by Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, these pro-life, pro-woman advocates hosted a virtual baby shower to benefit the over 30 pregnancy resource centers in the state. As Attorney General Fitch said, “There are women facing great challenges when they learn that they are pregnant…The pro-life movement has always been about supporting these women. We want these women to know that they do not have to face this on their own.”

One of the best ways to support women facing unplanned pregnancies is to support the work of pregnancy resource centers. We invite you to join Attorney General Fitch in showering pregnancy resource centers all over the country with prayer, love, and material items.

What is a pregnancy resource center?

A pregnancy resource center (PRC) is an organization that offers material, emotional, and often spiritual support to women and men facing an unexpected pregnancy, seeking support for infants or toddlers, looking for guidance before a potential abortion, or searching for healing afterward. In 2019, PRCs nationwide served almost two million people and provided nearly $270 million in services. Each PRC is unique, but they are alike in their mission of supporting women and men throughout pregnancy and after the birth of the child. They provide material support, including clothing, diapers, wipes, and formula; education about pregnancy, parenting, and life skills; and medical services like pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and STD testing. Many PRCs also offer housing for mothers and their children; spiritual support; assistance for abuse and human trafficking victims; and guidance applying for Medicaid, SNAPS, and WIC. Pregnancy resource centers offer loving care for mothers and fathers in need.

Where can I find one?

To find a pregnancy resource center, visit Pregnancy Decision Line at pregnancydecisionline.org or call 866-798-9541. Pregnancy Decision Line provides confidential, free support to anyone facing an unplanned pregnancy. You can also visit Option Line at optionline.org or call or text 800-712-4357. In addition to offering emergency hotline support and information about pregnancy and abortion recovery, Option Line connects you with a PRC near you for local support.

How can I support PRCs?

PRCs depend on the consistency and faithfulness of prayer, volunteers, financial donations, and material donations (clothes, diapers, wipes, formula, etc.). You and your community might consider committing to one or more of these needs. Call your local PRC and ask about their immediate needs. Whether it is organizing diapers, praying for women, teaching an online parenting class, or making a monthly donation, PRCs and the mothers they serve are grateful for support. Single parents and couples need supportive communities, especially when facing an unexpected pregnancy.

How can my church get involved?

PRCs are always grateful for the assistance of churches. Connect with your local PRC to find their specific needs, and post about volunteer opportunities in the church’s bulletin. Schedule group service days at the PRC for the youth and adults. This is an excellent opportunity to open young people’s eyes to the needs right in their neighborhood. Dedicate a month for collecting diapers, wipes, formula, and other materials. Ask your local PRC what materials they are most in need of to get started. And, of course, pray. As a congregation, pray not only for an end to abortion but also for mothers and fathers in need and those who help them.

Savannah Anne Carman is an intern with the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.

Minority Neighborhoods Need Maternity Wards, Not Crack Pipes

by Joy Zavalick

February 16, 2022

The Biden administration has authorized a new $30 million grant program directing federal funds to purchase “harm reduction” supplies for drug users. It specifically targets minorities, or “underserved communities” like minority neighborhoods. Biden has defended the program by challenging rumors that the “safe smoking kits” funded by the program will contain crack pipes, although other safe smoking programs across the country have indeed distributed smoking pipes. Regardless, the question remains as to why passing out needles and smoking kits to addicts is thought to be meeting the greatest needs of minority communities.

The Biden administration seems to have missed the even deeper needs of underserved minority communities: access to grocery stores, pharmacies, and perhaps most importantly, birth wards and quality medical care. Given that February is Black History Month, there seems to be no better time than the present to consider the disproportionate lack of resources that underserved minority communities face.

Take the nation’s capital, for example. Washington, D.C.’s local government is separated into eight wards roughly equivalent in population size. Although ward boundaries are largely determined by geography, the unfortunate reality is that the wards divide the city’s population by race and socioeconomic status.

The combined population of Wards 7 and 8, which are separated from the rest of the city by the Anacostia River, is over 160,000 people, 90 percent of whom are black. Despite having population sizes roughly equivalent to the other wards, Wards 7 and 8 have a combined total of only three grocery stores. In contrast, the other six wards have a combined total of 71 (an average of 11.8 per ward). Ward 8 has only seven pharmacies to service its 80,517 residents.

There is only one hospital that services Wards 7 and 8—United Medical Center, a poorly-rated hospital that is planning to cease operating entirely by 2023. Notably, there is no hospital with a birth ward east of the Anacostia River, meaning that mothers in Wards 7 and 8 must travel across the river in order to deliver their children. This fact is especially concerning considering that Ward 8 has the highest birth rate in the city. The mortality rate for black mothers in D.C. is 71 per 100,000 live births—50 points higher than the national average of 20.1, which is already the highest rate for any developed country.

A solution to the disproportionately high black maternal mortality rate should include expanded access to the medical care that mothers and babies need to thrive. However, the abortion industry insists that the solution that will empower the black community is advancing abortion, which only ends unborn black babies’ lives. In a recent commentary on Black History Month, Planned Parenthood stated, “When restrictions are placed on birth control and family planning, Black communities bear a disproportionate burden.” For Planned Parenthood, abortion constitutes family planning.

In reality, the black population has the disproportionate burden of being targeted for abortions. Almost 80 percent of surgical abortion facilities are within walking distance of minority neighborhoods. In 2019, black babies represented 38 percent of total U.S. abortions, even though black Americans only comprise 14 percent of the U.S. population. A New York City Health Department report found that between 2012 and 2016, there were 18,299 more black babies aborted than black babies born in the city. Abortion does not empower the black population—rather, it is slowly shrinking it.

The Biden administration’s funding of “safe smoking kits” represents another failure to meet underprivileged communities in their blatantly obvious areas of deepest need. Minority communities need grocery stores, pharmacies, and real health care—not smoking kits, syringes, and abortionists waiting to kill their children.

As the United States celebrates Black History Month, the nation should pause to reflect on the current state of the union for under-resourced minority communities. Despite the immense progress made in the past century, there remain areas in which the black community is neglected or continuously targeted for harm. Initiatives like “harm reduction” programs for drug users and blocking protections for the unborn are red herrings that distract attention from the disparities in resources needed to promote human flourishing.

Progressive “Deals” Are Usually Highways Going Nowhere Quickly

by Joshua Arnold

February 7, 2022

Conservatives in Congress keep falling for the same old trick. The other side will reach across the aisle and promise to have a sincere desire for bipartisan engagement on commonsense problem-solving for the good of the American people. Conservatives will eventually take their olive branch and then, sometimes reluctantly, sometimes enthusiastically, climb on board a bus that only turns Left.

Infrastructure” Bill

The most recent example is the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed into law on November 15 after 19 Republican senators and 13 Republican representatives voted with Democrats to pass it through both chambers (six House Democrats voted “no”). It was framed as a package to fund America’s infrastructure, an issue with bipartisan support that shouldn’t be controversial. This framing helped the bill pass a narrowly-divided Congress because everyone benefits from improved infrastructure.

But not so fast, warned The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) editorial board. A memo from Stephanie Pollack, deputy administrator of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), laid out guidelines for distributing the funds that are almost as partisan as they are tedious. The memo states:

This Policy prioritizes projects that move more people and freight by modernizing and increasing the operation efficiency of existing roads and highways over projects that expand the general purpose capacity of roads and highways. Consistent with this Policy, FHWA will implement policies and undertake actions to encourage—and where permitted by law, require—recipients of Federal highway funding to select projects that improve the condition and safety of existing transportation infrastructure within the right-of-way before advancing projects that add new general purpose travel lanes serving single occupancy vehicles. (emphasis added)

The main idea this stilted, bureaucratic jargon fails to conceal is this: some projects will be prioritized over others.

On the list of winners are projects that “moderniz[e]” or “increase[e] the operation efficiency,” which is code for mass transit, or as the memo states elsewhere, “new and emerging technologies like electric vehicle charging stations.” On the list of losers are “projects that add new general purpose travel lanes serving single occupancy vehicles,” which the WSJ editors helpfully summarized: “She means cars.” In fact, before the FHWA will dispense roadway funds to help widen that over-traveled artery you take to work each day, it will “encourage—and where permitted by law, require” your state or local government to do something like add bus stops or run light rail down the median.

Thus, the “highway” funds (“only $110 billion out of $1.2 Trillion”) from the ostensibly-bipartisan infrastructure bill will benefit urban centers, where such projects are viable, over rural areas, where cars are a necessity. Part of the rationale (stated clearly in the memo) is hostility toward fossil fuels, a luxury opinion only rich urbanites can afford to indulge. But another (unstated) part of the rationale could be the growing rural-urban, red-blue political divide; the progressives who control and staff executive agencies don’t mind rewarding their allies and punishing their opponents. The WSJ editors conclude, “don’t be surprised when federal agencies continue to steer ‘bipartisan’ infrastructure funds toward progressive priorities.”

COVID-19 Relief” Bill

Of course, very few Americans care about “highways”—at most, they will care about a highway, the one they use most often. However, the case offers a particularly striking example of standard progressive tactics.

The other major bill passed into law during President Biden’s first year in office was the American Rescue Plan Act, which also passed with bipartisan support because it was framed as a COVID-19 relief measure, although much of the $1.9 trillion spent had nothing to do with coronavirus. That bill appropriated over $450 billion without making clear that these funds cannot be used to pay for abortions or go to abortion businesses. This is on top of the over $80 million that Planned Parenthood already received from the Paycheck Protection Program through previous COVID-19 relief bills. This supposedly non-controversial, bipartisan, must-pass bill may have been the largest abortion bill Congress has passed in a decade.

Women in the Draft

Last year, Democrats in Congress tried the same trick with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA funds our military every year, so Republicans are typically in favor of it. But in 2021, gender ideologues inserted a provision that would require women to register for the Selective Service. At the last moment, a handful of Republicans made removing that provision their top priority, but it nearly became the law of the land.

Obamacare

Progressives have been using this tactic for a long time. For example, when Congress was considering the Affordable Care Act in 2011, pro-life Democrats went along with their party’s overhaul of the health care system based on the guarantee that the bill would not fund abortions, and President Obama signed an executive order to that effect. Yet, Obamacare continues to subsidize abortions through health insurance plans.

Conclusion: Don’t Give in to Fake Compromise

For conservatives in Washington, bipartisanship is often a poorly-concealed snare. Bipartisanship requires shared values, and, generally speaking, the modern progressive Left isn’t interested in compromise, consensus, or finding common ground. The progressive Left is aggressively seeking power at any cost. They want to radically transform America. And to impose unpopular ideas on a “government of the people,” they have to lie about their intentions.

Sometimes people on the Right preemptively surrender the battlefield in search of peace. For example, for years, progressives have endorsed the far-Left Equality Act, which would establish special privileges for sexual orientation and gender identity and expand abortion access in federal law over and above other federally guaranteed rights such as religious freedom, women’s rights, and parental rights. Some Republicans are so alarmed by the implications of this bill that they have proposed their own, “compromise” version, titled Fairness for All. Fairness for All is essentially just the Equality Act with insufficient religious carve-outs. But this so-called “compromise” only features concessions from one side. Progressives have dug their heels in so firmly on the issue that they aren’t even pretending to care about the proposal by these few Republicans. Both the Equality Act and Fairness for All would still radically reorient American law around LGBT identity categories. If that happens, I wouldn’t put my money on the survival of religious exemptions.

The problem with compromise in today’s political climate is that progressives don’t want compromise. When they offer a “compromise,” it’s almost always in bad faith. Sometimes compromise becomes a white whale, which some Republicans chase, heedless of prudence or the reality of the situation. And when they finally get their bearings, they realize they’re miles down a highway going nowhere quickly.

The Human Costs of China’s Demographic Collapse

by Arielle Del Turco

January 25, 2022

Last week, China announced that its birth rate hit a record low in 2021 after five years of decline. In 2021, China’s population growth rate was up a measly 0.034 percent, while the number of births per thousand people fell to 7.52 in 2021 from an already low number of 8.52 in 2022.

Years of propaganda and policies discouraging families from having more than one child have had a major impact. Now, Chinese officials are scrambling to come up with ways to reverse the self-inflicted damage.

For over three decades, China brutally enforced its one-child policy, even utilizing forced abortions and sterilizations. The damage wrought by the policy is not just psychological or cultural, but also physical. A Wall Street Journal article on China’s urging of parents to have children notes that “multiple abortions impact women’s bodies and infertility is a possible consequence,” according to anthropologist Ayo Wahlberg.

Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders first instituted the one-child policy due to their concern that the growing population would strain the economy. Now, they worry about the economic cost of slowing population growth and the possibility of population decline. Mainstream media outlets cover the possibility of China’s population decline mainly as a troubling development for the rising power’s economy. Rightfully so. China has an aging population and fewer young workers to support the elderly. 

A decline in the birth rate—and certainly a population decline overall—would have high economic costs. But it will also have a human cost; that’s because families matter. Individuals belonging to a healthy family will have a support system when they age. Children and families can act as a hedge against loneliness (especially in old age) and lend purpose and meaning to life. These benefits cannot be underestimated. With population decline, nations will lose much more than numbers.

In China, the ramifications already harm millions. Most Chinese adults born under the one-child policy have no siblings and bear the weight of supporting their elderly parents alone. And only children whose parents are also only children lack the larger support network and community of an extended family.

Nothing illustrates the human cost of population decline quite like the bizarre cultural phenomena it is currently causing in Japan. For Japanese brides or grooms with few family members, “relatives” can be rented to attend weddings. For those who want the affection of a pet without the responsibility of caring for them, robot pets and rental pets are increasingly common. Meanwhile, there are now so few people that one in eight houses sit vacant; so many that there is a term for them—akiya.  

The Institute for Family Studies points out that low fertility rates very directly impact the lives of those who experience “missing births,” including “rising loneliness to aging alone to less happiness.”

Chinese leaders are scrambling to undo the damage of the one-child policy and encourage births, but some think it may be too late. There’s an air of fear in China regarding having children. It’s impossible to believe that decades of propaganda against having additional children (and abusive measures taken against families that do) is not largely to blame for this. Many couples view having multiple children as too much of a burden. Education and extracurricular costs for children are extremely high, and a culture that prioritizes career growth undercuts the importance of family.

Repressive government policies against ethnic minorities only exacerbate China’s demographic challenges. In Xinjiang, Chinese authorities are committing genocide against the Uyghur people by preventing births through forced abortions and sterilizations. The brutality of the atrocities being carried out in this region is difficult to comprehend, and women of reproductive age bear the brunt of these policies. If Chinese leaders truly want to raise the birth rate, a good first step is to stop committing genocide.

After decades of tinkering with population control, Chinese leaders have not learned their lesson. The number of children a couple is allowed to have is currently up to three, but any limitation should be removed. Chinese people—and Uyghur people—ought to be free to have as many children as they desire.

Chinese leaders should resist the temptation to use heavy-handed policies to force a rise in the birth rate. Instead of coercive measures to fix its demographic issues, they should focus on affirming the inherent value of every human life and the deep importance of families.

The world is beautiful and full of adventure. Instead of worrying about fleeting career advancements or economic gain, couples should open their hearts to invite more children in to enjoy it. Having kids can be scary—but they can also make you a better person. Governments don’t need coercive policies; they need only to affirm the profound importance of families, a truth people know deep down but need reminded of. In China and all countries experiencing lower birth rates, a change of heart about children and families can make all the difference.

Opposing Modern History’s Most Persistent Bad Idea: 5 Ways Marxism Is Influencing Us Today

by Owen Strachan

July 21, 2021

Karl Marx’s ideas continue to be popular, despite the fact that a 100 million body count and an unmatched catalogue of misery follows them like a funeral procession wherever they go. Like the NFL coach who has only failed wherever he’s gone yet somehow keeps getting jobs, Marx’s ideas never work but remain perennially popular for the young and the naive. This is sadly true today; we can clearly identify how a Marxist framework is influencing our society, and decidedly for the worse. 

As I do in greater depth in my brand-new book, Christianity and Wokeness: How the Social Justice Movement Is Hijacking the Gospel—and the Way to Stop It, I want to show in this short piece how neo-Marxist ideas are harming us all. Here are five key neo-Marxist formulations that are influencing us today.

1. “You are an oppressor if you are white.”

Marx structured all of society in terms of two groups: “every form of society has been based, as we have already seen, on the antagonism of oppressing and oppressed classes,” he and Engels wrote in The Communist Manifesto. He applied this theory economically, but today, his paradigm has been appropriated by some sociologists in their attempts to explain racial conflict. According to Critical Race Theory (CRT), white people are structurally oppressors of people of color. Having white skin means you’re automatically part of a movement of oppression. This vision of “white” people, racial Marxism, means neo-Marxism is truly neo-racism.

2. “You are oppressed if you are a person of color.”

According to CRT, people of color are fundamentally oppressed by white people. People of color do not live in a fair and prosperous order; they live in an environment framed by “white supremacy.” Robin DiAngelo defines such a culture as one “that positions white people and all that is associated with them (whiteness) as ideal.” According to woke voices, this condition terrorizes people of color, leaving them without agency, without justice, and without hope. Instead of teaching people that their freedom and destiny are in the hands of “white” oppressors, we do better to teach them to reject such a view, and take agency in their own life. Can “white” people wrong others? Absolutely. Is every “white” person a “white supremacist”? Absolutely not. 

3. “The way forward is revolution.”

Marxism talks a big game about lifting people out of squalor. But none of its tenets actually dignify the individual. Instead, Marxism denies the uniqueness of the individual, making them a mere pawn in a broader societal battle, one that ultimately causes only more suffering for the people it supposedly strengthens. The brutal forms of societal change that Marxism specializes in were on vital display last summer, when under the banner of social justice, Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and many swept-up citizens destroyed businesses, ruined neighborhoods, and caused numerous deaths. No gentle new order, this. But what else would we expect of a Marx-influenced movement?

4. “I know who you are without knowing you.”

Marxism trains people to think they know others without knowing them. If you see a white person, you know who they are, according to wokeness. You know they’re privileged; you know they’re guilty of “white fragility”; you know they’re an oppressor, even though they may well try to deny it. Racial Marxism is just like economic Marxism: it tells us we know people without knowing them. But this is baseless. In order to know someone, you need to learn about them as an individual and figure out what makes them tick. You can’t run a stereotype scan on them. You need to treat them like an actual human being, which the humane system of redemptive Christianity not only allows for but encourages.

5. “We can achieve utopia in this life.”

This is truly the primary reason why Marxism continues to recur despite its abysmal track record. People are suckers for a utopian vision. As I make clear in Christianity and Wokeness, we all feel pulled to one in some sense, even though Christians should know that this world is not going to become perfect outside of divine agency. Nonetheless, Marx’s ideals, like leftist “progressivism” more broadly, hook fresh generations of catch all the same. People in the West continually believe, in fresh cycles, that Marx’s ideas will surely work this time around. That mythic boost never happens, however. Violence and bloodshed invariably explode, and yet this formulation continues to get traction in each generation. It is a repeat performance as comedic as it is tragic.

In sum, Marx’s vision looks so promising to so many. But it is far better to realize that Marx’s utopia is not possible. It would be a much better idea to accept a world in which one must make and accept “tradeoffs” rather than casting about for a perfect cure-all to every problem that ails us. If we could get people off the drug of paradisical statism, we would help them tremendously, queueing them up to appreciate the free market, free speech, free governments, and a free church. In yet simpler terms, we would liberate them—at least for now—from the clutches of history’s most persistent bad idea: Marxism. 

Owen Strachan’s recent interview about his new book on Washington Watch with Tony Perkins can be viewed here.

Owen Strachan is a Senior Fellow for FRC’s Center for Biblical Worldview. A graduate of Bowdoin College, Dr. Strachan is the author of Christianity and Wokeness: How the Social Justice Movement Is Hijacking the Gospel—and the Way to Stop It, Provost of Grace Bible Theological Seminary, and host of The Antithesis podcast.

California’s Latest Travel Ban Should Be a Teachable Moment for Conservatives

by Damon Sidur , Gabby Wiggins

July 16, 2021

On June 28, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that California will add five more states to its travel ban. State-funded travel will no longer be permitted to states on this list because they passed bills that California considers “discriminatory.”

The number of states on California’s anti-travel list has been growing over the years and has now reached a total of 17, with this new addition of Florida, Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia. The ban will have an impact on public school trips, universities, teacher conferences, and any other business that public employees of the state of California may need to attend around the country.

Bonta justified the additions to the travel ban by claiming the moral high ground. “The states [banned] are a part of a recent, dangerous wave of discriminatory new bills signed into law in states across the country that directly work to ban transgender youth from playing sports, block access to life-saving care, or otherwise limit the rights of members of the LGBTQ community,” Bonta’s office explained in a press release. However, these laws are necessary to (1) preserve fair competition in women’s sports by requiring that athletes who identify as transgender participate in sports according to their biological sex, and (2) to prevent youth from making drastic, permanent life-altering decisions (like taking puberty blocking drugs) until they reach adulthood, such as Arkansas’ SAFE Act.

The first travel ban from California was introduced in 2017. Then-Attorney General Xavier Becerra signed into law Assembly Bill 1887, which prohibited a state agency, department, board, or commission from requiring any state employees, officers, or members to travel to a state that has so-called “discriminatory” laws against gender identity, expression, or sexual orientation. The first state it applied to was Oklahoma.

Oklahoma had signed into law Senate Bill 1140, which allowed private foster care/adoption agencies to use their own discretion when placing children into homes. For religious organizations, it meant that they could continue to place children only into families with a mother and a father. Neither adoption nor foster care by those identifying as LGBTQ is banned in Oklahoma; the bill simply upholds that private organizations are allowed to operate in accordance with their beliefs. However, according to advocates of the LGBTQ cause, SB 1140  discriminated against those identifying as LGBTQ. Allie Shin, the External Affairs Director of ACLU Oklahoma, stated that “Rather than stand up to religious fanaticism, the Governor has chosen to reinforce the delusions of those who confuse discrimination with liberty.” Shortly after, California enacted AB1887.

However, Becerra didn’t stop at just Oklahoma. Over the course of the next several years, he signed laws prohibiting state-funded travel to Texas, Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, South Carolina, South Dakota, Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. All of these states have passed laws similar to Oklahoma’s or that fall under the category of LGBTQ issues.

Blocking state-funded travel to a third of the country comes with consequential economic impacts. Lisa Hermes, the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce in McKinney, Texas, said that “the state could lose out on as much as $1 billion dollars of economic impact if the NCAA canceled its events currently slated to take place in Texas — such as the 2024 College Football Playoff National Championship game set for Houston and the 2023 Women’s Final Four in Dallas.” In Louisville, Kentucky, the city lost over $2 million in revenue after two companies canceled events they were going to hold there. Even Nashville, which is a left-leaning city, was impacted after the American Counseling Association canceled a meeting they had scheduled, which would have brought 3,000 visitors to the state (and business to hotels and restaurants to boot) and would have brought in $4 million worth of tax revenue.

While these new bans by California are obviously more harmful than helpful, they are also a dangerous example of the level that the Left will stoop to in order to make a large statement. It’s hard to argue against the fact that by shutting down state-funded travel to 17 states, California’s stances on issues like transgenderism are getting lots of attention. This travel ban is one of many ways that the Left is forcing culture to align with their agenda. There’s also issues like the MLB moving its All-Star Game out of Georgia because of pressure from the Left.

With all of this happening in the culture around us, what is our role as Christians and conservatives? The Left is following through on what they say they’re going to do, and it’s having an economic impact. How should we respond? We need to follow through on our beliefs as well and use God’s word as the basis for our decisions and actions. As Christians, we need to firmly take a stand not just with our words, but with our actions by using our hard-earned money to make an economic impact for biblical values just as the Left is making an economic impact with their policies. As believers, we can do this by supporting companies and organizations that align with our biblical values.

Gabby Wiggins is a Brand Advancement intern at Family Research Council.

Damon Sidur is a Communications intern at Family Research Council.

In Pakistan, Economic Pressure Can Make a Difference for Persecuted Christians

by Arielle Del Turco

July 8, 2021

A Pakistani court has sent 13-year-old Nayab Gill back into the custody of a Muslim man who her parents claim kidnapped her. Ignoring documents that prove Nayab was underage, the court’s decision broke the hearts of the Roman Catholic parents. Her distraught father, Shahid Gill, say “My child then left the courtroom in front of our eyes, and we could do nothing.”

On May 20, Nayab went missing. An alleged Islamic marriage certificate was produced to the court baring the same date. Several problems are apparent in how the case was handled, and the decision to allow a minor to marry goes against Pakistani law. Unfortunately, instances of kidnapping of Christian girls, forced conversion to Islam, and forced marriage is not as uncommon as it should be in Pakistan.

The Continued Persecution of Pakistani Christians

Nayab is a Christian in a country where Christians make up a small minority—just 1.27 percent of the population. They are a marginalized group. Many are illiterate and undereducated. These social factors make the Christian community particularly vulnerable to exploitation.

The forced conversion and forced marriage of Christian girls by Muslim men is an unfortunately common problem. Many estimates suggest that around 1,000 Christian and Hindu girls and young women are kidnapped, forcibly converted to Islam, and forced to marry their abductors each year.

While many Pakistanis are disgusted by this practice—just like many were grieved by the reports about Sunita Masih—Islamist mobs and a failure by Pakistan’s government to secure the rule of law enable this problem to continue. When extremist mobs form outside courthouses and threaten judges who might rule in favor of a Christian or Hindu victim, judges often relent and send the victims back to live with their abductors. This capitulation does an immense disservice to Pakistani minorities who seek justice.

When an investigation or court case involves a religious minority victim and a Muslim perpetrator, Pakistani radicals often view the cases as a challenge to Islam, rather than a question of criminality. Due to this dynamic, perpetrators may target Christians or Hindus as victims to hide their crimes behind religious tensions.

Attacks on Pakistani Christians are brutal. In April, seven houses belonging to Christian families were set on fire by Muslim extremists trying to take their land, according to International Christian Concern. In May, reports surfaced that a mob of over 200 Muslim men had attacked a Christian community in a small village, harming Christians and destroying property. The incident was reportedly sparked by a disagreement between teenage Christian workers and a Muslim man.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most recent report from the Pakistani government indicates that the Christian population has declined over the last two decades. Christian leaders say that intense discrimination has sent Pakistani Christians to seek better lives in other countries across Asia.

Economic Pressure Provides a Ray of Hope for the Persecuted

Promoting religious freedom in Pakistan is extraordinarily challenging. Yet, a major recent victory indicates that international pressure can make all the difference for religious minorities.

In June, the Lahore High Court acquitted Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel, who had been on death row since 2014 for supposedly sending a blasphemous text message. The couple is illiterate and claim the text came from a SIM card registered by someone using a copy of Shagufta’s national identity card. Imprisoned since 2013, the couple were separated from their four children and lived in fear of attacks from fellow prisoners.

After years of delays, the court’s decision to acquit the couple finally came just weeks after the European Parliament highlighted their case in a recent resolution against Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. But the resolution did not just condemn blasphemy laws. It also called for a review of Pakistan’s eligibility for GSP+ status in light of current events. This is a tariff preference that benefits developing countries, and losing it would have a significant economic impact.

Maybe it is a coincidence that this couple was acquitted following the European Parliament’s resolution calling for their release, but after appealing the decision for years, the timing is hard to ignore. And the threat of economic pressure has proven to be effective at moving governments to change tack on their human rights violations in the past.

Most notably, American Pastor Andrew Brunson was freed from his imprisonment in Turkey after the U.S. Treasury Department issued Global Magnitsky sanctions on Turkish leaders. These successes should encourage Western countries to utilize the economic leverage they have to uphold internationally recognized human rights standards.

Pakistan is a young democracy, and to secure a peaceful and prosperous future, it is essential that the government work to eliminate religious persecution and discrimination. The international community must also do its part to hold Pakistan to a higher standard of human rights.

We live in a time where hatred directed at religious believers is flaring across the globe, often with violent consequences. International religious freedom is not a feel-good issue that can be relegated to the sidelines of foreign policy. The promotion of religious freedom across the globe is critical to peace, security, rule of law, and development. For the sake of innocent victims like Nayab, American leaders must take it seriously.

The Media Attacks Churches for Getting PPP Loans, But Ignores Planned Parenthood

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP , Samantha Stahl

July 15, 2020

As reports began trickling in last week about which organizations received coronavirus relief funds, it became known that Planned Parenthood received at least $150 million in funds, and several businesses connected to Members of Congress also received funds. Despite this controversy over which organizations received relief funds, the media has singled out the church as being the most egregious recipient of them all.

The AP recently reported that the Roman Catholic Church lobbied the Trump administration to receive $1.4 billion in coronavirus relief funds and Reuters revealed that several evangelical churches with ties to the Trump administration also received funds. With targeted attacks on faith-based organizations, the media missed several marks about how the program operates and further demonstrates a basic misunderstanding of how religious institutions operate. 

The Media Ignores the Details

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), first passed in the CARES Act, is designed to grant forgivable loans to small businesses and nonprofit organizations specifically to keep employees on their employers’ payroll during the coronavirus pandemic. These loans are administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA), and because of that it has led to confusion that nonprofits including churches are not eligible. However, the legislation explicitly allows nonprofit organizations to be eligible for the program. The text of the legislation was not initially clear on whether religious nonprofits were eligible or not, so at the request of several Members of Congress, the SBA issued an FAQ document clearly stating that faith-based entities can receive PPP funds.

The program is also very clear on how the funds must be used for forgiveness eligibility. The funds must be used on payroll, mortgage payments, rent, or utilities to qualify for forgiveness; otherwise the funding acts as a normal loan complete with interest and other obligations. This ensures that the funds are directly used to help employees from being furloughed, and that funds are not used on expressly religious activities. Furthermore, this program is open to all faith-based entities regardless of religious affiliation. It does not provide special treatment for Christian or Jewish organizations; even the stridently atheist advocacy group Freedom From Religion Foundation received a PPP loan. This fact alone should help alleviate concerns that the government is somehow violating the establishment clause of the Constitution by unfairly favoring specific churches and religious groups.

The Unique Structure of Churches

However, the main point of contention comes with the affiliation rule that Congress included in the CARES Act. This rule was included so that small businesses or nonprofits that have the same ownership, management, finances, or identity of a larger organization will have their total employees counted together to exclude small organizations that may already have the necessary financial help from a larger umbrella organization. This is the provision which gave the SBA the authority to exclude Planned Parenthood from receiving PPP loans, yet it was not enforced, which lead Planned Parenthood to be given $150 million in funds. It’s also the same provision which some have argued should exclude churches which are affiliates of a larger entity like the Catholic Church.

However, this concern reveals a basic misunderstanding of the structure of religious organizations and has unfortunately led to attacks on churches for supposedly violating this rule. For the most part, churches affiliated with larger entities like the Southern Baptist Convention or the Catholic Church operate independently. They raise their own money, take out their own loans, pay their own utility costs, and hire and manage their own staff. In many respects, these churches operate as independent organizations to best serve their local community, resembling the operations of a small business. For example, within the Southern Baptist Convention—the largest Protestant denomination in America—each church is considered autonomous. This is a basic tenet of Baptist ecclesiology; churches can give a percentage of their undesignated receipts to their state convention to support missions and ministries through the Cooperate Program if they choose to, but are not punished or removed from the convention if they do not.

These considerations show that the media’s narrative on churches and the PPP program is not accurate, especially when it comes to churches that are connected to larger affiliate organizations for specifically religious reasons like directing religious teachings or assigning pastors to minister to specific churches. The SBA recognized this in their guidance for faith-based organizations applying for coronavirus relief funds. In fact, the SBA FAQs clearly applies the First Amendment to the program, noting:

If the connection between your organization and another entity that would constitute an affiliation is based on a religious teaching or belief or is otherwise a part of the exercise of religion, your organization qualifies for an exemption from the affiliation rules. For example, if your faith-based organization affiliates with another organization because of your organization’s religious beliefs about church authority or internal constitution, or because the legal, financial, or other structural relationships between your organization and other organizations reflect an expression of such beliefs, your organization would qualify for the exemption.

While it may seem like Planned Parenthood and large religious affiliate organizations like a Catholic diocese have a similar structure and both should be ineligible for PPP loans, only these faith-based institutions are eligible for the religious exemption that is consistent with constitutional and statutory religious freedom protections.

Religion as an Important Public Good

Churches have employees they must continue to pay during the pandemic just like any other for-profit business. In addition to taking care of their workers, churches must also pay interest on mortgages or rent for the space they use as well as utilities to keep the lights on. These requirements have been met by the churches that have lawfully been granted a PPP loan.

Moreover, it is important to realize that churches also play an essential role in ministering to people’s needs. With the shutdown of churches due to COVID-19, many of these mercy ministers have been affected. Outside of the government, the Catholic Church supplies a huge portion of the social services in America, serving millions of people who are suffering now more than ever. In response to the targeted reporting on churches receiving PPP loans, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called the loans an “essential lifeline” for employees and their families. The PPP loans play an important part in the ability of churches to continue their support of their brothers and sisters in Christ, especially during this time of financial instability.

While it is understandable to raise concerns about certain organizations improperly applying for a PPP loan, media hit pieces like the AP article are nothing more than attacks on people of faith and religious organizations. Tragically, lies and falsehoods have a price; in the last few days as the mainstream media has singled out faith-based organizations in their reporting, religious statues have been vandalized and churches have been burned.   

Not only are attacks on churches lawfully applying for aid appalling, the comparative lack of media attention to the fact that Planned Parenthood improperly applied for the PPP loan is astounding. Planned Parenthood is not even remotely close to a small employer since its number of employees dwarf the 500-employee limit for eligibility for the PPP loan, yet they applied for and received millions of dollars in aid while also continuing to lobby for further financial assistance in future coronavirus relief legislation.

This whole situation makes it clear that the media and ruling elites of our country find churches and religious organizations, which often labor quietly for the common good for all of society, more abhorrent than abortion facilities designed specifically to end the lives of innocent human beings. Now is the time for the church and people of faith to stand for what is good and right and push back against a worldview which values the destruction of human life over the salvation of souls. 

Connor Semelsberger is the Legislative Assistant at Family Research Council.

Samantha Stahl is a Communications intern at Family Research Council.

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