Category archives: Government

FRC On the Hill (March 8-12): Covid Relief Spending, a Radical Foreign Policy Agenda, and Extreme Nominees

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP , Joseph Norris

March 12, 2021

Family Research Council wrapped up another busy week monitoring activity in Congress that affects life, family, and religious freedom and being your voice on Capitol Hill. Here are the most important Hill items FRC worked on this week.

Congress Passes the American Rescue Plan Act, Sending $450 Billion to the Abortion Industry

This week Congress passed, and President Biden signed, the American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package that has more to do with funding abortion than providing necessary relief to Americans. The bill was rammed through both chambers of Congress and despite Biden’s promise of unity, did not receive the support of a single Republican. Throughout the process, FRC worked diligently to add in key provisions that would prohibit taxpayer funding for abortion and promote religious freedom.

The bill includes funding for a litany of things, some having to do with the pandemic such as testing, vaccines, and economic relief in the form of stimulus checks. However this relief is held hostage by the  billions that lack bipartisan restrictions on federal funding for abortion. For the first time in decades, taxpayer money can and likely will go to directly paying for ending the lives of the unborn. This in addition to the $10 billion that can be used to lobby for abortion overseas. The FRC team spent the week informing senators and members of Congress about just how much this bill subsidizes the abortion industry.

While Biden is trumpeting this bill as a “historic victory” for Americans, it is a devastating loss for the unborn and the consciences of Americans who do not want their taxpayer funds paying for the horrific practice of abortion.

See FRC’s resource for more information:

Secretary of State Charts out Biden’s Radical Foreign Policy Agenda

Secretary of State Antony Blinken appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to highlight the foreign policy priorities of the Biden administration. Right from the beginning in his opening statement, Blinken openly stated the goals of promoting “women’s reproductive rights” and advancing “LGBT rights” across the globe. As a result, FRC has been tracking the Biden administration’s foreign policy actions to make transparent how dramatic of a shift this is from the policies implemented under the Trump administration.

Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.), a strong advocate for the unborn, directly challenged Blinken’s support for countries with population control programs and urged the administration to “speak out” against China and their forced abortion policy. Rather than committing to taking action, Blinken repeated his pledge that we need to focus on human rights across the globe.

The White House also took action this week to entrench a radical sexuality ideology by establishing a new Gender Policy Council via Executive Order. The stated goals of the Council include advancing gender identity and abortion in both domestic and foreign policy. The report stated the need to “promote sexual and reproductive health and rights” across the globe.

Biden’s Executive Orders and Blinken’s statements during the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing showcase the unilateral action the Biden administration plans to take on abortion and human sexuality. This is a far cry from Biden’s promise of unity and Blinken’s repeated promise to work with Congress.

The Senate Continues to Advance Biden’s Radical Nominees

This week, FRC was focused on informing senators about the radical positions of Biden’s nominees, as they are up for confirmation in the Senate. While many of Biden’s picks are concerning, these are the individuals chosen who warrant the most concern:

Shalanda Young: Nominated to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, Young was advanced by the Senate Homeland Security Committee despite all Republicans present voting no. Senator Lankford provided great remarks explaining their opposition, highlighting Young’s shocking opposition to the Hyde Amendment and other protections against forcing doctors to perform abortions. See FRC’s blog on Young here.

Marcia Fudge: The Senate voted 66-36 to confirm Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) as the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Based on her record in Congress, there are deep concerns that Fudge will roll back protections for religious liberty in the name of LGBTQ equality. See FRC’s blog on Fudge here.

Merrick Garland: Confirmed by a 70-30 vote to be the next U.S. Attorney General, Garland passed with bipartisan support. This is in spite of reservations about a repeat of the Obama administration’s Justice Department.

Xavier Becerra: With a radical track record, Becerra needed a discharge petition vote of 51-48 to bring his nomination to the Senate floor, after a deadlocked vote in the Senate Finance Committee. Despite grave concerns over Becerra’s strong history supporting abortion, both Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine) who have supported pro-life legislation in the past, publicly supported his nomination. See FRC’s blog on Becerra here.

Other Notable Items FRC Tracked This Week

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Vanita Gupta to be an associate attorney general. Gupta has taken radical positions on drug legalization and religious freedom protections.
  • The House Appropriations Committee held a hearing on expanding veterans access to fertility services with a goal of expanding in-vitro fertilization procedures for veterans without pro-life restrictions to protect human embryos from being destroyed.
  • The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on loosening federal policies on controlled substances. Democrat leaders used the hearing to push legalizing marijuana as a social justice issue. 

Biden’s Cabinet (Part 5): Abortion Extremist Neera Tanden May Soon Be Replaced With Another – Shalanda Young

by Ruth Moreno

March 11, 2021

This is Part 5 of a blog series examining the records of President Biden’s Cabinet picks on abortion and family issues. Read previous posts on Antony BlinkenXavier BecerraJennifer Granholm, and Marcia Fudge.

President Biden’s latest cabinet pick is another pro-abortion extremist. After Neera Tanden’s nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget was withdrawn over her radical policy positions, many senators, including Republicans, rallied around Shalanda Young, his nominee to be Deputy Director of OMB as an alternative to Tanden. Unfortunately, during her nomination hearing, it was revealed that Young opposes both the Hyde Amendment and the Weldon Amendment, bipartisan measures meant to prevent tax dollars from funding abortion and protect the conscience rights of pro-life Americans.

Young’s responses to Senator James Lankford’s (R-Okla.) questions for the record after a March 4 committee hearing confirm these radical positions. When asked about the Hyde Amendment, which has stopped taxpayer dollars from being used to pay for elective abortions since 1976, Young responded as follows:

If confirmed I will follow the laws put forth by Congress and signed by the President. The President has spoken in favor of Congress ending the Hyde Amendment as part of his commitment to providing comprehensive health care for all women. Further, eliminating the Hyde Amendment is a matter of economic and racial justice because it most significantly impacts Medicaid recipients, who are low-income and more likely to be women of color.

Young’s response, far from being a straightforward statement about the law or about the Biden administration’s policy agenda, suggests that she is an active supporter of the elimination of the Hyde Amendment. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said as much when he explained why he voted against confirming Young:

I had planned to support Ms. Young based on her testimony before the committee,” Portman said. “In reviewing her answers to the committee’s questions for the record, though, I’ve got to say I was really troubled by her responses, particularly her strong advocacy for eliminating the Hyde amendment.”

Young’s position on the Weldon Amendment is equally worrisome. The Weldon Amendment, which protects individuals who have a religious or moral objection to participating in an abortion, has been included in funding bills since 2005. This important conscience protection withholds federal funding from agencies or programs that discriminate against health care providers that do not pay for or promote abortion, but Young’s response when asked about the Weldon Amendment did not suggest her support:

If confirmed I will follow the laws put forth by Congress and signed by the President. The President has laid out a health care plan that would provide comprehensive health care for all women, including reproductive health care services.

Young gave Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) nearly identical responses, adding that if she is confirmed to the position as Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget, she “will work with the Department of Health and Human Services to determine the effect the Weldon Amendment has on healthcare implementation, especially vulnerable populations.”

Young is right that public servants should consider the needs of vulnerable populations, but abortion is not the solution. Forcing pro-life Americans to fund a practice they believe is morally equivalent to murder and penalizing health care providers with religious or moral objections to abortion does nothing for the needy. Young should know better than to disguise her opposition to the Hyde and Weldon amendments as concern for the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed.

Biden’s Cabinet (Part 4): Marcia Fudge Would Roll Back Religious Liberty Protections at HUD

by Joseph Norris , Mia Steupert

March 10, 2021

This is Part 4 of a blog series examining the records of President Biden’s Cabinet picks on abortion and family issues. Read previous posts on Antony BlinkenXavier Becerra, and Jennifer Granholm.

The ongoing debate over how legal protections for sexual orientation and gender ideology impact individuals, businesses, religious institutions, and the public square will take center stage under President Biden’s administration. This is something President Biden’s nominee to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Marcia Fudge will have to grapple with if she is confirmed. The six-term Democratic Congresswoman from Ohio will be in charge of leading a department that is tasked with ensuring housing for low-income individuals through a litany of government-funded programs. It is likely that she will strengthen Obama-era regulations that prioritized LGBTQ-identified individuals over others, including women, girls, individuals of faith, and faith-based organizations.

A study released by Baylor University found that most homeless shelters in the United States are run by Christian organizations. These organizations could bear the brunt of the liberal sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) policies that are passed by HUD. If Fudge is confirmed, she will have the opportunity to renew and further the Obama-era policies that used departmental rules to elevate protections of LGBTQ-identified individuals over others. Already, she voted in favor of codifying these special protections back in 2014, which would have enforced the LBTGQ ideology on private contractors with traditional religious beliefs. President Obama used HUD to advance LGBTQ ideology, when back in 2009, his administration commissioned a study to investigate discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. This led to a 2012 rule which forced participants in HUD-assisted and HUD-insured housing programs to forfeit their religious beliefs if they wanted to continue their participation. Following this, a 2016 rule regarding HUD’s Community Planning and Development Programs was finalized which forced those participating in these programs (like sex-segregated homeless shelters) to allow biological men into private spaces intended for biological women and to forfeit their religious beliefs if they wanted to continue participation.

In 2020, the Trump administration proposed a rule to begin to roll back these regulations with then-Secretary Ben Carson remarking that this was an attempt to “better accommodate religious beliefs of shelter providers.” This rule would have given those operating as single-sex or sex-segregated facilities some flexibility in developing their own “admissions determination” policies. While the rule would not have given complete freedom, since organizations were still bound by local policy, it gave facilities more freedom to exercise their religious beliefs. Additionally, in compliance with a 2018 executive order titled “White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative,” nine federal agencies, including HUD, finalized a rule that these agencies must give faith-based organizations the same opportunities to participate in their programs as their secular counterparts. With Fudge’s past voting record as a congresswomen, her past statements and her backing by the Human Rights Campaign for her pro-LGBTQ voting record, it is safe to assume that Fudge will scale back the advances for religious liberty made at HUD by the Trump administration.

There has been no clear statement whether Congresswoman Fudge would continue these policies, but her voting record is a strong indication. During her 12 years in Congress, she developed a strong pro-LGBTQ voting record. In 2011, she sponsored a bill that would add SOGI protections to school activities and facilities. Similarly, she voted in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would have amended the Defense of Marriage Act to codify same-sex marriage. Outside of Congress she has publicly supported SOGI ideology and called for more action on the issue. Given her past record and her statements, it is likely that Marcia Fudge will not only push for a return to the regulations from the Obama administration but will also take these rules that threaten the religious liberty of Americans to new heights.

President Biden has already shown during his first few weeks in office that he has no problem advancing his liberal agenda through unilateral action. Fudge could issue memoranda or guidance and oversee rules that limit religious liberty and force organizations across the country to decide between their faith and access to greater resources to help the needy in their community, including battered women and the homeless. We should all pray that, if confirmed, Fudge’s actions do not come to fruition, for if they did, they would limit the avenues of help for those in need. If she is confirmed, we pray for a conversion of her heart and that she will use her platform to uphold the religious liberty rights of all people.

Joseph Norris is a Policy and Government Affairs intern focusing on pro-life issues.

Mia Steupert is a Policy and Government Affairs intern focusing on family and religious liberty.

Arkansas Is on Its Way to Protecting All Unborn Life

by Mary Jayne Caum

March 4, 2021

That government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” - President Abraham Lincoln

Yesterday, the Arkansas House of Representatives followed the will of the Arkansas citizenry and voted to protect an inherent right of all people: the right to life.

Recognizing that life begins at conception, AR SB 6, the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act, sponsored by Senator Jason Rapert and Representative Mary Bentley, specifically calls on the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the erroneous decisions of Roe, Doe, and Casey. Anticipating critics’ claim that stare decisis must stand and past Supreme Court decisions are untouchable, SB 6 provides a brief history to answer this claim by detailing in the legislative findings the Supreme Court’s egregious mistakes of the past: Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson. SB 6 explains how the Supreme Court denied the personhood of African Americans throughout the United States in the Dred Scott decision and later reaffirmed this racist and inhumane position when it denied African Americans equal protection in Plessy’s “separate but equal” doctrine. By highlighting these two decisions of the Court, not only does SB 6 explain how our top court has erred, but it places Roe, Doe, and Casey alongside Dred Scott and Plessy as atrocious decisions. As SB 6 explains, the American people have corrected the judicial sins of Scott and Plessy, and the Supreme Court has overturned these unjust precedents.

The erroneous stare decisis of Scott and Plessy were overturned and invalidated by the Civil War Amendments and Brown v. Board of Education. SB 6 calls on the Supreme Court to again listen to the American people and overturn the Roe, Doe, and Casey decisions. By criminalizing abortion at all stages except when the life of the pregnant mother is at risk, the Arkansas legislature has upheld the ideals of our Declaration of Independence and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address by legally recognizing the government’s responsibility to honor and protect all people’s right to life, including the unborn. While explicitly protecting the pregnant women whom the abortion was performed on from prosecution, SB 6 designates the crime of abortion as an “unclassified felony.” The penalty for committing this felony of abortion is either a fine of $100,000 or up to 10 years imprisonment, or both. By criminalizing this crime against humanity, SB 6 punishes the perpetrator while protecting both the mother and child from legal or physical harm.

SB 6 is a bold bill that, if signed by Governor Asa Hutchinson, would demonstrate the will of a number of American people that the government should protect innocent lives, not sanction their destruction. While calling on the Supreme Court to overturn the bad precedent of Roe, Doe, and Casey, SB 6 outlines how the Court has made horrific mistakes in the past—such as Scott and Plessy—that were later corrected by the American people through both the legislature and the judiciary. In Roe, Doe, and Casey, the Court should do the same. Although our government has ignored the will of the American people and the cries of her massacred unborn children for almost 50 years now, SB 6 marks a return to government of, by, and for the people. By calling on the Supreme Court to overturn mistaken and dangerous precedent, SB 6 is upholding the ideals of government of and by the people. By protecting our most vulnerable, SB 6 signals the return of government for the people.

We pray SB 6 and many more like it are enacted and the Supreme Court overturns its erroneous rulings so government for the people—including innocent unborn people—shall not perish from the earth.

Arkansans, please tell Governor Asa Hutchinson to sign SB 6 and enact this historic pro-life bill!

Mary Jayne Caum is a Government Affairs Research Assistant at Family Research Council.

The Equality Act Demands Conformity to Moral Anarchy

by David Closson

March 1, 2021

Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Equality Act, legislation that supporters say is necessary to protect those who identify as LGBT from unjust discrimination in employment, housing, education, and other areas of American life. The bill passed by a 224-206 vote; only three Republicans joined Democrats to support it (down from eight who voted for it in 2019).

While some praised the passing of the bill in the House as a step toward ending discrimination, a careful analysis of the bill reveals that the Equality Act would codify into law the most extreme demands of the moral revolution while stigmatizing anyone who dares to dissent from the new orthodoxy.

On paper, the Equality Act proposes almost 60 amendments to nearly 10 different laws including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Civil Rights Act of 1968, and the Fair Housing Act. While eradicating discrimination is a commendable goal, it is clear the Equality Act will do nothing to end discrimination. In fact, if enacted into law, the bill will accelerate discrimination against tens of millions of Americans whose beliefs on marriage and human sexuality are informed by science and religious convictions.

While the implications of a bill as expansive as the Equality Act are difficult to calculate, the most immediate effects are clear. For starters, the Equality Act would dramatically expand abortion access, remove religious liberty protections, virtually end women’s and girls’ sports, and threaten Christian seminaries, universities, and colleges.

On the issue of human life, the Equality Act effectively creates a legislative right to abortion. It does this primarily via changes to Title II of the Civil Rights Act regarding “Public Accommodations.” Health care would be added as a “public accommodation” and “sex” would be added as a protected class. “Sex” is redefined to include “pregnancy… or a related medical condition.” Courts have ruled that “related medical condition” includes abortion. Further, the Equality Act has no conscience protections for health care providers who morally oppose abortion or restriction on taxpayers funding of abortion.

The Equality Act also severely undermines religious liberty. First, by expanding the definition of a public accommodation to include any establishment that provides goods, services, or programs to their communities, churches that operate food banks, homeless shelters, and the like, could be compelled to comply with the Equality Act’s requirements in how they run these programs. They would no longer be allowed to have sex-segregated services and programs or private facilities when operating these services and programs. While ministerial exemptions will continue (for now) to protect churches from hiring clergy who openly identify as homosexual, churches could be required to hire people for non-ministerial positions who do not agree with the church’s beliefs on marriage and sexuality. Second, the Equality Act explicitly exempts itself from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which passed unanimously in the House and 97-3 in the Senate before President Bill Clinton signed it into law in 1993. If a religious individual believes the Equality Act has violated their beliefs, RFRA is no longer a claim they can bring in court; if they are sued for non-compliance, RFRA is not a defense they can raise.

Third, the Equality Act virtually ends women’s and girls’ sports. Already, biological male athletes are winning athletic competitions against biological females in places like Connecticut that allow athletes to compete based on their gender identify. For example, since 2017, two biological male runners in Connecticut have won a combined 15 girls state indoor or outdoor championship races. By redefining “sex” to include the contested category of gender identity, competitions reserved for women and girls would have to admit biological males who identify as female. Not only is this unfair to the tens of thousands of female athletes who have little to no chance of beating male athletes, it is also unsafe in high contact sports because biological males are naturally faster and stronger. Therefore, another consequence of the Equality Act is erasing scholarship and recruitment opportunities for female athletes.

Women’s safety and privacy are also sacrificed on the altar of political correctness by requiring the admittance of biological males who identify as female into bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, and changing facilities reserved for biological females.

Additionally, if enacted into law, the Equality Act would threaten the existence of Christian seminaries, universities, and colleges that receive any form of federal financial assistance, potentially including federal loans which many students use to pay tuition. By amending Title IV of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, a “catch all” non-discrimination provision on all federal funds, the Equality Act would require schools that receive federal funding to comply with its sexual orientation/gender identity (SOGI) requirements, including admissions and housing standards. The financial impact of this would be devastating for Christian colleges and many would be forced to shut down.

Given its House passage, the bill now moves to the U.S. Senate, where Democrats also have control. It is alarming that a bill which denies the reality of womanhood, expands abortion, and guts religious liberty is this close to becoming law. But hope is not lost—Senate passage is not a foregone conclusion, and Americans should mobilize to ensure it is defeated. Family Research Council has resources that people can use to educate themselves and others about the bill. Additionally, people can contact their senators and inform them of their opposition to the Equality Act.

As those who believe that all people are made in God’s image and possess inherent value and dignity, Christians should oppose discrimination. But despite its clever name, the Equality Act does nothing to advance equality or stymie discrimination. Instead, the legislation would mandate conformity to an ideology antithetical to core tenets of the Christian worldview and codify a host of harmful social policies (detailed above) that touch on nearly every facet of life. Therefore, it should be opposed vigorously. 

Biden’s Cabinet (Part 3): Jennifer Granholm’s Radical Worldview and Abortion Policies

by Molly Carman , Joseph Norris

February 24, 2021

This is Part 3 of a blog series examining the records of President Biden’s Cabinet picks on abortion and family issues. Read Part 1 on Antony Blinken and Part 2 on Xavier Becerra.

Jennifer Granholm, who served as the Governor of Michigan from 2003-2011, is back in the national spotlight as President Joe Biden has nominated her to lead the U.S. Department of Energy. The Energy Department is tasked with overseeing America’s energy supply and carrying out environmental clean-ups. As the Secretary of the department, she would have a major influence on environmental policies, and would be responsible for enacting Biden’s climate change policies.

Why should American Christians care about Jennifer Granholm’s nomination to lead the Department of Energy? When there are so many pressing issues that demand our attention, does the Department of Energy—and the one leading the department—really require sustained thought and reflection? In short, the answer is “yes.”

On the issue of the environment and creation care, David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview explained, “Christians should care about the environment because it reflects the glory of God.” But he also cautions that Christians should not become “subservient to the created order.” Christians are called to exercise stewardship over the created world and should oppose efforts to exploit it. While the Bible is clear that the created world primarily exists to bring glory to God, it also exists to serve man’s needs. An unbiblical line is crossed when nature is defied or elevated in importance over people who are made in God’s image.

Unfortunately, in comments made during Granholm’s nomination hearing, it appears Biden’s nominee will pursue energy and environmental policies that prioritize politics over people. Several times during the hearing, she dodged questions about the economic impact of her new green policies and how many jobs might be lost due to them. Moreover, it is difficult to believe that Granholm, who has claimed to be Catholic, will hold to biblical principles on her environmental policy given her radical positions on other issues, such as abortion.

It should be concerning to Christians everywhere that the nominee to lead the Department of Energy would care so much about saving the planet for future generations, and simultaneously promote a pro-abortion agenda that directly harms future generations in the womb. Granholm considers herself a champion for abortion, showing hostility toward the lives of the unborn. For example, in a 2012 op-ed, Granholm smeared pro-life measures as a “war on women,” perpetrated by “white male legislatures” to enforce their power on women. During an interview that same year, she claimed that the pro-life movement was allegedly seeking to degrade women by assuming they are unable to make decisions for themselves.

Granholm’s pro-abortion ideology marked her tenure as Michigan’s governor. On two separate occasions, she vetoed a Partial Birth Abortion Ban—which protects babies that are near birth from being killed while being born. This same ban was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007. She negotiated with the Michigan legislature to loosen restrictions on abortions, preventing a bill that would require an ultrasound prior to receiving an abortion. In her second term as governor, she advocated for a ballot provision that would allow aborted fetal stem cell research in Michigan. Unfortunately, Emily’s List, the pro-abortion group that recruits abortion-friendly candidates, got exactly what they wanted when they endorsed her for governor.

Environmental policy has become entangled with protecting the unborn due to recent comments from prominent members of the Democratic Party. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) claimed that funding abortions helps to reduce the world’s population, thereby helping fight climate change. In addition, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) alluded to a similar idea, describing what she viewed as the “disaster” our planet will be in without eliminating the effects of climate change. Along these lines, she claimed that millennials should legitimately question if it is still acceptable to have children. Unfortunately, this type of thinking is becoming mainstream in progressive circles, as high profile figures suggest that abortion is a necessary means to prevent overpopulation.

One’s worldview, whether biblical or not, will be revealed in the way they live their life. In the case of Granholm, how she leads, the decisions she makes, and the orders she implements as the head of an executive agency will reveal her worldview. The Bible calls for all of us to care for the world that God has created and to be stewards of the environment and our neighbors (Gen. 1:28 and 1 Peter 4:10). The disconnect is when leaders such as Granholm go too far in one direction, and care for the planet but not neighbor, in this case the unborn. It is crucial to have officials who are concerned about caring for the planet and the lives of the next generation—not just one or the other. As the Secretary of Energy, Granholm would have a platform to enact liberal policies that are purported to protect the environment. If confirmed, she will hopefully hold to a biblical worldview in all areas of public policy and become a steward that protects and cares for the environment and the unborn.

Joseph Norris is a Policy and Government Affairs intern focusing on pro-life federal affairs.

Molly Carman is a Research Assistant for Worldview and Ethics.

Biden’s Cabinet (Part 2): Abortion Hardliner Xavier Becerra Is Not Fit to Lead HHS

by David Closson

February 23, 2021

This is Part 2 of a blog series examining the records of President Biden’s Cabinet picks on abortion and family issues. Read Part 1 on Antony Blinken.

During his inaugural address, President Joe Biden spoke repeatedly about the need for national unity. “With unity we can do great things. Important things,” he declared, adding, “For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury.”

While these inaugural platitudes about unity and healing were rhetorically effective, the new president has wasted little time in delivering on divisive campaign promises. These include reinstating President Obama’s transgender military policy, ordering federal agencies to redefine “sex” in their sex discrimination policies to include sexual orientation and gender identity, and repealing the Mexico City Policy that prohibited taxpayer money from funding overseas abortions. These policy changes, enacted unilaterally by executive order, offer little comfort to Americans who hoped the new administration would focus less on the culture wars and more on combating the coronavirus, re-opening America’s economy, and protecting the country from external threats.

Unfortunately, Biden’s nomination of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is another example of why uniformity—not unity—seems to be the goal of the Biden administration.

HHS is one of 15 executive departments within the federal government. Although not the largest department in terms of personnel, it has the largest budget—over $1.3 trillion annually (compare that with the Department of Defense’s $721.5 billion budget in 2020). As the department tasked with overseeing health services, HHS has jurisdiction over nearly every aspect of federal policy concerning abortion. Because of Becerra’s record on abortion, his nomination to lead HHS is deeply troubling.

Concerns related to Becerra’s record on abortion are well-founded. During his 24 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Becerra proved to be one of the abortion lobby’s most reliable voters. For example, in 2003, he voted against prohibiting the gruesome practice of partial-birth abortion. In 2005, Becerra voted against making the harming or killing of an unborn child during the committing of a violent crime a criminal offense. Becerra also voted for taxpayer funding of human embryonic stem cell experimentation in 2006 and against redirecting said money to more ethical lines of research. More recently, he voted against imposing civil and criminal penalties on anyone who knowingly attempted to commit an abortion on the basis of the sex or race of the unborn child or the race of a parent.

Becerra continued his work to advance abortion when he became California’s attorney general in 2017. Since taking office, he has filed numerous lawsuits seeking to overturn pro-life laws in other states, including Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Ohio. In 2019, Becerra sued the Trump administration over an HHS rule that blocked millions of dollars to abortion businesses who refused to separate their abortion business from family planning services. In 2019, he sued the Little Sisters of the Poor, insisting that the nuns should be forced to pay for abortifacients and contraception against their religious convictions. 

As attorney general, Becerra defended a California law that required pro-life pregnancy care centers to provide information to their patients on how to obtain state-funded abortions. The case, NIFLA v. Becerra, went to the Supreme Court, which struck down the law as unconstitutional in 2018. Justice Thomas, who wrote the majority’s opinion, noted that the California law defended by Becerra imposed an undue burden on the First Amendment rights of pro-life clinics and doctors. Becerra also defended California’s abortion coverage mandate that was in direct violation the Weldon Amendment. HHS notified California in January 2020 that its mandate was in violation of federal law. Instead of working with HHS to remedy the issue, Becerra doubled down, telling the Trump administration that they were impeding California’s ability to support women’s right to “reproductive freedom.”

Finally, Becerra continued what his predecessor, Kamala Harris, started by continuing the investigation into pro-life journalists who had exposed Planned Parenthood’s role in selling baby body parts. In 2015, David Daleiden released a series of videos showing Planned Parenthood executives discussing fees for human fetal tissue and organs. Rather than pursue Planned Parenthood—which endorsed Becerra in 2017 when he ran for attorney general—Becerra harassed and investigated Daleiden. Actions like this demonstrate Becerra’s proven record of shaping the law to fit his ideology. Instead of doing a substantive investigation into the evidence that Planned Parenthood violated federal law, he directly targeted Daleiden because his videos revealed unsavory truths about the abortion industry.

In short, Becerra’s record is known and well documented. Thus, while Joe Biden has preached a message of unity and told his supporters that they shouldn’t treat political opponents as enemies, the nomination of an abortion hardliner like Xavier Becerra sends a clear message: a Biden administration will not be moderate on abortion.

Nominating Becerra, a politician with little experience concerning matters related to public health, to lead the federal agency tasked with public health amid a global pandemic prioritizes political and ideological commitments over public safety. It signals Biden’s readiness to reverse President Trump’s pro-life policies. It also reveals tone-deafness to the tens of millions of Americans who just elected the most pro-life women to Congress in history.

Elections have consequences, and Americans should not be surprised that the most pro-abortion candidate in American history is nominating ideologues committed to promoting abortion. But if there was ever a time to draw a line in the sand over a nomination, this is the nominee, and this is the time. Becerra’s nomination is currently pending before the U.S. Senate, and senators committed to protecting the unborn should do everything in their power to oppose and block his nomination. Incoming presidents generally deserve deference when it comes to assembling their cabinet. However, Xavier Becerra’s extreme positions and advocacy for abortion rights are disqualifying when it comes to leading the department tasked with protecting America’s health.

Christian Voting Myth #4: “I’m Not in the Majority Where I Live, So Why Bother?”

by Joseph Backholm

October 14, 2020

This is the final part of a 4-part series debunking four common myths Christians use to not vote. Read myth #1: “One Vote Doesn’t Make a Difference”; myth #2: “God Is in Charge Anyway So It Doesn’t Matter if I Vote” and myth #3: “I Don’t Like Either Candidate, So What’s the Point?”

It’s election season, and with every election comes polling. And with every poll comes the quest for 51 percent. After all, just one more vote than the other guy and I win. The fact that the person with the most votes wins elections is the reason most of us believe that the majority wins. But is it true? Not entirely. Here’s why.

In the United States, the population is 327 million people. But not everyone who lives in America can vote in elections. To be eligible to vote, you have to be a citizen, at least 18 years old, and, in most places, not a felon.

Out of 327 million people, only 253 million are eligible voters. But that doesn’t mean all of them are voters. In fact, of the 253 million eligible voters, only 153 million are registered voters. That means less than half the U.S. population is a registered voter. But that’s not all. Not every registered voter actually votes. In 2016, 137 million people voted, but they didn’t all vote in every race. Only 127 million votes were cast for president.

Put it all together, and we learn that 54 percent of eligible voters and less than 42 percent of Americans voted.

As a result, Donald Trump was elected president with just under 63 million votes. That’s right. The President of the United States was chosen by only 25 percent of eligible voters and less than 20 percent of the population. That doesn’t represent a majority of Americans, that represents a majority of Americans who voted.

This phenomenon is true in every election and in every race around the country. Even candidates who win comfortably aren’t getting support from a majority of their constituents.

In 2018, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf won comfortably with over 57 percent of the vote, but he received the votes of only 22 percent of his constituents.  

The lack of participation in every election is magnified in close elections. In 2017, a Virginia House of Delegates race ended in a tie after more than 23,000 ballots were cast. Even one more person deciding to vote would have made a tremendous difference.

In 2016, a New Mexico State House seat was decided by two votes out of 14,000 ballots cast. Two votes made a big difference there.

In more local races, the drop-off rate increases, meaning that races are decided by a smaller number of total votes and a smaller percentage of the electorate. State legislative races are often decided by less than 10 percent of the people in a district. School board races are commonly decided by less than five percent of the people affected. Sometimes it’s closer to one percent.

So, yes. It’s true that the majority wins elections, it’s just not the whole story. Elections are not decided by a majority of a country, state, or city, they’re decided by a majority of those who actually participate.

According to George Barna, 61 percent of eligible evangelicals voted in the 2016 election. This means that almost 40 percent did not vote. In other words, four out of 10 people you go to church with do not vote when given the opportunity. 

Despite this, the church still has a disproportionate impact. According to Pew Research, in the 2018 election, white evangelicals were 26 percent of all voters despite being only 15 percent of the population. Imagine the impact the church could have if everyone did their part.  

The point is, participate. It isn’t hard but it is important. If you’re not registered to vote, get registered. If you don’t usually vote, fill out your ballot. Don’t worry that not everyone in your community agrees with you, that may not even matter. After all, it’s not the majority who wins, it’s the majority of those who actually show up. It’s our job to show up.

Christian Voting Myth #3: “I Don’t Like Either Candidate, So What’s the Point?”

by Joseph Backholm

October 12, 2020

This is part 3 of a 4-part series debunking four common myths Christians use to not vote. Read myth #1: “One Vote Doesn’t Make a Difference”myth #2: “God Is in Charge Anyway So It Doesn’t Matter if I Vote”; and myth #4 “I’m Not in the Majority Where I Live, So Why Bother?”

In an ideal world, you would always have the option to vote for really great people that you agree with in every respect. In the real world, however, your ballot may give you choices that make you feel less like you’re choosing someone to represent your values and more like you are choosing a cancer treatment. In that situation, what you want most is a different option. But sometimes there is no different option. What should you do then?

For a lot of people, the answer is “nothing.” Instead of voting, they choose to be absent from the process, absolve themselves of responsibility, and blame God for allowing it to come to this.

One reason it’s sometimes difficult to vote is because we want to support someone without reservation. On social media, we “like” people that we care about, things that makes us laugh, or ideas that we agree with. Our “like” is our stamp of approval. If we only like it a little bit, we’re likely to move on to something else.

There’s a temptation to treat our ballot the same way. If we can’t give unqualified support, we are tempted to abstain and wait for something better. But voting is not like social media. It’s more like filling a job vacancy. The job has to be filled and the Constitution has dictated the timeline. The fact that you haven’t found the ideal candidate may be frustrating, but it is not relevant to the fact that the job is going to be filled.

Your desire to find someone you can give unqualified support to is noted but not especially helpful under the circumstances. In that situation, it may be more helpful to think less about good and bad and more about better or worse. Is that possible? Maybe.

Character always matters, but if a completely virtuous person is not one of your choices, maybe the policies represented by one candidate are more virtuous than the policies of the other candidates. Is one candidate working on behalf of the abortion industry while the other works to defend life? Does one candidate defend conscience rights while the other supports suing nuns and churches that live out their faith? Does one candidate want parents involved in their child’s education and health care decisions while the other wants the state to interfere with parental rights? In a situation where all the candidates are flawed, we might be able to find clarity if we allow ourselves to think less about people involved and more about policies that will be affected.

In addition, if there is no “best candidate,” it may be helpful to think about the “best team.” No politician works alone. Most candidates are part of a political party, and all candidates have donors and supporters. Executive offices, like mayors, governors, and presidents also appoint cabinet members, judges, ambassadors, and thousands of other positions that affect how government operates.

Which candidate, for political reasons, is going to be pressured more often to do things you like and which candidate is going to face pressure to do things you won’t like? If the two foremen are not people you especially care for, is there a reason to prefer one crew over another?

Though it sometimes seems the end is near, we do still live on earth and that means we will be consistently faced with imperfect choices. It would be nice if the choice was always clearly good or evil, but it’s not. Sometimes the choice is better or worse, and if you aren’t willing to choose better, you may find yourself stuck with worse.

Read myth #4: “I’m Not in the Majority Where I Live, So Why Bother?”

House Resolution Coerces Members to Support Abortion Rights

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP , Ruth Moreno

October 9, 2020

Earlier this month, a former employee at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Georgia filed a complaint to the Department of Homeland Security, alleging that hysterectomies were being performed on detainees at the Irwin County Detention Center without appropriate informed consent. The U.S. House of Representatives has responded by passing a resolution condemning all perpetrators and calling for them to be held accountable.

House Resolution 1153, led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), justly condemns the performance of “unwanted, unnecessary medical procedures on individuals without their full, informed consent.” Unfortunately, House Democrats couldn’t resist inserting partisan language into what ought to have been a straightforward and bipartisan resolution. The resolution’s second clause states that “everyone deserves to control their own reproductive choices and make informed choices about their bodies.” This begs the question: to what kinds of reproductive choices is the clause referring? The Democrat-controlled House most likely intends the so-called “right” to abortion, ignoring the rights of the unborn in the same breath as condemning ICE for violating the rights of women.

This resolution would not be the first time Democrats have embraced antithetical positions regarding human rights violations and abortion. Although Democrats insist human rights and abortion are one and the same, abortion is the very opposite of human rights, because every successful abortion ends a human life. It should also be noted that the abortion industry, which has long backed Democrat candidates, has a troubled history with eugenics. Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, was a eugenicist who viewed abortion and birth control as a means of controlling the population of the “unfit.” While Planned Parenthood’s current leadership may publicly disavow eugenics, many of its abortion facilities are situated in minority communities, and women of color are statistically much more likely to obtain abortions in the U.S. than white women.

Democrats are also slow to condemn the atrocity of forced abortion, which happens in many nations around the world, including the most populous country, China. Even here in America, many women who obtain abortions report having felt coerced into that decision by friends, family members, or boyfriends.

In many parts of the world, unborn children are aborted due to unwanted physical or mental disabilities, or even for being female. Iceland prides itself on having nearly “eradicated” Down syndrome, but in reality, the only reason the number of babies born with Down syndrome has significantly decreased in that country is because children diagnosed with Down syndrome in utero are often killed prior to birth via abortion. In India, where sex-selective abortion is rampant, a new study has shown that there might be as many as 6.8 million fewer girls than boys born between 2017 and 2030.

House Democrats are right to condemn the practice of forcing hysterectomies on non-consenting women. The allegations raised against ICE at the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia should be thoroughly investigated to ensure that all offenders are brought to justice. By dragging abortion into H.Res. 1153, however, Democrats have created a needless roadblock to bipartisanship while also highlighting their hypocrisy on the issue of human rights.

In response to the partisan H.Res. 1153, Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), and Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) introduced the Informed Consent Act (H.R. 8498), which would prohibit any abortion or sterilization procedure performed without informed consent and impose a 10-year penalty on anyone who violates this provision. The issue of forced abortion and sterilization should not be co-opted as a means of promoting legal abortion. If Democrats truly had women’s best interests in mind, they would support H.R. 8498 and condemn any violence done to women and their unborn children.

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