Category archives: Religion & Culture

Thinking Biblically About Safety

by Joseph Backholm

February 24, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we will feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read Part 1: Thinking Biblically About Unity

As we approach the one-year anniversary of “15 days to flatten the curve,” the coronavirus continues to dominate the news and many people’s emotions. 

In many states, most public schools remain closed. It took a Supreme Court case for California churches to be allowed to meet indoors again, though many churches had been doing it anyway with the fines to prove it.

The different responses to the coronavirus aren’t simply a function of different local laws. Within the church, there are varying degrees of caution. This is attributable in part to the fact that the coronavirus poses a greater risk to some (the elderly, immunocompromised, etc.), than to others. But beyond that, some Christians are more afraid than others. What happens if I get it? What happens if I die? What happens if I get it and then pass it to someone else?

For Christians, these questions call us to consider how God wants us to think about safety.

Scripture shows us that God blesses His people with safety and security (Deut. 12:10; Jer. 32:38) and Paul even prayed for safety (Romans 15:30-31). After all his shipwrecks, beatings, stonings, and imprisonments (2 Corinthians 11:25), who can blame him?

The fact that Paul experienced those things despite his obedience to God and his prayers for safety illustrates an important truth. As with health, safety is a blessing that at times God grants, but it is not a guarantee and should not be an expectation. Jesus promised us that things will be hard: “In this world you will have trouble, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Of course, this doesn’t mean that God wants us to live recklessly. Jesus spoke of carrying a sword for protection (Luke 22:36) and Paul was kept safe on several occasions by his friends (Acts 9:25, 17:10, 19:30) and once by a Roman commander (Acts 23:10). The book of Proverbs includes wisdom to avoid trouble and make life easier.  

But any conversation about safety must happen in context. Safety is good, but it is not the greatest good. In fact, more than God wants us to be safe, He wants us to be steadfast in the trials we are promised (James 1:12).

Depending on your English translation of the Bible, the command “do not fear” appears over 70 times. There are no examples of God commanding us to be safe.

Scripture is filled with examples of people forsaking their physical safety to pursue God’s purpose for their life. Moses risked his life by identifying with the Hebrews rather than the Egyptians (Hebrews 11:24-27). Esther risked her life when she appeared before the Persian king and pleaded for the lives of her people. In the face of danger, she asked her friends to fast and pray for her, noting, “If I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). She had more important goals than simply surviving.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego preferred what seemed like certain death in the fiery furnace over the alternative of compromising their faith (Daniel 3). Their safety took a backseat to their loyalty and devotion to God.

Death is not only possible, it’s inevitable. But for the Christian, it’s also a promotion. As the apostle Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). Moreover, as Paul explained to the Christians in Corinth, even the sufferings of our earthly pilgrimage—as terrible as they might be—are “light and momentary” compared to the “eternal weight of glory” that awaits believers (1 Cor. 4:17). Paul does not trivialize our hardships, but he does reframe them in light of eternity.

When God does encourage us to be cautious, its typically about the most important things. We should be careful about what we see (Luke 11:33-36) and careful to obey all that God has commanded us. (Deut 8:1).

At all times, our spiritual health should be of greater concern than our physical health. This was Jesus’ point when he said “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

As we examine our decisions, we should ensure that we aren’t valuing our safety more than God does. If He grants us safety, we should be grateful. If He grants us peril and sickness and death, we should still be grateful. If our pursuit of safety is preventing us from doing what God created us to do, we may be attributing to wisdom what belongs to fear. 

As we approach the one-year anniversary of “two weeks to flatten the curve,” let’s make sure that our concerns about a virus haven’t prevented us from being who God created us to be.

If Jesus’s willingness to leave the safety of heaven on our behalf isn’t inspiration enough, maybe Jim Elliott, who gave his life on the mission field of Ecuador will help. Elliott famously exhorted, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Lo, I am with you always. Even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of February 14)

by Family Research Council

February 19, 2021

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Update: With Cuomo, Democrats Are Fleeing a Sinking Ship

New York was America’s first and deadliest hotspot of the coronavirus pandemic, driven in large part by poor policymaking from the very top—Governor Cuomo. He forced nursing homes to accept Covid-positive patients who were discharged from hospitals, placing New York’s most vulnerable citizens at the greatest risk of exposure.

2. Update: Impeachment: A Saga Put to Rest, or a Slumbering Beast Awoken?

It certainly feels as though impeachment has eaten up America’s time, attention, and energy over the past weeks. With the Senate acquitting President Trump on the charge of “inciting” the mob who stormed the U.S. Capitol, many may be asking whether the era of impeachment is over. Others may be asking whether impeachment as a political weapon is only just being awoken.

3. Blog: Connecticut Seeks to Stifle the Voice of Pregnancy Resource Centers

Last week, the Connecticut State Senate considered a bill that is a clear violation of the First Amendment rights of pregnancy resource centers. This bill makes it harder for women who are unexpectedly pregnant to know what their choices are, and it places the state in the position of promoting abortion over childbirth.

4. Blog: Leah Sharibu: Held Captive 3 Years for Her Christian Faith

February 19, 2021, marks a grim third anniversary for a young Nigerian Christian named Leah Sharibu. In a horrifying terrorist attack in 2018, 14-year-old Leah was among more than 100 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists. Nearly all the surviving girls were freed by their captors on March 21. One girl, however, was left behind—Leah Sharibu.

5. Washington Watch: Gordon Chang Warns About the Serious Implications of Biden’s Pro-China Policies

Gordon Chang, the author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War, joined Tony Perkins on the radio to share about the serious implications of Biden’s pro-China policies.

6. Washington Watch: Abigail Shrier Goes Inside Planned Parenthood’s Dangerous Gender Hormone Program for Teens

Abigail Shrier, the author of Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters, joined Tony Perkins to discuss her article, “Inside Planned Parenthood’s Gender Factory” where she goes inside Planned Parenthood’s dangerous gender hormone program for teens.

7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: Prayer for Winter Weather Crises

As millions of Americans have been facing winter weather crises, Tony Perkins, Sen. James Lankford, and Pastor Roy Smith joined together for a special time of prayer for those affected by the storms and for those tasked with restoring power to our communities.

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of February 7)

by Family Research Council

February 12, 2021

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Update: Impeachment: No End Incite

Democrats are tossing aside every real issue facing America to take a second crack at impeaching a man who isn’t even president. This time, though, their pathetic obsession with destroying Trump comes at a steeper price.

2. Update: Mark Cuban’s Airball on Freedom

Back in November, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban suspended the playing of the national anthem before home games. Because stands sit empty due to coronavirus restrictions, nobody noticed until Tuesday.

3. Blog: Important Update about Burma/Myanmar’s Military Coup from Dave Eubank

Reports from Burma (Myanmar) have been the focus of international news recently. A military coup has overthrown the quasi-democratic government, and has placed the already-struggling Burmese people in a potentially dangerous situation. Uncertainty has gripped the country and persecuted religious minorities—particularly Christians—are at greater risk than ever.

4. Blog: “The Holy Spirit Will Be Working”: Despite Persecution, Hong Kong Christians Remain Hopeful

Well-known American pastor Francis Chan surprised many when he announced his plan to move to Asia to serve in ministry, leaving his comfortable position as a mega-church pastor to follow God’s call. In less than a year, he and his family planted three house churches in Hong Kong. Then the Chans were informed that their visas had been revoked, forcing them to leave with only a few weeks’ warning.

5. Washington Watch: NC Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson Argues That Un-American Critical Race Theory Taints Young Minds

Mark Robinson, North Carolina Lieutenant Governor, joins Tony Perkins to discuss the North Carolina Board of Education’s proposed educational standards infused with Critical Race Theory.

6. Washington Watch: Sen. Roger Marshall Shares His Firsthand Account of Trump Impeachment 2.0

The U.S. Senate recently voted to proceed with the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) joined Tony Perkins with a firsthand account of the trial proceedings. Also discussed was Senator Marshall’s Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act.

7. Pray Vote Stand Townhall: The Way Forward

How do believers in America successfully navigate the challenges ahead? We must pray, persist, and not lose heart. Tony Perkins, Gary Hamrick, and Mike Farris led an interactive discussion about the way forward.

Thinking Biblically About Unity

by Joseph Backholm

February 12, 2021

Things change quickly after the White House switches parties. After years claiming that detention facilities at the border were American concentration camps, Democrats will be ok with them again. After years of relative silence on spending during a spending spree, Republicans will again call for fiscal restraint. And then there’s the issue of unity.

Those who spent four years talking about how patriotic it is to criticize a president now call for unity. Meanwhile, those who spent four years urging people to support the president are quick with reminders that criticism of political leaders is the American way.

Which highlights an important point: unity is neither good nor bad. Whether unity is desirable depends entirely on what we are unifying around. Unity around a planned crime spree is bad. Unity around a surprise birthday party for a loved one is good.

We like the idea of unity because it brings up images of people getting along. Who doesn’t want that? What are the calls for unity today asking us to unite around?

If we are being called to treat people with dignity and respect regardless of their beliefs, background, or political persuasions, Christians can be united in that effort. “So far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18).

If we are being called to listen to our neighbors, Christians can be united in that effort as well. “Be slow to speak and quick to hear for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19).

Politically, Christians should be the best citizens because we are commanded to seek the welfare of our cities (Jer. 29:7), pray for those in authority (1 Tim 2:2), and submit to their authority (1 Peter 2:13) so long as their commands are not inconsistent with what God has commanded (Acts 5:29).

But as Christians look for ways to build bridges, we must also be mindful of the things we cannot unite around.

If we’re called to unify with the sacrifice of preborn children on the altar of convenience, we can’t do that.

If we’re called to unify with a sexual revolution that God calls sin and destroys people’s lives, we can’t do that.

If we’re called to unify with a movement that seeks to punish people for their fidelity to the gospel and their obedience to God, we can’t do that.

Despite cultural sentiments suggesting otherwise, it is not loving to be indifferent or agreeable toward wickedness because “love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6).

None of this means that Christians are obligated to be combative—“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:6). But there are times when Christians must be confrontational. “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11).

We must always pray for our leaders, but the degree to which we are unified with our leaders must depend on the degree to which our leaders are unified with God. If they want unity with us while earnestly seeking to honor God, we should be the first to encourage them and support them. If they want unity with us while waging war on truth, beauty, and goodness, the answer must be “not until you repent.”

As with many things, the world tries to deceive the church with a counterfeit version of what God made.

God’s path to unity is through submission to Jesus. The world’s path to unity is through submission to them. These are mutually exclusive options, so choose wisely. “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).

When the White House changes parties, a lot of things change in Washington, D.C. But what shouldn’t change for Christians is that regardless of who is in the White House, we first seek unity with God and then with anyone else looking for the same thing.

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of January 24)

by Family Research Council

January 29, 2021

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Update: GOP to Biden: Come to Your Census

While most people were focused on Joe Biden’s big-ticket actions on Wednesday, things like rejoining the Paris Climate Accord and transgendering America’s bathrooms, the new president managed to slip one order through that could tilt the balance of the House and Electoral College for years. If you didn’t care about Census policy before, trust me. You care about it now.

2. Update: Woke Companies Try to Smother MyPillow

If the cancel culture thought they’d have a pushover in Mike Lindell, they were mistaken. The MyPillow founder has never lost any sleep over the Left’s attacks. When a handful of companies decided to drop the popular line over Mike’s concerns over the 2020 election, he wasn’t rattled. He just vowed to stand taller for any business who might be next.

3. Blog: Biden’s Cabinet (Part 1): Secretary of State Blinken Plans to Expand Abortion Worldwide

This is Part 1 of a blog series examining the records of President Biden’s lesser known Cabinet picks. Many think newly-confirmed Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s decades of experience make him a good fit to lead the State Department. Unfortunately, it seems likely that Secretary Blinken would aggressively support and promote abortion internationally.

4. ProLifeCon 2021: Digital Action Summit

Our digital action summit will shares strategies, resources, and stories of hope for activism in the pro-life movement. Hear from successful pro-life activists and elected officials as they discuss how they have shared the pro-life message through digital platforms and look ahead to opportunities in 2021.

5. Washington Watch: Dr. Ben Carson Shares Astonishment That Anyone Would Consider Teaching U.S. History Controversial

President Biden criticized the 1776 Commission as “offensive” and “counterfactual.” Dr. Ben Carson, a member of the commission, joined Tony Perkins on Washington Watch with his reaction.

6. Washington Watch: John Fund Explains the Aggressive Biden Agenda that Quadrupled Trump’s EOs in the First Day

Joe Biden has a list of 53 Executive Orders that he plans to sign during his first 10 days in office. John Fund, columnist for National Review, joined Tony Perkins on Washington Watch to look at President Biden’s executive order blitz.

7. Pray Vote Stand broadcast: Jesus Is Our Only Hope

On this edition of Pray Vote Stand, Tony welcomed Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, Senate candidate Mark Walker, and Pastor Mark Burns to pray for the men and women who serve in our nation’s military and their families, and also to pray for truthfulness in our nation’s media.

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of January 10)

by Family Research Council

January 15, 2021

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Update: Technically (Not) Speaking: The Conservative Purge Begins

All they needed was an opening. And for the rich Tech giants of Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Amazon, the recent riot at the Capitol building gave them one. The purging of conservative expression has begun. We knew it was coming and it will take every one of us to stop it.

2. Update: ’Heaven Is Not Shaken’

This country has seen some dark days. There have been moments of unbelievable despair, like we witnessed at the Capitol, when everything seems to come apart at the seams. Yet, in almost 250 years, even the worst of times have never defined us. And we can’t afford to let this one either.

3. Blog: A 2020 Retrospective: Violence Against Africa’s Christians

In 2020 FRC published a report documenting horrifying statistics of mass murders in Africa. In 2021 it is past time for the world to stop looking regretfully at Africa’s tragedies in the rear view mirror. Instead, a determined coalition of nations needs to step forward and develop ways and means of extinguishing the surging jihadi violence.

4. Blog: 10 Facts About Global Religious Persecution From the 2021 World Watch List

Open Doors recently released its annual 2021 World Watch List. This report identifies the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. As the threats to religious freedom mount, it is important to know the challenges believers face around the world.

5. Washington WatchChris Cuomo Mocks Senator Marco Rubio’s Daily Habit of Tweeting Bible Verses

CNN’s Chris Cuomo mocked Senator Marco Rubio, calling him “Bible boy” for tweeting daily Bible verses. Listen to what Senator Rubio had to say about his “scandalous” practice of sharing Bible verses.

6. Washington Watch: Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin Urges Conservatives to Channel their Election Frustration Into Prayer & Action

After the violent chaos in our nation’s Capitol building, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin joined Tony Perkins to give thoughts on the way forward for our country.

7. Pray Vote Stand broadcast: Pray for our Nation

On this edition of Pray Vote Stand, Tony welcomed Pastors Carter Conlon, Jack Hibbs, and Kelvin Cochran to lead us in prayer for this nation.

Why Christians Should Make Goals for 2021

by Molly Carman

January 15, 2021

The start of a new year can be both exciting and intimidating. It is an opportunity to reflect on the successes and shortcomings of the previous year and the personal growth that took place. For example, this last year I had the goal to read roughly 25 books, or at least 5,000 pages. It was so encouraging to add up the page count in December and celebrate that although I only read 23 books, I did surpass the minimum page count reading nearly 5,500 pages. This goal revived a love of reading and learning on a variety of topics, in addition to encouraging a habit of diligence.

A new year is a time to set new goals, or resolutions, for the next 12 months. But goal setting can be extremely intimidating. So much can happen in a day, much less an entire year. In addition, whenever a goal is made, there is opportunity for failure which dissuades many from making goals in the first place. However, by setting resolutions for the year, a vision is cast for where we want to go, what we hope to accomplish, and how we desire to grow. Without vision it is unclear where one is going, and if one does not know where they are going, they neither accomplish nor fail at anything.

Setting goals gives us the opportunity to step back and consider different facets of our lives and how to pursue growth in each area. Rather than look at life as a whole when goal setting, it can be helpful to think in terms of categories such as spiritual, ministry, physical, educational, relational/family, financial, travel, work, and fun. Order allows for thoughtfulness and well-rounded goal setting.

Further, after determining the categories one wants to grow in, it is important to craft goals in a way that sets one up for success. To this end, it is helpful to pursue S.M.A.R.T. goals. This acronym stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. By thinking and planning along the lines of this framework, it is possible to formulate goals with a higher probability of success.

For example, it is common for Christians to have a goal like, “read the Bible more this year.” However, consider how this broad goal fails the S.M.A.R.T. test and is therefore difficult to track. For example, this goal is not specific about how it will be achieved. It lacks measurable guidelines. Moreover, while the goal is generally achievable, it lacks clarity or direction. Further, while the goal of reading the Bible more is realistic, it is so undefined that it is impossible to know what constitutes success. Finally, the general goal of simply reading the Bible more lacks a time mechanism by which it can be tracked and there is no inherent accountability for gauging progress.

All these deficiencies can be relieved by simply thinking in terms of the S.M.A.R.T. framework. For example, consider this revised goal: “Read 2-3 chapters of the Bible every morning before breakfast for at least 30 minutes with the goal of reading through the Bible in two years.” FRC has made it easier for you to start your day immersed in the Word. Check out our two-year Bible reading plan which you can sign up for to receive a free daily email with the readings and reflections.

If you are struggling to make goals for resolutions this year, or maybe you have never made goals or resolutions before, do not be discouraged or overwhelmed. This process takes time, prayer, courage, and diligence.

FRC has several ways for you to start this year by resolving to be more up to date with cultural issues and current events in our country, in addition to setting a goal to walk with us in prayer and the reading of Scripture. These opportunities include subscribing to the Washington Update, listening to the Washington Watch radio program, or downloading the FRC Stand Firm app on your phone. You can subscribe to these resources and more here.

Even if you only make one or two goals this year, pray and ask God to give you wisdom as you start 2021 and consider the words of Proverbs 16:3, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Each of us has been given the gift of life. May we all be good stewards of our time and the journey ahead. 

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of January 3)

by Family Research Council

January 8, 2021

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Update: In Disappointment, Buoyed by Hope

Disappointment has been a familiar friend to a lot of Americans these last several weeks. More than anything, we just want something to go our way. As Christians, we have the gift of an eternal perspective that teaches us there’s a tomorrow. And no election, no power of man can take that from us.

2. Blog: Year in Review: 10 Stories From 2020

In a year dominated by the coronavirus pandemic which brought unprecedented changes into our lives, it is easy to forget what else took place. But there were other significant stories from this past year that deserve our reflection. From the perspective of two Christians working in public policy in our nation’s capital, here are 10 encouraging stories from 2020.

3. Blog: In This New Year, Let’s Be Attentive To Those Persecuted for Their Faith

Religious freedom—the freedom to choose and live in accordance with one’s faith—is foundational to human dignity. God has called Christians to care for the persecuted and oppressed, and that obligation stretches beyond our national borders. At a time when religious oppression is on the rise around the world, it is more important than ever to consider our responsibility to the persecuted.

4. Washington Watch: Rep. Mark Green Describes the Capitol Chaos from Inside the Congressional Lockdown

Congressman Mark Green, U.S. Representative for the 7th district of Tennessee, joined Tony Perkins to discuss members of Congress being evacuated as protestors stormed the Capitol building during the electoral count proceedings.

5. Washington WatchPhill Kline Explains How the Virus & Big Tech Helped Liberals Manipulate the Presidential Election

Phill Kline, Director of the Amistad Law Project of the non-partisan Thomas More Society, joined Tony Perkins to explain how the coronavirus and Big Tech helped liberals manipulate the presidential election.

6. Washington Watch: Jack Hibbs Shows Christians How to Process the Frustration of the Election and Find Hope

Jack Hibbs, Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, joined Tony Perkins with biblical insight. Also discussed is CNN’s Chris Cuomo mocking Florida Senator Marco Rubio as “Bible boy.”

7. Pray Vote Stand broadcast: Pray for the Nation

On this edition of Pray Vote Stand, Tony welcomed Louie Gohmert, Jody Hice, Jack Hibbs, Steve Riggle, and Michele Bachmann to join him in a special time of prayer for the nation.

What the Church Needs From Singles

by Molly Carman

January 6, 2021

We have all experienced a season—no matter how short or long—of loneliness. When you are single, it can be easy to dream about a season of life when you might not be single. It can also be easy to fall prey to the lie that you are owed a relationship or even guaranteed an amazing marriage.

But we are not guaranteed such things. Our culture commonly associates singleness with loneliness, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Tragically, some people are lonelier in marriage than they ever were when they were single. In any case, we are guaranteed that God is good all the time and that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Ps. 145:9, Heb. 13:5-6).

Another common misconception, especially in Christian circles, is that marriage is godlier than singleness. But Scripture shows us that this is simply not the case. Marriage and singleness both provide unique opportunities for sanctification, and both come with their own associated trials, temptations, sacrifices, and freedoms. As Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 7:32-35:

I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

Because Paul was single, he was able to devote himself fully to the ministry of spreading the gospel and discipling others. However, Christian ministry is not strictly the job of single people. We can intentionally serve Christ and the church no matter our situation in life. For example, Priscilla and Aquila were married and likely had the marital concerns Paul described in 1 Corinthians 7, but nevertheless served the church fervently alongside Paul to disciple young believers and build up the early church (Acts 18:2,18, 26; Rom. 16:3; 1Cor. 16:19; 2 Tim. 4:19).

Being single is not easy, especially when it feels like all of your friends are getting engaged, married, or announcing that they are having a baby; meanwhile, you feel like the most exciting thing that has happened in your life lately is that you got a free coffee last week. But I have learned that my present singleness provides opportunities that most of my married friends will never have, or at least not in the same way. I can more easily go wherever God is calling me, meet new people, and get connected to a community. I can foster my dependency on the Lord, free from the temptation to depend too heavily on my spouse. I can say yes to various service opportunities without the worry of family concerns. Paul is clear that the married are concerned with the things of the world and the unmarried are concerned with the things of God, not because married people are less spiritual but because marriage requires things of a husband and wife that can take time away from the work of ministry.

Today, it is often said that the church needs to be doing more to serve its single members. However, singles often have a greater capacity to serve the church and its members and be involved in ministry to their greater communities than married couples do.

It is always easy to want what we do not have. My recently married friends have told me that, as much as they love their spouse and being married, they realize that I have greater opportunity to say yes to things like going to grad school, going on a mission trip, or volunteering in a ministry program. While I am sometimes envious of their marital companionship and parenthood, I am learning the secret of being content in Christ (Phil. 4:11). Comparison is always the thief of joy and contentment.

If you are single, consider how you can serve the church and what a blessing it is to be able to say yes to ministry and the spread of the gospel. And even if you have no children of your own, you can still invest in children by giving hard-working parents the night off from their kids or serving in the nursery or the youth group at your church. Every season of life is an intentional gift of God to sanctify you and draw you closer to Him so that you might become more like Him. So, instead of selfishly thinking about how the church can serve you in whatever situation you are in, I encourage you to go and serve the church. After all, Christ—our ultimate example—came not to be served but to serve (Mat. 20:28, Mk. 10:45).

Year in Review: 10 Stories From 2020

by David Closson , Molly Carman

December 31, 2020

Under normal circumstances, the last week of December provides an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of the last 12 months and a time to dream about the possibilities ahead in the new year. But 2020 was challenging for most Americans, and many likely want to turn the page as quickly as possible. However, before ringing in 2021, it is worth reflecting on some of the highlights from this unique year.

In a year dominated by the coronavirus pandemic which brought unprecedented changes into our lives, it is easy to forget what else took place. But there were other significant stories from this past year that deserve our reflection. From the perspective of two Christians working in public policy in our nation’s capital, here are 10 encouraging stories that caught our attention from 2020.

1. Churches Rise to the Challenge

When the coronavirus upended the rhythms of life that most of us had taken for granted, people had to change their modus operandi for almost everything. This included churches across the country that were forced to adapt quickly to how they served their congregations and communities. For example, when they were no longer able to gather, many churches began using live-streaming technology such as Zoom, YouTube live, and other streaming platforms to ensure members could continue receiving weekly encouragement from God’s Word. Some churches held “Drive-In” services where members could stay in their cars and listen to messages delivered by their pastor from a small stage (or even a forklift!) near the front of the parking lot. Many churches looked outward, seeking ways to serve their communities in tangible ways despite limitations on public meetings. Some churches delivered meals to nurses and doctors serving on the front lines; others provided meals and opportunities for people in the community to pray while others turned their facilities into virus testing sites. In an otherwise turbulent year, the faithfulness of churches in 2020 was a bright light.

2. Confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett

In September, President Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to serve on the Supreme Court. She accepted the nomination and sat courageously through an intense confirmation hearing where she was drilled and questioned by senators. Just two weeks before Election Day, Barrett was confirmed and became the youngest of only four women ever to serve on the Supreme Court. Barrett is also the first mother of school-age children to serve on the nation’s highest court. Throughout the confirmation process, Barrett faced opposition to her faith, physical appearance, and judicial philosophy. But as Tony Perkins noted, she showed “calm, poise, and decency” as she navigated the process. Since joining the Court, Barrett has already made an impression, casting the deciding vote in a major religious liberty case involving churches facing unfair restrictions and discrimination.

3. After Difficult Year, Religious Liberty Wins in Court

The coronavirus pandemic affected nearly every aspect of American life in 2020 including school, work, and even church. While many elected leaders tried to navigate the public health challenges of the virus and protect religious freedom, overzealous authorities took advantage of the situation by unfairly discriminating against churches. Although 99 percent of churches ceased in-person gatherings (many before they were even required to), as the pandemic wore on, it became apparent that some officials were holding churches to unfair standards (such as arbitrary attendance caps that businesses, casinos, and other organizations were not required to follow). This prompted several lawsuits. Unfortunately, several of these early lawsuits went against churches (such as Calvary Chapel v. Steve Sisolak), however, the Supreme Court stepped in this fall and issued multiple favorable rulings for churches. This is a welcome sign that courts are safeguarding religious freedom.

4. Trump Administration Accomplishments

Building on accomplishments from the previous three years, the Trump administration advanced a number of policies to protect life and religious liberty in 2020. For example, on January 16, the Departments of Justice and Education issued new guidance for prayer in schools, ensuring that the First Amendment rights of students are protected. Similarly, in September, the DOE published a rule to make sure First Amendment rights are protected on college campuses.

In January, the Department of Health and Human Services approved a family planning waiver for Texas to implement a state-run Medicaid program that excludes abortion providers like Planned Parenthood. This makes Texas the first state to receive Medicaid funding for a family planning program that does not include abortion providers.

On February 5, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched the International Religious Freedom Alliance. The Alliance will unite government leaders from like-minded nations to strategize ways to promote religious freedom and protect religious minorities around the world.

On June 24, President Trump issued an executive order to strengthen America’s foster care and adoption system. Among other things, this action seeks to increase partnerships with faith-based organizations to care for children and preserve families.

For a more comprehensive overview of the Trump administration accomplishments (2017-2020) see this list.

5. Major Supreme Court Cases (Good and Bad)

In 2020, the Supreme Court issued several decisions affecting faith, family, and freedom. In one, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the Court ruled in favor of religious schools, finding provisions excluding religious schools solely because they are religious violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. This ruling was a major win for religious liberty. Additionally, although several churches lost religious freedom cases in court this summer, last month, the Supreme Court, in Roman Catholic Diocese v. Cuomo, ruled that New York’s governor could not unfairly discriminate against churches. Since then the tide seems to have turned in favor of protecting the religious freedom of churches.

Unfortunately, not all the Supreme Court rulings were positive this year. In June Medical Services v. Russo, the Court struck down a pro-life law that required doctors to obtain admitting privileges at a hospital before performing abortions. Further, in June, a 6-3 majority ruled that employment discrimination “on the basis of sex”— prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should be understood to include actions based on sexual orientation and gender identity. By reinterpreting the statute in this way, the Court essentially rewrote civil rights law.

6. Pro-Life Lawmakers Make Historic Gains in Congress

Decades from now, the 2020 election will be remembered as one of the most unpredictable elections in American history. And while many conservatives were disappointed in the outcome of the presidential election, there were historic victories by pro-life candidates across the country. In fact, 89 percent of candidates backed by FRC Action (104 out of 117) won their races. Ninety-eight of 100 incumbents won their races, including all 74 “True Blue” candidates who ran for reelection (“True Blue” is the designation given to legislators who receive 100 percent on FRC Action’s scorecard).

Another noteworthy achievement was the 18 pro-life women who won seats in the House of Representatives. Ten of these women flipped seats formerly held by pro-abortion Democrats. The 117th Congress will have a record 29 pro-life women in the House. Although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) continues to refuse even a vote on the Born-Alive Survivor’s Protection Act (a bill that would provide protection to babies who survive a failed abortion), the new pro-life members will continue to fight for pro-life laws that protect women and babies.

7. Launch of Worldview Resources

According to recent research by George Barna, only seven percent of Americans have a biblical worldview. This means that most of our friends and neighbors—as well as many in our churches—are not thinking about today’s major issues from a perspective rooted in God’s Word. To address this need, FRC launched FRC.org/Worldview, a new worldview resources page in 2020. This page includes FRC’s “Biblical Worldview Series” which covers the topics of life, religious liberty, human sexuality, and political engagement. There are now summary versions and prayer guides for each publication; most of the publications are in Spanish as well. Looking forward to 2021, FRC will continue producing resources to equip Christians to faithfully engage the culture from a biblical worldview.

8. FRC Pro-Life Map Resource

In 2020, Family Research Council released a new resource illustrating the progress in states on key pro-life laws. This resource helps inform lawmakers and citizens of the various pro-life bills in their states, in order that communities can stand together in the fight against abortion. The maps feature summaries of bills dealing with born-alive protections, late-term abortions, fetal dignity, and defunding abortion providers.

Since the release of these maps, we have already seen progress in some states. For example, this summer, Nebraska passed a law that banned dismemberment abortions. Remarkably there was a strong concurrence among lawmakers and the final vote came out to 33-8. This demonstrates that the majority took a strong stand to prohibit this brutal form of abortion. By passing this bill, Nebraska joins 11 other states who have also banned dismemberment abortions, which is limiting the number of abortions that occur pass the second trimester. Additionally, West Virginia passed a “Born-Alive” law which shifted the law from “no protections” to “strong protections” on FRC’s pro-life map.

9. A Win for International Religious Liberty

Christians and those of other faiths across the world have faced grave hardships this year as the challenges to religious freedom continue to mount. In China, all religious beliefs are tightly restricted by the government, but this year Uyghur Muslims experienced some of the most extreme persecution from the Chinese Communist Party. This fall, FRC supported an effective bill to address one major aspect of the problem—the widespread use of Uyghur forced labor. The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act requires companies that produce goods in Xinjiang, China and import them to the United States to prove with clear and convincing evidence that the goods are not made with forced labor. This bipartisan bill passed the House of Representatives in September. Earlier this year, FRC hosted one young Uyghur woman who shared her story, illustrating just how important it is to speak up for the persecuted in China, and around the world.

10. Honoring Our Nation’s Heritage Through Monuments

When rioters took to the streets this summer, many monuments representing historical figures were vandalized, defaced, and destroyed. While monuments honoring the Confederacy were the initial targets, memorials honoring abolitionists, Union generals, and black soldiers were also razed. 

President Trump was determined to preserve the history of our nation by protecting these monuments and memorials. He called on the National Guard to protect the monuments in the nation’s capital (including the Freedman’s Memorial honoring Abraham Lincoln) which have thankfully stood to see another day. The story of our nation’s values and history are engraved in many of these monuments and memorials. Rather than capitulate to the worst impulses of cancel culture, we should continue to strive toward more fully realizing our founding ideals. For a more in-depth look at D.C.’s monuments, check-out FRC’s summer blog series that focuses on the spiritual heritage depicted in many of these memorials.

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