Tag archives: Family

The Human Costs of China’s Demographic Collapse

by Arielle Del Turco

January 25, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Crises that Led to Christmas (Part 3): Ruth Endured the Crisis of Being Widowed

by Joy Zavalick

December 22, 2021

This is the third part of a five-part series. Read our previous entries on Tamar and Rahab.

***

The third woman identified in Matthew’s gospel as being part of the lineage of Jesus is Ruth, a Moabite woman who married into the nation of Israel. In addition to being an ancestor of Christ, Ruth has the distinction of being one of only two women with a book of the Bible named after her (Esther being the other).

The book of Ruth opens with an introduction to three widows: Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth. Naomi had relocated to Moab with her husband and two sons in order to avoid an ongoing famine in Israel. While they were living in Moab, Naomi’s sons married two local women, Orpah and Ruth. Tragically, all three husbands passed away, leaving Naomi alone in a foreign land and Orpah and Ruth childless.

When Naomi decided to return to her homeland of Israel, Orpah returned to her parents’ household, but Ruth refused to abandon Naomi, knowing that her mother-in-law had no one left to care for her. Ruth demonstrated her loyalty to Naomi by saying, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:6).

Ruth and Naomi returned to Naomi’s hometown of Bethlehem. Upon arriving, Ruth provided for them by gleaning in the fields of a man named Boaz, the son/descendent of Rahab and a relative of Naomi’s late husband. Boaz took notice of Ruth, impressed by her loving sacrifice to leave her home in order to stay by Naomi’s side. Boaz treated Ruth with kindness and ensured that she could work safely in his fields without being harmed by men who might prey on her.

Naomi informed Ruth that Boaz was one of their family’s kinsmen-redeemers. According to Hebrew law, Boaz was eligible to purchase their family property and marry Ruth, thus allowing her to carry on her late husband’s family line (Ruth 2:20). When Ruth approached Boaz and explained her family’s situation to him, he went through the proper cultural channels to redeem Naomi’s husband’s inheritance and marry Ruth (Ruth 3:9-13). Ruth’s first son with Boaz was named Obed. In God’s wonderful providence, Obed had a son named Jesse, whose youngest son, David, would one day become king of Israel.

The intricate story that God wove from the tragedy of Ruth’s widowhood shows His ability to bring beauty even from crisis situations. After the death of her first husband, Ruth likely was unsure of her future. When Ruth selflessly refused to abandon Naomi, she took a leap of faith and trusted that God would care for her—and He did, grafting the Moabite woman into Israel’s family tree.

It is worth noting that Ruth likely did not see the ultimate plan that God was working through her suffering during her lifetime. This is true for us as well. In this life, we will likely never fully understand why God allows us to experience a tragedy. Whether it is the experience of heartbreak, miscarriage, death of a spouse or loved one, or loneliness, it is important to know that the Lord is still present even when He seems silent and that hope for the future remains even when today’s circumstances are filled with pain. Just as Ruth mourned her loss and placed her faith in God, so should we today whenever tragedy strikes.

There are ministries and resources equipped to support widows as they raise a child while simultaneously coping with grief. The book of Ruth may also be read as a call to action for the men of the church to meet the needs of women facing crisis circumstances. Marriage aside, there are countless other ways for Christian men to emulate Boaz and serve the widows or single mothers in their community through acts of kindness.

Ruth’s example may provide inspiration to women and men who have experienced a tragic loss or who unexpectedly find themselves in the position of being a caretaker. Ruth displayed her noble character by acting based on her love for her family and trust in God, rather than allowing the pain of loss to overshadow her hope for the future. Her story reminds us to turn to the Lord in every sorrow and trust that He is working all things together for our good (Rom. 8:28).

The Crises that Led to Christmas (Part 1): Tamar Endured the Crisis of Familial Abandonment

by Joy Zavalick

December 20, 2021

The genealogy of Jesus, as recorded in the first chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, includes many of the most recognizable and celebrated men of the Judeo-Christian tradition, such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the kings David and Solomon. Five women are also listed as being among Jesus Christ’s earthly ancestors: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and, of course, his mother Mary.

In the coming days, we will explore the lives of these women. Each one faced challenging circumstances and endured hardships, but ultimately God saw fit to include them in the family line of the Messiah. Moreover, given that Matthew’s genealogy is not comprehensive—and that the inclusion of women’s names in a genealogy was unique for Matthew’s time and culture—we can be sure that each of these five women were included in this list for a reason. The Lord evidently wants us to learn important truths about His grace by considering these women and their stories. The beauty of God’s plan is that the unique “crises” that each woman faced ultimately led to Christmas.

***

The first woman listed in the genealogy is Tamar, who was the daughter-in-law of Judah, one of the 12 sons of Jacob. Genesis 38 says that Tamar’s husband, Er, was put to death by the Lord for unspecified wickedness. According to custom, it was the responsibility of Er’s brother, Onan, through “levirate marriage,” to marry his brother’s widow in order to provide an heir and keep property in the family. Onan, however, refused to accept this responsibility (likely motivated by sinful desires to assume the position of family leadership and a double inheritance). Because of his failure to fulfill the duties of levirate marriage, he sinned against his deceased brother and Tamar. For his actions, he was also put to death (v. 10).

After the death of his second son, Judah was fearful of giving any more sons to a woman he thought might be cursed, so he sent Tamar away to live in her father’s household. Although Judah promised Tamar that he would give her his third son in marriage, he evidently had no intention of keeping his word. This abandonment of Tamar was a grave evil.

Years later, Tamar learned that her father-in-law was visiting her hometown. Determined to carry on the family lineage of her late husband, Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute. Judah, not recognizing her as his daughter-in-law, solicited her and impregnated her. Three months later, Judah learned that Tamar had conceived a child and demanded she be put to death for prostitution. This hypocritical demand reveals not only the inconsistent manner in which men and women were treated in that day, but also puts in sharper relief the evil of Judah’s abandonment of a woman he was supposed to provide for and protect. Tamar immediately revealed that Judah was the father of her child. Judah responded that his daughter-in-law had been “more righteous than I” and rescinded his call for the death penalty.

The story of Tamar reveals God’s enduring faithfulness to Abraham in allowing the line of Judah to continue so that Jesus could be born from it. Tamar gave birth to twin boys—Perez and Zerah. From the line of Perez came King David, and later, Jesus Christ—the Son of God.

God saw fit to use Tamar, a widow who faced the crises of being abandoned by her family, feeling that she had no recourse but to act as a prostitute, and having her father-in-law threaten to have her killed, in the story of His Son’s birth.

Today, many women, like Tamar, are abandoned by their families. Many women feel their only option is to allow men to use them. Many women face abuse from those who should love and protect them. These women can find encouragement in God’s faithfulness to Tamar—a woman who was never deserted by God, even when her earthly circumstances were less than ideal.

Women who find themselves in situations like Tamar should know there are people ready to support them as they work to raise their children. Approximately 3,000 pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) are available across the country, seeking to provide material support, emotional encouragement, and spiritual healing to pregnant mothers facing difficult life circumstances. These centers allow women to advocate for their children even when they lack support from those who are closest to them.

Although Tamar’s husband, brother-in-law, and father-in-law all failed to love and care for her, and although Tamar’s act of prostitution was immoral, God still provided for her and saw fit to include Tamar and her family in the earthly lineage of His Son. Tamar’s life proves that God’s mercy is endless, and His ability to bring good out of our missteps is boundless.

Year in Review: 10 Stories From 2021

by David Closson

December 17, 2021

2021 has been a year full of important cultural, political, and legal developments. In a year that witnessed the inauguration of a new president, the conclusion of America’s longest war, and the ongoing fight against COVID-19, there was much to track, analyze, and discuss. Although Democratic majorities in Congress required conservative policymakers to play defense at the federal level, there were still notable (and significant) legislative victories throughout the states.

2021 was an active year for Family Research Council, and there are several new initiatives, events, and legislative victories that merit gratitude and reflection as we prepare to ring in the new year. What follows are 10 stories from 2021 that provide a summary of God’s faithfulness and kindness to us and lay the groundwork for an exciting 2022.

1. Oral Arguments Heard in Case that Could Overturn Roe

On December 1, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that has the potential to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion on demand in America through all nine months of pregnancy. 

In Dobbs, the Supreme Court is considering the constitutionality of Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, bipartisan legislation that prohibits elective abortion after 15 weeks gestation. The Gestational Age Act offers a direct challenge to the jurisprudence of Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the U.S. Supreme Court decisions that made legal abortion through nine months the default law of every state. Under Casey, states may prohibit abortion post-viability and restrict abortion prior to viability so long as the restriction does not place an “undue burden” on the woman. In Dobbs, the court will consider whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortion are unconstitutional. The court’s decision, which is expected in summer 2022, could return the ability to legislate abortion back to the states and will have major implications for the future of the unborn in America.

In the weeks leading up to the oral arguments, FRC provided leadership to the pro-life community in a variety of ways. First, FRC filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court urging the justices to overturn Roe and its companion case, Casey. Second, FRC teamed up with other national pro-life groups, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Alliance Defending Freedom, to host a “Pray for Dobbs” national webinar for pastors. Over 4,000 pastors joined the October broadcast and learned about the case. Then in November, the “Pray for Dobbs” coalition hosted a national prayer event. Over 18,000 people joined national leaders on the broadcast to pray for the upcoming case. Third, on November 28, FRC hosted a prayer rally titled “Pray Together for Life” in Mississippi. Among the national leaders who participated was Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves. Finally, FRC also published resources and articles about the case, and on the day of oral arguments, FRC’s Katherine Johnson spoke at a rally outside the Supreme Court.

To learn more about the case and for a list of recommended ways to pray, see my article in The Gospel Coalition.  

2. Vaccine Mandates Struck Down

On September 9, President Joe Biden issued an executive order that all employers with more than 100 employees must require their workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or submit to weekly testing. Noncompliant businesses could be fined. Biden’s private employer mandate came on the heels of a federal mandate requiring all federal employees to receive the vaccine, get tested weekly, or face dismissal from their job.

After the announcement, several organizations and schools (including The Daily Wire, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Asbury Theological Seminary) sued, alleging the Biden administration lacked constitutional and statutory authority to issue such a mandate to private employers. Both schools also argued that the administration lacked jurisdiction to dictate employment practices to religious institutions. On Friday, November 12, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued an order staying enforcement and implementation of the executive order. On November 16, 2021, the Judicial Panel of Multidistrict Litigation consolidated all petitions for review of the Emergency Temporary Standard (including the Fifth Circuit ruling) before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Moreover, on November 29, a U.S. district court in Missouri issued a preliminary injunction for health care workers in 10 states. On November 30, the U.S. District Court of Western Louisiana issued a nationwide injunction prohibiting the enforcement of Biden’s national vaccine mandate for health care workers. Additionally, on December 7, a U.S. district judge in South Georgia temporarily blocked President Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors and subcontractors.

President Biden’s vaccine mandate has proven to be divisive. Thus far, courts around the country have halted the implementation of the mandate. As we move into 2022, Christians will need to think carefully and biblically about vaccine mandates, as it seems they will continue to be part of the national conversation.

Concerning whether Christians should use religious exemptions, see my article “How Should Christians Use Religious Exemptions for Vaccine Mandates?

3. Off-Year Election Results

While 2021 is not a major election year for most states, a few states and cities still held important elections. The most significant of these was the Virginia gubernatorial election, in which Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin faced off against the Democrat Terry McAuliffe. Even though Joe Biden had won Virginia by 10 points the previous year, Youngkin surprised political pundits by defeating McAuliffe and becoming the first Republican to win a statewide race in over a decade. Furthermore, Republican nominees for lieutenant governor and attorney general both won, and Republicans retook the majority in the House of Delegates. Many election observers cited parents’ outrage over public school officials’ cover-up of a biological male student’s rape of female students in Loudon County school bathrooms. Abortion and the teaching of Critical Race Theory in schools were also motivating factors for many voters.

Elsewhere around the country, conservatives demonstrated that the political climate has soured against Democrats and their progressive agenda. For example, the Republican nominee for governor in New Jersey nearly pulled off a shocking upset against incumbent Democrat Governor Phil Murphy. In perhaps the most stunning race, New Jersey Senate president Stephen Sweeney (D) was upset by a Republican truck driver who only spent a few thousand dollars on his campaign.  

Additionally, ballot measures to defund the police department were defeated in Minneapolis, and the mayor of Buffalo waged a successful write-in campaign against a progressive candidate endorsed by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). FRC Action (FRC’s legislative affiliative) endorsed their first candidate for school board, David Anderson, in Washington state. Anderson won the election. Only a year after the 2020 election, voters are clearly concerned about the country’s direction, and these results are encouraging for conservatives headed into next year’s midterm elections. 

4. FRC Launches Center for Biblical Worldview

In May, FRC launched the Center for Biblical Worldview (CBW) with the goal of equipping Christians to advance and defend their faith in their families, communities, and the public square. We also added researcher George Barna and Professor Owen Strachan to the CBW team.

The need for the CBW was underscored by an FRC-commissioned survey that revealed that only six percent of Americans have a biblical worldview, despite 51 percent thinking they do. Furthermore, only 21 percent of those who attend evangelical churches have a biblical worldview. Biblical illiteracy is a significant problem in America, one the CBW hopes to help counteract.

The CBW hit the ground running, publishing numerous resources in its first year, including newly re-branded Biblical Worldview Series booklets covering important topics such as religious liberty, the sanctity of life, human sexuality, and political engagement. These booklets are now available in English and Spanish. The CBW also produced dozens of articles, interviews, and other resources to help pastors, churches, and Christian laypeople think through the year’s most contentious and confusing political and moral questions.

In 2022, the CBW is planning to publish a Sunday school curriculum, a video series, and a web-based resource for parents and students to evaluate the faithfulness of every Christian college and university in America. To stay informed about all of the exciting projects we expect to release next year, you can sign up for the CBW’s monthly email here.

5. Texas Heartbeat Act Saves Thousands of Babies

The Texas Heartbeat Act, which took effect on September 1, has saved an estimated 150 babies from abortion per day. This will result in upwards of 18,000 babies saved by the end of the year. The Texas law bans abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, typically at about six weeks gestation. Texas’ 230 pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) have been meeting the needs of mothers that otherwise might have undergone abortions prior to the Heartbeat Act.  

Unsurprisingly, Texas abortion businesses sued the state over the Heartbeat Act. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and in December issued an opinion permitting lawsuits to proceed against licensing officials but no one else that the abortion lobby had named as defendants. SCOTUS also made the rare move of dismissing the Biden administration’s suit saying they never should have accepted it in the first place. Overall, the opinion was a win for pro-lifers. Although the law is currently facing challenges from the outraged abortion lobby, it is still in effect today. 

While holding her three-month-old son, FRC’s Mary Szoch spoke outside the Supreme Court as arguments about the Texas law were heard. FRC’s Katherine Johnson also published an explainer about the law, combatting lies spread by the abortion lobby (and unfortunately parroted by many in the media). Christians must continue to pray for a favorable outcome for Texas as the Heartbeat Act continues to face litigation in 2022.  

6. Win in Congress: NDAA Passes Without Conscripting Women

Every year, Congress passes the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), legislation that is required to fund the military. Legislators have managed to pass the NDAA for 60 years. However, it is not always an easy or smooth process. This year, Democrats dug in on adding a proposal to mandate that women register for the draft.

Over the past few months, as the bill moved through Congress, FRC argued that women should continue serving honorably in the military on a voluntary basis only. Including women in any future drafts would subject them to being mandated into combat roles, which is unnecessary and dangerous. It has been proven that women in combat situations have a higher likelihood of injury than their male peers and thus affect the lethality, readiness, and cohesion of certain combat units.

FRC facilitated more than 200,000 messages to Congress opposing this dangerous mandate. Pro-family leaders in the House and Senate such as Sens. Hawley (R-Neb.), Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Lee (R-Utah) and Reps. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) and Chip Roy (R-Texas) led the charge. In an about-face that Politico described as a “stunning turnaround,” this mandate on women and other anti-life and anti-religious liberty provisions were dropped from the bill.  

7. Hyde Amendment Preserved

The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. However, since 1976, Congress has worked to ensure that federal funding does not go toward abortion. In 1976, Congressman Henry Hyde introduced an amendment to the Health and Human Services (HHS) appropriations bill, prohibiting federal Medicaid funds from paying for abortions. This amendment to the annual spending bill, known as the Hyde Amendment, has been approved every year since 1976 and has saved an estimated 2,409,311 lives.

However, because of the nature of federal spending, this measure must be passed annually in order to remain in effect. In recent years, Democrat lawmakers have openly lobbied to remove the Hyde Amendment. In fact, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an HHS spending bill without Hyde for the first time since 1976. Moreover, the Senate introduced a spending bill without Hyde protections. Thankfully, despite fierce attacks from pro-abortion lawmakers, Hyde was preserved in the spending bills passed in 2021.

There are several ways in which FRC was involved in preserving Hyde. For example, FRC worked to secure 199 signatures from House members calling for the preservation of Hyde. Additionally, FRC worked to educate members of Congress about Hyde and worked with them whenever the issue was brought up in committee or came up for a vote. When the spending bill came through committee in July, FRC staff helped committee members with speeches and media interviews. Every Republican on the appropriations committee gave a speech defending Hyde and opposing taxpayer funding of abortion. While it is normally difficult for outside groups to muster five to seven members to speak out in committee on a given issue, FRC helped get 25 members to speak in favor of Hyde. Even though it remains under attack, the Hyde Amendment received more vocal support from Republican lawmakers in 2021 than in any year in recent memory.

8. Pray Vote Stand Summit

The inaugural Pray Vote Stand Summit was held October 6-8 at Cornerstone Chapel in Leesburg, Virginia. The thousands of social conservatives who attended in-person and the tens of thousands who attended online heard from nationally-recognized religious and political leaders on the most pressing issues facing the nation, including religious freedom, abortion, national security, and education.

Speakers included Mike Pompeo, Glenn Youngkin, Michele Bachmann, Sam Brownback, Carter Conlon, Os Guinness, Sen. Josh Hawley, Sen. James Lankford, Jack Hibbs, Nancy Pearcey, Allie Beth Stuckey, Chad Wolf, and many others.

In addition to plenary addresses from speakers, attendees benefited from hearing panel sessions on topics such as abortion, worldview, Christian persecution, vaccine mandates, and keeping children safe from radical gender ideology. Coinciding with the Summit, FRC also hosted a training for those interested in running for their local school board. 

FRC’s communications team credentialed 47 members of the media from 26 outlets to cover the Pray Vote Stand Summit, including Fox News, CBN News, and One America News. Additionally, 34 media outlets published 45 articles about or referencing the conference including Fox News, Breitbart, The Blaze, CBN News, The Daily Wire, The Christian Post, and The Epoch Times.

9. International Religious Freedom Summit

On July 13-15, FRC participated in the 2021 International Religious Freedom (IRF) Summit. Unlike the Trump-era Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, this year’s IRF gathering was organized by private organizations, not the U.S. government. Hosted by 81 convening partners (including FRC), the summit highlighted the issue of international religious freedom, an area of increasing concern. In fact, almost 80 percent of the world’s population live in countries with high levels of religious persecution, much of it perpetrated by government actors.

At the summit, participants heard reports by FRC’s Andrew Brunson and Bob Fu. FRC president Tony Perkins hosted a panel discussion and a sponsored lunch where he interviewed Grace Gao, who shared about her father, a human rights lawyer, who has been targeted by the Chinese government and whose exact whereabouts have been unknown for four years. FRC’s Lela Gilbert moderated a side event on religious freedom in Nigeria, which included two survivors of persecution.

For more information about FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty, specifically its work on international religious liberty, see FRC.org/irf.

10. SAFE Act Passes in Arkansas

On April 6, the Arkansas legislature enacted House Bill 1570, the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act. This made Arkansas the first state in the nation to ban the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and gender reassignment surgeries on individuals under 18 for the purpose of “gender transition.” Of the many similar bills introduced across the nation, Arkansas’ law is the most comprehensive ban addressing this issue. It initially passed the Arkansas House 70-22 and the Senate 28-7. When Governor Asa Hutchison vetoed the bill, the House voted 72-25 and the Senate voted 25-8, providing the first veto override in Hutchinson’s tenure as governor. FRC awarded Rep. Robin Lundstrum the Samuel Adams Award for State Legislator of the Year in recognition of her leading role in getting the bill passed.

For more information about FRC’s work with state legislatures around the country and some of the pieces of legislation we support, see FRC.org/legislation.

The Redeeming Gift of Adoption

by Molly Carman

December 1, 2021

The majority of individuals are blessed to be born and raised by their biological parents. However, many children across our nation are waiting for a family to welcome them home through the process of adoption. According to the Adoption Network, two percent of Americans have adopted children into their homes—roughly 140,000 children are adopted in the United States each year, with nearly 1.5 million children adopted in America today.

Saturday, November 20th was National Adoption Day when courts across America celebrated the finalization of adoption cases. For children seeking a forever home and adoptive parents, this day is eagerly awaited with joy. This year, National Adoption Day is an especially relevant reminder that adoption may very well become even more critical if the Supreme Court rules to overturn Roe v. Wade in the pivotal Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case that is being argued there today. If Roe is overturned or scaled back by the Court and abortion is increasingly restricted in more states as a result, there will be thousands more unplanned babies that will be born that will be in great need of being adopted.

Family is such a blessing, and for those who have faced tragedy or unexpected circumstances, adoption is a redeeming gift and a way to find family again. Adoption is particularly significant for Christians as it is a picture of our relationship in the family of God. Just as children waiting for adoption are hoping for their forever home, Christians have been adopted as sons and daughters of God and await Christ’s return when we will be reunited and go to our eternal home of glory.

Scripture speaks frequently about God’s hearts for orphans. James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Orphans and widows were the most vulnerable individuals in the ancient world, and for the most part this is still true today. God has had a heart for the vulnerable from the founding of Israel. When Moses received the law he commanded them, “You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child” (Ex. 22:22). In the Old Testament, Israel is often referred to as God’s son whom He cared for, saved, and redeemed.

In explaining the gospel, New Testament authors often use language that refers to believers as orphans before they were saved and adopted as sons and co-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:16-17). We are orphans because sin separates us from God our Father, and we are unable to be reconciled to Him in our own strength or actions. Without redemption from sin, we are condemned to eternal separation from God through death. However, Scripture reminds us, “that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8) and it is through Christ’s death that we are no longer separated from our Heavenly Father but are reconciled and adopted into His eternal kingdom. John says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God” (1:12). This message is reiterated in Paul’s letter to the Galatians where he explains, “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (3:26). Christ also promised the disciples, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:8), referring to His second coming when He will fully redeem us and bring us home.

Adoption is a biblical value and is a tangible representation of God’s desired relationship with humanity. While not everyone will be able to welcome children into their homes permanently or temporarily, Christians are called to love the least of these. Christians should be intentional to promote this beautiful representation of redemption and healing, remembering that “we love because He [Christ] first loved us” (1 John 4:19). 

National Adoption Day is an opportunity to celebrate children who have found loving and safe homes. The U.S.A. Coalition of National Partners, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, Alliance for Children’s Action Network, and the Freddie Mac Foundation all came together to found National Adoption Day. It began in 2000 when these coalition partners asked seven cities to open their courts the Saturday before Thanksgiving to finalize and celebrate adoption. The event was a huge success, and by 2014 over 400 cities were participating. By 2018, nearly 70,000 children in foster care had their adoption finalized on this day.

Anyone can participate in National Adoption Day and help raise awareness for the thousands of children who are in foster care and waiting to find their forever home. Whether or not the Lord is calling your family to adopt, Christians everywhere should remember that Christ is preparing an eternal home for all those who are redeemed by His sacrifice.

From Eating to Dining: How Shared Meals Reveal What It Means to Be Human

by Dan Hart

November 24, 2021

In 2019, a disheartening survey was released on the eating habits of Americans. It found that only 48 percent of respondents eat at the dining room table, with 47 percent saying they eat on the couch or in their bedrooms instead. Tellingly, 72 percent of respondents also said that they grew up eating in the dining room. This is the latest illustration of a trend that has been happening for quite some time in America. Families and households are putting less of an emphasis on one of the most fundamental pillars of family and communal life—a shared meal.

Social science bears out the central importance that family dinner has on positive outcomes for children, including lower rates of drug abuse, teen pregnancy, depression, obesity, and eating disorders as well as higher grade-point average, self-esteem, and vocabulary. But the benefits of family meals—or any shared meal—go much deeper than what social science can prove. Dining together fills an innate need that all human beings crave: the desire for true communion and fellowship with our Creator and with one another.

The Centrality of the Meal in Scripture

Scripture tells us a great deal about just how fundamental meals are to human flourishing. Moreover, the Bible contains many examples of how the provision of food often served as a means for teaching important spiritual truths. For example, in the Old Testament, God fed the Israelites manna in the desert. Despite their disobedience (which resulted in the people having to wander in the desert for 40 years), He fed them, teaching them to depend and rely on Him for their daily sustenance (Exodus 16). Similarly, throughout the gospels, Jesus chooses a shared meal as the context not only for building relationships but for enacting His salvific plan.

His desire for forming intimate bonds over a shared meal is shown through His dinner with tax collectors and sinners at the home of Levi (Luke 5:29-32), eating at the house of Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:36-50), dining at the home of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:25-42), and staying at the home of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). Strikingly, Jesus also emphasizes communal dining with His disciples in His resurrected body. He sups with two disciples that He meets on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), with His disciples in Jerusalem (Luke 14:35-48), and again with His disciples on the shores of the Sea of Tiberius, sharing a miraculous catch of fish and bread over a charcoal fire (John 21:1-14).

Indeed, Christ’s plan of salvation is miraculously revealed multiple times in the context of a shared meal. It is at a wedding feast at Cana that Jesus performs His first miracle of turning water into wine, ushering in His public ministry (John 2:1-11). After feeding the souls of 5,000 men (besides women and children, which means the total number may have been as much as 15,000) by teaching them about the kingdom of God, He orchestrates a miraculous, spontaneous dinner for everybody when He multiplies a few loaves and fish to feed the entire throng, so much so that there are 12 wicker baskets left over after everyone has eaten their fill (Matthew 14:13-21, Luke 9:10-36). At the Last Supper, Christ reveals a fundamental aspect of His sacrificial mission through sharing bread and wine with His disciples (Luke 22:14-23).

It’s clear that Christ placed great emphasis on the importance of the meal as a conduit for revealing the depth of His love for His flock. But a natural question arises here—why did Christ do this? What is the true nature and potential of a shared meal?

From Eating to Dining”

Judging by the survey referenced earlier, for the most part, eating has become a pretty mundane and isolated exercise for many Americans. At the same time, the popularity of cooking shows and eating out prove that even the fragmented nature of everyday life in our culture has not fully tamped down the pleasures of a good meal. Even so, what our culture seems to lack is a true understanding of just how meaningful meals can and should be. As Leon Kass has reflected upon at length in his profound book The Hungry Soul, the ordinary nature of eating takes on a whole new meaning when we intentionally make an effort to move “from eating to dining”—from eating for the primary purpose of satisfying a grumbling stomach to instead dining with others through a shared experience of food and conversation.

Human instinct tells us that there is something unparalleled and intangibly communal about a dinner table filled with delicious food to share and enjoy together. This is illustrated by the fact that a shared meal is the only human activity that engages all five of our senses at once. We see the food spread out before us and the people we are sharing it with, we smell the aromas which heighten and anticipate our appetites and enhance our eating experience, we touch our forks and knives to eat and pass around the dinner rolls, we taste, relish, and consume our meal, and we listen to the merriment and clinking dinnerware and partake in conversation.

To be sure, a shared meal gives us arguably the richest opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation that has the potential to draw us closer to one another. Aristotle once wrote about how “the truest human intimacy takes place in good conversation.” And as John Cuddeback has observed, “[G]ood conversation … does more than give seasoning to life. It is the beating heart of a real communion of persons, of a happy life-together with those we love.”

Of course, meaningful conversation doesn’t always happen on its own. The best way to facilitate true fellowship is to pray for those who will dine with us and for uplifting conversation that leads to greater intimacy with each other and the Lord. When we fully invest ourselves in a meal shared with others, it has the power to nourish the mind, body, and soul all at once. Because God created us as embodied beings comprised of both bodies and souls, nourishing our physical hunger through eating naturally nourishes our minds and hearts. As we engage in rich conversation, we draw closer and grow in intimacy with each other. Our souls are in turn nourished by this communion we achieve with others during the meal. Since our minds, bodies, and souls are in union with each other, when one is nourished, they are all nourished. It is in this act of dining that we can harness the true communal potential of shared meals that our Creator intended them to be.

It is in this way that a meal shared with others can become a taste of the divine feast in heaven where we will be in total communion not only with all the redeemed but with the communion of love found in the Holy Trinity.

Practical Ways to Enhance a Shared Meal

At this point you might be thinking, “It’s all well and good that meals have such great potential to be so meaningful, but how can we expect to have this kind of experience consistently?” It’s true that we can’t expect every meal to be a profound experience, but there are a few simple, practical ways we can be more intentional about making a shared meal a truly communal and edifying experience for all.

1. Spend a little extra love and care preparing everyday meals.

Anyone who has prepared an elaborate meal for a dinner party, a family reunion, or Thanksgiving knows how much work it can be but also how rewarding it is to experience the appreciation guests express over a well-received meal. This experience can not only be immensely rewarding for the host, but also for the guests: who can’t help but feel well cared for after being served a delicious meal?

In the same way, parents or anyone else cooking for others can make dinnertime consistently special by preparing healthy, hearty meals that aren’t elaborate and time-consuming. The Family Dinner Project has some great tips on how to do this.

2. Start dinner earlier in the evening.

When possible, try to start dinner or appetizers as early in the evening as you can. When everyone has their hunger nourished earlier in the evening, it will set the tone for a better overall mood and will allow for a more extended time of fellowship after the meal.

Social science has also found strong benefits for earlier dinners for families. A recent study found that “‘parents who eat dinner before 6:15 p.m. … spend 11% more quality time with children, and spend 14% more overall time with children’ in the evening than those who eat later.”

3. Say a prayer of thanksgiving after the meal.

Most believers pray a blessing over meals before digging in, but less common is the traditional Christian practice of saying a prayer of thanksgiving afterward. Saying a post-meal blessing can help set a grateful tone before partaking in an extended time of fellowship after a meal and serves as an acknowledgment that what everyone just took part in was a sacred experience. While there is always the option of spontaneous prayer, here is a simple, common prayer of thanksgiving.

***

For Americans, Thanksgiving has the most potential to be the ultimate dining experience—it has remained the most popular holiday next to Christmas. This speaks to the power that is inherently present in a shared meal with loved ones—our human natures are drawn to celebratory feasts like a moth to flame.

This Thanksgiving, may we reach for ever greater heights of communion with our family and friends, and in so doing strive for greater communion with our Creator, the master of the eternal, heavenly banquet.

Women Must Be Protected in the NDAA

by Mary Beth Waddell, J.D. , Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William G. Boykin

November 12, 2021

As the Senate prepares to take up the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 (NDAA, S. 2792), hundreds of amendments to the bill have been offered. One of the most crucial for senators to support is the amendment which removes the provision changing registration for the Selective Service to require young women to register alongside men.

Introduced by Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), this amendment is cosponsored by Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.). Each of these senators, and others, like Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) who has an identical amendment, and SASC Ranking Member Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) who opposed this change in committee and supports this amendment effort, understand that requiring women to register for the Selective Service means that women will be mandated into front line combat roles should we employ the draft again.

Women are an asset to our military and serve with great honor, courage, bravery, and distinction. They bring unique and valuable skills and perspectives to their service. There is nothing hindering women’s ability to volunteer and serve, so there is no need for this dangerous and unnecessary mandate contained in the NDAA.

Requiring women to register for the Selective Service and thus be subject to the draft is dangerous and unnecessary. As Senator Hyde-Smith, Ranking Member of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, which funds the Selective Service, noted, “I have great admiration for the women who serve in our Armed Forces, and every opportunity to serve should be available to women. I do not, however, see any compelling reason to expand the Selective Service System.”

Should we ever need to employ the draft, women would be placed in front line direct combat roles—if Sen. Hawley’s amendment is not adopted. No “modernization” of the Selective Service is going to change this fact. When the draft was employed in 1973, it was not to solely replace combat arms but to increase the force structure generally, yet most draftees went to combat arms. Since that time, the lines between combat and non-combat roles have become even more blurred. Just because a role is in information technology, cyber security, or other such “non-combat” sounding role does not mean that it will be removed from the battlefield and away from immense danger and risk.

Women in combat have a higher likelihood of injury, leading to non-deployability and the compromising of lethality, readiness, and cohesion of certain combat units. While some women are able to meet the demands of combat, the physical differences between men and women cannot be ignored. Fewer women than men can meet these demands and the random nature and the lowered fitness examination parameters of the draft are insufficient to ensure that only such highly-qualified women would be selected for combat roles. A three-year long study by the Marine Corps found that, in tasks resembling requirements of infantry, armor, and artillery units, all-male teams outperformed co-ed units in 69 percent of ground combat tasks.

This, along with the menstrual cycles and potential for pregnancy for women, has led to unit cohesion and readiness issues which should be avoided if a draft is needed. This same Marine Corp study found that sex-related physical differences negatively affected co-ed units’ speed and effectiveness in simulated battle tasks, including marching under heavy loads, casualty evacuations, and marksmanship. During the Persian Gulf War and the large-scale deployment of military servicewomen, some deploying units reported that non-deployable rates for pregnancy were as much as 30 percent of those assigned.

Not only is this requirement currently in the NDAA dangerous, it is numerically unnecessary. If the armed services needed to be more than doubled to five million with maintaining the 16.5 percent female service members, only 1.4 percent of the male population would need to be added to the 1.1 percent of males who currently serve.

The Senate could take up the NDAA as soon as next week. We applaud the efforts of these senators supporting Senator Hawley’s amendment to protect both women and our military. We encourage other senators to support this amendment, and we encourage the American people to let their senators know how they feel about this issue. Thank them if they are supporting these great efforts and, if not, ask them to do so here.

For more information on this issue, see Women Should Not Be Drafted into Selective Service.

Retired Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin is the Executive Vice President at Family Research Council. He formerly served as the commander of Delta Force and the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence from 2002 to 2007. 

Mary Beth Waddell, J.D. is Director of Federal Affairs, Family and Religious Liberty at Family Research Council.

How to Prevent Divorce Before It Happens

by Dan Hart

August 25, 2021

There are close to 800,000 divorces every year in America, which is roughly one every 36 seconds. About 74 percent of divorced or separated adults are Christian.

It’s worth pausing for a moment to think about this. Despite the clear teaching of Christ against divorce (except in the most serious of circumstances) in Mark 10:2-12 and Matthew 19:3-9, divorce is astonishingly common among believers.

It’s safe to say that when it comes to divorce, Christians have let American secular culture take root in their own homes. After no-fault divorce laws became the norm nationwide beginning in the 1960’s, the divorce rate more than doubled over a 20-year span from 1960 to 1980. While the rate has fallen in the decades since then, America still has one of the highest rates of any country in the developed world.  

As social science has found, divorce negatively impacts almost everything that matters, including family relationships, religious practice, education, the marketplace, government, and overall health and well-being.

What is most tragic is how divorce has affected our nation’s children. By the 1970s, about half of all children born to married parents witnessed their divorce. While this figure has improved somewhat since then, there are still over 5.8 million children currently living with single divorced parents in America, with millions more adult children of divorce currently going about their lives with a hidden and deeply embedded wound within their souls. In the book Primal Loss: The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak, one adult child of divorce said this:

For a long, long time, I felt like a tree that was uprooted with its roots dangling above ground. I can even remember saying it aloud to people. I had deep-seated feelings of low self-worth and fell more deeply into sin … Words that are, for me, synonymous with divorce [are]: major upheaval, trauma, destabilization, departure, heartbreak, and bad example.

As this quote illustrates, a child of divorce often feels rootless and torn “between two worlds.” Since the child is the literal incarnation of the union of their mother and father, when the union is severed, the child feels interiorly split. The effect that divorce has on children is profound, and the wounds can last a lifetime. Thankfully, there are both evangelical and Catholic ministries focused on healing for adult children of divorce.

But what if there was a way to preempt divorce before it happens?

The Crucial Importance of Marriage Preparation

In the church, a certain “hands-off” approach has seeped its way into the ministry of preparing couples for “the single most important human relationship,” as Dr. Pat Fagan has written. This unfortunate pattern, which is a byproduct of secularization, gives dating and engaged couples the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the couples’ actual readiness to vow themselves to each other for the rest of their lives before God, their families, and their friends. In our current culture of dwindling marriages, many churches are thrilled just to have a couple—any couple—come to them asking to get married in their church. In their eagerness, it’s understandable that pastors and church leaders are hesitant to require these couples to complete a rigorous marriage preparation program that may scare them off.

Nevertheless, when we consider what is at stake with marriage and the tragic consequences and prevalence of divorce, it is clear that churches must prioritize the essential ministry of marriage preparation.

Why is marriage preparation so important for engaged couples? A primary reason is that, if done effectively, it can help uncover deep-seated tendencies and familial wounds that may not be fully known to one or both partners. If the couple is not, at a minimum, aware of these tendencies and wounds in each other before tying the knot, they can easily negatively manifest themselves in the first few years or even many years into the marriage and blindside the couple, potentially causing serious conflict that can increase the likelihood of divorce.

Additionally, as Alan Hawkins and Tiffany Clyde have written, it is particularly important for the current generation of young adults to receive effective marriage preparation. This is because millennials and Generation Z have grown up in a culture of rampant individualism, commitment ambivalence and devaluation, premarital sex, and pornography to a degree that was not experienced by prior generations. These negative tendencies lead to marital dissatisfaction and increase the risk of divorce, making it all the more imperative for currently engaged couples to unlearn cultural influences before matrimony.

The Advantages of Couple-to-Couple Mentorship

While there are many evangelical and Catholic marriage preparation programs out there that churches can follow, one of the best and most proven methods is for the engaged couple to be actively mentored by a veteran married couple, ideally from their own church congregation. There are several distinct advantages of couple-to-couple mentorship:

  • When an engaged couple is able to spend quality time with a veteran married couple (ideally a couple that they already know and admire from their church congregation, as pioneered by the Witness to Love program), they can develop a comfortable rapport and build trust with each other, which will lead to more fruitful, deeper, and more practical conversations about the challenges, joys, and expectations of marriage.
  • An additional benefit of couple-to-couple mentorship is the possibility of the veteran couple hosting the engaged couple in their home for their marriage prep sessions, which gives the engaged couple an inside look at married life and is a great way to demystify it and build realistic expectations.
  • This kind of couple-to-couple mentorship is also ideal for ongoing discipleship after the wedding day. In the words of one pastor, mentorship “connects [newlyweds] not only to the [church], but also to a support system that basically fosters ongoing activity in the [church] long after we do marriage preparation.”
  • Mentor couples can also become “first-responders” if the couples they mentor are struggling in their marriages. As believers, we all have this same duty to support marriages that may be in crisis in our circles of influence.

Let’s Renew Our Focus on Marriage Ministry

Effective divorce prevention is rooted in top-notch marriage preparation, but it doesn’t end there. Crisis marriages that are at their breaking point don’t have to result in divorce, contrary to what the culture might say. There are a host of programs, retreats, and resources offered by  Live the Life, Focus on the Family, Retrouvaille, and many more which can be implemented at or facilitated by your church that can help couples on the brink of divorce save their marriages.

The bottom line is that the church can and does help lessen the scourge of divorce in America, but it can always do better. As believers, we can be the catalysts for a marriage ministry revival in our churches. If you are happily married, talk to your spouse and prayerfully consider becoming a mentor couple for engaged couples at your church. If your church doesn’t have a formal marriage preparation program or resources for marriages in crisis, talk to your pastor about providing them.

As Christians, let’s renew our focus on ministering to marriage—the single most important human relationship.

How the “Infrastructure” Bill Is a Trojan Horse for a Leftist Social Agenda

by Family Research Council

August 6, 2021

The $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure “deal” that is being floated in Congress right now is very bad news. It not only increases the national budget deficit (which has already ballooned to three times the level seen in 2019), but it also contains a “poison pill” that advances an aggressive leftist agenda on marriage and human sexuality. It is effectively a steppingstone to achieving the Equality Act’s ultimate goal—a total overhaul of our federal civil rights framework to mandate special privileges based on “sexual orientation and gender identity” (SOGI).

Congressional Democrats are pairing this infrastructure “deal” with an additional piece of legislation championed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—a $3.5 trillion bill that reportedly includes the following items from the Left’s wish list:

  • Universal pre-Kindergarten, which would take children out of parents’ care and enroll them in public education even earlier.
  • Free two-year community college for everyone, including illegal immigrants, which would further incentivize academic institutions over personalized choices for successful career paths.
  • $1.6 billion for teacher certification programs that can be used to exclude any teachers that do not want to promote Critical Race Theory and gender ideology.
  • A nationally-mandated paid leave program that allows employees to take paid leave for almost any reason given, rather than for specific family reasons like caring for a newborn child or taking care of an elderly parent. A national mandate on paid leave may also disincentivize employers to offer their own more flexible parental leave plans that fit their employee’s needs.
  • A permanent expansion of Affordable Care Act subsidies that will directly fund health plans that cover abortion.
  • The potential for either a public option or a side-by-side Medicaid program that will sidestep the Hyde Amendment and fund abortions directly with taxpayer dollars. (See frc.org/families to learn about our concerns with Biden’s anti-family plan.)

Many of the specifics contained in the infrastructure bill and the Sanders bill were released back in the spring as part of one comprehensive $4 trillion economic plan that President Biden positioned as one of his signature progressive priorities. It was released in two parts:

  1. The American Jobs Plan totaling $2.3 trillion, released March 31
  2. The American Families Plan totaling $1.78 trillion, released April 28

From the outset, all of the polices in these two bills have been sold as one comprehensive plan to “build back better.” As these plans got worked into legislation, most of the American Jobs Plan ended up in the current infrastructure “deal.” Then, all of the Families Plan, the remaining parts of the Jobs Plan, and some additional proposals were swept into the $3.5 trillion reconciliation blueprint the Senate has committed to take up immediately after passing a bipartisan infrastructure bill.

President Biden and Democrat congressional leadership are hoping to pass as much of the president’s $4 trillion policy dream from the spring and whatever other liberal goodies are feasible. Whether that comes in two bills (one bipartisan the other partisan), or one partisan reconciliation bill, they will pass as much as they can. That sets up two scenarios:

  1. If the bipartisan infrastructure bill succeeds, it frees up a full $3.5 trillion that can be used completely on progressive priorities, since the $1 trillion in infrastructure spending is already taken care of.
  2. If the bipartisan infrastructure bill fails, the entire infrastructure bill will most likely be rolled into the broader reconciliation bill, making it more challenging to convince moderate Democrats to sign off on major progressive priorities in a bill that could swell to over $5 trillion.

Why defeating the infrastructure bill is important:

  • If the infrastructure bill is defeated, the infrastructure spending in reconciliation would become a top priority for moderate Democrats. This would make it more difficult for the more liberal Democrats to cram radical policies into reconciliation. Although the majority party can set a topline spending number as high as they want, for reconciliation, they will have to choose a number the most moderate members are okay with. If a higher topline number is agreed to, it will force Democrats to pick and choose which programs they include, increasing the likelihood that we will see fewer bad programs overall if the bipartisan deal is defeated.
  • It will be really hard for Senators Manchin (D-W.Va.), Sinema (D-Ariz.), and some others to justify voting for over $5 trillion in direct partisan spending—which they would be doing if all this is crammed into one bill. Known for working across the aisle, both Sinema and Manchin have expressed concern with a $3.5 trillion price tag for reconciliation, making it hard for them to accept an even higher price tag on a purely partisan deal.
  • We should remember that anything in the reconciliation package would be subject to the Byrd Rule (allowing senators to block unrelated provisions), so Republicans helping Democrats pass their infrastructure priorities is saving Democrats from having to make all those provisions compliant to this rule.

Some Senate Republicans insist the two are separate bills, but President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have already promised to pair them. Given the limited amount that Democrats can pass in reconciliation without Republican votes, every vote for this bipartisan “deal” creates room for more liberal wish list items in reconciliation.

In short, paying for roads and bridges in the infrastructure “deal” clears the deck for Democrats to focus on the radical policies in reconciliation. If this deal fails, Democrats will have to do roads and bridges in reconciliation. Since the reconciliation process is limited, there’d be less room for their partisan pet projects.

Thus, in this case, a vote for “infrastructure” is a vote for Biden’s entire progressive agenda.

**To tell your Senators to reject this bad bill, go here: frcaction.org/infrastructure

Mary Holland On the Dangers of Removing Parental Protections from Children’s Medical Decisions

by Family Research Council

July 21, 2021

Below is the transcript of an interview with Mary Holland, president and general counsel of Children’s Health Defense, during the July 16, 2021 edition of Washington Watch with Tony Perkins.

***

TONY PERKINS: Welcome back to Washington Watch. I’m Tony Perkins, your host, along with Meg Kilgannon, our co-host today. On Monday, Parental Rights Foundation and Children’s Health Defense filed a lawsuit against Washington, D.C., arguing that a 2020 law permitting minors to obtain vaccinations without parental consent is unconstitutional. The D.C. Minor Consent for Vaccinations Amendment Act of 2020 allows minors eleven years and up to consent to vaccines, including the COVID shot without parental knowledge or consent, if the health care provider believes the minor is capable of meeting the informed consent standard. Wow. Well, joining us to talk about this is Mary Holland, president and general counsel of Children’s Health Defense. She is also the co-author and co-editor of the books Vaccine Epidemic and the HPV Vaccine on Trial: Seeking Justice for a Generation Betrayed. Mary, welcome to Washington Watch.

MARY HOLLAND: Thank you so much for having me.

MEG KILGANNON: Mary, can you tell us about what prompted you to file the lawsuit?

HOLLAND: So this is a very dangerous law that the Washington, D.C. City Council passed and Congress did not override it. We were sort of watching this process. This is potentially precedent setting. The pharmaceutical industry had tried this in many states, but they have bicameral legislatures and they did not succeed because both parents opposed it. But in D.C., with only a unicameral legislature, they were able to get this through. This is dangerous for children because parents won’t know what vaccines their children get. It goes beyond just the parents don’t know. This is active concealment required by this law that the parents who filed a religious exemption will not know that their children got vaccines. Whether it’s the human papilloma virus vaccine or whether it’s the COVID shot or whether it’s a meningitis shot, the kids allegedly can consent to any federally recommended vaccine on their own and the parents won’t even find out about it from their health insurer. It will be concealed from the parents who will have access to information and the health care practitioner. But the health care practitioner and the school are disabled from giving that information to the parent. This is unconstitutional. It also violates the federal statute that put in place the vaccine program that we have today. So we strongly oppose it. We believe that we will prevail on this. We have four parents on behalf of their children who are enrolled in the D.C. public school system. And we think that, we feel that, this is an incredibly important law to challenge because it is so potentially precedent setting. Let me just add that four cities have already sort of declared this mature minor act. And so Seattle and New York City and in Philadelphia, they have been inviting children without their parents’ knowledge to come and get COVID shots. This is tremendously concerning.

PERKINS: This would appear to me, as you’ve described it, Mary, intentionally designed to deceive parents. And with this being concealed, I mean, I have to think about, you know, there could be complications. You know, when you get this, let’s just take the COVID, there’s others that this would open the door to. So it’s not limited to the COVID shot. But let’s say they get the COVID shot. And we already know that there have been some health complications for some who have gotten these shots and a parent doesn’t know and all of a sudden their child could be deathly ill and they don’t know why.

HOLLAND: Tony, there have been others, over nine thousand reported deaths. There have been over four hundred thousand reported injuries. The covid shots in particular are very serious medical intervention. But every vaccine, like every drug carries potential benefits and potential risks. That’s why parents have to play a role in these decisions. These are minors. It is inconceivable to me that an 11-year-old can adequately research and understand the potential benefits risks of a COVID shot. This is nonsense. This is the pharmaceutical industry coming in and exploiting children, at the children’s expense and trying to cut parents out of the picture. That’s just unacceptable. It’s un-American, it’s unconstitutional, and it violates federal law.

KILGANNON: We’re really grateful that you filed this lawsuit. I think it’s incredible to me that a governing body, in which in this case is the school board, right and the city council, that would they would think that eleven year olds could know their medical history sufficiently to actually form intelligent consent to any medical procedure. Never mind a vaccine.

HOLLAND: That’s it, Meg. This is dangerous. Children can potentially die from this law. That’s what parents have to understand. Your child could die from getting fuor COVID shots through a school. And the kid doesn’t know what the shot was. They said, “Oh, yeah, give me the shot so our class can get the pizza party.” And then the mom or the dad take the kid to get to the COVID shot. We don’t know what that would do. It might be within a short period of time. I just can’t bring across enough how dangerous it is and how exploitative this is.

PERKINS: Well, and I would add that to add insult to injury here is that they’re going to bill the parents’ health insurer without them even knowing what the service provided was. I mean, this is incredible.

HOLLAND: That’s the point, Tony. It’s incredible. We could not believe this as this passed through the city council. And then it sat on the mayor’s desk and we tried to get people to call in to the mayor, and there were there were hundreds of thousands of emails and phone calls, but that didn’t move anything. And then it went to Congress and there’s a waiting period in Congress and that didn’t do anything. So, surely, we have had no choice. And another organization has also filed a lawsuit. This one is where we absolutely have to take a stand. It is. And of course, this is specifically going against parents with religious exemptions or conscientious objections to the HPV vaccine, Gardasil. So it’s parents who already filed their religious exemptions to great extent that they’re trying to go around. So this is, of course, also violating constitutional rights to free exercise. It’s just a terrible law. In a word, it’s a just terrible law and that we’re proud to be standing together with the plaintiff and parental rights advocates.

PERKINS: Well, Mary, we appreciate you joining us. And we’re going to watch this very closely. And we’ll be getting updates from you, hopefully, so we can keep our listeners informed. This is a direct attack, Meg, on parental rights.

KILGANNON: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. They want to leave the parents out. They’re going deliberately around them.

The video of the interview can be viewed here.

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