FRC Blog

The Dignity of Motherhood

by Rob Schwarzwalder

March 5, 2015

Motherhood is hard. Really hard.

As I consider all my wife has done with and for our three children, I’m humbled by the sacrifices she has made day in and day out. Our children are delightful, but they are human, which means they are fallen in nature and finite in judgment. That means that motherhood is hard. Really hard.

Motherhood is under attack. “No fault” divorce, cohabitation, promiscuity, abortion-on-demand, and pornography have made women of childbearing age prey to a variety of evils and susceptible to the often malign choices of others. And simply being a mom can induce demeaning comments (“all you do is stay at home with your kids, right?”) and hurtful expressions of ignorance (“nice you don’t have to work, isn’t it?”).

In a perceptive article on how we have “overcomplicated” motherhood, Anna Mussmann notes that “Babies change people, and when women give up personal freedom for the sake of love, lose their sense of control over the physical world, and nurture their commitment to another human being (even when they do not feel like it), they are transformed into the kind of adult who can be a haven and an authority for children. They become wiser and better able to recognize cultural nonsense for what it is.”

Some of that nonsense is contained in the usually unspoken but nonetheless real assumption that children are somehow secondary to professional achievement. To employ a sophisticated term of art, what bunk.

As Courtney Reissig writes in a beautiful piece on motherhood in Her.Meneutics, “Rather than a milestone to be carefully calculated, planned for, and earned, kids serve a different purpose altogether. Whether you stay home with them or not, children are not a status symbol, but a blessing. They aren’t the cherry on top of a life plan, but part of what it means to live out our mandate as image-bearers. God’s command to be fruitful and multiply is part of what it means to image him. We create and bear life. We work and we nurture. The ambient culture encourages creation, cultivation, and work, but often out of selfish ambition — not to the praise of the God who created us.”

Reissig continues that whenever a woman has a baby, celebration and honor by God’s people are in order:

Children also come to us — biologically or through adoption — at God’s timing. Despite my desire to start a family earlier, I didn’t give birth to my twins until I was 30. Even when we are open to having children, it doesn’t always happen right away and sometimes, they don’t come at all. But the church should be a place that welcomes expectant mothers regardless of what they have accomplished pre-pregnancy. Even if she never finishes her degree, lands a top client, or wins an Academy Award, bringing life into the world is a beautiful and God-honoring thing.”

Is this attitude in us and in the churches we attend which also is in our Creator? If not, examine why — and reconsider how better to recognize the women who so cherish life that they are willing both to give birth to and raise little ones.

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Abraham Lincoln: “The Judgments of the Lord” March 4, 1865

by Robert Morrison

March 4, 2015

Some might say he was clinging to his guns and religion. Abraham Lincoln began his Second Inaugural Address with a reference to the military situation. Gen. Grant’s powerful army then held the rebel Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in a death grip, besieging it at Petersburg, with the Confederate capital of Richmond sure to fall to Union forces.

Lincoln expressed his satisfaction with “[t]he progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends…” He moved on to a brief recitation of the causes of the Civil War.He offered no condemnation of his foes as he related in a factual manner the reason for this most terrible of all of America’s wars.

By the time Lincoln spoke, most of the 630,000 lives that would be lost in this struggle had already perished. It was to protect and extend the institution of Negro slavery that white men came to sword points. “And the war came.”

He “would not play the Pharisee,” he often said. Almost alone among Northern leaders, Lincoln did not cloak himself or the Union cause in all righteousness. He knew what the Founders knew. Slavery was largely confined to the Southern States. He had told his dearest friend Joshua Speed how he “crucified his feelings” on seeing shackled slaves conveyed South “like trout on a line.” Now, it was almost as if he were speaking to his slaveholding friend as he acknowledged the sin of the whole nation in the offense of slavery.

Lincoln knew Massachusetts was the home of Abolitionism. But its great ports had also carried on what President Jefferson had called that “execrable traffic.” Great Yankee merchant families had made their fortunes. And some of those fortunes were built on bones.

Lincoln would not now disavow his anti-Slavery convictions. He evinced a decent respect for the opinion of mankind against “wringing one’s bread from the sweat of other man’s faces.” Still, he urged his countrymen to “judge not lest ye be judged.”

He knew how ships might leave West Africa with six hundred souls crammed naked and chained into stinking cargo holds and arrive in the Americas with only two hundred yet living. The worst of Southern plantations, Lincoln knew, could not approach horror of the Atlantic Slavc Trade in the bondsman’s “two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil.”

While Confederate President Jefferson Davis railed against the barbarism of his Yankee foes, Lincoln condemned no one. He never accused. He never sought to pluck the speck from his neighbor’s eye. Instead, he had mused in private and sometimes among small groups how the Almighty might have given victory to either side on a single day during the four-year Golgotha of “this fiery trial.”

What if Pickett’s Charge had succeeded at Gettysburg? What if Vicksburg had held?What if Gen. Sherman had been defeated before Atlanta?

When Jefferson Davis tried to rally his ragged rebels against Sherman’s all-conquering host, he boasted that the grizzled red-haired devil would meet the same fate in Georgia that Napoleon met in Russia. In one of his few recorded jokes, Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had replied: “And who will supply the snow?”

If we look for a sublime example of American Exceptionalism, we will find it here. What other nation could conclude a four-year bloody Civil War with such an Address? Lincoln called for “malice toward none, charity for all.”

The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether,” Lincoln said of the wholly unexpected bloody, protracted and revolutionary struggle. Not only had the Union been preserved, but the cause of Disunion—human bondage—had perished in the fires.

Abolitionist editor and orator Frederick Douglass that day entered the White House, the first time a black man was an honored guest an Inaugural reception. The President asked him his opinion of the address. “Mr. Lincoln, it was a sacred effort.”

Lincoln called America “the last best hope of man on earth.” Yet in our time, in our land, a thousand unborn children are beheaded daily by an organization that is sheltered and funded by our own taxes. This dread toll deprives our people of genius and industry. Every child born in America has the potential to earn a million dollars.

We know the truth about these unborn millions. “Ultrasound has made it impossible to deny that that thing in the womb is a human being,” writes TIME magazine’s Joe Klein. We agree with Lincoln that “nothing stamped in the divine image was sent into the world to be trod upon.” And yet we proceed as if the judgments of the Lord are not intended for us, and that His justice will sleep forever.

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The 150th Anniversary of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural: A Meditation on the Will of God

by Rob Schwarzwalder

March 4, 2015

My brilliant friend Daniel Dreisbach (Ph.D., Oxford), a professor at American University, has written a wonderful piece on the 15oth anniversary of what he rightly calls “among the most eloquent of all presidential utterances.”   

Lincoln’s remarkable, 700-word speech is a meditation on God’s will during a time of national crisis and massive bloodshed, the Civil War.  It also reflects the 16th President’s internalization of the Word of God and how it affected his understanding of this great American trial.

Read Daniel’s perceptive piece, and join with Lincoln in remembering that “the judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.”

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Ultrasounds Save Lives

by Arina Grossu

March 4, 2015

A survey conducted by the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), a national legal network of prolife pregnancy centers, showed how powerful ultrasounds are in changing the minds of abortion-minded and abortion-vulnerable patients. 

NIFLA stated in a press release:

Four-hundred and ten (410) of NIFLA’s medical membership (less than one-half) reported providing 75,318 ultrasound confirmations of pregnancy in 2013 on patients identified as either abortion-minded or abortion-vulnerable. Of these abortion at risk patients, 58,634 chose to carry to term, indicating that 78% of those mothers who saw an ultrasound image of their unborn child before deciding about abortion chose life.

When asked whether ultrasound confirmation of pregnancy has a positive impact upon a mother considering abortion to choose life 83.5% said “Absolutely,” 15.76% said “More than likely,” and 0.74% said, “Only a small impact.”

Planned Parenthood and abortion advocates will do all they can to conceal the reality that abortion kills babies.  That is why they refer to preborn babies as “tissues” or “products of conception” and oftentimes dissuade women from looking at their ultrasounds.  Technology reveals the truth that they try to hide from women.  When a woman sees her preborn child on an ultrasound, with a beating heart by 22 days post-fertilization, she will most likely choose life—78% of abortion-minded or abortion-vulnerable mothers who saw their ultrasounds did!  It is not a coincidence that 83.5% said that the ultrasound “Absolutely” has a positive impact and another 15.76% said that it “More than likely” did. 

We are seeing a trend in women connecting with their babies before birth.  Four dimensional ultrasounds (4-D) have done wonders in revealing to us the humanity of the child.  One ultrasound company did a 3-D/4-D photo contest asking parents to send in their child’s ultrasounds and photo post-birth, generally in the same pose as their ultrasound. The results are stunning, revealing the striking resemblance of these children’s mannerisms, both in the womb and outside of it.  There is also a new phenomenon of women doing 3-D printing of their ultrasounds for as little as $250.  A writer at the Washington Post admitted that it “could perhaps change the abortion debate.”  When the humanity of the preborn child is revealed with the help of technology, both the child and the mom win.

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The Threat to Domestic Religious Liberties

by FRC Media Office

March 2, 2015

Anyone keeping a relatively close eye on the religious liberties landscape in this country cannot fail to sense a growing tension developing. Whether it’s anti-discrimination laws restricting the full extent of religious conscience, federal abortion coverage mandates demanding compliance from private catholic charities, or the tenacious Freedom From Religion Foundation mailing complaint letters to administrators demands the installment of laïcité in our public schools, the culture clash between church and state is anything but boring. The Christian Legal Society was fortunate to have Travis Weber of the Family Research Council come speak to us on the topic of Domestic Threats to Religious Liberty. We thank him for his time and for his commitment to fight for our first freedom.

Click here to listen to his remarks.

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Sick of Porn? Here’s Some Good News for a Change

by Cathy Ruse

March 2, 2015

Thank you, Safeway!

As a mom of two young girls, the last thing I want them to do is stand in the checkout line and stare at the nearly pornographic Sports Illustrated 2015 Swimsuit Edition. At Safeway, now I won’t have to.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (formerly Morality in Media) is encouraging moms like me to ask retailers to wrap the cover and move it from public display, especially checkout lines.

At first Walgreens, Barnes & Noble, and Safeway told us to jump in the lake. But after receiving 30,000 emails Safeway has changed its mind: they have announced they will place the magazines away from checkout stands and cover two-thirds of the front of the magazine.

Read more about the grocery giant’s turn-around, and how to thank them.

Thank you, Google!

It seems that Google is slowly getting out of the porn business.

Family Research Council joined the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE), Enough is Enough, and other groups to ask Google to take a stand against sexually exploitative images and videos. Google has been on NCSE’s annual “Dirty Dozen List” for a number of years.

But last year Google decided to remove all pornographic apps from Google Play, and AdWords stopped all pornographic ads and ads that link to sexually explicit websites.

This week Google announced that“sexually explicit or graphic nude images or video” will not be allowed on Blogger, a popular blog platform. It told Blogger users it will beeliminating all “adult” blogs from public access and remove from all forms of public search by March 23, 2015, unless they remove all inappropriate content.

To learn more and send Google a “Thank you!”: http://endsexualexploitation.org/google/

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H.B. 1228: Bringing Freedom to Arkansas

by Travis Weber

February 27, 2015

Down in Arkansas, opponents of individual rights and personal freedom are doing what they can to defeat H.B. 1228, the state Conscience Protection Act, a freedom-loving bill which is designed to ensure that individuals’ consciences and beliefs cannot be easily trampled by intrusive government regulation.

Human Rights Campaign proudly points to a statement by Apple in which the company opines on a religious rights bill it apparently does not understand—for H.B. 1228 does not diminish “equal treatment under the law” for anyone, certainly not based on their sexual orientation. The only thing it does is keep a powerful government in check. The idea that the company is demeaning the religious beliefs of the citizens of the same state whose business opportunities it is taking advantage of is apparently lost on Apple.

Here and elsewhere, opponents know they can’t defeat the bill by simply showing their hatred for anything religious. So here and elsewhere, some put forward religious figures as their “spokespeople” against the bill, trying to use religion for their ends. Meanwhile, these poor individuals don’t realize they are opposing a bill which would support their own individual rights and liberty when the government comes calling for them in the future.

Others don’t even pretend to focus on the actual issue, claiming “the point of the bill is to prevent equal treatment of gay people, even if it has no effect on anyone’s beliefs,” and implying H.B. 1228 would allow a gay person to be “denied a hamburger, an apartment or a job because of his or her sexuality.” Anyone who actually takes the time to understand how the bill works would know it does no such thing. It is precisely the “effect” on “beliefs” that has so many seeing the urgent need for such bills as forced conscience violations under penalty of law increasingly emerge elsewhere.

Enough about the misinformation on H.B. 1228. Let’s review the facts, for truth’s sake:

What does the bill actually do?

H.B. 1228 protects sincere conscientious objectors of all religions from over-intrusive government regulation burdening their religious practice, while winnowing out those using religion as a pretext to escape application of general laws. Neither the Conscience Protection Act nor similar laws protecting religious exercise would allow businesses to “turn away” customers or engage in “discrimination” as they see fit.

How does the bill actually work?

H.B. 1228 allows a person to appeal to their religious beliefs as a basis for their claim or defense in a judicial proceeding.

Under the bill, an individual first has to prove they have:

(1) A religious belief, and

(2) Which is also sincere, and

(3) Which has been substantially burdened by the government action in question. Only then can their claim move forward.

Only if the person making the religious claim satisfies those three elements does the claim move to the second stage. At this stage, the government must show that:

(1) It has a compelling interest in burdening the religious practice, and

(2) It has only burdened the practice in the least restrictive way possible.

If the government can make both of these showings, its law or regulation is allowed to infringe on the religious practice—even under H.B. 1228. However, if the government fails to make both of these showings, the religious claim will prevail, and at that point the person is entitled to legal protection for their religious beliefs and practices. Even then, the person must look to the court’s application of similar laws; in no cases would H.B. 1228 simply allow people to appeal to religion to act as they wish apart from judicial involvement. It is important to remember that just because someone brings a religious rights claim does not mean that the claim will win in every case.

This is a legal standard known as “strict scrutiny.” It has been used in constitutional law for decades, and has been applied to religious claims for over 20 years under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”)—all without any “discrimination” or pattern of abuses such as those claimed by the opponents of H.B. 1228.

This RFRA framework does not permit anyone to automatically do anything in the name of religion; they have to jump through all the hoops discussed above. RFRAs and laws like H.B. 1228 merely protect those of all faiths whose sincere beliefs are in danger of being unnecessarily burdened by the government, while winnowing out those using religion as a pretext to escape application of general laws. For all these same reasons, claims that the Michigan RFRA will “let EMTs refuse to serve gay people” and that the Arizona and Mississippi RFRAs from previous years are “right-to-discriminate” bills are completely misleading. When people are provided with a proper understanding of strict scrutiny’s application to religious claims, they can see that opponents of these bills are engaging in baseless fabrication.

Who needs the bill’s protections?

Everyone with religious beliefs and a conscience—regardless of their religion, political views, the content of their beliefs, or how they apply those beliefs.

Religious freedom laws like H.B. 1228 never used to be (and still should not be) a partisan issue, as they protect those of all faiths and political persuasions. Indeed, when the federal RFRA was passed in 1993, a coalition of groups from across the religious, political, and legal spectrum—from the Southern Baptists to the ACLU—came together to support restoring strong protections for free exercise claims. A review of RFRA and free exercise case law going back decades clearly shows its benefit to everyone from Muslims to Jews, Christians to Santeria adherents, and Native Americans to more obscure sects, as they seek to protect their beliefs and consciences in the face of ever more intrusive government. Moreover, these laws are not political—they cut across racial and social lines, and apply in a variety of factual scenarios, such as property disputes, social welfare (just this past year, the Texas RFRA served as protection for those seeking to care for the homeless), conscience objections to abortion, and restrictions on using controlled substances in religious ceremonies. H.B. 1228 and RFRAs like it are not fact-specific. They are not race-specific. They are not religion-specific. And they are not political party-specific.

Americans of all political persuasions and religions who care about individual freedom from government coercion should get behind H.B. 1228. The bill’s text and our established practices for analyzing religious claims show that H.B. 1228 will merely support conscience rights for all in the face of ever larger and more intrusive government—it does nothing more, and nothing less. That’s something all Americans can support.

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Social Conservative Review: An Insider’s Guide to Pro-Family News February 26, 2015

by Rob Schwarzwalder

February 26, 2015

Click here to subscribe to the Social Conservative Review


Theologian David Wells has written of “the extraordinary bombardment … that goes on every day from a thousand different sources that leave us distracted, with our minds going simultaneously in multiple directions” (God in the Whirlwind, p.17). Not only are we inundated with information, but attentive citizens are confronted daily with national and international matters of great significance.

As is appropriate, each of us has particular interests and concerns. Only God is infinite, and only He can attend to all matters simultaneously and in proportion to their true value. But sometimes things rise to the surface that cut through the noise and stand out on their own. Here are a couple:

Domestic Policy - Marriage: Earlier this week, FRC released the findings of a new survey showing that 61 percent of Americans agree that “states and citizens should remain free to uphold marriage as the union of a man and a woman and the Supreme Court should not force all 50 states to redefine marriage.” The survey also found that 53 percent of Americans agree that marriage should be defined only as a union between one man and one woman. In addition, an overwhelming majority (81 percent) of Americans agree that government should “leave people free to follow their beliefs about marriage as they live their daily lives at work and in the way they run their businesses.”

In April, the Supreme Court will hear arguments concerning the constitutionality of same-sex “marriage.” As they weigh what to do, they would be wise to remember that sundering the social fabric through judicial fiat has never born good fruit; the Dred Scott and Roe decisions make that plain. And they should be sobered by the fact that four out of five Americans believe moral convictions grounded in deeply-held religious faith can’t be parked at one’s home or left within the four walls of a house of worship – they continue to uphold the right of their fellow citizens to live-out the implications of their faith at work as well as worship.

Foreign Policy – ISIS: In this edition of the SoCon Review, we feature a special section devoted to analyses of ISIS and Christian responses to it. The beheading of Coptic Christians along the Libyan shoreline was evil in its rawest, most horrific form. Yet followers of Jesus in the Middle East know that nothing can separate them from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35). ISIS seeks conquest of a temporal kingdom, but Christians serve a King Who has “overcome the world” (John 16:33). As we pray for the persecuted – and their persecutors – let’s remember, and be comforted, by that changeless truth.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice-President
Family Research Council

P.S. Be sure to listen to Dr. Mark Regnerus’ FRC lecture, “Stability and Change in Americans’ Relationships,” presented this week at our headquarters in Washington, D.C.


Education

Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life

Abortion

Adoption

Bioethics

Assisted Suicide

Marriage & Family

Homosexuality and Gender Issues

Human Trafficking

Marriage

Pornography

Religious Liberty and Persecution

Domestic

International

Religion in Public Life

Occasional Categories

Feminism

ISIS

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Desperate Times for Christians in Syria

by Chris Gacek

February 26, 2015

Accurate news of the depredations being visited upon Christians by the savage ISIS forces operating in Syria and Iraq is not easy to come by. Fortunately, there are policy specialists in Washington who have established deep ties with Syria’s Christians. One of these experts is Katharine (“Katie”) Gorka, President of the Council on Global Security.

Mrs. Gorka has written two significant articles in Breitbart’s national security section on the recent ISIS attacks against these Christians. In the first article she gathered news by directly contacting representatives of the Assyrian community. A summary of the facts is as follows:

Around 4:00 in the morning on Monday, February 23rd, an estimated 1500 ISIS fighters attacked a series of Christian towns in northeast Syria, burning churches, taking as many as 90 hostages, and forcing hundreds to flee from their homes.


Many Christians have fled to the Syrian town of al-Hassaka, but the fear now is that ISIS will overrun the town, kill the men, and kidnap the women and children. After the attacks on Monday, Gorka writes, “According to one source, ISIS has taken 30 Christian young women and plans to distribute them as concubines in the town of Shadadeh.”

In the second article, “ISIS Hammers Christian Towns in Syria for Third Day,” Gorka provides a better sense of the military campaign being waged by ISIS against thirty-five Assyrian towns in northeastern Syria. One source told Gorka “that ISIS is still trying to take control of the region and that they are trying to cross the Khabur River.” Kurdish and Syrian forces have repelled the assaults so far “but it is uncertain how much longer that can last.” ISIS is estimated to have several thousand fighters involved. The Kurds and Christians have fewer, and they are inadequately armed.

Reading between the lines, the American effort has been comically inadequate. For example, DoD put out a press release trumpeting less than a dozen drone strikes in a day. ROLLING THUNDER this is not.

What’s important is the bottom line: the United States is making no commitment or effort to truly help the Christians. Nothing new here. However, the U.S. government appears to be doing something. It is running a disinformation campaign against the American public to make it believe that these Middle Eastern minority populations are not being sacrificed.

(Finally, ISIS is destroying cultural artifacts in Mosul. Read this article describing how it burned down the Mosul Public Library. “Among the many thousands of books it housed, more than 8,000 rare old books and manuscripts were burned.”)

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