FRC Blog

Is Rubio Right About Christianity Being Designated “Hate Speech?”

by Rob Schwarzwalder

May 29, 2015

It is always encouraging when politicians speak truth boldly.

Marco Rubio did just that earlier this week, in an interview with CBN’s David Brody. Referring to strident advocates of same-sex “marriage,” he said:

If you think about it, we are at the water’s edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech. Because today we’ve reached the point in our society where if you do not support same-sex marriage you are labeled a homophobe and a hater. So what’s the next step after that? After they are done going after individuals, the next step is to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the catechism of the Catholic Church is hate speech and there’s a real and present danger.

Is he right? I think so.

Christianity teaches eternal destruction (read that, hell) for those without the Savior it heralds.

Christianity teaches that all men and women are sinners by nature and by choice.

Christianity teaches that there’s only one way to God — Jesus Christ.

Christianity teaches that all other professed ways to God are false.

Christianity teaches that its written text, the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, were inspired without error in all they affirm.

Christianity teaches that sexual intimacy is reserved solely for one man, one woman marriage.

These and many other things abrade today’s cultural sensitivities and social demands. As such, is not Sen. Rubio’s prediction pretty obviously correct?

What do you think?

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Is Judge Granade scared of Alabama’s pushback on marriage?

by Travis Weber

May 29, 2015

Recent news from Alabama affirms that states can still have a voice and push back against efforts by the federal government to override them on marriage — in this case by resisting aggressive, unlawful assumptions of authority by federal courts.

U.S. District Court Judge Callie Granade recently issued another order barring certain probate judges from denying same sex marriage licenses, but stayed her order pending the Supreme Court’s imminent decision on same sex marriage.

Could Judge Granade’s stay be standard operating procedure given the upcoming decision? Possibly.

Could it also be that she stayed the decision because she is afraid of being again rebuked by the Alabama Supreme Court and receiving proper, lawful pushback? Also, possibly.

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Social Conservative Review: An Insider’s Guide to Pro-Family News May 21, 2015

by Rob Schwarzwalder

May 22, 2015

Click here to subscribe to the Social Conservative Review


American society has been characterized as post-Christian, post-modern, post-conservative, post-racial, and post-gender. We are said to be a culture of narcissism (Christopher Lasch), a culture of death (Ramesh Ponnuru), a culture of war (Anthony J. Marsella), a culture of fear (Barry Glassner), and even a culture of wimps (John Strausbaugh).

There is some truth in just about all of these (although “post-genderism” is a term only the academy could love, given its intrinsic detachment from biological reality).  But one things is sure: The culture of secularism – “the belief that religion should not be involved with the ordinary social and political activities of a country” – is growing.

While Evangelical Christianity is growing or at least holding its own, other Christian traditions and religion generally are diminishing. As the latest Pew Research poll on religious faith in our country demonstrates, “the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing.”

This presents Christians with a tremendous opportunity to minister the grace and truth of Christ in all spheres of endeavor and in both personal and professional relationships.  And also to share the good news of the salvation Jesus offers to a broken and breaking world.

Paul the Apostle says believers should be “making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16), echoing Moses’ prayer that  God would “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).  All for His glory.

Given the crises of our secular era, there can be no more bracing or encouraging counsel than that.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice-President
Family Research Council

P.S. Why did the explosive riots in Baltimore happen? Read Dr. Pat Fagan’s study of the causes of inner city turbulence not only for a close analysis but practical counsel on how we can transform the urban family.


Education

Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life

Abortion

Adoption

 

Assisted Suicide

Bioethics

Human Trafficking

 

Marriage & Family

Divorce Reform

Economy and the family

Fatherhood and Motherhood

Marriage

 

Human Sexuality

Homosexuality and Gender Issues

Pornography

 

Religious Liberty and Persecution

Domestic

International

 

Religion in Public Life

Christian faith and public policy

Other Stories of Note

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WATCH: In 6 Minutes, Local Pastor Shares Why the Supreme Court’s Marriage Case Matters for Us All

by Josh M. Shepherd

May 19, 2015

How can an evangelical pastor address current issues that affect his congregation? Reverend Bill Shuler, lead pastor of Capital Life Church in Arlington, Virginia, led by example in a recent sermon – addressing the cultural shift on the definition of marriage.

His sermon on May 10, entitled “Scattered Seeds,” centered on how God can redeem His people in seasons of struggle. In an aside about how the next generation faces a barrage of influences hostile to faith, Rev. Shuler spoke on tolerance, God’s heart of love… and why believers cannot ignore how changing views on marriage policy can affect their religious freedom.

Why does it matter what the Supreme Court has to say in a matter of days in regards to marriage?” he begins, then proceeds to answer the question – starting at the personal level.

The Bible speaks way beyond tolerance,” he says. “The Bible commands us to love people, no matter their decisions. I’ve counseled people for what is, this year, now 30 years of full-time ministry. I’m commanded to love unconditionally, no matter who comes into my office.”

Jesus is truth and love,” Rev. Shuler preaches. “We are commanded to love. But I want you to know, we are commanded to walk by standards that are found in the scriptures and we must stand upon those.”

So the Supreme Court will make a decision,” notes Rev. Shuler, turning to national policy and its potential effect on believers nationwide. “In the days ahead, it is very possible that the government may become all the more intrusive when it comes to churches.”

Following a brief historical account of the often-misunderstood separation of church and state, Rev. Shuler gives a few real-life examples of intrusions beginning to happen. “Now the concern is, the government can demand of the church that you hire people who may not abide by the standards of the scriptures.”

Or, [the government can demand] that you must marry a couple even if the couple does not line up with the definition of marriage in the scriptures.”

What will the response be if we don’t do that?” Rev. Shuler considers. “We love people, but we cannot make that compromise. This is where we don’t know for certain yet what will happen.”

He presents one scenario: “Tax-exempt status could be taken away. Are you ready to support the church and the Gospel even if we’re not tax-exempt, because we stood on our convictions?” Another possible result, he says, could be “churches lose their buildings.”

I’m not here to stir up something where we’re getting scared,” he says. “But we need to take this seriously. I believe that in this generation, if you don’t take it seriously, your children and grandchildren will look at you and say: Why didn’t you do something when it all was turning?

We need to know where we stand,” he concludes the brief discussion. “We love everybody. We should treat everybody with respect and love. There should not be a sense of treating people with some sort of unique disdain solely to those people because of their decisions.”

We still stand for holiness and righteousness,” he says, pointing to his Bible. “And we believe this to be the authoritative Word of God, and this is where we stand.”

In regards to the court case, Rev. Shuler leaves his congregation with a point of action. “We will see what happens on this, but we need to pray.”

Josh M. Shepherd serves in communications at the Justice House of Prayer DC, an evangelical missions organization serving Washington, DC and the nation through ongoing prayer and strategic activism. He and his wife Terri are also Capital Life Church members.

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Anthony Kennedy and the “Millennia” of Marriage

by Peter Sprigg

May 8, 2015

After last week’s oral arguments before the Supreme Court, those who seek a ruling that the Constitution of the United States requires a redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples should be wary of over-confidence.

As usual, the eyes and ears of Court observers were focused on Justice Anthony Kennedy. He is often the “swing vote” between the Court’s liberal bloc (Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan) and the more consistent conservatives (Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito). Last week’s arguments gave every indication that Kennedy will cast the deciding vote again.

Some advocates of redefining marriage see victory in the current case — an appeal of a decision in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld one-man, one-woman marriage laws in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee — as a foregone conclusion. They base their confidence on opinions Justice Kennedy has written in earlier cases which upheld the pro-homosexual cause — most notably, the 2013 ruling which struck down the federal definition of marriage in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

It is dangerous to try to predict the outcome of a case based on oral arguments. By their very nature, they lead the Justices to attack, or at least probe and test, the weak points of both side’s arguments. However, Justice Kennedy’s questioning in the current case (or cases, consolidated under the name of one of them, Obergefell v. Hodges) at least showed an understanding of some issues which advocates of redefinition tend to gloss over or deny.

An ancient definition

For example, the very first question that Kennedy raised for Mary Bonauto, attorney for the petitioners seeking licenses for same-sex civil marriages, reflected two key elements of the way conservatives believe the issue should be framed. Liberals argue that the issue is “access” to the institution of marriage; conservatives say the issue is the fundamental definition of marriage. Liberals focus on the recent adoption of laws and state constitutional amendments to “ban same-sex marriage,” while conservatives point out those measures merely preserve the longstanding definition of marriage.

Kennedy took the conservative side of both points when he said, “…[T]he word that keeps coming back to me in this case … is ‘millennia.’ … This definition has been with us for millennia. And … it’s very difficult for the Court to say, oh, well…. we know better.”

Bonauto seemed to want to avoid this topic of the antiquity and universality of marriage as a male-female union, arguing, “The States create the definition of civil marriage and certainly are accountable for those definitions and any exclusions which follow.” However, Kennedy returned to the larger perspective, noting, “If you read … about the Kalahari people … or ancient peoples, they didn’t have a government like this. They made it [marriage] themselves and it was man and woman.”

No “fundamental right”

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May Day! May Day! For Britain and for US

by Robert Morrison

May 4, 2015

For Britain, it is May Day. May Day was last Friday. The First of May has been a traditional holiday in Britain and Europe for centuries. Since the French Revolution, however, May Day represented workers and the Left.

May Day!” is also the international distress call (M’aidez—from the French for help me!) Next Friday, there will be an important national election in Great Britain. It could have profound influence on America. Polls are unusually volatile this time, but British Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband, could win and be installed in Number 10 Downing Street as Prime Minister.

If that happens, Britain will lurch dangerously to the Left. Among a raft of radical proposals, Miliband is promising (or threatening) to make “Islamophobia” a crime if Labour wins a majority in the House of Commons. Under the parliamentary system, the House of Commons wields almost unchecked power.

Ed Miliband certainly would not claim to be anti-Jewish. His own parents were Jewish refugees from Hitler’s murderous regime. They sought asylum in Britain. But Ed Miliband is a true believer—not in God, he’s an atheist—but in Marxism. As hard as that may be to believe, it is nonetheless true.

Ed Miliband had to oust his own brother David for the leadership of Britain’s Labour Party. But mostly, he repudiated “New Labour,” the shift toward moderation represented by the long tenure of Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Just as President Obama sought out Marxist professors in college, Ed Miliband is the product of the most left-leaning background imaginable (during his American stay, he even developed a fanatical loyalty to an American baseball team: the Boston Red Sox!)

Britain’s socialists make it easy for voters: They wear red. Their posters and buttons are red. Even their ties, when they wear them, are red.

The reason the Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron is in trouble is not because he’s not compassionate enough; it’s because he’s not conservative enough.

He is wedded to the increasingly troubled, bureaucratic, undemocratic European Union (EU). And Cameron ignored mounting evidence that maintaining marriage as the union of one man and one woman is vital for a flourishing civil society. He cast aside reasonable concerns when he rammed through Parliament a bill to grant marriage rights to same-sex couples. This caused deep misgivings among many of the Tories’ grassroots supporters.

These traditional Tory voters have been moving to the United Kingdom Independent Party (UKIP). Party leader Nicholas Farage is anti-EU and is raising sharp questions about Britain’s immigration policies, which Cameron has maintained.

Cameron has recently made statements supporting Christians persecuted abroad—which is more than President Obama has done. But at home, Prime Minister Cameron’s government is not meeting the challenge of Islamism.

Several years ago, the Anglican Bishop of Rochester, the Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-ali told a group at the Heritage Foundation that England is daily losing her historic identity. England, the prelate said, is characterized by Common Law and the Christian religion.

Every day, said the Pakistani-born bishop, Britain is giving in to Islamist demands.

Bishop Nazir-ali has been threatened with death for speaking out against Islamism. When asked if muezzins should be permitted to call the Muslim faithful to prayer his English diocese of Rochester, Bishop Nazir-ali, replied: “Yes, of course. As soon as church bells can be rung in Saudi Arabia!”

Ed Miliband would not agree on the importance of a Christian culture. And Leftists here are trying to stamp out all evidences of Christianity from our public life as well.

An example of what Britons call “the looney Left” and a cringing surrender to political correctness is seen in the horrific story of sex trafficking in Rotherham. Columnist Mona Charen spoke to Bill Bennett’s “Morning in America” audience about the horror of Rotherham, England. English girls were trapped by a ring of pedophiles, most of them of Pakistani origin, most of them Muslim. Unwilling to confront this issue, British Labour Party local officials and police abandoned 1400 girls to sexual slavery.

We can expect more, not less, of this if Ed Miliband wins in Britain. Despite the fact that his fled from murderous anti-Semitism, Ed Miliband could be the man who makes it a crime to criticize any practice of Islam. Thus, objection to female genital mutilation, or dishonor killings, or death threats against apostates will be punishable by fines and prison.

For all his academic brilliance, Ed Miliband seems unaware that modern Islamist radicalism traces its origins to the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Egypt in 1928.

Hassan al-Banna rejected the paganism of Germany’s National Socialist Party (NAZI), but he admired their organizational skill and he fully embraced their Judenhass (Jew hatred). We have been concerned about Muslim Brotherhood influence in our own government as well as in Great Britain. President Obama welcomed and gave millions in foreign aid to Egypt’s MB-dominated government in 2011. (Only when it was overthrown by popular demonstrations and Egypt’s military had to step in did Mr. Obama cut off aid to Egypt.)

Britain has no First Amendment—which is a major reason why we do! Still, Britain’s history of free speech and tolerance of dissent will be at risk if Ed Miliband gains the power to impose his austere brand of socialism.

FRC has long noted that Britain legalized abortion and homosexuality before the U.S. did. Labour in Britain also legalized suicide. That is why what happens in Britain doesn’t necessarily stay in Britain. All of these changes started there and came here. With President Obama equally determined to “fundamentally transform” America, a victory for Labour next Friday could give a sense of inevitability to these dangerous trends. May Day, indeed!

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In the Face of ISIS Aggression: Trusting an Unknown Future to A Known God

by Joshua Denton

May 1, 2015

Not more than 24 hours ago ISIS released a shocking new photo that is of an entirely different nature than any previously released.

ISIS has largely waged its war on the West with an eerie online presence, by taping and capturing videos of massacres of Christians, numerous beheadings, burnings, stonings, etc. These images, which once shocked us and filled us with horror, have become almost mundane. We turn our heads and forget because it does not have a direct impact on us. Yet.

Since many Americans have largely closed their eyes to the brutality that defines ISIS, the terrorist group may be trying a new method to strike fear into the hearts of those whom it opposes. 

The picture recently released is of a very young infant sleeping peacefully with a handgun placed on the one side of the child, and a grenade on the other.

It is very tragic to think of the violence and destruction that this child will experience. Undeniably, this child will grow up in an environment surrounded by unspeakable brutality – and never know that there is anything different. Yes, this is heart wrenching to think of.

The intentions of the photo are unmistakable. And their implications should send a shiver down our spine as we sit comfortably in front of our laptops or electronic devices viewing from a safe distance. Clearly, ISIS intended this photo to say “We mean business. We aren’t going away anytime soon. We may die, but our children will follow in our footsteps. The plans we fail to accomplish, those who come behind us will achieve.”

If this isn’t disconcerting to you there is a problem.

Although ISIS undeniably poses a potential threat to our security as a nation, this picture didn’t cause me to advocate for a declared U.S. government disapprobation of ISIS – although that certainly is in order. Instead, this image motivates me to follow the principles of Scripture and be an intergenerational influence for the sake of Jesus Christ. Viewing our service to God in this manner isn’t an option, it’s a command.

My complete and committed life purpose is to be a positive, animated influence on families - inspiring them to motivate others, thereby creating an explosive, multi-generational chain reaction - that encourages individuals to stand strong and courageous for Jesus Christ! 

Eph. 6:12 (KJV) reminds us: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

We will always have adversaries to contest in both the physical and spiritual realms, and we can’t be certain what we may face in the days ahead. But as long as I am faithfully following God and assisting others to do the same, I can have full confidence in what is forthcoming – no matter what the outcome.

Corrie Ten Boom put it so aptly when she said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

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New Annual Report on International Religious Liberty Now Available

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 30, 2015

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), where I served briefly as Acting Director of Communications, has issued its 2015 annual report on religious liberty worldwide.

As noted by Knox Thames, USCIRF’s Director of Policy and Research, “The Commission is an independent U.S. government advisory body separate from the State Department that monitors religious freedom worldwide and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and the Congress.”

Individual country reports are available in English and in the national languages of each country. Thames comments that the Annual Report, released today, “documents religious freedom abuses and violations in 33 countries and makes county-specific policy recommendations for U.S. policy. This report covers the period of January 2014 through January 2015.” He continues that the report:

  • Recommends that the Secretary of State re-designate nine countries as “countries of particular concern,” or CPCs, for egregious religious freedom violations: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan;
  • Recommends that eight additional countries be designated as CPCs: Central African Republic, Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Tajikistan, and Vietnam;
  • Urges increased U.S. government attention to 10 countries placed on USCIRF’s Tier 2: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia, Russia, and Turkey; and
  • Highlights concerns in Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Cyprus, Kyrgyzstan, and Sri Lanka.

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Kentucky Judge Affirms First Amendment

by Travis Weber

April 28, 2015

In an Opinion and Order released yesterday — and a model explanation of what the First Amendment is designed to protect — a Kentucky state court judge explained why a small business owner could not be forced to print a message to which he objected on t-shirts requested by a customer.

Hands on Originals (HOO) is a small business in Kentucky which makes promotional products like hats, shirts, bags, etc., and prints messages on these products for its customers. The business is owned and run by Blaine Adamson and other Christians who want to express their faith as they run their business.

HOO was asked to produce t-shirts for the “Lexington Pride Festival” organized by the GLSO (Gay and Lesbian Services Organization), but the owners had personal objections to promoting the message of the event and preferred not to.

For as the Kentucky court notes, “producing the t-shirts as requested would require HOO to print a t-shirt with the words ‘Lexington Pride Festival’ communicating the message that people should take pride in sexual relationships or sexual activity outside of a marriage between a man and a woman,” and “Adamson has consistently expressed his belief that this activity would disobey God if he were to authorize HOO to print materials expressing that message.”

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The Defense of Marriage and the Right of Religious Freedom: Reaffirming a Shared Witness”

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 28, 2015

In a somewhat unusual alliance, “35 religious leaders representing Catholic, evangelical, Pentecostal, Orthodox and Mormon churches” have issued an “Open Letter … to All in Positions of Public Service” concerning same-sex marriage. As noted by Religion News Service, Imam Faizul Khan of the Islamic Society of Washington Area also signed the letter.

Among the signatories are National Association of Evangelicals president Rev. Dr. Leith Anderson; the Most Rev. Salvatore J. Cordileone; Archbishop of San Francisco; Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison, President of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod; Most Rev. William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore; Dr. Russell Moore, President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; and Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

Here are two excerpts from the document:

The redefinition of legal marriage to include any other type of relationship has serious consequences, especially for religious freedom. It changes every law involving marital status, requiring that other such relationships be treated as if they were the same as the marital relationship of a man and a woman. No person or community, including religious organizations and individuals of faith, should be forced to accept this redefinition …

The well-being of men, women, and the children they conceive compels us to stand for marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We call for the preservation of the unique meaning of marriage in the law, and for renewed respect for religious freedom and for the conscience rights of all in accord with the common good.”

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