FRC Blog

Sixth Circuit Shows Why SOGIs Are a Threat to Religious Freedom

by Travis Weber

March 12, 2018

Last week, in EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the religious freedom claim of a funeral home owner who wanted to run his business in accordance with his faith—and did not want to accede to the “gender identity” discrimination claim of an employee who desired to remain an employee while living out his transgendered lifestyle as he saw fit. The case is still ongoing (the appeals court ordered the case remanded for a lower court to continue sorting out), but there’s a very real possibility that business owner Thomas Rost may now be forced out of the marketplace rather than violate his faith.

This is the first federal court case dealing with a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) claim in the context of a sexual orientation and/or gender identity (SOGI) nondiscrimination claim (the only other such case is the state-level case of print shop owner Blaine Adamson in Kentucky), and SOGI came out the victor. The concerns of those who have warned of the religious freedom threat of SOGIs are validated by this decision.

The Sixth Circuit, in an opinion authored by Judge Karen Moore, got its analysis wrong on several levels. First, the court claimed it was somehow very clear that Title VII sex discrimination prohibitions include “gender identity”—despite the fact that no court considered such a possibility for decades. Even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginburg, writing about the proposed Equal Rights Amendment decades ago, did not take “gender identity” under consideration as she dismissed concerns that sex nondiscrimination provisions could force bathrooms to be opened up to the opposite biological sex. So when the Sixth Circuit says “[n]or can much be gleaned from the fact that … statutes, such as the Violence Against Women Act, expressly prohibit discrimination on the basis of ‘gender identity,’ while Title VII does not,” it isn’t very convincing. If it was so clear, no court would ever have rejected the notion that “gender identity” falls under sex discrimination—yet many have.

The court continued to err when it analyzed the religious freedom issue here. The funeral home relied on RFRA as a defense to the SOGI claim, asserting that a sincere religious belief had been substantially burdened. At that point, the EEOC could only have prevailed if it had a compelling government interest which was accomplished through the least restrictive means.

Judge Moore incredibly (and erroneously) claimed it was not a “substantial burden” on religious exercise to “forc[e] [the Funeral Home] to violate Rost’s faith,” which “would significantly pressure Rost to leave the funeral industry and end his ministry to grieving people.” Yet it is an elementary principle of RFRA analysis to observe there is a substantial burden on someone who is told they must compromise their beliefs in order to retain their job. The court accepted that Rost sincerely believed he should not be “directly involved in supporting the idea that sex is a changeable social construct rather than an immutable God-given gift,” but then summarily dismissed his concern, concluding that “tolerating [his employee’s] understanding of … sex and gender identity is not tantamount to supporting it.”

The court tries to rely on lower federal court adjudications in the HHS mandate contraceptive litigation, claiming that “[m]ost circuits, including this one, have recognized that a party can sincerely believe that he is being coerced into engaging in conduct that violates his religious convictions without actually, as a matter of law, being so engaged.” Yet this second-guessing of religious beliefs has been roundly repudiated by the Supreme Court in Employment Division v. Smith, where the Court observed decades ago that “[r]epeatedly and in many different contexts, we have warned that courts must not presume to determine the place of a particular belief in a religion or the plausibility of a religious claim.” Moreover, despite citing HHS mandate cases from the lower courts, Judge Moore skips over the fact that when the Supreme Court handled those cases on appeal in Zubik v. Burwell, the justices told the parties to come to a resolution while honoring the religious exercise at issue, rather than flatly dismissing the substantial burden on the religious claimants.

After concluding there was no substantial burden on religious exercise, Judge Moore didn’t need to continue her analysis, but did so anyway, offering her view that it was a compelling interest to force the funeral home to accede to the transgendered employee’s demands: “Failing to enforce Title VII against the Funeral Home means the EEOC would be allowing a particular person—Stephens—to suffer discrimination, and such an outcome is directly contrary to the EEOC’s compelling interest in combating discrimination in the workforce.” The court did not want to “hoist automatically Rost’s religious interests above other compelling governmental concerns.” The Sixth Circuit then concluded that uniform enforcement of sex nondiscrimination provisions without religious exceptions was the least restrictive means to accomplish this compelling government interest of eradicating discrimination.

What are we to make of this? Aside from realizing that judges are not exempt from the temptation to arrive at a conclusion and then craft reasoning to help one get there, the court’s opinion shows us that businesses seeking religious freedom protections need to state clearly and regularly their religious nature (though part of a separate ministerial exemption analysis, the court did hold the business’s lack of numerous and overt religious indicia against it).

More relevant for our current religious freedom concerns, this case shows the inability of RFRA to adjudicate modern religious freedom disputes with certainty, as the statute allows judges the leeway to craft conclusions of their own liking, an even bigger danger when issues of sexuality—on which they want to be on the “right side of history”—are involved in the case.

Finally, and perhaps most significantly, this opinion demonstrates that when RFRA and SOGI claims intersect, the SOGI claims will likely win (and will almost certainly win in the hands of judges under social and cultural pressure to reach a certain result), thus vindicating many who have claimed that SOGI laws themselves are a threat to religious freedom.

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Women Speak: A Panel Discussion on Real Issues that Women Face Today

by Family Research Council

March 9, 2018

In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8th, FRC hosted a panel discussion with women staffers to discuss a variety of issues that women face today.

In a wide-ranging and animated conversation, topics included how the modern feminist agenda intentionally excludes conservative women, the trials and joys of being a stay-at-home mom, the challenges and opportunities of being a working mom, the value of flexibility in workplace policies, the role that husbands have in empowering and enabling their wives to achieve their goals, how the #MeToo movement has exposed ugly realities about the dynamics of power and a Hollywood culture of self-indulgence, and more.

Some fascinating questions are explored here. Can women have it all—both at home and at work? Is personal identity more important than ideals? Can society expect men to treat women with respect when the reality of biological sex itself is being challenged? How can the conservative movement and Christian ministry do more to give women opportunities to succeed and to lead? Don’t miss this enlightening and candid discussion.

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She Persisted: Star Parker’s Mission to End Abortion

by Family Research Council

March 8, 2018

March is Women’s History Month, and this year’s theme is “Nevertheless, She Persisted.” One shining example of this fortitude is Star Parker. FRC recently spoke with the Founder and President of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE), who stood strong in the face of a personal attack by Rep. Stephen Cohen (D-Tenn.) during a congressional Subcommittee hearing on the pro-life “Heartbeat Bill” last November that went viral.

Star spoke about her experience of breaking free from a life of crime, drugs, reckless sexual activity, and abortion through God’s help, and how it inspired her to share her experience with others and to start CURE in order to work for pro-life, pro-family public policies in the places that need it most: underprivileged urban areas that suffer not just from economic poverty but also suffer from spiritual poverty.

As Star said, “All of the economic problems in our society today connect to abortion.” That’s why her organization CURE is focused on ending abortion through three primary strategies: a clergy program to help educate pastors so they can in turn educate their congregations about abortion, a policy center that works to change abortion law, and a media center to get the pro-life message out. View the Facebook Live video of her chat with FRC’s Patrina Mosely to learn more about CURE’s mission.

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Gentle Strength: Why I’m Not a Feminist

by Cassidy Rich

March 6, 2018

The feminist movement is in full swing and nothing seems to be stopping it. Women are breaking away from the “chains” of oppression and showing the world what they can do. In a slew of my college classes I heard young women talk about how they do not want to be controlled by a man or submit to their husband. Being strong, independent, and successful in the corporate world seems to be what defines women today. Interning in Washington, D.C. and personally witnessing the Women’s March made me realize this in ways I didn’t want to. Thousands of women (and even some men) walked the streets of our nation’s capital holding vulgar and obscene posters that supposedly showed strength and independence, but instead made my stomach turn while also saddening my heart.

With all the gender equality lingo being thrown around these days, I was surprised to hear a girl in my Women’s History class say, “I know that some women look down upon this, but I want to be a stay-at-home mom.” Hearing those words come out of her mouth with such conviction was a breath of fresh air. So often, women want to define themselves by showing how they can do just as good of a job as men, if not better. But what if women were designed to do what men cannot do in order to complement one another and bring glory to God? What if women were created to do something different and special that men do not even have the ability to do? What if all women need to do to show their greatness is embrace the role God gave them, even if society may look down on it?

So what does God say about the role of women? Ephesians 5:22 says, “For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” We must recognize that this verse is often taken out of context, and feminists use it as a way to bash the Bible. They seem to think that this verse says they shouldn’t stand up for themselves and have to do whatever their husband demands. This passage is actually much more nuanced than that, for the following verses instruct husbands to love their wives “just as Christ loved the Church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.” Accordingly, God holds men specifically to this standard, as He is instructing husbands to love their wives perfectly just as His love is flawless. Obviously, this is impossible because we are sinful human beings who will never, ever be able to do anything perfectly. God says that He wants husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church because that is what He wants husbands to strive towards. God gave husbands a target to aim at so they know what God expects of them. Women who are married to godly, righteous men willingly submit to their husbands because they know that their husbands love them well, treat them with respect, and honor them. My dad is the most wonderful example of this kind of love.

I’m not a feminist and I don’t plan on ever becoming one. I believe women should have the right to an education and the freedom to pursue their dreams, but I don’t agree with women demeaning men, not taking responsibility for their actions, and trying to show how they can do a man’s job for no other reason than to cut men down. God created men and women equally and doesn’t look at one gender more favorably than the other, but God created men to be the head of the family. My dad demonstrated this beautifully during my younger years and continues to do so to this day. He leads my family with the gentle strength that God talks about in Ephesians 5. My dad loves my mom as Christ loves the church because he listens to my mom’s opinions, suggestions, and ideas and takes them into consideration. He tirelessly serves my family to make sure we have everything we need, and then some. He is not perfect by any means, but this is one of the things I love most about my dad. He admits when he is wrong, asks for forgiveness, and strives to do better. As I heard more about feminism in my college years, I thought for a while as to why I didn’t subscribe to what I was hearing. When I came home from class one day, it suddenly dawned on me.

I am not a feminist because my dad plays his God-given role as a husband and father. My father shows me unconditional love, supports me in pursuing my dreams, and tells me when he thinks one of my ideas is simply a bad idea. When I was younger and incredibly stubborn, my dad constantly reminded me to submit to his and my mom’s authority. I didn’t want to because I thought my parents were dumb and oblivious, but now that I’m an adult I realize that my dad was trying to prepare me to make my faith my own and submit to God. Through my dad’s loving authority and gentle strength, God showed me that submitting to His authority results in a fulfilled life. It’s not an easy life and there are plenty of days when I don’t want to submit to God’s authority because it’s not what I want. I have to remind myself that it’s not about me, but instead it’s all about Him and His glory.

In this fallen world there is unfairness, and we may wonder why God has allowed things to be a certain way. But if we had all the answers, we wouldn’t need Him. He created us to reflect His glory and He has a plan that is truly greater than anything we can imagine. By following in His gentle strength I know I am loved, cared for, wanted, and accepted. That’s what women in the feminist movement desire, anyway. They are trying to find acceptance and equality but are searching down all the wrong avenues. As Katy Perry sang in her “Unconditionally” song: “Acceptance is the key to be, to be truly free….” It’s by surrendering to Christ that we find true acceptance and freedom, for He is the restorer of all things and is the standard of gentle strength.

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Remarks by Tony Perkins at the 2018 NRB Convention

by Tony Perkins

March 1, 2018

The following are prepared remarks by Tony Perkins at the National Religious Broadcasters 75th Annual Convention on March 1, 2018.

Winston Churchill once said, “During their lifetimes, every man and woman will stumble across a great opportunity. Sadly, most of them will simply pick themselves up, dust themselves down and carry on as if nothing ever happened.”

The apostle Paul spoke to the issue of opportunity in his letter to the Ephesians when he wrote in chapter 5: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil.”

Now, if Paul had grown up in this country, he might have told the Ephesians “Make hay while the sun is shining.”

The sun is shining right now in American when it comes to our First Amendment freedoms. We need to be wise and act quickly, not only using these freedoms to spread the good news, but also to put in place policies that will protect and promote these essential freedoms, not just for ourselves but those yearning for freedom around the globe and generations yet unborn. 

Some of our brethren remain skeptical or indifferent about our engagement in the political process. Don’t be foolish. Elections have consequences, many far-reaching as we continue to see from the years of President Obama.

But we also see the consequences of the election of Donald Trump and Mike Pence. 

Let me put it in a format that many who track this administration are accustomed to – I’ll put it in the form of a tweet:

President Trump has:

  • Appointed Excellent Judges like Neil Gorsuch
  • Enacted Unparalleled pro-life policies;
  • Cut taxes & is Growing our economy

President Trump is:

  • Restoring religious freedom
  • Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem
  • Rebuilding our military

This is happening because many of you in this room used your influence and your platforms to communicate what was at stake in the last election. I believe America dodged not a bullet in the 2016 election, but a political and cultural H-bomb.

Evangelicals, especially the subset that George Barna calls SAGE Cons—Spiritually Active Governmentally Engaged Conservatives (many of your listeners and viewers)—turned out in record-setting numbers and were unified. Ninety-one percent of SAGE Cons representing 20 million U.S. adults voted, and 94 percent of them voted for Donald Trump.

By the way, almost every time I see the president I don’t have to remind him that evangelicals were the margin for his victory—he reminds me that evangelicals voted for him and they love him!

And by the way, in post-election polling, 59 percent said they voted for the Trump/Pence ticket based on the GOP platform’s position on life and religious liberty. This is important. Despite what the media would say, evangelical voters are sophisticated.  They were able to separate personality from policy.

Evangelicals understood what was at stake and voted.

But the election was not the end of our responsibility, but rather the beginning of our opportunity.

First by acting upon it, but also preserving it.

We need to preserve it by communicating to those who look to and listen to us about what is really happening. We have to counter the narrative of the Fake News—which is real. I’ve been in conversations and meetings with this administration, which somehow got into the media based on their sources which were not only inaccurate but if I didn’t know better, I would think there were intentionally misleading.

Because of the importance of the evangelical voter, there is an intense effort on the Left to suppress their turnout in the upcoming elections, by dampening the enthusiasm of conservative voters. If they succeed and your listeners and viewers get discouraged and stay home in the midterm election, the reform is over. The restoration of religious freedom and the freedom of speech will end.

Nancy Pelosi needs just 24 seats to switch from Republican to Democrat to retake the gavel of the House. In every midterm election since the Civil War, the president’s party has lost, on average, 32 seats in the House and two in the Senate. There are more than 40 Republicans that have and will announce that they are retiring. 

If conservatives and in particular evangelical voters do not turn out, it will happen, and one of the first orders of business will be the impeachment of President Trump. They most likely will not succeed in removing him from office, but they will most likely succeed in stopping what this administration is doing.

What are they doing? The Trump administration is not just enacting conservative policies in line with the Constitution. President Trump is the first Republican President to not just stop the liberal policies of his predecessor; he is dismantling, slowly, but dismantling none-the-less parts of the framework of big, liberal government which has been expanded with the election of each Democratic administration since FDR

That is why the Left is unhinged. They won’t be able to jump back in the driver’s seat of big government and restart their programs, they will have to rebuild, and that will take time, especially if they don’t have the courts to help them in their activism. This is why every judicial confirmation is a fight.

We have to act upon the opportunity that we have, to fortify our freedoms, to ensure government does not again try to quarantine our Christian faith within the walls of our churches. A lot has been done, but there is still plenty to do:

  • The Johnson Amendment has to be totally eliminated.
  • The forced partnership between taxpayers and Planned Parenthood must be ended.
  • Patient-centered healthcare must be restored and,
  • God must be welcomed back into our public life.

The president ran and has governed by the theme “Making America Great Again.” But America will only be great again when it has become good again, and that is not government’s mission, but ours, followers of Jesus Christ.    

Benjamin Franklin said, “History will also afford frequent opportunities of showing the necessity of a public religion, from its usefulness to the public; the advantage of a religious character among private persons; the mischiefs of superstition, and the excellency of the Christian religion above all others, ancient or modern.” 

Let’s be wise and make the best use of this moment in time, this opportunity.

In the wake of the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida, there is a national discussion about how to protect our children in their classrooms. The focus has been on the instruments of destruction. We continue in a defensive posture with almost every school in America now having active shooter drills. 

In some ways, it is reminiscent of their grandparent’s generation that had duck and cover drills in their classrooms as Americans feared a nuclear attack from Russia in the 1950s.

While that threat was external, and today’s is internal, might we learn from how they responded?

In February of 1954, Reverend George M. Docherty, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., delivered a sermon on the subject of the pledge of allegiance, with President Eisenhower sitting in the front pew. The sermon was about the absence of the words “Under God” in our pledge. America was at the height of the Cold War with Russia, and a bold declaration was needed to show that there was a difference between America and the atheistic communists.

Three days after that sermon, a bill was introduced in Congress to add the words “under God.”

And on Flag Day, June 14, 1954, Eisenhower signed the bill into law, saying, “From this day forward, millions of school children will daily proclaim the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty.”

America will not be great again until it is good again, and that means America must once again not only acknowledge but live as one nation under God. 

Let us redeem the time.

Let us make the most of this moment.

Let us seize this opportunity!

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Social Conservative Review - March 1, 2018

by Daniel Hart

March 1, 2018

Dear Friends,

FRC recently published a pivotal brochure, “How to Respond to the LGBT Movement” by Peter Sprigg. In this timely publication, Peter lays out the empirical evidence that refutes seven common claims made by homosexual activists and eight common claims made by transgender activists. As he notes, the claims that LGBT activists make have become a paradigm of assumptions that declare “that for someone to believe that heterosexuality is preferable to homosexuality is equivalent to believing that one race is superior to another, and therefore represents a form of bigotry and even ‘hate’ toward individuals who identify as homosexual.”

The problem with making this claim is that it is based on the assumption that sexual orientation is in fact “inborn.” As this brochure makes clear, this assumption is empirically false based on observable human behavior and scientific evidence. Therefore, it is fundamentally dishonest and counterproductive to label social conservatives as “bigots” based on this assumption because social conservatives do not accept the faulty premises of this argument.

Perhaps the most important idea that this publication conveys is this: in the cultural battles that continue to be fought around LGBT issues, social conservatives “ha[ve] consistently said that they love their neighbor; and ha[ve] consistently pursued policies which they sincerely believe will preserve the life and health and improve the well-being of those involved.”

The brochure concludes with this stirring thought: “If anything should be clear from the information shared here, it is that there are legitimate grounds for debate on the origin, nature, and consequences of both homosexuality and gender dysphoria. Let all people of goodwill—regardless of their politics, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity—agree that the debate should continue, with a respect for honest research and for the freedom of thought, speech, and religion.”

Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.

Sincerely,

Dan Hart
Managing Editor for Publications
Family Research Council

 

FRC Articles

Billy Graham — faithful to the end and still leading us behind him – Tony Perkins

Billy Graham’s Legacy — Faith Looming Large in Public Life – Travis Weber

Despite Leftist Outcry, Americans Don’t Want Federally Funded Pornographic Sex Ed – Kelly Marcum

Democrats have moved far to the nation’s left on abortion – Ken Blackwell

Receiving the Love That We Need: How to Find Healing from Past Wounds

Andrew Sullivan on Opioids: Pointing Us Toward God – Travis Weber

Thank you, Billy Graham – Patrina Mosley

Billy Graham’s Stand on Religious Liberty, Life, and Marriage and Family

How Billy Graham’s Invitation Forever Changed My Life – Peter Sprigg

#MeToo Ignores an Obvious Source of Sexual Aggression: Porn – David Krayden

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

New HHS office that enforces health workers’ religious rights received 300 complaints in a month – Jessie Hellmann, The Hill

Parents Battle Court to Stop Transgender Teen’s Hormone Treatment – Grace Carr, The Daily Signal

Forced To Resign For Her Faith, This Magistrate Sued The State And Won – Bre Payton, The Federalist

Illinois nurse fights firing over pro-life views – Bonnie Pritchett, WORLD

YouTube Secretly Using SPLC To Police Videos – Peter Hasson, The Daily Caller

Wheaton’s Win Over The Contraceptive Mandate Is A Huge Step Forward For Religious Freedom – Nicole Fisher, The Federalist

University Re-Invites Christian Speaker Who Triggered LGBT Students – ToddStarnes.com

When a University Group Rescinds Freedom of Speech – Ken Ham, The Christian Post

Florida House bill requires schools to display ‘In God We Trust‘ – Kevin Tampone, Syracuse.com

Religious Liberty Is a Powerful Anti-Gang Weapon – Noel Sterett, Alliance Defending Freedom

International Religious Freedom

A suspicious and sudden death in China – Mindy Belz, WORLD

Why Don’t We Care About the Slaughter of Nigerian Christians? – Michael Brown, The Stream

Abandoned by the U.S., Syrian Christians and Kurds Seek Help from Pro-Iran Militias – John Zmirak, The Stream

ERLC religious freedom advocacy encouraged by major court decision in Malaysia – Palmer Williams, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Attacks Against India’s Christians Doubled in 2017 – National Catholic Register

Praying for the persecuted church: Jordan – Chase Stevens, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

 

Life

Abortion

Good luck explaining your abortion vote high-fives to your constituents, senators – Ashley McGuire, USA Today

Incredible Surgery in the Womb Corrects Baby’s Spina Bifida After Her Parents Reject Abortion – Micaiah Bilger, LifeNews

Why an unwanted pregnancy is about the baby and the father, too – Garrett Kell, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Dishonoring the Dead: Moral and Constitutional Considerations on Fetal Disposition – Deirdre Cooper and Kody W. Cooper, Public Discourse

The Ostrich Defense of Abortion – Christopher Kaczor, Public Discourse

California Students Are Fighting to Keep Abortion Pills Off Their Campus – Grace Carr, The Daily Signal

Vice President Mike Pence: ‘Abortion Will End in Our Time’ – Amy Furr, Townhall

Adoption

Bipartisan effort to fix Kentucky’s troubled adoption and foster care system moves forward – Deborah Yetter, Louisville Courier Journal

Bioethics

Pro-lifers dismayed over Oregon starvation bill’s return – Samantha Gobba, WORLD

How would you counsel someone interested in assisted suicide? – Matthew Arbo, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Scientists Make Human-Animal Hybrids That are Part Animal and Part Human Being – Wesley Smith, LifeNews

British Judge Allows Toddler’s Life Support Switched Off, Despite Parents’ WishesNational Catholic Register

 

Family

Economics/Education

Does God Care Where You Go to College? – D. Michael Lindsay, The Gospel Coalition

Research Keeps Showing This Kind Of Teaching Is Very Effective. So Why Won’t Schools Use It? – Joy Pullmann, The Federalist

How to Raise Devoted Catholic Kids When They Attend Public School – Sabrina Arena Ferrisi, National Catholic Register

Marriage

Billy Graham’s Incredible Ministry … and His Incredible Marriage – Dave Boehi, Family Life

A Man’s Place Is in the Home – Trevin Wax, The Gospel Coalition

Build Your Marriage on the Beatitudes – Austin Bonds, Relevant

A Photographer Asked 20 Couples For The Secret To A Long Marriage – Brittany Wong, HuffPost

CDC: U.S. Fertility Rate Below Replacement for 9th Straight Year – Terence P. Jeffrey, CNS News

Faith/Character/Culture

How Do I Know If I Really Love Jesus? – Jon Bloom, Desiring God

The desperate cry of America’s boys – Suzanne Venker, Fox News

The Death of an Evangelical Titan – Bishop Robert Barron, Word On Fire

A Better Mom Is a Broken Mom – Kristen Wetherell, Desiring God

The Joy of an Unaccomplished Life – Chad Bird, The Gospel Coalition

It takes a village’: 3 P.E.I. grandmothers help exhausted mom care for triplets – Pat Martel, CBC News

Villains and Heroes Among So Much Tragedy – Jared Zimmerer, Word On Fire

The Hard Truth About Mr. Right – Joy Beth Smith, Christianity Today

Longing for likes: How to capture the hearts of Gen Z with a greater love – Jared Kennedy, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Human Sexuality

Why Transgenderism Threatens Parental Rights – Joe Carter, The Gospel Coalition

Too Much Netflix, Not Enough Chill: Why Young Americans Are Having Less Sex – W. Bradford Wilcox and Samuel Sturgeon, Politico

Sexual Exploitation in the Sports Industry: An Abuse of Power – Mary Urie, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Pressing Pause on the “Transgender Moment”: Ryan T. Anderson’s When Harry Became Sally – Matthew J. Franck, Public Discourse

Transgender Activists Conduct ‘Giant Experiment’ on Children, Author Says – Kyle Perisic, The Daily Signal

Human Trafficking

House passes anti-sex trafficking bill in defeat for tech industry – Steven Overly and Ashley Gold, Politico

The Combined Crisis of Online Sex Trafficking and Pornography – Patrick A. Trueman, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Shining A Light On Slavery: Who Are Sex Traffickers, And Why Do They Exploit Other Humans? – Fight the New Drug

Pornography

Pornography Addicts Might Be Avoiding True Intimacy – Michelle Habel, Focus on the Family

In the massive global scourge that is pornography, men are not the only addicts – Jamie Dean, WORLD

Florida declares pornography a ‘public health risk’ – Lisa Bourne, LifeSiteNews

Is Reading Erotica As Harmful As Watching Porn? – Fight the New Drug

Porn’s “Butterfly Effect”: A New Podcast Exposes Porn’s Unexpected Consequences – Mary Rose Somarriba, Family Studies

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Receiving the Love That We Need: How to Find Healing from Past Wounds

by Family Research Council

February 28, 2018

The following is based on a talk given by a priest who works with married and engaged couples in the Archdiocese of Washington.

When we find ourselves frustrated with our own shortcomings and how they are affecting our loved ones, we often think we know what we need to change about ourselves, but the Lord usually has other plans. There are deeper wounds he wants to get to first because they are much more serious.

One example of this in Scripture is the men who bring the paralytic to Jesus in Mark’s Gospel. They think they know what needs to be healed in the man—his paralysis. But the first thing Jesus says to the paralyzed man is: “Your sins are forgiven.” Jesus knows that the interior wounds the man has are the first things that need to be healed, because they are preventing him from receiving Christ’s divine life and entering into his eternal reward.

Just as a doctor needs to check a patient’s symptoms to diagnose the problem, so to do interior wounds need to be diagnosed to figure out the source of our unhappiness.

A lot of the spiritual wounds we have come from our mother and father. Whether they intended to or not, our parents most likely did things that negatively affected us and can remain with us the rest or our lives. For example, if your parents are perfectionists, this can affect your self-esteem because you may think that nothing you do will ever be good enough. If you’ve been abandoned by them or have felt like they have abandoned you, you will most likely be especially anxious when you feel like someone is abandoning you or not tending to your needs later in life. If you have been abused by a family member in any way, this could affect your ability to be intimate with a loved one later in life, both physically and emotionally. All of these things can leave lasting wounds that can bubble up in other ways later in life if they are not dealt with properly.

To Find Healing, Focus on Causes, Not Symptoms

If we still carry some lingering resentment from something that was said or done to us when we were younger, this can affect how we treat our spouse and children.

If we get angry or impatient easily or find it difficult to forgive, it’s important to ask: why? Why do we feel this way? God doesn’t make us this way. God doesn’t create us to be angry, bitter, resentful, etc. It is obvious that part of the reason is the effects of sin, but part of it is also what has been done to us. Wounds from the past still affect us today. People often say that they get impatient or angry easily—this could very well be from a sensitivity to something from the past that has not been healed. It’s akin to having a cut on your arm—if pressure is applied to it, you will probably howl with pain.

These kind of wounds are often passed down from generation to generation. What are some negative memories of your mom or dad? How did it make you feel? Have you forgiven them? Is there still resentment because of that experience or something else? How has that wound affected your marriage or your parenting? Are there other wounds from your past that affect how you treat your spouse or your children? Have you ever spoken about this with your spouse?

Two of the greatest sources of tension in marriage are bad communication and unmet expectations. Consider if there is any resentment in your marriage about anything. This is a door that the devil uses to get in to destroy marriages and bring division.

So how do we find healing? We first need to bring everything to the Lord with complete honesty, bluntness, and even tears, and this is perfectly okay. Jesus is the healer of all our wounds. He is the one who has created us, so he knows what we need at the deepest level.

Some of you may find this difficult if you believe that God the Father is a judgmental, perfectionistic, hard-driving father. If this is the case, you’ll never want to be near him. If you’ve felt like you’ve never been loved by your dad, for example, it will be much harder for you to experience the love of our Heavenly Father.

It is best not to focus on the symptoms of a wound but instead to focus on the cause of them. It does no good to try and bury them further and say, “It’s in the past; it will go away.” This doesn’t work—it will only make the wound worse because then we aren’t getting to the root of the problem. Covering a wound up with bandages may stop the bleeding, but it doesn’t mean the underlying problem is healed.

Talking About the Past Is Painful, but Necessary

Explicitly forgiving our parents (or any other family member) for hurting us and telling them how we feel is very difficult, but it is also very necessary. It’s important to remember that forgiving our loved ones does not depend on them—it is an act on our part of freedom. If we don’t forgive somebody who has hurt us, it’s like carrying a heavy object around with us wherever we go, and it will affect everything we do—resentment must simply be let go of. It’s important to formally renounce resentment and unforgiveness through prayer.

When addressing past wounds with your parents, keep in mind that it will probably not be helpful to immediately overwhelm them with all the things you felt you were wronged by in childhood. Act with prudence in bringing up this sensitive topic. If you specifically address this in prayer beforehand, the Lord will show you if there is something that really needs to be addressed personally with your parents. If you don’t feel comfortable at first, you may gradually sense the freedom that you want to have (that you don’t have at the moment) to be able to talk about a wound with them in the future.

As for your own children, don’t let yourself become overly worried about how your wounds are affecting them. Most people, especially kids, have the ability to forgive you for a wrong you may have done, especially if you ask for forgiveness soon after the incident occurred. This kind of conscientious approach will go a long way toward insuring that our shortcomings will not affect our family with any regularity.

God Sees Us As We Are: His Infinitely Lovable Children

It is vitally important to renounce the lies that we often hear in our heads—“you’re not good enough, strong enough, pretty enough, smart enough, hardworking enough,” etc. They’re all lies from the devil, who is the father of lies. That’s a way the devil uses to get into our lives. When we accept and believe the lie, then the devil has a foothold.

We must renounce these lies because God did not create junk. God created us to be infinitely lovable and extraordinary. That’s how we are in his eyes. That’s how he sees us right now. It’s like how we look at our children. We know they are not perfect, but we nevertheless look at them with great love and love them as they are. God loves us into being where we need to be.

Think of the woman at the well in John’s Gospel who had five husbands who didn’t love her—that doesn’t say anything about her worth. Jesus responded to her with patience and love, showing to her her true worth in his eyes. We have to agree that we are who God says we are and not as other people try to define us as being.

Receiving the Love That We Need

Getting good spiritual direction from a trusted pastor or priest is key to finding healing. Please note that this should not be seen as a substitute for getting counseling/psychological help, if necessary. We must remember that any wound takes time to heal.

Our spouses play a key role in healing as well. Hearing a kind word from our spouses—something from the heart that isn’t flattery or said to get something—can be very healing. At the same time, it’s vital to have permission to be direct (in a loving way) with your spouse if there is an issue in the relationship that needs to be addressed.

What all of this really boils down to is receiving the love that we need. Never take that for granted—the need we all have to hear something good about ourselves. Jesus has plenty of good things to say if we go to him in prayer—give the Lord the chance to tell you what he thinks. When we have the courage to take off the bandages and ask the Lord’s help to see what’s there (with the help of a spiritual director/counselor if necessary), prudently but candidly discuss what we find with our families, and offer forgiveness where needed, the Divine Physician will reward our efforts by healing even our deepest wounds.

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Andrew Sullivan on Opioids: Pointing Us Toward God

by Travis Weber

February 23, 2018

Andrew Sullivan wrote a lengthy and illuminating piece recently digging deeper into the opioid crisis, in part by examining the attraction of the drug itself. One interesting aspect of the article was his observation about why opioids have been such a draw through the ages—they help us escape from pain, from reality. As Sullivan notes, if we simply attack the symptoms on the surface, we are missing a “deeper American story. It is a story of pain and the search for an end to it.”

For millennia, humans have searched for answers to life and the difficulty it brings. Some of these answers have involved God, and others have not. It is certainly clear that right now, America’s families have been hit hard by the opioid crisis.

Yet while we need to go to God, we often don’t, and we reject his advances. Like God trying to rescue us, the police officers trying to rescue the addict by administering antidotes “are hated,” for “[t]hey ruined the high.”

Marx’s claim that religion is the “opiate of the people” is old-hat. As Sullivan points out: “Opiates are now the religion of the people.”

We must go to God in our pain, not try to escape it by our own means—whether through opioids or otherwise. It must be said that prescription opioids (along with other pain management tools) can be used properly (like for the alleviation of chronic severe pain) alongside going to God in our pain.

Near the end of the piece, Sullivan again observes:

To see this epidemic as simply a pharmaceutical or chemically addictive problem is to miss something: the despair that currently makes so many want to fly away. Opioids are just one of the ways Americans are trying to cope with an inhuman new world where everything is flat, where communication is virtual, and where those core elements of human happiness — faith, family, community — seem to elude so many. Until we resolve these deeper social, cultural, and psychological problems, until we discover a new meaning or reimagine our old religion or reinvent our way of life, the poppy will flourish.

Indeed, in searching for “new meaning,” I believe Sullivan is yearning for God here, and I would point him toward the Good News: Though we have all strayed from and are separated from God (and part of this separation is pain), Jesus has paid the price for us to be restored to God. We just must accept him, choose to follow him, and submit our lives to him. This restoration then becomes our new eternal reality, even if we don’t see all its benefits immediately.

Sullivan continues:

We have seen this story before — in America and elsewhere. The allure of opiates’ joys are filling a hole in the human heart and soul today as they have since the dawn of civilization.

I would agree with this diagnosis, but only add that the medicine involves a spiritual element, most specifically the Good News discussed above. This is something Billy Graham, who recently passed away, would want us to remember. While the issue in all its facets is undoubtedly complex, it is clear that we must not neglect the spiritual aspect of the cure.

We as a nation need God, and need him publicly. Graham’s recent passing also reminds us of that. Let us remind ourselves again, and let us not forget it.

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Thank you, Billy Graham

by Patrina Mosley

February 22, 2018

I was young in the faith when I first saw Billy Graham on TV during one of his Crusade gatherings. I could tell it was an older clip because the colors were fuzzy and it seemed like everyone was wearing costumes… because no one wore clothes like that anymore.  As a newly maturing believer, I marveled at the fact that this man seemed to dedicate his life to preaching one single message: “That Jesus Christ came, he died on a cross, he rose again, and he asked us to repent of our sins and receive him by faith as Lord and Savior, and if we do, we have forgiveness of all of our sins.” 

You would think that would get old, right? How could one man preach the same message over and over again all over the country and continue to get people to actually respond? And in fact they did respond—in droves. You would think that if it were a big and charismatic personality out front with a trendy haircut, mellow on the sin, light on the scriptures, and heavy on the froth of entertainment, then maybe it would be easy to see how someone might get caught up in the moment and just want to maximize it to the fullest and think, “Nothing is stopping me from getting inches away from the coolest preacher I ever heard! Yeah!” But that wasn’t the case. It didn’t seem like there was anything particularly fancy about his message or appearance that would compel one to get out of their seat and inconvenience the many people in their row, then walk across a stadium before thousands to say a prayer.

I just didn’t get it. The picture of this looked so foolish that it convinced me it had to be the power of God at work—to pack stadiums across the country and the world full of people who were willing to hear a simple message, a message one could easily get at just about any Bible-teaching corner church in America, and yet hundreds of thousands of people came and gave their hearts to Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

As I got older and matured in my faith, I realized for myself the power of the Gospel in a personal way. I knew what my life could’ve been had I not given it to him at such an early age, and I knew what my peers’ lives were like who had not made that eternal decision yet. My heart was burdened for them. I longed for my friends and classmates to know the Lord as I did and to go through life being able to start over and know that the God of all creation was with them.

As my senior year of high school approached, we had to do a project on our future career, suffice to say it was not on what I’m doing now (hint: don’t plan your whole life in high school—it’s guaranteed to change), but I knew in my heart that whatever I was going to do I would use it as a tool for evangelism. At the time, I did not know what role the Lord would have for me, but I knew that I better get acquainted with evangelism, and who best to teach someone about that than the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. I heard they were coming to my hometown in 2006, and at the time it was Billy Graham’s son Franklin who was leading the efforts. I along with my mom decided to volunteer for the crusade coming to town, and I had the opportunity to participate in some pretty cool things and even got to share my testimony on video for their youth night.

Billy Graham’s life and ministry illustrated to me that it was truly the power of God that brings salvation and that he has no problem using people who we might consider the weak or the foolish of this world to confound the wise and do great and mighty things through them. Because of Billy Graham, I could see for myself that it was possible for God to take an ordinary existence mixed with humble faithfulness and cause supernatural results. I wasn’t sure where my life was going during that senior year, but I learned that I wanted it to be dedicated to the simple message “that Jesus Christ came, he died on a cross, he rose again, and he asked us to repent of our sins and receive him by faith as Lord and Savior, and if we do, we have forgiveness of all of our sins.” Thank you, Billy Graham.

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Billy Graham’s Stand on Religious Liberty, Life, and Marriage and Family

by Family Research Council

February 21, 2018

Over the course of his 58 years in public ministry and well into his retirement years, Dr. Billy Graham, “America’s Pastor,” did not hesitate to stand up for religious liberty, life, and marriage and family.

Religious Liberty

  • In the founding era of our country, it was not organized religion but personal faith that brought focus and unified the early leadership—maybe an unspoken faith in God, and certain values that came with that faith. So in that sense, we cannot discount, in my judgment, religious faith in politics.” (Newsweek – Aug. 13, 2006)
  • Americans have always fought for freedom. This is why America was founded — to worship the one true God openly with no fear of tyranny. Our early fathers led our nation according to Biblical principles … Our country is turning away from what has made it so great, but far greater than the government knowing our every move that could lead to losing our freedom to worship God publicly, is to know that God knows our every thought; He knows our hearts need transformation.” (Newsmax – Oct. 5, 2013)

Life

  • I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life…” (Los Angeles Times – Oct. 21, 2012)

Marriage and Family

  • I believe the home and marriage is the foundation of our society and must be protected… The Bible is clear—God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman.” (USA Today – May 3, 2012)
  • The greatest career is being a mother … And if you’re interviewed sometime on television or Phil Donahue, say ‘I’m a housewife and a mother’ and be proud of it.” (The Oklahoman – Oct. 27, 1983)

  • Many people enter into a marriage without realizing this is for keeps. It’s to be permanent. The tension is normal, but it can result in strength if you take those [problems] to God.” (The Oklahoman – Oct. 27, 1983)

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