Author archives: Family Research Council

World Congress of Families Seeks to Strengthen the Family Unit

by Family Research Council

September 26, 2018

Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at Family Research Council, was a speaker at the latest meeting of the World Congress of Families (WCF), held September 14-16 in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. Formerly part of the Soviet Union, Moldova is located between Romania and Ukraine. Peter’s talk described “Five Myths About ‘Gender Identity’” as part of a panel discussion on “Gender Ideology—The Latest Attack on the Family and the Legal Challenges It Poses.”

The “Gender Ideology” panel was moderated by Patrick Byrne, President of the National Civil Council in Australia, who is also author of a new book, Transgender: One Shade of Grey. The panel included Stephen Baskerville, a professor at Patrick Henry College who is the author of The New Politics of Sex: The Sexual Revolution, Civil Liberties, and the Growth of Governmental Power. Former FRC Fellows Pat Fagan and Allan Carlson (founder of the World Congress of Families) were also among the speakers in Moldova.

FRC renewed its formal partnership with the WCF this year, and Peter has attended all but one of the World Congress events since 2004, speaking in Mexico City (2004) and Salt Lake City (2015).

The event had the active support of the President of Moldova, Igor Dodon (pictured), and Moldovan First Lady Galina Dodon’s charitable foundation “Din Suflet” (From the Soul). President Dodon spoke at the opening and closing ceremonies (despite having survived a rollover car accident just days earlier, after a truck swerved into his motorcade). Dodon declared at the opening session:

[T]he philosophy aimed at strengthening the institution of the family and based on the priority of traditional family values should become an alternative to the actively propagated anti-family ideology. Our motto is: “Every child should be brought up only in a family”. A family should only be regarded as an alliance between a man and a woman, a father and a mother.

Moldova’s Constitution includes reference to the family, with Article 48 stating:

The family shall be founded on a freely consented marriage between a husband and wife, on their full equality in rights and the parents’ right and obligation to ensure their children’s upbringing, education and training.

Dodon also expressed concern over demographic trends in his country, noting, “Over the past 27 years – the years of independence – we have lost up to one third of our population for various reasons.” He warned that if current trends continue, Moldova may lose another third of its population within the next 20 years. For this reason, he has supported policies such as paying subsidies to families that have four or more children. Dodon also officially declared 2019 to be “The Year of the Family” in Moldova.

The theme of the Congress was “The Natural Family: Uniting East and West.” Most of the residents of the former Soviet bloc hold conservative views on social issues, and the last three WCF gatherings have been held in Eastern Europe: in Tbilisi, Georgia in 2016; Budapest, Hungary in 2017; and in Moldova this year.

The World Congress of Families is also significant in bringing together the three main branches of Christianity: Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox. An elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) also spoke at the event. Moldova is predominantly Orthodox, and representatives of both the Moldovan Orthodox Church and Russian Orthodox Church participated in the event. Many participants, including Peter, attended worship Sunday morning at the Central Orthodox Cathedral in Chisinau, along with President Dodon.

At the closing ceremonies for this year’s Congress, Brian Brown, President of the International Organization for the Family (IOF), which organizes the WCF, announced that the next World Congress of Families will be held in Verona, Italy from March 29-31, 2019.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Should Not Fund “Gender Alterations”

by Family Research Council

September 13, 2018

Family Research Council has submitted public comments urging the Department of Veterans Affairs to retain a regulation that prohibits “gender alterations” (hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery) from being funded by taxpayers as part of the VA’s medical benefits package.

The VA had received a “Petition for Rulemaking” from transgender activists urging that it lift the restriction, which is found in 38 CFR 17.38(c)(4).

The comment, written by FRC Senior Fellow for Policy Studies Peter Sprigg, said that the cost of these procedures would be exorbitant, and there is no convincing scientific evidence that they are effective in improving mental health or reducing suicide rates among those who undergo them.

A synopsis of the comments stated:

VA benefits should be aimed at the direst, most life-threatening needs first.  They should not go to surgery on physically healthy individuals who elect to alter their physically healthy bodies.

In 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a memo declining to issue a National Coverage Determination (NCD) mandating coverage for gender reassignment surgery. They declared that “there is not enough high quality evidence to determine whether gender reassignment surgery improves health outcomes.” What CMS was unwilling to do for Medicare recipients, the VA should not be doing for recipients of VA medical benefits.

Advocates for taxpayer funding of medical gender transition claim that it will reduce the mental health problems and risk of suicide that are known to exist at higher levels among those who identify as transgender. However, one of the strongest studies ever done on the subject, a 2011 study out of Sweden (Dhejne et al., PLoS ONE) did not support such a conclusion. The CMS memo stated:

The study identified increased mortality and psychiatric hospitalization compared to the matched controls. The mortality was primarily due to completed suicides (19.1-fold greater than in control Swedes), but death due to neoplasm and cardiovascular disease was increased 2 to 2.5 times as well… . The risk for psychiatric hospitalization was 2.8 times greater than in controls even after adjustment for prior psychiatric disease (18%).

Finally, the exorbitant cost of these procedures can hardly be justified for so little benefit. Data from the Philadelphia Center for Transgender Surgery suggests that a comprehensive package of male-to-female surgical procedures would cost $110,450, and female-to-male procedures would cost $89,050. That’s not to mention hormone treatment, which is required indefinitely and can cost as much as $200 a month.

Religious Liberty and National Security Go Hand in Hand

by Family Research Council

May 3, 2018

There is a gaping hole in American foreign policy today, and it is negatively affecting our national security and the security of the world.

There has been a ‘religious freedom avoidance syndrome’ in the State Department,” said Dr. Tom Farr, President of the Religious Freedom Institute, during a recent FRC Speaker Series panel discussion held in Washington, D.C.“…The problem with that … is that the world is religious. And if it is the business of American diplomates, which it is, to defend American interests in a highly religious world, staying away from religion simply doesn’t make sense.”

Professor Robert Destro of Catholic University of America pointed out that we need to work with other countries to make them realize that granting their citizens more religious freedom will actually promote their own self-interests. Studies show that increased religious freedom leads to the absence of religious violence, economic growth, a reduction in corruption, a decrease in infant mortality, better health outcomes, more literacy, more empowerment of women, and more.

Professor Destro also made the case that America needs to help its own Muslim citizens present the benefits of religious freedom to their Muslim counterparts in the Middle East, because it’s obvious that someone of the same faith as them can make the case much more effectively than non-Muslims. As Dr. Farr pointed out, extremist ideologies cannot be destroyed with bullets, they must be destroyed by better ideas.

Don’t miss the full panel discussion.

Be sure to read FRC’s full analysis of the religious freedom/national security issue.

Faith-Based Adoption Providers Must Be Allowed to Serve Needy Children

by Family Research Council

April 26, 2018

In America today, over 400,000 children are languishing in foster homes or other institutions, waiting for a chance to be adopted by a loving family. To help solve this crisis, it is obvious that parents who want to adopt need all the help they can get in being matched with a child, which means they need an adoption agency that understands their needs.

Instead, adoptive families who are religious are finding themselves left out in the cold. In Massachusetts, Illinois, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and now Philadelphia, faith-based adoption agencies like Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services have been forced out of serving needy children because of their religious beliefs by progressive activist organizations like the ACLU, who demand that faith-based organizations affirm same-sex relationships or be barred from offering adoption services.

However, since there are plenty of adoption agencies who already serve same-sex couples, barring faith-based agencies from serving needy children is simply outrageous and will only compound the foster care crisis. As Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) pointed out at a recent Speaker Series event at FRC, Christian churches are the ones who started healthcare and adoption services in the U.S. to begin with, so to bar them from practicing their religious beliefs as they serve the public is counter-productive and benefits no one. As he succinctly observed, “If it’s the truth, it can’t hurt anybody.”

Because of the activism of extremists on the Left, legislation is clearly needed to protect faith-based adoption providers from discrimination. That’s where the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act (CWPIA) comes in. CWPIA simply “ensures all available agencies can continue to serve the 440,000 children in the foster care system and the more than 100,000 awaiting adoption.”

Be sure to view Rep. Kelly’s full remarks here.

For a complete analysis of the benefits of CWPIA, click here.

Who Owns Free Speech on the Internet?

by Family Research Council

April 19, 2018

In a timely panel discussion held recently at FRC, the question of free speech on the internet and the threats it currently faces was explored. In an era when 69 percent of Americans use social media every day, with Google monitoring its user’s activities on over 200 different platforms and Facebook generating $40 billion in ad revenue off of user-generated data, it’s vital to ask questions about how the concerns that users have about free speech and privacy are being handled in the hands of only a few unregulated tech giants who have a monopoly on the industry.

Brent Skorup, a Senior Research Fellow in the Technology Policy Program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, warned against conservatives “opening the door to regulation” of internet social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. He gave the historical example of the FCC’s “fairness doctrine,” which was introduced in 1949 as a “neutral rule” that required broadcasters to present opposing viewpoints of controversial matters, but as Skorup pointed out, it was eventually weaponized by bureaucrats and used to drive out conservative and religious broadcasters from the marketplace.

Craig Parshall, Special Counsel to the American Center for Law and Justice, pointed out the danger that a monopoly poses when it is providing platforms for opinions and information. He emphasized that all conservatives and Christians want is an equal opportunity in expressing their “whole truth” and “political philosophy” to the public, just as progressives have.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) expressed concern about how Facebook and other platforms are using algorithms to censor out political content that they don’t agree with. She noted that the bipartisan Browser Act would introduce an “opt-in” template so that users can protect their data from being harvested online if they so choose.

Don’t miss this lively Q&A discussion on the very difficult topic of whether or not social media platforms should be regulated in order to protect free speech, as well as the continuing controversy over internet free speech and privacy.

FRC Resources to Combat the Extreme Sex Ed Agenda in Schools

by Family Research Council

April 9, 2018

On April 23, 2018, students across America and in other countries will participate in the Sex Ed Sit Out. Here are some resources from FRC that illustrate the reality of what is being taught regarding sexuality in schools and what parents and students can do to combat the extreme and perverted sexual ideology that is being pushed on children in the classroom.

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.

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.

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.

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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