FRC Blog

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of May 31)

by Family Research Council

June 5, 2020

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Washington Update: “What We Need Is Hope”

In a nation as torn and hurting as ours, there are powerful moments breaking through the chaos to remind us: darkness will not have the last word.

2. Washington Update: “The Slow Burn of America”

Mob violence and police brutality spring from the same fountain: moral bankruptcy. The abuse of power, disregard for human life, and uncontrolled rage we’re witnessing in cities across our country, all flow from a society that is rapidly losing a sense of right and wrong.

3. Publication: Biblical Principles for Political Engagement: Worldview, Issues, and Voting

How should Christians think about voting and politics and what role do they play? Family Research Council provides biblical wisdom and clear answers to these pivotal questions.

4. Blog: “We Must Never Forget the Tiananmen Square Massacre”

For the past 30 years, crowds have gathered in Hong Kong on June 4th to mourn the infamous massacre of student demonstrators in Tiananmen Square. This year, no legal vigil was permitted, and many fear the Chinese government is silencing Hong Kong dissenters much like they did in 1989. 

5. Washington Watch: DOJ’s Eric Dreiband highlights his team’s work in the trenches restoring freedom in coronavirus

Eric Dreiband, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the DOJ’s involvement in states where religious freedom is in jeopardy.

6. Washington Watch: Ken Blackwell says the rule of law must win when the other choice is cultural chaos

Ken Blackwell, former mayor of Cincinnati and FRC’s Senior Fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the growing unrest across the country.

7. Washington Watch: Rev. Vincent Mathews, Jr. insists the church is essential to breaking down the barriers dividing us

Bishop Vincent Mathews Jr., World Missions President for Church of God in Christ, the largest African American Pentecostal denomination, joined Tony Perkins to discuss how to bring healing that is urgently needed for our nation.

For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.org, our Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad. Check out “The 7” at the end of every week to get our highlights of the week’s trending items. Have a great weekend!

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Prayer Points for Responding to Civil Unrest

by David Closson

June 5, 2020

Here are some ways we can prayerfully respond to the current civil unrest in our nation:

Pray for the Peace of the Nation. Pray for God’s peace to prevail. Pray that people would have soft hearts toward one another—the way God’s heart is toward us. Pray that people would not succumb to fear, but trust God, and assume the best about those with whom we disagree.

Pray for Government Leaders. Christians are called to pray for those in positions of authority—even those with whom we disagree (1 Timothy 2:1-2). This is especially true during times of confusion, pain, and difficulty. Pray for the president, vice president, other leaders in the federal government, governors, mayors, local leaders, and all those in positions of authority as they respond to current events. Pray for a spirit of cooperation as lawmakers work to address current issues.

Pray for Families Affected by Recent Events. Pray for the family of George Floyd and those whose loved ones have been harmed, injured, or killed during the unrest.

Pray for Law Enforcement. Pray for the safety of the police, the National Guard, and other law enforcement officers. Pray they would always act justly and uprightly, with the understanding that they are accountable to God, as they carry out their responsibilities.

Pray for Affected Communities. Pray for those who are no longer (or maybe never have been) safe in their communities. Pray that the loss of lives, homes, and businesses as the result of violence, vandalism, and looting would end. Pray that affected communities would find healing.

Pray for the Church. Pray for unity within the body of Christ (John 17:20-23, Ephesians 4:3). Pray that pastors and congregations around the country would have wisdom and courage to respond with truth and love as they serve their communities and address current events—and as they seek to generate healing, cross bridges, and bring reconciliation. Pray that the Gospel would be proclaimed during these trying times.

Pray for Honest and Truthful Public Discourse. Pray that reporters and journalists would convey the news honestly and accurately. Pray that the news media would not stoke fear, inflame anger, or encourage reckless behavior. Pray that those on social media would bring grace and seek to be constructive and not incendiary.

Pray for God’s Guidance. Human wisdom alone cannot solve our current problems. We need God’s wisdom and guidance. Pray that everyone, especially the church, would humble themselves before God and allow ourselves to be shaped by Him. Pray that the church would avail itself of the power and grace only God can supply, in order to take the lead in effectively confronting and dealing with the sins, pains, and hurts of our past—including those of slavery and racism—so that we may truly repent and heal as a nation.

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The Sixth Circuit Allowed Abortion Activists to Challenge a Pro-Life Law. The Supreme Court May Soon Stop the Practice.

by Katherine Beck Johnson

June 5, 2020

Abortion was back in the federal appellate courts this week, this time because of a challenge to Kentucky’s dismemberment ban. In April 2018, Kentucky House Bill 454 was signed into law. It prohibited abortions that “result in the bodily dismemberment, crushing, or human vivisection of the unborn child” if the child is 11 weeks or older.

Kentucky wanted to outlaw dismemberment defined as “a procedure in which a person, with the purpose of causing the death of an unborn child, dismembers the living unborn child and extracts portions, pieces, or limbs of the unborn child through the use of clamps…” This is certainly not the first time a type of abortion procedure has been outlawed. In Gonzalez v. Carhart, the Supreme Court upheld Congress’s law that outlawed partial-birth abortion, a procedure that involves partially delivering the baby alive before ending the life.

Two judges in the Sixth Circuit struck down the Kentucky law. The majority lamented about how women have a right not to be burdened while obtaining an abortion. However, the majority failed to acknowledge that a woman could still obtain an abortion, just not one using the dismemberment method. Judge John Bush, a Trump appointee, wrote his strongly worded dissent. Bush spoke about the conflict of interest between abortion providers representing women in court. Judge Bush noted that two abortion providers and a clinic were claiming to advocate on behalf of women. Not a single party to the case had their constitutional rights directly impacted.

Judge Bush noted that, for some reason—whether financial, litigation strategy, or otherwise—EMW Women’s Surgical Center refused to obtain the training to perform fetal demise (kill the unborn child), regardless of the fact that studies indicate many women would choose fetal demise before a dismemberment procedure. It was clear from oral arguments that EMW was not looking out for what was best for women. When the abortion provider was asked what would happen if a woman did request fetal demise, the answer was that nothing would be done to honor her request.

Whether abortion providers should have the ability to automatically represent women in court is a question currently before the Supreme Court in June Medical Services v. Russo—a case in which the Court will be issuing an opinion in the coming weeks. Family Research Council filed an amicus brief arguing that there is no statutory authority granting abortion providers the ability to automatically stand in for women. There is a clear conflict of interest; abortion providers do not have women’s best interests in mind, and they should not be allowed to represent them in court. Abortion providers are looking out for themselves and their profit, which is a far cry from women’s health.

Let us hope the Supreme Court keeps this in mind when it rules in Russo in the coming weeks. Women facing pressure from the abortion industry deserve to have their true interests looked after, and their voices heard. Pro-life voters across America deserve to have their choices respected.

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We Must Never Forget the Tiananmen Square Massacre

by Arielle Del Turco

June 4, 2020

Every year for the past 30 years, crowds have gathered in Hong Kong on June 4th to light candles, hear from former Chinese pro-democracy activists, and mourn the infamous massacre of student demonstrators by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in 1989. This year, no legal vigil was permitted, but that didn’t stop thousands from bringing white candles to a Hong Kong park to remember the tragedy that came to be known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

Hong Kong authorities refused to allow the annual public remembrance to be held this year, claiming to be concerned about the coronavirus, but such displays are always banned on the mainland. Many of the freedom-loving people of Hong Kong—who had long identified with those who called for freedom in Tiananmen Square—now fear the Chinese government is silencing Hong Kong dissenters much like they did in 1989.            

Beijing suppresses these annual memorials. Yet, the world must remember the tragedy that took place three decades ago because it reveals what the Chinese government is willing to do—even to its citizens: to squash perceived threats to its authority.

Thirty-one years ago today, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army fired live ammunition into crowds of their own people. Chinese civilians had been demonstrating in Tiananmen Square in Beijing for weeks, calling for a more democratic government. Their protests ended in a bloody crackdown that shocked the globe.

It is estimated that several hundred to several thousand people died that day, but an official death toll was never released. Family members of the deceased victims still beg for answers.

To this day, the Chinese government does not admit wrongdoing during the Tiananmen Square Massacre. When the government of Taiwan recently called upon Beijing to apologize for the violent crackdown three decades ago, a spokesman defended the legacy of communist party leadership. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian declared, “The great achievements after the founding of new China fully demonstrate that the development path chosen by the new China is totally correct and in line with China’s national conditions.”

Yet, the often-violent legacy of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rule is nothing to take pride in. Mao’s Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution took drastic human tolls and denied the Chinese people basic human rights.

The Chinese government still withholds such rights from its citizens today. Among them is freedom of religion, a right intimate and fundamental to the human conscience.

In the northwestern region of Xinjiang, the government is in a full-on assault against religion. At least 1.8 million Uyghur Muslims are forcibly detained in internment camps where they are brainwashed and abused. Outside the camps, the rest of the region is patrolled with facial recognition technology and other means to tightly control the oppressed Uyghur minority.

Throughout the mainland, Christians are intimidated, and churches are surveilled as crosses are torn down from their buildings. Well-known house church pastor Wang Yi sits in prison serving a nine-year sentence—a grave reminder to other pastors that they ought not step out of line.

Perhaps most alarmingly, evidence is mounting that the Chinese government is forcibly harvesting organs from political prisoners. These are thought to be mostly from Falun Gong practitioners, a long-persecuted faith group entirely undeserving of the abuse they endure. 

The Chinese Communist Party may want the world to forget its ruthless history, but it is critical that we keep the memory of the Tiananmen Square Massacre alive.

The Tiananmen Square Massacre exposed the blatant disregard with which the Chinese Communist Party views human lives. This disregard is unfortunately not relegated to history—it still affects the Chinese people, including religious believers. Today, we remember the Tiananmen Square Massacre and its countless victims. But let us also remember those who continue to suffer under the Chinese government’s oppressive policies.

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FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of May 24)

by Family Research Council

May 29, 2020

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Washington Update: “Trump Insists It’s Open Season for Churches”

On Friday, after hearing from pastors all across the country, President Trump addressed the stricter restrictions placed upon church gatherings over other establishments like restaurants, malls, and even casinos and called for America’s governors to stop the injustice.

2. Washington Update: “Mask Hysteria? Scientists Say No”

Do masks help reduce the spread of the coronavirus? One of the things scientists have learned is that the virus is transferred more from airborne droplets and less from commonly touched surfaces and the number one thing we can do to reduce that transmission is to wear masks.

3. Publication: Sex Education in Public Schools: Sexualization of Children and LGBT Indoctrination

May has been deemed “Sex Ed For All Month” by the powerful lobby shops pushing radical sex ed on children. In response, FRC has released a new resource for parents to inform them on what they need to know.

4. Blog: “The Trump Administration Is About to Do the Right Thing on Religious Freedom — Again”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is about to finalize a rule it proposed last year to ensure that religious freedom and conscience are protected, the medical profession is not politicized, and patient care is prioritized.

5. Blog: “Gender-Neutral Intersex Passport Case May Advance Larger Transgender Goals”

Although most individuals who choose to identify as “non-binary” do not have a biological intersex condition, transgender activists would like for anyone who identifies as “non-binary” to be able to get identification documents with an “X” gender marker.

6. Washington Watch: Rep. Ted Yoho blasts Biden’s anti-Israel policy that aims to roll back Trump’s accomplishments

Ted Yoho, U.S. Representative for the 3rd district of Florida, joined Tony Perkins to discuss Joe Biden’s pledge to reverse the Trump administration’s Israel policies and also on the brewing war between Israel and Hezbollah.

7. Washington Watch: Rep. Mike Johnson says every cent Planned Parenthood stole from PPP hurts legitimate businesses

Mike Johnson, U.S. Representative for the 4th district of Louisiana and Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the Democrats’ outrageous defense of Planned Parenthood’s illegal Paycheck Protection Program loan grab.

For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.org, our Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad. Check out “The 7” at the end of every week to get our highlights of the week’s trending items. Have a great weekend!

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Can the Pandemic Help Renew Home and Family Life?

by Daniel Hart

May 29, 2020

Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, a little-noted but interesting trend is occurring—home improvement stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot have seen their sales rise higher than expected as a result of people spending more time at home and deciding to take on new or long put-off projects around the house.

I can personally attest to this. My wife and I decided it would be great to raise our own chickens so we could have fresh eggs for our family and be more self-sufficient. We went about researching how to raise chickens and got five baby chicks, who are now two months old and are able to live outside. Our extra time at home has allowed us to devote more energy to our chicken project, which is now involving my retired parents and family friends who are all helping us build a chicken coop and put up fencing to protect them from predators.

All of this to say that the pandemic is leading myself and many around the country to think more about how we can cultivate our homes, which in turn can lead to new and perhaps unexpected projects that can draw our families closer together as we work with each other to accomplish them.

There is also something deeply satisfying about working with our hands to improve our homes. This reminds me of something profound recently written by John Cuddeback:

We have lost something today, but we can get it back. Our very humanity calls for living and working in our bodies, with natural things, regularly. This means all of us. We have been separated from our own humanity, from our proper homeland, and we are suffering, even if we have never known anything else.

I say we can ‘get it back’—not because we ourselves have necessarily had it before, but because it is our birthright. Our own ancestors had it; we need it; and we can still do it, even if differently, and by fits and starts.

It need not be the work of our profession, or work that makes money. It just needs to be real and regular, preferably in our home.

Each of us can make our daily lives more human by choosing tried and true forms of human work. Certain kinds of work have shown themselves to be rich and reliable as especially human modes of acting.

Here is a short list we might consider:

1. hand-crafting in natural substances: wood, stone, metal or fiber
2. caring for the earth, plants, or animals.
3. preparing and preserving natural foods
4. any aesthetic work with hand tools, such as drawing, painting, carving
5. Miscellaneous such as cutting, splitting, and burning wood for heat  

It seems to me that doing these kinds of projects by hand is intimately connected with family. When we share in these activities with our families and teach ourselves and our children to do them, we are not only helping our homes become more self-sufficient during uncertain times, we are also participating in a primal familial bonding and formative experience that has the great potential to increase love and unity amongst each other while at the same time building character.

Families in the modern age desperately need to share in this type of formative bonding with each other. As Yuval Levin has recently written, there is a distinct sense in which the breakdown of the traditional family structure in our time has contributed to a breakdown in character formation that is essential for an individual to become a healthy, thriving member of society. He writes:

…The family forms us by imprinting upon us and giving us models to emulate and patterns to adopt.

The family does all this by giving each of its members a role, a set of relations to others, a body of responsibilities, and a network of privileges. Each of these, in its own way, is given more than earned and is obligatory more than chosen. Although the core human relationship at the heart of most families—the marital relationship—is one we enter into by choice, once we have entered it that relationship constrains the choices we may make. The other core familial bond—the parent-child relationship—often is not optional to begin with, and surely must not be treated as optional after that. It imposes heavy obligations on everyone involved, and yet it plays a crucial role in forming us to be capable of freedom and choice.

In this sense, the institution of the family helps us see that institutions in general take shape around our needs and, if they are well shaped, can help turn those needs into capacities. They literally make virtues of necessities, and forge our weaknesses and vulnerabilities into strengths and capabilities. They are formative because they act on us directly, and they offer us a kind of character formation for which there is no substitute…  

One potential positive effect of the coronavirus pandemic is that it gives families an unexpected occasion to renew our focus on our home life and build strong, formative, and lasting bonds through shared home-cultivating activities. Let us not waste the opportunity.

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The Trump Administration Is About to Do the Right Thing on Religious Freedom — Again

by Travis Weber, J.D., LL.M. , Mary Beth Waddell, J.D.

May 22, 2020

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is about to finalize a rule it proposed last year to ensure that religious freedom and conscience are protected, the medical profession is not politicized, and patient care is prioritized. We urge this rule’s swift finalization.

This rule is great news for patients and the health care community alike. In 2016, under the Obama administration, HHS issued regulations on Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act defining “sex” in the context of “sex discrimination” to incorporate “gender identity” and “the termination of pregnancy”. Health care institutions sued, contending that the heavy hand of government was forcing them to violate their conscience and threatening their ability to operate. Understanding that HHS had exceeded its authority, a federal judge issued an injunction to prevent the Obama administration rule from taking effect.

Now, President Trump plans to clean up this mess, and protect religious freedom, for our caregiving institutions nationwide. This policy change will enable the medical community to fulfill the Hippocratic oath, while protecting the convictions of those in that community who want to hold to their religious beliefs and consciences about the biological understanding of sex.

President Trump’s proposed rule is also pro-life, and will ensure that the pro-life convictions of medical professionals will be honored. The inclusion of “termination of pregnancy” in the Obama administration rule could be read to require the provision of, and coverage or referral for, abortion. This could then lead to federal financial assistance being conditioned on the promotion and performance of acts that devalue the sanctity of human life. Thus, removing this language is important to ensuring that federal laws protecting the right of healthcare workers not to provide or refer for abortion will be upheld. 

We applaud HHS for standing with science and religious liberty to ensure that the medical community is free of political chains and can simply focus on providing the best possible care to their patients according to the best medical science.

The finalization of this rule is a high priority for religious freedom, and very important to protecting the faith of many throughout our country.

It should be finalized promptly, so that those with long-running conscience and religious freedom concerns in this area can finally put them to rest.

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FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of May 17)

by Family Research Council

May 22, 2020

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Washington Update: “Colorado’s Signature Issue”

In a race against the clock, Colorado’s petition gatherers are hitting the ground running—trying to find the signatures they need to save lives. If you live in Colorado, please find a nearby location and sign the petition to ban late-term abortion. (And share with any Coloradans you know!)

2. Washington Update: “Democrats: The Test Is Yet to Come”

Democrats are pushing for a coronavirus response plan that raises costs and creates even more dependence on government, while they and the media refuse to mention the Trump administration’s successful response to the supply problem, the equipment problem, and the ventilator problem brought on by the coronavirus.

3. Washington Update: “To Teach His Own: The Rise of Homeschooling”

The current family situation of being stuck at home is finally forcing parents who might never have thought about public school alternatives to take stock of what their children are being taught and how well they’re performing.

4. Blog: “Churches Are Filing Lawsuits Over Coronavirus Restrictions. Here Is a List.”

The Department of Justice released a memo expressing its concern that states may not violate religious liberty rights, even amidst a pandemic. Many churches have challenged discriminatory state and local orders by filing lawsuits over coronavirus restrictions. Check out the list in our blog post.

5. Blog: “Speaker Pelosi’s Partisan Coronavirus Relief Bill Attacks Life and Family”

Last week, House Democrats passed the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800), a coronavirus relief bill that funds abortion providers. Congressional Democrats have shown that they would rather score political points than help our country through this pandemic. Our blog post breaks it down.

6. Washington Watch: Rich Lowry describes how the press has systematically ignored Trump’s virus successes & solutions

Rich Lowry, Editor of National Review and author of The Case for Nationalism, joined Tony Perkins on Washington Watch to discuss how the media has largely ignored President Trump’s massive coronavirus supply effort.

7. Washington Watch: Cathy Ruse pulls back the curtain on modern sex ed and how parents everywhere can fight back

Cathy Ruse, FRC’s Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Human Dignity, joined Tony Perkins on the radio to introduce her new publication: Sex Education in Public Schools: Sexualization of Children and LGBT Indoctrination.

For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.org, our Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad. Check out “The 7” at the end of every week to get our highlights of the week’s trending items. Have a great weekend!

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Gender-Neutral Intersex Passport Case May Advance Larger Transgender Goals

by Peter Sprigg

May 22, 2020

In a decision on May 12, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled that the State Department should reconsider its refusal to grant a gender-neutral passport to a plaintiff with an intersex condition who identifies with a “non-binary” gender.

An “intersex” condition is a biological condition in which one or more of the biological indicators of sex does not develop in the typical male or female way. It is completely different from a “transgender” condition, in which an individual does not identify psychologically with his or her biological sex at birth. True intersex conditions are rare; but transgender identification is rapidly growing.

There is a proverb which warns, “Once the camel gets his nose in the tent, his body will soon follow.” What seems like a small intrusion can quickly become a large one. I fear that metaphor may apply to the legal fight over “gender-neutral” passports.

Although several news outlets covered the story, Courthouse News Service was the most thorough in describing the plaintiff:

The birth certificate Zzyym was given in 1958 originally used the name Brian Orin Whitney and left the gender line blank because they were born with “ambiguous external sex characteristics.” Raised male, Zzyym was 5 when they underwent medically unnecessary corrective surgery at their parents’ request.

In 1995, the six-year Navy veteran changed their name to Dana Alix Zzyym.

The complaint that was filed by Zzyym elaborates:

Zzyym’s parents decided to raise Zzyym as a male, so the original birth certificate’s blank for sex was filled in as “male.” The State Department has treated this birth certificate as the original.

Zzyym lived as a male until adulthood. As an adult, Zzyym explored living as a woman and obtained a driver’s license identifying as female. But Zzyym grew increasingly uncomfortable living as a woman and eventually identified as a nonbinary intersex person. While identifying as intersex, Zzyym obtained an amended birth certificate identifying the sex as “UnKnown.”

According to one physician quoted in the court opinion, Zzyym did not merely “explore” living as a woman; he “has had surgery for transition to female genitalia.”

Zzyym applied for a passport—and requested that his sex be listed as “X.” (I will use male pronouns for Zzyym, since that is how he was identified on his original birth certificate, and in a photograph released by Lambda Legal, he appears to be conventionally male except for the hair on the top of his head being dyed blue.) The State Department refused, stating that U.S. passports may list only “M” (for Male) or “F” (for Female) as the passport holder’s sex. (This initial application and denial took place in 2014—under the administration of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.)

As the court acknowledged, “The State Department … noted that it had offered to produce a passport with an ‘F’ (matching Zzyym’s original Colorado driver’s license) or an ‘M’ (matching the original birth certificate).” However, the unprecedented “X” designation was refused.

News coverage made the Tenth Circuit decision appear to be a defeat for the State Department—but that is not the case. The District Court had ruled in favor of Zzyym outright, issuing “a permanent injunction against enforcement of the binary sex policy” with respect to Zzyym. The Tenth Circuit vacated this lower court decision.

Instead, the unanimous three-judge panel issued a more nuanced (but still flawed) ruling. The State Department had listed five reasons for upholding its binary-sex policy for passports. The court (in an opinion written by Judge Robert E. Bacharach, an Obama appointee) rejected three of these reasons, saying that the record of the case did not support them.

However, the panel also ruled that “the State Department had statutory authority to require applicants to identify their sex as male or female,” and that two of the five reasons for the policy were supported by the record. One might think that “statutory authority” and even one good reason would be enough to sustain the policy. But instead, the court said the State Department should reconsider to determine whether two reasons instead of five constitute enough justification.

The key error in the Tenth Circuit decision was its assumption that people with an “intersex” condition are neither male nor female. For example, the court stated that “most state identification documents pigeonhole[] everyone as male or female even though some people are neither.” They also asserted that requiring Zzyym to identify himself as male or female would amount to “forcing intersex individuals like Zzyym to inaccurately identify themselves” (emphasis added). The opinion even declares, “The State Department acknowledges that some individuals are born neither male nor female.”

If true, this is an unfortunate mischaracterization of what an “intersex” condition is. As even one intersex activist, Jonathan Leggette, has acknowledged, “Intersex traits can involve genitalia, chromosomes, hormones, and other secondary sex characteristics.” If even one of these characteristics develops in an abnormal way, that constitutes a “disorder of sexual development” (DSD), the medical term for an intersex condition. If, say, 98% of a person’s sex-related characteristics are normal male characteristics, and 2% are abnormal or appear to be those considered typical of a female, it would hardly make sense to say such a person is “neither male nor female.” Instead, that individual is clearly a male, but one with a DSD.

Anne Fausto-Sterling, a biologist at Brown University, has been widely quoted as asserting that up to 1.7% of the population is intersex. However, this claim has been challenged by others who point out that many who fall under Fausto-Sterling’s broad definition of “intersex” are people who may live their entire lives without even being aware that they have an intersex condition (such as an abnormality in their chromosomal make-up). The percentage of people who have any real ambiguity about their biological sex is far smaller—being found, by one estimate, in only 2 out of every 10,000 births.

Even among those with such a genuine intersex condition, however, the number who have both male and female characteristics in nearly a 50-50 ratio is very small. There are dozens of different DSDs that have been identified; of those, only one comes close to this type of ambiguity. It is known as an “ovotesticular” DSD (or “true gonadal intersex” or “true hermaphroditism”) because those with this condition have both ovarian and testicular tissue. This is the rarest DSDonly about 500 cases have ever been reported in the medical literature. And yet even among these, “Most affected individuals have a 46, XX chromosomal [typical female] make-up …, which normally results in female sexual development.”

The Tenth Circuit decision reports that Zzyym “was born with both male and female genitalia.” That is a stronger assertion than the one found in Zzyym’s original complaint in the District Court, which was merely that “Zzyym was born intersex, with ambiguous genitalia.” We don’t know if that is a reference to “ovotesticular DSD,” since that more technical term is not used in the opinion.

In one sense, the ultimate disposition of Zzyym’s case poses little danger of setting a major precedent for others, since the number of people “with both male and female genitalia” is tiny. People with such a birth defect are deserving of our compassion.

However, this case, demanding a “gender X” passport for someone with a biological “intersex” condition, is merely the camel’s nose in the tent. In asserting that intersex people are “neither male nor female,” the court fails to note that most people with intersex conditions are perfectly content to identify as either male or female, notwithstanding their physical problems. The only reason Zzyym felt the need to sue the State Department is because—unlike most “intersex” people—his psychological “gender identity” is “non-binary,” meaning “neither male nor female.”

But declaring one’s “gender identity” to be “non-binary” is merely the latest fad in the larger “transgender movement.” Just as most “intersex” people are not “non-binary,” most of those who choose to identify as “non-binary” do not have a biological intersex condition but are entirely normal with respect to their biological sex at birth.

Transgender activists would like for anyone who identifies as “non-binary” to be able to get identification documents with an “X” gender marker. Winning one for an intersex person would only be the first step toward that even more radical goal.

The State Department should continue to refuse Zzyym’s request.

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Iran Sends More Christians to Prison

by Arielle Del Turco

May 22, 2020

Four Iranian Christians are on their way to prison after a Revolutionary Court set their bail at the equivalent of $30,000 each—an exorbitant price they were unable to pay. The exact charges against these four—Moslem Rahimi, Ramin Hassanpour and his wife Kathrin Sajadpour, and another Christian who wishes to be anonymous—remain unknown. The charges are likely related to the Christians’ involvement in a house church, an act that the Iranian regime considers “hostile” to the state and to be connected to Zionist groups.

For Muslims in Iran, converting to Christianity is itself a crime. Iranian law stipulates that Muslim citizens may not “chang[e] or renouc[e] their religious beliefs.” The punishment for apostasy can include imprisonment or even the death penalty, though it is rarely carried out.

The four Iranian Christians converted to Christianity from a Muslim background, and are members of the same church movement to which Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani belongs. Pastor Nadarkhani has been in prison since July 22, 2018.

The Iranian regime classifies itself as an “Islamic Republic” and believes conversions away from Islam to Christianity undermines the regime’s authority. Consequently, Iranian Christians are often detained on trumped-up charges related to “national security.”

Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh know what it is like to be imprisoned in Iran for their faith. In 2009, the two friends spent almost nine months in Iran’s notorious Evin prison. They had been charged with apostasy, blasphemy, and anti-government activity because they converted to Christianity and dared to share their newfound faith with their countrymen. Before authorities caught them, they had managed to hand out 20,000 copies of the New Testament.

In their book, Captive in Iran, Maryam and Marziyeh describe the many challenges faced by Iran’s political prisoners. Facilities are filthy, access to health care is inadequate, and the trauma of life in prison—including knowing others who are executed by the state—is overwhelming.

However, despite the regime’s best efforts to stifle the Christian faith, reports indicate that Christianity is rapidly spreading in Iran. House churches are flourishing, and the regime is unable to contain their growth. This should be a lesson to governments around the world, that individual faith cannot be controlled in the long run, and religious freedom is the best policy for a healthy society.

To hear Maryam and Marziyeh’s story and learn what it is like to live as a Christian in Iran, watch the video of FRC’s event, Stories from Iran: Religious Freedom and the Secret Growth of the Underground Church.

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