FRC Blog

The Redeeming Gift of Adoption

by Molly Carman

December 1, 2021

The majority of individuals are blessed to be born and raised by their biological parents. However, many children across our nation are waiting for a family to welcome them home through the process of adoption. According to the Adoption Network, two percent of Americans have adopted children into their homes—roughly 140,000 children are adopted in the United States each year, with nearly 1.5 million children adopted in America today.

Saturday, November 20th was National Adoption Day when courts across America celebrated the finalization of adoption cases. For children seeking a forever home and adoptive parents, this day is eagerly awaited with joy. This year, National Adoption Day is an especially relevant reminder that adoption may very well become even more critical if the Supreme Court rules to overturn Roe v. Wade in the pivotal Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case that is being argued there today. If Roe is overturned or scaled back by the Court and abortion is increasingly restricted in more states as a result, there will be thousands more unplanned babies that will be born that will be in great need of being adopted.

Family is such a blessing, and for those who have faced tragedy or unexpected circumstances, adoption is a redeeming gift and a way to find family again. Adoption is particularly significant for Christians as it is a picture of our relationship in the family of God. Just as children waiting for adoption are hoping for their forever home, Christians have been adopted as sons and daughters of God and await Christ’s return when we will be reunited and go to our eternal home of glory.

Scripture speaks frequently about God’s hearts for orphans. James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Orphans and widows were the most vulnerable individuals in the ancient world, and for the most part this is still true today. God has had a heart for the vulnerable from the founding of Israel. When Moses received the law he commanded them, “You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child” (Ex. 22:22). In the Old Testament, Israel is often referred to as God’s son whom He cared for, saved, and redeemed.

In explaining the gospel, New Testament authors often use language that refers to believers as orphans before they were saved and adopted as sons and co-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:16-17). We are orphans because sin separates us from God our Father, and we are unable to be reconciled to Him in our own strength or actions. Without redemption from sin, we are condemned to eternal separation from God through death. However, Scripture reminds us, “that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8) and it is through Christ’s death that we are no longer separated from our Heavenly Father but are reconciled and adopted into His eternal kingdom. John says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God” (1:12). This message is reiterated in Paul’s letter to the Galatians where he explains, “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (3:26). Christ also promised the disciples, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:8), referring to His second coming when He will fully redeem us and bring us home.

Adoption is a biblical value and is a tangible representation of God’s desired relationship with humanity. While not everyone will be able to welcome children into their homes permanently or temporarily, Christians are called to love the least of these. Christians should be intentional to promote this beautiful representation of redemption and healing, remembering that “we love because He [Christ] first loved us” (1 John 4:19). 

National Adoption Day is an opportunity to celebrate children who have found loving and safe homes. The U.S.A. Coalition of National Partners, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, Alliance for Children’s Action Network, and the Freddie Mac Foundation all came together to found National Adoption Day. It began in 2000 when these coalition partners asked seven cities to open their courts the Saturday before Thanksgiving to finalize and celebrate adoption. The event was a huge success, and by 2014 over 400 cities were participating. By 2018, nearly 70,000 children in foster care had their adoption finalized on this day.

Anyone can participate in National Adoption Day and help raise awareness for the thousands of children who are in foster care and waiting to find their forever home. Whether or not the Lord is calling your family to adopt, Christians everywhere should remember that Christ is preparing an eternal home for all those who are redeemed by His sacrifice.

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From Eating to Dining: How Shared Meals Reveal What It Means to Be Human

by Dan Hart

November 24, 2021

In 2019, a disheartening survey was released on the eating habits of Americans. It found that only 48 percent of respondents eat at the dining room table, with 47 percent saying they eat on the couch or in their bedrooms instead. Tellingly, 72 percent of respondents also said that they grew up eating in the dining room. This is the latest illustration of a trend that has been happening for quite some time in America. Families and households are putting less of an emphasis on one of the most fundamental pillars of family and communal life—a shared meal.

Social science bears out the central importance that family dinner has on positive outcomes for children, including lower rates of drug abuse, teen pregnancy, depression, obesity, and eating disorders as well as higher grade-point average, self-esteem, and vocabulary. But the benefits of family meals—or any shared meal—go much deeper than what social science can prove. Dining together fills an innate need that all human beings crave: the desire for true communion and fellowship with our Creator and with one another.

The Centrality of the Meal in Scripture

Scripture tells us a great deal about just how fundamental meals are to human flourishing. Moreover, the Bible contains many examples of how the provision of food often served as a means for teaching important spiritual truths. For example, in the Old Testament, God fed the Israelites manna in the desert. Despite their disobedience (which resulted in the people having to wander in the desert for 40 years), He fed them, teaching them to depend and rely on Him for their daily sustenance (Exodus 16). Similarly, throughout the gospels, Jesus chooses a shared meal as the context not only for building relationships but for enacting His salvific plan.

His desire for forming intimate bonds over a shared meal is shown through His dinner with tax collectors and sinners at the home of Levi (Luke 5:29-32), eating at the house of Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:36-50), dining at the home of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:25-42), and staying at the home of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). Strikingly, Jesus also emphasizes communal dining with His disciples in His resurrected body. He sups with two disciples that He meets on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), with His disciples in Jerusalem (Luke 14:35-48), and again with His disciples on the shores of the Sea of Tiberius, sharing a miraculous catch of fish and bread over a charcoal fire (John 21:1-14).

Indeed, Christ’s plan of salvation is miraculously revealed multiple times in the context of a shared meal. It is at a wedding feast at Cana that Jesus performs His first miracle of turning water into wine, ushering in His public ministry (John 2:1-11). After feeding the souls of 5,000 men (besides women and children, which means the total number may have been as much as 15,000) by teaching them about the kingdom of God, He orchestrates a miraculous, spontaneous dinner for everybody when He multiplies a few loaves and fish to feed the entire throng, so much so that there are 12 wicker baskets left over after everyone has eaten their fill (Matthew 14:13-21, Luke 9:10-36). At the Last Supper, Christ reveals a fundamental aspect of His sacrificial mission through sharing bread and wine with His disciples (Luke 22:14-23).

It’s clear that Christ placed great emphasis on the importance of the meal as a conduit for revealing the depth of His love for His flock. But a natural question arises here—why did Christ do this? What is the true nature and potential of a shared meal?

From Eating to Dining”

Judging by the survey referenced earlier, for the most part, eating has become a pretty mundane and isolated exercise for many Americans. At the same time, the popularity of cooking shows and eating out prove that even the fragmented nature of everyday life in our culture has not fully tamped down the pleasures of a good meal. Even so, what our culture seems to lack is a true understanding of just how meaningful meals can and should be. As Leon Kass has reflected upon at length in his profound book The Hungry Soul, the ordinary nature of eating takes on a whole new meaning when we intentionally make an effort to move “from eating to dining”—from eating for the primary purpose of satisfying a grumbling stomach to instead dining with others through a shared experience of food and conversation.

Human instinct tells us that there is something unparalleled and intangibly communal about a dinner table filled with delicious food to share and enjoy together. This is illustrated by the fact that a shared meal is the only human activity that engages all five of our senses at once. We see the food spread out before us and the people we are sharing it with, we smell the aromas which heighten and anticipate our appetites and enhance our eating experience, we touch our forks and knives to eat and pass around the dinner rolls, we taste, relish, and consume our meal, and we listen to the merriment and clinking dinnerware and partake in conversation.

To be sure, a shared meal gives us arguably the richest opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation that has the potential to draw us closer to one another. Aristotle once wrote about how “the truest human intimacy takes place in good conversation.” And as John Cuddeback has observed, “[G]ood conversation … does more than give seasoning to life. It is the beating heart of a real communion of persons, of a happy life-together with those we love.”

Of course, meaningful conversation doesn’t always happen on its own. The best way to facilitate true fellowship is to pray for those who will dine with us and for uplifting conversation that leads to greater intimacy with each other and the Lord. When we fully invest ourselves in a meal shared with others, it has the power to nourish the mind, body, and soul all at once. Because God created us as embodied beings comprised of both bodies and souls, nourishing our physical hunger through eating naturally nourishes our minds and hearts. As we engage in rich conversation, we draw closer and grow in intimacy with each other. Our souls are in turn nourished by this communion we achieve with others during the meal. Since our minds, bodies, and souls are in union with each other, when one is nourished, they are all nourished. It is in this act of dining that we can harness the true communal potential of shared meals that our Creator intended them to be.

It is in this way that a meal shared with others can become a taste of the divine feast in heaven where we will be in total communion not only with all the redeemed but with the communion of love found in the Holy Trinity.

Practical Ways to Enhance a Shared Meal

At this point you might be thinking, “It’s all well and good that meals have such great potential to be so meaningful, but how can we expect to have this kind of experience consistently?” It’s true that we can’t expect every meal to be a profound experience, but there are a few simple, practical ways we can be more intentional about making a shared meal a truly communal and edifying experience for all.

1. Spend a little extra love and care preparing everyday meals.

Anyone who has prepared an elaborate meal for a dinner party, a family reunion, or Thanksgiving knows how much work it can be but also how rewarding it is to experience the appreciation guests express over a well-received meal. This experience can not only be immensely rewarding for the host, but also for the guests: who can’t help but feel well cared for after being served a delicious meal?

In the same way, parents or anyone else cooking for others can make dinnertime consistently special by preparing healthy, hearty meals that aren’t elaborate and time-consuming. The Family Dinner Project has some great tips on how to do this.

2. Start dinner earlier in the evening.

When possible, try to start dinner or appetizers as early in the evening as you can. When everyone has their hunger nourished earlier in the evening, it will set the tone for a better overall mood and will allow for a more extended time of fellowship after the meal.

Social science has also found strong benefits for earlier dinners for families. A recent study found that “‘parents who eat dinner before 6:15 p.m. … spend 11% more quality time with children, and spend 14% more overall time with children’ in the evening than those who eat later.”

3. Say a prayer of thanksgiving after the meal.

Most believers pray a blessing over meals before digging in, but less common is the traditional Christian practice of saying a prayer of thanksgiving afterward. Saying a post-meal blessing can help set a grateful tone before partaking in an extended time of fellowship after a meal and serves as an acknowledgment that what everyone just took part in was a sacred experience. While there is always the option of spontaneous prayer, here is a simple, common prayer of thanksgiving.

***

For Americans, Thanksgiving has the most potential to be the ultimate dining experience—it has remained the most popular holiday next to Christmas. This speaks to the power that is inherently present in a shared meal with loved ones—our human natures are drawn to celebratory feasts like a moth to flame.

This Thanksgiving, may we reach for ever greater heights of communion with our family and friends, and in so doing strive for greater communion with our Creator, the master of the eternal, heavenly banquet.

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International Olympic Committee Abandons Women Athletes

by Linda Blade

November 23, 2021

Imagine that you are a top administrator at a track meet and you notice that in the 17-year-old category there appears to be a boy running in the girls’ race. What course of action you would take? Well, according to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), your approach would depend upon what year you noticed such a thing.

Pre-2003, you would have simply explained to the athlete that it is not permissible for a boy to compete against the girls. The boy would be instructed that in the future he should be racing with the boys.

After 2003 (Stockholm Consensus), you would have had to determine if the boy had undergone some sort of sex change surgery at least two years prior to the race and had legal recognition as a girl. This set a tough standard for a male wishing to participate in a female race, and transgender advocates felt that the IOC was being was too rigid.

Well, the IOC wanted this problem to go away, and so by 2015 they made it a lot easier. At that point, this boy would have had to self-declare that he “identifies as a girl” and “then lived as a girl for at least a year” (whatever that means), while ensuring that his testosterone level (T) was 10 nmol/L or below throughout that time. (Note: 10nmol/L is low for men but still many times higher than the maximum testosterone level allowed for women, which is about 2 nmol/L.) No surgery was to be required.

There was no real way for anybody to check 24/7 as to whether this boy was keeping his T level down throughout that year. And there was no scientific evidence to determine whether the selection of T concentration at 10 nmol/L was the appropriate level that could ensure “fairness” in the race.

As we know now from research and observation, the 2015 IOC consensus could not in any way eliminate the enormous male biological advantage that this boy would be bringing to the race. In the years following 2015, many examples could be found that revealed the immense unfairness of this approach; the Connecticut high school controversy being one of the most prominent.

Those concerned with fairness in women’s sports were alarmed and began speaking out in greater numbers. Organizations like Fair Play for Women (UK) and Save Women’s Sports (U.S., New Zealand, and Australia) arose to question the IOC’s thinking. In 2021, my own book was published on this topic (written in collaboration with journalist Barbara Kay), titled UNSPORTING: How Trans Activism and Science Denial are Destroying Sport.

It all came to a head with the participation of Laurel Hubbard (New Zealand) in women’s weightlifting at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo (which took place in the summer of 2021). The world finally got to see what it looks like to have a male competitor in a female competition, and the public found it to be absurd. IOC medical director, Dr. Richard Budgett, had to admit that the 2015 IOC consensus on transgender participation was “not fit for purpose.” But in making that statement, he stuck to the ideological line that “trans women are women.”

The truth is that “trans women” are, by definition, male-born individuals who identify as women but can never become biological females. This need not be an insulting statement; it is why they are called “trans women” instead of “women.”

Having adopted the trans activist line of discourse, the IOC needed to somehow find a way to make its eligibility guidelines more protective of the women’s category, while at the same time not “triggering” trans activists. So little was the IOC focusing on the plight of the female athlete and so greatly on placating the gender ideologists that, in the aftermath of Tokyo, they went out of their way to not consult with women across the globe who were advocating for sex-based eligibility criteria.

To the profound disappointment of sex-based advocates, the 2021 version of the IOC eligibility guidelines (announce on Tuesday, November 16, 2021) amounts to the complete abandonment of women’s sports.

In the *new* 2021 IOC eligibility guidelines, titled IOC Framework on Fairness, Inclusion and Non-discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity and Sex Variations, males who wish to self-identify into female competition no longer require testosterone suppression or surgery. Furthermore, inclusion in the female category will be automatic unless a sports official finds a way to decide if the male participant has a “disproportionate advantage.”

The boy in our example above can now assert: “It’s my human right to be in the girls race and the Olympic guidelines say that you are not allowed to exclude me from this race until you do a scientific study to prove that I have an advantage that is beyond acceptable.”

Unfortunately for sports administrators, the IOC offers no means to assess what is “disproportionate” or which of the thousands of physical variables is to be measured or assessed to determine this boy’s unacceptable advantage. Nor will the IOC be offering any financial funding from its vast reserves to help undertake such a study.

And why would the IOC go down this path when the results of such an inquiry would arrive months after the race, offering no immediate cover for allegations of “hate” that will inevitably come its way for even suggesting that this boy might be out of line?

One can foresee sports administrators and officials abandoning any attempt to enforce the biological boundary.

The entire point for having the women’s category in the first place arises from the distinction between male and female biological sex that gives males a physical advantage, categorically and overwhelmingly. But now in 2021, as an IOC official suggested in the November 16 IOC news conference, it is not up to sport associations to define “woman.”

Essentially, then, the 2021 IOC position is that eligibility rules must be “fair” to women, but no sport should presume to define what a woman is.

What a shameful display of cowardice and confusion!

Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter says: “The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Olympic Charter shall be secured without discrimination of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

Biological sex is on this original list. And even though we can all agree that the category “male” has “disproportionate advantage” over the category “female,” the IOC is now apparently so fearful of running afoul of gender ideology that it is no longer willing to acknowledge that allowing a male person to compete against females is discrimination on the basis of sex.

Speaking of principles, the IOC could have avoided this predicament completely if only it had upheld Principle 5 of the Olympic Charter, which demands “autonomy” and “political neutrality” in maintaining IOC “freedom from outside influence” in establishing its own rules for sports.

We are now seeing what happens when the IOC violates its own charter and permits its functionaries to be captured by ideology. Sadly, it’s the female athlete who will be paying the price by participating in Olympic sports that are no longer fair nor safe.

Linda Blade, PhD (Kinesiology) is a former Canadian track and field champion and NCAA All American (University of Maryland Terps team captain in 1985). She spent 25 years as a sport performance professional coach in Edmonton, Alberta, teaching fundamental biomotor skills to athletes, from beginner to elite, in over 15 sports.

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Nigeria Conspicuously Absent from State Department’s List of Religious Freedom Violators

by Arielle Del Turco

November 22, 2021

Last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the countries that the U.S. government considers Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) on account of their having engaged in or tolerated “systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.” As is the case with many State Department mechanisms, the CPC list is only helpful if the people in charge utilize it well. With this announcement, the Biden administration is failing to do this.

This year, Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan all made the dubious list. And with good reason.

The Burmese military has been caught shelling churches, detaining pastors, and brutally attacking Christian communities. The North Korean regime detains Christians in political prison camps where they are often subjected to torture. Young Hindu and Christian girls in Pakistan are routinely subjected to forced marriage. These are just a few examples.

But this year, even more noteworthy than the countries that were included on the CPC list is a country whose CPC designation was removed by Blinken after former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo designated it a CPC last year—Nigeria.

Nigeria could hardly be more deserving of this designation. In the first half of 2021 alone, an average of 17 Christians were murdered for religious identity every day. In the country’s Northeast, Boko Haram and other Islamist terrorist groups routinely target Christian villages, churches, and individuals to be burned, attacked, and slaughtered. Fulani militants in Nigeria’s Middle Belt raid Christian villages, kill defenseless individuals, and take over their land.

Unfortunately, terrorism and religiously motivated attacks are concealed under the surface of the continent’s most populous nation. Elites in cities may try to act like these attacks are not the norm and protect Nigeria’s reputation. But for Christians in rural villages, the fear is palpable.

Nigeria’s religious freedom problems are obvious. In order for Blinken’s removal of Nigeria from the CPC list to be justified, it should have made significant improvements in its religious freedom conditions. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Nothing has changed except U.S. leadership. It’s also significant that the removal of CPC status came one day before Blinken went to Nigeria to visit with state leaders, including President Muhammadu Buhari.

David Curry, president of Open Doors, said the change “is not only a baffling error, it’s likely in direct violation of the International Religious Freedom Act, the law that requires these designations to be made in the first place.”

The CPC designation is the U.S. government’s official “worst of the world” list regarding religious freedom violations. Established by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA), a country’s CPC designation is intended to spur that country to improve its religious freedom conditions. It was meant to be accompanied by sanctions, but most countries are given waivers, supposedly due to America’s “national interest.”

IRFA also established the independent and bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which advises the State Department every year on which countries deserve a CPC designation. Yet, there is often a disparity between the countries that USCIRF recommends and the countries the State Department designates.

Sadly, the State Department continues an unfortunate habit of not adequately using the designation to hold foreign governments accountable for religious freedom violations. Notably, most of the countries on this year’s list are countries with which the United States already has a strained relationship. So, it stands to reason that one more criticism won’t hurt. It costs the State Department very little to call out the obvious religious freedom problems in countries like China, North Korea, Iran, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. However, the State Department declined to designate the additional countries that USCIRF recommended: India, Nigeria, Syria, and Vietnam. These countries deserve more scrutiny from the State Department, and its own annual report proves that.

It’s easy to call out our adversaries, but our allies shouldn’t be exempt from criticism on their human rights records. Friends hold friends to a higher standard, and that should apply to strategic U.S. allies like India and Nigeria.

The fact that the State Department chose to remove Nigeria’s CPC designation, despite ongoing attacks against Christians, shows that the Biden administration doesn’t take religious freedom advocacy seriously enough. This goes against IRFA, which made religious freedom a foreign policy priority, and against decades of American tradition promoting human rights around the world. The Biden administration should swiftly reverse its decision and work with Nigerian leaders to help improve religious freedom conditions.

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10 Things You Can Do to Defend the Unborn Ahead of Dobbs

by Mary Szoch

November 22, 2021

On December 1, the U.S. Supreme Court will begin hearing oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. This case concerns the constitutionality of Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, which prohibits elective abortion after 15 weeks—nine weeks before the 24-week “point of viability” (i.e., the gestational age when a baby is generally considered capable of surviving outside the mother’s womb). Because Mississippi’s law directly challenges the abortion jurisprudence of Roe v. Wade, the Dobbs case presents the greatest opportunity to overturn Roe since the decision was first handed down in 1973.

Although it will be Scott Stewart, the solicitor general of Mississippi, who will be presenting the arguments in defense of the unborn before the Supreme Court, everyone has a part to play in this upcoming case.

Here is a list of 10 things that you can do to build a culture of life as we await the oral arguments and eventual ruling in Dobbs:

1. Pray.

The most important thing you can do leading up to the Dobbs case is to pray. To help you get started, Family Research Council has compiled a helpful prayer guide, available here. Consider praying with a friend outside an abortion facility and joining FRC for our upcoming prayer event (details below).

On Sunday, November 28, FRC will be hosting Pray Together for Life, a national prayer gathering at New Horizon Church in Jackson, Miss. The purpose of this non-partisan event will be a unified prayer meeting of the body of Christ with the sole focus on praying for the restoration of the sanctity of life in America, beginning with the unborn. We hope you will join us, either in person or online, at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT. You can register here.

For additional prayer resources, visit: PrayForDobbs.com  

2. Discern whether your family is being called to adopt.

If Roe is overturned, there will likely be more babies in need of parents. As members of the pro-life community, we should all discern whether God is calling us to radically love others by opening our home to a child in need. Focus on the Family provides a number of helpful resources on this topic.

3. Support a Pregnancy Resource Center.

In 2019, Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRCs) nationwide served almost two million people and provided nearly $270 million in services at virtually no charge. PRCs operate largely through the generosity of volunteers and donors. Their work truly makes a difference in the lives of millions, and if Dobbs overturns Roe, there will be much more work for PRCs to do. You can locate the PRCs near you here.

4. Support single moms.

Even though being a mom is incredibly rewarding, it is also incredibly challenging. Lost fatherhood brings additional hurdles for raising a child, which is why community support for single mothers is all the more important. Support single moms you know in practical ways like making a meal for the family or offering to babysit. Being pro-life means working to create a culture of life!

5. Befriend a person with disabilities.

Invite someone in your community with disabilities to get coffee or play a sport. Babies prenatally diagnosed with genetic abnormalities are aborted at alarming rates. Combat this by creating a culture where everyone is welcome.

6. Share information about the dangers of chemical abortion and about the option of abortion pill reversal.

With known complications including severe bleeding, infection, retained fetal parts, and even death, chemical abortion (more commonly known as “the abortion pill”) is nearly four times more dangerous than already dangerous surgical abortion procedures. In some cases, if only the first of the two pills in the abortion pill regimen has been taken, this type of abortion can be reversed. For more information, visit: AbortionPillReversal.com. Sharing this message could save a life.

7. Talk to a friend about her abortion views.

Most of us have a friend who does not share our views on the dignity of the unborn child. It can be challenging to have conversations surrounding abortion but making this effort can create a ripple effect that stretches far beyond your own influence. This FRC resource provides talking points and stories to help you get the conversation flowing.

8. Share information about Project Rachel.

For many women, the pain and guilt after an abortion are incredibly difficult to bear. Project Rachel is a nationwide ministry providing women with the assurance that there can be forgiveness, hope, and healing after abortion. It is open to all women, including women of no faith. Project Rachel’s website is HopeAfterAbortion.org or EsperanzaPosAborto.org.

9. Let your friends know you are a safe person to talk to.

Post a message on social media letting your friends know that if they find themselves unexpectedly pregnant, you’re a safe, supportive, and loving person to talk to. This might be all the encouragement someone needs to choose life.

10. Support pro-life state legislators and legislation.

Electing pro-life state legislators is critical to ending the scourge of abortion in America. If the Dobbs case overturns Roe, the question of abortion legality would most likely return to where it was before Roe—the individual states. It is essential that the states are equipped with pro-life legislators to pass pro-life laws. When legislators introduce pro-life legislation, pro-lifers must be supportive of the effort by calling and e-mailing their elected officials.

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FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of November 14)

by Family Research Council

November 19, 2021

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

1. Update: Kerry Signals Lane Change on China

A Chinese official revealed he’s met with Biden’s climate negotiator, John Kerry, as many as 30 times. During all of these conversations, a reporter asked Kerry if he’d ever bothered to bring up the Uyghurs? Slave labor? His response: “That’s not my lane.” Tell that to the young men who’ve been sodomized and tortured and the young women who’ve undergone forced abortions and have been forcibly sterilized on the CCP’s watch.

2. Update: The Plane Truth about Vax Tyranny

What air travel needs right now is more restrictions, said 37 Democratic lawmakers in a letter to President Biden. Their call for further travel restrictions doesn’t just unhappily coincide with the holiday travel season; they explicitly cite that as a reason to enact the restrictions.

3. Blog: 5 Bible Passages That Affirm the Personhood of the Unborn

Abortion continues to be a hot-button issue in America. As the country awaits the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in upcoming abortion-related cases, Christians should take the time to consider what exactly the Bible teaches about human dignity and abortion. Here are several Scripture passages that affirm life beginning in the womb and the personhood of the unborn child.

4. Blog: Women Must Be Protected in the NDAA

In the Senate’s preparation to take up the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 (NDAA, S. 2792), hundreds of amendments to the bill have been offered. One of the most crucial for senators to support is the amendment which removes the provision changing registration for the Selective Service to require young women to register alongside men.

5. Washington Watch: Garret Graves, Phil Robertson, Al Robertson

Tony Perkins was joined by Rep. Garret Graves, U.S. Representative for Louisiana, who discussed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit extending the injunction against President Biden’s vaccine mandate on private employers, Biden signing the infrastructure bill, and the letter sent by congressional Democrats to Biden demanding a vaccine requirement or a negative test prior to boarding an airline flight. Also, Phil Robertson and Al Robertson, co-hosts of the “Unashamed” podcast, shared their thoughts on current issues, including the vaccine mandates, indoctrination in schools, and the Republican National Committee announcing its first-ever “RNC Pride Coalition.”

6. Washington Watch: Steve Daines, Andrea Lucas, Roger Severino, Andy Biggs, Lela Gilbert

Tony Perkins was joined by Steve Daines, U.S. Senator from Montana, who discussed the NDAA provision forcing women into the military draft. Andrea Lucas, Commissioner on the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, commented on the Biden administration’s intrusive questionnaire for evaluating requests for religious exemptions to vaccine mandates. Roger Severino, of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, lamented a memo showing that HHS is expected to roll back Trump-era religious liberty protections. Andy Biggs, U.S. Representative for Arizona, shared what an internal email provided by an FBI whistleblower reveals about the DOJ using counterterrorism tools against parents. And, FRC’s Lela Gilbert discussed the Biden State Department removing Nigeria from its Countries of Particular Concern list.

7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: A Time for Gratitude

On this episode of Pray Vote Stand, Tony Perkins was joined by Dr. Kenyn Cureton and Dr. Jeffrey Froh ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday to pray for America and look at the long-term impact a culture of gratefulness can have on a nation.

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Poll Numbers on Roe Show That Pro-Lifers Have a Lot of Work To Do

by Mary Szoch

November 18, 2021

The results of a Washington Post-ABC News poll released on November 16 indicate that 60 percent of Americans think the U.S. Supreme Court should uphold Roe v. Wade. Americans should be appalled by these results. They mean either 60 percent of Americans believe it is morally permissible for a child to be aborted right up until the moment of birth (a position that, though horrifying, is consistent with support for early abortion), or 60 percent of Americans still have no idea what Roe actually does—even though the decision was handed down nearly 50 years ago.

Given the discrepancy between the Post/ABC poll and years of Gallup polling (which, as of 2021, indicates that only 32 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all circumstances), the issue seems to be with the level of education people have on the abortion issue. The vast majority of Americans do not realize that Roe not only legalized abortion but made elective abortion through all nine months of pregnancy the default law in every state, overturning nearly every state’s abortion law in the process.

Lack of information being the culprit for these abysmal poll numbers might come as a relief to some—but it shouldn’t. And if it does, the issue, once again, is with education. Modern science points to the fact that a newborn child is the same child she was moments before birth. A child moments before birth is the same child she was at 20 weeks gestation. A child at 20 weeks gestation is the same child she was at the moment of fertilization.

Advances in science show that all of a person’s hereditary attributes (including sex, hair and eye color, and even personality traits) are present in that person’s DNA from the moment of conception. This means that abortions at five weeks, 10 weeks, 20 weeks, and 40 weeks all carry out the same gruesome task—ending the life of a unique, unrepeatable human being.

Some likely think that the Supreme Court justices should take the findings of the Post/ABC public opinion poll into consideration when deciding the upcoming case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which could overturn Roe v. Wade. This points to yet another area in which Americans’ education is lacking—the role of the Supreme Court.

While public opinion is vitally important to America’s legislative process, the executively appointed Supreme Court justices are not meant to rule based on public opinion. Instead, the members of the Court take an oath to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution. This means that in Dobbs, it is their job to determine if the framework of the Constitution includes the right to abortion. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t.

As the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted, the court of public opinion is the state legislature. Like Americans saw in the recent Virginia election, it is state legislators who are voted in and out of office based on the preferences of the people they are elected to represent. Supreme Court justices, on the other hand, are appointed for life. This is to prevent justices from bowing to the whims of the majority. These two branches of government were intentionally formed this way as part of a delicate balancing act to both allow the changing views of the American people to impact legislation and maintain the legal precepts essential to the foundations of American society.

If the Court rules as they should in Dobbs, the justices will conclude that the right to an abortion does not exist in the Constitution. If this happens, the question of the legality of abortion will most likely return to the states. While this is the most likely outcome of a pro-life ruling in Dobbs, a person’s right to life should not be contingent upon majority vote. Sadly, the Post/ABC public opinion poll should be a sign to pro-lifers that the work to educate the public and protect the most vulnerable is far from complete.

Our first step must be recognizing that God, the author of life, must be at the center of our efforts to defend life. And so, we hope you will join us on November 28 at 7:00 CT as we join with pro-lifers around the country to pray for an end to abortion. We hope you will join us, either in person or via livestream. Please visit PrayTogetherForLife.com for more information.

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Enes Kanter Proves Professional Athletes Can — and Should — Stand Up to China

by Arielle Del Turco

November 18, 2021

The Boston Celtics’ Enes Kanter has been using his fame and social media accounts to publicly confront the Chinese government for its egregious human rights abuses. Over the past few weeks, the basketball star has released videos calling out “brutal dictator” General Secretary Xi Jinping for assaulting the rights of Tibetans, Uyghurs, Hong Kongers, and Taiwan. Kanter’s advocacy on these issues is unusual for a professional athlete, especially given China’s large sports market. By speaking up, Kanter is proving that athletes can confront the world’s most powerful authoritarian government. More should follow his example.

Last week, Kanter told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that when he recently took to the basketball court with shoes painted with the slogan “Free Tibet,” NBA staff members pleaded with him to take them off. But when he asked if he was breaking any rules, they replied that he was not. Kanter kept the shoes on, but he was not put in to play for the duration of the game. In response to Kanter’s advocacy, Celtics games were cut from the Chinese streaming service Tencent, which pays the NBA more than $1 billion.

Kanter said NBA commissioner Adam Silver had sat down with him regarding his newfound advocacy. To his credit, Silver said the NBA would support Kanter. But Kanter expressed concern regarding how strong that support would truly be, noting that the NBA has not put out a statement defending his right to speak up for human rights. Regardless, this promise from Silver is an improvement over past NBA behavior. The NBA showed notorious cowardice in 2019 when it pressured Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey to retract a tweet he had posted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protestors. 

Of course, many professional athletes have spoken in favor of woke social campaigns in the United States, but Kanter is the first to target the Chinese government. Yet, Kanter isn’t new to confronting dictators. Kanter is Turkish and began speaking up against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s arbitrary imprisonment of political dissidents years ago. In return, his Turkish passport was revoked, and his family members in Turkey were harassed by local authorities. Yet, even during years of speaking out about Turkey’s human rights issues, Kanter never encountered resistance from the NBA until he turned his attention to China.

Chinese leaders work hard to suppress criticisms of its human rights record, not just at home but around the world. Using access to the Chinese market as leverage over American businesses, the Chinese government seeks to shape international discourse in its favor. Hollywood studios change their movies to satisfy the Chinese government and show their films in the world’s largest movie market. American corporations are threatened with the loss of Chinese revenues if they do not lobby the U.S. Congress against bills that enhance America’s competitiveness.

Even American officials don’t demonstrate Kanter’s level of courage. Just last week, a reporter asked President Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry whether he raised the issue of human rights abuses against Uyghurs in Xinjiang with his Chinese counterparts. He responded, “That’s not my lane.” Kerry is a high-level U.S. diplomat, and his “lane” is to represent America’s interests, which include the promotion of human rights. It’s irresponsible to do anything less. Yet, pressure from Kerry’s Chinese counterparts has sparked debate within the Biden administration about whether softer messaging on China’s human rights issues will secure a better climate deal with Chinese leaders. While the Biden administration wrestles with moral confusion, Uyghurs continue to suffer.

The tendency of American businesses and officials to shy away from confronting China makes Kanter stand out. But he doesn’t have to be alone. Kanter’s continued advocacy has not had negative professional repercussions so far. Even in the event that it does cost him, Kanter is ready. In a tweet addressing the Chinese Communist Party, he said, “You can NOT buy me. You can NOT scare me. You can NOT silence me.”

For China-focused human rights activists, Kanter is a breath of fresh air. One that is deeply inspiring and greatly appreciated. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen even thanked Kanter for supporting Taiwan’s democratic government. This should encourage other professional athletes and public figures to follow suit.

Despite widespread fear about speaking out against the Chinese government, Kanter proves that it can be done. Athletes can and should use their influence to advocate on issues that matter, even when that means standing up to a powerful regime known for bullying individuals and businesses around the world. For the victims of the Chinese government whose pleas for help are too often met with timidity or apathy, Kanter and others like him can do a world of good.

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5 Bible Passages That Affirm the Personhood of the Unborn

by Rachael Tracy

November 17, 2021

From the uncertain fate of the Texas Heartbeat Act to the upcoming oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that could overturn Roe v. Wade, abortion continues to be a hot-button issue in America. As the country awaits the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in these cases, Christians should take the time to consider what exactly the Bible teaches on the subject of human dignity and abortion. Here are several Scripture passages that affirm life beginning in the womb and the personhood of the unborn child.

1. Psalm 139:13-16

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

King David’s exposition of how God dealt with him while he was still in his mother’s womb is perhaps the most well-known and frequently cited passage of Scripture pertaining to the pro-life argument. David’s usage of the personal pronouns “my” and “I” demonstrates an unquestioning assumption of his unborn self’s personhood. Furthermore, David uses the word “wonderful” to describe the gestation process more than once. This word choice emphasizes the intentionality of the process of fetal development; God is present in the smallest parts of our lives, even before we are born.

2. Luke 1:39-45

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would beg a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

This passage affirms the personhood and value of the unborn in several ways. First, Elizabeth calls Mary a mother, despite Mary being in the very early stages of her pregnancy. Second, upon hearing Mary’s voice, the unborn John the Baptist leaps for joy in Elizabeth’s womb, meaning John is a person capable of emotion. Third, John’s reaction also means he was capable of recognizing Mary’s voice and acknowledging the unborn Messiah even in utero. Fourth, this encounter represents a partial fulfilment of John’s life purpose: to herald the arrival of Jesus as the Messiah. Even before he was born, John had begun to fulfill his life’s calling. Finally, Elizabeth also affirms the deity of Jesus when she refers to Him as her Lord and again when she and John are filled with the Holy Spirit in the mere presence of prenatal Jesus. It makes the important point that Jesus’ incarnation did not begin at birth but conception.

3. Jeremiah 1:4-5

Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

God’s call of the prophet Jeremiah is yet another example of the Bible acknowledging the personhood of the unborn. God consecrated Jeremiah and appointed him to be a prophet while he was still in his mother’s womb. Before Jeremiah was even born, God already had a plan for his life. Not only that, but God said He personally formed Jeremiah and knew him in utero.

4. Psalm 51:5-6

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you desire truth in the inward being, you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

In this psalm, David is asking God for forgiveness after committing adultery with Bathsheba. While David is laying his sin before God, he begins to trace his sin to its origin, concluding that he has always been a sinner, even from when he was in his mother’s womb. The personal pronouns used by David to describe his time in the womb also point to his agency and personhood. As an unborn baby, David was not an impersonal entity, but a person with the agency to be a sinner—and a person desired by God.

5. Judges 13:3-5

And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. Therefore be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.”

Here, an angel tells Manoah’s wife that she will conceive and give birth to Samson, who will be a Nazarite “from the womb,” meaning God had a plan for Samson prior to and from the moment of his conception. Nazarites were Israelites whose lives were consecrated to the service of God (Num. 6). Samson’s mother is even instructed to follow the same restrictions a Nazarite must follow while she is pregnant with Samson. The angel uses the personal pronouns “his” and “he” when talking about the boy’s Nazarite status, providing both personhood and agency to a preborn Samson. The plan for Samson’s life, the personal language used to refer to him, and his vocation while in utero all point to Samson being a person known and wanted by God before he was born.

Considering all these verses, it is clear that the Bible is undoubtedly pro-life (even more passages are discussed in the FRC publication “Biblical Principles for Pro-Life Engagement”). The Bible might lack an explicit statement that abortion is morally indefensible, but the principles displayed in these and many other verses point to a God who has intentionally created us all with a plan. He knows and loves each person before they are even born. As we approach the Dobbs oral arguments, Christians must be prepared to stand and defend unborn life and should work to end the scourge of abortion. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

Rachael Tracy is an intern at FRC’s Center for Biblical Worldview.

**On Thursday, November 18th at 8 pm EDT, FRC is participating in a church-led initiative to pray for the upcoming Dobbs case. You can learn more about this free event and sign up at PrayforDobbs.com.

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Biden’s State Department Slips Abortion into Human Rights Report

by Arielle Del Turco

November 16, 2021

Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department made a minor change to its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. Although the media largely ignored the move, the change adds to the ongoing shift in U.S. human rights advocacy taking place during the Biden administration. Its consequences could be far-reaching.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken reinstated an Obama-era addition to the State Department human rights report—reporting on foreign countries’ laws and programs regarding abortion and contraception. The new addendum to the 2020 report released in March now features sub-sections on “reproductive rights” in the individual evaluations of every member country of the United Nations.

The term “reproductive rights” is code for abortion, and its use in official U.S. human rights reports is inappropriate. A “right” to abortion is nowhere to be found in international human rights law; meanwhile, the right to life certainly is. Now, American allies like Poland—known for being a great protector of human rights and champion of freedom—will receive a slap on the wrist at the hands of the State Department’s report for having pro-life protections. This is occurring even as authoritarian regimes like North Korea and China continue conducting forced abortions on vulnerable women, constituting a grave human rights abuse.

You might be thinking: how much harm can an annual State Department report that most Americans don’t even know about really do? As it turns out, a lot.

State Department reports set the tone for U.S. human rights advocacy and are frequently referenced by NGOs and international bodies. The topics that the United States chooses to cover in these reports conveys to the rest of the world what the United States considers human rights and what type of human rights issues our foreign policy will prioritize. These reports could also help guide discussions that U.S. diplomats have with their counterparts regarding human rights.

When announcing the reporting change, State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters, “We reaffirm our full commitment to promote and protect the sexual and reproductive health of all individuals, recognizing the essential and transformative role they play in gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment around the world.” This is a false and damaging narrative for women. Instead of leveling the playing field, legalized abortion pressures women into viewing their children as enemies of their success. Abortion is not necessary to ensure equality—having equal protections and rights under the law are.

Rather than monitoring (and by doing so, implicitly promoting) access to abortion around the world, the State Department should re-focus its efforts on addressing the truly pressing human rights abuses that are unique to women and girls. Currently, the forced marriages of young women from religious minority communities are all too common in Pakistan. Uyghur women in Xinjiang are being forcibly sterilized and undergoing devastating forced abortions. And Afghan girls are being sold by starving parents and barred from going to school. These are some of the serious human rights crises that women and girls are facing around the world today, and the State Department should be paying closer attention and taking action.

On his popular daily podcast, Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, criticized the State Department’s inclusion of “reproductive rights” in its reports, saying, “It is a morally grotesque corruption of the idea of human rights… And it’s unhinged from any kind of understanding of the origin of rights coming from outside human beings ourselves.”

By their very nature, human rights preexist the state. They are not granted by governments; governments merely choose whether or not they will respect them. This preexistence is why diverse governments representing vastly different cultures can agree to the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). It is also why the United States and other free countries can confidently advocate for human rights around the world. It’s not an imposition on cultural differences to stand up for human rights. Rather, it’s an acknowledgment of the human dignity of each person. We advocate for human rights around the world because we aim to protect rights that every person already has by virtue of their humanity.

The rights recognized by the UDHR include freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; freedom of opinion and expression; and the right to life, liberty, and security of person. The “right” to end the life of a preborn child through abortion clearly doesn’t belong in this list. The profound importance of human rights makes the promotion of new rights invented by activists or politicians inappropriate and damaging.

The United States must preserve the integrity of human rights advocacy in its annual reports and all other aspects of its foreign policy. We can start by making sure the State Department’s annual reports monitor what they purport to monitor—human rights.

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