FRC Blog

Hollywood, The Hunt, and the Need for Self-Restraint

by Daniel Hart

August 16, 2019

Does Hollywood actually possess some amount of self-restraint? In the wake of the horrifying mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso, Universal Pictures announced that it would “cancel” the release of The Hunt, a movie about people who are politically liberal hunting down and killing other people who are politically conservative (who later get revenge by killing the liberals in return). The film’s original title was Red State Vs. Blue State.

But wait. Universal is actually reserving the right to release the film at a later date, presumably when the public outcry over the film has subsided. So much for self-restraint.

Artistry Flourishes Within Boundaries

It would be very interesting to be a fly on the wall in the room where executives at Universal decided to go ahead and finance a movie like The Hunt. Out of all the movie scripts to choose from, out of all the historical and creative subject matter that could have been crafted into a compelling film, Universal decided that a movie about people murdering other people for sport based on their political views was the one to make.

It appears that the general principle that guides Hollywood these days is that if a movie script is predicted to make money at the box office, it should be made, no matter what the actual content of the movie is. The excuse that Hollywood often uses is “creative license,” where any idea—no matter how twisted and debased—can be made into a movie. This is not only deeply disturbing, morally offensive, and degrading to society, it’s also not a good recipe for a well-crafted movie with any redeemable merit.

During most of Hollywood’s Golden Age (1920 – 1960), there was a code of guidelines (called the “Motion Picture Production Code”) that filmmakers followed regarding the content of their movies, which included rules for how sensitive subject matters like sex or murder could be portrayed. The code included a number of antiquated rules such as a prohibition against scenes of childbirth, but for the most part, the rules merely guarded against the positive portrayal of gratuitous sex, violence, drug use, and other obvious societal evils.

Did this code end up suppressing the creativity and artistry of Hollywood? Quite the contrary. During this period, Hollywood produced what are considered to be some of the greatest and most iconic films of all time, including Citizen Kane, Sunset Boulevard, On the Waterfront, It Happened One Night, From Here to Eternity, Double Indemnity, Vertigo, Ben-Hur, and It’s a Wonderful Life, to name just a few.

I’m not suggesting that we should return to this kind of official content censorship being enforced on all films. I’m merely pointing out that filmmakers can make great movies while still practicing self-restraint in what they choose to put on film.

Evil is the Result of Unrestrained “Freedom”

Somewhere along the line, probably in the late 60’s, many filmmakers stopped believing that they had any responsibility for what they exposed the public to. In times past, particularly during the aforementioned Golden Age of Hollywood, there was an understood expectation that a movie would always have some kind of redeeming value for society. In other words, a film could deal with extremely serious and even disturbing subject matter, but in the end, there was always some kind of insight gained about the human condition that was edifying for the audience. There was an implicit understanding that the whole point of art itself is to portray inherent truths about the nature of humanity and existence in new, imaginative, and enriching ways.

This is in stark contrast to what many movies and TV shows do today. In the name of “realism” and “free expression,” murders are shown in full and unnecessary gratuitous detail, sex scenes and nudity are clearly used for titillation instead of suggestion, and vile profanity and blasphemy is spewed unflinchingly and continuously without a second thought. All of this is often included in modern films and shows without any thought to how it might negatively affect the minds and behaviors of the viewing public.

But something much more insidious and disturbing is now happening. With movies like The Hunt, we are seeing humanity’s darkest and most evil tendencies being dredged up from the depths of our basest subconscious imaginings and being made into a movie. In other words, our darkest and most evil human instincts are being expertly filmed and acted out by Hollywood’s professional directors, cinematographers, and actors and being presented to society for public consumption.

When creative license is left to its own totally unrestrained devices, this is often the result. In a society where mass shootings happen with disturbing regularity and where the coarsening of our public discourse and behavior continues unabated, making major motion pictures like The Hunt for wide release is, in a psychological sense, akin to dumping a bucket of red meat next to a pasture of sheep in the countryside where wolves are known to prowl. While I’m sure that the filmmakers of The Hunt didn’t make the movie to intentionally incite violence, do they not care about the movie contributing to a coarsening of our culture toward increased hatred and violence? Did they not think of its potential danger to inspire deranged individuals to commit violence and murder?

3 Steps to Take for Believing Viewers

As believers, we should pray often for the filmmaking and television industry, that all filmmakers, actors, and writers be given a basic sense of self-restraint. These people know in their heart of hearts that it is wrong to make movies like The Hunt, but they do it anyways to get a cheap thrill or to concede to financial and societal pressures. We must pray that their consciences guide them to make movies and TV shows that have redeemable value for society.

Second, we must put our resources where our own hearts are by supporting the aspiring artists in our own believing communities to enter the film and television industries and make a difference for true artistry that celebrates the true, the good, and the beautiful.

Third, we must carefully discern which movies we go to see at the theater and which movies and TV shows we choose to watch on platforms like Netflix and Amazon. These companies are carefully analyzing which kinds of movies and shows are the most popular so that they can make more content like them and consequently make more money. Our decisions to only watch movies and shows that have redeemable value are important in showing the industry that people actually want to see movies that have something valuable to say about the human condition instead of being mindlessly entertained by gratuitously graphic garbage.

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Pro-Life Converts: Dr. Bernard Nathanson

by Lauren Kaylor

August 14, 2019

After coming to terms with the reality of abortion, the co-founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League (which has since been renamed to NARAL Pro-Choice America) became fiercely pro-life only a few months after the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

NARAL is one of the oldest and largest abortion activist groups in America. Founded in 1969, NARAL contributed rigorous pro-choice momentum to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. Only a few months after the decision, NARAL’s co-founder and medical spokesperson, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, began a long and painful journey coming to terms with the fact that he had been incredibly wrong about abortion. Nathanson spent the rest of his life dedicated to exposing NARAL’s language distortion, lies, and deceptive strategies that have misled so many Americans into calling themselves “pro-choice.”

As an OB-GYN, Dr. Nathanson claimed responsibility for 60,000 abortions, including those performed by Planned Parenthood abortionists whom he trained. He began to grapple with the dark reality of killing children soon after he viewed a real-time ultrasound. In a 1974 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, he wrote, “I am deeply troubled by my own increasing certainty that I had in fact presided over 60,000 deaths.”

Dr. Nathanson was so troubled that he even attempted to take his own life. Thankfully, he befriended a Catholic priest who led him into a relationship with God. In 1996, he was baptized and confirmed into the Catholic Church. Nathanson wrote several books including The Hand of God: A Journey from Death to Life by the Abortion Doctor who Changed his Mind, and made documentaries including Eclipse of Reason and The Silent Scream. Until the time of his death at age 84, Dr. Nathanson tried to convince the world of the truth about abortion. On his deathbed, he instructed his friend Terry Beatley to tell Americans how and why he deceived the American Courts and public.

The Jargon of “Choice”

NARAL developed deceptive strategies in the 1960s that still loom large to this day in American colloquial discourse. Because referring to abortion as “the right to kill your unborn baby” is distasteful to the human heart, Dr. Nathanson admitted that NARAL intentionally crafted new language and slogans to make abortion sound more agreeable. NARAL framed the debate to be about the “choice” to stay pregnant. This same language of “choice” is used ubiquitously today. Interestingly, pregnant women used to always be referred to as “with child,” and it is telling that we have largely abandoned that preposition in the English language today.

Lie, Lie, Lie

Dr. Nathanson took advantage of his accolades, knowing that he could fabricate facts and figures because the public would trust him as a medical doctor. Over-calculated statistics today stem from Dr. Nathanson’s lies. In The Hand of God: A Journey from Death to Life by the Abortion Doctor Who Changed His Mind, Nathanson exposes the fabricated statistics that bolstered Roe v. Wade. According to his confessions, in the 1960s, he claimed that there were one million illegal abortions being done annually and that 5,000-10,000 women died from them every year. Nathanson later admitted that the actual figures were 98,000 illegal abortions and around 250 women that died annually. To put this in perspective, he confessed to over-estimating by over 1,000 percent the number of illegal abortions, and by 4,000 percent the number of women who died.

Another false statistic that Dr. Nathanson propagated around the time of the Roe v. Wade decision was that 60 percent of Americans wanted abortion-on-demand to be legal. In reality, this number was around 50 percent. To this day, despite 50 years of pro-choice propaganda dominating the mainstream media and Hollywood, this figure has remained largely unchanged.  

Manipulate the Catholics 

The Catholic Church has always held that life begins at conception and therefore opposes abortion. Known as “The Catholic Strategy,” a deadly political maneuver to sustain the abortion industry, Dr. Nathanson admitted that NARAL specifically preyed on and deceived Catholic politicians into supporting legalized abortion, which made it easier to convince non-Catholics to stomach the idea.

NARAL convinced Catholic leaders that they could remain “personally pro-life,” but could still vote for politicians who were pro-choice. Dr. Nathanson called this “the most brilliant strategy of all time.” Any time a Catholic politician softened their stance on abortion, NARAL emphasized the fact and blamed the Catholic Church for any woman’s death from an illegal abortion.

Abortion is Not Love

On his deathbed, Dr. Nathanson begged Terry Beatley to deliver his personal parting message: “Tell America that the co-founder of NARAL says to love one another. Abortion is not love. Stop the killing. The world needs more love. I’m all about love now.”

Beatley has honored his request by launching an educational nonprofit called the Hosea Initiative, and writing What If We’ve Been Wrong? The book exposes the abortion industry for exploiting women, killing children, having racist roots, and being inextricably connected with the deception of women.

In Dr. Nathanson’s resignation letter from NARAL in 1975, he stated:

The annual dues to NARAL are ten dollars and the hubris of certainty. Regretfully, I can no longer meet those dues.”

Lauren Kaylor is an intern for Life, Culture, and Women’s Advocacy at Family Research Council.

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Pregnant Women Aren’t Foolish. So Why Do Pro-Choicers Treat Them Like They Are?

by Bailey Zimmitti

August 12, 2019

Those dedicated to the pro-life movement understand that there are two people in need of defense in an unplanned pregnancy—the woman and her unborn child. The child’s undeniable right to life is an obvious subject of focus among pro-lifers, but the women carrying these children need attention too.

No sensible person would think that poverty and other adverse life circumstances render a person foolish or less dignified. So why does our society often treat women with unplanned pregnancies like they’re ignorant? Why do we treat these women like they need a savior to rescue them instead of like the dignified grown women that they are?

In 2017, while volunteering for a pregnancy resource center (PRC) called ABC Women’s Center in Middletown, Connecticut, I witnessed for myself the abhorrent savior complex of pro-abortion advocates. On an early Wednesday morning, our staff got word of a protest that was co-organized by NARAL Pro-Choice CT and Lady Parts Justice League as a part of the “#exposefakeclinics” campaign. What NARAL did not consider was that since we served many single mothers, and that since it was the summer when kids are not in school, the mothers always took their kids with them to come for parenting classes and other services at ABC. We didn’t want them or their children to be forcefully exposed to that kind of hurtful rhetoric. But when the mothers asked why we were asking them to reschedule, we told them the truth—and they were angry. Very angry.

And then something amazing happened: our clients asked to come and peacefully counter-protest the anti-pregnancy center protest. And we listened. We bought signs, markers, and water bottles, and our coalition of mothers and ministers were ready when NARAL arrived.

Oftentimes in the abortion debate, we talk about giving women with unplanned pregnancies a voice where they previously did not have one. That’s exactly what happened at the ABC Women’s Center in Middletown—these women spoke for themselves. But instead of listening, Connecticut’s pro-abortion activists are covering their ears. They targeted pregnancy centers again this past month with a dangerous piece of legislation aimed at undermining PRCs.

On June 6, HB7070, “An Act Concerning Deceptive Advertising Practices of Limited Services Pregnancy Centers” thankfully failed in the Connecticut State Senate after it was not called on for a vote by midnight. One of the most frustrating aspects of this debate was that the proponents of the bill could not cite a single complaint filed against any pregnancy center in the state. This clearly shows that these kinds of actions from the Left do not concern the safety and flourishing of women; they are instead focused on advancing their own agendas at any cost, even if it means stifling the voices of real women with real unplanned pregnancies.

The Left’s narrative is that “deceptive advertising” is used by pregnancy resource centers and that low-income women of color must be protected from the wicked snares of white conservative Christians. This narrative is a lie. Women with unplanned pregnancies already have individual, dignified, worthy voices—and trust me, they have plenty to say. The problem is that we are not listening.

The mothers from ABC came on that scorching day in 2017 so that the liberal elitist voices wouldn’t drown out theirs. One pro-abortion woman dressed in a superhero outfit spoke into a microphone about giving voice to the voiceless—while the very women she claimed to defend stood in front of her expressing exactly what they need and want.

Women who are facing unplanned pregnancies are not stupid, so let’s not speak for them. Let’s listen to them and to the men and women who work with and for them.

Pro-choicers have created a narrative that says that a pregnant mother’s choice to accept help to carry her unplanned baby to term isn’t a worthy choice. This is not “pro-choice”—it’s pro-abortion.

Pro-choice activists cannot continue to berate pro-lifers for “not doing anything” when the work that pro-lifers are doing to help mothers to make an informed choice is being jeopardized by legislation and activism from the same group who claims that “choice” is everything.

Bailey Zimmitti was an intern at Family Research Council.

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Tell the government what you think. Should conscience rights be protected? Should discrimination based on sex include ‘gender identity?’

by FRC

August 8, 2019

Do you ever wish that government officials had to listen to what you have to say? Comment here and they must review your comment. No, really, it’s required by federal law.

The Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is considering a rule making important changes to Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and is still taking public comments. This rule would protect the conscience rights of people of faith who have a moral objection to performing abortions. It would also undo an Obama-era regulation on Section 1557 that shoehorned “gender identity” into the definition of “sex” (as opposed to meaning just “male” and “female”).

Here’s what Family Research Council Action said in an alert on this HHS Rule:

Doctors – and patients – need your help! Here’s how: send a comment to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar! The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a proposed rule to remove old Obama Administration regulations that would prevent doctors from being able to treat patients based strictly on science, biology, and their medical judgment!

The old regulation said that “sex” means “gender identity” meaning that if a doctor didn’t affirm a patient’s self-identified gender they could be sued for discrimination. Medical judgment and what is best for the patient didn’t matter!

Just a few weeks ago a woman sadly lost her baby because she presented to the hospital as a man and she was not properly diagnosed has having pregnancy-related difficulties.

In order to help ensure that this bad regulation is replaced, HHS needs to hear from you today! By law, HHS is required to review your public comment so your voice will be heard! Even if you comment anonymously! The activists on the left are mobilizing comments and your voice is needed!

Please comment today!

Thank you!

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Speaking the Truth in Love: How The Bachelorette Got It Both Wrong and Right

by Laura Grossberndt

August 8, 2019

Is it ever okay for a Christian to question or “judge” the behavior of another person, particularly if that person also professes to be a Christian? ABC’s wildly popular reality dating show The Bachelorette, which wrapped up its 15th season last week, served as an unconventional and unexpected proving ground for this deeply theological question.

This season’s star of The Bachelorette, Hannah Brown, openly describes herself as a follower of Jesus and a woman of faith. One of her suitors, Luke Parker, is also a professing Christian. In the season premiere, Luke described the moment he decided to put his faith in Jesus and make a lifestyle change which included abstaining from sex until marriage. Luke quickly emerged as a frontrunner for the coveted “final rose” and Hannah’s love—and their seemingly shared faith was a primary reason.

The would-be couple’s budding relationship quickly turned turbulent, however, as Luke was constantly at odds with the other men seeking Hannah’s favor. But Luke’s sometimes imprudent behavior and immature reactions to interpersonal conflict were just precursors to the season’s most explosive drama: a highly-charged conversation concerning premarital sex.

We Can’t Have Grace Without Repentance

Luke wanted a verbal confirmation from Hannah that they were on the same page about saving sex for marriage. He tells Hannah that he would remove himself from the competition if she (hypothetically) were to reveal to him that she had been sexually intimate with another man on the show. Hannah then says that she has had sex with another one of her suitors, and while “sex might be a sin out of marriage,” she is confident Jesus loves her despite it.

Hannah compares Luke’s desire to end their relationship to the famous John 8 account of the woman caught in adultery. Hannah views Luke’s disapproval of her actions as him holding a metaphorical stone in front of her face. In her opinion, Luke’s sin of pride precludes him from objecting to her behavior.

Is Hannah right?

For context’s sake, here are some key takeaways from John’s account of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:2-11):

  • Jesus shone a light on the sinful nature of all those involved.
  • Jesus is the only one without sin.
  • Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery.
  • Jesus forgave the woman and instructed her to go and sin no more.

The woman caught in adultery committed sexual sin; and yes, Jesus still loved her. While Jesus, by virtue of his sinlessness, had the right to condemn sin, He does something unexpected, yet in keeping with His mission to fulfill the law. He extends grace (“neither do I condemn you”) while also instructing her to repent and change (“go and sin no more”).

Many want the grace Jesus offers without the repentance. But we cannot have one without the other. Receiving God’s grace is inextricably tied to repentance.

Avoiding Hypocritical Judgment

Can a Christian call another Christian to account for their sin? Was Luke wrong to find fault in Hannah’s actions?

In Matthew 7, Jesus warns his followers against judging others while simultaneously ignoring their own sin, because “with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”

Does that mean Christians can never judge the actions and behavior of others? No. The Apostle Paul tells the Corinthians to judge those within the church and refuse them the status of “brother” if they continue in patterns of unrepentant sin:

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13)

Speaking the Truth in Love

The act of a Christian calling another Christian to account for their sin can be a loving one, provided it is done out of a desire to help the other Christian toward righteousness, and that it is done with tenderness and humility, recognizing one’s own sinfulness and need for God’s forgiveness.

Christians (“little Christs”) get our name because we are called to follow the example of Jesus. We are called to forgive one another and pursue holiness in our personal and corporate life. It is easy to emphasize one to the neglect of the other. However, to faithfully follow Christ, we need to be walking in both forgiveness and repentance. Extending forgiveness without requiring repentance leaves someone still under the curse of sin, while repentance that is not accompanied by forgiveness is antithetical to the gospel’s offer of reconciliation with God.

Hannah and Luke’s conversation in the late stages of the show reveals they were not as likeminded on sex and theology as they initially thought. A lot of pain and heartache could have been avoided if this conversation had taken place much earlier in their relationship. Whether one is a professing Christian or not, if you have radically different opinions on sex than the person you are dating, you should not be dating them. Those irreconcilable differences will inevitably cause problems down the road.

However, in addition to their disagreements about sexual intimacy, Hannah and Luke also displayed different, improper, and inadequate reactions to sin. Hannah demonstrated lack of remorse for the actions Jesus tenderly warns against. While Luke is justified for wanting to be on the same page about sexual intimacy as his potential future spouse, his manner of approaching the topic needed more Christ-like humility and discernment. Scripture speaks to both improper perspectives:

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. (1 Timothy 5:1-2)

[S]peaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ … [L]let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. … Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:15, 25-27, 31-32)

Wisdom says a reality dating show such as The Bachelor or The Bachelorette is not the ideal environment for Christians to find a spouse. The concept of dating multiple people at one time, while being cut off from the fellowship and counsel of friends, family, and church community for several weeks, is not a recipe for righteous living or lasting love (Proverbs 18:1, Hebrews 10:24-25).

But while it may be unwise, that does not mean that those appearing on the show who profess to be Christians are not sincere in their profession. While I do not know either Hannah or Luke personally, I wish nothing but the best for them and hope this experience will drive them closer to God and to a better understanding of sin, the gospel, true love, and compassion in Jesus Christ.

This season’s viewers of The Bachelorette probably did not expect to encounter conversations about sin and the nature of God’s forgiveness. However, the contestants are real-life people wrestling with real-life problems, and it is only natural for two people contemplating marriage to want to agree on matters as weighty as theology and sex. Unfortunately, the seriousness of sin and its consequences was minimized, while the love and forgiveness of the gospel was inadequately conveyed. Despite what The Bachelorette may have led its audience to believe, Christians are right to judge the behavior of other Christians, provided we do so out of Christ-like compassion, speaking the truth in love.

Laura Grossberndt is on staff at Family Research Council.

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Isolation, White Supremacy, and Despair: A Christian Response to El Paso

by David Closson

August 7, 2019

Two horrifying mass shootings over the weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio shocked the nation and renewed an ongoing discussion about domestic terrorism, mental health, violent video games, and gun control. While details are still emerging about what motivated the Dayton shooter, a manifesto posted online by the El Paso shooter lists a litany of grievances and conspiratorial ideas underlined by white supremacist ideology.

Addressing the attacks in a speech to the nation on Monday, President Trump directly repudiated white supremacist ideology which has been linked to other domestic terrorist attacks around the world including Quebec (2017), Charlottesville (2017), Pittsburgh (2018), and Christchurch, New Zealand (2019).

The president explained, “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart, and devours the soul.”

In the wake of such tragedy, many are asking why mass shootings keep happening in America. Since Sunday, political leaders, pundits, and commentators have taken turns focusing on video games, congressional inaction, political rhetoric, the deinstitutionalization of mental health, gun laws, and the breakdown of the family.

While some of these factors may help create a toxic environment, none of them explain why mass shootings and other violent attacks occur. This is because these explanations overlook the underlying spiritual reality of human sin.

Objective Hatred Is at the Root of Ethnic Animus

Intuitively, something is clearly not right in the world; the reality of evil is evident and confronts us daily. In fact, evil is so pervasive that it is tempting to despair and become numb to the pain around us. However, the Bible explains that the intractable evil in society and our own disordered desires and corrupt wills are the result of the fall and humanity’s rebellion against God (Gen. 3). Sin separates us from God and each other.

Jesus warned about the evil that would spring from within us and be directed at fellow human beings: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matt. 15:19). He warns even against anger with one another: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment” (Matt. 5:21-22).

Tragically, one of the manifestations of sin is hatred directed toward others based on our perception that they are from a different ethnic background from us. Referring to the El Paso shooting, Albert Mohler made the connection between the human heart and this type of animus, explaining, “Hatred has an object, in this case, a human object. It appears that Hispanic immigrants were at the center of that young man’s hatred.”

The Christian worldview speaks directly to the issue of the walls our sinful hearts might erect based on skin color and ethnicity. The Bible teaches that everyone is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Additionally, the gospel is for all people; Christ died for everyone, and in him believers from every tongue, nation, and tribe are reconciled to God and each other in “one new man” (Eph. 2:14-16). In terms of access to God, the Bible is clear: distinctions based on background and ethnicity are abolished in the new covenant (Gal. 3:28-29, Col. 3:11). In heaven, people from “every nation, from all tribes and peoples and language” will praise God (Rev. 7:9). Consequently, any ideology that re-erects distinctions based on ethnicity are sinful, and most be strongly repudiated by the church.

The president is right to point out that this type of hatred “warps the mind, ravages the heart, and devours the soul.” Christians, who worship Jesus, a Middle Eastern Jewish man, must be clear that white supremacy—the absurd belief that those of European descent with lighter skin pigment are superior to others—is antithetical to the gospel and has absolutely no place in the church.

Social Isolation Dehumanizes Us

Another aspect of this story is the epidemic of young, white men who are increasingly disenchanted with society. This is clearly seen in the shooter’s manifesto where he reportedly talks of his fears that his dream job will be “automated” and that ethnic groups other than his own “will take control” of the government “to better suit their needs.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board noted this disturbing trend of young men who feel left out of society. They write, “This is the rant of someone angry about a society he doesn’t feel a part of and doesn’t comprehend. It is all-too-typical of most of these young male killers who tend to be loners and marinate in notions they absorb in the hours they spend online. They are usually disconnected to family, neighborhood, church, colleagues at work, or anything apart from their online universe.”

This disenchantment with society, fueled by a lack of meaningful community, corrodes our ability to see dignity in other people. When we fail to appreciate the value of human life, it becomes easier to engage in dehumanizing behavior. Thus, at a time when the mediating institutions that formerly provided cultural and social cohesion are in fast decline, it is imperative for Christians to cultivate a culture in their churches that prioritizes relationships with those on the social periphery who feel alone, threatened, and upset.

Welcoming All into the Family of God

Along these lines, Andrew Walker issued a challenge to Christians:

The local church must be a place where a culture of love for God’s authority, God’s creation of humanity, God’s plan for an individual’s industry, and God’s design for the family are heralded without embarrassment. The church must be a place that speaks to the patterns of American culture that are failing people. This means that the church must be a place that is less concerned with bourgeoisie sermons about coaching Americans into a happier American dream and more concerned with pulling a culture back from the cliffs of despair.

Ultimately, human sin explains why mass shootings and other tragedies continue to occur in America and around the world. Moreover, human sin is responsible for the larger spiritual crisis that threatens to destroy unity in our nation and churches along ethnic, economic, and religious divides. In these defining moments, Christians must weep with those who weep and point to the hope of the gospel. Wicked acts of violence like the mass shootings over the weekend are the effect of a deep pathology that’s only cured by a relationship with Christ and inclusion in the family of God.

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3 Reasons Why Christians Should Care When Muslims are Persecuted

by Luke Isbell

August 6, 2019

Horrifying stories like the Sri Lanka Easter attacks and the “sinicization” of Christianity in China exemplify the terrible state of persecution for Christians worldwide. Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world, and the church has drawn together to support those affected through prayer and other means. However, in the midst of internal struggle, it easy to forget to look outside of our own faith and remember those of other faiths who are persecuted in other areas of the world.

Right now, one to three million ethnic Muslim Uyghurs are being imprisoned, tortured, and killed in the western Xinjiang province of China by the Communist Party of China. In Myanmar, 1.3 million ethnic Muslim Rohingya have been displaced by what has been labeled the Rohingya Genocide which started three years ago. And in India, Hindu nationalism is sparking tremendous violence, sexual abuse, and killings against Muslims in the country.

Muslims follow closely behind Christians as the second-most persecuted faith group worldwide. There is much that the Christian community can be doing to speak out in defense of their lives, and it couldn’t come at a more defining time.

Not only are Muslims persecuted in some way or unable to freely practice their faith in 140 countries around the globe, but persecuted Muslims are regularly being abandoned by other Muslim-majority countries who refuse to speak on their behalf. In the past several days, over 50 countries have signed a letter actually voicing support for China’s “deradicalization” policies in Xinjiang, claiming they have showed economic and social progress. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan are just a few of the countries that signed the letter. In doing so, they have chosen to abandon fellow Muslims.

As the state of religious freedom grows darker around the world, a window is opening for the United States to be able to engage on it. Here are three reasons why Christians here at home should advocate for the freedom of all people around the world.

1. We Are Called to Advocacy

Christian theology equips us to see people as human and beautiful creations made by God, and leads us to fight for the God-given, unalienable rights of every human. Every person is made in the image of God, and deserves our advocacy on that basis. Helping bring others to freedom is a necessary task, but not an easy one.

Our faith also leads us to bring peace to the world. One of the many names given to Christ in Isaiah 9:6 is the Prince of Peace, and as His children, we are to mimic Him and take on His attributes. He is the sun and we are the moon, reflecting His light to a broken world. As Jesus reminds us, “[b]lessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). Just as Christ came not to save the righteous, but the broken (Mark 2:17), so are we to reach outside of the Christian church and love those who do not have Christ.

Christ sees every person as having worth and dignity, deserving to be treated as infinitely valuable human beings. What better modern example of the sacrificial, all-encompassing love of Christ is there than fighting for those who have been cast aside by the international community?

2. We Must Be Good Stewards of Our Own Blessings

Our own country has a rich history and tradition of religious freedom, which we have the duty to protect and advocate for others around the world who do not have such freedom. Our own Declaration of Independence acknowledges that all people have “certain unalienable rights” with which we are “endowed by our Creator.” The First Amendment to our Constitution provides for the “free exercise” of religion to all people and prevents the government from “establishing” an official church and requiring people to attend it. Much later, these principles were reflected in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that all have the right to “freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.”

We should hold our elected leaders accountable to uphold these freedoms at home and share them with the world. Among other things, we should ensure that trade talks with foreign nations incorporate religious freedom, and that foreign actors who violate religious freedom are sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Act or related legal authorities. Additionally, we should encourage our leaders and diplomats to actively speak on the importance of religious freedom when engaging the international community.

3. Advocating for Others Makes Them More Likely to Advocate for Us

When we speak up for others, they are more likely to speak up for us. A few weeks ago, I attended the Holocaust Museum here in Washington, D.C. One wall displayed a quote by Martin Niemöller, who was a Lutheran pastor in Germany during World War II:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

 Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

We must speak up for others, and advocate for their lives as we would advocate for our own. Someday, they may be in a position to help us.

Many people are oppressed for their faith around the world. Many Muslims live in fear of their own governments, which stand ready to stamp out any religious dissent. Fighting for freedom in these places comes at the price of lives, families, and livelihoods.

We need to stand alongside these people and speak on their behalf. Advocating for them is one of the greatest messages of love we can communicate, so let us speak for their rights.

Luke Isbell is an intern at Family Research Council.

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After 17 Years, Infants Born Alive Still Need Real Protection

by Patrina Mosley

August 5, 2019

Today (August 5th) marks the 17th anniversary of the passage of the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act of 2002, which declared that infants born alive after having survived an abortion attempt deserve all the rights and care that would be given to any other infant. After the bill easily passed Congress, most Americans no doubt assumed there would never again be a debate over whether infants born alive after a failed abortion attempt should be offered life-saving care. Yet here we are again.

Democratic politicians have gone from “safe, legal, and rare” in the 1990’s, to the “my body, my choice” mantra, to now basically, “if you like your baby, you can keep your baby.” Virginia Governor Ralph Northam seemingly endorsed infanticide, and Virginia Rep. Kathy Tran awkwardly tried to advance legislation that would allow for abortion up till the day of birth. If you call something evil (abortion) “good” for long enough, it will eventually be taken to its furthest extreme.

We are witnessing the Left’s reaction to what is arguably the most pro-life administration in modern history.

Protecting the unborn has been one of President Trump’s greatest successes. President Trump has nominated constitutional originalist judges to the U.S. Supreme Court and lower federal courts, overseen the creation of a new pro-life conscience protection division at HHS, put a stop to American tax dollars funding international abortions more than any other president (the expanded Mexico City Policy), eliminated grants for research involving fetal tissue, decoupled Title X Family Planning Funds from abortion facilities, and more.

All this has made the abortion cult angry—even to the point where they are willing to ignore pro-choice voters

For the first time ever, New York legalized on-demand abortions up to the day of birth, even repealing born-alive protections for infants who survive an abortion. But two-thirds (66 percent) of New York voters say they oppose a law allowing late-term abortion. Also, Rhode Island’s legislature expanded abortion protections by declaring it a fundamental right and blocked a bill that would provide full protections for infants born-alive if they survive an abortion attempt. Yet, 77 percent of Rhode Island voters oppose allowing abortions up until birth. Specifically, 63 percent of Democrat voters (an almost two-thirds majority) and 56 percent of voters who self-identify as pro-choice oppose late-term abortions.

According to an Americans United for Life/YouGov Survey, 77 percent of pro-choice Americans oppose removing medical care for a viable child.

Even pro-choice, Democratic voters are not so willing to say it’s okay to leave a child on the table and wait for them to die, while the doctor and mother discuss whether or not they want the child to live.

It has become clear that stronger protections are needed. Currently, there is no federal criminal statute against taking the lives of born-alive infants. This is why we need The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. It would require lifesaving medical care be given to babies born alive after failed abortion attempts and would add enforcement tools to prosecute doctors who deny life-saving medical care to infants who survive abortion. This act has been blocked more than 70 times by Congressional House Democrats. There has not been a single federal prosecution brought against an abortionist since this law was passed, even though the CDC admits that at least 143 infants died after surviving abortion.

Democratic governors have vetoed state versions of the bill in North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Montana.

But on the bright side, in states like North Carolina, Illinois, New Mexico, and Nevada, Democrats of color crossed over to vote with Republicans for born-alive protections. After all, the African-American community is the primary target of the abortion industry, and many of color in positions of power are acknowledging that.

It’s been a bewildering time in the abortion debate between what voters say they want and what Democratic legislators are pushing down their throats, but moreover, it is exceptionally disturbing for those who have actually survived abortion attempts to essentially be told that their lives don’t matter as legislators continue to block born-alive protections.  

Abortion survivors like Melissa Ohden, Josiah Presley, and Claire Culwell are living today simply because someone acted with compassion to save their lives. These are living, breathing people whose lives matter to their adoptive families, the spouses they’ve married, the children they’ve raised, and the friendships they’ve developed.

This is why we need to secure a vote on The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act by having members of Congress sign on to the discharge petition which would force a floor vote on the bill, regardless of Democratic leadership of the House. Perhaps by getting a vote on The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, we can start to rebuild the road back to human rights and human dignity.

In the meantime, please join FRC’s End Birth Day Abortion campaign to show your support for the life of all babies born alive by sending a baby hat to Congress. 

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Helping Those in Need Should Not Be Political

by Bailey Zimmitti

August 5, 2019

On Wednesday, July 24, two FRC interns joined a group of pro-life interns in the office of Representative Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) for a briefing on current pro-life topics on the Hill. Students in attendance represented various colleges, organizations, and party affiliations, but all shared a common belief in the inherent dignity of all human life.

Rep. Lipinski gave the interns a synopsis of his political career in great humility, highlighting his desire to serve his constituents above any political agenda. He admitted that he is one of the very few Democrats who votes consistently and unwaveringly pro-life despite the increasing pressure among his fellow Democrats to oppose the Hyde Amendment and to support abortion expansion bills. He emphasized the importance of standing true to what is right even in the face of strong opposition: “If it costs me being a member of Congress, that’s a small price to pay.”

I had the honor of posing a question I have asked myself many times as a student caught in the midst of a political warzone known as the modern college campus:

How can we depoliticize abortion and come together for the sake of human rights?

Building a Coalition

The pro-life population consists mostly of conservatives, but that does not mean that being pro-life is an exclusively conservative position. Rather, pro-lifers from various creeds and parties should come together for the sake of human dignity and learn how to steer discourse about abortion away from politics and towards the truth of human dignity.

Rep. Lipinski agreed that there are a number of reasons to be pro-life—believing that every human is a child created in the image of God, believing in conservatism and the preservation and protection of the family under natural law, believing in science and the undeniable reality that life begins at conception, and even being a Democrat and believing that the government’s duty to protect the most innocent and vulnerable begins with the most innocent and vulnerable—children in the womb.

He explained that we have to dispel the myth that pro-life means “anti-woman.” We have to show that pro-life is pro-woman, and that it is a position that excludes no creed or group of people.

He cited a great example of what this coming together looks like: as a part of their Bottles to the Border campaign, New Wave Feminists, a secular pro-life group founded by Destiny Hernan de la Rosa, teamed up with Abby Johnson’s And Then There Were None (ATTWN) coalition along with other pro-life groups. They asked supporters for donations on two Amazon wishlists and were overwhelmed by pro-lifers’ eagerness to give.

The first list was completed within 48 hours. By the grace of God, a member of the ATTWN shared the mission with their church and ended up sharing with the owner of a trucking company who generously donated an 18-wheeler to deliver the supplies. In order to fill the rest of the truck, they launched another wishlist, which was also speedily bought out.

The two groups had delivered $120,000 worth of supplies and over $70,000 in aid funding to various different respite centers on the southern border.

In response, many conservatives have asked Abby Johnson if her work on the border meant that she supported open border policies, to which she responded:

No, I don’t support lawlessness, I don’t support an open border, I support legal immigration, doing it the right way, but the bottom line is I don’t have the answer, I don’t know the answer, but I can deliver these wipes so that babies’ butts are clean and they’re not getting infections. And I know how to make sure that a baby can get fed, and that’s really what this is about. And that’s what it is to be the Church, to meet the needs that are right in front of us.

This Is Not Our True Country

It seems that one mistake many conservatives make is loyalty to the party over the kingdom. We belong to no one else more than we belong to our Creator. At the end of the day, no matter how much we love the United States of America—and trust me, I do—this is not our true country.

20th century writer Flannery O’Connor wrote in a famous essay entitled “The Fiction Writer and His Country” of this concept of “true country.” Her treatment of writers may well also be said of public figures as well as the average citizen invested in his country’s politics:

The writer’s value is lost, both to himself and to his country, as soon as he ceases to see that country as a part of himself, and to know oneself is, above all, to know what one lacks. It is to measure oneself against Truth, and not the other way around. The first product of self-knowledge is humility, and this is not a virtue conspicuous in any national character.

Social issues like abortion and serving at the border are not about politics—they are about human beings. Where there are people suffering, the church has a duty to serve in humility and loving kindness no matter what political no-man’s-land we must cross to do so. Democrats can fight abortion and Republicans can serve at the border, that we might all enter our true country and be greeted with these words:

‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ … ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25: 34-36, 40).

Bailey Zimmitti is an intern at Family Research Council.

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Virginia’s Governor Wants to Lock Teens in Transgenderism. Stop Him.

by Cathy Ruse

August 2, 2019

Disgraced Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has directed his Board of Counseling to punish any counselor who responds to a teen’s cry for help to accept her own physical biology. 

That’s called putting politics in front of people. 

You have heard of these bans. They’re sometimes called bans on “conversion therapy.” LGBT activists describe nightmarish scenarios of cruel methods used on “gay” people to make them “straight,” without any real evidence, to get what they really want: sweeping bans to outlaw not only cruel methods, but all therapy. Even talk therapy. 

They are speech bans, pure and simple.

Eighteen states have already thrown their teens under the bus. Democrats in Virginia have tried and failed to impose these speech bans through the legislative process. So Northam is doing it through the back door, through executive branch planned regulations.

They ban speech about unwanted same-sex attraction, but also about unwanted transgender feelings.

The regulations would ban talk therapy that “seeks to change” a young person’s “gender identity,” including “efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions.”

Gosh, that almost sounds like these regulations would stop Fairfax County public school “sexperts” from trying to convince little boys that they might really be girls. 

But read on. The regulations specify that the ban does not prohibit counseling “that provides assistance to a person undergoing gender transition” or that provides “acceptance” and “support” for a person’s “identity exploration.” 

You got that? It’s a one-way street. Under Northam’s ban, counselors are only allowed to use words that promote transgenderism—they cannot use words to help someone avoid it. 

As a philosophical matter, this is outrageous. Its legality is dubious.

But look at the real-world impact of this policy.

Say a girl suffers from gender dysphoria. Say at some point she “socially transitions” to living as a boy. Maybe she got the idea in her Fairfax County Sex Ed class. Now she wants help living as a girl. 

Governor Northam wants to make sure she can’t get it. 

Ah, but if she wants help living as a manthat she can find. 

It’s a one-way ratchet. It’s the Hotel Transgender. You can check in, but you can never leave.

If you live in Virginia, you can tell Governor Northam what you think of his proposed regulations. He is playing politics with real people’s lives. And partisan politics should not be used to ban biology-affirming counseling for patients who want it. 

August 7th is the deadline to offer comments on the initial stage of the planned regulations. 

Please go to the Virginia Town Hall website HERE, click on “Enter a comment,” and tell Northam’s Board why this counseling ban is a very bad idea!

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