Month Archives: March 2019

Religious Displays Should Be On–Not Off–the Table

by Family Research Council

March 19, 2019

In New Hampshire, an activist group has demanded the removal of a POW/MIA Remembrance Table located in the public space of a VA hospital because the table contains a Bible. The hospital, however, is perfectly within its rights to maintain the display. First Liberty, a religious liberty law firm representing the nonprofit that arranged the remembrance table, wrote a letter urging the facility to continue to honor the memory of those soldiers who never returned home.

The public display of items or symbols of religious significance is well within the ambit of constitutional government action. The problem is that the military, like any industry in the public sphere, is vulnerable to privatization. Privatization is the phenomenon that religion is expected to remain exclusively in the home or house of worship and to not affect how one carries oneself in public life, including one’s profession.

It is commonly argued that religious symbols should be removed from public property to accommodate all religions and remain “neutral.” While we should be respectful and accommodating of all faiths, the removal of religion symbols from the public square—which enables privatization—is not the answer.

In Fort Wayne, Indiana, actions by the local VA hospital hit a nerve with at least one veteran. FRC spoke with a concerned vet who expressed dismay at a recent decision by the hospital to remove the Christian iconography that previously adorned its in-house chapel. This same hospital, for one day last year, lowered the branch flags outside its building and raised an LGBT flag, apparently without the consultation of the vets staying at the facility.

Symbols like crosses are not alien to military chapels, though the VA does give individual facilities discretion in how to operate themselves in this area. The response to an increasingly pluralistic society, however, should rarely be the removal of all religious symbols from a common area. This fosters privatization. Instead, we should respond with openness to the representation of other faiths—not the extraction of faith—from the public square.

Women Naturally Embrace Motherhood, And That’s Just Fine

by Alyson Gritter

March 18, 2019

A few weeks ago, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez decided to take to Instagram Live and make a statement about the environment, but instead ended up raising a question about motherhood. It was a question that, frankly, was irresponsible for a public figure, let alone a member of Congress, who wields so much influence and power, to subject our society to. In the video, she said, “There’s scientific consensus that the lives of children are going to be very difficult, and it does lead, I think, young people, to have a legitimate question, you know, ‘Is it okay to still have children?’”

The statement, fueled by her own personal agenda, points to a much bigger issue that is affecting our country. Regardless of her intentions, AOC is discrediting women everywhere by questioning their natural desire to have children and also questioning the responsibility of having children in today’s society. There is already a huge stigma around women who long for motherhood and pursue having a family over having a career.

On Fox News, Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women of America, fired back at AOC’s comment: “[This is] the same apoplectic anti-child rhetoric we’ve heard before.” Such radical anti-children comments are smearing the earnest intentions and desires of women all over the U.S. whose greatest ambition is to be a mother. For many, including myself, the calling to be a parent is the most important thing they will ever realize in their life.

Women who place their focus on motherhood and raising a family are often looked down upon in today’s pop culture. Television shows like Sex and the City, Vampire Diaries, and Two and a Half Men and movies like How to be Single, No Strings Attached, and He’s Just Not That into You glamorize casual dating and make parenthood seem like a trap, implying that by having children, a woman can no longer fulfill her career ambitions and be fully empowered as a woman because she has a baby to care for and nurture.

Women who choose to seek motherhood or to be a stay-at-home mom are viewed as weaker than those who stick to their career and don’t pursue marriage and a family. Women are falling for the lie that they must be self-dependent and self-sufficient to be fulfilled.

Sarrah Le Marquand, Editor-in-Chief of the Australian magazine Stellar, once wrote, “There’s one issue guaranteed to trigger hysteria across the nation … It’s the topic of stay-at-home mums. More specifically, the release of any data or analysis that dares recommend Australian women should get out of the living room/kitchen/nursery and back into the workforce.” Jody Day, author of Living the Life Unexpected, denigrated motherhood by stating, “As we continue to delve into a realm where childlessness is not just a choice, but a common part of our culture, perhaps the glorification of motherhood will start to disintegrate.”

The horrifying reality is that society today no longer wants to celebrate and give God the glory for the gift of motherhood, which is a natural blessing of womanhood. This cultural shift is showing in the falling number of women having children. According to a recent study, the average number of children women are having in their lifetime has fallen from 4.7 in 1950 to 2.4 in 2017.

Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, addressed the reason for this trend when he said, “There is no getting around the fact that the relationship between gender equality and fertility is very strong.” He elaborated: “There are no high-fertility countries that are gender equal.” Many assume that a woman chooses to have more children or stay at home because there is a lack of gender equality. No one appreciates the woman whose main “career goal,” her greatest personal achievement, is to be a mother, even a stay-at-home mother.

In college, I had a close friend who confided to me that she felt hopeless and alone because she felt that her greatest calling in life was to be a mother. My sweet friend was very much single with little to no relationship prospects. She told me, “Everyone keeps pushing me to a more realistic goal to work towards, and I feel like they think me building a career is the most important thing in my life. It is only a secondary goal for me.”

My friend made it clear to me that to the world, having a successful career is the primary goal, but for many women of God, it is only secondary. Like her, my main calling in life is to grow and raise a God-fearing and honoring family. Every other goal, including my career goals, will fall into place around it. So, how can we as godly women not be discouraged in this pro-singleness culture?

Many in our culture seem to think that motherhood is the end of your life, but it isn’t. It is the end of living for yourself. Motherhood is often a thankless job, and many feminists don’t want to give up the worldly career recognition that often has to be given up when motherhood is placed first.

I believe wholeheartedly that mothers should be honored and cherished. They deserve recognition and praise for everything that they do. Regardless though, being a mom requires self-sacrifice, and frankly, that is something that the feminist movement does not want to accept. To them, it means giving up a career position, title, and status.

Motherhood is about laying down one’s ambition for the sake of their children and putting their needs, wants, and futures first. As women, motherhood is not about giving up our strength but about utilizing it for the sake of others. It is about embracing our vulnerability to be a woman and a mother.

Alyson Gritter is an intern at Family Research Council.

 

Interview: Pro-Life Rhode Island Student Says She Couldn’t Stay Silent

by Patrina Mosley

March 15, 2019

Many of us still can’t believe we have to have a debate over whether it’s okay to kill a child up until the day of birth—and now even after birth! It may seem like we are in dark times, coincidently at a time when we have one of the most pro-life administrations ever in office.

In the last two years, we have seen significant pro-life turnarounds, and the abortion business feels threatened. As the forces of darkness are emboldening lawmakers, that aggressiveness is also emboldening ordinary Americans and churches to take a pro-life stand.

Take, for instance, Melissa Cifuentes, a Rhode Island college student who testified against her state’s new radical abortion bill. It all started with her pastor having enough of the culture of death. When his own state decided to follow in the footsteps of New York’s birthday abortion law, he encouraged his flock to get up and speak up!

Thank you to churches like this who are empowering their members to engage the culture with truth, justice, and boldness. Watch our interview with Melissa to see how that message resulted in her becoming a willing servant of God and a voice for the voiceless.

As states are pushing their own extreme abortion laws, it’s been a battle just to get Congress to have a vote on whether or not a child who is born alive after a failed abortion attempt should be given reasonable medical care or be left to die! All newborns should be protected and cared for, but gaps in the law put some babies who are born alive in danger.

This is why we have launched our “End Birth Day Abortion” campaign, designed to call attention to this atrocity and pass the Born-Alive Survivor’s Protection Act. For every donation of $9, we’ll deliver one baby hat on your behalf to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Every elected leader of our country—whether Democrat or Republican—should be made to answer for where they stand on this issue, for it is a moral, not a political, issue. Join Americans across the nation in sending a powerful reminder that young lives should be welcomed with the warmth of a baby hat, not death.

Praying for Our Leaders

by Peyton Holliday

March 12, 2019

Here at Family Research Council, we have been reading through Carter Conlon’s book It’s Time to Pray. Prayer has been a focus at FRC since the beginning, but we are renewing that focus this year. In Conlon’s book, he highlights stories of how people’s lives have been changed by prayer. He shows us how people live out the verse in James: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (5:16).

We as Christians in the United States should be praying for our leaders in authority over us. In the book of 1 Timothy, we are told to pray for our leaders: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” We need to pray that our leaders will have wisdom (Proverbs 3:13) and will surround themselves with counsellors (Proverbs 15:22). Here are some great scripture passages to pray over our leaders from the book of Proverbs:

  1. Lord, may our leaders guide our nation in what is right, just, and fair (1:3).
  2. May they understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God (2:5).
  3. Above all, may our leaders trust in God with all their heart and not lean on their own understanding (3:5).
  4. As they interact with those around them, may they avoid all perverse talk and a deceitful mouth (4:24).
  5. Lord, may our leaders not be afraid of sudden disaster (3:25) and make wise decisions in the face of a disaster.
  6. As our leaders make both life and political decisions, may they ponder the path of their feet (4:26).
  7. I pray that our leaders will not be wise in their own eyes, but fear the Lord and turn away from evil (3:7).
  8. Lord, may they find favor and understanding in the sight of God and man (3:4).
  9. As our leaders make national and local decisions, may they listen to wisdom and be secure without fear of evil (1:33).
  10. May our leaders do their work pure and right (20:11).
  11. Thank you, Father for those that you have placed in authority over us. May you remind us to pray for them and never give up remembering that our leader’s hearts are turned by you and you turn them however you please (21:1). Amen.

It is our duty as Christians to respect the authority over us (Romans 13:1-7). I think we would have an easier time respecting those in authority if we prayed for our leaders on a daily basis. Prayer, as small of a task and as insignificant as many think it to be, can change the world. If more Christians would daily, hourly, and without ceasing pray for our leaders, our nation and the world would be a different place.

Peyton Holliday is an intern at Family Research Council.

Washington State Shuns Houses of Worship

by Family Research Council

March 11, 2019

There is a new reality for churches and religious organizations in Washington state. Thanks to a law passed with the help of Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, any employer that wants to provide group health insurance for its employees must provide a plan that covers abortions and abortifacients.

Think there is an exemption for churches or other religious organizations with religious objections to such coverage? Think again. While there are numerous exemptions, religious exemptions are not available for such employers.

So, when Cedar Park Assembly of God decided that it wanted to provide high quality group health insurance for its employees, it learned that it really only had three options:

  1. Violate its religious beliefs
  2. Violate the law
  3. Drop this crazy idea of providing health insurance for its employees like a hot potato

Fortunately, First Amendment law firm Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Cedar Park Assembly of God for this violation of religious conscience rights. ADF Legal Counsel Elissa Graves stated:

No church should be coerced to pay for abortions, least of all a church that dedicates its ministry to protecting and celebrating life. Cedar Park believes and teaches that every human life begins at conception and is worthy of protection at every point until natural death. Further still, Cedar Park demonstrates its pro-life ethic in tangible ways: partnership with a local pregnancy care center, hosting an annual camp for children in foster care, operating a school that serves over 1,000 students, and ministering to hundreds of couples struggling with infertility. The state of Washington has no business strong-arming this church, or any other, into contradicting the deeply held beliefs that motivate its ministry.

The law was passed under the notion that so-called “restrictions” on abortion coverage (which, in this case, means absence of compelled coverage) interfere with the “constitutionally protected right to safe and legal medical abortion care.” What about the principles of religious freedom?

When the state of Washington enacted this bill without any religious conscience protections for houses of worship like Cedar Park, it created a moral standard that said that a faith-based pro-life ethic is not worth protecting. It said that only the government’s morals—not morals derived from a source higher than government—should prevail. This bill is a clear violation of the principles of the First Amendment and is being rightfully challenged.

What the Rise of the “Anti-Hero” in Entertainment Says About Our Culture

by Kim Lilienthal

March 11, 2019

A new hallmark of this generation is the elevation of the “anti-hero” in our entertainment. The anti-hero is an archetypal character used in storytelling who lacks conventional heroic attributes and ethics. Because they do not ascribe to the upstanding values and morals of traditional heroes, they often cross into the realm of the villainous. They are driven by classically negative inspirations: selfishness, loss, jealousy, pride, and hate, to name a few.

The anti-hero has been featured in popular films and stories before (think Han Solo or Watchmen’s Rorschach), but in more recent years, we have seen a massive influx of these characters into our entertainment. Just look at any highly rated show or film that has been released in the past ten years, and it will most likely feature an anti-hero as the main character: Breaking Bad, Mad Men, House, Sons of Anarchy, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, and several Marvel favorites, such as Jessica Jones, Deadpool, Venom, Daredevil, Wolverine, and the Punisher. These are just a few examples from the growing list.

But what is so fascinating about this type of character that they are now taking over our TVs and movie theaters?

Simply put, the anti-hero appeals to the dark realities of human experience far more than the classic upstanding hero ever could. He is more complex and has motivations that are more relatable to the human experience. Walter White, for all his terrible deeds throughout Breaking Bad, remains a sympathetic character to many fans of the show, even to the very end, because we were able to witness, step by step, his descension from a relatively normal family man into a violent and prideful criminal. He makes awful, morally bankrupt choices, and yet there is still something inside us that wants to see him succeed. 

It is interesting that we, as a culture, have decided to embrace this kind of chaotic neutral character over the lawful good. Why is this shift occurring?

Moral Ambiguity

As religious belief in the west continues to decline, questions of ethics become more and more difficult to answer, and the lines between right and wrong become blurred. We find ourselves in an age when we can’t decide whether men are men or women are women, or whether an infant is a person, and this overall lack of cultural moral discernment is reflected in our anti-heroes. The anti-hero does not operate under a code of ethics; he simply does whatever is most useful to his goals at the time, whether it helps someone or hurts them.

This introduces the concept that any action can be rationalized when seen from the right perspective. Our popular stories no longer draw stark lines between good and evil; they instead push the concept that people’s lives are too complex, the decisions they make too influenced by circumstance, to be able to cast moral judgments on their actions. When seen from a different perspective, actions that are understandable to one person might be completely abhorrent to another. There is no “good guy” to stand for justice and beat the “bad guy,” because who’s to say that the good guy isn’t actually a judgmental tyrant who is forcing his own ideals onto others?

Disillusionment with Idealism

The anti-hero also represents a sense of disillusionment with idealism: Corruption is being uncovered everywhere we look—in politics, in entertainment, in the church, and in our own families. Trust in authority figures who claim to be virtuous has been all but obliterated, as those who were supposed to be the best among us are revealed to be the worst.

Because of this disillusionment, this generation, probably more than any other, is more interested in seeing the world for what it is, rather than what it could be, and this paradigm is reflected in the anti-hero. The ideal of the morally upstanding hero has been replaced with a more realistic, more flawed protagonist. He doesn’t operate under any “unfounded” higher principles. He is a pragmatist who doesn’t ascribe to ideals because they only get in the way. He doesn’t pretend to be virtuous, but accepts the darkness within himself and unapologetically uses it to his advantage. And we, the modern audience, don’t care if he is morally compromised as long as he is effective.

An Antidote to Hopelessness

In the end, the celebration of the anti-hero reflects a sense of resignation in our culture to cast off morals and ideals as unrealistic and inconvenient. But what it does not account for is that it takes considerably more strength and resolve to remain idealistic in an increasingly cynical world. When the going gets tough and the world is against you, is it not more difficult and more rewarding to stand firm in your beliefs rather than dropping them as soon as they are tested?

This is why a foundation of faith and belief in something greater than ourselves is vital. It provides the antidote to hopelessness and moral ambiguity. Ideals are crucial to a life of meaning, because they allow us to set our sights on an existence outside of our own and work toward becoming everything God intended us to be.

Kim Lilienthal is an intern at Family Research Council.

Women: Achieving Balance from the One Who Gives Us Worth

by Patrina Mosley

March 8, 2019

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “Balance for Better.” Interestingly enough, achieving a better balance in the way we as women are thinking about cultural issues today may be the cure for feminist woes against God, men, and the world.

#MeToo and “Every Woman Deserves to Be Believed”

For some women, the #MeToo movement has been a blessing. But when taken to its extreme form of “every woman deserves to be believed,” it has been a curse. Just ask Ashley Kavanaugh, who had to watch her husband get accused of sexual misconduct on national television with no corroborating evidence. The blessing of the #MeToo movement is that it has exposed sexual abuse and helped bring long overdue justice to victims. However, saying “every woman deserves to be believed” does not make up for all the years when women were not believed, and it certainly hurts women who have husbands, fathers, and sons who are wrongfully accused. A better balance could be achieved by going after the truth so that there can be justice. Without that, we get people with personal vendettas seeking vengeance against someone who might be innocent.

Biology

Women: if we don’t get biology right, we can say goodbye forever to womanhood. “Anything you can do, I can do better” seems to be on a never-ending loop when it comes to modern feminism—even to the point of denying science. Adding and taking away body parts or hormones will not change the XX and XY chromosomes that God put in place and called good. Researchers have already discovered that we have thousands of genomes in the body that act differently based on our sex—from muscle mass, fat tissue, heart activity, reproductive functions, diseases and treatment, metabolism, and so much more.

There is nothing wrong with being distinct. In fact, when it comes to matters of strength, there are some women who are definitely stronger than men, but on average that is not the case—and that’s okay! A balance for better is valuing the diversity men and women bring to the table. We all love diversity, right? I don’t know about you, but I would rather have the ability to give life to the world than be able to bench press 400 pounds or carry a man on my back in combat any day.

Womanhood

Playing the “anything you can do, I can do better” game does not make us better or more valuable. In fact, studies show that it doesn’t even make us happier. While we may want to glamorize weekends of one-night-stands, independence, corporate-climbing, and the legal right to kill our children, none of these things make us equal with men. All we are doing is emulating the sins and misplaced priorities generally associated with men. A better balance can be found in applying the standard of what is right, not what we think is equal.

Sex is for marriage, and sexual fulfillment for both men and women is at its greatest in the context of a committed relationship. When it comes to independence, could it be that women are not happier because they alone shoulder the burden of working, taking care of the kids—and oh yeah—finding time to sleep? Two people are better off than one because they can help each other succeed, whether that be at home or in the workplace.

With abortion, we rage against our own nature to nurture and thereby give men free sex with no responsibility. As politicians seem to endorse infanticide, can we silently stand by and not protect our littlest ones? Their birthday should be met with love and care, not death. You can advocate for their lives and send a message through efforts like the “End Birth Day Abortion” campaign.

From Disney princess movies to even Fifty Shades of Grey, we all want a man who is enamored by us, committed to us, and would die for us. But giving our consent to the hook-up culture, abortion, and being married to our jobs is a great deal only for the man who doesn’t want to stick around, not for us.

We ultimately achieve a better balance when we remember that men and women alike have equal access to God through Jesus Christ, pointing us toward what is good and right instead of opaquely “equal” as we define it. In fact, there are currently many legal protections and practices in place for women not based on generic “equality” but on what is right. Do we really want men (who identify as transgender women) in battered women’s shelters, on our school sports teams, and in our public bathrooms and showers?

The Heart

At the heart of it all, this is a heart issue. Are we filled with such bitterness and anger in the era of #MeToo that we neglect the pursuit of justice and take the short cut to revenge? Do we desire to be the ruler of our own lives—instead of seeking God—to the point where we believe science is bigoted? We don’t need to focus on our differences to the point of self-hatred, nor do we need to exalt ourselves and roar with pride to make men feel low.

Ultimately, we should acknowledge and use our differences to pursue those things that are right, such as love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Only then will we truly be able to discern a better balance.

A Tale of Two Lawsuits

by Family Research Council

March 7, 2019

The attack on Jack Phillips has finally come to an end—hopefully it stays that way. Last year, Phillips obtained victory at the Supreme Court in a case about his decision to decline to create a cake for a same-sex wedding. Afterwards, the losing party, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, pursued yet another complaint against Phillips for declining to make a cake celebrating a sex transition. The Commission agreed to dismiss its complaint once more evidence of its hostility emerged.

Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious liberty law firm, had helped Phillips fight back against the second complaint. They filed a lawsuit on his behalf against the Commission for demonstrating overt hostility towards his beliefs, though he agreed to drop his suit once the Commission dismissed its complaint.

This saga has no doubt involved a lot of suffering for Phillips, his family, and his business and employees. As Phillips stated,

When I set out to build my dream of opening my own cake shop, combining my love for art and baking in a family business, I never imagined this chapter would be part of the Masterpiece Cakeshop story … I have and will always serve everyone who comes into my shop; I simply can’t celebrate events or express messages that conflict with my religious beliefs. The Supreme Court affirmed that government hostility against people of faith is unconstitutional, and that Colorado was hostile to my faith. That hostility cost me 40 percent of my business and the wedding work that I love to do.

The story is certainly one of resilience in the face of suffering. But it also shows us how enduring pain in a Christ-like manner can influence others’ lives. Phillips’ nephew, Sean, “didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus,” so “he didn’t fully grasp why Jack was willing to take such a stand.” What he did know, however, was that Phillips was “one of the most genuine, kind, and generous people” he knew.

Sean was also shocked at the hateful treatment Jack endured. In fact, it made him angry.

But in observing and talking with Jack, he saw a quiet example of what it looks like to live a life in obedience to Christ.

Over time, Sean let go of his anger. He dug into the Bible to understand the comfort that Jack had in Christ and how he could withstand such hardship with grace and peace. And eventually, God drew Sean to Himself.

Because of how Phillips reacted in the face of suffering, God was able to draw someone closer to Christ. So, even though it is good that these cases have a positive outcome, “Jack counts the eternal implications of his case as even greater and more precious.” Truly, it is a remarkable story of how God utilizes all things for the good of those who trust in Him. With so many people across America watching this case, we look forward to how God will use Jack Phillips’ story to draw more people even closer to Him.

Historic Churches Cut Off from State Funds

by Family Research Council

March 6, 2019

In a series of two cases, the New Jersey state supreme court decided that the state constitution requires the exclusion of churches from state historic preservation grants. The state’s high court reached that conclusion even in light of the Supreme Court case from 2017, Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer. The Court had held that it was a violation of the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause to exclude a church from a state playground resurfacing program just because the playground was run by a church.

The New Jersey grantmaking authorities that were sued for distributing grants to churches appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, but the Court denied review. While it is discouraging that a church can be cut off from public aid just because it is a church, a statement from Justice Kavanaugh and joined by Justices Alito and Gorsuch holds promise for the future: “Barring religious organizations because they are religious from a general historic preservation grants program is pure discrimination against religion.”

So why did the entire Court agree to deny review? As one outlet explains, although “Kavanaugh agreed with the court’s decision to decline to hear the case,” he noted “that factual uncertainty and the recency of his colleagues’ decision in Trinity Lutheran meant that neither the time nor the case was right for consideration.”

In other words, Justices Kavanaugh, Alito, and Gorsuch said it was the time to wait rather than act. In the meantime, it is important to emphasize why this is an important legal issue. In Trinity Lutheran, Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the consequence of the church’s exclusion from the playground resurfacing program was, “in all likelihood,” merely “a few extra scraped knees.” Similarly, the denial of historic preservation grants means that some churches will just have to ask private donors to take care of the termites, the rust, or the floorboards. However, as the Chief Justice reminded us, discrimination against religion in the public square would not be tolerated and is unconstitutional: the church’s exclusion “from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution all the same, and cannot stand.”

The Art of Disagreement

by Travis Weber

March 6, 2019

In the New York Times, Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute has an interesting piece on the polarization and fracturing of America today. Of note:

Political scientists have found that our nation is more polarized than it has been at any time since the Civil War. One in six Americans has stopped talking to a family member or close friend because of the 2016 election. Millions of people organize their social lives and their news exposure along ideological lines to avoid people with opposing viewpoints. What’s our problem?

2014 article in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on “motive attribution asymmetry”—the assumption that your ideology is based in love, while your opponent’s is based in hate—suggests an answer. The researchers found that the average Republican and the average Democrat today suffer from a level of motive attribution asymmetry that is comparable with that of Palestinians and Israelis. Each side thinks it is driven by benevolence, while the other is evil and motivated by hatred—and is therefore an enemy with whom one cannot negotiate or compromise.

Brooks continues:

People often say that our problem in America today is incivility or intolerance. This is incorrect. Motive attribution asymmetry leads to something far worse: contempt, which is a noxious brew of anger and disgust. And not just contempt for other people’s ideas, but also for other people. In the words of the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, contempt is “the unsullied conviction of the worthlessness of another.”

Quite alarming. Nevertheless, this is confirmed by what we see in our slice of social discourse—whether in reference to people holding to historic Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality, or merely seeking to protect their ability to hold to such teaching.

A recent study in The Atlantic discusses how such intolerance is cemented as beliefs become more siloed within certain groups and communities. The worst offenders? “[T]he most politically intolerant Americans, according to the analysis, tend to be whiter, more highly educated, older, more urban, and more partisan themselves.”

Brooks’ solution for all this?

Not eliminating different ideas, but embracing them. “What we need is not to disagree less, but to disagree better,” he says. When treated with contempt, we should not return it upon our opponent’s head. Instead, we must choose to respond with grace.

Of all people, Christians should most eagerly embrace this idea. Our faith itself is based on God not responding to our contempt with contempt, but by sending his Son to die in our place on a cross.

We should be the first to embrace the idea of showing grace to neighbors and those around us. There is much we cannot control in our society today, but let us seize one of the few areas we can change—our individual choice to respond with grace when treated with contempt.

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