Month Archives: July 2019

Finding Hope in the Joshua Harris Story

by David Closson

July 31, 2019

Joshua Harris, former lead pastor of Covenant Life Church and author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, announced over the weekend via Instagram that he no longer considers himself a Christian.

The post came a week after Harris surprised followers by announcing he and his wife were separating after 21 years of marriage.

Harris’ book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, advocated abstinence and an alternative approach to dating. It was widely influential in the purity movement of the late 1990s and early 2000s and sold a million copies. Released in 1997, Harris’ book argued that casual dating often causes emotional harm and that Christian singles should not pursue a romantic relationship until they are ready for marriage. Instead, singles should embrace courtship, a dating alternative where couples cultivate friendship and parents are given permission to guide the relationship. Strict physical boundaries—no holding hands, no kissing, limited time alone—should govern the relationship to protect the couple from sexual temptation.

A generation of Christian conservatives embraced Harris’ ideas and his book became synonymous with the purity movement.

Propelled by the success of his books (Harris published two additional purity advocacy books in 2000 and 2003), Harris’ profile rose, and he was called as pastor of Covenant Life Church, then a leading church in the Sovereign Grace church network. Harris was installed as senior pastor at age 30.

Harris left Covenant Life in 2015 to pursue formal theological education. In recent years Harris made news when he formally apologized for his famous book and what he now believes was the perpetuation of “an unhealthy view of romance and sexuality.”

Harris’ shocking announcements about his divorce and decision to renounce Christianity have garnered national and international attention. While media reports have generally been sympathetic to Harris, for many Christians, especially those influenced by I Kissed Dating Goodbye, the news is extremely disheartening and provides an opportunity to reiterate some important truths.

Apostasy

How should Christians struggling with this news think about these developments? Specifically, how should the question of apostasy—which this story has raised—be approached?

The question is fair—on his Instagram page Harris wrote: “By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.” Elsewhere in his post he refers to his decision explicitly as “falling away.”

Harris’ rejection of Christ is clear and without equivocation. Tragically, he no longer believes the gospel he preached for two decades of public ministry. Thus, it would seem Hebrews 6:4-6 and its warning of apostasy applies to him:

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

However, Scripture is also clear that God preserves those he has called to salvation. In Philippians 1:6 Paul writes, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” In John 10:28, Jesus, referring to his true followers, promises, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” 

Thus, the Bible is clear that true believers cannot lose their salvation. Therefore, how does one reconcile Hebrews 6:4-6 with the rest of Scripture? As New Testament scholar Thomas Schreiner explains, the answer lies in the fact that the warning passage of Hebrews 6:4-6 is best interpreted as a means God uses to keep believers till the end. For those who belong to God, the warnings serve as stark reminders to stay faithful to Christ; they spur believers to persevere in the faith. In other words, no true believer truly and finally falls away from Christ; the warnings keep us within the family of God.

Thus, for someone like Joshua Harris, the Bible teaches that he never experienced conversion. All indications from Harris’ public statements are that 1 John 2:19 applies to him: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”

Christian Celebrity Culture is Dangerous 

Another aspect of this story involves the celebrity culture that has developed within Christianity (especially American evangelicalism). With the rise of mega-churches and large para-church organizations, pastors, in many situations, achieve what amounts to celebrity status. However, with a platform and increasing influence comes a responsibility that many are unprepared for.

The phenomenon of celebrity pastors has led to ministries built around a personality rather than the gospel of Christ. As Leah Klett recently warned, people who attend churches led by well-known pastors need to be very careful that they are committed first and foremost to Christ rather than an engaging, influential pastor.

Consequently, in a personality driven culture, when celebrity pastors have a moral or financial scandal, or worse, renounce their faith, their congregations and ministries are shaken, and followers are often sent into an existential crisis about the nature of their own faith.

However, this should not occur. While a congregation should rightfully be grieved when their leaders fail to live up to the high standards set forth in Scripture for Christian leaders (1 Tim 1:1-7, Titus 1:5-9), the truthfulness of the gospel should never be based on the character or credibility of a person. Again, if one’s commitment to Jesus is grounded in an engaging personality rather than God’s Word, it is likely that that person’s faith was built on sand rather than rock (Mat 7:24-27).

Thus, although Christians are right to grieve at the news of Joshua Harris’ desertion of the faith, these revelations should not cause Christians to doubt or question their own faith, if indeed their faith is genuine and rooted in God’s Word.

As Kevin Rodgers, the interim pastor at Harris’ former church said to his congregation in a letter shortly after the news broke, “Paul’s primary instruction for us when leaders swerve from faith is that we make it an opportunity for greater resolve in our own faith, not less. Seeing leaders who taught us the gospel veer from it should deepen our commitment to ‘guard the good deposit’ entrusted to us. And ‘pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness’ (1 Tim 6:11).”

The Lord Will Hold Us Fast

Joshua Harris’ divorce and rejection of Christianity sent shockwaves through many Christian circles, especially those who benefited from his ministry and appreciated his writings. His rejection of the faith is shocking; Christians are rightly alarmed that someone who preached God’s Word for years has renounced the gospel. However, I believe it is important to reiterate that there is still hope for Joshua Harris. There is still time to turn to Christ in faith and repentance—likely for the first time—and experience a true relationship rooted in the unmerited grace that comes through a relationship with Jesus. Paul himself adamantly rejected Christ prior to his conversion—even devoting his life to persecuting Jesus’ followers—before recognizing his terrible mistake and turning to Christ.

A final point worth noting is that Harris’ apology to the LGBTQ+ community suggests underlying discomfort with the Bible’s clear teaching on marriage and human sexuality. This points to a common trend with those who “de-transition” from Christianity: rejection of the faith is often coupled with a repudiation of biblical morality that is increasingly viewed as suspicious or subversive in today’s culture.

Christians should rightly grieve over Joshua Harris’ announcement that he has kissed his faith goodbye. It should steel us to persevere to the end and plead that the Lord will indeed hold us fast.

Pakistan’s “Blasphemy” Laws are Killing Religious Minorities. 72 Other Countries Are Following Suit.

by Arielle Del Turco

July 31, 2019

Faraz Pervaiz, a Pakistani Christian refugee in Bangkok, is pleading for help from Western governments as he tries to flee from the multitude of death threats he is currently receiving. Pervaiz is the victim of a major threat to religious freedom around the globe—blasphemy laws. In 2013, Pervaiz began speaking out in defense of Christians after a mob attack on a Christian neighborhood in Pakistan. He led protests that demanded police intervention and he published works online that were critical of Islamic theology and its application in the government of Pakistan. That’s more than enough to be convicted of blasphemy in Pakistan, where it is a crime to “outrag[e]” or “wound[] the religious feelings of any person” by utterance, sound, or gesture.

Pervaiz’s outspokenness forced him to flee Pakistan in 2014 following a video he posted online in which he and his father criticized Islamic teachings and the Pakistani government. After he had fled the country, a Muslim cleric accused him of blasphemy and the government filed a criminal case against Pervaiz following outside pressure to do so.

A Global Problem

However, Pakistan’s government is not the only problem. Political parties and average people continue to rally around these blasphemy laws and have shown a willingness to punish those who violate them even if the accused are acquitted by the courts. Parvaiz knows this all too well. Islamic political parties have offered 10 million Pakistani rupees (around $82,000) to anyone who would kill Parvaiz. Mullahs have also led demonstrations where the crowds were encouraged to chant: “There is only one punishment for insulting the Prophet. Sever the head from the body! Sever the head from the body!” As a refugee in Bangkok, Pervaiz still hasn’t found safety. His address in Thailand was recently revealed in a video posted to social media, prompting a new round of death threats. Pervaiz is now pleading for help from Western governments—before it’s too late.

While a stunning 72 countries (37 percent of the world) have blasphemy laws, Pakistan stands at the forefront as an example of a country where blasphemy laws are regularly used to harm religious minorities. Earlier this month, news broke that two Pakistani teenagers were arrested for receiving “blasphemous sketches” to an app on their phone—a charge they denied. One illiterate Pakistani couple is facing the threat of death row after they were charged with “insulting the Quran” and “insulting the Prophet” via text message.

Opposition to blasphemy laws is an issue that is starting to gain traction among religious freedom advocates, and deservedly so. At the 2019 Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, 27 countries co-signed a joint statement of concern that calls on countries which have blasphemy, apostasy, or other laws that restrict freedoms of religious expression to repeal them.

A Need for International Attention

Recognizing the significance of this global issue, Rep. Jamie Raskin and Rep. Mark Meadows introduced a resolution last week in the U.S. House of Representative which calls for the “global repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostacy laws.”

The resolution cites U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) findings of “egregious examples of the enforcement of blasphemy laws and vigilante violence connected to blasphemy allegations in Pakistan, where blasphemy charges are common and numerous individuals are in prison, with a high percentage sentenced to death or to life in prison.” The legislation also notes USCIRF’s knowledge of 40 individuals who are serving life sentences or are on death row for their blasphemy charges in Pakistan.

With this resolution, the House would recognize that “blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws inappropriately position governments as arbiters of religious truth and empower officials to impose religious dogma on individuals or minorities through the power of the government or through violence sanctioned by the government.” This is a statement that deserves to be heartily endorsed by the U.S. House and a sentiment that needs to be heard by governments that insist on keeping these laws.

Government Weaponization of Religious Dogma Must End

This past year saw the acquittal and release of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian farmworker accused of insulting Islam. In what may have been the most well-known blasphemy case to the Western world, religious freedom advocates rejoiced at news of Bibi’s safe arrival in Canada when she was reunited with her family. While this was a tremendous victory, Bibi isn’t the only religious minority to suffer under Pakistani blasphemy laws—many continue to feel the burden of these laws.

The widespread use of blasphemy laws to suppress the expression of religious beliefs (or, the misuse of blasphemy laws to settle unrelated disputes) is alarming. The efforts put forth by the co-signatories of the ministerial’s statement of concern, as well as Rep. Raskin and Rep. Meadows, are critical. Pakistan (and other countries that maintain blasphemy laws) should feel the pressure of growing international attention on these repressive laws and the ways in which they are abused.

New York is the Latest State to Trample on the Hopes of Foster Children

by Kayla Sargent

July 31, 2019

When I was about eight years old, some family friends of mine fostered (and eventually adopted) a severely neglected 18-month-old girl. She was placed in foster care after her parents, both addicted to drugs, would not change her diaper or feed her, sometimes for days on end. When she first entered the custody of her new foster parents, she gorged herself at mealtime until she became sick because for her entire life, she never knew when or from where her next meal would come.

Most children in the foster care system have suffered unimaginable trauma. The 500,000 children in foster care are significantly more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and other developmental and behavioral issues compared to children who do not spend time in the system.

One might think that, at the very least, ensuring that children have a roof over their heads and three meals a day would not be a political issue. One would think that everyone would want these children to have the best care possible. And one would think that faith-based adoption agencies, given the emphasis that the Bible places on caring for widows and orphans, ought to be able to help provide for these children without fear of religious persecution.

Unfortunately, this is not the case.

New Hope Family Services of New York is suing the state after being given an ultimatum by the state’s Office of Child and Family Services stating that they would have to start “placing children with unmarried couples and same-sex couples” or they would be “choosing to close.” It is not because they are not providing adequate care to children, or because they are unable to place children in homes, but because they refuse to allow same-sex couples or couples who are unmarried to adopt.

They are not alone. Across the nation, Christian organizations that believe children belong with a mother and a father are being forced to close their doors because of alleged “discrimination.” In 2018, the state of Illinois forced Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Springfield to close, displacing roughly 3,000 children. Earlier that same year, the city of Philadelphia “barred Bethany Christian Services and Catholic Social Services” from serving children in need because of their beliefs about marriage.

What is especially tragic about these shutdowns is that they not only affect the employees of these agencies—they impact hundreds, if not thousands, of children in desperate need of a loving home.

In Obergefell v. Hodges, we were promised that, “The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.” These shutdowns are a clear violation of this principle handed down by the Supreme Court, and are currently being challenged.

Regardless of your stance on marriage, and even your stance on discrimination, children should not be the ones that are punished in the ongoing war being waged on religious liberty by LGBT activists. When “equality” demands that certain adoption providers be shut down and children are denied adequate care and a loving home with a mother and a father as a result, it is no longer equality, but oppression. Just as little girls should not have to gorge themselves for fear of not having enough to eat in the future, faith-based adoption providers should not have to violate their religious beliefs in order to continue helping children in need find loving homes.

Kayla Sargent is an intern at Family Research Council.

Engaging a Culture in Crisis: Christians Gather to Discuss Strategies

by Cathy Ruse

July 30, 2019

Two hundred Catholics gathered for a two-day conference last weekend high in the hills above La Crosse, Wisconsin. Organized by Cardinal Raymond Burke, former Chief Justice of the Vatican Supreme Court. Cardinal Burke is one of the most important bishops in the Catholic Church and is seen by millions of Catholics as the torchbearer of Christian orthodoxy in what can be a very confusing time. The conference took place at a remarkable hilltop complex dedicated to Mary that includes a shrine to unborn children lost to abortion and miscarriage.

The conference heard from noted experts on the cultural and religious crisis of our time. Robert Royal, author of many books, editor in chief of The Catholic Thing, president of the Faith & Reason Institute, and talking head on Eternal Word Television Network, told the crowd about the mass Christian conversion of Aztec Indians in the 16th century and how our own time calls for a similar conversion.

My husband, Austin Ruse, president of the Center for Family and Human Rights, exhorted the audience to consider that there is no finer time to be a faithful Christian than right now, not in spite of the massive problems around us but precisely because of them. He said the apostles were not exactly the “A Team,” and maybe neither are we. But God knows what He is about, and He sent the likes of us, right here, right now, to defend His creation.

I discussed the competing visions of the Christian Gospel and the “Transgender Gospel.”

The “gospel” of Transgender is hypocritical, mendacious, and deceptive. It wraps itself in the mantel of science, even while it scorns all science that does not further its political goals. Biology is bigotry, according to the transgender ideology.

It speaks of “safe environments,” then forces open the private spaces of women and girls to biological males, including predators.

It calls for “non-discrimination,” then discriminates against women and girls by robbing them of sports victories, scholarships, and careers—and exposing them to physical danger on the playing field.

It calls itself “progressive,” but acts like a retrogressive tyrant, especially when it comes to the freedom of speech.

And worst of all, it preaches “acceptance,” then tells kids to reject their own bodies, even to the point of mutilation.

Our duty, as Christians, is to tell the truth about the human person, no matter what. We must tell all who will listen that to deny our human nature is to reject our human dignity. It is ultimately to reject God.

It is the Tempter’s promise of freedom, but it leads only to degradation and enslavement.

One small but important way to tell the Truth is to use truthful language. We should always use the word “sex” when referring to the biological reality of the physical nature of male and female.

Don’t say “gender” when we mean sex. Stella Morabito has it absolutely right: “Gender is a poisoned and weaponized word that has been used to legally de-sex and thus dehumanize us all.” 

As Christians, we are uniquely qualified to make the case for the truth about the human person. Because we are not confused. We know there are not 58 genders, but two sexes. 

Only a post-Christian culture could be so vulnerable to this kind of deception. As G.K. Chesterton wrote: “The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything.”

Ours is a different creed. We believe in a loving Father who created us in His own image: male and female. We believe that every person is born in exactly the right body.

What a joy to be called to bring this life-affirming, life-saving message to our culture, right now.

Administration Must Avoid Obama Cultural Imperialism

by Peter Sprigg

July 29, 2019

The Obama administration was guilty of what some have called “cultural imperialism.” This included various efforts to force small, poor—and often socially conservative—countries to accept and codify the values of the West’s sexual revolution. Examples include pressure placed on the Dominican Republic to liberalize abortion laws (in violation of their own constitution), and the withholding of foreign aid from the desperately poor African country of Malawi in an effort to force liberalization of their laws on homosexual conduct.

Family Research Council spoke out against such policies at the time. Fortunately, the Trump administration has backed off from some of the worst of this cultural imperialism, such as that practiced at the United Nations. However, we are concerned that the administration’s “global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality”—endorsed in a tweet from the White House Twitter account on July 26—may represent a remnant of that same mentality.

There are some legitimate concerns about the treatment of people who self-identify as homosexual in some other countries. As we wrote when news of the “global campaign” was first reported in February:

Family Research Council vigorously opposes acts of violence against anyone because of their sexuality. According to NBC, there are eight countries which permit the death penalty for homosexuality—most of them also known as abusers of religious freedom and other rights, and supporters of terrorism. An end to those laws, and other physical punishments such as flogging, is a legitimate goal.

(In the past, there have been false reports that FRC supported a bill in Uganda that would have allowed the death penalty for certain homosexual acts. This has never been the case.) There may also be countries where governments turn a blind eye to extra-judicial violence against those who identify as homosexual. This, too, is unacceptable.

We endorsed the statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at his confirmation hearing, when he said, ““I deeply believe LGBTQ persons have every right that every other person has.”

However, the fact that LGBTQ-identified persons have every human right does not mean that engaging in homosexual conduct is itself a human right. As we stated in 2011, “No treaty or widely accepted international agreement has established homosexual conduct as a human right.” For example, homosexual conduct has known health risks, so foreign governments should be left free to take steps to discourage or deter such conduct.

Furthermore, any effort to force an “LGBT rights” agenda on other countries risks running afoul of other principles which actually have been well-established as international rights—namely, the rights of individual conscience and of religious liberty. Within the constraints imposed by well-established international law, all countries must be free to establish governments and legal codes based on their own moral values. These are often deeply rooted in religious tradition. What we have called “cultural imperialism” (which Pope Francis has called “ideological colonization”) must not be allowed to trump that sovereign right of each country.

As we wrote in February:

Let’s find common ground in calling for an end to all forms of physical violence against homosexuals — but refrain from imposing the values of the sexual revolution on the rest of the world.

Melissa Ohden and the “Right to Choose”

by Lauren Kaylor

July 29, 2019

When Melissa Ohden was in her mother’s womb, an attempt was made to abort her. The amniotic sac was injected with saline solution to poison her and to chemically burn her skin from the inside out. Instead of burning her to death in 48 hours or less as the saline abortion was intended to do, Melissa fought for her life while her tiny body soaked in the solution for five days. As it turned out, she was several weeks older than the doctor had estimated. Labor was induced and Melissa was born alive prematurely at 31 weeks.

Melissa is now a beautiful 41-year-old woman and is a wife and mother of two children. She has a master’s degree in Social Work, authored the book You Carried Me: A Daughter’s Memoir, and founded The Abortion Survivors Network. She is one of the most passionate, motherly, and confident women I have ever met.

I recently read You Carried Me and I implore everyone to do the same. Melissa is one of hundreds of documented abortion survivors. Her testimony to having survived an attempted abortion at her maximum level of helplessness is heart-wrenching yet beautiful; her understandable feelings of anger and confusion were transformed into reconciliation, forgiveness, and love. She holds no anger in her heart towards her transgressors. Ohden uses her unique existence to fiercely fight for the children who, like her, are unwanted by at least one person with the power to take their lives away from them. Most babies who undergo abortion do not make it out alive like she did.

Only a couple of days after reading You Carried Me, I met Melissa Ohden. She was one of two pro-life witnesses testifying at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on June 4, 2019 called “Threats to Reproductive Rights in America.” In response to many states’ recent bills restricting abortion, six pro-choice witnesses advocated for the so-called woman’s “right to choose” abortion. Melissa was one of the two women testifying for the unborn child’s right to life.

Observing this hearing and listening to Melissa’s visceral testimony, I was inundated with the hard reality that a woman’s so called “right to choose” is irreconcilable with the universal human right to life. This is the agonizing irony of the lack of pro-choice logic: anyone alive today who advocates for the “pro-choice” side was not aborted. Pro-choicers were given their right to life, but they advocate for a woman’s right to take away the life that they were all given. Ronald Reagan once said, “I’ve noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born.”

In the 2018 “Abortion Worldwide Report,” Thomas W. Jacobson wrote, “The first inalienable human right is the right to life, which includes the right of self-defense and the duty to protect innocent human life.” The duty to protect the innocent must always be undivided from the sanctity of life and our right to it. If the right to life of certain members of society is not protected, no one else’s right to life is secure. This is bolstered by the laws of logic; we must remain consistent in our thinking. Jacobson continues, “As clearly evident in the natural law and in Scripture, murdering another human being regardless of the motive or rationale, can never be a ‘human right.’”

If we do not intensely protect everyone’s right to life, there is no sense in exercising or fighting for literally any other right. No other right has meaning if we aren’t all first given the right to life. Melissa Ohden’s right to free speech is null and void if she had been aborted, like the pro-choice agenda would have it. As individuals and as a society, our allegiance must first go to protecting the right to life. This necessitates that we do not believe in a woman’s “right” to an abortion.

The question we must ask of those who identify as “pro-choice” is, “What exactly is being chosen?” To argue for a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion is to argue for a woman’s right to take away an innocent, defenseless life. If Melissa’s mother really had the “right to choose,” then Melissa did not have the right to live and should not be here today. Melissa happened to survive because the attempt to kill her failed. The right to life cannot begin after a person is deemed “wanted.” The “right to choose” is irreconcilable with not only Melissa Ohden’s existence, but all our existence. It is a tragic irony that human beings who evaded the terrible fate of abortion are advocating for that very fate to be forced onto another innocent person.

Interestingly, one of the pro-choice panelists at the “Threats to Reproductive Rights” hearing choked up and could not answer the question when asked, “Didn’t Melissa have the right to live?” Perhaps it was because the panelist realized the truth: that Melissa does have the right to live, and that right began in the womb.

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

How to Talk About Abortion: 3 Ways to Frame the Debate

by Bailey Zimmitti

July 26, 2019

Recently, I’ve seen a lot of social media posts from both ends of the political spectrum about whether or not we should be friends with people on the “other side.” Because abortion is one of the most divisive issues of our generation, this question has particularly intrigued me as I have navigated both academic and personal relationships as a pro-life college student.

At one point, I started to scale back my visibility within the pro-life movement on campus because it clearly wasn’t a glamorous opinion to have. To my delight, avoiding hot topics like abortion made my life a lot easier. But as Christians, we are not called to shy away from the abortion debate. We are called to be witnesses to the truth of the gospel.

As I have begun to be more visible online and on campus within the pro-life movement, the biggest obstacle that I have encountered when discussing the issue is that more often than not, pro-lifers and pro-choicers are operating from completely different worldviews. This means we must frame the debate in an effective manner and carefully define our terms. This will help us to have real conversations with those we disagree with rather than having contests to see who can better regurgitate jargon from either side of the debate.

Here are three important ways for pro-lifers to frame the debate:

1. Judging actions and judging people are not the same thing.

You’ll often hear pro-choice rhetoric that claims that Christian pro-lifers are judgmental, when the Bible says not to judge. The passage they’re talking about comes from Matthew 7:1, “Stop judging, that you may not be judged.” As with most pro-choicers who quote Scripture to make a point, this passage is taken out of context.

When Jesus says this famous line in Matthew 7:1, he does not prohibit people from judging the actions of others. If you keep reading, he says, “You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye” (Mt 7:5). The entire point of the passage is that Christians should not judge arrogantly, with sin in their hearts, but rather with pure hearts in order to compassionately and effectively bring others closer to a life of authentic joy in Christ Jesus.

Even though this is hard to swallow, it’s the truth: we are called to judge. The critical distinction is that we are called to judge actions, not people. There is a difference between judging the moral quality of an act and judging a person’s character (i.e. “killing an unborn child is wrong” versus “you are a bad person for thinking that abortion is permissible”).

What does this look like in the abortion debate? I know that abortion is evil, but I don’t think that women who have had abortions are evil. I know that the abortion industry’s rhetoric and agenda are manipulative and wrong, but I don’t have personal hatred for the people who work in the industry. I understand that having an abortion is never an easy decision. I understand that abortion is a physically and emotionally devastating thing to go through. I understand that abortion workers feel like they are helping women. But understanding these things does not cloud my ability to say with clear conviction that abortion takes the life of an innocent child, and that this should not be legal.

2. There is no “neutral” position in this debate.

Pro-choice advocates often respond to pro-lifers by saying, “You don’t like abortion? Don’t have one. But don’t impose your belief on someone else.” But this misses the point. We in the pro-life movement know that the deaths of millions of human persons are being incentivized in a for-profit industry, and this cannot remain legal. The point of having laws is to establish an ordinance of reason for the common good. If abortion is contrary to reason and the common good, then it should be illegal.

There is no such thing as a truly “neutral” position in the abortion debate. Either abortion takes the life of an innocent person, or it does not. This is one of the hardest pills to swallow about the abortion debate, but one of the most crucial.

3. Those on the other side are not our enemies.

In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the scribe asks Jesus who our neighbor is (Luke 10:29), and Jesus demonstrates that we are called to reach out in love without condition to all men as our neighbors.

In light of Christ’s new definition of “neighbor,” it seems appropriate to give a new definition of “enemy.” Returning to the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the just and the unjust’” (Matthew 5:43-45).

So, who is our enemy? Typically, a pro-lifer might define their enemy as any pro-abortion advocate, and vice versa. While there is no doubt that the tension between those with battling ideologies is inevitable, we must always remember that the pro-lifer’s enemy is abortion itself, not pro-abortion advocates. So, when we talk to someone on the opposite side of the abortion debate or any other issue, we have to straddle our duty to deliver the gospel in truth and charity.

I once wrote an online homework assignment visible to the professor and students about Audre Lorde’s comments on abortion, and no one addressed me on it. I was fuming. A friend from that class said to me afterwards, “I’m glad you wrote your assignment about abortion. I’m pro-choice and I don’t believe that a fetus is a person, but if I did, and I thought that millions of people were being systematically killed, I would speak out too.”

Delivering the truth in charity is not easy when there are so many terms and worldviews to reconcile, but if we lack charity, policy debates will get us nowhere. It’s time to cast aside our fears about others not liking us and remember, “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

Bailey Zimmitti is an intern at Family Research Council.

What Harper Lee and John Donne Can Teach Us About Protecting All Life

by Mary Jayne Caum

July 25, 2019

Almost sixty years ago, Harper Lee taught us that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird because of their innocence. However, more than 600,000 “mockingbirds” are killed each year. These mockingbirds are infants in the womb; infants who are devalued, targeted, and exterminated. Sadly, this is not the first time in American history human life has been devalued.

In 1857, the United States Supreme Court erroneously declared, “[T]he negro race [is]… a separate class of persons… not regarded as a portion of the people or citizens of the Government…” In the Dred Scot decision, the Supreme Court essentially proclaimed that African Americans were only partially human. Later, with the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the American people rejected this false opinion and recognized the inalienable rights of newly freed slaves. Over one hundred years later, in 1973, the Supreme Court would once again declare a class of people only partially human. However, as with Dred Scot, the American people should discard the tenants of Roe v. Wade and recognize the inherent dignity of infants developing in the womb.

When a life is devalued, it is easy to destroy. In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court devalued the life of infants in the womb by saying the state only has an interest in protecting children once they reach “viability” (which is an elastic term that changes with every advancement in neonatal intensive care technology). Roe explained that a child can be protected after viability because, “the fetus then presumably has the capability of meaningful life outside the mother’s womb.” However, the Court failed to explain what meaningful life means. Self-sufficiency? Wealth? Excellent health? Mental capacity? Even outside the womb, no child can survive without being fed, clothed, nurtured, and loved. Having to rely on someone does not devalue your life. Arguing that babies should be aborted simply because they cannot have a “meaningful life” is the same argument slave owners perpetuated.

Slave owners argued that African Americans were inherently inferior and “benefited” from the heinous institution of slavery. Masters contended that no slave could lead a meaningful life absent of slavery. Furthermore, pro-slavery advocates such as Stephen Douglas argued that slave owners had as much right to control their slave’s destiny as if the slave was a pig. Douglas wrongly contended that slaves had the same right, dignity, and freedom as pigs.

Today, children in the womb are labeled an inconvenience, not a person; a burden, not a soul. With the Supreme Court’s endorsement, the right to kill infants in the womb was created. Now, children are torn apart limb from limb through “dilation and evacuation” (D&E) dismemberment abortions. Shockingly, the disdain that some in our society have for life does not cease even when a child enters the world.

If a child survives a late-term abortion procedure, abortionists in some states now have the option to ignore the child gasping for life on the table and deny the struggling infant medical care. (Please join FRC’s End Birth Day Abortion campaign to fight this grave evil.) Abandoning a vulnerable infant is the logical outgrowth of the pro-abortion argument. As ethicist Peter Singer disturbingly explained in his well-known work Practical Ethics:

A week-old baby is not a rational and self-conscious being, and there are many nonhuman animals whose rationality, self-consciousness, awareness, capacity to feel, and so on, exceed that of a human baby a week or a month old. If the fetus does not have the same claim to life as a person, it appears that the newborn baby does not either, and the life of a newborn baby is of less value to it than the life of a pig…

Harkening back to the advocates of slavery, Singer compares infants with pigs. Pro-abortion advocates argue that women should be able to control the destiny of their unborn child as if that baby were a pig. We must reject this modern form of rationalizing slavery and once again recognize the inherent worth and dignity found in each person no matter their race, socio-economic status, or stage of development.

Like the abolitionists of old, we must promote the dignity of all people, realizing that, as poet John Donne observed, “any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.” Our hearts should ache for every dismembered, partially born, and abandoned baby whose life was declared meaningless. Pro-life advocates cannot stop proclaiming the truth and fighting for the rights of the vulnerable. As we fight for babies in the womb, let us be encouraged by the truth that one day our Heavenly Father “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

We must protect children in the womb from abortion’s pain and death, remembering that it is a sin to kill the mockingbirds in our midst.

Mary Jayne Caum is a Policy intern at Family Research Council.

Pro-Choice” Planned Parenthood Discourages Choosing Life

by Abigail Ross

July 24, 2019

Planned Parenthood’s vision is a “pro-choice” America. The nation’s largest abortion supplier claims to support a woman’s right to make her own health decisions, which, in their opinion, should always include abortion. However, they do the exact opposite of supporting all women’s health decisions.

Planned Parenthood’s agenda is not focused on women, but on profit. The abortion supplier does not support the life-ending abortion procedure as one option among many, but as the only viable option. Planned Parenthood honors a woman’s choice for her baby’s life as long as she chooses to abort her unborn child, therefore increasing Planned Parenthood’s profits.

Former Planned Parenthood employees have revealed that the organization’s boasts about supporting a woman’s choice are inaccurate. Choice is often unwelcome in the doors of their clinics. Their employees have coerced women into getting an abortion over adoption or raising their child. They have ignored the pleas of women who chose life for their baby.

Planned Parenthood furthers the irony of “choice” as the pro-abortion mantra by aiding those who force women to get abortions. Parents, the fathers, abusers, or even pimps often force girls and women to end the life of their unborn baby regardless of her wishes. Planned Parenthood has assisted these people by honoring their wishes to abort the baby, sometimes against the woman’s desire to let the baby live.

Planned Parenthood has assisted sex traffickers and abusers by supplying the abortions they request and then returning the victims back to their pimp or abuser. In a report from the Annals of Health Law, more than half of sex trafficking victims in the United States visit a clinic, most commonly Planned Parenthood. The organization has adopted a “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude, even though employees are mandated reporters, which requires them by law to report even suspected instances of abuse or trafficking.

Lauren, a human trafficking survivor, says, “No one ever asked me anything when I went to a [Planned Parenthood] clinic.” Lauren was so young that a Planned Parenthood doctor had to sign a waiver for her to receive medication. Planned Parenthood does not fulfil their legal and moral obligation to report instances of abuse and human trafficking. They allow these abusers to force their victims into abortions, regardless of if the mother wanted to let her baby live, and then allow the women to be returned back into these abusive situations. This has happened time and time again within the clinics’ doors, such as in the instances below.

  • In 2017 a report was filed against George Savanah documenting the abuse of his 13-year-old daughter. Savanah raped his daughter over many years. When she became pregnant at 14, 16, and 17 years old, he took her to Planned Parenthood for an abortion. Planned Parenthood did not report the crime and returned the daughter back to her abusive father. Many cases like Savanah’s have come to light with the same heartbreaking outcome—girls were placed back into abusive situations as a result of Planned Parenthood’s failure to report.
  • Live Action released an undercover investigation of Planned Parenthood. In this investigation, actors posed as a pimp and one of his sex workers. Multiple Planned Parenthood employees, who were made fully aware that the customers were involved in a sex ring, failed to report the crime. Additionally, they even aided the pimp and gave him advice to get birth control and abortions for his sex workers, many of whom he claimed were minors.
  • After Live Action released their investigation, Planned Parenthood responded by calling a mandatory training on how to spot and report sex trafficking for their employees. However, they yet again failed to right the dangerous problem within their walls. The training simply taught employees how to identify if they were being recorded and how to avoid saying anything incriminating on camera. Lila Rose, president of Live Action, responded, “When confronted with child sex traffickers, Planned Parenthood cared more about protecting its image than protecting children.”

Planned Parenthood boasts about how they help women make their own health decisions. They have not done this. They have allowed parents, boyfriends, and even pimps and abusers to coerce mothers to abort their unborn babies. Planned Parenthood has allowed women to stay trapped in abusive situations.

This issue has not gone unrecognized by the Trump administration. The administration took action by publishing the “Protect Life Rule” which prohibits family planning clinics that receive Title X funding from referring women for abortions. The Trump administration has taken action to protect the lives of innocent babies, thereby helping to reduce the amount of federal funding that Planned Parenthood receives, an organization which cunningly manipulates women into abortions.

In reality, Planned Parenthood does not comply with the pro-abortion mantra “pro-choice.” The nation’s foremost abortion supplier cannot see past dollar signs and deceives women into “choosing” what is best for their organization, ending the life of a baby.

Abigail Ross is an intern at Family Research Council.

Library Buries Photos of Kids Playing on Top of Drag Queens

by Cathy Ruse

July 23, 2019

Remember the shocking photos of adult men in drag, lying on the floor at a library, with toddlers crawling on top of them? Well, government officials in Multnomah County, Oregon hope you’ll forget about them and keep bringing your children to Drag Queen Story Hours.

Last October, St. John’s public library in Portland, Oregon, presented Anthony Hudson dressed as drag queen “Carla Rossi” in a program for 2 to 6-year-old children.

Afterwards, the Multnomah County Library District was so proud of its event that it shared several photographs of children playing on top of Mr. Hudson. The photos went viral, thanks to outraged moms on Facebook. Earlier this month, LifeSite News reported on the outrage.

Then the county took the photos down, without a word. They are no longer available on the county’s website, but LifeSite News has archived them.

Is it because they’re sorry? Nope. It’s because they got caught.

If they were sorry, they wouldn’t have scheduled more drag events in the library with Mr. Hudson. According to the Multnomah County website, he has been invited back for two events in September billed as “Clown Town” teen drag workshops. Mr. Hudson will once again dress as drag queen “Carla Rossi” and teach kids about the “many flavors” of drag.

Read more about the scandal and the cover-up at The Federalist and Activist Mommy.

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