Month Archives: July 2019

Snapchat and Instagram Are Turning into Kid Portals for Porn (and Much Worse)

by Family Research Council

July 12, 2019

American children are finding it increasingly difficult to escape the explicit snares of social media. That’s why earlier this week the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on “Protecting Innocence in a Digital World.” Social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube have become a harbor for predators, sex trafficking, and pornography.

Families should remain especially conscious of the risks posed by these kinds of platforms in a time when content remains largely unregulated. App stores’ descriptions of social media platforms rarely match the actual maturity of the content. The repercussions of kids’ easy access to pornographic content are shocking and, in some cases, irreversible.

In the hearing, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) succinctly acknowledged that “Child exploitation online is becoming an epidemic.” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) was blunt about the reality of the situation: “Predators no longer lurk in chat rooms. Predators use the apps our kids use.”

Snapchat and Instagram, the two most used social media apps as of 2018, see 190 million and 500 million daily usersrespectively. The minimum age to download these applications is 12 years old, yet the content on these apps can be alarmingly inappropriate. While app descriptions may warn of “mild infrequent/mild sexual content and nudity, alcohol, drug use, profanity, and suggestive themes,” the content a child might see includes “sextortion, pornography, prostitution and sex trafficking, monetized accounts for sex acts, minimal parental controls, … news articles [also] frequently push: porn, risky sexual behaviors, sexting, drugs and alcohol.”

Even if parents know how to use an app like Instagram, the access to explicit content can be hidden in plain sight: “On Instagram, porn is often hidden behind hashtags and emojis that appear innocuous but are used as secret code to tag and search for particular types of porn.”Though Instagram claims to regulate pornographic material, the content remains readily available. As a result, not only can young people hide their searches with these hashtags, but almost half of them are exposed to explicit online content, and 66 percent of this exposure is unwanted.

The lack of identity verification and content regulation lead to evils even deeper than premature exposure to sexual subjects. Social media apps like Instagram are witnessing a rise in sex trafficking schemes. A recent study from the University of Toledo found that “traffickers connect to vulnerable youth online, groom the children to form quicker relationships, avoid detection, and move the connections from online to in-person.”The study shows that online predators groom children whose posts display “fear, emptiness and disappointment.” They emphasize that parents must protect their children by “monitoring or blocking questionable activity.”

One Michigan father actually saved his daughter from becoming a victim of human trafficking by simply paying close attention to his tween daughter’s social media habits. He recounts, “It began with a picture, a questionably inappropriate one for a girl her age, and the sexy pose set my red flag on fire. So my digging turned into a manhunt checking EVERYTHING in all her accounts.”Portage Police said that the father’s attention to his daughter’s online activity may well have saved the girl from abduction.

Parents must be equipped with the tools to fight the dangers of social media, but they must first recognize the problem. First, as Christians, we must take measures to encourage healthy attitudes towards sex among young people. Our biblical worldview informs us that sex and sexual behavior belong in a marriage between a man and a woman. This ideal is easily challenged and outright denied on social media—not only by groups on the Left, but also by the explicit content so readily available to young users. Secondly, we need to protect our kids from physical harm. Early exposure to explicit content opens the door to pornography addiction and physiologically affects neural learning. Furthermore, social media can easily take dark turns towards the unthinkable for a parent—losing a child to human trafficking.

This is why FRC has partnered with #fixappratings to overcome the challenges that social media can present to the family. We encourage you to join us and learn more about how you can help at fixappratings.com.

How to Talk to Kids about Pornography: 3 Painless Steps

by Kristen Jenson

July 11, 2019

Parents, what conversation is dreaded more than the first one about pornography? I’m not sure there is one! Teaching kids about where babies come from seems simple in comparison. The good news is that it’s not as difficult as you think. I’ve broken it down into three relatively painless steps: start early, empower kids with the basics, and keep on learning and talking!

1. Start Early

How early should you begin warning your child about pornography? The short answer is as soon as they have any access to the internet (or apps that lead to the internet). #SoonerIsSafer! No conscientious parent allows a child access to a busy street without teaching them about the dangers of oncoming cars. It just makes sense to give young kids a gentle warning about harmful content as soon as they are allowed to play on the byways of the internet.

Susan is a very protective mom, and very wise, too. She told me about the time when her 7-year-old son was exposed to pornography by a neighbor. A few days earlier, she had re-read Good Pictures Bad Pictures to her son and reminded him of what to do if he ever saw a bad picture. Although it was distressing, everything worked according to plan! He turned away and went home and told his mom what he had seen. Thankfully, he was prepared!

Children who are caught off guard by pornography are not safe. They are more vulnerable than children who have been warned and given a plan for responding to exposure.

When a parent begins early, it’s not awkward for the child. As the adult, you create the context. Parents continue to tell me that their kids take it well, and that broaching the topic creates an even stronger, more trusting bond with their child.

Don’t be scared—be prepared!

2. Empower Kids with Three Basics

Children need to know three things about pornography:

  • What it is—they need an appropriate definition of pornography.
  • Why it’s harmful—so many kids grow up without a clue that pornography can hurt their young minds—they need good information!
  • How to reject it—a simple plan so they know exactly what to do when they see pornography.

An age-appropriate definition of pornography for a young child gives them just enough information so they can recognize it. In my Good Pictures Bad Pictures series of read-aloud books, I use the following simple definition. “Pornography means pictures, videos or even cartoons of people with little or no clothes on…that focus on the private parts of the body we keep covered with a swimsuit.”

Some critics argue that pornography should not be equated with nudity or else it will cause “body shame.” I take great pains to assure kids that “every part of your body is good, including your private parts. But taking pictures of them and sharing them with others is not good.” Kids are very literal, and nuance is lost on them. Just teach them to come and tell you if they see nudity or near nudity and you can enlighten them if they need additional understanding. For simple tips on how to explain the difference between porn and art to a child, read this blog post.

Explain why it’s harmful. For young children, I use the “picture poison” analogy in my Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr. book. You’ve already taught them about poison and harmful substances. Pictures can poison the mind, too. Again, reassurance is critical: “There’s something good you can do if you see a bad picture.”

Older children can learn how pornography can become a bad habit or even an addiction. Once kids understand the process of addiction, they have a real opportunity to protect their own brains. Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids describes how the “thinking brain” and the “feeling brain” can work together to stay safe from addiction. This article from my website ProtectYoungMinds.org contains a simplified explanation of how addictions develop.

3. Give Kids a Plan

It’s common wisdom to teach kids to respond to a fire or active shooter. They need the same “fire drill” for pornography. Thankfully, most children won’t deal with a fire or a shooter, but all of them will need to escape from pornography.

The “escape” plan from Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr. is simply “Turn, Run and Tell!” Turn away from the bad picture, hurry and get away, and go tell a trusted adult what you saw. The CAN DO Plan from Good Pictures Bad Pictures helps kids not only turn away from it, but to label it by saying “That’s pornography!” This allows kids to have more control over their thoughts by engaging their thinking brain.

Make sure your kids know who they can talk to about pornography exposure wherever they are. Talk to their teachers at school and find out what their plan is for students reporting pornography exposure.  

Finally, help your kids to know how to minimize or “forget” any shocking images they are exposed to by learning to redirect their thoughts to something they get excited about. For example, if they love horses, have them think about saddling up and galloping away! And encourage them to keep practicing—it takes several times, but every time a bad image pops up, just keep thinking about something else. Pretty soon, that memory will begin to fade.

No Child Deserves to Face the Porn Industry Alone

Kids who interface with screens need to know what pornography is, why it’s harmful and what to do when they see it. And they also need constant mentoring. Some families use #TalkTechTuesdays to address all kinds of digital age issues. Whatever day you choose, make sure you keep talking with your kids and listening to their experiences.

I am grateful for caring adults who choose to confront pornography head on so kids won’t have to face it alone. And once you begin the conversation, it gets easier and more comfortable. You CAN DO it.

To get started, check out the free Quick Start Guide for Proactive Parents on ProtectYoungMinds.org.

Kristen A. Jenson, MA is the founder of Protect Young Minds and best-selling author of the Good Pictures Bad Pictures series of read-aloud books. She serves on the Safeguard Alliance founded by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

Women Deserve Better (Part 2): How Prostitution and Sex Trafficking Are Inseparably Linked

by Patrina Mosley

July 11, 2019

This is Part 2 of a series on prostitution. Read Part 1.

There is a very thin line between prostitution and sex trafficking. They are hardly distinguishable in operation, but one is more complicated to prove by law.

Let’s define some terms.

Prostitution is the exchange of sexual activity for money or anything of value (drugs, shelter, etc.).

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, which amended the definition of the 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), defines sex trafficking as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not obtained 18 years of age.”

Under the TVPA, coercion is defined as: “threats of serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform an act would result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; or the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process.”

Who are the pimps and traffickers? They are the facilitator(s) or person(s) using force, fraud, or coercion for commercial sexual exploitation and collaborators who benefit financially.

According to USLegal.com, “Pimps are people who procures [sic] a prostitute for customers or vice versa, and takes [sic] a portion of the profits from the sexual activities. Supposedly he provides protection for the prostitutes, but quite often he will threaten, brutalize, rape, cheat and induce drug addiction of the prostitutes. A pimp is guilty of the crime of pandering. A pimp is someone who brokers the sexual favors of women for profits.”

Prostitution and sex trafficking operate the same way. There is recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, and soliciting of a person for sex. When it comes to proving force, fraud, or coercion, that largely depends on evidence and testimony. What woman will say they are a victim of trafficking when their very lives or family’s lives are threatened or if they have fear of leaving the lifestyle they have become accustomed to?

The Many Sides of Coercion

In one Chicago study, 43 percent of young women who were currently under the control of a pimp/trafficker “said they could not leave without physical harm.” Often, victims see their pimp/trafficker as a boyfriend and there is fear of ending the romantic relationship. It is not unusual for victims to be trafficked by a boyfriend, a male friend, or a family member. Females can also be traffickers and pimps.

In 2016, San Diego County conducted a study about the pimps and traffickers in that county. The study provided keen insight into the common characteristics of those being coerced with these findings:

  • Psychological coercion (defined as “social and emotional isolation, induced emotional exhaustion, and degradation, including humiliation, denial of the victim’s power, and name-calling”) and economic coercion (taking 50 percent or more of prostituted person’s earnings) were primary means sex traffickers employ for controlling victims.
  • Pimps reported an average income of $670,625.
  • Researchers determined that middle schools and high schools were significant/frequent places for recruiting girls who become victims of sexual exploitation, and not just in low-income neighborhoods.

Traffickers and pimps prey on women and children who have a history of abuse and neglect, sexual abuse, running away from home, homelessness, lack of education, or other emotional vulnerabilities. They lure them in with promises of meeting some type of need, whether it be economical, emotional, or both. Pimps/traffickers groom their victims to the point where they have control over them psychologically. Often, this is done by introducing drugs as well, which can cause the victims to become addicted and dependent on the pimp to keep them high and locked into the lucrative sex trade to support their new habit.

In that same Chicago study, 29 percent said they were provided drugs to encourage addiction and 23 percent reported drugs were withheld by the pimp to coerce them into prostitution.

According to a 2013 study of 150 countries, sex trafficking increased in the countries where prostitution was legal.

The idea that sex trafficking is involuntary prostitution and prostitution is willing “sex work” is false. The elements are the same except no one is willing to say an underage girl that she is a working professional prostitute—instead, we shout, “sex trafficking.” If she is 18 and above, is she automatically a willing prostitute? The Archives of Sexual Behavior notes: “In a review of reports on adults in prostitution, 84% were trafficked or under pimp control. The numbers of women who choose prostitution from a position of safety, equality, and genuine alternatives is minimal. O’Connell Davidson (1998, p. 5) noted that only a ‘tiny minority of individuals’ choose prostitution because of the ‘intrinsic qualities of sex work.’ Prostitution has to do with one person’s sexual desires and the other person’s economic needs. The money coerces the performance of sex.”

The operation of prostitution is by default coercion in its transactional nature.

Modern-Day Sex Trafficking and Prostitution

Sex trafficking and prostitution rings are way more advanced and sophisticated today than they were 20 year ago. Today, recruitment and transactions largely take place online through social media accounts, the dark web, and ad listings sites such as Craigslist and Backpage. Before the FBI seizure of Backpage, it was the most popular site for traffickers and pimps to trade off their victims. The average age of recruitment for prostitutes is 14 and the average age of pimps and traffickers are between the ages of 18-34. We have become a generation that are exploiting ourselves.

This May in D.C., as efforts to decriminalize prostitution began to wane, local police made arrests in a major human trafficking case involving teenagers:

Terrell Armstead had an Instagram hashtag “#TeamSupreme” for his prostitution business, according to court documents. He used it to advertise a commercial sex business, posting videos and images of money and luxury goods with the caption “Who wants to join TeamSupreme.”

Detectives allege he would direct message teenage girls, telling them they could make $1,000 a day working in strip clubs and arranging sex dates with customers inside…Among the evidence is a text from one of the young women to Armstead saying, “I only made 200 so far.” He replied, “It’s only 9 I got faith that you’ll get 800 more at least.”

D.C. Councilmember David Grosso, who for the second time introduced the bill to decriminalize prostitution, said:

It is long past time for D.C. to reconsider the framework in which we handle commercial sex, and move from one of criminalization to a new approach that focuses on human rights, health and safety.

As reported:

He was surrounded by several people holding signs. One read, “Everyone Deserves to Feel Safe in Their Work,” while another said, “Sex Workers Matter.”

You cannot combat sex trafficking while trying to legalize prostitution. It makes no sense when the two are essentially the same. And, how in the world does legal prostitution equal human rights? Whose rights? Prostitution is driven by a male clientele who take advantage of other human beings, who are overwhelmingly comprised of women and children who are used for pleasure. To say that prostitution is a human right is by default saying men have a right to use women’s body as a commodity. Why weren’t there signs that said, “Women’s lives matter,” “My body is not a commodity,” or “I’m not for sale, I’m a person”?

Clinical psychologist and founder of Prostitution Research and Education, Dr. Melissa Farley and former prostitute and founder of SPACE International, Rachel Moran came to a clear and disturbing conclusion in their study “Consent, Coercion, and Culpability: Is Prostitution Stigmatized Work or an Exploitive and Violent Practice Rooted in Sex, Race, and Class Inequality?”:

In thousands of interviews, we have heard prostituted women, men, and transwomen describe prostitution as paid rape, voluntary slavery, signing a contract to be raped (in legal prostitution), the choice that is not a choice, and as domestic violence taken to the extreme.

It is ironic, and even cruel, to equate prostitution with “safety” and “human rights.” The sexual exploitation of others is not a right. It is appalling that even in the age of #MeToo, we have politicians who say “its long past time” that we approach paid sex as a human right instead of saying that it is long past time for the exploitation of women to end.

Stay tuned for Part 3, which will take a deeper look at the decriminalization and legalization of prostitution.

State Department’s New Commission Set to Expose Human Rights Abusers

by Arielle Del Turco

July 10, 2019

July 9th marked the four-year anniversary of the launch of a campaign by Chinese officials to crack down on human rights lawyers. Many of these lawyers were arrested, given prison sentences, and tortured behind bars. This tragedy is now referred to as the “709 Incident” because it began on July 9, 2015. Since this date, China has continued to persecute human rights lawyers and activists.

The Chinese government’s crackdown on anyone brave enough to advocate for human rights in China is especially disgusting given that China currently sits on the United Nation’s Human Rights Council.

The fact that shameless human rights abusers can participate in the UN Human Rights Council brings to light an issue that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is trying to address.

On July 7th, Pompeo announced the launch of the Commission on Unalienable Rights. This new panel of scholars, legal experts, and advocates are tasked with reorienting the definition of “human rights” to one that our country’s Founders and the signers of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights would recognize.

Political activists over the past several decades have slowly eroded the proper understanding of human rights from being centered around life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to a catch-all phrase that encompasses everything from abortion to free college tuition.

The confusion over human rights is especially evident in international affairs. The United Nations’ Human Rights Council has shamelessly ignored obvious human rights violations around the world—all while some of the worst violators of human rights claim membership on the council. It’s clear that international institutions tasked with addressing human rights concerns have lost focus on their mission. The Commission on Unalienable Rights is looking to change that.

The commission, which will provide advice, not policy, will take a step back and consider the source and substance of what the Declaration of Independence labeled our “unalienable rights.” Informed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and U.S. founding documents, the commission is intended to provide insight on how we can better define and protect essential human rights.

Pompeo argues that oppressive regimes have abused the term “human rights” and acted as if they were champions of this cause. We can no longer let brutal regimes get away with hiding their heinous actions as they hijack the legitimate and necessary terminology of “human rights.” There must be a universal standard of basic human rights so that countries can be held accountable for violating the fundamental rights of their people. We can hope that this new commission will provide the clarity that is so desperately needed to effectively advocate for those most basic rights which all people are entitled to, but far too many people around the world are denied.

Taylor Swift and the Politicization of Pop Music

by Lauren Kaylor

July 10, 2019

In spring 2019, Taylor Swift announced that her newest album would “have political undertones,” and she was not kidding.

This June, she released the album’s second single and accompanying music video entitled “You Need to Calm Down.” The song is an unambiguous announcement of her support for the LGBT movement and a denouncement of anyone who isn’t fully on board with it. Lyrics like, “You would rather live in the Dark Ages,” and “Why are you mad when you could be GLAAD?” leave no middle ground. 

In the video, Swift parades around glamorously with celebrities and a multitude of individuals who identify as homosexual and transgender. A group of toothless, unwashed, scraggily-haired protesters also make a garish appearance, brandishing misspelled signs like “Get a brain, moran.” The video is crystal-clear social commentary with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. But the video goes a step further than one would normally expect from a popstar. At the end of the video, text appears calling for direct political action: “Please sign my petition for Senate support of the Equality Act on Change.org.”

As FRC has made clear, the “Equality Act” would in reality create vast amounts of inequality in our society through its codification of “sexual orientation/gender identity” (SOGI) laws. Among other injustices, the Equality Act would require small business owners like bakers, florists, and photographers to celebrate same-sex weddings, allow men who identify as women to use women’s restrooms and locker rooms and compete in women’s sports, shut down faith-based adoption agencies because of their religious beliefs, and force all medical providers, regardless of their conscientious objections, to perform sex-change surgeries.

Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” gives us a unique two-fold opportunity. First, you can respond to her petition by signing FRC’s own petition to halt the Equality Act. Second, you can use technology to respond with genuine love and reconciliation toward those who see any opposition to the LGBT agenda as “hateful.”

John 13:35 tells us that “They will know you by your love for one another.” Other verses that speak truth into this are 1 Corinthians 13 and Luke 6:27-36. Christians are called to love others completely, even those who disagree with or hate us. True love does not mean agreeing on everything or accepting all lifestyle choices, but it means willing the good of the other. Christians are called to love people who experience same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria. Loving does not equate to pandering to views that contradict our beliefs. We ought to will the good of one another because we love them—because we love Christ. For this reason, we want the LGBT movement to know of God’s love for them.

Christians are called to the ministry of reconciliation, which can only be manifested in the advent of love. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 says: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting peoples’ sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”

I propose that Christians embrace their role as Christ’s ambassadors and show others Christ inside of us. 2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” When we accept our role as His ambassadors, the Holy Spirit will work through us and bust the false narrative of “hate.” Let us show so much of Christ’s love to those who disagree with us that Taylor Swift’s heart might be led to change. 

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

Minnesota Reports 3 Born-Alive Babies in 2018

by Patrina Mosley , Connor Semelsberger

July 3, 2019

Think babies aren’t being born alive after surviving an abortion attempt? Think again. From January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018, three babies in Minnesota survived abortions but later died, according to a new Minnesota state Department of Health report.

Since 2015, Minnesota has been keeping track of abortion survivors since the states’ passage of the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. The law recognizes infants who survive abortions as human persons and requires that they be provided with reasonable medical care. The law also requires information to be collected on the medical actions taken to preserve the life of the infant, whether the infant survived, and the status of a surviving infant.

Since the law went into effect, Minnesota has reported 11 babies surviving abortions:

  • five babies in 2016
  • three babies in 2017
  • three babies in 2018

Laws to require the collection of data on born-alive victims should be encouraged in all states. There are only six states that require reporting on babies born alive during abortion procedures: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Texas. As of 2017, only Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, and Oklahoma have reported this information.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control report at least 143 babies were born alive after botched abortions between 2003 and 2014 in the U.S. The CDC took this data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) Mortality Data in regard to infant deaths. These numbers are different from the number collected by the states that report born-alive infants.

As a response to the lack of reporting on abortion and abortion survivors, U.S. Representatives Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) and Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) recently introduced The Ensuring Accurate and Complete Abortion Data Reporting Act of 2019 (H.R. 3580). This bill would require all states to submit abortion data, including the number of children who survive abortions, in order to receive Medicaid funds for family planning services.

The CDC already requests abortion reporting from states. However, the reporting of this information is voluntary, which allows states to leave out certain statistics or opt out altogether. Because there are only six states that require reporting on children who survive abortions, it is vital that the U.S. Congress passes this bill so that the American people know how many innocent lives are lost because of the failure to provide life-saving care to the most vulnerable.

Efforts to protect infants who survive abortion has not been limited to gathering a few data points, as Members of Congress continue to fight for a vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (H.R. 962) which would require life-saving medical care for children born alive after abortion attempts. So far, Republicans have asked for unanimous consent to vote on this bill 67 times, and every single time Democrat leaders have said no.

Sometimes, a small symbol of humanity is all it takes to change the mind of our government officials. There is no better sign of the humanity of children who survive abortions then the soft, warm feel of the colorful baby hat given to newborns at hospitals, just like the ones in our End Birth Day Abortions Campaign. Every child deserves to wear a new baby hat, especially the three children who survived abortion attempts in Minnesota last year.

Dilshat Perhat Ataman: A Prisoner of Conscience in China

by Arielle Del Turco

July 3, 2019

As the United States and China continue to discuss trade, we have a unique opportunity to raise religious freedom concerns such as that country’s ongoing detention of Christian pastors and mass repression of Uyghur Muslims. It is therefore encouraging to see Family Research Council President and chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Tony Perkins announce yesterday that he was formally adopting Dilshat Perhat Ataman as a prisoner of conscience to highlight his case of unjust imprisonment due to his faith.

Dilshat is a Uyghur Muslim currently detained in a “re-education” internment camp in China’s Xinjiang province.

Dilshat founded and managed a popular website called “Diyarim,” which promoted Uyghur history and culture and provided a social media platform to the Uyghur community. In 2009, he was arrested by Chinese authorities and charged with “endangering state security” after a comment was posted in a chatroom on his website about the Chinese government’s suppression of Uyghur protests.

After serving five years in prison, Dilshat was released in 2014. Yet, his freedom was short-lived. In June 2018, he was rearrested without reason from the Chinese authorities—this time he was taken to a “re-education” internment camp.

Those who have been released from these camps describe how Uyghurs are tortured during interrogation, live in crowded cells, and are subjected to extensive daily regimens of Chinese Communist Party indoctrination (as seen in this BBC report). Detainees routinely face harsh treatment and are forced to live in unhygienic conditions, sometimes leading to their death. 

The Chinese government has invested a lot of resources to surveil and suppress Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.

Uyghurs are a Turkic ethnic group who are mostly Muslim. Yet, it is not a contradiction to say that Christians must care about the suffering they face due to their religious beliefs and advocate on their behalf.  

Christians believe that God is in control of human affairs yet gives people the freedom to choose their beliefs. Just as God gives people that freedom, we should defend the freedom of others to choose and live out their religious convictions without any government harassing, oppressing, imprisoning, or killing people for expressing their basic right to religious freedom.

What the Chinese government is doing to the Uyghurs is evil—and that should be something everyone is concerned about.

Dilshat is one of at least 880,000 and possibly more than 2 million Uyghurs who are detained in Chinese “re-education” internment camps.

The injustice of China’s detention of Dilshat Perhat Ataman in a “re-education” camp is obvious. Hopefully, by bringing Dilshat’s case to light, there will be a greater awareness of the plight of Uyghur Muslims who are targeted for persecution because the Chinese government views their religious beliefs as a threat to the political ideology and authority of the Communist Party.

Lemon v. The Constitution

by Nicolas Reynolds

July 1, 2019

Conservatives breathed a refreshing sigh of relief upon hearing the Supreme Court’s ruling to protect the Bladensburg cross-shaped memorial last month in American Legion v. American Humanist Association. In defending the memorial, the Court not only resolved this case’s controversy but helped shed light on religion’s place in the public square entirely. This case may prove to be a greater victory than many suppose as it looks towards the original intentions of our Founding Fathers, measuring the memorial’s legality with the Constitution rather than tests the Court has conjured up in the past.

Though the Court has had to determine how the Constitution is to be interpreted, some of the ways chosen to do so have greatly deviated from the Constitution’s plain original meaning. One of the worst interpretations of the Constitution’s Establishment Clause—the Lemon testhas played a significant role in the Court’s decisions since Lemon v. Kurtzman was decided in 1971. The Lemon test instated a three-pronged set of requirements intended to drive a wedge between Church and State—something that the Establishment Clause never envisioned, supported, or made accommodations for.

Though the Lemon test has daunted cases of religious freedom for decades, the Court’s decision to protect the Bladensburg cross-shaped memorial gives one hope for a future full reversal of Lemon. Having produced a strong 7-2 ruling in favor of the memorial, the Court once again highlighted the futility of the test. Even though the Court did not throw out Lemon entirely, their ruling greatly crippled the test, increasingly marginalizing it and making clear it is simply unhelpful. In his concurring opinion, Justice Kavanaugh highlighted its obvious flaws and increasing uselessness, as he surveyed the Court’s Establishment Clause cases to show that Lemon has not been applied in many of them.

Kavanaugh pointed out Lemon’s grave flaws by showing that many normal religious practices would be prohibited by the test. As Lemon doesn’t allow the government to act in any way that could advance or endorse religion, any form of government-granted religious accommodations and exemptions—practices that have always been fundamental within the United States—would be entirely forbidden. Kavanaugh lays out that many religious practices intertwined with daily life “’by definition’ have the effect of advancing or endorsing religion to some extent.”

Along with other justices, Justice Kavanaugh urges that a test as hostile towards religious imagery as the Lemon test is dangerously unconstitutional and should hold no place within our judicial system. Kavanaugh concurred, “The Court’s decision in this case [The American Legion v. American Humanist Association] again makes clear that the Lemon test does not apply to the Establishment Clause…”

Rather than choosing to interpret the cross as a secular symbol, Kavanaugh drives home the significance of preserving religious imagery in the public square, stating, “I fully understand the deeply religious nature of the cross. It would demean both believers and nonbelievers to say that the cross is not religious, or not all that religious.” Kavanaugh summarized and solidified the cross’s validity, choosing to understand it for what it is—the universally chosen icon to represent Christ’s death and sacrifice on Calvary.

Justice Kavanaugh, along with others, shed light on the clear truth that it is impossible to separate religion from the public square, being that the public square is comprised of religious individuals. For those that prize religious freedom as a core principle of this country, the Bladensburg memorial stands as a testimony to the Constitution’s provisions for religious freedom. This case helps illuminate how religion is not only inseparable from but also necessary for public life to flourish, something that FRC’s amicus brief highlights. In a culture that appears to be continuously straying from biblical values, it is comforting for Supreme Court Justices to stand on and for the truths that this country was founded upon.

Nicolas Reynolds is an intern at Family Research Council.

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