Month Archives: September 2020

FRC On the Hill (September 14-18)

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP

September 18, 2020

Issues related to life, family, and religious freedom continued to be debated in Congress after its return from August recess. Family Research Council wrapped up another busy week monitoring these issues and being your voice on Capitol Hill. Here are the biggest items from this week:

Pro-Life Concerns with Vaccine Development

In Wednesday’s Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on coronavirus response efforts, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) urged panelists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to pursue an ethical coronavirus vaccine. All vaccines use human tissue in their production, but not all use tissue derived from ethical sources. As Lankford explained, some companies are using stem cells from adults or the placentas of born children to pursue a vaccine, while others (such as Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) are using tissue derived from aborted children. 

Lankford voiced the concerns the pro-life community has with vaccines developed from aborted children. He reminded the scientific and medical communities that the dignity of every human being must never be compromised. He also pointed out that vaccines from ethical sources will be more effective, as they will be better received by the public. “I don’t want to have a reason for people to not go get a vaccine because they’re concerned about the origin of the vaccine,” Lankford said to the panelists. “I want as many people as possible to actually get a vaccine because I think it’s important.” 

CDC Director Robert Redfield did not have an immediate answer to the pro-life concerns with vaccine development but assured Sen. Lankford that his office would follow up with more details.

Vote on Marijuana Legalization Delayed Due To Public Pressure

On Thursday, Democratic leaders from the House of Representatives announced the postponement of the vote on the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act (H.R. 3884). If passed, this bill would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. Originally scheduled for a vote on the House floor next week, public pressure from groups opposed to the drug’s decriminalization has resulted in its delay. Family Research Council is part of the opposition effort led by Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), an organization that dedicates itself to educating and lobbying against the legalization of marijuana at both the federal and state levels.

Although Democratic leaders say they remain committed to bringing the MORE Act to a vote before the end of the year, this delay proves that public pressure has real consequences in Congress and that Americans want public officials to focus on the coronavirus pandemic, not partisan priorities. This delay will give those opposed to the decriminalization of marijuana even more time to voice their concerns with the bill and change some minds in the House of Representatives.  

Other Notable Items

  • The Trump administration proposed a new federal regulation that would expand the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy. This policy requires non-governmental organizations to agree, as a condition of their receipt of U.S. federal grant money, to neither perform nor promote abortion as a method of family planning overseas. The Trump administration’s new rule, if implemented, would apply this policy to contracts and subcontracts as well as grants.
  • House Republicans led a last-minute amendment effort to add religious liberty protections for employers to the Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 2694).
  • Democratic strategists have amplified their efforts to eliminate the filibuster if they regain control of the Senate. This move would allow a simple majority of senators to pass radical liberal policies like the Equality Act or the Green New Deal.

Ruth Moreno, a Policy & Government Affairs intern, assisted in writing this blog.

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of September 13)

by Family Research Council

September 18, 2020

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

1. Update: Facebook Attaches an Asterisk to Free Speech

The transgender lobby has taken to blocking their opponents’ free speech for made-up reasons. Recently, Facebook put its thumb on the scale of the Michigan Senate race in favor of Democratic incumbent Gary Peters by blocking a conservative organization’s $4 million ad campaign.

2. Update: New Netflix Film Sexualizes Children

Video streaming giant Netflix is drawing criticism once again, this time for hosting and promoting the film “Cuties,” which sexualizes 11-year-old girls. Having failed to learn its lesson after the trailer generated outrage last month, Netflix has gone ahead and made the movie available on its platform, despite many critics describing it as “child pornography.”

3. Blog: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial: A Monument to Freedom

The history of the United States is preserved in monuments and memorials and our nation’s capital is home to some of the world’s most recognizable and frequently visited monuments. In this edition of our Monument Blog Series, we explore the historical and spiritual themes depicted in the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

4. Washington Watch: Sen. Roger Wicker on Democrats’ plans to kill the filibuster so they can pass a far-Left agenda

Roger Wicker, U.S. Senator from Mississippi, joined Tony Perkins to discuss Democratic efforts to kill the filibuster in the U.S. Senate, which would pave the way for a far-Left legislative agenda.

5. Washington WatchPastor Jonathan Cahn on the National & Global Day of Prayer and Repentance

Jonathan Cahn, Messianic Jewish Rabbi, pastor, and author of The Harbinger II: The Return, joined Tony Perkins to discuss “The Return: National and Global Day of Prayer and Repentance” event on September 26 in Washington, D.C.

6. Washington WatchPastor Ché Ahn says California pastors are under threat of arrest if their churches continue meeting

Ché Ahn, Pastor of Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, California, joined Tony Perkins to discuss a California prosecutor threatening his church with closure and jail sentences for holding indoor church services.

7. Pray Vote Stand broadcast: The Right To Life

If there’s one issue that ought to decide the election for anyone, it’s life. Tony Perkins was joined by Rev. Dean Nelson, Congresswoman Debbie Lesko, Travis Weber, and James Robison to discuss this fundamental issue.

For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.com, our Facebook pageTwitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad.

Family Research Council’s vision is a prevailing culture in which all human life is valued, families flourish, and religious liberty thrives. Join us to learn about FRC’s work and see how you can help advance faith, family, and freedom.

Why All Christians Should Care About International Religious Freedom

by Arielle Del Turco

September 18, 2020

Between the coronavirus pandemic, racial tensions, and an election around the corner, America is dealing with a lot. The temptation to ignore the difficulties faced by others around the world—even pressing issues such as international religious freedom—is understandable.

But for a 14-year-old Christian girl forced by a Pakistani court to live with the man who kidnapped her and forced her to convert to Islam and marry him, she may place her hope in the fact that people in free countries are sounding the alarm and advocating on her behalf. This alone is reason to care about religious freedom around the globe and raise our voices on behalf of the persecuted—because many cannot speak up for themselves.

Attacks on religious freedom against those of all faiths are escalating in many regions of the world, amounting to a global crisis. Over 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries with high levels of governmental or societal religious oppression.

Christians have many reasons to prioritize religious freedom. First, because God calls us to care for the persecuted church, the downtrodden, and those who cannot help themselves (Psalm 82:3-4, Isaiah 1:17, James 1:27). Second, because Christian theology aligns with the principles of religious freedom. God does not coerce us into believing; likewise, we should not use government to coerce others. True faith must always be a free choice. Third, there are practical humanitarian benefits when religious freedom thrives, leading to freer, safer, and more prosperous societies for those that embrace it.

Scripture compels us to care for the persecuted church, the downtrodden, and those who cannot help themselves. Because God has allowed us to freely choose Him, it is right that we follow His example by ensuring everyone everywhere has the freedom to believe, without government or social coercion.

Ultimately, religious freedom affirms the human dignity of every individual by allowing them to live according to their conscience. Anything less than robust religious freedom protections is immoral. This is a more than sufficient reason for the world to care about religious freedom.

For more on the importance of international religious freedom and what you can do about it, read FRC’s new publication International Religious Freedom: What Is It and Why Should You Care?

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial: A Monument to Freedom

by Sarah Rumpf

September 15, 2020

The history of the United States is preserved in archives, books, and the collective memory of the American people. It is also preserved in monuments, memorials, and statues made from marble, granite, bronze, or plaster.

Our nation’s capital is home to some of the world’s most recognizable and frequently visited monuments. This blog series will explore the events and people they commemorate, devoting particular attention to the spiritual themes depicted. By shedding light on our nation’s deep religious heritage, this series aims to inspire the next generation to emulate virtues and merits from America’s past that are worth memorializing.

FRC’s blog series on monuments is written by FRC summer interns and edited by David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview. Be sure to read our previous posts on the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Joan of Arc Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence Memorial, the Japanese American Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and the Titanic Memorial.

The Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. honors the life and work of Thomas Jefferson—the author of the Declaration of Independence, the first secretary of state, the second vice president, and the third president of the United States. An influential figure in America’s early development, Jefferson was a lifelong advocate for limited government, religious freedom, and public education. Although Jefferson tragically failed to uphold the right of personal liberty of his fellow humans—namely, slaves—throughout his life, Jefferson’s advocacy for religious freedom continues to benefit people of all faiths, backgrounds, and ethnicities today.

Congress created the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Commission in 1934, nine years before the bicentennial of Jefferson’s birth in 1743. The site of the memorial had been originally intended for Theodore Roosevelt; however, President Franklin D. Roosevelt deeply admired Jefferson and used his influence to secure the site for the Founding Father. In 1935, the commission selected John Russell Pope, one of the nation’s most famous architects committed to the classical tradition, as the architect for the memorial.

Pope’s original design called for a huge building and the transformation of the Tidal Basin into a series of reflecting pools, rectangular terraces, and formal rows of trees. This design was controversial; many people expressed concern about the possible destruction of the Tidal Basin’s famous cherry trees. These trees had been a gift from the government of Japan in 1912 and were beloved by Washington, D.C.’s residents.

After Pope’s death in 1937, his colleagues Otto R. Eggers and David P. Higgins took over the project. President Roosevelt approved their more modest design, and Congress approved the first part of the $3 million construction cost in 1938. Work began that year and continued throughout World War II. On April 13, 1943, the bicentennial of Jefferson’s birth, President Roosevelt dedicated the completed memorial. To the 5,000 spectators and a radio audience of millions, Roosevelt proclaimed, “Today in the midst of a great war for freedom, we dedicate a shrine to freedom.”

Upon entering the Jefferson Memorial, the visitor will notice at its center the Jefferson statue, standing 19 feet tall atop a black Minnesota granite pedestal inscribed with the dates of Jefferson’s birth and death (1743-1826). The statue is surrounded by columns, quotes from Jefferson, and a coffered ceiling above. Interestingly, when the memorial construction was completed in 1943, there was a shortage of bronze due to World War II. A plaster statue was temporarily erected, to be replaced by a bronze statue in 1947. The statue depicts Jefferson holding the Declaration of Independence in his left hand. The interior of the Jefferson Memorial is comprised of white Georgia marble, the floor of pink Tennessee marble, and the massive dome of Indiana limestone. The dome’s interior is divided into two parts: the lower section has a coffered surface, and the upper section has a smooth, uninterrupted surface.

The architects of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial chose the materials not only for their aesthetic appeal but also for what they each symbolized. The exterior stonework is from Vermont, while the interior walls are from Georgia; this symbolized the geographic extremes of the original 13 colonies—from New England to the Deep South. Inside, the flooring and inner dome material are from Tennessee and Indiana; this symbolizes the expanding Union. The bronze statue of Jefferson stands atop a massive block of Minnesota granite with a gray Missouri marble ring surrounding its base; this symbolizes the impact President Jefferson had with the Louisiana Purchase during his presidency in 1803.

Thomas Jefferson has been closely associated with religious freedom for more than two centuries. The Jefferson Memorial was built to commemorate an esteemed advocate for personal spiritual freedom who believed that religion was a matter of conscience so long as it is not “injurious to others” and that the state should guarantee religious freedom for “the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindu, and infidel of every denomination.” Jefferson firmly believed that broad religious freedom and toleration were essential in a nation that was comprised of people from diverse backgrounds.

Today, Christians benefit from Jefferson’s convictions on personal religious freedom. Although Thomas Jefferson was not a Christian himself and is generally understood to have been a deist (i.e., accepting God’s existence but denying supernatural revelation and the deity and miracles of Jesus), Jefferson’s advocacy for religious freedom has helped ease the spread of the gospel. American Christians have an obligation to use the earthly freedom we have to preach spiritual freedom through the gospel. Galatians 5:13 states, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Let us continue to practice the religious liberty that Thomas Jefferson fought to preserve.

Sarah Rumpf is a Development intern at Family Research Council.

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of September 6)

by Family Research Council

September 11, 2020

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

1. Update: ‘It’s Not a Reformation, It’s a Revolution’

When the citizens are marching in the streets with guns to protect their property, we’ve got a big problem. Lawlessness is breaking out around the country as some cities have allowed burning, looting, and nightly violence to continue.

2. Update: Trump Puts Fed Wokeness to Sleep

Openly Marxist forces have made their way into our schools, our media, our government, and our streets, threatening to destroy the liberties we prize. Most recently, federal agencies have been holding mandatory re-education trainings telling federal employees that “virtually all white people contribute to racism,” or forcing them to admit they “benefit from racism.”

3. Blog: California Is Fining Churches for Using Common Sense

Even though the First Amendment clearly protects religious liberty, California continues to hinder churches’ efforts to reopen amidst the coronavirus pandemic. And, in addition to statewide restrictions preventing churches from resuming in-person services, California churches are also facing opposition at the local level.

4. Blog: Today’s “Acceptable” Racism

Americans are engulfed in a contentious discussion about racism. The recorded death of George Floyd has led to the public demanding an end to police brutality. Many individuals and organizations have embraced the slogan, “Black lives matter.” But does our society mean what it says? Does it truly care about all black lives?

5. Washington WatchFranklin Graham calls on America to fill the National Mall with ‘people of prayer’ on Sept. 26

Franklin Graham, President of Samaritan’s Purse, joined Tony Perkins to discuss hurricane relief efforts, the Washington Prayer March 2020 and the Left’s criticism of his prayer at the RNC Convention.

6. Washington WatchAl Mohler argues that the call to erase Jefferson & Washington isn’t reformation, it’s revolution

Dr. Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of The Gathering Storm: Secularism, Culture, and the Church, joined Tony Perkins to discuss what insight we can gain from scripture about lawlessness.

7. Pray Vote Stand broadcast: Conflicting Worldviews

The 2020 election is not about personalities, parties, or even politics. It is an election to determine the dominant worldview in America.” Tony Perkins discusses how to pray, vote, and stand amid warring worldviews with guests George Barna, Jack Hibbs, and more.

For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.com, our Facebook pageTwitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad.

Family Research Council’s vision is a prevailing culture in which all human life is valued, families flourish, and religious liberty thrives. Join us to learn about FRC’s work and see how you can help advance faith, family, and freedom.

Burma’s Relentless Abuse of Christians and Rohingya Muslims

by Lela Gilbert

September 9, 2020

Burma’s Christians have long faced ongoing and terrible mistreatment at the hands of the country’s militant Buddhist authorities. In fact, since 1999, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has declared Myanmar (also known as Burma) a “Country of Particular Concern” (CPC) because of its violent practices, lawless abuses, and discriminatory treatment of non-Buddhists. Burma’s regime has used fines, imprisonment, forced conversions, starvation, gang rape, and child abuse to oppress Christians.

But Christians aren’t the only ones who suffer in Burma. Muslims are also viciously persecuted.

In 2017,  triggered by a relatively small insurgency, Rohingya Muslims began to face increasing violence and fled by the thousands into neighboring Bangladesh in what many observers have called ethnic cleansing—or even genocide. Still today—three years later—the situation of the Rohingyas continues to fester.

According to USCIRF’s 2020 report, since the violence began—including the clearance operations that Burma’s security forces first launched in October 2016—nearly 725,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh, whose refugee population in Cox’s Bazar (see above image) now totals 1.1 million. One refugee told USCIRF that whereas previously the authorities in Burma’s Rakhine State only restricted Rohingya Muslims’ freedoms, since the October 2016 and August 2017 waves of violence “the authorities rape, burn, and kill them.”

On August 25, USCIRF marked the third anniversary of Burma’s Rohingya crackdown:

Three years after the beginning of the genocidal campaign against the Rohingya people, the Burmese government has done almost nothing to hold the military accountable or make conditions safe for the Rohingya to return to their homes,” USCIRF Commissioner Nadine Maenza stated. “Refugee camps are not a long-term solution for the Rohingya people. The United States and the international community must reinvigorate and catalyze efforts to permit the Rohingya to return to their home in Burma as full citizens.

At the same time, Voice of America reported, “Burmese leaders still aim to eradicate the Rohingya. The Rohingya are being destroyed. The lives of the remaining 600,000 Rohingya in Burma are under house arrest,” said Tun Khin, a leading Rohingya activist. He explained that the United States has always played a leading role in tackling ethnic crimes, and other countries will follow suit if the United States now stands up for the Rohingya.

It was long hoped that a beloved icon of freedom, Myanmar’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi—who once spent years under house arrest in her Burmese homeland, and whose appeals for peace earned her a Nobel Prize—would speak up now that she serves as “State Counsellor,” Burma’s de facto leader. But tragically, her former international honor has been tarnished.

Arab News has reported widespread international disappointment with Aung San Suu Kyi. She “has so far failed to speak out on the violence, leaving her global reputation in tatters. Rights groups, activists — including many who campaigned for her in the past — and her fellow Nobel laureates Malala Yousafzai and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have condemned her.”

Unfortunately, discrimination against the Rohingya was dramatically aggravated by a militant insurgency within the Rohingya community itself. This insurgency, known as ARSA, had its beginnings far from Southeast Asia. On August 31, 2017, the Chicago Tribune published an AP report about the group’s initial development:

The group was formed last year by Rohingya exiles living in Saudi Arabia, according to the International Crisis Group, which detailed ARSA’s origins in a report last year. It is led by Attullah Abu Amar Jununi, a Pakistani-born Rohingya who grew up in Mecca, and a committee of about 20 Rohingya emigres. ICG says there are indications Jununi and others received militant training in Pakistan and possibly Afghanistan.

The insurgents’ first attacks took place in October 2016, when more than a hundred Rohingya men, armed with various weapons, including knives, slingshots, and rifles, attacked police and killed nine officers. In August 2017, the group struck again, attacking a far larger area, which included Buddhist villages, killing many civilians as well as targeting police. Unsurprisingly, this resulted in a fierce response by the Burmese authorities, leading to the torching of numerous Rohingya villages and the killing, rape, and displacement of thousands.

The ARSA rebels have since declared a “ceasefire.” However, the damage activated by their insurgency has since resulted in the unending flood of displaced Rohingyas who clearly had nothing to do with ARSA terrorism or any other crimes. Nonetheless their plight seems never ending.

And at the same time, Burma’s Christians also continue to be mistreated and abused.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the four million Christians in Burma make up about 8.2 percent of the mostly Buddhist population. They live in the country’s margins and belong to ethnic minority groups such as the Karen, Kachin, Chin, Karenni, Lahu, and Naga. They experience everything from discrimination to violent abuse.

For example, as USCIRF recently noted:

Beginning in 2018, Burma’s Chinese-backed United Wa State Army (UWSA) has targeted Christians in territory under its control. Under the guise of confronting “religious extremism,” UWSA soldiers interrogated and detained almost 100 pastors; ordered others to leave the region; closed religious schools and churches; destroyed unauthorized churches; banned new church construction; and forcibly recruited Christian students. In late 2018, the UWSA released those detained after they signed a pledge to pray only at home. In December 2019, the UWSA reopened 51 of the more than 100 churches closed with the rest remaining closed.

Tragically for persecuted Christians—and of course for mistreated Rohingyas and other religious minorities in Burma and far beyond—little awaits them but uncertainty, deprivation, and despair. May God have mercy on them all. And may those of us who enjoy religious freedom continue to pray, provide support, and speak out on their behalf.

In North Korea, the Choice to Be a Christian Can Be Fatal

by Arielle Del Turco , Lela Gilbert

September 8, 2020

When Ji Hyeona was growing up in North Korea, the word “faith” meant being loyal to the Kim family dictators.

Religious freedom doesn’t exist in North Korea and adhering to any religion is extremely dangerous, as Ji found out for herself. One day, she was taken to the local Ministry of State Security without warning. There, she was beaten and tortured, not knowing why she was being singled out for such treatment.

Then, the authorities placed Ji’s Bible on the desk in front of her. It was a Bible her mother had brought back to North Korea after a trip to China, and Ji had begun to read it. Sadly, her own friend had reported her to the government for possessing a Bible.

At the time, Ji was able to talk her way out of further punishment, but she was informed she would not be forgiven if this happened again.

This would not be Ji’s last encounter with North Korean authorities. She managed the difficult escape from North Korea four times—and was forcibly repatriated back to North Korea by Chinese authorities three times. Forced labor in prison camps awaits those who dare leave the hermit kingdom.

Twice in China, Ji was forced into prostitution, and during one repatriation to North Korea, she returned pregnant. Because so-called “mixed-race” babies are not recognized in North Korea, repatriated defectors who return pregnant endure brutal and heartbreaking forced abortions. Ji was no exception.

Ji continues to tell her story despite how painful it is. Why? She says, “While people are dying and the rest of the world watches that… if they maintain their silence despite knowing what is going on, I don’t think that’s right.”

For nearly two decades, Open Doors’ World Watch List has continuously designated North Korea as the #1 worst persecutor of Christians in the world. The horrifying stories told by escapees like Ji describe unimaginable cruelties under the brutal Kim family’s authority.

The 2020 U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) report explains, “The (North Korean) government treats religion as a threat…Christians are especially vulnerable because the government views them as susceptible to foreign influence. … Anyone caught practicing religion or even suspected of harboring religious views in private is subject to severe punishment, including arrest, torture, imprisonment, and execution.”

On top of the hardships created by the failed communist state, speculation about the status of COVID-19 in North Korea continues. Timothy Cho from Open Doors UK, himself a North Korean defector, says that the hurting economy and widespread malnutrition make North Koreans especially vulnerable to the coronavirus: “North Korea was already presenting with existing issues of ongoing starvation and malnutrition and economic crisis. What’s been happening since this virus lockdown [is] they had closed the borders with China. So, it has radically decreased the amount of imported food and medicine, this is the reason why a lot of items’ prices have gone up to more than four times and some of these imported food and foodstuff are difficult to find in the market.”

North Korea has also experienced historic levels of rainfall this summer. Floods have destroyed hundreds of homes in addition to ruining large rice fields. Due to the fragility of the country’s agricultural system, experts suggest the year’s harvest may be significantly affected, ultimately leading to food shortages.

The secretive and controlling North Korean regime makes it difficult for new information about the country’s deplorable human rights conditions, shoddy health care system, and economic and agricultural failures to reach the rest of the world. But while the situation rarely makes international news, we would be remiss to forget or ignore the plight of North Koreas, including those who suffer for their faith every day.

Please remember faithful Christians in prayer. It takes great courage to practice one’s faith in the type of isolation forced upon North Korean believers. Simple acts like praying or owning a Bible put their very lives at risk. 

Much remains uncertain about the future of the hermit kingdom. Renewed talks between the United States and North Korea remain a possibility in the coming months and years. Meanwhile, rumors still swirl about shifting power dynamics within the regime. However, one thing is certain. No matter what developments occur among regime officials or what deals they try to strike with other nations, the United States and other free countries must do everything in their power to press for religious freedom and human rights in North Korea. Far too many people are suffering, silenced by their oppressive government and unable to speak up for themselves.

Today’s “Acceptable” Racism

by Ingrid Skop, M.D.

September 8, 2020

The people of America are engulfed in a contentious discussion about racism. The recorded death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer has been viewed by millions, and the public has responded by demanding an end to police brutality. Many individuals and organizations have embraced the slogan, “Black lives matter.” 

Yet, as often happens in today’s politically divisive climate, some actions, such as police behavior, have been closely scrutinized, while others remain unexamined. But does our society mean what it says?  Does it truly care about all black lives? Or is the present crisis merely being used to promote certain political agendas and signal “virtuous” character?

Planned Parenthood’s Eugenic Legacy

Light was introduced into a dark corner recently, when a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Manhattan announced that it was removing the name of its founder, Margaret Sanger, from its building due to her ties to the eugenics movement. It has been well documented that Margaret Sanger’s motivation for promoting birth control was to prevent births from populations she considered less desirable. Her mindset can be demonstrated by statements such as, “Eugenics without birth control seems to us a house built upon the sands. It is at the mercy of the rising stream of the unfit.” Today, Planned Parenthood is the largest supplier of abortion in the United States, and they continue Sanger’s eugenic legacy in their organizational practices.

Seventy-nine percent of Planned Parenthood’s abortion facilities are located within impoverished minority neighborhoods, and black women are disproportionately receiving abortions. Although they constitute only 12 percent of the population, they obtain 38 percent of the abortions. Black women have obtained approximately 20 million of the 65 million abortions that have occurred in the U.S. since abortion was widely legalized in 1973. Poignantly, that is more than the entire U.S. black population at the time of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Today, there are 43 million black people in the U.S.  Our country would have about 50 percent more black citizens if abortion had not ended the lives of so many black children prior to birth. Was this eugenic result premeditated by those who promote abortion?

The Effect of Abortion on the Black Family

Although rarely acknowledged by those proposing expansion of entitlement programs as the solution to racial inequality, most of the pathologies affecting black Americans can be directly traced to the breakdown of the black family. Only 25 percent of black children were born to unmarried mothers prior to abortion’s legalization, but today, 69 percent are born out of wedlock. More than 50 years of government welfare programs have proven to be a poor substitute for a stable family in the lives of black children.

How might readily accessible abortion have contributed to this change in black families? The narrative of “her body, her choice” has apparently led many men to believe that the decision to bear a child belongs to the woman alone. The presence of another option may leave black men less inclined to marry the mother of their child if a pregnancy unintentionally occurs and she chooses to give birth. Additionally, many women who desire their children may be coerced into abortions by unwilling partners. Surely, black women do not aspire to raise their children alone, but their high abortion rates and unmarried childbirth rates provide evidence for the failure of many black men to fulfill their responsibilities as fathers.

Sociologic studies have consistently documented that a father’s presence in the home decreases a family’s poverty, the likelihood that the daughters will experience teen pregnancy, and the likelihood that the sons will resort to criminality. The large number of fatherless black children being raised by single mothers undoubtedly contributes to many of the problems plaguing the black community in America today: mass incarceration, gang violence, poverty, drug abuse, poor education, and unemployment. Yet, little discussion is devoted to ways in which paternal involvement in black families could be promoted and prioritized. 

Much attention has been given to the increased mortality rates in black women surrounding pregnancy and childbirth. This has been simplistically attributed to “systemic racism,” but few are aware that the 3.3-fold increased rate of maternal mortality in black women compared to white women mirrors the 3.6-fold increased rate of abortion. Limiting the discussion to racism ignores other factors exacerbated by abortion that contribute to maternal mortality.

Poverty is a risk factor for failure to obtain appropriate medical care and may contribute to this racial disparity. Only five percent of married couples live in poverty, so the extremely high rate of single black mothers undoubtedly contributes to their poor outcomes. Risk factors for pregnancy complications such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes occur more commonly in black than white women. There may be genetic reasons for this, but poverty is also associated with these high-risk conditions. Pregnancies complicated by these co-morbidities are more likely to lead to C-section delivery, which has a far higher mortality rate.

Regardless of financial status, giving birth and caring for a child without a partner places a woman at an obvious disadvantage. If she should become ill during pregnancy or in the postpartum period, she may be unable or unwilling to seek emergency care due to a lack of social support, childcare, or transportation.

Black women more commonly have later abortions (13 percent) than white women (9 percent). The risk of death from abortion increases by 38 percent every week after eight weeks gestation. Thus, deaths directly related to physical complications of later abortions are increased in black women.

The Dire Long-Term Consequences of Abortion

Adverse mental health outcomes, such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, high risk-taking behavior, and suicide, are increased after abortion. These are common causes of “deaths of despair” in the black community.   Black women are also more likely to be the victims of violence, often from their intimate partners.

In addition to the immediate physical risks of abortion, there are long-term complications that increase a woman’s risk of death in a subsequent pregnancy. Forcibly opening a cervix that is designed to remain closed until natural childbirth may result in cervical trauma and cervical incompetence in future pregnancies, often leading to preterm birth. Black women are documented to have higher preterm birth rates, leading to much suffering for their children from the complications of prematurity. Obstetric interventions for the management of preterm birth can lead to mortality from infections or medication toxicity.

And finally, instrumental trauma to the uterus, which may occur during a surgical abortion, can cause faulty adherence of the placenta in a subsequent pregnancy, leading to premature placental separation or placental invasion into the cervix, uterine wall, or adjacent organs. There has been a 110-fold increase in “Placental Accreta Spectrum” since 1950, which can cause catastrophic hemorrhage at the time of delivery, a common cause of maternal deaths.

A Disproportionate Tragedy

Clearly, abortion has disproportionately affected the black community, leading to a decrease in their population numbers as well as many adverse consequences to women and children. Many of the pathologies affecting the black community can be at least partly attributed to the breakdown in families and the absence of paternal involvement, facilitated by abortion. Mental health complications in black women, leading to deaths of despair, can be caused by abortion. Immediate pregnancy complications, especially from dangerous late-term abortions, as well as complications in subsequent pregnancies, such as preterm delivery and abnormal placentation, may also lead to maternal morbidity and mortality. 

Is our country ready to have this hard conversation? Many people who claim to despise racism also believe abortion should be readily available to women in any situation. Are we ready to talk about how widespread abortion in the black population has become an “acceptable” form of racism in the U.S. today?

Ingrid Skop, M.D., F.A.C.O.G. has been a practicing obstetrician-gynecologist for 24 years. Dr. Skop is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a former Board Member of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), and a Charlotte Lozier Institute Associate Scholar. She is the author of FRC’s Top 10 Myths About Abortion.

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of August 30)

by Family Research Council

September 4, 2020

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

1. Update: Who Can Quiet the Riot?

For the past three months, the rioting taking places across the country has taken lives and destroyed businesses and workers’ livelihoods. There is reason to believe that the criminal activity in these riots has been organized, and Homeland Security is investigating to crack down on the perpetrators.

2. Update: Law and Order Is for Everyone

Calling for law and order was never controversial—until President Trump did it. And now that his message is resonating in America, the media has decided: restoring order isn’t just controversial, but racist too.

3. Washington Watch: Kenosha’s Scott Carpenter mourns the destruction of his family business in the city’s riots

Scott Carpenter, family business owner of B&L Office Furniture, joined Tony Perkins to discuss his perspective on law and order after having his business destroyed by rioters.

4. Washington WatchLarry Taunton pulls back the curtain on the anti-Americanism fueling the Marxist movement

Larry Taunton, Executive Director of the Fixed Point Foundation, a graduate student of Russian history and Marxism in the 1990s, and author of the soon to be released Around the World in (More Than) 80 Days: Discovering What Makes America Great and Why We Must Fight to Save It joined Tony Perkins to discuss Marxism in America, specifically the Marxist tactics spurring on riots and lawlessness across the country.

5. Washington WatchRep. Warren Davidson reminds people that, even in Congress, God doesn’t need a majority to work

Rep. Warren Davidson, U.S. Representative for the 8th district of Ohio and Member of the House Financial Services Committee, joined Tony Perkins to share how his faith has been his foundation as he has answered the calls to serve his country, first in the United States Army and then in the U.S. House of Representatives.

6. Washington WatchAndy McCarthy gets to the bottom of where the president’s power begins & ends on restoring order

Andy McCarthy, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and Senior Fellow at the National Review Institute, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the actions that can be taken to address lawlessness across the country.

7. Pray Vote Stand broadcast: Are Our Elections Safe?

Will your vote count this November? With the emergence of mail-in ballots and other potential points of fraud, we discuss ballot integrity with guests Ken Paxton, Ronnie Floyd, and Vincent Mathews.

For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.com, our Facebook pageTwitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad.

California Is Fining Churches for Using Common Sense

by Kaitlyn Shepherd

September 4, 2020

Even though the First Amendment clearly protects religious liberty, California continues to stymie churches’ efforts to reopen amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

On August 28, Governor Newsom announced a new statewide reopening plan, which replaced the previous county monitoring list. Under the new system, each county will be classified under one of four tiers. Each tier has a corresponding color that designates the county’s coronavirus risk level, which is based on the number of new coronavirus cases per day and the percentage of positive tests. Purple counties (widespread risk level) have more than seven new cases per day (per every 100,000) and more than eight percent positive tests. Red counties (substantial risk level) have four to seven new cases per day (per every 100,000) and five to eight percent positive tests. Orange counties (moderate risk level) have one to 3.9 new cases per day (per every 100,000) and two to 4.9 percent positive tests. Yellow counties (minimal risk level) have less than one new case per day (per every 100,000) and less than two percent positive tests.

Unfortunately, California’s new system fails to adequately prioritize the First Amendment rights of its churches and congregations. As of the Governor’s announcement on Friday, 38 of the state’s 58 counties (approximately 87 percent of the population) were in the highly restrictive purple tier. In these counties, churches are not allowed to hold indoor services. In red counties (currently nine counties), churches may hold indoor services, but they may only admit up to 25 percent of their building’s capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. Churches in orange counties (currently nine counties) may also hold indoor services but must limit attendance to 50 percent of building capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer. Churches in yellow counties may admit up to 50 percent of their building’s capacity, but only two counties, Modoc and Alpine Counties, are currently classified under this tier. According to industry guidance (current as of July 29), all churches have been ordered to “discontinue indoor singing and chanting activities.”

In addition to statewide restrictions preventing churches from resuming in-person services, California churches are also facing opposition at the local level. Los Angeles County’s Grace Community Church resumed in-person services on July 26. After the County threatened the church with civil and criminal penalties for continued violations of the County’s prohibition on indoor worship services, the church filed a lawsuit against Governor Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and other public officials. The County tried—and failed—four times to obtain court orders that would force the church to cease holding in-person services. On August 28, in another attempt to prevent the church from reopening, the County “terminat[ed] the church’s lease on a large portion of [its] parking lot.”

Grace Community Church is not alone in its struggle to reopen. In Ventura County, a judge held Godspeak Calvary Chapel and its pastor, Rob McCoy, in contempt of court. He fined the church $3,000 for holding indoor services in violation of a temporary restraining order that mandated compliance with the County’s prohibition on such services. And in Santa Clara County, North Valley Baptist Church has been fined over $52,000 for continuing to hold in-person services.

As churches in California and across the country consider reopening, they should make every effort to reopen safely by taking reasonable precautions and following common-sense guidelines. It is high time that California allows them to do so.

Kaitlyn Shepherd is a legal intern with Policy & Government Affairs at Family Research Council.

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