Month Archives: June 2021

Southern Baptists Stand With Uyghur Muslims Against Atrocities

by Arielle Del Turco

June 24, 2021

This is part one of a three-part series highlighting significant resolutions passed by the Southern Baptist Convention this year that apply a biblical worldview to critical cultural and political issues.

At the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) largest gathering in over two decades, a resolution was passed condemning atrocities the Chinese Communist Party is currently committing against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. America’s second-largest Christian denomination might seem like an unlikely champion of a non-Christian minority group’s human rights, but that makes the resolution all the more meaningful.

Dozens of resolutions are submitted at every annual SBC meeting. Only a handful are accepted by the Resolution Committee and brought to a vote. By passing a resolution, the SBC is collectively agreeing to publicly affirming the statement. Many cultural, political, ethical, and theological questions and challenges are currently facing the SBC. The fact that a resolution on the Uyghur genocide was brought to the forefront is significant.

Around 17,000 “messengers” were sent to the Convention to represent their respective Southern Baptist churches and participate in the votes. Their choice to condemn human rights violations in China is meaningful.

For more on why the Uyghur genocide is an issue Christians should care about and to see the statements the SBC agreed on, read the full text of the resolution, reprinted here:  

RESOLUTION 8: ON THE UYGHUR GENOCIDE

WHEREAS, “God created man in his own image” (Gen 1:27), people are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), and “The life…[and] breath of all humanity…is in [God’s] hand (Job 12:10); and

WHEREAS, One of God’s commandments is “Do not murder” (Exodus 20:13); and

WHEREAS, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of [God’s] throne; faithful love and truth go before [Him]” (Psalm 89:14); and

WHEREAS, We are called to “Provide justice for the needy … [to] uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute” (Psalm 82:3) and to “remember those in prison, as though you were in prison with them, and the mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily” (Hebrews 13:3); and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists resolved in 2019 “On Biblical Justice” that “we commit to address injustices through gospel proclamation, by advocating for people who are oppressed and face wrongs against them”; and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists resolved in 2018 “On Reaffirming The Full Dignity Of Every Human Being” that persecution of religious minorities constitutes a significant challenge which threatens the dignity and worthiness of human beings and likewise resolved that “we affirm the full dignity of every human being of whatever political or legal status or party and denounce rhetoric that diminishes the humanity of anyone”; and

WHEREAS, Credible reporting from human rights journalists and researchers concludes that more than a million Uyghurs, a majority Muslim ethnic group living in Central and East Asia, have been detained in a network of concentration camps in the Xinjiang Province in the People’s Republic of China; and

WHEREAS, Atrocities reported by major media outlets against the Uyghur people by the Communist Party of China include forced abortions, rape, sexual abuse, sterilization, internment in concentration camps, organ harvesting, human trafficking, scientific experimentation, the sale of human hair forcibly taken from those in concentration camps, family separation, forced reeducation of children, forced labor, and torture; and

WHEREAS, The U.S. State Department, Canadian Parliament, UK Parliament, Dutch Parliament, and Lithuanian Parliament have declared the actions of the Chinese Communist Party against the Uyghur people to be a genocide; and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists stated in 1999 in “Resolution on Halting Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing” that “ethnic cleansing is a crime against humanity in which one ethnic group expels members of other ethnic groups from towns and villages it conquers in order to create an enclave for members of their ethnic group”; and

WHEREAS, In the same resolution in 1999, Southern Baptists stated that “genocide is a crime against humanity in which one group dehumanizes and murders members of another people group—whether national, ethnic, or religious—with the intent to destroy that group completely”; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, June 15–16, 2021, condemn the actions of the Chinese Communist Party against the Uyghur people, and that we stand together with these people against the atrocities committed against them; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call upon the Chinese Communist Party and the People’s Republic of China to cease its program of genocide against the Uyghur people immediately, restore to them their full God-given rights, and put an end to their captivity and systematic persecution and abuse; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we commend the United States Department of State for designating these actions against the Uyghur people as meeting the standard of “genocide”; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we commend the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for their ongoing advocacy for the Uyghur people and for being among the first major organizations to advocate for their cause; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we strongly urge the United States government to continue to take concrete actions with respect to the People’s Republic of China to bring an end to the genocide of the Uyghur People, and work to secure their humane treatment, immediate release from reeducation camps, and religious freedom; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we implore the United States government to prioritize the admission of Uyghurs to this country as refugees, and provide resources for their support and resettlement; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we earnestly pray for the Uyghur people as they suffer under such persecution; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we earnestly pray for the Christian workers and relief workers who bring the Uyghur people physical aid and the message of hope found in the gospel of Jesus Christ, so they can experience freedom found only in Christ.

This SBC resolution highlights the powerful truth that all people possess inherent dignity because they are created in the image of God. As such, Christians have a responsibility to treat everyone with respect, stand against injustice, and defend those facing oppression or mistreatment.

The resolution quotes Psalm 82:3, which says, “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.” To this end, the SBC rightly adopted the above resolution, thereby condemning injustice and calling for action and prayer on behalf of the downtrodden. May we all commit to do the same.

Thinking Biblically About Racism

by Joseph Backholm

June 23, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts on the Center for Biblical Worldview page.

Critical Race Theory (CRT) seems to have captured the public consciousness as of late. Ideological battle lines are being drawn over it—some states are moving to ban it, while some government agencies are looking to mandate it where they can. Local communities are divided over whether or not it should be taught in schools, and school board meetings are becoming the front lines of this new culture war. For something as hotly debated as CRT, it is curious that there does not seem to be a common understanding or agreement about what it is or how it ought to be defined. However, generally speaking, CRT seems to teach that, in America, being a white person is always a problem, and not being a white person is always a sign of oppression.

As with any issue, Christians’ primary goal regarding race and racism should be to view it through the lens of Scripture and try to think about it the way God does. When seeking to think biblically about race, here are some truths that may be helpful.  

1. God made us different on purpose.

In Genesis 1-2, we read that God made mankind in His image, but one only needs to look around to see that He didn’t make us all exactly the same. That means that there is something in our differences that reflects the image of God in different ways. There is no biblical reason to try to minimize or ignore these obvious differences. We don’t need to be “color blind” any more than we need to be “height blind.” Pretending not to notice that the seven-foot man is tall would just be weird. Some people are taller while others are shorter. Some people have darker skin, and some people have lighter skin. We’re different. God made us that way. The problems arise if we start treating people as being lesser than ourselves based on the different ways God made us.

2. God does not show favoritism.

Although God knows we are different, He expects us to love one another (Mk. 12:31) and not look down on each other based on our differences. There are many biblical reasons for racism being bad. Not only is it prideful, unloving, and unkind, it is not considering others as better than yourself, which Christians are commanded to do (Phil 2:3). Beyond that, racism is a show of favoritism, which Christians are repeatedly warned against (Rom. 2:11, Acts 10:34, Eph. 6:9). Racial favoritism isn’t the only kind that God disapproves of; Christians are also forbidden from showing favoritism toward the rich (James 2:2-4). However you think about it, showing favoritism is wrong.

3. God hates oppression.

Although God is opposed to favoritism generally, He is especially opposed to the kind of favoritism that oppresses the vulnerable. In fact, God considers the way we treat the vulnerable to be an indication of what we think about Him.

Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him. (Prov. 14:31, ESV)

If we oppress the vulnerable, we are not only propagating injustice, but we are also making ourselves God’s enemy.

Do not rob the poor, because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate, for the Lord will plead their cause and rob of life those who rob them. (Prov. 22:22-23)

God told Israel that His blessing was conditional upon their willingness to end oppressive practices.

For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever. (Jer. 7:5-7)

4. God wants us to come to the aid of the oppressed.

God not only wants us to avoid being oppressive, but He also wants us to stop others from being oppressive as well.

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. (Psalm 82:3-4)

We are also supposed to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. (Prov. 31:8-9)

For the Christian, believing that something God says is bad is in fact bad is not adequate. God wants us to be part of the solution.

5. The oppressed have responsibilities, too.

Although God hates oppression, being oppressed is not a license to sin. God wants us to treat those who oppress us in the way Jesus treated those who oppressed Him. Paul tells those who are oppressed:

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. (Rom. 12:14)

Jesus said:

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. (Mat. 5:44-45)

Jesus also said that an inability to love our enemies is evidence of our own selfishness:

If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. (Luke 6:32)

We must forgive those who wrong us (Rom. 12:17; Mat. 6:15, 18:21-22; 1 Pet. 3:9) and not seek revenge. As Paul said to the Romans:

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Rom. 12:19)

God wants us to oppose injustice with a heart of love rather than a heart of bitterness.

6. God cares more about our actions than our skin color.

Today’s culture is fixated on what people look like. Although an intersectional approach gives people bonus points and deductions based on their sex or pigmentation, God will judge us by our actions: “He will render to each one according to his works” (Rom. 2:6). God is most interested in helping His image-bearers to be righteous like Him. As always, “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). Our skin color is a real and wonderful part of who God made us to be, but it is not the thing that matters most to Him. Therefore, it should not be the thing that matters most to us.

7. Racism is a symptom, not the disease.

Racism is an undeniable evil, but it is not humanity’s primary challenge. Ever since mankind first tried to convince ourselves that we could be like God (Gen. 3:5), we have been trying to make ourselves feel superior to those around us. The strong feel superior to the weak, the rich feel superior to the poor, the beautiful feel superior to the ordinary. Racism is simply another manifestation of pride, and we know God hates racism because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). Speaking through Solomon, God uses even stronger language: “Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate” (Prov. 8:13). Even if everyone’s skin color was the same, our sin would still compel us to elevate ourselves at the expense of others.

8. Your biggest problems in life are inside you.

The biggest problem we face is a sinful heart. The apostle Paul described it this way:

For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. (Rom. 7:19)

Jesus explained that this is the function of a corrupt heart:

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. (Mat. 15:18-19)

The prophet Jeremiah explained:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jer. 17:9)

Our own hearts are a much greater threat to us than systemic injustices. Fixing broken systems will accomplish little if we have not won the battle inside ourselves. However, if each of us wins the interior battle with our hearts, we will find a dramatic improvement in the exterior systems. Let’s make sure we don’t put the cart before the horse.

State Round-Up: Protecting Abortion Survivors

by Chantel Hoyt

June 23, 2021

Editor’s note: This is part of an ongoing series about key provisions that states have advanced in 2021 to defend the family and human dignity.

Protecting the lives of born children is basic human decency. Therefore, you’d expect that providing care for babies born alive following an attempted abortion would be a no-brainer. However, as common sense is becoming less common in D.C.(where House Democrats blocked 80 unanimous consent requests to bring even this modest level of protection to the House floor in 2019), state legislators have taken it upon themselves to codify common sense laws. Since 2019, support for state-level Born-Alive Protection Acts has skyrocketed. From 2015-2018, an average of five bills were introduced every year. This jumped to 28 in 2019, 33 in 2020, and 37 in 2021. Over a six-year period, the number of Born-Alive bills introduced in a single year rose by 700 percent. This year has already set the record for enacted bills with five (in Alabama, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Kentucky).

These state laws are the result of a growing awareness of abortion’s inhumanity. In 2015, the Center for Medical Progress began releasing undercover videos of abortionists and Planned Parenthood directors speaking matter-of-factly about the horrific acts that qualify as business as usual at their facilities. The infamous case of Philadelphia abortionist and convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell in 2013, as well as more recent reports from the CDC, prove infants are sometimes born alive as a result of failed abortions. These reports are most certainly underestimated, as only eight states report the number of infants born alive after attempted abortions. Currently, only 18 states have strong born-alive protections for infants who survive abortions.

Born-Alive Infant Protection Acts provide necessary protections for abortion survivors. The particulars of these bills vary, but the strongest versions include five key provisions:

  1. Practitioners must exercise professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life of infants who survive abortion;
  2. Infants who survive abortions have the same right to medical care as any other infant born alive;
  3. Hospitalization for the surviving infant and/or the presence of a second physician during the abortion;
  4. A penalty for noncompliance (criminal, civil, and/or professional); and
  5. A reporting requirement.

Family Research Council has created four interactive pro-life maps that rank each state based on its current pro-life laws. FRC’s born-alive map ranks states on a five-tiered scale—ranging from “Removed Protection” (i.e., the state previously had born-alive protections but repealed them) to “Best Protection”—based on how many of the above key provisions the state has in statute.

This year, 34 born-alive bills were introduced in state legislatures across 18 states.

  • Two of these bills, Ohio SB 157 and South Dakota HB 1051, would fill in gaps in existing statute, giving these states the best level of born-alive protections. Ohio’s bill would add reporting requirements to current statute, while South Dakota’s bill would add four key provisions that have been lacking (a “skill, care, and diligence” requirement, civil and professional penalties, hospitalization requirement, and reporting requirements).

19 bills introduced in eight states (North Carolina, Hawaii, Oregon, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Illinois, and New York) would bring their states up to “Strong Protection” on FRC’s map. Illinois’ bills would only apply these protections to “viable” infants. FRC supports bills that apply born-alive protections to infants regardless of gestational age. The “viable” qualifier makes the Illinois bills weaker, although they still contain enough protections to move Illinois up to “Strong” status.

Three bills introduced in three states (Illinois, Wyoming, and New York) this year would give their states “Weak Protections.”

  • New York’s bill (A 7437) is very weak, only applying its protections to infants up to 20 weeks gestation. However, the bill would still bring New York to a higher level of protection than it currently has (New York currently ranks as “Removed Protections”).
  • Likewise, Wyoming’s bill (SF 34) only applies its protections to “viable” infants but still provides these infants with more protections than before (Wyoming had “No Protections” before this bill).

Four born-alive bills have been enacted this year in four different states.

  • The most dramatic of these bills is South Dakota HB 1051 (mentioned previously), which included each of the key provisions that the state was previously missing (a “skill, care, and diligence” requirement, a health care requirement, civil and professional penalties, and a reporting requirement), bringing the state up from “Weak Protections” to the best possible born-alive protections.
  • Kentucky SB 9 included four out of five key provisions (a “skill, care, and diligence” requirement; a health care requirement; criminal, civil, and professional penalties; and a statement declaring the infant’s right to medical care), moving the state from “No Protections” to “Strong Protections.”
  • Montana HB 167 included three out of five key provisions (a “skill, care, and diligence” requirement, criminal penalties, and a statement declaring the infant’s right to medical care), which would move the state from “Weak Protection” to “Strong Protection” (the state already has criminal penalties for knowingly or negligently causing the death of a premature infant born alive). This bill creates a referendum, so voters will decide if it goes into effect in the state’s November 2022 election.
  • Lastly, Wyoming SF 34 (mentioned previously) was the weakest bill enacted this year. It included the “skill, care, and diligence” requirement but no other provisions. In addition, this bill only applied this protection to “viable” infants, moving the state from “No Protection” to “Weak Protection.”

From 2019 to 2020, 55 bills were introduced in 15 states. Of these, four were enacted: in West Virginia (HB 4007 in 2020), Texas (HB 16 in 2019), and Arkansas (SB 278 and SB 3 in 2019).

  • West Virginia’s bill moved the state from “No Protection” to “Strong Protection,” as it added every key provision to state law except for reporting requirements.
  • Texas’ bill moved the state from “Weak Protection” to “Best Protection,” building on a prior statement that had declared infants’ right to medical care and added reporting requirements to state law.
  • Arkansas’ bills established reporting requirements for infants who survive abortions, moving the state from “Strong Protection” to “Best Protection” (a 2017 bill established other born-alive protections).

Born-Alive Infant Protection Acts are an appropriate and urgent response to a harsh reality: babies born alive following failed abortions do not enjoy the full legal protections they are due apart from such laws and are frequently left to die. Abortion survivors deserve the same level of care as any other infant. This should be non-controversial. If the last three years are any indication, states are sure to continue introducing and enacting strong protections for born children in the coming years, perhaps one day making such protections the norm, rather than the exception.

IRF 101: Slow Progress Towards Religious Freedom in Uzbekistan

by Tyler Watt , Ben Householder

June 23, 2021

This blog is part of an International Religious Freedom 101 series providing an overview of religious freedom challenges in countries around the world. Read our previous installments on Turkey, PakistanSri Lanka, and Vietnam.

Aimurat Khayburahmanov, a Christian Uzbekistani, was arrested in 2008 for holding prayer meetings in his home, in violation of Uzbekistan’s oppressive laws forbidding religious gatherings held outside of registered churches and worship sites. He was charged with participation in an “extremist” religious group, and faced up to 15 years imprisonment.

Khayburahmanov was jailed for three months, and later questioned by the authorities. They pressured him to sign a statement saying that he would neither meet with other Christians nor possess Christian literature. This gross violation of Khayburahmanov’s rights is just one example of the persecution that has long been carried out in Uzbekistan.

The former Soviet state of Uzbekistan exists in a region of the globe that elicits much political attention, and yet, Uzbekistan itself is far from the minds of most Americans. The nation’s powerful executive branch ensures that public policy reflects the personal interests of the president, with disastrous consequences to religious liberty. Though Uzbekistan has moved towards reform in recent years, the religious liberty of its citizens is still dangerously restricted.

Religious Groups Under Pressure

An estimated 2 percent of Uzbekistanis are Christians, including Eastern Orthodox, Catholics, and Protestants. As such a small minority, they are extremely vulnerable to pressure from the government. Members of non-Muslim religious minorities face intense social pressure to refrain from evangelism, thus preventing them from expanding their faith communities.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are particularly targeted, as their religious beliefs prohibit them from fulfilling Uzbekistan’s compulsory military service requirement. Several have been arrested and sentenced to prison because of their beliefs in recent decades, although authorities seem to be relaxing their policy for conscientious objectors. Nonetheless, Jehovah’s Witnesses are only allowed to gather in one congregation, in one city. All other assemblies are considered unlawful.

Road to Religious Recognition

Nascent religious groups face an upward fight in pushing for recognition by the government. Though the government and the state are officially secular, and all faiths are equal under the law, individuals are prohibited from gathering for religious reasons if their faith community is not registered. This affects thousands of Uzbekistanis. Shia Muslims, which make up 1 percent of Uzbekistan’s population, are not officially recognized and have no sanctioned mosque to meet in. The same is true for several protestant denominations and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who struggle to find an accessible place to practice their faith.

Christ reminds us in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them.” This verse holds equally true today, reminding us that Christians thrive in a faith community where they can worship and pray together. The importance of corporate worship is not lost on Muslims and Jews, who strongly desire to express their faiths in in mosques and synagogues, and who also fall victim to Uzbekistan’s restrictive policies.

Restrictions on Muslims

Although Uzbekistanis are predominantly Muslim, with more than three-quarters of the country’s population following Islam, the secular government has nonetheless adopted and enforced policies that are negatively impactful to devout Muslims. Women are forbidden from wearing the hijab publicly, and Muslim men are not allowed to grow their beards long as is their religious custom. Though these laws are not frequently enforced, their presence “on the books” is a source of concern.

One imam who petitioned the new regime to overturn this longstanding rule was fired from his job in 2018, as a direct result of his opposition to the status quo. Eight Muslim bloggers who criticized Uzbekistan’s oppressive policies and called for a less secularized society were imprisoned for their views that same year.

Improving Imperfection?

Uzbekistan has been designated as a “Country of Particular Concern” or as a country on the “Special Watch List” by the U.S. State Department since 2006, but recent developments have moved the country in a positive direction. Following the death of longtime autocrat President Slam Karimov in 2016, the new President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has taken steps toward liberalizing the nation’s oppressive policies. A government blacklist that included 17,000 names of “religious extremists” was reduced to about 1,000 names. Though the government raided more than 350 unregistered places of worship in 2017-18, no raids were reported in 2019, indicating a shift away from strict enforcement of the more extreme policies.

In December 2020, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Uzbekistan would be removed from the Special Watch List of countries that threaten religious liberties. However, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommended that Uzbekistan be added back onto the list.

Though the U.S. State Department lauded the “real progress” made by Uzbekistan in addressing their religious freedom violations, there is much work to be done before the situation there is resolved, and freedom is guaranteed to all believers.

Tyler Watt is an intern with the Center for Religious Liberty in FRC’s Policy & Government Affairs Department. Ben Householder is an intern in State and Local Affairs with FRC’s Policy & Government Affairs Department.

New Barna Research Reveals Extent of America’s Loss of Faith

by David Closson , Molly Carman

June 22, 2021

Last year, the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, under the direction of George Barna, conducted a national survey that found only six percent of American adults have a biblical worldview. In light of this finding, Barna conducted another survey to examine the shift in faith commitments over the past few decades in America. The results of this new survey have now been published, and Barna shared the results with FRC’s Joseph Backholm on Washington Watch. Barna noted that the survey reveals alarming declines in generational commitment to any particular worldview, stating, “This represents the most rapid and radical cultural upheaval our nation has ever experienced.”

The Cultural Research Center previously released the results of three other worldview surveys conducted earlier this year:

  • The first of these concluded that America’s dominant worldview is Syncretism, which isn’t actually a worldview at all but rather “a disparate, irreconcilable collection of beliefs” that people paste together to suit themselves.
  • The second survey concluded that America’s most popular worldview is what can be called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. Components of this worldview include: “belief in a God who remains distant from people’s lives” and “the universal purpose of life of being happy and feeling good about oneself.”
  • The third survey found that Millennials are “substantially more likely” than previous American generations to “reject biblical principles in favor of more worldly spiritual perspectives and practices.”

The results of these surveys (which will be featured together in the 2021 edition of the Cultural Research Center’s annual American Worldview Inventory) provide a broader understanding of the state of worldview today and some of the most significant changes that have occurred over the years.

The survey discussed on Washington Watch concentrated on three areas—Hispanic faith, fastest-growing religious faiths, and Christianity’s status—and their associated worldview shifts over the past three decades (1991-2021). Barna remarked, “We have seen significant changes in the past, but I do not think that we have seen the quantity of change barreling down the freeway the way it is right now.”

Over the past three decades, George Barna has conducted a similar survey every year to assess worldview trends in America. Although the questions have not varied much year to year, Barna noted that when you consider the decline in biblical worldview and “you look at the combination of those factors, you get a pretty good sense of the heartbeat of America spiritually. And the changes there are so dramatic, that the size of those changes, the magnitude of the shift even surprised me a little bit.”

According to Barna’s research, Hispanics represent the fastest-growing demographic in America. Over the past 30 years, however, there has been a significant decrease in Hispanics who adhere to the Catholic faith, with a slight increase in Protestantism. Meanwhile, there has been a significant increase in what Barna refers to as the “Don’ts” (those who don’t believe, don’t know, or don’t care if God exists). The increase in those with no religious affiliation suggests that assimilation into American culture increasingly means assimilation into secularism. As Barna noted, “Frankly, the culture is impacting the Christian church and the Christian faith more than the Christian church or Christian faith are impacting the culture.” Notably, increasing belief in reincarnation, declining belief in a literal hell, and the pervading belief that people are basically good are other indicators that Christianity is losing influence in America.

One of the survey results Barna found most surprising is the growth of the Islamic faith in America: “When I started measuring that [the Islamic faith] 30, almost 40, years ago, there was virtually no presence of Islam in America,” explained Barna, “Now, we see that that has been growing, slowly but significantly, to the point where it is no longer just an asterisk in the reports. Now, it’s a significant faith group. Right now, in America, it appears that the number of Muslims here outnumber how many Jews we have in America,” he concluded.

The “Don’ts” have also grown significantly: from only 12 percent of the population in 2011 to 34 percent in 2021. Significantly, 43 percent of Millennials are considered “Don’ts” in Barna’s research, meaning they don’t believe or know if God exists.

Survey results like these are troubling; they reveal important trends in our culture with missiological implications. As George Barna explained, “[A] shared consensus of beliefs and values no longer exists. We are moving into a very different culture where people are saying, ‘I don’t want the Bible, I don’t want God, and I don’t want the church.’”

But even though our culture does not want the Bible, God, or the church, it is important for followers of Jesus to remain faithful. As fewer people share our theological and worldview commitments, Christians will need courage that was not required of recent generations of believers. Of course, standing for God’s truth in a world that is increasingly dark spiritually can be difficult, and it’s not easy to stand alone. Thankfully, we can rest in God’s promise for those who stay rooted in Him and His Word:

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit. (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

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

by Family Research Council

June 18, 2021

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

1. Update: In Mother Words, Biden Disses Women

Joe Biden ran on an absurdly radical platform for a “moderate,” but it looks like he saved a lot of his truly crazy ideas for the White House. Just when Americans think his policies can’t get any more deranged, he unleashes a budget that cancels moms! In a bizarre attempt to transgender the English language, Biden has decided to bleep out the word “mother” and replace it with “birthing people.”

2. Update: At DOJ, a Brief Encounter with LGBT Outrage

The Biden administration has pledged allegiance to the LGBT cause so completely that it can’t even give religious freedom a passing nod without being skinned alive by the radical Left. Recently, when the Justice Department hinted at defending the constitutional rights of Christian colleges, the fringe wing of the Left blew a gasket. The DOJ is “aligning itself with anti-LGBTQ hate,” they cried.

3. Blog: Thinking Biblically About Trends in Worldview

Today in America, there is a staggering disparity between those who claim to have a biblical worldview and those who actually have a consistent worldview shaped by Scripture. A recent survey conducted by FRC’s Senior Research Fellow George Barna indicates that a mere 6 percent of American adults possess a biblical worldview, despite 51 percent thinking they have one.

4. Blog: Book Review: Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe

The call for social justice is flooded with many voices advocating for various political solutions to our society’s perceived injustices. Many wonder what is the solution? In Fault Lines theologian Voddie Baucham Jr. equips Christians to identify the errors underlying Critical Social Justice ideology and encourages us to pursue biblical social justice instead.

5. Washington Watch: Marsha Blackburn, Steve Daines, Mark Brnovich, Vicky Hartzler

Tony was joined by Marsha Blackburn, U.S. Senator from Tennessee, to discuss the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on immigration. Steve Daines, U.S. Senator from Montana, talked about President Biden’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and overviewed his bill that would protect babies with Down syndrome from selective abortions. Mark Brnovich, Arizona Attorney General, urged U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to respect state sovereignty. And, Vicky Hartzler, U.S. Representative for Missouri, warned of the military and economic threats by China and the human rights abuses by the Chinese Communist Party.

6. Washington WatchChris Mitchell, Mary Szoch, Tony Perkins, George Barna

Guest host Joseph Backholm was joined by Chris Mitchell, Middle East Bureau Chief for CBN News, to discuss the Israeli Parliament’s approval of its new government and prime minister. Mary Szoch, FRC’s Director of the Center for Human Dignity, shared an update on North Carolina’s HB 453, a bill which would ban selective abortions of babies with Down syndrome. Tony Perkins, President of FRC and Vice Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, responded to the latest threats to religious freedom in both Finland and Nigeria. And, George Barna, FRC’s Senior Research Fellow for the Center for Biblical Worldview, explained recent research that identifies dramatic changes in long-term faith commitments over the past 30 years.

7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: Life is Winning in America

On this edition of Pray Vote Stand, Tony Perkins was joined by Phil Bryant, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Gary Bauer, and Flip Benham to discuss and celebrate the success of many pro-life efforts across the nation and pray for the day when the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision will be sent to the dustbin of history.

The Supreme Court Protects Religious Liberty—Barely

by Katherine Beck Johnson

June 17, 2021

Catholic Social Services’ (CSS) 9-0 victory before the Supreme Court today in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, while unanimous, can’t be allowed to overshadow serious differences among the justices on how to approach religious liberty.

This case involved CSS’s ability to operate in accordance with their Catholic faith. The City of Philadelphia had pressured CSS to either give up the Church’s teaching on marriage and family or give up their ministry of finding children loving homes. CSS refused to go against its strongly-held religious belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. After years of litigation, the Supreme Court today held that Philadelphia violated the First Amendment by allowing secular but not religious exceptions to their fostering contracts, like the one held by CSS.

To be clear, this decision was a win. For now, CSS will be able to operate in accordance with its religious beliefs and continue placing children in most need. The organization will not be forced to shut its doors because it refuses to compromise its faith.

Unfortunately, the win was narrow, coming up short of a huge victory. The Supreme Court did the bare minimum to protect CSS and other faith adherents. It was only because Philadelphia had other exceptions, but not religious ones, that the Court found the city in violation of the First Amendment. As Justice Alito noted in his concurrence, the secular exceptions were essentially boilerplate language in the city’s contract that they did not enforce and will be very easy for them to delete—effectively leaving CSS with no protection. As Justice Alito said, “[t]his decision might as well be written on the dissolving paper sold in magic shops.”

The Court should have overturned Employment Division v. Smith, which held that a law is constitutional as long as it is generally applicable and does not target religion. Smith was wrong when it was decided, and it is wrong today. Justice Gorsuch was correct when he said, “[o]ne way or another, the majority seems determined to declare there is no “need” or “reason” to revisit Smith today. But tell that to CSS. Its litigation has already lasted years—and today’s (ir)resolution promises more of the same.”

The ever-growing demands from the Left and their radical gender ideology being imposed on more and more of America make it increasingly impossible for a person to live out their Christian faith while operating in the foster care and adoption space (or many other aspects of society). Evidently, the City of Philadelphia would rather children languish in the system without loving homes than allow CSS to operate in accordance with its faith. Catholics in Philadelphia and throughout our country deserve better than that—and are afforded more than that in our Constitution.

Although today’s opinion allows CSS to continue operating without compromising its faith, that likely won’t be the case for long. Soon, the Court will have to answer if a city can force a religious agency to violate its beliefs if no secular exceptions were provided. The answer is no, and that should have been the answer today. Justices Roberts, Barrett, Kavanaugh, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan refused to answer this.

Today, Justices Alito, Thomas, and Gorsuch were the only members of the nation’s highest court who demonstrated awareness of the pressing need to revisit Smith and rightly protect religious adherents. Let us hope more justices join them in the future.

Human-Animal Chimeras Are a Bioethical Nightmare

by Joy Zavalick

June 16, 2021

Family Research Council has published a new resource outlining the ethical considerations of human-animal chimera research. In this report, Mary Szoch explains that these lab-developed interspecies creatures are composed of both human and animal DNA.

The report highlights that though the National Institutes of Health (NIH) currently bans federal funding for this area of experimentation, mounting pressure from the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) and the apathy of the Biden administration pose risks to the ethical future of federally funded research. A recent amendment introduced by Senator Mike Braun (R-Ind.) that would have banned the creation of human-animal chimeras failed to pass the Senate in a 49-48 party line vote, demonstrating the political division surrounding this issue.

Human-Animal Chimeras: Unethical and Unnecessary delves into the research that has continually blurred ethical lines in the pursuit of “successful” trials and the progression of chimera experimentation. It describes the creation of the 14-Day Rule in 1979, which limits the sustaining of human embryos in vitro to 14 days after fertilization.

When researchers succeeded in sustaining an embryo past nine days in 2016, however, this rule was revisited by the NIH to consider extending researchers the freedom to continue their trials past 14 days. Mary Szoch writes that, “the 14-Day Rule was simply an arbitrary marker allowing scientists to advance to the point science allowed while simultaneously professing that there were ethical limits to the research.” The NIH is once again reconsidering the rule after a scientist partnering with China succeeded in sustaining a human-monkey chimera embryo to 20 days.

The report also considers the purported purpose of human-animal chimera research that occurs despite lack of current federal funding. There is nothing useful to glean from using interspecies chimeras to study human diseases since the research will not consider the factors unique to actual human beings, such as genetic makeup, environment, and diet.

Perhaps most significantly, the report lists major ethical concerns posed by the development of a creature that is part human and part animal: “Is this new creature classified as a human, animal, or both? Will this creature be self-aware? […] Is it ethical to create an organism that has some human characteristics only for the purpose of studying it and using its parts?”

A key conclusion that this report draws from the capricious ethical standards for experimentation with human embryonic cells is that researchers must weigh whether they “should” do something just because they “can” do something.

Christians evaluating the progression of human-chimera research ought to consider 1 Corinthians 6:12, which states, “’All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything.” As believers inhabit a fallen world, they must carefully consider the morality of every decision and advocate for justice when institutions permit evil—especially an evil that denies the dignity of the human person.

Authentic Justice is Biblical Justice

by Jaelyn Morgan

June 15, 2021

A Book Review of Voddie Baucham Jr.’s Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe

The call for social justice from woke activists is loud and overwhelming. With so many voices advocating for various political solutions to our society’s perceived injustices, many Americans feel overwhelmed and wonder, what is the solution? Anarchy? Rebellion? Reparations? Reconciliation? However, beyond the outward expressions of injustice and external solutions to real problems lies a spiritual battle between competing worldviews. In Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe, theologian Voddie Baucham Jr. equips Christians to identify the worldview conflict underlying contemporary demands for social justice and exhorts them to pursue biblical social justice instead of the Critical Social Justice ideology which has captivated the Western world.

Summary

At the onset of Fault Lines, Baucham traces the thought line of Critical Social Justice (CSJ), including Karl Marx (Conflict Theory), Antonio Gramsci (Hegemony), the Frankfurt School (Critical Theory), Critical Race Theory (CRT), and Intersectionality (I). According to Baucham, biblical social justice and CSJ are currently separated by fault lines. However, he predicts that an earth-shattering catastrophe will soon reveal that both parties stand on opposing sides of a vast divide.

In chapter one, “A Black Man,” Baucham contextualizes his assessment of the issue, describing his upbringing in newly desegregated California with a strong mother and an emphasis on personal responsibility (19). In the second chapter, “A Black Christian,” Baucham shares his conversion testimony and assimilation into the Southern Baptist Convention, contrasting his welcoming experience into a white church with his unwelcoming experience in a formerly all-white school. He also notes that his introduction to racial reconciliation came from white, not black, Christians.

In chapter three, Baucham discusses the prevalence of false stories in the current narrative of social justice, specifically the false premise that “police are killing unarmed black men” (45).

In chapters four through six, Baucham demonstrates how “antiracism” has the “hallmarks of a cult” (66), including a new theology and a new glossary of terms that sound Christian but deviate significantly from the historical faith. Citing CSJ leaders, Baucham demonstrates that antiracism has its own cosmology, original sin, law, gospel, martyrs, priests, atonement, new birth, liturgy, canon, theologians, and catechism (67). Specifically, he describes the new priesthood and canon of antiracism, rooted in Ethnic Gnosticism and Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility.

Baucham exposes fault lines in evangelicalism regarding social justice in chapter seven. Among evangelical churches and leaders, he documents their implicit acceptance despite explicit denial of CRT/I ideologies, the silencing of those who reject Critical Theory, and the political maneuvering within the Southern Baptist Convention to make CRT/I seem compatible with the Bible.

Further, Baucham describes, in chapter eight, the damage the CSJ movement has done to communities of color, including the black church, the family, and the unborn. In particular, he criticizes CSJ’s question-begging logic, opposition to facts, and warns about its political implications. For example, in the following chapter, Baucham uses the test case of abortion to demonstrate how the assumptions of CSJ dictate destructive policy, addressing the false narrative of single-issue voting, and the false premise that America’s two political parties merely represent different priorities rather than “a clear-cut distinction between competing worldviews” (185).

In chapter 10, Baucham assesses the key fault line underlying the current call for social justice in the “Black Lives Matter” movement. He urges Christians to understand that a primarily spiritual—not cultural or political—battle is occurring between the biblical worldview and CSJ/CRT/I worldview and their antecedent theories of Marxism, Conflict Theory, and Critical Theory (209).

Baucham concludes the final chapter by re-emphasizing his heart for the book, which is his love for God, the church, and a dismay that God’s people are being swayed by an ideology that is inherently unbiblical. The book ends with three appendices: The Dallas Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel, the original version of Resolution 9 submitted at the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention, and its revised and adopted version.

Analysis

Fault Lines is a winsome, socio-theological analysis of the political call to Critical Social Justice. With poignancy, grace, and persuasion, Baucham exposes the fault line of competing worldviews between biblical social justice and Critical Social Justice, exhorting believers to stand firm on God’s Word rather than capitulating to the human philosophies of the world.

One of Fault Lines greatest strengths is its persuasion based on a careful evaluation of primary sources. The book is an investigator’s dream. Each chapter contains footnotes, encouraging readers to understand the issues from the sources themselves and not take Baucham’s analysis out of context. Baucham carefully defines all the tenets of CSJ and its antecedent theories from the writings of CSJ’s leading advocates such as Robin DiAngelo, Ibram X. Kendi, Peggy McIntosh, and others. Baucham also anticipates critiques and addresses objections which could be levied against him from those sympathetic to CSJ.

Another strength of Fault Lines is Baucham’s personal experience. His life, training, and ministry provide the reader with unique insights, including the debate among black evangelicals of whether the priority of black Christians ought to be in their blackness or their Christianity (21); the “Marxist thread which runs through all grievance studies,” including “whiteness studies” in CRT (93); and the CSJ worldview assertion that “Christianity is part of the oppressive hegemony” (207), meaning Christianity is not only wrong and oppressive but that it must be overthrown and made obsolete.

Finally, Fault Lines is theologically centered and redemptively driven. The author’s high view of Scripture is clear in his use of biblical passages and principles as the basis for defining biblical social justice and rejecting the CSJ worldview. After discussing biblical principles for social justice based on Scripture’s text, Baucham states, “here is the key: People are ignoring these principles because the standard of justice upon which their pleas are built does not come from the God of the Scriptures. While that may be fine for others, those of us who claim to know Christ are held to a different standard” (44, emphasis original).

Constructively, for those unfamiliar with the current debate surrounding the CSJ movement, the addition of summaries at the end of each chapter would be beneficial, allowing readers to trace Baucham’s successive line of argumentation more easily throughout the book.

Fault Lines is a must-read book for anyone who desires to understand the basis of today’s call for social justice and a biblical response. Baucham’s argument that the biblical social justice worldview radically differs from the Critical Social Justice worldview is relevant, perceptive, and necessary. Followers of Christ who rightly strive to live by God’s Word in every sphere of life will find encouragement, clarity, and hope from Baucham’s thoughtful work on social justice and the gospel.

Jaelyn Morgan is an intern for the Center for Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council.

After 246 Years, Old Glory Still Endures

by Molly Carman

June 14, 2021

One of the most identifying symbols of a nation is its flag. In the United States, the stars and stripes that fly over federal buildings, schools, and on our front porches remind every American of the price of freedom. Although the design has changed over the years as the union grew, Old Glory has represented America since 1775. Because of the significance of this patriotic symbol, Americans observe Flag Day each year, remembering the history of the flag and the nation it represents, how it was made, and what the flag symbolizes.

The first design of an American flag was presented on December 3, 1775 and it was known as the Grand Union Flag. While the designer of the flag is not known for certain, it was first hoisted on the Continental Navy man-of-war USS Alfred, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 2, 1775, by Lieutenant John Paul Jones. On the first design, the section where the blue background and the stars now reside was originally occupied by a small British flag. This design was used until June 14, 1777 when the 13-star design was adopted as the official flag of the United States of America. According to the Library of Congress, “To date, there have been twenty-seven official versions of the flag, but the arrangement of the stars varied according to the flag-makers’ preferences until 1912 when President Taft standardized the then-new flag’s forty-eight stars into six rows of eight. The forty-nine-star flag (1959-60), as well as the fifty-star flag, also have standardized star patterns.”

The original design of the 13-star flag is credited to Elizabeth Griscom, more commonly known as Betsy Ross. Although no official documentation exists to confirm she was commissioned to design and manufacture the first American flag, it is accepted because of the accredited testimonials from her grandchildren. Betsy was born on January 1, 1752, as the eighth of 17 children in a Quaker family. After completing her education, she was apprenticed to an upholsterer named John Webster. She broke from her family when she married John Ross who did not follow the Quaker faith. Tragically, John died three years into the marriage, leaving Betsy a childless widow. According to the testimony of her grandson, it was soon after her husband’s death that she was visited and commissioned by George Washington, Robert Morris, and George Ross in the summer of 1776 to make the flag for the new nation.

Our flag has been celebrated in various ways throughout our nation’s history. However, the first official celebration of the flag was on June 14, 1870, which was the 100th anniversary of the Flag Resolution which declared Ross’s design to be the national flag of the United States. Bernard J. Cigrand was the first schoolteacher to organize a flag day event at a school and later was recognized as the “Father of Flag Day.” He inspired other teachers to add the holiday to their school calendars. This movement later led to an order by New York governor Frank S. Black in 1897 when he ordered that all public schools have an American flag displayed outside their building.

Flag Day continued to be recognized by various states throughout the following years and was consistently observed in 36 state and local governments until 1916 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a Presidential Proclamation declaring June 14 as National Flag Day. Thirty-three years later, on August 3, 1949, President Harry Truman officially signed the holiday into law and the motion passed Congress that June 14 be recognized as National Flag Day.

Flag Day recognizes the banner that charged into battle as the united colonies fought for their independence in the Revolutionary War. As we salute the flag of the United States of America, we demonstrate our respect for those who laid the foundation of our nation. It is to the flag of the United States that we pledge our loyalty, our liberty, and our sacred honor. On Flag Day, it is appropriate to recite The Pledge of Allegiance: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

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