FRC Blog

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of September 19)

by Family Research Council

September 24, 2021

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

1. Update: President’s Prison Rule Cells Out Women

Joe Biden may be headed for the beach, but don’t expect it to be a vacation from his problems. When the president got on the plane this afternoon, the White House was frantically trying to clean up another mess of Biden’s making—this time on the southern border. In Del Rio, Texas, where more than 10,000 migrants are wading in the water on the U.S.-Mexico border.

2. Update: Pentagon Can’t Camouflage True Vaccine Agenda

Trapped in a sinkhole of Left-wing radicalism, our troops are so busy fighting climate change, white supremacy, conservative “extremism,” and COVID to deal with America’s real enemies. Now, as if the embarrassment of Afghanistan and a feeble commander-in-chief weren’t enough, the president says he’s ready to fire anyone who won’t get the vaccine.

3. Blog: How Should Christians Think About Biden’s Vaccine Mandate?

On September 9, President Joe Biden announced an executive action that all employers with more than 100 employees must require their workers to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. Businesses that do not comply with the rule can be fined up to $14,000 per violation. Currently, it is unclear what type of medical, religious, or conscience exemptions will be granted concerning the vaccine mandate.

4. Blog: Google Finds Innovative New Method of Exploitation

After a four-month runtime on the internet, Google has banned all of Live Action’s advertisements about the abortion pill reversal treatment. Google’s attempt at censoring Live Action is sadly unsurprising given the tendency of Big Tech companies to cater to the whims of the abortion lobby.

5. Washington Watch: Vicky Hartzler, Pete Ricketts, Mike Berry, Chad Robichaux

Tony Perkins was joined by Vicky Hartzler, U.S. Representative for Missouri, to discuss what’s happening at the southern border. Pete Ricketts, Governor of Nebraska, explained how he is fighting President Biden’s vaccine mandates. Mike Berry, Deputy General Counsel and Director of Military Affairs for First Liberty Institute, decried the Department of Defense’s requirement that military members must receive the COVID vaccine or face removal. And, Chad Robichaux, Founder of the Mighty Oaks Foundation, shared the latest on evacuations and the state of Afghanistan.

6. Washington Watch: John Joyce, Mo Brooks, Dave Yost, Travis Weber

Tony Perkins was joined by John Joyce, U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania, who gave an update on the reconciliation bill. Mo Brooks, U.S. Representative for Alabama, responded to reports that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley made secret calls with his Chinese counterpart, circumventing President Trump. Dave Yost, Ohio Attorney General, talked about how state attorney generals are fighting back against federal vaccine mandates. And, Travis Weber, FRC’s Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs, shared the results of a survey on fairness for all.

7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: America’s Foreign Policy: The State of Faith & Freedom

On this episode of Pray Vote Stand you’ll get a closer look at President Biden’s foreign policy record and what the consequences may be at home and abroad.

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What is the “Gospel”? A Deeper Look at the Historical and Literary Context Behind the Good News

by Jaelyn Morgan

September 24, 2021

When Jesus began His ministry, He proclaimed, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). As Christians, our goal is to follow Christ completely. To obey Him, we must understand what He meant by the “gospel” and how it relates to the kingdom of God.

The Gospel Is Good News

The English word “gospel” comes from an Old English word godspel (god meaning “good” and spel meaning “story” or “message”). This was an English translation of the Latin bona annuntiatio, which in turn was a translation of the Greek word euangelion (“good tidings”). In ancient times, an euangelion was a royal proclamation of military victory or ascension to a throne. If a kingdom had military victory over their enemies in battle, a messenger would run back to the capital and proclaim the euangelion to the people waiting inside in the city’s walls. Essentially, the word “gospel” means “good news” and has historical connotations of a royal, victorious proclamation of one kingdom overtaking another.

The Gospel Announces God’s Kingdom

Having learned what euangelion meant in Jesus’ historical context, we must now consider the biblical, or literary, context of “good news.” In Isaiah 52:7 and 10 (emphasis mine), we read:

How beautiful upon the mountains

    are the feet of him who brings good news,

who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,

    who publishes salvation,

    who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

…The Lord has bared his holy arm

    before the eyes of all the nations,

and all the ends of the earth shall see

    the salvation of our God.

This prophetic passage foretold that the good news—or the gospel—would be a proclamation of happiness announcing the reign of Zion’s God and an international salvation that would reach “all the ends of the earth.” As Jesus later explained, His kingdom, the kingdom of God, “is not of this world” (John 18:36). By calling Himself the “Son of Man,” He connected His Kingdom to Daniel’s prophecy about the Son of Man’s kingdom, which would neither pass away nor be destroyed (Dan. 7:14). This new kingdom would be unlike any kingdom people have seen before. Not only would it be multiethnic, multi-national, multilingual, and everlasting (Isa. 56:8, Dan. 7:13, Rev. 7:9); it would transform the whole world under a King who would reign for eternity (Rev. 11:15).

Every kingdom needs a king. The Bible declares that the king whom God has appointed over His kingdom is Jesus. Because of Jesus’ sinless life and atoning death, God “raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places…And he put all things under his feet…” (Eph. 1:20-22). When Jesus proclaimed, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel,” He was heralding the incoming of God’s long-awaited kingdom as its King!

The Gospel Invites Us to Join God’s Kingdom

The proclamation of God’s kingdom and its king, Jesus, is good news for everyone because all are invited to partake in its glory. Just as every kingdom has a king, every kingdom has citizens. Citizens of God’s kingdom need to receive eternal life because God’s kingdom is everlasting (Ps. 145:13, Dan. 7:14). God has given us everything we need to become part of His kingdom. In fact, “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son [Jesus]” (1 John 5:11). When we believe in Jesus, we receive eternal life and our citizenship is in heaven (John 3:36, Phil. 3:20). Jesus proclaimed, “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15) to tell us that, by these actions, we can become citizens of the kingdom of God!

So, what does the Bible mean by “repent”? The original Greek word translated as “repent” is metanoeo, meaning “to change one’s mind, i.e. to repent.” The immediate context of Mark’s gospel reveals that repentance is changing one’s mind about something in order to act in faith (Mark 1:4, 15; 6:12). Hence, it is a new mindset that results in new action. The rest of Scripture affirms this understanding of repentance. Thus, in Jesus’s call to “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15), “to repent” means more than just changing one’s mind; it means accepting the gospel message, turning away from sin, and turning toward King Jesus for a new way of life.

Shortly after Jesus was resurrected and returned to heaven, the apostle Peter addressed a crowd in Jerusalem, proclaiming the euangelion and the need to repent:

Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Now when [the crowd] heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:36-42).

The Gospel Freely Justifies Us

The gospel is not only good news about the victorious kingdom of God but also the personal good news that sinful men and women can become members of God’s kingdom and be reconciled to a holy God through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ! Each of us is personally invited to become citizens of God’s kingdom. We can become part of God’s kingdom when we accept Jesus as the king that He already is and trust in Him for a right standing before God. Jesus purifies anyone who believes in Him so they can have a right standing before God and be part of God’s people (1 John 3:3, Titus 2:14).

Justification (i.e., right standing before God) is given to us by God through Jesus Christ for free. As the apostle Paul explains in Romans 3:21-26, justification from God is a gift:

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested…through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith…It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

As sinners, we did not have a hope in the world. But then God sent Jesus, who willingly died on the cross, for our sins, in our place. The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). This is amazing news! When there was no way, God made a way. When our sin prevented us from having a right relationship with Him, God sent Jesus. Because of God’s graciousness toward us, we are invited to “repent and believe in the gospel” and become part of God’s eternal kingdom, His people, and His family.

The Gospel Gives Us an Urgent Choice

The biblical gospel gives us an ultimatum. We can continue in our sinful state, trying (and failing) to get into heaven by our own merit, or we can accept the good news. If we repent of our old ways and place our faith in Jesus Christ as our new Savior and King, we are saved from God’s wrath against sin and saved into God’s eternal kingdom!

By sending Jesus to us, God showed that He loved us. Jesus, “who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10), can be our friend, savior, and king. What will you decide? As 2 Corinthians 6:2 reminds us, do not waste another day, for “now is the favorable time” and “behold, now is the day of salvation”!

NEXT STEPS

  1. How Can I Be Saved?
  2. I Am a Christian, Now What?
  3. What Is the Christian Life?
  4. Why Should I Go to Church?

Jaelyn Morgan interned for the Center for Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council.

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Radical Progressive Ideology Has Become Normalized in Schools. It’s Time to Act.

by Meg Kilgannon

September 23, 2021

Revelations of radical activism by a teacher in California with an Antifa flag in his classroom and marking student’s papers using stamps with images of communist leaders roiled Sacramento area parents. In a shocking and at times profane 12 minute video, Inderkum High School AP Government teacher Gabriel Gipe explained that he has “180 days to turn [students] into revolutionaries.” When a student anonymously complained about the Antifa flag in his classroom, Comrade Gipe admonished his students by explaining that the flag “is meant to make fascists feel uncomfortable, so if you feel uncomfortable, I don’t really know what to tell you. Maybe you shouldn’t be aligning with the values that this [Antifa flag] is antithetical to.”

While this example is shocking, it comes as no surprise. As we outline in our new publication, A Concerned Citizen’s Guide to Engaging with Public Schools, civics and history as academic subjects are under assault by left-wing political operations that masquerade as education policy organizations. Progressive thinking is so pervasive in our nation’s colleges and universities that it has seeped down to our elementary, middle, and high schools. Programs and resources like the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance/Learning for Justice, the New York Times and Pulitzer Center’s 1619 Project, Black Lives Matter at School, and the Zinn Project are far too ideological to be used as resources in public schools.

And yet, it is much easier to find those materials in your local public school than it is to find resources that honor America’s founding documents, our nation’s founders, and the important rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, including religious freedom. Programs like 1776 Unites (a project of the Woodson Center), the Hillsdale 1776 Curriculum, and the Bill of Rights Institute provide resources that educate students about the promise of America without ignoring difficult topics like slavery and segregation.

As we documented in our publication The SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance, an organized incursion into schools has been underway for decades. Efforts to influence and indoctrinate future teachers during their college years seem to be paying off for progressives. This is why parents and concerned citizens must act to engage public school systems to demand accountability and educational excellence—without political agendas. Radical progressive ideology has become so normalized in educational spaces that extreme content is no longer recognized as controversial. Teachers like Comrade Gipe can harangue students and turn them into political agitators, and it all seems completely normal to his coworkers and students. Clearly, Christian witness is needed urgently in our nation’s schools.

Pray about this and prepare to engage. Discuss these issues with your family and friends. Be unafraid to share the solutions to these problems that Christ’s love and the gospels offer. If you are a parent, meet each of your children’s teachers and make sure your children talk to you about their assignments and school activities. For those able to be more engaged, attend local school board meetings and take notes. Run for your local school board so that common sense can prevail over the one-sided thinking in place now. We live in the greatest nation on earth, the beacon of hope for the world. Let’s make America’s school systems as exceptional as our nation. Our children, entrusted to us by God, deserve our very best.

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Google Finds Innovative New Method of Exploitation

by Joy Zavalick

September 21, 2021

After a four-month runtime on the internet, Google has banned all of Live Action’s advertisements about the abortion pill reversal treatment. Promotions for the pro-life advocacy group’s Baby Olivia project, which provides a “medically accurate, animated glimpse of human life from the moment of fertilization,” were also temporarily blocked and later reinstated after complaints. Google’s attempt at censoring Live Action is sadly unsurprising given the tendency of Big Tech companies to cater to the whims of the abortion lobby. It demonstrates Google’s commitment to exploiting the vulnerable by any means necessary.

In response to the censorship controversy, Google defended itself by stating, “medical experts have raised serious concerns about abortion reversal pills.” This first claim relies on a drastic mischaracterization of the abortion pill reversal treatment. In reality, it is a simple dose of the hormone progesterone, which counteracts the anti-progesterone effects of the drug mifepristone (also known as Mifeprex, RU-486, or “the abortion pill”). Progesterone supplements are a common and highly successful treatment for women prone to miscarriage, which is what the chemical abortion regimen essentially causes.

Google went on to claim that “beyond protecting users from medical harm, our policies do not distinguish between promoting pro-choice and pro-life messages.” Despite its concern about women receiving information about abortion pill reversal, Google has not implemented similar censorship of promotions for the chemical abortion regimen. Ads for the regimen are still permitted despite the proven dangers, which include severe bleeding, infection, retained fetal parts, the need for emergency surgery, and even death.

It is ironic that the Big Tech monarchs that are so concerned with paternalistically controlling the health care information women can access are so thoroughly unconcerned with the wellbeing of women being exploited through the chemical abortion regimen. Advertising mail-order abortion pills provides a direct avenue for women who are being sex trafficked, domestically abused, or otherwise exploited to receive abortions—either willingly or unwillingly—at home without ever being evaluated by a physician. Being seen by a medical professional is one way women trapped in exploitive situations are discovered and ultimately rescued.

For all its concern about women accessing information about reversing regretted abortions, Google appears to have overlooked the autonomy of the women working for it in forced labor camps. Google, along with other Big Tech giants such as Apple and Amazon, has been accused of utilizing the forced labor of Uyghur Muslims in concentration camps in the Xinjiang province of China. A report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute included Google in its list of 82 popular companies that profit from the exploitation of Uyghur slaves in “abusive labour transfer programs as recently as 2019.”

Governor Abbott of Texas recently signed HB 20 in a move to prevent social media platforms from banning content based on political ideology. If the legislation is not blocked by a federal judge, like a similar Florida law was, it will take effect in November. As expected, representatives of Google, Facebook, and Twitter have pledged to oppose this legislation.

Big Tech’s hesitance to allow users of all viewpoints to express their beliefs begs the question of what exactly being “pro-choice” means when women are not aware of all the options they actually have. Women that use Google’s search engine to research the abortion pill reversal treatment are desperate for the freedom to reverse a mistaken choice.

When Big Tech companies attempt to censor information, the public should always question their motives and seek to identify what they stand to gain. If Google is willing to exploit the forced foreign labor of persecuted ethnic minorities and overlook sexual abuse in the United States, it is unlikely that its desire to block ads for abortion pill reversal is altruistically motivated by a concern for the wellbeing of women.

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How Should Christians Think About Biden’s Vaccine Mandate?

by David Closson

September 20, 2021

On September 9, President Joe Biden announced new executive action concerning COVID-19 vaccines. According to the president’s plan, all employers with more than 100 employees must require their workers to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. Businesses that do not comply with the rule can be fined up to $14,000 per violation. The new mandate follows a recent mandate that all federal employees receive the vaccine, get tested weekly, or face dismissal from their job. The new regulation is supposed to be drafted and implemented by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor (although some think this is without legal authority). Currently, it is unclear what type of medical, religious, or conscience exemptions will be granted concerning the vaccine mandate.

How should Christians respond to President Biden’s sweeping vaccine mandate? Specifically, how should Christians think about religious exemptions and accommodations? Admittedly, these are complex questions on which many biblically grounded Christians differ. But given the scope and far-reaching consequences for civil liberties, conscience rights, religious freedom, and the ability of families to make health decisions, these questions deserve careful consideration and reflection.

Legal Concerns

First, there are serious concerns that President Biden’s vaccine mandate is illegal and unconstitutional. No federal statute or constitutional provision expressly gives the president the authority to impose a sweeping vaccine mandate on private businesses and their employees in this manner, and the Biden administration has an extremely questionable reading of the statute they claim gives him this authority. Some states have already threatened to sue.

At the very least, Christians should be aware of the legal and constitutional concerns related to the president’s order. Once the new rule goes into effect, the mandate might not withstand the likely barrage of lawsuits challenging its legality.

Role of Government

Second, questions about the legality and constitutionality of President Biden’s vaccine mandate should prompt Christians to think about the proper role of government. The Bible teaches that government has been ordained by God. According to Paul, “Whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment” (Rom. 13:2, ESV). In the United States, the primary governing authority is the U.S. Constitution. This means that when a president or any government official pursues a policy that oversteps their prescribed realm of authority, they are acting unlawfully. Of course, when our elected officials issue directives within their rightful scope of authority, Christians are bound to comply, so long as obeying does not require us to sin against God, a Christian’s highest authority (Acts 5:29).  

But do we have an obligation to automatically and always obey the government? Similarly, how should Christians respond if a mandate or law is not illegal, but they personally don’t like the law or find it inconvenient? For example, what’s the proper Christian response if the government were to mandate a weekly exercise routine or require its citizens to wear pink hats on Thursday?  On these questions, Christians should be humble and willing to learn from one another. We should also endeavor to think biblically about the role and purpose of government. 

One helpful way to think biblically about the role of government is through the concept of sphere sovereignty, a philosophy of society developed by Dutch theologian and politician Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920). According to Kuyper, life is divided into distinct, autonomous jurisdictions such as the state, family, church, and the individual. Although these spheres interact and may even overlap at points, there are clear lines of demarcation related to sovereignty that should not be crossed. For Kuyper, the state is empowered with limited oversight responsibility over the other spheres. However, the state’s authority is derivative, and dependent on God. Thus, the state must never attempt to monopolize power. Moreover, the state should respect the sovereignty of the individual. The state may intervene when a dispute arises between individuals and other spheres, but the state must never assume an outsized role and take over the tasks of society.

In short, sphere sovereignty is a model of diffused power that Kuyper believed was rooted in the structure of nature. Because authority is distributed across society’s vast array of institutions, no single entity or sphere accumulates ultimate sovereignty. Consequently, God’s position as supreme sovereign is preserved. Kuyper’s reflections are helpful when applied to the role of government. In fact, Kuyper’s thought follows the logic of Romans 13 which teaches that the state exists to punish evildoers and exact God’s wrath on those who do wrong (v. 4). Romans 13 does not teach that Christians should uncritically comply with the state no matter what is being demanded. As theologian Thomas Schreiner explains, “[Romans 13] is a general exhortation that delineates what is usually the case: people should normally obey the governing authorities.” In other words, the God-delegated purpose of the governing authorities is to punish evildoers and reward those who do good.

An implication of these principles is that when the government goes beyond its prescribed limits, it is acting unjustly and loses legitimacy. Applying the logic of sphere sovereignty to the vaccine mandate, the government does not have the authority to force us to inject a substance into our bodies that we do not consent to. This is outside the government’s jurisdiction, so it is appropriate for individuals to be wary about forced vaccination. The issue of bodily integrity is important, and Christians should be very concerned when the government oversteps its jurisdiction into the realm of the family and individual.

Of course, it is important to note that this appeal to bodily integrity is different than the popular but logically flawed pro-abortion slogan “my body, my choice.” For one, abortion deals with two bodies: the mothers’ and her child’s. The mother and child are two separate people; they are genetically distinct. Abortion violently destroys the body of the unborn child and interrupts the natural process of pregnancy, permanently severing the relationship between mother and child.

Political Concerns

Third, there are relevant political considerations related to the president’s mandate. In short, if Joe Biden can enact a mandate as broad and sweeping as this one, is there a mandate that this president or a future president can’t hand down in the name of public health? What’s the limit to what the president can compel American families and private companies to do? As it stands, the president’s mandate would affect about 100 million people. This fact alone necessitates careful consideration of the scope of presidential authority and power.

It is worth noting that the president’s directive is far more extreme than the orders handed down by Democrat governors and mayors. Throughout the pandemic, Democrat leaders have embraced measures such as mask mandates, lockdowns, and school closures. But the president’s mandate goes even further. In fact, Biden’s heavy-handed action threatens to increase vaccine hesitancy rather than persuade the unvaccinated to comply with the order.

Conscience Concerns

Fourth, questions about religious exemptions to the vaccine mandate have prompted debate in the wider society, including among Christians. Notably, there is nothing in the Bible that forbids Christians from getting vaccinated. Many Christians, citing verses like Philippians 2:4 (“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”), have cheerfully received COVID-19 vaccines out of a desire to protect not only their own health but also the health of their loved ones and neighbors. Meanwhile, other believers have reservations or sincerely held conscience objections to receiving the vaccine, believing it is morally impermissible or not right for them.

If there are no clear biblical admonitions against receiving a vaccine, are there any grounds for a religious exemption? On this question, Alliance Defending Freedom, an influential Christian legal group, provides the following advice:

You must first determine if your objection is based on a sincerely held religious belief against taking any of the available vaccines (since they are different), or whether your objections are based on other medical, health, cultural, or political, but not religious, concerns. Many people have medical or other concerns which do not rise to the level of an actual religious belief. A belief that taking a vaccine is unwise or could be harmful will normally be considered a medical or health objection, not a religious objection.

While the objections of some Christians to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine are rooted in medical, personal, and political concerns, the concerns of others qualify for what might be called “conscience objections.” Like religious beliefs, conscience claims are deeply personal and connected to the core of a person. Now, when talking about conscience, as with anything, it is important to define our terms. In short, Christians believe conscience is a God-given internal faculty that guides moral decision-making. Our conscience convicts us when we do something wrong. A rightly functioning conscience inflicts distress, in the form of guilt, shame, or remorse, whenever we violate what we believe is a morally appropriate course of action.

Significantly, Christians believe that to willfully act against one’s conscience is sinful. Romans 14:23 teaches that “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” This admonition seems especially pertinent when the action involves something as personal as injecting something into one’s body which, according to Scripture, is a “temple of the Lord” (1 Cor. 6:19). In other words, Christians believe it is sinful to do something that goes against their conscience; therefore, it is morally wrong to force anyone to do something that violates their conscience. In the context of the vaccine mandate, it seems appropriate to honor and respect those who have legitimate, morally informed reasons for receiving or not receiving a vaccine.

Abortion Concerns

Fifth, when it comes to religious freedom concerns and the vaccine, concern about complicity with abortion has been raised. On this front, it is worth noting that for 2,000 years, Christians have been clear on their convictions about abortion (i.e., the intentional killing of unborn children in the womb). According to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, fetal cell lines were used in the development and production of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, and fetal cell lines were used in the testing of the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines (but not in the vaccines themselves). Passages from the Bible—including Exodus 21:22-25; Psalm 51:5-6, 139:13-16; Jeremiah 1:4-5; and Luke 1:39-45—affirm the personhood of the unborn. Many who believe in the sanctity of life sincerely believe it is inappropriate to have even the slightest connection with abortion, even if that connection is remote. For that reason, some have chosen to forego a vaccine while many other pro-life Americans have chosen to get the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine and avoid the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to the latter’s use of fetal cell lines in its development and production.

Finally, as a general note, when abortion-derived cell lines are used in the development, production, or testing of vaccines, the Christian community—including those who chose to get vaccines—should express disapproval about the continued use of these cell lines and request that laboratories and pharmaceutical companies not use these cell lines in the future.

Final Reflections

In short, President Biden’s vaccine mandate has proven to be divisive and frustrating to millions of Americans. After months of promising that his administration would not mandate vaccines, Biden has done an about-face. (As recently as July, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about vaccine mandates and responded, “Can we mandate vaccines across the country? No. That’s not a role that the federal government, I think, even has the power to make.”) Many Americans are understandably outraged. As those called to take every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:5), Christians cannot respond to the vaccine mandate simply out of emotion but must think carefully and biblically about the announcement. Legal challenges will determine whether the order is constitutional and therefore enforceable.

But beyond the specifics of the mandate, Christians should think biblically about the role and authority of government as well as the propriety and wisdom of appealing to religious freedom exemptions. Religious freedom is a precious right afforded to those who live in this country and should never be abused. Although some Christians think it is unwise to appeal to religious freedom exemptions when the Bible does not prohibit vaccines, it is nonetheless the case that millions of Christians believe taking a COVID-19 vaccine is not the right decision for their health or have sincere conscience objections to being forced to do something they deem even remotely connected to an immoral practice such as abortion. Therefore, rather than bully, cajole, or coerce our fellow Americans, it seems prudent to respect each other’s religious beliefs, consciences, and moral convictions concerning vaccines.

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FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of September 12)

by Family Research Council

September 17, 2021

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

1. Update: Vaccine Mandate Sticks It to Freedom

Twenty years ago today, Americans experienced a once-in-a-generation nightmare carried out by extremists. It would have never occurred to us then that two decades later one of the greatest assaults on our sovereignty would come from our government itself. That the man we’d elect as president would one day tell us that confronting a deadly threat is “no longer about freedom and personal choice.”

2. Update: Open Treason on Trump?

General Mark Milley wasn’t exactly inundated with friend requests after he helped botch the disastrous situation in Afghanistan. In fact, when President Biden said it was on the general’s advice that he closed Bagram Air Base, entire editorial boards were calling for the Joint Chief Chair’s resignation. But long before Kabul, an unflattering image of Milley had already emerged.

3. Blog: A Profile of Moral Collapse: President Biden, Abortion, and the Culture of Death

Almost 50 years after Roe v. Wade, abortion remains the moral issue in American public discourse and politics. There are very few profiles in courage in American politics. The political predicament of a pro-life politician is this—the political class and the New York-Hollywood-Silicon Valley axis reward those who abandon pro-life positions and condemn those who refuse to surrender.

4. Blog: Biden Wants Us to Forget about Afghanistan. We Must Not.

Even as the front pages of newspapers have noticeably shifted away from focusing on Afghanistan, reports from that country are increasingly troubling. Taliban fighters have hunted down and killed four elite Afghan counterterrorism agents from American and British-trained units. The UN has warned that one million Afghan children face possible starvation in a humanitarian disaster of epic proportions.

5. Washington Watch: Sam Brownback, Jerry Boykin, Carter Conlon

Tony Perkins was joined by Sam Brownback, former Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, who responded to President Biden’s vaccine mandates. Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, FRC’s Executive Vice President and former commander of the U.S. Army’s Delta Force, reflected on 9/11 and discussed the threat of terrorism today. And, Pastor Carter Conlon, General Overseer of Times Square Church, shared what the Lord put on his heart prior to 9/11 and how the events of that day changed his church and its members.

6. Washington Watch: Greg Murphy, Brian Kemp, Robert Cahaly, Jack Hibbs, David Closson

Tony Perkins was joined by Greg Murphy, U.S. Representative for North Carolina, to discuss Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s testimony about Afghanistan. Brian Kemp, Governor of Georgia, shared how he is fighting back against President Biden’s vaccine mandates. Robert Cahaly, Senior Strategist and Chief Pollster at the Trafalgar Group, shared what his polling reveals about how Americans view President Biden’s vaccine mandates. Jack Hibbs, Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, talked about the religious liberty implications of President Biden’s vaccine mandate. And, David Closson, FRC’s Director of the Center for Biblical Worldview, discussed how Christians should think about the role of government in light of President Biden’s vaccine mandate.

7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: Immune to Reason: Biden’s Mandate Ignites a Nation

As many as 100 million Americans could be affected by the Biden administration’s new vaccine mandate. Many will lose their jobs. And we are left to wonder: what else will the heavy hand of government under this president, or the next, compel Americans to do against their will or their moral conviction?

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The UK Is at a Crossroads of Conscience Concerning Assisted Suicide

by Arielle Del Turco

September 16, 2021

A bill proposed in the Scottish Parliament would legalize physician-assisted suicide, adding Scotland to a growing list of countries that allow the practice. What the Scottish Parliament eventually decides to do with the bill will reveal something about the conscience of the nation. Will Scots choose to tell their fellow man their lives are worth living, or not?

Liam McArthur, a Liberal Democrat member of the Scottish Parliament, proposed the bill, which would allow terminally ill patients thought to have six months or less to live to choose to end their lives. All forms of assisted suicide are currently illegal across the United Kingdom (UK), but recent polling suggests the UK public is increasingly favorable towards the practice.

Critics of the bill from the medical field say that policies allowing for physician-assisted suicide fundamentally reorient the purpose of medical care. In July, 200 medical professionals signed an open letter opposing the bill, saying, “The shift from preserving life to taking life is enormous and should not be minimised. The prohibition of killing is present in almost all civilised societies due to the immeasurable worth of every human life.”

The bill in the Scottish Parliament is part of a wider push for assisted suicide across the United Kingdom. Baroness Meacher introduced a bill in the UK Parliament in May that would similarly legalize physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients, demonstrating a failure to acknowledge that any person—even those who are terminally ill—who seeks to end his life is in need of love, support, and treatment for depression.

UK Bishop John Sherrington warned of the dangers of a gradual expansion of the criteria by which one might be eligible for physician-assisted suicide. Indeed, other European countries have slipped further down this dangerous slope. For example, Belgium and the Netherlands allow physician-assisted suicide for psychiatric reasons, even for patients in perfect physical health. Such an allowance makes it clear that a state’s endorsement of assisted suicide is really an endorsement of all suicide. Not surprisingly, both countries have seen a sharp rise in assisted suicide in recent years.  

A major victory for proponents of assisted suicide was announced on September 14 when the British Medical Association adopted a “neutral” stance on the issue when they had previously been against it. The vote was narrow—with 49 percent of the association in favor and 48 percent against the “neutral” stance—but the effects will be substantial. Members of Parliament had often pointed to the medical community’s opposition to assisted suicide when Parliament voted against it previously.

Proponents of assisted suicide say they are motivated to end physical suffering. But the reality is that many patients who choose assisted suicide do not cite pain as the primary reason. The Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund reports:

[T]he overwhelming majority of the people in Oregon who have reportedly used that state’s assisted suicide law wanted to die not because of pain, but for reasons associated with disability, including the loss of autonomy (89.9 percent), the loss of the ability to engage in activities that make life enjoyable (87.4 percent), the loss of dignity (83.8 percent), and the loss of control of bodily functions (58.7 percent). Furthermore, in the Netherlands, more than half the physicians surveyed say the main reason given by patients for seeking death is “loss of dignity.”

The legalization of assisted suicide is intrinsically linked with devaluing the lives of people living with disabilities. While the reasons many people choose assisted suicide are not related to pain and suffering, they are related to struggles people with a disability face every day. Although not everyone with a disability has a terminal illness, everyone with a terminal illness eventually develops a disability. Society cannot condone those with terminal illnesses killing themselves without simultaneously condoning those with disabilities killing themselves. The message to those with disabilities is loud and clear: a life with a disability is not worth living. 

In addition, a 2007 study about assisted suicide patients in the state of Oregon found that 45 percent of assisted suicide patients made that choice out of fear of becoming a burden to their families. Thus, assisted suicide does not primarily serve to end suffering, as its advocates would have us believe.

Elderly patients, especially those who fear being a burden, are vulnerable to manipulation or family pressure, and it can be difficult to comprehensively safeguard against this. Even knowing that assisted suicide is an option can pressure some people into choosing death if they think they will become a future burden to their family or society. Instead of offering them assisted suicide, these concerns should be met with assurances that their lives are worth living and that we are prepared to love and support them to the end.

At its core, assisted suicide promotes a false compassion. It benefits caretakers or families who prefer not to observe or care for someone experiencing trials at the end of their lives, rather than the patients themselves. We ought instead to exercise true compassion, the root of which means to “suffer with.”

Even if assisted suicide was primarily utilized to end suffering, it focuses the efforts of doctors, medical professionals, policymakers, and others toward the wrong goal. The goal ought not to be ending human suffering at all costs. In a broken world, suffering will always be with us.

An appropriate goal that truly treats humans with dignity is to love people well by providing everyone with the best medical care, emotional and spiritual resources, and community support possible until their lives come to natural ends.

Doctors should be focused on healing patients and enabling them to live as well as they can for as long as they can. Premature death is not an equally valid option in the category of health care—rather, it sidesteps health care entirely.

The Scottish Parliament will debate the issue this fall, and the UK House of Lords will debate its bill later this year. One thing is for sure—this issue will test the conscience of the people. Concerned individuals should reach out to their members of Parliament about the dangers of assisted suicide and the value of all human life.

Those in favor of assisted suicide have co-opted the phrase “death with dignity,” but they fail to recognize that human dignity cannot be taken away by life’s circumstances.  It is because human beings have dignity that all people must be loved, supported, and cared for until natural death.

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Biden Wants Us to Forget about Afghanistan. We Must Not.

by Arielle Del Turco

September 15, 2021

Even as the front pages of newspapers have noticeably shifted away from focusing on Afghanistan, reports trickling in from that country are increasingly troubling.

Recent reports tell us: Taliban fighters have hunted down and killed four elite Afghan counterterrorism agents from American and British-trained units. The Taliban’s new acting government is comprised of many of the same characters the United States and our allies kicked out of power in 2001. The United Nations has warned that one million Afghan children face possible starvation in a humanitarian disaster of epic proportions.

The effects of President Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan are still unfolding. Biden would no doubt love for his role in the Afghanistan debacle to fade quietly into history. We cannot let that happen.

Afghan women are perhaps the largest group of people to endure immense suffering in the fallout of the clumsy withdrawal and the subsequent Taliban takeover.

Countless women and girls in Afghanistan are facing an impossible future, with reports surfacing that women must be segregated in universities, women may no longer work alongside men, and women may be prevented from playing sports. These are disastrous steps backward for women’s rights in a country that made a lot of progress in the past 20 years. And it’s happening under Biden’s watch.

The Left has long styled themselves as the champions of women’s rights. So, what does the Biden administration have to say about the rights of Afghan women?

When asked about the future of women’s rights in Afghanistan during a Senate hearing this week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that ever since the Taliban takeover, the U.S. government has “worked to rally the international community to set very clear expectations going forward to include the expectation that it will uphold the rights of women and girls as well as minorities.”

It’s unlikely that these lackluster diplomatic efforts will comfort the millions of women in Afghanistan who have just been sent back to the dark ages.

Presumably, the “minorities” Blinken referred to include religious minorities, such as Christians, Hazara Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs. Those who have not managed to flee are in great danger.

Eric Patterson wrote in Providence that “Christians and other religious minorities are fearful of venturing out in public, despite their needs for groceries, medical assistance, and other basic necessities.” Patterson also heard reports that Taliban spies collected the names of possible Christians by infiltrating crowds of people outside the Kabul airport hoping to escape.

Instead of working to help vulnerable Christians, the Biden administration made it more difficult for believers to flee. Private charities are still trying to help rescue vulnerable religious minorities and other at-risk Afghans with their own flights out of Afghanistan. Those involved in private rescue efforts say that the State Department has hindered efforts to rescue vulnerable Afghans.

It’s a life-and-death situation for those on the ground; what justification could there possibly be for blocking private flights not even headed to the United States?

In addition, the State Department also neglected to make religious minorities eligible for the Priority 2 (P-2) designation granting them access to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. Conversion from Islam is a crime punishable by death under the Taliban’s interpretation of Sharia law, and Christian converts face almost certain death for their religious views. Even though there were only a small number of Afghan Christians to begin with (several thousand), they were not prioritized by the Biden administration.

Biden’s disastrous withdrawal will also forever affect the families of the 13 U.S. military members who died in a suicide attack from ISIS-K at the Kabul airport in the chaotic last days of the evacuation. The grief of their families will not soon subside. Although they volunteered to serve our country knowing the risks, poor strategic decisions unnecessarily put them in harm’s way.

Some commentators have noticed that the newsiness of the Afghanistan withdrawal is “over.” But not so for those whose lives have been forever changed. In his public comments, Biden seems to coldly evade that fact.

Biden’s disaster in Afghanistan is not over by a long shot. The suffering of millions of people will far outlast the news cycle. And so should our collective memory.

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FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of September 5)

by Family Research Council

September 10, 2021

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

1. Blog: Messing with Texas: Biden Not the Women’s Advocate He Claims to Be

In a statement issued on September 2, President Biden called the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision allowing Texas’s six-week abortion ban to remain in effect “an unprecedented assault on women’s constitutional rights.” Unfortunately, the president’s track record makes it abundantly clear that he is not the champion of women he purports himself to be.

2. Blog: “Christianity Is Neither Left nor Right,” Part 2: Re-envisioning Conscience Issues As Discipleship Issues

Many have held the belief that because Christians inevitably disagree over political matters, we should simply attribute those disagreements to differing consciences and move on. But as it turns out, our convictions matter tremendously. Elections have consequences, as we are now witnessing in Afghanistan after the U.S. military’s withdrawal and the Taliban’s swift takeover of the country.

3. Blog: A Closer Look at Virtue: Chastity

Properly defined, chastity is intentionally choosing to refrain from immoral sexual activity. It is possible to be a chaste, sexually active married person; it is also possible to be an unchaste virgin. This virtue applies to married couples and singles alike.

4. Blog: A Closer Look at FRC’s Viral Tweet: The Bible Really Is Pro-Life (Part 1)

Last Friday, FRC posted a tweet that stated: “The Bible is ardently and unequivocally pro-life.” For an organization whose mission is to “advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview,” tweeting support for the Bible’s pro-life ethic was hardly controversial—or at least it shouldn’t have been.

5. Washington Watch: Kevin Brady, Dan Gainor, Marty Makary, Gordon Chang

Tony Perkins was joined by Kevin Brady, U.S. Representative for Texas, to discuss President Biden’s push for the largest tax increase since 1968. Dan Gainor, Vice President for Free Speech America and Business at Media Research Center, talked about a survey showing a decline in trust in the media. Marty Makary, Professor of Health Policy at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, shared the findings of an Israeli study showing natural immunity is 13 times stronger than the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. And, Gordon Chang, author of “The Coming Collapse of China,” discussed why we must hold Beijing accountable for Afghan militants’ crimes.

6. Washington Watch: Dan Patrick, Chad Robichaux, Ronny Jackson, Ronnie Floyd

Tony Perkins was joined by Dan Patrick, Lieutenant Governor of Texas, to discuss the Biden administration pledging that its best lawyers will fight the Texas Heartbeat law. Chad Robichaux, Founder of the Mighty Oaks Foundation, shared his on the ground perspective of the evacuations in Afghanistan. Ronny Jackson, U.S. Representative for Texas, talked about his efforts to evacuate American citizens and others from Afghanistan. And, Ronnie Floyd, President of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, discussed the Southern Baptist Convention’s hurricane relief efforts.

7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: The Left Wants You to Pay for Abortion

On this episode of Pray Vote Stand, you’ll learn the history of the Hyde Amendment and why it is one of the most significant pieces of pro-life legislation in our country.

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Remembering 9/11: One New Yorker’s Testimony About the Power of Prayer

by Jennifer Bauwens

September 10, 2021

For many of us who were alive at the time of September 11, 2001, our memories of that day, and the days that followed, are marked by stories of heroism and patriotism but also terrible loss and grief. But there is another theme that has been less publicized, and that is the effect prayer had on 9/11.

It’s hard to estimate the number of people that prayed that day or were moved to pray in the days leading up to the attack. One thing we know, as tragic as 9/11 was, it could’ve been far worse. While no harm or loss of life is acceptable, this attack could’ve resulted in even more widespread devastation. This is because the average number of people working at the World Trade Center in 2001 was roughly 50,000 people. Additionally, the number of daily visitors and tourists were around 140,000. The loss of life that day in New York was significant, at 2,823 people, but still much lower than what was intended by the attacks. 

Through years of living in New York and researching about the psychological impact of 9/11, I’ve had the privilege to hear stories from people who should’ve been at the World Trade Center that day, but “something” happened that caused their plans or routines to change. I’ve heard countless stories, like my friend Tiffany, who invited another friend to breakfast. As a result, her friend wasn’t at the WTC that day.  

One of the clearest stories I’ve heard about the power of prayer started with a dream that one of my friends had in 1998. In the dream, my friend, Julianna, was walking around downtown Manhattan near Trinity Church. As she walked along Trinity Place (street), she entered a 12-story gray building that had two revolving doors at the entrance. She walked into the building and began to shout, with great assurance, “It’s safe!” She then saw a lot of people running and scrambling inside the building and out on the streets. Then a great wave came which looked like a tsunami cascading down the street, but the wave didn’t enter the building. That was the end of the dream.

Later that week, Julianna went to her weekly prayer meeting where she shared the dream. Ada, who attended the prayer group, was also a high school principal. When she heard the dream, she recognized the description and location as characteristic of her school. Both ladies had a sense that God was leading them to pray for the safety of this high school, which was located near the World Trade Center.

For the next three years, Julianna and Ada walked around the school building and prayed for safety. Ada also enlisted some of her students and faculty to pray for safety. Although they never fully understood what they were praying about, they continued to pray.

On the day of September 11, 2001, Julianna was in her home in Brooklyn when she saw the news break about the Twin Towers. She saw the footage of people running and the cloud of smoke behind them. She knew that it was the tsunami wave that she saw in her dream, and she fell to her knees and began to pray for safety.

At the same time, Ada was with other faculty members assisting the students out of the school building. Before completely evacuating the area, one of the teachers went back into the building to make sure no one was left inside. While this teacher was in the building, he noticed that the smoke never entered the lobby. Not only was there no smoke, but Ada’s school did not suffer any damage and there were no broken windows from the attacks. However, the buildings to the right and left of the High School suffered structural damage.

Most importantly, Ada and the faculty were able to bring every student to safety, and no one was harmed. In the end, the dream was completely fulfilled. It truly was “safe” for every person in the school and for the building itself.

As we remember 9/11 and honor our first responders and service members, those who lost their lives and were wounded, and the families who lost loved ones, let’s also not forget that prayer changes things.

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