FRC Blog

What the Rise of the “Anti-Hero” in Entertainment Says About Our Culture

by Kim Lilienthal

March 11, 2019

A new hallmark of this generation is the elevation of the “anti-hero” in our entertainment. The anti-hero is an archetypal character used in storytelling who lacks conventional heroic attributes and ethics. Because they do not ascribe to the upstanding values and morals of traditional heroes, they often cross into the realm of the villainous. They are driven by classically negative inspirations: selfishness, loss, jealousy, pride, and hate, to name a few.

The anti-hero has been featured in popular films and stories before (think Han Solo or Watchmen’s Rorschach), but in more recent years, we have seen a massive influx of these characters into our entertainment. Just look at any highly rated show or film that has been released in the past ten years, and it will most likely feature an anti-hero as the main character: Breaking Bad, Mad Men, House, Sons of Anarchy, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, and several Marvel favorites, such as Jessica Jones, Deadpool, Venom, Daredevil, Wolverine, and the Punisher. These are just a few examples from the growing list.

But what is so fascinating about this type of character that they are now taking over our TVs and movie theaters?

Simply put, the anti-hero appeals to the dark realities of human experience far more than the classic upstanding hero ever could. He is more complex and has motivations that are more relatable to the human experience. Walter White, for all his terrible deeds throughout Breaking Bad, remains a sympathetic character to many fans of the show, even to the very end, because we were able to witness, step by step, his descension from a relatively normal family man into a violent and prideful criminal. He makes awful, morally bankrupt choices, and yet there is still something inside us that wants to see him succeed. 

It is interesting that we, as a culture, have decided to embrace this kind of chaotic neutral character over the lawful good. Why is this shift occurring?

Moral Ambiguity

As religious belief in the west continues to decline, questions of ethics become more and more difficult to answer, and the lines between right and wrong become blurred. We find ourselves in an age when we can’t decide whether men are men or women are women, or whether an infant is a person, and this overall lack of cultural moral discernment is reflected in our anti-heroes. The anti-hero does not operate under a code of ethics; he simply does whatever is most useful to his goals at the time, whether it helps someone or hurts them.

This introduces the concept that any action can be rationalized when seen from the right perspective. Our popular stories no longer draw stark lines between good and evil; they instead push the concept that people’s lives are too complex, the decisions they make too influenced by circumstance, to be able to cast moral judgments on their actions. When seen from a different perspective, actions that are understandable to one person might be completely abhorrent to another. There is no “good guy” to stand for justice and beat the “bad guy,” because who’s to say that the good guy isn’t actually a judgmental tyrant who is forcing his own ideals onto others?

Disillusionment with Idealism

The anti-hero also represents a sense of disillusionment with idealism: Corruption is being uncovered everywhere we look—in politics, in entertainment, in the church, and in our own families. Trust in authority figures who claim to be virtuous has been all but obliterated, as those who were supposed to be the best among us are revealed to be the worst.

Because of this disillusionment, this generation, probably more than any other, is more interested in seeing the world for what it is, rather than what it could be, and this paradigm is reflected in the anti-hero. The ideal of the morally upstanding hero has been replaced with a more realistic, more flawed protagonist. He doesn’t operate under any “unfounded” higher principles. He is a pragmatist who doesn’t ascribe to ideals because they only get in the way. He doesn’t pretend to be virtuous, but accepts the darkness within himself and unapologetically uses it to his advantage. And we, the modern audience, don’t care if he is morally compromised as long as he is effective.

An Antidote to Hopelessness

In the end, the celebration of the anti-hero reflects a sense of resignation in our culture to cast off morals and ideals as unrealistic and inconvenient. But what it does not account for is that it takes considerably more strength and resolve to remain idealistic in an increasingly cynical world. When the going gets tough and the world is against you, is it not more difficult and more rewarding to stand firm in your beliefs rather than dropping them as soon as they are tested?

This is why a foundation of faith and belief in something greater than ourselves is vital. It provides the antidote to hopelessness and moral ambiguity. Ideals are crucial to a life of meaning, because they allow us to set our sights on an existence outside of our own and work toward becoming everything God intended us to be.

Kim Lilienthal is an intern at Family Research Council.

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Women: Achieving Balance from the One Who Gives Us Worth

by Patrina Mosley

March 8, 2019

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “Balance for Better.” Interestingly enough, achieving a better balance in the way we as women are thinking about cultural issues today may be the cure for feminist woes against God, men, and the world.

#MeToo and “Every Woman Deserves to Be Believed”

For some women, the #MeToo movement has been a blessing. But when taken to its extreme form of “every woman deserves to be believed,” it has been a curse. Just ask Ashley Kavanaugh, who had to watch her husband get accused of sexual misconduct on national television with no corroborating evidence. The blessing of the #MeToo movement is that it has exposed sexual abuse and helped bring long overdue justice to victims. However, saying “every woman deserves to be believed” does not make up for all the years when women were not believed, and it certainly hurts women who have husbands, fathers, and sons who are wrongfully accused. A better balance could be achieved by going after the truth so that there can be justice. Without that, we get people with personal vendettas seeking vengeance against someone who might be innocent.

Biology

Women: if we don’t get biology right, we can say goodbye forever to womanhood. “Anything you can do, I can do better” seems to be on a never-ending loop when it comes to modern feminism—even to the point of denying science. Adding and taking away body parts or hormones will not change the XX and XY chromosomes that God put in place and called good. Researchers have already discovered that we have thousands of genomes in the body that act differently based on our sex—from muscle mass, fat tissue, heart activity, reproductive functions, diseases and treatment, metabolism, and so much more.

There is nothing wrong with being distinct. In fact, when it comes to matters of strength, there are some women who are definitely stronger than men, but on average that is not the case—and that’s okay! A balance for better is valuing the diversity men and women bring to the table. We all love diversity, right? I don’t know about you, but I would rather have the ability to give life to the world than be able to bench press 400 pounds or carry a man on my back in combat any day.

Womanhood

Playing the “anything you can do, I can do better” game does not make us better or more valuable. In fact, studies show that it doesn’t even make us happier. While we may want to glamorize weekends of one-night-stands, independence, corporate-climbing, and the legal right to kill our children, none of these things make us equal with men. All we are doing is emulating the sins and misplaced priorities generally associated with men. A better balance can be found in applying the standard of what is right, not what we think is equal.

Sex is for marriage, and sexual fulfillment for both men and women is at its greatest in the context of a committed relationship. When it comes to independence, could it be that women are not happier because they alone shoulder the burden of working, taking care of the kids—and oh yeah—finding time to sleep? Two people are better off than one because they can help each other succeed, whether that be at home or in the workplace.

With abortion, we rage against our own nature to nurture and thereby give men free sex with no responsibility. As politicians seem to endorse infanticide, can we silently stand by and not protect our littlest ones? Their birthday should be met with love and care, not death. You can advocate for their lives and send a message through efforts like the “End Birth Day Abortion” campaign.

From Disney princess movies to even Fifty Shades of Grey, we all want a man who is enamored by us, committed to us, and would die for us. But giving our consent to the hook-up culture, abortion, and being married to our jobs is a great deal only for the man who doesn’t want to stick around, not for us.

We ultimately achieve a better balance when we remember that men and women alike have equal access to God through Jesus Christ, pointing us toward what is good and right instead of opaquely “equal” as we define it. In fact, there are currently many legal protections and practices in place for women not based on generic “equality” but on what is right. Do we really want men (who identify as transgender women) in battered women’s shelters, on our school sports teams, and in our public bathrooms and showers?

The Heart

At the heart of it all, this is a heart issue. Are we filled with such bitterness and anger in the era of #MeToo that we neglect the pursuit of justice and take the short cut to revenge? Do we desire to be the ruler of our own lives—instead of seeking God—to the point where we believe science is bigoted? We don’t need to focus on our differences to the point of self-hatred, nor do we need to exalt ourselves and roar with pride to make men feel low.

Ultimately, we should acknowledge and use our differences to pursue those things that are right, such as love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Only then will we truly be able to discern a better balance.

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A Tale of Two Lawsuits

by Alexandra McPhee

March 7, 2019

The attack on Jack Phillips has finally come to an end—hopefully it stays that way. Last year, Phillips obtained victory at the Supreme Court in a case about his decision to decline to create a cake for a same-sex wedding. Afterwards, the losing party, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, pursued yet another complaint against Phillips for declining to make a cake celebrating a sex transition. The Commission agreed to dismiss its complaint once more evidence of its hostility emerged.

Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious liberty law firm, had helped Phillips fight back against the second complaint. They filed a lawsuit on his behalf against the Commission for demonstrating overt hostility towards his beliefs, though he agreed to drop his suit once the Commission dismissed its complaint.

This saga has no doubt involved a lot of suffering for Phillips, his family, and his business and employees. As Phillips stated,

When I set out to build my dream of opening my own cake shop, combining my love for art and baking in a family business, I never imagined this chapter would be part of the Masterpiece Cakeshop story … I have and will always serve everyone who comes into my shop; I simply can’t celebrate events or express messages that conflict with my religious beliefs. The Supreme Court affirmed that government hostility against people of faith is unconstitutional, and that Colorado was hostile to my faith. That hostility cost me 40 percent of my business and the wedding work that I love to do.

The story is certainly one of resilience in the face of suffering. But it also shows us how enduring pain in a Christ-like manner can influence others’ lives. Phillips’ nephew, Sean, “didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus,” so “he didn’t fully grasp why Jack was willing to take such a stand.” What he did know, however, was that Phillips was “one of the most genuine, kind, and generous people” he knew.

Sean was also shocked at the hateful treatment Jack endured. In fact, it made him angry.

But in observing and talking with Jack, he saw a quiet example of what it looks like to live a life in obedience to Christ.

Over time, Sean let go of his anger. He dug into the Bible to understand the comfort that Jack had in Christ and how he could withstand such hardship with grace and peace. And eventually, God drew Sean to Himself.

Because of how Phillips reacted in the face of suffering, God was able to draw someone closer to Christ. So, even though it is good that these cases have a positive outcome, “Jack counts the eternal implications of his case as even greater and more precious.” Truly, it is a remarkable story of how God utilizes all things for the good of those who trust in Him. With so many people across America watching this case, we look forward to how God will use Jack Phillips’ story to draw more people even closer to Him.

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Historic Churches Cut Off from State Funds

by Alexandra McPhee

March 6, 2019

In a series of two cases, the New Jersey state supreme court decided that the state constitution requires the exclusion of churches from state historic preservation grants. The state’s high court reached that conclusion even in light of the Supreme Court case from 2017, Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer. The Court had held that it was a violation of the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause to exclude a church from a state playground resurfacing program just because the playground was run by a church.

The New Jersey grantmaking authorities that were sued for distributing grants to churches appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, but the Court denied review. While it is discouraging that a church can be cut off from public aid just because it is a church, a statement from Justice Kavanaugh and joined by Justices Alito and Gorsuch holds promise for the future: “Barring religious organizations because they are religious from a general historic preservation grants program is pure discrimination against religion.”

So why did the entire Court agree to deny review? As one outlet explains, although “Kavanaugh agreed with the court’s decision to decline to hear the case,” he noted “that factual uncertainty and the recency of his colleagues’ decision in Trinity Lutheran meant that neither the time nor the case was right for consideration.”

In other words, Justices Kavanaugh, Alito, and Gorsuch said it was the time to wait rather than act. In the meantime, it is important to emphasize why this is an important legal issue. In Trinity Lutheran, Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the consequence of the church’s exclusion from the playground resurfacing program was, “in all likelihood,” merely “a few extra scraped knees.” Similarly, the denial of historic preservation grants means that some churches will just have to ask private donors to take care of the termites, the rust, or the floorboards. However, as the Chief Justice reminded us, discrimination against religion in the public square would not be tolerated and is unconstitutional: the church’s exclusion “from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution all the same, and cannot stand.”

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The Art of Disagreement

by Travis Weber

March 6, 2019

In the New York Times, Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute has an interesting piece on the polarization and fracturing of America today. Of note:

Political scientists have found that our nation is more polarized than it has been at any time since the Civil War. One in six Americans has stopped talking to a family member or close friend because of the 2016 election. Millions of people organize their social lives and their news exposure along ideological lines to avoid people with opposing viewpoints. What’s our problem?

2014 article in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on “motive attribution asymmetry”—the assumption that your ideology is based in love, while your opponent’s is based in hate—suggests an answer. The researchers found that the average Republican and the average Democrat today suffer from a level of motive attribution asymmetry that is comparable with that of Palestinians and Israelis. Each side thinks it is driven by benevolence, while the other is evil and motivated by hatred—and is therefore an enemy with whom one cannot negotiate or compromise.

Brooks continues:

People often say that our problem in America today is incivility or intolerance. This is incorrect. Motive attribution asymmetry leads to something far worse: contempt, which is a noxious brew of anger and disgust. And not just contempt for other people’s ideas, but also for other people. In the words of the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, contempt is “the unsullied conviction of the worthlessness of another.”

Quite alarming. Nevertheless, this is confirmed by what we see in our slice of social discourse—whether in reference to people holding to historic Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality, or merely seeking to protect their ability to hold to such teaching.

A recent study in The Atlantic discusses how such intolerance is cemented as beliefs become more siloed within certain groups and communities. The worst offenders? “[T]he most politically intolerant Americans, according to the analysis, tend to be whiter, more highly educated, older, more urban, and more partisan themselves.”

Brooks’ solution for all this?

Not eliminating different ideas, but embracing them. “What we need is not to disagree less, but to disagree better,” he says. When treated with contempt, we should not return it upon our opponent’s head. Instead, we must choose to respond with grace.

Of all people, Christians should most eagerly embrace this idea. Our faith itself is based on God not responding to our contempt with contempt, but by sending his Son to die in our place on a cross.

We should be the first to embrace the idea of showing grace to neighbors and those around us. There is much we cannot control in our society today, but let us seize one of the few areas we can change—our individual choice to respond with grace when treated with contempt.

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Why Communities, Not Courts, Should Resolve Longstanding Debates

by Alexandra McPhee

March 5, 2019

The Peace Cross is a veterans memorial in Bladensburg, Md. dedicated to 49 servicemembers who sacrificed themselves in service to WWI. When a committee including Gold Star mothers and veterans of the American Legion got together to create a homage to that loss, they chose the shape of a cross. That was almost one hundred years ago, and now that memorial is the subject of a Supreme Court case in which the Court is being asked to decide whether the memorial can constitutionally appear on public property.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh asked of the secularist legal group that started the case, “What is the role of this Court in a case like this?”

It is a discerning question that gets to the heart of at least one issue—how to deal with a feathertrigger culture that is ready to file a lawsuit and use a court order at a moment’s notice to encamp judicial precedent around its preferred social issue, isolating it from the normal push and pull of the political process.

Across the country, crosses and other religious symbols or displays are threatened with or subject to lawsuits because the current state of constitutional law permits a heckler’s veto over the presence of religious imagery on public property. Not only does current law allow almost anyone offended by a religious display to sue, it allows courts to inject themselves into a discussion about whether a monument is too religious to stay on public property with very little guiding principles.

As a result, longstanding debates about how a community should represent itself—by its veterans, by the holidays commonly celebrated, or by its history—are essentially taken out of the hands of the local government and put into the hands of the courts. Instead of a townhall with numerous residents advocating for multiple sides to an issue, it is a courtroom where all but the attorneys and the judge are forced to watch in silence as only the interests of the parties—and not the general community—are decided upon by a court.

This is not the democratic process that the Founders envisioned. The judiciary was supposed to be “the weakest of the three departments of power.” But current law leaves plenty of room for a court to make the call, enabling it to be used to replace the state legislature or city council. Important questions for local communities about displays in Bladensburg, Md., Pensacola, Fla., and other towns are consequently funneled to Washington, D.C.

We hope that this case will be an opportunity for the Court to finally decide its role in a case like this, and perhaps it will restore democracy to at least one social question.

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Religious Freedom: Enshrined in the Hearts of the American People

by Alexandra McPhee

March 4, 2019

This past Friday, Vice President Mike Pence spoke before an audience at the annual CPAC Convention. He said:

You know, the freedom of religion is not just enshrined in our Constitution; it’s enshrined in the hearts of the American people.  But make no mistake about it: Freedom of religion is under attack in our country.  Lately, it’s actually become fashionable for media elites and Hollywood liberals to mock religious belief.

My own family recently came under attack just because my wife Karen went back to teach art to children at a Christian school….

But let me be clear on this point: This is not about us.  It’s about all of you.  It’s about the sincerely held belief of millions of Americans who cherish their Christian faith and Christian education.  And so I’ll make you a promise: Under this President and this administration, we will always stand with people of faith.  We will always defend the freedom of religion of every American of every faith, so help us God.

This administration has indeed taken the lead in religious liberty, an important step in a culture where it acceptable to mock and scorn religious beliefs. It’s not just media elites or Hollywood, either. Modern culture, CPAC panelist Matthew Spalding observed, “has tried to push religion into a smaller and smaller and smaller box. ‘You got to keep it at home or you got to keep it in the confessional.’”

Washington has jumped on the bandwagon, too, as FRC reports—senators have doggedly questioned nominees for public office about their religious beliefs in order to “unmask particular tenets of potential (nominees’) religious faith that the interrogators fear run counter to their own political stances on issues such as abortion and gay rights,” as a Washington Post opinion piece points out.

The same could be said of the vilification of Second Lady Karen Pence and many of the latest attacks against people of faith. As our VP of Policy Travis Weber wrote, this should be a wake-up call to all Christians.

But Pence is also right about another thing—freedom of conscience and the ability to live out one’s faith is enshrined in the hearts of the American people, put in place by God himself. That is why in 1786 Thomas Jefferson and the Virginia General Assembly said in the timeless Act for Religious Freedom, “we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind.” Any political or cultural effort to renege on those values “will be an infringement of natural right.”

We are eager to stand with the administration to keep fighting for the right to exercise our faith. Click here for the full text of Pence’s remarks.

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Social Conservative Review - March 1, 2019

by Daniel Hart

March 1, 2019

Dear Friends,

Sometimes, in the course of our lives, we have to draw a line. For us here at FRC and for millions of people across the country, one of those times happens to be now.

As I’m sure you are aware, the U.S. Senate recently voted down a measure that would have introduced criminal penalties for letting a baby that has already been born after a botched abortion die. Yes, you read that right. There are currently no laws in our country that make it a criminal offense to commit infanticide after a botched abortion. Since 2002, the CDC has reported that a baby has been born after a failed abortion at least 143 times, and this number is almost certainly a vast underestimate because this data was only gathered from a handful of states that allowed the data to be gathered in the first place. 

Let’s contemplate this just for a moment: 143 baby boys and girls, squirming and crying for the tiniest bit of human compassion, left to die cold and alone in a storage closet.

As a country, we now find ourselves at a red line. Will we allow infanticide to continue unpunished, or will we make it a crime? For us here at FRC, we are drawing this red line. We will not let this issue slide. We are making it clear that we as a human race must, at the barest of minimums, care for a baby that has just been born. It’s almost unthinkable that we even have to take this stand, but we do.

So what are we going to do? First, we are going to make it clear to Congress what they are actually doing by not voting the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act into law. They are robbing brand-new babies of their very lives by not keeping them warm and feeding them. Therefore, we have started the End Birth Day Abortion campaign. With your help, we will send thousands and thousands of baby hats to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to show her that all babies deserve to be given a hat to keep them warm and a life to live.

This campaign is just the beginning of FRC’s efforts to see that all infanticide is made illegal. Let us pray for and continue to work for a culture that sees every human life in the same way that our Creator does: intrinsically worthwhile, unique, irreplaceable, and infinitely lovable, from conception to natural death.

Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.

Sincerely,

Dan Hart
Managing Editor for Publications
Family Research Council

 

FRC Media

FRC Speaker Series: How Members of Congress are Standing up to the Radical Abortion Agenda – Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.)

Avoid the ‘Twinkie diet’ in your prayer life: Do THIS to help you deal with depressing news headlines – Tony Perkins

Northam’s Real Offense to African-Americans – Patrina Mosley

Of Crosses and Totem Poles – Alexandra McPhee

Boys Competing Against Girls Steal Another Win – Cathy Ruse

The Influence of Social Media on Politics – Peyton Holliday

Education Reform: 6 Ways to Help Students Flourish – Zachary Rogers

3 Arguments Pro-Lifers Must Make in Standing for Life in 2019 – Hugh Phillips

Fighting Religious Persecution with Mustard Seeds – Caleb Seals

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

Why Religious Freedom Matters – Alan Sears, Townhall

Supreme Court to hear First Amendment case over cross memorial – Clyde Hughes, UPI

Covington High student’s legal team sues Washington Post – Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News

A Concentrated Effort’: GOP Rep Says Some Dems Trying to Strike ‘So Help Me God’ From Committee Oaths – Fox News

International Religious Freedom

Tiny Kaifeng Jewish Community Faces Orwellian Future – Lela Gilbert, The Jerusalem Post

Syrian Christians: Survivors in a great war – Mindy Belz, WORLD

No one is telling me when I can leave’, Asia Bibi speaks from protective custody – Alex Williams, Premier

In Cuba, Church Leaders Report Communist Intimidation Ahead of Vote on New Constitution – Patrick Goodenough, CNS News

Brownback says Pakistan willing to improve religious freedom record – Herald Malaysia

3 ways to pray for Haiti – Chelsea Patterson Sobolik, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Military Religious Freedom

Bible at center of dispute over display at Manchester VA Medical Center – Andy Hershberger, WMUR9

 

Life

Abortion

How Is Abortion After Birth Not News? – L. Brent Bozell III and Tim Graham, CNS News

New poll finds “dramatic shift” on abortion attitudes – Alayna Treene, Axios

Planned Parenthood Operates Over Half of U.S. Abortion Clinics – Emily Ward, CNS News

Abortion: A Biblical, Biological, and Philosophical Refutation – Matt Dawson, Answers in Genesis

Leading Public-Health Groups Oppose Ban on Infanticide – Alexandra DeSanctis, National Review

Most of the Planned Parenthood Officials Caught in CMP Videos have Since Resigned – Joshua Denton, California Family Council

Undercover Video of Abortion Clinic Destroys Claim That Late-Term Abortions Are Medically Necessary – Emily Jones, CBN News

Tim Kaine Suggests He’ll Oppose Ban on Infanticide – Alexandra DeSanctis, National Review

Dems are so attached to abortion, they can’t see that voters don’t want what they’re selling – Laura Ingraham, Fox News

Adoption

Christian adoption agency fights New York’s ultimatum to accept LGBTQ doctrine or close its doors – Martin M. Barillas, LifeSiteNews

Kinston teen businessman selling t-shirts to support adoption – WITN

 

Family

Marriage

Millennial Couples Are Trending Away from This Thing That’s Good for Your Marriage – Kelsey T. Chun, Verily

What Advice Would You Give Newly Married John Piper? – John Piper, Desiring God

Dear Husband, Our Marriage Wins When We Face Our Life Together – Samantha Krieger, HerViewFromHome

Parenting

The Left’s Literal Nanny State – Heather Wilhelm, National Review

Are Sundays Good for Babies? – Megan Hill, The Gospel Coalition

How to teach your children to handle peer pressure – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Economics/Education

Future of homeschooling: Less religious, more regulated? – Michael Gryboski, The Christian Post

New Research: Women Earn Less Not Because Of Sexism, But Because They Prefer To Raise Their Own Kids – Lyman Stone, The Federalist

Elizabeth Warren’s Misguided Child-Care Plan – Carrie Lukas, National Review

Federal Early Childhood Education, Care Don’t Benefit Kids. Here Are the Facts. – Lindsey Burke, The Daily Signal

State lawmakers target homeschoolers for intrusive in-house visits without cause – Lisa Bourne, LifeSiteNews

Drug Use on College Campuses Today – Walter Keenan and David Cohen, InpatientDrugRehab.org

Harrison Ford’s Climate Horror Story – L. Brent Bozell III and Tim Graham, CNS News

Faith/Character/Culture

Research Reveals ‘Belonging to a Church Is a Crucial Element’ for Longer and Happier Lives – Christian Ellis, CBN News

The Theme That Pervades Our Top 40 Hits – Alexandra Davis, Verily

Avoiding Difficult People Is Not Christlike Love – Maria Baer, The Gospel Coalition

Courteous but Cowardly: Today’s Tolerant Atheism – Fr. Gregory Pine, O.P., Public Discourse

Most U.S. Teens See Anxiety and Depression as a Major Problem Among Their Peers – Juliana Menasce Horowitz and Nikki Graf, Pew Research Center

Make ‘Christian’ Engagement with the Arts More … Christian – Brett McCracken, The Gospel Coalition

Stephen Hawking’s Accidental Apologetic – Bill Brown, BreakPoint

Human Sexuality

Four Ways to Fight Sexual Sin – Sam Allberry, Desiring God

Are We All “Cat Persons” Now? How Modern Dating Destroys Intimacy – Nathan Schlueter and Elizabeth Schlueter, Public Discourse

Relentless mom overthrows LGBT agenda at her kids’ schoolLifeSiteNews

Female High Schooler Speaks Out After Losing Championship To Two Transgender Sprinters – Amanda Prestigiacomo, The Daily Wire

Pornography

How We Finally Won the Battle Against Pornography – Michelle Stumbo, Focus on the Family

Sex is not the problem, THIS is: How to avoid the dangerous road of addiction – Paul David Tripp, Fox News

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Of Crosses and Totem Poles

by Alexandra McPhee

February 28, 2019

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in the closely-watched case out of Bladensburg, Maryland about the Bladensburg WWI Veterans Memorial known as the Peace Cross. A secularist legal group challenged the memorial because it is in the shape of a cross, which the group argues is unconstitutional in light of the fact that it is owned by a local government and maintained on public property and despite coming into creation under private ownership and funding.

Though the case involves a religious symbol significant to Christians, the decision—and the reasoning the Court uses to reach it—could have implications for the place of symbols and practices of all religions in the public square. During oral argument, Chief Justice Roberts noted that for Native Americans, “totems have spiritual and religious significance.” His question signaled that a decision on the Peace Cross would affect such minority religious groups.

It is a relevant question, as suits are consistently brought against religious minorities’ symbolic displays. During the holiday season, menorahs symbolizing the Jewish holiday of Chanukah are almost as controversial as nativities. (Judges even have a hard time deciding whether menorahs are too religious for public display.) The crescent moon and star, used by some to acknowledge the Islamic practice of Ramadan, have been involved in legal challenges. A public statue of Quetzalcoatl, which has religious significance to some Mayan revolutionaries in southern Mexico, also faced a lawsuit under the Establishment Clause.

Government action related to Jewish traditions like eruvs, consumer fraud protections for the sale of kosher goods, and ritual slaughter have faced legal challenges under the Establishment Clause, too.

While courts have allowed some of these minority religious displays to stand, the analyses have been all over the place. Lower courts are forced to render decisions under very subjective standards, only further proving the need for a clear, bright-line rule that will protect all religious expression in the public square.

Though some may like to say otherwise, it’s not just pushy Christians who will suffer bruised egos if the Peace Cross is removed. In this case, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, and everyone benefits from a public square left free to recognize the religious expression of its citizens. We’re hoping the Supreme Court will take this case as an opportunity to not only keep the Peace Cross at its current location, but to protect the role of religion—all religions—in the public square.

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Boys Competing Against Girls Steal Another Win

by Cathy Ruse

February 25, 2019

Two boys finished in first and second place over all the girls in the 55-yard dash at the state track championship meet in Connecticut earlier this month.

Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood have dominated in their sport for two years. That’s because they are actually boys who are allowed to compete against girls.  

Given their times, these boys would lose if they competed against other males. They can only beat girls. This fact alone makes the biological differences between the sexes crystal clear. If a boy, with all of his physical advantages, can only beat girls, with her comparative disadvantages, there is nothing about this to be proud of. It is simply cheating, and girls are getting tired of it.

Martina Navratilova, the 18-time Grand Slam tennis champion and celebrated gay activist, has now been vilified and punished because she says it’s unfair to force women to compete against biological men. These new rules, she wrote in The Sunday Times, “reward cheats and punish the innocent.”

These boys are not only stealing wins from girls, they’re stealing coveted scholarships into female collegiate athletics. It is no surprise that one of the girls competing against the boys called it “demoralizing.” Selina Soule would have qualified for the New England regionals which would have allowed her to run in front of more college coaches, if the two competitors who identify as transgender hadn’t taken the top spots, according to the Associated Press.

This is what radical feminists call female erasure. Others refer to it as the male invasion of female space.

Rick Moran of the American Thinker asks:

Will there ever come a tipping point where this idiocy is exposed? It may be coming next year at the Olympics. Transgendered athletes will compete for the first time. Whether they win medals or not, they are taking slots meant for women.

When men who identify as women compete against women, they’re not achieving a sports victory. They’re just lying, cheating, and stealing.

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