FRC Blog

How Polish Churches Are Loving Their Ukrainian Neighbors

by Arielle Del Turco

April 20, 2022

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked a humanitarian crisis unlike anything seen in Europe in nearly a century. Millions of Ukrainians are fleeing across the border to safety in surrounding countries as Russian forces continue to attack their homeland.

When I visited Poland earlier this month, the Polish people’s support for Ukraine was evident. In train stations throughout the country, Ukrainian refugees are met with information desks specifically set up for them, medical tents, basic food and supplies, and volunteers in yellow vests waiting to direct and assist them.

The warm reception of the Polish people and government toward Ukrainian refugees has emerged as a powerful theme in the wake of Russia’s war. And although evangelical Polish churches only make up an estimated 0.3 percent of the population, they have been at the forefront helping refugees.

For example, one Warsaw congregation of fewer than 100 members, Zoe Church, launched into action immediately upon hearing of the invasion. Pastor Szymon Kmiecik jumped into a car the night of the invasion and drove to the Ukrainian border to see how they could help. Since then, the congregation has been sending vans full of supplies into Ukraine and coordinating with Ukrainian evangelical churches to distribute supplies to meet basic needs. The church is also renting three apartments to house Ukrainian refugees and assisting them as they resettle and look for work.

Approximately 90 percent of Ukrainian refugees in Poland are women and children. This poses unique challenges as mothers try to provide for their family and get a job while also caring for young children. Zoe Church has a vision to meet this need by offering a safe childcare option for refugee mothers trying to work or simply looking to entertain their kids for a few hours. Now, the church’s Sunday service attendees have doubled with the Ukrainian refugees the church is helping in attendance. You can donate to their efforts here.

In Western Poland, the First Baptist Church of Wroclaw has also stepped up, making space inside the church for Ukrainian refugees to stay until they find a more permanent place to live. Pastor Michal Domagala told me the church houses an average of 40-60 Ukrainian refugees. Polish volunteers help the refugees find jobs, fill out government paperwork, and get acclimated to life in Poland.

At 300 members, First Baptist Church could be considered a megachurch in Poland. Even before the start of the war, the church held a Ukrainian-language service for the Ukrainians who lived and worked in the city. The church’s setup for refugees is beyond impressive. A room full of clothes for all ages is staffed with volunteers who help refugees locate items they might need. Baby supplies and toys are available for those who fled Ukraine with only what they could carry. You can donate to their efforts here.

The need is great in Poland; the country has already taken in 2.6 million Ukrainian refugees, and more are on the way. The strain on the Polish education and health care systems is starting to show, and housing is becoming scarce. In this environment, the tiny evangelical minority is having an outsized impact.

International Christian humanitarian aid organizations, such as Convoy of Hope Europe and Samaritan’s Purse, also have warehouses and personnel set up inside of Ukraine to help the civilians who remain there and find themselves under attack, out of work, and struggling to cope with shortages of food and basic supplies.

The Polish pastors I spoke with say there is no shortage of people ready to volunteer. Yet, some have noticed that donations are tapering off as the war in Ukraine becomes the new normal. One pastor encouraged Christians around the world to pray that the Polish people will have the grace to continue displaying compassion and generosity to Ukrainian refugees for as long as it is needed. 

Poland’s evangelical churches have given much of themselves in order to love their neighbors. It is a beautiful example of Christian charity worth emulating.

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The New Wave of Pro-Life Legislation

by Family Research Council

April 19, 2022

In the last seven days, an impressive number of Republican states have raced to send pro-life legislation over the finish line. Of course, the backdrop to these gains is the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Mississippi’s abortion law (expected in June) that could potentially overturn Roe v. Wade. Thanks to the bold leaders in Arizona, Oklahoma, Florida, and Kentucky, we’re witnessing a cultural shift that will have generational impact—regardless of what the justices decide.

Arizona’s Governor Takes Major Stride in Protecting the Unborn

On March 30, Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey (R) signed a bill that criminalizes abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. This bill, sponsored by state Senator Nancy Barto (R), also prohibits the prosecution of women who undergo an abortion.

Abortion businesses that breach this law, however, could face felony charges and lose their medical licenses. Physicians can carry out abortions past the 15-week mark only during medical emergencies. The bill does not allow exceptions for instances of sexual abuse.

In a letter, the Republican governor wrote, “In Arizona, we know there is immeasurable value in every life—including preborn life. I believe it is each state’s responsibility to protect them.”

In 2020, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported that 13,186 abortions were carried out in the state. Recent data reveals that 636 were after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Conservatives consider Senate Bill 1164 a victory for the unborn. However, abortion business advocates have condemned the legislation as part of a long-term effort to make abortion illegal in Arizona. 

Senate Bill 1164 will become effective by late summer.

Making Oklahoma the Most Pro-Life State

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R) promised his constituents that he would sign every pro-life bill that hit his desk. On April 12, the Republican lawmaker kept his word by signing Senate Bill 612 into law.

The bill makes it a felony for doctors in Oklahoma to carry out abortions with a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. Similar to the recently passed bill in Arizona, Senate Bill 612 has no exemption for rape or incest. Women can only undergo abortions if the pregnancy is life-threatening.

This legislation passed both the state House and Senate and was approved by more than 80 percent of elected officials.

Earlier this week, Tony Perkins interviewed Stitt and asked him what political statement various GOP legislators are making by passing pro-life bills.

The United States has some of the most egregious abortion laws in any of the civilized countries,” said Stitt. “For me, personally, standing for godly values, standing for what’s right, I’m more and more emboldened to represent the people of Oklahoma. Every state can do things a little bit differently, but I represent all four million Oklahomans and we overwhelmingly support life.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called Senate Bill 612 an attack on women’s rights and “one of the most extreme state laws signed into law to date.” But Stitt has declared he is committed to making Oklahoma “the most pro-life state in the country.”

Florida Legislators Stand up for the Defenseless 

We are here today to defend those who can’t defend themselves,” said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) in a press conference on April 14, after signing pro-life legislation.

Similar to Arizona, House Bill 5 bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Previously, abortions in Florida were allowed until 24 weeks of pregnancy.

This law applies even in cases of rape, incest, or human trafficking. This sparked debate in the state Senate, with Democrats strongly objecting and sharing stories of women who decided to undergo an abortion after enduring trauma.

There are only two exemptions to the 15-week ban of abortions. House Bill 5 does not come into effect in instances where a pregnancy is a “serious risk” to the mother. Furthermore, this legislation does not apply in cases where fatal fetal abnormality is detected. A written confirmation from two physicians is required.

Life is a sacred gift worthy of our protection,” DeSantis said in a statement. “I am proud to sign this great piece of legislation which represents the most significant protections for life in the state’s modern history.”

In March, when this bill passed the state Senate 23-15, President Joe Biden called it “a dangerous bill that will severely restrict women’s access to reproductive health care.”

Florida has the third highest rate of abortions in the country with 18.5 abortions per 1,000 women. In 2019, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Preventions reports that 71,914 abortions were carried out in the state. Once this law goes into effect in June, abortions are expected to decrease drastically.

Kentucky’s Battle to Preserve Life

In Kentucky, unlike the Arizona, Florida, and Oklahoma legislatures, the path to passing pro-life legislation was not easy. Democratic Governor Andy Beshear vetoed House Bill 3, faulting the bill for excluding exemptions for rape and incest.

The governor wrote, “Under House Bill 3, a 12-year-old child that is raped and impregnated by her father would not have the option of a procedure without both the consent of her mother and without also notifying her rapist—her father—at least 48 hours prior to obtaining a procedure.”

On April 13, Kentucky’s Republican-dominated state House and Senate voted to override Gov. Beshear’s veto. The results were 76-21 in the House, and the Senate concurred with a vote of 31-6.

Kentucky’s House Bill 3 echoes Oklahoma law by banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy with exceptions for the life of the mother. This measure also requires additional reporting requirements for medication abortions. It stipulates that abortion businesses must work with a funeral home to bury or cremate the fetal remains.

Since the bill has an emergency clause, the law is effective immediately. Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union announced they will be filing lawsuits in Kentucky federal court.

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We Don’t Want Abortions in Our State,” Says Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt

by Deborah Laker

April 18, 2022

WASHINGTON D.C.– On April 12, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R) signed into law SB 612, a bill that makes it illegal to carry out an abortion in the state except for medical emergencies.

The bill not only makes it a felony for doctors in Oklahoma to carry out abortions but has a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. Senate Bill 612 was approved by more than 80 percent of the state legislature.

This pro-life legislation has been labeled “extreme” and “disturbing” by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. In a “Washington Watch” interview, Gov. Stitt supported SB 612 saying, “Other states can do things differently, but in the state of Oklahoma, we want to protect life.” The Republican lawmaker emphasized that he is representing all four million Oklahomans by taking a “stand with life” and is prepared to “push back against the federal government.”

Watch the full interview with Gov. Stitt on tonyperkins.com at 5 p.m. EST.

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A Zero Star Review for Yelp’s Abortion Activism

by Joy Zavalick

April 18, 2022

The numerous pro-life protections being enacted across the country and the U.S. Supreme Court’s upcoming decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization are making the abortion industry increasingly desperate to maintain its place in American society. Recently, this mounting desperation has been seeping into the policies of some major corporations. Yelp is the latest in a string of private companies (such as Citigroup) that have announced that they will cover travel expenses for employees who desire to obtain an abortion that would not be legal in the state where they live.

This type of company policy is in direct response to state-level pro-life protections such as Texas’ heartbeat law, which has successfully saved thousands of babies’ lives by protecting life in the womb after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. By implementing such policies, these corporations have actively decided against remaining neutral on the topic of abortion.

The recent uptick in companies publicly declaring a position on abortion shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering how corporate America has similarly caved to shareholder pressures on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria. The activists behind progressive ESG investment organizations like As You Sow have consistently applied pressure to corporations, including Yelp.

In 2021, As You Sow published a report condemning Yelp for allowing Planned Parenthood sites to be “dogged by ongoing posting of unsubstantiated and illegitimate” reviews. The report concludes, “It is recommended that Yelp seek to engage harmed businesses”—such as Planned Parenthood—“in meaningful discussions about their experiences and desired alternative approaches.” Now, four months later, Yelp has chosen to enact a policy that will ensure that its employees continue contributing to the profits of the abortion industry by whatever means necessary.

Enabling female employees to obtain an out-of-state abortion instead of encouraging them to pursue motherhood is profitable—both for the abortion industry and the corporation that adopts such a policy. It minimizes the costs of providing maternity leave and keeps female employees actively engaged in the workplace for the obvious utilitarian purpose of maintaining productivity.

Representative Katie Porter (D-Calif.) summarized the motivation for corporations to encourage abortions during a 2020 House Financial Services Committee hearing. She said, “In the span of four decades since the 1970s, 38 million women joined the workforce. Without those women, our economy would be 25 percent smaller.” Her point is clear: ever since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion on demand throughout all nine months of pregnancy, companies have increasingly been able to profit from women employees—and they are not interested in going back.

Instead of liberating working women, Roe created a loophole for employers so they wouldn’t have to adapt to suit the needs of working mothers. Instead of creating an environment that embraced women in their totality, corporations could simply expect women to reject motherhood.

Employing a working mother often requires additional consideration beyond allowing for a few weeks of maternity leave once the child is born. Because of Roe, workplaces like Yelp have been able to take the easy way out for decades. Now, with the Dobbs decision on the horizon, they are doing everything in their power to make sure that the abortion loophole remains available.

Miriam Warren, chief diversity officer at Yelp, stated, “We’ve long been a strong advocate for equality in the workplace, and believe that gender equality cannot be achieved if women’s healthcare rights are restricted.” Corporate America has come alongside the abortion industry in normalizing the sexist myth that motherhood and career success are mutually exclusive.

No one makes the claim that men cannot progress in their careers when they become fathers. Female workers do not need to suffer the mental and physical trauma of abortion in order to be equal with their male counterparts.

Yelp has caved to pressure from the abortion lobby and hidden its true utilitarian agenda behind a façade of female empowerment. Other cowardly corporations will likely follow suit. As companies increasingly reveal their true colors and lack of spine, Christians must carefully consider which ones receive their business.

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How Christ Transforms Passover

by Joshua Arnold

April 15, 2022

Today begins the Jewish Feast of Unleavened Bread, more commonly known as Passover. For Christians, today is observed as Good Friday, a less conspicuous counterpart to Resurrection Sunday which follows. However, while Christians don’t celebrate Passover, the chief festival of the Old Covenant is rich with symbolism of Christ. Why else would Paul, “A Hebrew of Hebrews” (Phil. 3:5), proclaim, “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7)?

To understand the significance of Passover for Christians, let’s look back to Exodus 12, where God ordained the first Passover. In nine plagues, God has devastated Egypt, displaying his power over the Pharoah and all the nation’s idols, but the Israelites were still in slavery. God had promised that a tenth and final plague would kill every firstborn in Egypt and compel Pharoah to finally let them go. To prepare for the tenth plague and the exodus, God gave the people instructions to observe the Feast of Passover—a strange setting for a feast. They were to “eat it in haste” (Ex. 12:11), ready to begin their journey at any moment. They were to eat unleavened bread, and even purge all leaven out of their houses (Ex. 12:15). And they were to kill a yearling lamb to eat and sprinkle its blood on their doorframes (Ex 12:6-8).

The command to sprinkle a lamb’s blood may initially seem strange, but it was not without a purpose. God explained, “The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt” (Ex. 12:13). When God’s angel saw the blood, he literally passed over those Israelite houses, sparing them from judgment. They were to stay inside all night (Ex. 12:22), so that the blood-marked doorway would stand literally between them and death. It was an act of obedience and faith; they stained their doors not because the blood had magical properties, but because God had commanded it. They had to believe God’s word that he would pass over houses sprinkled with blood.

Significantly, the sign of the blood was for the people of Israel, not for God. God knows everything, including the hearts who trust in him. He needs no physical symbols to guide him. No, this sign visibly represented for the people the distinction God was making between those who believed and obeyed him, and those who did not. The form of this sign was the blood of a sacrificial lamb.

The blood also served to teach the people of Israel that God did not spare them because of their inherent goodness. Abraham had asked God, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” (Gen. 18:23). The answer to the rhetorical question is, of course not, because “God is a righteous judge” (Ps. 7:11). If the Israelites were righteous, they would not have needed blood to protect them from God’s judgment.

In fact, “none is righteous, no not one” (Rom. 3:10). We, too, are guilty of sin against a holy God. We, like the Israelites, need forgiveness, and “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Heb. 9:22). So, like them, we need the blood of another to stand between us and God’s just wrath. The Bible teaches clearly and repeatedly (because we are naturally inclined to deny) that we are helpless to atone for our own sins.

But there is good news! “God will provide for himself the lamb,” said Abraham (Gen. 22:8)—and God provided a lamb, both for Abraham (Gen. 22:13-14) and for us. God sent John the Baptist to testify to his Lamb. When John saw Jesus, he proclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn. 1:29).

The inspired writers of the Bible leave no doubt concerning how Jesus is like the Passover lamb. Just as the blood of a lamb “without blemish” (Ex. 12:5) stood between the Israelites and death, so Christians are “ransomed… with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Pet. 1:18-19). Jesus was crucified on “the day of Preparation of the Passover” (Jn. 19:14), the very day the Passover lamb was killed. Even Jesus’ silence before his accusers (Mat 26:63, 27:14) fulfilled the type of the Passover lamb, as Isaiah prophesied, “like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth” (Isa. 53:7). This is the passage the Ethiopian eunuch was studying when the Holy Spirit providentially guided Philip to his chariot, where we read, “Beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus” (Acts 8:35). Jesus’ meekness, his perfection, and even the day of his death prove that he really is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

Jesus fulfilled the type of the Passover lamb in his death (Mat. 5:17), but, before he died, he transformed the Passover into something new. At his last supper with his disciples, which was a Passover meal (Lk. 22:15), Jesus “took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me’” (1 Cor. 11:23-25). Just as the Passover served as a perpetual memorial of God delivering his people from Egypt (Ex. 12:14,17), so the Lord’s Supper is a perpetual remembrance for Christians of Jesus Christ delivering us from sin.

Thus, for Christians, the Lord’s Supper has replaced the Passover; the substance has replaced the symbol; the reality has replaced the shadow (Heb. 10:1). Jesus did away with the yearly calendar of sacrifices when he “offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins” (Heb. 10:12). Through God’s deliverance, the people of Israel left their bondage in Egypt and sojourned in the wilderness on their way to the promised land of rest. Through’s Christ’s deliverance, the people of God now leave their bondage to sin (Rom 6:18) and live in the world as sojourners (1 Pet. 2:11) until they reach God’s promised, final rest (Heb. 4:6-10).

This is our hope: to see our precious Lord Jesus with uncorrupted eyes, and to rejoice in his glorious presence for all eternity. There he is in heaven, “a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain” (Rev. 5:6). Although a Lamb, he is also “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David,” who “has conquered” (Rev. 5:5). Our hope in him is sure, without any tinge of wavering. He will be victorious over all his enemies. As Paul reminds us, “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Rom. 8:31)?

How does seeing Christ in Passover apply to a Christian’s daily life? You may remember that one feature of the Passover meal was removing leaven from the house and eating unleavened bread. The reason Moses gives for this instruction is the urgency of their exodus, “because they were thrust out of Egypt and could not wait” (Ex. 12:39). To this reason Paul adds another, lasting one:

Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1 Cor. 5:7-8).

In the passage’s context, Paul is rebuking the Corinthian church for tolerating incestual adultery in the church and not expelling the unrepentant sinner. Now that we are bought with the blood of Christ, we belong to him and ought to be holy as he is holy. The “old leaven” is our old sinful passions and habits, which can work through all our life, spoiling our witness. Throwing out the old leaven represents making a clean break with our old nature and living to God alone. Quoting from the Levitical law, Paul exhorts the Corinthian congregation to “purge the evil person from among you” (1 Cor. 5:13). And purge the evil from your heart, too.

Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again. Christ rose from the dead as the “firstfruits” (1 Cor. 15:20), God’s guarantee that those who trust in him will also rise when Christ returns and live with him forever. Because that is certain, we must all consider this question: is there anything in your life that you would be ashamed to do in the presence of a holy God? Now is the time to repent. Those who harden their hearts (like Pharoah) will mourn when Christ returns. Those who repent now will rejoice when Christ returns. Risen Lord Jesus, come quickly!

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Why “Good Friday” Is So Good

by David Closson

April 15, 2022

For many people, 2022 began with a lot of promise. But recent developments have once again reminded us of the consequences of living in a fallen world. Over the past few weeks, headlines have been dominated by ghastly war crimes committed against the Ukrainian people. We’ve also learned about five fully formed babies who may have been the victims of illegal partial-birth abortions or infanticide in our nation’s capital, and rising prices for gas and other consumer goods are forcing families to make difficult decisions. A divisive U.S. Supreme Court confirmation seems to have only exacerbated partisan political tensions.

In short, the religious, political, and cultural fault lines that divide Americans have resurfaced, and pessimism and anxiety are once again clouding the optimism that many of us felt earlier in the year.

On some level, the disillusionment many are feeling today is not unlike how Jesus’ followers must have felt on the first Good Friday. Less than a week after His triumphant arrival into Jerusalem, Jesus is now gasping for breath on a Roman cross while His friends look on helplessly and His enemies gloat. The hope and triumph of Palm Sunday is a distant memory.

Of course, those familiar with the Bible’s storyline know that Friday is not the end of the story. Easter is on the horizon. But Jesus’ resurrection is only glorious because of His obedience and faithfulness in death. Thus, it is appropriate on Good Friday to dwell for a while on the horror and sorrow of the crucifixion as we await Resurrection Sunday.

Jesus’ Final Hours

According to the New Testament, Jesus’ final week began with His euphoric entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Over the ensuing days, Jesus ministered to crowds of Jewish pilgrims, outmaneuvered religious leaders seeking to embarrass and ensnare Him, and prepared the disciples for the end of His earthly mission. By Thursday evening, Judas’ treasonous plan was in motion. Following the Passover meal with his disciples, Jesus enters the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. In the shadows of the olive trees, Jesus prays earnestly and prepares to face God’s wrath against humanity’s sin (Luke 22:41-44).

After praying in the garden, Jesus is arrested, the disciples flee, and He is taken before the Sanhedrin. After a hastily arranged mock trial held in the middle of the night, Jesus is brought before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of the region. After an initial interrogation, Pilate has Jesus flogged, assuming this punishment would appease Jesus’ opponents. But the crowd, incited by their jealous leaders, demands Jesus’ crucifixion. Reluctantly, Pilate consents, fearful of the frenzied crowd’s growing unrest.

Forced to carry His own cross, Jesus arrives at Golgotha, a public place outside the city. There, He is crucified between two criminals, fulfilling an Old Testament prophecy that predicted God’s Messiah would be “numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12). For about six hours, Jesus hangs on the cross, His bloodied body in view of everyone passing by, including jeering soldiers and Jewish religious leaders. At last, around three o’clock in the afternoon, the Son of God breathes His last and dies (Luke 23:46). Jesus’ body is given to Joseph of Arimathea, who quickly buries Jesus in a nearby tomb.  

God’s Plan for Salvation

Jesus’ final hours and crucifixion prompt questions. Why would God allow Jesus to endure so much pain and torture? In what way is the Bible’s teaching about Jesus’ death “good”? To answer these questions, it is important to recall what the Bible teaches about God’s heart for sinners and His plan to redeem them.

First, it is important to understand that the horrifying events of Good Friday were central to God’s plan of redeeming sinners. Scripture teaches that Jesus was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). Moreover, Jesus’ enemies did what God “had predestined to take place” (Acts 4:28). The infamy and pain of the crucifixion were God’s plan from the beginning. Everything that took place—Judas’ betraying, the Sanhedrin’s conniving, Pilate’s adjudicating, and the crucifixion itself—was the ordained means by which God worked to save sinners.

Consequently, the events of Friday must be seen within the context of God’s sovereignty; everything that occurred was ordained by God. Nothing surprised God or caught Him off guard. Every event, every decision, down to the last detail, was orchestrated and planned. Although the actors in the story—including Pilate, the Sanhedrin, and the Roman soldiers—were morally responsible for their actions, their actions unfolded within the sovereign determination of God.

This raises another question: if Jesus’ death was part of God’s plan to redeem sinners, why did He have to suffer so much? In other words, why was Jesus’ death so awful?

This brings us to our second point, the awful reality of human sinfulness. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were given a choice. Instead of obeying God, the first couple listened to Satan and disobeyed their Creator. Their rebellion brought about massive consequences. In theological terms, Adam and Eve’s disobedience was sin, a blatant violation and transgression of God’s law. As humanity’s representative head, Adam’s sin was passed down to his descendants. As the apostle Paul explains, “Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12).

Sin separates us from God. And all of us have sinned. As Paul explains, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Moreover, because sin is such an affront to God, the consequence of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). This is what God had warned Adam and Eve about in Eden; rebellion against God would result in physical and spiritual death (Gen. 2:16-17).

Third, the reality of sin places humanity in a precarious state. God is perfect and cannot abide sin (Hab. 1:13). Therefore, if there is going to be any hope for humanity, God must take the initiative and reverse sin’s curse. And incredibly, that’s exactly what He did. The Bible teaches that God is loving and desires that none perish (1 Tim. 2:4). This is why Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, became incarnate (embodied in flesh) (Phil. 2:7). This brings us to Good Friday. Jesus lived a sinless life and died in the place of sinners as a sacrifice (Heb. 9:26). As Paul explains in Romans 5:8, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The most well-known verse in the Bible, John 3:16, teaches the same truth: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

These verses relay the core of the gospel. By providing a perfect sacrifice for sin, Jesus removed God’s wrath toward sinners and fully satisfied God’s justice (1 John 4:10). Through His death and resurrection, Jesus overcame humanity’s separation from God and provided a way for us to be reconciled with God (2 Cor. 5:18-19).

In other words, the “good news” of Christianity is the atoning work of Jesus. Now, by repenting of sin and turning in faith to Christ, sinful people can be forgiven of their sins (Rom. 10:9-10). As Paul explains, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). In this verse and others, the Bible teaches what theologians refer to as “penal substitution,” the idea that Christ bore the penalty of sin when He died and that in death He substituted himself for sinners. Those who trust in Christ’s atoning work are justified in God’s sight, meaning they are now declared righteous.

Because of Jesus’ saving work on our behalf, it is appropriate to call this dark day “good.” Good Friday is good because Jesus paid the price for our sins. Moreover, it is good because He not only died in our place, but He was also raised to life. On Easter Sunday, we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, which attests to His power over death. His resurrection is what Scripture describes as the “first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). As Jesus was resurrected, so will His followers when He comes again.

So, even as we reflect on a difficult year, Good Friday gives us perspective. If God can redeem Good Friday, with all of its pain, horror, and suffering, He can redeem anything—including us. For many of us, today might be dark. But take heart; hope is on the horizon. 

Today is Friday, but Sunday is coming.

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Undocumented Migrants Arrive in D.C., Facing Uncertain Future

by Deborah Laker

April 14, 2022

WASHINGTON D.C.– On Wednesday morning, the first bus of undocumented migrants from Texas’ southern border arrived in the nation’s capital. Last week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management to transport migrants to D.C. This action is part of the Republican governor’s strategy to counter the Biden administration’s rescinding of Title 42, a Trump-era border policy.

The migrants from Columbia, Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua who arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday were processed by federal authorities and offered a voluntary bus ride to Washington, D.C. Family Research Council correspondent, Marjorie Jackson, spoke with the asylum seekers and discovered that the bus departed from Del Rio on Monday morning and embarked on a 36-hour journey. Upon arrival at Union Station, the group was met by Catholic Charities, a nationwide refugee resettlement agency. The migrants were offered food, clothes, and legal advice.

Manuel, an undocumented migrant from Venezuela, said he’s come to America seeking a better life for his family since the economic situation is becoming increasingly difficult in his home country. He is on his way to New York where his case will be heard in immigration court.

Recently, the Biden administration announced the termination of Title 42, effective May 23. This policy was established in spring 2020 to stop the spread of COVID by preventing asylum seekers from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Title 42 has since prevented approximately 1.7 million attempts by undocumented individuals from entering the country.

On “Washington Watch,” Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (R) explained the effects of repealing Title 42.

By the end of the first term of Biden, we could be close to having one out of every five people living in America being here illegally,” Patrick said. “We’re projecting that another 10 and a half million people will come in during the next three years.”

The GOP lawmaker went on to explain that the influx of illegal migrants will not only affect the education system and workforce, but it will impact the course of elections throughout the country.

The Biden administration’s next move—you’ll see soon—will be to give everyone a green card. And that’s the pathway to citizenship [and a] pathway to voting. And then you have, in the next decade or so, 30 or 40 million voters, many of them that will want to vote Democrat because he’s the one who brought them here. They want to control the elections and make this a one-party country.”

Today, another busload of undocumented migrants arrived in the Capitol at 4:30 a.m. It is unclear what their final destinations will be.

Deborah Laker is Staff Writer at Family Research Council.

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4 Days (and Ways) to Enrich Your Easter Celebration

by Dan Hart

April 13, 2022

For believers, the holiest week of the year is upon us: the great celebration of our Lord’s passion and resurrection. While it’s wonderful to mark Easter with fun egg hunts and festive chocolate egg-filled baskets for the kids, there are a multitude of other Christian traditions and practices that believers of all ages can partake in to deepen our faith and enrich our experience as we celebrate “Holy Week” and consider Jesus’ last week on earth including His teachings in the temple, the Last Supper, His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, His arrest, trial, torture, and crucifixion, and His glorious rising from the grave.

1. Thursday: Commemorating the Last Supper

As recounted in the gospels, Jesus partook in the traditional Jewish Passover meal with His disciples on the night before He was crucified—which has become known as the Lord’s Supper or the Last Supper. In the Jewish custom, it is known as a Seder (or Passover) meal. It has since become a tradition in the Christian church to celebrate a symbolic Seder meal on Thursday night that can consist of wine, bitter herbs (such as parsley), salt water, unleavened matzah bread, hardboiled egg, and lamb (or other elements depending on the tradition).

Another tradition is washing the feet of our loved ones, just as Christ washed the feet of His disciples (John 13:1-20). We can also sacrifice some sleep on Thursday night and spend some quality time in prayer in order to “keep watch” as Christ did when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46).

2. Friday: Remembering the Goodness of Christ’s Sacrifice

It may seem somewhat ironic to refer to the Friday before Easter as “Good Friday” given that it is the day Christ suffered a brutal crucifixion at the hands of sinners. However, “Good Friday” is indeed good because of the profound goodness of Christ’s victory over sin and death by means of His crucifixion and death on this day, culminating in His Resurrection on Easter. The gospels tell us that Christ was nailed to the cross between nine o’clock and noon and that He died around three o’clock. Therefore, Christians can set aside the time of noon to three for special prayer and meditation on the passion and death of Christ. We might also consider fasting as a tangible way to reflect on Christ’s sacrifice.

Some other ways we can observe Good Friday might be to take a long walk and meditate on Jesus’ road to Calvary. We could also watch a film adaptation of the passion narrative such as The Passion of the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, Risen, or another well-produced movie to enter into the final hours of Jesus’ earthly life more fully.

For younger children, we can fill plastic Easter eggs with symbols of Christ’s passion and resurrection, such as a cross, nails, a stone, and other related items. When they open them, we can give age-appropriate explanations on how each symbol was part of the extent to which Jesus loved us by suffering, dying, and rising for us.

3. Saturday: Preparing for the Lord’s Rising

Historically, the Saturday before Easter has been referred to as “Silent Saturday.” As we await Christ’s Resurrection, we can engage in edifying activities to prepare our hearts for Easter. One idea is to create a traditional Polish Easter basket as a gift for your pastor. Each item in the basket is symbolic of different attributes of God. For example, eggs symbolize new life and Christ’s rising from the grave, sausage symbolizes God’s favor and generosity, ham symbolizes joy and abundance, a candle represents the light of Christ, and more.

A way to inspire our kids when they are painting Easter eggs could be to have them look at pictures of the traditional European art of painting eggs with intricate designs and Christian symbols.

Another fun activity to do with children is to make a Resurrection Garden. This consists of a large garden pot that can be transformed into a mini “garden” that symbolizes Calvary and Christ’s tomb using potting soil, rocks, moss, three homemade wood crosses, and more.

4. Sunday: The Resurrection of Our Lord

As we celebrate the glorious day on which Christ defeated death and saved us from our sins—the most consequential day in human history—we can enhance our celebration in a number of ways. One idea that may especially appeal to families is adding food to our Easter feasts that is rich in symbolism, such as Resurrection Rolls. These are made by stuffing crescent rolls with marshmallows, and when they are done baking, the marshmallow inside disappears, and you are left with a delicious “empty tomb.”

Adding candles to your Easter table is especially appropriate as we celebrate the light of Christ’s resurrected body. Singing traditional Easter hymns is another great way to revel in and truly celebrate the spirit of Easter.

Another idea is to make a traditional Easter wreath and hang it on your front door. The symbolism consists of (among other things) the wreath itself representing the crown of thorns, a purple ribbon representing royalty and the robe placed over Christ’s shoulders during His mock trial, a nail representing His crucifixion, grapes representing the blood He shed, and a lily representing the new life of the risen Christ.

Finally, in addition to attending an Easter morning worship service, it may be helpful to set aside some time to read the Bible’s account of the resurrection. The story of Jesus’ resurrection is told in Matthew 28:1-15, Mark 16:1-13, Luke 24:1-12, and John 20:1-29. It is extremely encouraging to read the gospel accounts themselves, and Christians do well to ponder these glorious passages on Resurrection Sunday.

These are just a few ideas about how to enrich your Easter celebration among the multitude of traditions that have sprung up over the last two millennia since Jesus’ resurrection. No matter how you and your loved ones choose to commemorate Easter, the most important thing is to truly celebrate it in order to stir in our souls once again the hope that is in all of us as believers—that Jesus burst into our fallen world and redeemed it in the most astonishing of ways, conquering sin and death so that we might be forgiven our sin and reconciled to God the Father. It’s a message that our darkened world needs to hear now more than ever.

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The Bodies of Five Babies Cry Out for Justice

by Mary Szoch , Joy Zavalick

April 7, 2022

Approximately four blocks west of the White House, in the midst of academic buildings and dormitories of The George Washington University, abortionist Cesare Santangelo operates his abortion business, known as Washington Surgi-Clinic. It was from here that the remains of five fully developed unborn babies were reportedly recovered. Even though their deaths are suspected to be the result of partial-birth abortions, infanticide, or a violation of the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002, the D.C. medical examiner has refused to do an autopsy.

In Washington, D.C., abortion is legal throughout the entirety of pregnancy. However, federal law prohibits abortionists from committing partial-birth abortions, and babies born alive are considered full persons under the law. Unfortunately, because congressional Democrats refuse to pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, it is not currently required that babies born alive after an abortion attempt receive medical attention.

Legal late-term abortions are conducted through a multi-day process in which a baby is killed prior to delivery. Partial-birth abortions deviate from a typical late-term abortion by partially delivering a baby so that the abortionist can kill the child before full delivery. Because this method is illegal, many abortionists inject the child with a feticide (digoxin) to kill them while they are still in the womb.

The physicians who evaluated the remains of the five aborted babies recovered from Santangelo’s clinic have speculated that there may be evidence of the abortionist committing illegal partial-birth abortions or possibly even killing babies that were delivered alive.

The completely intact nature of some of the babies is suspicious because the cause of death cannot be determined. One of the children displayed head wounds consistent with those of a partial-birth abortion. One of the children was delivered in the amniotic sac, pointing to the possibility that he or she was born alive and then left to die.

An autopsy must be conducted on these babies to confirm whether illegal abortion activity occurred. But illegal or not, Santangelo’s actions are morally wrong.

The finding of the remains of these five unborn victims has flooded the news, but this is hardly the first time Cesare Santangelo has been under scrutiny.

A complaint was filed by a department head at George Washington University Hospital voicing concerns about several of Santangelo’s “bad outcomes related to abortion” in 2013. However, the review panel was reluctant to discipline Santangelo, pointing out “he’s the ‘go to’ for high-risk cases.”

In the “Additional Items Discussed,” the D.C. Department of Health Board of Medicine wrote that the panel made a few “recommendations” that Dr. Santangelo should consider adopting in his practice: “1. Consider conducting terminations with ultrasound guidance to reduce risk of uterine perforation; 2. Improve provider-referring hospital communication; and 3. Ensure that pre-consent and consent-to-surgery forms are uniform and do not have any differences, thereby preventing miscommunication.” The fact that these are merely recommendations shows the disregard the pro-abortion lobby has for both mothers and their babies and the influence it wields on government bodies.

A year prior, in 2012, Live Action conducted an undercover filming of Santangelo wherein he talked about allowing babies born alive to die without receiving medical attention.

When asked, “Would you make sure that it doesn’t survive?” Santangelo responded, “We would not help it. We wouldn’t intubate. We wouldn’t do anything extra to help it survive. It would be a terminal person in a hospital…It’s like a do not resituate order…”

Except that it’s nothing like a “do not resuscitate order” or having a “terminal person in a hospital.” It is having the power to help a person live and callously tossing that person aside to die.   

There is more proof that Santangelo has no regard for human life. A medical malpractice/wrongful death lawsuit was filed against Santangelo by the family of a woman who received a dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure at his business to remove her naturally-miscarried child.

Santangelo, who had no hospital admitting privileges at the time, failed to call an ambulance for 13 minutes after the woman’s oxygen levels fell, and she turned blue. Santangelo—who is accused of waiting too long to call for emergency help—never attempted appropriate resuscitation efforts. Once at the hospital, the woman was declared dead. An autopsy revealed that Santangelo botched the procedure, leaving her with a perforated or lacerated uterus and pieces of her preborn baby in her bloodstream and lungs.

Over the past week, Cesare Santangelo’s blatant disregard for life has been on display. Join us in demanding that autopsies and a full investigation be done into the deaths of the five infants whose bodies were recovered from Washington Surgi-Clinic. There must be justice for these precious babies.

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Should Evangelicals Be “Single-Issue Voters”? A Proposal for “Pinnacle-Issue Voting”

by Owen Strachan

April 6, 2022

When it comes to politics in general and voting in particular, evangelicals have gotten very confused. In years past, conservative evangelicals emphasized what they called “single-issue voting” to counter abortion. Practically, this meant that abortion is so evil, so diabolical, such a slashing wound to a thriving society, that a candidate’s stance on abortion—this single issue—should determine whether one voted for them or not. In recent years, however, numerous self-professed evangelicals have argued strenuously and untiringly against “single-issue voting.” Their contention: evangelicals should not vote by just one ethical category but by what they call an “all of life” approach to politics.

This new rubric sounds good. What sane person would not want people to flourish in all of life? The framing of the new voting methodology has caught traction among some evangelicals, especially the younger crowd. At the same time, this framing has effectively backed many good-hearted evangelicals into a corner. Those who would continue to support “single-issue voting” now look stereotypically unthoughtful and uncritical. (Evangelicals often fear nothing more than the hot branding iron of a bad stereotype.)

In truth, what sounds so bright and beautiful—an “all of life” ethic—does not live up to its promise. Strangely, being an “all of life” voter has ended up meaning that a given person often votes left, quite straightforwardly. (“All of life,” in truth, dovetails nicely with the “neither left nor right” ideology—I’ve critiqued that here and here.) “All of life ethic” evangelicals have in many cases expressed support for pro-abortion candidates. They have stood against those who argue that America needs a coherent immigration policy beyond unbordered chaos and unlimited inflow.

Instead of speaking the truth in love to sinners who feel pulled to an “LGBTQ” identity, numerous “all of life” proponents have quieted their counter-cultural witness and failed to call sinners to repent. On governance issues and lockdowns, they have argued that love of neighbor—a glorious biblical imperative—means doing whatever authoritarian officials say we need to do, including closing churches down for the purpose of “public health.” (No such qualification is found in the Word of God, we note.) They have allowed the mainstreaming of wokeness and Marxism in classrooms across America, making invisible yet somehow omnipresent “white supremacy” our greatest problem.

Evangelical ethics and politics are a mess right now. As a result, countless evangelicals have no idea what to think about politics and elections anymore. In truth, they care greatly about their neighbor (per Matthew 22:34-39). They want good for them in all of life (as well they should). But they have been told, over and over again, that “single-issue voting” is a real evil. Similarly, they have heard that when you boil it down, conservatism basically reduces to the demand that women in desperate circumstances keep their babies. This is what being conservative gets you, we are told: opposition to abortion and nothing else. No further compassion; no further help. All justice, no mercy.

To a much greater degree than I can spell out here, this is all a pleasant fiction. In reality, evangelicals have been a tremendous historical source of philanthropy and common-good investment. We have our failings and flaws, definitely, in both the past and the present. But as a diverse group of born-again people who commonly love the Lord Jesus Christ and submit to his inerrant and sufficient Scripture, we have a strong track record of charity and neighbor-love. How many hospitals have we founded? How much education have we provided? How many trips do Christians take to serve needy people across the world? How much money do we give sacrificially to promote the gospel and the dignity of the human person? How much faithful witness have we offered in the public square?

Do not misunderstand: any good we have done owes to God, and God alone. Yet historically, it is simply untrue that evangelical public-square activity reduces neatly and exclusively to one action item alone. We have been concerned with a holistic ethic for decades, even centuries. (See this book, for example, and also this one.) What we could call “biblical conservatism”—a political ethic that derives squarely from special revelation—is not the problem; biblical conservatism is the solution.

Given this reality, I suggest a modest proposal: perhaps we should not use the phrase “single-issue voting.” I honor much of the work behind this phrase, please note. But going forward, to avoid an unfair and untrue trap, we might adopt a phrase like “pinnacle-issue ethics” to describe our approach. (I could have proposed “pyramid-issue voting,” but that might sound like I wish to sell you muscle-growth supplements.) With this framing, “pinnacle-issue ethics” and “pinnacle-issue voting,” we confess quite simply this: abortion is a curse, a living curse unto death, upon us. Yet it is not isolated from a serious body of principles and convictions. Instead, abortion represents what people commonly do when they comprehensively turn from the Lord. When you abandon God, you sacrifice your children.

Pinnacle-issue voting” is truly and rightly “all of life voting.” Christians who push back against the darkness in public, like John the Baptist before his beheading, bring an entire ethic to the public square (Matthew 14:1-12). This ethic does not owe to a Bible-free “natural law”; this ethic owes squarely to divine revelation. “Pinnacle-issue voting” leads Christians to see that those who support the culture of death almost certainly support the erosion of liberty and the common good in many other areas as well. Abortion is not an isolated issue, we thus understand; abortion is a tell. It reveals a tremendous amount about where a person or a party stands. It shows that a given political philosophy, for any number of reasons, has become deeply anti-human.

This little article is not about advocating for a certain candidate or group. It is in truth about putting biblical ethics into practice. This means, with great seriousness of purpose, that we must never abandon a focus on abortion. To put this more humanely still, we must never abandon the unborn. They cannot speak for themselves, after all. Only we can. Let us do just that. As “pinnacle-issue voters,” let us give our great God much glory as we stand for truth, speak in love, and act in courage. Let us do justice and love mercy, no matter what slogans and stereotypes come our way in response (Micah 6:8). May we not fear the hot brand of those who would malign us. Worldly opposition, after all, is nothing; God’s truth is everything.

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