FRC Blog

After 17 Years, Infants Born Alive Still Need Real Protection

by Patrina Mosley

August 5, 2019

Today (August 5th) marks the 17th anniversary of the passage of the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act of 2002, which declared that infants born alive after having survived an abortion attempt deserve all the rights and care that would be given to any other infant. After the bill easily passed Congress, most Americans no doubt assumed there would never again be a debate over whether infants born alive after a failed abortion attempt should be offered life-saving care. Yet here we are again.

Democratic politicians have gone from “safe, legal, and rare” in the 1990’s, to the “my body, my choice” mantra, to now basically, “if you like your baby, you can keep your baby.” Virginia Governor Ralph Northam seemingly endorsed infanticide, and Virginia Rep. Kathy Tran awkwardly tried to advance legislation that would allow for abortion up till the day of birth. If you call something evil (abortion) “good” for long enough, it will eventually be taken to its furthest extreme.

We are witnessing the Left’s reaction to what is arguably the most pro-life administration in modern history.

Protecting the unborn has been one of President Trump’s greatest successes. President Trump has nominated constitutional originalist judges to the U.S. Supreme Court and lower federal courts, overseen the creation of a new pro-life conscience protection division at HHS, put a stop to American tax dollars funding international abortions more than any other president (the expanded Mexico City Policy), eliminated grants for research involving fetal tissue, decoupled Title X Family Planning Funds from abortion facilities, and more.

All this has made the abortion cult angry—even to the point where they are willing to ignore pro-choice voters

For the first time ever, New York legalized on-demand abortions up to the day of birth, even repealing born-alive protections for infants who survive an abortion. But two-thirds (66 percent) of New York voters say they oppose a law allowing late-term abortion. Also, Rhode Island’s legislature expanded abortion protections by declaring it a fundamental right and blocked a bill that would provide full protections for infants born-alive if they survive an abortion attempt. Yet, 77 percent of Rhode Island voters oppose allowing abortions up until birth. Specifically, 63 percent of Democrat voters (an almost two-thirds majority) and 56 percent of voters who self-identify as pro-choice oppose late-term abortions.

According to an Americans United for Life/YouGov Survey, 77 percent of pro-choice Americans oppose removing medical care for a viable child.

Even pro-choice, Democratic voters are not so willing to say it’s okay to leave a child on the table and wait for them to die, while the doctor and mother discuss whether or not they want the child to live.

It has become clear that stronger protections are needed. Currently, there is no federal criminal statute against taking the lives of born-alive infants. This is why we need The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. It would require lifesaving medical care be given to babies born alive after failed abortion attempts and would add enforcement tools to prosecute doctors who deny life-saving medical care to infants who survive abortion. This act has been blocked more than 70 times by Congressional House Democrats. There has not been a single federal prosecution brought against an abortionist since this law was passed, even though the CDC admits that at least 143 infants died after surviving abortion.

Democratic governors have vetoed state versions of the bill in North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Montana.

But on the bright side, in states like North Carolina, Illinois, New Mexico, and Nevada, Democrats of color crossed over to vote with Republicans for born-alive protections. After all, the African-American community is the primary target of the abortion industry, and many of color in positions of power are acknowledging that.

It’s been a bewildering time in the abortion debate between what voters say they want and what Democratic legislators are pushing down their throats, but moreover, it is exceptionally disturbing for those who have actually survived abortion attempts to essentially be told that their lives don’t matter as legislators continue to block born-alive protections.  

Abortion survivors like Melissa Ohden, Josiah Presley, and Claire Culwell are living today simply because someone acted with compassion to save their lives. These are living, breathing people whose lives matter to their adoptive families, the spouses they’ve married, the children they’ve raised, and the friendships they’ve developed.

This is why we need to secure a vote on The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act by having members of Congress sign on to the discharge petition which would force a floor vote on the bill, regardless of Democratic leadership of the House. Perhaps by getting a vote on The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, we can start to rebuild the road back to human rights and human dignity.

In the meantime, please join FRC’s End Birth Day Abortion campaign to show your support for the life of all babies born alive by sending a baby hat to Congress. 

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Helping Those in Need Should Not Be Political

by Bailey Zimmitti

August 5, 2019

On Wednesday, July 24, two FRC interns joined a group of pro-life interns in the office of Representative Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) for a briefing on current pro-life topics on the Hill. Students in attendance represented various colleges, organizations, and party affiliations, but all shared a common belief in the inherent dignity of all human life.

Rep. Lipinski gave the interns a synopsis of his political career in great humility, highlighting his desire to serve his constituents above any political agenda. He admitted that he is one of the very few Democrats who votes consistently and unwaveringly pro-life despite the increasing pressure among his fellow Democrats to oppose the Hyde Amendment and to support abortion expansion bills. He emphasized the importance of standing true to what is right even in the face of strong opposition: “If it costs me being a member of Congress, that’s a small price to pay.”

I had the honor of posing a question I have asked myself many times as a student caught in the midst of a political warzone known as the modern college campus:

How can we depoliticize abortion and come together for the sake of human rights?

Building a Coalition

The pro-life population consists mostly of conservatives, but that does not mean that being pro-life is an exclusively conservative position. Rather, pro-lifers from various creeds and parties should come together for the sake of human dignity and learn how to steer discourse about abortion away from politics and towards the truth of human dignity.

Rep. Lipinski agreed that there are a number of reasons to be pro-life—believing that every human is a child created in the image of God, believing in conservatism and the preservation and protection of the family under natural law, believing in science and the undeniable reality that life begins at conception, and even being a Democrat and believing that the government’s duty to protect the most innocent and vulnerable begins with the most innocent and vulnerable—children in the womb.

He explained that we have to dispel the myth that pro-life means “anti-woman.” We have to show that pro-life is pro-woman, and that it is a position that excludes no creed or group of people.

He cited a great example of what this coming together looks like: as a part of their Bottles to the Border campaign, New Wave Feminists, a secular pro-life group founded by Destiny Hernan de la Rosa, teamed up with Abby Johnson’s And Then There Were None (ATTWN) coalition along with other pro-life groups. They asked supporters for donations on two Amazon wishlists and were overwhelmed by pro-lifers’ eagerness to give.

The first list was completed within 48 hours. By the grace of God, a member of the ATTWN shared the mission with their church and ended up sharing with the owner of a trucking company who generously donated an 18-wheeler to deliver the supplies. In order to fill the rest of the truck, they launched another wishlist, which was also speedily bought out.

The two groups had delivered $120,000 worth of supplies and over $70,000 in aid funding to various different respite centers on the southern border.

In response, many conservatives have asked Abby Johnson if her work on the border meant that she supported open border policies, to which she responded:

No, I don’t support lawlessness, I don’t support an open border, I support legal immigration, doing it the right way, but the bottom line is I don’t have the answer, I don’t know the answer, but I can deliver these wipes so that babies’ butts are clean and they’re not getting infections. And I know how to make sure that a baby can get fed, and that’s really what this is about. And that’s what it is to be the Church, to meet the needs that are right in front of us.

This Is Not Our True Country

It seems that one mistake many conservatives make is loyalty to the party over the kingdom. We belong to no one else more than we belong to our Creator. At the end of the day, no matter how much we love the United States of America—and trust me, I do—this is not our true country.

20th century writer Flannery O’Connor wrote in a famous essay entitled “The Fiction Writer and His Country” of this concept of “true country.” Her treatment of writers may well also be said of public figures as well as the average citizen invested in his country’s politics:

The writer’s value is lost, both to himself and to his country, as soon as he ceases to see that country as a part of himself, and to know oneself is, above all, to know what one lacks. It is to measure oneself against Truth, and not the other way around. The first product of self-knowledge is humility, and this is not a virtue conspicuous in any national character.

Social issues like abortion and serving at the border are not about politics—they are about human beings. Where there are people suffering, the church has a duty to serve in humility and loving kindness no matter what political no-man’s-land we must cross to do so. Democrats can fight abortion and Republicans can serve at the border, that we might all enter our true country and be greeted with these words:

‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ … ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25: 34-36, 40).

Bailey Zimmitti is an intern at Family Research Council.

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Virginia’s Governor Wants to Lock Teens in Transgenderism. Stop Him.

by Cathy Ruse

August 2, 2019

Disgraced Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has directed his Board of Counseling to punish any counselor who responds to a teen’s cry for help to accept her own physical biology. 

That’s called putting politics in front of people. 

You have heard of these bans. They’re sometimes called bans on “conversion therapy.” LGBT activists describe nightmarish scenarios of cruel methods used on “gay” people to make them “straight,” without any real evidence, to get what they really want: sweeping bans to outlaw not only cruel methods, but all therapy. Even talk therapy. 

They are speech bans, pure and simple.

Eighteen states have already thrown their teens under the bus. Democrats in Virginia have tried and failed to impose these speech bans through the legislative process. So Northam is doing it through the back door, through executive branch planned regulations.

They ban speech about unwanted same-sex attraction, but also about unwanted transgender feelings.

The regulations would ban talk therapy that “seeks to change” a young person’s “gender identity,” including “efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions.”

Gosh, that almost sounds like these regulations would stop Fairfax County public school “sexperts” from trying to convince little boys that they might really be girls. 

But read on. The regulations specify that the ban does not prohibit counseling “that provides assistance to a person undergoing gender transition” or that provides “acceptance” and “support” for a person’s “identity exploration.” 

You got that? It’s a one-way street. Under Northam’s ban, counselors are only allowed to use words that promote transgenderism—they cannot use words to help someone avoid it. 

As a philosophical matter, this is outrageous. Its legality is dubious.

But look at the real-world impact of this policy.

Say a girl suffers from gender dysphoria. Say at some point she “socially transitions” to living as a boy. Maybe she got the idea in her Fairfax County Sex Ed class. Now she wants help living as a girl. 

Governor Northam wants to make sure she can’t get it. 

Ah, but if she wants help living as a manthat she can find. 

It’s a one-way ratchet. It’s the Hotel Transgender. You can check in, but you can never leave.

If you live in Virginia, you can tell Governor Northam what you think of his proposed regulations. He is playing politics with real people’s lives. And partisan politics should not be used to ban biology-affirming counseling for patients who want it. 

August 7th is the deadline to offer comments on the initial stage of the planned regulations. 

Please go to the Virginia Town Hall website HERE, click on “Enter a comment,” and tell Northam’s Board why this counseling ban is a very bad idea!

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California Wants to Force Teachers to Propagate the LGBT Agenda

by Nicolas Reynolds

August 2, 2019

Parents across the country are rightfully concerned about efforts in the public school system to indoctrinate their children with a leftist agenda. In California, the LGBT lobby is taking this effort a step further: attempting to indoctrinate teachers.

Offered as an attempt to create a “safer environment” for LGBTQ students, A.B. 493 would require junior high and high school teachers to receive training on how to “support” students struggling with same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria. However, this “training” of teachers to “mentor” such students looks much more like state-sponsored, politically-correct coercion. This piece of legislation strong-arms public school teachers who are Christian to violate their consciences, affirming beliefs contrary to their sincerely-held religious beliefs.

To ensure all teachers leave their religious convictions at the door, specific “training”—adhering to curriculum written by “leading experts in supporting LGBTQ pupils”—is required to be taken by every junior high and high school teacher in public schools. Additionally, this training requires “sustained input and participation” from teachers, guaranteeing that teachers are understanding and complying with the LGBTQ agenda. The training required by this bill is a blatant violation of a teacher’s right to think freely and counsel adolescents according to their genuine and true religious worldview.

Two school districts in California (Moraga School District and Unified School District) have already implemented this “training” for teachers. Those having undergone the training have explained how the sessions did far more than merely inform teachers about how to counsel pupils who identify as LGBTQ. Rather, teachers were asked invasive questions regarding their own personal upbringing, such as whether or not they were raised to “believe there are two genders,” and if their “parents ever discuss[ed] choices… of gender.” Teachers that explained that their parents taught biblical (and scientifically correct) beliefs like the binary nature of sex were shamed and told their views were backward and wrong. Trainees were given additional information about how to deal with LGBTQ-identifying students and were explicitly told that they must keep a student’s sexual orientation and identity secret from parents. 

Though no school can or will ever replace the necessary nurturing that a family gives a child, teachers are sometimes the only ones that can come close to giving students the objective wisdom and care that they are tragically not receiving at home. A.B 493 would successfully ban all junior high and high school teachers in public schools from giving any ounce of honest guidance about sexual orientation and gender identity to students who come and ask them for direction. As mandated by the bill, teachers would be required to affirm LGBT identities and refer students to activist organizations.

 A.B. 493 undermines the ability of students to receive proper care and desecrates teachers’ rights to govern themselves according to their religious convictions. Partner with FRC and lend your voice in opposition to this destructive piece of legislation that deviates from the core principles this country was founded upon. If you or someone you know lives in California, click here to take action and oppose this bill that indoctrinates public school teachers.

Nicolas Reynolds is an intern at Family Research Council.

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Finding Hope in the Joshua Harris Story

by David Closson

July 31, 2019

Joshua Harris, former lead pastor of Covenant Life Church and author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, announced over the weekend via Instagram that he no longer considers himself a Christian.

The post came a week after Harris surprised followers by announcing he and his wife were separating after 21 years of marriage.

Harris’ book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, advocated abstinence and an alternative approach to dating. It was widely influential in the purity movement of the late 1990s and early 2000s and sold a million copies. Released in 1997, Harris’ book argued that casual dating often causes emotional harm and that Christian singles should not pursue a romantic relationship until they are ready for marriage. Instead, singles should embrace courtship, a dating alternative where couples cultivate friendship and parents are given permission to guide the relationship. Strict physical boundaries—no holding hands, no kissing, limited time alone—should govern the relationship to protect the couple from sexual temptation.

A generation of Christian conservatives embraced Harris’ ideas and his book became synonymous with the purity movement.

Propelled by the success of his books (Harris published two additional purity advocacy books in 2000 and 2003), Harris’ profile rose, and he was called as pastor of Covenant Life Church, then a leading church in the Sovereign Grace church network. Harris was installed as senior pastor at age 30.

Harris left Covenant Life in 2015 to pursue formal theological education. In recent years Harris made news when he formally apologized for his famous book and what he now believes was the perpetuation of “an unhealthy view of romance and sexuality.”

Harris’ shocking announcements about his divorce and decision to renounce Christianity have garnered national and international attention. While media reports have generally been sympathetic to Harris, for many Christians, especially those influenced by I Kissed Dating Goodbye, the news is extremely disheartening and provides an opportunity to reiterate some important truths.

Apostasy

How should Christians struggling with this news think about these developments? Specifically, how should the question of apostasy—which this story has raised—be approached?

The question is fair—on his Instagram page Harris wrote: “By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.” Elsewhere in his post he refers to his decision explicitly as “falling away.”

Harris’ rejection of Christ is clear and without equivocation. Tragically, he no longer believes the gospel he preached for two decades of public ministry. Thus, it would seem Hebrews 6:4-6 and its warning of apostasy applies to him:

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

However, Scripture is also clear that God preserves those he has called to salvation. In Philippians 1:6 Paul writes, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” In John 10:28, Jesus, referring to his true followers, promises, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” 

Thus, the Bible is clear that true believers cannot lose their salvation. Therefore, how does one reconcile Hebrews 6:4-6 with the rest of Scripture? As New Testament scholar Thomas Schreiner explains, the answer lies in the fact that the warning passage of Hebrews 6:4-6 is best interpreted as a means God uses to keep believers till the end. For those who belong to God, the warnings serve as stark reminders to stay faithful to Christ; they spur believers to persevere in the faith. In other words, no true believer truly and finally falls away from Christ; the warnings keep us within the family of God.

Thus, for someone like Joshua Harris, the Bible teaches that he never experienced conversion. All indications from Harris’ public statements are that 1 John 2:19 applies to him: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”

Christian Celebrity Culture is Dangerous 

Another aspect of this story involves the celebrity culture that has developed within Christianity (especially American evangelicalism). With the rise of mega-churches and large para-church organizations, pastors, in many situations, achieve what amounts to celebrity status. However, with a platform and increasing influence comes a responsibility that many are unprepared for.

The phenomenon of celebrity pastors has led to ministries built around a personality rather than the gospel of Christ. As Leah Klett recently warned, people who attend churches led by well-known pastors need to be very careful that they are committed first and foremost to Christ rather than an engaging, influential pastor.

Consequently, in a personality driven culture, when celebrity pastors have a moral or financial scandal, or worse, renounce their faith, their congregations and ministries are shaken, and followers are often sent into an existential crisis about the nature of their own faith.

However, this should not occur. While a congregation should rightfully be grieved when their leaders fail to live up to the high standards set forth in Scripture for Christian leaders (1 Tim 1:1-7, Titus 1:5-9), the truthfulness of the gospel should never be based on the character or credibility of a person. Again, if one’s commitment to Jesus is grounded in an engaging personality rather than God’s Word, it is likely that that person’s faith was built on sand rather than rock (Mat 7:24-27).

Thus, although Christians are right to grieve at the news of Joshua Harris’ desertion of the faith, these revelations should not cause Christians to doubt or question their own faith, if indeed their faith is genuine and rooted in God’s Word.

As Kevin Rodgers, the interim pastor at Harris’ former church said to his congregation in a letter shortly after the news broke, “Paul’s primary instruction for us when leaders swerve from faith is that we make it an opportunity for greater resolve in our own faith, not less. Seeing leaders who taught us the gospel veer from it should deepen our commitment to ‘guard the good deposit’ entrusted to us. And ‘pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness’ (1 Tim 6:11).”

The Lord Will Hold Us Fast

Joshua Harris’ divorce and rejection of Christianity sent shockwaves through many Christian circles, especially those who benefited from his ministry and appreciated his writings. His rejection of the faith is shocking; Christians are rightly alarmed that someone who preached God’s Word for years has renounced the gospel. However, I believe it is important to reiterate that there is still hope for Joshua Harris. There is still time to turn to Christ in faith and repentance—likely for the first time—and experience a true relationship rooted in the unmerited grace that comes through a relationship with Jesus. Paul himself adamantly rejected Christ prior to his conversion—even devoting his life to persecuting Jesus’ followers—before recognizing his terrible mistake and turning to Christ.

A final point worth noting is that Harris’ apology to the LGBTQ+ community suggests underlying discomfort with the Bible’s clear teaching on marriage and human sexuality. This points to a common trend with those who “de-transition” from Christianity: rejection of the faith is often coupled with a repudiation of biblical morality that is increasingly viewed as suspicious or subversive in today’s culture.

Christians should rightly grieve over Joshua Harris’ announcement that he has kissed his faith goodbye. It should steel us to persevere to the end and plead that the Lord will indeed hold us fast.

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Pakistan’s “Blasphemy” Laws are Killing Religious Minorities. 72 Other Countries Are Following Suit.

by Arielle Del Turco

July 31, 2019

Faraz Pervaiz, a Pakistani Christian refugee in Bangkok, is pleading for help from Western governments as he tries to flee from the multitude of death threats he is currently receiving. Pervaiz is the victim of a major threat to religious freedom around the globe—blasphemy laws. In 2013, Pervaiz began speaking out in defense of Christians after a mob attack on a Christian neighborhood in Pakistan. He led protests that demanded police intervention and he published works online that were critical of Islamic theology and its application in the government of Pakistan. That’s more than enough to be convicted of blasphemy in Pakistan, where it is a crime to “outrag[e]” or “wound[] the religious feelings of any person” by utterance, sound, or gesture.

Pervaiz’s outspokenness forced him to flee Pakistan in 2014 following a video he posted online in which he and his father criticized Islamic teachings and the Pakistani government. After he had fled the country, a Muslim cleric accused him of blasphemy and the government filed a criminal case against Pervaiz following outside pressure to do so.

A Global Problem

However, Pakistan’s government is not the only problem. Political parties and average people continue to rally around these blasphemy laws and have shown a willingness to punish those who violate them even if the accused are acquitted by the courts. Parvaiz knows this all too well. Islamic political parties have offered 10 million Pakistani rupees (around $82,000) to anyone who would kill Parvaiz. Mullahs have also led demonstrations where the crowds were encouraged to chant: “There is only one punishment for insulting the Prophet. Sever the head from the body! Sever the head from the body!” As a refugee in Bangkok, Pervaiz still hasn’t found safety. His address in Thailand was recently revealed in a video posted to social media, prompting a new round of death threats. Pervaiz is now pleading for help from Western governments—before it’s too late.

While a stunning 72 countries (37 percent of the world) have blasphemy laws, Pakistan stands at the forefront as an example of a country where blasphemy laws are regularly used to harm religious minorities. Earlier this month, news broke that two Pakistani teenagers were arrested for receiving “blasphemous sketches” to an app on their phone—a charge they denied. One illiterate Pakistani couple is facing the threat of death row after they were charged with “insulting the Quran” and “insulting the Prophet” via text message.

Opposition to blasphemy laws is an issue that is starting to gain traction among religious freedom advocates, and deservedly so. At the 2019 Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, 27 countries co-signed a joint statement of concern that calls on countries which have blasphemy, apostasy, or other laws that restrict freedoms of religious expression to repeal them.

A Need for International Attention

Recognizing the significance of this global issue, Rep. Jamie Raskin and Rep. Mark Meadows introduced a resolution last week in the U.S. House of Representative which calls for the “global repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostacy laws.”

The resolution cites U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) findings of “egregious examples of the enforcement of blasphemy laws and vigilante violence connected to blasphemy allegations in Pakistan, where blasphemy charges are common and numerous individuals are in prison, with a high percentage sentenced to death or to life in prison.” The legislation also notes USCIRF’s knowledge of 40 individuals who are serving life sentences or are on death row for their blasphemy charges in Pakistan.

With this resolution, the House would recognize that “blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws inappropriately position governments as arbiters of religious truth and empower officials to impose religious dogma on individuals or minorities through the power of the government or through violence sanctioned by the government.” This is a statement that deserves to be heartily endorsed by the U.S. House and a sentiment that needs to be heard by governments that insist on keeping these laws.

Government Weaponization of Religious Dogma Must End

This past year saw the acquittal and release of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian farmworker accused of insulting Islam. In what may have been the most well-known blasphemy case to the Western world, religious freedom advocates rejoiced at news of Bibi’s safe arrival in Canada when she was reunited with her family. While this was a tremendous victory, Bibi isn’t the only religious minority to suffer under Pakistani blasphemy laws—many continue to feel the burden of these laws.

The widespread use of blasphemy laws to suppress the expression of religious beliefs (or, the misuse of blasphemy laws to settle unrelated disputes) is alarming. The efforts put forth by the co-signatories of the ministerial’s statement of concern, as well as Rep. Raskin and Rep. Meadows, are critical. Pakistan (and other countries that maintain blasphemy laws) should feel the pressure of growing international attention on these repressive laws and the ways in which they are abused.

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New York is the Latest State to Trample on the Hopes of Foster Children

by Kayla Sargent

July 31, 2019

When I was about eight years old, some family friends of mine fostered (and eventually adopted) a severely neglected 18-month-old girl. She was placed in foster care after her parents, both addicted to drugs, would not change her diaper or feed her, sometimes for days on end. When she first entered the custody of her new foster parents, she gorged herself at mealtime until she became sick because for her entire life, she never knew when or from where her next meal would come.

Most children in the foster care system have suffered unimaginable trauma. The 500,000 children in foster care are significantly more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and other developmental and behavioral issues compared to children who do not spend time in the system.

One might think that, at the very least, ensuring that children have a roof over their heads and three meals a day would not be a political issue. One would think that everyone would want these children to have the best care possible. And one would think that faith-based adoption agencies, given the emphasis that the Bible places on caring for widows and orphans, ought to be able to help provide for these children without fear of religious persecution.

Unfortunately, this is not the case.

New Hope Family Services of New York is suing the state after being given an ultimatum by the state’s Office of Child and Family Services stating that they would have to start “placing children with unmarried couples and same-sex couples” or they would be “choosing to close.” It is not because they are not providing adequate care to children, or because they are unable to place children in homes, but because they refuse to allow same-sex couples or couples who are unmarried to adopt.

They are not alone. Across the nation, Christian organizations that believe children belong with a mother and a father are being forced to close their doors because of alleged “discrimination.” In 2018, the state of Illinois forced Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Springfield to close, displacing roughly 3,000 children. Earlier that same year, the city of Philadelphia “barred Bethany Christian Services and Catholic Social Services” from serving children in need because of their beliefs about marriage.

What is especially tragic about these shutdowns is that they not only affect the employees of these agencies—they impact hundreds, if not thousands, of children in desperate need of a loving home.

In Obergefell v. Hodges, we were promised that, “The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.” These shutdowns are a clear violation of this principle handed down by the Supreme Court, and are currently being challenged.

Regardless of your stance on marriage, and even your stance on discrimination, children should not be the ones that are punished in the ongoing war being waged on religious liberty by LGBT activists. When “equality” demands that certain adoption providers be shut down and children are denied adequate care and a loving home with a mother and a father as a result, it is no longer equality, but oppression. Just as little girls should not have to gorge themselves for fear of not having enough to eat in the future, faith-based adoption providers should not have to violate their religious beliefs in order to continue helping children in need find loving homes.

Kayla Sargent is an intern at Family Research Council.

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Engaging a Culture in Crisis: Christians Gather to Discuss Strategies

by Cathy Ruse

July 30, 2019

Two hundred Catholics gathered for a two-day conference last weekend high in the hills above La Crosse, Wisconsin. Organized by Cardinal Raymond Burke, former Chief Justice of the Vatican Supreme Court. Cardinal Burke is one of the most important bishops in the Catholic Church and is seen by millions of Catholics as the torchbearer of Christian orthodoxy in what can be a very confusing time. The conference took place at a remarkable hilltop complex dedicated to Mary that includes a shrine to unborn children lost to abortion and miscarriage.

The conference heard from noted experts on the cultural and religious crisis of our time. Robert Royal, author of many books, editor in chief of The Catholic Thing, president of the Faith & Reason Institute, and talking head on Eternal Word Television Network, told the crowd about the mass Christian conversion of Aztec Indians in the 16th century and how our own time calls for a similar conversion.

My husband, Austin Ruse, president of the Center for Family and Human Rights, exhorted the audience to consider that there is no finer time to be a faithful Christian than right now, not in spite of the massive problems around us but precisely because of them. He said the apostles were not exactly the “A Team,” and maybe neither are we. But God knows what He is about, and He sent the likes of us, right here, right now, to defend His creation.

I discussed the competing visions of the Christian Gospel and the “Transgender Gospel.”

The “gospel” of Transgender is hypocritical, mendacious, and deceptive. It wraps itself in the mantel of science, even while it scorns all science that does not further its political goals. Biology is bigotry, according to the transgender ideology.

It speaks of “safe environments,” then forces open the private spaces of women and girls to biological males, including predators.

It calls for “non-discrimination,” then discriminates against women and girls by robbing them of sports victories, scholarships, and careers—and exposing them to physical danger on the playing field.

It calls itself “progressive,” but acts like a retrogressive tyrant, especially when it comes to the freedom of speech.

And worst of all, it preaches “acceptance,” then tells kids to reject their own bodies, even to the point of mutilation.

Our duty, as Christians, is to tell the truth about the human person, no matter what. We must tell all who will listen that to deny our human nature is to reject our human dignity. It is ultimately to reject God.

It is the Tempter’s promise of freedom, but it leads only to degradation and enslavement.

One small but important way to tell the Truth is to use truthful language. We should always use the word “sex” when referring to the biological reality of the physical nature of male and female.

Don’t say “gender” when we mean sex. Stella Morabito has it absolutely right: “Gender is a poisoned and weaponized word that has been used to legally de-sex and thus dehumanize us all.” 

As Christians, we are uniquely qualified to make the case for the truth about the human person. Because we are not confused. We know there are not 58 genders, but two sexes. 

Only a post-Christian culture could be so vulnerable to this kind of deception. As G.K. Chesterton wrote: “The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything.”

Ours is a different creed. We believe in a loving Father who created us in His own image: male and female. We believe that every person is born in exactly the right body.

What a joy to be called to bring this life-affirming, life-saving message to our culture, right now.

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Administration Must Avoid Obama Cultural Imperialism

by Peter Sprigg

July 29, 2019

The Obama administration was guilty of what some have called “cultural imperialism.” This included various efforts to force small, poor—and often socially conservative—countries to accept and codify the values of the West’s sexual revolution. Examples include pressure placed on the Dominican Republic to liberalize abortion laws (in violation of their own constitution), and the withholding of foreign aid from the desperately poor African country of Malawi in an effort to force liberalization of their laws on homosexual conduct.

Family Research Council spoke out against such policies at the time. Fortunately, the Trump administration has backed off from some of the worst of this cultural imperialism, such as that practiced at the United Nations. However, we are concerned that the administration’s “global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality”—endorsed in a tweet from the White House Twitter account on July 26—may represent a remnant of that same mentality.

There are some legitimate concerns about the treatment of people who self-identify as homosexual in some other countries. As we wrote when news of the “global campaign” was first reported in February:

Family Research Council vigorously opposes acts of violence against anyone because of their sexuality. According to NBC, there are eight countries which permit the death penalty for homosexuality—most of them also known as abusers of religious freedom and other rights, and supporters of terrorism. An end to those laws, and other physical punishments such as flogging, is a legitimate goal.

(In the past, there have been false reports that FRC supported a bill in Uganda that would have allowed the death penalty for certain homosexual acts. This has never been the case.) There may also be countries where governments turn a blind eye to extra-judicial violence against those who identify as homosexual. This, too, is unacceptable.

We endorsed the statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at his confirmation hearing, when he said, ““I deeply believe LGBTQ persons have every right that every other person has.”

However, the fact that LGBTQ-identified persons have every human right does not mean that engaging in homosexual conduct is itself a human right. As we stated in 2011, “No treaty or widely accepted international agreement has established homosexual conduct as a human right.” For example, homosexual conduct has known health risks, so foreign governments should be left free to take steps to discourage or deter such conduct.

Furthermore, any effort to force an “LGBT rights” agenda on other countries risks running afoul of other principles which actually have been well-established as international rights—namely, the rights of individual conscience and of religious liberty. Within the constraints imposed by well-established international law, all countries must be free to establish governments and legal codes based on their own moral values. These are often deeply rooted in religious tradition. What we have called “cultural imperialism” (which Pope Francis has called “ideological colonization”) must not be allowed to trump that sovereign right of each country.

As we wrote in February:

Let’s find common ground in calling for an end to all forms of physical violence against homosexuals — but refrain from imposing the values of the sexual revolution on the rest of the world.

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Melissa Ohden and the “Right to Choose”

by Lauren Kaylor

July 29, 2019

When Melissa Ohden was in her mother’s womb, an attempt was made to abort her. The amniotic sac was injected with saline solution to poison her and to chemically burn her skin from the inside out. Instead of burning her to death in 48 hours or less as the saline abortion was intended to do, Melissa fought for her life while her tiny body soaked in the solution for five days. As it turned out, she was several weeks older than the doctor had estimated. Labor was induced and Melissa was born alive prematurely at 31 weeks.

Melissa is now a beautiful 41-year-old woman and is a wife and mother of two children. She has a master’s degree in Social Work, authored the book You Carried Me: A Daughter’s Memoir, and founded The Abortion Survivors Network. She is one of the most passionate, motherly, and confident women I have ever met.

I recently read You Carried Me and I implore everyone to do the same. Melissa is one of hundreds of documented abortion survivors. Her testimony to having survived an attempted abortion at her maximum level of helplessness is heart-wrenching yet beautiful; her understandable feelings of anger and confusion were transformed into reconciliation, forgiveness, and love. She holds no anger in her heart towards her transgressors. Ohden uses her unique existence to fiercely fight for the children who, like her, are unwanted by at least one person with the power to take their lives away from them. Most babies who undergo abortion do not make it out alive like she did.

Only a couple of days after reading You Carried Me, I met Melissa Ohden. She was one of two pro-life witnesses testifying at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on June 4, 2019 called “Threats to Reproductive Rights in America.” In response to many states’ recent bills restricting abortion, six pro-choice witnesses advocated for the so-called woman’s “right to choose” abortion. Melissa was one of the two women testifying for the unborn child’s right to life.

Observing this hearing and listening to Melissa’s visceral testimony, I was inundated with the hard reality that a woman’s so called “right to choose” is irreconcilable with the universal human right to life. This is the agonizing irony of the lack of pro-choice logic: anyone alive today who advocates for the “pro-choice” side was not aborted. Pro-choicers were given their right to life, but they advocate for a woman’s right to take away the life that they were all given. Ronald Reagan once said, “I’ve noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born.”

In the 2018 “Abortion Worldwide Report,” Thomas W. Jacobson wrote, “The first inalienable human right is the right to life, which includes the right of self-defense and the duty to protect innocent human life.” The duty to protect the innocent must always be undivided from the sanctity of life and our right to it. If the right to life of certain members of society is not protected, no one else’s right to life is secure. This is bolstered by the laws of logic; we must remain consistent in our thinking. Jacobson continues, “As clearly evident in the natural law and in Scripture, murdering another human being regardless of the motive or rationale, can never be a ‘human right.’”

If we do not intensely protect everyone’s right to life, there is no sense in exercising or fighting for literally any other right. No other right has meaning if we aren’t all first given the right to life. Melissa Ohden’s right to free speech is null and void if she had been aborted, like the pro-choice agenda would have it. As individuals and as a society, our allegiance must first go to protecting the right to life. This necessitates that we do not believe in a woman’s “right” to an abortion.

The question we must ask of those who identify as “pro-choice” is, “What exactly is being chosen?” To argue for a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion is to argue for a woman’s right to take away an innocent, defenseless life. If Melissa’s mother really had the “right to choose,” then Melissa did not have the right to live and should not be here today. Melissa happened to survive because the attempt to kill her failed. The right to life cannot begin after a person is deemed “wanted.” The “right to choose” is irreconcilable with not only Melissa Ohden’s existence, but all our existence. It is a tragic irony that human beings who evaded the terrible fate of abortion are advocating for that very fate to be forced onto another innocent person.

Interestingly, one of the pro-choice panelists at the “Threats to Reproductive Rights” hearing choked up and could not answer the question when asked, “Didn’t Melissa have the right to live?” Perhaps it was because the panelist realized the truth: that Melissa does have the right to live, and that right began in the womb.

Lauren Kaylor is an intern for Life, Culture, and Women’s Advocacy at Family Research Council.

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