Category archives: Religion & Culture

The Limits of Human Happiness: The Danger of Trying To Find Our Identity in Our Feelings

by Dan Hart

January 24, 2022

In a recent interview, pop superstar Adele told Oprah that the reason she divorced her husband and created a broken home for her then six-year-old son was because “she realized she was ‘ignoring’ her own happiness.” Similarly, Honor Jones, a senior editor at The Atlantic, wrote recently that, even though she “loved [her] husband,” who she had three young children with, she was breaking her family up because she “felt that [her husband] was standing between [her] and the world.”

This 50-year-old-and-counting trend of “no-fault” divorce, in which a husband or a wife chooses to split from their spouse because of a feeling rather than a concrete transgression like abuse or adultery, is part of a larger phenomenon that has been happening in Western society for decades now: the ascendence of feelings and emotions as the definitive barometer of who a person is.

Arguably, we are seeing this trend more explicitly in our current American moment than we ever have before with the advent of transgenderism—the idea that one can change their “gender” because of being unhappy with one’s biological sex. Just as with no-fault divorce, the choice to become transgender has proven to have very real negative consequences that not only affect the health of the individual choosing to identify as transgender (through harmful hormone therapy and surgeries that do not resolve the person’s unhappiness) but also society (through classroom indoctrination, bathroom privacy violations, and the assault on women’s sports, among other harms).

In our “live your own truth” society, consuming pornography, participating in premarital sex, and committing adultery are acts that cannot be judged by others if they feel right to the individual in the moment, despite the trail of brokenness and victimization left in their wake. Furthermore, we are seeing highly-charged feelings about America being a “racist” and “white supremacist” country driving a nationwide movement to establish intensely divisive “Critical Race Theory” policies in schools and places of work, despite clear, commonsense evidence that “systemic” racism does not exist in America.

The right to act on strongly-held feelings—no matter how it may affect others—has become an idol in our culture, and the damage that this causes is plain to see. While feelings and emotions are an important part of being human, they do not ultimately define us, and we must carefully discern whether or not to act on them. If we want to flourish as a society, it is critical that we have a grounded, biblical perspective on our emotions, which continually shift from day to day like the changing winds.

The Pursuit of Happiness

In this country, we can trace the privileging of feelings back to our founding. Ever since Thomas Jefferson’s famous statement in the Declaration of Independence that among our “inalienable rights” bestowed on us by our Creator is “the pursuit of happiness,” the concept of “happiness” has held a prominent place in the American heart.

But what is happiness? At best, what we associate with or describe as happiness is often a fleeting feeling of contentment or pleasure. According to Thomas Aquinas, this “imperfect happiness” is the only form of happiness that can be obtained on earth. For most of us, even when we are doing something we thoroughly enjoy for an extended period of time, a genuine, all-encompassing feeling of happiness is usually short-lived. If one were to continually strive for one’s own version of happiness at every turn, it’s easy to see the disaster that would unfold—someone acting on every whim and urge regardless of the consequence or the effect on others.

Yet, there is no denying that happiness in its essence is a good thing and is wonderful to experience. Even so, what’s interesting about happiness is that we tend to experience it when we don’t necessarily expect to. It could be when we are simply on a walk, and the beauty of nature strikes us in a way that we weren’t anticipating. Or it could be in a more predictable context, like when we are engaging in an activity that we find pleasure in such as reading a good book or playing guitar. What’s fascinating, though, is that even when we do something in order to be happy, there is no guarantee that we will feel happy. This speaks to the ephemeral nature of happiness—it is a gift that is given to us from above. When we grasp for it, it is often just out of our reach. Perhaps this is what Jefferson meant when he wrote of the “pursuit” of happiness—we seek it because of how good it makes us feel, but we don’t always find it.

When we look at Scripture, we find that happiness or its synonym joy is almost always connected with seeking God and the virtues. For example, Psalm 146:5 proclaims: “Happy is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God.” Proverbs 3:13 declares: “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gets understanding.” In Psalm 92:4, the psalmist writes, “You, O Lord, have made me happy by your work. I will sing for joy because of what you have done.” In another passage, King David actually commands happiness, writing, “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” (Psalm 32:11). 

These verses tell us something about what should be of ultimate importance to our earthly life and Who we should ultimately seek.

The Limited Offerings of the World

A natural question to ask here is, why? Why should we seek after a God we cannot see? A large part of the answer lies in the nature of the world. At the end of the day, as Bishop Robert Barron has so eloquently written and spoken about, “nothing in this world finally satisfies the deepest longings of our heart.” When we think of our most cherished and memorable experiences and feelings in our lives—the most delicious meal, the most mind-bendingly electrifying movie, the most beautiful mountain view, the most exhilarating athletic achievement, the most stimulating conversation—what do they all have in common? They all inevitably end, fading into the mists of the past, and we are plunged headlong into the next moment or the next day, which usually isn’t nearly as memorable. Even our loved ones will eventually die, ending our most cherished relationships. So what can we learn from this universal (and somber) certainty?

One thing we can learn is a fundamental truth about being human: We all have a deep desire for lasting happiness which points to something beyond anything this world can offer. Built into every human heart is an insatiable hunger for ultimate love, ultimate goodness, ultimate beauty, ultimate truth. As wonderful as our best moments on earth are, they only leave us wanting more. But why? Why would God create us this way? C.S. Lewis, in his great work The Problem of Pain, gives a perceptive, poetic answer to this confounding question:

The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world; but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.

Knowing that ultimate fulfillment can never come on earth, our hunger for it nevertheless drives us to continually seek it. In this pursuit of happiness, it is often our deeply felt emotions and feelings that drive our actions. But as we have seen, unless these feelings are directed toward good things that ultimately come from God, we will not only be chronically unhappy, but we will also end up falling into wrongdoing, hurting ourselves and those around us.

The Fulfillment of All Desire

Our Heavenly Father knows our needs and the deepest longings of our hearts (see Matthew 6:25-33), but He also gives us the freedom to choose to follow those longings in the way we choose to do so. This is why we must remain anchored in God’s Word and follow His laws laid out for us in Scripture, so that our emotions and our deepest longings will naturally fall in line with the things of God—those things that are by nature true, good, and beautiful.

This is the wonderful reality about the unique gifts and talents that we are all blessed with: everyone can express their ultimate longing for God in their own way by pursuing truth, goodness, and beauty through music, athletics, writing, building houses, repairing cars, homemaking, or any of the multitude of good things that fills the earth. God delights in giving His children good gifts. As Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). At the same time, our natures tell us that ultimate fulfillment won’t come from these finite gifts, for as Christ said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

When we live our lives without God, however, the results are plain to see. We end up straining and grasping for fulfillment moment by moment, without a fixture of truth to guide our hearts. We attempt to “live our truth” by following whatever earthly thing we think will make us happy, eternally confounded by its finiteness.

May we instead live in the promise of the “food that endures to eternal life” (John 6:27), forever consoled and strengthened by the hope and truth of the One who has set all people free (John 8:32), who will eternally fulfill every desire in our true home—the world to come.

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of January 16)

by Family Research Council

January 21, 2022

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

1. Update: Virginia Finds Hope in the Gov Compartment

Of all the things in short supply right now, optimism may be the hardest to find. After 12 disappointing months of an administration whose domestic and foreign policy failures are rivaled only by the number of illegals crossing the border, Americans everywhere are desperate for some sign of hope, some indication that the country they love isn’t completely lost.

2. Update: Hollow the Leader: Biden’s Empty Year Takes Its Toll

If you thought your week was bad, Joe Biden’s was worse. In a matter of hours, Biden witnessed the end of the private employer vaccine mandate at the Supreme Court—followed, that same afternoon, by a death blow to two of the Left’s signature priorities: the crusade to end the Senate filibuster and his raging attempt to takeover U.S. elections.

3. Blog: Is Diversity a Biblical Goal?

While racial tensions reached a fever pitch in the aftermath of George Floyd’s tragic death, the issue is not new. Two thousand years ago, Paul addressed the issue of race in his letter to the Galatian church when he said, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).

4. Blog: Religious Freedom Day: The Biden Administration Is Failing To Uphold Our First Freedom

Since 1993, the United States has formally observed Religious Freedom Day on January 16. President Joe Biden released a proclamation acknowledging the day. Although the president’s comments on religious freedom were mostly encouraging, it is difficult to appreciate his rhetoric when many of his actions throughout the first year of his presidency have undermined the freedoms he claims to support.

5. Washington Watch: Michael Waltz, Ken Blackwell, Greg Phares, Meg Kilgannon

Tony Perkins was joined by Michael Waltz, U.S. Representative for Florida, who discussed the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. Ken Blackwell, FRC’s Senior Fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance and former Ohio Secretary of State, shared how President Biden is misusing Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy to push a federal government takeover of elections. Greg Phares, former Baton Rouge police chief, shared, in light of the terrorist hostage situation at a Texas synagogue, how security training saves lives. And, Meg Kilgannon, FRC’s Senior Fellow for Education Studies, commended newly inaugurated Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin for his first executive actions on education.

6. Washington Watch: Bob Good, Mike Rounds, Caroline Downey, David Closson, Nury Turkel

Tony Perkins was joined by Bob Good, U.S. Representative for Virginia, who gave an overview of President Biden’s education policies in his first year in office. Mike Rounds, U.S. Senator from South Dakota, discussed the Democrats pushing an elections takeover bill and gutting the filibuster. Caroline Downey, News Writer for National Review, talked about emails showing that Dr. Fauci and NIH Director Collins dismissed prominent scientists who endorsed the lab-leak theory on the origins of COVID. David Closson, FRC’s Director of the Center for Biblical Worldview, reflected on President Biden’s first year in office. And, Nury Turkel, Commissioner for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and Chairman of the Board for the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), discussed the Golden State Warriors co-owner saying that “nobody cares” about China’s persecution of Uyghurs.

7. ProLifeCon Digital Action Summit

As we look forward to the overturn of Roe v. Wade, pro-life legislators, organizations, and activists share resources and hope for digital activism in the #prolife movement.

Counseling Bans in Canada and West Lafayette Threaten the Free Speech of Pastors and Counselors

by David Closson

January 21, 2022

In today’s sensationalized news environment, most of the stories we read or hear about rarely deserve our immediate and undivided attention. However, two recent developments related to so-called “conversion therapy bans” merit attention from Christian pastors, counselors, and parents. These bans threaten the rights and responsibilities of those tasked with teaching, discipling, and caring for the people in our churches, ministries, and families.

The first story comes from West Lafayette, Indiana, where the city council recently proposed an ordinance prohibiting the practice of so-called “conversion therapy” by unlicensed counselors. While these counseling bans are not new, the scope and reach of the proposed ordinance go beyond almost anything we’ve seen previously. By intentionally targeting unlicensed professionals, the ordinance would subject pastors and counselors to hefty fines for having conversations with church members and counselees about what the Bible teaches about unwanted same-sex attraction and/or gender dysphoria.

The proposed West Lafayette ordinance is likely unconstitutional. As written, the ordinance explicitly infringes on the speech rights of pastors, parents, and counselors. However, before taking a closer look at the shocking details of the proposed ordinance, it is important to understand the history behind the push to ban such counseling.

Counseling bans have become an important goal of the LGBT lobby. As public opinion on LGBT issues has shifted, there has been a concerted effort to enact bans on counseling pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity. By and large, these bans mandate that counselors use a “gender-affirming” model of care with their clients, meaning that licensed health care professionals and counselors are prohibited from discussing unwanted same-sex attraction and/or gender dysphoria with their clients (even if the patient and/or parents choose such counseling).

Although the media and the LGBT lobby use the term “conversion therapy” (which evokes images of discredited practices such as electroshock or other pain-inducing methods), counseling bans intentionally use broad language that includes talk therapy. In other words, counseling bans prevent counselors and mental health care professionals from counseling in a way consistent with their sincerely-held religious beliefs and deny patients the right to choose such counseling. Currently, 20 states and the District of Columbia have counseling bans in place.

For Christian pastors and counselors, the proposed ordinance’s inclusion of unlicensed counselors is very significant. Although the city “strongly discourages” those with professional licensure through Indiana’s Professional Licensing Agency from “engaging in conversion therapy with a minor person,” it currently stops short of prohibiting the practice because the city lacks the authority to do so.

The proposed ordinance defines conversion therapy as “any practices or treatments that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender.” Because there are no ecclesial or ministerial exceptions, any guidance, advice, or encouragement from a pastor or Christian counselor about addressing unwanted same-sex attraction is prohibited. Violators of the ordinance would be fined $1,000 for every violation.

If passed, the ordinance would immediately affect a West Lafayette counseling ministry operated by Faith Church. Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries provides 60-80 hours of counseling each week and follows a counseling model known as biblical counseling, which offers support and guidance by applying biblical principles to people’s needs.

The second recent development in this area comes from Canada, where parliament recently passed a new law that bans so-called “conversion therapy.” Passed without debate or discussion, the bill, known as “C-4,” went into effect on January 7. C-4 amends the criminal code to criminalize conversion therapy, which is broadly defined as a “practice, treatment or service” designed to:

  • change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual,”
  • change a person’s identity to heterosexual,”
  • change a person’s gender expression so that it conforms to the sex assigned to the person at birth,”
  • repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behavior,”
  • repress a person’s non-cisgender gender identity,”
  • repress or reduce a person’s gender expression that does not conform to the sex assigned at birth.”

Moreover, the legislation describes as a “myth” the belief that “heterosexuality, cisgender gender identity, and gender expression that conforms to the sex assigned to a person at birth are to be preferred over other sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.”

Although it is unclear how C-4 will be enforced—and there is hope that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which explicitly protects the “freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression” (as well as the freedom of conscience and religion) will protect the speech of pastors, counselors, and parents—the fact remains that Canadian law now equates orthodox Christian beliefs about human sexuality with harmful “myths” and “stereotypes.”

Describing the biblically-based views of millions of Canadians as “myths” is discriminatory and intolerant, but that’s not even the worst thing about C-4. Under the guise of preventing “conversion therapy,” legislators in Canada have enshrined contested gender ideology into law. The broad manner in which this new counseling ban defines “conversion therapy” opens the question of whether Christian pastors and ministers will be in violation whenever they preach and teach about Christian sexual ethics. Moreover, it would appear that talk therapy—the practice of simply having conversations—related to sexual orientation and gender identity would transgress C-4. If so, Christian counselors and even parents could face criminal penalties for talking to children about the Bible’s teaching on sexuality.

Pastors in Canada and the United States are speaking out about C-4. In Canada, the Canadian Religious Freedom Summit encouraged pastors to read a statement to their congregations on January 9 expressing their concern about the new law and their intention to continue preaching the “whole counsel of God.” In the United States, John MacArthur, the pastor of Grace Community Church, encouraged pastors to preach on biblical sexual morality on January 16. According to The Daily Wire, at least 4,000 pastors in the United States responded to MacArthur’s call by preaching on texts such as 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Romans 1:26-27, and 1 Timothy 1:10.

Incredibly, but not surprisingly, YouTube removed a clip from MacArthur’s sermon that Grace Community Church had posted to the site. In the clip titled “Transgenderism is a War on God,” MacArthur stated, “God made man male and female. That is determined genetically, that is physiology. That is science. That is reality. This notion that you are something other than your biology is a cultural construct intended as an assault on God. The only way you can address it, honestly, is to say, ‘God made you and God made you exactly the way He wanted you to be. You are not only fighting God in His physical creation, you are fighting God in His sovereignty. You are fighting God in His spiritual relationship to you.’ This is a war on God.”

For the offending statements, YouTube censored MacArthur, claiming that the comments on transgenderism violated their “hate speech policy.” This is just the latest example of Big Tech suppressing Christian views on sexuality.

Although it remains to be seen how C-4 will be enforced, the passage of this bill is not promising for pastors, counselors, and other ministry leaders in Canada. They need support, encouragement, and prayer as they face an uncertain legal terrain. And those of us in the United States must remain vigilant to ensure that lawmakers in the United States understand that tens of millions of Americans do not want their freedom of speech or religion infringed in a similar fashion. Counseling bans are wrong and have to go.

Like Canada’s new law, the West Lafayette counseling ban discriminates against orthodox Christian beliefs pertaining to sexuality. Although courts could find the ordinance unconstitutional, the discussion and debate surrounding it reveal the growing hostility toward those who hold orthodox Christian beliefs. The utopia of the cultural revolutionaries is a world where the teaching of Christian sexual ethics is outlawed, counselors are restricted to providing so-called “affirmative” practices only, and parents are prohibited from raising and discipling their children in line with biblical principles. Coming at a time when a Finnish member of parliament is being criminally prosecuted for her biblical speech on sexuality (her trial begins next week), these developments paint a foreboding picture.

Christian pastors, counselors, parents, and policymakers need to recognize our cultural moment and push back against this growing threat of counseling bans. If we don’t, the next generation will have less freedom to teach and live out God’s Word.

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of January 9)

by Family Research Council

January 14, 2022

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

1. Update: Swimmers Pool Their Resources to Fight Trans Onslaught

For parents in the stands at a recent Ivy League swim meet, there was only one way to describe it: “messed up.” In the head-to-head match-up of two “transitioning” athletes (one male-to-female, another female-to-male), most of the sports world is still rattled. Moms and dads who were there to witness it say they still can’t shake the image of one swimmer’s scars from a recent mastectomy.

2. Update: Dems’ Comparison to Pearl Harbor Bombs

The best person to host a “democracy summit” probably isn’t someone who wants to undermine elections, use the courts to subvert the rule of law, and thinks the best kind of government ignores individual freedoms. But then, Joe Biden probably isn’t the best person to lead a democracy either.

3. Blog: Don’t Let Biden Off the Hook for the Disaster He Left in Afghanistan

The media has largely moved on from the Afghanistan debacle, and many are all too eager to sweep the consequences of President Biden’s botched withdrawal under the rug. Yet, the repercussions will last lifetimes. Currently, hundreds of Afghan parents and family members are seeking help for their starving children.

4. Blog: China’s Tragic War on Uyghur Women

Recently, an independent tribunal in the United Kingdom released a judgment that found the Chinese government’s treatment of Uyghur people to be consistent with the legal definition of genocide. Multiple governments have made the same pronouncement, including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, and Belgium.

5. Washington Watch: Roy Blunt, Ken Paxton, Kevin Miller, Hayden Ludwig

Tony Perkins was joined by Roy Blunt, U.S. Senator from Missouri, to discuss the upcoming vote in the U.S. Senate to change the filibuster and pave the way for the elections takeover bill. Ken Paxton, Texas Attorney General, discussed President Biden’s Atlanta speech pushing the Democrats’ elections takeover bill. Kevin Miller, Administrative Pastor of Foothills Church in El Cajon, California, gave an update after California state government officials shut down his church’s preschool over COVID protocols. And, Hayden Ludwig of Capital Research Center shared his research showing how left-wing ‘dark money’ groups are funding Senator Schumer’s secretive anti-filibuster campaign.

6. Washington Watch: Jeff Landry, Simon Calvert, Connor Semelsberger, David Closson

Joseph Backholm was joined by Jeff Landry, Louisiana Attorney General, to analyze the Supreme Court oral arguments regarding two of President Biden’s vaccine mandates. Simon Calvert, Deputy Director for Public Affairs at the Christian Institute, discussed a European Court of Human Rights ruling in favor of a Christian bakery that declined to create a same-sex wedding cake. FRC’s Connor Semelsberger detailed how American opposition to the Build Government Bigger Bill has dampened support among Democrats in competitive races. And, David Closson, FRC’s Director of the Center for Biblical Worldview, explained why Christians must form a biblical worldview and what the Bible says is the role of government regarding vaccine mandates.

7. Washington Watch: Katherine Johnson, Joni Ernst, Todd Rokita, Mike Braun, J. Christian Adams

Tony Perkins was joined by FRC’s Katherine Johnson to discuss the U.S. Supreme Court blocking Biden’s OSHA vaccine mandate for businesses but allowing the vaccine mandate for health care workers to go into effect. Joni Ernst, U.S. Senator from Iowa, talked about Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer moving forward with votes on an elections takeover bill and radically altering the filibuster. Todd Rokita, Indiana Attorney General, gave an update on his lawsuits against the Biden vaccine mandates and discussed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Biden’s vaccine mandates. Mike Braun, U.S. Senator from Indiana, commented on the Senate HELP Committee voting to advance Robert Califf’s nomination to head the Food and Drug Administration. And, J. Christian Adams, President and General Counsel of Public Interest Legal Foundation, responded to Senator Schumer’s claim that the GOP is passing voter suppression laws at the state level.

Is Diversity a Biblical Goal?

by Joseph Backholm

January 14, 2022

While racial tensions reached a fever pitch in the aftermath of George Floyd’s tragic death, the issue is not new. Two thousand years ago, Paul addressed the issue of race in his letter to the Galatian church when he said, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).

Appropriately, the church has taken a leading role in the effort to bring unity and racial reconciliation where it is needed. In some cases, this has led some church congregations and denominations to place a special emphasis on cultivating racial diversity in their midst.

For example, the Acts 29 church planting network, started by Mark Driscoll and now led by Matt Chandler, has a Diversity Initiative. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary has a Kingdom Diversity Initiative. Hillsong Church says they are “committed to providing strategic direction to enable us as a global church to make progress in racial diversity and equity.” Various Christian colleges have published their “Christ-centered rationale for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.”

All this emphasis on diversity begs the question: should church congregations be making a concerted effort to be racially diverse?

There are many things Christians are commanded to do, including loving one another (Rom. 13, John 13), honoring one another (Rom. 12:10), accepting one another (Rom. 15:7), being at peace with each other (Mark 9:50), serving one another (Gal. 5:13), carrying each other’s burdens (Gal. 6:2), and forgiving one another (Eph. 4:32). There are no exceptions for people who don’t look like you, talk like you, or think like you.

But nowhere does Scripture command us to have racially diverse congregations.

Of course, this does not mean racial diversity is wrong. It can often be helpful. But it is not specifically a moral good because nowhere does God say that diversity is a virtue in and of itself.

It is beyond dispute that the Kingdom of God is racially diverse. Not only are the world’s 2.3 billion Christians spread all over the planet, but John’s vision of heaven in Revelation gives a glimpse of what the diversity of heaven looks like: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’” (Rev. 7:8-9). Heaven is diverse.

This vision of different people praising the same God is beautiful and even aspirational, but it does not mean that racial diversity is inherently virtuous. We know this because if that same group of people pictured in John’s vision were chanting “Hail, Satan!” it would be no consolation that they are a diverse assembly. What we intuitively understand—but must say—is that racial diversity can be a sign of something good but is not something good in and of itself. Racial diversity could be a sign of discipleship, but is not a form of discipleship.

In one sense, this is simply practical. It would be silliness, for example, to tell a group of Christians in remote places like the jungle of the Congo or the mountains of India that they need more racial diversity. In some places, racial diversity isn’t realistic. But this point is not merely practical. If we emphasize the secondary over the primary, we end up with the wrong goals.

The primary goal for Christians is to love God and others. We rightly see racism as a violation of God’s commandment to love our neighbor (Mark 12:31) and may see racial diversity as evidence that racism is not present. This is logical, but there is a risk. The emphasis on racial diversity as the antidote to racism may create a situation where we see racial diversity not as evidence of love but as a form of love. As a result, diversity has become an end unto itself.

The problem with confusing diversity for the sake of diversity with real, biblical love is that it puts the cart before the horse. In a world where diversity is a form of love, communities that are “diverse” are inherently better than those that are not. In a world where diversity is a form of love, we inevitably value people differently based on their ability or inability to contribute to our diversity. Christians can’t subscribe to this mindset. In addition, while efforts to be diverse are nearly always well-intentioned, the temptation to appear diverse can easily become self-centered. Only God knows when we’ve crossed the line from trying to love people well to trying to look good, but the line exists.

Consider an analogy from Acts 5. Ananias and Sapphira were a couple in the early church who made a public display of generosity. However, they intentionally misrepresented their gift, and God put them to death for it (Acts 5:1-11). Generosity is a good goal; wanting to look generous in the eyes of our fellow man is not. In the same way, it can be good to be diverse but not if we are merely wanting to look diverse. If God is more concerned with the condition of our hearts than the complexion of our skin—and He is—we should be, too.

What every Christian can do, in all times and all places, is love people the way Jesus does. In communities where people look different, the love of Jesus will transcend racial barriers and bring people together. In communities where people look the same, the love of Jesus will transcend other boundaries, including class, politics, age, or sex.

None of this means that concerns about racism are invalid or that the church should not be part of the solution. Our call to seek justice, provide hospitality, and care for the marginalized will create a community that some might call diverse. In addition, when people share pain and frustration about the brokenness of the world, we should be slow to speak and quick to hear. But racial diversity that honors Jesus will never be achieved by making it our primary objective. It will, however, inevitably develop as Christians follow the example of Jesus. Seeking Jesus will lead to racial diversity; seeking racial diversity will not lead to Jesus. Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount seem to apply here: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).

No doubt, the emphasis on diversity is well-meaning, but it comes with real risks. If we pursue diversity with more passion than we pursue love, we are very likely going to miss both.

5 Ways to Give the Gift of Yourself This Season

by Dan Hart

December 29, 2021

As much as we believers may try to avoid it, it’s hard not to get caught up in the present-buying frenzy that our culture is dominated by during the Christmas season. Spending enormous amounts of money on gifts every December has indeed become a kind of secular American tradition bordering on a religion.

While the giving of material gifts around Christmas time is a wonderful and storied Christian tradition that goes back to the time of Saint Nicholas in the fourth century, the pressure and stress of trying to buy the perfect present for a laundry list of family and friends can often feel overwhelming and can easily overshadow the reason for the season: the coming of Our Savior to earth as a baby.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. There is a different—and perhaps better—way of gift giving that doesn’t necessarily involve spending money on material things. Here are five ideas on how we can give the gift of ourselves to others this season.

1. Reach Out

Even before the pandemic hit, more than three in five Americans reported being lonely. The pandemic further compounded the problem, with the rates of reported loneliness and suicidal thoughts rising dramatically not only in the U.S. but globally.

It’s clear that there are many Americans, particularly in urban areas, that do not have strong networks of friends and family nearby them that they can get support from. This is where we as believers can be the hands and feet of Christ—by reaching out not only to those in our own social circles but also to anyone we may encounter in our daily lives. Here are a few ideas about how to connect with people.

  • Write: Go through your contacts and send a text message or an email to someone you haven’t connected with in a long time asking them how they’re doing. You might even consider writing an old-fashioned letter if it strikes your fancy or you think your friend might be pleasantly surprised by one. You never know how a simple “Hello, how are you?” can affect someone, possibly giving them a mental boost at just the right time or rekindling a friendship.
  • Strike Up Conversations: When you are out and about, don’t be afraid to be friendly. Initiating conversations with strangers in everyday situations is a great way to establish an atmosphere of friendliness in public. Whether it be asking the grocery store cashier how their day is going or asking how old a fellow patron’s kids are in the coffee shop, you never know where a good-natured conversation can lead—possibly even to friendship and faith.
  • Take Regular Walks Around Your Neighborhood: Post-pandemic life has brought with it numerous changes, particularly making more American’s lives increasingly home-centric, so much so that one could conceivably go weeks without ever having to leave one’s house thanks to internet delivery services and the ability to work from home. This is why it is all the more important to get out of the house as often as possible, not only for fresh air and exercise but also to build community with those around us. By taking regular walks around our neighborhoods and making an effort to meet and become friendly with our neighbors, we can learn a lot, including where elderly shut-ins, those with disabilities, and families with small children live so that we can get to know them and offer our time or a helping hand when opportunities come our way.

2. Go Through Your Closets and Give Stuff Away

As one of the most prosperous nations on earth, Americans tend to accumulate stuff. Many of us have attics and closets full of things that we hardly ever use or wear. Instead of having garage sales or spending hours listing things on eBay to sell, consider giving your stuff away instead. Local Goodwill and secondhand stores are a good place to start, but it might be even better to consider giving them to a church clothing or Christmas gift drive so that those who are most in need can be the first to receive them. Just make sure the things you are giving away are not broken or overly used. Put yourself in the place of someone receiving your things—would you be happy to get them?

3. Make a Meal or Start a Meal Train for Those in Need

Providing a warm, home-cooked meal is one of the best ways to extend a helping and comforting hand to someone in need. With COVID and its variations still lurking, chances are we know someone in our social circles who is sick and may be in need of a meal (or more), especially if they are parents of small children whose needs don’t magically stop if their parents are sick. Others who often need meals are mothers who have just given birth and their families. One of the best ways to provide ongoing meals for those with extended illnesses or who have just had a baby is to set up a meal train for them—this allows their friends and acquaintances to all pitch in and sign up to provide meals for different days. MealTrain.com is a very useful and easy way to set up a meal train.

4. Consider Serving in Prison Ministry

Christ commands us in Matthew 25 to visit those in prison. There are over two million people in prison in the U.S., and the rates of loneliness and depression among prisoners are extremely high. Many churches have their own prison ministry programs that serve local prisons. You can also volunteer your time with the biblical worldview-centered organization Prison Fellowship, as well as financially support them. Because of the COVID pandemic, many prisons have severely tightened regulations for visitors, making it more difficult for family and friends to visit prisoners. If this is the case with prisons in your area, consider writing letters to prisoners who don’t have family and friends to support them.

5. Pray

Times are difficult in America right now in many ways, but one of the most painful difficulties for many of us is how divided our extended families are. Polls show that differing views about politics and vaccines are causing familial rifts like never before, not to mention the growing number of family members who are at odds over religious views. When tensions are high with our loved ones, Christmas and New Years can be an especially hard time because we often aren’t in a very giving mood.

That’s where prayer comes in. Prayer is powerful. Jesus Himself assures us that “whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will” (Mark 11:24). The Scriptures are brimming with verses on the power that prayer has to change things. When we caste all of our problems on the Lord in prayer, not only does He hear them, but our own minds are put at ease. The best gift we can possibly give to anyone is love, and prayer is absolutely integral to loving well. Whether it be a family member who has fallen away from Christ or someone who is sick and is in need of healing, prayer may just be the best gift you could ever give them.

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

by Family Research Council

December 17, 2021

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

1. Update: Here Comes San Jose Right down Tyranny Lane

All they did was meet for worship in obedience to the Word of God. Then the government started fining them. Now, officials have shown up with a warrant and are interrogating their employees. The Supreme Court has twice ruled in favor of Calvary Chapel San Jose, yet the government is still harassing them.

2. Update: Biden on State Voting Protections: Dash Away, All!

The best person to host a “democracy summit” probably isn’t someone who wants to undermine elections, use the courts to subvert the rule of law, and thinks the best kind of government ignores individual freedoms. But then, Joe Biden probably isn’t the best person to lead a democracy either.

3. Blog: Fact Check: 5 False Claims Corrected in the Dobbs Oral Arguments

On December 1, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Julie Rickelman argued that the Court should strike down Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act—the bipartisan legislation banning abortion after 15 weeks. Although Rickelman’s arguments occasionally aligned with the truth, the majority of what she said does not pass a fact check.

4. Blog: The Public Is Being Primed To Feel Groovy About Psychedelic Drugs

Right now, there is a concerted effort to change the American public’s attitude towards psychedelic drugs. Turn on Netflix, Hulu, or other streaming services, and you’re likely to find shows and documentaries on the usefulness of these drugs. This is the first public sign that we are being primed to accept the recreational and “prescription” use of psychedelics to solve both our mental and spiritual ills.

5. Washington Watch: James Comer, Luther Harrison, Paul Schmitt, Meg Kilgannon

Joseph Backholm was joined by James Comer, U.S. Representative for Kentucky, who shared about the devastation from the recent tornadoes and relief efforts across Kentucky. Luther Harrison, with Samaritan’s Purse, discussed their relief efforts in the states devastated by tornadoes. Paul Schmitt, of Alliance Defending Freedom, celebrated a victory for a church school after Maryland officials revoked the school’s eligibility to participate in a voucher program based on the school’s beliefs on marriage and sexuality. And, FRC’s Meg Kilgannon warned of school districts across the U.S. screening teaching applicants about their political beliefs and commends parents for successfully persuading an Arizona school district to cancel a “Transgender Awareness Week.”

6. Washington Watch: Ron Estes, Ronnie Stinson, Mike McClure, Andrew Bostom

Joseph Backholm was joined by Ron Estes, U.S. Representative for Kansas, to discuss the Congressional Budget Office’s numbers showing the true cost of the Build Back Better bill. Ronnie Stinson, with Trace Creek Baptist Church in Kentucky, talked about how the church is responding to the worst tornado destruction in the state’s history. Mike McClure, Senior Pastor of Calvary Christian Fellowship in California, shared about the California government serving a warrant and demanding information on COVID compliance. And, Dr. Andrew Bostom, Associate Professor at Brown University, questioned why COVID policies are drifting further and further away from what clinical data shows about the virus.

7. Washington Watch: Dan Bishop, Sarah Perry, Virgil Walker, Arielle Del Turco, Gordon Chang

Joseph Backholm was joined by Dan Bishop, U.S. Representative for North Carolina, to discuss the House holding Mark Meadows in criminal contempt. Sarah Perry, with Heritage Foundation, warned of LGBT indoctrination promoting “Two Spirit” sexuality and child mutation happening to four-year-olds in L.A. schools. Virgil Walker, of G3 Ministries and co-host of the Just Thinking Podcast, called out a Denver elementary school for planning a racially segregated playground night in the name of “equity.” FRC’s Arielle Del Turco talked about the House passing legislation banning imports from China’s Xinjiang region. And, Gordon Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China, discussed the video summit between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.

Year in Review: 10 Stories From 2021

by David Closson

December 17, 2021

2021 has been a year full of important cultural, political, and legal developments. In a year that witnessed the inauguration of a new president, the conclusion of America’s longest war, and the ongoing fight against COVID-19, there was much to track, analyze, and discuss. Although Democratic majorities in Congress required conservative policymakers to play defense at the federal level, there were still notable (and significant) legislative victories throughout the states.

2021 was an active year for Family Research Council, and there are several new initiatives, events, and legislative victories that merit gratitude and reflection as we prepare to ring in the new year. What follows are 10 stories from 2021 that provide a summary of God’s faithfulness and kindness to us and lay the groundwork for an exciting 2022.

1. Oral Arguments Heard in Case that Could Overturn Roe

On December 1, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that has the potential to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion on demand in America through all nine months of pregnancy. 

In Dobbs, the Supreme Court is considering the constitutionality of Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, bipartisan legislation that prohibits elective abortion after 15 weeks gestation. The Gestational Age Act offers a direct challenge to the jurisprudence of Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the U.S. Supreme Court decisions that made legal abortion through nine months the default law of every state. Under Casey, states may prohibit abortion post-viability and restrict abortion prior to viability so long as the restriction does not place an “undue burden” on the woman. In Dobbs, the court will consider whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortion are unconstitutional. The court’s decision, which is expected in summer 2022, could return the ability to legislate abortion back to the states and will have major implications for the future of the unborn in America.

In the weeks leading up to the oral arguments, FRC provided leadership to the pro-life community in a variety of ways. First, FRC filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court urging the justices to overturn Roe and its companion case, Casey. Second, FRC teamed up with other national pro-life groups, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Alliance Defending Freedom, to host a “Pray for Dobbs” national webinar for pastors. Over 4,000 pastors joined the October broadcast and learned about the case. Then in November, the “Pray for Dobbs” coalition hosted a national prayer event. Over 18,000 people joined national leaders on the broadcast to pray for the upcoming case. Third, on November 28, FRC hosted a prayer rally titled “Pray Together for Life” in Mississippi. Among the national leaders who participated was Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves. Finally, FRC also published resources and articles about the case, and on the day of oral arguments, FRC’s Katherine Johnson spoke at a rally outside the Supreme Court.

To learn more about the case and for a list of recommended ways to pray, see my article in The Gospel Coalition.  

2. Vaccine Mandates Struck Down

On September 9, President Joe Biden issued an executive order that all employers with more than 100 employees must require their workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or submit to weekly testing. Noncompliant businesses could be fined. Biden’s private employer mandate came on the heels of a federal mandate requiring all federal employees to receive the vaccine, get tested weekly, or face dismissal from their job.

After the announcement, several organizations and schools (including The Daily Wire, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Asbury Theological Seminary) sued, alleging the Biden administration lacked constitutional and statutory authority to issue such a mandate to private employers. Both schools also argued that the administration lacked jurisdiction to dictate employment practices to religious institutions. On Friday, November 12, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued an order staying enforcement and implementation of the executive order. On November 16, 2021, the Judicial Panel of Multidistrict Litigation consolidated all petitions for review of the Emergency Temporary Standard (including the Fifth Circuit ruling) before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Moreover, on November 29, a U.S. district court in Missouri issued a preliminary injunction for health care workers in 10 states. On November 30, the U.S. District Court of Western Louisiana issued a nationwide injunction prohibiting the enforcement of Biden’s national vaccine mandate for health care workers. Additionally, on December 7, a U.S. district judge in South Georgia temporarily blocked President Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors and subcontractors.

President Biden’s vaccine mandate has proven to be divisive. Thus far, courts around the country have halted the implementation of the mandate. As we move into 2022, Christians will need to think carefully and biblically about vaccine mandates, as it seems they will continue to be part of the national conversation.

Concerning whether Christians should use religious exemptions, see my article “How Should Christians Use Religious Exemptions for Vaccine Mandates?

3. Off-Year Election Results

While 2021 is not a major election year for most states, a few states and cities still held important elections. The most significant of these was the Virginia gubernatorial election, in which Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin faced off against the Democrat Terry McAuliffe. Even though Joe Biden had won Virginia by 10 points the previous year, Youngkin surprised political pundits by defeating McAuliffe and becoming the first Republican to win a statewide race in over a decade. Furthermore, Republican nominees for lieutenant governor and attorney general both won, and Republicans retook the majority in the House of Delegates. Many election observers cited parents’ outrage over public school officials’ cover-up of a biological male student’s rape of female students in Loudon County school bathrooms. Abortion and the teaching of Critical Race Theory in schools were also motivating factors for many voters.

Elsewhere around the country, conservatives demonstrated that the political climate has soured against Democrats and their progressive agenda. For example, the Republican nominee for governor in New Jersey nearly pulled off a shocking upset against incumbent Democrat Governor Phil Murphy. In perhaps the most stunning race, New Jersey Senate president Stephen Sweeney (D) was upset by a Republican truck driver who only spent a few thousand dollars on his campaign.  

Additionally, ballot measures to defund the police department were defeated in Minneapolis, and the mayor of Buffalo waged a successful write-in campaign against a progressive candidate endorsed by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). FRC Action (FRC’s legislative affiliative) endorsed their first candidate for school board, David Anderson, in Washington state. Anderson won the election. Only a year after the 2020 election, voters are clearly concerned about the country’s direction, and these results are encouraging for conservatives headed into next year’s midterm elections. 

4. FRC Launches Center for Biblical Worldview

In May, FRC launched the Center for Biblical Worldview (CBW) with the goal of equipping Christians to advance and defend their faith in their families, communities, and the public square. We also added researcher George Barna and Professor Owen Strachan to the CBW team.

The need for the CBW was underscored by an FRC-commissioned survey that revealed that only six percent of Americans have a biblical worldview, despite 51 percent thinking they do. Furthermore, only 21 percent of those who attend evangelical churches have a biblical worldview. Biblical illiteracy is a significant problem in America, one the CBW hopes to help counteract.

The CBW hit the ground running, publishing numerous resources in its first year, including newly re-branded Biblical Worldview Series booklets covering important topics such as religious liberty, the sanctity of life, human sexuality, and political engagement. These booklets are now available in English and Spanish. The CBW also produced dozens of articles, interviews, and other resources to help pastors, churches, and Christian laypeople think through the year’s most contentious and confusing political and moral questions.

In 2022, the CBW is planning to publish a Sunday school curriculum, a video series, and a web-based resource for parents and students to evaluate the faithfulness of every Christian college and university in America. To stay informed about all of the exciting projects we expect to release next year, you can sign up for the CBW’s monthly email here.

5. Texas Heartbeat Act Saves Thousands of Babies

The Texas Heartbeat Act, which took effect on September 1, has saved an estimated 150 babies from abortion per day. This will result in upwards of 18,000 babies saved by the end of the year. The Texas law bans abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, typically at about six weeks gestation. Texas’ 230 pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) have been meeting the needs of mothers that otherwise might have undergone abortions prior to the Heartbeat Act.  

Unsurprisingly, Texas abortion businesses sued the state over the Heartbeat Act. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and in December issued an opinion permitting lawsuits to proceed against licensing officials but no one else that the abortion lobby had named as defendants. SCOTUS also made the rare move of dismissing the Biden administration’s suit saying they never should have accepted it in the first place. Overall, the opinion was a win for pro-lifers. Although the law is currently facing challenges from the outraged abortion lobby, it is still in effect today. 

While holding her three-month-old son, FRC’s Mary Szoch spoke outside the Supreme Court as arguments about the Texas law were heard. FRC’s Katherine Johnson also published an explainer about the law, combatting lies spread by the abortion lobby (and unfortunately parroted by many in the media). Christians must continue to pray for a favorable outcome for Texas as the Heartbeat Act continues to face litigation in 2022.  

6. Win in Congress: NDAA Passes Without Conscripting Women

Every year, Congress passes the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), legislation that is required to fund the military. Legislators have managed to pass the NDAA for 60 years. However, it is not always an easy or smooth process. This year, Democrats dug in on adding a proposal to mandate that women register for the draft.

Over the past few months, as the bill moved through Congress, FRC argued that women should continue serving honorably in the military on a voluntary basis only. Including women in any future drafts would subject them to being mandated into combat roles, which is unnecessary and dangerous. It has been proven that women in combat situations have a higher likelihood of injury than their male peers and thus affect the lethality, readiness, and cohesion of certain combat units.

FRC facilitated more than 200,000 messages to Congress opposing this dangerous mandate. Pro-family leaders in the House and Senate such as Sens. Hawley (R-Neb.), Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Lee (R-Utah) and Reps. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) and Chip Roy (R-Texas) led the charge. In an about-face that Politico described as a “stunning turnaround,” this mandate on women and other anti-life and anti-religious liberty provisions were dropped from the bill.  

7. Hyde Amendment Preserved

The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. However, since 1976, Congress has worked to ensure that federal funding does not go toward abortion. In 1976, Congressman Henry Hyde introduced an amendment to the Health and Human Services (HHS) appropriations bill, prohibiting federal Medicaid funds from paying for abortions. This amendment to the annual spending bill, known as the Hyde Amendment, has been approved every year since 1976 and has saved an estimated 2,409,311 lives.

However, because of the nature of federal spending, this measure must be passed annually in order to remain in effect. In recent years, Democrat lawmakers have openly lobbied to remove the Hyde Amendment. In fact, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an HHS spending bill without Hyde for the first time since 1976. Moreover, the Senate introduced a spending bill without Hyde protections. Thankfully, despite fierce attacks from pro-abortion lawmakers, Hyde was preserved in the spending bills passed in 2021.

There are several ways in which FRC was involved in preserving Hyde. For example, FRC worked to secure 199 signatures from House members calling for the preservation of Hyde. Additionally, FRC worked to educate members of Congress about Hyde and worked with them whenever the issue was brought up in committee or came up for a vote. When the spending bill came through committee in July, FRC staff helped committee members with speeches and media interviews. Every Republican on the appropriations committee gave a speech defending Hyde and opposing taxpayer funding of abortion. While it is normally difficult for outside groups to muster five to seven members to speak out in committee on a given issue, FRC helped get 25 members to speak in favor of Hyde. Even though it remains under attack, the Hyde Amendment received more vocal support from Republican lawmakers in 2021 than in any year in recent memory.

8. Pray Vote Stand Summit

The inaugural Pray Vote Stand Summit was held October 6-8 at Cornerstone Chapel in Leesburg, Virginia. The thousands of social conservatives who attended in-person and the tens of thousands who attended online heard from nationally-recognized religious and political leaders on the most pressing issues facing the nation, including religious freedom, abortion, national security, and education.

Speakers included Mike Pompeo, Glenn Youngkin, Michele Bachmann, Sam Brownback, Carter Conlon, Os Guinness, Sen. Josh Hawley, Sen. James Lankford, Jack Hibbs, Nancy Pearcey, Allie Beth Stuckey, Chad Wolf, and many others.

In addition to plenary addresses from speakers, attendees benefited from hearing panel sessions on topics such as abortion, worldview, Christian persecution, vaccine mandates, and keeping children safe from radical gender ideology. Coinciding with the Summit, FRC also hosted a training for those interested in running for their local school board. 

FRC’s communications team credentialed 47 members of the media from 26 outlets to cover the Pray Vote Stand Summit, including Fox News, CBN News, and One America News. Additionally, 34 media outlets published 45 articles about or referencing the conference including Fox News, Breitbart, The Blaze, CBN News, The Daily Wire, The Christian Post, and The Epoch Times.

9. International Religious Freedom Summit

On July 13-15, FRC participated in the 2021 International Religious Freedom (IRF) Summit. Unlike the Trump-era Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, this year’s IRF gathering was organized by private organizations, not the U.S. government. Hosted by 81 convening partners (including FRC), the summit highlighted the issue of international religious freedom, an area of increasing concern. In fact, almost 80 percent of the world’s population live in countries with high levels of religious persecution, much of it perpetrated by government actors.

At the summit, participants heard reports by FRC’s Andrew Brunson and Bob Fu. FRC president Tony Perkins hosted a panel discussion and a sponsored lunch where he interviewed Grace Gao, who shared about her father, a human rights lawyer, who has been targeted by the Chinese government and whose exact whereabouts have been unknown for four years. FRC’s Lela Gilbert moderated a side event on religious freedom in Nigeria, which included two survivors of persecution.

For more information about FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty, specifically its work on international religious liberty, see FRC.org/irf.

10. SAFE Act Passes in Arkansas

On April 6, the Arkansas legislature enacted House Bill 1570, the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act. This made Arkansas the first state in the nation to ban the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and gender reassignment surgeries on individuals under 18 for the purpose of “gender transition.” Of the many similar bills introduced across the nation, Arkansas’ law is the most comprehensive ban addressing this issue. It initially passed the Arkansas House 70-22 and the Senate 28-7. When Governor Asa Hutchison vetoed the bill, the House voted 72-25 and the Senate voted 25-8, providing the first veto override in Hutchinson’s tenure as governor. FRC awarded Rep. Robin Lundstrum the Samuel Adams Award for State Legislator of the Year in recognition of her leading role in getting the bill passed.

For more information about FRC’s work with state legislatures around the country and some of the pieces of legislation we support, see FRC.org/legislation.

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

by Family Research Council

December 10, 2021

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

1. Update: Senate Strikes Funding Deal in the Saint Nick of Time

No one is turning off the government’s lights any time soon, thanks to a deal struck in the Senate recently. With a shutdown deadline breathing down Democrats’ necks, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) decided that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea for his party to preside over another disaster and finally caved to the conservatives’ demand: a vote on the vaccine mandate.

2. Update: Republicans in Top Form on Draft Day

In a Congress run by Democrats, it’s not every day that conservatives can celebrate a common-sense victory. So, when word leaked that there’d been a dramatic change to the military spending bill, most Republicans were waiting for the other shoe to drop. The rumors turned out to be true: language forcing women in the military draft has been completely eliminated.

3. Blog: The Trend Toward Normalizing Pedophilia Must Be Halted

Americans are awakening to the call to protect children from being sexualized. Following the national news coverage of local school board meetings, U.S. citizens are shocked to learn that taxpayer dollars have been used to make sexually explicit materials available in school libraries and attendance to pornographic sex-ed lessons mandatory.

4. Blog: Listen to the Young, Female Voices of the Pro-Life Movement

On the day of the oral arguments in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, thousands of advocates flocked to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court to vocalize their convictions about abortion. The pro-life side featured a diverse crowd, but one of the most numerous demographics in attendance at the pro-life rally was one for which the pro-abortion side claims to speak—college-aged women.

5. Washington Watch: Jerry Boykin, Lela Gilbert, Chip Roy, Chuck Grassley

Tony Perkins was joined by Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, FRC’s Executive Vice President and former commander of the U.S. Army’s Delta Force, who discussed President Biden’s call with Vladimir Putin. Lela Gilbert, FRC’s Senior Fellow for International Religious Freedom, talked about the letter signed by religious freedom advocates calling for the Biden administration to put Nigeria back on the list of Countries of Particular Concern. Chip Roy, U.S. Representative for Texas, gave an update on what’s happening in Congress after the NDAA provision forcing women to register for the military draft was removed. And, Chuck Grassley, U.S. Senator from Iowa, discussed the status of Biden’s vaccine mandates.

6. Washington Watch: Michael Waltz, Jeff Barrows, J. Marie Griffin-Taylor, Meg Kilgannon

Tony Perkins was joined by Michael Waltz, U.S. Representative for Florida, who discussed the Biden administration announcing a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Dr. Jeff Barrows, with Christian Medical & Dental Associations, detailed what is known about and the proper response to the Omicron variant. J. Marie Griffin-Taylor, of Truett McConnell University, talked about the crime wave sweeping California and the policies that led to the lawlessness. And, Meg Kilgannon, FRC’s Senior Fellow for Education Studies, shared about the push back by state chapters against the National School Board Association (NSBA) for accusing parents of “domestic terrorism.”

7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: The Hope of the World

On this episode of Pray Vote Stand, Tony Perkins reflected on the hope that believers have through Christ and how we can be confident that all things work together for good.

The Public Is Being Primed To Feel Groovy About Psychedelic Drugs

by Jennifer Bauwens

December 9, 2021

Right now, there is a concerted effort to change the American public’s attitude towards psychedelic drugs. Turn on Netflix, Hulu, or other streaming services, and you’re likely to find shows and documentaries on the usefulness of drugs like LSD (acid), DMT (spirit molecule), MDMA (ecstasy or mollies), and psilocybin (magic mushrooms). These shows are the first public signs that we are being primed to accept the recreational and “prescription” use of psychedelics to solve both our mental and spiritual ills.

Since the Nixon years, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has marked psychedelics as schedule 1 substances because they lack clinical value, can be addictive, and hold the potential for long-term physiological and psychological damage, including schizophrenia-type symptoms.

Given this classification, how does one change public opinion about a class of drugs associated with images tucked firmly in the American consciousness of spun-out flower children whirling around the grass at Woodstock or loitering aimlessly on the streets of Haight-Ashbury?

According to Edward Bernays, the father of public relations and nephew to Sigmund Freud, in order to “manipulate the public to think a certain way, it needs to be taught how to ask for what it [the manipulator] wants.” Robert Worchester, a political analyst, described public opinion by making a distinction between attitudes, opinions, and values. He noted that a person’s values are the most impervious to change; however, through continued exposure, thought, and discussion, these too can be shaped.

When it comes to influencing our view about psychedelics, what could possibly compete with the images of dancing hippies? What about a growing body of scientific literature that claims the use of these drugs can help resistant anxiety, posttraumatic stress, depression, alcohol, and tobacco abuse?

For the past 30 years, research studies involving psychedelics were not backed by public funds—until recently. Studies have been popping up in clinicaltrials.gov. There have even been several reports, with small sample sizes, touted as “success stories” for reducing mental health symptoms by microdosing these drugs.

Mental health is certainly a concern for Americans. This week, a Gallup poll found that Americans rated their mental health at an all-time low, with only 34 percent giving themselves an excellent score. Aside from this poll, we know that our society is facing significant mental health challenges, with nearly 20 percent of the population suffering from anxiety disorders and suicide ranked as one of the top 10 causes of death in the United States.

The media is not the only group riding high on our mental health problems. Groups like Mind-Medicine, a pharmaceutical start-up, are seeking FDA (national) approval for psychedelics, under the expectation that the drugs will provide an alternative treatment to the aforementioned mental health conditions. Veterans and first responders have already been enlisted in these studies.

The co-founder of Mind Medicine stated their goal is to “get the average person to realize that these are not evil drugs—they can be used as medicines and be successful at treating unmet medical needs.”

Aside from the attempt to lend credibility to these drugs through science, there has already been a push to legalize psilocybin (magic mushrooms). Some states and cities have already moved to legalize these substances for recreational use. These places include Denver, Colorado; Oakland and Santa Cruz, California; Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County, Michigan; Somerville, Cambridge, and Northampton, Massachusetts; Washington, D.C.; and Oregon. Seattle is the largest city to decriminalize all psychedelic plants and fungi for religious, spiritual, healing, or personal growth practices.

California is currently proposing its own measures to legalize psilocybin mushrooms, truffles, sclerotia, and mycelium. Iowa is following suit, but with an additional bill that would reclassify psilocybin, ibogaine, and MDMA for medicinal purposes.

The real goal here is to nationalize the use of these drugs, which have the potential to significantly alter our society and offer bad treatment for those suffering from trauma, anxiety, and depression. The strategy we are seeing to promote psychedelics has been taken right out of the playbook of Big Marijuana. Rather than fight the arduous battle of changing the schedule 1 designation at the federal level, there’s a major push to make these drugs respectable. Research studies and popular media will continue to promote medical benefits associated with these drugs, but the endgame is for psychedelics to be legalized at every local and state level for recreational use.

Fighting major pharmaceutical and research industries may seem like an uphill battle. However, there are important steps that we can take to slow this fast-moving train:

  • First, it is critical that the research community engages in truthful scientific research and is aware of the increasing push to medicalize these drugs.

  • Second, there needs to be greater accountability regarding the influence and financial benefits enjoyed by the Big Pharma industry in pushing these drugs. Organizations like Smart Approaches to Marijuana have been pushing back on the financial and political influence of Big Marijuana. We need more groups to give oversight to the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Finally, the church has an important role to play in offering true healing and answers to people who might otherwise try to find comfort in marijuana or psychedelic drugs.
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