Category archives: Religion & Culture

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of August 2)

by Family Research Council

August 7, 2020

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

1. Washington Update: ”Amazon Calls Them Like They SPLC Them”

We can’t continue to have four of the biggest companies in the world picking and choosing winners in a marketplace where they have unlimited power. At the end of the day, these platforms have a choice. They can start acting in good faith—or they can watch as both sides of Congress unite with one target: them.

2. Washington Update: ”Polling on Girls’ Sports Starts a Racket”

In Bostock, the Supreme Court redefined human history’s understanding of sex. Not every ruling at the Supreme Court is personal. But five of the justices have daughters—and three of them went home one night in June knowing they’d destroyed their chance, and every girl’s chance, at sports.

3. Blog: “Remembering ISIS’ Yazidi Genocide, Six Years Later”

Six years ago, ISIS invaded the quiet homeland of the Yazidi people. It only took a few hours for ISIS to seize their city and kidnap or kill all who were unable to flee in time. Those who did manage to escape ran to Mount Sinjar without food, water, or medical care, with ISIS hot on their heels.

4. Blog: ”Coronavirus, Education, and Tofu: Why Choice is the Solution to the Education Conundrum”

The coronavirus has been disruptive to our politics, our economy, and even our decency, but perhaps nothing has been disrupted as significantly as our education system. If the education market worked like any other market, our present dilemma would still be challenging, but it would be solvable.

5. Washington Watch: Pastor Jack Hibbs blames two colliding worldviews for the unequal treatment of churches in Calif.

Jack Hibbs, Senior Pastor at Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, joined Tony Perkins to discuss California Governor Gavin Newsom’s overreaching restrictions on churches.

6. Washington Watch: Doreen Denny cheers the polling that shows a huge consensus on protecting women’s sports

Doreen Denny, Vice President of Government Relations for Concerned Women for America (CWA), joined Sarah Perry to discuss Title IX in a post-Bostock age, CWA’s work to protect Title IX, and CWA’s letter to the NCAA Board of Governors.

7. Washington Watch: Brandon Showalter applauds J.K. Rowling for sticking to her guns on the harms of the trans agenda

Brandon Showalter, reporter for the Christian Post, joined Sarah Perry to discuss J. K. Rowling’s continued pushback on the transgender ideology and Facebook’s censorship on the topic of gender dysphoria.

For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.com, our Facebook pageTwitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad. Check out “The 7” at the end of every week to get our highlights of the week’s trending items. Have a great weekend!

The Joan of Arc Memorial: A Tribute to Courage and Faith

by Molly Carman

August 7, 2020

The history of the United States is preserved in archives, books, and the collective memory of the American people. It is also preserved in monuments, memorials, and statues made from marble, granite, bronze, or plaster.

Our nation’s capital is home to some of the world’s most recognizable and frequently visited monuments. This blog series will explore the events and people they commemorate, devoting particular attention to the spiritual themes depicted. By shedding light on our nation’s deep religious heritage, this series aims to inspire the next generation to emulate virtues and merits from America’s past that are worth memorializing.

FRC’s blog series on monuments is written by FRC summer interns and edited by David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview. Be sure to read our previous posts on the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial.

In a city filled with monuments to America’s presidents, generals, soldiers, and statesmen, a statue to a French teenager might seem out of place. But the Joan of Arc Memorial in Washington, D.C. pays tribute to a fascinating story of courage and faith that Americans have long admired.

Joan of Arc was born in Arc, France in 1412. When she was 13, she believed she heard the voices of St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret telling her to fight for France during the Hundred Years War. Joan answered the call, helping the French drive the English from Orleans in 1429. During the battle, she was captured by the Burgundians and tried in a French ecclesiastical court that had pro-English sympathies. After a sham trial, she was convicted of heresy and deemed a witch by the counsel. In 1431, she was burned at the stake—when she was only 19 years old.

The first memorial to Joan of Arc was erected in Orleans, France in 1456. Today, there are 22 memorials and statues of Joan of Arc worldwide; five are in the United States. Meridian Hill Park in Washington, D.C. is home to one of the five. The D.C. memorial was erected in 1889, and is an exact replica of the “Jeanne d’Arc” statue that stands outside the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims in France. Sculptor Paul Dubois (1829-1905) designed both statues.

D.C.’s Joan of Arc statue stands a little over four feet tall and 11 feet wide. Joan is mounted on her horse in full armor. While there are other memorials to women in our nation’s capital, the Joan of Arc Memorial is the only equestrian statue of a woman and the only statue that depicts a woman going into battle.

Joan’s right hand is raised and holding her drawn sword; her left hand holds the reins of her horse. The visor of her helmet is open, and her eyes gaze heavenward. The sword is five feet long and weighs 30 pounds. Vandals have stolen the sword on multiple occasions, most recently in September 2016. The sword was replaced, and the memorial was rededicated in March 2018.

The bronze statue rests on a three-tiered granite pedestal engraved with the words “Aux Femmes d’Amérique Les Femmes de France,” which means, “To the Women of America, The Women of France.” The statue was gifted to the United States by a group of women known as the Society of French Women of New York—Le Lyceum Societie des Femmes de France—and was dedicated to the women of the United States. President and Mrs. Harding and Ambassador Jules Jusserand of France attended the memorial’s dedication on January 6, 1922.

Carlo Polifeme, the president of the Society of French Women of New York, officially dedicated the memorial, and Mrs. George Maynard Minor, president of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), unveiled the statue on behalf of the women of the United States. Ambassador Jusserand presented a medal from France to Polifeme for her work towards getting the statue erected in Washington, D.C.

Memorials commemorating the life of Joan of Arc, including the one in D.C., represent the legacy of a young woman’s devout faith, obedience, and courage. Although she was young, she was bold. Christians can learn three lessons while reflecting on the life of Joan of Arc and her memorial in Meridian Hill Park.

First, we can be encouraged that our abilities, age, or experience are not what qualifies us for the work God intends for us to do. This is the encouragement Paul gave to his protégé Timothy when he said, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Joan did not shrink back from the dangers of war, rather she led the French army to battle, even though she knew it could cost her life. Likewise, Christians should not shrink back from the callings God has on our lives, even if we “feel” unqualified.

Second, the Joan of Arc statue depicts her with her helmet’s visor open and her eyes looking toward heaven. Christians are called to keep “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Christians are called to have our focus on Christ and not the fears that threaten to overwhelm us. Just as Joan is portrayed looking up to heaven, we, too, must look up as we prepare to contend for the faith.

Finally, the monument depicts Joan’s horse in a full charge into battle. Even though she may have been afraid, Joan did not back down when the battle raged. By depicting Joan with her sword drawn, the memorial communicates her courage. In Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul speaks of putting on the full armor of God. Christians must always be prepared for the battles of life, but, like Joan, we must keep our focus on the Lord, who will never leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of July 26)

by Family Research Council

July 31, 2020

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

1. Washington Update: “Black Lives Matter Makes Its Marx”

How many Christians plaster “Black Lives Matter” across their social media pages not realizing that they’re supporting a group with radical beliefs? Americans are terrified that if they don’t embrace Black Lives Matter, they’ll be labeled as bigots and racists. The extremists are counting on that fear.

2. Washington Update: “Barr Brawl in the House”

House Democrats have been itching to get Attorney General William Barr on the stand for more than a year. But when that wish came true, the Left blew it as they raged, interrupted, and mocked their way through five hours of the hearing.

3. Blog: “Hope in Nebraska: Nebraska Pushes Towards Banning Dismemberment Abortions”

Recently, Nebraska’s state senators successfully brought a bill prohibiting dismemberment abortions to the legislature for debate and a vote. The author of the bill, State Senator Suzanne Geist, believes most Nebraskans will agree with the bill once they learn the horrors of dismemberment abortions.

4. Blog: “Lessons in Perseverance from the Life of William Wilberforce”

The abolition of slavery. Women’s suffrage. Civil rights for black Americans. These reforms came about through years of dedicated efforts from people who refused to quit. As we fight to protect life, family, and religious freedom, we can look to the life of William Wilberforce as inspiration, a man dedicated to the abolition of slavery in the British Empire.

5. Washington Watch: Dr. Teryn Clarke worries that a political agenda is covering up the truth about the coronavirus

Dr. Teryn Clarke, one of the doctors who participated in Monday’s Tea Party Patriots news conference, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the Facebook, Google/YouTube, and Twitter censorship of the viral video.

6. Washington Watch: Sec. Chad Wolf insists that peaceful protestors don’t commit violent crimes

Chad Wolf, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the federal response to the riots in Portland and other cities, and on protestors showing up outside his home.

7. Washington Watch: Andy McCarthy insists the ACLU’s case against federal troops in Portland is as flimsy as it gets

Andy McCarthy, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and Senior Fellow at the National Review Institute, joined Sarah Perry to discuss a federal judge issuing a restraining order against federal agents tasked with protecting a federal courthouse in Portland from violent rioters.

For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.com, our Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad. Check out “The 7” at the end of every week to get our highlights of the week’s trending items. Have a great weekend!

The Lincoln Memorial: A Monument to Unity in a Time of Discord

by Molly Carman

July 27, 2020

The history of the United States is preserved in archives, books, and the collective memory of the American people. It is also preserved in monuments, memorials, and statues made from marble, granite, bronze, or plaster.

Our nation’s capital is home to some of the world’s most recognizable and frequently visited monuments. This blog series will explore the events and people they commemorate, devoting particular attention to the spiritual themes depicted. By shedding light on our nation’s deep religious heritage, this series aims to inspire the next generation to emulate virtues and merits from America’s past that are worth memorializing.

FRC’s blog series on monuments is written by FRC summer interns and edited by David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview.

The legacy of America’s 16th president lives on in the memorial built in his honor on the west end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Abraham Lincoln accomplished great feats against immense odds. His grand memorial recognizes his determination to sustain the Union and abolish slavery in America. Architect Henry Bacon designed the memorial, and sculptor Daniel Chester French carved the statue of Lincoln housed within. Bacon intentionally designed the memorial to symbolize three main themes — strength, union, and peace.

The Lincoln Memorial is 190 feet long, 119 feet wide, and almost 100 feet tall. The monument’s outer structure is comprised of 36 pillars, representing the 36 states of the Union that Lincoln sought to preserve. Above these pillars, each state’s name and respective year of admission into the Union are engraved. Each column is necessary for the structural integrity of the memorial; if any of the columns were removed, the whole structure would collapse. This symbolizes Lincoln’s vision that the United States must be preserved in order for the nation to stand. The motto “E Pluribus Unum” — meaning “out of many, one” — is engraved in the front of the monument.

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural Address are engraved on the memorial’s interior walls, each with corresponding murals depicting the meaning behind the speeches. In both murals, there are fasces (bundles of bound rods) without axe heads to demonstrate the theme of unity and the binding together of the nation. Measuring nine feet tall and weighing 175 tons, the statue of Lincoln himself is also symbolic. Lincoln is seated, but bracing himself in his chair, as if ready to rise. In one of his hands, he holds several fasces. Lincoln grips them tightly to symbolize that he will not relinquish the Union. These fasces reflect Ecclesiastes 4:12, which says: “And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him — a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

The Lincoln Memorial took eight years to build. On May 30, 1922, a crowd of approximately 50,000 people gathered for the memorial’s dedication. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court William Howard Taft led the ceremony with President Warren G. Harding and Dr. Robert Moton of the Tuskegee Institute.

Many memorable events have taken place at the Lincoln Memorial over the years, but two stand out from the rest. These two events share a common theme of highlighting and decrying racial injustice. The organizers intentionally placed these events in the shadow of the memorial that honors the man who ended the scourge of slavery in America.

First, in 1939, after being denied the opportunity to perform at nearby Constitution Hall because of her race, the great contralto Marian Anderson sang at the Lincoln Memorial. In front of a crowd of over 75,000 people, she boldly and elegantly sang her prepared piece, and people greatly enjoyed her breathtaking voice. This event prefigured the modern Civil Rights movement by protesting discrimination at the memorial of the man who abolished slavery.

The second standout event was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which took place on August 28, 1963. During this rally, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, speaking poignantly of a future day when his children would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. This speech has become such an integral part of the memorial’s story that the spot where King stood to give the speech was permanently marked in 2003.

The Lincoln Memorial helps remind us of two important truths. First, the importance of national unity. The Founding Fathers believed that when we are united in our beliefs, faith, and values, the nation will prosper and endure. In the darkest days of the Civil War, this vision of a united country inspired President Lincoln to remain steadfast in his desire to preserve the Union.

Second, by reminding us of the sobering history of slavery in our nation, the memorial prompts us to consider the words of the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights. Christians believe that every person — born and unborn, white and black, rich and poor, able-bodied and disabled — is made in God’s image and possesses inherent dignity and worth. Unfortunately, our nation has not always lived up to this ideal. But this founding ideal is supported by Scripture and is a goal worth striving for in our churches and nation.

The Lincoln Memorial reminds us of our country’s darkest hour. However, it also inspires courage to continue to contend for freedom as we consider President Lincoln’s final words in his second inaugural address: “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds.”

Molly Carman is a Policy and Government Affairs intern whose research focuses on developing a biblical worldview on issues related to family and current events.

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

by Family Research Council

July 24, 2020

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

1. Washington Update: “Left Comes for Religious Hospitals with Surgical Precision”

Six activists on the Supreme Court think they’ve done everyone a favor by ordering America to help a woman live as a man. But what about religious hospitals that refuse to embrace the Left’s radical views? We need justices who will stand up and protect them.

2. Washington Update: “Like a Mob to the Flame”

It looked like something out of a 2015 news report — a picture from ISIS, maybe, torching its way through Mosul. But the charred pews and collapsed roof were not the work of Islamic terrorists, but America’s own.

3. Blog: “Transgenderism is Now Rated G”

The Baby-Sitters Club is a new Netflix series based on the popular children’s books by the same name published in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Unfortunately, parents who fondly remember the books from their own childhood should think twice before allowing their impressionable children to watch this G-rated show.

4. Blog: “During the Pandemic, the Trump Administration Is Continuing to Protect Religious Freedom”

The Trump Administration recently announced further steps to protect religious freedom during the coronavirus pandemic. No matter the situation our country faces, the Office of Civil Rights at HHS is on duty, protecting the guard rails of civil rights like religious freedom.

5. Washington Watch: Katharine Gorka insists turning America around will require teaching civics and founding principles

Katharine Gorka, Director of Civil Society and the American Dialogue at The Heritage Foundation’s Feulner Institute, joined Sarah Perry on Washington Watch to discuss her op-ed “Standing Up to ‘Wokeness’ and the Intolerance of the Mob.”

6. Washington Watch: Lindsey Burke talks about the explosion of Pandemic Pods, a neighborhood homeschooling solution

Lindsey Burke, Director for the Center for Education Policy and Will Skillman Fellow in Education Policy at the Heritage Foundation, joined Sarah Perry on Washington Watch to share how ‘Pandemic Pods’ are fundamentally reshaping K-12 education and might be an option for parents looking at alternatives to public schools.

7. Washington Watch: Bob Fu describes the living nightmare of Chinese Christians who are brutalized for their faith

Bob Fu, FRC’s Senior Fellow for International Religious Freedom and Founder/President of the China Aid Association, joined Sarah Perry on Washington Watch to discuss a new video emerging of well-known house churches in China coming under attack by paramilitary police, and also on the latest situation in Hong Kong as the Chinese Communists persecute both Christians and dissidents.

For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.com, our Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad. Check out “The 7” at the end of every week to get our highlights of the week’s trending items. Have a great weekend!

How Can Believers Weather the Cultural Storm?

by Molly Carman

July 24, 2020

It is no longer safe to assume that anyone has a biblical understanding or perspective of culture. The push for relative truth, cancel culture, and happy-go-lucky logic is the new normal that is being shoved down the throats of Christians and conservatives who are not “woke” enough to go with the flow. There is a gathering storm over tradition, religion, and the family. In order to be ready for this cultural storm, we must prepare an emergency response plan.

In his new book, The Gathering Storm: Secularism, Culture, and the Church, Dr. Albert Mohler seeks to open the eyes of Christians and prepare them for the storm that is gathering in an effort to preserve the church and family. Dr. Mohler is the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and his writings have appeared in a variety of journals including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

He admonishes his readers to remember that “the first task of faithfulness lies in understanding reality.” Dr. Mohler then encourages his readers to be willing to acknowledge that there is a storm gathering, to listen to wisdom about how to best weather the storm, and resolve to be faithful and courageous in the throes of the storm.

Nine Gathering Storms

Mohler presents nine different storms that are gathering—over western civilization, the church, human life, marriage, the family, gender and sexuality, future generations, pop culture, and religious liberty. These nine storms culminate into one large storm that, if ignored, will have eternal consequences. While it can be tempting to ignore these storms, or to at least downplay their threat, Mohler argues that recognition of the current cultural situation must lead to reformation.

The cultural storm began to brew over western civilization with the rise of secularization, argues Mohler. Primarily, he points to the influence of the Enlightenment and the degradation of the intellect. A large segment of today’s society pushes for total acceptance of a certain progressive ideology, and intolerant to the point that it has become unacceptable to be a believer in some circles. Politics have become the new foundation for society, and Mohler is concerned that Christians have replaced theology with politics, suggesting that we do not need another political victory, rather, “We need a theological protest.”

This storm of secularism in western civilization has seamlessly crept into the church, transforming fundamental values and beliefs. If you want to change a culture, argues Mohler, do not start with the customs, but change the values and beliefs and the behavior will follow. “The failure to teach truth eventually leads to failure of Christ’s people even to know the truth,” he argues. Mohler goes on to say, “The great threat we face is not to the church’s existence, but to its faithfulness.” Culture no longer goes to the church with questions—rather, culture has begun to question the very purpose and relevance of the church.

As the storm gathers over the church, it inevitably affects the family. Destroying the family is the quickest way to alter the morality of a society. Specifically, Mohler shows how devaluing life through abortion has become a central part of the battle for the family. This touches on questions of anthropology, which deals with the nature and purpose of humanity, and this, unfortunately, is now more divisive than ever. “[U]ltimately,” says Mohler, “every worldview must answer the question of what a human being is.”

Marriage, too, has been devalued through the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples. Moreover, cohabitation and divorce have wreaked havoc on families and communities. Mohler writes, “The greater tragedy is the failure of Christians to take marriage seriously.”

Incredibly, due to the moral revolution, even the terms “male” and “female” have become offensive. Personal autonomy is now the standard for ultimate meaning and satisfaction. Mohler demonstrates how the rejection of the natural created order leads to pain and confusion. The family is now one of the most broken units of society, and unless it is restored and defended daily, it will become an afterthought.

Further, the storm is gathering over future generations. Due to the collapse of the natural family, many people are marrying later and choosing to have fewer children (if any) than previous generations. Pleasure and self-fulfillment are the highest goods, and little thought is given to the future. This selfish mindset has been spread by the engines of pop culture and the entertainment industry. “The narrative we ingest,” writes Mohler, “the songs we listen to, the images on our screens have a clear, moral agenda,” and it is distorting our Christian worldview.

In addition, a storm is gathering over religious liberty. Once considered America’s first freedom, religious liberty has been reconstructed by secular and cultural elites to mean religious privilege. Mohler admonishes his readers to develop an apologetic for their faith and understand that religious freedom is the battleground for preserving the value of God, truth, and freedom.

Three Habits to Weather the Storm

So, what are the takeaways from Dr. Mohler’s new book? How do we go faithfully into the storm and weather it well?

As Christians, we have a responsibility to acknowledge why the storm has gathered—because we have forsaken God. The first step in weathering the storm is to remember the hope that is within us. Forgetting God is what got us here. Returning to God and trusting Him is the only way to restore the damage caused by these storms. This requires humility, intentionality, and endurance.

Finally, in order to go faithfully and courageously into the storm, Mohler admonishes his readers to institute three habits into their lives. First, make church the highest priority for your weekly schedule. Plan your life around the rhythms and routines of the local church. Second, take the effects and influence of technology, screens, and social media seriously. Be master of your technologies, lest they master you. Third, fill whatever home you find yourself in with the fragrance of the gospel. Promote the spiritual health of the next generation, remind yourself of God’s call on your life, and do the good works He prepared in advance for you to do.

Dr. Mohler’s book is an opportunity to teach us how to recognize the coming future storms and prepare well by responding with courage and faith. He encourages his readers to remember that while God is in control, the storm is still real. As we trust Him, let us walk faithfully and weather the storm together.

Molly Carman is a Policy and Government Affairs intern whose research focuses on developing a biblical worldview on issues related to family and current events.

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

by Family Research Council

July 17, 2020

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

1. Washington Update: “Enroll Models: Parents Explore Schooling Options”

With an intense battle raging over whether to reopen schools or not, more parents aren’t waiting to see what their districts decide—they’re taking matters into their own hands. A whopping 40 percent of families have been looking at homeschooling this fall.

2. Washington Update: “The Monuments Men: Trump Taps Cabinet to Guard History”

Extremists like to say that the violence we’re seeing is about justice. That somehow by attacking our past, they’re improving our future, but the administration is coming after anyone who defaces, damages, or tries to remove any monument by force.

3. Blog: “Cruz, Rubio, and Smith Are Banned From China”

A handful of U.S. congressmen recently woke up to an angry slap on the wrist from the Chinese government—they are now banned from entering China because of their work addressing China’s human rights violations.

4. Blog: “Christians Must Not Be Afraid of Being Controversial”

To be controversial is to intentionally turn in the opposite direction of one thing and turn towards another. Being controversial is not always a bad thing because, especially for Christians, we are called to stand counter to the ways of the world and turn towards truth.

5. Washington Watch: Abigail Shrier shares the heartbreaking stories that led her to write on the teen transgender craze

Abigail Shrier, regular writer for the Wall Street Journal, joined Sarah Perry to discuss her new book “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing our Daughters,” and Amazon banning advertising for the book.

6. Washington Watch: Mark Hemingway insists the cancel culture will twist any issue to serve its anti-American goals

Mark Hemingway, Senior Writer for Real Clear Investigations, joined Sarah Perry to discuss the liberal elites’ open letter against cancel culture, and the fragility of the woke.

7. Washington Watch: Rushan Abbas applauds Trump’s decision to make Chinese officials pay for Uyghur abuses

Rushan Abbas, Founder and Executive Director for the Campaign for the Uyghurs, joined Sarah Perry to discuss the U.S. sanctioning Chinese officials in charge of the forced sterilization of Uyghurs.

For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.org, our Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad. Check out “The 7” at the end of every week to get our highlights of the week’s trending items. Have a great weekend!

Christians Must Not Be Afraid of Being Controversial

by Molly Carman

July 16, 2020

Last week on Washington Watch, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins observed, “We often avoid controversy, because we associate controversy with things that are wrong. But if you read the New Testament, controversy surrounded Jesus, controversy surrounded his disciples, controversy was a way of life for those who follow Jesus.”

Tony is right, and his call for Christians to take a stand on issues that may be perceived as controversial is needed more than ever. As Christians, we know that nothing is new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Although our beliefs are routinely labeled as too controversial, old fashioned, or even extreme, we know that we are called to stand for truth in the public square.

The term “controversial” comes from the Latin root contorversia. When broken down, the word is a combination of contra—turning in an opposite direction—and versus—turned toward or against. In other words, to be controversial is to intentionally turn in the opposite direction of one thing and turn towards another. Being controversial is not always a bad thing because, especially for Christians, we are called to stand counter to the ways of the world and turn towards truth.

To be controversial often means to be countercultural. Christ did not call His disciples to conform to the world but to be transformed (Romans 12:2). Moreover, Jesus warned His disciples that taking a stand for truth would bring about judgment from the world: “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John encourages the church later in I John 3:13, “Do not be surprised brothers, that the world hates you.” The same truth applies to Christians today.

This is not to say that Christians should intentionally incite controversy by becoming public provocateurs or scornfully dismiss those who disagree with us. But what it does mean is that when we as Christians face opposition or are in a situation where standing for truth is frowned upon, we take a stand. We do not go along with progressive and destructive thoughts, ideas, or institutions that subvert the truth. And, as Peter reminds us, “yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

The Bible is full of examples of people who faced opposition and controversy who had to decide how and when they would take a stand. Today is no different. As we read Scripture, we can be encouraged by God’s faithfulness to Moses when he spoke before Pharaoh (Exodus 6-11). Likewise, we should take heart when we read of the courage and strength God gave to Esther when she spoke up for her people or the wisdom and clarity God gave Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, Joel, Malachi, Micah, and many other Old Testament prophets. This theme of the faithfulness of God when His people faced opposition continues into the New Testament when many of the new converts to Christianity were forced out of their synagogues. Jesus Himself was killed on the cross because the priests and leaders said that He was too controversial and was changing people’s way of thinking.

Truth is expensive—when we intentionally choose to stand for truth, it may cost us relationships, jobs, or even our lives, as those Christians being persecuted by authoritarian regimes around the world can attest to. Jesus warned of this at Caesarea Philippi when He said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24-26).

To conclude his radio show last week, Tony Perkins quoted the Apostle Paul and gave these words of encouragement from Ephesians 6:13, “Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” In a world of opposition that seeks to make its own truth and abandon morality, Christians must remember that we must turn from worldly ways and instead turn towards “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Inevitably, this means we will be controversial.  

Molly Carman is a Policy and Government Affairs Intern at Family Research Council whose research focuses on developing a biblical worldview on issues related to family and current events.

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

by Family Research Council

July 10, 2020

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

1. Washington Update: “Rushmore and the Two-Faced Left”

The Left’s idea of justice divides. Their idea of equality silences. If we can’t unite around our common identity as Americans, what is there?

2. Washington Update: “This Fourth of July, Do Law and the Constitution Still Matter?”

The Fourth of July is a time we rejoice in our liberty and remember those who won our freedoms at great cost. Yet underlying these things is a foundation that must remain strong—It’s the rule of law.

3. Blog: “Our Founders Were Flawed, But Our Founding Ideals Endure”

The moral failings of our Founders don’t automatically invalidate the ideals they claimed to espouse. Truth is truth, regardless of human behavior. But how do we know if the ideals they wrote about are true? 

4. Blog: “Befriending Our Opponents: A Tale of Two Presidents”

Amid the current political divisions gripping our nation, it’s difficult to find close friendships between people with opposing viewpoints. But what if forming genuine relationships with those on the other side could make our nation better?

5. Washington WatchSen. Mike Lee describes his frustration at Senate Dems refusing to condemn mob violence

Mike Lee, U.S. Senator from Utah, joined Tony Perkins to discuss his resolution condemning mob violence, and also on President Donald Trump’s speech at Mount Rushmore.

6. Washington WatchSec. Mike Pompeo explains the effort to discourage U.S. companies from using China’s forced laborers

Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the Chinese Communist party imposing forced sterilization and abortions on Uyghurs and other minorities, and the State Department issuing an advisory discouraging U.S. companies from doing business with human rights violators.

7. Washington WatchTodd Gilbert warns America that the Left is coming for anyone who cares about freedom & godly values

Todd Gilbert, Delegate representing the 15th district in the Virginia House of Delegates, joined Tony Perkins to discuss Virginia officials ordering the removal of an American flag from a construction site ahead of the Fourth of July.

For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.org, our Facebook pageTwitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad. Check out “The 7” at the end of every week to get our highlights of the week’s trending items. Have a great weekend!

What the Pandemic and the Protests Reveal About the Church’s Lost Moral Influence

by David Closson

July 9, 2020

Church leaders took to Twitter yesterday to respond to a New York Times article alleging churches are a “major source” of coronavirus cases, citing “more than 650 cases” linked to church gatherings. The article provides examples of church events and services that have been linked to the spread of the virus and insinuates that church leaders have been reckless in the way they’ve handled the crisis. However, as Christian leaders were quick to point out, the Times seems to misrepresent the magnitude of the problem.

For example, Hershael York, Dean of Southern Seminary and Senior Pastor at Buck Run Baptist Church noted in a tweet, “How many 1000’s of churches are meeting now? And the @nytimes finds 650 cases linked to only 40 religious institutions … and that is a ‘major source.’ Let’s put the stats in context, folks! Why this relentless obsession with churches?”

Philip Bethancourt, Senior Pastor at Central Church echoed his sentiment noting, “There are thousands of churches serving millions of people every week. Calling churches a ‘major source’ of coronavirus because of 650 cases seems like a major stretch to me. Churches are working hard to do what they can to be safe to attend.”

Are these church leaders right to cry foul on the unfair treatment by the New York Times? Here are the facts about COVID cases in the US and church compliance.

In context, these 650 cases have been linked to 40 church organizations since the beginning of the pandemic. In America, there have been a total of 3,131,411 cases total confirmed since February 15th, with national cases amounting to 40,000 in a single day as recently as June 27th

Churches in America have been extremely compliant with the shutdown orders and reopening guidelines. There is no doubt that any gathering of individuals poses some level of risk, particularly if a church ignores basic social distancing guidelines. However, research shows that over 90 percent of pastors and church leaders complied with shutdown orders in March, and many continue to be abundantly cautious as they collaborate to create complex re-opening strategies.

The New York Times Startling Inconsistency

So, what can account for the New York Times attitude toward church reopening, and their claim that churches represent a “major source” of coronavirus cases? On this point it is worth noting the newspaper’s coverage of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests. With as many as 26 million people participating in the protests as of July 3rd, the New York Times did not seem nearly as concerned about the health hazards posed by these massive demonstrations. To their credit, one recent piece on July 6th acknowledges that many public health officials had to “grapple” with supporting this particular expression of democracy (as opposed to anti-lockdown protests or in-person religious services), after more than 1,300 public health officials signed a letter May 30 in support of the rallies. The article also acknowledged that these protests endanger “tens of thousands” of Americans who choose to attend. This number of endangered Americans, of course, is a stark contrast to the 650 cases reportedly tied to the reopening of churches.

There is an undeniable inconsistency in the mainstream media to downplay one expression of civil society and its risk to public health while highlighting another. For one, studies to identify the tie between BLM protests and COVID cases are few and far between. In fact, COVID contact tracing workers in New York were instructed not to ask anyone testing positive for COVID whether they attended a demonstration. Recently, some in the mainstream media and government have begun calling for an investigation into the connection between the protests and the COVID uptick. So far, most have claimed no connection or one that is “hard to identify” due to the simultaneous general public re-opening and demographics of protestors. The UK Health Secretary was recently faced with accusations that Britain was a “racist country” after he warned about the risks of the protests, saying that while he supports the protests the “virus itself doesn’t discriminate.” Cancellations on outdoor Fourth of July gatherings just this past weekend (the indoor/outdoor distinction is commonly made when defending BLM protests) further underscore the inconsistencies.  

The media’s predisposition against churches compared to BLM protests is hard to deny. A quick search on Google shows 10 articles articulating reasons why closing churches is necessary for the public health; a similar search for articles questioning BLM protests and its risks lends little results—only a resounding defense of the protestors’ motivations and arguments for their necessity. Given these trends, it is little wonder that the “connection” with churches and COVID cases would be an area of interest to the mainstream media, or that evangelical Christians would have trouble trusting the resulting information.

Those who do acknowledge the health hazard of the BLM protests are careful to weigh that with the gravity of the events and message that they convey. Tara Haelle writes with Forbes that the protests are saving lives and for many, protesting represents an “essential” activity. Systematic racism itself is said to be a “public health emergency” when one tracks the impact of racism on the health of minorities. Furthermore, we are told that protestors are taking “calculated risks” for a greater good.

Undoubtedly, the conversations prompted by George Floyd’s tragic death are important, and Christians need to be active participants in discussions about race relations and police reform. It is notable, however, that the language used to justify this public health risk stands in stark contrast from that which is used to describe worship services. 

Cultural Ideals Drive Necessity, and the Church Isn’t a Part of Those Ideals. This Must Change.

Ideals and ideology are shaping the way that America views the re-opening of their country, and it will continue to shape the way we move forward as a country. It used to be that the church was viewed as a place that did transformative work in the spiritual, physical, and mental health of individuals of all races and backgrounds. The church, too, has long been held as an essential function of democracy. The church and its freedom to gather, within reason, is a hallmark of the American republic, as it is a right so infrequently enjoyed by other nations. 

If that is the case, what accounts for the double standard and for why worshipers are viewed with suspicion by mainstream media outlets like the New York Times? Why are churches the target of so much scrutiny? One reason is that the church has lost its moral influence. Another is the precipitous decline in those who hold a biblical worldview and who see the church as the conveyor and guardian of morality. Society no longer shares the values of the church and thus no longer thinks the church has anything of importance to say to the pressing issues of our time. This is why the media and secular culture are so quick to dismiss the church and relegate it to the category of “nonessential.” In fact, this was evident in the closing paragraph of the NYT article when they quoted a pastor who stated his belief that God was sovereign over his life in the midst of the virus. The Times of course appears to jump at the opportunity to frame the pastor as a simpleton, walking with blind faith and bereft of science and reason.

Why does the New York Times article not revere churchgoers who would attend their church and grow spiritually as those taking “calculated risks” and “saving lives?” If the church was seen as a serious moral stakeholder in the public square, these would be the articles written about church re-openings. More than something to mourn, this truth should be an eye-opening moment for American churches. Their leadership—and the uniqueness of the life and world-transforming gospel that they alone can bring—is needed more than ever in the public square. The church has true answers to bring to the questions that global crises evoke, and it should not be modest about the urgency of its message or the life-saving quality of its gospel.

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