Category archives: Religion & Culture

Faith-Based Solutions Are Vital to Preventing Veteran Suicide

by Cassidy Rich

May 14, 2019

By the end of every day, an average of 20 U.S. military veterans will have committed suicide. This number is staggering, especially when you consider the fact that less than 1 percent of the U.S. adult population are currently serving in the military. What happened?

Ask Richard Glickstein and he’ll tell you that there are several reasons. Glickstein, the former president of the National Bible Association and current military/veteran advocate on Capitol Hill, says that faith-based solutions are “devoid” in the military because the focus for the last several decades has been on the mind, not the spirit. Another reason why veteran suicide has escalated, Glickstein points out, is because some of the medications that veterans are given to help them are actually hurting them and can make the thoughts of suicide worse.

In a Speaker Series event at FRC headquarters last week, Glickstein quoted George Washington in a letter written to the Virginia Governor in 1758: “Common decency, Sir, in a camp calls for the services of a Divine; and which ought not to be dispensed with, altho’ the world should be so uncharitable as to think us void of Religion, & incapable of good Instructions.” Washington knew that religion played a vital role in the health and well-being of soldiers. He knew that spirituality needed to be the focus for both mental and bodily health. “This is why he instituted the chaplaincy at Valley Forge,” Glickstein stated.

So what do faith-based solutions have to do with veteran suicide? Glickstein pointed out that based on 140 years of evidence, “The disciplined practice of religion increases resiliency, reduces suicide, and helps to speed the resolution of PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder]. PTSD and suicide ideations are conditions of the spirit/soul. Only therapy to this core of a person will affect change.”

These are some of the findings of Dr. Harold G. Koenig, Director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology, and Health at Duke University, who gathered and analyzed 140 years of scientific evidence on mental health and found that people who prayed often and regularly attended religious services were far less likely to have mental health issues. This is vital information because science shows that once a male civilian enters the military, he is 30-50 percent more likely to commit suicide. For women who enter the military, their chance of mental health disorders and risk of suicide increases 200-500 percent.

Why are the percentages so high, especially for women? Glickstein says that major contributing factors are isolation and reverse culture shock. When our soldiers come back from war, most of them don’t have a common community of fellow veterans. They feel isolated and feel like they can’t talk to anybody about what they experienced because their civilian friends and family won’t understand. The other aspect is reverse culture shock—veterans often have an incredibly difficult time reentering into “normal life” because they are different. Their experiences changed them and now they are struggling to jump back into a life that no longer exists because they have changed.

What can we learn from this? Glickstein said, “Suicide doesn’t differentiate between a Democrat and Republican. Veteran and military suicide, they’re Democrats, they’re Republicans. This isn’t an ideological issue. This is a crisis.” What veterans need are Americans who are willing and want to hear their stories, more connection and community with fellow veterans, and accountability in faith and religious circles. New faith-based programs like Soul Survivor Outdoor and the Trump administration’s new high-level task force on preventing veteran suicide are huge steps in the right direction.

9-Year-Old Reminds Us All of the Power of Prayer

by Daniel Hart

April 24, 2019

Love one another.” (John 13:34)

This pivotal verse from the 13th chapter of John’s gospel is the theme for this year’s National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 2nd. It is an especially fitting theme at this moment in time in our nation, when our political differences threaten to tear our country apart at the seams. It’s a theme that is the very heart of Christianity, the central commandment that Christ gave to his disciples and followers—to love.

But what is love? In these days of confusion, when many feel entitled to their own truths, it is critical to define our terms. The Christian definition of love is to will the good of the other. This often means that we uphold beliefs that are not only deeply unpopular, but are even considered “hateful” and “bigoted”. Nevertheless, we sincerely believe that true love requires that we uphold them for the ultimate good of everyone. Simply put, if we believe that our beliefs are the Truth, then they are not merely true just for Christians but for all people.

While Christians must be unwavering in our belief of the Truth, we also must be pragmatic and reasonable in our relationships with non-believers and our political opponents. How do we even begin to go about convincing the world of the Truth? The beautiful thing about Christianity is that convincing people through our words and actions is only one tool we have in our arsenal. In the faith life, it quickly becomes clear that successfully evangelizing others is far beyond our own power. In reality, the most effective tool of evangelization is prayer (1 John 5:14). But too often, we Christians de-emphasize prayer in favor of what seems like more direct action, like shouting from the rooftops of social media.

Sometimes it takes the wisdom of children to remind us of the fundamental importance of prayer. Take Jack, a 9-year-old boy from New York. After Governor Andrew Cuomo enacted the most extreme state abortion expansion bill in the country in his home state, Jack decided he wanted to do something about it. With the help of his father, he started the website ConvertCuomo, which asks believers to commit to pray for Gov. Cuomo’s conversion by submitting a prayer pledge on the site.

For Jack, who comes from a strong Catholic upbringing, the “ConvertCuomo” project was an especially personal one. Gov. Cuomo, who is himself Catholic, went so far as to order One World Trade Center and other landmarks to be lit up in pink in order to celebrate his signing into law of the most radical state abortion expansion bill ever to be enacted in the U.S.“My mom and dad told me that he passed this bill and other things and it made me really upset,” Jack said. “So I wanted to think of something to do to stop abortion.”

As Jack recognizes, it is especially important to pray for those in authority like Gov. Cuomo who claim to be Catholic yet strongly support policies that his own faith teaches is a “grave offense” against moral law.

I pray two Our Fathers for Governor Cuomo every day,” Jack says, “sometimes three.”

Jack is keying in on an important truth for believers. If we want our political opponents and non-believers to have personal conversions of heart, praying for their conversion is the most loving thing we can do for them.

Let us join Jack’s prayer initiative and take up the vital task of loving one another through prayer.

Personal Responsibility and Public Service Bring Glory to God

by Alyson Gritter

April 22, 2019

Frequently as an intern in Washington, D.C., I have had a few moments to stand in awe of the towering figure of the Washington Monument. On any given day, gazing up at such a remarkable sight, I am reminded of a fact that not many in D.C., let alone America, know. What exactly is at the top of the monument and why is it so significant to America today?

According to the National Park Service (NPS), the Washington Monument stands 555-feet high, making it the tallest structure in the area. In 1884, when the monument was finished, the Latin words Laus Deo, which mean “Praise be to God” or “God be praised,” were engraved on the east face of the aluminum cap at the top of the monument. Thus, every morning, when the sun rose, the first ray of light to touch D.C. landed on this engraving. The original builders wanted this to symbolize God being given the glory as the first thing to occur every morning. It is a beautiful piece of history and an even more powerful testament to what God has done for this nation. Unfortunately, the story of this gorgeous engraving doesn’t end here.

In 1885, a lightning protection system (or collar) was installed over the top part of the original cap. Though it protected the monument, it rubbed off the original engraving, rendering the Latin words illegible. In 1934, the collar was restored, but the original engravings were not included in the restoration project. Instead, a new engraving was added to the cap. The top of the monument now reads: “Repaired, 1934, National Park Service, Department of the Interior.” This wording was placed directly on top of the original east side engraving Laus Deo.

This story is a fitting illustration of how many leaders in our government operate today—how they work to obscure the Framers’ original intent to honor and glorify God. Similar to how the words Laus Deo were covered over on the top of the Washington Monument, forces are at work in our government to erode, destroy, and erase the Christian heritage of our nation. So many of us today, instead of first giving the glory to God for everything we have, lean on our own “power” and “authority.”

We have done this in two ways. First, we as citizens are overly relying on the government for assistance and guidance to prosper. Former Senator Jim DeMint said it best: “Over the last 50 years, American attitudes have shifted from cherishing self-sufficiency and personal responsibility to craving cradle-to-grave security ‘guaranteed’ by government.” We are increasingly looking to the government to provide all our needs and even our desires, like free college for all. According to Heritage’s Index of Dependence on Government, in 2013, 70 percent of government spending went to dependency programs.

Too many millennials are buying into a narrative of a socialist utopia where the government can and should supply all our needs. In contrast, Paul writes in Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

Secondly, many of our leaders first seek power instead of surrender. Many lawmakers are wanting to be the solution to our problems instead of pointing us to the only One who can solve our problems. It seems that their desire to be a “functional savior” is fueling their actions so that citizens increasingly rely on them in order to bolster their own image in the culture. Many of our political leaders seem to desire power and glory over truly effective public service.

A few recent examples of this include former President Obama trying to take the credit for economic gains that happened after he left office, and Senator Cory Booker using his infamous, self-anointed “Spartacus moment” to launch momentum for his 2020 presidential campaign. It is a common theme in today’s politics—“How can I further my image and my mission?” instead of “How can I get on board with God’s mission?”

What America needs today is citizens who strive for personal responsibility and service to others and leaders who are looking first to serve, to imbibe the spirit expressed in the faded, worn out words of the Washington Monument—Laus Deo. We need leaders who serve God (Joshua 22:5; 1 Samuel 12:24; Hebrews 9:14) and their fellow citizens (Luke 6:38; Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 4:10). Jesus himself said, “The greatest among you will be your servant” (Matthew 23:11). We as citizens need to renew our commitment to being responsible for ourselves but also to serve those in need, and our government officials need to rediscover their true vocation: to be public servants.

Alyson Gritter served as an intern at Family Research Council.

Under the “Equality Act,” A Woman’s Place is in the Bleachers

by Cathy Ruse

April 15, 2019

Last week, the Heritage Foundation presented another compelling panel on the impact of the transgender movement on women and girls, and its chief legislative vehicle: Nancy Pelosi’s so-called “Equality Act.”

Featuring women leaders like Beth Stelzer of Save Women’s Sports and Jennifer Bryson of Let All Play, the panel examined the devastating impact that this political movement is having in the lives of real women and girls, and women’s sports in general.

The panel included Bianca Stanescu, mother of Selina Soule, the Glastonbury High School Track and Field athlete who had to compete against two large, biological males who identify as girls. Surprise! The males came in first and second place, and Selina was knocked out of the New England regionals for which she otherwise would have qualified.

Not long ago, men dominated sports in this country. That was before Congress passed Title IX to give women an equal opportunity to participate in sports.

There’s nothing “equal” about forcing women to compete against biological men.

Yet that’s what the so-called “Equality Act” will require, a bill being pushed now by transgender activists and their allies.

The Equality Act will not only make men’s sports dominate again—it will relegate women and girls to the bleachers.

But not to worry, there’ll still be two divisions on the playing field: Men competing against men, and men who identify as women competing against each other.

All Policy is Family Policy

by Alyson Gritter

April 2, 2019

Recently, FRC hosted Professor R.J. Snell for a Speaker Series event to discuss the relationship between natural law and public policy. He explored the crucial question of what natural law is and what its role should be in making policy.

Professor Snell defined natural law as a “universal objective moral normativity.” Translation? Basic human rights are not defined by what is relative based on the cultural trends, or “whims” of today. Instead, much like other great thinkers including Plato, Edmund Burke, John Locke, and Martin Luther King Jr., Snell agrees that natural law is based on an absolute Truth. He stated that “all human reason participates in the natural law of God.”

But what role should natural law play in the making of policy?

Policy should not be about winning for winning’s sake, or power grabbing. It should be about what we value as a society. According to Professor Snell, policy secures the blessings of natural law within our society by ultimately serving the person. Policy teaches society by showing what we value—what we actually seek and why. It is “non-theoretical teaching.”

Snell explained this importance by addressing the audience: “You, policy types, teach just as much as I as a professor do, albeit differently. Now I, as father and husband and citizen, need you to teach well because I need our policy to support my family [and] to support my friend’s family. “

As he observed, many students today have been taught that natural law doesn’t exist and instead are taught that public policy is the highest law: “I as a professor and teacher need you to teach well because by the time I get to students [at] age 18 or 19, they have 18 or 19 years of relentless policy education.” If bad policy is enacted based on relative cultural circumstances, then students learn merely conditional views of what is right and what is wrong.

He emphasized, “You [policymakers] are teachers.”

For example, students in America today are growing up in a society where pro-abortion policies have been enacted and are therefore deemed acceptable by many. This causes these policies to act as a kind of teacher about how society views humanity. So, by the time students get to college, many of them have come to understand the dignity of the unborn child as a flexible concept depending on the circumstances of that child’s conception. They are valued either as “wanted” humans or they are otherwise aborted. Natural law standards instead view both born and unborn life as equally valuable, regardless of the situation surrounding conception.

Professor Snell emphasized that policies based on natural law need to be encouraged in order to have a more stable society. Otherwise, anything can be deemed relative, including life itself. Many students today lack a basic understanding of natural law because they lack a basic understanding of a natural family. In many ways, a person’s family is the natural image of the natural law. Everyone has a family in some form. When the family structure that a child is brought up in does not reflect the natural structure we were created for, it can have a lifelong impact on that child’s life. It distorts a healthy view of marriage, human sexuality, and society.

That’s why the family structure is so incredibly important to teaching children values. It is, according to Snell, “the main bearer of tradition [sacred order].” In other words, it is the way that natural law is most made known and the means to which a person’s morals and norms are formed.

However, many of today’s policies are aimed at dissolving family values that reflect natural law. This leads us, as citizens, to an essential question: What is our public policy teaching our children? Is it aligned with natural law, or is it relative to the “whims” of today’s society? As Snell stated, “All policy is family policy.” Therefore, we must advocate for policies that support natural family values and continue teaching those principles in our homes.

Be sure to view the entirety of Professor Snell’s important lecture.

Alyson Gritter is an intern at Family Research Council.

Praying for Our Leaders

by Peyton Holliday

March 12, 2019

Here at Family Research Council, we have been reading through Carter Conlon’s book It’s Time to Pray. Prayer has been a focus at FRC since the beginning, but we are renewing that focus this year. In Conlon’s book, he highlights stories of how people’s lives have been changed by prayer. He shows us how people live out the verse in James: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (5:16).

We as Christians in the United States should be praying for our leaders in authority over us. In the book of 1 Timothy, we are told to pray for our leaders: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” We need to pray that our leaders will have wisdom (Proverbs 3:13) and will surround themselves with counsellors (Proverbs 15:22). Here are some great scripture passages to pray over our leaders from the book of Proverbs:

  1. Lord, may our leaders guide our nation in what is right, just, and fair (1:3).
  2. May they understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God (2:5).
  3. Above all, may our leaders trust in God with all their heart and not lean on their own understanding (3:5).
  4. As they interact with those around them, may they avoid all perverse talk and a deceitful mouth (4:24).
  5. Lord, may our leaders not be afraid of sudden disaster (3:25) and make wise decisions in the face of a disaster.
  6. As our leaders make both life and political decisions, may they ponder the path of their feet (4:26).
  7. I pray that our leaders will not be wise in their own eyes, but fear the Lord and turn away from evil (3:7).
  8. Lord, may they find favor and understanding in the sight of God and man (3:4).
  9. As our leaders make national and local decisions, may they listen to wisdom and be secure without fear of evil (1:33).
  10. May our leaders do their work pure and right (20:11).
  11. Thank you, Father for those that you have placed in authority over us. May you remind us to pray for them and never give up remembering that our leader’s hearts are turned by you and you turn them however you please (21:1). Amen.

It is our duty as Christians to respect the authority over us (Romans 13:1-7). I think we would have an easier time respecting those in authority if we prayed for our leaders on a daily basis. Prayer, as small of a task and as insignificant as many think it to be, can change the world. If more Christians would daily, hourly, and without ceasing pray for our leaders, our nation and the world would be a different place.

Peyton Holliday is an intern at Family Research Council.

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

by Kim Lilienthal

March 11, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Moral Ambiguity

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

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

Disillusionment with Idealism

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

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

An Antidote to Hopelessness

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

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

Kim Lilienthal is an intern at Family Research Council.

Women: Achieving Balance from the One Who Gives Us Worth

by Patrina Mosley

March 8, 2019

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

#MeToo and “Every Woman Deserves to Be Believed”

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

Biology

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

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

Womanhood

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

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

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

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

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

The Heart

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

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

The Art of Disagreement

by Travis Weber

March 6, 2019

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

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

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

Brooks continues:

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

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

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

Brooks’ solution for all this?

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

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

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

The Influence of Social Media on Politics

by Peyton Holliday

February 22, 2019

For most of us, social media has become a routine part of our day-to-day lives here in America. This reality is now taking hold in politics as well. Scrolling through social media pages such as Twitter and Instagram, I have seen videos of candidates and elected officials dancing in their offices, visiting the dentist, drinking beer, and all manner of day-to-day life being shared with the public. With videos posted by Beto O’Rourke, Elizabeth Warren, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and others, the political spectrum is changing.

I personally don’t want to see a video of a politician going to the dentist—I would rather see a video of them explaining their stance on abortion or border control. I want to know what the candidate stands for on policy instead of how cool of a dance move they can do. We are losing professionalism in the political world. It seems that we are now electing people because they have nice dance moves or seem relatable on an Instagram video. This makes me wonder—how will our future elections be shaped through social media?

In the 1960 election cycle, well before the era of social media, the debates between JFK and Richard Nixon were televised for the first time in American history. The looks, poise, and smooth actions of JFK helped him to win the votes of millions of Americans. The medium of television set a new precedent for an era in which politicians worried about their image as much as their messaging. These televised debates marked the beginning of a new type of political media that would shape the outcome of elections for years to come.

Now, we are in a new era where the political scene is changing again. Americans can now stay up to date on the day-to-day thoughts and actions of political figures through videos, pictures, and posts on social media. The political landscape is becoming more and more based on marketing and image rather than actual policy positions. If you can market yourself better than your opponent, you have a better chance at winning. If your social media page has millions of followers, you can get more attention than appearing on national television. Candidates don’t even have to set up an interview with a television station to get media coverage anymore—if a social media post goes “viral,” it will be all over both television and the internet.

Social media is clearly a useful way to make candidates more visible to the world. Social media is already shaping the outcome of elections. In future elections, social media will undoubtedly begin to play an even bigger role. Similar to what happened in the 1960 election, the actions, online presence, and relatable image of a candidate can hold more sway than their policy positions in the minds of many social media-addicted voters.

Future elections will be shaped by the online presence of the candidates. As for me, I would rather see candidates use social media to present thoughtful positions on policy issues rather than try to be hip.

Peyton Holliday is an intern at Family Research Council.

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