Tag archives: Religion

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.

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!

SCOTUS Delivers for Religious Schools

by Joseph Backholm

July 10, 2020

The Supreme Court had some misses this term, but not when it comes to religious schools. Two decisions in the past two weeks have greatly improved the landscape for religious education, including Christian education.

In Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the Court said religious schools cannot be excluded from that state’s private school tax-credit program. Previously, the Montana Supreme Court, citing a state constitutional provision known as a Blaine Amendment, said that religious schools could not be the beneficiaries of a public tax benefit—because they are religious. However, the U.S. Supreme Court said that provisions excluding religious schools solely because they are religious violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

In doing so, the Court again emphasized that the Constitution does not require government and religion to remain disconnected in every respect, only that government treat every religious organization and faith similarly.    

The impact of this decision is significant. Currently, 37 states have language similar to Montana’s anti-aid Blaine Amendment. But 26 states have school choice programs in the form of vouchers, tax credits, or education savings accounts. Until last week, parents in most of the 26 state school choice programs were prohibited from using them to attend a Christian school. No longer.

In addition to expanding opportunities for school programs that already exist, parents and churches in states with no school choice laws now have reasons to start that conversation in their state legislature. Not only does this expand options for parents, it provides opportunities for churches to start new schools.   

In the second piece of good news, the Supreme Court affirmed the right of religious schools to make employment decisions free of government intrusion. In Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, former teachers had sued two religious schools claiming that they had been discriminated against when they were released from their jobs. The Court held that the First Amendment prohibited the Court from even hearing the teachers’ claims. Why? Because if a court were to regulate how religious organizations hired and fired, it would effectively be determining how a religious organization is run.

In a 7-2 decision, the Court said such oversight was outside their constitutional jurisdiction. Specifically, they said that these teachers fell under a “ministerial exception” to non-discrimination laws which had previously been used to protect a church’s right to hire and fire ministers. 

As a result of this decision, religious schools may develop a new habit of describing Christian educators as ministers in their employment documents. Regardless, the Supreme Court has again recognized the right of religious organizations to be religious, free from the demands of a swiftly moving cultural tide. 

Providentially, at a moment where the need for cultural renewal has never been greater, the opportunity for Christian education has never been better.

Joseph Backholm is Senior Fellow for Biblical Worldview and Strategic Engagement at Family Research Council.

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.

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of June 28)

by Family Research Council

July 3, 2020

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

1. Washington Update: “History in the Breaking”

When angry mobs tear down our statues and vandalize monuments, is that really “justice?”

2. Washington Update: “Five Justices vs. The People”

Five unelected people are making it impossible for leaders to run their states the way voters see fit.

3. Blog: “Hidden in Plain Sight: How Abortion Erases Black Lives”

George Floyd’s death serves as a clarion call for justice—but can America ever be a truly just nation if we continue to throw away millions of lives simply because someone says they aren’t worth living? 

4. Blog: “How Do We Authentically Love Our LGBT-Identifying Neighbors?”

Pride Month forces Christians to examine themselves. Are we actually preaching the gospel, which combines truth and love?

5. Blog: “A Loss for Women and Children at the Supreme Court”

With women and children’s lives on the line, Justice Roberts chose to adhere to a precedent he acknowledges is wrong.

6. Washington WatchKen Blackwell says racism isn’t responsible for our chaos, the lack of local leadership is

Ken Blackwell, FRC’s Senior Fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the Left’s betrayal of black Americans.

7. Washington WatchAllen West asks if anyone remembers George Floyd, because the destruction is beyond his cause

Allen West, former Florida congressman, retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, and author of Hold Texas, Hold the Nation, joined Tony Perkins to discuss President Trump’s executive order protecting American history.

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!

Befriending Our Opponents: A Tale of Two Presidents

by Worth Loving

July 2, 2020

In the midst of the current political divisions gripping our nation, it’s difficult to find close friendships between people with opposing viewpoints. It seems we are divided on every issue, with each side digging their heels in more and more and little hope of solving America’s greatest problems.

In such times, many are asking if there is any hope of finding common ground. I have often found it difficult to form meaningful friendships with people whom I disagree with on fundamental issues like life, family, and religious freedom. But may I suggest that friendship is exactly what we need to bring us together? What if we could form genuine relationships with those on the other side to make our nation better together? Two of our most famous Founding Fathers had significant political differences that nearly ended their friendship. Yet they persevered, giving us the beautiful story of reconciliation that we have today.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson first met in Philadelphia at the Second Continental Congress of 1775. A year later, they worked together on the committee tasked with drafting the Declaration of Independence, whose 244th anniversary we celebrate this weekend. In the 1780s, Adams and Jefferson worked together on diplomatic assignments in England and France, managing to find some time for leisure during their demanding duties as ambassadors. Over the years, they became close friends, corresponding by letter often when they were separated.

On politics, however, the two could not be more opposite and frequently debated their differences. In fact, their disagreements sometimes became personal and often tested their friendship. Adams, a devout member of the Federalist Party, favored a strong central government, a national bank, and close relations with Great Britain. On the other hand, Jefferson, an ardent Democrat-Republican, favored states’ rights, reduced government spending, greater relations with France, and westward expansion. Despite their passionate political differences, their close friendship continued for many years.

However, circumstances changed in 1801. Adams was still president but had just lost his bid for reelection in a bitter battle against Jefferson. In the final hours of his presidency before Jefferson took office, Adams made a number of last-minute judicial and bureaucratic appointments—appointees who were loyal Federalists and would oppose the incoming administration, making it extremely difficult for Jefferson to govern effectively. In fact, Jefferson later wrote that they “were selected from among my most ardent political enemies.” This political disagreement proved to be the severest test of their friendship, and the two ceased correspondence for the next decade.

After Jefferson retired from the presidency in 1809, Dr. Benjamin Rush took it upon himself to act as an arbiter and rekindle the friendship between Adams and Jefferson. However, it took two years until he was able to convince the two to resume their friendship. When one of Jefferson’s neighbors visited Adams in 1811, Adams is reported to have said: “I have always loved Jefferson, and still love him.” Upon hearing this report from his neighbor, Jefferson wrote Dr. Rush: “This is enough for me. I only needed this knowledge to revive towards him all the affections of the most cordial moments of our lives.” At Dr. Rush’s persuading, he convinced Adams to renew his correspondence with Jefferson. The two continued to write each other often until their deaths 15 years later.

Reconciliation often makes broken relationships stronger than they were before, and so it did with Adams and Jefferson. In the years following their renewed friendship, a rich correspondence commenced between the two, reminiscing about the past, discussing current events, and looking forward to what lay ahead.

On July 4, 1826, 50 years to the day after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson died at Monticello in the rolling hills of Virginia. A few hours later, John Adams passed at his home in Massachusetts. His family reported that the last dying words he spoke were “Thomas Jefferson lives,” not knowing that his dear friend had died hours earlier.  

In today’s polarizing political climate, it’s easy to see the “other side” as enemies, with the strong desire to convince those on the fence that our ideas are better. That is not to diminish our differences in worldviews. Without a doubt, liberals and conservatives both have two very different ideas for the future of America. But, on this July 4th, perhaps we can learn a lesson from two of our greatest Founding Fathers. They didn’t ignore their differences as if they didn’t exist, but they didn’t allow those differences to interfere with forming a lifelong friendship. Likewise, we don’t have to set aside our differences either because that won’t make them disappear. Being friendly isn’t abandoning your principles. Perhaps this July 4th can be different if we don’t let those differences get in the way of crossing the street and talking to our neighbor. After all, we are celebrating our nation’s independence and the freedom we have to be different.

Furthermore, as Christians, there are several biblical commands that are easy to forget in the divisive times in which we live. First, we must remember that those with whom we disagree are not the enemy. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:12 (ESV) that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Second, Christians are commanded to love our enemies and pray for them (Matthew 5:44). Third, Scripture tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves, whether we agree with them or not (Matthew 22:39). Last, wherever God’s spirit is, there is freedom (2 Cor. 3:17). By embracing reconciliation with others, we not only encourage freedom but we also invite God’s spirit to dwell among us.

We often quote the first sentence of the second paragraph in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” But we miss the weight of its last sentence: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” The signers of the Declaration no doubt had significant political differences and widely varying ideas for the future of the young nation. But they did not let those differences hinder them from forming friendships or from their ultimate goal—independence and freedom for all. These 56 men, firmly trusting in God, were willing to give up everything—their careers, possessions, and even their very lives—for the sake of freedom. Two of our future presidents—John Adams and Thomas Jefferson—both put aside their differences when they signed their names to that sacred document.

What we need in America right now is a good dose of civility and genuine friendships. Sure, there is a time and place to discuss the future of our great republic—a discussion we will continue to have and fiercely debate. But, this weekend, maybe we can take a break from debating on social media, protesting, or grasping for the next news hit and simply focus on loving our neighbor.

Let’s remember to celebrate our independence this weekend and the freedom it gives us to debate and be different. But let’s also not forget the opportunity we have to reach across the aisle and love our neighbor.

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of June 21)

by Family Research Council

June 26, 2020

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

1. Washington Update: “Virginia Is for Snoopers”

Governor Ralph Northam is urging people to file a complaint against anyone they see who isn’t following social distance guidelines, the mask mandate, or overcrowding their establishments.

2. Washington Update: “This Equality’s All an Act”

The Left is pushing for the passage of the Equality Act, saying their motivation is to end discrimination. We all want that, but not when “ending discrimination” means a drag queen in every library, a man in every girls’ restroom, or an atheist teacher in every Christian school.

3. Publication: “Leadership and Love: A Tale of Two Fathers”

There has never been a greater need for godly men and fathers than the age in which we live. This resource provides an understanding of what children need from their fathers to become emotionally healthy and spiritually strong. 

4. Blog: “Why Bostock Will Never Have the Final Word On Human Sexuality”

Christians continue to face mounting pressure to compromise on the Bible’s teaching on marriage and sexuality. However, we cannot compromise our beliefs because we are committed to Scripture.

5. Blog: “The Threat of Genocide Darkens the Future for Nigeria’s Christians”

Today, a dangerous darkness—radical Islamism and its genocidal intentions—is sweeping across the African continent. And it is particularly lethal in Nigeria, Africa’s largest nation.

6. Washington WatchWalt Heyer says the truth about transgenderism is what drives platforms like YouTube to censor him

Walt Heyer, public speaker, author, and publisher of SexChangeRegret.com and his blog, WaltHeyer.com, joined Tony Perkins to discuss YouTube censoring his story that shared his regrets about living a transgender life.

7. Washington WatchDavid Closson offers a biblical perspective on the purging of certain U.S. historical figures

David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview, joined Tony Perkins to discuss a biblical response to the radical movement to erase American history with the destruction of statues and renaming of important landmarks.

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!

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