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California’s AB 493: The Very Definition of Indoctrination

by Matt Carpenter

August 6, 2019

The dictionary defines “indoctrination” as “the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.” The California legislature is considering a piece of legislation that fits that description exactly: AB 493, or the “teacher indoctrination bill.”

Under the guise of creating a “safer environment” for students, AB 493 would require every junior high and high school teacher in the state to undergo training written by LGBT activist groups. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. This bill requires California teachers to perform “sustained input and participation,” affirmation of LGBT identities, and requires teachers to refer their students to LGBT activist groups in the community.

Anytime a person’s “sustained input and participation” is required, it can aptly be described as indoctrination, even more so when someone’s job is on the line. The changes AB 493 would make to teacher training in California clearly amounts to state-sponsored indoctrination.

Earlier this year, concerned parents and students in California rallied in opposition to the state’s new sexually explicit health curriculum, but now the legislature is taking it a step further by considering the teacher indoctrination bill.

Many parents today are rightfully concerned about school curriculums that seek to indoctrinate their children with leftist agendas rife with sexual anarchy that run counter to biblical values. Children, after all, are impressionable and parents are right to question school curriculum especially when what their children are being taught directly contradicts what they teach their children in their homes.

AB 493 would force Christian junior high and high school teachers to affirm LGBT identities despite a lack of beneficial medical evidence and which are counter to their personal beliefs about sex and sexuality. This bill presents a real religious liberty threat to people of faith who simply want to teach children, not become activists for LGBT organizations.

Unfortunately, this training has already been implemented in one California school district. Teachers in the state are already being shamed for their belief about sex and sexuality. One teacher described her experience:

Many times we were asked harsh questions and asked to raise our hands,” the first-grade teacher explained. Questions included, “Were you raised to only believe there are two genders? Did your parents ever discuss choices to you of gender?”

Teachers who admitted their parents had a binary/biblical view of gender were told how wrong and backward those views were. “I was truly offended knowing my parents raised me in a solid Christian home,” the teacher wrote. “I know my parents were outstanding parents. I was also blessed to attend a wonderful church.”

Teachers also received instructions on keeping secrets from parents. “It was shared with us that when a child tells us they are transgender, gay, or want to be the opposite sex we are not allowed to share it with their parents,” the teacher explained. The preferred name and pronoun of the student should be used, but “it should be kept private until the child is ready to share it with the parents.”

To be sure, everyone is an image-bearer of God and should be treated with dignity and respect, including junior high and high school students who identify as LGBT. Everyone should have access to a learning environment free of harassment, including teachers who hold a biblical view of sex, sexuality, and marriage.

If the California legislature implements this change to teacher training, they will find themselves harming the dignity of teachers with sincerely-held religious beliefs to pay for the LGBT activism in junior high and high schools. Ultimately, AB 493 amounts to nothing more than a displacement of harassment—not the eradication of it.

Fortunately, there is still time. Soon the California Senate Appropriations committee will meet to discuss AB 493. Take a stand for California teachers. Click here to email the California Senate Committee on Appropriations and tell them you oppose the indoctrination of California’s teachers!

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Prostitution and Abortion: The Exploitation of Women and Children

by Abigail Moreno-Riano

June 26, 2019

                                                                    

Earlier this year, the state of New York legalized abortion up until birth, and the governor and abortion activists then proceeded to celebrate this loss of life as a joyous occasion. Now, another crisis of human dignity was narrowly averted after New York came close to passing the first ever complete decriminalization of prostitution.

While Nevada is the only other state to legalize forms of prostitution, New York’s bill is the most extensive bill that has ever been introduced, and as these authors noted, “would only turn mostly women and girls into ‘commodities to be bought and sold.’” Thankfully, this bill has been tabled for now, but there is no doubt that pro-prostitution activists will continue to push for more decriminalization legislation in the future.

The Dignity of Every Life

We are pro-life because we believe each person is made in the image of God and therefore, whether man, woman, or unborn child, each person is worthy of dignity and respect. It is not what one does that allows a person to earn the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but rather, who a person is that endows them with these dignities. This belief is founded on the truth that God created male and female in his own image, as stated in Genesis 1:27.

It is here that we see human dignity does not just apply to men, but to women as well. This seems like an obvious statement, but in a world where the businesses of porn, prostitution, and sex trafficking increasingly degrade and destroy a woman’s perception of herself (not to mention a man’s perception of women) until she no longer sees herself as human but as an object, the dignity of women must be called out and fought for. As we fight for babies to be treated with dignity, so should we for women.

Women advocating for this bill, like sponsor Sen. Julia Salazar, argued it is because of their concern for the “rights” of women entrapped in prostitution and their desire for these women “to be treated with dignity and to be treated like human beings” that they support this bill. It is here that we see that the core of their advocacy is a misconstrued understanding of human dignity. The abortion and prostitution industries survive by encouraging and empowering this misconstrued understanding of human dignity, masking exploitation under the guise of “freedom.”

The Cycle of Degredation

As the cycles of pornography, sex trafficking, prostitution, and abortion continue, they are only fed by laws that seek to legalize their exploitative behavior. For too long, men who seek their own advantage have shown through their actions and attitudes towards women that their version of “liberty” comes from selfishness and “sheer self-will.”

This distorted understanding of freedom has been taken up by the Feminist movement, through which women seek to remedy exploitation by fighting for equal rights, as they should, but with the wrong tactics. Their view of freedom makes room for the belief that women are empowered by their ability to receive an abortion, but these avenues only allow exploitation to continue in the degradation of the unborn.

As Edmund Burke wrote, true freedom “is not solitary, unconnected, individual, selfish liberty, as if every man was to regulate the whole of his conduct by his own will.” True freedom exists not by selfish indulgence, but by “equality of restraint,” in which no person can “find means to trespass on the liberty” of any other person but every person is respected and respects others because of their inherent worth and value.

The cycle of degrading human dignity must end, and it starts with the woman understanding that her inherent value and worth is not dependent on the usefulness of her body. If women continue to allow themselves to be exploited, they allow men to degrade their worth and see abuse as the norm. The pro-life movement rightly seeks to help women value their babies as people, not as objects. But until women see themselves as inherently valuable and not as objects, they’ll never see their babies as more than the same.

Attorneys from Sanctuary for Families spoke out against decriminalizing prostitution, calling out prostitution as “an industry of abuse and violence which profits from the commodification of human beings,” adding, “The answer is not making it legal to pimp or buy sex. The answer is ensuring that we respect the full equality and dignity of every human.”

Ending the Industries of Exploitation

A woman is not valuable because of the desirability of her body, she is valuable because she is made in the image of God. Period. Until women start seeing themselves as dignified and worthy of more, they will only allow exploitation to continue. When women understand the inherent dignity that they possess, they are empowered to view their unborn children with the same dignity.

Laws that restrain abortion and prostitution do not imply that women are subservient to men. Rather, they demonstrate that women and unborn babies are equal and possess inherent dignity, and are therefore deserving of respect, while forcibly suppressing the industries of exploitation. Therefore, we must continue to fight for the dignity and protection of all, particularly women and unborn children, by upholding both anti-prostitution and pro-life laws.

Abigail Moreno-Riano is an intern at Family Research Council.

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Terri Schiavo and the Slippery Slope of Assisted Suicide

by Worth Loving

May 23, 2019


I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect.” -The Hippocratic Oath

On March 31, 2005, Terri Schiavo died after nearly 14 days without food or water. Over 14 years have passed since her court-ordered death by starvation and dehydration. Even as I write this, Vincent Lambert, dubbed the “French Terri Schiavo,” is facing the same death that she faced unless the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities intervenes. Recently, a so-called “right-to-die” or “death with dignity” bill was passed by the New Jersey legislature and signed by Governor Phil Murphy. In Maryland, a similar bill passed the House of Delegates but failed in the state Senate by one vote. Last month, the Nevada legislature defeated a bill that would have legalized assisted suicide. Amid the renewed debate on such legislation, it’s important to understand the implications of such laws and how the story of Terri Schiavo relates to them.

Terri Schiavo’s Story – Timeline of Events

In the early morning of February 25, 1990, Terri Schiavo collapsed at her home in St. Petersburg, Florida. Although no diagnosis was made, her medical records indicate a deprivation of oxygen to the brain. After being placed on a ventilator for the first few weeks following her collapse, it was soon removed, and she was able to breathe on her own for the rest of her life. The collapse left Terri with limited ability to communicate or move. Due to difficulty swallowing, a feeding tube was inserted to keep her nourished and hydrated.

In June of 1990, Terri’s husband, Michael, was granted healthcare power of attorney status because Terri had not designated a healthcare power of attorney in the event she could not speak for herself. She also began physical therapy at a rehabilitation facility in Florida where she would say words like “No,” “Stop,” and “Mommy.” In July of 1991, Terri’s physical therapy sessions were mysteriously stopped. This was the last documented therapy that Terri ever received.

In 1998, the fight for Terri’s life began. With the help of right-to-die attorney George Felos, Michael Schiavo filed a petition to withdraw life support. Judge George W. Greer heard Michael Schiavo’s petition in January of 2000. In his testimony, Michael Schiavo stated that Terri had told him in the 1980s that she would not want life support. Convinced by the testimony, Judge Greer ordered that Terri’s feeding tube be removed. On February 11, 2000, Terri’s parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, appealed the order to the Second District Court of Appeals, which agreed with Judge Greer’s ruling. Both the Florida Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear their case.

On April 21, 2001, Judge Greer’s order was carried out and Terri’s feeding tube was removed. But after over 60 hours without food and water, a judge issued an injunction, allowing the feeding tube to be reinserted. Judge Frank Quesada ordered that Terri’s case be reheard based on new evidence. In October, Judge Greer denied a Motion for Relief from Judgment filed by Terri’s parents based on new evidence and testimony that Terri’s neurological condition had improved. After Terri’s parents appealed the ruling, Judge Greer was forced to hold a medical evidentiary hearing.

In October 2002, Judge Greer held the medical evidentiary trial. Florida law defined a persistent vegetative state as the “total absence of awareness and ability to communicate.” However, Terri did not meet this definition as she was able to, albeit on a very basic level, respond to her surroundings and communicate with her family. Judge Greer ignored this evidence and ordered her feeding tube removed once again, at the mandate of the Second District Court of Appeals.

Terri’s story gained nationwide attention in October 2003 after Judge Greer had ordered her feeding tube to be removed. At least 180,000 people had signed a petition to Governor Jeb Bush, requesting that he invoke Florida’s Adult Protection Custody statutes based on allegations of neglect. Five days later, Governor Bush called a special session of the Florida legislature. Both the Florida House and Senate passed Terri’s Law, granting Bush the authority to order Terri’s feeding tube to be reinserted.

Michael Schiavo’s right-to-die attorney George Felos immediately challenged the constitutionality of the law. Judge Baird of the Sixth Circuit ruled Terri’s Law unconstitutional on May 5, 2004. His ruling was upheld by the Florida Supreme Court, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

Terri’s feeding tube was removed for the third and final time on March 18, 2005 at the order of Judge Greer. In a rare weekend session, Congress passed the Relief of the Parents of Theresa Marie Schiavo Act, which allowed Terri’s parents to have a federal court review their case. Robert and Mary Schindler’s subsequent request was denied by both U.S. District Court Judge James Whittemore and the U.S. Supreme Court.

At 9:05 a.m. on March 31, 2005, Terri Schiavo died from severe dehydration. But Terri’s story did not end there—it was only the beginning. Her death ignited a powerful movement to save thousands of other Americans like her.

Death Without Dignity

The so-called “right-to-die” or “death with dignity” movement has established a powerful influence, particularly in the medical community. They have been able to successfully reclassify a feeding tube as “medical treatment,” making it somehow acceptable to starve and dehydrate an innocent human being to death even though we all need food and water to survive. But perhaps even more disturbing is how they have convinced the general public that some people’s lives are not worth living because of their age, illness, or disability.  

The effectiveness of the death with dignity movement, coupled with changes in public policy, now puts the lives of many people like Terri in the hands of doctors, medical boards, and ethics committees. In other words, families are being completely removed from the decision-making process of what care their family member should receive.

Contrary to the picture painted by Michael Schiavo’s attorney, right-to-die advocates, and the mainstream media, Terri Schiavo’s death was anything but “peaceful and painless.” After nearly two weeks without food or water, Terri’s lips were extremely cracked and blistered. Her skin began turning different shades of yellow and blue. Her breathing became shallow and rapid, and her moaning indicated the excruciating pain she was experiencing. Her face became extremely thin and bony, with her teeth protruding forward. Blood began to pool in her deeply sunken eyes.

This is the way Terri Schiavo died. Anyone who calls this type of death “peaceful and painless” is either ignorant or lying. There is a reason the court ordered no cameras or video in Terri’s room—they wanted to hide the truth and conceal a murder.

The Spread of Assisted Suicide and Its Slippery Slope

Laws decriminalizing assisted suicide are gaining traction. Currently, seven states plus the District of Columbia allow physician-assisted suicide. In 2009, the Montana Supreme Court ruled that nothing in state law prevented a physician from helping a terminally ill, fully aware patient commit suicide. Twenty states are debating such legislation this year alone. And while right-do-die advocates argue that these laws allow people to die with dignity, the case of Terri Schiavo proves otherwise.

Assisted suicide laws put the United States on a very slippery slope, a slope that will ultimately lead to more cases like Terri Schiavo. Most “death with dignity” laws require a doctor’s prognosis of six months or less to live in order to administer drugs that will end the patient’s life. And although doctors have far more knowledge than the average person, a prognosis is still an educated guess. That person could live weeks, months, or even years after their predicted death date. In short, assisted suicide laws could kill people who have a lot of life left to live.

Furthermore, assisted suicide opens the door to euthanasia. Assisted suicide always requires the patient’s consent and participation to hasten death, whether by taking lethal drugs or other means. Euthanasia, on the other hand, does not require the patient’s participation but can be administered completely by a doctor. Even more disturbing, not all euthanasia is voluntary. Some patients are euthanized without the consent of themselves or their family.

For example, last month, Fairview Hospital in Edina, Minnesota had threatened to remove oxygen from Catie Cassidy, a 64-year-old lung cancer patient who would have suffocated to death without oxygen. In video documented by the Life Legal and Defense Foundation, Cassidy clearly states that she wants to live. Thankfully, the Life Legal and Defense Foundation won her case and she continues to receive oxygen. But Catie Cassidy’s story represents what will happen when patient consent is disregarded and families are excluded from end-of-life decisions. As the government takes over more and more of the health care sector, they will naturally be more involved in the decision-making process. What is stopping governments from passing laws to weed out the disabled, elderly, or terminally ill—people who some would say cannot contribute anything to society?

In fact, this is already happening. Oregon, ironically the first state to legalize assisted suicide in the U.S., passed a law last year allowing patients with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other mental illnesses to be starved and dehydrated to death. If the patient had not previously given directions about their healthcare (known as a “contrary advanced directive”) should they become mentally impaired, this bill now allows caretakers to deprive the patient of food and water. Countries that have had assisted suicide for years now—like Canada and the Netherlands—are now looking to expand their laws to allow for more and more assisted suicides, even for those who haven’t requested it. This is eerily reminiscent of the eugenics espoused by Charles Darwin and put into practice by Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. It is also the premise upon which Margaret Sanger founded Planned Parenthood. America, the freest nation in the world, will cease to be free if it embraces these philosophies.  

Life is Precious at All Stages

Who are we to decide when a person should die or when a life is not worth living? Just because a person cannot care for themselves doesn’t mean they can’t contribute something to society, as Terri Schiavo’s life so clearly demonstrated. All life is precious and created in the image of God. We all have something to contribute, regardless of our age, disability, illness, or prognosis. As a nation that boasts of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” we must protect life at all stages—from conception until natural death.

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The Religious Freedom of Public Officials Is Under Attack. These Three Aren’t Backing Down.

by Worth Loving

May 15, 2019


The liberty to worship our Creator in the way we think most agreeable to His will is a liberty deemed in other countries incompatible with good government and yet proved by our experience to be its best support.” - Thomas Jefferson

Often called America’s “first freedom,” religious freedom was key to our founding. In fact, it’s no accident that the Founders listed it as the first freedom in the Bill of Rights. It was the reason the Pilgrims made the treacherous journey across the Atlantic—to escape persecution and establish a haven of religious freedom.

In both their public and private lives, the American Founders were not shy about expressing their faith. But today, there is a growing movement to silence the religious expression of public officials, particularly Christians. On Easter Sunday, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, a born-again Christian, posted John 11:25 on his government social media accounts. The verse reads, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live.’” Next to the picture was the caption “He is risen! Have a happy and blessed Easter!” The Arizona Republic quickly denounced the post as a violation of the separation of church and state, arguing that Gov. Ducey cannot use his government social media accounts to promote a particular religion. Yet when former President Obama wished everyone a “Happy Ramadan” in 2013 and 2015 from his official White House account, he was never criticized for endorsing Islam.

But Gov. Ducey isn’t the only public official who has faced such unfair scrutiny. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was attacked a few days prior for his comments about a Christian ministry. At a fundraiser for Capitol Ministries, an organization whose sole mission is to reach every public servant with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Bridenstine gave a few words of praise for the ministry: “I love what Ralph said earlier: We’re not trying to Christianize the US government. We believe in an institutional separation, but we also believe in influence. And that’s a big distinction and an important distinction, and that’s why I love this ministry.” Once again, leftist groups were quick to denounce Bridenstine’s comments, claiming that he used his government position to endorse a religion and violated the Establishment Clause. Yet these groups were strangely silent when former President Obama spoke at fundraisers for Planned Parenthood and even called for God’s blessing on the abortion giant.

The Left won’t even leave the Second Lady alone. In January, Karen Pence was lambasted for teaching at a Christian school that holds to a biblical view of sexuality, meaning that individuals who identify as LGBT are prohibited from working at the school. Apparently, the Left believes any association with Christianity by a public official is tantamount to violating the Establishment Clause.

It seems the Left is intent on silencing Christians who hold public office from expressing their faith. However, they seem to conveniently forget that our nation was founded on freedom of religious expression and that our Founding Fathers actively exercised that freedom while holding public office. In fact, as President, George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson all called for national days of prayer. In the states, many governors including Samuel Adams, Elbridge Gerry, John Hancock, Caleb Strong, and Jonathan Trumbull all called for days of prayer and repentance.

Furthermore, the First Amendment is clear that there should be “no law respecting an establishment of religion.” This was directly in reference to the Church of England, which the former British colonies were required to support and attend. Under the new Constitution, Americans were free to support or not support the religion of their choice without any fear of government repercussion—and they don’t forfeit this right just because they serve in public office. It is just silly to claim that the comments and actions of Gov. Ducey, Jim Bridenstine, and the Second Lady “established” a religion.

One doesn’t leave their religion behind when they are elected or appointed to a government office. Yes, public officials are rightfully held to a higher standard. But one’s faith remains just as much a part of him or her as it was before, and we remain free to express it while holding public office.  

Gov. Ducey was quick to respond to his critics and showed no intentions of backing down: “We won’t be removing this post. Ever. Nor will we be removing our posts for Christmas, Hanukkah, Rosh Hashanah, Palm Sunday, Passover, or any other religious holiday. We support the First Amendment and are happy to provide copies of the Constitution to anyone who hasn’t read it.” Responding to The Arizona Republic, Ducey said: “With respect to your ‘experts,’ people don’t lose the right to free speech when they run for office. So, no, we STILL won’t be taking the post down. Not now, not ever.”

Gov. Ducey is right—it might do the Left some good to read the Constitution. They’ll be surprised to find that “separation of church and state,” which they are so quick to espouse, is found nowhere in the Constitution. In fact, it is from a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1801 to a Baptist church congregation from Danbury, Connecticut—and the letter states just the opposite of what the Left calls for today. A committee from the church had written a letter to President-elect Jefferson, congratulating him on his election and urging him to protect religious freedom. President Jefferson wrote “that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God.” Jefferson assured the Danbury Baptists of his commitment to protecting the freedom of religion. He went on to quote the establishment clause and that it had built “a wall of separation between church and state.” Jefferson still made public expressions of faith as president but never came close to establishing a religion as defined by the First Amendment.

The Left’s double standard is unbelievable. While advocating for tolerance, they demand that every public official submit to their agenda. Those that do not face a complete sabotage of their career. Because of this, attacks like the ones on Gov. Ducey, Jim Bridenstine, and Karen Pence will continue to escalate on Christians in public office. Like Gov. Ducey, we must be ready with swift responses. The key to preserving our freedoms—including religious freedom for public officials—lies in exercising them. If we don’t exercise those rights, we will lose them. But as long as we keep fighting, religious liberty will remain alive and well.

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The Power of Pro-Life Citizen Involvement

by Anna Longbons

April 17, 2019

Does grassroots activism even work? Every time a controversial bill is considered, and every time election season comes around, Americans are encouraged to get involved at the grassroots level. We are told that every vote counts. We are told that every election has consequences. But does citizen participation make a difference, or can we only effect change from the top down?

Citizen Activism Produces Pro-Life Victories

Several pro-life victories show the power of ordinary Americans taking action for the issues they care about. Although she was only 15 years old, Lila Rose began standing against Planned Parenthood through investigative reporting. Due in part to her efforts, the government has cut $60 million in Planned Parenthood support, and 8 states have stopped funding from going to the abortion giant. Similarly, Abby Johnson quit her Planned Parenthood career and made it her mission to rescue other abortion workers from the industry. Thanks to her organization, And Then There Were None, 400 abortion workers have left. Another 1 percent of American abortion workers quit after seeing Johnson’s autobiographical film Unplanned.

Voting for Pro-Life Candidates Saves Lives

Voting for pro-life candidates also yields powerful pro-life victories. When Iowa voters elected pro-life officials who defunded Planned Parenthood, one third of the state’s Planned Parenthood locations closed. In Bettendorf, Iowa, the pro-life Women’s Choice Center moved into Planned Parenthood’s old building, redeeming a tragic location with compassion and care. Since pro-life legislators passed the Hyde amendment, the Charlotte Lozier Institute reveals that 2.13 million humans have been saved from abortion. On the flip side, after Illinois legalized taxpayer-funded abortions for state employees and Medicaid recipients, the number of taxpayer-funded abortions rose by 274 percent.  

Every Vote Counts

For pro-life candidates to get into office, they need pro-life voters to turn out at the polling places. In the 2018 midterm elections, several right-leaning candidates won by less than 1 percent. During the Florida Senate race, Rick Scott (R) defeated Bill Nelson (D) by a 0.12 percent margin of victory. In Georgia’s 7th district, Rob Woodall (R) secured a victory with only 419 votes. Will Hurd (R) won in Texas’ 23rd district by 926 votes, while Chris Collins (R) defeated Nate McMurray by only 1,087 votes. In April 2019, conservative judge Brian Hagedorn won an upset Wisconsin Supreme Court seat by 5,960 votes, equaling 0.4 percent of the vote.

Communicating with Legislators Influences Policy

Like the pro-life activists, home school advocates have achieved critical grassroots victories. In California, Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Colorado, so many homeschoolers protested and made phone calls that legislators changed their minds about considering anti-homeschool legislation.

Forging relationships and staying in contact with elected officials furthers family policy in powerful ways. The Congressional Management Foundation reported that only 9 percent of House staffers get “information about the impact the bill/issue would have on the district or state,” but 91 percent would appreciate the information. Another 79 percent value “personal story from a constituent related to the bill or issue.” A mere 18 percent of them hear such stories, though. 79 percent of them also recommended “meet or get to know the Legislative Assistant with jurisdiction over their issue area.” The vast majority reported that “in-person visits from constituents” can help to sway undecided congresspeople. Even if citizens cannot visit congressional offices in person, they can interact with staff online. “Thirty or fewer similar comments on a social media post are enough to get an office’s attention,” according to another study from the Congressional Management Foundation.

When citizens engage on the issues they are passionate about and become involved in the political process, change happens. Activists like Abby Johnson and Lila Rose prove that concerned citizens can make a critical difference. Calling our legislators, showing up for demonstrations, and voting our values will help to determine the course America takes in the years ahead.

Anna Longbons is an intern with FRC Action.

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A True Blue Congress

by Worth Loving

March 14, 2019

Without a doubt, life, family, and religious freedom are under an unprecedented all-out assault in our nation. Many left-leaning states are following New York’s lead and further undermining the right to life. Others are embracing various aspects of the radical transgender agenda by forcing it on schools, businesses, and non-profit organizations. And, the fundamental building block of any successful society—the family—is under vicious attack from all fronts.

Despite that reality, Congress is actually more pro-life, pro-family, and pro-religious freedom than ever before. Each year, FRC Action releases our congressional scorecard, grading members of Congress on how they vote on a number of bills, nominations, and resolutions related to our core issues of faith, family, and freedom. Members who score 100 percent are named our “True Blue” members and invited to receive an award at our annual reception on Capitol Hill. Our most recent scorecard included votes on the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, judicial nominees, and Planned Parenthood, among others.

This year, we set a record for the most True Blue members of Congress ever. A record 276 members of the House and the Senate received a True Blue award for their 100 percent rating on our congressional scorecard. That’s over half of Congress that stands 100 percent for life, family, and religious freedom! On February 28, many of these members joined us at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, D.C. for our annual True Blue reception. Each member had the chance to receive an award and speak with our president, Tony Perkins. FRC Action staff also had the opportunity to talk to each member and thank them for standing with us on the foundational values of life, family, and religious freedom.

At a time when life, family, and religious freedom are being ferociously attacked, it’s refreshing to see so many members of Congress who are 100 percent committed to standing with us and fighting every day for the unborn, the family, and the persecuted. This is further evidence that our election efforts each year are paying off! Check out our scorecard to see if your members of Congress support faith, family, and freedom. If not, contact them and tell them to start standing for our shared values right away. Also, check out our Twitter page to see what our True Blue members had to say about the work of FRC Action and about standing for life, family, and religious liberty at such an important time in our nation’s history.

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Standing Against Religious Persecution in Communist Countries

by Anna Longbons

March 8, 2019

Bob Fu from China Aid recently joined a panel discussion at FRC to highlight the religious freedom abuses transpiring in China. Similarly, President Trump’s recent summit with Kim Jong Un brought renewed attention to the humanitarian and religious liberty crisis in North Korea. Both Chinese and North Korean citizens live under communist regimes. Although much of communism dissipated when the Iron Curtain fell away, it still survives in five countries, including North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, China, and Cuba. In all five nations, people of faith suffer persecution.

Divided Allegiance

To live as a Christian in a communist nation is to live with competing loyalties. Communism demands allegiance, but so does Christ. Because religion threatens their authority, communists regulate religion or try to abolish it altogether.

Historically, communism and atheism have worked hand in glove. Marx famously referred to religion as “the opium of the people,” while Lenin asserted that “a Marxist must be a materialist, i.e., an enemy of religion.” More recently, the Communist Party of China has reiterated that all party members must ascribe to an atheistic worldview.

International Christian Concern lists Marxist persecution as one of the top three forms of religious persecution. Likewise, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) groups all five communist nations on its top two tiers of religious hostility. Many conservatives object to communism for economic and political reasons. However, the tie between Marxism and religious persecution gives Christians added reason to learn about and stand against communism and the accompanying persecution that these regimes inflict on people of faith.

North Korea

USCIRF reports thatthe North Korean government’s approach toward religion and belief is among the most hostile and repressive in the world.” Open Doors lists North Korea as the top country for Christian persecution on its world watch list. In North Korea, the government mandates the worship of the ruling Kim family. Because of the government’s hostility toward religion, many believers hide their faith to defend themselves and their families. Believers face arrest, prison, and death because of their faith.

Vietnam

Like North Korea, Vietnam also ranks as a Country of Particular Concern with USCIRF. Open Doors reports that although believers enjoy greater liberty in Vietnam than in North Korea, they still live with the risk of persecution. Believers encounter both racial and religious oppression. They also suffer attacks from gangs that may be state-sponsored. 

Laos

In nearby Laos, Christians also face persecution. USCIRF reports that “the Lao government tightly manages religious groups much in the same way it controls any individual or group it perceives could deviate from the state’s agenda or who expresses dissent or criticism.”

China

The Chinese Communist Party took a more direct role in governing religion in 2017, which triggered a subsequent increase in religious persecution. China Aid reports that “more than 1,000,000 people were persecuted in 2018, which is three-and-a-half times more than those recorded in 2017. Of those, more than 10,000 church leaders were persecuted, which is five times greater than those recorded in 2017.” China Aid’s 2018 annual report chronicles case after case of heightened persecution in China, from churches being demolished to school children being questioned for their faith.

Cuba

The Office of Religious Affairs in Cuba works for the Cuban Communist Party, giving the communists great authority over believers. According to USCIRF, “the government continues to interfere in religious groups’ internal affairs and actively limits, controls, and monitors their religious practice, access to information, and communications through a restrictive system of laws and policies, surveillance, and harassment.” A number of religious groups spoke out recently against the new constitution being proposed for the country, which would curtail religious freedom.

Protecting Religious Freedom Through Education, Donation, and Prayer

Christians can stand against communist persecution by educating themselves, praying for those affected by persecution, and supporting human rights advocacy organizations. Through education, Americans can better understand and influence our foreign policy regarding these communist nations. Christians can also donate to advocacy organizations who are working on the ground to provide material and spiritual aid to the persecuted, such as China Aid, Voice of the Martyrs, Open Doors, and International Christian Concern. These organizations also offer information that equips Christians to pray for the specific needs of their suffering brothers and sisters around the world.

Christianity threatens communism, because communism depends upon citizens’ brainwashed, undivided loyalty. However, Christianity bolsters democracy, because democracy rests on natural law and personal freedom. Therefore, preserving democracy means preserving religious freedom, while standing against communism means standing against oppression. By opposing communism worldwide through education, financial support, and prayer, we support our brothers and sisters and safeguard our own country. 

More information on the persecuted church can be found at FRC’s Remember the Persecuted webpage.

Anna Longbons is an intern with FRC Action.

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On the Fighting Side of Life

by Worth Loving

March 5, 2019

On January 22, 2019, the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Reproductive Health Act, one of the most radical late-term abortion laws in the nation. A few days later when asked about a similar bill proposed in the Virginia House of Delegates, Governor Ralph Northam went a step further by advocating for infanticide. The actions in New York and Virginia have since spawned a domino effect throughout the nation, with liberal politicians in several other states proposing their own radical abortion bills.

Responding to the mad rush to legalize late-term abortion and infanticide, Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) introduced the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, a bill designed to protect babies born alive from botched abortions. Sadly, when this legislation came up for a vote in the Senate last week, 44 Democrats voted against it. Furthermore, Democrats have blocked 11 requests for unanimous consent on this legislation, 10 times in the House of Representatives and once in the Senate. The second vote in the Senate last week was to end debate on the bill and force a vote. That’s right, Democrats have voted against protecting babies born alive from botched abortions 12 times.

Despite these setbacks, we are fortunate to have many members of Congress willing to fight for life, no matter the political repercussions. Last week, Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-Ala.) stopped by our Washington, D.C. headquarters to discuss how she and her colleagues in the House and Senate are standing up to the radical abortion agenda. In addition to the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, Congresswoman Roby has cosponsored several other pieces of pro-life legislation including the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the Life at Conception Act, the Heartbeat Protection Act, the Defund Planned Parenthood Act, and the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act. Declaring her intent to fight for life, Congresswoman Roby stated unequivocally: “I will continue to use my platform in Congress to serve as a vocal advocate for the unborn.” In the midst of the rush to deny innocent babies the right to life, how refreshing it is to see so many members of Congress working hard to pass legislation to protect them.

To learn more about the congressional fight to protect the born and unborn, please take time to listen to Congresswoman Roby’s presentation. Then, contact your members of Congress and tell them to pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act immediately so that it can be sent to President Trump’s desk for his signature. Lastly, please visit EndBirthDayAbortion.com to learn how you can send a clear and direct message to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to protect babies now. Together, we will create a culture in which all human life is valued and equally protected.

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Elections Have Consequences

by Worth Loving

February 15, 2019

Many Americans were understandably horrified when New York passed one of the most expansive late-term abortion laws in the country a few weeks ago. When asked about a similar bill proposed in his own state, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam not only defended the bill but also argued for infanticide. Now, states like Vermont and Rhode Island have been emboldened to pursue even more radical abortion bills.

The rush to lift restrictions on late-term abortions reveals a common theme—elections have consequences. For example, consider New York. While pro-choice Governor Andrew Cuomo was elected in 2011, Republicans regained control of the New York Senate. Since becoming Governor, one of Cuomo’s promises has been to legalize late-term abortion. However, the Republican-controlled Senate has continually stood in his way. But in the 2018 midterm elections, Republicans lost their majority in the state senate. This created a trifecta, with Democrats controlling the Assembly, Senate, and Governor’s Mansion. Once the new legislature convened on January 9, they wasted no time in fast-tracking the Reproductive Health Act to passage on January 22. Governor Cuomo signed it into law the same night. In New York, the 2018 elections had serious consequences for unborn babies.

Virginia also provides a prime example of why elections matter. While pro-life Republicans have not held the governorship since 2013, they have controlled the House of Delegates since 2000 and the Senate since 2013. In 2017, Republicans nearly lost control of both houses. The Senate remained in their control by one seat while control of the House of Delegates was decided by a name drawing. After Republican incumbent David Yancey and Democratic challenger Shelly Simonds each received 11,608 votes in District 94, the Virginia Board of Elections drew their names from a bowl. Yancey’s name was drawn first, allowing Republicans to retain a narrow 51-49 majority in the House of Delegates. If the outcome had only differed by one seat in each house, Delegate Kathy Tran’s New York look-a-like bill championed by pro-choice Governor Ralph Northam may very well have passed both houses and been signed into law. In Virginia, elections had serious consequences for babies, both born and unborn.

As we approach the 2020 elections, abortion will once again be a front-and-center issue. Even more so will be the issue of infanticide. An overwhelming 77 percent of voters support federal legislation known as the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act that would protect infants who survive a botched abortion. Despite this support, Democrats continue to block this bill in both the House and Senate.

So remember when you go to the polls on November 3, 2020—the lives of perfectly viable children are in your hands. Together, let’s send a message to the Democratic Party that the United States stands resolutely against infanticide and that their refusal to condemn it is grossly out of touch with mainstream America. Let’s remind them that elections have consequences. 

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Raising Up New Leaders: 3 Ways to Cultivate and Equip the Faith of Young People

by Anna Longbons

February 13, 2019

When Christians empower young Christian conservative leaders, they lay the foundations of the future. Every Christian parent wants their child to embrace the faith, and every conservative hopes the next generation will preserve and advance the cause of freedom. In America, however, nearly three out of five young people have walked away from the church, while atheism has doubled among teenagers. How can the church counteract this trend of young adult disengagement?

Instead of just trying to stop young people from leaving, the church can empower young people to start leading. If young people see the church as an outlet for their gifts and as a place of personal growth, their loyalty will deepen. Keeping young people in the pews is admirable, but equipping them for active service is transformational. Here are three ways to cultivate and equip the faith of young people:

1. Prayer

Firstly, church members can continually pray for the young people in their congregation, both those who attend and those who have recently gone to college or joined the workforce. By interceding for young people, church members can fight against the spiritual forces of darkness facing these young people, especially in today’s post-Christian culture. As believers pray, God offers guidance, paving the way for stronger relationships between church members and young Christians.

2. Mentoring

Relationships between older and younger Christians can bear significant fruit. In his book Cultivate: Forming the Emerging Generation Through Life-On-Life Mentoring, Dr. Jeff Myers explores the benefits of intentional, intergenerational relationships. He explains that mentors can rely on the six relational gestures of modeling, friendship, advising, coaching, teaching, and sponsoring. By inviting a young person to walk alongside them, a mentor models Christlike behavior and offers their mentee critical friendship and wisdom. As the mentee matures, the mentor can sponsor the mentee by furthering the mentee’s opportunities. These mentoring relationships help the mentee to realize that the church is relevant to their growth and invested in their success.

3. Apologetics Training

To promote lasting church loyalty, Christians can support young people through prayer and mentoring relationships. Apologetics training can also strengthen the next generation’s ties to the church. When young people learn the rational basis of their faith, and when they grasp the connections between the Bible and the issues facing our culture today, their confidence in Christianity grows and solidifies. Young people may perceive a disconnect between the church and the culture, but apologetics training bridges the gap. Christian organizations including Summit Ministries and Truth for a New Generation guide young people to understand and embrace the truth.

When a young Christian believes that their church accepts them and their faith matters, they are prepared to use the gifts God has given them in the service of the causes to which God has called them. Therefore, the church must be prepared to support the causes young Christians are passionate about. If a young Christian seeks to involve their church in the causes they care about—from alleviating poverty to abolishing sex trafficking to ending abortion—the church can offer their time, support, and encouragement. Promoting a young Christian’s endeavors not only furthers that specific cause, it furthers the young person’s leadership potential. Because they have grown in their faith and developed their leadership abilities through the church, young people will be far less likely to leave and far more likely to engage in positive leadership in future.

Prayer, mentoring relationships, and apologetics training all enable young people to grow in maturity and confidence. This confidence not only lays the foundations for continued church attendance, it produces proactive service and leadership that will benefit the church for decades to come.

Anna Longbons is an intern with FRC Action.

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California's AB 493: The Very Definition of Indoctrination
by Matt Carpenter (Aug. 6, 2019)

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