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How 2020 State Elections Will Shape the Makeup of Congress for the Next Decade

by Steven Sullivan , Connor Semelsberger

October 8, 2020

With several major companies launching advertising campaigns to “get out and vote,” political parties describing this election as the deciding factor in our country’s future and survival, and politics seeping into daily conversation more than ever, its clear that voting in the 2020 election matters now more than ever. With such high stakes, it is easy to focus solely on the presidential or U.S. Senate races, but did you know that in a census year like this, state elections are just as important?

The U.S. Constitution requires that a census be conducted every 10 years, and the information from the census is used to determine the distribution of U.S. House seats across the states for the next 10-year period. The first step in this process, known as reapportionment, is to divide the 435 Congressional seats among the 50 states based on population. The president determines the amount of seats for each state based on the population numbers from the census and sends a notice to Congress. Congress then communicates the exact number of representatives for each state to the governors. Once the governors are given their total number of seats, the state is responsible for drawing the boundaries of the Congressional districts, a process known as redistricting. Once the districts are drawn and submitted to Congress, the new make-up of Congressional districts will be in effect starting in 2022.

In most states, the legislatures draw the congressional district boundaries which then are approved by the governor. Because the states have so much control over the boundaries, it has become a very political process in which both parties jockey to have partisan control of state legislatures and governors mansions during redistricting in order to draw the boundaries in a way that favors their respective party. What this means is the 2020 state elections not only impact who will represent you in the state legislature but will also have a huge impact on who will represent you and your values in Congress for the next decade!

Between reapportionment and redistricting, there is great chance for a dramatic shift in political power. As our country’s population has shifted from northern and midwestern states like New York and Illinois to states in the south like Texas and Florida, so does the number of congressional seats and the power that comes with it. There are also several large states with close partisan margins that, if flipped, could dramatically change which party is in the driver’s seat for drawing the new congressional lines. Florida, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas are not only battleground states for the presidential election, but also have one or both state legislative chambers that are within 10 seats of changing partisan control.

Among all the noise of the 2020 election, the important role that state governments play in setting up the power dynamics of the U.S. House of Representatives has been vastly overshadowed. As you consider who to vote for in the upcoming election, remember the importance of the down ballot races and gather appropriate information to make sure you support state candidates that reflect a biblical worldview. And as always, remember to pray, vote, and stand.

Connor Semelsberger, MPP is the Legislative Assistant at Family Research Council.

Steven Sullivan is a Policy and Government Affairs intern focusing on federal legislative affairs.

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Trump’s High Pro-Life Priority

by Molly Carman

October 7, 2020

Soon after his release from Walter Reed Military Hospital where he received treatment for the coronavirus, President Donald Trump prioritized communicating the importance of pro-life legislation. Yesterday, President Trump posted a series of tweets concerning his pro-life convictions by reiterating his stance on the abortion issue and drawing attention to Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s position.

Trump’s first tweet drew attention to comments made by Joe Biden during a town hall meeting last night in Miami, Florida. During the event, a voter asked the Democratic nominee, “Considering the new Supreme court nominee of Amy Coney Barrett, what are your particular plans to protect women’s reproductive rights in the U.S.?” Biden responded, “Number one, we do not exactly know what she will do, although the expectation is that she may very well…overrule Roe. But the only thing, the only responsible response to that would be to pass legislation making Roe the law of the land, that’s what I would do.”

Trump’s response: “Wow. Joe Biden just took a more Liberal position on Roe v. Wade than Elizabeth Warren…”

In his second tweet, Trump reminded the nation of the real agenda of the Left: “Biden and Democrats just clarified the fact that they are fully in favor of (very) LATE TERM ABORTION, right up until the time of birth, and beyond - which would be execution. Biden even endorsed the Governor of Virginia, who stated this clearly for all to hear. GET OUT & VOTE!!!”

While the media has repeatedly sought to “fact-check” the president on this claim, the truth is that Governor Northam defended a proposed 2019 law that would have legalized abortion up to the point of birth. But not only did Northam endorse the bill, he implied he was comfortable with abortion even after birth.

Moreover, the president’s characterization of the Biden/Harris ticket’s position on abortion is on point considering vice president nominee Kamala Harris voted twice against pro-life legislation earlier this year. The first was the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act which would have outlawed abortions of unborn children at 20 weeks gestation, the age at which they can feel pain. The second was the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act which would have protected the lives of babies that survive failed abortions.

Questions about abortion and the positions of the candidates in the 2020 election has only increased over the past few days. These positions are not just a matter of preference but of life and death. This is not the first time that President Trump has spoken clearly and directly about the issue of abortion. For example, within his first few days in office, President Trump reinstated and expanded the Mexico City Policy, which ensures that taxpayers’ money does not fund international organizations that perform or promote abortion. He has also worked closely with HHS on instituting an extensive audit before permitting fetal tissue research, as well as defending the conscientious objection of nurses and other health care professionals to abstain from abortion procedures. In addition, President Trump became the first president to speak at the March for Life in Washington, D.C. You can read the whole list of his other pro-life accomplishments as well as his accomplishments for the family and religious liberty at prayvotestand.org/actions

President Trump is right to prioritize pro-life legislation and draw attention to the contrast between his policies and those proposed by Joe Biden and the Democratic Party. Americans need a president who values life and human dignity for the sake of the next generation and the survival of our nation. We need a president who will not only say he values life, human dignity, and individual rights, but defends, protects, and promotes them.

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The Stark Contrast on Abortion at the National Conventions - In Quotes

by David Closson

September 1, 2020

Over the past two weeks, America’s two major political parties gathered for their quadrennial conventions. While certain aspects of each convention were different this year (e.g., neither party could fill arenas with delegates and supporters due to the coronavirus), Democrats and Republicans officially nominated their respective party’s standard-bearer for 2020 and set forth their governing vision. 

Typically, political conventions highlight the candidates and draw attention to the most important issues facing the country. Two months ahead of the November 3 election, Americans are concerned about the coronavirus pandemic, economy, racial tension, health care, and education. Unsurprisingly, all of these issues received significant attention at both political conventions. However, there was a marked difference in how the parties promoted their views on abortion, an important issue on which the country remains divided.  

Democrats were strategic in how they dealt with abortion at their convention. For starters, the word “abortion” was not mentioned a single time during four nights of programming. Joe Biden did not mention abortion in his acceptance speech, and most speakers even avoided using common euphemisms such as “reproductive justice” or “a woman’s choice.” Only two speakers (Raumesh Akbari and Hillary Clinton) mentioned Planned Parenthood, and only Kamala Harris (“reproductive choice”) and Nancy Pelosi (“woman’s right to choose”) used language that directly referred to abortion.

Moreover, whereas the Democrats had invited Planned Parenthood’s president to address the convention back in 2016, this year pro-life Republicans such as John Kasich were invited to speak to the delegates.

Lest Americans think Democrats have become moderate on abortion, the party’s extreme views were laid out in the 2020 Democratic Party Platform. According to the platform, “Democrats oppose and will fight to overturn federal and state laws that create barriers to reproductive health and rights.” Moreover, the platform commits to “repeal the Title X domestic gag rule and restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood” and “repeal the Hyde Amendment, and protect and codify the right to reproductive freedom.”

In contrast, Republicans reaffirmed the party’s pro-life views in writing by re-adopting the 2016 platform, which endorsed a strong pro-life agenda, and releasing a set of “core priorities,” which included protecting the unborn. Numerous convention speeches also highlighted the party’s commitment to protecting the unborn.

Here’s what speakers at the 2020 Republican National Convention had to say about abortion (in context):

Night 1

  • Ronna McDaniel, Chair of the Republican National Committee: “Policies that force jobs to flee our country or allow abortion up until the point of birth are not nice. The truth is, there’s only one person who has empathized with everyday Americans and actually been fighting for them over the past four years and that is President Donald Trump.”
  • Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York: “Pray we must that all lives may be protected and respected, in our troubled cities and the police who guard them, in tense world situations where our men and women in uniform keep the peace, for the innocent life of the baby in the womb, for our elders in nursing care and hospice, for our immigrants and refugees, those lives threatened by religious persecution throughout the world or by plague, hunger, drugs, human trafficking or war.”

Night 2

  • Cissie Graham Lynch, Ministry Spokesperson, Samaritan’s Purse: “Our founders did not envision a quiet, hidden faith. They fought to ensure that the voices of faith were always welcomed, not silenced, not bullied. But during the Obama-Biden administration, these freedoms were under attack. Democrats tried to make faith organizations pay for abortion-inducing drugs. Democrats tried to force adoption agencies to violate their deeply-held beliefs. Democrats pressured schools to allow boys to compete in girl sports and use girl’s locker rooms. Those are the facts. But then, we the people elected Donald Trump.”
  • Cissie Graham Lynch: “Some Democratic leaders tried to ban church services while marijuana shops and abortion clinics were declared essential. But you know what truly is essential: Our right to worship freely and live our faith in every aspect of life.”
  • Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood clinic director: “Today, almost 80 percent of Planned Parenthood abortion facilities are strategically located in minority neighborhoods. And every year Planned Parenthood celebrates its racist roots by presenting the Margaret Sanger award.”
  • Abby Johnson, describing her transformation from pro-choice to pro-life advocacy: “But the tipping point came a month later when a physician asked me to assist with an ultrasound-guided abortion. Nothing prepared me for what I saw on the screen, an unborn baby fighting back, desperate to move away from the suction. And I’ll never forget what the doctor said next, ‘Beam me up Scotty.’ The last thing I saw was a spine twirling around in the mother’s womb before succumbing to the force of the suction. On October 6th, I left the clinic looking back only to remember why I now advocate so passionately for life.”
  • Abby Johnson: “You see, for me, abortion is real. I know what it sounds like. I know what abortion smells like. Did you know abortion even had a smell? I’ve been the perpetrator to these babies, to these women, and I now support President Trump because he has done more for the unborn than any other president. During his first month in office, he banned federal funds for global health groups that promote abortion. That same year, he overturned an Obama-Biden rule that allowed government subsidy of abortion. He appointed a record number of pro-life judges, including two Supreme Court justices. And importantly, he announced a new rule protecting the rights of healthcare workers objecting to abortion, many of whom I work with every day.”
  • Nicholas Sandmann, teenage activist: “In 2019, I attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C., where I demonstrated in defense of unborn. Later that day, I bought a Make America Great Again hat because our president Donald Trump has distinguished himself as one of the most pro-life presidents in the history of our country, and I wanted to express my support for him too.”
  • Daniel Cameron, Attorney General of Kentucky: “Joe Biden would destroy jobs, raise our taxes and throw away the lives of countless unborn children.”

Night 3

  • Marsha Blackburn, U.S. Senator, Tennessee: “Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and their radical allies, try to destroy these heroes because if there are no heroes to inspire us, government can control us. They close our churches but keep the liquor stores and abortion clinics open. They say we can’t gather in community groups, but encourage protests, riots and looting in the streets.”
  • Tera Myers, mother of a son with Down syndrome: “Before Samuel was even born, I was told his life wouldn’t be worth living. When early tests revealed he had Down syndrome, our doctor encouraged me to terminate the pregnancy. He said, ‘If you do not, you will be burdening your life, your family, and your community.’ I knew my baby was a human being, created by God and that made him worthy of life. I am thankful that President Trump values the life of the unborn. When we went to register Samuel for kindergarten, we were told to just put him where he would be comfortable.”

  • Sister Dede Byrne, Catholic nun: “President Trump will stand up against Biden-Harris, who are the most anti-life presidential ticket ever, even supporting the horrors of late-term abortion and infanticide. Because of his courage and conviction, President Trump has earned the support of America’s pro-life community.”
  • Sister Dede Byrne: “And while we tend to think of the marginalized as living beyond our borders, the truth is the largest marginalized group in the world can be found here in the United States, they are the unborn. As Christians, we first met Jesus as a stirring embryo in the womb of an unwed mother and saw him born nine months later in the poverty of the cave.”
  • Lou Holtz, former football coach: “One of the important reasons he has my trust is because nobody has been a stronger advocate for the unborn than President Trump. The Biden-Harris ticket is the most radically pro-abortion campaign in history. They and other politicians are Catholics in name only and abandoned innocent lives. President Trump protects those lives. I trust President Trump.”
  • Vice President Mike Pence: “President Trump has stood without apology for the sanctity of human life, every day of this administration. Joe Biden, he supports taxpayer funding of abortion, right up to the moment of birth. When you consider their agenda, it’s clear, Joe Biden would be nothing more than a Trojan horse for the radical left. The choice in this election has never been clearer, and the stakes have never been higher.”

Night 4

  • Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader: “As Republicans, we are proud to stand with him and to work for you. Together we built the greatest economy the world has ever seen, and we will do it again. We confronted China head-on, tore up bad trade deals and made better ones, supported our men and women in uniform, and took out the world’s top terrorist. Achieved energy independence, defended the sanctity of life, and restored law and order at the border.”
  • Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader: “They [the Democratic Party] want to defund the police and take away your Second Amendment rights. They want free healthcare for illegal immigrants, yet they offer no protection at all for unborn Americans.”
  • Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: “What is racist, is the fact that African-Americans have the highest abortion rate. President Trump is the most pro-life president in the country’s history. He will continue to fight for those who cannot yet speak.”

  • Donald Trump, President of the United States: “Joe Biden claims he has empathy for the vulnerable – yet the party he leads supports the extreme late-term abortion of defenseless babies right up to the moment of birth. Democrat politicians refuse to protect innocent life, and then they lecture us about morality and saving America’s soul? Tonight, we proudly declare that all children, born and unborn, have a God given right to life.”

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Biblical and Practical Considerations for the November Election

by Laura Lee Caum

August 14, 2020

As Election Day approaches, American Christians may be weighing their options for U.S. president and may have reservations about voting for either President Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden. Despite these concerns, there are good reasons why American Christians might consider supporting President Trump in November. Let’s consider evidence from Old Testament history and President Trump’s first-term accomplishments.

The Old Testament is filled with accounts of God’s faithfulness. God advocated for His people, not only when they were the Kingdom of Israel but also when foreign governments ruled over them. At various times, He even used non-Jewish leaders to protect his people. One such example is the Persian King Artaxerxes. Nehemiah, a Jewish cupbearer to the king, learned that the city of Jerusalem was in ruins and asked the king for permission to rebuild it. King Artaxerxes not only granted Nehemiah’s request, but he also funded the operation. Another Persian leader God used for his glory was King Xerxes. His queen, a Jewish woman named Esther, risked her life to plead for the lives of her people. King Xerxes decided to spare the Jewish people from genocide, though he himself was not Jewish. These are just two examples of God using secular, imperfect leaders to advocate for His people.

When deciding what presidential candidate to vote for, Christians should consider the importance of political appointments. When a nation elects a president, it is not merely putting an individual in the Oval Office. That individual will then choose leaders to fill many government positions, such as the president’s cabinet—including the secretaries of State, Justice, and Health and Human Services (HHS)—as well as judicial appointments to federal courts—including the Supreme Court. These appointees are incredibly influential concerning government policy, both at home and abroad.

As Secretary of State during the Obama administration, Hillary Clinton advocated for pro-LGBT policies abroad. Both the UN Resolution on LGBT Human Rights and the Global Equality Fund were formed under her leadership. In contrast, President Trump appointed Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, who formed the International Religious Freedom Alliance which seeks to advocate for religious liberty abroad, initiated The Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom (an annual gathering of religious leaders to discuss best practices for advocating for religious freedom), and started the Commission on Unalienable Rights, which focuses on ensuring that the basic human rights spelled out in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights are protected.

Sylvia Burwell served as Obama’s HHS Secretary. In that role, she took the Little Sisters of the Poor to court over their refusal to comply with the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, which required them to provide contraceptives against their consciences. In contrast, Alex Azar, President Trump’s HHS Secretary, has advocated for religious liberty and the rights of the unborn, both internationally and at home. Some of Secretary Azar’s actions include exempting the Little Sisters of the Poor from the contraceptive mandate. Also, under Azar’s leadership, the Office of Civil Rights was established. This section of HHS defends conscience rights by ensuring that no medical personnel are forced to perform abortions, gender transition services, and other procedures against their consciences.

As U.S. Attorney General during the Obama administration, Eric Holder advocated for pro-LGBT policies, such as giving “transgendered” persons special status under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Furthermore, Holder intimidated peaceful pro-life protestors under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. In contrast, William Barr, Trump’s AG appointment, is a staunch defender of life and religious liberty. He expresses these convictions in both word and deed. In 2019, Barr gave a speech at Notre Dame defending religious liberty.

The Obama administration even used the Department of Agriculture’s Food and Safety Inspection Service to threaten a meatpacking plant in Michigan for putting brochures out on company tables promoting a biblical view on marriage and sexuality. Thankfully, the Trump administration issued new guidance to protect the First Amendment rights of meatpackers.

Presidential elections affect all areas of government, particularly health care and foreign relations. The Trump administration has continually defended life and religious liberty. Despite these commendable policy accomplishments, an American Christian may struggle to support Donald Trump the man. However, consider that neither King Artaxerxes nor King Xerxes was perfect. Nor were they part of God’s chosen people—the Jewish nation. Yet, God used these two leaders to defend His people.

This November, as you exercise your right to vote, remember that God can use even imperfect leaders to advance and protect the rights of Christians at home and abroad. Consider what individuals each candidate would appoint to positions of authority and what that would mean for life, family, and religious liberty issues. If Joe Biden is elected, he will likely advocate for similar policies that the Obama administration did. Biden’s election would likely result in decreased protections for life and religious liberty. However, President Trump’s administration has consistently advocated for these values. After considering all these things, pray, vote, and stand.

For more on voting from a biblical worldview, be sure to check out Biblical Principles for Political Engagement: Worldview, Issues, and Voting. For a full listing of the Trump administration’s accomplishments, click here.

Laura Lee Caum is a Communications intern at Family Research Council.

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Persevering in Political Engagement: Lessons from the Life of William Wilberforce

by Worth Loving

July 29, 2020

The abolition of slavery. Women’s suffrage. Civil rights for black Americans. None of these reforms happened quickly. They only came about through years of dedicated efforts from people who refused to give up, despite overwhelming odds.

As we fight to protect life, family, and religious freedom, we can find inspiration in the lives of men and women who never gave up fighting for causes they believed in. One such individual was the great statesman William Wilberforce. Wilberforce played a central role in the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, but he did not see his reforms implemented within a few weeks or months. In fact, it took decades for Wilberforce’s ultimate goals to be accomplished. He experienced many crushing defeats yet remained steadfast in his pursuit. As we work toward reforms in the present, we can learn much from the life and example of William Wilberforce.

Born into an affluent British family, Wilberforce attended St. Johns College in Cambridge, where he became close friends with future prime minister William Pitt. Raised in a Christian home, Wilberforce drifted away from his religious upbringing as a young man. In 1780, at the age of 21 and while still a student, Wilberforce was elected to Parliament. Pitt followed his friend to Parliament, becoming the youngest prime minister in British history at the age of 24.

The first few years of Wilberforce’s parliamentary career were mostly uneventful, although he was known as an eloquent speaker who frequented bars with drinking and gambling. It wasn’t until 1785 that things began to change. Influenced by his friend Isaac Milner, Wilberforce rediscovered the Christianity of his youth. Over the next few years, Wilberforce’s newfound faith sparked a strong desire for humanitarian reform. Yet Wilberforce wrestled with whether he should leave Parliament and devote himself to full-time Christian ministry. He reconnected with his childhood pastor John Newton, a former slave trader who became an influential adviser to Wilberforce. Around this time, Wilberforce was also approached by Thomas Clarkson, co-founder of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, about taking up the cause in Parliament. Through the counsel of Newton, Pitt, Clarkson, and notable antislavery groups like the Clapham Sect, Wilberforce was persuaded that he could still do God’s work while remaining in politics. Around this time, he wrote the following in his journal: “God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the Slave Trade and the Reformation of Manners” [i.e., society].

At the time, calling for the abolition of the slave trade was deeply unpopular, given the strong economic interests many influential businessmen and members of Parliament had in the British West Indies. Over the new few years, Wilberforce and Clarkson embarked on an unprecedented public awareness campaign across Great Britain. Clarkson visited the ports where slave ships docked, taking detailed notes from crew members about the deplorable conditions slaves endured aboard ship. He also took measurements of the small quarters in which slaves were housed and gathered shackles and branding irons to demonstrate to the public how slaves were being treated. In 1787, Clarkson published a booklet titled A Summary View of the Slave Trade and of the Probable Consequences of Its Abolition, detailing the horrific conditions slaves endured while aboard the ships. Clarkson began traveling the country, distributing leaflets describing these conditions. In 1789, Wilberforce used Clarkson’s evidence in a powerful speech before the House of Commons to present his first bill for the abolition of the slave trade. While Parliament did not act on his bill, public opinion was starting to change. In 1791, the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade distributed leaflets calling upon the public to boycott sugar produced by slaves in the West Indies. Consequently, around 300,000 British citizens stopped buying the sugar, resulting in a significant loss of profit to companies that used slave labor in the West Indies.

Across the English Channel, trouble was brewing in France. Parliament was soon consumed with protecting Britain from the violent revolution engulfing France. That revolution resulted in an overthrow of the French government and eventually culminated in Napoleon’s rise to power. The British political establishment often viewed abolitionists like Wilberforce in the same light as the radicals leading the French Revolution. During this time, Wilberforce was slandered, libeled, and even received death threats. To compound his difficulties, Wilberforce battled an intestinal disease (believed today to be colitis) that prevented him from fulfilling his parliamentary duties from time to time. Despite these setbacks, Wilberforce remained resolute in his quest to end the slave trade.

Year after year, Wilberforce would present a motion in the House of Commons calling for the abolition of the slave trade. Although some of the margins were narrow, his motion was defeated every single time. Wilberforce’s motions were often defeated by fellow members of Parliament who had strong economic interests in the slave trade. In a 1791 speech, Wilberforce boldly reminded his fellow members: “Having heard all of this you may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say you did not know.” But Wilberforce remained unfazed by the defeats and continued his fight with public awareness campaigns, bringing to light the horrors of the slave trade. Wilberforce and Clarkson gathered thousands of petition signatures from enraged British citizens who demanded an end to the slave trade throughout the Empire.

By 1807, public opinion was squarely in his favor, and Wilberforce had persuaded many members of Parliament. After nearly 20 years of fighting, the Slave Trade Act was passed, and Wilberforce realized one of his two “great objects”—the end of the slave trade.

Because this bill did not free currently owned slaves, Wilberforce began calling for the immediate emancipation of all slaves in the British Empire. In 1825, Wilberforce resigned his seat in Parliament due to health reasons but continued his quest to abolish slavery. On July 26, 1833, the Slavery Abolition Act was passed by the House of Commons, effectively freeing all slaves in the British Empire. William Wilberforce died three days later with the satisfaction of knowing that the cause to which he had dedicated his life had finally been accomplished.  

Wilberforce had also worked hard on his second “great object”—the “reformation of manners.” When Wilberforce began his Parliamentary career, British society was incredibly corrupt and immoral. Workers suffered poor conditions, animals were abused, and prostitution was rampant. Wilberforce had a special place in his heart for the poor and those rejected by society. By the time he died, Great Britain was a completely different place.

For more than 50 years, Wilberforce dedicated his life to building a better Great Britain. While advocating for Christians to be involved in politics, Wilberforce once said that “a private faith that does not act in the face of oppression is no faith at all.” As Christians, we are called to engage our culture and influence others for Christ. Wilberforce never attacked his opponents but instead appealed to their conscience.

Now, 187 years since Wilberforce’s death, we can draw many parallels between Wilberforce’s battles and our current ones over abortion, religious freedom, pornography, human trafficking, and many more. Since 1973, we’ve been fighting to correct the flawed decision in Roe v. Wade. While the pro-life movement has experienced many victories, hundreds of innocent unborn children are still killed every day. The Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges undermines the sacred institution of marriage. And the religious liberty of Christian business owners and government employees is under increasing attack, most recently in Bostock v. Clayton County.

Despite recent setbacks, we must never give up. We can find inspiration in William Wilberforce, who faced crushing defeats and vicious attacks from his opponents but never relented his fight for what was right.  We can learn much from Wilberforce’s tenacity and his unwavering commitment to the cause to which God had called him. The fight may be long and grueling, but the ultimate reward we are seeking is well worth any struggle we face now.

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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.

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Joe Biden’s “Moral Fiber,” or Lack Thereof, on Abortion

by Adelaide Holmes

May 1, 2020

On April 14, 2020, former President Barack Obama endorsed his former Vice President and presidential candidate Joe Biden. In his video announcement, he says of Biden, “Through all his trials, he’s never once forgotten the values or the moral fiber that his parents passed on to him and that made him who he is.” But Obama is incorrect.

When it comes to the issue of abortion, Biden has evolved from the moderate he claimed to be into a radical supporter of abortion rights. Throughout Biden’s time in the United States Senate, he supported the Hyde Amendment and other anti-abortion measures, which he credited to his Catholic faith. But as the Democratic Party began to become a radical proponent of abortion, his conscience conflicted with his political success. After decades of supporting the Hyde Amendment, last summer Biden surrendered to his party. A closer look at Biden’s new stance on the Hyde Amendment, his promises to appoint justices supporting Roe v. Wade, and his remarks on abortion around the globe prove that when it comes to the issue of abortion, he’s not moderate at all.

After years of supporting the life-saving Hyde Amendment, which bars the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortions, Biden reversed his position in June 2019, apparently in order to follow the conventional Democratic wisdom of making him more “electable,” at the expense of the unborn. Just over a month after he announced his campaign for president, Biden changed his so-called “moderate” stance on abortion which made him a competitive candidate in a Democratic primary trending left. He stated, “If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s ZIP code.” The sudden change came literally one day after he reaffirmed his support for the Hyde Amendment. But in the interim, he received intense criticism from his own party and fellow Democratic candidates. These included Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren, who all promised to repeal the Hyde Amendment. Apparently, Biden learned his lesson. The next day, he reversed his position and joined the other Democratic candidates in their extreme advocacy of abortion.

But his campaign promises don’t end there. On February 7, 2020, during a Democratic primary debate, Biden promised to make supporting the supposed right to an abortion a litmus test for his Supreme Court nominees. However, if his plan to appoint left-leaning Justices fails, he promised to “send [a bill] to the United States Congress” that “legislates Roe v. Wade adjusted by Casey.” Moreover, on his campaign website, he claims that abortion is a “constitutional right” and that his administration will do “everything in its power” to stop what he calls “rash state law.” These include “parental notification requirements, mandatory waiting periods, and ultrasound requirements,” which he claims, “blatantly violate the constitutional right to an abortion.”

Biden’s support of abortion goes beyond his previously “moderate” stance. Instead, Biden does not have a problem with abortion policies being spread across the globe. For example, he now opposes the Mexico City Policy (which he previously supported) which bans federal aid to foreign organizations that provide or promote abortion under the guise of “family planning.” Regarding the Mexico City Policy, Biden explained, “I strongly oppose the limitations on the ability for the United States to contribute to organizations in these countries that, in fact, provide women’s health alternatives for choice.” To Biden, abortion is more than a “constitutional right,” it is a fundamental health service for the world at large.

When it comes to abortion, it seems that Biden has radicalized his position because of a perception that this will somehow make him more “electable.” As his recent change on the Hyde Amendment suggests, his concern for the unborn seems to go only so far as it doesn’t get in the way of his own desire for political power. Biden is often thought of as a “moderate” candidate. But his stance on the unborn seems guided by his own self-interest and is inconsistent with his previous stance. Notably, his radical pro-abortion stance is also diametrically opposed to what his Catholic faith teaches.

Contrary to former President Obama’s recent praise about Biden’s convictions, Biden has not only forsaken the one moderate conviction that he had, but also has replaced it with a stance that is radical enough to put him in line with the other former Democratic presidential candidates. 

Adelaide Holmes is an intern for Life, Culture, and Women’s Advocacy at Family Research Council.

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Socialism, the Coronavirus, and Bernie Sanders’ America

by Worth Loving , Israel Lopez Ramirez

April 7, 2020

Over the last month, normal everyday life in the United States has come to a screeching halt as the government works to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Busy cities like New York, Los Angeles, and even Washington, D.C. have become ghost towns. Most businesses and restaurants are either shut down or open only on a very restricted basis. Grocery store shelves are empty as people scramble to grab essential items like toilet paper, water, and meat, not knowing when the lockdown will end. The stock market has plummeted and wiped out most of the Trump-era gains. Companies are being forced to lay off employees as events are canceled and revenue falls. For the first time, many in America are experiencing what food shortages and government-imposed mandates are really like.

A couple weeks ago, my roommate and I visited our local grocery store to stock up on some essential items. We weren’t planning to hoard all the toilet paper, meat, or bottled water, but we wanted to get enough in case the virus prevented us from getting out much over the coming weeks.

Growing up in eastern North Carolina, I’ve experienced my fair share of hurricanes. I’ve seen people board up their homes and stock up on generators and bottled water more times than I can count. I’ve also experienced many times how unaccustomed Southerners are to snow and ice in the winter. At the first sight of a snowflake or ice pellet, people rushed to the stores to stock up on bread and milk. To this day, I’ve never figured out why those two items seemed to fly off the shelves with the threat of winter weather. Milk sandwiches never appealed to me.

When my roommate and I visited the grocery store a couple weeks ago, I was shocked. It was relatively late in the evening and the store was still full of people. All the meat, produce, pasta, soup, milk, eggs, water, toilet paper—completely gone. As we tried to scrounge up a few essential goods, I looked at my roommate and said, “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” To which he replied, “This is what it’s like in Venezuela—but always.”

My roommate, Israel Lopez Ramirez, has lived here in the United States in Washington, D.C. for nearly three years now. Before that, he spent his entire life in Venezuela. He owned a graphic design company and enjoyed many years of economic success. That is, until socialism overtook his beloved country.

Venezuela is one of the richest countries in South America in terms of natural resources, particularly oil. As the country became more industrialized in the 20th century, it borrowed money to develop those natural resources. When the world economy went into a recession in the 1970s and 80s, demand for oil decreased and its price plummeted. In Venezuela, this resulted in skyrocketing inflation, stagnant wages, and many people losing their jobs.

Capitalizing on the nation’s economic distress, Hugo Chavez was elected president in 1999 on a pledge to save working Venezuelans from the “evil capitalists and evil corporations.” Inspired by his hero Fidel Castro, he conducted a massive takeover of the country’s health care system and private sector industries and instituted sweeping social welfare reforms. As a result, many companies left Venezuela, leaving the country with few jobs and skyrocketing inflation. Chavez also pushed through a new constitution, which gave his government more central control and began restricting many fundamental liberties like freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom of speech.

In 2013, Chavez died and Vice President Nicolas Maduro assumed the presidency. Maduro has continued the socialist policies of his predecessor. Many Venezuelans are out of work or severely underpaid. Inflation continues to skyrocket, and most Venezuelans cannot afford even the most basic of necessities. Grocery stores continue to experience shortages due to government controls and a lack of supply. Crime is now rampant in the country as people resort to desperate measures to find these basic necessities and as the Maduro-backed military hunts down its political opponents.

When my roommate compared the empty shelves at our local grocery store to what is happening every day in Venezuela, it really hit me. Many young Americans my age are embracing socialism at an alarming rate. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has capitalized on the enthusiasm of these millennials as well as the fury of the working class. He has normalized once radical proposals like Medicare-for-All, the Green New Deal, and free college.

But what’s more disturbing is Sanders’ praise for totalitarian regimes around the world. He has repeatedly refused to call Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro a tyrant. Among other things, he praised the Soviet Union’s investment in culture and their mass transit system in the 1980s. In 1985, Sanders praised the media censorship of Nicaragua’s Sandinista-led government. And he has repeatedly praised the housing, education, and health care programs of Fidel Castro’s Cuba. In a 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper in February, Sanders once again praised certain aspects of the Cuban dictator’s regime. Many Democratic leaders quickly condemned Sanders’ comments, and his remaining rivals for the nomination immediately capitalized on that anger. As a result, Sanders’ polling lead evaporated, all but ending his chances at the nomination.

My roommate was forced to leave Venezuela because the government seized his assets and took over his business. Because of statements he has made on social media against the brutal Maduro regime, he cannot return to the country for fear he might be thrown into prison or worse. His family remains in Venezuela and continues to experience critical food shortages and skyrocketing inflation.

Venezuela is an example to the United States and any other capitalist nations—socialism does not work. It is always best to let markets operate free of government intervention. More importantly, it is critical to protect our fundamental First Amendment rights, something all socialist regimes inevitably take away. And while Bernie Sanders will deny any perceived comparison to the human rights violations of authoritarian regimes, some of his past statements indicate otherwise. In 2017, Sanders suggested that then nominee for Assistant Director of the Office of Management and Budget Russ Vought was unfit to hold the office because of his Christian belief that Jesus Christ is the only Savior.

While Sen. Sanders no longer has a viable shot at the Democratic nomination, we came dangerously close to having a presidential nominee from a major political party who embraced communist ideas. And while likely Democratic nominee Joe Biden is quick to criticize Sanders for his praise of communist regimes, he still supports many of the same socialist policies. He plans a further government takeover of the economy, education, and the health care system. Even more concerning is that he has made passing the Equality Act a centerpiece of his campaign, a radical piece of legislation that will severely infringe on our First Amendment and privacy rights. To put it plainly, Joe Biden is just like Bernie Sanders, except with more charm and subtlety. If he is elected president in November, he will take us down the same socialist road.

Make no mistake. History has proven time and again that socialist leaders start out by promising to work for the people. But they always inevitably descend into total government control of the economy, health care system, and education, and end up taking away fundamental freedoms. In November, we must get out to the polls and resolutely reject this radical agenda, sending a clear message to the Democratic Party and to the world that socialism is not welcome in the United States. Not now and not ever.

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For the Unborn, a Bernie Sanders Presidency Would Be Very Dangerous

by Blake Elliott

February 26, 2020

While Bernie Sanders’ stances on most policies are troubling for most conservatives in America, his stance on abortion is one that all Americans should find particularly troubling. Sanders is a clear-cut, elderly socialist, which should be a huge red flag to all Americans. He is also completely pro-abortion and pro-Planned Parenthood. The fact that he is the frontrunner for the Democratic party should not shock any of us as the Democrats continue to push the limits of radical ideology; supporting abortions up until birth is just as radical as defending the dictatorship of Fidel Castro.

As the spotlight on Sanders continues to expand, his radical views on life have become harder to ignore. In April of 2019, Sanders was asked how he feels about late-term abortions. His answer was relatively short and simple as he acknowledged that he believes these situations are rare, but that he believes it should be the woman’s decision. This seems to be a common answer within the Democratic party, that the fate of the baby’s life should be determined by the woman up until birth (and even afterward). Sanders has dismissed abortion in the past as not an important issue, claiming that it is being made into a political issue. It is alarming that someone who has been in politics since 1981 does not understand that abortion is extremely divisive because the lives of the most vulnerable—unborn children—hang in the balance. 

In the past weeks, Sanders has promised to expand funding of Planned Parenthood if elected president. It is incredibly concerning that a candidate for president of the United States plans on using federal money to help support a company that has nearly $1.9 billion in net assets and has killed 345,672 unborn babies during the 2018 fiscal year. He also promised to only appoint judges that fully support Roe v. Wade and attempt to codify Roe into legislation. He has also claimed on Twitter that he will repeal the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funds from funding abortions. The threat that a Sanders presidency would pose to the pro-life movement and pro-life policies would be difficult to overstate.

This past year, Sanders managed to tie in his support for abortion to the climate change issue. In a CNN town hall, he was asked about human population growth and how it relates to the climate issue. Sanders emphatically described his opposition to the Mexico City Policy, which prohibits the U.S. from providing aid to foreign countries to be used for abortions. Supporting abortion as a means of curbing population growth is disgusting, even in the name of “climate change,” but proposing to spend American tax dollars to kill babies in poor foreign countries is particularly egregious. It recently came out that Sanders spent $1.2 million on private jet travel in a three-month time span this past year. If climate change was so important to him, why would he burn this much fuel that is supposedly bad for the environment? The answer is simple. It’s not about climate change, it’s about protecting abortion. Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser said it well when describing how this stance “takes Democratic abortion extremism to a new low [and] every Democratic candidate for president should immediately be asked where they stand on eugenic population control.”

Bernie Sanders’ radical Democratic Socialist extremism apparently knows no bounds, from advocating for free college to banning fracking to promising Medicare for All. No one can truly be surprised with how radical his views on abortion are, but we need to fully understand the importance of the upcoming election for the fate of babies in the United States and worldwide. It needs to be emphasized and plastered everywhere that Democrats appear more and more intent on electing a man who has promised to fully fund Planned Parenthood, historically voted against acts that would protect babies from infanticide, and advocated for unlimited access to abortion in the United States and the world.

It is more than clear that a Bernie Sanders’ presidency would be a catastrophe for the unborn.

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In the Democratic Party, Pro-Abortion Extremism Knows No Bounds

by Blake Elliott

February 17, 2020

It was no surprise to pro-lifers on February 11th when the pro-abortion, Democrat-controlled Colorado House Committee on State, Veterans, and Military Affairs voted to postpone and essentially kill CO HB 1068, which would have provided legal protection for infants born alive after a failed abortion attempt. It just so happens that this occurred on the same day that pro-abortion Democrats were fighting against a similar bill at the federal level at a hearing entitled “The Infant Patient: Ensuring Appropriate Medical Care for Children Born Alive.” Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) summarized it best when he said that these bills are not about “limiting access to abortion at all,” but rather about “making sure that every newborn has a fighting chance.”

Pro-abortion activists continue to make these hearings and debates on born-alive bills about abortion access and women’s rights. It is essential to understand that these born-alive bills do not prohibit abortion or limit access to abortion. They simply give babies that survive abortions the same access to potentially life-saving health care that any other newborn baby is given.

In Colorado, HB 1068 was killed based on party lines. Democrats controlled six of the nine seats in the Committee on State, Veterans, and Military Affairs, and each Democrat voted to kill the act. The committee listened to testimony on this bill for several hours, mostly from advocates for the bill to be passed. However, the Democrats could not be swayed from their extremist pro-abortion stance. Representative Shane Sandridge (R-Colorado Springs), who sponsored HB 1068, described how the bill is about holding doctors accountable for failing to render aid to the live birth of a baby during an attempted abortion. Rep. Sandridge emphasized the fact that the baby is outside of the womb, making this bill “not an abortion bill,” but rather “a murder bill.”

But the Democrats still could not be swayed. Representative Chris Kennedy (D-Lakewood) spoke to the bill’s supposed “effect of limiting access to abortion.” At the federal level, Democrats seemed to have the same issue of not being able to comprehend the fact that these born-alive cases, the abortion attempt has already occurred and failed. Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) made the claim that the bill would punish the “needs of women as it relates to their health care.”

Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) pointed out that it “should be an easy moral decision to save the life of a child who is outside of the womb and is alive” and how tragic it was that her Democratic colleagues continue to “support the killing of a child after it is outside of the womb.” Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) made it clear that people should all agree that every baby born alive deserves care regardless of whether the parents wanted the baby. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) observed “how extreme and radical the pro-abortion side of this debate has gotten.”

Unfortunately, the Democratic presidential candidates are not backing down from this pro-abortion extremism—they have made it clear where they and their party stand on abortion. Just this past weekend at an MSNBC Town Hall event, Bernie Sanders was asked, “Is there such a thing as a pro-life Democrat in your vision of the party?” Sanders responded by saying, “I think being pro-choice is an absolutely essential part of being a Democrat.” Another candidate vying for the nomination is Pete Buttigieg, who has taken an even more extreme pro-abortion stance. Buttigieg has unfortunately attempted to claim that the Bible can be interpreted to say that “life begins with breath” in order to defend his pro-abortion stance. Buttigieg has essentially been a proponent for late-term abortions all the way up until birth. He has defended this stance by arguing that he trusts women to be able to make the decision and does not believe the government should play any role in preventing the woman and her doctors from killing the baby. For pro-life Democrats, it should not be hard to realize that these candidates’ pro-abortion extremism knows no bounds.

It is indefensible that the Colorado House Democrats voted against HB 1068. The fact that Democrats now defend abortionists who leave babies that survive abortions to die should tell you all you need to know about the current state of the Democratic Party. There is no defense for leaving a baby to die, which is why Democrats at the federal level have built their case by framing the care for a born-alive baby as “limiting” access to abortion and “limiting” women’s rights. For pro-life Democrats, it should not be hard to see the red flags for what they are ultimately supporting when the faces of their party who are running for president have not only advocated for abortion up until birth, but have failed to support bills that would ban infanticide of babies born alive after failed abortion attempts.

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The Final 2020 Election Results Show that Despite a Divided Nation, Social Conservatives Won Big
by Connor Semelsberger (Feb. 19, 2021)

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