Author archives: Anna Longbons

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.

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.

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.

4 Ways Pro-Life Conversations Strengthen the Pro-Life Movement

by Anna Longbons

January 31, 2019

Pro-life individuals have a responsibility to communicate the pro-life message. Through civic participation, many pro-lifers put their beliefs into action, campaigning and voting for pro-life politicians and holding elected officials accountable for their positions on pro-life issues. However, when it comes to discussing pro-life issues with their friends and acquaintances, many pro-lifers hesitate.

On the one hand, because many conservatives ascribe to the pro-life position, pro-lifers may not see the need for intentional pro-life conversations with their conservative friends. Conversely, since abortion is a sensitive and often political issue, pro-lifers may avoid discussing it because they are unsure of an appropriate way to introduce the topic. By starting a conversation around pro-life issues, a pro-lifer risks an exchange that could be at best “preaching to the choir,” and at worst painful and alienating.

Although the risks of such conversations are real, pro-lifers must remember the great need for truth in America today. People who call themselves “pro-life” often do not know why they are pro-life, or what being pro-life even means. The Barna Group found that 59 percent of Mainline Protestant church leaders have never talked about the pro-life cause from the pulpit or mentioned it in a sermon. Engaging professed pro-lifers in conversation allows strong pro-lifers to share the reality of abortion and our opportunity to advocate for life in America.

Pro-lifers have several options available for beginning a pro-life conversation:

1. Inviting nominal pro-lifers to join pro-life initiatives can bolster their weaker pro-life convictions.

When nominal pro-lifers attend a pro-life conference, pray outside an abortion facility, or tour a Pregnancy Resource Center, they come face to face with the pro-life movement. Pro-lifers can enlist the support of friends and church members by asking them to volunteer at a Pregnancy Resource Center or attend a pro-life fundraiser. As these individuals become part of the pro-life movement, their eyes will be opened and their commitment strengthened.

Nominal pro-lifers also may not fully comprehend abortion, but they may have been personally impacted by it. Because abortion has been legal in America for 46 years, millions of Americans have been affected over the decades. People have lost siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends’ children. Talking about abortion allows these individuals to understand and process what happened to their family and friends.

2. Talking about pro-life issues can bring healing.

Abortion has impacted other individuals even more directly. Millions of American parents have lost their children to abortion. By bringing up pro-life issues, pro-lifers can point these parents to programs and resources for healing. Many local Pregnancy Resource Centers host post-abortive support groups, and organizations like Rachel’s Vineyard and Silent No More exist to come alongside post-abortive parents.

While such conversations open the door to healing from past abortion, they can also prevent future abortions. Josh Brahm from Equal Rights Institute observes that many women do not realize the support that is available to them if they become pregnant unexpectedly. By discussing pro-life issues, pro-lifers can ensure that their friends know about the alternatives to abortion and the support that is available to expectant parents.  

3. Asking questions can lead to changed minds.

Entering into a conversation about abortion allows pro-lifers to reach uniformed friends and acquaintances with the truth. Nonetheless, while some people are simply ignorant about abortion, others are hostile to the pro-life movement. Instead of replying with similar anger, pro-lifers can ask their pro-abortion friends why they are pro-abortion. Verbalizing their views forces pro-abortion individuals to consider the implications of their views.

4. Pro-lifers can also bring the message of life to their churches.

CareNet reported that 36 percent of women were attending a Christian church once a month or more at the time of their first abortion. David Bereit from 40 Days for Life reveals that post-abortive women can endure pain when they do not hear abortion addressed in their churches. Churches have an amazing opportunity to share the importance of life and forgiveness, encouraging expectant mothers not to abort and offering healing to those who have lost children to abortion.

Christians can involve their churches in a variety of ways, from coordinating activities for Sanctity of Life Sunday to recruiting church members to volunteer at Pregnancy Resource Centers. By asking church leaders for permission to pursue pro-life activities in their churches, pro-life members remind pastors of the importance of the pro-life message and support church leaders in spreading this message.

Don’t be afraid to reach out.

Engaging these four strategies in the pro-life movement will help to build a culture of life. Those who previously paid lip service to the pro-life movement will realize the tragedy of abortion and the sacredness of life, while those hurt by abortion will understand that healing is possible. Women who might consider abortion will learn about the pro-life resources available to them. Additionally, those who hold pro-abortion views will be prompted to reconsider their positions. Reaching out to friends with the pro-life message may be a leap of faith for pro-lifers, but through their faithfulness, our culture will experience the truth and healing of the pro-life message.

Anna Longbons is an intern at FRC Action.

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Prostitution and Abortion: The Exploitation of Women and Children
by Abigail Moreno-Riano (June 26, 2019)

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