FRC Blog

The Fight to Defend Faith-Based Adoption Providers

by Nicolas Reynolds

June 28, 2019

Recently, faith-based adoption and foster care agencies have been the target of many discriminatory acts made by state and local governments.

Far from the Founding Fathers’ original intent, the ability to help others through foster care and adoption is now contingent on the feelings of LGBT activists in some states and localities. This is just the latest example of a disturbing trend—if the convictions of one’s religion encroaches on someone else’s comfort, ego, or ideology, they are demonized and declared to be a manifestation of hatred.

Increasingly, care provided by faith-based adoption agencies is only permitted on the condition that these agencies’ beliefs do not offend the LGBT movement, conditions that threaten their ability to serve children who are in desperate need of fundamental nurturing. Governmental discriminatory actions have been taken against faith-based agencies in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia.

In Philadelphia, actions were taken in March of 2018 to end the referral contract the city had with Catholic Social Services (CSS) even though they are one of the city’s largest foster care agencies (there are 30 total), working every day to place at-risk and special needs children in supportive homes. According to CSS, the agency serves 120 children in foster care and supervises 100 foster homes on a daily basis. In 2017 alone, they worked with over 2,200 children. Following the city’s ending of its referral contract with CSS, a “foster parent of the year” award winner’s home was emptied and siblings were nearly kept apart despite the city’s urgent call for hundreds of new foster homes. Even though CSS has been placing children in foster care for over a century, it appears they have lost the opportunity seemingly overnight.

Situations like Philadelphia will only escalate all governmental discriminatory actions towards religious organizations. Actions like these open the door to far more severe discriminatory actions to be taken against Christian organizations, which will adversely affect their ability to care for the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40). As recently as December of last year, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services issued an ultimatum to faith-based adoption agency New Hope, forcing them to either violate their beliefs (that a child needs both a mother and a father) or close their doors. New Hope would likely no longer be able to provide children with homes.

In response to the clear governmental discriminatory actions taken against faith-based adoption agencies, legislators such as Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) are introducing legislation to protect religious liberty. They have introduced the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2019 (CWPIA) (H.R. 897 / S. 274), a piece of legislation which would allow organizations such as CSS and New Hope to continue helping those in need without threat of foreclosure from the government.  

Rep. Kelly echoes the plea to preserve the ability of Christians to care for children who are desperately in need of nurturing that only a family can give:

Faith-based adoption and foster care providers have historically played an unrivaled role in caring for our country’s most vulnerable kids… They are the very providers that we should be encouraging and promoting, not punishing.

Concurring, Rep. Enzi adds:

The government should not be in the business of forcing faith-based child welfare providers to abandon their sincerely held religious beliefs, especially at the expense of finding a new home for a child in need.

Additionally, laws similar to the CWPIA have been passed in Alabama, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Virginia—most recently in Oklahoma and Kansas.

Discriminatory actions taken against faith-based adoption and foster care agencies are attacks on the biblical definition of the family, the most fundamental establishment in society. These attacks show a disregard for the Judeo-Christian principles which are uniquely imparted through the family. Lawmakers must provide more security to Christian organizations that wish to place children in homes that will sacrifice for, care for, and nurture children in need of a forever-family. 

Since the family is the cornerstone of a moral and flourishing society, it should be regarded and defended with the utmost care. This includes ensuring that the best possible services are provided for children who are not privileged to have a biological family. If governmental discrimination causes families to fall short, society’s moral standards too will fall short. The American people must stand up for the rights of faith-based organizations to continue providing the care that children need. No longer should Christians be targeted by governmental discriminatory actions for their efforts to care for “the least of these.”

Nicolas Reynolds is an intern at Family Research Council.

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Democrats Are Fixated on Climate Change. How Should Christians Respond?

by David Closson

June 28, 2019

In Wednesday night’s first Democratic debate, the first ten candidates made their pitch for why they should be their party’s nominee to take on President Trump in 2020.

While significant moral issues such as transgender rights and abortion were brought up repeatedly throughout the night—notably all of the candidates have promised to expand LGBT rights and advance the Democrat party’s extreme position on abortion—it was another issue with worldview implications that received a significant amount of attention: climate change.

Although climate activists were disappointed their issue did not receive more time in the debate, five candidates were asked specific questions about the climate. Moreover, when asked about what they considered the “greatest geopolitical threat to the United States right now,” four candidates (Beto O’Rourke, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Julian Castro) named “climate change.”

However, as he has throughout his candidacy, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington ratcheted up the rhetoric by drawing special attention to the “climate crisis” in his closing statement. The Governor explained: “When I was thinking of running for president, I made a decision. I decided that on my last day on earth, I wanted to look [my grandchildren] in the eye and tell them I did everything humanly possible to protect them from the ravages of the climate crisis.”

Although stated melodramatically, Inslee’s comments and the relative unanimity among his primary rivals that climate change is an “existential threat” indicate the issue will feature prominently in the 2020 campaign. Thus, it is important for Christians to think through the issue carefully and approach the issue through the lens of Scripture.

Dominion and Stewardship

From the perspective of the biblical worldview, there are two theological truths that must be held together when “global warming” or “climate change” is discussed: dominion and stewardship.

First, the Bible teaches that when God created the world he created human beings in his image and charged them to exercise dominion by multiplying and filling the earth (Gen. 1:26-28). As the Creator’s vice-regent, man was tasked with the responsibility to rule the earth in a way that honors God.

Significantly, man’s dominion is designed to promote human flourishing. Examples of exercising dominion which necessarily require the use of natural resources include irrigating a garden, constructing a building, designing a power grid, and domesticating animals, just to name a few. The clear teaching of the Bible is that man is permitted, even commanded, to develop the earth and its resources for the benefit of humanity. Unfortunately, much of the rhetoric surrounding the environment losses sight of the biblical insight that man has a God-given responsibility to cultivate the earth.

History contains examples of how this authority has been handled well. In fact, in obedience to the creation mandate, gifted men and women have been able to do incredible things such as develop life-saving medicine from nature, increase crop efficiency, and create power sources that improve the quality of life of billions of people.

But the earth and its resources hold more than just instrumental value. This is why the second theological truth that Christians must remember in conversations about environmental ethics is the principle of stewardship.

Stated simply, Christians are called to exercise stewardship over creation. As Albert Mohler explains, “We are given a garden. We do not own it. We are called to tend it and to make it flourish. And we are going to give an answer to the owner of the garden for how we cared for it…”

Environmental Care Should Never Fall Prey to Naturalism

Christians should oppose the unfettered exploitation of natural resources because creation should be received and cherished as a gift; it is not merely a resource to be exhausted and consumed. However, because man is fallen, Christians should not be surprised when people go beyond good use of creation to sinful abuse. But concern for the environment should never prompt the pendulum to swing so far to the other side that man becomes subservient to the created order. The tasks of dominion and stewardship are not opposed. Rather, they are complementary and should be held together.  

Christians should care about the environment because it reflects the glory of God. In fact, Psalm 19:1 affirms, “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse proclaims the work of his hands.” Similarly, Psalm 97:6 says that “the heavens proclaim his righteousness; all the people see his glory.” God himself cares so much about his creation that he provided specific guidance for how the Israelites were to respect the land during war (see Deut. 20:19-20).

However, as witnessed in Wednesday night’s Democrat debate, much of the recent discussion about the environment has ventured beyond reasonable concern. In fact, when candidates for President of the United States list “climate change” as the “greatest geopolitical threat” over pressing issues such as terrorism, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, or China, they betray a worldview rooted in naturalism rather than biblical Christianity.

The Natural World Is Not All There Is

If the natural world is all there is, it is easy to get distraught about changes in the weather and obsess about how to reverse rising global temperatures. Although creation care should be a priority for believers and the scientific community should be taken seriously when they suggest solutions for addressing obvious misuses of natural resources, Christians must remember that God is sovereign and holds the earth in his hands. As Paul explained in his letter to the Colossians, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:16-17).

Although the creation now groans under the curse of sin (Rom. 8:22), the Bible promises that one day it will be set free from its bondage and will obtain “the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (8:21).

David Closson is the Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council.

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Do No Harm Act” Threatens Our First Freedom

by Luke Isbell , Mary Beth Waddell

June 27, 2019

Yesterday, the House Committee of Education and Labor held a hearing on the Do No Harm Act. While this bill purports to prevent harm, it would actually significantly harm religious believers by gutting our most prominent religious liberty statute, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

Pitched as an act that would prevent abuse of religious freedom, and “restore” RFRA’s “original intent,” the bill would actually treat religious believers differently based on the circumstances of their claim and dictate when RFRA can be applied. Instead of all individuals having access to RFRA as a defense against a government burden on their First Amendment right to freely exercise their religion, the Do No Harm Act explicitly excludes some individuals from RFRA’s protections.

A Threat to a Fair Hearing

At the hearing, Representative Mike Johnson (R-La.), a constitutional lawyer with nearly 20 years of experience working on religious freedom, testified how religious freedom is “often referred to as our first freedom.” The Founders of the United States recognized that everyone should be able to live their lives according to their deeply held beliefs, and never be forced by the government to act in a way contrary to their beliefs. The protection and flourishing of religious liberty was understood to be so vital to the foundation of our nation that it was written as the First Amendment to the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law establishing religion OR prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” As apparent from this hearing, those on the Left seem to misunderstand the meaning of this constitutional right and the protections that flow from it.

The sentiments expressed by Rep. Johnson used to be understood by both sides of the aisle, a point that he made at this week’s hearing. They certainly were back in 1993 when RFRA was passed unanimously by the House, 97-3 by the Senate, and then signed into law by President Bill Clinton. RFRA promises that a fair hearing will be given to all individuals whose religious freedom has been infringed by the government. That’s it. It does not favor any one ideology over the other or predetermine an outcome. As Matthew Sharp, Senior Counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, testified at the hearing, even when RFRA is used the government often wins.

Disagreement is Not Discrimination

Many proponents of the Do No Harm Act claim it is necessary because discrimination is happening in the name of religious liberty under RFRA. However, there is a big gap between acting on personal convictions and discriminating, or forcing others to believe the same as you. Disagreement is not discrimination. RFRA does not allow individuals to force others to believe the same as them. That is not religious freedom, and RFRA does not protect it.

The Do No Harm Act would be the cause of harm and discrimination, not the alleviator of it. The Little Sisters of the Poor used RFRA in their fight against the government trying to force them to provide contraceptives, but they would no longer be able to bring a RFRA claim under the Do No Harm Act.

The Displacement of Children in Need

A few Democrats made a fuss about the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) using RFRA to grant Miracle Hill Ministries, a faith-based adoption and foster care agency in South Carolina, a waiver from Obama-era regulations still in effect that would force them to violate their conscience or stop serving children in need. Democrats bemoaned the granting of this waiver in the hearing and claimed that such waivers are harmful to the children in need of loving homes.

In fact, the opposite is true. When Catholic Charities was shut down in Illinois, nearly 3,000 children were displaced. When Philadelphia cut its contracts with two of their 30 partner agencies because they were faith-based, foster parents (one of whom was a “foster parent of the year”) were left with empty homes and siblings faced the possibility of not being placed together. Ironically, all this occurred after the city put out an urgent call for hundreds of new foster homes. Birth moms have also expressed their desire to use faith-based agencies to help them navigate the darkest time in their life and to place their child in a home of a particular faith. They deserve that option, but would see it shut down if proponents of the Do No Harm Act get their way.

In Michigan, St. Vincent Catholic Charities is one of the most successful adoption agencies in the state, performing 90 percent better than the other agencies in its area. However, when Michigan attempted to cut ties with the religious organization (which would have severe negative impacts as noted above), the organization was able to team with Becket Law to argue that their rights were being violated. Discovery in the case found that they were clearly being targeted because they were faith-based. Children in their care had been adopted by couples identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) through other agencies in the state. The same-sex couple who sued also lived closer to three or four other agencies they could have worked with. Yet the Do No Harm Act would strip Catholic Charities of the ability to even have their claim heard. This case is ongoing.

A Threat to the Foundation of Peaceful Co-existence

Religious liberty and non-discrimination are not at odds—rather, they promote each other by allowing people to freely act on the values that are most important to them.

Religious freedom was a founding principle of our nation, and it led to the ability for people of all faiths to live together peacefully—because the government never forced them to act against their personal beliefs. RFRA is the door that ensures people will always have recourse in court if the government violates this freedom, yet the Do No Harm Act would shut that door to many.

Mary Beth Waddell is the Senior Legislative Assistant at Family Research Council. Luke Isbell is an intern at Family Research Council.

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The Summer of Love: The Beauty of the Marriage Covenant

by Hugh Phillips

June 27, 2019

During the month of June, the wedding season is in full swing. Yet, June is also celebrated as “LGBT Pride Month.” Throughout this month, the LGBT lobby argues that they are “celebrating love” and claim that their movement is based in love and a respect for human dignity. However, much of the LGBT movement is based on a misguided notion of love that is rooted in a harmful postmodern hedonism that, as Nancy Pearcey details in her book Love Thy Body, actually devalues human dignity.  

In this season, Christian conservatives must draw Americans toward the beauty of the true love that the natural marriage covenant between one man and one woman provides. To do this we must properly define love.

Competing Views of Love

Natural marriage and the LGBT movement represent two competing worldviews on what love and marriage actually mean. The LGBT movement, born from the sexual revolution, bases its definition of love on subjective feelings and emotions. They argue that all feelings, attractions, and passions for a person, and any relationships that result, should be celebrated and protected by state law.  This view can be tied with the modern assertion of marriage and relationships as merely contractual agreements.

 Pearcey discusses this when she notes that, long before the sexual revolution, the secular worldview devalued the basis of love and marriage from an unconditional covenant to a contract focused on how the relationship can benefit each individual. Thus, the modern view of relationships, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is based on personal fulfillment of desire and is no longer grounded in selfless love and fulfillment based on adhering to God’s natural design. This irrational view of relationships overlooks the unnatural and harmful effects of such relationships while also disregarding a truthful view of what love actually is.

Biblical Love and the Marriage Covenant

By contrast, the biblical worldview sees relational love as an objective choice and duty that, while often accompanied by emotions, is not dependent on those emotions as the basis of the relationship. In fact, as C.S. Lewis notes in The Abolition of Man, the hallmark of adulthood is being able to train one’s emotions so that they conform to the moral law of God’s natural order. Marriage is the greatest expression of and training ground for this because, under the biblical model, the couple are called to give up their own desires and wants for that of their spouse.

Marriage is the best institution in which to express the biblical model of love. This is revealed in God’s original purpose for marriage. The Bible is clear that the marriage covenant was created by God as a metaphor for His sacrificial love and salvation for His people. Theologian Dr. R.C. Sproul noted: “Marriage is ordained and instituted by God—that is to say, marriage did not just spring up arbitrarily out of social conventions or human taboos. Marriage was not invented by men but by God.” Thus, when Paul speaks on marriage, it makes absolute sense when he urges husbands to “…love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her…” Covenant marriage is an institutional protection of covenant love.

The biblical model of love and marriage, as revealed strikingly in God’s design for marriage, is revolutionary because its emphasis is, not on the individual, but on the other person. This is explicitly shown in the marriage vows which detail and initiate the marriage covenant. In the vows, the focus is on one’s duties and obligations to the other person, not on fulfilling one’s own desires. This is an expression of biblical love. When Paul speaks on the characteristics of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, all the characteristics are strikingly focused towards the good of others and not one’s own good.

This is why Family Research Council has always defended natural marriage and has seen it as the bedrock of a safe and prosperous society. Besides the plethora of proven social benefits that marriage has for society, it is one of the keys to the future of America, both culturally and politically. It is so for this reason: it both teaches and models selfless love for another, a trait vitally necessary for the survival of any Republic such as ours.

The Beauty of True Love and the Marriage Covenant

In an age of LGBTQ “rights” and the celebration of sexual confusion and personal desire above all, our culture must return to a celebration and respect for the beauty of the selfless marriage covenant. Let’s return to the picture of a man and a woman sacrificially committing themselves to each other in marriage on a beautiful summer afternoon. Let’s also think of the beauty and powerful testimony of that same couple, now old, having remained faithfully committed in a lifetime of service to each other under God. Most Americans would smile at this picture. Why wouldn’t they? Such a relationship is a natural human desire!

Thus, in an era dominated by individualism and obsessed with personal autonomy and choice, Christians and conservatives should counter the LGBT movement by showing the beauty and joy of the mutual sacrifice and commitment of the natural marriage covenant. Nothing will counter the harmful effects of the sexual revolution or show the Gospel more clearly than the picture of a man and a woman unconditionally giving themselves to each other’s service for a lifetime. Against this type of true love and commitment the sexual revolution has no power.

So, this summer, let’s respond to LGBT Pride Month by celebrating the beauty of marriage according to God’s design and the couples who have been faithful in marriage. Let us also recommit ourselves as a movement to living out in our own marriages the faithfulness of the marriage covenant and truly mirroring God’s faithfulness towards us, His redeemed! It’s June—thank God for the wonder of His gift of marriage!

Hugh Phillips is a Government Affairs Intern at Family Research Council working on pro-life legislation.

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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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Political Agendas are Destroying the Unity of Sports

by Abigail Ross

June 25, 2019

I grew up around sports. My family spent nearly every weekend cheering on our teams at various sporting events. At the age of five, I joined my first swim team. Today, I am a collegiate athlete. Sports have allowed me to meet so many wonderful people, many of whom had differing political, religious, and personal convictions from my own. The politically neutral platform that sports provide has allowed fans and athletes to have open conversations about our different views, while still being unified in our love for the sport. This free and open space is now being jeopardized.

It seems that no entity is free from the hyper-politicized climate of today’s society, including sports. Profit-driven political agendas are being pushed by teams. Players and fans are forced to conform to and adopt the political messages their team is promoting. This is forcing many to compromise their religious beliefs as they engage with their team. The sports arena is no longer a unifying space.

In a recent FRC Speaker Series event, Dr. Jennifer Bryson spoke about the politicization of sports, and how it is forcing many to jeopardize their religious beliefs. Dr. Bryson, an avid sports fan, is the founder of  Let All Play, which advocates to protect inclusivity and fairness in sports and games by keeping political and religious exclusivity out. In her presentation, she shared examples of the politicization and religious exclusivity that is happening in the world of sports, particularly in soccer.

In 2018, the German Bundesliga team, VfL Wolfsburg, issued a press release detailing their decision to have team captains wear a LGBT rainbow armband. The publication details the team’s stance, proclaiming, “One Team, One Belief.” VfL Wolfsburg made it clear that they were using the armbands to make a political statement: “[We’re] sending a clear message that we stand for diversity.” However, this so-called “diversity” only stands for leftist ideals, excluding religious or political diversity. Josip Brekalo, when offered the position of captain, was faced with a difficult choice. He could accept the honor of captain and wear the armband, but would be forced to compromise his beliefs by doing so. Brekalo refused to support his team’s political agenda and declined the position.

This is not the only instance within the soccer world where players have been forced to display the LGBT rainbow.

Jaelene Hinkle, an American soccer player, was called up to the U.S. Women’s National Team in June 2017. She declined the offer. In an interview with CBN, Hinkle revealed that accepting the promotion would have forced her to violate her religious beliefs. The U.S. Women’s National Team’s uniforms sported LGBT rainbow numbers. Hinkle, a Christian, refused to promote the team’s political agenda, and gave up her dream to do so, saying, “I’m essentially giving up the one dream little girls dream about their entire life… It was very disappointing. And I think that’s where the peace trumped the disappointment. Because I knew in my spirit I was doing the right thing. I knew that I was being obedient.” The sport is becoming disturbingly exclusive—forcing out those who disagree with the political agendas rife on the field. 

Not only were these instances violations of religious liberty, but they were in direct violation of FIFA rules. 

FIFA’s Law 04 Section 5 states that equipment, including the uniform, “must not have any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images.” The LGBT rainbow is one of the best-known political symbols worldwide. LGBT rainbow uniform numbers and armbands are not acceptable under current FIFA rules. Many Muslims and Christians who have spoken out about these instances have not been heard. The celebration of this falsely labeled “diversity” is drowning out those who are standing up for religious liberty in sports, such as many Muslims and Christians.

As Dr. Bryson pointed out, people in all walks of life can take a stand for religious liberty in sports.

  • Sports ministries like FIFA need to enforce the rules they have set.
  • Parents must familiarize themselves with the rules of the team their children play on. They must prepare themselves and their children to take a stand for religious freedom when necessary.
  • Athletes must stand up for religious freedom by advocating for their own religious accommodation rights and advocate against the politicization of sports.
  • Non-profits should educate and have materials for parents, athletes, and teams on how to respond to instances similar to those detailed above.
  • Congress must hold national teams accountable to the rules they have set. They must take action to keep politics out of the sports arena.

You can help keep FIFA free of political symbols. Sign the petition today.

Read more at LetAllPlay.org.

Abigail Ross is an intern at Family Research Council.

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Pro-Life Title X Rule Upheld, For Now

by Connor Semelsberger , Mary Jayne Caum

June 21, 2019

On a recent humid June day in the nation’s capital, the debate over President Donald Trump’s Protect Life Rule governing the Title X Family Planning Program heated up. Led by Chairwoman Diane Degette (D-Colo.), the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing to promote the continued relationship between these family planning funds and the abortion industry. Dr. Diane Foley from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) defended the Protect Life Rule against attacks that this rule change will limit a woman’s ability to receive proper family planning services, by ensuring that doctors can continue to provide non-directive counseling on all healthcare options as the statute lays out.

As a key pro-life issue for the Family Research Council, we submitted a letter to the record outlining specifically how this final rule draws a clear line between family planning funds and the abortion industry without reducing the quality of care for each patient.

Dr. Foley went even further to say that the Protect Life Rule will provide a broader array of family planning services by encouraging innovative approaches for care in rural communities and removing the abortion referral requirement, thus allowing faith-based providers to apply for Title X grants, as outlined in our brief on the Protect Life Rule. Although Dr. Foley continually reminded the subcommittee that the Title X statute specifically states abortion cannot be used as a method of family planning, Democrat Members could only see the issue through the lens of abortion access. Rep. Jan Schakowky (D-Ill.) put it most bluntly when she said, “This is about abortion, this is about trying to limit women from having their full reproductive rights.”

Within 24 hours of the subcommittee hearing on Title X, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit granted HHS’s motion to stay the preliminary injunction, which would allow the Protect Life Rule to go into effect until the lawsuit is resolved. While this Order does not decide the fate of the Protect Life Rule, the Court’s Order was encouraging. Typically, the 9th Circuit has been critical of the Trump administration’s policies. As exemplified by the lower courts granting preliminary injunctions to halt the implementation of the Protect Life Rule, courts will often ignore the law to advance a political agenda.

Surprisingly, the 9th Circuit lifted the nationwide preliminary injunction and insisted that delaying the implementation of the Protect Life Rule would be detrimental to both HHS and the American public. Listening to the concerns expressed by HHS, the Court feared that if the preliminary injunctions remained in place, the law would be violated and taxpayer money would fund abortions. Moreover, the Court concluded that HHS would likely be victorious in this lawsuit.

Additionally, the Court reaffirmed the validity of Rust v. Sullivan (a Supreme Court case which upheld regulations nearly identical to the Protect Life Rule). Furthermore, the Court emphasized that the restrictions on abortion referrals does not violate the non-directive counseling requirement. Although Democrats on Capitol Hill continue to claim the Protect Life Rule violates existing law, the Order from the 9th Circuit states otherwise. Hopefully, this temporary win for the Protect Life Rule will be a sign of what is to come from the ongoing legal battle.

Connor Semelsberger is Legislative Assistant at Family Research Council. Mary Jayne Caum is a Policy intern at Family Research Council.

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3 Religious Freedom Cases to Keep an Eye On

by Luke Isbell

June 21, 2019

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that a cross-shaped memorial in Bladensburg, Maryland does not violate the Establishment Clause. The memorial honors veterans that sacrificed themselves to defend our nation, and the ruling by SCOTUS sets a new precedent for the constitutionality of religious memorials across the nation. This is a huge win for the right to religious freedom in the public sphere, but there are several other critical battles still being fought on the issue of religious freedom.

Free expression of personal beliefs in public and at work is the cornerstone of our pluralistic society, government, and free market. At Family Research Council, we actively track attacks on religious freedom in our Hostility to Religion Report, which we will be updating soon. Here are three important ongoing court cases that you need to be aware of:

1. Oregon Family Threatened and Sued for Refusing to Bake a Cake for a Same-Sex Union

Melissa and Aaron Klein owned Sweet Cakes by Melissa, a bakery located in Gresham, Oregon. When they declined to bake a cake for a same-sex union, they quickly became a target of a lawsuit. The same-sex couple that requested the cake filed a complaint against the Kleins with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI). When BOLI ruled against the Kleins, stating that they discriminated against the couple by not baking a cake, the Kleins were forced to pay $135,000 and closed their shop in September of 2013. Significant public backlash caused the Kleins to be fearful of their safety, especially after receiving threats against their children. The family refused to back down from fighting for their religious beliefs, and they appealed the case to the Oregon Court of Appeals in 2016, but the court declined to hear the case. On June 17, 2019, after appealing to the Supreme Court, SCOTUS remanded the case back to the lower Oregon courts—advising them to reconsider the case in light of the decision made in the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision.

2. Church Sues Against Washington State Requirement to Cover Cost of Abortions

In March of this year, Washington state passed legislation that would force any insurance plan that covers maternity costs to also cover abortions. Horrified of being forced to support something directly opposed to their pro-life beliefs, Cedar Park Assembly of God filed a suit against the state’s new law. Cedar Park Assembly actively serves in pregnancy centers and assists with foster children and infertile couples, and the church’s pro-life views are directly opposed to providing staffers with insurance that would pay for abortions. No church or organization that firmly and actively believes in the right to life should be forced to pay for abortions. Cedar Park Assembly of God has partnered with Alliance Defending Freedom to challenge the unconstitutional law in court. 

3. Michigan Attempts to Discriminate Against Faith-Based Adoption and Foster Agencies

For 70 years, St. Vincent has provided foster and adoption care for thousands of children in need in Michigan—and they have made a huge impact. In 2017 alone, St. Vincent performed better than 90 percent of agencies in its area with finding children a loving home. However, the Attorney General of Michigan announced in March of 2019 that they were going to permanently end the state’s relationship with faith-based adoption and foster care agencies. The policy claims to be an attempt to “protect” same-sex couples that would be refused from adopting from a faith-based organization, but St. Vincent has always referred same-sex couples to other adoption agencies when approached. Ultimately, not only would the state refusing to work with organizations like St. Vincent further worsen the chances of children finding the homes they desperately need, but such a policy is in clear contradiction to religious liberty that is integral to life in the United States. On April 15, 2019, St. Vincent partnered with Becket Law to sue against Michigan’s damaging policy.

These three cases exemplify the attacks on religious liberty that are becoming increasingly frequent. The right to freedom of conscience—the ability to not be forced to do something that is against your religious beliefs—fundamentally defined the founding of our nation. Religious liberty fosters the ideological plurality that allows people of all faiths to find solidarity in the United States, and the pluralism that religious liberty creates forms the groundwork for our society.

Tragically, in the name of “non-discrimination,” these fundamental rights are now being strategically stripped away. Ironically, policies intending to be non-discriminatory can be the most discriminatory policies of all.

If laws are passed to prevent people from living and working according their personal religious beliefs, the only result will be discrimination against all in favor of none.

Luke Isbell is an intern at Family Research Council.

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Prostitution: Women Deserve Better (Part 1 of 3)

by Patrina Mosley

June 20, 2019

One woman described her experience of the sex of prostitution very succinctly when she referred to it as: ‘Paid rape.’ … . another woman described it as ‘like signing a contract to be raped’ … I described prostitution as ‘being raped for a living.’” (National Center on Sexual Exploitation report)

In places like D.C. and New York, the possibility of decriminalizing prostitution has come back on the horizon. Activists are now referring to prostitution as “sex work”—a deceptive term used to label the buying and selling of human beings for sex as a legitimate profession. This concept was even being promoted to teenage girls in Teen Vogue, with the headline “Why Sex Work is Real Work.” To legitimize men buying women for sex is to say that men have a right to women’s bodies by default. This should enrage every feminist to the core and cause them to come clawing in like a mama bear on anyone who tells teen girls that “men buying your body is a legitimate profession for your future.”

The commercial sex trade is sexual exploitation—it should never be somebody’s job to be exploited by another human being.

That being said, we should not discount the various factors that play a part in leading some women to the commercial sex trade. Often, these women have been sexually abused, come from broken homes, face drug and alcohol addiction, and have been emotionally comprised, manipulated, lured, coerced, or forced into prostitution. To glamorize a system that preys upon these vulnerabilities and is only sustained by dehumanizing the individual is inherently evil.

In reality, there are no good arguments for why it is okay to buy and sell women, girls, boys, or persons who identify as LGBTQ for sex. In 2013, Business Insider published an article advocating for the decriminalization of prostitution in the United States. None of the arguments made back then have changed significantly to this day, and they are still used to spread current misconceptions about prostitution.

Would Legalizing Prostitution Reduce Violence Against Women?

No. A study published in the Journal of Trauma Practice indicates that violence is prevalent within the world of prostitution and tends to be multi-traumatic. The study contained 854 individuals (women, girls, and transgendered people) currently or recently in prostitution in nine countries (Canada, Colombia, Germany, Mexico, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, United States, and Zambia). According to the study (as reported by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation):

Some of those interviewed had been trafficked for the purpose of prostitution and were engaged in legal prostitution. Types and amount of violence experienced in prostitution are as follows:

  • 71% physically assaulted;
  • 57% raped; of those raped, 59% were raped more than 5 times;
  • 64% threatened with a weapon;
  • 88% verbal abuse;
  • 49% had pornography made of them;
  • 47% were upset by attempts to coerce them to perform something a sex buyer had seen in pornography;
  • In Germany, where prostitution is legal, 59% responded that prostitution is not safer with legalization;
  • 89% wanted to exit prostitution.
  • Equating prostitution with death, one woman stated, “Why commit suicide? I’ll work in prostitution instead (p. 53).”

Another study reported that 68 percent of women in prostitution met the criteria for PTSD.

Here are some more disturbing statistics from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s report:

  • Interviews of 100 individuals (females (42%), males (32%), and transgender males (26%)) involved in street-based prostitution in inner city Washington, D.C., found high incidents of violence. Since entering prostitution, 61% reported being physically assaulted, with the majority being perpetrated by sexual buyers (75%).”
  • A study of 106 women involved in street-based prostitution conducted in New York City reported types and amounts of violence experience while in prostitution included: Physical abuse (45.3%), Sexual abuse (34.9%), and Physical and sexual abuse (50.0%).”
  • An investigation into the mortality rate of women in prostitution revealed that the leading cause of death was homicide (19%) and found that actively prostituting women were nearly 18 times more likely to be murdered than women of similar age and race during the study interval.”

Dear Teen Vogue, does this sound like the type of “purchasing intimacy” you want girls to go into?

The Business Insider piece was shockingly written by a female who even acknowledged the violence perpetrated on women in prostitution by citing two studies, one from San Francisco where it was found that 82% of prostitutes “had been assaulted and 68% had been raped while working as prostitutes,” and another study in Colorado Springs that found prostitutes were “18 times more likely to be murdered than non-prostitutes their age and race”—yet the argument is made that because prostitution is illegal, these women can’t call for help when their hazardous “work” conditions are too dangerous.

The answer is not to legitimize something bad so less bad things will happen, but to confront injustice with justice.

Do any of these statistics sound like proper “work” for any individual? Why are women allowing other people to tell them that they should settle for this as “work”?

Prostitution clearly isn’t work, it’s paid violence against women.

Even a self-identified former prostitute and D.C. activist for legalizing prostitution shared her story of violence in the trade: “I myself am a former sex worker and faced violence that I couldn’t report to anyone. I have been stabbed several times, beaten and chased by a car. There were times I could have remembered license plates or at least reported the incidents; but because sex work is criminalized, these dangerous people, they’re still out there.”

Wrong. These people are still out there because we fail to prosecute buyers of sex and pimps as much as we do the women who prostitute.

Attitudes of Male Buyers Towards Prostitutes

After interviewing 16 women (aged 20-38) incarcerated for prostitution-related offenses, the authors noted:

Once a prostitute has consented to any exchange of sex for money, these women see many men as assuming that she has given up the right to refuse consent in any situation. Once her sexuality has been ‘purchased,’ her body ‘belongs’ to the purchaser to use. This was the constant theme in the interviews. Many women encountered men who treated their agreement to engage in some form of sex as permission to abuse the women’s bodies in any way they wished, as long as they gave the women monetary compensation.”

The study “Deconstructing The Demand for Prostitution: Preliminary Insights From Interviews With Chicago Men Who Purchase Sex” interviewed 113 self-reported male buyers face-to-face, recruited in advertisements in free publications and on Craigslist. Here are some of the findings:

  • 46% “purchased sex in order to obtain sex acts they either felt uncomfortable asking of their partner or which their partner refused to perform,” including oral and anal sex.
  • 43% said if they pay for sex, the woman should do anything they ask.
  • 13% “would rape a woman if they knew they could get away with it.”
  • 19% admitted to raping a woman.
  • 57% “believed that the majority of women in prostitution experienced some type of childhood abuse.”
  • 32% thought the majority of women had entered prostitution before the age of 18.
  • 20% “thought that they had bought sex from women who were trafficked from other countries.”
  • 75% have seen women with a pimp.
  • 40% knowingly bought a woman in prostitution who was under pimp/trafficker control.

Here are some verbatim comments from buyers:

She has no rights because you are paying for a sex act- she gives up the right to say no.”

…she gave up her rights when she accepted my money.”

Prostitutes are like a product, like cereal. You go to the grocery, pick the brand you want, and pay for it. It’s business.”

I almost killed a hooker because she tried to run off with my money and I wasn’t going to let her. I used the blunt side of the knife. She tried to leave the car. We struggled for awhile. I wanted to scare her, so I put the blunt side of the knife to her throat. Somehow there was blood, and she gave the money back. I left her lying down in the street. I didn’t even want the money no more.”

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 to see how prostitution is linked to sex trafficking and the path forward for going after the perpetrators of sexual exploitation.

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