Tag Archive for: Religious Freedom

Report Catalogues Dozens of New Incidents of Persecution against Christians in the West

Religious persecution against Christians in the Western world is rising at an alarming rate, according to a new report from Family Research Council’s Center for Religious Liberty.

In the 2024 edition of “Free to Believe? The Intensifying Intolerance Toward Christians in The West,” the Center for Religious Liberty identified 168 incidents of anti-Christian hatred or discrimination from January 2020 to the end of 2023, including 33 incidents last year alone. Although 2020 (61) and 2021 (49) saw the most incidents of persecution against Christians, the majority were related to COVID-19 lockdown violations, but the report notes an increase in intolerance toward public and even private expression of biblical worldviews in the West.

The report states, “As the mainstream culture moves further and further away from a Christian worldview, Christian beliefs that contradict progressive secular values are increasingly denounced by the culture and wrongly portrayed as being hateful or bigoted.” It adds, “The past three years each having fewer incidents than 2020 does not necessarily indicate an overall decline in intolerance toward Christians. … Although FRC identified fewer incidents related to COVID-19 after 2020, incidents that we identified of Christians facing discrimination for their biblically informed beliefs increased.”

“This report is a warning call,” wrote FRC President Tony Perkins in a letter attached to the report. “It is shocking to see Western countries — the same ones we think of as free and open societies — take authoritarian measures against Christians simply trying to live out their faith. Hostility toward Bible-believing Christians is clearly and steadily rising in the West.” Perkins, former commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, added, “Religious freedom is the foundation for the human rights that Western democracies seek to promote abroad. Yet, the ability to promote this fundamental human right will be lost if we do not protect it within our borders.”

In comments to The Washington Stand, Center for Religious Liberty Director Arielle Del Turco said, “We remain clear-eyed about religious freedom conditions in Western democracies. It’s easy to take our rights for granted, but we are seeing governments across the West target Christians to be silenced, restricted, or fined for living out their faith or expressing their religious beliefs.” She continued, “Often, the pressure point revolves around Christians’ ability to speak about doctrine that contradicts mainstream secular orthodoxy on issues such as abortion, transgenderism, or same-sex marriage.”

Although the report is “far from exhaustive,” some of the 2023 incidents in the U.S. include:

  • An Ohio pastor being fined for allowing homeless to sleep in his church;
  • A Texas church being charged excessive fees by a county utility company and seeing those fees doubled after the church noted its tax-exempt status;
  • The Oklahoma attorney general suing a virtual school board for approving a publicly-funded Catholic charter school;
  • An Oregon couple being denied a foster care license due to their biblical views on sex and gender;
  • A California library cancelling a Moms for Liberty event when a speaker expressed biblical views on gender and biology;
  • A Georgia church being threatened with fines for hosting a car show as a form of community outreach;
  • A Christian school in Colorado being denied a religious exemption from a pro-LGBT state discrimination law;
  • An Oregon church being threatened with fines for providing free meals to the homeless;
  • A school counselor in Indiana being fired for speaking out against her school district’s preferred pronoun policy;
  • A Vermont Christian school being barred from a state tuition program for upholding biblical values on sex and gender;
  • A Christian high school coach (also in Vermont) being fired for saying that there’s a biological difference between men and women;
  • An Arizona elementary school district ending a teaching partnership with Arizona Christian University;
  • A California teacher being fired for refusing to comply with a policy hiding students’ gender transitions from parents; and
  • A Colorado cake shop owner being sued for refusing to make cakes celebrating gender transitions, Satanism, or marijuana use.

In the United Kingdom, two town councilors were penalized (one was even arrested) for speaking out against a local Pride parade, a school chaplain was fired for telling students they don’t “have to accept the ideas of LGBT activists,” and at least six people were arrested or fined for praying outside abortion facilities or holding pro-life signs.

In Canada, a pastor was arrested twice for praying outside a library drag queen story hour, a church was fined for hosting in-person services in 2020, and a teen at a Catholic school was arrested for organizing a protest against biological men using women’s bathrooms. A Christian hybrid school was shut down in Germany, a Maltese health care worker was charged with a crime for sharing in an interview how he left the homosexual lifestyle, a Norwegian city denied Christian organizations community grant funding due to their biblical views on sex and gender, a woman was arrested in Spain for praying the rosary, and a Swedish bakery was investigated for refusing to bake a same-sex wedding cake.

Perkins noted, “This report is merely a sampling of the rise of actions by Western governmental officials that target Christians’ ability to practice and express their faith, especially in the public square.” He explained that the report “is a call to individuals to vigorously exercise their religious freedom while at the same time calling upon government officials to recognize and prioritize the protection of this fundamental human right so that religious freedom can continue to be promoted around the world.”

AUTHOR

S.A. McCarthy

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

‘Bah Humbug’: Pa. School Districts Warns Bus Drivers against Christmas Decorations

A Keystone State school board is banning school bus drivers from putting up Christmas decorations. On Friday, just over a week before Christmas, the Wallingford-Swarthmore school district in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, issued a memo to school bus drivers saying, “If you have decorated your bus with anything specific to the Christmas Holiday or any other decorations relating to a specific religion, please remove them immediately.”

The memo concludes, “In addition, employees are instructed not to wear clothing related to Christmas or any other religious holiday.” According to the memo, school district leadership “has been receiving complaints from parents concerning District employees displaying ‘Christmas’ themed decorations and/or wearing clothing of the same nature.” A note adds that the policy is not specific to school bus drivers but “APPLIES TO ALL DISTRICT EMPLOYEES.”

According to reporter Chris O’Connell of Fox 29 Philadelphia, who shared the memo on social media, school bus drivers have responded to the memo with variations of “Bah humbug.”

In comments to The Washington Stand, Meg Kilgannon, senior fellow for Education Studies at Family Research Council, asked, “Are there drivers with Pride flags? BLM flags? Culturally sensitive flags of other nations? Just what kinds of personal expressions are okay in the school district?” She further noted, “When even the commercialized and virtually-religion-free Christmas observance is disallowed, we have lost all sense of identity as Americans and certainly Western civilization. Woe to the bus driver who tries to create an atmosphere of joy, peace, and love for the children on his or her bus.”

Joseph Backholm, FRC’s senior fellow for Biblical Worldview, told TWS that the ban on Christmas decorations is “an issue of people in leadership who always follow rather than lead.” He said, “The school district apparently received a complaint from someone that a bus driver was spreading too much Christmas cheer, and instead of telling that parent they encourage every bus driver to be as festive as possible, they decided it was their job to protect the emotionally fragile.” Although “Christmas” is named explicitly in the memo, Backholm noted that the inclusion of “any other religious holiday” was “certainly done on the advice of their lawyers, because it would be illegal to just ban Christmas displays and clothing.”

“There’s nothing illegal about employees who wear holiday clothing at work, which is why we see it all the time. But in this case the school district decided to side with the complaints of the few against the joy and celebrations of the many,” Backholm explained. “We now live in a world where some people are looking for reasons to be offended and they often find reason to be offended in the joy of others. The public square will once again be open once we stop pretending people have a right not to be offended by things.”

According to Fox 29 Philadelphia, the school district clarified Friday night that their intent was “not clear” and reversed the ban on holiday decorations and clothing, emphasizing instead a need for bus drivers to create “an inclusive environment.”

“The parents who want to remove the decorations should spend a week on the bus to see what kind of environment their children and the bus drivers experience daily,” Kilgannon said. “Parents know that in many school districts bus discipline is nonexistent and enforcing any behavioral norm is often punished — by just this kind of complaint. Taxpayers on the other hand who have no kids in school have no idea that this kind of situation is funded by their generosity.”

AUTHOR

S.A. McCarthy 

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Army Tries to Bring Back Soldiers Booted for Refusing the COVID Vaccine

In August of 2021, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made the COVID vaccination shot a requirement for all U.S. servicemembers. President Joe Biden released a statement revealing his strong support before it went into effect. As a result, Politico reported that over “8,400 troops were kicked out of the military for refusing the vaccine.” About a year later, Biden signed a defense bill that repealed the vaccine mandate.

This month, news broke that the Army has sent letters to many of the troops who were ousted, which explains that soldiers can correct their records and reenter the service. The reversal has been met with tremendous backlash.

Retired Army Major Chase Spears wrote about the mistreatment servicemembers faced while the vaccine mandate was in effect. He shared, “The Army requires several immunizations and checkups throughout the year to maintain one’s medical readiness. Not one of those came with the coercive force of the COVID mandate. … It became the primary marker of human worth.” For Spears, the Army officials who heavily enforced the mandate seem to have no remorse for their actions. He added, “Hearkening back to biblical language, you were clean or unclean based on your shot status.”

Spears described the policy reversal as “a step toward sanity,” but concluded “it is far from enough.” “The question is whether those who made such un-American policy decisions can be trusted going forward.” He believes they cannot. Those affected by the military’s course of action have insisted this is a matter of trust and warn the military is about to get a wake-up call from the soldiers who no longer have confidence in the current leadership.

Many of the soldiers affected by the vaccine mandate were deprived of pay and benefits. According to Breitbart, retired attorney Dale Saran and attorneys Andy Meyer and Brandon Johnson are representing former troops who were kicked out “in three separate lawsuits they plan to turn into a class action lawsuit.” Saran estimated roughly “80,000 to 100,000 service members — both active-duty and reservists — who were impacted by the mandate.”

Mike Berry, vice president of External Affairs, director of Military Affairs, and senior counsel for First Liberty Institute, commented to The Washington Stand, “The only way an all-volunteer military works is with trust. But these past few years, the Pentagon has done nothing but shatter the trust of our servicemembers and veterans with lies, broken promises, and incompetence.” He explained that when First Liberty first “sued the Navy over its COVID vaccine mandate,” they warned them that the “unlawful manner in which the DOD was enforcing the mandate would result in a recruiting crisis.”

On Tuesday’s episode of “Washington Watch,” Berry unpacked the mandate’s rollback more. As far as he’s concerned, the problem with the letter is that it “doesn’t say anything about accountability.” He added, “It’s not about accomplishing the mission. And in this case, it’s not about protecting religious freedom, which is one of the things that our military exists to do.” He concluded, “They know what this is all about. This is all about just trying to save face, trying to make sure that on paper, our military is meeting its recruiting and retention numbers.”

Travis Weber, vice president for Policy and Government Affairs at Family Research Council and a Navy veteran, also commented to TWS, “The military never should have coerced its servicemembers to get the vaccine to begin with.” For Weber and all those witnessing the unfolding of the military’s actions, we “are dealing with the fallout as they try to woo back the thousands that they kicked out for refusing to violate their consciences and get the vaccine.”

Weber shared that it’s not surprising that servicemembers would be hesitant to return “to an institution that so easily thrust them aside in the face of public pressure” during COVID, which “the military bowed to along with much of the rest of society.” He concluded, “May this sad episode never be repeated, and may our nation’s military and civilian leadership be on guard to ensure they actually lead and not simply follow the blowing winds of public sentiment.”

AUTHOR

Sarah Holliday

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Court Rejects Satanic Temple’s Abortion Petition

A federal court is rejecting the Satanic Temple’s petition to protect abortion as a religious ritual. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas threw out a complaint earlier this week filed by the Satanic Temple back in 2021 and amended last year after Roe v. Wade was overturned. The complaint argued that pro-life laws in Texas infringed on the religious liberty of practicing Satanists, as abortions (especially first-trimester abortions) are a religious ritual in the Satanic Temple. The court determined that the Satanic Temple doesn’t have standing to file the complaint.

The Satanic Temple filed the initial complaint in 2021 in the wake of Texas’s heartbeat bill, citing a violation of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the Satanic Temple amended its complaint, explicating Texas’ pro-life trigger laws prevent Satanists from practicing abortion “rituals.” Lawyers for the Satanic Temple cited the Temple’s “tenets,” one of which proclaims, “One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone,” a variation of the common, “My body, my choice” slogan often used by pro-abortion activists.

“The Satanic Temple considers it a victory when they can undermine sincerely held religious beliefs by pretending their legal complaints based on ‘religious freedom’ are legitimate and deserve the same consideration given to religions like Christianity,” Arielle Del Turco, director at Family Research Council’s Center for Religious Liberty, told The Washington Stand. “It’s good to see that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas rejected The Satanic Temple’s lawsuit. People know this is a stunt, and we shouldn’t get caught up in their game.”

The Satanic Temple has long been an advocate of abortion and also filed suits against pro-life laws in Missouri, Idaho, and Indiana. After Roe was overturned, the Temple announced it would open an abortion facility selling abortifacient drugs and named “Samuel Alito’s Mom’s Satanic Abortion Clinic,” mockingly named after the Catholic Supreme Court Justice who wrote the opinion overturning Roe. On its website, the Satanic Temple states, “Consistent with our tenets that call for bodily autonomy and acting in accordance with best scientific evidence, The Satanic Temple religiously objects to many of the restrictions that states have enacted that interfere with abortion access.”

In 2020, a Satanic Temple spokesperson explained, “We’re objecting to the regulations that are not actually necessary for the abortion and do not offer better outcomes. [It] would be unconstitutional to require a waiting period before receiving Holy Communion. … So we expect the same rights as any other religious organization.” Perhaps somewhat ironically, the Catholic Church itself requires a sort of waiting period before receiving Holy Communion, demanding that Catholic confess their sins and receive absolution before presenting themselves to receive Communion.

Del Turco summarized the situation by noting, “[P]rogressive ideologues self-identifying as Satanists are literally going to court to defend abortion not on a scientific basis, but by claiming abortion is one of their religious ‘rituals.’ And while this is gross and shocking enough to make headlines, it just confirms what Christians have always known — that the religious fervor demonstrated by pro-abortion activists is not just political, it’s spiritual.”

No court judgment has yet been issued addressing the Satanic Temple’s lawsuits in Missouri, Idaho, and Indiana. The dismissal in Texas does not take into account the merits of the case, only the lack of standing of the plaintiff identified as “Jane Doe.”

AUTHOR

S.A. McCarthy

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Dozens of Major Corporations Have Abysmal Protections for Free Speech, Religion: Study

Dozens of major corporations lack adequate protections for free speech and religion even as several companies have improved since last year, a new study suggests.

The study was conducted in partnership with the investment technology service Inspire Insight, which provides faith-based investing data and ratings to thousands of institutions.

Only two of the 75 companies examined had scored over 25 in their respect for speech and religion. ADF contends that “millions of everyday Americans are at risk of cancelation or punishment for their views.”

The bottom five companies when it comes to respecting free speech and religious freedom rights are Airbnb (2%), Amazon.com (4%), Alphabet (Google) (4%), eBay (5%) and Microsoft (5%). Those companies saw their scores drop by 3%, 2%, 5%, 2% and 0%, respectively, compared to last year.

“Threats to freedom don’t just come from the government, but from major corporations like financial institutions and big tech companies that have concentrated power over essential services and communication channels,” said ADF Senior Counsel and Senior Vice President for Corporate Engagement Jeremy Tedesco. “Too often, these corporations de-bank or deplatform Americans, citing policies that give them unbounded discretion to censor people for their views.”

Only one of the companies analyzed, Fidelity National Information Services, received an overall score of 50%. This marks a 32% jump from last year, when it received a score of 18%. M&T Bank received an overall score of 25%, an 11% jump from the 14% it earned last year.

Businesses studied in the research include those in “industries that have the greatest potential to impact individuals’ or institutions’ freedom of speech or religion,” including banking companies, payment processing services, and social media platforms. Scores were compiled based on responses companies provided to a survey commissioned by ADF.

Higher scores were given to companies that have “terms of use/service” that “avoid unclear or imprecise terms” and “avoid viewpoint discrimination” as well as “harmful conduct policies” that “apply equally.”

Additional factors that give corporations higher scores on the index include “harmful conduct policies” that “apply equally,” the presence of a “public anti-viewpoint discrimination policy,” “notice of content or service restrictions,” as well as policies promoting “respect for diverse beliefs at work” and religious discrimination.

A corporation’s score is also impacted by its advocacy on behalf of political spending, specifically whether or not it spent money in support of laws or litigation that are “harmful to speech or religion.” A company’s policy regarding written religious accommodations, or lack thereof, also factored into its score.

Other companies that saw slightly higher scores compared to last year include Citigroup, whose score rose to 11% from 8%; Morgan Stanley, 9% to 11%; Meta, 9% to 10%; Apple, 7% to 8%; Adobe, which scored 6% in 2023 compared to 5% in 2022; and GoDaddy, which rose from 2% score to 8%.

Besides the bottom five, a handful of other notable companies saw their scores decrease from last year: Rackspace (14% to 13%), Capitol One (13% to 12%), Visa (11% to 10%), Wells Fargo (13% to 10%), Citizens Financial Group (10% to 9%), JP Morgan Chase (15% to 9%), Mastercard (10% to 9%), Bank of America (10% to 8%), Discover (13% to 8%), Oracle (9% to 8%), PayPal (7% to 5%) and Twitter (6% to 5%).

Tedesco maintained that “companies need to take seriously the way their policies and practices can chill the exercise of speech and religion and deter individuals from participating in the democratic process.”

“All Americans benefit when powerful corporations respect free speech and religious freedom,” he added. “Our goal is to help the largest corporations implement positive and lasting changes that protect everyone’s free speech and religious freedom from corporate overreach. Each survey completed, resolution filed, and conversation with senior leadership advances the ball.”

Examples of troubling policies listed in the detailed report about the research, obtained by The Christian Post, include Twitter deplatforming The Babylon Bee under a “hateful conduct policy,” Netflix holding employee training promoting critical race theory and Bank of America’s restriction on donations to religious charities.

Twitter also de-platformed The Christian Post for nine months last year for factually reporting that a Biden official is a man and not a woman. CP’s account was reinstated after Elon Musk took over.

AUTHOR

Ryan Foley

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post.

This article originally appeared in The Christian Post.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

With New Wave of Legislation, States Aim to Reintroduce Biblical Values to Schools

As concerns over rising crime and the mental health of minors continue to climb, a new wave of legislation aimed at reintroducing America’s youth to biblical values in school is surging.

In Texas, bills have been introduced that would require that the Ten Commandments be posted in public school classrooms and for schools to be free to hire or accept volunteer chaplains to perform services including mental health support, suicide prevention, and other services.

In Kentucky, a measure was advanced in the state House that would protect the “private religious expression” of teachers. Specific actions protected for school employees under the bill include engaging in religious discussion, sharing religious material with other employees, forming prayer groups with other employees, sponsoring a student religious club, wearing religious clothing or jewelry, and decorating their desks and personal spaces with religious items.

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed into law a bill that allows schools to say a prayer over the public address system before athletic events.

In Louisiana, a bill that would offer public school students in grades 9-12 a voluntary course on the Bible is currently before the state legislature. The bill’s sponsor, State Representative Valarie Hodges (R), joined “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” on Monday to discuss the legislation and the increasing openness of her fellow lawmakers to share their faith.

“[T]here were very few people who would openly profess their faith [in years past],” she noted. “Now I would say the majority of people in this legislature are not ashamed to say they’re Christians. They’re not ashamed to stand up for their faith. And it’s past time. It’s way past time that we do that. When prayer was removed out of schools and the Bible was removed, I think people are seeing the end result of that, that it’s not good.”

Hodges went on to emphasize why a course on the Bible is important for today’s public school students.

“The Bible is the most published book in the world, and it contains 6,000 years of history,” she explained. “My bill … authorizes teaching the Bible as literature and history. And what better book could we get our history from? It’s got the most history [of any book] in the world. … [O]ur laws that we have in the United States, our culture, art, so much is encapsulated in the Bible. … My bill [is a] first step [so] we can get the Bible into the hands of students to actually understand what [it] is about.”

Hodges further highlighted how a large swath of America’s youth have little knowledge of the Bible’s historical importance in America’s founding.

“Even our Declaration of Independence [in] the preamble is talking about a creator and acknowledges the creator. … I heard a statistic [that] 90% of teenagers have never read the Bible in this new generation that we have. And so they don’t have a reference point of, ‘What creator are we talking about?’ Our Founding Fathers were referencing the Bible.”

The Louisiana lawmaker additionally contended that a removal of biblical principles from public schools has led to an increase in societal lawlessness.

“When you look at the statistics on crime before the 1960s, it was nothing like it is now,” Hodges argued. “I think there’s a plausible explanation that can be found. … Where do we get our morality from? We get our morality from the Bible. … I was talking to a group last night. We were talking about the murder rates, the crime rates, homelessness, and all this that we’re seeing. Well, we used to teach that stealing is a sin. And we’re not right now. … [If you say] that things are ‘immoral’ — you get laughed at if you use that word anymore. But I think it’s becoming apparent that there is a crisis of morality in our nation. And we’ve got to restore that.”

Hodges expressed hope that her legislation will serve as a model in order to help clear up misconceptions about the idea of the separation of church and state.

“I really hope to see schools adopting this and teachers teaching this because there’s been a lot of confusion in the schools that I’ve [visited when] talking to teachers. … So that was one of the impetuses for me — filing the bill is to clear up any confusion. The Supreme Court ruled that schools can teach the Bible in public schools and private schools. I’m hoping this bill … will clear up any confusion and encourage schools to adopt this course and teachers to teach it.”

AUTHOR

Dan Hart

Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Faith on the Floor: House Members Honor April as Faith Month

“Why is Pride Month celebrated in June yearly, but practicing Christians don’t have their own month to celebrate their faith?” thought Penny Nance, CEO and president of Concerned Women for America as her Peloton bike asked if she would like to participate in a “Pride Ride” to celebrate LGBT identity.

In April 2022, her wish came true when Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) and Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.) submitted a proclamation into the federal register declaring April “Faith Month.”

“Join Concerned Women for America as we make April ‘Faith Month’ — and raise your Christian flag in honor of faith and freedom.” Nance said, announcing the launch of her new campaign.

Sandwiched between Black History Month in February and Pride Month in June, Faith Month has garnered most attention from evangelical Christians. Carving out the month to celebrate the gospel, several Christian organizations are giving it attention, including CWA and Family Research Council.

The nationwide initiative continues to be spearheaded by CWA’s legislative action committee. Thankfully for Nance, the push has a large pool of supporters on which to draw since Christians continue to comprise the majority of the adult population in the United States, 63%, according to a recent Pew Research Center study from 2021.

“We are proud of our faith, of our Judeo-Christian heritage, and are calling on Americans to show their support. April is the month when millions will be celebrating the holiest time of the year through Holy Week, Easter, and Passover, and it is an opportune time to show how important our faith is to our daily lives.” Nance stated.

This week, several members of the House of Representatives led by Miller answered Nance’s call to openly proclaim their faith. Some of the participating members included Reps. Diana Harshbarger (R-Tenn.), Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.), Rick Allen (R-Ga.), Bob Good (R-Va.), Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho) and others. Congressman Mike Johnson (R) of Louisiana took the opportunity to discuss the separation of church and state. Having successfully litigated religious liberty cases for nearly 20 years, Johnson described the separation of church and state as “one of the most misunderstood subjects in our entire culture.”

“… Jefferson clearly did not mean that metaphorical wall was to keep religion from influencing issues of civil government. To the contrary, it was meant to keep the federal government from impeding the religious practice of citizens,” he explained.

Many of the representatives cited the faith of the Founding Fathers as precedence for their actions, including Rep. Good.

“That is why those very Founders, those signers of the Declaration, many of them, are the ones who started the practice of opening Congress every day in prayer. A practice we continue today,” he said after similarly dismissing common perceptions of the separation of church and state.

“You know, it doesn’t matter what Bob Good believes; Bob Good has no more right to the truth or corner on truth than anyone else does. But it does matter what the Bible says,” said he insisted, citing Romans 5:8. Good went on to give his personal testimony of coming to Christ.

Rep. Miller took the opportunity to reaffirm her commitment to America’s Judeo-Christian values and freedom of religion.

“I will always proudly stand up for faith and for our families, in congress,” she told the House, calling on others to join in prayer and celebration.

After leading the charge in the House, Miller appeared as a guest on “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” the following evening.

“I love to go back to my district and give people the good news that there are a lot of believers in Congress,” she told Perkins.

“…[I]f we want to see our country flourish, we need to uphold the foundations of faith and family. … April is Celebrate Faith Month, and our First Amendment right to exercise our faith is joined by multiple members who talked about the importance about how our founding, our government was founded on these principles.”

AUTHOR

John Kebles

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Walter Reed Jettisons Catholic Priests from Serving Veterans at Medical Center

In a move that has stunned Catholics and religious freedom advocates, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. issued a “cease and desist order” just before Holy Week to a community of Franciscan Catholic priests from Holy Name College that had been serving servicemembers and their families at the center for almost two decades.

On April 7, the Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS) announced that Walter Reed issued the order on March 31, just as the most sacred week of the year for Christians was beginning. AMS noted that the contract for providing Catholic Pastoral Care was instead awarded to a secular defense contracting firm that does not have the capacity to offer Catholic pastoral services such as Mass and confession, which can only be administered by an ordained priest. AMS further pointed out that without the services of the Franciscan priests, there would be only one other Catholic priest assigned to Walter Reed, an Army chaplain who is currently “in the process of separating from the Army.”

Archbishop for the Military Services Timothy P. Broglio was perplexed by Walter Reed’s decision and expressed concern that it would infringe on the ability of Catholic servicemembers and their families to freely exercise their faith while at the center.

“It is incomprehensible that essential pastoral care is taken away from the sick and the aged when it was so readily available,” he said. “This is a classic case where the adage ‘if it is not broken, do not fix it’ applies. I fear that giving a contract to the lowest bidder overlooked the fact that the bidder cannot provide the necessary service. I earnestly hope that this disdain for the sick will be remedied at once and their First Amendment rights will be respected.”

Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill reacted even more forcefully, saying that the order was a direct attack on the First Amendment.

“This is an unconscionable attack on Christian service members and the First Amendment by [President Joe] Biden, [Defense Secretary Lloyd] Austin, and [Joint Chiefs Chair General Mark] Milley,” tweeted Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.) on Saturday. “The House must investigate why DOD did this, especially on Holy Week!”

AMS said that despite numerous appeals to Walter Reed by their general counsel Elizabeth A. Tomlin to reinstate the priests at least through Holy Week, they received no response from the medical center.

“Especially during Holy Week, the lack of adequate Catholic pastoral care causes untold and irreparable harm to Catholics who are hospitalized and therefore a captive population whose religious rights the government has a constitutional duty to provide for and protect,” AMS stated.

This latest move by the military under the Biden administration fits a pattern of what many experts see as a steady erosion of religious freedom for those working for the armed forces.

After the administration instituted a COVID vaccine mandate for all military personnel in August of 2021, most of the branches granted a tiny fraction of the religious exemptions that were requested before the mandate was rescinded in December 2022. Only 0.9% of religious exemption requests were granted in the Army, zero were granted in the National Guard, and 0.8% were granted in the Air Force.

Additionally, in September of last year, the administration issued a rule mandating that Veterans Affairs medical facilities carry out abortions as well as provide abortion counseling. When a Christian nurse practitioner requested a religious accommodation on two occasions from having to participate in abortions, she was denied. She is now filing suit against the hospital for placing a substantial burden on her sincerely held religious beliefs.

Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William G. Boykin, a 36-year Army veteran who currently serves as executive vice president at Family Research Council, said Walter Reed’s cease and desist order showed harmful neglect of religious freedom.

“The First Amendment states that ‘Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’” he told The Washington Stand. “The U.S. military should be held accountable for violating the intent of the First Amendment at the same time that drag queen programs are acceptable.”

AUTHOR

Dan Hart

Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Biden Regulation Could Deny Christians, Conservatives Government Employment: Critics

The Biden administration has proposed new federal guidelines that would politicize the civil service and potentially bar Christians and others who hold disfavored opinions from government employment. Critics say the president’s proposal essentially states, “Conservatives need not apply.”

Current federal law deems an applicant “unsuitable” for federal employment if the applicant engages in “[k]nowing and willful engagement in acts or activities designed to overthrow the U.S. [g]overnment by force.” (Emphasis added.) But the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) proposal would strike the words “by force with a collection of provisions that are broad, ill-defined, and over-inclusive,” said a comment offered by Family Research Council. “We urge the OPM to withdraw the proposed rule changes.”

Removing the words “by force” renders the rule “dangerously vague. Such lack of clarity would give the government great leeway in keeping people out of federal employment that it did not like,” Chris Gacek, coalitions senior research fellow at FRC who guided the group’s comment, told The Washington Stand. “The provisions repeatedly ran afoul of First Amendment norms — and would imperil the rights of clergy and religious believers.”

The Biden administration admits its new, legally binding employment policy includes “more nuanced factors,” but only punishes “conduct that is not protected by the First Amendment.” Still, FRC objects that the code contains “vague and broad provisions that could target disfavored groups with unpopular beliefs — including groups of religious believers whose beliefs not infrequently challenge societal norms and loyalties.”

For instance, one part of the revised policy would ban acts of “force, violence, intimidation, or coercion with the purpose of denying others the free exercise of their rights under the U.S. constitution or any state constitution.” The Biden administration has repeatedly stated the U.S. Constitution contains a right to an abortion, in contravention of a current Supreme Court ruling.

Further, “the idea that mere speech can be deemed ‘violence’ has gained some acceptance in much of America,” FRC’s comment states. “Such thinking, if absorbed into OPM legal practice, could transform pure speech into ‘violence,’ ‘intimidation,’ and ‘coercion.’” Yet the underlying action, of engaging in free speech, “does not seem far removed from teaching, instructing, or preaching doctrine — a common practice in churches, seminaries, and schools.”

It would also deny government employment to any applicant who belongs to a group with “unlawful aims,” a term FRC found broad enough to include those who sheltered runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad. FRC asked Biden officials if a pastor who allows an illegal immigrant to take sanctuary inside his church, or who holds services in defiance of a pandemic order, could be denied government employment.

“There needs to be a precise definition of violence in the rule to preclude such unconstitutional, post-modern interpretations of the law,” FRC continued. Since the regulation’s current wording does not require criminal conviction, “how does the OPM plan to decide whether state constitutional provisions have been violated?

The request for clarity comes as Democrats classify an ever-widening panoply of actions as acts of “insurrection,” a term legally condemned by the U.S. Constitution. These actions include refusing to automatically mail ballots to inactive voters, automatically registering everyone with a driver’s license to vote — even voting to remove then-Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from her House leadership position. Using broad definitions of such terminology in the national or state constitutions, Democratic officials have sued to keep Republican candidates — including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.) and Rep. David Eastman (R-Alaska) — off the ballot. Both Democrats’ disenfranchising lawsuits proved unsuccessful.

Yet under Biden’s proposed federal employment guidelines, applicants would never see their day in court. Instead, the language “would allow hiring managers to reject candidates solely on the grounds of being lawfully critical of government policy,” said a statement spearheaded by the Heritage Foundation and signed by 41 people representing 35 organizations, including Quena González of Family Research Council. “[T]he terms used in the proposed change, ‘intimidate’ and ‘coerce,’ have become synonymous — wrongly so — in the eyes of some, with vigorous, active speech that seeks to change opinions and federal and state laws.” As a result, “opinions on abortion, the Second Amendment, or climate change, or membership in an association that actively works to change the law on such issues, whatever side of the political aisle they are, could be used by a hiring manager to unfairly reject an otherwise well-qualified, excellent employee.”

The statement — which calls the OPM regulation “unwarranted and dangerous” — has been signed by former Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts, Reagan administration OPM Director Donald J. Devine, former HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson, Leadership Institute President Morton Blackwell, Sandy Rios of the American Family Association, Claremont Institute President Ryan P. Williams, Concerned Women for America President Penny Nance, Jon Schweppe of the American Principles Project, and Jordan Sekulow of ACLJ Action, among others.

The rule accelerates what critics call Biden’s pattern of politicizing the federal bureaucracy. The White House demanded members of the Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB) quit and, when they refused, launched investigations into recalcitrant conservatives. “It’s very clear what’s happening — it’s forcing people out who are not political actors,” a former CFPB employee told the Government Executive website. “This is being done in a pretty underhanded way and, frankly, they are getting away with it.”

Such efforts stretch back to Biden’s very first day in office, when the president demanded National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Peter Robb resign or be fired. Robb’s tenure did not end for months, and a previous administration’s appointees have typically served out their full terms alongside new members. Yet in a violation of norms, Biden proceeded to fire both Robb and his assistant, Alice Stock, placing the agency under the leadership of former union lawyer Jennifer Abruzzo. He then fired the general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Sharon Gustafson, after she refused to resign, as well as Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul and religious liberty/civil rights official Roger Severino.

Biden went on to clear-cut numerous members of the Council of the Administrative Conference of the United States, the National Capital Planning Commission, and to terminate all 10 members of the Federal Services Impasse Panel (which also deals with labor unions’ concerns).

The White House then set its sights on the military, targeting 18 Trump appointees to military advisory boards such as the Air Force Academy, West Point, and the Naval Academy. Biden also fired members of the Homeland Security Advisory Council and the Administrative Conference of the United States.

Fantasies of depriving one’s political enemies of the ability to earn a living, in the public or private sector, have increasingly consumed the Left. In 2020, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) endorsed the work of the Trump Accountability Project to blacklist “Trump sycophants” from gainful employment.

“In the Biden regime, the new rule could more simply be written as ‘conservatives need not apply,’” said Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts.

AUTHOR

Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.

RELATED ARTICLE: FBI Undercover Agent Developed Plan To Spy On Catholics: Jordan

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Not Just Nashville: Attacks Against Churches Nearly Tripled in 2023, Report Finds

Last week’s mass murder of six people at a church-run Christian school constitutes 2023’s deadliest act of violence against churches, which have increased nearly three times this year compared to last year, a new report from Family Research Council finds. The number of anti-church attacks in 2022 had already tripled over four years, a previous report found.

In all, assailants attacked churches 69 times in the first three months of 2023, compared with 24 such acts during the same period last year, a 288% increase. The rising tempo of anti-Christian assaults — which includes arsons, bomb threats, vandalism, and sacrilege — has affected places of worship in 29 states. The motives behind such desecration run the gamut from pro-abortion activism or controversies over transgender ideology to apparently senseless acts of destruction.

“American churches are increasingly bearing the brunt of anger and aggression, whether that’s from political or other motivations,” the report’s author — Arielle Del Turco, assistant director of the Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council — told The Washington Stand. “This contributes to an environment of hostility toward Christianity.”

The acts of anti-church aggression documented between January and March of this year includes:

  • 53 incidents of vandalism;
  • 10 suspicious fires;
  • Three gun-related incidents; and
  • Three bomb threats — including a pipe bomb recovered outside Philadelphia’s 127-year-old St. Dominic Catholic Church.

“If this rate continues, 2023 will have the highest number of incidents of the six years FRC has tracked,” the report notes. The number of church attacks in 2023 already exceeds “the entirety of 2018, in which we identified only 50 incidents, or 2020, in which we identified 54.”

The month of January 2023 had more church attacks than any single month in the five years FRC has kept records, with 43 such events, according to data furnished to TWS. “This steep increase is a cause for concern,” says the update.

Hostility toward Christian views of hot-button political issues have exploded into violence and vandalism numerous times this year. In January, abortion activists spray painted the words “Women’s Body, Women’s Choice” over a pro-life banner hanging outside St. Stephen Catholic Church in Riverview, Florida.

Last month, transgender activists lashed out at Kentucky legislators who voted against their agenda by defacing an historic church. Vandals spray painted the words “TRANS PWR” on St. Joseph Catholic Church in Louisville, Kentucky, on March 3 — “the day after the Kentucky House of Representatives passed a bill that would protect children from harmful gender-transition procedures,” the report states. Undeterred state legislators enacted the child safety protections over Democratic Governor Andy Beshear’s veto later that month.

Individuals who identify as transgender have focused their rage on Christian facilities as well. In addition to 28-year-old Audrey Hale’s attack on The Covenant School in Nashville, a 27-year-old man who identifies as a woman set the 117-year-old Portland Korean Church building ablaze on January 3. The suspect, whose legal name is Cameron Storer, claimed to hear voices that “threatened to ‘mutilate’ Storer if Storer refused to burn the church down,” the new FRC report states.

Nashville police have yet to release Hale’s “manifesto,” purportedly due to an “ongoing investigation,” but officers have said Hale’s views of the transgender issue may have touched off her violent rampage. Storer apparently suffers from mental illness, which afflicts those who identify as LGBTQ at far higher rates than average, according to the Biden administration.

Sometimes, the same perpetrator strikes multiple times. Police say 40-year-old Peter Sirolli vandalized three Roman Catholic churches in New Jersey on the same morning, including burning a 10-foot-tall cross on the lawn of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Woodbury on January 13.

The new FRC update builds on an 84-page report released last December. In the original study, FRC verified 420 acts of hostility against houses of worship between January 2018 and September 2022. The new addition brings the full number of anti-Christian incidents in 2022 up to date. In the original report, FRC calculated 137 intentionally damaging incidents against churches had taken place through last September. The last three months of 2022 brought an additional 54 such acts, bringing the total number of assaults against churches to 191 in 2022.

In all, researchers documented a total of 543 attacks on 517 separate churches between January 2018 and March 2023. Of the 517 separate churches attacked, 26 of the churches were victimized more than once, with three being targeted three times each, according to data furnished to The Washington Stand.

Between 2018 and 2023, American churches have suffered:

  • 442 acts of vandalism;
  • 71 cases of arson;
  • 15 gun-related incidents;
  • 14 bomb threats; and
  • 25 miscellaneous acts of aggression against church facilities

A total of 25 incidents fell into multiple categories, according to FRC researchers.

The worst period of sustained assaults during those 39 months broke out last summer over the unprecedented, and heretofore unsolved, leak of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling last May. After the media reported the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade and return the issue of abortion to democratic control, pro-abortion activists committed 86 attacks against Christian churches last May (24), June (28), and July (34).

Churches also sustained damage from the “Black Lives Matter” riots, which broke out in the summer of 2020 over the killing of George Floyd. BLM rioters committed 11 acts of church desecration, researchers told TWS.

Despite the quickening pulse of anti-Christian crimes, some of which have been investigated as “hate crimes,” conservatives say the Biden administration has been too lax in its response. In January, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed H. Con. Res. 3, which noted that abortion extremists such as Jane’s Revenge had “defaced, vandalized, and caused destruction to over 100 pro-life facilities, groups, and churches” in 2022, yet “the Biden Administration has failed to take action to respond to the radical attacks on pro-life facilities, groups, and churches, or to protect the rights of these organizations.”

The Democrat-controlled Senate has taken no action on the bill.

“American leaders and citizens alike should condemn acts of hostility against churches and affirm the right for all people to attend their houses of worship without feeling targeted or threatened,” Del Turco told TWS.

AUTHOR

Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Police Departments Lower Standards Due to Shortages while Threatening to Fire Bible-Believing Officer

Following the tragic death of Tyre Nichols during a January 7 traffic stop by officers of the Memphis Police Department, in which Nichols was beaten so severely by the officers that he died from his injuries three days later, reports have surfaced that two of the officers involved in Nichols’s death were hired after the department lowered its recruiting standards.

As reported by The Daily Wire, Officers Tadarrius Bean and Demetrius Haley, who have since been fired and charged in Nichols’s death, were hired in August 2020 two years after the department dropped its requirement for new recruits to have at least an associate’s degree or 54 college credit hours.

According to law enforcement official Karan Parmar, “[T]he 5 charged officers weren’t hired through the usual structured PD hiring process. City leaders felt the existing process was too strict and kept certain people from getting jobs at the department. City leaders began their own hiring process and then pushed new hires into the agency, bypassing the testing procedures in place at the department. … All 5 of the charged officers were hired by the City, and didn’t go through the rigorous PD testing process.”

The Memphis Police Department’s hiring practices fit a nationwide trend in law enforcement of lowering hiring standards. In March 2022, the Chicago Police department announced it was waiving a college credit requirement for new recruits. Philadelphia also dropped its college requirement for new hires in recent years as has New Orleans. The trend is being linked to a nationwide shortage in officers.

Experts worry that the lowering of police recruiting standards could lead to unqualified individuals being hired, which could consequently lead to more tragedies like the deaths of Tyre Nichols, George Floyd, and others who have died under controversial circumstances while in police custody.

“They’re desperate. They want police officers,” Mike Alcazar, an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a retired NYPD detective, told The New York Post. “They’re going through it, they check off some boxes, saying, ‘Ok, they’re good enough, get them on.’”

“Police departments have to take the screening process of candidates to be police officers seriously and not rush to hire officers that might not be qualified,” Alcazar argued.

Meanwhile, officers like Jacob Kersey of the Port Wentworth Police Department in Georgia who otherwise have spotless work records are being pulled off duty and threatened with termination for expressing a biblical view of marriage on social media.

On January 2, Kersey tweeted from his personal account while off-duty: “God designed marriage. Marriage refers to Christ and the church. That’s why there is no such thing as homosexual marriage.”

“I was led to believe I was being fired originally,” Kersey said on “Washington Watch” last week. “They told me to turn in everything that belonged to the city. So I had a long, restless night trying to figure out if I really wanted to lose my dream job over this. … And then a week later, when they brought me back, they told me that I could come back to work. But they’re creating a new department policy that says that if someone, somewhere is offended by anything else that I say from here on out, then I could be fired for it.”

Kersey ultimately resigned. “I did not believe that my department had my back,” he said. “I didn’t really want to go back and play that game and just wait to be fired because I know it would happen at some point and I just didn’t think it wise as dangerous of a job as law enforcement is.”

Speaking to The New York Post, Kersey explained that his track record as an officer was impeccable. “I joined the police department, and for over eight months, I only heard great things about my work,” he said. “People had nothing but good things to say about my work as a police officer.”

Kersey was inspired to join the force after being witness to the kindness officers showed him during his childhood when they were called to his family’s house on multiple occasions due to domestic problems. The police “made such a massive difference in my life at a very young age,” he said.

Despite being disappointed about losing his “dream job,” Kersey does not hold bitterness toward the Port Wentworth Police Department.

“In America, most of us will not be called to face physical death for our beliefs,” he said. “But we might be called to face the death of our dreams, we might be called to face the death of our reputation, or we might be called to have other people think bad things about us. But what’s important is what God thinks about us.”

AUTHOR

Dan Hart

Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

What Will Persecuted Christians Face in 2023?

The Bible radically challenges the status quo. It speaks truth to power.


During a recent conversation with Margaret, a woman who suffered life-changing injuries after Islamists assaulted a Catholic church in Nigeria last Pentecost Sunday, I couldn’t help but reflect deeply on the words of Christ:

“Whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5)

Indeed, who is it that can forgive their enemies and overcome hatred, violence and abuse of the kind suffered by Margaret but he or she who knows Christ?

In my work for the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) UK, I am frequently asked about how I deal with all the negative stories and the “doom and gloom”. But as St John’s letter reminds us, a strong faith in Christ’s ultimate victory upends this question: rather, how can I deal with all the pessimism and negativity without learning from the example of the modern-day martyrs?

Speaking to Margaret taught me two key lessons: that we in the West need the example of the persecuted Church, and they need us. The more that the opponents of the Church become emboldened in persecuting her, and the less we speak truth to power, the more severe will the persecution be this year. Our silence is a green light to violence.

2022 made this fact clearer than ever. More Christians suffer for their faith in Christ than any other religious group suffers for their faith, according to the Pew Research Center. This is borne out by fresh data from Aid to the Church in Need’s latest report Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians oppressed for their Faith 2020-22.

The oppression or persecution of Christians increased in 75 percent of the 24 countries ACN surveyed. In Africa, the situation for Christians worsened in all countries reviewed amid a sharp increase in genocidal violence from militant non-state actors, including the jihadist groups Islamic State West Africa Province and Boko Haram. Nigeria is in particular trouble. In the Middle East, continuing migration deepened the crisis threatening the survival of three of the world’s oldest Christian communities located in Iraq, Syria and Palestine.

State authoritarianism has been the critical factor causing worsening oppression against Christians in China, North Korea, Vietnam and Burma (Myanmar). Religious nationalism has caused increasing persecution against Christians in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, among other countries. Fashionable holiday destinations like the Maldives fare poorly when it comes to the treatment of Christians. Football-famous Qatar has also been on our radar.

A key trend we are witnessing in the West which aids and abets the persecution of Christians is civil authorities’ frequent denial of the extent of the problem. This can stem from ignorance of and outright unwillingness to alleviate the suffering of Christians, but also takes the form of dubious arguments that reject explanations of the crisis rooted in anti-Christian hatred, instead preferring economic justifications or cries of “climate change”. But climate change alone cannot explain Christian persecution, as the UK parliamentarian Sir Edward Leigh MP explained in a recent article.

2023 will see these trends escalate, ACN’s research suggests. Our work proactively identifies the trends Christians face early on, rather than being purely reactive. This call to justice is crucial to waking up governments, decision-makers and the Church to the plight of the most vulnerable. We defend the persecuted Church and stand in solidarity with her but, perhaps even more importantly, we provide support and pastoral care so that she can persevere in her mission to preach the Gospel to all nations, whatever the cost.

Speaking to ACN last year after her release from captivity in Mali, west Africa, Sister Gloria Cecilia Narváez said: “My God, it is hard to be chained and to receive blows, but I live this moment as you present it to me … And, in spite of everything, I would not want any of [my captors] to be harmed.”

The Franciscan sister was held by Islamist militants for over four years, during which time she was repeatedly physically and psychologically tortured. Sister Gloria made clear that her Christian faith was the source of the animus against her, describing to us how her captors became enraged when she prayed. On one occasion, when a jihadist leader found her praying, he struck her saying: “Let’s see if that God gets you out of here. Sister Gloria continued: “He spoke to me using very strong, ugly words…My soul shuddered at what this person was saying, while the other guards laughed out loud at the insults.”

As Christ says to the persecuted Church and to us: “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

When I read these words, the smiling portrait of a humble and persevering Nigerian woman comes to mind. This year, like so many other Christians, Margaret will continue to suffer and to triumph. This year truth and falsehood will be asserted variably in the courts of power.

Yet, however worldly justice deals with the cause of persecuted Christians, long may their suffering smiles ring out the joy of victory.

AUTHOR

John Pontifex

John Pontifex is Head of Press and Information at Aid to the Church in Need (UK), an international Catholic charity which supports persecuted and other suffering Christians. More by John Pontifex

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EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Policeman’s Resignation Shows the Fallout over Marriage Has Begun

Last week, North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis (N.C.) bragged to The Washington Post that he doesn’t “vote for anything” that he thinks “will have a serious political consequence.” They were glib words for a man who’d just put his name behind a bill rewriting marriage for every American. Like the 11 other Republican senators whose moral courage collapsed before the nation’s eyes, Senator Tillis would have you believe there’s no fallout from his vote for same-sex marriage. But a young Georgia policeman who’s out of a job over his beliefs would beg to disagree.

“Christians should not be fearful of this legislation,” Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) wrote in an op-ed for the Indy Star. The so-called Respect for Marriage Act, he insisted, offers “far more in the way of religious liberty protections than [we have now].” Tell that to Jacob Kersey, who was a 19-year-old rookie of the Port Wentworth Police Department, until his supervisors decided his views on marriage were too “offensive.” Try telling Jacob that Christians don’t need to worry that these laws “will be used as a weapon to bludgeon them for their beliefs,” as Senator Young claimed, because this young man — like every American with a bullseye on their backs — won’t believe it.

Barely a month after Joe Biden signed his name to the law upending marriage in all 50 states, every excuse these 12 Republicans made is turning out to be exactly what conservatives warned they were — lies. “… [W]e have just improved on religious liberty protections … across the United States,” Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said, despite every legal argument to the contrary. Now, these dozen senators are making prophets out of conservatives, who warned that abandoning marriage would only usher in a new wave of oppression.

For Kersey, that oppression was swift, coming less than 24 hours after a Facebook post he made on his personal account. “God designed marriage,” he wrote January 2. “Marriage refers to Christ and the church,” he explained in reference to in Ephesians 5. “That’s why there is no such thing as homosexual marriage.”

The next day, the Daily Signal reported, Kersey’s supervisor called to tell him that someone had complained about the message. Take it down, he was told. Jacob refused. For that, he was hauled into a meeting with three superiors, Major Lee Sherrod, Captain Nathan Jentzen, and Police Chief Matt Libby, and ordered to “turn in everything he had that belonged to the city.” While people are entitled to their own views, Libby said, talking about natural marriage is the same as using a racial slur. It’s like “saying the N-word or ‘F— all those homosexuals,’” the chief insisted.

Despite the promise they saw in him as a police officer, the three men agreed Kersey would have to be placed on administrative leave while the city considered whether his job could be salvaged.

A week later, Kersey was given a choice: keep your opinions off social media or turn in your badge. If he wanted to post Scripture, fine. But if he shared anything else that offended someone, he could be fired. Does that sound like “a good step forward for religious freedom” to you? Is that what Todd Young meant when he talked about showing “diverse beliefs proper respect?” Or how Cynthia Lummis (R-Wy.) defines “tolerance?”

A few sleepless nights later, Jacob resigned. “I didn’t believe that my department had my back, and I didn’t really want to go back and play that game and just wait to be fired, because I know it would happen at some point,” he told “Washington Watch” Thursday. “The leadership at that police department claims to be Christian. But I just don’t understand why they would say that an outspoken Christian is the same thing as a racist. It’s just absolutely ludicrous to try to equate me to [someone] who hates people based off the color of their skin, because I believe in God’s design for marriage.”

“I really enjoyed being a police officer,” Kersey admitted. “And that was a huge part of my identity at a young age. And I look forward to doing that for a long time. But, you know, you have to follow when Jesus calls.” As Jacob said, “We really, really have to understand that this isn’t all just a big political game. This is a spiritual battle that’s going on right now. … And Christ is King — and if we’re believers and we really believe that, then we should be fighting for His comprehensive rule overall, especially in our hearts, and we should stand for Him and His word.”

In the meantime, Jacob could lose his whole career because 12 grown senators couldn’t muster the courage he’s shown at 19. He is the fallout they denied, the collateral damage of a decision that will haunt our country for generations. While these men and women hold up their law’s non-existent protections as a shield from criticism, know that very real Americans have no defense. No shelter for the attacks that will come.

When we asked Jacob what he would say to the 51 Republicans who turned their backs on him and millions of other Americans, he grew serious. “My decision to stand up for biblical truth goes back to the Bible in Genesis 3. I see the serpent whispering in the ear of Eve. And Adam, who knows very well what God has said, stood passively by and let sin happen. And I think there are going to be consequences for those who stand idly by and watch the serpent slither around and ignore God. If you’re going to be a Christian, you’re going to have to decide — are you going to be like Adam? And what are the consequences for your action?”

Today, the consequences are exactly what we warned: the Left and those trying to curry favor with the intolerant mob are now empowered with the force of government to crush anyone who lives out their biblical faith. The retort of the 12 Republicans will likely be that the action against Jacob was unlawful, and he would have a good chance of prevailing in court. But why should a 19-year-old have to go to court to defend the teaching of the Bible in order to be a police officer? While it’s true he could win that challenge, the real effect is upon those watching.

“You can see exactly what they’re doing,” Dr. Albert Mohler warned when the votes were imminent. “They’re coming for us.”

And Jacob Kersey is just the beginning.

AUTHOR

Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins is president of Family Research Council and executive editor of The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Oops! Democratic ‘Oversights’ Would Legalize Polygamy, Infanticide

One of the most famous illustrations in all of literature comes from “The Adventure of Silver Blaze,” when Sherlock Holmes notes “the curious incident of the dog in the night-time”: the dog that did not bark. The canine’s silence revealed the watchdog’s familiarity and comfort with the criminal. “Obviously the midnight visitor was someone whom the dog knew well,” remarks Holmes.

Voters can glean the inner disposition of our lawmakers, learning which issues they consider vital and which never enter their minds, through a similar device: the “errors,” omissions, and oversights politicians make when drafting legislation. Allegedly inadvertent “oversights” and “drafting errors” by Democratic lawmakers over the last year alone would have decriminalized infanticide, legalized polygamy, and suppressed sacred religious liberty rights enshrined in the First Amendment.

Lest I be accused of overstatement, let’s look at the record:

1. Infanticide

En route to becoming an “abortion sanctuary,” California lawmakers passed Assembly Bill 2223introduced by Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks. The original draft forbade law enforcement from prosecuting or investigating any mother for the death of her child through “miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion, or perinatal death.” Pro-life legal scholars noted that California state law extends the term “perinatal death” up to 30 or “60 days following delivery,” essentially decriminalizing infanticide. Wicks retorted that her law could never be construed to support child murder, because “one of the tools judges would use in that case is legislative intent.” (Then again, if judges valued original intent, Roe v. Wade would never have been written.) Wicks called pro-life concerns “absurd and disingenuous” … but then the Assembly’s overwhelmingly Democratic Judiciary Committee released its official analysis, which put the matter as gently as possible:

[T]he “perinatal death” language could lead to an unintended and undesirable conclusion. As currently in print, it may not be sufficiently clear that “perinatal death” is intended to be the consequence of a pregnancy complication. Thus, the bill could be interpreted to immunize a pregnant person from all criminal penalties for all pregnancy outcomes, including the death of a newborn for any reason during the “perinatal” period after birth, including a cause of death which is not attributable to pregnancy complications, which clearly is not the author’s intent.

That is, pro-life critics were right all along: The language of her bill would legalize the murder of newborns. Wicks amended the “perinatal death due to a pregnancy-related cause.” Despite this change, the law “still prevents law enforcement from investigating ‘perinatal death,’ and the amendments Ms. Wicks” added proved “woefully inadequate,” Jonathan Keller, president of California Family Council, told me at the time.

Nonetheless, Governor Gavin Newsom (D), an undeclared 2024 presidential hopeful, signed the amended bill into law alongside a pack of 12 other abortion-promoting bills. These bills underscore the need for the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which passed the House of Representatives on January 11: national lawmakers must correct the “oversights” of far-left state legislators. Unfortunately, they must also correct their own.

2. Legalizing Polygamy Nationwide

After then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hustled the drastically misnamed Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) through the House of Representatives in one day, U.S. senators noted something curious: The original draft of the bill did not limit marriage to two people. While one provision mentioned “2 individuals,” another section of the bill would have amended federal law to say simply “an individual shall be considered married if that individual’s marriage is valid in the State where the marriage was entered into,” with no numerical limit.

The bill’s chief Republican sponsor, Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), chalked the oversight up to a “drafting error,” though she admitted “the language needs to be clarified” that the bill does not permit polygamy/polyandry. The authors said, in effect, they intended to redefine the most fundamental institution in human society, just not quite that far. Again, legal scholars say the new legislative patch sewn into the old garment of the RFMA failed to fix the problem. The “clarified” final draft of “the bill leaves open the possibility that one person can be in multiple two-person marriages at the same time, which would trigger federal recognition if a state legally were to recognize such consensual, bigamous unions as separate family units,” noted the Heritage Foundation’s Roger Severino. Nonetheless, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (R-N.Y.) exclaimed “Praise God!” as President Joe Biden signed the bill into law last December 13. That would not be the bill’s only oversight.

3. Erasing Religious Liberty

The Respect for Marriage Act makes a second appearance, as the bill’s authors also ignored all concerns about religious liberty. Despite years of litigation aimed at bringing Bible-believing Christians to heel, and warnings that the bill will usher in “a new era of oppression” of Christians like Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, Senate Democrats only entertained the notion of a religious protection amendment as a fig leaf for wavering Republicans. They insisted they did not mean to wage culture war against believers; they just crushed your religious freedom all accidental-like. Once again, the “cure” proved inadequate, as the Senate rejected Mike Lee’s (R-Utah) amendment in favor of an irrelevant and legally ambiguous substitute.

Like Holmes, we can deduce from these silences that when social liberals ponder transforming life, marriage, and society, they give not one thought to the lives of newborn children, the nuclear family, or a Higher Power (Who, in His sovereignty, might restrain and hold them accountable for their actions). Their ideological fever to revolutionize everything from marriage to human nature blinds them to any negative consequences — or convinces them these results will be tolerable, even desirable.

That analysis would explain how Democrats omitted the word “God” from their 2012 platform and then booed when His Name was restored. It might make clear why candidate Joe Biden referred to the benevolent Creator as “you know, The Thing,” apparently likening Jehovah to a 1950s monster movie — much as the man most responsible for inflicting Biden on the nation, Barack Obama, regularly elided the Almighty from his quotations of our founding documents (which Obama demeaned as “the fundamental flaw of this country that continues to this day”).

A platform that doubles as a photographic negative of God’s Word might offer some insight into why the Left “did not like to retain God in their knowledge” (Romans 1:28).

Such hostility to the God of the Bible has led liberals into the legislative wilderness for two more years. One of the most overlooked upgrades the Republican congressional majority will have over previous management has gone unappreciated: Even the quality of legislative errors will improve.

The Democrats’ radical “oversights” should also warn every thoughtful statesman against hastily voting for any bill promoted by social liberals, lest they risk placing their own stamp of approval on polygamy, atheism, infanticide, or other evils they cannot see while blinded by left-wing bias.

Finally, the fact that many of these oversights come as news, even to well-informed conservatives, serves as an eloquent indictment of the nation’s Christians. It is not merely Sherlock’s dog that held its peace. The prophet Isaiah condemned the inert watchmen of his day as “blind,” “ignorant,” “greedy,” and “dumb dogs [who] cannot bark; Sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.” They “have no understanding” and look only unto their “own gain” (Isaiah 56:9-12; compare with John 10:11-12).

Like the self-serving shepherds of Isaiah’s day, too many people who know better did not expose the implications of these bills for the sake of political favoritism, for fear of offending the Facebook algorithm (and its sweet, remunerative traffic), or sheer timidity. Some modern evangelicals also love dreams — fantasizing of being hailed as the “reasonable” and “winsome” Christian, of their leftist overlords granting their children a safe haven from endless culture wars, even of being invited to “a seat at the table” to carve out their rights as an ideological minority. They may have even been promised these things — but then, empty promises were the one thing the devil never lacked.

The other side’s silences show their fealty to their masterplan. Let our speech prove our fidelity to our Master’s plan. Now is no time to remain silent.

AUTHOR

Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.

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EDITORS NOTE: This The Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

6 Republican Lies Behind the ‘Respect for Marriage’ Act

The recent, lamentable vote over the so-called Respect for Marriage Act revealed a new breed of Republican: The “personally pro-marriage, but” Republican. Like their spiritual forebears, the “personally pro-life, but” Democrats, they strenuously present themselves as people of deep moral conviction, who have equally compelling reasons to lay aside their views and act on other people’s convictions for political reasons. Here are six such explanations offered by Republican senators who supported the Disrespect for Marriage Act, and the reason their rationales fall short.

Cynthia Lummis, Lie #1

The statement: In her official statement on the bill’s passage, Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) invoked America’s Founding Fathers. “Striking a balance that protects fundamental religious beliefs with individual liberties was the intent of our forefathers in the U.S. Constitution and I believe the Respect for Marriage Act reflects this balance,” Lummis said. Lummis, who says she identifies “as a Christian and a conservative,” noted, “While I firmly believe marriage is a sacred union between one man and one woman, I respect that others hold different beliefs.”

The lie: The Founding Fathers never intended to “strike a balance” between religious liberty and “individual liberties”; religious liberties are individual liberties. The Bill of Rights made freedom of religion its first freedom: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” says the First Amendment. Congress — and all members from the founding generation to Lummis’s — are legally prohibited from stymying the free exercise of religion.

The Founders considered the right to practice religion, not merely hold it, as fundamental and inviolable. “To restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty,” wrote Thomas Jefferson. James Madison agreed, “The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man: and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate.” Even at the dawn of our independence, Samuel Adams said “this happy country” had become the “last asylum” for “the right of private judgment in matters of conscience.”

Yet this bill obliterates that balance, forcing Christian bakers, florists, web designers, and many other professionals to choose between violating their faith or losing their business. As Missouri Attorney General Jay Ashcroft told “Washington Watch” on December 5, the bill represents a “massive step away from how this country was founded, and it will eventually affect every individual who has a deeply held religious faith, regardless of what that faith is.”

And, of course, it is possible to “respect” the views of others without making their views the law of the land.

Cynthia Lummis, Lie #2

The statement: Senator Lummis received plaudits from colleagues on both sides of the aisle for her self-contradictory speech supporting the Respect for Marriage Act. Standing on the Senate floor, Lummis said, “We do well by taking this step, not embracing or validating each other’s devoutly held views, but by the simple act of tolerating them.”

The lie: Tolerance is precisely what the Respect for Marriage Act annihilated. In the unlikely event that justices overturned Obergefell, the states would have regained the right to make their own marriage laws democratically, as they had for 226 years before the ill-conceived ruling. The genius of federalism, enshrined by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, forced states to tolerate other states coming to different policy conclusions. The Respect for Marriage Act replaced the 50 states’ peaceful coexistence with imperious, top-down government decrees designed to silence one side of the debate.

Mitt Romney, Lie #1

The statement: Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) also tried to square his belief in the nuclear family with his vote to redefine the institution. “While I believe in traditional marriage, Obergefell is and has been the law of the land upon which LGBTQ individuals have relied,” Romney said.

The lie: If Congress should “codify” same-sex marriage because same-sex couples have “relied on” Obergefell for seven years, what possible reason can Romney give to oppose “codifying” abortion-on-demand? Roe v. Wade stood for 49 years and affected more than half of all Americans; people who identify as gay make up 4% of the U.S. population, and only 10% of them have ever obtained a marriage license. The notion that women “rely” on the Supreme Court’s diktats echoes another Republican disappointment: Justice Anthony Kennedy, who upheld Roe on specifically those grounds. Kennedy wrote in Casey v. Planned Parenthood (1992), “[M]illions of women continue to rely on the fundamental rights guaranteed in Roe v. Wade.” The same compass-free jurisprudence, from the same justice, undergirds Obergefell v. Hodges. How long until Romney endorses the “Reproductive Freedom for All” Act?

Mitt Romney, Lie #2

The statement: Senator Romney offered a second rationale for his vote to redefine marriage in all 50 states: “While I believe in traditional marriage … [t]his legislation provides certainty to many LGBTQ Americans, and it signals that Congress — and I — esteem and love all of our fellow Americans equally.”

The lie: Normal people don’t ponder whether their leaders “love” them (although GOP base voters could be forgiven for asking if the party elite hate them). National laws are not meant to serve as mash notes; legislation exists to codify policies that accord with reality to further human flourishing. “Our laws actually don’t confer dignity. You and I don’t actually confer dignity. We just acknowledge dignity,” said David Closson, director of the Center for Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council, on the December 9 episode of “Washington Watch.”

Honorable Mentions: Shelley Moore Capito and Dan Sullivan

As the slippery slope continued, Senate Republicans began backtracking from other principles, as well. Senator Shelley Moore Capito of bright red West Virginia did not say she believes in traditional marriage, only that “I appreciate my fellow West Virginians who have reached out to me regarding the sanctity of marriage, and hold sincere beliefs based on strong traditional and religious values.” But Capito and her fellow Republicans (except Susan Collins of Maine) voted for a religious liberty amendment from Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), signaling the underlying legislation did not go far enough to protect people of faith from potentially bankrupting lawsuits. Then these Republicans, including Capito, voted for the unamended bill, anyway, indicating their willingness to see believers persecuted by LGBT activists, which hardly reflects Capito’s appreciation.

Likewise, Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) admitted he had abandoned his constitutionalist/federalist principles in subjecting 50 states to an imperial decree from Washington. He offered this explanation: “While I’ve long held that marriage should be an issue left up to the states, the Supreme Court nationalized the issue in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015. Although I disagreed with Obergefell, I said then I would respect the [c]ourt’s decision and also continue to fight for, respect, and defend the religious liberty of all Americans.”

Sullivan said he opposes national legislation — but since an activist court already nationalized the issue, he voted to expand their ruling and create new threats to religious liberty without giving people of faith a single additional protection.

These are but six lies. The greatest unspoken lie holds that legislators can change the definition of marriage by majority vote on the Supreme Court or in Congress. The eternal truths the Creator established to order the world will continue as certainly as they have endured in endless ages past. The only question is whether sage leaders obey them and enjoy the benefits — or defy them, and cause all of us to reap consequences too plain to be hidden beneath soothing-sounding falsehoods.

AUTHOR

Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.

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EDITORS NOTE: This The Washington Stand column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.