Talibanned: Afghan Women Brace for a New, Restrictive Normal

Talibanned: Afghan Women Brace for a New, Restrictive Normal

September 13, 2021

When the Taliban swept through Kabul, stunning the world, leader Zabihullah Mujahid tried to soften the extremists' image. "We want to build the future and forget what happened in the past," he insisted. But forgetting will not come so easily for the West, who watched for years as hard-line Islamists brutalized their women and tortured non-conformists. Even now, reporters, former interpreters, and soldiers are being hunted down and massacred by death squads -- sparking plenty of doubts about a kinder, gentler Taliban.

The leaders' charm offensive, which started when the Taliban took the capital, has been interesting to watch. Girls, the regime promised in August, will be free. They can work, play, and continue their education, a spokesman said -- ignoring the fact that women had just been ordered home indefinitely. Mujahid tried to explain, "We are worried our forces who are new and have not been yet trained very well may mistreat women," proving how institutionalized the inhumanity is. Since then, reality has seemed to catch up even more with the Taliban's rhetoric. Things as harmless as playing music in public have been outlawed -- along with any semblance of a free press or media.

Anyone hoping for a more benevolent Taliban, NRO's Judson Berger argued, is fooling themselves. "... [N]o matter the spin from Taliban spokesmen (and spokeswomen, once that gender-equity program kicks in), hopeful media reports, and wish-casting administration figures, the Taliban are still the Taliban, the same group that once converted Kabul's soccer stadium into a coliseum for stonings and amputations. No, they haven't changed, not in any fundamental way beyond their becoming a bit more PR-savvy." In the extremists' bid to look normal and legitimate, the international community is being played.

Just last week, the same Taliban that promised a more "inclusive" society banned women from playing sports. The head of the regime's "cultural commission," Ahmadullah Wasiq, told the Australian Press that women's sports are neither "appropriate nor necessary." They might face a situation, Wasiq insisted, "where their face and body will not be covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen like this." In a nod to the seriousness of the situation, most of the country's female athletes have been in hiding since the Taliban swept to power, worried about whatever punishment the group's fighters would dole out.

Others, who saw the terror on the horizon, got out of Afghanistan as quickly as they could. As many as 25 members of the country's women's cycling team fled to the United Arab Emirates. For them, leaving home was necessary but hard. "It's really difficult because the main reason, specific reason, that I leave Afghanistan was because I was not secure as an athlete. I was doing sports in Afghanistan, but nowadays, that is not safe... I was forced to leave my country."

Here at home, the Biden administration, who's busy positioning itself as a cheerleader of women's rights, has taken a different path toward eradicating girls' sports. To be clear, the Taliban's actions are more brutal -- but this president's policies will ultimately lead to the same outcome: the end of female athletics. It's a goal that Biden has been working toward since day one, when he signed his first executive order on transgenderism -- effectively wiping away a half century of women's progress. "Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the rest room, the locker room, or school sports," the edict read. "All persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation."

In only eight months, the Biden administration has had an impressive start at completely redefining womanhood in sports. "Finished. Done," was how Olympic track-and-field coach Linda Blade described the future of women's athletics to the Wall Street Journal's Abigail Shrier. The Biden presidency, we were told, was supposed to be a historic win for women. Barely 24 hours in, Americans realized the lie they'd been fed. This administration isn't interested in protecting feminism -- it's in the business of undoing it. And the damage, Shrier says, is much more debilitating than anyone realizes.

"It isn't merely the trophies and scholarships and opportunities at stake. It isn't even all the benefits sports have so long provided to young women -- in self-esteem and health and camaraderie with friends. It isn't merely that girls who participate in sports tend to earn better grades, that so many female Fortune 500 executives were athletes, or that sports force teen girls out of their own heads, where they might otherwise sit and stew to their detriment. It's the profound and glaring injustice of it: the spectacular records and achievements that Jackie Joyner, Althea Gibson and Wilma Rudolph would never have achieved had the world pitted their bodies against men."

The president can complain all he wants that the Taliban is marginalizing women, but when his own idea of "gender equality" is letting stronger men outrace, outplace, and rough up women, he's not going to be taken very seriously. Just this weekend, spectators watched -- horrified -- as a former special forces operator, posing as a transgender woman, destroyed fellow mixed-martial arts fighter Celine Provost. "It made me sick," Piers Morgan lamented, as images of the final chokehold started circulating the internet. Pinned down, with blood on the mat, most people are surprised Celine wasn't killed. "It's unfair, unequal, and in the case of combat sport, incredibly dangerous," Morgan argued.

"What kind of man wants to fight a woman?" feminist Meghan Murphy asked angrily. "Certainly a man with no shame or ethics." And what kind of president passes it off as progress? Ours.

Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Don't Forget to Remember

September 13, 2021

"Where were you twenty years ago," began my pastor, "on the morning of 9/11? If you can remember, please stand." Pews squeaked and pages rustled as hundreds stood -- a vast majority. The college students, noticeable because seated together in groups, did not stand. They hadn't been born yet, or were at least too young to remember. Forgetting is easy; all it takes is the inertia of time. Remembering is harder.

To be sure, Americans have tried hard to remember 9/11. We constructed memorials with steel beams from the Twin Towers. We proactively countered terrorism by occupying hotbeds of foment across the globe. We rebuilt Ground Zero in New York City. Many of us still post annual recollections of how it affected us. "Never forget," we say.

Then we (or at least those wielding power in America) abruptly forgot. Overnight, they abandoned our overseas operations, sabotaging allies that we painstakingly built up with promises of support and trillions of dollars. Even the memorials we built on our foreign bases were abandoned. "Happy Ramadan, radical terrorists, we leave you as a parting gift this beam from a building you destroyed in a sensational act of terrorism."

Did we revise our strategic plan? Did we stop caring? Or did we just stop actively remembering?

While the Biden administration worked overtime to exacerbate the disaster in Afghanistan, Fairfax County School Board Member Abrar Omeish opposed a call for silence for 9/11 because it ignored "state-sponsored traumas" against Muslims. The Virginia Department of Education followed suit, warning that "school and classroom 9/11 commemorations are sites for increased anti-Muslim racism," giving as examples of "harmful teaching" such things as: "amplifying the extremists and extremist acts of 9/11" (is that even possible?) and "demanding the condemnation of 9/11" (heaven forbid that schools teach children to condemn moral evil!). Not actively remembering scarcely turns into such blatant denial; usually we just forget.

Granted, holding all Muslims accountable for the atrocities of 9/11 is as unjust and untrue as holding all Christians accountable for the Atlanta spa shooter. But the guidance seems calculated to help future generations forget 9/11. Every other member of the notoriously left-wing Fairfax County School Board rejected Omeish's alternative resolution, which emphasized anti-Muslim discrimination (ten paragraphs) over America's 3,000 dead (one paragraph).

Eventually 9/11 (and America!) will be forgotten. "There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after" (Ecclesiastes 1:11). But some things are worth remembering while we can. Remembering the events of 9/11 help us to protect our country from similar acts of terror and warns us of the human heart's great capacity for evil.

Events like 9/11 help remind us of other things that are more important to remember. As Americans, we should remember the careful deliberation that informed the genius of our limited Constitution, the litany of racial abuses that forced us to become a more just nation, and those who courageously died to secure freedom.

God, who created us, has always known our tendency to forget. That's why he gave Passover to remind Israel of their deliverance of Egypt (Exodus 13:3). That's why he gave the Lord's Supper to remind Christians of Jesus' sacrificial death (Luke 22:19). That's why the entire book of Deuteronomy was written, to remind those entering the Promised Land of what God had done and why their parents all died in the wilderness -- and to instruct them to teach their children. That's why he gave pastors to his church (2 Timothy 2:8-14).

Amid a world of distractions, let's not forget to remember.

Too Much Spending -- Even for Democrats?

September 13, 2021

As the country continues to deal with converging crises in Afghanistan, at the border, and within our own economy, Democrats on Capitol Hill are set for a showdown between the radical progressive priorities of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and the sensible call from Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to pause passage of a $3.5 trillion spending package which seeks to reshape almost every aspect of American life. Just this weekend, Senator Manchin went on the record on this topic, telling CNN's Dana Bash: "I can assure you the reconciliation bill will not be $3.5 trillion."

This week House Democrats have released the text of their proposed package committee by committee, and the text continues to get worse and worse. Let's take a look at some of the language that should force many members of Congress -- in addition to Joe Manchin -- to stop and think.

Just as Texas moves further in the direction of protecting life with its new heartbeat law going into effect, this package contains numerous provisions which seek to use more federal taxpayer funds to pay for abortion. The bill calls for a ballooning of the Medicaid program into states that have yet to expand Medicaid, which will be used as leverage to fund abortions in places like Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, and -- you guessed it -- Texas. There are also provisions that lock in major tax subsidies for the Affordable Care Act, which bypasses the Hyde Amendment and allows direct taxpayer funding for health plans that cover abortion. And as expected there is also increased funding that could go to the Biden administration's top ally, Planned Parenthood; the bill text contains a new appropriation of $75 million for the Pregnancy Assistance Fund, a program that Planned Parenthood has historically received money from.

Additionally, this bill would create a universal childcare and pre-kindergarten program titled "Birth Through Five Child Care and Early Learning Entitlement". This program would provide federal assistance for families to place their children in the care of a government institution from the earliest stages of life, when parental care is most vital. This program goes so far as to count its subsidies as federal financial assistance, subjecting otherwise eligible faith-based childcare providers and pre-k educational institutions to radical mandates from the federal government.

Finally, the reconciliation bill text includes numerous special protections for "sexual orientation and gender identity" in an attempt to further redefine family and marriage. It includes significant funding for training and research to ensure that the programs in the bill like paid family leave and childcare are awarded to those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Inserting gender ideology into a "families" plan is no way to "build back better."

With this bill being a major progressive priority, it also includes several tax increases, namely an increase in the corporate tax rate to 26.5 percent. Historically, the Republican Party has been a proponent of lowering taxes on businesses, having successfully lowered the corporate tax rate to 21 percent in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. You'd think corporations would take note of who is looking out for them. Yet in recent years major corporations across the board have fallen over themselves to buck conservative values and instead embrace the social agenda of the Democratic Party, including its abortion and LGBT activism. The irony is that while this reconciliation bill advances those agendas, these same corporations will be taxed to pay for them.

How or when this bill gets passed is still the question being lobbed between the camps of Bernie Sanders and Joe Manchin. But one thing has been made clear by moderates like Joe Manchin: this bill's spending levels may even be beyond the bounds of the Democratic party.

Standing Courageous in Central Florida

September 13, 2021

The FRC Stand Courageous men's ministry team was on the road again this past weekend in central Florida. Hosted by Pastor Cliff Lea at First Baptist Church in Leesburg, Florida, over 500 men packed out the worship center to hear our stable of speakers as well as attend some standing room only breakouts.

Based on FRC executive vice president and Lt. General (Ret.) Jerry Boykin's most recent book, Man to Man, each of the main stage speakers unpacked the five facets of what it means to be a biblical man: Provider, Battle Buddy, Instructor, Defender, and Chaplain. The general himself challenged the men to be the Provider, and not just one who provides money and material resources, but also provides presence, identity, and vision for his family.

Dr. Stu Weber, General Boykin's close friend and battle buddy, spoke on that same topic, pointing out that in the Bible: "Alone is not good," and using the biblical example of David and Jonathan as the model for masculine friendship. He then challenged the men to find and develop such a relationship with a "battle buddy," which is a military term for men who have joined themselves together to support each other in conflict, to have each other's back.

Our host, Pastor Cliff Lea, spoke to the topic of man as an "instructor" and the importance of men to not only teach the truth but also model it. In order to be an instructor, Pastor Lea urged men that they must first fear the Lord. Pastor Charles Flowers from San Antonio challenged the men to be "defenders" of our families, friends, and the defenseless against attacks that invariably come against us from Satan and those doing his bidding, but that the Lord Jesus enables us to overcome. Miami area pastor, Dr. Joaquin Molina spoke on the final role, that of "chaplain," challenging the men to be spiritual leaders and pass the torch to the next generation. In fact, Molina brought up his sons, whom he had discipled, then brought up 12 young men under 12 who came with him to the conference as examples for the men present.

One of the highlights for the men at every Stand Courageous Conference is to hear Gen. Boykin's riveting testimony, which is chronicled in his book Never Surrender. When the general offered an invitation, scores of men came forward to make spiritual decisions, a number of whom professed faith in Christ for the first time. More men came forward at the end of the conference at the general's invitation to receive the "father's blessing" and confer a blessing on their sons and other men around them. It was incredible to see a church full of men empty the pews and crowd the altar for a blessing.

Randy Wilson, FRC's director of our men's ministry, who also led one of several packed-out breakout sessions, commented: "No matter the age, when the men are given an opportunity to receive a blessing from another man of authority, they come to get that blessing." General Boykin reflected on the conference: "It was truly powerful. The speakers were anointed. They nailed it and got right to the soul of what men are supposed to be. I can tell you I was blessed, and I believe the men who attended were as well."

Stay tuned to our website, StandCourageous.com, or download the Stand Courageous app for info on upcoming conferences and to access a growing arsenal of resources and tools for men. We want to equip men all across America to take the next steps toward becoming a biblical man. In a culture that is increasingly hostile toward masculinity, our mission is to help men "Stand Courageous" for Christ, their families, and the values that made this nation great.