Hope Is on the March

Hope Is on the March

January 21, 2022

The tens of thousands of pro-lifers who made the trek to Washington, D.C. this morning didn't just come to support the unborn. They came to see history. For 49 years, they've slogged through rain, snow, sleet, and freezing cold for the March for Life with one prayer in their hearts: an end to Roe v. Wade. Today, that dream is closer than ever.

The hope that started blooming two years ago with the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett has exploded into full-blown optimism now, as the Supreme Court considers the first direct challenge to unlimited abortion in a generation: Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. After a half-century, Roe could finally fall -- ending a bloody legacy that cost our nation 63 million lives. If it does, the young people standing in the sun this afternoon will remember this moment. They'll remember the belief on everyone's faces and the anticipation they felt wondering if this stop on the steps of the Supreme Court could finally be their last.

"There's a very big feeling in the pro-life movement and with the young people [here now] that something very big is on the horizon," Students for Life President Kristan Hawkins agreed. The mood was upbeat, as the possibility that all of the hard work, all of the years of praying and outreach, might finally be paying off. And while there's no certainty that the justices will strike down Roe, there's never been more reason to hope. "You can never really read the tea leaves and how these justices are going to [decide]..." March for Life President (and former FRCer) Jeanne Mancini said, but based on oral arguments, "it looks very positive."

Asked by a reporter if her job would be over if Roe is overturned, she replied immediately, "No." Like most pro-lifers, the goal is "to create a culture where abortion is unthinkable." And as much progress as the movement has made, our work -- especially if the Supreme Court answers our prayers -- is far from over. The battle will shift to the states, where the strong legislative infrastructure pro-lifers have spent the last several years building will come into play. Even now, lawmakers are ramping up efforts in hopes of a nationwide shift in the battle over abortion. The message to states is simple: "Full-speed ahead."

In 2021, by all rights a depressing year with the inauguration of Joe Biden and his pro-abortion agenda, states were more motivated than ever to act. They passed a record number of pro-life laws -- and abortion activists worry there are more to come. "Right now, we're seeing the beginning of what might be another wave," one Guttmacher Institute director warned this week.

That wouldn't be surprising considering where the country stands. New polling just released this week by Marist ought to rattle Leftists who insist the nation is with them. On the contrary, only 17 percent of Americans believe as they do, that abortions should be allowed through all nine months of pregnancy. Seventy-one percent think it should be limited to the first trimester (including 49 percent of Democrats!) -- a far cry from the central holding of Roe, which allows abortion at any time, for any reason. Worse for the Democratic Party, the majority of Americans (60 percent) want the court to return the issue to the states -- including 80 percent of millennials and Gen Z. They think it's high time the people had a vote.

And if for some reason the justices don't agree, all will not be lost. This year, like the 48 before it, carry hope and promise because God's people still care -- and they won't stop fighting until this grave injustice is gone from our nation forever.

As fellow pro-life leaders and I wrote in a column today, "The spotlight has never been bigger on the pro-life movement... As conservative leaders, we are committed to preparing for this moment and working together to protect those who cannot protect themselves. From policymaking to volunteering with a local pregnancy resource center to peacefully praying and offering support to women outside abortion clinics, every one of us has unique gifts and a role to play in our effort to build a culture of life. That is exactly what we intend to do. Join us."

** If you missed FRC's annual ProLifeCon with Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.), Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-Minn.), the Babylon Bee's Kyle Mann, Ryan and Bethany Bomberger, Alison Centofante, and so many others, check it out on demand here.

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

Indiana's New Going Rate for Biblical Advice: $1,000

January 21, 2022

Imagine being stuck in a cycle of depression or an unhealthy relationship and not being able to get help. Well, unfortunately, people in 22 states don't have to imagine it. Thanks to a string of bad laws, something as simple as sitting down and talking to a counselor about your struggles with sexuality isn't allowed because it is illegal. And if the far-Left has its way, small towns like West Lafayette, Indiana will be next.

It's a city of about 50,000 people, but it may be the next battleground in the LGBT's movement to stop free speech. Since last November, local leaders have been plotting to pass a radical ordinance that would crush churches and local ministries who are involved in biblical counseling. When a reporter tipped off Faith Church Senior Pastor Steve Viars that the idea was brewing, Viars was horrified. His church started a biblical counseling center 45 years ago for anyone in the community. "We just want to show love to people in our town," he explained on "Washington Watch." "So if there are people struggling with their marriages or family issues or finances or anger, worry, fear, depression, whatever it might be, we've trained people in our congregation to open the word of God to help people... to lovingly come alongside them and show them what the gospel says about such matters."

Over the last four decades, the ministry exploded. Thirty-two men and women, made up of a number of doctors, professors, pastors, and other mentors come together every Monday to offer 60-80 hours of free counseling to anybody who wants it. Now, thanks to those who want to use the force of government to change the culture to exclude biblical morality, the whole project is in jeopardy.

The proposed ordinance is being promoted as a ban on "conversion therapy," but as Pastor Steve points out, the church has never practiced that sort of "barbaric" behavior. "But that's part of the trick here. That's why it's so important for [people] to carefully read the definitions, because it's deceptive. The term 'conversion therapy' [is a] dog whistle." The real ordinance is a carefully disguised attack on parents, religious freedom, and free speech. Under this language, Viars warns, a parent, small group leader, pastor, or biblical counselor could be punished for showing a child what God's word has to say about human sexuality.

The definitions are so broad that even moms or dads who answer their child's question could be targeted. "So the city council is saying, essentially, we will not allow you to use the word of God with children. We are going to prevent children from hearing the gospel. That's where we are."

Under this proposal -- which was so controversial when it was introduced that it's been tabled until February 7 -- anyone who tries to "change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity... or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions to people of the same gender" by simply talking to them would be fined $1,000 per violation. In other words, if someone walked into Faith Church's counseling center voluntarily and asked for help with these issues, the church would be penalized for offering advice on what scripture has to say.

In early December, when the issue came up for a discussion, Mayor John Dennis was adamant in his opposition. "We need to remember that parents have rights, and individuals have rights," he argued. "If parents choose to seek faith-based guidance, are we going to be the ones to say no you can't do that?"

In advance of the February 7 meeting, Viars and other townspeople have launched a website called FreedomLafayette.org with a petition to the city. Already, they have over 9,000 signatures. He encourages everyone, everywhere to sign it. "Because the truth of the matter is, this is coming to a theater near you. As far as we can tell, this is only the second time that an ordinance has been attempted with non-licensed counselors... and it would be best to stop this now." He's right, Dr. Albert Mohler said later. "This is not Berkeley, California. This is West Lafayette, Indiana. If this can happen in Indiana, it can happen in Birmingham. It can happen anywhere."

Meanwhile, people like Walt Heyer, who knows what it's like to be trapped in sexual bondage, couldn't agree more. If it weren't for counseling, he says now, he might not be alive. "I might have killed myself," insists the man who lived for six years as a woman. Theirs are the stories of "crippling levels of depression" and suicidal thoughts -- even after getting the lives they thought they wanted. True compassion isn't locking people into a lifetime of pain -- it's giving them the help they need, and in this case want.

As far as Viars is concerned, the only way to show real love is to stand on the power of the Gospel. Join them. Add your name to the thousands of others who will do whatever it takes to proclaim the Word of God.

For more on the West Lafayette controversy, check out David Closson's piece on the FRC blog, "Counseling Bans in Canada and Indiana Threaten Free Speech of Pastors and Counselors."

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

Virginians Get Generational Opportunity

January 21, 2022

It takes conviction to dismantle governmental machinery designed to advance the radical agenda of the political Left, and it takes creativity to refashion that raw material into something productive. In his first week on the job, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has shown he has the conviction, and he has the creativity.

On Wednesday, Youngkin appointed Angela Sailor to his cabinet as the Commonwealth's Chief Diversity, Opportunity, and Inclusion Officer. Sailor directed African American Affairs for President Bush's 2000 campaign, served as Vice President of The Heritage Foundation's Feulner Institute "to restore confidence in America's founding values and principles," and strongly opposed teaching critical race theory in classrooms. Youngkin also announced he would "introduce and support legislation to change the name of the office to the Diversity, Opportunity and Inclusion Office," which was previously known as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Office.

That simple name change infuriated the Left. "Exchanging the word 'equity' for 'opportunity' again dismisses the struggles of marginalized peoples who have not been granted the same opportunities due to systemic racism," said Democratic Delegate Elizabeth Guzman. Unfortunately, she never explained how focusing on opportunity will harm those who lack it. Oddly, Youngkin's own executive order said exactly what she accused him of denying, "too many of our citizens have not received the equal opportunity they deserve." What her statement does make clear is that "equity" is no longer merely a synonym for "equality;" the Left has appropriated the term and imbued with a specific meaning: present racial discrimination in the opposite direction of past racial discrimination. Most Americans are getting wise to the con. We understand innately that two wrongs don't make a right.

Given its short and dishonorable history, it's strange to find anyone defending Virginia's Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. In 2019, then-Governor Ralph Northam first created the office as an apology for wearing blackface in a yearbook photo (he only survived the scandal because the lieutenant governor and attorney general were embroiled in their own scandals). A less credible origin is hard to imagine.

Youngkin's reforms to the office are far more than window-dressing; he began by terminating all staff and deleting the website. Youngkin's instructions to new Diversity Chief Angela Sailor signal the new mission:

  • "Expand entrepreneurship and economic opportunities for disadvantaged Virginians"
  • "Facilitate bringing Virginians of different faiths together in service"
  • "Promote free speech and civil discourse in civic life, including viewpoint diversity in higher education"
  • "Eliminate disparities in prenatal care, and be an ambassador for unborn children"
  • "Be responsive to the rights of parents in educational and curricular decision making and ensure... the teaching of Virginia's and the United States' history is honest, objective, and complete."

Equal opportunity for all citizens, ending the campus cancel culture, blocking critical race theory from schools -- these sane, radically normal policies are what Virginians voted for last November. The Youngkin administration is targeting not pretended racism, but real racism, such as Planned Parenthood's targeting of black and Hispanic communities. Lo and behold, the election is already delivering changes, as Youngkin's term as governor lasts another four years.

"The Left is busy convincing itself that Youngkin has morphed into a radical," wrote National Review's Jim Geraghty. "They don't understand that more voters in the last election viewed them as the radical ones, and Youngkin's election and first few days in office have made that fact clear for anyone to see." That's good news for schoolchildren, whose parents will get a say in their education. That's good news for abortion survivors, who won't be "kept comfortable" while they are denied life-saving care.