Good Morning! 

The author Herbert V. Prochnov once observed, “There’s no cure for laziness, but a large family helps.” 

Scripture is clear that children are a blessing (Psalm 127:3-5) and “Grandchildren are the crown of the aged” (Proverbs 17:6). 

Sadly, many today see children as more burden than blessing: 

 1.  The Future Of American Religion: Birth Rates Show Who’s Having More Kids 

From Religion Unplugged: 

Just last month, a team of economists from Wellesley College and the University of Maryland published a working paper that focused on a peculiar puzzle facing the United States: declining birth rates.  

More particularly, the team of researchers was trying to understand why birth rates continued to fall even after the economy was recovering from the Great Recession of 2007. Those economists concluded that one of the biggest factors was shifting priorities among younger Americans — away from raising children and toward career and travel aspirations.  

One factor that can have a tremendous impact on this decision is religion. Every major religious tradition on Earth encourages reproduction, and thus there can be a theological nudge for people to have children. But a local religious community can also make the decision easier for potential parents by offering up a safety net that can provide financial support or easy access to caregivers for babies and children in the congregation.  

Clearly, it’s in the best interest of religious groups to encourage their young families to have children if they want to ensure the long-term viability of their traditions. It’s no secret that families with children are the easiest pathway to ensure that a church, mosque or synagogue will be able to sustain itself for decades to come. But which traditions are doing a good job of having children, and which ones aren’t? And what does that tell us about the future of American religion?  

For instance, Hindus have the highest peak fertility. About 80% of Hindus in their early 40s have children, with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints not far behind. However, it’s notable that peak fertility for Latter-day Saints — widely known as Mormons — is about five years earlier than it is for Hindus. Protestants and Catholics both have a very similar pattern to each other: The peak age for having children is about 40 years old, with about 60% of both traditions being parents at this age.  

Those that lag behind are worth considering as well. The group that is the least likely to have children are atheists and agnostics. They hit peak fertility around 42 years old, when about 40% of them have children. It’s noteworthy that, according to this data, potentially half of atheists and agnostics never reproduce. Thus, for these groups to grow, they have to rely on conversion more than retention. 

In terms of the number of children per family, there are also large disparities based on tradition. Looking just at people between the ages of 35 and 45 years old — when fertility peaks — it’s clear that Latter-day Saints and Muslims are far above average. The typical American is the parent of about two children. For Mormons and Muslims, it’s closer to three. Christian groups fall right around the mean, and it’s worth pointing out that Protestants have the same number of children as Catholics on average.  

2.   Rand Paul’s Warning to Americans: ‘Be Afraid of Your Government’ 

From PJ Media: 

When asked what he would tell Americans concerned that they’ll end up on some government list if they “say the wrong thing” at their local school board meeting, Paul didn’t mince words. 

“I would say be afraid. Be afraid of your government,” he responded. “That’s a sad thing from someone in the government to say, but the thing is, is those lists already exist.” 

“I think the problem is, it’s become so normalized to use government to search out and seek out your opponents,” Paul continued, before citing the abuse of FISA warrants to illegally spy on the Trump campaign as an example. 

“If you go to a school board meeting and you’re disruptive and you don’t obey the rules of the school board meeting, then there will be local punishment,” Paul said. “But that has nothing to do with the federal law, it has nothing to do with the Department of Justice. What Merrick Garland did is, he’s attempting to stifle dissent, and he’s attempting to say, ‘Beware, or Big Brother’s coming after you if you speak out against my policies or against the Biden policies.’” 

  1. The Child Allowance Welfare Trap: A new study shows the huge new federal payments will shrink the incentive to work

From the Wall Street Journal: 

Democrats are deciding what to keep or cut in their $5 trillion spending bill, and here is one proposal that Sen. Joe Manchin ought to excise: Converting the child tax credit into a universal basic income, which will discourage the work and advancement essential to escape poverty. New research this week suggests that the bill could drive more than one million workers from the labor force. 

Democrats are offering a $3,600 allowance for children under age six and $3,000 for ages six through 17, extending through 2025 provisions passed earlier this year in a Covid relief bill. The allowance, previously $2,000, is “fully refundable” in 2021 to those who pay no income tax. Someone who earned $0 last year can receive $7,200 for two children under six—with part of it paid in monthly checks from the Internal Revenue Service. 

Work in return for time-limited benefits was the animating ethic of the 1996 welfare reform that a bipartisan Congress passed and Bill Clinton signed. Welfare should be “a second chance, not a way of life,” as Mr. Clinton said, and it was an historic policy success. Welfare rolls declined and so did poverty. 

Most Americans seem to understand this principle. According to a Morning Consult poll this week, only about one-third of voters said the payments should be permanent, including only half of Democrats (52%). Half of independents said the payments shouldn’t be permanent. 

They are wise to oppose a policy that will consign millions of Americans, including vulnerable children, to a life of diminished opportunity. Perhaps Republicans could even find the courage to follow the public and make the moral case against this child poverty trap. 

  1. AT&T quietly becomes powerhouse in conservative politics 

From Axios: 

Dallas-based AT&T is taking heat for the company’s contributions to the conservative politicians who passed Texas’ unpopular abortion bill. 

Why it matters: AT&T, the world’s largest communications company, has quietly become a powerful player in conservative politics. 

The corporation is one of the top donors to the sponsors of Texas’ abortion ban. Since 2018, the company has donated $301,000 to the bill’s sponsors, according to

“We have never taken a position on the issue of abortion, and the Texas legislation was no exception,” an AT&T spokesperson told Axios. “We did not endorse nor support passage of Senate Bill 8 in the Texas legislature. Our employee political action committees have never based contribution decisions on a legislator’s positions on the issue of abortion, and employee PAC contributions to Texas legislators went to both opponents and supporters of Senate Bill 8.” 

  1. The Parable of “Banned Books Week”

From Southern Seminary president and former Focus on the Family board member, Dr. Al Mohler: 

You may have missed it, but last week was Banned Books Week in the United States—and you didn’t miss anything. It’s a program undertaken some 40 years ago by the American Library Association. But there are really are no banned books in the United States—at least not in the sense that the American Library Association wants to tell you.  

When you look at the list of the books they claim have been banned, it turns out not a single one of them has actually been banned. Sure: Some have been complained about, but none has been banned. 

But: There are books that are now effectively banned, but they’re not the books that the ALA is willing to speak up about. One example of a book that really is marginalized right now is “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” by Ryan Anderson”—a solid, well researched book that you cannot get on Amazon today. 

It starts with books but it’s really about ideas, and it’s the ideas that are in danger of being banned. But, that’s not the focus of those who are behind Banned Books Week—and therein is a parable. 

  1. Navigating Gender Pronouns at School and Work 

From The Daily Citizen: 

Pronouns used to be remarkably simple and no one gave them a second thought. That is no longer the case. 

It is becoming quite fashionable for the “woke” or socially pressured at work and school to proclaim their pronouns while introducing themselves in meetings, on their name badges, in their email signatures, or on their Zoom profiles, such as “she/her/hers,” “they/them/theirs,” “ze/zir/zirs” and many others.  Some who object are even asked to do the same. The Wall Street Journal recently featured a major story explaining, literally, “Why Gender Pronouns are Becoming a Big Deal at Work.” The New York Times has also engaged the controversy of late. 

Increasingly, companies and schools are encouraging employees to participate in the practice. Some are even requiring it. How should Christians and those who take a scientific view of sex and gender respond to such practices in the workplace and campus? 

It is an important question because we all want to be good citizens and friends where we work and learn. But we also want to live in fidelity to the truth of what it means to be human as male and female. Therefore, we must understand what is going on with this emerging pronoun trend and why it matters. 

  1. Bill Maher on crowd’s ‘hunger’ for mocking wokeness: ‘For the first time … I am playing to a mixed audience’ 

From Fox News: 

HBO “Real Time” host Bill Maher discussed the surprisingly increased broadness of his stand-up audience on Tuesday, saying there was a hunger among traditional liberals to hear the “woke,” “crazy section” on the left get taken to task. 

No one would mistake the staunchly liberal Maher for a right-winger, but the comic has stood out in the late-night world with his pointed criticisms of aspects of “wokeness,” which he expanded on during an interview with “The Joe Scarborough Podcast.”  

“For the first time in my life, I am playing to a mixed audience,” he said of his stand-up tour, which he does in addition to his HBO program. “I was in Nashville about a month ago, and the audience was about 60-40 liberal to conservative. That never used to happen, never. And I think it’s because 10 years ago, in my opinion anyway, the left did not have a crazy section. There was no such thing as woke, and now they do have a crazy section, which I call out as a liberal. I think I’m kind of one of the only people doing that, so there’s a hunger to hear that.” 

8. Morality demonstrated in stories can alter judgment for early adolescents 

From the University of Buffalo: 

An important lesson in the moral education of children could be as close as the book in their hands. Stories matter. And they can play a role in shifting the importance of particular moral values in young audiences, according to the results of a new study. 

“Media can distinctly influence separate moral values and get kids to place more or less importance on those values depending on what is uniquely emphasized in that content,” says Lindsay Hahn, assistant professor of communication, College of Arts and Sciences. 

Hahn is first author of the new study, which adds critical nuance to a body of literature that explores how media content affects children. 

While many previous studies have focused on broad conceptualizations, like prosocial or antisocial effects that might be associated with specific content, Hahn’s study looks at how exposure to content featuring specific moral values — care, fairness, loyalty and authority — might influence the weight kids place on those values. 

Do children reading about particular moral characteristics absorb those traits as a building block for their own morality? The findings, which appear in the Journal of Media Psychology, suggest so, and further support how this indirect approach to socializing children’s morality can supplement the direct teaching of moral principles kids might receive through formal instruction. 

9. Dreaming of winning the lottery? These horror stories may change your mind. 

From USA Today: 

Money doesn’t always buy happiness. In fact some lottery winners have experienced bankruptcy, divorce, prison time and have even been murdered. 

Experts say if you win and don’t contact a reputable tax professional and a reputable investment adviser, you could land yourself in big financial trouble. If your first step is to tell family and friends you won, it could lead to close people in your life demanding money. Lottery winners who aren’t equipped with how to wisely save their millions often blow through their cash. 

Although it may seem impossible to blow a billion or millions of dollars, below are some of the worst U.S. lottery winner horror stories. 

William Bud Post. Post won Pennsylvania’s $16.2 million jackpot in 1988, the Beaver County Times reported. This was the start of a series of unfortunate events for Post. His ex-girlfriend sued him for a share of the winnings and won, and his brother hired a hitman in an effort to inherit part of the cash. Other relatives spent months demanding money. Within a month of winning, Post filed for bankruptcy and had $1 million in debt.  

Abraham Shakespeare. In 2006, Shakespeare won $30 million in a Florida lottery, and three years later he was murdered. The 47-year-old was shot twice in the chest by DeeDee Moore, who befriended Shakespeare after his lottery win, according to ABC News. Moore was found guilty of first-degree murder in 2012. 

Jack Whittaker. Before winning $315 million in West Virginia in 2002, Whittaker was already a millionaire, according to TIME. Just four years later, the then-construction company president claimed he went broke. Tragedies swarmed his life. His granddaughter and daughter died soon after from drug overdoses. Then Whittaker was robbed of $545,000 while sitting in his car at a strip club.  

10. Four people save man’s life after he suffered heart attack watching new James Bond film “No Time To Die” 

Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. From National World News: 

Malcolm Clarke, 81, went into cardiac arrest on Saturday October 2 during a screening of the new blockbuster, the Star reports

Four members of the audience, one of whom is believed to have been a doctor, came to his aid and helped keep him alive as the Odeon cinema was evacuated. 

Hope you have a great weekend!