Former President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is credited with saying in 2008: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”
Sadly, many in the last twenty-four months have taken his advice to heart:
- COVID policies: Stop treating children as political pawns
Focus on the Family president Jim Daly writes in the Christian Post:
As America prepares to enter its third year of the COVID-19 global pandemic, an irrefutable and heartbreaking consensus is finally beginning to coalesce across social, economic, and even political classes:
Children who are being isolated in their homes or clothed behind masks despite being at the least possible risk across all demographics, have borne the greatest burden psychologically, emotionally, and educationally for the onerous and ill-conceived virus-related restrictions that continue to threaten our rising generation.
The explosion of the Omicron variant threatens to cause school and political officials to repeat the very same mistakes that sent our children into a downward spiral beginning in March of 2020. The old adage tells us insanity is repeating the same actions and expecting different results. So why would anyone resort to the same failed policies of the past and simply hope for a better outcome in the future?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently announced that since the onset of COVID-19, teenage girls have seen a 50% increase in emergency room visits for suicide attempts. Depression and anxiety rates have skyrocketed, and overall malaise and unevenness have taken root among youth. With the lockdowns came the loss of emotionally stabilizing activities such as social gatherings, sporting competitions, and church attendance.
The academic impact of school closures and remote learning has been catastrophic, disproportionately affecting minority and poor students who are not as well-resourced as their peers. Standardized testing scores are down across the board. While some children have bounced back, many have not and are now mired in a dysfunctional and destructive cycle of failure.
Screen time has increased exponentially for everyone, especially for young people, where it has doubled from pre-pandemic levels. At a critical time of relational, in-person development, virtual has become reality. Teens would rather text than talk — a trend that will have far-reaching social implications as young people grow up and enter the professional workforce.
Tragically, individuals who should know better have instilled a spirit of fear in many students. Even though children are at greater risk of driving in a car than contracting COVID-19, counselors report that a widespread paralyzing psychosis has emerged. Instead of serving as a calming voice of reason, some adults have contributed to the escalating hysteria — ignoring the facts for fleeting and misguided feelings, along with politically motivated concerns surrounding the virus. Never mind reality. Instead, they’ve developed a George Costanza philosophy – “It’s not a lie if you believe it.”
For several generations now, American children have been caught in the crosshairs of a cultural and political battle. In fact, they have become victimized by individuals obsessed with revolutionizing societal norms. To the left, children are used and abused as political pawns. They are seen as expendable and forgettable casualties in this dangerous and destructive social experiment.
For these radicals, COVID-19 is seen as a crisis and opportunity to exploit. It’s being used as an extension or version of an ongoing campaign to radically change cultural norms regarding the government’s relationship and control of education and children. Rather than protecting, defending, and sacrificing for children and their interests, these ideologues are determined to serve their own selfish dreams and desires.
Now we have the rise of the “Mama Bear Movement.” This movement is an informal but determined coalition of mothers banding together to defend and protect against an aggressive and progressive attack on their children. It is the conservative response to this leftist overreach. I welcome and celebrate it.
A post-mortem reckoning of virus-related policies and their deleterious impact on children is coming, and not a minute too soon for the sake of our young and the rest of society.
Herd Immunity Is Over—Long Live Superimmunity
From the Wall Street Journal:
Forget about herd immunity. Covid-19 vaccines and prior infection don’t provide lasting protection against infection and transmission, especially with the Omicron variant. That makes it impossible for enough of the population to become immune to stop the virus from spreading.
But don’t despair. Omicron will give much of the population what some scientists call “superimmunity”—stronger protection against new variants and even future coronaviruses. Normal life will be possible even as the virus continues to spread and mutate. Superimmunity won’t necessarily stop people from being infected or transmitting the virus. But most people who get infected, even with a more virulent variant, will experience mild or no symptoms.
“I think this speaks to an eventual end game,” said co-author Marcel Curlin. “It doesn’t mean we’re at the end of the pandemic, but it points to where we’re likely to land: Once you’re vaccinated and then exposed to the virus, you’re probably going to be reasonably well-protected from future variants.” Dr. Curlin added: “Our study implies that the long-term outcome is going to be a tapering off of the severity of the worldwide epidemic.”
All of this suggests that infection with Omicron is likely to stimulate potent and durable protection against Covid-19—and potentially other coronaviruses—even if it mutates to become more virulent. As Omicron rapidly spreads, people who have been vaccinated or previously infected will develop superimmunity. Covid-19 will become a virus that causes cold- and sometimes flulike symptoms—annoying but rarely deadly or disruptive.
One caveat is that older people generate weaker T-cell responses and memories to infections and vaccines. They’re likely to need annual booster shots. Omicron will end the pandemic by making Covid-19 endemic.
- Abortion opponents gear up for potential overturning of Roe v. Wade during upcoming events
Focus on the Family’s Jim Daly featured in the Colorado Springs Gazette:
Denver’s annual “Celebrate Life” rally begins at 1 p.m. Saturday at the west side of the Capitol building, followed by a march at 2 p.m.
This year’s theme is “Honoring Courageous Mothers,” and the event is hosted by the Catholic Archdiocese of Denver and Respect Life Denver.
Such rallies “give voice to the voiceless,” said Focus on the Family President Jim Daly.
“It’s an opportunity to pray and gather with a diverse group of people who are dedicated and committed to empowering women and reminding the community that life is the better choice,” he said.
The National March for Life, with a concert, rally and march to Capitol Hill, happens Jan. 21 in Washington, D.C., with activities around the theme, “Equality Begins in the Womb.”
This year “promises to be the most consequential in the history of the pro-life movement,” said Daly, whose Colorado Springs-headquartered Christian organization supports families worldwide through various media.
Focus on the Family representatives will march and pray in Denver and Washington, D.C., he said. Ferraro plans to be at both events, too.
“The local church is in a unique position to provide housing, job training and other practical assistance,” he said. “We must work to make adoption an easier and more attractive option for both birthparents and adoptive mothers and fathers, encouraging and affirming the adoption tax credit.
“We must continue to champion pro-life laws in family-friendly states, recognizing these states will become a magnet for people to move to.”
Said Daly: “We cannot predict what will happen but with prayer, God’s favor and hard work, we can deserve the victorious outcome we are praying for.”
Texas abortion ban remains in effect after appeals court ruling
From The Hill:
A federal appeals court rejected a Texas abortion clinics’ request to return their challenge against the state’s controversial abortion ban, leaving in place the strictest ban in the country.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily transferred the case to the Republican-controlled Texas Supreme Court in a 2 to 1 decision, according to the Washinton Post, postponing the decision for months.
The move will allow the Texas abortion ban, which has led to a large reduction of abortions in the state, to remain in place.
3. Should a Religious Flag Fly Over a Government Building?
From the Wall Street Journal:
A religious volunteer group in Boston, Camp Constitution, asked permission to fly a flag with the Latin cross to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution and the city’s religious history. Although Boston had approved 284 flag-raising requests without a single rejection in the preceding 12 years, city officials denied this request because the flag was described as religious. Does religion not belong in public life? This question underlies Shurtleff v. City of Boston, which will be argued before the Supreme Court on Tuesday. The justices’ answer to that question should be based on America’s longstanding religious pluralism—not on confused legal doctrines.
For decades Boston has flown various flags over City Hall. According to the city’s website, it does so to “foster diversity” and “strengthen connections among Boston’s many communities.” The city says it welcomes “all applicants.” Flags from many foreign countries have been raised, as have those of organizations such as the Chinese Progressive Association, the Juneteenth Observance Foundation and Boston Pride, and banners reflecting the city’s cultural heritage, such as the Bunker Hill flag, which contains St. George’s cross.
Boston’s refusal does more than single out religion for disparate treatment. Boston’s commissioner of property management said the city must deny requests to fly “non-secular flags” to comply with “well-established First Amendment jurisprudence.” In other words, Boston’s leaders think the Constitution requires excluding religious flags.
Not everyone will approve of Camp Constitution’s flag—just as others may be offended by seeing the Chinese or Cuban flag flying outside Boston’s City Hall. But those who celebrate the city’s religious heritage are as much a part of Boston as its other communities are, and we have the First Amendment to ensure government can reflect its peoples’ religious culture, not sanction its erosion.
- Supreme Court to hear case of high school football coach who lost job after praying with players
From the Washington Post:
The Supreme Court said Friday it will take up the case of a high school football coach who lost his job after a contentious battle with the school district over his postgame midfield prayers.
The court’s new conservative majority has been protective of individual religious rights, and it was not a surprise it took the case of Joseph Kennedy’s legal fight with the Bremerton, Wash., school district, which began in 2015.
It was one of a handful of cases the court accepted Friday as it fills out its docket for the current term. Barring an emergency, the court hears oral arguments through April, and then attempts to finish opinions in the argued cases by the end of June.
Not on Friday’s list was a challenge to the admissions policies at Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The court did not announce any action on the latest suits to urge the justices to overturn its decisions allowing the limited use of race in higher education enrollment.
- Thousands of Churches Raise Alarm About Scope of New Canadian ‘Conversion Therapy’ Ban
From Fox News:
Thousands of clergy in North America devoted their sermons on Sunday to affirming biblical sexual morality in response to a new Canadian law some warn could effectively criminalize such teachings.
An initiative begun by Liberty Coalition Canada and promulgated in the United States by Pastor John MacArthur of Los Angeles secured the support of more than 4,000 Christian pastors who publicly expressed their willingness to protest from the pulpit regarding Bill C-4, Fox News Digital has confirmed.
The controversial legislation, which went into effect Jan. 8 after being fast-tracked through the Canadian Parliament in December without extensive debate, describes as a “myth” the belief that heterosexuality and cisgender identity are preferable. Counseling that does not align with such a worldview now carries a potential five-year jail sentence.
- Youngkin signs executive orders banning critical race theory, lifting mask mandate in Virginia public schools
From The Hill:
Virginia’s Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed 11 executive orders on his first day in office, including one lifting a mask mandate in public schools and another banning the teaching of critical race theory, both issues Youngkin campaigned on.
“Executive Order Number One delivers on his Day One promise to restore excellence in education by ending the use of divisive concepts, including Critical Race Theory, in public education,” a press release from Youngkin’s office read.
“Executive Order Number Two delivers on his Day One promise to empower Virginia parents in their children’s education and upbringing by allowing parents to make decisions on whether their child wears a mask in school,” the release continued.
The governor also signed an executive order announcing the state was “open for business”; two orders establishing a state effort to combat anti-semitism and human trafficking, respectively, and another promising to investigate an alleged sexual assault in a Loudoun County high school, among others.
- Texas Rabbi Recounts Dramatic Escape From Synagogue
From The New York Times:
The Texas rabbi held hostage on Saturday said that he and the other two remaining hostages escaped by throwing a chair at the gunman and then fleeing the synagogue where they had been held for 11 hours.
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker credited security training with the successful escape — which involved whispered instructions, edging closer to the door and talking with the gunman, who was agitated and ranting.
President Biden called the attack an “act of terror” on Sunday, and the F.B.I. said it was investigating the attack as a “terrorism-related matter.”
Synagogues across the United States have paid increasing attention to security issues since 2018, when an antisemitic assailant killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.
9. No, Religious Freedom Doesn’t Send People to Hell
Dr. Russell Moore writes in Christianity Today:
Last week an old video resurfaced on Twitter in which John MacArthur, pastor of Los Angeles’s Grace Community Church, announced he did not support religious freedom. In the clip, MacArthur argued that supporting religious freedom promotes idolatry and enables the kingdom of darkness—that “religious freedom is what sends people to hell.”
Some reports contend that quote is out of context, fitting as it does in a larger argument. Even so, this kind of argument against religious freedom is a familiar one—usually in reference to somebody else’s religion.
If California were to decide that the official state religion is Zen Buddhism, I would be willing to wager that Grace Community Church would not stop preaching the gospel. Nor should they. That’s religious freedom. And I would further wager that if the state of California were to vote in its legislature that every citizen of the state is a good Christian, Grace Community Church would not stop calling their neighbors to repent and believe, personally, in Christ. That’s religious freedom.
We believe in religious freedom not because we believe in freedom on its own terms, but because we believe in the exclusivity of Christ and in the power of the gospel. We believe there is one name under heaven whereby we must be saved—and that name is not “Caesar” or “Ayatollah” or “assistant secretary for civic affairs.”
We believe in religious freedom because we know what Jesus has given us to fight against the kingdom of darkness—the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. We believe in religious freedom because there’s no civil substitute for the gospel of Christ.
We believe in religious freedom because we want to persuade our neighbors to be reconciled to God—not so they won’t be fined by the earthly government, but so they will find eternal life in the heavenly kingdom. So that they won’t end up in hell.
10. ‘God Has Blessed Me’: Roethlisberger Saying Goodbye to Steelers and Hello to ‘God’s Kingdom’
Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger says he’s ready for a new chapter in life with God at the helm.
Following his team’s 42-21 NFL playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday night in the AFC’s wild-card round, he told reporters in the post-game press conference that he’s been blessed to be able to play football, but he’s preparing to move on. “I’m going to do everything I can to be the best husband and father I can be and try to expand God’s kingdom,” he said.
Even though he’s not yet uttered the word “retirement,” the six-time Pro Bowl quarterback, who returned the Steelers to prominence with a pair of Super Bowl wins, sounded like he had played his last game in the NFL.
“It’s tough. I’m proud to have played with these guys,” he quietly told the assembled media. “God has blessed me with an ability to throw a football and has blessed me to play in the greatest city, Pittsburgh, with the greatest fans and the greatest football team and players, and it’s just been truly a blessing and I’m so thankful to him for the opportunity that he’s given me.