Wednesday September 29, 2021 

Good Morning! 

When a bill that’s all about ensuring the right to kill innocent pre-born children is titled the “Women’s Health Protection Act,” Benjamin Franklin’s wry observation comes to mind: 

“Tricks and treachery are the practice of fools that don’t have brains enough to be honest.”  

Focus’ president Jim Daly calls out the deception in our first story today: 

  1. Radical Abortion Bill Yet Another Round in the War on Children

Focus on the Family president Jim Daly reacts to the House passage of H.R. 3755:  

In a galling twist of irony, liberal members of the House of Representatives passed last week (on party lines) the “Women’s Health Protection Act” – a tragic piece of legislation designed to guarantee unfettered access to abortion. 

In reality, the legislation doesn’t protect anyone – it actually endangers women and ends the lives of innocent children, along with cheapening the sacredness and value of life overall. 

Using soft words to describe dark deeds has become the calling card of abortion advocates, who routinely refer to abortion as “healthcare.” It’s simply not true, and saying so however many times they do won’t make truth of a lie. 

The apostle Paul had little time for deceivers, admonishing fellow believers in Ephesus to “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them” (5:11).

Prior to its passage, the Catholic Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco attempted to do just that, describing the bill as “nothing short of child sacrifice.” 

At this point, the bill is expected to face fierce resistance in the Senate, but we should take no chances and call members urging them to reject this wicked legislation. 

Abortion advocates are growing desperate as they see an increasing majority of citizens uncomfortable with abortion, especially later in a pregnancy. A recent Associated Press poll found that 66% of Americans oppose abortion in the second trimester and 81% in the third. Technology is making it harder and harder to ignore the reality that a baby inside a woman’s womb is not simply a blob of tissue but a life.  

My friend Dr. Bill Lile, an OBGYN and member of Focus on the Family’s Physicians Resource Council, offered a candid assessment of the legislation passed in the House. Dr. Lile joined us last month in Dallas for See Life ’21. I admire and appreciate his heart for the women he treats and the babies he’s entrusted to help care for. 

Dr. Bill often talks about how when he cares for a pregnant woman, he’s actually caring for two patients – the mother and the child. In this video, you’ll hear him talk about the healthcare this bill would render moot – specifically lifesaving care he and pro-life colleagues stand ready to provide. 

I welcome your reaction – and please contact your United States senator and urge them to vote no on the “Women’s Health Protection Act.” 

  1. The Impact of Church Attendance on Child Development and Family Life 

From Action:  

Only 47% of Americans belong to a church of any faith. 

This matters, especially for families and children, as well as our communities, as church attendance and religious adherence not only benefit family life, but also the development of children, as both church and a strong family life positively form children and help them become productive members of society. 

For example, in a study by Ilana Horwitz, teenaged students who were classified as “abiders” – those who are involved in religion and emphasize faith in their daily lives – and students who were classified as “avoiders” – those who avoid involvement in religion and its relevance in their lives – performed differently in school. Abiders had a much higher average GPA than avoiders, 3.22 and 2.93, respectively.  

For comparison, a GPA of 3.3 is a B+, while a GPA of 3.0 is a B. While this gap may not appear to be large, the implications are still substantial. While Horwitz said that her study indicates association and not causation, she also states that her study “suggests that good academic performance is also driven by habits learned through religious adherence.” 

The attendance of religious services does not only affect the academic achievement of children and adolescents, but also creates stronger families. 

Religious participation among middle-aged and older women leads to healthier lives and less suicide, as well as a decreased likelihood of divorce, which is up to 50 percent less likely than those who do not attend religious services. This is due to numerous religions teaching that marriage is sacred, while also advocating for a strong community. Some research also displays that families who engage in religious activities experience greater satisfaction in their relationships, as well as higher levels of trust. This engagement can also lead to a more productive and healthy way of resolving problems within a relationship, as well. 

All of this leads to an overwhelmingly positive affect in child development.  

For example, regular attendees of religious services are more likely to marry and face less divorce than their peers who are less devout attendees. Divorce, as well as out-of-wedlock childbearing, is shockingly expensive, as they cost American taxpayers more than $112 billion a year in government programs, as well as lost tax revenue across all levels of government. Children raised by married parents face less poverty and are much safer, as the risk of child abuse is much lower. More scholars agree that children who are raised by their two biological parents in a stable marriage perform better than children raised in other family forms.  

Also, parents who marry before having children are much more likely to stay together. Essentially, stability and the presence of both parents is critical for children, which marriage provides.

3. After Zoom Church: Restoring the Real in Christian Worship

From Public Discourse: 

To be sure, digital experiences still engage the senses—sometimes quite intensely.  

But when life is increasingly automated and digitized, and human interaction is further mediated by additional technological layers, we cross what L.M. Sacasas calls “a threshold of artificiality beyond which . . . our capacity to flourish as human beings is diminished.” Or, as Matthew Crawford puts it, what atrophies is our natural “animal genius for learning about the world by acting directly on it.” 

Church is not just a place to sing, listen, think, or emote. It is where God delivers Christ and his forgiveness through Word and Sacrament into the whole human person. The intimate union of Christ and the Church in the Eucharist is the rightful climax of Christian worship, and for most of church history was celebrated as such weekly, if not more. With the modern tendency to spiritualize worship and digitalization’s mind–body separation, the frequent reception of the Lord’s Supper anchors us in embodied reality, keeping the body and soul unified and connected to the resurrected Christ. 

While the realities of the pandemic may have required (and may still require) temporary physical separation or modifications to church practice, both human physicality and the sacramental nature of the Church draw us toward the assembly, where we receive Christ’s gifts. Whenever post-pandemic life arrives, my hope is that the Church hasn’t forgotten this. 

There may certainly be a place for Christian education and edification through digital media—whether podcasts, online classes, articles, prayer groups, Bible teaching, and so on. But Christian worship and the celebration of the Eucharist should retain the pristine physicality and simplicity that make them as relevant and conceivable in the twenty-first century as in the first century: unencumbered by cords, wires, cameras, and microphones; uninterrupted by flashing screens, notification dings, and PowerPoint presentations; unmediated by the technological layers enveloping us in everyday life. 

In such a place our human finitude encounters Divine life through water, Word, bread, and wine. In such a place we are steered away from digital evanescence and restored to the realm of the real, both transcendent and physical. In such a place God meets man—no screen or app required. 

  1. Why a healthy, functioning democracy needs religion 

From the Deseret News: 

One of the things that religion has done from the very beginning is to provide Americans with a language in which to discuss “should we be this kind of democracy or a different kind? Should we follow a certain denomination or should we not?” 

Now in those early years of the American republic, let’s say the nation was primarily Christian and so there was that broad framework, but within that broad framework there were certainly Catholics and Protestants and then there were a variety of Protestants, as well. So one of the reasons why we have religious freedom in the First Amendment is to guarantee — hopefully, to guarantee — that no one of those religions becomes an established religion. 

  1. New HBO Documentary “Nuclear Family” Shows Unanticipated Downsides of Same-Sex Families 

From The Daily Citizen: 

Sunday evening, HBO aired the beginning of an interesting three-part documentary entitled “Nuclear Family.” No, it is not a careful examination of the natural-married-mother/father-raising-their-own-children family form. Neither is it an attack on that ideal either. It is actually a very curious and unexpected defense of why the married mother/father family will not, and cannot, be so easily displaced. The title is a curious play on the word “nuclear.” 

The three-hour documentary film – the remaining two episodes airing the evenings of Oct 3 and 10 on HBO – was created by director Ry Russo-Young. The New York Times describes Russo-Young as “born in 1981, in the first generation of children raised by openly gay and lesbian parents.” She was raised in avant garde 1980s Greenwich Village and The New York Times Magazine profiled Russo-Young as a 22-year-old filmmaker in a 2004 cover story entitled “Growing Up With Mom and Mom.” 

She loves her two “moms.” But the story she tells of her family and its development is not a simple, nor necessarily, a happy one. It is story of profound human struggle. So why would HBO feature a documentary that demonstrates some deep, inherent problems in the design of same-sex families? Variety admits “public acceptance of gay and lesbian families has reached a point where Russo-Young can relax the party line somewhat.” And relax the party line she does.

3. The Hidden Harm of Gender Transition 

From the Gospel Coalition: 

Gender ideology, with its eagerness to manipulate hormones and organs, affords the body (and the wondrous complementary capacities of male and female bodies) no intrinsic dignity. Man and woman were created as the crown of God’s glorious creation. The beauty of the embodied male-female union is a picture of the deeper and unbreakable love of God for his people, of Christ for his church. 

The trans-affirming movement insists that human dignity is only respected when we accept the premise that we are autonomous (on the basis that there is no creator God, so we can determine who we are and how we live). In reality, human dignity is only respected when we understand that we are made by God and in his image. We are to treat everyone with civility and respect. 

But true compassion has to be grounded in God’s good design for humanity. Testimonies from those who transition and then regret it show the false compassion of affirming transition. Our creator God shows us the way to live wisely and freely offers grace through Christ to all who struggle. We are to graciously and confidently hold out that offer of grace to all who have been deceived by lies.

7. Why Aren’t Men Going To College?
From the American Conservative: 

While it is doubtful that the average male high schooler thinks much about the fact that up to half of all academic findings are likely wrong, this embarrassing truth does contribute to the larger sense that most college and university coursework is based more on professors’ personal and political prejudices than any kind of useful information. Again, this growing impression may not be as important to women, for whom the bachelor’s degree opens opportunities previously denied their sex, but for men it can easily seem that a once-useful educational experience has been diminished for them. 

Presently, America’s college and universities appear content to treat the declining number of male undergraduates with the least amount of effort—as a technical problem that can be solved by quietly lowering their admissions standards for men or by expelling fewer fraternity boys for misconduct. Understandable, perhaps, as getting to the heart of the problem would require a fundamental challenge to what these schools teach and how they operate. 

But when the academy is enrolling 50 percent more women than the opposite sex, young men are clearly trying to tell us something important. And those school officials who continue to respond by just tinkering on the margins are grossly failing in their duty to the larger society. 

  1. Why We Will Miss Angelo Codevilla 

From First Things: 

The political philosopher Angelo Codevilla was taken from us on September 21, at a time when America has particular need of him. No one I have known combined such ferocious contempt for hypocrisy and incompetence with such generosity of spirit.  

He was, as the Bible qualified the patriarch Jacob, tam: open and unpretentious, naïve in his devotion to principle and his openness to political friendship, an unflinching ally in the political equivalent of a bar fight, a mentor of unfailing generosity to young scholars and activists. A distinguished translator of Machiavelli, Codevilla was the least Machiavellian person I ever encountered at a high level of policy. 

If Codevilla had done no more than play the part of Jeremiah, we would remember him with gratitude. But he was much more than a scholar or pundit; he also was one of the canniest and most effective intelligence officials that the United States produced in the postwar period, most prominently as staff director of the Senate Intelligence Committee during 1979-1985. He was offered senior positions at the Central Intelligence Agency more than once, but preferred the role of an outside monitor of U.S. intelligence to the constraints of the intelligence community. 

Secrecy, he argued, is the most-abused privilege in government, because it allows intelligence agencies to cover up their errors. Codevilla knew where most of the bodies were buried, and showed no fear or favor as a critic of the intelligence establishment.  

  1. Will Smith discusses how father’s abuse ‘defined who I am today’ in upcoming memoir 

From USA Today: 

Will Smith is pulling back the curtain to show the world who he really is in his upcoming memoir, sharing intimate stories about his relationship with his late father and wife Jada Pinkett Smith. 

“My father tormented me. And he was also one of the greatest men I’ve ever known,” Smith writes in “Will.” “He was one of the greatest blessings of my life, and also one of my greatest sources of pain.” 

The actor’s father, a refrigeration engineer and U.S. Air Force veteran, died in 2016 after being diagnosed with cancer.  

Smith credits his comedic nature, at least in part, to the abuse he witnessed as a child, using it as a defense mechanism, noting that he thought if he kept everyone entertained and laughing, they wouldn’t resort to violence. 

  1. NYC Woman Writes 4,000 Thank You Cards to Police Officers: ‘Grateful for Your Service’ 

From The Daily Citizen: 

One of my favorite movie quotes comes from Gandalf in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, who gives his take on the overarching battle of good against evil. 

“I have found,” Gandalf says, “that it is the small things, the everyday deeds of ordinary folks, that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” 

Maybe I like that quote because it gives me hope that everyone, no matter how insignificant they may seem to the eyes of others, can change the world for good. 

One such example of a seemingly ordinary woman doing extraordinary things comes from a recent story out of New York City. 

Coretta James, a resident of Queens, New York, is on a mission. 

Over the last four years, she has spent the last four years writing handwritten thank you cards to members of the New York Police Department (NYPD). 

So far, she’s given out 4,000. 

“I have tremendous respect for the uniform: military, firemen and cops,” James told The New York Post in an interview. “They are not used to being thanked. And I feel for them. They need encouragement. I used to see guys with 30 or 35 years on the job but no longer.”