FOX News reported on the recent Portland unrest in all-to-familiar recent fashion. It was protestors, city police officers, some federal officers, chanting, etc. Overall, FOX headlined it as, “Portland sees largely peaceful night of protests with more than 1,000 demonstrators as feds prepare to withdraw”, which was a welcome relief to the protests not too long ago that were accompanied by looting, violence, and property destruction. But while it seemed like good news overall, something changed.
Buried inside the article was this sentence, “Later, some agitators burned Bibles and flags outside the courthouse and set a series of fires.” In fairness, it did say that other protesters helped put out one of the fires, which was encouraging. However, it may not seem like much, but I regard Bible burning as taking the protests up a notch.
Book burning has long been the mark of revolutions. There are roughly 200 recorded occurrences of book burning events since the before the time of Christ, many of them aimed at religious texts, so this is nothing new. However, the fundamental act of burning a book is censorship – that is the real problem.
Under our Constitution, anyone can burn a book, which is actually a freedom of speech. That is a good thing. But burning a Bible fundamentally says, “I reject the basis of all western culture and the Deity upon which it is based, and I reject the Christian principles upon which this nation was founded.”
If taken to the next step, in many cases in history it has often gone hand-in-hand with saying that I reject your right to practice your faith. For example, I will find a reason to close the doors of your churches, synagogues, and mosques, so that you will experience more and more impediments to practicing your faith. That is why this is taking things up a notch.
The burning of those Bibles in Portland was simply symptomatic of the larger problem, the growing devaluation and sometimes outright animosity towards our faith in this country. We see it from some of our political leaders to “human rights” groups and the media. We know this will happen. II Timothy 3:12 states, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
So where does this leave us? It means a few things. First, we need to continue to proclaim our faith in Christ, despite those who would silence us. If the church of the first century proclaimed the gospel at risk of death, how much more should we proclaim the same when we are dealing with societal pressure.
Second, we need to fight for biblical principles, particularly in the halls of government. We need to proudly defend and advance our biblical values in public life to help reinforce the foundation upon which our nation was built.
Finally, we need to elect statesmen to all offices who will bear the cross of Christ. We need men and women who will stand for your and my foundational biblical beliefs and seek to protect and reinforce them in our nation.
If this seems like a daunting list of tasks, I am here to tell you that Family Policy Alliance of North Dakota® is standing with you to help. We proudly proclaim our Christianity, promote biblically based policy, and help elect statesmen to state and national positions who will act out their faith in the political arena.
If this is something you want to support, please consider donating to our work.We can’t stop others from burning Bibles, but together, we must not give up the fight to ensure the Gospel and the right to practice our faith remains part of our nation. Thank you.
President and Executive Director
Our nation is reeling right now. We’ve seen videos that are heartbreaking. We’ve been beset by incidents that remind us that our nation’s racial wounds are still in need of healing. There’s rioting in the streets, and there’s a massive social media backlash against anyone who goes against the more radical protest element.
Drew Brees, QB for the New Orleans Saints, was called a racist for saying he believed kneeling during the National Anthem was disrespectful. Countless articles were written attacking the Fourth of July. President Trump’s pro-America speech in front of Mt. Rushmore was labeled as racist by the left-wing media. There’s now even talk of tearing down statues of American heroes like George Washington – a major shift from the original debate over Confederate statues. It’s difficult to see these fringe reactions by leftists and resist the temptation to run from the cause overall.
Unfortunately, the intense cycle of action and reaction has left many Christians struggling for the right message in these troubling days. EVERY Christian should find racism revolting and seek to be part of the solution. Yet, many are also rightfully concerned by the rhetoric and actions of those most prominently talking about race and our country. In looking at the situation, here are 13 ways we encourage parents and churches to address these current cultural issues with their kids and congregations.
- Do Talk About Race – God’s people should never retreat from the cultural issues of the day simply because they’re difficult. Talk about the evil of racism, address issues past and present in a candid and biblical manner, and remember the value of every human being – all made in the image of God.
- Yes, Use this Moment to Talk About Abortion – The history of abortion is rooted in racism and has devastated the black community. In talking about the value of every human being, you cannot fully address the subject without addressing the greatest civil rights issue of our time as well as the greatest crisis facing the black community, the evil of abortion.
- Don’t Speak to Your Kids/Congregation as Though They’re Racist – No, we aren’t “all just a little bit racist.” Every sermon I’ve ever heard on racial reconciliation speaks to the audience as though we’re all struggling with the sin of racism. Every Christian needs to hear a call to action, and we need to hear the truth. Yet, approaching the issue as though the audience is inherently racist misses the mark and feeds a false narrative.
- Don’t Associate with the “Black Lives Matter Movement” – One of the most devastating outcomes of the racial tension plaguing our nation is the fact that the true and innocuous phrase “black lives matter” has become politicized and associated with Black Lives Matter – an organization with radical objectives, including the destruction of the family. Moreover, the violence and rhetoric encouraged by this and other organizations should be universally condemned. In expressing “black lives matter,” do not allow your engagement to be co-opted by Black Lives Matter or any other political movement that is not rooted in accuracy and in the Gospel. Research any group that you’d associate with.
- Do Lead with Personal Empathy – Everyone has different personal experiences on this issue, and, as Christians, we should engage all those experiences with validity and care. Leading with empathy should be a foremost attribute for every Christian interacting with someone who is hurting. Do not dismiss your brothers and sisters who may have felt or experienced racism that you have not seen. Moreover, do not allow any potential disagreements with the whole of a protest message to either dissuade you from engagement or result in the development of negative sentiments to communities protesting.
- Don’t Accept the Premise of Current American Society as one of White Supremacy – America has a past that includes some real evil, and it’s an evil that has consequences in our present reality. However, accepting the premise of our current American society as one of “White Supremacy” is inaccurate, feeds divide, and undermines efforts to identify and truly root out real racism. While it is fair to point out inherent generational advantages for those whose forefathers were never enslaved nor experienced systematic racism, it dishonors the heroic civil rights efforts when some declare our modern day America as one defined by “White Supremacy.”
- Do Acknowledge there is Current Racism – While I would argue both that most in our society are not racist and that the system is not inherently racist, it is irrefutable that there are racists among our citizenry, there are racist elements in the “system,” and there are those in power who have abused that power against minorities. Even for those of us who do not see the problem as pervasive as others may be articulating, Christians should not be racism-deniers and should be active in rooting out every racist, every act of racism, and every law or system that fails to treat all races as equal.
- Don’t Associate Protecting Christendom with Protecting All Statues/Names – I often see Christians among the most ardent defenders of every statue and every name. There’s nothing biblical about ensuring that every statue remains erect and every name remains intact. Is it fair to be cautious about removing statues or a massive effort to rename any namesake of someone with questionable actions or beliefs? Yes. Yet, is it fair to critically remove some statues or rename some schools, buildings or installations that may be genuinely offensive? I believe so. As we strive for empathy, don’t allow this divisive issue to become one where you harm your witness to those who are genuinely distressed. Wherever you are on the statue removal spectrum, approach the issue with empathy and seek to understand those who disagree with you.
- Do Speak of How Heroes can be Sinners yet Celebrated – David committed adultery and murder, Abraham “loaned” out his wife, Judah solicited his daughter-in-law, and we could go on with countless heroes of the faith and those who were blessed to be in the line of Christ who committed heinous acts. Christians should address those acts when talking about those biblical figures, and we can still celebrate the people and how they were used. Similarly, we have a similar educational opportunity to address Founding Fathers like George Washington who made history better yet was a participant in a great human atrocity. None, including “great” men and women, are without sin, and it is God-glorifying to celebrate how He used them – in spite of their flaws – to accomplish His purposes. There’s validity – both in encouraging sinners who still seek God’s glory and in reminding all that none are flawless – in remembering and even celebrating those who are primarily remembered for accomplishment yet leave a legacy that contains stain.
- Do Talk About America as an Imperfect Nation (And the Role of Christians in Making it More Perfect) – Too often, we are satisfied to say “we live in the greatest nation in the world” and let that be the end of the statement. Yet, we were far from perfect at our founding – when leaders compromised on the issue of slavery in order to forge a nation. We’ve had wickedness present in varying degrees throughout our history, and, even today, we allow 9 unelected judges to allow genocide and the redefining of biology. We are an imperfect and fundamentally flawed country, yet, throughout our history, faith has been a catalyst for change. And, it should be. Address the imperfections of our country and how God calls us to be a light in our land. Any time there has been change for the better, faith has been at the heart of it. May the Lord deem to use us in such a way again!
- Do Encourage Patriotism – Traditionally, the Fourth of July has been a unifying holiday, yet, this weekend, the Left looked upon its celebration with hostility. While acknowledging our imperfections, it’s good for Christians to be proud of the ideas that form the foundation of our nation, be grateful to live in the most free nation in the history of the world, and celebrate its preservation – a preservation made possible by tremendous sacrifice.
- Don’t Encourage Expressions of Patriotism on Equal Footing as One’s Faith – Christians are certainly guilty of the mistake of elevating their identity as an “American” to an equal footing as their identity as a “Christian.” As a believer, your identity cannot be compartmentalized – it is solely defined by your relationship with Christ. There are elements of our government that fundamentally conflict with our faith and even more that do not fully reflect it. We should never work to change our faith (though we certainly work to reform its practice), but we should work to change our nation to more closely reflect the faith.
- Do Teach that Christianity was not, is not, and never will be Dependent on the United States of America – Where in the Bible does it say that there shall be a United States of America and it shall be constituted of 50 states? While the Bible speaks of submitting to authorities, where do we glean that we should allow 9 unelected judges to dictate whether the killing of the innocent is an acceptable practice or not? Christians should be willing to seek major transformation – as they did in the Revolution – in order to eradicate evil. While I know this runs counter to many our nature as “conservatives,” preserving the strength and peace within the United States of America should never take precedence over biblical truth and justice.
These are difficult topics, and I see so much online – coming from both sides of the political spectrum – that I disagree with. Hopefully, these 13 ways to address the cultural issues we’re seeing today are helpful as you speak to and within your church and/or to your kids. If it helped you, please feel free to share and pass on.
Praying for our nation, for healing, and for Christians to be a great catalyst in positive change – pointing others to the Gospel.
President and Executive Director
One hundred days ago the world was a very different place. There was little fear of this new “coronavirus”, there were no people marching in the streets, no buildings being burned and looted, no statues being torn down, no police departments being defunded, and the founding principles of our nation were not under attack. Our country looked very different.
In these past 100 days, all these aforementioned events have become reality. In fact, many are still ongoing and where we will eventually end up is in question. However, even at this point, there are a few noteworthy observations.
- COVID-19 has harmed our country in many ways. Whether or not you are a believer in the significance of this virus, it’s hard to deny that the virus and the associated responses have harmed our economy, our faith in the scientific community, and our sense of unity we cherish as Americans. Some of these consequences may fade over time, but the scars they leave behind will remain and shape our lives.
- Racism is still an issue that must be addressed. Racism is not gone from America, no matter if it is based on something like skin color or ethnicity. As Christians, we know that our God created all mankind in His image and with worth and dignity. We need to affirm and actively work towards this creation mandate with words and deeds, at both the personal and societal levels. Yes, we can celebrate the progress we have made as a nation, but we cannot simply pay lip service to the injustice of racism.
- Radical groups will use any opportunity to divide us and break us down. We have all seen this in the past 100 days. It has been truly sad to see one leader after another not only capitulate to anarchy and lawlessness, but often encourage it. These actions represent the antithesis of what we stand for in this country, and I am deeply saddened and ashamed by our response to them.
- There is something seriously wrong with some of the media in this country. It has become quite clear that some of the mainstream media seem to believe it is their duty to interpret events by drawing conclusions consistent with their own views, and then spoon feed them to the public. This is not only insulting but lacks any principle upon which to listen or respect them. Oh, for the days of Walter Cronkite and real news.
- Patriotism is alive and well with Americans. Most of us still cherish our nation and the principles upon which it was founded. Despite everything in recent days, we will still defend and fight for our rights and values as embodied in key documents such as the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. We readily acknowledge our faults and remaining issues, but we are not ashamed to be Americans.
- We must elect ethical politicians who value biblical principles. Political posers have multiplied like rabbits in recent months. Their “follow the wind” ethics and artificial adherence to particular causes are obvious and childish. We need to elect politicians who will serve in the best interest of our country and preserve and defend our freedoms, not play games.
- Our faith values are under attack. From targeted closing of churches in some states, to the agenda of clearly atheistic and fascist groups trying to scare Americans into submission, our faith represents a threat to many. Biblical principles scare these leaders and groups into aggressive actions, and we must continue to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” to stem this tide.
- God is still in control. Even though we have weathered much these past 100 days, it is clear that God is still sovereign. We can’t always see His plan, but Scripture assures us, “For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16–17)
Here is the most important thing to remember when hope seems far away, and the future looks bleak. Faith is the bedrock of who we are as a nation and we must never let anyone take that away from us. It represents our personal and collective identity as Americans, and it is through prayer and a firm footing on that faith bedrock that our country will persevere. It is the unmovable, unshakable part of our existence; the touchstone for all of life’s events and hope for the future.
President and Executive Director
Just like you, I am heartbroken for our country. In so many ways, the image of St. John’s Church burning in Washington, DC – a historic church visited by every president since James Madison – is symbolic of the raging inferno threatening to burn the very foundations of our nation and civil society.
So what can we do? We need to pray to the Father of mercies who providentially “rules over the nations” (Psalm 22:8). Here are four items of prayer:
- Pray that our nation turns back to God. “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17, NKJV).
Heavenly Father, so many of us, including many of our representatives in government, have abandoned your ways. We confess that our nation has turned its back on you, sometimes even attempting to banish you and your truth from the public square, schools, courthouses, and legislative halls. We have condoned that which your law-word prohibits, and we have condemned that which you call “good.” Please forgive us and our nation. Send revival and repentance that our people may joyfully walk with you and glorify your name.
- Pray for peace. “And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace” (Jeremiah 29:7, NKJV).
Heavenly Father, we pray for peace in our land. We know our peace and flourishing, and the peace and flourishing of our neighbors, is tied to the peace of our city, state, and nation. May we all find unity as individuals made equal and created in your image. May those who have been saved by your grace walk in the unity we have through Christ. And may the hearts of every American beat with love for their nation and for their countrymen.
- Pray for justice. “Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy” (Psalm 82:3, NKJV).
Heavenly Father, we ask that our hearts not be hardened to injustice. You have called us to “rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Make us advocates of your justice according to your law-word, knowing that your kingdom, which is spreading through the world, will bring the peace and justice we yearn for in our hearts. May your kingdom come, and may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
- Pray for our civil leaders and law enforcement. “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:1-2, NKJV).
Heavenly Father, we pray for our civil leaders and law enforcement officials as they deal with civil unrest and threats to life and property. Please give them wisdom and prudence. We know that you have delegated them certain and limited powers to promote justice and the common good. Help them to be your ministers of justice for our good (Romans 13:4).
Standing with you and your family during these trying times,
College students are shouting down conservative speakers, breaking windows and smashing cars. NFL players are taking a knee during the national anthem, wanting their protest to be seen every week on national television.
Whatever you may think of these highly publicized protests, it says something about America, and it also says something about your freedom to speak up and bring about change – whether as an individual, a business owner or a church.
Paul Weber, president and CEO of Family Policy Alliance; Tom Minnery, our president emeritus; and other members of our team made this video to encourage you to exercise your right to free speech, to engage the debate and to unleash your citizenship.
Some NFL players are protesting by kneeling during the national anthem. In his Stoplight commentary, Stuart Shepard sets aside the controversy for a moment and considers the important principles underlying that right to protest, and considers what they mean for Christians.