By / Jan 6

One of my favorite spots in the entire world is in Washington, D.C. Specifically, it is inside the Capitol rotunda around sunset. It’s not uncommon for a series of votes to occur in either the U.S. House or Senate at that time of the day. When I worked there, I would often accompany my boss over to the chamber and discuss the legislative business of the day. Once he arrived at the area known as the speaker’s lounge, I would occasionally peel off and stroll through the rest of the historic building for some down time after a hectic day. 

With the building closed to tourists and guests in the evening, it was usually just me and a few members of the U.S. Capitol Police who were present amidst the iconic paintings and statues. I was thankful I could enjoy these brief moments of tranquility in safety because of those officers –– which was no small blessing in the midst of the post-9/11 tension in which I worked. I could not help but truly appreciate the brave individuals who were assigned to protect us from various terror threats day in and day out.

Reflecting on that time nearly 20 years ago in the Capitol, it feels ages removed from our current context. Pandemic restrictions are largely still in effect, and, based on conversations I’ve had with current legislative staff, the culture on the Hill has dramatically changed. And most of us recall the tragedy of last year, when the Capitol itself was subjected to a violent, insurrectionist attack because a mob –– stirred up by dangerous rhetoric that had no basis in reality –– stormed the building. Lives were lost, people were injured, others were traumatized, and the seat of our national government was left in tatters. The same police force that offered me protection has now suffered significant losses over the last 12 months.

Ordinarily, the one-year mark of such a grievous event would be an occasion for bells to toll or a national moment of silence. But, sadly, that won’t happen in any meaningful way across the country because, like everything else in our society, Jan. 6 has become politically polarizing. And the reality is that we are all exhausted by the outsized role American political discourse occupies in our lives. Still, that’s no excuse to turn away or minimize this moment.

Engaging Jan. 6 as a Christian

Unlike so much else in our current political environment that is fabricated, the attack of Jan. 6, 2021, was real. In the rush to define that riotous afternoon in political terms, which makes it easier to push away, we often miss the real agony of it all. There was an actual human toll from the events of that day — multiple lives lost and a heavy trauma inflicted upon those in the building — that cannot be waived away or dismissed. Instead, Christians should engage this moment for several reasons. 

We ought to begin with thinking about the implications of the imago Dei. We should help those who are somehow sympathetic to the Capitol riot see the officials, staffers, and officers as fellow image-bearers who shouldn’t have been subjected to the terrorism of that moment –– regardless of how much anyone may disagree with them. Christians are unequivocally called to “abhor what is evil” (Rom. 12:9).

Secondly, we should think about honor. A plain reading of all that took place should lead any observer to the conclusion that Jan. 6 was dishonorable to our leaders, our government, and our nation. Christians, specifically, should look to what the Bible has to say about honor. In 1 Peter, we are told to “honor everyone” (2:17). There’s no qualification on that command. Couple that with the guidance Paul gives in Romans to give honor to those who serve as “governing authorities” (13:1-7), and it should begin to be clear that what occurred one year ago was anything but biblical. We should be unambiguous in saying so.

And a final reason we should engage this moment is because, as Christians, we uniquely understand fallen human nature. All of us are children of wrath (Eph. 2) apart from Christ, and we know that structure is needed to constrain the reality of indwelling sin. As Americans, we are privileged to live in a constitutional order, and Christians, especially, need to be the ones articulating why that is a good and necessary thing that should be protected from mob violence. In his recent book We the Fallen People, Robert Tracy McKenzie writes about this truth underlying James Madison’s vision for our republican government. 

The key, he concluded after much study, would be to devise a governmental framework that could compensate for the shortage of virtue among both people and their leaders. ‘It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary,’ Madison later conceded during the debate over the proposed Constitution. “But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government should be necessary.” 

Madison understood that in order for this fledgling nation to have a chance at flourishing, we needed a system that accounted for our sinful hearts. While the design he and our Founding Fathers fashioned is far from perfect, it has withstood a number of challenges since its creation.

So our engagement on these grounds should help illuminate a healthier way to not only think about this moment but also, more broadly, how to properly engage the political space for our fellow citizens. Our culture desperately needs to see examples of people who participate in political activity without finding their ultimate identity in it and who treat their “opponents” with the utmost dignity.

Learning from history

While we conduct ourselves as people steeped in the Word, we should also cultivate an appreciation for being students of history. I’ve found reading history has helped keep me grounded even as our culture has seemingly grown more chaotic (though, of course, that has been the trend since Genesis 3). The former prime minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill, was fond of saying, “The future is unknowable but the past should give us hope.” I find that is often the case. Reviewing how the generations that have gone before us have defined and handled treacherous moments provides me confidence that we may even gain valuable lessons from our own dark chapters like Jan. 6.

As an example, at just 28 years old, Abraham Lincoln gave a public address centered on the long-term viability of America’s political institutions. He believed that if our nation faced any “danger,” it would not come from some “transatlantic military giant” or from all the “armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined.” Instead, he stated, it would “spring up amongst us.” He would go on to condemn the violence of mobs. He warned that “this government cannot stand” if we become a society known for this type of recklessness and lawlessness. Later in life, as we all well know, he would go on to overcome the greatest challenge in American history.

Lincoln’s words, based on observations from his lifetime, seem fitted for our own. While we certainly have adversaries around the world, we aren’t likely to face a real threat from them anytime soon. Instead, we live in a hyper-partisan age, where overheated political rhetoric and outright misinformation is weaponized by political actors consumed with attaining power at any cost and amplified by the most irresponsible online voices. 

Just as in Lincoln’s day, these trials are of our own making. Because of that, it will require all Americans to overcome them. We won’t do so by ignoring our darkest moments or demonizing those who disagree with us. Instead, Christians should be the ones leading in a constructive way. Our charge is to “outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10). If we do that, perhaps we can calm the storms of the moment, disperse mobs intent on destruction, and prevent the horrors of Jan. 6 from ever occurring again.

By / Oct 13

The end of the year is always busy on Capitol Hill, as Congress wraps up their remaining legislative work. There’s a handful of “must-pass” pieces of legislation that are seen as critical for  the U.S. government to continue operating. Before the end of 2021, Congress must pass a budget to fund the government, pass the ​​National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and raise the debt ceiling again. Additionally, Congressional Democrats want to use reconciliation to pass President Biden’s “Build Back Better” policy agenda.

The ERLC is actively involved in monitoring these pieces of legislation and advocating for the inclusion of pro-life policies (such as the Hyde Amendment) and the removal of harmful sexual orientation and gender identity language. We regularly work with committee and leadership offices to advocate for pro-life provisions and other legislative measures that recognize God’s gracious love for every human life and protect our freedom to live according to our deeply held religious beliefs. 

As the Legislative Branch wraps up its work for the first session of the 117th Congress, here are some of the ERLC’s top priorities for the rest of the year.

Appropriations

The FY2022 House appropriations bill is troubling because it removes several longstanding pro-life riders from the budget. For the first time since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has not been included in the Labor-HHS appropriations bill. The Hyde Amendment prevents Medicaid from covering the cost of abortion. At the 2021 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, messengers unanimously approved a resolution condemning efforts to strip Hyde from any federal appropriations bill and called upon Congress to uphold all pro-life riders.

Additionally, the appropriations bills removed the Weldon Amendment for the first time since 2005. The amendment protects the rights of conscience for healthcare professionals and institutions by preventing HHS from denying funding to recipients that refuse to provide, pay for, or refer for abortion. The budget would also prohibit any president from reinstituting the Mexico City Policy, reestablished and expanded by President Donald Trump as the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy.

The ERLC sent congressional leadership a letter urging them to adhere to critical pro-life policy riders, including the Hyde Amendment, and we joined dozens of pro-life coalition partners in sending congressional leadership a similar letter. The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the appropriations bills. As the Senate works on the bills, we strongly urge Senate leadership to ensure that important pro-life and conscience-protecting riders are included. 

Opposing the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021

In September, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill titled the “Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021.” This legislation is one of the most pro-abortion bills to have ever passed the House. The bill removes all restrictions and limits on abortion and allows for abortion up to the point of birth. Additionally, this bill removes all pro-life protections at the federal and state levels and eliminates a state’s ability to legislate on abortion. This bill also fails to protect the consciences of American taxpayers and would force taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions. Longstanding pro-life protections such as the Hyde Amendment and the Weldon Amendment would be removed.

Despite the bill’s name, vulnerable women and families will only be put more at risk if the Women’s Health Protection Act were to ever become law. Additionally, abortion is not healthcare. If human dignity is given to each person when created in the womb, then abortion is not only an assault on the image of God but also causes irreparable harm on a vulnerable life. We believe abortion denies precious human lives both personhood and protection, and therefore cannot be considered as healthcare.

Senators Schumer, Murray, Blumenthal, and Durbin issued a joint statement, promising to bring the bill to the Senate floor “soon” for consideration. ​​

The ERLC is strongly opposed to this bill and any effort to legalize abortion. We urge the Senate not to pass this destructive piece of legislation. It would put thousands of vulnerable, preborn lives at risk and steamroll over the the consciences of millions of Americans who do not wish to pay for or be compelled to provide abortions.

Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act

The Southern Baptist Convention was the first denomination to pass a resolution specifically labeling what’s happening to the Uyghur people as a genocide. The ERLC advocated for the Trump administration to make an official determination that the People’s Republic of China is “committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, China, for targeting Uyghur Muslims and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups.” On the last day of the Trump administration, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a genocide determination, and the U.S. became the first country to adopt these terms to describe the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) unconscionable human rights abuses in its far northwest. The Biden administration has maintained that the genocide against the Uyghur people is “ongoing.” 

While the genocide determination was an important step in countering the CCP the U.S. House of Representatives should swiftly pass the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. The bill unanimously passed the Senate earlier this year. This bipartisan and bicameral piece of legislation prohibits goods made with forced labor in Xinjiang or by entities using Uyghur labor forcibly transferred from Xinjiang from entering the U.S. market. This legislation also instructs the U.S. government to impose sanctions against any foreign person who knowingly engages in the forced labor of Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang.

For further reading:

Adoptee Citizenship Act 

Prior to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, the administrative steps for an adoptive family were unnecessarily burdensome. In addition to the lengthy adoption process, families had to engage in a lengthy naturalization process for their children. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 streamlined the process, and granted automatic citizenship to all foreign-born children brought to the United States, who had at least one parent who was a U.S. Citizen. While the intercountry adoption process remains a lengthy one, taking anywhere from one to four years, adoptive families no longer have to worry about the lengthy naturalization process.

Unfortunately, the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 did not include adoptees who were 18 and older when the law took effect. This loophole left people legally adopted as children and raised in the United States without citizenship. The exclusion resulted in numerous difficulties for impacted adoptees. Because of a lack of citizenship, everyday activities for these individuals like obtaining a driver’s license, receiving financial aid at college, applying for jobs, working for the government, or traveling abroad are restricted.

The Adoptee Citizenship Act fixes this problem by making citizenship automatic for international adoptees who were legally adopted by U.S. citizens as children, regardless of their age when the Child Citizenship Act took effect. The Adoptee Citizenship Act has large bipartisan and bicameral support. The ERLC is engaged with a broad coalition invested in child welfare to urge members of Congress to swiftly pass this bill and secure permanent citizenship for the thousands of impacted adoptees. The bill’s passage would be an important step to ensuring that adoptees are treated the same way under the law as natural born citizen

For further reading:

In addition to our Congressional advocacy, the 2021-22 term of the U.S. Supreme Court is in full swing, and the ERLC has submitted a number of amicus briefs on cases that could have major implications on both religious liberty and life issues. The ERLC will always advocate for life, religious liberty and human flourishing before Congress, the courts, and in the public square. 

By / Jan 20

Jeff Pickering, Chelsea Patterson Sobolik, and Travis Wussow are back together for the start of a new year in D.C. The team reflects on the two historic Wednesdays at the U.S. Capitol and what it all means for our democracy, our public policy work, and for Christians in the public square. January 6th was a day of chaos. January 20th is a day that will see the inauguration of a new president amidst unprecedented security and pandemic precautions. Both are meaningful for the work of the ERLC.

Resources from the Conversation

By / Jan 15

In this episode, Josh, Brent, and Meagan discuss president Trump becoming the first president to be impeached twice, the increased national guard presence at the U.S. Capitol, COVID-19’s raging numbers, new thoughts on COVID-19 immunity length, US Space Command, Alabama winning the National Championship, and ‘Way Maker’ topping the charts in 2020. Meagan and Josh also gives a rundown of this week’s ERLC content including Carl Laferton with “3 ways smartphone usage can distort our perceptions: Habits, theology, and Christian discipleship,” Jason Thacker, and Josh Wester with “Understanding Twitter suspensions and the need for consistent policies,” and Russell Moore with “The Roman Road from Insurrection.” Also in this episode, the hosts are joined by Haley Byrd Wilt for a conversation about life and ministry. 

About Haley

Haley Byrd Wilt is an associate editor for The Dispatch. She previously reported on Congress for CNN and The Weekly Standard. Haley and her husband Evan live in Washington, D.C. You can connect with her on Twitter: @byrdinator

ERLC Content

Culture

  1. Trump becomes first president to be impeached twice
  2. Here are the Republicans who voted to impeach Trump
  3. Here’s what the U.S. Capitol looks like as impeachment is underway
  4. Axios: Next move is the Senate
  5. Multiple resignations in wake of Capitol riot
  6. Capitol Hill police chief resigns, said he requested back-up
  7. US Space Command Headquarters is coming to Huntsville
  8. Air passengers entering the United States will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test, according to the CDC
  9. Coronavirus Immunity May Last Years, Possibly Even Decades, Study Suggests
  10. Covid is raging
  11. Alabama wins national championship
  12. ‘Way Maker’ top 2020 worship song

Lunchroom

 Connect with us on Twitter

Sponsors

  • A Parent’s Guide to Teaching Your Children About Gender: by Jared Kennedy. This short book walks through six conversation topics designed to help you apply the truth and hope of the gospel to the complex issue of gender. 
  • Stand for Life: At the ERLC, we stand for life. Our work to save preborn babies and care for the vulnerable is vital to our work. Believing that abortion can end in our lifetime, will you join us as we STAND FOR LIFE?
By / Jan 12

We begin 2021 with a conversation between Jeff Pickering and Russell Moore about the attack on the U.S. Capitol, and not just that as a lone event but all that led up to it. The constant assault on the truth and reality of the 2020 presidential election, that Joe Biden won and Donald Trump lost, stirred up the worst of partisan passions and led to an unimaginable assault on our democracy and a historic tragedy on Wednesday, January 6.

The interview was hosted as an ERLC webinar on Friday, January 8, 2020.

Resources from the Conversation

By / Jan 9

The events that we witnessed at the Capitol this week are disturbing and almost unbelievable. And above all the things they reveal is that we are fallen human beings who are in need of a perfect, righteous, and holy Savior. When we don’t know what to do—and even when we do—the most important thing we can do is go to our God in prayer. Below is a prayer you can use personally, as a family, or in your church community.

Great God of the nations. Father, Son, and Spirit. We worship you. From the peak of Mt. Everest to the floor of the Indian ocean, you alone are worthy to be praised. We thank you for the privilege of being heard in prayer, which was purchased by the blood of your Son. 

And as we pray, we consider that majestic holiness that Isaiah peered upon. And as we do, we are quickly mindful, as he was, of our own sin. Oh Lord, how often we have fallen short of your glory. This past week, we have been greedy, prideful, and prejudiced—spending, speaking, and strolling past neighbors who were made in your image, thinking ourselves better than them. 

We are too often like the priest that walks by the wounded Samaritan. As our neighbors have been beaten, broken, and bemoaned, we have walked by with little regard for them and, at the same time, great regard for ourselves. Have mercy on us, oh God.

Forgive us for the ways in which we, the church of Jesus Christ, have contributed to the unrest that pervades our nation. Forgive us for our pettiness, our selfishness, and our gracelessness. Forgive us for the ways we have neglected your Word and prayer. Forgive us for using the church instead of serving the church. Forgive us for greater allegiances to party politics, patriotism, or preferences than to Christ, his Kingdom, his people, and his purposes in the world. 

In these days, we have had to learn, yet again Lord, that we ought not to hope in princes. We have learned to hope in you. 

As we do, Lord, we lament the present circumstances. We mourn the division that is rampant within our nation, our cities, and our churches. How much longer must we see people praising your name while at the same time blaspheming people made in your image? How much longer must we walk through the valleys of racism, murder, and pandemic fears? How much longer must we languish for our sons and daughters? How much longer until we are home, with you, in heaven? 

We wait, O blessed Lord. And as we wait, we pray that you would rend the heavens with blessings innumerable. In particular, we pray for a breaking forth of repentance among this land. People great and small. Black and white. Men and women. Boy and girl. Democrat and Republican. Baptist and Episcopalian. Bless our nation with a deluge of repentance so that we might walk in the newness of life—not alone, but together, as your people, in order that we might be the light you’ve called us to be—the light that so much of our nation is looking for now. 

Thank you, Father, for hearing us. It is only because of the sufficiency of the work and worth of your Son that we can not only be heard, but be loved and known by you. We love you Lord. May we learn to love you and one another more.

We ask, in Jesus’ magnificent name,

Amen.

By / Jan 8

In this episode, Josh, Brent, and Lindsay discuss the protests and attacks on the US Capitol as a result of the 2020 election results. Lindsay also gives a rundown of this week’s ERLC content including Jordan Wootten with “3 ways smartphone usage can distort our perceptions: Habits, theology, and christian discipleship,” Josh Wester and Jordan Wootten with “Why we need the tenderness of our Savior: An Interview with Dane Ortlund about Gentle and Lowly,” and Jason Thacker with “3 ethical issues in technology to watch for in 2021.”  Also in this episode, the hosts are joined by Seth Brown for a conversation about life and ministry. 

About Seth

Seth Brown serves as Executive Editor of the Biblical Recorder, a Baptist news outlet based in Cary, N.C. He lives in Wake Forest with his wife and three children. They are members of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh. You can connect with him on Twitter: @dsethbrown

ERLC Content

Culture

  1. Warnock wins Georgia runoff, CNN projects, as control of Senate comes down to Perdue-Ossoff race
  2. Pro-Trump protesters force US Capitol into lockdown as Congress meets to certify 2020 election results
  3. Protesters breach Senate chambers at U.S. Capitol
  4. Trump pledges “orderly transition” after Congress certifies Biden’s win
  5. Exodus begins for White House staff after pro-Trump siege on Capitol

 Connect with us on Twitter

Sponsors

  • A Parent’s Guide to Teaching Your Children About Gender: by Jared Kennedy. This short book walks through six conversation topics designed to help you apply the truth and hope of the gospel to the complex issue of gender. 
  • Stand for Life: At the ERLC, we stand for life. Our work to save preborn babies and care for the vulnerable is vital to our work. Believing that abortion can end in our lifetime, will you join us as we STAND FOR LIFE?