By / Sep 26

I have been involved for several years now with an organization that seeks to reduce the political polarization that seems to be growing in our society. The group is called Braver Angels. It specializes in hosting conversations between people on opposite sides of the political spectrum. One of the notable things I’ve observed is that prior to these conversations, the participants tend to have an extremely low opinion of the people with whom they disagree. They assume they are probably bad people. They can’t imagine they would ever be friends with them. After they spend several hours together with a moderator who works to keep the conversation constructive, things seem to change. They don’t come to a place of agreement. That’s not the goal of Braver Angels. But they do seem to gain a new appreciation for their conversation partners as people. And that is the goal. Genuine conversation, as opposed to the series of battles we constantly stage on television and on social media, helps to rebuild connections.  

Unfortunately, the rest of the world is very different from a Braver Angels workshop. We have a long way to go to cultivate civic virtue in which we view each other as friends and countrymen with political differences instead of as opposing armies occupying the same land. Instead, we have become comfortable dismissing entire groups of people. Worse, rather than merely dismissing them, we are building them up into demonic figures. The truth is that human beings are those made in God’s image who are afflicted with sin, rather than demons. The appropriate spirit to take toward them is one of sympathy and patience rather than war. 

This phenomenon of demonization has unfortunately reached virtually every part of the American political community and into many churches. Whether it is Q-Anon conspiracies, the dismissal of “soy-boys” and “snowflakes,” the blowtorch rhetoric of President Trump, or even something like President Biden’s prime-time jeremiad against “MAGA Republicans,” American political discourse has moved in the direction of villainization as a preferred mode.

Serving the Lord of the Beatitudes

But Christians serve the Lord of the Beatitudes. Within those passages in Matthew 5:2-12, we see the praise of meekness, mercy, and long-suffering in the face of trials. Further in the chapter, Jesus counsels reconciliation, turning the other cheek, and loving enemies. There is a worthwhile and longstanding debate on the degree to which these teachings apply to individuals over against our broader political lives. But it would be strange indeed if we were to believe there is no connection. Let us accept that Martin Luther was correct in seeing those commands directed toward individuals, the kind of person formed by obeying them will not be one who is quick to anger, who lacks empathy, who cultivates strife, and who inflicts damage with no regard for the need to make peace again in its aftermath.

One of the major deliverances of Christian teaching in the Bible has to do with the problem of sin. It is not something that can be conquered habit by habit such as by extinguishing drug use or overeating, though it is highly laudable to do so. The problem of sin is far greater than committing more good acts than bad acts or even eliminating bad acts. Sin is something that is universal in its application to human beings. Every person is afflicted by a sinful will that ultimately, without God’s help, cannot avoid seeking to remove every obstacle to the fulfillment of our desires. If we accept that the situation of the sinful creature is applicable to all of us (which is certainly the teaching of the Bible and the consistent message of the church), then it should be easy for us also to believe that humility is utterly essential. We must always be aware of the innate battle we are all fighting. We must be wary that at the moment when we most greatly revel in our own rectitude, we may be in tremendous danger of surrendering to sin.

When politics fails in its social role, war rears its head. However, we in the United States do not live in a society where politics and civil government no longer function. Our courts still operate. Our legislatures still meet. Governors and other executives carry on their work. There have been some tremendous tests, such as the COVID pandemic, the financial crisis of 2008, and terrorist attacks such as 9/11. It would be a lie to say that our response to any of the crises we have faced has been truly satisfying. Instead, we have seen sinful human beings struggling to manage the public interest, their self-interest, the constant influence of political opportunism, and our general failure to be omniscient even in a world of rapidly expanding information.  

To fail to acknowledge the problems of human sinfulness and limitation will be to amplify our growing sense of unease. What we must all do, from the highest technocrat, to the most powerful policymaker, to the corporate analyst, to the blue collar worker, to the church member, to the father or mother, is to be humble in our recognition of what we can really know and what we can really do. With greater humility will come greater room for love and understanding. The way to keep political violence at bay is to remember who we are and that the only king who will not disappoint (whether a person or a movement) is Jesus Christ, himself.

By / May 7

In this episode, Josh, Lindsay, and Brent discuss a big dip in U.S. fertility rates, Biden’s July 4th vaccination goal, COVID-19 in children, mask mandates on planes, Trump Facebook ban, Amy Bockerstette’s college title, and the Malian woman who gave birth to nine babies. Lindsay gives a rundown of this week’s ERLC content including Alex Ward with “Why reading classics can help us answer age-old questions: An interview with Karen Swallow Prior,” Jared Kennedy with “Conversations about gender should begin with humility: Helping parents navigate hard topics with their children,” and Rachel Lonas with “Why it’s important to value neurodiversity in the Church: And three ways you can help.” Also in this episode, the hosts are joined by Elizabeth Graham for a conversation about life and ministry. 

About Elizabeth

Elizabeth Graham serves as Vice President of Operations and Life Initiatives for the ERLC. She provides leadership, guidance and strategy for life and women’s initiatives and provides oversight to other strategic projects as needed. Additionally, she directs the leadership, management and operations for all ERLC events. Elizabeth is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is married to Richmond, and they have a son and a daughter. You can connect with her on Twitter: @elizabethgraham 

ERLC Content


  1. U.S. fertility dips to its lowest rate since the 1970s
  2. Biden sets goal of fully vaccinating 160 million Americans by July 4
  3. Children Now Account For 22% Of New U.S. COVID Cases. Why Is That?
  4. Pfizer vaccine expected to be approved for children ages 12-15 by next week
  5. TSA Extends Mask Mandate Aboard Flights Through Summer As Travel Increases
  6. Trump Facebook Ban Upheld by Oversight Board
  7. Amy Bockerstette to Be 1st Athlete With Down Syndrome to Compete for Collegiate Title
  8. Malian woman gives birth to nine babies


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  • Brave by Faith: In this realistic yet positive book, renowned Bible teacher Alistair Begg examines the first seven chapters of Daniel to show us how to live bravely, confidently, and obediently in an increasingly secular society. | Find out more about this book at
  • Every person has dignity and potential. But did you know that nearly 1 in 3 American adults has a criminal record? To learn more and sign up for the virtual Second Chance month visit
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

On Friday evening, Twitter officially suspended the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, from its platform for violating its stated community policies related to inciting violence and spreading false information. This suspension comes after the heinous attack on the United States Capitol on Wednesday, inspired by the president and his key supporters, following a rally on the National Mall. The protest, which culminated in both violence and rioting, was organized in response to the congressional certification of the results of the 2020 presidential election also taking place on Wednesday. 

According to the Associated Press, “Twitter has long given Trump and other world leaders broad exemptions from its rules against personal attacks, hate speech and other behaviors.” But since the election in November 2020, many of the president’s tweets were labeled for promoting conspiracy theories alleging election fraud and the stealing of votes as well as encouraging violence. Twitter utilized these warning and fact check labels to inform the public of the potential misinformation, while the content remained available online due to the compelling public interest of having direct access to communication from the president of the United States. 

But as the Capitol Police and National Guard were clearing the building after the insurrection was quelled, Twitter disabled the president’s account temporarily and deleted certain tweets deemed as encouraging further violence. The temporary suspension also came with a warning that continued violation of Twitter’s policies may lead to a permanent ban from the platform. The account was reenabled on Thursday, Jan. 7. But due to continued policy violations by the president, his account @RealDonaldTrump was permanently suspended on Friday night. 

Community policies and compelling interest

Many prominent technology critics including a number of lawmakers, press, and public figures have called for social media platforms to take a firmer stance with the president concerning his violations of their stated content policies for users. But until recently, Twitter and other social media platforms, such as Facebook, allowed the president to continue posting due to the compelling public interest surrounding his speech given the gravity and responsibilities of the Oval Office. Yet after continued violations of these policies, which this week stoked violence and an attempted coup, Twitter took the unprecedented step of permanently suspending the president’s personal account. It should be noted that this official suspension only applies to @RealDonaldTrump, and not to official White House accounts such as @POTUS, @WhiteHouse, and other U.S. government accounts. However, because Twitter does not allow users with banned accounts to operate alternate accounts, some tweets have already been removed from @POTUS after the president chose to post to that account following his suspension.

Many have questioned the wisdom and timing of this suspension, as well as the potential fallout of such a monumental decision to suspend the sitting president of the United States. Much of the concern lies in the fact that these social media platforms have become ubiquitous in our society. In our digital age, social media sites now represent a primary vehicle of communication. Twitter serves as a news platform for many users and is a significant conduit of real-time information, including news and reporting about the very events that led to this moment.

Each social media platform has its own set of community standards, policies, or rules to govern user activity. Twitter for example allows pornography on its platform, while Facebook and Instagram ban nudity. Other platforms, such as Parler, market themselves as free speech alternatives and have very loose or even nonexistent content moderation policies. The implementation of community policies and content moderation is actually encouraged by Section 230 of the 1996 Communication Decency Act, which was a bipartisan piece of legislation designed to promote the growth of the fledgling internet in the mid-1990s. Section 230 gives internet companies a liability shield for online user content—meaning users and not the platforms themselves are responsible for the content of posts—-in exchange for enacting “good faith” measures to remove objectionable content in order to make the internet a safer place for our society.

Free speech and content moderation

The First Amendment guarantees the freedom of speech for all people. But it only protects citizens from interference by the government. The First Amendment’s free speech protection does not apply to the actions of a third party such as a private social media company governing certain speech. A helpful way to think about these issues is to compare them to the many religious liberty cases litigated in recent years, including Baronelle Stutzman (a florist) and Jack Phillips (a baker) who were taken to court based upon their refusal to render speech or use their creative gifts in ways that violated their consciences. These cases involved the government taking action to override the civil liberties of these individuals, compelling them to violate their deeply held religious beliefs or face civil penalties.

In these cases, the ERLC argued that the government did not have a compelling interest to violate their First Amendment freedoms by forcing them to participate in same-sex wedding ceremonies. The key to these cases is the idea of a compelling interest, which also ties into the issues of content moderation with social media.

Content moderation online is an admittedly difficult and thorny ethical issue. And this is because of the ways that social media has become such a massive and integral part of our society, not to mention the hyper politicization of such issues. An internet or social media platform without any type of moderation or rules would quickly devolve into a dangerous environment filled with misinformation, and interminable unfiltered or illegal content. Even with such rules, it is undeniable that social media has been utilized in ways leading to real world harm

In the case of this particular suspension, a line was crossed when the president knowingly endangered members of the public as well as law enforcement and elected officials by inciting physical violence and destruction. In response, Twitter determined that the potential threat of further violence and physical harm overrides the compelling public interest by which they previously justified allowing the president’s account to remain active and his posted content to remain online even in violation of its policies. And though this was a significant action—the president’s speech is of great importance—it was not a violation of the Constitution’s guarantee of free speech.

Slippery slope?

As news of this monumental suspension broke, many rightfully questioned how this type of action by a social media giant could or would be used against views that are outside of the mainstream such as those by conservative Christians. This is an understandable concern based on the unequal and often controversial application of content moderation by the platforms. Undoubtedly, action of this kind opens the door for further censorship. But even so, Twitter’s actions must be seen in light of the full picture. Throughout his term, the company had extended significant latitude to the president despite the regular posting of false, misleading, and potentially threatening and dangerous information. But after the grievous display of brutality and loss of life at the United States Capitol—where five people died including one Capitol Hill police officer—public interest gave way to grave public safety concerns.

Still, among the most alarming elements of this suspension is not the suspension itself, but the inconsistency of Twitter’s policy enforcement across the board. While the company is well within its rights to enforce suspensions due to policy violations, Twitter has also allowed posts from accounts representing authoritarian leaders around the world, such as from Chinese and Iranian governments, that clearly violate the same policies used to ban the president’s account. These oppressive and authoritarian regimes promoted by these accounts incite and perpetrate devastating violence and human rights abuses beyond anything we’ve witnessed firsthand in the United States. 

In China, over one million Uighur Muslims have been detained, persecuted, and even sterilized in “reeducation camps.” But social media platforms like Twitter often turned a blind eye to these atrocities. Deceptive tweets from Chinese officials often do not even carry a label of danger, or even misinformation, yet nearly every tweet by President Trump has been marked by such since the election in November. (It is worth noting that Twitter did act to remove certain content from foreign leaders following the announcement about its permanent ban of the President.)

However reasonable or necessary Twitter’s decision in this particular instance might be, its inconsistency in content moderation is harmful to our social fabric, which is sustained by ideals like trust and equality. It is impossible to gain public trust by overlooking such egregious violations, even if the company has the right to enforce its rules as it sees fit. 

Moral courage and responsibility require the equal application and enforcement of stated policies. Taking difficult but necessary action is only meaningful if such actions are carried out consistently. If administrators at Twitter felt compelled to curtail the President’s speech in the name of public safety, it is only right that they follow suit by banning the accounts of other known offenders, including officials within the Chinese Communist Party—the single greatest human rights abusers on the planet.

Christians are wise to be vigilant about matters related to censorship. But it is important to recognize that the difference between censoring speech that is disagreeable and limiting speech that threatens or elicits physical harm. Going forward, careful attention should be paid to the actions of social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook regarding content moderation and censorship, but in itself, Twitter’s decision to ban the President’s account should not be seen as an existential threat to free speech in our democracy.

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


  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

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  • 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 / Oct 9

In this episode, Josh, Lindsay, and Brent discuss the president and first lady contracting COVID-19, other white house staff contracting COVID-19, airborne transmission of COVID-19, the first vice presidential debate, tropical storm Delta, the Lottie Moon Christmas offering, and the return of Tasmanian Devils. Lindsay also gives a rundown of this week’s ERLC content including a piece by Russell Moore with “What is the basis for Christian ethics?,” Josh Wester with “A closer look at the judicial philosophy of Amy Coney Barrett,” Amanda Hays with “4 conversations I’m having with my child about ‘Mulan’,” and Jeff Pickering and Travis Wussow with “Rolland Slade on how pastors can build partnerships with public officials.” Also in this episode, the hosts are joined by Dana McCain for a conversation about life and ministry. 

About Dana

Dana Hall McCain is a lifelong Alabamian and a graduate of Auburn University. She is a Resident Fellow with the Alabama Policy Institute where she writes editorial content for a host of media outlets dealing with faith, politics and cultural issues of the day. Her work regularly appears on multiple platforms including, Yellowhammer News, The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times and Mobile Press-Register. Dana and her husband Greg “Scooter” McCain are members of First Baptist Church of Dothan, Alabama. She has served the church in the past as Women’s Ministry director and a Bible study leader. The McCains are parents to two teenagers. You can connect with him on Twitter: @dhmccain

ERLC Content


  1. POTUS and FLOTUS tested positive for COVID-19.
  2. Trump returns to White House, although doctors say he ‘may not entirely be out of the woods’
  3. 34 members of WH staff have COVID-19
  4. Senior Pentagon leadership quarantining after exposure to coronavirus
  5. CDC Acknowledges Coronavirus Can Spread Via Airborne Transmission
  6. 2020 vice presidential debate
  7. Trump says he won’t do next presidential debate after it goes virtual, Biden still wants town hall
  8. Tropical Storm Delta breaks record as it moves toward Gulf Coast, could become hurricane
  9. Lottie Moon Christmas Offering total exceeds goal at $159.5M
  10. After 3,000 years, Tasmanian devils are returning to Australian mainland


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  • Caring Well Hiring Guide – Download your free copy now and strengthen your efforts to make your church safe for survivors and safe from abuse.
  • Courage and Civility Church Kit – Pastors and church leaders download your free copy today to help guide your congregations through this polarized moment.