They Weren't Prepared for This
Where does raising a white flag in the battle over your core values lead? Ask the Boy Scouts of America. After throwing up their hands on 103 years of conviction, the group may finally be learning that standing on principle isn’t easy — but it’s a whole lot better than the alternative.
The fight to live out your beliefs can be an exhausting one. Until 2000, the Scouts had spent years in court just for the freedom to stick to its moral code. They won, but — to the organization’s dismay — the battle didn’t end. Waves of LGBT activists kept coming, and the pressure built until 2013, when BSA leaders gave into the lie that compromise would be their salvation. Five years later, we all can see: there’s almost nothing left to save.
A half-decade into its LGBT experiment, the Boy Scouts are a step away from bankruptcy. Turns out, their defining moment may also be a fatal one. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the group has been bleeding members since it broke camp and allowed in kids and leaders who openly identify as gay and transgender. Not long after that, one of its biggest backers, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, announced the withdrawal of tens of thousands of young LDS from the program. Then, the paper points out, there was the fallout from recruiting girls, which not only angered its base — but pitted the organization in a legal war with Girl Scouts USA. Now, a program that used to be one of America’s finest is considering Chapter 11.
Friends, if you’re wondering where the road of compromise leads, this is it. This is the future of anyone in the Christian community who exchanges the truth for cowardly conformism. The Boy Scouts dropped their moral mandate to accommodate what they don’t believe. In the current climate, that’s called “inclusion.” But if the Scouts were being more inclusive, why didn’t their numbers grow? Because, when you try to appeal to a conflicting moral viewpoint you only end up attracting the conflict!
Right now, too many churches, Christian colleges, and leaders are dangerously close to making the same mistake. They’re so desperate or fearful — or both — that they’re willing to water down who they are to protect the small space they’re standing on. There’s just one problem: the gospel’s truth isn’t up for negotiation. And in their rush to soften the blow of its confrontation, some believers are losing their identity.
Christians in Paul’s time were no different. Like humans throughout history, they craved acceptance. “I am astonished,” Paul wrote to the Galatians, “that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — which is really no gospel at all. Evidently, some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ… Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings or of God? …If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
The Boy Scouts wandered so far away from their identity that by the end of 2016, they even dropped their most defining characteristic: boys. In the end, it ruined them. That’s the destiny of any Christian who takes the naïve view that world can be placated. It can’t. True love, I Corinthians 13:6 tells us, is truth. It’s being salt and light in a draining, unforgiving culture. “Come out from them and be separate,” Paul said, because he understands that in the end, it’s not our sameness with the world that transforms people. It’s our distinction. And one of the greatest is standing for truth — even when we’re standing alone.
Originally published here.
Tools of the Trade Deal
The Chinese government desperately wants to strike a trade deal with America — but how much are they willing to do to get it? A new agreement could be worth billions, but for people in both countries, the economy is only one side of the story.
While most of the world is looking at the negotiations in dollars and cents, at least a few leaders — Ambassador Sam Brownback included — have a different priority: ending the crackdown on millions of faithful across China. A new era of religious persecution has arrived, and men and women of every faith are in the crosshairs. For Christians, a favorite target of the communist regime, a new panic is spreading. Underground churches that have been in existence for years are being sealed shut. Pastors are disappearing in the middle of the night, while homes and sanctuaries are ransacked.
And the worse, human rights advocate Nina Shea points out, may be yet to come. Christians’ “police records will now be used in China’s new Orwellian social credit score system to deny them access to government trains, planes, schools, pensions and other benefits.” The government’s “repression against the churches,” she writes with Bob Fu, “is being done in the name of President Xi Jinping’s ‘sinicization’ campaign, ostensibly to strengthen Chinese culture. However, it increasingly appears aimed at removing the Bible and its teachings from Chinese Christianity.”
Earlier this week, 100 Christians from Early Rain Covenant Church were rounded up and imprisoned. Some, Nina writes, are reporting that they were raped and abused by police. And the nightmare is only growing.
“Minors are now banned from entering any church. Online sales of Bibles are blocked. The Catholic Catechism is censored. Churches report that their crosses and other Christian symbols are being torn down and sometimes replaced with pictures of none other than President Xi himself. Since February, thousands of churches have been forced shut. It’s particularly chilling that many of the 10,000 Protestant churches closed in one province were actually government-approved ones.”
Pastor Wang Yi, speaking on behalf of the persecuted across China, wrote a powerful letter that he asked his followers to release if he were ever detained for more than two days. This week, he was. “As a pastor, my disobedience is one part of the gospel commission. Christ’s Great Commission requires of us great disobedience. The goal of disobedience is not to change the world but to testify about another world… I hope God uses me, by means of first losing my personal freedom, to tell those who have deprived me of my personal freedom that there is an authority higher than their authority, and that there is a freedom that they cannot restrain, a freedom that fills the church of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ.”
And Christians aren’t the only victims. Satellite images are coming back to the West with new proof of World War II-type camps. “On 12 July 2015,” the BBC reports, “a satellite swung over the rolling deserts and oasis cities of China’s vast far west. One of the images it captured that day just shows a patch of empty, untouched, ashen-grey sand. It seems an unlikely place to start an investigation into one of the most pressing human rights concerns of our age. But less than three years later, on 22 April 2018, a satellite photo of that same piece of desert showed something new. A massive, highly secure compound had materialized. It is enclosed with a 2km-long exterior wall punctuated by 16 guard towers.” Now, there are more than 1,200 of them.
Now, more than any other time, America is a unique position to speak into this crisis of human freedom and dignity — both from an opportunity standpoint and a leadership standpoint. President Trump and his entire administration have been tireless advocates for religious liberty from the moment they entered the White House. May they use this leverage to bring about greater freedom for the people of China and around the world.
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.