Almost uniformly, the 2020 challengers for the presidency support abortion rights in the broadest terms, nearly unfettered sexual freedom and gender politics, and liberalized views on such things as recreational marijuana, even as opioids ravage communities. Will America rediscover its Judeo-Christian foundation, or continue headlong into cultural collapse?
On Feb. 25, 44 U.S. senators bowed down in religious-like devotion to the big abortion lobby. A sizable segment of the nation rightly recoiled.
Up for debate was the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would have given prosecutorial teeth to a 2002 law that recognized the personhood of a baby born alive in an abortion procedure. That day, senators had an opportunity to seize a moment of human decency by requiring medical workers to give life-saving care to babies born alive during
The bill, opposed by Planned Parenthood and other abortion interests, needed 60 votes to advance. It received 53, with three Democrats crossing the aisle to support it.
Six senators with eyes on the presidency in 2020 were present that day. All six—Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar—voted it down.
That same month, on the heels of several states passing the most egregious late-term abortion bills ever, the percentage of Americans calling themselves pro-life shot up. According to a Marist poll conducted on behalf of the Catholic Knights of Columbus, the percentage of Democrats self-identifying as “pro-life” increased 14 percent in one month. Similar changes were observed in pro-choice voters under the age of 45 who began identifying as pro-life, according to the polling data. A survey released a week earlier by Americans United for Life showed similar numbers.
Increasingly, the crowded field of 2020 challengers—and the powerful lobbies that fund them—seem to be pushing past the values of mainstream Democrat voters in ways unimaginable even a decade or two ago.
These who seek to lead this nation seem intent on doing the very thing God warns against in Isaiah 5:20—“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness” (ESV).
Same-sex marriage, for example, has gone from a fringe idea (remember that President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996) to a step too far (President Obama claimed he opposed gay marriage in his first term) to what has become a progressive standard that no public liberal would dare question, not to mention many floral shop owners or wedding photographers. As presidential challengers line up, most if not all support the major policy goals advanced by the LGBTQ activists, even to the point of prosecuting religiously motivated business owners whose values collide with the demands of the sexual revolution.
Another looming threat to religious liberty—the so-called Equality Act—is cosponsored by the three U.S. House members vying for the White House, Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Tim Ryan, D-Ohio and Eric Swalwell, D-California.
The bill would make sexual orientation and gender identity protected categories and would attempt to override any state conscience protections for people of faith.
Add to this what seems to be the brazen expansion of abortion rights, an aggressive marijuana legalization movement, support for morally fraught bioethical research, and even talk of legalizing the sex trade under the guise of sex workers organizing as a labor bloc or destigmatizing a transaction between so-called consenting adults.
“So many of these proposals aren’t just overly extreme,” says Doreen Denny, senior director of government relations for Concerned Women for America (CWA) who served under President George H.W. Bush, “they’re completely irresponsible. And what’s troubling is there seems to be no accountability in the mainstream media for challenging the extremism of these ideas or their impact to our country. If you just go down the list, it’s really remarkable how far the candidates for president at the present time are pushing the envelope. … These are not ideas for human flourishing. These are proposals to increase human suffering, and I think anyone who’s not seeing that right now is not paying attention and needs to wake up.”
Yet the radical tilt among progressives in Washington, in the entertainment business, in big technology companies and in academia, didn’t appear out of nowhere. It’s been building for decades, Denny notes.
“When something becomes so extreme and it’s exposed so clearly, as with these issues among the presidential contenders, maybe this is the time that will lead to change. We need to embrace that opportunity. As Christians, we cannot afford to separate from the public square.”
Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary and former head of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, says the left tends to live in an echo chamber, pushing them further out of touch with many voters.
“When you look at what is happening in our national life, you have one of the two major parties that is in the thrall of radical progressivism,” Land says. “But they only listen to their supporters. … For instance, they don’t get that only 13 percent of Americans agree with abortion of partially delivered babies or full-term babies. That even people who consider themselves pro-choice—the majority of people who consider themselves pro-choice—do not support legal abortion of viable third-trimester babies.”
Going to Pot?
But it’s not only abortion and gay marriage that the progressive left is using as wedge issues; an upsurge in the percentage of Americans who favor marijuana legalization is at an all-time high: 66 percent.
According to Gallup, only about 12 percent supported legalized marijuana in 1969, and support stayed relatively low until 2000. Since then, a steady increase has occurred, and progressives are eager to make a final push for legalization.
John Stonestreet and David Carlson write at BreakPoint.org: “The legalization wave says a lot about the worldview of our culture—one in which the state wishes to aid and abet the inability of people to deny themselves any pleasure. That’s called state-sponsored hedonism.”
In the same article, Stonestreet and Carlson note the increasing science showing that pot is much more damaging than previously thought, not the harmless high it is often characterized as. For example, an American Journal of Psychiatry study showed those who smoke pot are more likely to eventually use opioids. Stonestreet and Carlson also note that the potency of today’s marijuana is significantly stronger than 30 or 40 years ago. THC levels were around 5 percent in the 1970s and ’80s, but today’s dispensaries sell marijuana that averages about 25 percent THC potency.
Sen. Cory Booker, a candidate for the Democratic nomination, has introduced legislation that would legalize marijuana on the federal level even as more states legalize recreational use. Among the co-sponsors are fellow senators and presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders.
The Fallacy of Sexual ‘Freedom’
Another social woe in the fallout of the sexual revolution has been the proliferation of online pornography and the commercial sex trade that it helps fuel. Many Christian ministries have joined the battle against sex trafficking, domestically and abroad. For years feminists have rightly decried the objectification of women in pop culture. The #MeToo movement continues to reverberate.
Yet there is a movement to remove the stigma of the sex trade through legal means. Rolling Stone magazine even devoted an article to the subject: “Sex Work Decriminalization Is Becoming an Issue For 2020.”
At least one of the presidential candidates believes the legalization of the sex trade might be a good thing.
In an interview with the online publication The Root, Harris, who as San Francisco district attorney and later California attorney general prosecuted sex traffickers and has supported legislation aimed at protecting those trafficked, argued that no one who exploits others for profit should be free of criminal prosecution, “but when you’re talking about consenting adults, then, yes, we should really consider that we can’t criminalize consensual behavior, because no one’s being harmed.”
CWA’s Denny says one of the problems with Harris’ reasoning is that legalizing prostitution means legitimizing it as a line of work, which is damaging to women (and men) on many levels.
“Is this the kind of idea that we want to promote in our culture—that selling your body is somehow consistent with human dignity? Any kind of legalization would only mainstream and normalize further exploitation.”
And rarely is the arrangement between two consenting adults, Denny notes. “They’re desperate women looking for a means of getting by, being promised something, and they’re held hostage and in bondage by that. What’s not to see clearly here about the damage that this does to our culture?”
Elections Have Consequences
“Our message to America,” Denny says, “is that elections have consequences for life, and if you do not engage, you are literally abdicating our future to what we see coming down the road from an extreme left-wing agenda. We can’t be apathetic.”
Land believes the next presidential election could set the course for which cultural orthodoxy America eventually follows: Either the “reassertion of Judeo-Christian orthodoxy” as the norm for public values, or “full-blown neo-pagan orthodoxy,” which will be far less tolerant of Christians than Christians have been of competing views.
If the latter occurs, Land warns that withdrawing from society is not a Biblical option because it doesn’t square with Jesus’ command to be salt and light.
And, Land adds, “these pagans will be far more bloodthirsty and intolerant than were the Visigoths who sacked Rome in the Middle Ages. They won’t leave us alone in our monastery. They’ll come after us even there and seek to take our children, because they’ll claim we’re making our children mentally ill by teaching them traditional Judeo-Christian morality.”
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