Why Religious Freedom Matters: Barr v. Beto


Notre Dame, Indiana—It may turn out to be the philosophical equivalent of “the shot heard around the world.”  That is just how powerful and just how good the speech given by U.S. Attorney General William Barr was at the University of Notre Dame’s School of Law.  His topic: religious liberty in America.  Ironically, this spectacular speech was given less than twenty-four hours after lefty candidates spewed bigoted anti-religious threats at the CNN LGBTQ Town Hall in Los Angeles.  The two events could not have been more different.  Barr waxed eloquently about of the fundamental importance of religious freedom and its enduring importance.  In contrast, the candidates at the CNN event almost gleefully boasted, as if trying to outdo each other, about how they would disrupt and dismantle religion, piece by piece.  Barr’s winsome words were not a direct critique of the earlier CNN spectacle, but they were a fitting rebuke, nonetheless. 

William Barr spoke of the consensus about the “centrality of religious liberty” starting with the founding era, in part because of the belief that religion was indispensable for sustaining a free government.  He noted that these statesmen affirmed the Christian belief that because men, as fallen creatures, have the capacity for great evil, government should be limited. Therefore, in their experiment, they determined to put America’s future in the hands of its people.

But “[s]elf-government,” he explained, refers primarily to the capacity of each person to “restrain and govern themselves.”  William Barr noted that the ability to restrain ourselves, comes ultimately from a “transcendent Supreme Being.”  He quoted John Adams to make his point, “We have no government armed with the power which is capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.  Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”  Religion, Barr argued, provides the restraint necessary for liberty to exist by giving us rules to live by in the form of a transcendent moral order of natural law, the violation of which leads to negative consequences.

Next he turned to acknowledge that religion has been under increasing attack in America during the past 50 years.  He documented the steady erosion of the Judeo-Christian moral system by a concerted effort to drive it from the public square, with a concurrent rise of secular humanism and moral relativism.  The result?  Ballooning illegitimacy, family breakdown, growing depression and mental illness, increasing violence and a deadly drug epidemic.  According to Barr, the diminution of the moral order has brought “immense suffering, wreckage, and misery.”  Appearing to perhaps poke the CNN Town Hall participants, Barr said “Among these militant secularists are many so-called progressives.  But where is the progress?”  He decried the fact that, in spite of all of the claims of modern advancement, “no secular creed has emerged capable of performing the role of religion.”  As I have pointed out before, the problem with many liberals is not just their stubborn utopianism, but their persistent moral blindness of confusing change with progress.  As Barr point out, all change is not progress.

In the past, we have been able to count on cultural pendulum swings.  But this time, Barr is concerned that we cannot count on self-correction.  Why?  Because of “the force, fervor and comprehensiveness of the assault on religion.”  Because the left controls the cultural places of power (entertainment, academia, etc.) and is actively marshalling them to persistently assault religion and traditional values and silence opposing voices. “One of the ironies, as some have observed, is that the secular project has itself become a religion, pursued with religious fervor.  It is taking on all the trappings of a religion, including inquisitions and excommunication.”

The Attorney General next pointed out that the state has become the alleviator of all consequences of our sin and moral failings, rather than addressing the underlying causes.  Got sexual irresponsibility?  Get an abortion.  Drug addiction?  Visit a safe needle site.  Family breakdown?  The state becomes your parent.  Rather than solving problems, Barr points out, “we are underwriting them” and as a result we are becoming less free dependents of the state.

Specifically, Barr decried the way that governments are using the law “aggressively to force religious people to subscribe to practices and policies that are antithetical to their faith….irreligion and secular values are being forced on people of faith.”  Examples Barr cited include the Obama Administration’s decision to force Catholic orders to fund contraceptive and abortifacient coverage (Little Sisters of the Poor).  He also acknowledged how “California has sought to require pro-life pregnancy centers to provide notices of abortion rights,” referring to NIFLA v. Becerra, a case successfully resolved at the U.S. Supreme Court, where I served as co-counsel.

He acknowledged his boss has done a better job than the prior administration, [b]ecause this administration firmly supports accommodation of religion.” Barr noted that “the battleground has shifted to the states.”  According to Barr, “Ground zero for these attacks on religion are the public schools.”  Pause here for a second.  The Attorney General of the United States believes that “the most serious challenge to religious liberty” is how secularists are undermining the passing on and teaching of our faith to our children by adopting comprehensive sexuality education curricula that are “incompatible with traditional religious principles….often without an opt out for religious families.”  Barr listed several states, including California with our infamous “California Healthy Youth Act.”  He called this state violation of parental rights a “monstrous invasion of religious liberty.”  We here at the National Center for Law & Policy are in complete agreement, which is why we have dedicated increasing resources over the past three years to this civilization-threatening issue.

After mentioning other threats like Montana’s refusal to provide private school funds to religious schools (Blaine Amendments) and Indiana’s attempt to force Catholic schools to hire same-sex married teachers, Barr stressed the need of religious believers to remain personally faithful in this increasingly insane culture and the need to “place greater emphasis on the moral education of our children.”  Can I get an Amen?  “We cannot have a moral renaissance unless we succeed in passing the next generation our faith and values in full vigor.”  As Barr was speaking at a law school, he urged faithful lawyers that they “must be vigilant to resist efforts by the forces of secularization to drive religious viewpoints from the public square and to impinge upon the free exercise of our faith.”

In stark contrast to Barr’s careful attention to history and civil rights, within 24 hours we were treated to the progressive/socialist democratic contenders at the CNN LGBTQ con-fab.  There, first prize for most anti-religious bigoted statement of the evening goes to former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke.  CNN’s Don Lemon asked him, “Do you think religious institutions like colleges, churches, charities, should they lose their tax exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage?”  O’Rourke quickly replied, “Yes. There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone or any institution, any organization in America that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us. So as President, we’re going to make that a priority and we’re going to stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans.”  Beto’s unequivocal statement unmasks the leftist’s hostility and hatred towards religion and should send a chill down the spine of every religious person in America.  To Barr’s point, Beto’s coercive power play is nothing short of a bare-knuckled attempt to strike fear in the already timid faithful and drive religion from the public square.  The power to tax is the power to destroy.  Clearly, the destruction of religion is on the progressive menu.

Piling on to his sustained assault on religious freedom, Beto O’Rourke said that conversion therapy “should be illegal” because it is “tantamount to torture.”  He said, “As president, we will seek to outlaw it everywhere in this country.” Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar agreed, stating that so-called conversion therapy should be illegal because it “makes no sense at all.”  Klobuchar also said she would recognize a third gender marker option on a federal level.

Having worked with the former gay and former LGBTQ community for decades I can attest that Beto and Klobuchar are wrong here.  In fact, what the left demonizes as “conversion therapy” is really non-coercive talk therapy, more aptly called “change allowing therapy,” which has actually helped thousands of people facing unwanted involving sexual orientation and gender identity struggles successfully address and overcome their problems in a redemptive way.  As this therapy is often practiced by the faithful, freedom of speech, conscience and religion must be protected here.  The bottom line is that people seeking help for unwanted sexual orientation and gender identity struggles must be free to hear about and experience the transformative power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I agree with U.S. Attorney General William Barr that religious freedom is a fundamental right, given to us by our Creator, which we dare not squander.  We must rediscover the importance of religious freedom and fight the good fight of faith and freedom so that our children and grandchildren may continue to experience the blessings of liberty.  William Barr has given us the gift of remembering what is truly important, one for which I am profoundly grateful.


Is Franklin Graham Right About America?


I was still rubbing sleep from my eyes, preparing to groggily reach for my morning coffee, when a story jumped off my smart phone screen, catching my eye.  The Fox News editorial headline read, “It’s Open Season on Christians in America.” The piece by Todd Starnes hailed Billy Graham’s Johnny-Cash-loving, once rebellious son as a prophetic “voice crying in the wilderness.”  Personally, I have had a soft spot in my heart for the Graham family since, as a young boy, my father proudly told me the story of how he, as a young pastor, was part of the leadership team hosting the Billy Graham Crusade in Los Angeles in 1958.  “So what is the ever-biblically-bold Franklin saying now?” I pondered.  The weighty words I read next hit me right between the eyes!

“I believe we are perilously close to the moral tipping point for the survival of the United States of America.  I refuse to be silent and watch the future of our children and grandchildren be offered up on pagan altars of personal pleasure and immorality,” Graham wrote in Decision magazine.  Upon absorbing these two sentences, Franklin and Starnes had my full attention!  Franklin Graham was addressing, head-on, the fundamental issues that I have been thinking about, writing about, and fighting about for my entire career as a constitutional attorney.  In fact, the book proposal I am submitting to my literary agent this month is precisely about how American Christianity is rapidly succumbing to powerful pagan cultural myths.

So, what evidence does Graham cite for his dark diagnosis?

  • The U.S. Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage, in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
  • Radical Islamic terrorists on our shores increasingly in our midst slaughtering innocents, in an age of truth-denying political correctness.
  • The deep-seated antagonism and hostility towards Christianity in every seat of power in this nation—government, media, courts and education.

Many other Christian leaders have bemoaned these and other very serious problems we now face.  But what is the solution?  In this season of nearly wall-to-wall political coverage, is it politics?  Graham says no.  “The only hope for America is not the Democratic Party and it’s not the Republican Party.  The only hope for America is God.”  And Graham has put his money where his mouth is by launching a Decision America Tour that includes a series of prayer rallies at capitol building in all 50 states.  “It’s trying to lead this nation in prayer, confessing the sins of our country, asking for God’s forgiveness and encouraging Christians to get engaged in the political process,” he told Starnes.

Graham explained to Starnes that he is addressing issues many pastors, especially younger ones, do not.  “The younger pastors—so many are caught up in the pop culture, and the pastor in a church is more about being cool,” he said.  “We’re beginning to put theology in the back seat and I’m concerned about the church.  To be honest with you, the problems we have in America today are the failure of the church,” Graham said.  This, by the way, is another issue I tackle in my book. Graham went onto explain that as government has grown bigger the church’s historical role in feeding and clothing the poor and health care has diminished.  His point:  It’s time for Christians to get off our bottoms and reengage the culture.

Indeed, our salvation is not in politics, it is in the Lord!  Although I am a confessed political junkie, over the past decade I have increasingly realized the limits of politics to bring about meaningful enduring change.  If America is to be changed, if America is to be transformed to the depth necessary to see lasting progress, our hearts and minds must be renewed.  Only God can do that! That is why I have been hoping for, praying for, and looking for revival.  Not a passing fad, but a profound reformational shift on par with the First or Second Great Awakenings.

So what can you do, what can I do?  What are some take away action points?

  • Pray for America: that the Gospel will be clearly preached, that we will respond by confessing our sins, repenting, and that, by God’s favor and grace, we will see revival (some would say reformation) in our lifetime. This starts with the church (See II Chronicles 7:14).
  • Pray for the church: that pastors and Christian leaders will become biblically bold and courageous, reject powerful pagan cultural forces, preach the full counsel of God, and lead the flock biblically.
  • Engage the culture: develop a comprehensive biblical worldview and apologia, be willing to suffer and be persecuted, live out your faith publicly without fear, speak the truth in love (See Ephesians 4:15), share the Gospel, and vote for leaders who will not subvert religious liberty. Be salt and light (See Matthew 5: 13-16).

Yes, Franklin Graham is right about America. Will you join us in prayer and godly action today?  I believe with all of my heart that this is the only way we will see meaningful hope and change.

Federal lawsuit filed in San Diego to stop California pregnancy care center “Bully” law AB 775 that coerces conscience violating speech.



CONTACT NCLP MEDIA RELATIONS: (760) 747- 4529, x103

SAN DIEGO, CA—Today a federal lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court challenging California Assembly Bill 775, the Reproductive FACT Act (“Act’). The Act forces California’s pregnancy care centers (“PCC’s”) to express government sanctioned speech that conflicts with and undermines PCC’s life-affirming beliefs and messages.

AB 775 passed the legislature on September 3, 2015 and was signed into law by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. on October 9, 2015. Plaintiffs are the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), the Pregnancy Care Clinic located in El Cajon, and the Fallbrook Pregnancy Resource Center. Named defendants include California Governor Edmund D. Brown, Jr., Attorney General Kamala Harris, co-sponsor of the legislation, San Diego County Counsel Thomas Montgomery, and El Cajon City Attorney Morgan Foley in their official capacities.

The lawsuit seeks injunctive and declaratory relief against the Act because it compels plaintiffs’ speech in violation of the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause, is impermissibly vague under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, violates the Free Exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment, and transgresses the Coats-Snow Amendment, 42 U.S.C. § 238n, a federal statute protecting licensed health care entities from being required to refer for abortion or make arrangements for such referrals.

The PCC’s are represented by The National Center for Law & Policy’s (NCLP) Dean Broyles and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys Matt Bowman, David J. Hacker, Kevin Theriot, and Elissa Graves. Anne O’Connor of National Institute of Family Life and Life Advocates (NIFLA) completes the legal team representing the plaintiffs.

Sponsored by NARAL and supported by Planned Parenthood, the Act unfairly targets California’s life affirming PCC’s with coerced speech designed to steer women away from PCC’s and towards abortion providers. The Act forces medical PCC’s to refer women elsewhere for free or low cost abortions. Non-medical PCC’s must, in very large, bold, conspicuous print, both at the clinic and in all advertising, notify women that they are not medically licensed. Violation of the law would lead to financially burdensome fines.

“Pregnancy care centers provide valuable resources and services to women facing unplanned pregnancies, giving them meaningful life-affirming alternatives to abortion, like adoption,” declared Dean Broyles. “I am honored to be a part of the legal team challenging this egregious and unjust law that violates the freedom of conscience, religious freedom, and the freedom of speech. If not stopped, the Act will lead to more unnecessary death and dismemberment of children.”

“Planned Parenthood and NARAL are cheerleaders for abortion,” continued Broyles. “The transparent goal of AB 775 is to increase the number of infant deaths in California by, now with the force of law, diverting women away from PCC’s to Planned Parenthood facilities and other abortuaries where death is aggressively promoted, babies are killed, dismembered, and their body parts sold for profit. This gruesome inhumanity and callousness has been on full display recently as Planned Parenthood doctors and others have been caught on tape operating grotesque baby chop shops, casually discussing trafficking in children’s body parts while crunching on salad and sipping Chardonnay, reducing human flesh to a highly profitable commodity.”

“Planned Parenthood and their allies have a clear conflict of interest as they stand to significantly profit from the Act,” added Broyles. “Laws similar to AB 775, coercing commercial speech, have already been successfully challenged and defeated in New York, Texas, and Maryland. Our legal team will work very hard to ensure that AB 775 experiences the same fate here in California.”

Please address media inquiries to The National Center for Law & Policy. The National Center for Law & Policy is a non-profit 501(c)(3) legal defense organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of religious freedom, the affirmation of life, parental rights, and other civil liberties. Please visit our website at www.nclplaw.org.

For further comment, please contact The National Center for Law & Policy at 760-747-4529 x103 or dbroyles@nclplaw.org.

The Tyranny of the Libido


The sex drive is a powerful natural force.  Reasonably directed in proper context, it is a tremendous gift and blessing.  Unrestrained, it can inflict great damage.  In recent decades we have learned just how terrifyingly destructive the “liberated” libido can be.

At the advent of America, and for the centuries that followed, our collective libidos were largely restrained by religious convictions and common cultural mores.  The general social consensus, influenced by religion and history, was that sex was best experienced and enjoyed in the committed union of one man and one woman. There were some exceptions to this rule, but it was largely understood and accepted that breaking the rules did not serve the common good and would have negative consequences—both personally and culturally.

The sexual revolution beginning in the 1960’s was truly revolutionary.  It initiated a process of radical transformation of our views concerning our sex drives.  Sex became uncoupled from transcendent purposes serving the common good, including fidelity, marriage, and child rearing.  It began to be viewed primarily as a means of self-stimulation, self-fulfillment, and self-actualization. This movement can perhaps be best summarized by the mantra, “If it feels good, do it!”

In the decades since, the American libido has become progressively unchained from prior boundaries and increasingly exalted as an American demi-god, to be idolized, worshipped, and obeyed—at all costs.  We have even given unrestrained lust the cool-sounding name of “sexual liberty.”  In 1992, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy paid homage to this American idol in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, where the majority cowardly reaffirmed Roe v. Wade. Kennedy wrote, “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

God is dead!  Long live the libido!  Consequently, unrestrained sexual expression has been ceded a central and prominent place in our popular culture and, increasingly, even in our laws.

Yet the dark consequences of our “liberation” and bondage to self-worship are truly staggering.  They are starkly displayed in the growth of pornography, sex addiction, sex outside of marriage, unintended pregnancies, abortion on demand, the macabre sale of baby body parts, no-fault divorce, the diminution of marriage and family, the decriminalization of sodomy, the inappropriate association of  the LGBT movement with the black civil rights narrative (i.e. discrimination), and finally, now, same-sex “marriage.” These developments have been culturally destructive and have also profoundly and negatively impacted the biblical fidelity of the body of Christ.

And, as the tyrant libido has ascended its lecherous throne, rather strangely, truth, represented by objective biology and transcendent normative ethics, is now diminished, targeted as public enemy number one of this sexual new world order. Propaganda has replaced truth and common sense.  We can have sex with whomever we wish whenever we wish.  We can now “be” whatever gender we “feel” that we are (See Bruce Jenner).   We can marry whomever we wish.  Truth has been turned on its head.  What was good is now evil; what was once evil is now good.

The result is that the individual’s libido must now be given first priority, preference, and prominence at all costs.  Sex is indeed a cruel master.  Any notion that the libido is a benevolent dictator is undermined by its intolerantly harsh treatment of religious dissenters.  In fact, this state of moral anarchy has resulted in growing legal anarchy.  This nonsense has now been enshrined in “law” as the U.S. Supreme Court has created a new constitutional right to same-sex “marriage” and as state after state hauls more conscientious objecting Christian bakers, photographers and florists into court informing them that their religious liberty means nothing and can be easily balanced away on the scales of injustice.  If you are not on board with the increasingly radical sexual revolution, you are tarred as a bigot, worthy of being run out of business.

Thus, we have tragically confused libertinism with true liberty. The revolution many foolishly believed would set us free has actually harassed and enslaved us.  And our cruel tyrant now bitterly oppresses us and mocks us in our chains.  Again we are reminded that natural law is baked into God’s universe.  History reminds us that no great empire has survived the tyranny of the libido.  You can believe with all of your heart that you can break the rules, defy gravity and fly; but gravity rules and will kick your butt every time.  The same is true of moral laws.  Virtue results in a thriving culture and promotes the common good.  Immorality leads to darker places.

Someday, hopefully very soon, we will wake up from the hazy stupor and slumber of our collective 60’s hangover and realize that our purported sexual liberation has actually resulted in our enslavement.  It promised freedom but has delivered pain, death, destruction and bondage.  But until then, if we are painfully honest with ourselves, we must admit that we have sacrificed what is good and true—life, religious liberty, and the pursuit of authentic happiness—on the pagan altar of unchecked sexual liberty.  The tyranny of the libido is crushing everything in its path and is destroying our God-given freedoms.  I mourn the loss, do you?

To our great shame, we have sold our birthright for a bowl of sex.  Our founders would be stunned that our God-given inalienable First Amendment rights are being so casually traded in favor of our unrestrained deified fleshly appetites.  They sacrificed and fought for many things, but one thing they were clearly not fighting for is the intolerant tyranny of unrestrained lust.  May we repent with tears and may God save the United States of America!

Dying for a Lamborghini


What would you do if you were offered the one thing you really wanted, but you had to do something truly terrible to get it?  What would you be willing to trade for your dream?  Your humanity?  Someone else’s humanity?  Let’s say that you had to hurt someone you love to finally achieve your big dream home.  Or perhaps you had to hasten the death of a relative to inherit a million dollars?  How far would you go?  What would you be willing to sacrifice to fulfill your selfish fantasies?  Would you kill for a really cool car?

Such Faustian bargains are unfortunately not just the fodder of fairy tales.  They are all too contemporary in our complex, modern, increasingly value-free, jaded, materialistic American culture.  We don’t want to admit it, but sometimes we are tempted to sacrifice our principles for profit, trading our virtue for worthless idols.

Truth is stranger, or perhaps darker, than fiction.  Enter reality, ripped from the headlines.  A Planned Parenthood employee, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, was caught on tape casually discussing how to avoid crushing aborted baby body parts containing vital organs, while crunching on salad and sipping Cabernet. Exposed, Planned Parenthood’s media team started distorting reality at speeds faster than the salad spinner that dried her fancy lettuce.  They claimed it wasn’t really all that bad, because the commodification of dead babies was for medical research and because they weren’t really “selling” the body parts, but only charging for transport costs, a modest fee of, say, $30 to $100.  What a bargain!  Why the explanation? Because the optics where truly horrible and because they were probably breaking the law.  According to the 42 U.S. Code, Section 289-G2, “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration if the transfer affects interstate commerce.”

And then, as it so often does, the other shoe dropped.  Be sure your sin will find you out!  Another video of yet another Planned Parenthood employee, Dr. Mary Gatter, surfaced revealing the callous deception of their duplicitous media messages.  You see, while bragging about a “less crunchy method” to preserve baby vital organs during abortions, Dr. Gatter drove a very hard bargain, not wanting to reveal her asking price for human baby flesh so as to weaken her negotiating position.  The truly dark conversation ends with Gatter confirming that she probably wants more than $100 per intact specimen. Why, because, as she explains, “I want a Lamborghini!”

Here’s a truly gruesome summary of what we learned, or perhaps have been reminded of, this week.  First, approximately 55 million of our fellow citizens have been “legally” exterminated (in perhaps history’s largest genocide) since 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade unlawfully discovered and created a specious new “constitutional right” to kill babies (similarly as they did with same-sex “marriage” last month).  Second, Planned Parenthood is an active proponent and purveyor of baby killing.  Third, Planned Parenthood is significantly funded by you and me—our taxpayer dollars at work (They gross well over $1 billion annually—half of that from taxpayers.)! Fourth, they are altering abortion procedures to ensure lucrative baby body parts remain intact, also a violation of the law.  Fifth, Planned Parenthood has commodified dead baby body parts and is unlawfully profiting from their sale.  And finally, Dr. Mary Gatter wants to be so successful in this satanic scheme, that perhaps she will be able to afford a Lamborghini, starting price, $241,000.

As my friend attorney Casey Mattox recently noted, these videos have perhaps once and for all exposed Planned Parenthood as “an uncaring abortionist with a terrible bedside manner looking to squeeze out the last few dollars in profit from the unborn child it is killing.”  Are you not outraged?  If this sadistic status quo doesn’t grieve you deeply as a fellow human being, I simply ask, why not?  Perhaps this is because those holding culture’s megaphones have so successfully desensitized us by their pervasive propaganda as to what is truly evil, that we have lost the ability to be subjectively (and appropriately) shocked by darkness, sin, evil, or murder—even when confronted by truly such objectively awful things.  Have we become so morally numb that we have lost the human capacity for compassion, empathy, love, and concern for innocent victims?

This week’s macabre video montage reveals that the abortion industry is morally bankrupt and, like the proverbial emperor, has “no clothes.”  Planned Parenthood has been exposed as what it has always been, not a magnanimous champion of the rights of women, but rather a maleficent eugenically-motivated killing machine misappropriating taxpayer dollars as a part of its gruesome legacy of death and destruction.  We will be judged for how we have treated the least of these.  America, we can do better!  We must do better.

American genocide


No human right is more basic than the freedom to live. With all of the violence, destruction, and death in our world, the womb ought to be the safest of places—a sanctuary. But, not satisfied with external violence, as we have done with many good things, taking matters into our own destructive hands, we have re-purposed and distorted the womb into a torture chamber, a killing field, a sanctuary of death.

We express appropriate moral outrage at Stalin’s slaughters, Hitler’s holocaust, ISIS’s religious cleansings, and other deadly atrocities, yet barely notice the more than 56 million missing Americans, untimely ripped from their mother’s wombs. We say that we value life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but ignore the weakest and most vulnerable among us, denied the most basic of rights—their first breath of freedom. These hard truths do not synch well with our ideals of American exceptionalism.

As Mother Teresa said, “Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use violence to get what they want.” True, a proper love for God and our fellow humans would never have allowed this senseless slaughter of the innocents. We have accepted abortion. We have accepted violence. We have accepted death. We have narcissistically worshipped ourselves, our unrestrained materialism and successes, rather than God. Why? Because children are far too often viewed not as a beautiful God-imaged precious gift from our creator, but rather an inconvenient truth, standing in the way of our empty American dreams. We have been weighed in the moral balance and have been found wanting.

How did this happen? We have “killed” God and, with Him, truth, morality and justice have died. If God is dead everything is indeed permissible and is now being permitted. Employing a macabre Darwinian “survival of the fittest” approach, we have coldly dispatched our own offspring as an inconvenient truth, easily erased and forgotten.

More ancient stories reveal that each human has profound eternal significance. We are intentionally created in God’s image, designed to be in relationship with Him. This old story teaches us that every unique person matters, having great value to our father—that our highest and best purpose is to love the Creator and to love other humans. Observation reveals that, like our ancient parents, we have fallen far short of our purpose, have turned away from truth, and have acted in contradiction to it. Abortion and our tolerance of death are surely symptoms of this deeper problem: unrestrained rebellion and sin.

The once bright light of our shining city on a hill is being covered with a shroud of darkness and death. My prayer for America, as we acknowledge 42 years of legalized genocide resulting in 56 million deaths, is that we would turn away from ourselves and our sin and back to God, back to truth, back to justice. That is the hope for America and the hope of finally bringing to a full stop the savage slaughter of the innocents among us.