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Ashley Traficant

Legal Victory Confirms Need for Equal Campus Access Act

By | Legislately, Legislative Updates, News and Events | No Comments

Great news for First Amendment rights at public universities! InterVarsity at the University of Iowa won big at a federal district court, the same that heard the Business Leaders in Christ case. This decision reaffirms the need for Congress to enact the Equal Campus Access Act.

Congress should see this decision on its merits and pass the Equal Campus Access Act to bring the clarity and force of law to this issue. The Equal Campus Access Act is a bill that adds one sentence of language to law, ensuring students don’t lose their first amendment rights on public college campuses—specifically pertaining to faith-based clubs.

The decision by the court not only upholds InterVarsity’s ability to require leaders to adhere to its core Christian mission, but also goes a step further to find, for the first time, that university officials can be held personally liable. This is a change from the norm of the university paying damages if university officials are found to have knowingly acted unconstitutionally or unlawfully.

In this instance, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa found that specific officials at the University of Iowa should have known they were acting unlawfully in no longer recognizing InterVarsity as an official club on campus due to its leadership requirements.

Enacting the Equal Campus Access Act into law will alleviate any confusion public universities may have regarding the rights of religious clubs and faith-based organizations on campus. It would make clear that faith-based clubs cannot be discriminated against for following their sincerely held beliefs.

Congress must act. No longer should this be an issue left for the courts to untangle.  As this decision demonstrates, it should already be clear in the light of the Constitution.

In the Senate, the Equal Campus Access Act is S. 1168 and has 27 cosponsors. The identical bill is in the U.S. House as bill H.R 3243 and has four cosponsors.

CWALAC and our field leaders recently lobbied on this bill on our lobby day resulting in an additional four cosponsors on the Senate bill. Your voice makes the difference. Please make your views on this bill heard by using our action center to ask your senators and representative to cosponsor this bill, if they have not already done so.

 

 

CWA Represents Your Voice at the United Nations General Assembly 2019: Religious Freedom, the Value of Family and Life, and Women’s Empowerment

By | International, News and Events, United Nations, United Nations | No Comments

Last week the 74th meeting of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) met in New York City.  President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Pompeo and HHS Secretary Azar gave magnificent speeches, including on the issues of religious freedom, the value of family and life, the importance of nationalism, and economic empowerment.

CWA was at UNGA representing your voice through the media, at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, and with foreign delegations. Our CEO and President Penny Nance was honored to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, as part of a small group of evangelical leaders, to discuss religious freedom in Egypt as well as the important issue of women’s rights and wellbeing.

The group thanked President el-Sisi for his work in Egypt to improve religious tolerance and equality for Christians, such as building Nativity of the Christ Cathedral (the largest cathedral in the region, and it is next to a mosque of equal size to symbolize tolerance and equality), rebuilding Christian churches demolished by the Muslim Brotherhood, and reforming religion textbooks for schools to increase tolerance and understanding between Muslims and Christians, as well as remove any extremist sections.

In addition, Penny thanked him for highlighting the necessity of education and training for women and girls in Egypt, as well as reducing barriers to their wellbeing such as domestic violence and harmful cultural practices.

President el-Sisi’s speech in March for this year’s Egyptian Women’s Day outlined seven points of engagement his administration plans to take on behalf of women. He has committed to address issues including women’s access to the marketplace, education, the problem of illegal underage marriage, gender-based violence and harassment, and to improve divorce laws so they do not put women and children in an “inadequate” situation.

CWA is grateful for increased leadership roles in Egypt for women; however, as women struggle for equal justice and opportunities in Egypt, there is still more work to be done.  President el-Sisi appointed the first two female governors ever in Egypt, the second one being a Christian. Manal Awad Mikhail is the first Christian woman in Egypt ever to be governor. Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, appointed by Sisi in June 2018, has selected a historic number of eight women to his cabinet. There is also an effort to increase women’s position and rank in the judicial system with 16 female judges being promoted to higher level positions.

President el-Sisi has also strived to decrease female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C). While FGM/C has been illegal in Egypt for over 10 years, since 2008, it is still widely practiced. This is a stubborn cultural issue with over half of Egyptians, both men and women, in support of the practice. Egypt’s National Council of Women, religious leaders, Islamic scholars, and the government are working with President el-Sisi to delink FGM/C from religious practices saying it is religiously forbidden.

President el-Sisi made FGM/C a criminal act in 2016, going a step further than the 2008 law, prior to his coming to power, that made it illegal. His criminalizing FGM/C is a bold move on a sensitive issue with deep cultural roots.

The number of girls in Egypt undergoing FGM has declined some over the last 12-15 years, but the number who experience this harmful cultural practice is still shocking:

  1. The number decreased from 97% cut in 2005 to 92% in 2015 of ever-married women ages 15-49 (a woman qualifies as “ever-married” if she has been married at any time in her life, even if she currently is not married)
  2. There was more improvement in girls ages 0 to 17 , according to a secondary analysis (analysis of data already collected for a different purpose) of the data, with a drop from 69% in 2005 to 55% in 2015(14% decrease) of girls who go through or are likely to go through FGM/C before turning 18.

In his Egyptians Women’s Day speech, President el-Sisi acknowledged that underage marriage is an act of violence towards girls and hinders their education. The legal age of marriage in Egypt is 18; however, 22% of girls are married before 18, and 15% are married before the age of 16. Some of these are “temporary marriages” to visiting foreigners, mostly from the Gulf states. These temporary marriages are often a cover for prostitution.

CWA also thanked President el-Sisi for Egypt joining the U.S. and 19 other nations in a joint statement calling on the UN to stop using abortion-related terms in UN resolutions, negotiations, and other documents. Terms like “sexual reproductive health” (SRH) or “sexual reproductive rights” are ambiguous abortion-related terms which mask the promotion of legalized abortion.  Here is an excerpt from the joint statement read by Secretary Azar:

We believe that health of women, men, children and adolescents supports and improves the overall health of our families and communities, and that the family is the foundational institution of society and thus should be supported and strengthened…

We do not support references to ambiguous terms and expressions, such as sexual and reproductive health and rights in U.N. documents, because they can undermine the critical role of the family and promote practices, like abortion, in circumstances that do not enjoy international consensus and which can be misinterpreted by U.N. agencies.

Such terms do not adequately take into account the key role of the family in health and education, nor the sovereign right of nations to implement health policies according to their national context. There is no international right to an abortion and these terms should not be used to promote pro-abortion policies and measures.

CWA was glad to be your voice as Penny met with President el-Sisi of Egypt. She thanked him for his steps to increase opportunities and rights for women and girls, as well as religious freedom for Christians. We encouraged him to continue his progress on these issues and hope to be helpful in the future.

Groups Unite to Support the U.S. Commission on Unalienable Rights

By | International, Press Releases, Religious Liberty | No Comments

WASHINGTON, DC – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently announced the U.S. Commission on Unalienable Rights to ground U.S. foreign policy on human rights in America’s founding principles of individual dignity and freedom. A letter, signed by forty-six of the most influential human rights, women’s, and religious freedom organizations and leaders applauds Sec. Pompeo for his leadership in creating the Commission.

Concerned Women for America’s CEO and President, Penny Nance, and Vice President of International Affairs, Dr. Shea Garrison, had this to say:

“We applaud Secretary Pompeo for creating the U.S. Commission on Unalienable Rights. This is a significant moment in our history as we refocus U.S. foreign policy on the
principles of America’s founding—that all people are created with unalienable rights such as “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Many activists today promote their objectives as “human rights,” confusing government-given social and economic goals with God-given fundamental or unalienable rights. This
waters-down the essence of human rights, leading to less individual freedom, not more. Dilution of human rights takes the focus off of real victims of abuse and gives
authoritarian governments cover to promote economic or social benefits as fundamental human rights, all while oppressing religious liberty, censoring the press, or
imprisoning political dissidents.

But, when our fundamental or unalienable human rights are protected, we then have the freedom to advocate for our goals, ideologies, and political preferences.

We are grateful for Sec. Pompeo’s leadership in creating the U.S. Commission on Unalienable Rights. We believe the Commission can do more than secure unalienable rights and
remedy human rights abuse, it can reassert the right kind of American leadership in our world today.

The world is freer when America leads.”

###

House Condemns BDS, but Will Not Act on Bipartisan Sentiment to Advance Anti-Semitism Legislation

By | National Sovereignty, News and Events, Religious Liberty, Support for Israel | No Comments

This week the House expressed opposition to the anti-Semitic BDS Movement by passing H. Res. 246, “Opposing efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement targeting Israel.” The vote on the resolution was 398-17 with 5 voting present.

This is a good first step, but further action is needed in the House for there to be any meaningful impact. The next step is to pass H.R. 336, which contains the Combatting BDS Act of 2019 and passed out of the Senate as S. 1 by a vote of 77-23 reflecting significant bipartisan support.

A resolution, H. Res or S. Res, expresses a sense or sentiment of Congress. It is a way for Congress to take a position without passing actual law. There is no action resulting from a resolution. A bill, titled H.R. or S., is legislation that if passed, becomes law—it has teeth where a resolution does not.

It is helpful that the House is on record against the BDS movement, but we need the House to do more than say BDS is bad; they need to take a stand and do something about it.

And that something is passing H.R. 336, a bill that mirrors the Senate-passed S.1, which was the top priority of the Senate in the 116th Congress. This legislation affirms states have the ability to choose not to do business with entities that participate in the BDS Movement. It provides legitimacy for states to enact anti-BDS legislation and ensure tax dollars aren’t going to entities participating in a movement that contradicts the foreign policy interests of the United States. States make their own laws regarding BDS; this just equips them to do so.

Despite the statement of opposition to BDS, Speaker Pelosi has been unwilling to bring H.R. 336 to the House floor. Republicans are using a procedural tactic called a discharge petition to try and force a vote. The petition needs a majority of the House, 218 votes, to bring H.R. 336 to the floor for a vote. It is puzzling that with 348 members opposing BDS with H. Res. 246, only 196 have signed the petition to take action and combat BDS by passing H.R. 336.

We are calling on Congress to take the next step and translate the high level of bipartisan cooperation standing against the BDS Movement into action by supporting and passing H.R. 336.  Please urge your member to sign the discharge petition opposing anti-Semitism.  Thank them if they already have.  To see the list of members who have signed, click here.

Global Rise of Anti-Semitism

By | International, News and Events, Support for Israel, United Nations | No Comments

Europe is facing a resurgence of anti-Semitism less than 75 years after the Holocaust. Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry cites a 13 percent increase in anti-Semitic attacks worldwide in 2018, with the U.S., United Kingdom, France, and Germany having the highest number of occurrences.[1]

According to a CNN survey, forty-four percent of Europeans believe anti-Semitism is a growing problem in their countries with about 20 percent saying it is the result of the everyday behavior of Jewish people. This means they believe that in some way the Jews are responsible for the increase in anti-Semitism.[2] Furthermore, more than one-third of the Europeans polled had no or very little knowledge of the Holocaust, with 20% of ages 18 to 34 saying they’ve never even heard of it. Unfortunately, the same statistic is true of American millennials.

When history is forgotten, the sins of the past are repeated.

The UK, Anti-Semitism, and Labour

The United Kingdom experienced a record number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2018, the third calendar year in a row that the Community Safety Trust (CST), similar to the Anti-Defamation League, has reported a record-breaking year in anti-Semitic acts.[3]

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and the party itself have come under fire for inappropriate handling of anti-Semitism within the party and have been accused of participating, whether inadvertent or not, in anti-Semitism on and offline. The concern about Jeremy Corbyn is so significant that three rival Jewish British newspapers took unprecedented action in July of 2018 and published a joint editorial on the front page of their respective papers titled, “United We Stand”. This editorial declared, “The stain and shame of anti-Semitism has coursed through Her Majesty’s Opposition since Jeremy Corbyn became leader in 2015.”[4]

Much of their argument centered on the fact that the Labour Party, under Corbyn, has refused to fully accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism. Labour accepted the definition with very significant exceptions such as “accusing Jewish people of being more loyal to the state of Israel than their home country and requiring higher standards of behavior from Israel than other nations.”[5] Both exceptions are central to the definition of anti-Semitism. Excluding them is to undermine the very definition of anti-Semitism recognized internationally.

Nine Labour MPs (Members of Parliament) left the party in February due to Labour’s weak handling of anti-Semitism and partly due to its stance on Brexit. One of these MP’s, Luciana Berger, a British Jew, has received death threats and been the target of anti-Semitism online.[6]

Last September, while still a Labour MP, Berger needed a police escort to attend the Labour Party’s Annual conference. The Atlantic reports it was discovered six weeks later that Labour had known about a specific threat made against her by a fellow party member for six months and covered it up—keeping it from both Berger and the police. It was only revealed by a leak to the press.[7] Five months later when Berger announced her exit from the Labour Party in February 2019 at a press conference, she stated, “I cannot remain in a party that I today have come to the sickening conclusion is institutionally anti-Semitic.”[8]

France and Violent Anti-Semitism

Just across the English Channel, France is also seeing a rise in anti-Semitism, though in a different manifestation. Joshua Safran, an American Jew and board member of the Jewish Community Relations Council in Portland, shared his experiences writing:

The last time I was in France, in the fall of 2001, I was routinely confronted by strangers yelling, “Juif, Juif!” (Jew, Jew!). On Yom Kippur, a man hurled a piece of rebar through the stained glass window of the little stone synagogue in Bastia, Corsica. The hunk of metal just missed my wife’s head. And when the services were over, we were forced to walk a gauntlet of shoving, spitting men shouting racist anti-Jewish slurs.

The anti-Semitism Safran experienced in the early 2000’s has only worsened. In 2018, France saw a staggering 89 percent increase in violent anti-Semitism and 74 percent increase in anti-Semitism overall, according to the Kantor Center report.[9]

CNN’s survey showed half of the people in France did not think they had ever socialized with a Jew. It also revealed 20 percent of people in France and Germany believe Jews have too much influence in the media, and twenty-five percent of people from those countries think Jews have too much influence on wars and conflicts.

This is not new anti-Semitism; these are the same lies and tropes resurrected.

Germany, Anti-Semitism, and BDS

The Kantor Center report also shows Germany has had a 70 percent increase in violent anti-Semitism since 2017. [10] Germany’s increase in anti-Semitism is so significant, the German anti-Semitism commissioner Felix Klein warned Jews that it may not be safe to wear a kippa (skullcap) everywhere in Germany. He has also called for additional training for police and other officials on how to specifically deal with anti-Semitic crime.[11]

During a CNN interview, Klein spoke of the history of anti-Semitism in Germany and how it is resurfacing. He said, “The word ‘Jew’ as an insult was not common in my time when I went to school. Now it is…”[12]

The German parliament stepped in a few weeks ago and passed “Decisively Oppose the BDS Movement and Fight Anti-Semitism” resolution. BDS stands for Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions. The BDS Movement is international economic warfare against Israel veiled in an argument of equal rights for Palestinians. The movement’s goal is the economic isolation of Israel by encouraging institutions, individuals, colleges, private companies, and even countries to stop investing in, trading or doing business with Israel and Israeli corporations or products.

The resolution by the German parliament strongly condemned the BDS Movement as anti-Semitic and accused the movement of using methods similar to Nazi propaganda and economic disenfranchisement of Jewish businesses.[13]One of the tactics of the BDS Movement in Germany is activists placing “Don’t Buy” stickers on Israeli products. German legislators argue this is reminiscent of the Nazi slogan “Don’t Buy From Jews!”[14]

The BDS movement is gaining traction as anti-Semitism, supported by both those on the far left and far right, seeps more and more into the mainstream both in Europe and in the United States.[15]

Closer to Home: The Threat in the U.S.

The BDS Movement that forced the German parliament to take action is spreading in the United States, especially on college campuses. And anti-Semitism is also emerging in the media both domestically and internationally.

Assaults on American Jews more than doubled in 2018 according to a recent report by the Anti-Defamation League.[16] The number of anti-Semitic incidents are 48 percent higher than they were in 2015, and 99 percent higher than in 2015.[17] And all but four states had anti-Semitic incidents.[18]

When Joshua Safran wrote of his experiences of anti-Semitism while traveling in Europe as a practicing Jew, he was painting a picture of what he fears could be America’s future. He described how America has been a haven for Jews to worship freely and without fear.

Yet in light of the Tree of Life and Chobad of Poway synagogue shootings, Safran laments the potential loss of this exceptional and historic freedom of worship for Jews in the United States.  He fears the rise of anti-Semitism in the United States puts America on the path of Europe writing:

I was used to being harassed, abused and put in danger when I prayed in synagogues abroad. Never did I think America would become just as dangerous.[19]

The editorial board of The New York Times recently called itself to account for the anti-Semitic cartoon published in its international edition. In a piece titled, “A Rising Tide of Anti-Semitism” the board addressed their concern that The New York Times had not learned lessons from its own history, confessing “In the 1930’s and 1940’s, The Times was largely silent as anti-Semitism rose up and bathed the world in blood”. They went on to warn the cartoon “is evidence of profound danger—not only of anti-Semitism but of numbness to its creep, to the insidious way this ancient, enduring prejudice is once again working itself into public view and common conversation.”[20]

There is nothing new under the sun– Europe is traversing down the dangerous road of anti-Semitism with America not far behind. Holocaust survivors still living, now bear witness to the reincarnation of the rhetoric and hate that precipitated historic bloodshed and plunged the world into war less than a century ago.

Some may argue the data presented represents a minority, albeit a large one, rather than majority opinion. But without education and action, that minority will grow. One in five millennials in both Europe and the United States have little to no knowledge of the Holocaust. Two generations from World War II and memories are fading.

Therein lies the point– we forget our history. It is the hateful few, unchallenged and unchecked by society, who infect the heart of a nation.  We must not stand idly by.

[1] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-antisemitism/anti-semitic-attacks-rise-worldwide-in-2018-led-by-us-west-europe-study-idUSKCN1S73M1

[2] https://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2018/11/europe/antisemitism-poll-2018-intl/

[3] https://cst.org.uk/news/blog/2019/02/07/antisemitic-incidents-report-2018

[4] https://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/voice-of-the-jewish-news-united-we-stand/

[5] https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-45030552

[6] https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-45030552

[7] https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/04/corbyn-and-anti-semitism-files/586990/

[8] https://www.vox.com/world/2019/3/8/18249953/uk-labour-party-anti-semitism-jeremy-corbyn-juliana-berger

[9] http://www.kantorcenter.tau.ac.il/sites/default/files/Antisemitism%20Worldwide%202018.pdf

[10] http://www.kantorcenter.tau.ac.il/sites/default/files/Antisemitism%20Worldwide%202018.pdf

[11] https://edition.cnn.com/2019/05/26/europe/germany-antisemitism-kippah-intl-scli-ger/index.html

[12] Ibid.

[13] https://www.wsj.com/articles/growing-international-movement-to-boycott-israel-is-condemned-by-germany-11558108099?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=1

[14] Ibid.

[15] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-antisemitism/anti-semitic-attacks-rise-worldwide-in-2018-led-by-us-west-europe-study-idUSKCN1S73M1

[16] https://www.adl.org/news/press-releases/anti-semitic-incidents-remained-at-near-historic-levels-in-2018-assaults

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/voices/2019/05/03/poway-synagogue-anti-semitic-jewish-shooting-column/3649866002/

[20] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/30/opinion/cartoon-nytimes.html

House Minority Forcing Members to go on Record on Anti-Semitism

By | House Legislative Updates, LAC Hot Topics/Alerts, Legislative Updates, News and Events | No Comments

Support for Israel has been a point of bi-partisan agreement and cooperation, but Democrats in the House are making what normally are straightforward votes difficult. As a result, House Republicans are using procedural maneuvers to get members on the record on legislation combatting the anti-Semitic BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions), since the Majority won’t bring it up for a vote.

BDS stands for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions. The movement’s goal is the economic isolation of Israel by encouraging individuals, colleges, private companies, and even countries to stop investing in, trading or doing business with Israel and Israeli corporations or products. The BDS Movement opposes the very existence of Israel.

Last week Republicans in the House used a procedural tactic called a Motion to Recommit (MTR) to attempt to add anti-BDS language to a retirement enhancement act. The MTR is one of the only means for the minority party in the House to force members to vote on an issue—in this case, BDS.

The MTR was narrowly defeated in the U.S. House with a vote of 200 to 222. Though bipartisan, the vote was largely along party lines with only 12 Democrats joining Republicans in support.

Meanwhile, House Republicans are trying to force a vote on more complete anti-BDS legislation by filing a discharge petition on the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East (SASME) Act of 2019.

One of the four components of this bill is the Combatting BDS Act of 2019. This enables states to choose not to do business with entities participating in the anti-Semitic BDS Movement. The BDS movement continues to spread internationally as anti-Semitism is also on the rise across the globe.

Despite the bipartisan support of this legislation in the Senate, Speaker Pelosi has refused to bring the identical House bill, to the floor for a vote. Since the Speaker has blocked this bill for four months, House Republicans are using a procedural tool, called a discharge petition, in hopes of forcing a vote on the SASME Act, H.R. 336.

A discharge petition is a means to get a vote on a bill if a majority of the House, at least 218 members, signs on to the petition.

Ironically, those 12 Democrats who voted on the MTR in support of the anti-BDS resolution, have yet to sign the discharge petition to get the SASME Act, which includes the Combatting BDS Act of 2019, to the House Floor (as of this writing).

Dr. Shea Garrison, CWA’s Vice President of International Affairs, encapsulated this inconsistency well when addressing the media:

At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise all around the world, it is a travesty that the U.S. House is unable to unite to support Israel, our most critical ally in the Middle East … It is in America’s national interest to stand strong against anti-Semitic BDS. Support for Israel should be a non-partisan issue with complete bi-partisan cooperation.

Contact your Representative and ask them to stand strong against anti-Semitism and the BDS Movement.

Anti-Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Language Fails to Pass in the House

By | International, News and Events, Press Releases, Support for Israel | No Comments

This afternoon an attempt to add anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) language to H.R. 1994, a retirement enhancement act, was narrowly defeated in the U.S. House with a vote of 200 to 222. Though bipartisan, the vote was largely along party lines with only 12 Democrats joining the Republicans in support. Anti-BDS language within this legislation would end foreign tax breaks for companies who boycott Israel. Shea Garrison, Concerned Women for America’s Vice President of International Affairs had this to say:

“At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise all around the world, it is a travesty that the U.S. House is unable to unite to support Israel, our most critical ally in the Middle East. Make no mistake, BDS is anti-Semitic. The founders of the BDS Movement have been explicitly clear: The BDS Movement opposes the very existence of Israel, or any Jewish state.

Although H.R. 1994 passed without the anti-BDS language, 12 Democrats and the majority of Republicans chose to stand with Israel, voting to send H.R. 1994 back to committee to ensure American’s don’t pay for foreign tax breaks of companies who engage in anti-Israel activity. However, those same 12 Democrats have yet to sign the petition to release the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East (SASME) Act of 2019, which contains the Combatting BDS Bill of 2019, to the House floor for a vote. An identical bill passed in the Senate with strong, bi-partisan support; yet Speaker Pelosi has blocked this legislation from getting a vote on the House floor.

Concerned Women for America calls on those same members who supported the anti-BDS motion today to immediately sign the discharge petition and get SASME to the House floor for a vote.

It is in America’s national interest to stand strong against anti-Semitic BDS. Support for Israel should be a non-partisan issue with complete bi-partisan cooperation. We ask the House to come together and condemn anti-Semitism in all forms.”