Category

Religious Liberty

Conservative Women Celebrate Freedom as the U.S. Supreme Court Decides Masterpiece Cakeshop

By | Blog, News and Events, Press Releases, Religious Liberty | No Comments

Washington, D.C. – Minutes ago, the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion (7-2) in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Penny Nance, President and CEO of Concerned Women for America (CWA), the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization had this to say:

“The Court is right in recognizing that it ‘is the right of all persons to exercise fundamental freedoms under the First Amendment.’ All Americans, whatever their view of same-sex marriage, should celebrate the Court’s strong stance for religious freedom.

“Those who want to promote tolerance should celebrate most of all. This is what true tolerance looks like. It was sad to see some of them stand on the wrong side of this case, trying to exercise a new form of intolerance against people of faith.

“As Justice Kennedy said during oral arguments, ‘tolerance goes both ways.’

“We applaud the U.S. Supreme Court for its strong stance for religious freedom with only two justices dissenting on this important decision. We know the work is not done. Religious liberty must be protected at every turn. But today we can celebrate this strong affirmation from the highest court in the land.”

 

Pompeo: Religious freedom is a Universal Human Right

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This week, newly appointed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made international religious freedom “a front burner” issue for the U.S. Department of State, declaring it a “universal human right” for which the United States will fight around the world. These statements came in conjunction with the unveiling of the State Department’s 2017 International Religious Freedom Report which Pompeo deemed critical to the U.S. mission to defend religious liberty and “a testament to the United States’ historic role in preserving and advocating for religious freedom” across the globe. Furthermore, he underlined religious freedom as a fundamental right which the Founders recognized, saying:

Religious freedom is in the American blood stream. It’s what brought the pilgrims here from England. Our founders understood it as our first freedom, that is why they articulated it so clearly in the first amendment. As James Madison wrote years before he was President or Secretary of State, “Conscience is the most sacred of all property.”  Religious freedom was vital to America’s beginning; defending it is critical to our future. Religious freedom is not only ours, it is a right belonging to every individual on the globe. President Trump stands with those who yearn for religious liberty; our vice president stands with them, and so do I.

The 2017 report documents religious freedom abuses and violations committed by “governments, terrorist groups, and individuals” in 200 countries and territories. For example, the report calls out North Korea for denying rights to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion and estimates between 80,000 to 120,000 political prisoners in North Korea who are jailed “in remote areas” and under “horrific conditions,” some for religious reasons.

Additionally, Secretary Pompeo announced that the U.S. will host the first-ever ministerial to advance religious freedom at the U.S. Department of State July 25-26. The event will affirm a shared commitment of advancing religious freedom as a universal human right and will include ministers from collaborative governments around the world, as well as representatives from international organizations, religious communities, and civil society. However, Pompeo declared that the upcoming event will be held not only to discuss important issues, but will be about “action,” and the identification of clear and effective ways to ensure religious freedom is respected for all people.

“Religious Freedom is indeed a universal human right that I will fight for” Pompeo declared, “The United States will not stand by as spectators. We will get in the ring and stand in solidarity with every individual who seeks to enjoy their most fundamental of human rights.” Concerned Women for America stands with Secretary Pompeo in the fight against religious persecution and for the right to religious liberty that we believe “is not a gift from the government, but a sacred right from Almighty God.”  Please join with CWA in prayer and support as we monitor religious persecution around the world and advocate for liberty, the fundamental right of all people.  

 

Dr. Shea Garrison, CWA Senior Advisor, Foreign Affairs

North Dakota, Please Respond Now! CIA Nominee Needs Our Prayers and Action!

By | North Dakota, Religious Liberty | No Comments

Gina Haspel is a strong, intelligent woman of integrity who has unquestionable qualifications to serve as our nation’s next Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director. She worked her way to the top in a male-dominated field, but she has risen based on her earned credentials and hard work. If confirmed, she would be the first woman to serve as CIA Director.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is expected to vote on Haspel sometime next week, and they to hear from you!

Will you be a part of helping this nominee through a successful confirmation process?  It only takes a brief moment.

Please take action now!

  1. Call and email Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee.  Ask her to vote to support Gina Haspel.  Be sure to tell her office that you are a member of Concerned Women for America of North Dakota.  Call (202) 224-2043 and email.
  2. Forward this message to family and friends.  Every contact is counted!
  3. Commit to praying for Gina Haspel and the senators.

Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee, stated this in support of Haspel:

“Haspel is undeniably well-qualified for this crucial position. She has served in the CIA for over three decades and has shown a commitment to the rule of law and to the mission of the CIA. She previously served as Deputy Director under then-Director Pompeo and now serves as Acting Director. She has served in numerous senior-level positions, rising through the ranks of the CIA, proving her worth with each earned promotion and numerous awards and recognitions.

“Haspel requested a transfer to the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center to join the fight against al Qaeda. Her first day was a day our nation must never forget, September 11, 2001, the day we were attacked on American soil and almost 3,000 lives were lost. All of our lives forever changed.

“Perhaps most tellingly, Haspel is widely supported by her peers in the intelligence community and from national security officials. For example, Leon Panetta, former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense during the Obama Administration, said ‘I’m glad it’s Gina because, frankly, she is someone who really knows the CIA inside out.’ It’s one thing to win awards; it is another thing entirely to earn the respect of your colleagues and superiors.

“As our nation faces numerous threats from abroad, the CIA remains a crucial element of our national security. Haspel’s career at the CIA has no doubt prepared her, but her own hard work, integrity, and expertise in the field of intelligence is what makes her the best candidate for this job.

“I urge all senators to put partisan bickering and theatrics aside, focus on what is best for our national security, and swiftly confirm Haspel to be our next CIA Director.”

Thank you ladies, for all YOU do to help bring good leaders, like Gina Haspel into places of influence!

“… that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love,” Ephesians 4:14-16.

White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative

By | LBB, News and Events, Religious Liberty | No Comments

Penny Nance, CWA’s CEO & President, with United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback at the Rose Garden.

President Donald Trump has taken several steps to protect religious freedom within the Executive Branch during his time in office. On the National Day of Prayer, in his second year in office, he once again showed his commitment to people of faith by signing an executive order establishing the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative.

This is no small thing, though we have seen similar efforts in the past.  The attacks on religious freedom — and freedom of speech in general — are ongoing, and a proactive approach to protect these rights is desperately needed.

President Trump announced the initiative at a Rose Garden event attended by Concerned Women for America CEO and President Penny Nance, saying:

The faith initiative will help design new policies that recognize the vital role of faith in our families, our communities, and our great country.  This office will also help ensure that faith-based organizations have equal access to government funding and the equal right to exercise their deeply held beliefs.

We take this step because we know that, in solving the many, many problems and our great challenges, faith is more powerful than government, and nothing is more powerful than God.

He is absolutely right. One of the sad things about modern government hostility towards religious groups is the fact that they are negatively affecting these groups’ great, charitable, loving work. Remember the attacks on the Little Sisters of the Poor? Why would the government want to hinder in any way the work of these poor, religious women who are caring for the elderly in our nation? Or how about the state governments that have forced out of their state Christian adoption agencies? These are services that are needed, yet as government intolerance of differing views, especially in the area of sexuality, continues to grow, we see many are willing to let the poor and needy suffer at the altar of liberalism.

It was fitting that in announcing this initiative and commemorating the National Day of Prayer, President Trump remembered the loss of “America’s Pastor,” Rev. Billy Graham.  He said:

As we gather this morning, our thoughts also turn to the memory of a man who awakened the light of God in the hearts of millions of America’s pastors.  And that’s the great, legendary, wonderful Billy Graham.  Great, great man …

Today, we remember the words of Reverend Graham, “Prayer is the key that opens [to] us the treasures of God’s mercies and blessings.”  Always beautiful.

As you know, prayer is foundational for Concerned Women for America. Everything we do is done not in our own power, but by the strength and opportunity given to us by God Almighty. It is a reality that we know to be true personally and can attest to throughout our great history. That is why we continually remind our culture of America’s rich history of faith and prayer. President Trump is fully aware of that history.  More importantly, he is very proud of it.  At the Rose Garden ceremony, he said:

The prayers of religious believers helped gain our independence, and the prayers of religious leaders like the Reverend Martin Luther King — great man — helped win the long struggle for civil rights.  Faith has shaped our families, and it’s shaped our communities.  It’s inspired our commitment to charity and our defense of liberty.  And faith has forged the identity and the destiny of this great nation that we all love.

Americans of faith have built the hospitals that care for our sick, the homes that tend to our elderly, and the charities that house the orphaned, and they minister — and they really do, they minister to the poor, and so beautifully and with such love.

We are proud of our religious heritage.  And as President, I will always protect religious liberty.

This is our identity as American, whether many or few recognize it. It is the genius of our nation and the key to liberty and freedom.

 


Mario Diaz, Esq. is CWA’s general counsel. Follow him on Twitter @mariodiazesq.

Another Win for Religious Liberty

By | LBB, Religious Liberty | No Comments

A nomination for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is usually not a controversial thing. But, as I have told you before, when Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) decided it was appropriate to impose a religious test on the nomination of Russel Vought for this position, his nomination became a top priority for us at Concerned Women for America (CWA).

It is simply unconstitutional to impose such a test on any nominee for public office. Thankfully, we have defeated another attempt at it this week.

I want to thank those of you who called your senators and expressed your concerns about what was done to Russell Vought. I am incredibly proud of the vocal role our CEO and President Penny Nance took on his nomination.

You made your voices heard, and you were heard.  The Senate voted on Wednesday to confirm him by a vote of 50-49. You did it!

As you can probably guess, Vice-President Mike Pence had to cast the deciding vote. And this should remind us of two very important takeaways from this fight.

First, it is a testament to your involvement with CWA. Your support and constant involvement with CWA is what makes us effective. We speak for you. So, when we all take action together on the issues about which we care, real change is possible.

Second, it should remind us that we are living in a crucial moment in our history. We don’t have the luxury to let up on this fight. This nomination should not have been so close. Just think about it.  This nominee was almost defeated only because he is a Christian. This should never happen in America.

But we stand very close to letting that be our reality.  We’re just a few senators away from that! That is how close we are, and if we do not stand strong now, this will become a trend, leading to a norm.

So, let us take the opposite approach to complacency. Let us redouble our efforts in support of religious liberty. In support of our faith.  As a member of CWA, let your friends and family members know how important it is that they too join CWA and add their voices to this chorus for righteousness and justice.

May we forever be known that way.

CWA’s Senior Advisor for Foreign Affairs Addresses Christianity in Iraq

By | Blog, News and Events, Religious Liberty | No Comments

In America, we trace our Christian heritage to before the founding of our nation, when European Christians sought a home free from religious persecution where they could practice their faith according to their own convictions.  But in the Middle Eastern country of Iraq, Christianity has very old roots stemming from the 1st century A.D., even before the birth of Islam in early 600 A.D.

In spite of their roots, Iraqi Christian communities began to steadily decline after the birth of Islam, a decline which has continued throughout the past century.  According to an article in the Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy[1], Christian populations in Iraq declined significantly between 1910 and 2010, falling from 6.3% to 1.4% of the population.  And by 2025, that number is estimated to fall to .6%.

Since June 2014, ISIS has brought a particularly bloody decline to Iraqi Christian populations with an onslaught labeled as “genocide”[2] by former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in 2016. The genocide has involved the murder of thousands of Christians, Yazidis and Shiite Muslims (other religious minority groups) under the control of ISIS. Thousands of families have been killed, taken hostage, kidnapped, and driven out of Iraq.  Currently, there are only an estimated 200,000 Christians left in Iraq.

Speaking at a meeting about the future of Iraq’s Christians in September 2017, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin said the “conflicts and tensions of recent years represent a risk … for the survival of Christians”.  He continued to point out that also at risk is the hope and “possibility that the Middle East can be a place of coexistence between peoples belonging to different religious and ethnic groups.” [3]

Where does the U.S. government stand on the issue of persecuted religious minorities in Iraq? At an advocacy summit in Washington, D.C., on October 25 of last year, Vice President Mike Pence said that America will “stand with those who suffer for their faith because that’s what Americans have always done (and) the common bond of our humanity demands a strong response.” He said also the United Nations has “too often failed to help the most vulnerable communities, especially religious minorities” and that the U.S. will take a stronger lead in directly guiding funds to help persecuted Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. [4]

The Trump administration recently announced a renegotiated deal with the U.N. that purports to ensure that religious minorities will receive the U.N. assistance they were previously denied. This deal directs $55 million to the U.N. Development Program Funding Facility for Stabilization in Iraq for religious minority communities in the Nineveh Province of Iraq.  However Nina Shea, international human-rights lawyer and Director for the Center for Religious Freedom at Hudson Institute, has little hope that these funds will actually reach the needy populations in Nineveh.  In an article in The Christian Post, Shea cites the gross mismanagement of the UNDP and its deliberate marginalization of the “genocide that targeted Christian and Yezidi minorities for over the past two years”.[5]  Meanwhile, time lags on while thousands of families suffer in inadequate refugee living situations.

Over the next few months, Concerned Women for America will watch to see if and when the allotted resources are directed to help Christian and other religious minorities in Iraq rebuild their homes, families, and lives.  Pray that God would help them heal and for the wisdom of our nation in providing support for them.

[1] Johnson, T and Zurlo, G. Ongoing Exodus: Tracking the Emigration of Christians from the Middle East. Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy, 2013-2014, Volume III. Population statistics are taken from a table created by the World Religion Database.

[2] https://www.cnn.com/2016/03/17/politics/us-iraq-syria-genocide/index.html

[3] https://acnuk.org/news/iraq-cardinal-highlights-threat-to-christianity/

[4] https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/oct/25/mike-pence-us-rely-faith-based-groups-over-united/

[5] https://www.christianpost.com/news/trump-designates-55-million-help-christians-religious-minorities-rebuild-iraq-213575/

CWA: Standing Against Religious Persecution around the World

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We will advocate on behalf of religious freedom and threatened minorities. Religious minorities continue to be victims of violence. We will place a priority on protecting these groups and will continue working with regional partners to protect minority communities from attacks and to preserve their cultural heritage. (National Security Strategy, December 2017)

In 2017, Concerned Women for America was on the front lines fighting for America’s religious freedom, from petitioning President Trump to protect the First Amendment, to rallying support for Jack Phillips at the Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Today we extend that fight to oppressed countries around the world, where Christians and other religious minorities are imprisoned, beaten, and often killed for their beliefs. As we do, we bind our efforts with the Trump Administration and the National Security Strategy of December 2017, which proposes to advance American influence and values with the priority action of “protecting religious freedom and religious minorities” around the world.

Violence against people of faith occurs globally in multiple ways–including terrorism, religious extremism, and genocide–as in the case of the murder of thousands of Yezidis, Christians, and Shi’a Muslims by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.  In addition, state persecution violates religious freedom in some countries, such as in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a theocratic state. In Iran, Shia Muslim clergy, along with political leaders who are vetted by the clergy, dominate the major state power structures.  In many areas of the Middle East, threats to Christianity stem from Islamic radicalism and terrorist groups, while in Iran the main threats to Christianity come from the government. Although some tolerance is shown for historically Christian groups in Iran, Muslim converts to Christianity can be under threat of immediate punishment by death.

According to the Open Doors World Watch List 2018, which lists the “50 countries where it’s most dangerous to follow Jesus”, the top ten countries are (in order from 1-10): North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Libya, Iraq, Yemen and Iran.  Open Door reports that two hundred fifteen (215) million Christians experienced high to extreme levels of persecution during the reporting period of January to October 2017. This number represents one in every 12 Christians worldwide, and includes killings, abductions, rape, sexual harassment, and attacks against churches. Open Door attributes this high number to three primary causes: 1) the spread of radical Islam and the use of Sharia law in Asia and Africa; 2) the rise of religious nationalism used to marginalize religious minorities and increase government power in Asia; and 3) a “grassroots revival of Islam” in Central Asia.

President Trump declared January 16, 2018, as “Religious Freedom Day,” noting in his declaration that our forefathers believed “freedom is not a gift from the government, but a sacred right from Almighty God.” During 2018 CWA will be monitoring religious persecution around the world to advocate for freedom and report the most important issues to our constituents. Please stand with CWA as we fight for religious freedom around the world.

Dr. Shea Garrison serves as CWA’s Senior Advisor for Foreign Affairs.

 

CWA Attends Announcement of New HHS Division: Conscience and Religious Freedom

By | Blog, Defense of Family, Legislative Updates, News and Events, Religious Liberty | No Comments

This week, members of the CWA staff were invited to a special event at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announcing a new division on Conscience and Religious Freedom in HHS’s Office of Civil Rights.  Caroline Aderholt, CWA’s Chief of Staff, was the only non-speaker who was invited behind the scenes to join the speakers and influencers, including the acting Secretary of HHS, Members of Congress and Senators.

This new division will specialize in enforcement and compliance with laws that protect conscience and the free exercise of religion and that prohibit coercion and discrimination. Specifically, this division will deal with conscience objections of healthcare workers who are forced to perform or participate in an abortion in violation with their deeply held beliefs. Additionally, this new division will also focus on the increasing issue of protecting the conscience rights of healthcare workers who object to participating in the gender reassignment process.

This was the result of hard work from so many behind the scenes to emphasize the importance of conscience protection. Thanks to the hard work of our team and the pro-life coalition, the Trump Administration has taken this unprecedented step to protect those who just want to follow their conscience.

Capitol Hill Brief — Feisty and Feminine Workshops

By | Blog, Capitol Hill Brief, Religious Liberty, Sanctity of Life | No Comments

 

I also want to take a moment and thank God and you, our thousands of Concerned Women for America supporters, for the support you gave my book, Feisty and Feminine, this year.

I wrote it as a manual for conservative women to be equipped on the major topics of the day.  We are stronger when we stand together with one voice, and my hope was to spark the conversations with Feisty and Feminine.

Well, as usual, you blew me away.  Many of our members held Feisty and Feminine workshops this year, where a group of women went through the book, covering all the topics, equipping and supporting each other, while having lots of fun.

It’s a dream come true; thank you so much!


Help CWA stand strong on the front lines. Your year-end gift will help us defend critical issues like the sanctity of life and religious freedom. Visit www.CapitolHillBrief.org and give your year-end gift today. If you’d like to hear these commentaries on the radio, find me on your local radio station.

 

Capitol Hill Brief — A Supreme Accomplishment

By | Blog, Capitol Hill Brief, Gorsuch, Legal, Religious Liberty, Sanctity of Life | No Comments

 

Perhaps at the top of our list for accomplishments this year is the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court.  God was so gracious to us!

You have to remember that before the election, when the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia was announced, Hillary Clinton was, without a doubt, going to be President.  And the Court was going to be lost to the liberal side for a generation.

But God had other plans.  And when President Trump won, everything changed.  He nominated an exceptional candidate in Neil Gorsuch, and Concerned Women for America all over the country pour out their heart and soul in getting him confirmed.

We did it. You did it.  God did it.


Help CWA stand strong on the front lines. Your year-end gift will help us defend critical issues like the sanctity of life and religious freedom. Visit www.CapitolHillBrief.org and give your year-end gift today. If you’d like to hear these commentaries on the radio, find me on your local radio station.