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Religious Liberty

Easter and the Promise of Redemption

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In this Easter season, I have been thinking about the importance of redemption. Over the years, by virtue of circulation in political circles, I have known personally some people involved in public scandals. The world watches as the media follows them relentlessly for days, weeks, or even months and then evaporates, leaving behind a scene of complete and utter self-inflicted personal destruction. Some of these folks are often distraught to the point of suicide.

What the cameras don’t show is what happens after the hoopla dies down. Sometimes these folks turn inward and become bitter and permanently broken, but not always. The untold stories are the others, the ones who are open to healing and saving grace.

I had the privilege of reflecting on redemption not long ago through the eyes of a woman whose husband was recently the object of a very public humiliation. She spoke about the many, many acts of love and compassion that have been shown to their family.

Members of a local church congregation have come forward to help in tangible ways, but also by sharing their own stories of brokenness and the healing of Christ’s forgiveness and restoration. One woman texted my friend, “Call me, I can help you: signed a survivor of an international sex scandal.”

No one likes to remember their past mistakes, but when they are viewed in the context of sins atoned for by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross then they become only a chapter of a story of victory and healing, not the last chapter. In most cases, the final story is much more important than the earlier narrative.

I was shocked recently when my daughter confessed distaste at the fact that my dear friend and mentor, Chuck Colson, served time in prison.

My husband and I both laughed as she stared at us in confusion.

Taking advantage of a teachable moment, we were then able to point out to her that Colson’s disgrace led him to the foot of the Cross, and from there he has become one of the greatest Christian heroes of our time.

Without the public brokenness, Colson would have never become the man that God has used to minister to literally millions of people, many of whom are or were in prison.

That’s called Grace, and it is at the crux of the Easter story.

As Christians, we believe that Christ, the Son of God, died specifically not for “the righteous, but sinners.” Who is a sinner? Well, all of us. Every single one of us who has ever been unkind, lied, or been disobedient. Yes, all of it counts. He was the only sinless man ever born, and yet, He stepped in to take our punishment and, in the process, conquered sin and ultimately death. He rose to new life and indeed, through his atonement, offers a clean slate before a Holy God. That’s what Easter is all about.

I know it’s interesting to read and watch bad people “get theirs” or to even feel a sense of self-righteousness perhaps watching the lives of Hollywood elites and political figures come crashing down because of bad choices and dishonesty. But we need to remember that, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

I stand with countless other broken humans over the millennia who claim Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. He is risen for all the people caught in scandals, and for those who were never caught, and for those who are just plain broken. I, like the Apostle Paul, stand with the sinners “of whom I am the chief.”

Jesus on the Cross took the punishment I deserve for my sins and now because of His resurrection I stand forgiven by His grace. He will do the same for you as He has done for other sinners just like us. He is risen indeed!

 

“Until Justice Rolls Down Like Dollars”— the SPLC Exposed

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The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has once again been exposed for what it is, “a high profitable scam,” according to one former employee who wrote for the New Yorker in a recent, explosive op-ed. Recall that the SPLC is a hateful racket that smears Christian conservatives as racists. Remember when they smeared Dr. Ben Carson for having a Biblical, historical view of marriage?

The SPLC was key in that horrible shooting attack at the Family Research Council that injured their building’s security guard, Leo Johnson. After the incident, the FBI released a video of the terrorist’s interrogation where he confessed to using the center’s “Extremist” list map to find out where the councils’ offices were located.

Still, the SPLC’s smear campaigns were highly profitable for the group, so it continued to expand its list of “hate groups” with Christian organizations. For years, we have struggled to tell the world about this fraud of a group, making some strides. At one point, they were used as an official resource by the Department of Justice (DOJ), and they were removed from that position, thanks to the light that was shone on them. But many in the media showed little interest, since they were useful politically. These recent revelations might change all that.

“The Law Center had a way of turning idealists into cynics,” wrote Bob Moser, the former SPLC writer.  He joined the SPLC thinking it was a justice-seeking small organization and discovered it was all a façade. He recounts one employee referring to their offices as “the Poverty Palace.” Allegations of racial discrimination came from within while they accused everyone else of discriminating.  Sexual harassment allegations also loomed which eventually led to the firing of Morris Dees, one of SPLC’s co-founders.

Of Dees, he recalls one exposé that showed him to be one “who viewed civil-rights work mainly as a marketing tool for bilking gullible Northern liberals. … Co-workers stealthily passed along these articles to me,” he says.

When the news of Dees broke, he notes another former SPLC employee said, “It could be racial, sexual, financial — that place was a virtual buffet of injustices.”

But that’s on the inside. On the outside, they’re bringing in the money by accusing others, most prominently President Trump, of the things they are practicing. He writes, “Donald Trump’s presidency opened up a gusher of donations; after raising fifty million dollars in 2016, the center took in a hundred and thirty-two million dollars in 2017 …”

He concludes, “We were part of the con, and we knew it.” Tagline: “The S.P.L.C. — making hate pay …”

But friends, the reality is that, even after all of this (after all those facts) the SPLC continues its hateful work today as it did yesterday, aided by its multi-million-dollar endowment. Next week, hundreds of journalists will refer to Christian organizations smeared by the SPLC as “hate groups.” George Clooney, who donated a million dollars to them recently, and Apple, who chipped in another, and hundreds of other liberals seeking to advance their radical causes will continue to support them and ignore their putrid foundation, because they help them smear their opponents.

This is why we must be diligent to expose them at every turn. When you see a journalist quoting their stats or their “hate group” classification, write to them and let them know that they are discrediting themselves by using the SPLC.

If you see it on television or radio, call the station. It must become common knowledge that the SPLC is a racket and a hate group itself. But that can only happen through you and me. The media must be made to care; it won’t volunteer. Let us speak in unison, and we may yet see justice roll down like waters, as Martin Luther King, Jr., dreamed.

Hostility Towards Religion on Display at the Supreme Court in Maryland Cross Case

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This week the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in The American Legion v. American Humanist Association. The case deals with a 93-year-old World War I memorial shaped like a cross that was erected to honor fallen soldiers. The memorial stood for 80-plus years without challenge, but now it offends the American Humanist Association (AHA), so they sued the state of Maryland and have gotten all the way to the Supreme Court to have it removed.

There are reasons for optimism. The arguments in favor of allowing the cross to stand were powerfully presented by Neal K. Katyal, representing the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission; Michael Carvin, representing the American Legion which erected the monument in the first place; and Jeffrey Wall, Acting-Solicitor General of the U.S.

Mr. Katyal, who previously worked at the solicitor general’s office under Justice Kagan’s leadership in the Obama years, focused on the uniqueness of the cross. He argued (1) it was built 93 years ago, (2) it has at its center the American Legion’s symbol and at its base the memorial words, “Valor, Endurance, Courage, Devotion,” (3) there are no other religious symbols or words associated with it, and (4) it is situated in the city’s Veterans Memorial Park, alongside other war memorials. He also highlighted that the Court has never adopted a view that the mere fact that some people disagree with something would create an Establishment Clause violation. When Justice Sotomayor pointed to some briefs of deeply religious people who regarded “secularizing the cross” as blasphemy, he replied, “I don’t think we let those objectors dictate that.”

Mr. Carvin was more expansive in his defense of religious liberty. He argued, as did our brief, against the use of the unworkable Lemon Test, which has been largely abandoned by the Court. He argued instead that the Court should adopt the coercion test it used in Town of Greece v. Galloway, “which prohibits tangible interference with religious liberty, as well as proselytizing.” Under such a test, “all symbolic, including sectarian, symbols would be presumptively valid except in the rare circumstances where they’ve been misused to proselytize.” When questioned, it was also important that he reminded the Court that, “all symbols are sectarian, and if you ban sectarian symbols, then you are necessarily banning all religious symbols, which evinces hostility and is in stark tension with the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clause.”

Acting-Solicitor General Wall also argued for adhering to Town of Greece. He explained that under that test there is a much higher standard than, “are you offended or excluded? … Are you trying to force people into the pews, are you denigrating another faith?”

But what stood out most at oral arguments was the palpable hostility towards religion, and indeed Christianity in particular, from the American Humanist Association’s (AHA) counsel Monica Miller. “We’re talking about the government being the speaker and essentially giving you the message, as the non-Christian in your community, that you are a lesser citizen,” she explained. She argued the monument would, “contribute to the idea that non-Christians are inferior.” One is left puzzled by such characterizations. How can anyone take a WWI memorial display in this manner? To a reasonable observer, this is a symbol that honors the sacrifice of these men giving their lives for their fellow men. But to the AHA it says only that “Christians have valor, Christians have courage, Christians have devotion, Christians have endurance …”

The size is also a problem for them. Miss Miller seemed to argue for a sort of “loudness test,” where a display that is “not as loud” would be okay. But as Justice Gorsuch quickly pointed out, the Court would have to get into “having to dictate taste with respect to displays.” He said, “We have a Ten Commandments display just above you, which may be too loud for many.”

Miss Miller acknowledged that the Ten Commandments, “it’s basically shorthand for law itself.” But she draws the line at the cross, somehow. It apparently cannot have a dual meaning of sacrifice, aside from the desire of Christians to proselytize.

The hostility, again, seemed aimed at Christianity in particular. Chief Justice Roberts asked at one point about Native American totems with their “spiritual and religious significance.” Would they need to be torn down? The answer was, “no.” No problem there. She tried to argue this based on the fact that the Court did not find a violation in a similar case because the community was predominantly Christian, but the Chief went on to ask her in the context of a predominantly Native American community. She was unwilling to say that it would be a violation.

Clearly, there is some animosity towards the nation’s Christian heritage that undergirds the AHA’s argument.

At one point, Chief Justice Roberts pointed out that people process these displays in different ways. And the fact that some Jewish people object doesn’t mean all object. He reminded her that “one of the major fundraisers of [the cross] was a Jewish individual. So, he was obviously observing it or anticipating it in a different way.” Miss Miller’s hostility, again, was stark. She said, “Well, Your Honor, I think that we cannot take one person’s example, again, someone who is probably one of maybe the only Jewish people in that county at a time when there was an active Klan burning crosses, burning Jewish buildings or Jewish, you know, businesses at the time when atheists couldn’t run for office, Jews had to swear that they believed in an afterlife in order to qualify, I mean …” At this bizarre comment, there was a bit of a commotion. Justice Kagan was heard saying, “Why does it even matter?”
But Miss Miller was undeterred. Justice Alito reminded her that, “There were 12 African-American soldiers among the 49,” who are honored at the memorial. Yet she dismissed that, speculating that those who placed the names didn’t even know who was honored there. At one point she claimed, “there [are] bushes obscuring the plaque.”

Some might miss it, but the implications of the AHA’s arguments are horrendous. To attribute some malicious, bigoted, Christian discrimination to this memorial without any proof of such hideous intent is unwarranted and reprehensible.

We hope the Court renders a decision that upholds this memorial and others similar to it and sends a clear message for the protection of religious liberty in our nation. The lower courts are in desperate need of guidance on this area of the law. We need a decision that will be helpful in future cases, not just in the protection of this cross.

Miss Miller was blunt in asking the Court to limit its decision and leave every other display to be attacked and litigated by themselves. If the Court heeds her call, it will leave states to continue to be harassed for honorable displays that should be celebrated and respected, instead of smeared and litigated. The Court should not play along. It should stand for religious liberty and our country’s rich religious liberty heritage.

Supreme Court Punts on Important Religious Liberty Case

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It is difficult to find words that can adequately sound the alarm of the religious liberty threats we face as a nation. We are getting weaker by the moment on the protection of our “first freedom,” and the opposition gets bolder with every half-hearted attempt, whether by courts or opportunistic politicians, to take the middle ground where none exists.

The recent denial of cert. (judicial review) in the case of Coach Kennedy (Kennedy v. Bremerton School District), who was fired for daring to pray privately after high school football games, is a prime example of how anemic we have become. Concerned Women for America (CWA) submitted a brief in support of Coach Kennedy alongside other religious liberty organizations. The reasons the Supreme Court’s conservative majority gave for declining to hear the case are unpersuasive and should be a warning of trouble ahead for us all.

In a disappointing statement by Justice Samuel Alito, who was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh, they try to save face by reminding us that the “denial of certiorari does not signify that the Court necessarily agrees with the decision (much less the opinion) below.”

He is right. It does not mean that. It certainly does not mean they disagree with the decision either, or they would have vacated it. What they say is that, “In this case important unresolved factual questions would make it very difficult if not impossible at this stage to decide the free speech question that the petition asks us to review.”

What are these important “unresolved factual questions”? Well, the statement notes that Coach Kennedy was given two reasons for being fired: (1) that he neglected his responsibility to supervise his players while he was praying, and (2) that his actions would lead a reasonable observer to think the district was endorsing a religion. These reasons were given in writing. There is no factual question about them. Still, the statement of Justices Alito joined by Thomas, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh, claims, “the court should have made a specific finding as to what petitioner was likely to be able to show regarding the reason or reasons for his loss of employment.”

For that reason, they actually concur in the denial. This is mindboggling. They criticize the district court for converging the two reasons together, but the district court is not wrong. The only reason he was fired is because he was praying.  Surely the justices do not think he would be fired if he goes to the restroom after the game, “leaving the kids unsupervised.” Coach Kennedy was fired because he dared say a private prayer in a way that could be seen publicly. He is Daniel praying in his chambers while being seen through the window. And our laws today in the year 2019 in America allow him to be thrown in the lion’s den of unemployment.

The justices’ statement does show some apprehension to this incredible injustice.  Alito writes, “While I thus concur in the denial of the present petition, the Ninth Circuit’s understanding of the free speech rights of public-school teachers is troubling and may justify review in the future.”

Oh good; Coach Kennedy might just need to spend another decade fighting this case in order to see justice. Listen to what they acknowledge:

According to the Ninth Circuit, public school teachers and coaches may be fired if they engage in any expression that the school does not like while they are on duty, and the Ninth Circuit appears to regard teachers and coaches as being on duty at all times from the moment they report for work to the moment they depart, provided that they are within the eyesight of students.

Exactly. Then, why in the world would they concur with denying judicial review? Why not take the case and undo the damage done by the Ninth Circuit? Send a clear message in support of religious freedom. The statement continues: “What is perhaps most troubling about the Ninth Circuit’s opinion is language that can be understood to mean that a coach’s duty to serve as a good role model requires the coach to refrain from any manifestation of religious faith — even when the coach is plainly not on duty.” Again, such blatant hostility towards religion is prohibited by the Constitution, which is why it is a shame the Court elected to punt on this case.

And it gets even worse. Alito again,

[T]he Court criticized him for “his media appearances and prayer in the BHS bleachers (while wearing BHS apparel and surrounded by others).” This conduct, in the opinion of the Ninth Circuit, “signal[ed] his intent to send a message to students and parents about appropriate behavior and what he values as a coach.” But when petitioner prayed in the bleachers, he had been suspended. He was attending a game like any other fan. The suggestion that even while off duty, a teacher or coach cannot engage in any outward manifestation of religious faith is remarkable. (Internal citations omitted)

These blatant violations of Coach Kennedy’s constitutional rights more than warrant the Supreme Court’s attention.  At a time when hostility towards Christian beliefs continues to rise in our country, it is unfortunate not to have enough votes at the Supreme Court to give a hearing to such an important case.

We are grateful the statement signals that this case is not over, “While the petition now before us is based solely on the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, petitioner still has live claims under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” But people of faith all over America are rightly pondering if they will be the next victim of our lack of courage in protecting religious freedom. What will it take for us to wake up and fight for religious freedom with the resolve it warrants?

Senators’ bigotry threatens all believers – The left gets closer to stifling public expressions of faith

By | National Sovereignty, News and Events, Religious Liberty, Sanctity of Life | No Comments

Quick — somebody please remind Democratic Senators Kamala Harris (D-California) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) that they’re members of what’s supposed to be the tolerant party. Based on the bigoted questions they recently posed to a judicial nominee, they may think that Democrats are the heirs of the anti-Catholic Know-Nothing party.

Sens. Harris and Hirono challenged federal judicial nominee Brian Buescher about his affiliation with the Knights of Columbus, an international Catholic charitable organization with nearly two million members. What, specifically, are the senators upset about? That the Catholic organization espouses the teachings of the Catholic Church. How dare it!

Sen. Harris asked the nominee whether he agreed with the leader of the Knights, who once said that abortion is “the killing of the innocent on a massive scale.” Somebody should tell her that Pope Francis recently compared abortion doctors to hitmen.

The senator’s question reflects an alarming trend among Democratic politicians: the desire to root out any speck of religious belief that may threaten the Holy Grail of the Left, abortion-on-demand. And what Sen. Harris seeks to do with questions like this is force underground anyone — not just Catholics — with religious objections to abortion.

Sen. Hirono, whose biggest campaign committee contributor was the pro-abortion group EMILY’S List, even went so far as to ask Buescher if he would discontinue his affiliation with the Knights. “If confirmed,” she asked, “do you intend to end your membership with this organization to avoid any appearance of bias?”

What’s the objective? The senator’s goal is to obstruct and defeat every white, male, conservative judicial nominee of the Trump administration. That was fully on display during the Kavanaugh confirmation when she demanded that every male just “shut up.” Even if this is her objective, and even if she is a woman, religious bigotry should not be tolerated.

As for Sen. Harris, she has 2020 White House aspirations. She would do well to recognize that being on the left edge of the West Coast is far from middle America. Any pathway to 2020 still takes you through Iowa — and neighboring Nebraska for that matter.

Buescher would have been in the right to blast both senators for these questions. Instead, he calmly explained that “judge[s] must decide cases and apply the law, not advocate for one side or the other in a legal proceeding.” Simply put, his faith and religiously affiliated volunteerism has no bearing on his ability to faithfully execute the duties of a federal judge. For Harris and Hirono to insinuate otherwise is an insult to all people of faith, whether Catholic, evangelical, Jewish, or Muslim.

And remember, Harris and Hirono aren’t the only senators making these suggestions. In 2017, Democratic Senators Dick Durbin and Dianne Feinstein suggested that judicial nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s religious belief rendered her unfit for the bench. A few months before that, the supposedly progressive Bernie Sanders suggested that Russell Vought, an evangelical nominee for a position in the Office of Management and Budget, was unfit for public service because of his belief in the Gospel.

Sanders’ treatment of Vought makes clear that it’s not only Catholics who should be alarmed by this trend among Democrats and progressives. The Left seeks to stifle any public expression of religious belief, whether it’s relevant to one’s job or not, and block from government anyone whose religious beliefs run counter to the ideology of the Left.

For Hirono and Harris, the target was a Catholic who disagreed with them about abortion. For Sanders, it was an evangelical who disagreed with him about salvation through Christ. Other senators will find other reasons to oppose nominees of other religions. Their goal is simple: to drive religion out of the public square, even if that means suggesting that a nominee is an extremist for belonging to a two-million-member organization that raises money for the intellectually impaired, feeds the hungry, and clothes the poor.

People of all faiths and members of both parties must rise up and speak out against this rank bigotry. If you think it will stop with Catholics, you’re already wrong. And if it’s allowed to continue, the Senate will succeed in instituting an unconstitutional religious test.

 


Editor’s Note: A version of this article was published by Fox News. Click here to read it.

Thanksgiving: A Day to Honor the Lord

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Thanksgiving is a time to remember the ways in which the Lord has blessed us. It’s a time to reflect on where we are, and how we got there. In this spirit, we offer the following commentary by former-CWA National Field Director Barbara Plating. It is taken from Barbara’s November 2004 Prayer Action Leaders Memo (PALM), the regular update to leaders of CWA prayer chapters.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year. It’s to important to recall the history behind it as we celebrate with family and friends and give thanks to God.

When the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth on that fateful day in November 1620, little did they know they would set a pattern in motion that would bless this land from “sea to shining sea.”

William Bradford, Pilgrim historian and governor, wrote the following about their arrival in his book Of Plymouth Plantation: “Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element. And no marvel if they were thus joyful.”

Bradford continued to wonder at “this poor people’s present condition no friends to welcome them, nor inns to entertain or refresh their weather-beaten bodies, no houses, or much less towns to repair to, to seek for succor.

“Whichever way they turned their eyes (save upward to the heavens) they could have little solace or content in respect of any outward objects. For summer being done, all things stand upon them with a weather-beaten face; and the whole country, full of woods and thickets, represented a wild and savage hue. If they looked behind them, there was the mighty ocean which they had passed, and was now as a main bar and gulf to separate them from what weak hope of supply and succor they left behind them. What could now sustain them but the Spirit of God and His grace?”

Indeed, the Lord did sustain them. Sixteen men were sent from the ship to gather firewood that cold November day. Along with the firewood, the men found an abandoned cache of corn buried in a large iron pot. This was their introduction to the food that would later save their lives. It reminded Bradford of the Israelites when they sent spies into the Promised Land and returned with abundant fruit.

During their first fall in the new land, the Pilgrims harvested a bounty that was cause for a celebration. They shared that bounty with the Indians around them. For three days, the Pilgrims hosted Indian Chief Massasoit and 90 of his tribe of the Wampanoag, as well as the lone Patuxent Indian Squanto, whom the Pilgrims likened to a latter-day Joseph.

Squanto was a fierce Patuxent Indian who had been captured and taken to England by Capt. George Weymouth. Squanto learned English so he could provide critical information to help the English establish colonies in the best locations. After nine years in Europe, he returned to New England, where he was again captured and taken to Spain to be sold into slavery. Rescued by local friars, who taught him to know Jesus Christ as his Savior, Squanto soon attached himself to an Englishman bound for London. He had returned to his homeland a mere six months before the Pilgrims arrived.

Finding the land deserted by his tribe, Squanto wandered aimlessly and was befriended by Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoags. He stayed with the tribe through the winter. The following spring, Samoset, chief of the Algonquins, discovered the Pilgrims and sent for Squanto and Massasoit to meet with them. When the Pilgrims learned Squanto’s story, they realized that God had prepared him through slavery-like Joseph-to save them from famine. Squanto taught the Pilgrims to fish, stalk deer, plant corn and pumpkins. He taught them about herbs for cooking and medicinal purposes and other things necessary to survive in the new land.

Squanto learned from Samoset that a mysterious plague had killed his tribe four years earlier. Fear had kept other Indians from settling the land, making it the only safe ground in that part of the country for the Pilgrims to settle.

The Pilgrims celebrated their first Thanksgiving with an abundance of food, but later that fall there were more mouths to feed as others arrived from England. This began to deplete the stores of food and during the Pilgrims’ second winter; they were ultimately reduced to a ration of five kernels of corn per day. Through all of these trials, they shared what they had and cared for the sick left in their care. They continued to trust in the Lord who never abandoned them.

In future Thanksgivings, the Pilgrims would place five kernels of corn on their plates to remind them of that second severe winter, which tested their faith doubly. The Pilgrims focused on giving thanks as a way of life.

I will extol You, my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever. Everyday I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts. I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works. (Psalm 145:1-6)

CWA Calls for President Trump to Ensure Full Release and Religious Asylum to Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi

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Washington, D.C. — In 2010, Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman, was sentenced to “death by hanging” for blasphemy against Islam. Her crime for the death penalty was allegedly making derogatory remarks about Islam to her neighbor. After this mother of four spent eight years on death row, Pakistan’s Supreme Court overturned her conviction on October 31, 2018.  However, this decision was condemned by Pakistani Islamist parties — most prominently by the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party, which sparked mass protests in major cities and continued to call for her imprisonment and death.  Succumbing to pressure, on November 2, the Pakistani government signed an agreement with TLP to bar Asia Bibi from leaving Pakistan while the Supreme Court ruling in her favor is under review for possible error.

Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America, issued this response:

“Asia Bibi’s life is obviously in grave danger.  Islamists are calling for her beheading. Two Pakistani politicians, Governor Salmaan Taseer and Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, were assassinated for supporting her release and opposing Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Dozens more people in Pakistan have been killed as a result of blasphemy accusations.

“If any religious persecution case is critical and in need of quick attention, it is the case of Asia Bibi. This is a landmark verdict in Pakistan as two distinct groups — those promoting religious tolerance and the fundamental Islamists who oppose it — battle over the future of Asia Bibi. It is extremely rare that a blasphemy case is overturned in Pakistan, and we must act quickly.

“As the leader of religious freedom around the world, the U.S. must remain committed to promoting the tolerance of religious minorities and respect for the fundamental human right of religious freedom. As the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization, with religious freedom as one of our core issues, we ask President Trump to call for the full release of Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi to allow her to exit safely from Pakistan. And as she is in dire fear for her life, we ask President Trump to grant Asia Bibi religious asylum in the U.S. as soon as possible.”

 


For an interview with Penny Nance contact Annabelle Rutledge at [email protected] or 916-792-3973.
Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee is the legislative arm of Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization with members across the country, over 450 Prayer/Action Chapters and Home Teams, 600 trained leaders, and over 30 years of service to our nation. For more information visit www.concernedwomen.org

CWA Files Brief on Important Religious Liberty Case

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Aloha Bed & Breakfast v. Cervelli

Phyllis Young operates the “Aloha Bed & Breakfast” out of her home, renting about three rooms to guests in Hawaii. The house is a four-bedroom house that is not sectioned off. Guests are treated as part of the family during their stay.

For these reasons, as a Christian, Phyllis applies the same rules to guests that she would to family members. She does not facilitate sexual relationships outside of marriage as defined by her Christian beliefs. This means that she would not rent one room to unmarried couples or those in a same-sex relationship.

When two women in a same-sex relationship sought to rent a room with her, Phyllis declined, and they filed a complaint with the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission for sexual orientation discrimination.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, representing Phyllis, argued that Hawaii’s public accommodation law, which makes sexual orientation discrimination unlawful, did not apply in this situation because of the nature of the business (renting only three rooms in her primary residence).

The Constitution also protects the free exercise of religion so that Phyllis should have the right not to promote behavior that her faith teaches is immoral. She should be able to conduct her small business in a way that can respect her deeply held religious beliefs.

As we have seen in other cases, the lower courts have ordered Phyllis to violate her Christian beliefs if she wants to make a living. This is a plain violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Americans should be able to operate a business according to their deeply held religious beliefs and without being compelled to endorse a government-approved view that contradicts those.

That is why Concerned Women for Americas has joined a brief asking the United States Supreme Court to take the case and reverse the lower court’s decision penalizing Mrs. Young for refusing to condone that which is contrary to her faith. In it, we argue:

Mrs. Young, the homeowner, acted out of her religious conviction that renting a single room to other than a married husband and wife would engage her in facilitating and endorsing immoral sexual conduct. She not only held a sincere belief to that effect, well buttressed by Biblical teaching, but her action in refusing quarter to the unmarried and same-sex cohabitants was conduct protected by the First Amendment’s prohibition of state interference with her free exercise of religion and with its similar prohibition of interference with her freedom of assembly, which incorporates the right not to associate with those engaging in behavior with which one disagrees.

The brief was filed alongside the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Samaritan’s Purse, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, the National Legal Foundation, and the Pacific Justice Institute sending a strong message to the Court of the importance of the religious liberty interests and concerns at play.

Please continue to pray for this case and the justices as they consider this case in the coming weeks.

A Call to Prayer for CWA Members: International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church 2018

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On November 4, the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, Concerned Women for America (CWA) will join thousands of Christians all over the world in praying for those who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. Will you join and pray with us? As Americans, God has blessed us with a country abounding in prosperity and founded on freedom of religion, belief, and conscience — all of which we enjoy and continue to fiercely defend. But, in our busy and full lives, sometimes we forget that our sisters and brothers in Christ around the world are being persecuted for the same beliefs and endure political, economic, or social discrimination, beating, imprisonment, and even tortuous death.

According to a Pew Research Center report in 2015, Christians are “harassed”in more countries than any other religious groups in the world; Christians are harassed in a total of 128 countries, a number which increased from 108 in 2014. Harassment includes both social hostilities and government restrictions and takes many different forms, such as verbal or “physical assaults, arrests and detentions, desecration of holy sites, and discrimination … in employment, education and housing.”

A pertinent example of growing harassment against Christians is in the People’s Republic of China. This week we learnedthat the Chinese government, in its escalating campaign to “Sinicize” religion and solidify loyalty to the Communist Party, has closed and raided churches in Beijing and several other provenances, burned Bibles, destroyed crosses, and forced Christians to sign statements renouncing their faith. Freedom House reportsthat since 2012, when Xi Jinping took over the Chinese Communist Party, religious persecution for all religion in China intensified. China’s 72 to 102 million Catholics and Protestants experience moderate to high levels of persecution, and protestants, who make up 60-70 million of China’s Christians, have in particular experienced a rise in government campaigns to remove their Christian crosses, demolish their churches, and punish their leaders and the human rights lawyers who defend them.

According to the U.S. Department of State, China has been designated as a Country of Particular Concern since 1999 under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for either “engaging in or tolerating particularly severe violations of religious freedom.” As Secretary of State Pompeo commentedin the International Religious Freedom Report of 2017 about the state of religious freedom in China: “In China, the government tortures, detains, and imprisons thousands for practicing their religious beliefs.”

Like in China, all around the world the news reports and pictures of persecuted Christians can be overwhelming. Truly, it can be hard to understand what we can do individually, but this is why our prayers for the protection and freedom of our brothers and sisters are so important. Will you commit to prayer with us?

Throughout September and October, in anticipation of the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on November 4, CWA will send you updates on persecuted Christians around the world. We will also offer weekly prayer suggestions that you, and your Bible study, prayer group, or church may use to join with us in prayer.  At the end of October, CWA will sponsor an event at Capitol Hill dedicated solely to praying for our Christian brothers and sisters.  We hope that you and your communities will join with us in agreement and “pray without ceasing.”

 

Dr. Shea Garrison, Vice President, International Affairs, Concerned Women for America

 

How to Protect International Religious Freedom from the Politicization of Human Rights

By | National Sovereignty, Religious Issues, Religious Liberty | No Comments

Join CWA for a panel event co-sponsored by The Heritage Foundation on “How to Protect International Religious freedom from the Politicization of Human Rights”. This event is a side event for Secretary of State Pompeo’s Ministerial for Advancing Religious Freedom held at the U.S. Department of State July 24-26th 2018.

Panelists will discuss how our “natural” or fundamental human rights, such as religious freedom, protect the fairness of the political process by ensuring that individuals are free to think, speak, and act according to their convictions. Increasingly the human rights of individuals are being conflated with the social and economic policy priorities of particular groups and governments.  This undercuts the moral legitimacy and persuasive power of our natural rights, including our freedom to live according to our religious convictions.