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Religious Liberty

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

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

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.

 

Capitol Hill Brief — 100 No More

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

 

We’re looking back at God’s many blessings for Concerned Women for America in 2017, and we cannot forget to thank God for his hand directing our 100 No More rallies around the country.

One of the least known facts about the abortion industry and Planned Parenthood is its disturbing connection to population control and eugenics.

The effects are still felt today. Approximately 35% of all abortions in the United States are performed on African-American women, while they represent only 13% of the female population of the country.

This has been a burden for me personally, and that is why Concerned Women for America has been holding rallies to ask the tough questions about abortion and race and what most not be ignored.


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 — Pro-Life Victories

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

 

Friends, as the end of the year approaches, it gives us a chance to reflect on what the Lord has graciously allowed us to accomplish this year.

On the pro-life front, we have seen many advances.  With President Trump in the White House, one of the first things we were able to see through was the re-implementation of the Mexico City Policy, that halted international funds to organizations the perform or promote abortions abroad.

We also finally put an end to the hideous Obamacare contraception mandate that held the Little Sisters of the Poor and many other pro-life organizations hostage, paying for abortion and abortion-inducing drugs.

Those are major victories that get us excited about 2018.


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 — It’s Christmas

By | Blog, Capitol Hill Brief, News and Events, Religious Liberty | No Comments

 

It’s Christmas Day! What a wonderful time to reflect on the birth of our Savior and God’s goodness.  Scripture tells us that, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).”

And that is the thought I’d like to leave with you today.  God is near.

I know 2017 was a tough year for many, but we must never equate adversity with the absence of God.

So, I lift up a prayer for you today wherever you are, whatever situation you are going through, that you may experience Immanuel, God with you.

Merry Christmas!


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 — Merry Christmas

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

 

What do we celebrate on Christmas?  That, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” That we witnessed, “His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

There’s no bigger truth for us as Christians.  This is the good news we live and preach.  Therefore, this season is about reflecting on what is truly important. It is a season of sharing that grace we have received through the birth of our Savior.

So, from all of us at Concerned Women for America, we hope you have a Merry Christmas.  May you experience the joy and piece of the Son of God in your life, wherever you are.


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.