Category

Religious Liberty

Manchester Reminds Us the Church Must Be Engaged

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

At least 22 died yesterday and another 120 more were injured (so far) after a bomb detonation at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England.  It is an incredible tragedy.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families, and they are also against the forces of evil behind this attack.

We often refer to these attacks as “senseless” acts of violence, and though I sympathize with the sentiment, truth is they are nothing of the sort.  As we have come to expect, ISIS has now claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing.  These attacks are purposeful, encouraged, and driven by an ideology with tangible goals.

World governments must fight back against it in terms of their political and territorial aspirations.  But this enemy cannot be defeated through these efforts alone.  Their goals are primarily spiritual, and that is why the Church is so important.

As Paul reminded us in 2 Corinthians 10, “[T]hough we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (NIV).

Our spiritual weapons can attack what military forces can’t — the ideology. Verse 5 of that 10th Chapter in 2 Corinthians reminds us, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (NIV).

It is a battle of ideas that manifests itself in these acts of violence.  Therefore, destroying the ideas, demolishing their arguments, is how true victory against this evil group can be attained.

So, there is an ironic twist to this.  We, as the Church of Jesus Christ, must take a look at ourselves, instead of ISIS.  It is we who must focus on the basic principles of our faith.  Take on that full armor of God (Ephesians 6) to be ready and able to war against the devil’s schemes.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms,” Paul reasoned (Ephesians 6:12, NIV).

He commanded us to put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the boots of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit.

But we have slacked off on Paul’s exhortation.  The belt of truth has been gone for so long, even our trousers have been lost, leaving only our shame.  We’ve forgotten the definition of righteousness altogether.  A watered-down Gospel is preached in order to make it palatable to the new generation.  The shield of faith?  We’ve used each other as shields ever since “believe in yourself” has become our motto.  The helmet of salvation has become more of a baseball cap, easily blown by the slightest wind.  And we’ve traded our antiquated swords of the Spirit (which is the Word of God, according to Paul) at the local pawn shop for a more practical spirituality that fits our lifestyle.

It is impossible to fight (much less win) the spiritual battle before us in such a sad state.

Let us turn back to our God then.  For He is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 103:8 ESV).

Let us go back to the Scriptures.  Let us go back to love.  Back to obedience.

The passage in 2 Corinthians 10 concludes with that exhortation: “[W]e will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete” (verse 6).  Once our obedience is complete.

This can be accomplished through prayer which Paul does not forget as he completes the description of the full armor of God: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people,” (Ephesians 6:18, NIV).

I pray our Christian convictions will impress on us these important principles of our Christian faith, that we may remind each other in the days ahead as we prepare ourselves to deal with the next “Manchester.”

Our One Motivation

By | Blog, Defense of Family, Education, National Sovereignty, News and Events, Religious Liberty, Sanctity of Life, Sexual Exploitation, Support for Israel | No Comments

As women who are concerned for America, why do we do what we do? Why support lobbying efforts, write letters to Congress, make phone calls to the White House, and give our money to support these endeavors?  And why do we pray? It’s because we know the one true God.

We support human life from conception, because we know that every child is “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139).

We reject gender fluidity, because we know “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27).

We work against sexual exploitation and homosexual “marriage,” because we know that marriage is God’s good design, a mystery that points beautifully to Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:32).

We oppose overbearing government control of education, because God instructs parents to teach their children diligently (Deuteronomy 6:7) and bring them up in the instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).

We advocate for religious liberty, because we know that, ultimately, the truth will win out and will set people free (John 8:32).

God created the universe. He put every star in its place. He designed the Earth and sculpted the mountains. He established the seas and fashioned a diversity of animals. He formed man out of the dust of the Earth and breathed life into him. Trying to live without acknowledging our Creator is like covering our eyes and ears and stumbling about in the dark. Knowing God brings us into the light. His word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Ps. 119:105).

Knowing the God who brings meaning to life motivates us to continue to lobby, write letters, make phone calls, give money, and pray! We must persevere to glorify Him. And we must persevere in knowing Him through His Word.

Keri Folmar was press secretary for Concerned Women for America in the 90’s and now lives in the Middle East where her husband, John, is the pastor of the United Christian Church of Dubai. She has recently written The Good Portion: The Doctrine of Scripture for Every Woman and has published several Bible studies for women.

Good First Step on Religious Freedom by President Trump

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

The pressure to criticize, cynically mock and downplay anything President Donald Trump does is considerable these days.  I, like many, many, Americans have decided to give the frustrated their space to vent, while I focus on bringing about positive change in the best way I can.

Today, that means I want to praise President Trump for taking such a clear, strong stance in favor of religious freedom, by signing his religious liberty executive order today.

It does not go unnoticed that he did so today, bringing renewed attention to our oft-forgotten National Day of Prayer, and that he commemorated it with a beautiful ceremony in the Rose Garden.

It was so refreshing to see the President of the United States acknowledging and boldly standing in support of the Little Sisters of the Poor, who had been so unjustly dragged into court, all the way to the Supreme Court, by the previous administration.  The moment President Trump asked them to stand with him on stage was the highlight of the day.

Some might dismiss that as insignificant.  I choose not to do that.  To me, it sends a clear message that will reverberate at every level of government and much of the culture.  My daughters got to see that.  Because of their age, they had never seen anything like it, all they know is President Obama.

The contrast is stark.  President Trump said today:

Faith is deeply imbedded into the history of our country.  The spirit of our founding and the soul of our nation … Today my administration is leading by example, as we take historic steps to protect religious liberty in the United States of America.  We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore.

President Obama, on the other hand, stood with the bullies of religious people.  Recall, on the topic of judges, for example, President Obama said he wanted judges concerned with specific groups, and religious people were emphatically not included among those he wanted to protect.  He said:

We need somebody who’s got the heart— the empathy – to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor or African American or gay or disabled or old — and that’s the criteria by which I’ll be selecting my judges.

President Trump’s first selection to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, you may remember, is a champion of religious liberty with a proven track record of upholding the First Amendment right in cases like the Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius and Little Sisters v. Burwell.

Today, President Trump said, “No American should be forced to choose between the dictates of the federal government and the tenets of their faith.”  I am grateful for those words.

Here is what the exact language of the main section of today’s Executive Order states:

Section 1Policy.  It shall be the policy of the executive branch to vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom.  The Founders envisioned a Nation in which religious voices and views were integral to a vibrant public square, and in which religious people and institutions were free to practice their faith without fear of discrimination or retaliation by the Federal Government.  For that reason, the United States Constitution enshrines and protects the fundamental right to religious liberty as Americans’ first freedom.  Federal law protects the freedom of Americans and their organizations to exercise religion and participate fully in civic life without undue interference by the Federal Government.  The executive branch will honor and enforce those protections.

The executive branch’s hostility towards religious persons and groups was not a small problem under the Obama Administration.  Here is a simple refresher that came out with the IRS scandal where they demand groups “detail the content of your members’ prayers.”

That is how bad the culture of the executive branch got under the Obama Administration.  President Trump’s clear policy directive will go a long way to correcting some of these abuses.  He can show, not only that these abuses were wrong, but that they were simply unnecessary, and no president should benefit from such illegitimate tactics.

 

Sec. 2Respecting Religious and Political Speech.  All executive departments and agencies (agencies) shall, to the greatest extent practicable and to the extent permitted by law, respect and protect the freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech.  In particular, the Secretary of the Treasury shall ensure, to the extent permitted by law, that the Department of the Treasury does not take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship, or other religious organization on the basis that such individual or organization speaks or has spoken about moral or political issues from a religious perspective, where speech of similar character has, consistent with law, not ordinarily been treated as participation or intervention in a political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) a candidate for public office by the Department of the Treasury …

This is the part that aims at the “Johnson Amendment” which generally prohibits non-profit organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates.  Like, with the IRS problem, the issue in this area, more than the law itself, is the abuse and misuse of that law to intimidate churches and pastors.

The IRS, atheist groups and other groups, like the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, would use vagueness and empty threats to intimidate pastors into silence on political, cultural and social issues by urging “caution.”

In the same way, President Trump’s simple effort to make clear where his Administration’s pressure points lie can have a significant positive effect on religious liberty.  More needs to be done, no doubt, but the truth is that even though the First Amendment should be enough, these small administrative changes can have considerable impact.

Finally,

Sec. 3.  Conscience Protections with Respect to Preventive-Care Mandate.  The Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate promulgated under section 300gg-13(a)(4) of title 42, United States Code.

Again, you can see here the beginnings of something much needed, even while acknowledging that more is to come.  This section is directed at people like the Little Sisters of the Poor and other individuals and groups that should not feel hostility from the federal government as they engage in the public square.  Sec. 4 similarly instructs further action from the Attorney General to “issue guidance interpreting religious liberty protections in Federal law.”

All these small steps are good and a very encouraging development for our country.  President Trump should be commended, even as we encourage him to take further action.

Capitol Hill Brief — Texas Bathroom Safety Bill

By | Blog, Capitol Hill Brief, Religious Liberty, Sexual Exploitation | No Comments

 

If you want to protect your family’s freedom and safety, join Concerned Women for America. Our members and state leaders are making a difference daily in their states.

Our state director in Texas, for example, Dana Hodges, recently testified in favor of SB-6, a bathroom privacy bill that will protect women from the recent push to allow men in women’s private facilities.

Dana gave a powerful testimony where she spoke from personal experience.  She said, “The reason I’m so passionate about seeing this [bathroom] bill passed into law is because I myself was a victim of being videotaped by a hidden camera placed in a women’s public bathroom stall by a man.”

The bill passed out of committee 7-1.


Protect your First Amendment rights. Speak out and tell President Trump how important religious liberty is to you and your family. Sign this powerful petition today. Visit www.CapitolHillBrief.org. If you’d like to hear these commentaries on the radio, find me on your local radio station.

 

Capitol Hill Brief — Gut-Check Moment

By | Blog, Capitol Hill Brief, Religious Liberty | No Comments

 

This is a gut-check moment for American Evangelicals.  Our brothers and sisters in Egypt are being exterminated, and we cannot continue to be silent.

For too long, we’ve been content to swill our lattes on Sunday morning while passively “experiencing” worship.  Meanwhile, our Coptic Christian brothers and sisters risk being blown to bits to join their hearts in worship and respond to pure evil by joining hands to recite the Nicene Creed. I am personally convicted and determined to do my part to help us grasp the situation.

As we continue in constant prayer, let us contact the White House and ask President Trump to do everything he can to offer assistance to our brothers and sisters in Christ.


As Christians, we have a responsibility to protect our persecuted brothers and sisters and defend religious liberty worldwide. Visit www.CapitolHillBrief.org to sign our petition to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson today! If you’d like to hear these commentaries on the radio, find me on your local radio station.

 

Capitol Hill Brief — Thank You!

By | Blog, Capitol Hill Brief, Religious Liberty | No Comments

 

Yesterday was a bright and sunny, joyful day as I was able to witness the swearing in of Justice Neil Gorsuch in the White House Rose Garden.

I have already thanked you, our Concerned Women for America members, for all you did to support his nomination.

But we must also pause and thank President Trump who kept his promise in nominating someone in the mold of Justice Scalia.

Also, we must thank Senate leadership.  Majority leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, and all senators who stood united for this outstanding nominee.

They were not all Republicans, by the way.  Despite the media’s spin, Judge Gorsuch enjoyed the support of several Democratic senators, and that is a great testament to his incredible qualifications.


Join us on the front lines. Fight to defend critical issues, like the sanctity of life and religious freedom. Together we’ll bring Biblical, constitutional values back to our nation. Visit www.CapitolHillBrief.org to see how you can help. If you’d like to hear these commentaries on the radio, find me on your local radio station.

 

 

From Judge to Justice: Gorsuch Confirmed with Bipartisan Support

By | Defense of Family, Education, National Sovereignty, News and Events, Press Releases, Religious Liberty, Sanctity of Life | No Comments

Washington, D.C. –Today, Judge Gorsuch, soon-to-be Justice Gorsuch, was confirmed 54-45 to be the next Associate Supreme Court Justice of the United States with bi-partisan support.

Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America, had this to say:

“Today we witnessed a historic victory for our country. One that proves government ‘for the People, by the People’ is alive and well. The Senate overcame historic partisan obstructionism and restored original Senate precedent.

“On behalf of our members, I want to thank Leader McConnell, as well as Sen. Grassley, for their decisive leadership, which gave the American people a voice in November on the kind of justice they believed should fill the Supreme Court vacancy.

“I also want to thank President Trump for keeping his promise to nominate a constitutionalist judge to the Supreme Court. It is hard to imagine someone better suited to serve on our nation’s highest court than Judge Gorsuch.

“Judge Gorsuch follows the law wherever it leads, regardless of personal opinion or political preference. His constitutional jurisprudence makes him an ardent defender of the rights that keep us free.

“Judge Gorsuch will elevate the proper role of the judiciary and refuse to legislate from the bench. He is what America needs in this time of partisan dysfunction and obstructionism from the far left-the bipartisan support for his confirmation is proof.

“I would be remiss not to thank the Democrats who had the conviction to listen to their constituents rather than toeing the party line. I applaud their willingness to rise above the political fray in favor of their constituents.

“In spite of partisan gridlock, we see the symphony of the three branches of government and their checks and balances function as our Founders intended.”Our prayers continue to be with Judge, soon-to-be Justice, Gorsuch and his family as they begin this new chapter.”

For an interview with Penny Nance contact Janae Stracke [email protected] 712-269-1724.

Capitol Hill Brief — Final Vote Day

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

 

I want to congratulate you today!  Judge Neil Gorsuch will be the next Justice of the Supreme Court, and you, as a member of Concerned Women for America, helped make that happen.

In Judge Gorsuch, we have a Justice who is committed to the Constitution and the laws enacted by congress, as written.  We have someone who respects his role as a judge and will not legislate from the bench.

We have someone who respects the sanctity of human life and religious liberty.

Thank you for making a difference through CWA as we work together to protect our freedoms.  And if you haven’t join CWA yet, what are you waiting for?  Visit our website today and join the fight!


Join us on the front lines. Fight to defend critical issues, like the sanctity of life and religious freedom. Together we’ll bring Biblical, constitutional values back to our nation. Visit www.CapitolHillBrief.org to see how you can help. If you’d like to hear these commentaries on the radio, find me on your local radio station.

Concerned Women Through History: Religious Liberty — Miriam, Anne Hutchinson, and Tanya Ditty

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

Freedom.  It’s something for which every human heart longs.  That opportunity to connect with God and seek Him.  Women throughout history have taught the world something about the need for freedom.

Miriam, from the book of Exodus, helped her brother Moses lead their nation out of slavery into freedom.  Retellings of this epic story often leave out that Israel’s freedom was fundamentally tied to the Israelites need to freely worship God which they were not allowed to do in Egypt: “Then say to [Pharoah], ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let My people go, so that they may worship Me in the wilderness. But until now you have not listened,’” (Exodus 7:16).  Israel’s Exodus reminds us that the freedom of nations is tied to the freedom of religion; one begets the other.

And God’s people, once free from Egypt’s grasp, had to make a conscious, willful decision to follow God.  Their religious freedom allowed them to choose rightly or wrongly: “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD,” (Joshua 24:15).

Likewise in America, people must choose whether to follow God, and be free and unhindered to do so according to their conscience.  In the early days of the colonies, Anne Hutchinson fought for our nation to be one founded on the principle of religious freedom, not one particular sect or denomination against others. In what would become the nation of “E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One),” Ann was ahead of her time in respecting conscience.  After her own specific religious beliefs lead her to part with the majority religion, she moved to Rhode Island and helped establish freedom of religion there.  She was laying the groundwork for what would become a great American value outlined in the eloquent words of the Bill of Rights: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

And today it’s Concerned Women for America of Georgia State Director Tanya Ditty who carries on this American legacy of religious freedom. She has stood up for our fundamental right to freedom of conscience — the right to think and believe what we want without fear of punishment.  She has fought tirelessly for religious freedom legislation in Georgia that ensures broad-based religious protections for all its citizens. She had this to say about the importance of religious freedom: “It is the bedrock of all liberty, and it must be protected now for the sake of the generations that come behind us.”

Blessings for future generations are such an important concept to America.  Ask God how you can be a part of ensuring a legacy of religious freedom in America.

 

Conservative Women Praise Trump’s Supreme Court Pick

By | Defense of Family, Education, LBB, Legal, News and Events, Press Releases, Religious Liberty, Sanctity of Life | No Comments

Washington, D.C. – Moments ago, President Donald J. Trump announced Judge Neil Gorsuch of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals as his choice to replace the late, great Justice Antonin Scalia at the U.S. Supreme Court. Penny Nance, President and CEO of Concerned Women for America (CWA), praised the nomination:

“Judge Neil Gorsuch is a superb choice. President Trump has kept his word and nominated someone who, by all indications, is “in the mold of Justice Scalia,” something the president repeated over and over during his campaign.

“This was a major issue that drove conservative women to the polls to overwhelmingly support him, and we are pleased to see him follow through on his commitment to the American people.

“The hundreds of thousands of members of Concerned Women for America now call on the Senate for a swift confirmation process.

Read More