In Syria, Christians at a Crossroads
While the U.S. teeters on military action in Syria, one population is pleading with the West to reconsider: orthodox Christians. As the situation deteriorates in the Middle East, the Syrian Christian community is exposed, vulnerable, and worst of all, shrinking. Driven out of the country by the hundreds, Syria's Christian community finds itself in the crossfires of a civil war that threatens to purge the country of a religious population whose only desire is a peaceful coexistence with others.
That dream seems very much at risk today, as the remnant of Syrian Christians -- once 10% of the nation's population -- are forced out by radicals bent on imposing Islamic law. In June, Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.) warned about the consequences of inaction and called on President Obama to protect the Syrian church, which statistics show are "even more fearful for their lives and safety than the rest of the Syrian population."
And rightly so. On June 27, the violence escalated, as a suicide bomber took the lives of four innocent people in the Christian neighborhood of Damascus.In July, an Italian priest -- also from Damascus -- disappeared. Two months later, rebels with ties to Al Qaeda are suspected in his killing. The Middle East has always been a dangerous place for Christians -- but never more so than now, as the persecuted church looks desperately to the West for help in ending the violence.
Those Christians who haven't been driven out of the region live in fear of physical attacks, maiming, rape, imprisonment, torture, and kidnappings. Unfortunately for them, America's foreign policy has a history of ignoring the plight of Christians -- most recently in Iraq, where the population has dwindled from one million people to under 400,000 today. In Egypt, the U.S. has stood by and watched as 1,600 year-old churches are destroyed and the church is left, not only without the protection of the government, but also as the extremists' greatest target.
Powerless to stop the persecution, Christians have two options: flee or be killed. Neighborhoods that were once home to Syria's faithful, some of the oldest religious communities in the world, are virtual ghost towns now. One local Christian says families rushed to pack up their possessions with "little plan to come back." Rebels roamed the streets, terrorizing the families. "We were tied and blindfolded and pushed down on our knees," a man said. "One of the kidnappers leaned so close to my face I could feel his breath. He hissed: 'Why don't you become a Muslim? Then you can be free.'"
Meanwhile, the brave men and women who refuse to uproot their families continue to ask for help -- to no avail. "We spoke to western diplomats asking for help, and everyone ignored us." Not surprisingly, the Obama administration, which has shown little interest in protecting religious liberties in this country, continues to ignore the rights of Christians overseas.
As the Syria debate presses on in Congress, we urge members to take into consideration the plight of these Christians, who are trying to live out their faith in the midst of one of the worst human rights crises of modern times. For more on the atrocities, check out Ken Blackwell's new Washington Post column," Christians in the Crosshairs."
Rice Goes against the Grain on Marriage
The media can spin the news, but it can't rewrite the facts on same-sex "marriage." Social scientist Mark Regnerus made that quite clear in his analysis of public opinion on the topic. Leaning on new Rice University research, the University of Texas professor debunks the convenient storyline of most of reporters -- which is that there's an avalanche of support for homosexual "marriage" that puts conservatives squarely on the "wrong side of history." Rice's Michael Emerson and Laura Essenburg studied the attitudes of 1,300 adults in 2006 and 2012 and found less support for same-sex "marriage" than polls like Gallup and CNN typically find. In fact, Regnerus writes, "in 2012 53% of those surveyed agreed that the only legal marriage should be between a man and a woman, while 13% sat on the fence, and 33% disagreed with the statement.
Second, they detected no statistical significant change in overall sentiment on same-sex marriage over those six years. Third, some things did change -- minds -- and not all of them toward favoring same-sex marriage." In a separate poll, George Barna found that the resistance to counterfeit marriage was actually increasing among evangelical Christians (from 95% to 98%). Like FRC, Regnerus credits most of the inflated support for counterfeit marriage to the line of questioning used in the surveys. Gallup, Regnerus points out, insists on "priming" its respondents with leading questions about the legality of homosexuality, which helps produce a more desired outcome on later queries about marriage.
Regardless of how any survey house is trying to influence the numbers, Regnerus explains, a lot of minds are far from made up on the issue. And the real-life testimonies of business harassment and Christian discrimination will only make it more difficult for Americans to come to grips with the phenomenon. Just last week, the Christian bakery in Gresham, Oregon that turned away a same-sex "wedding" cake order was forced to close its doors after months of threats and boycotts. Once the reality of this persecution -- not just for wedding vendors, but for any religious businessman or parent -- sinks in, Americans may finally get cold feet about this march down the same-sex "wedding" aisle.
What Can Brown Jeopardize for You?
While much of the country is moving to protect women, leave it to the California government to try to make them more vulnerable. In a shocking new bill, which is sitting on the desk of Governor Jerry Brown as we speak, the Golden State is poised to let non-doctors perform first-trimester abortions. The legislation, which sailed through the legislature, would entrust midwives, nurse practitioners, and other health professionals with an abortion procedure that already poses significant risks to women's safety. Under AB 154, these mothers would be without the watchful care of a medical doctor, who is best equipped and trained to handle the procedure and its complications. As it stands, abortion centers in a number of states are already woefully underregulated -- a problem that hit home with most Americans during the Kermit Gosnell trial.
Obviously, Governor Brown and the state's liberals are content to move the abortion business to the back alley, where safety is secondary to profits -- exposing the fact that money is the real motive. What's more, bills like California's only make it easier for Planned Parenthood and other clinics to offer abortion at a lower cost (albeit at greater risk) enabling them to prey on more women -- particularly low-income moms. This is the real war on women. And it's time for Americans to wake up and fight back.
** Everything you've heard about women in combat is wrong. Find out why in a special policy lecture with FRC's Robert Maginnis, Senior Fellow for National Security. Tomorrow, September 4, Lt. Col. Maginnis (USA-Ret.) will be discussing his new book, Deadly Consequences: How Cowards Are Pushing Women into Combat, at FRC headquarters (801 G Street, NW, Washington, D.C.) at noon. Join us Wednesday as we explore the motives behind this feminism run amok. Click here to register!
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.