Putting First Things First with Freedom


Putting First Things First with Freedom

January 17, 2018

Religious liberty isn't found in political proclamations, but in the policies they inspire. In the last administration, the challenge wasn't getting leaders to acknowledge Religious Freedom Day -- it was getting them to practice it the other 364. That's finally changed under Donald Trump, who wasted no time in beginning the process of repairing the foundation his predecessor destroyed.

One of the first things President Trump did last year was to put on his hard hat and start digging out the First Amendment from the wreckage of the last eight years. He dusted off a Constitution that had been buried under two terms of health care mandates, bathroom orders, same-sex marriage, and faith-based targeting and started the long, hard road of rebuilding America's credibility. Now, almost a year into the White House's salvage efforts, the fruit of the president's efforts are paying off.

Voters have been rewarded for their confidence in Trump with everything from a public campaign against the Johnson Amendment to an executive order on religious liberty. After eight years of using the government against men and women of faith, this administration started fighting for them. Family businesses like the Phillipses' and Vander Boons' watched the White House come to their defense, instead of joining the attack. Health care workers celebrated the new rules protecting their conscience rights. Damaged churches in Houston and Florida saw the FEMA aid roll in, when an old policy would have blocked it. Even "Merry Christmas" made a comeback.

But as far as we've come, there's still a long way to go. President Obama may be gone, but his spirit of religious hostility is alive and well in the Democratic Party. Just yesterday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made it clear that she's not interested in the First Freedom that built America. On social media, she blasted the president for his proclamation, telling him to stop "giving lip service" to religious liberty. (Of course, it's not lip service the Left is worried about. It's Trump's policy.) The ACLU piled on, tweeting that if the president cared about freedom, he'd relax his immigration rules. Funny, I thought Religious Freedom Day was about letting the people who are already here practice their faith. Either way, we've come a long way from 1993, when President Bill Clinton first set the day apart. Now, the same party can't even bring itself to celebrate the spirit of the freedom that made us all Americans in the first place.

Last night, during our "Washington Watch" special report, Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) talked about how threatened liberals feel by religion. "In our country... it shouldn't scare someone that I live my faith out, and someone who has a different faith is right next to me. As a government, we protect all of those individuals to be able to live out the tenants of their faith. The government shouldn't be partial in choosing one or the other – but neither should we restrict someone. And if you're confident in your faith, why would it intimidate you that the person next to you [holds] a different one? Live out the principles of your faith and let it make a difference."

In a culture increasingly willing to separate public and private faith, Lankford said he can sympathize with a lot of Christians under pressure.

"I've had folks poke me and say, 'You were 22 years in ministry before, but now you're an elected official, so you need to set that aside.' And I've smiled at them and said, 'Not only does Article VI of the Constitution mean I don't have to do that, which is specifically written for elected officials protecting their living of faith, but the First Amendment clearly does that. But quite frankly, it's one of our great frustrations with people -- that when they're elected, they become something different. If I was a person of faith at home, I should still be a person of faith here as well. Otherwise, I become something that I'm not."

Former Congressman Frank Wolf, who was the original author of the International Religious Freedom Act, helped our audience zoom out and look at religious liberty on the world stage. Unfortunately, he says, the crisis has only gotten worse. Despite President Trump's determination to make America a global leader on the issue, Wolf thinks it's the churches' responsibility to act.

"[O]verall, the church has fundamentally failed," he said soberly. "Most churches used to have a Religious Freedom Sunday where they would bring in somebody from Sudan and China. And now, they are almost all gone... Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, "Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act."... I don't see the church speaking and I don't see the church acting." When I asked him if he thought religious liberty was "better protected" today than 50 years ago, the former Virginia congressman replied simply: "No." "We have 5.5 billion people living in repressive nations," he explained. And "we don't have the leaders we used to... We need some men like Martin Luther King."

Lankford agreed. "We lose track of how different the American experiment still is about allowing people to have a faith and to live it even in greater diversity. Most countries of the world are not like that. We're at our best when we're promoting that... We need to set the example for that in America, and then help other nations push that in their countries." He's right. But that spark has to come from the pulpits and pews. Now that the president has opened the door, it's up to Christians to walk through. That starts with prayer. The one constant I heard from the persecuted people in Egypt and Jordan was, "Pray for us!" Maybe your church could consider adopting a country or person and commit to intercede regularly for them. Then, if you feel led, find ways to partner with groups like Open Doors USA or Voice of the Martyrs. Or host a Religious Freedom Sunday or another event to raise awareness for our brothers and sisters overseas. Whatever you do, do something.

"Freedom," Ronald Reagan warned, "is never more than one generation away from extinction." The world needs a spiritual awakening -- and that awakening starts with us.


Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


Chelsea Manning: The Voice of Treason

January 17, 2018

Chelsea Manning had a chance to serve his country -- and betrayed it. Now he wants to serve in the U.S. Senate. The former Army private-turned-transgender-activist stunned everyone this week by announcing a run for elected office, one year after he was pardoned for treason. Welcome to the new Democratic Party.

For most people, the idea would be outrageous even if Manning weren't sure which gender to identify with. This is, after all, a man who was convicted of war crimes against the very country he's running to represent. "All Manning would have to do," a Fox News commentator pointed out, "is swear another meaningless oath and promise to obey it this time to once again gain access to our national security secrets, which [he] could leak again if [he] wished. That should fill you with confidence."

Of course, the odds of Manning winning Senator Ben Cardin's (D-Md.) seat are long, even in Maryland, where support for gender confusion is alive and well. The Washington Examiner's Nicole Russell doesn't think that excuses him. "That Manning believes himself to be qualified at all for the position, aside from what he would do once he got there, is as appalling as it is absurd and shows how entitled this generation of transgender advocates have become." Reminding everyone of the suspicious timelines of his new identity. It was only after sentencing, she points out, that he claimed he felt female, wanted to be known as Chelsea, and demanded hormone therapy. "Strange timing, no?"

"From that point on, instead of letting him rot in a prison because of his treasonous behavior, he was given special attention and treatment related to his transition." Now, she thinks, he's using the same opportunism to win a place at the congressional table. "Manning's political aspirations demonstrate with spot-on clarity how the transgender movement is not about equality, but entitlement. He truly believes he deserves a chance to run for office, not because he served in the military honorably, or because he is qualified in policy, but because he has conquered the greatest social justice crisis of our time -- transitioning from one gender to another."

To the men and women who served their country honorably, or gave their lives for it because Manning didn't, the news is a sick joke. After all, this a proven felon who leaked more than 750,000 top secret documents—a crime that put countless Americans in harm's way. As far as FRC's Lt. General Jerry Boykin is concerned, there's no one less qualified for office than a man who betrayed his country. "Manning has done tremendous damage to America and should be serving the remainder of his prison sentence rather than planning for a run for the U.S. Senate in Maryland."

Although mainstream Democrats have been relatively mum on Manning's announcement, you don't have to look hard to see the uproar in the bases on both sides. The last thing liberals need after a radical social platform that cost them the White House is the poster boy/girl for transgenderism and anti-Americanism running for U.S. Senate. No wonder the Heartland's Democrats are telling their Washington leaders: "You're killing us." According to Politico, the same strategies that failed liberals in 2016 -- a hard-Left on issues just like this one – is threatening the party's chances in 2020.

"The number of Democrats holding office across the nation is at its lowest point since the 1920s," and political stunts like Chelsea Manning are a big reason why. Interviewing the people in rural America who cost Hillary Clinton the White House, Politico talked to Democrats who "fired guns and read the Bible." "Tell me how in the world Nancy Pelosi, or some of those folks in Congress [would] even be able to sit there and talk with [socially conservative Democrats like] Delmis Burns? Do they even know that a guy like Delmis Burns exists? That's why I say that the East Coast elitists have forgotten America. They've not been to America, they forgot America, they forgot about certain parts of America. Maybe they've done that intentionally. I hope they haven't."

"The Democratic brand," said Illinois state Rep. Jerry Costello Jr. warned, "is hugely damaged, and it's going to take a while to bring it back. Democrats in southern Illinois have been more identified by bathrooms than by putting people back to work." Republicans can only hope that the Democrats continue blaze a politically destructive trail with candidates like Manning.


Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


Planned Parenthood: Can't Bribe Me Love

January 17, 2018

It's bad enough that Planned Parenthood is in our wallets -- we don't need them in our schools! That was the message from a community of Washington State parents, who were horrified to learn that the abortion giant had pushed its way into the health classes of its kids under the guise of sex education!

More than 50 moms and dads crammed into the Grandview school district board meeting, demanding the district drop the controversial curriculum called "Get Real." "They give students the message that abortion is okay," said one parent. "It's totally against my belief," argued another. Before the dialogue even began, members of the board raced to reassure angry families that they had reconsidered the decision and were pulling the lessons from classrooms.

"Like I said," one member interrupted, "the 'Get Real' curriculum is gone. We're not going to have it in the school system." Unfortunately, what's not gone is Planned Parenthood's influence. According to Grandview Superintendent Henry Strom, Cecile Richards's group was more than happy to buy its way into the district, sending a $25,000 check for the schools to "get better technology for health classes." And while Strom rushed to rea ssure parents that the money wasn't a payoff for, say, access to students, not everyone is so sure. "There is not a requirement that you utilize Planned Parenthood's curriculum when you accept the money."

But it's not just anyone's money -- it's taxpayer money. Planned Parenthood has done a pile of criminal things in the last few years, but using federal dollars as an educational bribe? That's a new low, even for them.

Why would they bother? Well, let's not forget: Planned Parenthood doesn't make any money encouraging abstinence. Its strategy is to make sex appealing enough to young people so that they'll be the next wave of contraception users. Then, when the birth control it provides fails (as the group expects it will), those same teenagers become the next generation of abortion consumers. Right now, their monopoly on liberal sex ed isn't just profitable -- it's also a down payment on future business.

There were already plenty of reasons for Congress to stop funding the nation's largest abortion business. Grandview has another 25,000 more.


Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.



Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


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