Air Force Tries to Brush off Christian Painter
When it comes to religion, the Air Force really is the picture of intolerance. Yesterday, we told you about a California-based artist who was shocked to discover that one of his prints, the fifth in an inspirational "Heroes" series, was considered too offensive for an Idaho military base. The portrait, which -- until last week -- hung in the Mountain Home Air Force Base dining hall, was first released after 9/11 in honor of the brave sacrifice of America's law enforcers. Apparently, the brief tagline, "Blessed are the Peacemakers" from Matthew 5:9 makes the piece "repugnant" and "odious" to objectors, who demanded its removal. With the word "Integrity" stenciled across the bottom, the image is an innocent portrayal of a modern-day policeman with a faint picture of a white knight behind him.
Ron DiCianni, the artist behind the portrait, says he was stunned -- first to hear the print was on the installation, and then to hear that it had been torn down. He and his son, Grant, who oversees Tapestry Productions, never dreamed that the Heroes series would be controversial. In their first public statement since the incident, Ron explains how "deeply saddened" they are by the military's censorship.
It's regrettable, he says, "to see the apparent hostility of Pentagon leadership to a message that is clearly in keeping with the foundation of this country and the Air Force -- and whose communication is clearly protected by the First Amendment." Although the DiCiannis didn't send the artwork to the base, they understand why someone would think a piece called "Blessed Are the Peacemakers" would be appropriate. "The military is an embodiment of the ultimate peacemaker, a pursuit blessed in Scripture. It would seem this is a message that the Air Force should be willing to foster, not censor."
Since Fox's Todd Starnes broke the story on Friday, Ron has repeatedly reached out to the Air Force base, in part to ensure the artwork isn't destroyed. "This act of religious censorship appears to reflect the assurances that senior Pentagon officials provided to anti-Christian crusader Mikey Weinstein during a recent meeting at the Pentagon, that they would begin [regulating] religious expression in the military." In a message to supporters, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation bragged that "the Pentagon most certainly is listening to Mikey Weinstein" -- a not-so-veiled reference to Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen's statements last month, attempting to distance officials from Weinstein.
If the Pentagon isn't taking orders from the Foundation, why did it snap to attention when Mikey called? The wing commander at Mountain Home scurried to do Weinstein's bidding, ushering out the painting "in 56 minutes" as if it were the single greatest threat to national security.
Talk about a double standard. Congress should continue to push until the DOD adopts a department-wide policy ending the attacks on Christianity and allowing service members to freely practice their faith. Join us in calling on Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (703-692-7100) to stop this cycle of religious suppression and lead the military back to America's core values.
He's Got the Whole World in His Hands...
If the President doesn't respect America's views on marriage, what makes us think he would respect other countries'? Certainly not his latest USAID project. In April, to relatively little fanfare, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) embarked on one of the most shocking abuses of taxpayer dollars in the last five years. With help from the Levi Strauss Foundation and millionaire liberal Tim Gill, the U.S. government is spending $11 million to train homosexual activists in other countries.
The Washington Blade, D.C.'s gay newspaper, praised the Obama administration for creating an army of international lobbyists for same-sex "marriage," anti-discrimination laws, and homosexual "rights" around the world. According to USAID, the first phase of the program is focused on countries with a strong Catholic influence: Ecuador, Honduras, Guatemala, and other developing nations that oppose homosexuality.
This week, the first in a series of USAID "gay trainings" took place in Colombia, a nation specifically targeted for its rejection of same-sex "marriage." The goal, an agency spokesman says, is to teach people how to infiltrate the political process and advocate for laws that a majority of Americans, who are paying for the program, object to. "It can be a real game-changer in the advancement of LGBT human rights," she insisted. In essence, U.S. taxpayers are being forced to groom the next generation of the world's Human Rights Campaigns -- a stunning exploitation of Americans' money, and more importantly, their trust.
For the Obama administration, this is just another part of its strong-arm strategy to bully other nations into compliance. Whether it's through the United Nations, U.S. embassies, or the State Department, President Obama is leading the effort to bribe and coerce poor countries into accepting his pro-homosexual agenda. Our friends at Family Watch International are urging people to get involved. They've released a shocking new documentary highlighting the President's dark world of "Cultural Imperialism." Click over to their website to see a five-minute clip or the full feature. Be prepared to be outraged.
Groups to Congress: Let Our Conscience Be Your Guide!
August may be a slow month for Congress, but it threatens to be a frantic one for America's religious groups. At midnighton August 1, the President's reprieve for faith-based organizations will officially be over. The ObamaCare mandate, ordering faith-based groups to cover abortion pills and contraception, will finally kick in -- forcing religious charities, hospitals, schools, and nonprofits to comply with the rules or be punished. Unless Congress acts, several charities will have to choose between ending their health care programs or closing their doors altogether. Neither option would be necessary if Congress attached the "Health Care Conscience Rights Act" (H.R. 940) to the next piece of must-pass legislation. At FRC's prompting, 63 organizations, representing millions of Americans, signed a letter to Speaker John Boehner, urging House leaders to include the language in the next high-priority bill. To read the letter, click here.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.