Meriam is Free!
One can only imagine the emotional roller coaster that Meriam Ibrahim and her family have been on in the last few weeks as she has gone from prison chains in Khartoum to having a conversation with the Pope in Rome. Late last night, a Member of Congress that we've been working with to secure the release of Meriam called to alert me to the fact that Meriam had departed Sudan for Italy.
The message was also to thank the many supporters of FRC for enabling us to advocate for Meriam and her family, and the thousands like her, keeping the issue of religious freedom before the American people and members of Congress. I was told to tell you, the supporters of FRC -- thank you -- your efforts have saved the lives of a mother and her children.
I also want to express our gratitude to several members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who have worked to secure Meriam's freedom and facilitate her entry into the United States. Particular thanks to U.S. Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Chris Smith (R-N.J.), and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who were very instrumental in Meriam's release.
Additionally, I want to applaud the efforts of other Members of Congress like Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) who were deeply involved in securing Meriam's freedom. I also thank the European governments that worked to secure her release.
As I said yesterday in my testimony before House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee, religious freedom is a core American ideal, an ideal that we must defend at home and abroad. Because indifference to religious persecution abroad can only lead to greater religious intolerance here at home.
While religious intolerance is growing here in the United States, what we face pales in comparison to what Meriam and others like her are confronted with. Yes, there will be those who will mock you and call you names for standing for biblical truth. The intolerance may even reach the level of losing your livelihood at the hands of the intolerant because you refuse to deny Jesus and the teachings of the Word.
We should all be challenged by the courageous example of Meriam to stand uncompromisingly for our faith in Jesus Christ. Consider her courage; a 27-year old mother in a deadly Sudanese prison, eight months pregnant, her toddler son at her side, facing death by hanging for her Christian faith. She was given the opportunity to walk through the door to freedom, if she would just renounce Jesus Christ. Despite certain death for herself and nothing but uncertainty for her children, she said she could not, she would not deny Christ. Tonight at 9:45 PM ET, I will join Fox News "Kelly File with Megyn Kelly" to discuss the very latest on Meriam and her family's escape to freedom.
Rubio Makes His Marc on Marriage
While a number are silent, and other libertarian-leaning politicians appear to be divorcing themselves from social issues like marriage, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has been ratcheting up his pro-family message.
In a powerful speech given yesterday at Catholic University here in Washington, D.C., Sen. Rubio made the case for marriage as the foundation of a promising future for all Americans. He emphasized that families headed by married mothers and fathers are the single most important source of economic and educational attainment and social stability, and noted that "the final element of the success sequence is raising children in a married, two-parent home."
The Senator then went where many of his colleagues fear to tread -- the very nature of marriage itself. "The union of one man and one woman is a special relationship that has proven to be of great benefit to our society, our nation and our people, and therefore deserves to be elevated in our laws." However, he said, "there is a growing intolerance ... towards those who continue to support traditional marriage ... and I promise you that even before this speech is over, I will be attacked as a hater, a bigot, or someone who is anti-gay. The intolerance in the name of tolerance is hypocrisy."
He didn't stop there, either: He boldly affirmed the sanctity of unborn life and the need to help women in crisis pregnancies. "An unborn child should be welcomed into life and protected in law. It seems to me a decent, human society will take tangible steps to help women with unwanted pregnancies even as that society defends an unborn child's right to live."
"The words, 'One Nation Under God' are not symbolic," he went on to note. "America was founded as the place where people could have the liberty to enjoy fully the rights given to them by God."
I commend Marco for his speech and for drawing a clear line of distinction between those who will stand up for what they believe in and those who shrink back in fear. Senator Rubio's speech can be viewed in full here and read on his website.
This is one of our key missions: provide policy makers with the actually research to show empirically that that the family is the core of our society, spiritually, socially and economically. As FRC's Marriage and Religion Research Institute says, "the intact married family that worships weekly is the greatest generator of human and social positive outcomes and thus it is the core strength of the United States."
IRS Looks to Pulpits for Culprits
Since 2008, thousands of pastors across America have annually observed "Pulpit Freedom Sunday," an initiative of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) that challenges the IRS's rules on what churches can and can't say about elections. The project actually got its start at an FRC pastors conference in 2008. For this year's event, I am serving as the national chairman.
ADF urges pastors to boldly preach God's Word as it applies to public policy and politics without fear of the IRS. Since 1954, America's pulpits have been effectively muzzled by unconstitutional IRS code. This is why for the last six years ADF has hoped that a test case would develop that it can use to challenge the IRS -- even going so far as mailing the IRS recorded sermons. The IRS has yet to provide a test case, but that may be about to change. Following a lawsuit filed by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the IRS has agreed to begin monitoring churches for violating its policy on pulpit speech. Erik Stanley, ADF's senior legal counsel, in response to the IRS announcement, told LifeSiteNews that "the IRS has no business censoring what a pastor preaches from the pulpit." Erik sees this as a great opportunity to "bring the era of IRS censorship and intimidation to an end..." "No one would suggest a pastor give up his church's tax-exempt status if he wants to keep his constitutional protection against illegal search and seizure or cruel and unusual punishment," he added.
It's an honor to partner with ADF in standing up for the free speech rights of our nation's clergy, and putting an end to this culture of intimidation. The latest polling shows that more than two-thirds of Americans believe our country is on the wrong track. The reality is that the problems we face in our nation are not just political and cultural, they are spiritual in nature (Eph. 6:10-13). Consequently, these problems ultimately require a spiritual solution administered by spiritual leadership. That is why we are championing pastors to transform America. This year's Pulpit Freedom Sunday will be held on Oct. 5. Please click here for more information.
** Yesterday at FRC headquarters, historian George H. Nash warned the audience that despite conservatives having made great strides in the last 30 years -- facilitating the fall of communism, reaching a plateau of intellectual acceptability in the academy, and establishing a strong network of nonprofits and countercultural options in education and the media - the movement cannot afford to rest on its own laurels. Watch Dr. Nash's full lecture to hear how conservatives must come to terms with competing impulses within the movement.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.