Obama: Between Iraq and a Hard Place
It took Christian families fleeing into the mountains and innocent children being beheaded, but the Obama administration is finally engaging in Iraq. As men and women are driven into the night with only the clothes on their backs, the President, facing growing criticism for his inaction, authorized limited U.S. airstrikes. Their targets: a radical fringe of jihadists determined to exterminate the country’s dwindling non-Muslim population.
A reluctant President Obama, who has stood by as Christians were told to convert or be killed, announced the decision to bomb ISIS last night. Even then, he couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge the gravity of the crisis, calling it a “potential act of genocide.” After months of religious persecution, the administration’s hand was finally forced when thousands were trapped on Mount Sinjar without food and water. While we’re grateful to see the White House take a stand against the religious genocide in Iraq, the question on everyone’s minds is: is it too little too late? Short of sustained and aggressive action, there are few options but to write the epitaph for the oldest, continuous Christian community in the world.
Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Va.), a one-man campaign for religious liberty in the Middle East, has held the administration’s feet to the fire on the plight of Middle East Christians in speech after speech on the House floor. Yesterday, Rep. Wolf joined me on Washington Watch, pointing out that this is both a human rights crisis and a national security issue. “The humanitarian aid and targeted airstrikes announced last evening should be followed with a robust effort by the administration to provide assistance to the Kurdish government -- including allowing them to sell their oil in order to have the resources to defend their territory and defend the Christians and other religious minorities who have sought their protection.”
For the last three weeks, Congressman Wolf has, in statements and in letters to the President, outlined “five additional steps the administration could take immediately to further stop this genocide, including signing legislation that has been sitting on his desk for the last two weeks to create a special envoy for religious minorities in the Middle East.” Since 2011, the President has said, “preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States of America.” Unfortunately, his actions prove anything but. “Just what is the point of having an ‘Atrocities Prevention Board’ if it takes no action to prevent or stop atrocities?” Rep. Wolf fumed.
As former Ambassador John Bolton said on Fox this Wednesday, the ineffective leadership of President Obama has the world devolving into chaos. In my opinion, it’s more than ineffective leadership. World stability and American security have been jeopardized -- not just because the President is jayvee team material, but because of his deliberate decision to put the LGBT agenda above everything else -- including religious liberty.
As we saw at this week’s African leaders summit, normalizing homosexuality is the administration’s answer to everything. Asked what the continent could do to spur economic growth, the President suggested, “treating people of different… sexual orientations fairly and equally.” Meanwhile, the real opportunities for bridge building on key issues -- like religious liberty -- took a backseat, as people from Nigeria to Sudan die by the thousands for their faith.
A simple survey of the WhiteHouse.gov website shows just how lopsided this administration’s priorities are. The President’s LGBT references outnumber mentions of religious persecution in speeches, press releases, and other public remarks, by more than 4 to 1. They say that actions speak louder than words -- but in this case, actions are words. While Meriam Ibrahim sat shackled to a Sudanese prison wall, the administration was too busy giving special workplace benefits to homosexuals to help the mother of two American children. (Now, ironically, that same ENDA executive order may prevent humanitarian organizations that are already on the ground in Iraq and best-equipped to help the suffering from offering aid.)
Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.) pointed out the administration’s misguided agenda in the Q&A part of my Hill testimony for Meriam. The State Department is more concerned with pushing the LGBT agenda than defending religious freedom, he said. Advancing homosexuality “trumps everything” in foreign policy, Smith said, even though “it’s not a heavy lift” for the President “to stop playing golf long enough to pick up the phone and tell Sudan to release the Americans.”
Missouri Loves Company -- from the Gideons!
There have always been “no fly” zones in the military -- but now there’s a “no faith” zone too. With religious freedom under attack, most troops are scared to even talk about their beliefs. And who can blame them? Under President Obama, the military bans Bibles, but builds Wiccan fire pits for cadets. It tells soldiers to stay away from religious websites, while its missile defense staff spends hours surfing pornography at work. It tears down crosses in Afghanistan, but lets soldiers march in uniform in gay pride parades.
Fortunately, more service members than ever are standing up and fighting -- not just for their country -- but for their constitutional rights. Their courage is having an immediate impact at the Pentagon -- where officials are slowly starting to retreat from their politically correct agenda and defend the freedom their troops deserve. Two weeks ago, the Missouri National Guard cancelled plans to visit a Vacation Bible School. We encouraged you to call the National Guard to express your concerns and you responded in an overwhelming way. Your voice was heard!
Just this week, the Missouri National Guard was threatened by the American Humanist Association to stop making Gideon Bibles available to new recruits. Instead of backing down as they did two weeks ago, the Pentagon is backing up the Guard’s decision to allow the distribution. After all, the government wasn’t offering the Bibles, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command pointed out.
The Secretary of Defense’s office agreed. “Non-Federal entities may request and when authorized in writing by the unit commander may place secular or religious literature for use (including, but not limited to, Bibles, pamphlets, tracts, and texts) in a location on the base or recruiting station designated by the commander,” said Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Christensen. “In this particular case, guidance is provided by Army Regulation 165-1 which allows for the display of religious materials, including Bibles,” the Army Times reported.
For FRC, which has been on the front lines of the military religious freedom debate, this is a decision worth celebrating. As our own Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (Ret.) said, “The National Guard leadership is demonstrating that they understand the First Amendment and that they don’t intend to roll over to the bully tactics of the atheist groups who represent an incredibly small and ill-informed percentage of the American public. These groups care nothing about constitutional rights; they’re motivated by an agenda that is simply anti-Christian and anti-Constitution.”
In Iowa, We Ames to Please!
With the presidential race just two years away, Iowa is about to become a very busy place. FRC Action is getting a head start in the state, co-sponsoring The Family Leadership Summit this weekend with other national and state organizations. I’ll be speaking at the event, along with FRCA’s Josh Duggar. We’ll be joined at the Summit by some familiar -- and favorite -- faces, including Governors Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal (R-La.), and Rick Perry (R-Texas); Sens. Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Tim Scott (R-S.C.). The festivities kick off in Stephens Auditorium in Ames, Iowa at 10:00 a.m. this Saturday, August 9. If you aren’t in Iowa, you can stream the event live at TheFamilyLeader.com! We’ll also be hosting a special breakfast for Iowa pastors tomorrow morning. To find out more click here.
** If you’re looking for some weekend reading, check out Ken Blackwell’s new Townhall column, Crocodile Crock: Sir Elton Attacks Christian Missons -- and We’re Paying for It!”
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.