Senate Gets Blunt about Religious Liberty
Most conservatives can probably count on one hand the number of times a Republican bill has gotten 100% Democratic support. Yesterday was one of those rare moments, as Senators on both sides of the aisle embraced Sen. Roy Blunt's (R-Mo.) bill to protect religious liberty abroad. While Iraq, Syria, and Egypt explode in faith-based turmoil, the plight of Jews and Christians has gone virtually unnoticed by the Western World (with the exception of the occasional hashtag campaign).
As tragic as Meriam Ibrahim's story has been, her imprisonment has helped raise the urgency of America's involvement overseas. With the State Department slow to respond to her crisis -- which until recently, included a death sentence and flogging for her Christian faith -- the void once filled by the U.S. is painfully apparent. As FRC's Leanna Baumer explains, the Senate took an encouraging step forward in forcing the State Department to prioritize the freedom of religion in diplomatic efforts by passing its Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act.
After a year of idling in the Senate, conservatives finally broke through the negotiations and resolved any concerns about cost. By creating a special envoy, Congress is cutting through some of the State Department's bureaucracy and providing the rapid response necessary to beat back these attacks on human rights. Passing this measure was a priority for FRC as we explained the importance in a letter to members of Congress, "Providing a representative to the Near East and South Central Asia who focused exclusively on these issues, is a direct way to communicate that these egregious acts of religious violence are morally unacceptable and at odds with the strategic interests of the United States."
The bills of Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Va.), who led this campaign to passage in the House, and Sen. Blunt would take a critical step toward protecting the vulnerable religious minorities in each of these volatile countries. In reopening the debate last year, Rep. Wolf pointed back to the President's own comments on religious persecution. "We can't say 'never again' and then allow it to happen again, and as a president of the United States, I don't intend to abandon people or turn a blind eye to slaughter.'" "I wish," Wolf added, "and more importantly the suffering people of [the world] wish, we had seen an ounce of that moral clarity and conviction since you took office."
Never has there been a greater need for freedom's voice to speak into the darkness of religious oppression. We're grateful that members of both parties see the need to push for that moral clarity -- before it's too late.
Going to Carolina in My Mind...
This week in North Carolina, Watchmen Pastors attended meetings to encourage one another in their call as the spiritual leaders. We are dealing with a spiritual crisis in our communities, not a political issue. Our Vice President of Church Ministries, Kenyn Cureton, reminded the many pastors from the midsection of North Carolina the role pastors had in our founding days as a nation retelling the amazing story of James Caldwell who the British with great venom went after; burning his church to the ground, burning his house to the ground, and even murdering his wife while she held their baby in her arms. Pastor Caldwell stood and called men into the battle for what was right.
Later, Pastor Mark Harris, a candidate in the recent U.S. Senate primary, gave testimony to the call God is placing on righteous men and women to run for office no matter what your standing in the community. We have forgotten that, "the foundational pillars of all government and of social life are virtue, morality and religion." Noah Webster said. If we do not have righteous men and women sitting at the gates of the city, man without God will undo and tear down these great supports.
Pastor Rick Scarborough of Vision America brought his testimony of being pulled into the cultural battle because of the assault on his daughter in the public school. The pastors were given many tools they can utilize now to encourage each other and their congregations in leading and ministering to their communities. All politics are local and this is where our work must begin: in our own community, our own back yard, and in our own families. One of the ways we are engaging the pastors and their churches is showing the latest tools to register their congregations and ready the people to lead in their community, state, and at the federal level.
Partners for Faith, Family, and Freedom!
It's the heart of the summer season -- a time of year when folks traditionally take time off to spend with family. But Family Research Council is not slowing down! We can't afford to turn a blind eye to what's happening in America for even one minute. And thanks to the faithful support and prayers of friends like you, FRC continues to work hard on your behalf to advance faith, family and freedom in public policy and the culture from a Christian worldview. So would you consider taking advantage of a special program we have just for you -- our closest friends?
FRC's Monthly Family Partners program allows you to conveniently and automatically partner with FRC each month from your bank account or credit card -- no gimmicks. As a monthly partner, you'll become a vital part of the FRC team promoting life, marriage and religious liberty on Capitol Hill, in the media, and across the nation. Your ongoing financial support greatly increases FRC's ability to voice your values in the essential policy debates that affect America's families.
As a small token of our appreciation, for a limited time, when you sign up to be a Monthly Family Partner you'll receive two free items including our FRC coffee mug. Click here to learn more about becoming a Monthly Family Partner with FRC and how you can make a difference today.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.