Trump Hits Abortion Abroad Side

Trump Hits Abortion Abroad Side

May 15, 2017

This president doesn't think small. From a border wall to beefing up the military, Donald Trump's vision is like his larger-than-life personality. And for pro-lifers, who are used to some politicians doing the bare minimum, that's been a pleasant surprise. Today, they'll be thrilled to know the administration went big on something else: the Mexico City Policy.

Wait a minute, some of you are thinking. Didn't the president already reinstate it? He did -- back in January. But this morning, the White House took a giant leap forward, outdoing Presidents Bush and even Reagan with the actual implementation of the rule. In a policy dating back to every Republican administration since Ronald Reagan's, Trump continued the tradition of blocking even a single U.S. cent from going to any foreign group that performs or promotes abortion as "family planning" overseas. But unlike other administrations, this White House is significantly expanding how and where the rule is applied.

In what the president is calling the "Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance" policy, the administration is multiplying the impact well beyond the Department of State. For the first time ever, the White House isn't just bringing $600 million in taxpayer funding under the authority of the pro-life rule, but $8.8 billion from the Departments of State, Health and Human Services, and Defense. That's almost 15 times more money flowing through the abortion ban than President Bush's policy! "I direct the Secretary of State, in coordination with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, to the extent allowable by law, to implement a plan to extend the requirements of the reinstated Memorandum to global health assistance furnished by all departments or agencies..." President Trump wrote. "I further direct the Secretary of State to take all necessary actions, to the extent permitted by law, to ensure that U.S. taxpayer dollars do not fund organizations or programs that support or participate in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization."

As one White House official told The Brody File, "The pro-life policy will apply to global health assistance funding for international health programs, such as those for HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, malaria, global health security, and family planning and reproductive health." As most people will tell you, the inclusion of the DOD is probably the single greatest change, since the order affects all global health assistance funding -- not just "family planning" dollars. Talk about making an immediate impact! There's no telling how many thousands of unborn lives this policy will save simply because Donald Trump dared to step out and do what 83 percent of Americans wanted: end taxpayer funding of overseas abortion groups.

As a Marist poll pointed out in January, Americans overwhelmingly support Trump's move to slash tax dollars for abortion groups -- even more so abroad (83 percent). In four short months, the new administration has systematically fulfilled a number of key campaign promises. The Mexico City Policy's implementation should reassure everyone who's questioned the merits of the president's recent executive order on religious liberty. If conservatives doubt this president's sincerity on the issue, they shouldn't. At the very least, he deserves the chance to implement the order before people judge how effective it is. All he's done these first 120 days is prove the critics wrong. I'm confident his religious freedom protections will be no different.

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

Stature at Liberty

May 15, 2017

When President Trump chose the college to deliver his first commencement address, he couldn't have picked a better one than Liberty University. And I'm not just saying that as LU alum! The message he delivered with that decision was just as important as the one he delivered at the podium. Once again, Donald Trump showed how much he values the Christian community and how committed he is to standing with them for the change they voted for in November. But the improbability of his win isn't lost on the president either. With a wry smile, he told the crowd of 50,000, "It's been a little over a year since I've spoken on your beautiful campus and so much has changed. Right here, the class of 2017 dressed in cap and gown, graduating to a totally brilliant future. And here I am standing before you as President of the United States, so I'm guessing -- there are some people here today who thought that either one of those things, either one, would really require major help from God. Do we agree?"

And with that, President Trump kicked off a speech that could not have been better -- not just for the graduates, but for every American hungry to see true freedom restored to their nation after eight long years of Barack Obama. The president didn't shy away from those topics either. Throughout his talk, he touched on a number of issues close to evangelicals' hearts. "America has always been the land of dreams because America is a nation of true believers," he said. "When the pilgrims landed at Plymouth they prayed. When the Founders wrote the Declaration of Independence, they invoked our creator four times, because in America we don't worship government we worship God. That is why our elected officials put their hands on the Bible and say, 'So help me God,' as they take the oath of office. It is why our currency proudly declares, 'In God we trust,' and it's why we proudly proclaim that we are one nation under God every time we say the pledge of allegiance."

To loud applause he promised, "We will always stand up for the right of all Americans to pray to God and to follow his teachings." He wasn't just speaking to Liberty grads, but to his largest base of support: evangelicals -- who remain overwhelmingly supportive of the president. And his comments Saturday are a large reason why. "America is better when people put their faith into action. As long as I am your president, no one is ever going to stop you from practicing your faith or from preaching what's in your heart." And the administration is already taking steps to guarantee it. Not only is his rhetoric encouraging, but so is the record he's building to back it up. We've seen him tackle his pro-life agenda with a passion few expected. We've watched him make good on his vow to defend religious liberty. And we've seen him appoint principled men and women as leaders at every level of government and the courts.

"Following your convictions means you must be willing to face criticism from those who lack the same courage to do what is right. Be true to yourself, your country, and your beliefs," President Trump urged. "Always have the courage to be yourself." If anyone has that courage, it's this president. And we're grateful for the ways he's used it to advance our most cherished values. We look forward to seeing how this White House will continue defending religious liberty so that these graduates will have the freedom to do what the president challenged them.

For more on the significance of Trump's address, check out my interview this morning with Shannon Bream on Fox News "America's Newsroom."

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

United by the Cross

May 15, 2017

By FRC's Travis Weber, Director of the Center for Religious Liberty

"No one has suffered more than our Lord Jesus Christ," observed a visibly emotional Franklin Graham in the opening session of the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians, hosted by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association last week in Washington, D.C. As persecution of Christians around the world reaches record levels, this first-of-its-kind event brought together over 600 Christians from over 130 countries, many of whom have firsthand experienced persecution for their faith.

I attended the summit as a Special Advisor on religious freedom and heard unbelievable firsthand accounts of stonings, beatings, and torture for Christ. The overarching theme in all these testimonies was even more unbelievable, however, for it was not doom and gloom, but the obvious joy and presence of the Holy Spirit. The only way such a response -- which runs against all that is in our nature -- is possible is through the power of God. "What a privilege it is to suffer for Jesus!" was the theme that permeated all the stories, despite the fact that the accounts came from Christians of different backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicities. For they all followed Jesus through hardship, and God sustained and strengthened them by the Holy Spirit as they did.

The summit also featured testimonies from speakers closer to home, like Fire Chief Cochran from Atlanta, who was fired from his job for his faith. It was heartening to see them alongside speakers from around the world, for though form of persecution may be different, all are suffering for the same core beliefs -- historic Christian truths held for thousands of years. In this way, there is continuity and solidarity between Christians across borders. Indeed, the suffering and example of many helps us in our own trials.

In addition to the multiple testimonies, other speakers included Ravi Zacharias, Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church, Pastor Jack Graham from Texas, Cardinal Donald Wuerl from Washington, D.C., Bishop Michael Nasir-Ali from the U.K., and Pastor Sami Dagher from Lebanon, who blessed the participants with their messages and encouragement.

I wish every Christian in the country could have been present at the event, for it is difficult to share many of the stories of people whose lives would be put in immediate danger if they were publicized. But I firmly believe that no one who heard the accounts of these followers of Jesus standing joyfully for Christ through torture and other hardship could go back to their lives in the United States and not be strengthened and encouraged to joyfully face opposition and name-calling for standing for God's truth on sexuality and the other issues we face here at home. In this regard, believers from hard places do indeed encourage the U.S. church.

While these believers may encourage us spiritually, we can (and must) speak up for them practically. They often have no voice to speak to the corridors of power, and we in the West have an incredible responsibility to steward our freedom and opportunity well; this includes speaking up for those who can't speak up for themselves. In this regard, we continue to call upon President Trump (as we have done before) to prioritize religious freedom in U.S. foreign policy, including by appointing a strong advocate to the position of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.

In addition, we urge Congress to take up and pass the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2016, which would bring relief and remedy to those Christians and others who have suffered under ISIS' genocide in the Middle East. Congressman Chris Smith, who introduced this bill (and who also addressed the summit), has done great work to highlight the issue of persecuted Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Vice President Pence also addressed the summit on Thursday morning, giving a splendid articulation of the U.S. defense of religious freedom and the persecuted church. On a personal note, he encouraged the persecuted Christians gathered there, "by your life, you bear witness to the truth that brings us together here at this summit," and he told them: "We stand with you."

This summit was monumental, and the first time such a gathering of world-wide Christians was assembled. The Holy Spirit was there, and I believe it was God-ordained, taking place for "such a time as this." Indeed, there is no better time than now to start using our freedom here at home to speak up for our fellow persecuted believers abroad -- doing all we can, with sincere prayers and forceful action. Let us respond to the call.

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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