Dialogue with a Demagogue

Dialogue with a Demagogue

September 10, 2018

Barack Obama is hitting the campaign trail -- and no one could be happier than Republicans! The former president stepped back into the spotlight last Friday, campaigning for a Congress that he spent his entire two terms ignoring. In a speech to University of Illinois students that was equal parts smug and self-righteous, the 44th president's antagonism was a potent reminder of what voters rejected in 2016. And not a moment too soon.

Almost two years to the day that Hillary Clinton gave her fateful "deplorables" speech, Obama proved that Democrats still haven't learned how to control their contempt for millions of conservative Americans. With a sanctimony that people learned to despise, one of the most polarizing presidents in history had the nerve to lecture Americans on demagoguery. Implying that Trump supporters are "bigots" and "fearmongers," Obama went on to blame Republicans for tearing the country apart. "...The politics of division and resentment and paranoia has unfortunately found a home in the Republican party," he said. This from a man who made Middle-America bashing a professional sport in his eight years at the White House. Who dismissed blue-collar patriots "bitter clingers" who turn to religion and guns because they're too ignorant to know better. Who called political opponents "unpatriotic" or even "craz[y]."

Republicans like Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) fired back at the hypocrisy almost immediately, posting, "Pres. Obama is right. It is wrong for a President to use divisive language, such as: 1. Call all opponents of same-sex marriage bigots; 2. Call the Pro-Life movement a 'War on Women;' 3. Call all immigration enforcement advocates racists; 4. Call the GOP the enemy of Hispanics." On Fox News, Judge Jeanine Pirro said that if Obama was looking for someone to blame for the animus, he ought to look in the mirror. "Your lies, your policies, and your divisiveness... You elected Donald Trump."

To evangelicals, his longtime punching bag, he tried to preach a decency he rarely practiced. "Even if you are an evangelical and our position on certain social issues is a bridge too far... I'm here to tell you that you should still be concerned with our current course and should still want to see a restoration of honesty... and lawfulness in our government." So let me get this straight. The president whose reign included an attorney general who was held in contempt of Congress, an administration that refused to enforce federal law, and misled Congress and the American public with meaningless executive orders wants to lecture evangelicals on lawfulness? That's like Judas lecturing Matthew on proper accounting principles.

Two years is a long time, but it's not long enough for the American people to forget the man who built a bigger bypass around the Constitution than I-495! His administration was synonymous with lawlessness. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) chronicled 76 examples of it by 2014 alone. The president who said, "Middle class families can't wait for Republicans in Congress to do stuff. So, sue me," is sermonizing on political authority?

"He used his 'pen and phone' to circumvent the will of Congress," Chris Pandolfo fumed. "He sicced his IRS on conservative organizations for opposing his agenda. He ran a gun-running "Fast and Furious" program that put illegal firearms in the hands of violent criminals. His administration spied on Fox News reporter James Rosen. His communications director Anita Dunn said the Obama White House would treat Fox News "the way we would treat an opponent." Obama lied about keeping your doctor, lied about the Iran nuclear deal, lied about NSA spying, lied about how easy it is to buy a gun, and lied repeatedly throughout his presidency."

And that's just the tip of the overreach iceberg. The courts have an equally impressive tally, having rebuked and overturned the administration on everything from recess appointments and immigration to Obamacare mandates.

Not content to sit in the shadows and watch Trump rack up victories on the economy, unemployment, trade, and denuclearization, Obama tried desperately to take some credit for the president's successes. In a sad attempt to rewrite his disastrous financial legacy, he told the students, "Let's just remember when this recovery started. I'm glad it's continued, but when you hear about this economic miracle that's been going on, when the job numbers come out, monthly job numbers and suddenly Republicans are saying it's a miracle, I have to kind of remind them, actually, those job numbers are the same as they were in 2015 and 2016 and -- anyway. I digress."

The former president can talk all he wants about jumpstarting the economy, but the numbers speak louder than any stump speech soundbite. In reality, Barack Obama presided over "the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression." It was so awful, CBS's Michael Graham pointed out, that "in August of 2011-- two years after the $1 trillion stimulus was passed -- the economy added zero jobs." Vice President Mike Pence was just as surprised as anyone else that Obama would try to "tout policies that resulted in less than two percent growth, saw tax increases, Obamacare regulation, and doubling the national debt. [I]t was very disappointing, but frankly I think it just illuminates the choice the American people had in the midterm elections."

"If we don't step up," Obama said, "things could get worse." Worse, as in more take-home pay, a stronger military and economy, peace with North Korea, and a return to free speech, religious liberty, and respect for life? If that's the Left's best argument heading into November, then political strategists are right. Obama is doing more to help conservatives out of the White House than he ever did in it!

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

Giving Acredit Where Acredit Is Due...

September 10, 2018

The Left's attempts to silence the public voice of citizens and institutions of faith has been in full swing now for at least a decade, starting in earnest with the presidency of Barack Obama in 2008 and continuing today. Examples of this persecution continue to pile up, with the latest instance being a proposed guideline change to the standards used for accrediting American colleges.

The First Amendment guarantees the rights of citizens and private institutions to publicly hold religious beliefs and behavioral moral standards. This principle was affirmed in the Higher Education Act of 1965, which specifically upheld the rights of schools to have a religious mission.

But in a clear move to squelch religious liberty, the Higher Learning Commission, which provides the guidelines for accrediting colleges for federal recognition, put forth a draft proposal that removes language related to the treatment of "diverse populations," which had previously said that a college's treatment of its student body may "reflect attention to human diversity as appropriate within its mission and for the constituencies it serves."

The commission's language slight-of-hand is not going unnoticed by believers in academia. Colorado Christian University President Donald Sweeting recently spoke out against the commission's proposed change at a public hearing in front of the U.S. Department of Education, pointing out that "certain institutions could face negative repercussions with regard to their accreditation simply for being true to their religious mission."

If this language were put into effect, Sweeting warned, it would give the commission "the prerogative to decide whether a school sufficiently 'ensures inclusive and equitable treatment of diverse populations.'" It's not hard to see where this road leads. If a religious school were to be deemed insufficiently "inclusive," their accreditation could be withdrawn, leading to the school's loss of federal student loans and grants.

Government backlash against religious schools has already begun in earnest in Canada, whose Supreme Court ruled this past June that Trinity Western University could be legally stripped of its accreditation by law societies in British Columbia and Ontario because of its public stance on the biblical view of marriage and sexuality.

This same pattern of behavior by governing bodies like the Higher Learning Commission is anything but surprising. The clear goal of the Left is to impose the full weight of the government against any person or institution who believes in the biblical view of marriage and sexuality. This goal was clearly stated by President Obama's Solicitor General Donald Verilli during oral argument in Obergefell v. Hodges.

Continued government attacks on religious liberty will unfortunately only persist, which underscores the need for clearly spelled-out legislation like the proposed First Amendment Defense Act. But even new laws won't ultimately stop every attack on religious liberty. It's ultimately up to every believing citizen to speak up if they find themselves being attacked for their religious beliefs. Know that FRC and our allies stand ready to defend anyone who is willing to publicly stand for what they believe in.

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

A Fragile China Deals with Religious Crackdown

September 10, 2018

While the U.S. is beginning to see a revival of religious freedom, not all of the world is so fortunate. In China, Christians are watching in disbelief as the government takes a more violent approach to faith -- burning Bibles, boarding up churches, destroying houses of worship, and even ordering people to "sign papers renouncing their faith." The crackdown is so severe that even major news outlets like the AP are making noise about it.

President Xi Jinping is taking a heavier hand, despite (or maybe because of) a booming religious revival. Now, activists say, he's "waging the most severe systematic suppression of Christianity in the country since religious freedom was written into the Chinese constitution in 1982."

They can certainly attest to that in Beijing. One large church, where the government was trying to install security cameras, refused to go along with the plan to spy on the congregation. In response, Chinese officials stormed into the building and shut down worship services. "I fear there is no way for us to resolve this issue with the authorities," Pastor Jin Mingri told Reuters. Like a lot of Christians, he knew what would happen if the government could monitor their activities. So, the congregation has decided to hold their Sunday services outdoors.

ChinaAid Founder Bob Fu, who's joining us at this year's Values Voter Summit to honor Frank Wolf and talk about some of his work on international religious liberty, warns that this is a "significant escalation" against people of faith. "The international community should be alarmed and outraged for this blatant violation of freedom of religion and belief," he wrote... "Now that the Chinese Communist Party has started to burn Bibles and coerce millions of believers in the Christian faith and other religious minorities to even sign a written pledge to renounce their basic religious beliefs, the international community should be alarmed and outraged at this blatant violation of freedom of religion and belief and demand the Chinese regime stop and remedy this dangerous course."

Fortunately, members of the Trump administration -- including Ambassador at Large Sam Brownback -- are aware of the situation, and, more importantly, willing to step up and do something about it. As FRC's Vice President for Policy Travis Weber said, "The 'management' of religion which China seems to perpetually engage in is now flaring up into more overt hostility. It is up to all freedom loving nations to stand together against such interference with our ability to freely worship."

China's escalating attack on Christians and other religious minorities was a subject of discussion at today's monthly meeting of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). It's clear that Americans cannot become complacent with the restoration of religious freedom here at home while Christians and other religious minorities are dying for their faith abroad. We must continue to pray and to act!

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

Get Your Kids out of Government Schools -- Right Now, Today

September 10, 2018

Find out why in a new op-ed by FRC's Cathy Ruse and her husband, Austin. The situation is bad, they argue, and getting worse.

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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