Arabian Sights: A Future for Tolerance


Arabian Sights: A Future for Tolerance

October 31, 2018

Most Americans don't know a whole lot about the United Arab Emirates (UAE), except maybe for the Burj Khalifa -- the tallest man-made structure in the world. What they don't realize is that the UAE is also head and shoulders above a lot of their Middle Eastern neighbors in another aspect: religious tolerance. Compared to a lot of Islamic countries, the view from there is even more impressive.

Tony Perkins had an opportunity to see that – up close and personal – over the last few days as part of a special evangelical delegation invited to the scenic stretch of land along the Persian Gulf. There, with several familiar faces, he witnessed once again just how important the election of Donald Trump has been – not just to America, but to the cause of religious liberty worldwide. Last night, from 7,000 miles away, he talked to "Washington Watch" guest host Russ Jones about how eye-opening the trip has been.

For Tony, who joined a similar delegation in Cairo, this was another example of the doors that the Trump administration is opening by its embrace of faith and freedom. "This is one of those things that we've seen increasingly happen in the last two years, as Donald Trump has been promoting religious freedom and has a very close relationship with evangelicals. Some of the world leaders want to understand better what evangelicals want to do. They're becoming more attuned to the issue of religious freedom..." Apart from the crown prince and other top officials, Tony and leaders like Joel Rosenberg, Michele Bachmann, Jerry Johnson, and others, had a chance to meet with a number of protestant and evangelical pastors. "They have a very vibrant church population," Tony pointed out, which is incredibly unique for an Islamic country.

One of the reasons the UAE has been so receptive to other faiths, Tony explains, is because the royal family had such a positive encounter with American missionaries. "Now, this is an Islamic country," Tony reminds listeners. "It is the official religion. But unlike most Islamic countries, freedom of worship is a principle here." But, several years ago, when the crown prince's father and mother lost two children, it was missionaries from the United States who helped his family at a medical clinic they'd established. "[T]hat launched a long-term relationship. They ended up welcoming the missionaries to establish a hospital and a church that exists here today. It was through that mission work that there was an acceptance of Christianity and its humanitarian aspect -- and, as a result a respect for the Christian people."

Now, decades later, American evangelicals are sitting down with Mohammed Bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, at the first-ever meeting of its kind. "They have an appreciation for religious freedom that is rare in this region," Tony said after talking to Bin Zayed and other top government officials. "Under the Crown Prince's leadership, the UAE is a more tolerant nation, where Christians are allowed to worship freely. I saw firsthand how this freedom of worship is boosting the economy and security of the nation."

In a country of 32,000 square miles, UAE has 700 Christian ministries and churches. That's astounding in an area so close to the oppressive regimes of Syria and Iran. The freedom of those congregations to worship, Tony said, "gives me hope for greater expansion of religious freedom in the UAE and for persecuted religious minorities across the Middle East. The UAE is pursuing a path of religious tolerance and peace that I pray other countries in the region would follow."

Obviously, no matter how welcoming the country may be to other faiths, religious liberty has a very different meaning in UAE than it does in the U.S. But thanks to the Trump administration and the leadership of the crown prince, it is a model of growing respect for religious minorities. In the end, it directs all of our attention to another area of significance that's at stake in this election: the international dialogue over religious freedom and persecution. This White House and conservatives in Congress have inspired the world to care again. If we want that conversation to continue, we have to speak up ourselves -- November 6.


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


Asia Bibi Finds Justice, but Remains in Danger

October 31, 2018

Imagine living in a country where taking a drink of water could lead to your execution. That was the real-life nightmare of Asia Bibi, a Christian mother in Pakistan who, on a hot day in 2009, went in search of water on the farm where she worked. The other women refused to drink from the container, because Bibi isn't Muslim. That started an argument, and farmworkers insisted later that Bibi had made derogatory comments about Mohammed. They accused her of one of the worst crimes possible -- blasphemy -- and she was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death.

International groups like Open Doors USA have been raising her case for years. Now, almost a full decade later, after languishing in a Pakistani prison, the mom of five got the news she never expected. The country's highest court is setting her free. Without any evidence supporting the accusers' case, the judges agreed, "The appeal is allowed. She has been acquitted. The judgement of high court as well as trial court is reversed. Her conviction is set aside," Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar ruled.

It was an extremely courageous decision, especially for judges in an Islamic country. Tensions in Pakistan have been at a boiling point during Bibi's appeal, with hundreds of protestors spilling into the streets when the verdict was announced. Niser and his two fellow judges "have now been threatened with death themselves by one hardline Islamic party, and protests with burning tires have already started," the BBC reported. Local extremists blocked key roads and held signs that read "Hang Asia Bibi." The situation is so volatile that the private schools in Pakistan are all closed for security reasons.

According to World Watch Monitor, "One Islamic party, Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), had warned that 'if there is any attempt to hand her [Bibi] over to a foreign country, there will be terrible consequences.' The party is known for its strong support of the strict blasphemy laws, and has called for blasphemers against Islam to be put to death and for those who kill alleged blasphemers to be celebrated. In February 2016, Pakistani authorities hanged Mumtaz Qadri, the bodyguard who tried to justify his murder of Salman Taseer partly because of Taseer's support of Asia Bibi."

Most global watch groups are concerned that even though Asia is free, her safety is very much in jeopardy. But for Bibi, who wasn't in the courtroom when her fate was decided, told media outlets by phone from prison that she was beside herself with relief. "I can't believe what I am hearing, will I go out now? Will they let me out, really? I just don't know what to say, I am very happy, I can't believe it." Her husband, Ashiq Masih, who was left to care for their children, was overjoyed. "I am very happy. My children are very happy. We are grateful to God. We are grateful to the judges for giving us justice. We knew that she is innocent."

For now, the goal is getting Bibi out of the country before she's killed by extremists. In the meantime, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is doing his best to calm the storm. "Saying that these justices are worthy to be put to death and then even going further, that the Chief of the Army Staff is not Muslim and generals should revolt against him, is unimaginable," he said.

As FRC's Travis Weber wrote, "This sad saga reminds us of the clear threat posed to religious freedom by the abuse of blasphemy laws. These laws -- which infringe on a proper conception of religious freedom -- would be bad enough on their face. Yet quite often, they aren't even used for their ostensible purpose, but become vehicles to settle personal disagreements and even political scores." While we celebrate the result in Bibi's case, it's obvious that a lot of work remains. "The reaction of much of Pakistani society," Travis points out, "with hardline Muslims defying the ruling -- highlights the need to work on cultural acceptance for religious freedom as much as legal."


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


It's Not Just An Event -- It's The Event

October 31, 2018

Where will you be this Sunday? Hopefully, joining Americans across the country gathered to pray, vote, and stand! At a national simulcast, live from Woodland Park, Colorado, you'll hear from some of America's most influential Christians about what we can do to keep our country on the right track.

I'll be serving as the co-host of The Event 2018, along with Andrew Wommack, which will feature some familiar faces: Governor Mike Huckabee, E.W. Jackson, Michael Farris, Kristan Hawkins, and more. Can 90 minutes change America? Sign up and find out! For a sneak peek, check out the promo video below. Also, for resources, bulletin inserts, and promotional fliers, check out the website at TheEvent2018.com.


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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