Filmmakers Cast Doubt in Georgia

Filmmakers Cast Doubt in Georgia

May 31, 2019

It wouldn't be Hollywood if there weren't drama. And in this game of chicken between Georgia and the titans of Tinsel Town, there's more of it every day.

It was all very theatrical when Netflix, Disney, WarnerMedia, and Sony Pictures started shaking their fists at pro-life states and made hollow threats about canceling productions. For most conservatives, it was a familiar scene. The entertainment industry has been using the same script since North Carolina's HB 2, when celebrities climbed on their moral high horses to brow beat voters who believe in privacy. Now their empty bluster is directed at the South, where governors are signing abortion bans into law faster than liberals can yell, "Cut!"

This week, Disney CEO Bob Iger trotted out the same old non-committal soundbites. They would be reevaluating their projects, he promised. "We are watching it very carefully," he reassured his allies. But as well as Iger and others are delivering their lines, their performance isn't getting rave reviews from an important corner -- their actual film crews.

"None of us voted for this," said one key grip in Georgia, "and we shouldn't have to suffer because of what the politicians decided." A fight is brewing, others agreed, if their companies pull up stakes and move out.

BuzzFeed interviewed scores of frustrated people on location in the South -- some of whom are starting campaigns of their own. Callie Moore, a camera assistant who works for Starz, is launching a "Stay and Fight in Georgia" initiative. "I generally don't agree that boycotting is the right call to make a real difference here," Moore argued. "I think the film industry brings so much to the state of Georgia, economically and diversity-wise, and I think it does so much good for the state. The least we can do is fight back and try to keep it here."

"It's ultimately hurting more people than it is going to do any justice," one person fumed. "It's not going to affect the politicians and the actors. They're still going to keep going to work in other places like they always have. But... it's going to destroy us." Even liberals like former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams are using the hashtag #Consequences to remind the industry that its bravado would mean "lost jobs for carpenters, hair dressers, food workers & 100s of small businesses grown right here."

Georgia legislators, on the other hand, are probably tired of rolling out the red carpet to people who use them for their tax climate, only to turn around and shame them for the values that make it possible. "Disney is free to do what they please, but their stated intent is highly hypocritical," Stephen Kent points out in the Washington Examiner. "When Hollywood's moral values collide with dollars it's usually no contest." After all, he argues, there didn't seem to be even a whiff of this outrage when Iger shook on his sweet deals overseas.

"There's a deep display of insincerity going on anytime Hollywood studios begin boycotts of conservative states for abortion restrictions. Disney just completed production of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, and before that was The Last Jedi, which featured memorable scenes shot in Croatia and Bolivia. In Croatia, abortion is restricted after 10 weeks. In Bolivia, it is entirely illegal. And yet, no Disney boycott."

Not to mention, the Wall Street Journal points out, Iger's obvious double standard in Asia. "More than a few Americans may also notice the contradiction that Disney is more worried about filming in a U.S. state that has passed a law democratically than it is operating its theme park and hawking its films in China, which uses facial-recognition software to monitor its population and has a million Uighurs in re-education camps..."

There will be more legislators like the one in California, trying to push more studios over the hump by dangling tax breaks in front of anyone with the hutzpah to leave pro-life states. Move to a place like ours that has a better appreciation for killing babies, the bill seems to say! It's a nice try, but whatever modest incentives California can offer will still be offset by the state's suffocating regulations and higher costs.

In the meantime, if Iger is so disgusted by unborn children, maybe Georgians shouldn't wait for him to leave. Maybe they should force him out altogether. Obviously, Disney's brand of "making dreams come true" is a bygone era. "Making the Left's agenda a reality" is more like it. Threatening the people of Georgia because they simply want to allow children to be born speaks volumes of Iger's new Disney.

In the end, though, these executives still see the world through dollars. That's why these CEOs' posturing never amounts to anything. It's all an act. And by Hollywood standards, not a very good one.

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

On Bogren, There's No Lifetime Guarantee

May 31, 2019

Senate Republicans have one shot at federal judgeship right. If they're right, the country has the benefits of years of strict originalism. If they're wrong, Americans will pay for it -- for a lifetime. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) isn't willing to take that chance in Michael Bogren's case, not when religious liberty is on the line.

"Lawyers have a duty to their clients," Senator Hawley agrees, "but that's no excuse to launch gratuitous attacks on the faithful." And in a case against a Christian family in Michigan, that's exactly what Michael Bogren did. His statements aren't the stuff of years-old religious intolerance. The case that's raising eyebrows is still ongoing. It involves a family farm, whose owners -- a Catholic couple -- believe in natural marriage. For that, the city of East Lansing decided they should be banned from selling their fruit at the local farmer's market.

Michael Bogren didn't have to take the case against the Tennes family. But when East Lansing asked him to defend their religious hostility in court, he said yes. Bogren also didn't have to use the kind of scorched-earth language he did to characterize the family. That was his choice. He was the one who decided to compare Christians to the KKK -- and then stand by that rhetoric in his confirmation hearing. No one forced him to say that the Tenneses were "para[ding]" their beliefs down a "runway of moral superiority" either. Or questioning the family's "selective" application of faith.

The editors of the Wall Street Journal disagree. They think "Mr. Hawley's questioning is a precedent that conservatives will regret." Why? Because, they claim, "If nominees can be disqualified for every argument they make for a client, conservative judicial nominees will soon find themselves blocked from judgeships for defending religious liberty." But Senator Hawley is an attorney himself. He knows that you can defend a client "without stooping to personal attacks and vicious rhetoric."

"As attorneys, our oaths require us to do much more than advocate on our clients' behalf. We also swear to uphold the law itself and to always conduct ourselves with integrity. And that means not launching gratuitous attacks against faith groups -- especially when you represent the government. It's one thing to advocate on behalf of your client, but Bogren went too far."

The leaders of the Conservative Action Project agree. In a memo to the movement, signed by dozens of national leaders, they're stunned that Republicans would even consider a man whose "religious bias lack[s] even the usual effort of thin disguise..."

"Bogren could and should have declined to answer questions regarding ongoing litigation. Instead, he chose to double down on arguments which sharply narrow the First Amendment's protections regarding religious liberty. Bogren is nominated for a lifetime appointment. We believe that his suspect judicial philosophy as it relates to America's First Freedom renders him unqualified for this position. We urge that his nomination be withdrawn."

Stand with Senator Hawley and Christians across America, who already know the consequences of appointing judges to the bench with an obvious bias toward religious expression. Contact your senators and urge them to vote NO on Michael Bogren.

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

Religious Freedom on Taiwan Time

May 31, 2019

By FRC's Travis Weber, Vice President for Policy and Director of the Center for Religious Liberty

As China continues to rattle its economic saber during trade talks with the United States -- all the while upping its persecution of Christian, Uyghur, and other minorities -- what better time to discuss religious freedom? And what better place to discuss it than Taiwan, the small island nation whose freedom stands in stark contrast to the repression of the mainland?

Over the past few days, participants at the Taiwan International Religious Freedom Forum (hosted at the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan's Bible College campus, organized by Bob Fu of China Aid, with FRC's Center for Religious Liberty serving as one of the co-sponsors) heard about religious freedom problems in the Asian region such as religious hostility in Indonesia, Pakistan's blasphemy laws, India's anti-conversion laws, and Malaysia's apostasy laws (problematic laws on which FRC recently issued a report). Conditions in Nigeria, the Middle East, and Europe were also discussed. Yet the 500-pound religious freedom gorilla in the room was China. As China Aid's Bob Fu told attendees, we have "talked the talk" on religious freedom. Now it's time to "walk the walk."

Taiwan's President Dr. Tsai Ing-Wen, opening the conference, sent a clear message to China: "the freedom we enjoy today is built on the blood sweat and tears of our predecessors." Her comments are especially noteworthy coming on the heels of the news that U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton met with a top Taiwanese defense official in recent weeks, the first such contact since 1979.

Why should we treat China like a normal part of the civilized world when it unrepentantly continues to harvest the organs of its religious minorities and traffic them overseas? While China's organ harvesting from Falun Gong adherents has occurred for some time, the risk of widespread organ harvesting from the Uyghurs -- who are already being put in concentration "reeducation" camps -- is only increasing. As expert researcher Ethan Gutmann told the conference, it now appears that the Chinese government has blood tested its entire Uyghur population -- crucial information for organ harvesting on a mass scale. He also reported that crematoriums are now being constructed in China's western Xinjiang province, where its Uyghur population resides.

Companies are profiting from China's dehumanization and abuse of its people, and now this technology stands to be exported around the world. Corporations must not be let off the hook for profiting from this regime's atrocities. Big business seems to have a voice for social issues these days, but the cat seems to have caught their tongue on China's religious freedom record. Yet as U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, appearing by video, told the conference, China "will not win" its war on faith.

As the United States and China discuss trade, religious freedom must be on the table. We cannot afford to let this opportunity pass. China must be called upon to do more to respect religious freedom and human rights -- for all people.

It is up to us to speak up for our brothers and sisters in Christ in China. As I said while moderating a panel on Christian persecution around the world, Christians in the United States must be more engaged on behalf of those around the world who cannot speak for themselves.

The woman in the photo is a defector from North Korea (she's public with her photo and story at this point). She shared about escaping North Korea multiple times, being sent back, detained for reading a Bible, then having a forced abortion done on her because her baby is mixed race. She told how the doctor "shredded" the little human being inside of her, then banged the forceps in frustration when the pieces of her baby refuse d to fall off them -- the sound of which rings in her ears to this day. While crying out to God, she heard God tell her: "Does this feel painful? This is what it felt like when I sent my son into the world." At that point, she felt she understood the heart of God. This was incredibly powerful and emotional -- for multiple reasons. Sitting with her and one of her daughters (who had by now fallen asleep on her lap) at dinner, I only noticed her energy, heart, and gracefulness -- despite the fact that she went through that ordeal.

May our heart for the suffering motivate us to action on behalf of others. We still have our religious freedom. But if we don't use it, we stand to lose it not only for ourselves but for the world.

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

This Sunday: Pray for Donald Trump!

May 31, 2019

If you picked up a copy of USA Today, then you probably saw the reminder to pray for our president this Sunday, June 2. If you didn't, Franklin Graham and Christian leaders all across the country are encouraging you to set aside a special time, individually, at church -- or both! -- to ask God's blessing, wisdom, and guidance on Donald Trump as he leads our nation. For information, visit or Franklin's Facebook page.

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

FRC in the Spotlight...

May 31, 2019

Earlier this week, FRC's Lt. General Jerry Boykin sat down to talk Israeli election results with "Frances and Friends." Check it out below.

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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