Nancy Pelosi Is 'Not Going to Get Into' Defending Religious Liberty?
Nancy Pelosi Is "Not Going to Get Into" Defending Religious Liberty?
September 25, 2020
In a recent press conference, Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi refused to rule out engaging in religious tests for public office when looking to fill Justice Ginsburg's vacant seat. When asked by a reporter if Article VI of the Constitution should apply to Supreme Court nominees, Pelosi gave the following reply:
"I'm not going to get into anybody's interpretation of one thing or another," she said. "The confirmation is the work of the Senate and I trust the judgment of our Democrats there to honor the Constitution."
Pelosi's unwillingness to stand up for a clear constitutional tenet reflects her party's similar disregard for religious liberty. In recent days, as the list of leading Supreme Court candidates has narrowed, top Democrats have launched unfair and unconstitutional attacks against Amy Coney Barrett for her Catholic faith, suggesting that her beliefs may render her unfit for public office.
In a story from Yahoo News titled "Amy Coney Barrett: 5 things to know about the potential Supreme Court nominee," two out of five points concerned Barrett's religious beliefs and practices. Multiple outlets have run with the factually incorrect notion that Barrett's parachurch organization, People of Praise, is an oppressive, misogynist group which inspired the religious zealots featured in Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale. Andrew Seidel, a constitutional attorney and activist with the Freedom From Religion Foundation, stated that "There are serious and deep concerns about Judge Amy Coney Barrett's affiliation with People of Praise," and a viral tweet has even suggested that Barrett is opposed to the separation of church and state, despite the fact that Barrett has refuted this accusation on multiple occasions.
This past week is not the first time Barrett has been criticized for her convictions, as she faced similar attacks in 2017 prior to her confirmation to the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Among the most infamous attacks came from Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who told Barrett during a hearing that "the (Catholic) dogma lives loudly within you."
While wildly inappropriate for a confirmation hearing, some observers thought this was the best compliment Feinstein could give Barrett. Indeed, what good is faith if it's cabined away and irrelevant from the realities of life? Every day, people of faith strive to see their beliefs impact their neighbors, communities, and society for the better. Barrett is no different. At the same time, she has proven she will be a firm, fair-minded originalist if placed on the high court, deciding cases rather than making law.
Last night, during the Values Voter Summit, I sat down with Gayle Trotter and Bill Pascoe to discuss the impending Supreme Court nomination. Trotter, an attorney, columnist, and host of the Right in D.C. podcast, expressed her shock and disappointment that the Democrats have so clearly swallowed the idea of engaging in religious tests:
"That should be deeply insulting to all Americans. Whether you have faith or no faith, that is a core principle of our government. Under the First Amendment, under the Constitution, there is no religious test for Supreme Court justices. And apparently Senate Democrats forgot about that."
Joining the VVS judicial panel with Trotter to discuss the Court, Bill Pascoe from Tea Party Patriots Action told me he found the attacks against Barrett "disturbing," especially given the fact that the Left used to be "the greatest protectors of religious freedom in this country."
Clearly, the Left is no longer interested in protecting religious freedom. Regardless of who the president nominates to the Supreme Court, conservatives must be ready to defend her against anti-religious bigotry and call out those who refuse to do the same. The intensity of a political or cultural battle is almost always in proportion to what is at stake in the outcome, and in this confirmation battle it is the constitutional rule of law in America. This will be an epic battle.
Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.
Make It Count: Vote in Person If You Can
September 25, 2020
With election day less than 40 days away, it is easy to forget that Americans are voting right now. Many states have begun early in-person voting, and Americans are filling out and mailing in their mail-in ballots -- including military personnel. Protecting the voting rights of those who protect our right to vote is essential, and that's why when nine mail-in ballots (seven of which were from military personnel) were discovered in the trash in Pennsylvania, the Department of Justice announced they will launch an investigation.
By now, the contours of our electoral college system are well-established -- several key battleground states will likely determine who our next president is. Among the most coveted of these battleground states are former "blue wall" states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
In 2016, President Trump won a decisive victory in the electoral college against Hillary Clinton: 304 to 227 electoral votes. Trump did so by winning states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, states that had been reliably Democratic for decades. However, that decisive electoral college victory looks much slimmer when you consider President Trump won all three states by less than 80,000 votes combined.
Every vote matters. In these final weeks before the election, both campaigns are firing up their get-out-the-vote engines. Armies of volunteers will fill campaign offices (or, if you're the Biden campaign, do Zoom calls), make calls, and knock on doors to get voters to the polls. Part of that effort will include contacting voters who have requested mail-in ballots and encouraging them to fill them out and drop them off at a drop box or mail them in. Whether it's due to a disability, fears of COVID, military service, or simple preference, millions of Americans will vote by mail in this election.
With so much at stake in this election for our country, it is vital we ensure the integrity of our elections. President Trump has raised concerns regarding this very possibility for months now, and for good reason. Similar stories of discarded ballots being discovered in Wisconsin, as well as rampant problems with mail-in ballots in New Jersey, and yesterday's announcement from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton of charging several Texas county commissioners with voter fraud charges connected to mail-in voting, all point to not just the possibility of fraud with mail-in voting -- but the existence of fraud with mail-in voting. Add in the intrigue of President Trump's nomination of a third Supreme Court nominee, and we have a very volatile 39 days ahead of us.
FRC President Tony Perkins spoke Thursday night with former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett about this very situation at the 15th annual Values Voter Summit. Regarding the potential for a messy election night, Bennett said: "I'll tell you the one thing that worries me the most is this absentee ballot thing. It's not going to be over on election night." Also troubling is the fact that a number of recent court rulings have paved the way for votes to be counted after election day -- provided they are postmarked by election day. This only increases the likelihood of SCOTUS having to break the log jam as they did back in 2000 in Bush v. Gore. As Bennett observed: "I think Michigan just said 12 days we can accept these ballots, 12 days afterwards... for filling one out and sending one in, this is really worrisome. This makes the importance of the court all the greater, if it needs to go to the court."
Thirty-nine days is an eternity in politics. In the days ahead, we can expect President Trump to announce his pick to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Senate confirmation hearing on the president's nominee, (possibly) a vote on the nominee as well, three face-to-face presidential debates, the airwaves to be bombarded with campaign ads, and an endless stream of fever-pitched invective designed to dissuade voters. A close election will almost certainly lead to litigation, which will almost certainly make its way to the Supreme Court. While filling an open Supreme Court seat will impact the American legal system for a generation, and might decide who is our next president, there is one thing that absolutely must happen first: we must vote.
In closing his time with Tony, Bennett said: "The message is: be sure to vote. Get your friends to vote. Offer to help them get to the polls, or to fill out that absentee ballot." We agree. Take the challenge to pray, vote, and stand at PrayVoteStand.org.
VVS Night Three: "The Story of America Is a Story of Overcoming"
September 25, 2020
If America's mainstream media and intellectual elites are to be believed, our nation's ideological divisions and racial tensions are and will always remain insurmountable. But the third episode of the Values Voter Summit made clear a simple fact: never count America out, and never underestimate the resilience of its people.
Pastor Jack Hibbs of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in California kicked the evening off by revealing a little-known groundswell that is taking place in the Golden State: "We're seeing a tremendous shift here in California ... we're seeing a remarkable [rise] in voter registration take place in our church and churches up and down the state. Many people are changing their party affiliations ... I know it seems like a longshot, but here on the 'left coast' God still reigns ... I think California might wind up surprising a lot of people this November."
Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) pointed out that even in such a difficult year as 2020 has been, good things are happening which the media doesn't talk about, like the unprecedented peace deal between the UAE, Bahrain, and Israel as well as between Serbia and Kosovo. "These are enormous international events," Lankford said. He also struck a more sobering note in acknowledging the great need for believers to surrender our difficult times to God in prayer: "This year has driven our nation to our knees ... There's a great importance to look at the God who stands outside of time, who sees the beginning and the end just the same, and to be able to say to him, God, we need your help."
While acknowledging that our country is deeply divided, author and speaker Dr. Carol Swain reminded VVS viewers of what is really going on: "The destruction we see on our streets is not coming from ordinary black Americans." She went on: "We [need to] focus on what whites and blacks have been able to do together as Americans. The story of America is a story of overcoming and of people being able to rise from poverty like I did and to become part of the American dream." Dr. Swain also reiterated the reality that most Americans step up and do the right thing when called upon: "There will always be people willing to come along and offer a hand up rather than a handout."
Scott Turner, executive director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, gave a hopeful outlook for those Americans who find themselves in economic hardship: "My heart for this country is to help people see that there is hope, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The policies that are being set forth [by the Trump administration] are for all Americans." Turner pointed out that because of the Trump administration's Opportunity Zone Initiative, "$75 billion of private capital has been committed inside opportunity zones in our country, a million people lifted out of poverty, hundreds of thousands of jobs that are being created ... the American people are resilient, and when they see that there is an opportunity, they attack it."
But if we want to ensure that there continues to be economic opportunity in America, we have to remain a free market. As author Larry Alex Taunton, an expert on Marxism, observed, the current effort to promote Marxism by leftists is very dangerous: "Marxism is incompatible with a free society." Taunton made it clear that we are not seeing a "revolution," or a mass revolt of the people. "What we are seeing is an attempted coup d'état ... a small group of ideologically committed radicals who are trying to overthrow the government."
Just how dangerous is this Marxist move toward socialism? Virginia Prodan, a former dissident in socialist Romania who barely escaped with her life, gave a stern warning: "History repeats itself unless we learn from it." She went on to give a firm mandate to VVS viewers: "It's time for us to bring Christ and freedom back to America, because there is no freedom without Christ, not even in America."
And without the freedom that Christ brings, our culture is doomed to become slave to the latest ideological fads. Author and journalist Abigail Shrier made it clear just how serious the transgender trend is by pointing out that even adults who identify as transgender and progressive LGBTQ supporters are alarmed at how quickly the transgender epidemic has spread among teenage girls. She pointed to "social media immersion" and "gender ideology in schools" as the primary dangers parents need to look out for to protect their kids.
What are the real-world consequences of transgender ideology? Just ask a young woman named Sydney Wright. After being told by a doctor that she could self-administer hormones to become male, her health unraveled: "At my [first] six-month check-up ... I was pre-diabetic [and] had gained 50 pounds ... your voice deepens [quickly] when you're on the testosterone, and that's something that can never change or go back," she said in an interview during the broadcast. In addition, Wright had "huge health problems when I started to come off the testosterone. That's when I was hospitalized numerous times ... it was a very downhill spiral."
With so many fundamental problems in our nation, are we beyond hope? Not according to Dr. Ben Carson: "You know, we, the American people, are not each other's enemies, and if you really were to sit most people down side by side and start talking about a lot of issues, you would find for the vast majority of people you agree on probably 90 percent of stuff," he said. "But what [the media] want to do is they take the 10 percent that you don't agree on and they just try to foment that into the biggest thing in the world and keep throwing it in front of your face night after night, day after day." So what do we do? "You say, 'I'm standing up for what I believe in, and I'll take whatever lumps come with that.' Because you're not just doing it for yourself; you're doing it for your children, your grandchildren, and all the people who come after you."
Be sure to watch the full program of episode three of the Values Voter Summit. And stay tuned tonight at 8 p.m. ET for the fourth and final episode of VVS, which will feature President Donald Trump, Franklin Graham, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Mark Meadows, Scott Rasmussen, Ben Watson, and much more.