Dems Paint Target on Georgia's Back
Dems Paint Target on Georgia's Back
April 21, 2021
Democrats seem to think they can steamroll every issue by yelling "racism" loud enough. Someone needs to remind them the point of the proverb, "if you only have a hammer, everything is a nail," is to highlight the folly of applying the same solution to every problem. Earlier today, the Democrat-controlled (but not Democrat-majority) Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing titled, "Jim Crow 2021: The Latest Assault on the Right to Vote." Predictably, the hearing recycled debunked accusations about how Republicans want to block minority voters.
Democrats evidently hoped to paint a target on Georgia's back, calling four out of seven witnesses from the Peach State. Last month, Georgia enacted a bipartisan law that fixed problems identified in the 2020 election, boosting election security while increasing voter access. Democrats embarrassed themselves by launching a full-fledged, nationwide media assault that failed to land any punches. They soon turned to threatening corporations into boycotting Georgia, which worked for a week or two. But after dancing like marionettes for the woke mob, corporate leaders got wiser when they had time to actually read the bill. Now, it seems, Democrats are trying to attack Georgia's voting law from another angle.
Stacey Abrams called the bill racist in the hearing, but without specifying how. "I think there are components of it that are indeed racist because they use racial animus as a means for targeting the behaviors of certain voters to limit their participation in elections," she said. Of course, just because she thinks something doesn't make it so. It's ridiculous to insist lawmakers have the burden of proof to show a law is not racist. Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Utah) retorted that comparing the Georgia election law to the Jim Crow discrimination that he lived through was "absolutely outrageous."
"What I find extremely offensive is the narrative from the left that black people are not smart enough, not educated enough, not desirous enough of education to do what every other culture and race does this country -- get an ID," Owens continued. "True racism is... the soft bigotry of low expectations now projected on black Americans... by the Democratic Party."
Abrams narrowly lost Georgia's 2018 gubernatorial election and has never conceded. In fact, she reaffirmed today that the 2018 election "was stolen." You'd think, after the way Democrats treated President Trump and his supporters, that Abrams calling an election "stolen" would raise some hackles. Yet no Democrats objected.
But Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who is also Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, set his sights beyond Georgia. "Just this year, more than 360 bills with restrictive voting provisions have been introduced in 47 states," he said. "They are a deliberate effort to suppress voters of color." In other words, Durbin would have you believe that every attempt to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat is motivated by racism. 360 bills in 47 states -- are they all racist? I'm sure even he doesn't believe that. But Durbin knows the only way to ram through their federal takeover of elections, H.R. 1, is to frame it as a necessary step to combat racism. Democrats know that, where racism doesn't exist, they have to create it to suit their political purposes.
Fortunately, Congressional Democrats aren't fooling anyone. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp summarized recently, "we're winning this battle." The momentum is spreading. Montana just enacted two bills that improve the state's already stellar election laws. And more victories are sure to follow. Democrats in Congress can hold all the hearings they want. But states control elections, and state legislatures are moving in the right direction.
Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.
Pelosi's Unbalanced Justice
April 21, 2021
It's not the first time Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has had to put her foot in her mouth, but it may be the most telling. At a news conference commenting on the guilty verdict reached in the trial Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd, Pelosi said,
"Thank you George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice. For being there to call out to your mom -- how heartbreaking was that to call out for your mom -- 'I can't breathe.' Because of you and because of thousands, millions of people around the world who came out for justice, your name will always be synonymous with justice."
The social media backlash was quick. One of many similar commenters said, "This is not a statement to be proud of. I am appalled that you are thanking George Floyd for being murdered." Seeing the uproar, Pelosi later issued a tweet in an attempt to clarify:
"George Floyd should be alive today. His family's calls for justice for his murder were heard around the world. He did not die in vain. We must make sure other families don't suffer the same racism, violence & pain, and we must enact the George Floyd #JusticeInPolicing Act."
Whatever it was she meant, her statement reveals an even bigger blunder than thanking George Floyd for getting killed. Pelosi's sentiments -- including her clarification -- reveal a worldview where the scales of justice are weighed by the winds of popular culture. Pelosi exhales from the lungs of George Floyd an air of martyrdom to serve the cause of her latest legislation.
In making George Floyd's name synonymous with justice, Pelosi removes justice from the realm of the transcendent and puts it squarely within the kingdom of this world. A justice that takes on the name of people murdered in the latest popular trial is a watered-down justice. It fades with the headlines. For Nancy Pelosi to make George Floyd the embodiment of justice honors neither George Floyd nor anything else, except perhaps an expedient end like Pelosi's Justice in Policing Act. It certainly isn't a justice that is blind, and it certainly isn't the transcendent justice of God.
The Bible paints quite a different picture of the name with whom we should associate justice. David wrote in Psalm 36 that the Lord's "righteousness [a term that can also be rendered "justice"] is like the mountains of God" and his "judgments are like the great deep." Aspah likewise wrote in Psalm 50 that "The heavens declare his righteousness [justice], for God himself is judge!" Justice is a concept so wrapped up in God that any reference that fails to consider him falls as empty as Nancy Pelosi's words.
As the concept of justice percolates in the national conversation, we would all be well-served to ponder a better justice than what Speaker Pelosi outlines. The Apostle Paul wrote about the justice of God, "It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." (Romans 3:26 ESV) Paul recognized that God sent his own son Jesus to be a sacrifice for our sin so that his own justice might be served. Because he is always just and seeks not to serve only that which is fleeting, it is God's name which will always be synonymous with justice. And that, Speaker Pelosi, is something for which we can truly be thankful.
U.S. Commission Calls out World's Worst Religious Freedom Violators
April 21, 2021
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released its annual report Wednesday, providing an overview of the world's top violators of religious freedom. The dire status of religious freedom around the globe is a call to action for the Biden administration to prioritize religious freedom in its foreign policy.
Numbers help tell the story of global religious freedom violations. An estimated 50,000 Christians remain in bondage in North Korean prison camps. Over 2500 Yazidi women and girls are still missing following ISIS' genocide. And in 2020, 15 houses of worship were attacked in Nigeria.
Over the past year, many countries used the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to discriminate against religious groups, including discriminating against religious minorities seeking COVID relief aid.
However, there were a few signs for hope in 2020, the year studied in the report. At USCIRF's report launch, USCIRF Vice Chair and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said, "we were encouraged by the evident progress" on religious freedom in Sudan, including the repeal of the country's apostasy law. Commissioner Anurima Bhargava also noted that three religious prisoners of conscience whose cases had been adopted by commissioners had been released in 2020.
The International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 established mechanisms in the State Department to designate nations as "Countries of Particular Concern" (CPC) for severe violations of religious freedom. This year, USCIRF recommends adding India, Russia, Syria, and Vietnam to the list. Though India is the world's largest democracy, USCIRF found that "one-third of India's 28 states limit or prohibit religious conversion to protect the dominant religion from perceived threats." In 2020, Russian authorities raided the homes of 477 Jehovah's Witnesses. Persistent problems in Syria and Vietnam warrant international attention as well.
For the second year in a row, USCIRF recognized Nigeria as a place where religious persecution runs rampant and recommended a CPC designation. The report stated that religious freedom conditions continued to deteriorate in Nigeria, and "Christian communities were hit particularly hard in the country's Middle Belt." Commissioner James Carr thinks Nigeria can do better, and he urged the country to "shape up."
At USCIRF's report launch, USCIRF Commissioners also emphasized China as a growing threat to religious freedom. In addition to committing an ongoing genocide against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, China continues to crack down on house churches, underground Catholics, and those of other faiths. But as if that is not enough, China also works to suppress criticisms of their human rights abuses at home and around the world.
In April, the Chinese government sanctioned USCIRF Chair Gayle Manchin and Vice Chair Tony Perkins for speaking out about grave abuses against religious believers in China, including an ongoing genocide against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, they responded to the sanctions, saying, "We won't be intimidated or silenced."
The Chinese government's attacks on the Commission only proves how effective it is. Authoritarian regimes do not like it when USCIRF draws attention to their religious persecution. This is exactly why they must continue to do so.
The United States' advocacy matters to other governments, even the Chinese government. To maintain U.S. energy on the issue, USCIRF recommends that the Biden administration promptly fill the role of Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom.
Vice Chair Tony Perkins also said in a statement, "In order to maintain the crucial momentum of international religious freedom as a U.S. foreign policy priority, USCIRF strongly urges the Biden administration to take a unique action for each country designated as a CPC to provide accountability for religious freedom abuses and to implement the other recommendations contained in our report." The CPC designations should not just be a list -- they must have consequences.
The Trump administration demonstrated impactful moral leadership on international religious freedom. Now is not the time to back down.
The last few years have seen religiously motivated attacks, genocides, and oppressive policies receive much-needed attention on the world stage. This provides for an opportune moment to seize on international religious freedom as a bipartisan issue.
As a historic leader on human rights, America has a unique role in advocating for religious freedom for all people, everywhere. For the sake of the persecuted and oppressed, President Biden should embrace this role. The need is great, but so is our potential to make a difference.