DirecTV Channels Its Inner Censor

DirecTV Channels Its Inner Censor

January 27, 2022

The media likes to say Christians are a dying, ineffectual voice in the public square. If that were true -- if people of faith really had no influence in this country -- then why is the Left pretending to be one of them? They talk a good game, but radical Democrats are terrified of the impact that motivated believers are having in today's debates. So they put on a few clerical collars, cite a couple Bible verses, and declare themselves guardians of the democracy. At least that's what an organization called "Faithful America" did. It was only later that people started to wonder: faithful to who and to what?

They claim to be "the largest online community putting our faith into action for social justice." But what they really are, watchdogs warn, is a "religious version of" Just Google the organization's name -- Faithful America -- and you'll see their greatest hits: a "fire Franklin Graham" campaign, petitions against Amy Coney Barrett, Hobby Lobby, various Catholic dioceses, and Dr. Albert Mohler. They've tried to cancel Senator Josh Hawley's (R-Mo.) book, boot FRC off the networks, and, most recently, leaned on cable providers to drop objective media outlets like One America News (OAN) Network, Newsmax, and Real America's Voice. And they're doing all of it under the guise of Christianity.

Just this month, the organization's executive director, Rev. Nathan Empsall, wrote a scathing column in Newsweek shaming Christians for trying to impose their beliefs on America -- and blaming that "toxic worldview" for the riots of January 6. "This is not Christianity; it's an authoritarian cult, one that worships power rather than God. Yet it's not just the politicians who are distorting Jesus's message of love and justice. Far too many conservative evangelical pastors and Catholic clergy are also spreading toxic white Christian nationalism." It's time, he argued, "to call out the authorities who hijack [God's] name for cynical power."

That's ironic, coming from a bogus faith group whose entire objective is to shut Christians down. "They're just another fake, Left-wing nest of operatives," Influence Watch's Scott Walter argues. "They get taken much more seriously than they deserve." They try to hijack Jesus to serve a hateful political agenda, and then crusade to silence anyone who disagrees with them. Fortunately, Capital Research Center's Parker Thayer explained on "Washington Watch," "they have almost no real-world support, no real grassroots connection. They're just paid-for advocacy groups that pop up wherever the Democratic Party and the Left need someone to speak for them."

Of course, that hasn't stopped the media from using Empsall's group as a real representation of Christian values. And they've had a lot of help from the legacy media, who's never bothered to see if the organization is even legitimate before giving them a nationwide platform and claiming they speak for the country's religious population. "They essentially spend all of their budget trying to appear larger than they are," Thayer pointed out. "The media really isn't willing to look into this deeper. Sometimes they'll see that maybe Faithful America signed a letter with 30-40 groups signing on to it. But all of those groups might have been just another part of the Citizen Engagement Lab that don't really exist in any meaningful sense, aside from what the Citizen Engagement Lab wants them to appear to be."

Naturally, the media is willing to go along with it, so long as it serves their purposes. And while anyone in this country is free to go out, create an organization, and make a lot of noise, the media shouldn't be elevating them beyond what they deserve. The press knows good and well this is nothing more than a George Soros-type funded front group -- but they play along with the charade anyway, working to undermine the voices of the authentic Christian movement.

Unfortunately, Faithful America is also very talented at bullying the media into doing their bidding. In another victory for the cancel culture, they've managed to pressure DirecTV to drop the channel, effective this April. "One America News, Newsmax, and Real America's Voice aren't legitimate news networks," they insist. "They're dishonest, authoritarian organizations that prop up Christian nationalism while only masquerading as journalism. When it comes to enabling conspiracy theories and undermining democracy, Fox News doesn't hold a candle to these channels," they insist in their petition to get Roku and Viacom to follow DirecTV's lead.

For OAN, the blow was a painful one. DirecTV was the network's biggest broadcaster and revenue provider. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was so outraged over the censorship that he dropped his own DirecTV subscription. "Why give money to people who hate us?" he said simply. Other conservatives blasted the decision, insisting that it's only part of a larger scandal by Big Media to sideline conservative views. "Pretty convenient that this comes within a week after Biden begged companies to silence 'misinformation,' meaning his opposition," Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) tweeted.

If you can't beat 'em, silence 'em. That's been the Left's mantra for years. It just so happens that they finally have a man in the White House who's as big of a believer in viewpoint suppression as they are.

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

'Pastors Need to Lead the Way If Life Is Going to Win'

January 27, 2022

This past week, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas announced it was dropping its appeal of a U.S. district court's dismissal of its case against the citizens of Lubbock, Texas. This decision makes Lubbock the first city since Roe v. Wade to uphold legislation completely protecting the unborn.

This fight for life began last year on May 5, when the people of Lubbock passed a city ordinance making it a sanctuary city for the unborn. One month later, after a federal district judge dismissed Planned Parenthood's lawsuit citing lack of standing, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas agreed to stop performing abortions within the city limits.

Planned Parenthood appealed the decision. However, on Friday, they voluntarily withdrew their appeal, stating, "While we have determined not to move forward with this appeal, this is not the end of our fight in Lubbock, and we continue to consider all legal options to challenge this unconstitutional local ban."

Jim Baxa, president of West Texas for Life -- the main driver of the Lubbock sanctuary city bill -- commented on "Washington Watch," "It was very exciting to see... [Planned Parenthood] stepped back and they said, 'We're not going to take a loss that's going to hurt financially' ... They can save the lawyer fees, and they can save the embarrassment of losing and setting a precedent."

Lubbock's ordinance declares abortion (except in the case of saving the life of the mother) "an act of murder." It outlaws procuring or performing an abortion and aiding or abetting an abortion. Ways of aiding and abetting an abortion include providing transportation, giving instructions over the phone, providing money, and coercing a mother into having an abortion.

The life-saving Texas Heartbeat Act utilizes the same enforcement mechanism as this law, allowing private citizens to sue the abortion industry. Because the city is not party to civil lawsuits triggered by the ordinance, Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion businesses do not have standing to sue the city over this ordinance. As Baxa said, "They [the abortion industry] have nowhere else to go unless they try to reopen this case, which they could do at some point. But I don't think they'll try to reopen it...They're upset that we've won, and that abortion is banned in Lubbock, Texas, and the Planned Parenthood there is no longer killing babies."

As the first law in effect since Roe that completely protects life in the womb from the moment of conception, this is a huge win for the unborn. Alongside the Texas Heartbeat Act, this law is saving lives. And neither law would have come to pass without the faith of a pastor and the help of many other pastors.

In 2019, when an abortion clinic was set to open on the outskirts of Waskom, Texas, pastor Mark Lee Dickson teamed up with State Senator Bryan Hughes and attorney Jonathan Mitchell to construct a sanctuary city bill that would prevent the killing of unborn babies within the city limits. The city council passed the bill, and although no abortion clinics existed within the town limits, this home to 2,000 became a safe haven for children in the womb. At least 38 other jurisdictions followed Waskom's lead, which also helped inspire the Texas Heartbeat legislation.

One such jurisdiction was Lubbock, Texas -- a city of over 250,000 people. Unlike other municipalities that passed sanctuary legislation, Lubbock had an active abortion clinic. Still, the faith of pro-life Christians did not waiver. The sanctuary city proposal was brought before the city council, which unanimously rejected it, stating that Roe v. Wadewas the law of the land and this law could not go into effect. But nothing is impossible for God.

Dickson, Baxa, Texas State Senator Charles Perry (a deacon at Southcrest Baptist Church), and other ardent pro-lifers led the charge requesting placing the sanctuary city ordinance on the ballot. Pro-life leaders argued that the people of Lubbock should have the option to vote on ordaining Lubbock a sanctuary city for the unborn, "Because we fear God, view the intentional shedding of the blood of unborn children to be an inconceivably wicked action, and we believe that we all have a responsibility to protect the lives of the smallest and most vulnerable humans among us."

When asked about the importance of pastors in driving sanctuary cities for the unborn, Baxa responded, "The pastors were everything. You know, I'm just one activist trying to kind of take a step up in leadership role in this, but the pastors did it."

The ballot initiative passed by an overwhelming 62 percent majority, making Lubbock abortion-free from the moment of conception. As of January 21, Lubbock is the first city since Roe to uphold a law completely protecting life beginning with conception.

Sixty-two percent of voters in Lubbock voted to defend life. That same body of voters previously elected legislators who unanimously opposed making Lubbock a sanctuary city for the unborn. Something happened in between those two votes. As Baxa said, "The pastors made sure that there was a sign outside of every church in the city. Two hundred different churches had a sign up front saying Vote for Life. Vote for the Unborn... And it was an amazing sight to see."

Lives are being saved in Texas. Baxa commended the pastors who stood up and said, "We're going to do what's right. We're going to love these babies. We're going to love our neighbor. And we're going to lead our flock." He has a directive for others who would like to join the sanctuary city movement, "I point them to the website, and I point them to their city council and to the pastors in the community. Because if the pastors don't lead this, we'll never win. It's always got to be pastor-driven."

Congress Should Respect Human Rights; The 'Global Respect Act' Doesn't

January 27, 2022

The U.S. House of Representatives could soon consider the Global Respect Act (H.R. 3485). Although the title sounds benign, this bill would harm U.S. foreign policy by inserting a radical gender ideology into America's human rights efforts.

The Global Respect Act would enable visa bans against foreign individuals accused of violating the human rights of LGBT-identifying persons and require additional reporting on the status of human rights for LGBT-identifying persons. It would also require the U.S. State Department to designate a senior officer to track violence and discrimination against LGBT-identifying individuals abroad.

While this bill is likely to please progressives, its existence is unnecessary. Current law already enables the U.S. government to sanction foreign persons responsible for human rights violations against anyone, including LGBT-identifying persons. These include visa sanctions, but also Global Magnitsky Sanctions, which are stronger, financial sanctions.

Not only is this bill unnecessary, but more importantly, it will inevitably derail the protection of foundational human rights with which these new "rights" will be seen to conflict.

The far Left frequently asserts that even the failure to affirm someone's sexual orientation and gender identity is a denial of human rights. If that's how the State Department would interpret the Global Respect Act, then foreign individuals such as pastors, teachers, judges, journalists, or private citizens voicing opinions rooted in their faith are at risk of being victimized by this bill.

Such an approach would directly conflict with America's historical commitment to religious freedom around the world and the mechanisms put into place by law to promote religious freedom. These mechanisms include the position of ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and annual country reports on international religious freedom. Instead of giving religious freedom the prominent place in foreign policy it should hold, Democratic leadership is sidelining it and pushing policies like this in its place.

The broad language used in the Global Respect Act would offer State Department officials an opportunity to target ideological opponents abroad. Grace Melton, the Heritage Foundation's senior associate for international social issues, explains how this bill could be exploited:

"In a world where even "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling can be attacked for observing the potential for gender ideology to hurt women, it is not a stretch to imagine that the legislation's undefined terms, such as 'complicity,' 'inciting,' and 'cruel,' or 'degrading' treatment, could be applied to pastors, rabbis, or imams preaching against what their faiths consider to be sexual sins. Or against a concerned mother seeking to protect her gender-dysphoric child from a school's or medical authorities' attempts to 'transition' him or her away from his or her biological sex."

It's entirely inappropriate for the U.S. government to hold countries to standards on "LGBT rights" that are not articulated in international human rights treaties. It's even worse to punish foreign individuals who simply wish to express their sincerely-held religious beliefs, thereby violating the rights to freedom of religion and expression. Yet, this is how the Global Respect Act could be enforced if it passes.

Religious believers around the world are facing increased scrutiny for their beliefs about marriage and family. Current Finnish member of parliament and devout Christian Päivi Räsänen was criminally charged by the Finnish prosecutor general over comments she made affirming God's design for sexuality as understood in the Bible.

This is a clear violation of Ms. Räsänen's religious freedom. Given the United States' longstanding commitment to promoting religious freedom abroad, it's a no-brainer that U.S. diplomats such as the ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom should be speaking out on her behalf. But if the Global Respect Act were passed, would she be sanctioned instead?

Individuals sanctioned because of the Global Respect Act could include officials from allied nations like Poland, Hungary, or any number of African countries--many of which are not human rights abusers but do hold to traditional beliefs on marriage and sexuality. This is sure to strain U.S. relations with allies and harm American foreign policy.

If members of Congress truly want to do something to promote human rights, there is no shortage of challenges to tackle. Congressmembers' efforts would be better spent working to secure Priority 2 (P-2) status for endangered Afghan religious minorities, passing a resolution to condemn forced marriage and conversion in Pakistan, or using the ramp-up to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics as an opportunity to press for the release of Chinese prisoners of conscience.

Sadly, rather than protect internationally recognized human rights, the Global Respect Act is a purely ideological bill that distracts from pressing international crises, could be used to target American allies, and fails to protect religious freedom. Congress should reject this bill and instead bolster authentic human rights efforts.