International Religious Freedom Act Heads to the President

WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 2016 /Christian Newswire/ — The U.S. House of Representatives passed and sent to the President’s desk the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act (H.R. 1150) yesterday. 

The bipartisan bill, authored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and co-sponsored by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), will give the Administration and the State Department new tools, resources and training to help counter extremism and the growing persecution of religious minorities globally.

The act seems to give the U.S. government ways to take worldwide religious freedom seriously…or not, depending on the way the winds blow:

  • Creates a “Designated Persons List” for individuals who commit egregious violations of religious freedom
     
  • Creates a comprehensive religious prisoners list—persons who are detained, imprisoned, tortured and subject to forced remission of faith.
     
  • Integrates religious freedom into every aspect of U.S. foreign policy
     
  • Strengthens the Special Advisor for religious freedom at the National Security Council
     
  • Requires international religious freedom training for all Foreign Service Officers
     
  • Requires that the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom report directly to the Secretary of State

There’s more.

When ISIS stops walking people out to be butchered, when churches in the middle east stop blowing up, and when carrying a Bible in Saudi Arabia is okay, then I’ll be encouraged.

UPDATE:

 12/14/2016 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Andrew Brunson, a Christian leader of a Protestant church in Izmir, Turkey, was imprisoned by Turkish officials on Friday after 63 days of detention. While details remain scarce, ICC sources say that Andrew has now been transferred from the Harmandali Detention Center to the Sakran 3 Nolu T Tipi Prison near Izmir, despite quiet efforts by the US State Department and Members of Congress to negotiate his release over the past several weeks.

 
International Religious Freedom Act Heads to the President

Christian Couple Agree With Pastor

And some folks lose their minds.

Every now and then they pick a new Pope, and the media reacts oddly surprised when the new Pontiff says things which are Catholic.  The new Pope seems to have broken that mold, by doing and saying things which are not actually so Catholic at all.  But this post isn’t about them, but the stars of a reality show.

 

The Mainstream Media and militant LGBT activists are unleashing their fury over reports the Gaines family attends Antioch Community Church, a non-denominational megachurch.

“Chip and Joanna Gaines’s Pastor Preaches ‘Homosexuality is a Sin'” – blared a headline on Cosmopolitan.

“Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Church is Firmly Against Same-Sex Marriage,” screamed a Buzzfeed headline. “Their pastor considers homosexuality to be a ‘sin’ caused by abuse – whether the Fixer Upper couple agrees is unclear.”

What the shiplap, America?!     <–That’s a running joke about the show. — Dave

“Their pastor, Jimmy Seibert, is both staunchly against same-sex marriage and a strong believer that homosexuality is a ‘lifestyle’ choice and a ‘sin’,” Cosmo reported.

This bit of news was more than their feeble journalistic minds could handle.

“Given the diversity of Fixer Upper‘s audience, this is a startling revelation that has left many wondering where Chip and Jo stand,” Cosmo reported.

Click on the picture for an essay in the Washington Post which takes a different direction.

I know that the writers for major media outlets figure Christians are something to be studied by anthropologists. They hope someday they (or we) will be studied by archaeologists.  

Still, you’d think that in a world busting at the seams with conflict, the idea that these nice looking folks respect the words of their holy book and pastor would be boring.

Unless the publicity is an attempt to pull them down, like the treatment dished out to the Duggar family, or the Palins, or the Robertson family.  You wouldn’t think that’s the plan, wouldya?

 

 

Christian Couple Agree With Pastor

Don’t Fall for the Bait and Switch: Freedom to Worship

From Ryan T. Anderson of  the Daily Signal:

Donald Trump promised that he would make America great again. If he is to make good on that promise, he’ll need to start by robustly restoring our first freedom: the free exercise of religion.

Unfortunately, under President Barack Obama’s administration, it came in for attack as never before. Thankfully, many of those attacks can be rectified in the very first days of a Trump administration.

Trump should commit to protecting the free exercise of religion for all Americans of all faiths. In her concession speech, Hillary Clinton referred to the “freedom of worship”—piety limited to a synagogue, church, or mosque. But what the American founders protected was the right of all to live out their faith every day of the week in public and in private, provided they peacefully respect the rights of others.

Atheists need no protection anymore to pursue their Godless, deity-free form of humanism in the public square. I mean no insult to those without God in their worldview, but yeah.  Quote me.

It’s really not much for the left to agree to allow Christians, Jews and other people of faith to practice their religion in houses of worship.  It is in fact an insult to try and slide by a basic point: The First Amendment was written to free religion from government, and not government from religion. My faith does not stop at the church door at 12:15 on a Sunday.

It is a part of who religious people are.  When we are citizens also, I expect that our citizenship decisions should also be guided by faith.

Does this mean America is a Christian nation?  We’re a nation of laws, written by people.  Some of those people will be Christians, and others will have other world views.  In nation of laws, everybody has rights.  Atheists, Jews, Muslims…all of us.

Of course you might disagree,  Meet you at the courthouse and the legislature.

Don’t Fall for the Bait and Switch: Freedom to Worship

Erdogan Takes Back Christian Church For Islam

Can somebody please remind the Islamists that this is NOT a Holy war?  And that they’re a religion of peace?

PJ Media:

The Hagia Sophia is one of the most beautiful and well-known buildings in the world — and Islamists have detested that fact for years. After all, it is a Christian church, and therefore a Christian symbol.

That’s why the Ottoman Turks wasted little time transforming the church into a mosque when they invaded and conquered Constantinople (Istanbul) centuries ago. Christian symbols and works of art were destroyed or covered, and a dominating tower was built from which the Islamic call to prayer could be sung.

The Ottomans did that because they wanted to show Christians that, from then onwards, Islam was in power. Christianity would be subjugated.

That changed in the 20th century, when the Ottoman Empire fell and was succeeded by the secular Turkish Republic. The Hagia Sophia was declared a neutral place for Christians and Muslims (and for people of all other religions). The church/mosque was made into a museum where everybody was welcome.

 

Now under new management. (Wikipedia.) 

This fear has now been validated: last Friday, the Turkish government announced that it had appointed a permanent imam to the Hagia Sophia.

This means that the Islamic call to prayer will now be heard five times a day, instead of two times — and that it will basically function as any other mosque:

 It’s a tremendous slap in the face of Turkish Christians, who already are an increasingly beleaguered minority.

Earlier this month, Rev. Andrew Brunson and his wife Norine were arrested for supposedly being “national security threats.” That’s an excuse this government always uses to take out those who don’t support the president. Brunson has been arrested because of his work for Christ.

Pray for them, the other Turkish Christians, and even pray for those who say they are enemies of Christianity.

Erdogan Takes Back Christian Church For Islam

Religious Freedom is Non-negotiable

Russell Shaw, writing at Aleitia reminds us that at the beginning, our government could declare it had no business meddling in the religious freedom of Americans:

But an incident back in 1783 points to the most compelling reason for concern about these matters.

At that time the papal nuncio in Paris asked Benjamin Franklin, the American representative there, to sound out the Continental Congress on the establishment of a Catholic diocese in the then-emerging new nation. The Continental Congress replied that it had no “jurisdiction and power” over what the Church chose to do about that.

This was a historic turning-point. In a departure from the practice of centuries, religious freedom would be unfettered in the United States.

______________________________________________________________

I seem to be writing more and more about the religious parts of the  First Amendment.  All of that part of the Constitution is at risk.  But if religious freedoms are nibbled away by government and its liberal surrogates, we’ve lost it all.

______________________________________________________________

Shaw is writing about the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear a Washington State case about a family pharmacy whose owners did not wish to dispense a drug which caused abortion. There were plenty of nearby drug stores which would dispense the abortifacient, but the government insists the family pharmacy also needs to dispense a drug which violates their religious principles.  By refusing to hear the case, the lower court’s decision against religious liberty stands.

Shaw also responds to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which through its chairman stated that “religious liberty” and “religious freedom”  are frequent code words for “discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia” and other reprehensible behavior. 

Here’s another case from Illinois:

Crisis pregnancy centers in northern Illinois have filed a federal lawsuit saying their employees’ freedom of speech and religious rights will be violated if the state forces them to give patients information about abortion services.  

The provision takes effect on Jan. 1 and requires health care providers with a “conscience-based objection” to have protocols in place by then for giving patients information about – or referrals to – other health care providers who will discuss or offer such services.

“The government shouldn’t be putting messages in people’s mouths,” Noel Sterett, an attorney for the centers, said this week.

The religious crisis pregnancy centers are being forced to provide information about abortion centers when asked by patients.  They are in effect telling religious people at church ministries to go against their consciences.

I don’t need “code words.”

Religious freedom is non negotiable.  Politicians and courts which meddle in church affairs do so at their own political peril.  

Religious Freedom is Non-negotiable

“Can we imagine the civil rights movement without Rev. Martin Luther King…”

Dwight Duncan, at The Boston Pilot.com

On Sept. 7, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issued a report on reconciling nondiscrimination principles with civil liberties. The summary stated, “Civil rights protections ensuring nondiscrimination…are of preeminent importance in American jurisprudence. Religious exemptions to the protections of civil rights based upon classifications such as … sexual orientation and gender identity…significantly infringe upon these civil rights.”

As the commission’s chairman, Martin Castro, said in an accompanying statement, “The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance.”

– snip –

As Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chair of the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference Committee for Religious Liberty said in response to Chairman Castro’s statement, “These statements painting those who support religious freedom with the broad brush of bigotry are reckless and reveal a profound disregard for the religious foundations of his own work…. Men and women of faith were many in number during the most powerful marches of the civil rights era. Can we imagine the civil rights movement without Rev. Martin Luther King, Father Theodore Hesburgh, and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel?”gods-wrath-1235882

____________________________________________________________

Can you imagine a positive, transformative movement without people of faith?  Hardly.

As for the ‘religious exemptions,’ they will be a part of law, no doubt.  When a Muslim woman working for the town recreation program says she really can’t sell tickets to the pig pickin, there will be an exemption.

Christians for the most part have stepped away from the notion of preventing gay marriage.    Those who hold out hope to end the practice are probably just working to prevent their denomination from adopting the practice.  

Is it so unreasonable that Christians and other people of faith explain that while they can’t do the ceremony, or make a cake or take delivery of the actual pig at the pig roast…there are others who can do the job.

Have there been a lot of stories of gay couples unable to marry, or buy a cake, or get fitted for tuxedos for their weddings?  I mean of course since the courts decided it is a new right?  Have I been missing these stories?

As early as the 1840s, Abraham Lincoln had occasion to join his voice to the cause of religious freedom when the nativism of the Know-Nothings was exhibiting a certain anti-Catholic strain: “The guarantee of the rights of conscience, as found in our Constitution, is most sacred and inviolable, and one that belongs no less to the Catholic, than to the Protestant, and…all attempts to abridge or interfere with these rights, either of Catholic or Protestant, either directly or indirectly, have our decided disapprobation, and shall ever have our most effective opposition.”

Religious folks are not nearly as mean as the members of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission imagine.  It is Castro and his commission which has the ‘broad brush of bigotry’ firmly in hand.

I strongly believe this is part of a much broader attempt to chase faith from the public square.  Yeah.  Over my dead keyboard. — Dave

“Can we imagine the civil rights movement without Rev. Martin Luther King…”

The Supreme Court, Religious Freedom and a Playground

The Supreme Court will soon consider the case of a Missouri Lutheran pre-school which was denied a grant to improve their playground — even though the state program helps other non-profits.  More Signs 1

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM:  Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Pauley

AT ISSUE: Whether the exclusion of churches from a publicly funded aid program violates the Free Exercise and Equal Protection Clauses, if the state cannot establish a sufficiently valid Establishment Clause concern.

THE CASE: A local Christian church — supported by the nonprofit Becket Fund — sued after being denied Missouri state funds to improve the surface of a playground used by its preschool. The program gives grants to nonprofits seeking a safer recreational environment for children. Missouri law prohibits direct government aid to educational institutions that have a religious affiliation.

 

The Becket Fund puts it more bluntly:

The State of Missouri wants to make sure children run on safe playgrounds – unless they attend a religious school.

snip –

…the State denied the grant solely because the school is associated with a church. The State cited the Blaine Amendment, an arcane anti-Catholic and bigoted law that prohibits religious affiliated organizations from participating in public programs. This blatant discrimination prompted Trinity Lutheran to sue the state of Missouri in 2013.

 

 

The Supreme Court, Religious Freedom and a Playground