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

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

Hate Speech, and Why I Think It Is Under Fire

I have a Google Alert for the phrase ‘hate speech.’ Any news article with that phrase that Google knows about, is put in my inbox.  I now get links to stories all over the world.

I’ve come to some conclusions.  This hate speech accusation thing is big. 

From South Africa to Indonesia, and the U.S. and UK, people are finding themselves in trouble for words which in another day might have been acceptable.

The Tanjungbalai Police on Thursday announced they had received statements from language experts with North Sumatra University in regards to alleged insults uttered by a Chinese-Indonesian resident named Meliana against a religion. 

That’s from Indonesia, where they had to bring in experts because there was a language issue — and they really were not really sure what Meliana said.Experts had to be brought in to decipher what she said.  How much damage could her words have done?   Apparently she complained about the sounds of the Muslim call to prayer.  

If you’ve never heard the call to prayer, just wait.  You will, in your neighborhood eventually.  It’s like Michael Bolton, but in Arabic.



Chelsea Clinton told the critical thinkers on The View that 2016 brought the normalization of ‘hate speech.’  As usual for a leftist, she has it backwards. 2016 has brought us the criminalization and codification of so-called hate speech. 



Where it is not a crime, it’s a political death-threat.  Donald Trump is being blamed for an uptick in racial and cultural bigotry.  So, he’s responsible for the statements of others, and his campaign has a ‘whiff’ of racism?  I hear those accusations all the time in the press.  

Aren’t political statements supposed to be the most free of all?  Yet Clinton, her mother and her side of the political aisle hope to silence opponents with labels of hate.

In Quebec, Canada, they fined a comedian $35,000 for telling a rude joke.  

In Louisiana, a man has been charged with a hate crime for calling a police officer a n—-.  Mind you, I would never insult anyone because of race, and don’t condone the behavior, but Louisiana has recently added police to the hate speech law already in effect.  

In France, an anti-racism group is taking legal action against a mayor who said that to be French, you must be European. 



Some of this is left wing, some is pro-Islam some of this is just about a lack of emotional strength and intellectual heft.  

Muslims want anti-blasphemy laws, to shield them from any criticism.  My crack about the call to prayer, above in bright blue, would get me charges in France, a fine in Quebec, and a beheading in most of the Middle East. 

Some of it is politics.  The left has few facts on their side when debating immigration, crime, the status of the black family,  the war on poverty and many other issues.  Easier to just call people haters, and then call their followers haters, and if necessary, call those who listen to the facts haters.

Some of this is related to the wussification of the young American mind.  Chalk the nameTrump on a sidewalk, and watch the future leaders of the country curl into the fetal position, while calling for the firing of the Dean of Sidewalks.  They never learned that America is their safe space, and also their free speech zone.  



What to do about this?  We need to stay aware of local situations which dovetail with this issue.  We need to constantly add a voice to the debate.  Always emphasis “I hate what so-and-so said, but this is the country where even stupid and hateful but non-violent words are protected.”

Don’t let anyone call verbal exchanges ‘attacks.’  Pearl Harbor was an attack.

Remind people that there is a fundamental right at stake. Can somebody declare your non-violent statements as hateful, and therefore illegal or forbidden?  Where in the Constitution is that? And what kind of country do you leave to your children if you accept that premise?

When a leftist says “I have a right to…” and the rest of the phrase has to do with their comfort, ignorance or some other fiction, call them on it.  You do not have a right not to be offended.  You do not have a right to never see my religious beliefs in practice.  You do not have a right never to learn a new perspective.

Remember that the left thinks they have made an important point once they’ve declared something is ‘hate.’  So what?  Somebody on your side said what somebody else said is hateful. That’s called a debate.  It’s America.   We do this here.  We’ve survived stupid, evil and hate without the meddling of leftist editors.

People have said hateful, hurtful, disrespectful and stupid things for centuries here, without the heavy hand of a censor. We don’t need them now.

Hate Speech, and Why I Think It Is Under Fire

The White House Press Office is Really Interested in Religious Freedom

The US State Department put out the report on religious freedom this week, and guess what?  There’s not much.  The White House put out a Fact Sheet dated Wednesday (8/10/16) which starts with this:

“[P]romoting religious freedom is a key objective of U.S. foreign policy. And I’m proud that no nation on Earth does more to stand up for the freedom of religion around the world than the United States of America.”

                 –  President Barack Obama, February 6, 2014

[I’ll get to this in a moment. – Dave]



Throughout the Obama Administration, the U.S. Government has prioritized efforts to promote freedom of religion globally as a universal human right, a strategic national interest, and as a key foreign policy objective.  The Administration has praised countries that have made strides to promote religious freedom, assisted governments in taking steps to address shortcomings, and denounced severe violators of religious freedom; provided support to individuals who have been persecuted on account of their beliefs, and advocated for the rights of religious minorities.  The Obama Administration has also worked closely with civil society organizations, including religious communities, in promoting freedom of religion or belief for all people.

The “Fact Sheet” didn’t have a picture, so I grabbed one from the web:

I’m not insinuating that this administration is slow-rolling the fight against ISIS, or that they could be doing more to save persecuted people around the world.  They’ve worked hard on this stuff. 

I do think that when the boss wants to send something out to show strength, leadership and commitment, it’s kinda important to include a fresh quote on the subject.

FACT.png

Maybe I’m just being cranky on this particular subject. Pray we find a solution to the slaughter of people at the hands of religious zealots.  Pray we can keep not only our Christian brothers and sisters safe, but that we can offer religious and personal freedom to the world. — Your in Christ, Dave Alexander

 

 

The White House Press Office is Really Interested in Religious Freedom

Three Quarters of the World Lives Under Shadow of Religious Persecution

And in many places, it can get you killed.

The State Department released their annual report on religious freedom:

I edited this for length, but the original is worth a read at the link.

March 19 began as an ordinary day for 27-year old Farkhunda Malikzada. Farkhunda lived in Kabul, Afghanistan…

On March 19, Farkhunda’s dreams came to a tragic end when she was falsely accused of burning the Quran, an accusation that resulted in her brutal and senseless death.

A crowd quickly gathered to hear the incendiary accusations. Quran burning is a grave religious offense in many Islamic countries, where it is viewed as a form of blasphemy.

Farkhunda denied the accusations and tried to defend herself from the increasingly agitated mob. Before long, a member of the crowd urged the mob to take “justice” into its own hands and kill her. Some of the police nearby tried to intervene as the crowd began to beat Farkhunda and pull at her clothing. The police officers gave up, however, and watched as the crowd tormented and killed its victim. She was beaten with sticks and boards, kicked, run over by a car and dragged, thrown into a dry riverbed, stoned, and finally set on fire as bystanders recorded the crime and police watched every act of barbarity.



Christian Today (UK Site, not the big magazine)

Three-quarters of the world’s population suffer from severe restrictions on religious freedom, the US State Department said on Wednesday.

The 2015 International Religious Freedom Report released on August 10 said that a quarter of countries around the world, which account for about 75 per cent of the global population, curtail religious liberty through “government policies or the hostile acts of individuals, organizations, or societal groups.”

“Around the world, governments continued to tighten their regulatory grip on religious groups, and particularly on minority religious groups and religions which are viewed as not traditional to that specific country,” the report, which is released annually, said.

The full report tells what we know: Countries with Muslim populations, and those near ISIS/Da’esh strongholds are very dangerous places for Christians, Muslims of the wrong sect, and anybody in the wrong place and the wrong time.

I’m impressed that the US State Department highlighted a tragedy perpetrated by Muslims in the report.  Good on them.  Now, is anything going to happen?

Three Quarters of the World Lives Under Shadow of Religious Persecution

Is ISLAM a Religion?

Some thoughts from PJ Media writer David Solway:

  • It sanctions militant proselytization, mandating forcible imposition on other peoples by coercion, threat and overt violence (Koran 8:39, 9:29, etc.), a practice unique among religions today.
  • It punishes apostasy with death (Koran 4:89; Hadith, Bukhari 9.84.57), also a practice unique among religions today.
  • It countenances no separation between church and state, that is, it cannot render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.

We in the US are uncomfortable with discrimination based upon religion, but can we abide with the three ideas above?

As a citizen, I demand that those invited here should have a worldview which will not demand my daughters to wear modest clothing, will not kill those who change religions, and which respects the role of state and religion.

Have I become a bigot?  I don’t think so.  In fact, those who hold three ideas within their hearts are bigger bigots than I will ever be.

The article is quite long, and thoughtful, and is here.

 

Is ISLAM a Religion?

A Very Interesting Question

Do you have a freedom to worship or freedom of religion?

Dr. James Dobson asks:

I’m sure you know that the Pilgrims came to our shores in 1620, seeking freedom to worship as their consciences dictated. Their passion for Jesus Christ became ingrained in the American soul, and greatly influenced our Founding Fathers as they formed a new government in the 18th century. These men wrote and passed the historic U.S. Constitution, and added to it a Bill of Rights shortly thereafter. It consisted of 10 Amendments guaranteeing specific liberties for the American people. There has never been anything like it in the history of the world. The first of the 10 Amendments secured religious liberties for all citizens and provided the foundation for the other nine.”

I continued, “In recent years, however, there has been a growing assault on these rights, notably religious liberty. Our Supreme Court has struck down Bible reading in schools and even prohibited prayer to an unidentified God. Then, they banned the posting of the Ten Commandments on bulletin boards. From there, the limitation on religious liberties has become even more egregious.

“Most recently, President Obama and Hillary Clinton have been referring to ‘freedom of worship,’ rather than ‘freedom of religion.’ Do you understand their motive? They are suggesting that Americans are free to worship in their churches and synagogues, but not in the public square.”

In the opinion article, Dr. Dobson tells about his chance to ask Donald Trump a question, the response and his concerns about Christian media.

I admire the ability of some people to catch the rhetorical changes which mean so much.  Dr. Dobson is correct of course, that the opinions of Christians, Jews and other faithful people are being forced from the public square.

Oddly, this comes at exactly the same moment that the views of some more physically aggressive religious people (and they know who they are) are being enshrined in law in Europe and the UK.



Will you be chased into the shadows by those who think they can “let you” worship, but will force you to stay silent in the public square?  Do the lessons of faith and God inform you as a citizen?

 

A Very Interesting Question