Category archives: Religion & Culture

FRC’s Tony Perkins Urges for Meriam Ibrahim’s Release before House Subcommittee

by FRC Media Office

July 23, 2014

Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins testified today before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations regarding the case of Meriam Ibrahim.  You can read the testimony here.

Nearly 53,000 people signed a WhiteHouse.gov petition launched by FRC asking President Obama to grant her expedited safe haven in the United States.

Persecuted: Would You Remain Silent?

by Nathan Oppman

July 15, 2014

This week, a movie will be released about persecution coming to modern day America, the persecution of Christians. Not for failing to renounce a belief but for failing to go along with a pluralist law that asks all religion to set aside their differences under the guise of anti-terrorism. I encourage you to go see this movie and consider its implications for the future of America. (Note: it is not for children and includes some violent images). Here is a synopsis of the plot from the movie’s website:

The new movie Persecuted opening in July 2014 depicts evangelist John Luther as the last obstacle in the way of sweeping religious reform. When a Senator frames Luther for the murder of an innocent teenage girl, an unprecedented era of persecution is unleashed. An evangelist turned fugitive, Luther’s mission brings him face-to-face with the coming storm of persecution that will threaten the entire Christian community in America.

America has long had a tradition of religious freedom for individuals. It is difficult to imagine a world of persecution in America, such as what is being experienced regularly by Christians in the Middle East or by those in Communist dictatorships such as North Korea. Perhaps, we will never see such persecution. But that does not mean we won’t see persecution. The one thing that is hardly tolerated in America is stating that something is wrong. We must be politically correct.

Political correctness is not only annoying, it is dangerous. Orwell once said that “freedom was the ability to say that 2+2=4.” If a man can no longer speak the truth, he is no longer free. John Luther was told to stop speaking the truth or risk everything. When faced with such a choice, would you be silent?

Hostility to Religion in America” — new FRC publication

by Rob Schwarzwalder

July 8, 2014

As we have just witnessed in some of the responses to last week’s Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision, there are those in our country who would not only diminish religious liberty through government coercion but denigrate as an archaism that our culture should jettison. According to C.J. Werleman in Salon, “The hyper-religious conservatives on the bench of the nation’s high court, all of whom were appointed by Republican presidents, see the federal government as being controlled by ‘secular humanists’ who wish to make war against the purity of the Christian belief system. Like the 89 million Americans who count themselves as evangelicals, they seek total cultural and political domination … The American Taliban is on a roll” – and America is a “corporate theocracy.”

Yikes - all that from a decision that says a privately-held company can’t be forced by the government to serve as a conduit for potentially abortifacient drugs. Who knew?

Granted, Werleman’s comments are extreme. Still, they nonetheless reflect the rage of those for whom religious liberty is a matter of ultimate privacy – one’s personal thoughts and occasional, four-walled worship. Rather, religious liberty is the very foundation of all other liberties: If our liberties and dignity do not come from a personal, sovereign Creator, from whence do they come? And if they do come from Him, then government’s role is one of stewardship of those rights, not manipulation or erasure of them.

So, when government seeks to curtail religious liberty, it is affronting the God Who gave it, and asserting its authority to abate all other freedoms. If the ability to believe and practice (in public as well as private life) one’s faith is eroded, what is the foundation of our other rights and liberties? The whim of the state is an unnerving master.

FRC has been at the forefront of the effort to “preserve, protect, and defend” our religious liberty, which is why we wanted you to know about our most recent publication, “Hostility to Religion: The Growing Threat to Religious Liberty in the United States.”

This publication, collated by the Director of FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty, Georgetown-trained lawyer Travis Weber, contains a list of documented accounts of hostility toward faith in the United States today, broken down in the following four definable types of incidents:

  • Section I: Suppression of Religious Expression in the Public Square
  • Section II: Suppression of Religious Expression in Schools and Universities
  • Section III: Censure of Religious Viewpoints Regarding Sexuality
  • Section IV: Suppression of Religious Expression on Sexuality Using Nondiscrimination Laws

Hostility to Religion” can be both downloaded and shared on-line at no charge. Please use this resource in considering the stakes for people of faith in a culture in which articulate religious belief is viewed by some as comic and pathetic and, thus, unimportant and disposable. We need to keep making the argument, graciously but consistently and firmly, that religious liberty matters – to everyone.

Think About What You Are Seeing

by Rob Schwarzwalder

June 17, 2014

Two ironic but related headlines in today’s news:

(1) From U.S. News and World Report: “Iraqi Christians flee homes as Sunni militants seize land; many say they’re not going back.” Quote: “During the past 11 years, at least half of the country’s Christian population has fled the country (Iraq), according to some estimates, to escape frequent attacks by Sunni Muslim militants targeting them and their churches. Now many of those who held out and remained may be giving up completely after fighters belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant swept over the city of Mosul and a broad swath of the country the past week.”

(2) From The Chicago Tribune: “Met Opera cancels live transmission due to anti-Semitism concerns.” Quote: “New York’s Metropolitan Opera announced on Tuesday that it has cancelled its plans for a live transmission of the opera ‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ in movie theaters because of concerns that it could fan global anti-Semitism.”

Christians around the world are under pressure, if not overt persecution. Jews are the subjects of a growing, noxious anti-Semitism that threatens the very existence of the State of Israel, let alone the lives of individual Jews around the world.

So, consider the unique irony of this story: old-line Protestant denominations are getting into the act.

United Methodists: “The pension board of the nation’s largest mainline Protestant denomination, the United Methodist Church, has decided to divest its shares in a British company that supplies security equipment to Israel for use in prisons and in the occupied West Bank.”

United Church of Christ: “The United Church of Christ (has) called for a boycott of goods produced in Israeli settlements, including eastern Jerusalem. In a new report released a few days ago in Canada, which will have severe consequences for the congregation in North America, the Church calls for an economic divestment against the Jewish State.”

Presbyterian Church USA: “The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) appears to be on the brink of handing a major victory to a movement that wants institutions to wield their investment dollars against Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians. The Presbyterian General Assembly, gathering in Detroit through next week, will consider withdrawing its investments from some companies whose products are used by the Israeli government in the Palestinian territories. Divestment advocates were narrowly outmaneuvered at the last Presbyterian convention in 2012, losing a crucial ballot by just two votes. They enter this year’s fight with signs of increasing momentum, within and outside the church.”

So, to be clear: Professed heralds of the Gospel of Jesus – a Jew – decide with great moral unction to jettison investments in companies that are in or do business with Israel.

As FRC has documented, religious liberty in the U.S. is being pressed and diminished. Internationally, the Jewish people and/or the State of Israel are being marginalized, often by professing Western Christians.

There is no space to go into all the theological, historical, or political ironies of these actions. Is the modern State of Israel flawless? Of course not – no human government or institution is untainted by sin and short-sightedness. But is Israel the one beacon of hope, decency, and liberty in the Middle East? Yes, without question. And has Israel been victimized, and the Jewish people brutalized, in ways we dislike even considering? Yes. And yes.

Every morning, I drive past the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. and observe a sign that says, “Think about what you saw.” The memory of the Holocaust should burn in our memories. It’s freakish evil should be an ongoing reminder of the rapidity with which gross malevolence can erupt. Yet in the ostensibly free and sophisticated West, our failure to think about what we know is deliberate, and chilling.

Christians, are you thinking about what you’re reading?

Your Voice is Needed to Save Meriam Ibrahim

by Hannah Solem

June 17, 2014

Since having the privilege of interning at the Family Research Council this summer, I have been reminded of how crucial it is for Christians to be informed about what is going on in our culture. Not only is it our responsibility to be informed citizens, but it is an honor to live in a nation where we can use our voice to share our beliefs. Last week, I had the opportunity to raise my voice outside the doorstep of the White House for Meriam Ibrahim.

Meriam and I both love the Lord Jesus and we are both committed Christians. Yet, Meriam has endured persecution for her faith that I cannot even fathom. She was raised in a Christian home and married a Christian American citizen. Amidst severe scrutiny by the Sudanese government, Meriam has remained vocal about her faith and has refused to renounce Christ. As a result, Meriam, along with her two children who are likely eligible for U.S. citizenship, has been shackled in a Khartoum prison since January of this year. If not overturned, Meriam has been sentenced to a beating of 100 lashes and death by hanging. Though she is pressed down on every side, she has remained true to our Lord.

Fortunate to live in a nation where I can utilize my freedom of religion and freedom of speech, last Thursday, I participated in a rally to demand this woman’s release. I joined several others outside the gates of the White House where we urged the Obama administration to take action to help with Meriam’s release. We rallied outside the doors of the White House and we called on President Obama to grant her immediately safe haven.

Let me be clear, every part of me believes that we are to speak the truth in love. It is from a heart that is overflowing with love that I pray for those in authority over me; it is from this same heart that I urged my leaders to help release this woman and her young children.

This life refuses to adopt a lifestyle of passivity. In the words of William Wilberforce, “You may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know.” Every part of me refuses to look the other way.

One day, Christ will come and He will establish His eternal reign. Until then, Paul exhorts the church in Ephesians 6 to “having done all, stand.” Have we done all to act on this woman’s behalf?

Our help is needed. Our voices are needed. Our time to act is now. Please join me in signing this petition for Meriam’s release: www.frc.org/sudan. We are more than halfway to our goal of 100,000 signers, which is the number the White House requires before it will respond to a citizens’ petition.

To whom much has been given, much will be expected. Americans have been given much. We’ve been given a voice. We’ve been given freedom. Let’s be wise stewards.

Our Father

by Emma Vinton

June 13, 2014

When I was young, my father used to take each of his children out to spend a day with him. Whether it was playing putt-putt golf, getting lunch, or spending a day with him at work, our “day with dad” was always an anticipated treat. Then, those days were times devoted to bonding and having fun with dad. Now, those days have built memories and lasting foundations of love that I would not trade for the world. I was learning to walk in Dad’s footsteps.

When we celebrate our fathers on Father’s Day, we honor men who have ultimately given their lives to the vocation of fatherhood. We are not recognizing men who are handy with tools, or who like cars, sports, and beer, as Hallmark cards so often try to sell us on. We commemorate men who have chosen fatherhood as a primary role in life and who regard all other occupations as inferior. Rather than submitting to the materialist mindset so prevalent, the recognition of the significance of fatherhood grows more potent every day. This is why it is vital to celebrate fathers in a society that degrades strong male figures and attacks traditional fatherhood.

Scripture tells us that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the Church, and to lay down his life for her if necessary. Earthly fathers are figures of our Heavenly Father, and they direct us upward to him. Father’s Day reminds us that, though it is a day to celebrate our earthly fathers, everyday should be one spent with our Heavenly Father, from Whom all blessings flow.

In a letter written to his son on the topics of love, manhood, and marriage, Ronald Reagan said, “There is no greater happiness for a man than approaching a door at the end of a day knowing someone on the other side of that door is waiting for the sound of his footsteps.”

I’m always listening for your footsteps, dad.

As the years pass and simple days of childhood fade into tempestuous reality, one thing remains: the Trinitarian love reflected in the family, flowing from the father. I have learned from my father what true manhood and fatherhood are: the willingness to pour out one’s love and life in sacrifice.

So to the man who taught me about the importance of tradition, family stories and family prayer, whose generosity to the family and to strangers astonishes me still, and who revealed to me, most especially, that doing small things with great love is the road to holiness… Thank you. Thank you for the memories of simpler days when the path of truth was illuminated over lunch and putt-putt, for being a caring father, and for being a father whose footsteps I still wish to walk in.

The “Top Ten” Countries for Violence Against Christians

by Rob Schwarzwalder

June 12, 2014

The respected anti-persecution ministry Open Doors has released its annual “Top Ten Violence List of countries in which Christians have experienced the most violent incidents for their faith in Jesus Christ.”

Nigeria, thanks to be vicious actions of the Islamist “Boko Haram” group, ranks first on the list. The others, in order, are: Syria, Egypt, Central African Republic (CAR), Mexico, Pakistan, Colombia, India, Kenya and Iraq. For a complete country summary of the Top 10 Violence List, click here.

Today, FRC President Tony Perkins and a host of FRC staffers went to the White House to call on President Obama to work for the release of Meriam Ibrahim from a fetid Sudanese prison, in which she is being held with her toddler son and newborn daughter. Her crime? Her refusal to jettison her lifelong Christian faith. FRC joined 40 other groups in calling on the President at least to make a public statement of support for this woman, who is married to an American citizen and whose children arguably are thus themselves American citizens. Meriam and her little ones should be released — now — and the U.S. government should take the lead in making this happen.

You can read Tony’s remarks and learn more about this tragic situation here.

Saving Meriam Ibrahim

by Hannah Solem

June 10, 2014

Christians have a responsibility to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. Proverbs 31 calls Christ-followers to defend the cause of the weak. All throughout, Scripture clearly instructs Christians to raise their voice for those who have no voice.

Today, you have the opportunity to help speak up for someone who is not able to speak for herself. She is a wife. She is a mother of two young children. She sits jailed In a Khartoum prison, a place she knows far too well. Why? She is a Christian.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to Meriam Ibrahim. Ever since January of this year, this woman has been shackled in Sudan for her Christian faith. Even in the face of extreme persecution, this woman of God has stood strong in her faith. One of her children, a newborn, was born during her imprisonment. Currently, Meriam awaits a death sentence for refusing to renounce her faith in Christ. If not overturned, her sentence could include 100 lashes and execution.

The time to act is now. We can talk all we want about caring for the weak but right now is a fitting time to practice what we know to be right. I invite you to raise your voice for one who cannot speak for herself. Please sign this petition calling for Meriam’s release and requesting that President Obama grant her expedited safe haven in the United States. Together, let’s raise our voice for one who is voiceless.

Finding a Firm Foundation

by Connor Headrick

June 9, 2014

Navigating the complex waters of public policy with a skeptical audience can be challenging for even the most thoughtful of Christians. Taking a stand on a pressing moral issue, such as abortion or homosexuality, and backing it up with Scripture often brings accusations of bigotry or intolerance.

Because the conversation may turn away from political issues to theological issues once the Bible or God is brought into the equation, it can be easy to simply try to circumvent the debate over Christianity by sticking to secular, empirical arguments, rather than moral Christian arguments.

By doing this, we rightly acknowledge that there is immense value in meeting an individual on common ground and reasoning together, from the state of reality around us, to discover truth. However, as we reason, we must constantly remember that empirical data is worthless if not supported by a framework of moral convictions.

Speed limits are baseless without the underlying moral principle that human life should be protected. Human trafficking and other forms of exploitation are insignificant unless we begin with the understanding that all humans possess a God-given right to liberty. Even murder is morally acceptable without the moral foundation that human life is precious and valuable. Every law is based upon someone’s standard of morality.

When we as Christians refuse to turn to God and revealed truth as the source of right and wrong, in ethics as well as in codified law, we obliterate the moral foundation on which our conservative arguments stand. Without that foundation, why does it matter if children grow up in unstable families? Who is to say whether one civil right is more important than another?

Of all the men and women in the Bible who operated in a political context, Daniel stands as one of the most powerful examples of a man who was unashamed to stand on God’s truth. In Daniel 2, King Nebuchadnezzar ordered the wise men of Babylon to be slaughtered because they were unable to reveal and interpret the dream which had troubled his spirit. Daniel, whose life was endangered by this decree, did not protest on the grounds of the practical consequences the king would suffer from losing all of his wise men. Instead, he went and made an appointment to speak with the king and interpret his dream.

An incredible aspect of this passage is this: when Daniel made the appointment with the king to interpret the dream, Daniel has no idea what the dream meant. Daniel 2:17-18 says, “Then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.”

Daniel exhibited an incredible amount of faith and reliance upon God in trusting that the Lord would reveal the dream to him. And when the moment came for Daniel to stand before the king, confident in what God had revealed, Daniel took neither the glory nor the credit. Instead, he said, “No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days” (Daniel 2:27-28b). In the boldness that comes with proclaiming the Word of God, Daniel revealed to the king the demise of Nebuchadnezzar’s own kingdom and unashamedly asserted that one day, “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed…” (Daniel 2:44).

In response, Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face and answered, “’Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery’” (Daniel 2:47). Though he could have scoffed at Daniel’s interpretation by pointing to empirical data, such as the fact that the Babylonian Empire had just crushed Judah militarily, and the fact that the articles of the Jewish temple now rested in the Babylonian treasury, he responded in awe and reverence to Daniel’s uncompromising stand upon the truth.

Daniel did not reject appeals to common evidence and observation. For example, when he asked to receive a diet of water and vegetables and be evaluated against the other servants, he appealed to his overseer to judge based on who appeared healthiest. But Daniel knew the foundation upon which he stood, and he was unashamed to speak the name of God forthrightly.

So let us not deceive ourselves with the idea that our arguments can be amoral or irreligious. When it comes to the matter of the moral standard upon which laws are built, our arguments cannot ignore the Moral Lawgiver. Let us not constrain ourselves with the false dichotomy that either we must play the role of a conservative who appeals to statistics and evidence, or we must stand on a foundation of biblical morals and principles.

As conservative Christians, we can — and must — do both. Let us not be afraid to hold fast to God and the principles he has revealed in his Word. Only then will we have a truly firm foundation on which to stand.

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