Monday, September 21, 2015

Religious Freedom Report 09.21.15

 Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion held a large meeting in New York this last week:

The United States had a role in organizing the gathering and was represented by State Department Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom David Saperstein and USCIRF Chair Robert George. Their close colleagues in the parallel Canadian Office of Religious Freedom also pulled together the event.In an energetic speech, Saperstein urged the international lawmakers not to separate religious freedom from other issues, but to see it as foundational in every kind of policy. He encouraged them to hold hearings, to issue statements, and to attend trials for the persecuted. He mentioned that he and other officials attended the trial of two South Sudanese pastors recently, and that the pastors were acquitted of the most serious charges and released."Even a country as powerful as the United States cannot fight this battle alone," George said during a coffee break. George said European leaders, especially Germany, have "shown themselves serious about religious freedom." Now, he said, it's a matter of seeing if the group can maintain this broad base of support for religious freedom, a coalition that has disappeared domestically. 

 I'm not aware that the US is doing much at all for Christians in other countries. By  that I mean the government and not the many charitable and Christian organizations that are always active. John Kerry and Barack Obama  are so disengaged that they pushed through a horrible nuclear deal with Iran and didn't even bother to get US prisoners released that are being held there, which includes two pastors.

 Kristen Grant [The Federalist] wrote:

When Pope Francis comes to America, he will stand in Independence Hall and speak about religious freedom. No doubt he will echo the themes of his first apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium,” which declared that “no one can demand that religion should be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life… without a right to offer an opinion on events affecting society.”
When he does so, he will not be asking for a special megaphone for white men in clericals, but rather reminding Americans of a fundamental right of all people—including a lot of poor, female, black, Latino, and gay people—to bring their full humanity to the public square and contend there for the future of their country.

We'll see. 

 Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo {D-Ca]and  Co-Chair of the Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus:
I've introduced a bipartisan bill in Congress to deliver relief and protection for religious minorities. The Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Act would allow non-state actors to be designated as violators of religious freedom, granting the administration better tools to address extremism and violence in groups like Boko Haram and the Islamic State. And Congressman Juan Vargas, D-Calif., is leading on bipartisan legislation to grant persecuted individuals in ISIS-held territory access to priority refugee status processing at the State Department.
Progress was made last week when the administration appointed Knox Thames as Special Envoy at the State Department charged with focusing exclusively on the plight of religious minorities in the Middle East. Former Congressman Frank Wolf, R-Va., and I championed the law to create this position in the last Congress, and this long-awaited appointment is welcomed.
The papal visit presents a unique opportunity to send a message to the world in condemning the act of genocide as the most barbaric and criminal act of humankind, and propel a global response. It's an existential crisis for religious minorities in the Middle East, and it is a defining moment for America.

Democrats aren't generally very good at protecting religious freedom. There generally has to be some other goal in mind. Or it has to be so fantastic that it creates warm feelings when its announced, but in practicality, it's meaningless. 

 The Christian Post reported:

Hundreds of Christian conservatives gathered in the blistering heat in Nashville on Constitution Day Thursday, to rally for religious freedom in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling and called on the state to uphold its definition of marriage as being a union between one man and one woman.
As a crowd of over 400 gathered for the "Stand in the Gap for Truth" rally hosted by the Tennessee Pastors Network outside the state's Legislative Plaza, a number of issues, from the Iran deal to same-sex marriage, were discussed by prominent Evangelicals and state lawmakers.
Among the speakers who participated in the event was the husband of jailed Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, Joe Davis, the father of presidential candidate Ted Cruz, Rafael, Bishop E.W. Jackson and former Southern Baptists Convention Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission president Dr. Richard Land.
A few Tennessee state representatives, including Republican Rep. Mark Pody who spoke at the rally, also introduced legislation Thursday called the "Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act" into the state legislature. The legislation, if passed, would "void" the Supreme Court's ruling in June that struck down states' ban against same-sex marriage.

Idaho Statesman Editorial:

We don’t believe any faith group should be forced to perform or sanctify a marriage they don’t agree with. Those judgments are the purview of the religious organization and belong in their lane of traffic. Government intervention in religious matters is contrary to everything American. Such actions deserve our immediate wrath.
Last year city officials in Houston subpoenaed the sermons and other materials of some pastors, purportedly to investigate some petitions filed against the city’s equal rights ordinance. Whatever the motives, demanding sermons is an affront to religious freedom and deserved the overwhelming criticism it received.
We as a society have our work cut out for us defining and defending the lanes of traffic that will preserve religious freedom and still provide the equal access our Constitution guarantees.

Of course, previous to this summary, the editorial condemned Kim Davis for not quitting. After all, religious freedom is important...but not more important than work (liberal 11th commandment,  I think]. 

Read more here: