Posted later than usual but contains never before published materials
Religious Freedom: Celebrating prayer
National Day of Prayer – This year, I was privileged to again participate in several events leading up to and including the National Day of Prayer, which is set for the first Thursday in May each year. Up until 1988 the day was chosen by the President each year, and could be at any time during the year. Fortunately now the day is fixed by law, giving people of faith ample time to prepare and hold events around the nation.
I have attended the National Day of Prayer event in the White House, prior to President Obama taking office. Although since his election President Obama has issued a proclamation for the day each year, he has never allowed the National Day of Prayer meeting to be held in the White House. As a result, for the last six years the event has been held in the Caucus Room of the Cannon Office Building.
This prayer meeting began at 9:00 AM but my day of prayer began at the Supreme Court at 7:00 AM. It is against the law to “demonstrate” on the Supreme Court grounds, although prayers and protests can be held on the sidewalk in front of the building. However, there is a small group of us who have managed to obtain special permission to meet and pray on the actual grounds of the Supreme Court once a year on the National Day of Prayer. Normally there are about ten of our small group of Christian leaders and pastors present.
Just as is done at numerous state capitals and in the main meeting at the Cannon Caucus Room, each of us pray for leaders in different parts of our government, with a special emphasis on the judiciary. This year it was my turn to pray that God would touch and lead President Obama. Others present prayed for Supreme Court judges, the Senate, the House, the military and other aspects of government. At 7:30 AM when the building opens we always enter and have breakfast in the Supreme Court cafeteria before going to the main National Day of Prayer event. And YES … we do say grace and ask the Lord to bless our meal in the Supreme Court cafeteria.
After breakfast our team walked the short distance to the Cannon House Office Building to participate in the National Day of Prayer meeting which is organized each year by Shirley Dobson, the wife of Dr. James Dobson. As Chair of the National Day of Prayer Task Force for more than 20 years, Shirley has labored to make the National Day of Prayer a success. Through her efforts, more than 35,000 prayer gatherings are conducted each year. Several million people participated in 2014 in this call to prayer for our nation, its leaders and citizens.
[color-box]Prayer is needed daily for the direction of this nation, particularly at a time when it seems that as a people we are moving further from the Lord. [/color-box]
Religious Freedom: Public Prayer –On May 5th the Supreme Court by a 5-4 decision ruled that prayer before public meetings – including prayers in the name of Jesus – are not unconstitutional. The Court ruled that the prayers are ceremonial in nature and do not proselytize and thus do not violate the so-called separation of church and state clause which some seem to be able to find in the Constitution.
I fielded several calls from the media as a result of this ruling. What I pointed out most often to reporters and on radio shows where I appeared, was that the ruling was a push back against political correctness that has created a new right — the right not to be offended. This is an important concept. As I did in January when I spoke on the International Day of Prayer I said, “If I am not allowed to offend someone today then I do not have freedom of speech.”
In America under Barack Obama, we are marching toward the draconian rules of Europe, where free speech no longer exists because of this supposed right not to be offended. How extreme is the situation in Europe? This month Paul Weston, who is chairman of the political party Liberty GB and is running for an office in the European parliament, was arrested for quoting from Winston Churchill’s book “The River of War: An Account of the Reconquest of the Sudan.” This book was written by the former prime minister in 1899 during his time as an Army officer in Sudan. Because the quote Weston chose concerned the customs of Muslims, he was arrested for “religious intolerance,” which is a hate crime in the UK. Don’t think it can happen here? Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is banned from many school libraries in this nation because he used the “n” word more than 150 years ago in one passage. What gets banned next? The Bible for being critical of sin?
[color-box]The Supreme Court ruling came at a time when a wave of public punishment is sweeping across America against those who “offend” some group or the other in some way or other. [/color-box]
In just the last few weeks the CEO of a major corporation was forced to resign because he once donated $1,000 to promote traditional marriage in California. Homosexuals went after this man because they said he offended them by making the donation. Another man faces being forced to sell his basketball team because of a racial comment he made in the privacy of his home to an ex-girlfriend. Some African-American leaders said he had offended them. These are high profile examples, but daily in our nation people are being forced out of their jobs and sometimes their homes because they have offended someone. Where does it end? With you?
The worst examples of this phenomena have to do with religion. It is now impossible to rent a public hall anywhere in the United States to hold a meeting critical of any aspect of Islam, including terror. Christians are under constant attack for being public about their faith. From public schools to the Air Force Academy, students are forced to hide Bibles and are not allowed to make public comments about their faith — because this may offend someone.
The number of individuals with different causes who want to silence all those who disagree with them by claiming what is said is offensive, is astounding. One scientist who is an avid global warming believer said that anyone making public statements doubting global warming should be jailed. Professor Lawrence Torcello of the Rochester Institute of Technology said “The charge of criminal and moral negligence ought to extend to all activities of the climate deniers.” The idea that those who challenge the beliefs of the far left establishment must have their right to freedom of speech curtailed, is advancing quickly in this nation and must be stopped. Free speech is in danger in the United States, and we must defend it or lose it.
U.S. aid to nations supporting Islamic terror
Senator Rand Paul and Pakistan – Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and his wife Kelley are a very traditional Christian couple. I have heard both of them give personal testimonies to faith in the Lord. Although Senator Paul does have a Libertarian streak, he is pro-life. But that Libertarian part of him believes that abortion, like marijuana laws, are state not federal issues.
In fairness to Senator Paul, if states were the determiners of abortion rather than the federal government, there would probably be only four or five states in the nation with abortion clinics. That however is a whole other issue that I don’t want to address right now. My area of concern with Senator Paul is the persecution of Christians in Asia and the Middle East.
On the issue of foreign aid, Senator Paul stands just about alone in the Senate in favor of reducing or cutting off the funding we send to rogue states such as Pakistan. For that reason I have now met with him on several occasions to discuss nations which persecute Christians, using the money we give them. Because Pakistan now has four Christians on death row, I have targeted that nation when I have spoken to him. In 2012 Senator Paul actually ran a filibuster in the Senate to stop aid to Pakistan due to their holding in prison the doctor who helped capture Osama bin Laden.
Senator Paul has tried to stop funding to nations and groups that are not peaceful. In our last conversation on May 1st he told me he was forcing a vote to stop funding the Palestinian Authority until that entity affirms Israel’s right to exist. (His amendment to block funding failed.)
I requested Senator Paul to take one more look at aid to Pakistan and see if he could not cut off at least a small amount of money, perhaps just to the court system in Pakistan that sentences people to death for blasphemy.
My position is that we are not going to get a complete funding cut to Pakistan because of nuclear reasons. Basically, Pakistan is using its nuclear arsenal to blackmail the United States. There is such fear that lack of US and EU funding would bring about a failed state, and thus the transfer of the nukes to terrorist groups, that even Israel is in favor of continued US aid to Pakistan. Very frankly, I think Pakistan is already a failed state and that most of the money given them by the US and the EU goes into personal bank accounts anyway. Pakistan has one of the most corrupt governments in the world today.
The issue, of course, goes far beyond Pakistan. The United States gives aid to Israel — and to the enemies of Israel. Why? A lot of the “aid” we give to other nations is actually a jobs program for Americans. The money we give Israel and Egypt for military aid always has a stipulation that it must be used to buy American made arms.
The money we give to Africa to buy food for the starving must be used to buy American farm products that are shipped only on American flagged ships. Most of the money – except for administrative purposes (that means corruption) comes back to support American jobs or American bureaucrats.
This may stun you, but we give money to starving nations who could buy corn from local markets for say, $200 a metric ton. Instead, they must buy it from the USA, and then pay the cost of shipping as well. The US flagged ships will be union operated and cost about four times more than many other ships.
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I am by no means complaining that much of the money is actually coming back to the United States. I am pointing out that the aid money is less about helping others, and more about congressmen and Senators bringing home the bacon to their districts. No Senator or congressman from a farm state is going to vote against aid to buy food. Likewise, most of the big industrial states have defense contractors that benefit from military aid given to other nations.
This year there was a huge blow up in Washington when the Pentagon bought Russian helicopters for the Afghan military. Actually there was no choice. The American helicopters were just too complicated to learn how to fly, and took expertise to maintain that the Afghan air force does not have. Otherwise the purchase orders would have gone to Boeing or Sikorsky.
I hope this explains the almost hopeless nature of the fight waged by those of us here on Capitol Hill who want to end the practice of sending our tax dollars to despotic nations such as Pakistan. Although much is lost to “administrative” corruption, most of the money comes back to those industries who support the elections of congressmen and Senators.
Leftist Hollywood discovers sharia – I was actually shocked when I saw the photo of Jay Leno leading a protest against sharia law in front of the landmark Beverly Hills Hotel, which is owned indirectly by the sultan of Brunei. (“Sultan” is the politically correct title for “ruthless Islamic dictator.”) Lesbian celebrity Ellen De Generese and other celebs were there to call for a boycott of the hotel because Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah has declared sharia law in Brunei, which means the end of all human rights in that nation and the full enslavement of women.
Since the 9-11 attacks, Hollywood and the left have stood as firm allies of the poor misunderstood Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia and Iran who enslave hundreds of millions of people under sharia law. What caused this sudden awakening, I just do not know. I do know that during the decades I and other conservatives and Christian leaders have been warning of the dangers and pointing to the abuse of human rights, we could get no press coverage at all. Suddenly the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN have joined out cause. It is startling.
The kidnapping of nearly 300 girls by the Boko Haram in Nigeria three weeks ago received virtually no press coverage other than at conservative Internet sites — until just a few days ago when Hollywood liberals came out to condemn that part of Sharia law as well.
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Now that the torment and enslavement of human beings under sharia law has become a liberal cause, President Obama has for the first time offered the nation of Nigeria assistance in finding these kidnapped girls, who are mostly Christian. What about the thousands of Christian girls that have been kidnapped over the last two decades to be enslaved in Muslim marriages? I do welcome the help of Hollywood, but it is sad that our government needed the entrance of movie and TV celebrities before defending human rights.
William J. Murray, Chairman
Religious Freedom Coalition, 601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW #900, Washington, DC 20004 * (202) 742-8990