The Chairman’s Report for March 15, 2019
In this issue of the newsletter:
Update: Results of the survey of Religious Freedom Coalition supporters
Update: Diapers for Refugees and Christmas for Refugees top the survey
Update: Capitol Hill / religious freedom work very important and must continue
New: Our Amicus brief for jailed Christian friend has been filed in Supreme Court!
Results of RFC Supporters Poll
What should we do in 2019? – At the end of January, I sent a letter to the supporters of the Religious Freedom Coalition asking for advice on which programs we should emphasize this year. The survey is very important to the direction of this ministry!
The Religious Freedom Coalition takes no money from any government. We don’t get a dime from the United States or from the European Union for our aid programs in the Middle East and Nigeria. If we took funds from a government agency such as the USAID, we would be forced to provide aid according to their direction and by population percentages in places like Iraq.
To make it clear … if we apply for and receive USAID funds, our Diapers for Refugees program would be required to give 97% of the diapers to Muslim families and 3% to Christian families. Yet the Muslim families already receive aid from Muslim charities that will give nothing to Christians at all.
When an aid group, even one with a Christian name, says it is delivering aid to families using USAID funds, they must abide by these rules.
In Iraq, the ministry we work with was approached to carry out an aid program funded by the United States. They got one page into the paperwork and quickly discovered that they would not be allowed to work with Diapers for Refugees or many other Christian ministries in the USA. The United States form required that they stop working with any ministry or organization that directed aid to a specific religious group.
Why your opinion counts so much: We don’t get funds from government agencies or deep pocket foundations to help us, because our aid goes only to Christian families in the Middle East and Nigeria.
The big foundations have the same rules about “discrimination” as does the government. The fact that Diapers for Refugees and Christmas for Refugees are designed to help persecuted Christian families means — in their eyes — that we discriminate and can’t receive funding.
Example: The Religious Freedom Coalition was barred from receiving funds from the Amazon Smile program even though our supporters wanted a portion of their purchases to be given to us under that Amazon program. Because we were designated as a “hate group” for helping Christians and not Muslims in Iraq, we were kicked out of the program.
The only source of funding we have is supporters such as you. To be very frank, I need to know which programs are important to you … I need to know, for example, if you will continue to support the Diapers for Refugees program during 2019. I need to know if I should try to expand the Christmas program more into Syria, or continue to work in Nigeria.
Most important -The answer was clear: The Diapers for Refugees program was the clear favorite of those who chose only one ministry program as the one they wanted to support. The majority of supporters who responded want us to try to double the Diaper Program from one million to two million diapers this year and expand it into Jordan if possible.
Supporters understand that the Diapers for Refugees program is helping Christian families on the Nineveh Plain rebuild their lives. Every dollar a family would have spent on diapers can be used to help them get their looted and burned down homes back to livable conditions. The families are working hard. When I visited Bartella and Qaraqosh at Christmas, I visited homes and I saw progress. It is slow and it is hard to start with nothing, and that is why the diapers are so important to these families.
Second most important to those who voted: As was true last year, supporters listed the Christmas for Refugees program second. This is not a surprise to me as the diaper program is all year long and the Christmas program is a one-month program. But the numbers were very close, with Christmas for Refugees just behind Diapers for Refugees.
The Christmas program brings spiritual joy and reassurance along with material aid. Sadly, we are reaching just a small percentage of the refugee children. In Syria alone there are more than 100,000 displaced Christian families. We are helping many Christian families directly, but sadly, we are only reaching a small percentage of those who have fled Islamic terror.
Did we leave out Bethlehem? No … but I received calls and emails from supporters who thought I had. Many were upset, thinking that we would not hold another Christmas program in Bethlehem for the beleaguered Christian minority. In retrospect I should have had a separate check box for Bethlehem, because those who benefit are not refugees.
The Bethlehem program, at least in my mind, was included in the check box for the Christmas program. It became very obvious from the comments of supporters sent in that they wanted the Christmas programs in Bethlehem to continue and perhaps to help the Christians still in West Bank cities in other ways as well.
I have watched the decline of Bethlehem since my fist visit there, back before it was handed over to the Palestinian Authority on Christmas Eve, 1995.
Almost every year for the last twenty-five years my wife Nancy and I have visited Bethlehem and the surrounding area. For over a decade we aided a Christian school in Beit Jala which was a Christian town very near Bethlehem. Beit Jala can’t really be called a Christian town any longer.
NOTE: When the Christian population of the “West Bank” was larger, we imported Jerusalem stone and olive wood nativities and other items made by Christians. We offered those in our newsletters and on our website. The proceeds went to Christian businesses in the West Bank to help employ Christians. Shipping costs and other factors -including shipments coming out of the West Bank being blocked by Israel — made it impossible to continue. But I am looking for other ways to help the Christians surrounded
in the “West Bank.”
Third but almost in a tie was Nigeria: Support for our programs in Nigeria were in a virtual tie with Christmas for Refugees. So far, our main program in Nigeria has been the Christmas for Refugees program, plus expanding the sanitation system at the orphanage.
Again, I received a lot of emails and phone calls about our work in Nigeria. All of the emails and calls favored expanding the programs there to help the Christian IDP’s (Internally Displaced People). The question is, how?
As I write this report my good friend Emmanuel Ogebe is in Nigeria talking with Christian ministries that work in the IDP camps to find out the areas where there is the most need. Because he is a well-known civil rights attorney who can practice both in Nigeria and the United States — he is a target. And it appears his car was deliberately shoved off the road on this trip.
Nigeria was a secular nation and everyone had equal rights when Christians were the majority. Now that more than half the nation is majority Muslim, repression is becoming common place.
Amazon Smile: Doing a post card campaign to have President Trump, the Attorney General and the IRS look into the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and its relationship with Jeff Bezos and his billionaires’ club received very high support. Many people who told me to “DO IT ALL” also checked the box to support a program to expose Amazon’s relationship with the SPLC in a plan to suppress Christian and conservative organizations!
I received emails and phone calls from supporters about the Amazon SPLC situation. Comments were also left at our website and at Facebook. What Jeff Bezos is doing with SPLC to harm Christian and conservative organizations has really made supporters angry.
The comments from supporters were so strong that I have started a post card campaign. The post cards are addressed to President Trump, to the Attorney General and to the IRS demanding investigations of SPLC and its relationship to Amazon. The letter with the post cards was mailed the first week of March, and you should have received it by now. The letter was sent to our supporters and to 30,000 conservative Christians.
Please pray that others besides our supporters will take up the challenge and help us defeat SPLC and the Jeff Bezos billionaires club.
Capitol Hill and the Supreme Court – The majority of those responding to the survey support our continued work on Capitol Hill. All of those who checked off Capitol Hill also checked “do it all,” or they checked one or more of the other programs. This raised some questions in my mind as to how the survey is done.
Rather than ask supporters to pick one program over another next year, I think we should ask supporters to rank them first, second, third, etc. This approach I believe would give me an even better picture of areas of concern for supporters.
Decades ago, at least 90% of the Religious Freedom Coalition’s efforts were on Capitol Hill and centered on Supreme Court nominees. During the last ten years I went from telling congressmen and Senators about the persecution of Christians to helping the Christian victims of Islamic terror.
That does not mean I have forgotten Capitol Hill and the issues facing Christians here.
That is the reason I filed an Amicus brief with the Supreme Court asking that the prison sentence of a wrongly convicted Christian pastor be reversed. Philip Zodhiates is in prison because our government wanted to punish him for helping a young mother get her child away from a lesbian activist.
Philip Zodhiates was saving a little girl from being forced to take nude baths with a woman not related to her in any way. But our government is so pro-gay they demanded the little girl be handed over to the lesbian.
The response to my announcement that the Religious Freedom Coalition had filed an Amicus (Friend of the Court) brief stirred readers to overwhelmingly show their support.
If Philip Zodhiates stays in jail our nation is one step closer to criminalizing free speech as has been done in most of Europe. Making a critical post on the internet about homosexuality in the UK can get someone jailed. We must stop the gay train before it runs over all of our rights.
My work continues on Capitol Hill. In February I have met with several congressmen on various issues including social issues in the United States, and the continued needs of Christians in the Middle East who have lost their homes and barely escaped with their lives. This month I will make a presentation before congressmen and Senators about the critical situation of Christians in the Nineveh Plain of Iraq.
Please pray: Our work on Capitol Hill, in the Middle East and Africa needs your continued prayers. The needs are great.
William J. Murray, Chairman
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I think numbering them in order of importance is the best idea because each and every thing you do is important for faith and freedom. God bless you and keep up the good work.