During the Senate’s brief pre-election legislative session in mid-September, Harry Reid (D-NV) intends to call for a vote on an amendment to the United States Constitution. This partisan-motivated vote would essentially overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinions on campaign finance and political speech. Alarmingly, it could also limit critical freedoms in our Bill of Rights.
Although amendments to the U.S. Constitution require 2/3 support in both the House and the Senate, and then ratification by 3/4 of the States, Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO of National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), warns that this proposal could have serious consequences for all the “free speech” freedoms of the First Amendment. It could be, he said, “detrimental to liberty and equality, preparing the way for the government to prefer one voice over another – or to suppress one voice under another.”
This ill-conceived amendment includes a section reiterating the freedom of the press, but is silent on the other First Amendment liberties – namely, religion, speech, assembly, and petitioning the government. Dr. Johnson noted, “In essence, this would establish the press as a super-class of speaker (without defining what the press is), but could well leave expression by the rest of Americans at the mercy of the federal government.”
President Obama has finally responded to the violence and persecution against Christians and other religious minorities by the barbaric militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The President has ordered airlifts of humanitarian aid to over 40,000 Iraqi religious refugees, said to be trapped in the mountains of Iraq and Kurdistan, and potential airstrikes to protect them and U.S. personnel still in Iraq. Another 100,000 displaced Christians are said to be fleeing elsewhere on foot.
Religious leaders in the U.S. have signed a “Pledge of Solidarity & Call to Action” on behalf of Christians and other religious minorities in Egypt, Iraq, and Syria. The Pledge, spurred by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), highlights their concerns: “Now facing an existential threat to their presence in the lands where Christianity has its roots, the Churches in the Middle East fear they have been largely ignored by their coreligionists in the West… American religious leaders need to pray and speak with greater urgency about this human rights crisis.”
Christians need to pray for persecuted believers, here and around the world. We must also urge the Obama Administration to actively advocate to the international community the principles of religious freedom as a human right, as declared in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The U.S. State Department has released its required, annual report on international religious freedom for last year. The comprehensive document summarily states:
“In 2013, the world witnessed the largest displacement of religious communities in recent memory. In almost every corner of the globe, millions of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and others representing a range of faiths were forced from their homes on account of their religious beliefs. Out of fear or by force, entire neighborhoods are emptying of residents. Communities are disappearing from their traditional and historic homes and dispersing across the geographic map.”
The report goes on to call this mass displacement a “pernicious norm” and names Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan as the world’s worst violators of religious freedom. All of these violators of the human right of religious freedom are controlled by either Muslims or Communists.
For the first time in the history of Iraq, the ancient city of Mosul is now empty of Christians, due to Islamic jihadists who have brutally killed, robbed and plundered their way across that country, conquering major cities, including Mosul—the traditional home of the largest concentration of Christians living in Iraq.
Mosul is the modern name for the ancient city of Nineveh, where tradition says that the Apostle Thomas first declared the Gospel to the people there, near the tomb of Jonah, in the 1st Century.
Once the terrorists of “The Islamic State” captured Mosul, they gave all remaining Christians a historic, Muslim ultimatum—they must either convert to Islam, pay an oppressive religious tax, or be executed. To make their threats clear, they burned an ancient Christian church in Mosul. Most of the city’s Christians fled with just the clothes on their backs, in the face of this radical religious persecution.
Jesus told his disciples, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first…no servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:18-20). The Apostle Paul told Timothy that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).
Friends, let us pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world and then pray that God will help us to be faithful to our Lord, even unto death.
A divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th District has recently ruled that both Oklahoma’s and Utah’s state marriage amendments, defining marriage between a man and a woman, were in violation of the U.S. Constitution. These creative jurists ruled that the state amendments violated the “fundamental rights” of homosexual and transgendered couples to marry. Of course, the U.S. Constitution nowhere mentions marriage, let alone defines it or declares it to be a fundamental right.
The precedent of the Supreme Court, when a new “fundamental right” has been asserted, is that it must be precisely defined and “objectively, deeply rooted in this Nation’s history, legal traditions, and practices” (Washington v. Glucksberg, 1997). Since the stampede to redefine marriage is a recent legal and cultural confusion, it clearly is not “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history.”
Rather, the radical redefinition of marriage fundamentally alters America’s moral, cultural and political landscape.