Sunday, January 27, 2013

Obama is No Champion of Religious Freedom

By Tony Perkins

The president of the United States will declare Wednesday, January 16 “Religious Freedom Day.” It commemorates one of the great dates in American history, January 16, 1786, when the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, was enacted. That law was famous for declaring the freedom of religious choice and free exercise to be “natural rights of mankind.” Its adoption was a milestone in human history.

It is ironic for President Obama to make pronouncements extolling religious freedom when his administration has the worst record protecting religious liberty in American history. That is true both at home and abroad. Here are some examples.

At home, in January 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court rebuked the Obama administration in a 9-0 decision issued in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC. The case centered on an employment discrimination claim at a Lutheran school. The administration had argued that employment discrimination laws trumped the First Amendment’s religious freedom protections – even those concerning the choice of ministers. The Court rejected this extreme position observing, “We cannot accept the remarkable view that the Religion Clauses have nothing to say about a religious organization’s freedom to select its own ministers.”

In 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that, pursuant to ObamaCare, employers would be required to provide sterilizations and contraceptives, including some that can cause abortions, with no co-pays. Churches would not be covered by the mandate. However, religious employers including universities, colleges, religious hospitals and soup kitchens would fall under the requirement. Private employers religiously opposed to the mandate would not be exempted either.

This mandate has now culminated in the litigation involving the retail chain Hobby Lobby. Hobby Lobby is privately owned by a Christian family, the Greens, who correctly believe that purchasing such insurance will force them to cooperate with the provision of embryo-destructive technologies – abortion-producing drugs. They refuse to do this. Hobby Lobby’s request for emergency relief has been denied and the company now faces potential ObamaCare penalties of approximately $1.3 million per day – yes, that is per day. The Greens refuse to comply, and the penalties are looming.

Thomas Jefferson would have considered this to be tyranny of the worst kind. Yet, President Obama will brook no conscientious objection to his diktat.

President Obama’s record of defending religious liberty overseas has been terrible as well. Most significant has been the administration’s behavior before and after the so-called Arab Spring in 2011, and more specifically, its support for the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood is a powerful, effective organization that reaches into numerous countries and promotes the adoption of Sharia-based government and the suppression of Western values. The Muslim Brotherhood now controls Egypt, the most populous Arab nation, and that has brought great fear to Coptic Christians and other religious minorities.

American obsequiousness to the Muslim Brotherhood displayed itself in late 2011 after the Egyptian army and government forces killed 28 Copts who were peacefully protesting in Cairo’s Maspero area. Many of the protestors were crushed when soldiers drove their vehicles directly into the crowds. Over 200 were injured.

Yet, as the Hudson Institute’s Nina Shea noted, the U.S. reaction was disturbingly muted. Our government’s statement on Maspero did not recognize that Coptic Christians had been killed nor did it indicate that they were protesting previous acts of religious intolerance and violence. Shea notes that these remarks stood in sharp contrast with the government’s pointed, forceful comments regarding two attacks on a mosque that took place in northern Israel at roughly the same time.

More recently in 2012 the State Department refused to declare Boko Haram, the vicious Al Qaeda-linked jihadist group operating primarily in Nigeria, to be a “foreign terrorist organization.” Boko Haram espouses the establishment of a Sharia-based government. According to the Nigerian army’s chief, Boko Haram has killed at least 3,000 Nigerians, mostly Christians, since 2009. Those on both the left and right are incredulous that the administration failed to take this step.

So it is, on this Religious Freedom Day, that we should cast a skeptical eye on President Obama’s professions of support for religious liberty and look to his actions to understand his relative lack of sympathy for the free exercise of religion. Our president needs to understand that religious liberty is often called our “first freedom” not simply because it is the first of the enumerated rights in the Bill of Rights, but because allegiance to God precedes allegiance to the state.


The Sharia Threat to America

By Fred Grandy

There is a great deal of misinformation circulating with regard to sharia and the threat it poses to America and Western Civilization.

Some misinformed observers and members of the Muslim Brotherhood liken concerns over sharia to prejudice and bigotry, but the facts say otherwise.

Terrorism experts in the law enforcement, military and intelligence communities have cited sharia as the Jihadists' enemy threat doctrine in an intensive study called "Shariah: The Threat to America," a scholarly, 352-page book based on authoritative sources of sharia, or Islamic law. While sharia does include "prayer and fasting" and "worship," sharia is also an all-encompassing legal and political code that covers aspects of life that have nothing to do with religion.

Perhaps most importantly, unlike other forms of religious law, such as canon law and Jewish law, sharia is the only form of religious law extant that is also meant to apply to people of other faiths, i.e. non-Muslims.

The threat from sharia has nothing to do with prejudice or bigotry. The threat from sharia is real and multifaceted.

Some claim that sharia is no threat to the American legal system, but research shows such a threat does exist. Just as sharia has gradually become embedded in the legal systems of many European nations over the past generation, it is beginning to be found in US court cases. An initial study by the Center for Security Policy entitled "Shariah Law and American State Courts: An Assessment of State Appellate Court Cases," examined 50 cases from 23 states that involved conflicts between sharia and American state law. The study's findings suggest that sharia has entered into state court decisions, in conflict with the Constitution and state public policy.

This incursion of sharia into US court systems usually manifests itself in the form of foreign law from nations such as Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Syria and other predominantly Islamic nations.  As a result, four states, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arizona and Kansas, have passed into law "American Laws for American Courts," legislation. Several more states are considering American Laws for American Courts. Unlike Oklahoma's infamous constitutional amendment, American Laws for American Courts does not ban sharia. American Laws for American Courts protects individual, fundamental constitutional rights by preventing courts from applying foreign law when the application of that foreign law in the case at hand would result in the violation of a fundamental constitutional right, such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, due process and equal protection.

Among the organizations that are clouding the issue on sharia is the Saudi-backed Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).

ISNA was named as an unindicted co-conspirator and revealed to be a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate in the US v. Holy Land Foundation, the largest terrorism financing prosecution in American history.

ISNA was co-founded in 1981 by Sami Al-Arian, a man who is now in federal prison after having been convicted on terrorism charges as a member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

According to two reports in the San Francisco Chronicle, the other co-founder of ISNA, Mahboob Khan, twice hosted Ayman al-Zawahiri on fundraising trips here in the USA.

In addition, a regional representative for ISNA, Abdurahman Alamoudi, was found to be a chief fundraiser for Al Qaeda here in the USA and was convicted on terrorism charges. Alamoudi founded the Islamic Society of Boston using ISNA's tax-exempt, non-profit status.

ISNA board member Muzammil Siddiqi told the San Francisco Chronicle in June 2001 that he "supported laws in countries where homosexuality is punishable by death."

Siraj Wahhaj, who served as vice president of ISNA, is on record as supporting all aspects of sharia, including its call for brutal punishments like the removal of one's hands as the penalty for theft, and death by stoning as the penalty for adultery. According to Wahhaj, such harsh measures are wholly justified by Islamic scripture as he preached in a May 1992 sermon: "I would cut off the hands of my own daughter [if she stole] because Allah stands for Justice." On another occasion, Wahhaj stated: "If Allah says 100 strikes, 100 strikes it is. If Allah says cut off their hand, you cut off their hand. If Allah says stone them to death, through the Prophet Muhammad, then you stone them to death, because it's the obedience of Allah and his messenger-nothing personal."

Islamic scholar Stephen Schwartz has described ISNA as "one of the chief conduits through which the radical Saudi form of Islam passes into the United States."

These hardly seem like the kind of people who should be leading interfaith outreach in the USA.


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