Rep. Trent Franks appeared on yesterday’s edition of “Washington Watch” to discuss the GOP’s campaign to defund Planned Parenthood, telling host Tony Perkins that the debate represents a fight for the very survival of America.
Claiming that Americans have become “desensitized” to the “horror from Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry” to “a degree that I think threatens the survival or the necessity of the survival of America,” the Arizona Republican said Congress must defund Planned Parenthood in order to “honor the founding fathers’ dream.”
Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, said he agreed with the congressman, saying that the Planned Parenthood fight has come at a pivotal moment in history as the discredited smear videos have exposed “the evil and immorality of the abortion industry.”
Televangelist and "Holy Laughter" preacher Rodney Howard-Browne is once again holding a week-long revival meeting in Washington, D.C., called "Celebrate America," featuring Religious Right activists and Republican members of Congress.
Rep. Trent Franks spoke last night through an interpreter to a largely Hispanic audience, begging them to elect more Christians to office because the purpose of the Constitution and the United States is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.
"If America is to be saved, she will be saved by those who have been saved," the Arizona Republican said. "I'm crying out to you the best way I know how as someone who is in the seat of power in the United States Congress, please send more people that hold Christ in their hearts to the Congress."
Franks went on to say that the Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide "was lost years earlier when we elected presidents that would appoint people who had no respect for the United States Constitution."
"Today, there are four people on the United States Supreme Court that revere the Constitution," he said. "There are four the revile it and there's one that doesn't know his name half of the time."
The Constitution now hangs by a thread, Franks warned, and if it falls "the greatest Gospel outreach the world has ever known will be gone" and that is why the audience must "do everything that you possibly can to make sure that the leaders in Washington are leaders that honor God."
Rep. Trent Franks, who has been leading the effort to outlaw abortion after 20 weeks, was a guest on "WallBuilders Live" today, where he declared that Democrats who vote against this legislation will go to their graves regretting their votes.
After acknowledging that the legislation will likely be vetoed by President Obama, the Arizona Republican fumed that Obama has "vitiated and completely undermined any claim that he has for any compassion for the innocent or the helpless."
Franks then declared that the results of the vote on this legislation in the House of Representatives would be "considered thoughtfully in history and really even in councils of eternity itself" and asserted that those who dared to vote against it would rue the day.
"I think that when those legislators who voted 'no' on this bill lay their head down on the pillow of the nursing home," Franks said, "and look back and realize that they missed one of the greatest opportunities that they ever had to affirm the miracle of life and the importance of protecting those who can't protect themselves, which was their purpose for being in Congress but they just didn't realize it":
In an interview with the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins this weekend, Rep. Trent Franks acknowledged that his 20-week abortion ban, which passed in the House last week, is meant to “completely undermine” Roe v. Wade, and hoped that it would help Americans “realize that as a country, we’ve been here before,” when “African Americans were considered property.”
Franks, an Arizona Republican, lamented that the bill that passed last week included a limited exception for survivors of rape and incest. The exception was first added to the bill in 2013 after Franks implied in a hearing that rape rarely results in pregnancy; a planned vote on the bill in January was scuttled after a group of Republican women raised concerns that the rape exception required women to report assaults to the police. After months of negotiations, the reporting requirement was removed from the bill but a 48-hour waiting period and other hurdles were restored in its place.
“Now, many of your listeners, including this one, Tony, would do everything that we could to protect all unborn children, and the only thing that we would ever say should be an exception to taking the life of a child would be to save another life, which is, you know, a very, very unusual situation,” Franks told Perkins.
But, he added, including the exceptions was all in service of the larger goal of launching a legal attack to undermine Roe v. Wade and making Americans realize that legal abortion is like slavery.
“But the point is, if we protect these children, now we begin to really examine, once again, the development and the humanity and the pain-capable nature of these children to where I think it gives us a chance to completely undermine the Roe v. Wade structure and to realize that as a country, we’ve been here before,” he said.
“We were here, African Americans were considered property, and somehow we rose up as a nation and turned back that evil. And now by the grace of God we’re going to turn back the evil of killing little children before they’re born.”
Franks has previously insisted that African Americans were better off under slavery than with legal abortion.
On yesterday’s edition of “Washington Watch,” Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., accused President Obama of letting Iran develop a nuclear weapon, allowing “the potential of jihad to put their finger on the nuclear button.”
Franks said that the U.S. must show unequivocal support for Israel if the country launches an attack on Iran because “Israel is on the cutting edge of standing up to this global monstrosity called jihad.”
“There comes a time when Israel will not be able to reach from the air, without some ground forces, some of the potential facilities that could come into being and if they don’t do it at the right time, it may be essentially too late for them to reach that, so they’re in an extremely difficult circumstance,” Franks said.
“All I can say is that if America lets Israel down, America will be letting America down and America will be letting the world down.” Franks continued: “I sometimes do not have the intellectual wattage to overcome the bewilderment in my heart when an American president stands by and lets Israel, our most vital ally in the world, be threatened by a dangerous, hellish regime like exists in Iran today and allows the potential of jihad to put their finger on the nuclear button. It is a disgrace that literally defies description in the English language.”
Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., stopped by the Family Research Council radio program “Washington Watch” yesterday to discuss the Israeli election with FRC President Tony Perkins. Franks, despite once criticizing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government for approving public funding to cover abortions, all but endorsed Netanyahu’s campaign, telling Perkins that “all future generations will suffer” if he does not remain prime minister.
After Perkins told Franks that “we need to be praying” that Netanyahu retains his post as prime minister, the congressman worried that uninformed, naive voters would back Netanyahu’s opponents, just like American voters who supported President Obama.
“Keep in mind that I suppose a lot of us never would have believed that this country would have elected Barack Obama,” Franks said. “I have said that Barack Obama is not the real problem, it’s the amalgamation of the totally uninformed or totally self-focused that would elect such a man to be president, and for us to do it twice shocked the world. Keep it mind there are some of those same dangerous naivetés in Israel too and they may elect a leader that does not understand the danger of a nuclear Iran the way Bibi Netanyahu does and this is a big deal and, as you say, we better pray.”
Perkins stated that Israel may not survive an electoral defeat of Netanyahu and pushed discredited claims that the Obama administration is directly funding the prime minister’s opponents, leading Franks to warn that “if Bibi Netanyahu loses and it turns out that this president had any part in it, it’s another unprecedented moment in history where all future generations will suffer to some extent because of it.”
Franks said that he is incensed that “this president continues to insult [Israel] over and over again,” adding that he believes Obama’s presidency is a danger to the world.
“I want to you to know, I a long time ago had to let go of my personal feelings towards a president that would so casually dismiss the truth and the Constitution, but now I am starting to be afraid for my country with this man at the helm because I’m concerned that this kind of duplicity and this kind of arrogance is dangerous for this country and my children’s future,” he said.
Last week, we noted that fringe Religious Right activist Janet Porter was readying the release of a new anti-gay documentary she produced called "Light Wins: How To Overcome The Criminalization Of Christianity" that was reported to feature a variety of members of Congress and Republican presidential hopefuls.
At the time, there were only two clips from the movie available and the only political figure shown in either was Mike Huckabee. Today, Porter released another preview of her film, which contains footage of interviews she conducted with several anti-gay activists as well as with Rep. Louie Gohmert, Rep. Tim Huelskamp, Rep. Trent Franks, and Sen. Rand Paul, all attacking the Supreme Court for striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and for threatening to utterly destroy the institution of marriage entirely by legalizing gay marriage:
Last month, on the eve of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, House Republican leaders canceled a planned vote on a national 20-week abortion ban after Republican women and moderates objected to a provision that would have exempted rape survivors only if they filed a police report on their assault.
In an interview with Janet Parshall on Wednesday, the bill’s author, Rep. Trent Franks, said that the cancellation of the vote was “one of the great disappointments in my life.”
Pinning the change of plans on a “certain group within” the GOP, he lamented, “it’s always the water inside the ship that sinks it.”
Franks, who originally introduced the bill with no exceptions except to save the life of the pregnant woman,told Parshall that he objected to the rape exception in the first place because “none of us have any control over how we’re conceived.” He added that the reporting requirement shouldn't be a problem because after 20 weeks of pregnancy “most of the questions about sexual assault and all those other questions have been answered long before then.”
According to Eagle Forum, Franks told the group last year that "If I die and Roe v. Wade stands ... I will die a failure."
Earlier in the interview, Franks linked legal abortion in the U.S. with the brutal murder of a Jordanian pilot by the so-called Islamic State, saying, “Whether it’s the Jordanian pilot, whether it’s terrorism, all of the tragedies of the world, generally, are traced back to a lack of compassion for our fellow human beings, a lack of commitment to our fellow human beings.”
“If we don’t have the courage or the will as a country to protect the most innocent of all — children, these little pain-capable unborn babies — if we don’t have the courage to protect them, I am afraid that we will never have the courage or the will to protect any kind of liberty of any sort for this country or for anyone,” he said.
Is the government about to ban Christianity and turn it into a criminal offense? According to one documentary, the answer is 'yes' because the gay rights movement is determined to outlaw the practice of Christianity.
As Kyle reported, the “documentary” will include appearances from Sen. Rand Paul and former Gov. Mike Huckabee, both likely presidential candidates.
Reps. Trent Franks, Louie Gohmert, Steve King and Tim Huelskamp also make appearances, joining the likes of creationist leader Ken Ham, discredited pseudo-historian David Barton and even “ex-homosexuals.”
Scott Lively, the Religious Right activist who pushed for laws criminalizing homosexuality in Uganda and banning pro-gay-rights speech in Russia, is also a featured guest. Not only does Lively believe that Obama is the Antichrist and claim that gay wedding songs caused Noah’s flood, but he even wrote a book, The Pink Swastika, blaming gay people for the Holocaust.
Porter once co-chaired Huckabee’s Faith and Values Coalition during his 2008 presidential campaign and the former Arkansas governor once remarked that “there are two Janet’s that I answer to: my wife Janet and Janet Porter.” Most recently, she has dedicated her time to passing an anti-choice law, known as the Heartbeat Bill, in Ohio which would criminalize abortion even before many women know they are pregnant. Several GOP leaders, including Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich, have endorsed her bill.
Porter has built quite a reputation for claiming that President Obama is set to literally imprison, starve and murder his political opponents and that the gay rights movement will destroy freedom as we know it.
Porter’s remarks on LGBT people include:
That’s not all, as she has also:
Update: Porter has also released a trailer featuring Rand Paul and several GOP congressmen.
Today, Faith 2 Action's Janet Porter sent out an email to activists excitedly announcing that she is finishing up editing a new anti-gay documentary that she intends to release at the National Religious Broadcaster's Convention in Nashville at the end of this month.
Porter, who was a longtime Religious Right activist and radio host until she lost her program due to her increasing radicalism only to re-emerge as an anti-abortion activist and right-wing social media entrepreneur, has brought together a who's who of hardline anti-gay activists, members of Congress, and presidential hopefuls for her film entitled "Light Wins: How To Overcome The Criminalization Of Christianity."
Among the participants are Rep. Steve King, Rep. Trent Franks, Rep. Louie Gohmert, Rep. Tim Huelskamp, Sen. Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, David Barton, James Dobson, Mat Staver, Phyllis Schlafly, Scott Lively, Alveda King, Brian Camenker, Frank Pavone, Robert Knight, John Stemberger, and, of course, Porter herself, who can been seen walking around in the woods with a lantern, warning that gay activists are seeking to turn Christians into criminals:
Porter released a separate preview of the film today, featuring a clip in which she blasts the Boy Scouts for having "needlessly caved to a dark sexual agenda" by allowing gay Scouts to join the organization while Knight and Stemberger warn that, as a result, the Boy Scouts will soon face "homosexual scandals" just like Penn State and the Catholic Church:
While it might come as a bit of a surprise to see someone like Rand Paul listed as appearing in this documentary, Mike Huckabee's participation should come as no surprise at all, as he has had close ties to Porter for years, even having named her as co-chair of his Faith and Family Values Coalition when he ran for president in 2008.
Predictably, Huckabee has nothing but praise for Porter's film:
"Light Wins" reveals the frightening trend not to simply ignore Christian believers, but to rid society of us altogether. This ground breaking, eye opening film will awaken viewers to the fact that being a spectator is no longer an option. One will be part of the solution or part of the problem, and I hope this riveting documentary will cause believers to take notice."
For more info on Porter's long history of making insane claims, see this round-up.
Earlier this week, the National Review posted an audio recording of a call that a constituent of Rep. Renee Ellmers made to the North Carolina Republican’s office about her role in delaying a vote on a national 20-week abortion ban, which reveals, among other things, that prominent anti-choice women’s groups pushed for a requirement that rape survivors file police reports before being allowed an exemption from the ban.
Ellmers and other Republican women and moderates had objected to a provision that exempted rape survivors only if they first reported the assault to the police, warning that it could become a political liability for Republicans. In response, the GOP leadership withdrew the bill on the eve of a planned vote to work out what Sen. Lindsey Graham later called “this definitional problem with rape.”
In the call posted by National Review, an Ellmers staffer explains in frank detail the political machinations behind the wording of the rape exception and the ultimate withdrawal of the bill.
As we have noted, an earlier version of the bill sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks and approved by the House Judiciary Committee in 2013 included no rape exception at all. But after what the Ellmers staff called a “huge communications error” from Franks, when he suggested that rape rarely results in pregnancy, Republican leaders quietly snuck in a rape exception to the bill before putting it up for a vote on the House floor.
The Ellmers staffer revealed that prominent anti-choice women’s groups, including the Susan B. Anthony List and Concerned Women for America, objected to the rape exception and were instrumental in getting GOP leaders to modify it to include the reporting requirement.
These groups, the staffer said, told Republicans, “well, if you’re going to make an exception for rape and incest, it’s going to have to be reported to law enforcement officials.”
The staffer told the constituent that the rape exception was bad policy because it puts the federal government in the position of “identifying what is an is not rape”… and creates a “loophole” by which she alleged women would lie to law enforcement about being raped in order to access legal abortion.
The conversation starts at about the 3:00 mark in this video:
This is the fourth post in a RWW series on the reemergence of the fetal personhood movement and what it means for the future of abortion rights in the U.S.
Part 1: The Personhood Movement: Where It Comes From And What It Means For The Future Of Choice
Part 2: The Personhood Movement: Internal Battles Go Public
Part 3: The Personhood Movement: Undermining Roe In The Courts
Last week, the Republican Party was forced into yet another uncomfortable public conversation about abortion and rape.
The House GOP, enjoying a strengthened majority after the 2014 elections, announced that on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, it would hold a vote on a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a top priority of groups like National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) and Americans United for Life (AUL), which see it as a legislative key to toppling Roe v. Wade.
The night before the House was set to vote on the bill, GOP leaders pulled it from the floor, citing concerns by Republican women that a clause exempting rape survivors from the ban would require survivors to first report their assault to the police — a stipulation that they argued would prevent women from reporting rapes and would be politically unpopular.
Some anti-choice groups, however, had already stated that they would not support the bill — because they believed that the rape exception violated the principles of the anti-choice movement by exempting some women from abortion prohibitions.
In fact, less than two years earlier, the addition of the rape exemption to the bill had caused an acrimonious public split in the anti-choice movement, leading to the formation of the newest group advocating for a “personhood” strategy to end legal abortion.
The 2013 bill, proposed by Republican Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, included only an exception for abortions that would save the life of pregnant women. But in a committee hearing on the bill, Franks caused an uproar when he defended his bill by claiming that rape rarely results in pregnancy anyway. House Republicans, facing another outrageous comment about rape from one of their own, quickly added a rape exception to the bill, put a female cosponsor, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, in charge of the floor debate, and pushed it through the House.
The day before the vote, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) sent members of Congress a letter calling the Franks bill, which was based on its own model legislation, “the most important single piece of pro-life legislation to come before the House since the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act was enacted, a full decade ago.”
The group told members of Congress that it would go after them if they voted against the bill, even if they opposed it because they thought the legislation did not go far enough to ban abortion: “NRLC will regard a vote against this legislation, no matter what justification is offered, as a vote to allow unlimited abortion in the sixth month or later — and that is the way it will be reported in our scorecard of key right-to-life roll calls of the 113th Congress, and in subsequent communications from National Right to Life to grassroots pro-life citizens in every state.”
But Daniel Becker, head of National Right to Life’s Georgia affiliate, was not pleased. In the days after Republicans added a rape exception to the bill, Becker worked the phones, urging House Republicans from his state to oppose the “shameful” watered-down legislation. His efforts convinced two Georgia Republicans, Rep. Paul Broun and Rep. Rob Woodall, to buck their party and the major anti-choice groups and vote against the bill. Georgia Right to Life then endorsed Broun in his unsuccessful campaign to win the GOP nomination for an open U.S. Senate seat.
NRLC was livid and, true to its word, sent out a press release the next day singling out Broun and Woodall for their no votes.
Also furious was a prominent NRLC ally in Georgia, conservative pundit Erick Erickson. The day that the House approved the 20-week ban, Erickson wrote a scathing blog post calling Becker’s group “the Westboro Baptist Church of the pro-life movement.”
“Instead of saving souls, they’d rather stone those who are trying to save souls,” Erickson wrote. He called for the formation of a new anti-abortion group in Georgia to replace Becker’s as NRLC's state affiliate.
Several months later, in time for an upcoming meeting of NRLC’s board, Erickson founded his own group, Georgia Life Alliance. He then asked the national group to disaffiliate itself from Georgia Right to Life and take his group on as its official state chapter. NRLC's board happily complied, saying that Becker’s group had “ruptured its relationship” with them with its defiance on the Franks bill.
It didn’t take long for Becker to strike back. Fewer than three months later, Georgia Right to Life announced that it was forming the National Personhood Alliance, a new national organization of anti-abortion rights groups committed to a “no exceptions” strategy. In a press release announcing the group’s formation, he laid out the alliance’s philosophy, including a thinly veiled attack on NRLC. “Compromise is not possible,” he wrote. “This is not like roads or highways or agricultural subsidies; when we compromise — someone dies.”
The group later renamed itself the "Personhood Alliance."
In a policy paper in June, Jay Rogers of Personhood Florida laid out the new alliance’s strategy. It would not oppose incremental measures like the 20-week ban, but it would oppose any measure that “identifies a class of human beings that we may kill with impunity.” That is, it would only support efforts to restrict abortion rights that contain no exceptions for rape, incest, or the health of the pregnant woman.
Becker announced that the group’s interim president would be another anti-choice activist who had broken ranks with National Right to Life over strategy — in this case, over LGBT rights. Molly Smith, the president of Cleveland Right to Life, had earned a rebuke from NRLC when she said her group would oppose the reelection of Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman after he came out in favor of marriage equality, citing his openly gay son. NRLC blasted Smith for opposing the staunchly anti-choice senator and taking on “an advocacy agenda that includes issues beyond the right to life.”
The new Personhood Alliance won early endorsements from prominent Religious Right activist Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, popular conservative talk show host Steve Deace, and the Irish anti-abortion organization Life Institute.
But it also displayed ties to more fringe activists, boasting of an endorsement from infamous abortion clinic agitator Rusty Lee Thomas of Operation Save America, who blames the September 11 attacks on legal abortion. Jay Rogers, who wrote Personhood Alliance’s manifesto, is a longtime ally of Operation Save America who once assisted the group by administering a website showing the locations of Florida abortion providers’ private homes.
Another founding member of Personhood Alliance was Les Riley, who spearheaded Mississippi’s failed personhood amendment in 2011. Riley is a one-time blogger for a group that advocates Christian secession from the U.S. and a current officer with the theocratic Mississippi Constitution Party. Georgia’s Constitution Party also sponsored a booth at the Personhood Alliance’s convention.
Becker himself has a history on the more radical, confrontational fringes of the anti-abortion movement. In 1992, while running for a House seat in Georgia, Becker gained national attention when he helped pioneer the strategy of using an election-law loophole to run graphic anti-abortion ads on primetime television.
Personhood Alliance hasn't only set itself up against the rest of the anti-choice movement; it's directly competing with the group that brought personhood back in to the national political conversation.
In 2007, 19-year-old Colorado activist Kristi Burton teamed up with attorney Mark Meuser to push for a ballot measure defining “person” in Colorado law as beginning “from the moment of fertilization.” Keith Mason, another young activist who as an anti-choice missionary for Operation Rescue had driven a truck covered with pictures of aborted fetuses, joined the effort. Soon after the Colorado ballot initiative failed in 2008, he joined with Cal Zastrow, another veteran of the radical anti-choice “rescue movement” to found Personhood USA.
Personhood USA has raised the profile of the personhood movement by backing state-level ballot initiatives and legislation modeled on Kristi Burton’s. None of the group's measures has become law, but the political battles they cause have drawn national attention to the personhood movement’s goals.
In 2010, Mason’s group led the effort to again place a personhood measure on the Colorado ballot, eventually garnering just 29 percent of the vote (a slight uptick from 27 percent in 2008).
Following that loss, the group announced a “50 state strategy” to launch a personhood ballot petition in every state. The group focused its organizing on Mississippi, where an amendment made it onto the 2011 ballot but was rejected by 55 percent of voters after a strong pro-choice campaign centered on exposing the risk the amendment posed to legal birth control. In 2012, the group tried again in Colorado, but failed to gather enough signatures to get a personhood amendment on the ballot. The same year, a personhood bill in Virginia was passed by the state House but defeated in the Senate. In 2014, it got measures on the ballot in Colorado and North Dakota, both of which failed by wide margins.
As it expanded its mission, Personhood USA’s fundraising boomed. According to tax returns, in 2009 the group brought in just $52,000. In 2010, it raised $264,000. In 2011, when it was fighting in Mississippi, it brought in $1.5 million. But after the Mississippi defeat, the group’s fundraising faltered, falling to $1.1 million in 2012. The funding of the group’s nonpolitical arm, Personhood Education, however, continues to expand, going from $94,000 in 2010 to $373,000 in 2011 and $438,000 in 2012. In the process, it built a database of a reported 7 million supporters.
Despite its electoral setbacks, the group continues to have national ambitions: in 2012 it hosted a presidential candidates’ forum in Iowa attended by four Republican candidates. In what can be seen as another sign of the group’s success in raising the profile of the issue, in 2012 the Republican Party added to its platform support for a federal constitutional amendment banning abortion and endorsing “legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.”
Personhood USA has also quietly become involved in international efforts to restrict abortion rights. In its 2012 tax return, the group’s political arm reported a $400,000 grant to an unnamed recipient in Europe, representing more than one third of its total spending for the year. When Buzzfeed’s Lester Feder asked Mason who and what the grant went toward, Mason declined to comment. In 2014, Personhood USA’s Josh Craddock was granted consultative status at the United Nations, where he participated in the December, 2014, “Transatlantic Summit” of anti-choice, anti-LGBT advocates from around the world. The same year, Mason was scheduled to participate in an international social conservative forum at the Kremlin in Moscow. In January 2015, a Personhood USA representative reported having delivered a presentation at the U.K. parliament.
Personhood USA initially supported the Personhood Alliance and backed Becker — a former Personhood USA employee — in his battle against NRLC. But in September 2014, Personhood USA announced that it was cutting ties with Becker, accusing him of “trying to replace Personhood USA by using our structures and intellectual property” including the word “personhood.”
But it isn't just the right to the word "personhood" that divides the two groups; they also differ sharply and publicly on strategy.
When Becker launched his group, he took with him Gualberto Garcia Jones, a top Personhood USA official and key thinker in the personhood movement, who says he drafted the failed Colorado personhood initiatives in 2010 and 2014. A few weeks later, after statewide personhood ballot initiatives promoted by Personhood USA in North Dakota and Colorado went down in flames, Garcia Jones wrote an op-ed for LifeSiteNews explaining that while he had hoped to see those measures succeed, he believed that “the statewide personhood ballot measure is dead for now.” This was a direct repudiation of the strategy of Personhood USA’s strategy of introducing these measures or legislative alternatives in all 50 states.
Garcia Jones wrote that the struggling movement needed to engage in “asymmetrical tactics” by pushing through municipal personhood measures in rural areas where the movement can “control the battlefield”:
These initial years of the personhood movement have taught us a lot. I believe that we now know how to fight to win against Planned Parenthood. And the key is being able to control the battleground.
When you look at electoral maps of the country, it is readily evident that majorities in almost every metropolitan area of the country are opposed to our worldview. These metropolitan areas are also the major media centers and accumulate large percentages of the voting population in every state.
Right now, fighting the abortion industry at the state level is akin to having lined up a battalion of colonists against the well-trained and well armed redcoats. We need to start engaging in more asymmetrical tactics, and this means engaging the enemy in municipalities and counties that we know we control.
This can be done at the legislative and political level, as Georgia Right to Life and other groups have done by the endorsement of state officials, or it can be done by engaging in municipal ballot measures.
Jones noted that such municipal ordinances could affect the “many [local] powers that touch upon the personhood of the preborn, from local health and building codes to local law enforcement such as child abuse prevention.” And he hopes that, in the long run, municipal-level victories could lead to greater things. Becker has told blogger Jill Stanek that he hopes municipal measures will provoke legal battles that will accellerate a reconsideration of abortion rights in the courts.
Personhood USA, meanwhile, took credit for the municipal resolutions strategy and said it supported it, but noted that its state-level activism had been successful in mobilizing the grassroots and as an "educational tool that simultaneously provides a pro-life standard for lobbying and candidate endorsements."
Will the personhood movement’s strategy work?
Polling shows that the level of support for abortion rights in the U.S. depends on how you ask the question. And Gallup has found that Americans are pretty much evenly split between those who call themselves “pro-life” and those who choose the label “pro-choice.” But behind the labels is an entirely different picture. A large majority of Americans believe that abortion should be legal under all or some circumstances; only 21 percent want the procedure to be completely banned. Similarly, Pew found in 2013 that only three-in-ten respondents favored overturning Roe v. Wade.
These numbers don’t bode well for the personhood movement. Voters in states as conservative as Mississippi and North Dakota have been turned off by personhood’s clear goal of banning abortion in all circumstances as well as the threat it poses to contraception and fertility treatments.
At the same time, the more successful anti-choice groups have managed to work within current public opinion to push through scores of state-level measures restricting access to abortion in an effort to slowly undermine Roe. These measures, many based on model legislation from Americans United for Life, restrict abortion access by such means as imposing waiting periods for women seeking care, requiring hospital “admitting privileges” for abortion providers and then banning public hospitals from providing such agreements; or even regulating the width of the hallways in clinics.
The Guttmacher Institute has calculated that between 2011 and 2014, states enacted 231 abortion restrictions, meaning that half of all reproductive-age U.S. women now live in a state that the Institute categorizes as “hostile” or “extremely hostile” to abortion rights — all without passing outright bans on abortion or establishing fetal “personhood.” The anti-choice group Operation Rescue, which keeps detailed records on abortion providers in its effort to shut them down, reports that the number of surgical abortion clinics in the country has dropped by 75 percent since 1991, with 47 such clinics closing permanently in 2014. This can be partly attributed to the increased frequency of medication abortion, a practice that anti-choice groups are targeting with new restrictions. In 2005, even before the closures of the last few years, 87 percent of U.S. counties had no abortion provider.
Even as voters reject moves to ban abortion outright, anti-choice groups have found less resistance to this strategy of chipping away at abortion rights with the same goal. This contrast played out in the 2014 election, when voters in Colorado and North Dakota rejected personhood measures when they were clearly told could end legal abortion, while voters in Tennessee approved a measure giving the state government sweeping new powers to curtail abortion rights without outright ending abortion rights.
In fact, by loudly proclaiming its end goal, the personhood movement may be inadvertently helping the incrementalists who are using a different strategy to achieve the same ends. By proudly embracing the no-compromise extremes of the anti-choice agenda, the personhood movement has allowed the incrementalists to portray themselves as the political center, giving them cover for a successful campaign to undermine the right to choose. In 2014, Americans United for Life president Charmaine Yoest told Time, “Most people want to see abortion restricted in some way, even if they don’t call themselves pro-life … We’re the ones occupying the middle ground.” She might not be able to make that statement if the personhood movement was not loudly and proudly occupying the absolutist, no-compromise stance that her group believes to be too politically risky.
Even as the personhood movement provides political cover to groups like AUL, it also serves as an ever-present reminder of the goals of the anti-choice movement as a whole. While the more visible anti-choice groups may find a total, immediate ban on legal abortion politically unfeasible, the personhood movement is a constant reminder that this is what they want to achieve — one way or another.
Next week’s scheduled House vote on a national 20-week abortion ban, to be held on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, is reviving a bitter public debate within the anti-choice movement about whether to support abortion bans that include exceptions for preganancies resulting from rape or incest.
Even as major anti-choice groups line up to support the 20-week ban, activists in the “personhood” camp of the anti-abortion-rights movement are warning that the ban’s exceptions sell out the movement’s principles.
Back in 2013, when the House Judiciary Committee was debating a 20-week ban based on National Right to Life model legislation, Democrats on the committee tried to amend the bill to add rape and incest exceptions, but were rebuffed by the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Trent Franks, who declared that “the instance of rape resulting in pregnancy is very low.”
The Republican-led committee eventually approved the measure without the exceptions, but Franks’ comment had caused such a political firestorm that the House GOP leadership quietly added the exceptions in at the last minute and handed the public leadership on the bill over to a Republican woman, Rep. Marsha Blackburn.
Most of the major national anti-abortion groups didn’t support the added exceptions but backed the ban anyway, and it handily passed the Republican-controlled House. But the addition of the exceptions caused a very public split in the anti-choice movement. Georgia Right to Life, the state affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee, urged its state’s representatives in Congress to oppose the bill, a direct repudiation of the national group’s strategy. In return, National Right to Life kicked its Georgia affiliate out of the organization and replaced it with a new group called Georgia Life Alliance. Georgia Right to Life continued to exist as an independent group but also started a new national group called the Personhood Alliance to rival National Right to Life and push for no-exceptions abortion bans.
Now that Blackburn has reintroduced the bill with a rape and incest exception included, the Personhood Alliance and Georgia Right to Life are coming out to oppose it. In a statement yesterday, the Personhood Alliance’s president, Daniel Becker, lambasted Republicans for introducing a “message bill” with what he believes is the wrong message: "This a message bill. The president has already vowed to veto the bill, so why, in a Republican led House and Senate, send out a message that fails to embrace the essence of the pro-life movement."
Georgia Right to Life sounded the same note, saying that abortion bans should “protect all children in the womb who feel pain, not just those conceived by consent”:
"Last Fall, voters sent a clear message that they're fed up with political gamesmanship and lack of courage," [GRTL Executive Director Genevieve] Wilson said. "There's absolutely no need to compromise principles on any bill, especially one that President Obama has already said he will veto."
GRTL supported the 2013 version until an exception for rape and incest was added - which H.R.36 also has. We should pass bills that protect all children in the womb who feel pain, not just those conceived by consent.
Rep. Trent Franks believes that President Obama’s executive action on immigration was such an egregious step that it may cause the rule of law to collapse and compel the U.S. send an apology to England for the American Revolution.
While speaking yesterday with Frank Gaffney, the Arizona Republican said that Obama is “dividing the country in some very significant ways and I don’t think that he serves either the illegal immigration community or the cause of the rule of law or justice in general in any way when he makes these kinds of unilateral decisions.”
“I think that there’s probably nothing that this president has done or is doing that is more dangerous to the fundamental foundation of this Republic then ignoring the Constitution and betraying his oath of office” he said. “There is something very frightening about a president who simply aggregates this power onto himself and ignores the very oath that he took that president.”
“Without trying to sound overwrought, it literally could be the death of the Republic because once the chief executive officer of any republic all of the sudden begins to ignore the rule of law to hold himself unconstrained to the Constitution and to the truth of his own words, if that should become a common practice of presidents, then that little unpleasantness with England we had is something we should probably apologize for,” Franks added.
FrontPageMag editor and increasingly unhinged anti-Obama yeller David Horowitz is hosting his annual “Restoration Weekend” for anti-Muslim activists at a beach resort in Florida this month. This year, Horowitz has recruited an impressive slate of Republican politicians, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine to partake in the event’s offerings of golf, spa treatments, and Muslim-bashing.
Joining the GOP politicians at the Palm Beach weekend will be anti-Muslim activists including the Family Research Council’s Jerry Boykin, JihadWatch’s Robert Spencer, National Review columnist Andrew McCarthy and, as Horowitz announced this weekend on Newsmax, far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders.
Conservative pundits Ann Coulter, Michael Reagan and Ben Shapiro will also be at the event, according to its website, along with FreedomWorks CEO Matt Kibbe, Heritage Foundation economics chief Stephen Moore and Wall Street Journal editorial board member Kimberly Strassel.
Horowitz organizes and funds the annual Restoration Weekend through his David Horowitz Freedom Center — attendees pay between $1,750 and $20,000, but the group’s most recent available tax return shows the 2012 event didn’t even break even. At past events, Horowitz has attracted GOP luminaries including Sen. Ted Cruz, former Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. Steve King and Rep. Michele Bachmann. All apparently undeterred by their host’s record of anti-Muslim extremism, including accusing former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin and Republican anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist (whose wife is Muslim) of being secret Muslim Brotherhood agents.
In just the past year, Horowitz’s commentary has moved even further to the fringe. As the Justice Department launched an investigation of the shooting of an unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Missouri, this summer, Horowitz accused Attorney General Eric Holder of leading a black “lynch mob.” A day earlier, Horowitz said he was “sure” President Obama was secretly a Muslim because “he’s a pretend Christian in the same way he’s a pretend American.”
Such anti-Obama conspiracy theories have a welcome place at Horowitz’s Restoration Weekends. At last year’s event, for instance, Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona agreed with Robert Spencer’s statement that President Obama is either a secret Muslim or just acting like one:
Wilders, who has spoken at past Horowitz-affiliated events, including at least one Restoration Weekend, is currently on a U.S. tour that included lunch at the Capitol with Bachmann. Wilders, one of the most fiercely anti-Islam voices in Europe has compared the Quran to Mein Kampf and this year lost some prominent members of his own party when he targeted Moroccans living in the Netherlands to stir up support before the European elections.
Last month, Rep. Trent Franks appeared on a conference call with Virginia pastor and failed lieutenant governor candidate E.W. Jackson to discuss dangers to America’s survival, where they both agreed that the separation of church and state is bringing the country down.
Jackson asked the Arizona congressman about the “profound threat to Christianity in general and to our Christian foundations in this country,” which he said comes from President Obama and the “drumbeat of atheism that attacks everything, ‘get the cross down,’ ‘don’t show a Bible,’ ‘don’t wear a cross,’ ‘don’t say God bless you.’ It just seems like every day we’re hearing some new effort to try to shut Christians up and shut us down.”
“The litany that you listed there is so right, dead-on,” Franks responded, before warning that ISIS may succeed in committing violence against Christians because “the secular left” in America is diluting the country’s Christian heritage. He said that ISIS may rise into power just as the Nazis did even though at one point they were just “a bunch of idiots riding across France [sic] in their brownshirts.”
Franks later claimed that there is currently a legal challenge to crosses in Arlington National Cemetery, but as many fact-checkers point out, such a lawsuit does not exist and is merely a rumor. A similar story of a lawsuit against religious symbols at a military cemetery originated from a satirical website.
I think this president almost wants us to take a vacation from history, but, bishop, if we look historically, the political leaders had a profound impact on the religious communities. I don’t have to go back to the days of Adolf Hitler but the bottom line is there was a time when the Nazi Party was a bunch of idiots riding across France [sic] in their brownshirts, they had a horrific, evil intent but they had no capacity to do anybody any harm. But that philosophy that they had germinated into the intelligentsia of Germany and it grew and, my God, we had 50 million people killed as a result. Six million Jews and 50 million people died in that horrifying tragedy and yet today in the Islamic State, ISIS, we have a group that is literally as evil as the Nazis were, if not more, and they have no regard to their own lives, they are more intent than anything I’ve ever seen. If somehow this ideology that they are putting forward begins to take root in the Islamic world of 1.3 billion people, the threat that that represents to Christianity and to the world is almost impossible for me to articulate.
But as you said and as you said so wisely, it’s always the water on the inside of the ship that sinks it. Our greatest danger to religious freedom, I believe, is within our own country where we’re doing as you said, ‘take those crosses down.’ I used to say that the secular left would never quit until they said that we needed to start taking down the stars of David and the crosses of Calvary out of the tombstones out in Arlington National Cemetery. People thought that was an outrageous statement but just in the last two weeks there’s a group now that wants us to do that. It’s the water on the inside of the ship that sinks it, God help us to be salt and light while there’s still time because our faith is at risk. And if our faith in this country is destroyed, then I believe that the very foundation of the nation is destroyed and America will be remembered rather than recognized in the present.
The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins has excitedly touted a big “get” for this week’s Values Voter Summit: Meriam Ibrahim, the Christian woman who was persecuted by the Sudanese government over charges of apostasy. Evangelicals in the U.S. were part of the international chorus of voices who worked to keep a spotlight on Ibrahim’s plight, and Ibrahim may wish to thank some of the activists who advocated for her freedom.
But Perkins and FRC have another agenda entirely: They have been using Ibrahim as a prop in their relentless, over-the-top attacks on the Obama administration — and their claims that Christians in America are themselves facing government persecution.
Ibrahim’s vividly compelling case — for being a Christian, she was shackled to a prison floor with one small child while pregnant, then gave birth in jail — drew worldwide attention. Ibrahim had a Muslim father but was raised by a Christian mother, and in 2011 she married a Catholic American, Daniel Wali. She was arrested last September after being charged with apostasy — abandoning the Muslim faith — and for adultery given that the court didn’t recognize her marriage to a Christian. This May she was sentenced to receive 100 lashes and be hanged.
An Amnesty International campaign on her behalf generated more than a million signatures. European leaders condemned her treatment and called for her release. In the U.S., religious and political leaders called for her freedom. A petition on the White House website pushed by Perkins and others gained more than 50,000 signatures.
On May 15, the White House condemned her sentence in a statement by National Security Council Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden, which urged the government of Sudan to respect Ibrahim’s religious freedom and “to respect the fundamental freedoms and universal human rights of all its people.” The State Department also expressed concerns in May; Secretary of State John Kerry released a statement in June.
Ibrahim was freed on June 23, then re-arrested and detained briefly when she tried to leave the country. She was sheltered by the U.S. embassy for about a month until she was permitted to leave Sudan in late July. She is now living with her husband and children in New Hampshire.
Perkins has repeatedly used Ibrahim’s plight as a way to hammer the Obama administration.
In late May, Perkins fumed:
While many international groups have taken up efforts to pressure the Sudanese government to release Meriam and her children, the Obama administration has said little, and done nothing.
Think about this: two innocent American children are imprisoned abroad as their life hangs in the balance. If President Obama will not act in a situation like this, what will he act upon? Does Obama care?
Fox News’ hosts got in on the act, even as its own website was contradicting those claims. A May 31 Fox News story by Joshua Rhett Miller was headlined, “US 'fully engaged' in case of Sudanese woman sentenced to die for Christian faith.” It included a quote from the State Department:
“Through the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, the White House and the State Department, we have communicated our strong concern at high levels of the Sudanese government about this case,” State Department spokeswoman Nicole Thompson wrote FoxNews.com in an email. “We have heard from many, many Americans that they are deeply alarmed by [Ibrahim’s] plight. We have conveyed these views to the Government of Sudan.”
Yet the video at the top of that very story on the Fox News website featured Perkins saying the U.S. government was doing “so far, nothing that we can tell” other than condemning Ibrahim’s treatment. Megyn Kelly fumed that the State Department had “refused to say bupkis” about what the U.S. government was doing. If Perkins or Kelly were aware of the possibility that U.S. officials may have believed that quiet diplomacy would be more effective, they gave no hint of it.
Other conservatives piled on: On June 11, Nina Shea at the Hudson Institute wrote, “And, as Ibrahim looks toward an appeals court review of her case, President Obama and the U.S. State department have been silent about it.”
On June 12, FRC and Concerned Women for America held a rally in front of the White House. Perkins was joined by Obama-bashers Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Trent Franks. Perkins’ remarks were wildly inflammatory. “There was a time when people of faith could sit down inside the White House and talk about these issues,” he said. Claiming that administration inaction was threatening the lives of Ibrahim’s children, Perkins said, “If this president is content with the blood of small children on his hands, then God help him.”
Perkins continued throughout the summer to complain that the Obama administration was doing nothing to help Ibrahim, even though he was told otherwise on his own radio show by a Republican congressman. On June 23, Perkins had Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., on his radio show to talk about the case. As Brian reported in RWW, Meadows undermined Perkins’ attacks on the administration:
Asked if the State Department was working to help Ibrahim and her children, Meadows reported that the U.S. has in fact worked vigorously behind the scenes to free Ibrahim: “I got off of a call not more than an hour or so ago and a number of agencies across the board are working hand-in-glove to make sure that this is handled quickly and efficiently. And I am heartened by what I heard on that phone call and really encouraged that this is a government that cares about people. Sometimes I wish they would speak up louder and quicker, but I can tell you behind the scenes a number of agencies are working to make sure that they are safe.”
In July, Perkins testified about the case at a congressional subcommittee hearing. One of his fellow panelists, Grover Rees, who served as a U.S. ambassador during the George W. Bush presidency, said that even though Ibrahim’s husband had said he was rebuffed by a U.S. consular officer when he sought help, Rees believed that government agencies were doing what they could. Rees said that “the State Department seems to be making amends, supplying appropriate attention and care.”
Perkins has even kept up the Obama-bashing rhetoric since Ibrahim’s release and safe passage to the U.S. In August, Perkins cited the case as a reason people think Obama is a Muslim.
Perkins isn’t alone. In August, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer allied himself with ISIS’s characterization of Iraq’s Yazidi minority and griped, “Obama will fight for Satan-worshipers but not for Christians!”
ISIS has been beheading Christian children and crucifying Christians by the side of the road. Christians for months have been fleeing Iraq in droves ahead of the murderous hordes of Al Qaeda. And Obama yawns.
When Christian wife and mother Meriam Ibrahim is imprisoned in Sudan for being a Christian, and forced to give birth in a filthy jail cell while shackled to the wall, Obama yawns. While Christian pastor and American citizen Saeed Abedini languishes in the hellhole of an Iranian prison, Obama yawns.
But when worshipers of Lucifer get in trouble at the hands of the same blood-thirsty savages, suddenly Obama springs into action.
What this reveals about the president’s religious sympathies I will leave for others to decide. But it can’t be good.
Real Persecution vs the Religious Right’s Persecution Complex
We have previously suggested that American religious conservatives should be ashamed of equating their policy disagreements or losses in legal disputes with the kind of brutal religious persecution experienced by Meriam Ibrahim and so many Christians and other religious minorities around the globe. But Perkins and others have been happy to use her case to promote their narrative that Christianity in the U.S. is on the verge of being criminalized.
Advocates for LGBT equality are often portrayed as persecutors of Christians, as in Perkins’ statement in June that he was wondering, “When are they going to start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians?” As part of FRC’s announcement that Ibrahim would be speaking at the Values Voter Summit, Perkins said:
"Meriam's bold stand for Jesus Christ as she faced death has touched the hearts of people in every nation. Her incredible example of courage should inspire Christians in America to be bold and courageous in their faith as we witness growing religious hostility here in our country.”
“It is difficult to look at these facts [about Ibrahim’s case] and not understand then in the light of the current administration’s unilateral reinterpretation of religious freedom domestically. This administration believes religious beliefs should be quarantined to private spaces and excluded from the public space. This truncated view of religious freedom domestically, more accurately described as the freedom of worship, is matched by the administration’s failure to even address the growing threats to religious freedom internationally.”
In August, Dusty Gates, who works for the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, Kansas, wrote in Crisis magazine that liberals were uncomfortable supporting Ibrahim because they don’t support religious freedom in the U.S.
Naturally, this victory for freedom (liber) is being celebrated, at least to some degree, by liberals of all kinds. A human being freed from oppression, especially from such extreme persecution as Ibrahim faced, seems to be a grand slam for the liberal cause. But with the Ibrahim case, as well as the larger situation of global anti-Christian persecution, is causing liberals to sweat a little. Just as they stand up to cheer, it seems that their impending jubilation is cut short; subdued by a palpable fear that maybe they shouldn’t be celebrating the thing they want to celebrate. “A victory for freedom? Hoora… Oh wait, for religious freedom? Uh oh….”
Gates even slammed the welcome given Ibrahim by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, saying the Nutter’s comparison of Ibrahim to Rosa Parks rather than to other religious martyrs was “a subtle attempt to hijack Ibrahim’s story: taking it out of its full context and using it as a vehicle for the liberal agenda.”
In June, Christian author Benjamin Corey called out right-wing claims of religious persecution in the United States:
Meanwhile in the United States, we’re going about our daily lives panicking with cries of religious persecution as well…although, they’re not the cries one would think. Instead of a collective focus on wide-spread human rights abuses and religious persecution in places like Sudan, North Korea where an estimated 33,000 Christians have been incarcerated in prison camps, or the estimated thousands who actually die for their religious faith each year, we’re focused on a first world version of persecution that’s not really persecution at all.
When A&E temporarily made the decision to disassociate with Phil from Duck Dynasty over anti-gay comments he made in the media, it was labeled as “persecution”.
When public business owners in the baking industry have insisted on the right to discriminate and faced just accountability, it becomes another example of “persecution”.
We even have potential presidential candidates perpetuating such a persecution complex, with figures like Rick Santorum falsely stating that people who oppose same sex marriage are being sent to re-education camps.
With all of the legitimate and horrifying human rights violations occurring in the world, some in America have sadly adopted a very first world, privileged, and self-centered version of persecution. Instead of doubling efforts to shed light on international abuses, we’ve seen a flood of first world persecution claims– from internet trolls right up to the right wing members of government.
…Let’s reserve the “persecution” word for the real thing– such as what we saw in the case of Meriam Ibrahim.
Using Ibrahim to Attack LGBT Human Rights
Perkins has also used Meriam Ibrahim’s case to promote his attacks on the Obama administration’s advocacy for the human rights of LGBT people who face brutal persecution in many countries. In June, he wrote,
President Obama, who can't find a few minutes to call for Meriam Ibrahim's release from a Sudanese prison, had plenty of time to fly to New York and fundraise for homosexual activists.
In a late August direct mail piece, Perkins complained angrily about the “utterly shocking” fact that the rainbow flag was flown over the US embassy in Israel during a gay pride celebration.
“This would be outrageous enough all by itself—but the reality of the big picture is more frightening by far. The global Obama crusade for gay rights is happening against a backdrop of the total collapse of his real foreign policy responsibilities. We are witnessing an unprecedented level of anti-Christian persecution around the world, a colossal, international, multifront assault on religious freedom. Yet in response to these atrocities, the administration has remained all but silent….This administration is pressuring other nations to adopt Barack Obama’s radical gay agenda—but not to observe the most basic universal human right of religious freedom.”
The rest of Perkins’ letter goes back and forth between portraying the administration as fixated on gay rights and unconcerned about persecuted Christians. “We had no choice but to stand up for Meriam — because the Obama administration wouldn’t, and didn’t.”
“I urge you to stand with FRC Action again today as we fight back against the Obama administration’s outrages — their devotion to the cause of sexual immorality and their simultaneous indifference toward Christians suffering persecution for their faith.”
All the while Perkins portrays advocacy for the human rights of LGBT people — who certainly face brutal persecution in many parts of the world — as extremism.
When we see the rainbow flag of the homosexual movement flying over our embassies in Tel Aviv, London, and Prague, we can see with our own eyes what an extremist is sitting in the Oval Office.
Similar language appears in a September 6 fundraising email from Perkins, which says in part:
With President Obama promoting the homosexual movement around the world through the Obama administration, yet not working to prevent Christians from being persecuted, jailed, even tortured and killed for their faith, FRC Action’s work has grown more important than ever before.
As far as we can tell, Perkins and other Religious Right leaders haven’t raised much of a ruckus about the persecution of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi who faces 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes after being convicted of “insulting Islam” by calling for religious tolerance, or about the imprisonment in Indonesia of Alexander Aan for publicly declaring himself an atheist.
The Values Voter Summit
Meriam Ibrahim may consider an appearance at the extremism-heavy Values Voter Summit as an opportunity to thank the thousands of Americans who advocated on her behalf while she was suffering in a Sudanese prison cell, and to celebrate the freedom of religion that she and her family enjoy in America.
Unfortunately, her attendance at the Values Voter Summit will put her in the company of people like the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, who argues that the First Amendment does not protect religious minorities in the U.S., and the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, who argues that Christians whose beliefs on the equality of LGBT people differ from his do not deserve “true religion freedom.” And it will include many activists, like the Benham Brothers, who cry anti-Christian persecution despite their own record of working to restrict the religious and political freedoms of others.
Americans of every political and religious stripe can admire Ibrahim’s exceptional strength and courage in the face of real persecution. The same cannot be said for those who are trying to exploit her moral authority to advance their own political agendas.
Rep. Trent Franks appeared on Fox News last week to accuse President Obama of encouraging unaccompanied minors to cross the southern border, which he said could potentially lead to a nuclear attack.
“This president has ignored the intent of enemies like ISIS to exploit our porous border and if they ever gained the capacity to hurt us, with Iran on the cusp of potentially gaining a nuclear weapons capability, we could see a situation where terrorists could gain access to nuclear weapons and the shadow of nuclear terrorism could fall across this world and if that happens this president will be remembered in history as the one who stood by with a golf club in his hand and let it happen,” he said.
HT: RWW reader Bruce.
Five years after declaring President Obama an “ enemy of humanity,” Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) is now claiming that Obama failed to stop the rise of ISIS because he “doesn’t seem motivated enough on the basis of pure humanity to do what’s necessary to defend the innocent from the malevolent.”
Franks made the remarks in an interview Friday with Concerned Women for America, in which he claimed that Obama failed to heed his warnings about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.