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November 10, 2015

Holy Land Wholly Enlightening

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama met [Monday] in the Oval office for a meeting that onlookers called “cordial.” The public side of the meeting seemed uneventful, as Netanyahu reaffirmed his support for a two-state solution with conditions, and Obama said he was committed to expanded military aid to Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama met [Monday] in the Oval office for a meeting that onlookers called “cordial.” The public side of the meeting seemed uneventful, as Netanyahu reaffirmed his support for a two-state solution with conditions, and Obama said he was committed to expanded military aid to Israel.

Despite what happened [Tuesday], the participants on FRC’s first-ever Holy Land tour, which concluded at the end of last week, can attest to the soured view that many Israelis have of the current American regime. (By the way, I want to thank those who were praying for us, because God abundantly answered those prayers!) Not only were we safe and sound, but it was the most insightful and informative trip that I’ve had to Israel in all of my visits. As if being inspired by the sites like Masada, Bet She'an, Tel Dan, the Mount of Beatitudes, and having communion near the empty Garden Tomb weren’t enough, we also met with a number of religious and political leaders. That experience helped our group of nearly 150 people gain a much better understanding of the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East. When you watch bombs being dropped from the Golan Heights on Syrian targets, it’s not difficult to grasp the realities of the volatility of that region of the world — in large part because of America’s failed foreign policies.

We’re all glad to be back home, but extremely grateful for the tremendous experience and reception in Israel. In addition to hosting our daily radio broadcast from Israel with members of our delegation like Michele Bachmann, Lt. Gen. Boykin, and our lead guide Amir Tsarfati, I was also interviewed by CBN’s Middle East bureau chief Chris Mitchell and the Regional Director of TBN, Samuel Smadja.

While the Obama administration’s support of Israel has been tepid, I had the opportunity to deliver a message to the Israeli people about how Bible-believing Christians were committed in their stand with Israel when I spoke at the Jerusalem Leaders’ Summit. As I told them, Israel is an island of liberty in a sea of repression and authoritarianism. I don’t know our president’s motives. He claims to be Israel’s friend and, in his words, “the closest thing to a Jew that has ever sat” in the Oval Office" of the White House.

All I can say is that his policies don’t reflect that kind of friendship. My message was, as Bible-believing Christians, that we love the people of Israel and will stand with them through whatever storms may come. It’s not a blind love, but a love like that between David and Jonathan. When we disagree with them, we will tell them. But no matter who may desert them, we will not. And I assured them we would do our part to in selecting a president in 2016 who would stand with them as well. To read the speech in its entirety, click here.

In Kentucky, a Welcome Matt for Christians*

Kentucky’s Matt Bevin isn’t the only one who won last Tuesday. With the election of a new governor comes another victory — for religious liberty. After watching outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear (D) trample upon the First Amendment freedoms of people like Kim Davis, conservatives everywhere are cheering the arrival of a leader unafraid of taking a stand for true tolerance. Barely a week after his come-from-behind win, Governor-elect Bevin wants Kentuckians to know that it’s a new day for men and women of faith.

After spending the last month emphasizing social values on the campaign trail, the new chief executive is making good on his promise to push back on the Left’s agenda of intimidation. One of Bevin’s first acts, he announced, would be making sure that what happened to Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis never happens again. “There’s a simple solution that would respect the rights of every Kentuckian,” he argued.

That will be quite a switch from his predecessor, who thought a reasonable solution for people who don’t support the redefinition of marriage is jail time. When Kim was finally released from her cell for requesting the simple accommodation of having her name removed from the licenses, Matt Bevin was one of the first people she saw. Like millions of Americans, he agrees that Christians should be able to live out their faith — at home or work — without worrying about behind hauled away in handcuffs. “One thing I will take care of right away is we will remove the names of the county clerks from the marriage form,” Bevin pledged.

Kentucky’s second Republican in 44 years will have that chance when he assumes office in December. “The argument that [it] can’t be done is baloney. We’ve already changed those forms three times for crying out loud. We will take the names off of those forms. We will do that by executive order. We will do it right out of the gate.” What a difference from Kentucky’s last administration, which refused to lift a finger to protect Americans’ most basic and fundamental liberty. “As governor,” Bevin vowed, “I will stand up for all Kentuckians, not just the ones who agree with me.” Let’s hope the rest of the country is watching when he does.

Sisters Act: SCOTUS Takes Nuns’ Case

ObamaCare isn’t just bogging down employers — but federal courts too. The president’s health care law has been overwhelming caseloads ever since it arrived on the scene in 2009. And based on the Supreme Court’s latest announcement, that’s not going to change any time soon. The same justices who pulled the law back from the brink have agreed to hear another challenge — this time on the ObamaCare mandate.

Going where no government had gone before, the administration ordered religious business owners, schools, charities, and nonprofits to surrender their beliefs and pay for coverage that violated their moral beliefs — or pay crippling fines. The courts are still trying to clean up that mess, as dozens of organizations continue to sue for rights they’ve enjoyed since America’s founding — the freedom to believe and live according to those beliefs. Of course, it didn’t help that the White House’s hostility extended to a group of Catholic nuns: Little Sisters of the Poor. As far as HHS was concerned, even they should have to pay for contraception and abortion-causing drugs! Like us, faith-based groups think they’re entitled to the same relief that companies like Hobby Lobby won: an exemption from the mandate.

Late last week, the Supreme Court agreed to settle the score with an administration bent on ignoring Americans’ moral objections on the critical issues of life and death. At the heart of the case is a clever little accounting gimmick that the administration concocted that would supposedly spare religious groups from the choice of violating their faith or the law. The only problem is that the “compromise,” which drives the coverage through a third party, doesn’t solve anything. It still makes men and women complicit in the act and payment of the coverage. Our hope is that the justices do what President Obama won’t: respect the fundamental freedoms that gave birth to America in the first place.

Correction: Last Friday, we mistakenly wrote that the opinion on Texas’s “In God We Trust” bumper stickers was issued by Dan Patrick, the state’s Lieutenant Governor — instead of who actually authored it, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Our apologies!

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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