Tony Perkins / December 8, 2015

No Margin for Terror

If Americans tuned in to the president’s speech [Sunday] night hoping for a substantive, long-term strategy to defeat ISIS, they’re still waiting. In a rare talk on terrorism (from an even rarer setting), the president managed to talk for 13 minutes without saying anything new. Backed into a corner by tragedies his failed policies helped create, President Obama tried to answer his critics on the administration’s inadequate response to radical Islam. But after a familiar lecture on tolerance and gun control, all he accomplished was proving his opponents right.

If Americans tuned in to the president’s speech [Sunday] night hoping for a substantive, long-term strategy to defeat ISIS, they’re still waiting. In a rare talk on terrorism (from an even rarer setting), the president managed to talk for 13 minutes without saying anything new. Backed into a corner by tragedies his failed policies helped create, President Obama tried to answer his critics on the administration’s inadequate response to radical Islam. But after a familiar lecture on tolerance and gun control, all he accomplished was proving his opponents right.

Obama, who delivered just his third address from the Oval Office, seemed somewhat less at home there than he does on late-night television (where he’s appeared almost four times as often). But the setting did lend a certain gravity to the moment that had been lacking in his other comments. Unfortunately, that gravity didn’t translate into concrete policy goals — much to the disappointment of everyday Americans, who are increasingly avoiding stadiums and shopping malls, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) fired back, because they’re scared. “They’re scared,” he went on, “not because of these attacks, but the growing sense we have a president that’s completely overwhelmed by them.”

Like other GOP candidates, he took particular exception to the administration’s line that its anti-terrorism strategy is working. If his strategy had been working, [Sunday] night’s speech wouldn’t have been necessary! “As Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than the security of the American people,” he said, while providing no evidence that he takes that security seriously.

With a military frayed by seven years of social experimentation and the Muslim faith afforded more tolerance than the Christians who founded this nation, Americans [Sunday] night were far from reassured. Instead, the president ticked off a list of ongoing responses: airstrikes, coalition work, border patrol, training and equipment runs to Iraqi and Syrian forces — before pivoting to a predictable and ineffective agenda: gun control.

After six years, the president was finally willing to label the attack at Fort Hood “an act of terrorism” — not because he suddenly came to grips with what happened there, but because he’ll do anything (including throwing political correctness overboard) to have an excuse to take guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens. But, as I tweeted [Sunday] night, Americans with guns aren’t the problem. The problem is that the policies of the Obama administration allow people into the country who hate America. The idea that radicalized Muslims can be stopped through stricter gun control laws shows a serious lack of understanding of the threat and tactics of terrorists.

Senator Ben Sasse (R-Nebr.) could only shake his head. “This is not about workplace violence. This is not about global warming or gun shows. This is not about income inequality… This is not about anything that we have done wrong. This is about who we are.” Unfortunately, this administration has shown very few signs that it knows who that is. “President Obama said… he’s worried about a backlash against American Muslims,” Sasse went on. “I am too, and you know what the best way to combat that is? With the truth. By being clear about who we are and what we stand for and by being clear about those who would try to kill us because we believe in freedom.”

Dying for a Family

The Pentagon is scrambling to explain the spike in military suicides, but maybe officials should be looking closer to home. According to new research, “the military’s suicide story is mostly about millennials.” Thanks to the University of Utah, the Defense Department is getting a clearer picture of the epidemic, which is taking more lives than combat deaths.

Desperate for bonding they aren’t getting from their parents, more young men and women are joining the military in hopes of finding it, the Washington Times explains. And it’s no coincidence that this same generation is more affected by divorce and family breakdown than any other. “This cadre, the paper says, is more likely to come from single-parent homes compared to previous generations, has more adverse childhood experiences, and suffers ‘diminished social integration.’”

After pouring over the Pentagon’s data, the research team noticed that the military suicide rate actually dropped in earlier wars. “We have a societal issue here,” said one of the authors. “I don’t think we have a military issue.” The turning point, most believe, came after 2000, when more millennials started enlisting. Suddenly, the suicide jumped at least 60 percent (and even higher in the Marines). “For millennials born between 1985 and 1989, the civilian suicide rate increased to 37.8 per 100,000, more than double that of the Depression-era group.”

As revealing as the study is, it shouldn’t be too surprising. The effects of family breakdown are affecting every facet of society. At FRC’s Marriage and Religious Research Institute (MARRI), Dr. Pat Fagan’s team has found that in countries and cultures as far apart as Denmark and China, those from intact married families are much less prone to suicide. Once again, the data shows: America has nothing to lose and everything to gain by putting a new focus on the family — and policies that encourage its formation.

Obama’s Policy Put to the (Religious) Test

It was more than a little ironic [Sunday] night when the president said it’s “our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country.” As many are saying, “You first, Mr. President.” Based on the State Department’s own numbers, the Obama administration has been employing the most stringent test of all — against Christians.

According to the government, the U.S. is not only ignoring the persecution of Christians, but exacerbating it by refusing to grant more asylum. Making up barely 1.1 percent of America’s refugee population, Christians are being rejected from one of the few safe havens still left in the world: the United States. Despite even his own government sounding the alarm about the explosion in Christian genocide, President Obama still refuses to call it as much.

Although it fits the criteria outlined by the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, it doesn’t fit the administration’s narrative of tolerant Muslim populations. America, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom scolds, has not prioritized religious liberty enough in foreign policy — fanning the flame of even wider abuses. Chief among its complaints is that the U.S. hasn’t blocked visas for religious rights violators. Instead, thanks to the lax attitude at the State Department, enemies of freedom continue to stream into the country, while innocent Christians are denied entry.

That must stop, several experts urged in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry. Led by a diverse coalition of political, religious, and education leaders, the group insisted that “Christians must not be excluded from a finding of genocide in the Middle East.”

After reiterating the definition of the term for those at the State Department, the letter goes on, “We will also present ISIS’s own, public statements taking ‘credit’ for mass murder of Christians, and expressing its intent to eliminate Christian communities from its ‘Islamic State.’ … ISIS genocidal campaign against Christians continues today, with hundreds of Christians remaining in ISIS captivity, and with summary executions, including by beheading and crucifixion, occurring as recently as only a few months ago.”

Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised that the Obama administration is indifferent to religious persecution abroad when their own policies here at home have promoted religious intolerance. But the reality is this: The world can’t heed the cry for freedom if its biggest defenders are silent.


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

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