Hope on the Horizon for Egypt’s Persecuted Church
If anyone understands the horrors of religious persecution, it’s Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
If anyone understands the horrors of religious persecution, it’s Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. After months of watching ISIS march across the Middle East, staining the surf with innocent Coptic blood, Egypt is just one of the many countries desperately seeking an end to the violence. From bombs ripping through congregations on Easter to masked gunman mowing down little children on a bus, caskets have been filled with the agonizing evidence that these victims were targeted for one reason: their faith.
For Christians in the Middle East, harassment and terror have become a way of life. Eliminating it is the tall task of the world’s leaders in this titanic struggle against evil. Fortunately for Christians in the region, Egypt’s President el-Sisi is not shying away from that work. He and his administration are determined to rebuild what hate-filled men tried to destroy, including his people’s freedom to worship without fear.
I had the unique privilege of hearing that from President el-Sisi himself at a meeting in the presidential palace. Organized by our good friend Joel Rosenberg, a delegation of American evangelicals made the trip to Cairo to try to repair the damage done by Barack Obama’s indifference to international religious freedom. A one-hour meeting quickly turned into three, as we had the opportunity to meet not just with the president but Khalid Fawzi, chief of Egyptian intelligence, and Dr. Andrea Zaki, the president of the council of Protestant Churches in Egypt.
Among other things, the president reiterated his desire to protect religious freedom for all people. Despite a string of attacks, the country is making progress in protecting Egyptians from being targeted because of their religious identity. In addition to the Egyptian government working to rebuild the church buildings destroyed by the Islamists, President el-Sisi is committed to working to ensure that every human being can exercise their God-given right to religious freedom. As part of this work, we encouraged Egypt to increase public awareness of the cultural, economic, political, and national security benefits of true religious freedom.
Hopefully, the el-Sisi administration will serve as an example in the Middle East. Not too far away, in Iraq and Syria, religious freedom has taken a horrible toll over the last few years. While we’ve advocated for this human right worldwide, much of our focus has been absorbed in recent years by the Middle East, where both Democratic and Republican administrations in the United States have recognized a genocide is occurring against Christians, Yezidis, and others at the hands of ISIS.
Now that ISIS is being pushed out of the region, we must ensure these communities are able to return and rebuild. In that vein, we were pleased to see that the Trump administration is now funneling aid directly to groups helping these communities on the ground instead of the inefficient UN system.
Here in Egypt, I’m greatly inspired by the powerful faith and determination of the Christians who not only survived the uprising and the terrorism of the Muslim Brotherhood but are now seeing their churches thrive as people seek the truth. Tomorrow, I’ll have details of our meeting with evangelical church leaders in Egypt.
For more on the meeting with the Egyptian president, check out the coverage from The Christian Post.
Originally published here.
A Landry List of Problems with LA Order
It’s hard enough to win a government contract. Now imagine that your beliefs are a disqualifying factor! In Louisiana, that’s exactly the hostile environment Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) was trying to create when he issued an executive order excluding conservatives from state partnerships. Like a lot of liberals, Gov. Edwards thinks there should be an ideological litmus test for anyone applying to partner with the government — and Christians need not apply. Last year, when the legislature refused to go along with his policy, Gov. Edwards took matters into his own hands, issuing an executive order that tried to elbow religious contractors out of state work unless they surrendered their views. Under his EO, any company that wanted to contract with the Louisiana government had to agree to special privileges for people who identify as LGBT — including genderless bathrooms and showers.
Like a lot of Louisianans, State Attorney General Jeff Landry was appalled. When government contracts started streaming through his office for approval, he refused to sign them. Furious that the attorney general wouldn’t go along with his ploy, Gov. Edwards sued him. If that was supposed to scare off Landry, it didn’t work. “I will not cower to executive overreach; rather, I will continue to defend our Constitution and the will of the people,” Landry said in a statement.
One court already said he was well within his powers to do so. This week, a second piled on — dealing a serious blow to Edwards’s hopes of strong-arming faith-based and conservative groups. In a unanimous ruling, the three-judge panel sided with Attorney General Landry, agreeing that it was completely unconstitutional to try to exclude certain contractors from government partnership. This is, as Judge Todd Hernandez wrote, “unlawful usurp of the constitutional authority vested only in the legislative branch of government.”
“The Governor’s Executive Order in this case goes beyond a mere policy statement or directive to fulfill law,” Judge Toni Higginbotham argued, “because there is no current state or federal law specifically outlining anti-discrimination laws concerning and/or defining sexual orientation or gender identity.” A lower court judge had already come to that conclusion, but the governor, desperate to squeeze out conservatives and Christians, refused to take no for an answer. He appealed, hoping for a different result. He didn’t get one.
“That’s the problem right now in this country,” Attorney General Landry told me last year on “Washington Watch.” “No one wants to respect the rule of law and the process. Everyone wants to circumvent or short-cut it. And in Louisiana, we’re just not going to allow that.” Unfortunately for Americans, this is the Left’s favorite play for unpopular policies.
“This is very similar to what we [saw] under President Obama,” Landry went on, “in that, if he can’t get his way with Congress, he tries to circumvent the will of the legislature by using executive orders. I will take on an executive, regardless of who he or she is, in an effort to ensure that everyone stays within their sphere of influence. What we’re doing is checking the executive branch, and making sure they don’t overreach into an area that’s strictly under the control of the legislature. And the legislature of Louisiana has, at multiple times and on many occasions, in a bipartisan manner rejected creating a protected class for gender identity.”
At a time when the only good news coming out of the courts seems to be the people President Trump is appointing to them, this was a tremendous victory for the religious liberty of Louisiana. Let this be a lesson to other liberal officials: Americans are fed up with their lawlessness! No one should be required to choose between doing business with the state or violating their conscience. Thank goodness these judges agreed!
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.
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