A Frosty Reception to Trump's Prayer
If you thought tax reform terrified liberals, try praying about it! During Wednesday’s historic votes, Donald Trump sent the Left into a full-on panic by pausing a moment in his Cabinet meeting to thank God for their pending success. Before he turned the floor over to Secretary Ben Carson, the president looked at the media in the room and told them they could stay if they wanted to. After all, he joked, “You need the prayer more than I do. I think you may be the only ones. Maybe a good solid prayer, and they’ll be honest then. Is that possible?”
Well, the media was honest all right — but only about their distress. Most liberal reporters were, if not alarmed, completely baffled by Carson’s appeal. MSNBC led the parade of the perplexed, calling the display “unusual” and “striking.” ThinkProgress’s overreaction was almost comical. The group’s Aaron Rupar described what has always been a normal expression of faith in the White House (until recently) as “creepy” and “cult-like.” In some pockets of the press, the prayer overshadowed the real news itself: that Congress had passed the most meaningful tax overhaul in 30 years.
Meanwhile, Dr. Carson’s appeal was hardly the stuff of controversy. He thanked God for our freedom and the opportunities we, as Americans, have been given, and continued:
We thank you for the president and for cabinet members who are courageous, who are willing to face the winds of controversy in order to provide a better future for those who come after.
We’re thankful for the unity in Congress that has presented an opportunity for our economy to expand so that we can fight the corrosive debt that has been destroying our future. And we hope that that unity will spread even beyond party lines so that people will recognize that we have a nation worth saving. And recognize that nations divided against themselves cannot stand.
In this time of discord, distrust and dishonesty, we ask that you will give us a spirit of gratitude, compassion and common sense. And give us the wisdom to be able to guide this great nation in the future we ask in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Since the birth of our nation, we’ve had presidents who prayed and called the nation to prayer — including Democrats! Franklin Roosevelt’s 1944 prayer was so significant that he put it on the White House’s official Christmas card. “Not only did we have prayer in meetings like this,” David Barton told me on Wednesday’s “Washington Watch,” “but by the time you get to 1815, there had been 1,400 government-issued calls to prayer for the nation, so that’s not just prayer in Cabinet meetings. That’s calling the whole nation to prayer.”
And this isn’t just a colonial times phenomenon. In case MSNBC has forgotten, David pointed out, “Just on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, we don’t do anything in the House and Senate without having someone who is paid to pray open things up with prayer. So why they would think that’s unusual in a Cabinet meeting is pretty much indicative of their lack of polish on everything else.” Although, he went on, “I guess if your framework is based on the last eight years [under Barack Obama], then yes, it would be unusual and striking.”
For almost a decade, Obama treated faith like a toxin that needed neutralizing. Christianity was his favorite target, and he spent eight years training Americans to treat religious expression like public enemy number one. Now, David points out, Donald Trump is “making it mainstream again. And this is really bothering [the media], because they’re no longer the sole outlet for where people get their information. And so because of what happened today, it allows us to [hear] things that they’d just assume people not know.”
In all honesty, the Left’s reaction only shows its own hostility to faith. Liberals preach inclusion, but when it comes right down to it, they don’t believe in any of it. Instead, they mock the White House, knowing deep down that the real battle isn’t over Christmas or Cabinet prayers. The real war is over Christianity — and for the first time in a long time, they’re losing.
Originally published here.
Libs Try to Extinguish Fire Chief’s Freedom
Atlanta’s Kelvin Cochran knows all about fire — but being fired? That was a whole new experience — one Cochran hopes other Christians never face. The longtime chief of the city’s Fire Rescue Department was forced out of the squad three years ago after a distinguished career that included an appointment by President Obama as the U.S. Fire Administrator.
It was a shocking display of anti-religious prejudice — the kind that became all too common under the 44th president. Unfortunately for Cochran, Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed seemed intent on making an example of the African-American, who self-published a book — with the permission of the mayor’s office — on biblical morality.
Obviously, Reed’s message was that city employees have to check their beliefs — and specifically, their religious beliefs — at the door of public service. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where this persecution leads: to a country where no evidence of biblical morality will be tolerated. Christians who want to serve in a public capacity will have to go underground spiritually — or steer clear of those careers altogether.
Fortunately, after a legal battle that’s taken its share of twists and turns, the court sees this discrimination for the threat it is. Wednesday, Judge Leigh Martin May gave Chief Cochran and his attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) the affirmation they’d been waiting for: Mayor Reed’s actions do not “pass constitutional muster.”
“The government can’t force its employees to get its permission before engaging in free speech,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot, who argued before the court on behalf of Cochran last month. “In addition, as the court found, the city can’t leave such decisions to the whims of government officials. This ruling benefits not only Chief Cochran, but also other employees who want to write books or speak about matters unrelated to work. Atlanta can no longer force them to get permission or deny them permission just because certain officials disagree with the views expressed.”
Unfortunately, the ruling wasn’t a complete win for Cochran. Judge May did reject his free speech and free association claims. As FRC’s Travis Weber explains:
Relying on an area of law governing the free speech rights of public employees, the court ruled that the city’s interest in being able to run its operations as it wished — free of “discrimination” — justified the restriction on Cochran… On top of this, the court allowed the city to claim the risk of disruption was higher because Obergefell was being decided at that time, but one’s constitutional rights do not get sidelined just because of an ongoing debate. If anything, there should be especially protected at that time!
For now, Cochran’s case will continue, and we can celebrate that he was granted a few victories in this latest ruling. But the inability of the court to understand basic religious perspectives and the role they play in the lives of many well-meaning Christians who simply want to play a part in society is disappointing. While the two sides get ready for the next round of trials, we’ll wait to see if the chief gets his job back and finally receives some compensation for all the trouble he’s been through.
As he said, “It’s still unthinkable to me that the very faith and patriotism that inspired my professional achievements and drove me to treat all people with love and equity is what the government ultimately used to bring my dream career to an end. All Americans are guaranteed the freedom of actually believing and thinking in such a way that does not cost them the consequences that I’ve experienced in this termination.”
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.