HHS Targeted for Anti-Faith Purge
The president laid out a compelling plan for the year in his State of the Union address, but it’s important to remember that the key to good policy is good personnel. So it’s no surprise that anti-faith liberals are attacking some of the appointees in this administration, especially in one of the largest and most powerful departments, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which has been the nemesis of conservatives, especially under Barack Obama.
HHS under the previous administration promoted blatant anti-faith policies, including forcing faith-based employers like the Little Sisters of the Poor to violate their faith in the health care plans they provide. HHS also in 2009 had rescinded President Bush’s 2008 conscience regulation that merely enforced federal laws prohibiting government discrimination against pro-life health care entities. They did nothing to enforce conscience protections for the likes of Cathy DeCarlo, a nurse who was forced to participate in an abortion at a federally funded hospital, or churches in California that have lost their health care coverage because the state mandated abortion coverage in violation of federal law preventing such discrimination. The attack on life and faith under the prior administration may have been at its most egregious at HHS in the Obama era.
So when competent pro-life conservatives were appointed to oversee HHS, of course anti-life liberals pitched a fit. As we wrote before, Valerie Huber is an excellent choice for the team over at HHS due to her experience in social sciences and practical public health programs encouraging risk avoidance in the context of sexual behavior. Last week, the liberal media went after two other solid conservatives working to implement the president’s agenda. The Left’s effort to demonize qualified people over policy differences sinks lower and lower. Roger Severino, for instance, heads up the Office of Civil Rights, the office at HHS that oversees helping defend civil rights laws. After HHS announced a new division to protect the conscience rights of health care providers who object to being forced to participate in abortion or assisted suicide — the protections of which are in existing law — and after HHS issued a new proposed rule to enforce 25 conscience laws on the books, Roger was slammed as a conservative evangelical along with Shannon Royce, who heads up the office of faith-based initiatives.
Of course, the story was updated since it wrongly claimed Roger is an evangelical — he’s Catholic — but the smearing continues. Shannon, my former chief of staff and someone who worked at the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and previously for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), is well qualified to oversee HHS’s outreach to the faith-based community. After years of HHS punishing faith-based communities, it’s refreshing to see someone like Shannon who respects people of all faiths. The story criticizing Roger and Shannon reported on disgruntled HHS staffers, speaking on the condition of anonymity, complaining that Shannon listens to evangelical voices over others. Maybe they just disagree with her and the president’s defense of religious liberty over Obama’s animosity towards it?
Others in the crosshairs of this smear campaign have been Charmaine Yoest, who led Americans United for Life, and Scott Lloyd, formerly with the Knights of Columbus. Scott heads up the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which cares for refugees, including minors who have entered the country illegally. Scott’s name has been dragged through the mud for not facilitating efforts to provide elective abortion to these young girls. The Hyde Amendment governing funds over HHS says abortion is not health care and shouldn’t be funded by the taxpayers. Why should Scott guarantee that young girls trying to enter the country illegally obtain abortions when it’s not required by law that the federal government facilitate such abortions?
This is a typical tactic of the radical Left. Rather than debate policies, it demonizes people and distorts their records. Call the White House at 202-456-1111 and let it know you support these people!
Originally published here.
Baptist Leaders: Trump No Wedge for Evangelicals
The mainstream media has had a lot to say lately about evangelicals and President Trump. You may recall last fall when they openly mocked me and other evangelical leaders for praying over President Trump in the Oval Office and then sneered the president’s enthusiastic reception at the Values Voter Summit. The media’s frustration continues to swell as the relationship between the president and evangelicals grows stronger as he fulfills more and more promises. Pollster George Barna finds that support for President Trump remains at a strong 68 percent approval and that among the SAGE CON category of adults (Spiritually Active, Governance Engaged Conservative Christians), 51 percent say the president has “done better than they expected.”
Last week I explained to Politico why so many evangelicals came around to supporting President Trump, and the media reaction was swift. Editorial pages along with MSNBC/CNN pundits began recycling charges of “evangelical hypocrisy” — clearly hoping to drive a wedge between the president and evangelicals. Some even suggested that giving any kind of support to President Trump might “push followers away” from churches. Following the State of the Union address, the Baptist Press took on this very issue, asking the presidents of five Baptist state conventions whether views of President Trump have “distracted or divided” their congregations. While these Baptist leaders admitted to a “diversity of opinions” among churchgoers, they were unanimous in saying that the president is “no barrier to church unity.”
As Stephen Rummage of the Florida Baptist Convention and pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, FL, noted, “Bell Shoals is united in praying for President Trump as he leads our nation. I have found that, while members of our church recognize flaws in President Trump, they are also very supportive for actions he has taken that are consistent with Christian values, such as protecting the unborn and promoting religious liberty.” Pastor Mike Stone of the Georgia Baptist Convention said, “There has been no distraction in our congregation, largely because our corporate focus is on issues rather than politics.”
Exactly. As I’ve said repeatedly, influence is a two-way street. Tuesday night’s powerful State of the Union address is a prime example of how evangelicals have brought the president along on the values and policies that are critical to making America a good and prosperous nation.
Originally published here.
Kentucky Gov. Stands Up for Kneeling Down
In the past decade or so, there’s been a shift in our culture. Maybe you’ve noticed it too.
Calls for prayer in the wake of tragedies, something that used to be almost universally embraced, is now met with cynicism and outright hostility. Last November, I wrote about the hostile response to prayer for the church attack in Sutherland Springs, TX. And now, the same scenario has been unfolding in Kentucky, where Marshall County was scene to a horrific shooting massacre at a high school, leaving two students dead and many others injured.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin issued a proclamation that Jan. 28th would be a “Day of Prayer for Marshall County.” The backlash and mockery of Bevin’s proclamation was fast and furious. One Louisville commentator said, “I don’t care what god you pray to, but if your blind faith prohibits you from seeing the answers, your faith is worthless. Your faith in prayer alone drowned two kids from Marshall County last week.” An atheist blogger echoed, “This is just another Republican governor using the aftermath of a tragedy to promote his personal faith.” The hostility from social media piled on as well.
I understand cynicism from unbelievers — I get that. But the open hostility toward people who are hurting and seeking their God does nothing to comfort, nothing to unite, and nothing to heal. A call to prayer harms no one.
On my radio show, I asked Gov. Bevin about how important prayer was in healing a tragedy like the families in Marshall County are experiencing. Bevin put it in perspective:
I’ve seen firsthand evidence — just in Marshall County, just in the last week [and change] — how important it is. These people volitionally — not because they were instructed to, not because anyone came from the outside and suggested it, but both organically and volitionally — from within that community, they had prayer vigils, prayer meetings, gatherings of people, students and adults alike, independent of the school, at the school, in places of worship, outside places of worship — it was remarkable.
And again, the reason being is not because this provides a false solace. But because it is a direct and immediate connection to the very Creator that endowed us with the unalienable rights that so often we have taken for granted in this country — that our founders understood was important. And I just found it encouraging, frankly, as a person of faith myself, to see this community binding together through this in a terrifically terrible time. And yet they were coming together and comforted by their faith. Look at the history of our country — from the very beginning this has been something recognized by our political leaders as something of importance.
Time after time throughout my career I’ve seen what Gov. Bevin is talking about play out and hold true. In fact, I would go so far as to say that prayer is the most powerful response we can make when tragedy strikes. In turning our hearts toward the One who sustains all things, we are reminded that we have no hope in the things of this world.
Matt Bevin gets that. And he isn’t of the sort that will back down to Internet bullies. He knows what’s truly at stake:
I would encourage all people in positions of influence, whether they’re in political office — whether they’re coaches, whether they’re teachers, whether they’re parents in the home — be bold and unapologetic about the things that you know to be truth. We have no reason to apologize. We don’t need to be ashamed. … Do not allow mockery and ridicule to move you from what you know to be true.
I couldn’t agree more. Let’s stand with Gov. Bevin and Kentucky as they kneel in prayer for healing in the face of evil.
Click here to let Gov. Bevin know that you’ll stand with him — on your knees in prayer!
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council.