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Hope at State With Pompeo at Helm

Tony Perkins · Mar. 14, 2018

With almost 14 months of the Trump administration behind us, few would attempt to counter the fact that Donald Trump has been an agent of change. While not all agree with the change, the vast majority who supported him are applauding his efforts to drain the swamp.

Few federal agencies have resisted the change more than the one aptly located at Foggy Bottom, the U.S. Department of State. But with the announcement by President Trump yesterday that Tillerson is out and CIA Director Mike Pompeo is in, there is now hope for change at the agency that has few if any rivals in being at cross purposes with American values and principles.

When Rex Tillerson was first announced as the president’s pick for secretary of state, I communicated my concern privately and publicly. I said that the State Department needed a strong change agent like Trump, and there was no way based upon Tillerson’s record that he would do enough to roll back the harmful cultural imperialism that had been pushed in the State Department during the Obama administration and restore our promotion of international religious freedom to where it should be.

And under Tillerson’s leadership, not much did change in these areas. Religious freedom and human rights for all continues to take a backseat to the LGBT agenda as LGBT-promoting acting ambassadors remain in place around the world and our tax dollars still go to non-government organizations (NGOs) aligned with groups like George Soros’ Open Society and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Now that Tillerson is on his way out and CIA Director Mike Pompeo has been tapped to take the helm, there is hope for the United States to once again lead the world toward the promotion of religious freedom and the protection of human rights. I believe Mike Pompeo is the agent of change the State Department needs, and he has the president’s ear.

He cares about religious freedom and about restoring the United States to its historically esteemed role of human rights defender — not cultural imperialist. And with Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback also in place, the United States is perhaps better poised than any other time in recent memory to significantly make inroads in promoting religious freedom worldwide.

President Trump’s recently released National Security Strategy states that the United States “remains committed to supporting and advancing religious freedom,” which is not the “state’s creation” but is “the gift of God to every person and a fundamental right for our flourishing society.” The strategy also recognizes it is a “priority action” to “protect religious freedom and religious minorities.”

A policy recognizing international religious freedom as a national security issue is great to see. Now we just need to implement it! With national security expert Pompeo at the helm, and Brownback working with him, it is possible we may be celebrating President Trump’s international religious freedom accomplishments years down the road.

Originally published here.

A View of Apology: Behar Makes Things Right

When you mess up, you make things right. And when you mess up publicly, you make public amends.

Last month, on ABC’s “The View,” host Joy Behar disparaged Christians nationwide by comparing Vice President Mike Pence’s Christian faith — a faith shared by millions of Americans — to “mental illness.”

Our friends at Media Research Center (MRC), who keep up with media bias, rightly thought that this was a bridge too far. MRC launched a call campaign to pressure “The View’s” advertisers to hold Behar and the network accountable for these irresponsible words. Thousands of you joined that campaign, and also signed FRC’s petition to Disney-ABC to do the right thing and make amends.

Behar had reportedly reached out directly to Vice President Pence and apologized, and that was confirmed Monday night when Pence appeared on Fox News with Sean Hannity. “I give Joy Behar a lot of credit,” said the vice president. “She picked up the phone. She called me. She was very sincere, and she apologized and one of the things my faith teaches me is grace; forgive as you’ve been forgiven.”

Although Behar had apologized to Pence, she remained silent on the issue to the millions of other Christians she had disparaged. The vice president, recognizing Behar’s need to reconcile with so many Americans, said, “I’m still encouraging her to use the forum of that program or some other public forum to apologize to tens of millions of Americans who were equally offended.”

Yesterday, Joy Behar listened to the vice president, many of you, and thousands of other Americans. She offered a non-qualified apology at the top of her show: “So I think Vice President Pence is right. I was raised to respect everyone’s religious faith. I fell short of that. I sincerely apologize for what I said.”

Now American Christians have the opportunity to follow Vice President Pence’s lead in forgiving Behar for her comments. She did the right thing in an atmosphere where it would have been so easy to double down. And furthermore, it’s my prayer that Joy Behar — and other media personalities like her who seem to have little interaction with believers — will get to know some genuine followers of Christ and see that a relationship with Christ is no illusion.

Originally published here.

Suffer the Little Children: Adoption in Crisis

Most adoption and foster care providers, like most parents, put the needs of children first. But LGBT activists are once again showing that they are more concerned with the desires of adults than the needs of children.

This is not a new problem. Even before the Supreme Court attempted to redefine marriage, homosexual activists had begun to target Christian foster and adoptive families and the organizations that serve them. They tried to run Bethany Christian Services out of Virginia and successfully shut down Catholic Charities’ foster and adoption work in Boston, Illinois, and Washington DC, disrupting families and threatening ongoing adoptions.

Reducing the number of child-welfare organizations in a state hurts children. Several states have acted to protect children, and this week Oklahoma became the latest. Legislators there introduced the latest state Child Welfare Provider Protection Act. Like other state bills, and like the bill moving in Congress, this bill simply protects the rights of religious families and organizations to work together with like-minded partners to serve children.

But the response was as swift as it was predictable; a LGBT pressure group with national ties accused lawmakers of “discrimination,” and The Washington Post breathlessly picked up the talking point. “Gay-rights advocates … say [the bill] will codify the ability of religious-based adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples seeking to adopt,” screams the lead.

Did you catch that? It’s about the desires of adults, not the needs of kids.

Except the facts don’t bear that out. Oklahoma already allows adoptive parents to seek out like-minded organization. If Jewish parents, for example, want to work with a Jewish organization, they can. Nothing in the bill prohibits anyone from adopting. As a spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services said, same-sex couples are certified for adoption “all the time.”

“If a private adoption agency decided not to certify someone” on the basis of their belief in natural marriage, “there are many options for families to choose from.”

Oklahoma officials deserve praise, not condemnation, for preserving Americans’ First Amendment right to voluntarily associate on the basis of shared beliefs. But more protection is needed, and in more states. Private charities, businesses, and government officials are already being targeted on the basis of their belief in natural marriage. All of them should be allowed to live and according to their deeply held religious beliefs or moral convictions.

Originally published here.

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

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