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Haven Help Us: Christian Refugees Barred From U.S.

Tony Perkins · Mar. 20, 2018

Imagine having two four-year-old twin daughters. You and your wife are desperately trying to get them out of Iran, where your faith could mean their torture, captivity, or murder. Finally, you get the news you’ve been praying for: The United States has handpicked your family to come to America. But somewhere in the process, things go horribly wrong. Your wife and daughters are admitted. You aren’t. Months pass, and you desperately try to join them. Then, out of nowhere, you get a letter from U.S. officials: You’ve been rejected, and there is no appeal.

That’s the nightmare one father is wishing he could wake up from. But unfortunately for him and 86 other refugees stuck in Austria, this is the terrible reality they’re facing. Trapped between two worlds — a homeland they aren’t safe in and a refuge that won’t accept them — these religious minorities are forced to live out their days in what was supposed to be a temporary stop on the way to resettlement. Now, weeks into the realization that they might not be reunited with their families, they’re forced to accept the fact that they might be shipped back to Iran, where the punishment for being a religious minority is inhumane, to say the least.

Nina Shea, a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute and longtime activist for the persecuted church, is pleading with the Trump administration to step in and intervene. Even Shea, who’s an expert on refugee policy, can’t understand how these Christians and other minorities would have been barred from the U.S. when 99 percent of the refugees invited to America under the same legislation made it through. Just last year, she points out, “800 others were admitted during 2017 through this program, as evidence that there is no blanket denial policy.”

She suspects it has something to do with the security roadblocks thrown up by the last administration. “In late 2016, the Obama administration instituted a new, secret security layer. (Both the State Department and HIAS insist that these rejections aren’t related to President Trump’s executive order on the ‘travel ban.’) The Homeland Security Department sent some of the 87 Iranian refugees personal rejection letters, citing security concerns. Others simply got forms giving unspecified reasons for their rejections. They have no right to appeal, and their requests for review failed,” Shea explains in a column for Fox News. While the U.S. insists they won’t be forced to go back to Iran, Austrian authorities aren’t so sure. If the American government rejected them, the chances of Vienna’s officials harboring them are slim.

The situation is so critical that Sam Brownback, the new Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom, has made this priority number one. But resolving the problem, even with members like Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) weighing in, will be difficult. The State Department has no policy for dealing with the situation, meaning that this father, an 87-year-old wheelchair-bound grandmother, and other Christians with relatives in the U.S. face an uncertain fate.

Things get even more complicated with the exit of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Although President Trump has nominated an excellent replacement, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, at least one senator seems intent on sabotaging his confirmation: Republican Rand Paul (KY). “I’ll do whatever it takes [to oppose him],” Sen. Paul said over the weekend, “and that includes filibuster.” Apparently, the Senate’s most outspoken isolationist would rather leave the State Department in disarray than advance American priorities and help hurting people like these.

“He will get confirmed,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) insisted on Sunday. Let’s hope so. Brownback’s efforts show just how badly America needs a secretary of state who understands the stabilizing power of religious freedom in our foreign policy. We have a great Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom — now we need a secretary of state who will put the proper emphasis on that First Freedom. I’m confident Mike Pompeo will do that, sending a message to terrorists and tyrants worldwide that the persecution and genocide of religious minorities will not be tolerated.

Sen. Paul seems to think Mike Pompeo would be driving our military policy, which is completely untrue. He’ll be driving our foreign policy. Regardless, this is not the time for political grandstanding. Countless lives are at stake — and for the first time in decades, a true conservative has been chosen to lead the agency that’s been the most responsible for undermining conservative principles and ideals. The same principles, ironically, that Rand Paul says he stands for. Call (202-224-4343) or email Sen. Paul and ask him to help the persecuted by supporting — not opposing — Mike Pompeo.

Originally published here.

Cracks in Philadelphia’s Anti-Liberty Bill

Philadelphia is so desperate for foster families that it’s airing public service announcements. So, what’s the city doing cutting ties with the organizations that help find them?

While 300 kids are waiting for homes, the liberals on the Philadelphia City Council seem determined to keep them in limbo. Last Thursday, Councilwoman Cindy Bass proved that she and her liberal colleagues are more concerned with pushing their intolerant agenda than they are with finding children good homes. At the March 15 meeting, Bass introduced a resolution that gives the city a right to investigate any faith-based organization that won’t place kids with same-sex couples. Target #1? Catholic Social Services, one of the largest, most effective adoption and foster care agencies in the state.

Mayor Jim Kenney temporarily cut ties with the group (along with Bethany Christian Services) late last week while city officials dig into the groups’ beliefs. A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Kenneth Gavin, probably wishes this were a surprise. But unfortunately, he — like us — knows exactly where this is headed, after LGBT activists forced Catholic Charities to close its doors in Illinois, Massachusetts, and DC when it refused to compromise its values. Disappointed but resolved, Gavin explained:

Catholic Social Services is, at its core, an institution founded on faith-based principles. The Catholic Church does not endorse same-sex unions based on deeply-held religious beliefs and principles. As such, CSS would not be able to consider foster care placement within the context of a same-sex union… [The agency] cannot provide services in any manner or setting that would violate its institutional integrity, core values, and Catholic beliefs.

The mayor, meanwhile, made no secret where his prejudice lies. “We should first have a conversation with them to see what the extent of their discrimination is,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said, “but we cannot use taxpayer dollars to fund organizations that discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation or because of their same-sex marriage status. It’s just not right.”

Right? What is right? Placing kids in homes where they’re at greater risk of poverty or abuse? In the largest, “gold standard” study of its kind on the subject, Dr. Mark Regnerus surveyed almost 3,000 Americans ages 18-39 and found stark differences between adults raised with married parents and those in same-sex homes. The Heritage Foundation explains:

Results of the Regnerus study reveal that having a parent who is or has been in a same-sex relationship is generally associated with more negative adult outcomes, especially when compared with adult children from intact biological families. For example, adults whose mother or father had a same-sex relationship have lower educational attainment than adults who grew up with their two married biological parents. They are also more likely to receive welfare, experience depression, smoke, and be arrested. These differences remain after controlling for a variety of other childhood circumstances, such as race, family income, and state of residence.

Foster care is not — and should never be — about adults. This is about giving children the best chance to succeed in life. If LGBT activists truly cared about kids, they’d stop using them as leverage to force society — through the government — to embrace and celebrate their lifestyle.

Originally published here.

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

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