Living the MLK Dream
It would have been a bitterly cold day to visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial, but plenty did. Bundled up on a deceptively sunny day, they took advantage of the park’s re-opening, a rare gift in the midst of the longest government shutdown. One by one, they stopped to look up at the civil rights leader, who stands now as he did then: unflinching in the winds.
A lot has changed since Rev. King’s life was cut short a half century ago. The man who would have turned 90 last week would notice a lot of his fingerprints on America’s social progress. But he would also be deeply dismayed to see the number of people who’ve turned their backs on his greatest motivation: a deep and abiding faith in God. In all of the politically-correct retrospectives, we’ve lost perspective on how important religion was to the story of Dr. King and the civil rights movement.
When visitors run their fingers along the etched words of the MLK memorial, finding God is difficult. Not because Dr. King didn’t invoke Him — quite the contrary. It’s because too many in our government refused to acknowledge that faith was his driving force. These are the people, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, points out, who’d be quite happy to keep religion, morality, the Bible, and its teachings private. Imagine, Dolan said, if Martin Luther King were one of them. If he thought that “what he prayed on Sunday morning was not to be implemented on Monday morning. For him, politics was shot through with religious values and for him there was no apologizing for the fact that the Bible, that Jesus, that the Old Testament prophets, they were definitive in culture, in life, in our nation…”
It was that power of truth that finally prevailed against the cultural forces of his day. To him, religion wasn’t a barrier to progress — it was a bridge. It didn’t divide and destroy, it served and connected. Fifty-one years later, the reason our society has a hard time addressing moral questions like race is because too many people try to disconnect faith from the conversation. How else can we truly understand and respect the dignity of every person? “Love,” Rev. King said, “is one of the pinnacle parts of the Christian faith. There is another side called justice, and justice is really love in calculation.”
The leaders of the civil rights movement weren’t transformational in spite of their faith — they were transformational because of it. “I say [all of this],” Rev. King insisted, “as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.”
America’s war against religious liberty would have saddened Dr. King. Like us, he knew that without it, he wouldn’t have had the freedom — or the platform — to speak out against segregation. In his day as in ours, there is one path to reconciliation in this country: the church. “There is so much frustration in the world because we have relied on gods rather than God… Christianity affirms that at the heart of reality is a Heart, a loving Father who works through history for the salvation of His children. Man cannot save himself, for man is not the measure of all things and humanity is not God. Bound by the chains of his own sin and finiteness, man needs a Savior.”
Originally published here.
First Freedom and the Second Lady
It’s not a crime to be a Christian, Lauren Appell half-jokes at the Daily Caller — at least not yet. Still, the furor over Karen Pence’s new teaching job shows us one thing: how uninterested the Left is in hiding its fanaticism.
From the Huffington Post to the Washington Post, liberals are beside themselves Christian schools exist — let alone that someone as prominent as the second lady would work in one. “How can this happen in America?” Politico writer Lois Romano wailed on social media. How can Christianity happen in America? It’s what gave us America!
On CNN, the idea that Karen Pence would volunteer at Immanuel Christian was grounds for ending her Secret Service protection. “Does it matter that all taxpayers pay for housing?” John King asked. “All taxpayers pay for her Secret Service protection? It’s not her fault that she needs protection, this is the world we live in. But all taxpayers pay for, subsidize her life,” King said. “Does it matter?” When SiriusXM’s Olivier Knox pushed back, arguing that not a lot of people would “sign up for that,” King insisted it was a fair question.
Singer Lady Gaga was next in line, trashing the Pences as “the worst representation of what it means to be a Christian.”
Apparently, Lady Gaga doesn’t realize being a Christian means you follow Jesus Christ. What is outrageous is the outrage over the fact that Karen Pence is going to teach at a school that believes the Bible it teaches. And the only reason it’s news is because she’s daring to do so as a public figure — and an important one at that.
“What’s next?” David French asks. “The belief that public figures should not teach Sunday School? Serve in domestic or foreign missions?” Once you start down this path, where do you draw the line? Make no mistake: this is the canary in the coal mine when it comes to religious freedom. The far Left wants to push Christian education and Christian institutions into some sort of spiritual ghetto, and then bar those people from the public square. That’s profoundly un-American and an unconstitutional reverse religious test. Yet here is the other side, pushing hashtags like #ExposeChristianSchools. Guess what? There’s nothing to expose that isn’t in the plain text of Scripture.
Private schools are exactly that: private. No one is forcing children to go there. In fact, most families make great sacrifices to afford the kind of education that instills the values America’s public schools will not. There isn’t another version of the First Amendment for people in public office. Karen Pence has just as much right to live and work by her faith as any American. “If Lois Romano [or any other critic] wants to argue against Christian theology, then have at it,” French writes. “Most Christians I know welcome the dialogue. But if they want to condemn a woman for the free exercise of her Christian faith? If they want to argue that there’s something inherently wrong with orthodox Christians’ associating, worshipping together, and teaching their children? Well, then they’re exhibiting a deep intolerance that’s at odds with pluralism itself.”
And maybe in that intolerance they’ve done us a favor. Their true agenda, which they’ve worked for years to disguise, is hidden no more. The façade of subtlety is gone, and Americans are seeing this movement for what it truly is. “Many fellow Christians think they can escape the cultural conflict over LGBT-related issues,” FRC’s Travis Weber writes in a new op-ed about the controversy. “They really don’t think it will come to the door of their home or their church — or their school. Yet it’s coming to our doorsteps, whether we like it or not. If you are a parent who wants to teach and pass your faith on to your children, your ability to do just that will be taken away, unless you stand up for it now.”
Liberals can try to force religion to the fringes of society — or any institution that stands on moral truth — but they won’t succeed. After all, it’s not exactly a new strategy. For 2,000 years, movements have desperately tried to exterminate faith and failed — even with the full power of the state at their disposal. While the effects upon the society that attempts to stamp out Christianity are painful and tragic, the truth is the more faith is persecuted, the more it flourishes. The best way to win this fight is to become the committed Christians the Left is worried we are. There would be no greater irony than for the legacy of these attacks to start the revival our country so desperately needs!
Would you join the 30,000 Americans who have pledged to pray for the Second Lady and other leaders who openly live by their faith in the face of those who seek to marginalize it?
Originally published here.
Border Lines: Senate Steps up Wall Fight
While thousands of federal employees won’t be at work today, Congress will. Instead of taking the normal week-long recess after the MLK holiday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says his members will be back at it. If the House won’t vote on serious proposals to end the shutdown, he says, his chamber will.
After weeks of letting Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) duke it out with President Trump, McConnell is promising to put a bill on the table that includes “priorities from both sides of the aisle.” “I intend to move to this legislation this week. With bipartisan cooperation, the Senate can send a bill to the House quickly so that they can take action as well,” his office said in a statement.
Apart from re-opening the government, the Senate compromise would include the president’s $5 billion for the border wall and a three-year extension on the controversial DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program. “The only way out of this impasse is a bipartisan agreement, and as the Democratic leader and I have both stated here on the floor, only an all-corners, bipartisan agreement will receive a vote here in the Senate,” McConnell told reporters.
Without even seeing the bill, Pelosi is calling the deal a “non-starter.” (Of course, when it comes to legislation, I suppose she’s never been a big fan of “finding out what’s in it.”) Even the Washington Post couldn’t understand that, since the proposal seems to include the same things Democrats asked for. “To refuse even to talk until the government reopens does no favors to sidelined federal workers and contractors… A measure of statesmanship for a member of Congress now is the ability to accept some disappointments, and shrug off the inevitable attacks from purists, if it means rescuing the lives of thousands of deserving people living among us.”
Meanwhile, President Trump fired back at some of his critics on the right, arguing that “No, Amnesty is not a part of my offer. It is a 3 year extension of DACA. Amnesty will be used only on a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else. Likewise there will be no big push to remove the 11,000,000 plus people who are here illegally — but be careful Nancy!”
Vice President Mike Pence also chimed in. “This is not amnesty,” Pence said on Fox News Sunday. “There’s no pathway to citizenship. There’s no permanent status here at all, which is what amnesty contemplates. "President Trump said ‘bring me the ideas from all sides, let’s put them all on the table.’ The president has made it clear what he would support. Now it’s time for the Senate and the House to start voting to secure our border and reopen the government.”
Of course, the real problem isn’t the terms of the deal. The problem is that Nancy Pelosi’s party isn’t interested in solutions. They’d rather drag the debate out — putting people at risk — to score a few cheap political points. “Democrats have to recognize that the Trump Derangement Syndrome that drives much of their base often clouds their political judgment,” John Fund warns. “If they persist in viewing him as a devil they can’t compromise with, they may soon find they’ve compromised their own standing with the American people.”
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.