Tony Perkins / Mar. 9, 2019

Brownback Asks for Freedom Made in China

Friday in Hong Kong, Ambassador Sam Brownback made it clear that America will not stand by and let this country continue to torture its own people.

Her story is like so many others — except that Mihrigul Tursun lived to tell about it. “I begged them to kill me,” she said through a translator. “I would rather die than go through this torture.” Fortunately for the world, the Uyghur mom made it out of the internment camp, one of the hundreds of barb-wired compounds that Chinese officials insist does not exist — even though satellite imagery and testimonies like hers prove otherwise.

As many as two million Uyghurs are being abused in facilities like Mihrigul’s, nightmarish places where men and women are forced to live in cramped and suffocating prison cells, “sleep[ing] in turns, [using] the toilet in front of security cameras, and sing[ing] songs praising China’s Community Party.” Speaking to reporters in the U.S., Turson told horror story after horror story, like being forced to take unknown medication that made them sick, watching her sons be operated on without her consent, and seeing nine women in her cell die.

On a day she will never forget, she was led into a room and placed in a high chair, and her legs and arms were locked in place. “The authorities put a helmet-like thing on my head, and each time I was electrocuted, my whole body would shake violently, and I would feel the pain in my veins.” After a pause, Turson said she didn’t remember what happened next. “White foam came out of my mouth, and I began to lose consciousness,” she recalled. “The last word I heard them saying is that you being an Uyghur is a crime.”

At least 26 countries have called on China to stop these “mass human rights abuses” — including the United States, whose president, vice president, and State Department have worked around-the-clock to help the millions of hurting Chinese. Friday in Hong Kong, Ambassador Sam Brownback made it clear that America will not stand by and let this country continue to torture its own people. This is a “war with faith,” Brownback told a roomful of correspondents. And “it is a war they will not win.”

“The Trump administration is deeply concerned,” he warned, “and considers this oppression a deliberate attempt by Beijing to redefine and control members of these Muslim minority groups’ identity, culture and faith… The Chinese Communist Party must hear the cries of its own people for religious freedom and act to correct its wrongs.” Hong Kong, he pointed out, could help lead that effort, with its model of religious diversity left behind from the British rule. If they did, he said, “The gates of religious freedom will fly open in China and the iron curtain of religious persecution will come down.”

Interestingly enough, while China is busy trying to “reeducate” its people, new research shows just how futile that goal may be. In a study just published by Nature Human Behavior, Joseph Henrich says that the more traumatic experiences religious people undergo, the more likely they are to cling to their faith. Although he focused specifically on war-ravaged areas, his 1,700 interviews with people scattered throughout Sierra Leone, Tajikistan, and Uganda show that religious devotion only deepens with conflict.

“Among those who were most exposed to war, membership in religious groups increased by 12, 14, and 41 percentage points, respectively. In addition, the researchers found that those who experienced the trauma of war were likelier to attend religious services and were likelier to rank religion as being significant in their lives than those who were not. And in some cases, those effects were surprisingly long-lived.” In places like Tajikistan, that devotion only gets deeper over time. “Even 13 years post-conflict, and there’s no sense in which it declines.”

That may help explain why the crackdown on religion in places like China is actually leading to an explosion of faith. When people are living day to day caring only about the necessities of life, they’re brought back to what’s truly important. Persecuted Christians are connecting more deeply with Christ, because they aren’t distracted by the luxuries of this world. As one Chinese advocate put it, “These social changes have created desire for religion among an increasing number of people, and Christian theology and community respond to the need very well.”

Here in America, where we’re blessed beyond belief, our leaders are traipsing around debating ridiculous things like open bathroom policies and children selecting their own gender because we’re safe and prosperous. We aren’t forced to think about finding food or taking our worship underground. Very few of us are learning the kind of joy that millions of our brothers and sisters around the world have found in very difficult and dangerous circumstances. So many Americans are blessed to know Jesus without the deep pain of physical suffering. As grateful as we are for that, I pray that we never become too comfortable as a church. Because it’s the deep dependence on God that produces the character we need for the fight ahead.

Originally published here.

Minnesota Pastor: Mall Shook up

For Christian Pastor Ramin Parsa, a trip to the Mall of America ended up being a lot more than he bargained for. When two Muslim women asked him to answer some questions about his faith, the conversation seemed harmless. That all changed when mall security arrived, convinced the police to book him for trespassing, and locked him up.

Now, after seven months of fighting the charges, Parsa had good news. “Praise the Lord! The prosecution is suspended, no more criminal charges, pleaded not guilty! Thank you so much for your prayers. We have resolved the criminal case and the city is not going to prosecute me further, so the city is out of it. The mall’s conduct still needs to be addressed. There are many options available that we are considering. Stay tuned! And please continue praying for more victories ahead!”

With the help of his attorneys, Parsa is considering his legal options, especially since there was no basis for putting him in “mall jail” for hours on end — without food, water, or access to a restroom. Intolerant people, he believes, have to be held accountable. Especially, he told PJ Media’s Tyler O'Neil, here — in America — where our liberties are our most sacred possessions. “When I became a Christian,” he explained, “‘I was stabbed [and] ran away from Iran. I went to Turkey for two years as a refugee. We had a church and we were passing out Bibles. I was arrested [there].’ When at last he came to America, he was relieved. ‘With tears in my eyes, I was so thankful to be in America, where I can express myself, nobody can stop me or oppress me for my faith… and then this happened to me.’”

There comes a time, and Pastor Parsa agrees, when fighting injustice like this isn’t just about standing up for yourself. It’s about defending the rights that affect other people. “If we don’t wake up, our cities, states, country will be lost,” he warned. Talking to two shoppers about Christ isn’t a crime, no matter how offended someone else may be by his religious expression. This pastor and Christians like him have a responsibility to share the gospel, especially when they’re asked to explain the faith they have. “As Christians, we must lay aside lukewarmness, and foolish arguments and shake the dust of religion and legalism and get on fire for Jesus and share the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ with boldness.”

That’s what he did — and he’s determined to pave the way for everyone else in Minnesota to do the same. If Christians don’t make it clear that we won’t tolerate this kind of discrimination, what will stop these activists from coming after other people of faith? We have to use the law as a deterrent for this kind of religious hostility — especially since it’s on our side!

Originally published here.

Dems at the End of Their Trope

They’ve been one of the Democrats’ most reliable constituencies, but there are probably a lot of Jewish Americans who went to bed Thursday night with some deep misgivings about the party they call home. For years, the only way this community has survived the Left’s growing anti-Semitism was to ignore it. But after the betrayal of this past week, it’s clear to everyone: that’s no longer an option.

Americans have seen some incredible things out of this new House majority — but Thursday’s resolution beat all. A party that’s tried to make tolerance its calling card couldn’t bring itself to deal with the blatant prejudice in its own ranks. As a result, what was supposed to be a resolution against anti-Semitism became just another example of the Democrats’ incredible hypocrisy. The party’s extremists made sure of that, watering down the language to be just another one-size-fits-all anti-hatred statement. “What makes this so dangerous,” Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) warned on the House floor, “and the reason I will vote against this resolution, is because we came here because of an anti-Semitic remark, and we came here to condemn anti-Semitism, but this resolution… now condemns just about everything.”

Except, of course, the offending party — Muslim Rep. Ilham Omar (D-Minn.), who emerged from the controversy — not chastened, but emboldened. Far-Left PACs are already using her prejudice as an actual fundraiser, insisting Omar’s Jewish hostilities makes her a “progressive rock star.” That ought to tell you everything you need to know about the House majority. After years of sitting on their political high horses on issues like racism and bigotry, the party of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) proved it doesn’t traffic in anything but.

The reaction from Jewish Democrats (and there are 34 in this Congress) has been scathing. Even the media, who’s spent decades running interference for the Left, is drawing the line at this. Outlets like the CNN, Washington Post, and Politico can’t believe the party is legitimizing hate. “It says something about the progressive movement today that it has no trouble denouncing Republican racism, real and alleged, every day of the week but has so much trouble calling out a naked anti-Semite in its own ranks. This is how progressivism becomes Corbynism… It’s how self-declared anti-fascists develop their own forms of fascism. Why are they afraid of open debate? And what about all the bigotry on their side?” That’s not from the Federalist — it’s from the New York Times!

The Democrats aren’t just dividing their party, they’re dividing their allies. In a scandal where everyone from Meghan McCain to Chelsea Clinton is aligned, this is no ordinary bump in the political road. This could be a major detour, rerouting the party to an unknown destination. “The rift emerging around Ms. Omar is easily the most serious since Democrats swept to House control in November,” the New York Times warns. And the woman in question is only making matters worse. Yesterday, she actually accused her critics — which include a good number of the 34 Jewish members of Congress — of “faux outrage.”

Those aren’t the comments of a penitent woman. And if I’m a Nancy Pelosi, I have a sickening feeling that this isn’t the last time her anti-Semitism rears its ugly head. The speaker can play off the deep rift of her party all she wants, but this is no ordinary family squabble. This strikes at the core of the Democrats’ very viability. “If you say the bacon is not crispy enough,” Pelosi quipped about the press, “they’ll have an article about this unrest and unease in the Democratic Party.”

Meanwhile, she has hard-core liberal leaders — including party bosses, committee chairmen, and DNC strategists — demanding to know about a lot more than breakfast. “Why are we unable to singularly condemn anti-Semitism?” Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) asked. “Why can’t we call it anti-Semitism and show we’ve learned the lessons of history?” The simple answer? House leaders are scared of the Green Deal-infanticide-open borders-socialists trying to take full control of the party. They’ll sweep anything under the rug to avoid a challenge from the radical wing the caucus.

Her problem is: most everyday Americans will not. In a country where some Democrats are already asking, “How far is too far Left?” the consequences of this kind of scandal are astronomic. As Pennsylvanians have been warning Washington, “Mr. Trump is in the White House in large part because of the crumbling in 2016 of three so-called blue-wall states, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, which had not voted for a Republican presidential candidate in more than two decades. ‘Someone’s got to take the Democrats into the real world,’” said one Democrat who voted for Trump. But in a world where the party’s “Big Tent” is now a Mini-Cooper, there seems little hope of that. If Pelosi wants to win the battle for the soul of the Democratic party, she first has to prove it has a soul left.

Originally published here.

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

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