Beto's New Mission: To Church and Destroy
If getting noticed was Beto O'Rourke’s goal, he succeeded. Getting nominated, on the other hand, remains downright impossible. The Texas politician, who vowed to take Americans’ guns, promised last Thursday to take something else: churches’ tax-exempt status. In what even his own side is calling “the worst idea of the Democratic primary,” O'Rourke stood out all right — for all the wrong reasons.
“Out over his skis,” “desperate,” “foolish” — those are just some of the reactions from liberals on the latest misstep from the 2020 field. The fat lady started singing after CNN’s LGBTQ pander-fest, when O'Rourke fielded a question from moderator Don Lemon. Did he think, Lemon asked, that religious institutions — “like colleges, churches, charities — should they lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage?” The failed Senate candidate didn’t hesitate. “Yes,” O'Rourke shot back. “There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone, or any institution, any organization in America that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us. So as president we’re going to make that a priority and we are going to stop those who are infringing on the rights of our fellow Americans.”
For Beto, whose audition for president couldn’t go much worse, the damage of Thursday night’s statement wasn’t limited to his own campaign. “Democrats are going to regret Beto’s stance on conservative churches,” the Atlantic warned. Over at the Washington Post, Michael Gerson worried his “disdain for religiously conservative Christians and Muslims… would hand Trump reelection.” And that wasn’t the worst of it. Fellow candidates, who almost certainly agree with Beto in private, seem to understand the dangers of admitting it publicly. On weekend talk shows, a slew of campaigns called out the failed Senate candidate, dodging — at least for the moment — the political quicksand.
“That means not only going to war with churches, but also with mosques and a lot of organizations that may not have the same view of various religious principles that I do,” Pete Buttigieg told CNN on Sunday. “I’m not sure he understood the implications of what he was saying.” Warren’s campaign also let the AP know that while the senator stands “shoulder to shoulder with the LGBTQ community,” religious institutions shouldn’t be required to “conduct same-sex marriages in order to maintain their tax-exempt status.”
Of course, deep down, liberals aren’t upset over Beto’s policy. They’re mad he let it slip. After all, O'Rourke isn’t exactly charting new territory. Democrats have been trying to punish Christians into conformity long before Obergefell. Lois Lerner’s stealth attack against conservatives was already well underway at the IRS a full two years earlier. And it was way before that — 2006 — when Chai Feldblum, an eventual Obama appointee, laid out the framework that would become the Left’s gospel: When religious liberty and sexuality conflict, religious liberty should never win.
So when President Obama’s solicitor general told Justice Samuel Alito in 2015 that Christian institutions could lose their tax-exempt status for holding biblical views in a post-Obergefell world, the administration was speaking from experience. “It’s certainly going to be an issue,” Donald Verrilli admitted. “I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is — it is going to be an issue.” And a campaign one at that.
The other candidates will feign shock and dismay at Beto’s suggestion, but President Trump is right. Speaking at VVS on Saturday night, he knows as well as we do, “They are trying hound you from the workplace, expel you from the public square, and weaken the American family, and indoctrinate our children. They resent and disdain faithful Americans who hold fast to our nation’s historic values. And if given the chance, they would use every instrument of government power, including the IRS, to try to shut you down.”
If Beto O'Rourke is guilty of anything, it’s giving voice to a deeply-held view in the Democratic Party — which is that tolerance is a one-way street. And the only way to maintain it is if Christians, conservatives, and orthodox faiths are forced to put their beliefs in park. “The eventual nominee of the party will either repudiate this idea,” Gerson warns, “or grant Trump a stout stick to beat Democrats with.” Either way, the American people are not fooled. The message from the Left is the same as it’s always been: Conform or be punished.
Originally published here.
Sanctions May Dampen Turkish Delight Over Syria
The airstrikes had already begun in the border towns between Syria and Turkey when Bassam Ishak’s cell phone started ringing. “People were so scared,” he told NPR. “They were telling me, ‘They are bombing us right now!’” In the neighborhood of Qamishli, it was already too late. The attacks had already killed Christians on the front lines, the first casualties of the fighting no one wanted.
With tens of thousands of Christians at risk, soldiers with the Kurdish-led Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) were on their knees in church, their last act before joining the others in battle. “Our duty is to protect our land,” they said. Too many of them know where Turkey’s aggression will lead. Entire cities, destroyed. Villages plundered. Women and girls taken hostage. Fathers and husbands missing.
“Just one artillery [battery] can destroy hundreds of houses,” Um Shirvan told al-Monitor. “We don’t want to find ourselves on the streets. We want peace.” That peace has been in short supply since the White House announced that U.S. troops would be leaving the region, leaving one of the few areas of religious tolerance in the Middle East vulnerable to complete extinction.
Monday, after mounting pressure from both sides, President Trump decided to put the squeeze on Turkey, issuing an executive order authorizing sanctions on Turkish officials behind the atrocities in Syria. “I am fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey’s economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path,” the president tweeted. To increase the pain on President Erdogan, the administration doubled steel tariffs on Turkey and put the brakes on a $100 billion trade deal. Today, the White House also plans to dispatch Vice President Mike Pence to Turkey to urge a cease-fire.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who’s been one of the president’s toughest critics on the troop withdrawal, applauded the president for turning up the heat on Erdogan. “This decision by President Trump will be a game changer — in all the wrong ways — for Turkey.” Still, he believes, more can be done. Together with Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), he plans to introduce a bill this week that would turn up the heat even further and “sanction any assets of Turkish leadership” (including President Erdogan’s) and target Turkey’s energy sector and military. Graham caps off the legislation with travel restrictions for the country’s officials and a freeze on any military sales to Turkey.
“I expect strong bipartisan support,” Graham said. “Most Members of Congress believe it would be wrong to abandon the Kurds who have been strong allies against ISIS.” Senior administration officials continue to remind groups like FRC — with serious concerns about the religious minorities in Syria — that the White House is determined to stop Turkey from destroying this fragile haven for diversity. “The president is deeply committed to ending the unnecessary violence and loss of life in the Northeast. He is particularly mindful of the plight of religious minorities and any other humanitarian atrocities that may occur,” one aide explained.
Let’s hope so. In a region of the world where war is all anyone knows, these parts of Syria have been a quiet oasis, a place of co-existence where Kurds, Arabs, Syriacs, Assyrians, Armenians, Turkmen, Circassians, and Chechens can all live together. “It’s crazy,” one priest, Emanuel Youkhana, told reporters. This northeast area was the most peaceful of all of Syria. Now Turkey has come to destabilize all of that.“ If the United States doesn’t intervene, everything this community was teaching the world about civility will be lost.
Originally published here.
Aborted on Our Birth Days: They Say We Don’t Exist
There were a lot of powerful moments at last weekend’s VVS, but one in particular stood out — a panel of courageous abortion survivors, whose stories were so moving that most of the audience couldn’t hold back tears. "We are not a choice,” an emotional Melissa Ohden insisted. From Claire Culwell’s brave testimony of forgiveness to Josiah Presley’s insistence that everyone has a purpose, it was a poignant reminder of what pro-lifers everywhere are fighting for.
Several people told us afterward that it was the best thing we’d done at the Summit in 14 years. We think they might be right.
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.