While major news outlets continue to recycle stories on Stormy Daniels, Michael Cohen and the Mueller probe, it can be difficult to see if anything significant is happening in Washington. However, this administration has prioritized religious liberty, conscience rights, and the importance of the faith community in our country’s policies.
Last week, President Trump signed an executive order establishing the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative. The executive order acknowledges the vital role that faith and community-based organizations play in the transformation and empowerment of our society stating,
“Faith-based and community organizations have tremendous ability to serve individuals, families, and communities through means that are different from those of government and with capacity that often exceeds that of government. These organizations lift people up, keep families strong, and solve problems at the local level.”
The executive order also affirms the role that churches, and other organizations play in the strengthening of marriages and family, religious freedom, education, health and humanitarian services, poverty alleviation, crime prevention and the remediation of addictions. These organizations know the needs of their communities and serve them directly in meaningful and productive ways.
Whether fighting human trafficking, sheltering battered women, providing meals for the homeless, mentoring at-risk school children, or creating sports-teams in urban communities, churches and organizations across this country transform our cities and our nation by walking with individuals and families through difficult seasons of life.
The White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative gives these organizations a level playing field to compete for government grants, contracts, programs and other federally-funded opportunities. In this way, the administration seeks to provide equal access to grants for churches and organizations, rather than discriminating against them because of their religious status.
The executive order also seeks to reduce the burdens (whether legal or regulatory) placed on the exercise of religious convictions. This reduction of burdens stands in accordance with a previous Executive Order 13798 promoting free speech and religious liberty, and the Attorney General’s Memorandum issuing guidance on religious liberty. These actions reflect the administration’s prioritization of religious freedom.
The newly created position, “Advisor to the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative,” will lead the program and consult with community and faith leaders (outside of the government) for advice in areas such as poverty alleviation, substance abuse prevention, education and others. This changes the government from a relatively “closed system,” unwilling to seek advice from faith and community leaders to an “open system” which allows for “we the people” to be heard.
President Trump signed the executive order and announced the establishment of the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative on May 3, the National Day of Prayer. During his comments in the White House Rose Garden, President Trump referenced the executive order and faith initiative stating,
“The faith initiative will help design new policies that recognize the vital role of faith in our families, our communities, and our great country. This office will also help ensure that faith-based organizations have equal access to government funding and the equal right to exercise their deeply held beliefs. We take this step because we know that, in solving the many, many problems and our great challenges, faith is more powerful than government and nothing is more powerful than God.”
In addition to the establishment of the Faith and Opportunity Initiative, the President’s support of faith and religious freedom has been a hallmark of his administration. On May 4, 2017, he signed an executive order supporting both religious liberty and religious speech. This order ensured the First Amendment rights of religious institutions to support political candidates and causes matching their values. This executive order also protected conscience rights of both religious organizations (such as Little Sisters of the Poor) and individual Americans, by ensuring that they would not be forced to comply with the Obamacare contraceptive mandate.
The Department of Justice has also taken a stand for religious liberty and religious freedom. In October 2017, the Department released twenty principles of religious liberty intended to protect religious liberty and guide the Administration’s litigation strategy. Additionally, in January 2018, the Justice Department made a religious liberty update to the U.S. Attorney’s Manual and “directed the designation of a Religious Liberty Point of Contact for all U.S. Attorney’s offices.” In this way, the administration is prioritizing religious liberty in the American legal system, something that has been lacking in recent years.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) formed the new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in January 2018, which focuses on enforcing existing laws to protect conscience rights and religious freedom. This means that nurses and doctors cannot be forced to perform an abortion against their will.
The new White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative acknowledges the vital role that faith and community-based organizations play in our society, gives churches and other organizations equal access federal grants, promotes religious freedom and allows faith and community leaders to have a voice and advocate in the government. In addition to last year’s executive order supporting religious liberty, and the actions of the Justice Department and the establishment of the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within HHS, the Faith and Opportunity Initiative prioritizes faith and religious liberty as a key component of a free people.
Originally published on Patriot Post, May 10, 2018.
Image credit: ungvar/Bigstock
What happens when the government determines a person’s value? Whether China’s One (now two) Child Policy, or Great Britain’s government mandates to remove care from sick babies, the concept remains the same: in their mind, government, not family or God, determines whether a person deserves to live or die.
While some have framed China’s 2016 acquiescence to the “Two-Child Policy” as the end the Chinese government’s strict One-Child policy, forced abortion and sterilization still occur. Reggie Littlejohn, Founder and President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, an organization fighting against forced abortion and gendercide in China, writes,
“…I believe the Chinese Communist Party will never abandon coercive population control, because coercive population control is keeping the regime in power. Although every couple is allowed to have two children, single women are still forcibly aborted [being forced to abort their children], as are third pregnancies. Women of childbearing age still have to go in for mandatory pregnancy checks several times a year. Two Child Policy violators are still forcibly sterilized. All this instills terror. The Chinese Communist Party is a brutal, totalitarian regime, which reigns with terror. The Two Child Policy is social control, masquerading as population control.”
China’s One-Child policy, which the Chinese government enacted in 1980, has yielded disastrous results. This includes “gendercide” — the systemic aborting of girl babies — due to the cultural preference of sons over daughters, as well as a marked increase in female suicides. China now has a huge gender imbalance between boys and girls and has suffered several issues such as stolen children, kidnapped children and sex trafficking as a result.
China initially enacted the One-Child Policy in response to fears of overpopulation and food shortages. However, “overpopulation” tends to be the problem of a closed system, making closed communist countries, which prohibit the freedom of movement, the most susceptible. Yet, in a free society, population increases give rise to the “suburbs” when people move outside of the crowded cities to raise a family. An example of this would be the American “Baby Boom,” following the end of World War II, when many couples moved to the suburbs to have more children. Crowded cities and crowded countries do not tend to be as big of a problem in market economies because people have free movement—they can move if it starts feeling overcrowded. In communist countries, however, the government prohibits movement, unless it gives you permission.
Further, the Population Research Institute notes that overpopulation is not equivalent to overcrowding. City planners, not population controllers (in the form of abortion and euthanasia), ought to solve the overcrowding problem.
In addition, populations worldwide have actually declined below replacement rate. According to a 2017 U.N. study, almost half of the world’s population live in countries below replacement rate (2.1 children).
In a market economy, people are assets. More people means more creativity, and a greater increase in innovation, technology, and research. By contrast, in socialist and communist countries, people are the problem. Why? Because the government has to take care of them. And if the government is deciding how many people are on the public dole, they will always choose less.
While China’s forced abortion seems like a barbaric action of a far-away country, the premise upon which it rests has seeped into socialist countries, such as the U.K. While the U.K. is not demanding the abortion of children based upon a quantifiable, mandated number, their actions are the same: Denying the dignity of the human person and denying the rights of parents to determine the best situation for their children.
The story of Alfie Evans, who died on April 28, illustrates the heartbreaking consequences of socialized “medicine.” The 23-month-old, diagnosed with a rare neurodegenerative condition, had been on life support for almost a year. While his parents wanted to take him to Italy for treatment, the doctors and judges ruled that this would not be in the child’s “best interest.” But shouldn’t the parents decide what was in the child’s best interest? Instead, the judges ordered the hospital to take him off of life support, which resulted in his death.
Sadly, Alfie’s story of the government determining the value of a person’s life, is not unique. Last summer, U.K. doctors denied treatment for Charlie Gard, a baby with a similar, “incurable” illness, despite the public outcry against this injustice and his parent’s wishes to seek treatment abroad.
Socialism and communism deny human dignity trading it instead for the value of a person’s “work.” The government elite establishes the standard of value and worth, not the parents or loved ones or even God. If a child or disabled person cannot “contribute” to the society (whatever the government determines that to be), he or she does not “deserve” to live.
But who really assigns value and dignity? Who really decides whether a person should live or die?
People are not machines to be discarded when they cease to function properly. Yet, by stripping the human person of value, worth and dignity, socialism and communism views people as machines to serve the state.
Communism and socialism’s social re-engineering seeks to create a world without faith, a world without family and a world without love. A world which transforms humans into machines whose sole purpose lies in obeying the government without question. Whether this means forced abortion in China or forcing parents to remove medical care for their sick children, the human rights abuses stay the same. Government coercion, whether socialist or communist, promises “protection” but only delivers slavery, abuse and exploitation.
Originally published on Patriot Post, May 3, 2018.
Image credit: macsuga/Bigstock