By Michael F. Haverluck
It was Barack Obama’s recent proclamation of a “Religious Freedom Day” that was the tipping point for Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, causing him to speak out.
He said on top of Obama’s abysmal record protecting religious freedom, he’s now misrepresenting the Constitution’s references to faith.
“President Obama issued a proclamation declaring today ‘Religious Freedom Day,’” Perkins said. “However, the first sentence of his proclamation emphasizes the sacredness of the ‘freedom of worship.’
“I would remind the president that the Constitution does not guarantee us only freedom of worship but also the freedom of religion.”
Perkins explained that freedom of religion is far more.
“The two are very different,” Perkins pointed out. “Freedom of religion goes further by guaranteeing the right to live out one’s faith not only in the privacy of his or her home but in the public square as well.”
He suggest the designation by Obama Jan. 16 was hypocritical.
“While President Obama’s proclamation extols the ‘freedom of worship,’ his administration has the worst record protecting religious liberty in American history,” Perkins said. “Last year, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that, pursuant to Obamacare, employers would be required to provide sterilizations and contraceptives, including some that can cause abortions.”
Christian company owners already are contesting in court government orders to violate their faith by paying for abortifacients demanded under Obamacare.
Perkins insists that the president has shown a flagrant disregard for the sanctity of human life through his policies forcing employers to act contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.
Perkins noted the mandate has led to litigation by the retail chain Hobby Lobby, which is privately owned by a Christian family.
“Their company will soon face Obamacare penalties of approximately $1.3 million per day because of the Obama administration’s mandate restricting the free exercise of their religious beliefs,” he said.
And Obama’s refusal to stand by religious organizations goes across the board, Perkins asserted.
“The Obama administration’s Health and Human Services Department also stopped supporting the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in their efforts to combat human trafficking,” Perkins added. “Previously the USCCB had been the primary recipient of HHS grant funding on the issue of human trafficking, but despite career HHS staff recommendations, the Obama administration’s HHS department cut the USCCB’s funding. The administration did so by changing the requirements of the grant to include language indicating that strong preference would be given to groups that provide abortions.”
Perkins charged that the president, who has already been dubbed the most pro-abortion president in U.S. history, takes a clear stand against biblical principles and for the culture of death.
“The Obama administration put abortion ahead of religious liberty, and trafficked women suffer for it,” he said.
According to Perkins, the president’s blatant disregard for religious liberty doesn’t get any better abroad.
“President Obama’s record of defending religious liberty overseas has been terrible as well,” Perkins said. “When in late 2011 the Egyptian army and government forces killed 28 Coptic Christians who were peacefully protesting in Cairo’s Maspero area, the U.S. reaction was disturbingly muted, and ignored the fact that Coptic Christians had been killed while protesting previous acts of religious intolerance and violence.”
But is the president’s reluctance to stand up for religious freedom primarily focused on Christian faith? Perkins seems to think so, pointing out Obama’s bold stand against discrimination against Muslims.
“The Obama administration’s remarks stand in sharp contrast with their pointed, forceful comments regarding two attacks on a mosque that took place in northern Israel at roughly the same time,” contended Perkins, who questions the president’s policy of appeasement, apologies and support for Islam.
And to Perkins, the Obama administration’s eagerness to back Islamic groups is as evident as his unwillingness to stand against and condemn militant Muslims
“The State Department has refused to declare Boko Haram, the vicious al Qaida-linked jihadist group operating primarily in Nigeria, to be a ‘foreign terrorist organization,’” Perkins continued. “Boko Haram espouses the establishment of a Shariah-based government, and has reportedly killed at least 3,000 Nigerians, mostly Christians, since 2009. Those on both the left and right are incredulous that the administration failed to take this step.”
FRC isn’t the only group to have noticed Obama’s position on religious freedom.
American Center for Law and Justice Executive Director Jordan Sekulow believes Obama has let many down internationally.
“As President Obama proclaimed, ‘Today, we also remember that religious liberty is not just an American right; it is a universal human right to be protected here at home and across the globe,’” Sekulow stated. “However, today, an American pastor, Saeed Abedini, is in prison in Iran facing a trial … solely because of his religious beliefs, his Christian faith.”
Sekulow was disappointed that the president’s rhetoric didn’t match his policies when it comes to protecting the religious liberty of Americans overseas.
“For the most part, [Abedini] has been abandoned by the U.S. government,” the ACLJ director and radio show host contended. “The state department has merely expressed its ‘serious concerns’ about his case, but did not call for his release, and the White House has taken a question about his case with no response.”
Faith leaders also note other assaults by the president on religious liberty.
Early in Obama’s first term, he refused to carry through on his presidential obligation to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act in court challenges. Now, the president is looking to do away with DOMA, which limits marriage to one man and one woman nationally.
Obama also backed the homosexual agenda by getting rid of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” practice for the U.S. military, which normalized homosexual behavior in the ranks and infringed on the religious beliefs of many in the service. Part of that process has impacted the rights of military chaplains, who are being pressured to conduct same-sex weddings in violation of their faith.
Perkins suggested it’s a shameful record.
“We should cast a skeptical eye on President Obama’s professions of support for religious liberty and look to his actions to understand his relative lack of sympathy for the free exercise of religion,” he said.