Costly Free Speech


Looks like the day has finally come.  The U.S. Senate has approved federal “Hate Crimes” legislation and sent it on to the President, who has pledged to sign the bill into law.  There are so many problems with this bill, not the least of which is the cowardly, specious manner in which it was passed as an addendum to the national defense bill.  (What does policing citizen thoughts have to do with financing the military?) 

Nevertheless, the bill is written, and, as this article rightly forecasts, will be used against pastors who preach and teach the truth concerning homosexuality.  There is no need to make a slippery slope argument; the point of hate crimes legislation is clear: silence the free speech rights of those who oppose.  These bills clearly seek to police thoughts of all citizens against a protected political class.  The article points to a case in Canada, but there are other cases, too.  Check out the case of Pastor Ake Green.

Dark Day Unnoticed


On this Columbus Day, an insidious and cowardly contingent in Congress has speciously passed a defense funding bill with an attachment to it concerning “hate speech.”  On numerous blogs prior to this one, I have sought to disclose reasons to be suspicious of hate crimes legislation.  Hate crimes change the nature of criminal activity and, essentially, causes political power–not truth–to become the basis on which morality (and speech) is based.

Now, the House of Representatives have voted to attach hate crimes legislation to a defense spending bill; this is cowardly, insidious, and specious.  Such a fundamental shift in the definition of a crime ought to be debated publicly and openly and reasonably.  The bill will now go to the Senate, then to President Obama’s desk.  There will not be any promised transparency in any of this; there will simply be a quiet acquiescence of liberty.  Particularly, if you hold a position of support for traditional marriage, you may become a criminal for your thoughts.

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission has broken this issue down politically.  I encourage you to visit their page here to see whether your representative voted to support this dubious enterprise in Congress.  You can also click here to contact your senators before they vote.

Crushed Legs, Free Spirit


October 5, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC–To celebrate his heroic dedication and perseverance, former Tiananmen Square student leaders will be joining re-enabled Chinese athlete Fang Zheng in a celebration of his receiving new legs, and to witness this human rights hero’s stand for freedom. The event will be held in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, Room HVC-215, at 4:00 PM, Wednesday, October 7, and will be attended by US Members of Congress as well as other distinguished guests concerned with human rights and freedom in China.

People - Fang Zheng Ready to RacePeople - Fang Zheng with legs crushed by tank  

A star collegiate sprinter, who qualified to compete in the Olympic Games for China, Fang Zheng’s dreams were cut short, when he pushed a fellow Tiananmen student out of the way of an oncoming tank, only to have his legs crushed beneath its treads on that fateful June 4th day in 1989. Undeterred by the loss of his legs, Fang Zheng refused to stop competing, and the former sprinter shifted his focus to other track events. The Chinese government feared Fang Zheng’s status as a national athletic figure would raise awareness of his injuries at the hand of the People’s Liberation Army. The pressured him to publicly state he had suffered the loss of his legs in an accident; when Fang Zheng refused, they denied him his degree from the Beijing College of Physical Science, and forcefully warned him not to speak with foreign media.

People - Fang Zheng with Discus

In 1992, he medalled in both discus and javelin events, breaking Asian records in the All-China Disabled Athletic Games. When he qualified for the Far East and South Pacific Disabled Games, he was again pressured into silence. Fang Zheng agreed to keep the story of his legs quiet in order to compete, but was still banned from the competition. Barred from all future competitions, Fang Zheng looked for alternative work, even working on the streets in Hainan, as he was repeatedly harassed by the China National Security Bureau. He began telling his story to the media, exposing the truth of Tiananmen and his treatment. Security forces frequently cut his communication and power sources, hoping to deter him from speaking out. He was detained for 10 days at a train station in 1999, while traveling to Beijing to look for work, and was denied job opportunities for his lack of credentials and degree.

Miraculously, in 2008, Fang Zheng was granted a visa to the United States. Upon arriving in early 2009, he met with ChinaAid employees, human rights activists Zhou Fengsuo, Chai Ling, and Michael Horowitz, and US Congressmen Pitts and Wolf, as well as many others who were compelled by his story. The Ossur Corporation offered to donate new legs to him, and in the care of Dr. Terrence Sheehan and other specialists at the Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital in Maryland, the sprinter has once again been able to stand on his own two feet.

Click here to see Radio Free Asia’s coverage of Fang Zheng walking with new legs, 10/2/2009.

Fang Zheng’s powerful story has inspired many in China who have been repressed and denied their fundamental freedoms of speech and belief. He has used his story to expose the truth of human rights adversity in China, and is a living testimony that change can happen. Fang Zheng firmly believes that the time is coming when all in China will experience true freedom.

Join Fang Zheng and his friends and family in celebration, as he stands for freedom, and leads his wife in their first dance. http://www.chinaaid.org/downloads/sb_chinaaid/Invite.pdf

Click here to view and print out the formal event invitation.

The event is being co-sponsored by the following organizations:
Humanitarian China
Initiatives for China
ChinaAid
Jenzabar Foundation
China Rights Network
Chinese Alliance for Democracy
Federation for a Democratic China

Photos have been provided for ChinaAid’s use by members of Fushan Christian Church. ChinaAid grants permission to reproduce photos and/or information for non-fundraising purposes, with the provision that www.ChinaAid.org is credited. Please contact: Annee@ChinaAid.org with questions or requests for further information.

ChinaAid
Media Coordinator: Annee Kahler (267) 210-8278 or Annee@ChinaAid.org
Directory of Advocacy (Washington, DC): Jenny McCloy (202) 213-0506 or Jenny@ChinaAid.org
Websites: www.ChinaAid.org and www.MonitorChina.org
Fax: (432) 686-8355

Largest Democracy


Check out this video and pray today:

One Nation Under God (2)


 

Is it true that our greatest danger is keeping God out?  I think it is and will offer some examples in just a moment, but I hesitate in going further at this point under the weight of objection which I sense at the claim that we need God in our national conscience (including our political considerations).  What about the Salem witch trials?  Won’t it mean we will execute people for their beliefs (or unbelief)?  What about the Inquisition?  The Crusades?  It seems there will be no end to the bloodshed once theology enters the discussion, right?

 

Well, what about the Salem witch trials?  The Salem Witch Trials are much more easily tossed out as fodder for feeding anti-Christian animosity than they are understood in their political significance.  Sure, it is not good to burn witches.  On that point, Christians and secularists agree.  Indeed, one will search long and hard attempting to find a Christian who will advocate burning anyone to death for any reason.  Still, the trials did happen, and people did die; it was tragic.

 

The Salem Witch Trials were sparked by Samuel Parris when a group of young girls suffered from unexplained delusions.  The enigmatic expressions gave Mr. Parris an opportunity to exact vengeance on his unsuspecting enemies.  From there, the hysteria grew.  More and more folks besides Mr. Parris began hurling witchcraft accusations against those labeled enemies or those deemed enigmatic.  At the conclusion of the hysteria, 20 people had been hanged: 14 women and 6 men, with some others having died in prison.

 

I neither wish to condone such abhorrent behavior nor defend it.  However, if one is inclined to allude to these trials as an example of why God and faith ought to be kept out of public policy debate, then three further points ought to be considered.  First, Christians are the very ones who appealed for the practices to stop.  Cotton Mather, who himself opposed witchcraft, urged restraint, arguing that it would be much better for 10 accused witches to go free than it would for even one innocent witch to be burned.  Christians held other Christians to account for these wrongs which were committed. 

 

There was a very public call for repentance in Salem; there was a day of public prayer and fasting for forgiveness.  Anne Putnam, one of the original delusional girls, publicly confessed her guilt and sought repentance and restoration, as did Samuel Sewall.  Sewall—as a magistrate—judged the witch trials and was very much broken by a confrontation he had with Matthew 12:7.  He confessed his guilt publicly, repented, and sought forgiveness and reconciliation with the people of Salem.  He would later become the chief justice of Massachusetts.  So, Christians—because they believe very much in a higher order of law than either themselves or the state—recognize that each man individually and all societies corporately have another authority—a higher justice—to which they are bound.  The reality of higher justice serves to offer correction for errors along the way.  Salem corrected herself. 

 

Second, arguments which appeal to the Salem affair must acknowledge that it was not a major event on the scale of even the smaller wars and conflicts we have faced as a nation.  I do not mean here to diminish the value of the two dozen lives lost—not at all—for that would itself be a non-Christian thing to do, since each human life is created in the image of God and, thus, has great value.  What I am saying, however, is that Christians will make mistakes just like non-Christians.  Though Christians have access to the revealed truth from God, they don’t always act rightly upon such revelation.  This is a fair and honest assessment.  The mistake of wrongful execution is serious, but this particular case of it pales in comparison to the wrongful executions committed by non-Christians.  And, this kind of argument is a two-edged sword which would, if followed faithfully, rule science out of political discourse along with religion. 

 

Scientists, like Christians, make mistakes, too.  I don’t mean simply that scientists make mistakes such as the mathematical one which recently shut down the 2 billion dollar CERN collider project.  I mean tragic human mistakes such as the Tuskegee syphilis experiments, which left 400 patients untreated for scientific purposes.  Approximately 140 of these patients died as a direct result of not being treated.  In addition, forty of their wives and 19 of their children were infected, all of which could have been avoided with simple penicillin (which had become available, but the victims were neither told about it nor offered it… for scientific reasons).  Whatever weight one gives to Salem for keeping God out of public policy debate, he has 5 times the weight of evidence to keep science out.  As Christians, however, we do not wish to keep either out, for both are indications not of inherent problems with science or with Christianity, rather, inherent problems with humanity.  We are born under sin, and we will sin.  Thus, we need correctives.  We need higher order authority.  This is true whether we are Christian ministers or lab technicians.  This is why we have checks and balances in our government.

 

Third, as has been hinted at with the above reference to Samuel Sewall, the trials were carried out by civil authorities, not the church.  Obviously, church and state were too intertwined to speak of much of a difference between them, and, being a Baptist, I would agree that such an intertwined affinity is unhelpful both for the church and the state.  However, this conviction does not at all lead to the conclusion that earnest Christians should be barred from public policy.  If the hard line is maintained between the Christian church and the state, then how might a Christian serve at all in public office?  The anti-Christian zealot may quickly reply, “He shouldn’t. If he can’t keep his religious beliefs to himself, then he ought not be allowed to serve in office.” 

 

My reply is simply to ask what kind of a public servant is able to serve while keeping his beliefs to himself.  If one is able to accomplish such a thing, he is a hypocrite.  Would we say that only hypocrites can run for office?  Maybe only hypocrites do run for office.  Sometimes it seems that way, but we know it isn’t true.  And—more importantly—we do not desire for it to be true.  We elect people who we believe will keep their word and deliver on their promises.  The Christian ought not be hypocritical about his Christianity, and he ought to be welcomed in the public policy debate.  If he is not, then the political climate has become the opposite of what Mr. Meacham has argued for—free.  It is not free if a significant proportion of the population is ruled out of bounds simply because they believe just about the same thing most of the history of our nation believes.

Courage Over Cowardice


Out of fear, Communists (and Socialists) must control you.  They cannot allow your freedom to threaten their “good” plans for you.  A very brave Le Thi Cong Nhan risked her life to speak freely of her faith in Christ.  For that courage, she has been put into prison in Communist Vietnam.  She has been in prison for 2 years, with 2 more to go, plus 3 years of supervised probation after that.  Read her story here, and pray for her.

 

Obama Approved Prayers


Some prayers meet with Obama’s approval, and some do not. Dr. Mohler has a post today concerning the recent disclosure that the Obama administration is vetting prayers before allowing them to be offered at public events. As this post points out, prayers in Jesus’ name are too volatile. For the first time in U.S. History, Jesus is going to be unwelcomed at the White House and in its prayers. There are theological concerns related to what this means, and there are also concerns about freedom of speech and freedom of religion.  We were promised change, and it looks like we are getting what we were promised.  Read Dr. Mohler’s excellent blog on prayer.

Significance of Wilders


Yesterday, I posted on the significance of Geert Wilders.  If you haven’t seen that blog, check it out because it links to a prior blog which speaks of how important this case is for all of us who value free speech.  Today, there is another great article concerning this story.  I have it linked here so that you are completely up to date on the significance of wilders.

Geert Wilders Again


I posted a warning on my blog not too long ago, telling you to pay attention to Geert Wilders.  His story is portentous.  It is a warning signal to us all about the direction our “tolerance” is taking us.  Tolerance is taking us to a loss of freedom.  Geert Wilders is no longer allowed in the U.K. because he might offend Muslims.  This article from Belgium includes a copy of the letter that Wilders was issued.  You have to read the letter; it is remarkable, and it attests to the fact that the U.K. has abandoned freedom for appeasing Islam.  The real scary thing for us, however, is the fact that the Obama administration is more liberal on this sort of political correctness than even the Labour party in London.