Posts

Religious Liberty in the Age of Data Surveillance and Soft Totalitarianism

Rod Dreher’s new book, already a bestseller on Amazon, examines the erosion of religious freedom in the West and draws valuable lessons from the faithful who survived under Communist oppression.


Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents
by Rod Dreher, Sentinel, 2020
256pp

Live Not By Lies is Rod Dreher’s widely-anticipated follow-up to The Benedict Option.

Since the publication of The Benedict Option in 2017, the Louisiana-based writer has risen to become one of the world’s most important social and religious commentators.

While his last work focused on the need for believing Christians to build communities of faith to sustain themselves within post-Christian societies, Live Not By Lies develops this theme further by focusing on the widespread persecution which the author believes is looming, and how Christian dissidents can stand firm and resist this.

At 214 pages in length and written in Dreher’s erudite but accessible style, the book is admirably readable and well-structured.

In Part One, the author provides an overview of the “soft totalitarianism” which is increasingly prevalent throughout Western societies, and which is posing a fast-growing threat to Christians of every denomination.

In Part Two, Dreher tells the stories of Christians who suffered within Europe’s Communist Bloc, but who refused to abandon their beliefs in spite of enduring appalling persecution.

Dreher identifies clear parallels between their experiences and the ones which many in the West may soon face.

“What if the answers to life’s questions that young Christians the world over are looking for are not to be found in the West but rather in the East — in the stories and lives of the Christian dissidents?” he writes, adding elsewhere that Christians “cannot hope to resist the coming soft totalitarianism if we do not have our spiritual lives in order.”

The book’s title comes directly from the title of the essay which Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn addressed to the Russian people before he was deported by the Soviet regime in the 1970s.

In it, Solzhenitsyn denounced the lies which underpinned the Communist system and called on his compatriots to resist the temptation to join in supporting them.

Here, in different circumstances and faced with very different opposing forces, Dreher makes a similar appeal to his readers. Those familiar with his writing in his blog at The American Conservative and elsewhere will be familiar with many of the topics he covers and the arguments he makes.

An issue which he addresses frequently is the threat to religious liberty and freedom of speech in the United States and elsewhere.

He does not exaggerate or attempt to equate this with what occurred routinely behind the Iron Curtain.

Western progressives and “woke” activists have yet to establish any gulags. Even in the midst of recent urban riots inspired by far-left militants, political violence is still mercifully rare in the West.

Outright state censorship is less of a problem than the censorship imposed by various institutions, and the cases of religious discrimination which Dreher writes about as a journalist tend to involve people losing their jobs, not losing their lives as the dissidents of Central and Eastern Europe so often did.

Today’s progressives are different to yesterday’s extreme socialists and Communists, and the lack of meaningful debate on economic questions within political discourse today attests to this.

As Dreher notes astutely, progressives are uninterested in controlling the means of economic production; instead, they focus on bringing cultural production under their complete control, and stamping out any resistance to their core, ever-shifting and ever more radical belief system.

But there are similarities, which Dreher describes in detail.

Both Communism and progressivism have set themselves up as rivals to Christianity, and true believers in these modern ideologies can see no other logical end point in human history.

Both belief systems are deeply hostile to the past, and feed upon the suffering brought about by the atomisation of post-Christian societies, where isolated individuals are left with no way of connecting with their fellow man and where many turn to abstract ideologies to find a sense of belonging which previous generations enjoyed in their families and church communities.

Both ideologies are determined to control all aspects of society and to politicise every part of life — witness the growing tendency for political protesting to be an obligatory part of professional sports, or more consequentially, the situation whereby employees in many companies are forced to wear or identify themselves with rainbow paraphernalia.

Modern progressives and old-style Communists are united in sharing a particularly limited view of freedom of religion, which they insist should extend no further than the door of a person’s church (as the history of the 20th century shows, many leftists would not even concede that much).

And most importantly, both groups see Christians as the most important remaining obstacle to their complete domination of whole societies.

In Dreher’s analysis of these secular religions, the influence of the Polish philosopher Ryszard Legutko (author of The Demon in Democracy) is very clear, and indeed, Legutko is mentioned in the acknowledgements.

Where Dreher provides the reader with the most valuable insights is in his description of how modern technology shrinks the zone of privacy which previous generations enjoyed, and his warnings about how this is already enabling growing harassment of the faithful.

China still uses the gulag, but only some individuals and groups such as the Uyghur Muslims are unfortunate enough to end up there. As Dreher notes, in most instances, the Chinese government now prefers to rely on data collection to operate a “social credit system” which rewards compliance and which punishes those like dissenting Christians who resist the government’s diktats.

Outside of China, the proliferation of social media, the concentration of power among the Big Tech firms and the rise of “woke capitalism” — where corporations prove their credentials by taking sides in political questions and occasionally taking punitive measures against Christian or conservative groups — means that people in what we still think of as the “free world” are facing increasing pressure to behave in a certain way and to avoid taking the “wrong side” on any contentious issue.

As technology develops even further and the progressive political culture grows ever stronger, this pressure will only increase, as will the number of instances where Christians find themselves under attack.

“To put it bluntly, we are being conditioned to accept a Westernised version of China’s social credit system, which will enforce the tenets of the political cult of social justice. If this ever takes root here, there will be no place to hide,” Dreher warns.

The latter half of the book focuses on harrowing examples of anti-Christian persecution which occurred in Central and Eastern Europe under Communism, and the heroic examples of those who withstood this.

The sub-title of the book is A Manual for Christian Dissidents, and based on his experience in collecting first-hand accounts from survivors, Dreher gives practical advice for how families and communities can preserve their faith and identity in spite of great obstacles being erected against them.

“We have to tell our stories — in literature, film, theatre and other media — but we must also manifest cultural memory in communal deeds — in mourning and in celebration, in solemn remembrance and festal joy,” he writes.

To enable this to happen, he urges Christians to create the parallel polis which the Czech Catholic Václav Benda advocated when he and his family were engaged in resisting the Communist government of Czechoslovakia.

These alternative social structures — existing entirely outside of the government’s control — allowed the Benda family to retain their faith in a secular society governed by an atheistic regime. It also meant that in one of the world’s most irreligious countries, all of the Benda children and grandchildren continue to practice their faith.

Dreher praises the role of classical Christian education, but recommends much more besides:

“[W]e can celebrate festivals, make pilgrimages, observe holy-day practices, pray litanies, perform concerts, hold dances, learn and teach traditional cooking — any kind of collective deed that connects the community with its shared sacred and secular history in a living way is an act of resistance to an ethos that says the past doesn’t matter.”

This advice about preserving our identity by remembering our history has particular relevance in Ireland, a nation where the idea of “progress” is particularly strong and where the past is much-maligned, along with Christianity and social conservatism.

Though there are few surprises here for someone who has read The Benedict Option and is familiar with Dreher’s overall volume of work, this book would be of value to any social or cultural observer, and to any Christian observing recent developments and pondering what the future holds in store.

As expected given his own religious background, Dreher is strongly ecumenical in his focus in describing how Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant believers stayed true to their faith.

Catholic readers will be particularly appreciative of the author’s decision to dedicate it to the memory of Father Tomislav Kolaković, a Croatian priest who played a key role in preserving the Catholic faith in Slovakia by establishing small cell groups which ensured that the underground church could not be rooted out, even when the clergy had been subdued.

Kolaković’s followers later went on to play a crucial role in the country’s transition to democracy.

They had an option to choose an easy life or a hard one, and the road they walked must have felt incredibly lonely for many years.

In the coming decades, people in the West may be presented with similarly stark choices, in situations where anti-Christian attacks are more prevalent, and where the right to remain silent and uninvolved is gradually whittled away.

History teaches us, however, that there will always be another choice.

As Dreher writes:

“You have to live in a world of lies, but it’s your choice as to whether that world lives in you.”

COLUMN BY

James Bradshaw

James Bradshaw works for an international consulting firm based in Dublin, and has a background in journalism and public policy. Outside of work, he writes for a number of publications, on topics including… 

EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

BLM’s Shroud is Ripped Off — It’s All About Leftist Politics

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) Global Network Foundation becoming a project of the Tides Foundation should dispel any notion that BLM (2.01) is a nonpartisan group dedicated to nonpartisan solutions for racial and policing challenges. According to the Capital Research Center (CRC), this recent move means the control Thousand Currents has over BLM’s chapters will merely be transferred to yet another prominently liberal group. Thousand Currents is a nonprofit that refuses to be transparent about its financial data, and it has close ties to violent activists like Susan Rosenberg. The shift to the Tides Foundation is little better; in 2018, Tides gave $291 million to leftist groups, ranging from George Soros’s Open Society Foundations to the Hewlett Foundation.

The questionable ethics of the backers behind the BLM Global Network Foundation means any donors to BLM are not contributing to a philanthropic cause, but a radical political movement.

Major corporations such as Amazon (1.29), Apple (1.00), and Facebook (1.00) have supported this blatantly left-wing organization by donating to BLM’s allies. If these companies want to maintain their conservative and apolitical customer base, they should refrain from validating the BLM movement and its unquestionably biased funding source.

Big Tech companies have consistently been one of the worst offenders when it comes to advancing liberal messaging by suppressing right-leaning content. While these companies have repeatedly protested against the idea that they’re anti-conservative, they have pledged to donate generous sums to causes connected to the BLM movement. By moving under the Tides Foundation umbrella, the BLM Global Network Foundation is clearly aligning with the political left. It is not a neutral effort to save black lives. Big Tech should question allying with BLM if their goal is to disprove the existence of an anti-conservative agenda.

Whether a corporation donates to BLM directly or to its allies, that company is clearly favoring one side of the political aisle while vilifying the rest. Corporations will need to decide if they serve the public by delivering a product or a service, or if they intend to operate as political actors who censor those who disagree with them.

EDITORS NOTE: This 2nd Vote column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Religious Liberty Coalition Director Reminds Us to ‘Stand Together’ to Protect Religious Rights

Pastor Todd Coconato’s acceptance of the role of Director for the Religious Liberty Coalition (RLC) comes at a time where discrimination against people of faith has intensified. We are proud to be affiliated with the RLC, which works to protect religious freedom at a public policy level and affirms that religious liberty is an “inherent human right.” As government officials and corporations continue to take actions that suppress the rights of pious individuals, a commitment to preserving religious principles has become increasingly more critical.

Lawmakers have been using the coronavirus to restrict the First Amendment right to worship. The state of California has been particularly egregious when it comes to subjecting churches to unfair rulings. The Grace Community Church in Los Angeles cannot hold indoor church services, and the San Francisco County Department of Health will not even allow outdoor worship services if more than 12 people are present.

State and local officials have decided worship attendance is too dangerous, but massive Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests can take place without any excessive restrictions, and bars can have people in them up to 50 percent capacity.

Unfortunately, these attempts to limit religious liberty are not new. Influential corporations like Amazon (1.29) and Apple (1.00) took a clear stance against traditional religious values when they signed an amicus brief that urged the Supreme Court to rule against Jack Philips –  a Christian baker who declined to make a cake for a gay wedding. The backlash Philips faced exposed how corporations often use their platform to enforce a left-wing agenda.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said Christians who disagree with his secular views are pushing “hate,” and they have “no home” on his company’s platform. Ironically, Cook has no problem doing business with the oppressive Iranian regime. Much like the officials limiting church services, behavioral standards are whatever Cook selectively determines them to be, and religious people happen to be an easy target.

We have to stand together to protect our religious liberties. If you or your church are interested in learning more about the Religious Liberty Coalition, please email Todd.Coconato@RLCUS.org

EDITORS NOTE: This 2nd Vote column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

VIDEO: Why I Signed the Religious Liberty Law

In an interview with The Daily Signal, Governor Phil Bryant (R-Miss) explains what his state’s new religious liberty law does and doesn’t do. While many opponents of the law say it will harm Mississippi’s economy, Bryant paints a different picture. He’s lowered taxes a whopping 50 times since taking office and says that, among other pro-growth policies, have made Mississippi a very friendly environment for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

ABOUT GENEVIEVE WOOD

Portrait of Genevieve Wood

Genevieve Wood advances policy priorities of The Heritage Foundation as senior contributor to The Daily Signal. Readers may send an email to Genevieve by clicking here.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Missouri Attempts to Send Religious Liberty Bill Straight to the People

Mississippi Is on the Right Side of History

Big Sports Benches People of Faith

EDITORS NOTE: This video interview with Governor Bryant first appeared on The Daily Signal.

Senator Ted Cruz to attend ‘Rally for Religious Liberty’ on November 14th, 2015

no fear by tony perkinsWASHINGTON, D.C. /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Tomorrow, Family Research Council Action President Tony Perkins will join Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) at the “Rally for Religious Liberty” in Greenville, SC. The rally will call attention to recent government attacks on the religious liberties of Americans.

Perkins, who is also author of the new book No Fear: Real Stories of a Courageous New Generation Standing for Truth, will share the book’s stories of young believers who, despite incredible opposition, courageously stood up for God’s truth. Perkins made the following comments:

“I am honored to join my friend Ted Cruz in defending America’s First Freedom. Last month I was privileged to join Gov. Mike Huckabee in Kentucky for a rally in support of Kim Davis, who had been jailed for exercising her religious freedom. I am grateful for these leaders who are willing to stand boldly not only for Americans’ freedom to believe, but the freedom to live according to those beliefs.

“I will stand with any presidential candidate who will stand for our First Freedom. Never before in the history of this country has religious freedom been more endangered than it is today under the policies of the Obama administration. I look forward to being with Senator Cruz at Bob Jones University,” concluded Perkins.

WHO: Tony Perkins, president, Family Research Council Action
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
Jason and David Benham, entrepreneurs and former Major League baseball players
Steve Deace, talk show host and columnist

WHAT: Rally for Religious Liberty

WHERE: Bob Jones University, 1700 Wade Hampton Blvd in Greenville, South Carolina

WHEN: TOMORROW, November 14, 2015

Doors open at 10:30 AM EST, and the event will take place from noon to 2 PM EST.

Canada: How Multiculturalism Thwarts Religious Freedom [Video]

Ezra Levant is not your typical Canadian. He is outspoken and driven to seek out the truth about dangers to free speech and homeland security in our neighbor to the north. Fortunately for Canadians his truth telling appears nightly on his program, The Source on the Sun News Network. His opinion pieces frequently appear as columns in Sun Media publications. Starting in law school in the Province of Alberta in the 1990’s Levant was involved in the Reform Party and the “unite on the right” that morphed into the Canadian Alliance with the Progressive Conservatives. The Party is now led by incumbent PM Stephen Harper. Levant had filed to run in a West Calgary riding as a Conservative candidate in 2002. He withdrew at the behest of party leaders in favor of Stephen Harper who ultimately became Canada’s Prime Minister in 2006. Levant maintains cordial relations with the Harper family and was a volunteer in the Harper 2008 election.

In February 2006, he had the courage to publish the Mohammed cartoons from the Danish newspaper, the Jyllands-Posten, in The Western Standard. That action, while lauded by many Canadians, became the subject of  complaints brought before the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission (AHRCC) by Syed Soharwardy of theIslamic Supreme Council of Canada (ISCC) and the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities (ECMC). Levant shrewdly requested permission to videotape an interview by an investigator from the AHRCC that he uploaded on YouTube. That may have brought pressure on Soharwardy to withdraw his complaints before both the Commission and the Calgary police. Ultimately, the ECMC compliant, identical to the one filed by Soharwardy and the ISCC, was dismissed by the AHRCC.  Levant’s dramatic and successful defense of free speech coincided with complaints brought before the Canadian Human Rights Commission, British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal and the Ontario Human Rights Commission by the Canadian Islamic Congress against McLeans Magazine and columnist Mark Steyn over an excerpt published from Steyn’s book America Alone. Levant roundly criticized these various human rights bodies in his 2009 book, Shakedown: How our government is undermining democracy in the name of human rights. In 2011, Shakedown won the Writers’ Trust of Canada and Samara Best Political Book of the last 25 Years competition. His 2010 book Ethical Oil: The Case for Canada’s Oil Sands advanced the view that development of the low sulfur Athabascan bitumen deposits would reduce Canada’s dependence on imported oil from countries with notorious human rights records. This development would contribute to competition in the world’s energy markets and would be environmentally sound. It was given the National Business Book Award in Canada in 2011. Following the re-election of President Obama in the US in November 2012, Levant proposed an Eight Point plan to “Innoculate Canada’s  Economy” from economic problems in the US  through  paying off of its external debt, directing energy resources by trading with Asia and adopting positive immigration and economic development policies to foster economic growth.

Levant vigorously opposed the return of Canadian Al Qaeda terrorist, Omar Khadr from U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay in October 2012. Khadr had killed U.S. Amy Special Forces medic Sgt. Christopher Speer in Afghanistan in 2002. Levant criticized PM Harper’s cabinet for consenting to the deal with the Obama Administration – a deal that reduced a 40 year conviction at a 2010 Military Trial in Guantanamo to eight years with seven years of the commuted sentence to be served in a Federal Canadian prison with eligibility for parole in 2013. In his 2011 book, The Enemy Within: Terror, Lies, and the Whitewashing of Omar Khadr, Levant relied heavily on the expert evidence of renowned American forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Michael Welner, presented at the Guantanamo Tribunal. See our June 2012 Iconoclast article on the Sun News The Source presentation of “Welcome Back Khadr?” with Dr. Welner.

Watch this Sun News presentation  by Ezra Levant on the return of Omar Khadr to Canada on October 1, 2012:

Jerry Gordon:  Ezra Levant, thank you for consenting to this interview.

Ezra Levant:  Thank you for inviting me.

Gordon:  What was your background in fostering the merger of the Reform Party with the Progressive Conservative Party an antecedent to the Canadian Alliance?

Levant:  I don’t want to overstate my role in that merger, which was the result of many people working over several years. But it is true that while I was in law school, along with a couple of other conservatives, I helped organize a convention to “unite the right” in Canada — to lay the groundwork for the merger of the two parties. It was attended by dozens of key conservatives, including Stephen Harper, currently the Prime Minister.

Gordon:  You stepped aside in the 2002 contest for the Calgary Southwest riding under pressure from the Canadian Alliance leaders to facilitate the election of Stephen Harper, Canada’s current PM. What relationship did you subsequently have with PM Harper?

Levant:  I have kept in touch with Stephen Harper and Mrs. Harper, and with his staff. I occasionally visit them, and in the 2008 election I was a full-time volunteer in the Conservative Party’s election headquarters.

Gordon:  In the late 1990’s you were an advocate for granting Quebec separatism. Given the renaissance of the Bloc Quebecois do you still hold the same opinion and why?

Levant:  I wrote one column in 1995, slightly tongue in cheek, pointing out how the rest of Canada would benefit from Quebec secession. The Bloc Quebecois is nearly defunct federally. The provincial win by the Parti Quebecois was with the slimmest margin, and it is a minority government. No-one believes they have a mandate for secession.

Gordon:  What prompted your founding of The Western Standard in 2004?

Levant:  The demise of the Alberta Report left a void for a conservative magazine, and I sought to fill it. Given the rise of the Internet, the idea was likely obsolete before it was even started.

Gordon:  In 2006, The Western Standard published the Jyllands Posten Danish newspaper cartoons of Mohammed. What was the reaction in Canada that became the subject of your award winning bookShakedown?

Levant:  Most of our subscribers loved it – we were the only magazine (or newspaper or TV show) in the country to treat our readers as adults – that is, to show them what the fuss was about for them to make up their own minds about it. The general public reaction was similar – people were sick of political correctness. Most journalists were supportive of us, as they had been restricted from doing the same thing. A small minority of journalists opposed what we did, either out of political correctness or out of a sort of jealousy or embarrassment.

Gordon:  How did your actions during the Alberta Human Rights Commission hearings expose the threat to Free Speech by Islamist groups in Canada?

Levant:  By videotaping my interrogation and putting the videos on YouTube, and by blogging about the investigation, I was able to shine a light of public scrutiny on a shadowy kangaroo court that was not well known or understood by the public. I sought to denormalize the human rights commissions, and put it on trial in the court of public opinion.

Gordon:  Were Islamist groups also behind the complaints brought by the Canadian Islamic Congress  before the Canadian Human Rights Commission, British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal and Ontario Human Rights Commission against former Macleans columnist Mark Steyn?

Levant:  The complaints against Mark Steyn were brought by the Canadian Islamic Congress, led at the time by Mohamed Elmasry. Different Islamic groups complained about me.

Gordon:  Did the cost of your defense during the Alberta Human Rights Commission (AHRC) hearings result in a decision to sell the remaining assets of The Western Standard?

Levant:  No. The prosecution did not help The Western Standard financially, but it had been in financial duress even before the AHRC investigation.

Gordon:  When did you begin your new career as a daily commentator for the Sun News and how much editorial freedom do you have?

Levant:  I have written for the Sun newspapers on and off since 1995. I started up again in the summer of 2010 and have had a daily TV show on Sun News Network since April of 2011. I believe I have tremendous freedom, and in fact I call myself the freest journalist in Canada.

Gordon:   In 2008, you testified before the US Congressional Human Rights Coalition about radical Islamist groups’ Lawfare effectively stifling free speech. Do you view UN Human Rights Council Res.16/18 on Combating Religious Intolerance as an attempt to insinuate Shariah blasphemy codes suborning protected speech here and in Canada?

Levant:  I believe that the United Nations is a threat to free speech in the U.S. and Canada, because it is dominated by countries that do not respect freedom of speech as much as we do. However, there are other domestic organizations in the U.S. that are also actively undermining free speech. Campus speech codes are one example.

Gordon:  Four states in the US (Arizona, Louisiana, Tennessee and Kansas) have adopted anti-Sharia statutes. Would the Harper Government in Ottawa consider adopting something similar at the federal level?

Levant:  I can’t speak for them of course. I doubt that a stand-alone bill would be proposed like that, unless there was a specific problem of Sharia law taking root. Right now in Canada, there is a growing problem with so-called “honor killings”, which is receiving increasing media attention. It is more likely that a pressing problem like that would receive some sort of policy attention.

Gordon:  Muslim immigration in Canada has witnessed significant growth under both Liberal and Conservative governments. There is concern in Canada about radical Muslim growth. Do you support a moratorium on immigration from “extremist producing countries”?

Levant:  I think we ought to screen immigrants for Canadian values, including non-violence, equality of men and women, pluralism, etc. There are obviously some truly liberal Muslims who wish to flee authoritarian regimes and to adopt a Canadian lifestyle.

Gordon:  In your book, The Enemy within: Terror Lies, and the Whitewashing of Omar Khadr, you made a compelling case as to why the Canadian –born al Qaeda Terrorist should not have been returned to Canada. What was your position based on and why in your opinion did the Harper Government consent to his return to Canada in October 2012?

Levant:  Omar Khadr is lawfully detained until the war on terror is over. He is analogous to a German soldier captured in 1940: he can be detained until hostilities cease. In addition to that indefinite detention, he was tried and convicted for war crimes including murder, for which a jury gave him 40 years in prison.

The U.S. government pressed Canada to accept a transfer of Khadr after just one year (with paperwork it turned out to be two years). This was clearly against the will of the Conservative government (and of the previous Liberal government) but it was something insisted upon by the Obama Administration.

Gordon:  What dangers could there be in Canada if Khadr is released under existing parole laws?

Levant:  Khadr is an unrepentant terrorist, he is more fundamentalist than ever, and all of his peers — his family in Canada, and his friends and connections from Guantanamo Bay — support terrorism. This makes it quite likely that he will be dangerous. That is also the unrebutted testimony of Dr. Michael Welner, the forensic psychiatrist who testified at Khadr’s sentencing hearing.

I do not know if Khadr will engage in violence again. I think it is likely that he will be an Al Qaida poster boy — fundraising, recruiting, and generally engaging in public relations for Al Qaida, which is more valuable to them.

Gordon:  In the wake of the Obama re-election you have advocated that Canada take advantage of its natural energy resources, international trade and immigration policies. Why do you hold these views?

Levant:  In short, Canada can no longer count on hitching an economic ride with the U.S. If the American economy continues to stagnate, and if President Obama continues to block an important oil pipeline from Canada, than we must take steps in our own economic self-interest. These include increased trade with Asia, including selling our oil there.

Gordon:  Why has the Harper Government been the best friend of Israel in the West?

Levant:  Stephen Harper and his cabinet take a principled view of foreign affairs that supports democracies and liberty and countries that share our western values. That makes supporting Israel a natural fit.

Gordon:  What should Canadians do to preserve Free Speech?

Levant:  Canadians need to adopt an attitude of non-compliance with regards to censorship. At every opportunity, they ought to take steps to incrementally expand the scope of free speech – and to stare down those who would censor them, and who have come to expect obedience and compliance.

Most normal people will not encounter censorship in their lives. But some will – students on campus facing a speech code; some government bureaucracy’s internal “equity committee” telling you what words you can say and what you can’t, etc.

I found, in my fight with the Alberta Human Rights Commission, that censors are typically bullies who are good at attacking, but not good at defending – especially if their censorship is dragged into the spotlight of public scrutiny.Gordon:  Ezra Levant thank you for this timely interview.

Levant:  Thank you for this opportunity.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Did Oregon Gag the Anti-Gay Marriage Bakers? by Walter Olson

Readers who follow the battles over forfeiture law may recall the recent case in which a North Carolina convenience store owner from whom the government had seized $107,000 without any showing of wrongdoing decided to fight the case in the press as well as in court, backed by the Institute for Justice.

Lyndon McLellan’s decision to go public with the dispute drew a menacing letter from a federal prosecutor about the publicity the case had been getting:

“Your client needs to resolve this or litigate it,” Mr. West wrote. “But publicity about it doesn’t help. It just ratchets up feelings in the agency.” He concluded with a settlement offer in which the government would keep half the money.

That case ended happily, but the problem is much broader: many individuals and businesses fear that if they seek out favorable media coverage about their battle with the government, the government will find a way to retaliate, either informally in settlement negotiations or by finding new charges to throw against them.

That such fears might not be without foundation is illustrated by last week’s widely publicized Oregon cake ruling, in which a Gresham, Oregon couple was ordered to pay $135,000 in emotional-distress damages for having refused to bake a cake for a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony.

Aside from the ruling’s other objectionable elements, the state labor commissioner ruled it “unlawful” for the couple to have given national media interviews in which they expressed sentiments like “we can see this becoming an issue and we have to stand firm.”

Taking advantage of an exception in free speech law in which courts have found that the First Amendment does not protect declarations of future intent to engage in unlawful discrimination, the state argued — and its commissioner agreed — that the “stand firm” remark along with several similarly general comments rallying supporters were together “unlawful.”

That ought to bother anyone who cares about free speech. I’ve got a piece up at Ricochet.com, my first there, exploring the question in more detail:

Suppose someone began a sentence with the words “I don’t think I should have to serve [group X] at my shop….”

If they follow with the words “but since it’s the law, I’ll comply,” the sentence as a whole would clearly count as protected speech under current law. If they follow with the words “and I won’t, law or no law,” it loses protection.

But suppose the speaker were to end the sentence at “…my shop.” Up to that point, the speaker has expressed only an essentially political opinion, not a forward-looking intention to defy the law.

Such speech is all the more of core First Amendment interest when it takes place not in a local, commercial context but as part of broader political discussions between citizens as to whether laws are unjust or government too heavy-handed.

Read the rest here.

Walter Olson

Walter Olson is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies.

RELATED ARTICLE: Hypocrisy ALERT: Gay Bakeries Refuse to Make Pro-Christian Cakes [+Videos]

EDITORS NOTE: This piece cross-posted from Cato at Liberty and Overlawyered.

Religious Charities, Gay Marriage, and Adoption: A Case for Pluralism by Walter Olson

At Reason, Scott Shackford has a valuable piece on where libertarians’ interests are likely to coincide with those of organized gay rights advocates and where they are likely to diverge, following the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage.

One flashpoint of controversy is likely to be the role of conservative religious agencies in areas of adoption that are commonly assisted with public funds (as with the adoption of older kids from foster care).

It is now legal all across America for gay people to adopt children, and now with same-sex marriage, they can adopt their partner’s child as well. This fight is largely over, and was actually pretty much won even before gay marriage recognition.

But there is another side, and it ties back into the treatment of religious people. Some adoption agencies are tied to religious groups who do not want to serve same-sex couples or place children in same-sex homes. They are also typically recipients of state funding for placing children, and are therefore subject to state regulation. Should they be required to serve gay couples?

Some states, such as Illinois, attempted to force them. As a result, Catholic Charities, which helped the state find adoptive and foster home services for four decades, stopped providing their services in 2011.

At the time, a gay activist declared this a victory, saying “Finding a loving home for the thousands in the foster/adoption system should be the priority, not trying to exclude people based on religious dogma.”

Some libertarians I admire have taken the view that where any public dollars are involved, private social service agencies must be held to rigorous anti-discrimination standards.

While I respect this view, I don’t share it.

Programs that are explicitly voucherized (such as G.I. Bill college tuition benefits, which can be used for seminary study) often go to institutions that I might find discriminatory, and the same logic can apply even with some less explicitly voucherized benefits.

If a state depot is dispensing gasoline to rescuers’ boats after Katrina, and Catholic Charities’s boats spare the need for government boats to reach some rescue targets, the “subsidy” might in fact save the taxpayers money.

In Olson’s experience, the more agencies out there serving the needs of the children looking for homes, the better. …

Much as with the controversies over bakers and florists, being denied service by one agency does not actually impact a gay couple’s ability to find and adopt children at all.

But eliminating Catholic Charities from the pool reduces the number of people able to help place these children. It’s the children who are punished by the politicization of adoption, not Catholic Charities.

This is especially important when dealing with older children or children with special medical needs. … Allowing both sides (and others as well) to play their role as they see fit benefits all children in the system.

As for the concern that some adoption agencies take taxpayer money and then discriminate, Olson points out that it’s much more expensive to the taxpayers to leave children to be raised by the state, not to mention terribly cruel.

“If you don’t care about the kids or the families, at least care about the taxpayers,” Olson says. But you should probably care about the kids, too.

I’ve written about the same set of issues (in the foster care context) before. The new Reason piece is here.


Walter Olson

Walter Olson is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies.

RELATED ARTICLE: ‘Cake Artist’ Fights in Court to Be Able to Refuse to Make Wedding Cakes for Gay Couples

EDITORS NOTE: This post first appeared at Cato.org.

The Demise of America

It has been several months since I have written any counterterrorism articles. During this period I have been to several mosques and conducted individual research studies. I cannot stress enough that America is in serious trouble.

All across our beautiful country we are surrounded by the enemy which is Islam. Where is Islam practiced by the most faithful of Muslims? In mosques. There are over 2300 strategically placed mosques covering all areas of America.

Unlike many counterterrorism experts, I see the Islamic ideology as a whole as the number one enemy of America. There are no moderate Muslims. One is either a practicing Muslim in it’s entirety and follows Sharia law 100 percent, or the person who calls himself or herself a moderate Muslim who doesn’t believe in all aspects of Sharia law, is an apostate and enemy of Islam. Islam does not allow a person to be a half practicing Muslim,

Based on my years of research inside mosques across America, it is a certainty America will continue to be attacked from within. The only way America can be destroyed is by people and organizations within America who follow the Islamic ideology. There are approximately 2 million practicing Muslims in America. There are approximately 3 million who call themselves moderates. Although these people are not considered Muslim in accordance with Islam, they will make a 180 degree turn when Islam is the dominant factor in America. In other words most people who associate with Islam are cowards when it is just themselves. They become powerful giants when they have a large number of other followers with them. This is similar to gangs in America. Cowards when alone, but almighty when they are with a crowd of their own kind.

So far by my above estimates there are 5 million potential mujahadeen fighters inside our country. These people do not adhere by choice to the U.S. Constitution, they adhere to their own constitution which is Sharia law. The U.S. Constitution and Sharia law are in no form compatible. A person cannot follow Sharia law and have allegiance to America. There are many Muslims who say they are American Muslims, but in reality they are non Americans. A non American who does not believe in and follow the U.S. Constitution are potential enemies of our country.

Not only are there 1 million registered Muslims in America, there are millions of Americans who will stand up for Islam before they will America. Every liberal in America is a likely supporter of Islam. Liberals are cowards by nature and like their coward Muslims. They become strong when they are surrounded by like minded people. Liberals like Muslims will align themselves with the group that is currently most powerful. We have seen this in Iraq. The Muslim people loved Americans when we were the powerful army in their country. Now that our troops have been removed they show their support to ISIS and Al Qaeda. Muslims and liberals will always follow the most powerful group in power.

Although there are millions and millions of potential mujahadeen living and working in America, and their liberal supporters, these people rely on powerful leaders. Their leader in America is President Obama and his liberal puppy followers. Americans should not take this statement lightly. Obama has shown over the past few years that he is more aligned to Sharia law than he is the U.S. Constitution. He would rather work with Iranian and other Muslim countries than he would the leaders of Israel.  Obama majored in U.S. Constitutional law, why?  History has shown for thousands of years that in order to defeat an enemy one must know the enemy as well as they know themselves. Obama understands the working structure of our country and knows how to destroy this beautiful country and it’s people.

I spent the most part of my life working within our government. It was my responsibility as a U.S. Federal Agent working counterterrorism to identify the enemies of America. My analysis was always accepted and applauded by government officials at the highest levels. My predictions about upcoming events pertaining to the security of America occurred many times. Below is my analysis and predictions for America in the next five years.

  1. President Obama will become even more powerful within the next year. He will continue to support our Islamic enemies. He will continue to degrade the power and importance of Israel.
  2. Martial law will occur before Obama leaves office, if he leaves office.
  3. The rights of free speech and the ownership of firearms will become ancient rights of our ancestors and no longer current Americans.
  4. America will begin to suffer major attacks on a daily basis by our Muslim enemies and their supporters.

I do not like wars or revolutions because children are the ones who suffer the most. This being said I predict a civil war/revolution in our country. True and Pure Americans will revolt and fight the enemies destroying our country from within. The American civil war within the 1860’s will be looked at like a minor skirmish compared to the upcoming civil war our country will be involved in.

Who will win the war within America? Sadly it is my prediction the enemies of Islam and their supporters will defeat True and Pure Americans because they will have the support of powerful politicians like Obama who hate America, Americans, and the American way of life our forefathers fought and died for.  True Americans can only win if our military leaders come forward and refuse to follow the orders of Obama.  A few will do this, but not enough.

Independence Day: Why we fight

I have posted the substance of this year after year, and wasn’t even going to bother this year, with so many Americans so eager to throw their freedom away with both hands, but I decided to do so after all when I saw this cynical tweet from Harris Zafar, who has been unmasked more than once as an opponent of the freedom of speech, as well as a deeply dishonest dissembler about the global jihad. I will not stand by silently as the forces of deception and hatred appropriate America’s foundational principles and pretend that those principles are in accord with their sinister agenda. So here again is why we fight:

Another Independence Day is upon us, and it always bears repeating that the struggle for freedom has not changed, and will not change. It is the eternal struggle over whether human beings will live free, or willingly submit to slavery.

I see slaves seeking slavery, and slaves defending slavery, all over the world today. As those who are standing against tyranny are increasingly branded as “enemies of the people,” demonized, and marginalized, the avoidance of slavery will be harder than ever, and not coming solely from jihad. Nonetheless, the enablers of one are the enablers of the other. I see people defending oppressors and carrying water for bullies and tyrants, and thinking all the while that they’re serving the cause of freedom.

In reality, this is what it is all about. You are either fighting for one thing, or the other. It is always useful to check one’s daily efforts against this, for if you’re not working to advance the cause of one side of this comparison, you’re working to advance the other.

1. Governments deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

What we must defend:

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” — Declaration of Independence

What we must defend it against:

Non-Muslims have “absolutely no right to seize the reins of power in any part of God’s earth nor to direct the collective affairs of human beings according to their own misconceived doctrines.” If they do, “the believers would be under an obligation to do their utmost to dislodge them from political power and to make them live in subservience to the Islamic way of life.” — Syed Abul Ala Maududi, founder of the Pakistani political party Jamaat-e-Islami

2. Equality of rights before the law.

What we must defend:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” — Declaration of Independence

What we must defend it against:

“The indemnity for the death or injury of a woman is one-half the indemnity paid for a man. The indemnity paid for a Jew or Christian is one-third the indemnity paid for a Muslim. The indemnity paid for a Zoroastrian is one-fifteenth that of a Muslim.” —‘Umdat al-Salik, o4.9

“Thus if [a] Muslim commits adultery his punishment is 100 lashes, the shaving of his head, and one year of banishment. But if the man is not a Muslim and commits adultery with a Muslim woman his penalty is execution. … Similarly if a Muslim deliberately murders another Muslim he falls under the law of retaliation and must by law be put to death by the next of kin. But if a non-Muslim who dies at the hand of a Muslim has by lifelong habit been a non-Muslim, the penalty of death is not valid. Instead the Muslim murderer must pay a fine and be punished with the lash. … Since Islam regards non-Muslims as on a lower level of belief and conviction, if a Muslim kills a non-Muslim, then his punishment must not be the retaliatory death, since the faith and conviction he possesses is loftier than that of the man slain…Again, the penalties of a non-Muslim guilty of fornication with a Muslim woman are augmented because, in addition to the crime against morality, social duty and religion, he has committed sacrilege, in that he has disgraced a Muslim and thereby cast scorn upon the Muslims in general, and so must be executed. … Islam and its peoples must be above the infidels, and never permit non-Muslims to acquire lordship over them.” — Sultanhussein Tabandeh, A Muslim Commentary on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

3. Freedom of speech

What we must defend:

“Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” — First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

What we must defend it against:

“In confronting the Danish cartoons and the Dutch film ‘Fitna’, we sent a clear message to the West regarding the red lines that should not be crossed. As we speak, the official West and its public opinion are all now well-aware of the sensitivities of these issues. They have also started to look seriously into the question of freedom of expression from the perspective of its inherent responsibility, which should not be overlooked.” — Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary general of the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference

“Pakistan will ask the European Union countries to amend laws regarding freedom of expression in order to prevent offensive incidents such as the printing of blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and the production of an anti-Islam film by a Dutch legislator…” — Daily Times, June 8, 2008

4. Freedom of religion, and non-establishment of religion

What we must defend:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” — First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

What we must defend it against:

“Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.” — CAIR co-founder and longtime board chairman Omar Ahmad (he denies saying it, but the original reporter stands by her story)

“I wouldn’t want to create the impression that I wouldn’t like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future.” — CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper

The Muslim Brotherhood “must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” — Mohamed Akram, “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America,” May 22, 1991

Never surrender. Never submit. Never be silenced. Freedom and independence forever.

RELATED ARTICLES:

July 4th: Muslims Tweet Calls for Bloodshed and Slaughter

July 4 celebrations at U.S. Air Force base canceled fears of a jihad attack

Islamic State video shows mass execution in ruins of Palmyra

Netherlands: Muslims riot, chant against “Jewish murderers”

The Quest for True Equality

During the past two weeks Americans have lost their minds regarding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that was passed and signed into law by Indiana governor, Mike Pence. My readers know I do not support homosexual marriage or the homosexual agenda of being legally protected as a class based on their sexual preferences.

My purpose with this column is to bring some sanity to the debate swirling around the issue of religious freedom. I want to remove all emotion from the debate and discuss the facts.

The bill in question was Indiana Senate Bill 101, titled the “Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.” Pence signed the bill into law and all hell broke loose. Opponents said the bill would allow businesses to discriminate against homosexuals; supporters said it would protect business owners from doing things that would put them at odds with their religious beliefs.

The bill was three pages long and never mentioned the words homosexual or gay; thus the homosexual community went out seeking a problem where none existed.

The homosexual community is masterful at PR. When you don’t have public support for your position, many times a good PR campaign can usually do the trick. As I have written many times in previous columns, Republicans are horrible when it comes to PR and communications, even when they are right on the issue.

Gov. Pence in particular and Republicans in general showed total incompetence in dealing with this issue. They should have anticipated this type of reaction from the radical left. This was so obvious that even Stevie Wonder could have seen this coming.

Nineteen other states have passed similar laws, with several others considering the same. So you mean to tell me that almost half of America believes in discrimination? I don’t think so!

This whole debate has absolutely nothing to do with discrimination and everything to do with forcing Americans to accept the homosexual lifestyle and their intolerant agenda. Homosexuals don’t deserve special treatment because of their sexual preferences; but they do deserve equal treatment because of their humanity.

They would argue how could I, as a Black man who has experienced discrimination, support the discrimination that they suffer because of their sexual preferences? Their plight, according to them, is the Civil Rights of our day. STOP right there!

I find it extremely offensive for homosexuals to attempt to equate the two. Blacks fought for rights that were already enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution granted us citizenship, equality, and the right to vote; the Constitution just wasn’t being enforced. Thus, the need for civil disobedience, political and legal action.

There is no such accommodation for homosexuality, NONE. That’s what this fight is all about. They want to be “legally” codified as a protected class strictly based on their sexual preferences and gender identity.

Now, let’s assume for this discussion that you are a Christian and that you believe homosexuality is a sin, thus is wrong. Homosexuals would argue, and rightfully so, sin is sin. How is homosexuality any different than lying, adultery, murder, cheating, stealing, etc.? Great question. I have an answer that homosexuals don’t want to deal with.

Name me one state in the U.S. where they are trying to legalize lying, adultery, murder, cheating, or stealing? Homosexuality is the only sin that people are trying to codify as legally and morally permissible. Can someone please reconcile this for me?

Homosexuals have been successful at getting many courts to recognize them as a protected class even though there is no legal basis to recognize someone based on their sexual preferences. It takes a lot of legal creativity to create a protected class out of nothing.

I find it quite interesting that, as a heterosexual Black male, that I would not be allowed to join a lesbian group or sit on the board of a homosexual chamber of commerce (yes, they do exist). Is this not also hateful, bigoted, and discriminatory?

Why is it necessary for everyone to know your sexual preferences? If I go to my workplace and tell women that I am heterosexual and like women; I will be rushed down to the HR department and possibly fired. But, if I go to the same workplace and announce that I am homosexual, they close early and the CEO buys a big cake and we celebrate my courage for stating my sexual preference publically (i.e. would be N.F.Ler., Michael Sam)

Courage is stating that you are homosexual in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. Courage is sitting at a Woolworth lunch counter and knowing that you are going to get the hell beat out of you because you are Black.

On a homosexual’s worst day, they have nothing to fear in America; on their worst day, nothing they go through can ever compare to what Blacks went through from slavery until the present. We didn’t get sold into slavery because we were homosexual; homosexuals never get pulled over by police because they are homosexual; homosexuals never get shot by police because they are homosexual; they don’t get denied bank loans because they are homosexual. So please dispense with the odious comparisons.

Blacks never sought special recognition as a class, we simply wanted recognition.

RELATED ARTICLES: 

Jindal defends Indiana Religious objections law

Congressman: ‘Disturbing’ for Military Chaplains to Be Punished Over Views on Sexuality