In fact, I watched some episodes last night: good stuff, and I’d swear I could recognize some of my own family in there. As for the controversy over Phil’s comments, A&E thoroughly beclowned themselves over this. Phil did not call for gays to be persecuted in any way: he merely stated his belief in the Biblical view that homosexuality is a sin and paraphrased a verse from Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians to illustrate it. He did not compare homosexuality to bestiality: he was listing a category of sins. I don’t agree with Phil or St. Paul on this, but it’s Phil’s right to hold that opinion and express it, especially when it was in answer to a question. A&E cravenly caved in to a liberal fascist pressure group, GLAAD, and fired someone for the crime of “wrong thinking.” (Mao would approve.) As I said last night on Twitter, “@AETV’s fundamental mistake: assuming the audience was laughing at Phil and his family, rather than identifying with them. #LiberalBigotry.” I think they’ll get a hard lesson in that when the huge audience that follows Duck Dynasty walks away.
There’s been a lot of talk since the weekend about the deal brokered between Iran on the one hand, and the US and its European partners on the other, that supposedly somehow represented a breakthrough in the quest to prevent the Iranian mullahs from getting their hands on nuclear weapons. Discussions have centered around diplomacy and grand strategy, and the motives of the Iranian and US governments. Matter of “high politics,” as they might have said in the 19th century.
But the agreement touches people on a very personal level, too. Left unmentioned in any of the negotiations are Americans trapped in Iranian prisons, men such as Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American pastor from Idaho who was accused of the horrid crime (in Iran, under Islam) of preaching the Gospel and helping to establish home churches (1). Abedini was yanked off a bus, his passport taken from him, and he was consigned to Iran’s notorious Evin prison.
And, in the negotiations leading to this wonderful deal, the US never mentioned him once:
Two words are nowhere to be found in the pages of text that spell out a new interim nuclear deal with Iran: Saeed Abedini.
Now some supporters of the American pastor, who’s been detained in Iran for more than a year, are accusing U.S. officials of betraying Abedini by signing off on an agreement that doesn’t get him out of prison.
“We were across the table from the Iranians, and we did not bring home Americans. To me that’s a tragedy and that’s outrageous,” said Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, which represents Abedini’s family in the United States.
While analysts debated the nuclear agreement’s pros and cons, Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, said she was trying to comfort her two young children.
“It’s very painful,” she told CNN’s “The Lead” on Monday. “My kids were crying this morning, saying, ‘God, don’t let Daddy die. Bring him home.’ “
One would think an American government, leading a nation founded on principles of freedom of speech and freedom of religion, would have raised a stink about Abedini at these negotiations, something along the lines of “You want sanctions lifted and your sequestered cash released? Give us Abedini and we’ll talk.” (2)
But then one would remember Barack Obama is in charge. Defending Americans in danger abroad is a bit alien to him, as we learned in Libya.
Via Bryan Preston, who connects Abedini’s abandonment to his Christianity and draws a parallel to the Obama administrations attacks on religious liberty here. I disagree with Bryan on this: nations have often sacrificed individuals for “reasons of state” when a higher goal was at stake. In the Obama administration’s case, the nuclear deal with Iran was paramount, and if the government was willing to blindside Jewish Israel and Muslim Saudi Arabia with this, they weren’t going to let the fate of Saeed Abedini (or Robert Levinson) stand in the way. It’s shameful and cynical, to be sure, but not religiously motivated.
RELATED: There are several good articles explaining why this deal stinks. At The Weekly Standard, John Bolton calls this “abject surrender.” Writing at PJM, Michael Ledeen points out, among other excellent observations, that the Iranian treasury was almost empty, but we’ve now agreed to give them billions. Genius. Eli Lake at The Daily Beast quotes an expert who says this comes close to a “nuclear 1914 scenario.” How fitting, with the hundredth anniversary of World War I approaching. James Carafano calls this a deal based on a dangerous fantasy — Munich II. My own observation is this: Regardless of the restrictions placed on the Iranian public nuclear program by this deal, if you think there isn’t a secret program run in parallel by the military that is still going full-speed, you’re high.
This deal makes war more likely, not less.
(1) Abedini’s offense was compounded by being himself a convert to Christianity from Islam. Under Islamic law, that is the crime of apostasy and is punishable by death. I suppose the Iranians thought they were being merciful for just sticking him in jail for eight years.
(2) Not that I’m a religious person, but I believe very strongly in the natural right of all humans to freedom of speech and religion, and, within very broad bounds, government should stay the heck out. No law is legitimate that oppresses those rights, and an American government that won’t stand up for its citizens’ rights in the face of a tyranny that tramples both is craven.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)
That new government we helped to power is sure turning out fine, isn’t it? I mean, under Islamic Law, they could have been sentenced to death. Instead, for merely exercising the right of conscience inherent in all persons, a mother and her sons get “only” fifteen years in prison:
The criminal court of Beni Suef (115 km south of Cairo) has sentenced an entire family to prison for converting to Christianity. Nadia Mohamed Ali and her children Mohab, Maged, Sherif, Amira, Amir, and Nancy Ahmed Mohamed abdel-Wahab will spend 15 years in prison. Seven other people involved in the case were sentenced to five years in prison.
An individuals religious faith is listed in Egyptian identity cards. Christians, converted to Islam for various reasons that attempt to return to the religion to which they belong have enormous difficulty in correcting their names on the documents. This leads many people to forge them, risking prison. The reverse process, ie the transition from Christianity to Islam is not hindered, and in many cases is favored by the very Registry officials.
The woman had converted to Islam from Christianity on marrying her husband, but, after he died, she wanted to convert back. And she tried to convince her sons to join her. Under Islam, this is a huge sin.
I’m sure the Obama administration will be right on this, reminding the Egyptians that we did not facilitate their revolution so religious minorities could be persecuted. And they’ll listen and shape up, because the Hundred Acre Wood foreign policy is working out so well, isn’t it?
via Jihad Watch
RELATED: It’s the foreign policy, stupid!
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)
Via Raymond Ibrahim:
According to today’s issue of El Fegr, “Elements of terrorist, jihadi organizations distributed leaflets today inciting for the killing of Copts in Suez, Ismailia, and Upper Egypt, promising them [Copts] a tragic end if they do not return to the truth.”
An image of a copy of the letter appears on El Fegr’s website. Titled “An Urgent and Important Notice,” it begins by calling on “all brothers and sisters” to “kill or physically attack the enemies of the religion of Allah—the Christians in all of Egypt’s provinces, the slaves of the Cross, Allah’s curse upon them…” It proceeds to promise a monetary reward for whoever helps “achieve Allah’s rights against his enemies.”
This genocide has been called until Egypt’s Christians “return to the truth,” a reference apparently meaning that Egypt’s Christians must either embrace “the truth”—that is, Islam, which they must convert to—or else return to the truths of the religion, which holds that Christians must embrace their subhuman dhimmi status (Koran 9:29).
The ongoing persecution of religious minorities in the Muslim world is something rarely reported in our mainstream media, which instead hangs on every word about “Islamophobia” uttered by CAIR and its allies. But, unlike those claims, the persecution of Christians, Zoroastrians, Baha’is, Jews, and Buddhists in areas where Islam dominates or seeks domination is all too real — and often fatal.
One of the founding, core ideals of the United States is freedom of religion, the right to practice one’s faith -or no faith at all- without fear of punishment. We consider it a universal, unalienable right, pre-existing any government, endowed in all by Nature and Nature’s God.
It would be nice if the current administration could be bothered to speak out for that right, on behalf of those suffering genuine oppression.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)
A little while back, I featured Justice Ginsburg opining that the US Constitution really wasn’t a suitable model for the modern age.
Now we have a Washington Post editor wondering if, perhaps, the first Congress got it wrong when it guaranteed the free exercise of religion in the First Amendment:
That‘s what Washington Post editor Melinda Henneberger told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews last night while defending Catholics. Here’s the full quote:
“Maybe the Founders were wrong to guarantee free exercise of religion in the First Amendment but that is what they did and I don’t think we have to choose here.”
And maybe they made a mistake guaranteeing free speech, too; otherwise we’d be able to punish dolts like Henneberger for saying such stupid things. And that whole trial by jury thing; it just gets in the way of government enforcing the law to protect us.
Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy spots several problems with Henneberger’s proposition, the foremost being the centrality of freedom of religious expression to the Colonial experience and the foundation of the United States, itself:
First, there is the sheer unreality of it. As someone of Ms. Henneberger’s sophistication must know, the Founders cannot have been wrong to guarantee free exercise of religion. Had they failed to do so, there would have been no nation to found. Free exercise was a deal-breaker for Americans, and the adoption of the Bill of Rights (in which free-exercise was among the core of individual liberties that had to be specified) was a deal breaker for skeptics in several states who believed the Constitution transferred too much power to the federal government.
In other words, the new HHS rule regarding insurance coverage for contraception and abortifacients at religious institutions is exactly and precisely the kind of tyrannical and oppressive act regarding the free exercise of religion those who argued for a Bill of Rights had in mind, even if it’s presented as a “public good.”
They weren’t wrong, Melinda, they were prescient.
RELATED: Getting back to Justice Ginsburg and the outdated Constitution, historian Steven Hayward figured out why she seemed so enamored of the South African constitution:
The South African constitution is equally watery. Yes, it does include an independent judiciary and a long list of positive rights. Then there’s this:
“When interpreting the Bill of Rights, a court, tribunal or forum must promote the values that underlie an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom; must consider international law; and may consider foreign law.”
No wonder Ginsburg likes it so much: it more or less gives judges a blank check to look anywhere they want to reach any result they want.
So much more fun that sticking by our stodgy old rules, no?
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)