The U.N. Meddling with Religion, Part 4
Obama/Hillary and Freedom of Religion vs. Freedom of Worship
If you’re not familiar with this topic, please first watch this youtube video from Chuck Colson for a good introduction to Hillary’s part in all of this.
and here’s an intro to Obama’s part:
Some advocates for international religious freedom are monitoring what they fear is a change in the language being used by Obama administration officials – that the broad emphasis on spreading “freedom of religion” that the president used when he spoke in Cairo last June is being subtly replaced by the more limited concept of “freedom of worship.”
This issue has been around for most of this year, but I have yet to find any article or posting which documents every instance of the phrase “Freedom of Religion” and “Freedom of Worship” from Obama and/or Hillary. So I went through every Obama transcript from the “Speeches and Remarks” section at whitehouse.gov (starting with his Inaugural Address) and used the search function on each transcript to find any instances of “worsh”, “relig”, and “free”. As far as Hillary’s transcripts go, I used the search function on her entire group of transcripts at once and went through every use of “worship” and “religion” that turned up. I also searched for the word “religious” but I gave up once I realized that I’d have to go through almost 4,000 transcripts.
I’ve only used Obama’s transcripts for this post, but I’ll also leave all of the Hillary examples that I found at the very end… as well as some Obama transcripts that I wasn’t sure if I should include.
Here are the clear instances of Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Worship that I found, but first: a quick handy summary:
April 6, 2009: religion: in Turkey with President Gul
April 6, 2009: religion: in Turkey with Turkish Parliament
April 16, 2009: religion: in Mexico with President Calderon
April 19, 2009: religion: at the Port of Spain, Trinidad, Tobago
May 21, 2009: religion: Biden’s remarks to the Assembly of Kosovo
June 4, 2009: religion: in Cairo, Egypt
June 6, 2009: religion: in France speaking along with Sarkozy about Cairo and Muslims
June 19, 2009: religion: Esperanza National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast
July 11, 2009: worship: Ghana
July 27, 2009: worship: at the US/China Strategic and Economic Dialogue
August 21, 2009: religion: Ramadan message
September 1, 2009: religion: Iftar Dinner
September 23, 2009: worship: United Nations General Assembly
November 10, 2009: worship: Memorial Service at Fort Hood, Texas
November 14, 2009: worship: Tokyo, Japan
November 16, 2009: worship: Shanghai, China
December 10, 2009: worship: Oslo, Norway for Peace Prize Acceptance
May 1, 2010: worship: University of Michigan Spring Commencement
July 1, 2010: worship: Comprehensive Immigration Reform speech
July 14, 2010: religion: interview by South African Broadcasting Corporation about Somalia’s terrorist group Al Shabaab
August 13, 2010: 7 uses of religion, 1 of worship: Iftar Dinner
September 11, 2010: worship: 9/11 Memorial at Pentagon
from a transcript of Obama’s remarks at the Pentagon Memorial (September 11, 2010):
They may seek to spark conflict between different faiths, but as Americans we are not — and never will be — at war with Islam. It was not a religion that attacked us that September day — it was al Qaeda, a sorry band of men which perverts religion. And just as we condemn intolerance and extremism abroad, so will we stay true to our traditions here at home as a diverse and tolerant nation. We champion the rights of every American, including the right to worship as one chooses — as service members and civilians from many faiths do just steps from here, at the very spot where the terrorists struck this building.
from a transcript of Remarks by the President at the White House Iftar Dinner (August 13, 2010):
These events are also an affirmation of who we are as Americans. Our Founders understood that the best way to honor the place of faith in the lives of our people was to protect their freedom to practice religion. In the Virginia Act of Establishing Religion Freedom, Thomas Jefferson wrote that “all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion.” The First Amendment of our Constitution established the freedom of religion as the law of the land. And that right has been upheld ever since.
Indeed, over the course of our history, religion has flourished within our borders precisely because Americans have had the right to worship as they choose -– including the right to believe in no religion at all. And it is a testament to the wisdom of our Founders that America remains deeply religious -– a nation where the ability of peoples of different faiths to coexist peacefully and with mutual respect for one another stands in stark contrast to the religious conflict that persists elsewhere around the globe. […]
But let me be clear. As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the sameright to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. (Applause.) And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are. The writ of the Founders must endure.
We must never forget those who we lost so tragically on 9/11, and we must always honor those who led the response to that attack -– from the firefighters who charged up smoke-filled staircases, to our troops who are serving in Afghanistan today. And let us also remember who we’re fighting against, and what we’re fighting for. Our enemies respect no religious freedom. Al Qaeda’s cause is notIslam -– it’s a gross distortion of Islam. These are not religious leaders -– they’re terrorists who murder innocent men and women and children. In fact, al Qaeda has killed more Muslims than people of any other religion -– and that list of victims includes innocent Muslims who were killed on 9/11.
from a transcript of Obama’s Interview by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (July 14, 2010):
Well, it’s not just link to poverty. I mean, I think there’s an ideological component to it that also has to be rejected. There’s — obviously young people, if they don’t have opportunity, are more vulnerable to these misguided ideologies, but we also have to directly confront the fact that issues like a anti-democratic, anti-free speech, anti-freedom of religion agenda, which is what an organization like Al Shabaab promotes, also often goes hand in hand with violence.
link from Jihad Watch: Somalia’s al-Shabaab: Yeah, we’re with al-Qaeda
from a transcript of Obama’s Comprehensive Immigration Reform speech (July 1, 2010):
And then there are the countless names and the quiet acts that never made the history books but were no less consequential in building this country — the generations who braved hardship and great risk to reach our shores in search of a better life for themselves and their families; the millions of people, ancestors to most of us, who believed that there was a place where they could be, at long last, free to work and worship and live their lives in peace.
from a transcript of Obama’s Remarks at University of Michigan Spring Commencement (May 01, 2010):
This democracy we have is a precious thing. For all the arguments and all the doubts and all the cynicism that’s out there today, we should never forget that as Americans, we enjoy more freedoms and opportunities than citizens in any other nation on Earth. (Applause.) We are free to speak our mind and worship as we please. We are free to choose our leaders, and criticize them if they let us down. We have the chance to get an education, and work hard, and give our children a better life.
from a transcript of Obama’s remarks at his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway (December 10, 2009):
I reject these choices. I believe that peace is unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely or worship as they please; choose their own leaders or assemble without fear. Pent-up grievances fester, and the suppression of tribal and religious identity can lead to violence. We also know that the opposite is true. Only when Europe became free did it finally find peace. America has never fought a war against a democracy, and our closest friends are governments that protect the rights of their citizens. No matter how callously defined, neither America’s interests — nor the world’s — are served by the denial of human aspirations.
from a transcript of Obama’s remarks at Town Hall Meeting with Future Chinese Leaders in Shanghai, China (November 16, 2009):
And that is why America will always speak out for these core principles around the world. We do not seek to impose any system of government on any other nation, but we also don’t believe that the principles that we stand for are unique to our nation. These freedoms of expression and worship — of access to information and political participation — we believe are universal rights. They should be available to all people, including ethnic and religious minorities — whether they are in the United States, China, or any nation. Indeed, it is that respect for universal rights that guides America’s openness to other countries; our respect for different cultures; our commitment to international law; and our faith in the future.
from a transcript of Obama’s remarks at Suntory Hall, Tokyo, Japan (November 14, 2009):
The longing for liberty and dignity is a part of the story of all peoples. For there are certain aspirations that human beings hold in common: the freedom to speak your mind, and choose your leaders; the ability to access information, and worship how you please; confidence in the rule of law, and the equal administration of justice. These are not impediments to stability, they are the cornerstones of stability. And we will always stand on the side of those who seek these rights.
from a transcript of Obama’s remarks at Memorial Service at Fort Hood, Texas (November 10, 2009):
We’re a nation that guarantees the freedom to worship as one chooses. And instead of claiming God for our side, we remember Lincoln’s words, and always pray to be on the side of God.
from a transcript of Obama’s remarks to the United Nations General Assembly, NYC (September 23, 2009):
This Assembly’s Charter commits each of us — and I quote — “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women.” Among those rights is the freedom to speak your mind and worship as you please; the promise of equality of the races, and the opportunity for women and girls to pursue their own potential; the ability of citizens to have a say in how you are governed, and to have confidence in the administration of justice. For just as no nation should be forced to accept the tyranny of another nation, no individual should be forced to accept the tyranny of their own people. (Applause.)
from a transcript of Obama’s remarks at the Iftar Dinner, State Dining Room (September 1, 2009):
One of those values is the freedom to practice your religion — a right that is enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution. Nashala Hearn, who joins us from Muskogee, Oklahoma, took a stand for that right at an early age. When her school district told her that she couldn’t wear the hijab, she protested that it was a part of her religion. The Department of Justice stood behind her, and she won her right to practice her faith. She even traveled to Washington to testify before Congress. Her words spoke to a tolerance that is far greater than mistrust — when she first wore her headscarf to school, she said, “I received compliments from the other kids.”
from a transcript of Obama’s Ramadan Message (August 21, 2009):
Beyond America’s borders, we are also committed to keeping our responsibility to build a world that is more peaceful and secure. That is why we are responsibly ending the war in Iraq. That is why we are isolating violent extremists while empowering the people in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is why we are unyielding in our support for a two-state solution that recognizes the rights of Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security. And that is why America will always stand for the universal rights of all people to speak their mind, practice their religion, contribute fully to society and have confidence in the rule of law.
from a transcript of Obama’s remarks at the US/China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (July 27, 2009):
Support for human rights and human dignity is ingrained in America. Our nation is made up of immigrants from every part of the world. We have protected our unity and struggled to perfect our union by extending basic rights to all our people. And those rights include the freedom to speak your mind, to worship your God, and to choose your leaders. These are not things that we seek to impose — this is who we are. It guides our openness to one another and to the world.
from a transcript of Obama’s remarks with President Mills of Ghana at the Departure Ceremony (July 11, 2009):
And immigrants from Ghana and from all across Africa have thrived all across America. Today, both our nations are diverse and vibrant democracies. Here in Ghana, many different ethnic groups speak many languages, but have found a way to live and work together in peace. People here can speak freely and worship freely. You have a robust civil society, fair elections, and a free press, a growing market economy and a sense of energy and optimism. And every day with its success, Ghana sends a simple message to the world that democracy can thrive in Africa. (Applause.)
Christian 68.8% (Pentecostal/Charismatic 24.1%, Protestant 18.6%, Catholic 15.1%, other 11%), Muslim 15.9%, traditional 8.5%, other 0.7%, none 6.1% (2000 census)
from a transcript of Obama’s remarks at the Esperanza National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast, D.C. (June 19, 2009):
We can begin by giving thanks for the legacy that allows us to come together. For it was the genius of America’s Founders to protect the freedom of all religion, and those who practice no religion at all. So as we join in prayer, we remember that this is a nation of Christians and Muslims and Jews and Hindus and non-believers. It is this freedom that allows faith to flourish within our borders. It is this freedom that makes our nation stronger.
“Mr. Frank Sharry, Founder and Executive Director of America’s Voice—an organization aimed at winning common sense immigration reform—spoke to our event participants before they met with their congressional representatives on Capitol Hill. In light of Esperanza’s focus on comprehensive immigration reform and our participation in Congressman Luis Gutierrez’s (D-IL) “Familias Unidas” tour, we awarded Congressman Gutierrez the Esperanza Advocate Award for his persistent advocacy on behalf of the immigrant community.
The Reverend Luis Cortés, Jr., President and founder of Esperanza, reflected proudly on the success of the event saying, “Once again, we have come together as one Latino voice to pray, celebrate, and advocate for comprehensive immigration reform in the hopes that it will answer the prayers of so many immigrants who desperately want to become United States citizens, not to mention the families of those immigrants who are equally committed to and affected by our legislation.””
from a transcript of Obama’s remarks along with President Sarkozy of France, Caen, France (June 6, 2009):
Q President Obama, the ban on headscarves and veils for young girls in French schools and President Sarkozy’s position on Turkey’s entry into the European Union, is this likely to hinder the new approach to Islam that you presented in Cairo two days ago?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think that this is a process. And what I tried to do in Cairo was to open up a conversation both in Muslim communities, but also in non-Muslim communities; both in the Middle East, but also here in the West.
And as I said in the speech, I think that freedom of religious expression is critical. That is part of our liberal tradition both in France and the United States, and that we should not have two standards forfreedom of religious expression, one for Muslims and one for non-Muslims.
That doesn’t mean that each country isn’t going to be working through these issues with its own history and its own sensitivities in mind. And I don’t take responsibility for how other countries are going to approach this. I will tell you that in the United States our basic attitude is, is that we’re not going to tell people what to wear. If, in their exercise of religion, they are impeding somebody else’s rights, that’s something that we would obviously be concerned about.
from a transcript of Obama’s remarks On A New Beginning at Cairo University in Cairo, Egypt (June 4, 2009):
Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state in our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That’s why the United States government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab and to punish those who would deny it. (Applause.) […]
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Barack Obama, we love you!
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you. (Applause.) The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom. […]
Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always examine the ways in which we protect it. For instance, in the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That’s why I’m committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.
Likewise, it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit — for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We can’t disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.
from a transcript of Biden’s remarks to the Assembly of Kosovo, Pristina, Kosovo (May 21, 2009):
You must also make every effort to improve the conditions for the return of displaced Serbs and members of others communities to their property and their homes throughout all of Kosovo. It’s an essential ultimate condition to a free and open society. And we urge you — we urge you to preserve the rich cultural heritage in your country, and in particular to safeguard religious freedom in a very important role on the Serbian Orthodox Church for Kosovo’s Serb community.
According to latest CIA The World Factbook estimated data, as of July 2009, Kosovo’s population stands at 1,804,838 persons. It stated that ethnic composition is “Albanians 88%, Serbs 7%, other 5% (Bosniak, Gorani, Roma, Turk, Ashkali, Egyptian, Janjevci – Croats)”
The two main religions of Kosovo are Christianity and Islam. Islam is the predominant religion in Kosovo and is mostly Sunni Islam, with a Berktashi Islam minority; Islam was brought into the region with the Ottoman conquest in the 15th century and now nominally professed by most of the ethnic Albanians, by the Bosniak, Gorani, and Turkish communities, and by some of the Roma/Ashkali-“Egyptian” community. Islam, however, hasn’t saturated the Kosovar society, which remains largely secular. About three percent of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo remain Roman Catholic despite centuries of the Ottoman rule. There are an estimated 65,000 Catholics in Kosovo and another 60,000 Kosovar born Catholics outside of Kosovo. The Serb population, estimated at 100,000 to 120,000 persons, is largely Serbian Orthodox. Kosovo is densely covered by numerous Serb Orthodox churches and monasteries. Some 140 churches are reported to have been destroyed and partly looted for the black market in the 1999 to 2004 period, of these 30 in a single outburst of violence in March 2004. According to the governments of the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia, there is no official or state religion of Kosovo.
from a transcript of Obama’s Press Conference at the Port of Spain, Trinidad, Tobago (April 19, 2009):
Number two, I think that — I feel very strongly that when we are at our best, the United States represents a set of universal values and ideals — the idea of democratic practices, the idea of freedom of speech and religion, the idea of a civil society where people are free to pursue their dreams and not be imposed upon constantly by their government. So we’ve got a set of ideas that I think have broad applicability. But what I also believe is that other countries have different cultures, different perspectives, and are coming out of different histories, and that we do our best to promote our ideals and our values by our example. […]
Is it while — I was running for Senate. There you go. Look, what I said and what I think my entire administration has acknowledged is, is that the policy that we’ve had in place for 50 years hasn’t worked the way we want it to. The Cuban people are not free. And that’s our lodestone, our North Star, when it come to our policy in Cuba.
It is my belief that we’re not going to change that policy overnight, and the steps that we took I think were constructive in sending a signal that we’d like to see a transformation. But I am persuaded that it is important to send a signal that issues of political prisoners, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, democracy — that those continue to be important, that they’re not simply something to be brushed aside.
Religion in Trinidad and Tobago:
Indian (South Asian) 40%, African 37.5%, mixed 20.5%, other 1.2%, unspecified 0.8% (2000 census)
from a transcript of Obama’s remarks at a Joint Press Conference with President Felipe Calderon of Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico (April 16, 2009):
I’m optimistic that progress can be made if there is a spirit that is looking forward rather than backward. My guidepost in U.S.-Cuba policy is going to be how can we encourage Cuba to be respectful of the rights of its people: political speech and political participation, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of travel. But, as I said before, I don’t expect things to change overnight. What I do insist on is that U.S.-Cuban relationships are grounded with a respect not only for the traditions of each country but also respect for human rights and the people’s — the needs of the people of Cuba.
from a transcript of Obama’s remarks to the Turkish Parliament, Turkish Grand National Assembly Complex, Ankara, Turkey (April 6, 2009):
These achievements have created new laws that must be implemented, and a momentum that should be sustained. For democracies cannot be static — they must move forward. Freedom of religion and expression lead to a strong and vibrant civil society that only strengthens the state, which is why steps like reopening Halki Seminary will send such an important signal inside Turkey and beyond. An enduring commitment to the rule of law is the only way to achieve the security that comes from justice for all people. Robust minority rights let societies benefit from the full measure of contributions from all citizens.
from a transcript of Obama’s remarks with President Gul of Turkey at Cankaya Palace, Ankara, Turkey (April 6, 2009):
I think Turkey was — modern Turkey was founded with a similar set of principles, and yet what we’re seeing is in both countries that promise of a secular country that is respectful of religious freedom, respectful of rule of law, respectful of freedom, upholding these values and being willing to stand up for them in the international stage. If we are joined together in delivering that message, East and West, to — to the world, then I think that we can have an extraordinary impact. And I’m very much looking forward to that partnership in the days to come.
After reading every article that I could find on this subject, here are all of the various reasons people have come up with for why Obama and company may be doing this:
Almost as important as the rhetorical shift is the question of why the shift is happening. One very likely answer lies in our relationship to the Muslim world, where a vital principle is being sacrificed on the altar of not giving offense. […] Missouri law professor Carl Esbeck told Christianity Today that what he calls the “softened message” of freedom of worship was “probably meant for the Muslim world.” It was, in his estimation, an attempt to “repair relations fractured by 9/11” by “telling Islamic countries that America is not interfering with their internal matters.”
That is, by demanding that they provide freedom of religion, which they do not.
2. “Some commentators believe that one of Obama’s motives is to throw a sop to China and the Muslim world where freedom of religion is denied but private worship is allowed in some areas. They believe Obama is giving a signal to these nations that we are not going to do anything about their denial of freedom of religion.”
3. “There’s one other reason for [Obama] to try to change “freedom of religion” to “freedom of worship.” Don’t forget that [Obama] and Hillary are both abortion absolutists. There’s no way they will find any kind of conscience exception acceptable in the course of further developing Obamacare. If we limit freedom of religion to freedom of worship, well, pro-life doctors won’t be able to claim that they cannot perform abortions.”
And now we have [Hillary] suggesting that the defense of the LGBT agenda will, as a human rights issue, be considered on a par with such basic human rights as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and religious freedom—and that no small part of the substance of religious freedom may have to be sacrificed, if necessary, to advance that agenda.
Religious freedom, rightly understood, cannot be reduced to freedom of worship. Religious freedom includes the right to preach and evangelize, to make religiously informed moral arguments in the public square and to conduct the affairs of one’s religious community without undue interference from the state.
5. sloppy writing
6. to conform to United Nations standards on “religious freedom”
7. “Another possibility is that the President was seeking to reassure Muslims that they can practice their religion here” there and everywhere…
8. The Left needs Evangelical Christian political influence to diminish… so keep them stifled inside the church building…
9. “Others fear he is signaling to the secular leaders in this country that he plans to aide and abet them in their demands for”: The Great Secularization of America: “This is the culmination of a 40-year process to expel God from America. First it was taking prayer and the Bible from public schools; then it was driving out the 10 Commandments from courthouses and nativities from town squares. Now religion would be squeezed out of every pocket of society until it exists only within the four walls of the church. This is more than semantics; it’s a bold leap forward to completely secularize America.”
Those who would limit religious practice to the cathedral and the home are the very same people who would strip the public square of any religious presence. They are working to tear down roadside memorial crosses built to commemorate fallen state troopers in Utah, to strip “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, and they recently stopped a protester from entering an art gallery because she wore a pro-life pin.
10. “Obama does not like the word “religion.” He is forced to mention the subject from time to time, and so substitutes a word he loathes less.”
11. “Hopefully this language only reflects speech writers trying to create good prose“
12. “In this fiction story, the United States has signed onto an international treaty that radically restricts the right of Christians to preach the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ. This fictional treaty closely resembles the real-life “defamation of religion” resolution passed by the UN Human Rights Council in March of 2009. As our current Administration edges us closer to a global approach in matters of religion, it is important to remember that the future “Babylon” in the Bible’s book of Revelation has in fact three aspects, much like a three-legged stool: two of them are a global economic system and a global political system. The third? A global unification of religion. It would seem to us improbable for the stage to be set for this kind of religious unification until Christian evangelism is finally outlawed – or something worse.”
13. “Given that a fundamental element of any religion are truth claims that by nature may conflict with or offend those of another faith, the efforts of international institutions to restrict expression of these claims go right for the religious jugular. And in reducing freedom of religion to “freedom of worship” in its political and diplomatic pronouncements, the United States can no longer invoke the First Amendment and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, thus weakening its ability to combat the international movement to criminalize religious speech.”
14. “the Administration really doesn’t get the difference between worship and religion.”
15. Islam gets preferential treatment
Please take this Poll!
He uses “freedom of religion”:
1. Every time he speaks to Muslim countries or Muslims in America. I guess because Islam is his pet cause and Muslims are his current special group of oppressed people that he favors.
2. Also with another of his preferred groups: People in Mexico and good democrat hispanic folks who are trying to enact immigration reform.
All other times, he uses “freedom of worship”:
1. In America: to try and discourage Evangelical Christians from being political
2. In other countries: to conform with the global United Nations version of “freedom” of “Religion”… being the good Worldly leader that he is.
The only transcript that I don’t know what to make of is the one from Trinidad and Tobago.
Chuck Colson has spoken about this issue many times in his commentaries and a “Two Minute Warning” video:
Freedom of Worship: an anorexic description of our rights
June 30, 2010
Redefining the First Freedom
More Than Worship
June 30, 2010
Freedom of Religion at Stake
July 7, 2010
From the Shores of Tripoli to Foggy Bottom
August 20, 2010
FRIDAY FIVE: Chuck Colson on Religious Freedom and Christian Citizenship
August 27, 2010
So Now It’s Freedom of Religion?
Speak Out With Chuck
September 1, 2010
As far as I can tell, this issue all began in February of this year with this public briefing:
this was posted on February 4, 2010 at the website for the “Project on Middle East Democracy”:
Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-MO), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on International Operations, Human Rights, and Oversight, sponsored a public briefing to discuss the status and future of U.S. international religious freedom policy. Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn, Senior Program Manager of Human Rights and Religious Freedom at Freedom House, moderated a panel of three speakers: Knox Thames, Executive Director of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; Brian Grim, Senior Researcher at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life; and Thomas Farr, Senior Fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. Congressman Joseph Cao (R-LA) joined briefing as well to ask a few questions of the panelists. […]
Responding to a question about the Obama administration’s increasingly common rhetorical usage of “religious worship” in place of “religious freedom,” Thames commented that “freedom of worship” is too narrow a construction of the broader human right. He hopes it won’t trickle down into policy, but he’s seen it enough times that he doesn’t think it’s an accident. Farr agreed, saying that although it may simply be a rhetorical device for aesthetic purposes, there seems to be a very truncated understanding of religious freedom among some in the current administration.
here are parts of Thomas F. Farr’s remarks to the briefing [pdf] on February 3, 2010:
Unfortunately, it takes its place amidst a host of bad signals from this administration. They include Secretary Clinton’s ill advised statement in Beijing that pressing China on human rights could not interfere with more important issues, and the increasing use of the term “freedom of worship” instead of “freedom of religion.” The former is largely a private activity with few if any public policy implications. As I’ve noted, religious freedom broadly understood obviously includes the right to worship, but it also includes the right to engage in the political life of the nation on the basis of religious beliefs. It is the latter that we have failed to address in our IRF policy. […]
Let me focus here on one critical issue –the President’s Cairo speech and his much praised strategy of engaging Muslim majority communities. It was a good speech. A significant portion was devoted to issues of human dignity and stability, namely, democracy, religious freedom, women’s rights, and development. Here’s what he said about religious freedom: “People should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind and the heart and the soul. … Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together.” In other words, the President told Muslim communities that religious liberty is central to human dignity and to social and political stability. In light of this, we are entitled to ask why his administration has so far ignored IRF policy in the Muslim world.
Is the answer that the administration does not really believe in the public value of religious freedom, including the rights of traditional religious communities to engage in the public square on the basis of their religious beliefs? Surely not. Let me quote a prominent public intellectual on this issue:
Secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square. Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Williams Jennings Bryant, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King – indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history – were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. So to say that men and women should not inject their “personal morality” into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
That public intellectual was Barack Obama. Members of his administration should pay attention to what the boss has to say.
This briefing seems to be the first big event regarding this particular issue…
On February 9, Washington Post religion reporter Michelle Boorstein picked up this story and wrote “Freedom of religion vs. freedom of worship”:
Is there a difference between “freedom of religion” and “freedom of worship”?
Some advocates for international religious freedom are monitoring what they fear is a change in the language being used by Obama administration officials – that the broad emphasis on spreading “freedom of religion” that the president used when he spoke in Cairo last June is being subtly replaced by the more limited concept of “freedom of worship.”
I’ve not seen a formal study done of all the references by Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others in the administration, but there’s a movement growing among anxious advocates who say a trend is underway.
To insiders in this small but intense community, “freedom of worship” implies something overseas dictators view as controllable, manageable – the right to gather, pray, sing. “Freedom of religion” encompasses much more – the freedom to publicly display, advocate for, protest, and most notably: proselytize. This is the most controversial subject as the United States is still seen by some overseas as trying to foist Christianity and Judeo-Christian culture. Many advocates believe the right to evangelize freely is a basic part of their faith.
Knox Thames, director of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom — a Congress-controlled body tasked with monitoring religious freedom abroad – spoke at a recent briefing about the worry, reportedly saying he sees a change in lingo and that it’s not an accident. Well-known religious freedom advocate and Georgetown University professor Thomas Farr reportedly agreed.
The whole subject of what the United States means by the term “religious freedom” may be up for a more full public debate soon, with the new administration and USCIRF scheduled to go out of business next year. Folks like Thames and Farr say limits on religious liberty are often indicators of human rights problems in countries generally, and that health of religious freedom correlates with economic growth. But some American advocates say the United States needs to clarify what it means by “religious freedom” in a post-9/11 world, and what are its priorities? A decade ago the term implied fighting limits on persecuted communities, often Christian, but today religion is discussed differently in foreign policy, with a special emphasis on violence by Muslim extremists.
Here is the full quote of Knox Thames, the USCIRF director. It’s what he said at the Feb. 3 public staff briefing about the future of U.S. religious freedom policy sponsored by the House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on International Operations, Human Rights and Oversight:
“I have noticed a change in terminology by President Obama and Secretary Clinton over the past months. Starting during the President’s trip to Asia, he referred to ‘freedom of worship’ on several occasions, but never once mentioned ‘freedom of religion.’ This trend has continued with Secretary Clinton. In her speech at Georgetown University and her more recent Internet freedom speech, both times she only referred to ‘freedom of worship.'”
“Religious freedom is one of those unique rights that, to be fully enjoyed, other rights like association and speech must also be protected. Words matter, and so it’s unclear whether this new phraseology represents a change in policy. Hopefully this language only reflects speech writers trying to create good prose and not a shift in policy, as it would mean a much narrower view of the right. It will be interesting to hear what language the President uses at the Prayer Breakfast, if he talks about religious freedom issues.”
Meanwhile, George Weigel wrote “The erosion of religious freedom” on February 10, 2010 about Hillary’s comment that people must be free to love in the way that they choose:
…Yet there was another clumsy Coakleyism that ought to have enraged a considerable part of the Bay State electorate. Pressed by an interviewer on what Catholic physicians, nurses and other health-care workers should do when they cannot in conscience provide certain services or conduct certain procedures, Coakley replied, “You can have religious freedom but you probably shouldn’t work in the emergency room.”
A month earlier, speaking at Georgetown University, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton offered a similarly diminished view of religious freedom when she declined to use that term, substituting “freedom to worship” in a catalogue of fundamental human rights that included a striking innovation. Asserting that people must be free to “choose laws and leaders, to share and access information, to speak, criticize and debate,” the secretary of state then averred that people “must be free … to love in the way they choose.” For those with ears to hear in Gaston Hall that day, the promotion of the so-called LGBT (lesbian/gay/bisexual/ transgendered) agenda had just been declared a human rights priority of the United States, in the same sentence in which the secretary of state had offered an anorexic description of religious freedom that even the Saudis could accept (so long as the worshipping was done behind closed doors in a U.S. embassy).
One has to wonder if there is a connection here. […]
Religious freedom, rightly understood, cannot be reduced to freedom of worship. Religious freedom includes the right to preach and evangelize, to make religiously informed moral arguments in the public square and to conduct the affairs of one’s religious community without undue interference from the state. If religious freedom only involves the freedom to worship, then, as noted above, there is “religious freedom” in Saudi Arabia, where Bibles and evangelism are forbidden but expatriate Filipino laborers can attend Mass in the U.S. embassy compound in Riyadh.
In its glory years, the State Department’s human rights bureau was a stalwart friend of those brave men and women in communist countries who were asserting, in addition to their right to worship, their rights as believers to be fully participant in society. That noble legacy should cause the present guardians of U.S. human rights policy to think very carefully about the path they seem to be taking in this field.
On February 22, 2010, Ashley Samelson wrote one of the most quoted pieces on this issue: Why “Freedom of Worship” Is Not Enough:
In his Cairo speech in June of 2009, President Obama gave religious freedom a place of heightened importance in his administration’s agenda. His speech both emphasized the importance of religious freedom when considering overall human dignity and human rights, as well as acknowledged the fact that good diplomacy must take religion into consideration as a fundamental component of international engagement. Both were tremendous steps forward in how this nation engages a world facing encroaching religious fundamentalism and ever-receding religious freedom.
Why then, is his administration shrinking from a robust understanding of religious freedom in its rhetoric of late?
Recently, both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been caught using the phrase “freedom of worship” in prominent speeches, rather than the “freedom of religion” the President called for in Cairo.
If the swap-out occurred only once or twice, one might appropriately conclude it was merely a rhetorical accident. However, both the President and his Secretary of State have now replaced “freedom of religion” with “freedom of worship” too many times to seem inadvertent.
As Tom Farr, Professor of Religion and World Affairs at Georgetown University and the former head of the State Department’s International Religious Freedom Office, stated at a recent congressional hearing forecasting international religious freedom issues to watch in 2010, “Those of us in the business of sniffing out rats know that this is a rhetorical shift to watch.”
“Freedom of worship” first appeared in a high profile speech in Obama’s remarks at the memorial for the victims of the Fort Hood shooting last November, a few months after his Cairo speech. Speaking to the crowd gathered to commemorate the victims, President Obama said, “We’re a nation that guarantees the freedom to worship as one chooses.” Given the religious tension that marked the tragic incident, it was not an insignificant event at which to unveil a new way of referring to our First Freedom.
Shortly after his remarks at Ft. Hood, President Obama left for his trip to Asia, where he repeatedly referred to “freedom of worship,” and not once to “freedom of religion.”
Not long after his return, “freedom of worship” appeared in two prominent speeches delivered by Secretary Clinton. In her address to Georgetown University outlining the Obama Administration’s human rights agenda she used “freedom of worship” three times, “freedom of religion,” not once. About a month later, in an address to Senators on internet freedom at the Newseum, the phrase popped up in her lingo once again.
To anyone who closely follows prominent discussion of religious freedom in the diplomatic and political arena, this linguistic shift is troubling.
The reason is simple. Any person of faith knows that religious exercise is about a lot more than freedom of worship. It’s about the right to dress according to one’s religious dictates, to preach openly, to evangelize, to engage in the public square. Everyone knows that religious Jews keep kosher, religious Quakers don’t go to war, and religious Muslim women wear headscarves—yet “freedom of worship” would protect none of these acts of faith.
Those who would limit religious practice to the cathedral and the home are the very same people who would strip the public square of any religious presence. They are working to tear down roadside memorial crosses built to commemorate fallen state troopers in Utah, to strip “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, and they recently stopped a protester from entering an art gallery because she wore a pro-life pin.
The effort to squash religion into the private sphere is on the rise around the world. And it’s not just confined to totalitarian regimes like Saudi Arabia. In France, students at public schools cannot wear headscarves, yarmulkes, or large crucifixes. The European Court of Human Rights has banned crucifixes from the walls of Italian schools. In Indonesia, the Constitutional Court is reviewing a law that criminalizes speech considered “blasphemous” to other faiths. Efforts to trim religion into something that fits neatly in one’s pocket is the work of dictators, not democratic leaders. So why then have our leaders taken a rhetorical scalpel to the concept of religious freedom?
This shift in semantics could have huge implications for how the United States promotes religious freedom in countries such as these, as well as how we engage in international institutions regarding the ongoing efforts to restrict religious expression around the world.
In just a few weeks, the Human Rights Council will once more review the “defamation of religions” resolution in Geneva. The resolution, passed every year at the United Nations since 1999, claims that speech deemed offensive to another faith is a violation of international law. While the resolution is relatively toothless, it provides cover for domestic blasphemy laws used to restrict proselytism and religious speech around the world. However, the Ad Hoc Committee on Complimentary Standards, a rogue UN body with a nebulous and expansive mandate, is currently reviewing a proposed amendment that would criminalize defamation of religion to the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), a treaty to which the United States is a signatory.
Given that a fundamental element of any religion are truth claims that by nature may conflict with or offend those of another faith, the efforts of international institutions to restrict expression of these claims go right for the religious jugular. And in reducing freedom of religion to “freedom of worship” in its political and diplomatic pronouncements, the United States can no longer invoke the First Amendment and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, thus weakening its ability to combat the international movement to criminalize religious speech.
This early, one is left only with conjectures as to why “freedom of worship” seems to be the favored phraseology of this administration when discussing religion of late. It could just be sloppy work coming out of someone’s press office. But rhetoric matters—particularly when one is the leader of the free world. In Secretary Clinton’s Georgetown address she said, “Freedom doesn’t come in half measures.” The Obama administration should heed its own words when it comes to religious freedom.
Now jump to April of this year:
Thomas F. Farr wrote “Undefender of the Faith” on APRIL 5, 2010:
Although the president has yet to even nominate his ambassador at large for international religious freedom, other ambassadors at large — for global women’s issues, counterterrorism, and war crimes — have long been at work, directly under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A large group of other senior envoys are also in place, with portfolios such as disabilities, AIDS, climate change, Guantanamo, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, and outreach to Muslim communities. The State Department is also developing an international gay rights initiative. It is difficult not to conclude that all these initiatives are more important to the administration than religious freedom.
In this regard, it is worrying that, for the past year, Obama and Clinton have often used the term “freedom of worship” instead of “freedom of religion.” The former is largely a private activity with few if any public-policy implications. The latter certainly denotes the right to worship, but it includes as well the right to engage in political and public life on the basis of religious beliefs. It is the latter that the United States has failed to address in its religious-freedom policy, even though the public element of religious freedom is by far the most important aspect of any engagement with majority-Muslim communities, which do not see their role as a private one.
Then on April 29 came the second big event this year for this issue:
USCIRF Eleventh Annual Report on Religious Freedom in the World Released
Here’s what it says on pages 25 and 26 of the report [pdf]:
Implementation of IRFA
After more than ten years since the enactment of IRFA, the State Department either has not implemented or has underutilized key provisions of the law, leaving central aspects of the act unfulfilled. This is the case for both Democratic and Republican Administrations. While President Obama has emphasized religious freedom in major policy speeches abroad, the Administration to date has not demonstrated the intent to break from the practice of previous administrations.
“Freedom of Religion” as a Priority
IRFA established as the policy of the United States that the U.S. government would “condemn violations of religious freedom” and would work to “promote, and to assist other governments in the promotion of, the fundamental right to freedom of religion.” During his first year in office, President Obama emphasized religious freedom during high-profile speeches in Ankara and Cairo. In April 2009 in Ankara, he noted “freedom of religion and expression lead to a strong and vibrant civil society that only strengthens the state, which is why steps like reopening Halki Seminary will send such an important signal inside Turkey and beyond.”
On June 4, 2009, in Cairo, the President directly addressed the issue of religious freedom in his speech to the Muslim world. He said in part:
“The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom. Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. That is the spirit we need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind and the heart and the soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it’s being challenged in many different ways. . . . Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always examine the ways in which we protect it.
However, since the Cairo speech presidential references to religious freedom have become rare, often replaced at most with references to “freedom of worship.” This change in phraseology could well be viewed by human rights defenders and officials in other countries as having concrete policy implications. Freedom of worship is only one aspect of religious freedom, and a purposeful change in language could signify a much narrower view of the right, ignoring for example, the components of religiously motivated expression and religious education. This is not the message our nation should be sending to the world’s religious freedom abusers.
This change in phraseology was evident during the President’s November 2009 trip to Asia, when he referred to “freedom of worship” in Japan on November 14, as well as in his town hall meeting with Chinese students two days later. In China, he said, “We do not seek to impose any system of government on any other nation, but we also don’t believe that the principles that we stand for are unique to our nation. These freedoms of expression and worship—of access to information and political participation— we believe are universal rights.” The President never referred to “freedom of religion” during speeches in either country. Moreover, by declaring that the basis for designating these rights as universal is because they stem from American “beliefs,” the President’s speech undercuts decades of unanimous affirmation and reaffirmation of their universal character in international instruments and conventions.
Secretary Clinton’s remarks also have embodied this rhetorical shift. She referred to “freedom of worship” in her December 14, 2009 address on human rights at Georgetown University. In that speech, she said, “To fulfill their potential, people must be . . . free to worship, associate, and to love in the way that they choose.” She also called for “for the rights to express oneself and worship freely” in China. In her January 21, 2010 Internet freedom speech, she referred to religious freedom once, in a quote from President Obama’s Cairo speech, but repeatedly referred to “freedom of worship.” For example, she said, “We must work to advance the freedom of worship online just as we do in other areas of life.”
Because of the policy implications of using “freedom of worship” language, USCIRF urges President Obama, Secretary Clinton and other high-ranking U.S. government officials to return to invoking or embracing “freedom of religion or belief” or similar language in all public statements and stress the universal nature of these and other rights. In doing so, they should also explicitly affirm their commitment to broad protection of the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief in all its manifestations.
Aamer Madhani wrote “Obama blasted, 13 nations cited on religious freedom” for USA Today on April 29:
A bipartisan U.S. commission on religious freedom says President Obama is softening his stand on protecting the right to one’s faith at a time when religious persecution is on the rise, according to an annual report to be released today.
The 11th annual report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom says Obama’s recent call for nations to respect “freedom of worship” rather than “religious freedom” allows regimes to claim they are not oppressing certain religions if those faiths exist in a form acceptable to the regime.
“When you start narrowing the discussion, the signal the administration is sending to the international community is that as long as they prop up a few churches or houses of worship (of minority faiths), there isn’t going to be a problem,” Leonard Leo, the chairman of the commission, told USA TODAY.
The report also criticizes the administration for failing to nominate an ambassador-at-large for religious freedom. […]
The commission was established to monitor religious freedom and issue an annual report on U.S. efforts in that area. Commission members are appointed by Congress and the White House. It recommends which countries should be named “countries of particular concern” (or CPCs) for egregious violations and suggests penalties.
Among the 13 countries that the State Department has already named CPCs are Burma, China, Iran, North Korea and Saudi Arabia. The label requires the administration to consider whether to levy sanctions against the nations.
The 2010 annual report notes that Obama spoke about the importance of religious freedom in speeches in Turkey and Cairo early in his term. But since then, Obama has stopped using the term, it says.
The White House disagreed. “The president has spoken clearly and unequivocally about his support for religious freedom,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said.
Steven Groves, an analyst at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank, said the change in the phrase raises a question about the administration’s commitment to confront regimes in the Middle East and elsewhere, especially in Iraq and Iran where minority Christian and Muslim sects have been oppressed and even attacked.
“The term religious freedom carries with it a certain understanding in the international community that is a much broader right than the freedom of worship,” Groves said.
The commission report slams U.S.-supported nations, such as Iraq and Pakistan, for failing to protect members of minority faiths who have been targeted with violence or discrimination.
In April 2009 in Ankara, Obama said that “freedom of religion and expression lead to a strong and vibrant civil society that only strengthens the state.”
In subsequent speeches in China and Japan, Obama appeared to dial back his vision on religious freedom, according to the report. He referred to “freedom of worship” in Japan on Nov. 14 and used the same phrase in a town hall meeting with Chinese students two days later.
now jump to the end of June when this topic really took off in the media:
here are all of the articles that I’ve come across that were printed/posted throughout the months of June/July/August:
‘Freedom of Worship’ Worries
New religious freedom rhetoric within the Obama administration draws concern.
by Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra (Christianity Today)
June 22, 2010
Freedom of worship means the right to pray within the confines of a place of worship or to privately believe, said Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious Freedom and member of the commission. “It excludes the right to raise your children in your faith; the right to have religious literature; the right to meet with co-religionists; the right to raise funds; the right to appoint or elect your religious leaders, and to carry out charitable activities, to evangelize, [and] to have religious education or seminary training.” […]
The softened message is probably meant for the Muslim world, said Carl Esbeck, professor of law at the University of Missouri. Obama, seeking to repair relations fractured by 9/11, is telling Islamic countries that America is not interfering with their internal matters, he said.
As with all diplomatic decisions, the move is a gain and a loss, Esbeck said. Other countries may interpret the change as a sign that America is backing down from championing a robust, expansive view of religious freedom, which if true would be a loss, he said.
The Realism of Religious Freedom
by Joseph Bottum (firstthings.com)
June 28, 2010
Think of it this way: If you have “freedom of religion,” you can bring up your children in your faith, hold public processions, and print books. If you have only “freedom of worship” you can pray quietly in your home, as long as it remains out of public sight.
“Freedom of religion” means you can stand on a street corner and proselytize everything from Catholicism to Mormonism to the cult of the sun god Ra. “Freedom of worship” means you can be executed for public conversion away from Islam. Worship is part of religion, but it is one of the least public parts—and thus one of the least involved in actual freedom.
Why is Obama Changing “Freedom of Religion” to “Freedom of Worship”?
by Paul Cooper (NewsReal Blog)
June 29, 2010
Words matter. Words often hold great meaning. That is especially true when it comes to the words of our founding documents like the Bill of Rights in our Constitution. Those words are especially cherished. Yet in the past year it appears the Obama administration has been changing one key word in that sacred scroll. […]
Some Christian based publications are also worried.
That’s not an inconsequential change: Freedom of worship means the ability to have church services, which is crucial, but leaves out protection for Christian schools, publications, and Christian compassionate ministries…’Freedom of religion’ means that ministries designed to help prisoners change their lives, or to help the poor enter the workforce, can teach what the Bible teaches. Under ‘freedom of worship,’ these ministries could become illegal, as they are in many parts of the world. This is a development to watch warily. – World Magazine […]
This President clearly sees religion as a key part of foreign affairs when the Muslim world is involved especially. He is ultra-careful to not want to offend followers of Islam. We already know that the administration has rejected the term “radical Islam” or any similar language and refuses to admit religion plays a major roll in terrorism.
‘Freedom to Worship’ is Not ‘Freedom of Religious Expression’
By Bob Ellis (Dakota Voice)
July 1st, 2010
What does the First Amendment say?
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
It does not limit this recognition of freedom merely to how we worship. Rather, the First Amendment recognizes and guarantees the freedom to exercise our religion how we see fit. That means we can express religious sentiments publicly, pray publicly, wear religious icons publicly, talk about our religious belief publicly, and so forth.
If we only have “freedom of worship,” knowing how liberals operate, it won’t be long until they have backed Christians into a corner, accomplishing what they’ve wanted for a long time: relegating Christian religious expression to the four walls of a church on Sunday…and nothing more. They can finally purge the public square of all that icky, inconvenient Christian belief that stands in the way of abortion anytime for any reason, full sexual autonomy, and their glorious socialist revolution.
Obama Supports Your Freedom to “Worship”?
by Matthew Warner
July 05, 2010
It represents an organized campaign to redefine and muddle our religious freedoms as popularly understood in the cultural narrative. And it reflects the Administration’s disdain and lack of respect for religion.
Our freedom of religion is not just a freedom to worship – but the freedom to practice.
See, practicing a religion is not just something we do in a worship service on Sunday. It’s not a string of trivial ceremonies we do out of respect for our culture or family tradition. It’s not something that is (reasonably) done half-way. It’s something that permeates every aspect of our lives. It effects how we run our businesses, hospitals, charities and organizations. It effects what we will and will not do in our employment. It effects our local communities, civil laws and political positions. It effects what we say, what we buy, what kinds of behavior are acceptable and healthy, how our children are educated and how we engage in the public debate to control all of these things. It effects everything.
The idea that we can separate the role our religion plays in all of these things is ignorant nonsense. Yet, that is precisely what Obama and his ilk expect you to do.
Does Obama care about religious freedom?
by Mark Hemingway (The Washington Examiner)
July 12, 2010
“The Obama administration seems to have decided that other policy initiatives — outreach to Muslim governments, obtaining China’s cooperation, advancing gay rights — would be compromised by vigorous advocacy for religious freedom,” Thomas Farr, director of the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom under President Clinton, recently wrote in the Washington Post.
As we learned earlier this week, even NASA’s “foremost” mission is now Muslim engagement. The problem is that the Obama administration doesn’t seem to know the difference between Muslim engagement and Muslim appeasement.
A Shadow over Religious Freedom
by Tim LaHaye and Craig Parshall (Edge of Apocalypse Today)
July 13th, 2010
So, what is the big problem? Simply this: the phrase “freedom of worship” follows an international concept that departs from our First Amendment understanding of religious freedom. Under international law, “worship” is a limited right, and connotes activities within a church body, but can exclude public evangelism. The UN Declaration of Human Rights protects “teaching, practice, worship and observance” but fails to protect public preaching. The United Nation’s 1981 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance uses the same approach on matters of religion. Article 9 of the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms allows evangelism to be banned on the basis of protecting “public order.” In 1997 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that under Article 9 Christians could be prosecuted for efforts to evangelize.
In our new futuristic novel, Edge of Apocalypse, we give a picture of America that, sadly, is beginning to look more and more like the headlines of today rather than forecasts about the future. In this fiction story, the United States has signed onto an international treaty that radically restricts the right of Christians to preach the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ. This fictional treaty closely resembles the real-life “defamation of religion” resolution passed by the UN Human Rights Council in March of 2009. As our current Administration edges us closer to a global approach in matters of religion, it is important to remember that the future “Babylon” in the Bible’s book of Revelation has in fact three aspects, much like a three-legged stool: two of them are a global economic system and a global political system. The third? A global unification of religion. It would seem to us improbable for the stage to be set for this kind of religious unification until Christian evangelism is finally outlawed – or something worse.
Freedom of Religion or Freedom of Worship?
by Mark E. Noonan
July 18, 2010
“Freedom of worship” tends to mean that I can worship God as I wish – but “Freedom of religion” means I can bring my faith in to the public square and attempt to convert society. Whether or not one feels that converting society to Catholicism (or Protestantism, or Judaism, or Islam, or what have you) is a worthy object, it is the lynch pin of our freedom. If we don’t have the freedom to bring our full selves in to the public square and attempt to persuade others, then we have no real freedom.
In Stalin’s USSR one had a freedom to worship – as noted by a Russian lady who wrote “you can pray freely, but only so God can hear”. Stalin didn’t care much if you spent ten hours a day on your knees in prayer…but if you tried to instruct the young or argue your faith on a street corner, you were going to spend some time in jail.
The left very much wants religion out of the public square. Religion is a stumbling block to the fulfillment of the left wing program. People of faith, expressing it in the public square, keep on bringing up inconvenient and uncomfortable positions and questions. We’re always on about the dignity of the individual, the right of each to live, the requirement that people be able to use their own as they will, the ultimate authority of parents in the lives of children. All that sort of thing – and it annoys the left no end.
So, it is a matter of deep concern that our President would start to use such phrasing in his speeches. Even if he, himself, doesn’t exactly know what he is saying, the fact remains that words do matter – and we on our side must now become ever more loud in our defense of freedom of religion. We must press the left back on this and force them, in public, to either declare themselves opposed to the free exercise of religion, or abandon this aspect of their war on faith.
‘End Times’ Authors Warn of Potential Threat to Religious Freedom in U.S.
By Kevin P. Donovan
July 18 2010
“End Times” authors Tim LaHaye and Craig Parshall say the Obama administration may be killing religious freedom by redefinition. […]
Alleging that the Obama administration is edging America closer to a global approach in matters of religion, LaHaye and Parshall recalled the future “Babylon” in the Bible’s book of Revelation, which they say has three aspects, “much like a three-legged stool.”
“[T]wo of them are a global economic system and a global political system. The third? A global unification of religion,” they stated.
And while they admit that the stage for that to be set seems improbable, the authors suggest it won’t be when “Christian evangelism is finally outlawed – or something worse.”
Furthermore, the authors say their new fictional novel, Edge of the Apocalypse, “is beginning to look more and more like the headlines of today rather than forecasts about the future.”
Published in April, Edge of the Apocalypse is a political thriller laced with End Times prophecy. Set in the near future, Edge of Apocalypse chronicles the beginning of “The End” – the events leading up to the Apocalypse foretold in Revelation.
Though Parshall has traditionally written legal-suspense novels and co-authored historical novels, LaHaye is no stranger in the “End Times” community. LaHaye is the creator and co-author of the popular Left Behind series, the 16-novel series that has been adapted into three action thriller films.
Obama Moves away from ‘Freedom of Religion’ toward ‘Freedom of Worship’?
By Randy Sly (Catholic.org)
July 19, 2010
Let’s be clear, however; language matters when it comes to defining freedoms and limits. A shift from freedom of religion to freedom of worship moves the dialog from the world stage into the physical confines of a church, temple, synagogue or mosque. Such limitations can unleash an unbridled initiative that we have only experienced in a mild way through actions determined to remove of roadside crosses, wearing of religious t-shirts and pro-life pins as well as any initiatives of evangelization. It also could exclude our right to raise our children in our faith, the right to religious education, literature or media, the right to raise funds or organize charitable activities and the right to express religious beliefs in the normal discourse of life. […]
As we can see, the practice of religion permeates the very fabric of our lives. It cannot and should not be separated into approved and non-approved expressions. Unfortunately, such limits are being instituted across the globe. […]
These small changes can be used to change our perception of rights and freedoms. In retrosprect, the past hundred years gives us a number of significant issues in which this has already happened to one degree or another. Abortion, contraception, marriage, the family, and gender have all been re-engineered to fashion a new worldview.
What may seem an innocent shift in language now could possibly end up as a “tipping point” for our religious freedom. Make no mistake; this is the goal and desire of the many inside and outside our current administration.
-What’s the Difference: ‘Freedom of Religion’ vs. ‘Freedom of Worship’
by Dr. D
July 19th, 2010
President Obama referred to the ‘freedom of religion’ in his speech last year in Cairo that was given for the benefit of the Muslim nations. Since then he has stopped using the term. Speculation has it that he was told that it was offensive to Muslims and that he should use the ‘freedom to worship’ designation instead since it is supported by the UN, the European Union, and most Islamic Countries. […]
‘Freedom of Worship’ is far more limited and supported by a number of United Nations declarations. Also many Muslim countries with ‘sharia’ law claim to have ‘freedom of worship’. It can mean nothing more than the right to pray to the god of your choice in your own home or in a designated place of worship. There is no right under the ‘freedom of worship’ to publicly proclaim ones faith or evangelize those who are of a different religion nor a right to publish or use broadcast media to support ones beliefs.
In many Muslim countries Christianity can only be taught in a church building and Christian worship is only allowed in the church yet those countries claim to have ‘freedom of worship’. Also in most Muslim dominated countries it is illegal for Christians to try to convert a Muslim. Not only that, but to ‘defame’ Islam or the prophet Muhammad is a capitol offense most places in the Middle East. Christians have been arrested, beaten, put in prison, and even killed for merely stating that Jesus Christ was greater than Muhammad.
During the ‘cold war’ the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe maintained a so-called ‘freedom of worship’. Christians were only free to worship in official state churches and forbidden to worship in the home or teach their children. No new churches were built during that time and thousands of Christians risked prison or greater by meeting together in house churches. This is still true in China today where house churches are more tolerated than they use to be but still illegal and subject to the whims of the authorities.
The use of the term- ‘freedom of worship’ seems rather innocent to most and interchangeable with ‘freedom of religion’ to the uninformed. But it clearly isn’t.
The President has a law degree and has taught Constitutional Law. There is no doubt that he is aware of the very different meanings of the two terms but has chosen for what ever reason to use the term ‘freedom of worship’ instead. Some believe that the choice could signal that the current administration would like to push the USA towards implementing a more ‘global’ and European understanding of religious freedom.
Freedom of religion or freedom to worship?
by Steve Dennis
July 19, 2010
Lingo Puts Freedom in Limbo
by the Family Research Council
July 19, 2010
This is the culmination of a 40-year process to expel God from America. First it was taking prayer and the Bible from public schools; then it was driving out the 10 Commandments from courthouses and nativities from town squares. Now religion would be squeezed out of every pocket of society until it exists only within the four walls of the church. This is more than semantics; it’s a bold leap forward to completely secularize America. We’ve already witnessed what the courts and culture have done to alienate faith. President Obama’s vision is to codify those decisions in policy–making it virtually impossible for men and women to exercise their religion in public. And that includes any church outreach like homeless shelters or orphanages. If we pursue this to its logical conclusion, America would eventually shut out or constrict anything having to do with Christ. President Obama says plenty of things he doesn’t mean. But in this, his pursuit of wiping religion off the map, we should take him at his word.
Faith and Freedom Institute
July 20, 2010
Freedom of Religion Is More Than Freedom to Worship
By Dr. Tony Beam
Jul. 21 2010
For example, the government can grant me the freedom to worship but without freedom of religion that same government can prohibit me from sharing my faith with my neighbor. My belief in the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage as being exclusively between a man and woman could be prohibited while the government allows me to continue to worship according to my religious tradition.
By shifting from freedom of religion to freedom of worship, the administration would be laying the groundwork for censuring religious thought and expression in the public square while sanctioning worship as long as that worship remains tucked away from public view within the confines of the church.
radio show: WORLDVIEW MATTERS WITH BRANNON HOWSE
July 21, 2010
Obama Changes “Freedom of Religion” to “Freedom of Worship”
by Joe Wolverton, II
July 22, 2010
Is it not possible that by replacing the “freedom of religion” with the “freedom of worship” such things as the wearing of religious garments and jewelry, as well as the sending of our children to schools funded and founded by religious orders that teach religion along with other more secular subjects could be forbidden? Furthermore, could not the constriction of the freedom of religion foster “climates of impunity, where private religiously-motivated violence isn’t prevented and punished?”
It’s freedom of ‘religion,’ Mr. President
Commander-in-chief’s term ‘gross departure from the intent of 1st Amendment’
By Bob Unruh (WorldNetDaily)
July 23, 2010
It’s just one more “fiber” of the U.S. Constitution, but if enough are torn, the document itself will unravel, according to a Washington-based faith organization that is chiding Barack Obama for repeatedly referring to the “freedom of worship” in the United States, when the Constitution actually calls for “freedom of religion.”
Officials with the Faith and Freedom Institute have dispatched a letter to the president, asking that he correct himself. […]
Dull told WND the change in terminology is significant. “Worship” usually is done behind the walls and closed doors of a building set aside for that purpose. “Religion,” on the other hand, includes the biblically mandated activity of declaring the Gospel to all nations. […]
Dull warned what one generation tolerates, the next generation promotes.
The idea that Christianity is perfectly fine behind closed doors of a church building – but not really acceptable any longer in the public square – is a recurring theme in the myriad lawsuits that have sprung up in recent years over statements offaith by public officials, ceremonial prayers in public meetings, Christian student groups at schools and colleges and other places and times when the nation’s Christian heritage traditionally has been recognized.
The issue also has arisen in the arguments over “hate crimes.” Legislation was signed by Obama last year that created penalties for making members of groups – specifically homosexuals – feel bad.
A well-known atheist once told him, Dull reported to WND, that he had no objection to Christians or people of other faiths practicing their religion as long as they remained behind closed doors.
Yes, Mr. Obama, Words Do Matter
by Frank Salvato (Family Security Matters)
July 23, 2010
As the public becomes used to hearing the change in rhetoric – from “Freedom of Religion” to “Freedom of Worship” – the intellectually disingenuous ofthe Progressive movement will start to capitalize on the change by redefining what the definition of the word “worship” means.
Freedom of religion vs. freedom of worship: Georgia woman faces mandated re-education
August 1, 2010
One reason that many observers are concerned about the administration’s choice of words is that religious freedom conflicts with another of Obama’s priorities: gay rights. Secretary Clinton hinted at this priority in a December 14, 2009 speech on human rights at Georgetown University in which she said that people “must be free to worship, associate, and to love in the way that they choose” (http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2009a/12/133544.htm).
One of President Obama’s appointees, Chai Feldblum, illustrates why people are right to be worried. Feldblum, an openly lesbian law professor at Georgetown University, was a recess appointment by President Obama to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on March 27, 2010. Feldblum has said that when it comes to a conflict between religious liberty and gay rights, “I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.” She continues, “Sexual liberty should win in most cases. There can be a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, but in almost all cases the sexual liberty should win because that’s the only way that the dignity of gay people can be affirmed in any realistic manner” […]. This is very troubling coming from a former law professor who is now ruling on discriminatory hiring practices!
My Take: President Obama’s assault on Americans’ first freedom
by Tony Perkins
August 16th, 2010
In international forums, President Obama and Secretary Clinton repeatedly have retreated to this “freedom of worship” formulation. This is no accident.
Now, President Obama’s representatives at the United Nations have shifted ground. The U.S. delegation to the U.N. recently spearheaded approval of the International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). This outfit has just been recognized as a non-governmental organization accredited to the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council.
It’s part of the Obama administration’s campaign to press the U.N. to affirm the homosexual lifestyle worldwide. For example, IGLHRC members refused to answer the following question put to them in the U.N. last June: Would a member of the clergy be prosecuted for human rights violations if he or she preached on the sinfulness of homosexuality? No response.
Their silence is deafening. No wonder the NO votes plus abstentions exceeded the YES votes for seating this radical group. Significantly, the Egyptian delegate noted that his questions had not been answered. He charged the IGLHRC with violating tenets of Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the U.N. Charter itself. (Coming from Egypt, itself a persistent violator of these U.N. documents, the charge must have stung.)
With President Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court, the potential erosion of religious liberty only increases. Ms. Kagan has argued that incorporating foreign law into U.S. Supreme Court rulings would be “a good idea.” She maintained in a legal brief that not only must U.S. institutions be barred from expressing disapproval of the homosexual lifestyle, but that a “society that tolerates (such) discrimination by its members is not a just society.”
To Kagan, any public disapproval of sexual relations between men and men or women and women, or any attempt to give preference to marriage as the union of one man and one woman, will inevitably be seen as a form of invidious discrimination-and must be banned.
America’s First Freedom–freedom of religion–is in danger of being hounded out of public life, expelled from the public square. The word to millions of believers–Evangelicals, Catholics, Lutherans, Orthodox Jews–is this: Be Amish or be quiet. Keep your quaint religious practices, mumble your odd prayers, but do so in private.
Think of the implications: You try sharing the Gospel with someone, and are accused of “hate speech” and told to be quiet. You have a Bible on your desk at work, and are told this is an aggressive display of a controversial faith–and to remove it. Your church has a float in the local Fourth of July parade and it’s denied admittance next year because someone says the float violates his or her private convictions.
The above examples are hypothetical, but here are three that have already happened:
–You express disapproval of homosexual conduct and are summarily dismissed from your counseling degree program. This has happened to Julea Ward at Eastern Michigan University, and Jennifer Keeton at Augusta State University is under the same threat.
–Say you are a wedding photographer. A same-sex couple comes through your door demanding you provide photos for their commitment ceremony. You politely decline, stating that your religious convictions prevent you from entering into that contract. And you are promptly hauled before a human rights council. This happened to Elaine Huguenin in New Mexico.
–You object to your kindergartener being propagandized with a book titled King and King, which details the romance between two imaginary royal young men. You find yourself arrested and jailed when you go to your son’s school to protest. This happened to David Parker in Massachusetts.
These things will become the norm in American life if the radical impulse to criminalize opposition to homosexuality is not thwarted.
As a candidate for president, Barack Obama pledged to bring “fundamental change” to America. He is doing that. Constitutional liberties that we have enjoyed for 219 years are being overthrown or reinterpreted with stunning speed.
Every poll shows Americans are resisting President Obama’s agenda. But many in the mainstream media largely downplay these questions, dismissing them as mere “wedge issues.”
For people of faith, these matters of faith and family go deeper. They are “bridge issues” that unite races and ethnicities, men and women, education and income groups.
The radical changes President Obama and his allies advocate threaten the America we love and the way we express our most deeply held moral and religious convictions. We will be neither silent nor inactive in the face of these challenges. With courtesy and civility but with unflinching determination, we will oppose them.
Freedom of religion vs. Obama’s ‘freedom of worship’
by Randy Bright (Tulsa Beacon)
August 19th, 2010
A building is a powerful communication tool. If that weren’t true, no one would object to the mosque at Ground Zero.
As such, a church building is a powerful expression of freedom of religion and because most people are familiar with the symbol of the cross, they get the message that Jesus died for us, even if they don’t totally understand why. We are free, at least for now, to place crosses on our churches.
Churches and cathedrals built in medieval days were elaborately decorated with statues and artworks that were used to teach the Bible to parishioners. In those days, few people were literate and they depended on the spoken word and visual images to learn.
In our times, the American public is learning less about the Gospel than ever before, so there is a great need for its expression through church architecture. The question is, how long will that be allowed? […]
If this paradigm shift does occur, and it becomes codified into law by legislature or by a liberal judge, how will this affect church architecture?
Perhaps the first thing that will occur is that we will have to remove anything of a religious nature from our church buildings, which will mean the removal of crosses. The impetus behind this will be that the new concept of community is that the exterior of our buildings belong to the public domain, simply because they can be seen by the public.
If liberals succeed in shifting the paradigm from freedom of religion to freedom of worship, it will likely mean that Christians and Jews will be required to limit their activities to the interior confines of the church building where they are not visible to those who aren’t among their ranks.
It is critical that churches, as well as synagogues, recognize the importance of maintaining a place in their communities, and that includes preserving their right of free expression through their architecture; but it is also important to remember that the Obama administration is intent upon gaining control over churches who are willing to participate in his “Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships” initiative.
There has never been a time in American history where our nation’s churches were in such peril, not just from our own government, but also from an increasingly secular society. Perhaps if we are willing to admit that the peril does indeed exist, Christians will become bold enough to fight for the freedom of religion that our Founders intended we should have.
By Dr. David R. Reagan
August 29, 2010
An Ominous Shift in Vocabulary
Realizing how important words are to Liberals in general and to the Obama Administration in particular, you can understand the widespread concern among Christian leaders that has sprung up recently concerning a very subtle but monumental shift in vocabulary within the Obama Administration regarding religious freedom in our nation. It all began in November of 2009 when President Obama spoke in Texas at the memorial service for the victims of the Fort Hood massacre. A few days later he did it again in speeches both in Japan and China. What he did was to substitute the expression “freedom of worship” for “freedom of religion.”5
This is an exceedingly important change in terminology. So important, in fact, that in May of this year, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom issued a report expressing grave concern about it.6
Here’s the point: freedom of religion includes freedom of worship, but freedom of worship does not include freedom of religion. Freedom of worship gives me the right to pray or read the Bible in the privacy of my home or church, but nothing beyond that. It does not include the freedom to share my faith with others. No freedom to hand out materials on the street or preach in a park. No freedom even to wear a cross around my neck or on my lapel.
Some commentators believe that one of Obama’s motives is to throw a sop to China and the Muslim world where freedom of religion is denied but private worship is allowed in some areas. They believe Obama is giving a signal to these nations that we are not going to do anything about their denial of freedom of religion. Others fear he is signaling to the secular leaders in this country that he plans to aide and abet them in their demands for a crackdown on public expressions of religion in our nation.7
Whatever the motives may be, the shift in vocabulary is monumental and must be monitored carefully.
Ralph Benko: Obama, liberals are defining devotion down and the First Amendment with it
By: Ralph Benko
August 31, 2010
President Obama’s recent formulation, “Freedom of Worship” has the religiously serious aghast. It telegraphs a subversion of faith — by defending a right not in question, the right to conduct religious feasts and fasts and ceremonies, and downgrading religion’s heart, values.
The First Amendment interdicts the making of laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion. The president now replaces a strong and constitutional word, “Religion,” with a weak and chic one, “Worship,” which is religion defined by esthetics, not ethics. Implication: the Constitution protects our steeples and liturgy, not religious values. […]
The political elites shamelessly are in the process of “defining devotion down” to liturgy — hey kids, totally up to you to decide whether the priest faces the altar or the congregation, knock yourselves out — and delegitimize the right to advocate for laws reflecting religiously informed values. A delegitimized right collapses, which is the objective of its adversaries.
Further info on the United Nations references in some of the above articles:
The UN Declaration of Human Rights protects “teaching, practice, worship and observance” but fails to protect public preaching.
“On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the full text of which appears in the following pages. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and “to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories.”
* Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
The United Nation’s 1981 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance uses the same approach on matters of religion.
“Proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 36/55 of 25 November 1981”
1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have a religion or whatever belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
2. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have a religion or belief of his choice.
3. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
Article 9 of the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms allows evangelism to be banned on the basis of protecting “public order.”
“The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) (formally the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) is an international treaty to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. Drafted in 1950 by the then newly formed Council of Europe, the convention entered into force on 3 September 1953.”
Article 9 – Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
2. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
“defamation of religion” resolution passed by the UN Human Rights Council in March of 2009.
UN Declaration of Principles on Tolerance
Barcelona Declaration on the Role of Religion in the Promotion of a Culture of Peace
In just a few weeks, the Human Rights Council will once more review the “defamation of religions” resolution in Geneva. The resolution, passed every year at the United Nations since 1999, claims that speech deemed offensive to another faith is a violation of international law. While the resolution is relatively toothless, it provides cover for domestic blasphemy laws used to restrict proselytism and religious speech around the world.
However, the Ad Hoc Committee on Complimentary Standards, a rogue UN body with a nebulous and expansive mandate, is currently reviewing a proposed amendment that would criminalize defamation of religion to the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), a treaty to which the United States is a signatory.
The UN Meddling with Religion, Part 1
UN Climate Change Summit (COP15) Copenhagen, December 2009
Church bells ringing out warning on climate change! pagan “Christian” church service complete with altar full of corn, coral, and rocks… Eco-fraud Rachel Carson and DDT, lots of Interfaithism, New Age, and Paganism
The UN Meddling with Religion, Part 2
United Nations World Urban Forum (WUF3) 2006 Vancouver
UN participants wanting to Rezone-Out Churches and Rezone-in Interfaith Community Centers? Thanks, U.N.! David Suzuki calling us maggots, whiny eco-gal Severn Suzuki, fun with paganism, burning a 14 foot demon effigy, the child-eating Rangda leads an army of evil witches!
The UN Meddling with Religion, Part 3
The Ground Zero Imam and Interfaith Explosion
The U.N., Glenn Beck, Temple of Understanding, Aspen Institute, reading the Koran in church, and the Ground Zero Imam… Soooo Interfaithy!!
The UN Meddling with Religion, Part 4
Obama/Hillary and Freedom of Religion vs. Freedom of Worship
What’s the deal with Obama’s use of “Freedom of Worship” instead of “Freedom of Religion”?
The UN Meddling with Religion, Part 5
Cathedral of St. John the Divine, NYC
The Grand Procession of the Ghouls, Blessing of the bicycles, the creepy Peace Fountain, The Peace Altar, Paul Winter’s Earth Mass and Summer/Winter Solstice concert, Blessing of the Animals, Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, The Temple of Understanding, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, William Irwin Thompson, The Lindisfarne Association, Madeleine L’Engle, Rev. James Parks Morton, United Nations Sunday, and Christa: a crucifix depicting Christ as a woman… and more!
The UN Meddling with Religion, Part 6
UN Climate Change Summit (COP16) Cancun, Nov/Dec 2010
The Invoking of Ixchel, lots of meditating/Circular Dancing/and Sacred Sunrise Ceremonies, Mayan Mania/drama at Chichen Itza/and a whole bunch of fun with Brahma Kumaris… Mother Earth is the lady of the hour and boy do those Indigenous Peoples sure know how to complain…
The U.N. Meddling with Religion, Part 7
1992 Earth Summit in Rio
Invoking Iemanja the “goddess” of the sea, Shirley MacLaine meditating with the Dalai Lama, John Denver crooning, Shamans threatening Bush Sr. with that Shamany thing they do best, drinking hallucinogenic tea, thanking bananas as they are eaten, Maurice Strong and his wife Hanne and her Wisdom Keepers keeping up a constant drumbeat throughout the proceedings, John Kerry (of Vietnam fame) making a love connection!
The U.N. Meddling with Religion, Part 8
Actual Evil Within the United Nations
Lucifer-revering New Age Theosophy/ the UN Meditation Room/ Lucis Publishing Company used to be named the Lucifer Publishing Company? Really??/ Theosophy groups meditating inside the UN Meditation Room according to the changing of the moon/ the Lucis Trust evil prayer The Great Invocation was once published in Reader’s Digest? Really??/ UN’s General Assembly room contains a being called The Avatar of Synthesis? Really??/ UN Catholic chapel and Interfaith chapel.
The U.N. Meddling with Religion, Part 9
Cooperation Circles and the United Religions Initiative
Bishop William Swing and his United Religions Initiative/webs of Interfaith Cooperation Circles/Wiccan Donald Frew and his traditional Wiccan foundation blessing while Bishop William Swing joins in and raises his arms in invocation. Sigh.
here are some Obama transcripts that I couldn’t decide if I should include:
from a transcript of Obama’s remarks at a Reception Honoring Elena Kagan’s Confirmation (August 6, 2010):
It is, to this day, a moving reminder that the work of our highest Court shapes not just the character of our democracy, but the most fundamental aspects of our daily lives — how we work, how we worship, whether we can speak freely and live fully, whether those words put to paper more than two centuries ago will truly mean something for each of us in our time.
Because as visionary as our founders were, they did not presume to know exactly how the times would change and what new questions fate and history would set before us. Instead, they sought to articulate principles that would be timeless — ones that would accommodate the changing circumstances of our lives while preserving the rights and freedoms on which this country was founded.
from a transcript of Obama’s remarks at a reception for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (August 12, 2009):
And with her extraordinary breadth and depth of experience, Justice Sotomayor brings to the Court both a mastery of the letter of the law and an understanding of how the law actually unfolds in our daily lives — its impact on how we work and worship and raise our families; on whether we have the opportunities we need to live the lives we imagine.
That understanding is vital for the work of a Supreme Court justice, as Justice Stevens and Justice Ginsburg will testify — the work of applying principles set forth at our founding to the cases and controversies of our time.
For as visionary as our founders were, they did not presume to know exactly how the times would change, what new questions fate and history would set before us. Instead, they sought to articulate ideals that would be timeless — ideals that would accommodate the ever-changing circumstances of our lives and preserve for each new generation our most sacred rights and freedoms.
and finally, here are a whole lotta Hillary Clinton transcripts:
from a transcript of Hillary’s remarks on the Persecution of Religious Minorities in Iran (August 12, 2010):
Freedom of religion is the birthright of people of all faiths and beliefs in all places. The United States is committed to defending religious freedom around the world, and we have not forgotten the Baha’i community in Iran. We will continue to speak out against injustice and call on the Iranian government to respect the fundamental rights of all its citizens in accordance with its international obligations.
from a transcript of Hillary’s remarks at The President’s Forum with Young African Leaders (August 3, 2010):
Every child, boy and girl, deserves to go as far as his or her God-given talents and potential and hard work will take that child. That means education is a right, not a luxury. It means that the best education must be made available to as many young people as possible. It means that every pregnant woman receives prenatal care and assistance for labor and delivery so the child that is brought into the world has a good start. It means that everyone has a safe environment – a house, a roof over one’s head, a fair wage for the work that is done, and that everyone is free to follow his or her conscience in religion and politics to express an opinion without fear of being marginalized, silenced, or worse. We believe that you have the talents, the determination and the ability to bring these dreams to fruition.
from a transcript of Hillary’s remarks at the Town Hall at Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, Kyiv, Ukraine (July 2, 2010):
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) (Inaudible) from the Institute of Religious Freedom. Dear Madam Secretary, you said – you talked about the values and their importance in building democracy. As we know, for the United States, freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom of faith, is very important for us – freedom of religion. A few weeks ago, in the United States there was a rotation in the Commission on International Religious Freedoms. Can you tell us how important the recommendations of this Commission is as to violation of religious rights in the world when you’re creating your politics, when the President is creating his politics? Does this influence your actions?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes it does. And thank you for raising that, because freedom of conscience, freedom of religion are so personally important to people. And we are absolutely committed to promoting and protecting religious freedom. We are getting, finally, our ambassador for religious freedom. We hope we’ll be confirmed by the Senate and we will be much more publicly engaged so you’ll be able to see the results of our work as we pursue the recommendations.
But as I look around the world, conflict over religion is one of the principal sources of death and distress and despair. On the way over here, I was editing a statement that I was putting out deploring the attack on a very sacred Sufi Islam shrine in Pakistan, because Sufi Islam is not the same as the radical, more extreme version practices by the terrorists and the groups that are attacking at mosques and schools in so many places in Pakistan. They literally blew up one of the holiest places in Sufi Islam, and it just made my heart sink.
We should do everything we can to protect the rights of people to worship or not as they choose. But instead, we see more and more conflicts where religion is either at the core or playing a role. And I hope that we can work together to try to promote and protect religious freedom because it’s a fundamental right, as recognized, certainly, by our founders in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
from a transcript of Hillary’s remarks regarding the nomination of Dr. Susan Johnson Cook as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom (June 15, 2010):
I welcome the nomination of Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook to be Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. Dr. Johnson Cook is an experienced religious leader with a passion for human rights and an impressive record of public service. President Obama could not have found a more fitting choice for this important position. I look forward to working with Dr. Johnson Cook, if she is confirmed, to bring greater focus to international efforts to ensure that people everywhere enjoy the global standards of religious freedom enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
from a transcript of Hillary’s remarks on the Release of the 10th Annual Trafficking in Persons Report (June 14, 2010):
In Global Affairs, the threat that unites many of the challenges that we face, from refugees to the environment to population, is that of human security. We uplift human security when we help refugees access food and clean water. We bolster human security when members of civil society seek freedom for speech or religious independence, and we elevate human security when we empower women to adapt for climate change. And yet this issue of human security is most at stake when presented with the horrific crime of complete depravation of liberty, freedom, and independence – the crime of human trafficking.
from a transcript of Hillary’s remarks At the American Jewish Committee Annual Gala Dinner, D.C. (April 29, 2010):
This organization for more than a century has been a voice for the aspirations of the Jewish people for a secure and democratic homeland. We saw the pictures flashing before us on the screen – the faces of those who have made Israel their home and those who have made America our home. You have fought for the core values that make this country great –equality and religious freedom, civil rights and women’s rights, a freer, fairer nation in which every child has the opportunity to live up to his or her God-given potential.
from a transcript of Hillary’s Testimony Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (February 24, 2010):
SENATOR DEMINT: One, and you’ve mentioned, and several others have mentioned, human rights. And I’ve long been a supporter of engagement with countries like China and trade with China, but it seems increasingly over the last year or two that human rights, religious freedom in China, Egypt, India, Vietnam, other countries, more and more reports that there is less religious tolerance, that there’s more problems. And perhaps that’s just a matter of what gets to the news, but I’m hearing from a lot of people directly in my office that are suggesting a deteriorating situation. […]
SECRETARY CLINTON: On human rights, I share your concern. It’s a kind of good news/bad news story. I mean, we see breakthroughs and positive actions, and then unfortunately we do get evidence of backsliding, discrimination, oppression, violence that is religiously based. We are working with a number of Muslim majority countries to devise an alternative to their proposal of defamation of religion, which we reject because we think that in a robust society, free expression should be protected. But we also recognize the sensitivity of criticizing or undermining the religious feelings and attitudes of people. So we’re looking to see if there is a way to come up with a resolution that will suit our constitutional concerns. And we’re working hard with a number of countries to do that. But we speak out vigorously against human rights abuses, and in particular, religious freedom and discrimination complaints, and we’ll continue to do so.
from a transcript of Hillary’s Remarks to the US-Islamic World Forum, Doha, Qatar (February 14, 2010):
But beyond any of these programs or partnerships—beyond national security or economic growth—we have to look at the intangible rights endowed to all human beings that provide a strong foundation for broad-based progress and greater understanding. And that is the fifth and final issue that I wish to address. Among them are the right to practice the religion of your choice freely; to have a say in your government and be treated fairly under the law; and the right to equality for women and girls. Like many nations, the United States cherishes these rights, in part because we’ve had our own challenges in protecting and advancing them. And we seek to be a partner to people in other countries as they strive to obtain these rights for themselves.
This year, we rejoined the United Nations Human Rights Council. And one of our first acts was to work with Egypt on a Freedom of Expression resolution—a much-needed declaration of principle at a time when that freedom is jeopardized by new efforts to constrain religious practice. Respect for different faiths is essential to the success of pluralistic societies, as is the right to speak freely. So we stand for the vigorous defense of both freedom of religion and expression, and believe that the best way to promote tolerance and respect for all religions is through legal protections against discrimination and hate crimes, along with outreach to minority religious groups, and public education campaigns. That is why we are now working with countries on the Human Rights Council to put forth an affirmative agenda that will help make these principles a reality.
from a transcript of Hillary’s Keynote Address at the 58th National Prayer Breakfast, Washington Hilton Hotel, Washington D.C. (February 4, 2010):
We are committed, not only to reaching out and speaking up about the perversion of religion, and in particularly the use of it to promote and justify terrorism, but also seeking to find common ground. We are working with Muslim nations to come up with an appropriate way of demonstrating criticism of religious intolerance without stepping over into the area of freedom of religion or non-religion and expression. So there is much to be done, and there is a lot of challenging opportunities for each of us as we leave this prayer breakfast, this 58th prayer breakfast.
from a transcript of Hillary’s Remarks on Internet Freedom at the Newseum in D.C. (January 21, 2010):
Franklin Roosevelt built on these ideas when he delivered his Four Freedoms speech in 1941. Now, at the time, Americans faced a cavalcade of crises and a crisis of confidence. But the vision of a world in which all people enjoyed freedom of expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear transcended the troubles of his day. And years later, one of my heroes, Eleanor Roosevelt, worked to have these principles adopted as a cornerstone of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They have provided a lodestar to every succeeding generation, guiding us, galvanizing us, and enabling us to move forward in the face of uncertainty. […]
The freedom of expression may be the most obvious freedom to face challenges with the spread of new technologies, but it is not the only one. The freedom of worship usually involves the rights of individuals to commune or not commune with their Creator. And that’s one channel of communication that does not rely on technology. But the freedom of worship also speaks to the universal right to come together with those who share your values and vision for humanity. In our history, those gatherings often took place in churches, synagogues, mosques and temples. Today, they may also take place on line.
The internet can help bridge divides between people of different faiths. As the President said in Cairo, freedom of religion is central to the ability of people to live together. And as we look for ways to expand dialogue, the internet holds out such tremendous promise. We’ve already begun connecting students in the United States with young people in Muslim communities around the world to discuss global challenges. And we will continue using this tool to foster discussion between individuals from different religious communities. […]
Now, just as these technologies must not be used to punish peaceful political speech, they must also not be used to persecute or silence religious minorities. Now, prayers will always travel on higher networks. But connection technologies like the internet and social networking sites should enhance individuals’ ability to worship as they see fit, come together with people of their own faith, and learn more about the beliefs of others. We must work to advance the freedom of worship online just as we do in other areas of life.
from a transcript of Hillary’s Remarks on the Human Rights Agenda for the 21st Century (December 14, 2009):
To fulfill their potential, people must be free to choose laws and leaders; to share and access information, to speak, criticize, and debate. They must be free to worship, associate, and to love in the way that they choose. And they must be free to pursue the dignity that comes with self-improvement and self-reliance, to build their minds and their skills, to bring their goods to the marketplace, and participate in the process of innovation. Human rights have both negative and positive requirements. People should be free from tyranny in whatever form, and they should also be free to seize the opportunities of a full life. That is why supporting democracy and fostering development are cornerstones of our 21st century human rights agenda. […]
We are also working for positive change within multilateral institutions. They are valuable tools that, when in their best, leverage the efforts of many countries around a common purpose. So we have rejoined the UN Human Rights Council not because we don’t see its flaws, but because we think that participating gives us the best chance to be a constructive influence.
In our first session, we cosponsored the successful resolution on Freedom of Expression, a forceful declaration of principle at a time when that freedom is jeopardized by new efforts to constrain religious practice, including recently in Switzerland, and by efforts to criminalize the defamation of religion – a false solution which exchanges one wrong for another. And in the United Nations Security Council, I was privileged to chair the September session where we passed a resolution mandating protections against sexual violence in armed conflict. […]
The United States seeks positive relationships with China and Russia, and that means candid discussions of divergent views. In China, we call for protection of rights of minorities in Tibet and Xinxiang; for the rights to express oneself and worship freely; and for civil society and religious organizations to advocate their positions within a framework of the rule of law. And we believe strongly that those who advocate peacefully for reform within the constitution, such as Charter 2008 signatories, should not be prosecuted.
from a transcript of Hillary’s remarks Honoring the Visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (November 5, 2009):
I particularly appreciate what he did in the aftermath of 9/11, when he united leaders from across the religious spectrum to condemn the terrorist attacks and call for harmony among the world’s faithful. His campaign on behalf of religious freedom and peaceful coexistence has helped to bridge divides among believers. And the United States has been proud to support his calls for religious tolerance, both in Turkey and around the world. It is one of the reasons that President Obama and I have been so vocal about the need to reopen Halki Seminary and protect the rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. (Applause.) We have raised these issues repeatedly and publically, and will continue to do so until they are addressed.
from a transcript of Hillary’s Remarks on the Release of the 2009 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom (October 26, 2009):
Well, good afternoon, everyone. I feel honored to be here today to announce the publication of the State Department’s 2009 Report on International Religious Freedom. The right to profess, practice, and promote one’s religious beliefs is a founding principle of our nation. In fact, many of our earliest settlers came because they wanted the freedom to practice their own religion without a state interfering or oppressing that practice. It is the first liberty mentioned in our Bill of Rights, and it is a freedom guaranteed to all people in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
I want to underscore that, because this is not just an American value. This was agreed to be a universal value. Religious freedom provides a cornerstone for every healthy society. It empowers faith-based service. It fosters tolerance and respect among different communities. And it allows nations that uphold it to become more stable, secure and prosperous. As President Obama said in Cairo, freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. These facts underlie our commitment to the cause of religious freedom. That’s why we make the issue of religious freedom a priority in our diplomacy, and this annual report is the centerpiece of our efforts.
Every year, the staff of our office of International Religious Freedom works with our embassies overseas and experts here in Washington to produce the world’s most comprehensive survey of religious freedom. This report examines how governments in 198 countries and territories are protecting or failing to protect religious freedom. It shines a spotlight on abuses by states and societies, and it draws attention to positive steps by many countries and organizations to promote freedom and interreligious harmony.
The President has emphasized that faith should bring us together, and this year’s report has a special focus on efforts to promote interfaith dialogue and tolerance. We commend, for example, the Philippines leadership in the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace at the United Nations. We commend Jordan’s role in initiating the common word dialogue and many other international and domestic initiatives. The United States is also expanding programs that work to bridge the divide between religious groups. These important efforts build on the shared values and common concerns of faith communities to sow the seeds of lasting peace.
I obviously believe that our country has been strengthened by its long tradition of religious pluralism. From the largest denominations to the very smallest congregations, American religious bodies and faith-based organizations have helped to create a more just and compassionate society. Now, some claim that the best way to protect the freedom of religion is to implement so-called anti-defamation policies that would restrict freedom of expression and the freedom of religion. I strongly disagree. The United States will always seek to counter negative stereotypes of individuals based on their religion and will stand against discrimination and persecution.
But an individual’s ability to practice his or her religion has no bearing on others’ freedom of speech. The protection of speech about religion is particularly important since persons of different faiths will inevitably hold divergent views on religious questions. These differences should be met with tolerance, not with the suppression of discourse.
Based on our own experience, we are convinced that the best antidote to intolerance is not the defamation of religion’s approach of banning and punishing offensive speech, but rather, a combination of robust legal protections against discrimination and hate crimes, proactive government outreach to minority religious groups, and the vigorous defense of both freedom of religion and expression.
So it is our hope that the International Religious Freedom Report will encourage existing religious freedom movements around the world and promote dialogue among governments and within societies on how best to accommodate religious communities and protect each individual’s right to believe or not believe, as that individual sees fit.
from a transcript of Hillary’s Remarks at Swearing-In Ceremony for Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (October 19, 2009):
Now, he’s wasted no time in getting to work. We had this little interlude of confirmation to get through. (Laughter.) But as soon as it was completed, literally, he was on a plane, going to lead the first ever U.S. delegation to the UN Human Rights Council. Our team there under Mike’s leadership not only made significant progress on women’s rights and human security issues, but co-sponsored a successful resolution with Egypt upholding freedom of expression and freedom of religion. And Mike went on to Warsaw to present the Obama Administration’s proposal for advancing the “Human Dimension” of the Helsinki process. I think I only talked to him two times during that period, because I had great confidence that he would indeed be successful as we rejoined the Human Rights Council and it exceeded our expectations.
from a transcript of Hillary’s Remarks at the Annual State Department Iftaar Dinner (September 15, 2009):
Sometimes we do these deeds alone, sometimes we do them with partners. Here in America, we have often partnered with others who may not be of our faith, but who have the same principles of humanity and the same desires to make our world stronger. This is, after all, a country that has always celebrated our religious diversity and freedom. When the earliest European settlers appeared off the coast of my home state of Massachusetts in the Mayflower, they were drawn to this land’s shores for the freedom to pray and worship as they please. Since then, generation after generation have poured into the country seeking similar freedom, and prayed in scores of different languages. […]
It is not just that this Department has benefited. The nearly 7 million Muslims in our country have enriched our culture, have made it stronger because of the contributions that many of you and others across America have given to us. Tonight’s celebration is just one way to underscore those ideals. It is, as Farah so eloquently said, an important demonstration of the ability of those of us here in our country to practice our religion without fear of persecution. It is enshrined in our Constitution. And we believe and will defend the freedom of religion.
from a transcript of Hillary’s Remarks Upon Receipt of the Roosevelt Institute’s Four Freedoms Award at the Roosevelt Institute’s Four Freedoms Medals Gala Dinner (September 11, 2009):
Similarly, we wish to stand firmly on the side of the freedom of religion. As President Obama noted in his historic speech in Cairo, faith should bring us together. That’s why we have welcomed international efforts such as Turkey and Spain’s leadership in the Alliance of Civilizations. It’s one of the reasons that on my first trip as Secretary of State I visited Indonesia – the world’s most populous Muslim country and a secular democracy. It’s why we are encouraging people of different religions to come together not only in dialogue, but in service. In projects ranging from Malaria prevention in Africa to disaster assistance in South Asia, we are laying a foundation for good works – and good relations – among the world’s religious communities.
Learning to respect the faith of our neighbors should be the price of admission into the 21st century. Now, in some cases, threats to religious freedom come from authoritarian regimes. Some Eritreans have been imprisoned in shipping containers for seeking to practice their non-violent beliefs. In others cases, bias and discrimination by majorities toward minority faiths or hateful ideologies can threaten the freedom of belief. So we must speak out forcefully against these wrongs wherever they exist.
Now, some claim that the United Nations can best protect the freedom of religion by adopting what is called an “anti-defamation” policy that would restrict the freedom of expression and the freedom of religion. I, obviously, strongly disagree. An individual’s ability to practice their religion should have no bearing on others individuals’ freedom of speech. The protection of speech about religion is particularly important since persons of different faiths will inevitably hold divergent views on religious questions. And these differences should be met with tolerance, not suppression of discourse. And the United States will stand against the idea of defamation of religion in the United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Council. (Applause.) […]
So these four freedoms are not just a celebration of the past. They are a reminder and a challenge of what is expected of us. Now, after President Roosevelt’s speech, another son of New York, Norman Rockwell, created those four iconic paintings that you have seen on the screen. It took seven months of non-stop work during which he lost 15 pounds. If I had any artistic talent, I would try to follow that model. (Laughter.) And when Rockwell was finished, the Treasury Department sent his paintings on a tour around the country in a successful effort to encourage the purchase of war bonds. And the paintings were accompanied by essays on each of the four freedoms. And one of them sought to remind Americans what they were fighting for. And here’s what it said:
“When we yield our sons,” and we would add today ‘and daughters’ “to war, it is in the trust that their sacrifice will bring to us and our allies no inch of alien soil, no selfish monopoly of the world’s resources or trade, but only the privilege of winning for all peoples the most precious gifts in the orbit of life—freedom of body and soul, of movement and enterprise, of thought and utterance, of faith and worship, of hope and charity, of a humane fellowship with all [humankind].”
from a transcript of Hillary’s remarks with Indonesian Foreign Minister Noer Hassan Wirajuda After Their Meeting (June 8, 2009):
Indonesia is now the world’s third largest democracy, and it is taking the lead on a broad range of regional and international issues, including the promotion of democracy. Through their commitment to democracy, religious freedom, and women’s rights, Indonesians uphold the values that President Obama described in his speech last week in Cairo, values that are fundamental – fundamental to Indonesia and the United States: justice, progress, tolerance.
Earlier today, I met with activists working to support democracy and human rights across the Middle East and North Africa, as well as with leaders who are advocating for religious freedom across the world. And for all who work hard and risk a great deal to stand up for these universal values, the example of Indonesia gives hope and confidence of a brighter future.
from a transcript of Hillary’s Remarks With Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (June 5, 2009):
And so we ranged across a broad number of issues, and I want to just make a special note. As President Obama said yesterday in Cairo, the United States is committed to broad engagement with Muslims everywhere across the globe based on mutual interests and mutual respect. We believe strongly in the freedom of religion and expression, in vibrant civil societies, and we know that those are values that Turkey shares.
from a transcript of Hillary’s remarks at a Town Hall Marking Women’s History Month at the Department of State (March 12, 2009):
These women understand that the struggle for women’s rights in the 21st century is no longer limited to fighting for the ballot, or equal pay for equal work, or the end of the cancer known as domestic violence, or the right to speak out, or the right to worship or associate. All of these items are critical and necessary, but they are no longer sufficient. In order to secure the full spectrum of women’s rights, we have to create economic opportunity and economic security. It is essential that we improve access to healthcare and that we protect Mother Earth from our assaults, so that we can guarantee a better future, and that we do all that we can to help improve education so that we will have more allies and partners and fewer adversaries.
from a transcript of Hillary’s remarks at the 2009 International Women of Courage Awards (March 11, 2009):
Earlier today I met with Foreign Minister Yang of China and conveyed to him, as I do in my meetings with all other leaders, that it is our view in the Obama Administration that every nation seeking to lead in the international community must not only live by, but help shape the global rules that will determine whether people do enjoy the rights to live freely and participate fully. The peace, prosperity and progress that we know are best served and best serve human beings come when there is freedom to speak out, to worship, to go to school, enjoy access to health care, live and work with dignity. […]
I’ve met a lot of people, particularly women, who have risked their lives – from women being oppressed by the Taliban in Afghanistan, to mothers seeking to end the violence in Northern Ireland, to citizens working for freedom of religion in Uzbekistan, and NGOs struggling to build civil society in Slovakia, to grassroots advocates working to end human trafficking in Asia and Africa, and local women in India and Bangladesh, Chile, Nicaragua, Vietnam and many other places who are leading movements for economic independence and empowerment.
from a transcript of Hillary’s remarks: The State Department’s 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights (February 25, 2009):
Our foreign policy must also advance these timeless values which empower people to speak, think, worship and assemble freely, to lead their work and family lives with dignity, and to know that dreams of a brighter future are within their reach. Now, the promotion of human rights is essential to our foreign policy, but as a personal aside, I have worked for many years and in various capacities on the issues that are encompassed under the rubric: human rights. It is of profound importance to me and has informed my views and shaped my beliefs in ways large and small.
from a transcript of Hillary’s remarks with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (February 21, 2009):
In engaging China on a broad range of challenges, we will have frank discussions on issues where we have disagreements, including human rights, Tibet, religious freedom, and freedom of expression. The promotion of human rights is an essential aspect of our global foreign policy, and something we discussed candidly with the Chinese leadership.
from a transcript of Hillary’s Remarks During a Roundtable With Traveling Press, Seoul, South Korea (February 20, 2009):
Now, that doesn’t mean that questions of Taiwan and Tibet and human rights, the whole range of challenges that we often engage on with the Chinese are not part of the agenda either. But we pretty much know what they’re going to say. We know that we’re going to press them to reconsider their position about Tibetan religious and cultural freedom, and autonomy for the Tibetans and some kind of recognition or acknowledgment of the Dalai Lama. […]
So I think it’s fair to say that I come with a full agenda. But it’s also, I think, fair to say we know, kind of, what the dialogue is on these others. We don’t know yet how we’re going to engage on the global economic crisis and the global climate change crisis and these security issues. So if we talk more about those, it’s in large measure because that’s where the opportunity for engagement is. And that doesn’t mean that we have any lesser concern about the need for China to be more willing to recognize and protect the human rights of people, from free speech and freedom of religion to everything else.
from a transcript of Hillary’s Interview with Andrea Mitchell of NBC, Tokyo, Japan (February 17, 2009):
No. Human rights will always be on the agenda that the United States has with any nation. I will be meeting with some of the women that are leading the way for changes in China, some of whom I have met with before. I’ll be attending church because I believe so strongly in freedom of religion. I have spoken out in the speech that I gave at the Asia Society last week about the importance of that.
from a transcript of Hillary’s remarks at the Asia Society on U.S.-Asia Relations: Indispensable to Our Future (February 13, 2009):
And we are ready to listen. Actively listening to our partners isn’t just a way of demonstrating respect. It can also be a source of ideas to fuel our common efforts. Too often in the recent past, our government has acted reflexively before considering available facts and evidence, or hearing the perspectives of others. But President Obama and I are committed to a foreign policy that is neither impulsive nor ideological, one that values what others have to say. And when we have differences, which we will, we will discuss them frankly and specify those which limit our capacity to cooperate. As part of our dialogues, we will hold ourselves and others accountable as we work to expand human rights and create a world that respects those rights, one where Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi can live freely in her own country, where the people of North Korea can freely choose their own leaders, and where Tibetans and all Chinese people can enjoy religious freedom without fear of prosecution.