Monday, July 27, 2020
Faith Under Siege
Late Friday, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal challenging Nevada's onerous restrictions on in-person church services. While the state has allowed businesses such as casinos and movie theaters to accommodate customers up to 50% of normal capacity, the state has capped in-person church services to no more than 50 people, regardless of the church's capacity.
It's an obvious double standard by the state, and an outrageous decision by the Supreme Court. The four left-wing justices voted exactly as expected. Sadly, Chief Justice John Roberts, appointed by President George W. Bush, joined them and continues to become more unreliable.
In many respects, Friday's decision essentially ignores the First Amendment's guarantee of religious liberty. State governments are now treating churches as if they have fewer constitutional protections than other institutions.
As a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, I would not be surprised at all to hear that communist China was restricting church attendance. But as an American citizen, I am shocked to hear it is happening in this country.
This issue proves yet again just how important the courts are. Thankfully, four justices were willing to overturn Nevada's discriminatory order. In a brilliant dissent, Justice Neil Gorsuch declared:
"In Nevada, it seems, it is better to be in entertainment than religion. Maybe that is nothing new. But the First Amendment prohibits such obvious discrimination against the exercise of religion. The world we inhabit today, with a pandemic upon us, poses unusual challenges. But there is no world in which the Constitution permits Nevada to favor Caesars Palace over Calvary Chapel."
Pastors Take A Stand
There's a similar battle brewing in California, where a number of pastors, including John MacArthur, Jack Hibbs and Greg Fairrington, are defying Governor Gavin Newsom's order to shut down again. These churches have instituted safeguards to keep their congregants safe, but Newsom doesn't care.
I want to commend these pastors for taking such a bold stand. But I'm sure Pastor MacArthur probably realizes the irony here. Historically, he has not been known for advocating Christian activism in elections or public policy. Perhaps if more pastors in California had stood up in recent years, they would not have to petition a governor who couldn't care less about religious liberty.
Some have suggested, as even Pastor MacArthur did in his statement, that "the Lord may be using these pressures as a means of purging to reveal the true church."
Well, if you're looking for God's hand in something, you can't come up with a better scenario than the Supreme Court deciding that Caesars Palace has more protection than Calvary Chapel. But as men and women of faith we know that Calvary overcame Caesar many centuries ago, and it will do so again.
Trump Takes Action
Something else happened on Friday that got very little attention: President Trump issued a series of executive orders designed to lower prescription drug prices. The orders will:
- Help to lower the price of insulin provided by federal community health centers.
- Allow states and pharmacies to import cheaper drugs from Canada and other countries.
- Require pharmacy benefit managers that negotiate lower drug prices with major insurers to pass on those savings directly to Medicare beneficiaries.
- Require Medicare to purchase drugs at the same prices paid by other countries.
In his remarks, the president said, "Some very rich people are not going to like me very much today." Trump blasted the unfair system that has made middlemen very rich while "U.S. taxpayers are effectively subsidizing the socialist healthcare systems of foreign welfare states."
Last week, President Trump also ordered the Census Bureau to exclude illegal immigrants from the congressional reapportionment process. This is just common sense, but too many politicians have been unwilling to take on the open borders lobby and defend our sovereignty.
The Left Insults Law Enforcement
The turmoil in our cities continued over the weekend, particularly in Portland. At least six federal officers were injured after another weekend of violent riots in Portland, while nearly 60 Seattle police officers were injured. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to condemn the violence, but she did condemn federal law enforcement personnel as "stormtroopers."
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf said on Fox News over the weekend that he has been called up to the Hill by multiple left-wing critics. In all those meetings, only once did a liberal member of Congress inquire about the health and safety of his officers.
More news broke over the weekend regarding "Russiagate." We now know that the primary source of the Christopher Steele's debunked dossier was Igor Danchenko, a former researcher at the Brookings Institution. This is important for several reasons.
It again shows just how flimsy the entire FBI investigation of the Trump campaign truly was. Steele's primary source wasn't feeding him first-hand information from Moscow, as the FBI and the media have alleged.
The Brookings Institution is a left-leaning think tank that until 2017 was led by Strobe Talbott, a close ally of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Rep. Devin Nunezbelieves there is evidence that Talbott was instrumental in disseminating the dossier around Washington, D.C.
Again, this has all the markings of a political hit job, not a serious national security matter. So, the obvious question is why the FBI continued to pursue it, even once it was clear the dossier was junk and that Trump's political opponents were behind it.
Sen. Lindsey Graham said yesterday that more is going to be revealed in the days ahead. "Here is what I think I'm going to be able to show to the public," Graham said. "Not only did the FBI lie to the [FISA] court about the reliability about the Steele dossier, they also lied to Congress. And that is a separate crime."