Thursday, October 08, 2015
A U.S. senator who co-chairs the Congressional Prayer Caucus wants to know why President Barack Obama's actions don't match his words when it comes to promoting religious freedom.
The president just appointed a special envoy for religious minorities in the Near East and south central Asia, five months after members of Congress urged him to do so.
Now, Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford is concerned the position isn't being given the same gravitas as other envoys.
In a letter to President Obama he writes, "Within the State Department there are special envoys for climate change, the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, to promote the human rights of LGBT persons, and to promote Islamic cooperation.... most special envoys... report directly to you. It is my understanding the special adviser for religious minorities... will report to Ambassador Saperstein" (Ambassador Saperstein is the nation's Ambassador At-Large for International Religious Freedom).
You can read Sen. Lankford's full letter here.
This is just the latest grievance against President Obama when it comes to religious freedom.
Republican presidential candidate Gov. Mike Huckabee recently chided the president for bending over backwards to accommodate Muslims detained at Guantanamo Bay while turning his back on Christians who feel his administration is trampling on their religious freedoms.
"I'm just looking at the realities and saying, 'Could you show us a little love here?' If you really say you love us and you're one of us, give us a little affection," Huckabee told The Brody File.
We're seven years into Obama's administration and people still doubt his Christian faith. Recent polling shows 30 percent of Americans and nearly half of Republicans believe the president is Muslim.
Part of this disconnect is the Obama administration's disregard for the conscience of Christians when it comes to making policy. Remember the birth control mandate in Obamacare?
Sen. Lankford is asking the president to respond to his concerns by the end of the month.
Friday, September 18, 2015
Have you had a chance to see any of the blood moons that have decorated the heavens over the past year?
Blood moons are a somewhat common. What's rare is so many of them appearing so close together forming what's called a tetrad.
CBN's Erick Stakelbeck first reported on blood moons more than a year ago and his story went viral. It's been viewed more than a million times.
We wondered why Erick decided to cover blood moons and why he thinks so many people are interested.
Historically blood moon tetrads have coincided with major events for Israel and the Jewish people.
"I don't believe in coincidences" Erick says. "Fasten your seat belts."
Don't miss this Beltway Buzz Video Short with Erick Stakelbeck discussing blood moons.
Have you photographed any of the blood moons? We'd love to see your pictures and feature them here on Beltway Buzz.
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Want to learn more? Here are Erick Stakelbeck's news stories about the blood moons.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
No matter what he says on the campaign trail or how little he offers about his policy positions, Trump keeps rising in the polls. He's certainly broken the mold for presidential candidates.
As we prepare to watch the 2nd GOP presidential debate, we can only wonder what he'll say or how many million viewers will tune in to find out. It's like an episode of "Duck Dynasty" at its ratings peak.
As journalists we get to see presidential candidates behind the scenes before the lights are on and the cameras start rolling.
CBN News video journalist Mark Bautista covers Trump so we asked him to give us some insights into the man making all the headlines.
Don't miss this Beltway Buzz Video Short.
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Friday, September 11, 2015
Kim Davis' refusal to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples and her subsequent jailing raised many questions about the constitutional protection of conscience and the rule of law.
For clarity, we turned to a man who has dedicated his career to these issues, Dr. Russell Moore. He's the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission at the Southern Baptist Convention. He's also the author of several books, including Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel.
Here's this week's Beltway Buzz video short. Enjoy!
Friday, September 04, 2015
A clerk in Kentucky was jailed this week for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.
It's an example of the many new roads under construction as Christians learn how to practice their faith alongside new constitutional rights that conflict with the Bible.
In the discussions that followed Kim Davis' detention, one of the things that stood out was the response of White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.
Here's the question he was asked by a reporter, followed by his response.
QUESTION: Kim Davis is taken into custody in Kentucky. Has this been a conversation in the White House that the president has taken a part in? Does he have a message for her -- or anything that he said to you or anyone else about his thoughts on this matter?
MR. EARNEST: I have not spoken to him about this particular matter. I'm obviously limited in what I can say given the ongoing court activity. I will just say on principle that the success of our democracy depends on the rule of law. And there is no public official that is above the rule of law. Certainly not the president of the United States. But neither is the Rowan county clerk. That's a principle that is enshrined in our Constitution and in our democracy. And it's one that obviously the courts are seeking to uphold.
Many Americans agree that public officials are not above "the rule of law," but where this White House is concerned, there seems to be a double standard. Just take the issue of same sex marriage. In 2011, President Obama, an elected official, decided to stop defending the federal law known as the Defense of Marriage Act.
After reflection, and as his personal views on same sex marriage "evolved," he determined parts of the law to be unconstitutional. It was a law passed by an elected Congress and signed by an elected president, but President Obama decided it was a bad law and stopped defending it.
Fast forward to today, Kim Davis, an elected official, decides she can't hand out marriage licenses to same sex couples because the new federal definition of marriage violates her conscience.
Using Earnest's logic, in both situations, elected officials found themselves above the rule of law.
There's no doubt the intersection of religion and politics will be a confusing and messy place going forward. Earnest was asked about that, too, this week.
QUESTION: Where does church and state -- the separation of church and state fall in this broad issue of this new road we're traveling down with same-sex marriage?
MR. EARNEST: Well, ultimately, I think this is something that the courts will weigh in on. But as I mentioned earlier, I think the issue that's at stake right now -- and I think this is a view that has already been expressed by a federal judge -- is the question of rule of law. And every public official in our democracy is subject to the rule of law. No one is above the law. That applies to the president of the United States, and that applies to the county clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, as well. nd that's a fundamental principle of our democracy.
Friday, August 28, 2015
When we hit a mile marker like the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, it’s a reminder of how quickly time flies. Seemingly, everyone responds with surprise: “It has been 10 years already?”
In this edition of Beltway Buzz, Jennifer Wishon and John Jessup discuss their reporting in New Orleans and the surrounding area on the tenth anniversary of the most costly natural disaster in U.S. history – along with their impression of the progress that has been made – and how far there's left to go.
Special Report: 10 Years After Katrina: Resurrection Story - What Survivors Want You to Know
Life in the Fishbowl: Is New Orleans Storm Ready?
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Beltway Buzz is beginning a new video segment. When news breaks or complex issues emerge, we're attempting to flesh them out through interviews and informal discussions. These videos will be short, but we intend them to be meaningful.
As journalists we're deeply affected by the senseless shooting deaths of WDBJ7 reporter Alison Parker and videographer Adam Ward. It's especially personal to Jennifer Wishon who worked at WDBJ7 for many years and still has many friends who work there.
"The ability to report, the ability to cover the stories we do, requires us to imagine or act as if we are not a part of them....are just invisible observers. Today that wall was completely shattered," posted WRVA radio reporter Matt Demlein and he couldn't be more right.
As CBN News video journalist Mark Bautista points out in our first video, in the news business, "We're all Alison's and Adam's."
Monday, August 24, 2015
President Barack Obama is back at work this week after a two-week vacation in Martha's Vineyard, which included a little time on the beach and a lot of time on the links.
His first action back in the saddle is pushing for more alternative horse power for ordinary home and business owners. Basically, if you want to more green energy options for your house, the president wants to make them more available and affordable.
At a clean energy conference in Las Vegas, he announced making $1 billion in additional loan guarantees available from the Department of Energy to encourage innovation designed to give Americans more energy options, like greater access to rooftop solar panels.
He also announced new guidance from the Federal Housing Administration that could expand the use of "Property Assessed Clean Energy," or "PACE," loans that let homeowners install energy improvements and pay back the costs over time.
The president is also approving a transmission line to California's Blythe Mesa plant that's expected to produce enough renewable energy to power more than 145,000 homes.
It's all the next step in the president's clean power plan rules he announced last month that are designed to cut carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants by one third.
The annual energy conference is hosted by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.
Countering Reid's conference, also in Las Vegas, is an "affordable energy summit." The conservative groups running that event contend Obama's policies will only cause electricity prices to skyrocket while providing little to no environmental benefits.
Question: If more alternative energy sources were available for your home or business would you invest in them?
Tuesday, August 04, 2015
Hours after the failed vote to slash $550 million of taxpayer money from the ledger of Planned Parenthood, the group responsible for turning up the heat on the nation's largest abortion provider released its fifth undercover video -- and promised more to come. It shows the drive to deprive Planned Parenthood of federal funding is far from over.
After Monday's unsuccessful vote, 53-45, there are growing calls for a government shutdown to force the issue. And past critics, like Arizona Sen. John McCain, are singing a different tune after a series of videos recently released by the Center for Medical Progress showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of aborted baby body parts.
"I don't like a government shutdown," McCain told NPR. "But this is a clear case of totally improper use of taxpayers' dollars. I have an obligation to the taxpayers of Arizona."
Watch Sen. James Lankford discuss possible next steps to defund Planned Parenthood
The effort to defund Planned Parenthood has ricocheted from the Beltway to the Bayou State, where Gov. Bobby Jindal, a GOP presidential hopeful, announced the cancellation of Louisiana Medicaid contracts with Planned Parenthood. Jindal, following the lead of Florida Gov. Rick Scott, has also ordered an investigation into the abortion provider's activities in Louisiana.
To date, Planned Parenthood unequivocally denies making a profit on the harvesting or transfer of fetal tissue. Its defenders call the undercover investigation a "smear campaign." And Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, a longtime ally, released an eleventh hour campaign video in the run up to the Senate vote saying she was proud to stand with Planned Parenthood against the "full-on assault on women's health."
All of this comes at a time when Americans' perception of institutions is at record lows: 28 percent have a positive view of the Republican party, 38 percent think positively of the Democratic party, while 45 percent have a generally positive view of Planned Parenthood.
That's higher than the public perception of the Supreme Court, which stands at 39 percent, according to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
Here's the problem. Clearly, these videos are damaging and have exposed Planned Parenthood to new, emboldened attacks. Even if you support its defense that the videos are "heavily edited," you have to admit what it does show -- Planned Parenthood officials speaking casually, candidly, and flippantly about the payment of fetal tissue in exchange for a Lamborghini, even if it was said in jest -- sounds callous and heartless and is nothing short of damning.
Planned Parenthood should be in crisis mode. Sure, 45 percent is better than the standing of Republicans or Democrats, but it's still less than half. And the videos aren't helping.
At the very least, it should acknowledge that there's a major perception of wrongdoing based upon the very words and actions of its staff. It should concede that the videos clearly capture failures either in understanding or complying with the letter and spirit of the law. (While it is not illegal to collect reiumbsement fees for expenses in collecting fetal tissue, it is illegal to profit from its sale.)
Watch George Thomas' revealing report and analysis from ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow
(Caution: graphic footage)
If Planned Parenthood has nothing to hide and fully believes that it hasn't engaged in any wrongdoing, then it should offer an open and thorough review of its standards and practices to determine whether these incidents caught on camera are isolated or systemic.
If it's the former, then there's a whole lot less to lose. If it's the latter, then it's a totally different story and one whose wounds may be fatally self inflicted by its own lack of outrage.
Wednesday, July 01, 2015
As you know, much to the dismay and outrage of many Americans, the White House was lit up like a rainbow on the night following the Supreme Court ruling that made gay marriage legal in all 50 states.
As same sex marriage supporters reveled outside the gate, President Barack Obama was looking out from inside.
Here's what he has to say about that night.
"I did not have a chance to comment on how good the White House looked in rainbow colors. That made it a really good week. To see people gathered in an evening outside on a beautiful summer night and to feel whole and to feel accepted and to feel that they had a right to love, that was pretty cool."