We Reap What We Sow


stevenThe following was written by Steven Levy and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.

My confession:

I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat…

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it’s not funny, it’s intended to get you thinking.

In light of recent events… terrorists attack, school shootings, etc.. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school… The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.

Then Dr. Steven Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock’s son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he’s talking about.. And we said okay..

Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with ‘WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.’

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Are you laughing yet?

IS SEPARATION OF FAITH AND STATE AN AMERICAN IDEAL?


Church-and-State

Reposted from Marketfaith Ministries

No doubt you have seen the headlines about Atheist groups attacking every expression of the Christian faith in the public square they can find. They attack local state and federal governments, school boards and individual schools, the military, and on and on. A couple of stories illustrate the point.

A high school band is under threat of a lawsuit because they wore T-shirts with the word “Salvation” on them. Never mind that the word was the name of a piece of music they were playing. The rub was that the word “salvation” had too close a connection to the Christian faith (even though it is used in other ways, as well).

And, of course, every year we see schools being attacked because they have a Christmas song in their “Winter Concert” lineup. It happens every year and I’m sure we will see it happen again this year. I remember several years back when my son was in elementary school and was on the program to play “What Child is This” on his violin. Someone complained and the school authorities listed the song on the program as “Greensleeves.”

The Arguments for Separation of Church and State

One of the main organizations working to eliminate any vestige of the Christian faith from the culture is an Atheist organization called Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). They use two basic arguments as pretexts to promote their beliefs.

The first one is promotion of “separation of church and state.” The only problem is, there is no such thing in American law. The term itself was a a phrase taken from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to Connecticut Baptists in the Danberry Baptist Association. Far from promoting FFRF’s belief, Jefferson wrote this letter in 1802 pushing back against the idea of the state imposing itself on the church. There never was even a thought that the influence of the Christian faith should be expunged from government policymaking.

The other pretext FFRF uses to promote its belief is to assert that the establishment clause of the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits any expression of Christian ideas in the public square. Again, they have totally and blatantly misconstrued the idea. The establishment clause has an entirely different meaning. The situation in England, which the founders were pushing back against in that day, included a state church which the people of the country were forced to support. The founders didn’t like that, so they put this clause in the 1st Amendment which prohibited the federal government from establishing a state church. NONE of the situations FFRF is attacking involve any attempt to establish a state church. Their entire argument is simply based on a false premise.

The Fallacy of Secularism

What FFRF and other like-minded groups say they want is a “secular” approach to governing. What they mean by this is that they want government to be run without any faith or religious influence whatsoever. There is only one problem with this approach – there is no such thing as a system which does not rely on a faith foundation. While the “secularists” try to assert that their approach is totally faith neutral, their belief is, in fact, as much a faith position as is any other religious belief. They believe that their “secular” approach which leaves mention of God out of everything public is the only way to accomplish what the Constitution says. They believe their approach is based on science while “religion” is based on faith. What they are really advocating is a “separation of faith and state” using beliefs which are themselves a faith system.

Why “Secularism” is a Religious System

If you speak to secularists to point out that their approach is based on a religious point of view, most of them would be totally flabbergasted. They honestly believe that setting aside “God/religion” from the public square is a completely religiously neutral position. The truth, though, is entirely different. Their “secularism” is a religious point of view.

In order for something to be neutral in the way they conceive it, a point of view cannot have a faith foundation. It must be based strictly on objective, experimentally verifiable facts. The problem is, an atheistic point of view is not based on facts. It is belief system based on a set of philosophical presuppositions.

Let’s look for a moment at the philosophy of the Atheists. In order for their point of view to be true, there are several things that must not only true, but verifiable using experimental science.

1. Everything which makes up the material universe must have a natural origin. The problem is, there is no science able to demonstrate that to be true. It is simply assumed to be true because a supernatural reality is dismissed out of hand based on their philosophical beliefs.

2. Life must have a natural origin. Again, there is no science to demonstrate this is even possible. It is assumed to be true not because of science, but because the possibility of the existence of God is dismissed out of hand based on their philosophical beliefs.

3. The variety of life forms which exist on earth must be accounted for using natural means. Once again, there is no experimental science able to show this to be true. In spite of the various theories and speculations that have been put forth, scientists do not know of any natural biological process which allows individual life forms to expand beyond certain limits. The belief in naturalistic evolution is purely based on philosophical presuppositions, not science.

4. Consciousness must have a natural origin. The same problem exists here as with all the others. The speculation as to the origin of consciousness is based on philosophical presuppositions, not on science.

As can be seen, the “secular/atheist” position is not based on observable facts. It is an expression of faith. It is, essentially, a religious point of view. As such, the attempt to purge expressions of the Christian faith from the public square is not an attempt to get religion out of public life. Rather, it is an attempt to replace one faith foundation with an entirely different one.

What to Do

As Christians, we do not need to simply sit back and allow this attempt at cultural transformation to move forward unopposed. It is okay, even right, for us to stand up against FFRF and its companion organizations. But we must do it in a particular way. We must do it by exposing the false premise of its assumptions, then fill in the gap with the truth of the gospel. FFRF’s endeavor is an evangelistic effort. They are trying to spread the gospel of Secular Humanism, and their method is to clear the playing field of any opposing points of view. We simply can’t allow ourselves to be cleared. We must stand strong with a clear voice, expose their false beliefs, and share the truth.

NO U.S. SERVICEMAN CAN SPEAK AT ANY FAITH-BASED PUBLIC EVENTS ANYMORE


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Something you’ll want to be aware of: Sent by Retired Vice Admiral Bob Sinacola, of Arlington , VA.

“I wanted to give you all some disturbing information on our wonderful president. I work with the Catch-A-Dream Foundation, which provides hunting and fishing trips to children with life-threatening illnesses. This past weekend we had our annual banquet/fundraiser event in Starkville . As a part of our program, we had scheduled Sgt. 1st Class Greg Stube to come; he’s a highly decorated U.S. Army Green Beret and inspirational speaker who was severely injured while deployed overseas and didn’t have much of a chance for survival. Greg is stationed at Ft. Bragg , NC and received permission from his commanding officer to come speak at our function. Everything was on go until Obama made a policy that NO U.S. SERVICEMAN CAN SPEAK AT ANY FAITH-BASED PUBLIC EVENTS ANYMORE.

Needless to say, Greg had to cancel his speaking event with us. Didn’t know if anyone else was aware of this new policy. You’re just starting to see the Obamanation. This is just how the Nazis did it in the 1930’s — slowly, one step at a time .

This should be forwarded to everyone regardless of party affiliation! We have lost 50% of our freedom of speech in the last 2 years.

The news media is not allowed to print anything negative about this evil regime.

Robert D. Sinacola
COL (Ret), AVN, USAR

The $1-Billion-a-Year Right-Wing Conspiracy You Haven’t Heard Of


I want to preface this article by saying that I do not support the views of the writer. I do think it is important, however, for all Christians to realize the way Christian Family Values are being portrayed by the media.

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Reposted from The Daily Beast

Are you female, gay, non-Christian, or otherwise interested in the separation of church and state? Get to know The Gathering, a shadowy, powerful network of hard-right funders meeting Thursday in Florida.

Have you heard of the $1,750-per-person “Gathering,” which starts Thursday in Orlando, Florida?

Probably not. But if you’re female, gay, non-Christian, or otherwise interested in the separation of church and state, your life has been affected by it.

The Gathering is a conference of hard-right Christian organizations and, perhaps more important, funders. Most of them are not household names, at least if your household isn’t evangelical. But that’s the point: The Gathering is a hub of Christian Right organizing, and the people in attendance have led the campaigns to privatize public schools, redefine “religious liberty” (as in the Hobby Lobby case), fight same-sex marriage, fight evolution, and, well, you know the rest. They’re probably behind that, too.

Featured speakers have included many of the usual suspects: Alliance Defending Freedom President and CEO Alan Sears (2013), Focus on the Family President Jim Daly (2011), and Family Research Council head Tony Perkins (2006). This year, however, they are joined by David Brooks of The New York Times and Michael Gerson of The Washington Post. What’s going on? Has The Gathering gone mainstream?

Hardly, says Bruce Wilson, director of the advocacy group Truth Wins Out’s Center Against Religious Extremism and a leading researcher on The Gathering. The selection of this year’s speakers, he says, is just the latest in a long line of misdirections and canards.

To be sure, untangling webs of funders, organizations, and campaigns can often feel like conspiracy-mongering. Your brain begins to resemble one of those bulletin boards from A Beautiful Mind or Se7en, full of paranoid-seeming Post-Its and strings. Wilson has been untangling these webs for years, and sometimes it shows. His many publications and his emails to me are long-winded, occasionally exaggerated, and sometimes hard to follow.

But often he’s dead on. And beneath the hyperbole, The Gathering is as close to a “vast right-wing conspiracy” as you’re likely to find. So with this year’s conference about to get under way, Wilson gave The Daily Beast an exclusive interview over email—heavily redacted here—about this shadowy, powerful network of hard-right funders.

Let’s start with the basics. What is The Gathering?

The Gathering is an annual event at which many of the wealthiest conservative to hard-right evangelical philanthropists in America—representatives of the families DeVos, Coors, Prince, Green, Maclellan, Ahmanson, Friess, plus top leaders of the National Christian Foundation—meet with evangelical innovators with fresh ideas on how to evangelize the globe. The Gathering promotes “family values” agenda: opposition to gay rights and reproductive rights, for example, and also a global vision that involves the eventual eradication of all competing belief systems that might compete with The Gathering’s hard-right version of Christianity. Last year, for example, The Gathering 2013 brought together key funders, litigants, and plaintiffs of the Hobby Lobby case, including three generations of the Green family.

The Gathering was conceived in 1985 by a small band of friends at the Arlington, Virginia, retreat center known as The Cedars, which is run by the evangelical network that hosts the annual National Prayer Breakfast. This stealthy network is known as The Family or The Fellowship. Jeff Sharlet’s book The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power described it in great detail.

How much money are we talking about here?

The evangelical right financial dynasties and foundations that meet each year at The Gathering dispense upwards of $1 billion a year in grants. But even that is overshadowed by the bigger sums that The Family and The Gathering have managed to route from the federal and state government to fund their movement via the Faith-Based Initiative program, USAID, PEPFAR and other multibillion-dollar programs.

You mentioned the National Christian Foundation. I bet most of our readers haven’t heard of that, either. Can you tell us a bit about it?

The NCF was created, back in 1982 or so, to maximize hard right-wing evangelical Christian philanthropic giving. It was so novel and complex, the architects got a special ruling from the IRS, to make sure it was legal. The NCF has multiple overlapping legal entities and holding companies, but at the core is a huge donor-advised fund. The NCF is now the 12th biggest charitable foundation in America that raises money from private sources.

Since its founding, the NCF has given away over $4.3 billion, $2.5 billion of it in the last three years. The NCF gave away $601,841,675 in 2012—and is estimated to have given out $670 million in 2013.

One reason the NCF, a donor-advised fund, has been so successful is that it ensures anonymity for its philanthropists. Many of these individuals may fear a backlash, given the controversial causes that they support.

But we do know about the NCF’s leadership. Two of the NCF co-founders were tied to Campus Crusade for Christ, and the late Larry Burkett, a NCF co-founder, was also one of the co-founders of the Alliance Defense Fund/Alliance Defending Freedom, now the religious right’s preeminent umbrella legal defense fund. NCF’s other co-founder, Atlanta tax lawyer Terrence Parker, sits on the board of directors of the Family Research Council, and also The Gathering Foundation, which puts on The Gathering.

From 2001-12, the NCF gave $163,384,998 to leading anti-LGBT organizations. These include Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, the Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly Alliance Defense Fund), Campus Crusade for Christ (aka CRU), the National Organization for Marriage, and the Alliance for Marriage. They fund ex-gay ministries like Exodus International, exporters of homophobia like Advocates International, you name it.

The NCF is just getting started, though. The Green family—who were at The Gathering in 2008 and 2013—have said they intend to leave much of their fortune to it. And in 2009, Hobby Lobby-related contributions were the No. 1 source of NCF funding (about $54 million), which we know because Eli Clifton, funded by The Nation Institute, somehow got hold of an NCF 2009 990 Schedule B form, which shows NCF’s top funders that year (Hobby Lobby was No. 1, Maclellan Foundation No. 2).

On another note, Chick-fil-A’s VP and CFO, James “Buck” McCabe, is on the board of the NCF, and in 1999 no less than three of Chick-fil-A’s top leaders spoke at The Gathering (S. Truett Cathy, Dan Cathy, and Don “Bubba” Cathy).

Having worked in philanthropy myself, I can say that these figures are astounding. The leading private funder of LGBT issues gives out about $16 million a year. Which other funders will be there?

Other major players include the John Templeton Foundation ($104,863,836 in 2012 grants), the Barnaby Foundation ($39,939,489), the Christian Community Foundation (an NCF “spinoff”), and the family foundations of the DeVos families (including Rich DeVos, one of the original funders of the Christian Right), Howard & Roberta Ahmanson (operating as Fieldstead & Company—and among the most notorious right-wing funders in America), Adolph Coors, and many others.

Interestingly, some more secular right-wing funders—Scaife, Olin, Bradley—are not known to attend The Gathering.

And yet The Gathering also has some mainstream figures on the schedule, including David Brooks of The New York Times and Michael Gerson of The Washington Post.

Well, there are two possibilities. One, Brooks knows a bit about the underlying politics of The Gathering but doesn’t care, which is to say he’s on board with that political agenda to the extent he’s willing to lend his reputation to the event. Two, he’s relatively clueless. He’s been conned. Which would raise questions about his political acumen.

I’m very suspicious that Brooks’ planned appearance at The Gathering was an outgrowth of his heavy participation in the Faith Angle Forum of frequent The Gathering participant Michael Cromartie, who advises elite secular media on the culture wars, which he is also helping to wage. In 2008 Cromartie talked to The Gathering about the need to “infiltrate” secular media. His Faith Angle Forum was created to bring together elite journalists who covered religion and politics with “experts.” And experts they are—but they’re all picked by Cromartie, and many of them have been speakers at The Gathering, as well.

A lot of these issues are pretty unsurprising: fight the gays, fight abortion. But your research also shows that these Christian Right funders are behind a lot of climate denial.

Yup. Over the last decade, he NCF has pumped over $140 million into groups that oppose action to curb climate change and portray concern over global warming as part of a satanic conspiracy to impose a tyrannical “One World Order” or “New World Order.”

Michael Cromartie, whom I just mentioned, will be one of the presenters at The Gathering 2014. He is a signatory to the positions of the Cornwall Alliance, a rump religious coalition opposing action to curb human-caused climate change. The Cornwall Alliance was itself masterminded by E. Calvin Beisner, who helped coin many of the most popular arguments of the global warming denialist/inaction crowd, in a late 1980s-early 1990s book series project led and financed by Howard Ahmanson and his Fieldstead & Co.

Most of the major players in the Christian Right signed the Cornwell Alliance papers. The Ethics and Public Policy Center (NCF gave it $115,000 over 1- years), Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship ($12,768,852), Focus on the Family ($44,754,804), Campus Crusade for Christ ($55,233,717), Family Research Council ($17,707,343), Concerned Women for America ($160,163), American Family Association ($2,024,033), and others.

This is exhausting, depressing stuff. What keeps you going?

First, endless exposure to the politicized religious right renders the disturbing nature of the subject banal. So at one level, it becomes just another job specialization. Most days, I might as well be studying some obscure species of sea snail.

But I think the story of the politicized religious right is one of the biggest untold stories of our time. It’s the story of how a covert political movement, driven by a well-organized, -funded, and committed minority, has perturbed the political arc of the biggest, wealthiest, and most powerful nation on Earth—and how it has subverted the national dialogue.

I’m annoyed at the basic dishonesty of religio/political phenomena such as The Gathering that lay claim to the Christian tradition but ignore its underlying mandate of truth-telling. The semi-covert movement represented by The Gathering may not be able to conquer America and its “7 mountains” (Loren Cunningham, co-originator of the 7M motivational mantra, addressed The Gathering in 2001), but it nonetheless exerts considerable force on international politics, and not in an especially honest manner.

The world needs better. There are many problems to address. And I think world religions can become part of the solutions that guide us toward a better outcome in coming decades, but only insofar as they put aside covert, religious supremacist agendas and work for the common good of all. And workable solutions will require honesty—not currently a hallmark of The Gathering.

Atheists Want War Memorial Torn Down


Bladensburg Cross

Reposted from RedState via The Dog Wagging Tail

Last month, the American Humanist Association sued to have this war memorial torn down. Why? Because the memorial is in the shape of a cross.

In 1925, the people of Prince George County, Maryland, erected a memorial to honor the 49 brave residents of their town who fought and died to preserve our freedom. The Bladensburg Cross, or “Peace Cross” as it became known, has stood since that day as a testament to the heroism, the sacrifice, that these brave young men displayed fighting for America – fighting for our freedom.

That is until one angry atheist, literally riding his bike around town, discovered the cross. He was “shocked” at the sight of the cross and “upset” that the cross could possibly be displayed to honor our nation’s veterans.

Yet, he and a couple of other angry atheists, along with the American Humanist Association, after the shock had subsided a bit I supposed (it took them since 1982 to finally do something about it), filed a federal lawsuit a couple weeks ago, calling the cross a constitutional violation and demanding that the cross be torn down.

The lawsuit actually alleges that because the war memorial is located on what they claim is public property near a busy intersection that at least one of the plaintiffs passes “about once a month” driving around town or on his bike, it “associates a Christian religious symbol with the State and gives the impression that the State supports
and approves of Christianity, as opposed to other religions, and that the state may even prefer Christians and Christianity over other religions.” One of the plaintiffs actually says that he is “personally offended and feels excluded” because the cross honors our nation’s veterans.

In fact, the lawsuit states that he was “shocked when he first saw the cross and it upsets him whenever he passes it.”

Each of the plaintiffs complains of “unwelcome contact” with the WWI memorial cross and tell the court they “do[] not wish to encounter the Bladensburg Cross in the future.” In other words, they want it torn down.

It’s just one more example of angry atheists who become so easily offended by the very sight or even the existence of something they supposedly don’t believe in.

Of course the cross has long been a symbol of sacrifice and has stood in honor of war heroes for centuries. Imagine their “shock” if they ever visited Arlington National Cemetery a few miles away in Virginia.

In fact, the Supreme Court has recognized that “a Latin cross is not merely a reaffirmation of Christian beliefs. It is a symbol often used to honor and respect those whose heroic acts, noble contributions, and patient striving help secure an honored place in history for this Nation and its people.”

This could not be more true than in the case of this nearly 90-year-old WWI memorial, meant to honor 49 specific men of valor who gave their last full measure for a grateful nation.

The fact of the matter is that a war memorial, symbolized by a cross, does not constitute a constitutional crisis.

Every time an angry atheist sees a symbol with which he or she disagrees, their first step is to rush to court. They conflate their feelings with the Constitution. As I’ve said before, the Constitution is not an atheist manifesto.

To tear this war memorial cross to the ground because the idea of it hurts some atheist’s feelings does a disservice to the very ones who gave their lives for this nation. They gave their lives so that everyone could be free – so that anyone would be free to believe or disbelieve as they so choose. To tear down their memorial, dishonors their memory.

At the ACLJ, we will be filing an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief in this case, defending the cross and honoring those for whom it stands.

In a bit of disturbing irony, when the angry atheists first demanded the cross be torn down, they wrote a letter to the managing authorities asserting, “When considering this matter, you will likely hear from a loud and self-righteous portion of the populace that seeks to see its particular religious symbols preferred by the state.”

It is in fact a small but loud and self-righteous portion of the populace who wish to eradicate any religious symbol in our society with which they disagree, regardless of who it hurts or dishonors, because they have deemed it “offensive.”

But if they want to hear a loud voice, I think it’s time they and their 24,800 members hear from the American people.

The veterans of WWI are no longer here to defend their memorial, yet the price they paid gives us the freedom to defend it for them. If you don’t want this WWI memorial torn down, sign onto our brief today.

Team Obama deports Christian home-school family


By Todd Starnes

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Uwe and Hannelore Romeike came to the United States in 2008 seeking political asylum. They fled their German homeland in the face of religious persecution for homeschooling their children.

They wanted to live in a country where they could raise their children in accordance with their Christian beliefs.

The Romeikes were initially given asylum, but the Obama administration objected – claiming that German laws that outlaw homeschooling do not constitute persecution.

Please, Mr. President, have mercy on this Christian family. They came to our shores longing to be free.
“The goal in Germany is for an open, pluralistic society,” the Justice Department wrote in a legal brief last year. “Teaching tolerance to children of all backgrounds helps to develop the ability to interact as a fully functioning citizen in Germany.”

On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to hear the Romeike’s appeal – paving the way for the Christian family of eight to be deported.

“I think this is a part of the Obama administration’s overall campaign to crush religious freedom in this country,” said Michael Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association. His organization is representing family.

“The Obama administration’s attitude toward religious freedom, particularly religious freedom for Christians is shocking,” he told me in an exclusive telephone interview. “I have little doubt that if this family had been of some other faith that the decision would have never been appealed in the first place. They would have let this family stay.”

Had the family stayed in Germany, where homeschooling is illegal, they would have faced the prospect of losing their children. Like the Pilgrims, they fled their homeland yearning for a place where they could be free.

Farris said the religious bias perpetrated by the Obama administration is “palpable.”

“It’s a denial of the essence of America,” he said. “The Pilgrims left England to go to Holland to seek religious freedom. They came here to seek religious freedom and parental rights for their children. Had this administration been waiting at Plymouth Rock, they would’ve told the Pilgrims to go back home.”

There are nearly 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. You’d think the Obama administration could find a place eight immigrants who want to live here legally.

Farris said the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case sends a chilling message to Americans who currently home school their children.

“This administration thinks it’s a privilege to home school – not a right,” he told me. “We’d better buckle down and be ready to fight them every step of the way.”

As for now, the Romeike family will be able to stay at their four-acre farm in the eastern Tennessee. But it’s only a matter of time before the Obama administration begins formal deportation proceedings.

Last year, I interviewed 15-year-old Daniel Romeike, a soft-spoken boy with aspirations of one day becoming a mechanical engineer. He told me he was afraid of what might happen if the family was deported. He feared being taken from his parents and placed in government custody.

“If I had a chance to talk to President Obama, I would ask him to let us stay in this great country of freedom and opportunity,” Daniel told me.

So on behalf of the Romeike family, I would like personally appeal to President Obama.

Please, Mr. President, have mercy on this Christian family. They came to our shores longing to be free. They left their homeland to escape religious persecution. Please, sir. Welcome them to our land with open arms. Bestow upon them a small measure of grace so they might be able to raise their children in the land of the free, the home of the brave.

Please spare these dear souls.

Repost from Fox News