Religious Freedom In America?

Fox News posted an article today about the confirmation hearings for Omaha-based lawyer Brian Buescher who is nominated for the U.S. District Court in Nebraska.

The article reports:

Two Democratic senators are scrutinizing a federal judicial nominee over his membership in the Knights of Columbus, drawing a stern rebuke from the Catholic organization.

Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, raised concerns about Omaha-based lawyer Brian Buescher’s membership as part of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s review of his nomination by President Trump to sit on the U.S. District Court in Nebraska, as first reported by the Catholic News Agency.

In a series of questions sent to Buescher, Hirono asked whether his membership in the Knights of Columbus would prevent him from hearing cases “fairly and impartially” and, if confirmed, whether he would end his membership in the Roman Catholic charitable organization.

“The Knights of Columbus has taken a number of extreme positions,” Hirono said in the questionnaire. “For example, it was reportedly one of the top contributors to California’s Proposition 8 campaign to ban same-sex marriage.”

Have we reached the point where taking a Biblical stand on marriage is considered extreme? I guess so.

The article continues:

Harris, in her questions to the nominee, called the Knights of Columbus “an all-male society” and asked the Nebraska lawyer if he was aware that the group was anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage when he joined. The California senator also referenced Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson’s statement that abortion amounted to “the killing of the innocent on a massive scale” and asked Buescher if he agreed with the statement.

Buescher responded that his involvement in the group consisted mostly of charitable work and community events at his local Catholic parish. He indicated he would abide by judicial precedent regarding abortion.

The Knights of Columbus maintained that its positions reflect Catholic teachings, and suggested that the senators’ scrutiny amounts to criticism of the Catholic faith.

Senator Harris wants to run for President. I am sure that in challenging the right of a member of the Knights of Columbus to sit on a U.S. District Court will win her votes on the extreme left. However, I am not sure it will win her votes in mainstream America. This is the equivalent of a religious litmus test of a nominee, which is unconstitutional and illegal. Being a member of a recognized church group should not disqualify a person nominated for a U.S. District Court.

The Challenges In Exercising Oversight Responsibility

Congress is charged with the responsibility of oversight of the Justice Department. It is part of the checks and balances that are supposed to function within our government. Congress is within its bounds when it asks for documents from the Justice Department. However, that does not necessarily mean that the Justice Department is cooperative in the process. Particularly if the Justice Department may have been coloring outside the lines in recent history.

Catherine Herridge posted a story at Fox News today about recent clashes between Congress and the Department of Justice. It is becoming very obvious that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is not a fan of Congressional oversight.

The article reports:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein threatened to “subpoena” emails, phone records and other documents from lawmakers and staff on a Republican-led House committee during a tense meeting earlier this year, according to emails reviewed by Fox News documenting the encounter and reflecting what aides described as a “personal attack.”

The emails memorialized a January 2018 closed-door meeting involving senior FBI and Justice Department officials as well as members of the House Intelligence Committee. The account claimed Rosenstein threatened to turn the tables on the committee’s inquiries regarding the Russia probe. 

“The DAG [Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein] criticized the Committee for sending our requests in writing and was further critical of the Committee’s request to have DOJ/FBI do the same when responding,” the committee’s then-senior counsel for counterterrorism Kash Patel wrote to the House Office of General Counsel. “Going so far as to say that if the Committee likes being litigators, then ‘we [DOJ] too [are] litigators, and we will subpoena your records and your emails,’ referring to HPSCI [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence] and Congress overall.”

A second House committee staffer at the meeting backed up Patel’s account, writing: “Let me just add that watching the Deputy Attorney General launch a sustained personal attack against a congressional staffer in retaliation for vigorous oversight was astonishing and disheartening. … Also, having the nation’s #1 (for these matters) law enforcement officer threaten to ‘subpoena your calls and emails’ was downright chilling.”

This Thursday we will finally see the Inspector General’s report. It will be interesting to see if Rob Rosenstein is mentioned in this report.

A Happy Ending To An Awful Story

Fox News is reporting today that Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been released from prison in Iran and has been reunited with his family. The Pastor had been in prison for three years on charges of apostasy, which is punishable by death in Iran. The charges were lowered to evangelizing to Muslims, which carries a three-year sentence, and he was released.

The article reports:

…He was released with time served, according to the American Center for Law and Justice, a Washington-based watchdog group that had been campaigning for the pastor’s release.

“Today our sources in Iran reported that Pastor Youcef was acquitted of apostasy and released from prison. After languishing in prison for almost three years, he has been reunited with his family,” Jordan Sekulow, executive director of ACLJ said in a statement to FoxNews.com.

“While we are working on confirming the exact details of his release, some sources report that the court alternatively convicted Pastor Youcef of evangelizing to Muslims, sentencing him to three years and granting him time served.  Pastor Youcef’s story is an example of how the world can join together to ensure that justice is served and freedom preserved.”

I am glad that the Pastor has been released and is home with his family, but we need to look at the overall situation here. Iran is a country governed by Sharia Law. There is no freedom of religion–sharing any faith other than Islam will result in a jail sentence or worse if you are caught. This is a part of Sharia Law. Please keep that in mind as you hear Muslims in America attempt to introduce Sharia Law into American courts.

The article further reminds us:

“While we praise the release of Pastor Youcef, we must recognize that Iran felt obligated to save face among its people and continue its pattern of suppressing religious freedom with intimidation tactics,” Tiffany Barrans, a legal director for ACLJ said to FoxNews.com.

“International attention to this matter saved this man’s life, but we must not forget the human right of freedom of religion includes the right to freedom of expression.”

As Americans, we need to treasure our freedom and work to protect the freedom of people like Pastor Youcef.

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