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VP Pence Praises America’s Hispanic Christian Community

The Vice President was the keynote speaker at the 12th annual Hispanic Prayer breakfast where he had the opportunity to meet, fellowship, and hear from some of the pillars of America’s hispanic community.

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Late last week Vice President Mike Pence stopped by the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C. to spend some time with the leaders of America’s Hispanic Christian community.

The Vice President was the keynote speaker at the 12th annual Hispanic Prayer breakfast where he had the opportunity to meet, fellowship, and hear from some of the pillars of America’s hispanic community.

Pence was comfortable, gregarious, and seemed right at home with fellow believers – even if they didn’t share the same first language.

The Vice President thanked the gathered leaders for the hard work they were doing in their communities and for their continued efforts to be the hands and feet of the Church in America.

He spoke of the love and reverence the Trump administration has for the Latin world and how our nation is doing everything we can to support the free peoples of the Americas. He spoke of the hard work to be done in Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, and beyond. And he promised that the American people would be with our Latin brothers and sisters throughout the coming years.

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Here’s my favorite part:

You know, over the past year and a half in this new role of mine, my wife and I have been fortunate to see that heritage of faith across this country that is so well represented in the faith leaders here today.

We’ve seen it in vibrant churches that serve our Hispanic communities in the state of Florida — like the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Doral, and the Iglesia de Dios in Kissimmee.

I saw the way churches, in the wake of hurricanes and struggles, opened their doors.  They welcomed families.  They sent aid.  They were literally the hands and feet of our Heavenly Father for people in the most difficult times.

I’ve seen it in a parish of Santa Bernadita, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Applause.)  We were there just over a week after that island had been devastated by Hurricane Maria.  We were there, and we marveled, that in a church where the lights were not yet on, the light of faith shone and illuminated the room.  We saw the resilience of the people of that faith community.

We met Father Peña, who told us that day his parishioners may have been “without electricity, but we are not without light.”  (Applause.)

We’ve seen that faith; we’ve seen it lived out.  But not just among Americans.  We’ve seen it across this hemisphere.  In the grand cathedral in Buenos Aires we met with leaders of faith and saw the petitions of the faithful.

We’ve seen it in a small neighborhood church that I talked about, in Cartagena, which had become a home for people fleeing tyranny and repression.

I mean, literally everywhere we go in this country, and everywhere we’ve gone across this hemisphere, we’ve seen that heritage of faith, which is not surprising, because the Bible tells us, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”  (Applause.)  So in this hemisphere of faith, we shall have a hemisphere of freedom.

So as I close, let me close with faith — faith in all of you and the work and the witness that you have in your churches and in communities every day.  It’s deeply inspiring.

Transcript from the White House:

Well, buenos dias. Thank you, Reverend Cortés.  Thank you for that kind introduction.  I’ll always remember the conversations that we had, when I was a member of Congress, on the promise of America.  And I’m grateful — I’m grateful that you had the vision to establish this remarkable organization.  Would you all just show our appreciation for the Founder, and the President, and the CEO of Esperanza, Reverend Luis Cortés.  (Applause.)

It’s an honor to be here today — honor to be here today with so many faith leaders from all across America to have an opportunity to address the largest gathering of Hispanic clergy in this country at the 12th National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast.  Thank you for giving me the honor of being with you today.  (Applause.)

First and foremost, let me just thank you for your ministries.  Thank you for the work that each and every one of you do each and every day, being the hands and feet of faith in communities large and small all across America.  I can assure you that you have the gratitude of this administration, and the gratitude of this President and his Vice President, for the work and the ministries that you do every day.

And before I begin, let me bring greetings from that friend of mine who is a great champion of faith and freedom all across this country and all across our hemisphere.  I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.  (Applause.)

The President arrived home yesterday, as we all know, from a historic summit with the leader of North Korea.  As the President said, it was a direct, and honest, and productive meeting.  And I’m pleased to report it resulted in a bold first step where North Korea committed to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  (Applause.)

And while it hasn’t gotten as much note, it’s deeply meaningful to me, as the son of a combat veteran of the Korean War, that President Trump also secured a commitment from North Korea to recover and repatriate the remains of more than 5,000 American POWs and MIAs that fell in the Korean War.  We are finally going to bring our boys home.  (Applause.)

Now comes “vigorous negotiations to implement the agreement,” as the President said, “as soon as possible.”  And Secretary of State Pompeo is already engaged in high-level meetings with our allies across the region.  Make no mistake about it: The success of this summit and this new beginning — the progress we’ve made — is a direct result of President Trump’s steadfast leadership on the world stage.  But we also know that it is also a result of the prayers of faithful people all across this country.

The Bible tells us that the “effective and fervent prayers of a righteous people availeth much.”  But we know in our hearts that it was also your prayers that carried us to this point, brought us to this day, and will continue to bring us forward.  So thank you for your prayers, and let’s keep praying for peace on the Korean Peninsula and for the world.  (Applause.)

But it’s really gratitude is the reason I’m here today.  You know, the Bible says, if you owe debts, pay debts; if honor, then honor; if respect, then respect.  And I’m really here today to pay a debt of honor and gratitude to all of you for your tireless, tireless work on behalf of the Gospel; for your unwavering commitment to plant and water seeds of faith all across our country each and every day.

Just over three decades ago, Reverend Cortés joined with his fellow faith leaders in Philadelphia, I’m told, to found this organization dedicated to the principles of “faith, integrity, and excellence,” and determined to fulfill the Biblical mandate to serve the “least of these.”  And so Esperanza has, since the days of its founding.

Today, this group represents more than 13,000 Hispanic clergy congregations and more than 500 community groups ministering in all 50 states to people all across this nation, and is reaching people in some 30 other countries around the world.  Across America, you strive to give people the training and skills they need to thrive.  You open doors of opportunity and prosperity.  So let me just invite each and every one of you, give yourselves a round of applause for the work that you do and the work of Esperanza since its founding.  (Applause.)

So I’m here today to thank you for the role you play in the life of our nation, and for your prayers.  But I’m also here to tell you that our administration is here for you, we’re listening to you, and we’re anxious for your continued example and counsel in the days ahead.

There are so many areas of agreement between Esperanza and our administration, and I want to talk about a number of those in just a few moments.  But on those areas where we don’t agree, I want to assure you that in this White House you will always have a willing ear and respect.

Now, one place I know we all agree is the importance of expanding prosperity and jobs for people all across this country.  As President Trump has said, in this White House, in his words, we want an America where all can “thrive and flourish together,” no matter of our race, or creed, or color.  And that’s exactly why President Trump has taken decisive action to revive the American economy from the very beginning of this administration.

Since day one of this administration, we’ve been rolling back red tape in record numbers.  We’ve been unleashing affordable American energy that fuels families, and farms, and factories.  We’ve been fighting for trade that’s free, and fair, and reciprocal.  And right before Christmas, in case you didn’t notice, this President signed the largest tax cuts and tax reform in American history — (applause) — rolling back red tape, cutting taxes, unleashing American energy, focusing on American jobs.  And the results have been remarkable.  And I know you all see it in your communities each and every day.

Since the President and I were elected, I’m proud to report that businesses large and small have created more than 3.4 million new jobs.  For the first time in our nation’s history, there are more job openings than there are jobs seekers in America.  (Applause.)

Small business optimism is at a record high, and nearly 9 out of 10 Hispanic business owners see greater opportunity in the years ahead.  And unemployment hasn’t been lower in nearly 50 years.  And under this President, we’ve actually seen the lowest Hispanic unemployment rate in American history.  (Applause.)

But as we all know, the strength of this country doesn’t just come from our economy.  It can’t only be measured by our material wellbeing.  America’s strength ultimately comes from that foundation of values that animate and strengthen our communities every day.  And it springs from our faith, enabled by our freedoms.

Speaking of the values that we cherish, I have to tell you, I couldn’t be more proud to serve with a President who stands without apology for the sanctity of human life.  (Applause.)

I mean, the truth is, after the first year and a half of this administration, one thing is clear: President Donald Trump is the most pro-life President in American history.  If you think about it, one of his first acts in office was we reinstated the Mexico City Policy, denying any foreign aid dollars to organizations that promote or perform abortions.

We withdrew the United States from the U.N. Population Fund, preventing our taxpayer dollars from paying for forced sterilization and abortion around the world.

And we empowered states to defund abortion providers and, just a few days ago, made sure that no Title X funding would go to programs that support or provide abortion.  (Applause.)

I understand that, yesterday, many of you visited Capitol Hill to talk about these policies.  And we respect and appreciate your voice and your engagement.  I also know you were on Capitol Hill talking about the first freedom in the Bill of Rights — the freedom of religion.  And let me assure you, in this White House we know that people of faith enrich the fabric of our national life in extraordinary ways and that those contributions should be celebrated and protected, and not restricted through the heavy hand of government.

Last year, I’m happy to report that President Trump chose the National Day of Prayer to announce new policies to protect the right of every American to live out their beliefs in the public square.

And because President Trump and I believe that freedom of speech should never end at the front door of our churches or places of worship, President Trump has taken action to prevent enforcement of the Johnson Amendment.  (Applause.)  And we will not stop until we repeal the Johnson Amendment from the Internal Revenue Code.

The truth is you’ve been demonstrating the importance and the impact of your freedom of speech and your values all across this country.  Today I want to thank you.  I want to thank you in particular for speaking out about the urgent need to fix our nation’s broken immigration system.  I know so many of you have spoken out — have spoken out from your pulpits, spoken out in your communities on this issue.  And you’ve spoken out with courage and with compassion.

And I want to assure you: For months, our administration has been working with both Republicans and Democrats to craft a bipartisan solution.  Earlier this year, in his State of the Union address, President Trump unveiled what he referred to as “a fair compromise” that reflected input from all sides and that, we were happy to see Esperanza said, “addresses important issues.”  And we’re grateful for that expression of support.

The plan that our President put on the table would secure our borders, address immigration loopholes, and provide a responsible solution for those who were brought to this country through no fault of their own.

The truth is, illegal immigration hurts communities on both sides of our border, too often financing dangerous cartels and drug dealers that profit from human suffering.

And as the President has also said, a nation without borders is no nation at all.  And just as Esperanza pointed out that, in your words, “every sovereign nation has the right and responsibility to secure its border,” our President is committed to keep his word to the American people to build a wall on our southern border.  And we are grateful that Congress has already approved $1.6 billion to begin the construction of a border wall.

But beyond border security, President Trump has put forward an immigration plan that will finally move America toward a merit-based system that grows salaries and puts more Americans to work.

Our plan is the very definition of compromise.  As the President described it, it’s one “where nobody gets everything they want, but where our country gets the critical reforms it needs.”  That’s why he’s called on the Congress to “come together, set politics aside, and finally get the job done.”

Now, we appreciate the continued efforts of House Republicans to find a way forward that reflects the President’s priorities of securing our borders, closing loopholes, and providing a permanent solution for DACA.  But to be honest, we remain profoundly disappointed that Democrats are unwilling to partner with us on a solution that accomplishes these common-sense reforms for the benefit of the American people.

The truth is, as the President has said many times — and is obvious to anyone observing from afar — despite what you may have heard, the Democrats just “don’t want to make a deal.”  They don’t want to secure our border, they don’t want to close loopholes.  They don’t want to close the loopholes that serve as a magnet drawing vulnerable families to our southern border.  And they don’t want to solve DACA.

In fact, the Democrats have abandoned DACA.  And by their obstruction, they’ve abandoned the opportunity to enact compassionate and common-sense reforms to our immigration system.  Well, I say to all of those gathered here, men and women of faith: America deserves better.  (Applause.)

And I can assure you, President Trump and I will continue to work for reforms that reflect the President’s priorities.  And we’ll remain ready — we’ll remain ready to move forward whenever the Democrats decide to end the obstruction and stop using the DACA issue as a part of a political process.

So we’re standing up for American workers, for America’s interests, and Americans’ values.  In this administration, I’m pleased to report to the faith leaders gathered here: We’re also standing for America’s values across the wider region.

President Donald Trump has made the Western Hemisphere a key priority of this administration.  (Applause.)  When it comes to our hemisphere, as the President has said, we, in his words, seek a future where the people of each country can “live out their dreams.”  We want people to have a chance to put down roots in the land of their birth and not have to flee danger or deprivation in search of a brighter future in other nations.  We believe everyone deserves a chance to climb the ladder of opportunity, rather than living a life of poverty, hopelessness.

Now, you all are — you all are familiar with the vast variety of rich cultures and traditions and identities that define our hemisphere.  In many cases, you see it in your churches and on the streets of your communities celebrated every day.  And you know maybe better than most that what happens to one of our neighbors across the region swiftly affects us all.

You also know the potential of this hemisphere is limitless.  And if we have the courage to unleash it, we’ll transform this hemisphere to a hemisphere of freedom — which is exactly what we’ve been about.

Across the wider region, under this administration, we’ve strengthened our trade relationships and increased our security collaboration.  We’ve worked to cut out the corruption that destroys opportunity and undermines democracy.  And in all that we’ve done, we’ve strived to bring our nation and our people closer to our neighbors across the Western Hemisphere, because in this White House we know that there’s more that unites the peoples of this new world than could ever divide us.  And what unites us is a love of freedom.  (Applause.)

For my part, I’ve had the great privilege to meet with leaders and travel to countries from across North, Central, and South America.  And two weeks from now, I’m pleased to report I will take my third trip to the region in less than a year, when I will visit Brazil, and Ecuador, and Guatemala.  (Applause.)

We’ll be visiting Guatemala in the wake of the terrible volcanic eruption from just two weeks ago.  I know that the people of that country affected by that terrible, terrible natural disaster have been in your prayers.  And I will deliver to them the assurance of your prayers, and I will tell them the American people are with them.

But already the United States has stepped up to help.  I’m pleased to report, at the Guatemalan government’s request, we’re sending emergency aid to address the food, water, and sanitation needs for those affected.  We’re also helping transport burn victims for treatment.  And today, I’ll promise you, we will continue to support the people of Guatemala as they recover and rebuild — (applause) — because that’s what good neighbors do.

But throughout my trip, I’ll also make clear that America will continue to stand without apology for freedom in this hemisphere, for we believe, here in the New World, freedom is the birthright of us all.

I truly believe, and have said in my travels, that ours is a “hemisphere of freedom.”  Yet as all of you well know, the dark cloud of tyranny still hangs over too many of our neighbors.  It casts a shadow across the wider region, fueling the spread of crime, drugs, forced migration, and want.

In Cuba, the communist regime may not have a Castro as its leader, but it is still a communist regime under Castro’s control.  The brutal police and military state they established is ever-present.  And even under their handpicked successor, to this very day, it saps the wealth of that great nation and steals — steals the lives of the freedom-loving people in Cuba.

But America today once again stands with the Cuban people in their fight for freedom.  No longer will our dollars fund Cuba’s military, security, or intelligence services.  In this administration, we will always say Que Viva Cuba Libre.  (Applause.)

And in Nicaragua, the government of Daniel Ortega has plunged his proud country into a spiral of violence and despair.  As we gather here, the situation in Nicaragua has reached new lows.

Just under two months ago, hundreds of thousands of brave protestors took to Nicaragua’s streets, demanding democratic reforms.  Yet the Ortega government has responded with brutal repression.  Nearly 150 people have died so far, including an American citizen.  And over a thousand more have been injured at the hands of government forces and their ruthless paramilitary allies.

And as I’m sure this group knows, many of Nicaragua’s most prominent faith leaders and clergy have now been targeted for trying to stem the violence.  And some have even received death threats for courageously raising their voices.  This must end — and it must end now.  (Applause.)

Today, on behalf of President Trump, we call on Daniel Ortega to end his government’s crimes and answer for his nation’s cry for democracy and human rights.  The time has come to end the attacks on peaceful protestors.  The time has come to give the Nicaraguan people the future of freedom they deserve.  (Applause.)

And finally, today, let me reaffirm that under this administration, America stands with the good people of Venezuela for freedom and the restoration of their democracy.  (Applause.)

We’ve been standing.  And I can assure you, in my upcoming travels we will make it clear that America will continue to stand up to the tyrannical regime of Nicolas Maduro.

Like all of you, my heart breaks for the suffering of the Venezuelan people.  I’ve seen it firsthand.  Think about it.  That nation was once one of the richest in the Southern Hemisphere, and now it is among the poorest, despite vast natural resources.

At this very moment, nearly 9 out of 10 Venezuelans live in crushing poverty.  Opportunity has evaporated, with an economy that’s already shrunk by half, and still grows smaller with every passing day.  Venezuela’s grocery stores are all but empty, with food and daily necessities nearly impossible to find.  Hospitals lack the most basic medical supplies.  And in recent years, the mortality rate of precious infants in Venezuela has jumped by 30 percent.  Maternal mortality rates have skyrocketed by 66 percent.

And every day — every day — some 5,000 Venezuelans flee their homeland.  It is the largest cross-border mass exodus in the history of our hemisphere.

Last summer, at a church in Cartagena, Colombia, Karen and I met with Venezuelans who fled their homeland; it just broke our hearts.  I met a grandmother who had just arrived at that shelter.  She told Karen and I about the life she and her grandchildren had faced in the community.

She told me that her grandchildren — it had gotten so bad that the grandchildren had to rise at five in the morning to be given a ticket that they could exchange at five in the afternoon for a single piece of bread.  She told us she’d had enough.  She gathered together her grandchildren only a week before we met her, and she fled the country, and she found support in a community of faith.  Sadly, too many in Venezuela have not been so fortunate as to be able to flee.

And let’s be clear, Venezuela’s collapse can be laid squarely at the feet of one man: Nicolas Maduro.  He’s raided the wealth of his people and destroyed their once-vibrant democracy.  Even now, he is refusing to allow humanitarian aid into his country, even though the people of Venezuela are facing deprivation and starvation.

President Trump has made clear — and I say to you today — the United States will not stand idly by as Venezuela crumbles.  (Applause.)

Our administration has already taken decisive action to help the Venezuelan people and hold the Maduro regime accountable.  We’ve provided nearly $20 million in aid to support Venezuelans who’ve fled their homeland, and more help is on the way.  And we’ve issued unprecedented sanctions against the dictator and those that support him.

When I travel to South America in just a few weeks, I will thank our allies and partners for the action that they have taken to further isolate Venezuela economically and diplomatically, but I will also call on them to do more.  The free nations of the Western Hemisphere must be united in our resolve, and we must, all of us, work without ceasing to stand for freedom for our brothers and sisters in Venezuela.  (Applause.)

And I can promise you, the United States of America will not relent until Venezuela is free once more.  The Venezuelan people deserve nothing less than libertad.  (Applause.)

We do this because it’s right.  It reflects the deep compassion of the American people and our commitment to our most cherished ideals.  We do it because it’s our duty as neighbors.  We also do it because, as President Trump and I believe, it is our destiny to be a hemisphere of freedom.

But as I close, let me say, I know that we will reach that destiny because this is also a hemisphere of faith.  You know, my family’s story — like so many of yours, and so many members of your congregation — didn’t begin here in America.  It began when my grandfather, as a young man in his twenties, bought a one-way ticket and came to America, passed through Ellis Island.

I’ll never forget the day, as a member of Congress, that I sat in the Oval Office.  The President of the United States asked me how I got there, and I told him that Michael Richard Pence got to the office because Richard Michael Cawley knew that this was a land of opportunity and freedom.

My grandfather came here because he believed in the promise of America, and he lived it.  He drove a bus for 40 years in Chicago, Illinois.  He raised my precocious mother, who is still 85 years young.  She married a fast-talking salesman who took her down to a small town in Indiana, where I showed up.  But we lived the American Dream.

Like so many of you and your families, like so many of the families that you minister to, the American Dream is not a cliché in our family; it’s a reality because we’ve lived it.

My grandfather came here because he believed in freedom, but he also brought a heritage of faith to this country.  I was raised in that large Irish Catholic family, and have faith embedded in my heart I still cherish today.

You know, over the past year and a half in this new role of mine, my wife and I have been fortunate to see that heritage of faith across this country that is so well represented in the faith leaders here today.

We’ve seen it in vibrant churches that serve our Hispanic communities in the state of Florida — like the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Doral, and the Iglesia de Dios in Kissimmee.

I saw the way churches, in the wake of hurricanes and struggles, opened their doors.  They welcomed families.  They sent aid.  They were literally the hands and feet of our Heavenly Father for people in the most difficult times.

I’ve seen it in a parish of Santa Bernadita, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Applause.)  We were there just over a week after that island had been devastated by Hurricane Maria.  We were there, and we marveled, that in a church where the lights were not yet on, the light of faith shone and illuminated the room.  We saw the resilience of the people of that faith community.

We met Father Peña, who told us that day his parishioners may have been “without electricity, but we are not without light.”  (Applause.)

We’ve seen that faith; we’ve seen it lived out.  But not just among Americans.  We’ve seen it across this hemisphere.  In the grand cathedral in Buenos Aires we met with leaders of faith and saw the petitions of the faithful.

We’ve seen it in a small neighborhood church that I talked about, in Cartagena, which had become a home for people fleeing tyranny and repression.

I mean, literally everywhere we go in this country, and everywhere we’ve gone across this hemisphere, we’ve seen that heritage of faith, which is not surprising, because the Bible tells us, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”  (Applause.)  So in this hemisphere of faith, we shall have a hemisphere of freedom.

So as I close, let me close with faith — faith in all of you and the work and the witness that you have in your churches and in communities every day.  It’s deeply inspiring.

I can promise you that President Trump and I both know that no podium we ever stand behind will be as important as the pulpits that you stand behind every Sunday.  (Applause.)  No policy we ever advance will be as important as the message that you faithfully carry — a message of hope that’s changing lives.

So I close with faith in all of you — a faith in the boundless capacity of the American people — to meet the challenges that we face at home and abroad with American solutions and American heart.  Faith in our President and the leaders who serve America at every level of public life.

And I also close with that other kind of faith, remembering those words that Americans have clung to throughout our nation’s history, words first inscribed millennia ago, that in these challenging times of seemingly too much division, that we still have hope and we still have confidence, because we believe Him who said, “I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

And with these words, from my heart, on behalf of our President and myself and our entire administration and the American people, I say thank you.  Thank you for being a source of hope and a source of promise and encouragement to millions of Americans.

May God bless you.  May God bless the people and the ministries that you serve.  And may God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

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1,200 California Pastors Organize to Defy California Gov. Newsom’s Ban on Churches

More than 1,200 California pastors have joined an effort to defy Gov. Gavin Newsom’s coronavirus ban on church services.

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More than 1,200 California pastors have joined an effort to defy Gov. Gavin Newsom’s coronavirus ban on church services.

The group has pledged to resume in-person church services starting May 31.

Newsom issued his stay-at-home decree to slow the spread of COVID-19 on March 19. Per Newsom’s orders, the state is in stage two of his four phase re-opening plan, but that plan does not include a resumption of church services.

The governor claims that his stage two plan does not allow the re-opening of churches, gyms, libraries, theaters, and other places that might entail large groups on close proximity.

But the pastors are not waiting for Newsom’s approval.

The group’s lawyer said the pastors have signed a “declaration of essentiality,” and will reopen on May 31. They also plan to observe to social distancing guidelines and take other coronavirus precautions.

In a letter to Newsom, attorney Robert Tyler said that the gov’s orders overlook the “essential and critical nature of the services provided by clergy and religious assemblies throughout California.”

“The clergy is convinced that ‘we the people’ are ultimately responsible to protect the individual liberties that may be lost unnecessarily during times of crisis regardless of whether public officials’ actions are well intentioned,” the letter said. “Without the checks and balances of the courts and legislature, the clergy now stand as a counterbalance to unchecked regulatory action.”

But the lawyer warned, “This letter was not sent for the purposes of asking for permission.”

Tyler expects as many as 3,000 churches across California could reopen on May 31 and offer in-person religious services. Sunday, May 31, is the Christian holy day of Pentecost.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.

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Religion

Church that Defied Quarantine Razed by Lockdown Loyalists who Leave Message at Scene of the Crime

At a time in which our nation is already deep in the throes a politically divisive election and a global pandemic, nothing good can come from this violent escalation.

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During this global pandemic, it’s not only the coronavirus that you need to watch out for, as viral and violent vigilantes continue to target those with whom they disagree politically.

In Mississippi, the suspected arson of a small-town church has appears to be the work of lockdown loyalists, who were enraged that parishioners were gathering during this time of quarantine.

A church in Mississippi burned down this week and the incident is now being investigated as arson, the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to CBS News First Pentecostal Church in Holly Springs had previously defied stay-at-home orders to open for services, and the church even sued the city of Holly Springs for trying to shut down a Bible study gathering.

And what made residents believe that the arson was the work of extralegal ne’er-do-wells?

Investigators said they found graffiti on the church property reading: “Bet you stay home now you hypokrites.”

Officials in The Magnolia State were shocked and appalled.

 “I am heartbroken and furious,” Governor Tate Reeves tweeted on Thursday, sharing a photo of the now-destroyed First Pentecostal Church. “In Mississippi, a church was just burned to the ground. They had been trying to open services.”

“What is this pandemic doing to us? We need prayer for this country,” his tweet continued.

At a time in which our nation is already deep in the throes a politically divisive election and a global pandemic, nothing good can come from this violent escalation.

News of the arson broke just hours before a declaration by President Donald Trump in which all houses of worship were deemed “essential“, allowing them to remain open during this time of trouble.

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Religion

California Churches Complain About Governor’s Virus Plan, Get Backing from DOJ

Bill Barr and his crew were unmistakable in their language.

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Attorney General Bill Barr had previously warned state and local authorities not to infringe on the rights of the religious in their coronavirus contingency plans, but not all have heeded the warning.

In California, for instance, Governor Gavin Newsom had inexplicably categorized houses of worship as “phase 3” establishments, despite the similarities between weekly congregations and other gatherings that would be allowed in earlier stages of reopening.

Now, the Department of Justice is following up with Newsom, and lambasting California’s apparent discrimination against the Golden State’s faithful.

Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband pointed out that Newsom’s plan allows a variety of businesses to reopen in “Stage 2,” but does not allow churches and other houses of worship to reopen until “Stage 3,” for no apparent reason.

Citing Attorney General William Barr’s April memorandum warning state and local governments to respect First Amendment rights of religious freedom — “[T]he Constitution is not suspended in times of crisis,” Barr wrote — Dreiband argued that while California could determine the pace of its reopening, it could not infringe on religion…

The language of Dreiband’s warning was unmistakable.

Laws that do not treat religious activities equally with comparable nonreligious activities are subject to heightened scrutiny under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. … Religious gatherings may not be singled out for unequal treatment compared to other nonreligious gatherings that have the same effect on the government’s public health interest, absent the most compelling reasons.

California has not shown why interactions in offices and studios of the entertainment industry, and in-person operations to facilitate nonessential ecommerce, are included on the [essential workforce] list as being allowed with social distancing where telework is not practical, while gatherings with social distancing for purposes of religious worship are forbidden, regardless of whether remote worship is practical or not.

Places of worship are not permitted to hold religious worship services until Stage 3. However, in Stage 2, schools, restaurants, factories, offices, shopping malls, swap meets, and others are permitted to operate with social distancing.

According to Dreiband, these sort of written warnings have been successful in other locales where similar oversights had been made.

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Religion

Illinois Governor: No Church Until ‘Widely Available’ Vaccine or Treatment

The move prompted several lawsuits from the Illinois faithful.

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While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dominate headlines worldwide, one of the most pressing issues in the United States is when and how to begin reopening our economy.

We are currently weighing the health risks against the economic risks, and hoping to find a sweet spot right in the middle where we can safely restart the American machine without putting an inordinate amount of “at-risk” citizens in harm’s way.

Some elected officials have chosen to err on the side of optimism, while other, like the Governor of Illinois, are acting so cautiously that their citizens are growing enraged.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s plan to reopen his state calls for bans of gatherings of more than 50 people, including worship services, until a vaccine or treatment for the coronavirus is “widely available.”

The Democrat governor released his five-phase plan, titled “Restoring Illinois,” Tuesday, which says even at Phase 4, called “Revitalization,” “50 or fewer” would be permitted at any gatherings as long as testing and tracing are widely conducted.

The state is currently in Phase 2, or “Flattening” the curve, as the rate of infection is slowing.

According to the most recent data, Illinois is the fourth most affected state in the nation, with 73,760 total cases of COVID-19 and 3,241 deaths.

As of May 1, nursing home deaths accounted for 44 percent of Illinois fatalities due to the coronavirus.

The details of the governor’s plan had faithful Illinoisans furious.

According to the plan, it is not until Phase 5, or “Illinois Restored,” when “testing, tracing and treatment are widely available throughout the state,” and “either a vaccine is developed to prevent additional spread of COVID-19, a treatment option is readily available that ensures health care capacity is no longer a concern, or there are no new cases over a sustained period,” will gatherings, including religious services, of more than 50 people, be permitted.

On Friday, Romanian churches in Illinois filed a federal lawsuit against Pritzker, claiming his executive orders discriminate against churches by restricting worship services to ten people while other commercial entities, such as liquor and “big box” stores are permitted to accommodate larger groups.

The plan drew a number of lawsuits against the State of Illinois, with churches far and wide lining up to blast what they saw as an egregious overreach.

 

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Religion

Facebook Removes Coronavirus Prayers by Army Chaplains After Complaints from Christian-Haters

Facebook removed prayers posted by U.S. Army chaplains after Christian-hating groups complained that they represented “illicit proselytizing” of Christianity.

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Facebook has removed several prayers posted by several chaplains in the U.S. Army after a Christian-hating group complained that they represented “illicit proselytizing” of Christianity.

Facebook removed four videos recorded by chaplains Capt. Amy Smith and Maj. Scott Ingram which had been posted to the Facebook page of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade at Fort Drum, New York.

Facebook moved to delete the “offensive” prayers after the anti-Christian group Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRRF) demanded that the social media giant remove them.

The group falsely claimed that the videos were a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“These videos belong only on a chapel page, not on a base’s or unit’s main page,” said Chris Rodda, the hate group’s senior research director, according to Fox News. Rodda added that the group “has been seeing an uptick in a particular type of complaint — overt proselyting videos on official military Facebook pages.”

Per Fox News:

The alleged violations include Smith discussing the Fort Drum Spiritual Fitness Trail in a video that was posted April 17, saying, “You are invited to pray, to pray for the family, to pray for the sick, and to pray for our leaders.” In another video, Smith encouraged people to visit the Fort Drum Labyrinth as a great place to hear God’s voice.

Addressing the coronavirus pandemic on April 2, Ingram said, “God encourages us not to be dismayed by what we see around us, things we cannot control. We can, however, with the best intel in this moment, place our trust in him, walk forward in his strength, and treat others with kindness.”

Not everyone agreed with Fascistbook’s removal of the videos.

Mike Berry, a lawyer for the First Liberty Institute, said he was shocked to find out the news and questioned why MRFF is focused on this issue.

“At a time when our nation is hurting and many feel hopeless, why on earth would Mikey Weinstein attack prayer?” Berry told Fox News. “America has the strongest military in history, but our brave service members are not immune to the havoc COVID-19 has wreaked.”

He added, “I cannot believe the legendary U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division raised the white flag of surrender to an anti-religious freedom zealot. Every president, from Washington to Trump, has publicly prayed for our military. If the commander in chief can pray, then our soldiers can, too.”

Exactly right.

The Constitution gives us all freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.

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Religion

Disastrous Pope Uses Easter to Suggest Using Coronavirus to Institute World-Wide Socialism

The worst pope in modern memory is at it again, saying that the world should use the coronavirus as a smoke screen to institute a full communist takeover of the world.

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The worst pope in modern memory is at it again, pushing leftism instead of religion, this time saying that the world should use the coronavirus as a smoke screen to institute a full communist takeover of the world.

On Easter Sunday, the pope brazenly used one of Christendom’s holiest of days to push his communist ideals by issuing a letter urging leaders of social movements to use the viral outbreak to unleash a new era of “change.”

Instead of sticking to Catholicism, the pope used Easter to push for “structural changes” to the world, and to put an end to the “economy of exclusion and inequality.”

He also said that the world should spur radical change for a “humanistic and ecological conversion” to institute his real religion of leftism and climate change. He also expressed support of a universal “basic income” — that being a new favorite communist goal aimed at undermining both the world’s governments and the capitalist system.

As PJ Media noted:

In the letter, the pope argues that these activists are “invisible to the system. Market solutions do not reach the peripheries, and State protection is hardly visible there.” Rather than encouraging philanthropy to reach these peripheries, Francis writes to encourage “you who are looked upon with suspicion when through community organization you try to move beyond philanthropy or when, instead of resigning and hoping to catch some crumbs that fall from the table of economic power, you claim your rights.”

In this context, Francis endorses a UBI. “I know that you have been excluded from the benefits of globalization. You do not enjoy the superficial pleasures that anesthetize so many consciences, yet you always suffer from the harm they produce,” he argues. “Street vendors, recyclers, carnies, small farmers, construction workers, dressmakers, the different kinds of caregivers: you who are informal, working on your own or in the grassroots economy, you have no steady income to get you through this hard time … and the lockdowns are becoming unbearable. This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage which would acknowledge and dignify the noble, essential tasks you carry out. It would ensure and concretely achieve the ideal, at once so human and so Christian, of no worker without rights.”

The pope went on to suggest that the coronavirus is the time to spur these inhuman and anti-Christian changes:

“I hope that this time of danger will free us from operating on automatic pilot, shake our sleepy consciences and allow a humanist and ecological conversion that puts an end to the idolatry of money and places human life and dignity at the centre,” the pope’s letter continues. “Our civilization — so competitive, so individualistic, with its frenetic rhythms of production and consumption, its extravagant luxuries, its disproportionate profits for just a few — needs to downshift, take stock, and renew itself.”

This man is an utter disaster for the west and religion in general, and Catholics in particular.

Surely Satan is this man’s closest adviser.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.

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Muslim Rep. Rashida Tlaib Agrees ‘F**k Your National Day of Prayer’

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President Donald Trump recently declared a National Day of Prayer in the face of the coronavirus. But Michigan’s Muslim Democrat Rep. attacked Christians saying, “fuck your national day of prayer.”

The president issued his call to prayer on Friday.

“It is my great honor to declare Sunday, March 15th as a National Day of Prayer,” the president wrote on Twitter. “We are a Country that, throughout our history, has looked to God for protection and strength in times like these.”

“No matter where you may be, I encourage you to turn towards prayer in an act of faith. Together, we will easily PREVAIL!” Trump added.

But extremist, left-wing, Muslim, Rashida Tlaib, acted in full anti-Christian hate against the day of prayer proclamation by happily retweeting a message from anti-gun fanatic Davide Hogg.

“Don’t let this administration address COVID-19 like our national gun violence epidemic,” Hogg tweeted. “Fuck a National day of prayer, we need immediate comprehensive action.”

Tlaib loved Hogg’s tweet and gleefully passed it on to her followers.

After a backlash, though, Tlaib tried to claim that she was not attacking prayer.

“Let me be clear as someone who has been praying through this all & as someone who attended the National Prayer Breakfast,” she said later. “My retweet was not to be an attack on prayer. It was to bring attention to the need for meaningful action to combat this public health crisis.”

Sure, hon. Sure.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.

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