More than they have been at any other time in U.S. history, our First Amendment freedoms of speech and religion are in jeopardy. As if recently passed "hate crime" laws and a politically correct culture weren't bad enough. Now our president is using international pressure and possibly law to establish a prohibition against insulting Islam or Muslims.
Let me remind us how we got here.
Speaking for most Founding Fathers in his day, John Jay, the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, appointed by George Washington himself, said, "Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest, of a Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."
Two hundred years later, President Barack Obama has denied America's rich Judeo-Christian heritage before the eyes and ears of other countries, as he publicly declared in Turkey on April 6, 2009, "We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation."
Then there was Cairo in June 2009, when President Obama vowed to establish "a new beginning between the United States and Muslims." He continued: "I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn't. And I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear."
Therein lie two of the most unique U.S. presidential religious passions and missions in the history of the U.S. First, "I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear." Second, to create a "partnership between America and Islam." (Notice the partnership is between our country and a religion, not other countries or Arab states. That's key!)
Roughly six months later, in February, President Obama appointed Rashad Hussain to serve as his special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, an intergovernmental body of 56 Muslim countries, which also forms an official body represented in the United Nations. (Where is the same treatment from this White House for countries that uphold Judeo-Christian religions and values? Or any other religion?)
President Obama rejoiced, "I'm proud to announce today that I am appointing my special envoy to the OIC, Rashad Hussain. ... A close and trusted member of my White House staff, Rashad has played a key role in developing the partnerships I called for in Cairo."
In 2007, then-President George W. Bush explained the initial purpose for an OIC representative: "Our special envoy will listen to and learn from representatives from Muslim states and will share with them America's views and values."
But President Obama has upped the OIC ante considerably. The White House purports from its website that special envoy and hafiz Rashad Hussain "will deepen and expand the partnerships that the United States has pursued with Muslims around the world since President Obama's speech in Cairo."
Again, notice the differences between the Bush and Obama plans with the special OIC envoy, from Bush's mission to "listen to and learn from representatives" to Obama's mission to "deepen and expand the partnerships."
The world also just learned recently from the assistant secretary for public affairs in the State Department, P.J. Crowley, that the White House repeatedly has sent to the Middle East as an American ambassador of peace the Islamic fundamentalist and executive director of the ground zero mosque, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is teaching on Muslim life in America and promoting religious tolerance.
But doesn't one who called the U.S. an "accessory" to 9/11 just a few weeks after the tragic event and one who still refuses to call Hamas a foreign terrorist organization seem a strange choice for a U.S. ambassador of peace who promotes religious tolerance?
It is absolutely no surprise, therefore, though gravely unfortunate and disappointing for our commander in chief, that last Friday night, while celebrating Ramadan at a White House dinner, he shared with a gathering of Muslims that he is in favor of building the mosque near ground zero! And he repeated his strong advocacy the next day, too.
White House spokesman Bill Burton reiterated last Saturday, "What he said last night and reaffirmed today is that if a church, a synagogue or a Hindu temple can be built on a site, you simply cannot deny that right to those who want to build a mosque."
But I could not agree more with Sally Regenhard, whose firefighter son was killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11: "As an Obama supporter, I really feel that he's lost sight of the germane issue, which is not about freedom of religion. It's about a gross lack of sensitivity to the 9/11 families and to the people who were lost."
And Debra Burlingame, a spokeswoman for some 9/11 families and the sister of one of the pilots killed in the attacks, summed it up perfectly: "Barack Obama has abandoned America at the place where America's heart was broken nine years ago and where her true values were on display for all to see."
President Obama is not just rebooting America's image in the Muslim world. He's deepening and expanding Islamic belief, practice and culture around the world, like a Muslim missionary.
Next week, I will discuss how the Obama administration has changed course in just this past year regarding passing anti-First Amendment defamation of religion resolutions, as well as demonstrate how Obama has been prejudiced in his treatment of Christianity versus Islam.