Several dozen representatives of think tanks, faith-based organizations and various levels of government noted what they say are anti-Christian and anti-American undercurrents and organized movements. Some, such as Muslim outreach programs with alleged ties to terrorism, are even funded in part by taxpayers, one speaker said. Others focused on issues such as immigration that require a compassionate yet firm approach.
Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy and research with the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Freedom Commission, joined four other experts in a panel discussion addressing immigration issues.
The panelists generally agreed border security is the first step to solving U.S. immigration problems. Only 44 percent of the country's southern border is under "operational control," according to the General Accounting Office (GAO). Undocumented workers are aliens who either have come to this country illegally (more than 50 percent) or have overstayed their visas (more than 40 percent).
The panelists discussed how to formulate a comprehensive program that balances compassion with the rule of law.
"We are saying, make border security the priority and then put some kind of certifying process in place that would kick in the next component," Duke said.
The immigration gridlock in Congress, Duke said, comes from Democrats focusing on fewer restrictions for undocumented workers and Republicans being more concerned about border security.
"We need to think through these problems, not only as concerned citizens but also as Christians," Duke said. "It makes sense that we should go to the Bible to look for guidance. How did God tell Israel to deal with the strangers, the aliens in their midst? He said to deal compassionately with them -- to love the strangers in their midst just like they loved themselves, to provide for them, to respect their dignity as people created in the image of God. We need to provide a way for those who are peace-loving and who share our values to get on a legal track so they can come out of the darkness, and so we don't consign them or their children to a life of poverty."
Carlos Campo, a Latino who is president of Regent University, said, "I am ashamed at the leadership of this nation. We are talking about primarily Latinos, and they do not trust the government. We have to address the rule of law that was broken, but we have to get people out of the shadows."
"We are not vested in keeping people out," said Becky Norton Dunlop, vice president for external relations of the Heritage Foundation, "but we need an ordered system of documentation."
DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL
A breakout session titled "Religious Liberty and the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Agenda: A Zero-Sum Game in the Military and Beyond" also was featured at the conference, sponsored by the Freedom Federation April 8-9 at Liberty University and Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va.
This panel, too, addressed how to meld compassion with policy issues -- to respond to gay-identified people and those struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction while addressing the issues pertaining to the radical aims of the homosexual lobby.
"We do not hate individuals engaged in the homosexual lifestyle," said Matt Barber, associate dean at Liberty University School of Law. "However, we are to call sin 'sin.' Sexual relativism -- the clash between worldviews -- has clear lines of demarcation."
Attorney Cynthia Dunbar of Liberty Counsel said, "What is interesting is that we have a community defining itself on the basis of proclivity towards our sin nature." She added, "Homosexuals are telling the body of Christ what love looks like. But love, just like truth, is the person of Jesus Christ."
Panel members conceded that the sexuality worldview battle is largely lost in the realm of education, pointing to bullying as the most recent school cause celebre for homosexual activists. Acknowledging that bullying is a serious problem, both Barber and Greg Quinlan, president of Parents and Friends of Gays and Ex-Gays (PFOX), also called it a "Trojan Horse strategy" -- a crisis being hijacked for political gain.
Panelist Robert Knight, executive director of the American Civil Rights Union, spoke of the dangers he and others believe the U.S. military faces if President Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael Mullen certify the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
"America should be appalled that ... we are going to use our United States military, the most powerful force ever assembled in the world, as a battering ram against God's morality," Knight said.
A panel addressing "Shariah Law and the Constitution" discussed another sobering threat against national security. Panel moderator Frank Gaffney, founder and president of the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., set forth a background report.
"Shariah is a totalitarian political, military and legal doctrine," Gaffney said. "One of the things that shariah obligates its adherents to engage in is jihad, the purpose of which is to bring about the triumph of shariah worldwide." Jihad, as established by the Islamic prophet Mohammed, is preferably a kind of holy war waged though terrifying violence, he added.
"When it is impracticable to engage in violence, shariah-adherent Muslims are still obliged to engage in jihad through stealthy techniques or, in the words of the Muslim Brotherhood, 'civilization jihad,'" said Gaffney, who added the majority of Muslims are not shariah adherents. The credo of the Muslim Brotherhood is to "destroy Western civilization from within." Also of great concern to Americans are recent developments in Egypt, the strongest U.S. ally in the Middle East, Gaffney noted, pointing to a growing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood there.
Gaffney recapped how U.S. officials found a large cache of Muslim Brotherhood archived documents in 2004 in a concealed sub-basement of a Northern Virginia house. The 2008 Holy Land Foundation trial (which focused on Islamic terrorist funding in the guise of a charitable organization) brought these documents to light, especially one known as the manifesto of the Muslim Brotherhood, which details plans for subversive operations in the U.S.
"They are doing it through influence operations, the target set of which is comprehensive -- government, law enforcement, intelligence agencies, the military, penal institutions, media think tanks, political entities, academic institutions -- and they are very aggressively targeting non-Muslim religious communities in the name of ecumenicalism," Gaffney said.
Gaffney pointed out that a program to mainstream shariah into America's economy led to more than $1 billion of taxpayer money being given to American International Group, the largest purveyor of seemingly innocuous shariah-compliant insurance/investment products to Muslims.
Another Muslim outreach organization with troubling ties to terrorist funding is the Islamic Free Market Institute, set up in 1999, Gaffney pointed out. A Muslim Brotherhood operative, Abdurahman Alamoudi, who initially funded the Islamic Free Market Institute, was allowed under the Clinton administration to "identify, train and credential" Muslim chaplains for the military and the prison system.
Shariah-adhering Muslims are not merely practicing a religion but are actively working to take over society, the panelists agreed, punctuating what Gaffney shared with real-life illustrations from their own perspectives. They urged Christians to become involved to ensure that America's government remains one whose powers are "derived from the consent of the governed."
"There is nothing un-Christian about . It is being co-workers of the truth," said Jim Lafferty, chairman of the Virginia Anti-Shariah Task Force.
Debbie Thurman is a writer in Monroe, Va.
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