A Christian activist told U.S. senators on Wednesday that the persecution of Christians in the United States was encouraging the persecution of Christians abroad. A conservative attorney, on the other hand, attempted to dash any comparisons between alleged discrimination towards U.S. Christians and the brutal mistreatment of Middle East Christians.
During a Senate subcommittee hearing on “protecting religious freedom abroad,” Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) cited the Biblical verse Matthew 7:5 to question the witnesses about the persecution of religious people in the United States.
“Is the U.S. in the position today to be talking about religious liberty overseas when we clearly have a lot of work to do in our own country?” he asked.
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council replied that there was a "correlation" between intolerance towards Christians in the United States and religious persecutions abroad.
"When we no longer make it a priority here domestically, that sends a message to bad actors abroad that America no longer puts a high priority on religious freedom, so we don’t have to worry about them asking against us or moving against us based on that. I mean, you look at the case of the HHS [contraception] mandate – the Hobby Lobby case – which had to go all the way to the Supreme Court to give that private held business the right to exercise their religion."
But attorney Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative Christian alternative to the American Civil Liberties Union, shot down any comparisons between religious persecution abroad and the treatment of Christians in the United States.
"I don't think we can compare a situation in the United States that I would classify as acts of religious discrimination that do exist -- and Hobby Lobby, in my view, is an example -- but that is not on the same level of religious persecution where people are having their throats slit, being crucified, or being beheaded," he told the senators. "So, I think the question is, even when we get Supreme Court cases we disagree with the Supreme Court on, I would not trade the U.S. system for any system in the world.
"And I still think we have the ability, because of the constitutional framework that we have, at the end of the day we protect religious freedom," Sekulow continued. "It may take court action, but at least we have a court action we can take to do it. These countries don't have that... I think we have the best system in the world, even with its faults."
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