These remarks were delivered at yesterday’s Faith and Freedom Coalition luncheon in DC.
Last year in Pakistan, 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban for being a girl and for wanting to go to school.
If you haven’t seen the YouTube videow of Malala being interviewed on national television, speaking out for the education of girls, watch and you will be amazed at her poise and grace.
Malala never met the great Urdu poet Parveen Shakir, who grew up in Pakistan when women could become highly educated and even Prime Minister.
This line from one of Shakir’s poems reminds me of Malala:
“They insist upon evaluating the firefly in daylight. The children of our age, have grown clever.”
Why would anyone want to kill this innocent young girl? Because Malala, in her young life, insisted on exposing the firefly to daylight.
Her “crime,” as seen by the Taliban, is to believe in enlightenment, to believe that out of the darkness a flicker of tolerance can glow and grow to overcome ignorance.
Americans are seen by Pakistanis as infidels and invaders. We will not in a thousand years bring enlightenment to Pakistan, only Pakistan can do that.
When Pakistan begins to police Pakistan better, when girls who long for nothing but freedom and education are embraced — rather than gunned down by murderous thugs — then will progress finally be made.
My heart breaks for Malala and her family. It breaks for all those who suffer under violent oppression in the name of religion. It breaks for those who cannot grow up to be poets and teachers, but mostly it breaks for those who cannot speak without being gunned down by extremists.
I can only hope that the violence done to her will motivate those who believe in both Islam and peace and tolerance to stand unanimously and proclaim this violence does not represent them. That the Taliban does not represent them. That gunning down children in cold blood does not please their God.
The violence and intolerance against girls is also directed toward Christians. It saddens me to see countries that are supposedly our allies persecute Christians.
It angers me to see my tax dollars supporting regimes that put Christians to death for blasphemy against Islam, countries that put to death Muslims who convert to Christianity, and countries who imprison anyone who marries outside their religion.
There is a war on Christianity, not just from liberal elites here at home, but worldwide.
And your government, or more correctly, you, the taxpayer, are funding it.
You are being taxed to send money to countries that are not only intolerant of Christians but openly hostile. Christians are imprisoned and threatened with death for their beliefs.
In Pakistan, Asia Bibi, a Christian, sits on death row. Her crime, according to her, is that she dared to drink from a glass that belonged to a Muslim co-worker.
According to her co-workers, she insulted the Prophet. In our country, we refer to such quibbling as gossip. In Pakistan, if you are a Christian, it can land you on death row.
Recently, in Pakistan, a 12-year-old with Downs syndrome was imprisoned and charged with a death penalty crime for burning the Koran.
After weeks she was released after a local Imam was accused of actually sprinkling pages from an Arabic book into a fire near the little girl.
Dr. Shakil Afridi is not a Christian but his imprisonment by Pakistan is nonetheless an injustice. He was tortured and held without charge for nearly a year.
He was shackled with his hands behind his back for months and he was finally imprisoned, likely for the rest of his life for the crime of helping America get Bin Laden.
How do your leaders respond? 90 % of them voted against my bill that would have put restrictions on this aid.
My bill said that Libya, Egypt, and Pakistan would get no more foreign aid from the US taxpayer unless they turned over the assassins that killed our ambassador, pledged and verified that they CAN and WILL protect our embassies, and in the case of Pakistan they must release Dr. Afridi.
Overwhelmingly, I was voted down. Is it any wonder that Congress has a 10% approval rating? In Egypt, in Pakistan, they burn our flag—I say not one penny more to countries that burn the American flag!
Even when we’ve tried through good intentions to make the world a better place our actions have often backfired.
During the Iraq War, over a quarter-million Iraqi Christians fled Iraq. Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator but his government was secular and therefore relatively safe for Christians. Christians, however, feared the Shiite government that we helped put in place after Saddam, and they fled in droves.
Where did these Christians go? They headed mostly for Syria, joining the over one million Syrians who have lived as Christians since the time of Christ.
Now, the senate is attempting to arm the rebel forces in syria, many of whom are al quaeda or affiliates. they do so out of a miguided attempt to stop the violence in syria.
Instead their actions will bring more violence and more persecution of Christians, who have long been protected in Syria.
Before the Arab Spring, Christianity flourished in small outposts, like the Coptic Christians in Egypt. I had hoped that the Arab Spring would bring freedom to long-oppressed people throughout the Middle East, but I fear the Arab Spring is becoming an Arab winter.
Today, Christians in Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Syria are on the run—persecuted or under fire—and yet, we continue to send aid to the folks chasing them.
While they burn the American flag and the mobs chant Death to America, more of your money is sent to these haters of Christianity.
Even if all the atrocities to Christians were not occurring in these countries, we simply don’t have the money to engage in this foolishness. We must borrow the money from China to send it to Pakistan.
While American soldiers spent a decade fighting to liberate Iraq and while American taxpayers have sent roughly $470 million each year in aid, Christians in Iraq are the subjects of what Carl Moeller, president of Open Doors, describes as “religicide.”
Before the toppling of Saddam Hussein, Mosul, a city in Iraq, was home to some 75,000 Christians, but now the number has dropped to around 25,000.
Christian homes are set on fire, bombs are being placed in their cars and Christian families are receiving letters threatening them to leave Iraq or be kidnapped or killed.
American soldiers have also risked their lives for the sake of these countries liberation. Our young men and women have fought for a noble cause but the law of unintended consequences is an unforgiving one.
These countries are not our true allies and no amount of money will make them so. They are not allies of Israel and I fear one day our money and military arms that we have paid for will be used against Israel.
This fight has made me unpopular in Washington but I am willing to risk unpopularity with politicians to do what I am convinced is right.
The new leader of Egypt is Mohammed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Recently, he stood by when a radical cleric said a prayer for the destruction of Israel and her supporters in his presence.
Actually, it is worse, he did not just stand by, he was seen to mouth the word “Amen” as the cleric said these words of hatred.
How does your government respond?
The bipartisan consensus in Washington vows to increase Egypt’s funding. The President is currently requesting a billion dollar increase in aid to Egypt.
This is an outrage! It is amazing that so many in Washington fail to see who the real enemies are. We should immediately stop sending F-16’s and tanks to Egypt!
It is clear that American taxpayer dollars are being used to enable a war on Christianity in the Middle East and I believe that must end.
When Pope John Paul II spoke about a “culture of death,” he talked about “a war of the powerful against the weak.”
As Christians, we know we must always stand with the most defenseless. I believe that no civilization can long endure that does not respect life from those not yet born to life’s last breath.
I am the sponsor of a life are conception act in the senate, and I will stand up for unborn children as long as I am privileged to be in office.
These days Christians are often unified in our defense of the not yet born but I exhort you to remember the 19-year-olds who are sent into battle.
War is not a game or a sport and any politician who speaks of pre-emptive war with gleeful bravado should not be leading any nation.
As we sit here, our brave troops risk their lives, serving our country with faithfulness and honor. They endure harsh conditions, loneliness and great danger. I pray for their safe return each day and I pray for an end to the war.
I can recall no utterance of Jesus in favor of war or any acts of aggression. In fact, his message to his disciples was one of non-resistance. I do not believe that means that we don’t defend ourselves.
I believe individuals and countries can and should defend themselves. But I simply can’t imagine Jesus at the head of any army of soldiers and I think as Christians we need to be wary of the doctrine of pre-emptive war.
We must and should stand with our fellow Christians in the Middle East and around the world—but that does not necessarily mean war and it certainly does not mean arming sides in every conflict.
Jesus, himself, reminds us of this in the Sermon on the Mount, when he proclaims, Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Today, we have a culture that accepts the wanton disposal of millions of innocent children, and sends aid to countries that persecute Christians. . . . . I, for one, will not rest until this injustice ends.
As Christians, we understand that the right to life, and freedom of religion, pre-exist all government. These rights are not granted to man by other men, these rights are granted to us by our Creator.
God, help us in these troubling times to make wise decisions, to make moral decisions, and to listen to the voice of God that lives and breathes and resides in us all. Amen.