"Don't Make Me Lie"

by Chuck Colson

Not long ago, truth broke out in our nation’s capital.

The occasion was a meeting between President Clinton and members of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and the National Council of Churches. During the meeting, the president urged the NAE to withdraw its support for the Freedom from Religious Persecution Act. Why? Because, he might have to lie to avoid enforcing it.

It’s another example of how low our public morality has sunk.

For months, religious leaders have been gathering support for the Freedom from Religious Persecution Act. This Act would establish a White House office to monitor persecution overseas and impose sanctions against nations that persecute people for their faith.

The president, along with corporations such as Microsoft and Boeing, opposes the bill. They’re afraid that the countries that are subject to the sanctions will simply take their business to other countries.

The House International Relations Committee, by a large margin, recently reported the bill out to the floor to be voted on. The president’s response was to call on religious leaders and urge them not to push the bill through Congress, because if the bill passed into law, it would put "enormous pressure" on the White House to "fudge" the facts about persecution.

Whoa! In other words, the president was saying, "If you pass this bill, you are going to force me to lie."

What the president apparently didn’t realize was that a reporter for the New York Times was in the room, and the whole sorry spectacle ended up all over the newspapers.

It’s unimaginable to me that a president of the United States would even suggest that he would lie to avoid carrying out a law he disagrees with–and then add insult to injury by saying the bill’s sponsors are making him do it.

This blatant threat of mendacity is possible only in today’s debased moral climate. For months, pollsters have told us that Americans think that private morality has no bearing on a leader’s ability to perform his public job well. Today we see why that’s a lie: How a leader’s private morality inevitably spills over into the performance of his public duties. We have the sight of a president trying to get religious leaders to abandon a bill that would help the persecuted church–and then suggesting that he would lie if it passed.

Will we accept a president who mocks the law?

For Americans who have always held their public leaders as role models, this is a sad day. But many may simply shrug this off. If we do, the rule of law will suffer another grievous blow: We will be announcing that we accept a president who says he mocks the law.

If we do, we will get the government we deserve.

We’ll, you and I don’t have to accept it; we can do something. I suggest that you contact your congressional representative immediately. Ask him or her to get behind the Freedom from Religious Persecution Act. If this bill passes, as I pray it will, we need to hold the president’s feet to the fire. We need to demand that he tell the truth about countries that persecute our brothers and sisters in Christ, and to forcefully carry out the sanctions the law demands.

Our suffering brethren overseas shouldn’t be victimized twice: once by their own government and once again by our debased political order.