Not long ago, truth broke out in our
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.
Its 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
The president, along with corporations such as Microsoft and Boeing, opposes the bill.
Theyre 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 presidents 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 didnt 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.
Its 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 withand then add insult
to injury by saying the bills sponsors are making him do it.
This blatant threat of mendacity is possible only in todays debased moral
climate. For months, pollsters have told us that Americans think that private morality has
no bearing on a leaders ability to perform his public job well. Today we see why
thats a lie: How a leaders 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 churchand 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.
Well, you and I dont 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 presidents 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 shouldnt be victimized twice: once by their own
government and once again by our debased political order.