For Greg Abbott, it’s out of the Jade Helm frying pan and into the Garland fire

“Texas. It appears you are on the verge of being taken over by ISIS … or the United States of America.”

Jon Stewart, the Daily Show. May 4, 2015.

Good day Austin:

Yesterday for me started out at 7 a.m. with the Texas State Prayer Breakfast in Austin. Afterwards, Gov. Greg Abbott spoke to reporters for a few minutes about Jade Helm 15 and about the shooting and killing of two Muslim men in Garland Sunday night who staged an armed attack on a event sponsored by a New York group called the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which was offering a $10,000 prize for the best cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

Abbott’s comments would yield two stories, one Abbott defends cartoon contest’s First Amendment right to mock Muhammad – and the other  – Abbott said hubbub about Jade Helm order is much ado about very little.

When I arrived home at 10 last night, I flipped on the TV, the Daily Show was just starting, and, lo and behold, Jon Stewart was reporting on precisely the same two stories, perfectly synthesized in the quote above.

Wow. Uncanny. Small world. Talk about tough competition.

If you haven’t already watched it, do.

Here it is followed by some expressive screen grabs.

On Jade Helm, I wrote:

“Listen, what’s going on here is really very simple,” Abbott told reporters. “What we’re doing is serving as a communication facilitator between the Special Operations Forces and the people of the state of Texas and nothing more than that.

“We are playing a pivotal role of government, and that is to provide information for people who have questions,” Abbott said. “It is clear that people in Bastrop had questions, it’s clear from the questions I have received in my office that people have questions about it, and as governor and as government, I think we have an obligation to answer questions of citizens. And, by us working with the Special Operations Forces, we are able to provide information to citizens who were concerned about it.

Screenshot 2015-05-05 04.59.40

 

Among the citizens with questions was apparently Abbott’s good friend and supporter, Chuck Norris, who was at yesterday’s prayer breakfast, where he gave a humble and endearing, though, at more than 45 minutes, perhaps overlong, accounting of his unlikely life and career.

Screenshot 2015-05-05 06.19.00

In his Culture Wars column at World Net Daily on Monday, Norris, who famously fears no man, wrote:

Last week, I laughed as some progressives in the mainstream media tried to mock Gov. Abbott for telling the Texas State Guard to monitor the Pentagon’s Jade Helm 15 military ops that are occurring this summer in seven states, including California and Texas.

If you haven’t heard about Jade Helm 15, you need to. It is multi-state training mission for special operations soldiers scheduled over an eight-week period in July and August, with most of the activity happening on private property but some public, too. The official website press release from March 24 admits: “While multi-state training exercises such as these are not unique to the military, the size and scope of Jade Helm sets this one apart.”

Gov. Abbott reading from his Jade Helm directive

Gov. Abbott reading from his Jade Helm directive

Gov. Abbot was right in writing Maj. Gen. Gerald Betty, “During the training operation, it is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed.” Abbott is demanding “regular updates on the progress and safety of the Operation.”

Chuck as Walker, Texas Ranger

Chuck as Walker, Texas Ranger

Concerned Texans and Americans are in no way calling into question our brave and courageous men and women in uniform. They are merely following orders. What’s under question are those who are pulling the strings at the top of Jade Helm 15 back in Washington. The U.S. government says, “It’s just a training exercise.” But I’m not sure the term “just” has any reference to reality when the government uses it.

“Well, I’m not trusting what we’re being told,” said Mike Hightower, an affable antique store owner and real-estate agent in the very small town of Smithville, Texas, where some Jade Helm 15 exercises will take place. He added, “I think there’s something a little more involved than what they’re telling us.”

Screenshot 2015-05-05 06.22.12

If Washington wants to cool the embers of controversy, then it should quit stoking the fire, as with the posting of a map of Jade Helm 15 “just” exercises that label some areas of the country, including Texas, as “hostile,” according to KHOU 11 News in Houston and verified by the Washington Post.

I have an idea: If the government insists on running expanded military ops across seven Southwest states, why doesn’t it move all that “military training” south and protect our borders at the same time?!

Whatever Jade Helm 15 actually is, I think it is more than coincidental that the FBI director just confessed in February that the presence of ISIS can be felt in all 50 states of the U.S. and that the Pentagon is suddenly running its biggest military training exercise with every branch of the military across seven Southwestern states. Whether deterrence, display of power or something more covert or devious, let’s not come with any patronizing nonsense of impotence and simplicity when its origin is in Washington.

I’m glad Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is asking the tough questions of the Pentagon about Jade Helm 15, particularly because its “exercises” come too near to my ranch’s backdoor as well, at least according to the map. It’s pretty sad and bad when major military ops are ordered in a large, fiery state like Texas and not even the governor or its senators know the specifics.

It’s neither over-reactionary nor conspiratorial to call into question or ask for transparency about Jade Helm 15 or any other government activity. To those who merely think we should check our brains at the door of the White House and trust what the government does, I would reiterate to you the words of one of our government’s primary founders, Benjamin Franklin, who said, “Distrust and caution are the parents of security.” Again, he also said, “Security without liberty is called prison.” But then again, I’m sure some today would accuse Franklin of being conspiratorial, too!

Screenshot 2015-05-05 05.15.35

On Jade Helm, I thought the governor yesterday acquitted himself well in explaining how what he had done was a perfectly reasonable and rational response and, in effect, a small price to pay to put Chuck Norris’s mind at ease.

 

 

Screenshot 2015-05-05 06.24.12

But, on the Garland attack, I thought the governor missed an opportunity.

From my story:

 Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday defended the free speech rights of the sponsors of a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Garland on Sunday at which two men were killed by police after they opened fire on the event.

“We live in a country where the First Amendment is one of the paramount promises of this nation, and that provides people with the ability to speak out, to say what they want, just as people draw cartoons mocking the governor and people may draw cartoons mocking others,” Abbott told reporters following Monday morning’s Texas State Prayer Breakfast in Northeast Austin, where he talked about the need to defend religious liberty from attack.

But the head of the ACLU of Texas and Islamic leaders found the governor’s statement wanting, as Abbott declined to take the opportunity to also condemn the spirit and motivation of the event sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which seemed deliberately designed to draw a response.

“They would have been disappointed if something hadn’t happened; it was what they wanted, ” said Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas.

“I disagree with the governor. This is not the same as someone mocking him,” Burke added. “Mocking, that’s a frivolous thing. This was not frivolous. This is so much more than that, and I think it requires more than a legalistic response, which is really the way the governor responded.”

Recall, for example, when the neo-Nazis wanted to march in Skokie, Ill.

From a retrospective account in 2013 from Joe Winkler of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency

In 1977, the leader of the Nationalist Socialist Party of America, Frank Collin, announced a march through the Chicago suburb of Skokie, Ill. While a neo-Nazi march would be controversial under any circumstances, the fact that one out of six people in Skokie were Holocaust survivors made it even more provocative. Chicago authorities took steps to prevent it, including requiring the NSPA to post $350,000 worth of liability insurance in case any damage occurred. Authorities also banned the display of Nazi images, explaining that the violence that might have been incited overrode free speech protections.

The dispute drew national attention. After the march was initially cancelled, the ACLU took up the case at the urging of Jewish lawyer Joseph Burton, who defended the NSPA’s right to freedom of speech and assembly. Victor Rosenblum, a professor of law at Northwestern University and past chairman of the Anti-Defamation League’s Chicago branch, made the counter-argument: “The Nazis’ march in paraphernalia is a reminder of the most destructive movement in history. They stand for the destruction and wiping out of human beings. This is not constitutionally protected.”

An initial court ruling said the NSPA could march in uniform but not display the swastika, finding that the symbol constitutes “fighting words” unprotected by the Constitution. The court also upheld the liability insurance requirement, despite the fact that it effectively would have made the rally unfeasible. The case was challenged in the Supreme Court in 1977, which declined to overturn the lower court ruling but instructed the state of Illinois to “provide strict procedural safeguards” if it moved to limit free speech.

In January 1978, the Illinois Supreme Court decided that the NSPA march was constitutionally protected, including the right to wear swastikas, ruling that “the display of the swastika, as offensive to the principles of a free nation as the memories it recalls may be, is symbolic political speech intended to convey to the public the beliefs of those who display it.” In February, a federal court went even further, ruling that the ordinances intended to prevent the march were unconstitutional.

The NSPA march was held on June 25, 1978, though the march never materialized. About 20 or so  Nazis congregated for only ten minutes, and throngs of Jewish and other groups drowning out their voices. Jewish organizations planned counter marches not only in Skokie, but in New York City and other places.

Meir Kahane also held a rally in 1977, after the initial cancellation but prior to the court rulings permitting it to go ahead. Kahane urged a crowd estimated at 400 to “kill Nazis now” and to arm themselves, exhorting them: “Every Jew a .22.”

I interviewed Kahane once in Springfield, Massachusetts, around that time. The local Jewish community wanted to deny him an opportunity for a public forum. He felt his right to free speech was being abridged. He memorably called the Springfield Jewish leadership a bunch of “vapid dwarfs.”

He went on to become a major figure in Israeli politics. He was killed by an Arab gunman in Manhattan in 1990.

In the context of the free speech debate emerging out of the incident in Garland, Kahane would be the spiritual blood brother of the two Islamic gunmen who were killed – there is no right to free speech if it defames my people and blasphemes my faith. Prepare to die.

And, in their own way, the organizers of the cartoon contest are playing the role of the National Socialist Party of America.

The difference is that public officialdom, in the case of Skokie and the Nazis, did not simply say – well, the Nazis have a right to march, period.

They either said, they shouldn’t be allowed to march, or, said, they have a right to march but it is a terrible thing they are doing that must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

But in this case, it is Islam, not Jews under attack, and it seems OK to say, the law protects free speech. Period.

After repeating that the organizers of the event had a right to do it, Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe this morning asked, “Why do it? Why offend a billion Muslims? Most of them are good law-abiding people who are not involved in terrorism. I don’t see the purpose of an event like this.”

But, Scarborough answered his own question: “The whole purpose of the event is to offend a billion Muslims.”

Meet Pamela Geller, the lead organizer of Sunday’s event, who has been on TV quite a bit since the shootings, which, she said, amply prove her point, that Islam is a danger in our midst.

 

Pamela Geller illustration from Southern Poverty Law Center

Pamela Geller illustration from Southern Poverty Law Center

 

“We are here for freedom,” Geller said. “Everything else is smear.”

Here is the take on Geller from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s file on “hate groups.”

(note: I am aware of and think there is merit to the claim that the SPLC is overzealous, overbroad and sometimes wrong in its identification of hate groups, but that does not mean that the information they gather and compile is not useful.)

PAMELA GELLER
ORGANIZATIONS Executive director and co-founder (with Robert Spencer; see below) of Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) and the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), an umbrella group encompassing SIOA. Both are listed as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Runs the Atlas Shrugs blog.

CREDENTIALS Self-styled expert on Islam with no formal training in the field. Co-produced with Spencer the film “The Ground Zero Mosque: Second Wave of the 9/11 Attacks,” which was first screened at the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference. Co-author with Spencer of The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America (2010).

SUMMARY Geller has seized the role of the anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and influential figurehead. Her strengths are panache and vivid rhetorical flourishes — not to mention stunts like posing for an anti-Muslim video in a bikini — but she also can be coarse in her broad-brush denunciations of Islam. Geller does not pretend to be learned in Islamic studies, leaving the argumentative heavy lifting to SIOA partner Spencer. She is prone to publicizing preposterous claims, such as President Obama being the “love child” of Malcolm X, and once suggested that recent U.S. Supreme Court appointee Elena Kagen, who is Jewish, supports Nazi ideology. Geller has mingled with European racists and fascists, spoken favorably of South African racists and defended Serbian war criminal Slobodan Milosevic. She is a self-avowed Zionist who is sharply critical of Jewish liberals.

IN HER OWN WORDS “Islam is not a race. This is an ideology. This is an extreme ideology, the most radical and extreme ideology on the face of the earth.”
— On Fox Business’ “Follow the Money,” March 10, 2011

“No, no, they can’t. … I don’t think that many westernized Muslims know when they pray five times a day that they’re cursing Christians and Jews five times a day. … I believe in the idea of a moderate Muslim. I do not believe in the idea of a moderate Islam. I think a moderate Muslim is a secular Muslim.”
— Quoted in The New York Times, responding to a question as to whether devout practicing Muslims can be political moderates, Oct. 8, 2010

“In the war between the civilized man and the savage, you side with the civilized man. … If you don’t lay down and die for Islamic supremacism, then you’re a racist anti-Muslim Islamophobic bigot. That’s what we’re really talking about.”
— Quoted in The New York Times, Oct. 8, 2010

What would Rick Perry do?

What would Rick Perry do?

On last night’s Daily Show, Stewart wondered why it was that Texas, under Gov. Perry, was so amenable to large-scale military exercises on Texas soil early in the “2000-aughts.”

“I don’t know what’s changed.”

An image of President Obama, appeared alongside Stewart.

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Ah, Stewart said, “America elected a brutal socialist, Kenyan, ineffective, Harvard Law School, constitutional professor, agitator, warlock.”

But, try as he might, that is a temperate understatement compared to what Geller has had to say about Obama.

As compiled by Brian Levin, former associate director for legal affairs of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s  Klanwatch/Militia Task Force in the mid 1990s.

Her website Atlas Shrugs, has unleashed the contentions that:

– President Obama is the illegitimate child of Malcolm X,
– had a sexual affair with a “crack whore”,
– “wants jihad to win”,
– he was not born in the United States,
– he never repudiated his Muslim faith,
– and that the raid on the bin Laden compound was carried out by a coup over the President‘s refusal.

More from Levin:

The First Amendment gives Geller a soapbox on the Internet and the lecture circuit, but it also gives responsible organizations the choice not to give a platform to or associate with bigots. As Dr. Ibish rightly observes, “The appropriate response to hate speech is constructive speech, but organizations that are or wish to be respectable have an obligation not to treat hate speech as legitimate contributions to our national conversation. They are not.”

Free speech rightfully protects even conspiratorial haters to exploit fears from stereotypes, and animus from half-truths. It also requires that people of good will completely repudiate such contemptible manifestations of Islamophobia in the strongest terms possible. In the past I have vigorously criticized Muslim organizations (without hearing much from them) and those on the left and in academia for promoting or tolerating anti-Semitism. Jewish organizations who themselves have combatted anti-Semitism have a special moral obligation to make it known that religious bigotry, especially under the mantle of expediency or fear, is a unique toxin that poisons the lifeblood of all civilized pluralistic societies.

From Anne Barnard and Alan Feuer in 2010 in the New York Times:

PAMELA GELLER’S apartment, in the fashion of the blogosphere, doubles as her office. It is a modern full-floor unit in a high-rise on the East Side of Manhattan that could belong to a socialite or the editor of a lifestyle magazine. There is ample light and a tasteful lack of clutter. The kitchen appliances are made of brushed steel; the countertops are slate. In the earth-toned living room hangs a painting, in vibrant colors, of a woman in a swimsuit.

It is in this genteel setting that Ms. Geller, 52 and a single mother of four, wakes each morning shortly after 7, switches on her laptop and wages a form of holy war through Atlas Shrugs, a Web site that attacks Islam with a rhetoric venomous enough that PayPal at one point branded it a hate site. Working here — often in fuzzy slippers — she has called for the removal of the Dome of the Rock from atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem; posted doctored pictures of Elena Kagan, the Supreme Court justice, in a Nazi helmet; suggested the State Department was run by “Islamic supremacists”; and referred to health care reform as an act of national rape.

Ms. Geller has been writing since 2005, but this summer she skyrocketed to national prominence as the firebrand in chief opposing Park51, the planned Muslim community center she denounces as “the ground zero mega-mosque.”

Operating largely outside traditional Washington power centers — and, for better or worse, without traditional academic, public-policy or journalism credentials — Ms. Geller, with a coterie of allies, has helped set the tone and shape the narrative for a divisive national debate over Park51 (she calls the developer a “thug” and a “lowlife”). In the process, she has helped bring into the mainstream a concept that after 9/11 percolated mainly on the fringes of American politics: that terrorism by Muslims springs not from perversions of Islam but from the religion itself. Her writings, rallies and television appearances have both offended and inspired, transforming Ms. Geller from an Internet obscurity, who once videotaped herself in a bikini as she denounced “Islamofascism,” into a media commodity who has been profiled on “60 Minutes” and whose phraseology has been adopted by Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin.

FOR Ms. Geller, the battle against Park51 is only part of a much larger crusade in which she is joined by an influential if decentralized coalition that includes former generals, new-media polemicists, researchers and evangelicals who view Islam as a politically driven religion, barbaric at its core and expansionist by nature. Her closest partner is Robert Spencer, the proprietor of Jihadwatch.org. Incorporation papers for their American Freedom Defense Initiative list as founding members Anders Gravers, a Danish “anti-Islamization” activist (“Jihad is the knife slicing the salami of freedom”) and John Joseph Jay (“There are no innocents in Islam”). Their lawyer, David Yerushalmi, has sought to criminalize the practice of Islam, when defined as adherence to Shariah, Islamic religious law.

And from Alan Feuer in today’s New York Times:

Less than a day after two gunmen were shot and killed while trying to attack a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas, Pamela Geller, the New York blogger who organized the contest, took to the Internet.

“Here’s what the enemies of freedom sought to crush last night,” Ms. Geller wrote. “Truth and freedom.” She added, “They were crushed instead.”

Though hailed by her supporters as a patriot and condemned by her critics as a bigot, Ms. Geller, everyone seems to agree, has never had trouble speaking her mind.

The cartoon competition, which she says was held in honor of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical newspaper that was itself attacked this winter by Muslim extremists angered by its caricatures of Muhammad, was only the latest in a long list of inflammatory events in which she has sought to marry a defense of free speech with assaults on Islam as a violent and hateful religion. But this was the first time her group came under violent attack.

She has had victories. Last month, in a case brought by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a pro-Israel organization that Ms. Geller runs, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled that New York transportation officials had to post subway advertisements purchased by the group despite concerns that they might lead to violence.

The ads, which the judge in the case, John G. Koeltl of United States District Court, referred to as “offensive,” feature a man in a head scarf near the words “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us closer to Allah,” attributed to “Hamas MTV.”

The ad also says: “That’s his Jihad. What’s yours?”

American Freedom Defense Initiative  New York subway ad

American Freedom Defense Initiative New York subway ad

 

A day after the shooting, Ms. Geller was not mincing words. “This incident shows how much needed our event really was,” Ms. Geller wrote of the cartoon competition in an email while flying from Texas back to New York. “Freedom of speech is under violent assault here in our nation. The question now before us is: Will we stand and defend it, or bow to violence, thuggery, and savagery?”

To blame her for baiting the dead gunmen into the attack, she said in a snippet I saw on TV today – “that’s like saying the rape victim is guilty because she wore a short skit. I will not abridge my freedom so as not to offend savages.”

Geller and company presented Sunday’s contest as one in solidarity with the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo.

In the wake of Garland, it is interesting to read, as reprinted in the Atlantic,  the remarks that Doonsebury’s Garry Trudeau delivered April 10 reflecting on Charlie Hebdo at the Long Island University’s George Polk Awards ceremony, where he received the George Polk Career Award.

I, and most of my colleagues, have spent a lot of time discussing red lines since the tragedy in Paris. As you know, the Muhammad cartoon controversy began eight years ago in Denmark, as a protest against “self-censorship,” one editor’s call to arms against what she felt was a suffocating political correctness. The idea behind the original drawings was not to entertain or to enlighten or to challenge authority—her charge to the cartoonists was specifically to provoke, and in that they were exceedingly successful. Not only was one cartoonist gunned down, but riots erupted around the world, resulting in the deaths of scores. No one could say toward what positive social end, yet free speech absolutists were unchastened. Using judgment and common sense in expressing oneself were denounced as antithetical to freedom of speech.

And now we are adrift in an even wider sea of pain. Ironically, Charlie Hebdo, which always maintained it was attacking Islamic fanatics, not the general population, has succeeded in provoking many Muslims throughout France to make common cause with its most violent outliers. This is a bitter harvest.

Traditionally, satire has comforted the afflicted while afflicting the comfortable. Satire punches up, against authority of all kinds, the little guy against the powerful. Great French satirists like Molière and Daumier always punched up, holding up the self-satisfied and hypocritical to ridicule. Ridiculing the non-privileged is almost never funny—it’s just mean.

By punching downward, by attacking a powerless, disenfranchised minority with crude, vulgar drawings closer to graffiti than cartoons, Charlie wandered into the realm of hate speech, which in France is only illegal if it directly incites violence. Well, voila—the 7 million copies that were published following the killings did exactly that, triggering violent protests across the Muslim world, including one in Niger, in which ten people died. Meanwhile, the French government kept busy rounding up and arresting over 100 Muslims who had foolishly used their freedom of speech to express their support of the attacks.

The White House took a lot of hits for not sending a high-level representative to the pro-Charlie solidarity march, but that oversight is now starting to look smart. The French tradition of free expression is too full of contradictions to fully embrace. Even Charlie Hebdo once fired a writer for not retracting an anti-Semitic column. Apparently he crossed some red line that was in place for one minority but not another.

What free speech absolutists have failed to acknowledge is that because one has the right to offend a group does not mean that one must. Or that that group gives up the right to be outraged. They’re allowed to feel pain. Freedom should always be discussed within the context of responsibility. At some point free expression absolutism becomes childish and unserious. It becomes its own kind of fanaticism.

In a reply  to Trudeau, David Frum wrote in the Atlantic.

In 2012, Garry Trudeau drew a series of strips about a Texas law requiring an ultrasound before an abortion. Trudeau’s point of view was ferocious: He had one of his characters pronounce, “By the authority invested in me by the GOP base, I thee rape.” Some newspapers found the series objectionable and declined to publish. In an interview with the Washington Post, Trudeau acknowledged the sensitivity of the subject matter. To avoid it, however, would be “comedy malpractice.” But here’s the good news: Nobody attempted to kill him. And because of the absence of threats, those who reported on the incident felt free to reproduce images from the series in their news accounts.

Once violence is deployed, however, everything changes. Here’s one of South Park’s contributions to the Muhammad cartoon debate—a contribution that, fittingly, was excised from TV.

(Uplifting music.)

You see, I learned something today. Throughout this whole ordeal, we all wanted to show things that we weren’t allowed to show. But it wasn’t because of some magic goo. It was because of the magical power of threatening people with violence. That’s obviously the only true power. If there’s anything we’ve all learned, it’s that terrorizing people works.

That’s right. Don’t you see, gingers: If you don’t want to be made fun of any more, all you need are guns and bombs to get people to stop.

And of course, South Park was right. Violence does work. Unlike Garry Trudeau’s abortion cartoons, news organizations that report on the Muhammad cartoon controversy typically omit the images at issue. And indeed, in the absence of violence, it’s hard to imagine that Garry Trudeau—a winner of the Pulitzer prize, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the recipient of 30 honorary degrees—would have been moved to condemn as “hate speech” the violation of someone else’s definition of blasphemy.

There was violence this time. The two Muslim assailants were killed and a security officer was wounded. But many more people could have been killed.

In today’s story I wrote:

Asked whether the cartoon contest could be criticized as a breach of sensitivity and respect if not law, Abbott said, “Well, let’s kind of go back in history if you don’t mind. Think of Jesus’ final days. He was one of the most mocked men in the world, mocked and ridiculed and spit upon. So part of what Jesus is all about is showing how a person is mocked but is elevated to being the savior.

“So I think that in America, people are free to express themselves about any kind of figure or religious figures,” Abbott said. “People have mocked Christians over the past few years, and what Christians believe is that we need to protect our religious liberties, but that doesn’t mean engaging in gun battles to do so.”

The governor’s remarks followed a speech in which he talked about what he described as an assault on religious liberty in America.:

That religious liberty is being tested as some try to silence the faithful and purge God from the public square. We see this with Catholic Nuns being forced to choose between a law imposed by the government or following the law of their Lord. We saw this in Houston when Pastors’ sermons were subpoenaed by their own Mayor. We saw this in Kountze, Texas when the Freedom From Religion Foundation tried to stop cheerleaders from displaying Bible verses on banners. We see this in the never-ending battle to defend the unborn. And we see this in the legal assault on marriage as defined by God. But we know that God’s law cannot be undone by man.

Against each of these challenges, Texans have fought to defend religious liberty through prayer and legal action.

But we need not fear these threats to our religious liberty. Because as 2 Corinthians says, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” Our religious liberty will be safeguarded as long as we hold-fast to the Spirit of the Lord.

Gov. Abbott after the prayer breakfast

Gov. Abbott after the prayer breakfast

Chuck Norris was followed at yesterday’s prayer breakfast by Evelyn Davison, who since 1974 has been leading the Texas observance of the the National Day of Prayer.

In her remarks she talked about the work of a “guy named Tom Doyle who has written a book, Dreams and Visions.”

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“Out of the Fort Worth-Dallas area, last summer when we had the Praising and Prayer Across Texas rally at the Capitol he came forth and, according to estimates, there were 5,000 young Islamic men who had come to faith in Jesus Christ,” Davison said to a burst of applause from the prayer breakfast audience of some 500.

“It took a long time to plow that field,” Davison said.

That’s all fine and good.

But it seems that Texas ought to offer Muslim-Americans the feeling that they are truly welcome here, even if they don’t come to Jesus.

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