As social conservatives look back on 2011, it was a year filled with a number of successes spurred by increased challenges: from political correctness run amuck to outright assaults by angry atheists on our national heritage.
The year started off on the right foot. For the first time, Congress read the Constitution on the House floor - a needed reminder of our limited form of government and a tradition we hope continues for years to come.
The House then moved on to objective number one: stopping ObamaCare. The House votes to repeal and defund ObamaCare early this year set the stage for the battle ahead. For more than two years we have been fighting against this pro-abortion law that threatens our liberty, and now the Supreme Court will finally determine its constitutionality once and for all in 2012 (oral arguments are set for March 26-28, 2012 ).
The battle between conservative and liberal for the heart and soul of America was clearly displayed in the ongoing budget battles. The budget is a moral document and it determines whether America will fall further and further into the trap of debt. While some mistakenly believe that Jesus was a socialist, it is in fact our job as Christians, not the government’s job, to care for the poor through charity not the coercion of government. Thus, caring for the poor cannot be an excuse for saddling our children and our grandchildren with more debt.
Social conservatives, or teavangelicals as they have been called, played a prominent role in the Republican presidential primary this year. Each of the candidates have made his or her pitch to social conservatives, and it is this key voting block that will eventually choose the Republican nominee.
This year also saw the largest upheaval in recent memory in the most tumultuous region of the world--the Arab Spring in the Middle East. Unfortunately, the cry for democracy has been overshadowed by the threat of radical Islam, as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and radical factions in other areas of the Middle East have taken power.
One example of the potential consequences of Islamists theocracy in the Middle East is the case of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani who faces execution for his faith by the Iranian regime. At the ACLJ, we have been working tirelessly to save this Christian pastor’s life, from working directly with his Muslim attorney in Iran to meeting with the State Department. After we, along with nearly 200,000 ACLJ members, called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to urge Iran to release Pastor Youcef; Secretary Clinton did just that. We continue to fight for Pastor Youcef’s freedom as a decision on his fate by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini has been further delayed.
Domestically, the assault took a different form as President Obama refused to uphold his constitutional duty to enforce the law and ordered his Justice Department not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court. In the absence of an official defense of the duly enacted law, Congress has stepped in, and stepped up to the plate to defend the Constitution and this marriage law.
Social conservatives also renewed their efforts to defend the lives of the unborn this year. In response to the outcry of pro-life America, Congress banned taxpayer funding of abortions in DC, state legislatures passed numerous new regulations on abortion, and other states defunded Planned Parenthood. In addition, the ACLJ prevented the shutdown of pro-life pregnancy centers in New York City and defended the conscious rights of pro-life members of the medical profession and won in court.
Immigration has become another topic of contention as the Obama Justice Department began suing states to stop them from enforcing immigration laws, setting up another contentious battle at the Supreme Court in 2012. The court will determine the constitutionality of Arizona’s illegal immigration law - a law which mirrors federal immigration law - and the ACLJ will be filing an amicus brief on behalf of nearly 60 members of Congress and tens of thousands of Americans defending this law.
Angry atheists set their sites on our heritage as a nation: from the National Day of Prayer to the Pledge of Allegiance. One atheist group attacked a street named “Seven in Heaven Way” - a tribute to fallen firefighters - and NBC removed the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. So we, along with a tremendous amount of help from the readers of this blog, set out to compile a list for the atheists - a list of some of the hundreds of examples of our religious heritage as a nation.
Despite the atheist outcry, most Americans believe in God and they want leaders who acknowledge their beliefs in public. Whether it was the fight to allow prayer at the tenth anniversary memorial service of 9/11 (an event in which prayer played a prominent role ) or to defend the Ground Zero Cross - two steel beams in the shape of a cross that remained after the World Trade Center collapsed on 9/11 - the ACLJ is committed to defending our heritage as a nation.
Of course, it was the past month that these atheists really turned up the heat -- on Christmas --attacking crosses in the military and war memorials like a statute of Jesus in Montana. Yet, with each attack, those who wish to remove every vestige of our religious heritage from America have failed. This year alone we have protected the National Motto, the National Day of Prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, and so many other symbols of our religious heritage.
In 2012, social conservatives will continue many of these battles. The ACLJ will be fighting to defeat ObamaCare at the Supreme Court, filing an amicus brief on behalf of over 100 members of Congress and over 100,000 Americans in the case currently before the Court and asking the Court to consider our challenge to the law out of Washington, DC. Our challenge to the hugely controversial Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero continues on appeal. We will fight for the sanctity of human life as we continue our lawsuits to prevent the shutdown of pro-life pregnancy centers and against Planned Parenthood for allegations of fraud.
Social conservatives have stood together to have a tremendous impact in 2011, and we expect to have an even more influential role in the direction of our nation in the year ahead.
Jordan Sekulow is Executive Director of the American Center for Law & Justice and writes for On Faith’s blogging network at the Washington Post. Matthew Clark is an attorney for the ACLJ.