A Modest Proposal

As a Watergate alumnus, I have refrained from speaking of the campaign finance scandals. I didn’t want to appear to be pointing a finger at others, nor have I wanted to appear partisan. But I can stay silent no longer, for I fear that the fate of our persecuted brethren abroad may be at stake. Millions of Christians around the world are being persecuted. Sudan sells Christians into slavery. Saudi Arabia arrests Christians for holding Bible studies. And China—one of America’s biggest trading partners—arrests, tortures, and even kills Christians. To pressure these nations, Rep. Frank Wolf and Sen. Arlen Specter have sponsored the Freedom from Religious Persecution Act. This bill would create a White House agency to monitor religious persecution and would provide for a series of economic and diplomatic sanctions against countries found to be persecuting people of any faith. The bill is a modest first step—so modest, in fact, that columnist Abe Rosenthal of the New York Times criticized it as "too gentle." But the sponsors believe that by keeping it modest, the State Department and the Clinton administration could support it. But shockingly, the Clinton administration announced its opposition. So did some leading Republicans. Why? How could anyone turn away from the cries of the persecuted? Sadly, this brings us to the campaign finance hearings. Millions of dollars, it turns out, were pumped into the Clinton campaign by a series of unsavory characters with close ties to the Chinese government. Money even went into Clinton’s personal legal defense fund, though it was ultimately returned. And it should be noted, in fairness, that dirty money found its way into the coffers of both parties. Some of the characters involved in the scandal, such as Charlie Trie, the president’s Little Rock pal, have fled to China to avoid grand juries, and, for reasons I don’t understand, we do not seem to be demanding that the Chinese extradite them. Now, I’m not saying that our leaders would compromise a policy to placate contributors—certainly not on an issue as sensitive as the persecution of religious believers. That would be a horrendous charge. I am saying that they are giving an appearance that is deeply, deeply troubling. People will unavoidably ask: Is the administration hearing the cries of the martyrs whose blood is being shed on the streets of Beijing? Or are these cries being muted by the whispers of questionable Asian donors who pumped millions into campaign coffers? I pray that the administration will change its mind, support this bill, or, if it can’t do that, then offer one of its own. Or, at least, stay neutral. That’s the least it can do to avoid an appearance which raises such grave questions. And there is nothing less at stake here than the very character of our nation. If you feel as strongly about this as I do, please spread this commentary around through your church groups and your friends. If there is a spark of conscience left in this materialistic country, let it ignite our moral outrage. Let us rise up out of our own self-interest to be the beacon of freedom we have always been. Let it not be said of this era that we stood with torturers. Let it be said we stood with those who had the courage to live—and die—for their faith.


Chuck Colson


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