The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller

Attacks On Freedom Of Religion Resemble My Time In The Hanoi Hilton

Photo of Rep. Sam Johnson
Rep. Sam Johnson
Congressman, Texas 3rd District

Where do you see this country heading, and is today’s America the kind of place you want to leave to your children and grandchildren?

One of the cornerstones of our Republic, the freedom of religion, is under attack by a power-thirsty White House set on making and then breaking its own rules.  This is not the land of liberty I know and love. Sadly, egregious violations of our cherished freedom of religion reminds me of the infamous Hanoi Hilton. Every American should be alarmed.

You see, I endured painful torture at the hands of communists. I brutally experienced what it’s like to truly lose the privilege to worship as you see fit. As a prisoner of war in Vietnam for almost seven years, more than half of that time in solitary confinement, I withered away in a cell block so isolating it could only be called Alcatraz.

In a report by Senator Ted Cruz entitled “The Legal Limit Report Number Four: The Obama Administration’s Abuse of Power,” he boldly details an administration “governing by executive fiat,” with 76 lawless actions.

By reading the report on cruz.senate.gov, you’ll learn about the gross examples of the administration brazenly eradicating long-held rights.  Profiled in the report under “Other Lawless Acts,” the administration “muzzled the speech of military chaplains.” News articles report that the administration threatened priests with arrest if they ministered to the military during the government shutdown. That’s just gross.

Stopping men and women in uniform from praying with a priest reminds me of my time in the Hanoi Hilton. After we POWs defied strict camp orders and created our own worship service, our captors marched out Robbie Risner at gunpoint for more torture sessions, probably on the ropes or the meat hook. So emboldened by the simple act of community worship, we broke out into patriotic songs like “God Bless America” and works of that magnitude. (My friend Robbie later recounted how he felt such immense pride in our act of rebellion, he felt 9 feet tall and could go bear hunting with a stick!)

I feel especially concerned about the abuse of power with Obamacare and how it squashes long-held religious protections. While Ted lists ten points of lawlessness in Obamacare, I want you to understand how the fatally-flawed law illegally forces people to violate their personal faith with the contraception mandate. Specifically, even if it violates their long-held religious convictions, employers must offer employees all forms of contraception, including Plan B to terminate a pregnancy. This breaks my heart.

One of the building blocks and most beautiful aspects about our economy is free enterprise. In America, you are employed at will. Unlike Fidel Castro’s Cuba, you are not told where to work or what to do. That is a privilege that countless people in many parts of the world still don’t enjoy in 2014.

Sadly, in the name of appeasing the pro-abortion advocates like Wendy Davis, President Obama wants to force people who run a business of a certain size to violate their faith or close down. How does Obama’s Plan B promotion agenda further freedom or free enterprise? It smacks of crony coddling.

(To learn more about the contraception mandate, I suggest reading Rick Warren’s op-ed on religious liberty published in the Washington Post on March 21, 2014.)

It’s widely reported that in June the Supreme Court will rule on the case Sebelius v Hobby Lobby.  I urge you to pray for the heart of this nation and the hearts of the Supreme Court justices. Pray that each justice may feel called to protect the long-held heritage of freedom of religion. Pray the devout owners of Hobby Lobby find favor and the sanctity of life receives protection from the Supreme Court.