September 15, 2017
"to elevate the condition of
men--to lift artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the
paths of laudable pursuit for all, to afford all an unfettered
start and a fair chance, in the race of life." --Abraham Lincoln
Chairman's Note: An Intolerant
Last week, Notre Dame Law
Professor Amy Coney Barrett came before the Senate Judiciary
Committee as a nominee to be a circuit court judge. Her
nomination was endorsed by prominent legal scholars from across
the political spectrum, including Neal Katyal, President Obama's
acting solicitor general.
Unfortunately a number of my
Democratic colleagues insinuated that her Catholic faith would
prevent her from applying the law freely and fairly.
"Dogma and law are two different
things," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). "When you read your
speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly
within you. And that's a concern."
Sen. Durbin (D-IL) later added,
"What's an 'orthodox Catholic?' Do you consider yourself an
These remarks unfortunately fit
an emerging pattern from Democratic lawmakers.
Just a few months ago, another
eminently qualified nominee, Russell Vought, appeared before the
Budget Committee to be considered for a post at the Office of
Management and Budget.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
questioned the nominee, not about management or budgets, but
about his evangelical Christian beliefs.
"In your judgment," asked this
senator, "do you think that people who are not Christians are
going to be condemned?"
Mr. Vought explained that he was
an evangelical Christian and adhered to those beliefs.
But that wasn't good enough for
Sanders who later stated he would vote against Mr. Vought's
nomination because he was not "what this country is supposed to
These strange inquisitions have
nothing to do with the nominees' competency, patriotism, or
ability to serve Americans of different faiths equally.
In fact, they have little to do
with this life at all. Instead they have to do with the
afterlife. To my knowledge, the OMB and the Seventh Circuit have
no jurisdiction over that.
This country is divided enough.
Millions of Americans feel that Washington, D.C. and the dominant
culture despise them.
And how could they not, when they
see their leaders sitting here, grilling patriotic citizens about
their faith like inquisitors?
Religious freedom is of deep
concern to me as a Mormon. My church has weathered extraordinary
religious persecution, much of it sponsored by the government.
The first Latter Day Saints were
exiled from home after home. In 1838, the governor of Missouri
ordered that Mormons be driven from the land or "exterminated."
Our first leader, Joseph Smith,
once said, "the civil magistrate . . . should punish guilt but
never suppress the freedom of the soul."
That, of course, was before he
was martyred by a bigoted mob.
Our country's ban on religious
tests is a strong bulwark for religious freedom. As an original
provision of the Constitution, it predates even the Bill of
Rights. And it applies not just to some religious adherents, but
to all of them, equally.
The religious tests raised
against Mr. Vought and Ms. Barrett do not favor one sect of
Christian over another, as was sadly common for much of our
Rather, they favor the secular,
progressive creed clung to so confidently by the nation's ruling
elites. This creed has its own clerics, its own dogmas, and, as
these nominees have discovered, it has its own heresies, too.
More and more, the adherents of
this creed seek to use the power of government to steamroll
disfavored groups-especially dissenters from their political
So they force evangelical
caterers to bake cakes celebrating same-sex marriages, as in the
case that is before the Supreme Court now. And they force nuns to
purchase contraceptive coverage. And sue religious hospitals that
won't perform abortions or sex-reassignment surgeries.
Yes, the secular, progressive
creed has proven that it is capable of triumphalism and
intolerance, just like the creeds that have gone before it. Not
because its adherents are uniquely wicked, to the contrary:
Because they are human.
There is a way out of this
vicious cycle of religious intolerance.
And that is for all of us to
treat one another with civility and to respect the constitutional
rights of citizens who come before it.
Because religious freedom puts
all Americans on the same footing. It helps men and women stand
upright, honest before the law-and before God.
Lee Addresses Complications of
the Dream Act
Click here to watch video
Issue in Focus: North Korea's
Thirteen years ago a 24-year-old
Brigham Young University student named David Sneddon vanished in
China's Yunnan province.
After a cursory investigation,
Chinese officials concluded that David must have died while
hiking alone through Tiger Leaping Gorge.
But David's kin retraced his
steps, and they found that the official story didn't add up.
For one, David was an experienced
hiker and a responsible kid-an Eagle Scout, in fact. Could he
have fallen into such peril on a well-traveled trail? Unlikely.
Supposing he had, where was the
body? Over a decade later, no remains have been produced.
Eyewitness testimony, meanwhile,
placed David in a Chinese city at the end of his planned hiking
route. This suggests he passed safely through the gorge before
He would have had to circle back
through the gorge in order for the official explanation to be
correct. Again, unlikely. After thirteen years, no evidence
exists to support the official explanation of an untimely death
in the gorge.
And then there were other curious
David Sneddon was traveling near
the so-called "Asian Underground Railroad," a network of mostly
Christian missionaries who help North Korean defectors flee to
North Korean agents are known to
operate along the route, ruthlessly hunting down and intercepting
defectors and returning them to execution or permanent captivity
on the gulag peninsula of North Korea.
And Sneddon was last seen leaving
a Korean restaurant. Korean restaurants reportedly are used as
outposts for North Korean espionage and illicit enterprise.
Finally, and perhaps most
tellingly, one month before David's disappearance, North Korea
took the rare step of releasing an American captive, 64-year-old
Charles Jenkins. North Korea had forced Jenkins to teach English
to its spies at a military university during his almost 40-year
After his release, the regime
needed a substitute teacher. David Sneddon was an Asian Languages
major. Highly educated, David spoke perfect American English with
a Midwestern accent.
Subsequent intelligence from
inside North Korea has supported what these facts strongly
suggest: It is likely David Sneddon was taken by the North Korean
regime in 2004. He likely has been held captive in that country
David Sneddon's possible
abduction is one link in a chain of North Korean crimes that
stretches back to the Korean War, when the regime ordered the
capture of over 80,000 "prominent" South Koreans.
Since the Armistice, North Korea
has used a combination of flattery and force to abduct many
The regime tricked more than
90,000 ethnic Koreans in Japan into traveling to North Korea to
build a "worker's paradise" they could never leave.
Roughly 100 other disappearances
in Japan have been attributed to Pyongyang. In many cases,
individuals were snatched from Japanese shores and spirited away
on speedboats, never to be seen again.
Similarly, nearly 4,000 South
Korean fishermen have been abducted after run-ins with North
Korean intelligence vessels.
Recent reports indicate that
North Korea has been hunting in China to discourage involvement
in the Asian Underground Railroad.
And Pyongyang's reach extends
beyond the Asia-Pacific region. Its operatives have attempted
kidnappings in such familiar locales as London, Copenhagen, and
All told, the Committee for Human
Rights in North Korea estimates that as many as 180,000 people
have been abducted by North Korea.
One-hundred and eighty thousand.
That's just a few thousand less than the population of Salt Lake
Of those 180,000 abductions, only
13 have been acknowledged by North Korea and of these 13, only 5
were allowed to return.
The regime likely acknowledged
this in the hope it would lead to a multibillion-dollar
reparations payment from Japan. In the process of making this
limited admission, it fabricated evidence and stonewalled
investigators in order to cover up the true extent of its crimes.
It is easy for us to lose sight
of North Korean abductions in light of the regime's other
It has swapped weapons and
expertise with other pariah states, including Iran and Syria.
It has conducted a campaign of
political murders, including the assassination of a member of the
Kim family in the public terminal of a Malaysian airport.
It continues to subjugate the
North Korean people in conditions relatable to us only through
the writings of George Orwell. For the majority of the
impoverished, oppressed citizens of North Korea, from birth to
death, they are doomed to suffer out their lives in the gulag
peninsula of North Korea.
And of course it has made rapid
strides in its nuclear weapons and ICBM programs, raising the
terrible spectre of nuclear Armageddon once again.
In stark contrast to its nuclear
program or its missile tests, North Korea's abductions are quiet
They are marked not by seismic
activity but by the absence of loved ones. By late-night walks
never completed. By fishing boats that never return. By hikers
who vanish from the trail.
Because of the quiet nature of
North Korea's abductions, it is up to the Free World to be loud.
We have to be like the Sneddon family in Utah and the Yokota
family in Japan, who have advocated tirelessly for their loved
ones and all other abductees.
In that spirit, I, along with
several of my colleagues in Congress, have introduced a joint
resolution expressing our concern about the disappearance of
The resolution encourages the
State Department and Intelligence Community to investigate all
plausible explanations for David's disappearance-including
abduction by North Korea.
The resolution further encourages
the United States government to work with the Sneddon family and
our allies in the region to investigate the disappearance and
hopefully secure his release.
This resolution is a start, and I
pray that one day soon the Sneddon family will be reunited with
It is unlikely we will ever know
the stories of all those held captive in North Korea, so great
are its crimes. But we can do much more for the few we know.
We can shine a narrow searchlight
into the darkness of tyranny, and wait for dawn to break on North
361A Russell Senate
Salt Lake City
Wallace F. Bennett
125 South State,
Salt Lake City, UT
Office of Senator
Michael S. Lee
285 West Tabernacle,
St. George, UT 84770
SaveSaveSave SaveSave SaveSaveSave Save
Save Save Save Save
This message was intended for: xxx
You were added to the system October 2, 2015.
For more information please follow the URL below:
Follow the URL below to update your preferences or opt-out:
To unsubscribe from future mailings, send an email to mailto:xxx?Subject=Unsubscribe&body=Please%20remove%20me%20from%20further%20mailings
with "Unsubscribe" as the subject line.