Both the Left and the Right Should Defend Religious Freedom for Everyone

If the Democratic Party wants to start winning national elections again, it needs to communicate its values to people of faith.

If the Republican Party wants to be an honest broker, it must defend religious liberty—even when it hurts its ideological agenda.

At their best, the government and the faith community can work together to promote the common good.

See my full thoughts in this clip from Fox News:


Rend Your Hearts, Not Your Garments

“Rend your hearts, not your garments!” These are the challenging words of the prophet Joel that greeted Christians in churches around the world as they marked the beginning of Lent with the celebration of Ash Wednesday.

Lent—too domesticated over time—is a radical ancient invitation to reject the globalization of superficiality that too often sullies our lives and our communities and to take up a new path that celebrates authentic encounter and encourages human and societal transformation.

It’s a 40-day journey right to the heart of who we are and who we long to be.

Jesus—the great protagonist of this holy season—shows us that life and redemption aren’t achieved through strength and power but by rejecting a privileged mentality and taking up the sufferings and dysfunction within our own lives and those of the entire human family.

Every person lost and broken wears the body of the Lord.

Rend your hearts, not your garments—artificial penance without true transformation.

Rend your hearts, not your garments—a formal and fulfilled fast which continues to keep us satisfied.

Rend your hearts, not your garments—superficial and egoistic prayer, which doesn’t reach the depth of our life to allow it to be touched by God.

Lent comes to us as a cry of truth and sure hope, which answers yes, it is possible not to put on makeup and draw plastic smiles as if nothing is happening.

Yes, it is possible that everything be made new and different because God continues to be “rich in kindness and mercy, always willing to forgive,” and encourages us to begin again and again.

This Lent, we are again invited to undertake a paschal journey to new life, a journey that includes the cross and suffering, which will be uncomfortable but not sterile.

We are invited to admit that something is not right in ourselves, in society, and in the Church—to change, to turn around, to be converted.


Donald Trump Should Give up His Wall and Refugee Ban for Lent

On Fox News yesterday, I said that President Donald Trump should give up his wall and refugee ban for Lent.

To do so as Lent begins, when Christians begin the commemoration of Jesus’ entry into the fullness of human suffering and dysfunction, would be a visible sign that the President honors those who—like Jesus Christ and his family—leave the violence of their homes in the search for a better and safer future.

That’s the Christian way. That too is the American way.

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On Syria, Silence Never Again

Many Christians in the United States and throughout the globe have tried to excuse Bashar al-Assad’s tyrannical rule of Syria because he claims to be protecting Christian minorities from terrorists in the region.

But let’s be clear: he’s using Christians as a political shield to deflect attention from his widespread violence and murderous campaign against his own people.

Let’s not mince words here: the violence the Assad regime has inflicted on the children of Aleppo these past few days is a total affront to our God and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We must do everything in our power to make sure the politicians in Washington are paying attention to the greatest wartime assault on human dignity in recent world history.

Silence never again.


Christians Must Resist Trump’s Rumored Muslim Registry

I’ve been invited to be a part of the president-elect’s meeting with faith leaders during his transition where he will seek our counsel.

During his victory speech, Donald Trump said he wanted to be a President for everyone.

If he’s serious about that, he should immediately withdraw his proposals to ban Muslims and to deport 11 million people.

There’s nothing that matters more to me than my faith in Jesus Christ, so if Mr. Trump decides to register or round up Muslims, a step he may be considering, I’ll proudly declare: “I am a Muslim.”

I think every Christian living in the United States—no matter who they voted for—should vow to do the same.


Stop Pretending Trump is a Strong Ambassador for Christian Values

Today on Fox News, I debated Donald Trump’s evangelical advisor.

Though he argued that Trump has been transformed since he recently “gave his life to Christ,” I argued that his behavior doesn’t show it.

This is a man who praises a dictator and calls the pope a “disgrace.”

This is a man who mocks the disabled, belittles veterans, and bans Muslims.

After being accused of multiple instances of sexual assault, Trump denied the charges this week saying that the women “weren’t attractive enough” to assault.

This is a man who thinks belittling and shaming women makes him bigger.

This is a man who told the nation last night that he’s too proud to accept losing a free and fair election in the world’s oldest democratic republic.

You can vote for Trump, but you shouldn’t do so by pretending he’s a strong ambassador for faith values.

Because time and again, he shows that the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson are true: “who you are screams so loudly in my ears I cannot hear what you say.”

You can watch the video here:

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How do the VP Candidates Differ on Religious Issues?

You can check out my Fox News debate with Donald Trump’s Catholic advisor Matt Smith on tonight’s Vice Presidential debate here:

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Drawing on my recent experiences on the border of Syria and Lebanon, I challenged his suggestion that Mike Pence’s position of rejecting Syrian was well within the Catholic moral framework.

Let’s set the record straight: that’s absolute malarkey.

Syrian refugees aren’t pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They’re children, women, and men who are victims of violence and war. We are called by God to listen to their stories, to share in their joys and anxieties, and to welcome them into our communities.