Friday, November 25, 2005

Thankful: Religious freedom and unalienable rights

Last Sunday the DeVore family attended an art exhibit (http://www.falunart.ocmc-la.org/) sponsored by Falun Gong, the Buddhist-based meditation group banned by the Chinese Communist Party. The purpose of the exhibit at the Biltmore Hotel in L.A. was to benefit children orphaned (www.globalrescue.net/gmr/) by the Chinese Communist Party’s murder of their parents through torture.

The Chinese Communist Party banned the practice of Falun Gong in 1999. At the time, the sect’s 100 million practitioners outnumbered the dues-paying members of the Communist Party – no doubt a major reason for the crackdown.

In the past six years the Chinese Communists have killed over 2,700 Falun Gong adherents while in official custody, many of those tortured to death in hideous fashion. This barbaric treatment is also routinely meted out to the house church believers of various Christian sects, Tibetans and anyone else the morally bankrupt Chinese Communist Party feels threatened by.

Think for a moment: this daily outrage is occurring in a nation with thousands of years of recorded history, a permanent vote in the United Nations Security Council, and a rapidly growing military and economy, now ranked by the CIA as the world’s second strongest nation.

The art was heartbreaking. One of the methods of torture depicted was the use of lit cigarettes and a hot iron against a man’s bare chest to try to force a confession and a renouncing of faith. Another painting featured a little girl crying in front of the door of her home, now condemned by the Communist Party and declared off-limits as her parents had been arrested and hauled off.

That this can happen in an ancient and proud land such as China in 2005 boggles the mind (just as the Holocaust could have happened in a highly literate and developed nation like Germany). Even more shocking, however, is the rampant American acquiescence in the face of such evil. Many politicians were invited to address the event, I was the only one to do so, while three other politicians sent proclamations in lieu of attending.

Sadly, too many of my colleagues kowtow to China. They openly worry about upsetting the hypersensitive and brutal regime – and their powerful U.S. trading partners. They worry about not getting invited to China. They worry that their actions might cause the Chinese not to buy their constituents’ goods.

Rather than making nice to a cabal of unelected and often evil potentates, American political leaders should follow the moral lead of President Bush and call for the Chinese Communist Party to allow full and unfettered religious freedom for their 1.3 billion people.

As Americans, the principle that animates our Constitution can be found in the preamble of the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. This principle holds for all people, at all times, and in every place. It is just as true for 26 million Iraqis as it is for 1.3 billion Chinese.

The day after we’ve given thanks, let us remember to also give thanks for our abundant freedoms – freedoms enjoyed by far too few people on our globe.

All the best,

Chuck DeVore
State Assemblyman, 70th District
www.ChuckDeVore.com