Ben Johnson

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Chen Guangcheng: Chinese Communist influence in academia ‘far greater’ than people believe

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
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NEW YORK, June 17, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Human rights activist Chen Guangcheng has confirmed in a statement that New York University is forcing his family out of their campus home by month's end, warning that his case shows the power of a totalitarian regime halfway across the world to affect U.S. higher education policies.

"The work of the Chinese Communists within academic circles in the United States is far greater than what people imagine," the blind activist said in a statement released by his lawyers, the Washington-based Bancroft PLLC.

"Academic independence and academic freedom in the United States are being greatly threatened by a totalitarian regime," Chen warned.

The pressure of a foreign agent on a U.S. university began as soon as Chen made his escape, he said.

Chen Guangcheng, his wife, and their two children have lived in NYU faculty housing in Greenwich Village since last May, after professor Jerome A. Cohen arranged a fellowship at NYU Law School.

"As early as last August and September, the Chinese Communists had already begun to apply great, unrelenting pressure on New York University, so much so that after we had been in the United States just three to four months, NYU was already starting to discuss our departure with us," Chen stated.

Congressman Christopher Smith, R-NJ, has called for a Congressional investigation into the possibility of foreign influence.

Reggie Littlejohn of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, who was one of the people to have contact with Chen during his long imprisonment and greet him when he stepped off the plane in New York, has also called for an investigation into Chinese pressure for the suspicious release.

Smith said that Chen was ostracized, even punished, by officials if he spoke out on Chinese human rights abuses.

“Contact was extraordinarily limited, and it was under the watchful eye of somebody who would report on him,” Congressman Smith said. “There were little penalties all along the way.”

Others admitted Chen remained effectively pigeonholed during the year he spent on campus learning English and working on his memoirs as a Chinese dissident. “Apart from the initial press hoopla, [Chen] really hasn’t had any kind of profile at NYU this year,” said Andrew Ross, a professor of social and cultural studies.

When Chen sought to discuss his situation, NYU administration would not speak to him.

“We have always wanted to thank the president of NYU in person” for the university's hospitality, Chen said. “Regrettably, to date, we still have not had the chance to meet him. Although NYU has arranged many of our activities, to date, it has not arranged a meeting for us with the president.”

Chen is not the first person on campus to criticize the university's leadership. Four colleges have passed votes of no confidence against NYU President John Sexton.

The university seemed particiularly keen to dissuade him from speaking out on Chinese human rights abuses, such as forced abortion. Exposing the regime's one child policy earned Chen four years in prison, then eight years under house arrest, where he and his family were beaten severely. Extended family members who remain at home are still harassed by Communist officials, according to eyewitness reports.

Now, he is being told his family must leave university housing by the end of the month. There would be no extension.

“The big problem is that NYU is very compromised by the fact they are working very closely with the Chinese to establish a university” campus in Shanghai, an anonymous source within the university told the New York Post.

Bob Fu, the president and founder of ChinaAid, said bowing to the possibility of Chinese reprisals is pandemic throughout academia, giving the politically repressive rulers in Beijing the power to affect America's higher education policies.

"American universities are out chasing the China dollar and are very reluctant to work with dissidents who have a strong voice in China,” Fu said. “It does not always have to be direct pressure from Beijing, there is also self-censorship, particularly if a college president believes their China campus or the future enrollment of Chinese students will be sabotaged."

Chen's next steps are uncertain. Fordham University, a Catholic university in New York City, has reportedly expressed interest in bringing Chen to campus.

Nonetheless, he showed gratitude to NYU “for its help when my family was in a difficult period," and thanked Cohen “and other friends for trying their best to help us.”

Regardless of the repercussions for himself or his family, Chen vowed to continue his work to bring freedom, and life, to one-sixth of the world's population.

“Whether it was the dangers I faced in China or the current momentary difficulties we face, I will never bow my head to evil or to lies,” he said. “I will always do everything I can for my compatriots back in China who still are not free and who are now being oppressed.”

"The Communist Party may have political control, but it does not control the hearts and minds of the Chinese people, who still look to the United States as a shining example of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law,” Fu said. “Hopefully, Chen's experience with NYU will not dim that view."

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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