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Week Ending February 28, 2003
Religious Freedom Coalition
March 3, 2003 9:05AM EST

(This week William J. Murray is in Israel on a mission to bring financial aid and spiritual encouragement to Christians living in the PA controlled areas of the West Bank. In his absence, Peggy Birchfield, RFC legislative director, wrote this report from Capitol Hill.)


The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Human Cloning Prohibition Act sponsored by Congressman Dave Weldon (R-FL) and Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MT). The vote of 241 to 155 yesterday shows how overwhelmingly the House approved the Weldon-Stupak bill. This legislation will now proceed to the Senate where Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) are sponsoring a companion bill, S. 245. The vote is now in the hands of the Senate where there are several rival bills that also await passage. This may be a difficult fight.


The Senate has spent most of the week debating whether to allow a vote on judicial nominee Miguel Estrada. The RFC staff was invited to the Senate Chambers to watch this historic debate. Beginning at 9PM on Thursday the Republican Senators converged on the Floor to discuss the continuing obstruction of a vote on Circuit Court nominee Miguel Estrada. The debate lasted well into the night without any conclusion. The time has come to put a stop to this filibuster and vote! Miguel Estrada deserves a vote.


The Religious Freedom Action Coalition hosted a briefing for 100 New York Hispanic Evangelical pastors on Thursday, February 27 in the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC.

Reverend Rueben Diaz, State Senator from New York had been invited to give the invocation in the Senate Chambers on Thursday, February 27, 2003. He extended the invitation to the pastors who are part of the New York Hispanic Clergy Association.

Religious Freedom Action Coalition's invited guests spoke to the group on targeted issues. Leonard Rodriguez from the White House Political Office and Tim Goeglein, Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the White House, updated the group on the present filibuster of the Miguel Estrada nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The gentlemen gave an overview of Miguel Estrada's biographical background and a summary of his many supporters. They instructed the group on how contact their Representatives and Senators to help bring his nomination to a vote.

Congressman Walter Jones (R - 3rd NC) spoke to the group of Hispanic Pastors informing them of his new bill to restore freedom of speech to America's pulpits. Congressman Jones stated, "I will continue this fight in the 108th Congress. I am committed to restoring the First Amendment rights to our nation's religious leaders." The Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act differs from legislation in the last Congress, in that it focuses more narrowly on issues of free speech, and is thus expected to gather even wider support in the new Congress. This isn't about campaign fundraising; it never was. The language in this bill fully expresses that. The Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act would allow religious leaders to speak from their pulpits however they see fit without fear of losing their tax-exempt status.

Jennifer Stecher from the White House Office of Faith Based & Community Initiatives ended the morning briefing with an overview of President Bush's Faith-Based and Community Initiative Act. She explained that the act was to establish funding for faith-based charity organizations. Jennifer stressed that for years, faith based groups have helped the community and people in need. It is one of President Bush' priorities this year to give these organizations the fullest opportunity permitted by law to compete for Federal funding. Jennifer completed her statements by directing the pastors to where they might find help in such funding.

The group proceeded to the Longworth House Office Building. There the group was meet by Senator Rick Santorum (R- PA) who stressed the importance of the Pastors' meeting their Senators and sharing their support for Miguel Estrada.

Senator Hillary Clinton unexpectedly showed up to address the group. She of course avoided the issue of the Estrada filibuster. Since it was a New York group, she discussed the 9-11 attack briefly, then stated, "We must all stand together in supporting our President and our troops in the war on terror." I'm just waiting to see if she will stand by this statement in public, or do the famous Clinton flip-flop. She received applause from the group in support of President Bush.

After New York State Senator Reverend Reuben Diaz gave the invocation in the Senate Chamber with the Pastors overlooking the Chamber from the Gallery, the group returned home with more insight on work to be done. I hope the Pastors will each share with their congregation the need for the Miguel Estrada vote to move forward. And I am in hopes the group will support Congressman Jones in seeing his bill finally pass in the House.


William Murray continues his mission in the Middle East. He will be visiting Christian schools to help the Palestinian Christians in need. These Christian families are caught under the rule of Yassar Arafat and his gang of thugs. Remember to check out our bookstore; if you have not yet purchased a copy of Holy Land Terror now is the time! Produced by the RFC in the Holy Land, the video documentary is just $19.95 including shipping. Order today!

The current issue of the William J. Murray Report is available online at

Peggy Birchfield, Executive Director

To continue to inform the public on key issues, financial help is needed. Please consider giving a contribution online or mail a check to Religious Freedom Coalition, PO Box 77511, Washington, DC 20013.

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