Week Ending July 4, 2003
Religious Freedom Coalition
July 3, 2003 3:50PM EST
CONGRESS IN RECESS
CONGRESS IN RECESS
Today our staff is at the site of the Civil War battle of Bull Run. Now a national park, an annual 4th of July picnic for conservatives is held here. The Religious Freedom Coalition is a sponsor of this event. This is the day we remember those who placed their liberty, their property and their lives in harm's way to proclaim that: "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. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." (Declaration of Independence)
This past Tuesday, July 1st, two members of the Religious Freedom Coalition staff were present for an announcement by President George W. Bush. Our executive Director, Peggy Birchfield, and I were invited to the KIPP Academy in the South East section of Washington, DC for a meeting with the President. Washington, DC mayor Anthony Williams and Secretary of Education Rod Paige were also present. (No Child Left Behind)
At the meeting President Bush condemned what he called "the soft bigotry of low expectations." For years the liberal white educational establishment has treated blacks in the inner city as if they can't learn. The President said, "...when you lower the bar, that's what you get, low results." He pointed to the success of the KIPP Academy, which is a "charter school" outside of the normal DC educational establishment. By all measures the school is a success, with test scores far above those of the rest of the Washington, DC public schools. In fact, the Washington, DC public schools score below all fifty states, even though the amount of money spent per pupil ranks very high.
The President praised Mayor Williams, a Democrat, who has just recently defied the National Educational Association and backed voucher programs proposed by the President. Mayor Williams applauded when President Bush announced that he will ask Congress for $320 million more for charter schools such as KIPP Academy and another $75 million for scholarship funds. The scholarships will range up to $7,500 per student and can be used for any private school. These "choice incentive program" funds can be used in any private school, religious or secular. The President said that kids in private schools using the funds will make those schools accountable ... the schools will have to administer standardized tests.
The President concluded his remarks by saying, "And I'm here to say to the parents of Washington, DC: We care about your children. Each child matters. We believe every child can learn. We're going to challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations in the nation's Capital and around the country, because we know a more hopeful America depends on this nation's capacity to educate each and every child."
At the end of his remarks the President spent some time with those who had gathered at the school including several of the students. The President is a compassionate man and he truly believes that every American child can learn and can receive a good education if the bar is raised and the schools are held accountable. He believes that a voucher system will force the public schools run by the National Education Association to compete and provide a real education to the students in their charge.
HOUSE AND SENATE
The House and Senate will return to session on Monday, July 7th and work for about three weeks. Senator Frist announced today that he will bring the Unborn Victims of Violence Act up for a vote shortly after the Senate returns to session in July.
Both chambers are now scheduled for a summer recess from July 28th to September 3rd. During the recess, congressmen and Senators make various fact finding trips around the world. Senator Inhofe (R-OK) does missionary work in Africa during the August recess. Both Senator Bill Frist and Congressman Dave Weldon are medical doctors and both have used the recess in the past to treat AIDS victims in Africa as part of Christian missions work as well.
Please pray for the Religious Freedom Coalition mission team leaving today for Israel. The team, consisting of ten volunteers, will be setting up a Vacation Bible School in Beit Jala near Bethlehem. You may have read that the area was transferred from Israel to the Palestinian Authority on Tuesday. Please pray for the safety of our Vacation Bible School (VBS) workers led by Gary Gordon as they take the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Palestinian children on the West Bank. Each of the ten member team raised their own funds for transportation; however, the VBS materials and other expenses related to the VBS cost our organization about $6,000. To assist financially with our missions to take the Gospel to Palestinians please check here to visit our support page.
Our new video documentary, Holy Land Settlements, about the Jewish settlements in Samaria and Judea, which was mentioned in several previous updates is now in stock. Click here for more information. Check our Internet site at www.rfcnet.org for last minute updates! Please feel free to forward this weekly update to friends. We are now at 60,000 subscribers .... Get the word out and help us hit the 100,000 mark by the end of the year! See below for subscribe/unsubscribe instructions. God richly bless you, that is my prayer.
William J. Murray, Chairman - Religious Freedom Coalition
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