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The policies and practices of the Obama administration arguably represented the greatest threat to religious freedom our nation has ever experienced. In this regard, President Joe Biden is without question Obama 2.0. On his first day in office, President Biden directed his national security team to lead a comprehensive review of domestic terrorism, which he views as “the most urgent terrorism threat the United States faces today.” Not letting a crisis to go to waste, the impetus for this urgent assessment was ostensibly the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot. During his April 2021 joint address to Congress, President Biden declared “white supremacy is terrorism” labeling it “the most lethal terrorist threat to our homeland today.” On June 15th, the White House released the “first ever” National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism.
So, who are these alleged domestic terrorists which pose such an existential threat to our democracy? The U.S. Government’s report identifies two categories of “bad” guys. First, there are “the racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists and networks whose racial, ethnic, or religious hatred leads them toward violence….[who] focus their violence towards…persons of color, immigrants, Jews, Muslims, other religious minorities, women and girls, LGBTQI+ individuals, or others.” Second, there are the “anti–government or anti–authority violent extremists…who take steps to violently resist government authority or facilitate the overthrow of the U.S. Government based on perceived overreach….[and] may be motivated to violence by single-issue ideologies related to abortion….”
To put it simply, according to the Biden Administration, all Bible-believing Christians who have religiously informed perspectives on human sexuality (marriage, LGBTQI+, etc.) and/or who are passionately opposed to the killing of innocent babies in utero (abortion) are potential domestic terrorists. This verbal trickery became possible because some very clever liberal elite snowflakes have quite intentionally and maliciously redefined faith-informed and reasoned disagreement with their sexually permissive worldview as “hate.” And strong “hate” almost invariably leads to violence. Ergo, Christians are “domestic terrorists.” By self-servingly labeling truth hate, they have effectively silenced a large swath of timid believers whom, though commanded to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15), really do not like being called names.
The report’s same intellectually lazy name-calling, marginalization and demonization of dissenters applies also to anyone who is legitimately concerned about the size and scope of government control and its overreach (i.e. unconstitutional COVID-19 restrictions). Bam! They may be terrorists too. But by that measure, our founding fathers should posthumously be labeled domestic terrorists for participating in the American Revolution and writing “unhinged” government-limiting documents like the Federalist Papers.
Suddenly, Biden has helped us to finally realize what depraved criminal thugs they were for expressing such “terroristic” ideas in the Declaration of Independence as: “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.” Based on the left’s “logic,” Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and John Adams were clearly “domestic terrorists.” Our nation was purportedly founded by a group of rank terrorists (and we must all now repent)! Or so the malevolent Marxists want you to believe.
So, what is really going on here?
President Biden has created an enemies list—and made it public. But this is not something we should ever tolerate in America. It is fundamentally inimical to freedom and liberty. This is what tyrannical dictators do. This oppressive and freedom chilling behavior is precisely what the Bill of Rights, especially the First Amendment, is designed to prevent. Ideas have consequences. Bad ideas create victims. This report is chock-full of spectacularly bad ideas.
But the government’s list of criminal offenders, even by its own definition of domestic terrorism is woefully under inclusive. Federal law defines “domestic terrorism” as “activities that involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State; appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.” But by this definition, is not ANTIFA clearly a domestic terrorist organization? And what about aggressive elements of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, who encouraged violence, arson, and looting? Does anyone remember the “peaceful protests” of 2020, the 19 deaths, and the billions of dollars of damage done? The fruit of their extreme beliefs and violent actions are clear. But the media has run interference for these affinity groups, which clearly meet the left’s own definition of domestic terrorism. Ironically, however, it’s the radical Marxists leftists who are the ones that really want to deconstruct overthrow and replace everything that is good, true and beautiful in our democratic republic (See Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals). They are the true enemies of freedom and democracy and must be opposed.
Taken as a whole, the National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism is little more than Biden’s slick and sophisticated public enemies list. This report continues and expands the coordinated name-calling strategy of lazy leftists to defamatorily label anyone with whom they disagree, on virtually any issue, not only as “hateful,” but as “racist.” This is a cheap trick employed to avoid any discussion on the merits of ideas. But a careful reading of the report reveals that Biden’s enemies are not limited to actual racist “White Supremacists” but also include conservatives, libertarians, Trump enthusiasts, small-government Republicans, pro-lifers, people who resisted COVID-19 restrictions, Christians, and other religious adherents (devout Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and Hindu’s). It is not even limited to those who commit actual violence in the furtherance of their beliefs. Essentially, “domestic terrorists” are now anyone with strong personal beliefs that do not perfectly align with the extreme, increasingly Marxist, far left wing of the Democratic party and those who may at some point take action on those beliefs in a way that the Biden administration deems “violent.”
It should go without saying that the vast majority of Bible-believing Christians are not racists, as we believe all people are all unique and valuable, created in the image of God, and because Christ calls us to be “one new man” in Him. Neither is it accurate or fair to mislabel the Bible’s perspectives on human sexuality as “hateful.” But those details and distinctions apparently don’t at all matter now that Biden has lumped us all in with David Duke and the KKK (But isn’t that discriminatory stereotyping, by the way?). Are Christians not worthy of the left’s dispensations of the gifts diversity, inclusion and tolerance along with everyone else? Apparently not.
President Joe Biden is certainly no moderate. When his former boss President Obama ominously warned us that he wanted to “fundamentally transform America,” we should have paid more attention. Biden’s words and actions thus far demonstrate that he is not much of an independent thinker, but is rather a puppet for the far left wing of the Democratic party—which is increasingly overtly dominated by overtly Marxist ideology.
Exhibit A here may be that the government’s plan to fight domestic terrorism includes identifying and rooting out government employees who may pose a “domestic terrorism” threat, including in law enforcement and the U.S. military. Also chilling is Biden’s promise to work with tech companies to eliminate “terrorist content” online. And they are throwing money at the “problem.”
The U.S. Justice Department has made domestic terrorism its top priority and has allocated $100 million in additional resources to U.S. Attorneys’ offices and the FBI field offices to combat domestic terrorism. But any attempt to stop threats before they mature into actions is a difficult task. Indeed, predicting precisely who will turn strong ideological beliefs into violent acts is likely a fool’s errand, and only really works in science-fiction movies like Minority Report.
Meanwhile, back here in the real world, Biden’s DNI report and its goals are a direct frontal assault on the freedom of conscience and are clearly designed to suppress the freedom of thought, speech and the free exercise of religion—because no sane person wants to be labeled a “domestic terrorist.” But if we have any desire to maintain our free republic, this totalitarian effort should be stopped before it gains any traction, not encouraged. Peaceful resistance to government overreach is not a crime. Dissent is not violence.
Differences of opinion should not be criminalized. Certainly nearly all Americans of good conscience would likely agree that punishing actual violent crimes is the proper role of good government. However, history teaches us that government is at its worst and becomes the ugliest when it alone decides which ideas are orthodox, and aggressively shames and threatens to punish all dissenters—not for actually being violent, but merely because they dissented (committing thought crimes). Tragically, that is precisely what it appears that Biden and his Thought Police are doing here. Ironically, Biden’s totalitarian approach may drive some peace and freedom loving Americans to believe that a new American revolution is needed.
For his part, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has been quite busy doing damage control by trying to explain how Joe Biden’s approach does not necessarily trample on the civil rights of citizens. To his credit, Garland promised, “We are focused on violence, not ideology.” Garland further explained, “In America, espousing a hateful ideology is not unlawful. We do not investigate individuals for their First Amendment protected activities.” Good luck walking that tightrope, Mr. Garland. As we all learned in law school, the freedom of speech is violated not only when the government forcibly stops speech, but even when its threats chill speech. Even if not aggressively enforced, that is precisely what Biden’s report will do.
Biden’s sweeping, overbroad, vague, and anti-religious public enemies list is fundamentally inconsistent with democratic principles, ordered liberty and the First Amendment. It is the epitome of coercive government abuse of power, almost certain to result in civil rights violations. In fact, perhaps it should be listed in the dictionary as part of the definition of Orwellian. As a constitutional attorney who cherishes the freedom of speech and religious free exercise, I can think of nothing more chilling than Biden’s National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism. I have to wonder, am I now somehow a “domestic terrorist” for writing this?
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Dean Broyles is the President of the National Center for Law and Policy (formerly Western Center for Law & Policy). He earned a Juris Doctor degree from Regent University School of Law, in Virginia Beach, Virginia and a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California.