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Seminary of the Immaculate Conception,

440 West Neck Rd., Huntington, NY  11743   

631-896-8331

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM WEEKLY

"We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church, between the gospel and the anti-gospel, between Christ and the antichrist.”

Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, 1976

American Heritage Dictionary:  "Socialism is any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy."

Catholic Social Teaching (catholic.org):  "Only persons are made in the image of God...  The dignity of man, the concept of personhood, cannot be built upon agnostic or atheistic foundations."

Pope John Paul II (1978-2005)   "Socialism considers the individual person simply as an element, a molecule within the social organism, so that the good of the individual is completely subordinated to the functioning of the socio-economic mechanism."

 

Pope Benedict XVI (2005-2013)   "We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which ... generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from (those)...closest to those in need (government power ought to reside at the local or regional level and least centralized competent authority.)

 

Pope Paul VI (1963-1978)   "Too often Christians attracted by socialism tend to idealize it in terms which are very general: a will for justice, solidarity and equality.  They refuse to recognize the limitations of the historical socialist movements, ..."

 

Pope John XXIII (1958-1963)   "Pope Pius XI emphasized the fundamental opposition between Communism and Christianity, and made it clear that no Catholic could subscribe even to moderate Socialism.  The reason is that Socialism is founded on a doctrine of human society which ... takes no account of any objective other than that of material well-being... it places too severe a restraint on human liberty..."

 

Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903)  "To remedy these wrongs (in society) the socialists, working on the poor man's envy of the rich, are striving to do away with private property, and contend that individual possessions should become the common property of all, to be administered by the State or by municipal bodies.  They hold that by thus transferring property from private individuals to the community, the present mischievous state of things will be set to rights, inasmuch as each citizen will then get his fair share of whatever there is to enjoy.  But (if) their contentions ... were carried into effect, the working man himself would be among the first to suffer." 

 (tfp.org; catholic.org; catholic365.com; dr.taylormarshall.com)

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Five Popes Reflect on the Philosophy of Socialism and Communism

March 29, 2020

U.S. Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, has warned that religious persecution is spreading worldwide with alarming anti-Christian violence in Nigeria and a growing religious surveillance state in China.

"There's a lot of people getting killed in Nigeria," said Brownback .  "80% of the world's population live in countries that have religious persecution. “...”It's the most deadly time in the history of Christendom for you to be a Christian.  There's more Christian persecution than any time in the history of mankind." (1)

   

The incidents are grim and harrowing.  Nigerian villagers talk about the machetes falling on arms, fingers, heads, and pregnant bellies.  They've been lit on fire, sold into sex slavery, shot and raped - all because they're Christians.

   

"Boko Haram has killed more Christians in Nigeria than ISIS killed in Iraq and Syria combined," said former Congressman Frank Wolf. "(They're) committing genocide.  Genocide." (2)

   

Ambassador Brownback said there have been "some pretty good meetings recently" with the Nigerian government but is calling for more dialogue between Muslims and Christians to "really try to get them working together instead of killing each other." (3)

  

China has developed a "social credit" system over the last 10 years that has been used to track and punish religious minorities.  If a person has a low social credit score, said Brownback, they could be prohibited from obtaining an education or living in a certain area. “And it won't be just for you.  It will be your friends with you.  If anyone pings your cell phone, that will be tracked and they'll get the same low social credit score you get. And these are the systems being modeled and worked on and done now today in China," he said.  China is "best in the world" at religious persecution and surveillance of religious groups and has been engaged in a "war with faith." (4)

catholicworldreport.com, 2/28/20 (1); frc.org, 3/11/20 (2); ncregister.com, state.gov/ambassador-at-large-for international-religious-freedom  2/8/20 (3)(4)

 

"We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church, between the gospel and the anti-gospel, between Christ and the antichrist."   

Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, 1976

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

A Slow-Motion and Horrific Religious War

Is Under Way, Worldwide

March 22, 2020

A Texas-based jeweler is challenging the military's trademark office which pulled the company's trademark licenses saying they can no longer display military insignia and Bible verses on the replica dog-tags it has sold to service members since the 9/11 attacks.

For about 20 years, Shields of Strength has provided service members with memento dog-tags featuring inspirational messages based on verses in scripture such as Joshua 1:9,” Be strong and courageous.... " or Psalm 27:3, "Though my enemies attack me, I will not fear; ...I will still trust in God." (1)  In addition to sales, a few hundred thousand of these items have been donated to military units and personnel.

In July, the anti-religious, Military Religious Freedom Foundation, demanded the military branches stop allowing Shields of Strength to use a military emblem, saying it "poisons the constitutionally-mandated separation of Church and State ..."  (2)  The fact that separation of Church and State is not in the Constitution and the First Amendment protects Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech, did not deter the Pentagon from canceling the trademark licenses. They cited "Negative Press" as their motivation. (3)

A Constitutional Law attorney said, "While I would absolutely oppose the military issuing such tags, ... it is outrageous that service members can't voluntarily inscribe their own tags.  From a legal point of view, if the military allows any inscriptions at all (like "I love you Mom") then banning religious ones is content discrimination."  (4)

At present, anyone can order dog-tags online with military insignia and a non-religious saying such as "The difficult we do immediately, the impossible takes longer." (5)

 

(aclj.org/us-military (1); washintontimes.com, 12/4/19; foxnews.com/faith-values(2)(3); fellowshipoftheminds.com (4); dogtagsonline.com)

 

"A government that roams the land ... scrubbing away any reference to the divine will strike many as aggressively hostile to religion.   Supreme Court Justice, Samuel A. Alito 

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Military Bans Bible Verses on Dog-Tags

but Allows Non-religious Sayings

March 15, 2020

In a recent interview with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Attorney General William Barr said, "The reason the (Founding Fathers) felt they could grant so much freedom in the Constitution and only provide for limited government was because religion would be the force that guided people so they could largely govern themselves.  Alexis de Tocqueville observed that the centrality of religion was (the cause) of the health of American democracy. ”(1)

Barr defended a person’s natural right to obey one's conscience above one's government.  He is concerned that the rule of law, fair play, and due process are threatened by "militant secularists" trying to "impose their values" on others.” (2)

 

Maine & Maryland Barring Religious Schools from Tuition Support Programs

- Accused of Anti-religious Hostility

More than 100 small towns in Maine don't have their own high school, so families choose a high school and the town pays the bill up to the rate allowed by the state.  Three families are now suing the state for religious discrimination since, while the state will pay tuition for a private school, it refuses to pay tuition for a religious affiliated school. 

"When a state decides to empower parents to choose the school that is best for their child, to then say, but we are going to exclude religious schools...just strikes at the very core of our religious freedom...," said an attorney for Institute for Justice. (3)

Maryland revoked the Baltimore-area Bethel Christian Academy from participation in a voucher program benefitting low-income students and demanded the school repay more than $100,000 for their previous participation.

"The government may not discriminate against religious schools simply because it dislikes their religious beliefs.  Bethel offers an academically rigorous and caring Christian education in a diverse environment...Maryland's families deserve better and that's why we're grateful Bethel's lawsuit can move forward," said an Alliance Defending Freedom attorney. (4)

(thefederalist.com, 1/30/20(1)(2); csmonitor.com, 1/21/20(3); adflegal.org, 11/14/19(4); washingtonpost.com, 1/2/20; ij.org/maine)

 

Parents who have the primary and inalienable right and duty to educate their children must enjoy true liberty in their choice of schools.         Gravissimum Educationis, 1965 

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

The Health of American Democracy

Requires the Centrality of Religion

March 8, 2020

During a Jan. 28 radio interview with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Attorney General William Barr contended the First Amendment is under assault and that "militant secularists" are trying to impose their secular values on religious people.  "To me, the problem today is not that religious people are trying to impose their views on nonreligious people, it's the opposite - it's that militant secularists are trying to impose their values on religious people and they're not accommodating the freedom of religion of people of faith.” (1)

"Religion was viewed by the Founders as ... essential to maintaining a free country.  We believe in the separation of church & state, but what permits a limited government and minimal command and control of the population and allows people to have freedom of choice in their lives ... is the fact that they are a people capable of disciplining themselves according to moral values.” (2)

 

Little Sisters, Sued by Some States, Going Back to Supreme Court - for 3rd Time!

The Little Sisters of the Poor are a Catholic charitable order, founded in 1839, that cares for the elderly poor by operating 30 nursing homes across the country.  These homes have lay staff for whom the Little Sisters provide group health insurance.  Then - in 2012, the federal and some state governments decided that under the newly passed Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Sisters must ignore their beliefs and include contraception and abortion-inducing drugs in their insurance coverage or face crippling fines.

2013 - The Supreme Court issued an injunction protecting the Little Sisters but the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against them.

2014 - The Supreme Court ruled that closely held companies - mostly family owned businesses - are exempt from the contraception mandate.

2016 - The Supreme Court heard the 10th Circuit's case against the Sisters and unanimously overturned their ruling. 

2018 - This administration issued a new rule that contains an exemption for religious ministries in relation to the ACA.

Then - Several states sued the federal government and targeted the Little Sisters in particular by arguing that they are not religious enough, thereby forcing them to abandon their core beliefs and provide contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.

2020 - The Supreme Court will again hear this case. 

(firstthings.com; crisismagazine.com; the federalist.com, 1/30/20; johnbwellsnews.com, 1/31/20(1); gopusa.com,1/30/20(2)

 

It is simply unreasonable for government to demand that the Sisters violate their consciences and put a wall between their faith and their good works.     Archbishop William E. Lori  

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Warning! - An Organized Effort to

Drive Religion Out of the Public Square

March 1, 2020

"The case before the Supreme Court today (Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue) concerns whether the Constitution offers states a license to discriminate against religion," said the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).  "Our country's tradition of non-establishment of religion does not mean that governments can deny otherwise available benefits on the basis of religious status.... This is an issue of justice for people of all faith communities." (1)

 

Montana created a program where people who donated to private-school funding organizations received a modest $150 tax credit.  However, the Montana Dept. of Revenue cited the state's anti-religious Blaine Amendment to exclude those donors whose money went to religious private schools but allowed non-religious private-school donors to benefit.  Therefore, children who attend religious schools were stripped of their right to participate in the scholarship program.

 

The Blaine Amendments - found in 37 state constitutions - originated in the late 1800's to block Catholic demands for equal treatment of their schools.  The anti-legal immigrant, anti-Catholic provisions aimed to bar public funding of so-called "sectarian" schools of which over 2/3 were Catholic schools.

 

"But this case is not only about constitutional law...  Blaine Amendments ... were expressions of hostility toward the Catholic Church.  We hope that the Supreme Court will take this opportunity to bring an end to this shameful legacy," wrote the USCCB.(2)

 

(usccb.org(1)(2);  ij.org; becketlaw.org; cato.org; detroitnews.com,

 1/17/20; newsmax.com, 1/28/20)

    

“Blaine amendments … have the effect of excluding people of faith from participating in benefits that should be publicly available to everyone. Without religious liberty properly understood,

all Americans suffer.”       USCCB Fact Sheet, Office of Religious Liberty, 2018

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Anti-Catholic 1889 Blaine Amendment 

Goes to U.S. Supreme Court

February 23, 2020

In February, Americans remember the birthdays of two champions of freedom:  George Washington, the "Father of our Country," on Feb. 22, and Abraham Lincoln, the "Great Emancipator," on Feb. 12.  Washington liberated Americans from British tyranny and Lincoln liberated slaves from bondage.

 

Although some scholars today choose to question the motives of these great men as to whether they truly believed in freedom for colonists and slaves, it cannot be disputed that their actions did indeed bring liberty.  Since reading minds to discover motive is impossible, we can only judge facts, and the actions of both Washington and Lincoln qualify them as champions of freedom.

Historians have called George Washington the "Indispensable Man" for his role in the fight for freedom and creation of the United States of America.  One congressman's eulogy supports this title with these memorable words:  "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, ... Pious, just, humane, temperate, and sincere; uniform, dignified, and commanding ..."

 

The U.S. Senate official message read:  "Let his countrymen consecrate the memory of the heroic general, the patriotic statesman and the virtuous sage.  His example is now complete, and it will teach wisdom and virtue ... not only in the present age, but in future generations, as long as our history shall be read." (1)

 

Abraham Lincoln issued an executive order, the Emancipation Proclamation, Jan. 1, 1863, which changed the legal status under federal law of more than 3.5 million African Americans in the Confederate states from slave to free.  The Proclamation broadened the goals of the Civil War, making the freedom of slaves an explicit goal of the Union war effort and one of the two primary war goals.  To ensure the abolition of slavery in all of the U.S., Lincoln pushed for passage of the Thirteenth Amendment and insisted that Reconstruction plans for the Southern states require abolition in new state constitutions.

 

Lincoln is also revered for his many wise and pithy sayings:

    "Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."

    "Freedom is the last, best hope of earth."

    "America will never be destroyed from the outside.  If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."

(azquotes.com; wikipedia.org; historynet.com; heritage.org(1); worldhistory.us/america; cbn.com)

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

They Fought for Freedom - February 16, 2020

"Faith-based groups should have the opportunity to compete on a level playing field as they seek to partner with the federal government to provide critical social services," said the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.  "These proposed (new) rules protect religious liberty, a core constitutional right..." (1)

 

On Religious Freedom Day, the administration issued 9 rules to protect freedom by eliminating burdensome requirements, issued in past years, that unfairly imposed unique regulatory burdens on religious organizations.  Federal agencies, including the Dept. of Labor, must now ensure that the grant-making practices of state recipients of Federal funding comply with the First Amendment.

 

Religious freedom has been an ongoing concern in recent years as anti-faith groups have brought litigation against faith-based nonprofits and privately owned companies.  These opponents of religious freedom have created much confusion by suggesting that it is illegal or even unconstitutional, for religious organizations to participate in federal contracts simply because they choose to operate in accordance with their faith.  The end result was a distortion of law that put religious contractors at a distinct disadvantage.  Many of them had to make an untenable choice: continue operating in accordance with their deeply held religious beliefs or violate their conscience just for the opportunity to compete for a federal contract.

 

"From its opening pages, the story of America has been rooted in the truth that all men and women are endowed with the right to follow their conscience, worship freely, and live in accordance with their convictions.  On Religious Freedom Day, we honor the foundational link between freedom and faith in our country and reaffirm our commitment to safeguarding the religious liberty of all Americans."    ~President Trump, Proclamation, Jan.16, 2020.

 

(Religious Freedom Day 2020 Proclamation; first liberty.org; christianheadlines.com, 8/15/19; daily signal.com, 8/14/19; White House press release; (1) usccb.org/news)

 

"Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature."   ~Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Administration Committed to Ensuring

Religious Organizations a Level Playing Field

February 9, 2020

"I didn't want to file a lawsuit, but after many unsuccessful meetings with the (school) administration, I wound up realizing it was the only way to secure future students' rights to pray...," Chase Windebank told President Trump on National Freedom of Religion Day, Jan. 16. (1)  Chase had started a small group of fellow HS students praying during free period in his Colorado Springs school.  By senior year, when the group had grown to 90 students, the administration banned students from praying during school hours - even during lunch.  

 

The updated guidelines, originally issued at Pres. Clinton’s direction, and announced by the White House on Jan. 16, are designed to end this abuse of student Constitutional protections and promote teachers' and students' right to pray in public schools.  Windebank said, "And you guys are making sure that the Founding Fathers are living in our nation.  So, thank you very, very much.”  (2)  

   

Since secular legal groups have regularly pressured local school districts to end any perceived entanglement with religion, the Dept. of Education new rule "ensures the equal treatment and Constitutional rights ... owed to students on campus." (3)

 

(1) (2) c-span.org, 1/16/20, transcript; (3) christianpost.com, 1/16/20; ncregister, 1/17/20; whitehouse.gov/briefings)

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Students Should Not Have to Sue to Defend Their Basic Right to Religious Expression
February 2, 2020

"We don't worship government - we worship God."  ~President Trump, 2020

 

On Jan.16, National Religious Freedom Day, President. Trump said, "This afternoon, we're proudly announcing historic steps to protect the First Amendment right to pray in public schools...It is a sacred principle of our Republic that government must never stand between the people and God.  Yet, in public schools around the country, authorities are stopping students and teachers from praying, sharing their faith, or following their religious beliefs.... Tragically, there is a growing ...impulse...that seeks to punish, restrict, and even prohibit religious expression." (1)

    

For seven years, Catholics for Freedom of Religion has been reporting instances of students denied their right to religious expression in their schools.  

    

The Trump administration has updated the guidelines, first issued under President Clinton, and is sending them to every school that receives federal funds. The Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer and Religious Expression in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools can be read on the United States Department of Education website at www.ed.gov                       
    

“These actions by the president should prompt discussions among parents, clergy and educators that will end the too common suppression of students’ appropriate expressions of their faith.” said Barbara Samuells, President of Catholics for Freedom of Religion.

    

To monitor compliance with the guidelines, every public school will continue to certify to their state that they have no policy that conflicts with students' religious freedom rights.  As before, a public school's federal funding could be suspended if the school is not in compliance.” (2)

 

c-span.org, 1/16/20, transcript; ncregister.com, 1/17/20; americamagazine.org, 1/17/20; whitehouse.gov/briefings; (2) independentsentinel.com, 1/17/19

 

"The Constitution was never meant to prevent people from praying; its declared purpose was to protect their freedom to pray."      ~President Ronald Reagan

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

President Trump Safeguards the Right to

Religious Freedom in Public Schools
January 26, 2020

Each year since 1993, the President declares January 16th to be "Religious Freedom Day," and calls upon Americans to "observe this day through appropriate events and activities in homes, schools, and places of worship."(1)

 

January 16 is the anniversary of the passage, in 1786, of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, written by Thomas Jefferson, and is the model for the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.  It is a statement about freedom of conscience that   protects the rights of people to express their religious believes without suffering discrimination.  Also, the government is banned from interference in religion and individual beliefs as well as taxing people to pay for the support of the local church.

   

This principle of a "wall of separation between church and state," was written by Pres.  Jefferson in 1802 to further clarify and support individual freedom of conscience and the open practice of faith without government interference, as intended in the First Amendment.

 

"On Religious Freedom Day, we celebrate our Nation's long-standing commitment to freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one's own faith.  The right to religious freedom is innate to the dignity of every human person and is fundamental to the pursuit of truth."  (2)  President Trump Proclamation, 2019

 

(gateways.org (1); virginiahistory.org; billofrightsinstitute.org; time.com, 1/16/18;

whitehouse.gov, 1/15/19 (2)

 

"Almighty God hath created the mind free, and manifested his supreme will that free it shall remain ..."   Thomas Jefferson

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

National Religious Freedom Day - January 16

A day to learn, celebrate and thank God…
January 19, 2020

California Raids Christian School & Seeks to Change its Beliefs

      

A Christian boarding school in California, River View Christian Academy (RVCA), founded in 1993 under the ministry of Teen Rescue, has won a reprieve in court against the State of CA efforts to shut it down.  The dispute centers on the States' re-labeling the school as a "community care facility."  This label would force the school into heavy regulation by the State's Department of Social Services including mandates that violate the school’s religious mission and moral standards.  For example, the State requires licensed facilities to allow students the right to engage in spiritual and sexual exploration, contradicting the goals of many parents enrolling their children in RVCA.

   

The case began in January, 2019, when a raid of RVCA was conducted after an internet rumor that the school housed illegal drugs and stockpiled weapons.  The raid, terrifying to students and staff, included 16 armed officers from the CA Highway Patrol, 2 canine units, and 17 social workers.  Then, instead of apologizing for its dangerous blunder, the State imposed daily fines against the school for allegedly operating as a private "unlicensed community care facility,"(1) even though it has operated as a private school for 25 years, filing an annual affidavit with the CA Department of Education.

 

Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the school, winning a temporary reprieve because the judge expressed concern with the 1st Amendment implications.

   

PJI's lead attorney said, "I have never seen this level of aggressive, militant, and ideologically-driven conduct by a State agency against a religious institution.  As public schools have become increasingly hostile to parents, the courts have insisted that the parents' option is to choose private education.  Now, that fundamental right is under attack."(2)

  

**Take Action:  Parental Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, introduced in the Senate, 8/1/17, and to the House, 1/30/19, still awaits action.  This joint resolution states that:

*  the liberty of parents to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children is a fundamental right.

*  the parental right to direct education includes the right to choose, as an alternative to public education, private, religious, or home schools, and the right to make reasonable choices within public schools for one's child.

(citizenjournal.us, 11/20/19; christiannewswire.com, 6/7/19(1)(2); 1cbn.com, 11/20/19, 6/7/19; onenewsnow.com, 6/20/19; congress.gov/115th; parentalrights.org)

 

"Train up a child in the way he should go.  Even when he is old, he will not depart from it."    Proverbs 22:6  

Wappingers Falls, NY:  This NY school district violated federal law when it rejected a Christian student's request to start an on-campus Christian club, according to pro-bono law firm, First Liberty Institute.

Freshman Daniela Barca's application to form the "OMG! Christian Club" at Ketcham H.S., aimed to offer "faith-based support" where students have "discussions about living for God in a godless society," (1) was rejected by her principal who claimed the club was "too exclusive."

   

First Liberty Institute sent a letter to Wappingers Central S.D. stating, "The discrimination toward Daniela's religious speech has prevented OMG from pursuing their community-wide goals of 'food drives, clothing drives,... and other charitable endeavors."(2)  The letter also notes the school has about 2 dozen on-campus groups, including a "Pride Club," claiming that the school is already allowing "exclusive " groups on campus.

   

"Ketcham school officials blatantly ignored the plain text of the Equal Access Act (EAA) of 1984 by rejecting Daniela's Christian club because of its religious speech," said attorney Keisha Russell. (3) The EAA clearly states that it is unlawful for public secondary schools that receive federal assistance to "deny equal access or fair opportunity" to students on the basis of "religious, political, philosophical, or other content of the speech at such meetings," (4)

     

First Liberty attorneys state they expect the school to allow the club no later than January 2, 2020.

 

Naples, FL:   The Gulf Coast H.S. denied a pro-life club, Sharks 4 Life, earlier this school year and is violating the U.S. Constitution according to Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).  

   

While recognizing almost 80 clubs including political group Turning Point USA, Students for Change, Korean Culture, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Gay-Straight Alliance, the school principal rejected pro-life saying it was "too political and controversial." (5)

   

"The failure to recognize Sharks 4 Life is blatantly illegal under the Equal Access Act and First Amendment, both of which guarantee students the right to have a student club that stands on equal footing with the hundreds of other student clubs in Collier County public schools," said an ADF spokesman. (6)

 

(christianpost.com, (1), (2); mrctv.org, 12/13/19 (3); christianpost.com, (4); pulpitandpen.org, 11/20/19 (5)(6)

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

The December Dilemma:  Celebrating Religious Holidays in Public Schools & the Public Square

December 15, 2019

Every December, public schools, towns and businesses, face the difficult task of acknowledging the various religious and secular holiday traditions celebrated during this time of year without crossing the line of promoting a particular belief.

The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion to all Americans - including young school children - by prohibiting the government from endorsing any particular religious point of view while still respecting and protecting all religious beliefs.

Holiday Myths & Facts

Myth:   Public schools cannot display religious Christmas and Hanukkah symbols.

Fact:  A public school is free to display a Nativity scene, Menorah, and other forms of religious and secular seasonal expression with the purpose of depicting the origins of the holiday.

Myth:   Public school students aren't allowed to sing or play Christmas carols.

Fact:   Students can sing and perform religious carols along with secular ones.  The purpose is to teach about our society's cultural and religious heritage and allow students to perform a full range of music, poetry and drama.

Myth:   Students cannot talk about their faith and the religious origins of their holiday in class assignments.

Fact:   Schools cannot refuse to allow, punish, or give a lower grade to a student who includes a religious viewpoint in a class assignment.  Far from "establishing religion," that would be displaying an anti-religious bias which is unconstitutional and infringing on the free speech of students.

Myth:   Christmas trees, Nativity scenes, and Hanukkah Menorahs cannot be displayed on public land.

Fact:   The Supreme Court has held that these have become both a secular and religious symbol and their display by a public entity does not violate the Establishment Clause. 

(adl.org; adflegal.org, 12/11/15; rutherfordinstitute.org; alliancedefendingfreedom.org)

"To the American People:   Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.  If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world." ~ President Calvin Coolidge

Texas:  A recent U.S. District Court ruling will allow doctors to refuse to perform gender-transition surgeries that violate their faith as well as their scientific judgment that the procedures can cause significant risks, especially to children, that include heart conditions, loss of bone density, and increased risk of cancer.  Also, "studies show that children with gender dysphoria found that fewer than one in four children continued to experience that condition into adulthood," said a Becket Law statement.(1)

In May, 2016, the Dept. of Health & Human Services (HHS) issued a rule requiring all doctors to perform gender-transition surgery.  If the doctor refused - even on religious grounds - they could be fired or face severe consequences.

"Today marks a major victory for compassion, conscience, and sound medical judgment," said Luke Goodrich, VP of Becket Law. (2)

 

Vermont:  The HHS Office for Civil Rights recently announced that the Un. of Vermont Medical Center violated the conscience rights of a nurse forced to assist in an elective abortion in 2018 against her conscience/religious objections.  The nurse was not told the procedure was an abortion until she walked into the room and the doctor said, "Don't hate me."(3)

"Forcing medical staff to assist in the taking of human life inflicts a moral injury on them that is not only unnecessary and wrong, it violates longstanding federal law," said Roger Severino, Director of OCR.  "Our investigation has uncovered serious discrimination by UVMMC against nurses and staff who cannot, in good conscience, assist in elective abortions.  We stand ready to assist UVMMC in changing its policies and procedures to respect conscience rights and remedy the effects of the discrimination."(4)

(becketlaw.org, 10/15/19, (1) onenewsnow.com, 10/21/19; (2 )thetexan.news, 10/15/19; (3)(4) hhs.gov, 8/28/19, dailysignal.com, 8/28/19; aclu.org, 11/19)

 

"Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it." ~Albert Einstein

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Protecting Conscience Rights for Doctors & Nurses

December 8, 2019

Victories for Americans' First Freedom are happening nationwide, with people of faith reclaiming their most cherished and fundamental God-given liberty.  Recent court decisions set important precedents to protect religious rights for students and for faith-based adoption agencies.

 

Iowa - In 2018, the University of Iowa banned InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and several other religious groups from the school because they required their leaders to ascribe to its Christian beliefs.  Still, InterVarsity does allow all students to be members.  A Federal Court judge ruled in October, 2019, that university officials had "violated InterVarsity's clearly established (constitutional) right to free speech…  “The Court does not know how a reasonable person could have concluded this was acceptable..."  She ruled these officials can be held personally liable and forced to pay damages out of their own pockets because they failed to follow an earlier ruling in support of InterVarsity.

   

"We must have leaders who share our faith," said an InterVarsity director.  "No group - religious or secular - could survive with leaders who reject its values."  Would it make sense to force College Democrats to allow a Republican to lead the organization? Must the Libertarians admit Democratic Socialists to leadership positions?  Of course not.

   

Michigan - In September, a federal court ruled in favor of a faith-based adoption agency and in support of parents of 5 foster children with special needs. The court said, "the State's real goal is not to promote non-discriminatory child placements, but to stamp out St. Vincent's (Catholic Charities) religious belief and replace it with the State's own."

   

St. Vincent's was one of Michigan's most successful adoption and foster agencies.  It upholds Catholic teaching about marriage and therefore, referred same-sex and unmarried couples to agencies that have no objection to providing them adoption and foster services. In 2019, a new attorney general began a policy targeting faith-based agencies because of their beliefs about same-sex marriage.  She implemented a requirement that religious agencies provide recommendations and endorsement of same-sex couples and she banned religious agencies from making referrals.

   

Judge Jonker wrote, "What this case is about is whether St. Vincent's may continue to do this work and still profess and promote the traditional Catholic belief that marriage as ordained by God is for one man and one woman."  He called the state's actions a "targeted attack on sincerely held religious belief."

(washingtonexaminer.com, 9/27/19; ncregister.com, 9/27/19; nationalreview.com, 9/27/19, firstliberty.org, 10/11/19; christianheadlines.com, 10/1/19)

“I will walk about in freedom for I have sought your precepts.”  Psalms 119:45

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

We Give Thanks for Religious Freedom Wins in 2019

December 1, 2019

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Why Do We Celebrate Thanksgiving Day Every Year?

November 24, 2019

Ever since 1789 when Pres. George Washington proclaimed that a day of Thanksgiving be held to thank God for giving the American people the opportunity to create a Constitution to preserve their hard-won freedoms, most presidents have also proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving and praise to God.  However, the dates and months of the celebration varied.  It wasn't until Pres. Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Proclamation that Thanksgiving was regularly commemorated each year on the last Thursday in November.  Then, in 1941, Congress passed a joint resolution and officially set the fourth Thursday in November as a fixed-date for the holiday.

Since Washington's proclamation was the first of its kind, it is the legitimate standard for all future proclamations.  Pres. Washington focused on God and our relationship to him.  He said we should "acknowledge His providence," "obey His will," "be grateful for His benefits," "humbly implore His protection and favor."  Thanksgiving should be "devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be."

Thanksgiving Proclamations:

1863 - Pres. Abraham Lincoln:  "(I) invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States to set apart and observe (a day) of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."

2015 - Pres. Barack Obama:  "Pres. George Washington proclaimed the first Thanksgiving in our country's nascence, calling on the citizens of our fledgling democracy to place their faith in  'the providence of Almighty God,' and to be thankful for what is bequeathed us."

2017 - Pres. Donald Trump:  "On this Thanksgiving Day, as we have for nearly four centuries, Americans give thanks to Almighty God for our abundant blessings ... to show gratitude for our freedom, for our friends and families, and for the prosperous Nation we call home."

(archives.gov/thanksgiving; thefederalist.com, 11/25/15; obamawhitehouse.archives.gov, 11/20/15; whitehouse.gov, 11/17/17; thoughtco.com, 1/27/19)

 

"It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord'...for the days are with us again when, at the gathering of the harvest, we solemnly express our dependence upon Almighty God."   Pres. Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  1942

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Escaping Religious Persecution - Still a Longed-for Dream Around the World - November 17, 2019

 Americans will soon celebrate Thanksgiving Day and remember the Pilgrims, who fled religious persecution seeking a place to live and thrive in freedom.  They came to this "New World" aboard the Mayflower and survived the harsh conditions in 1620-21 with the grace of God and help from the Wampanoag Indians. At last they were free from persecution.

   

Sadly, the God-given right to freedom of conscience is denied to over 3/4 of the world population with many experiencing extreme forms of persecution from harassment to torture and death.

   

For example, on Nov. 1, Chinese priests and parishioners barricaded themselves in a Catholic Church in northern China in an attempt to prevent the government from tearing it down. A Vatican agreement with China was intended to secure some religious freedom for Catholics but only state approved churches are now allowed…with their government spies and more control instead.  In many of these government-controlled churches, the cross is taken down and pictures of Prime Minister Xi Jinping are put up instead.

    

Chinese persecution of religious minorities has also been the focus of international concern with millions of Uighur Muslims and others imprisoned and subjected to organ harvesting for the country's organ trade.

     

"For the most part, we are aware of the persecution and martyrdom of (people of faith) around the world, but we tend to be naive about the threat to religious freedom right here in America," wrote Rev. Msgr. James McNamara.  There are those who want to deny conscience rights and freedom to practice closely held religious beliefs to some small business owners, health care workers, adoption agencies, military chaplains & officers, teachers & students, and many more.  These citizens are marginalized, discriminated against, sued, and denied their First Amendment religious freedom protections.

 

"May this country (America) and each of you be renewed in gratitude for the many blessings and freedoms that you enjoy.  And may you defend these rights, especially your religious freedom, for it has been given to you by God himself."                                        Pope Francis, December, 2015

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Dishonest Language – Example #2 

Deceptively Named "Equality Act" Would Harm Religious Liberty and Free Speech - November 10, 2019

(Deceit:  The act of causing someone to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid.)

 

Misinformation on the intent and implications of the so-called "Equality" Act, conceived to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation, was passed by the U.S. House in May.  This H.R. 5 bill would make it possible for nationwide religious discrimination against people of faith as well as free speech, by redefining the word "sex" in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" as protected classes throughout the federal code.

     

This bill purports to equate newly defined "sex rights" with the current rights found in the Civil Rights Act.   However, "sex" is a biological fact determined at birth and "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" are feelings.  Biological "sex" is objective and fact based.  "Orientation" and "gender identity" are subjective and fluid.  Since a feeling is subjective and not intrinsic to an individual such as a person's skin color or nationality, broadening the term "sex" to include "feelings" is inaccurate and deceptive.

   

If this bill is passed into law, the implications for religious freedom and free speech are far reaching.  The "Equality Act" bans the use of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) as a legal defense from the government violating a person’s religious liberty.  In addition, it would require men, women, etc., to be treated exactly the same from bathrooms, women's sports, shelters, rape crisis centers, to sexuality education programs that promote a particular ideology.

   

Former Equal Employment Opportunity Commissioner, Chai Feldman, said, "I'm having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win...Sexual liberty should win in most cases.  There can be a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, but in almost all cases the sexual liberty should win..."

(afa.net, 5/7/19; cnsnews.com, 5/21/19; familywatch.org, 5/14/19; reason.com, 5/16/19; lcation.org, 5/31/19)

 

“When we subvert the meaning of words… we undermine the language that sustains our thinking about the law. Dishonest language leads to dishonest debate and bad laws.”   

                                                                                                  ~Archbishop Charles Chaput                         

Archbishop Chaput has decried dishonest language. The mislabeled "Do No Harm" Act, does the exact opposite of its name since it eliminates religious freedom protections for employers and medical professionals.  The “Do No Harm” Act gives more privileges to those claiming to be offended than to those exercising their religious freedom First Amendment rights.  The “Do No Harm” Act includes the broad phrase "dignity harm" to essentially end any religious exemptions.

Since this Act is "Designed to amend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993 ...," it removes exemptions for religious doctors, nurses, or any medical professional giving "access to, information about, referrals for, provision of, or coverage for, any health care item or service."  

     

This means that doctors could be forced to perform "gender-reassignment surgeries" or prescribe hormone-blocking prescriptions.  It would remove religious exemptions for those who do not want to provide referrals for abortion.  The Act has the potential to target and eliminate exemptions for protected religious speech since a person might claim that hearing speech about a religious belief causes him/her "dignity harm."

 

The “Do No Harm” Act could erase all religious exemptions in America.

 

(washingtontimes.com, 3/17/19; hrc.org; reporternews.com, 7/6/19; christianheadlines.com, 9/19/19; nationalreview.com, 9/19/19; catholicnewsagency.com,9/19/19)

 

Archbishop Chaput tells us: “Words are important because they shape our thinking, and our thinking drives our actions.Dishonest language leads to dishonest debate and bad laws.”

The Little Sisters of the Poor filed a petition with the Supreme Court on Oct. 1 asking the court to once again protect them from the Health & Human Services (HHS) mandate, under the Affordable Care Act, as they face lawsuits from California, Pennsylvania, and several other states.  The mandate requires that cost-free coverage for contraception, abortion inducing drugs and sterilization be included in employer health plans.

The Sisters are a religious order of nuns in the U.S. since 1868, dedicated to caring for the elderly poor. 

Catholic teaching holds abortion and contraception to be gravely immoral.  Thus, it violates conscience and religious freedom rights for Catholic nuns or any group with closely held religious beliefs, to comply with this mandate.

In 2016, the Supreme Court tossed the Little Sisters case and several similar cases back to their respective courts of appeal for reconsideration.  In 2017, the President issued an Executive Order supporting a new rule that would allow the Little Sisters and similar groups to claim a religious exemption against the mandate. He told the Little Sisters their "long ordeal will soon be over."  

"Today we are grateful for the president's order and look forward to the agencies giving us an exemption so that we can continue caring for the elderly poor and dying ... without the fear of government punishment," said Mother Loraine. 

A new HHS rule protecting religious freedom rights was subsequently issued. Yet, California immediately sued the federal government to take away that religious freedom exemption.   Although CA admits that it has many of its own programs to provide contraceptives, etc. to women, 13 other states joined them and are forcing the Little Sisters of the Poor back to court.

"It has been six long years since we began our legal battle against government mandates that threaten our ministry," said Mother Loraine.

(washingtonexaminer.com, 10/5/19; catholicnewsagency.com, 6/4/19; californiafamily.org, 2019; cruxnow.com,10/10/19; dailycaller.com, 10/10/19)

 

Beware of "polite persecution" that is cloaked in a disguise of "culture, modernity and progress."  ~Pope Francis

The persecution of Christians around the world has increased in 2019 with concern for believers in China, India, and Nigeria.  Watchdog group, Release International, reports 215 million believers face violence and discrimination for their faith.

 

China continued:  One underground church leader wrote in 2018: "Things are getting tighter here ... Brothers & sisters are facing difficulties and suffering for their faith.  My sister (& family) were put in jail for gathering with about 30 people ... They were beaten and shocked by the electric sticks ..."

 

India: Hate crimes and targeted violence rose 57% during the first two months of January.  The Religious Liberty Commission pointed to violent radical mobs that have stormed prayer meetings, ransacked churches, and beaten believers.  Recently, Indian authorities jailed church leaders and their families after hardline Hindus disrupted a worship service, beat individuals, and live-streamed the events on Facebook.

Radical Hindu nationalists use social boycotts to pressure Christians into converting to Hinduism. Christian families are cut off from electricity, water, the ability to cultivate agricultural fields, and even the ability to socialize with Hindu villagers.  

 

Nigeria: Militants such as Boko Haram continue devastating attacks against Christians in the north and central Nigeria.  In a six month period, 6,000 people were killed and 50,000 were driven from their homes.  Release International said there is a "deliberate plan to destroy and take over the predominately Christian communities in the region."  

The Christian Association of Nigeria said what is happening is "pure genocide and must be stopped immediately."

(christianpost.com/persecution; bbc.com/china; persecution.org, 9/7/19, 4/30/19; breitbart.com, 3/20/19)

 

"All religious minorities must be protected, and the evidence demonstrates that in some countries, Christians face the greatest risk."    U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt

Christians continue to be the most persecuted religious group in the world with significant increases in 2019. Watchdog groups, Release International and Open Doors, have particular concern for believers in China, India, & Nigeria.

 

China: In 2018, China was on track to contain the world's largest Christian population by 2030, thanks to a surge in underground house churches.  The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) estimated the number of Protestants at anywhere from 58-115 million, and Catholics range from 10-12 million.  About 1/3 of Christians attend the government sanctioned church groups: The Protestant Three-Self Church and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church.  Still, Christians face growing repression and China is ranked as a country where it's most difficult and dangerous to practice Christianity.

 -  Over 2,000 crosses have been burned & ripped down and many churches demolished.

- The Communist regime is now demanding churches replace postings of the Ten Commandments with sayings of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

-  Some sanctioned churches require pastors to incorporate communist ideology in their sermons.

-  Some congregations are threatened to be blacklisted, meaning travel restrictions, schooling and future employment of their children will be impeded.  

-  By 2020, 600 million surveillance cameras will monitor all citizens, believers, and religious activities such as who buys Bibles, etc.

-  Chinese Christians will only be able to purchase the Communism-friendly version of the Bible.

-  There is a nationwide effort to exalt President Xi who says that religion must be guided by the party to adapt to socialist society.

In light of this ongoing crackdown on religious freedom, house church leaders are going back to underground practices. 

 

Today, Christianity is being labeled as a "Western Ideology" that must be resisted at all costs by the Chinese people.

(nytimes.com, 12/25/18; persecution.org, 4/30/19; newsmax.com, 3/9/18; faithwire.com, 9/18/19; townhall.com, 9/23/18; christianpost.com-persecution)

 

 "The great masses of the people ... will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one."    from Hitler's "Mein Kompf"

On Sept. 23, President Trump told the United Nations that stopping religious persecution around the world is one of his "highest priorities."

The event marked the first time a U.S. president has called a U.N. summit on religious freedom.  Speaking before a crowd of world leaders, U.S. business owners and survivors of religious persecution, the president committed another $25 million to protect religious freedom, religious sites and relics from persecution and destruction.  He said 80% of the world's population lives in places where freedom of religion is banned, restricted or threatened.  Christians continue to be the most persecuted religious group in the world, even nearing levels of genocide.

"The United States is founded on the principle that our rights do not come from government; they come from God.  This immortal truth is proclaimed in our Declaration of Independence and enshrined in the First Amendment to our Constitution's Bill of Rights.  Our Founders understood that no right is more fundamental to a peaceful, prosperous, and virtuous society than to follow one's religious convictions.”

"Regrettably, the religious freedom enjoyed by American citizens is rare in the world...  As we speak, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Yazidis, and many other people of faith are being jailed, sanctioned, tortured, and even murdered, often at the hands of their own government, simply for expressing their deeply held religious beliefs.”

"Today, with one clear voice, the United States of America calls upon nations of the world to end religious persecution. To stop the crimes against people of faith, release prisoners of conscience, repeal laws restricting freedom of religion and belief, protect the vulnerable, the defenseless, and the oppressed....”

"As President, protecting religious freedom is one of my highest priorities and always has been."

(whitehouse.gov; upi.com, 9/23/19; dailysignal.com, 9/23/19; ncregister.com, 9/23/19;townhall.com, 9/23/19)

Pope Francis told the General Assembly of the United Nations on Sept. 25, 2015:   “[T]he most basic understanding of human dignity compels the international community, particularly through the norms and mechanisms of international law, to do all that it can to stop and to prevent further systematic violence against ethnic and religious minorities’ and to protect innocent peoples.”

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Advocating for International Religious Freedom at United Nations - October 6, 2019

Illinois just joined CA, CO, and NJ to require K-12 schools to teach LGBT 'history' incorporated into American history courses.  Maryland is now developing a similar curriculum.  Advocacy groups have praised these states for expanding their definitions of American history in the classroom.  The laws mandate that publicly funded schools include "the roles and contributions of LGBT people in the history of this country and this State."

    

These laws also have their critics.  Barnegat, NJ mayor, Alfonso Cirulli, said, "The government has no right to teach our kids morality."  Many parents have objected to the mandates and the laws' implementation has been slow.  CA school boards didn't approve the first LGBT-inclusive textbooks for K-8 classrooms until 2017.  A California based non-profit group, Queer Education, complained, "We have seen a lot of schools dragging their feet."

    

Parents with different points of view have spoken at school board meetings.  One California parent felt that teachers reading the children books about transgender people in 1st and 2nd grade is long before she may be ready to talk to her children at home about gender and sexuality.  "I should be the one to educate about those things, " she said. Another California  parent thinks her 5 year-old son, born a girl, would benefit from stories shared at school.

    

American Principles Project director, Terry Schilling, a Washington D.C. nonprofit whose mission is to re-establish human dignity as the basis for American society said, "I can't think of anything weirder than being obsessed with teaching young children about sexuality.  Even most parents struggle with the topic because of its difficulty but, somehow, we as parents are OK with a complete stranger teaching them.

    

"Parents need to reclaim their role as the primary educators of their children - especially as it pertains to their children's sexuality.  No one else has that right or responsibility."

    

"American children today don't even know the basics of history.  They are clueless as to the founding of America.  They are already essentially being taught that America was founded by white men who oppressed women and minorities instead of what America was really founded on - the notion of human dignity, that all men are created equal and have inalienable rights.  They aren't taught that civil rights leaders like Frederick Douglas and Martin Luther King Jr. viewed the ending of slavery and institution of civil rights as a continuation of the founding principles and not a contradiction."

(usnews.com,8/14/19; washingtonpost.com,8/16/19; christianpost.com,8/13/19; reuters.com,5/13/19)

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Some States Mandate Schools to Teach LGBT History

SEPTEMBER 29,  2019

While 30 states presently dictate the content of teaching core academic subjects (science, English, social studies, math) for religious & private schools, NY State has proposed a version of control that includes a much wider range of subjects and much more oversite.   The proposed NYS law, S6589, known as "Substantially Equivalent Instruction for Nonpublic School Students," would require public school administrators to oversee private schools within their border, whether or not their own schools are achieving academic proficiency, and would unconstitutionally force compelled speech, content discrimination, and viewpoint discrimination.

    

Leaders of Jewish, Catholic and other private schools explain that they already undergo accreditation by groups such as the NYS Association of Independent Schools.  "Our schools go through a very thorough process, the gold standard of accreditation," said the Association director.  "To do anything in addition is redundant, unfunded and doesn't make sense."

    

"The proposed regulations disregard the long history of success demonstrated by private schools across NY State, they undermine the choices made by parents who choose private schools for their children, and they substitute the education bureaucracy in Albany for the private school leadership sought by parents and students," wrote Parents For Educational & Religious Liberty in Schools (PEARLS).

    

Kellenberg Catholic H.S. principal, Bro. Kenneth M. Hoagland S.M., wrote, "NYS Education Dept. (NYSED) is attempting to drastically expand its authority over non-public schools...  (Catholic schools) have always maintained a comprehensive educational program, equal or superior to the program of studies dictated by the NYSED.  Under the proposal the (local school district) would oversee... lesson plans, testing scores, report cards and the like...No public school should have the authority to oversee our academic program."

    

The immediate targets of the regulations are 39 Yeshivas that, for religious reasons, reject much of secular education and teach mostly in Yiddish rather than English.  Many Jewish leaders see this law as a violation of religious rights, a threat to the traditional religious focus of their schools. The Catholic School Administrators Association of NYS argue that "the oversight of Catholic Schools by a (public school local district) is a clear conflict of interest and the proposed regulations are ill conceived and unacceptable." 

(thefederalist.com, 8/22/19; recordonline.com, 7/3/19; nycatholic.org, 3/1/19; nysed.gov, 5/31/19)

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

New York State Proposes to Deny Religious and Private Schools Control Over Curriculum

SEPTEMBER 22,  2019

"Religious believers can live quite peacefully with the separation of Church and state, so long as it's real freedom and not the half-starved copy of the real thing called 'freedom of worship.'  We can never accept a separation of our religious faith and moral convictions from our public ministries or political engagement.  It's impossible.  And trying to do so is evil ..."

Therefore, "religious faith sincerely believed and humbly lived serves human dignity" for both the believing and non-believing (and) "...it's vital in building a humane society."

 

"We can begin building a culture of religious freedom by changing the way we think.  Majority opinion doesn't determine what is good and true.  The deep moral problems we now face in our country didn't happen overnight.  They've been fed by a false understanding of freedom for decades, and they have roots in the exile of God from public consciousness.

"We also need to change the way we act.  ...The right to pursue happiness does not include a right to excuse or ignore evil in ourselves or anyone else.  When we divorce our politics from a grounding in virtue and truth, we transform our country from a living moral organism into a kind of golem of legal machinery without a soul."

 

"If we want a culture of religious freedom, we need to begin living that culture here, today, and now ...Nations change when people change...  You create the future with the choices you make.  So, serve the poor.  Help the weak.  Protect the unborn.  Speak the truth about creation (Gen. 5:2).  Fight for your right to love and serve God, and for others to do the same. 

"If you do that, you'll inspire others to do the same.  And you'll discover in your own life what it means to be fully human."

(thepublicdiscourse.com, 2019/07;  catholicphilly.com, 2019/07)

 

"The glory of God is a man fully alive."  Saint Irenaeus

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

"Building a Culture of Religious Freedom"

From Abp. Charles Chaput’s address on July 9, 2019

SEPTEMBER 15,  2019

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

What Can Parents & Grandparents Do to Protect a Child's Religious Freedom? - SEPTEMBER 8,  2019

(1)  Attend a monthly School Board meeting to "Educate the Educators"

     *  Provide copies of the U.S. Department of Education's Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer in Public Schools.  Every student may: pray before & after school during free times such as recess & lunch; read the Bible & other religious books during free reading time; write, speak and draw expressions of their faith in classwork & homework where appropriate to the assignment; wear clothing & jewelry with religious messages; speak about God and their faith at school events and graduation; form religious based clubs that use school resources the same as other clubs.

     *  Remind School Board members that as a condition to receive education funds, Section 9524 requires that the School District certify in writing to the State educational agency, that it has no policy that prevents, or otherwise denies participation in, constitutionally protected prayer or expression in their schools.

 

(2)   Tell your child about the Dept. of Education Guidelines that guarantee his/her First Amendment Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech.  CFFR has prepared a pamphlet, It's OK for Students to Pray, explaining these student rights.  See www.cffor.org for information and free pamphlets and DVD.  Also see www.ed.gov for other information.

 

(3)   Confirm that Constitution Week - Sept. 17-23, 2019 - is being celebrated at your child's school.   This celebration was signed into law in 1956.  It requires that schools and universities that receive Federal funds are educating students and faculty about the Constitution, signed 1787, that provides the framework for the United States of America.  The aims of this celebration are:

*  Emphasize citizens' responsibilities for protecting and defending the Constitution.

*  Inform people that the Constitution is the basis for America's great heritage and the foundation for our way of life.

*  Encourage the study of the historical events which led to the framing of the Constitution in September, 1787.

(cffor.org; ed.gov; dar.org; apples4theteacher.com)

 

"Educate and inform the whole mass of the people ... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty."    Thomas Jefferson

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Lawsuits Often Needed to Restore Freedom of Religion & Speech to Students - SEPTEMBER 1,  2019

California: The Huntington Beach S.D. agreed to pay attorney costs and a policy change that will permit "students to engage in religious expression without fear of reprisal."  A case was brought on behalf of two students in an elementary school who were denied their First Amendment rights.  The principal had barred the students from handing out "Bring Your Bible to School Day" information flyers during the school day, including lunch and recess, due to their religious content.

"Bring Your Bible to School Day" has become a national event, in October, in order to counteract the misperceptions created by a 1963 Supreme Court ruling that teacher-led prayer be removed from American public schools.  Many people falsely assumed religion had been banned.  Too often school officials unfairly infringe on student rights to free speech and confiscate religious themed books read during free time, forbid student prayer during non-instruction time, or ban speech, writing, and artwork with a religious content. 

Colorado: The Univ. of Colorado-Colorado Springs, refused to reverse its policy that a Christian group could not require officers and leaders to adhere to Christian principles - until it was sued.  The school has now changed its discriminatory policies and must also pay $20,500 in damages, court costs, and attorney fees as part of the settlement. "After they were sued, all of a sudden a higher level of accountability was involved and they decided to change their policies and allow our group to operate freely on campus," said an Alliance Defending Freedom attorney.

Florida:  Univ. of Florida agreed to stop discriminating against student group Young Americans For Freedom (YAF).  The group sued the University alleging the schools' process of disbursing student fees to fund organizations on campus discriminated against their political views.  UF's Student Government had denied YAF's request to become a fully budgeted student organization, thus preventing funding requests for guest speaker fees.

The YAF chapter agreed to settle its lawsuit against the university in exchange for it eliminating the policies that prohibited the YAF from receiving speaker fees for their likeminded speakers.

(freedomxlaw.com, 1/7/19; wnd.com,8/3/19; biblica.com, 10/4/18; onenewsnow.com, 5/29/19; conservativehq.com, 8/5/19)

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction... It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."  ~Pres. Ronald Reagan