RELIGIOUS FREEDOM WEEKLY
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE
Babel defined: a confusion of sounds or voices
Babble defined: To utter a meaningless confusion of words or sounds
The preservation of Constitutional religious freedom to practice, teach and evangelize our chosen faith requires truthful communication among Americans of all faiths or of none. May God guide us to regain a common language enabling us to understand and cooperate with each other to fulfill God’s plan for each of us. The Bible verses, Genesis 11: 1-9, tell of the descendants of Noah who migrated to a plain in the land of Shinar, later called Babylon, and decided to build a proud tower up to the heavens to show how great they were and ensure that they would not be scattered apart across the earth. The Bible tells us that God “confounded” their speech into different languages so they could no longer work together, instead scattering to all lands as God had originally commanded in Genesis 9:1 to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” Biblical commentators say that their revolt against the commands of God and their pride and arrogance brought on God’s retribution of confusion, of babel.
And what have we brought onto ourselves today? America’s critical conversations are often meaningless babble as we speak past, but not to, each other. The gratuitous and ongoing redefinition of society’s previously accepted vocabulary into personally desired or politically motivated or racially charged, manipulative terminology has us speaking different languages which generates misunderstanding, distrust, resentment, and even hate.
Generations of Americans have little to no belief in God or the facts of the USA’s grounding in the Judeo-Christian ethos. That ethos asserts our freedoms, the first of which is religious/conscience rights, come always from God, not from a king, dictator or all-powerful government who grants liberty as it sees fit. These Americans are unmoored from anything transcendental and larger than themselves, forcing them to be the sole, lonely arbiters of right and wrong, good and evil, acceptable and unacceptable. Vast segments of our citizens can no longer have honest discussions via shared definitions of faith, civilized behavior, common values, mutual priorities, and basic responsibilities that were long accepted as common ground and bonded our nation.
Let us pray and strive together for a restoration of civil discourse to renew the United States, the only nation founded on natural rights from God and blessed with a Constitution preserving religious freedom as the first freedom. This Constitution is well able to preserve those rights if only we understand its language and respect its original intent and blueprint for our Republic.
Colossians 3:8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE
The Constitution of the United States The “Miracle in Philadelphia” Was Grounded in America’s Judeo-Christian Values
"The happy union of these states is a wonder; their Constitution is a miracle; their example the hope of liberty throughout the world. Woe to the ambition that would meditate the destruction of either!" -James Madison
Judeo-Christian values are foundational to America, beginning with the Declaration of Independence "endowed by their Creator" to the principles found in the U.S. Constitution honoring God-given Life and Liberty.”
"Our Founding Fathers separated church from state, but they wisely did not separate God from state. They acknowledged God as the source of our rights and were careful to place Biblical morality directly into our founding documents and laws, and into our values and culture, precisely to help prevent a future totalitarian or tyrannical rule in America," wrote author Dr. Ronald R. Cherry (1)
It is alarming that many today have turned a blind eye to the required connection between God and Liberty and forgotten the warning from John Adams and Thomas Jefferson that Liberty cannot survive among men without its Divine connection.
"Remember that a Constitution which gives to the people so much freedom and entrusts them with so much power, rests for its permanency, on their knowledge and virtue," wrote Arthur Stansbury, in 1828. "An ignorant people are easily betrayed, and a wicked people can never be ruled by the mild influence of their own laws. If you would be free ... cultivate knowledge - flee from vice. The virtuous citizen is the true noble." (2)
(Elementary Catechism on the Constitution of the U.S. (2); americanthinker.com, 9/15/07(1); renewamerica.com, 5/5/11; thoughts.com,7/3/19; The 5,000 Year Leap)
Pope Francis and the Bishops of the United States have called for prayers for peace in the Holy Land after the strike by Hamas on Israel. Let each of us in our private and community prayer ask for God’s blessings and comfort on those suffering barbaric violence and tragic loss. Our prayers for peace must be constant and earnest that the fighting and death will end.
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“Religion cannot be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life." -Pope Francis, Evangelic Gaudium
"We in the U.S. actually have freedom of religion, not freedom of worship," said Sen. James Lankford. The terms, "freedom of religion" and "freedom of worship" are often used interchangeably, but there is a significant difference in meaning.
Freedom of worship "argues that faith should remain a private affair - relegated to personal activities or worship services," said policy analyst Sarah Torre. "Step outside the four walls of a home or house of worship and robust protection of religious freedom ends."
Freedom of religion is the more expansive term since it includes worship but also the right of believers to evangelize, change their religion, have schools and charitable institutions. "It's about the right to dress according to one’s religious dictates, to preach openly, to evangelize, to engage in the public square," said a spokesman for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. "Everyone knows that religious Jews keep kosher, religious Quakers don't go to war, and religious Muslim women wear headscarves - yet 'freedom of worship' would protect none of these acts of faith."
(ncronline.org, 8/18/16; dailysignal.com, 4/30/15; onfaith.com)
"Religious freedom is one of those unique rights that, to be fully enjoyed, other rights like association and speech must also be protected. Words matter." -Knox Thames, Pepperdine University, Director of Program on Global Faith and Inclusive Societies
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America’s Public Schools are not God-Free Zones
With the new school year well underway, this is a good time for parents, teachers and public-school students to review the rights of students to live their faith in many ways throughout their school days as set forth by the U.S. Department of Education.
The Students of Faith program, explained under the link to “School Prayer” on the website of Catholics for Freedom of Religion (cffor.org), has been used to teach thousands of students their protected rights to exercise their faith throughout the many hundreds of days they will spend in our public schools.
As long as the prayer is student-initiated, student-led and non-disruptive students may pray alone or with other students at many non-instructional times throughout the school day.
If other non-curricular clubs are allowed, students may form prayer groups and religious clubs and advertise their meetings and events as do the other clubs.
Teachers, administrators, and other school employees may not encourage or discourage private prayer or other religious activities.
Students may wear clothing and jewelry with religious messages to the same extent other non-religious messages are permitted.
Students have many other opportunities to practice their faith in public schools as put forth in the Dept of Education document linked below.
Although the Constitution forbids public school officials acting in their official capacities from directing or favoring prayer, students and teachers do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate”. Read at link below.
Let us pray with our children as they leave for school each day: Jesus bless me through this day, guiding what I do and say. Bless my friends and teachers too; keep us always close to you. Amen
Read the Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer and Religious Expression in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools as of May 15, 2023: https://bit.ly/46royYm https://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/religionandschools/prayer_guidance.html
“The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy but cannot disjoin them.” ― Thomas Jefferson
In Oct. 2020 nine pro-life activists participated in a “rescue” they believed could prevent the taking of innocent lives at an abortion clinic in Washington, D.C. This abortion clinic was shown in a 2013 undercover film taken by the pro-life group, Live Action. During that video an abortionist states that if a baby survives the abortion, and that some had, there would be no medical care provided and that the child would soon expire.
The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act was signed into law in August of 2002. It says from the point of birth forward a child who is born alive is to have the care that any child born at that gestational age would have as well as the same rights as any child.
A year and a half after the “rescue”, with predawn raids, the nine were arrested and charged under the FACE Act (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) plus a civil rights conspiracy charge. A FACE Act conviction calls for a maximum one-year prison term. A conspiracy conviction carries up to ten years in prison and fines up to $350,000.
At September 2023 trials in Washington D.C. eight activists were convicted of both charges. One had pleaded guilty. The actions of the activists inside the clinic, recorded on a security video, were shown during the trial on behalf of the prosecution. According to many who saw it that video showed the only violence was from clinic workers pushing and hitting the activists with a broom stick. Nevertheless, the judge stated that this was a crime of violence and, in a highly unusual action, instructed that all defendants be immediately incarcerated even before any sentence had been decided.
1st Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
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"Conscience is the most sacred of all property." —James Madison, 1792.
Those who insist there is no problem with America’s religious liberty are uninformed and unaware of the daily encroachments and denials of 1st Amendment rights to follow the faith of one’s choice, not beliefs chosen by government, and to live and exercise that faith openly free from government restraint. An American who believes that the ability to “go to church on Sunday” is evidence of religious freedom has no understanding of the critical difference between freedom of worship and freedom of religion. Such ignorance of the fullness of the protection intended by our founders and built into the 1st amendment, endangers freedom of religion for all as well as the full array of our liberties whose basis is freedom of conscience.
Thankfully, the Supreme Court has recently issued several opinions critical to the integrity of true religious freedom. The courts explanations clarify Constitutional religious freedom and empower Americans of all faiths to understand and defend what the USCCB frequently calls our First Freedom.
The opinions from the highest court impact Catholic Social Services, the Little Sisters of the Poor, Catholic schools, extreme government restrictions on the right to worship during Covid and more.
Read about support for Religious Freedom increasing in America: bit.ly/3PCqisg
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." —The Constitution. First Amendment.
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New Hope for Religious Freedom in the United States
The 1ST amendment to the US Constitution definitively protects the conscience rights and free exercise of faith of all Americans. Each year, however, the denials of 1st amendment religious freedom become more numerous, unmistakable, and severe. The increased vandalism and destruction of statues, shrines and churches parallels an increasing intolerance for believers and their right to worship, let alone bring their faith into the public square of ideas as was intended by our founders. Founding father John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Americans whose religious freedom is denied can contact multiple law firms, mostly supported by donations, which focus on defending their conscience rights as well as their right to openly live their faith in schools, communities, work, the military and the larger public square.
For example, First Liberty Institute of Plano, TX successfully defended Coach Kennedy, a school football coach fired by his school district for taking a knee after football games to pray, silently and alone, on the 50th yard line. Over time players from both teams voluntarily came to join Coach Kennedy in silent prayer. After 7 years of court action the Supreme Court’s opinion was that Coach Kennedy and all public-school teachers may engage in brief personal prayer in public view of others, including students.
Another example is the lawsuit filed by Becket Law to gain access for Catholics to Colorado’s universal, government funded preschool at the public or private school of the parents’ choice. The state, however, denies this benefit to students in Catholic preschools.
Also. Thomas More Society attorneys successfully challenged Illinois state’s new law which attacked pro-life maternal healthcare centers. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys have defended prospective adoptive parents against several states’ laws which deny adoption to parents who do not agree with the state’s gender ideology.
Knowing there is support available to protect religious liberty empowers us to preserve that liberty.
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Defense of the Religious Freedom of Firefighters, High School Football Players, Navy Seals, Catholic Schools and Parishes, Right to Life Groups – Defended Pro Bono by Law Firms of Dedicated Attorneys
"The happy union of these states is a wonder; their Constitution is a miracle; their example the hope of liberty throughout the world." -James Madison
"The U.S. Constitution stands as a testament to the tenacity of Americans throughout history to maintain their liberties, freedoms and inalienable rights." (1) In 1956, the Daughters of the American Revolution started the celebration of the Constitution adopted by Congress. Then, in 2004, Sen. Robert Byrd, correctly believing that American school children lacked significant knowledge regarding the Constitution, proposed an amendment, passed by Congress, requiring that all educational institutions receiving federal funds implement educational programs relating to the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17 every year, celebrating the signing of the Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787.
This Constitution is the world's longest surviving written charter of government with its first 3 words, "We the People", affirming that the government of these United States exists to serve its citizens. "...its framers wisely separated and balanced governmental powers to safeguard the interests of majority rule and minority rights, of liberty and equality, and of the state and federal governments." (2)
"To prevent the abuses of power they felt under the British monarchy, the Founding Fathers framed the Constitution carefully, distributing power over three branches of government, outlining its powers, limitations on those powers, and the rights of citizens." (3) The three branches were to have equal powers, called "checks and balances." "Powers not assigned to one of the three branches are left to the individual states." (4)
Some of the original delegates from the states were troubled that the original Constitution lacked a description of individual rights. In 1791, Americans added the first 10 Amendments known as the Bill of Rights. The first and foundational right is: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; ..." (5)
(dar.org(1); ciis.edu(2)(5); nationalday.com(3)(4); trinitydc.edu; uscode.house.gov.; Constitution of the United States
Remembering September 11, 2001
We pray, especially today, for those killed in the attack on our city, country and liberties. We pray for comfort for their loved ones as a nation still grieving the loss of each one of them. Let our lives reflect respect and appreciation for the liberties they had no chance to defend that day.
If the liberties they lived are to prevail, each generation must be taught the bedrock of our liberties is inalienable rights from our Creator. The natural rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness guided our founders to construct a Constitution written for “ages and millions yet unborn” …a Constitution not bounded by culture or by technology but by the immutable nature of man and his reliance on God.
Those Americans who died on Sept. 11, 2001, lived in the freedom to follow their faith or to choose no faith. They were not forced to behave or worship according to the dictates of any government. They were not subject to an all-powerful culture or government selecting winners and losers, rich and poor, respected and vilified. We honor them by living those freedoms and insuring them for their loved ones
As we remember the joy of their lives and the anguish of their loss, we pray for the repose of their souls in the comforting arms of the Savior of us all. May they rest in peace and may we protect and preserve the liberties for which they were so grievously attacked.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE
After both served in the military, Steve and Bridget Tennes moved back to the family farm where Steve was born, Country Hill Farms, in Charlotte, MI. The farming life particularly satisfied Steve and Brigid as it gave them the chance to work together and raise their children according to their Catholic beliefs. Their stated mission is to glorify God through their work and so were known to host events which resulted in contributions of thousands of apples to charitable organizations, providing quality, exceptional housing for their seasonal workers and also supporting an organization helping veterans to get a start in farming.
For years they had sold their products at a seasonal farmers market in East Lansing, MI, but were quickly banned from the market when city officials saw a Facebook posting where Steve and Bridget were asked about their beliefs about marriage. True to their Catholic faith, they answered that they believe marriage is between one man and one woman.
Officials from East Lansing saw the post, insisted that the Tennes were not adhering to the city’s ‘s non-discrimination policy and immediately began working to keep the family from participating in the market. A city policy was written specifically targeting the Tennes and then eliminating them as market vendors.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Christian legal-advocacy group, represented the Tennes and filed a complaint against the city of East Lansing in 2017. On Aug. 21, 2023, a district court ruled that the city could not deny access to the market to the Tennes based on their religious beliefs. The court said the City had placed “a burden” on the religious beliefs of Steve and Bridget by insisting they choose between their faith and their participation in a public benefit (the city’s farmers market).
The ADF attorneys see the court’s decision as an important win in the protection of religious freedom.
“It (religion) is an essential element of a constitutional state; it cannot be denied without at the same time encroaching on all fundamental rights and freedoms, since it is their synthesis and keystone." -Pope Benedict
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National Catholic Register, Catholic League, Catholic News Agency, Cardinal Dolan, etc. Respond to News of Three FBI Offices Involved in Labeling Traditional Catholics as Radical and Possible White Supremacists
“Nothing is more dreaded than the national government meddling with religion.” -John Adams
A Jan. 23, 2023, leaked memo from the FBI’s Richmond, VA office shocked America’s religious leaders and citizens of all faiths by its directing that the FBI should surveil Catholics who attend the Traditional Latin Mass and certain organizations such as The Remnant and Fatima Crusader as possible violent white supremacists. When this memo was leaked the FBI director responded that the memo was not in keeping with the FBI’s standards, was the product of one office, Richmond, and would be immediately removed.
However, on July 25, at the insistence of the House Judiciary Committee, the FBI again released their Richmond office’s memo with fewer redactions which revealed that FBI offices in Portland and Los Angeles had contributed to the document labeling traditional Catholics as potential domestic terrorists..
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Religious Freedom, objected to the document as being offensive, troubling and showing religious profiling. Bishop Barry Knestout of the Diocese of Richmond called out the memo as being in violation of religious freedom and he pointed out that a preference for the traditional Mass of the church and adhering to the church’s teachings on marriage, family and human sexuality do not indicate any kind of extremism. He called upon Virginia’s elected leaders to condemn this attack on 1st amendment religious liberty.
The House Judiciary Committee, in light of this new information, continues its investigation of this matter.
"Unless we work hard to keep our religious liberty, we are going to lose it," -Archbishop Charles Chaput
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“To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian." -George Washington
Of the five freedoms in the first amendment of the Constitution, religious freedom is first and asserts a robust exercise of faith and morals in every part of our lives free from government intrusion. Supporting religious freedom are the other four 1st amendment freedoms: freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly and of redress of grievances.
The United States is not a “Christian Nation”… that would be a theocracy, but is founded on the Judeo-Christian ethic which says all men are created equal and must be free to follow their conscience in the service of their God.
“The wall of separation between church and state” was a phrase used by Pres. Thomas Jefferson to assure the Danbury Baptists that their rights of conscience and free exercise came from God, not from government and are protected from government control by the 1st Amendment.
Tolerance is not a virtue, per Abp. Chaput. The toleration of extreme evil is itself evil.
“There is no other subject on which the average mind is so much confused as the subject of tolerance and intolerance. Tolerance applies only to persons, but never to principles. Intolerance applies only to principles, but never to persons.” -Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
Elie Wiesel, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust Survivor said, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” “Silence is consent.”
- We must learn to never apologize or be ashamed of Christ, the Catholic Church, the Bible, our faith and religious practices. The supposed tolerance that requires people of faith to be silenced is a lie and is the worst of intolerance.
- If we silence ourselves, self-censor our speech, for fear of offending, we will place the strongest shackles on America’s liberties. Christ told us that to follow Him we must pick up his cross. Christ promised us suffering for his sake.
“We cannot grow weary of defending the freedom God gives us.” -B. Samuells, CFFR
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“A diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.” -James Madison
Our Creator, not a king, emperor or elected government, is the source of each man’s unalienable rights as asserted in our Declaration of Independence
The Pilgrims came to America, not for religious freedom, but to escape religious persecution.
In our colonies only certain Christian denominations were chartered or allowed. No one could preach or practice a faith not included in the charter. Christians persecuted other Christians over denominational differences.
By the time of the founding the colonists saw that religious persecution in the colonies was the same evil that had caused them to flee to America.
Our founders knew the history of their forefathers of centuries of religious dictates. They did not want to repeat the mistakes of government-dictated religion because history was clear ... it always led to tyranny and persecution.
Our founders were men of faith who believed in the Bible as the greatest of all books
and source of moral knowledge…and believed in a final judgment where each would stand before his Creator and answer for what he had done and he had failed to do.
Therefore, they believed that each man must be free to follow his conscience. John Leland, Baptist minister and Founding Father, said, “If government can answer for individuals at the day of judgment, let men be controlled by it in religious matters; otherwise let men be free.”
“It is favourable to liberty.Freedom can exist only in the society of knowledge.” -Founding Father Dr. Benjamin Rush
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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Report shows Six Times Increase
Our founders often spoke and acted in support of freedom of conscience and the free exercise of religion for all Americans. They learned from the history of generations of their forefathers that when government interferes in the individual’s faith and practices, tyranny and bloodshed were the usual results.
The 1st amendment of the United States’ Constitution protects each citizen’s right to believe and to practice their faith or to choose not to profess any religious beliefs.
The free expression of faith in every aspect of our lives is protected and expected but frequently denied unnecessarily and unconstitutionally in the workplace. Instances of religious discrimination often take the form of
denial of hiring, being fired or denied promotion
being harassed over religious beliefs, dress and food choices
failure to accommodate religious holy days, not allowing religious icons displayed in the employee’s workspace or banning religiously-observant clothing.
The latest report from the EEOC shows that from 2021 to 2022 the instances of complaints of religious discrimination in the workplace surged from 2,111 to 13,814. The increase is sharp and alarming and may or may not reflect all the discrimination that actually occurs.
“The error seems not sufficiently eradicated, that the operations of the mind, as well as the acts of the body, are subject to the coercion of the laws. But our rulers can have authority over such natural rights only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God. The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” -Thomas Jefferson
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“We belong to the Church militant; and She is militant because on earth the powers of darkness are ever restless to encompass Her destruction.” -Pope Pius XII, 1953
The recent “honor” given to an anti-Catholic group by the LA Dodgers demonstrates that anti-Catholic sentiment can be publicly applauded with no fear of push back from a majority of Americans. The threat to all their freedoms posed by a Godless culture is unknown by most Americans because we have long failed to teach the Judeo-Christian foundations of our nation.
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco expressed his gratitude to Catholics and Christians who joined together at the California stadium in protest of the Dodger’s event and also protested at the capitol where a leader of the group was honored by some California lawmakers.
Pope Pius XII, Pope Benedict, Pope Francis and Cardinal Dolan are among church clergy who have called for the laity to use their charism (a special gift, an extraordinary power) from the Holy Spirit to fulfill the missions of the church.
We lay Catholics have the personal responsibility to learn, understand and teach others the meaning and effects of the freedom to believe as we choose and practice our faith without persecution or derision.
Our Declaration of Independence asserts that our inalienable rights come from our Creator. Therefore, no king or emperor or tyrant may tell Americans which inalienable rights they may and may not practice.
Americans are blessed to live under a Constitution whose 1st Amendment protects us with a wall of separation, as explained by Pres. Thomas Jefferson, which directs our government not to interfere in our God given rights of conscience.
Ten years ago Catholic laity in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. NY came together to learn and teach the facts of religious freedom to fellow parishioners. With the support and encouragement of then Bishop William Murphy the group organized speaking events, religious freedom rallies, public witness rosaries, a student education video and materials, a Rosary for America booklet and initiative and much more. On their website www.cffor.org there are a series of weekly lessons providing an efficient education in the facts and importance of religious freedom.
We do not wrestle against flesh and blood; but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. -Eph. 6:11,12
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Some providers of creative services, such as web sites, tee shirts, cakes and floral arrangements have followed their consciences in support of traditional marriage and declined to use their creative abilities to celebrate and thereby approve and endorse same sex unions. They have offered all other of their services to same sex couples, but for these unique, very personal, products and services they explain their beliefs and offer referrals to other vendors.
Many lawsuits have been filed attempting to force these creative business owners to speak out in support of same sex unions through their unique designs. Such a case is the one where Christian website designer, Lori Smith, who owns the business, Creative-303. Lori wanted to expand her business while sustaining her deeply held beliefs on traditional marriage.
However, as in the case of Jack Philips, the baker who also declined his artistic expression in support of same sex unions, Lori faced the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act which would force her as well as the baker, to accept these projects.
After losing the 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis case in a lower court, Alliance Defending Freedom presented the case before the Supreme Court. The opinion of the Supreme Court, in favor of Creative-303, was that the Colorado law deprived citizens of their right to free speech.
"Whatever you do, think of the Glory of God as your main goal.” -John Bosco
"If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe but yourself." -St Augustine
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On the first anniversary of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Supreme Court decision
which ended nearly 50 years of federal protection of abortion and sent the issue to each state for legislation and regulation, thirty Catholic members of the House of Representatives signed a letter asserting that their Catholic faith plus St. John Paul II’s Christifidelis Laici compel them to defend abortion.
In response, a statement was issued by the president and leaders of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
They explained that this assertion by the members of Congress who stated the Catholic church’s teaching supported abortion was grievously untrue. The bishops cited specific Catholic church teachings which protect life clearly and absolutely from conception.
The importance of the issue of individual conscience was also addressed by the bishops along with the teaching that conscience does not provide the right to commit evil and take innocent lives.
Read more here: bit.ly/3pHrhgr bit.ly/3JOqCAJ bit.ly/46AHW69
"If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe but yourself." -St Augustine
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On June 29, 2023, the Supreme Court issued its opinion on the case of the Pennsylvania mail carrier, Gerald Groff, whose faith required him to “keep holy the Sabbath” including not working on that day. His original employment agreement with the USPS allowed for his schedule to avoid Sunday work. When the Post Office began delivering packages on Sundays, he was told he must work on Sundays in spite of his original employment agreement.
America’s 1st Amendment protects the rights of every American of every faith to follow his conscience in the exercise of his faith. In denial of this right, when Mr. Groff took his case to lower courts, his request to maintain Sundays free from labor was denied so his case appeared before the Supreme Court.
“In a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court explained, “Title VII requires an employer that denies a religious accommodation to show that the burden of granting an accommodation would result in substantial increased costs in relation to the conduct of its particular business.” With a standard clearly articulated, the Court remanded the case so that Groff’s claim could be reconsidered.” Read more at National Catholic Register at: bit.ly/3XwszHE
"Driven from every other corner of the earth, freedom of thought and the right of private judgment in matters of conscience direct their course to this happy country as their last asylum." - Samuel Adams, Speech on August 1, 1776.
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July 9, 2023
"Freedom is a gift and a personal responsibility. " - Pope Francis
The First Great Awakening, a religious revival begun in the 1740s, infused the American colonists with a zeal for independence in religious practice as well as government, thus reinforcing the principle of freedom from religious persecution and for religious freedom, that brought the first settlers to America.
After almost a year of trying to resolve their differences with Britain concerning many grievances, together with taxation without representation (the colonists had no say in the decisions of the English Parliament even though they were English citizens), in May 1776, the 13 colonies sent delegates to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia. After nearly two months of prayer, discussion and debate, these "Founders" approved the Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson.
"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."
"Religious thinking, religious questioning and religious faith permeated the Revolution and the Founding," wrote world history author, H. McDougal. "The American cause was profoundly religious for Protestants and Deists alike because both identified America's future with a Providential (God) design." (1)
"Samuel Adams was the archetype of the religiously passionate American founder ... an apostle of liberty ... a man of deep religious conviction whose confidence, zeal, and endurance in the struggle for freedom was grounded in belief that an intervening God was on his side," said history professor S. Still. (2)
(The Faith of Our Fathers, by Alf Mapp(1)(2); str.org; lehraminstitute.org; hnp.org)
"We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom alone men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven, and with a propitious eye holds his subjects assuming that freedom of thought and dignity of self-direction which He bestowed on them. From the rising to the setting of the sun, may His kingdom come!" - Samuel Adams, Founding Father
Christianity has made numerous contributions to the world, demonstrating that it turned the ancient world upside down and laid the foundation for positive changes in societies around the world. While some choose to list the faults of those who claim to be Christians but have done great harm, the actual good done in the name of Christ is astonishing.
"It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of the coming of Christianity. It brought with it, for one thing, an altogether new sense of human life. For the Greeks had shown man his mind; but the Christians showed him his soul. They taught that in the sight of God, all souls were equal, that every human life was sacrosanct and inviolate," wrote Yale historian R.R. Palmer. (1)
"The gospel not only converts the individual, but it changes society. On every mission field ... the missionaries carried a real social gospel. They established standards of hygiene and purity, promoted industry, elevated womanhood, restrained anti-social customs, abolished cannibalism and human sacrifice, organized famine relief, checked tribal wars, and changed the social structure of society," wrote Princeton Prof, Samuel Zwerner." (2)
Despite its humble origins, Christianity made more changes on earth for good than any other movement in history. "Education, social reform, medicine, democracy, the arts and modern science all owe much of their current existence to the teaching and ideas of the followers of Jesus Christ," wrote author David Robertson.(3)
* Following Emperor Constantine's conversion in A.D. 325, the churches built hospitals, hospices for travelers and houses for orphans, widows and the indigent. Historians note that charitable organizations are almost unknown in the ancient world until the time of Christ.
* Christians took real, practical steps helping the sick. The Emperor Charlemagne (800-814) decreed that every cathedral was required to have an attached hospital.
* Monasteries generated the copying of Scripture and other literature, especially from Greece, and their libraries provided the inspiration for the first universities in the 12th and 13th centuries.
* Christianity places a high value on truth and that truth about the existence of God can be discovered through observation of the natural world, thus having a positive impact on the development of the sciences.
* Christianity produced a middle class not known to mankind. It had always been the rich and the poor, the elite and the serfs or slaves. But with Christ, the carpenter, there was now honor in all work as a God-given calling, helping to produce a vibrant middle class.(4)
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." Corinthians 3:17
(dailycaller.com, 12/22/17(1)(4); christianunion.org, 5/3/16(2): chnistiantoday.com(3); byfaith.co.uk; discover.hubpages.com, 9/17/18; coldcasechristianity.com, 10/22/21(4)
By Brandon Showalter, Senior Investigative Reporter
A Missouri Christian university is suing the Biden administration over a federal directive that its lawsuit claims requires religious schools to open their dormitories and showers based on "gender identity.”
The College of the Ozarks, a four-year liberal arts college in Point Lookout, filed a lawsuit in response to a February order from the Department of Housing and Urban Development that forces any entities that receive federal dollars covered by the Fair Housing Act to place transgender-identified biological males into female dormitories and assign them as females’ roommates.
The lawsuit argues that the rule forces religious schools to violate their religious beliefs and states that the order was issued "without notice or the opportunity for public comment." The lawsuit contends that the policy was issued without considering alternative policies that "respect the interests of private religious colleges."
Representing the school is the legal nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom, which argues that the directive violates both women's sex-based rights and the school's religious liberties.
“The government cannot and should not force schools to open girls’ dorms to males based on its politically motivated and inappropriate redefinition of ‘sex,’” ADF senior counsel Julie Marie Blake said in a statement.
“Women shouldn’t be forced to share private spaces — including showers and dorm rooms — with males, and religious schools shouldn’t be punished simply because of their beliefs about marriage and biological sex. Government overreach by the Biden administration continues to victimize women, girls, and people of faith by gutting their legal protections, and it must be stopped.”
Tyler Arnold/CNA, Nation, April 6, 2023
An Oregon woman filed a federal lawsuit against the state’s Department of Human Services after she was denied the opportunity to adopt a child because she refused to express support for gender ideology and homosexuality.
The woman, Jessica Bates, filed an application to become certified to adopt a child from the Oregon foster care system. However, to obtain the certification, a person must agree to “respect, accept and support the … sexual orientation, gender identity [and] gender expression … of a child or young adult” who is placed in the home, according to the state’s policy.
Although Bates promised to love and treat any child as her own, she told the certification officer that she “would not support their lifestyle or encourage any behavior related to their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression” if it went against her religious beliefs. The certification officer asked whether she would use a child’s preferred pronouns if he or she ever identified as transgender and whether she would assist a child with transitioning his or her gender through hormone therapy. Bates said she would not.
Because her stance did not comply with DHS regulations, her application was denied. A spokesperson for the state agency was not immediately available for comment Thursday.
Bates, who is receiving pro bono legal representation from Alliance Defending Freedom, argued in her lawsuit that this requirement infringes on her First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion.
“Oregon’s policy amounts to an ideological litmus test: people who hold secular or ‘progressive’ views on sexual orientation and gender identity are eligible to participate in child welfare programs, while people of faith with religiously informed views are disqualified because they don’t agree with the state’s orthodoxy,” ADF Senior Counsel Jonathan Scruggs said in a statement.
“The government can’t exclude certain communities of faith from foster care and adoption services because the state doesn’t like their particular religious beliefs,” he said.
Read more here: bit.ly/3qaOZlc
Janet Stecklein, CNHI Oklahoma, May 17, 2023
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma’s state superintendent must demand that the Bible be removed from public school libraries if he continues his push to ban books containing “graphic pornography,” an advocacy group said.
In a letter to Superintendent Ryan Walters, officials with the Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote that the Bible contains nearly 150 verses displaying a “pornographic view,” yet other books the Republican official has publicly targeted do not contain the “graphic sexual content” from which he wishes to protect children.
State Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, said the Bible is different than the books Walters is attempting to censor. He said the Bible does not use the same graphic sexual depictions in pictures, images or written descriptions as the books Walters is targeting. He also questioned how many public school libraries actually have Bibles on their shelves.
“They’re essentially trying to remove the rights of parents to protect their children from obscene material,” Standridge said. “And to bring the Bible in the conversation is again despicable because their only goal is to somehow put pornography in front of children. I don’t understand why an adult would want to do that.”
The government has seen the light and has abandoned its attempt to force an Oklahoma hospital to blow out a small candle or stop serving elderly, disabled, and low-income patients,” Lori Windham, vice president and senior counsel at the Becket religious liberty legal group, said May 5 on Twitter.
The chapel’s candle has never been an issue in previous inspections. Other open flames are permitted at hospitals in kitchen stoves and ovens, gas dryers in the laundry room, flames in gas water heaters, and welding for construction purposes, Windham noted.
According to Windham, the hospital candle is “encased in a thick glass globe, which is itself encased in a second glass globe, covered by a bronze top that fits over the second globe.” This globe rests in a bronze holder affixed to the chapel wall. There are fire extinguishing sprinkler heads around the candle and the local fire marshal has long approved it.
During a Feb. 21 inspection, Windham’s letter to CMS recounted, a surveyor from The Joint Commission at Saint Francis Hospital South in Tulsa “expressly asked to go to the chapel to see if there was a living flame.” The surveyor observed to hospital personnel that “other Catholic hospitals had complied and extinguished the living flame at their chapels, substituting it with an electric light.” While federal standards do classify chapel candles as “flame-producing equipment,” these are only barred within one foot of a nasal cannula, a device to provide supplemental oxygen. The hospital candle is never near such a device. The relevant codes and standards of the National Fire Protection Association expressly permit sanctuary candles.
Continue reading here: bit.ly/3Io2Db9
St. Francis, non-profit Health System in Oklahoma is the 12th largest hospital in the country and serves over400,000 patients each year and has provided over 650 million in free health services over the last five years. For 63 years a sanctuary candle has burned without a problem in the chapel at Saint Francis Hospital Yale Campus where vital healthcare is provided for the elderly, poor and disabled in Oklahoma. The fire marshal and government never complained about the candle until now. The hospital’s attorneys from the Beckett Fund point out that the candle is far from medical equipment and shielded by glass holders and a brass top.
Health and Human Services has mandated the extinguishing of the candle even though the hospital has applied four times for an exemption. Now they are working with the Becket Fund attorneys to protect the hospital system’s right to maintain the living flame in accordance with their 1st Amendment right to religious expression and in keeping with Cannon Law which states that when the Eucharist is present, a lamp must shine continuously. If the hospital is forced to extinguish the candle, they will have to remove the Eucharist from the chapel.
Psalm 30:2 “O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.”
By Andrea M Piccotti-Bayer
National Catholic Register
Roughly 20% of our military personnel are Catholics. Thanks to an incomprehensible decision by the hospital, if they or their dependents end up at Walter Reed, they are no longer guaranteed ready access to the Church's sacraments.
Just days before Holy Week, Walter Reed ended its contract for pastoral care with the Franciscan friars of Holy Name College in nearby Silver Spring, Maryland. Incredibly, they are being replaced by a secular government contractor that offers a wide range of specialists in “administrative and religious staffing.” In other words, they are not necessarily priests, and therefore cannot administer the sacraments often asked for by Catholics in the hospital: celebration of the Holy Mass, confession anointing of the sick, and last rites.
Archbishop for the Military Services Timothy Broglio, elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops last year, is not happy, to put it mildly — and the hospital should be warned that he is a formidable defender of the Catholics in his care. He says it is “incomprehensible” that essential pastoral care is being taken away from the sick and the aged and that the new contracting group “cannot provide the necessary service.”
James 5:15 “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.”
Supreme Court Deliberating Case of Christian Postal Worker with Major implications for religious-liberty rights in the U.S.
By: Peter Pinedo/ CNA “In 2019, Gerald Groff resigned from his position with the U.S. Postal Service after years of allegedly being harassed, targeted and disciplined for declining to work Sundays so that he could abide by the Third Commandment, to “keep holy the Sabbath day.” Groff then sued USPS for violating his religious rights. After his claims were denied by both a Pennsylvania district court and the 3rd Circuit Court, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to take up his appeal on April 18, 2023.
Groff is an evangelical Christian missionary and a former Pennsylvania mailman. In a Tuesday interview with First Liberty Institute, Groff explained that he has a deeply held religious conviction that the Sabbath is “not just about going to church, it’s about obeying the Lord and putting the entire day aside to honor and glorify him.”
According to Groff, he was repeatedly harassed and intimidated by his bosses because of his request to not work on Sundays. After facing escalating disciplinary action and the sense that he was on the brink of termination, Groff resigned from his position with the postal service in 2019 rather than waiting to be fired. Groff sued USPS in the federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, saying his right to practice his religion had been violated.” The Supreme Court’s opinion is expected around the end of June.
Third Commandment: Catechism of the Catholic Church
“Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God;”
First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”
God or Your Job?
April 30, 2023
Delaware and Vermont Bills Threaten Religious Liberty: Their only goal, they state, is to remove the rights of priests.
by Matt Lamb, Mar 21, 2023
Delaware and Vermont legislators are debating bills that would do away with what is called the “seal of confession,” a teaching of the Catholic Church that forbids priests from divulging what is heard during confession, when a Catholic shares his or her sins with a priest and seeks absolution.
While it is not clear if anti-Catholic animus is behind this legislation, it is also unclear what this bill would accomplish besides targeting Catholic priests for further questioning and forcing them to choose between going to jail or breaking a sacred promise they made never to divulge what is said in confession.
A priest who shares what someone told him in confession is automatically excommunicated, forbidden from accessing the other sacraments. Continue reading at http://bit.ly/412pMXb
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; -Establishment and Free-Exercise Clauses of the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution
A New Threat to Religious Liberty for Catholics
April 23, 2023
"Historically, religion and its adherents have often been oppressed by government. By contrast, America has been singular in its dedication to preserving the freedom of its people to expect and experience religious freedom. That is now rapidly changing," wrote Kelly Shackelford, president of First Liberty law firm. (1) In the past year there have been a number of violent attacks on churches, church gatherings, statues of Jesus, Virgin Mary, saints and monuments. Churches, synagogues and other church services have been banned or severely restricted, while liquor stores & casinos are allowed to be open. "A nation truly committed to religious freedom would, in a time of national crisis, welcome the essentiality of religion's exercise - not ban it." (2)
Religious liberty court cases have increased at an alarming rate. From the Constitution’s ratification until 1940, there were only 3 Supreme Court cases challenging religious freedom. But since then, more than 75 cases have come before the high Court. Religious freedom has been under increasing siege for eight decades now. (3)
"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." -John Adams, Founding Father and second president.
Speaking at the Univ. of Notre Dame Law School on Oct. 11, 2019, A.G. William Barr said that attacks on religious liberty have contributed to a moral decline in this country. "Secularists and their allies have marshaled all the forces of mass communication, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values." (4)
"The moral problems Barr mentioned in his speech - plus murder, mayhem, and other forms of anti-social behavior - will continue until we regain our moral footing," wrote Dr. Walter E. Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University. "I am all too afraid that a historian, writing a few hundred years from now, will note that the liberty America enjoyed was simply a historical curiosity. Then it all returned to mankind's normal state of affairs - arbitrary abuse and control by the powerful elite." (5)
(newsweek.com, 8/5/20(1)(2)(3); dailysignal.com, 10/23/19(4)(5); the guardian.com, 10/19/19;
deseret.com, 12/29/04; frc.org, 12/2/10)
“It’s the duty of everyone to defend religious freedom and promote it for all people.” - Pope Francis
The Decline - and Possible Fall - of Religious Freedom in America
April 16, 2023
”Conscience is the most sacred of all property." -James Madison, 1792
"More than 200 years ago, the Founding Fathers changed the world by embedding the fundamental human right to religious freedom in the U.S. Constitution. That right now hangs by a thread. More precisely, the First Amendment's "free exercise" of religion clause - that is, the freedom to not just believe but act consistent with one's faith in the public square - is in peril of collapse," wrote author Wesley Smith. (1) The current crisis has several causes that include the secularizing of American culture. Many non-believers don't value religious freedom because they fail to understand that this freedom is the bedrock upon which all our other freedoms are built.
The First Amendment is often no longer interpreted as intended. This started in the 1990 Supreme Court decision involving two Native Americans denied unemployment benefits after being fired for ingesting peyote during a religious ceremony. This case opened the door to oppressing faithful people and led to a public outcry that further led to the creation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA).
Today, many public figures want to destroy RFRA and are promoting the Equality Act, (more accurately called Inequality Act) and the harmful Do No Harm Act that would nullify RFRAs intent to protect religious freedom. If these two acts are passed and signed, Americans' freedom of religion would shrivel to a mere "freedom of worship." This means we would have the right to believe inside the walls of houses of worship but wouldn't be free to act on our beliefs in our public lives.
Sadly, if the U.S. "first liberty" can be so casually thrown away, so too could any other American freedom. This means we all have an essential stake in preserving freedom of religion. "Because once one fundamental freedom is 'disappeared,' others will surely follow." (2)
"It is not enough to say we are Christians. We must live the faith, not only with our words, but with our actions.” -Pope Francis
(epochtimes.com, 5/24/21(1)(2); adl.org, 3/3/17; nbcnews.com, 2/6/18; christianitytoday.com, 3/1/23)
An Attack on Religious Liberty is an Attack on All Our Freedoms
April 9, 2023
"Christian persecution should be seen as, and treated with, the same level of urgency as any other human rights crisis," said Gia Chacon. founder of For the Martyrs. "We have to realize that religious freedom does not mean that we have the ability to go to church. ... Religious freedom means that we have the ability to practice our deeply held religious beliefs in every area of society." (1) If Christians do not stand strong now, anti-Christian movements and attacks will only get worse, and we will soon lose our religious freedom.
Christian College Asks Supreme Court to Uphold Its Biblical Beliefs
"College of the Ozarks (MO) should be free to follow the religious tradition on which it was founded. The government can't strip a private, faith-based institution of its constitutionally protected freedoms because it disagrees with its views about marriage and sexuality," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel. (2)
The college is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a directive from the present administration that forces the school to allow male students into female dorms. "Young women should not be forced to share private spaces with men. That's what this case is about - the ability of a religious school to protect its students," said ADF. (3) "We hope the Supreme Court will take this case to halt the government's inappropriate order targeting religious institutions
And to respect the privacy, dignity and safety of female students.” (4)
Defending Free Speech and Religious Freedom for Georgia Police Officer
Georgia police officer, Jacob Kersey, was wrongfully pressured to resign his job after refusing to remove a Facebook post on his personal account that upheld a biblical view of marriage. Since Kersey was forced to choose between his faith and his job, he felt he had no choice but to resign. Nearly 35,000 citizens signed a petition to defend Officer Kersey. It read, "At a time with sky-high crime rates nationwide, our communities should be supporting our law enforcement officers.... This is religious bigotry. We will not stand for this." (5)
"I think God has really used this (situation) to continue to sound the alarm on the attack on religious liberty," said Former Officer Kersey. "Mine's not the only case. Obviously, you have coach (Joe) Kennedy, you have the fire chief Kelvin Cochran, and others like (Christian baker) Jack Phillips - ... I think it's just God using it to sound the alarm to hopefully wake people up." (6)
"Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." -Ephesians 6:13
(lifesitenews.com, 2/22/23(1); 1.cbn.com, 3/2/23(2)(4); thecollegefix.com, 3/13/23(3); news.world.edu/christian, 3/3/23; firstliberty.org, 3/17/23(5); dailysignal.com, 3/8/23(6); georgialawnews,com,3/19/23)
Christians Must "Stand Strong" or Risk Losing Religious Freedoms
April 2, 2023
"God is not only true, but truth itself.” -Pope Leo XIII
An Arizona school district says they will no longer hire student-teachers from a Christian university and voted unanimously to end their eleven-year partnership with Arizona Christian University because of the school's religious beliefs.
"We cannot continue to align ourselves with organizations that starkly contrast our values, and say that we legitimately care about diversity, equity, and inclusion and that we legitimately care about all our families," said the Washington Elementary School District president.... "While we recognize the right of individuals to practice their faith, public schools are secular institutions. ... Arizona Christian University (ACU) policies do not align with our commitment to create a safe place for our LGBTQ+ students, staff, and community." (1)
"While I full-heartedly believe in religious freedom and people being able to practice whatever faith that they have, I had some concerns regarding looking at this particular institution," said school board member Tamille Valenzuela. ... "My concerns (are) when I go to ACU website, they are committed to Jesus Christ, accomplishing his will and advancements on earth as in Heaven. Part of their values is to transform the culture with truth by promoting the Biblically-informed values that are foundational to Western civilization, including the centrality of family, traditional sexual morality, and lifelong marriage between one man and one woman. I want to know how bringing teachers from an institution that is ingrained in these values so directly brings impact to three of our board members who are part of the LGBT community. ... Because that makes me feel like I could not be safe in this school district." (2)
Arizona Christian University (ACU) filed a federal lawsuit alleging religious discrimination by the Washington Elementary School Board after the school board canceled their contract with ACU. Recently, hundreds of community members came to a school board meeting to object to its policy that the school will no longer hire graduates of ACU based on their Christian beliefs.
"We will sometimes need to challenge laws that would impair our freedom to practice our faiths, doing so in reliance on our constitutional rights to the free exercise of religion." -Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
(townhall.com, 3/7/23(1); foxnews.com, 3/3/23(2); pjmedia.com, 3/10/23; msn.com, 3/3/23; the blaze.com, 3/3/23)
"Hostility is always at the beginning of the persecution of Christians." -Pope Francis
A Catholic priest was burned alive and his assistant pastor was shot in the parish residence in north central Nigeria in January, 2023. "It's a continuation of a situation that's been going on for years," said Stephen Rasche from a center for peace and justice. "Many of the victims go unreported - all sorts of different types of Christians who are living in rural areas." (1) "This is a sad moment. For a priest to be killed in such a manner means that we are all not safe. These terrorists have lost it and drastic action is needed to end this ongoing carnage," said the state governor of Sani Bello. (2)
The World Index of Christian Persecution cites Nigeria as the first in the world for violence against Christians. It is estimated that 89% of Christians killed throughout the world are located in Nigeria with more than 7,600 Nigerian Christians murdered from January 2021 to June 2022. Nigeria is 53.5% Muslim, 10.6% Catholic, and 35.3% other Christian according to the CIA World Facebook.
The Christian churches in India are exhausted by the surge of anti-conversion laws and accusations of illegal proselytization. Mobs are driving out Christians from their villages and many face property destruction and personal violence .Recently, 22,000 Christians from many denominations and around the country gathered at the nation's capital to demand better. "This protest is basically to call the attention of the government to the increasing violence against Christians and our institutions," said the Orthodox Syrian Church in Delhi.(3) "This coming together of all denominations ... is a unity to strengthen the kingdom of God," said the National Council of Churches in India. "It is a cry of our people ... who are suffering in rural areas. They have a right to believe in their God, but that is being curtailed." (4) "Wherever persecution is reported, we approach the authorities to intervene and help Christians who are being targeted, but instead the authorities start to act against the Christians rather than help them ... the situation in the state is worsening with every passing day ...," said attorney Patsy David. (5)
"The age of martyrs is not yet over ... the Church as more martyrs now than in the first centuries." -Pope Francis
(aleteia.org, 1/15/23(1); cna.com, 1/15/23(2); abcnews.com, 1/15/23; africanews.com, 1/15/23; christianitytoday.com, 2/27/23(3)(4)(5); religionnews.com, 3/9/23; persecution.org, 3/9/23)
Persecution of Christians Increases in Nigeria and India
“The liberty enjoyed by the people of these States of worshipping Almighty God, agreeable to their consciences, is not only among the choicest of their blessings, but also of their rights." -George Washington
After more than two weeks and worldwide headlines, spontaneous revival services at Asbury University in central Kentucky came to an end recently - but the revival goes on off campus. On Feb. 23, during the final service on campus, people prayed over college campuses, asking God to bring revival to the world.
The school decided to end the on-campus services after tens of thousands of visitors flooded the campus and the small town of Wilmore, Kentucky, overwhelming local facilities and blocking traffic for miles. Asbury President Kevin Brown said the school's leaders felt that Asbury's role was complete and hoped that revival continues in other spaces.
"I just met so many people who didn't get to Asbury who wanted to get there, people who were filled with much regret because 'God did something and I missed it," said evangelist Nick Hall from Minneapolis, who arranged to continue the services in Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky (1) "We want to help people be able to feel confident to take this home, to reach their friends. And our prayer is that this will be unleashed in thousands of churches and schools from this place to the nations," Hall said. (2)
"We came all the way here from Orlando," said Christian Gonzalez who came to Lexington with his grandmother and sister. "We're just hoping to feel relief coming out of here, feeling like all my worries are gone. It's like starting anew almost." (3)
"Revival begins in our hearts," said Gary Lane from CBN News. "And we don't need to travel to Kentucky to experience the Holy Spirit. Still, many of us haven't seen revival like this since the Jesus movement of the 1970s. ... God is answering those prayers - those years of prayers for revival. So, let's embrace it. And go with God. And wait and see what God will do to transform America and the world." (4)
"Lord, I have heard of your fame, I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known." -Habakkuk 3:2
(religionnews.com, 2/28/23(1); lex18.com, 2/24/23; 1cbn.com, 2/27/23(2)(3)(4; ljr.com, 2/22/23; christianpost.com, 2/20/23; 1cbn.com, 2/17/23)
Asbury Revival Ends on Campus - But Its Spirit Lives On
We know that our culture's going to be changed by this." - Asbury University senior
"Attending the revival at Asbury was an unforgettable experience. We could literally feel the 'weighty' presence of God as soon as we walked into the building," said Jon Burdette of Dare 2 Share Ministries. (1)
A revival erupted on Feb. 8 at Asbury University, located in a small Kentucky town, after an evening chapel service didn't stop and transformed into a constant impromptu gathering that has since generated worldwide interest. Day and night, students and professors are passionately worshipping Christ. By Feb. 20th, an estimated 50,000 people had flocked to this Kentucky town with a total population of 6,000.
On Feb. 13th, Asbury Un. senior Alexandra Presta said, "Right now, I think we've reached over 120 hours of nonstop worship, praise, confession, testimony, Scripture, reading - you name it." ... "I was in chapel on Wednesday, and it was an ordinary chapel service ... we have them three times a week. But people just kept worshipping afterwards. It was a small group of students." ... "The Holy Spirit chose to just fall down and touch hearts. This is purely God moving and keeping people here and bringing more (who are) continuing to cross state lines and even across the country now." (2)
"We just had some people arrive from Finland, from the Netherlands, they have been coming from all over the country," said Asbury's Communications Director. (3)
There are reports that the revival has spread to Lee University in Tennessee, Cedarville University in Ohio, and at Samford University in Alabama. "Tonight, a large number of students gathered again to pray, read Scripture, testimonies, and to worship Jesus for about two hours! ...Keep praying for wisdom and a genuine movement of the Lord," said Cedarville Un. President Thomas White. "We don't know what to do next or what will happen next, but let's prepare our own hearts to be ready just in case God graciously moves in our country." (4)
"...I can testify that the Holy Spirit is at work in and among our student body," said Samford Un. President Beck Taylor. "What's happened isn't contrived, programmed, or scripted. Students and others see it as an opportunity for the Samford campus ...to extend the love and grace of Jesus to everyone." (5)
"I feel as though maybe we were the candle and now we are just passing that flame on to other churches and other schools." - Asbury University sophomore
(christianpost.com, 2/20/23(1)(3); faithwire.com, 2/14/23(2); 1.cbn.com, 2/17/23(4)(5); ljr.com, 2/22/23; faithwire.com, 2/14/23)
Hope that the Asbury Revival Will Grow to the Next Great Awakening - and bring attention to the importance of religious freedom worldwide.
"Earlier this week, a lawsuit was filed against the Nation Archives and Records Administration (NARA) stating that the morning of January 20, 2023, the day of the March for Life, several visitors to our museum in Washington, D.C., were told by NARA security officers 'to remove or cover their attire because of their pro-life messages," the National Archives statement read. "As the home to the original Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which enshrine the rights of free speech and religion, we sincerely apologize for this occurrence." (1) This lawsuit follows the suit against the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum where March for Life students were expelled for refusing to remove their hats that simply said, "Rosary PRO-LIFE."
20 States Demand FBI Cease Targeting Catholics
The attorneys general of 20 states have demanded the FBI produce "all materials" related to its recently leaked 'anti-Catholic' memo that targets so-called "Radical Traditionalist Catholics" (RTC) as "un-American." (2) These Catholics believe the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s teachings about the sanctity of life from conception to natural death, marriage between one man and one woman, the biological reality of male and female, and they may attend the Latin Mass.
In the leaked memo, the FBI cites various reports from the Southern Poverty Law Center that has a history of targeting Christians and conservative groups while receiving millions of dollars from far-left organizations and promoting the LGBT agenda.
The 20 attorneys general demanded the FBI "immediately and unequivocally order agency personnel not to target Americans based on their religious beliefs." They "request a full explanation of the document's origins, documents related to its implementation," and "whether the FBI has begun infiltrating houses of worship in conflict with the FBI's internal guidelines." (3)
While the FBI has retracted the document following intense backlash over its contents, Attorney General Miyares of Virginia has emphasized they remain unpersuaded by the FBI's "damage-control efforts."
Definition of persecution: hostility and ill-treatment, especially on the basis of ethnicity, religion, or political beliefs.
(news.yahoo.com, 2/10/23(1); faith wire.com, 2/9/23; aclu.org, 2/10/23; lifesite news.com, 2/11/23(2); washingtontimes.com, 2/10/23(3); catholicleague.org, 2/9/23)
Another Violation of First Amendment Protections: More March for Life Students Expelled from a Public Building
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; -1st amendment
Catholic students were expelled from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum on Jan. 20, 2023, for refusing to remove hats expressing their pro-life beliefs. "...they were accosted several times and told they would be forced to leave unless they removed their pro-life hats. The group all wore the same blue hat that simply said 'Rosary PRO-LIFE.' Other individuals in the museum were wearing hats of all kinds (of messages) without issue," said the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) "The museum staff mocked the students, called them expletives, and (said) the museum is a 'neutral zone' where they could not express such statements." (1) As they exited the building, the employee who forced them out rubbed his hands in glee.
This was clearly a violation of First Amendment protections of freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and not the first time that pro-life students experienced discrimination during the National March for Life. In 2019, a Covington Catholic HS student was libeled and vilified by the mainstream media, accused of an action he didn't commit, and was subsequently vindicated by cell-phone videos. The teenager sued, and press giants such as the Washington Post and CNN settled out of court.
FBI Retracts Its Plot to Surveil so-called "Traditionalist Catholics"
"Deeply committed Catholics are the last people the authorities should be concerned about," said Bishop Joseph Strickland in response to an FBI agent's, turned whistleblower, document that the agency planned to conduct surveillance on those they thought had "radical-traditionalist Catholic ideology." (2)
Bishop Strickland said that while it's true that "committed traditionalist Catholics will defend the unborn and others who are helpless," any "attacks of violent aggression are antithetical to what it means to be a radically committed traditional Catholic...Sadly, the experience of (pro-life) Mark Houck provides evidence that this type of surveillance is not beyond the realm of possibility." (3) Fortunately, on Jan. 30, Houck was acquitted of charges that could have sentenced him to eleven years in prison.
Following intense backlash, the FBI released a statement saying it is retracting their plan against Catholics.
"The Bible clearly says that faithfulness and persecution often go hand in hand."
-Billy Graham, Evangelist
(faithwire.com, 2/9/23(1); lifesitenews.com, 2/1/23; aclj.org, 2/9/23; washingtonexaminer.com, 2/9/23; lifesitenews.com, 2/8/23(2)(3); dailycaller.com, 2/9/23)
"Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” -Isaac Asimov, Writer, Science Professor
"The vandalism we are seeing today is quickly rising to levels that haven't been seen since the late 1800's and early 1900's from organized groups such as the Know-Nothings and the Ku Klux Klan," said Brian Burch, president of Catholic Vote, in his recent report about hundreds of attacks against churches since May 2020. (1) "Since civil unrest began on May 28, 2020, following George Floyds death in Minnesota, there have been at least 278 attacks against Catholic churches in the U.S. including arson attacks which damaged or destroyed historic churches, spray-painting and graffiti of satanic messages, rocks and bricks thrown through windows, and statues destroyed, often with the heads cut off," Catholic Vote reported. (2) While the unrest over Floyd's death eventually subsided, attacks on Churches continued to rise.
"Americans appear increasingly comfortable lashing out against church buildings, pointing to a larger societal problem of marginalizing core Christian beliefs, including those that touch on hot-button political issues related to human dignity and sexuality," said a Family Research Council report released in December 2022. (3) This report found that church attacks spiked to 397 following the overturning of Roe v Wade that returned the abortion issue to the states.
Pro-life facilities have also faced a barrage of attacks since the Dobbs abortion decision leak at the Supreme Court last May 2022. At least 80 pregnancy resource center attacks have been reported but many attacks are unreported because these centers want to protect their clients. The pregnancy resource centers provide free medical and financial support to pregnant and new mothers. They have been spray-painted with pro-abortion and anarchist messages and symbols and several have been set on fire.
The FBI is offering rewards up to $25,000 for information related to these attacks. "Today's announcement reflects the FBI's commitment to vigorously pursue investigations into crimes against pregnancy resource centers, faith-based organizations, and reproductive health clinics across the country," said the FBI Director. (4)
"Social justice cannot be attained by violence. Violence kills what it intends to create.” -Pope John Paul II
"Saying that there are too many children is like saying there are too many flowers." -Mother Theresa of Calcutta
(catholicvote.org, 1/25/23(1)(2); msn.com, 1/23/23(3); washingtonexaminer.com, 1/19/23(4); catholicvote.org, 6/9/22; washingtontimes.com, 1/24/23)
"Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech." -Benjamin Franklin
New licensing rules in Minnesota that require teachers to "affirm" students’ transgender identities will effectively ban religious Christians, Muslims, and Jews from teaching in public schools. MN state certified teachers will be required to "foster an environment that ensures student identities such as ... gender identity ...are...affirmed." (1) Other states are also looking for ways to implement these unconstitutional licensing rules.
"...teachers are going to be faced with hiding their beliefs or getting denied (a state teaching license)," said Doug Seaton of MN Upper Midwest Law Center. "Christians, Muslims, and Jews need not apply for MN teaching jobs." (2)
The new standard requires that a licensed teacher, "fosters an environment that ensures student identities such as sex and gender, gender identity, sexual orientation ... are historically and socially contextualized..." (3) Standard 6C requires that "The teacher understands the historical foundations of education in MN ...that have and continue to create inequitable opportunities, experiences, and outcomes for learners ... on the basis of ... gender, sexual orientation." (4)
"The (licensing board) has made it impossible for those practicing orthodox Christianity and Judaism, for example, to freely exercise their religion and simultaneously hold a teaching license. ... It compels potential licensees to speak the (licensing board’s) chosen beliefs as an established creed and live them out in order to have a job. It establishes (licensing board’s) view of human sexuality and gender as orthodoxy despite sincere opposition based on biological reality and traditional theistic beliefs," wrote attorney Doug Seaton to the law judge who approved nearly all the new standards in December. (5)
College teacher preparation programs will also have to comply with these new requirements. This sets up another constitutional conflict by requiring religious institutions to endorse behaviors and ideologies that conflict with their beliefs. When put into effect, these new rules will likely meet court challenges.
"When even one American - who has done nothing wrong - is forced by fear to shut his mind and close his mouth - then all Americans are in peril." -President Harry S. Truman
(ground.news, 1/12/23(1); thefederalist.com, 1/12/23(2)(4); olivetreeviews.org, 1/15/23; therightthing.com, 1/12/23(3)(5)
Banning Religious Americans from Teaching in Public Schools
February 5, 2023
Mall security guards at the Mall of America in Minnesota, ordered a man to remove his "Jesus Saves" T-shirt or leave the mall. A video of the incident that took place on Jan. 7, 2023, shows the guard telling Paul Shoro to remove his shirt because "Jesus is associated with religion and it's offending people." (1)
Mr. Shoro explained, "I didn't speak, I didn't say anything." The guard said, "Take your shirt off, and you can go to Macy's and do your shopping, or you can leave the mall. OK? Those are your only options right now." (2) The guard told Shoro that the shirt is treated as religious soliciting which isn't allowed at the privately owned mall. Fortunately, the mall later said that security subsequently allowed Shoro to remain in the mall while wearing the shirt.
The question is: why is this happening in America? Why would any American feel the need to shut down such a common declaration of faith as a message on a T-shirt? The U.S. Constitution does not prohibit religious messages on clothing because doing so would violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1994. These laws and statutes protect religious freedom as well as freedom of speech and expression including the right to wear T-shirts with religious messages and images, religious jewelry, etc.
Iowa Elementary School Misunderstanding of "Separation of Church and State"
An elementary school child in Iowa was told in the fall/winter of 2022 that because of "separation of Church and state" he could not hand out religious materials to his classmates, share his faith with them, or bring religious books or items to school. His mother contacted the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) for help. It was clear to ACLJ attorneys that the school officials did not understand the law regarding the religious freedom of students and sent a legal letter detailing the legal rights of students. Upon receiving this information, the school reversed its objections, and the student has been allowed to continue his non-disruptive religious activities without any issues. (3)
This fortunate child has a parent who took action to defend her son's religious freedom rights and now fortunate school officials are aware of the rights of students and teachers to practice their faith.
"It's the duty of everyone to defend religious freedom and promote it for all people."- Pope Francis
(washingtontimes.com, 1/17/23(1); blaze media.com, 1/18/23(2); aclj.org; dailysignal.com, 1/17/23; repository.uchastings.edu, 2018; aclj.org,12/13/22(3)
Attempts to Suppress Any Religious Expression Continue
January 29, 2023
"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong."-1 Corinthians 16:13
The American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to consider a long legal battle concerning a public prayer vigil in Ocala, Florida. The litigation has been in the court system for 8 years and in July, 2022, a decision from the Eleventh Circuit opened the way to a Supreme Court appeal where this case has the potential to achieve legal landmark status.
The circumstances of the case are as follows: In 2014, the City of Ocala experienced a crime spree causing serious injury to several children. The police knew the identity of the shooters but were unable to persuade frightened witnesses to testify. Following community policing standards, Police Chief Graham met with local leaders who suggested the police department reach out to the faith-based community for help persuading witnesses to come forward. These leaders decided to hold a community prayer vigil, planned and organized by private citizens.
Volunteer chaplains led the vigil that was widely supported and well attended. At the request of the organizers, Chief Graham posted a letter encouraging unity and prayer and attendance at the vigil. Atheists, offended by the idea of a prayer vigil, demanded city officials cancel the event and later sued the City for allegedly promoting the vigil.
Now, 8 years later, following reversals at the lower courts, this case will be presented to the Supreme Court. The ACLJ petition, on behalf of the City of Ocala, will be the first to raise the issue of whether "offended observer" standing is sufficient to bring a case. Recently, commenting on the decision in another case, Justice Gorsuch and Justice Thomas said that the lower courts "invented observer standing for Establishment Clause cases in the 1970s in response to this Court's decision" in a similar lawsuit that has recently been overturned.(1) Thus, the ACLJ is hopeful that the Supreme Court will take up this important case that will be a major moment for prayer and religious liberty.
"The Secret to Happiness is Freedom; The Secret to Freedom is Courage."-Thucydides, Greek Philosopher
(aclu.org, 8/24/22; aclj.org, 12/16/22(1); TFP.org, 7/25/22)
Defending Freedom to Pray in Public
Americans Who Are Not Afraid to Show Their Faith in Public
"Human rights, of course, must include religious freedom..." -Pope Benedict XVI
The observation of Religious Freedom Day every year on Jan. 16 may be the most important, and most overlooked, American observance on the calendar. It stands with such critical historical moments in U.S. history as the signing of the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, and the ratification of the First Amendment to the Constitution.
On January 16, 1786, the Virginia Assembly passed the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, written by Thomas Jefferson, that became the model for the First Amendment's religion freedom clauses that guarantee no creation of a state religion and the free practice of religion according to one's conscience: "all men shall be free to profess, and...maintain their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no way diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." (1)
"Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof… - First Amendment: Constitution of the United States
Each year, since 1993, the President issues a proclamation designating January 16th as Religious Freedom Day in commemoration of the many faiths that make up our country, in recognition of religious freedom as the essential foundation for all our liberties and as a call for Americans to go forth to live out their faith and exercise their religious liberty.
"Now, therefore, I, George Bush, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim January 16, 1993, as Religious Freedom Day. I urge all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities in their homes, schools, and places of worship as an expression of our gratitude for the blessings of liberty and as a sign of our resolve to protect and preserve them."
(Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom(1); firstliberty.org; daily citizen.com, 1/16/19)
A pro-life volunteer, Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, was approached by police in Birmingham, England on Dec. 6, 2022 and asked, "Are you praying?" as she silently stood near a closed abortion clinic. She was subsequently arrested when she admitted she "might" be praying inside her head. She was charged with four counts of breaking a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), designed to stop antisocial behavior, because police received complaints from an onlooker who suspected she was praying even though she was not holding a sign or making any visible form of protest. She had been spotted near the clinic three other times and when asked about these occasions, she explained that she may have been praying but she also may have been thinking about other things. Nevertheless, she endured this ordeal even though her 'behavior' was quiet and peaceful.
"It's abhorrently wrong that I was searched, arrested, interrogated by police and charged simply for praying in the privacy of my own mind. Censorship zones purport to ban harassment, which is already illegal. Nobody should ever be subject to harassment. But what I did was the furthest thing from harmful - I was exercising my freedom of thought, my freedom of religion, inside the privacy of my own mind. Nobody should be criminalized for thinking and for praying, in a public space in the UK," Isabel told Alliance Defending Freedom UK.(1)
George Washington University Law Professor, Jonathan Turley, wrote, “... free speech has been in free fall in the UK for years. It is a cautionary tale for those in the United States, which is facing arguably the largest anti-free speech movement in its history. ... It is easy for Americans to wave off such European prosecutions by pointing to our First Amendment. However, there is a growing movement in the U.S. to replicate such European laws." (2)
"The UK is an example of the slippery slope of speech criminalization that inevitably took them to 'thought crimes,' even criminal prayers. These cases should be a wake up for all who value free speech (and freedom of religion). If such prosecutions stands, free speech literally does not have a prayer in the Western world." (3)
"If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to slaughter." - George Washington
(aleteia.org, 12/24/22(1); jonathanturley.org, 12/24/22(2)(3); gbnews.uk, 12/23/22; nypost.com, 12/22/22; birminghammail.co.uk, 12/20/22; cna.com, 12/21/22)
"Eucharistic Revival: My Flesh for the Life of the World”
This 3-year grassroots revival was proposed by the Bishops of the United States (USCCB) to revive devotion and belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Launched on June 19, 2022, the Feast of Corpus Christi, the theme for the current year through June 2023, is the “Year for Diocesan Renewal”, offering events to promote and inspire understanding of the Eucharist.
"According to Pew Research Center, only 31% of Catholics even believe in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist." (1) The Revival vision is to inspire Catholics who are healed, converted, formed, and unified through encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist to share this relationship "for the life of the world." (2)
Misnamed "Respect for Marriage Act” Rejects Meaning of Marriage and Jeopardizes Religious Freedom
The so-called "Respect for Marriage Act," signed into law on Dec.13, 2022, overturns the 1996 Clinton era "Defense of Marriage Act" that said marriage is between one man and one woman. The legislation also codifies same-sex marriage by reinforcing the 2015 Supreme Court ruling making same-sex marriage legal. The Catholic Church is one of several Christian denominations and religions (Orthodox Jewish, Muslim, etc.) that only recognize marriage as a union of one man and one woman. The authors of the newly signed bill claim that it provides protections for religious freedom, but most faith leaders dispute this claim.
The USCCB criticized the Respect for Marriage Act as being contrary to the common good. "The bill fails to include clear, comprehensive, and affirmative conscience protections for religious organizations and individuals who uphold the sanctity of traditional marriage that are needed," said Bishop Robert Barron, chairman of the USCCB committee on laity, marriage, family life and youth. (3) This concern is not unfounded since there have been dozens of instances of government persecution of religious practice in America over the past few years.
"In recent years, the list of parties with religious objections to same-sex marriage who have lost their court battles include Catholic adoption agencies, Jewish universities, and Christian wedding vendors," wrote The Washington Stand. (4) This bill would only multiply the occasions whereby people and organizations of faith could be discriminated against or sued.
"Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm." -Ephesians 6:13
(nationaleucharisticrevival.com (1)(2); ncregister.com, 12/13/22(3); washingtonstand.com, 11/28/22(4)
"Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home." -G.K. Chesterton
Christmas Season, which celebrates the birth of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, has been fast changing from a religious holy day to a secular holiday. One effort to combat this goal of a secular, indifferent and often atheist society is from the American Nativity Scene project and their mission to give away free, large nativity scenes for public display on public property with a particular aim to put nativities in front of all 50 State Capitol buildings. This Christmas, 40 State Capitols have now erected Nativity Scenes and are proof that the religious and many non-religious alike, value the true reason and joy of the season that celebrates the humble birth of the Christ Child - the King of Kings. In fact, a 2022 poll by the Washington Times "showed an overwhelming majority of 72% of the citizens agreed that religious scenes displayed on public property by private individuals should be allowed as our constitution allows." (1)
The Thomas More Society and the American Nativity Scene are helping groups of private citizens across the nation to display Biblical manger scenes on government property. "Many erroneously assume that government entities are prohibited from allowing a religious display," said Thomas Olp, Senior Counsel at the Thomas More Society. "The law is clear: Government entities may erect and maintain celebrations of the Christmas holiday, including nativity scenes, as long as a creche's sole purpose is not to promote its religious content, and it is placed in context with other symbols of the season ... We pray that the nativity scenes of the Christmas season will help to foster a sense of unity and peace on earth." (2)
This year Juneau, Alaska’s State Capitol, will display a Nativity scene for the first time. "The true joy of Christmas is a newborn baby lying in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes," said Andrew Klausner, coordinator of the Juneau State Capitol Nativity. (3) With this addition of Alaska, now 40 state capitols have nativities. The states that have, as of yet, not erected a nativity scene from the American Nativity Scene project are Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia. (4)
"Awake mankind! For your sake God has become man." St. Augustine
(americannativityscene.com, (1)(4); thomasmoresociety.org, 12/15/21(2); thomasmoresociety.org, 12/1/22(3); returntoorder.org; juneauempire.com, 12/1/22; drik.news, 12/1/22)
Keeping Christ in Christmas at 40 State Capitol Buildings
December 18, 2022
“Mankind is a great, an immense family… This is proved by what we feel in our hearts at Christmas.”
- Pope John Paul XXIII
December holidays are always a challenge and educators often receive confusing advice about how to treat religious holidays. The last decades of increased diversity in our schools have challenged public schools to deal creatively and sensitively with student populations representing many faiths and beliefs, secular and religious. Happily, research reveals that celebrating Christmas and other holidays in the classroom brings children and teachers closer together, builds community links, and improves pupils' learning. (1)
A good way to deal with the December Dilemma is to begin the season with a focus on an often ignored holiday: Bill of Rights Day, December 15th. It was established to commemorate the adoption of the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution on December 15. 1791. Beginning the season with activities around the Bill of Rights offers an opportunity for students to reflect on the civic values of rights, responsibility, and respect that all Americans share as citizens, no matter their religious or secular beliefs.
Senior fellow at the Freedom Forum, Charles Haynes, recommends that before planning holiday activities in public schools, choral directors, teachers, and administrators should ask themselves three simple questions:
"1. Do we have a clear educational purpose? Under the First Amendment, learning about religious holidays is an appropriate educational goal - devotionally celebrating is not.
2. Will any student or parent be made to feel like an outsider by the concert, lesson or activity? Most parents and students are fine with learning about religious traditions - as long as the approach is academic, not devotional.
3. Is our overall curriculum balanced and fair? December shouldn't be the only time sacred music is in the curriculum. Students should learn about religious music from various world traditions at other times in the school year." (2)
Prepare, celebrate and evangelize the coming of our Savior
Let your December explode with joy as you anticipate the Birth of the Christ Child with a manger on your lawn, Christmas lights on your bushes, a glowing tree in your window, a magnet on your car, a lapel pin on your coat, a donation to the local soup kitchen, a gift under your church’s Giving Tree and an enthusiastic “Merry Christmas” greeting for all.
(ca3rsproject.org, 12/22(2) tes.com, 12/20/19(1); continental press.com,11/10/20)
The December Dilemma 2022: Celebrating Religious Holidays in Public Schools
December 11, 2022
"Conscience is the most sacred of all property." -James Madison, 1792
"It is deeply concerning that the U.S. Senate has voted to proceed toward passage of the "Respect for Marriage Act," said Cardinal Timothy Dolan, USCCB Chairman for Religious Liberty. "The Catholic Church will always uphold the unique meaning of marriage as a lifelong, exclusive union of one man and one woman. ... we are joined by millions of ...reasonable and sincere Americans - both religious and secular - who share this time-honored understanding of the truth and beauty of marriage." ..."but the provisions of the Act that relate to religious liberty are insufficient." (1)
The Respect for Marriage Act is a bill that seeks to reinforce the already legalized same-sex marriage rights. In 2015 the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell vs Hodges, that the 14th Amendment requires states to recognize and license same-sex marriages. However, after the Dobbs decision which ruled that federal abortion rights are unconstitutional and the issue of abortion must be decided within each state, many supporters of same-sex marriage want to reinforce the 2015 decision in case the court ever overrules the Obergefell decision.
Unfortunately, religious freedom "protections" in this new version of the “Respect for Marriage Act” are entirely inadequate and also threaten the institution of marriage in multiple ways. (2)
· It further embeds a false definition of marriage in the American legal fabric.
· It jeopardizes the tax-exempt status of nonprofits that exercise their belief that marriage is a union of one man and one woman.
· It endangers faith-based social-service organizations by threatening litigation and liability risk if they follow their views on marriage when working with the government.
· It could make religious freedom and free speech cases harder to win.
· It opens the door to federal recognition of polygamous relationships.
"Obergefell created countless religious liberty conflicts, but this Act offers only limited protections. Those protections fail to resolve the main problem with the Act: in any context in which conflicts between religious beliefs and same-sex marriage arise, the Act will be used as evidence that religious believers must surrender to the state's interest in recognizing same-sex civil marriages. Wedding cake bakers, faith-based adoption and foster care providers, religious employers seeking to maintain their faith identity, faith-based housing agencies - are all at greater risk of discrimination under this legislation," said Cardinal Dolan in his statement. (3)
“It is the duty of everyone to defend religious freedom and promote it for all people.” -Pope Francis
(usccb.org, 11/17/22(1)(3); adflegal.org, 11/3/22(2); thewashingtonstand.com, 11/17/22; ncregister.com, 10/7/22; deseret.com, 11/21/22; congress.gov, 7/17/22; the week.com, 11/18/22; law.com, 11/4/22)
Deceptively Named “Respect for Marriage Act” Denies
Religious Freedoms and Causes Deep Concern Among Bishops
December 4, 2022
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE
This November’s election results include an extreme right to abortion added to the state Constitution of Ohio. The Catholic Conference of Ohio explained the amendment as endangering the health and safety of women, threatening parental rights, and allowing abortion through all nine months of pregnancy; the amendment allows all individuals, including minors, to make their own reproductive decisions. Ohio taxpayers who are pro-life could well find these abortions included in taxpayer-funded Medicaid coverage.
Each current election, and certainly the 2024 upcoming election, is now described by media pundits as the most important in the history of America. In each election more and more issues and candidates reflect a clash of basic principles: we will choose between the Judeo-Christian beliefs of our founders which include life, liberty, the rule of law, limited government and protection of conscience rights vs opposing principles reflected in unrestricted, taxpayer-funded abortion, extensive central government control, selective application of the law and conscience rights labeled as an excuse to discriminate.
Political operatives try to focus our attention on each candidates' personality traits with a concurrent appeal to thought-free emotions instead of providing thoughtful analysis of policies and accomplishments. Informed voters are critical thinkers who ponder: what are the issues about which I will not compromise and abandon my closely held beliefs? What principles, values, and policies will I vote for without regard to media spin?
What are the Judeo-Christian values our Founding Fathers wove into the fabric of the American nation as the basis for inalienable individual liberties set forth in the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights?
# 1. Faith in God and human life is the first gift of God. This value is primary because it leads to a culture of Life, not a culture of death. Americans who value life will defend innocent life and reject abortion, especially through the 9th month.
# 2. Our Liberty is a gift from God and not from government. "Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty." (2 Corinthians 3:17)
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE
"Conscience is the most sacred of all property." - James Madison, 1792.
George Washington - “The liberty enjoyed by the people of these states of worshipping Almighty God, agreeable to their consciences, is not only among the choicest of their blessings, but of their rights.”
Our founders established a nation where all religions could be exercised without discrimination or fear of persecution. They knew a moral and religious citizenry was vital to the exercise and survival of our extensive individual liberties, recognition of equality among men and the safe and respected practices of multiple religious sects.
1st Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;
or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Our 1st amendment asserts each citizen’s right to be free from government-imposed religion and to follow their conscience in the practice of the faith they may choose. The other four freedoms in the first amendment are essential support to Freedom of Conscience/Religion:
Freedom of speech empowers us to speak about our faith, to pray with others and to evangelize our beliefs.
Freedom of the press empowers us to print our Bibles and books of prayer and worship and to spread our faith through the printed word.
Freedom to assemble empowers us to come together in our churches, communities and public squares to worship, celebrate and evangelize.
Freedom of redress empowers us to challenge the government when it oversteps the wall of separation clearly described in Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists, to keep government out of the affairs of each citizen’s beliefs and religious practices.
A lack of education in the facts of our freedom of conscience as a founding principle and pillar of our liberties has led to generations of Americans denying religious freedom in our schools, colleges and the public square of ideas and governance. That denial has worsened into intolerance, intimidation, and a shocking and dangerous increase in hate crimes in our nation.
Read more here: http://bit.ly/470f7ji
In 1775, Paul Revere rode through the streets of towns and villages, country roads and dirt paths, calling out to his countrymen and neighbors to wake up, and prepare for an imminent attack on their freedoms.
In 2012, a group of Catholics came together bound by a common concern: the federal government’s denial of freedom of conscience. Much like Paul Revere, they recognized the urgent need to alert their friends and neighbors to an attack on our foundational freedom – our freedom of religion.
"The constitutional freedom of religion is the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights." -Thomas Jefferson
The group was roused by the government’s mandate that forced all employers, except churches, to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraception and sterilization as part of their health insurance. These Catholics recognized that this was an extreme denial of religious freedom – and it was unconstitutional. The federal government was claiming the ability to deny First Amendment rights through regulations and excessive fines.
The Catholics – who were retired professionals, enjoying time with their families, and volunteering in their communities – saw that this information was not reaching Catholics in the halls of their schools and the vestibules of their churches, and they felt compelled to act. Their mission was clear: to draw attention to the ongoing erosion of religious freedom in the US and around the world.
"It's the duty of everyone to defend religious freedom and promote it for all people." -Pope Francis
It was clear that secularism was being hard pressed on the heart of one of the most basic conscientiously-held beliefs – the sacredness of human life. The group knew from the world’s history of religious intolerance and persecution that all Americans were in great jeopardy, particularly since religious freedom, the right of conscience, is the first of all our inalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The group ultimately decided to mobilize and the Catholics for Freedom of Religion (CFFR) nonprofit organization was formed, embodying the group’s commitment to grassroots action. This has involved 11 years of building resources and expanding volunteers to reach more fellow lay Catholics and bring attention to denials of religious freedom. Together, we continue to educate our fellow Americans about the facts and importance of religious freedom, how dearly it was purchased for us and how easily it is diminished and denied when we are not vigilant. To learn more and to get involved, visit www.cffor.org.
"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do." -Edward Everette Hale
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE
Please Pray the “Rosary for America”
When a new nation emerged from the thirteen British Colonies of the New World, the Catholic Church was to become a bulwark of the lives and the Judeo-Christian foundation of that nation. Although the Catholic church and its followers had been distrusted and unwelcome throughout most of the colonies from the earliest settlements, the Catholics persisted in their faith so that at the time of the first United States’ census in 1790 there were almost 4 million people but only 65,000 Catholics.
The first American born Bishop, John Carroll, was given the responsibility of organizing the Catholic church throughout these newly United States, governed by a Constitution proclaiming religious freedom for all. Bishop Carroll faced a daunting task but had within him an abiding faith in the Blessed Virgin Mary and the power of her intercession.
Jesuit Bishop John Carroll, the first bishop and archbishop in the United States, and of Baltimore in his first pastoral letter of May 28, 1792, to the Catholics throughout the thirteen states, dedicated our country to the Mother of God.
He wrote: "I shall only add this my earnest request, that to the exercise of the sublimest virtues, faith, hope and charity, you will join a fervent and well-regulated devotion to the Holy Mother of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; that you will place great confidence in her in all your necessities…”
The Blessed Mother, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, has been the patroness of the United States since 1846 when so declared by the Bishops of the United States.
At this time in the trials of our nation and its religious freedom please make it a habit to pray for each state and each of its officials by invocating Mary’s intercession by reciting the
Pope Adrian VI declared: “The Rosary is the scourge of the devil.” Mary herself, immaculately conceived and full of grace, brings only fear and terror to the devil and his underlings. When we join her in the prayer she gave us, we receive her intercession and protection as we seek Christ.”