This question is especially relevant today because of two recent events:
First, recent comments made by Senator Bernie Sanders in a Senate Committee Hearing made believers consider whether they still have the right to practice what they believe (watch the video here).
Secondly, the Supreme Court has agreed to review MasterpieceCakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. In this case, the Supreme Court will decide whether craftsman and artists still have the right to decline the promotion of a message they disagree with if it violates deeply-held religious beliefs, or if they can be forced to participate in a ceremony that violates his or her faith.
To better understand this question, we should refer to the First Amendment, which states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof (emphasis added); 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.” The First Amendment makes it clear that personal faith and the practice of faith are not to be separated by the government.
On June 26, 2017 in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer,Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch referred back to the First Amendment, when he stated, “that clause guarantees the free exercise of religion, not just the right to inward belief (or status).” This statement aptly outlines why artists, craftsman, etc. are not only free to believe in their faith but are also free to practice what they believe within their business. This case was a victory for all Americans who try to put their faith and beliefs into action.
In the name of “inclusiveness,” the Left has attempted to coerce individuals of faith to violate their consciences. But polling shows that a majority of Americans support the freedom to believe and live out those beliefs in the public square. The American Founders understood that threats against religious freedom would arise. For this reason, Madison wrote in Federalist 51: “It is of great importance in a republic not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers, but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part.” Madison understood that harmony can only exist in a republic if the beliefs of individuals are protected—whether they’re in the majority or minority. In our country, people of faith have the freedom to believe and to act in accordance with that belief. The Left should take note that the right which protects a Jewish butcher from being compelled to serve pork is the same right that permits Christians to decline to bake a cake for a court-created same-sex marriage. This is not just a Christian issue, this is a question that affects anyone who has a conscience and wants to put their beliefs into practice.
As stated on FreetoBelieve.com, “When Americans believe something, they back it up with their actions (emphasis added). Our core beliefs define who we are, and how we live. The freedom to believe and live according to those beliefs is the foundation for a civil society where people of differing beliefs can live and work together with mutual respect.”
Like other challenges to faith and freedom that America has faced, we are hopeful that this current trend of religious liberty violations be put behind us. However, if freedom is not properly defended in situations such as Senator Sanders’ challenge of Mr. Vought or in MasterpieceCakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the potential to cause devastating consequences for faith-filled Americans is daunting.
The recent Supreme Court ruling in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer should encourage all lovers of freedom. However, this is just one victory in many cases that the Supreme Court will review. All believers are called to pray for our country and that the Supreme Court will continue to defend the right of all people to put their faith into action.
On July 1, President Trump delivered an address honoring military veterans at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Here are some of his most memorable quotes (see the below video to view quotes at the indicated times in parentheses):
“Bureaucrats think they can run over your faith and tell you how to live, what to say, and where to pray, but we know that parents, not bureaucrats know best how to raise their children and create a thriving society …” (10:43-11:05)
“…and we know that families and churches, not government officials, know best how to create a strong and loving community, and above all else we know this: in America, we don’t worship government we worship God…” (11:19-11:42)
“Our religious liberty is enshrined in the very first amendment in the Bill of Rights. The American founders invoked our Creator four times in the Declaration of Independence…” (12:11-12:27)
“Inscribed on our currency are the words ‘In God We Trust,’ but not only has God bestowed on us the gift of freedom, he’s also given us the gift of heroes willing to give their lives to defend that freedom…” (13:03-13:25)
“Every veteran with us tonight from every branch of the military – Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard – I want you to know that we will always keep our promises to those who have kept us free. Since my very first day in office, we’ve taken one action after another to make sure that our veterans get the care they so richly deserve…” (19:25-19:48)
“I also want to speak to all of the people in our faith community who are here with us tonight – veterans and non-veterans alike. You’re never gonna be forgotten. My administration will always support and defend your religious liberty…” (25:05-25:35)
“We don’t want to see God forced out of the public square, driven out of our schools or pushed out of our civic life. We want to see prayers before football games if they want to give prayers. We want all children to have the opportunity to know the blessings of God. We will not allow the government to censor sermons to restrict the free speech of our pastors and our preachers…” (25:43-26:27)
“I just signed an executive order – and this is something that makes me very happy and very proud – following through on my campaign pledge to stop the Johnson Amendment from interfering with your First Amendment rights. As long as I am president, no one is going to stop you from practicing your faith or from preaching what is in your heart…” (27:03-27:48)
“Though we have many stories we all share one home and one glorious destiny, a destiny that’s getting better and better every single day, and whether we are black or brown or white, and you’ve heard me say this before, we all bleed the same red blood, we all salute the same great American flag, and we are all made by the same Almighty God.” (29:55 -30:46)
“As long as our country remains true to its values, loyal to its heroes, and devoted to its creator, then our best days are yet to come, because we will make America great again.” (32:16- 32:32)
Family Research Council Action launched a video ad calling on Americans to tell their Senators “to denounce Bernie Sanders’ religious test” upon the nomination of Christian nominee Russell Vought for the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Vought’s nomination drew national attention after Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) deemed Vought unfit for public service due to his Christian belief that salvation is found through Jesus Christ alone.
In the confirmation process, Sen. Sanders fires off probing questions that had nothing to do with the job Vought was being considered for, experience, or qualifications, but had everything to do with the nominee’s faith. Sanders referenced a piece Vought wrote in The Resurgent defending his alma mater, Wheaton College, for its decision to stand by Christian doctrine when the school decided to fire a professor for equating Islam with Christianity.
Sanders pulls out a quote from Vought’s piece in the Resurgent stating, “‘Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology. They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ, His Son, and they stand condemned.’ Do you believe that that statement is Islamophobic?” says Sanders.
Vought: “Absolutely not, Senator. I’m a Christian, and I believe in a Christian set of principles based on my faith …
Sanders: “… Forgive me; we just don’t have a lot of time. Do you believe people in the Muslim religion stand condemned? Is that your view?”
Sanders: “… Do you think that’s respectful of other religions?… I would simply say, Mr. Chairman that this nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about.”
Nominee, Russell Vought, was criticized for what seemed to be a religious test by Sen. Bernie Sanders when Article VI of our nation’s Constitution clearly states “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
Christians have been sued and bullied out of their livelihood for “bringing their faith into the workplace” even as business owners in the private sector! Now one is required to have a certain set of religious beliefs to be qualified for a specific job?
In response to Senator Sanders’ religious bigotry, Family Research Council (FRC) started a petition calling on Senator Sanders to apologize for his unconstitutional religious test and urged the U.S. Senate to reject the religious test. Over 55,000 Americans have already signed FRC’s petition.
In case you haven’t had a chance yet, you can still sign the petition today here.
Please call your Senator TODAY at (202) 224-3121 and tell them to confirm Vought! They need send a clear message and vote to confirm Vought based on principles — the principles of religious freedom, freedom of thought, and constitutionalism.
Parts taken from original article published here on The Christian Post.
In the most expensive congressional race in history, the election for Georgia’s 6th district demonstrated that spending a greater amount of money will not necessarily translate into a decisive win. While Planned Parenthood and its affiliates had intended this election to serve as an example of how worn out the country is of Republican legislators, it has had the opposite effect of re-asserting Georgian voters’ commitment to pro-life leadership.
Pro-life candidate, Karen Handel, defeated her pro-abortion challenger, Jon Ossoff, by 3.8 percent. According to Open Secrets, the two outside groups that spent the most to help Ossoff were the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Planned Parenthood Action Fund – the latter of which spent close to $800,000.
Although June 20th was the closest the Democratic Party has come to winning this district in 40 years, comparing how much each candidate spent per vote reveals a striking contrast.
This election is one example of how far this country has come in its support of the pro-life movement. Contrary to what Planned Parenthood would have Americans believe, recent polls have shown that at least 78 percent of Americans favor strong abortion restrictions. Massive campaign funds, aggressive door-to-door advertising, and hundreds of TV and radio commercials, funded by out-of-state donors, are not enough to convince pro-life voters to abandon their values at the election booth.
The election on June 20th infers that the 6th district of Georgia has voted pro-life, despite the incredible pressure placed on voters from the over $32 million of pro-abortion/pro-Ossoff advertising. This election should reassure and inspire pro-life advocates around the country. It demonstrates that regardless of how much is spent, staunch Georgian voters will not be bought or convinced to vote for a pro-abortion candidate.
The recent comments made by Senator Bernie Sanders, in regards to the statement of faith by Russel Vought, are full of contradictions. In his comments to the Senate Budget Committee, Senator Sanders openly stated that he believed that Mr. Vought’s faith makes him at odds with American values. However, silencing religious liberty in the public square, in an effort to support tolerance, not only contradicts itself but dramatically harms our country and the dialogue that should happen between politics and religion.
Regardless of his understanding of evangelical doctrine, Mr. Vought made it clear in his statements that he sees each person as a unique gift from God with inherent dignity. Further, this belief will in no way inhibit his abilities to act as Deputy Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Senator Sanders’ line of questioning did not focus on Mr. Vought’s abilities as a Deputy Director, rather, they focused on his understanding of salvation and contradicted his right to live out his faith.
Similarly, in a misguided attempt to encourage diversity, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote an article defending Senator Sanders’ remarks. The views within the ACLU article also contradicted themselves, by asserting that individuals like Russel Vought, who express their faith in the public square, infringe on the faith and diversity of others. However, the right to religious liberty is not meant to become a vacuum that sucks all religion out of the public square. Rather, the right to religious liberty should encourage individuals to live out their faith in a way that promotes dialogue through mutual respect.
Senator Sanders’ response to the faith of Russel Vought is a blatant example of bigotry against Christians. Please join with Christian leaders and Family Research Council by signing this petition today in support of religious liberty and the right to live out our faith in the public square!
For nearly 40 years, Washington and much of the American public have held up disclosure and campaign finance laws as ideals that have helped pave the way to cleaner and freer elections. In her new book, The Intimidation Game, Kim Strassel provides first-hand accounts detailing how these laws have been hijacked by the Left and used as weapons against free speech and free association, becoming powerful tools to help silence their political opposition. Strassel, an editorial board member for the Wall Street Journal, spoke to the Family Research Council about her book, outlining the in-depth reporting that reveals what is happening:
The political Left’s shift of stance on free-speech and what the catalyst was for this shift.
Examples of the shift, such as the IRS’ targeting of Tea Party groups.
The politicization of government agencies like the IRS, FEC, and SEC by the Obama administration.
This video lecture provides valuable insight into the political Left’s shift on free speech and free association and how this developed into tactical intimidation to quiet their political opponents. Strassel provides concrete and startling evidence to show how the Left may not actually be the party of free speech.
The war on religious freedom is still being waged by Obama-era bureaucrats even during the Trump administration. The latest bureaucratic attack is being waged by the National Park Service and the Grand Canyon National Park, both of which fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of the Interior. These organizations are teaming up against experienced geologist Dr. Andrew Snelling. Dr. Snelling, a Christian and an acclaimed scientist with many published works to his credit, has been attempting to conduct research on rock formations in the Grand Canyon for the last three years.
When a request was made by Dr. Snelling to the Park to acquire a handful of rock samples, he was denied. That denial was followed by years of bureaucratic red tape, delays, and excuses for the denial. It was later discovered through public records that the involved government bureaucrats were explicitly discriminating against Dr. Snelling for his Christian faith and beliefs surrounding the earth’s formation.
Dr. Snelling commented, “This case is all about giving the freedom for a scientist to do good science without having to undergo a religious litmus test. The samples I have been blocked from collecting in the GCNP are to be subjected to routine lab processing and investigations any good scientist would perform. The results are to be openly reported for all scientists to draw their own conclusions, whether they agree with my worldview interpretation of the history of the Earth.”
Regarding the park’s opposition, Dr. Snelling added: “We expect debate about what the evidence means, but the park shouldn’t prevent us from collecting data just like other scientists. I am merely asking for equal treatment by the government.” Dr. Snelling is fighting back by taking this case to court, but he needs to know that people are standing with him.
We now have the opportunity to take back the religious liberties that have been under attack over the past eight years. Signing this petition on behalf of Dr. Snelling will show him that he is not standing alone, and it will show bureaucrats who have targeted him that this is an issue the American people will not overlook.
By authorizing doctors to violate the Hippocratic Oath of “do no harm,” physician-assisted suicide undermines our nation’s most cherished values of providing compassionate care to the sick and dying. Assisted suicide prevents vulnerable citizens with life-limiting illnesses from receiving the best palliative medical care when they need it most. Earlier this year, Washington, D.C. joined six other states in legalizing physician-assisted suicide.
As a physician of over 25 years and a strong supporter of patient rights and access to quality care, Congressman Brad Wenstrup has led the charge in Congress to repeal the D.C. law and ensure that safeguards stay in place to protect our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. Congressman Wenstrup shared with the Family Research Council why physician-assisted suicide should not be a partisan issue, but a human issue. Some of his arguments that he used include:
Moving personal accounts of families who were drawn closer together through the death of a loved one, experiences that would have been cut short or missed altogether if assisted suicide.
The lack of accountability in tracking potential abuses that comes with these laws.
The lethal drug that is used to commit assisted suicide has in many cases been used to kill people who do not have a terminal illness.
Assisted suicide decreases options for patients, because insurance companies would rather fund lethal drugs instead of potentially life-saving procedures, since it is often the cheapest means of “treatment.”
Do No Harm: The Peril of Physician-Assisted Suicide provides valuable information on why physician-assisted suicide isn’t just bad policy, but bad for humanity. Congressman Wenstrup’s extensive medical background and personal experience with cancer in his own family gives him unique insight into why this policy is detrimental to society by way of its devaluing of human life.
Yesterday, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins was interviewed by Fox News anchor Shannon Bream on President Trump’s commencement address to the graduates of Liberty University.
Tony’s statements echo the sentiment of many evangelical Americans who are finally seeing steps taken on the issues that motivated them to go to the ballot box. In this interview, Tony details some of the promises that have been kept by the Trump administration. As Tony states, we are truly seeing the beginning of a new chapter in American history.
See the transcript of his comments below:
>> Shannon: Tony Perkins, Family Research Council president and Liberty grad, joins me now. Thank you for joining us this morning Tony.
>> Tony: Good morning Shannon.
>> Shannon: To me the line that stood out was “we don’t worship the government; we worship God as Americans.” It’s a different message than what we’ve heard over the past few years and it seems like one the president tailored to that audience.
>>Tony: Without question. I think this was the president at his best. This was not only a great day for the graduates of 2017, I think it was a great day for the university. As a graduate of Liberty University, I’m proud of where this university has come in its short tenure, relatively speaking. I think the president really set the stage. He was not only speaking to the graduates, but I think he was speaking to his evangelical base across the country. One of the things that stuck out to me was this; he said, “We will always stand up for the right of all Americans to pray to God and to follow his teachings. America is beginning a new chapter.” If you look at what we’ve seen over the past eight years with the hostility toward religious expression outside of the four walls of a church, I do believe we have begun a new chapter in American history.
>> Shannon: He signed an executive order a couple of weeks ago and there were people within the evangelical community who were disappointed. They said it didn’t have enough teeth and that it was too watered down by people in the administration, possibly the Trump family, who may not have understood its aims or may have thought it could be construed to be negative and discriminatory. What did you make of the order?
>> Tony: I was there in the Rose Garden when he signed this and I had been discussing this for weeks with the administration. They’ve learned how every move they make is being challenged in the courts and I think they’ve grown wise in that. I think they’ve taken a strategic approach. Even so, most people don’t realize that portions of that order have already been challenged in court by atheist organizations. But I think this executive order is just one of many examples. Look at the selections he’s made to the Supreme Court and the lower courts. Look at what he’s done on the repeal and replace of Obamacare. There are pro-life provisions in there; defunding Planned Parenthood. Look, his speech matters; rhetoric is not just pure rhetoric. There is a record that he is amassing to back that up. We have truly begun a new chapter in American history where we have an administration that is not only welcoming of faith, but he said in his executive order that they will “vigorously protect and promote religious freedom.” For evangelicals that’s music to our ears.
>> Shannon: Well after the past few years with the Little Sisters of the Poor and the Hobby Lobby cases, that’s a different message that a lot of people want to hear. He also talked about being an outsider and how you should relish that opportunity, that was his message to the students, but it seems like something that he really relishes too, kind of stirring things up and poking people and doing things in a very different way.
>> Tony: Shannon, I think that’s why evangelicals in the end were attracted to him, because while they may have a slightly different world view, they face the same critics. I spoke at Liberty last fall right before the election, and my message was not very different from his. The crowd was a little smaller, but the message was live out your faith in the face of those who criticize you and have no fear of man, only a reverence for God, and I think that essentially was his message. Face your critics and live out your faith. You have an administration that is going to provide cover for you to do that.
>> Shannon: Well the crowd was smaller when I spoke at commencement, we’re not presidents. But anyway, Tony Perkins, good to see you, thanks.
As you know, President Trump recently issued an executive order on religious freedom and has talked a great deal about the need to repeal the Johnson Amendment. Most are wondering what would need to happen legislatively to repeal the Johnson Amendment and restore religious freedom and free speech to churches and nonprofit organizations.
Americans should not have to give up their right to free speech when they work for a church or a nonprofit. Yet, that is the legal state of affairs under the “Johnson Amendment.” The Free Speech Fairness Act is a bill that restores free speech and religious liberty to churches and other nonprofits so that they are free to address all issues – even political candidates and causes. This bill is needed because America was built on the principle that free speech and the free exercise of religion are inalienable rights for all citizens.
This policy lecture will help you stay informed on this important piece of legislation, and it lays out the specific reasons why all Americans, especially pastors, need to be concerned about keeping speech free and fair.