Category archives: Religious Liberty

Putting Children Before Politics

by Worth Loving

May 1, 2018

For decades, faith-based adoption and foster care organizations have played a critical role in providing services to children in need. They have excelled in this and serviced the neediest of these already needy children. As reported by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), 45 percent of the 3,794 adoptions completed by Catholic Charities in 2009 were of children considered to have special needs. Also in 2009, 32 percent of the 1,716 adoptions completed by Bethany Christian Services were of hard-to-place older children previously in foster care.

It is imperative for these children that all agencies, both faith-based and secular, remain in the adoption and foster care system. Without them, many children would have no place to turn. Today, 440,000 children are in foster care, and 100,000 of those are awaiting adoption. The opioid crisis is only adding to these numbers. In 2016, 92,000 children alone were in foster care because of drug abuse in the home. In fact, drug abuse is the number one reason why children are placed in foster care. With so many children desperate for stable homes, it would seem obvious to provide every avenue possible for that to happen. However, there is a growing movement to remove faith-based adoption agencies from the equation. Due to their deeply held religious beliefs, many faith-based adoption agencies seek to place children in homes with a married mother and father. Recently, in the scramble to embrace “LGBT equality,” lawsuits were filed in Michigan and Texas, challenging each state’s laws protecting faith-based adoption agencies. In Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, and California, similar lawsuits succeeded, resulting in the shutdown of several Catholic adoption organizations. In Illinois, approximately 2,000 children were displaced as a result of one of these lawsuits despite that fact that every state allows LGBT adoption and has numerous agencies willing to facilitate these adoptions.

Such threats to the well-being of children prompted Representative Mike Kelly (R-Penn.) to introduce The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act (H.R. 1881) in the House of Representatives and Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) to introduce it in the Senate (S. 811). This bill protects faith-based adoption agencies from discrimination by letting them continue their work of placing children in adoption and foster families while remaining loyal to their deeply held religious beliefs and does nothing to prevent LGBT adoptions. The bill simply seeks to keep faith-based agencies in the business of helping children, free of government discrimination.

Those fighting to remove faith-based agencies from the table have a specific agenda in mind, an agenda that seeks to silence those with whom they disagree while trampling on the best interests of children. The fight to protect faith-based adoption agencies is about ensuring families have a wide range of options to select an agency that meets their physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual needs. It’s about ensuring that some of the most overlooked members of our society will no longer be forgotten.

The House sponsor of this bill, Rep. Mike Kelly, spoke at FRC this past Thursday on the importance of passing this bill. Speaking on the importance of keeping faith-based agencies at the table, he said:

All service providers, religious or secular, who work to provide children with loving families should have a seat at the table and never be disqualified from doing so because of their deeply-rooted religious beliefs. The more groups providing these crucial services, the better.

How ironic that leftists want to exclude faith-based agencies from placing children in loving homes while rabidly defending federal funding for Planned Parenthood, a group that only provides one adoption referral for every 82 abortions.

Our goal should be to place children in loving homes. Any agency that provides this service should be allowed a seat at the table. To learn more about the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, please watch this FRC Speaker Series event. And then, contact your U.S. Representative and both U.S. Senators and ask them to support this bill.

Free Speech in the Era of Social Media

by Worth Loving

April 20, 2018

In the last decade, the explosion of the internet has allowed us to reach a global audience almost instantly. Online social media platforms have become the primary way that people express their views, with 69 percent of American adults using some form of social media every day. And while these companies claim to be open platforms for all political discussion, some groups and individuals are finding there are limits to free speech.  

Since 2010, there have been an alarming number of incidents where conservative and Christian views have been censored on the internet. For example, in April 2015, GoFundMe deleted the fundraising campaigns for Sweet Cakes by Melissa and Arlene’s Flowers, two businesses that have declined to provide services for same-sex weddings and were raising money to help pay for legal fees. In January 2017, D. James Kennedy Ministries was denied access to AmazonSmile, a program developed by Amazon to allow customers to donate to the non-profit of their choice when making a purchase. Amazon based its decision on the SPLC’s designation of D. James Kennedy Ministries as a “hate group.” In July 2017, Facebook temporarily blocked over 20 pages of Catholic organizations and individuals that were followed by millions worldwide.

On Tuesday, “True Blue” recipient Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), a leading voice in Congress on digital free speech, joined a panel of experts at FRC to discuss solutions to online censorship. Rep. Blackburn was herself a victim of online censorship last October when Twitter blocked an ad for her Senate campaign, which they deemed “inflammatory.” The ad called out Planned Parenthood for their illegal sale of baby body parts.

Today we are faced with the difficult question of whether government regulation of a private enterprise is necessary to protect free speech. We encourage you to take time to watch the panel discussion and learn more about one of the most critical free speech issues of our time.

Michigan Pastors Deliver 23,000 Petitions to Legislators in Support of Metro City Church

by FRC Action

April 11, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Yesterday, Michigan pastors delivered over 23,000 petition signatures to state legislators in support of Pastor Jeremy Schossau of Metro City Church and FORGE Ministries. The petitions were addressed to Rep. Camilleri and Rep. Zemke who called for an investigation into the church and ministry for hosting “The Unashamed Identity” Workshop — an event offered for teenage girls to learn what the Bible teaches about sexuality.

The petition urges Rep. Camilleri and Rep. Zemke to withdraw their request for an unconstitutional government investigation into Metro City Church and FORGE Ministries, and to respect the freedom of this church to teach what the Bible says about human sexuality.

Randy Wilson, Family Research Council’s National Field Director for Watchman on the Wall, made the following comments:

Pastor Jeremy Schossau’s leadership at Metro City Church has created a place that is governed by the precepts and principles of God’s word and is compelled by the love of God. The workshop offered by Metro City Church and FORGE Ministries was created to answer difficult and sensitive questions on identity and sexuality from a biblical perspective. Metro City is putting love into action by offering a safe place for teenage girls struggling with sexual identity issues from a biblical perspective not a personal opinion. For elected officials to call for an investigation into matters of the church is a gross violation of the First Amendment and government overreach.”

We’re seeing that the church is increasingly under attack. These petitions condemn this type of overreach by legislators Rep. Camilleri and Rep. Zemke who demanded a government investigation into Metro City Church. We encourage bold spiritual leaders like Pastor Jeremy Schossau to continue to stand by the truth of God’s word and speak it in love. This type of speech should always be protected by our government, not regulated,” concluded Wilson.

Click here to read the full petition.

Even in Retirement, Air Force Veterans Continue Their Fight for Freedom

by Worth Loving

April 11, 2018

For over thirty years, Oscar Rodriguez served his country honorably as a Senior Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force. Since 2001, Rodriguez has delivered a speech at over 100 flag-folding civic and military events. The speech makes six mentions of God, mostly near the end:

Our flag is a beacon, recognized around the world to represent freedom during times of peace, or during times of war. This is what we live for. This is what we will fight for, and if necessary to touch the hand of God in her defense, the charge that we accept as Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines is a noble one for there is no heart stronger than that of a volunteer. Let us pray that God will reflect with admiration the willingness of one nation in her attempt to rid the world of tyranny, oppression, and misery. It is this one nation under God that we call, with honor, the United States of America. God Bless our flag. God bless our troops. God bless America.

Rodriguez delivered this speech many times in his official role as a member of the honor guard. In 2005, the Air Force issued an official script that was the only one to be recited at flag-folding ceremonies.

Rodriguez continued to deliver his own flag-folding speech, albeit not in any official capacity. In March 2016, the now-retired Rodriguez was asked by fellow airman Master Sergeant Chuck Roberson to give his flag-folding speech at Roberson’s retirement ceremony.  After learning that he could not prevent Rodriguez from attending, Roberson’s commander, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Sovitsky, told Roberson that Rodriguez could not give the speech as it ran afoul of the codified scripted speech, especially the references to God. However, because Rodriguez was retired from the Air Force and therefore a private citizen, he was entitled to give whatever speech he chose for the ceremony. Even after the disagreements over the speech, Roberson still wanted Rodriguez to give the speech at the retirement ceremony. On April 3, when Rodriguez rose to give the speech at the ceremony, he was forcibly removed by three uniformed Air Force officers. On June 19, 2016, the U.S. Air Force JAG Corps recommended an assault charge be filed against the officers who removed Rodriguez. The next day, Rodriguez’s attorneys at First Liberty sent a letter to the Air Force demanding an apology. On February 1, 2018, the Air Force refused to do so.

On April 3, 2018, two years to the day after the incident occurred, Roberson and Rodriguez are now suing the Air Force, Sovitsky, and the officers who removed Rodriguez. The charges include violations of due process, freedom of speech, free exercise of religion, and unreasonable seizure.

What seemed like a move towards uniformity was actually a veiled attempt to squelch Oscar Rodriguez’s freedom of speech. There is so much more at stake in this case than simply a formal apology from the Air Force; the First Amendment rights of every member of the U.S. military are in jeopardy. In 2016, 44,365 of you signed a petition in support of Senior Master Sergeant Oscar Rodriguez (Ret.) and Master Sergeant Charles Roberson, demanding that Colonel Raymond A. Kozak, commander of the 349th Air Mobility Wing, issue a formal apology on behalf of the Air Force. Now, we must continue to pressure the Air Force to acknowledge that they violated the First Amendment rights of Oscar Rodriguez, assaulted him, and disrupted a memorable ceremony for Charles Roberson and his family.

Our forefathers fled the persecution and oppression of western Europe because their freedom to speak and live out their faith had been compromised. Countless men and women have sacrificed life and limb so that everyone—civilian and soldier alike—may enjoy the God-given rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion. That’s why we must continue to stand with Oscar Rodriguez and our friends at First Liberty as they continue fighting for the right of every American to freely express themselves.

Why FRC Action Supports the Graham-Cassidy Legislation Repealing Obamacare

by FRC Action

September 19, 2017

 

Family Research Council Action along with FRC and Susan B. Anthony List (SBA) support the FY17 reconciliation legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.). The Graham-Cassidy legislation would reapply to federal health care law the principle contained in the Hyde Amendment that abortion is not health care and should not be subsidized. It redirects taxpayer funding away from abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood and provides better state-based health insurance solutions for families than Obamacare.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser released the following joint statement in support of the Graham-Cassidy legislation:

We applaud Senators Graham and Cassidy for their leadership and strongly endorse the bill they have crafted. This legislation offers Republicans the best chance to fulfill their promises to repeal and replace Obamacare, stop taxpayer funding of abortion, and redirect tax dollars away from the nation’s largest abortion business, Planned Parenthood, to comprehensive health care alternatives.

It is now well past time for Republicans in Congress to deliver on those promises. The Graham-Cassidy bill offers them the best chance to do that, with only 51 votes needed in the Senate to pass it before the September 30 deadline. The prior Congress passed legislation to repeal Obamacare and fund alternatives instead of Planned Parenthood that would have become law had it not been vetoed by President Obama, and now they have a commitment from President Trump to sign it. The pro-life majority controls both chambers of Congress and the White House. The GOP is without excuse. We urge them to keep their promise and repeal Obamacare and end the forced partnership between taxpayers and Planned Parenthood. Failure to keep their promise to voters will bring into question whether this Congress can truly be called the ‘pro-life Congress.’ Rhetoric must be translated into verifiable action.

Should robust efforts to enact the Graham-Cassidy legislation through the FY2017 Reconciliation bill run out of time, then the fight to redirect funds from Planned Parenthood must move immediately to the FY2018 Tax Reconciliation bill. Planned Parenthood proudly self-reports taking the innocent lives of 328,348 unborn children last year and nearly one million over the past three years. That is 900 lives snuffed out before their first breath every single day by a single taxpayer-funded abortion chain. This tragedy is compounded every day that passes with inaction. The time for results is now. Lives depend on Congress’ leadership and action to enact the Graham-Cassidy bill.”

The Real Nature of Politics

by FRC Action

July 12, 2017

In our first ever FRC Action-hosted policy lecture, we partnered with The Leadership Institute to bring you “The Real Nature of Politics.”

Many committed conservatives tend to believe that being right, in the sense of being correct, is sufficient to win. Unfortunately, political history proves otherwise. If you allow your opposition to organize and communicate better than you do, they will beat you no matter how right you are — and you don’t deserve to win. You owe it to your philosophy to study how to win. You have a moral obligation to learn how to win. In this lecture you will learn the real nature of politics, and study how to win.

The speaker in this presentation, Robert Arnakis, is the Senior Director of Domestic and International Programs for The Leadership Institute, the nation’s premier public policy training organization. Robert oversees divisions which provide political education and training to tens of thousands of activists, elected officials, and political staffers. Robert’s 15 years of grassroots organizing, campaigning, fundraising, and communications experience has established him as one the country’s top political trainers. His background includes serving as campaign staff on presidential, congressional, municipal, and initiative-focused campaigns. Robert’s best campaign memory was assisting U.S. Senator John Thune in defeating Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

 

Do You Have The Freedom To Practice What You Believe?

by Philip Rhein

July 6, 2017

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 Masterpiece Cakeshop 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 Masterpiece Cakeshop 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.

To read about more stories that illustrate this recurring issue, please visit FreetoBelieve.com and view the latest edition of our “Hostility to Religion” report.

 

Top 10 Best Statements from Trump’s Speech at the Celebrate Freedom Rally

by FRC Action

July 3, 2017

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):

  1. 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)
  1. …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)
  1. 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)
  1. 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)
  1. 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)
  1. 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)
  1. 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)
  1. 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)
  1. 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)
  1. 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)

The Religious Litmus Test

by FRC Action

June 26, 2017

 

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.

 

Sign the Petition to Remind Senator Sanders that Faith Is What Our Country Is About!

by Philip Rhein

June 12, 2017

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!

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ICE: Unsung Heroes or Anti-Immigrant?
by Emily Weatherholt (July 11, 2018)

Throughout the years, ICE has created alternatives for detention programs, created apps to help prevent child exploitation on the internet and track children that have been abducted by sex trafficking ...

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