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Religious Liberty

The Deafening Silence of the Mainstream Media

By | Blog, News and Events, Religious Liberty | No Comments

The press is of vital importance to Western civilization. It is a powerful tool because of its ability to bring attention to any situation.  Thomas Jefferson said, “The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure.” Read More

Rise of the Totalitarian Atheistic State

By | Georgia, Legal, News and Events, Religious Liberty | No Comments

walshThere is a bonus scene at the end of the movie “God’s Not Dead 2,” that seemed comical to many because it is so far-fetched. A pastor is, very peacefully and matter-of-factly, arrested for refusing to hand over his sermons to the state.

Two police officers hand cuff him and read him his Miranda rights. “Sorry about this pastor,” one of the officers says, as they put him in the backseat of their patrol car and drive the willing law breaker away.

His two Christian friends Mark and Rev. Jude are left behind. Mark says, “What do we do now?” To which the Rev. Jude responds: “Same as always Mark. We pray … in faith.”

But the scene is not at all far-fetched.

The state of Georgia recently tried to compel, under the threat of law, Dr. Eric Walsh, a Seventh-day Adventist lay minister, to “produce a copy of [his] sermon notes and/or transcripts.”
Read the rest of this column as featured on Barbwire.com.

Georgia “Gestapo” Combing Through Pastor’s Sermons

By | Georgia, News and Events, Religious Liberty | No Comments

CWALAC_MediaStatementAtlanta, GA – The State of Georgia has served a “Request for Production of Documents” to pastor and former Georgia District Health Director Dr. Eric Walsh, requiring him to surrender copies of his sermons under threat of law. First Liberty Institute is representing him against this violation of his First Amendment rights.

Penny Nance, CEO & President of Concerned Women for America (CWA), the largest public policy organization for women in the country, issued this warning:

The words of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” still reverberate today – especially as we witness the “Gestapo-like” tactics of his native state. The state of Georgia’s blatant attack on religious freedom, as they discriminate against another pastor, Dr. Eric Walsh, is indeed a threat to every American, whatever our religious beliefs.

Can there be a clearer violation of our First Amendment right to religious freedom than for the state to monitor, examine, and retaliate against a person because of the sermons they share?

Let it be clear that the hundreds of thousands of members of Concerned Women for America are committed to stand squarely against this invidious discrimination and will do everything in our power to fight this injustice and intolerance with all the resources at our disposal.

CWA of Georgia State Director Tanya Ditty had this to say:

The time to speak up is now. The state’s actions in this case do not happen in a vacuum; they are, unfortunately, part of a troubling pattern that is very dangerous.

Georgia is better than this. Here is an issue that is beyond political affiliation. We all know that no one should be fired from their job over their religious beliefs or over something they said in their church.

Can anyone seriously defend the state’s intrusion into sermon writing?

The state’s actions in this case are reminiscent of the sort of “monitoring” the great German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer experienced in his time. CWA of Georgia demands an immediate end to this type of anti-religious bigotry on the part of state authorities.

 

For an interview with Penny Nance contact Janae Stracke at jstracke@cwfa.org or 712-269-1724.

Conscience Rights are Women’s Rights: Stop the Bullying of Nuns and Other Religious Groups

By | News and Events, Press Releases, Religious Liberty | No Comments

Washington, D.C. -Statement by Janae Stracke, Communications Coordinator of Concerned Women for America, at the United States Supreme Court on the day of oral arguments in Zubik v. Burwell in favor of Religious Liberty

CWALAC_MediaStatement

“I want to thank you all for being here on this important day to ask the United States Supreme Court to stop the government’s bullying of religious groups.

“I am here representing the half-a-million members of Concerned Women for America (CWA) from all over the country. These are women who stand squarely against the government’s assault of conscience in this case.

“One of the most insidious things about the government’s argument today is that it purports to act on behalf of “women.” Well, they do not act on my behalf and certainly not on behalf of the women of the Little Sisters of the Poor!

“You see, we women are not a monolithic group of people placing similar values in all areas of life; this includes faith and reproductive rights. But regardless, we should all be treated equally, with respect and dignity.

“The government’s ridiculous and unnecessary insistence that the nuns of the Little Sisters of the Poor and other similarly situated groups give their approval through the government’s accommodation scheme to use the Little Sisters of the Poor’s health plan to provide abortifacients, which is in direct violation of their conscience, is most definitely not treating them with respect.

“The government knows this because it has already exempted churches without requiring their consent. But apparently taking vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and hospitality, in order to serve the Lord and their neighbors is not religious enough to warrant a similar exemption. It wasn’t enough for the Little Sisters of the Poor.

“It is simply ridiculous. And so unnecessary.

“The most important thing for the Justices to remember today (and I hope they hear it over and over in oral arguments) is that there are numerous least restrictive means to accomplish the government’s objectives here.

“Their petty insistence on forcing the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious groups to conform to their idea of what is acceptable under the tenants of their faith is preposterous. Especially today when the government has set up these exchanges where they can easily provide for the drugs themselves.

“But no, it seems the government wants to flex its regulatory muscles against religious groups, as it has done in many other areas that I won’t mention here (the IRS…).

“The Justices should tell the government to stop the bullying and go use less restrictive means to accomplish its goals.

“Our constitutional rights should not bow down to government convenience. The Justices should tell the government to stop bullying poor nuns and other devout groups.

“Standing for women’s rights should include the right of women to live and work according to their conscience without fear of punishment or harassment from governmental authorities.

“Conscience rights are women’s rights.

“Thank you.”

For an interview please contact Janae Stracke at jstracke@cwfa.org or 712-269-1724.

Obama’s State of the Union: Little Has Changed

By | News and Events, Religious Liberty, Sanctity of Life, Support for Israel | No Comments

weatheredpressealObama has given his very last State of the Union address in his last year as president.  Despite a few moments of bipartisan approval, it revealed the same kind of biased rhetoric, emphatic tone, and distorted policies that we have come to expect of the president.

Regarding the economy, Obama claimed recovery and ignored that the benefits he expanded increased dependency, resulting in crippling debt down the line.  Speaker Ryan is appropriately cynical, explaining that wages aren’t increasing and that the poverty rate is near a generational high — signs of a weak economy, not a recovering one.  The Wall Street Journal reported this week that 93% of U.S. counties haven’t fully recovered from the recession.  Yet Obama says, “All the talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air. Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker.”

By the time he gave the speech, developing events of the previous day had thrown into question his scheduled talking points.  Ten sailors were in the custody of Iran (later released); ISIS killed ten tourists.  The idea that the president has kept America safe is laughable.

Americans feel threatened by the looming possibility of a terrorist attack any day.  Obama is dismissing our concern, saying we are World War III extremists, but his unwillingness to face reality is increasing fears.  He simultaneously admitted this is a “dangerous time” but also claimed that this is not because of “diminished American strength,” refusing to take any responsibility for it.  He took several passes at associating ISIS with Islam in any way, saying we should simply call them what they are “killers and fanatics.” This is an implication of some exaggerated assumption that those who call ISIS radical Islam are somehow against all Muslims.  ISIS continues to commit terrorist attacks and humans rights atrocities around the world.  We cannot think America is somehow immune to them; in fact, we are a target.  Obama praised his efforts with Iran, but his Iran deal funds terrorist groups, endangers our ally Israel, and leaves American hostages behind.  Obama believes he can make a deal with those who are our enemies and cannot be trusted.

Also interesting is the social policy on which Obama didn’t dwell.  He only briefly mentioned “gay marriage.”  In addition to hurting our children, the new cultural and legislative shift has put our fundamental religious liberty in jeopardy by trying to push us beyond toleration into celebration.  He also ignored the Little Sisters of the Poor, who were featured GOP guests.  All they want is for their religious liberty to be left alone by Obama’s healthcare policies.  And Obama also neglected the issue of scandal-ridden Planned Parenthood, probably because the efforts against it are working, stalled now by his veto.  He dared to talk about how terrorists don’t “value human life” when he himself is pro-abortion.

A major theme was that Obama wanted a new politics, more civility. More “basic bonds of trust” and believing our opponents have good motivations:  “Our public life withers when only the most extreme voices get all the attention.”  Much of that is true! But is Obama willing to live by this himself?  Why is he the one constantly shutting down debate, refusing to work with Republicans, and being that extreme voice?  Why did he critique a pandering to special interests and divisions when he constantly panders to and illuminates them?

But conservatives are not intimidated by Obama’s sweet-talking, self-aggrandizement.  Speaking directly after Obama, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) expressed her well-founded concern over the economy, healthcare, civil unrest, and dangerous terrorism, but also laid out hope for an alternative: an economy that truly soars while controlling debt, and a foreign policy that celebrates Israel, not Iran.

Obama says his goal, like ours, is to help America’s future, to keep it prosperous and respected.  But his solutions only make America poorer and weaker by the day.  The fact is he ignored the important social issues of marriage, abortion, and religious freedom.  But as Nikki Haley explained, we have a chance to erase liberal policies and recover the heritage of our nation.  Our true hope in these times rests in God, in praying, in actively doing His will, and in earnestly beseeching Him to still bless America.

Chaney Mullins serves as Special Projects Writer for Concerned Women for America.

This is ISIS

By | Blog, News and Events, Religious Liberty | No Comments

katiekerschnerEditor’s Note: On the anniversary of 9/11, we make good on our promise to “Never Forget.” But we also wish to remain eternally vigilant. We don’t want what happened on September 11, 2001, to ever again happen on our soil. And so, we offer you some thoughts on ISIS, the latest incarnation of evil to rear its ugly head. May the memory of those lost on 9/11 be eternal, and may we remain ever watchful against those who would perpetrate such horrors on us in the future.

Millions of people have been forced to flee their homes in order to avoid living under ISIS rule. Those who aren’t able to flee are captured. Islamic militants sort people like livestock. Men in one group, young women in another, and a third group with children and older women. I was told by a young woman who lived through this that, “they killed all the men, right in front of our eyes. We watched as they killed our fathers and brothers.” This is ISIS.

Women and girls, some as young as eight and nine, are held and used as sex slaves. They are bound, tortured, and raped — over and over and over again. They are sold or traded to different men. Treated as mere pieces of property. They are given as prizes for fighters, or for those who win Quran memorization contests. This is ISIS.

Children are crucified for breaking the Ramadan fast. Humanitarian aid workers are kidnapped, tortured, and killed. Journalists are beheaded. Pilots are burned alive. Mass executions take place for those who refuse to convert to Islam. This is ISIS.

For what purpose? What is the motivation? What is the driving force behind ISIS? The stated goal is to “create a broader Islamic caliphate.” Their goal is to create a ruling force in the world, an Islamic government lead by the leader of Islam.

In May 2015, ISIS took credit for an attack on U.S. soil. By doing this, they brought the fight to America. ISIS made it clear that this was not a one-time attack with the release of this statement:

“We say to the defenders of the cross, the U.S., that future attacks are going to be harsher and worse. The Islamic State soldiers will inflict harm on you with the grace of God. The future is just around the corner.”

This is ISIS.

But who are we?

We, the United States of America, are hated by ISIS. When we see the news clips of what is happening in Iraq and Syria, we tend to forget that the ultimate goal isn’t just to impose Islamic law in the Middle East. The goal is bigger than that. The same people who are daily committing war crimes in the Middle East want to destroy us and our great nation.

ISIS wants to destroy America because of our foundation as a Christian nation. Some might say that the solution is to no longer be a Christian nation — to forsake the foundation on which this nation was built, so that we are no longer known as “defenders of the cross.”

John Adams perfectly stated why that isn’t a valid option when he said, “The safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him …”

America has been blessed in the past, all because of our faith in God. Throughout the years we have served as a shining city on a hill, a beacon of hope to the world. We must renew that vision for America. A vision of faith and of freedom. We must again become a nation that acknowledges God, not just privately in our homes and churches, but publicly.

We must not allow the name of God Almighty to be used to further the ISIS agenda. We must fight against radical Islam. Everything ISIS stands for is contrary to what America stands for, and is contrary to the very nature of God. We must not stand by and allow radical Islam to gain traction — here or anywhere else around the world.

Late one night during my time in Iraq, I was talking with my five-year-old brother via video chat. He asked me a question. He said, “Katie, did you know that life is difficult?” I told him, “Yes, Josh, I know that life is difficult.”

This simple statement by a five-year-old is something that we should all remember. Life is difficult when you stand up for freedom. Life is difficult when you stand for truth and justice. Life is difficult when you stand up for the Biblical principles upon which this great nation was founded. Life is difficult when you stand up against radical Islam, taking a bold stand and showing the rest of the world that America will not stand by in this fight — saying that we will fight not only the physical battle, but also the battle for hearts and minds.

It may be difficult, but it is worth it. Let us not grow weary while doing good, brothers and sisters. Stand up for truth, and stand boldly for justice. Boldly stand and fight, so that this nation becomes, once again, that shining city on a hill and a beacon of hope for the rest of the world. This is the United States of America. “We the people” must stand boldly for our values. If we don’t, we will lose the freedoms that make this country great. It’s already happening; don’t allow it to continue.

Katie Kerschner serves as a Young Women for America president in Lancaster, California.

 

No Christians Allowed: A New Kind of Religious Test for Public Office

By | Blog, News and Events, Religious Liberty | No Comments

For six days, Kim Davis sat in jail because, to put it most simply, it had been found that you can’t be a practicing Christian and serve the public office of county clerk.

But for Kim Davis, and any genuine Christian, Christianity CAN’T be taken entirely out of a job; it is a whole identity. Freedom of religion is not just “freedom to worship” on Sundays, but freedom to live under Christ the King all day every day.  Gays are protected for their beliefs, and Christianity persecuted for theirs.  Gays claim gayness as their whole identity, but won’t let Christians claim Christ as theirs.  There would be a righteous outcry if a gay man was barred from public office or jailed for being gay.  What if there was a government task, like issuing a permit for a Westboro Baptist Church protest, in which the gay official was forced to participate?  This would be grave injustice! Any nation that prioritizes a belief to the point of prosecuting, instead of protecting opposing beliefs, it has fallen far from the ideal of freedom.

The founders were no stranger to religious dispute and the question of the relationship between faith and public office. They disagreed adamantly amongst themselves on many religious questions.  Deep-seated differences between Catholics, Anglicans, Protestants, Quakers, Mennonites and more drove wedges into the founding of the nation that took great tolerance to overcome. To protect the interest of all parties of many religious persuasions, the founders made it unconstitutional to require any certain religious belief of a public official: “… no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” (Article VI, Paragraph 3)

This policy was intended not to make everyone who served in government irreligious, but rather to make all religions welcome in government. The clause’s principle of tolerance for diversity of belief is a better argument for getting government out of the marriage question entirely (and leaving everyone’s belief to themselves), which is exactly what this clerk has chosen to do, then it is to force her to do something against her religion.  The idea that Kim can’t be a Christian to do her job amounts to nothing less than a twisted type of religious test that ensures that Christianity isn’t present.

Testing to see if you don’t have cancer is a cancer test.

Testing to see if water doesn’t have chemicals is a chemical test.

Testing for the lack of something is the same process as testing for it.

Testing to ensure you aren’t going to follow your religion in public office is a religious test.

The policy meant that the lack or presence of any religion should not be the determining factor of public office, but has been ignored on both extremes. In times past, it was atheists who fought for their rights to serve in public office because of the promise of no religious test.  In the Supreme Court case Torcaso V. Watkins, public notary Roy Torcaso of Maryland won his appeal to the Supreme Court that his atheism could not preclude him from public office. Now America faces the other extreme.  Now it is Christians who must fight for their rights to serve in public office even though they remain religious.

Compromise would be easy, but it wouldn’t accomplish what the gay couples want.  They want our thundering applause, which we will not grant.  Neither these gay couples nor our government have the authority to test our faith and to limit our freedoms.  Instead we will face the ultimate test of answering to God for our faithfulness, and “We must obey God, rather than man.” (Acts 5:29)  Kim’s decision to do just that is what got her thrown into jail.  It’s almost like we are in ancient Rome and not America.