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CWA Files Brief on Important Religious Liberty Case

By | Hawaii, LBB, News and Events, Religious Liberty | No Comments

Aloha Bed & Breakfast v. Cervelli

Phyllis Young operates the “Aloha Bed & Breakfast” out of her home, renting about three rooms to guests in Hawaii. The house is a four-bedroom house that is not sectioned off. Guests are treated as part of the family during their stay.

For these reasons, as a Christian, Phyllis applies the same rules to guests that she would to family members. She does not facilitate sexual relationships outside of marriage as defined by her Christian beliefs. This means that she would not rent one room to unmarried couples or those in a same-sex relationship.

When two women in a same-sex relationship sought to rent a room with her, Phyllis declined, and they filed a complaint with the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission for sexual orientation discrimination.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, representing Phyllis, argued that Hawaii’s public accommodation law, which makes sexual orientation discrimination unlawful, did not apply in this situation because of the nature of the business (renting only three rooms in her primary residence).

The Constitution also protects the free exercise of religion so that Phyllis should have the right not to promote behavior that her faith teaches is immoral. She should be able to conduct her small business in a way that can respect her deeply held religious beliefs.

As we have seen in other cases, the lower courts have ordered Phyllis to violate her Christian beliefs if she wants to make a living. This is a plain violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Americans should be able to operate a business according to their deeply held religious beliefs and without being compelled to endorse a government-approved view that contradicts those.

That is why Concerned Women for Americas has joined a brief asking the United States Supreme Court to take the case and reverse the lower court’s decision penalizing Mrs. Young for refusing to condone that which is contrary to her faith. In it, we argue:

Mrs. Young, the homeowner, acted out of her religious conviction that renting a single room to other than a married husband and wife would engage her in facilitating and endorsing immoral sexual conduct. She not only held a sincere belief to that effect, well buttressed by Biblical teaching, but her action in refusing quarter to the unmarried and same-sex cohabitants was conduct protected by the First Amendment’s prohibition of state interference with her free exercise of religion and with its similar prohibition of interference with her freedom of assembly, which incorporates the right not to associate with those engaging in behavior with which one disagrees.

The brief was filed alongside the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Samaritan’s Purse, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, the National Legal Foundation, and the Pacific Justice Institute sending a strong message to the Court of the importance of the religious liberty interests and concerns at play.

Please continue to pray for this case and the justices as they consider this case in the coming weeks.

Resolution for the Little Sisters of the Poor

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Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a final rule that provided much-needed relief to employers who had religious or moral objections to birth control or certain forms of birth control. After the Affordable Care Act became law, HHS was tasked with interpreting the intentionally vague part of the law that mandated all insurance plans provide essential women’s health services. HHS, not Congress, determined that, among other things, all FDA-approved forms of birth control must be covered in employer insurance plans.

Although there were narrow exceptions to this mandate and several corporations were “grandfathered” in, the Obama Administration failed to respect the conscience rights of religious employers. This bureaucratic overreach forced companies like Hobby Lobby and religious non-profits like the Little Sisters of the Poor to fight for their religious freedom at the Supreme Court. The Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby’s request to provide 16 of the 20 forms of birth control, excluding only abortifacients (birth control that does not simply prevent conception, but prevents implantation of an embryo, therefore resulting in the loss of a unique human life).

The Obama Administration offered several accommodations to the Little Sisters of the Poor, but missed the mark with each one. In May 2017, the Trump Administration issued an interim final rule that provided relief to the Little Sisters. These new final rules are identical to the ones proposed in 2017 and respect the religious and moral objections of employers. This rule does not prevent the government from providing these services to women who want them; it is a necessary correction to the government’s overreach.

Matthew Whitaker steps into U.S. Attorney General position at crucial time

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Washington, D.C. — Last week, Matthew Whitaker was appointed Acting-United States Attorney General following Jeff Sessions’ resignation.

Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America issued the following statement: 

“Matthew Whitaker is an outstanding choice for acting Attorney General. His time serving at the Department of Justice was highlighted by his dedication to expediting the settlements of key Supreme Court cases, including Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and the State of California v. Little Sisters of the Poor. These two cases were deeply important to the hundreds of thousands of members of Concerned Women for America.

“Whitaker is known for being tough on crime and is described as “a lawyer’s lawyer.” This is exactly what the Department of Justice needs. There is a whole host of bipartisan issues that must be tackled by Congress and, with a split House and Senate, now is the perfect time to confront those issues.

“Concerned Women for America has repeatedly called on the DOJ to address the rape kit backlog. I had the honor of testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee this past summer, urging the reauthorization of the Debbie Smith Act with a focus on processing rape kits. The DOJ, especially, should care for victims of rape and sexual assault. CWA asks that Whitaker make good use of his time in this important position.”

For an interview with Penny Nance contact Annabelle Rutledge at [email protected] or 916-792-3973.

For America (Day 97) A Prayer for our Veterans

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Precious Father, praise and honor to Your name.
How thankful we are for freedom and peace!
It is a grace we do not deserve;
It has been paid at the highest price.

We lift up our veterans to you,
The few who have sacrificed for so many.
We pray for their health and well-being;
Be with them in their struggles and pain.

May they never feel alone;
We know their unique scars can lead to isolation.
Help us to remember their affliction and stir us
To act on their behalf.

Help us to give back with whatever we have.
Though it is not enough, united we can truly be
Your hands and feet (as You command) to these
Who reflect Your sacrifice.

We lift up their families —
Wives, husbands, sons, daughters. …
Bless them, for they, too, had to endure
For the love of neighbor, alongside their loved one.

We thank you for our veterans’ example.
Help us live up to their standard
Of honor, excellence, commitment, and sacrifice.
Help us to put others first, as they have.

Lord, we need more men and women like them!
Help us to be engaged
In the work of preserving freedom,
For we know it is never free.

Help us do our part to pass stories
Of their sacrifice to the next generation,
To teach and inspire them to understand
What love, freedom, and liberty entail.

Help the next generation to see
These must live in word and deed;
That faith without works is dead,
So we must strive to live to serve.

Amen.


Click here for more prayers from our For America Prayer Journal.

Mario Diaz, Esq. is CWA’s general counsel. Follow him on Twitter @mariodiazesq

‘Women’ taken out of ‘Violence Against Women Act’

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Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and 176 Democrat members of Congress have sponsored a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that removes the references to women.

“Children, youths, and adults” are replacing the wording “women and children.” What to make of this? Confusion about what gender means now that “male and female” are being removed from the liberal agenda? Acquiescence to an activist, identity politics that seeks to elevate fluid gender perceptions above biological sex? It’s a travesty women would no longer be the focus of the Violence Against Women Act.

The left’s double speak around sexism seems only a matter of convenience. Think about it. Capitol Hill just endured weeks of mob protests crying out for victims of sexual abuse. The #MeToo movement is populated by women victims of sexual assault. Rep. Jackson Lee supposedly made a stand for women when she and her — dare I say female — colleagues from the House stood in protest at the Kavanaugh committee vote. As one of the “Women for Kavanaugh” sitting in front of that group of Congresswomen, I felt the animosity toward any woman not on their side — as if our voices were illegitimate.

Vulnerable women in the halls of the Hart Senate Building were fed extremist views that justice for survivors would be lost and “women would die” if Kavanaugh were on the court. Manipulating the pain of survivors of sexual abuse by inciting such fear is despicable and ultimately hurts women.

The Democrats’ crass tactics actually exploited women. Christine Blasey Ford was the first exploited when her confidential letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) was leaked to the press. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp(D-N.D.) recounted the sexual assaults of “countless North Dakotans and others close to me” in opposing Kavanaugh, then proceeded to release their names without permission in a campaign ad, before apologizing profusely, but the damage had been done.

The strident, uncorroborated slander against now-Justice Kavanaugh which screamed “a vote for Kavanaugh is a vote against women” rings hollow when considering how the liberals take the focus away from the protection of women in VAWA.

Congress must stand for women of sexual assault and domestic abuse, their privacy, safety and rights as victims first. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 43.6 percent of women, nearly 52.2 million, experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime.

Twenty one percent of women experience rape, compared to 2.6 percent of men. For all forms of violence including stalking, 25 percent of women compared to 10 percent of men. Despite decades of programs funded by VAWA and similar laws, the number of women who were raped in America rose by 3 percent between 2010 and 2015 from 18.3 percent to 21.3 percent.

If women become secondary in VAWA to advance a sexual and gender identity political agenda, how can Congress expect to turn around this trend? Before politicizing VAWA, members across the political spectrum agreed on this legislation. They should work again to strengthen the focus on justice and support for women.

First, focus support on women and girls in defining underserved populations. Stop forcing sexual orientation and gender identity language, neither of which have shown to be underserved populations in VAWA programs. These efforts take the focus away from all women.

Second, increase accountability and priority in testing rape kits through the Debbie Smith DNA backlog grant program. It is unconscionable that after fifteen years and one billion dollars spent, the rape kit backlog still hasn’t been eliminated. Every sexual assault kit represents a brave woman waiting for justice.

Third, increase penalties for and education around the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). Believe it or not, FGM is practiced in the US today on the most vulnerable of our population: little girls.

Fourth, treat nondiscrimination a matter of civil rights for all women, not special rights for some. Including sexual orientation and gender identity terms are unnecessary to provide effective and non-discriminatory legal protection and support services to female victims of violence. Such expansion often leads to violations of the rights, privacy and safety of women.

Under current law, women who have sought refuge in a shelter to escape male abusers can be forced to live in quarters with a man who identifies as a woman. Under VAWA’s nondiscrimination provision women could not seek protection or privacy from these individuals. It’s not right that their safety and privacy is compromised.

Finally, ensure all support organizations that serve victims of abuse can participate fully, including faith-based service providers who compassionately and effectively serve victims of violence and human trafficking. No person or organization should be targeted or excluded based on sincerely held religious beliefs.

These are some of the changes that would increase women’s safety and make VAWA more effective. In short, make women the priority again.

Doreen Denny is the senior director of government relations at Concerned Women for America.


A version of this article was published by The Hill

National Adoption Awareness Month: A Chance at Life

By | Blog, News and Events, Sanctity of Life | No Comments

It was the summer of 1952. The Olympics were in full swing, and I was a newly minted high school graduate. I was also 17 and about a month-and-a-half pregnant.

Neither my mother, nor my boyfriend found out until after graduation, and they didn’t seem too interested in helping me decide what to do. In fact, my mother chose to wash her hands of the entire situation and provided me nothing by way of help or comfort. We weren’t a Christian family at that time, so I didn’t even have a church family I could go to for help.

What I did have, though, was an uncle who worked hard to help me. Uncle Dick was 13 years older than me and seemed more like an older brother than an uncle. When my mother told him about my situation, he found the solution. To this day, I do not know how he found it, but near where I lived in the Chicago area, Uncle Dick came across the Florence Crittenton Home for Unwed Mothers, and I moved in immediately.

Uncle Dick also found me a position with Kemper Insurance Company, so I could earn money to help contribute to the “home.” His plan was to help me through the pregnancy as best he could. If I had come home to small-town Evanston with a child and no husband, I would have been treated like a leper. So, Uncle Dick thought the best thing to do was to give the baby up for adoption. (That the suggestion of an abortion never came up — and yes, they were being done back then — is something I definitely consider a blessing.)

He contacted an adoption agency for me — Catholic Charities, if memory serves — and I knew that when I gave birth, the baby would be turned over to them. And that is exactly what happened. On February 3, 1953, I gave birth to a healthy baby girl. I had hoped to hold her before she was given to Catholic Charities, and they even offered. For some reason, though, they never brought her in to me.

In the end, I never got to see her face; I never got to feel her warmth in my arms. I never got to hear her laugh or cry. My daughter was just … gone. I knew then that this loss would haunt me for years to come. Even now, recalling that moment, I am brought to tears.

But those tears were for me. God honored my decision, and my daughter was given to a wealthy couple who were able to love her and give her a good upbringing.

Fifty-three years would pass before God showed me His hand on this situation.

Twelve years ago, after the passing of my second husband, I began to look for my daughter. I wound up visiting only one website that had anything to do with adopted children, and I entered my personal information. Not long after that, I was contacted by Nick, a man who thought that I might be his mother. Why? Because my last name matched that of his birth mother who had given him up for adoption on Christmas Eve in 1946.

We discovered that I could not have been his mother, because I would’ve only been 12 years of age at the time he was born. However, when we started connecting notes, I began to have a very strange feeling about it, as if God had orchestrated this entire thing and connected me with this young man through my search for my daughter. I began to understand that the woman listed on his birth certificate was also my mother. I sent him my graduation photo, and he immediately sent his graduation picture back to me right next to mine. I could definitely see the resemblance. Two of my four brothers joined Nick and me in taking a DNA test. The results were positive that we were related through the maternal side of my family.

Since Nick had already started this process, he was able to give me pointers. He said that contacting the health department for the state of Illinois was the best way to connect with my daughter. Best of all, I could do it online.

Days later, the office called me to verify the birth date. I was unable to give them that, as all the papers relating to her birth and my stay at the Florence Crittenton Home were destroyed during my first marriage. Having no written documents, I could only give them an estimate.

Apparently, that was enough. Within a couple of weeks, I held a letter in my hands that left me breathless. Not only had they located my daughter, they had included her personal information; she had been searching for me as well! Now the question was, “Why?” I hesitated to contact her for fear that, rather than wanting to connect, she might only need my medical history information.

A few days later, the phone rang, and that question was answered. The voice on the other end said, “Hello Mom! This is your daughter, Betsy, and I want to thank you for giving me a chance at life.” I nearly dropped the telephone! Within a week, I was able to connect with my daughter and her husband during a trip to Las Vegas.

The rest, as they say, is history. Betsy and her family have been in my life ever since.

Do I support adoption? I certainly do — but not just for situations like mine; I support adoption for anyone who finds themselves pregnant with a child they do not want or cannot keep. If the birth mother is willing to be a part of the process, all the better for her. Mothers should be able to choose an agency that makes them the most comfortable, and people of faith should have the opportunity to work with an agency that shares their beliefs.

Beyond consenting to give up my daughter, I was not involved in her adoption. I never got to hold her, and for 53 years it left a hole in my heart. Now that hole is filled with love. To those women considering abortion, I urge you to choose adoption instead. Giving up your child — either through adoption or abortion — will leave a similar hole in your heart, but with abortion, it’s a hole that you have no hope in filling during this lifetime.

Please give them a chance at life. You won’t regret it.

Barbara J. Ferraro, State Director, Concerned Women for America of Hawaii

Women and The Kavanaugh Effect

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Forget about a blue or red wave. What we saw in the Senate races last night was the Kavanaugh Effect. After the fundamentally unjust treatment of now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh in his nomination to the Supreme Court, most Americans have sent a clear signal through the midterms that this sort of abuse of power will not be tolerated. And conservative women led that effort.

As of this writing, three Democrat incumbents have lost their Senate seat: Claire McCaskill in Missouri, Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, and Joe Donnelly in Indiana. Each loss is directly related to their Kavanaugh “no” vote.

We know this because Concerned Women for America (CWA) state leaders in all three states led efforts to get them to do the right thing and warned them of the importance of their vote for conservative women.

In an August 7, Kansas City Star op-ed Bev Ehlen, CWA of Missouri state director, wrote:

Concerned Women for America of Missouri, the organization I lead, was proud to stand with Gorsuch, and we were terribly disappointed that Sen. Claire McCaskill decided to stand against him. … The good news is that McCaskill will get a second chance to do right by Missourians with the recent retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Will she listen to Missouri, or will she continue to do what her party in Washington dictates? If she listens to Missouri, she will vote for Judge Brett Kavanaugh. …

Bev was one of CWA’s most active leaders during the Kavanaugh nomination and throughout the elections. CWA Legislative Action Committee’s (CWALAC) “Women for Kavanaugh” bus tour visited the state and ran billboards. CWA of Missouri members contacted McCaskill’s office all throughout the nomination, and Bev even came for the hearings and visited the senator’s Washington, D.C., office. McCaskill did not heed the call of conservative women. She voted to oppose Justice Kavanaugh, and conservative women held her accountable. She lost her re-election bid.

The same script played out in North Dakota. As Real Clear Politics highlighted, CWA of North Dakota state director Linda Thorson delivered a similar message to both of her senators, emphasizing how vital it was for Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s reelection bid. She said, “They should reject political partisanship once again and vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, especially, who is in a toss-up fight against Rep. Kevin Cramer, would benefit from rejecting the political machinations of her party’s leadership in Washington and stand with the people of North Dakota.”

North Dakota was, once again, an energetic stop in CWALAC’s “Women for Kavanaugh” bus tour. CWA of North Dakota members called and wrote emails asking Sen. Heitkamp to do the right thing and vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh. She did not. And she is now the former senator from North Dakota.

In Indiana, NPR told the story after joining our bus tour in Indianapolis:

On a sunny afternoon last week in Indianapolis, a bus bearing a giant picture of Kavanaugh’s face pulled up in front of the state Capitol. After climbing off the bus, Janae Stracke, national field director with Concerned Women for America, told local activists she wants them to put pressure on Donnelly to support Kavanaugh, whom she calls “the next great justice.”…

Concerned Women for America is working with local activists like Susie Moore, a volunteer who is asking friends and neighbors to call or write Donnelly’s office and ask him to vote in favor of Kavanaugh. Moore said she’s opposed to abortion rights and concerned about what she sees as an erosion of religious freedom. She said the well-being of “future generations” is at stake in this fight.

But Sen. Joe Donnelly lost, so you know he did not listen to the voice of conservative women.

That is not all. Former Republican Governor Rick Scott in Florida is also set to take out incumbent Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson, who also voted against Justice Kavanaugh, ignoring the voice of thousands of conservative women who called for an end to the mob mentality that was destroying an honest man’s reputation without due process. CWA of Florida state director Terri Johannessen noted how the energy among conservative women increased exponentially following the Kavanaugh hearings.

Scott, on the other hand, capitalized on the opportunity, saying, “Judge Kavanaugh has been a fair and brilliant judge, one of our nation’s very best. He should be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.” The margin was small, which is why there will be a recount (as mandated by state law), but all indications are that Nelson also will lose his re-election bid to the Kavanaugh Effect.

One Democrat incumbent did listen to the voice of conservative women asking him to stand up to the mob mentality that was plaguing the Senate during the Kavanaugh hearings. His name is Sen. Joe Manchin from West Virginia – “coincidentally” another stop for the Women for Kavanaugh Bus Tour.

He voted to confirm Judge Kavanaugh. He won.

Mario Diaz, Esq. is CWA’s general counsel. Follow him on Twitter @mariodiazesq.

Midterms Prove Kavanaugh Vote Key to Senate Gains

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Washington, D.C. — Last night wrapped up the 2018 midterm elections. Results continue to roll in, with important races still to be determined.

Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America, issued the following statement: 

“There are many takeaways from last night’s election, but looming large among them is the reality that the circus that was Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation was a reckoning for U.S. senators. The conservative women behind CWA’s Women for Kavanaugh campaign were largely responsible for the demise of Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota), Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), and Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana).

“Meanwhile, Sen. Manchin (D-West Virginia), the only Democrat to vote in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation, held his seat. The message is clear. The voters rejected the mob mentality that tried to destroy an honorable man in the name of political power. This is good news for our political discourse going forward.

“Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives, but this was expected, given the historical precedent of mid-term elections. Concerned Women for America asks them to use this power responsibly and in the best interest of this great nation.”

At the end of the day, we can all be proud of the fact that early numbers show voter turnout exceeded previous midterms by a significant amount, with women making up 52% of voters. Americans showed up to exercise what Ronald Reagan rightly called the ‘crown jewel of American liberties.'”

 


For an interview with Penny Nance, contact Annabelle Rutledge at [email protected] or 916-792-3973.

Election Night Recap: Judges, Judges, Judges

By | LBB, News and Events | No Comments

The one thing that doesn’t change one bit after the tonight’s election results is that the great work that President Donald J. Trump is doing to confirm constitutional judges at every level of the federal courts will continue for the next two years.

This is great news. The foundation that President Trump and the Republican leadership in the Senate, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), are building will pay dividends for our Republic for many years, even decades after the President is out of office.

President Trump broke the record for appellate judges confirmed in the first two years of the presidency with 29. He also confirmed 53 district level judges and, of course, two excellent Supreme Court Justices.

The new senate will elect new leadership, which might mean a new Chairman in the Senate Judiciary Committee. If Sen. Grassley decides to step down from that role (I certainly hope he doesn’t!), the post is expected to go to Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina) who was one of the big heroes in defense of Justice Kavanaugh, so we can expect the same type of commitment to the confirmation of judges going forward.

It is worth noticing that the Kavanaugh effect was also palpable tonight.  Some of the biggest surprises of the night were losses directly related to the injustice committed against now Justice Brett Kavanaugh.  Both Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana) and Heidi Hietkamp (D-North Dakota) voted against Justice Kavanaugh, ignoring the majority of people in their state who wanted them to support due process, instead of succumbing to the radicals calling for a presumption of guilt. They paid a heavy price.

As of this writing, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), who also voted against Kavanaugh, is also in trouble, although the race is too close to call at the moment.

On the other hand, Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin (West Virginia) who ultimately voted to confirm Kavanaugh, despite of the pressure radical liberals inflicted on him, won big.

The message is clear. The voters rejected the mob mentality that tried to destroy an honorable man in the name of political power.

This is very good news for our political discourse going forward.

On the other hand, the Democrats are expected to regain control of the House of Representatives, as of this writing (10:53pm). This was expected, given the historical precedent of mid-term elections.

They will be pushed, no doubt, by the radical left to spend considerable time on an agenda to investigate and derail President Trump. We must be prepared to stand up against such an approach. And insist that they attend instead to the people’s business.

Mario Diaz, Esq. is CWA’s general counsel. Follow him on Twitter @mariodiazesq.

Election Day

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What does this day mean
For those who trust in You anyway?
The year is twenty eighteen
Still, You are King as yesterday.

Tomorrow too shall fall in line;
The world’s ideas will, in the end, collapse.
But those who remain in You, the Vine
Know no, “what if,” “maybe” or “perhaps”.

We enter confidently the booth.
They never lose who trust in You–
The Door, the Way, the Light, the Truth.
Blessed is He who makes all things new.

For we were once lost, bitter and afraid;
Looked for our identity in politics.
Yet, none of it our hearts persuade
Until we faced that blessed crucifix.

A lovely passion then springs forth,
A love for God and neighbor.
We know ourselves, we know our North,
Chains broken, we freely labor.

To spread the Good News of the Savior,
His life, His death, His resurrection to promote
With every word blurt out and our behavior–
Whether we eat, write, work, and yes, vote.

That is what this day is all about.
Another opportunity to preserve
The wisdom some try to blot out,
But we are committed to conserve.

To the glory of the One true God
Who created all that’s seen and not
Who comforts us with staff and rod,
Our sinful lives with His Son’s bought.

Mario Diaz, Esq. is CWA’s general counsel. Follow him on Twitter @mariodiazesq.