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The law as it relates to Christians and their free exercise of religion

Westminster Theological Seminary President: Christians Need to Stand Up in Public Square, Politics to ‘Reclaim Judeo-Christian Heritage’

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on March 1, 2015

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Speaking at Westminster Theological Seminary’s second-ever “Real State of the Union” conference last Saturday, three Christian scholars stressed to attendees that it is time for Christians to faithfully stand up in the public square and reclaim America’s Judeo-Christian heritage from what has become a prominently secular society.

“I am calling on all believers to have a recommitment to the truth of Christ to speak the truth and love, to be who we are and to engage in justice by being committed to justice and seeing to it by speaking in the public square,” Westminster Theological Seminary President Peter Lillback said. “We are not forcing ourselves into a place that we don’t belong. This public square was created by this Judeo-Christian heritage that we are speaking about.”

Lillback set the tone for the day-long conference, which was held at First Presbyterian Church in Bonita Springs, Florida, with an event-opening speech providing a rundown of how America has transformed from a country that was discovered and founded on Christian values to a society that now largely mocks and ridicules Christians who act in accordance to their religious beliefs.

“We are now in a day that was much like what first century Christians faced in a pluralistic world that was antagonistic to their Christian values,” Lillback told The Christian Post. “We aren’t even beginning to pay the price that our forefathers did for their faith.”

“Yes, we will be persecuted. Yes, we will be criticized. Yes, we will be assaulted. But Jesus said, ‘Be glad and rejoice for that is what they did to the prophets before you,'” Lillback continued.

Providing an example of how the government is now treats Christians and their faith, Lillback highlighted the military chaplain who was “condemned” in December for talking about his faith during a suicide prevention class.

Lillback explained that although many secularists today claim that religion has no role in government or the public sector, America’s Founding Fathers actually intended for the country to be one where politicians and public officials are free to make decisions based on their faith.

Lillback points out that the Founding Fathers specifically included four references to God in the Declaration of Independence and opines that they are indications that more trust needs to be put into God when it comes to leading and governing a nation that is supposed to be free of tyranny.

“So its been observed that the four references to God actually reflect the very form of government that the Constitution will eventually create,” Lillback said. “There are lawgivers. God is a giver of law. There are judges. God is the supreme judge. There are executives. God is the executor of his will through providence.”

Lillback added that God is also present in the Constitution, although others might disagree. Things such as the president having the option to take Sundays for sabbath and the president having to swear on the Bible when he takes his oath of office are clear reminders of how the Founding Fathers intended for the light of God to help drive the success of the nation, and protect it from human imperfection.

“Some people have said that the Constitution is a godless constitution, but it’s actually remarkably Christian in many ways,” Lillback asserted. “The most Christian element of all the Constitution is the lack of trust in human nature. All the ways in which there are checks and balances and there are different branches of government and the severance of power. Those are a recognition that man has basically corrupted and he will be even more corrupted when he has power.”

Lillback further explained that Christianity was a crucial part of public education and helped fuel the country’s Judeo-Christian morals up until the 1890s, as half of the boards of public universities were comprised of clergymen.

“When you get to the 1890s with the Holy Trinity case, you get to the highwater mark for Judeo-Christian value structure. But at this point, this is where we begin to see the movement from the very highest levels beginning to de-christianize the Universities,” Lillback said. “They began to push theological and seminary studies out of the universities and replaced it with the study of religions. Over time, it becomes more and more committed, not to deism but ultimately a form of practical atheism to where atheism became the prevailing view of our universities. That begins to take hold in the progressive era in the early 1900s.”

Harry Reeder, senior pastor at Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama, followed Lillback’s historical rundown with his speech on the “downward spiral of the culture.”

Secular viewpoints became dominant in America in the later half of the 20th century and now 21st century pluralistic and post-modern culture has created hostility towards the same morals and values that America was founded on.

Following Reeder’s lecture, Bruce Waltke, a reformed evangelical professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, told the audience that Christians and the church need to be far more active in politics than they currently are.

“[Waltke’s] Impact has been enormous. In studying the Proverbs, he has come to the conclusion that the church ought to be far more involved in the public square and the political activity if we take the teaching of the Proverbs seriously,” Lillback explained. “I think it is quite a statement for a Biblical theologian, because he is moving out of his normal sphere to say, ‘These principles really do matter for what we are doing as a country.'”

Courtesy of http://www.christianpost.com/news/westminster-theological-seminary-president-christians-need-to-stand-up-in-public-square-politics-to-reclaim-judeo-christian-heritage-134789/

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ADF to Colorado Appeals Court: Stop Illegal Funding of Abortion

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on March 1, 2015

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DENVER – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed their opening brief Friday in an appeal of a trial court’s decision that upheld $14 million of taxpayer subsidies to Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood. ADF attorneys represent former Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Jane Norton in the lawsuit, which is now at the Colorado Court of Appeals.

The trial court determined that no “specific abortion service” was proven to be state-funded even though a voter-approved state constitutional provision prohibits direct or indirect public taxpayer subsidies for abortion.

“Colorado bureaucrats should not use taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions, especially when the Colorado Constitution prohibits it,” said ADF Legal Counsel Natalie Decker. “The lower court should not have dismissed this case on a technicality since it agreed that $14 million of taxpayer funds flowed from state government agencies to Planned Parenthood and its abortion affiliate, presumptively in violation of the state constitution.”

In 1984, Colorado voters approved the Abortion Funding Prohibition Amendment and later rejected an initiative to repeal it. The Colorado Department of Public Health audited Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood and its affiliate, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Services Corporation, in 2001 and subsequently ended funding to them after finding that state funds were indirectly subsidizing their abortion operations. State officials later ignored that determination and resumed funding.

“The voters’ primary concern in enacting Colorado’s Abortion Funding Limitation was to establish ‘a public policy for the state of Colorado that public funds are not to be spent for the destruction of prenatal life through abortion procedures,’” explains the ADF brief in Norton v. Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood. “This is a legitimate policy goal as proponents of Colorado’s Abortion Funding Limitation did not want Colorado to lend its ‘imprimatur’ to the ‘direct or indirect’ funding of induced abortions.”

“The people of Colorado resoundingly voted against funding abortion either directly or indirectly,” added Barry Arrington, co-counsel in the case and one of more than 2,500 private attorneys allied with ADF. “We hope the Colorado Court of Appeals reinstates this case and affirms the people’s desire for their government to responsibly use their tax dollars.”

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

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COURT TELLS FLORIST: “TOLERANCE” WILL NOT TOLERATE YOUR RELIGIOUS BELIEF

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on February 26, 2015

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The Washington Attorney General is exerting the weight of his office on a 70-year-old grandmother. Amazingly, that grandmother is still standing. But she could lose everything she owns, all because she is unwilling to abandon her religious convictions and create unique artistic expression that violates her beliefs.

The parties:

Barronelle Stutzman is a mother of eight, a grandmother of 23, and a floral artist. She is the owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts, a corporation founded in 1989 and previously operated by her mother, before Barronelle purchased the company 12 years ago.

Robert Ingersoll was a regular customer of Arlene’s Flowers. During the past nine years, Barronelle estimates she sold flowers to Robert at least 20 times. They also became fast friends; Barronelle says, “[h]e has a very creative mind and we just kind of hit it off.” Barronelle knew that Robert was gay, and some of those floral arrangements were for Robert’s partner, Curt Freed.

Bob Ferguson is the Attorney General of Washington.

The offense:

In early 2013, Robert asked Barronelle if she would use her artistic talents to design floral arrangements for his same-sex wedding ceremony. Because Barronelle follows the Bible’s teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman, she felt obligated to politely decline the invitation. She explains, “as much as I loved Rob, I just couldn’t be a part of that. If I did Rob’s wedding, it would be from my heart because I think he is a really special person and I would want to make it really special for him.”

After communicating her regrets to Robert, Barronelle referred him to several other local florists and the two continued to chat about Robert’s wedding plans. Before he left the store, they embraced. Robert and Curt had no trouble finding another source for flowers; in fact, they received several offers for free flowers.

The charges:

While no formal complaint was filed with the State by the couple, Attorney General Ferguson heard about the matter and filed a lawsuit against Barronelle, accusing her of unlawful discrimination in violation of the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) and Consumer Protection Act (CPA). This was the first time that the Attorney General’s office has sought to single out and punish a private citizen under the CPA.

The ACLU was quick to follow suit, and filed a lawsuit on behalf of Robert and Curt.

Notably, both the ACLU and the Attorney General’s office filed suit not only against Arlene’s Flowers, but against Barronelle personally. Barronelle thus found herself at risk of losing not only her business, but also her home, her entire life savings, and everything she owns.

The ruling:

A Washington state trial court ruled on February 18 that Barronelle had committed unlawful discrimination. Perhaps most appalling is the efficiency with which the court obliterated any possibility that faith could coexist with “tolerance.” Indeed, the court was explicit in its finding that Barronelle’s religious belief could no longer be tolerated: “[Barronelle] cannot comply with both the law and her faith.”

Barronelle’s attorneys plan to appeal.

What the court failed to acknowledge in its conclusion is that aside from the state’s intolerance of her faith, Barronelle is also being asked to create artistic expression that she disagrees with. This too violates the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has held not only that First Amendment protection extends “beyond written or spoken words” but also that the freedom of speech “includes . . . the choice of what not to say.” Hurley v. Irish-Am. Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Grp. of Bos., 515 U.S. 557, 569 (1995); Pac. Gas & Elec. Co. v. Pub. Utils. Comm‘n, 475 U.S. 1, 16 (1986) (citing Miami Herald Publ‘g Co. v. Tornillo, 418 U.S. 241, 258 (1974)).

The punishment:

Unless the appeal is successful, Barronelle faces the loss of everything she owns—her business, her home, her entire life savings, and other personal belongings. All because she made the principled choice to live—and create expression—in a manner consistent with her religious beliefs, a foundational freedom Americans have always enjoyed.

The offer:

On Thursday, February 19, the Attorney General offered to drop his lawsuit if Barronelle would pay $2,001 and agree to give up her religious freedom. (Notably, the ACLU has made no similar offer.)

Not surprisingly, Barronelle quickly rejected the offer. In her letter, she told the Attorney General that “you don’t really understand me or what this conflict is all about. It’s about freedom, not money.” Barronelle added that “I certainly don’t relish the idea of losing my business, my home, and everything else that your lawsuit threatens to take from my family, but my freedom to honor God in doing what I do best is more important.”

The irony:

There are at least three separate ironies to the state and ACLU’s oppression of Barronelle.

First, the law that is being used as a sword against Barronelle exists, ostensibly, to protect Washington’s citizens from unlawful discrimination. Yet the result of this prosecution has been a ruling that Barronelle’s Christian faith—and rights of expression—are incompatible with her private business, and that her religious convictions and expression will not be tolerated. In the meantime, Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed easily obtained flowers from another vendor for their wedding—the court’s ruling notes that Ingersoll and Freed incurred a whopping $7.91 in mileage costs related to their efforts to select an alternative source of flowers.

Barronelle noted the irony of a one-way street of tolerance in her letter, stating, “Our state would be a better place if we respected each other’s differences, and our leaders protected the freedom to have those differences. Since 2012, same-sex couples all over the state have been free to act on their beliefs about marriage, but because I follow the Bible’s teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, I am no longer free to act on my beliefs.”

Second, not only is Barronelle being sued by a friend she had served for nearly a decade, Arlene’s Flowers has served—and employed—gays for years. Yet even in the midst of this lawsuit, and while facing the loss of everything she owns, Barronelle continues to proclaim her care and concern for Robert Ingersoll, stating “I kindly served Rob for nearly a decade and would gladly continue to do so. I truly want the best for my friend.”

Third, it seems that some of the very individuals the Attorney General purports to be protecting by his dogged prosecution of Barronelle may in fact oppose his efforts to do so.

Barronelle also says she has received many cards, emails, and calls from those who identify as homosexual and support her right of free expression and religious freedom.

The conclusion:

Just two days ago, Secretary of State John Kerry referred to the administration’s efforts to “reaffirm the universal human rights of all persons.” He stated that “[d]efending and promoting the human rights of LGBT persons is at the core of our commitment to advancing human rights globally – the heart and conscience of our diplomacy.” Nowhere, however, did Secretary Kerry reference religious liberty, or the plight of individuals like Barronelle.

Just last week I blogged about former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, who was fired because he dared to express his Christian faith. Elaine Huguenin of Elane Photography in New Mexico, Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, and Brendan Eich, founder and former CEO of Mozilla Corporation, have also faced serious repercussions for exercising their freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, and/or free exercise of religion. And there are countless others.

Religious freedom, freedom of expression, and freedom of conscience can no longer be assumed. Thankfully, people like Barronelle seem determined to make sure it doesn’t fade away with a whimper.

Courtesy of http://bowlingwithed.com/2015/02/26/court-tells-florist-tolerance-will-not-tolerate-your-religious-belief/

Posted in Attack on Christianity, Faith Issues in Our Times, Hot Legal News, Religious Freedom, Tim's Blog | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

City of Houston demands pastors turn over sermons

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on October 15, 2014

Annise-ParkerThe city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court.

“The city’s subpoena of sermons and other pastoral communications is both needless and unprecedented,” Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Christina Holcomb said in a statement. “The city council and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions.”

ADF, a nationally-known law firm specializing in religious liberty cases, is representing five Houston pastors. They filed a motion in Harris County court to stop the subpoenas arguing they are “overbroad, unduly burdensome, harassing, and vexatious.”

“Political and social commentary is not a crime,” Holcomb said. “It is protected by the First Amendment.”

The subpoenas are just the latest twist in an ongoing saga over the Houston’s new non-discrimination ordinance. The law, among other things, would allow men to use the ladies room and vice versa. The city council approved the law in June.

The Houston Chronicle reported opponents of the ordinance launched a petition drive that generated more than 50,000 signatures – far more than the 17,269 needed to put a referendum on the ballot.

However, the city threw out the petition in August over alleged irregularities.

After opponents of the bathroom bill filed a lawsuit the city’s attorneys responded by issuing the subpoenas against the pastors.

The pastors were not part of the lawsuit. However, they were part of a coalition of some 400 Houston-area churches that opposed the ordinance. The churches represent a number of faith groups – from Southern Baptist to non-denominational.

“City council members are supposed to be public servants, not ‘Big Brother’ overlords who will tolerate no dissent or challenge,” said ADF attorney Erik Stanley. “This is designed to intimidate pastors.”

Mayor Parker will not explain why she wants to inspect the sermons. I contacted City Hall for a comment and received a terse reply from the mayor’s director of communications.

“We don’t comment on litigation,” said Janice Evans.

However, ADF attorney Stanley suspects the mayor wants to publicly shame the ministers. He said he anticipates they will hold up their sermons for public scrutiny. In other words – the city is rummaging for evidence to “out” the pastors as anti-gay bigots.

Among those slapped with a subpoena is Steve Riggle, the senior pastor of Grace Community Church. He was ordered to produce all speeches and sermons related to Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality and gender identity.

The mega-church pastor was also ordered to hand over “all communications with members of your congregation” regarding the non-discrimination law.

“This is an attempt to chill pastors from speaking to the cultural issues of the day,” Riggle told me. “The mayor would like to silence our voice. She’s a bully.”

Rev. Dave Welch, executive director of the Texas Pastor Council, also received a subpoena. He said he will not be intimidated by the mayor.

“We’re not afraid of this bully,” he said. “We’re not intimidated at all.”

He accused the city of violating the law with the subpoenas and vowed to stand firm in the faith.

“We are not going to yield our First Amendment rights,” Welch told me. ‘This is absolutely a complete abuse of authority.”

Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, said pastors around the nation should rally around the Houston ministers.

“The state is breaching the wall of separation between church and state,” Perkins told me. ‘Pastors need to step forward and challenge this across the country. I’d like to see literally thousands of pastors after they read this story begin to challenge government authorities – to dare them to come into their churches and demand their sermons.”

Perkins called the actions by Houston’s mayor “obscene” and said they “should not be tolerated.”

“This is a shot across the bow of the church,” he said.

This is the moment I wrote about in my book, “God Less America.” I predicted that the government would one day try to silence American pastors. I warned that under the guise of “tolerance and diversity” elected officials would attempt to deconstruct religious liberty.

Sadly, that day arrived sooner than even I expected.

Tony Perkins is absolutely right. Now is the time for pastors and people of faith to take a stand. We must rise up and reject this despicable strong-arm attack on religious liberty. We cannot allow ministers to be intimidated by government thugs.

The pastors I spoke to tell me they will not comply with the subpoena – putting them at risk for a “fine or confinement, or both.”

Heaven forbid that should happen. But if it does, Christians across America should be willing to descend en masse upon Houston and join these brave men of God behind bars.

Pastor Welch compared the culture war skirmish to the 1836 Battle of San Jacinto, fought in present-day Harris County, Texas. It was a decisive battle of the Texas Revolution.

“This is the San Jacinto moment for traditional family,” Welch told me. “This is the place where we stop the LGBT assault on the freedom to practice our faith.”

We can no longer remain silent. We must stand together – because one day – the government might come for your pastor.

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University of South Alabama Restricts Freedom of Speech

Posted by faithandthelaw on August 25, 2014

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MOBILE, Ala. — Alliance Defending Freedom filed an amended complaint Friday in a pro-life student organization’s lawsuit against the University of South Alabama.

The university relegated the group’s pro-life display to a small speech zone on campus because it deemed the nature of the event “controversial.” Under the university’s policies, students must also obtain a permit 72 hours in advance in order to use the speech zone.

“Universities are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Hacker. “Free speech should not be censored or limited to a ridiculously small area on campus, nor should students need permission to exercise their constitutionally protected freedom of speech. The First Amendment protects speech for all students in the outdoor areas of campus, regardless of their religious or political beliefs.”

Last October, Students for Life USA requested permission to a hold a “Cemetery of the Innocents” event, which consists of students placing small crosses in the ground to represent the innocent lives lost to abortion. University officials denied the request and said it would need to be held in the campus’s speech zone, even though other groups have exercised free speech on other portions of the campus. At the time, the speech zone was restricted to the Student Center, which was less than one percent of the college’s main campus. Although the university has since expanded its speech zone, it still restricts speech throughout the campus.

The lawsuit, Students for Life USA v. Waldrop, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, explains that the university’s speech policy violates the First Amendment and gives university officials “unbridled discretionary power to limit student speech in advance of such expression on campus and to do so based on the content and viewpoint of the speech.”

“Free, spontaneous discourse on college campuses is supposed to be a hallmark of higher education rather than the exception to the rule,” added ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “We hope that the University of South Alabama will revise its policy so that its students can exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms.”

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The Greater Need for Spiritual Liberty: Freedom From Every Form of Captivity

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on July 4, 2014

By Tim Rowe

Our country is in desperate need for the spiritual sons and daughters of liberty to once again rise up in the spirit of sacrifice and bravery that this country was founded upon and move forward for God with a relentless passion to bring spiritual liberty to our land. We are called of God to go forth to a dying world and open their eyes, turning them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God and offer them a place of honor among the sanctified.

The clarion call that heralded forth the ministry of Jesus Christ should ring loudly in our soul.

Luke 4:18 (Message Bible)

God’s Spirit is on me; he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, To set the burdened and battered free, to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”

The times are desperate. The times are urgent. The times are perilous. The sons and daughter of liberty must act now and go forth led by their glorious Lord into the valley of human need and set the captive soul free and bring His salvation, power and glory into every town, city and state. We must crush the idols of the heart and shine as lights in the darkness of this world as we hold forth the Word of Life. We all have a sphere of influence that we live in and thus we should begin our work as ambassadors for Christ in our homes, our families, our neighborhood, our jobs, and our communities and then branch out from there.

In the 1760’s, during the years right before the Revolutionary War, a group of brave men formed the Sons of Liberty to resist the unjust actions of the British Empire and move toward independence. They were bold in the face of impossible odds and spoke out of a heart that had a deep passion for liberty as a God given right. They were often just ordinary men, but the energy of their conviction gave them a great position of importance in the founding of this country.

Ray Steadman-Spiritual Warfare

God has issued to each of us a bugle call to intelligent combat. It is a call to us to be men and women of God, to fight the good fight, to stand fast in the faith, to be strong in the Lord in the midst of the battle, in the midst of this dark and evil world.Those who ignore this call and the battle that rages around them are doomed to be casualties. We cannot remain neutral. We must choose sides. We must align ourselves with the forces of God, the forces of good. We must answer the bugle call, we must put on our armor and stand our ground or the battle will roll over us and in our defenseless, bewildered state, the forces of evil will trample us into the dust of the battlefield.

It comes as a shock to the new believer that the Christian life is a battleground and not a playground. We are at war.

The truth is that very few Christians grasp the value and necessity of spiritual combat.

“The Lord is a warrior” (Exodus 15:3):

The Lord will go forth like a warrior,

He will arouse His zeal like a man of war.

He will utter a shout, yes, He will raise a war cry.

He will prevail against His enemies. (Isaiah 42:13)

Warrior, hear the Lord’s marching orders for your life: “Prepare a war; rouse the mighty men! Let all the soldiers draw near, let them come up! Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, ‘I am a mighty man’ “(Joel 3:9-10).

We must approach our service as sons and daughters of spiritual liberty and our position on the front lines of battle with great zeal, passion, fervor and excitement. How exciting to be called into the service of our God!

Romans 12:11 (NIV): Never be lacking in zeal. Keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Amplified: Never lag in zeal and earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord.

When 56 brave men stood forth with great passion and committed an act of high treason by signing the Declaration of Independence, they were signing their own death warrant.

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or the hardships of the Revolutionary War.

What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners, men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers or both, looted the properties of Ellery, Clymer, Hall, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

At the Battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis, had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. The owner quietly urged General George Washington to open fire, which was done. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his grist mill were laid waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home after the war to find his wife dead, his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.

Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. There were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: “For the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of the Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

What has the gospel cost you? Has our level of sacrifice for the gospel even come close to the sacrifice of these 56 signers who we celebrate today for without their incredible act of courage, there would be no United States of America.

52 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were devout, committed Christians and the other four believed the Bible to be divine truth and believed in the God of Scripture. Immediately after the Declaration was signed, Continental Congress ordered 20,000 Bible for the people of this nation.

As the 56 signers of Declaration were critical to the founding of the United States of America, we are critical to the healing of our land which is full of idols and whose heart has turned away from God on so many levels.

II Chronicles 7:14 (NIV) if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

We must first call upon God, humble ourselves, turn from all wicked ways or sins in our heart, pray and seek God’s face, then He can move in the great task of healing our land.

I Timothy 2:1-4 (NIV): I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

A spiritual warrior must first establish his heart toward God. Beloved, hear the heart of our Lord beckoning you to union with Him in every corner of your soul This is a commitment that must charge out of our hearts and mouth at the dawn of every new day. Joshua, at the end of his long life of faithful service to God, still renewed this commitment, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). In Nehemiah 12, we read of the walls of Jerusalem being dedicated with gladness and hymns of thanksgiving. The warrior must joyfully dedicate all that he is to all that God is. Before we count ourselves as warriors, let us check our foundation for the marks of true dedication. These marks are gladness, thanksgiving and zeal to follow the Lord of Hosts wherever He may lead.

“WHEN YOU GO OUT TO BATTLE”

DEUTERONOMY 20:1

The Deuteronomy passage is clear. Before we can be warriors for God, we must be established as lovers of God. “So take diligent heed to yourselves to love the Lord your God” (Joshua 23:11). Purpose in your soul right now to draw your heart to God before you draw your sword for Him.

We can sleep when we get to heaven. We should move, push and go forward with great devotion like an athlete to point of agony. That is the commitment required to live as a Christian. When are you going to pull out all the stops and burn for God and the Lord Jesus Christ? When is God going to be your love, your passion, when is he going to be the excitement of your being. When is He going to be your living experience?

Don’t just play it safe your whole life. Look at Matthew 25 and the parable of the talents. Do you think Jesus was trying to tell us something?

Bolt out of every oppressive circumstance and draw strength from your God by desperate prayer and fierce devotion. Don’t be weighed down by yesterday’s failures or tomorrow’s burdens.

So often our heart cries out: I AM NOT THE ONE, THIS IS NOT THE PLACE, NOW IS NOT THE TIME. Yet this is not true, as you are the one, this is the place, now is the time. God needs you desperately on the battlefield. We should take to the heart the words of God uttered by the King David:

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,

My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;

My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. . . .

For by Thee I can run upon a troop;

And by my God I can leap over a wall…. He trains my hands for battle,

So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze…. I pursued my enemies and overtook them,

And I did not turn back until they were consumed.

I shattered them, so that they were not able to rise; They fell under my feet.

For thou hast girded me with strength for battle;

Thou hast subdued under me those who rose up against me.

(Psalm 18:2, 29, 34, 37-39)

This July Fourth let’s take more to heart then simply fireworks, food, and time off of work. Our heart and soul should take strong note of the words of a son of liberty and patriot at one of the most trying times at the dawning of America. Imagine these words bursting forth from the pulpit at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia on March 23, 1775.

They tell us, sir, that we are weak — unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?

Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of the means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.

The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable — and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come!

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, “Peace! Peace!” — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!

Patrick Henry – March 23, 1775

Posted in National Heritage, Tim's Blog | 1 Comment »

Colleges and Evangelicals Collide on Bias Policy

Posted by faithandthelaw on June 10, 2014

BRUNSWICK, Me. — For 40 years, evangelicals at Bowdoin College have gathered periodically to study the Bible together, to pray and to worship. They are a tiny minority on the liberal arts college campus, but they have been a part of the school’s community, gathering in the chapel, the dining center, the dorms.

After this summer, the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship will no longer be recognized by the college. Already, the college has disabled the electronic key cards of the group’s longtime volunteer advisers.

In a collision between religious freedom and antidiscrimination policies, the student group, and its advisers, have refused to agree to the college’s demand that any student, regardless of his or her religious beliefs, should be able to run for election as a leader of any group, including the Christian association.

Similar conflicts are playing out on a handful of campuses around the country, driven by the universities’ desire to rid their campuses of bias, particularly against gay men and lesbians, but also, in the eyes of evangelicals, fueled by a discomfort in academia with conservative forms of Christianity. The universities have been emboldened to regulate religious groups by a Supreme Court ruling in 2010 that found it was constitutional for a public law school in California to deny recognition to a Christian student group that excluded gays.

Reid Wilson, left, and Zackary Suhr, who have graduated, were part of the group.CreditKatherine Taylor for The New York Times

At Cal State, the nation’s largest university system with nearly 450,000 students on 23 campuses, the chancellor is preparing this summer to withdraw official recognition from evangelical groups that are refusing to pledge not to discriminate on the basis of religion in the selection of their leaders. And at Vanderbilt, more than a dozen groups, most of them evangelical but one of them Catholic, have already lost their official standing over the same issue; one Christian group balked after a university official asked the students to cut the words “personal commitment to Jesus Christ” from their list of qualifications for leadership.

At most universities that have begun requiring religious groups to sign nondiscrimination policies, Jewish, Muslim, Catholic and mainline Protestant groups have agreed, saying they do not discriminate and do not anticipate that the new policies will cause problems. Hillel, the largest Jewish student organization, says some chapters have even elected non-Jews to student boards.

The evangelical groups say they, too, welcome anyone to participate in their activities, including gay men and lesbians, as well as nonbelievers, seekers and adherents of other faiths. But they insist that, in choosing leaders, who often oversee Bible study and prayer services, it is only reasonable that they be allowed to require some basic Christian faith — in most cases, an explicit agreement that Jesus was divine and rose from the dead, and often an implicit expectation that unmarried student leaders, gay or straight, will abstain from sex.

“It would compromise our ability to be who we are as Christians if we can’t hold our leaders to some sort of doctrinal standard,” said Zackary Suhr, 23, who has just graduated from Bowdoin, where he was a leader of the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship.

The consequences for evangelical groups that refuse to agree to the nondiscrimination policies, and therefore lose their official standing, vary by campus. The students can still meet informally on campus, but in most cases their groups lose access to student activity fee money as well as first claim to low-cost or free university spaces for meetings and worship; they also lose access to standard on-campus recruiting tools, such as activities fairs and bulletin boards, and may lose the right to use the universities’ names.

“It’s absurd,” said Alec Hill, the president of InterVarsity, a national association of evangelical student groups, including the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship. “The genius of American culture is that we allow voluntary, self-identified organizations to form, and that’s what our student groups are.”

Some institutions, including the University of Florida, the University of Houston, the University of Minnesota and the University of Texas, have opted to exempt religious groups from nondiscrimination policies, according to the Christian Legal Society. But evangelical groups have lost official status at Tufts University, the State University of New York at Buffalo and Rollins College in Florida, among others, and their advocates are worried that Cal State could be a tipping point.

The Bowdoin group has about 45 people on its mailing list, including 25 regular participants, on a campus of 1,800 students. The group notes that its participants, young people still figuring out where they stand on many subjects, have varying views on issues like same-sex marriage.

Around the country, a number of colleges and universities are asking all student groups to agree they won’t discriminate, on any basis, in the selection of their members or leaders. Evangelical groups are balking, saying they have to be able to demand Christian faith of their leaders.CreditKatherine Taylor for The New York Times

A few weeks ago, the Bowdoin group gathered for a final dinner at the Center for Multicultural and Spiritual Life at the college, thanking not only the graduating seniors, but also Robert and Sim Gregory, who volunteered with Bowdoin for a decade but are no longer recognized as advisers.

The students, who plan to meet informally in the fall and may seek an off-campus site for worship, are bewildered by the turn of events. “We can’t discriminate on religion, and we’re a religious group!” exclaimed Olivia Cannon, 18, a Bowdoin student.

Reid Wilson, 23, a leader of the group who has since graduated, rued the turn of events. “It’s hard socially to find people on this campus who make faith a strong part of their identity — people who really understand me and who I can really be open with,” he said. “This group has been a tremendous resource for me.”

Bowdoin officials say they, too, are disappointed.

“I want them on campus, because it’s a sanctuary for many of our conservative evangelical students — Bowdoin has accepted these students, and they need a place, and they need to have their faith challenged,” said the Rev. Robert Ives, a United Church of Christ minister who is the director ofreligious and spiritual life at Bowdoin. “But every organization has to be open to every student, and every position of leadership has to be open to any individual, without discrimination.”

At Cal State, evangelicals are facing a similar conundrum. “We’re not willing to water down our beliefs in order to be accepted,” said Austin Weatherby, 20, a Cal State Chico student. He sometimes leads Bible study, and said he had to agree that he believes in the Holy Trinity and the Resurrection to do so. “Anyone can join, but if you want to lead a Bible study, you need to believe these things,” he said.

Cal State officials insist that they welcome evangelicals, but want them to agree to the same policies as everyone else. “Lots of evangelical groups are thriving on our campuses,” said Susan Westover, a lawyer for the California State University System. However, she said, there will be no exceptions from the antidiscrimination requirements. “Our mission is education, not exclusivity,” she said.

At Vanderbilt, the decision to push groups to sign antidiscrimination policies was prompted by a Christian fraternity’s expulsion of a member who came out as gay. About one-third of the 35 religious groups on campus have refused to sign and are no longer recognized by the school; they can still meet and recruit informally, and the campus Hillel has even opened its building for meetings of one of the Christian groups.

“I am hopeful for a better future, but I’m not naïve, there are some issues that are irresolvable,” said the Vanderbilt chaplain, the Rev. Mark Forrester, who is a United Methodist minister. “This is a larger social and ethical struggle that we as a society are engaged in.”

Posted in Attack on Christianity, Faith Issues in Our Times, Religious Freedom, Tim's Blog | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Where is the Churchill of our Generation?

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on May 9, 2014

Last week, the British Press reported that fast food giant Subway has removed ham and bacon from 200 outlets, and switched to preparing meat according to halal (Muslim) rules, to please its Muslim customers.  This means that after the butcher shouts “Allah Akbar,” he slaughters the animal by slitting its throat and windpipe causing it to bleed to death.

How would Winston Churchill have reacted to the news?
Winston Churchill referring to Islam, in 1889, wrote, “No stronger retrograde force exists in the world.”  And at the 1921 Cairo Conference, commented:  “They hold it as an article of duty, as well as of faith, to kill all who do not share their opinions and to make slaves of their wives and children … Austere, intolerant, well armed, and bloodthirsty.”

The Ottoman Empire aligned itself with Germany in WWI and declared jihad against France and Great Britain.   Just a few decades later, Muslims of the Middle East again aligned with Germany against the West.  The Grand Mufti of Arab Palestine al-Husseini served as a Nazi propagandist, encouraging Muslims in Europe to lead armed revolts and attacks on Allied interests.

Churchill took the lead in warning about Nazi Germany. His steadfast refusal to surrender inspired the British resistance to Hitler during the difficult early days of the War when Britain stood alone.  For his wisdom and courage as a defender of freedom, Churchill was the first person to be made an honorary citizen of the United States.

Fortunately, in WWI and WWII our military might defeated German and Muslim alliances.

However—TODAY— dominance over the West is once again the focus of Radical Islam. The tactics are subtler than all-out military conflict, and appear to be more successful.  It is a stealth jihad waged within our borders that takes advantage of the dominance of political correctness in a sea of indifference to the dangers radical Islam poses:

  • Last month, a UK politician was arrested for and charged with a racially aggravated crime after quoting Churchill’s criticism of Islam in a speech;
  • Britain’s the Law Society released guidelines for drafting Sharia compliant legal contracts.
  • In 2011, a report documented the rise of Europe’s “no-go” zones, many of which “function as microstates governed by Islamic Sharia law.” Included in the report were the 751 sensitive urban zones across France where the French government has completely lost control. “No-go” zones are also present in Germany, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
But, bowing to Islam isn’t just confined to Europe. It’s occurring here in the US as well.

For instance, through the continuous capitulation to the demands of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and other pro- Islamic groups, any criticism of Islam is deemed offensive and banned:

  • The University of Michigan cancelled a screening of a documentary entitled “Honor Diaries”(video) which details the truth about the brutal violence against women perpetrated in the name of Islam.
  • Brandies University withdrew an honorary degree from Ayaan Hirsi Ali (video) because her work to protect and defend the rights of women and girls includes truthful criticism of Islamic law’s justification for rape and beatings.
  • A Colorado high school led students in the recitation of the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic, saying, “one nation under Allah.” (Allah is not the same as the Judeo-Christian God.)
  • Numerous Islamic terrorism experts are now banned from speaking at government counter-terrorism classes and conferences.
  • The FBI has purged 876 pages and 329 presentations that were deemed offensive to Islam, and the Pentagon ordered all training material used by military professional colleges and combat units scrubbed of any content offensive to Islam.
  • And the list goes on…
In 1998, at an Ohio youth conference, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi said, “We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America.”  As al-Qaradawi’s conquest continues to creep across Europe and into the US, we must ask ourselves, what would Churchill do?

How would Churchill react to American Universities forfeiting their identities as centers of free speech and open discussion to the pressures of organizations like CAIR?  What would he say abut government agencies unable to identify the enemy because of political correctness?

Would Churchill have allowed his country to ignore the evidence of the murderous ideology of Radical Islam because of political correctness or because some Islamists asked him to?

What would Churchill do?

By Richard Thompson
Sir Thomas More Society
Courtesy of

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Churches and Government Facilities: A Battleground for the Gospel

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on April 28, 2014

BronxRally120811Photo1

Two cases in Hawaii and New York City threaten the long tradition of churches using public school facilities. From the very beginning of the United States, churches have used government facilities for worship services. In 1795, a church used the United States Capitol building just two years after the cornerstone was laid and before Congress officially began meeting in the building. In fact, worship services were held in the Capitol building until around the time of the Civil War.

In the pioneer era, it was commonplace for church worship services to be held in public school buildings and for public schools to be held in church buildings. Indeed, it makes a great deal of sense for churches and schools to occupy the same physical space given that churches generally operate at times when schools are not in session and vice versa.

Despite this long history and the fact that church use of governmental buildings has not led our country any closer to establishing a national religion, there are forces that do not want churches to use school buildings for religious worship.

In one case, Alliance Defending Freedom has been representing the Bronx Household of Faith in New York City for close to 20 years. The New York City public schools established a policy that allows community groups to use school facilities but prohibits using them for religious worship. The case has bounced back and forth between the trial court and the appeals court in New York several times. In the most recent ruling, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the school’s policy excluding religious worship was constitutional. Alliance Defending Freedom appealed that ruling to the full Court of Appeals and will continue to fight for the ability of churches to use school facilities equally. Churches should not be discriminated against simply because they are religious.

In another case, Alliance Defending Freedom represents two Hawaii churches who were sued by atheists, claiming that the churches knowingly underpaid rental fees to the schools they were using. The lawsuit filed was brought under the state’s False Claims Act, which allows insiders who possess confidential information of fraud to file a whistleblower lawsuit to recover the money on behalf of the state and to assess triple damages. If successful, the atheists get to keep a portion of the money they recovered, and they are asking for an award of several million dollars. But the churches paid all the rent they were charged, and the Department of Education knew about the charges and payments by the churches. Alliance Defending Freedom asked the trial court to dismiss this lawsuit. Churches should not be bullied into giving up their right to equal use of government buildings.

These lawsuits are just a few of the attacks against churches using school facilities. So how should a church respond? Should they abandon any attempts to use school facilities for worship services?

No. This approach disregards the many startup churches who can only afford to rent government school facilities. It also ignores that in places like Hawaii and New York City, property is at a premium with frequently nowhere for churches to meet other than public buildings. And it overlooks the rich history of complementary use of government buildings by churches since the very beginning of this country.

Churches should not be pushed out of public spaces simply because some find the message of the Gospel “offensive.” Nor should churches themselves voluntarily abandon the public square where the proclamation of the Gospel message is sorely needed.

Alliance Defending Freedom has attorneys willing to defend a church’s right to have equal access to government facilities and not be subject to intimidation tactics seeking to forcibly remove churches. If you or your church are facing threats or encountering problems regarding use of governmental facilities, please contact us so an attorney can review your situation.

Courtesy of http://blog.speakupmovement.org/church/uncategorized/churches-and-government-facilities-a-battleground-for-the-gospel/

Posted in Attack on Christianity, Faith Issues in Our Times, Religious Freedom | Leave a Comment »

No honor in his hometown: Jesus not welcome in Nazareth school

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on April 8, 2014

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Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit Monday against a Pennsylvania school district on behalf of a 1st grade student and his parents. In February, Nazareth Area School District unconstitutionally prohibited the student from distributing St. Valentine’s Day cards to his classmates because the cards contained a note that mentioned God and included the Bible verse John 3:16 after a sentence about the history of St. Valentine’s Day.

“Public schools ought to encourage, not suppress, the free exchange of ideas, including those communicated through Valentine’s Day cards. A Bible verse and a reference to God does not make such a card unconstitutional,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “Religious expression is just as protected by the First Amendment as other messages that students communicate.”

“To single out a faith-based message for censorship is exactly the type of hostility to religion that the First Amendment forbids,” added ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “We hope the school district will revise its policies to respect the constitutionally protected free speech of its students and make ongoing litigation unnecessary.”

In February, the parents of the 1st grader helped him assemble the cards for “Friendship Day,” the politically correct name the school district uses for St. Valentine’s Day. The cards included a note that stated, “Happy Valentine’s Day! St. Valentine was imprisoned and martyred for presiding over marriages and for spreading the news of God’s love. In honor of St. Valentine’s Day, I want you to know that God loves you!!! ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but have eternal life.’ John 3:16.”

When the student arrived with his cards at Floyd R. Shafer Elementary School in Nazareth, his teacher noticed the faith-based notes and brought them to the attention of the school’s principal, William Mudlock. Mudlock ordered them removed because of their religious nature and because they contained a Bible verse, telling the student’s parents that they could be “offensive” to others.

At a meeting with the student’s parents, Mudlock explained that the child’s note sought to “establish the supremacy” of his faith over others as prohibited by school district policy. He pointed to NASD Policy 220 on “Unprotected Student Expression,” which states that the school officials can prohibit student expression that seeks “to establish the supremacy of a particular religious denomination, sect or point of view.”

The complaint filed in J.A. v. Nazareth Area School District with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania explains that the same federal court struck down an identically worded policy at another Pennsylvania school district in 2008, saying that such policies “restrict what effectively amounts to all religious speech, which is clearly not permissible under the First Amendment.”

Ted Hoppe, one of nearly 2,300 attorneys allied with Alliance Defending Freedom, is serving as local counsel in the case.

Posted in Attack on Christianity, Faith Issues in Our Times, Hot Legal News, Religious Freedom | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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