Faithandthelaw's Blog

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

Oregon Christian Bakers Ordered to Pay $135K After Refusing to Work Gay Wedding; Told to Stop Speaking About ‘Obeying God, Not Man’

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on July 4, 2015

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The Oregon Christian bakery owners who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding on the grounds that it would violate their religious convictions have been ordered to pay $135,000 in emotional damages, and have also been prohibited from speaking about standing up for their Christian beliefs.

On Thursday, Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian issued his final order in the case against Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of the Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery in Gresham, who were found guilty of discrimination in January for declining to bake a cake for a lesbian couple’s wedding in 2013. Avakian ordered the Kleins to pay complainant Rachel Bowman-Cryer $75,000 for damages and $60,000 to her partner Laurel Bowman-Cryer.

“Respondents’ claim they are not denying service because of complainants’ sexual orientation but rather because they do not wish to participate in their same-sex wedding ceremony. The forum has already found there to be no distinction between the two,” Avakian wrote in his order. “Further, to allow respondents, a for-profit business, to deny any services to people because of their protected class, would be tantamount to allowing legal separation of people based on their sexual orientation from at least some portion of the public marketplace.”
In defending the amount in which he ordered the Kleins to pay, Avakian, the head of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, claimed that the denial of service caused both women to go through emotional distress and added that Rachel Bowman-Cryer laid depressed in bed for days after she was told that Sweet Cakes does not service same-sex weddings.

“There is ample evidence in the record of specific, identifiable types of emotional suffering both complainants experienced because of this denial of service,” the commissioner wrote. “The proposal for LBC is less because she was not present at the denial and the ALJ found her testimony about the extent and severity of her emotional suffering to be exaggerated in some respects.”

The Kleins, who said last year that they were forced to close their shop in 2013 because harassment from LGBT advocates caused so much strain on their business, have also been told to “cease and desist” from speaking publicly about how they plan to continue to stand for their Christian faith and refuse to participate in same-sex weddings, as they now operate their business from their home.

“… Aaron has been charged with advertising. (Basically talking about not wanting to participate in a same-sex weddings). This effectively strips us of all our First Amendment rights,” the Kleins posted on the Sweet Cakes By Melissa Facebook page. “According to the state of Oregon we neither have freedom of religion or freedom of speech. We will NOT give up this fight, and we will NOT be silenced.

“We stand for God’s truth, God’s Word and freedom for ALL americans,” the post continued. “We are here to obey God, not man, and we will not conform to this world. If we were to lose everything it would be totally worth it for our Lord who gave his one and only son, Jesus, for us! God will win this fight!”

According to The Daily Signal, the “cease and desist” order is a result of an interview the Kleins did with the Family Research Council, in which Aaron Klein reportedly said “This fight is not over. We will continue to stand strong.”

The Bowman-Cryers’ lawyer argued that the Kleins violated a state law that bans people from speaking or acting on behalf of a place of public accommodation to promote discriminating against any of the state’s protected social classes.

Although the lawyer’s cease and desist argument was thrown out by administrative law Judge Alan McCullough in a proposed order in April, Avakian reversed McCullough’s decision.

Aaron Klein told Fox News that they plan to appeal the decision and that they will not comply.

“This man has no power over me. He seems to think he can tell me to be quiet. That doesn’t sit well with me and I refuse to comply,” Klein said. “When my constitutional freedoms have been violated by the state, I’m going to speak out. That’s the way it is.”

The Kleins’ lawyer, Anna Harmon, told The Daily Signal that Avakian’s cease and desist order is further proof that the state is trying to force businesses that they don’t politically agree with to conform.

“Brad Avakian has been outspoken throughout this case about his intent to ‘rehabilitate’ those whose beliefs do not conform to the state’s ideas,” Harmon said. “Now he has ruled that the Kleins’ simple statement of personal resolve to be true to their faith is unlawful. This is a brazen attack on every American’s right to freely speak and imposes government orthodoxy on those who do not agree with government sanctioned ideas.”

Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, said Avakian’s decision is a “fundamental violation” of freedom of speech and went as far as to label Avakian as no better than a bureaucrat in communist China.

“It is exactly this kind of oppressive persecution by government officials that led the pilgrims to America. And Commissioner Avakian’s order that the Kleins stop speaking about this case is even more outrageous — and also a fundamental violation of their right to free speech under the First Amendment,” Spakovsky said. “Avakian would have fit right in as a bureaucrat in the Soviet Union or Red China. Oregon should be ashamed that such an unprincipled, scurrilous individual is a government official in the state.”
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/oregon-christian-bakers-ordered-to-pay-135k-after-refusing-to-work-gay-wedding-told-to-stop-speaking-about-obeying-god-not-man-141137/#dePfLTicTUvdWkRC.99

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Here We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on July 3, 2015

marriageAs evangelical Christians, we dissent from the court’s ruling that redefines marriage. The state did not create the family, and should not try to recreate the family in its own image. We will not capitulate on marriage because biblical authority requires that we cannot. The outcome of the Supreme Court’s ruling to redefine marriage represents what seems like the result of a half-century of witnessing marriage’s decline through divorce, cohabitation, and a worldview of almost limitless sexual freedom. The Supreme Court’s actions pose incalculable risks to an already volatile social fabric by alienating those whose beliefs about marriage are motivated by deep biblical convictions and concern for the common good.

The Bible clearly teaches the enduring truth that marriage consists of one man and one woman. From Genesis to Revelation, the authority of Scripture witnesses to the nature of biblical marriage as uniquely bound to the complementarity of man and woman. This truth is not negotiable. The Lord Jesus himself said that marriage is from the beginning (Matt. 19:4-6), so no human institution has the authority to redefine marriage any more than a human institution has the authority to redefine the gospel, which marriage mysteriously reflects (Eph. 5:32). The Supreme Court’s ruling to redefine marriage demonstrates mistaken judgment by disregarding what history and countless civilizations have passed on to us, but it also represents an aftermath that evangelicals themselves, sadly, are not guiltless in contributing to. Too often, professing evangelicals have failed to model the ideals we so dearly cherish and believe are central to gospel proclamation.

Evangelical churches must be faithful to the biblical witness on marriage regardless of the cultural shift. Evangelical churches in America now find themselves in a new moral landscape that calls us to minister in a context growing more hostile to a biblical sexual ethic. This is not new in the history of the church. From its earliest beginnings, whether on the margins of society or in a place of influence, the church is defined by the gospel. We insist that the gospel brings good news to all people, regardless of whether the culture considers the news good or not.

The gospel must inform our approach to public witness. As evangelicals animated by the good news that God offers reconciliation through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus, we commit to:

  • Respect and pray for our governing authorities even as we work through the democratic process to rebuild a culture of marriage (Rom. 13:1-7);
  • the truth about biblical marriage in a way that brings healing to a sexually broken culture;
  • affirm the biblical mandate that all persons, including LGBT persons, are created in the image of God and deserve dignity and respect;
  • love our neighbors regardless of whatever disagreements arise as a result of conflicting beliefs about marriage;
  • live respectfully and civilly alongside those who may disagree with us for the sake of the common good;
  • cultivate a common culture of religious liberty that allows the freedom to live and believe differently to prosper.

The redefinition of marriage should not entail the erosion of religious liberty. In the coming years, evangelical institutions could be pressed to sacrifice their sacred beliefs about marriage and sexuality in order to accommodate whatever demands the culture and law require. We do not have the option to meet those demands without violating our consciences and surrendering the gospel. We will not allow the government to coerce or infringe upon the rights of institutions to live by the sacred belief that only men and women can enter into marriage.

The gospel of Jesus Christ determines the shape and tone of our ministry. Christian theology considers its teachings about marriage both timeless and unchanging, and therefore we must stand firm in this belief. Outrage and panic are not the responses of those confident in the promises of a reigning Christ Jesus. While we believe the Supreme Court has erred in its ruling, we pledge to stand steadfastly, faithfully witnessing to the biblical teaching that marriage is the chief cornerstone of society, designed to unite men, women, and children. We promise to proclaim and live this truth at all costs, with convictions that are communicated with kindness and love.

Signatories:

Russell Moore, President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Jim Daly, President, Focus on the Family
R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Jeff Iorg, President, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary
David Platt, President, International Mission Board
Ronnie Floyd, President, Southern Baptist Convention | Senior Pastor, Cross Church
Frank Page, President and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee
Danny Akin, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Paige Patterson, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
David S. Dockery, President, Trinity International University/Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Jack Graham, Pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church
Tony Evans, Senior Pastor, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship
Thom Rainer, President, LifeWay Christian Resources
O. S. Hawkins, President, Guidestone Financial Resources
Robert Sloan, President, Houston Baptist University
Mark Bailey, President, Dallas Theological Seminary
Barrett Duke, Vice President for Public Policy and Research, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Matt Chandler, Lead Teaching Pastor, The Village Church
John Huffman, Board Chair Christianity Today and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Jose Abella, Pastor, Providence Road Church, Miami
Raudel Hernandez, Pastor, Summit Español Raleigh, N.C.
Felix Cabrera, Pastor, Iglesia Bautista Central, Oklahoma City
Edgar Aponte, Director of Hispanic Leadership Development, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
Jason Duesing, Provost, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Jeffrey K. Jue, Provost, Westminster Theological Seminary
Roland C. Warren, President & CEO, Care Net
Kevin Smith, Teaching Pastor, Highview Baptist Church
Paul David Tripp, Pastor, Author, and International Conference Speaker
Dean Inserra, Lead Pastor, City Church, Tallahassee
John Stonestreet, Speaker and Fellow, The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Ramon Osorio, Hispanic National Church Mobilizer, North American Mission Board
Jimmy Scroggins, Lead Pastor, Family Church, West Palm Beach
Jackie Hill Perry, Writer, Speaker, Artist
Greg Laurie, Senior Pastor, Harvest Christian Fellowship
Trip Lee, Rapper, singer, poet and author
Denny Burk, Professor of Biblical Studies, Boyce College
Paul Chitwood, Executive Director, Kentucky Baptist Convention
J. Ligon Duncan III, Chancellor & CEO, John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary
H.B. Charles Jr., Pastor-Teacher, Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church
D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
David E. Prince, Assistant Professor of Christian Preaching, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
A.B Vines, Senior Pastor, New Seasons Church
John Woodbridge, Research Professor of Church History and Christian Thought, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Mike Cosper, Pastor of Worship and Arts, Sojourn Community Church
Nathan Lino, Lead Pastor, Northeast Houston Baptist Church
Heath Lambert, Executive Director, Association of Certified Biblical Counselors
Tony Merida, Pastor for Preaching, Imago Dei Church
Clint Pressley, Pastor, Hickory Grove Baptist Church
Vance Pitman, Senior Pastor, Hope Church, Las Vegas
Bruce Riley Ashford, Provost, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Phillip Bethancourt, Executive Vice President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Jonathan Leeman, Editorial Director, 9Marks
Thomas White, President, Cedarville University
Karen Swallow Prior, Professor of English, Liberty University
Jason Allen, President, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Rosaria Butterfield, Author and Speaker
J.D. Greear, Pastor, The Summit Church
Collin Hansen, Editorial Director, The Gospel Coalition
Eric M. Mason, Lead Pastor, Epiphany Fellowship Church
Eric Teetsel, Executive Director, Manhattan Declaration
Andrew T. Walker, Director of Policy Studies, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Daniel Patterson, Chief of Staff, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Daniel Darling, Vice-President of Communications, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Trillia Newbell, Director of Community Outreach, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
David French, National Review
Paul Nyquist, President and CEO, Moody Bible Institute
Kevin Ezell, President, North American Mission Board
Roger Spradlin, Senior Pastor, Valley Baptist Church, Bakersfield, Calif.
Carmen Fowler LaBerge, President, Presbyterian Lay Committee
Tommy Nelson, Senior Pastor, Denton Bible Church
J. P. Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Biola University
Bryant Wright, Senior Pastor, Johnson Ferry Baptist Church
Matthew Lee Anderson, Lead Writer, Mere Orthodoxy
Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition
Bruce Frank, Senior Pastor, Biltmore Baptist Church
Afshin Ziafat, Lead Pastor, Providence Church, Frisco, Texas
David Jeremiah, Senior Pastor, Shadow Mountain Community Church
Christine Hoover, Author
Jim Baucom, Senior Pastor, Columbia Baptist Church
Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver, President, Union University
James MacDonald, Senior Pastor, Harvest Bible Chapel
Juan R. Sanchez, Jr., Senior Pastor, High Pointe Baptist Church, Austin, Texas
David Uth, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Orlando
Timothy George, Dean and Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School
Alistair Begg, Senior Pastor, Parkside Church
Naghmeh Abedini
Steve Gaines, Pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church
Richard Mouw, Professor of Faith and Public Life, Fuller Seminary
Ron Sider, Senior Distinguished Professor of Theology, Holistic Ministry and Public Policy, Palmer Seminary at Eastern University
Randy Alcorn, Director, Eternal Perspectives Ministries
Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor, University Reformed Church
Justin Taylor, Author and Blogger
Dennis Rainey, President, FamilyLife Today
Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Revive our Hearts
Ray Ortlund, Lead Pastor, Immanuel Nashville, Tenn.
John Bradosky, Presiding Bishop, North American Lutheran Church
Matt Carter, Pastor of Preaching and Vision, The Austin Stone Community Church
Andy Naselli, Assistant Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology, Bethlehem College & Seminary
Owen Strachan, President, The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Richard D. Land, President, Southern Evangelical Seminary
Sam Storms, Lead Pastor for Preaching and Vision, Bridgeway Church
Bart Barber, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Farmersville
Hunter Baker, Associate Professor of Political Science and Dean of Instruction, Union University
Bryan Chapell, Senior Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church
J.I. Packer, Board of Governors’ Professor, Theology Regent College
Erwin W. Lutzer, Senior Pastor, The Moody Church
D.A. Horton, Director of ReachLife Ministries, National Coordinator for Urban Student Missions
Mark Dever, Senior Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church
Fred Luter, Pastor, Franklin Avenue Baptist Church
Bryan Loritts, Pastor of Preaching and Mission, Trinity Grace Church, Kainos Movement
Mike Glenn, Senior Pastor, Brentwood Baptist Church
Johnny Hunt, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Woodstock
Ken Whitten, Senior Pastor, Idlewild Baptist Church
Marvin Olasky, Editor-in-chief, WORLD Magazine
Todd Wagner, Senior Pastor, Watermark Church
Christopher Yuan, Speaker, Author, Bible teacher
Tory Baucum, Rector, Truro Anglican Church
Bryan Carter, Pastor, Concord Church
Ron Johnson, Senior Pastor, Village Bible Church
Mac Brunson, Pastor, First Baptist Church Jacksonville
Trey Brunson, First Baptist Church Jacksonville
Ray Pritchard, President, Keep Believing Ministries
Erik Reed, Pastor, Journey Church
Michael Youssef, Pastor, The Church of The Apostles Atlanta, Ga.
Rob Peters, Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church Winston-Salem, N.C.
Gregg Matte, Pastor, Houston’s First Baptist Church
Collin Garbarino, Assistant Professor of History, Houston Baptist University
Christian George, Assistant Professor of Historical Theology, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Daniel LaBry, CEO, ABBA Fund
Evan Lenow, Assistant Professor of Ethics, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Lydia Brownback, Author and Speaker
Dannah Gresh, Author and Speaker, Secret Keeper Girl
John Huffman, Board Chair, Christianity Today & Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Edwin Schneider, Campus Crusade for Christ Global Prayer Chief of Staff, Campus Crusade for Christ
Jon Bloom, Chair & Co-Founder, Desiring God
Jared Wilson, Content Director, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Graham Cole, Dean, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Nathan Finn, Dean of the School of Theology and Missions, Union University
Michael Duduit, Dean, Anderson University, Clamp Divinity School and College of Christian Studies
Bob Kauflin, Director, Sovereign Grace Music
Trevin Wax, Director of Author and Editorial Development, LifeWay Christian Resources
Briana Stensrud, Director, Sanctity of Life & Community Care, Focus on the Family
Tim Lubinus, Executive Director, Baptist Convention of Iowa
Timothy C. Patterson, Executive Director, Baptist State Convention of Michigan
Anne Paulk, Executive Director, Restored Hope Network
Brian Autry, Executive Director, SBC of Virginia
Jim Richards, Executive Director, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
Cecil Seagle, Executive Director, State Convention of Baptists in Indiana
Grant Castleberry, Executive Director, The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Ben Peays, Executive Director, The Gospel Coalition
Rob Lee, Executive Director, Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention
Paige Comstock Cunningham, Executive Director, The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity
John L. Yeats, Executive Director, Missouri Baptist Convention
Anthony Jordan, Executive Director and Treasurer, Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma
Christopher Martin, Executive Director and Treasurer, Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention
Craig Blaising, Executive Vice President and Provost, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Ryan Hutchinson, Executive VP, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Derrick Lynch, Lead Pastor, Blue Valley Baptist Church – Overland Park, Kan.
James Merritt, Lead Pastor, Cross Pointe Church
Leonce B. Crump Jr., Lead Pastor, Renovation Church
Kevin Peck, Lead Pastor, The Austin Stone Community Church
Bill Kynes, Pastor,Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church
Buddy Gray, Pastor, Hunter Street Baptist Church
Ron Edmondson, Pastor, Immanuel Baptist Church
Al Jackson, Pastor, Lakeview Baptist Church
Greg Belser, Pastor, Morrison Heights Baptist Church
Chip Henderson, Pastor, Pinelake Church
Hance Dilbeck, Pastor,Quail Springs Baptist Church Oklahoma City
Ryan Kelly, Pastor for Preaching, Desert Springs Church
Sam Allberry, Pastor, Author, LivingOut.org; St Mary’s Church, Maidenhead, UK
Donna Gaines, Pastor’s wife, Bible Teacher, Bellevue Baptist Church
Kathy Ferguson Litton, Pastor’s Wife, Consultant for Ministry for Pastors’ Wives, NAMB
Cathi Herrod, President, Center for Arizona Policy
Barry Creamer, President, Criswell College
Anthony Allen, President, Hannibal-LaGrange University
Mark Tooley, President, Institute on Religion and Democracy
Herbie Newell, President, Lifeline Children’s Services, Inc.
Rick Brewer, President, Louisiana College
K Marshall Williams Sr., President, National African American Fellowship, SBC
Dan Cruver, President, Together for Adoptiont
Matthew Pinson, President, Welch College
Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO, National Religious Broadcasters
Randy Davis, President-Executive Director, Tennessee Baptist Convention Executive Board
Bruce A. Ware, Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Thomas Schreiner, Professor of New Testament, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Randy Stinson, Provost, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Gene Fant, Provost and Chief Academic Officer, Palm Beach Atlantic University
C. Ben Mitchell, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Union University
Stan Norman, Provost, Executive VP for Campus Life, Oklahoma Baptist University
John Woodbridge, Research Professor of Church History and Christian Thought, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Jordan Lorence, Senior Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom
Casey Mattox, Senior Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom
Richard Phillips, Senior Minister, Second Presbyterian Church, Greenville, S.C.
Sandy Willson, Senior Minister, Second Presbyterian Church, Memphis, Tenn.
Charles Fowler, Senior Pastor, Germantown Baptist Church
Bob Roberts, Senior Pastor, NorthWood Church
Daniel Dumas, Senior Vice President of Institutional Administration, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Derek W H Thomas, The Robert Strong Professor of Systematic and Pastoral Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary
Eric Geiger, Vice President, LifeWay Christian Resources
Roger Oldham, VP Convention Communications and Relations, SBC Executive Committee
Charles Smith, VP for Institutional Relations, Midwestern Seminary

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Christians Must Stand Their Ground, ‘Disobey’ Unjust Laws Limiting Religious Freedom, Says Matt Staver in Kick-Off to 4-Day Future Conference

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on June 15, 2015

Supreme Court

As the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision looms this month, Liberty Counsel Chairman Matt Staver and subpoenaed Houston pastor Steven Riggle asserted Sunday that Christians and churches across the country need to unite, stand their ground and defy “unjust” laws that restrict religious freedoms.

While speaking on the opening night of the four-day Future Conference hosted at the Skyline Church in San Diego, which is headed by pastor Jim Garlow, Staver told the audience in a video speech that the pending Supreme Court ruling could lead to the constitutionalization of same-sex marriage and would also be an “unprecedented threat” to American history and religious freedoms.

Staver, whose Liberty Institute advocates for numerous Christians persecuted by the government for upholding their faith, further explained that if same-sex marriage is ruled constitutional, it will not be something that Christians will simply be able to ignore.

Staver argued that civil authorities will force people and businesses to choose between “compromising” their biblical convictions of marriage being between one man and one woman or having to face the prosecutorial wrath of civil authorities.

The Supreme Court has historically made a few bad rulings that time and justice have been able to realize and overcome, and a ruling in favor of same-sex marriage would be yet another biasly-flawed Supreme Court ruling, Staver contended.

Despite the fact that multiple cases across the nation have arisen where Christian business owners have been prosecuted, threatened and fined for refusing to service same-sex weddings, Staver said Christians should not be coerced into folding their biblical beliefs in order to comply with the rule of law, especially when such a law contradicts God’s natural rule of a “higher law.”

“Martin Luther King Jr., in his letter from the Birmingham Jail, said there are two different kinds of laws. There is a just law and an unjust law,” Staver explained. “An unjust law is an earthly law that is in direct collision and conflict with the higher law. [MLK] said that we must disobey them. We can not give them the respect of the rule of law because our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not give respect to a lawless decision.”

Staver stressed that people must take a stand for their religious freedoms because judges and lawmakers are trying to stomp on them.

“We have policies at Liberty Counsel as a baseline for churches to adopt. But understand that these are not full proof. There are ideologues, whether on the bench or in legislative bodies, that really don’t care about your religious freedom, the First Amendment and these inalienable rights of conscience and they will override those liberties with this radical agenda,” Staver said.

“What should a pastor, what should people do?” Starver asked. “I believe we shouldn’t be intimidated. I believe that we should not change a single thing that we do. I believe we need to stand the ground on which God has given us. Stand your ground is my message to you. Don’t be intimidated by what’s coming.”

Staver also advised that Christians across the country need to unite on the same cause and speak out any time one of their brothers and sisters is persecuted by the government simply because they acted in accordance with their faith. Staver detailed his point by adapting a famous quote by anti-Nazi theologen Martin Niemӧller to modern-day society.

“First they came for the adoption ministry but I did not speak out because I did not do adoptions. Then, they came for the wedding photographer but I did not speak up because I did not do photographic weddings. Then, they came for the baker and I did not speak up because I was not a baker. Then, they came for the florist but I said nothing because I was not a florist. Then, they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me,” Staver said.

“This is not a call for lone believers to fall on their swords,” staver continued. “It is a call for us to speak for each other and stand together and even to suffer together. Like Esther facing the unjust laws of the Persian Empire, we must pray, then we must stiffen our spines. May God help us remain faithful, whatever the cost.”

iggle, who was one of five Houston-area pastors whose sermons were subpoenaed by Houston’s lesbian mayor, Annise Parker, last fall because of his opposition to the city’s transgender bathroom ordinance, told the conference that it’s imperative for each individual evangelical movement across the country to unite as one super movement against the attack on religious freedom.

“It seems to me that we better find a way to take all of the voices and merge them together instead of a shout coming from here and here and over there,” Riggle, who pastors Houston’s Grace Community Church, stated. “I have been asked to sign three letters in one week all with them going here and going there. What would happen if 100 million people signed one letter. When are we going to figure this out?”

Although there has been no shortage of petitions and joint letters signed by evangelical leaders against same-sex marriage, Riggle compared those individual letters and petitions to the equivalent of a group of people trying to take down one bear by using nothing but small sticks and switches, instead of one giant stick to knock the bear out.

“I think we need to walk softly and carry a big stick,” Riggle asserted. “What I mean by that is until we unite our forces, we will continue to lose because it seems to me like we have whole lot of people walking around carrying switches.”

“Can you imagine 30 people surrounding the bear and everyone of them having a switch and all of them switching the bear and he may eat you if you do that,” Riggle continued. “If you figure that if all of you put your forces together and you get a big stick … and you put everybody together and you go out after the bear with [the big stick] and on your stick is ‘the lord is my strength.’ Walk softly and carry a big stick.”

Riggle also advised Christians not to back down in the face of government coercion. He insists that Christians need to be prepared to “run to the battle,” just as David did in his battle against Goliath.

“When you hear the threats and intimidation, don’t hide. Like David, run to the battle, don’t disappear. … When the giant shouts, shout back. … How do you shout back, shout back in the voting booth … shout back by running for office.”

Staver concluded by saying that a pro-gay Supreme Court ruling will create “impossible odds” for Christians that will force God to intervene, just as He did when he protected Daniel from the lions’ den.

“This could be the best, most magnificent time for the church because moments like this when there is an unprecedented clash, there is impossible odds that God will intervene for his people,” Staver said.
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/christians-must-stand-their-ground-disobey-unjust-laws-limiting-religious-freedom-says-matt-staver-in-kick-off-to-3-day-future-conference-140381/#kDfSPVUV2iI8RkA6.99

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

Pro-life, Religious Groups Resist Illegal DC bills; ADF Ready to Defend Those affected

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on May 4, 2015

Baby-with-TearWASHINGTON – Alliance Defending Freedom and other pro-life organizations released a joint statement Monday as a District of Columbia law is set to go into effect that could force such groups to operate contrary to their missions and beliefs.

Partly due to the agreement of many people, including the former D.C. mayor, that the law raises serious concerns under the First Amendment and federal law, the D.C. Council retreated from its original purpose for the law and passed a temporary measure stating that it will not require any employer in the District to provide insurance coverage for abortion, contraceptives, or any other “reproductive health decision.” The temporary measure will expire in 225 days, however, and therefore leaves pro-life employers open to unconstitutional treatment by the government.

“Pro-life organizations in our nation’s capital should not be forced to pay for abortions or hire those who oppose their pro-life beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox. “While the D.C. Council has retreated from this law’s original goal, which was to force pro-life organizations to pay for abortions in violation of their conscience, RHNDA remains an unnecessary and illegal attack on pro-life conscience that Congress must stop and that we will fight, if necessary, in the courts.”

In addition to ADF, the signers of the joint statement include representatives from the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Americans United for Life, Americans United for Life Action, March for Life, Concerned Women for America, Susan B. Anthony List, Family Research Council, and the Association of Christian Schools International.

The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014 still prohibits even pro-life and religious organizations from “discriminating” against employees and potential employees for any “reproductive health” decision, including elective abortions. If the District does not make its temporary amendment to the law permanent, it could also force employers to provide health insurance for elective abortions regardless of the organization’s religious beliefs or pro-life mission.

“That the House of Representatives took the extraordinary step of formally disapproving this bill demonstrates just how unprecedented and illegal RHNDA is. We will continue to resist, and encourage Congress to address, the District’s egregious violation of the First Amendment and federal law…,” the joint statement says. “We are nonsectarian pro-life organizations and religious ministries that make the nation’s capital our home. Despite the enactment of this unjust law, we will continue to hire employees who share our commitment to the dignity of every member of the human family. We will not abandon the purpose of our organizations in order to comply with this illegal and unjust law. We will vigorously resist any effort under RHNDA to violate our constitutionally protected fundamental rights.”

The District’s Human Rights Amendment Act of 2014 is also set to go into effect. HRAA overturns decades-old law and requires faith-based educational institutions to endorse and to provide school resources to individuals and groups who oppose the schools’ religious teachings on human sexuality. ADF attorneys say that both laws violate constitutionally protected freedoms and federal law, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and that ADF will be available to legally represent organizations that are negatively impacted by either law.

“ADF stands ready to protect the freedom that schools have not to support student groups whose objectives clearly contradict the schools’ religious values,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor. “The government should not be in the business of forcing people to act contrary to their beliefs when it has no compelling reason for doing so. Federal law and numerous court decisions support that point.”

As a federal district, D.C. laws are subject to review by Congress before they go into effect. Some members of Congress introduced resolutions to disapprove the bills, but they failed to pass. President Obama threatened to veto the resolutions if Congress passed them.

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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Canada Supreme Court Rules Against Christian Prayers at City Council Meetings, Says It ‘Stigmatizes’ Atheists

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on April 19, 2015

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Nearly a year after the United States Supreme Court ruled that government meetings could include Christian prayers, Canada’s highest legal authority has concluded the opposite.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously on Wednesday that prayers at town hall meetings are a violation of law, since they show preference for one religion over another.

In Mouvement laïque québécois v. Saguenay (City), Canada’s highest court upheld a lower court decision concluding that the mayor of Saguenay had violated an atheist’s freedom of conscience by opening public meetings with a prayer

“The prayer recited by the municipal council in breach of the state’s duty of neutrality resulted in a distinction, exclusion and preference based on religion …. which, in combination with the circumstances in which the prayer was recited, turned the meetings into a preferential space for people with theistic beliefs,” wrote the court.

“Although non‑believers could also participate, the price for doing so was isolation, exclusion and stigmatization. This impaired [plaintiff’s] right to exercise his freedom of conscience and religion.”

Canadian Secular Alliance, an organization that was an official intervener in the case, called the decision a “victory” for Canada.

“The decision is a victory for pluralism, equality and neutrality, rather than a promotion of atheism,” stated CSA President Greg Oliver.

“The CSA congratulates Alain Simoneau and Mouvement laïque québécois for their successful effort to make Canada a more inclusive country and calls on municipal councils still reciting government prayers to respect the decision and end this discriminatory practice.”

For years, city leaders in Saguenay, Quebec, would open meetings with a brief Catholic prayer, reasoning that the prayer reflected Quebec’s historic Catholic heritage.

In 2007, atheist Sagenuay resident Alain Simoneau filed a complaint against the practice in the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal, which ordered Sagenuay Mayor Jean Tremblay to cease the prayers.

Mayor Tremblay appealed the decision to the Quebec Court of Appeal, which in 2011 ruled in favor of the city over the atheist.

The case was then appealed to the nation’s highest court, which heard arguments last October and involved input from various religious and civil libertarian groups.

A nationally binding decision, Matt Kwong of CBC News noted that other local governments with prayer practices are being effected.

“City of Halifax legal staff began reviewing its morning ‘invocation,’ which begins with the words ‘God our creator’ and ends with ‘amen,'” reported Kwong.

“Ottawa’s city council also dropped its morning prayer on Wednesday, as did the community of Dieppe, N.B. Both municipalities stated they would review the practice — something constitutional law expert Errol Mendes suspects many town and city councils will be doing in the days to come.”

The Canadian Supreme Court’s decision comes nearly a year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Town of Greece v. Galloway that local governments could hold sectarian prayers at public meetings.

In a 5-4 decision, the United States’ highest court concluded that a New York town could begin their monthly town hall meetings with Christian prayers.

“The court must decide whether the town of Greece, New York, imposes an impermissible establishment of religion by opening its monthly board meetings with a prayer. It must be concluded … that no violation of the Constitution has been shown,” read the majority opinion, authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Bruce Clemenger, president of The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, whose organization served as an intervener, released a statement arguing that the decision was more nuanced than perceived.

“The Supreme Court did not ban offering prayers at government events, but they did offer guidance about when a prayer may cross a line,” said Clemenger.

“It was the circumstances and context of the prayer that the court found violated the neutrality of the state and contravened the religious freedom of an atheist who challenged the prayer.”

Kwong of CBC reported that the decision “did not deal with religious icons in provincial legislatures or the prayers that open parliamentary sessions in Ottawa.”

“And there are some legal observers who feel that some forms of public prayer and reflection would be fine as long as they are not overtly exclusive,” added Kwong.

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Is Indiana Protecting Discrimination?

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on March 30, 2015

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A calm look at Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act and its precedents.

Last week, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana signed into law the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Almost immediately, an uproar ensued, claiming that the law was discriminatory — that it provided a license for businesses to discriminate against gay and lesbian customers. Entirely lost in this kerfuffle has been the simple fact that the Indiana law is modeled on the 1993 federal law of the same name, and that counterparts have been adopted in 19 other states. Further, four federal courts of appeals and the Obama Justice Department have all taken the position that RFRA can be used as a defense in private suits involving the enforcement of laws that substantially burden free exercise of religion. Important debates over the intersection of faith and equality are impaired when they are overtaken by misguided rhetoric, rather than being informed by the history and context of how our legal system has treated this issue. 

Alfred Smith ingested peyote — a powerful hallucinogen — in the course of his Native American religious ceremonies. Smith was terminated by his employer due to the Peyote ritual. Smith challenged the subsequent denial of unemployment benefits — based on the drug use — as a violation of the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause. In a controversial decision by Justice Antonin Scalia in Employment Division v. Smith, the Supreme Court held that the Free Exercise Clause could not be raised as a defense against a law of general applicability. This opinion generated an immediate backlash: How could a person be punished for exercising his sincerely held religious beliefs? In 1993, then-Representative Charles Schumer of New York introduced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in the House of Representatives. Its counterpart bill in the Senate was co-sponsored by Senator Edward Kennedy. The bill enjoyed such wide-ranging bipartisan support that it passed the House on a voice vote, passed the Senate by a vote of 97 to 3, and was promptly signed into law by President Clinton. (Imagine such a significant law passing today with this kind of vote!)

The law states that the federal “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless it “is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest” and “is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.” At a minimum, RFRA attempted to reverse the Court’s construction of the Free Exercise clause in the Smith case. The scope of RFRA was clarified last year by the Supreme Court in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. The High Court found that the federal government could not mandate that Hobby Lobby offer its employees health insurance that would pay for certain emergency contraceptives. Unresolved by that decision, however, was whether the RFRA defense applies in private suits, not involving the government. The relief provision of RFRA provides that “A person whose religious exercise has been burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and obtain appropriate relief against a government.” The use of the passive voice — “whose religious exercise has been burdened” — elides who is imposing the burden: the government, or private parties enforcing federal law. This language can be read two ways: first, RFRA can be asserted only to “obtain appropriate relief against” the government; second, RFRA can be raised as a “defense” whenever “religious exercise has been burdened” in any “judicial proceeding,” whether against the government, or a private party.

This provision has caused a split among the federal courts of appeals. The majority of circuits that have confronted this issue have held that the language allows a defendant to assert RFRA as a “defense” in a private cause of action not involving the government. Even though the suit is brought by a private party, the argument goes, the “religious exercise” is still being burdened through the enforcement of a federal law in “a judicial proceeding.” As Shruti Chaganti explained in a 2013 article in the Virginia Law Review, the Second, Eighth, Ninth, and D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals — which Chaganti dubbed the “defense circuits” — have allowed RFRA to be raised as a defense in a private suit, “finding the statute’s language and purpose sufficiently broad to create a defense regardless of the parties to the suit.”

In 1996 — three years after RFRA was enacted — the D.C. Circuit held that the Catholic University of America could raise RFRA as a defense against a sex-discrimination claim brought by a nun and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alike. In 1998, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals found that a church could assert RFRA as a defense against a trustee in bankruptcy proceedings. In a 2000 decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, one church sued another church for unlawfully using materials copyrighted by its late pastor. The court allowed the infringing church to raise the defense, but found that the application of the copyright law did not impose a “substantial burden” on its exercise of religion. In a 2005 decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, a priest was forced into retirement by the New York Methodist Church when he turned 70. The priest brought an age-discrimination claim, and the church countered that enforcing the law would burden its free exercise. The Second Circuit found that “RFRA’s language surely seems broad enough to encompass” the church’s raising RFRA as a defense against the age-discrimination claim. In short, Judge Ralph Winter wrote, RFRA “easily covers” the church’s claim that applying the anti-discrimination law would “substantially burden” its exercise of religion. These four cases, and many others, concerned similar facts — private parties had brought suits against corporations. (Yes, Catholic University and Catholic churches are corporations.) In each case, the corporate defendants were allowed to raise RFRA as a defense to assert that the enforcement of a federal law — Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination, bankruptcy law, and even copyright law — would burden their free exercise of religion. In some cases, the defenses were successful, and in others they were not. But this is the rule of law in the states under the jurisdiction of these four circuits — nearly half the states in the union. Until recently, this was not particularly controversial. But not all judges agree. Taking the opposing view was then–Circuit Judge Sonia Sotomayor — now a Supreme Court justice — who dissented in the Methodist Church case. She found that RFRA “does not apply to disputes between private parties.” Judge Winter responded forcefully to Sotomayor’s suggestion: “The [dissent’s] narrowing interpretation — permitting the assertion of RFRA as a defense only when relief is also sought against a governmental party — involves a convoluted drawing of a hardly inevitable negative implication. If such a limitation was intended, Congress chose a most awkward way of inserting it.”

Joining Judge’s Sotomayor’s dissenting view, however, are the Sixth and Seventh Circuit Courts of Appeals. Chaganti dubs these courts the “non-defense circuits,” as they have held that RFRA was meant to “provide a defense only when obtaining appropriate relief against a government and therefore cannot apply to suits in which the government is not a party.” In 2010, the Sixth Circuit Court found that the “Creation Seventh Day Adventist Church” could not raise RFRA as a defense in a trademark infringement suit brought by the “Seventh-Day Adventist Church.” In 2006, the ubiquitous Judge Richard Posner weighed in on this issue for the Seventh Circuit. In an age-discrimination claim brought by a organist against the Catholic Diocese of Peoria, Posner wrote that “RFRA is applicable only to suits to which the government is a party.” The Supreme Court in 2012 unanimously and expressly reversed Posner’s opinion on other grounds in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, finding that the so-called “ministerial exception” to the Free Exercise clause could be raised as an “affirmative defense.” Judge Posner’s RFRA analysis was premised, in part, on the fact that since the Free Exercise Clause does not offer the “ministerial exception” as an affirmative defense, it was “hardly to be imagined” that Congress gave “greater protection to religious autonomy than RFRA does.”

Since this predicate of Posner’s ruling was invalidated by the Court, the sustained validity of Judge Posner’s ruling is questionable. Joining the Second, Eighth, Ninth, and D.C. Circuits in finding that RFRA can be asserted as a defense in a private cause of action is the Holder Justice Department. In August of 2012, the United States Government stated that Wheaton College, if sued by an employee for failing to provide insurance that covered contraceptives, “in its defense of such an action, would have an opportunity to raise its contention that the contraceptive coverage requirement violates” RFRA.

Yes, you read that right. The Obama Administration held that a corporation, albeit a non-profit one, could defend itself against a private claim from an employee by asserting that the Obamacare’s contraception mandate imposes a “substantial burden” on its free exercise of religion. That is to say, the most controversial aspect of the new Indiana religious-freedom law was blessed by Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department. This position is directly at odds with the views of Sotomayor, Posner, and others. Again, none of this was particularly controversial until fairly recently. Since the enactment of the federal RFRA in 1993, 19 states — including Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina —  implemented their own RFRAs, which were very similar to the federal law.

The state courts, like the federal courts, have wrestled over whether state RFRAs can be raised as a defense in private suits. Most notable among these decisions is the New Mexico Supreme Court’s opinion in Elane Photography v. Willock. In this now-famous case, a photographer was fined for refusing to photograph a same-sex wedding. The Land of Enchantment’s High Court, mirroring Sotomayor’s and Posner’s narrow reading, concluded that the photographer could not raise the state RFRA as a defense against the discrimination claim. (The Supreme Court of the United States declined to review this case).

This brings us back to the Hoosier State. Section 9 of Indiana’s RFRA provides that “A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.” In the wake of Elane Photography, Indiana made explicit for its own law what the four federal courts of appeals and the Obama Justice Department had already recognized about the federal counterpart. Indiana’s RFRA does no more than codify that the private enforcement of public laws — such as discrimination claims — can be defended if there is a substantial burden on free exercise of religion. That’s it. And again, until recently, this provision was not particularly controversial.

I must stress — and this point has been totally lost in the Indiana debate — that RFRA does not provide immunity to discrimination claims. It only allows a defendant to raise a defense, which a finder of fact must consider, as in any other defense that can be raised under Title VII or the Americans with Disabilities Act. Yes, believe it or not, under employment-discrimination laws, the courts have long recognized that there are legitimate defenses to treating people differently based on protected statuses. In the Supreme Court’s decision in Hosanna-Tabor, mentioned earlier, the Court unanimously found that an employee terminated because of a disability could not sue the church, because of the Free Exercise clause. This may not seem fair or equitable, but this 9–0 decision by the Supreme Court was a recognition of clearly established principles of how religious beliefs can, in rare cases, provide a defense against discrimination claims. University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock, an expert in free-exercise law, stated the issue well: “The hysteria over this law is so unjustified. It’s not about discriminating against gays in general or across the board. It’s about not being involved in a ceremony that you believe is inherently religious.”

Like the First Amendment, RFRA is not a blank check for bigotry. In summary, four Courts of Appeals, covering nearly half the states in the Union, and the Obama Justice Department, have stated that RFRA can be asserted as a defense in a private case seeking the enforcement of federal law. As Indiana University law professor Daniel Conkle, a supporter of same-sex marriage, explained, “The proposed Indiana RFRA would provide valuable guidance to Indiana courts, directing them to balance religious freedom against competing interests under the same legal standard that applies throughout most of the land. It is anything but a ‘license to discriminate,’ and it should not be mischaracterized or dismissed on that basis.”

In this sense, the Indiana law would operate as does its federal counterpart. None of this is to say whether allowing RFRA to be raised as a defense in private suits is a good or bad policy. Rather, the moral outrage and proposed boycotts over Indiana’s law reflect an inexcusable failure to put into context how these laws have developed over the last two decades. Public-policy decisions, even those involving the most controversial issues of social justice, should be made on the basis of reasoned debate, rather than inflamed diatribes. 

Josh Blackman is a constitutional-law professor at the South Texas College of Law in Houston, and the author of Unprecedented: The Constitutional Challenge to Obamacare. He blogs at JoshBlackman.com. 

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/416160/indiana-protecting-discrimination-josh-blackman

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Former SEALs Chaplain Could be Kicked Out of Navy for Christian beliefs

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on March 9, 2015

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A chaplain who once ministered to Navy SEALs could be thrown out of the military after he was accused of failing “to show tolerance and respect” in private counseling sessions in regards to issues pertaining to faith, marriage and sexuality, specifically homosexuality and pre-marital sex, according to documents obtained exclusively by Fox News.

Lt. Commander Wes Modder, who is endorsed by the Assemblies of God, has also been accused of being unable to “function in the diverse and pluralistic environment” of the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command in Goose Creek, S.C.

“On multiple occasions he discriminated against students who were of different faiths and backgrounds,” the Chaplain’s commanding Officer Capt. Jon R. Fahs wrote in a memorandum obtained by Fox News.

Modder told me he was devastated by the accusations. He believes charges have been trumped up.

Modder is a highly decorated, 19-year veteran of the military. Prior to becoming a Navy chaplain, he served in the Marine Corps. His assignments included tours with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Naval Special Warfare Command – where he served as the Force Chaplain of the Navy SEALs.

His record is brimming with accolades and endorsements – including from Capt. Fahs.

In Modder’s most recent review, Fahs declared that the chaplain was “the best of the best,” and a “consummate professional leader” worthy of an early promotion.

So how did Chaplain Modder go from being the “best of the best” to being unfit for service in the U.S. military in a span of five months?

The Navy did not return my calls seeking comment – so all we can do is rely on their written accusations and evidence.

Michael Berry, a military veteran and attorney with Liberty Institute a law firm that specializes in religious liberty cases is representing Modder. He accused the military of committing a gross injustice against the chaplain in a letter to the Navy. He told me they will respond forcefully and resolutely to the allegations – which they categorically deny.

“We are starting to see cases where chaplains have targets on their backs,” Berry said. “They have to ask themselves, ‘Do I stay true to my faith or do I keep my job?’”

He said Modder is being punished because of his Christian faith.

“They want chaplains to be glorified summer camp counselors and not speak truth and love into people’s lives,” Berry told me. “There are some anti-religious elements in our military. Anytime somebody wants to live their faith out – there are people who say that is offensive.”

Modder told me he was devastated by the accusations. He believes charges have been trumped up.

“The military now wants a 2.0 chaplain instead of a legacy chaplain,” Modder said. “They want a chaplain to accommodate policy that contradicts Scripture.”

Modder’s troubles started on Dec. 6 when an assistant in his office showed up to work with a pair of Equal Opportunity representatives and a five-page complaint documenting grievances against the chaplain.

The lieutenant junior grade officer went on to detail concerns about Moody’s views on “same-sex relationships/marriages, homosexuality, different standards of respect for men and women, pre-marital sex and masturbation.”

Modder said the young officer had only been working with him for about a month and would constantly pepper him with questions pertaining to homosexuality. He had no idea that the officer was in fact gay – and married to another man.

“His five page letter of complaint was unconscionable,” Modder said. “He said I had a behavioral pattern of being anti-discriminatory of same sex orientation.”

The chaplain was not even given a chance to defend himself. He was immediately removed from duties and told to clean out his office.

“It was insulting and it was devastating,” Modder said. “I felt discriminated against. How could something like this happen at this stage of my career?”

Zollie Smith, the executive director for the Assemblies of God, U.S. Missions, told me they stand firmly behind the chaplain.

“We stand behind him 100 percent,” he said.

In hindsight, Berry believes the officer was setting up his client – and in doing so may have committed a crime.

“I believe some of what the lieutenant has alleged could constitute a military crime – false statements – taking what the chaplain said and twisting or misconstruing it – in an attempt to get the chaplain punished,” he said. “He abused the position he was placed in as a chaplain’s assistant.”

He believes the officer may have gained access to private counseling file

“To be clear, Chaplain Modder does not dispute that during private, one-on-one pastoral care and counseling sessions, he expressed his sincerely held religious belief that: sexual acts outside of marriage are contrary to Biblical teaching; and homosexual behavior is contrary to Biblical teaching; and homosexual orientation or temptation, as distinct from conduct, is not sin,” Berry said.

Modder said many Americans may be shocked to discover how much military culture has changed over the past few years.

“This new generation is very secular and very open sexually,” he said. “The values that the military once held – just like the Boy Scouts of America – are changing. The culture wants this. Culture is colliding with truth. That’s at the heart of this.”

Modder recalled an incident that occurred when he first arrived on the base. He was about to deliver the invocation at a graduation ceremony when the captain pulled him aside.

“He looked at me and said, ‘Hey chaplain – do not pray in Jesus’ name,’” he recalled.

Modder said he understands the firestorm he is about to enter – but he remains resolute.

“Every fiber in my being wants to run away from this – but if I do I’m not being obedient to the Lord,” he told me. “I need to stand up for righteousness and this is something I cannot walk away from.”

The reality is that many other chaplains could find themselves in Chaplain Modder’s shoes. The Roman Catholic church and the Southern Baptist convention have nearly identical positions on the issues that the Navy found problematic with Modder.

“It’s going to be a hard road for me,” he said. “But it’s what God has called me to do.”

Ultimately, it’s about leaving a legacy and setting an example for his family – his wife and four young children.

The day he was relieved of his duties, Chaplain Modder’s 14-year-old son tagged along to help pack up his dad’s office. A few senior enlisted men were there as well.

As they were driving away, the boy told his father that the enlisted men had spoken to him.

“They told my son that ‘you can be proud of your father because he’s keeping the faith,’” Modder said. “The whole command knows that Chaplain Modder is keeping the faith.”

Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. Sign up for his American Dispatch newsletter, be sure to join his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter. His latest book is “God Less America.”

Courtesy of http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/03/09/former-seals-chaplain-could-be-kicked-out-navy-for-christian-beliefs/

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Georgia Tech’s Speech Code Declared Unconstitutional

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on March 4, 2015

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Ruth Malhotra and Orit Sklar, unleashed all the worst furies of the Left when they stood up in support of their faith and their conservative views on the campus of Georgia Tech. The two united in their vocal opposition to the school’s ironclad speech codes, which severely curtailed any student conversation, publications, events, or activities administrators arbitrarily deemed “intolerant.” The codes banned free exchange of ideas except in very limited areas of campus, denied student activity funds to clubs and organizations that engaged in ‘religious activities,’ and officials even instituted a program, “Safe Space,” designed to demonize anyone or any group that considered homosexual behavior immoral.

When Ruth and Orit asked the Alliance Defending Freedom to sue Georgia Tech on their behalf, they found themselves mocked, cursed, defamed on posters, and threatened with rape and even murder.

The young women’s courage was rewarded when their case ended victoriously. Georgia Tech was forced to eliminate their anti-religious program and remove the speech code that violated the First Amendment. This critical outcome serves as a precedent for other schools around the country to abandon their similar speech codes and censorship.

Courtesy of http://www.speakupmovement.org/StudentStories/Details/23219

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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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