Month: October 2010

National Day of Prayer Proclamation Upheld in Colorado

A Denver federal court on Thursday upheld a Colorado proclamation recognizing the National Day of Prayer as a lawful expression of an individual’s right to practice religion.

Judge R. Michael Mullins dismissed a lawsuit asserting that Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat, violated the state constitution by issuing a state proclamation recognizing the National Day of Prayer, which is observed every year on the first Thursday of May.

Colorado Attorney General John Sutters praised the judge’s ruling in a statement saying, “I was pleased to see the judge’s well reasoned and persuasive order upholding this commonplace practice.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation filed the lawsuit in support of the separation of church and state. “I think this judge is very, very wrong,” said FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor. In the lawsuit, the Wisconsin-based skeptic group claimed that Ritter’s proclamation violated the Religious Freedom clause of the Colorado Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

The clause reads, “No person shall be required to attend or support any ministry or place of worship, religious sect or denomination against his consent. Nor shall any preference be given by law to any religious denomination or mode of worship.”

Judge Mullins concluded that the proclamation does not carry the force of law and therefore is not mandating prayer.

The clause also reads, “The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination, shall forever hereafter be guaranteed; and no person shall be denied any civil or political right, privilege or capacity, on account of his opinions concerning religion.”

Mullins said that the proclamation simply asserts an individual’s right to practice religion.

The FFRF may appeal the ruling, Gaylor said. She cited a court decision earlier this year where U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb denounced the National Day of Prayer as an unconstitutional call to religious action. The lawsuit in that case was also filed by FFRF.

The National Day of Prayer’s heritage extends back to the formation of United States. In the 1775, the Continental Congress called on the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming the new nation. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln called for a day of “humiliation, fasting and prayer.” In 1952 president Harry Truman declared an annual national day of prayer. The law was amended in the 1988 by President Ronald Reagan to permanently establish the National Day of Prayer on the first Thursday of May.

In May, the Colorado National Day of Prayer committee encouraged prayers for reduced state crime, decreased state divorce rate, a zero suicide rate, decreased abortions and healing from physical, spiritual and emotional oppression.

Shirley Dobson is the chairwoman of the National Day of Prayer task force. Dobson encourages visitors of its website to support the day of prayer. “We have lost many of our freedoms in America because we have been asleep. I feel if we do not become involved and support the annual National Day of Prayer, we could end up forfeiting this freedom too.”

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U.S. District Court: Michigan Student Can Hand Out Church Flyers

An elementary school student in Michigan can distribute invitations to church activities to classmates, a federal court ruled Tuesday.

Judge Gerald E. Rosen of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan concluded that the school infringed on the student’s First Amendment right to free speech when it denied him the opportunity to pass out the invitations and flyers.

Applauding the ruling, Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel David Cortman commented, “Christians shouldn’t be discriminated against and silenced because of their beliefs. The court made the right decision by acknowledging students’ and community groups’ free speech rights and ruling that the district’s viewpoint-based ban on the distribution of literature with a religious theme is unconstitutional.”

The student, identified as J.S., and his mother, Katharine Smith, filed suit in 2009 against Holly Area Schools after he tried to distribute invitations to a youth summer camp held at Cornerstone Church in Highland, Mich.

A second grade student at the time, J.S. placed some of the invitations in cubbyholes, which are receptacles for distributing materials to each student.

Upon learning of this, his teacher and then his principal banned the student from handing out religious materials on school grounds.

Katharine Smith went to the district superintendent who also said affirmed the ban on religious materials.

After the suit was filed, the Patterson Elementary School principal sent a letter home with each student in February of this year advising parents that outside groups and individuals were no longer permitted to submit materials to the school for distribution to students.

Judge Rosen wrote in his opinion that “such a blanket prohibition upon a student’s distribution of materials on the basis of religious viewpoint is not constitutionally permissible.”

“The school district cannot reasonably be viewed as having imposed time, place, or manner restrictions upon J.S.’s distribution of these materials; instead, it has flatly forbidden him from giving such materials to his classmates anywhere on school grounds at any time during the school day.”

The judge ordered the school district to stop enforcing its ban against students handing out flyers and further ruled that the district could not deny the mother’s request to send flyers home with students “on the sole ground that she seeks to distribute materials promoting religious activities” while permitting other community groups to distribute flyers advertising their events.

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Employees Fired and Evicted For Being “Too Religious” Should Get Day in Court

Atlanta, GA – Today Liberty Counsel will present oral arguments at the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, requesting that a trial court’s summary judgment be reversed in an employment and housing discrimination case. Daniel and Sharon Dixon were fired by The Hallmark Companies from managing an apartment complex and evicted from their apartment for being “too religious,” because they displayed, in the rental office, stained glass artwork with flowers and the phrase “Consider the lilies… Matthew 6:28.”

LiliesAfter a number of office visits, one day their supervisor asked if the artwork referred to Scripture. When Mrs. Dixon confirmed that it did, the supervisor asked her to remove it immediately. Mrs. Dixon indicated that she would bring her husband, a co-manager, into the discussion and left briefly to find him. When the Dixons returned minutes later, their supervisor had removed the artwork and told them not to bother looking for it because they were fired for being “too religious.” They were ordered to vacate their apartment within seventy-two hours.

The Dixons filed a federal action charging Hallmark with religious discrimination, but a federal district court judge ruled summarily against them, concluding incredibly that no reasonable jury could find that Hallmark discriminated against the Dixons. The court should have allowed a jury to hear the case and determine whether the Dixons were fired and evicted because of their religious beliefs.

Today, Horatio Mihet, Senior Litigation Counsel for Liberty Counsel, will present oral arguments at the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals Atlanta, Georgia. Title VII and Title VIII prohibit discrimination in employment and housing on account of religion. The removal of the picture by the supervisor was symptomatic of the bigger issue, namely that the Dixons were fired because of their religion. A ruling by the court is expected later this year.

Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: “Hallmark cannot sweep religion from the workplace. While The Hallmark Companies can chose the décor of the workplace, their supervisors cannot fire employees solely because they are ‘too religious.’ When a jury hears this case, it will be clear that The Hallmark Companies crossed the line.”

Group Asks IRS to Probe Christian Voter Guides

(Photo: AP Images / Julie Jacobson)
A voter returns voting machine activation card after casting his ballot at an early voting polling place Monday
A group dedicated to promoting ethics in government and public life has asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether voter guides distributed by a Christian nonprofit violate federal tax code.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) submitted the request Tuesday, accusing The Pray in Jesus Name Project of passing out overtly partisan guides that rate politicians as faith-friendly or anti-Jesus.

“Federal law prohibits preachers from politicking from the pulpit, but that is exactly what Pray in Jesus Name Project is asking clergy across the country to do,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan in a statement. “Pray in Jesus Name is attempting to use churches to advance its overt political agenda; any churches that go along with this plan and distribute the guides will risk their own tax status in the process.”

The Pray in Jesus Name Project has made available “Shock and Awe” voter guides for Christians that report how Senate and Congressional incumbents voted on certain issues – namely on abortion, free speech, health care and homosexuality issues. The group makes it clear on its website that “non-partisan voter guides that simply report how Congress voted are fully authorized by the IRS for distribution in churches.”

Christians are being encouraged to help fax the voter guides to 125,000 pastors in all 50 states ahead of the Nov. 2 elections.

Backing the project, Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel maintains that outside of express endorsement of or opposition to candidates for political offices, pastors and churches may engage in many other permissible activities.

CREW, however, contends that the voter guides and legislative scorecards “appear to contain clear partisan commentary” and “while there are no votes to rank the candidates, it is clear through the ‘faith friendly’ designation which candidate is supported.”

“The guides narrowly focus on a few select issues, including public prayers, abortion, and legislative issues affecting the rights of gay citizens,” CREW wrote in its letter to the IRS. “Incumbents’ votes on these narrow issues are further characterized with biased labels such as ‘Pro-Abortion,’ ‘Pro-Homosexual,’ ‘Anti-Jesus,’ and ‘Anti-Free Speech.'”

CREW has requested that the IRS take action against any church that distributes the guides.

“The IRS should investigate whether Pray in Jesus Name is violating its own tax status and warn churches that by distributing the voter guides created [by]this group, they are jeopardizing their own 501(c)(3) status,” said Sloan. “Just as ‘a rose by any other name is still a rose,’ political campaign intervention called voter guides is still political campaign intervention.”

The probe request comes weeks after dozens of pastors around the country defied the 1954 IRS rule – preventing organizations with tax exemption from participating in a political campaign – and endorsed political candidates from the pulpit on Sunday. Pulpit Freedom Sunday was organized by the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal firm, which believes pastors have a right to use the Bible’s teachings to speak on the positions of electoral candidates or current government officials.

The event was intended to get the government out of the pulpit moreso than get politics into the pulpit.

“Pastors and churches shouldn’t live in fear of being punished or penalized by the government – in this case, the IRS,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley. “Churches should be allowed to decide for themselves what they want to talk about.”

Meanwhile, The Pray in Jesus Name Project maintains that its voter guides neither endorse nor oppose any candidate for office.

With the aim of “[taking] back Congress” and “[getting] out the church vote” the group states on its website: “If we simply tell the pastors without bias how Harry Reid’s Senate voted to confirm the Anti-Jesus Judge David Hamilton, how will Christian people vote? If we simply report the non-partisan voting record of Nancy Pelosi’s Congress, who voted to pay for abortions with our tax-dollars in Obamacare ‘health’ bill, how will Christian people vote?

“Pastors, we must not fear the government. It is time for the government to fear the Church of Jesus Christ.”

The Pray in Jesus Name Project was started by Chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt, an Air Force Academy graduate and former U.S. Navy chaplain who has stood for the rights of military chaplains to pray publicly in Jesus’ name.

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Fed-up Americans: Fire the judges, too!

By Bob Unruh
© 2010 WorldNetDaily

Marsha Ternus

Judicial elections across the United States, largely ho-hum affairs that only stand out when members of the black robes commit a crime, have turned white-hot in Iowa, where residents are organizing and campaigning to fire three of the state Supreme Court members who created same-sex marriage for the state.

Supporters of the judges – Marsha Ternus and Justices David Baker and Michael Streit – are countering with arguments that Iowans who want the three removed from office have abandoned the rule of law and become “the mob.”

But former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, who was removed from office himself when state officials refused to allow him to challenge an order he considered illegal, said the judges in Iowa didn’t even follow their own state law – which defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Instead, Moore said, they joined advocates for homosexuality in calling such couples “similarly situated” to traditionally married couples.

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That view is accurate, said Moore, who runs the Foundation for Moral Law, only if one cannot tell the difference between a man and a woman.

The justices’ stance, he suggested, is why polls show they could be ejected from their highly paid positions of influence, even though they usually are the benefactors of approval from 80 percent or 90 percent of the voters.

Several polls show that support for the three is running only percentage points above the portion of the citizenry already committed to voting them out. Several polls suggested the small percentage of undecideds probably ultimately will be the deciding factor.

In Iowa, the Supreme Court created same-sex “marriage” in a lawsuit brought by homosexual couples, determining that they had the same “right” to marry as traditional married couples.

Members of the Iowa Supreme Court who unanimously adopted same-sex ‘marriage’ for the state

But Moore noted that Iowa’s Defense of Marriage Act specified one man and one woman marriages, so the justices actually were violating the law they were sworn to uphold. Moore noted that the original Iowa Constitution forbade “sodomy.”

The surge of condemnation for the three justices – the only ones from the high court on the ballot this year – sends “a signal all across the nation,” Moore said.

“People are tired of activist judges who rule not according to their own constitution and laws of their state,” he said. “If they are removed, it will stop this judicial activism.”

He quoted from the Iowa court’s own opinion that it could “protect constitutional rights … even when the rights have not yet been broadly accepted or at one time [were] unimagined.”

“What they are saying is that they can give rights to individuals that were at one time unimagined. If that’s not judicial activism…” he said. “What’s to stop them from letting men marry their own daughters. Brothers marry sisters. A whole village becoming a marriage.”

Former GOP candidate for governor Bob Vander Plaats, a spokesman for a grassroots group trying to oust the three judges, said the Iowa For Freedom campaign was launched because the decision simply was wrong.

“On April 3, 2009, this court did what it cannot do and God help this country and this state if we allow them to do it,” he told the Cedar Falls Courier.

A Des Moines Register poll found 40 percent of voters plan to vote to remove all three judges, and 44 percent will try to keep them, leaving the outcome a virtual tossup.

According to the Iowa Independent, U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, has concluded that voters really have no choice but to reject the judges.

“Iowa law says that marriage is only between ‘a male and a female,'” King said. “No judge can be allowed to remain on the bench who would turn thousands of years of law and human history on its head by discovering rights that ‘were at one time unimagined’ in our Constitution,” he told the newspaper.

Officials with the state Supreme Court declined to respond to WND requests for comment. Nor did Ternus respond to a message left by WND with her personal office staff.

A Des Moines newspaper report affirmed that the results will ripple beyond the edges of Iowa’s borders.

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council in Washington told the newspaper in an interview, “What you see happening here is a precedent being set, and other states will feel comfortable following it.”

It was, according to the Sioux City Journal, former Iowa Supreme Court judge Mark McCormick who called those who oppose same-sex “marriage” and the imposition of that status by a court “the mob.”

He told the newspaper, “But the campaign here is one that is an effort to try to intimidate judges, not just in Iowa, but everywhere; not to carry out their constitutional responsibilities but to defer to the mob or to what is perceived to be a majority view and not to make an unpopular decision. But we depend on our courts to make unpopular decisions. They protect us. Courts exist to protect individual rights. They do not exist necessarily to protect the interest of the majority from time to time.”

To which Vander Plaats suggested of his fellow Iowans, “This isn’t about the mob, this is about we, the people.”

No Iowa Supreme Court justice has been removed from the bench by a vote of the people in nearly 50 years. But when voters have been given the chance to define marriage in their own states, 30 times out of 30 they’ve chosen to define it as being between a man and a woman, only.

A similar fight also is going on in California. There a homosexual federal judge who ruled that gender “no longer forms an essential part of marriage” struck down the state’s voter-approved Proposition 8 constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman only.

The issue now is before an appellate court.

Judge Vaughn Walker, who a short time after his decision announced he was quitting the bench, said:

Proposition 8 was passed by voters in 2008. In his Aug. 4 decision, Walker declared it violates the rights of homosexuals under the federal Constitution.

SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 04: Members of the group The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence attend a rally to celebrate the ruling to overturn Proposition 8 August 4, 2010 in San Francisco, California. U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker announced his ruling to overturn Proposition 8 finding it unconstitutional. The voter approved measure denies same-sex couples the right to marry in the State of California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Walker’s decision had disregarded the terse warning contained in California Supreme Court Justice Marvin Baxter’s dissenting opinion in a 2008 case on same-sex “marriage.” That case saw same-sex “marriage” imposed by judicial fiat on the state, a result that was reversed by the Prop 8 vote.

Baxter had warned of the “legal jujitsu” required to establish same-sex “marriage” by court order.

“The bans on incestuous and polygamous marriages are ancient and deeprooted, and, as the majority suggests, they are supported by strong considerations of social policy,” Baxter warned in his dissent. “Our society abhors such relationships, and the notion that our laws could not forever prohibit them seems preposterous. Yet here, the majority overturns, in abrupt fashion, an initiative statute confirming the equally deeprooted assumption that marriage is a union of partners of the opposite sex. The majority does so by relying on its own assessment of contemporary community values, and by inserting in our Constitution an expanded definition of the right to marry that contravenes express statutory law.

“Who can say that, in 10, 15 or 20 years, an activist court might not rely on the majority’s analysis to conclude, on the basis of a perceived evolution in community values, that the laws prohibiting polygamous and incestuous marriages were no longer constitutionally justified?” Baxter wrote.

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What the Founders knew: Faith enhances freedom

Susan Klobe, right, and her husband, Wayne Klobe, of Ferguson, Mo., attend a Tea Party rally in St. Louis last month.
By Thomas S. Kidd

The Tea Party movement seems conflicted about religion. Prominent Tea Partiers, including Glenn Beck, have steered away from the usual priorities of Christian conservatives: restrictions on abortion, gay marriage, and the like. But in other ways, we see evidence of religion’s importance to the Tea Party: Beck’s summer rally in Washington, D.C., focused almost exclusively on a return to America’s heritage of faith, and a recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute suggested that Christian conservatives represent the core of the Tea Party.

This identity crisis reflects a deeper question about religion’s role in public life: Does faith restrict or enhance our freedom? Some might believe that the Tea Party’s emphasis on liberty over moral restrictions represents a repudiation of the traditional agenda of the Religious Right. But instead, the Tea Party may actually represent a return of religious conservatism to its origins in Revolutionary America, when the Founding Fathers universally paired religion and freedom.

Alexis de Tocqueville, the brilliant French writer who toured America in the 1830s in preparation for his magnum opus, Democracy in America, was struck by the difference between American and French notions of freedom. The American Patriots viewed religion as essential to freedom, while French radicals saw religion as freedom’s enemy. Yet the French Revolution descended into massive bloodletting, and concluded with military rule under Napoleon, while the Americans successfully created and sustained a republic without horrific violence (until the Civil War, of course). Tocqueville believed that Americans’ friendliness to religion made all the difference, for faith kept the worst excesses of liberty in check. In America, Tocqueville wrote, “freedom sees religion as its companion.”

An adhesive force

The Founding Fathers considered faith and freedom as companions in several senses. First, they believed that religion seasoned freedom with compassion for one’s fellow man. Absolute freedom would lead people into moral chaos. Founders such as James Madison and George Washington knew that people were naturally inclined to oppress their neighbor, because of what Washington called the “love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart.” To Washington, the health — and liberty — of the republic depended on religion, which had a unique power to inculcate moral responsibility.

The Founders believed, secondly, that a respect for religious freedom and religious strength was one of the primary bases for American unity. Even Thomas Jefferson, personally skeptical about Christianity, saw faith as an adhesive force among the broad diversity of Americans. The Patriots had severed their historic connection to England, and the American government was far too small to create a sense of national commonality on its own. Where was a basis for their new civil society? Faith offered a solution.

Jefferson’s first inaugural address in 1801 extolled Americans’ “benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter — with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people?” Despite his own doubts about Christianity, Jefferson showed charity toward people of different faiths in his staunch defense of religious freedom, a cause in which he found his primary allies among evangelical Christians, especially Baptists, who bitterly remembered their pre-war persecution by several of the colonial governments.

Where God comes in

Finally, the Founders saw God as the basis for Americans’ right to freedom, as Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights. Again, Jefferson the skeptic was not making some specifically Christian claim about freedom, but merely stating the widely assumed theological truth that our fundamental right to freedom and equality was based on our common creation by God.

The original Tea Partier, Samuel Adams, the organizer of the crowd that infamously dumped hundreds of chests of British tea into Boston harbor in 1773, took as strong a view of the connection between religion and liberty as any of the Patriots. Religion fueled virtue, Adams wrote, and “the public liberty will not long survive the total extinction of morals.”

The religious conservatives of the Tea Party surely have not abandoned their traditional emphasis on the way that morality should limit freedom. The culture wars are hardly dead. But if, in this election cycle, they highlight liberty’s roots in religion, the Tea Partiers may help us recall Tocqueville’s older notion that freedom and faith are companions.

Thomas S. Kidd is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University. He is the author of God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution.

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Indiana legislators want to defund Kinsey Institute

By Brian Fitzpatrick
© 2010 WorldNetDaily

In light of voluminous evidence that pioneering sexologist Alfred Kinsey and his associates were guilty not only of scientific fraud but serious criminality – culminating this week with WND’s exposé of one victim of Kinsey’s notorious “child sexuality” studies conducted by pedophile “researchers” – Indiana legislators are calling for the defunding of the Kinsey Institute, located on the campus of state-subsidized Indiana University.

State representatives Cindy Noe and Woody Burton emphasized that any effort to cut off the Kinsey Institute hinges on electing Republican majorities in the state legislature.

“I don’t think the Kinsey Institute is a proper use of taxpayer money. Given the pressure that higher education is under now I can’t think of a better time to defund them,” said Noe.

Burton has spearheaded efforts in the past to defund the Kinsey Institute. The veteran legislator noted that gerrymandered districts have kept Democrats in power in the state legislature, frustrating Republican attempts to bring Kinsey funding to a vote.

Noe and Burton’s assessment was echoed by an optimistic Micah Clark, executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana, who recently circulated an e-mail to Indiana state legislators requesting that money for the Kinsey Institute be blocked.

“After November we’ll have a good legislature that will listen. This is the kind of material our taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be supporting,” said Clark.

“The last time I tried to defund them, their budget was $666,000,” Burton told WND. “That number was quite a joke in the Indiana House.”

“I went down to that place and toured it. It’s just a pit. It’s just a porno pit. They’ve got rooms where they take the college students in and show them pornography and do things to them. It’s just disgusting; and they sit there and try to tell you it’s just science.

“They perform sex,” Burton explained. “They have a room and they send a girl in and insert a thing in her and measure her sexual stimulation. They have another room for boys. They have displays of all the sex toys throughout history, and they act like that’s OK. I said this is trash, and they resented my saying it.”

Burton noted that much of the Kinsey collection of sexual paraphernalia and research files are not open to the public – not even to the state legislators who fund it.

“I was trying to get a legislative order to go in and see that stuff. A video was sent to me about this guy on the Kinsey Institute board, who said they have a system set up to destroy their files immediately if anybody tries to get in to see it with a court order. ”

Clark has long been a leader in social conservative efforts to cut off the Kinsey Institute state subsidies.

“We have battled with Indiana’s legislature for years to stop supplying money to Indiana University for the Kinsey Institute,” Clark told WND.

“The Kinsey Institute has shaped the policies of SIECUS and Planned Parenthood, and their version of sex education has now infiltrated our schools,” Clark told WND. “The other side wears that as a badge of honor. We view that as a badge of shame.”

“Kinsey is a known child molester all over Indiana,” Clark added.

Clark believes next year could be the year his efforts to shut down the Kinsey Institute could bear fruit, as he expects the Indiana legislature will mount an investigation of the Institute based on the new reporting on Kinsey’s connections with pedophiles.

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