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Showing posts with label First Amendment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label First Amendment. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

South Carolina Charter School Reverses Ban on Christmas Carols; Alliance Defending Freedom Sends Letter to 13,000 School Districts Explaining "Free Exercise" of Faith is Still Permitted

Letter explains First Amendment protections for Christmas expression, participation

This Rock Hill, South Carolina charter school has reversed a previous ban on Christmas carols.
Alliance Defending Freedom issued a letter Wednesday to more than 13,000 school districts nationwide to explain constitutional protections for religious Christmas carols that some districts have censored due to misinterpretations of the First Amendment. The letter also backs up the legitimacy of schools participating in community service projects sponsored by religious organizations and offers free legal assistance to districts that need help.

“Schools shouldn’t have to think twice about whether they can celebrate Christmas,” said Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “School districts can and should allow religious Christmas carols to be part of their school productions, and they can lawfully help impoverished children through community service projects such as Operation Christmas Child.”

The letter cites recent examples of school districts in Wisconsin and New Jersey that wrongly censored Christmas carols in school productions and then changed their positions in response to public outcry and letters from Alliance Defending Freedom explaining that the inclusion of religious carols is permissible.

As the letter explains, “every federal court that has examined the issue has determined that including traditional Christmas carols and other religious music in school music programs fully complies with the First Amendment….”

Most recently, a South Carolina charter school reportedly cancelled its participation in Samaritan Purse’s Operation Christmas Child, a toy drive for needy children, after a humanist group threatened the school with legal action.

“Public schools’ confusion about this issue and the legalities of celebrating Christmas in other ways has been largely caused by inaccurate information about the Establishment Clause spread by certain groups opposed to any religious expression occurring in public,” the nationwide letter states. “Alliance Defending Freedom has produced a Christmas Memo and a Christmas and Public Schools Myths/Fact Sheet that dispel these misconceptions….

Providing students an opportunity to put together a box of gifts for impoverished children throughout the world does not become unlawful just because the toy drive is sponsored by a religious organization.”

“The Constitution both allows and protects the celebration of Christmas in public schools,” added Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “We hope the materials we are providing to school districts will help clear up the misinformation that groups attempting to cleanse all traces of religion from the public square have spread for far too long.”

A December 2011 Rasmussen poll found that 79 percent of American adults believe public schools should celebrate religious holidays.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

US Military Blocking Southern Baptist Web Site?

Access to the web site of the Southern Baptist Convention has been blocked on US military bases, because of an official judgment that the site carries "hostile content," Fox News has reported. 

It was not clear how many military bases had blocked the Southern Baptist site. A member of the military reported that he had been unable to reach the site, and had been warned that his attempt to access material from the Southern Baptist Convention had been recorded. 

The Southern Baptist Convention represents the largest single Protestant group in the US, and generally takes conservative positions on issues such as homosexuality and abortion. 

The report of blocking of the Southern Baptist site comes shortly after a report that a Pentagon official had classified Catholicism as a form of extremism. 

Additional sources for this story Some links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Lindsey Graham’s War on Freedom

By Jack Hunter

When Florida pastor Terry Jones decided to “send a message” to Muslims by burning a Koran last week, it incited outrage and violence throughout the Arab world. American leaders rightly responded by condemning the senseless and dangerous act. Yet in the end, and despite the pastor’s obvious and irresponsible recklessness, Jones used his free speech and political leaders used theirs. Such is the nature of free expression in a free society.

But one politician’s condemnation of Jones contained a suggested remedy far more dangerous to American freedom than burning the Koran. Said Sen. Lindsey Graham on CBS’ Face the Nation:
Yeah, I wish we could find some way to hold people accountable. Free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war. During World War II you had limits on what you could say if it would inspire the enemy.
Certainly the Founding Fathers considered free speech more than just a mere “great idea” but one of the bedrock principles of our republic, even enshrining it in the first amendment to our Constitution. That Graham would be willing to capitulate to radical Islamists by curtailing this precious freedom is particularly astounding when you consider that the Senator consistently and adamantly opposes curtailing the one policy that unquestionably “inspires the enemy” more than any other. In fact, when it comes to looking out for America’s proper defense and actual security—Lindsey Graham is arguably the most ass-backward politician alive today.

Friday, October 15, 2010

California School District Sued over Threat to Terminate Principal for Endorsing Prayer Breakfast

From LifeSiteNews

An elementary school principal is filing a lawsuit against the Goleta Union School District after it threatened to end his contract for appearing in a short video promoting the 52nd Annual Community Prayer Breakfast to honor teachers.

Foothill School Principal Craig Richter, an evangelical Christian, was disciplined by his district after a district board member saw the promo video on YouTube and reported it to the board, according to the complaint. The school district said that Richter’s 30-second speech in the video violated the line of separation between church and state.

“Personally endorsing a prayer event that invites people of all faiths to honor teachers should not be twisted into a constitutional violation,” said William Rehwald, Richter’s lead counsel in the case. “Principal Richter did a good thing, not a bad thing, and should keep his job.”

Rehwald is an attorney with Rehwald, Glasner and Chaleff in Woodland Hills, California, who is also supported by the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian public interest firm, in the case against the Goleta Union School District.

Richter himself did not participate in the prayer breakfast, which was open to all religious faiths. The event’s organizers decided that this year’s theme would be to honor teachers. Organizers of the prayer breakfast designed the video to promote the prayer breakfast to local business owners who might also wish to honor teachers.

Richter made the ad in March and appeared for 30 seconds along with a Santa Barbara-area school superintendent and a local teacher.

However district officials claim that Richter identified himself in the video as a principal of the school district, implying their official support. The suit contends that Richter only represented himself as a local educator, the principal of Foothill School.

According to the complaint, Richter and other Foothill School educators did not attend the prayer breakfast because the district decided not to participate. Additionally, it says the district cited traffic safety concerns, possible lateness from teachers returning to their classrooms, but gave no indication that they had concerns about promoting religion.

“It’s ridiculous to punish and fire a Christian administrator simply because he wanted to honor teachers at an event that includes prayer,” commented Joseph Infranco Senior Counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, which is supporting the case. “Principal Richter did absolutely nothing wrong by appearing in the ad, which welcomed all Santa Barbara community members to join the half-century-old community event. The district’s contention that he was somehow violating the Constitution is not only unfounded, but absurd, as the video itself demonstrates.”

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Oath Keepers Withdraws from Virginia Open Carry Rally

Oath Keepers, Inc., a network of America's finest patriots, and one with which we are proud to be affiliated, has withdrawn from an open carry "Restore the Constitution" rally in Virginia next week.

As with alleged incidents when ObamaCare Democrats provocatively walked among those protesting the socialized medicine being forced down America's throat, radical left-wing activists of the Alinsky school infiltrate peaceful and legitimate protests with the intention of using foul language and provoking incidents that will reflect badly on conservatives exercising their First Amendment rights. Since the President is a trained practitioner of the Alinsky method, we should expect these tactics from the Administration and all those former colleagues of his in ACORN.

There is truly a cultural war underway for the future of America, and this year is pivotal. The good news is there are millions of patriots, like those in Oath Keepers, who are wise to what the Marxists are up to. Following is Oath Keepers announcement regarding the Virginia rally:

The Board of Directors of Oath Keepers, Inc. has decided against participating in the "Restore the Constitution" rally in Virginia near Washington D.C. scheduled for April 19, 2010. That rally is organized by a very honorable U.S. Marine Corps veteran who saw combat in Iraq, and who is also a patriotic member in Oath Keepers. The organizer is Daniel Almond of the Georgia Oath Keepers Chapter. Oath Keepers salutes Daniel Almond for organizing this pro-Constitution rally.

Oath Keepers endorses Americans' protected right to keep, and bear, arms. In keeping with our stance, Oath Keepers' representatives have recently performed oath ceremonies at open-carry rallies at several State capitols, including before the capitol buildings in Kentucky and Montana. We fully support the right of Americans to peaceably assemble and publicly exercise their right to bear arms right along with their right to free speech, association, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.

However, because of published statements by some participants in the upcoming Virginia rally, Oath Keepers as an organization feels that a confrontational stance, such as has been published, places this event, in public perception, outside the terms of our stated and published mission. The mission of Oath Keepers is not to confront the government. Instead, our mission is to reach out to people within government - to police, military, firefighters and first responders - to teach them about their obligations under the oath they took to defend the Constitution, to increase their knowledge of the Constitution, and to inspire them to defend it by refusing to obey unconstitutional, unlawful orders. That's it. And if we can reach enough of them with that message, it could prevent possible future egregious violations of the Bill of Rights in a very peaceful way. Confronting the government is not included in the Oath Keepers stated and published mission and as an educational organization focused on the current serving, Oath Keepers refrains from confrontation in deed and rhetoric.

Oath Keepers wishes Daniel Almond and all his supporters a fruitful and meaningful rally. Oath Keepers is not asking our membership to withdraw from attendance, but Oath Keepers is formally asking all Oath Keeper members who attend to do so as individuals, not as representatives of Oath Keepers. We are further requesting that Oath Keeper gear and garments not be worn at this event.

Oath Keepers shall, as planned, participate in the Washington D.C. Second Amendment March on April 19 ( and shall offer the public an Oath Keepers ceremony in which citizens can themselves stand and reverently take an oath to defend the Constitution right along with current and prior service police, military, and fire personnel (who will be renewing their oaths), all together as patriotic Americans. Please see our banner announcement for this march in Washington D.C. on April 19, 2010, at

Stewart Rhodes, Founder and National President, Oath Keepers, Inc.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

School Prayer Order 'Blatantly Unconstitutional'

From OneNewsNow
By Bill Bumpas

school prayerA school prayer case in Florida has elevated into "nuclear war," declares one Christian attorney.

Liberty Counsel is representing Christian Educators Association International (CEAI) in a lawsuit against the Santa Rosa County School District after a federal judge denied CEAI's request to overturn a consent decree requiring faculty and staff to stop expressing their faith in public schools.

Matt StaverMat Staver with Liberty Counsel tells OneNewsNow that the superintendent caved to pressure applied by the American Civil Liberties Union, and now this consent decree is putting the clamps on religious expression.

"A teacher, if she or he gets an email from a parent and the parent has 'God bless you' or scripture anywhere in the email, the teacher is prohibited from responding to that email without first taking out those words," Staver explains.

He adds that in another instance "one of the administrative assistants said that they are afraid to even pray with each other in their own cubicles for fear that they will be targets of contempt under this order."

The Liberty Counsel attorney calls the order "blatantly unconstitutional” and is confident that it will be overturned by an appellate court.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Bill Would Give President Emergency Control of Internet

From CNet News
By Declan McCullagh

Internet companies and civil liberties groups were alarmed this spring when a U.S. Senate bill proposed handing the White House the power to disconnect private-sector computers from the Internet.

They're not much happier about a revised version that aides to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, have spent months drafting behind closed doors. CNET News has obtained a copy of the 55-page draft of S.773 (excerpt), which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency.

The new version would allow the president to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" relating to "non-governmental" computer networks and do what's necessary to respond to the threat. Other sections of the proposal include a federal certification program for "cybersecurity professionals," and a requirement that certain computer systems and networks in the private sector be managed by people who have been awarded that license.

"I think the redraft, while improved, remains troubling due to its vagueness," said Larry Clinton, president of the Internet Security Alliance, which counts representatives of Verizon, Verisign, Nortel, and Carnegie Mellon University on its board. "It is unclear what authority Sen. Rockefeller thinks is necessary over the private sector. Unless this is clarified, we cannot properly analyze, let alone support the bill."

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Virginians Call for New Statute for Religious Freedom

By Stephen Strehle

In 1786, our state passed the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which disestablished the Anglican Church. The statute rejected the notion of supporting certain religious denominations and excluding certain people by law from participating in the political process, at least based on their profession of faith. The statute made a monumental contribution to the cause of liberty in the state and helped inspire the disestablishment clause in the U.S. Constitution, which says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

Through this amendment, the country decided to distance itself from Mother England and reject the practice of exalting a certain denomination of the church through the power of the national government.

But neither document went so far as to establish an "a-theocracy" in its place and eliminate religious influence from the government. The Virginia Statute and the U.S. Constitution rejected any prior commitment to certain religious groups and their ongoing status, but never pretended that religion and its deconstruction provide no contribution to the people's concept of government or deserve no provisional representation in public.

Since those days, secular forces have worked to create their own hegemony by separating religious people, along with their ideas and symbols, from representation in the government. Secular jurists like Hugo Black and Felix Frankfurter found religion destructive to the government and sentenced its activities to the margins of society, using the United States Supreme Court to erect a "wall between church and state," which is "high and impregnable."

In subsequent cases, the court tried to maintain the wall, but its decisions lacked consistency in trying to do the impossible — separate religious affections from the nation's statutes (morals), symbols, ceremonies and policies. Eventually, in 1971 the court admitted its wall was more like a "line," which seemed "blurred, indistinct, and variable," and in recent cases, it has shown more sympathy toward religious people by granting them some access to public facilities and funding.

Today the court's decisions no longer display the open hostility of the wall, but still labor under an unfair and unclear distinction that seeks to privilege secularity.

This is why the citizens of our state need to support a New Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. Secularism is now the enemy of religious freedom, not the Anglican Church.

The new statute is needed to update the old in light of the current threat to religious liberty and provide clear direction to the nation as it did in the past. The purpose of the statute is found in granting religious people access to the public square and recognizing the importance of religion in our civil lives.

The statute rejects the muddled thinking of the Supreme Court in its attempt to define, distinguish and untangle what is secular and sacred, playing a ridiculous name game. It finds a better and fairer distinction by rejecting any guarantees that ensure a permanent place of privilege for any specific religious profession, while honoring and representing the valuable contribution of religion in shaping the civil government.

All of this might not matter if the government stayed within its original, limited role, but the situation has changed dramatically. In an age of large and increasing government, religious people can no longer sit back in their decreasing margin in society and watch their communities fold while the state promotes secularity.

The time is right to press the issue with the election of politicians like Barack Obama and Tim Kaine, who recognize the importance of their own religious affections in shaping their political lives.

You can check out the new statute and its rationale at our Web site: Please join us and help our effort to pass the statute.

Strehle is an associate professor of philosophy and religion at Christopher Newport University. He has written a number of books and articles, the latest of which, "The Egalitarian Spirit of Christianity: The Sacred Roots of American and British Government," was published by Transaction Publishers.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Neuhaus on the Election and Freedom of Religion

The following reflection by Father Richard Neuhaus is an excellent summation of why this election is pivotal and of such great concern to people of faith.

Why this Election is About the Freedom of Religion

By Richard John Neuhaus

One can argue that every presidential election is a “historic” election. But some are more historic than others. Daniel Henninger had a provocative column yesterday making a strong case that this one is a “tipping point” between America continuing as an entrepreneurial society or going the way of the European “social democracies.” He cites the late Senator Pat Moynihan who said the big difference between Europe and America is that the former gives priority to equality and the latter to liberty. I’m not sure that Henninger is right in saying there would be no turning back after four or eight years of President Obama and an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress imposing their passion for a government-directed program of redistribution and social coordination, but the future he depicts is both plausible and ominous.

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