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Showing posts with label Freedom of Religion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Freedom of Religion. Show all posts

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Fortnight for Freedom 2013 Launched on Feast of St. Thomas More

2013 Fortnight for Freedom: June 21 to July 4

The U.S. bishops have called for a Fortnight for Freedom, a two-week period of prayer and action, to address many current challenges to religious liberty, including the August 1, 2013 deadline for religious organizations to comply with the HHS mandate, Supreme Court rulings that could attempt to redefine marriage in June, and religious liberty concerns in areas such as immigration and humanitarian services.
We should be free to preach the gospel, we should be free to help the poor in Christ's name, we should be free to heal the sick in Christ's name, we should be free to educate in Christ's name, and now we are being told for the first time that the government has the right to tell us that our ministries are now public services without religious reference… It's chilling and difficult for me to live with that my own government is now saying that what you thought you could do, namely exercise your religion freely as you define it, now depends upon how we define what you do. This isn't just the bishops, we have Catholic University, Notre Dame University, and many others who are saying "You are robbing of us of our identity as Catholics."
– Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Church is Under-Appreciated Says the Queen

Speaking at the first public event to mark her Diamond Jubilee Year, and in contrast with America's own Diocletian, Queen Elizabeth today reflected upon "the importance of faith in creating and sustaining communities all over the United Kingdom."

By Victoria Ward
In a timely address to leaders of Britain's nine main religions at Lambeth Palace, London home of the Archbishop of Canterbury, she highlighted the importance of faith in society and the "critical guidance" it offered in life.

"The concept of our established Church is occasionally misunderstood and, I believe, commonly under-appreciated," she said.

"Its role is not to defend Anglicanism to the exclusion of other religions. Instead, the Church has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

School Group Told Not to Pray on U.S. Supreme Court Steps

From LifeSiteNews
By James Tillman

Earlier this year police reportedly told a Christian school teacher who was leading her students in quiet, private prayer on the steps of the Supreme Court building that she was not permitted to pray there.

The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a Christian legal association, has sent a letter to Supreme Court officials threatening legal action unless the Supreme Court police retract their policy and permit the teacher to exercise her constitutionally-protected right to the free exercise of religion.

“Christians shouldn’t be silenced for exercising their beliefs through quiet prayer on public property,” said Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Nate Kellum. “The last place you’d expect this kind of obvious disregard for the First Amendment would be on the grounds of the U.S. Supreme Court itself, but that’s what happened.”

On May 5, Mrs. Maureen Rigo, a teacher at Wickenberg Christian Academy in Arizona, was taking an educational tour of the Capitol with ten students and three other parents. The first stop for the day was the front steps of the Supreme Court, where they took a few pictures before quietly gathering on the bottom level of the steps to pray.

According to ADF they were holding no signs and speaking only in a conversational tone; nevertheless, a court police officer quickly approached them and told them to stop.

“Ma’am, I’m not going to tell you that you can’t pray, but you can’t do it here," he said, according to Mrs. Rigo. "Please go somewhere else.”

She asked, "Since when?"

He answered, "This week."

The group then moved off the steps of the Supreme Court building and began to pray on the streets.

Their prayer was stopped based on statute 40 U.S.C. §6135, which pertains to parades and protests.

It forbids acting in a way meant "to bring into public notice a party, organization, or movement" on the Supreme Court building grounds.

The ADF, however, claims that it is absurd to say that 40 U.S.C. §6135 would forbid the sort of prayer in which the school group was engaged.

"Mrs. Rigo's prayers were not communicated to anyone outside of God and her very small group," the letter argues.

"Her prayers are akin to routine conversations conducted by any other small group of persons touring the Supreme Court grounds."

It continues: "Likewise, Mrs. Rigo was not engaging in a parade, procession, or assembly. She was speaking in a conversational level to those around her with her head bowed."

This means, according to the ADF, that the police officer had "targeted a particular viewpoint for censorship."

"They have singled out and censored religious prayer as the only form of conversation to be silenced," the letters states.

Unless Supreme Court officials inform Mrs. Rigo that she may engage in quiet prayer on the Supreme Court grounds within three weeks, the letter says she will have no choice but to take legal action to ensure that her constitutional rights are not infringed.

Mrs. Rigo and the students, however, say that they at least found the experience educational. The following day they toured the Holocaust Museum.

“Some [students] commented on the way the horror in Germany began so simply with the removal of rights for the Jews while so many others looked the other way,” Mrs. Rigo wrote in an article for the Sonoran News. Other students questioned whether similar policies for Christians were beginning in America.

She finished by saying that students at least learned that “now, more than ever before, they need to be praying for our country.”

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Desert Cross

In a 5 - 4 majority opinion filed today, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the continued display of a lone cross in the Mojave Desert memorializing veterans of World War I.

Faith and Action, a Washington, DC-based Christian mission to government officials, had joined with other groups in support of the display located in a lonely stretch of desert near Barstow, California. In a legal brief filed with the Supreme Court, Faith and Action argued that the cross did not violate the First Amendment, as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had found.

Rev. Rob Schenck, president of Faith and Action, had visited the cross last year. he was at the Supreme Court this morning when the decision was announced by Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy who authored the opinion. Rev. Schenck said,

"This is a victory for the First Amendment and for the rights of citizens, including veterans, to use meaningful symbols like the cross in public displays. It's not just common sense, it's in keeping with our most cherished beliefs, customs and values. This is a day to thank God for our freedoms in this country and for judges that have the integrity to uphold them."
Joining in the majority were Justices Kennedy, Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas. Justices Stevens, Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Breyer filed dissenting opinions.

Friday, April 16, 2010

U.S. Court: National Day of Prayer is Unconstitutional

From LifeSiteNews
By John Jalsevac

In a decision released Thursday, U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb declared the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional. The decision comes in the case filed by The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a Wisconsin-based organization, which challenged the constitutionality of a 1988 federal law giving the president the authority to designate the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer.

The day of prayer "goes beyond mere 'acknowledgment' of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context," Crabb wrote. "In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience."

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) which represented 31 members of Congress in an amicus brief defending the National Day of Prayer, said that the decision is flawed and expressed confidence that it will be overturned.

"It is unfortunate that this court failed to understand that a day set aside for prayer for the country represents a time-honored tradition that embraces the First Amendment, not violates it," said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ.

"This decision runs counter to well established legal precedent and we're confident that this flawed decision ultimately will be overturned.”

Sekulow said that ACLJ will be appealing the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. If the appeals court refuses to overturn the decision, Sekulow said that the ACLJ will bring it before the Supreme Court.

He said he is conficdent that the Supreme Court would “ultimately determine that such proclamations and observances like the National Day of Prayer not only reflect our nation's rich history, but are indeed consistent with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment."

In its brief filed with the federal district court in Madison, Wisconsin, the ACLJ represented itself and 31 members of the 111th Congress – including Rep. J. Randy Forbes of Virginia, who chairs the Congressional Prayer Caucus.

The ACLJ brief noted that the country has a long history of recognizing a national day of prayer dating back to the late 1700's with the Continental Congress recommending that the states set apart a day for prayer and thanksgiving. The brief states that "the historical evidence establishing a National Day of Prayer as deeply embedded in the tradition and history of this country is indisputable."

The ACLJ represented the following U.S. Representatives who are serving in the 111th Congress: J. Randy Forbes, Robert B. Aderholt, Michele Bachmann, Roscoe G. Bartlett, John A. Boehner, John Boozman, Eric Cantor, K. Michael Conaway, Mary Fallin, Virginia Foxx, Trent Franks, Scott Garrett, Louie Gohmert, Wally Herger, Peter Hoekstra, Walter B. Jones, Jim Jordan, Doug Lamborn, Thaddeus G. McCotter, Patrick T. McHenry, Mike McIntyre, Jeff Miller, Sue Wilkins Myrick, Randy Neugebauer, Pete Olson, Mike Pence, Joseph R. Pitts, Heath Shuler, Adrian Smith, Lamar Smith, and Joe Wilson.

The ACLJ amicus brief is available here:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

EU "Equality" Directive an "Instrument of Oppression" Against Religious Believers: UK Bishops

From LifeSiteNews
By Hilary White

Left without amendment, an impending EU directive could be used as an "instrument of oppression" aimed at religious believers by homosexualist activists and other anti-Christian groups, say the Catholic Bishops of England, Wales and Scotland. In a 1200-word document that is being presented as part of a public consultation, the bishops are asking for provisions that "differences of treatment" will not be considered discriminatory "where such differences are required to enable a religious body to function in accordance with its ethos."

The EU's proposed Equal Treatment Directive is ostensibly intended to "harmonize" and enforce existing rules on discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, age, religious belief and disability that are currently outside the scope of employment law. But the bishops have warned that the rules will accomplish the stated goals by suppressing the more fundamental rights of freedom of expression and religion.

In a media release from the Catholic Communications Network, the English bishops' official news service, Archbishop Peter Smith, chair of the Department of Christian Responsibility and Citizenship, said, "The Catholic Church supports the underlying moral principle of the draft Directive, but has serious concerns about possible unintended consequences which could have the effect of limiting the right of the Church and its members to act in accordance with Catholic belief."

The rules could lead, the document says, to situations in which churches and religious institutions will have no power to run their own activities in accordance with their religious beliefs. The document was signed by Monsignor Andrew Summersgill, general secretary, Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, who wrote that of particular concern is the definition of "harassment," which depends upon the subjective experience of a complainant.

Article 2 of the Directive defines "harassment" as "unwanted conduct with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment." This loose definition and subjective requirement, the bishops say, could lead to anyone making a claim of "harassment" based on the mere public display of Christian symbols or worship.

"Homosexual groups campaigning for same-sex marriage may declare themselves to be offended by the presentation of the Catholic Church's moral teaching on marriage. An atheist may be offended by religious pictures in an art gallery, or a Muslim may be offended by any picture representing the human form," Summersgill wrote.

The Church is not asking for special exemptions, but only the recognition of existing considerations such as the recognition of the validity of "risk assessments based on age or disability in relation to financial services."

As it is currently worded, the Directive would have the effect, Summersgill said, of dictating to religious bodies which beliefs they may hold. Summersgill wrote, "What the Church is seeking from this Directive is simply the right to maintain its own teaching and activities with integrity, according to its own ethos."

Article 13 of the Directive requires Member States to ensure that "any internal rules of undertakings, and rules governing profit or non-profit-making associations contrary to the principle of equal treatment are, or may be, declared null and void or are amended." This, said Summersgill, will have the effect of "requiring Catholic organizations to act against their ethos," citing the examples of Catholic-sponsored events, such as conferences, that would be obliged to offer rooms to unmarried or homosexual partners.

Despite such warnings, however, the EU presidency, currently held by Sweden, has indicated they will seek to push the directive through Council in November. Such a directive can only become law if all member states agree to it at a meeting of the council of the EU. In April, the European Parliament voted to accept the Directive but it was altered to drop wording that would have protected religious bodies. MEPs also recommended the removal of wording that would have protected marriage and abortion laws in member states.

Similar "anti-discrimination" legislation in other countries has led to the kind of anti-Christian discrimination warned against by the bishops. Despite existing laws recognizing religious rights in the UK, dozens of cases have come to light in recent years of Christian marriage commissioners, adoptive and foster parents, teachers, policemen, judges, and even school children, who have run afoul of homosexualist campaigners using "equality" legislation to silence and suppress the religious viewpoint.

In Canada, the Human Rights Commissions are coming under increasingly public scrutiny and criticism for the numerous cases in which subjective criteria are used by Commissioners with no legal qualifications to force Christians into silence, often regarding their opinions on homosexuality.

In the US last year, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver warned against proposed anti-discrimination laws, when they include provisions against discrimination on the grounds of "sexual orientation." Chaput specifically mentioned Colorado House Bill 1080, which proposed to forbid religious groups from hiring staff based on their religious beliefs, saying it would result in Catholic Charities having to close its doors.

Read the bishops' statement:

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Court to Decide Whether Campus Evangelism a Crime

From OneNewsNow
By Charlie Butts

The so-called "free-speech code" of Yuba Community College District is under federal court scrutiny.

taped mouthCalifornia student, Ryan Dozier, decided to spend some time on campus sharing his faith and handing out tracts to fellow students, generating conversations about Christianity. Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) attorney Heather Hacker comments on the situation.

"A campus police officer came over and told him that if he continued to do so without a permit that he would be possibly expelled or arrested, and so Ryan stopped immediately," she explains.

Hacker says Dozier thought the case was closed, but he was apparently mistaken. "Three weeks later he got a certified letter from the president of the college stating that his actions were the subject of a campus crime report," she adds. "Last time I checked, sharing your faith on a public college campus was not a crime."

But the letter informed him he could face expulsion if he shared his faith on campus again. ADF filed suit, and a federal judge has ordered the college to suspend enforcement of its highly restricted free speech policies until the lawsuit is resolved.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

ACLU Silencing Praying Coaches

From OneNewsNow.com
By Charlie Butts

Are public school coaches permitted to pray silently alongside their players? The Rutherford Institute is taking this question to the U.S. Supreme Court for a decision.

Coach Marcus Borden ran into trouble with a new policy at East Brunswick High School in New Jersey, which stated that coaches cannot recognize prayers initiated by their players because coaches are public employees and their participation would violate "separation of church and state." Borden told WorldNetDaily that he simply wants to bow his head during the prayer out of respect for his students and his team.

John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute says the school's policy would nullify a tradition that has been part of the high school's pre-game routine for the last 25 years.

"But in our case, all Coach Borden wanted to do was to bow his head silently as the students prayed in the locker room -- sometimes what they call 'take an eagle.' They'd go down on one knee, and he's standing outside behind the circle of players," he explains. "He's not influencing them. He's just listening and really just doing what coaches have done -- since Knute Rockne, by the way."

The Institute won on a lower level, but the ACLU convinced the school district to appeal. "It's a very important case. We've had a lot of people file briefs on our behalf," Whitehead adds. "I think the Supreme Court's going to hear this case. It's going to really set the tone for what can be done in public schools."

Whitehead believes this policy, if it stands, will strip high school teachers and coaches across the nation of their First Amendment and academic rights.

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.

Read the rest of this entry >>

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pastor Becomes IRS Target

From OneNewsNow.com

A group that supports the false philosophy of separation of church and state has filed action against another pastor for having his say about politics.

Bishop Robert E. Smith is senior pastor at Word of Outreach and Christian Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas. Americans United for Separation of Church and State has lodged a complaint against him for endorsing John McCain for president from the pulpit on October 12.

"Bishop Smith knowingly and flagrantly violated the law and has even dared the IRS to investigate him for it," says Americans United leader Barry Lynn in a press release. "I hope the federal tax agency promptly takes him up on that."

But Smith contends the law upon which the complaint was filed with the Internal Revenue Service is unconstitutional.

"Congress cannot make any law that prohibits the free exercise of my faith," the pastor explains. "So a part of my faith as a minister is not only to deal with issues, but to deal with the people who are making the laws that affect the issues -- because I preach a two-sided gospel: the gospel of Christ for salvation, and the gospel of the kingdom for the political stability of its people. So that gets into politics."

The Arkansas pastor remembers a time when pastors could speak freely from the pulpit -- and did. "Well, that's the way it has been," he laments, "but since it's coming out in the form as it is now, a lot of the pastors are getting cold feet and they're backing up."

Smith is one of 33 pastors around the country who have spoken from the pulpit on political candidates and issues as part of Alliance Defense Fund's project to challenge the law and generate a lawsuit to take the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court. Complaints have been filed with the IRS against seven churches so far.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Stand fast, and be not held again under the yoke of bondage.
Galatians 5:1

The "signs of the times" throughout the West become clearer with every passing day. The Fabian Society socialists are accelerating their totalitarian agenda.

Conservative Baptist and traditional Catholic parents in Germany are forced to flee their country because local authorities threaten to seize their homeschooled children.

In Britain a popular blogger faces arrest for sounding the alarm that Islamists, who have killed his friends and have threatened to kill him, place the whole British nation, its people and institutions, in peril.

Here in America, a candidate slinks toward the White House stating that we need to "move beyond" the idea that children belong to their parents. In her "global village" children are the common property of society, and thus the state has the right to send "Certified Parent Educators" into homes to ensure that the state's property is receiving the proper "intellectual development." Once in the home, these "therapeutic interventions" would ensure that families are implementing the UN's "Program of Action" produced at its 1994 population control summit. Perhaps we've seen before what these "therapeutic" home interventions look like:

In Canada, government thought police have interrogated a publisher over cartoons deemed by radical Muslim clerics to be offensive.

The following videos which I discovered on the superb website, Wolf Howling, may seem a bit overwhelming. I assure you that you will count these among the most riveting videos you have ever seen. They are truly shocking in that our Canadian neighbor, a modern, English-speaking country, is actually interrogating people at formal tribunals for what they think, say, and write. The accused provides eloquent testimony as to how freedom loving patriots should respond. The day may not be far off when we will all need his powerful witness.