Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Category Archives: Religion

Christian Flag Will Fly Tomorrow in Boston

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, August 2, 2022:  

Following the unanimous Supreme Court ruling in Shurtleff v. City of Boston, Camp Constitution will fly its Christian flag on one of the three flagpoles outside Boston City Hall on Wednesday morning.

It will be the last time any such flag will fly there, as Boston has changed its rules, thanks to the Supreme Court decision.

The implications are immense, and reach further than many expected. The city declined Camp Constitution’s initial request five years ago for fear that it would somehow violate the faux “separation of church and state” mantra adopted by anti-Christian forces.

Simply put, the faux reasoning is based on a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to a religious group. There was no other basis for thinking that the Founders meant to keep Christianity from having an influence in American culture. There is no phrase “separation of church and state” in the Constitution, nor can it be found elsewhere in America’s founding documents.

The Supreme Court, however, ruled that Boston’s defense was faulty, and that the city violated Camp Constitution’s right to free speech when it denied its request to fly the Christian flag from that flagpole five years ago.

The ruling forced Boston to change its rules. It is also forcing numerous towns, cities, and municipalities to reconsider their own rules, in favor of free speech, and away from concerns over violating the nebulous but dangerous “separation of church and state” thought to be part of the Constitution.

Since 1971, the Supreme Court used something called the “Lemon Test” to handle the cases that came their way: the government (local, state, or federal) violated the Constitution unless it met the Lemon Test criteria:

  1. Did it have a secular, or non-religious, purpose?;
  2. Did it advance or inhibit a religion?;
  3. Did it promote an “extreme entanglement” with religion on the government’s part?

As Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in his concurrence in Shurtleff:

This dispute arose only because of a government official’s mistaken understanding of the Establishment Clause.

 

A Boston official believed that the City would violate the Establishment Clause if it allowed a religious flag to briefly fly outside of City Hall as part of the flag-raising program that the City had opened to the public.

 

So Boston granted requests to fly a variety of secular flags, but denied a request to fly a religious flag.

 

As this Court has repeatedly made clear, however, a government does not violate the Establishment Clause merely because it treats religious persons, organizations, and speech equally with secular persons, organizations, and speech in public programs, benefits, facilities, and the like.

 

On the contrary, a government violates the Constitution when (as here) it excludes religious persons, organizations, or speech because of religion from public programs, benefits, facilities, and the like.

 

Under the Constitution, a government may not treat religious persons, religious organizations, or religious speech as second-class.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, in his concurring opinion, made it even clearer:

Lemon sought to devise a one-size-fits-all test for resolving Establishment Clause disputes. That project bypassed any inquiry into the Clause’s original meaning. It ignored longstanding precedents. And instead of bringing clarity to the area, Lemon produced only chaos.

 

In time, this Court came to recognize these problems, abandoned Lemon, and returned to a more humble jurisprudence centered on the Constitution’s original meaning.

 

Yet in this case, the city chose to follow Lemon anyway. It proved a costly decision, and Boston’s travails supply a cautionary tale for other localities and lower courts.

The attack on Christianity continues, despite the high court’s shift to originalism. Wrote Gorsuch:

This is why some still invoke Lemon today. It reflects poorly on us all.

 

Through history, the suppression of unpopular religious speech and exercise has been among the favorite tools of petty tyrants.

 

Our forebears resolved that this Nation would be different. Here, they resolved, each individual would enjoy the right to make sense of his relationship with the divine, speak freely about man’s place in creation, and have his religious practices treated with respect.

The day governments in this country forage for ways to abandon these foundational promises is a dark day for the cause of individual freedom.

The high court has abandoned the Lemon test, to the benefit of all who cherish religious freedom. In recent cases it ruled that a football coach shouldn’t have lost his job merely because he prayed on the football field after a game. It also ruled that religious schools in Maine must be allowed to participate in the state’s voucher system.

The “separation of church and state” canard, promoted for so long by so many opposed to the impact Christianity has on American culture, is now on the wane at the highest court in the land.

And all because of its return to “originalism” — restoring the understanding of the Constitution as its writers originally intended. That’s what makes tomorrow’s flag raising in Boston so important.

Highland Park Shooting: Calls for More Gun Control Miss the Point

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, July 5, 2022:  

The shooting began at 10:45 a.m. on Monday, July 4 — Independence Day in Highland Park, Illinois. The lone gunman, using what police called “a high-powered rifle,” killed six parade watchers and wounded at least 30 others, was captured eight hours later.

On cue anti-gunners polished their scripts. First was Nancy Rotering, Mayor of Highland Park:

Obviously, we have a problem in this country if we have weekly mass shootings involving these weapons of war, and it’s important for us to talk about how to provide … protection on a broader scale, whether it’s statewide … whether it’s nationally.

Right behind Rotering was Illinois Governor JP Pritzker:

If you’re angry today, I’m here to tell you, be angry. I’m furious. I’m furious that yet more innocent lives were taken by gun violence. And I’m furious that their loved ones are forever broken by what took place today.

 

I’m furious that children and their families have been traumatized. I’m furious that this is happening in communities all across Illinois and America. I’m furious because it does not have to be this way. And yet we as a nation, well, we continue to allow this to happen.

Pritzker then zeroed in on guns:

There are going to be people who say that today is not the day, that now is not the time to talk about guns.

 

I’m telling you, there is no better day and no better time than right here and right now.

 

It’s the Fourth of July, a day for reflection on our freedoms. Our founders carried muskets, not assault weapons. And I don’t think a single one of them would have said that you have a constitutional right to an assault weapon with a high-capacity magazine.

Behind Pritzker was the current occupant of the Oval Office whose staff posted a statement over his name on the shooting:

I recently signed the first major bipartisan gun reform legislation in almost thirty years into law, which includes actions that will save lives.

 

But there is much more work to do, and I’m not going to give up fighting the epidemic of gun violence.

The most telling and relevant of all statements came from an attendee of the parade who survived the shooting. Said Angela Sendick: “It’s just crazy [that] no one can figure out how to put a stop to all this.”

More gun laws certainly aren’t the answer. Highland Park is a gun free zone that bans “assault weapons” and “large capacity” magazines.

Illinois, according to Mike Bloomberg’s anti-gun Everytown for Gun Safety, is the state with the most stringent gun laws in the country. It has a red flag law, a waiting period to buy a gun, a law requiring gun owner licensing, “open carry” limitations, among others.

Just purchasing a firearm in Illinois involves the following process:

• Buyer must possess a valid FOID (Firearm Owners Identification) card;

• Buyer must show knowledge of local firearm ordinance requirements;

• Buyer must display a valid FOID card to FFL (Federal Firearms License) dealer prior to handling firearm;

• Buyer must complete Federal Form ATF 4473;

• FFL notifies the Illinois State Police (ISP) to perform a background check in accordance with state and federal laws;

• FFL receives an “Approval” from the ISP to transfer the firearm;

• Buyer must abide by the State of Illinois waiting period before taking possession of the firearm (the waiting period for a long gun is 24 hours and 72 hours for a handgun);

• Upon taking possession of the firearm, the firearm must be unloaded and enclosed in a case to transport.

Police have reported that the shooter obtained his firearm legally.

Conservative Christian radio host Erick Erickson nailed it:

Evil is the absence of God. God does not cause evil. Evil is just that state wherein there is no God of all Creation. Mankind, left to his own devices, is evil….

 

Another young man, white, young, no real family life, lots of warning signs — another in the ongoing pattern of collapsed nuclear families and societal failures — takes a gun and fires into a crowd killing many….

In the absence of any internal moral compass or restraint, says Erickson, “the solution is to take guns away, of course, or whatever fits the political agenda of the loudest voices on television — it’s always guns, never anything else.”

The Founders knew the true nature of man. John Adams said that “our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

James Madison, the primary author of that document, concurred with Adams:

[Our Constitution requires] sufficient virtue among men for self-government. [Otherwise] nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another.

Those chains are continuously being forged following every incident like this one. Without an internal moral compass or restraint the state will apply them externally, and the people will happily trade their former freedom for their newfound security. Princeton professor Robert George, who is also senior fellow at the Witherspoon Institute, put it well: :

People lacking in virtue could be counted on to trade liberty for protection, for financial or personal security, for being looked after, for being taken care of, for having their problems solved quickly. There will always be people occupying or standing for public office who will be happy to offer the deal.

Unless the foundations that originally rested upon individual responsibility and internal moral restraints are restored, then it’s just a matter of time before external tyranny replaces internal restraint.

Football Coach Has First Amendment Right to Pray, Rules the Supreme Court

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, June 28, 2022:  

In its ruling in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District released on Monday, the Supreme Court not only upheld the First Amendment’s guarantee of the right to free speech and the exercise of religion, but it also challenged, for the first time, the canard that the Establishment Clause creates the illusion of “separation of church and state.”

Bremerton School District bought the canard and refused to renew football coach Joe Kennedy’s contract when he persisted in praying on the 50-yard line at the conclusion of each game. The district thought it was avoiding a lawsuit.

Instead it brought on an eight-year-long series of lawsuits that could have been avoided if the district had simply issued a statement that Kennedy wasn’t speaking for the school when he prayed.

Supreme Court Justice Neal Gorsuch reamed the district for not only punishing Kennedy by not renewing his contract, but for deliberately and intentionally making his religious expression its target.

Wrote Gorsuch:

The Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect an individual engaging in a personal religious observance from government reprisal; the Constitution neither mandates nor permits the government to suppress such religious expression.

At issue was Kennedy’s kneeling and praying in public view after each game. This was, in the district’s view, a violation of the separation of church and state. Such view has been pushed for decades, using Thomas Jefferson’s private letter to the Danbury Baptists as the battering ram to remove all religious expression from the culture.

Gorsuch explained:

The contested exercise here does not involve leading prayers with the team; the District disciplined Mr. Kennedy only for his decision to persist in praying quietly without his students after three games in October 2015.

 

In forbidding Mr. Kennedy’s brief prayer, the District’s challenged policies were neither neutral nor generally applicable.

 

By its own admission, the District sought to restrict Mr. Kennedy’s actions at least in part because of their religious character.

 

Prohibiting a religious practice was thus the District’s unquestioned “object.”

Gorsuch concluded:

Respect for religious expressions is indispensable to life in a free and diverse Republic.

 

Here, a government entity sought to punish an individual for engaging in a personal religious observance, based on a mistaken view that it has a duty to suppress religious observances even as it allows comparable secular speech. [Emphasis added]

 

The Constitution neither mandates nor tolerates that kind of discrimination. Mr. Kennedy is entitled to summary judgment on his religious exercise and free speech claims.

Nowhere in the 75-page ruling does the phrase “separation of church and state” appear. But Rachel Laser, the president of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which represented Bremerton, saw the threat clearly enough. In anticipation of the ruling Laser said:

[I]f we lose this case, it would be a radical departure from decades of well-established law protecting students’ religious freedom.

 

We think it would open the door that could be kicked in, in particular in this climate where there’s a real escalation in religious extremists across our country, to allow teachers and coaches to be able to pray again and pressure students to pray in school.

Without this writer commenting on her claim of the “real escalation of religious extremists” except to say that it is highly welcome and timely, Gorsuch answered her charge that those former freedoms to pray in school might be in jeopardy in future court rulings: “That the First Amendment doubly protects religious speech is no accident. It is the natural outgrowth of the framers’ distrust of government attempts to regulate religion and suppress dissent.”

As for Coach Kennedy, it has been a long and difficult eight years. But in his letter to Fox News, he wrote:

No one should be fired from their job just because [he or she] can be seen engaged in private prayer….

 

I hope [the ruling] means that our public school teachers and coaches don’t have to hide their faith from view….

 

Win or lose, when the whistle blows and everyone shakes hands, you’ll find me at the 50-yard line on a knee in private prayer.

Supreme Court Rules Maine’s Discrimination Against Religious Schools Unconstitutional

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, June 22, 2022: 

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Maine’s practice of forbidding parents from choosing religious schooling for their children when paid for with public funds is unconstitutional. Wrote Chief Justice John Roberts for the majority:

Maine’s “nonsectarian” requirement for its otherwise generally available tuition assistance payments violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

 

Regardless of how the benefit and restriction are described, the program operates to identify and exclude otherwise eligible schools on the basis of their religious exercise.

Some 5,000 of Maine’s 180,000 school-age children live in areas where there is no public school. The state has for decades offered tuition assistance to them, allowing their parents to select a nearby school — school choice, in other words — for their kids.

For years, the state has prohibited those parents from selecting a school that teaches religious values. The parents of children discriminated against brought suit — Carson v. Makin — claiming discrimination under the First Amendment.

Having lost their case in lower courts, the parents appealed to the Supreme Court. It took the case, heard the oral arguments in January, and reversed lower courts in their ruling.

While this appears to be a minor skirmish in the war against religion, it is fraught with great significance in the overall battle. For years Thomas Jefferson’s infamous letter to the Danbury Baptists, in which he used the phrase “separation of church and state,” has been used as a hammer by atheists and socialists to discriminate against and ultimately abolish all religious influence in the culture.

In explaining the historic importance of a proper understanding of the Founding Fathers’ intentions, Wallbuilders’ David Barton noted, “The First Amendment was intended to keep government out of regulating religion, but it did not keep religion out of government or the public square.”

In the 6-3 decision Justice Sonia Sotomayor recognized immediately the threat of such high court decisions to remove that hammer from atheists and socialists, falsely claiming, “This Court continues to dismantle the wall of separation between church and state that the Framers sought to build.”

The Wall Street Journal decried the decision, recognizing that threat, referring to the decision as “the latest … by a conservative majority [who are] skeptical of precedents that draw a bright line between church and state.”

The Journal is referring to two recent high court decisions that reflect the Founders’ original intent, including Trinity Lutheran v. Comer and Espinoza v. Montana Dept. of Revenue.

In Trinity Lutheran, money granted by the state of Missouri for playground resurfacing excluded those owned or controlled by a church. Writing for the majority in that case, Chief Justice Roberts said:

The exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution … and cannot stand.

In Espinoza, Roberts wrote again for the majority:

A State need not subsidize private education. But once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.

Jeffrey Toobin, CNN’s legal analyst, saw the mounting threat to the Left’s continuous and deliberate misinterpretation of Jefferson’s phrase, claiming on Twitter that “’Separation of church and state’ is a vanishing concept at the Supreme Court.”

The ACLU also recognized the continuing threat to the false narrative by declaring that “The Supreme Court’s decision today undermines our Constitution’s promise of separation between government and religion.”

Of course, as Barton pointed out, “The phrase ‘separation of Church and State’ cannot be found in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. In fact, it is not found in any of our nation’s founding documents.”

The most egregious attempt to reframe yesterday’s decision came from American Atheists’ attorney Geoffrey Blackwell:

With this decision, the Supreme Court has betrayed our nation’s founding principle that the government should not fund religion, including a religion like Christianity.

 

This court is destroying the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, which protects all Americans — especially atheists and members of minority religions.

Other officials with American Atheists expanded on what they perceived as a threat to the Founders’ intentions. Alison Gill, AA vice president, said:

The religious conservative majority on the Supreme Court is intent on placing the interests of Christians above all others, including individuals’ fundamental rights.

 

These justices will keep working at breakneck speed to undermine nondiscrimination protections, replace public education with a discriminatory religious “education,” and force Americans to fund conservative Christianity and other religions. This will harm countless Americans, especially children.

Of course, a proper reading of the Founders’ original intent reveals no such thing. But the rant from AA by its president, Nick Fish, continued the group’s fabrication:

Extremists are weakening our democracy. Calls to reform and expand the Court to limit the impact of its dangerous Christian nationalist wing will only grow louder, as the Supreme Court tries to establish what can only be described as a theocracy.

Fish did get one part correct:

Today’s decision is appalling, but it isn’t the first and it won’t be the last.

As the war against the nation’s culture includes an attack on its religious freedom, yesterday’s proper ruling in Carson v. Makin is comforting.

Sports Illustrated: SCOTUS Ruling in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District Will Unleash “White Christian Nationalism”

This article was published by TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, June 14, 2022:  

Days before the Supreme Court is likely to issue its ruling in Kennedy v. Bremerton School DistrictSports Illustrated offered its criticism of it in advance. After reviewing “more than 1,000 pages of documents related to the lawsuit and [having] met several times … with [football coach Joseph] Kennedy and his legal team,” author Greg Bishop was ready to make his own ruling in the case: If the high court rules in favor of Kennedy, that ruling will be “a sledgehammer aimed at a bedrock of democracy: the separation of church and state.”

Even worse, such a decision will unleash a wave of “white Christian nationalism” on the nation. Wrote Bishop, “They believe America was created by a preeminence of people like themselves [“white Christian slavers”] and should always have laws in place that reflect America’s origins.”

He quoted Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which represents Bremerton: “That’s what this case is about.… [it’s] a movement that is so determined they are not willing to stop. They are willing to destroy our democracy to achieve their ends.”

She claims that those groups supporting Kennedy through amicus briefs represent a “who’s who of religious extremists in this country.”

It’s all part of a master plan, wrote Bishop, to “redefine church and state.” Previous court rulings prohibiting the teaching of creationism and prayer in schools are likely to be threatened as part of that master plan. Under recent rulings “God,” he complained, “can remain in the Pledge of Allegiance … the federal government can give money to faith-based schools, and … religious groups can discriminate based on their beliefs when hiring.”

“It’s really,” wrote Bishop, “whether church and state should be separated — and where that line of separation should be drawn. Or redrawn. Or removed.”

Kennedy himself is the unlikely “hero” in the drama. For seven years he coached Bremerton High School’s JV football team and helped with the varsity. For years he prayed by himself after each game on the 50-yard-line.

And for seven years, nobody minded. Nobody said anything. Nobody sued. Nobody even threatened to sue.

But when a school administrator paid a public compliment to how the coach was positively impacting the lives of his players, the school board told Kennedy to stop. When he didn’t, the board decided not to renew his contract.

In 2015, he sued to get his job back. That’s when First Liberty entered the fray. Since then, the lawsuit wended its way through the judicial system until it finally was taken on appeal by the Supreme Court in January.

Oral arguments were heard in April and the ruling is expected at any moment.

The ruling is likely to disappoint Bishop. The court has limited itself to answering just two questions:

(1) Whether a public-school employee who says a brief, quiet prayer by himself while at school and visible to students is engaged in government speech that lacks any First Amendment protection; and

(2) Whether, assuming that such religious expression is private and protected by the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses, the Establishment Clause nevertheless compels public schools to prohibit it.

The high court will not visit the issue of the alleged “separation of church and state.” David Barton, founder of Wallbuilders, clarifies that issue:

The early colonists who came to America … made sure that the government, or the State, could not control or limit religious beliefs or activities. This was their understanding of the separation of Church and State….

 

The phrase “separation of Church and State” cannot be found in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. In fact, it is not found in any of our nation’s founding documents. Related to government, the phrase first appeared in a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut in 1801….

 

The Danbury Baptists wrote Thomas Jefferson expressing their concern that the government might try to regulate their religious expression. In response, Jefferson wrote his now famous letter, using the phrase “Separation of Church and State” to reassure the Danbury Baptists that the First Amendment prohibited the government from trying to control religious expression.

 

In short, the First Amendment was intended to keep government out of regulating religion, but it did not keep religion out of government or the public square.

That is what frightens Bishop and groups such as Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Supreme Court originalists may some day restore the original understanding of the relationship between church and state, demanding that tyrants and atheists cease using the government to regulate religion into oblivion via an intentional misreading of Jefferson’s phrase.

Barna: Fewer Than Four in 10 Pastors Hold a Biblical Worldview

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, June 9, 2022:  

The results of a survey of 1,000 Christian pastors by the Cultural Research Center (affiliated with Arizona Christian University) were published last month, revealing that just 37 percent of them hold a Biblical worldview.

George Barna, who headed up the study, defined “Biblical worldview” as believing that

Absolute moral truth exists;

 

The Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches;

 

Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic;

 

A person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works;

 

Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and

 

God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today.

After engaging those 1,000 pastors in phone or online interviews, asking them 54 questions related to their theological worldview, Barna and his associates found the results “shocking.” The survey “shows that a large majority of those pastors do not possess a Biblical worldview.”

Among senior pastors the results are only slightly better, with 41 percent holding a Biblical worldview. Among youth and children’s pastors, however, the results were much worse: Only 12 percent, or one in eight, of them hold a Biblical worldview.

This was most troubling to Barna:

Keep in mind, a person’s worldview primarily develops before the age of 13, then goes through a period of refinement during their teens and twenties.

 

From a worldview perspective, a church’s most important ministers are the Children’s Pastor and the Youth Pastor.

 

Discovering that seven out of every eight of those pastors lack a Biblical worldview helps to explain why so few people in the nation’s youngest generations are developing a heart and mind for Biblical principles and ways of life, and why our society seems to have run wild over the last decade, in particular.

If a majority of so-called Christian pastors don’t hold to a Biblical worldview, what do they believe? Said Barna:

Instead, their prevailing worldview is best described as Syncretism, the blending of ideas and applications from a variety of holistic worldviews into a unique but inconsistent combination that represents their personal preferences.

 

More than six out of 10 pastors (62%) have a predominantly syncretistic worldview.

Syncretism is a hodge-podge of beliefs taken from various non-Christian sources, a “disparate, irreconcilable collections of beliefs and behaviors … a cut-and-paste approach to making sense of, and responding to, life.”

It’s similar to a salad bar: Take a little here, leave the rest — whatever you’re comfortable with or looks most attractive at the moment.

Specifically, syncretism is an unhappy and illogical blending of secular humanism, postmodernism, Marxism, eastern or “new age” mysticism, and nihilism. Barna calls such a blending as an “impure, unrecognizable worldview” compared to a Biblical worldview.

In another study by the Cultural Research Center of 2,000 adults last year, syncretism is the “religion of choice” of almost 90 percent of the American population. At the time Barna wrote that those

Americans embrace points of view or actions that feel comfortable or seem most convenient. Those beliefs and behaviors are often inconsistent, or even contradictory, but few Americans seem troubled by those failings.

There is a ray of light buried in the pastors’ survey:

One group within the general public that is more likely to possess a Biblical worldview than pastors are SAGE Cons (Spiritually Active Governance Engaged Conservative Christians).

 

The American Worldview Inventory 2021 showed that 46% of SAGE Cons have a biblical worldview, a full nine percentage points higher than the incidence among pastors.

SAGE Cons are individuals who are believers in the inerrancy of the Scriptures, active in their pursuit of a closer relationship with Jesus Christ, and passionate about the current state of the culture’s social, political, and moral decline.

The good news is that there are more SAGE Cons than Biblical pastors:

Given that SAGE Cons constitute about 8% of the national adult population and pastors of Christian churches are less than 1% of the general public, SAGE Cons with a biblical worldview are roughly 10 times as numerous as Christian pastors with a biblical worldview.

Exposing the Counterfeit Theology of Progressive Christianity

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, June 2, 2022:  

Franklin Graham, President and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and of Samaritan’s Purse, took on the deceptive progressive theology posing as Christianity in an article published on Wednesday at Decision magazine. He called it “the Eternal Peril,” accurately portraying it as Satan’s lie dating from the serpent’s confrontation with Eve in the Garden of Eden.

The lie, he wrote, “has cropped up in the halls of seminaries, infiltrated the pulpits of thousands of churches, and been propagated by a godless liberal media. It is bent on casting doubt and undermining the foundational principles of God’s Word.”

The counterfeit theology attacks the basic foundational structure of Biblical Christianity at every point, seeking to destroy it and then replace it with a man-centered worldview. On gender identity, Graham writes:

Although Scripture clearly says that marriage is between one man and one woman, proponents of progressive Christianity twist and distort the truth of God’s Word on sexuality, focusing on such nonsensical trends as gender identity.

 

They deny God’s distinction of the sexes, and instead invent their own misguided standards, unguided by the Word of God.

Progressive Christianity rejects God’s plan and replaces it by affirming same-sex marriage. It accepts the use of pornography, one-night stands, and same-sex encounters — virtually any sexual activity as long as it reflects a “concern for each other’s flourishing,” according to promoter Nadia Bolz-Weber.

It accepts Satan’s assurance to Adam and Even in the garden:

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from [the tree of the knowledge of good and evil] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” — Genesis 3:4-5

The fruit was enticing, the promise was enthralling, and the invitation to assert her own independence from God was overwhelming. Her sin was not in itself eating the fruit of the tree; it was her decision to deny God, His warning, and especially His sovereignty.

When she ate and didn’t immediately die, Adam fell for the lie as well, thus fatally infecting their progeny right up to the present day.

From there, Progressive Christianity goes downhill. The Bible isn’t the infallible Word of God, but merely an ancient travelogue, a wonderful work of literature that reflects only what people believed about Him when the words were written thousands of years ago.

It denies Genesis 1:1 (“In the beginning, God”) and replaces it with the lie of evolution. As progressive authors David Felten and Jeff Procter-Murphy wrote:

Far from being fallen creatures trying to return to a mythical Eden, human beings are emerging as a species from more primal and baser instincts to become more responsible and mature beings.

It denies the deity of Christ as the only son of God, and instead considers Him as just a good example to follow, more of a “big brother” than the Creator of the universe “Who made us, and not we ourselves.” (Psalm 100:3).

It denies the crucifixion’s purpose as the only possible redemption for sinners and instead declares that it reveals God as a monster inflicting unspeakable abuse on His own Son. It asks, as did one proponent: “Who originated the Cross? If God did, then we worship a cosmic abuser, who in Divine Wisdom created a means to torture human beings in the most painful and abhorrent manner.”

It reinterprets the resurrection (which it cannot deny) as an example “to show us,” writes believer Alisa Childers, “how to forgive our enemies by allowing Himself to be crucified by an angry mob.”

It denies the total depravity of man, ignoring Biblical revelations such as these:

  • Man’s heart is “deceitful and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9);
  • Man is “dead in transgressions” (Ephesians 2:5);
  • Man loves sin (John 3:19; John 8:34);
  • And therefore, he will not seek God (Romans 3:10-11);
  • Because he loves the darkness (John 3:19);
  • The depraved lifestyle embraced by Progressive Christianity reflects the gospel of Christ as foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18);
  • Because it is unable to accept it (Romans 8:7).

The deception of Progressive Christianity is fueled by its attractiveness, seeming to many as an option to the true faith — more acceptable, more likeable, more palatable in an increasingly sinful and declining world. Progressive Christianity is, as Will Vining noted in The Christian Post, is “most deceiving when it looks and feels like the Truth.”

Graham ended his post with this reminder from the apostle Paul’s letter to his protégé, Timothy (2 Timothy 4:2-5):

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

States Preparing for a “Post-Roe,” “Pro-life” America

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, March 25, 2022:  

Numerous states are preparing for an America where the contentious issue of abortion is properly and constitutionally returned to the states to resolve. Even the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute (named after the former president of Planned Parenthood with which it was once affiliated) is lamenting the expected outcome of the case before the Supreme Court: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

A favorable ruling in Dobbs would not only uphold Mississippi’s 15-week abortion law, but would also likely overturn the court’s finding in Roe v. Wade that a mother somehow has a constitutional right to murder her child while in her womb.

Guttmacher laments:

In 2021, state legislatures set an alarming record of 108 abortion restrictions enacted in 19 states. With the fate of Roe v. Wade hanging in the balance at the U.S. Supreme Court, 2022 is shaping up to be even more devastating for abortion rights….

 

Already, a number of state bills have grabbed headlines for proposing outrageous and shocking abortion restrictions … [and] other restrictions and bans … are moving quickly through some state legislatures.

At least 12 states have already enacted so-called trigger bans that would instantly prohibit abortion if the high court does in fact overturn Roe and/or returns the issue to the states to resolve.

Lawmakers in Arizona, Florida, and West Virginia have adopted, or are about to adopt, laws similar to Mississippi’s. Idaho has adopted one similar to Texas’s “heartbeat” law. Four states — Tennessee, Alabama, and West Virginia — have gone further by amending the state constitutions, declaring that there is “no right to abortion.”

Two other states — Kentucky and Kansas — have constitutional amendments pending voter approval later this year. Iowa will vote on a “no right to an abortion” ballot measure in 2024.

Kansas is a rare situation. The state’s supreme court has ruled — as has the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade — that somehow, buried in the Kansas state constitution, there is a right of a mother to murder her unborn child. That has made the Sunflower State a “destination state” for the abortion industry frustrated over abortion restrictions imposed in other states.

So, even if the Supreme Court overturns Roe and returns the issue to the states, the Kansas state supreme court would still allow the murder of the unborn to continue.

The reasoning of the Kansas state supreme court follows that of the high court:

Section 1 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights provides: “All men are possessed of equal and inalienable natural rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

 

We are now asked: Is this declaration of rights more than an idealized aspiration? And, if so, do the substantive rights include a woman’s right to make decisions about her body, including the decision whether to continue her pregnancy?

 

We answer these questions, “Yes.”

Here’s how the Kansas high court came to that conclusion:

Included [in Section 1] is the right of personal autonomy, which includes the ability to control one’s own body, to assert bodily integrity, and to exercise self-determination.

 

This right allows a woman to make her own decisions regarding her body, health, family formation, and family life — decisions that can include whether to continue a pregnancy. Although not absolute, this right is fundamental.

 

Accordingly, the State is prohibited from restricting this right….

This is how a court creates law from the bench — by ignoring the right of the fetus to enjoy the same rights as a post-partum baby. The court ignores the fact that the fetus is a human. Instead, it’s a blob that somehow only gains those rights by being born. Pre-born, it may be discarded.

What’s encouraging in the Kansas case is the grassroots effort to pass an amendment overturning the state high court’s dictum. Said Kansans for Life director Danielle Underwood, “Kansas is in a unique position regardless of what happens at the federal level.” So she, along with the Kansas Catholic Conference and Kansas Family Voice, are mounting an effort to inform Kansans on the issue. And that includes more than 1,000 churches:

We’re mobilizing the largest grassroots effort in Kansas history. We are working through over 1,000 churches in the state and making sure we get the word out to Kansans about what is at stake….

 

Now it is up to the people of Kansas to make sure we do our part to ensure Kansas does not remain a destination state for abortions.

 

This is “all hands on deck.”

Of all institutions that should be supporting the right to life, churches should be leading the way. After all, the Sixth Commandment declares, “You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13).

Christian Middle-school Teacher Sues School Board for Religious Discrimination

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, March 17, 2022:  

A math teacher at Fort Riley (Kansas) Middle School found herself the target of an effort to remove all Biblical references to sexuality in the school last spring. As the school board running the Geary County School District, where her school is located, decided to move toward gender “fluidity,” Pamela Ricard pushed back. A Christian, Ricard refused to call her students by whatever first name they chose and instead continued to call them either “Miss” or “Mister,” depending on their biological sex.

For that she was suspended for three days last April. When negotiations failed to resolve the matter, she sued the board on Monday.

She has enlisted the assistance of Josh Ney, a partner in the Kriegshauser Ney Law Group, who explained the basis for the suit:

Our suit contends that schools cannot force teachers to promote novel views about gender fluidity and ever-expanding pronoun categories without regard to the First Amendment or due process.

 

Throughout her career, Ms. Ricard has consistently treated every student in her classroom with respect and dignity; unfortunately, the school district has not treated Ms. Ricard with similar good faith or basic fairness.

When Ricard was initially disciplined, the board hadn’t completely sold out to the “woke” ideology, so it found her in violation of the district’s “generic” policies related to “diversity and inclusion.”

Later, as the board solidified its stance against the traditional cultural and Biblical understanding of two sexes and two sexes only, it issued its command:

Society has historically utilized “he/him” when identifying biological males and “she/her” when identifying biological females….

 

Employees should be aware and make an effort to utilize the pronouns an individual requests to be identified by.

 

This will assist in the prevention of discrimination and harassment. This appropriate usage of pronouns also contributes to a culture of unity and inclusivity.

Ricard, who has taught math at Fort Riley Middle School since 2005, refused to bend to the shifting winds of morality. Her lawsuit spelled out her position:

Ms. Ricard is a Christian and holds sincere religious beliefs consistent with the traditional Christian and Biblical understanding of the human person and biological sex.

 

Ms. Ricard believes that God created human beings as either male or female, that this sex is fixed in each person from the moment of conception, and that it cannot be changed, regardless of an individual person’s feelings, desires, or preferences.

 

Any policy that requires Ms. Ricard to refer to a student by a gendered, non-binary, or plural pronoun (e.g., he/him, she/her, they/them, zhe/zher, etc.) or salutation (Mr., Miss, Ms.) or other gendered language that is different from the student’s biological sex actively violates Ms. Ricard’s religious beliefs.

Her suit deplores any requirement that she take a position counter to her faith, for a culture that shifts with each change in the wind and weather:

Under District policies, all teachers must now refer to each student — both in and out of class — using whatever names or pronouns the student claims reflect his or her particular gender identity on any given day.

 

The District now demands this of Ms. Ricard even though the concept of gender identity is entirely subjective and fluid, even though the number of potential gender identities is infinite (with ever expanding options currently available), and even though the number of potential pronouns has likewise exponentially multiplied in recent years — all for the purpose of lending credence to cultural ideas Ms. Ricard does not share or wish to advance that are contrary to her core religious beliefs.

The policies promoted by the school board are bad enough. To require that a Christian adopt them, under pain of punishment, is worse:

Defendants have retaliated against Ms. Ricard for exercising her First Amendment rights, including her right not be compelled to engage in particular speech or expression, have violated her First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion, have violated the unconstitutional conditions doctrine, have deprived her of due process and equal protection of law, and have breached their contract with her.

 

Thus, this action concerns the denial of Ms. Ricard’s fundamental and clearly established rights under the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment, the unconstitutional conditions doctrine, and the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

As Ricard herself said, “No public school teacher should be forced to contradict [his or her] core beliefs in order to teach math to middle schoolers. I treat all students with respect, but the district has rejected any attempts to find a compromise that respects students without violating my convictions.”

This is a skirmish in the larger war against the cultural foundations of the American Republic. At bottom, that war revolves around this question: “Is the Bible the Word of God and the rule for His creation, or isn’t it?” As Scripture Itself says, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3).

In Pamela Ricard’s case, she can sue. And so, she is.

Second-grader Chastised for Preaching the Gospel to her Classmates

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, March 9, 2022:  

A second-grade student attending North Hill Elementary School in Des Moines, Washington, has been sent to the principal’s office 10 times since the first of the year for witnessing to her classmates on the school’s playground.

When the parents contacted the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), the public-interest law firm sent a letter to the principal reminding him of the student’s First Amendment-protected rights, and suggesting that unless the harassment stopped they would be filing suit.

The principal responded by telling ACLJ that the student was scaring her classmates with talks of Satan and hell. She offered religious tracts which some of her classmates took home with them, resulting, as the public-relations officer for the school district told CBN News, in “Multiple parents complain[ing] about their children coming home with religious pamphlets.”

The PR officer filled in the blanks: During playtime the student would stand on a playground table and preach the Gospel. School officials told her she couldn’t “tell other children they’re going to hell and that [she] must stop distributing what the school considers to be unacceptable religious materials.”

The principal said she would be allowed to distribute religious materials but only if the staff decides they’re appropriate.

The ACLJ was astonished after learning from the parents that their daughter was being stopped at the schoolhouse door and having her backpack searched for those “unacceptable religious materials”:

We were astonished when we were first contacted by a second-grade student’s parents who said their little girl had been sent to the principal’s office at North Hill Elementary School no less than 10 times since January 1st for witnessing to classmates on the playground.

 

But it only gets worse. Not only were they scolding her for talking about Jesus to her classmates outside of instruction time, but they were stopping her at the entrance to the school every morning to inspect her backpack and remove any Christian tracts!

 

Her mother witnessed this exchange one morning when dropping her daughter off and immediately confronted the principal. The principal told her that her child is not allowed to pass out tracts or crosses to students because it is upsetting parents, and the school wanted her to confirm that there were no tracts in her daughter’s backpack every morning before dropping her off from now on.

 

Christian tracts were being treated as contraband, as if speaking about Jesus were an illicit drug.

The ACLJ is prepared to defend the student if the school doesn’t back down, declaring that Supreme Court precedent supports her right to share the Gospel with her classmates:

It is well-settled Supreme Court precedent that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969). [Under that ruling] students are free to express their religious views while at school, which includes sharing Bibles, Christian tracts, and crosses.

Since 1969, Tinker has often been cited in cases such as this one. Although the court at the time of the ruling was considered one of the most liberal in judicial history, the majority opinion, penned by Justice Abe Fortas, is comforting:

First Amendment rights … are available to teachers and students. It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.

 

This has been the unmistakable holding of this Court for almost 50 years.

In this constitutional republic, wrote Fortas, freedoms come with certain inevitable risks. The alternative is tyranny where no expression outside of what the state declares is allowed:

In our system, undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression.

 

Any departure from absolute regimentation may cause trouble.

 

Any variation from the majority’s opinion may inspire fear.

 

Any word spoken, in class, in the lunchroom, or on the campus, that deviates from the views of another person may start an argument or cause a disturbance.

 

But our Constitution says we must take this risk … and our history says that it is this sort of hazardous freedom — this kind of openness — that is the basis of our national strength and of the independence and vigor of Americans who grow up and live in this relatively permissive, often disputatious, society.

If the Highline School District, where North Hill Elementary School is located, decides to accept ACLJ’s challenge, it will have to show that the student’s behavior “materially and substantially interfere[s] with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school,” according to the Tinker ruling.

ACLJ has given the school district until March 14 to respond. The New American will report on any developments in the case.

Supreme Court to Hear Colorado Web Designer’s Free-speech Lawsuit

This article was published by TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, February 24, 2022:  

Not long after Colorado passed its anti-discrimination law (the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, or CADA) the state’s civil rights commission — staffed with hard-core liberals — saw an opportunity to weaponize the law against anyone holding traditional views of human sexuality, and they took it.

Colorado web developer Lorie Smith saw the imminent threat from the commission to her business and filed a pre-emptive suit, claiming that the law, if enforced by the commission, would violate her First Amendment-protected rights. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court accepted the case on appeal after lower courts decided the law was enforceable.

Lawyers from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) crafted the question the court will answer:

Artist Lorie Smith is a website designer who creates original, online content consistent with her faith. She plans to (1) design wedding websites promoting her understanding of marriage, and (2) post a statement explaining that she can only speak messages consistent with her faith.

 

But the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) requires her to create custom websites celebrating same-sex marriage and prohibits her statement….

 

The Tenth Circuit … astonishingly concluded that the government [the commission] may, based on content and viewpoint, force Lorie to convey messages that violate her religious beliefs and restrict her from explaining her faith.

Specifically, the high court will be answering this key question: “Whether applying a public-accommodation law to compel an artist to speak or stay silent, contrary to the artist’s sincerely held religious beliefs, violates the Free Speech or Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment [to the United State Constitution].”

This should be a slam dunk for the high court. Nowhere in the Constitution are gay rights guaranteed, but rights of free speech, free exercise of religion, and due process are.

When the high court ruled in a similar case — Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission — it punted. Instead of settling the issue once and for all — that the Constitution overrides states’ efforts to negate it — it held that the commission failed “to act in a manner neutral to religion.” As a result, Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, continues to be harassed by the commission.

Last July, Colorado’s 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Smith cannot refuse to create websites celebrating same-sex marriages. The three-judge panel also ruled that she cannot express her reasons on her business website.

As ADF’s Senior Counsel John Bursch explained, “Lorie Smith is being told that she must speak views she opposes and can’t post about her beliefs on her own business website.”

In other words, by weaponizing CADA, Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission is both denying and compelling her speech to fit its perception of how they want the world to behave.

The ADF said this could be a “landmark” case:

No one should be banished from the marketplace simply for living and speaking consistently with their religious beliefs. This could be a landmark case for the freedom of speech, religious liberty, and artistic freedom. We look forward to representing Lorie before the high court.

On the other hand, the Left is afraid that the Supreme Court will finally do what it should have done in the first place: reaffirm the First Amendment. Mark Joseph Stern, writing for the far-left Slate, warned that by taking the case under appeal, “the court formally commenced its long-delayed project of dismantling non-discrimination laws that protect LGBTQ people … [the justices] have indicated that they may take a wrecking ball to the edifice of civil rights law, dismantling the constitutional foundations of non-discrimination in public accommodations.”

Stern fears that “if ADF [and Lorie Smith] prevails, the majority could relegate gay people to second-class status under civil rights law.”

This is just plain silly. What he fears is that the Supreme Court will finally come to its senses and declare that LBGTQ individuals have no “special” rights or privileges just because they assume a particular lifestyle.

Stern is correct about one thing: “If a business’ First Amendment rights outweigh the government’s interest in ending discrimination, few non-discrimination laws will be safe from constitutional attack.”

Precisely. Whether the Supreme Court seizes this opportunity to affirm the First Amendment is an open question. Most liberal commentators bemoan the fact that the high court is now ruled by conservatives, 6-3. In reality it’s a draw: three liberals, three conservatives, and three waffles, including Chief Justice John Roberts himself.

Smith is going to have to wait another year and a half to find out, as the high court won’t be hearing arguments on the matter until October, and then rendering its decision in June 2023.

District Judge Stops Air Force’s Persecution of Officer Seeking Religious Exemption From COVID Mandate

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, February 17, 2022: 

In a decision fraught with national implications, a Trump-appointed judge in Georgia ruled on Tuesday that the Air Force cannot continue to pressure a reserve officer into taking the COVID vaccine.

Although technically the ruling affects only the future of a 25-year reservist, the judge’s reasoning lays substantial groundwork for future cases against the religious discrimination currently being applied by all the military services of the United States.

The religious discrimination was blatant, as Tilman Self, a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, noted on the first page of his ruling. The plaintiff’s superior officer, in rejecting her final request for a religious exemption to taking the vaccine, wrote: “Your religious beliefs are sincere, [they’re] just not compatible with military service.”

Although that statement was a single individual’s opinion, it reflected the Air Force’s general view of religion. As Judge Self noted: “When considering the Air Force’s abysmal record regarding religious accommodations requests, it turns out that he was dead on target.”

In his 32-page ruling, Judge Self took considerable pains to expose the hypocrisy and disdain for those holding strong religious beliefs.

First, any claim by the Air Force that it has in place a procedure to process religious exemption requests is a sham, a fraud, a ruse, nothing but “theater”:

Although the Air Force claims to provide a religious accommodation process, it proved to be nothing more than a quixotic quest for Plaintiff because it was [quoting from another judge’s ruling on the same issue] “by all accounts,… theater.” …

 

Despite thousands of requests for religious exemption, the Air Force hadn’t granted a single one of them when Plaintiff filed her Complaint.

The issue is about the Constitution’s Bill of Rights: “Even in a pandemic [wrote Self, quoting still another judge’s ruling on the same issue], the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten.”

Judge Self exposed the Air Force’s blatant disdain for those holding sincere religious objections to taking the vaccine:

As of January 31, 2022, the Air Force hadn’t approved a single religious accommodation request, but it had disapproved 2,787 of them and had another 2,443 requests pending.

Not only was the Air Force not granting any religious exemptions, it was punishing those requesting them:

The Air Force … informed Plaintiff that “any refusal to receive [a] COVID-19 vaccine … may be punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice…” and that “continued refusal will result in involuntary reassignment” … without pay, benefits, or regular responsibilities.

The plaintiff was being “forced to choose between her sincerely held religious beliefs, and her livelihood.” She complained that “the Constitution prohibits Defendants [the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Air Force, and the Surgeon General of the Air Force] from forcing her” to make such a choice.

The judge exposed the Air Force’s deliberate intention to deny religious exemptions to everyone requesting them:

Like every other religious-based request and appeal filtering its way through the Air Force’s accommodation process, it was … rubber-stamped with disapproval and denial.

He reminded the defendants that “constitutional protections remain commandments, not suggestions,” and that he agreed with the plaintiff that they “have violated the Constitution because they essentially forced her to choose between her sincerely held religious beliefs and her livelihood.”

The plaintiff’s attorneys had no defense:

Defendants don’t say much in response to Plaintiff’s arguments that their COVID-19 vaccination requirement substantially burdens the free exercise of her religion. And how could they? Very few scenarios paint a bleaker picture than giving up your livelihood in order to follow your religious beliefs.…

 

Defendants simply don’t explain why they have a compelling interest in Plaintiff being vaccinated while so many other Air Force service members are not [vaccinated].

Judge Self then touched the third rail of the whole business of vaccinating against the COVID-19 virus:

Plaintiff’s natural immunity coupled with other preventive measures begs the question: Does a COVID-19 vaccine really provide more sufficient protection?

 

This is especially curious given the number of people who have been and continue to be infected after becoming fully vaccinated and receiving a booster — including the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Commandant of the Marine Corps.

Additionally, he exposed the Air Force’s hypocrisy and its anti-religion stance:

Defendants’ COVID-19 vaccination requirement allows service members to refuse vaccination for secular reasons while disallowing refusal based on religious reasons…. No matter whether one service member is unvaccinated for a medical reason and another unvaccinated for a religious reason, one thing remains the same for both of these service members — they’re both unvaccinated. In other words, both of these service members pose a “similar hazard” to Defendants’ compelling interest in “stemming the spread of COVID-19” within the military.

He then called out the defendants’ personal hypocrisy in allegedly supporting and defending the Constitution while violating it:

Given “the Nation’s essential commitment to religious freedom [,]” Plaintiff’s harm — a constitutional injury involving her right to freely exercise her religion — is not a mere trivial grievance…. And, what real interest can our military leaders have in furthering a requirement that violates the very document they swore to support and defend?

Stephen Crampton, senior counsel with the Thomas More Society, which assisted the reservist with her complaint, said:

This is a great victory for religious freedom.

 

The Air Force had granted over 1,500 medical exemptions by the time we filed this lawsuit, but not a single religious exemption — not one. After we filed, it suddenly decided to start granting or claiming to grant religious exemptions, albeit only a handful.

 

It is disgraceful how the military in general has disrespected fundamental First Amendment rights.

He then added a hopeful footnote:

We are grateful that the court has restored the Free Exercise rights of this courageous officer and are hopeful that her victory will help to protect the rights of conscientious objectors everywhere.

Judge Halts Persecution of Military Officers for Requesting Religious Vax Exemption

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, February 3, 2022:  

Steven Merryday, U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Florida, has had it with the continuing persecution of military service members requesting religious exemptions from the COVID mandates. He ordered that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and “any anyone acting in concert with him” stop the persecutions of two military officers immediately.

Back in November, he heard a lawsuit from 23 service members complaining that each of their religious-exemption requests had been arbitrarily denied; that they were subject to harassment, intimidation, and threats of losing their positions for even making the requests; and concluded:

The plaintiffs claim the regulations … in reality disguise an unlawful and pervasive policy of the Secretary of Defense and each branch of the armed forces to deny individual consideration of each claim for a religious exemption, to instead “deny them all,” and to punish, possibly by discharge, without exemption or accommodation, those who assert a sincere religious objection and accordingly refuse the vaccine.

He called the process set up by the military services a “ruse” designed to remove anyone claiming a religious exemption from the service:

The claim that the regulations are a ruse becomes … more convincing … that the regulations are, shall we say, insincere and … the less convincing is the argument that the military has a compelling reason not to grant the exemptions and accommodations.

Despite Merryday’s order that each branch of the military report to him every week on how many requests for denials were being made and how they were being handled, it’s clear that those branches have not only failed to comply, but have continued the policy of harassment, intimidation, and threats. These two senior officers were in imminent danger of losing their command positions by refusing to take the vaccine.

In the present case, after hearing of the threats of “undeployment” if the two failed to get the vaccine, Merryday concluded:

The record in this action establishes that the two service members are very likely to prevail on their claim that their respective branch of the military has wrongfully denied a religious exemption from COVID-19 vaccination.

 

The record creates a strong inference that the services are discriminatorily and systematically denying religious exemptions without a meaningful and fair hearing and without the showing required under RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] (while simultaneously granting medical exemptions and permitting unvaccinated persons to continue in service without adverse consequence).

 

One struggles to imagine a wholesome and lawful explanation for the results evidenced in this record. The military is well aware of the frailty of their arguments in defense of their practices.

He wrote that the two service members are likely to prevail in a full-blown trial:

The two … service members face either (1) a most-likely-unlawful deprivation of their accumulated status and standing in the United States military, as well as prospective advancement and benefits, or (2) deprivation of their constitutional and statutory rights to Free Exercise and the statutory right to receive a religious exemption unless the military can meet the statutory burden of proof, which the military has not and likely cannot.

Merryday said the defendants have an extraordinarily weak case supporting the continuing mandates:

On the other hand, the military faces a trivial, if any, prospect of material injury as a result of permitting the service members continued service under the same terms and conditions and with the same privileges and emoluments as currently prevail, especially because the military permits a large group of unvaccinated persons to serve without adverse consequence.

That “large group” includes 234 medical exemptions granted by the Marines and 270 medical exemptions granted by the Navy, providing more proof that those services are deliberately and intentionally targeting believers by denying religious exemptions.

Merryday has given Secretary of Defense Austin until February 11 to conjure a sufficient defense of this blatant and unconstitutional behavior. Otherwise, his ruling will become permanent, affecting every service member holding strong religious convictions against taking the vaccine.

Student Sues High School Principal for Violating His First Amendment Rights to Free Speech and Religion

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, February 2, 2022:  

David Stout, a junior at Plainwell High School in Michigan, was suspended for three days last fall as punishment for expressing his religious beliefs in a private conversation with a friend. When his parents learned about his suspension, and the details behind the school’s action, they enlisted the assistance of the Great Lakes Justice Center.

After reviewing the background, which extends back to April 2021, the attorneys took on the case and filed suit last Thursday, claiming that the school’s principal, assistant principal, and band director all violated Stout’s First Amendment right to express his beliefs:

A foundational core of our Constitutional Republic is that the State cannot punish its citizens for engaging in speech that is protected by the First Amendment.

The 29-page complaint provided the court with all the details. Last April, Stout, a self-proclaimed Christian who is active as a football player and band leader at the school, responded to a question texted to him by a Christian friend about the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality.

From the complaint:

On or about April 28, 2021, Plaintiff [Stout], using his own smartphone, participated in a series of private group chat/text sessions with these friends from school.

 

At one point during this group session, one of these children asked to speak with Plaintiff in a private text.

 

Once Plaintiff began texting with this other child, Plaintiff was surprised that this friend, who was not homosexual, asked Plaintiff’s opinions and beliefs about this other child’s friends “being gay.”

 

Plaintiff stated that the Bible teaches that homosexual conduct is a sin and in the Christian context that God created only two biological genders — man and woman.

 

Plaintiff stated that while homosexual conduct is a sin, however, everyone is a sinner due to freewill choices, and he would pray for them “to repent and follow Jesus.” He also shared that he would extend love toward them because “God commands” it, as “Jesus died on the cross for them and extends His love toward them, and all they have to do is accept it.”

 

Plaintiff continued that “the Bible says at the end of days all will know the truth, every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.”

Stout’s response offended his friend, and the text conversation ended.

However, the next day Stout reached out to his friend in an attempt at reconciliation:

Although Plaintiff felt his friend was “discriminatory, selfish, and unkind,” Plaintiff did not want to lose his friendship. Thus, on April 29, 2021, Plaintiff contacted this child for another private chat/text session.

 

Plaintiff began by expressing that he still held his Christian opinions, but he respected his friend’s opinions as well.

 

Further, Plaintiff did not want to end his friendship with this other student because of a disagreement, and he wanted to respect everyone’s opinions even if they disagreed so they could remain friends.

At no time was this conversation made public. It was private, occurred off campus, and was well within Stout’s First Amendment rights. Said the complaint: “Plaintiff never posted or otherwise distributed any of the content of this private chat/text to any public social media site, to the school, to other band members, to the student body, or to any other person.”

When school officials learned about the conversation (probably from Stout’s “friend”), they called Stout in for several “conversations,” which ultimately led to his being suspended for three days in October.

Following the filing of the complaint on Thursday, Stout’s lawyer, David Kallman, issued a statement to the media:

My client’s religious speech and beliefs should be treated with tolerance and respect. Public schools may not violate the Constitution and enforce a heckler’s veto of student speech.

 

Nothing David did caused any disruption or problem at the school. He has the right to express his opinion in accordance with his sincerely held religious beliefs, without vilification or punishment from the government for holding to those beliefs.

Kallman expanded on the case:

David was suspended for three days last fall for stating his Christian beliefs in a private text conversation and in a hallway at school. He is also being punished for not policing and reporting the inappropriate jokes of fellow students.

 

He was instructed to stop posting his religious comments on all his social media platforms, and was disciplined for the offensive behavior of some other students; something he was unaware of and did not participate in.

 

David is a good student with a clean record. Nothing he did caused a disruption or any problem at the school. He has the right to express his opinion in accordance with his religious beliefs without vilification or punishment from the government.

Kallman’s lawsuit is asking the court to declare the school’s principal, assistant principal, and band director’s “actions … unconstitutional and that [they] violated [Stout’s] fundamental constitutional rights,” and to find “that [they] acted outside the scope of their authority.”

The suit also demands that the school expunge Stout’s school records of any mention of the incident, pay all of his attorney’s fees and court costs, and “grant such other and further relief as is just and appropriate.”

That would include exacting promises from the school’s officials not to punish Stout as retribution during his remaining year for bringing them to task for their unconscionable, illegal, and unconstitutional acts.

White House: J. Michelle Childs Being Considered to Replace Justice Breyer

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, January 31, 2022:  

The White House confirmed on Thursday that one of the nominees being considered to replace Justice Stephen Breyer is present U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs. Childs was nominated to her current position by then-President Barack Obama in 2009 and then nominated by Joe Biden to move to the U.S. Court of Appeals last December.

Biden said he’d been studying the backgrounds of a number of candidates, provided that each of them first fulfill his campaign promise that they be female and black:

While I’ve been studying candidates’ backgrounds and writings, I’ve made no decision except one: the person I will nominate will be someone of extraordinary qualifications, character, experience and integrity, and that person will be the first black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court.

Nothing was said about how she might view the Constitution of the United States, or the historic (and controversial) decision made in 1803 in Marbury v. Madison what the high court’s primary responsibility is, in the words of then-Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall:

The particular phraseology of the Constitution of the United States confirms and strengthens the principle, supposed to be essential to all written Constitutions, that a law repugnant to the Constitution is void, and that courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument. The rule must be discharged.

Nothing was said about any “law repugnant to the Constitution is void” when she responded in 2010 to then-Senator Jeff Sessions’ question during her nomination hearings as to how she would “ensure the fair administration of justice”:

The “fair administration of justice” requires that judges act as fair and impartial arbiters, treat all litigants courteously, assess the particular facts and evidence presented in individual cases, make deliberate and well-reasoned decisions based on established legal precedent, and abide by the judicial canons and ethical standards of conduct.

So, by that light, her decision in Bradacs v. Haley in 2014 was bereft of any concern over the Constitution or its 10th Amendment. Instead, in the lawsuit brought by a lesbian couple who wanted South Carolina to recognize their marriage in the state, she ruled that “valid marriages of same-sex couples entered into in other states or jurisdictions [they were “married” in the District of Columbia in 2013] meet the prerequisites for marriage in the State of South Carolina,” completely ignoring the right of the state, under the 10th Amendment, to make its own such rules and establish its own “prerequisites.”

When the Supreme Court ruled in June 2015 that the case of “marriage” of same-sex couples was now a federal matter and not of the states, then-Justice Antonin Scalia voiced his dissent:

Today’s decree says that my ruler, and the ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court.

 

The opinion … is the furthest extension in fact — and the furthest extension one can even imagine — of the court’s claimed power to create “liberties” that the Constitution and its amendments neglect to mention.

The best any Senator could produce following Biden’s racist and discriminatory selection of Childs as one of the “black and female only” selections he is considering for the high court position was this from Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), who called it “affirmative action”:

The irony is that the Supreme Court is at [this] very time hearing cases about this sort of affirmative action racial discrimination while adding someone who is the beneficiary of this sort of quota.

No matter whom Biden selects, he will further enrage the electorate. The latest poll from ABC News/Ipsos finds that his decision to use race and gender as primary qualifiers for the high post is opposed by more than three out of four of those polled.

YouTube Bans Pastor John MacArthur’s Sermon on Biblical Sexuality and Morality

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, January 24, 2022:  

John MacArthur, senior pastor of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles and founder of his ministry Grace to You, was one of the reported 4,000 pastors who preached last Sunday against Canada’s new law, Bill C-4. For telling the Biblical truth about human sexuality and morality, his sermon was initially banned by YouTube for promoting what it called “hate speech.”

The video was later restored, and can be seen here.

But the threat to free speech remains, and not only for pastors and preachers such as MacArthur. The Canadian law punishes anyone promoting “conversion therapy” to transgenders, homosexuals, and others whom the culture has confused about their sexual identity. The law has teeth: violations could by punished by up to five years in jail.

The anti-Bible culture in Canada is vicious. Pastors who followed God’s word and kept their churches open during the COVID-19 pandemic, violating government mandates, were jailed.

MacArthur and his church felt the bite from secular authorities as well when health “authorities” in Los Angeles County attempted to shut down his church during the pandemic. After a long and costly legal battle, Grace Community Church and MacArthur were vindicated, and the county was forced to reimburse the church for its legal expenses and other costs, to the tune of $800,000. Nevertheless, MacArthur expects the government’s pressure against him to continue in intensity.

In his sermon on January 16, he said:

There is no such thing as transgender. You are either XX or XY, that’s it. God made man male and female. That is determined genetically, that is physiology, that is science, that is reality.… The reality of that lie and deception is so damaging, so destructive, so isolating, so corrupting, that it needs to be confronted.

He was joined in preaching on this theme by thousands of pastors across North America on Sunday, January 16, following the urging by MacArthur and Liberty Coalition Canada to do so.

MacArthur drew inspiration for the title of his sermon, “And Such Were Some of You,” from the apostle Paul’s letter to Christians in Corinth:

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

To the anti-God voices this is anathema. No one must pledge allegiance to any other power but to that of the state. And that’s the real threat from the Canadian law: The business of the church is “conversion” of sinners of every stripe, hue, and color. If they are sinners then they are ripe for conversion, according to the Word of God. If the Canadian law is allowed to stand, and a similar law is implemented in the United States, it’s easy to see how anyone attempting to promote the Christian faith to a non-believer could be subject to sanctions by the state.

As James Coates, the first Canadian pastor to be jailed for keeping his church open during the pandemic, said,

I believe our government is capitalizing on a politically expedient [event] in an effort to further dismantle Western civilization as we know it. To do this, it must outlaw its very foundation, which is rooted in a Judeo-Christian worldview.

Bill C-4 is another brick laid in this effort and is evidence that our government is under the judgment of God.

Those who stand against the state can expect to suffer, added Coates:

As governments seek totalitarian authority over every aspect of society, it’s inevitable that they will persecute any and all who refuse to declare allegiance to the state. As such, unless the tide of totalitarianism is stemmed, Christians can expect persecution to increase.

For proof, YouTube’s banning of Biblical truth from its platform (even though it restored MacArthur’s sermon later) should awaken those who think the attack is only on preachers in Canada protesting an obscure law. It’s a shot across the bow of every one who believes in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and who is urged to take that message of salvation to the world.

As Marty Moore, a Canadian attorney for the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, told Fox News, “This piece of legislation is by the far the most direct attack we’ve seen on freedom of expression and freedom of conscience and religion.” In essence, the law is an attempt to criminalize Christianity.

MacArthur put the matter succinctly:

This notion that you are something other than your biology is a cultural construct intended as an assault on God.

More Than 4,000 North American Pastors Decried Canada’s Latest Attack on Their Free Speech Last Sunday

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, January 21, 2022:  

More than 4,000 pastors in Canada and the United States used their pulpits last Sunday to decry Bill C-4, the Canadian government’s edict declaring “conversion therapy” illegal, with five years in jail for those caught promoting it in any way.

In the bill’s preamble (the bill was rushed through the Canadian Parliament in December with almost no debate before being adopted unanimously), it declared that the traditional view of a person’s sexuality — heterosexuality and the existence of just two sexes, male and female — is a “myth”:

[It’s a] myth that heterosexuality, cisgender [antonym to transgender] identity, and gender expression that conforms to the sex assigned to a person at birth are to be preferred over other sexual orientations.

In other words, Bill C-4 — by government decree — officially declares that God’s word on the matter is a myth, and anyone, not just pastors, who advocates the Biblical view is subject to arrest and jail time.

The language in the bill is so broad that even informal private conversations among citizens over the practice, even if not in the context of promoting it, could indict those citizens for violating the new law.

From the bill:

[Conversion therapy is any kind of counseling designed to] repress or reduce non-heterosexual [i.e., same-sex] attraction or sexual behavior, repress a person’s non-cisgender [i.e., normal] identity, [or] repress or reduce a person’s gender expression that does not confirm to the sex assigned to the person at birth.

Marty Moore, an attorney for the Calgary-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, told Fox News: “This piece of legislation is by far the most direct attack we’ve seen on freedom of expression and freedom of conscience and religion.”

It extends far beyond sermons that may be preached in churches, said Moore:

The teaching and the propagation of those faiths, if it comes into contact with an LGBTQ person, regardless of whether that LGBTQ person is seeking that counseling or not, the propagation and teaching and dissemination of those faiths run the risk of being classified as conversion therapy.

John MacArthur, senior pastor of Grace Community Church located in Los Angeles, supports Liberty Coalition Canada, which called for pastors to protest Bill C-4 nationwide. He said those who dissent from the new law will be those who hold the Bible’s declarations to be superior to those of the Canadian Parliament:

Ultimately, the dissenters — the ones who will not cave in — are going to be those who are faithful to the Bible.

 

That’s what’s already leading to laws made against doing what we [as pastors and believers] are commanded to do in Scripture, which is to confront that sin.

 

And that’s just going to escalate.

 

The fact that [Canada has] identified [such dissent] as a criminal conduct … takes it to a completely different level, because Canadian pastors have been put in jail for just having church services [during the COVID pandemic].

Pastors speaking out against Bill C-4 relied heavily on Scripture references that directly confront the bill’s claims. Tom Ascol, senior pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida, preached from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

 

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Bill C-4’s declaration that the normal Biblical understanding of human sexuality is a “myth” was challenged by Ascol:

There are only two sexes. They are male and female image-bearers of God. God is the One who made Adam, and He made Adam a man. God is the one who made Eve, and He made Eve a woman. And God is the One who made you, and He made you what you are, and what you are is either male or female.

For those whom the culture has deceived, there is hope, added Ascol:

Friend, if you have been deceived — if you have been duped — into thinking you can have Jesus and your sin, hear the words of Jesus. Turn from your sin, and fall before Him today.

Put another way, the only real “conversion therapy” is that offered by the Maker of the universe Himself through the blood of His only Son.

James White, a pastor at Apologia Church in Chandler, Arizona, said it’s going to take courage to stand against the state:

A governmental bureaucrat who comes along and says “That’s what you have to believe” is putting themselves directly against the authority of Christ… and they need to be told that.

 

If, at some point in the future, you, because of your boldness and your committedness to Christ, are brought before a magistrate … then your duty is to look that individual in the eye and say: “Sir, with all due respect to your position, you do not have the authority to contradict the very Word of God that He has preserved for His people down through the ages.”

 

“That Word tells me what is right and wrong. That Word tells me that God created us in His image — male and female. Jesus confirmed that… and if you dare stand against Him, you will stand before Him someday, and you will have no one to intercede for you.”

Pastor James Coates, the first Canadian clergyman to be imprisoned for violating Canada’s COVID edicts by keeping his church open, said Bill C-4 is another attack on the very foundations of the culture:

I believe our government is capitalizing on a politically expedient [event] in an effort to further dismantle Western civilization as we know it. To do this, it must outlaw its very foundation, which is rooted in a Judeo-Christian worldview.

 

Bill C-4 is another brick laid in this effort and is evidence that our government is under the judgment of God.

Those who stand against the state can expect to suffer, added Coates:

As governments seek totalitarian authority over every aspect of society, it’s inevitable that they will persecute any and all who refuse to declare allegiance to the state. As such, unless the tide of totalitarianism is stemmed, Christians can expect persecution to increase.

The attack on Christianity isn’t limited or restricted to Canada. As Pastor John MacArthur said, “If we all stand strong in this conviction together, the governmental forces of evil will be put on notice that divine love and sovereign grace compel us to be faithful to proclaim radical transformation [i.e., the ultimate ‘conversion therapy’] at any cost.”

Boston Appears Likely to Lose in “Christian Flag” Controversy

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, January 20, 2022:  

Following 90 minutes of oral arguments in Shurtleff v. City of Boston on Tuesday, it appeared that the City of Boston lost.

For years Boston has turned one of three flagpoles in front of City Hall into a public forum, allowing flags from many nations and assorted groups to be flown from it. In fact, over the past 12 years the city has granted every one of the 284 requests it has received.

Until 2017. Harold Shurtleff, co-founder of Camp Constitution and former field coordinator for the John Birch Society, asked the city for permission to fly the Christian flag for one hour on September 17 to honor Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. The flag raising was to be accompanied by presentations by local preachers on Boston’s Christian history. The city denied his request.

Shurtleff, with the assistance of Liberty Counsel, a non-profit law firm, filed suit. Lower courts ruled against Shurtleff, claiming that the city had the right to deny permission because the word “Christian” implied endorsement by the city.

The city’s attorney, Doug Hallward-Driemeier, said that “the city, for its own speech, does not want to get into the issue of religion.… It didn’t want to fly a flag that was offered as ‘the Christian flag’ because that wasn’t the message that the city itself wanted to communicate.”

Attorneys for Shurtleff, on the other hand, said that Boston treated the flagpole as a public forum, allowing flags from communist China and communist Cuba, a “gay pride” flag, a “transgender” flag, and even the Turkish flag, which depicts the Islamic star and crescent, to be flown from the flagpole.

Liberal Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan agreed with Liberty First president Mat Staver, saying that banning a religious group from conveying its message in a “transient” (i.e., public) setting open to a variety of speakers and groups violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech.

Hallward-Driemeier admitted that, if the court does in fact rule that the flagpole represents a public forum, then the city has no defense.

Kagan quizzed Staver, asking, “Does the city have to say yes to a Swastika?” He responded affirmatively: “If the city allows a Black Lives Matter flag, then it will probably have to allow a Proud Boys flag. That’s just what the First Amendment requires.”

When Hallward-Driemeier claimed that the city’s “goal is to foster diversity of communities” and “commemorate events or occasions,” Justice Clarence Thomas jumped on it, saying that if Christians are not part of that “diversity” that Boston claims to support, “that’s limited diversity.” Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked rhetorically, “Isn’t celebrating Constitution Day considered an event?”

Even the ACLU came down on Shurtleff’s side. Said David Cole, ACLU’s national director, “When the government opens its public property for private speakers, it has to treat everybody equally. This case is really about private citizens’ access to government property to express themselves. And that access is critical to our ability to speak to each other, to express our views.”

Liberty Counsel’s Staver said afterwards:

This case is so much more significant than a flag.

 

Boston cheated when it opened its flagpole to all applicants and then excluded Christian viewpoints. The city then claimed that the flagpole never [was] a public forum despite its history and express policy.

 

The city’s censorship is clearly unconstitutional, and government cannot censor religious viewpoints.

That is how the Supreme Court is likely to rule when it announces its decision in June.

Coach Gets Second Chance to Defend His Right to Pray in Public After Football Games

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, January 18, 2022:  

For six years, former Bremerton, Washington, high School football coach Joe Kennedy has waited for justice. The Supreme Court initially refused to hear his appeal in 2019 when lower courts ruled in favor of the school district’s firing of him for violating its rules on religious expression. On Friday, the Supreme Court announced it will finally hear arguments in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, with its decision expected by June.

For eight years, Kennedy prayed with his players, both in the locker room before games and immediately afterwards on the 50-yard line. His messages resonated to the point where a majority of the team was praying with him, including players and coaches of the opposing teams.

Things gained momentum and Kennedy eventually started giving motivational speeches after games, invoking Biblical messages.

In 2015, however, an opposing coach decided enough was enough, and, encouraged by the liberal group Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AUSCS), the school district was pressured to order Kennedy to stop the practice. When he refused to stop, he was fired.

With the assistance of First Liberty Institute (FJI), Kennedy filed suit, and over the intervening years lower courts have consistently ruled against him. Kennedy almost gave it up. In an op-ed published by Fox News last year he wrote:

There are days when I want to give up and move on with my life. There are days when I don’t think I can keep fighting this fight.

 

But that’s when I remember the hundreds of times I told my players not to quit, no matter the challenge.

The issue is much larger than whether he can pray in public or not. At issue is the First Amendment’s guarantee that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” By incorporation the 14th Amendment now applies that First Amendment to the states. And AUSCS attorneys have made a nice living litigating the apparent conflict ever since.

If Kennedy is an employee of Bremerton High School, then he doesn’t have First Amendment rights. His utterances are “government speech,” which isn’t protected by the First Amendment. If the Supreme Court upholds the lower courts’ rulings, then freedom of speech for every government employee is threatened.

Wrote Kennedy:

I also think of the thousands of other public school coaches and teachers whose unalienable right to freely exercise their faith in public is at risk if the [lower] courts’ decisions against me are allowed to stand.

As First Liberty attorney and CEO Kelly Shackelford said, “No teacher or coach should lose their job for simply expressing their faith while in public. By taking this important case, the Supreme Court can protect the right of every American to engage in private religious expression, including praying in public, without fear of punishment.”

It’s important to note that the Supreme Court’s initial denial of Kennedy’s appeal occurred while the high court was dominated by liberals. After Trump’s successful appointment of “originalists” who have pledged to follow the Founders’ original intentions in crafting the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, Kennedy’s appeal was granted.

It’s also important to note that Kennedy had the courage in the face of six years of disappointment and court rulings against him to stay in the fight. As Kennedy said in an interview with Fox News:

The First Amendment really means a lot to me. It is really terrible today in America that somebody can be fired just for expressing their faith.

 

So I am just fighting so that no one else ever has to go through this and doesn’t have to choose between their job and their faith.

That’s the type of grit it will take if the Republic is to be saved from tyranny and oppression by those currently controlling the levers of power.

Texas District Court Grants Injunction Against Navy’s COVID-19 Mandate

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, January 4, 2021:  

Judge Reed O’Connor, a George W. Bush appointee to the Northern District Court of Texas (Fort Worth), came down hard on the Navy on Monday. The Navy — and by implication all the U.S. military — has used the COVID-19 pandemic as cover for demanding that no service member may use his religion to exempt himself from taking the vaccine:

The COVID-19 pandemic provides the government no license to abrogate those freedoms.

 

There is no COVID-19 exception to the First Amendment.

He said that the Navy has set up a complex application process that virtually guarantees that any request for religious reasons is automatically denied:

The Navy provides a religious accommodation process, but by all accounts, it is theater.

 

The Navy has not granted a religious exemption to any vaccine in recent memory.

 

It merely rubber stamps each denial.

Not only has the Navy created a policy denying any and every religious exemption request, it also has set up a deliberate and intentional system of sanctions against those who even think about making one:

Plaintiffs are already suffering injury while waiting for the Navy to adjudicate their requests. In some cases, Plaintiffs have suffered injury because they seek religious accommodation.

 

Plaintiffs testify that they have been barred from official and unofficial travel, including for training and treatment for traumatic brain injuries; denied access to non-work activities, like family day; assigned unpleasant schedules and low-level work like cleaning; relieved of leadership duties and denied opportunities for advancement; kicked out of their platoons; and threatened with immediate separation.

He granted a temporary injunction against the Navy continuing its blanket denial of requests for religious reasons, and prohibited the service from sanctioning those who are filing those requests.

The history of the Navy discriminating against service members with strongly held religious beliefs goes back years before the pandemic. But it wasn’t until the Biden administration appointed Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense that it was applied unilaterally and completely.

Austin’s reign began on January 22, 2021, and in August he proclaimed “a vaccine mandate directing all DoD servicemembers to be vaccinated against COVID-19,” wrote O’Connor. The Navy set November 28 as the drop-dead date for all servicemembers to submit to the vaccine or face the “full range” — O’Connor’s words — of disciplinary action.

He quoted the Navy’s interpretation of Austin’s mandate:

[Special Operational] personnel refusing to receive recommended vaccines … based solely on personal or religious beliefs are disqualified.

“Disqualified” means, O’Connor noted, “becoming permanently nondeployable.”

Mike Berry, general counsel for First Liberty Institute which is assisting the 35 Navy Special Warfare servicemembers, including 26 Navy SEALS, in their complaint, celebrated O’Connor’s ruling:

Forcing a service member to choose between their faith and serving their country is abhorrent to the Constitution and America’s values.

 

Punishing SEALs for simply asking for a religious accommodation is purely vindictive and punitive. We’re pleased that the court has acted to protect our brave warriors before more damage is done to our national security.

There are other lawsuits pending, but O’Connor’s ruling is the first one shutting down the Navy’s enforcement of Austin’s mandate. Although there are 35 plaintiffs in the present lawsuit, there are more than 35,000 military service members who have refused the vaccine, many of them facing sanctions for doing so.

As Christians they believe 1) that this world is not their home; and 2) in this world they will face trials, tribulations, and suffering. As Jesus Christ Himself said: “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.
Copyright © 2021 Bob Adelmann