Advancing Religious Liberty

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Posted 10/1/14 at 1:55 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Marriage In America: Working With Allies To Wed Ideas To Action

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom President, CEO, and General Counsel Alan Sears

Even the most casual observer of current trends in American society must be aware that the current cultural and political infatuation with carving out special protections and privileges for those in same-sex relationships has wreaked havoc on the nation’s legal landscape.

Courts, legislatures, and executives nationwide continue to abandon the Constitution and ignore the will of most voters in their blind pursuit of political correctness and in-crowd approval. In just a few short years, same-sex relationships have become a specially protected class unto themselves. The most devastating impact of that overnight transformation has been on marriage, which is being “redefined” with complete contempt not only for its biblical purpose, but for thousands of years of social tradition.

Many believers have been slow to realize the enormity of this threat, and its profound implications for our families, our nation, and our liberty. But realization is setting in, and one indication of how earnestly many Christian leaders are working to bring information, understanding, and direction to people of faith on this issue is the national conference being hosted this month by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention. FULL POST

Posted 9/29/14 at 12:45 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

How to Fix the Johnson Amendment

Pastors today may not remember a time when they could preach on political and social issues without fear of their church losing its tax-exempt, non-profit status.

But the current fear among pastors of preaching about candidates or an election was not always so pervasive.

Since the founding of our country, pastors enjoyed the freedom to speak boldly from their pulpit about the most crucial social and political issues of the day. In 1954, however, the carefully manipulated passage of one outrageous piece of legislation – the Johnson Amendment – profoundly undermined this crucial freedom.

Nearly 60 years later, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) convened a Commission to study, among other things, whether the Johnson Amendment should be amended or repealed.

The Commission was advised by panels of representatives from the non-profit sector, legal experts, and religious leaders.

After studying the issue, the Commission recommended amending the Johnson Amendment to restore the constitutional rights of free speech and free exercise of religion to churches and other non-profit organizations. FULL POST

Posted 9/29/14 at 12:27 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

4 Stories You Need to Know: UN Activities (Including Emma Watson’s Speech), #SYATP, and More

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom Social Content Editor Emily Conley

Here are the stories that caught our attention this week that we think you need to know:

Photo: Georges Biard - Creative Commons

1. The United Nations General Assembly

General Debate began Wednesday. Notable speakers will include President Obama, British Prime Minister Cameron, Palestinian President Abbas, Egyptian President el-Sisi, and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Hot topics are likely to include ISIL (also known as ISIS), Ebola, climate change and the Middle East. Stay tuned for updates about the impact on religious freedom around the world.

2. What You Might Have Missed in Emma Watson’s UN Speech

Speaking of the UN – as you’ve probably already seen, actor Emma Watson gave an impassioned speech on gender equality at a UN event. While her speech has been shared and discussed all over online, some quotes are being swept under the rug. Like when she said: “To date, I’ve seen my father’s role being valued less by society despite my needing his presence as a child as much as my mother’s.”

Somehow, that statement has been mostly ignored, maybe because some would like us to believe it’s just not politically correct to say that children need a mother and a father anymore, as this article by The Daily Signal discusses in depth: “What The Media Totally Ignored in Emma Watson’s Gender Equality Speech.” FULL POST

Posted 9/29/14 at 12:24 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

When Does A Life Lose Its Worth?

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom Marketing Campaign Coordinator Sarah Kramer

As young children, my sister and I often imagined we were “doctors.” Doctors save lives, and we loved taking turns “rescuing” the other from a certain death. To us, doctors were heroes, healers, and protectors of life.

In our innocence, the words “do not resuscitate,” “euthanasia,” and “doctor-assisted death” were not in our vocabulary. As far as we knew, doctors always healed and saved, never taking life.

But for a mother in Maine and a man in Europe, those words are all too familiar.

In Maine, a mother is fighting to get her baby girl the life-sustaining support she needs to recover from alleged abuse by the father. The baby girl had not been expected to live, but after a miraculous turn of events showing the baby may still recover, the mother cancelled a DNR order and decided to fight for her daughter’s life.

Instead of backing up this mother, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services has been opposing her nearly every step of the way, simply because the baby’s medical condition is still “grave.” FULL POST

Posted 9/24/14 at 11:51 AM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Putting It in Writing

Photo: Pixabay - Public Domain

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom President, CEO, and General Counsel Alan Sears

It’s not as “glamorous” or exciting as a showdown in the courtroom, but often the most effective thing our Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys do in their ongoing fight to preserve your family’s religious freedom is “simply” write a letter. A letter, of course, backed up by years of frontline experience on the legal battlefield, made possible by your encouragement and support.

As it turns out, not everyone who opposes religious liberty or tries to silence the free expression of faith is a hard-nosed opponent with an unswerving agenda. Many, many people in positions of authority all over our country are genuinely uninformed when it comes to the Constitution and its clear legal protections … making them easy prey for the intimidations of those like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) who like to browbeat them with ominous threats and “separation of church and state” propaganda.

A great many of these people, reminded of what the Constitution’s Bill of Rights actually says, find the courage and confidence to stand up to these intimidations, and allow free discourse to continue. FULL POST

Posted 9/22/14 at 11:14 AM | Alliance Defending Freedom

4 Stories: No Nike, No Jesus, No Chick-fil-A For You, and More

Photo: Flickr/m01229 - Creative Commons

 AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom Social Content Editor Emily Conley

1. No Nike, No Jesus

Because it’s football season (or as I like to call it, “That Time of Year When All Anyone Talks About in the Break Room Is Fantasy Football,”) it just makes sense to lead with a story about RG3. Yes, he’s injured again. But while most people were focused on his wrapped up ankle during the press conference after the Jacksonville Jaguars’ win, others were more concerned about his shirt.

In fact, between the time RG3 entered the room and when he spoke at the podium, he flipped it wrong-side out so that the message (K[no]w Jesus, K[no]w Peace) couldn’t be read.

The reason? Some at the press conference said he was asked by a uniform inspector to turn it around because it wasn’t Nike, and the NFL rules require him to rep only Nike apparel. Last year, RG3 was fined $10,000 for appearing in a press conference wearing Adidas.

Ok fine. But then, why did fellow player Ryan Kerrigan speak at the podium with his shirt right-side out? FULL POST

Posted 9/17/14 at 12:44 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

A Call to Enlist Pastors in Defense of Religious Freedom

free speech
Photo: Flickr/John Morton - Creative Commons

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom President, CEO, and General Counsel Alan Sears

It is, and has been for 60 years now, a most peculiar and extraordinary point of view: a government established on the principle of religious freedom contending that people who actually exercise religious freedom should not be allowed to discuss their government in a religious setting. Or else.

The notion is patently unconstitutional – and yet it’s been enforced as federal law and has galvanized considerable political activity by the supposedly apolitical Internal Revenue Service. Worse, it’s come to be accepted as gospel by pastors, church leaders, and Christian laity all over the country, who – subjected to this campaign of fear, intimidation, and disinformation – are being compelled to forfeit what could be their best opportunity for impacting an increasingly secular and politically hostile culture.

In 1954, then-Senator Lyndon Johnson ramrodded an amendment through Congress that reversed, overnight, every U.S. legal precedent regarding the government’s relationship with churches. The law he crafted – which passed with perhaps the most cursory examination of any legislation ‘til Obamacare – stated that non-profit tax-exempt entities could not “participate in, or intervene in any political campaign (including the publishing or distributing of statements) on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.” FULL POST

Posted 9/11/14 at 11:15 AM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Is Same-sex Parenting Better for Kids?

Photo: Pixabay - Public Domain


AUTHOR: Senior Fellow at the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture Mark Regnerus

NOTE: Mark Regnerus will be one of the speakers at the ERLC National Conference: “The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage.” The conference is designed to equip Christians to apply the gospel on these issues with convictional kindness in their communities, their families and their churches. This event will be held at the iconic Opryland Hotel on October 27-29, 2014.

Imagine if evangelical sociologists set out to document how the children of evangelical Christian parents fare in life. Imagine that they begin their effort by recruiting parents of children who attend Sunday School classes at places like Wheaton Bible Church outside Chicago and Saddleback Community Church in Orange County, Calif.—both located in prosperous communities with above-average social capital and support for families, children, and faith. They choose this approach because churchgoing, self-identified evangelicals with children under age 18 comprise less than three percent of the population of American adults (this is true), and the researchers figure it will be easier to recruit participants than to evaluate those who might show up randomly in a population-based sample. They know a random sample is best, but they cite “cost constraints” and “difficult research constraints” in justifying their decision to use a convenience sample. FULL POST

Posted 9/10/14 at 12:03 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Political Sermons In American History

American pastors have historically addressed politics from the pulpit, offering Biblical context to the controversial political issues of the day. In fact, churches often served as a catalyst for change in America – playing a dominant role in the abolition of slavery, for example. It was also not uncommon for pastors to publicly oppose candidates they saw unfit for political office, including presidential candidates such as Thomas Jefferson, William Howard Taft, and Al Smith.

Pastors’ sermons, speeches, and writings on political subjects – such as the following – can be found throughout American history:

Photo: Wikipedia - Public Domain
Charles Finney

On Christians’ Role in Politics

[L]ook well to the characters and qualifications of those you elect and raise to office and places of trust… [L]et the wise counsel of Jethro… be your guide. Choose ye out from among you able men, such as fear God, men of truth and hating covetousness’ [Exodus 18:21] and set them to rule over you. – Rev. Matthias Burnett, 1803, Keys to Good Government: According to the Founding Fathers (pg. 21)

The church must take right ground in regard to politics… Politics are a part of a religion is such a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to the country as part of their duty to God… [God] will bless or curse this nation according to the course [Christians] take [in politics]. – Rev. Charles G. Finney, 1835, Keys to Good Government: According to the Founding Fathers (pg. 41) FULL POST

Posted 9/10/14 at 11:59 AM | Alliance Defending Freedom

On Storms and Society

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom Creative Team

You may have heard about the “once in a thousand years” storm that hit our home office earlier this week. If you’ve seen the images on the news you know: it was surreal.

Highways transformed into rivers, homeowners sandbagging desert dwellings, twenty year olds paddle-boarding in parking lots, cars drowning in dirty water.

It was a mess.

Since we’re headquartered in the sprawling desert city of Phoenix, we rarely get rain. And when we do, it’s practically a cause for celebration. Our weathermen get twinkles in their eyes; a break from the purgatory of blue sky, sunny days.

The irony here wasn’t the storm. Most Phoenicians knew it was coming. What caught us off-guard was just how bad the destruction would be.

Simply put, the average Phoenix resident didn’t see fit to prepare for something they thought was a near-impossibility. Sure something like this could happen in a place like New Orleans, but not in our backyards.

Now we’re exchanging Toyotas for gondolas. FULL POST

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