Advancing Religious Liberty

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Posted 10/23/14 at 12:57 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

How Will Same-sex Marriage Impact Your Marriage?

AUTHOR: Denny Burk

NOTE: Denny Burk 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. Get a discount on your ticket here.

If you’ve ever been in a debate with someone about gay marriage, one of the conversation stoppers that proponents often throw out is this: “How does gay marriage hurt traditional marriage?” Or more personally, “How does my gay marriage corrupt your straight marriage?” The thinking goes like this. What two people do in the privacy of their own home ought not concern you, even if they choose to reinvent society’s most basic institution. After all, who are you to judge someone else’s pairing? If some people want to call gay unions a “marriage,” what’s that to you? FULL POST

Posted 10/23/14 at 11:40 AM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Defending Churches: ADF Challenges Government Assaults on Religious Freedom

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

I recently wrote to invite you to enlist your pastor to participate in our seventh annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday, October 5, and your response has been phenomenal. More than 1,800 pastors from all 50 states plus Puerto Rico have participated so far. (Registration and participation are open through Election Day, November 4 – so if your pastor has not yet joined in, please encourage him to do so.)

The event gives pastors the opportunity to exercise their constitutionally protected freedom to engage in religious expression from the pulpit despite an Internal Revenue Service rule known as the Johnson Amendment, which anti-religious groups often use to silence churches by threatening their tax-exempt status.

The great majority of those participating preached sermons relating biblical perspectives on the positions of electoral candidates. They also signed a statement agreeing that the IRS should not control the content of a pastor’s sermon. Hundreds more who didn’t speak from the pulpit on these issues still opted to sign the statement – bringing the total number of pastors in support of pulpit freedom to more than 3,800 since 2008. FULL POST

Posted 10/22/14 at 12:30 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

What Represents America in 2014? High School Students Answer

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Web Writer Marissa Poulson

If you ask a bunch of high school students to collect things that they think represent our culture in this point in time, you have to be prepared for anything.

That’s exactly what the New York Historical Society did in response to the recent opening of the 100-year-old time capsule created by the Lower Wall Street Business Men’s Association in 1914. But these aren’t just any high school students—they’re New York Historical Society interns—young historians.

Their agenda in collecting items for a new time capsule isn’t self-promotion or to establish their place in history like the men of the Lower Wall Street Business Men’s Association, who filled their capsule with “mainly financial records and budgets.” The agenda of these young adults is simply accuracy.

“We’re just trying to tell them how our everyday lives were,” sophomore Youssef Abdelzaher told CBS New York about the contents of the new time capsule. FULL POST

Posted 10/21/14 at 11:26 AM | Alliance Defending Freedom

In America: Houston Officials Subpoena Sermon Notes, Private Communications From Local Pastors

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

I know it’s not something many are willing to believe.

Even for those who generously support the work of Alliance Defending Freedom, who’ve heard our many warnings through the years about the threats posed to religious freedom by those hostile to our faith and those pressing the demands of the homosexual legal and political agenda … it’s hard to believe that certain things can happen in America.

Europe may encroach on its churches, and Christians have long been persecuted in Asia, but this – this is the land of the free. This is a country born out of the burning desire of the Pilgrims and those who came after them to worship freely, to follow God’s voice in their conscience. This is the nation where protections for religious liberty are woven into the very marrow of our Constitution. We put “In God We Trust” on our money. We say “under God” in the Pledge. We sing “God Bless America” at ballgames, for goodness’ sake. How bad can it really get? FULL POST

Posted 10/21/14 at 11:25 AM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Two Ministers Ordered to Perform Same-Sex Wedding Face Jail, Fines

They said it would never happen.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Idaho for all of 2 days, and two ministers already face jail and fines for declining to perform a same-sex wedding ceremony.

Donald and Evelyn Knapp own and operate the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel, a charming chapel in Coeur d’Alene conveniently located across from the county clerk’s office. Couples can get their marriage license at the clerk’s office, cross the street, and get married.

The Knapps, both ordained ministers in their 60s, began operating the wedding chapel in 1989 as a ministry. They perform religious wedding ceremonies, including references to God, the invocation of God’s blessing on the union, brief remarks drawn from the Bible designed to encourage the couple and help them to have a successful marriage, and more. They also provide each couple they marry with a CD that includes two sermons about marriage, and they recommend numerous Christian books on the subject.

Months before voter-approved protections for marriage were struck down in Idaho, city officials warned Donald and Evelyn privately and publicly that if those laws were struck down, a city nondiscrimination ordinance would require them to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies in their privately owned chapel, or they would face the consequences. FULL POST

Posted 10/20/14 at 11:31 AM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Two Ways We Should NOT Respond to the “Redefinition” of Marriage

Same-sex marriage is now legal in Arizona. A ruling today by U.S. District Judge John Sedwick will keep state officials from enforcing a law passed in 1996 and a 2008 constitutional amendment approved by voters that protected marriage as between one man and one woman. Arizona now joins nearly half of the states in the country which have had same-sex marriage imposed upon them by the judiciary and not through the will of the people.

While this news is troubling, there are at least two ways we should NOT respond, because both wrong responses reject three important truths about marriage.

1. Woe is Us!

Don’t mistake me. This is a terrible decision – throwing out 2,000 years of history recognizing marriage as between a man and a woman, disregarding the purpose and role of marriage in society, and prioritizing the sexual desires of adults over giving children the opportunity to grow up with both mom and a dad. “Redefining” marriage will hurt society.

But hand-wringing, an all-is-lost attitude, pointing fingers, blame shifting, getting angry and verbally attacking those who oppose us – these responses do nothing to build up marriage. FULL POST

Posted 10/16/14 at 12:54 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Preaching homosexuality: Four kinds of churches

AUTHOR: Dean Inserra

NOTE: Dean Inserra 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. Get a discount on your ticket here.

I believe there are four types of churches when it comes to preaching on or addressing homosexuality. As culture continues to move toward a “post-gender” mindset, those who wish to expound a biblical worldview that points to the work of Christ will need to be clearer than ever. Unfortunately, those churches are the minority.

Here are four types of churches who take different approaches to addressing this massive cultural shift: FULL POST

Posted 10/16/14 at 12:50 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Houston We Have A Problem…And A Constitution!

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom Social Content Editor Emily Conley

Actually, Houston, we have several problems: The city of Houston passed a law that would allow members of the opposite sex to use each other’s restrooms, in the name of “prohibiting discrimination,” known as HERO (Houston Equal Rights Ordinance). Voters weren’t so thrilled, and responding by petitioning to repeal the ordinance or at least, put it up for a vote. They got over 50,000 signatures, more than three times the required number. The city secretary, (who is entrusted by law to examine and certify petitions) certified them as sufficient.

But the mayor and city attorney defied the law, claimed less than the required number of signatures was valid – and threw out the petition. In response, several petitioners organized a lawsuit.

That didn’t sit too well.

The city attorneys issued subpoenas to five pastors, demanding they turn over any speeches, writings, or sermons on gender identity, homosexuality, or mentioning the mayor, Annise Parker, who identifies as a lesbian. The pastors are not party to the lawsuit. Asking them to turn over their constitutionally protected sermons and other communications simply so the city can see if the pastors have ever opposed or criticized the city, violates the First Amendment. In response to the outrage, the mayor tweeted that if pastors had talked about these political issues, they are “fair game”: FULL POST

Posted 10/16/14 at 12:46 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

3 Reasons Christian Students Will Win

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel David Hacker

It came as a shock to many people recently when they learned that the California State University System was forcing InterVarsity Christian Fellowship off campus because the group refused – justifiably – to abandon its core Christian message. But while InterVarsity’s announcement was news to many, it was only the latest in a decades-long battle for Christian groups at universities nationwide – a battle that students will eventually win if they stand by their convictions.

Here are three things you should know:

Misapplication of university “nondiscrimination” policies are the culprit

Years ago, federal and state governments required universities to adopt policies promising not to discriminate against students based on race, sex, religion, and age, among other things. This was a good thing. For example, it assured students that they would not be denied admission to a college based on their religious beliefs. These policies protected students from discriminatory actions by university administrators. FULL POST

Posted 10/13/14 at 5:58 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

50 Years After Berkeley Days: What Free Speech Looks Like on College Campuses

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Web Writer Marissa Poulson

For many, going to college is a rite of passage. It is the first foray into true adulthood—away from parents. College students are encouraged to learn, to satisfy their curiosity, and to further form the beliefs, ideals, and values that will accompany them through later stages in life.

Or are they?

The New York Times recently ran a piece highlighting the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement, which originated at the University of California, Berkeley, on October 1, 1964. While many believe college campuses have come a long way since then, others know that freedom of speech is not always a right recognized for today’s college students—especially those whose beliefs, ideals, and values differ from those of the majority of professors, administrators, or other campus leaders.

This particular quote was quite telling:

“’What worries me in all this celebration is that we forget what freedom of speech actually means,” said Claire Chiara, the president of the Berkeley Campus Republicans. “No professor ever flat out doesn’t let you voice your opinion,” she said, but when she does, she is accustomed to “feeling uncomfortable,” and professors saying, “That’s one way someone could look at it.’” FULL POST

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