Advancing Religious Liberty
4/25/13 at 07:16 PM 2 Comments

The Ongoing Assault on First Amendment Freedoms

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

Efforts to curtail even your most basic First Amendment protections continue to keep Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys engaged in courtrooms across the country. Two recent attacks are illustrative.

In Hattiesburg, Mississippi, a group of atheists recently warned the mayor that his annual prayer breakfast – which coincides each year with the National Day of Prayer – is a “violation of the Constitution.” That’s simply not true, of course: historically, governors of all 50 states, as well as the president of the United States, have issued proclamations in honor of the National Day of Prayer. There is no legal basis to suggest that mayors or city council members can’t do the same.

Alliance Defending Freedom has encouraged the mayor to continue with the prayer breakfast as planned. Our attorneys point out that “the United States Supreme Court has repeatedly acknowledged that presidential proclamations of thanksgiving and prayer, including the National Day of Prayer, are indeed a part of our culture and tradition and are in no way a violation of the Constitution.”

“Local observances of the National Day of Prayer are constitutional and appropriate,” notes local counsel Sharkey Burke (one of our more than 2,200 Alliance Defending Freedom allied attorneys), “particularly since the event simply provides all Americans an opportunity to pray voluntarily according to their own faith – and does not promote any particular religion or form of religious observance.”

Meanwhile, in Des Moines, Iowa, our attorneys are representing Jacob Dagel, a Christian student at Des Moines Area Community College, who was stopped by a security officer as he politely handed out fliers on campus protesting the use of public college funds for a conference on “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Youth.” The officer informed Dagel that free speech for students is limited to one table in the student center. To secure use of that table, he needed to request permission at least 10 days in advance.

“Colleges should be the marketplace of ideas,” says Senior Legal Counsel David Hacker. “Free speech should not be censored or limited to a ridiculously small area on campus, nor should college students need permission to hand out fliers. The First Amendment protects freedom of speech for all students everywhere on campus, regardless of their religious or political beliefs.” (Allied Attorney Timm W. Reid is serving as local counsel in the case.)

“Free, spontaneous discourse on college campuses is supposed to be a hallmark of higher education, rather than the exception to the rule,” says Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “A permission slip should not be needed every time students wish to express their views on current events of the day.”

Please be in faithful prayer for all of our attorneys and allies, as they diligently defend religious freedoms FOR you and your family in courtrooms coast to coast.

This post originally appeared here.

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